A Writer's Journey

August 16, 2022

Getting Back to Business

Filed under: writing,journey,The Lost King — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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Okay, it’s been a few weeks since I finished The Lost King. And I’ve enjoyed having some time away from it. I’ve also been giving more love to The Sister Stones, but more on that later.

(And by later, I mean a whole different blog post).

Once again, I’m focused on The Lost King.

This week, I want to finish putting what I have in my Google doc for my friend to read. But I will also continue with my second draft since she’s also busy and there will be a big change between the two drafts.

In addition to doing that, I also want to finish the chapter outline so I know what I’m working on and where I might have to write rather than just edit.

Once that is done, then I’ll get to work on the editing and rewriting process. It’ll be time to get back to work and I’m looking forward to it!

I’ll need to figure out a good schedule for this too. I’m thinking dedicating a half-hour a day to it. Usually in the past, I’ve done a full hour but I’ve found that’s been a little too long for me and I end up throwing in other projects. But I think one half-hour is doable, especially if I dedicate the time entirely to The Lost King. I’ll give it a try and then re-evaluate in a month.

So, I’ll try to give you monthly updates as I continue to work on it.

How is your summer going? Hard to believe we’re halfway through August! I’m trying hard not to think of Halloween or the holiday season but it’s knocking on the door.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments and I’ll see you all next week!

August 9, 2022

A Summer Barbecue–Fun in the Pool

Filed under: writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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Julie gets invited to a barbecue to spend time with her neighbor Carl, his son and grandson.

swimming pool

“It’s just a barbecue,” Julie told her reflection. “There’s no need to be so worried about everything.”

She checked her hair and makeup once last time, certain it looked nice but still appropriate for a casual barbecue. Julie took a deep breath before letting it out slowly. “Let’s do this,” she said.

Picking up her cake carrier, she stepped out of her house and locked it up. She then walked around the corner, heading to Carl’s house. Julie didn’t bother knocking on the front door and just continued walking on the front lawn, heading past the side of the house until she got to his open back gate.

“Knock, knock,” she said, peering around the wooden boards to get a better view of the deck. “Hello?”

Carl appeared at the railing overhead, smiling at her. “Hello, Julie. Come on in.”

She entered his yard and climbed up the stairs, passing his pool and reaching the table he had set up. Julie held out the cake carrier. “I brought dessert,” she said.

“Did you make brownies?” he asked her, his eyes lighting up like a little boy in a candy shop.

“Not this time,” she told him. “A bit too hot to turn on my oven.”

He looked disappointed by nodded. “Understandable. So what did you make?”

“It’s a surprise for later,” she said, deciding to let him wait. “But I think you’re really going to like it.”

“Oh, I have no doubt about that,” he said, taking the carrier from her once she reached him. “I’ll put this inside for now.”

He opened the screen door just as James came running out. The boy stopped in front of Julie, smiling up at her and revealing two missing teeth. “Hi, Miss Julie! Are you going to swim with us today?” he asked.

She nodded, leaning down and placing her hands on her knees. “I am.”

“We’re going to have so much fun!” James said. “And I promise not to knock the ball out of the yard.”

“I promise not to either,” she said, laughing. “I think we’ll be fine.”

The door opened and she stood, watching as Christopher stepped out of the house in a t-shirt and blue swim trunks. He stopped when he saw her, smiling. “Hi, Julie.”

“Hi,” she said, feeling a bit shy. “Thanks for inviting me.”

He grinned. “Dad says you’re pretty much family so of course you were getting an invite.”

“Damn right,” Carl said, exiting the house. “I’m still the homeowner so I get to say who comes to our parties.”

Christopher rolled his eyes as Julie chuckled. “Well, thank you both. Is anyone else coming?” she asked.

“Some friends of mine,” Christopher said. “But only a few. It’s a small party.”

“Since we have a small yard,” Carl replied, winking at Julie.

Christopher placed his hand on his father’s shoulder. “Dad’s just covering for the fact I don’t have many friends here, he said.

“You just moved back,” she replied. “You’ll make new friends soon. Especially once James starts school.”

“I hope so,” he replied. He then smiled. “Thanks for the pep talk.”

She nodded. “You’re welcome.”

He excused himself, walking away as she wondered why she hadn’t asked if they could be friends. They had already had a few conversations over the fence between her yard and Carl’s and each had been friendly enough. Maybe it was still too early, though, and she had to wait a bit longer.

