Thursday, December 27, 2012

CC Mackenzie in the house! PART 1

Hello world!

First off, I hope you're having a lovely holiday season filled with fun and happy things! If you celebrate it, did Santa bring you all the things you desire this year? I hope so! As 2012 ends and the world is still there (Mayans, pffff!), it's a good time to reflect one all the things we want to do next year and how we could do better. Here's me making a virtual toast to an amazing 2013, then!

Okay, so... 

For the next two days, I'm hosting a really cool, amazing person and fantastic writer, CC Mackenzie! CC is a unique person who loves to make people feel good and happy. Despite any personal problems she may have (and they may be huge), she always finds time for others. So today, I'm giving a little bit back by showcasing her and her (really good) work on my blog. You will love her Ludlow Hall series. You start with that and keep reading until the end - then move on to her Vampyre series. CC writes unforgettable characters that stay with you long after you finish the book. 

So far I've read "Reckless Nights in Rome" and started chomping into "A Stormy Spring" (which starts with a shock and a bang - in a good way!). As far as Reckless Nights in Rome is concerned, being the one I finished so far, I can say it's one of those fast-paced stories you can't put down. These days it's tough for me to read fast as I have so many things to do throughout the day such as write, do chores and care for/chase after a toddler, lol, but CC's book kept me hooked to the end to the point that I lost sleep to read. CC has a very easy writing style. What strikes me is that she's not presumptuous in her writing as she isn't in life - but one can fairly touch the maturity and fine points of her characterization. CC's characters rock! What's not to love about a male alpha with a tortured past who hides a kind and giving heart, and a damaged but strong heroine you can really root for? CC can write emotion and sensuality with what I call "down-to-earth finesse" and style. And boy her love scenes are hot!! But so well written and tasteful. I love her work so much that I had to invite her here to be my guest :).

Now, I leave the floor to CC who has so much to say about her journey as a writer! Below is Part 1 of the interview. Tomorrow, I'll post Part 2. 

And don't miss out on participating in the rafflecopter drawing below to win a Ludlow Series box set and Book 1 of the Vampyre Legal Chronicles. CC is so generous that she's giving away not one but 10 of these awesome prizes!

How long have you been writing?

Oooh I think since I was seven and received a gold star for a short story. Probably the most thrilling moment of my young life. Although after The Sound of Music I wanted to be a nun and we can see how well that plan turned out.

When did you decide that you wanted to write for a living (that "aha" moment)?

Six years ago. I was working too hard chasing my tail in the corporate world and travelling hundreds of miles a week. Paul McKenna was being interviewed on television and he asked the question, ‘What are the five things you want to do before you die?’ And my number one answer was, ‘To be a romance writer.’ I realized if I wanted to live that dream then I needed to get my finger out and get on with it.

What did your family say when you told them you wanted to be a writer?

My husband, Hugo, was not surprised. My mother nodded and said she couldn’t understand why I hadn’t ‘had a go’ before. My children just nodded and said, ‘Great.’ Without having any idea how it was going to impact their lives, bless them.

What is your preferred genre both for reading and writing?

I have two. I love paranormal, especially vampires, and always have done. My other love is romance in all its genres.

What is your favorite book(s)? Which book(s) inspired you to write romance?

It has to be the classics. Anything by Charlotte Bronte, and although we probably can’t count Georgette Heyer as a classic I’ve adored every single one of her works since I was a teenager. I always mention The Grand Sophy as one of the books that’s inspired me to write. Moby Dick by Herman Melville is another dog-eared read I keep handy. Books that affected me in different ways are Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. The Stranger by Albert Canus and The Night Bird Cantata by Donald Rawley. I couldn’t begin to attempt to write a work of great literary fiction but I do enjoy dipping into one of the greats even if they’re not always an ‘easy’ read, if you know what I mean? A lot depends on my mood too. For modern writers of paranormal I adore Nalini Singh, JR Ward and Christine Feehan.

Plot or characters? What quality does a story need to have to make you love it?

Characters. When we have a great character to explore it’s amazing how a book powers along.  A story needs to be fast paced with fantastically written characters that make me laugh and cry. And a good love scene is always a bonus too.

How did you come up with the Ludlow Hall series?

One of my daughters has twice climbed out of a ground floor toilet to escape the blind date from hell. This was a number of years ago. She confessed the whole sorry debacle to a friend, her sister and I in a coffee shop and I thought we were going to be thrown out by the way we were howling with laughter and Bronte Ludlow was born. The series has sort of grown organically and may spawn another series. I’m mulling over which direction to take the stories at the moment. But I also love writing stand-alone stories and I’ve one which is an adventure/thriller/romance coming out early next year. Although it looks as if that one might spawn another. I’m working on them now.

I see you love a good alpha in your books. :) In real life, what’s your ideal man like?

