Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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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!

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Back in the flow — sort of #amwriting

Last weekend’s writing conference was a blast, even if it was busy for me, with panels and presentations and one-on-one meetings with other writers. As an introvert, that sort of event, even if it is a wonderful meeting of writers doing writerly things and talking everything writing, is draining. On the other side of it, though, is the sheer amount of creative energy that coalesces at these events. I think it has a lot to do with all those muses getting together. It’s like a muse convention.

In any case, that creative energy has clung to me, and I have started writing again. Nothing major, but it’s a start. Right now I’m writing longhand, because I think that encourages the process somehow. And I can feel a sort of relief as I’m writing again. It’s like I get anxious when I don’t write for too long.

Then again, maybe that anxiety has to do with the blizzard we had this week, with around 5 inches of heavy wet snow. And damn it, the grass was just starting to turn green and the trees are starting to bud. Ugh. And now it melts. So, three inches of slushy snow + gravel driveway = almost impassable even with 4WD. I hope things dry out a bit by the time I go back to work on Monday.

In the meantime, I have the weekend slated for Easter entertaining preparation (read: spring cleaning). Nothing like the thought of relatives coming over to kick off a frenzy of cobweb chasing and dust bunny wrangling. But what better way to put off cleaning than to sit down and write?

I open the door to my writing office and discover the light is already on. And guess who is chilling behind my desk?

“It’s about time, love. I thought you would be a bit more industrious after the conference.” My Muse pulls his feet off my desk and exits my chair, sweeping an arm in its direction. “I warmed it up for you.” The smirk on his face tells me he probably did more than warm it up. I’d better check for whoopi cushions or tacks.

“Would I do that to you?” He sits on a corner of the desk, one leg dangling. His dark denim jeans, white t-shirt, and flannel shirt in the traditional red and black checkerboard pattern, sleeves rolled up to his elbows, makes me wonder what he’s up to. It’s like he’s preparing for a wilderness tour. Not that I’m complaining. Nope. Not complaining about the rugged look at all. I should be thankful there is no fedora or bullwhip in sight.

“Really, love? Why would I be up to anything but nurturing your creativity?” His crooked smile tells me I’m more right than I hoped.

“Uh-huh. Like you and all those other muses at the conference didn’t swap ‘how to get your writer’s butt in the chair and fingers on the keyboard’ stories? I’m sure you have a few new ideas.”

“I do. But I won’t use them unless I have to. You seem to be getting your stride back. Good job.”

“Don’t get too excited. You know I have to get ready for Easter.”

“Yes, but you’re writing again. And you set yourself up to be accountable with your project.”

What I suspect he didn’t say was something about being disappointed that being accountable to him isn’t enough. “You know, you are really good at your job. It’s just … I need someone who can help me work through the process again.”

“Do you know how long I’ve been helping writers work through the process?”

Honestly, I’m afraid to ask. With my luck he probably worked with Dante. Probably gave the man the idea for the circles of Hell. “No, but I’m good with that. Not knowing. I’ll be diving in to that after Easter. Promise.”

He studies me with those blue eyes of his. The room is getting warmer. I swear it is. His eyes narrow. “Good. I’m going to hold you to that, love.”

Ahh, yeah. O-kay. Anyway …

This weekend focusing on a much-needed, long-delayed bout of spring cleaning. Despite the three inches of rapidly-melting slush outside. Ick. Just when everything had finally dried out, we get this. Winter, you made your point, now go on vacation until, like, Christmas. Okay, maybe Thanksgiving. Just go away.

Have a wonderful writing week!

 


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Almost there …

checklist-2077020_1280

So many things to think about, get prepped, and design. And time seems to slip away. Maybe I need to take a sabbatical. Or maybe just a weekend with nothing else going on. No kids home from college, which always throws extra energy into the routine, and usually means I don’t get a whole lot done.

I do have an excuse to hunker down for the next week: it’s going to be freaking cold. I mean, below zero cold. For the high. We’ve been so spoiled this winter, and now when the hard stuff gets here, it’s almost nostalgic. You know, the ol’ “I remember when we had -40 windchills. For days.” Yep. This is nothin’ when you think about it.

