#NaNoWriMo Day 21: The Dark Night Of The Soul

Day 21
Word count:41,008 words
Word count goal: 42,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Resurrection / Dark Night Of The Soul
Save The Cat: Darkest Moment


#vss very short story

Death was tired of pursuing Brent who had wriggled out of his grasp for over a year now. He decided to take a day off and relax. Meditation was supposed to be good for relaxation, so he lit a candle, sat comfortably, took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He had forgotten that was how he traveled to other areas of the universe. Brent would live a long, long life.

Plotting with Tarot

darkest point

MC’s Darkest Moment: The fool- embracing folly

What has led to this moment: Ten of Swords upside-down- indicates a painful ending which must occur for there to be growth and regeneration

How the MC will be transformed: Four of Wands upside-down- a period of transition where there is little stability and security

My interpretation: In my MC’s darkest moment, he realizes he’s been a fool. He has been ignoring family secrets and betrayals, but he can’t do it anymore. He has been confronted with his own ignorance and if he wants to keep his home and his family he will have to go through a period of transition.

Ask Your Character

  • Do you have a box for keepsakes? If not where do you put small things that have sentimental value?
  • Where do you keep it?
  • Do you still put things in it, or did you stop at some point? When and why?

Word Of The Day

dross: n. 1. The waste slag or scum that forms on the surface of molten metal 2. waste or foreign matter: impurity 3. something base, trivial, or inferior

8 Action Verbs:

approved              combined          defined             expedited

interpreted          obtained             required           synthesized

Poem prompt

Take 5 minutes to write a series of paired sentences starting with “I am . . .” and “I am not. . . .” Choose the most interest, or the ones that seem to group together and write a poem.

Pieces of Me

I am content, not sated
whole, not apart
I am introverted, not shy
lone, not alone
I am feeling, not hysterical
loving, not naive
I am frugal, not cheap
resourceful, not wasteful
I am curious, not passive
active, not avoidant
I am bold, not brazen
brilliant, not shameless

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Use your thesaurus to collect all the best words for “dark.” Come up with as many metaphors and similes as you can for dark. Then write as many sentences as you can to describe your MC’s darkest moment, never using the words dark, darkness, or darkest.

Today’s Simple Task

Dark night of the soul: Does someone die today?

Warm-up Exercise

Throw the book at ’em: This is the lowest part of the story for your Main Character. Make it as bad as you can, then make it worse. Make a list of 20 things that would be worse than you have planned. How many of them can you throw at him or her at once?

Set your timer for 15 minutes. Start with something your MC does every day, but today everything s/he makes things worse. How bad can one day get?

Recommended Word Crawl

Dinosaur Apocalypse Word Crawl

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaNoWriMo Day 20: Approaching Climax


Day 20
Word count: 39,387 words
Word count goal: 40,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Resurrection
Save The Cat: Darkest Moment

#vss very short story

Once Harry shed his husk, he thought he could go home again. He was sure his family would get used to his new form over time, but when he arrived, there was a bigger problem. There was no home to go back to.

Plotting with Tarot

The Ressurection Card

The Resurrection Card: The Seven of Wands upside-down- when you achieve a position of leadership, there will always be others who crop up to challenge you.  You will have to face the jealousy of those who want what you have.  You will encounter situations when it will “appear” that everyone is against you – be realistic about the odds you face.

What MC feels he has failed at doing: Six of Swords upside-down- your emotions are stirred up and your physical or spiritual journey becomes stormy.  Trying to “attack” a long standing problem – especially one that has been accepted by others – only agitates the situation.  Unsatisfying or oppressive situations can go quietly along for years until someone decides to do something about it.  Trying to remove the swords from the boat will sink it – they are plugging up the holes.  When “swords” symbolize unhappy memories where “silence” has become the defense, communication will be painful – but it will also begin the healing process.

How he will be transformed by this event: Seven of Cups upside-down- Allow yourself to experience your emotions – KNOW what you really want.  Look at your deepest desires and recognize which goal has enough meaning and power to sustain you – then focus all your energy on it.  Focusing on all of your desires and allowing them to break your attention will eventually tear you apart.  Experience your determination to create something from your dreams and do something with them. An unexpected event will take place now – it will be beneficial and improve your attitude, for it will be a definite change for the better.  Believe and always trust that you are on the right track – continue to pursue your goal without wasting time, for success is yours in time.  Watch for any glimmer of success and follow it through – never give up your ideas – even when it is hard to carry them through.  Ignore any opposition – offer your insecurity up in prayer and it will be replaced with spiritual strength.  Persist in studying and you will reap great rewards. – from Crystal Clear Reflections

My interpretation: I feel like all of the cards being upside-down shows that my MC’s life has been turned upside-down. Because of the light coming from the window, I had to take the picture from the other side of the table, so the cards were right side up (I rotated it in Paint), so I may need to think about the cards upright as well.

My character is coming to a point when he feels the whole world is against him. This stirs up emotions and unhappy memories that have created silences in his relationships even put wedges between himself and the people closest to him. He learns to re-assess his priorities and instead of always fretting over his long to-do list, to put his passion into one thing at a time. The most important goal, what matters the most.

Ask Your Character

  • What future inventions do you hope for?
  • What would you not do for a billion dollars? Why?
  • What gifts would you enjoy receiving?

