The Muse – Illusive but friendly…

Every Writer has one of these Creatures sat on your shoulder. As do Artists, Musicians, Dancers, Crafters, Cooks… any creative pursuit attracts the Muse. So what on earth are they?

Muse Species

There are the species that I (personally) have encountered:

The Pen Muse
This is the muse that is attracted to Writers. It can look like anything; it’s a sneaky Bugger at the best of times, always changing form and hiding when you least expect it.
It delights in whispering in your ear just as you drop off to sleep or inspiring the weirdest of dreams… and when you try to write them down somehow, it runs off again, leaving a trail of gibberish behind it that is a pain in the arse to decipher the next morning…

The Paintbrush Muse
This one loves to sit in warm sunny places and will often curl up on whatever it is that you’re drawing or trying to work on. Yes, it often takes the form of a cat or dog – mostly because it adores getting in on the action and leaving hairs in the paint (clay, plaster, glue etc).
It’s also the best Muse for Dreamtime because they love to sleep.

The Tool Muse
This one usually takes the form of a Magazine, brand new tool, pattern or material. It is primarily a Crafting Muse , but I have seen it appear in the kitchen as well, usually after a visit to IKEA  or receiving the Lakeland catalogue through the door. It usually inspires a new crafting pursuit, but will jump ship to the next new tool / crafting idea after you’ve used it a few times, thus forcing you to collect tools and materials!

Care of Your Muse

Feeding
This is completely different from person to person. The Muse tends to enjoy your own favourite foods and beverages, so make sure that you imbibe and eat those things that it likes on a regular basis or you risk losing it to a Creative that will feed it in the way it likes.

Bathing
Muses like to bathe regularly, they can get strangely obstinate when they feel they are dirty. Again, the method of bathing is different from Muse to Muse. Some like to soak in a bubble bath, others enjoy the bracing experience of a shower.  I’ve come across some species that like to swim in pools and still others that appear to prefer salt water.

Rest
Muses appear to have different sleeping schedules to Humans. They can be awake and bouncy, ready to play, at the oddest of hours or sleeping soundly for hours. However, (in my experience) they seem to function best when you’re warm and snuggled into something soft.

Personally, I’ve found that the Pen Muse is the worst for inappropriate sleep – when I’m sitting at the desk ready to write; he’s curled up somewhere warm asleep and when I’m just about dropping off to sleep on my keyboard, he’s awake and inspired, poking me with his inky paws and telling me what to write next.

Sickness
You will find that when your Muse is ill, you will find it VERY difficult to concentrate on any creative endeavour. There is no real cure to this other than time and proper care.

Sorry if you were looking for a quick fix…

Play / Exercise
All Muses like to play.  What they play with varies. Some Muses like to exert physical effort and enjoy Team Sports, Running, Swimming, Walking… the list is a long one! Others will be drawn to Music and you can take them out Dancing or to Zumba.
There are more sedentary Muses as well; these tend to like watching TV, going to the Movies or playing Console / Computer Games.
The third type is in the middle of these two. These Muses that will work best with a varied play routine.

Playtime is usually when you can get the very best ideas out of them, but be warned; not every idea will be a viable one or will be what you are looking for for the piece you are currently working on.  Just make a note of them (mentally or otherwise) and keep playing until the Muse indicates that it needs to rest.

Training Your Muse

It is possible to train your Muse to produce ideas on command. They are fickle creatures though and you will find that if you try too hard to train your muse it could get upset with you and disappear on you.
Sadly I cannot advise you on what the best training is – it’s entirely personal to the Muse in question and often takes considerable trial-and-error over many years to perfect.

I have not yet found the perfect training regime.
I know there are writers out there that have trained their Pen Muses; they seem able to produce books / stories / articles  time and again without seeming to break a sweat (Yes, I know that’s not exactly true – I’m having fun here, leave me alone) and they have different routines that don’t work for me.
This is fine – part of the work of becoming a good writer is discovering your Muse’s training regime.

Meet My Muses

I currently have two Muses, this is what they look like in Resting Form:

This is Puff, the Faerie Dragon and Pen Muse.

Puff

 His favourite foods are Chips, Chocolate and Starbursts. He enjoys drinking Dr Pepper and Gin & Tonic, but will function (with many complaints) on Coffee and Tea. Puff is a Sedentary Muse, so prefers to watch TV / Movies,  play Tetris / Candy Crush etc and go Walking or Swimming.

This is Stardust, the Faerie Unicorn and a  Paintbrush / Tool Muse hybrid

Stardust

Her favourite Foods are Tortilla Chips-and-cheese dip, Ice Cream and Cake. She likes to drink Tea (mostly Chai and Earl Grey) and Wine. Stardust likes to go Swimming, Cycling and Walking. She also likes reading and browsing the internet.

Over to you

I know that there are other species of Muse and I should imagine there are as many forms to each species as there are ways of being creative.  I also apologise for the lack of pictures,in the Species section of this post; Stardust (my Paintbrush/Tool Muse Hybrid) has gone on holiday and I can’t for the life of me get the images in my words onto paper in visual form.

Feel free to add to my list of species, tell me what your personal muse is like or contribute images of what you think that the different species look like in the comments below – let’s have some fun!

Valentines Day…

Ah… Valentines day… the smell of perfume, chocolate, roses and desperate people in the air… such a wonderful day.

This is one of those days I really, really wish that there was a universal sarcasm font.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Valentines Day. It’s a day when TOH and I remind each other that we are people apart from the children, that there were things that happened between us before those three bundles of miracle arrived.
We celebrate it quietly; with appropriate presents (usually something to do with our interests), chocolate, cards and a glass of bubbly / tub of ice cream.

It’s the commercialization of the holiday that annoys me. Companies take advantage of people at this time of year – chocolate, teddy bears, flowers, sparkling wine, cards… all of them hoiked in price and shoved in our faces.

So quite often, I rebel against the whole thing with my writing. One of my favourite short stories that I wrote for this day is essentially a horror story…

* * *

“Oh…my…GOD!” she squealed. “You hired the whole of Le Jardin just for us?”

“Anything for you.” He smiled as she spun in a circle on the dance floor, her red silk dress flaring up to show matching silk stockings encasing her legs. “Besides, I own the place and it’s nice to have it to myself for special occasions.”

“Why today though? It’s Valentines tomorrow.” Cheri asked, rushing over to him.

Her perfume intoxicated him. “The restaurant is completely booked up on Valentines Day. So I always close it the day before to make sure the place is clean.”

“That makes good business sense.” She kissed his cheek approvingly.

Maybe she will be the one. He thought. One last thing to check though.

 

On the dais, a string quartet played a selection of romantic songs and next to the best table in the house, stood the Maitre De, his moustache curling up into spirals beside his cheeks.

Taking Cheri’s hand, Leonard led her over to the table and pulled out her chair. “Allow me to help you to your seat, my lady in red.”

As the Quartet began to play the song, the Maitre De presented the Valentines Day menu. Cheri immediately chose the most expensive meal on the thick cream card. Leonard chose his usual.

“This is a special occasion, Lenny! Why are you having such a boring meal?” Cheri frowned.

“I don’t want to ruin my appetite for desert.” He said, leaning forward and taking her left hand in his, then pressing his lips to the palm of her hand.

Cheri blushed and looked away demurely.

 

Their food arrived and she quietly drank her beef Bouillon. Leonard allowed himself to hope.

The main courses arrived and cutting his steak into tiny pieces helped Leonard to control his disgust as she tore her breaded shrimp apart with her fingers and dunked them into the tartare sauce, scooping up great blobs of it.

Maybe not then. He sighed, hoping that she would take it for happiness.

“This is…really…good…food.” She said through her mouthful of shrimp. Breadcrumbs splattered across the immaculate table top. Cheri slurped up a slug of red wine to help her swallow, draining it with a noise like a blocked sink.

Leonard looked away, embarrassed and caught the Maitre De’s eyes. The man looked as if he was about to blow his top, the tips of his moustache quivered and his cheeks blazed red. “Bring out the vintage I bought especially for tonight, please.”

The Maitre De bowed and glided away, returning with a dusty bottle. “The 1976 Californian Merlot, M’sieur.”

Cheri gasped in appreciation. The Maitre De opened the bottle and poured it into her glass.

She tasted it and smiled. “It’s wonderful. Thank you”

“It’s all yours. I can’t drink wine.”

The meal went smoothly, despite Cheri’s slurping and gulping. Leonard cringed inwardly and kept her wine flowing.

 

As they finished their desert, Leonard passed over a small red flock covered box. “I have a present for you.”

Cheri wiped her hands on a napkin and took it reverently. Snapping it open, the expectancy on her face faded to confusion. “A Golden Key?”

“It opens the three boxes on the table over there.” Leonard pointed at a table by the dais. “Inside are the three things that you want most in all the world.”

