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Calling All Authors – An IWSG Post

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2When I started this blog, it was as much to inspire me as well as others.  I had the idea for Behind The Scenes a while back, as a way to feature writers and give other people a glimpse into their journeys. But I lost sight of things and never went ahead with the series. I suppose I was also afraid people would think my questions were silly and that I’m not very good at interviewing people, which brings me to the topic of my IWSG post for this month.

I’m looking for more authors to interview, for what I hope will be a long-running series, Behind The Scenes. Anyone interested?

C. Lee McKenzie has been wonderful enough to kick this series off, giving me the chance and the renewed confidence to attempt this. You can find her interview here to see what you’re getting yourself into (or just to learn more about Lee and her writing journey!)

As writers, we are always riddled with insecurities, some moments of elation, followed by more doubts, and then those hurrah moments–a crazy rollercoaster ride on its own. Still, they say it’s the journey that matters and not the destination. And so I’m curious to hear about your journey and I think others will be, too.

If you’re interested, please contact me using the contact form or leave me with your contact information in the comments section. I hope to hear from you!

You can also find me on Twitter:

 

Insecure Writer’s Support Group is the brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and his co-hosts for August are Sarah Foster, Joylene Nowell Butler, Lily Eva, and Rhonda Albom! Thank you all for your hard work!
______________

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Author Interview: Behind The Scenes with C. Lee McKenzie

Behind The Scenes2

Today in Behind The Scenes, I am very happy to get a chance to interview YA author C. Lee McKenzie. Her latest novel, Double Negative is now available. If you haven’t yet, it’s not too late to join her giveaway!

 

1. Tell us a bit about your writing journey. How did you get started, and how did you get to where you are now?

I’d have to say I got started through a series of well-planned accidents.

I read an article about teens who cut themselves, and it nagged at me for several months. How could young people have to self-inflict pain in order to feel something—in order to have some control over their lives? I knew I had to write something about my reaction to the story, but I didn’t have any idea it would be a novel. Then one day it was. Then the next thing I knew someone wanted to publish it, and in 2009 Sliding on the Edge came out. From then on I was on the train, and I kept writing and subbing until I wore down publishers. I now have three young adult books out.

 

2. Anything you would’ve done differently if you could do it all over again?

Does take up coal mining count? Just kidding. But I often wonder if it wouldn’t have been an easier way to spend my time.

Seriously, I think I would have researched more about what I’d be up against, but if I had, I might not have continued. There’s so much to know and so much to do that’s not related to creating stories, and creating stories is what I really (naively) thought I’d be doing all the time.

Next I would have learned more about how to market books. That has been a huge learning curve for me. I would have built my social media network before I started publishing, but it seemed crazy to do that at the time. I didn’t know if I was going to be published.

 

3. What advice would you give to new and aspiring writers?

Don’t stop trying to be better. I strongly advise reading widely, reading a lot, talking to and sharing writing with other writers, and going to workshops given by talented, experienced people in all phases of this industry.

 

4. Is there any book you’ve written that is particularly special to you? Which one and why?

Sliding on the Edge will always be special because it was my debut book. I formed a deep bond with each of the characters. Shawna, the lost and lonely girl on her way to destruction, will always tug at me. Kay, the grandmother with most of her life behind and so many regrets is still vivid in my mind. Kenny, the mysterious old vet with pain in his heart for something he’d done and must live with was another special character. I’d love to hear more of his stories. I know he has many of them and that some would be difficult to hear, but like all people with shrouded pasts he fascinates me.

 

5. Who would you say is your favorite character(s) from your books, and why? What is it about this character that makes him/her tick?

Shawna and Kay from Sliding on the Edge, of course. They’re so damaged and so in need of each other. From their first meeting, I wanted to let them discover how much alike they were and how, once they let down their barriers, they’d each be okay. It was hard not to let that happen right away, but then I would have had a very short book.

Then I really like Juan Pacheco from The Princess of Las Pulgas. I think I had a crush on Juan while I wrote his story. He’s so self-assured and straight forward, not to mention handsome. I kept thinking what a wonderful boyfriend or husband he would be.

