Please welcome today our special guest blogger author Melissa Bourbon Ramirez! Take it, Melissa!
It wasnʼt until about two years ago, when I was writing the first book in a new cozy mystery series, that I began to think of my muse, or muses as the case may be, as something really tangible that I could summon at will, or that would betray me by being absent when I needed her/them most. In fact, I canʼt say that I thought about my muses --because as Iʼm writing this, Iʼve had an epiphany and do believe that I have more than one-- much at all.
But theyʼve shown their true colors. Iʼd begun to think of them as fickle girls, but Iʼve changed my tune. Iʼll never look at them in quite the same way or take for granted the beauty of having them on the job, fully engaged in my creative process, or the power of their insight.
I have new respect for my muses and what they offer through song, practice, and memory.
It often takes a big shake up and the absence of something to really appreciate what you have. Thatʼs how it happened for me. You know what they say about absence making the heart grow fonder and all that? It worked. They left, I was melancholy, and they returned with a new light for me to follow.
How very poetic, I know.
Iʼm not a metaphysical girl. My feet are firmly planted on the ground. Let me be clear, I donʼt, like, sit around thinking about cliches and how they apply to my life. But cliches are cliches because there is truth in them and sometimes that truth is more palatable when taken in a pithy dose. The absence of my muses is what helped me recognize them in the first place. It also helped me appreciate the creative energy they bring into the my writing equation.
They deserted me several times while I was writing Pleating for Mercy, but it was through that desertion that I came to appreciate what they are to me and what they do. I can pinpoint exactly when they left, almost down to the very minute. My creativity had dried up. I had writerʼs block. I was panicking, thinking Iʼd never finish this book, and if I did, it would suck.
But I can also look back and see when them returning--after Iʼd taken much needed time away from my project, had recharged, and had allowed my mind to open up, let fresh idea in, and see things in a new way.
When I was writing Curse of Passion, my muses were right there by my side, giving me clues about where to go next, or how to resolve a scene. The climax, for example, came to me as I happened upon a picture of several pairs of shoes lined up against a wall. Voila! The climax of the book (at a cabin at the river) began to take form, and those shoes… the shoes of the dead women, played an integral part.
Muses at work!
What I realized was that when I’m stuck, those clever girls don’t abandon me. I temporarily shut them out. If I’m on overlaod and completely unable to feel their creative energy flow into me, that’s that. When this happens, they go away and I stay stuck. But if I let them, they step aside and lead me away from my writing and back into reality where I can and do regain perspective on my characters and plot by doing the opposite of what I always think I should do. I always think I should keep going, push through the writing pain, persevere and give myself permission to write crap and revise later (which I do whether I give myself permission or not). I never think that stopping and taking precious time away from my writing is the answer.
But it is! Iʼve completely changed my thought process on this idea and itʼs been so freeing. If only Iʼd listened to the girls in my head sooner I might have staved off some gray hairs and wrinkles and the divot in my forehead from banging it against the wall.
Better late than never, right?
So my muses, yet to be named (though Lola, Harlow, Delaney and Johanna come to mind), are alive and well, ever-present, and an important part of my creativity. Thank God I realized it!
ABOUT CURSE OF PASSION~
The ghost of la Llorona is said to haunt the riverbanks, always searching for her drowned child. She also haunts high school teacher Johanna Rios, whose own mother believed so deeply in the legend she tried to drown her daughters. And now the ghost has become real, a young woman murdered,
and the safe world Jo created is falling apart.
Since returning home from his last tour of duty to become a school principal, Ray Vargas has fought his attraction for his employee, the sensual woman who’d once been the girl next door. But the Llorona Killer will not stop until he claims his final victim—Johanna—and Ray will do anything to protect the woman he’s come to love.
With a serial killer out to prove the curse is real, will Ray and Johanna’s future be drowned in the ghostly waters of the past? Or will the power of their love give them the strength to stop a killer…and heal their wounded hearts.
Johanna paced and turned toward him, but still hadn’t noticed Ray in the doorway. He catalogued her features. She was thirty-two, with honey-colored skin, cheekbones that gave her an exotic look, long, dark hair…
As it often did, his gaze hitched at her full, red lips. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d kissed lips like that. Maybe never.
