Elizabeth Amber Love book cover

AMBER LOVE 22-NOV-2015 Week THREE of NaNoWriMo Click to go back to Week One went surprisingly well. I have started the week with my progress bar in the yellow. That’s a Scrivener thing if you don’t know what I’m talking about. 


Today I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write this particular scene or if I wanted to have the actions in it only alluded to in an indirect way. In the end, what I decided to do was cut down on the details of that part I wasn’t sure about and then introduce yet another obstacle for my two main characters. I’ve done a much better job this year of keeping my protagonist challenged on a consistent basis. I even introduced a “ticking clock” component last week which was something that came and went. The clock has run out and my characters still have things to do to accomplish their ultimate goals: trying to have a successful business experience and also trying to solve a murder. At this point in the story, they have only just now accepted that the person who died was murdered and didn’t die by accident. This week, I have to figure out how to get them sleuthing.

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The progress charts for today show my dashboard at the NaNoWriMo site and two different stats panels from Scrivener. The blue part shows some cool information like my average compared to what they suggest as targets, how far I’ve come and have remaining, and projections about finishing. Then there’s the bar graph showing my progress compared to the suggested minimum activity. Below those, the Scrivener words are little off from the official NaNoWriMo words because of some extraneous things that get typed in my notes; even though I don’t have notes in the Compile settings, somehow as days progress, this becomes slightly off the daily word count as seen in the last panel (30,926 > 30,905). The interesting part to me is where it shows how many pages it would be if printed right now in paperback or printed document style.


As for my mental health today, I was up half the night for no reason at all. I think it’s because I drank an extremely potent Manhattan on Saturday night and fell asleep before 9PM because I’m clearly a stodgy old far of a writer.


At 2:30AM my cat was puking so I got up out of the half-sleep I was in. Then I was awake for hours. Eventually I dozed back off. At 7AM, I went to move and accidentally kicked Caico in the face so I got up. But I didn’t start typing until around 9AM. (Feel free to diverge to the Writers Love Cats listicle and this fabulous Pinterest board).



I got through my words pretty quickly this day. I slightly altered my approach to a scene. I was going to have my main character, a female protagonist named Farrah, end up stuck in a situation where she would be alone in a room for an hour with a man who was rather tempting to her unhappily married self. Instead, I added time with a new character so there is more dialog to reveal information about the murder victim. Then I put in the alone time scene with hunky guy, but cut it down in steaminess and detail. I was going to make this male character blatantly perfect, but instead, he’s kind of a jerk; he’s a quintessential nice guy most of the time, but then he’ll say or do something sexist or mean. Farrah still fantasizes about fucking him though and that’s something she’s going to wrestle with throughout the story. Will they or won’t they? At this point, I honestly haven’t decided.

Incidentally, no music in the background the last couple days.

DAY 16
DAY 16


Still managed to get started before 9AM and damn, do I need to wash my hair and do some laundry. I didn’t get started as early as Monday because I get to stay in bed later some days. But by 8:15AM, I was over 900 words cruising along. Had a hard time starting. I was trying to think too much, I guess. I didn’t know what I was doing.

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In the past, I’ve read my friends’ books, like Duane Swierczynski and Ande Parks, and I wondered how the hell they come up with chapter after chapter of beating the shit out of their protagonists. Especially Duane, his catalog of work is basically an action fan’s wet dream.

I recognized that I wasn’t putting my characters in enough danger. Sure, in the first Farrah Wethers book I had her get assaulted, but it was in a non-violent way; not a big spoiler here – someone chloroformed her and she passed out while they searched the premises. She wasn’t physically hurt. I’m doing different kinds of crime fiction than my friends. It’s cozy mysteries; soft boiled to medium boiled. I like cozy themes and female amateur sleuths, but I like them to curse and have sex if they want to.


Over the past year, I’ve occasionally reminded myself that I need to keep throwing obstacles at my characters or it’ll be too boring. They need challenges. The challenges can be catastrophic or small inconveniences. This book, I’m doing that and I’m wondering if I’m doing it too much where I struggled to do it at all in the first book. I feel like she’s not sleuthing enough. The only reveals about the clues are coming from dialog which could be construed as a variation of exposition/dumping.

The reason I chose the Stephen King quote about Harry Potter and Twilight is because I think about whether it’s fair for me to compare my cozies to action-packed crime fiction with drug dealers and mercenaries. In the case of Twilight, he says it’s about one thing which happens to be shallow: finding a boyfriend.

Should I look at my story and ask what’s the one thing it’s about? If I do, as the creator, could I even come up with an accurate one thing to take away from it as the reader? The one thing I know as the creator is that it’s about a massage therapist who tries to solve a murder using her own intelligence, reasoning, and stubbornness while struggling with anxiety and depression (yes, I’m blatantly transparent). I have no idea whatsoever if that’s the reader’s experience. In book two, I might be hurting her too much and simply not letting her do her investigating because she’s busy overcoming obstacles. I have no fucking idea. It’s probably terrible.


