Surprising news about my Muse!

May 15, 2013

Over the weekend, I started working on How to Think Sideways lesson three, which involves a really cool brainstorming exercise, “Calling down Lightning”, and talks a lot about getting to know your muse better. The brainstorming went really well; I came up with two good ideas over a few waking hours and one night of sleep on the weekend, and I think I’ve got another today that I’m going to start this evening for a short fiction contest.

But I was definitely startled by some of the things I learned about my muse. For one thing, I found out that it wants to be able to communicate by talking to me out loud. I’ve suggested a few ground rules on that so that I don’t blurt out a story idea in a situation where it would be awkward to explain what I was blathering on about, but in general I liked the concept.

I was wondering about a picture for my muse too, and at first I didn’t come up with anything but the old standby I’ve told you about before, and I got the sense that my muse wasn’t really wild about looking like Liz Parker, but didn’t suggest anything different over the weekend. At some point yesterday or the day before, I walked into the living room, noticed some of my stuffed animals sitting on the stereo, and idly remarked, “Maybe some of you guys  could be the face of my muse.”

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To which Ember, the golden owl with the smart black bow tie, shot back, (with my voice,) “Who says that isn’t what we’ve been all along?”

That really got me thinking. I know that a lot of people, writers or no, might think of having stuffed animals around, talking to them, and having them talk back, as something childish that should be stopped before you enter your teen years. My mother and I definitely wouldn’t agree with that sentiment. She has some beloved teddy bears of her own, and while I don’t know how much she talks to them while I’m not around, she usually doesn’t mind chatting with them if I do.

We even have two small stuffed bears who have become a package deal; Almond was mine and Praline Mom’s, but now they shuffle back and forth between our homes, seldom splitting up. They look fairly similar, maybe six inches long or so with brownish coats, but lying on their bellies in a sortuv polar-bear-like pose. And there have been a few moments when I wonder if Almond and Praline are ship-teasing us, dropping hints that their relationship is a teddy bear romance and not just a close friendship, but never admitting anything straight out. 🙂

I never really thought of stuffed animals in terms of my muse or my inspiration before, but considering the fact that my muse wanted to speak to me out loud, and that since I was little I’ve been speaking for teddy bears and other stuffed animals with my own voice, there’s probably a deep connection there. And big thanks to my parents, for never telling me that that spark of imagination, that suspension of disbelief, that can give a teddy bear or stuffed cat a personality of its own is something I have to give up in order to grow up. I’m sure that spending all this time with them has helped me keep my creative edge in ways that I never guessed.

Campaigner Spotlight: Kelly Crandall

October 10, 2011

First, I’d like to take a quick moment to thank so many great writers for giving me spotlight material. Today the spotlight falls on Kelly Crandall, and her blog, As seen through a different glass.

Who is your favorite musician – you have to pick just one!
Ack! You said ‘musician’, as in singular! I can’t just give my regular answer then, because Muse is a band. So then, let’s see … I pick … Loreena McKennitt, and here’s why.
She has an amazing voice. I love her Celtic sound, and traditional instruments in her music like the Celtic harp and bodhrán drum. I love fairy tales, and stories of dragons and castles and knights and ladies, so I love how McKennitt’s songs are influenced by literature and folklore, much of it from the Middle Ages. She builds vivid worlds with her lyrics. Her storytelling is deeply poetic. She does a lot of research before she composes anything, and I appreciate how all that work shines through her songs. She is a writer AND musician. And her sound is so … “me.” Ancient and classical and orchestral and new age all blended up in a minor key. I think Tango to Evora is probably the most sensual song I have ever heard (right up there with Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor). I first discovered her in 1992, and still love her work just as much today. It has stood the test of time.

