Tuesday, October 8, 2019

On Writing - I'm in PRINT now

I ordered books and the package arrived. This in an of itself isn't news because it happens pretty often.

However, what sets today's delivery apart is it includes a paperback version of the VSS365 Anthology, and one of my flash fiction pieces is in it.

It's a profoundly humbling feeling to be included among so many talented writers who I admire. These are names you'll surely get to know as their careers keep reaching new heights.

For awhile, I'd gather my vss365 stories and post them to this blog, but just in case you didn't see any of them, I'll explain vss365.

Vss365 stands for Very Short Story 365 days a year. Every month there's a host who provides a prompt word for the day's write. Participants write a one-tweet story using that day's prompt word and add the hashtag vss365. This tradition was started by Mark A. King and the stories reach 250,000 reading tweeters every single day.

I shall say little more, except I encourage you to buy a copy. All proceeds benefit kids' literacy programs. The challenge of writing a compelling story with either imagery, prose, or a twist, with believable characters with only 280 characters (including spaces and punctuation) is so grueling, it may be a skill higher than novel writing, which is hard enough as it is. It is the tightest form of writing you can imagine.

Plus, it's perfect for readers with short attention spans.

Available on amazon for $8.72

Mackenzie
Make someone's day magical!

Thursday, October 3, 2019

On Writing - Short Story (Theme: Role Playing)

Emily emerged from her meditation with a new concern. Not exactly new really. Suppressed. If she were to be honest with herself, she’d railed vehemently against thinking about it. The concern festered in her imagination like a fruit with an odd flavor. She wouldn’t discard the thought, but it had been sitting in her mind so long, the toxic growth was somehow intoxicating. Her curiosity wouldn’t be denied another day. Emily suspected her husband, John, preferred blondes, as opposed to her auburn locks with traces of grey. Damn those greys! Her figure had lately shown signs of giving way to gravity’s unrelenting demands; she couldn’t be sure John noticed, but still. She’d been plump and firm her whole life and these new signs of aging would only progress to full on sag and drag. Curse that pesky invention, time!

“I’m not old, that’s just a fear. Fear equals false evidence appearing real, and I am not old” she said, examining her full length reflection. “I’m not blonde, either,” she sighed. Resignation to her place on the conveyor belt towards death would not do. “Go get the box, Emily,” she said. “Go get the box.”

She’d hidden an unassuming pine box with a strong lock under her packages of feminine hygiene products in the master bathroom. John would never find it. She dug down into her Playtex box and fished out the key. Laying the pine box on the bed, she took a deep breath and opened it for the second time in two months. Emily fondled the contents with wonder, revulsion, and a maelstrom of emotions. “Are we really going through with this?”

Before she answered her own question, she laid the contents on her bed in meticulous order. She texted John to drop the kids off at her parents’ house. They’re expecting the kids, she lied.

John: Are you sure? Why didn’t U mention it before?

Emily: I’m sorry, 4got. U definitely want to get back home asap. Surprise 4 U.

John: ok. Love U.

Okay, that wasn’t too hard,” mused Emily. She called her mother and let her know to expect her grandchildren. She confided that she wanted to have a playdate with her husband. Her mother agreed readily.

“We’ll bake cookies! I’ve been wanting to whip up some peanut butter cookies all week. This is perfect!”

“Great, Mama, thanks a lot. This is important.”

Emily glanced at her wedding photos. John used to weigh 40 pounds more. He slimmed down over the years. Although his hairline receded, his hair hadn't thinned much. Handsome devil, she thought. Then she took to the task at hand.

Much sooner than she expected, Emily heard John’s car pull into the driveway. She was ready.

“Em, I’m back,” he called out from the entrance.

She bit her tongue, wondering how long it would take for him to find her. “He’ll probably stop at the refrigerator first,” she thought. “Men. Always the belly comes first.”

“What’s the surprise?”

Emily heard John make his way downstairs from the hardwood floor of the entrance to the ceramic tile of kitchen, and sighed. Did his stomach really need to be so predictable? She restrained herself from answering back. Finally, his footfalls on the stairs and down the hall towards the master bedroom.

He opened the bedroom door and flicked on the lights. His mouth fell open. “Who are you? What the hell are you doing in my bedroom?”

