Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fifty Shades of Pink by Lee McKenzie

This is my first post on the Harlequin Heartwarming blog, and I’m really excited to be here! Also honored to be in the company of so many wonderful authors, humbled by all of the devoted readers, and I look forward to getting to know all of you.

In addition to Heartwarming, I also write for Harlequin’s American Romance line. I’ve been a writer and an avid reader for as long as I can remember, and I gravitated to romance at an early age. Ten years old, to be precise, when I read Anne of Green Gables and Little Women. Many might not consider either to be a romance novel but after all these years, I still do.

About fifteen years ago I started to seriously write romance with the goal of someday being published. I read widely...everything from sweet to spicy to fan-your-face sexy, from traditional boy-meets-girl to woman-in-jeopardy to hunka-hunka vampire love. I was trying to accomplish two things: the first was to figure out what was trendy and what was not, and the second was to learn to tailor my work to the market.

I decided sexy romantic suspense was the way to go, but after completing several manuscripts and being a finalist in (and sometimes winning!) numerous writing contests, all I really had to show for my efforts was a file folder brimming with rejection. Eventually I realized what the problem was. While I loved to write, I wasn’t writing what I love. So I made a decision. I would write something different—something I truly enjoyed writing—that wasn’t targeting any particular sub-genre. If that didn’t sell, I would change directions and write for young adult and middle grade markets instead.

After I finished that last book and submitted it to Harlequin, I attended a week-long children’s writing workshop in the Rockies.


I returned home, filled with enthusiasm for the new direction I was taking, and a week later—yes, you guessed it—I got the call!

That first book was The Man for Maggie (Harlequin American Romance, June 2007) and I’m thrilled that last year it was reissued as Maggie’s Way (Harlequin Heartwarming, May 2013).


Why did that book sell when the others I’d written didn’t? Because instead of writing what I thought fit the current market trend, I wrote a story I loved. Instead of police procedure and awkward love scenes, I focused on creating the kinds of characters I'd fallen in love with in many of the stories I’d read over the years, characters I could relate to, characters for whom family, friends and community truly mattered.

Several years ago I overheard someone ask my husband what kind of books I write. When he told him I write romance novels, the man said, “Oh, like Fifty Shades of Grey.” My husband looked surprised and replied, “No, she writes fifty shades of pink.” And that’s been my tagline ever since.

Thank you so much for joining me today. My next Heartwarming, The Parent Trap, will be released on October 1st.


To celebrate, I’m offering a signed copies of that book and Maggie’s Way to one reader who leaves a comment. The name of the randomly selected winner will be posted at the comments of this post tomorrow. Feel free to share.

Happy reading! xoxo

Until next time,
Lee
Writing fifty shades of pink
www.LeeMcKenzie.com

45 comments:

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    1. Me, too, Liz. But only now that I reflect on it!

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  2. Great story! Congrats on the upcoming release!

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  3. Liz, what a great journey. Thanks for sharing it. Looking forward to the Parent Trap.

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    1. Thanks, Roz! It's great to be here!

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    2. Sorry---I meant Lee. Sheesh, what kind of a writer am I???

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  4. Liz, what an interesting journey you've had! I think that's such good advice--to write from your heart(: I enjoy reading across a lot of genres and sub-genres also, but can't imagine writing in many of them. Thanks for sharing and congratulations! What a great cover and title for your new release--it has me intrigued...

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    1. Thanks, Carol! Instead of two girls reuniting a family, this "parent trap" is about two girls uniting two families, and it was so much fun to write!

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    2. Well, now I'm sold! Can't wait to read it.

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  5. Loved reading this, Lee, and as always, love you and your books! Congratulations and best wishes for continued success! Lisa McManus

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  6. Hi, Lee! Happy to meet you. Welcome to the Heartwarming blog. Kudos to your husband for such a clever response. All that research served to get you on the right path - I think it's good to explore other genres to discover what fits best. And to learn respect for other writers who work in all those other areas that seem so hard to me. Congratulations on the book, the great cover, and finding your way into this wonderful group!

