A Writer's Journey

October 16, 2017

So What Happened to My Stories?

A couple weeks ago, I posted about how my laptop Old Blue died. I wrote that I was waiting to see if the IT guy at work could salvage anything off the hard drive. The answer is in:

No.

So, yes. Everything that hadn’t been on OneDrive is lost. And that ended up being a lot.

As I said, lesson learned. I’ve been looking into an external hard drive to be sure I have a backup though I’ve started saving a lot more to OneDrive. I’m not going to lose all of that hard work again.

How much work, you ask? Well…

(more…)

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October 9, 2017

Help! I’ve Been Bitten by the Holiday Bug!

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
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I know, I know. It’s October. I should be focused on Halloween. Trust me, in many ways, I am. I’m participating in Spooky OQ, where I’m posting Halloween-inspired Outlaw Queen ficlets for the first thirteen days of October (since this month has a Friday the 13th). And I’m writing a Halloween story.

So why have I been bitten by the holiday bug?

Work.

I created my Holidays 2017 folder on my work computer back on September 9th. Mostly this is because I have to do a lot of ordering by Halloween in order to ensure I get everything I need for our holiday celebrations by December. This include awards for years of service for employees as well as gifts for our board members. So choices have to be made…pretty much now.

Right now, I’m waiting for confirmation from our branches about the years of service awards. That should be coming in soon so I can get lists and templates together to send to the place where we get our awards from.

A couple weeks ago, I went through Land’s End to find some ideas for board gifts as well as looked at some baskets like the one we sent them last year. If we go with the baskets, we’ve got time. If we got with Land’s End…the order needs to be in by Halloween, so my senior leadership needs to agree on something soon.

Then my manager called our senior executive assistant in and started to discuss holiday plans with us. We’re planning as if we might be able to throw a holiday party for the staff (depending on the budget) and then also planning our office outing. Right now, we’re leaning toward doing the same thing we did last year—bowling party. We all had a lot of fun, spending about three hours bowling and eating really good food. There was access to the bar but I chose not to have a drink as I didn’t think I enough time would pass before I had to drive home, even if all I had was one drink.

Still, I had a lot of fun without alcohol. And I’m sure we’ll have a lot of fun again this year.

How is the holiday bug then affecting me? Well…

I’ve already started playing my holiday playlist on my iPod. Not all the time, but I’ve listened to a few songs here or there.

And of course, it’s affecting me when it comes to writing—though I think this might be more positive than “I can’t believe I’m focused on Christmas before Halloween.”

(See? I brought this blog back around to my writing at last).

NaNoWriMo is approaching in less than a month. Once again, I’ve decided to use it to write my Christmas fanfic for 2017. So I got an idea for it, which is half the battle. And I started writing my gift for the OQ Advent Calendar. Hopefully that won’t change several times like last year’s did. I really pushed against the deadline then.

So, yes, there has been an upside. I just hope I’m not sick of Christmas songs by December 1st like I was last year. That…wasn’t very good.

October 2, 2017

Hello, Dolly and Paul!

Filed under: off topic — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
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Okay, we’re going to put my computer woes aside for now. I want to talk about the fun I had despite all these problems!

On the Sunday that all my laptop problems started, my family and I went to see Hello, Dolly. It was Broadway week and many shows were offering two-for-one tickets, which we took advantage of. So did a lot of other people as our performance was played to a pretty packed house. I didn’t see all of orchestra, but there were no empty seats in mezzanine where we were seated. We even ended up running into family friends, who wound up having seats in the row in front of ours! It’s a small world after all indeed.

Better Midler was not performing Dolly at our performance, which we knew when we bought our tickets. It was Donna Murphy and I was overjoyed. She’s a two-time Tony winner! (Everyone else I was with were like “She’s Mother Gothel from Tangled!” It’s fair, but she’s a talented stage actress in her own right).

The show was absolutely amazing. I plan to review it properly on my blogspot blog (shameless plug here!) but let me say this: If you can go see the show, go see it. And it doesn’t matter if it’s Bette or Donna, either way, you are going to get an amazing Dolly! (Though rumor in the ladies’ room was that Donna was better). I can’t remember the last time I went to a show where it was clear every actor loved and had fun performing the show. It was just a great way to spend an afternoon.

