A Writer's Journey

February 20, 2018

How I Celebrated Valentine’s Day

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

I know I didn’t post something for Valentine’s Day. You’d think with my main focus being on romance, I would’ve marked the holiday dedicated to it. I did…just not on this blog.

Once again, I participated in Love From OQ. What is that, you ask? Well, it probably won’t surprise you to know that it’s part of my participation with the Outlaw Queen fandom. It’s pretty much a Secret Santa but with a Valentine’s Day spin. We all signed up and someone assigned us Valentine’s. We then made contact anonymously to find out what kind of gifts they wanted and then got to work.

I was assigned someone who I actually had in a Secret Santa I participated in and was eager to write again. Though she requested angst and I was a bit wracked on an angsty idea. (I probably would’ve handled a fluffy idea a lot easier). It took me more time than I would’ve liked to figure out an idea and I went through a few before finally figuring one out.

Of course, it was eight days before Valentine’s Day when I managed to do that.

So naturally I was slightly panicked. I had only eight days to write everything and get it up. The heat was on.

What did I do? I pretty much put everything on hold and just focused on that story. And I did some research on my phone while I was at work, looking up lymphoma and its treatments to craft my story. Then I spent my nights just writing and writing, trying to get the story out.

It’s a big story, though, bigger than I anticipated and I’m still trying to get it all out. However, I did manage to get the first 10,000 words up in time for Valentine’s Day, so go me! My goal is to finish it before February is over and I think I can do it.

I just need to focus and write my ass off.

Wish me luck!

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February 5, 2018

2018: Chapter 1

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Have you ever seen those inspirational pictures where they refer to the days as pages and the year as a book of your life? Well, I have. It made me think—if each day is a page, that means each month would be a chapter. So I’ve decided to do a round up of each “chapter” of my 2018.

Let’s check out how January or “Chapter 1” went for me!

It started out pretty well though very, very cold as most of the country was gripped by a cold front. My aunt and I flew home from Virginia and I prepared to head back to work for the New Year. The first work week of January, though, was shorter than usual since a snow storm blew in on Thursday and my office was closed both that day and Friday.

A few days after that, my parents flew down to Florida to go to Walt Disney World (without me) and I had the house to myself. Unfortunately, I threw off my sleep schedule, using falling asleep for a few hours when I got home and then being up for most of the night. I managed to right myself that weekend though.

That weekend was a difficult one for me, however. It was actually difficult for the entire Outlaw Queen fandom as a FFnet watchdog group focused their attention on us thanks to someone no doubt with a grudge. Some of our most popular stories were targeted for the smut included in them and we had to make a choice between editing the stories, taking them down or risk losing everything because this group would report us for violations of the terms of service. Some chose to edit. I am in the group that chose to take the offending story down—though it will remain up on other platforms. 

But! There was a bright spot in all this mess—the fandom rallied together and decided to start moving to another platform. Hopefully the other readers who aren’t as plugged into the fandom will come with us. I know losing one small fandom won’t hurt FFnet in the slightest but it’s a symbolic victory in the end.

(I do hope to put up a blog about it eventually. However, I want to make sure to backup The Nanny and remove it before I do so. This group…can be pretty vindictive. And the original “reviewer” sent me a novel in response to one word I chose to use in my note to my readers).

Speaking of my fanfiction…I posted a Christmas flash forward to my story “Building a Family” on Little Christmas, updated “The Nanny” and “Better When I’m Dancing.” I also signed up for the Love from OQ project, which is like a Secret Santa but for Valentine’s Day. I participated last year and eagerly signed up again this year.

I’ve started to convert my OQ Christmas fic The Christmas Wish into an original novel, trying to work on it for a half hour each day. After all, it worked for The Big Project until I lost it! So far, so good. I’ve changed the names and I’ve reworked the original section so it’s less expositiony and more actiony. I’m also adding a section from Robin’s (I’m not revealing new names yet) POV as well. So that’s some positive movement on that front.

So I think that’s it for Chapter 1. Let’s see what Chapter 2 will bring!

