The day is half over and I open the door to my writing room. My coffee sloshes over the rim at my sudden halt. The man’s jaw swivels my way, and I swallow. “Um…Who are you?”
“Your muse,” he growls.
“Oh.” I edge into the room and leave the door cracked for a quick escape. “Where’s my other one? You know, the… usual one?”
He stares at me like I’m a bug. “She hired me.”
“You’re a mercenary muse?” I trap a nervous laugh behind my lips. The guy looks cranky. Dried sweat coats his bulging muscles, and bloody grit etches the gold lions adorning his skimpy outfit.
He points a finger at a wooden chair, my humming laptop on the table beside it. “I’m here to make sure you keep your commitments.”
“What commitments?” I sit, my smile as shaky as my hands.
“Summer off, then a new series, full time, starting September first.” He taps his ragged fingernails on the armrest. “Your muse thinks you’re an oil-tongued shirker who’ll attempt to cut yourself a part-time deal. I’m here to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
“Oh, that. Well, I’ll have you know, the prep work is coming along nicely.” I lift my chin, every speck of rickety indignation putting on a solid show, and I turn my laptop so he can see. “In fact, I’ve created a map!”
His lips curl in a sneer. “Don’t get cute. She says you love making maps, so that doesn’t count. What about the rest? The bios?”
“Ninety percent done.” I show him the files – images and profiles for all main characters and most secondaries. “I’m still tweaking, but you know they don’t settle in until the story starts. World building is progressing too. I have sea-cliffs, waterfalls, and cities with layers of arching bridges. And, I’ve got a great magic system.”
I wasn’t expecting applause, but a smidgeon of encouragement wouldn’t have hurt. Instead, his little pellets for eyes are waiting to pelt me. “What about the outline?”
I wince. The story is there, but the goals and obstacles aren’t strong enough. The subplots are solid, but the main plot is nebulous at best. That’s a huge problem. My muse-from-hell leans forward in his throne and does he ever smell ripe. He opens his mouth, revealing a rack of chipped teeth, and spits out two words, “It sucks.”
“Gah! I know!” I wilt in my chair. “I should have started working on it sooner. This is a tough one because –“
“You have one week to finish your outline.”
“One week.” He leans back. “Then I want two thousand words a day, six days a week, and I’m being generous.”
I bite my lips and do the math. It’s a stretch, but I can probably manage it. “But what about blogging? I’ve been blogging ten hours a day…”
“You’re going to write in the mornings,” he orders. “It’s your most creative time. Two thousand words, and then you can blog all you want.”
“That’s going to cut my blogging time in half,” I whine. “It’ll already be night in the UK when I just get started.”
“They’ll survive. They’re grown-ups.”
“But I enjoy blogging. I’m going to miss posts.” I know he’s right, but I’m already undergoing blog-withdrawal.
He scowls at me. “She said you’d snivel, but I didn’t think you’d be this pathetic.”
“You don’t need to be so mean about it.” I push out my lower lip. Yeesh, what a hard ass. “Fine. I’ll write in the morning, blog after I reach my quota.”
His grin turns my stomach. “One other thing.”
“You need to exercise.”
“You’re kidding me. My muse told you that?”
“She didn’t need to. I can see it myself. One hour a day. Cardio and strengthening.”
“Oh, this is just great. A muse who doubles as a personal trainer.” I hate his smug smirk. “Where do I find the time to do that?”
“Figure it out.” On his feet, the guy hulks over me like a troll, and I lean so far back I’m close to toppling my chair. He taps my chin with his meaty fist. “I’ll be checking in; don’t disappoint me.”
I roll my eyes and rub my forehead, a muse-induced headache forming behind my eyes. Through the window, I watch him clomp down the steps from my writing room and join my other muse, The Traitor, in the driveway. They share a good laugh. Damn muses. I wish they weren’t right.
Guess I better get to work.
Needless to say, I’ll be switching around my blogging schedule. Though I’ll miss a few posts here and there, I’ll be visiting as much as I’m able. Enjoy the last of August, and Happy Blogging.