Ralph the Muse Returns: Careful What You Ask For

            It’s been weeks since I made a request for a muse to help me with my writing.  I’d given up on Ralph. By his long absence, it was perfectly clear to me that he wasn’t  the least bit interested.  … Continue reading

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Ralph Stiffed Me

            Actually, it wasn’t a complete stiff.

            Last Wednesday, January 25th, to be exact, I was supposed to have my first meeting with Idea Advisor, Ralph. I went through all the hoops, checked in with his assistant, Earlene, set up the appointment, and filled out the necessary forms, thanks to the violet hued fairy, Daphne.

            I should’ve realized that Daphne’s last words to me were some kind of omen. I even repeated her words, time will tell, but still had hope that everything would go accordingly, and I would indeed get my appointment with Ralph.

            So, on the appointed day and time, I sat in front of my computer and typed in *AR on my keyboard. I closed my eyes and took a very deep breath, almost afraid to let the air out, and waited for Ralph to appear.

             I snuck a peek at the screen with one eyelid partially open. Then both lids sprang to attention. Astonishment and disappointment slapped me right in the face. There was no Ralph, only a post-it note attached to the screen. It said,  

“Appt. cancelled; manditory meeting for all IAs, today, stat!

Check with Earlene for next available time.

In meantime, think up ideas to discuss at next appt.”          

         Well, if that didn’t burst my bubble. Here I was expecting help from an expert, and all I got was a crummy post-it note telling me to think up ideas. I should’ve known better. I’m really not that naïve or gullible. Who in their right mind would believe strange people coming to life on a computer screen let alone taking advice from a lavender fairy?

            Hey, when you’ve got writer’s block, you’ll try anything once. I’m not sure if I’ll make another appointment. Maybe I should just trust my own mind and hope for some spark of an idea to come to mind.

            So, take that, Ralph. I bet Alph would’ve been a lot more help than you.

 

                                   

           

           

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The IA Forms

 I’d been procrastinating about filling out the I.A. Forms. Earlene’s warning intimidated me, but still I did nothing. Two weeks had passed before I could sum up the courage to tackle them. How could they possibly be any different than any other? However, having dealt with the last two individuals, I’m sure to be in for a surprise.

So, I drew in a breath and typed *AR/Forms. To my surprise the application appeared immediately on the blank screen.  The first page looked normal, ID stuff. However, there was a note in big letters on top of the page.

              Before you begin, please click on the small yellow light bulb situated on the upper right corner of this application form.

           A strange request I thought, but I’ve  now learned to expect the unexpected. So, I did what I was instructed to do. No sooner had I pointed and clicked, the the light bulb disappeared and a tiny fairy emerged. She was dressed all in lavender, from the big bow on her tiny ponytail, to her tiny ballet-slippered toes. Even her little gossamer wings were tinted in the same hue. She carried a tiny wand and every time she moved it, amethyst colored fairy dust fell on my keyboard.  Her only jewelry was a purple letter ‘D’, affixed to a tiny gold chain around her neck. She perched on the far right corner of the page, legs crossed, waiting for me to begin.

I stared wide-eyed, unable to speak. She stared back, swinging one leg back and forth beginning to showing her impatience. Finally realizing the stunned expression on my face wasn’t going to go away anytime soon, she spoke. “Well, by the looks of things, I guess I’d better introduce myself.”

“Th…that would be nice.” I managed to squeak out.

“I’m an IA  Data Document’s clerk,” she said with a little more pride than modesty.

Catching my breath, I asked, “what does a data document ah, clerk, do?”

“I take all the completed forms and scan the data for the IAs. Then at the time of the appointment, all the IA has to do is summon me. I display the information plus any information that I may’ve picked up from the applicant.”

“Is that why you wear the letter D around your neck?”

“No, silly, that’s me, Daphne.”

“Oh, of course, Daphne in Data Documents.” I should’ve known.

“Enough of this dallying,” chirped Daphne. “Let’s get started. We’ve got at least ten pages to complete.”

That number seemed quite high, and I started to question, but she raised her tiny eyebrows and pointed her wand at me to start. It’s pretty scary being intimidated by a fairy the size of gnat, but she was the one holding the wand, so I better do as told. The first page was pretty ordinary. I started to type in my first name when I heard a muffled laugh. “What’s the matter?”