Or maybe he just wanted them to stay neighbors.

“You okay, Julie?” Carl asked, interrupting her thoughts and bringing her back to the barbecue.

She nodded, moving to tuck some hair behind her ear until she remembered it was pulled into a ponytail. Letting her hand drop, she said: “Just got lost in my thoughts, that’s all.”

“Well, I hope they are only good thoughts,” he said. “You know my rule.”

“No sad faces allowed in your backyard,” she replied, knowing his rule well. “I’ll follow it, don’t worry.”

He chuckled as James swam up to the side of the pool. “Are you coming in, Julie?” he asked.

“I’ll be right in,” she said, taking off her cover up and setting it on a nearby chair. She adjusted her bikini top and then bottom before heading to the stairs. “Coming in.”

James floated by on a rubber duck float, kicking his little legs to move it. He smiled at her. “Don’t worry. The water is warm,” he said.

“After you get in,” Christopher said, appearing by her side in just blue swim trunks. He smiled at her. “It’s going to be cold when you first step in though. Sorry.”

She shrugged, trying not to stare at his toned abs. Christopher certainly kept himself in shape. But she tried not to think about him working out as she replied: “It’s okay. I think I can tough it out for a few minutes.”

“Well, you don’t have to do it alone,” he said, holding out his hand. “We can go in together.”

“Sounds good,” she replied, taking his hand. They stepped into the water and her skin tingled as the cold water surrounded her feet. She shivered. “You weren’t kidding.”

He chuckled. “Unfortunately. But it’s better to do this quickly than prolong the torture.”

She took a deep breath before squeezing his hand. “Then let’s do this.”

“Here we go,” he said, leading her down the rest of the stairs and into the shallow end of the pool.

Pins and needles ran up her legs and into her stomach as the cold water rose up to her waist. She took a few deep breaths as the feeling started to recede pretty quickly. The water started to warm up and she relaxed. “This isn’t too bad,” she said.

“Wanna play Marco Polo?” James asked, once again floating by with his giant rubber ducky float.

“Gives us a few more minutes to warm up,” Christopher said. “Okay?”

James sighed. “Fine.”

Chuckling, Julie turned to Christopher. “Any other suggestions?”

“Just one,” he said. “Hold your breath.”

Before she asked what he meant by that, Christopher pulled her under the water. She had barely gotten a gulp of air to hold as the cold water pricked her face. They returned to the surface, breaking through it as she pushed her wet hair away from her face and glared at him. “Really?”

He shrugged. “It was the final step. Getting ourselves completely wet so we’re entirely used to the water.”

“A little more warning would’ve been nice,” she said. “But I do feel better.”

“Good,” he said. “And now, I declare you it!”

It took her a few moments to realize what he said before she shook her head, smirking. “Sneaky.”

“Who is it?” James asked, once again coming up with his float.

Christopher pointed to her. “Julie.”

“Though I think James might be next,” she said. “That rubber ducky is going to be easy to find even with my eyes closed.”

“She has a point, my boy,” Christopher agreed. “That float makes you, well, a sitting duck.”

James, though, looked hesitant. “Do I have to let go of the float?”

“It’ll be okay,” Christopher assured his son, wading toward him. “You’ve been practicing in the pool and doing well with your lessons. You don’t need the float.”

”Are you sure?” James asked him, looking nervous.

Christopher nodded. “I am. And both Julie and I are right here. We’ll be able to help you.”

“Absolutely,” Julie agreed, wanting James to be comfortable and to have fun. “You don’t have to worry about anything, okay?”

“Okay,” James said, reluctantly releasing the floaty. He started to flail in the water, causing both Christopher and Julie to reach out to steady him.

Christopher held him as he said: “Tread water. Move your legs like you are riding a bicycle and move your arms.”

James did as his father said and managed to keep his head above the water. He looked over at Julie. “Is it working?”

“Yes,” she said. “You’re doing great. But maybe we should stay in the shallow area for now?”

“I think that’s a great idea,” Christopher agreed. “And would give you a better advantage in Marco Polo.”

James’ eyes lit up and grinned. “Okay!”

“Then we’re agreed,” Christopher said. “We don’t go past the divider.”

He pointed to the floating rope that marked where the shallow end sloped into the deep end. They all nodded and he smiled. “Great! Julie is still it!”

She chuckled. “Almost thought you forgot but okay. I’ll close my eyes and count to ten.”

