There are muses that inspire music and there are muses for poetry and writing.
And then there is my muse. *Sigh*
Let me tell you about my muse. She used to get me in trouble at school. “Hey Janice,” she’d whisper during 3rd grade class. “You see those sparrows over there?”
I’d look out the window at the sparrows chirping in the trees. “Yeah?”
“What do you think it would be like to played tag with them?” Suddenly I had wings to chase the birds around.
“Janice,” the teacher yelled. “Are you daydreaming again?”
“No,” I lied, ducking my head.
I loved arts and crafts; it occupied a lot of my free time. I could easily envision how the finished project was going to look, but it surprised me when other people couldn’t do the same.
When I was asked what’s going on in the picture? I told a story. I didn’t mean to, but the story was there in the drawing. I kind of wondered why no one else saw it but me. At age twenty I dabbled a bit with writing, but soon returned to my pen and ink drawings then later woodcrafts.
It wasn’t till a little over ten years ago that I finally followed the calling of my muse and started to write seriously for publication.
My muse finally told me her name: Anna-Bella. She’s about the size of a Barbie doll and wears very feminine clothes. She first showed up when I was the age to play with Barbie, which may account for her looking the way she does.
Often she’s not there when I need her. Sometimes I’d get lucky and she’ll show up, give me part of the story as a dream or a movie like flash. Which could be a paragraph, or page, or if she’s feeling really generous a whole chapter.
Anna-Bella will say, “Okay, got it?” Then my fickle muse will disappear for a while, and I’ll have to figure out what happened next—on my own.
The worst time is Christmas. She’ll disappear completely. I’ll call and call, but I get nothing from her, not even a shred of an idea. Then she’ll show up drunk on eggnog. “Oh sorry,” she’ll hick-up. “I was watching Christmas tree lights. They’re cool. You ought to watch them sometime.”
“Yeah, I use to think they were cool too, when I was nine. What about this story we’re working on?” I’d thump a finger on the keyboard.
“Tomorrow, I’m heading to bed.”
Disheartened, I’d sigh and shake my head.
Last Christmas I had enough. I had the second round of edits to do on Windswept Shores, which is my first book. I thought she’d be as excited, too. After all she had inspired me to write it.
But she just yawned. “Yeah-yeah, I knew we’d get one sooner or later. Edits? Not my department, sweetie.” She wondered off doing God knows what. Stare at Christmas lights again, I suppose.
Then she came home drunk on eggnog, singing silly little Christmas tunes in a high squeaky voice.
“Where the hell have you been?” I snarled at her. “We have edits to do, missy.” Looking her up and down, I yelled. “Just what are you wearing? What’s with the candy stripped dress and stockings, and red shoes with the curly toes?” I narrowed my eyes. “Did you mug an elf?”
Then she pantomimed locking her lips and throwing away the key.
“Okay, that’s it.” I tossed her sorry little butt in a birdcage then hung it by my desk. “Now help me out here.”
Saying nothing, she stuck her legs through the bars to rock it like a swing, and then stuck her tongue at me.
Grrr. Those were some very hard edits to get through too.
It wasn’t until recently I finally let her out, but I made her promise not to run off again. She’s sitting on my shoulder right now, still wearing the elf costume and smelling like a stinky little bird.
For a treat we went out to the mall. We took my daughter to Hot Topic and bought her a jacket. Then my daughter remembered she needed a dress for high school graduation; we found the best dress . . .
Wait a minute . . . where did you get those elbow length, lace up gloves? I know I saw some at Hot Topic. You didn’t—?
The little muse shop? But there’s no such thing. Anna-Bella, what did you do?
Anna-Bella smugly produced a frilly dress and changed right there in front of me. The material is roses with a black background. She also had black stockings and Mary-Jane’s to complete the outfit. She said, “I’m tired of the elf costume.” Anna-Bella kicked it off my desk.
Well, no duh. You’ve been wearing it for months. Picking it up, I throw the smelly Barbie-doll-sized clothes into the garbage.
She made herself comfortable on my shoulder. “Tell the nice people about our book.”
What? I have to go to work—now?
She nods, and then pulls my ear.