“You’re first name,” she tittered.

“What’s wrong with it?” I huffed.

“The Museum of Modern Art is your first name?” she asked coyly.

“No, my name happens to be the same as the acronym for the Museum’s, little miss smarty pants.” That’ll teach her.

“Goodness me,  I didn’t mean to offend.” Daphne waved her wand and more fairy dust settled on my keyboard.

“Are you going to help me or just sit there sprinkling crap all over the  place?” I sneezed.

“Bless you! Sorry about that. Please go ahead, and if you have a question, I’ll be  happy to help, otherwise I’ll just sit her and be quiet.” She zipped her finger over lips.

Daphne seemed apologetic enough, so I continued on filling out the rest of the page. A questionnaire popped up on page two. The first question: Why do you want to write? That looked easy enough. As I began to type I heard a tiny, “Ahem,” coming from the corner of the page.

“May I offer a suggestion?” Daphne asked, a little sheepishly.

I nodded. It couldn’t hurt.

“If you put down the I-know-I-have-a-book-in-me, trite answer, an IA would dump your application in a minute.”

I was surprised that she knew what I was going to write. It unnerved me, so I asked, how   do you know what’ I’m thinking?”

 She gave me a cute little smile. “It’s the dust. I’ve been  sprinkling it all around you. It seeps into your body. Each particle has a tiny transmitter that picks up information about you and sends it back to me.” 

I frantically started wiping the little specks off me and brushed them off the keyboard.

Daphne threw her head back and laughed. “It’s too late. I’ve already got all the information I need. Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll just fill out the rest of the questionnaire. It’ll only take me a second or two.” With a tip of her wand, she sailed through all ten pages.

I quickly read over what she had written, and had to admit that what she wrote was what I would’ve done, but only much better. I had no changes to make, but I had a question. “Daphne, wouldn’t this be illegal, you doing all the work?”

 “No, no, of course not. Remember, they’re your thoughts, and I’ve just had  years of experience with these forms. She tapped her wand on the pages and they quickly rolled up and slid under her arm. She checked her tiny lavender watch. “Oh my, it’s getting late. I must leave and get these filed before the day ends.” Her wings started to flutter.

“Wait. I’ve one last question. Will this be the last thing for me to do before my appointment?”

Daphne tapped her wand on my nose and said, “Time will tell.”

“What does that mean?” The dust made my nose tickle.

“I don’t know,” she shrugged her tiny shoulders. “I just like to say that.”  Off she flew and the screen turned back to blue.

The way things were going, I wouldn’t be surprised if I had other visitors lightening up my screen before my meeting with Ralph. It’s got me wondering. Does he really want to advise me or is he simply evading the issue?  Time will tell.

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Waiting for Ralph

 

I tried to stay alert waiting for Ralph to show up, but after staring intently at the monitor for what seemed like an eternity, my eyelids blinked on and off until… Oops, I must’ve fallen asleep for a few minutes. Shaking the fog out of my head, I thought I heard a tiny voice singing  “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” with Bruce Springsteen.

Rubbing the sleep out of my eyes I glanced at the monitor. A young woman in her early twenties, I surmised, was sitting behind a desk, cluttered with paper and books. Her curly hair was so red that it contrasted with her magenta mohair sweater.  She was writing something down with a pencil, then poking her forehead with the eraser all the while cracking gum and humming along with Bruce. She looked up at me and sighed, “Well, finally you’re awake. I had to pump up the volume on my radio to get your attention; nearly blew the bow right out of my hair!”

“You’re not Ralph.” I said, not quite alert.

“Well, duh!”

“Myopia told me that Ralph would come to me if I pressed his code letters, which I did. And now, I’ve got you, whoever you are. Where’s Ralph?” I was highly indignant at her answer.

She jumped up off her chair and walked around to the front of her desk. Her green plaid pleated skirt swung back and forth over black tights. She tapped one of her tan Ugghs on the floor while wagging a purple painted fingernail at me. “First, miss high and mighty, my name’s Earlene, Ralph’s secretary.” She vocally underlined the last two words.  “Second, anyone wanting to see an IA needs an appointment.”

“Geez! Myopia didn’t tell me I had to make an appointment. I’m sorry if I offended you.” I cooled down a bit.

