Thursday, August 5, 2010

It's Summer. Let's Read with Debut Author Me


I'm not supposed to be here this week, but one of my debut people had to postpone and I didn't want to contact all the rest to reschedule, so since I'm still technically a debut novelist I thought I'd pop in and take this slot. Besides I had some business to take care of, so here's the business first and ABOUT DEBUT ME next.

First, Carla Mooney has announced the winner of a signed copy of Owen and His Dragon. Sooooo, Julie Musil contact Carla through her website and give her your mailing address. Congratulations!

The second order of business is about the Versatile Blogger Award that was passed onto me my lovely Lisa Gail Green and I'm starting to pass it on to others with this post. First, to SUNNYROOMSTUDIO and next to WELCOME TO RAMBLE STREET, then to SUSAN KAYE QUINN. TABITHA LM PRESTON, SHARI LARSEN, and BETH FRED, The other 8 will come after It's Summer. Let's Read ends. Here's the badge, so come and get it wonderful, versatile bloggers.


A native Californian I grew up in a lot of different places; then landed in some beautiful coastal mountains where I live with my family and miscellaneous pets—usually strays that find me rather than the other way around. I write a lot these days, garden in the spring and summer, hike and do yoga. I love to travel, but find being at home really wonderful. My favorite destinations are Turkey and Nicaragua, but because I have family in England, Switzerland, and Spain I love going there as well.

I used to be a lecturer and administrator at California State University, San Jose. My field of Linguistics and Inter-cultural Communication has carried me to a lot of places in the world to explore different cultures and languages. I hate to brag, but I can say, "Where's the toilet?" and "I'm lost!" in at least five languages and two dialects.

In my books I take on issues that today's teens face in their daily lives. In SLIDING ON THE EDGE I tackled  cutting and suicide. In my next book, THE PRINCESS OF LAS PULGAS, that's due out in fall of this year I write about people who lose everything and must rebuild their lives. I just finished a first draft of a third YA novel that deals with  juvenile neglect and Alzheimers.

I'm told my stories are "gritty," but not dark. I hope not. My main theme in all of my writing is that there is hope and there is a possibility for all of us to surmount the most difficult challenges. According to astrophysicists we are made of stardust, so it's my premise that we can shine even in the darkest space.


The advice to writers who want to publish is always the same: write what you love or feel strongly about, don't give up, get a good critique group, pay attention to the rules of submission.

Here's more that I feel are important: develop a sense for when you should move on to another project,  learn when to write "The End" so the story doesn't drag on after it should, play fair and be kind.

SO ARE YOU UP FOR WINNING A SIGNED OR UNSIGNED COPY OF SLIDING ON THE EDGE? I have one right here on my desk that needs a home. Write me something about surmounting a difficult challenge, what it was, how you did it, what you learned by doing it.

I look forward to reading your comments and hope you'll join me on Twitter @cleemckenzie and Facebook.


  1. Thanks for the award! Right now, catching up on my blogging seems an insurmountable challenge! That's not a serious answer to your thoughtful question, but it's all the mush in my brain can muster right now! :)

  2. How lovely the The Versatile Blogger award!! Made my day (and it needed a little boost) ... :)

    In terms of challenges, this won't really count, but I try to do yoga every other morning and, my cat, Lola, loves to join me! Ever tried to do yoga poses when sharing your mat with a cat?

    Lola gets very offended, too, if I gently move her to the side; she prefers the very middle of my yoga mat, purring and purring, as if she's part of my routine! (Lola also likes to wake me up each day around 5:30 a.m. - quite an alarm clock!)

    Lola's picture can be found @ in Sunny Room Room Studio -- enjoy!

  3. Your books sound really interesting. Cutting is a huge issue for teens and I think people don't realize just how much of an issue it is.

    And super thanks for the award!

  4. Thank you for the award!! I'm touched. Hey, I am in LOVE with your book cover. Whoa! I can't wait to read it. Me, me, me... Oh, congrats to Julie M, too. She's wonderful.