Word Of The Day

panoply: n. 1. a splendid or impressive array; 2. ceremonial attire; 3. a full suit of armor; a complete defense or covering

8 Action Verbs:

appraised          collected          defended              expanded

instituted           observed         reproduced          supported

Poem prompt

Today’s prompt is inspired by Day 5 of the PAD Chapbook Challenge:

For today’s prompt, write a self-destruct poem. I come up with these prompts before the month starts, and I admit I’m not sure what my original thought was with this. But now, all I can think about are those self-destruct messages from Inspector Gadget and Mission Impossible. Of course, many things and people can self-destruct, including athletes, politicians, and about everyone else on the planet–in large and small ways. I hope this prompt does not self-destruct in 5 seconds.

One way to build suspense and conflict in your story is to add a ticking clock. This poem prompt made me think of writing a poem ticking down to an event.

Five Miles in Five Minutes

Five miles from his home
They ordered lattes topped with foam
in a swirl, From a girl in a bikini
Whose breasts plopped out of
The drive-thru window
When collecting her tip

Four miles from his home
He took a sip and burned his lips
And tongue, The searing pain
Made him loose his grip
He jerked back as the cup fell
His flailing caused the driver to swerve

Three miles from his home
The swerving driver hit a cat
In the road, Which made him sad
He had loved his flabby tabby
And recently had to put him down
Someone’s beloved pet lay dead
He stared at the road
With burning read eyes

Two miles from his home
The road turned to gravel
then dirt, jostling the passengers
The trees grew taller and closed-in
The car became quiet and pensive
The passenger turned on the radio
The driver turned it off

One mile from his home
Guns began to click
Safeties turned to off
Bullets in the chambers
Everyone knows the plan?
Grunts the only answer

At his home
An old man tends his garden
In neat rows, He does not recognize
The car coming up his drive
Approaching quickly raising dust
He hurries inside
To grab his shotgun
To defend his home

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Exploring the quality of words:

  • formal/informal
  • general/specific
  • abstract/concrete

Write sentences using these different qualities of words. Write a formal sentence or two. Then make the same sentences changing the formal words to their informal counterparts. Write a couple of very general statements, as general as you can make them, then write the same statements using most specific words you can find. Do the same exercise with abstract to concrete.

Today’s Simple Task

Increase the stakes: Show your Main Character’s growing strength.
Training Day: make self better, find new ally

Warm-up Exercise

from Daily Warm-Ups in Naming the World: And Other Exercises for the Creative Writer edited by Bret Anthony Johnston.

Today you get to make a choice. Spend 5 minutes describing (choose one, or more):

  • A strange experience in a car.
  • A strange experience in a restaurant.
  • An unmerited award.
  • A good deed that backfires.

Recommended Word Crawl

The Egyptian Tomb Crawl

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaNoWriMo Day 19: Approach To The Moment Of Truth and Sunday Summary


Day 19
Word count: 39,094 words
Word count goal: 38,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: The Road Back
Save The Cat: All is Lost


#vss very short story

Eagle soared over the mountain. She glided over the back roads and tiny ghost towns. She landed on a picnic table outside an Ivar’s Seafood Bar and screamed until tourists abandoned their fish.

Plotting with Tarot

The Road Back

The Road Back card: The Tower- the change and awakening required to dismantle the artificial; healing, renovation and restoration

What motivates your MC to return: Queen of Wands upside-down- there may soon be a need for you to help out others who are having a problem of some kind. It could also be that an older woman would like to help you with a situation that you are facing, but for some reason she is unable to do so. Her moral support will be helpful.

How the Shadow will attack your MC (his vulnerability): Five of Pentacles upside-down- a welcome sign that change is coming for the better; If you are still in dire circumstances, somebody may come to your help just when you are about to give up all hope of rescue.  You may have to set aside pride in order to accept what is being offered.

My interpretation: This is an interesting reading. My MC has had an awakening. He sees the reality of his situation. He is facing the great truth of his life. He wants to go home to his ordinary life, but it doesn’t exist to go back to. His wife cannot help him, but she does offer moral support. Here’s the most interesting part. Through his trials he has finally learned to ask for help, and this growth becomes a vulnerability because the Shadow will come as someone offering help when he is about to give up all hope. This gives me a lot to think about.

Ask Your Character

  • What would you go back and change or do if you had a time machine?
  • If you could get away with any crime, what would it be?
  • How would you lure someone into a trap?

Word Of The Day

augur: v. to give promise of something to come later

8 Action Verbs:

appointed          collaborated          decided          exhibited

Inspected          Negotiated          represented           supervised

Poem prompt

I like the double prompt from Day 7 of the PAD Chapbook Challenge for today:

  1. Write a days of the week poem. Pick one day or work through them all. Have the poem about the days or just name drop a day (or days) of the week in the poem.

  2. Write a days of the weak poem. See what I did there with the spelling of “week” to “weak?” The poem could be about weakness in another, yourself, or objects that are weak.


