Tag Archives: muse

Writing Lessons: What a New Shirt Taught Me About the Muse

I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

Susan-Mermaid-avatar   I had a “fashion” moment last Saturday.

I’d been to the hair salon for a cut and color – an absolute must before a major holiday!  I’d driven with bestie Colleen to Danbury for shopping.  First, I said, let’s stop for a bite to eat.  Then, I promised, we would attack the mall and our Christmas lists.

But, as I crossed the parking lot, I realized:

  • The shirt I was wearing didn’t feel “good” on my body anymore,
  • It was too short for the current styles,
  • And it was faded.

We must detour, I insisted.  Just a quick stop at JCPenney, I promised.  Yes, I typically take several hours to decide on anything, but this will be different!  Zipped in, scanned the offerings, tried on three shirts, selected one.  I wore it to the cashier and held out of the tag dangling from my wrist:

“I realized the shirt I was wearing is too old to be decent.” (Colleen holds up the shirt I’d arrived in as proof) “So I found this shirt, and I want to wear it right now – can you ring it up without me taking it off?”

Like this, but prettier.

Do you know, this might be my favorite shirt now?  It got me out of a fashion pickle, allowing me to shop for several more hours without that sneaking sense of frumpdom.  I even cuddled the other shirt, safely wadded up in the JCPenney bag the sales associate had offered us, gave it a farewell pat… and stuffed it in a Food Court garbage can.

That’s how determined I was not to be lured into wearing it again.  Its twin (same print, different color) is still at home, but in the bag for Goodwill.  Let someone else deal with it.

You might wonder what this has to do with writing?  Well, when opportunity knocks, you answer.  You don’t hesitate, you act!

When it’s time to write, you don’t wait.  You don’t tell yourself  “Oh, I’ll remember that!  It’s such a good idea, how could I forget it?”  You can!  You can forget it!  Give your brain five milliseconds of distraction and your inspiration is gone!

You don’t tell the Muse to hang on.  When you have the idea, it’s time to buckle down and get your work done.

I hit JCPenney with an idea in mind.  I was determined to act on the idea.  It happened.  Not because I dithered.  Because I acted!

So, here’s the lesson.  Grab your Muse, shake it loose and tell it to get off its sweet hiney and give you material.  Then, don’t wait around for that fickle bitch to show up.   Make the material happen.  She’ll figure it out.

You can do this!  It’s your choice.  Are you gonna wear that tacky old shirt and hope the writing shows up?

I’m saying that the right man for you might be out there right now and if you don’t grab him, someone else will, and you’ll have to spend the rest of your life knowing that someone else is married to your husband.”

You can do better.  If you choose to be a writer, find it in yourself to step away from the tacky old shirts, the worn-out excuses, the distractions, and the do-overs.

The fact that you’re not answering leads me to believe you’re either (a) not at home, (b) home but don’t want to talk to me, or (c) home, desperately want to talk to me, but trapped under something heavy. If it’s either (a) or (c), please call me back.

Stupid delay tactics.  They neve work!  Which is why Harry had to run across New York to find Sally and claim her, at last, on New Year’s Eve.

Good for him.

Love It or List It?

I am an unapologetic HGTV-slut.  I. Love. That. Channel.

It doesn’t matter what is on – I’ll watch anything – but my favorites are House Hunters and Property Virgins.  But, a new program has caught my eye and I’ll definitely be tuning in when it premieres later this month – Love It or Leave It.

The premise is that when homeowners live in a house long enough and they lose the lovin’ feeling the question pops up as to whether they renovate or move.  In this show, two real estate professionals take opposite viewpoints and try to convince the homeowner to either stay in their home or list it for sale.  I think it looks fabulous!

It also reminds me of a recent writing dilemma I had about an old, unfinished manuscript. Now, I’m a little type A (don’t snicker, those of you who know me well) and I just can’t leave things unfinished – it drives me crazy.  But, this ms started out so strong and then, like a literary barracuda, I was distracted by a bright shiny object and put it aside.

Now, here’s my confession: It was easy to put it to the side because I’d hit a snag in the ms, wasn’t feeling the love for it anymore and . . . well, the other story was SO shiny!

So, I recently pulled it out and took a look at it to see what I wanted to do with my poor little orphaned baby. It still has the problems I hated before and shockingly the little writing elf did not finish it for me as it languished on my hard drive.  Sigh.

So, what do I do?  I’m working on my NaNo project right now and that takes immediate priority. But November will end and I’ll finish my WIP and the orphan will still be sitting there.

I need to decide if it’s worth picking up or if I should just shelve it for a different time – which might be never. Do I love it?  Do I list it?

I honestly don’t have a clue.

Do you have any advice? Have you faced the same question about one of your babies? When is it time to let a book go?


