A Writer's Journey

March 1, 2021

A Step in the Right Direction

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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I’ve gotten my first dose of the COVID vaccine! My organization was given the chance to get the staff vaccinated about a week ago and we moved quickly as 50% of our staff expressed interest in getting the vaccine. I went to the site on Saturday and it was very efficient. Within a half hour, I was walking out of the site with my first dose in my arm and an appointment to get my second dose in a month.

With in hours of getting the dose, the injection site got really sore. I got into my left arm since I’m right-handed but it’s amazing how many things I use my left hand for during the day.

So I feel this is a step in the right direction. With Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine getting Emergency Use Approval (EUA) this weekend and the promise of more supplies on the way, I hope we can start to get more people vaccinated. And I hope I am doing my part to help us get to herd immunity.

I encourage everyone to get the vaccine as soon as it’s available to you.

And I feel I’ve taken a few other steps in the right direction, even if they may not seem like it. Like doing rewrites to The Christmas Wish. Or restarting Fairest of Them All.

How about you? Have you taken any steps in the right direction this year? Let me know in the comments below! 

February 23, 2021

Book Analysis: “The Lost Vintage” by Ann Moh

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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It seems like a good time to do another book analysis. I finished The Lost Vintage by Ann Moh in January (my first book of 2021!) and so I thought I would start there.

Reminder: This is an analysis, not a review. While I’m a bit behind, there will eventually be a review up on my book review blog here.

The Lost Vintage

Also, warning for SPOILERS in case you do plan on reading the book.

(more…)

February 16, 2021

This Post Intentionally Left Blank

Filed under: off topic — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm

I hope you all had a great Valentine’s Day, even in the pandemic!

Sorry that there’s no new post this week. I was busy making a deadline for a Valentine’s fandom gift exchange. That took all my time and energy the past few days.

I’ll be back next week.

If you’re looking for more content until then, you can always go through my archives at my Patreon.

February 8, 2021

L’Amour

Filed under: off topic — mackenziew @ 8:15 pm
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Sunday is Valentine’s Day. And I can’t really let it pass without talking about romance, especially as I always consider myself a romance writer first and foremost.

I also love to read romance novels as well. So I thought I would suggest some of my favorite romances for you to read, if you’re looking for a good romance to read for Valentine’s Day.

(Note: All these links take you to my other blog where I review books. I hope you check it out!)

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice set within Toronto’s Muslim community. Ayesha is more focused on her career than getting married. She then meets her traditional neighbor Khalid and they immediately clash. However when they start planning a conference at the mosque together, they begin to see different sides to each other…and themselves.

Baker’s Dozen by Allison Fuller: Written by one of my fandom friends, this tells the story of how two single parents find a second chance of love when Gavin steps into Victoria’s bakery. This is also erotica so if you’re not into detailed sex scenes, you may want to skip. But if you’re worried that it’s just written porn, it’s not. It’s a heartfelt story that just happens to include written porn.

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon: Childhood friends Eva and Angelo grow up together and develop feelings for each other but there are too many things in their way – especially when he enters the seminary to become a priest. Then World War II comes to Italy and they find themselves navigating the dangerous world of the Nazis, especially since Eva is Jewish. Can they survive such a dangerous time and can they finally be together if they do?

Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati: Recommended for those who love Outlander but I find it to be superior to Outlander. You’re going to get sucked into Elizabeth and Nathaniel’s love story as they build a life together in the forests of New York in the early days of the United States. This is the first book in a series and you can follow them as their family grows, though a warning for sexual violence in later books.

The Beautiful Strangers by Camille Di Maio: In 1950s California, Kate goes to the Hotel Coronado to solve a mystery for her ailing grandfather. There she meets Sean, who works at the hospital, and starts to unravel the mystery of the hotel’s resident ghost, the Beautiful Stranger. Also features appearances by Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis as it is set around the same time Billy Wilder is filming “Some Like It Hot”.

The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, Karen White: Sarah is desperate to find the follow-up to her best selling novel and believes she has found it in the belongings of her great-grandfather who died aboard the Lusitania. She goes to England and teams up with nobleman John to investigate his grandfather’s history on the Lusitania and his connection to two women. Not just one but three romances, including one love triangle, that bounce between two eras. I definitely recommend.

