Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


Musings of Spring (?!) and writing #amrevising

So, last week we had a snowstorm. The past three days we’ve had temps in the 80s–record-setting temps. And guess what the weather wonks are predicting for this weekend. Go ahead, I dare you. Yep, possible snow. And temps in the 40s and 50s. Granted, temps are supposed to be in the 50s at this time of year, but those three days of summer really threw us for a loop.

The outside door to my writing office opens, and a chilly breeze whips around the partial wall protecting the alcove from the full blast. It closes with a snick, and a pair of thuds follow.

Three, two, one …

My Muse appears, his hair plastered to his head, rubbing his hands up and down his arms. He’s wearing charcoal gray lounge pants and a faded black T-shirt with the graphic for AC/DC’s Thunderstruck album stretched across his broad chest. I watch his biceps flex …

“Little chilly, there? Raining out?”

He narrows his eyes.

“Don’t you ever pay attention the weather reports? You could conjour yourself a cup of hot tea, you know.”

“It was in the 80s yesterday.”

I chuckle. “Dude, it’s Minnesota. It ain’t gonna stay warm like that this early in the season. How long have you been my Muse again?”

He disappears around the wall and returns a minute later, pulling a hooded sweatshirt on, this one plain blue and far more boring–and looser–than the T-shirt. “Long enough, love.”

“You stash a sweatshirt in my writing office?”

He pulls a bottle of Schell’s Firebrick lager from the mini-fridge and settles into the other recliner. “It’s Minnesota. You never know when you’ll need it.”

“Smart ass.”

He extends the footrest and leans back in the chair. “I have to congratulate you on getting your revisions for Book 2 done.”

“Why? You didn’t think I would?”

He arches a brow. “I knew you would, love. I just didn’t think–“

“You didn’t think I’d get them done when I said I would. Sheesh.”

“Well, you did have four cats to distract you.”

“Yes, I did, but they didn’t bug me as much as I thought they would.”

He leans his head back and sips his beer. “When are you going to start working on your police procedural again?”

My turn to lean my head back. “I finally got the taxes done, so that’s my next project.”

“What about Book 2?”

“My instructions are to have it beta read … again.” The book has been through two rounds of beta readers already. “I’ve got it out to one reader, and I’ll have another in a day or two.”

He’s quiet for a minute. “You really need to get that procedural done.”

“I’m working on it.” I think he’s got a soft spot for that one because it’s one of the first books he inspired in me. “I’m a third of the way through it. Though by now it’ll take me a few days to figure out where I was and what I was doing with it.” I haven’t looked at that one since I started my third revise and resubmit on Book 2.

“I’ve got a good feeling about it. I think your revisions will do it justice.”

“Thanks.” My critique group also loves it, so that’s something. “Once I’ve got it revised, I’ll work with a writing coach before I send it to my agent.”

My Muse nods. “You should send her Book 2, see what she thinks about your changes since you submitted it as your cornerstone project for your certificate.”

I’ve thought about it. “I’d like to get beta read feedback first, I think.”

“And then?”

“What do you mean, ‘and then’?”

“What are you working on after your police proedural?”

“Not sure.” I might have to flip a coin. “I’ve got the next book in the police procedural series, I need to plot Book 3, and I have that rural Minnesota mystery with the dual timelines. And that doesn’t include the urban fantasy you keep dangling in my brain.”

A grin inches across his face, deepening his dimples. The room heats up. I think it’s the room … “Good. Depends on how long it takes to find a home for Book 2, I suspect.” He bumps up the wattage on his smile.

Yep, the room is definitely getting warmer.

“You do have the second procedural drafted. Tell you what, when we go to the Shire in a month for your writing retreat, let’s work on plotting book 3, but keep that second procedural handy.”

“Provided I can get my revisions for the first one done by then.” Which I will try to do. It’s almost there. Just a few more scene shuffles, and another run through to check continuity.

“Well, then, what are you waiting for, love? Pull out that procedural and let’s get back into it.”

Luckily there’s no way planting the garden early is in the four-week plan, not at the rate the weather is going. The ground is too cold yet, though if temps stay around 60 for the next couple weeks, then inch toward 70, it’s possible I could start planting when I get back from the Shire in mid-May. I’m not going to hold my breath, though.