Julie did just that and started to yell “Marco” over and over as father and son responded “Polo” each time. She held her hands out in front of her, chasing after the nearest voice. After calling “Marco” at least ten times, her hands hit something solid and warm.

“You got me,” Christopher said. When she opened her eyes, she saw him smiling at her. “Looks like I’m it.”

“Close your eyes, Daddy!” James said excitedly. “And count to ten.”

Christopher did that as Julie tried to swim away. The game continued for several more rounds where James was only “It” once. Most times, it was either Julie or Christopher. But no matter what, they had a lot of fun.

When James tired of the game, he reached for his floaty again and climbed on it to relax. Julie ducked under the rope, returning to the deeper water to float around as well. Christopher joined her, floating next to her. “Thank you,” he said.

“For what?” she asked.

“Being so good with James,” he replied, glancing over at his son. “Not everyone would want to spend their time playing Marco Polo with a kid or reassure him about his ability to swim. I appreciate that and now it means a lot to him.”

Warmth and happiness spread through her. “He’s a great kid. I’m happy to do it.”

“In my experience, that makes you one of the good ones,” he said, a haunted look coming to his eyes. She still didn’t know much about his divorce but she had the sinking feeling that his ex-wife hadn’t been a good mother to James.

If so, she was glad he had a loving and attentive dad like Christopher in his life.

“Well, thank you,” she said, not sure what else to say.

“I’m slowly making friends here,” he continued. “And I would be honored if I could call you a friend.”

Warmth spread through her and she nodded. “The honor would be mine.”

He held out his hand. “Should we shake on it? Or hug it out?”

“I think we can hug it out,” she said, opening her arms.

“Good,” he replied, wrapping his arms around her. “I’m a hugger.”

She chuckled, hugging him back. “That’s not a problem.”

“Then I think we’re going to get along just fine,” he said, releasing her. “And I think James and I have gotten off to a great start here.”

“I think so as well,” she replied. “And I hope it keeps just getting better and better.”

Christopher chuckled. “I think it will.”

“Hey, Aquaman, care to get out of the water and help your old man?” Carl asked, leaning over the railing with a grin on his face. 

“Do you need me to help too?” Julie asked, not wanting to just sit around while Carl and Christopher did everything.

Christopher pointed to James, still happily floating around on his ducky. “Can you watch him for me?” 

She nodded, certain she could do that. “Of course. He’s in good hands.” 

“Thanks,” Christopher said, climbing out of the pool. He paused and called for his son. Once he had James’ attention, he pointed to Julie. “Listen to Julie, okay?” 

James nodded. “Okay, Daddy.” 

Christopher nodded before stepping out of the pool. Julie’s stomach tightened as warmth spread through her watching the water droplets run down his body. He certainly was fit and clearly worked out, though she wasn’t sure if he had a gym membership or did it at home. She followed one drop as it ran toward the wet swim trunks now hanging low on his hips before realizing she was staring. Looking away quickly, she hoped neither Christopher nor Carl had noticed. The last thing any of them needed was for her to have a crush on Christopher. 

Especially him. 

“Miss Julie, what’s your favorite animal?” James asked, floating up to her. “Mine are ducks!” 

She chuckled. “I can tell. I like dogs.” 

“I like dogs too,” he replied. “I asked Daddy if we can have a dog here in Grandpa’s house but he said we need to wait until we’ve settled in more.” 

“That makes sense,” Julie said. “I’m sure when you and your father are ready, you’ll find the right dog.” 

James nodded. “If we do, you can come over and pet it if you want.” 

Her heart melted a bit as she smiled. “Thank you. I would love that. And if I get a dog first, then you can come and pet it.” 

“Yay!” he cheered, kicking his feet. Thankfully they barely reached the water so he did not splash her – but she doubted she would’ve minded. 

As James continued to ask her questions and tell her more about himself, she started to believe that she was going to have a great friendship with Christopher and James. 

TBC…

August 1, 2022

The Finish Line

Filed under: journey,The Lost King,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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I’ve crossed it.

I’ve (finally) finished the first draft of The Lost King (Book I).

And I feel amazing!

I’ve written a few posts on my next steps now that I’m done with the first draft. And I’m looking forward to moving onto those next steps.

Now that the first draft is complete, I feel like I have a better grasp on the story. I already know I’m going to tone down the focus on Alisa’s locket and I think Mason, her future brother-in-law, is going to get a personality overhaul as I change some aspects of the plot.