A day of rest
To sit as guest
In the Lord’s house
fires of sin to douse
in stiff uncomfortable clothes
shiny-shoed stuffed cramped toes
The longest hour and a half
Warning of the golden calf
When the boring sermon ends
Prayers and tithes to make amends
An early dinner the reward
For all the goodness points he scored

I Don’t Like To Feel Weak

Whenever I am feeling weak
when my voice is but a squeak
my future options all look bleak
all options stink with death-rots reek
aches and creeks of the aged antique
out on display like a sideshow freak
when I’d rather hide with the timid and meek
Emotions like serpents wriggle and sneak
and tears stain my cheek in a black mascara streak

That’s when I search out a critique
Research ways to improve technique
And pinpoint my voice that makes me unique
Every possibility of a secret peek
Into the betterment I seek
Creating strength through my own mystique
To plug every hole through might to leak
Pecked and pecked by doubts stiff beak

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Connotations: I love this quote from Barbara Baig in Spellbinding Sentences: A Writer’s Guide to Achieving Excellence and Captivating Readers

If you imagine that putting a word into the mind of your reader is like casting a stone in a pond, then the denotation is the splash the stone makes as it hits the water, while the connotations of the word are like the ripples that follow the splash.

We did the first connotations exercise on Day 6, but exploiting the connotations of words to create ripples of meaning in the mind takes practice and skill, so lets do another one. Read your favorite author paying attention to words chosen for positive and negative connotations. Collect these words in a notebook and practice using them in your own writing.

Today’s Simple Task

MC micro-focused on today: What can s/he do in this moment? It’s time for a new and better plan.

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 5 minutes. Brainstorm all of your MC’s traits. Sort them into strengths and weaknesses.

Choose the trait you see as the main weakness. Set your timer for 5 minutes again and Cluster or Mind Map around that word.

Set your timer for another 5 minutes. Write a scene where this weakness becomes a strength.

Recommended Word Crawl

Today is a good day to read as well as write, so let’s try the Reading Crawl

Sunday Summary

How is your novel coming along? This last week we passed the midpoint and now we are marching toward our hero’s darkest point and the climax of our story. This week, for those of us who will be celebrating Thanksgiving, could bring some extra challenges to finding writing time. If family obligations feel overwhelming, try to spread out the extra words throughout the week. An extra 500 words today could make all the difference come Thursday.

Happy Reading and Writing!


#NaNoWriMo Day 18: Frustration and Breaking Through Negative Thinking


Day 18
Word count: 34,783 words
Word count goal: 36,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Reaction to Reward
Save The Cat: All Is Lost (old way of thinking dies/ false defeat)

#vss very short story

Quimby munched on his free fry. Every day, he walked to the Monster Burger, hoping he would get there first. They were always polite and nice and handed him a french fry, but they were always fresh out of monsters.

Plotting with Tarot

Today I went off script. I wanted to continue exploring the death of my character’s old way of thinking.

Reaction to Reward

Reaction to Reward: Eight of Pentacles- success through work

Does he feel he deserves the reward and where does that feeling come from: Six of Swords upside-down- Paralyzed by fear. You are trying to distance yourself from your problems and make a fresh start but you do not seem to be making any progress.

What does his Reaction to Reward spur him to do: Five of Swords- he is paralyzed by fear, but will break through negative thinking.

My interpretation: This reading made me laugh out loud. I can see a pretty clear pattern and theme. My MC gets rewarded and his reaction? Now he is free to get back to work! The next card makes me think that he is not sure if he deserves the reward because he has so much on his to-do list that he doesn’t believe he has really accomplished enough, or will ever accomplish enough. Receiving this reward, spurs him to break through his patterns of negative thinking.

Ask Your Character

inspired by The Me Journal: A Questionnaire Keepsake by Shane Windham

  • What things do you wish did not exist?
  • How do you break the ice with strangers?
  • What would you buy with a million dollars?

Word Of The Day

insouciance: n. lack of care or concern: indifference

8 Action Verbs:

applied               coded               debated               executed

informed            named             reported             summarized

Poem prompt

What frustrates you? Do a mind map about frustration. Does your mind map remind you of any of your characters? Use your mind map to guide a poem about frustration from either your POV or a character’s POV.

mind map frustration

Pay Attention

bang, hit, throw
they laugh
why are they laughing?
this is all I know
it worked before

scream, hurt, destroy
they laugh and say
“isn’t that cute?”
“he’s such a boy”
my lungs are sore

cheeks soaked in tears
and red with rage
they now ignore
turning to their peers
I sit in my filth

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Look at a chunk of dialogue from yesterday. Try to pare down 20%. Is it tighter? Does it still sound realistic? More realistic?

Today’s Simple Task

MC’s frustration: Another character breaks his or her trust. How will your main character overcome his or her mounting frustration?

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 10 minutes. You have taken a picture of your Main Character. You hand it to him or her. Have your MC respond to the picture in their own words. Do they feel it is a good likeness? How do they feel about how they look?

Recommended Word Crawl

Howl’s Moving Castle Word Crawl

I admit, I wanted an excuse to watch Howl’s Moving Castle again.

Writer’s Life

Though today’s theme is about your character’s frustration and need to break through negative thinking, you may also want to check in with yourself. How are you feeling? I noticed some negative thinking getting through yesterday. Those stupid meanies in my head that tell me the writing isn’t good enough and I’m not good enough.

Those meanies have to go! They are no good for me or anyone. So how will I combat them? By doing some things that make me feel good. I did the dishes while I waited on the tea kettle and after I finish this, I’m going to get some good exercise; really work those negative thoughts out of my body and mind. Then I’ll wash them away with a relaxing shower.