Emily smiled triumphantly. He didn’t recognize her. She writhed seductively on the black satin sheets, but they were so slippery. “Tie me up, stud,” she said breathlessly, trying to ooze sex, and dangled fuzzy handcuffs from one finger. She flicked the blonde wig’s ringlets out of her eyes.

“What?” John stared open-mouthed at her. He looked at her rhinestone-studded bustier, the black collar around her neck, and the rose petals scattered on their bed. He sniffed the air with a bewildered expression. “What’s that smell?”

“Pheromone. You like?” Emily batted thick, false eyelashes at him and blew him a kiss from glossy red-orange lips. “I taste like ice cream. What do you taste like?”

“Emily?” He took one tentative step toward her.

“Is it true men prefer blondes?” She stroked the inside of her right calf with her left foot in a studded stiletto, but winced in pain when she slit her skin with the metal-tipped toe.

“Emily? Jesus, you’re bleeding. What are you trying to do?’ John headed to her side of the bed and reached for a tissue to dab her shin.

“I thought I’d spice things up in bed for us.” She took the tissue from him and applied pressure to the cut. “I was hoping--” She looked up, and didn’t expect the tender look in John’s face. “I just wanted to be someone else for you. I thought you’d want someone younger, bouncier, edgier, sexier.”

“I don’t want that. I want you.”

“Wait.” Emily’s shoulders slouched. “What?”

John looked stupid all of a sudden. “I mean, you are those things. I don’t want a ding dong sex kitten for a wife and mother of my kids. I want you the way you are." He cocked his eyebrows and looked askance at her attire. “Besides, that bra could kill a guy. Men don’t want cover girls or centerfolds. That’s fantasy, Emily. Those are untouchable women. I love you.” He looked warily at her 4” stilettos. “Why don’t you take those off before you cut me, too.”

“I wanted--” She flailed her arms, trying to remember what she'd hoped to accomplish.

John seemed to warm up to another idea. “Why don’t I slip you out of that costume?” He knelt before her and took off one shoe, then the other, kissing her feet as he did so.

Suddenly John’s touch felt more masculine, more in charge. His hands felt bigger, stronger, more protective, as he massaged her calves, thighs,and hips. “I’ve always wanted you. That’s why I married you.”

She flushed, feeling his hands explore her with a sense of urgency and familiarity. They were new and old, like fresh fruit hanging low from an ancient tree, planted together and yielding what marriage had yielded for centuries: reliability and passion. John had a few greys of his own; she’d never noticed before, and seeing them now comforted her. Emily no longer felt the desire to play a role as anyone other than as John’s wife. Her trust in him set a new record and she wrapped her legs around his hips.


Mackenzie Littledale

Saturday, September 14, 2019

BIG NEWS! TUNE IN to Ask Win Podcast 4:30pm Tues Sept 17


Ask Win podcast

Win Kelly Charles asked me questions about This Darkness is Mine: The Dark Gift of Bipolar

What was the inspiration for the story?
When did I first get diagnosed?

Is depression after a significant loss a mental health condition?


If you couldn't tune in to 9/17's podcast, listen to the replay by clicking the link

https://askwin.simplecast.com/episodes


Thursday, September 12, 2019

On Writing & Mental Illness - What the hell kind of struggle is this?

Fiction writers who seek an agent in hopes of being traditionally published need to do a shit ton of work.

They need something to write about.
They need to write it.
They need to read it for continuity.
Edit to make the continuity work.
Read it for typos, grammar errors, punctuation.
Edit the typos, bad grammar, and punctuation mistakes.
Read it for imagery, dialogue, metaphor, character arc, and other literary devices.
Edit the shit out and replace the shit with gold.
Find beta readers* to read it for overall readability (and please throw in some compliments with the criticism so we don't fall apart).
Read beta readers' feedback, notes, comments, etc.
Cry, yell, scream, bluster, dust ourselves off and pull ourselves together with thicker skin and some measure of objectivity.
Read it AGAIN to see if the readers' comments make sense and warrant merit.
Edit some more.

Maybe you get the idea how insane this process is and why writing often requires or creates mental instability.

Image result for royalty free writer pulling hair out

Whether you get it or not, there's MORE.

The manuscript is as polished and perfected as the writer can get it. It's time to query literary agents and pitch in hopes of landing a contract.

Now it's really time to rise above. We must now learn to accept dozens or hundreds of rejections, and this book has to get demoted from "baby" status to "money-making thing" or we'll never survive the rejection, often labeled as "pass".

