Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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Muse-ing Backup #amwriting #amrevising #amreading

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Bloody hell, it’s cold. I shut out the icy wind, stomp off my boots, and peel off my coat. I could have picked a writer anywhere in the world. Hawaii. The Bahamas. Hell, New Zealand. But no, I had to pick Minnesota.

No one is at the desk in my writer’s office. Not a surprise. The aroma of mulled apple cider infuses the air. The walls reflect colored light. I almost expect to hear carols.

Almost.

“Oi, are you here?” I round the wall that hides the alcove from the back door.

Christmas lights drape like garlands over the two recliners in the nook. My writer is focused on her laptop screen, headphones on–good. Very good, unless she fell down an internet rabbit hole, like Facebook. Then it’s just a time-suck. She’s wearing a fuzzy hoodie, sweats, and booties she has claimed are toasty warm. Her feet are tapping out a rhythm against an imaginary floor.

“Well, at least it looks like you’re working.”

She jumps. “Damn it! You scared me.”

I have to take pleasure in the small things, even if it annoys her. “I called out when I came in, love.”

She pulls off her headphones. “Whatever. You’re late again.”

“Late? For what?”

“For writing my blog post.”

“Excuse me? Your blog post. I’m here for inspiration.”

“Uh-huh. And writing my post this week. Where were you? Adelaide? Sydney?”

“Minnesota.” I grab a bottle of water from the friggie and claim the second recliner in the alcove. “And why would I be writing your post this week? You were going to talk about writing and voice, weren’t you?”

She hands her laptop to me. “Here. Just, I don’t know, write about the solstice. This is your chance to share about all those pre-written history stories of whatever celebrations they used to do for the solstice.”

“Why would you think I’d know anything about that, love? I am not that old.” Chaucer, maybe, but not the Iron or Bronze Age.

She gets up. “I don’t know, think of something. I have to walk.”

“Why?”

“Because I can’t focus. Again.”

I can’t help but smile. “It’s not that you can’t focus, love. Say it.”

She turns to me and rolls her eyes. “Arrgh. Fine. I can’t decide what to work on.”

*Chuckle* “And why is that?”

“Really? I suppose you’re going to take credit for me being inspired by three different projects, one of which isn’t my current genre. You were the one who started that. Remember? That urban fantasy?”

“Yes, I am going to take credit, love. And you’re thinking about the urban fantasy because you’ve been reading Jim Butcher and KN Banet for the past month. So pick something. You’ve been doing fine with the police procedural.”

“Yeah, but I have to reorganize it, and add some scenes, and pull some scenes.”

“It’s called ‘revision’.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know, but I’ve spent years on that book.”

“And you’ve won a contest with it, and a publisher offered you a contract for it, even if you didn’t take the offer. Finish the revisions, love.”

“It was a small publisher, and they wouldn’t negotiate the contract. I need to work on Book 2.”

“You will.” I love it when she’s like this, with all that creative energy. “You’re still waiting on beta reader feedback for book 2 anyway. Go walk. And bring back some of that mulled cider I smell.”

“It’s a candle.”

Damn. “Then bring back some hot chocolate, love.”

Happy Winter Solstice! Can’t wait for the days to start getting longer again (more sunlight, not more hours)!

Nyx as a kitten and lap warmer


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NaNo Week #4: Home stretch #nanowrimo2021

“Are you kidding me? You were supposed to post this morning.”

My Muse leans back in my chair. “You said I was supposed to write the post, love. I’m writing it.”

“This morning. I always post in the morning.”

“Do you want me to finish it or not?”

Grumble. “Yes, finish it.”

He raises a brow. “I was helping you, if you recall. You’re almost to the finish line.” He points to one fo the recliners in the alcove. “Now, go finish. You’ve got what, less than 4k words to go. If you get your ass moving, you can finish tomorrow.”

“Fine.”

“You know this is going to be a really short post, right, love?”