The day before, my parents, my cousin, my aunt and I had dinner together. My dad was planning to go visit my sister the next weekend and I knew my mom and aunt were going to the Paul McCartney concert on Friday. So I asked if I was on my own for dinner that day. My mom looked at me surprised and said: “You’re coming to Paul McCartney with us.”

I guess I should be grateful they didn’t tell me on Thursday night.

My boss let me go early from work on Friday with everyone telling me to enjoy the concert. I was planning on going home to change into a nice black shirt and my boots while keeping on my jeans. However, my mom told me that my aunt said we had to dress up because our tickets granted us access to the “board room.” I was surprised—it’s a concert. Why would we need to dress up? But I put on a nice dress and flats.

We trekked to Madison Square Garden and were directed to the “board room.” And guess what? Everyone else was wearing jeans. We nearly killed my aunt, who did apologize and said she thought we had to dress up. Her coworker and friend told my mom to always get her info from her (the friend), not my aunt.

Lesson learned.

So what is the “board room”? It’s a place with fancy booths and food laid out for us. There is also a bar and a very attentive server, waiting to make sure we have everything we want. He even gave us water bottles to take with us into the arena!

Paul McCartney took the stage and proceeded to perform nonstop for almost 3 hours. At one point his band took a break but the 75 years old continued on, singing such songs as “Blackbird” without them. He gave great performances and told some wonderful stories in between—Paul certainly has a sense of humor!

However, my row had a big moment early on. We were very close to the stage—not on the floor but close enough to feel the heat of the pyrotechnics used for “Live and Let Die” later in the show—and there were still two seats left empty. After the show had started, a couple showed up and it was clear those were their seats. The wife was very apologetic as she ducked past us, her husband following. I looked up and my mind was just “BRUUUUUUUUUUCE.”

As in Bruce Springsteen.

The Boss sat four seats from me for this concert.

Yeah, we were all pretty excited. I even tried to get a picture but it was hard when you’re trying to also play cool. I think the people on the floor had better shots than me.

Bruce and his wife left early, but I figured it was because he was performing with Paul. I was right—he came out and performed “I Saw Her Standing There” with Paul. Twice.

The concert ended and we returned home, where I went straight to bed. But it was a great night and I’m glad I went. It was just a great week…

Aside from the laptop problems.

September 25, 2017

Laptop Troubles

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
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Or, “A Farewell to a Faithful Friend.”

That was the title of the original blogpost which got lost on Sunday night. But we’ll get to that.

Our story starts two Sundays ago, when my family saw “Hello, Dolly.” I returned home and booted up my laptop, Old Blue. Everything was working fine until I went to take my shower. When I returned, I had to boot it up again but this time, it ran a disk check. After that, it wouldn’t go to my log-in screen. I just got a black screen and my cursor instead.

I powered down and decided to let it get some rest. I switched to the smaller laptop I had gotten for Christmas to use when I travel and prayed for the best.

(more…)

September 18, 2017

Strange Dreams

Filed under: off topic — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
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Nearly everybody dreams. Scientists believe we have between four to seven dreams each night, some lasting only a few minutes, some lasting about a half hour. The most vivid dreams occur during Rapid Eye Movement or REM sleep. Sometimes we remember our dreams, most times we don’t. (If one wakes in the middle of a dream or during REM sleep, you’re more likely to remember it).

Like most people, I tend to forget most of my dreams. There are some I do remember but only for a few days at most. And then there are those that grip me and leave an impression for several days, maybe weeks. I might even be able to recall them months or years later. And these dreams always come in cycles.

I’ve just finished one such cycle and I had some doozies during it. Please allow me to share:

Surprisingly, I’ve had a few dreams involving tornados. In the first, I was staying in a hotel in the middle of storms when tornados sprung up. My family and I made it to the storm cellar just in time but a tornado hit us, picking us up, rotating us and then setting us down unharmed. We decided to get out of there before any more tornados could hit but then we found ourselves surrounded by flood waters!

That dream ended there but a few nights later, I dreamed of tornados again. Or more accurately, I guess, water spouts. I went down to the beach and a storm was rolling in. Somehow, I ended up on a boat and watching a spouts reaching into the air as they churned by the boat. I got back onto the land and raced away from the beach, the spouts and the storm.

So those were some of my “stormy” dreams. Let’s move on to a few other memorable ones.

Recently, I dreamed I was in a store. I was just browsing through some dolls when my mom asked me to find her something—I think a shirt. I agreed to go and headed away from her.

