Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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Happy Spring! #amreading #amwriting

Minnesota welcomed the vernal equinox with rain. And more rain. And the next day? Below freezing temps in the morning. On the bright side, it was sunny all day, albeit with a nice brisk, crisp, north wind.

Image by Capri23auto from Pixabay

Nothing like March to assure us Mother Nature is dealing with indecision. Spring? Nah, maybe more winter. Well, on the other hand, spring is kinda the thing now.

Sheesh.

To make things worse more interesting, everyone, for the most part, is in quarantine. I’ve been working from home pretty much all week, and for the foreseeable future. On the plus side, no hour commute each way. On the negative side, since I do not have a dedicated office, and this whole “don’t go out if you don’t absolutely have to” thing, it’s getting to be an interesting exercise in co-habitation.

If hubs and I were thirty years younger, we could really enjoy it 😉

In any case, I am taking the opportunity to continue procrastinating on spring cleaning in order to work on Book 2. Of course, with those two extra hours, I should really catch up on that.

“Yes, you should, love.”

I look up from my writing desk. My Muse, with the sleeves of his burgundy henley shoved halfway up his forearms, shows me a finger coated with dust. He wipes his finger on his worn-well jeans before he saunters to my desk and rests a hip on a corner near me.

I lean back in my chair. “I thought you needed a break. Besides, it isn’t like you are susceptible to this COVID-19 thing.”

“I’m not, but they have cancelled writerly gatherings everywhere.”

“And? It’s not like you need an excuse, is it?” Not that I want him to go anywhere, but he’s started reminiscing about his adventures, like, all the time. If I hear another story from the bubonic plague in Australia

He leans over me. I catch a scent of the woods in spring, with that fresh, loamy musk promising new growth. “You realize, love, this is a great opportunity–with few excuses, mind you–to work on Book 2.”

“Yes, I know. And I am. I have pages of notes.” And it isn’t as bad as I thought. I think once I finally nailed down the plot (after writing more than three-quarters of the story), things fell into place. Now it’s a matter of verifying the timeline and fleshing things out.

“I’m aware. And without that commute, you have two more hours each day to spend on it.” He straightens and crosses his toned arms over his broad chest. “With me.”

Who the hell else would I spend them with if I’m writing? I stand to face him eye-to-eye, since he’s still leaning on my desk. Wow. I’m always amazed at how blue his eyes are. “You’re not thinking about moving on, are you? To another less-aggravating writer?” He can’t. After all these years, I don’t think I could work with another muse. Or Muse.

A crooked grin deepens the divot in his chin. His low chuckle raises the temperature in my office. Or maybe it’s just me. “No, love. I don’t want to break in another writer. I’m talking about your distractions.”

“You mean like the veneer of dust you so helpfully pointed out?”

“That, and the rest. I know how you get when there’s too much other activity in the house.”

“Which is why I have this.” I sweep my hand to indicate my writing office.

“Hmph. This isn’t a physical space, love. You need a physical space.”

“I’ve been doing fine for years.”

An eyebrow arches. “Really, love? Let’s work on that during your breaks from Book 2, when you let the story sit after each round of revision.”

Whatever. After I manage some spring cleaning. We postponed our family Easter gathering, so there is no hard deadline. Still, I’ve been letting things languish way too long. I’ll have to collect cobwebs and chase out the dust bunnies before it’s time to plant the garden. 😀

Stay safe, everyone! Stay calm, wash your hands, maintain social distance, and WRITE ON!


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Spring ahead into the fray #amwriting #amreading #mnweather

Maybe you’ve noticed I like to mention the weather on a regular basis. Part of that is the Minnesotan in me. Weather plays a pretty big role in our day-to-day business, especially in the winter. Now that Spring, my favorite season, is on its way, I’m starting to feel the pull of the outdoors in a big way.