Hope Spring is being good to you all!

Happy Writing!


It’s still winter … sigh #mnsnow

The latest snowstorm

In case you didn’t hear, or were on vacation someplace warm and tropical, we were hit with a major snowstorm this week. The weather wonks had been warning us for the past week about this whopper of a storm, and advised people to postpone any travel that wasn’t absolutely necessary. Work from home if you can (heh, I always do 🙂 ). Make sure you have enough supplies for a couple of days. On Tuesday afternoon, it started. Schools let out early. Offices closed early. And both stayed closed through Wednesday and Thursday because of snow and wind. Blizzard warnings for Wed afternoon into Thursday. Anywhere from 6 to 20 inches of snow.

Um, yep. We were snowbound for those days. How much snow did we actually get? Hard to say because it all got blown around. Parts of our driveway were clear, other parts had foot-deep drifts. There was a good foot on the deck in the sheltered area. Totals for the closest town I’ve seen, about 40 miles northwest of us, was 18 inches.

And just for fun (or spite) we got to enjoy -15 F Friday morning. Air temp. Windchills closer to -30.

I am so done with winter.

The next storm is winding up on the west coast. The latest forecast for us is rain and snow next week.

Have I mentioned how DONE I am with winter?

“And how much writing did you get done while you were snowbound, love?”

Damn. I look up to find my Muse leaning against the end of the wall separating the alcove from the outside door of my writing office. Sun-bleached hair, baggy cotton pants in a bright paisley pattern, a lightweight sweatshirt, and … Birkenstocks? No socks. Tan. Wow.

“Nothing like rubbing it in. Must be nice to jump into summer Down Under.”

“Well, there sure wasn’t a hell of a lot going on here.”

“Hey, snowstorm.”

“And how is being snowbound for three days any different than you not going anywhere for three days?”

He does have a point. “We were lucky the power didn’t go out, and we got our propane tank filled just before the storm moved in. I’m thankful we were warm and safe.”

“And I’m glad for that, love. Did you use the time wisely?”

Grumble. “As for your question, no, I didn’t get much writing done. I need to work on a few things before I do any more revision–which you weren’t around to help me with. However, I am two-thirds of the way through the third book I’m reading before Left Coast Crime, which is in two and a half weeks. I have two more to read before then. So I’m reading more, writing less.”

He frowns. “I’ll give you a pass. It’s good that you volunteered to moderate that panel. Now you just need to get Book 2 finished so you can tell readers that it’s done and looking for a publisher.”

“I know, I know. I’m still working on the things my agent pointed out. I need to think about ways to handle those concerns in a way that fits the characters.” I narrow my eyes. “I could use some inspiration here, rather than wondering how much surfing you’re getting in.”

“Not as much as you think, love.” He approaches my desk. “I have no current plans to walkabout. Except while you’re at Left Coast Crime.”

Which works, because I don’t do any writing during that time anyway. Too much networking and panel-watching to do. Too much activity to really get creative. “Okay, that’s good.”

“And how much writing are we planning on getting done after the convention?”

I would love to say a lot, but come to think of it, I have a house to try and organize-slash-clean if hubs still plans on our hosting Easter for his family. Ugh. Although I’m thinking not this year; he and his siblings are planning a trip out to CA to finish business for their deceased brother around that time. And I get to cat-sit for my son at his apartment for a week and a half–yippee! 🙂

I’m hoping to get a bunch of writing done while cat-sitting, between petting sessions 😀


“I’ll be more focused after LCC. I want to get at least halfway through my edits before I get to cat-sit.”

He plants hands on his hips and rolls his eyes. “Uh-huh.”

“Hey, I won’t have home distractions at my son’s apartment.”

“You’re still planning on working.”

“Well, yeah. I’m one hundred percent remote, so I can work from there. I just need to figure out how much of my equipment I’ll need to bring besides my computer.”

“And four cats? What was that about no distractions.”

“No home distractions. Besides, you like cats.”

“Not as much as you do.”