And I’m looking forward to taking what I’ve written and making it even better.

Maybe I can have it up on Wattpad before the end of the year after all!

I am so excited for the next steps and I look forward to taking them after a bit of a breather. It should give my friend who is reading this draft time to go over it and let me know her thoughts.

I am also spending most of the week at my sister’s so that will also allow me to take something of a breather from The Lost King as well.

Next week, I’ll post a short story I’ve been writing and is the reason why there hasn’t been a new post in over two weeks.

I hope you enjoy it!

See you all soon!

July 12, 2022

Sunburn

Filed under: off topic — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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Last week on the 4th of July, I hosted a barbecue with some family friends. We spent time in my pool and ate some great food while enjoying the beautiful summer weather on my deck.

And I got a sunburn.

Yesterday, I went to a Mets game and while we lost in the tenth inning, I had a lot of fun.

And I got a sunburn.

In the same exact spot.

Plus a little more.

It’s not terribly bad but it does hurt a bit. So I’m going to go rub a lot of aloe on my skin and I’ll connect with you all next week.

Hopefully I won’t get another sunburn this weekend. I do eventually tan so maybe this was just the base and then I’ll be good…

(And of course, I’ll be better about my sunscreen).

July 6, 2022

Reading Challenge 2022: Q2 Update

Filed under: off topic — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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It’s July! If you’re American – happy Independence Day!

It’s also the end of the second quarter for the year so it’s time to check in on how my reading challenge for this year is going.

As a reminder, I challenged myself to read 12 books this year – which would average out to one book a month. So far this year, I’ve read 9 books! That averages out to a book and a half each month so far. If I keep up this pace, I not only will meet my goal but will likely exceed it by six books.

Let’s look at the seven books I read since my last check in:

Not the Witch You Wed by April Asher: In a world where magical creatures live alongside non-magical humans, there are strict rules magical creatures must live by. To avoid mandatory marriage, magicless witch Violet agrees to pretend to date shapeshifter Lincoln. As they work to find a permanent solution to their problem, old feelings are awaken. Maybe their relationship isn’t as fake as they think…

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell: When teenage parents Zach and Tallulah disappear, most people assume they ran away from the stress of their responsibilities. Only Tallulah’s mother believes something bad happened and she is determined to find the truth. When a mystery writer moves near the last place the two were seen – an ominous manor house called Dark Place – clues start to appear that point to the mysterious Scarlet. What does she know and what really happened the night Tallulah disappeared?

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner:  After discovering her husband’s infidelity, Caroline travels to London and rediscovers her love for history as she is drawn into a mysterious apothecary. Several centuries earlier, Nella uses her skills to dispense poisons to help women with the men who have wronged them. Her life and Caroline’s collide in a story about second chances.

The Mysterious Bakery on Rue de Paris by Evie Gaughan: Edie decides to make a change and takes a job in a bakery in Paris. Except when she arrives, she learns the bakery is really in Compiegne, a city outside of Paris. But she makes the most of it and soon finds herself making new friends as she settles into her new life. As she grows more comfortable working in the bakery, she wonders more and more about the mysterious baker. Who makes all the delicious items she sells to customers? And is she ready to learn the truth?

Holly Banks Full of Angst by Julie Valerie: Holly Banks tries to adjust to her new town, unpacking her new house, a bombshell about her husband’s job, her bohemian mother and her own deferred dreams as she handles her daughter’s first week of kindergarten.

The Lost Love Song by Minnie Darke: After acclaimed pianist Diana Clare dies in a tragic plane crash, the love song she was writing for her fiance, Ari, travels the world. Will the song still lead him to a possible second chance at love with poet Evie?

The One (The Selection #3) by Kiera Cass: With The Selection down to only four contestants, America comes to a conclusion about what – or rather who – she wants. But will outside forces shatter the future she now dreams of?

There we go! Seven books in three months! I hit my stride with being conscientious about reading a chapter a day and that really sped up the process. I’m hoping it will continue through the next few months as well.

How are you doing? Let me know in the comments below!

June 28, 2022

Home Sweet Home

Filed under: off topic — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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I’m back from my vacation! It was hot and I sweated a lot as well as came back almost five pounds heavier but I still enjoyed myself. And I did get to relax.

And that’s what was important.

