Guest Blogger Gemma Brocato: Listening To The Muse Even When She Whines

I’ve got a treat for you today as Gemma Brocato, author of COOKING UP LOVE, has agreed to share her thoughts about The Muse. Gemma and I connected as sister authors at Lyrical Press, now the digital imprint of Kensington Books. Initially, I had an interview planned with Gemma for today, and wanted to put the spotlight on COOKING UP LOVE. As we wait for everything to sort itself out between Kenstington and Lyrical, book titles are temporarily unavailable, but rather than cancel her visit, Gemma agreed to write a post on a subject I adore — mythology!

Let’s see what she has to say about the elusive, fickle, and oh so wondrous, muse!


Thanks to Mae for inviting me by today, and for being flexible about what type of post I would present to her lovely followers. See, I’d completed a post about my debut novel, Cooking Up Love and had it ready to go. But the Muses moved the powers that be at Lyrical Press and Kensington to form a partnership that I’m very excited about. Unfortunately, it means my book is temporarily off the market and it doesn’t make sense to promote the book. So, I was inspired talk to you about the Muses.

AThe word Muse actually means desire or wish. As in, I wish I knew where this post was heading.

Did you know there were nine Muses? And they were all girls (wouldn’t you hate competing for bathroom time in that house?). According to Greek mythology Zeus bewitched Mnemosyne and spent nine consecutive nights with her, producing the Musai. The goddesses were born in Pieria, at the foot of Mt. Olympus. Their names might be recognizable for what they’ve come to inspire in present day. Here’s a chart:

Muses Chart

When I look at their names, I see Choir, Eros, Hymn, and Ha.

After the girls were born, Zeus fostered them out to Apollo to raise them. Apollo moved them to Mt. Elikonas where he helped them dedicate their lives to the arts, teaching them to support and encourage creation, enhance imagination and inspire artists. But the power most frequently attributed to them is the power to bring to mind…and clarify…the story the writer wishes to tell. Apparently, listening to what the Muse had to say was important. Ignore it, and she could be spiteful; leaving the artist blind or the singer or poet mute. I suppose that’s what we’d call writer’s block today.

Since the days of Ancient Greece, writers, musicians and artists have called upon their Muse for help and guidance. Homer asks his Muse to tell him the story in the proper way in both the Iliad and The Odyssey.

Eric Clapton spoke about his Muse this way: “I wish I could write easily. I’m one of those guys who’s visited by the Muse when things are dire.”

fotolia_36132060_xsOne of my favorite authors, Harlan Coben, has this to say about his Muse: “The Muse is not an angelic voice that sits on your shoulder and sings sweetly. The Muse is the most annoying whine. The Muse isn’t hard to find, just hard to like – she follows you everywhere, tapping you on the shoulder, demanding that you stop doing whatever else you might be doing and pay attention to her.”

Donatella Versace has a one and it looks a lot like her: “My Muse changes all the time because I think every designer is a bit of a Muse for themselves in a way – they just don’t want to say it.” While I do believe some of her creations are inspired, I wonder what her Muse actually wears? I’m thinking maybe Chanel.

Can you summon your Muse at will? Or must you wait for her to come? I think Amy Tan answered this best: “Who knows where inspiration comes from. Perhaps it arises from desperation. Perhaps it comes from the flukes of the universe, the kindness of the Muses.”

All I know is when my Muse speaks, I listen to her, even when she whines.


cookinguplove_CoverWhat a great post! I loved that line about the bathroom. Cat fight, guaranteed, LOL. I’m anxious to hear your thoughts and answers to Gemma’s questions about your personal muse. And although COOKING UP LOVE is temporarily off the market, you can still add it to your Goodreads list, here.

Author Bio
Gemma’s favorite desk accessories for many years were a circular wooden token, better known as a ’round tuit,’ and a fortune from a fortune cookie proclaiming her a lover of words; some day she’d write a book. All it took was a transfer to the United Kingdom, the lovely English springtime, and a huge dose of homesickness to write her first novel. Once it was completed and sent off with a kiss even the rejections, addressed to ‘Dear Author’, were gratifying.

After returning to America, she spent a number of years as a copywriter, dedicating her skills to making insurance and the agents who sell them sound sexy. Eventually, her full-time job as a writer interfered with her desire to be a writer full-time and she left the world of financial products behind to pursue an avocation as a romance author.

Her gamble paid off when she was a 2012 Finalist in the prestigious Golden Pen contest for Romantic Suspense and she received contracts for her first and second book.

Gemma BrocatoConnect with Gemma at the following haunts:

40 thoughts on “Guest Blogger Gemma Brocato: Listening To The Muse Even When She Whines

  1. Great info on muses. I loved hearing what other writers and artists had to say. My muse is Endora, the disdainful witch from Bewitched. 🙂 She’s contrary, and grudging with her praise, and loves to disappear in a puff of smoke. But somehow we manage to make things work. LOL Congrats on your debut — I’m sure it will be wonderful!


    • OMG, Donna, that’s the funniest thing I’ve read. I never thought about naming my muse. Hmm… maybe I’ll call mine Regina George, like Rachel McAdams character in Mean Girls. There are days when pushy and bitchy describe my muse perfectly.


      • Gemma, Donna has written several fabulous blog posts about her battles, er, skirmishes, er, encounters with Endora 🙂 She has me thinking I need to name mine too, but like a typical muse….mine is elusive when it comes to a name.