I hope you can find a fun way to get rid of your frustrations and negative thinking today. And don’t forget to reward yourself for accomplishing all your small goals along the way.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaNoWriMo Day 17: A Respite for Hero and Reader


Day 17
Word count: 33,508 words
Word count goal: 34,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Reward: Seizing The Sword
Save The Cat: All Is Lost (old way of thinking dies/ false defeat)

#vss very short story

After Ben climbed the mountain and basked in the glory of The Nipple Eye, he was positive he had received the power of flight. He ended up with very scraped knees and a bruised ego.

Plotting with Tarot

The hero’s reaction to his reward shows what he still has to learn.


Reward card: The Emperor- power and leadership, things are stable, solid and secure for himself and others

How your MC gets the reward: The World upside-down- patience and perseverance, ask for help

What the reward is: Three of Cups- An abundance of feeling toward three important people, one even more than the other two. -interpreted from The Tarot Handbook: Practical Applications of Ancient Visual Symbols by Angeles Arrien

My interpretation: This reading brought new insight. The reward card is correct that security for himself and others is the reward my character craves, but I may need to give some thought as to what kind of power and leadership he may see as a reward. The idea of asking for help has come up before in these readings and I’m not yet sure how he will use his allies to achieve his reward. The third card shows his reward as a rekindling of emotion toward his family which has been my plan for his character arc, but this seems early for this part of my story. I wonder if the reward of power and leadership is in conflict with the later reward of an abundance of feeling. I look forward to seeing how this plays out.

Ask Your Character

  • Have you ever received an award?
  • Do you feel you deserved it?
  • Have you ever been awarded for something you didn’t do? How did it make you feel? How did you respond?

Word Of The Day

palimpsest: noun- a parchment or the like from which writing has been partially or completely erased to make room for another text.

8 Action Verbs:

appeared              closed                dealt                 excelled

influenced          motivated          repaired          studied

Poem prompt

Today’s prompt is from the November PAD challenge Day 3:

For today’s prompt, write a triangle poem. As a shape, the triangle is interesting with its three sides and three corners (that add up to 180 degrees). As an instrument, the triangle is every bit as cool as a cowbell or tambourine. But there are also love triangles, triangulated coordinates, and other triangle stuff. It’s time to triangulate poetry.

I like this prompt because the triangle is an important symbol for some of my antagonists.

A polygon
of three edges
and three vertices
The Delta brings change
through mountain or range
perfection, unity and importance
union of Heaven and Earth and Man
the bond of the brotherhood’s secret reach
into which spirits are compelled to materialize
the stongest unit held and protected by salamanders
pointing earthward, it represents the water of alchemists
toward the sky, the rising energy of fire holds the eye of God

Awesome Sentence Challenge

At play in the dictionary: Take some time to peruse your dictionary. Collect a page of new words, words that perhaps have a surprising definition you haven’t encountered before, or feel good on your tongue. Write a sentence with each new word.

Today’s Simple Task

Answer a story question in a surprising way.

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer to 15 minutes. Write as your own personal nemesis. Explore their feelings and motives as if they are your own.

Recommended Word Crawl

Adventure Through the Genres Word Crawl

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaNoWriMo Day 16: An Ordeal for Secondary Characters


Day 16
Word count: 31,256 words
Word count goal: 32,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Ordeal
Save The Cat: Bad Guys Close In

#vss very short story

A master of circular logic, Ben was sure he could cure a broken heart. It included a revenge fantasy and never falling in love again, but Alice was so nice; she never got mad at his attempts to hurt her and over time, she only got more beautiful. Soon, he knew, she would break his heart.

Plotting with Tarot

Today’s scene is part of a sub-plot. I decided to do a reading of The Ordeal between two secondary characters. As you can see, it’s going to be one hell of a scene. 🙂

Anderssons Ordeal

The Ordeal: The Devil- bondage, the key to your freedom is in your own hands

The lowest point for secondary character: Seven Swords- futility, hopelessness

The thing your secondary character will lose or thinks he loses during the ordeal: Magician upside-down-  a lack of confidence or perhaps too much, under-skilled or inadequate in this situation, lacking the right tools and a workable plan to make it a success.

My interpretation: This reading couldn’t be more literal. My scene for today includes a man being tied up and questioned, most likely tortured. Thus, at his lowest point he will give in to the futility and hopelessness of his situation. He got himself into this mess by boasting and laying false claim, so his lesson learned is to stop taking credit for things that have nothing to do with him. He finally sees consequences for his actions.

Ask Your Character

from Writing for Self Discovery: A Personal Approach to Creative Writing by Myra Schneider and John Killick

  • Do you have particular expectations from relationships?
  • Do you feel the need for intimacy with a lot of people or only a few?
  • Do you enjoy spending periods of time on your own?

Word Of The Day

importune: v. to plead or beg for persistently

8 Action Verbs:

anticipated          cleared          counseled           examined

increased            monitored          rendered            structured

Poem prompt

The PAD (poem-a-day) Chapbook Challenge from Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides on Writer’s Digest. As the Chapbook manuscript requested for the challenge only includes 10-20 poems, it’s not too late to join in.

I like the prompt from yesterday:  take the phrase “Stranger (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles include: “Stranger Danger,” “Stranger Than Fiction,” or “Stranger Things.”

Stranger Inside

Such negative thoughts in my head
Make me not want to get out of bed.
Years of “No”s and “You can’t”s created a stranger inside.

A battle of wills for free will.
The hateful words spin like a drill,
A display of the strength of the stranger inside.