In Double Negative, I’m really fond of Maggie and Fat Nyla. They have wit, and they’re smart. They move ahead with their lives in spite of all the roadblocks I keep hurling at them. Hutch also has a huge hold on my heart. While I was writing his story, I kept asking myself, “What would my life be like if I could barely read?” “Horrible” was the answer.

 

6. Tell us about your new book. What can we expect from it?

Here’s the tag line:
Sixteen-year-old Hutch McQueen is shackled by near illiteracy and trapped in a dysfunctional family. When he tries to escape, he chooses the wrong way and lands in juvenile hall. He might have another chance at the freedom he craves if he listens to the priest and the teacher.

In spite of some of the darker themes, I think readers will come away feeling positive about all of the kids in this story, especially the ones who have the hardest journeys.

 

7. Are you self-pubbed or traditionally published? What made you go for this model? What advice/tips can you share with writers working towards the same goal?

My young adult books are traditionally published. I went Indie with my middle grade, Alligators Overhead. I decided to test the self-publishing route with this one to see 1) if I could do it 2) if I liked it.
The answer to each question is yes.

Here’s my best shot at giving others advice:

*Test out different routes to publication. Decide what you think will be best for you as a writer.
*The publishing industry is fast changing and opportunities for writers are opening up more each day.
*If you go traditional, be ready for a hard road and stick to your guns.
*Rejection of your work is not rejection of you, and you have to tell yourself that.
*If you go Indie, be ready for a hard road and stick to your guns. (Does this look familiar?)
*If you give up you can guarantee failure. Otherwise, you stand a chance of publishing and selling books.

 

It’s a great pleasure to host you in my blog. Thank you!

Thank you. Great questions you asked today.

 

Author Bio: C. Lee McKenzie is a native Californian who grew up in a lot of different places; then landed in the Santa Cruz Mountains where she lives with her family and miscellaneous pets. She writes most of the time, gardens and hikes and does yoga a lot, and then travels whenever she can.

She takes on modern issues that today’s teens face in their daily lives. Her first young adult novel, Sliding on the Edge, which dealt with cutting and suicide was published in 2009. Her second, titled The Princess of Las Pulgas, dealing with a family who loses everything and must rebuild their lives came out in 2010. Her short story, Premeditated Cat, appears in the anthology, The First Time, and her Into the Sea of Dew is part of a collection, Two and Twenty Dark Tales. In 2012, her first middle grade novel, Alligators Overhead, came out.

 

I am always on the lookout for authors to interview for Behind The Scenes. Anyone interested? Please let me know!


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Double Negative: Celebrate With Lee + Giveaway

Today, we celebrate the release of C. Lee McKenzie’s new contemporary YA novel, Double Negative. Congratulations, Lee!

double-negative2-1 Title: Double Negative
Author: C. Lee McKenzie
Genre: Contemporary/Realistic Fiction
Category: Young Adult
Available: July 25 from Evernight Teen

 

Logline:

Sixteen-year-old Hutch McQueen is a smart kid who can barely read. He makes one bad choice after another, trying to find a way to escape his rotten life at home and at school. Each time he gets into more trouble.

 

Summary:

Hutchison Mc Queen is a sixteen-year-old smart kid who screws up regularly. He’s a member of Larkston High’s loser clique, the boy who’s on his way to nowhere—unless juvenile hall counts as a destination. He squeaks through classes with his talent for eavesdropping and memorizing what he hears. When that doesn’t work, he goes to Fat Nyla, the one some mean girls are out to get and a person who’s in on his secret—he can barely read. And then Maggie happens. For twenty-five years she’s saved boys from their own bad choices. But she may not have time to save Hutch. Alzheimer’s disease is steadily stealing her keen mind.

Buy Double Negative

Where to find Lee:

Website Blog Facebook Fan Page

 

Author Bio:

C. Lee McKenzie is a native Californian who grew up in a lot of different places; then landed in the Santa Cruz Mountains where she lives with her family and miscellaneous pets. She writes most of the time, gardens and hikes and does yoga a lot, and then travels whenever she can.

