Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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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!


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I’m baaack–what a con(ference)! #amwriting #lcc2022

My very first time as moderator for a panel. L to R: Me, Tori Eldridge, Margaret Mizushima, Linda L Richards, Faye Snowden. Great authors! (photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuhn (yes, I copied it from her FB post))

I flip to yet another fresh sheet in my notebook. The tough thing about a synopsis is picking out the most important points of the story–out of 300+ pages. I’ve got the inciting incident, and the climax (I think). Oh, and the midpoint reversal. So, now I need a couple more points to transition between each, right?

The back door to my writer’s office opens, letting in a crisp breeze–and a couple stray leaves. “Damn it, shut the door. It’s frickin’ cold and windy out there.” Sheesh. Would never guess we’re halfway through April by the weather.

My Muse peels off his jacket and hangs it on the coat rack. He’s wearing a fisherman’s sweater with his worn-well jeans. He exchanges his sneakers for those big fuzzy bearpaw slippers.

“Cold feet?” I ask. “Those things are kind of ridiculous, you know. They clash with that ‘just off the set of a GQ photo shoot’ thing you’ve got going.”

He tosses me a wry grin, the divot in his chin deepening. “I knew you liked my slippers.” He settles a hip on the corner of my desk. “I see you’re finally back to work.”

I lean back in my chair. “Hey, I’m finally feeling almost normal again. Nothing like getting back from a trip and getting slammed with a wicked head cold. Hell, I couldn’t see through the brain fog for two days.”

“Uh huh.” He doesn’t sound impressed.

“Just because you never get sick. Just how wild did you and the other muses get during your own convention in Albuquerque? I didn’t see you around.”

He crosses his arms on his broad, sweater-covered chest. “Our convention was great. You, on the other hand …”

“I had a great convention. I met some great authors. I have more options for blurbs. My very first panel I moderated went surprisingly well. My panel went well. I even managed to avoid making a fool of myself at the new author breakfast with my 1-minute pitch. So, yeah, it was a great convention. I even got to talk to William Kent Kreuger. Nice guy.”

“Uh-huh. And what did he tell you, love?”

“He writes every morning, even when he’s on the road.”

My Muse just stares at me with those incredible blue eyes.

“I can do that. Maybe not always in the mornings, but in the evenings. I’ve done it before. It’s how I draft all my books.”

He sighs. “You need to focus, love.”

Goes without saying. “You need to help me with my synopsis, which I haven’t worked on since I got back because head cold.”

So before I settle in to work on my synopsis, just want to toss out there if you ever get an opportunity to attend a writing or genre conference, try to do it. It’s a wonderful experience, and a great way to network.

Have a Happy Easter/Ramadan/Passover/what have you! May Spring decide to get serious and stick around for a while!

Furry belly Tibbers and Nyx


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Musing events and other news #amwriting

When I open the back door to the office, the sound of my writer singing along to Toto’s Africa greets me. I’m not saying she can’t sing, but she does have a limited range. And it’s weird; she doesn’t normally sing, like, ever–well, except when she’s in the car.

When I round the partition wall separating the alcove from the back door, I find her in a recliner, footrest extended, eyes closed, headphones on, slippered feet air-tapping to the rhythm, laptop in place. She’s in good spirits today.

Good. I grab a bottle of water from the fridge and settle into the other recliner as she reaches the final refrain of one of Toto’s most well-known songs.

She opens her eyes and chokes off a screech when she sees me. “Holy shit! What the hell?”

“Nice to see you too, love.” I point with my water. “I see you’re hard at work.” Not.

She pulls off her headphones. “Hey, I submitted my manuscript to my agent today. I’m taking a victory lap.”

“It’s only a victory lap if your agent likes it.”

She stares at me. “Seriously? Did you, my Muse, just throw shade on my expectations that she’ll like it? I thought you were supposed to be encouraging. I have enough of a struggle with imposter syndrome.”

“All writers do. What’s next?”

She sighs. “Now I need to come up with a log line and put together a synopsis and query for Book 2. Ugh. I want to get back to my police procedural.”

“Hmm. I’d like you to get back to your police procedural, too.”

“And I have to brainstorm Book 3. And I have to get back to my rural MN mystery.”