January 22, 2018

Once Upon a Time: My Thoughts on Season 7…So Far

Filed under: off topic — mackenziew @ 1:00 am
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We’ve reached the midpoint of Once Upon a Time’s new season. The midwinter finale was December 15th and the season isn’t due to start up again until March 2nd. I’m sure the producers, writers and the network executives have a lot of things to discuss and consider as it comes time to decide if the show gets a season 8 or not.

So now should be a good time to stop and examine the season so far. Fair warning: There will be spoilers for those who haven’t seen the season yet.

For those who don’t know, the writers decided to wrap up the original storylines of Once Upon a Time with the season 6 finale. Of course, the show’s fate was also still unknown so they had to craft something that could stand as a series finale if they were cancelled but they still also wanted to try something new. They wanted to reboot the show and hopefully breath new life into it and they got the green light from ABC to do just that.

The writers have aged up Henry, now played by Andrew J. West (though Jared Gilmore showed up in the first two episodes of the season to play younger Henry in flashbacks). He’s living in Seattle as a failed writer when a young girl named Lucy (Alison Fernandez) knocks on his door and tells him that she’s his daughter. This had actually been the last scene of the season 6 finale, a parallel to Once’s pilot.

It is explained that another curse has been cast, making Henry forget about his daughter and his wife—Cinderella, another version played by Dania Ramirez. You see, there are multiple versions of our favorite fairy tales and so multiple versions of beloved characters. So Jessy Schram played one version of Cinderella and now Ramirez is playing another.

Anyway, Lucy is trying to reunite her parents so they can break the curse before her evil step-grandmother, Victoria Belfrey AKA Lady Tremaine (Gabrielle Anwar), can scatter all the cursed fairy tale characters by chasing them out of a Seattle neighborhood called Hyperion Heights.

There, Cinderella is Jacinda and she lives with Sabine AKA Tiana (Mekia Cox). Hyperion Heights also boasts a bar owned by Roni—Regina’s (Lana Parrilla) cursed identity. Hook and Rumple are there as well—cursed as partners on the police force named Rogers and Weaver, respectively. Cinderella’s stepsister Drizella (Adelaide Kane) is Ivy in Hyperion Heights and is her mother’s assistant.

Phew. I think that’s a good enough summary for now. Let’s move on, shall we?

I’ll start this part by saying that this season has been really divisive on opinions. I’ve seen people decide they don’t like it, that it’s just not the same while others like it and think it’s the shot in the arm the show needed. So pretty much what follows is my own opinion and not necessarily gospel truth.

I feel really bad for this cast. Because they are a talented and diverse group. However, TV shows normally don’t do such a radical cast change like Once did. Most of them lose and gain characters over time. So this cast faced an uphill climb—they were coming on as fresh faces after the audience lost a two-thirds of a very beloved cast. Of course people miss the actors and characters they’ve spent the past six years with, though I doubt many fans who were vocal realized the implications of the fact that they were often calling for the return of white actors on casting announcements featuring African-American or Latina actresses.

(At least, I hope they failed to realize the implications).

I feel that maybe it would’ve been best to have had the last episode of season six serve as the series finale. Then to have saved this reboot for the 2018-2019 season. It would give the audience some time to breathe and put some distance between the “old” Once Upon a Time and the “new” Once Upon a Time. This would’ve been a proper season one with a new cast and some familiar faces instead of season 7 with mostly new faces with only a few familiar ones. They could’ve stood on their own merits for a greater portion of the audience, which is something they all definitely deserve.

Someone I follow on tumblr hit the nail on the head for another point—the characters don’t feel fully developed yet. The writers always talk about capturing the feel of season one yet I don’t think they understand what that feel was.

Back in Season 1 and even Season 2, the writers took the time to flesh out the characters. While things continued to happen and move forward, we still had better understandings of the characters and connected with them. That seemed to have been forgotten over the past few seasons. I mean, do we really know why Hades was banished to the Underworld and why he wanted to conquer the world besides it’s such the stereotypical villain thing to do? He really had no backstory episode. Even Robin Hood got one. Kinda.

