A while back when we happened to be knocking around this great, big, blogosphere, we accidentally bumped into another mother/daughter writing duo and got to know them a little better as well as their work. These extraordinary ladies have successful on-line platforms and between the two, many published works. They have been a part of the Artistic community for quite some time now. Funny enough, Inion met J.C. first friending her and began asking questions about her book she was working on, around the same time I ran into, J.C.’s mother & well known Author, Jo-Ann Carson. And yes….it was completely random.
Today, we would like to focus on the daughter, newly published Author J.C. McKenzie. Her book: SHIFT HAPPENS just released: March 27th, 2014.
Andrea McNeilly’s job as a government agent is not asking questions, but then a routine assignment turns into a botched assassination of a Master Vampire’s human servant. Answers become a priority. Her search to discover the truth is riddled with obstacles, the largest being an oversized Werewolf who resembles a Norse god. Andy can’t afford the distraction he offers, because if she fails, she faces eternal enslavement.
Wick’s job is to monitor Andy, but he prefers more intimate activities, none of them G-Rated. His choices, however, are often not his own. His ability to help Andy is limited by his bond to the Master Vampire.
Facing many trials and challenges along her path to redemption, Andy learns the value of her freedom might be set too high.
Along with launching a phenomenal Paranormal book that’s bound to slay the literary world J.C. also writes Urban Fantasy. A Genre Mathair & I just so happen to love!!
Born and raised on the Haida Gwaii, off the West Coast of Canada, J.C. McKenzie grew up in a pristine wilderness that inspired her to dream. She is a member of the RWA and the FF&P chapter of the RWA. Her blog: http://jcmckenzie.blogspot.ca/ is a favorite haunt of ours & if you haven’t checked it out you should most definitely pop over for a visit!
J.C. we can’t tell you how happy we are to have you here on, Two Voices…One Thought.
(J.C.) No, no, no. Thank you! You have wonderful friends and great blog-fans. It’s a huge opportunity and pleasure for me to meet and interact with them instead of just reading their comments.
(I.N.M.) So, SHIFT HAPPENS tell us a little bit about this book without giving away any spoilers.
(J.C.) Well, the world is set in Vancouver, Canada, but in an alternate version where all supernatural beings (like, everything) have been exposed and are “out of the supe closet.” Andy McNeilly is my main character, and she works for the Supernatural Regulatory Division that’s responsible for meting out justice for supe-on-supe and supe-on-norm crimes. The story begins with an assignment that goes wrong and quickly unravels from there. She gets into a lot of trouble, and has to scramble to figure out why the hit went bad and who is ultimately responsible. There’s mystery, romance and a lot of bad-ass snark.
(I.N.M.) Wow! That sounds amazing. Can’t wait to jump into your book!! So tell our blogging friends how long it took you to write SHIFT HAPPENS.
(J.C.) I started writing Shift Happens in the fall of 2011. I was pregnant, hormonal and looking for something to focus on other than every-little-thing my husband did that annoyed me (poor guy). When our (beautiful and brilliant) son joined our family in Feb 2012, I took a few months off from writing to survive. After life began to normalize, I hammered out the final chapters and finished Shift Happens by mid-summer 2012. So by the calendar, it took almost a year, but realistically, it was probably closer to 6 months.
(I.N.M.) A true labor of love. And what about the publishing process J.C.? Did you go with Self Pub or Traditional and why did you choose that avenue?
(J.C.) Well, I submitted to the few big publishing houses that allow unsolicited, un-agented work and received form rejection letters (boo) from each one. I started submitting to small publishers and had a lot of interest. In the end, I decided to go with The Wild Rose Press, because they offer very competitive royalty rates and I just love them. No joke. They’re super nice and supportive. My editor actually rejected Shift Happens when I first submitted the manuscript to her, but she told me specifically what I needed to fix and asked me to resubmit. It all worked out in the end, and I believe, for the better.
I am personally hesitant to self-publish, just because I’m so new to the publishing experience. There’s a lot of up-front costs with self-publishing that I wasn’t willing to make. 1) I couldn’t afford it (teacher-by-day, here); and 2) there’s a possibility of making huge, costly mistakes. I tip my hat to indie-authors because they are a lot braver than I am!
(I.N.M.) So tell us J.C. rumor has it this is the first in a series. Will there be book #2 and how many others will follow to finish the saga?