It’s Minnesota, after all.

“I thought you were going to do a cover reveal, love.” My Muse settles a hip on my desk beside me. “You have the image.” He’s doing the flannel thing, with an appropriate thermal shirt underneath his black- and red-checked flannel, sleeves rolled halfway up his forearms. Worn jeans and hiking boots complete the lumberjack flair. “So share it. Everyone’s waiting.”

I lean back in my chair. “Except when I share it, everyone is going to want to see the listing. And the listing isn’t complete.” I just sent an email to my publisher asking them to please complete the listing. A half-finished listing is not professional. I think I would be disappointed if I went to look up an author’s book and the listing didn’t even have the cover the author just revealed.

“The ebook isn’t even on the listing yet.” And we’re in the red zone in terms of book release. I mean, seriously. I’m trying to be patient. I really am. It’s just frustrating. My agent suspects it’s fallout from the merger. She’s probably right, but that doesn’t make things any easier.

My Muse sighs. “Everyone knows a cover reveal is just that. The cover. No one expects the listings to be complete.

“Yes, they do. I mean, how many times have I gone and put in a pre-order after the author has done a cover reveal?”

“How many?”

Of course he would have to ask. “Okay, I don’t know exactly, but it’s a lot. And I have to figure out my author website, and my newsletter.” Which I have been working on.

“The site will go through changes, love. Everyone’s site gets refined over time.”

“Thanks, but that doesn’t do much to reassure me. My publisher doesn’t even have my book listed on their ‘Coming Soon’ page yet.”

“It’ll work out, love.””

“Nice thought. I’m just not seeing it yet.” On the bright side, if I don’t have my author page finished this weekend, it’ll give my publisher more time to get the listing fixed before people see the not-quite-done one.

“Hey.” My Muse slips off my desk, takes hold of my arm, and lifts me from my chair. He turns me to face him, blue eyes full of reassurance. “You keep doing your thing. Do what you can do and don’t fret over what you can’t control.”

“Fret? Really?” No one says “fret” anymore.

A crooked grin stretches across his face. “Yes, really. Look it up.”

Sigh. Okay, here’s something to tide you over:

teasers_cr

Oh, and can’t forget Zoey:

zoey_cr

She sure looks regal here. Yep, just like a cat to think she’s in charge. 😀

O-kay. Stay tuned …


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Here come the holidays

Oh boy. Less than two weeks until Christmas. And the solstice.

I think I’m looking forward to the solstice more; the thought of more minutes of daylight per day sounds better than Christmas music on every single radio station all day long.

Kids are home from college for the next month, so the house has suddenly gotten smaller. Funny how that works 😉  The week before Christmas (man, do I have all my Christmas shopping done??) will be a blend of work and baking cookies, doing whatever shopping I have left (I better check my list 😮 ), and trying to fit in some writing. Oh, and the ever-present cleaning, which I neglected all through NaNo, and the past few weeks due to trying my hand at creating FB covers, and blog headers, and twitter posts, etc in preparation for when I get my final cover.

In fact, all I want for Christmas is my cover. (Don’t get me started. I’ll be nudging my publisher on Monday.)

Also, I’ll be jumping into the rest of the fray when it comes to book stuff: email list, newsletter, website, and all the other stuff that goes with it.

So, short post this week, and next week will be a holiday post, so enjoy this time with family, friends, pets, and hey, take some time for yourself. There’s nothing like a quiet walk in the woods to soothe a creative soul. And the hoarfrost we had earlier this week was that quiet sort of beauty.

hoarfrost 1

Hoarfrost in the grove

Have a great week!

 


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Winding up for NaNo

tree

Okay, call me crazy (again). My big plan is to participate in NaNoWriMo again this year. Yeah, I know. Nothing like giving myself a week to finish my WIP draft and jump into another completely different story.

“You are having trouble with your WIP as it is, love.” My Muse closes the back door of my writing office, but not before a cool wash of air sneaks in carrying the scent of fallen leaves, that earthy aroma with a spicy edge. His black and red flannel shirt, sleeves rolled to his elbows, is almost too expected, with worn jeans and hiking boots. “And yet you choose to jump into a month-long writing frenzy.” He leans a hip on my desk. “What the hell are you thinking?”

