A Writer's Journey

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?


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. 


December 21, 2020

Working From Home

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
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Last week marked nine months since I started working from home due to the pandemic. And though the vaccine has arrived, we know it will likely be another 6 months before it’s available to the general public. So I figure I’m staring down another 9 months of working from home – at least.

And even when we start to reopen our office, I imagine it will be slowly and we’ll probably do staggered shifts. So I may be working from home at least half the week for several more months.

Honestly, I’m not really excited about that. I do enjoy being in my office and I feel I’m more productive in my office. Being in my house is just distracting.

Also, at the start of the pandemic, I thought it would be a good thing for my writing. In some ways, it has. In many others, it has not. Especially as the pandemic drags on, I’ve found myself unable to detach from work like I used to in the early days. During those days, I used to try to stop at 6 PM. But lately, I’ve been like “Oh, I’ll go to 7 PM.” Then: “Oh, I’ll just go to 8PM.” Etc. Etc. Etc.

So that will be a goal in the New Year – returning to normal working hours and learning to cut myself off so I have more time in the evening. After all, I no longer have a commute.

And I have multiple reasons for wanting to take back more time in my evenings.

1. One of the reasons I feel I’m working later is because I’m sleeping in later. So I want to get back to waking up earlier so that it’s not a big adjustment for when we can start working in the office again.

2. Honest confession time – I am not a neat person and my room is mess. So I want to clean it. Especially as I think it’s time to get a new bed. I have a captain’s bed but it was not put together properly during one of our moves and now the drawers are useless. That’s extra space I could really use and would go a long way to helping keep my room neater. So I want to either get a bed with working drawers or a new bed and a third dresser.

3. I let my exercise routine get away from me and I would like to get back to it.

4. My writing. I have some goals for the New Year (which I will address in my first post of 2021). So I want some more time for writing.

Well, Friday is Christmas! Be sure to check out my Patreon for a special sneak peek of The Christmas Wish (no, I haven’t forgotten about that). If you celebrate the holiday, I hope you have a Merry Christmas.

If not, I hope you have a good week and a great weekend!

December 15, 2020

An Unexpected Change

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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In my newest novel, that is. My life is pretty much the same. Though the vaccine approval gives me hope, I still know I’m looking at least another six months of working from home.

But that’s for another post.

So, back to my novel. My initial plan was for Olivia (MFC) to decide to keep her house and get a roommate. But then I realize that didn’t make much sense after an earlier conversation where one of the pros of keeping her house was that she could turn the third bedroom into a playroom. That left me with two options:

1. Take out all references to the playroom when it came to rewrites.

2. Take out the idea of Olivia trying to rent out her house and have Matt reach out to reconnect. When they meet up, she then offers to let him stay.

Option #1 would be the easiest…so of course, I’m more interested in going with Option #2. I think it will really add to Olivia’s connection with Matt and bring him into the story sooner. But I think that will make the story better and that’s what’s important, even if it’s not the easiest option.

(Not that I think that option 2 will be hard either. Just more rewrites).

I’m mostly writing this entry so I don’t forget this plot change. It’s very likely that I won’t begin the first round of rewrites until late January or early February (if I maintain my current writing output). A lot can happen between now and then, so I want to make sure I have it noted somewhere.

So, fellow NaNoWriMoers, how are your projects going? Have you moved into rewrites and edits? Are you still writing? Have you put it on the back burner? Let me know in the comments below!

Last week, I posted a new entry in my Quarantine Series on my Patreon. So check that out. And this weekend, I’ll do a holiday Q&A. If you have a holiday-related question for me, head to my Patreon and let me know on that post!

December 8, 2020

Reading Challenge Update

Filed under: off topic — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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It’s been a while since I updated you all on my reading challenge progress. Now that we’re heading into the last month of the year, let me check in with how I’m doing.

I pledged to read 10 books this year. As of this past weekend, I’ve read 8!

There was a time this year that I thought I wouldn’t even get close to my goal. While the pandemic seemed to be an ideal time to read it, the stress hasn’t really helped all that much. I’m going to be really happy to see this year go and I hope things get better in 2021.

But I’m also happy to see that my reading picked up. I’m pretty sure I can make it to 9 books and possibly 10 by the end of the month.

So for the first time all year, I think I’m on course to make my goal. I can possibly end 2020 on a high note.

How about you? Did the pandemic hurt or help your reading challenge? Will you end on a high note or try again in 2021?

Let me know in the comments below!

Once again, don’t forget to check out my Patreon page for other posts and sneak peeks – you get access to it for a pledge as low as $1 a month.

Also, my gift for OQ Advent once again was on the first day. You can read my story, inspired by the song Last Christmas, here.

Have a good week!

December 1, 2020

NaNoWriMo Update #4

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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It’s time for my final NaNoWriMo update!

At the end of November, I should’ve written 50,000 words.

At the end of November, I wrote 29,045 words.

So I end this year’s NaNoWriMo with a deficit of 20,955 words.

It seems The Christmas Wish remains my longest NaNoWriMo project for another year.

But at least Unexpected Adventures will take it’s place as my second longest project with a decent word count.

Now, let’s see if I hit the 50,000 word mark around Christmas as the website keeps predicting. 

Where did I end in the story?

After finding out about her pregnancy, Olivia calls Sean in the fictional country of Montaussy (thank you random European fictional country generator) and tells him. He’s surprised and asks for some time to think things over. She grants it.