I don’t recognize that voice.
I would not have made that choice.
Sometimes I lose to the stranger inside.

I didn’t open that door.
Why is the stereo in the middle of the floor?
Wouldn’t I hear a stranger inside?

Why come at me with such rage?
The child didn’t unlock my cage.
You should have listened to the stranger inside.

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Inspired by Crafting Dynamic Dialogue: The Complete Guide to Speaking, Conversing, Arguing, and Thinking in Fiction (Creative Writing Essentials) by The editors of writer’s digest.

Create a dialogue exchange in which information is being revealed. Try adding an interruption to the scene so the most important information is delayed, perhaps even to another scene.

Today’s Simple Task

Sudden attack by antagonist!

Warm-up Exercise

Have your MC write his or her obituary. Then let him or her plan the funeral and memorial service.

Recommended Word Crawl

Secret Agent Word Crawl

Extra Challenge

This writing prompt came in the PNWA Newsletter. I’m going to try it, so I thought I would share.

 Setting through your character’s perspective
Consider the room you’re sitting in right now. Take 5 minutes to describe that room from the point of view of someone who is blissfully happy. Now, take another 5 minutes and describe the room from the point of view of someone who is frustrated and angry. Notice how the descriptions are different?
Now, think of a setting in your book. How does your character feel while they’re there? Nervous? Relaxed? In a hurry? Take 10 minutes to describe that setting from the perspective of your character, taking into account their emotional state.

And Don’t Forget To Readlunatics book cover

I finished Lunatics by Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel. It was a zany adventure and a fun read. Two anti-heroes are thrown into one strange situation after another, leading to a series of international incidents and ending at the republican national convention as guests of Donald Trump, at the time, not a nominee. The book came out in 2012, so prescient? Possibly.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaNoWriMo Day 15: The Protagonist’s Ordeal and Featured Author Bree Moore!

Day 15
Word count: 30,651 words
Word count goal: 30,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Ordeal
Save The Cat: Bad Guys Close In

Today we have a special treat! When I started this NaNoWriMo daily inspiration project, I wanted to feature a NaNoWriMo author to inspire with personal NaNoWriMo stories. I finally got a taker!! Meet Bree Moore, today’s featured author:


Bree Moore has been writing fantasy since the fourth grade. She lives in Ogden, is wife to an amazing husband, and mother of four children. She writes fantasy navels between doling out cheerios and folding laundry.

Woven is Bree’s first published novel, the start woven coverof what she intends to be an epic writing career.

In real-life, Bree works as a birth doula and midwife’s assistant, attending women in pregnancy and labor, which is huge inspiration for her writing.

1. Why did you decide to do NaNoWriMo this year? I decided to do Nano because I REALLY wanted to get this particular book finished as fast as possible. What better way to do that than to write most of it in a month?

2. What inspired this year’s novel? This year’s novel is a sequel to my first published book Woven. Its working title is “Bound”, and is due to be published next spring. Plot-wise, it is a re-telling of the classic Arthurian love story, Tristan and Isolde.

3. What is your favorite thing about NaNoWriMo? What is your least favorite and how would you solve the problem (if applicable)? My favorite thing is feeling the creativity flow through me, and having an excuse to write constantly; it’s one of the things I most love to do in this world! As for my least favorite thing, it would probably be how restricted my writing time is. I have four kids, and I often feel restricted in when I can write, which is especially hard during NaNo when the ideas are flowing so fast! If I could, I would hire a babysitter a few times a week to get more writing time. Right now that’s not feasible, so I do the best I can and feel very lucky to have an awesome husband who steps up to give me time to write.

4. What advice do you have for other writers attempting NaNoWriMo or what is the most important thing you’ve learned from participating? Get it down, and don’t be afraid to let it be dirty! The biggest mistake I see is when new writers are working on an early draft and they are CONSTANTLY going back to FIX things – rewriting entire sections of the first part of the book as they go. Instead of fixing every little plot hole in the first draft, especially during Nanowrimo, go back, make a note, and KEEP WRITING. DON’T STOP! The book will still be there when you are finished, and if you make the note and keep writing as if you already changed it, you’ll make your goal in no time! The other bit is this: don’t burn yourself out writing TOO fast. If you haven’t been writing every day, Nanowrimo can be overwhelming. It’s like a muscle – stick to that minimum word-count for the first few days, maybe get a little bit ahead, but if you do too much too fast you might burn out and your word-count may never recover. Just take it easy – the tortoise wins the race, remember?

You can find more Bree Moore on the internet at:


Feeling super-inspired? Go write those words!

Need a little more inspiration? Here are today’s prompts:

#vss very short story

Ted followed the pheromone trail. He enjoyed pushing dirt uphill all day; it inhibited his urge to question his existence. Ah, there it was the sweet scent, of purpose.

Plotting with Tarot

The Ordeal

The Ordeal Card: Page of Swords- news that is often about legal matters, contracts, conflict, problems or gossip; you need to be on your guard at present and stay mentally alert. You may have to keep your eye on everyone and everything to ensure you miss nothing.

The lowest point for MC: Five of Swords – Fear of defeat, opening old woulds, fear that history will repeat itself, that he will be hurt again.

The thing your MC will lose or thinks he loses during the ordeal: Wheel of Fortune upside-down- apparent bad luck, delays and setbacks, a fall from grace or power, plans not working out.You may find yourself having to repeat something you did a while back or it may be that something you did in the past has now come back to haunt you.