I rock back in my chair. “Obviously, I’m thinking if I have a deadline for my rough draft, I’ll get it done.”

He crosses his arms on his broad chest and sighs. “How’s that working for you?”

Truthfully, not well. “You know the answer to that.”

“I do. Which is why I’m wondering what the hell you’re thinking.”

“Hey, I’ve been working on other stuff I need to do for my book. S had a great list she posted a few weeks back on Story Empire. I’m working through the stuff I can do without a cover, like picking out quotes and excerpts from my book that I can use as teasers for the cover reveal and stuff.”

“You need to finish your WIP, love.” He leans over, bracing hands on my desk and looming over me. “That’s your priority. Do you really think you can finish the draft by November?”

When he makes it sound like that … “Yes. I mean, I’m at the midpoint crisis.”

“Mid. Point. That’s the middle.”

“Or so.”

“You have how many days?” he asks, his blue eyes drilling into mine. Hey, he looks like he hasn’t shaved in a few days. It looks good. Rustic. Like we should be out in the woods somewhere in a log cabin, with a fireplace, and …

*snaps fingers* “Pay attention, love.”

I am. Oh, he means to what he’s saying. “I know, I know.”

He shakes his head in exasperation. I think it’s exasperation. Pretty sure.

“You will finish your WIP before jumping into another project, because you have got to get that draft done, which you well know.” He straightens. “Deal?”

“Sure.”

I’ve got a Sisters In Crime panel to go to this afternoon–for moral support 🙂 It’s only a half-hour away, and it’s another opportunity to see how things work in the world of author panels.

And here’s Zoey, enjoying a warm place to nap, because I know cats make people feel all warm and fuzzy (unless they have allergies, in which case cats make them feel itchy and runny-nosey).

zoey_cr

Have a wonderful weekend!

dory


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Happy Equinox Day!

Okay, so the equinox won’t be until 8:54 pm (CDT). Then we get to welcome autumn. I love autumn. The colors, the smells, the lack of bugs, the impending arrival of winter–wait. Nope, not one of the things I love about autumn. Then again, if we could have winter through, say, January, so we have a white Christmas and all that, then we can do spring. Who’s with me?

This past week we’ve had rain. Not just any rain. We’re talking record rain for September in MN. We’re talking wheelbarrow rain here.

water wheelbarrow No, that is not a kid-sized wheelbarrow. Nor is it parked under a waterspout. We figure we got somewhere around 5-6 inches over the past week. Or more. We don’t have a rain gauge, just the calibrated dog dishes on the deck.

Needless to say, I was apprehensive about going out to the garden, with all the rain and the mud and the mutant zucchini. I tugged on my trusty garden treads and headed out anyway, because I had a blog post to write. 😀

And this is what I found:

Yep, it was a jungle. Things are winding down in the garden about now. The green beans are done, the zucchini are still going, but I might pull them out soon. The cukes are still going, and the tomatoes are in the thick of ripening season.

Speaking of, tomatoes and tons of rain don’t get along all that well. It’s the main reason I went out to the garden sooner rather than later. Take a look:

If I can get the tomatoes right away, we can eat them before they go bad. But if I can’t pick them soon enough, the mold sets in, and the flies start gathering like rats to a piper. Hubs made a batch of spaghetti sauce this week, and I think we need more bacon (BLTs with homegrown tomatoes are the bomb!)

The kale is looking super, but I’m going to try to wait to pick it until after the first frost (if I can wait that long). Some people don’t like it, but I love brussels sprouts, and kale is in the same family. It’ll sweeten a bit after a frost, and it’ll last until it snows.

kale row

Black (aka Dinosaur) Kale (with curly kale in the back)

I promised someone I’d post pics of the peppers I did last weekend. Hubs and I go through phases where we’ll eat pickled peppers as snacks. Think of the pickled peppers you find in the salad at Olive Garden. You can buy them in the grocery store. They are pepperoncini peppers, and a bit on the spicy side, but not too bad.