They then talk again after a week but he still doesn’t know what he wants to do, especially after dealing with the palace’s lawyers all week. They are concerned about the child coming after the throne or the country’s riches. After Olivia confirms she wants to keep the baby, he asks for some more time. She grants it again but wonders if maybe it’s time to just let the lawyers handle it.

Now, she’s moving forward with the assumption he won’t be offering her any support at all. She makes a decision about her house and puts out an ad looking for a housemate.

I’m also around to really introducing the male lead!

Yes, I know this is probably later than I should be introducing him but so far this is how the timing is going. Besides, this is just my first draft, not the one I would submit for publication. This is the one where you just write and put in everything you want, just telling the story.

Then you start cutting things and rewriting to make it stronger. But it’s easier once you have a basis and a clear plan.

I also think of reactivating my second Wattpad account to post this story once it’s done. And probably after one round of editing. See what kind of response it gets.

I promise to let you all know if I do that.

But if you want to read a sneak peek of it now, you can sign up to support me on Patreon and read it here.

Did you participate in NaNoWriMo? If so, how many words did you manage to write? Let me know in the comments below! 

November 24, 2020

NaNoWriMo Update #3

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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Week 3 is done and one week from today ends NaNoWriMo 2020! So, let’s see how I’m doing:

At the end of the 21st day, it was expected to write 35,007 words.

As of the end of 11/21, I’ve written 20,219 words.

That’s a deficit of 14,788 words. I’m probably not going to make that up any time soon. So I’m just trying to write a 1000 words a day so I can end with at least 30,000 words.

But I have now passed the following previous NaNoWriMo projects:

The Last Lifetime (13,688 words)

Crown for Christmas (17,139 words)

Long Live the Queen (17,298 words)

The Best Medicine (18,846 words)

Not bad!

So where am I in the story? Good question!

After realizing that everything I had written in Week 2 would have to be scrapped after November ends, I just continued on. Due to some extenuating circumstances, I flipped the name’s of Olivia’s ex-husband and her ex-fiancé, so now she used to be married to Matt and Sean left her at the altar.

She packed up all of Sean’s things and got them out of the house they shared. But she still had a lot of things to consider – like whether she could afford to keep the house. And on top of all that, she finally gets an answer as to why she’s so tired and sick all the time – she’s pregnant.

Now I’m working on Olivia having to make some decisions about her life and how she will move forward. And she may need to finally talk to her former fiancé to get some answers and closure.

There are a couple obstacles for me this week – Thanksgiving usually means less writing time on Thursday and I do have the OQ Advent story due almost immediately after NaNoWriMo. So I need to finish that up as I try to add to my writing totals for NaNoWriMo.

Check out my Patreon this Saturday for a sneak peek at my NaNoWriMo project!

Wish me luck!

And to my American readers – Happy Thanksgiving!

November 16, 2020

NaNoWriMo Update #2

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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Week 2 is under our belts. According to the timeline, I should have written 23, 338 words.

As of Saturday night, I wrote 13,384 words.

That’s a difference of 9,954 words. And that’s a big deficit to overcome. But I think I can pick up the pace and up my average from under 1000 words a day to over.

I also take some pride in the realization that at the (almost) halfway point, I’ve surpassed the final totals for these past NaNoWriMo projects:

Fairest of Them All (13,000 words)

Dreams of a Rose (13,250 words)

Meet You at Midnight (13,316 words)

We’ll see what projects I surpass next week!

Though the annoying thing is that almost everything I wrote this week is going to get cut. I realized I got lost in the weeds and took the story down a meandering side plot that wasn’t necessary. So I gave myself a mental slap the other day and told myself to redo Chapter 2 (but since we’re not allowed to edit in NaNoWriMo, the original will stand because those words still count). Hopefully I can get things really moving again.

What am I cutting? A plot where Olivia is dealing with negative media attention after they found out her fiancé left her to be with a princess. She then called a former boss who works in PR and agrees to help her. It also set up that Olivia is not feeling well, though she chalks it up to stress.

The PR stuff will probably now only be a couple paragraphs and the character I created, Kate, will probably not appear in the rest of the novel. But I also learned to never say never, so we’ll see. And I’ll continue setting up that Olivia is not feeling well, leading to the pregnancy reveal soon enough.

I’ll see what this new week brings. How about you my fellow, NaNoWriMo participants? Have the plot bunnies been kind to you? Sound off in the comments below!

Also, don’t forget to check out my Patreon page! You can submit a question for me to answer next week. And I plan on posting the first sneak peek of my NaNoWriMo project there.

Thank you!

November 10, 2020

NaNoWriMo Update #1

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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It’s been one week since NaNoWriMo started! By the end of Saturday, it was projected that participants should’ve written 11,669 words.

I wrote 7,437 words.

So that’s a difference of 4,232 words.

I don’t think that’s too bad. I’d rather the deficit be less but after this past week, I’m impressed. I mean, it was a bit difficult to write when you’re watching the counts in Pennsylvania and Georgia and Nevada to see who will declare the winner of the election first.

Hopefully this week will be more productive and maybe I can close the deficit.

So far, I’ve written the first chapter. My main character, Olivia, learned her fiancé went to Europe to chase after a princess he knew for a week by a Dear Jane letter as she was waiting for their wedding to start.

Yeah, she’s not having a great time. And I’ve left her worried about paparazzi. Hopefully I can give her some good news by the end of this week.

How about everyone else? Are you having a good NaNoWriMo? Or are you struggling? Commiserate (or celebrate) in the comments below!

With October now over, I’ve returned to my normal posting schedule on Patreon. So don’t forget to check it out – but remember that you will need to be a supporter to have access to some of them!

Thank you!

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