Monday, August 17, 2009

When Lightning Strikes, Working With Your Muse

My guest today is award winning author, Delilah Devlin. She is the author of several series and has won Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for several of her books. Her current books are Darkness Burning Avon RED Tempted by a Cowboy Kensington Sexy Little Numbers 9/29 Black Lace.

Today she discusses how she works with her muse. Hang on because it's a wild ride.

I like the concept of chatting with you “over coffee”. Since I’m never without a pot brewing beside me while I work, it’s a comforting thought.

I’ve been on a tear lately, writing like a madwoman. Not much time to spend with friends or family. Not because I’m on an external deadline of some kind, but because I’m going through one of THOSE cycles. No, not menopause or PMS! I’m going through a creative cycle. Too many ideas bombarding me when I’m awake, although my dreams have been rich too. Just the other night, Temperance Brennan (from BONES) and I led a coup to take over the world. Can’t tell you how it ended though because when I drew the balaclava over my head, I woke up. Always happens before the big climax. Dammit.

Sia did say I could be myself.

In the past couple of months, I’ve written two shorts stories, two novellas, and I’ll wrap up a third novella this week. I’ve also been working on a proposal for a futuristic. I love it when the muse humors me with these creative spurts, and I take advantage of it, because when the current run peters out, the writing will become “work” again.

I like writing on several projects at once—planning one, plotting one, writing one, and editing one. It sounds insane, but it works for me. Every author has her own process; mine’s just manic at the moment. For a month there, April I think it was, I could hardly make myself sit at the computer to answer the email much less create, but I got a minimal amount of work done, enough I couldn’t claim writer’s block. When that happened, I hit the books—research books, that is—trying to refill the well with new ideas. I read Wicca books, Norse and British isle folklore, anything I could find on angels and demons, and lots of fetishist books. Plenty of inspiration there.

When the muse stirred, it exploded with several ideas all at once, some more formed than others, so I only made notes for the ones that were more mist than substance but tore into the full-bodied concepts. There’s enough material there to keep me going for the next year, which is to say there are many stories inside me now, because I believe in quantity—it works for me. The more I write, the better the writing is. When I slow down, I struggle for a word.

As I already said, every author has their own process, and I’d love to hear from you how you get past the doldrums, how you refill your well, and whether you work several projects in tandem or one at a time. For you readers, I’d love to hear whether you forgive authors for straying outside the lines of what you expect them to write.

Until recently, award-winning romance author Delilah Devlin lived in South Texas at the intersection of two dry creeks, surrounded by sexy cowboys in Wranglers. These days, she’s missing the wide-open skies and starry nights but loving her dark forest in Central Arkansas, with its eccentric characters and isolation—the better to feed her hungry muse!

For Delilah, the greatest sin is driving between the lines, because it’s comfortable and safe. Her personal journey has taken her through one war and many countries, cultures, jobs, and relationships to bring her to the place where she is now—writing sexy adventures that hold more than a kernel of autobiography and often share a common thread of self-discovery and transformation.

Delilah holds a MS in Systems Management and a BA in History & Spanish, minor in Military Science.

She says she’s a true geek at heart and loves travel and pouring over history and mythology books from around the world.

You can visit Delilah at her website: to see what’s soon to be released, excerpts, and contests.

Also available in September:

The Hired Hand, featured in Lesbian Cowboys by Cleis Press (9/1/09)


Houston A.W. Knight said...

I found this very interesting...I'm glad I'm not the only one with several books in me head at one time and then find days, like you, when I don't want to go near the e-mails. Thanks for sharing and making me feel NORMAL for my insane life as a writer. LOL

I really enjoyed this article.


Houston A.W. Knight said...


Hey darlin' how have you been? Great article above...I always love sharing a cup with you...sorry I've missed so many days of you, I've had a heck of a few months...the rest of this year promises to be the same... {8-O
CAN I SURVIVE the question!

Big Hugs Sweetie - I've missed you

Anonymous said...

I don't know that you can have a career without several books in your head at once (says the woman who just jotted down the first 2 pages of a contemporary she's planning to write at some point).

