Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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Not a-mused … autumn edition #amwriting #amrevising

colored fallen leaves

I open the door to my writing office, juggling a bowl of cherry tomatoes and a glass of water. Feels like it’s been ages since …

“About fecking time you came back.”

“Damn it!” I chase two tomatoes across the floor while trying not to spill any water. “What the hell?”

My Muse scoops up a third wayward tomato. “That was my next question, love.”

I set my snacks on the desk and reach out for the captured tomato. “Either eat it or give it back.”

He pops it into his mouth and bites down. I imagine the tomato innards squirting into his mouth, and grab one of my own. Man, I love garden tomatoes. Cherry ones are so convenient, like Whoppers only squishier and not chocolate.

Mmm, chocolate. I wonder if I still have any chocolate left from the reunion.

My Muse finishes chewing and takes a swig of my water. He’s wearing his worn-well jeans and burgundy Henley with the sleeves shoved to his elbows. He plants hands on hips, stretching his shirt tight across his broad chest. Did that shirt shrink a little?

“Hey,” he snaps his fingers, “pay attention, love.”

Fine. “What?”

“Just when were you planning on coming back here?”

I raise my arms, encompassing the office. “I’m here, aren’t I?”

“No, when are you coming back here?” He reaches over and taps my head. “You have a revision to finish so you can send it to beta readers.”

“I was working on it earlier this week. I think. Oh hell, I don’t even know what day it is anymore.”

“It’s ‘butt in chair, hands on keyboard’ day,” he says, pointing to the recliners in the alcove.

“Hey, I haven’t been twiddling my thumbs, you know. I finished a beta read for another author, I’m working on a critique due in a couple days, I had a hella amount of instructional videos to watch and take notes on for my class–which reminds me, I have homework to do, and I should probably pay my tuition. I have another writer’s pages to read and critique. And, oh, I do have a full-time job, not to mention the real life family stuff, like helping my husband.”

“Yes, and your point?” He leans toward me and taps my head again. “This is where you need to be.” He points to the recliners again. “I want to see you spend at least an hour a day there. Not checking email …”

“Like I’ve been checking my email,” I mutter under my breath. I’m afraid to check one of my accounts–the number of new emails is probably racing toward a thousand.

My Muse gives me the stink-eye. “Not checking Facebook, not reading all the random articles that pop up on your home page …”

“Okay, okay, I get it. Some of that stuff still needs to be done, you know. Facebook is where our Sisters in Crime chapter communicates with the members. And where I need to share my upcoming book festival.” Speaking of, I’ll probably have to spend a day working on my website with customer service since my design software broke, or redesigning it without the cool software. Ugh. If it comes to that, there goes another day.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to have Book 2 to sell at a book festival?” He grips my shoulder and nails me with stern blue eyes. A shiver runs down my spine. “I’m going to be a hard-ass until you get your writing back into your routine. You’re adjusted to your new work schedule and the garden is almost done. Take your daily walk, run, whatever, but I want no excuses. Got it?”

“Yes, I got it.”

“Good. Grab your computer, sit your ass down, and get to work.”

Now’s probably not the time to tell him about the new idea my writing teacher gave me. He’d have another excuse to be overbearing and grumpy.

Happy upcoming Autumn Equinox! Man, it’s fall already. Take some time to enjoy it before the snow flies (or the rainy season starts. Whatever is the thing in your region).

Dory - just keep writing
Zoey sleeping


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9th annual Writing Sisters Reunion #amwriting #amediting

Crystal River

“Come on. I asked you, and you said you would, and I quote, ‘be happy to write your post’.”

“That was before …”

“Uh-uh. Nope. No excuses. We have an agreement.”

“Not part of my job description, love.”

“It falls under the ‘and other duties as required’ clause.”

I give my writer my best narrowed-eyes look. “On one condition.”

“No conditions. You know damn well I’m trying to be productive, even if it’s being in a critique discussion with the rest of my Writing Sisters.” My writer plants her fists on her hips. “What did you do besides float down the river yesterday?” she asks in a tone of suspicion.