What would you do all night if you couldn’t get to sleep?
If I had something important the next morning that I didn’t want to be tired for, I’d lay there and stew and worry and fret, then I’d get up and drink a glass of warm milk and try again. If I didn’t really have to be awake the next day, I’d get
up and log on to the internet, and I’d head over to and pick up researching my genealogy where I left off. I can kill hours doing that.
I haven’t verified most of the lineages past my great-great-great grandparents, but it kind of doesn’t matter to me whether they’re accurate or not. It’s more about just linking people through times and places, and discovering how people traveled and where they settled. When I click on a little green leaf (which means that someone else has entered parental information on a particular person in my lineage), and I follow the links back even deeper in time, the names that pop up always trigger my imagination, and I visualize the world that person must have lived in, their houses and clothing and animals and neighbors, and even what they might have looked like, with freckles and smiles or frowns and dirty faces. Clicking those little green leaves is addictive!
And then the sun would come up, and I would get grumpy for being up all night. But until then I would have been completely immersed in another time, which I love.

What is your favorite genre to write in?
Is email a genre? How about facebook postings? No? Oh, well then.
I like writing picture books (or “early readers” if the picture books get too long, ha ha). I always visualize my “target audience” tucked into a warm and cozy bed, the room safe and quiet and peaceful, the child sleepily settling in to hear a soothing story. Imagining that scenario opens up a place inside me where rhythm and poetry flow, and I try to build a world of sound and imagery that is going to wash over the child and relax her and make her fall asleep happy in the world she just heard.
I also feel I have a lot to say to children about how to be a positive force in the world, and I think my command of metaphor is a strength that allows me to turn lessons into engaging stories. Another strength I think I have is the ability to break down complex concepts and make them simple. Plus I like rhythmic poetry and song lyrics and patterns in sound and building pictures with words. All of which naturally leads to writing for small children.

About Me:
I’ve been told all my life that I should write. But it was only when I started blogging and attracted loyal readers that I found the confidence to write for an audience. I blog to connect with people on a very human level. I don’t want to teach or lecture or be an “expert” in a single topic. I just want to share my viewpoints and tell my stories in a very honest way, in hopes that my readers connect, through my words, with the greater human experience. My readers say they love my blog. I hope you do, too.

Musing about muses.

September 12, 2011

I’ve been thinking a bit about muses lately – ever since dropping by Iggi and Gabi’s blog this weekend. Gabi is a middle grade and young adult author, a fellow campaigner. Iggi is her muse, and it’s a somewhat cute but odd-looking critter.

My muse doesn’t really have a name. I’m sure that she’s been hanging around my life ever since I was a little boy, but she was invisible until I started looking for her, which was during my Roswell fanfic phase, because a lot of my friends over at Roswell Fanatics were talking about their muses. So, when mine finally appeared to me, she showed up looking a lot like Shiri Appleby, who played Liz Parker on the show. She’s also usually around 20 centimeters tall, subject to change, and flies around without wings. Even though I’m no longer so Roswell-obsessed as I used to be, Musey appears to like that shape and has shown no signs of changing it in order to look like some newer fad.

I don’t usually see my muse at all when I’m writing, but I’m glad that I went out and found her like I did, it’s a nice way to remind me that she’s there, supporting my creative energy and doing everything she can to keep me inspired.

So – have you ever spotted your muse? If so, what is he/she/it like? If not, would you like to find a muse?

Unedited and Unsettled.

April 25, 2011

U stands for…

I wasn’t quite sure what to do for U – didn’t want to geek out about Ubuntu, or write another angry rant about Umbrellas, so I decided that I’d look for spotlights, and there are two great blogs who can share this spot on the calendar.

Unedited from Jen Daiker is one of the home blogs of the A-Z challenge, along with Tossing It Out, Alex Cavanaugh and Talli Roland. It looks like she’s been doing some great stuff for A-Z all month, so go over there and check it out if you’re not already avidly following her.

Regina Linton, with Unsettled, isn’t doing the A-Z challenge, but she’s a Crusader, in group 10 with the rest of the paranormal crowd. She’s also got some interesting posts up about how to improve your relationship with your muse.

So, that’s it until tomorrow. This week looks like it’s going to have some tough slogging at the end of the alphabet, but I’ll figure out something!

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