Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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Do not disturb the disturbed #amwriting #amrevising

Do not disturb sign

My writer has a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door to her writing office.

Cute. I enter the office. It’s too quiet. Even with the hum of the air conditioner, it still feels quiet.

She’s sitting in one of the corner recliners with her laptop, a glass of ice water on the end table, and a notebook beside her. She doesn’t even look up when I close the door.

“Well, look at you, love, all industrious and writerly.”

She sighs and flips me a pained expression. “Didn’t you read the sign?”

“I’m your Muse, love. ‘Do not disturb’ means you are all mine.” I grab a brew from the mini-fridge and settle into the other recliner.

“And here I thought you came to write my blog post for me.” She narrows her eyes. “Speaking of, why don’t you make yourself useful and do that.”

Oh. Hand to my heart. “That hurts, love. You know I’d much rather help you with the scene.”

She sighs and bounces her head against the headrest. “After you write the post. Please?” She bats her eyelashes at me like a swooning teenager. Come to think of it, she did that once when she was a teenager. That’s how I got my writer.

“You don’t do puppy-dog eyes very well.”

“It worked back in the day.”

“No.” Well, yes, but that’s not the point. “I was already working with you by then.”

Her eyes grow wide. “No, you weren’t.”

“Yes, I was. You just didn’t know it yet. We’re sneaky like that. That’s part of the capital ‘M’ in my title. I gave you a test, and you passed with flying colors.”

Her mouth gapes like a fish before she manages to speak. “Test? What test?” She shakes her head. “Never mind. Are you going to write my post or what? I’ve finally finished pickling, and turned in my assignment, so I’m going to work on my revision.”

“Fine, love. I am glad to see you working.” She’s been slacking the past couple weeks, with all the garden stuff.

“Har, har. You know I’ve been doing garden stuff. By the way, you saw the feedback I got on my last assignment, right? The one with objective third person and close third person.”

“Yes.” She got great feedback. “No more imposter syndrome self-talk, love.”

She frowns. “I should have had this book done and submitted by now.”

“What did I just say? I’ll write your post, you work.”

“Thanks! You’re the best Muse ever!” Her grin makes me wonder if she planned this.

Of course I planned it. By accident. Oh well. I finished my last batch of pickles this week, not because I ran out of cucumbers, but because I’m tired of it. And we’re running out of canning lids. Seems there’s a major shortage of canning lids now that everyone is staying close to home and people probably planted gardens for the first time. Ugh. I hacked the cucumber vines back, and any cukes that do grow I’ll let get nice and big for the chickens.

Happy Writing!


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Virtual Fellowship #amwriting #amediting

My Muse closes the door to my writing office with a quiet snick. Today he looks like a man on a mission–in the Bahamas. Red and white board shorts clash with a bright green T-shirt calling out Adelaide, Australia, with various sea creatures spelling out the name of the city. His flip-flops snap with each step. Nice calves. Nicer chest.

“I see you’re typing up a storm, love,” he says, sarcasm thick.

Yep. Me and my blank screen are going for the record here. “What’s with the T-shirt? Couldn’t find one that said ‘I went surfing back home and all I got was this lousy T-shirt?'”

He grabs a chair and straddles it, arms crossed on the backrest. “Happy day to you, too.”

I focus on my screen. “You know, you could have hung out here during our virtual writing retreat.” I would have liked the company, but I’m not going to tell him that.

“Sure, I could have.”

I feel his brilliant blue gaze drilling into me. I resist the urge to glare back.

“Next year, love.”

I take in a deep breath and let it out slowly. I had a great virtual retreat with my writing sisters. We were able to help each other with plotting, characters, and all those other pesky bits we run into, like inciting incidents and starting points.

Virtual is great, because you can feel like you’re all in a group, but it’s not the same as getting together at the B&B in Wisconsin, where we can really stir up the creative energies. Damn pandemic.

“Hey, if it makes you feel any better, the muses didn’t gather, either.” He rests his chin on his folded arms, looking far more innocent that I know he must be. “We could have, you know.”

