Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

Happy Thanksgiving!

May your celebration be filled with fun and fellowship!

Happy Holidays!

To all, may your Christmas be merry, may your New Year be happy, and may your holidays be a time to gather and celebrate!


I will be letting the blog rest for a couple weeks. Catch you all next year!

Happy Writing!



Well, it’s here. The festive times. The travel-to-see-family times. The let’s-drive-around-and-look-at-the-lights times (my favorite!). More excuses to procrastinate on my latest project are here!

I made my jelly.jelly-2016 I baked my cookies. I even got my Christmas shopping done. Now I’ve got three days of family stuff to do: the whole Christmas at the in-laws, then Christmas with my siblings, then a day to rest and clean (eek!) before my son’s girlfriend comes to visit.


And still the details on my latest WIP are hovering at the back of my mind like a swarm of gnats. And I’m getting grumpy because I’m not writing.

I tried. Really, I did. But I’m not connecting with the story. It’s really hard to write when you don’t or can’t connect with the story or the characters. I’ve revised the plot again, I’ve reviewed the characters, I’ve solidified the underlying mystery in my head and on paper. It’s terribly frustrating to write when that visceral connection to the story just isn’t happening.

It’s like I’m in a daze.

A holly daze.

Should I even try to keep going with this story? Should I set it aside and work on my fantasy? Should I start on a “next in the series” story with the characters from my other book? Should I just not worry about it and take some more time off from writing?

“No.” The door to my writing office sweeps open and then slams shut as my Muse enters like a force of Nature. He storms across the office, grabs at a shadow in a corner, and yanks a Dementor-like shade into the light. The tendons in the back of his hand and his bare forearm stand against his skin as he squeezes.

My writer’s doubt fades into smoke and vanishes.

Then he turns to me, blue eyes vibrant.


He’s got the whole Indiana Jones thing going on–wait, no fedora or bullwhip, just faded jeans and that burgundy henley shirt I love, sleeves shoved to his elbows. Add in a Harrison Ford-esque scowl, and that pretty much sums it up.

“What?” I ask, even though I think I know.

“Really, love? You have to ask?” He shakes his head and plants his hands on his hips. “You did see your writer’s doubt, didn’t you?”

“Not until you did that.” I gesture to the corner. “Where have you been?”

Now he shuffles his feet and rubs the back of his neck. “Extended pub crawl.”

“With Mr. E, right? Hey, I get it. Mae’s second Point Pleasant book just came out, and she finished the third. I expected you two to whoop it up. So don’t come steamrolling in here when I think about taking–”

“A break? Seriously? You’ve been ‘taking a break'”–he makes air quotes–“for the past few weeks. You’re done taking a break.”

His Australian accent gets thicker when he’s chewing me out. Don’t tell him, but I have a soft spot for Aussie accents. Not that I get him fired up on purpose.


“Actually, I’ve been waiting for you to get back.” I cross my arms and lean back against the desk. “Do I keep going with my latest WIP, start a new story with Sierra and Quinn, or pull out my fantasy and finish that?”

He stares at me with a look that either means he can’t believe I’m even considering my fantasy or he can’t believe I’m actually asking his opinion.

He mirrors me, crossing his arms on his broad chest. “Have you heard back about your R&R?”

“Not yet. I was hoping I’d hear before Christmas, but maybe she just does things in two-month chunks, in which case I won’t hear back until mid-January. She’s spent some time on the phone with me, so I’m optimistic, but I feel like there would be a lot of interest in that book. I’m thinking about kicking off some queries after the first of the year if I don’t hear from her.”

He narrows his eyes. I feel like a kid who thought she did something good but now isn’t sure. “What do you want to work on, love?”

“That’s the problem. I don’t know. Part of me wants to work with Sierra and Quinn again, but part of me knows I should work on my latest WIP, except I can’t focus on it. It’s like the story needs so much TLC since I dissected it that I don’t want to bother.”

“No fantasy?”

“That’s my fallback if I can’t decide between the others.”

“You don’t think that trying to re-revise for the third time is a problem? Start from scratch, love. Same story, but don’t try to take what you’ve already written. You started fresh with your contemporary fantasy, and it turned out nicely.”

“Still needs lots of work.” This isn’t helping at all. “I don’t want to start from scratch. Everything’s there, I just have to reassemble it.”

“You just have to write. Write some short stories. Write a novella like your writing teacher suggested. Hell, write up a bunch of blog posts ahead of time.” He rests his hands on my shoulders and squeezes. “Write something, love. Anything. Just do it.” A fedora appears on his head. He settles behind my desk with a coiled bullwhip in hand. “No excuses.”

Er, o-kay. Maybe I’ll flip a coin. Maybe I’ll meditate on it.

In any case, may the holidays find you and yours safe, sane, and full of cheer. 😀



Oh, the weather outside …

is frightful. It is. Really. Woke up to another few inches of snow, and it’s still going.

img_0007_cr The weather people predicted another four to eight inches by the time the whole thing is done. At least done snowing. After the snow, the wind is supposed to kick up, and by tomorrow our high daytime temp–not including the wind chill–is supposed to be -5 F. Add the windchill in for a grand low more than -20 F.


Not. It usually doesn’t get this (effing) cold until January.

I don’t have to go anywhere, and the furnace is working. I can write all weekend!!

