A hundred years ago the Hadley mansion vanished. Now it's back, and Pete Riley, the town rascal, is in trouble! When his aunt disappears and the Ornofree alligators threaten war, it's up to Pete to save his aunt and stop that war. But how? (Check out the fun trailer at the bottom of this post)
And now, heeeeere's Lee!
1. Lee, from idea to final product, how did Alligators Overhead come to be?
I've been carrying around this title in my head for years. All I needed was a story to go with it, and lucky for me one sought me out. I've been meaning to write something with "magick" and a touch of spookiness that would appeal to kids. So when Pete Riley popped into my awareness along with his sidekick, Weasel, I was ecstatic. All I needed to do was figure out how to fly a few alligators and make readers suspend their disbelief enough to enjoy the idea. So with this book I kind of worked backwards. Title first. Characters second. Plot last.
2. Can you give us a brief summary of your writing process? Plotter? Pantser? Somewhere in between?
Mostly I'm an in between, I guess. I start with an idea that's about as solid as Jello before it goes into the fridge, and then I work on creating a single sentence (or two) that gives me a "Through Line." That way I have a guide while I'm writing. I put that sentence in the header and adjust the story or the sentence(s) as needed. Sometimes I write the end first, then work my way to it. Other times I write scenes that I want in the book and connect them up. It's always a surprising process and it's never the same for any book.
3. You independently published Alligators Overhead through Outskirts Press. Can you tell us a bit about this experience?
I've been traditionally published by a small press two times. It was less work, I can tell you, than doing it all by yourself. Of course, Alligators Overhead is my first experience with Indie Publishing, so maybe next time will be easier. I hope so. I like the control I have as an Independent, and I'm scared to death I'm making all kinds of mistakes, so you can see where I am most of the time: elated with success, then miserable with self-doubt.
4. Can you offer us any advice about book promotion? What's working for you and what isn't?
So far I'm totally impressed and quite possibly in love with Mark Coker at Smashwords. I like his approach to do-it-yourself publishing and his Style Guide was a great help. I'm published there as well as on Amazon and B & N, but I have't passed the second phase for Premium Status yet. I'm hoping it won't be long or that I won't have a lot more code issues to resolve.
I like Facebook and Twitter and Goodreads, so I focus on those. Of course, I'm a Moderator at YAlitchat and that group is very supportive of their writers, so I use that as well. The bloggers are wonderful and I think they are excellent at spreading the word about new books. Besides so many have become online friends, so I feel very comfortable "talking" to them about my books.
I stopped thinking about printing and giving away bookmarks. I know a lot of people prefer paper books, but so many are turning to eBooks that I didn't see the point in spending money on anything involving printing and mailing. Besides, I think my sales will be mostly digital anyway.
5. Is there any writing or publishing advice you'd like to share with us?
Take vitamins and try to get good sleep. This is not a job for those without energy. If you're depressed, take a walk or stand on your head. Those two things seem to help me through slumps. You aren't alone and that's a good thing as well as a bad one. You have all kinds of support out there if you ask, but you have all kinds of competition, too. Be prepared for a long haul and, above all, keep your sense of humor.
Excellent advice, right? Big thanks to C. Lee McKenzie for stopping by and sharing her wisdom with us. She's kindly giving away to copies of Alligators Overhead. Simply leave a comment, and we'll draw two winners at random.
Tell us...how does your writing process compare to Lee's? Have you ever had the title first, characters second, and plot last?
Alligators Overhead is available at...
Barns & Noble
Visit C. Lee McKenzie at...
And her website
C. Lee is a writer who captures the pulse of adolescent confusion in her Young Adult fiction, Sliding on the Edge and The Princess of Las Pulgas. She admits to revealing a lot of her Old Adult confusion while doing that. Alligators Overhead is her first Middle Grade novel. She lives in California with her husband and assorted animals at the edge of a redwood forest.