Getting To Know You

Okay – I’m at the crossroads in the cycle of my writing life. I’m done with one manuscript (although I may switch some chapters around do some rewrites – but I digress) and chomping at the bit to start the next one. And, this is my honeymoon period, my magical time when I am getting to know my characters and seeing where they want to go with this story. Why do they need this story told?

I have a process for this and a place where I deposit all of this crazy information that I glean and will probably never use.  I dump all this stuff – photos (Like the inspiration for my latest hero), maps, research – into Scrivener for Windows in the WIP Notebook I bought from Jeannie Reusch and loaded into the Scrivener tool.  This allows me to keep track of the details of names, places etc of the main characters and the secondary characters as well. It’s a little anal but it keeps from calling the mailman Bob in Chapter 1 and Skippy in Chapter 6.

But, this really doesn’t help me get under the skin of my character. Yep, their eye color is important but it doesn’t get to the essence of my character.  So, I’ve developed a few questions that help me get down to the grit of who the hero and heroine are:

1. What do you want out of life?

2. What is keeping you from achieving that goal?

3. What is the one thing you wouldn’t want the hero/heroine to know about you?

4. What is your biggest regret?

5. What are you most proud of in your life?

6. What are you most ashamed of in your life?

7. When you walk in a room, what are the three things people will notice about you?

8. What would you be willing to lie about?

9. How would you like to die?

10. What are the most important traits in a true friend?

That’s my list.  Pretty grim but I think that the darkest parts of ourselves are what really counts – the rest is a facade for the comfort of other people.

So, what are your questions? What is your process?




My New Snoopy Lunchbox

For a week now I have been in limboland – in between writing projects and recharging my battery.  I’ve caught up on some TV (Royal Pains and Rizzoli & Isles), read some great books (“Plus Ones” by Hank Edwards and “Everyone Loves a Hero” by Marie Force), studied some craft (Save the Cat!) and indulged in a little Jake Gyllenhall nudity in “Love and Other Drugs”. (and, in answer to my Main Man – no you cannot wear out a DVD by watching it constantly – I think.)

But now I’m ready to start on the new book targeted for Harlequin Blaze and while I’m not going to go too crazy – I’m going to do things a little differently this time. While I usually create a loose outline (I’m a plotser), I’m going to write my synopsis first.  Now, I hear the groans out there, but I don’t mind writing a synopsis but I usually leave it to the end. I just want to see how it works for me this way.

The second thing is that I am going to try and write this book in the Scrivener for Windows writing tool.  My friend, Gwen Hernandez, challenged me and so I’m going to venture out of Word and take the plunge. And I’ll admit something here but only to you  . . .  so . . .  lean in closer while I whisper . . .

*it’s kind of freaking me out*

But, not in a I-need-to-call-Dr.Phil kind way.

It’s kind of exciting and edgy and  . . .  yes, I need to get out more . . . it’s really getting my creative juices flowing and my fingers itching to hit the keyboards. It’s similar to the thrill I got with my new school supplies. I  just KNEW that the Wonder Woman folders, new pencils and Snoopy lunch box were going to make school so fun and easy.

It’s THAT kind of exciting.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

What writing methods do you have and do you ever shake them up?

Robin Mermaid






#amwriting Word Metrics

Project: Exposure

Deadline: Oct. 31, 2011

New Words Written: None. Pre-plotting.

Present Total Word Count: zippo.

The Muse…To Tell or Not To Tell?

Today I happened to be innocently surfing the web, in search of…well, a kick start for a character, yes…a muse.  I came upon the official website of a talented and handsome actor and decided to check it out.  The website was under construction but there was one active tab I could click on.  So I did.  And it was a link to contact the actor through email. 

That is a dangerous thing in the hands of a writer on the search for that little something to give her some oomph behind a character.  My first reaction was to click on the link, type something cheesy about how talented and handsome he is and to be clever, add a little thank you for being my inspiration today. 

Thank goodness my secret sense kicked in just in time before I made a fool of myself!!

And it got me thinking…as a writer, which aspects of your personal process do you feel should be kept secret and which ones do you think are safe and beneficial to share with the rest of us?

As for me, I definitely think that the muse is the one thing to keep mysterious.  Share everything else because it helps others.  But the pictures we paint in our minds as we read about a character are so personal and subjective; I would never want a reader to have my own taste get in the way of theirs.

That being said and to have a little fun, (because it’s entirely too hot out not to have some fun!) I am going to give my “five hottest guys” list.  Please don’t leave me hanging…come on, let’s see yours too!

Disclaimer—No active muse of mine is listed below!

1. Snoop Dog

2. Andy Whitfield

3. Dave Gahan

4. Jimmy Fallon

5. Robert Pattinson