It's always fun when people start talking to you in your head - and the guys in the white suits DON'T show up. :)

Delilah Devlin said...

Hawk! You're certainly not normal when compared to the general population, but among writers, I believe there are many like us. :)

Judi! I know authors who are very one-tracked. They don't want anything it interfere with their current passion for their story. Sometimes, it's a choice not to follow a tantalizing daydream. Sometimes, they really are that internally focused and can't "live" outside their current world until the WIP is done!

Elle James said...

Hey Delilah,
You know you're talking about me with the single-tracked thing! I'm on the other end of the spectrum. I have to concentrate on one story at a time in order to complete a book. But it's whatever works for you as a writer. However, I go through peaks and valleys of motivation, and life has a way of interfering with accomplishing your page-count. Sometimes I wish I was more like my crazy sister, Delilah Devlin, and capable of working more than one project at a time. Have a happy, productive day!

Kat Sheridan said...

Hi, Delilah, nice to meet you! Such a whirlwind! (and I know Judi is the same way!) Not me. Single track all the way. OK, yes, I'll make notes on other things, maybe a few paragraphs or a page, then I stuff it in my idea file for future writing. But I get so into my writing, I don't let other voices be heard. They just have to wait their turn!

Delilah Devlin said...

Elle! Yes, I was thinking of you! We're from the same DNA pool, but so different it always makes me laugh. Nothing wrong with single-tracked work. It only matters that you produce. :)

Delilah Devlin said...

Kat! You and my sister are soulmates!

Mahalia Levey said...

I'm just amazed period.


Judy said...

Hi, Delilah!
I've always got several things going,too, and sometimes I just have to let something "age" a bit before getting on with it.
As a reader, I love it when the story takes an unexpected turn, or a character acts "out of character"!
Just tried to email you with a question, and it came back! Where are you?
Happy writing and blogging!

Word Actress said...

You're one of the lucky ones who can be manic as a writer and still get things done. I'm more of a turtle writer. It takes me a long time to put something out but I always love it in the end. Of course, I've got one book out, 'The Shadow of a Dog I Can't Forget' and am halfway through my first novel, 'Night Surfing'. I have thousands of ideas but I've found it's very important to get them organized in some way so I started what I call a Fragment File years ago and try to put stuff I find curious or interesting in there for future use. Now if I was TRULY brilliant, I would organize the fragment file into categories and see what comes out of that. They say writers repeat themes, I'd be curious to see what comes out of that. That's where an assistant would be so useful! Anyway, gotta get back to writing.
Thanks for the post...Mary Kennedy Eastham, Website:

~Sia McKye~ said...


I'm a multi-tasker. Not quite as wild as you with it, but juggling is auto for me or nothing would get done, lolol! Unfortunately, most of my juggling of late has been to do with getting my house back together and nothing much on writing. But I can feel my muse beating at me, so I need to get back to it.

I have a proposal I'm working on, now that my sweetheart friend put one together and I got to read it through and proof/critique it, I know know how to do one for writing, yay. I've done proposals for many other things but not my writing. Live and learning. :-)

BTW, didn't have time to properly welcome you. I'm glad you're here. I have kept a fresh pot of coffee going just for you. :-)

aries18 said...

Good morning Delilah,
Nice to see you here. I only wish I could be like you, writing like a whirlwind. Your pace is amazing.

I have three WIPS going but of late haven't been getting much done on any of them. When I'm trying to write and nothing is coming I take my muse for a nice long drive. Something about driving the open road breaks my blocks right down.

Sia, you've done it again, bringing us an inspriational and invigorating author to meet. You always have the best of the best.

Sending you both a lovely day.

VA said...

Delilah I understand the feast or famine phenomenon. Muses are tricky things, very flighty and determined creatures. Strong arming her does NOT end well. At least for me.

Back to one of 4 wips. Yes, all in varying stages of completion. Ack!

Delilah Devlin said...

Mahalia! I love your name. And not so amazing--I'm just committed (or ready to be committed!). :)

Judy! You can reach me at's working. :) And I'm with you on letting some things age. They either grow stronger or I get bored with them.

