A Writer's Journey

August 25, 2018

“The Christmas Wish” Chapter 1: A Wish For Santa (Excerpt)

Filed under: journey,The Christmas Wish,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
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In Monday’s entry, I said that I would share the excerpt I first shared on Patreon. This is from Chapter 1 of “The Christmas Wish,” which is entitled “A Wish for Santa.” It’s an introduction to the relationship between my two leads, Adelaide Ellis and Theo Edwards, at the start of the story.

For early access to sneak peeks as well as other material, please consider supporting me with just $1 a month on Patreon.

Enjoy after the cut!

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August 20, 2018

The Christmas Wish

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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Look! Another entry about writing! I’m on a streak!

As I wrote in this entry, I’ve been working on turning my 2016 Outlaw Queen Christmas fic The Christmas Wish into an original novel called The Christmas Wish. I figured I would give you all an update!

To recap: The Christmas Wish is a whimsical holiday romance about two single parents who find their lives changed forever when their sons ask Santa to make them brothers.

(I think this is the first story that I could actually sum up in one sentence. I’m impressed with myself).

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December 25, 2017

Christmas Lights

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

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.

December 20, 2016

Christmastime is Here

Filed under: off topic — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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Can you feel it?

That’s right—it’s almost Christmas!

Here in the Northeast, we had a cold snap. We’ve even seen snow! However, temperatures have started to rise again, so it’s likely we won’t have a White Christmas. We most likely won’t have another scenario like last year though, when it felt more like Easter than Christmas.

Lights are going up all over the place. (Some started well before Thanksgiving around me). They are absolutely beautiful and somewhat magical. And quite elaborate too. I have to imagine it takes them almost all day to put everything up. I’d love to do something nice (though maybe not as elaborate) when I have a place of my own, but I don’t know if I’d have the patience, you know?

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December 5, 2016

NaNoWriMo 2016 is Done

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
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Another November has come and gone. It’s like I blink and they’re over.

So how was this NaNoWriMo?

I finished at 38, 773 words.

Pretty damn good. Even with a few bumps in the road for me. Namely my great-aunt’s wake and then having to really focus on my entry for the OQ Advent calendar.

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January 11, 2016

Time to Prepare for Christmas!

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
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I know, I know. The holidays just ended. But a writer does have to think ahead. Especially for Christmas. Anything that is published for Christmas has to be finished well ahead of the holiday. So I’m starting now.

What am I starting? A Christmas Anthology—the 12 Romances of Christmas. I’m sure I don’t have to explain why I chose 12. I figured I’d write 12 short stories around Christmas and romance. Because I love romance.

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December 25, 2015

I’ll Be Home For Christmas

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 pm
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He had never missed Christmas. Not since he he had met her, not since he married and not since they had their three beautiful children. And he wasn’t going to let some snow storm ruin his perfect record. He was getting home come hell or high water.

Of course, a snow storm did prove a daunting obstacle.

Chris Anderson sat in the airport, watching his flight get pushed back more and more. At the rate they were going, it was likely that his plane wasn’t going to take off until after Christmas.

His darling Lucy had been very understanding when he had called. “Don’t put yourself at risk,” she told him. “If it’s too dangerous to travel, don’t. We can always celebrate Christmas another day.”

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