Monday, March 8, 2010

Spotlight Author with Lee McKenzie

Almost five months have passed since I met my friend and newest Spotlight Author, Lee McKenzie. She is another one that I had the opportunity to meet up with at The Emerald City Romance Writers conference. She is a Harlequin writer for their American Romance line and a great one at that. I would like to welcome her here at Micole Writes Romance. Hope you enjoy getting a glimpse into her writing life and the new and exciting things that she has in store for everyone in 2010.

Micole, thanks for inviting me to join you and your readers today. I am thrilled to be here!

Well, Lee we are happy to have you here!!! Why don't you tell us a little bit about your latest release.

I write for Harlequin American Romance. My last book, WITH THIS RING, was a December 2007 release. It's a runaway bride story with a bit of "riches to rags" twist on the Cinderellla story. WITH THIS RING is still available as an ebook at

What do Lee McKenzie fans have to look forward to in 2010?

I'm currently working on a series set in San Fransisco. In FIREFIGHTER DADDY (July 2010), sparks fly when a confirmed bachelorette meets a devoted dad. The second book in the series, (tittle TBA) will come out in January 2011.

That's exciting! What would you consider your writing process? Plotter or Panster?

I am definitely a panster, and a messy one at that. I start with two characters and a vague premise. The story reveals itself as I write, which means I go back to the beginning... a lot!... to set things up a long the way. Each book is a unique and challenging adventure!

I know what you mean, Lee. I am a panster for the most part myself. How long does it take you to write a manuscript?

There are days when I wish I was one of those writers who can produce thirty pages a day, but I'm not. For now, two books a year is a comfortable pace for me.

What is the hardest part about your job?

Writing a proposal is a challenge because it means having to produce a synopsis for a book that has yet to be written. Not as easy for a panster who often doesn't know how the story will end until I have written "the end." The wonderful thing about romance, though, is the gaurantee of a happily ever after, and at American Romance we especially love to add an "aw factor" to our HEAs.

What is your favorite thing about being an author?

I worked really, really hard to become a published author and am so proud to be writing for Harlequin. One of my favorite things, hands down, is the reaction I get when I tell people I'm a Harlequin romance author. Doctors, lawyers, business people, scientists, teachers, customs officers, hotel desk clerks, family, friends, neighbors... both men and women... are always so impressed when I tell them I'm a Harlequin romance author. I've often heard romance writers say they get the eye rolls and snide comments, but I'm happy to say that has never been my experience.

How long was your road to publication?

The first book I sold, THE MAN FOR MAGGIE (June 2007), was my sixth complete manuscript. I'm a four-time Golden Heart finalist so I'd like to think I came close with a couple of others. I had been trying to write romantic suspense, which I love to read, but it turns out that my voice is better suited for more lighthearted contemporary romance.

Any advice for aspiring authors?

If this is your dream, if being a romance author is what you really and truly want, then you have to be persistent, see yourself as a professional, and look at writing as a career.

Everything you've been told about joining RWA, learning the craft, studying the market, finding a critique group, submitting, rewriting, resubmitting... it's all true. Commit to it.

Most of all, believe in yourself. Know in your heart that your current manuscript is the best thing you've ever written. If it doesn't sell, move on to your next project. It'll be even better.

That is great advice, Lee! Do you have any tricks of the trade that you are willing to share with us?

After you've studied the market, write what you lve, not what you think will sell. Don't compare your success to anyone else's. You'll make yourself crazy. Be modest about your success, or you'll make everyone else crazy.

Some writers say that they have a story that has to be told, other's say that the characters come to them and demand their story be told... how does it work for you?

I'm a panster, remember? For me writing romance is all about the characters. As I Get to know the hero and heroine, they gradually reveal their story. Letting them lead me is downright terrifying at times, but it's also what keeps the process fresh and fun.

Now for a little fun... here are your FAST FIVE.

Briht Sunny Days or Cozy Moonlit Nights-

The short answer is... both. Here's why. A couple of years ago, my husband built a folly for me in our backyard. It's a perfect place to sit with a book or my laptop on a warm sunny day, and it's just perfect at night with a cozy fire and glass of wine.

Milk or Dark Chocolate-


Coffee or Tea-

Coffee in the morning. Tea in the afternoon.