This post is also late because I spent the weekend down at the Jersey shore. One of my cousins is getting married in September and the bridal shower for his wife-to-be was on Sunday. Given how bad traffic can be, some family members got a hotel room together and made a beach weekend of it. It was nice to be at the shore, to spend time with family and the bridal shower was beautiful.

But it is even better being home.

(Though if I could go back in time, I would not only warn myself about COVID but still also advise that maybe it would be better to send regrets so I could’ve just crashed this past weekend).

So I’m going to rest and I’ll see you all next week.

June 20, 2022

“The Sister Stones” Chapter 3 (Excerpt)

Filed under: journey,The Sister Stones,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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I’m coming back from vacation today. So here’s an excerpt from The Sister Stones for you to enjoy.

Nicola and Daniel take a drive to visit a friend of her aunt’s who can explain more about the curse she must break to gain her inheritance.


She and Daniel headed out as he opened the door for her. They stepped out into the warm spring sun. He motioned to a blue SUV as he said: “This one is mine.”

He opened the passenger door for her and she climbed into it. As she buckled herself in, he closed the door and then went to the driver’s side. Daniel buckled up as well before starting the car. “It’s not far,” he said. “We shouldn’t have a long drive.”

“I don’t mind,” she replied. “It’ll be nice to see more of the area.”

Daniel glanced over at her. “There isn’t much to see.”

“Maybe not to you but to me, this is all brand new and I want to take it all in,” she told him.

“Is this your first time in England?” he asked, driving toward the edge of town. Nicola wondered if she had taken this road coming from the airport and wished she hadn’t napped in the car on the ride to her bed and breakfast.

She nodded. “I’ve only really gone on cruises. So this is my first time on any other continent that isn’t North America.”

He glanced at her. “Not much of a world traveler, huh?”

“Never really had the money,” she replied, shrugging. “And my ex didn’t like to go anywhere that wasn’t a mountain or a beach.”

“Why didn’t you just do something without him?” he asked.

She sighed. “It never crossed my mind because I wanted to do everything with him. So I told myself I enjoyed skiing and going to the beach as much as he did.”

He hummed in response. “Well, I guess you snapped yourself out of that. After all, there’s a reason he’s an ex, right?”

“Yeah,” she replied, not wanting to elaborate any further. Instead, she turned the conversation onto him. “What about you? You travel a lot or do you tend to stay close by?”

“I’ve traveled around Europe. It’s easier for us here. Prices are cheaper, there are several options for traveling, and we get more time off than you Americans,” he explained.

She hummed. “So where has been your favorite place to visit?”

“I think it’s a toss up between Barcelona and Rome,” he replied. “I also enjoy Amsterdam.”

“Oh, I’m sure you do,” she teased him, knowing some of the activities people enjoyed doing in Amsterdam. She then grew pensive. “I’d like to visit Amsterdam one day.”

He quickly glanced at her, giving her a soft smile. “Maybe you can do it soon. You will have enough money even without breaking the curse to travel wherever you want.”

She hummed, recalling Jen’s suggestion. “My friend was encouraging me to stay in England and to do some traveling to reconnect with myself. You know – Eat. Pray. Love.”

“I guess that’s not a bad idea,” he said, chuckling a bit. “Though I would recommend some place more exotic than dreary old England for that.”

“Well, now I own a house here in dreary old England that could be my home base so I can explore the world, or at least Europe, more.”

“So you’re keeping the house?” he asked, sounding surprised. He quickly glanced at her again before turning his attention to the road.

Nicola shrugged. “I’m not sure. I’m just keeping all my options open right now.”

“Good idea,” he replied, turning off the main road and down a smaller one. “We’re almost at Dr. James’ house.”

“She’s okay with us just coming to her house?” she asked. “I thought we would meet at a restaurant or some other public place.”

Daniel shrugged. “I know Dr. James. She often was with your grandaunt when I went to visit her so we got a chance to get to know each other.”

“Oh,” she replied, feeling a bit better. “So I’ll be the only stranger.”

“Not really,” he replied. “You may not have known your grandaunt but she knew you.”

While that wasn’t too surprising, it still spooked Nicola. The few times she had heard about Aunt Margaret it had been because she had sent her grandparents letters. Each time, Grandpa would just toss them in the garbage and say that they likely were not worth reading while Grandma would nod in agreement. Mom wouldn’t even mention Aunt Margaret’s name, not even when she was on her deathbed. So how had Aunt Margaret gotten to know Nicola and followed her life?