“Why? Because they know when you’re around?”

“They don’t seem to understand that I can’t pet them.”

Hmm. Zoey is never interested when he’s around. I wonder if my son’s cats will shadow him.

He plants his hands on my desk and leans in. “Point is, you need to write.”

“I’m well aware, and I’m when I’m not reading, I am working on what-ifs for the revisions.”

We survived the storm and came out the other side mostly unscathed, all except for the foot+ of snow that still needs to be cleared off the deck. I also scheduled my personal spring writing retreat at the Shire–woo-hoo! I’m renting a different cabin again; trying to figure out which one works best for me, although being so isolated is good for my creativity in general. Hopefully it’ll be drier this year, but the way things are going, they’ll probably still have snow on the ground the second weekend in May.

Happy Writing!

Nyx, Tibbers, and Stella


Revise and return of the Muse #amrevising #amediting #MNwinter

I’m sitting in my writing office, my butt in a nice comfy recliner, laptop on my, well, lap. My mouse pointer hovers over the Word document my agent returned to me: Book 2 with her notes.

“G’day, love.”

“Thanks for scaring the shit outta me–not.” I try to slow my pulse. “You couldn’t use the door like usual?”

My Muse leans against the wall separating the alcove from the aforementioned door, arms crossed over his broad chest. He’s wearing wild tie-dyed sweatpants, a baja beach hoodie, and Birkenstocks–with no socks. His skin is burnished, his short blond hair sun-bleached at the edges. His slow smile deepens his dimples. “It’s cold outside.” He lifts a foot. “Forgot my boots.”

“Forgot your boots, my ass. I hope you enjoyed your walkabout in summery Aussie land, cuz it’s supposed to get nice and cold here.”

He chuckles, a deep rolling sound that makes the room feel warmer. Or maybe it’s just me. He grabs a bottle of water from the mini-fridge and settles into the recliner beside me. He smells like the beach, like sun and sand and coconut and ocean. “I did.”

“And I bet you thought about me exactly never.”

He chuckles again. Yep, pretty sure the room’s getting warmer. “Of course I thought about you, love.”

“Oh really? I have a hard time believing you were thinking about anything besides enjoying the sun and surf.”

“You got feedback from your agent on Book 2.”

“Well, if you know that, then you know I have yet another round of revision to do.” Yep, still not quite there. Pacing in the middle. The novelist’s bane.

“You make it sound like the book’s on it’s way into that drawer from which no manuscripts escape.”

“I know it’s not that bad. It just needs some tweaking. And less PDA. And less ho-hum. And more Bullitt car chases.”

“I’m going to have to stop you with that last one, love. No car chases in Book 2. And you already took out most of the PDA. Which is disappointing.”


“But I can see her point.”

“Hey, you’re supposed to be on my side with this.”

He sighs. “I am. But this is your ‘break away from your current publisher’ book, so your agent is right, and you know it.”

My turn to sigh. “I do. But I don’t know how I can step up the pacing in the middle without pulling more words. It’s already down to 81,000 words, which is 10,000 less that Book 1. And there’s the scene of the accident that isn’t. Without that … How do I keep up the tension? That’s part of the ramp-up to the climax.”

My Muse raises a brow. “You’ve already started working on a replacement for that scene.”

Grumble. “Yes, sort of. The replacement doesn’t address my agent’s concern, though. That that particular scene might be one too many for the purpose. My replacement scene would do the same thing, just be more, um …”


I can’t stop an eye roll. “Fine, yes.”

“So, when are you planning on looking at all her comments?”

I hover the mouse pointer over the file. “This weekend. I have homework to do, though. Pulling that neck muscle a few days ago didn’t help, either. I lost two days of work.”

“Yeah, that can be a pain in the neck.”

I give him my best side-eye. “Really? That’s the best you can do?”

He chuckles. “Do you have a deadline for your homework? You know, that really isn’t homework.”

“It is. I need to do it to finish my credit by exam.” I’m starting to think it would have been easier to take the class. Then again, a couple hundred dollars for 4 credits is way better than $1400 and four months of night classes for those same 4 credits. Unless the professor decides my credit for exam submissions aren’t good enough and I’ll have to take the class anyway. That’s the risk, despite the fact I have over a decade of experience to back up my credit by exam request.