Image by Dana White from Pixabay

This weekend is predicted to be close to 60 degrees F. Woo-hoo! Happy dance (but carefully in a dry spot, because EVERYTHING is pretty mucky).

My seeds haven’t started to sprout yet, but that might be because it’s a bit cool in the house. I don’t use warming pads, but I’m reconsidering that this year since we aren’t running the pellet stove/corn burner, which happens to be located near the seed starting station.

Walks are on the agenda for this weekend, among the other tasks of preparing for my trip to Left Coast Crime in San Diego and book marketing stuff like emailing libraries and bookstores and asking if they would consider an author event. And writing. That’s always on my list, but sometimes …

This next week will be filled with subbing at the library (last time for a while, I think, or at least until summer), our Sisters in Crime monthly meeting, and a flight from MSP to SAN. Then I get to enjoy a mystery conference with lots of other writers and readers. The weekend after I get back I have a book fair where I’m giving an hour-long workshop on writing mysteries. It’s at the end of the day, though, so we’ll see how many stick around for that.

I am looking forward to meeting one of the authors I love, another whom I need to ask to do a presentation at one of our meetings, and others I have met but haven’t seen for a while. Oh, and the weather!

I will, however, miss the Writers’ Institute in Madison, WI this year. Not because anything overlaps, but because I can only manage one conference a year. I didn’t expect to miss it as much as I do. I think that’s what happens when an event becomes like a family reunion, where you get to see all those people you only see that one time each year, but look forward to enjoying the time you’re there with them.

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but if you have an opportunity to go to a writers’ conference, go. Go to a conference at least once, whether it’s close or a state away. Or, hey, you could always come to the Writers’ Institute. This year I’m going to miss Jess Lourey as a keynote speaker. She grew up twenty miles from where I did.

And, you could meet my awesome writing teacher there! Her latest Door County Fudge Shop mystery just came out this week! I’m proud to say I helped brainstorm for Deadly Fudge Divas. There’s nothing quite like seven writers helping one of their own figure out the crime and plot of a whodunit.

I’m off to get organized for my busy week, but intend to squeeze in a few walks and some revising on Book 2, as well as my next class assignment. Sheesh. I think I’m going to try to get away for a personal writing retreat this year, maybe at my dad’s when he goes on his cruise with his brother, but maybe someplace else less, um, urban. More expensive, but better location.

Happy Writing! For those in the US, it’s spring forward weekend. Don’t forget to turn your clocks ahead!


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A taste of Spring and inspiration #amwriting #mnwinter #mnauthor

Image by Larisa Koshkina from Pixabay

We’ve had a mild winter this year. Maybe a handful of days where the low was below zero, and windchills in double digits below zero. We haven’t even gotten a stretch of more than one or two days of single or teens above zero. (that’s all Fahrenheit degrees for those who use Celsius 🙂 )

This week we have had an interesting stretch. Last week the weather wonks said we were going to get a little snow on Monday. Maybe half an inch where we are. No biggie.

Erm. Yeah. So we weren’t expecting the 6 inches we actually got.

A little more than half an inch, I’m thinking

Then, of course it got cold, like single digit above zero cold for about 2 days, so icy roads. On the bright side, it was sunny 😀

Now we’re getting a nice thaw–during the day. Everything will refreeze at night, but there is something to be said about above freezing temps. They’re even claiming we’ll hit the mid-40s.

So, on the agenda is a walk or three to enjoy the warmth and the sun, and feed my muse a bit. The WIP is going okay. I’m past a rough patch, so now I can run a bit. Still planning to have a draft finished by the end of the month. Wait, February only has 28–no, 29 days this year. Yeesh.

So, the walks will be valuable muse-bonding time.

“At least you’re listening to me, love.”

I can’t stop the eyeroll. My Muse closes the back door of my writing office before stomping snow off his boots. He’s wearing a flannel jacket with that sherpa lining, with a dark green watchman’s cap and black leather gloves, which he stuffs into his hat before shoving them into a sleeve of his jacket.