We have gotten a few backstory episodes—Tiana, Lady Tremaine—but not much more. It’s almost hard to connect with some characters because they haven’t been fleshed out the way they used to be. The writers are trying to jam too much plot and important things like characterization are falling by the wayside.

Which is a shame because I feel these characters could be so much more. Even characters who are a bit more developed than the others, like Ivy/Drizella. Because there were some plot holes with her backstory. If she was so close to Cecilia, Ella’s mother, why is she now desperate to gain her mother’s attention and approval? Why is her hatred for her mother born from jealousy of the devotion Lady Tremaine shows to the dead Anastasia rather than that Cecilia was driven away and Lady Tremaine took her place? And why did she turn on Ella when it was shown that they were close as girls?

There are rumors going around that Anwar and Kane won’t be on the show much longer and that their characters are going to be written out. I’m not sure how true those are but I have to agree with those that say that Tremaine/Rapunzel/Victoria’s arc is pretty much over. She’s always just been a red herring—we all assumed she was going to be the big bad, Adam and Eddy even compared her to Regina, but she was never the Big Bad. Drizella orchestrated the Dark Curse, though ultimately she got Regina to cast it, and she was being played by Mother Gothel (Emma Booth). There really isn’t much else I can see the writers doing with her.

Anwar, though, is a regular cast member, not a recurring one. While this show has a history of not using regulars to their full potential (Meghan Ory, Michael Socha, Sean Maguire) and killing one off mid-season (Michael Raymond-James), I still don’t know if it would make sense to have signed Anwar to a regular contract and then let her go halfway thought the season. It hasn’t been much of a secret that Once has had budget cuts lately, so I can’t imagine ABC would be happy to know that the production would have to continue to pay an actress no longer being used on the show.

Of course, all of this is based on rumors so it’s also just as likely that Anwar will stay around for the whole season.

I don’t really think Kane will be going anywhere, though it could be argued that Drizella’s part of the story is at its end. She was just a means to an end for Mother Gothel, who has what she really wanted all along—Tremaine’s oldest daughter Anastasia (Yael Yurman). However, I think they could still have Drizella learn and start working with the heroes. Because though the writers had set up Lady Tremaine to be Regina 2.0, Drizella really is. She has a similar backstory (sans the death of her first love and forced marriage to a man twice her age) and Kane looks like she could play Parrilla’s daughter.

(It’s still a crime that she’s not playing some secret Outlaw Queen daughter as far as my OQ shipping heart is concerned).

Anyway, yes, I think Drizella could pull off a Regina heel-face turn herself. I would love to see that.

Let’s go back to the writers’ not taking the time they need. I think the midseason finale is a perfect example of that. A lot was packed into it and it was very poorly set up. I think it was done that way to make the audience want to come back for answers but I feared all it did was confuse us. What is Zelena doing suddenly living in the other Enchanted Forest? How did she get her magic back? Why did Lady Tremaine decide to help the Resistance? How did Tiana become queen? Why did they keep the statue of Drizella in the courtyard?

The Henry/Ella relationship has also suffered from how quick everything keeps progressing. It’s almost like the writers forgot how to write a romance or are all tapped out after devoting so much attention to Captain Swan. It has been rushed and we really haven’t been given a lot of time to fall in love with the couple. Thankfully, they seem to be giving Henry and Jacinda some time to fall in love…but I’m still not feeling Henry/Ella. One episode they are just kissing for the first time, then they have Lucy and then Lucy is eight. It’s just all too fast.

Perhaps this would’ve been something that could’ve been improved if Once had been put on hiatus and then come back with a brand new season 1. The writers may have had time to work out the kinks and craft the story, going back to really learn from their mistakes and their successes like they recently said in an interview. Or at least maybe taken some time to rest and recharge the creative juices. It’s almost like they’re running on fumes and just doing the same things over and over the past couple seasons.

Hopefully, someone will realize that they are going too fast and tell them to slow down over the break. Of course, they could also be told to wrap it up as ABC pushes it closer to cancellation. Channing Dungey sounded optimistic about Once’s chances, but there are a lot of factors to take into consideration so we probably still need to prepare for the end.

