Complementing my interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the two hundred and seventy-eighth, is of children’s author and interviewee C Lee McKenzie. If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at author-spotlights.
She wrote her first young adult novel, Sliding on the Edge, after reading a news article about “self-abuse” among ivy league students. It was so disturbing to think young people needed to inflict pain on themselves to cope with their lives that she finally had to write about it. It turned out to be a fictionalize account that she hoped would offer some insights into the growing problem.
Her second novel, The Princess of Las Pulgas, deals with a young girl and her family who must rebuild their lives after the death of the father. Her quick pitch for this book is, “She has everything, and then suddenly almost nothing.
She switched genres last year and wrote a middle grade adventure fantasy. When Kirkus reviewed Alligators Overhead they said, “McKenzie pens a swampy middle-grade story full of humor, hauntings, quirky characters and a mystery that continues to develop to the very end. . . A short, fun story that will excite both young and old imaginations.” (Full Review)
Her short stories are included in two recent anthologies. Premeditate Cat appears in The First Time and Into The Sea of Dew is part of Two and Twenty Dark Tales. Several of her other short stories and non-fiction pieces appear in online magazine.
She’s just finished two young adult contemporary manuscripts. The one she’s title Double Negative, is about a teenage boy. The main themes in the book are illiteracy, delinquency and cyber bullying. Her second YA is titled Sudden Secrets and she’s returned to writing about characters from different generations who come together and in spite of their different world views, connect.
And now from the author herself:
The Writing / Publishing Business — Yesterday and Today
I started writing for publication in 2007, knowing exactly zero about how this business works. Six years later I’m still trying to figure out all that writing and appearing in print really requires. I doubt that I’ll be able to pin it down because just when I think I’ve “got” it, things change.
And how great that is.
When I sent out my first query, here’s how things worked for beginning writers. 1) very few houses and agents accepted multiple submissions. 2) snail mail was the standard contact 3) an SASE had to be included for a reply (they did most generally reply then), so if the postage rates went up while your sub was out, you prayed the agent or editor would lick an extra stamp 4) vanity presses were your only other options if a traditional publisher didn’t buy your book 5) hardcovers and paperbacks were your format choices AND 6) if you did sell your book, you hoped you could have a successful book signing or two!
Today all of that seems so old-fashioned, and it only took six short years for a whole different process to take over. I can’t imagine sending a query or a proposal to only one place. Of course, I’m up front about that and I’m careful to check to see if the agent or editor is okay with multiples. Most are. A few still hold to the old way, so I respect that, but most likely won’t sub to them.
I never use snail mail for subs. Most agencies and publishing houses prefer email with no attachments. If they do ask for snail mail, I don’t send to them. In my mind, they probably wouldn’t be a fit for me. I’m an early adopter of more efficient ways to handle my work, and printing out manuscripts and cover letters to mail isn’t efficient to my way of thinking.
Vanity presses still exist, but there are so many small presses to look to that I’m surprised they are still around. I really love the print on demand options today. We can have our hardcovers, our paperbacks if we want them, but we can have ebooks as well.
Ebooks have revolutionized publishing, but they’ve also revolutionized promotion for authors. I can hold a worldwide contest and give my books to people from any country without breaking my promotion budget. I like being able to include the world in my contests and not limit the giveaway to only the U.S. Saying that a giveaway is only for the U.S. has always seemed wrong to me, even though because of cost it was necessary.
Today anyone can publish, and with over 1,000 books being published each day in the U.S., it seems that everyone is. However, one thing in this business remains unchanged. If you don’t write a good book, people aren’t going to buy it. They won’t even read it for free. There’s no promotion, no slick cover, nothing that replaces a good book. I like that this one thing is the same as it used to be.
As to the future of writing and publishing, I’m sure there are some amazing new developments on their way. In another six years, who knows what this business will look like? Not me. However, I think there will be more opportunities for writers to connect with readers, and I’m sure we will all benefit from that.
You can find more about Lee and her writing via…
- Her website: http://cleemckenziebooks.com
- Her blog: http://writegame.blogspot.com
- Amazon Books: http://www.amazon.com/C.-Lee-McKenzie/e/B0042M1KYW
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cleemckenziebooks
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/cleemckenzie
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As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. If there’s anything you’d like to take part in, take a look at Opportunities on this blog.
I welcome items for critique for the online writing groups listed below:
Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group
We look forward to reading your comments.