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The Temptations of the Muse

September 16, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as , , ,

by Linda McLaughlin

USA Today reported that in an interview with The Sunday Times, John Le Carre, British intelligence agent turned thriller writer, said he was “tempted to defect to the Soviet Union”. Le Carre, real name David Cornwell, joined British intelligence in 1949. He wasn’t sympathetic to Communist ideology, but he was “curious about what was on the other side of the Iron Curtain”.

Is he a writer, or what?

As an author, I can understand where he’s coming from. The muse is always whispering in our ears, asking questions and making suggestions. When I was writing my historical romance, Rogue’s Hostage, which was set in Pennsylvania and Quebec, I jumped on the opportunity to attend a conference in Toronto. Then I talked my husband into joining me afterwards so I could see Quebec City for myself. We had a lovely vacation, I got great visuals of the area I’d be writing about, and I found research material that would have been much harder to find in California. (This was in 1994 before so much was available on the internet.) This experience helped me to write a better book.

A few years ago, my publisher, Amber Quill, started looking for gay romances, something I’d never thought I’d write, but my muse had different ideas. I shocked friends and family by taking this step, but my sales are up and one of my stories was an EPPIE finalist. Sometimes the muse knows best, though I’m glad Le Carre didn’t defect. Otherwise we’d never have had The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, The Constant Gardener, and dozens of other books by a terrific author.

What has your muse tempted you to do?


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E-maginings: The Power of Affirmations

July 23, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as , , ,

When I joined OCC 20 years ago (yikes!), on of the first special events I attended was a workshop on affirmations given by author Rita Rainville. Since then I’ve used affirmations off and on with some success. If you’re not familiar with the concept, an affirmation is a positive statement of something you want to be true in the here and now. It’s different from a goal which is a specific outcome to be achieved at some point in the future. Affirmations are statements like “I am a talented and prolific writer”. Not “I will be”, “I’m learning to be”, “I want to be”, but “I am”. Right now.

As I was learning the craft and business of writing, I heard many things. One was, find a place to write. A room, a desk, a laptop, whatever. For a long while I didn’t have that special place to write. I used the desktop, the laptop, a yellow pad, whatever was available. In the last few years, I’ve been dividing my time between my home in Anaheim and my MIL’s house in San Clemente, and I finally found that special place to write. In San Clemente. It’s a mixed blessing. But I’m not there all week, and I wasn’t getting as much writing done as I wanted to. So I revised my affirmation, adding a statement about being able to write anywhere, any time. That came in handy last week when I had to finish Ilona’s Wolf, my next story, in a big hurry. I found I was able to write anywhere, any time, even if that meant midnight. I wonder if I’d have been able to pull it off if I hadn’t been doing my affirmations.

For a couple of years I’d noticed that my short stories weren’t being reviewed in a timely fashion. Sometimes the first review wouldn’t come out until five-six months after the release. I didn’t know what to do about it. The review process is out of my control. But I tried adding an affirmation that says “I get fantastic, timely reviews” any way. I had no idea if it would make a difference, but my most recent story. Alliance: Cosmic Scandal, was published on June 29 and I’ve already received two reviews for it! 😮

I’m not entirely sure how this affirmation process really works. Oh, I get the part about me talking to my subconscious mind about things that are under my control. When I say I can write anywhere, any time, I’m basically telling my subconscious not to throw up roadblocks when the routine changes. That makes sense. But when I affirm that I’ll get “fantastic, timely reviews”, I’m talking about something I have no control over. I’m just putting that thought out into the universe in hopes that someone is listening, and apparently they are. It’s a little spooky when you think about it, but nice.

It’s not too late to make some affirmations before conference. If you’re shy, affirm that “I’m a friendly person who enjoys meeting new friends”. You never know who you’ll run into at conference. Like Debra Holland said at the last meeting, we all need to become extraverted for a few days.

Have you tried using affirmations and did they help?

Linda Mac / Lyndi Lamont

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