The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley: Another one recommended for those who love Outlander. Eva returns to a place where she had good memories with her recently deceased sister. While there, she starts to experience strange episodes where she jumps between the 17th century and the modern era. While in the 17th century, she starts to fall for Daniel Butler. Can they make it despite living in two different times?

What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon: Another recommendation for Outlander fans. When she goes to spread her grandfather’s ashes in Ireland, Anne ends up falling back through time to the early 20th century and Ireland’s struggles against British rule. There she is mistaken for her own great-grandmother and starts to fall for a family friend. Will she be able to return home? Will she end up changing history? And will she find love?

Wives of War by Soraya M. Lane: Three women volunteer to be nurses during World War II and experience the horrors together, all while finding love in the middle of hell on earth.

I hope you give one (or more) of these books a chance this Valentine’s Day!

Let me know if you have any good romances to recommend in the comments below!

And please check out my Patreon for more content!

February 1, 2021

Sometimes Distance is a Good Thing

Filed under: journey,The Christmas Wish,writing — mackenziew @ 8:00 pm
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When it comes to writing, that is.

I’ve dusted The Christmas Wish and am giving each chapter another look before I proceed with the process. I’ve cleared Chapter 1 with a few minor changes and have moved onto Chapter 2.

And that’s where distance has both helped and hurt.

Let me explain.

I was going through Chapter 2 when I realized it was rather…disjointed…especially at the beginning. And I knew it was my fault. The disjointed parts came from what I had added when I did the first round of rewrites, expanding some things that an original story needs over a fanfic. But in doing so, I muddied up some things by rushing feelings between my main characters and upon a reread, I realized it happened too fast.

And I think I need to decide on a path for their relationship. I want them to go from enemies to lovers (with some underlying sexual tension) thanks to their surprise marriage showing them new sides to each other. So I need to rewrite Chapter 2 which had scenes were they became nicer and closer to each other.

Now, I need to play up the animosity a bit more. And I probably have to play it up a bit more in the later chapters before Theo has a revelation when experiencing Christmas Dinner with Adelaide’s family. It gives him a lot of insight into her.

And then I’m going to have to add her moment of revelation where she gets more insight into him. Hmm, going to have to think about it. Thankfully, I still have some time before I get to that point.

Anyway, I hope everyone is staying safe. And if you’re in the Northeast, that you’re staying warm. We already have close to two feet snow as I post this and the storm isn’t done just yet. Looks like we got a big one.

Though since I’m already working from home due to COVID, snow days aren’t as magical as they once were. COVID killed the snow day.

Don’t forget to check out my Patreon and I hope you have a great week!

January 25, 2021

My Mind’s a Blank

Filed under: off topic — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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At least when it comes to this blog post.

I guess this was bound to happen. After all, it’s not like I’m doing much even in 2021.

So I’m going to keep this one a short one. I hope you all have a great week and hopefully I’ll have something for you next week!

If you want more content, become a supporter over on Patreon and you can read more of my blog posts there.

I hope you all have a good week!

January 18, 2021

Hard Work

Filed under: off topic — mackenziew @ 8:00 pm
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January is now half over. And isn’t about now usually when most people end up giving up their New Year’s Resolutions?

I can certainly understand why.

As we start the third full week of January, I’ve already failed at my goal to pull back my working from hours back to normal working hours so I have more time to myself at night. So far, I’ve still be working well into the night and one time was even logged into my work computer after midnight!

(Though that was the first time I’ve done that. I had struggled to write a memo earlier in the evening and then got a better way to frame it in the shower. Since I wanted to turn it in first thing in the morning, I signed in and fixed the memo after my shower).

But it’s still only the third week of January. I knew this wasn’t going to be easy, that it was something I was going to have to slowly accomplish. So I’m going to try again and start rolling it back.

Then I can get motivated to do everything I want to do with that reclaimed time – clean my room, exercise, write, etc. Oh, and read. I’ve been so exhausted, I’m not sure I can finish a book this month – but I’m going to try!

How about you? Are you struggling with your New Year Resolutions? Or are you nailing them? Somewhere in between? Let me know in the comments below!


Don’t forget to check out my Patreon for more goodies – especially if you support me! All it takes is $1 a month!

Have a good week!

