AMBER LOVE 26-NOV-2016 You can sponsor the Vodka O’Clock show, this site and my work at Patreon.com/amberunmasked. For information about my books including the Farrah Wethers mystery series, just head over to my Books page. Also, you can hear me talk about self publishing and comics on the ComixLaunch podcast.

Day 20 – SUNDAY

As you probably know, my depression has not stabilized. I’d like to blame all of it on the election results and that certainly has been the primary reason. In two weeks, I’ve felt like wanting to dieAU tag for Mental Health posts at least three times, though if I’m honest with myself, it’s probably a lot more. I’ll go with a conservative three for now. I spent about 90% of the weekend in bed crying. I tried to write on Sunday so that I wouldn’t fall too far behind. I had a couple hours alone which rarely happens. My fingers were on a strange keyboard and every keystroke felt like climbing Mt. Everest. I achieved 1,000 words.


Hope that writing would keep me from dying.

amberunmasked.com MONK


I returned “home,” the place where I live though it’s not mine and there is literally not one square inch that belongs to me or affords privacy. I vowed to avoid social media and emails for at least this week, if not until the end of the month. If announcements go out, it’s me but not me; I’m learning to use the scheduling feature.

Maybe because we were apart for days, but there were some breakthroughs with Gus. He slept next to me all night only getting up once; and while I sat on the floor, he clawed at me to pick him up which he’s never done. He’s tolerated me picking him up, but this was the first time he asked.

amberunmasked.com word counts nanowrimo


To catch up on words due to low productivity. There could be any variety of factors that helped today: having Gus nearby sleeping and being a good assistant; avoiding the internet; hormones or brain chemicals or whatever; background Murder, She Wrote marathon. I don’t know. I don’t care right now. I was interrupted five times during the day.

In the third act of the story, time to ramp things up again. I had to get my protagonist to the location where the action will be in the next few sections.

HOUSE gif amberunmasked.com

DAY 22

I had another bloody nose for fifteen minutes. Way to start the day. At least Gus returned at 8AM when it was time for me to get to work. He wasn’t with me all night but ate his breakfast at 6. After two hours of writing, I needed a break. When I opened my browser for research, my default page is Facebook. I scrolled for a few seconds, saw the continued misery, closed it. I just can’t. It’s still too much. Hiatus from social media and all news continued.

I played with the cat for a few minutes and had to make a phone call to the doctor to schedule an appointment. My right hand had already been shaking while typing, but calling the doctor’s office, sitting on hold, then speaking to a human resulted in both hands trembling and the sweats.

amberunmasked.com word count nanowrimo
DAY 22


After the call and cat time, I hoped writing would be smooth, but it wasn’t great. I made it to 1800 words, certainly nothing to brush off, but I hoped for more.

“Part of writing fear and dread is not letting your readers see too much too quickly.” — Jane K. Cleland  in “Mastering Suspense Structure & Plot,” 2016.

A few more characters are named as there’s a search party assembled. The protagonist is on the scene with her support system of people. Different law enforcement agencies are there and personalities are shown in how different they are. It’s a real look inside their heads. Today’s writing session built up tension, hopefully created a fair amount of suspense, ending with one part of the puzzle in place.

Tom Clancy Ghost Recon

DAY 23

I woke up at 4AM again. I guess that’s my new time. The cat hasn’t spent much time with me for days. At least both of them came in for a few minutes. Once Ollie whined though, I gave them catnip. They wrestled for a few minutes and took off. Gus eventually returned to nap in his new box. Right about that time, I was 1100 words into the writing session and started to feel quite sick. Coffee, McVities, and a giant vegan cookie aren’t exactly making me the picture of health. I was trying to avoid time in this kitchen so I ate what I could easily grab.


I had another scene to work on this week which is basically out of my comfort zone. It’s supposed to come off like a thrilling Tom Clancy scene of armed officers busting into buildings and trying to save people. I have no idea at the moment if what I produced is even readable. It’s supposed to be thrilling and suspenseful. It’s supposed to get your blood racing as you go along with the cops on their task. Hopefully it’s not pile of hot garbage and I don’t mean just because it’s a rough draft.

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The first hour of my writing session, I cruised along. I reached 992 in that hour. I clicked to the menu to check my total, believing I had to be around 1400 because it felt like I had accomplished so much in the scene. Nope. Big fat NOPE. However, after a sluggish moment, I reached 1,722 at the end of a 2.5 hour session which is quite good for me.

amberunmasked.com books

I opted for the soundtracks station on Pandora instead of a TV marathon because of the scene I’m in the middle of crafting. It’s an intense standoff situation. I wanted to hear things like Batman Begins or Halo. They have the right kind of orchestral tracks for this mood.

