Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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Musing craft #amrevising

I open the back door to my writing office, fresh off a walk. I find walking and thinking about whatever I’m writing, whether brainstorming a new story or plotline or pondering revisions, go together well. Even if I might look a little loony if someone decided to watch me walk and talk things through.

“Well, it’s about time you came back, love.” My Muse leans on my desk, sweating bottle of water in hand.

I finish toeing off my shoes before I look up. Oh. My. His tank top–wait, muscle shirt–shows off his sculpted shoulders and biceps. The cargo shorts don’t detract at all–trust me. And he’s got that five o’clock shadow thing going, just at that rougish stage.

He raises a brow.

Oh, yeah. “You know where I was. And I didn’t see you anywhere helping figure out how to strengthen my supporting characters in Book 2.”

“And why do you suppose they aren’t quite ‘there’ yet?”

I make my way past him to the mini-fridge to grab my own water. “I don’t know. That’s the problem. It’s like I want them to be in the background, but they can’t be. Shouldn’t be. They should seem just as real as my MCs.”

“Okay, so why aren’t they?”

I drop into one of the recliners in the alcove and swallow some cool water. It’s the question I’ve been trying to answer since I got feedback from my agent on Book 2. I thought I rounded them out a bit, but apparently not enough. She made good points, and I can see how their characters are lacking. I’m just not entirely sure how to beef them up.

“Julie?”

“I’m thinking.”

He settles into the other recliner. “You’re thinking too hard.”

I can feel him staring at me. “Stop that.”

“You know how to fix it. You agent made good suggestions.”

“Yes, she did.”

“So? What’s the problem?”

I take another sip of water to stall. What is the problem?

“You know what it is, love. Say it.”

Damn it. “I don’t want them to be the focus of the story.”

“Not quite. Try again.”

Fine. “I don’t want them to take attention away from my MC.”

He smiles, the divot in his chin deepening. “She has to share the stage, love. It’s okay for other characters to figure out the mystery.”

“Not if the story belongs to my MC.”

A momentary frown crosses his face. “You’re right, not figure it out, but they have a stake in solving the mystery.”

“They do, but their actions are limited to pushing for answers, not digging around for them. That’s the job of my MCs.”

“Okay, so how can they do more pushing for answers? And remember, they have insights, too.” He finishes his water and tosses the bottle into the “Recycle” bin. “I can bring them over for a chat.”

“Not necessary.” I consider what he’s saying. They have insights …

My Muse grins. “There you go, love. I knew you’d figure it out.”

“Maybe, but will that be enough to fix the character issues? If they push to poke around for themselves, but my MC discourages them–to keep them safe?”

“You won’t know until you try.”

That’s the struggle, isn’t it? This is my first “book 2” (I do have a sequel drafted for my police procedural, but that’s a different formula because the MCs jobs are to solve the crime). I think part of the challenge is keeping in mind that readers may not have read the first book, so as the author you have to introduce the MCs again, and let the reader know the MCs nuances and stuff. I think that’s part of the reason I resist giving the secondary characters more of the story. I want the story to be about my MCs, but they aren’t in the story by themselves; the other characters need to be just as real to the readers, not just character actors from General Casting.

So, back to the revision board. And maybe my Muse has the right idea about bringing the characters over for a chat. We’ll see. I’ve got to look through my agent’s feedback in depth this weekend (I’ve already skimmed it) and keep this convo with my Muse in mind.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!


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10th Anniversary — Back at the Inn #crystalriverbb #amwriting

Another wonderful reunion!

I find a spot in the glider in the morning, before the sun heats everything up. Okay, it’s before breakfast, none of my Writing Sisters are up, and it’s peaceful, listening to the river. We’ve been spending some time just enjoying being here for another year. Listening to the river in the quiet of the morning is one of the best parts.

The glider creaks as a weight settles beside me and sets the glider in motion. “Enjoying your stay, love?” My Muse rests an arm on the back of the glider behind me.

“Always.” I indicate the new addition to the options for hanging out by the river.

“I noticed you’ve been taking advantage of the hammock. You were out here yesterday when my Sisters wrote my novella for me, weren’t you? And I’m sure you didn’t encourage them at all,” I add with a huge dose of sarcasm.

He leans toward me. “It’s good for you. Besides, it’ll be a great novella.”

I can’t hold back a sigh. “Yes, it will be. And when am I supposed to work on this novella? I want to get Book 3 brainstormed and put together a timeline before NaNo this year. Besides, I’m sure that’ll be the next request from my agent. Oh, and that’s besides getting my police procedural shaped up. And you’re not helping with the whole urban fantasy project, which you know damn well I can’t focus on until I get through the procedural, my rural mystery, and Book 3.”

He shifts his arm to my shoulders and slides closer. His chuckle vibrates through him. “You’ve been receptive the past few weeks. I’m just making sure you’ve got enough creative energy to get some stuff finished.”

“Uh-huh. I don’t think creative energy is the problem at this point. It’s time. Can you slow down time so I can finish all these projects I have going?”