“And when do you plan on reading the rest of your agent’s feedback? You talk to her on Tuesday.”

“I know. I’ll read her feedback before then.” And I’ll have to formulate some sort of response or fix for each of her concerns. Some will be easy–less PDA. Some, not so much.

“Don’t worry, love. We’ll figure it out. If nothing else, there’s always a Bullitt car chase.”

And that’s my plan for the weekend. Considering we’ve got arctic air sitting over us for the next week or so, keeping us far below freezing, I’m pretty sure I’ll get it done. Or, mostly done.

Happy Writing, and stay warm!

Kitty throwback: Nyx napping


Timelines, Plotlines, and Muses–oh my! #amediting

Have you ever worked on a book for … ah, years, and then, after you learn more about the craft, gone back to that book and read it? That book that you spent months–years–editing and revising and editing some more, and querying, and editing some more … Yeah, that one.

And after tucking it away for a couple years, you go back and read it, and realize that the elements of the story are all there, but the order of events needs to be shuffled. That timeline you hammered on for years needs to be blown up. Well, okay, just the whole freaking middle of the book, but still. I’ve got things pretty much rearranged, but then there’s the tweaks to the plotline.


The water in my glass on the little end table beside my recliner ripples.

“Seriously?” I call out. “You don’t have to slam the door.”

I hear the rustling of a coat and a pair of thuds before my Muse comes around the wall separating the alcove from the outside door of my writing office. He’s wearing a purple Minnesota Vikings hoodie and black sweatpants, with thick purple socks to round out his outfit. He presses his lips together, lines creasing his forehead, hands planted on his hips.

Um … “What’s with the door slamming?”

He shakes his head before pulling a beer out of the mini-fridge and dropping into the recliner beside me with a sigh. “It’s fecking cold outside and windy.”

“Dude, it’s January in Minnesota. You’re lucky it isn’t below zero.” Actually, we did “enjoy” below zero weather before Christmas. Nothing like Mother Nature reminding us that yes, it really is winter. Like the foot and a half of snow we’ve gotten since November wasn’t enough of a reminder. “I take it you didn’t go ‘Down Under’ over the holidays.” I mean, it’s not like he has to fly on planes or anything. I think it’s like a wormhole.

He swallows some beer. “We call them ‘portals’.”

“Okay. What’s got your undies in a twist?”

He raises a brow. “How many times do you plan on going through that timeline, love, before you settle on the scene order and just write the transitions as you need them?”

“Until I’ve got all the pieces where they should be. I’ve got most of the scenes reorganized. I just need to add a few short scenes, and at least one more vignette.” I’ve got a couple spots I’m still struggling with. How many times should my MCs talk to a supporting character? I’m debating combing two of the scenes. And there are still a couple scenes I’m wondering if I should toss because they are character-development scenes, not necessarily part of the investigation.

“Do you suppose if you do remove those scenes that you could work the character development into other scenes?”


He leans back in the recliner. “You’ve been over this book how many times, love?” He holds up a hand before I can answer. “I think you did the right thing by reorganizing it.”

“You suggested it.”

“Technically I inspired you to reorganize it. And I think it’s a good thing.”

“I hear a ‘but’ coming.”

He pegs me with those intense blue eyes of his. “But you have got to get this project done so you can start on Book 3.”

“I know. My agent hasn’t gotten back to me about Book 2.”

“But when she does, you should start getting the plot together for Book 3.”

“I’m well aware. You’re not planning on going on walkabout, are you?”

He says nothing for a moment. “Tell you what. I’ll be back in a couple days. I need some sun and heat.”

Well, it is the middle of summer in Australia. “I get that. I’ll manage. I’ve got my book dragon.”

“I want you to have this project ready to send to your critique group by the end of the month, love.”

“That’s the plan.”

I’ve got some time; I’m thinking my agent might get back to me on Book 2 by the middle of next month or so. I definitely want to have this project ready for critiquing before then.