Which is probably another disservice we fans—or at least me—have done to the season and the cast. I have gone into this season believing it will be the last and I know I am not alone. So I’m sure there are people who wish that they had the familiar to end the show with rather than so much new. I can still see the familiar but it still makes it difficult for me to connect with the new, believing it won’t be around next year. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that I’m not alone in that sentiment.

So, what’s the bottom line?

The bottom line is that the reboot does seem to be like a good attempt to breathing new life into the show but that it might’ve needed some distance from the old version to succeed. It also seems like the writers are falling back on old tricks and maybe aren’t willing to admit that they are tapped out for now, that maybe some time off would’ve allowed them to recharge their batteries. It may have also given them time to return to developing characters rather than relying on shocks they’ve poorly set up for.

There are still plenty of bright spots and I’m not going to break up with the show. I just hope that if this might be the end, the writers can deliver something worthy of wrapping up such a season. At the same time, I’m hoping for an abbreviated season 8 to give them time to do just that.

We’ll just have to see.

January 15, 2018

Time to Knuckle Down

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 1:00 am
Tags: ,

It’s a New Year!

Time for some new habits!

Starting today, January 15th, I will start to convert The Christmas Wish from an Outlaw Queen fanfiction into an original work with hopes of publishing it for next Christmas. I know I should probably dive right back in with the Big Project, but I feel like I would need to finish this first so I can meet my self-imposed deadline.

Then I will jump start the Big Project. I’ll let you know when.

I’ve decided to go back to my old system—a half hour a day dedicated to The Christmas Wish and then working on everything else. Which means I’ll have to figure out a new way to work on my fanfics—maybe putting them on a rotating schedule. I don’t want to neglect them.

I’ll check in every so often, I promise.

Wish me luck!

January 8, 2018

(Almost) A Week in Virginia

Filed under: off topic — mackenziew @ 1:00 pm
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Happy New Year! I know I wished you all that last week, but I wanted to repeat it. I hope you all had a great holiday week and that you ended 2017 on a good note.

I also hope you ended it some place warm because even though I was in Virginia, we were cold. I think we only got above freezing two days.

I flew down to Richmond the day after Christmas. I worked that day, running my company’s payroll for the last pay of the year. Then I hopped in my car and drove the ten minutes to the airport, leaving my car in long-term parking at Newark-Liberty International Airport.

Which is about three miles from the airport itself. I just kept driving and driving until I found the lot. Planes were landing overhead and I had to take a shuttle back to the terminals.

I got to Terminal A and breezed through security. I grabbed some food and then did some writing as I waited for my plane to show up. Our flight ended up being delayed but not by much. I think we got into the air about a half hour after we were supposed to.

Our flight was only an hour so we pretty much landed on time, though we spent some time taxiing to the gate. I hurried off the plane and met up with my parents, dismayed to find out it was just as cold in Virginia. No relief from the cold for me.

I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before as I was still packing. And then I had developed a stuffy nose that woke me up, preventing me from getting a good amount of sleep. While it hadn’t effected me while working, I was definitely tired by the time I got to the hotel. I took a shower and pretty much went to bed.

We spent Wednesday mostly shopping. Well, my parents did. I went to WalMart with them but then chilled in the room while they went elsewhere. We then met up with my sister for dinner before going to see Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

Spoiler alert: We loved it.

(If you want more information about the movie, you can check out my review/recap on my other blog, My Little Corner).

Thursday was spent at the Science Museum of Virginia, which was really fun. I learned that right now, I can’t outrun a rat, let alone a bear. I also can’t hit a baseball, but I already knew that. My hand-eye coordination is not the best. Nor is my spatial judgement.

We also watched a movie about dark matter in their giant dome theater that was narrated by Tilda Swinton. It was pretty cool but I’m afraid I got motion sickness, especially once we got to the CGI recreations of what is happening in the LHC. But then we got to see some giant renderings of planets, so that was cool.