“Nicola?” Daniel asked, sounding concerned.

“Sorry,” she said. “I was just wondering how much my grandaunt really knew about me and how she got her information.”

He bit his lip before saying: “I think Dr. James could probably better answer those questions.”

They lapsed into silence as Daniel entered a tiny village. He drove down what appeared to be the town’s Main Street and Nicola took it all in. Stores and pubs lined the quiet street though there were cars parked on each side of it. A few people stood outside a restaurant chatting and one woman held a leash attached to an English bulldog sitting at her feet. It almost felt as if they were driving through a movie set, but Nicola knew it was real life. People were just going about their day while she was trying to figure out the mystery her life had suddenly become. 

Daniel drove all the way down Main Street until it turned into a dirt country road and the buildings gave way to rolling green hills. “Does she live in the middle of nowhere?” she asked.

“Honestly? Pretty much,” he replied. “We should be there in a couple minutes.”

“Did my aunt also live in the middle of nowhere?” she asked him, now worried that if she did stay in the house she would be far from the nearest person or town. It would’ve been an even more perfect setting for a horror film.

He shook his head. “She lived just outside Otterford, so you won’t be far from other people. You can even walk from the center of town to her house if you want.”

“Good,” she said, relieved that she would at least be near civilization and not all by herself in the English countryside.

“Here we are,” he said, pulling up to a quaint stone cottage surrounded by several bushes. He parked next to a gray sedan and turned off the car. “Let’s go.”

Nicola nodded, picking up her bag and opening the door. She stepped out and as she closed the door again, she heard a sheep bleating in the distance. It just seemed very English, at least from what hse had seen in the movies. Taking a deep breath, she followed Daniel up to the front door and watched as he rapped the bronze knocker.

A few moments later, the door opened and an older woman stood in the doorway. She smiled. “Hello, Daniel.”

“Dr. James,” he greeted. “Thanks for meeting with us.” 

“I’m so happy to have you. And you must be Nicola,” Dr. James said, ushering them into her house.

Nicola’s stomach did a flip flop as she stepped into the cozy kitchen. “I am. Nice to meet you,” she said.

“Can I get you some tea?” Dr. James asked, motioning to the bright red kettle on a stove Nicole guessed had once been white but had yellowed with age.

Daniel nodded but Nicola asked: “Can I just get water, please?”

“Of course,” Dr. James replied. She next pointed to a nearby table. “Please have a seat.”

Nicola sat in one of the two chairs by the table while Daniel sat on the bench against the wall. She set down her bag as Dr. James handed her a glass of water. “Tea will be ready shortly,” the older woman told Daniel.

“That’s fine,” he said before silence fell over the kitchen. It was only broken by the whistle of the kettle, which was quickly silenced by Dr. James so she could make the tea.

However, it was too loud in Nicola’s head. Many questions swirled around her mind. What had her aunt been like? Why had she become estranged from Nicola’s family? And what was the whole curse thing about?

Dr. James placed down a cup in front of Daniel. She returned with cream and sugar before joining them with her own cup. Once they both made their tea to taste, she looked up at Nicole. “I’m sure you have many questions.”

“I do,” Nicola replied. “I only heard about her a couple times but otherwise, we didn’t talk about her. Mom never even said her name.”

Dr. James nodded, looking sad but unsurprised. “Gemma stopped talking with Margaret and cut her from her life. It broke Margaret’s heart especially since they had used to be so close.”

“Why?” Nicola asked, feeling even more confused. “What exactly happened?”

“It’s a long story but it all boils down to the curse on Otterford Hall,” Dr. James replied.

That intrigued Nicola and she leaned closer. “The curse that Aunt Margaret wants me to break to inherit most of her fortune?”

Dr. James nodded. “That very one.”

“Maybe you should share the legend with Nicola and then tell her about Margaret,” Daniel suggested, sipping his tea.

“Yes,” Dr. James said, nodding. “I think that might be best. The legend starts centuries ago, in a time after King Arthur, when magic was still prominent on the island that would one day be called England…”

June 13, 2022

“The Sister Stones” Update

Filed under: journey,The Sister Stones,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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It’s been a while since I provided an update on this story so here we go.

While The Lost King has taken precedence writing wise, I’m still slowly but surely writing this story. I just have a tendency to get lost amongst the weeds. I thought I got myself out but realized I just waded right back in.

And yes, it’s still about the “Legend of the Sister Stones” chapter.

