A Writer's Journey

November 10, 2017

Starting Over (NaNoWriMo Edition)

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 1:00 am
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Yes, I decided to scrap the project I was working on and start all over on a new one.

Why?

I just wasn’t feeling my original project. To be honest, I had been waffling for most of the month so far. And keep in mind, we’re barely ten days in. But I couldn’t come up with a better idea so I decided to power through it.

Then came Tuesday. I was trying to find something to watch and saw that Hallmark Channel was airing A Princess for Christmas. I had seen it a couple days earlier but it was the only good thing, so I watched it again. And a couple days ago, I caught “Crown for Christmas,” another Hallmark Christmas movie.

It hit me hard. I was going to do “Crown for Christmas” but with an Outlaw Queen twist. Robin would be the hotel worker who meets the queen of a small European nation (Regina) and is then recruited to help care for her son—just as a tutor rather than a governess. Or whatever the male version would be.

So I’m doing that now. And it’s definitely going better than my original idea. Always goes to show that sometimes it pays to take risks.

Wish me luck!

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November 5, 2017

Starting Over

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 11:00 pm
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Okay, I’m sure you know by now that my faithful laptop Old Blue died on me this past September and that I lost almost everything on the hard drive. So I’m now saving everything on my OneDrive account.

I’m sure you probably also remember me working on something I cryptically called my “Big Project.” Guess what was not saved on OneDrive?

Yeah.

So now all that work is gone. I mean, I’m not back completely at square one since the “Big Project” is me converting one of my Outlaw Queen fanfictions into an original novel. At least I have a baseline to start from again.

There are a lot of questions, though, I need to ask myself. Well, there is one big question I’ve been asking myself for several months now:

Do I recreate the extensive rewrites and additional material I initially created when I first started on the “Big Project”?

I’ve really been trying to figure this one out for several months now. I wrote up a lot of new material for the Big Project but I want to keep it under 100,000 words as that is a bit wordy for a novel. And I also figured that people like the original enough—did I really need the new material?

Then I think about some of the stuff I added. A lot of the early part of the Big Project was written from the Main Female Character (MFC)’s point of view and then later on, I added the Main Male Character (MMC)’s. The additional material added some of his perspective earlier. I would like to keep that.

This might end up being a compromise. I try to keep the word count down by sticking as close to my original fanfic as possible but adding some new bits to flesh out the MMC more.

Well, I have some time to figure it out. I first want to get through NaNoWriMo and then I’ll restart the Big Project yet again.

October 23, 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017: It’s Coming!

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
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Holy crap, October is almost over! The end of the year always seems to fly by, doesn’t it? Not the dreary winter months of January, February and March but the fun months—Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas! (Come on, that’s what we really think when we hear October, November and December if you’re American).

It also means that NaNoWriMo is around the corner. Once again, I will be participating. And once again, I will be using it to write my Outlaw Queen Christmas fic.

So, what is it about? Glad you asked!

(more…)

October 16, 2017

So What Happened to My Stories?

A couple weeks ago, I posted about how my laptop Old Blue died. I wrote that I was waiting to see if the IT guy at work could salvage anything off the hard drive. The answer is in:

No.

So, yes. Everything that hadn’t been on OneDrive is lost. And that ended up being a lot.

As I said, lesson learned. I’ve been looking into an external hard drive to be sure I have a backup though I’ve started saving a lot more to OneDrive. I’m not going to lose all of that hard work again.

How much work, you ask? Well…

(more…)

October 9, 2017

Help! I’ve Been Bitten by the Holiday Bug!

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
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I know, I know. It’s October. I should be focused on Halloween. Trust me, in many ways, I am. I’m participating in Spooky OQ, where I’m posting Halloween-inspired Outlaw Queen ficlets for the first thirteen days of October (since this month has a Friday the 13th). And I’m writing a Halloween story.

So why have I been bitten by the holiday bug?

Work.

I created my Holidays 2017 folder on my work computer back on September 9th. Mostly this is because I have to do a lot of ordering by Halloween in order to ensure I get everything I need for our holiday celebrations by December. This include awards for years of service for employees as well as gifts for our board members. So choices have to be made…pretty much now.

Right now, I’m waiting for confirmation from our branches about the years of service awards. That should be coming in soon so I can get lists and templates together to send to the place where we get our awards from.

A couple weeks ago, I went through Land’s End to find some ideas for board gifts as well as looked at some baskets like the one we sent them last year. If we go with the baskets, we’ve got time. If we got with Land’s End…the order needs to be in by Halloween, so my senior leadership needs to agree on something soon.