Earlene strutted back and forth in front of the desk. “You newbies are all alike. Ya think all you have to do is press a few keys and whamo-jambo you get help. It doesn’t work like that.” She shook her head and gave me that oh-brother-this one’s-a real-jewel look.

“Okay, I’ll start again. I’d like to make an appointment with Ralph as soon as possible.” I was a little perturbed at her comment. No, rather a lot perturbed.

Earlene swayed back to her desk and sat down in front of her computer. “Well, let’s see what,s available.” She hummed and cracked her gum to some unrecognizable tune while checking Ralph’s calendar. “The earliest he can see you is Wednesday, January 25 at 2 p.m.”

“What?” I  screeched, well, almost. I couldn’t believe that I’d have to wait for a whole month. “B…but,” I stammered, “Myopia said that he was coming off a break up with his partner, Alph. She thought I’d be just what he needed to get back into the swing of things.”

“Well, she got it wrong. He’s back for his regulars, but you’re new and just like a doctor’s office, you’ll need to fill out some forms before he can see you.”

“You’ve gotta be kidding me…Forms?” I did screech then. I began to wonder if getting an IA to help me with ideas was worth it.

“Yep, if you want help from and IA, you must fill out the forms.”

“And, how do I get those forms?”

“Easy as pie.” Earlene gave me another you-are-so-dense stares. “Tap on *AR then type in the words IA Forms. They’ll come up on your screen. Just fill them in, and tap enter at the bottom of the form that says Enter. It will go directly into Ralph’s computer.”

I avoided the way she gave the instructions like I was a kid or something, and decided I’d approach her in different way. So, I asked in my most sincere voice,  “Could I possibly be put on a waiting list if Ralph has any cancellations?”

Earlene sucked in her cheeks and murmured to herself, “These newbies want it all, and want it now.”

“I heard that!” I was getting annoyed with her uppitiness, but again realized that I had better hold back because I felt that somehow she could make or break a new writer by flipping them off her computer with one stroke of her purple fingernailed finger.  So, I  smiled and thanked her for her help while gritting my teeth.

“All rightie then. I’ll be off, now. Tootle-oo, but don’t delay, there’s plenty more people looking for help.” she warned.

With a click of her mouse, Earlene was gone. And I was left sitting at my computer trying to wrap my head around what the hell happened. I knew that my next task was to fill out the forms, but at this point, I couldn’t bear to bring them up on my computer. Frankly, I was a little scared at what it was that I had to fill out. The one thing I knew was that I couldn’t procrastinate forever.  Earlene’s gum-chewing warning lodged in my head. I needed to stay on her good side if I knew what was best for me!

 

 

 

 

 

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The Muse and I

Writers have moments when they hit the bottom of their collective barrels desperately trying to come up with ideas for stories. When that happens, some may turn toward a muse to help get the ball rolling.

Calliope is the muse for poetry and while I am more a writer of prose, perhaps she wouldn’t mind giving me a hand. But how do I conjure her up? Do I just sit at my laptop, focus on her name, and she’d suddenly appear with arms wide open ready to assist me? Probably not.

So, as I stared down at my keyboard my finger automatically rested on the letter ‘M’. Within seconds my computer screen went black. Slowly, from the top far right edge a tiny pinpoint of light began to move diagonally down the screen, growing larger and larger.

The little beacon grew and suddenly a female figure emerged in the middle of the monitor. She was dressed in a bright red print tunic, black tights and purple high top tennis shoes. Big round black-framed glasses covered most of her face. A blue tooth poked out the side of one ear. She was tapping her fingers across a flat purple pad, and talking non-stop into thin air.

Could this be my muse, or are am I in another world? She wasn’t quite what I expected although I wasn’t sure what to expect. I wanted to speak but courage was stuck firmly in my throat. Finally, I managed to blurt out, “you must be Calliope. What an honor to—”

“Wait a minute sister, what gives you the idea that someone of her stature would pop up on your screen and hand you an idea?”

The crisp tone of her voice took me down a few pegs. Totally embarrassed I stammered “Oh, er, sorry. I didn’t mean to…ah, then, who are you?”