After the movie, we then went down to the BOOST exhibit which is a bunch of cool interactive features for both children and adults. I did a bunch of them, including attempting to walk a tightrope (not very good). I also got a cool new recipe to try—peanut butter chicken. Maybe while my parents are away…

I also did an exhibit featuring yoga. My company’s annual health assessment suggested taking up yoga and I had started to consider it. So I gave some of the poses a try and I did ridiculously well at level 1 yoga. I might actually take up yoga now. I just need to get a mat—I already have access to a class since it’s offered at my Y!

We then spent the evening with my sister at her new place—she’s renting a room from a friend. Said friend has two dogs and his girlfriend has a dog, so in addition to my sister’s dog, four dogs greeted us at the door. Balto, my sister’s, was more focused on my dad and somewhat focused on my mom. Which left me at the mercy at the other three (very friendly) dogs. As a French bulldog, Rupert is now the smallest dog to jump on me. (I’ve learned that the bigger the dog, more likely it is to jump on me. You should’ve seen how big my eyes got when I realized my cousin’s Rottweiler was going to do that). My sister, mom and I went to get dinner at a nearby diner before we just chilled at the house, where boxer Maya decided to keep licking me.

Friday was another movie day. Since my sister didn’t want to see The Last Jedi, my parents and I went to go watch it instead.

Spoiler alert: I loved it. My parents were more so-so on it.

(Once again, you can check out my other blog for a review. Coming soon!)

We returned to my sister’s house and hung out with the dogs again as my mother helped her move a few things into her room. As I sat there, I was suddenly struck with everything I could’ve been doing—mostly all the writing I could’ve gotten done instead.

Eventually, we went out to get barbeque before hitting up a Michaels for items my sister needed to decorate her room. We dropped her and my father off before my mother and I drove to the airport to pick up my aunt. Then we drove back to my sister’s and picked up my father to head back to the hotel.

Saturday was probably our most eventful day—even more eventful that Thursday. We met my sister at the hotel and I drove with her to Williamsburg, listening to Pandora the entire time. We were listening to the Broadway Showstoppers channel but encountered a lot of Phantom of the Opera. So much so, she got annoyed with every Phantom song and I couldn’t help but laugh.

We had lunch at the Golden Corral before heading to Busch Gardens for Christmas Town! Every inch of the park is covered in Christmas goodies with special Christmas shows and some really good hot chocolate. There was musical retelling of the Christmas story that made you clap your hands and tap your feet. And there was a musical version of A Christmas Carol that was also pretty good as well.

My sister and I were able to do Invadr, the new roller coaster at Busch Gardens but were unable to do Verbolten. It ended up closing up because of the weather—it was too cold to run any of the rides. And it was definitely cold—but the warmest day of our time in Virginia. But by the end of the night, I could barely feel most of my body.

Night time, though, included a magical experience. They lit up the park in a ton of lights—putting them everywhere, including the flumes of Escape from Pompeii, since no one was going to do a water ride anyway. There was even a show called O Tannenbaum where they coordinated the lights on a giant tree in Oktoberfest to blink in time to a medley of Christmas songs. It was quite breathtaking. We also wore large plastic Christmas lights that lit up around our necks after the sun went down.

We called it a night and the next day was New Year’s Eve. It was a lazy day spent mostly in the hotel, broken only by Mass and dinner at Cracker Barrell. Still, we were much warmer than the people in Times Square. We rang in the New Year and I hope 2018 will be better than 2017.

And then I flew back to New York with my aunt on New Year’s, though we only got home about an hour before my parents. Still, it was better than seven hours in the car.

So, that’s how I ended 2017. Now I’m looking forward to diving into 2018, even if we started with a cold snap and a snow storm. How about you?

January 1, 2018

My 2018 Anticipations

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

Happy New Year! I hope 2018 is a lot less stressful than 2017 turned out to be for everyone!

As I’ve done for the past few years, I’m sharing my anticipations for 2018. I don’t like the word “resolution” and feel that’s just setting myself for failure. But if I anticipate something…well…that’s different.