This is where I'm at. The query process is on the horizon and coming into view. I have to learn how to query and pitch, first of all. Thank you Writer's Digest online tutorials. Part of this stage of the process is telling agents about "comps". These are titles comparable  to what I've written so they can gauge market placement and chances of sales. I found out this very morning that agents don't do the homework for the writer, and they take comps quite seriously. There shouldn't be an iota of guesswork.

Since This Darkness is Mine: The Dark Gift of Bipolar is a novel based on a true story, and comp titles have to be same genre, same sub-genre, but I'm finding few titles as close as A Beautiful Mind, but comps can't be more than 3 years old, I'm really in a quandary. 😒

Back to the search engine. I had to get pretty specific for Google, but I found some recent debut (debut authors get comped against debut authors) titles that are either memoir or novels based on true stories. Since I happen to know that authors get paid slightly more from Barnes and Noble than from Amazon, I ordered through BN.com.

I'll report back sooner or later.

Don't be surprised if I'm not quite as impressed with what's on the market as I am with my own novel 😉


Make someone else's day magical!
Mackenzie

*beta reader is to a book what beta test is to technology. They look for what you instruct them to: realistic dialogue, typos, grammar, diction choices, imagery, dullness, confusing passages, overall readability, etc.



Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Remembering 9/11

Today was an epic fail mental health day, but if you ask me, it was unavoidable, inevitable.

Once upon a time, I temped for a financial services company in Sales & Marketing of Derivatives on the trading floor of World Financial Center. I won't say which building or which firm. My assignment had started in August 2001 and was scheduled to end on September 11, 2001.

That morning, my niece was extremely adamant that I wake the hell up early and ride the subway with her on our way to work.

There was never an explanation, but it saved my life.

If I'd left home later, there's nothing but a melange of horror stories of where I might have been.

The Concourse.
At Duane Reade in the Concourse picking up my photos (back when film was still used in cameras)
In between the Towers
The footbridge from World Trade Center to World Financial Center
Winter Garden
Who the fuck knows

I arrived early to work and got a blueberry muffin and orange juice. I'd removed my sneakers and put on my ultra high heel black boots. You'd die for weather as glorious as that day. I felt stylish in a black turtleneck and dove grey slacks with a nice break to every step. My hair was braided back into a Yaki ponytail.

I looked amazing.

On trading floors, it's typical to have flat screen TVs playing stock market type stuff, CNBC was on all day.

I was enjoying my muffin when a loud sound, like a semi truck going over a gargantuan pothole, shook my bones and the whole room. The room: double high ceilings, wrapped around the corner of the entire floor. HUGE, in other words.

"What was that?" I heard someone behind me ask.

Since I was a transplant and hadn't lived in the city during the car bomb in the World Trade Center parking garage, I wasn't sensitive to disturbances like this.

Minutes later, a small group gathered at the southern windows. Debris on fire fell in the near distance. Then bodies.

What the hell?

Someone changed the channel on the TV to the news. Something had plowed into North Tower, but the hole looked kinda small on the screen.

We speculated. A drunk pilot of a Cessna maybe?

"Oh, God, my parents are going to worry," I thought, so I called them to set their minds at ease.

"What?" My mom hadn't seen the news, so I had to break it to her, but I didn't know anything for certain, except I was intact and she shouldn't worry.

I continued answering the phone, since that was my job. People asked if we were OK, would NYC recover? I remember clearly saying, "We're New Yorkers. It's a hole in a building. Of course we can fix that. Business as usual."

Second impact. The whole room froze in shock and fear.

"That was no accident." Did I think that, say that, or hear that? I don't know.

"Let's get everyone out of here," I heard my boss say.

"Get the fuck outta there!" I heard in my ear.

What does get the fuck outta there mean? I'm alone. Where am I going? Do I take the elevator? What about my muffin? I don't know. Get the fuck out!

I forgot my glasses.

I forgot to change back into my sneakers.

I put on my denim jacket.

I took the elevator down, but my normal exit would have led me directly to the World Trade Center concourse to the subway, and that was clearly out of the question. I exited a door I'd never been through before to a street I'd never been on before. I faced crowds barely moving. They were too busy looking for a vantage point to see the hole in North Tower. It still seemed so small, but that's an  illusion. The smoke was black, the flames shot out several feet.

No one had cell signals. People got angry and frustrated. Of course, they had people to call.

