Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Epistolary Novel

What do you think of epistolary novels? I read a recent one the other day and was of two minds. On the one hand, I enjoy the creativity behind a book composed of fictional letters, and the genre is as old as novels themselves. At the same time, how many people in real life write letters anymore?

I tried my hand at an epistolary novel once. I liked it, but several agents I met at a writer’s conference baulked at the idea of an epistolary novel. They’re very difficult to sell and rarely do well commercially. But I’m more concerned with this type of novel from an artistic point of few. Modern communication has changed so much, that a series of lengthy letters now seems archaic and difficult to related to in many ways.

So what do you think? Have epistolary novels had their day? Or is there hope for them in adapting them to the modern world?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

World Cup!


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably been following the exciting finals of the World Cup this year. I’ve never enjoyed watching soccer (futbol) so much! In fact, of the original top 3 teams I picked during the 32 team stage, all of them made it to the semi-finals. Why didn’t I put money on them?! Oh, well.

With literally over 3.2 billion viewers estimated world wide, it’s a safe bet that if you’re reading this you’ve watched at least one game in this year’s tournament.

Croatia and England had a heck of a game today. Both of them are stellar teams. I’ll definitely be rooting for England to get the number 3 spot against Belgium Saturday, but I’ll also assuredly be rooting for Croatia to get the final cup against France on Sunday. May the best team win!


Thursday, July 5, 2018

Happy Independence Day!


We celebrated this 4th of July as we often do. With lots of food, fireworks, and friends. The kids are getting used to looking forward to the holiday, now that they’re old enough to remember previous years.

It’s extra fun too, because our town happens to be one of the few in our area where you can still do fireworks at home. Nothing against the professionals, just sometimes it’s fun to do them yourself. I guess it’s the pyro in me.

I hope all of you have a spectacular 4th and that your summer is shaping up nicely. I’m definitely looking forward to more BBQs and watching the garden grow. What are you looking forward to this summer?

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Writer’s Conference Schedule Released!


The schedule for the Central Coast Writers Conference this September has just been released! I’ll be teaching a couple of classes, as well as sitting in on panels, and providing critique sessions for authors who sign up ahead of time. Needless to say, I’m pretty pumped!

In addition to getting to speak at an awesome conference on the Central Coast, I’ll be in good company as well. Lots of renowned authors will be there, including Kim Addonizio. I remember first reading her poetry in college, and now it’s crazy to think that I’ll be speaking at the same conference as her. How cool is that? Sorry, I’m still geeking out about it.

You can learn more about the conference and the schedule here. I believe there’s also space available still, if you wish to sign up and attend. Hopefully, I’ll see a few of you there!


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Archer


Another favorite TV show of mine these days is Archer. You’ve probably seen the would-be spy/sleuth and his irreverent sidekicks on FX or FXX. The humor is definitely not for kids and likes to push the envelope, but that’s part of its charm. What I really like, however, is how the show has progressed in new “historical era” for its characters.

Two new versions of the show include Dreamland and Danger Island. What I really like about these two spinoffs is that they focus on the glamour of past eras. Dreamland has a very 1930s noir, Hollywood vibe, and Danger Island has a sort of 1940s adventure seaplane backstory in the tropics. Needless to say, they all come with lots of tongue-and-cheek phrasing and jokes that keep on coming through frequent action scenes.

Oddly enough, many of these characters should be unlikable, but it’s difficult not to root for them at times. I especially like how their plotlines have been adapted for more historical circumstances, albeit with a very romanticized touch. Nonetheless, if you haven’t seen Archer yet, I suggest you checkout a few episodes post-haste.


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Why I Like Corny


I enjoy realism as much as the next person, maybe more sometimes. However, I’ve noticed for a long time that most contemporary fiction (in fact SciFi, Fantasy, Literary, etc. for that matter), has gone so dark that happy endings and anything generally positive seems to be on the wane. In fact, I’ve found so many of the books I read now are so dark, that it’s beginning to feel unreal, which kind of defeats the point of realism...but I’m getting off track here.

I’m a romantic at heart, and I enjoy lighter, fun, positive stories too, because, frankly, life realistically has those elements as well. I was watching a documentary on Walt Disney the other day, and one of the faults critics often accused him of back in the day was of having too much “corn” in his plots - which was their way of saying “corny” or fantastical. Instead of shying away, Disney proudly rebutted that he not only likes corn, but that he “is corn.” In other words, corny and romanticism was his thing, and he believed it to be more real or just as valid as any other bent in storytelling.

Perhaps I’m naturally an optimist, but I truly believe that there’s room for a sunny outlook while still maintaining realism within a story. I also think that there’s always a place for myths and legends, whether it be Arthurian or Indiana Jones, and that those stories, no matter how corny, still ring with truth.


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Growing the Garden


Spring is rapidly turning into Summer where I am, and the garden is starting to show it. I take my kids out into the yard nearly every day so that they can help out and get in touch with nature. Plus, we’ve already started harvesting our lettuce, so we make fresh salads every night for dinner. I always like to grow things I can eat!

We’ve been lucky this Spring as well, getting just enough rainfall and sunshine so that I’ve hardly had to water the yard at all. It may not sound like much, but a couple months of natural irrigation saves a lot of money on water bills. Especially, since we grow corn, pumpkins, beans, sunflowers, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, and more! It’s good for the earth and good for our pocketbook all at once. Plus, it all tastes really good.

So how has your Spring and coming Summer been shaping up for you? Any big plans?




Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Up The Country

This three-day weekend, my family and I spent some time out in the country. It’s good to get the kids out in a forest, in touch with nature. Plus some time swimming and eating smores isn’t too bad either.

The weather in Northern California went through a few changes this weekend too. We needed a hot fire going our first night just to keep warm. The next day, it was sweltering enough for all of us to go swimming in the local pool. All in all, a pretty good time.

It’s important to find a place to escape the routine of daily life and find a difference pace. So where do you go to get away from it all? What helps center you and get you back in touch with nature?


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Expanse

So, I’ve got a new addiction. The Expanse. I’ve started reading the novels by James S. A. Corey (who is actually two coauthors, more on that later), and I’m simultaneously watching the SyFy television series of the Expanse as well. I’ve never actually read a series and watched the TV version at the same time. Needless to say, I like both, but definitely have some preferences.

If you haven’t read the books, start with Leviathan Wakes tomorrow. You won’t regret it. One of the coauthors was actually George R.R. Martin’s assistant, so parts of it have a SciFi Game of Thrones feel, but the rest of it is truly original. There’s a lot of hard science in the books as well as some genuinely good storytelling. The series is not finished, and continues to evolve as the authors churn out more sequels.

Even though the books are better, the TV series is still fun. It’s substantially different (about 50% sometimes), so it’s like watching a similar scifi mystery in the same universe, but with different twists and turns. I like the TV series, but I love the books more, no question.

Oddly enough, the SyFy channel has chosen not to renew the successful show after 3 seasons, although there is a campaign by fans to try and get the show picked up by Amazon or Netflix. Either way, I strongly recommend anyone interested in groundbreaking SciFi, neo-noir mystery, or just plain good storytelling to check out the Expanse first chance you get.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Some Very Messy Medieval Magic

Hey everyone, please check out C. Lee McKenzie's newest book: SOME VERY MESSY MEDIEVAL MAGIC.

Pete’s stuck in medieval England! Pete and his friend Weasel thought they’d closed the Time Lock. But a young page from medieval times, Peter of Bramwell, goes missing. His absence during a critical moment will forever alter history unless he’s found. There’s only one solution - fledgling wizard Pete must take the page’s place. Accompanied by Weasel and Fanon, Pete’s alligator familiar, they travel to 1173 England. But what if the page remains lost - will Pete know what to do when the critical moment arrives? Toss in a grumpy Fanon, the duke’s curious niece, a talking horse, and the Circle of Stones and Pete realizes he’s in over his young wizard head yet again...

