Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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NaNoWriMo Eve, aka Halloween #nanowrimo #amrevising

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Hey, all! Just a quick post because I’m frantically working on my revisions. Almost forgot about Halloween. It’s my daughter’s fave holiday. Me, never got overly excited about it, except that first year my son was old enough to go trick-or-treating. Damn, that was a long time ago!

*shuffle, bang, tussle*

“Hey!”

My Muse points to the recliner in the corner. “Revision, love.”

“But …”

His blue eyes narrow. “Don’t argue.”

Grumble. “Fine. I was going to do that right after I finish this post.”

His brow arches. “I will finish the post. You go write.”

I ponder another cup of coffee. Really. No, I am not admiring his burgundy henley with sleeves shoved to his elbows or his pajama pants complete with Jack o’lanterns and black cats on them. Okay, maybe I am admiring them a little. And his feet are bare. Is that scruff on his face? What was I going to do again?

“Over. There. Revise.” He gives me a little shove toward the corner recliners.

Oh, yeah. Revise.

My lovely writer plops into a recliner and swings out the footrest. About damn time. If she has her shit together, she can finish her revisions today. Tomorrow, all bets are off. I’ve been through this dance before with her. So many times.

Some years, she’s on top of things. This year? I have to give her credit. She’s giving it a good go despite being her Sisters in Crime chapter’s NaNo liason on top of her usual attempt at being a good little writer.

“I heard that!”

“Revise, love. I’ll be there in a minute.”

“You bringing my coffee, too?”

Sigh. I have a writer to wrangle. Those of you who are joining my writer for this year’s 50k-thousand-words-in-30-days marathon, good luck!

Here’s a useful Muse tip (at least it works with my writer): Save the good chocolate for your reward when you hit your daily word count. It really works as incentive.

Why are you looking at me? Get writing!


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Another dose of cuteness

Yep, another blog post for which I have no idea what to write. It snowed (eek!), it’s cold and windy, and I still have a few hoses and some fabric mulch to collect from the garden.

Digging into revisions of Book 2 and mentally preparing for NaNo in TWO weeks! I have to say I’m looking forward to it. I have a new plan for my rural MN mystery, dual timelines, something I haven’t done before so I’m eager to try it out.

Our annual Turkey Day celebration with my husband’s family has been cancelled. Bummer, since we haven’t seen anyone at all this year (except one of my sister-in-laws, who took a lot of the garden produce I wasn’t able to use off my hands), but hubs has already declared we aren’t going anywhere. COVID-19 cases are going up here, and I would love to see my family for Christmas (we cancelled our annual summer gathering), but we also don’t want to roll the dice and find out one or both of us are members of the “get really sick and maybe don’t recover” club.

Anyway, my son came home last weekend and brought the kitties! They are getting big, and have grown out of the tiny fluffy kitten stage. Of the two, Nyxie is the troublemaker. Tibbers is a bit more shy and less adventurous.

Nyxie
It’s like she’s looking for something to get into
Time to recharge
Tibbers! Look at those ears
(My less than stellar photography skills) Handsome kitty!
Staying out of the activity

The bigger Tibbers gets, the more I’m sure he has some Maine Coon in him. Big paws, those ears, and bushy tail. I really want to get a couple kittens, but Zoey is not open to sharing anything, especially her space. After my son left, it took Zoey a couple days to assure herself those invaders were gone.

Hope everyone is doing well and staying SAFE! Keep on writing!


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The timing of the Muse #amwriting #amrevising #amreading

Image by Valiphotos from Pixabay

I kick back in a recliner in my writing office and scroll through Facebook to see all the awesome autumn pictures. I am really missing the trees on my commute; friends have been posting pictures of their trees. Gorgeous! Ours turn yellow, and not even that pretty yellow like the birches. More like a tired yellow. Besides, with all the other ugly news everywhere, I find solace in landscape photos.

“What are you doing, love?” My Muse looms over me, hands on hips. “We agreed, no Facebook during writing time.” He rolls up the sleeves of his red and black flannel shirt, a white T-shirt underneath. His worn-well jeans carry the outdoor rogue image down to his hiking boots. He even has some scruff.

Whoa. There’s more than one reason autumn is my favorite season. Flannel and denim are made for the woods in the fall. I should probably not page through the men’s section of the next LL Bean catalog I get. Definitely getting warm in here. “Little distracting there, aren’t you?”

Facebook is distracting. Hell, the entire internet is distracting for you. Turn it off.”

I close Facebook, the time-suck of all time-sucks, which leaves me plenty of time to enjoy the local scenery instead of writing. Focus. “You need to go rake some leaves or something. Chop some wood.”

He raises an eyebrow. “Seriously, love? I am not leaving you unsupervised. You have a revision to work on, and an empty nest for the whole weekend.”

Which reminds me. I was walking down the driveway the other day and a story light bulb went off in my head. Actually, more like a flash bulb (not to be confused with a flash mob). “What’s with the brainstorm the other day? Why didn’t you suggest that two months ago? I could have added that during my first round of revision.”

“You weren’t ready for it two months ago.” He heads to my wall-sized white board and picks up a marker. “You have three weeks to work this revision, love. Then NaNo.” He makes a list, which I can’t read because he’s in the way. Yep, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

“That’s the plan.”

He turns, narrows his eyes. “Here’s a thought. Try sticking to the plan this time.”

“What makes you think I won’t stick to the plan? I always stick to my NaNo plan.”

“I’m not talking about NaNo. You have some pretty optimistic plans for the rest of the year after NaNo.”

“I’ll be working from home until who knows when. It’s not like I have to drive to work and back, and hello, winter in Minne-snow-ta.”

“Uh huh.” He doesn’t sound convinced. “How’s that been working for you?”

“Hey, all I need to do is tweak the timeline in that book.” And up the threat to the MC, and write a few more vignettes, and run through another round of revision. It’s my police procedural, which I thought was finished, until I reread it after a year. Uff-da.

“You have a deadline for Book 2.”

Um, sort of. Actually, yeah. Remember that writing certificate I’m working on? My writing teacher suggested the end of March for a deadline. Doable. Definitely doable. Except–

“You are going to have to choose between Book 2 and the procedural, love.”

“I know, I know.” I suggested to my agent that I would be ready to submit the procedural by the end of the year. I think I forgot NaNo in that timeline. “Book 2.”

He lines something out on the board and adds to the list before he returns the marker to the little shelf. “Good. Let’s get to work.”

And bonus: my son just texted me and said he’s thinking about coming home this weekend with the kitties. Yay! I mean, I love seeing my son, and the kitties are a nice bonus.

Oh, hell, who am I kidding? I want to see the kitties 😀 😀

Get out there and enjoy the colors before everything turns that boring shade of brown that lasts until spring. And keep 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