I needed to call my people, too. The last person I'd call would be my mother, because I had no way to assure her that I'd be fine. I had no idea. I think I finished eating my muffin and swallowed the last of my orange juice. A tiny yellow bird with a bleeding wing floundered on the sidewalk, surrounded by shuffling feet. Someone with a backpack paused, noticed the little doomed creature and picked it up gently.

At least one innocent life got saved that day.

My faith in humanity had hope because of that gesture for a helpless bird who had no way of returning the favor.

Police roped off all passageways to the Twin Towers. I overheard that Stuyvesant High was allowing emergency calls. It was my first and only visit to Stuyvesant High. I waited on line and called my niece, who worked in Midtown (for a super fucking cool technology company, I might add).

It surprised me to hear her whole building was being evacuated because the United Arab Emirate Embassy was headquartered in it. Potential target. We had few options. The City shut down the tunnels and bridges. We decided to meet at our cousin's job in (potential target) Times Square.

I headed on foot (in those boots and turtleneck) up the West Side Highway with hundreds or thousands of other all-of-a-sudden pedestrians. Literally an endless stream of emergency vehicles, bumper to bumper, came from the opposite direction TOWARDS the towers. I loved them all. Checking out the plates, I saw New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. I loved them so deeply, my chest ached for them. Every single one.

Did I mention the weather? Hot, dry, gorgeous.

I arrived at a pier, so I rested. A beige cloud started swallowing North Tower, and I WOULD NOT ACCEPT THAT SOUTH TOWER WAS FALLING.

Back in motion, I passed a pushcart and needed water. I waited on line and heard the man charge $5 for a bottle of water. I can't say whether that's price gouging, but he was taking a risk by being there, and for fuck's sake, I had $5 on me. I looked downtown just in time to see the needle of North Tower slide from the sky and get engulfed again in smoke, ash and dust. And blood, but that was an anguishing mental image, not something my eyes saw.

"Oh, my God, oh my God, oh my God, oh my God." I lost all capacity for any other words in the English language. There was nothing else I knew how to say. Those emergency responders went down there to save people and they're getting fucking crushed.

The tall man ahead of me on line turned around to face me, like in my face face me. "WHAT?!"

I looked at him. "Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God." I looked back downtown.

He looked, too.

I bought my water and kept going, stopping to remove my boots. At Chelsea Piers, I waited for a bus - any bus - maybe a crosstown bus to get to 6th Avenue, and I could transfer from there until I fucking got to fucking Times Square.

I overheard a man say "Thumbs, fingers."

I overheard a man say, "They got the Pentagon," and I wondered where I'd been hiding that I didn't know the Pentagon had been attacked. It didn't occur to me that he meant that same day.

Exiting the bus at 6th Avenue, I saw my bank branch! "Oh, what if I have to stay the night in the City? What if there's another attack? What if it's the apocalypse? What if (etc.) and only cash is accepted? I'd better get some. Right. Fucking. NOW!"

While waiting for another bus to continue moving toward Times Square, police and ambulances raced up 6th Avenue, dust still rolling off their tops. I think I may have been around 28th Street by this time, and the volume of dust and ash it would take to still roll off a vehicle from the World Trade Center boggled my brain.

Meanwhile, shoppers shopped, diners dined, laughers laughed. Surreal. Aggravating. Infuriating. How DARE anyone carry on as if the Towers haven't just fallen to rubble? Couldn't they see down 6th Avenue and notice a conspicuous absence of epic proportion?????

I bought a pair of sneakers on the street. They didn't fit quite right, and the guy didn't have change for a $20. Sure he didn't. Whatever. $20, $3 it made no difference.

I can't remember if I got on another bus or not, but sooner or later, I reached my cousin's job. They'd offered to let employees stay to eat, stay to spend the night, whatever they needed. The city was on lock down. My niece, our cousin, and I all had sandwiches and watched news on the TV.

A FUCKING FULL SIZE COMMERCIAL PLANE?! THAT'S WHAT HIT THE DAMN TOWERS?? Who would? Why would? Who could? Now what? Oh my God!

I couldn't believe what I was seeing on the TV.

We stayed there for a few hours, until the island opened up around 4:00pm. From that point, the day disappears from my memory. Crushed under the weight.

#NeverForget911
#911Anniversary


Sunday, August 25, 2019

Vogue Parody - 73 Questions

1.What’s your usual Starbuck’s order?