The sliver of skin showing between her sweater and her pants drew his eyes. She looked far hotter than any teacher had a right to—certainly hotter than any teacher he’d ever had. Thank God, or he’d never have graduated.
He felt his eyes pinch and blinked hard to break the drugged feeling that suddenly slid over him. He’d done his best to steer clear of her for years, and after this conversation, he’d go back to staying away.
“Who is this? What do you want?” Johanna’s voice held fear, tinged with anger.
That was not a tone Ray associated with Johanna. He froze in place. He’d been trained well by the
She spoke again, her voice rising in pitch. “Would you just stop calling?” she demanded, her voice shaking.
Distressed. Johanna was distressed. Time to act. Ray moved then, coming into the classroom, bumping a desk as he came toward her, startling her.
She whipped around, gasping as she saw him. Her face paled, and a second later she dropped her cell phone on her desk. She speared her hand through her hair, her fingers bending until they looked like claws digging into her scalp.
His heart pumped hard. What the hell? “Johanna,” he said, aware his voice was gruffer than he’d intended. “What was that about?”
She stared at him, her eyes wide, like a damn deer caught in the headlights. One second. Two seconds. Three seconds.
“Prank caller,” she finally said, snapping out of her trance.
Ray ran the pads of his fingers over his goatee. Prank caller, my ass. She’d been engaged in that conversation, had been responding to the person on the other end of the line. But her eyes stayed wary and he decided to let it go. He was here for a purpose. Marianne’s murder needed his attention, and he wanted to know Johanna’s secret.
“Sorry for barging in,” he said, “but I’d like to continue the conversation we started back in my office.”
She raised an eyebrow at him. “You mean about Marianne? Are the deputies coming back?”
He shook his head. “They’re gone.” She looked puzzled as he continued. “You brought up la Llorona.”
“Yes,” she said flatly.
Her voice had lost the shaky edge it had held a moment ago on the phone. Hell, now it almost sounded like it could freeze water. Her own form of self-preservation, he supposed. “You wrote your master’s thesis on her?”
Johanna slumped against her desk and ran one hand over her face, down her neck, let it settle on her chest. “Yes.”
She hesitated, and for a moment looked like she wasn’t going to respond. Then she spoke, her voice softer, more thoughtful. “My mother believed in her.”
Odd. Johanna had placed a strange emphasis on the word believed. Hadn’t her mother simply known about the story? Why would she believe in a ghost tale? “La Llorona is a legend,” he said.
“A legend based on a real woman who lived five hundred years ago.”
“It’s a kid’s story. Like the boogieman and the chupacabra.”
Johanna shook her head. “My mother believed la Llorona was real. Because of that, I’ve always been…curious…about the legend.”
She started when her cell phone rang. Her sudden jerk sent the tips of her fingers slipping under the vee of her sweater. His eyes followed the path as her hand settled on the swell of her breast. He swallowed, narrowing his eyes as he forced his gaze back to her face. Her phone, playing a traditional cumbia rather than a regular ring tone, continued for a full ten seconds while she stood frozen. She didn’t even look at where it sat on the desk.
He tried not to think about whatever might be going on in her personal life that warranted heated phone calls. A bad break-up, maybe? He hadn’t heard she was dating anyone, but she might be. Much as he hated to admit it to himself, he didn’t want her to have a personal life. It messed with his fantasy.
Enough. He had to get his head back in the game. Had to focus on why he was here —and that reason was not to stare at her breasts or get jealous over imaginary lovers or remind himself of the fantasies he’d had of her—fantasies featuring her naked. Her hot mouth on his. Her skin sliding sinuously under his.
About Melissa Bourbon Ramirez ~
Melissa Bourbon, who sometimes answers to her Latina-by-marriage name Misa Ramirez, gave up teaching middle and high school kids in Northern California to write full-time amidst horses and
Longhorns in North Texas. She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with yoga and chocolate, is devoted to her family, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams.
She is the Marketing Director with Entangled Publishing, is the founder of Books on the House, the co-founder of The Naked Hero, and is the author of the Lola Cruz Mystery series with St. Martin’s Minotaur and Entangled Publishing, and A Magical Dressmaking Mystery series with NAL. She also has two romantic suspense novels, and is the co-author of The Tricked-out Toolbox, all to be released in 2012/2013.
Find Melissa here: