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 31, 2017

Happy Halloween!

Filed under: off topic — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
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I delayed this post until today since it’s actually Halloween today! Since it’s Tuesday, I myself went out on Friday night dressed as a vampire queen. I got the costume for New York Comic Con because the dress I got from Hot Topic for my Evil Queen cosplay didn’t fit and the costume’s dress was the closest to Regina’s red dress.

I hope you were able to get out celebrate the holiday but if not, I’ll try to help you a bit with a few ghost stories from my hometown of Staten Island!

Happy Haunts!

The Historic Old Bermuda Inn

It is haunted by the ghost of a former owner, Martha Mesereau, whose husband went to sea and never came back. She is still waiting for him and haunts her house, now a popular catering venue here on Staten Island. I’ve been there several times as I can walk to it but I’ve yet to see Martha. She’s been known to appear to guests as well as fiddle with women’s jewelry. The facility recently underwent some renovations and during them, a painting of Martha that hangs in the building caught on fire mysteriously. It wasn’t destroyed and the singed portrait still hangs. I know the owners as we attend the same church and they are more than happy to share Martha’s story. You just have to ask.

Vanderbilt’s Tomb

Magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt is buried in Staten Island’s Moravian Cemetery and his tomb is well known to us. It is said that if you go to the tomb and take a picture of it, strange things happen. People you don’t know and who weren’t there will appear in the picture or the people who were in the picture will not be there after it is developed. Needless to say, many people have flocked to the tomb so a fence was set up around it. Good luck, then, getting your picture.

The Kreischer Mansion

Like the Old Bermuda Inn, this spooky residence is close to my house. It was built by the Kreischer family, who ran a successful brick factory on the island. Some of their bricks can still be found around town. Unfortunately, the family fell on hard times when the factory burnt down and one of the brothers killed himself. And in recent years, it was discovered that one of the caretakers was a hitman for the Bonanno crime family and had destroyed a man he killed in the house’s furnace. Strange activity has been reported in the house, including red lights spotted in windows. It’s also said that sometimes, late at night, a gunshot can be heard going off inside the house.

St. Andrew’s Cemetery

The cemetery is attached to St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, which is one of the oldest churches on the island. It dates back to 1708, though the current church only dates back to just after the Civil War, and was once led by the grandfather of Elizabeth Ann Seton, who would later convert to Catholicism and became the first American-born saint. Strange phenomenon have been reported both in the church (an organ that plays by itself) as well as the cemetery. One of the lingering spirits is a drummer boy from the Revolutionary War, who appears to people with a bandage on his head and asks for directions to the fort. I’ve also heard stories of a teenage girl who is spotted close to the road, often trying to lure young men in order to find her lost love.

Fort Wadsworth

A former military post, it is now operated by the parks department and open to the public. Located right by the Verrazano Bridge, it offers some amazing views of the Narrows and New York Harbor. My track team and I once took a long run down there but only once. After September 11th, it was used as a staging area and was closed to the public for a while. Strange phenomenon have been reported there. People have experienced time shifts, seeing battlefields and soldiers at war racing around though no battle was ever fought at Fort Wadsworth. People in clothes from earlier times have also been spotted walking around the fort before disappearing.

So there are five more haunted sites on Staten Island. And I’ve just scratched the surface. We have a few more haunted sites I might share next Halloween.

For now, stay safe and protect the black cats. And enjoy your Halloween!

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!

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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…

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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.

October 2, 2017

Hello, Dolly and Paul!

Filed under: off topic — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
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Okay, we’re going to put my computer woes aside for now. I want to talk about the fun I had despite all these problems!

On the Sunday that all my laptop problems started, my family and I went to see Hello, Dolly. It was Broadway week and many shows were offering two-for-one tickets, which we took advantage of. So did a lot of other people as our performance was played to a pretty packed house. I didn’t see all of orchestra, but there were no empty seats in mezzanine where we were seated. We even ended up running into family friends, who wound up having seats in the row in front of ours! It’s a small world after all indeed.

Better Midler was not performing Dolly at our performance, which we knew when we bought our tickets. It was Donna Murphy and I was overjoyed. She’s a two-time Tony winner! (Everyone else I was with were like “She’s Mother Gothel from Tangled!” It’s fair, but she’s a talented stage actress in her own right).

The show was absolutely amazing. I plan to review it properly on my blogspot blog (shameless plug here!) but let me say this: If you can go see the show, go see it. And it doesn’t matter if it’s Bette or Donna, either way, you are going to get an amazing Dolly! (Though rumor in the ladies’ room was that Donna was better). I can’t remember the last time I went to a show where it was clear every actor loved and had fun performing the show. It was just a great way to spend an afternoon.

The day before, my parents, my cousin, my aunt and I had dinner together. My dad was planning to go visit my sister the next weekend and I knew my mom and aunt were going to the Paul McCartney concert on Friday. So I asked if I was on my own for dinner that day. My mom looked at me surprised and said: “You’re coming to Paul McCartney with us.”

I guess I should be grateful they didn’t tell me on Thursday night.