Delilah Devlin said...

Word Actress! Didn't the turtle win the race? Your fragment folder works a lot like my MS OneNote software. I open files by subject, genre or WIP title then copy and paste URLs where I've found some interesting tidbit or jot down a thought or line of dialogue--whatever pops into mind or I run across. It's handy because I can't file worth a damn, and if I did, I'd spend all my time searching.

Delilah Devlin said...

Thanks, Sia. If ever you'd like to see a fiction proposal all put together, I can send you a sample.

Aries! Have you ever tried Timed Writing. I'm a believer that a little friendly competition and no allowances for editing can produce an amazing word count.

Delilah Devlin said...

VA! I knew I wasn't the only one! Happy writing!

Sue Barr said...

I understand completely!!! I have, at this moment, two complete manuscripts (one awaiting the good word from an editor) two partials, a note book full of doodling and my current project came to me as I was driving to work. I LOVE writing. It has been a blast, wish I had done it sooner!
See you on the Trellis.

sonya said...

Delilah: As a reader and a fan, I certainly am thankful the Muse has been with you. I think with any type of work, we all go through cycles. I know with me, I work best when my interuptions have interuptions. Have a GREAT week.

Delilah Devlin said...

Sue! It took me 40 years to figure out what I wanted to be for the rest of my life. I have a friend who was closing on 70 before she started writing, and now she has nearly 20 books under her belt. Enjoy the wild ride!

Sonya! Thanks for stopping in, sweetie! Yeah, those of us who can multitask don't get as annoyed with life's little hiccups. :)

Sheila Deeth said...

Wow. That's one busy muse. Actually mine sends me in lots of directions at once too, which can be a real pain since life does the same thing too, making it hard to keep up with what I think I'm writing or doing. Motherhood helped. Are kids related to muses?

Helen Ginger said...

I tend to work on one project at a time. Since I'm both a writer and a freelance editor, I can take a break from one to slip on the other hat. So I'm usually keeping two plots in my head at once, but only one of them is mine.

Straight From Hel

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Hi Delilah,

I think I'm somewhere right in the middle. I have at least 2 stories in my heads at all times and the key is to make sure I remember what part goes with what story. I have confused myself on occasion. Keeping lots of notes is key for me!


Anonymous said...

Hello Delliah,

Thank you so much for sharing with us today, and thanks to Sia as well. I am not a writer, although, I have been accused of being a good writer!! LOL I am an artist though, and I marvel at all artistry. I normally have several ideas for paintings, and I have to write them down, or I forget! Unfortunately I am in menopause and your memory seems to be the first thing to go!!! LOL
I have went thru long periods of time that I don't paint or draw anything, and I hate that. So, my muse does work in cycles as well.
There are times I 'll have several paintings working at the same time, because I get flooded with ideas and I must put it to paint!!
Well, thanks for the conversation and I wish you luck with your books, be thankful you have a gift :)
take care,

Delilah Devlin said...

Sheila! I think kids make you want to hijack a muse.

Helen! A freelance editor?! I've wondered about doing that too, as a sideline. Yeah, I can see how doing both would fulfill the need for variety!

Barb! My sister keeps a cheat sheet next to her computer that lists character names, descriptions, and GMC because she needs a reminder every time she sits down to work.

Julian! Thanks so much, and it's nice knowing that writers aren't the only artists who can be manic. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm more of a reader than a writer, but I do both. As a writer, I love those manic times, and enjoy them, but always feel guilty (for me writing is a hobby, not yet a profession). My muse is speaking loudly today, but unfortunately billable hours must come first.

I actually think it's great when a writer I enjoy breaks out of their box - sometimes the same old same old gets a little, well, old, and it's fun when you shake it up, and stretch a little.

Kenna Specht Coltman

Delilah Devlin said...

Kenna! Writing can be a very fulfilling hobby. I have friends who love a short story challenge because it doesn't take much time away from their "real" life. And you can write a novel in a year, a page at a time.