Sharpies and Quill Pens

Thanks to Kirsten at http// for inspiring my own visits with the muse.

orionOrion is tilting in the sky, creeping to the west, heralding spring. In a month, our planet will lean toward the Milky Way gifting those of us who live in dry, high climates the most gorgeous views of the stars from Earth.

However, my life has leaned away from the starry sky of writing, tilting toward life’s situations, spinning its own story.

My sometime muse, Juan Reyes, perches on the end of my desk, holding the fifth chapter of my current novel between thumb and forefinger like a piece of literary road kill.

“I suppose you hold me responsible for this mess?” he asks, winking at me.

He’s wearing the same clothes he wore the day of his death, the day I red-shirted him in my first novel with a bullet hole over the left breast pocket and sonic flame thrower burns down the front of his camera vest. His waist-length dreads are gathered at his neck with a silver clip. The high cheek bones of an Aztec priest and the confident grin of a talented, if dead, cosmic videographer still amaze me – I wrote this gorgeous creature.

I sniff. “Well, what do you think? You wandered off on some damned galactic vision quest, leaving me alone and look what happened.”

 He lights a cigarette, inhales deeply and smiles in my direction. I can almost smell the smoke.

smoke-1-2“My poor writer,” he whispers, his warm brown eyes glowing. “You just need a little jolt of enthusiasm, don’t you?”

Juan reaches over me and sweeps his hand across my computer screen leaving a swirl of  sparks in his wake. I glare at him.Juan's Hand

“Don’t short out this monitor with some vain attempt to enter the corporeal world,” I shout.  “It’s an iMac; it cost a fortune!”

He smiles the dark smile that broke hearts all over the universe as he shakes his head. “You twenty-first century writers  think this overpriced, slick equipment is going to mine the creative recesses of your brains. Much better authors than you wrote with quill pens, pencils, or Sharpies. They didn’t allow distractions to get in their way,  and they didn’t allow their personal lives to stop them.” His eyes glint at me and the edges of his body haze –  a sure sign he’s leaving.

“You made the choice, my writer, ” he says.  “You made the choice to concentrate on your life. Sometimes humans have to work the cards they’re dealt, but that means you have to look harder for inspiration. It is everywhere: in the imagination of friends, in the eyes of strangers, in the night sky. You just have to take the time and the courage to look.”

Juan blows me a kiss as the stars begin to glow through his body. “And, don’t forget, is just around the corner. I’ll be sending you short bursts of inspiration, 21-cm wavelengths from the stars , but you’ll have to be alert and ready to receive them.”

I grab the nearest paper and stubby pencil and scribble for a few minutes. When I look up again, he’s gone. But, I know he’ll be back, sooner than later. And I’ll be ready.

How do you find your way back from life on Earth to the realms of writing?

Photos from Foter, art from Clkr.

Show Me the Middle


I’m writing the last chapter of my novel to show me the middle of the story. Some where on the scary white screen, the solution to my problem lurks like a polar bear in a snowstorm.

frustration-was-threesixtyfive-day-244-8_lThis last-chapter-first isn’t my original idea, of course, but this is the first time I’ve felt the need for this kind of inspiration and guidance. (My muse is of no help. He’s off in the Bahamas somewhere, warming in the sun and drinking my Corona.)

I suppose each novel presents new challenges but somehow I’m in an unwanted pause mode. Too far in to stop. Funny, isn’t it? Last novel I had to cut over 10,000 words, and this time I struggle for each paragraph. Maybe I’ve forgotten to first draft with my heart and not my head.

The successes and problems of the first novel taught me so much; the second novel shows me how much I still have to learn.

What are you learning from your second novel?

Shopping Victories – Truck Shopping

Yes. I’ve decided this is a series. Shopping Victories.

Too Big
Too Big

Ok. So I had to wait on the new jeans. I had to buy a car instead.

My  purchase was a small pickup truck, the third one I’ve owned. I feel safer, bigger and badder in a truck. People treat you differently on the road. When I drove my Nissan minivan I could almost hear mutters of other drivers as they passed me. “There goes some pokey woman in a mini-van.” Little did they know my van had a V6 and could go from zero to sixty JLT (just like that).

My stalwart mini-van lasted 160,000 miles.  It had the best sound system ever. It was comfortable.  But, after 14 years of faithful service, it became unsafe to drive so, on the advice of my mechanic – “Nancy, get rid of that van TOmorrow!!” – I did just that.

Too Small
Too Small

I checked the web, found three dealers within sixty miles and started calling. One gentleman found the exact truck I was looking for, the only one in the entire state with wheels-on-the ground, and sent me an email. I used the email to bargain with a local car dealer.   Holding my crumpled email in front of me like a shield, I stormed the castle of the American Dream…well, not really.

The internet has changed everything about buying a car. No longer are customers at the mercy of predatory salesmen. You just walk in, show ’em the paper and voilà- deal’s done! Within less than twenty-four hours I was driving away in my truck, my head swimming with new car smell.

Just Right
Just Right

Some things are easier than finding a pair of jeans that fit! And a lot more expensive. But, who cares? I’m rolling down the road in my great ride.
What was your most memorable unexpected shopping victory?


gentaSome characters are hard to describe. Like the male POV in my second novel. Occasionally, I run into a person who defies my imagination. (A sign of a truly memorable individual.)  After an extensive written sketch of this scary guy, his habits, faults and very bad behavior, I still had only a blurred idea what he looked like.  So, at this point, I searched for a face that intrigued me. I typed in warrior and this  fantastic man appeared.

I‘ll write to this photo and morph him to life on paper.

I rarely use my cartooning skills any more, but sometimes I’ll draw these rare birds myself. There is nothing like the feeling when the perfect spirit rises from my pencil, fully formed and breathing. draft-5_l

For the strong natural locations in my novels I find scenes, download them, and use the visual information to create virtual descriptions. I add a vocabulary list to use while I’m describing these gorgeous places. I was fortunate to visit Bandelier National Monument, and now I’ll transport its beauty to another world. DSCN2098

And, yes, some of my folks and surroundings still come directly from my imagination. On a good day.

How do you mold your people and their habitats? From your keyboard or your pencil? From your dreams?

Images one and two from

Image three from

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