I used to order grande French Roast or Italian Roast, until I started saving money by buying the grinds and brewing at home.

2. What does your workstation look like?

I don't work in an office. It looks an awful lot like a place to relax. Can't say more, but I bust my ass there.

3. Favorite food?

Cheeseburger medium rare. Homemade salad (I do make a kick ass salad). Lasagna is near the top of the list. 

4. Favorite author?
Absolute favorite of all time is Ken Follette's historical fiction!

5. What do you think of open relationships?

I'm sure they work for some, but I secretly harbor the wish to be a man's one and only.

6. What is your favorite video game?



I used to dig Centipede and Galaga

7. Guilty Pleasure Food?

I don't feel guilty about chocolate 

8. Favorite movie?

The Harry Potter series, Memoirs of a Geisha, and The Matrix Trilogy are in my top 5.

9. Favorite book?

For personal development: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
For entertainment: Pillars of the Earth

10. Twitter or Instagram?
Twitter! What's Instagram?

11. Desktop or laptop?

Laptop

12. Best advice you’ve ever received?

Take it all in stride (Thank you Scott)
They can't eat you (Thank you Woody)

13. What project are you working on right now?

Nothing. Work is all consuming. In Sept, I'll go over my beta readers' notes and see what changes my manuscript calls for. I have a secret career-related project, and notes for two short stories. I have feedback on an essay, so I'll go through that to tighten it up and seek publishing in literary journals.

14. Favorite color?

Purple, and red, and black.

15. Did you get good grades in school?

Up until high school

16. Dream job?

That's part of my secret career related project. That plus fiction writing. 

17. Play any sports?
Does typing at my laptop count?

18. Do you have a degree?

No

19. Nationality?



USA

20. What is your favorite kind of blog post?

I've enjoyed topics on taking care of mental health, ongoing stories, tips on writing craft. It has to be real, either heartfelt or thoughtful

21. What do you like to collect?

books, coffee mugs and magnets

22. Describe yourself in three words?

Short, fat, philosophical

23. If you were a rapper what would your stage name be?

Lost in Thought or maybe Mental Maze

24. Who is the last person you DMed?
(HI JOAN) Mackenzie Littledale! Here’s a shout out to Mack!
Last DM in Twitter was to Diego Lomax when I started drafting this. Now, Phebe Lawson

25. What’s on top of your wish list right now?

To move into an apartment with a yard and a washer/dryer.

26. Sorting house?

Gryffindor

27. How many tattoos do you have?

Zero

28. What are you most grateful for this year?

So grateful to have money for the food I enjoy, to provide a home for myself and my cat, a super busy promo period at work that I can count on, an upcoming vacation to Atlanta, making new friends on Twitter, feedback from beta readers (overall so far "great manuscript") 

29. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you this month?


I took myself and my mom for a little mini spa day and the look on her face was priceless.

30. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you today?

I have the day off work. I went to a different therapist and the session was really good. I actually woke up rested this morning.

31. What’s the best thing ever?

Chocolate, cats, purple and falling in love. 

32. Favorite season?

Fall, but I'm not up north anymore. 

33. Favorite holiday?

Thanksgiving. It's nice to hear what people are thankful for, and gratitude heals all wounds.

34. What fictional character do you relate to the most?



Hermione Granger. My hair is kind of wild and bushy, and I never hesitated to put my hand up first if I thought I knew the answer to a question. It was refreshing to see a super smart female in a position to help out and not be ridiculed for braininess.

35. Do you like surprises?

Only pleasant surprises.


36. What’s the biggest surprise you’ve ever had?

When my niece announced she was pregnant.

37. Which surprise made you cry.

I can't remember the last time I cried. I'm gonna have to say the ending of Avengers: Infinity Wars
Plus, there are some inspirational moments on Twitter, like a writer named a character after me. That touched me deeply.

38. What’s the best surprise you’ve given someone else?

I took my mom for her first facial and she couldn't get over how pleasant it feels to be pampered and treated like royalty. Honoring the divine feminine in ourselves is the best gift I could give any woman.

39. Do you like muffins?

Sure

40. Do you cook often?

Never. Hate it.



41. What’s your favourite dessert?

The one I can get my hands on fastest!

42. Is there a dessert you don’t like?

Anything with cooked raisins.

43. Cake or pie?

I want both.

44. What’s your least favorite food?

I won't eat off a plate that has anchovies on it

Really Joan? I like sardines.

45. What’s your favorite condiment?

Mayonaise

46. It’s 4am on a random Saturday. What are you eating?

Reese's peanut butter cups

47. If you could teach a college class, what would it be called?

I'm actually creating a course (not college level) for newbies in my profession. Beyond that, it's a secret writing project

48. Best animated film?



Inside Out

49. What has a guy said or done to impress you?

Hmm. Some punk tried to pick me up with potato chips in his mouth. It left a negative impression.

50. Best thing to do on a first date?

Dinner and movies. I'd probably marry someone who took me to a Rage Room or jet skiing on a first date.

51. Worst thing to do on a first date?

Rest his hands on my legs like we know each other like that

52. What’s the best pick up line?

I've been enjoying your writing and I'd like to take you out, anywhere you'd like to go.


53. Best comic book character?



I'm not a fan of comic books
.

54. Name three things which can always be found in your purse.

Whatever's in there is breaking my shoulder. It feels like gold bullion and I'd love to get my hands on it.

55. Favorite drink?

Non alcoholic: water, peach iced tea, Coke
Alcoholic: Cosmopolitan, Moscato, Bacardi and Coke, pina colada.


56. If you could play a historical character in a movie who would it be?

Michelle Obama

57. Kittens or puppies?

Why choose?

58. Favorite sushi roll?

Salmon roll, no avocado

59. What lipstick do you use?

L'Oreal

60. What foundation do you use?

None

61. Blow dry or air dry?

I let the salon work that out

62. Who is your fashion icon?

I haven't paid attention in ages!

63. Favorite Disney character?

Riley in Inside Out


64. What are you doing tomorrow?

Writing my daily vss365, Bravewrite and vsspoem on Twitter, then working

65. Movie you laughed the hardest through?

The Hangover and Super Bad.

66. Movie that made you cry?

Immortal Beloved

67. If you could sing a duet with anybody, who would you choose?

I'd spare the world that disaster

68. If your life was a song what would the title be?

Back in the Saddle

69. What’s your favorite animal?

Wild cats

70. Favorite illustrator?

No idea


71. Person you’d like to have coffee with?

Erinne Lansing, among many others

72. What country would you like to visit?

Italy.


73. Best way to decompress?

Writing, reading, music, spa day

If I won lottery, I'd

For several months, I was so freaking stressed out that the only way I could calm down enough to fall asleep was to imagine winning Powerball. The jackpot was outrageous and imagining what I'd do with the wins was fun. A bit too much fun.

Remember the Mirror of Aristed in the first Harry Potter? Yeah, man, I'd just sit and stare and waste away the rest of my life with my fantasy jackpot.

I imagined winning every single night at bedtime until I wrote down what I'd do.

Did you know that 80% of lottery winners worldwide file bankruptcy within 5 years of winning? It's true! Google it, but wait until after you finish reading this, if you don't mind.

I don't want my loved ones (or myself) to wind up on that list of poor bastards, so I decided, if I win, my favored beneficiaries have to learn how to manage their finances. At the time, the jackpot hovered around $1 billion 💰🤑, so I can only imagine my loved ones turning into money leeches (not how I want their behavior toward me to become). Let's face it, if I had a virtually unlimited source of funds to tap, I'd tap it. So would they.

In my bedtime imaginings, I devised a weekend party with my loved ones, and at the end of one night, I'd sit them down in a conference room. The first go-round, I'd give them all a token amount, like $5,000. They would have to follow my rules for one year, and if they do, I'd double the money to $10,000. If they don't follow all the rules, I'd cut the money in half to $2500.

After the first year, I'd give them a new goal, with the same rules. At the end of year two, I'd double the money again to $20,000. Again, if they break a rule, the money gets cut in half.

Anyone who reaches $640,000 would get the added optional rule of sharing their money, and the rules, with someone they trust. However, if the new person breaks a rule, both of them get their stipend cut in half. If all of them follow the rules, I'd double their money to $1.28 million.

See how wealth and knowledge can multiply?

What are the rules?


  • Save 10%,
  • Contribute the maximum amount allowed by law to a retirement account,
  • Don't ask me for an additional nickel.


Seriously, those are the only rules.

And they're so simple and so unforgiving that I bet not everyone would follow them.

