By Margaret Lucke
The morning sun streams in my office window as I sit at my desk making my to-do list for the day. I like making to-do lists because it's easy. Accomplishing the items listed -- that's a different story.
I'm contemplating this when my Muse, yawning and stretching, wanders into the room.
"There you are!" I can hear the relief in my voice. "I thought you'd be here hours ago."
"Good morning to you, too," she says. "What are you up to, that you're so bright and cheerful such an early hour?"
It's past ten o'clock, but I don't point this out. What I point to is the to-do list. She picks it up and reads:
Make progress on editing current manuscript.
Write blog post for The LadyKillers.
Go grocery shopping.
Come up with idea for next novel.
"You've done all these things already?" She nods approvingly. "I'm impressed. We haven't even had breakfast yet. Speaking of which, I was thinking bacon and eggs, maybe some hashbrowns …"
"We don't have any potatoes. Or bacon. That list isn't what I've done. It's what I'm going to do today. I haven't started yet. I've been waiting for you. I need your help."
She raised her eyebrows. "Organize office. Ha! Not even I can perform miracles like that. At least, not before breakfast. How about a ham-and-cheese omelet?"
"We're out of eggs too."
"Fresh fruit, then, with granola and yogurt and--"
"No fruit either. Did you not see grocery shopping on the list?" I take the paper from her. "It's the last item I need your help with. Come up with idea for next novel. I'm almost finished with the second Claire Scanlan book, and I don't know what's coming next in the series. It's been driving me crazy. You're the expert at this sort of thing. Please, give me some inspiration. Bring me to the flashpoint that will ignite the new story. The first was House of Whispers. I'm calling the second one House of Desire. The third one will be House of …" I wait for my Muse to fill in the blank.
"Pancakes!" she says, and claps her hand with delight.
"House of Pancakes?"
"Yes! Light, fluffy pancakes. With butter and maple syrup, maybe some strawberry jam. If you don't have anything to make breakfast with, we'll go out to eat."
My Muse lifts her hands in a gesture I've come to know well. She uses it to express her exasperation. "Well, you can hardly expect me to come up with flashpoints on an empty stomach."
I suppose it's a fair trade--breakfast in exchange for inspiration. Besides, all this talk about food is making me hungry. "All right, you win. Let's go."
"Yippee!" She claps her hands.
I grab my purse, and we head for the car. Soon we're sliding into a restaurant booth.
"House of Pancakes," I mutter as the waitress hands us menus.
"Yes," my Muse says happily. "Wouldn't that be brilliant? In this book, Claire Scanlan will get into a volatile situation where she--"
And suddenly the flashpoint occurs and the story bursts into my mind.