  5. Oops, forgot about my difficult challenge.

    During my senior year in high school, I was given an amazing opportunity any young dancer would just die for. A NYC Rockette was told about me, came to see me perform, and offered me a position in her dance class in NY. This just didn't happen. I had my open doorway, my Wonka ticket that could lead to Broadway. Then, my mom was diagnosed with MS. What do I do? Do I go to NY, live out my dream and ignore the plight of my family?

    The fact that I'm writing here says it all. I stayed home to care for her with my dad. But silently, privately it was like someone had died. Dance was my best friend...and it was gone. After a rocky year, many downs and heartbreaks, and just as I was about to succumb to the damaging funnel of anorexia, I met my hubby.

    It took me some time to heal and see that I was more than just that dancer who 'was on her way' but did the right thing. I married, had four children, and now I write.

  6. I loved learning more about you, Lee!
    I've always been a positive person, up for many challenges and usually pulled through with hard work, good decision making, and positive thinking.
    My family may be going through one of my biggest challenges right now with the tough economy. My hubby and I have lots of hard decisions to make soon about moving and job choice. But I know we will get through it and make the right choices for the long run.

  7. I'm so touched by your comments. Life deals us such interesting and challenging hands.

    Sheri, you did make the right choice, I'm sure. It shows such character and I know that will be reflected in your writing.

    Kelly, I'm so sorry to hear about the difficult decisions you and your family are making. My heart and my best thoughts go out to you, my dear. I know that's not much help, but I've been there, so I do understand.

  8. Oh, goody! Thanks for the award :-D here's my link to my responses.

  9. @salarsen - that was a true-blue dilemma. I bet the experience made you a better writer b/c you had to go to some pretty uncomfortable places.

    Lee, I'm glad you did a debut you. It was great to get to know you a little better, although now I'm jealous you have family in SPAIN to visit. I love Spain.

    I am fond of the gritty-but-not-dark story. I think the difference is in how you leave the reader when they finish the book. It doesn't have to be tied up in a pretty bow (and I prefer not!), but leaving with a sense of moving into the light. Going in a hopeful direction.

    All the books sound fab.

    For my own challenge, 12 years ago I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and I thought my life was over. The first few years were extremely painful physically and emotionally b/c I was also going through a divorce at the same time. I always refer to those as my "dark years."

    But instead of suffering alone, as many of us do, I started asking for any and every kind of help. Spiritual guides, alternative healers, western doctors, counselors. Poetry also saved me, and my supportive poetic community. I chose to live the fullest life possible whenever possible, and allow my body to rest when it needed rest. I also decided that I wouldn't be defined by an illness. Everyone, eventually, deals with something. This is my something.

    I had to give up running, but I am an avid cycle commuter. :-)

  10. Wow! These are challenges of the most intense variety. I admire you writers more and more when I learn about you and all that you manage in addition to your writing.

  11. Thanks so much for letting me know about the book win! Me (and my son, Blake) are very excited to read it. I've already e-mailed the author.

    I think your books sound honest, and teens appreciate a healthy dose of that.

  12. Hey, Julie. So glad you were the winner! Let me know about your son's take on the book. Hope he and YOU enjoy. Lovely that you stopped by and appreciate your comment.

  13. I loved how you wrote we are made of stardust, and so we can shine anywhere! Beautiful!

    My biggest challenge was discovering I was pregnant again after we decided we are done having kids (after two kids). Then discovered we were having twins! Our family suddenly doubled! That's the sort of challenge you don't "overcome" - you just take one day at a time and smile at the unexpected turns life takes!

  14. Oh dear! Twins are always a challenge, but after two children already and with the idea that you're done with diapers, twins had to be a super challenge. Thanks for dropping by and for leaving a comment, Margo.

  15. Okay. There's a tie. I'm going to turn the decision over to fate and have someone, not me, draw a name from the old hat.

    And the winner is . . . theaccidentalnovelist!


  16. Yay! I won, I won! :-)

    I'll send you my address via e-mail.

  17. Congrats to the winners! Especially my buddy Julie. :D Love hearing about you! And since it's your book.. My biggest challenge?? How about getting published? LOL. I'd say it's simply juggling kids, writing, and various other life areas to try and maintain balance. Not easy at all! But a worthwhile endeavor.


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