So here are my anticipations for the year:

  • Work on The Christmas Wish with aim of self-publishing by Christmas
  • Jump start the Big Project and work for self-publishing in 2019
  • Finish “Better When I’m Dancing” and start to turn my Soldier Verse drabbles into a proper story
  • Work on some original pieces
  • Network more with authors, both in and out of fandom
  • Continue my regular posting schedule on this blog
  • Read 13 books this year
  • Review more books on my other blog

And on a personal note:

  • Exercise more and lose some weight

So those are my anticipations. Here’s a toast to 2018 and wish that it’s not as crazy as 2017 was.

Please share your own anticipations for 2018 in the comments. I’d love to read them!

    December 25, 2017

    Christmas Lights

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

    It was cold.

    She rubbed her hands together as they were getting cold despite the gloves she wore. Her nose had lost feeling a while ago and she could feel her body trembling. Yet she waited, knowing it would be worth it in the end.

    “I’ve brought hot chocolate,” he said, holding out a thermos. “You want some?”

    “Thank you.” She took it, smiling at the man. Like her, he came up here every Christmas Eve. She never asked him his name and he never asked for hers. They just sat on the hoods of their cars, watching the city below.

    He watched as she poured some hot chocolate into a cup and then took the thermos from her. Instead of going back to his car, though, he lingered. “May I join you?”

    “Umm, sure…” She scooted over a bit so he had some room to sit on her hood.

    Their shoulders brushed as they watched the sun set over the hills. “Almost time,” he said.

    She nodded, sipping the hot chocolate. “This is good. Thanks again for it.”

    “You’re welcome,” he replied before they fell into an awkward silence again.

    Setting aside her hot chocolate, she held out her hand. “I’m Noelle, by the way.”

    He chuckled. “Noelle? How appropriate.”

    “Thank you.” When he didn’t say anything else, she leaned closer. “And you are…?”

    “Kris,” he replied. “Like Kris Kringle.”

    She giggled, trying to hide it behind her hand. “Sorry. It’s probably not funny.”

    “No, it kinda is. I’ve come to accept it.” He winked at her and she flushed.

    “I get it, though,” she said. “I’m a Christmas baby and I was teased mercilessly.”

    “Christmas baby as in…?”

    She nodded. “Tomorrow is my birthday.”

    “Is it as bad as I’ve heard?”

    “I think it depends on your parents,” she replied. “Mine are pretty good at trying to separate the two, so it’s not as sucky. But I’ve never had a birthday with my friends on my birthday. When I was little, that’s all I wanted. I even asked Santa for it.”

    He smiled. “I doubt he could give you that.”

    “No, he couldn’t, though he did leave a very nice apology letter and a doll wrapped in birthday wrapping paper,” she said.

    “Santa was considerate.”

    She laughed. “Yes, he was.”

    “Today’s my birthday,” Kris said, sipping his own hot chocolate. “I’ve escaped my birthday party.”

    “What? Why?” She set down her drink, focused on him now.

    “Because everyone gets overly cheery in trying to pretend that my birthday isn’t Christmas Eve and after awhile, I need a break from all the attention, you know?”

    Noelle nodded. “I guess so.”

    “So, I come here and watch the lights with you,” he continued. “Then I go and get a drink at a nearby bar with my friends.”

    “That actually sounds great.”

    Kris nodded before looking out over the little town they called home. “It’s about to start.”

    They both fell silent as church bells rang to welcome the evening. Houses began to light up, block by block, until the whole town was illuminated in bright reds, greens, blues, yellows and whites. She could make out some Santas as well as several reindeer and an army of snowmen. There were also a few Nativities and a bunch of stars shining below them.

    It was a Christmas Eve tradition though no one knew why everyone started to wait for the bells to ring to turn on their lights. Noelle had discovered how beautiful they were from that particular overlook and that’s when she had met Kris. And now they were on their way to becoming friends.

    “Beautiful,” he said.

    She smiled. “It is. People are definitely missing out.”

    “I agree,” he replied. “But I hope they don’t catch on. I like this being our own private thing.”

    “Me too,” Noelle agreed.

    Kris hopped off her hood. “Well, now that we know each other’s names and that our birthdays are so close together, care to join me for my birthday drink?”