“Uh-huh.” That surge of creative energy that buoys me after our reunions was replaced this time by a sort of grief, like I had lost a piece of a beloved collection. “I miss getting together with them. I miss the Inn and the river out back and the labyrinth and meeting at that cafe in Waupaca. Having chocolate and a glass of wine by myself … There was something missing.” Seven other someones, to be exact.

“I know, love. Focus on next year.” He gets up and heads to the wall calendar, where he flips to next August. “Next year’s reunion will be here before you know it.” He drops the pages and returns to the desk. “You guys have a virtual group chat every week, now every other week. It’s not like you don’t see them very often.”

I lean back in my chair. “I know. It’s just … this year has been so crazy.”

He looms over me. “Really, love? You’re just getting that now?” He rests a hip on my desk beside me. “You told your writing sisters what your goal is for next year’s reunion. You will have Book 2 done and either ready to submit or submitted. You’re doing good on the second revision. And you have a good plan for the other project. So get back to that second revision and finish it so you can work on the other project.

“In other words, focus.” He taps my forehead. “Suck it up, and get writing.”

“I have homework.”

“And?” he asks. “It’s writing. That’s what you do. The more you write, the faster the time will go, and pretty soon you’ll be on your way to the inn to meet up with them for your next reunion.”

He’s right, of course. I just need time to collect my scattered focus. Next week I’ll be back in the swing of things.

Man, one month of summer left already. I’ve done one batch of pickles, and I’ll have to do another one tonight, along with some green beans. I knew I’d have a lot of beans, but holy cow! Hubs reminded me that pickled green beans are pretty tasty, so I’ll add that to my pickling session later.

Hope you all are maintaining some semblance of sanity and staying safe.

Happy Writing!


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Ee-nee-mee-nee-mi-nee-Muse #amrevising #amreading

I dusted off a project I pitched a few years ago. It’s an old friend, a story I worked on for months–years. I won a contest with it, workshopped it, and almost signed a contract for it (it was a small publisher I had a few doubts about).

Funny thing about writing (any craft, I suppose): the more you do it, the more you learn, and the more you look at old projects and see all the “issues” you recognize now.

Do I revise the project and try again or set it aside and focus on something fresh? It’s not like I have a shortage of projects to work on. It’s more a matter of which one I can polish in the least amount of time before I go back to Book 2.

Then again, switching genres for a while might be nice. I have a traditional fantasy that I never did finish. There’s that urban fantasy I started. I like the tone of that one, a touch of snark (has nothing to do with the snarky urban fantasies I’ve been reading lately as I’m waiting impatiently for Jim Butcher’s newest Harry Dresden book. Really.).

Thick tropical heat and humidity invade my writing office. I look up from my computer. “Shut that damn door. Leave the mosquitoes outside.”

My Muse pushes the door shut and arches an eyebrow. “Nice to see you too, love.” His short blond hair is bleached on the top, a contrast to his sun-bronzed skin. His weathered red muscle shirt shows a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle–Michaelangelo, I think–on a surfboard, with “Cowabunga!” emblazoned below. Bright green board shorts and flip-flops complete the outfit.

“Surfing?”

He flashes a wide grin. “The beaches are almost deserted. I had the waves to myself.”

“So glad you were able to take a break.” I can’t help the sarcasm. Well, I could, but hey, he was off somewhere surfing, and I’m at home being a good author. “I could have used your help this week.”

He saunters to my desk. “You did fine this week, love. Finished your class–nice revision of your last assignment, by the way, submitted to your writing sisters for your retreat, and registered for another class.” He ruffles my hair. “You done good.”

He drags a chair around to sit beside me and slings an arm around my shoulders, giving me a whiff of coconut-scented sunscreen and a nice view of his broad chest, surfer turtle and all. “Ready for the second round of revision on Book 2?”

“No. I’m letting that sit for another week. I’m going back to this one.”

He peers at the screen, a crooked grin stretching across his face. “Again? You know I really like this one.”

Only because one of the main characters is an Australian ex-pat. “I know. I’m reading through it again. It’s been awhile.” I didn’t realize how much I’ve learned since I last revised it. “It needs a little work.”