Oh, and bonus fun I just learned about today. My son’s girlfriend’s family invited him to go with them on their annual trip to Texas at the end of March. It’ll be a 10-day trip (I think), and they need a cat sitter. Yippee! Since I’m a fully-remote worker, I can work from their apartment. I might have to split cat duties with my daughter, but hey, four cats–at least one cuddly one–is better than one cat who doesn’t sit on laps anymore. So, work during the day, cuddle cats and try to write at night. I’m up for that 🙂

Happy Writing!

PS: I’m having some trouble with lag on WordPress when I write posts. Any suggestions?


Musing NaNo and Beyond #nano2022 #amrevising

I flip out the footrest in one of the recliners in my writing office alcove and open Scrivener to Book 2. It’s gonna take a minute to remind myself where I left off way back at the beginning of November. Oh yeah, that’s right.

The outside door of my office opens with a subdued squeak. A cold draft makes its way around the partition and zeros in on my three-layered stocking feet. My toes remind me they aren’t convinced three pairs of wool-blend socks are enough. A crinkle of a coat and the subdued thuds of a pair of boots herald the appearance of my Muse.

“Well, look at you, love. All back to writing and everything.” He pulls a bottle of water out of the mini-fridge and drops into the recliner beside me. He’s wearing his thick fisherman’s sweater and black sweatpants, and smells like a cozy real-wood fireplace. “Someone might think you’re a real writer.”

“Ha ha, very funny. I gave you a couple days off while I played with that plotting program.”


“It has potential. I have to train myself to use it. I have a 30-day trial, so I can practice with it.” In fact, I started to put my NaNo project into it, since I was having a tough time with the plot. It’s like using index cards, kind of. Scrivener has a similar functionality, but this other program, Plottr, is better in the sense that it’s easier to see different pieces of the story because it’s color-coded. And you can stack “cards” but still see them all. I’ve used index cards in the past, which works, but you need a bit of room (lots of room) to lay everything out.

“It’d be nicer if I worked at an actual desk with an actual second monitor. Then I’d be able to see the plotting screen and Scrivener at the same time.”

My Muse leans back and extends the footrest on his recliner. “Nothing’s stopping you. You’ve already got two monitors set up.”

“That’s for work. I don’t want to use the same space for technical writing and fiction writing.”

“Well, I guess that means you need to work on your son’s bedroom that he isn’t using anymore.”

Uh-huh. The project I’ve been planning to do for the past, let’s see, how many years? “It doesn’t help that my daughter’s overflow is now in that room.”

“Just your daughter’s overflow?”

“Don’t get me started.” My hubs has a tendancy to be a saver of perfectly good or servicable stuff (read: furniture from family members who downsized) that we might need someday. Like during the zombie apocolypse.

He chuckles. “You missed an opportunity when he went out to California.”

“I was on my personal writing retreat. Besides, you don’t have to live with him.” And he doesn’t have to endure the bad mojo that I would when hubs finds out I got rid of his “treasures”. Then there’s all that time I’d have to spend on decluttering when I should be writing. It is on my list, though. Hubs already declared we’re going to host Easter (for the first time since 2018). That will be interesting, because our boomerang daughter won’t be able to move out by then, and all her stuff from school, including her desk, chair, and various storage bin systems are still “stored” in the space where we set up the dining table.

“In any case, I’m back to Book 2, so you’re sticking around, right?”

He pushes the arms of the recliner until the back tilts back. “I’m here for you, love. However, you have to keep up your ‘writing every day’ habit. That’s the deal.”

“That was the whole point of doing NaNo.” I can feel another self-imposed NaNo session on the horizon for Book 3, once I get that story figured out. Maybe I should work with Plottr on that one. Eh, maybe just one practice project at a time for that.

“Good. Now, where were we in Book 2?”

Yes, I finished NaNo with a successful add of 50k words to my project. Granted, a lot of those words were “stream of consciousness” writing to work things out, but that was good. I found a couple things I need to adjust, and actually finished the historical timeline scenes. It’s the modern timeline I’m struggling with. I’ll get there, but I’ve got a couple other projects to work on first.

Have a wonderful writing week!

Throwback – Kitten Nyx cozy napping