My intention for the chapter is for it to read like a fairytale, a short bedtime story for children. It keeps end up being way more in depth than that and even though I thought I got it back on track, it got away from me again.

But once again, I decided to go with it. At this point, I think I need to write everything up in order to condense it into a short fairy tale. I also will use what I’ve written throughout the story as Nicola and Daniel slowly unravel the mystery of Otterford Castle and the Sister Stones. So it won’t go to waste and will be worth it.

I am eager to get back to the main story with Nicola and Daniel. I’ve been away from them for too long and I probably need to get accustomed to writing for them again. But I’m sure that won’t take too long.

I think writing it by hand has significantly slowed me down and I do debate switching back to typing. Even going on a schedule similar to what I used for The Lost King. But I am still giving that precedence as I wrap it up and move onto round 2. I guess I’ll just have to play it by ear.

After my vacation.

Yes, I’ll be on vacation starting tomorrow and won’t be coming back until next Monday. I’m going to leave you with another excerpt from The Sister Stones for next week. I hope you enjoy it while I’m traveling back from Disney!

See you when I return!

June 9, 2022

Summer Days

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
Tags: , ,

In honor of last week being the first unofficial week of summer here in the United States.

Summer Sun

Heat.

Sunshine.

Laughter.

Barbecue.

Lemonade.

Summer had arrived.

Julie stepped out of her house and onto her back deck, sunglasses covering her eyes and a cool glass filled with lemonade in her hand. It was a beautiful afternoon and she was looking forward to getting some sun while relaxing outside.

It was the perfect summer afternoon.

And she was going to enjoy every moment of it.

Julie walked over to the lounge chair she had set up on her desk, right in the sunniest part of her backyard. There was a little table there and she set her glass on it before sitting in the lounge chair. Settling into it, she closed her eyes and just let the warm sunshine wash over her skin as she popped her headphones into her ear. Pressing play, Julie enjoyed the summer mix she created for herself and relaxed.

Music played on as her skin grew warmer under the sun’s rays. Every so often, she reached over and picked up her glass, sipping her refreshing lemonade through a straw before putting it back down. She never had to open her eyes as soon, her body started to feel as if it was floating as the music grew more distant.

She floated there, wrapped in warmth and sunshine as a soft breeze blew past her. It was perfect.

Until something landed on her stomach.

Julie sat up, moving her sunglasses up so she could see the deck better. A big beach ball rolled by her chair and she picked it up, frowning. She looked around at the three fences around her property, trying to figure out which one the ball came over.

A head popped over the fence directly in front of her, separating her yard from the house on the next block. The man was about her age and gave her a sheepish smile. “Sorry. My son got a little too enthusiastic while kicking his ball around. Did he hurt you?” he asked.

“No,” she assured him, handing him the ball back. “I was more surprised than anything.”

“Once again, I’m sorry,” he said, sighing. “James is getting used to having a smaller backyard.”

She tilted her head. “Did you move here?”

He nodded. “We just got here a couple weeks ago. This is the first time the weather has cooperated for us to enjoy the new yard.”

“I didn’t know the house sold,” Julie asked, wondering what else she had missed during the rather rainy spring. “Do you know where Carl went?”

“Nowhere.” The familiar gray-haired head belonging to Carl popped over the fence. He smiled. “This is my son, Chris. He and James have moved in with me.”

Relief filled her as she nodded. “Glad to hear it. I would miss you Carl.”

“Aww, thanks, Jules,” he said fondly. “Though I think you would miss my pool more than me.”

“I would miss you,” she assured him. “But I do love a good afternoon in your pool finished by a barbecue.”

Carl chuckled. “Well, you’re still invited over to join us. Right, Chris?”

“What?” Chris blinked a few times and she realized he had been deep in thought, though she wasn’t sure about what. He then smiled before saying: “Of course. You’re always welcome here.”

“Thank you,” Julie said, feeling grateful and hoping she got to know Carl’s family as well as she knew him. She had some idea about Chris and James from her time with Carl – and a dim recollection that Chris had gone through a bad divorce. Julie decided to stay away from that topic for now – there would plenty of time for that once she and Chris knew each other better.

“Who are you talking to?” a little voice asked. She could see tufts of black hair as she figured James started to jump to see over the fence.

Chris chuckled, disappearing for a bit before returning with a little boy with dark hair in his arms. Bright blue eyes shone as James waved at Julie. “Hi! I’m James,” he said.