Why did I even write this post? Because someone on twitter asked a question that made me remember. Her open-invitation question was "What's an ethical way to give away $5 million?"

Comments welcome. Feel free to argue with me.


Thanks for jogging my memory Dr. Tara!

Be well and have a magical day!
Mackenzie

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Follow me on Twitter @mackenzielitt13

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

On Writing - It's Supposed to be Hard AF

Even more than writing itself, what gives me deliriously supreme satisfaction is helping writers tap into their strength to overcome writers block. Writers block is a bitch, and that is the damn truth.

Writers block feels more like being locked inside a mausoleum. Hey, I'm not dead! I don't belong in here! I'm alive! I'm alive!

Sports champions tell us our only real competition is yesterday's version of our best self.

We have to outwit and out-maneuver our inner demons almost daily. This should really be easy for writers because demons speak our language. We taught it to them.

We empower them with an endless bank of images that scare the living daylights out of us.
We stock their vocabulary arsenal with the exact phrases that shut us down and force us into hiding.

Our fearful demons say we're not good enough, we're stupid, we're boring, no one loves us or what we do or what we have to say.  What can we do?

We fight back. Just about every word has an opposite, so we fight their fire with water. We fight their fear with bravery. We fight their hate with love. We fight their apathy with feeling. We fight their barbed words with reassurance.

You see where this is going, yes?

At the very least, doubt the voice of doubt. When self doubt says, "You don't know what you're doing. Nobody is gonna read your shit. There are better books on the bookstore shelves. Who are you to compete?"

Doubt that right back. "What if I figure out what I'm doing? What if I find a blog or book or PDF from a writer who's been in this same position? What if 1000 people want to read exactly what I write? Maybe there are better books, but better is subjective. (Seriously even Stephen King has detractors, right?) What if somebody is going to think my book is better? I want to compete! Maybe I'm a white belt now, but if I just keep at it, I can reach green and brown and black. Maybe my first attempt won't win, but I'm gonna cross that damn finish line."

Tap into a superhero's fortitude and superpowers, and imagine those powers as your own. The Arts provide so many shining examples of protagonists (realistic or futuristic, your choice).

Writers do this in words. We must become pain. We must inflict pain on FEAR. The bogeyman better hear me coming and run like hell. We must become verbally muscular to develop resilience.

Is life really assaulting us or is life throwing too many situations at once?  When we're begging to know why life is "doing this to me", it creates a way forward to change to the question to "Why is life doing this for me?"

Life hands out shit and gold. It isn't evenly dispersed. Gold is rare. Shit is common. However, even in the right hands, shit can be transformed into manure and fertilizer and keep the planet fertile and healthy.

Do not be stopped. Not here. Not now. Feel alone? Call a friend. Feel like being alone, decline the invitations. Do whatever you need to get through this moment and keep your eyes on the prize.

I am on writing hiatus because work is kicking my ass, but the promotion period at work is coming to a close at month end, and Writerly Mackenzie will have ample time and inspiration to hit the laptop with a vengeance. With a fucking VENGEANCE.

The topic was writing is supposed to be hard as fuck. If it were easy, the reward would mean nothing. Typing "the end" would feel like any other day, any other occasion. Wrestling with self doubt, jinx, doom, and inner critic makes finding confidence feel like the special occasion it is. Digging deep inside your mind, imagination and the dictionary makes crafting the perfect sentence feel like victory! It IS victory.

Dear writer, all art is partially self-portrait, so that superhero and protagonist in your story is tapping into your inner - what? Fortitude, cleverness, resilience, insight, wisdom, patience? You have inner something. The only way to develop it is to USE it.

What DO you have going for you? What ARE you good at?

Tap THAT.

There are so many virtues to choose from. Can you be patient with yourself as the ideas percolate in your cranium? Can you write 10 poems in a day while your manuscript sits it out a couple innings? Do you see 50 variations of green in a park? Can you write about that? Are you resilient, fast, strong, tenacious, resourceful, funny, thoughtful, persuasive? You can tap into anything inside you to keep going. And, honest to God, if you can't find what you need within yourself right now, reach out to a friend who encourages you. Cry it out.

I'll leave you with this: When you're tired, rest. But do not quit. Do not fucking quit.

Make your OWN day magical today. Why not? You deserve to encourage yourself, too.
Dammit, I'm all emotional right now.
I'm gonna cross that finish line too.

Mackenzie