Showing posts with label C. Lee McKenzie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label C. Lee McKenzie. Show all posts

Friday, April 22, 2022

#AtoZChallenge The Shattered Letter S

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The team's theme of the April Blogging from A to Z Challenge this year is:

Today the letter S gets some attention. 

When I set out to write this post, it occurred to me that I’d always accepted our ABC system and never questioned how it developed or who was responsible. It turns out to be a very complicated answer. 

A quick examination—very quick—places the beginning of our alphabet in the 2nd millennium BCE in Egypt. Semitic-speaking slaves who couldn’t understand the complex hieroglyphics, developed simpler phonetic symbols to communicate. A few thousand years later…well, we have 26 letters that we start learning on Sesame Street. 

Thank you, ancient people, for starting the system that gave us those beautiful letters so we could create words.  I’m quite sure that I, for one, wouldn’t be writing books if I had to do so in Egyptian hieroglyphics. 

While the alphabet is always important to me, S has been a special letter these past few months because I just published another book—Shattered, A Story of Betrayal and Courage

Some readers who have enjoyed the story say: 

“So. Much. Fun. I had so much fun reading this and the characters were super interesting including the dynamics the characters have created. I really loved this!—Nora Fatima (Bookseller)

“I really enjoyed the mystery to this. We are given random chapters called “the arrangement” that give clues to the fact that Libby’s accident wasn’t an accident after all and was actually orchestrated by a rival skier (or was it?)  I liked the character growth we see in not just Libby but some of the side characters as well. This story felt real and painful and I honestly was hooked from the first page. The twist ending made my thriller self very happy and in the end this was a really heartwarming story.”— Kortnie R., Reviewer 


C. Lee McKenzie


I'm a native Californian who grew up in a lot of different places; then landed in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I write most of the time, hike and practice yoga a lot, and then travel whenever I can. 

In my young adult books, I take on modern issues that today's teens face in their daily lives. My Evernight Teen Publication, Double Negative was voted as one of the best top ten Young Adult books, 2019. My other books, The Princess of Las Pulgas, Sliding on the Edge, Sudden Secrets, Not Guilty, and Shattered are out to four and five-star reviews.  
If you visit my website and sign up for my Email Connect (emails two times a month)there's a free short story for you! Please stop by.

In Shattered, nineteen-year-old Libby Brown's big dream is winning gold the winter Olympics. ๐Ÿฅ‡ What's your big dream?

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Monday, March 30, 2015

C. Lee McKenzie Meet Your Host


The Hosts during this challenge are a varied as the stock at K-Mart. We come from all kinds of backgrounds, we're of different belief systems, we live in places all over the world.

Isn't it amazing that we can come together like this to complete such a unified and demanding task? Twenty-six days of blogging and commenting. Makes my brain tired. You've already met some of these Team Members; now it's my turn to reveal who I am.

My Work
When you were invited to ASK US ANYTHING on the AtoZChallenge Blog, the questions were as varied as the Hosts. Here are some of my answers to your questions.

Susan Scott  wanted to know what our best form of exercise was. That's so easy for me to answer. I hike or I do Yoga. For hiking all you need is good pair of shoe and water. I don't have to haul around a golf bag or find a partner to hit a ball to me across the net. It's just me and trail. Yoga doesn't even require shoes! I think you can categorize me as a minimalist.

Barbara in Caneyhead asked what we'd do if our computer bellied up during the Challenge. Don't even think that, Barbara! But if it did, I'd hock the cat and buy a new computer.

CA Heaven asked if we were skiers, and I answered I used to be. If I had to choose between skiing Breckenridge or Arapahoe Basin, I'd choose Breckenridge.

Betty asked a great question: How do we mange time during the A/Z Challenge. My answer was simple. Get up earlier . Go to bed later. Take breaks, stretch and walk. The family's on its own in April. 

Now I've planned a hike for this morning, so I'm out of here. Bye computer. Bye Internet. See you later.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Turning Over A New Leaf in 2015

I'm often tempted to "Turn Over A New Leaf" when a new year arrives, aren't you?

  • Be a kinder person.
  • Eat more vegetables.
  • Save the world.
  • Have the best theme for AtoZ ever.
  • Floss. 

Here's how I imagine categories of folk might try to turn over a leaf or two.

Book Blogger: Begin blogging in Spanish and become as successful a blogger as Paulo Coelhos.

