Every Wednesday, I feature a writer/blogger and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow bloggers/writers better through their workspace and writing habits. I also wanted my bloggy friends to share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome C. Lee McKenzie, author of awesome Middle Grade and Young Adult Books.

You can also find her blogging at The Write Game

Welcome, Lee!


Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

I can’t say this a favorite picture, but it’s a picture that brings back a lot of memories.

I hated that cast. It itched like crazy!

Ah the hidden talent. Some would say my writing is just that. Little did my family and friends know that I was a closet author, then one day I said, “I have a little surprise. I have a book being published next year.” It took a while to convince them that I really did.

As to what I write . . . I’ve enjoyed the young adult category of fiction a lot, and then this year I thought I’d like to take on middle grade. For me it’s a challenge to write for younger readers, and don’t even mention picture books when I’m in the room. I cannot do those, but I admire the picture book writers so much. A whole story in thirty-eight pages! Wow!

About me: Before I started writing, I spent a lot of time in the university classroom, doing what is called “teaching.” I loved it and I did it long enough to learn a few things. I’m also a hiker. I’m kind of missing that these days, especially when I’m sitting at my computer with characters demanding that I write something brilliant about them. I practice yoga and I love digging in the dirt. Therefore, you never want to see my nails. Not a pretty sight. I have one husband, two sons and one cat. That seems like enough.

On Workspace

Where do you do most of your writing?

Right there in that chair.

My desk is one of my favorite pieces for furniture in the house.

I splurged on it and I’ve never regretted it one moment.

Sometimes I go to the garden, but that’s usually for editing and tearing out my hair when I stall.

My editing chair next to the pond in the garden is where a lot of changes happen

and where I read other people’s work.

Where did you get your desk?

I can’t remember the name of the store where I bought it, but it caused some “discussion” when it arrived. It’s 15′ long. My family wanted to know if I planned to go into politics and that’s why I needed such a big desk.

How did you go about arranging your work area?

I don’t arrange it. It arranges itself . . . usually into piles that eventually topple and require neatening.

What are some important things on your desk?

My computer? That’s become essential. My phone, not so much because it interrupts me when I’m writing. I disconnect. My cell I turn off.

Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?

My keyboard is a good tool. I’ve noticed that I’ve worn off the e almost entirely. I guess I use more “e” words than any others.

What do you love most about your workspace?

It’s spacious. I was so tired of stacking papers and books on the floor next to me that I wanted a desk that could hold everything and let me put things out in some kind of order. Next is my view. I look out onto a redwood forest. There’s nothing I enjoy better than staring at those trees, especially when the words aren’t coming.

Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

I’ve attached the image of my muse in training. He’s a very favorite guy and a gift from someone I love dearly.

Here’s my favorite desk item.When the muse sees him, she sticks around.

She’d better because this guy has applied for her job.

What’s your writing beverage?

Coffee. Absolutely. I have one caffeinated cup in the morning and then switch to decaf, but it’s specially ground and I only make one cup in my espresso maker at a time. I’ve become very snobby about my coffee.

On Writing

Who is your favorite author?

Well, that’s hard to answer. I love many different authors because I love many different kinds of books. On the literary side, I’m an F. Scott Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Kingsolver, Atwood fan.  When it comes to YA, I think Suzanne Collins is my favorite at the moment. In MG, Nan Marino wins my heart every time.

Who inspired you to write?

It wasn’t who; it was what. When I learned about the widespread practice of cutting and other self-abuse, I had to write about it. I was surprised that what I wrote turned out to be a novel.

What’s your typical day as a writer like?

I write early in the morning before anyone else is up and before the sun comes to make me want to go outside. I like the dark quiet of predawn; it inspires a lot of what I write.

Do you have any writing-related rituals or quirks?

My hoodie is about as much of a ritual as I have. When it’s up, my family knows not to disturb me unless the house is on fire. When the hoodie isn’t on my head, that’s my signal that I’m catching up on email. They can come in and ask me anything.

Do you write everyday?

I wish I could, and I do try. Family and friends often get my writing time, but I’ve learned to accept  and enjoy the time I can’t get to my WIP.

How many hours a day do you spend writing?

Some days it’s 4-5. Others just a couple.

What are some of your worst writing distractions?

That horrible phone is the worst distraction, so that’s why it’s disconnected during any writing time I have. I put the cat outside while I’m writing. That started happening after she walked across my keyboard and produce better prose than I had.

Why do you write?

The same reason that I read. I love it.

Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us?

Don’t give up unless you want to guarantee failure. I have to tell myself that all the time.

How about a favorite writing quote?

This one made me laugh:

“The editor is always right.” OR “To write is human, to edit is divine.” Thanks to Steven KIng in On Writing.

Any favorite pictures you want to share?

I’d love to show my book covers. Here they are.

The last one is an anthology of YA short stories. Mine is called Premeditated Cat.

By the end of 2012, I’ll have another short story out in another anthology (Two and Twenty Dark Tales), and I’ll have a middle grade book titled, Alligators Overhead.


Thanks, Lee, for giving us a glimpse into your writing life.

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.

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32 Responses to “Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes C. Lee McKenzie”

  1. mooderino says:

    Great desk and office set up. Reall makes me want to sort my little desk out.

    Very interesting interview. Cheers for sharing.


  2. Honey says:

    What a great interview. I love what she said about the only guaranteed failure is to give up. I have to remember that one!

  3. Hilary says:

    Hi Nutschell and Lee – such a fun read .. and I love it that to get out of the closet – you announced you’re a published author .. what a wonderful way to ‘expose’ yourself??!!

    I love your desk – think I’m coming over to purloin it – the view sounds just great too – another reason to take up residence!! Now that is one desk I’d like .. I’d be happy sitting by the pool reading away ..

    Love the look of your books .. well done on all your achievements ..

    and Nutschell – a really fun author .. great guest post – cheers Hilary

    • Thanks, Hilary. Glad you enjoyed the interview. Nutshell did the hard work;she asked the great questions. Hope you enjoy the books, and if you do read any of them, I’d love to hear from you.

      However . . . about the desk :-)

  4. Elisa says:

    Wonderful interview, that was such fun to read! Now to look up those books. :)

  5. Great interview. Lee, I love your desk! My “desk” is currently my dining room table. ;P

  6. Hi Lee,
    Lovely workspace, beautiful garden, and what a funny photo of you as a kid. That cast looks oppressive for sure. Your Sliding on the Edge looks good. Heading to amazon to check it out!
    Catherine Stine’s Idea City

  7. Shelley Sly says:

    That desk! I want it! 😀 Gorgeous book covers, too. I’ll check out your books!

  8. Maribeth says:

    Great interview. I will be checking out these books. Thank u for stopping by my blog. Your blog is great!

  9. Really like that last cover.
    I’m envious of that writing space that looks out into the forest.
    Nice to meet you, C. Lee.
    Waves at Nutschell

  10. Cecilia says:

    Great interview Nutschell and Lee! :) Oh, Steven King’s On Writing is just the best, isn’t it?. Loved it!

  11. Southpaw says:

    I adore your outdoor writing space! I don’t know how much work I would get done if I were sitting there though. :)

  12. Its great to know C. Lee McKenzie a little better. Actually, a lot better. I thinks its great to have a view and a place to go outside to write and edit. I’m up on the second floor looking out over greenery and such and can catch a nice breeze. really helps get the writing mojo flowing.

  13. OMGoodness! I love your work space! That window is wonderful. 😀

  14. I like the hoodie signal!
    Her desk is so classy. And I could definitely do edits in her editing location.

  15. That’s a great desk! I love the glass. :)

    LOL at the writing quotes.

  16. Lexa Cain says:

    Look at all the great pictures! I’m so glad I got the link to this post — I wouldn’t have missed seeing this for the world. 😀

  17. Such a fabulous desk and beautiful garden. Love the book covers, too!

  18. michelle says:

    That desk is divine! The outdoor nook by the pond looks so tranquil… I’m sure it’s a great source of inspiration!

  19. Beverly says:

    Your desk is so neat. And what a wonderful view. Super interview. I enjoyed learning more about you. Looking forward to your latest work.

  20. Kelly Polark says:

    I love the beautiful scenery out Lee’s window and at her editing spot! Gorgeous!

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