Her eyes grew round. “Oh, Lenny… that’s amazing.”

Once the meal was over they danced together, then Leonard led her to the table with the boxes on. “Open them.”

Cheri let out another squeal and dashed back to their table for the key. She opened the first box and stared into it. Then she put out one finger and poked at what lay inside. “Are these what I think they are?”

Leonard smiled and pressed play on the digital recorder on the table.

“I hate her and those plastic boobs. I’d cut them off if I could.” Cheri’s voice rang through the empty restaurant. He stopped the playback.

“Are they really Marcie’s breasts?” Cheri murmured.

Leonard shrugged. “Would I get you anything other than the real thing?”

Cheri opened the second box hesitantly. At the same time, Leonard pressed play.

“His face is the only nice thing about him.” the recording said.

Cheri giggled as she looked into the box. “Neil looks so much better like this.”

Leonard left the playback running. This time there was no hesitation as Cheri opened the third and smallest box. She reached into it and brought out the contents.

“I don’t want anything from her. Her Heart is the only thing I ever wanted and I’ll never be good enough to get it.” The click of the button was the only noise in the room as he turned the recorder off.

“Oh, Leonard.” Cheri breathed. “It’s still warm. This is the best Valentines’ Day ever!”

He looked into Cheri’s beautiful, botoxed face, ran his eyes down her liposuctioned, hourglass figure, before looking into the cold, blue eyes under her false eyelashes. “I have killed for you.”

“And you’ve made me the happiest woman alive.” Cheri placed her mother’s heart back into the box. ”Only one thing could make me happier still.”

 

Leonard pressed play one more time.

“He’s such a wuss. He never listens to me.” Cheri’s voice said.

“Rich though.” Said another woman.

“It’s his best feature. Still, I think he’s going to propose to me on Valentines Day, so I can put up with him for a while longer.”

The other woman laughed. “They don’t call you the Black Widow for nothing, do they. How many of your husbands have died after the wedding?”

“Not that many!” the recorded Cheri giggled.

Leonard turned the recorder off. “I killed for love. You would have killed me for money.”

She shrugged. “It’s only a way of making a living.”

“Do you enjoy it?” Leonard moved closer to her, taking her bloody hands in his.

“Not really. I do the deed as fast and as cleanly as possible.” She looked up into his grey eyes, pressing her body against his.

“I don’t. I enjoy what I do and I only kill personally.” Leonard dropped his face to hers and kissed her lingeringly.

Cheri responded, her tongue winding around his.

He let the kiss go on for a few moments, then caught her as she stumbled backward, laying her out on the floor and kneeling down beside her.

 

She looked shocked as her body stopped responding to her.

“One of the perks of owning this place is that I can kill cleanly. The chef who prepared your food is a master at poisoning without detection. There was a catalyst in the wine and I activated it with a chemical on my lips.” Leonard peeled away a fine silicon coating on the lower half of his face.

Cheri coughed, blood spattering her lips and bubbling up between her teeth. “I thought you loved me.”

“I do.” Leonard took the cloth his Maitre De gave him and gently blotted the blood away. “That’s why poison and not something more violent.”

Real love bloomed in her eyes and she coughed a little more blood up. “Why?”

“Why? Because I can’t bear the noise you make when you eat. Everything else I could have lived with, we could have worked together for our crimes; you would have brought them in and I would have killed them.” His eyes filled with tears.

Resignation dawned on Cheri’s face. “See you in hell, my Love.” She gurgled.

The light of life faded in Cheri’s eyes and Leonard allowed one tear to drop onto her cheek, before wiping away the blood from her mouth.

 

Standing, he handed the cloth to the Maitre De. “Make sure this place is clean for tomorrow’s Lunch Service and the remains are dealt with respectfully.”

“As you wish, M’sieur.”

Leonard turned away.

“M’sieur?”

He stopped moving. “Yes, Beauclerc?”

“We are sorry for your loss.”

Leonard sniffed and sighed. “So am I.” He walked out of the door without looking back.

* * *

I know how to be romantic though, and I have written romantic stories. I just can’t write a whole book like that; makes me feel… icky… and I’m not sure why.

Anyway, I thought I’d show off my latest publication –

The Great Terrene Empire consists of a thousand worlds in the known Universe. In the search for a place to call home, Humans colonised freely and many worlds even forgot they were part of the Terrene Empire.

The Ryuu Empire spans a third of Pleione, a beautiful Almost Earth world, but to a small girl on the Island Province of Tenshi, none of that means anything. Sakura is content to learn and play amongst the flowers and butterflies of her Father’s Castle, worrying only about the twins sharing her mother’s body.

However, when the awakening of the Ika-Zuchi-No-Kami threatens her safety, the God Inari sends his chief Kitsune, Maiya, to rescue the child and her pregnant Mother. As the Earth Demons ravage Atamasanshi, Sakura comes up with a plan to lull the demons back to sleep and save her father.

It’s a mini-ebook, under ten thousand words long and a very soft and gentle tale of a little girl and her magical adventure.

It’s not expensive – 99p / $1.51 from both Amazon and Smashwords, so why not pick it up for a light read?

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Smashwords

Enjoy!

I’m getting irritated with Amazon…

I have a friend who is a writer. In fact I have several friends who are writers, but this particular friend is special.
He’s one of the few Indie writers that I will buy every book from, not just because he’s a friend, but because he writes exciting, intriguing, wonderful stories that always entertain and always have a different twist to them. I have collected every book so far and there hasn’t been a bad one amongst them!

…I’m aiming to buy them all in print as well…

If anyone ever asks me for a book recommendation, his is one of the names that I pull out, alongside Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaimen. Yes, he’s that good that I rank him with those masters of the written word.

Now,  I am also a writer… what do you mean you hadn’t noticed?… and I quite often write reviews of books that I have read and enjoyed, because I understand that the writer needs those reviews. I never say anything that I don’t mean, but also if I don’t get on with the book or don’t like it, I just don’t review it – if I know the writer through FB, I might contact them privately, especially if there’s typos or whatever – but I was always told to say nothing if you can’t say anything nice…

And before anyone complains that I haven’t written them a review yet, I have a massive TBR list at the moment – it’s the main reason that I don’t actually do book reviews…

So the writer I am talking about published a new book – I’d pre-ordered it and as soon as it appeared, I started reading. I couldn’t put it down  (My fiance got quite annoyed with me) and I enjoyed every minute of the story. I couldn’t wait to write a review (I’ll post a link at the end of the post, stop looking at me like that.) so as soon as I could I headed to amazon and posted my review.

And this is where the irritation with amazon comes in.

Yes I’m a writer, but when I read, I am wholly and fully a reader. I don’t buy any books that I don’t intend to read, and I always read without my writing head on

I feel a bit like this fella sometimes…

so if my writing head reappears while I am supposed to be reading, then I know something is wrong. It actually happened to me the other day while I was trying to read a book by a fairly well known author – it’s disconcerting and usually means I will put the book down and forget about finishing it.

Anyway. I read as a reader. I review as a reader. I see nothing wrong with reviewing another author’s books, even if I know them as a friend. Except that… amazon sees that as a bad thing – this is in the review guidelines:

What’s not allowed
Amazon is pleased to provide this forum for you to share your opinions on products. While we appreciate your time and comments, we reserve the right to remove reviews that include any of the following:

Promotional content:
• Advertisements, promotional material or repeated posts that make the same point excessively
• Sentiments by or on behalf of a person, company or web site with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product (including reviews by authors, artists, publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product)
• Reviews written for any form of compensation other than a free copy of the product
• Solicitations for helpful votes

Now, I understand that this supposed to stop people writing nasty reviews of other people’s books so that theirs looks better, but I never do that. I see that sort of thing as immoral and I wish that more people felt the same; clearly they don’t or there wouldn’t be such a rule.

Anyway, the upshot is that my review hasn’t appeared on the page with the book. Because I write books and compete for the same readers as my friend. There are enough readers out there to go round and I’m willing to share them.
Amazon doesn’t see it that way though.

So I am going to post my review below. It’s shorter than my usual ones:

5.0 out of 5 stars A return to a brilliant world by a superb author, 3 Feb. 2015
I didn’t think it was possible for Mr Booth to surpass the last Silver Magic book, but he has… the world is as bright and shadowed as ever, the Brother’s Grimm are still menacing yet entertaining and Glass has grown up a great deal, but still with that sweet edge to her sharp angles.

This book held me enthralled from the moment I started reading. I could see it playing out clearly in my mind, and it would make a superb TV series… if only the BBC had the budget to do it justice! I fully recommend this continuation of the Silver Magic world and will be picking up the rest of this series as soon as I can.

Go forth and enjoy his work!

*You may notice that my review has appeared on Amazon US… I have no idea why its on US but not on UK…