“I’m Julie,” she replied. “Nice to meet you.”

“Are you coming to our barbecue?” he asked, smiling widely.

She hesitated, glancing at Carl and Chris. Both continued to smile but she saw how both their eyes widened in a moment of panic. While Julie knew she was always welcome at their barbecues, this one was not one of them.

“Not today,” she told him. “But soon. I promise.”

“Julie will be over a lot this summer, I can guarantee that,” Carl assured his grandson. “You’ll get to play with her a lot this summer. Right, Julie?”

She nodded, knowing that was true. “I look forward to it.”

Carl grinned. “Why don’t we let Julie go and we can continue with our barbecue?”

“Okay,” James said, waving at Julie. “Bye, Julie.”

She waved back at him. “Bye, James. Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you too, Julie,” Chris said, his eyes shining. “I look forward to getting to know you.”

“Me too,” she replied, trying to ignore how her stomach flip-flopped when her eyes met his.

He and Carl disappeared from the edge of the fence as she took a deep breath. She had to admit that from what she saw, Chris was good-looking. And from what Carl had told her about his son, he was an intelligent and kind-hearted man. Of course, Carl was Chris’ proud father so she knew to take everything he said with a grain of salt. But even in their short conversation, it seemed Carl hadn’t been exaggerating anything about his son.

Maybe they would have something more than friendship…

She shook her head, clearing that thought from her mind. Carl had only told her snippets but she knew that Chris’ divorce had been a bad one and his former wife had essentially waged war on him. That had to take a toll on anybody and he no doubt needed some time to himself to heal and focus on James.

Friendship was probably the best and only thing she could offer him now.

Grabbing her empty cup, Julie headed inside to make herself dinner as well. As she closed the backdoor and saw the shadows start to fill her backyard, she knew that this summer was going to be one to remember.

May 24, 2022

Game Plan

Filed under: journey,The Lost King,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
Tags: , , ,

I am thisclose to finishing the first book of The Lost King.

Well, the first draft. But that is a significant step on the path to getting it published.

So as I reach the end of the book, it’s time to come up with a game plan for the next step of the process – editing and rewriting the second draft.

One of the rewards of nearing the end of the first draft is that I have a better idea of the story I want to tell. I’ve started with a basic idea and now it is time to fine tune it into something even better.

When I started The Lost King, I had planned on telling the entire story in one book. It was only halfway through that I realized that it would need much longer for that if I wanted to give it justice. But that meant that my pacing of the story was off and that I was probably rushing in my original intent to tell A LOT of story in a short period of time. Now that I know the story will be spread out over three books, I can go back and take my time. I can develop a lot more than I was.

For starters, Alisa’s job at The Stewardship. I hardly show her at work or make it clear what she’s doing. And honestly, I didn’t really know what her daily work would be. I just assigned her a vague job that would get her to The Stewardship. But now I have a better idea and can change things as well as expand on it. Work is going to be important to the story and be tied into the main action of this part of the narrative.

I also want to explore the culture and the city a bit more. I can do that with slowing down and having Alisa experience more as well. I’m looking forward to crafting some fun things for her to do.

It’ll probably be better than some of of the scenes I have now that can slow down the story. It’s kinda weird to be working on a scene and already know you’re going to cut it. But I’ve done it with this draft. Hopefully not with the next.

This change to slow down the pacing will also help me build the relationships in Alisa’s life – with her family, her new friends and most importantly, with her two romantic possibilities. I need to build both up as possible relationships for her.

I also want to move up the titular announcement (the first book is tentatively titled “The Steward’s Announcement” but it may just end up being “The Steward”). Right now, I’m writing it at the end of the book and I realize that’s a long time to wait, though that was once again due to the pacing issues when I thought the Yule celebrations would be more of the halfway point rather than the end. But I can correct that in the second draft.

I’ve also started to plot out chapters so I have a better idea of what will happen when. There may be changes as I start the rewrites but the outline will be a good starting point.

There’s still a lot of work to be done and my summer is going to be busy with rewrites. But I hope to be able to start posting this by the end of the year as I prepare to write the first draft of the second book for NaNoWriMo. I promise to keep you updated.


My COVID symptoms have subsided and I tested negative on a viral antigen test so it looks like I beat COVID! I’m still very grateful for my vaccines and boosters, which I know played a role in helping me recover so quickly.

I hope I never have to go through that again!

See you next week!

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