“Maybe.” He shoves back and puts his feet on my desk. Grains of sand sift from his feet like salt. “Your new class hasn’t started, your virtual retreat is a few weeks away, and you’ve been wanting to revise it. So jump in.”

But urban fantasy is calling. I really like the voice in that one, even if it’s only the first few chapters.

My Muse sighs. “No.”

“Hey, you were the one who got me started on that story. I was even going to model one of the characters after you.” Snide comments and all.

“Flattered, but no.” His feet land on the floor and he leans forward. “Focus on one thing at a time, especially since you have an agent who works with mysteries. No fantasy genres until you get the other projects finished and sent off. Got it?”

He’s right. “Got it.” Hasn’t stopped me from reading urban fantasy lately, which is disturbingly addicting. Maybe it’s the snark inherent in so many urban fantasy stories. Laugh out loud snark.

“Good.”

This weekend will be my first “running errands” weekend since mid-March (hubs did the last one). Got my face mask, got my hand sanitizer, I’m ready.

Stay cool! Keep writing!


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Kicking drafts and taking names #amrevising #amwriting

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

I’m trying to pry dirt from under my fingernails, so of course I run into the door to my writing office before I turn the knob. Damn. It’s a good thing I was distracted, because the moment I open the door the odor of fried food and stale beer, like the kind you can’t get out of your clothes after watching the game at a sports bar (I know, it’s been a while, but you still remember, right?), wafts past me. Part of me wants to turn around and go back to weeding, but I resist.

Yeah, I probably should have listened to that part.

“I understand a ‘Job Well Done’ is in order, love.” My Muse is standing in front of the whiteboard covering one wall of my office. His fried food cologne must be emanating from the rugby jersey he’s wearing. His khaki cargo shorts have a stain on one thigh I hesitate to identify. Deck shoes complete his ensemble. No socks. Nice calves.

“Where have you been?”

He adds a note to the homework criteria I wrote on the board. “Things are opening up. Outdoor seating, and now some indoor seating, but the weather’s too nice to be inside.”

“So, you and Mr. E went on a pub crawl. If you were sitting outside, why do you smell like a sports bar?”

He adds another note. “Do you know fryers smoke? Even outdoors.”

I swallow a snarky comment about fryers and Camels or Marlboros. “Let me guess. You and Mr. E sat downwind. Didn’t think to move?”

He hit me with his brilliant blue eyes, a brow arched. “You make it sound like there was somewhere else to sit. It was like everyone was coming out of hibernation. We had to wait in line at a couple places.”

That sounds about right. “I can’t believe you had to sit downwind of the fryer at every bar you hit.”

“Well, there was one where they didn’t set up the fryers outside.” He adds one more note, then snaps the cover on the dry-erase marker. “Well done, love. You finished your first round of revision.”

I stand beside him in front of the board. “Um, thanks, I guess.”

“You sound disappointed.”

“I wasn’t, until I dug into my homework assignment.” Plotting. This assignment, my last for the class, looks at the story plot points. I’ve been feeling a major lack of satisfaction with the story, even after I figured out the plot to begin with. When I dug into my homework, I realized why. “I need to adjust the plot. Like, a significant change.”

My Muse swaps the marker in his hand for a different color, and adds another note. “That’s a good thing. You found the problem now, rather than two revisions from now.”

“You could have said something earlier, like before I finished the first draft–correction, finished the first draft after seven false starts. Maybe I would have gotten through it faster. Like after only five false starts.”

He rests an arm around my shoulders. The smell of French fries assaults my nose. “You forget one thing, love.”

“What’s that?”

“You don’t always listen to me.” Before I can respond, he continues. “Besides, you got to feel like you accomplished something by finishing the first round of revision. There’s a lot to be said about feeling like you’ve made progress. It’s important for all writers, but especially for one who tossed out seven partially-finished first drafts.”

“So, you didn’t hammer me with the revelation until I finished the first revision? Do you know how much further I’d be if I’d figured this out sooner?” I’m so glad I’m taking this class, because I’m not sure how long it would have taken me to see the glaring weak spot otherwise.