Love Letters or Serenade-

Love letters, because I can read them over and over and over again. Unless of course you're Michael Buble, and then bring on the song.

Cowboy or Businessman-

I can't have both?

Sure you can Lee. I won't be the one to tell you, you can't. Thank you so much for joining me today. I look forward to your guest blog appearance on July 13th.

Micole, thank you so much for inviting me to join you today! I look forward to coming back in July when FIREFIGHTER DADDY is released!

Hugs and happy writing to all!

Thank you all for stopping by my blog. All of my faithful readers out there... your visits mean so very much to me! Please make sure to keep stopping by my blog and do me a favor... tell a friend! I know all of you will want to visit Lee at her website: or her blog: and on the 24th of every month at Harlequin American Romance Author's blog: You can also find her books at or

Until next time friends.


Micole Black


Melissa Mayhue said...

Congratulations on your upcoming releases, Lee! [And a big wave to Micole!]

~ Melissa

Micole Black said...

Waving back at you Melissa!!! Thanks for stopping by!!! I miss you friend!



Lee McKenzie said...

Thank you, Melissa!

Jodie Esch said...

It was great to read your comments about synopsis writing. For sure, it is tricky when one isn't super sure how one will get to the end.
Your writing journey has been challenging. Congratulations for having such a great work ethic and vision.

Susan Lyons said...

As another pantser, yes, messy is such a great way to describe it! Some days I think it would be so much easier to be a plotter, but we are what we are.

And you're so right about not comparing your career to someone else's. There will always be someone who breaks in faster, who's more successful, who's simply a more brilliant writer. I try to use them to inspire rather than discourage me.

Looking forward to your next book!

Lee McKenzie said...

Jodie, thanks for dropping by today!I'm trying to remember if I've ever heard anyone say they love writing a synopsis. I'm pretty sure I haven't ;)

Lee McKenzie said...

Hi, Susan! Pantsing is a challenge, for sure. I have tried plotting, but by chapter two or three something will happen that adds a whole new twist to the story. I've learned to live with that, and with the terror that sometimes accompanies not knowing what happens next.

Tracy Stewart said...

Great interview Lee (and Micole). I enjoyed it very much. :o)

Lee McKenzie said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Tracy!

Connie Wood said...

Hi Lee, Hi Micole,
Great interview. All of your comments ring true with me. Being a romance writer is a proud thing to be, and I am also happy to be able to call myself that.
It's so important to treat writing like a career and take it seriously but keep the love of it. I can see that you obviously do both.
Connie Wood

Gillian Layne said...

I can't wait for your next release, Lee. Thanks for sharing all the great advice.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I'm late to the party Lee. I've been deep in a very fast turn-around of copy edits for my first book.

Can't wait for your July release. Are you signing in Nashville?


Micole Black said...

I want to say thank you to all of my new posters... Jodi, Susan,Tracy, Connie, Gillian, and Angi. I'm so glad that you made it by Micole Writes Romance to visit both Lee and I.



Lee McKenzie said...

Connie, it's so nice to hear that my comments ring true for others, too. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

Lee McKenzie said...

Gillian! I'm so glad you found me here at Micole Writes Romance! Thanks for joining us!

Lee McKenzie said...

Hi, Angi. I'm not going to the national conference this summer :( but I'll definitely be going to NYC!

I'm looking forward to your debut in September, Angi!

FYI, everyone. Angi's debut with Harlequin Intrigue - Hill Country Hold Up - will be out in September 2010. Can't wait!

Lee McKenzie said...

Micole, thanks again for asking me to do an interiew. This has been a lot of fun, and I look forward to coming back in July!

Sarah Simas said...

HI Lee and Micole!

Awesome interview! I really loved the advice for aspiring authors. I seriously need to stamp those words on my wall above my PC screen!

Best wishes for your July release! :)

Thanks, Micole! ((hugs!))

Lee McKenzie said...

Thank you so much, Sarah! Good luck and happy writing!

Mimi Barbour said...

Great interview Micole and Lee. Loved the photo of your special place...lucky you!
Can't wait to get my hands on your new book Firefighter Daddy...

Lee McKenzie said...

Thanks, Mimi! The folly is one of my favorite places in the world, and it's just a few steps from my back door.