      • Oops — thought I was replying to Gemma’s comment. LOL I’ll blame it on Endora. Yes, I think we’ll call them “encounters”, although skirmishes is more apt. 🙂 I just keep letting her think she’s the star of the show and somehow it all works out!


  2. Lovely post Gemma! And so happy to learn more about mythology at the same time. I knew about the muses, but never their names and representation. Well, except Eros, ha ha. I write, whether my muse is present or not, forging ahead, but I do know that my writing is better when she is there. I can feel the creative energy, and I know if I stop, it will too. Unfortunately, if I’m too tired, sleep wins out, but one day I hope to keep going until 2am if I have to, like I’ve heard other writers do, just to get that inspiration down.


    • Good morning, Cd. When I read what you said, it popped into my mind that my Muse is present more often when I edit than when I write. That’s kind of a weird way to think about it. I can honestly tell you I very rarely write at 2 AM. Lately it seems I’ve been writing according to my meal schedule. Write, eat, repeat. Thanks for stopping by.


    • Those pesky, fickle muses! It just like them to turn on the creativity at 2AM, LOL!

      I’m like you, Cd…I can feel the energy when my muse is present, spurring me on. I can also feel when she’s being sulky and uncooperative. I’ve had a few of those writing marathons on the weekend, but think the latest I’ve lasted is 1AM. Even if my muse isn’t tapped out by then, I am!


  3. Hi Gemma, excellent post. I love the notion of the muse. Mine prods me to get on and write. I know the times the muse disappears as then the words flow with tortuous treacle slowness. When the muse is with me my fingers fly over the keyboard. I am sure very soon we will see Cooking Up Love on sale.


    • My Muse was with me yesterday for sure. I do love it when the words flow and she has conversations with the character, who then get pushy, demanding their words by put on the page. Sometimes, my fingers can’t keep up. Thanks for stopping by, Daisy.


  4. *waves* Hi Mae and Gemma! Do ya’ll feel a bit disconnected and lost now that we’re in limbo with our books at Kensington/Lyrical? I know I’m a writer, but at the same time often don’t feel like one, or not a published one. This waiting process is like being a newbie all over again and waiting for that first contract. 😆

    Well, when I look at their names I don’t see anything familiar. lol None of those Muses fit romance like I write so I just call my muse “Darn You”. As in- Darn you, I need to write, where are you? She has other names…but they aren’t fitting to list here. Ha! Great post, Gemma. I loved the bathroom bit too.


    • Hi Calisa, you’re right waiting is difficult. I’ve decided to do what I did while waiting for a response after I submitted my book to Lyrical. I’m writing. I’ve set a goal to write at least 1000 words on the next story in the Five Senses series, and I’m staying on track.
      I love that you call your Muse Darn-you. I’be called my Muse far worse. And I’m grateful I’ve never had to share the bathroom with nine other women. Although the college dorm bathroom was vaguely reminiscent of that scene. Thanks for stopping by!


    • Hi, Calisa. Yep, I’m feeling a bit disconnected right now and like a newbie all over again but it helps to have other projects to focus on.

      It sounds like your muse might be taking lessons from Donna’s Endora. Of course, all of those colorful names are creative in their own way, so I guess she’s still inspiring you! 😀


  5. Hey Gemma and Mae,

    The contract waiting period isn’t pleasant, but no sitting idle for me (or for any of us, I imagine.) I’ve released Highlander’s Captive, and I’m buzzing over how well it’s doing. It’s bouncing around in the Top 30 in Amazon’s Scottish Medieval Romances, and I couldn’t be happier. My muse is doing a happy dance and she’s a little hard to contain right now. 🙂

    Hopefully those contracts will be flooding our inboxes real soon. I can’t wait.


  6. Love Greek mythology! Thanks for the post, Gemma! Very fun and informative.
    As far as personal muse, I don’t see myself as having one, though I do experience an urge to write that is stronger at times than others. If I had a muse, it wouldn’t be female. I guess I’m a non-traditionalist. I think my muse might be a gay man…


  7. Gemma, I also have a round tuit, and when library staff gave it to me a few years ago I had never heard of one. It became a treasured ornament. Mythology is one of my strongest passions, and i love the story of the muses. I cannot call my muse at will. We may think we’re the puppeteers, but it’s usually the other way around. However, applying the ole butt glue does set the stage for more frequent “pop ins.” Thanks for the post!


    • We had several of those round tuits floating around our office several years ago.
      I think they make a great motivator 🙂

      I use the ole butt glue trick too, Flossie…every Sunday, whether my muse is agreeable or not, LOL! So glad you enjoyed Gemma’s post.


    • Holy Cow! I’ve never met anyone else who had a round tuit. That is very cool! I’ve decided my Muse doesn’t talk directly to me unless I’m really making a mess of things. She speaks through my characters first and lets them do the heavy lifting. Thanks for stopping by Flossie.


  8. Intriguing post. I definitely believe in inspiration but not in a muse whose presence is required to write. Inspiration comes when she comes much like the concept of a muse. But writing is something I do every day regardless of whether I feel inspired or not.


  9. Hi, Kourtney. Although I’m unable to write every day, I agree with you that it’s necessary to write regardless of whether you feel inspired or not. I have a standing date for that every Sunday, barring an emergency. It’s amazing how you can wrangle your muse into cooperating with a regular routine!


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