She takes on modern issues that today’s teens face in their daily lives. Her first young adult novel, Sliding on the Edge, which dealt with cutting and suicide was published in 2009. Her second, titled The Princess of Las Pulgas, dealing with a family who loses everything and must rebuild their lives came out in 2010. Her short story, Premeditated Cat, appears in the anthology, The First Time, and her Into the Sea of Dew is part of a collection, Two and Twenty Dark Tales. In 2012, her first middle grade novel, Alligators Overhead, came out.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Runs from July 21 to August 22

 

 

Celebrate The Small Things is a weekly blog hop wherein we post our celebrations each Friday, big and small. Thanks to our host VikLit for this wonderful meme and my fellow co-hosts Diana Wilder, LG Keltner@Writing Off the Edge, and Katie@TheCyborg Mom for their hard work!


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Cover Reveal – The Undead: Playing for Keeps by Elsie Elmore

The Undead Cover

THE UNDEAD: Playing for Keeps by Elsie Elmore

Genre: YA Paranormal

Publisher: Curiosity Quills

Cover Artist: Alexandria Thompson (gothicfate.com)

Release Date: September 3, 2014

Blurb

When an undead woman with serious de-comp issues stalks sixteen-year-old Lyla Grimm, her hope of rescuing her rock-bottom reputation takes a back seat. Especially once Lyla’s new talent of resurrecting the dead draws the attention of Eric, a Grim Reaper with a guitar and a chip on his shoulder.

While Lyla navigates the gossip-ridden halls, Eric works to gain her trust and discover why Death’s clients aren’t staying down. If she passes on her gift, his death-messenger destiny might be altered. But the closer he gets to Lyla, the less sure he is of his plan. The dead are way easier to deal with than the living.

Gossip explodes, the Grimm family implodes, and desperation sets in. Death wants the gift and a soul. Lyla and Eric face hard choices with hidden consequences. Sometimes life’s choices aren’t really choices at all.

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

Lyla
My stomach drops when I see the dead woman lying on the table. Convinced the dim light is playing tricks on my eyes, I reach over and flip the switch. The overhead fluorescents flicker on and light cascades down onto the body. Dread replaces the doubt. I move closer for a better look. She’s not peaceful like the others. This is bad, really bad. Mom will go ballistic when she sees this.

“Lyla, what are you doing back here?” Ben whispers and gives me a playful shove.

I flinch, almost coming out of my skin. Ben’s always been better at the scaring game we started a long time ago. While I both love and hate our game, I also suck at it.

I turn and squint at him. “Asshole. This room should be off limits.”

“Language,” he chides and clicks his tongue. After glancing at the body, he steps up beside me and snickers. “You’re in so much trouble,” he says, drawing out each word as if it were a paragraph.

“No, I’m not.”

“Where’s Kate?”

“She’s gone, I guess.”

Kate Huntington, the eccentric beautician with tacky green highlights is gone, and only her handiwork remains. Glittery blue eye shadow and sapphire eyeliner cover the dead woman’s lids. Black mascara coats her lashes so thickly that her eye sockets resemble piles of tangled spider legs. She looks like a showgirl, an old, dead showgirl. I don’t even want to acknowledge the dark foundation, the cherry red lipstick, or the words “I quit” scrawled in eyeliner across her forehead.

“Mom and Dad are going to freak when they find out she left this. Mrs. Weller’s visitation is tonight.”

“Wait.” Ben’s interest shifts and he takes a closer look at the still body. “This is Mrs. Weller?”

“Yeah.”

“Leave her. Nobody will come see her anyway.” His nose wrinkles at the lifeless form. “Everybody hated her.”

“You hated her. I don’t think everyone else did.”

“She was horrible.”

“You’re still holding a grudge? You were in seventh grade when she busted you for taking off during the Chamber of Commerce field trip. Let it go.”

I lean closer to Mrs. Weller’s face. She looks like a sweet old lady, if you ignore what Kate did, but Ben always hated her. Then again, Ben dislikes most of his teachers. They all want him to work harder to meet his potential. Ben has other plans for his potential.

“Whatever. You wouldn’t know. Your nose stays stuck so far up their—”

I elbow him in the ribs. “Grab me a wet washrag. I’ve got to fix this.”

“No. I’m not touching anything in here, her included.”

“I didn’t ask you to touch her. I just asked you to get a washrag. You scared?”

“Disgusted is more like it.”

I huff, walking over to the sink. The room reeks of disinfectant, but it’s better than the embalming room smell that clings to everything like cobwebs.