Novelist: Write the next Hunger Games trilogy.

Chimney Sweep: Have a good facial scrub before the singing begins.


Now this guy would take me literally. What better time to mulch stuff than in January. Those leaves make the earth ripe and ready for the seeds come April.

What's your new leaf? Or do you prefer to ignore the idea of fresh starts in a new year? As for me, I'm off to find a pitch fork and do some turning of the earth. I'm already itchy to plant my April crop.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloweens Past


This was a photo moment that I'll never forget. My husband had just carved this pumpkin and set it out, when our cat, Champ, jumped onto the railing and poked his nose in to see what that other CAT was doing on his deck. Champ isn't with us anymore, but this delightful moment is, and I trot it out every Halloween to remember and enjoy.

When I debuted with my first book,  I was lucky enough to be in a group called the 2009 Debutantes. A lot of those writers had a lot of experience in promotion, something I sorely lacked. Here's one of their ideas that I took part in that October. We competed to see who could bake the best Halloween cake. Mine was a graveyard cake. I thought it was First Prize material, but I didn't win. Someone much more clever than I baked a Red Velvet Pulsing Heart Cake. I had to admit it was special and creepy. But here's my attempt. 

What do you do to celebrate the ancient holiday? Has anyone done a theme on the A to Z about Halloween? I know it's hard to think about pumpkins in April, but it might be interesting. I'm thinking ahead, you see.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

October, A Time For Ghost Stories

October is a time for settling in with hot spiced cider, a blanket and a good book, preferably one with a with a great ghost story.
 You’re seated around the campfire, light flickering over the faces of those huddled there with you, and one of your friends is telling a story--not just a story--a ghost story. That prickling at the back of your neck, the way your breathing grows shallow and you wrap your arms around yourself bumps your heart up to high. It’s a cool night, but tiny beads of sweat collect at your hairline. 

It’s fear time, baby, and your body’s reacting to that familiar emotion, the one you experience whenever you’re scared by something and you’d like to pull the covers over your head or--better yet--run!

And you’re thrilled, right? Fear heightens awareness and cancels all the mundane concerns. For this moment you’re transported, you’re “alive” and “tingly.” This is one reason everyone loves a good ghost story. Another is that ghost stories try to demystify death, that one inescapable universal. This is why Halloween with its seasonal creepiness has such appeal and why this ancient Celtic celebration, steeped in ghostly myths, has continued in some form into the present day. 

What's Halloween without a CAT and a Jack-O-Lantern? Oh and I know there's a ghost at the window.

A few literary facts: 

The thirteen stories nominated for the Booker Prize in 2011 were about death. Here’s an interesting link on how to get published by writing about death.

Some of the best known and loved classics in literature are ghost stories: The Raven [Poe], A Christmas Carol [Dickens], The Turn of the Screw [James]. 

Today ghost stories are among the favorites of young readers. Dead Connection, The Body Finder, The Ghost Sitter, Stonewords: A Ghost Story and on and on. 

So I’ve written some ghostly tales. Some have been published in magazines, some are still on my C drive waiting for a publisher to find them :-), and some are still in my head. But this time of year I’m stirred to read and write about ghosts who walk in the night, about restless spirits seeking revenge, about pumpkin-evil stuff. 

And you? Do you love to read ghost stories? Do you love to write them? What are your favorite ones?

Here are some Ghost Stories I've downloaded just to get in the mood.

Any ghost stories you particularly love and maybe read more than once? And speaking of ghost stories, if I could find a ghost story with X, I might consider the A to Z Theme, All About Ghosts. I know haunted places have been done, but has anyone A to Zed about ghosts?

Monday, September 29, 2014

September Wrap Up

When I was writing Double Negative, I started researching reading and literacy programs. What I discovered made me very nervous about the future of our country. Our low literacy and illiteracy rates are shocking.

Here are two stats from literacy advocacy groups that made me sit up and pay attention.

  • 33% of the population in Los Angeles 
  • 25% of the population in New York 
have been identified as being low literate or illiterate.

So when I learned that September was National Literacy Month (NLM), I decided to try something to promote literacy awareness, and I targeted writers as participants. Since I didn't know if this would work, I started small. Here's what I did.

  • I created a List on Twitter @WeWrite4U_Lit, telling about NLM.
  • I wrote 12 Tweets (three sets) for those interested to copy and paste, and I supplied sources.
  • I posted a Linky on my blog just so I knew who would be interested.