“And you had to make sure to let me know.” Another eyeroll. “I know walks help me with inspiration and brainstorming. That’s old news. Besides, I don’t include you in back-to-back posts as a rule, so what gives?”

He toes off his boots, pulls a brewski from the fridge, and drops into the recliner beside mine. “Gotta get an early start.”

“What do you mean, an early start?”

He gestures to my laptop. “Your WIP. Which you didn’t work on yesterday.”

“I was focusing on my homework. Which reminds me, I have to finish my assignment.”

Silence swells between us, thick and heavy.

He leans toward me. “Are you going to mention it, or do I have to?”

Pressure on my chest tightens against my lungs. That stupid knot in my throat returns. “I was fine until you said something.”

“You can’t make her be reasonable, love. She has to figure it out for herself. You know that. Don’t let that strangle your creative energies.”

If it were only that easy. My nineteen-year-old daughter still can’t be bothered to listen to any advice from Mom and Dad, and has an uncanny way of pushing my hubs’ buttons. And he’s a patient man; he’s put up with me for almost thirty years.

And of course my daughter doesn’t want to talk about it.

“And here I was all fired up to write.” I get up to snag my own brew from the fridge. “You crashed my vibe.”

“No, I’m helping you work through it.”

Not so much. “Okay, since you are a Muse, why don’t you throw some sense and reason toward my teenager.”

He shakes his head. “Not my area of expertise. However, I’ll be right beside you on your walks, so maybe bring along your phone this time to record all your brainstorming revelations.”

I can do that. Everything will be sloppy with the melting over the next few days, but hey, it’ll be nice out. Looking forward to a balmy weekend.

Just keep on writing!


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New month, renewed focus? #amwriting

So, it’s finally February. Here in MN, we’ve had the longest run of cloudy days ever recorded. Seriously. They’ve talked about it on the news.

Granted, it’s been mild. Balmy, even. Our temps have been running at or just below freezing, helped a bit by the insulating cloud cover.

However, I’m starting to wonder if the sun is just a rumor. Someone said they saw it, or a facsimile of it, for about 30 seconds the other day.

So, what has this got to do with writing? Beside the whole gloomy atmosphere? Nothing. Well, maybe something. I was all ready to make up for a lack of writing this week, considering I’m doing a self-imposed NaNoWriMo to get the draft of my rural MN mystery done, and then … crash. Kids are home, and drama (son is reeling from his girlfriend of three years dumping him, and daughter’s confident plan of working at the place she did over winter break got torpedoed), so I need to shift into mom mode rather than “I’m going to shut myself away in the bedroom and write tonight” mode.

Mom mode isn’t terribly conducive to writing, at least for me. There’s the part of me that knows I need to engage. And there’s the part of me that wants to rail against the situation, take my laptop, and go play somewhere quiet. Which doesn’t help kids who are looking for parental reassurance from Mom. Mom has a different place in their world than Dad does. I think that’s the case for most everyone: Mom is a little higher on the list when it comes to family and comfort.

I hit the jackpot with hubs, who sees the kids more than I do due to that pesky full-time job thing. He’s wonderful at talking with them (better than I am, honestly). I keep telling the kids they should be thankful he’s such a great dad. Eventually, they’ll realize it.

So, despite my intentions to kick ass on this new project this weekend to make up for the lack of writing this week, it seems that will be a bit of a struggle. Oh, and rumor has it the sun is supposed to come out this weekend for a day. A whole day.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

WOO-HOO!

I will enjoy as much sun as I can (considering it’s still a wee bit chilly to wear shorts and a t-shirt), and recharge my “happy” energy. And yes, take my laptop and go play someplace quiet.