“Are you worried Dad will mistake your help for interest? You know, this place isn’t the enemy.”

“Easy for you to say. He’s not trying to steal your future.” He crosses his arms. Ben’s senior year has been a struggle about his future. He and Dad both want control.

Grimm Funeral Home is now run by the fifth generation of Grimms. Dad worked here part-time as a teenager and returned after college just as his father before him had and so on and so on.

“What are you doing here anyway?” he asks. “Mom and Dad will be pissed if they catch you back here.”

“I came to ask Mom about spending the night at Cassie’s.”

“But Mom’s not in here.”

“I know. But I couldn’t walk by the door without peeking. And this is what I found.”

The water from the faucet splashes around the big white ceramic basin. Every room down the back hallway has too much white: white walls, white counters, and white cabinets. Everything feels sterile, worse than a doctor’s office.

“You’re really going to touch her?” Ben asks, now standing farther away from the table.

“Yep. I am.” I haven’t thought about it enough to freak myself out, unlike Ben. “It’s just a body without a soul, like a table. No big deal. Well, except for the horrendous makeup.”

“I wouldn’t. Mom and Dad are going to rail on you if you screw this up, which you’re going to do.” He sweeps his dark hair off his forehead while he inches backwards. “You don’t wear makeup. How are you going to know how to put it on?”

“I’ll rely on my artistic ability.” I dab Mrs. Weller’s face with the warm rag. “Besides, I do wear makeup.”

“Lyla, stop.” He points at the table. “Aren’t you supposed to be licensed or vaccinated to do this? What if she was sick or something?”

Is that genuine concern in his voice? “I’ll be fine. Besides, it has to get done. Mom’s got too much going on today and Dad doesn’t know the first thing about makeup.”

“Touching her is a bad idea,” he snaps.

 

Add The Undead: Playing for Keeps on your Want To Read list on:

Goodreads

 

ElsieElmoreAuthor Bio

Elsie Elmore lives in North Carolina with her husband and two kids.

With a science education degree from NCSU, she never imagined she would someday write stories that challenge the laws of nature. She loves the color red, has an appreciation for chocolate and coffee that borders on obsession, and wishes fall temperatures would linger year round.

Elsie is a member of several writing organizations: RWA, SCBWI, and WSW. The Undead : Playing for Keeps is her debut novel. Find her on the web: on twitter at @ElsieWriter, her blog, or on Facebook.


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My Writing Process Blog Tour

Thanks to the awesome Hayley Knighten for tagging me for this Blog Hop! Check out her blog Books are Delicious! for more amazing content.

 

What Am I Working On?

I am working on a paranormal fiction called Haunted. It’s about a vampire (is that a collective groan I hear? LOL) who has become disillusioned with what he is and the things he’s done because of it.

How Does My Work Differ From Others of Its Genre?

While there’s a strong romantic element that drives the story, that is not the main focus. It’s a bit darker, a vampire having a sort of existential crisis, if you will.

Why Do I Write What I Write?

This is hard to answer because I have all sorts of stories across different genres.  I suppose the simple answer is that I really just like making up stories. They play such a huge part in our lives and we read different kinds of books based on the different moods we may be in at the time. I like to have that diversity and it reflects in my writing–stories that make you laugh, cry, fall in love, or just simply forget about the world around you for a moment.

How Does Your Writing Process Work?

I try to jot down ideas as I have them. The ones that I feel strongly about tend to start developing in my head and I build on that. I get on my computer to write the synopsis, or whatever scenes that have formed, work on a general outline. Depending how long it’s been in my head and how developed the story has become, the outline could be more detailed by then. Once I start writing, I tend to go linear although I’d write a few scenes in advance sometimes.

 

And now for my tags!

Elsie Elmore – Author of The Undead: Playing for Keeps (due fall 2014)

Cathrina Constantine – Author of Wickedly They Come and Tallas

Elizabeth Hein – Author of Overlook and How To Climb The Eiffel Tower (due fall 2014)

Nana Prah – Author of Love Through Time and Midwife to Destiny

 


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Guest Post and Excerpt – Come Back by Melissa Maygrove

I’m very excited to host Melissa Maygrove today. Her debut novel Come Back, a historical western romance, is released today and she’s here to share an excerpt with us, plus a little something I’m sure all of you writers out there can relate to.