“I’m good, love, but that’s out of my jurisdiction.”

“Meaning, you could, but you don’t have permission?”

He hesitates for a long while. The gurgle of the river fills the quiet morning air. “I can’t slow down actual time. I can just make it feel like you have the time.”

“Oh, like when I’m on a roll and before I know it three hours have passed and I’ve written 5,000 words? When I’m so focused on writing that I don’t pay attention to anything else?”

“Exactly.”

Which is good, because that’s when I’m most productive, but it doesn’t put the rest of the stuff I need to get done on hold. I just have less time to do the other stuff.

We’ve been having a wonderful reunion retreat again this year. I always get so inspired when we gather. Time to get back to writing!

Have a wonderful writing week, everyone!


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Summer of a-Muse-ment #amrevising #amreading

“You’re hovering.”

“I’m here, love.”

I push back from my desk in my writing office and narrowly miss my Muse’s toes. “I know, and I appreciate it, but you are hovering.” I plant a hand on his solid–oh, yes, broad and solid–chest and push him back so I don’t crack my head into his chin. “Give me some space. Sheesh. Why are you hovering?”

A crooked grin eases onto his face, giving his dimple an excuse to appear. “Because you are riding a surge of creative energy, and I want to make sure you take advantage of it.”

He rests a hip on the corner of my desk. Today he’s got a beach bum theme going: blue board shorts, flip-flops, and a tank top sporting a hand flashing the universal “hang loose” sign. He smells like the ocean, sand and sun and coconut tanning lotion. His skin is burnished bronze, and his hair is sun-bleached on the edges. I suspect he spent some time enjoying wind and waves while I visited with my family last weekend.

“Uh-huh.” I brush past him and try to ignore the rising temperature of the room. Or is it just me? Or maybe it’s the upper-eighties temps outside–naw, the air conditioning is working pretty well. Must be one of those fabled “hot flashes”.

Yeah, let’s go with that. Wait, that means I’m, ah, …

My Muse chuckles, a deep, baritone rumbling that raises the room temp even more. “You’re only as old as you think you are.”

Dang, it’s hot in here. I focus my next steps on crossing the office to grab water from the mini-fridge. The fewer times I stumble when he’s around, the less chance his ego has to take center stage. “I want to get my revisions done and sent back to my agent by the end of the month, before the reunion.”

“You’ll have them done,” he assures me, “unless you get distracted.”

I swallow a quarter of the bottle of water before I turn toward him. “I’m really trying not to get distracted, but we have my hubby’s nephew’s wedding out in Virginia at the end of September, and oh, my god, trying to figure out the best”–and cheapest–“way to get there and back is like falling into an internet rabbit hole.” I think we spent three hours last night (on top of the three hours I spent last week putting together a spreadsheet of flights and prices for Hubs (because he likes to see everything written down; I’ve known him for over 30 years, so yes, I spent the time)) trying to determine the best way to get around out there. The Metro Lines? Do we have to rent a car? Which Metro stations have parking? When should we sightsee? When are we flying out? Which airport is better? Oh. My. Gawd. This is one reason I hate traveling.

“That’s not your only distraction, love. You have creative distractions.”

“No thanks to you.” It seems I’m riding a surge of creative energy right now, but I have to put any thoughts about next projects aside until my revision is done, which is frustrating in a lot of ways. Man, I need a writing sabbatical in a little cabin in the woods.

“You’re welcome.”

“Wait, you’re warning me about creative distractions pulling me away from my revision, and you’re smug about it?”

His grin widens. “You are receptive right now, so yes.”

“Well, put a pin in it for now. I have stuff to do this weekend, like clean and make pickles.” I hate the thought of breaking away from my writing at this point, but real life has to be handled when it has to be handled, and the house won’t clean itself (damn!).

He saunters to me and rests a hand on my shoulder, the scent of coconut tanning lotion surrounding us. “I’ll still be here, love.”

“Well, don’t hover.”

“I can’t make any promises.”

Uff-da. The worst thing about having all the creative energy is not being able to sit down and take advantage of it. Hope you are all staying cool and able to take advantage of your own creative energies.

Happy Writing!


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Of gardens, retreats, and a Muse #amrevising #amwriting

I leave my shoes, complete with a layer of garden mud/dirt on the mat just inside the outside door to my writing office. Then I feel something crawling on my leg. I strip off my garden jeans. Wouldn’t you know it, an effing woodtick. I use my trusty multi-tool pliers to introduce the eight-legged curse to the physics of pressure between stainless steel jaws. Heh. Take that, you little bloodsucker!

Now to find my comfy cotton lounge pants, which I’m pretty sure I tossed onto one of the recliners. Before I take a step, I hear the other door of my office open.

My Muse comes around the wall that separates the alcove from the outside door before I can escape. He arches a brow. I can tell he’s struggling not to smile. “Well, that’s different.” He loses the battle, and his wide grin stops just short of a snicker.

“Shut up and toss me my lounge pants. They should be on the recliner.”