My interpretation: The Ordeal Card is right on the mark. My protagonist just found out that his son has been forging his name on legal documents that could cost him his life savings and more. He may relate this to his brother’s financial losses and lack of moral compass, opening old wounds. He thinks he has lost everything, everything he has worked so diligently for and he blames himself. He feels that he must have done wrong by his son for him to betray him so totally. My protagonist is definitely approaching his dark night of the soul.

Ask Your Character

  • Do you have any last wishes?
  • What have you learned from life? The most important things?
  • Has an illness or tragic event changed you?

Word Of The Day

opprobrium: n.  1. something that brings disgrace or reproach; 2. public disgrace from conduct considered outrageous or shameful.

8 Action Verbs:

answered               classified          corresponded          evaluated

incorporated         modified           reduced                    stimulated

Poem prompt

Since today’s theme is Ordeal, I liked a poetry prompt from Presser Poets’ Writing Prompt Monday from back in July: The Monster Under The Bed.


I look into your eyes with fear
Fear that you will lie
Lie to cover your own fear
Fear that you will tell the truth
Truth that will destroy our hopes

Hopes I built through sweat and toil
Toil and abuse of the daily grind
Grind, grind, erode my creations
Creations like you, your trust and your home
Home that your selfish greed did forsake

Forsake your mother, her love knows no end
End of the road, I can’t forgive
Forgive these crimes, I raised you better
Better life is not wealth
Wealth was trust and respect


Awesome Sentence Challenge

From The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers (6th Edition) by Chris M. Anson.

Avoid unnecessary Nominalizations: When you create a noun from some other kind of word. Example: the verb complete becomes the noun completion, or the adjective happy becomes the noun happiness.

As you write, pay special attention to nominalizations that:

  • Draw readers’ attention away from a sentence’s proper focus
  • Lead to vague sentence subjects or objects
  • Cause you to leave important information out of a sentence


Today’s Simple Task

Imagery: The most shocking or devastating thing that could happen to a symbol, icon, or thing.

Warm-up Exercise

Have your protagonist write his or her will or manifesto.

Recommended Word Crawl

Over The Garden Wall Word Crawl

Thank you to Bree Moore for her inspiring words.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaNoWriMo Day 14: The Bad Guys Close In

Day 14
Word count: 28,801 words
Word count goal: 28,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Approaching The Inmost Cave
Save The Cat: Bad Guys Close In

#vss very short story

Carl couldn’t sit in this claustrophobic cave another second. Knowing they were out there, waiting, was torture enough. He grabbed his six-shooter and ran out with a roar. He was greeted by birdsong and the rustle of the wind through the trees.

Plotting with Tarot

Today’s main scene in my story includes two secondary characters. They are both, in a way, the anti-heroes of their own stories and they have a lot of trouble communicating.  For today’s reading, I thought I would do Approaching the Inmost Cave Readings for each of them and then compare and contrast. We’ll call the top row T and the bottom row D.

secondary characters

Today I got my card interpretations from Truly Teach Me Tarot.

T Approaching Inmost Cave: The Empress upside-down-  insecure and tense, experiencing difficulty in some area of life, finding it hard to get anything off the ground or complete any projects. In fact very little may be working out.

T Leap of faith your character must take: Knight of Pentacles upside-down- loses values and morals resulting in apathy, stagnation and lack of motivation

T Old angst that character revisits: Ten of Pentacles-  success, prosperity and abundance;  you have done or will do very well for yourself, not by chance, but by working very hard to achieve it

D Approaching Inmost Cave: Page of Pentacles-a solid grounded start to whatever projects you are about to embark on. You are organized, prepared, and ready and waiting to get started. You are now ready to invest in your future. If you have been worried about having enough money, you have enough to get started with.

D Leap of faith your character must take: Page of Swords-asks you to be honest and fair in your dealings with others. Do the right thing by everyone and be the good guy in this situation.

D Old angst that character revisits: High Priestess upside-down- you are not listening to your inner-self or have problems accessing your intuition. You do not trust yourself to make the right decision, or have any faith or belief in yourself. You are letting others run your life and doing what they think is right for you. Deep down you know what you want but you ignore the inner calling.

My interpretation: These two characters couldn’t be approaching the inmost cave from more opposite positions. It makes sense that there will be many misunderstandings. They have very different motives to enter into this risky situation. One thing that really stood out to me in this reading is D’s Leap of faith. The scene has him doing something that most would consider very bad behavior, but he believes he’s being honest and fair. He thinks he’s the good guy, here. I love that aspect and will try to draw that out as I write today.

Ask Your Character

  • Do you have any bad habits?
  • Do you think you have any bad habits that annoy others?
  • Could any of your bad habits be considered strengths against your adversaries? How?

Word Of The Day

spendthrift: noun- a person who spends possessions or money extravagantly or wastefully; prodigal. adjective- wastefully extravagant; prodigal.

8 Action Verbs:

annotated          clarified          correlated          estimated

improved          moderated          recorded          started

Poem prompt

Thanks to a post on Sascha Darlington’s Microcosm Explored called All the Things We’ll Never Know #amwriting (finally) #novembernotes, I have been made aware of another November poetry challenge called #NovemberNotes. This challenge has a song to listen to each day as a poem inspiration. Here’s their list:


For today’s poetry prompt choose one or more of the songs listed for days 1-14 to inspire you to write about your MC’s feelings as The Bad Guys Close In.