 ~ GUEST POST ~

 Things that make you go ugh.

• When you send an email to someone really important, then—ten seconds later—realize your spell-check wasn’t turned on. 0_o

• When your internet service goes down on your busiest blogging day. (‘Course, you might get some word count out of the deal.)

• When you open a critique—of something you thought you nailed—and the first line reads: This might seem harsh. Just remember, I still love you! ducks

🙂

Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Maggie.

*        *        *        *        *

~ EXCERPT ~

[Seth] sighed. “I don’t blame you for what happened. And I trust you.”

“No you don’t,” she choked out.

“Yes I do. But I convinced you to travel with me. I’m responsible for your safety.”

Becca lifted her head and wiped the moisture from her face. “That’s admirable, but it’s not realistic. No matter how hard you try, you can’t protect me from every possible danger. You’ll kill yourself trying.”

Troubled eyes studied her from under drawn brows.

“I mean it, Seth. If you’re not willing to let me do my part, then leave me here. We’ll never make it to California if we don’t work as a team.”

He sighed again and closed his eyes. When he opened them, they were soft with acquiescence. And dull with fatigue. “You’re right.” He brushed the ridge of her cheekbone with his thumb. “I know you can take care of yourself. I didn’t mean what I said before.”

Seth left her and collected Cyrus. “Ride with me?” he asked over his shoulder.

The vulnerability in his voice softened her even more. “Yes.”

“Good.” He mounted and lifted her onto the saddle. “I need a rest. And Sam would skin me alive if I left a lady to walk while I rode.”

Becca sat a little taller and glanced at him sideways. “I’ll go along—in front of Sam. But when we’re alone, that’s another compulsion you’ll have to get over.” She squirmed and shifted her hips. “Riding makes my backside numb.”

“Lord, have mercy,” he muttered. “What have I gotten myself into?”

*        *        *        *        *

Sometimes a single choice alters the course of a person’s life forever.

Come Back
by Melissa Maygrove
Western Historical Romance
Adult / New Adult

Available May 12th from Truelove Press

Where to find Melissa…

Where to find her book…
Amazon / Kindle / B&N / Nook / Kobo

 

Don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads.

Cover designed by Carrie Butler,

 



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Cover Reveal – Come Back by Melissa Maygrove

Sometimes a single choice alters the course of a person’s life forever…

Come_Back_Ebook cover for bloggers

Title: Come Back
Author: Melissa Maygrove
Genre: Western Historical Romance
Category: Adult / New Adult
Publisher: Truelove Press
Cover Design: Carrie Butler, Forward Authority Design Services
Release Date: May 12, 2014

Add to Goodreads

~ ♥ Blurb ♥ ~

Left behind by everyone she loves…

Rebecca Garvey had the promise of a California future dreams are made of, until the wagon train her family was traveling with left her behind. Now she’s slowly dying in the wilderness, abandoned and stripped of her self-worth. Once the shock of her desertion turns to embittered despair, she doesn’t want to be found. Then a handsome stranger challenges her convictions and changes her mind.

Headed for Texas, chased by the demons of his past…

Seth Emerson knows exactly what he wants. Working to save for a cattle ranch of his own keeps him busy and keeps his pain buried. Rescuing a stubborn woman from the hills of New Mexico Territory isn’t part of his plan—but she’s exactly what he needs.

Making greater sacrifices than either of them could foresee…

Seth and Rebecca set off on a risky journey and a quest for truth, each healing the other’s love-starved soul along the way. Will they give in to their growing attraction? Or will they honor their commitments when Seth returns Rebecca to civilization… and her betrothed?

~ ♥ Author Profile ♥ ~

Native Texan Melissa Maygrove is a wife, mother, nurse, freelance editor, and romance writer. When she’s not busy caring for her tiny nursery patients or shuttling teenagers back and forth to after-school activities, she’s hunched over her laptop, complicating the lives of her imaginary friends and playing matchmaker. Melissa loves books with unpretentious characters and unforgettable romance, and she strives to create those same kinds of stories for her readers.

You can connect with Melissa through her website or blog. She’d love to hear from you.