    “I’d love to.” She hopped off as well. “Where are we going?”

    “Just follow me. It’s not far away.” He headed toward his car.

    Noelle smiled before catching sight of his thermos. She held it up. “Do you want this?”

    He grinned, leaning against his door. “Give it to me at the bar. That way I’ll know you will follow me.”

    “Don’t trust me?” She leaned against her car again, grinning at him as well.

    “I do,” he said. “But a little insurance never hurt, right?”

    Noelle laughed and placed the thermos in her car. “See you there.”

    He nodded, getting the car. Together, they turned on their lights and soon pulled away from the spot. Behind them, the Christmas lights twinkled and beckoned them to a night they would never forget.

    December 18, 2017

    Year in Review: 2017

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

    So, we’re at the end of the year. Next week, Christmas, I have a special short story I wrote last year but missed Christmas so I set it up for this year. And then after that is New Year’s, which will have my anticipations for 2018.

    For now, though, I would like to review how 2017 went for me. Let’s start with my anticipations for the year:

    Continue to post regularly here on WordPress.

    I’d say I’ve been pretty successful at this. Maybe I could’ve been better, but overall, I succeeded.

    Post a flash fiction a day on my tumblr.

    I tried but I ended up falling off sometime around the mid-year. I just ended up focusing on other things—like my Soldier Verse prompts.

    Work on the Big Project and self publish it by the end of the year.

    I’ve written about this lately. You all know what happened to the Big Project and my plans for it in the New Year.

    Work on the Christmas Project and self publish it by Christmas.

    Yeah. Didn’t get to do this.

    Get back on a regular fanfiction posting schedule.

    Where’s a laughing gif when you need one? I think I even threw myself off more this year due to a switch in my work schedule.

    Network with more writers, both in fandom and out of it.

    I met a few writers—both online and in person. So I guess that counts? They were mostly fandom, though, but I’m not complaining about that…

    Continue to try to read a book a month.

    Well, I didn’t really succeed with once a month. However, my goal for the year was 12 books and I surpassed it with 13. So I’m going to count this as a success.

    Write more book reviews for my blog.

    I’m on track to have 18 reviews for this year, which is equal to the amount I published in 2014. I probably could’ve done more—maybe gone back and reviewed a few older books—but I’m impressed with this amount.

    So my 2017 wasn’t too bad. I discovered a new Outlaw Queen universe—the Soldier Verse—and participated in a bunch of fandom related writing events. Those were definitely fun!

    In two weeks, I’ll set my anticipations for 2018! Stay tuned!

    December 5, 2017

    My Favorite Holiday Movies

    Filed under: off topic — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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    It’s December! I know Hallmark has been showing Christmas movies since right before Halloween because…well…that’s what they do but let’s talk holiday movies now that we’re closer to the actually holidays.

    We all have our favorites—the movies we have to see before December ends. For me, the list includes a blend of old classics and new ones.

    So here’s my top ten…this year.

    1. Love, Actually

    Who doesn’t love this movie? I had a friend in college who hated rom coms and after he watched it with his girlfriend, came back and admitted he loved it. There’s just something so appealing about these intertwined stories about love and Christmas that has lasted for over a decade. It also boasts an amazing cast—Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Alan Rickman, Andrew Lincoln, Keira Knightley and so many more!

    This year, most of the cast reunited to do a short special catching the fans up with what their characters had been up to since the movie ended. You should check it out if you haven’t yet.

    2. The Holiday

    I absolutely love this rom com starring Kate Winslet, Jack Black, Cameron Diaz and Jude Law. Diaz and Law have great chemistry and Winslet is an absolute delight to watch on screen as she plays a woman taking control of her life again. And it has shots of sunny California and snowy England. It’s the best of both worlds!

    3. A Princess for Christmas

    This is a popular Hallmark Channel movie that launched a genre of its own—regular girl falls in love with royal, is awkward but endearing trying to fit in at court and lives happily ever after. This one stars Katie McGrath and Outlander’s Sam Heughan and the two have amazing chemistry. You need to check it out if you haven’t.

    4. A Charlie Brown Christmas

    How can anyone hate this classic? Come on.