The only expectation I had today was to give writing a shot. I didn’t think I’d do well today.


I didn’t sleep particularly well. Every time I woke up, I started having some bad thoughts. I tried to wrangle them into something productive. I believe a writer does better when they are prepared and know what they’re going to write before sitting down to the keyboard. With that in mind, I kept trying to think of my story and how to get to through the most climactic scene since I was awake. I don’t know if my writing is strong for the “big plot points” or “climaxes,” but I’ve tried to do better each time. I didn’t have much hope for my writing session when I was interrupted twice before I even got two paragraphs done. Fortunately, right after that I had an empty house for a couple hours.

amberunmasked.com nanowrimo


All I wanted today was make the minimum. Last year, I was great about having certain days that gave me a solid lead to take a couple days off if I needed. I hadn’t done that this year. I had a cushion of < 1000 words which did help. I had six days below the 1667 minimum daily target and one of those was a 0 day. However, I also had six days over 2000, including today.

What is unexpected is that I thought I was going to need an epilogue to do a bit of info dumping (in a creative way, I hoped) to wrap up some characters, but I don’t think I will have to. After the climax, my brain was able to move things along in a way that I don’t think has ever happened before. I think two of the characters have endings now that are clean and satisfying. Of course, I could be dead wrong.


Plan ahead for the holidays or scheduled days off. I’ve said it before. But here, I’m not going to reference word count. I think it’s important to know yourself well enough to know how can you plan days where your energy will be in higher demand. I knew that about Thanksgiving. I knew that I’d have to muscle through the day surrounded by a large group of people I don’t know particularly well in a rather small, confined house. I was pre-panicking for days which added to the rest of the week’s insurmountable feeling of dread (see entries above).

NaNoWriMo gives writers a valuable tool in its plan: write 1667 words every day for 30 days. Everyone is an individual when it comes to “energy” for the day though. Scientists might try to convert that to a quantifiable unit like calories burned, but whole being energy is a different beast. It’s your body, your brain/intelligence, AND your personal perception of functionality.

  • Can you think clearly?
  • Is your frame of mind keeping you from getting out of bed?
  • Have you been able to find the strength to feed yourself, shower, and put on fresh clothes?

Like measuring pain in billions of different people, there’s no way science can tell you if you’ve got it in you to write every day.

shirley jackson quote

Get to know what things in daily life are likely to utilize more of that immeasurable energy. Will driving in the car for hours leave you drained? Or having to listen to hours of screaming children? Or cooking a feast you struggle through once a year? If a week like Thanksgiving week is more likely to be rough for you, then the next time you tackle a November NaNoWriMo, you’ll know at Day 1 that you need add even a hundred words every day so that you can coast from Black Friday to the end on November 30th without the additional anxiety. Take Black Friday as a mental health day if it’s what you need. For me, this year was different. Writing was my safe time. Even when I didn’t think I could figure out how to pick up where I left off, the time within the world of my story (even a scary one) kept me away from real life which felt worse to face. Escapism is often derided. I think as long as you know it’s escapism and know you can’t stay there, it’s a useful tool for self preservation.

“There is nothing more to be said or to be done tonight, so hand me over my violin and let us try to forget for half an hour the miserable weather and the still more miserable ways of our fellowmen.” ― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Five Orange Pips

DAY 26

I was worried that I reached the ending chapters of my story too quickly, under the 50k target. That still might be the case. Of course there are always scenes that could be spiced up with descriptions if I reach the finish line but have fallen short. I try to move the plot forward and focus on sensory descriptions later. I get a few noted in each scene as I’m writing, but they get better in an editing stage. Over the past couple days, I also wondered if my title wasn’t good. I have been calling it Misty Murder from the beginning, but now I’m not sure.

nanowrimo word counts
DAY 26 – 45K WORDS

Then I was worried that the clean cut ending regarding two of the people wouldn’t actually work. I think I came together well enough for a draft though. The one character does have me concerned that no one reading would have any reason to care about her; like a Criminal Minds plot, she was needed as a victim to show a pattern of behavior, but in a way, she’s just a “woman in a refrigerator.” (That’s a comic book saying). In spite of those worries, I reached 45k words this morning with excellent productivity — only 90 minutes and just shy of 2,000 words for the writing session.




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