“My name is Myopia, I.A. That’s Idea Advisor, West Coast Division.” Her blue-tooth lit up.  “Hold on, I’ve got a call coming in.  Yes, Mr. King, I suggest you try something with a haunted ship guarded by a grey whale.” A pause, then, “you’re welcome, Stephen, anytime.”

“Wait a minute! Stephen King doesn’t live on the west coast,” a modicum of confidence beginning to show on my face. No way was she going to take me for a dunce.

“Yes, of course he’s not.” She flipped back a curl that had fallen down on her forehead. “I used to run the entire 50 states back in the 70s. But, since we have a plethora of writers in all four corners of the country and then some, thanks to the computer age, it was entirely too much for one person to handle. So, Ideas Inc., my company, decided to split my division into two parts.”

“That doesn’t quite explain…”

“Let me finish!”

“Okay, sorry.” I really wasn’t, but needed to be nice so as not to cause her to leave without helping me.

“To continue,” Myopia peered at me through those huge glasses, “since I’ve had tenure in this business, I was able to keep some of my old accounts.”

Oh! Well, I…”

“Hurry up, now. Tell me what you want, and make it snappy, I haven’t got all day.”

Just as I started to plead my case, she interrupted me again.

“Excuse me; I have to take this.” She pressed a finger to her blue tooth, and spoke in a motherly fashion. “No, no, Mr. Grisham, you’ve done something like that a few years ago. You’ve got to get out of the courtroom once in a while. Why don’t you take a break for a couple of months? Do something else, go fishing.” Pause. “That’s what I’m here for.” She signed off, shaking her head. “These big time authors can be so demanding. “Now, you were saying?”

“I need help. I looked into my well of ideas and hit rock bottom. Can you give me some suggestions?” I hoped that my plea sounded earnest.

She put down her pad and gave me a snooty look. “I don’t take just anyone that calls for help. I only advise the well-known writers. I delegate other assistants to work with the newbies. And you, my friend, are a class C writer.”

“Look, I know I’m new, I just didn’t know how or what to ask for.” I was a little hurt by her snide remark, but pressed on. “Well, then could you suggest someone in my class that could help me?”

She ran her fingers over her pad, mumbling to herself. “Sorry, looks like there’s no one available at this time.  I’m afraid I’m going to have to put you on the waiting list.”

“Oh, please, can’t you find somebody, anybody? I’m really desperate.” Tears began to sprout out of my eyes and plop onto the keyboard.

“Okay, okay, quit your sniffling. Let’s see. Ah, there’s one muse that’s just getting over some abandonment issues.”

Great, I thought. What kind of muse has abandonment issues? I’ve got enough of my own without adding a muse with problems. So, I gave her one of my poor pitiful pearl looks hoping she’d have a change of heart and help me herself. She didn’t buy it.

“That’s all I’ve got, take it or leave it!”

I surrendered. “Okay, tell me about her.”

“Not her…him! Name’s Ralph. He and another advisor Alph, used to team-muse writers. They worked quite well together until one day Alph took up with a cute little sprite and split to New Jersey leaving poor Ralph to muse all alone. He was devastated. Never worked solo before.” She studied her pad then pointed a finger at my face. “You know, it’s possible that if he’s given an amateur writer to work with, it just might help him over the hump of losing Alph. You might be just what he needs.”

What he needs? What about mine? I wanted to say, but instead I sighed, “when do I get to meet this Ralph?”

“Simple. After I leave, press the star button and the letters AR on the keyboard. That’s Ralph’s muse code. It really should be just ‘*R’ but he hasn’t had the heart to eliminate Alph’s letter just yet.”

“Okay, but if I’m not satisfied, can I still be on the waiting list?”

“Sure, sure,” she hid a snarky grin while checking her black pad. “Sorry, times up. Gotta go; I’m late already for my psychiatrist appointment.”

“Huh?”

“After what we muses hear all day, we really need therapy. Buh-bye.”

The screen turned back to black as Myopia scurried toward the edge of the screen, once again becoming a small speck on the monitor.

I stared as the screen returned to its sky blue color. Myopia’s words washed over me like a sneaker wave reaching the shore, then retreating back out to sea, leaving one word on my keyboard, Ralph. I rested my face between the fingers of my left hand, thinking sarcastically. I should be so lucky getting a muse, with issues.

