A Writer's Journey

May 10, 2021

Changes Ahead?

Filed under: writing,journey — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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My boss called me the other day. Like many companies across the US, we’re struggling to find staff willing to come back to work and the staff we do have is stretched pretty thin. She asked if I would be okay with covering the front desk at one of our branches until we could find someone to cover that shift and I agreed. Times are tough and we all need to pitch in. And I know this isn’t going to be a permanent thing because of my main job – they’re going to have to pull me back sooner rather than later.

(And based on a conversation with my manager, she seemed to be under the impression I wouldn’t be doing this more than a month but we’ll see).

I would be covering four hours in the late afternoon/early evening. So I would have to adjust a few things. I have been working on getting up earlier so that would give me a few hours before heading in to work and to get some writing done – though I am getting permission to bring my laptop with me but that’s to work. (Though I may still try to get some writing done while on it. I’ll have to see).

I’m already prepared for my May totals to go down as I’ll be on vacation next week – which is why you’re getting the new Chapter 1 of The Sister Stones then. But I hope covering this shift doesn’t drop my totals even more.

But if it does, it will be a momentary blip – I should have a better understanding of a timeline later today but I have been given the impression that it may only be for the rest of May, so things should go back to “normal” for June. I’ll have to see.

Though it did give me a great way to begin this post. COVID numbers are going down and more things are opening up. Broadway is scheduled to return this fall and New York City is slowly becoming itself again. An end to this pandemic is growing closer and closer and that’s making me think more and more about what will happen we get back to “old normal.”

Because I know it’s coming. My office is not in a rush to get back into our old offices. I think for now working from home is working for us and we’re probably going to keep doing that for as long as possible just to be safe. Right now, I am not expecting us to return until 2022 but I wouldn’t be too surprised if it ends up being in the late fall.

Which means I’m going to have to prepare to adjust my routine. And all the writing I have been able to get done will start to dwindle as I go back into the office and resume commuting again. I’m going to have to figure what I want to do, especially once we start to target a specific return timeline. My plan is to hopefully start increasing my time in the office incrementally so I can adjust to being back in the office. That should also help me start to slowly adjust my writing routine.

Of course, I’m still working on cutting down the number of fanfics I’m writing but it’s not really working right now. I just keep getting more ideas.

I think I have a problem. I mean, on one hand, it’s a good problem, but on the other hand, I’m trying to consolidate and focus more on my long running stories. They deserve and need more love.

But I’m still working on it and staying hopeful I can reduce the number of fics I’m working on by the end of the year. It’s just another thing we’ll just have to see about.

However, I’m already starting to figure out how to adjust my schedule for once I return to working in the office full time. One thing I’m considering is removing Sundays from my usual fanfic schedule and using it to work on my original works (with a couple additional fanfics) instead. It won’t be the same but it’s better than nothing. I can even make that the day I transfer whatever I’ve written for The Sister Stones in my notebook to a Google doc to that day.

That’s one idea. Maybe it’s the idea I’ll go with or maybe things will be different in about six months so I’ll need to figure out something else. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past fourteen months, it’s how to just roll with it.

I hope everyone has a great week! And please don’t forget to check out my Patreon for even more content! While you’re there, please consider supporting me.

Thank you!

May 3, 2021

Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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The other day I tweeted this:

tweet 1

Earlier that day, a commercial came on for a website that allows you to do interior design. And it made me think of all the time I spent last fall researching the perfect house for a story I was writing – what was supposed to be my Outlaw Queen Advent story. It was ballooning and I knew it was not going to be done on time so I abandoned it and switched it up, coming up with Last Christmas instead.

But it made me think about everything else I’ve researched over the years and then ended up not using.

Like how I spent months researching the medieval period for The Wedding Game and that’s pretty much been abandoned. And I’ve decided that if I do reboot it, it would likely be moved to a Victorian setting.

Doing research can be tedious or it can be fun, with really no in between. It can be tedious if it slows down your flow while writing because you have to look something up to continue writing, especially if you need to know if the entire plot you’ve just come up with will work.

Then there are times that research is fun. Where you keep clicking on links and learning more and more about the topic. Or you read something that makes you Google something else, building more and more knowledge. Like, how I somehow ended up learning about medieval tests for pregnancy for The Wedding Game. It never really played a part but ended up being used in my Outlaw Queen fic Crown My Heart.

You never know where the knowledge you gain will end up!

So I encourage people to fall down research rabbit holes. They lead to some amazing places and you get a whole bunch of new knowledge you may not have otherwise gained. And you never know when something may come in handy.