I’ve listened to two Stephen King books, one his On Writing and the other The Colorado Kid; I’ve only sat and read one other which was non-fiction called Guns that a friend of mine gifted to me. So, I’m not like this massive King fan because I hate horror. I can’t deal with it. My idea of horror is Scooby-Doo. That being said (again), I do find that I quote him a lot because he’s inspiring.

I sat there with my word count stuck at 927 for hours. I didn’t know how to move on. I showered, started the laundry, ate a bagel and shared the tofu cream cheese with Caico. I was able to resume the draft. Just as I neared my daily minimum words, I received an email.

It was another rejection on the first Farrah Wethers book. I know people talk about querying hundreds of agents; to me that’s fruitless. I carefully go through the bios of agents to see who wants cozies and I don’t query more than one agent from the same agency at a time.

It hurt more than the others because it was from the only literary agent I actually know and wasn’t blind querying. I feel like garbage. Phrases like “talented but not commercial” will keep me from getting traditionally published. I really am fine with self publishing. I enjoy it. But I’d also like to make some money so I’m not a complete failure sapping off my loved ones’ bank accounts. That’s not the privilege I want. I want the privilege that comes with success. Enough success, not Stephen King success; enough to not be this way. To pay my fair share. To have my own space. To be able to pack up my things and go to a convention across the country if I want because there will be enough people there who want to see me.


Sure, it’s the definition of vanity. I want my work to not suck. I want to smash the myth of the starving artist.

DAY 17
DAY 17


I had some emotions about personal stuff creeping up on me today. I was at the point where I was still undecided about whether Farrah would cheat on her husband. I wrote the scene and ended it so that it’s still debatable. The reader doesn’t know. Fuck, if I don’t know, how can you?

DAY 18
DAY 18


At 1,392 words, my Scrivener program took a shit on itself and went to NOT RESPONDING. I had merely taken a break. I reached over a thousand words and thought it was a great time to finally shower and get dressed. I read through some Twitter news, put away laundry, and then opened up Pandora because I kept hearing Enya in my head anyway so it may as well be playing. When I resumed typing and suddenly this shit happened, I did what you’re supposed to do: Ctl-Alt-Del. That doesn’t fucking work. It doesn’t do anything. The task list opened, I clicked to end the process. Nothing. Still spinning.

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Then I tried to click the Windows Start button and Restart because that seemed logical. It also didn’t work. I was given the “Shutting Down” screen and it wouldn’t actually move on from there. I ended up holding the button on the tower in under the power was killed. I went and lit a black candle. Sure, it’s too late for a protection spell at this point, but WTF else was I doing while shit was failing?


Fortunately, when I did get it up and running and opened Scrivener, my scene was there and I had only lost a few words.


Another night where I’m pretty sure I only slept for four hours and the rest of time laid there with my eyes closed trying to force sleep to take me. Oh well. It’s no wonder I’m always tired. I think I got to typing by 7AM though and finished by 10AM. I was so glad I didn’t struggle too long today. I had a hard time getting starting. I’m smack dab in the middle of my story and it feels like there’s too much not going on about the murder. I tried to reel myself in and make sure today’s scene at least acknowledged someone doing something about sleuthing. It ended up being my main character’s best friend who is more tech savvy than Farrah; not saying much because Farrah functions at the lowest smartphone level. She uses social media, but she isn’t glued to it and never realized just how much information about people they put out there. That’s June’s department.

I spent an additional block of time in the afternoon coming up with a playlist for the first half of the novel. I’m not great with musicians and bands anymore like I was in college. Now, I open up Pandora and generally don’t pay attention to the song title or the band. I also don’t get the opportunity to purchase music all the often so my library tends to be pretty outdated.



Needed the day off to speak at New Jersey Comic Expo. No words written. 🙁


I pulled some videos together from YouTube and put them in a playlist. Not all are official so I can’t be certain they won’t get taken down at some point.

Farrah and Jackson – Annie Lennox “Dark Road”

Car trouble – Angels & Airwaves “Anxiety”

Saving Milton – Grace Potter & the Nocturals “Roulette”

Hackers Hit - Avicii “For a Better Day” (video should have a warning about content; but the premise of young vigilantes against powerful men seemed to fit minus the sex trafficking theme)

Whitney - Carrie Rodriguez “The Big Mistake”

Drinks with Derek - Billie Holiday “You Go To My Head”, Etta James “Something’s Got a Hold on Me”

Continue to Week Four or revisit my NaNoWriMo hub 

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