“I relaxed.” And a little recreation, but I’m not inclined to mention that. So what if I got caught up in a game of Frisbee golf? “Besides, you went on an outing, too.”

She narrows her eyes at me and raises a brow. “We went to a historical house-slash-museum.”

I allow an eye-roll. “Because you write historical fiction, right?”

“No, because it was an activity, it was interesting, and what if I do decide to write something historical?” She purses her lips. “C’mon. I work, and you write my blog post. I’m working on my writing.”

Sometimes I can’t resist yanking her chain. “I haven’t seen a whole lot of writing so far, love.”

“You know how this works. We go over everyone’s stuff. Today is my turn. Besides, we always whip up creative energy when we get together. I’ll be charged up by this afternoon when we have our writing time.” She adds a finger wag. “And I’m expecting you to be available, not off on some kayak down the river.”

I have to smile. Gods, I love when she gets fired up like this. It’s a special kind of energy those eight women wind up, even if one of them is connecting through whatever video chat thing they have going. “Of course I’ll be available, love.”

“And you’ll write my blog post?”

I toss an arm around her shoulders. “You know I will, as long as you are working.”

“Great!” She hands me her computer. “Here you go. I’m going to go for a run before breakfast.”

The ladies had a great session yesterday, from what the other muses tell me, so I’m not too worried. I’d better get another game of golf in before they start up today. Keep writing!

Tibbers and Nyx


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Progress? Yeah, we’ll go with that #amediting #amwriting

I open the door to my writing office, glass of ice water in hand, to find the lights on.

Great, he’s here. Wait, let me adjust my brain. Great! He’s here! Yep, that’s better.

I poke my head around the door. Sure enough, my Muse is sitting behind my desk, leaning back in my chair, and focusing on my laptop. The board shorts and tank top I expect to see him in this time of year are absent, replaced by cargo shorts and a T-shirt. His skin is still tan, his blond hair sun-bleached, and his bare feet guarded by leather Birkenstocks (at least he isn’t wearing socks!) He doesn’t react, but I know he knows I’m here.

I ease the door closed behind me.

“It’s about time, love.” He still doesn’t look over at me.

“Aren’t you supposed to be riding waves somewhere south of the equator. Like, Australia? Not that I’m complaining or anything.” I rest a hip on my desk. Nope, not complaining at all. I’m glad he’s here, and not just because of the scenery, although I’d be okay with it if that’s the only reason he’s here. I’d never complain about the opportunity to see that.

He lifts his head, a knowing smile stretching across his face, deepening the divot in his chin and showcasing his dimples. His roguish grin lights his blue eyes. “You can wipe off the drool.”

Damn it. The last thing I need is his ego making itself comfortable. I sip my water instead. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Okay, I can’t stand it. I swipe my hand across my mouth. It’s water. Really. “I need your help, anyway.”

He stands and brushes past me on the way to the mini-fridge. The scent of coconut sun lotion and ocean follows him. He may not be dressed like he’s ready to catch some waves, but he smells like he is. “You need to focus.”

“What do you mean? I’m focused. I’m working through another revision, I have Writing Sisters’ eyes on it, and …”

He retrieves a bottle of water from the fridge. “You do, and that’s good.” He twists the top off and swallows a quarter of it. “But your head–” he points to his own “–is not with the book.”

“Um, you do know I’m trying to find another job, right?”

“Yes. I also know you’re binge-reading that urban fantasy series for the third time, instead of reading the craft books you got over the past year.”

“Hey, blame MM for that. She’s the one who introduced me to Kate Daniels.” Of all the series I’ve read over the years, Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series is the first one I ever felt compelled to turn around and re-read as soon as I finished the last book in the series. I’m still trying to figure out why. I’m leaning toward the character development.

“Uh-huh.” He narrows one eye at me. “You’re not ready to write that urban fantasy, love.”

“Then stop sending me ideas for it.”

“Stop reading urban fantasy and get back on track.”

I fail to stifle a grumble. “Whatever. I don’t know what to send out to my Writing Sisters for this year’s reunion. I want to write a short story, and I have an idea, but I have those other projects …”

He settles into one of the recliners. “Which project do you want to work on next?”

He would have to ask that. “Both of them. My police procedural is finished, but I need to make some adjustments. The rural mystery isn’t finished. I need to work on a short story so I have something to submit to anthologies.”

“Which one do you want to work on, love?”

Honestly, right now I want to get a new job so I can relax a bit. I must be hesitating too long, because he leans forward and rests his elbows on his knees, hands clasped around the bottle.

“Which one have you been thinking the most about lately?”

“Story or characters?”

He shakes his head. “Fine. Characters.”

“My police procedural.” Except I’ve been thinking about the characters in their arcs that occur about six books into the series. I have only the first four books drafted, and only the first one polished (which I have to remodel a bit). “That doesn’t help me. Which project should I send to my Sisters? If I write a short story now, I can revise it a couple times before I have to send it to them. Besides, they’ve already read the police procedural, except for M.”

“Do you really think you can write a short story in time to send it out in two weeks, love?”

“I could if I sat down and wrote it. I’ve already talked through the plot during my walks.”

“Can and actually doing are two different things. You’d have more time to write if you weren’t binge-reading.”

“It’s a mental break.” And damn it, I’m trying to figure out why I like those books so much. I’m pretty sure it’s the characters. Which, come to think of it, is why people keep asking me about my second book with Sierra and Quinn.

“I could share part of the novella.”

An eyebrow arches onto his forehead. “The novella you haven’t written yet?”

“I’ve written part of it.”

He sighs, gets to his feet, and crosses the office to stand in front of me. He lays a hand on my shoulder and squeezes. “You know which one I would choose.”

Yes, I do, if only because one of the characters is modeled after him. It’s the one closest to finished. “You’re really not being very helpful, you know.”

“I am, love. You just don’t see it yet.”

Sigh.

Do you ever struggle with what project to work on next? How do you decide?

Keep on writing!


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Muse-ing “street cred” #amwriting #amrevising

Badge from University of Wisconsin - Madison Writing Certificate: Fiction
Made it!

I straighten the framed certificate of completion for my writing certificate on the wall of my writing office behind my desk. It looks good, if a bit lonely all by itself. Maybe I should frame a picture of my first royalty check to balance it.

“Looks good, love. Congratulations.”

I don’t bother to turn. “Thanks. The book still needs work, though.”

“You knew that before you turned it in.” My Muse is standing on the other side of my desk, arms crossed on his broad chest. His smile reaches his blue eyes. He’s wearing his burgundy henley, sleeves pushed to his elbows, and his worn-well jeans.

“I also thought my writing teacher would only read the first 200 pages. She read the whole thing.”

“And that’s a bad thing why?”

I groan. “The part after page 200 is the part that needs more work than the rest because it’s where I made the most changes over the past two revisions.”

“At least you recognize that, love. It comes with practice.”

“And learning,” I add. “It’s kind of annoying, really.”

His brow arches. “How so?”

“Do you know I’m starting to analyze television shows for storytelling? Just last night Hubs and I were discussing how a new plot thread was introduced into a show, and how it felt like someone just decided that the main storyline wasn’t enough, so they shoehorned a new angle to it. It seemed to me like they just found out the show would be renewed, so they had to add something else to carry it through another season. They didn’t do it very well.”

His smile changed somehow from proud to knowing. “How could they have done it better?”

“A lot of ways. Especially seeding more hints along the way.” I get that they wouldn’t take the effort unless they knew it would pay off or they would need it later, but still, it could have been little things and pretty easy. “At the very least, they could have given a better explanation of something major that happened in the very first episode. That would have been smoother than a character dropping a bombshell reveal out of nowhere.”