PS to Marcia: my Muse is sending an applicant. Says the guy helped inspire all those Elvis beach movies and surfing movies. Your mileage may vary, but it sounds like he’s looking forward to testing the waves out your way 😀


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Now for something a little bit different #minnesota #spring #gardens

It’s time. I start getting seed catalogs around Christmas, and stash them until about now. I’ve been getting those pesky marketing emails from other seed catalogs too, but there’s something about looking through an actual catalog to feed thoughts of spring and warm and gardens.

Not that the past week has been miserably cold. It’s been downright balmy here with temps around freezing. Warm enough to make snowmen, and we have enough snow. Part of me is tempted to build a snowman for old times’ sake. Part of me says, “You know, you should be writing. Or at least cleaning.”

I know a lot of you like my garden posts, so I figured I’d share my pre-garden fun (because hey, why not?)

Every year when I plan my garden, I have the old standbys I always plant: tomatoes, peppers, onions, cucumbers, zucchini, beets, green beans, radishes, brussels sprouts. I always like to plant something new, or something I haven’t planted for a while.

Last year I got all my starts from the local greenhouse; I didn’t start any of my own seeds. That was convenient, but also restrictive: I’m limited to the varieties the greenhouse has. Which is fine, but I like particular varieties of some veggies, like peppers, onions, and tomatoes.

I don’t know what onion variety I planted, but the onions were far smaller than in previous years. I like the Candy variety, which are usually baseball-size or larger onions. I intended to plant sweet snacking peppers, but the variety I got at the greenhouse ended up being too spicy for snacking. The tomatoes were okay: the Early Girls did fine (but they are small tomatoes), but the other variety succumbed pretty quickly to the blight that plagues the garden. I thought I had gotten a resistant variety. I thought wrong, apparently.

Over the years, I’ve learned what veggies grow best, or at least which ones I have the best luck with. Every year is different. Last year was bad for tomatoes, meh for onions, but a great one for brussels sprouts and peppers.

Garden, 2019

This year I’m planning to buy some starts, like brussels sprouts and peppers, and start onions, tomatoes (some tomatoes anyway), and maybe kale.

For new stuff/stuff I haven’t planted for a while, a pie pumpkin is on the list this year. I haven’t planted pumpkins for years, because, like cucumbers or zucchini, one plant = lots of pumpkins. I’ve been thinking about making pumpkin bread, so what a great excuse 😀 I can bring the overstock to work and pawn it off on them 🙂

No zucchini, though. I think I cooked one zucchini all last summer, and brought the rest in to work. I can use that space for something else. This year on my “new” agenda is Persian cucumbers, if I can find seeds. Somewhere they were listed as the type of cucumbers you find in the store as those snacking cucumbers. We’ll see. I haven’t made pickles for years (I learned my lesson the year I pickled over 3 dozen quarts), but maybe I’ll do a dozen this year. Maybe.

I have to thin out the raspberry patch, too; they’re starting to choke out the asparagus (which also should be moved, or a new patch started). I love raspberries, but they spread! The problem is deciding where to move them: someplace close enough to monitor, exposed to sun, and not in an area we tend to mow. I know, with eight acres that might be a challenge 😀

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted on that front again. In the meantime, take a break and page through some seed catalogs. The pictures of flowers and veggies always reminds me spring is coming!


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A-Musing Solstice Salutations #amwriting #wintersolstice

Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

What the … The last thing I expected to see in my writing office was my Muse sitting in one of the corner recliners with my laptop. Of course, to see him dressed the way he was … oh boy.

The red and white striped sweatpants, like a wearable candy cane, would have been eye-searing enough without that sweater. Think bright green, with tinsel garland and strands of tiny blinking lights sown across it in tiers, complete with miniature glass ball ornaments.

Oh. My. Gawd. He looks like a Christmas tree sat on an elf. The only things missing are curly-toed slippers and a Santa hat. I’m not sure whether to laugh or … yeah, gotta laugh. I manage to choke back a guffaw. “Um, where the hell did you find that outfit?”