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    1. Thank you for the warm welcome, Muriel! I still read widely, but I'm so happy that my writing journey led me here.

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  7. Hi Lee
    I loved hearing more about your journey and your decision to write what you love. How wise! You are such a humble and talented writer. Best wishes with your new book.
    Jo-Ann

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    1. Jo-Ann, you made my day. Thank you for the kind words.

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  8. Your love of friends and family shines through in the stories you write.Heartwarming sounds like a perfect Line for you.

    Best wishes

    Pat

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  9. Hi Lee,
    Loved hearing about how you found your way to writing what you love best. And special Kudos to your hubby for his support. It must have been so exciting for you to see that first book re-issued, congrats, :)
    Jacquie Biggar

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    1. Very excting, Jacquie! And yes, family support is so important, and I am so grateful to mine for always being there for me.

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  11. I loved this introductory post of yours, Lee, and I'm looking forward to all of your future ones! :) Good luck with your release of The Parent Trap!

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    1. Cerella, thank you so much! Happy you enjoyed it!

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  12. 50 Shades of Pink. I love it! Your husband is a keeper. So glad you started writing what you love. I've discovered writing is the hardest job I've ever had...and it is a job as well as a calling. You have to love it because otherwise how can you practice BIC (butt in chair) long enough to write a book!

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    1. So true, Patricia. Dedication + determination = BIC.

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  13. Fifty shades of pink – it works. Congratulations on finding success in doing what you love.

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  14. Welcome to the Heartwarming blog, Lee!

    I personally agree with you wholeheartedly, as I am compelled to write what I love to read. I have been an avid reader my entire life as well, and my husband made an interesting observation when I started out. Knowing how much I loved to read, he noted that I seem to love writing as much or more than reading. How lucky for me!!

    Best wishes with your upcoming release!

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    1. Many thanks, Kate! It's great to be here!

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  15. Love The Parent Trap title and cover! I think being true to your storytelling voice is key to success in this business

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    1. I was over the moon when I saw the cover! And a little surprised they went with my working title, although I'm soooo glad they did!

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  16. Lee, thank you for this blog. Your central comment that it was important for you to find and write about what you love is a great message. Trusting ourselves, pushing aside self-doubts and then leaping into the uncertain abyss of writing takes great courage. You words today give me inspiration. Thank you.

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    1. Graham, I needed to hear this just now. Thank you so much.

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  17. So cute, Lee! I love the 50 Shades of Pink tagline. Perfect :) Welcome aboard!

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  18. I will be on the lookout for The Parent Trap. I missed getting Maggie 's Way when it came out last year. Thanks for all the hard work the authors are doing to bring us these terrific books!!

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    1. Leo of Dixie, we love what we do, and we love that readers love it, too. Happy reading!

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  19. Welcome to the Heartwarming blog. We're so glad you joined us! Fifty Shades of Pink made me smile. I have a couple of children's books too. Never really sure what I was thinking LOL

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    1. I appreciate the warm welcome, Pamela. Smiling right along with you :)

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  20. I love that....50 Shades of Pink!! I'm a reader who loves Harlequin Heartwarming books and I visit the blog rather regularly. It's wonderful, and it's nice meeting new authors here. I hope to read one of your heartwarming books. ☺️

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    1. Wonderful to meet you, Laurie! I hope to see you here again.

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  21. Thank you to all who joined me yesterday and gave me such a warm welcome. The winner of signed copies of Maggie's Way and The Parent Trap...as drawn by Random.org...is Laurie I. Laurie, please contact me through my website www.LeeMcKenzie.com and include your mailing address. Happy reading, everyone!

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    1. Wow!! I've got two more Heartwarming books to add to my collection!! Thank you so much!! My next Heartwarming read will be #8. I hope to get even more reading done during my favorite time of year: Autumn. I'm doing the happy dance!! ��. You're going to LOVE this blog; the Hearwarming ladies are as sweet as their books.

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