Haha! Yes! I like a man who’s a man with plenty of testosterone but who puts his woman at the front and centre of every single thing he does. He needs to have strict values and ethics. A relationship works if his partner feels the same way about him and they build a strong team. I married my ideal man. He proposed two weeks after our first date and six months later we married. That was many years ago. As every year passes that I’m married to Hugo I count myself lucky to have found him. Although I suspect being married to me has been a challenge :)

Then you went from contemporary romance to the Vampyre Legal Chronicles series. What’s the story behind this series? Also, what do you love about vampires and what are your vampires like?

Three years ago I finaled in The Romance Junkies competition with a futuristic paranormal about an end of the world scenario where Vampires, Witches and other beings re-enter our world via alternative realities and gateways. The hero is a Precedential Vampyre Elder who owns a global pharmaceutical company manufacturing synthetic hemoglobin for his species and the heroine is a Witch from an ancient coven who is a Commander in The World Health Protectorate. The idea behind the series is for Vampyre Elders to meet their mates. But I also wanted to explore the ongoing relationship of my hero and heroine throughout the stories while they deal with conspiracy, treachery and loss. And try to discover who is pulling the strings behind global events. It’s been a vast undertaking and something I dip in and out of. The Vampyre Legal Chronicles came to me when I was talking to my editor about the ‘big picture’ of the futuristic paranormal series. She suggested I try writing a more erotic shorter stories incorporating how the world ends before I rebuild it in the future. And so the VLC was born. Unfortunately, I’m behind with the series but book two is due out before Christmas with book three well under way. And again this is turning into a vast undertaking with the back-story impacting the search for true love and happiness for my Vampyre lawyers.

The great thing about writing a paranormal hero is that I don’t have to be ‘politically correct.’ The gloves are off and that’s incredibly freeing for a writer. I suppose I love the genre because of the ‘eternal life’ aspect of the deal.

How long did it take you to make your first sale? What was your first thought when you did?

My first sale came in the first hour after Reckless Nights In Rome went live on Amazon. After giving birth it was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done. We told no one so the person who bought it was unknown to me. I did a happy dance. But that’s nothing compared to receiving a message from a fan.

How many drafts did you write of your first novel before you felt you got it right? What about now - do you still write several drafts of a story?

Reckless Nights In Rome started out as a story about cancer. Mills & Boon rejected it because of the theme and sent me a wonderful rejection full of advice and to re-submit. However, things in publishing changed FAST. I took advice and decided to self publish. But I did incorporate the changes and followed editorial advice. It went through thirteen edits. In many ways I might have over edited my voice from it, but the lesson was a valuable one. If I could say one thing it is that a first draft is always crap. Always. I then do a major character development draft and dig down deep into character motivation to make sure it’s on the page. Then I do three structural edits – one for dialogue - one for scenes - and one for sequels (narrative). These take time and as a writer my head needs to be in the ‘right’ place with the right attitude. We all question our ability at times and that’s normal. It’s recognizing what your mood is that’s key I think. Don’t edit if you’re tired or had a fight with your loved ones or are feeling like crap for one reason or another because you’ll bring that negativity to the work. I’ll leave it for maybe a week or two.  Then I do a big picture edit and ask ‘What’s missing?’ Is it rocking along? Repetition? Has it stalled? Does it make sense (crucial)? Do the love scenes hit the spot? I make copious notes at this point after a couple of read throughs. Once I’ve gone through those I spell check etc and do a line edit checking for ‘only’ and ‘just’ and ‘likes’.  It’s at this point errors can be introduced so I crawl over the work hunting for anomalies. Then it’s sent to my editor who is a holy terror and we discuss what I’m trying to do. My work has become ‘cleaner’ as I’ve gone along and things she used to pull me up for in the beginning don’t happen. I don’t stick rigidly to ‘rules’ and I do fragment sentences etc., especially during a character’s deep inner point of view. Then I work through the edit and corrections. After that the story is downloaded to my Kindle where I read the whole thing in bed armed with a pad and pen. With Rosie at this point I ended up with forty A4 pages of notations. These were not a ‘big deal’ but allow me see what it looks like and ‘feels’ like for the visual reading experience. It’s amazing what the human eye can be tricked by, two ‘hers’ or ‘the’ that we simply do not see. In Rosie’s case I re-wrote two whole chapters and introduced two scenes which is why she was delayed. As you can see I tend to be a bit anal, lol! Run Rosie Run is out NOW!




About CC Mackenzie:

C C MacKenzie is a wife, and mother of three, based in South Cheshire, U.K.

Since childhood, she dreamt of writing stories that readers would fall in love with, but put those dreams on hold to focus on her family and her careers in banking, fitness, interior design and construction. Reckless Nights in Rome is her first novel, followed by 'A Stormy Spring' in August 2012 and Run Rosie Run in December 2012 .
C C MacKenzie is currently finishing three more Contemporary Romances due for release in 2013. She is also working on a vampire paranormal saga.

The first one of The Vampyre Legal Chronicles, Big Trouble In China, is out now!

Find her here:

Facebook author page:
Twitter: @ccmackenzie1

End of Interview Part 1.

~ Natalie G. Owens ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just a world of love, mystery and fantasy!