(J.C.) It is a series! I follow Andy as she grows as a character. Each book has its own plot arch, so I’ve intended them to stand alone, but there’s also an overall story about Andy and her own development.
Book two has been submitted to my editor and at the time of writing this, am still waiting to hear back from her. Book three is finished and sitting. I like to wait a bit before I go back and tear it all to shreds. There’s inevitably going to be a ripple effect in book 3 from changes I’ll have to make in book 2. I’ve started to write the fourth book and am just in the first quarter, setting up my wicked plans. It’s a 6 books series (maybe 5 if I condense), and I know the major plot elements of the remaining stories.
(I.N.M.) Something to look forward too! Now, I’m sure you hear this a lot but we’d still like to know. Werewolves….what’s the fascination; and what about them appeals to your writer’s imagination?
(J.C.) LOL! Yes, there’s a fascination. Personally, I believe it stems back to our ancestral time when humans were more tied to nature. Now, with our “concrete jungles” and technology, there’s a lot of disconnect from our natural environment, for a lot of people. I’m not talking about a brisk walk around the park or a weekend away at the cabin. We used to sleep under the stars surrounded by all kinds of flora and fauna; we hunted and gathered; and so on. I think there’s a part of the human psyche still craving that connection. I believe the love for the (idea of) a human in modern times shifting into a wild animal is an ultimate representation of our desire to transform back into our more base natures.
Alternatively, some people have a lot of repressed anger and the idea of turning into an eighty pound, bad-ass werewolf, or having one fall in love with you, is a great form of escapism from our urban jungles.
That and alpha-male werewolves are sexy as hell.
(I.N.M.) Well now, we’d have to agree with you on that!! lol ;) So tell us J.C., the main character, (Andrea “Andy” McNeilly) is this based on anyone you know or have traits of anyone close to you or merely a creation your brilliant mind?
(J.C.) She’s a creation of my brilliant mind! She’s not based on anyone I know, but based on my idea of a kick-ass heroine. I’m too aware of many authors modelling their main characters to look like them. Ever read a main character description and then flip to the back of the book to discover they look just like the author? I do it all the time! So when I wrote Andy, I tried to make her not look like me at all. I made her taller and slimmer, with jet black hair, gray eyes and a mixed ethnicity. I even gave her bangs. Yet, the first thing my mom said when she saw the cover picture was, “she looks like you!” LOL!
(I.N.M.) Aha! Inside information. We love it. And speaking as another mother-daughter team, mom’s always right. (Mom rolls her eyes. Lol)
The Cover is truly intriguing instantly grabbing Mine & Mathair’s attention with a dark pull to the other potential readers who pick it up. How did you come up with the idea and who did your cover art?
(J.C.) First of all, thank you. When I received a copy of the proposed cover for my book I squealed like a little girl. To put it mildly, I’m very happy with it.
The wonderful and talented Debbie Taylor of DCA graphics did my cover. I absolutely love this woman and think I tagged her in about 10 or so FB posts to tell her that. For some reason she hasn’t blocked me yet.
How covers work with The Wild Rose Press is that I fill out a form to indicate what I envision/want/suggest, which they hand over to the artist. The artists wave their magic wand, create a masterpiece and send it back to TWRP. The decision to go with the cover ultimately rests with TWRP.
Knowing this, I filled out the cover art suggestion form as thoroughly as possible. I really like dark covers, with a mysterious edge. Debbie captured the essence of what I wanted brilliantly. I hope she will do my second cover when the time comes.
(I.N.M.) Love it when Artists join minds & create magic!! The title…Yep, we have to ask. It’s absolutely brilliant and a fun way to play on words more especially a phrase that is familiar to any and every one! How did this come about?
(J.C.) Thank you! I think it will be a hard title for me to surpass with the subsequent books in the series. As I said earlier, I started writing this book in the Fall of 2011. It was lunchtime at work (I’m a teacher) and I was thinking about my writing. I’d signed up for one of those lets-sit-around-a-table-and-attack-each-other’s-writing sessions for a different manuscript and was just so disenchanted with the whole writing process at the time, I almost quit. I sat at my desk, berating myself, and thought, “You can’t even think of a title for your current book.” Then I leaned back in my dilapidated chair and stared at the side of my large cabinet where I stored all my binders. On the side was an old, worn Earthquake Awareness sticker, which read, “Shift Happens.” A firecracker went off in my head. Ding Ding! That was it!
