#ROW80 check-ins, feed your muse

“Setting Quiet Pages Free”: Round 3 ROW80 Wrap-Up

Well, Round 3 of ROW80 is at an end. I can’t say I finished everything I set out to accomplish, but here’s what I managed:

  • Finished a second draft of my novella Called by Magic
  • Started a first draft of a novel, The Hedgewitch and the Wolf
  • Just under halfway through a second, expanded draft of A Prince in Patience Point, a novella
  • Read one book on the craft/business of writing (my goal was two)

I also moved (twice, technically, once to the in-laws’ farm and again to settle into our new townhome). And I started teaching a class at the local university.

As for this week, I wrote 2,335 words in a scene guide to A Prince in Patience Point. I still feel like there’s something missing, but I’ll just have to discover that along the way. The projected length for the second draft is about twice the first draft, so there’s lots of new territory in this draft. In many ways, it’s like a first draft since there’s so much new material. Hopefully I can finish this one by the end of the year.

So that’s my Round 3 summary. I’d like to leave you with a song I recently found by a really great, quirky artist named S.J. Tucker. This one is for all the bookworms—readers and writers alike.

Here’s “Ravens in the Library” by S.J. Tucker—the inspiration for the title of today’s post:

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? How did Round 3 go for you? Did you finish all you set out to do? What are your plans for Round 4?

And happy Mabon/autumnal equinox!

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#ROW80 check-ins, dose of inspiration, feed your muse

5 inspirational writing quotes

I thought I’d kick off a new week—or end an old one—with a list of some of my favorite writing quotes. Feel free to add your favorites in the comments section. (Quote images made at Quozio.)

The-artist-deals-with Ursula Le Guin quote

Its-like-driving-a-car E.L. Doctorow


Love-Fall-in-love-and Ray Bradbury

Dont-tell-me-the-moon-is Anton Chekhov



Writing-practice-brings Natalie Goldberg

Sunday ROW80 check-in:


  • Finish a second draft of my novella “Good Old-Fashioned Magic.” Finished!
  • Write a first draft of another novella Currently titled “Called by Magic.” Finished! Did a read-through this week and made some minor changes—tying up loose ends/answering unanswered questions, fixing typos, smoothing out awkward phrasing, etc.
  • Start a third project. Started a second novelette. Wrote 3,318 words. Created a plot outline and did index cards, so this story is mostly mapped out.
  • Read a minimum of four books on the business or craft of writing. On book five, “Manuscript Makeover” by Elizabeth Lyon.

Social media:

  • Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. Met for Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, not for Wednesday or Friday.
  • Blog two times per week. Blogged Sunday, not Wednesday.
  • Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. Met for three of four days. Skipped Wednesday.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What are some of your favorite writing quotes?

#ROW80 check-ins, dose of inspiration, feed your muse

Fun for Writers: 3 Awesome Videos for Inspiration & Sunday #ROW80 Check-In

I’m going to do a brief ROW80 check-in today, but first I wanted to share a dose of inspiration. I’ve found lately that I need a dose of fun and play in my life. (Blame it on the slow return of spring, or perhaps just blame it on the moon.)

Here are a few videos that encourage our playful side:

1.) Poet Billy Collins’ TED Talk: Collins weaves art and humor into a truly enjoyable TED Talk. (Spoiler alert: Includes amusing phrases like “Bugs Bunny is my muse” and “You don’t have time to deploy your anti-poetry deflector shields.”)


2.) Felicia Day’s Steampunk Photo Shoot: I will freely admit to having a bit of a girl-crush on actress Felicia Day. In this video from Geek & Sundry, Felicia goes off on yet another adventure—this time for a very entertaining outing to a steampunk shop (shoppe?).


3.) Chase That Happy: Ze Frank teaches us to live with joy and always chase happiness, wherever it leads. I especially like the “bored aristocrat” game. 🙂


Are you entertained and jazzed up for an adventure? Good!

Now, here’s my ROW80 summary for the week:

1.)    WIP progress: Wrote 4,438 words in my WIP, “Good, Old-Fashioned Magic.” I also wrote a brief synopsis for a short story, a sort-of sequel to my current WIP, so if there’s time left at the end of Round 1, I might try to write a quick draft of that story as well.

2.)    Read to hone my craft: A little. Not as much as I would’ve liked.

3.)    Blog Wednesday and Sunday: Target met!

4.)    Checked in on Twitter daily; didn’t manage to check in on WANA Tribe.

5.)    No progress to report on the super-secret project.

Well, it’s March! How are your goals coming along?

creativity, dose of inspiration, feed your muse, the writer's journey

Take a hike. Get a life: Goal overload, chatter, and the creative self

The world is a noisy place, full of car horns, ambulance sirens, voicemails, and endless chatter. Some people thrive on the chatter; for me, too much information makes my brain hurt. I cultivate places of stillness in my life where walls of silence keep the chatter at bay. Without those walls, the creative parts of me suffer.

I freely admit to being a creative soul who gets lost in this world of noise. Some of that noise is useful. It teaches me to manage my finances, cook healthier meals, or improve my marriage. It teaches me to be a better writer, a better thinker, a better person. And some of that noise is just blah blah blah—a stream of negativity or useless gibber-gabber meant to make us buy something, vote for someone, or so on. Sometimes even those feminist listserv emails full of dire warnings about the relentless war on women’s rights exhaust me. Not that I don’t want to stand up for people’s rights. But that I need to get away long enough to have some fight in me.

In other words, I’m learning to take a hike and get a life. Over the last few years, I’ve become increasingly goal driven. Grade these papers. Write this article. Edit this copy. Meet today’s word-count goal. I didn’t just have information overload. I had goal overload. Too many goals; not enough time. My brain hurt. In order to nurture my creative self, I stepped back. My body hurt. I took time to listen to it and take care of my physical health—the antidote to my previous “sleep when you’re dead” mentality.

The creative self isn’t the list-maker, the left-brained editor. She doesn’t care what’s been done before, what’s forbidden, what’s in the rulebook, what’s not. She explores uncharted territory. She has the key to the forbidden room. She unlocks the door. She, as one poet wrote, plants “posies on the hob stones of hell.” The creative self is interested in potential, the unexplained, the ineffable. So for her sake, I took a hike.

Literally. In pursuit of a stunning waterfall, a trek five-six miles roundtrip. Not exactly a walk around the block, but nothing that involved scrambling over boulders or climbing up the sides of mountains.

At first, left brain reminded me of all the rules: You’ve been sick. Take it easy. Don’t push yourself too hard. Are you sure you should be doing this? I’m not sure you can do this. Maybe you should go home and take a nap. Yes, a nap.

But cool water charged down the mountain in the creek that runs parallel to the trail. The weather wasn’t too hot or too cold, but just right. My husband, who’s been dabbling for years in 3-D graphics and game design, studied the trees with the methodical eye of an artist. As he told me how he would create a forest in the 3-D world of game design, he made me think about my own stories, how I’d sort of left them hanging, how I wasn’t sure where to go next. Secretly, I’d been afraid that the muses weren’t ever going to return my calls. I’d reached a crossroads and then fog made the paths unclear.

We hiked past the main waterfall, where people slip and slide across the rocks, tiptoe on fallen logs lying across the creek, and swim in deep pools of icy water. Further along the trail, we looked down on another falls and across the water into the forest beyond. It reminded me of faerie country, the sort of place where faeries emerge to beguile or make deals with wandering mortals. It was the sort of place where stories are born, and I could feel the creative self buzzing with possibilities.

So I took a hike and learned to cultivate quiet in my life. I’m learning that I need to step out to that place every day, to the edge of the forest, past the place crowded with hikers to where the stories dwell.

Because that’s where the magic happens. That’s where the stories sleep, curled up like a dozing faerie child against the roots of a giant tree.

What about you? How do you cultivate places for creativity in this busy world?

creativity, feed your muse

Singing to the Muses: Pearl and the Beard

I recently saw a band that inspired me as a writer, not just because their songs roused my inner storyteller, but because they take risks as artists: Pearl and the Beard. What they’re doing is so unique, and I’ve always admired artists who follow their medium, dedicate themselves to their craft, and make it shine. Their voices are powerful, their instrumental accompaniment unique and strong. Their work reminds me that there are indefinite combinations of words, notes, or brushstrokes—infinite possibilities for how we make art.

Art feeds our creativity; it awakens the deep self and the stories and songs that sleep inside of us. I love going to a concert because I get caught up in the energy of the music. Whether it’s the symphony or a string quartet, an aria or an a cappella group, an acoustic performance or an electric one, music, like a good story, can transport us.

So here’s a taste of Pearl and the Beard’s music. I hope it inspires you as it has me. And, as Moss of “IT Crowd” once said, “You best put seat belts on your ears…because they’re about to go for the ride of their lives.”