“Just do whatever. I’m writing my last four thousand words, remember?”

“Okay, then.”

My writer settles into a recliner and gets her laptop going. She’s been really good the past week. Finished both novellas she was working on. With my help, of course. And it helped that she didn’t have to go anywhere for Thanksgiving.

Speaking of, Happy belated Thanksgiving to everyone! I’m sure my writer meant to post that day, but as I recall, she was on a roll (courtesy of moi).

Three days to go for NaNo. Good luck in the home stretch!

Nyx and Tibbers. Cozy!


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NaNo Week #3: Slipping away #nanowrimo2021

Damn. I spent a half hour this morning writing. I mean, I started on a roll, too. It was progress. I got maybe 450 words down. Then I went back to another file to check something (I use Scrivener), copied some notes to paste into my current file …

And it was blank! Gone! All those words I’d written. And Scrivener automatically saves every, like, 10 seconds, and saves on exit (I set it up that way), so it wasn’t like I could go back.

Four hundred words. And of course, real life–I had homework last night and tonight. Bottom line? I ate up my meager buffer, and now I’m behind. Sigh.

And you know who has been scarce lately. One of my writing sisters …

Slam!

Crisp November wind wraps around the wall separating the alcove from the outside door to my writing office.

“Is that you?”

His baritone voice, with its Australian brogue, takes away the chill from the breeze he let in. “Yes, it’s me, love. You better be writing.”

He comes around the wall, rubbing his hands together to warm them. He’s broken out the fisherman’s sweater, jeans that haven’t faded but still fit like they were made just for him, and …

“Are those bear paw slippers?”

He lifts a leg to show me the paw print pattern on the bottom of the thick fuzzy footwear. “Like them?”

……

“Julie?”

“Those … are so not your style.”

A grin stretches across his face, deepening the divot in his chin and lighting his eyes. “But they’re fun. And warm. But mostly fun.” He shuffles over to the other recliner, stopping to grab a beer from the mini-fridge before dropping into the chair. “You’re supposed to be working on your NaNo project.”

“Dude, I’m writing my blog post, which you were supposed to do this week.”

“Me? Why me?”

“Because you went AWOL this week. I hit a block, and where the hell were you?” I hold up a hand. “Wait, don’t tell me. You crashed the wedding, didn’t you?”

He sips his beer. “Why would you think that, love?”

“My writing sister, who I know you’ve hung around with, not that she’d ever admit it, had a family wedding last week, and you were conveniently not available.”

He doesn’t even have the sense to look sheepish. “It was a nice wedding. I only stayed for the cake, if you must know.”

“Sure, you did.”

“Did you ask her if she saw me there?”

“Yes.”

“And?”

“She was busy. Of course she didn’t notice you were there.”

He leans over to check my laptop. He smells like pine and the cold outdoors. I’m much warmer than I was five minutes ago. Except for my toes. They’re always cold.

“You were working pretty steady.”

“Sure, until the past three days. I didn’t even hit a thousand words.”

“You’ve got the weekend to catch up.”

“You’re not planning on going anywhere, right? I mean, no pub crawls with E or anything, right?”

“Nope. You’re stuck with me, love.”

“Good. Now, help me rewrite the stuff that disappeared this morning.”

“Ask nicely.”

I can’t hold back the sigh. “Will you please help me rewrite the stuff that some cyber dog ate this morning?”

“Much better. Of course, I’ll help.”

As long as he doesn’t plan on sneaking out again. So, my goal is to catch up to where I’m supposed to be this weekend. Next week is a short week at work due to the holiday, so hopefully I can go all out and at least give myself a decent buffer. If I’m really going, maybe I can even finish my 50k.

A girl can hope.

Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate!

Being a cat is so exhausting!


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A-Muse-ing check-in #amrevising #amwriting

A cool breeze drops the temperature in my writing office, bringing with it the sweet-edged scent of fallen leaves.

“Shut the door, you’re letting the warm air out.”

A thud answers.

