Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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New Year, new determination #amwriting #amrevising

Another new year stretches ahead. Man, last year seemed to fly. Not sure why, but I remember hearing somewhere along the way that time seems to go faster as you get older. Or more scatterbrained.

In retrospect, last year was better than 2020, despite the tenacity of the pandemic. I was able to write again, much to my and my Muse’s relief. I got to see my Writing Sisters in person at our reunion! In-person family gatherings were back on the agenda. I even got to do a couple in-person events!

One of the things I’m thankful for (in hindsight, of course!) is being restructured out of my job. Weird, huh? It forced me to look for a new job, and that led me to my current job, which is so much better than my last one (at least than the last six months of my last one). So thankful! My new job is with a great company with awesome benefits and heck, I even got a nice raise compared to my old job.

Now, it’s look-ahead time. New Year’s resolutions? Eh, I’d rather call them intentions. Or items on my yearly to-do list:

Finish Book 2: Revise according to beta reader suggestions, one more beta round, and off to my agent. Can’t wait!

Finish revising my police procedural: After I sent Book 2 off to betas, I’ve been reworking my police procedural. It’s amazing how much I’ve learned since the last time I worked on it. And I’ve let it sit long enough that I have the perspective to see what I need to cut. Answer: More than I would have two years ago.

In-person events: Of course, this all depends on the pandemic, but I’m looking forward to Left Coast Crime (Albuquerque) in April, since the event in San Diego was canceled after the first day due to the pandemic. And Bouchercon will be in Minneapolis this year! As other events come up, I’m hoping to get back to seeing readers again.

Mini-writing retreat: I came close to doing it last year, except I had all that job-hunting to do. This year, I’m planning to head off to a local, erm, not really resort, and not really a BnB, but they have cabins in the woods a person can rent like hotel rooms. After my dad sold the house (I had been going there while he and my uncle went on their cruises), I realized I do need that valuable alone time to focus on writing rather than cleaning, or gardening, or grumbling about how I can’t find quiet with the TV on all day long.

Writerly groups: I’m now the official president of our local Sisters in Crime chapter, so that’ll be interesting. I’m also part of a new critique group for suspense writers, and a group of fellow Sisters in Crime members as an experiment in cross-marketing. Which reminds me, I have newsletters to write and a website to update.

Novellas: I wrote two novellas starring the main characters of my published book over NaNo last year. I need to revise those and maybe use them as a tool (bribe?) for my newsletter peeps. Or stuff them into a drawer. Hmm. Maybe during my mini-writing retreat I can revise them enough so they don’t read like a 5th grader wrote them.

Finish my rural MN mystery: It’s roughly half-finished. Of course, that might get elbowed out by Book 3. Who knows?

Okay, I think my list is long enough. Uff-da. How are you planning to use your new year? More writing? More nature-walks for brainstorming? Fewer hours in the rabbit holes and time-sucks of the internet?

Whatever you choose, may you enjoy good health and an abundance of creative inspiration!

Have a great new year!

Another day, another nap.


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Writer to writer: POV #amwriting

I promised a writing craft post this week, which I haven’t done for a while. See, this is what happens after the garden is done and we get a foot–yes, a FOOT–of snow over the course of one day. No worries on the snow, though. It’s supposed to be close to 50 degrees F this week. It’s just those days until then …

I’ve been doing more reading lately than I have for a long time, trying to clear off some of the entries on my TBR list. Pretty sure I haven’t made a dent, though.

Anyway, I was reading a book a couple weeks back that got me thinking about POV. Raise your hand if you remember the last time you read a book written in 3rd person omniscient. I mean, that was written this century.

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

I haven’t read omniscient for, shoot. Hmm. Agatha Christie? Most books I’ve read are in 3rd limited, 3rd deep, or 1st person. I write in 3rd deep (or try to), and I have written in 1st person, but 3rd omniscient? Tagged onto that is tense. Most books I’ve read are written in past tense (“I dashed up the stairs”, or “He eased around the corner”), a very few in present tense, usually in 1st person present (the Divergent books), rarely in 3rd person present.

I think writers choose POV depending on 1) how comfortable they are writing it, and 2) how deep they want to pull readers into the character(s).

In first person POV the reader gets the story, both the feel and the plot, from only one character, as if they themselves were in the character’s head looking through character’s eyes. Add present tense, like in Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, and the reader experiences the story “in real time”. Even with past tense, the reader is right there in the action. Can’t get any closer than that.

Yes, I know there is 2nd person POV, but you don’t see it much in fiction. I write in 2nd POV for my job as a tech writer. Just sayin’. Moving on …

Third person deep or limited POV takes the reader another step back from the action. It’s like first person without being first person. You’re deep into the character; not looking through their eyes, but pretty close, like you’re in a mind meld with them, but not them. The reader still only knows what that one character thinks and feels. Is third person limited the same? I used to think so, until I read an article about it. There is a difference, but I don’t remember what it is. I think it has to do with how much the narrator pops in to describe or explain things, but don’t quote me.

