Summer in full swing…

Summer has arrived here in the Virginia mountains. Last night we went to a festival on the lake, sat on the in-laws’ sailboat and watched the fireworks over the water.

20160611_211613I spent yesterday afternoon sitting in the shade on our patio, reading Story Engineering by Larry Brooks and taking notes on plot structure. I’ve realized I tend to get stuck at what James Scott Bell calls the first doorway—the transition between the first and second acts. Larry Brooks calls it the First Plot Point, when the antagonist arrives in full force. His words on story structure will go a long way to helping me conquer this aspect of the writing process. So if you tend to get stuck, if structure sometimes eludes you, I’d wholeheartedly recommend Brooks’s work. James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure is also helpful, but I’m finding Brooks’s breakdown of structure especially valuable.

I’ve been writing at night, managing 2,500 words a day fairly consistently with this new writing schedule. Ideally I’d wake up at 5 a.m. and write until noon, but I’m a night-owl and nighttime writing seems to suit me. So if that’s when the muse speaks, I’ll keep showing up and listening to what she has to say.

And now, a check-in…

Writing: Wrote 12,713 words, mostly in Goblins and Grimoires. I’m at about the 17,500-word mark; the goal for that story is 28-30K, so I’m getting close. I’d like to finish that story and a third draft of The Faerie Key by the end of this round.

Reading: I’m about 75 percent of the way through Larry Brooks’s Story Engineering, which I’m reading slowly and taking notes on as I go. It’s really, really good. Seriously. Why didn’t I read it years ago? Also reading Once Upon a Curse, a short-story anthology. If you enjoy fairy tale retellings, I recommend it. And continuing to read stories in the Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance 2. Just read a really steamy read called “Zola’s Pride” by Moira Rogers in that collection.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

Is summer in full swing where you live? What is your favorite summertime activity?

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Fantasy & paranormal romance author. Witch. Tarot reader. Possibly a woodland sprite. Debut release TANGLED ROOTS now available. Magic awaits at

14 thoughts on “Summer in full swing…

  1. Summer is always hit or miss where I live. It was cool on Friday, wonderfully warm and sunny yesterday and sunny but cool today. My favorite summer activity – even though I work in the medical field and have seen some nasty skin cancers – is laying out on my deck and letting the sun beat down on me. After all the cold winters we have, I want to soak up the sun’s warmth, just like the mouse in “Frederick” by Leo Lionni (one of my favorite book as a kid, by the way).

    1. I love being out in the sunshine, feeling summer breeze on my skin, but I try to always wear sunscreen if I’m out in direct sunlight for too long.

      I haven’t read that one. I just looked it up and it looks like a cute read!

  2. My favorite summer time activity is going to the beach. It just makes me feel good. I keep hearing about Plot and Structure, so I just bought it. I can’t write at night, I like to sleep. But I agree you have to write when the muse speaks. Have a great summer.

    1. I love the beach. It’s been a few years since I’ve been–last year we bought our townhouse and so most of our time, energy, and resources went into that. Maybe this summer we’ll make it up to New Hampshire to see my brother. They have some beautiful beaches in New England. What’s your favorite beach to visit? I love Wrightsville Beach in Wilmington, N.C. It’s gorgeous!

      Thanks, Caren! Enjoy your summer, too.

  3. I am freezing, down here in Australia where winter is in full swing. Can I rent part of your patio? Or you can email me some of your excess heat… 😉

    You’re going great! It’s lovely to see you powering on.

    Have an awesome week.

    1. Thanks, Cate. Wouldn’t it be great if we could spend winter somewhere where summer is in full swing? I love the area where I live in the summer; it’s gorgeous and there are so many great hiking trails. But winter? Yuck!

      Stay warm and enjoy your week!

  4. Oooh. Once Upon a Curse sounds interesting. I love faerie tales and some people do amazing jobs retelling them.

    Your word count is staggering by my standards!!!

  5. Ooh, that sounds lovely. I’d like to spend more time in boats!
    Hmm, that sounds like a good book. I need anything that helps me raise the stakes and not be so soft on my characters 🙂

    1. Spending the day out on the water can be so relaxing–as long as you get good weather.

      I highly recommend “Story Engineering.” I have a feeling it’s a book I’ll read again and again. 🙂

  6. Well you are doing fantastic Denise! And your average word count is awesome! Sounds like you had a great time on the lake. It’s good to take a break every once in a while. And as much as I love JSB’s Plot and Structure, I’ve heard nothing but good things about Larry Brook’s Story Engineering. I think getting our heads around novel structure can make your head spin. It takes a while for it to all sink in. So you’re doing very well with your writing. Congrats girl! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Karen. If you haven’t read Story Engineering yet, I recommend it. It definitely helps with wrapping your head around story structure. Brooks discusses other parts of writing as well (character, theme, etc.), but his section on structure is really a game-changer. 🙂

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