Wow. I’m glad I took a look at Wise Enough by Lamb. The official video over on YouTube is absolutely beautiful and it fits nicely with today’s theme.

A Drop Of Water

A drop of water opens the door
Freedom from tortured thirst
Provides precious time to think of more
Crossing the sea of suits
To a golden hopeful shore

No longer just killing time
Escaping the human traps for humans
Diving into the waves sublime
Air bubbles fight to the surface
The salt licks off years of grime
A drop of water opened the door

Awesome Sentence Challenge

As you develop your antagonist and your secondary characters, you want to show parallels between them and your protagonist. Parallelism is also important in your sentences.

If two or more ideas are parallel, they are easier to grasp when expressed in parallel grammatical form. -from A Writer’s Reference by Diana Hacker and Robert A. Schwegler

a. Balance parallel ideas in a series: Hooked on thriller novels, I learned that there is nothing more important than being rich, typing code, and to have having more than one gun.

b. Balance parallel ideas presented as pairs- these ideas are usual connected with a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or); a pair of correlative conjunctions (either . . . or, not only . . . but also); with a word introducing a comparison (than, as): It is easier to speak in abstractions than grounding to ground one’s thoughts in reality.

c. Repeat function words to clarify parallels- Function words such as prepositions (by, to) and subordinating conjunctions (that, because) signal the grammatical nature of the word groups that follow: In an attempt to stop her thumb-sucking habit, her parents tried painting a noxious substance on her thumb to change the taste or making her wear gloves changing to change the texture.

While you write today, look out for places to use parallelism for clarity in your sentences.

Today’s Simple Task

Your MC feels self-doubt and abandons his/her main objective for a lesser goal. S/he explores some regrets.

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 15 minutes. What will your hero do to resist change? What will your hero do to fight the biggest battle he must overcome – himself? – from SavetheCat.com

Recommended Word Crawl

Alice in Wonderland Word Crawl

Need a break from all this writing, but still want to be working on your hero’s journey. You could watch Alice In Wonderland and compare her Hero’s Journey to your Hero’s Journey or plot out the Save the Cat Story Beats and compare them to yours. Have fun with it!

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaNoWriMo Day 13: Approaching the Inmost Cave

Day 13
Word count: 26,256 words
Word count goal: 26,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Approaching The Inmost Cave
Save The Cat: Midpoint

#vss very short story

After a beautiful and inviting trail through the woods led Brenda to a little cave, she decided to give caves another chance. Using the light from her cell phone she admired the stalagmites and stalactites. A musky smell and humphing noise drew her to the innermost recesses where she discovered a lonely Bigfoot. They lived happily in their quaint forest cave.

Plotting with Tarot

Approaching the cave

Approach To The Inmost Cave (The emotion your MC feels as he has to traverse this last corridor to the cave): Ace of Pentacles- seed of your future fulfillment

Leap of faith your MC must take: Queen of Pentacles- enormous good sense and problem solving energy. Be confident that if you express your truth, you will not have to worry about the consequences. You will remain safe and sound – from tarot.com

Old angst that MC revisits: Four of Wands- the teamwork card

My interpretation: As my protagonist approaches the inmost cave, he still feels hopeful. He is planting the seeds of future fulfillment and believes he is on the way to reaping the benefits of a life of hard work. The leap of faith he is taking is leaving his responsibilities behind to pursue vital answers and using his good sense and the problem solving energy of an engineer, he is confident he won’t need to worry about the consequences of jogging away from his previous plan. He encounters some issues that need teamwork, but he doesn’t want to get family and friends involved. His entire mission is to protect the ones he loves. He will need to revisit these feelings when he needs some help.

Ask Your Character

  • What are your special talents?
  • How do you use these talents?
  • Are they a gift or a curse?

Word Of The Day

sonorous: adj. loud, deep or resonant as a sound.

8 Action Verbs:

analyzed          chose          corrected          established

implemented          modeled          received          spoke

Poem prompt

Theme: Approaching the Inmost Cave

Have your character write a poem about approaching a cave. It may be their feelings about physical caves or approaching a dark place in their soul or psyche.

The Beast Inside

I cannot believe I threatened a man
Where did that darkness come from
I have lived with God the best I can
I run, my legs jelly and mind numb

I have lived a long life of peace
Defending my lines through fairness
What trigger did my fire release
The whip one too many for tameness

A beast in a cave deep within
Roused from its sleep for my pride
The power behind my fist to his chin
Did I mean that I wished he had died?

Now, what of me in its freedom?
Perpetual edge of fight or flight
Am I to bow to an enraged demon?
Or embrace it and taste every bite!

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Identifying Independent and Dependent Clauses

Using serial descriptive clauses, try to write the longest sentence you ever have.

Today’s Simple Task

Reversal of yesterday. Show that whatever your MC discovered yesterday, the opposite is actually true.

Warm-up Exercise

Try this prompt from Is Life Like This?: A Guide to Writing Your First Novel in Six Months by John Dufresne.

Answering Machine: Your character is troubled as usual. What is today’s specific problem? Write about it. Now, he has a voice mail message and is surprised to learn that the message solves his problem, alleviates his trouble. Play (write) the message.

Recommended Word Crawl

I got very excited when I saw there was an Invader Zim Word Crawl. I decided to use it today, Monday, to start the week off with a crawl I really look forward to doing.