Sad to say, I really needed some kind of assistance, and if it was Ralph, then so be it. My right hand crawled along the edge of the keyboard. My fingers hovered a moment, then   typed in *AR. Then I waited.

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Introducing GETTING SIDEWAYS by Lisa Nowak

Getting Sideways: Book 2 in the Full Throttle Series

Getting shipped off to live with his uncle Race was the best thing that ever happened to fifteen-year-old Cody. Then a wreck at the speedway nearly ruined everything. Cody’s making every effort to get his life back on track—writing for the school paper, searching for the perfect girlfriend, and counting the days until he gets his drivers’ license—but there’s no escaping the nightmares that haunt him.

A chance to build his own car seems like the perfect distraction. Until Cody realizes he’ll have to live up to Race’s legendary status. But that’s the least of his worries, considering he doesn’t have his dad’s permission. All he has to do is the impossible: keep Race from discovering his lie until he can convince his dad that racing’s safe.

Yeah, sure. That’ll be easy.

Haven’t read the first book? Running Wide Open is on sale now for 99 cents.

Running Wide Open: Book 1 in the Full Throttle Series

Cody Everett has a temper as hot as the flashpoint of racing fuel, and it’s landed him at his uncle’s trailer, a last-chance home before military school. But how can he take the guy seriously when he calls himself Race, eats Twinkies for breakfast, and pals around with rednecks who drive in circles every Saturday night?

What Cody doesn’t expect is for the arrangement to work. Or for Race to become the friend and mentor he’s been looking for all his life. But just as Cody begins to settle in and get a handle on his supercharged temper, a crisis sends his life spinning out of control. Everything he’s come to care about is threatened, and he has to choose between falling back on his old, familiar anger or stepping up to prove his loyalty to the only person he’s ever dared to trust.

Praise for Running Wide Open:

“It doesn’t matter if you are a racing fan or not, Running Wide Open will captivate you and capture your heart.” – Cari J, Amazon reviewer

“The roar of engines practically explodes off the page in this compelling, heart-thumping debut. Cody Everett is a straight-shooter with attitude, smarts, and whip-cracking wit; he doesn’t pull any punches, and neither does author Lisa Nowak. The collision of Cody and the world of stock car racing makes for a great story, one of the best I’ve read in a long time. Running Wide Open is a book not to be missed.” – Christine Fletcher, author of Tallulah Falls and Ten Cents a Dance

“The racing is easy to understand and does not get in the way of a rattling good story. I still couldn’t put it down on a re-read.” – Elisabeth Miles, Amazon reviewer

“We race stock cars during the summer and even though this is a recommended read for Young Adults, we are seniors and enjoyed every page. We can hardly wait for the sequel to come out. MUST READING!” – Maxci Jermann, Barnes and Noble reviewer

“I say read this book, it’s fun, it’s beautiful, it’s a very cool read that will give you a feel-good state of mind. Awesome read.” – L.E.Olteano, Butterfly-o-meter Books

Author Bio:

In addition to being a YA author, Lisa Nowak is a retired amateur stock car racer, an accomplished cat whisperer, and a professional smartass. She writes coming-of-age books about kids in hard luck situations who learn to appreciate their own value after finding mentors who love them for who they are. She enjoys dark chocolate and stout beer and constantly works toward employing wei wu wei in her life, all the while realizing that the struggle itself is an oxymoron.

Lisa has no spare time, but if she did she’d use it to tend to her expansive perennial garden, watch medical dramas, take long walks after dark, and teach her cats to play poker. For those of you who might be wondering, she is not, and has never been, a diaper-wearing astronaut. She lives in Milwaukie, Oregon, with her husband, four feline companions, and two giant sequoias.

Connect with Lisa online:

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WordPress Ate My Blog

Yesterday, I laboriously worked on my blog for the month, hoping to satisfy a couple of friendly bloggers, since I left them wondering whether I was still out dancing merrily in the street for my latest birthday.

After explaining to them that my alter ego Molama, was supposed to be in charge while I was cavorting through the, had run off to Mexico to learn the Zombie Walk, but found out that it was a parade of zombies. So, she took the next plane out and wound up in Iowa for a Tea Party.

However, the minute I published, the blog vanished somewhere out in the atmosphere.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

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