“You forgot the novellas. And that urban fantasy.”

She grumbles. “Why is it that it seems I have less and less time to write? I mean, I can’t do anything about my 40-hr a week job, but outside of that …”

“You manage just fine when you focus.”

She twists in her chair to face me. “Are you coming to Albuquerque with me?”

“Do you really think you’ll have any time to write when you’re at Left Coast Crime?” I finish my water and toss the empty into the recycling bin on the other side of her chair. “I know you, love.”

“I’m rooming alone this year, and I have layovers.”

“You’ll use your layovers to read the rest of the books from the authors of the panel you’re moderating.”

“I have to work on my log line and synopsis. I might as well do it while I’m there, right? Please? I could use some–okay, a lot of help with the log line. And the dreaded synopsis.”

I was planning to tag along, but she doesn’t have to know that. With that many writers there, the powers that be have sanctioned a muse convention at the same time. “You have to promise to work when you have time and opportunity.”

“Of course.”

“Then I’ll tag along, love. It should be nice this time of year in New Mexico.”

Not that I didn’t expect him to come along, but sometimes I wonder if he purposely takes his “walkabouts” while I’m otherwise occupied, like attending panels at writer conventions.

Spring has been teasing us; we’ll get one or two beautiful spring days followed by a week of cold, wind, and rain/snow/sleet. Ick. Everything had dried out, finally, and then we got a day and a half of rain and rain/snow spittle. Ugh.

On the bright side, though, it’s a great excuse to stay inside and write, right? Have a wonderful, more-spring-like weekend filled with lots of writing!

The three mouse-katters: Nyx, Stella, and Tibbers


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I remembered :)

Okay, so I forgot to post last week–almost. Eyeball-deep in my police procedural, it was hours before I finally realized it was Saturday and I hadn’t posted. Sigh.

And then I started thinking about stuff going on, and I decided I was okay with posting late. Hell, I wouldn’t remember what I had for breakfast if I didn’t have the same thing every morning.

Anywho, this year is shaping up to be a lot busier than the past two (raise your hand if you know why *psst, it’s the pandemic*). Today (Saturday, March 5) is the grand virtual book festival called Cabin Fever, presented by the same wonderful volunteers who organize the Deep Valley Book Festival in October. I’m not on a panel this time, but I’ll sit in on at least one.

Oh, can’t forget Daylight Savings Time comes back in a week.

On March 19 (yes, another Saturday), I’ll be attending my first in-person event of the year–yay! If you are in the area of Rosemount, MN, stop at the Steeple Center (can’t miss it–it’s an old church) and hang out with a bunch of MN authors. I’ll be on a panel on female protagonists with the Midwest Mystery Works. It’ll be great–since I’m the only female on the panel 🙂 I’ll also be doing a workshop on writing mysteries, and promoting our Twin Cities chapter of Sisters in Crime. I’m guessing that a quarter of the authors there will be members of our chapter.

Then the Solstice! Yippee! Spring! Real Spring! My favorite season (although I know it’s only March and there’s still a lot of opportunity for snow and cold and such before Memorial Day)!

Then my next in-person event in April 7-10: Left Coast Crime in Albuquerque! Four days of mystery, crime, thriller, and suspense authors and readers mingling and talking all things books and stories and … well, you get the idea. I’ll be on a panel on Thursday, at the New Authors Breakfast on Friday morning, and moderating a panel on Friday. It’ll be a great time!

At some point, depending on weather, I’ll have to plant the garden. If the weather cooperates, I’ll be able to get the garden in before Memorial Day weekend.

I finally did it. I actually scheduled a personal writing retreat in May at a little getaway a few hours north of us with a name that just begs to be used for a writing retreat: Shire in the Woods. If the retreat goes well, I see an annual (at least once a year) pilgrimmage in my future.

Anyway, I have my police procedural on the docket since I have two beta readers still out with Book 2, but I just realized there are these things called “taxes” that are going to supercede some writing time. Sigh.

Whew. And that’s only until May. And I forgot about my class; it’s spring break this week, but I’ve still got classes until May. Uff-da. Anyway, I’d better get working on that list of mine.

Hope your weekend is filled with writing or reading or chilling 😀 😀

My son’s girlfriend and Tibbers