I think I need to pause to explain something here. I have what I call “dream” places—places that I often return to and always look the same. I have the same mall I go to (which I wish was real as it is amazing with a large food court, several restaurants and a lot of shops). And I have a version of “Disney World” I go to that, honestly, doesn’t look at all like the park. I just know it is Disney World.

(Though it has some cool rollercoasters I wish Disney would build).

I went through a few stores, looking to get to the right one so I can get the shirt my mom wants. As I enter, I then have to board some sort of ride vehicle. I get in the front and I settled in, even wrapping myself with a blanket as we go through some scenes, including something that reminds me of the now defunct Horizons ride.

When I got off, I met up with my friend Diana and found I was in a nice dress. We headed toward a restaurant but discovered the only way in was to go along with whatever the theme was. And the theme was a “shower” (I think bridal). So we had to pick out gifts and leave them as we headed into a room full of people we didn’t know.

That’s where that dream ended but it was pretty odd.

Another recent one involved me going to a school for a test. But all the instructions were in French and my boss was there for some reason. That one was just puzzling to me.

I’m sure more weird dreams will come my way, so maybe I’ll have a follow up post some time in the future. Feel free to share your weirdest dream in the comments below!

September 11, 2017

Autumn Plans (and Hopes)

Filed under: off topic — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
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Well, it’s September. We’re about a week and a half away from the first day of autumn.

As usual, this summer flew by. We had some warm days and some rainy days. I wish I had gotten into the pool a bit more often but I did spend time outside. Got the mosquito bites to prove it too.

However, on September 2nd, I woke up and realized I was okay that it was almost autumn. I came to the realization that autumn was generally my season, not summer, and it was time to fully embrace it.

So I am.

(more…)

September 4, 2017

One Last Summer Fling

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
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The lake looked beautiful in the setting sun.

Holly sat on the end of the dock, her feet in the cool water as she watched the pale yellow sun dip beneath the trees that lined the lake. The sky was lit up in a beautiful orange color that was starting to turn to a dark blue color. Soon the stars would appear as well as the moon.

She sighed, letting a cool breeze hit her face. It would be time to head in soon before the bugs came out and began to bite her. For now, though, she could just enjoy the pleasant summer night. There weren’t many left.

“Good evening,” a deep voice said, interrupting her musings. Opening her eyes, Holly saw a man about her age row up to her in a little rowboat. He had sandy blond hair and warm brown eyes that matched his pleasant smile. His short sleeves revealed well toned arms and she wondered if the rest of his body matched it.

Taking a deep breath, Holly smiled at him. “Hello there. Out for one last trip around the lake before it gets dark?”

“I guess you can say that,” he replied.

She tilted her head. “What would you call it?”

“Me finally building up enough courage to talk to the beautiful woman across the lake,” he said with a smile. He held out his hand to her. “I’m Jake.”

“Holly,” she said, shaking his hand. “Nice to meet you.”

“So, care to join me for a trip around the lake?” he asked. “I promise I don’t bite.”

She bit her lip as she considered his proposition. “My mother told me not to accept rides from strangers.”

“Good advice,” he agreed.

“But I don’t always do what my mother says,” Holly continued, sliding into his row boat. It teetered a bit but Jake managed to steady it.

She leaned back, trying to look seductive. “So, where are we going?”

(more…)

August 14, 2017

Taking on a Life of Its Own

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
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A couple weekends ago, I decided to take part in a fun thing I saw on tumblr—asking people for a ship and a prompt. Then I would write three sentences (more like three paragraphs) based on that prompt. Seemed like a good way to pass the time.

With the exception of one Regal Believer prompt, most of them were for Outlaw Queen.

One of the first ones I got was for Regina as a soldier returning home from the front and reuniting with her husband and child. Everyone loved it. So much so, they kept sending me more prompts. I’m still getting a bunch almost daily.

So, yes, it’s now taking on a life of its own. I’ve had to give it its own name—Soldier Verse.

Right now, it’s still just a bunch of drabbles. However, I’ve decided to turn it into a proper fanfiction once I’m done with my Dancing With the Stars AU, Better When I’m Dancing. I don’t have a title for it yet, but I have some time to think of one. I’m only a little over halfway done with Better When I’m Dancing, but I hope to get the Soldier Verse fic up before the end of the year.

Just goes to show that you never know what’s going to catch on and grow bigger than you intended.

