AMBER LOVE 19-NOV-2016 You can sponsor the Vodka O’Clock show, this site and my work at 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 13:

Another successful day which I attribute to not looking at my phone or the news much. Proving how little, my phone was still at 75% battery when I was ready for bed. It’s usually down to that before breakfast.

DAY 14:

Monday – today was a bit more normal in my productivity and speed for words. I sat down at 8AM and didn’t reach my target until 11:30. I got caught up in the post-election news of horror like the new top aide and Cabinet appointments.


My expectations for my story today were to get to a big plot point where there are copycats running around the region. I also got to explain why my protagonist is making a big change in her life.

As for the real world, I also discovered that some data was indeed lost after the semi-crash last week. It was only three character sheets with all their notes and they were minor characters, but I needed one of them today and noticed the sheets were all blank templates. Copying and pasting some information from parts of the story makes my word count for the day artificially padded. The 23,801 is accurate while the 2,035 daily is not. New words for the day is truly 1,687. I also can’t get Google Drive to load which is why it’s only one of my backup methods. Backups can fail. I have three types of backups: Google Drive for the compiled Word doc (only saves the story pages); my passport drive (saves the entire directory); and a cloud service (hopefully saving the entire directory daily and automatically).


I kept pausing so I decided to do some housecleaning while I wasn’t being productive with words. Cleaning with bleach and then vacuuming took a toll on my breathing capacity (woohoo fun with allergies and chemical sensitivity!).


Got a late start to the working day because the cable guy had to come and upgrade some old equipment. Both cats were intent on helping him. cats


It took from 9-Noon to reach 1,200 words. Then I took a break to listen back to my interview with Tyler at ComixLaunch. (whoops, he edited out all my F bombs). Then resumed writing at 1PM. It was only another 30 minutes to reach a decent stopping point at 1,825. I had written an entire chapter (I prefer short chapters) where my protagonist Rosie learns more information which creates another legal obstacle; she has to contact the right people to get their butts in gear to make them do their jobs and handle the situation; and it wraps up with a brand new disaster courtesy of her loser son.


Based on a total word count of 50k, reaching 25k today means I should be at the “midpoint” of the story structure. According to my Scrivener outline, I’m already in the second half of the second act. I guess it could all be interpreted differently. There are wonderful examples of books and movies used in K.M. Weiland’s 5 Secrets of Story Structure which is a follow up to her previous book Structuring Your Novel. If you follow me on Twitter, Weiland’s podcasts and site are among my regular shares of advice on writing. As of a week ago, 5 Secrets of Story Structure was available on Amazon for free to download the Kindle version.

What I liked in Weiland’s book besides the ton of examples (spoilers there btw) is how specific she is in the process. The second act is the largest section of the book to write. It’s usually where a lot of people lose steam and want to stop. Weiland breaks down this big chunk of a novel into small pieces which are less intimidating when you take them individually. She says in the first half of the second act, your protagonist is in reaction mode. Then you reach the midpoint or what’s called a reversal. Weiland states, “now he is equipped to start taking action.” The character makes a decision and takes a new direction. hawkgirl

That means the second half of this daunting act is the time for the character leap into action, not to be conflated with an “action/adventure story.” A character taking action needs to be what’s correct for that character (age, abilities, intelligence, and resources). For example, my main character is a seventy-year-old woman. She’s not a Kung Fu expert or gun wielding seventy-year-old woman either. But when she shoots off an email demanding that lawyers get their asses in gear, she’s taking action and taking the offensive against another party.

Instead of my usual Murder, She Wrote reference, below is a point in the Netflix show, Grace & Frankie, where Grace has heard her husband of forty years is gay and it’s the first time she really stands up for herself. She’s made a decision in this scene to move out of the one house, take Robert’s new super gay chair of Ryan Gosling’s face, and move into their beach house.

Besides Weiland’s book and blog on story structure, there’s also the one at the top of this post by Jane Cleland, Mastering Suspense, Structure & Plot which I received as swag at a Mystery Writers’ of America/Sisters in Crime workshop. Cleland has nearly identical breakdowns to Weiland, but she calls them by different names and phrases. She shorthands “twists/reversals/dangers” into “TRDs” and states that they should occur every 70-90 pages.