He doesn’t move, just stares at me with a shit-eating grin.

“Fine, I’ll go around the other way.” I can get a clean T-shirt while I’m at it. I grab the handle of the door I just came through.

“Hang on, love.” My Muse disappears around the wall into the alcove and reappears a second later with my comfy pants in hand.

“Give.”

He makes a show of looking from my pants to his white T-shirt with its graphic of a surfing koala to me and back. “You know, you are as pale as my shirt.”

Well, at least he didn’t mention the fact I haven’t shaved my legs since last fall. “And that surprises you how? I live in Minnesota, and it’s barely summer. Toss me my pants.”

He pitches them to me. I practically jump into them.

“I’m sure there’s a good story behind that,” he says. I can hear the laughter in his voice.

“Yes, it was a woodtick. I killed it.” I push past him and grab my laptop off my desk before I settle into a recliner. “By the way, where have you been?”

He grabs two bottles of water from the mini-fridge and hands one to me as he settles into the other recliner. “Around. When are you going back to that cute little cabin?”

“Not until October. Glad you liked it.” It was definitely a good few days. No distractions except those of my own making (and with lousy internet, fewer of those). No TV all day long, no news, no work, no trying to focus when there’s all the other stuff to do, like clean, and procrastinate cleaning.

“Hmm. You should go back before then.”

“Can’t. Besides, it’ll be way busier over the summer.”

“Bummer. You’re about due to go back to Book 2, aren’t you?”

“Yes.” I’d like to spend more time on my police procedural, though. Sort of. I got the scenes rearranged, and I’m on the first run through them to make sure all the events that I rearranged are now in the proper sequence. I feel like I’ve lost some of the voice, though. I’ll have to focus on that on the next round.

“Tell you what, love. Give the procedural one more week, then get Book 2 done.”

“That’s the plan. I still have to figure out how to cut 10,000 words.” Ten thousand words? I almost–almost–forgot about that.

“And don’t forget about those novellas.”

“I haven’t.” I can’t work on those until I get Book 2 revised and sent back to my agent. “You aren’t planning on disappearing for a pub crawl or anything are you?”

He winks at me, dimples deep in his cheeks with his sly smile. “No plans, love, but I haven’t seen E for a while.”

Whew, it’s getting warm in here. Better get to work. Hope everyone is doing well, writing well, and staying healthy!

Last week, kitten flashback. Here they are all grown up!


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A taste of … summer? And Musing revisions #amrevising

One day. We are due to experience ONE day of realistic spring/summer temps close to 70 degrees F–well, half a day before the storms move in–before going back to the almost-spring temps in the 40s.

I am so DONE with this not-quite-spring. We’re three-quarters of the way through April; we are usually starting to debate prepping the garden about now. I never plant before mid-May, because in MN we can get a freeze or frost up through Memorial Day. And there was this big bright ball of fire in the sky a couple days ago. Rumor has it they call it “sun”. I went for a short walk, because even though the nice, bright light said, “hey, it’s beautiful out here”, the breeze said, “don’t get your hopes up, it’s not going to get very warm.”

It’s been so gloomy the past freaking month I pulled out my SAD therapy light again, after I thought I was done needing it for the season.

“It’s a good excuse to work on your manuscript, love.”

I can’t help rolling my eyes. My Muse drops into the other recliner in the alcove. Today his wardrobe includes navy sweatpants and a long-sleeved T-shirt with a vintage AC/DC album cover on the front. Hell, there’s probably a list of concert appearances from the 80s on the back.

“Yeah. I read through my agent’s comments on Book 2. I have to let them simmer a bit before I come up with any sort of revision plan. That doesn’t mean I like the crap-ass weather we’ve been having. I’d feel a lot better if, you know, it almost felt like spring instead of … whatever this gray, wet, cool, hella-windy stuff is.” Heck, those few days in Albuquerque were the days where I saw the sun for more than a couple hours.

“Besides, if the weather was half-way decent, I could at least go for a walk to help me with my revision plan.”

He flips out the footrest and settles in. “What am I? Chopped liver?”

“No, of course not. But you know as well as I do that walking helps me brainstorm. And when you walk with me, it’s even better.” I just have to remember to bring along something to write down the great ideas I get. I’ll have to check that out on my Apple watch; I think it has a record function.

“I always walk with you, love.”

Actually, he doesn’t, but I don’t need to call him on it. Sometimes he leaves me alone on purpose. I know this because those are the times I do nothing but zone out. I think they call it “walking meditation”.

“Whatever. You need to help me figure out how to strengthen a couple characters in Book 2, and who I need to axe. I have an idea, but I’m not sure how to fix the hole if I get rid of him.”

“Well, get out the brainstorming bucket, love. We’ve got a whole wall we can throw at to see what sticks.”

Hope everyone is doing well, especially those in the path of whatever this week’s flavor of extreme weather is. Which reminds me, I have a friend in AZ I need to check in on.

Stay Calm, beg Spring to stick around, and Keep Writing!