I hope everyone has a great week!

And don’t forget to check out my Patreon here!

April 26, 2021

So What is Happening With The Sister Stones?

Filed under: journey,The Sister Stones,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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Last week, I wrote about not being happy with what I’ve written in several fanfics and having to scrap several paragraphs, whole scenes or even chapters to try and do better. And in that, I said I would talk about The Sister Stones in its own post this week.

Well, here it is.

The Sister Stones is a story I’ve started writing based on the following prompt:

Writing-Prompt_thumb.png

My first entry on it can be found here.

That was supposed to be the start of the story and then I continued on, getting lost when two characters started to fight and my poor main character was stuck with no escape. I managed to end it but I just wasn’t happy with it.

So I started over.

Again.

One of the reasons it took me so long to get that post out was that I kept rewriting it and rewriting it. I didn’t know exactly how to start it and had ended up having now three false starts. Here’s hoping the fourth time’s the charm.

This is an interesting situation for me to be in. Usually I am good at having a beginning and an end and then struggle with the middle part. This is the first time I’ve had a middle and an end but struggled to start it. But I think I’ve got it now.

Let’s go over my different beginnings:

There was the one that started with Nicola losing her job and going home to catch her fiancé with her best friend. But I decided to scratch that and have that revealed over the course of the narrative.

And then there was the one that started with Nicola on the plane heading to the UK. She thinks over how she got there and then gets off, meeting up with Daniel – our male main character. They then head out to their final destination by car. But I didn’t think my character would get into a car with a man she just met in a strange country, so I scrapped that as well.

The beginning that I posted, as you can go back to read, starts with Nicola arriving at the castle in question. What wasn’t in the post was how she ends up caught in the fight between two characters, Louise and Ed, before being rescued by Daniel.

So what’s changed now? Well, now Nicola arrives at a bed and breakfast rather than the castle. She is going to get settled in and then go meet Daniel, who informs her about her great-aunt’s will. And then we’ll get to the reveal that she’s inherited not only her aunt’s house but also a castle.

I’m going on vacation in a couple weeks – I’m actually leaving my house and I’m going to go lie on beach. That seems safe enough and I am vaccinated now. (But I will still have masks on me all the time). So I think while I’m on vacation, I’ll set up a post that features the new beginning to The Stone Sisters. I hope you all check it out!


I also hope you check out the sneak peek of Unexpected Adventures I have up on my Patreon. Please consider supporting me there!

See you all next week!

April 19, 2021

Displeased

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 2:00 pm
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I’ve hit something of a rut lately. I can write but then I’m not happy with what I’ve written. And so I’ve had to scrap it and start over.

(Note: By “scrap,” I mean that I usually copy and paste the parts I want to write over into a document I have called “scraps.” Never delete, kids. You never know when something you wrote for one project can be used in another).

For starters, I’m struggling with the newest chapter of my Outlaw Queen fic A Helping Hand. I want it to be slow burn romance but the characters are being a bit difficult, trying to rush things a bit. I’m trying to slow it down and find a way to keep the animosity going for a bit longer. I had to scrap a part about Regina getting pneumonia and replaced it with one where she gets unbearable pain. But I had to change that because she was being too nice, in my opinion, and wanted her to be even more prickly toward Robin.

Hopefully I keep this version.

Then there’s the wedding night chapter of The Christmas Cottage II. But this problem is a recurring one of mine – Robin and Regina tend to get chatty during sex scenes. Then when I go to edit, it’s more dialogue than sex. So I’ve had to go back to the drawing board and keep them focused on the task at hand.

(It never helps that for some reason I find myself writing sex scenes for multiple stories at the same time. It’s never spaced out).

Going back to last month, I started to edit a chapter of  Better When I’m Dancing: The Surprise when I realized that I needed to rework it. I didn’t feel like Regina asking for Robin to hang out backstage with her was in character so I changed it so that he was just in the audience. But that required a lot of other changes, so I ended up rewriting a lot of the chapter.

On. And on. And on.

(The Sister Stones is going to be the subject of next week’s post. Because that has been a little crazy).

I’m hoping it’s just a phase. Maybe I need a break and a chance to refresh myself. Now that I’m fully vaccinated, I’m going to spend a week on a beach in a few weeks. Maybe that will be just what I need to recharge my batteries.

Or maybe this phase will just end. I really hope it just ends.

I guess we’ll see how this week goes.


Yesterday, I did a fun Q&A session on my Patreon. You can check it out by supporting me for just $1 a month.

April 12, 2021

On the Verge of Tomorrow

Filed under: off topic,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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I am a night owl.