January 11, 2021

Bring Back Uninteresting Times

Filed under: off topic — mackenziew @ 8:00 pm
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It is said the Chinese have a traditional saying that is believed to be a curse: “May you live in interesting times.” While it sounds like a nice sentiment at first, the true meaning is that you experience turbulence and uncertainty rather than peace and tranquility.

There’s almost no concrete evidence that this is an actual traditional Chinese saying and the earliest instance of it was in English in the late 19th century. But the sentiment holds. And I think right now, we’re all wishing to live in uninteresting times.

I know I am.

The pandemic. The recession. Protests. The election. And now insurrection and sedition.

And that was just in the last twelve months. We also experienced a lot in the last four years. It seemed we haven’t had a slow news day in a long, long time.

Seriously. Anyone remember the last slow news day?

Bueller?

As longtime readers (I assume I have them) of this blog know, I am a history-loving dork. So I grew up reading books and studying history and wondering what it was like to live during exciting times such as the Revolution, the Civil War, the Suffragette Movement, etc. What was it like to see the world change around you? To know you were living through something that would no doubt go down in history?

Now, I know. It’s exhausting. Yes, there’s some excitement but there’s also some terror and a lot of uncertainty.

Though I do wonder if maybe it wasn’t as exhausting back then because in many places, they were removed from the main parts of the action. The experience on the American home front during World War II was certainly different than the British home front. While we had blackout drills, we were not subjected to nightly bombing campaigns like the British and our country is not littered with World War II battlefields. And most Civil War battles were fought in the South, so did Northerners have some distance in that regard?

And is it exhausting for us because news can be reported instantaneously? That we are able to experience these things in real time? I first found out about the siege of the Capitol while checking Twitter, which then caused me to turn on CBS and watch their live broadcasts. We were able to watch this for hours as people stormed into the building, attacked Capitol Police and were just an angry mob. We could then also see pictures and videos from inside the Capitols posted by insurrectionists, Congress members and staffers alike. We experienced it as it happened.

Maybe this is the natural destination of following the news. We’ve gone from reading about news that was maybe days to weeks to months old back during the Revolution to having news stories that are only a day or two old during the Civil War thanks to the telegraph. Then people would watch newsreels that were days or weeks old during both World Wars, though they did the radio to keep them informed during the Second World War. And then video from the Vietnam War could be broadcast on newscasts across the country, maybe only hours old at that point. The 80s brought us 24 hour news channels and people could follow along with events in real time, like when Baby Jessica got stuck down the well.

Now, I chose to watch the news. I chose to continue scrolling through my Twitter feed. And I chose to retweet and comment on what happened. That was what I decided I needed during that failed coup. I know other people had to focus on other things that weren’t the failed coup and so filled their Twitter feed with what they needed to cope.

Everyone is different and we shouldn’t pressure people into experiencing a major event the same way we do.

Just as we have the power to follow along with events in real-time, we also have the choice not to. Everyone has to make the choice that is best for them. With everything going on, we all have to take care of ourselves until things calm down.

Which hopefully will be soon.


Another friendly reminder to also check my Patreon weekly for more updates or fun things there.

I hope you all have a great week!

January 6, 2021

New Year, New Goals!

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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It’s 2021! Happy New Year, everyone!

happy new year balloons

It’s time to look ahead to the year that will be and what I would like to achieve in it. Now 2020 taught us that the best laid plans of mice and men can really go awry. But I think that as we sadly approach the one year anniversary of this pandemic and our new way of life we’ve finally got the hang of it. We’ve created new routines and adjusted our lives to find a new normal.

We ended 2020 with a glimmer of hope. Two different vaccines received emergency use approval and people have started to receive them While it will still be several more months before a good amount of us have gotten it, it’s a start. We could start to gather again, go out without masks and hug each other before 2022.

So I feel a bit more confident in making…well, maybe not goals, but anticipations for 2020.

I anticipate completing Unexpected Adventures in 2021.

So I did not hit 50,000 words by Christmas Eve as the NaNoWriMo website had predicted. In fact, I saw a drastic decline in my writing totals for it – according to Excel, my average for the month was 560 words a day while my average for November was 950 words a day. But I guess working toward a deadline helped in November. And the holiday season was a busy one even given social distancing.