This is what happened.

  • 18 people signed up
  • We generated a lot of (I couldn't keep up with them, so I don't have a count) of Tweets and RT's
  • Some writers became very creative and Tweeted with the @WeWrite4U_Lit and a free book link
  • On International Literacy Day, we joined the #selfielit event and posted selfies as we read books. This turned into a nice promotional bonus for several writers.

For the first time out, I think this was a success. I loved that we were using Social Media for such a positive and important cause. I plan to do it again next year with some changes based on what I learned. 

And so that's a wrap for September. It's been a hot but glorious summer. I hate to see the sun move low in the sky and the days grow short, but it's part of the cycle of things. I know fall will bring its own joys and rewards. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

National Literacy Month and Happy Labor Day

Co-creator of Spider-Man, the Hulk, Xmen, Iron Man and the Fantastic Four and Honorary Chair of Library Card Sign-up Month Stan Lee.

September is National Literacy Month and Library Card Sign-Up Month. And as a writer I'm interested in raising awareness about this issue. After all, I write books, and what's the use of doing that if people can't read them? Here are some stats that I discovered when doing research for my latest novel in which my main character is barely literate.

  • 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) revealed that 90 million Americans read at basic and below basic levels. READ MORE
  • The anual U.S. cost for low literacy is mind boggling: 80 billion in lost worker productivity, 225 billion lost to unemployment benefits, lost taxes and crime. Literacy Partners 
  • L.A. county, population 7,000+ has 33% of its people who are lacking basic literacy Visalia Times READ MORE
  • 2 million New York City residents are functionally illiterate (25%) READ MORE .
  • 32 million (14%) of U.S. adults can't read and 774 million people worldwide can't read. READ MORE
If any A to Zers are interested in joining the cause here's the LINK to my post about Writers Supporting Literacy. 


And now LABOR DAY!

Labor Day has been with us for 132 years. The U.S. celebrated the first one on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City. Then in 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday.
Over the years, it's had it's poster girl and other spirited patriotic images to communicate the U.S. Can Do spirit.

Here's the famous Rosie The Riveter that was popular WWII. 


Have a safe, wonderful, restful LABOR DAY! 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Does Weather Affect Your Stories?

Being a California native, I’ve always had to take trips to experience “weather” in the sense of really hot and humid (Southeast Asia) or really cold (Alaska).  Most of the weather we get is of the medium variety (50-70 degrees) with a rare freeze and sometimes a few days in the hundreds during August. And boy do we complain when any of those "extreme" days happen. I think we’re weather sissies.

When I thought about how the weather affected my writing, I had to scratch my brain a bit to come up with something. Then I went to my journal and thumbed through a few entries. What I found was I become more prolific on either really stormy days (usually about day three) or on really sunny, sparkly days. And I know this because I have pages that remark on exactly these weather conditions.

I did discover that any settings I write about during those wintery times have a lot of clouds and windy electrifying scenes.  Here's some wintery day writing.

The first time Marian met Justin Kane, he stood at the center of the burned out lot, making notes on a yellow legal pad while trying to stay dry under his oversized black umbrella.  The unexpected September rain had started early that morning and gave no sign of stopping.  Now with thunder promising an electric sky, the wind picked up and whipped at her jacket, blowing sharp, cold drops against her cheeks. 

There are several summer notes that involve toasty park benches with fountains playing in the background. 

The sun hung in the window, filtering light through the old glass and tinting everything amber inside the kitchen. Outside the fountain sprinkled into the pond, teasing fish to the surface. 

Since I like to write in different locations, when the rain keeps me inside I often roam to different rooms with a clipboard. I do this roaming after I put in a morning (between 4 and 8 is my usual stint) at my desk, pounding on my computer keys. Those spring and summer days allow me to be in the garden or on a hike with my journal tucked into my backpack. I can always spot entries I’ve made outside. They’re smudged with dirt and sometimes a leaf falls out when I flip the page--a small token of a day I’ve lived and written about.

One other thing I discovered, thanks to having thought about weather and writing at the same time, is that I’ve made so many notes about the sounds and textures of what I’m surrounded by, that I have tons of weather to include in almost any book I write that takes place above ground level. 

I keep thinking that Poe must have had a lot of bad weather. Dicken’s, too. I mean all of that snow and British fog had to have some effect on those stories. I’ll bet Miss Haversham wouldn’t have lived in that dark house with the moldy wedding feast if Dicken’s had written his story in, say, Hawaii.