    5. Santa Claus is Coming to Town

    There’s just something sweet and nostalgic about stop motion. And this is a great tale about how Santa Claus came to be—abandoned baby taken in by kindly toymakers, a man who wants to give presents out of the kindness of his heart, a mean dictator who could represent communist dictators, and a beautiful schoolteacher who learns that some rules may be meant to be broken. The Winter Warlock is pretty cool too.

    It also provided me some inspiration that has gotten me through a few hard times: “You put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking across the floor. You put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking out the door.”

    6. Once Upon a Christmas/Twice Upon a Christmas

    These two are considered on entry because they are linked—one’s a sequel to the other. They are more Hallmark staples starring Kathy Ireland and Touched by an Angel’s John Dye. She’s Santa’s daughter and when it seems that there are more naughty children than good, she goes to Dye’s family to try to turn their behavior around and make them want to celebrate Christmas again. It works and soon love is in the air…but she also has to stop her evil sister from ruining Christmas forever.

    The sequel deals with the evil sister once again trying to destroy Christmas and sell the North Pole to Donald Trump (!) while Kathy Ireland tries to find out who she is, having forgotten everything due to actions she took in the first movie. It’s a romantic follow up to the first movie and has a pretty interesting plot. And I love both of them.

    7. Rudolph’s Shiny New Year

    Over the years, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer hasn’t really held up for me. Everyone in it is pretty much a jerk—Santa included—and it makes me mad that everyone just kinda gets a pass in the end. But I do love this sequel, where Rudolph needs to save the New Year when Baby New Year runs away because people were jerks and laughed at the ears he no doubt would grow into. Rudolph jumps around the islands where every year goes to, meeting Ben Franklin, a knight and a caveman. There’s also a whale that helps him too. It’s a lot of fun…even if I’m just realizing that there aren’t really any female characters.

    Geez.

    8. Mickey’s Christmas Carol

    This was a special made in the 1980s, just ahead of the Disney Renaissance that started with The Little Mermaid. It stars Scrooge McDuck as Ebenezer Scrooge and follows the classic Christmas story as he learns the true meaning of Christmas. Donald is his nephew Fred, Mickey is Bob Cratchit, Goofy is Marley, Jiminy Cricket is the Ghost of Christmas Past, Willie the Giant is the Ghost of Christmas Present and Pete is the Ghost of Christmas Future. It’s a cute little cartoon and I love it.

    (Fun Fact: It’s the first official appearance of Wayne Allwine as Mickey Mouse).

    9. The Santa Clause

    The sequels were good but there’s just something endearing about the very first one, where workaholic dad Tim Allen accidentally kills Santa and therefore has to become Santa. Watching as he transforms into the jolly old elf and how it transforms his life is heartwarming and hysterical.

    10. The Christmas List

    My parents actually got me hooked on this one but I don’t think it’s aired in recent years. Mimi Rogers plays a mousy mall worker with a nose for perfumes who decides to submit a Christmas list to Santa’s mailbox. She’s surprised when it starts to come true—leading her to a possible new romance and new career opportunities.

    So those are my top ten Christmas movies. What are yours?

    November 27, 2017

    NaNoWriMo 2017 Wrap Up

    Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 1:00 am
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    I know there’s still almost a week left but I’m calling it now: I’m not winning NaNoWriMo this year. And it won’t be a record breaking year either.

    I’m okay with that.

    This year just wasn’t my year. I never really felt either of my stories. I thought I was excited about both but nothing really ever took off. My second attempt just seems too out of character for Regina and I’m not sure I can salvage it—as a fanfiction. I think it might work as an original story, though.

    I’ll have to see.

    Not feeling my options were a big reason why I’m not going to win. I know that. I did finish an 11k one shot for this year’s Outlaw Queen Advent Calendar but that didn’t have anything to do with it (except be the reason why I had no writing to add on Friday). I had the same thing last year but still managed to write a lot then—but I really was into my project last year.

    Maybe next year will be better. And maybe I’ll return to an original work then. We’ll see.

    How was your NaNo?

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