And I’m still only really about halfway in, if that. So I’m looking at probably another 50,000 words until I’m done. Which if I keep up the 560 words a day average, it will take me 90 days to complete. That’s about three months. So I could be done with the first draft by my birthday.

I anticipate jumpstarting my second Wattpad account.

Yes, I have two Wattpad accounts. One is just for fanfic and I created a second one for my original work. But I haven’t really posted on that one. So I want to change that.

I want to post Unexpected Adventures there and get some feedback from the readers there, maybe cultivate a new audience as my fanfiction audience (however loyal they are) dwindles. And publishing professionals do look to the site to find new work – maybe I’ll luck out.

Publish The Christmas Wish.

I know, I know. I say this every year. But I think this is the year I can finally make it happen.

Update more.

For the longest time, I thought this was going to be “write more.” And I do need to make more time for writing (or rather, have a more defined work day and to hold to that). But I looked back on 2020 and was like “I didn’t have a lot of updates for my fics so I need to pick up my writing pace.”

But then I realized something. I did do a lot of writing in 2020. I didn’t track all of it in my bullet journal but I did it. What I then sucked at was actually editing and updating stories! I probably have a lot of updates that are ready to go up. And so I’m going to spend January figuring that out and setting up a posting schedule to get those down.

Which leads me to…

Whittling down my fanfiction projects.

So, the theme weeks I participated in in 2020 were good to me. I wrote many good stories.

But I didn’t finish most of them, leaving me with even more works in progress.

Which lead me to another realization – I wasn’t updating stories because I was focusing on the ones I wanted to update. But I’m working on so many, none of them are really getting the attention they deserve.

So I need to whittle down all the stories I’m working on. Which is hard because I love working on all of them. But it’s time to end the ones I started during theme weeks so I can focus on the big ones. But I especially plan to finish Second Chance, Best Chance this year. As I continue with the year, I’ll probably make decisions to bring a couple others to completion. I’m stretched too thin right now and I need to roll back for my own sake.

Read one book a month.

Good news – I managed to make my goal last year and read 10 books! So this year, I want to read one book per month for a total of 12.

Those are my anticipations for 2021. I think they’re attainable for the most part and I am eager to see what the next 12 months bring.

I also posted some goals for myself on Patreon. You can check it out here.

How about you? What are you hoping to achieve this year? Let me know in the comments below!

December 28, 2020

Good Riddance, 2020

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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It’s the last post of 2020. It’s hard to believe we made it through this year – mostly because it felt like March was never going to end. But it did end and now we are at the end of 2020, something that seemed impossible back in March.

Normally, I would go back to my list of anticipations from my first post of the year and see how I did. But I think 2020 threw enough curveballs at us and so it would be pointless to do that.

So instead, I’m going to celebrate what I did manage to accomplish in 2020 – no matter how small!

1. I finished Better When I’m Dancing. After having this as an anticipation for a couple years, I finally did it. I finished the epilogue and posted it, ending this beloved verse of mine. It was odd watching Dancing With the Stars this past fall and to not be also writing the story, but I’m glad I finished it. Maybe it’ll be nice to revisit it in 2021…

2. I transitioned from working in my office to working from home. It’s been hard not seeing my coworkers for ten months and I do feel like I’m more productive in the office, but I’ve done it. And I’m proud of it.

3. I started not one but two original works. Yes, I’ve put The Coven on hold while I finish Unexpected Adventures but I will go back to it. I’m excited to see what comes of them.

4. I started a lot of fanfics this year too. And I need to finish them. But more on that next week. There were quite a few theme weeks and they gave me some great inspiration and I’m grateful for that.

5. I didn’t get COVID. Mostly by not leaving my house, avoiding people and wearing a mask. Hopefully I can keep this up in the New Year too.

6. I survived 2020. At least, I think I did. I’m sure we’re all going to be processing our shared trauma for years to come. But for now, I’ve made it to the end of the year. And if you’re reading this, you’ve likely done so as well. Let’s hold on a bit longer and make it to 2021 together, okay?

How about you? What were your achievements in 2020 – it doesn’t matter how small they were. Did you do it? Then celebrate it and put it in the comments!


I hope you were able to check out my sneak peek of The Christmas Wish on my Patreon! It’s available to the public but don’t forget that if you want more sneak peeks, you can support me for as low as $1 a month for access. 

Enjoy!

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