You probably know that by now as I’m sure I’ve written about it before. I love the hours between sunset and sunrise, how quiet the world is and how I can just relax. The time is mine and no one else’s.

This past week we’ve had a string of really nice days. We’re actually having a spring this year rather than going straight from winter to summer like we’ve done a lot in the past. So I’ve opened my bedroom window a few times to get some fresh in and enjoy the beautiful weather. And I usually leave it open until I take my shower, usually after the 11 PM news. When I go to grab my pajamas, I then head to the window and close it. But right before I do, I take a few moments to admire the view outside my window (and take a couple breaths of fresh air).

My block sits higher than the block behind us so I can either look down into my neighbor’s yards and see what they are doing or I can look over their roofs to see beyond my neighborhood. With the trees not yet in bloom, I can see right past the Arthur Kill and to the lights of New Jersey. I’m pretty sure it’s a refinery but all those lights look so beautiful against the darkness of the night, all beckoning to me.

And in those moments, I can’t help but dream.

To me, nights hold the most promise of tomorrow at two main times of the year. The first is during the holidays, when everyone is focusing on wrapping up the year that was and looking forward to the year that will be.

The second time is fast approaching. It’s those first few nights of spring where it stays warm rather than cooling down after sunset. When you step outside and realize that summer is almost upon you and there is promise of days of fun that then extend well into the night because it’s just so nice.

(Of course, mosquitoes usually then ruin everything. Stupid mosquitoes).

But there is absolutely something about summer nights, isn’t there?

With more and more people receiving the COVID vaccine and Biden’s goal of us having a normal 4th of July, I’m remaining more and more hopeful about actually having a summer this year – though hopefully taking advantage of the fact that I will likely continue working from home through it.

(Though I need to research how I can actually see my laptop screen in the sunshine so I can work outside).

But I am thinking of more than just this summer. I don’t know if I will ever take a summer night full of activity and people for granted ever again. So I am looking forward to all those possibilities, of those memories waiting to be made and fun to be had.

And those memories, those summer nights, could be the basis for a story, a chapter, a scene, a sentence. You never know. But it will be nice to get some more experiences and see what inspires me.

We’re almost there. So roll up your sleeve and get a vaccine, wear a mask, wash your hands and continue to be careful. Let’s bring an end to this pandemic rather than a fourth wave. We’re so close. I know we can do it.


Reminder: You can find more content on my Patreon! Please check it out!

April 5, 2021

Reading Challenge 2021: Q1 Update

Filed under: off topic — mackenziew @ 8:00 pm
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Happy April everyone!

So this year, I set myself the goal to read a book a month for a total of 12 books in 2021. With the first three months of the year behind us, I think it’s time to check in!

How am I doing? So far, so good! We’ve completed three months and I’ve read three books so far!

Let’s do a quick recap. I’d link to my reviews of them but I’m behind so just links to their pages on Goodreads for now.

(more…)

March 29, 2021

Let’s Try a Writing Prompt

Filed under: journey,The Sister Stones,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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I was staring at this blank blog post and wondered what I wanted to do. So I decided to check a writing prompt generator. I found this one: Writing Prompt Generator | 1,000 Fiction Story Ideas (servicescape.com). I clicked on “fantasy romance” and it gave me 24 prompts. There were several good ones, but I liked this one the best:

Writing Prompt

So I’m going to give it a try! Clearly this prompt really isn’t meant for a short story, so I’m just going to write snippets for it. Maybe one day I will turn it into a proper story.

I hope you enjoy it!

(more…)

March 22, 2021

Handwriting vs. Typing

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

I’ve been writing this blog so long, I’ve honestly forgotten what I have or haven’t written about. One day I should go through past blogs and maybe follow up or comment on a few of them. That would be fun for me at least. I hope it would be fun for you as well.

But that’s also a start for me to apologize – if I’ve covered this before, I apologize. However, I may be going about this differently so maybe it won’t feel like a rehash.

Let’s go!

You’ll notice that I didn’t have a post for March 8th. And there is a reason for this. I opened liveblogger and had a blank blog post staring back at me. And I had absolutely no clue what to write about.

So I decided to go to prompt generator and get something to write a quick short story. But the one I went to gave me some really good prompts – but none were really good for a short story.

Did I click out and go find a short story prompt generator?

Of course not!

I found a prompt that I really, really liked and started to write it. My goal was to have part of it up by the following Monday and make it something of a running thing – keep working on it in the background and whenever I couldn’t think of something to write, I’d just post the piece. And the rest of that is my goal, I just missed my deadline of last Monday.

Now my new deadline is next Monday and to work on it through the week so I don’t have to worry about the post. I usually work on these posts during the weekend but this Saturday I’m scheduled to get my second dose of the Moderna vaccine. And from what I understand, the second dose can knock you out for a day or so. I’m expecting to be out of commission on Sunday so I want to have something ready to go.

By now you must be thinking – what does all of this have to do with the topic at hand?

I’m getting there – that was just some background information.

So, even I thought to myself – Jesus, Allie, another story? Don’t you have enough? And I was like “Clearly not, Allie.” But that still left a problem about finding time to write it. I debated whether it would be a Word doc or a Google doc and, once again, when I would write it. I’m already juggling too many documents between my original stories and fanfics.

(No, I have not done a very good job at starting to finish stories and slim down the amount I’m working on).

Usually, I type my stories but for this one, I’m itching to actually write it out in a notebook and then type it up later. And that solves my problem. I can write it in the notebook when I have some spare minutes and then devote an hour every Saturday to typing it up. So I’m going to pick up a notebook today and get to work.

It’s not often I get the urge to handwrite a story. I do prefer to type. I think I’ve adjusted to how long paragraphs and pages really are in Word vs. how they may appear in a notebook. And I love the ability to edit and save things for scraps if I decide to change things up.

But every so often, I get the itched to actually handwrite something. I love the feel of the pen gliding across the page, the ink sinking into the paper as the words flow from me. And I love the crinkle of pages laden with that ink as I flip through them. Quickly flipping through pages filled with words just feels differently than scrolling past a long white documents with black words on it. It feels like a real accomplishment.

So I’m looking forward to writing this story in my notebook. And I’m eager to share the start of it with you next week. I hope you check it out.


Don’t forget to check out my other material on my Patreon! If you like it, please consider supporting me.

Thank you!

March 17, 2021

It’s Been One Year

Filed under: off topic — mackenziew @ 8:00 pm
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This was supposed to come out on Tuesday but when I looked it over, I was not pleased with it. So I decided to rewrite it.

Tuesday, March 16th was the last day of business as usual at my YMCA and the last day I had a “regular” day of work. My calendar on my desk is still set to March 2020. I haven’t bothered to check off any days or change the month.

At first, it was because I was certain I would return to my office before 2020 was over and I would just catch up then. It would be a fresh start.

Now, it’s mostly symbolic. Yes, time has moved on but everything still seems frozen at March 2020. And once we can start moving forward with a new normal, then I’ll finally toss that calendar and start fresh with a new one.

I was talking with my boss on Tuesday and we were discussing someone’s length of service. I said they had been there since 2019 before catching myself and saying they had started in 2021 so they were there for almost three years. We both agreed it didn’t feel like it and that like 2020 didn’t count. It was such an anomaly, it’s hard to count it as existing in our business years.

Everything feels different. I had to go up on the step ladder the other day to check for something on a high shelf. I was fine since I was wearing my sneakers but couldn’t help but remember a “normal” Tuesday when I would’ve likely been in a dress and would have taken off my heels to get on the step ladder. Now, it feels like a perpetual “casual Friday” as I’m usually in a nice shirt, jeans and sneakers when I’m in the office.

But as I said in an earlier post, I do believe we’re taking steps in the right direction. We’ve slowly been reopening and slowly have brought people back. And we’re talking about summer camp. All of these are positive things. I’m not sure if we’ll be back in the office before 2022 but I can see a return date looming in the future.

And there are other bright spots that show this year is going to be different from last year.

Last year, I celebrated my birthday in quarantine with just my parents and my aunt. This year, my sister is able to come over as well as a couple friends – we’re all vaccinated and still a small group. So yay for a little party!

Last year, we had to cancel our Disney trip. This year, we’re aiming to go in the beginning of December. While Disney has made it clear we will need to wear masks, we have no problem with that. And we hope things will be safer as more and more vaccines become available.

Last year, all conventions were cancelled or went virtual. This year…well, most conventions are still virtual and I’m not entirely sure we will be where we need to be for in person conventions. My convention in Paris has been postponed to November and while that seems somewhat realistic, I still wouldn’t be surprised if it got pushed back to 2022 just because of border issues or a fourth wave.

We still don’t have a lot of answers and it seems we will never get ahead of COVID. But we have more answers than we did last year and we appear to be in a better position this year. There’s a light at the end of this very long tunnel and I am going to keep racing toward it.

How about you? What was this time last year like for you? How has your life changed? Do you see things improving? Let me know in the comments below!

March 1, 2021

A Step in the Right Direction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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