This year my hubs asked if I would plant some of those peppers so we could try pickling our own (regular pickles from the store are cheaper than the peppers, but the peppers are so tasty!). Well, I found pepperoncini seeds, and voila!

pepperoncini

Pepperoncini peppers

They are prolific! I have done two batches of peppers already, a smaller test batch (which is half gone 😀 ) and a larger batch, and there are enough peppers still out in the garden to do more. A good thing, because I don’t know how long the ones I’ve already done will last.

pickled-peppers.jpg

Homemade pickled peppers

I planted some small snacking peppers as well, but I couldn’t get a good picture of those. I also see another batch of pico de gallo salsa in my future, even if my cilantro is mostly flowering now. I’m sure I’ll find some volunteer cilantro plants since they reseed like crazy.

On the writing front, I’m plugging along. Only about 700-1200 words a night, but more than zero. Slowly but surely, like the tortoise. Or Dory.

dory

 

So, enjoy the first day of Autumn, and Just Keep Writing!


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It’s a jungle out there

I know you all like to see pictures of my garden, and it’s about that time. Thing is, ever since I got back from my reunion retreat, I’ve been less than enthusiastic about weeding. As in, not-weeding-unless-I-can’t-find-the-vegetables enthusiastic.

Part of it is the weather–it’s been hot and humid here. Part of it is the time of year, I think. All the weeds are seeding now. When I got back from Wisconsin, I checked out the garden.

Ugh.

On the bright side, most of the weeds are purslane, which is more ground-hugging, so it isn’t shading any of the veggies. In fact, it might even be acting like a sort of mulch.

purslane

A carpet of purslane

So, really, it isn’t all that bad if you look at it that way. It just looks messy.

Another deterrent to getting out into the garden? The ragweed is blooming now. And if you remember, we have giant ragweed. Yes, that’s really what it’s called, and with good reason–the plant can be up to 15′ high (I think that’s around 5 meters for those on the metric system).

And though common ragweed is generally no more than a foot high, it has nothing on the large “flowers” the giant stuff has.

You see all that yellow stuff? That’s ALL pollen. And that’s the stuff that people are allergic to. Including me. We try to cut down as much ragweed as we can before it flowers, but of course we never get it all. And in some areas, we just can’t get to it.

Lucky for me, ever since I had surgery to correct my deviated septum, allergy season hasn’t been as bad as it used to be. I can still breathe. And yes, I know I’m allergic to it, because the one time I got tested, they wanted to stop the test because my back broke out from the moment they applied the ragweed allergen. (If you’ve never been tested for allergies, back almost 20 yrs ago when I was tested, they applied allergens to your back using tiny needles to barely prick the skin. I have no idea what they do now.)

BTW, many people blame these allergies on goldenrod, which blooms at the exact same time, and happens to have tiny yellow flowers the same color as ragweed pollen. Goldenrod also tends to grow next to ragweed, so it gets a bad rap.

Anyway, they aren’t pretty, but here are pics I took last night. The cilantro/coriander is blooming now, the dill is blooming, and the cucumbers are spreading everywhere!

garden1

Row of green beans and cilantro, with a carpet of purslane back by the tomatoes.

garden2

Zucchini and cucumbers. Notice the “wall” of giant ragweed way in the background over by the chicken pen.

I’ve been picking zucchini, green beans, and of course, cucumbers. I just picked the first tomato. Okay, I should have waited another day or two, but hey, it’s the first ripe tomato!

The kale has been heartily attacked by cabbage worms, and though I’ve been meaning to spray, I haven’t done so. I try to avoid using chemicals, and though I have an organic pesticide to use, I haven’t mixed it up yet.

The peppers are doing well. This year I planted pepperoncini peppers, which are the ones they use for pickled peppers, like what you get in the salad at Olive Garden. We’ve been eating pickled peppers lately, so my husband suggested I plant some so we can pickle our own.

And there you have it. My writing–now that I’m finally getting going with Book 2–is another reason I’m reluctant to spend a lot of time in the garden. And it’s hot. And frankly, I’m tired. I might not plant a garden next year, but then again, tomatoes. And peppers. And we don’t have a good farmer’s market around. Or maybe we’ll get a membership in the CSA for the school garden. We’ll see.

Have a wonderful and writing-filled weekend!