His knowing smile broadened.

“What?”

His chuckle rose from deep in his chest. “You are growing as a writer, love. And a storyteller.”

That was kinda the point of going for the writing certificate. “Writer, sure. Storyteller? I can name a dozen people off the top of my head …”

He cuts me off. “You recognize the elements of good storytelling, and you are aware of them in others’ writing as well as your own.”

“Oh gawd. Now you sound like a writing craft book.”

“You are learning. And you are putting what you learn into practice, which is why it took you six …”

“Seven,” I correct.

He sighs. “Seven tries to get your plot right in this manuscript. It’s better than finishing the manuscript with a flawed plot and starting over after three rounds of revision.”

True. “All that writing stuff I’m trying to learn is sinking in.” I look at my writing certificate of completion. It took me over a year, but I’m glad I did it. I just wish they hadn’t cancelled the program. Stupid pandemic.

“To celebrate,” my Muse says as he heads to the mini-fridge, “Beer and chocolate.”

“Wine,” I say, because beer doesn’t go with chocolate as well as wine does, “and better hold off on the chocolate for now. I have another revision to finish. You’re sticking around, right? No celebratory pub crawls with E?”

“Of course, love. I’ll be here.”

I’ll hold off on the next round of revision until after I get the garden in. This weekend is garden weekend, so I should have some pictures for you next week. In the US, enjoy your holiday weekend, and remember those who served our country and fallen.

Happy Memorial Day! Keep on writing!

Zoey sitting outside


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Not A-mused #amwriting #amrevising

I erase an entry on my writer’s to-do list, conveniently written on her wall-sized whiteboard. Hmm. I grab a marker of a different color when the outside door to her writing office swings open, sucking air past me.

I turn to see my writer, eyes wild, storming toward me.

“Hey …”

She cocks her fist and hits me.

She actually hits me. In the shoulder.

“Ow!” Damn, she’s got an arm. That’s gonna sting for a while. “What the bloody hell was that for?”

Hands in fists at her sides, she growls and stomps in a circle. “Damn it!” Another circle, another growl. “Why the fuck didn’t you suggest that earlier?” She hits me again. “Do you have any idea how much stuff I have to change now? I’m four revisions in, I’m supposed to submit the story in a week, and you pull this shit?” She draws her fist back for another go.

I catch her hand this time. “Whoa. Hey. Stop that. Why are you so wound up?”

She wrenches her hand out of mine and shoves me into the board. “You. Oh. My gawd. Arrgh!” She moves to shove me again.

I catch her. Again. This time I pin her arms to her sides. She’s close, and creative energy is pulsing around her. Very un-Muse-like thoughts begin to gather in my head, thoughts that toe an uncrossable line. Damn. I shake them away. “Stop that, love.”

She struggles. Apparently she forgot I’m a Muse; she won’t get loose until I let go.

“You …” She shoots me a glare that I suspect is intended to kill or maim me. “Damn it!” She struggles again. “Let me go.”

“Promise you won’t hit or shove me.”

Another growl. “Yes. Fine. I won’t hit or shove you.”

I release her. “Calm down, love.”

“Really?” She storms in another circle before stopping and stabbing a finger at me. “You.”

“What?”

She throws up her hands. “You know I’ve been struggling with this story for forever, and now–NOW–you suggest the plot item that brings everything together? After four revisions? I planned to turn this in next week. This piece means I’ll have to rewrite a quarter of the book.”

She shoves me into the whiteboard again before I can catch her. A marker falls off the sill. “You could have suggested this a month ago, before I started the fourth round of revision. I could have fixed everything during that go-round and had more time to tweak it before I turn it in.”

Time to redirect her into something productive. “Your writing teacher isn’t going to dock you points if you turn it in a week later.” I point to a recliner in the corner, where her laptop is waiting. “Get started.”

“Fine.” She aims herself at the recliner.

“Julie.”

“What?” she barks.

“You’re welcome.”