He looks up at me, his angular cheekbones, blue eyes, and the little divot in his chin contrasting with that get-up. “I’m getting into the spirit of the season.” He flashes his crooked grin, the one that always raises the temperature in the room.

Even now, with that ridiculous outfit, it’s getting warm in here. I shove the sleeves of my hooded sweatshirt to my elbows. “It’s hideous.”

He raises an eyebrow. Pretty sure I’m having a hot flash. Yeah, I’ll call it that.

“Really? I thought you’d like the lights.”

“Um, yeah, I do,” I admit. “What are you doing?”

“What you should be doing, love.”

I can’t believe he’s writing a blog post without me asking, begging, or bartering with him. “I came in here to write my post.”

“Way ahead of you, love.”

“Ah, o-kay. Why? You always grumble when I ask you to write posts for me.”

“What’s wrong with me writing posts when I want to? I thought you would be happy you didn’t have to beg.”

Well, sure, but it’s kinda like when kids do stuff without you badgering them to do it. “What do you want?”

His eyes widen. He puts on what I would call his innocent face. “I never said I wanted anything, love.”

I open the back door and stand in the breeze from the snow-covered yard to cool down. “Riiight. Just tell me now so I can grumble about it.”

He sets the computer aside and levers out of the recliner. “You’re letting the cold air in.”

“It’s hot in here.”

He reaches over my head and pushes the door closed. “It’s not.”

I stare into twinkling Christmas lights before taking a step back. Into the door. “So, let me get this straight. You are writing my blog post without my asking because why? You’re feeling generous?”

“That, and it seems people like when I write posts.”

Actually, I think it’s just him. He usually has some sort of writing wisdom to share. The fact that he’s incredibly easy on the eyes has nothing to do with it.

Nope, that has absolutely nothing to do with it.

“I think I’m going to stand outside for a few minutes.” I turn to open the door again.

“I’m almost finished. Then it’s your turn, love. You only have a few more chapters left for the Book 2 draft. Then you can dig into that other project you keep thinking about.”

“See, I knew you wanted something.”

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

This will be my (and my Muse’s) last post until after the New Year (except for the standard Merry Christmas/Happy New Year posts 😀 ). Enjoy your holidays with friends and family. Safe travels to all.

Keep writing!


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It’s that time of year

Yes, it’s that time of the year once again.

Quick! Look now! No weeds!

Time to prepare to plant the garden. My husband, son, and I took advantage of the glorious spring evening to lay out the garden, since my husband had tilled it the night before. You can barely see them in the upper left corner–that’s my son in the light shirt and jeans. It’s so nice to have a 21 year-old to do the muscle work!

This year hubs got enough chicken wire to go all the way around the garden. That’ll teach those damn rabbits! Unfortunately, chicken wire won’t stymie the chipmunks for long. I’ll have to set live traps again; I know we have chipmunks. I saw one taunting me from the metal pile.

We’ve been getting asparagus now for a week. It’s one of the best spring treats–fresh asparagus from the garden. My patch is looking a little sad, though, so I’ll have to plant more. Maybe next year.

The raspberries are, of course, out of control. And of more concern to me is this:

Creeping Charlie, the green plague

When we bought the place, there was no creeping charlie anywhere. Stinging nettle, giant ragweed, burdock, even cheeseweed, but no creeping charlie. Then we bought a project property in a teeny town about an hour away. At some point, hubs brought home some garbage bags of lawn clippings from that property, not sure why. And that’s when the plague started. Until this year, it’s been a safe distance from the garden. This patch in the picture is on the south side, and probably 20+ feet from the original patch. Not sure how that happened. It’s only a matter of time. Sigh.

No planting quite yet since the weather geeks are forecasting some nasty storms this weekend, and I really don’t want to go through all that and have to redo it all because the rain drowned it. So, maybe next week. Or next weekend.

And of course, the post wouldn’t be complete without the blog mascot:

Now, hold still so I can catch you!

Have a great writing weekend!