“How much have you learned because you analyzed the plot for your homework?” He tosses the marker onto the sill of the board. “You know the story will be stronger because of it.” He squeezes my shoulders, then heads to the mini-fridge and pulls out a brewski. He points the bottle at me then the board before twisting off the cap and slinging it into the trash. “Get your homework finished so we can work on that other story. I have a few ideas.”

I’m sure you do. He’s right, I can see the places where the plot needs work, which is part of the process. I do find it frustrating to get through one round of revision before I have that head-slapping “DUH!” moment.

Come to think of it, I’ve had a lot of those “DUH!” moments with this story. Sheesh.

Now that I’m done with my first round of revision, once I finish my homework, I’ll move on to a different story for a few weeks to let Book 2 rest. After this class, I have one more to take to get my second badge and move one step closer to my writing certificate.

How is your writing coming along? Enjoy this last week of Spring before the solstice next week!

Zoey on retaining wall


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Of Muses, plans, and panda-mics #amwriting #amrevising

First, more shameless self-promotion (because someone has to do it 🙂 )

There’s still time to vote!

And super-duper-with-fireworks-and-dancing-Snoopys THANK YOU shout-out to all who voted! You ROCK!!

dancing Snoopy

“Really, love?” My Muse settles into the visitor’s chair across the desk from me. Wait, when did I get a visitor’s chair? “You spent how long putting those images together?” He leans forward and rests a forearm on the desk. “You should have been working on revisions.”

Sigh. I slump in my chair. “I know. I hate the marketing stuff, because I know nothing about marketing.” All the “market your book” articles and posts sound logical, until it comes time to actually put it into practice.

“You’re a writer. You try to make people believe your stories are real. How is marketing different? You’re trying to make people want to read your stories.”

I stare at him. Today he’s sporting a black long-sleeved concert T-shirt for Crowded House, sleeves shoved halfway up his forearms. Black’s not really his color, but he sure fills out the shirt nicely. “There is a difference. One is storytelling, the other is persuasion. I’ve never been good at persuasive writing.”

“It’s like any other writing. You try to connect with the reader.”

“Sure. Easier said than done.”

“Maybe it’s your attitude, love.” He trains his striking blue gaze on me. “Your goal is to convince people to buy your book and spread the word.”

“You heard about this pandemic thing, right? All my panels have been cancelled. Heck, I’m not even sure my Totally Criminal Cocktail Hour appearance is going to happen. It works so much better when I can actually talk to someone face-to-face.”

He narrows his eyes. “You are good at that, once you get comfortable.” He straightens in his chair. “Well, since you aren’t spending time running off to panels and such, you have that much more time to write.”

“I’m trying.” I’m actually progressing on my homework. I need to submit up to 4,000 words that demonstrate my ability to use friends, foes, and foils. You know, sidekicks, antagonists, and characters that reflect or contrast the MC.

He raises a brow. “You have an empty nest this weekend.”

“Yeah. And I want to turn in my homework by Monday. Then there’s the garden.” After years of trying to downsize, it seems this year will be a bit of regression. Makes sense to have a bigger garden, all things considered. And the weather has been glorious the past few days. I need to enjoy it before the door opens on Summer. Weather guys say we’re getting hit with temps in the mid- to upper-80s next week. Ugh. Too hot for May.

“I’ll be here, love. And remember, just because you are outside doesn’t mean you don’t stop writing.” He taps his temple. “In here.”

Trust me, there are days I can’t shut it down. And days I can’t get it fired up. I’m progressing, though.

How is everyone doing? Remembering what day it is? Staying active? Yeah, me too. Thought I’d toss a little humor into things. Did you catch the “panda-mic” in my post title? Well, here ya go:

Heh. Get it? Actually, the panda is how I’ve been feeling lately as things keep going on.

Anyway, I have homework to do and a Dresden novel to read before the new one comes out. Re-reading Skin Game. If you don’t know Harry Dresden, you’re missing out 😀

Have a great weekend!