The past few weeks it’s been almost 80 degrees here, rare from mid-September through now in MN. Heck, last night was the first night this season we had a frost advisory, when we usually get them the end of September. It’s been great for the plants; my peppers are still going strong and I’m still picking tomatoes. Fewer now that the temps feel more like autumn than summer. The kale loves it.

My Muse appears at the divider wall, the only thing protecting the alcove from the cold air coming in from the back door of my writing office. Whoa. Fisherman’s sweater, worn-well jeans, and a touch of stubble. Flannel would be more appropo, but the sweater works for him. Mm-hmm.

“I see you’re trying to work, love.” He grabs a bottle of water from the fridge and settles into the other recliner. He smells like the outdoors in fall, a sweet spicyness that begs to be joined by mulled cider and the sound of crunching leaves.

“Yes, and you are distracting me.”

He chuckles, the rich baritone settling in my gut. “I don’t buy it. You get distracted by things without my help. I’ve been watching you do it for years, despite my efforts.” He points to my laptop. “I hope that’s your revision.”

“It’s my blog post, which you are perfectly aware of. After this, I need to check that email account I’ve been avoiding. I’ve probably got two thousand new emails by now.”

He twists the top off the bottle and takes a swallow. “Ever thought of using an aggregator so you can check all your accounts at once?”

“Yes, but there’s a reason I have separate accounts. One is for junk email; it’s the one I use whenever I know a website is just going to spam me with ads. One is the account I’ve had since, hell, forever. One is my author account, that I use with my agent and editor and book festivals and conferences, and so on. The other is the account I’ve been using to subscribe to blogs and newsletters. I’m so far behind reading those. Oh, my gawd. I bet I’m a year behind.” Especially with my new job now. I’m using my company laptop, and they have it pretty locked down. Needless to say, I don’t check any personal email on it. I wait until my midday break to check my primary account. The others? Maybe a quck look every day. Maybe.

Except for that one account. Good stuff, I know, like the post notifications from Story Empire and Janice Hardy, but damn, it’ll take me a week to catch up on that stuff, even after deleting all the stuff I don’t read.

“An aggregator would just pile all that stuff into one spot. I already have that in my house.” Despite me badgering my daughter to get rid of the stuff she doesn’t need. I had no idea how many clothes that girl has. I mean, just how many clothes can you wear in a week anyway if you work as an assembler at night and sleep during the day?

“You could check one account instead of what, four?”

“Five if you count my school account.”

He shakes his head. “I don’t get you sometimes.”

“Part of me wants to take pride in that.”

He sighs. “Anyway, have you decided what you are doing for NaNo this year? You have two weeks to go.”

“I think so.” For years NaNo has been my reason to relearn the habit of writing every day. It works, too, for a while.

“New stuff?”

“Yes. I have a couple novellas in mind.”

He studies me, narrows his blue eyes. “You need to work on your focus, love. You have two other projects to work on.”

“Hello — NaNo. Why do you think I do it every year.”

“And when do you plan to work on those other projects? You know the one is close to being ready. The other is half-finished. Why new stuff? Besides, I thought you were going to take a break from those characters.”

My turn to sigh. “I know. I was. But I’ve got to get my writing shit together. Book 2 is almost ready to send out to betas. I need additional material to keep readers interested.”

“Should have done that last year, love.”

“Shut up. I know. Last year gave a whole new meaning to the phrase ’20/20 hindsight’. Hell, I had enough trouble keeping my blog going. Some authors reveled in all that lockdown time they had and pumped out all kinds of stuff. I wasn’t one of them. And I wasn’t the only one. I’ve talked to at least two other writers who had trouble writing last year.”

“Don’t expect me to give you any slack.”

“Like you ever do.”

Hope you are all doing well and enjoying this wonderful fall (or spring if you are south of the equator). It’s so nice to have fall instead of jumping right from summer to winter.

Happy Writing!

Tibbers and Nyx


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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