I love the Invader Zim cartoon. If you enjoy crazy misfit aliens trying to take over the world, I highly recommend Invader Zim: Complete Invasion Collectors Box Set (6DVD). 

I wish everyone a fun and productive week. I hope you’ll check back often for inspiration to keep going. I would love to hear from you in the comments. How is your novel writing going? If you’re not doing NaNoWriMo, what are you working on? How is your project going?

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaNoWriMo Day 12: Character Comparisons and Sunday Summary 2

Day 12
Word count: 23,791 words
Word count goal: 24,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Test/Allies & Enemies
Save The Cat: Fun & Games

#vss very short story

Harold couldn’t make the pieces fit. All he could do was listen to his heart. His heart kept singing, “Go beat the crap out of that idiot.” It wasn’t a very good song.

Plotting with Tarot

My next scene is a confrontation from the antagonist’s point of view, so I decided to do a Test, Allies and Enemies reading for the antagonist.

antagonist test, allies, and enemies

Test: Page of Cups – the muse

What antagonist learns from the test: Knight of Cups upside-down – a fight for the heart or soul, once won quickly forgotten; reversed

Allies: Ten of Cups – a supportive community or group of friends

Who antagonist’s main ally is: Wheel of Fortune – luck- both good and bad

Enemies: Eight of Pentacles – diligence and craft, hard work

His enemies’ motivations: Ace of Swords – an intellectual breakthrough, the moment of truth.

My interpretation: This was a fun reading. It holds insights and predictability. My antagonist and his allies are all about the Cups. I think, in today’s scene, this represents their music. Perhaps my antagonist’s test is the muse because he is having trouble finding inspiration ever since the horrible event that led him to meeting my protagonist. Maybe today’s encounter leads him to searching for long-term redemption instead of trying to cover up what he did. I see his allies as his band-mates, but his true ally is luck. Some sort of luck, be it good or bad, will lead him to this better decision. The enemies card obviously represents my protagonist and his motivations for today’s scene have to do with needing answers. His moment of truth is confronting the antagonist.

This reading provided a lot of insights into my antagonists emotions and motivations. It also gave me some ideas for the effects of the encounter. I think this was the most helpful reading, in terms of plotting, I have done so far.

Ask Your Character

  • What traditions have been passed down in your family?
  • Who were your favorite relatives?
  • Do you remember any of the stories they used to tell you?

Word Of The Day

recidivist: n. repeat offender

8 Action Verbs:

allocated          checked          coordinated          enlarged

immunized          mediated           raised          specified

Poem prompt

Compare your protagonist to your antagonist in rhyme.

No More Time For Doubt

What is that old, wrinkled mess doing here?
I start to shake as bleak future draws near.
A life without long, luscious hair is my fear.
How does he look at himself without tears?

His stringy long hair makes him look like a fool.
Up on that stage, he thinks he’s so cool.
I can tell that his band-mates think he’s a tool.
Wasting his time, he should go back to school.

He looks so weak with his skin hanging off
Does he think he can fell me with one sickly cough
I’m here with my boys, a cocktail molotov
Whatever he wants, his words will get scoff.

Look at him preening and looking around
I can’t wait to throw that foul smirk to the ground
I’ll shock him with muscle. I won’t make a sound.
One hit and he’ll leave all that pride in a mound.

You think you know me?
Got me figured out?
Come at me. I’m waiting.
No more time for doubt.

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Look at the last paragraph you wrote yesterday, or a paragraph you wrote this morning. For each sentence in the paragraph, write ten different sentences to say the same thing. You can use different words, but don’t change the meaning. Choose your favorites of the new sentences and combine them to reform the paragraph. Compare and contrast.

Today’s Simple Task

MC compares self to other characters in story – false sense of achieving goal

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 15 minutes. What problems are coming for your protagonist that s/he is not aware of yet?

Recommended Word Crawl

Fallout 3 Word Crawl – Part 1

If you haven’t played it yet, but love post-apocalyptic adventures, you might want to get yourself Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition as a reward for winning NaNoWriMo.

Sunday Summary

So how did your week go? Did you use some of the prompts? Which ones are your favorites? I found a combination of the tarot reading, action verbs, poetry prompt and either the simple task or the warm-up, got me focused on aspects of the day’s scenes.

This week, I had a couple days that writing did not come easy. It was tough for me to see that my sweetie was so excited about his story that he finished a novella, and my writing buddy on twitter’s words are flowing like a river to the ocean when I was not having the same experience. My words are a steady trickle making me push and prod the stream along like kicking at puddles. However, everyone is different, and I’m right on track to reach my goals.

I may not have reached my daily writing goals every day, but I have written every day and that is what NaNoWriMo is about; the practice. Some days, some scenes, will be easier than others. Speaking of practice, I hope you’re trying out some of the Awesome Sentence Challenges. Not only do they help you write better sentences, they inspire creativity.

We have an exciting week ahead on our Hero’s Journey. We’re going to hit the half-way point in our own NaNoWriMo adventure and we’ll be ratcheting up the suspense and conflict as our hero approaches The Inmost Cave or the Supreme Ordeal. I know you’ve fallen in love with your characters, but you’re about to get really mean, making their lives harder and harder until they may even be staring death in the face. Like I said, we have an exciting week ahead of us. Buckle your seat-belts.

Happy Reading and Writing!