If you’re working in Scrivener and not Word, you have no idea what page you’re on in the editor window. You can go to the Project Statistics and roughly see what page you’d be on for pages; it gives two numbers, “paperback” and “printed” and I don’t know how they determine either. At this point, that tells me my “paperback pages” would be 74 and “printed pages” would be 125. Digital books (if you’re going to only go to publish as digital) don’t even have pages because people can adjust the way text appears to make the font and line spacing larger or smaller; which is another good thing in Weiland’s book because she uses percentage complete as a marker. scrivener tutorial


If this is my page 74, that means my main character was faced with a personal attack against her property a bit sooner; her computer was hacked and a virus loaded. I’m guessing that happened at around page 50. I compiled the manuscript through Scrivener to output (111 pages so far) as if it were being submitted to an agent/publisher. In Word, the murder occurs on page 47 of a standard letter size piece (not counting the cover sheet). At Word page 80, Rosie’s computer is under attack. By Word page 100, Rosie announces another huge career decision. It’s page 109-110 where Rosie pulls herself together and regains the confidence she lost after being knocked down a few pegs. Like I said, emailing her professional services people isn’t a huge action, but it’s significant to her in that she’s tired of waiting for people to get back to her with their plans. She came up with a list of things she wants them to do for her and issued the commands. writing


I was able to get through a scene today, but I had to do some on-the-fly editing and also edit a previous chapter for a couple reasons. At one point, I couldn’t remember where one of the secondary characters was. Oh, right, I sent Aunt Harriet into the backyard to check on a thing! I had forgotten to ever mention a cornfield or farm nearby which is required for a later scene and also because this story involves scarecrows. Duh. I need a field for that.


It wasn’t a productive day in terms of words per hour, but I had to spend some time on the NaNoWriMo forums for research. Fortunately, I found almost exactly what I needed. Broke 27k words so I’m still on par. I had hoped to get a little ahead each day where I had the stamina to do so. Yesterday and today though I used up my energy on household chore stuff.

The rest of my day involved doing stuff for myself that I was far more inclined to do because it was gorgeous weather today. I drove out to the health food store where they sell spices in bulk so I can refill bottles. Enjoyed a little bit of time in one of my favorite places, Clinton, New Jersey. Drove back home and took the cats outside on the porch for an hour. Even finished laundry which I had let pile up last week.

DAY 17

I tried writing this morning as usual around 8AM. I feel sick and I’m utterly lacking in any kind of energy so after 385 words, I’m going to go afk and see if that helps.

duane swierczynski writing

The break helped a little. I caught up on some sleep (apparently I’m preparing for hibernation). I got fresh air with Gus for two hours. After 15 minutes of the sun touching me, my left arm was bright red and itchy. Fetched my parasol and that was much better. It didn’t clear my head much and reading wasn’t going particularly well either.

I’m a thousand words behind where I was this day last year. I was so much more confident seventeen days ago. I figured writing more over the last year would make writing easier. Maybe it is in some regards, but not in others. Again, awful typing skills probably doesn’t help. nanowrimo

Didn’t reach minimum target words for the day, but still on par to complete as long as I can make the minimum or over for the rest of the month which may be hard with Thanksgiving.

DAY 18 – TGIF?

Today was the first day in quite a while where I was able to restrain myself from obsessing about the daily White House appointments. Instead had several things involving writing and pop culture that I needed to squeeze into my day. The first was sending an email that I dreaded writing about bigotry in an important cosplay charity group and taking action when you see something. I tried to get a couple reminders out about FULL BODY MANSLAUGHTER since it’s Friday and #fridayreads is a fun thread. And I posted a press release from Black Mask Studios about their sale for variants that will help an LGBTQIA organization. word counts


My goal for today’s NaNoWriMo was to begin the Third Act of the story. Time for a major climax and then by tomorrow or Sunday, I’ll probably be on to some serious action. Unlike my previous definition of “action” to mean “small things like sending emails counts as protagonist action,” what is planned for the next act does involve some kidnapping and chasing. But not today. Today was about making the hero’s life even more miserable and it was already pretty much in the dumper. Clue



Get out if you can! Pick a favorite spot that isn’t outrageous and go get away for an hour or two. I’m not talking about an entire night in the Big Apple (unless you can and you like it, cool). Clear your head. Let go of the stress of the world for just one hour.

  • Nature spot
  • Library
  • Bookstore
  • Yoga class (or if you’re into fitness stuff, do that)
  • Take the dog for an extra long walk
  • Dinner with someone special
  • Catch a movie


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2 Comments on Week 3: #NaNoWriMo2016 diary. The Midpoint & Second Act. #writing #NaNoWriMo

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