Three Times A Charm with C. Lee McKenzie

Three Times a Charm is a weekly feature that spotlights authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, editors or promoters from the publishing industry.

This week we are joined by author C Lee McKenzie. Lee, tell us about yourself.

I'm  a native Californian who grew up in a lot of different places; then landed in the Santa Cruz Mountains where I live with my family and miscellaneous pets—usually strays that find me rather than the other way around. I write most of the time, garden and hike and do yoga a lot. I taught at San Jose State University and my field was Linguistics and Inter-cultural Communication which carried me to a lot of places in the world to explore different cultures and languages. I'm proud to say I know how to ask, “Where’s the toilet?” and scream “I’m lost!” in at least five languages and two dialects.

Snort! Lee, that’s funny.

Tell us about your books.

In my books I take on modern issues that today's teens face in their daily lives. My first young adult novel, Sliding on the Edge, which deals with cutting and suicide was published in 2009. It's received 4.5 ratings on the B&N website, GoodReads and Amazon.

My second, titled The Princess of Las Pulgas, dealing with a family who loses everything and must rebuild their lives, came out in 2010. Here's what Francisco X. Stork (author of Marcelo in the Real World, NY Times Notable Children's Book, 2009; Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2009) had to say about this book: "A beautifully written, meaningful, young adult novel. Carlie Edmund will jump off the page and pull you into a poignant and timely story of loss and ultimate gain."

Here's a great interview with Lee about The Princess:

I'm about to have one of my short stories appear in The First Time, an anthology coming out in late October 2011.

I’ll definitely have to get my hands on Princess, we went through that, so I’ll be able to relate. And I’ve been drooling over the cover of The First Time. Beautiful!

Now, for the Threes. Share with us your top 3’s to help us know you a little better.

Top 3 skills to hone for people just starting in your business.

If I'd written this when I first started out, my response  would be very different from what I'd write today. I would have said, master your craft, learn to be an excellent editor, and above all learn how to work with a group of writers who will give you honest feedback. I still say these were very important skills, but at the front of all of these I'd now add: learn about social networking. You can write a dynamite book, you can edit it so it's word perfect, you can work well with the best crit group on planet earth, but if you don't know how to network you might as well stand on the street corner and sell your books one at a time. Well, that's a bit drastic, but it's close to true if you're just starting out and you don't have name recognition or a following of readers yet. 

Top 3 locations to work.

Work where you feel comfortable. I read that some writers love to play music and lie on the floor while writing. Others prefer the quiet space with their computer in front of them. I fall in to that latter camp. Quiet. Light and airy in summer, snug and warm in winter. Windows that look onto my forest of redwoods that I often stare at for inspiration. They don't fail me.  When I'm ready to print out, I usually take the pages onto the deck, sit in my glider (I wouldn't part with that for anything.) and sip coffee or something cold while I shred what I thought I'd perfected shortly before. Such fun. But location is important to me when I'm really writing. When I'm jotting notes about ideas, I do that anywhere: grocery lines, ATM machine, trails or at 3AM in bed.

Top 3 professions you wanted to be when you grew up.

Don't laugh. I wanted to be an archeologist. I thought it was absolutely the most fascinating occupation anyone could have. When that didn't pan out, I decided a career in journalism was the next logical step. You don't see the connection? It took me a while to figure it out, but when I did, it made sense. I love to investigate, to search, to piece together stories from scattered facts. Since neither of those careers happened, I studied linguistics. Are you seeing a pattern here? Bits and pieces, sorting, organizing, figuring out things. Now I write books. Why writing books fits with my other career choices should make perfect sense to any writers.

Lee, where can we get our hands on your books, learn more about you, stay informed of appearances or new releases?


Beautiful website, Lee!

Thank you so much for joining us here on Strands of Thought and for sharing your top three charming thoughts.  It has been a pleasure getting to know you.



  1. Great post! I will definitely check out these books.

    I found you on the Book Lovers Blog Hop and have followed you.

    Maybe you will consider following me.

  2. Lovely to be here on your super blog. Hope you'll come over to the Write Game and tell my readers about yourself

  3. Thanks for stopping, Suzanne. I'm following you now, too.

    Lee, it would be my pleasure to visit you and your readers. Just let me know when. It was so much fun getting to know you and hearing about your books.

  4. Great interview! Lee is amazing. And, Lee, archeologist would be an awesome job!

  5. Kelly, first off, I don't think I've ever seen you on my blogger site, so welcome :D You reminded me, I meant to tell Lee that I wanted to be an archeologist until I realized I'd probably run into a lot of bugs. That killed it for me.


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