Then my manager called our senior executive assistant in and started to discuss holiday plans with us. We’re planning as if we might be able to throw a holiday party for the staff (depending on the budget) and then also planning our office outing. Right now, we’re leaning toward doing the same thing we did last year—bowling party. We all had a lot of fun, spending about three hours bowling and eating really good food. There was access to the bar but I chose not to have a drink as I didn’t think I enough time would pass before I had to drive home, even if all I had was one drink.

Still, I had a lot of fun without alcohol. And I’m sure we’ll have a lot of fun again this year.

How is the holiday bug then affecting me? Well…

I’ve already started playing my holiday playlist on my iPod. Not all the time, but I’ve listened to a few songs here or there.

And of course, it’s affecting me when it comes to writing—though I think this might be more positive than “I can’t believe I’m focused on Christmas before Halloween.”

(See? I brought this blog back around to my writing at last).

NaNoWriMo is approaching in less than a month. Once again, I’ve decided to use it to write my Christmas fanfic for 2017. So I got an idea for it, which is half the battle. And I started writing my gift for the OQ Advent Calendar. Hopefully that won’t change several times like last year’s did. I really pushed against the deadline then.

So, yes, there has been an upside. I just hope I’m not sick of Christmas songs by December 1st like I was last year. That…wasn’t very good.

September 25, 2017

Laptop Troubles

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
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Or, “A Farewell to a Faithful Friend.”

That was the title of the original blogpost which got lost on Sunday night. But we’ll get to that.

Our story starts two Sundays ago, when my family saw “Hello, Dolly.” I returned home and booted up my laptop, Old Blue. Everything was working fine until I went to take my shower. When I returned, I had to boot it up again but this time, it ran a disk check. After that, it wouldn’t go to my log-in screen. I just got a black screen and my cursor instead.

I powered down and decided to let it get some rest. I switched to the smaller laptop I had gotten for Christmas to use when I travel and prayed for the best.

(more…)

September 4, 2017

One Last Summer Fling

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
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The lake looked beautiful in the setting sun.

Holly sat on the end of the dock, her feet in the cool water as she watched the pale yellow sun dip beneath the trees that lined the lake. The sky was lit up in a beautiful orange color that was starting to turn to a dark blue color. Soon the stars would appear as well as the moon.

She sighed, letting a cool breeze hit her face. It would be time to head in soon before the bugs came out and began to bite her. For now, though, she could just enjoy the pleasant summer night. There weren’t many left.

“Good evening,” a deep voice said, interrupting her musings. Opening her eyes, Holly saw a man about her age row up to her in a little rowboat. He had sandy blond hair and warm brown eyes that matched his pleasant smile. His short sleeves revealed well toned arms and she wondered if the rest of his body matched it.

Taking a deep breath, Holly smiled at him. “Hello there. Out for one last trip around the lake before it gets dark?”

“I guess you can say that,” he replied.

She tilted her head. “What would you call it?”

“Me finally building up enough courage to talk to the beautiful woman across the lake,” he said with a smile. He held out his hand to her. “I’m Jake.”

“Holly,” she said, shaking his hand. “Nice to meet you.”

“So, care to join me for a trip around the lake?” he asked. “I promise I don’t bite.”

She bit her lip as she considered his proposition. “My mother told me not to accept rides from strangers.”

“Good advice,” he agreed.

“But I don’t always do what my mother says,” Holly continued, sliding into his row boat. It teetered a bit but Jake managed to steady it.

She leaned back, trying to look seductive. “So, where are we going?”

(more…)

August 14, 2017

Taking on a Life of Its Own

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
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A couple weekends ago, I decided to take part in a fun thing I saw on tumblr—asking people for a ship and a prompt. Then I would write three sentences (more like three paragraphs) based on that prompt. Seemed like a good way to pass the time.

With the exception of one Regal Believer prompt, most of them were for Outlaw Queen.

One of the first ones I got was for Regina as a soldier returning home from the front and reuniting with her husband and child. Everyone loved it. So much so, they kept sending me more prompts. I’m still getting a bunch almost daily.

So, yes, it’s now taking on a life of its own. I’ve had to give it its own name—Soldier Verse.

Right now, it’s still just a bunch of drabbles. However, I’ve decided to turn it into a proper fanfiction once I’m done with my Dancing With the Stars AU, Better When I’m Dancing. I don’t have a title for it yet, but I have some time to think of one. I’m only a little over halfway done with Better When I’m Dancing, but I hope to get the Soldier Verse fic up before the end of the year.

Just goes to show that you never know what’s going to catch on and grow bigger than you intended.

August 7, 2017

Jump Starting the Big Project

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 2:00 am
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It’s August! I know it’s not the usual time for fresh starts, but I’m making one.

As you can tell from the title, it has to do with my “Big Project.” For those who are new, I’ll give some background on the “Big Project.” And why it’s called that rather than with a proper title. The “Big Project” is a fanfic that I’m preparing to self-publish as a novel. I’m not yet ready to reveal which one it is so I use the codename instead. Last year, around this time, I had decided to devote a half hour every day to working on it and it proved quite fruitful.

So what happened? Well, for starters, the holidays happened. I focused on NaNoWriMo, my submission for the Outlaw Queen Advent Calendar and my gift for my Once Upon a Time Secret Santa. Then I got a cold for New Year’s. (No, seriously, the ball dropped and then my nose clogged up. It was torture!) By the time I got over that, my grandmother passed. So January was pretty much shot.

I thought I would start over in February, but then I decided to participate in a Valentine’s Day exchange and had a few other projects to finish. So I kept pushing the Big Project back more and more. Especially once my hours got shifted at work and I no longer had the same amount of time at night like I used to. So I was focusing more on my other fanfictions.

Which brings me to a conundrum. I know if I want to focus on the “Big Project,” one of my fanfics will have to get sidelined. And I don’t really want to do that. They are mostly popular and I like to keep to my posting schedules. However, I know one of them is going to have to suffer. I guess I just have to choose which one.

This is going to be hard.

*Insert long sigh here*

July 31, 2017

This is a Blog About Writing, Right?

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
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Yes, it is.

I know in some ways it hasn’t really seemed like one since I’ve been writing about more personal things. Namely, travel. But I promise this isn’t turning into a travel blog.

So, let’s talk about writing. How’s that?

We’ll start with the Big Project. It’s stalled and it’s my fault, I know that. I haven’t made the time for it like I used to and I need to remedy that. So starting in August, I’m going back to working a half hour each day on it.

There’s not much movement still on original works. As I’ve said, when I’m inspired to write fanfictions, it usually takes all my energy. Right now, I don’t mind that. So, we’ll discuss my fanfics!

Well, we’ll discuss one—“The Dark Legacy.” It’s the sequel to another one of my stories, “The Prince of Darkness,” which rewrote the end of the Season 4 finale. Instead of Emma taken on the darkness, Robin did and became the new Dark One. The story then followed him and Regina as they tried to free him from the darkness before it completely devoured him.

In “The Prince of Darkness,” I decided to keep Zelena’s baby with Robin and I also introduced an Outlaw Queen pregnancy. These two girls are important for “The Dark Legacy” as it involves a mysterious figure trying to kidnap them and ultimately succeeding. The figure takes them to the Underworld so their parents have to go rescue them, encountering dangers along the way.

So why I am discussing it? Because sixteen—almost seventeen—chapters in, I decided to put it on hiatus and do some major rewrites.

Why did I make this decision? How? Good questions. I’m happy to answer them.

To be honest, I hadn’t been happy with the story for a long time. I wondered at various points if I was best to consider a major rewrite but decided to keep chugging forward. Yet it seemed to me that I was just repeating myself and my characters were going in circles.

Which brings us to two Saturdays ago. I took a shower and was thinking that I was almost done with Chapter 17 of “The Dark Legacy.” I was thinking about the story going forward and I once again wondering if I was just writing in circles while repeating myself.

Then I was also thinking about all the characters I have in play. And there were a lot. So many, I worried I had actually forgotten one and accidentally written her out.

Oops.

It was then that I decided it was time to put the story on a hiatus and to reread the posted pieces to see where I wanted to start the rewrites from. I figured it would be when the girls are in the hospital and how they get to the Underworld so that I didn’t keep coming up with several stupid reasons why they were always a few steps behind the girls. 

As I was rereading, though, I realized that I was just not happy with the story in general. Everything felt too rushed to me and more like I was telling and not showing enough. That I wasn’t diving as deep as I could’ve. It became clear to me that I needed to completely rewrite it. So that’s what I’m going to do.

What is this complete rewrite going to entail? A lot of things, I hope. I hope to eliminate the circles, tighten up the plot, deepen conflicts, strengthen character development and focus a lot more on Outlaw Queen.

Hopefully, I can pull this off and improve the story. My readers definitely deserve it. And I know I have it in me.

Wish me luck!

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