My boss let me go early from work on Friday with everyone telling me to enjoy the concert. I was planning on going home to change into a nice black shirt and my boots while keeping on my jeans. However, my mom told me that my aunt said we had to dress up because our tickets granted us access to the “board room.” I was surprised—it’s a concert. Why would we need to dress up? But I put on a nice dress and flats.

We trekked to Madison Square Garden and were directed to the “board room.” And guess what? Everyone else was wearing jeans. We nearly killed my aunt, who did apologize and said she thought we had to dress up. Her coworker and friend told my mom to always get her info from her (the friend), not my aunt.

Lesson learned.

So what is the “board room”? It’s a place with fancy booths and food laid out for us. There is also a bar and a very attentive server, waiting to make sure we have everything we want. He even gave us water bottles to take with us into the arena!

Paul McCartney took the stage and proceeded to perform nonstop for almost 3 hours. At one point his band took a break but the 75 years old continued on, singing such songs as “Blackbird” without them. He gave great performances and told some wonderful stories in between—Paul certainly has a sense of humor!

However, my row had a big moment early on. We were very close to the stage—not on the floor but close enough to feel the heat of the pyrotechnics used for “Live and Let Die” later in the show—and there were still two seats left empty. After the show had started, a couple showed up and it was clear those were their seats. The wife was very apologetic as she ducked past us, her husband following. I looked up and my mind was just “BRUUUUUUUUUUCE.”

As in Bruce Springsteen.

The Boss sat four seats from me for this concert.

Yeah, we were all pretty excited. I even tried to get a picture but it was hard when you’re trying to also play cool. I think the people on the floor had better shots than me.

Bruce and his wife left early, but I figured it was because he was performing with Paul. I was right—he came out and performed “I Saw Her Standing There” with Paul. Twice.

The concert ended and we returned home, where I went straight to bed. But it was a great night and I’m glad I went. It was just a great week…

Aside from the laptop problems.

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.

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September 18, 2017

Strange Dreams

Filed under: off topic — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
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Nearly everybody dreams. Scientists believe we have between four to seven dreams each night, some lasting only a few minutes, some lasting about a half hour. The most vivid dreams occur during Rapid Eye Movement or REM sleep. Sometimes we remember our dreams, most times we don’t. (If one wakes in the middle of a dream or during REM sleep, you’re more likely to remember it).

Like most people, I tend to forget most of my dreams. There are some I do remember but only for a few days at most. And then there are those that grip me and leave an impression for several days, maybe weeks. I might even be able to recall them months or years later. And these dreams always come in cycles.

I’ve just finished one such cycle and I had some doozies during it. Please allow me to share:

Surprisingly, I’ve had a few dreams involving tornados. In the first, I was staying in a hotel in the middle of storms when tornados sprung up. My family and I made it to the storm cellar just in time but a tornado hit us, picking us up, rotating us and then setting us down unharmed. We decided to get out of there before any more tornados could hit but then we found ourselves surrounded by flood waters!

That dream ended there but a few nights later, I dreamed of tornados again. Or more accurately, I guess, water spouts. I went down to the beach and a storm was rolling in. Somehow, I ended up on a boat and watching a spouts reaching into the air as they churned by the boat. I got back onto the land and raced away from the beach, the spouts and the storm.

So those were some of my “stormy” dreams. Let’s move on to a few other memorable ones.

Recently, I dreamed I was in a store. I was just browsing through some dolls when my mom asked me to find her something—I think a shirt. I agreed to go and headed away from her.

I think I need to pause to explain something here. I have what I call “dream” places—places that I often return to and always look the same. I have the same mall I go to (which I wish was real as it is amazing with a large food court, several restaurants and a lot of shops). And I have a version of “Disney World” I go to that, honestly, doesn’t look at all like the park. I just know it is Disney World.

(Though it has some cool rollercoasters I wish Disney would build).

I went through a few stores, looking to get to the right one so I can get the shirt my mom wants. As I enter, I then have to board some sort of ride vehicle. I get in the front and I settled in, even wrapping myself with a blanket as we go through some scenes, including something that reminds me of the now defunct Horizons ride.

When I got off, I met up with my friend Diana and found I was in a nice dress. We headed toward a restaurant but discovered the only way in was to go along with whatever the theme was. And the theme was a “shower” (I think bridal). So we had to pick out gifts and leave them as we headed into a room full of people we didn’t know.

That’s where that dream ended but it was pretty odd.

Another recent one involved me going to a school for a test. But all the instructions were in French and my boss was there for some reason. That one was just puzzling to me.

I’m sure more weird dreams will come my way, so maybe I’ll have a follow up post some time in the future. Feel free to share your weirdest dream in the comments below!

September 11, 2017

Autumn Plans (and Hopes)

Filed under: off topic — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
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Well, it’s September. We’re about a week and a half away from the first day of autumn.

As usual, this summer flew by. We had some warm days and some rainy days. I wish I had gotten into the pool a bit more often but I did spend time outside. Got the mosquito bites to prove it too.

However, on September 2nd, I woke up and realized I was okay that it was almost autumn. I came to the realization that autumn was generally my season, not summer, and it was time to fully embrace it.

So I am.

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