How about the rest of you? Does weather affect your characters and your setting? Ever thought about it? 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Social Media Tricks from A to Z from C.Lee McKenzie: An Post A-to-Z Road Trip Special

       C. Lee McKenzie can usually be found at her blog The Write Game, but today she's here visiting us at Blogging from A to Z.   She's also celebrating the release of her latest book Alligators Overhead, which you can find out more about by clicking on the links at the bottom of this post.  

If you're a writer, you want others to know who you are and what you're writing. You want to find other writers to connect with and readers who will buy your books. Today the publisher's budgets allow for very little support unless you're a bestselling author, so getting the word out is pretty much your job. Of course, if you're self-published it's 100% your job. 
 Social Media to the rescue. 
      And, in my opinion,  one of the quickest and most painless of these media is Twitter. 
     I thought it might be helpful for those A to Zers on this  Road Trip to have a few Twitter Do's and Don'ts--kind of road signs to read along the way--so here's my A to Z Twitter  Tips.

A. Ask for help. Do you need feedback on your WIP or do you want to know what readers think of your published work? Ask. Tweeters are eager to jump in with comments.

B. Be nice. Be kind. Snarky works for some, but like my grandmother always said, "You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar."

C. Converse with your readers and other writers. Get to know them. Let them know you. That generates interest in your work.

D. Discover stuff: quotes, facts, other writers with the same or similar issues.

E. Events are out there on Twitter. Find out about them. Post some of your own. Maybe you're doing a giveaway or hosting a launch on facebook. Make sure your Twitter followers know about those.

F. Find a job. Writing doesn't always pay the electric bill, right? Here's a link that takes you to JOBSEARCH

G. Grammar check. There's always a prescriptive grammarian hanging out on Twitter. You just have to nudge them and they'll give you the "correct" answer. *Raises hand and admits to a touch of the prescriptive grammarian in her.*

H. Help others. When you're in a Twitter conversation you often find that a writer could use a "hug" or encouragement. Maybe just a, "I've been there and understand" will be enough.

I. Issue book updates or where you are in your current WIP. That creates a bit of buzz and interest.

J. Joke a bit and have fun. This is a great way to take that break from the scene that's not working. It's a great way to connect with others in the same situation. Who knows, you might pick up just the prompt you need to return to that scene and finish it. 

K. Keep in touch. I might be away from home and on my iphone, but I can pop into Twitter, say hi, share where I am and what I'm doing. My main blog might be quiet, but my "microblog" isn't.

L. Look for agents or new publishing houses, accepting submission. Link up with an agent and start a dialog. Who knows, they might like your style enough to check your blog out. It's happened. And I personally know of one contract signed because the agent loved the writer's blog style so much.

M. Motivate others and you'll motivate yourself. In 140 characters it's easy to say something encouraging.

N. Never be all about "ME."  Care about the people you follow and who follow you.

O. Open longer exchanges. I often DM a friend and say, "Check email" or "Call me" when I want to discuss something in more depth.

P. Practice writing short, specific and effective sentences. Be clever. It's good practice for writing anything.

Q. Quotes--share them. I love to find a great quote while I'm Tweeting. 

R. Report problems. When you see a blog post that's gone weird because of a code issue, alert the blogger on Twitter. I had someone do that for me, and I really appreciated it. I hate it when something's not right with my blog posts.

S. Search, using the search tool to find someone you'd like to follow. 

T. Tweet about conferences before you go to a conference. Establish a rapport with the presenters and those attending. This year I tweeted with an agent and knew she'd been out walking on the beach. When I met her at dinner, I had a way to introduce myself by asking her how she'd enjoyed her walk. Nice ice breaker.

W. Writing. Writing . Writing. Get help. Give help about this amazing talent you and the others on Twitter have. You never know what exchange might trigger an idea.

X. X-out people who don't follow back or interact with you. You want your Tweeter followers list current. Here's where you can find out who's following you and who's interacting with you .
Y. YOU. Be who you are. 

Z. Zippy Tweets pay off, so don't be mopey, just honest. "2day I'm not writing anything my dog couldn't chew up." 

Happy Tweeting. And  . . . ahem . . . RT if you found this helpful.
C. Lee McKenzie
Alligators Overhead AMAZON

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