Except this is the last weekend before Christmas, so I need to get going on my cookie baking and jelly making. With the sheer volume of raspberries this fall from my ragtag patch, I should be able to make a couple batches of jelly. And cookies. I can’t start making them too early or they end up getting eaten. At least this year I can use Nature’s freezer. The last couple years it’s been too warm outside (Shock, right? Minnesota in December above freezing? It’s getting more usual. Global warming and all that.) Try fitting a dozen cookie dozens in the freezer along with the usual freezer stuff. Not easy, which means I had to do all the baking in the couple days before Christmas.

So, I’ll dedicate a few hours to staring at my computer screen and trying to work through the first few scenes in my latest WIP, then I’ll peg some time for jelly-making (it makes great gifts) and cookie-baking. I got a new KitchenAid mixer during Black Friday I’m itching to try out. Should be fun!

Do you have your holiday preparations finished? Presents wrapped? My kids are old enough now that if I don’t get the gifts wrapped, they’re okay with it. Cookies baked? I’ve got four or five (depending on how ambitious I feel and if I have the ingredients) different cookie varieties I make every year, one of which is my dad’s favorite cookie of all time: chocolate chip. I love making them, but he’s diabetic, so I always worry about leaving extra cookies with him. I toss them in the freezer so they’ll maybe last an extra day or two.

Hey, if you don’t get any writing done over the next week or so, don’t sweat it (Pretty hard to sweat when it’s double-digits below zero). If you get a free half-hour, jot down a few story ideas. Work through a scene. Send out a couple queries. Put together a character sketch.

Don’t. Stop. Writing. Give yourself permission to do smaller bits. The best part about family gatherings? Lots of fodder for future stories! Remember that when your sister’s bratty son throws a tantrum when his cousin gets the present he wanted, or when Grandpa’s dentures fall into the figgy pudding.

Not sure if I’ll get a post done next weekend, so if I miss it:

Happy Holidays!


Head Above Water

It’s almost here–the New Year!

I’m still pounding on my WIP. I can see the end, and I’m anxious to get there, but I feel like so many other things need to be done ASAP, like the FAFSA for my son (who graduates this spring from high school), scholarship applications for same, research for broken appliances and vehicles (repair or replace?), writing contest entries, writing conference signup, oh boy.

The cold stalking me (courtesy, I’m sure, of all the little kids I saw over the holidays) is threatening to take me down, but I’m trying to hold it at arm’s length, at least until I get my WIP draft finished. The problem: to fend it off, I need to rest/nap, which equals no writing (haven’t gotten the hang of sleep-writing yet).

So, if I seem a bit withdrawn, no worries. I’m writing. Promise! (note to self: take a few extra days off to finish WIP next time)

Got your list of resolutions for the new year finished? Neither do I. I’ve got a couple things on it, though:

  1. Be more cheerful with family. (I can hear the chorus of “huh”s in the background) I think it started when I was a teen, going through the hormone-driven emotional roller coaster so many of us are familiar with. That lasted until my late twenties, when I had a near-breakdown courtesy of postpartum depression. To compensate for the low lows (I think; I wouldn’t touch a psychology class with a 29.5 foot pole), I try not to go too high emotionally. It’s a bit of a drop to the lows from the highs, so I try to stay in the middle. Not necessarily good for the rest of the family, when Mom is seldom upbeat. I’m aware of it, and just need to be mindful.
  2. Focus on writing. Yes, this has a permanent spot on my list, but I start to slack around the holidays because there just isn’t any time for it with all the holiday-ing, and I get out of the habit. I won’t be able to finish my WIP draft tonight, but I’ve got the weekend and Monday off. And my Muse is prepped with craft beer and chocolate. Look out, words!
  3. Get an agent. Gotta have something somewhat out of my control on here, right? I’ve got high hopes for my WIP, and I’ve gotten some good advice for my current mss, so the plan is to get the WIP draft done, tweak my mss, then back to work my WIP draft into shape by April, when I’ll be attending the Writer’s Institute at UW-Madison. I’m getting closer, judging by a slow rise of interest in my mss this year, including a near-miss for a mentor in Pitch Wars.
  4. Smaller garden, so I have more time to write in the summer. Maybe I should bold this one, and make the font bigger. And highlight it.

Then I started thinking about resolutions, and why we bother when most of the time we forget by Easter just what we resolved. Another writer, who has a great blog about Irish myth and a YA fantasy series based on Irish myth, has a timely post about New Year’s Day and the various stories behind it, including a probable reason we continue to make resolutions. Check it out here: The Ancient Babylonians Invented New Year’s Resolutions. Stay a while and check out Ali’s other posts. My fantasy novel is based on Irish myth, and Ali is a great resource if that’s what you’re interested in.

May you greet 2016 with a whoop and a hollar!

May your writing be better than it was last year.

May your family be blessed with health, happiness, and prosperity.

May your muses continue to inspire you.

Happy New Year everyone!



Happy Holidays!

May your travels be safe.

May your family be sane.

May you enjoy fellowship in your wanderings/gatherings.

May your carols be in-tune.

May you still find time in all the hustle and bustle to WRITE!

Even if it’s a paragraph. Even if it’s a dashed mad rant about your over-affectionate octogenarian relative. Even if it’s a heartfelt thank you. Find time to write.

WRITE. Can you hear me now?

I’ve been slacking the past few days, but in my defense, I got my cookies baked! Now, to guard them against the horde until Christmas Eve, when I have no available freezer space and an unusually warm December in MN.

To all of you and yours: