Thursday, August 23, 2012

Author Interview: C. Lee McKenzie

I often chat about how quickly time "flies by" and the friends I have made in cyberspace. C. Lee McKenzie is one of those dear friends who I met early on in my writing career and work at Stories for Children's Magazine. We have developed a lovely bond across technology and we remain connected today. I'm delighted to have recently caught up with Lee and I took the chance to interview her on her ever growing writing career.

Welcome Lee...lovely to have you here...


I'm so excited to be here, Donna. I'm one of your fans and have been since I first "met" you at Stories for Children. 

Wow, a fan...I believe you are my first admitted fan...thanks!

Donna: As everyone is an individual each author’s road to publication is unique. Please share with us what or whom inspired you to become a writer.

Lee: I suppose the biggest inspirations were the books I read growing up. Alice in Wonderland and Anne of Green Gables are two that still stand out as stories I lost myself inside of and wished I could never leave. I didn't know it then, but that was probably when I realized how magical words could be if you put them together in just the right way. I’ve been trying to do that ever since. 

Donna: Please share with us your inspiration, synopsis, and publication information for your upcoming middle grade novel, Alligators Overhead. Love the title and book cover!

Lee: The truth is I once had a knotty pine ceiling in my bedroom and every time I'd lie staring up at that ceiling I'd see alligators in the wood grain. Their eyes peered down from those brown knots. I used to imagine them up there "slooping" around and thinking of ways to get me. That's where the title came from, and I've had that in my head for years. Then one day I thought how fun it would be if I had a lovable rascal and a sidekick in an adventure that involved those alligators. That's when Pete Riley arrived along with that sidekick I'd imagined. I named him Weasel. All I needed was a way to get those alligators overhead.
Here's what the story's about: Alligators, witches and a spooky mansion aren’t your average neighbors . . . unless you live at the edge of the Ornofree swamp in the backwater town of Hadleyville. The town’s bad boy, Pete Riley, may only be twelve, but he’s up to his eyeballs in big trouble, and this time he isn’t the cause. This time the trouble arrives when a legendary hundred-year-old mansion materializes next door and the Ornofree alligators declare war to save their swamp from bulldozers. Things only get worse when Pete’s guardian aunt and several of her close friends vanish while trying to restore order using outdated witchcraft. Now Pete must find the witches and stop the war. He might stand a chance if his one friend, Weasel, sticks with him, but even then they may not have what it takes.

Donna: Lee, you write across the genre’s… what challenges do you come across in children’s short stories, middle grade and young adult?
Lee: Short stories are a big challenge for me. They’re right up there with poetry. Every word should count and every image should reveal layers of the story. I’m not as good at short stories as I’d like to be, but I enjoy practicing.
As to middle grade I think I’m a case of arrested development because I love playing with this category. I have another one on my C drive called Journey to Murrg that I’m having tons of fun with. I don’t find these challenging. I find these sheer pleasure.
With young adult, I’m feeling a little limited by this category. That’s my biggest challenge right now. What I want to write isn’t a fit, so I’m holding off on these for a while until I figure out how to deal with them. I have two in different stages of revision, and I’m really finding it difficult to finish those revisions.
Donna: You have an outstanding number of followers to your blog http://writegame.blogspot.com/ and your visitor blog comments are consistently in the high 20s and above! What do you attribute to your blogging success?

Lee: Sheer determination and lots of time. Really. Then, of course, really liking your readers helps. Not only does this motivate me to keep blogging, but it also motivates me to spend the time that I’d ordinarily use for writing. These are people who have such a variety of backgrounds and interests, who write well, who share information that helps others in this business and who I find fascinating. If I were to make any suggestions to new bloggers it would be these:
       Be yourself.
       Be fair and kind.
       Be of service.
       Be as consistent as possible.
       Be sure to respond to your comments.
I’m sure there’s more, but these are the guidelines I follow.
      
Donna: A signature request I like to ask every author, illustrator, editor, etc., I interview is for the individual to share with us a tidbit form their lives that the reader will find either humorous or surprising. Lee, please share one with us?

Lee: The humorous ones are always about me looking ridiculous. And this one is no exception. I love river rafting, and I love to do challenging rapids in small rafts. One year I ran what’s called the Tunnel Chute. That year it was class 5, so a lot of rafts were portaging around. My group decided to shoot it. I didn’t vote because as I stood on the edge of the canyon looking down it’s narrow throat, that water poured through fast and mean, and my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth. As soon as we hit white water, our guide flew out the back. Now that’s serious because he was the one who knew this rapid and could call what to do when. Not this time. He was swimming. I popped out next, but I had a death grip on the rope, so I didn’t swim; I became a “dragee” instead. Bad. Very bad. Because I lost the bottom to my bathing suit. Yep. When we finally came out the other side, I had to stay in the water until someone could find me replacement shorts. Try dressing under water. Oh, I forgot. I was the only female on this raft.

Donna: Oh my goodness and it figures just as luck would have it you were the only female. 

Exciting news from Lee... I’ll be interviewed by a radio station in Florida. The program features authors and their books.  http://www.tantalk1340.com/ Mine will be aired August 28 10AM to 11AM eastern time. 

Congratulations on your radio interview. I'm looking forward to tuning in.

Check out Lee's latest book, Alligators Over and be sure to view the alluring book trailer... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YP9I401gWNQ



Best wishes for your continued success! 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Award-winning Children's Author
Connect with
The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval Recipient and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist








16 comments:

  1. Lee, one thing that is consistent through the writing world is the respect and fondness people have for you. You're a generous person as well as a talented writer. Really great to learn more about you. And I love your rafting story. Oh my gosh, so funny!

    Thanks for the interview, Donna!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Kai,

      Thank you for taking the time out to visit with Lee today. She is a true inspiration and giving person.

      All the best,
      Donna

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  2. Hi Lee,

    Welcome and congratulations on Alligators Overhead. The cover, synopsis, and book trailer have me hooked. Can't wait to read and review it!

    All the best,
    Donna

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    Replies
    1. Lovely! Really look forward to your take on this one. You write such great books for young readers.

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  3. I agree with Kai - Lee is such a class act. I am one of her biggest fans and always learn something new from her blog as well as reading and taking apart her books.

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    1. Thanks Darby. I always appreciate your Colorado support!

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  4. Hi, I'm a little late due to. . . being a little late. This has been quite a week for me and my alligators! Thanks again for the time and space to talk about the book.

    I'll be back today to say hi again.

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    1. Sandy,

      Thanks for visiting with Lee. Your interest is appreciated!

      All the best,
      Donna

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  6. Those are good guidelines to follow. I need to pick up your alligator book now.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Diane,

      Thanks for stopping by and supporting Lee. Have a great day!

      All the best,
      Donna

      Delete
  7. Hi Diane,

    Sales are more than appreciated. In this economy they're cherished! Do you take hugs? :-)

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  8. Yikes. An experience you'll never forget. Enjoyed learning more about you, especially like the alligators on your ceiling. You never know where a story idea will come from. Best of luck with your books.

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    Replies
    1. You're right. Stories grow out of such odd things and never in a straight line, either!

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  9. share motivational words buddy. Ignore those who try to bring you down, they do it because they have to be next to you. Greetings may be useful and successful always yes: D. I wait behind the visit.

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  10. Nice Article! Thanks for sharing with us.

    Jungle Camp

    ReplyDelete

Thank for you taking the time out to visit with me and to learn about my writing career.

Please be sure to leave your blog address so I can reciprocate.

I look forward to visiting you too.