AMBER LOVE 07-DEC-2015 Now you can sponsor Vodka O’Clock and through PATREON. Just go to (pledging will be changing from per episode to per month!)

Returning to the show is JOSH NEFF who you’ve heard so often he has his own name in the AmberUnmasked tag cloud. Also, don’t forget I have a hub of this year’s NaNoWriMo posts =)

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This episode is another extra long one where Josh and I get into some nitty gritty details about writing. We talked about mysteries and crime fiction in particular regards to red herrings, plotting, pacing, “show-don’t-tell”, and how different TV shows approach solving cases.

Cats! (Because of course) And other distractions that keep you from writing like Grace and Frankie marathons on Netflix.



Josh did better than last year’s NaNoWriMo because he attended some IRL Write-Ins and also took his writing on the road when alone at a coffee shop. His cat Oberon would otherwise demand a lot of attention if he were home. Plus, the comfort factor — get home after work and just wanting to be in jammies and sloth the night away.

Taking necessary breaks: find out how we spent our time intentionally not writing.


We talk about finding the right murder weapons and how to handle them in the plot; how to avoid today’s technology solving all the problems; plotting crimes that don’t happen under surveillance cameras. And please, can we move on to other things besides lethal peanut allergies?



Josh took a different kind of approach to NaNoWriMo by writing short fiction, poetry, scenes, and remixing fairy tales. He’s hopeful that he can pull it all together into a cohesive novel.

First drafts – telling yourself the story. Do you toss the entire rough draft away? Sounds bonkers, but some people do that.

You finished. But now what?



Josh and I talk about being motivated by authors like Stephen King and Chuck Wendig, even when we don’t enjoy a book of their but love how they craft and keep going. Some links are below for blogs that have resources we like.


One of the areas I mentioned where I try to spruce up my own writing is to add body language descriptions. I learned a lot about that from Joe Navarro’s books and interviews. (also a past VOC guest, ep 1232)

In a previous episode of VOC, Elsa Henry discussed not relying on visual descriptors, something that she always found challenging because of partial blindness. Recognizing ableism in your writing is another way to see how you can revise sensory details. Instead of always talking about how scenes and characters look, talk about other ways they exist: how they feel to the touch, smell, sound, etc.

Music, playlists, background TV noise… what works for you while you’re working? I began compiling a playlist for this novel on YouTube.

Josh shared tips on what you can do when you get bored with where your characters are in the story.

Our take on the infamous debate regarding “said”.


Dr. Lyle’s forensics blog for writers

Joe Navarro 

K.M. Weiland

Chuck Wendig’s

Austin Kleon

Josh’s blog

Twitter and Instagram: @JoshuaMNeff