Release date – May 15, 2018
Juvenile Fiction - Fantasy & Magic/Boys & Men
$13.95 Print ISBN 9781939844460
$3.99 EBook ISBN 9781939844477

C. Lee McKenzie has a background in Linguistics and Inter-Cultural Communication, but these days her greatest passion is writing for young readers. When she’s not writing she’s hiking or traveling or practicing yoga or asking a lot questions about things she still doesn’t understand. http://cleemckenziebooks.com

Links:
Barnes & Noble - https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/some-very-messy-medieval-magic-c-lee-mckenzie/1127622061?ean=2940154648575
Kobo - https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/some-very-messy-medieval-magic
iTunes - https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/some-very-messy-medieval-magic/id1324257652?mt=11
Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/Some-Very-Messy-Medieval-Magic/dp/1939844460/
Kindle - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079V72G8R
Foyles - http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/childrens/some-very-messy-medieval-magic,c-lee-mckenzie-9781939844460
Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37537343-some-very-messy-medieval-magic

Available now!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

First, Second, or Third Person - Which is Best?

I loved everyone’s responses last week about writing from multiple points of view! Based on your comments, I could see that a lot of you logically started discussing preferences for first or third person as well. So I’d like to pose the question: Which is best in a novel, first, second, or third person?

First Person - Super popular. I admit I write and read it myself quite a bit. Although I notice there’s almost a highbrow effort in some circles to make this the only acceptable form of serious literature. Which strikes me as odd because pulp literature loves first person too.

Second Person - The ignored stepchild of perspective. Outside of cookbooks and videogames, we don’t see this too much. But I’ve read and even enjoyed writing in second person, especially in short stories. I think it’s innovative, but are reading audiences really ready for it?

Third Person - Also, mega popular. The old standby, I still enjoy it and I think most people do too. Is it dated or really the best way to move a plot forward still?

So what do you think? What’s your preference? And most importantly, why?

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

POV - One or Many: What’s Really the Best?


It’s sort of like asking someone what their favorite flavor is or which sports team is better...or religion for that matter. When it comes to POV (point of view) in a novel the modern debate only seems to be intensifying. Should there only be one point of view in the story? Two characters’ points of view? A dozen?

Personally, I’ve always loved multiple points of view in a novel, but I’ve also written with just a single point of view myself. I’ve heard every end of the argument. A speaker at a writer’s conference told me she would never represent a book with more than one point of view (which kind of shocked me). At the same time, I know a lot of readers who adore the multiple viewpoints in a book.

So what’s your preference? And more importantly, why? Do you think one way works better with certain audiences or publishers? Do you just like a single or multiple POV simply because it’s your preference or for another reason? Don’t worry, there’s no right or wrong answer!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Book Club for Dark Winds Rising


I had a blast speaking at a book club the other night about my most recent novel, Dark Winds Rising. I’ve been fortunate to speak at several book clubs over the last year for both installments in the Queen Branwen Series, and I look forward to more.

It got me thinking about how special book clubs are. Once many of us have left school and moved on to jobs, families, etc. there often isn’t a venue where we can discuss our books in person with other like-minded readers. I love getting to be part of not just discussing my novels, but other people’s work and interests in a free flowing, open-minded environment.

I guess this is my long winded way of saying ‘thank you’ to all those book clubs out there. Thank you!



You can leave reviews of Dark Winds Rising here at Amazon and Goodreads too!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

My San Bruno, My Home


I never thought I’d have to write this. I worked at Google for 4 and a half years, and every day I walked through the YouTube campus. It’s less than a mile from my house, within easy walking distance. It’s across the street from where I buy my groceries, where I grab coffee with friends, and the park where my children play.

I grew up in this area. Like many, I work in the Tech Industry here and it’s where I raise my family. Everyone knows everyone, from parents to kids to teachers to first responders. It’s a nice slice of Americana where good people have a good chance to live the American dream. And I’m proud to call it my home still.

It’s disconcerting to see places that are so familiar to me now broadcast on the local, national, and international news. To hear the helicopters hovering directly over our house. We are fortunate that everyone we know is safe, both those who work there and live nearby. But not everyone was so lucky.

I tell you all this because until yesterday I was relatively silent. Bad things happen on the news all the time, but it’s always somewhere else, not right in your community and in your own neighborhood. Whatever your beliefs or views, I’m not here to try and convince you one way or the other. But this problem is not going away, and it will not get better on its own. If it can happen here, it really can happen anywhere.

Whatever you believe, whatever you do, I merely ask that you do it with love and compassion. Do something and do something now to change this. Simple kindness to the stranger you pass on the street. Joining the peaceful marches to end gun violence. Whatever your cause remember that real, decent people are hurting and that this violence needs to end.

So hold your loved ones close today, and maybe even a few strangers too. God bless.