Then there’s 3rd omniscient, the “god” view. This puts the reader into the story, but not into any one character, so they can see and feel all the action and get the feels of all the characters in the scene without being limited to one POV character. It’s the most “distant” POV. Because of that, I think it would be tough to draw the reader into the story unless it’s a very compelling story. It’s one reason I don’t write it.

So, back to the books. I read Laurie Buchanan’s Indelible. I know Laurie from the Writers’ Institute, so of course she’s on my TBR list. What first struck me is the book is written in 3rd omniscent, present tense. Yes, present tense, which brings the reader closer to the action than past tense. The characters and the plot were intruguing, and even though I knew from the beginning who the bad guy was (omniscient, remember), I cared enough about each character to follow them through an intriguing story that had enough surprises to keep me interested.

Before that, and after that, the books I read were written in 1st person, past tense. A LOT of urban fantasy books are written in 1st person (in fact, I can’t think of any off the top of my head that are not in 1st POV), which is what I’ve been reading a lot of lately. However, I did read Jess Lourey’s Unspeakable Things, written in 1st person, past tense from the viewpoint of an adolescent girl in the 80s. Again, I tried to pay attention to how the book was written, and why the character drew me into the story.

As I was reading each of these books, the writer in me kept asking “why”. What compelled me to keep reading? Why did I feel close to the characters in 3rd omniscient?

With the 3rd omniscient, it was partly the present tense, which brings the reader closer to the story than past tense, and partly the voice. Oh, don’t forget the setting: an idyllic writing retreat in Oregon! If it really exists, I wanna go there!

With the 1st person, it was the POV, but again, the voice. It wasn’t just seeing the setting and story through the POV character’s senses, but the voice of that character, and how she described things, and the secrets she knew but never came out and said (hence, the title, Unspeakable Things).

Voice. That thing we writers always hear, but have a hell of a time trying to define. It’s that something about a writer that lets us recognize an author’s work as theirs rather than someone else’s. We are told we need to “find our voice” in our writing. It’s maddening, because no one ever really tells us how to do that outside of “just keep writing. You’ll develop it”.

So helpful … not. Far be it from me to give anyone advice on finding their voice, because I’m still searching for mine. Anyway, maybe I’ll delve into that a little next time.

Or I’ll bail and make my Muse write the post 🙂

Anyway. Gotta slog through a foot of snow to check on the chickens, so I’ll spare you more ramblings. Just think, in less than two weeks the days start getting longer again! Yay for the Winter Solstice!

Happy Writing!


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Another year, another win! #nanowrimo2021

Another year, another win! Not just having written 50k words in 30 days, but having rebuilt the habit of writing every day.

One of the things I find every year when I do this crazy exercise is the flow and ebb of creativity. Flow first, because it always seems when I start my NaNo journey I take off with a rush of creative energy, but by week 2, that energy starts to ebb, and I find myself writing a lot of inline notes to myself, or more accurately, stream of consciousness writing along the lines of “what if this happened now” or “this sounds stupid, fix it later”.

With the cooler weather, and … oh, heck, it’s the sunset at four freaking o’clock … I haven’t been walking as much as I was back before we turned the clocks back, and before the sun set earlier than six o’clock. Walking really helps with the whole brainstorming process for me. There was a writer some time ago who posted about walking whenever she got stuck … Come to think of it, a LOT of writers walk when they get stuck.

Anyway, I end up doing a lot of brainstorming, or just brain-nothing, when I walk. But now, with the early sunset and working until late afternoon (i.e. after the sun goes down), I’m not getting my daily dose of fresh air, and I’m not getting the benefit of the half-hour or so of “brainwalking”.

So what’s a writer to do? Wait for the winter solstice, for sure (about three weeks and counting!). But I’ve learned that writing longhand is a great way to stoke the creative energies. Of course, writing longhand means the computer doesn’t conveniently count how many words I write.

What does work, though, is writing … er, drafting a project outside of the NaNo window, then transcribing that into the computer as a NaNo project. It’s amazing how many words can come out of a longhand draft. I had started writing one of the novellas this summer, I think, then started it again (cuz I had a better idea, or the first one sucked worse than usual or something along those lines). I knew that novella was going to be one of my NaNo projects.

By the time I transcribed the part I’d drafted (only about the first third to a half of the novella), I’d gotten back into the story, and managed to finish it in a way I had never considered when I started it. Score!

I’m feeling like a real writer again. I mean, I am a real writer, but … you know what I mean. I’m back into the “writing every day” habit (or most every day), and I’m going back to my police procedural to revise that a bit right now. Or maybe my small-town mystery. Or maybe book 3 …

I feel a craft-related post coming up for next week, now that I’ve finished reading a couple books that had me analyzing the way the authors used the craft. Very interesting, and they had me reading as much for gleaning ideas on how to write as much as for the story itself.

Keep on writing!

For you, B! A furry kitty tummy!


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NaNoWriMo prep? #amwriting #nanowrimo

So, I’m looking at the calendar and OMG! ONE WEEK or so until NOV 1 !?

And I have done exactly ZERO prep.

Hmm. This will be my what, 16th NaNo? It’s a tool I use to relearn my “write every day” habit. Every year. I shouldn’t have to reset my writing habit, but real life and all that.

Note to self: think twice about taking another college course. My class has a group project that is taking more time than I anticipated.

Another note to self: What the heck happened to getting up at 4am? Sure, I’m not starting work now until 7:30a, but going back to getting up at 4a would give me a few hours of writing time. Or a couple hours after I get into a morning exercise routine (another note to self). Gotta get up before 5a.

On the bright side, I actually have fresh ideas to work on. Yippee! Okay, not 100% fresh because I’m using current characters rather than brand new characters, but hey, I already know them 🙂

Happy Writing!

Oh boy, here she goes again!


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Hodgepodge #mnsummer #amrevising

wall of colored spatters

This week has been interesting. A little bit of everything going on, from a much-needed couple inches of rain to a farewell to colleagues to smoke. Lots and lots of smoke.

As is the entire western half of the continental US, Minnesota is in a drought, though ours is moderate to severe rather than the West’s extreme. My sister-in-law lives on a lake, and she said the lake is down a good six inches, which makes getting her pontoon to the dock trickier than usual. She likes to take it to the middle of the lake, where she swims every day she can.

We got a couple inches of rain earlier this week, which made my garden rejoice! And the weeds, but we won’t acknowledge them, because they are rude. I mean, growing where they aren’t supposed to, like in the garden, is rude, right?

My youngest turned 21 this week. Wow. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long. It never does, does it? She’s still not sure about the whole adulting thing, so at this point she’s docked at the safe harbor of her childhood home. However, the impending start of rent payments (yes, we will start charging her rent) and the 24/7 presence of Mom and Dad might encourage her to try out adulting again soon, this time away from college. As much as I love having her around, I do miss my empty nest, and all the space that is now occupied by my daughter’s possessions brought back from her apartment.

This week I also bid my colleagues adieu. Of course, I worked furiously to make sure some things were finished before I left, considering I’ve been training my two replacements for the past month or so. Yes, two replacements, new hires to boot (both in the subcontinent on the other side of the world), to do my one job. Part of that is because some of the software I wrote documentation for has been moved to a different department. When I told my brothers I was training my replacements, one of them railed against the idea. I get it. I said the same thing when I would hear about people in the same situation.

Of course, I didn’t know about the bonus that comes with the promise of sticking around to train replacements until it happened to me. Maybe I’m too nice, anyway. I made sure they had all the files and the info they need to try to do my job. Yep, must be that. I’m too nice. Well, it is a decent bonus …

When I headed to the office to turn in my computer (after working from home for the past year and a half), a thick white haze hung over everything. It was like fog, but it didn’t smell like fog. It smelled like forest fires. Smoke from the wildfires in Canada has settled over the state, triggering air quality warnings that were supposed to end yesterday, but are now extended through Tuesday, when the winds shift from the north to the south, blowing all that smoke back to Canada. Ugh. It’s bizarre, to see the hazy smoke and smell it everywhere you go. Needless to say, I haven’t run in the past week or so, first because of the hellish humidity and heat, and second because no one needs to run in air filled with smoke. I feel sorry for all those firefighters who have to breathe in that stuff all the time while fighting those fires.

And on the near horizon, my reunion retreat with my Writing Sisters! Woo-hoo! I can’t wait! Next week I’ll be posting from Wisconsin beside the Crystal River. The delta variant will put a shadow over everything, but we are all fully vaccinated, and we all take precautions. It’ll be a welcome four days of creative energy and focus on writing.

So, a week off, then I start my new job the day after I return from my retreat. I wanted to take that whole week off and not start a new job until the following week, because I always have so much creative energy available after the retreat, but my new job wanted me to start then. Who am I to argue, since it’s the job I really wanted.

As for book 2, I’m on another revision run. After the reunion, I’ll expect I’ll do some additional revision, then I think it’s time to call in some beta readers. After that and revisions based on their feedback, I’ll send my baby off to my agent.

You know that whole thing about the fear of the second book not being as good as the first? Yep, I’m in the thick of that incredible uncertainty. But I have to jump off the high dive at some point. It’s just scary. Very scary.

Stay safe! Stay cool! Write on!