Ouch! What did I do to deserve a muse like you?
Just in time for summer reading.
From Pink Petal Books: Windswept Shores by Janice Seagraves (and Anna-Bella).
The sole survivor of a plane crash, Megan is alone on a deserted island in the Bahamas until she finds a nearly-drowned man washed up on shore. Another survivor, this time from a boat wreck. With only meager survival skills between them, will they survive and can they find love?
If she had to spend one more day on this godforsaken island, she'd go stark raving mad. The thought spurred Megan into rolling a large log with one foot then the other, until it was near the bonfire. "God, this thing is heavy." With a grunt, she lifted one end until it teetered upright then gave it a shove. It landed in the fire, embers swirling in the air.
Breathing hard, she flicked a glance at the teal-colored sea. She'd thought a vacation to the Bahamas would be the perfect getaway, would be a solution to the problems she and Jonathan had faced. She'd been wrong—dead wrong. Tears of grief filled her eyes. The never-ending crash of the waves on the beach and the cries of the seagulls seemed to mock her with the reminder she was utterly alone.
She'd felt like a tiny speck of sand last night when a violent storm had swept across the island. It had made a mess of her meager campsite, which had taken all morning to fix, and had demolished her seaweed SOS sign. She'll have to recreate her SOS. Sighing, Megan trudged toward a pile of kelp. As she got closer, she saw a figure wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt. Her stomach lurched.
Oh, God, it’s another body washed up from the plane wreck. That would be number twelve. As always, she couldn't help but wonder if the next one would be Jonathan. He hadn’t been wearing jeans on the plane, so she knew she’d been spared seeing his corpse this time. Thank God. She approached the body with dread. Tightening her resolve, she knelt. Suddenly the "dead body" coughed and rolled over. With a scream, Megan jumped back. She clutched her chest and pressed a shaking hand to her mouth.
Biting her lip, she stared down at the still-breathing man. His drenched t-shirt molded against his broad shoulders and well developed upper body. Short, golden brown hair stuck out in all directions.
Megan, get control of yourself. Don’t wet your pants the first time you finally see a living person. She got on her knees, plucked the seaweed from him and wiped the sand from his face. His day-old whiskers scratched her palm. Reddened skin stretched across both cheekbones and over the bridge of his nose. Her thumb caressed his parched full bottom lip.
She patted the side of his face. “Hey, are you okay?” That’s a dumb question. He isn’t okay.
“Hmm?” Gray eyes fluttered open. He stared at her a long moment, frowning slightly. “G’day.”
“Hello there.” She hated the sound of her voice. It sounded rusty, unused.
Abruptly he rolled away from her to heave onto the sand, making a loud, ugly retching noise.
He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, then looked at her. “Sorry, mate, I swallowed too much sea.” His gaze went over her shoulder in the direction of the bonfire which crackled and popped not far from them. “Mite big for a barbie.”
Sitting back on her heels with her hands folded in her lap, Megan followed his gaze, then back to him. “My signal fire.”
“Signal for what?”
His accent intrigued her. Was he English or Australian?
“G’darn,” he looked around, “where the bloody hell am I?”
“Don’t know. There’s no one here to ask.” Megan shrugged helplessly, but couldn’t contain her curiosity. “Are you from England?”
“Naw,” he rubbed his eyes, “I hail from Sydney, but my port of call these days is Fort Lauderdale.” He blinked up at her. “You?”
Ah, he’s an Aussie. “I’m Megan Lorry, from Anaheim, California,” she said, barely loud enough to be heard above the sounds of the surf and the roar from the fire. “Are you a survivor of Air Bahamas flight 227, too?”
“G’day, Megz,” he answered, struggling to sit-up. “Sorry, I’m not from your plane.”
Megan slipped an arm around him lifting his back off the sand. Turning his head to her hair, he took in a couple of short breaths. Megan pulled back staring at him. “What the—did you just sniff me?”
“Ya smell too good not to.” He grinned, causing his cheeks to dimple. “Name’s Seth Dawson.” Leaning back on one arm, he stretched out his hand to her. She clasped it as if it was just a friendly greeting between strangers back home.