August 7, 2017

Jump Starting the Big Project

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 2:00 am
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It’s August! I know it’s not the usual time for fresh starts, but I’m making one.

As you can tell from the title, it has to do with my “Big Project.” For those who are new, I’ll give some background on the “Big Project.” And why it’s called that rather than with a proper title. The “Big Project” is a fanfic that I’m preparing to self-publish as a novel. I’m not yet ready to reveal which one it is so I use the codename instead. Last year, around this time, I had decided to devote a half hour every day to working on it and it proved quite fruitful.

So what happened? Well, for starters, the holidays happened. I focused on NaNoWriMo, my submission for the Outlaw Queen Advent Calendar and my gift for my Once Upon a Time Secret Santa. Then I got a cold for New Year’s. (No, seriously, the ball dropped and then my nose clogged up. It was torture!) By the time I got over that, my grandmother passed. So January was pretty much shot.

I thought I would start over in February, but then I decided to participate in a Valentine’s Day exchange and had a few other projects to finish. So I kept pushing the Big Project back more and more. Especially once my hours got shifted at work and I no longer had the same amount of time at night like I used to. So I was focusing more on my other fanfictions.

Which brings me to a conundrum. I know if I want to focus on the “Big Project,” one of my fanfics will have to get sidelined. And I don’t really want to do that. They are mostly popular and I like to keep to my posting schedules. However, I know one of them is going to have to suffer. I guess I just have to choose which one.

This is going to be hard.

*Insert long sigh here*

July 31, 2017

This is a Blog About Writing, Right?

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
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Yes, it is.

I know in some ways it hasn’t really seemed like one since I’ve been writing about more personal things. Namely, travel. But I promise this isn’t turning into a travel blog.

So, let’s talk about writing. How’s that?

We’ll start with the Big Project. It’s stalled and it’s my fault, I know that. I haven’t made the time for it like I used to and I need to remedy that. So starting in August, I’m going back to working a half hour each day on it.

There’s not much movement still on original works. As I’ve said, when I’m inspired to write fanfictions, it usually takes all my energy. Right now, I don’t mind that. So, we’ll discuss my fanfics!

Well, we’ll discuss one—“The Dark Legacy.” It’s the sequel to another one of my stories, “The Prince of Darkness,” which rewrote the end of the Season 4 finale. Instead of Emma taken on the darkness, Robin did and became the new Dark One. The story then followed him and Regina as they tried to free him from the darkness before it completely devoured him.

In “The Prince of Darkness,” I decided to keep Zelena’s baby with Robin and I also introduced an Outlaw Queen pregnancy. These two girls are important for “The Dark Legacy” as it involves a mysterious figure trying to kidnap them and ultimately succeeding. The figure takes them to the Underworld so their parents have to go rescue them, encountering dangers along the way.

So why I am discussing it? Because sixteen—almost seventeen—chapters in, I decided to put it on hiatus and do some major rewrites.

Why did I make this decision? How? Good questions. I’m happy to answer them.

To be honest, I hadn’t been happy with the story for a long time. I wondered at various points if I was best to consider a major rewrite but decided to keep chugging forward. Yet it seemed to me that I was just repeating myself and my characters were going in circles.

Which brings us to two Saturdays ago. I took a shower and was thinking that I was almost done with Chapter 17 of “The Dark Legacy.” I was thinking about the story going forward and I once again wondering if I was just writing in circles while repeating myself.

Then I was also thinking about all the characters I have in play. And there were a lot. So many, I worried I had actually forgotten one and accidentally written her out.

Oops.

It was then that I decided it was time to put the story on a hiatus and to reread the posted pieces to see where I wanted to start the rewrites from. I figured it would be when the girls are in the hospital and how they get to the Underworld so that I didn’t keep coming up with several stupid reasons why they were always a few steps behind the girls. 

As I was rereading, though, I realized that I was just not happy with the story in general. Everything felt too rushed to me and more like I was telling and not showing enough. That I wasn’t diving as deep as I could’ve. It became clear to me that I needed to completely rewrite it. So that’s what I’m going to do.

What is this complete rewrite going to entail? A lot of things, I hope. I hope to eliminate the circles, tighten up the plot, deepen conflicts, strengthen character development and focus a lot more on Outlaw Queen.

Hopefully, I can pull this off and improve the story. My readers definitely deserve it. And I know I have it in me.

Wish me luck!

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