(I.N.M.) I just love those “magical-moments” that happen during our Artistic creations. And the title can be a bit of a thorn for many writers J.C. (us included). The book trailer…this is a part of the publishing process that many choose to pass up whether it’s because of money, time or preference. How about you J.C.? Do you have a videographer that works with you and is a part of your team or was this something new that you went with? And how much input did you have with the video and would you recommend this part of the process to other Authors? We’ll give you a little time to answer that barrage of questions! Lol ;)
(J.C.) I wasn’t willing to pay for a book trailer (teacher, remember?), so I set off to see if I could do it for free, and I did! I used free, royalty-free music and pictures. The only catch was I needed to give them credit in the credit section. Done! I have no problem giving praise where praise is due!
I really like to tackle new things, so I got up-close and personal with Windows Movie Maker, hacked my cover picture into different sizes and shots and slapped it all together. Yes, a bit more difficult than that. I lost some hair. I may have cursed. I feel the program I used was limited and couldn’t do exactly what I wanted, but I am happy with the end result. I’ve had a lot of compliments on my book trailer, and I hope they’re not empty ones!
Will this book trailer result in a sales increase? I have no idea, but I do recommend authors at least attempt the process. It really helped me nail down the essence of my book, which has helped with other promotion.
(I.N.M.) Nice…So, we’ve been talking about your book SHIFT HAPPENS, but let’s turn the spotlight on the Author for a brief moment. Tell us why you wanted to be a writer and a little bit about your journey to get you here to the launch of your book.
(J.C.) My mom is my inspiration, and as long as I can remember, she’s been writing. Whether it was articles for the local newspaper, an article for a professional magazine, poetry, a novella, a short story, a blog post or a novel, she’s been scribbling, and then typing away. I’ve always enjoyed creating stories, mostly in my head, but it wasn’t until I placed first in a flash fiction contest that I started to take it seriously. I had already finished my first manuscript, and decided to sign up for the will-not-be-mentioned-again-writing session. Luckily, that experience didn’t sap my love for writing away completely and when I placed second in an RWA contest (the Dixie Kane) for Shift Happens, I decided to really give this manuscript a go.
(I.N.M.) So, what’s next for J.C. McKenzie? Do you have any other projects you’re working on, events or guest spots we should be marking on our calendars?
(J.C.) I just completed the first draft of a paranormal romance short story, the Shucker’s Booktique. This is not a series and is not intended as one. Just straight romance with a paranormal twist! I really enjoyed writing it and I hope to get it picked up by a publisher. My next projects, in no particular order are:
1) Edit book 3 of the Carus Series
2) Edit the short story—The Shucker’s Booktique
3) Finish writing book 4
4) Write final books of the Carus Series.
I also have a few blog appearances and am planning a book signing for August in Vancouver. My events and appearances are listed on my website (http://www.jcmckenzie.ca/appearances.html).
(I.N.M.) Can’t wait J.C.!! We have one more question to bug you with before letting you go. As a mother/daughter writing team, it’s a rare treat for us to find another. What’s it like for you, being a published Author and competing with your mother who is successful and a respected published author within the writing community?
(J.C.) It’s not difficult at all, because it’s a non-issue. My mom and I don’t compete. We’re very supportive of each other and exchange chapters once a week to critique. It helps that my mom writes Romantic Suspense, which can be a very different genre to Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. We were never in the same category when we entered contests and even if we had been, I would’ve been thrilled to have my mom place above me. Her successes are mine, too, and I know she feels the same way.
(I.N.M.) Nicely said J.C.! I think the four of us are going to start a trend and family affair!!
We can’t thank you enough for stopping by and spending some time with us and our friends on, Two Voices….One Thought. And I’m sure we’re going to be seeing a lot more of you in the Blogosphere as well as your intriguing book, SHIFT HAPPENS .
As for our blogging buddies & visitors, we will leave links below where you can pick up your copy of J.C. McKenzie’s book: SHIFT HAPPENS. We already bought our copies and will be reading this deliciously dark story as soon as we sign off. J.C. has also agreed to give away a free copy of Shift Happens to one lucky commenter. So feel free to vent!! ;)
*Available Now* / Shift Happens: A Carus Novel/The Wild Rose Press
All Romance Ebooks:
Barnes & Noble:
Wild Rose Press: