Writer’s Laryngitis

It’s rare my surly muse visits, and my writing has suffered in his absence. But, since I’ve reminded myself sucess is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, I’ve resisted the impulse to press the M key. Until now.

Alive or dead, Juan Reyes really is one of the most extraordinary characters I created. In case you don’t know, he was a videographer in my first novel. I killed him off so, in tribute to his stunning journalistic talent, good looks, irrepressible humor and selfishness, I resurrected him as my muse.

Tonight, in a gesture to the holidays, he wears new clothes, a black leather duster and broad-brimmed hat instead of his usual blood-stained fatigues. The overall effect is a bizarre combination of  western bad-guy and 1970s pimp. While I don’t comment on his clothes, I know he wouldn’t mind the comparison.Black leather jacket

Concern flickers in his eyes but, never given to sentimentality, a flirtatious grin immediately replaces worry.

“Been a long time since you summoned me,” he says, flashing his lighter and inhaling rapturously. Smoke wreaths my keyboard and while I can’t smell it, I remember the feeling.

I glance at him. He’s standing closer than usual tonight, almost within reach. Although he can’t enter the corporeal world, I have the strong feeling he wants to hug me.

“Laryngitis,” I say, turning to face him. “You know, my voice is gone.”

“Your voice sounds fine to me, but if it’s really a problem, try gargling with Jack Daniels twice a day.” In spite of his irreverent comment, he looks down at me, his dark face serious.

“Juan, I didn’t call you because…it took a while to figure out what was wrong with my book. My writer’s voice is gone, lost.”

dreadlocks 2He shakes his head, black dreads swirling over his shoulders. “I knew it was serious. I thought it was just my equipment when your words stopped coming. You put your WIP away, didn’t you?”

I nod.

“Don’t worry, girl,” Juan says, moving closer. I almost feel a rush of air as he brushes his hand over my keyboard and a single sentence appears on the monitor:


“There’s no shame in quitting,” he whispers.  “Keep in mind the world you created will serve you well in the next novel. You have a character who’s so powerful, wise and relentless, I’m almost jealous. You’ll use him again. You have lyricism you’ll repeat while you fold it in with new inspiration.”

He crosses his arms. “When you blog about me, that’s your voice. That’s the way your world is. Remember: the definition of writer’s voice is the intangible power you use to make the reader wish he could live in your book or make him damned glad he doesn’t. It’s a sensibility; it’s like me. Always there in the background, adding all three dimensions, running like illegal software in the reader’s mind. He’s not even aware what’s happening, but you’re seducing him while he reads.”

We’re silent for a moment, and then he says, “I think we should watch a Christmas movie, don’t you?”

“Anything for you, muse. Which one did you have in mind?” I ask, my cursor hesitating over Netflix.

DIEHARD! Love all that 20th century American cursing,” he laughs.

“One of my personal favorites,” I agree and, as a young Bruce Willis fills the screen, my muse fades into the starlight of my office window.window stars

Have you ever misplaced your writer’s voice, if so, what did you do to regain it?


Photos: Foter











Sharpies and Quill Pens

Thanks to Kirsten at http//ascenicroute.wordpress.com/ 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, http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/ 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.

Change of View

Synopsis Update:

How do you see your novel? My synopsis was beginning to look like this:frozen-brainstorm

I was just about to buy a copy of Scrivener. But – I stumbled on something else. Another Literature and Latte product called Scapple.

Since I’m still creating the synopsis, I needed a way to see, at a glance, synopsis ideas, path map, brainstorming. Yes, I know many writers do this brainstorming on paper, but once ideas start to flow there’s no way my hand can keep up with my head.  Until I tried Scapple, I was hesitant to use keyboard and screen. Drawing software is clumsy and Word is impossible. But Scapple is amazing. All you do is click on the blank page and new bubble comes up. I’m in heaven. I started with my two main characters, built around them, took them down the path with its twists and terrors  and ended up almost at the end. I have more synopsis grinding ahead, but it’s wonderful to see my ideas as part of a cohesive whole. Check it out.

Scapple png art

With Scapple creating new notes, linking them with arrows, adding color, stacking  them and changing  background shapes is easy! (Yikes, I sound like a cheesy late night TV advertisement.) Move notes from Scapple directly in Scrivener’s binder or freeform corkboard!  Print the document to a single pages or across multiple pages!

This simple and elegant software  is available for under $20.00 MAC version.

I’m using the free (until Sept. 30th) beta version for PC.

I’m excited about this because I could not see my story line in my head. I’m not sure why. Maybe my surly muse is messing with me again. But, I found a way around him. With Scapple, ideas poured out.

Try it. Maybe you just need a change of view.

How do you brainstorm? Any tips or warnings for the rest of us?

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