Lee McKenzie – Harlequin American Romance Writer

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Introduction

leemcFrom the time Lee McKenzie was ten years old and read Anne of Green Gables and Little Women, she knew she wanted to be a writer, just like Anne and Jo. In the intervening years she has written advertising copy, magazine articles, and an honors thesis in paleontology, and edited conference proceedings, educational material and technical publications. Along the way her imagination demanded a more creative outlet, and she soon discovered the world of romance. Becoming a four-time Golden Heart finalist and a Harlequin author are her proudest accomplishments yet. Lee and her artist/teacher husband live on an island in the Pacific Northwest, and she loves to spend time with two of her best friends—her grown-up children. You can visit Lee at http://www.leemckenzie.com

 If I Were Queen of the Universe…

… I would abolish cruelty to animals and there would be no need for animal shelters and rescue societies. All pets—furred, feathered and finned—would have loving forever homes, just like the animals in the books I write.

In my first book, The Man for Maggie, there were no pets. The hero and heroine were in transition and pets wouldn’t have worked. By my second book, though, I’d hit my stride and an Old English Sheepdog named Max appeared in With This Ring. http://www.leemckenzie.com/books/2010/8/19/with-this-ring.html Max did a series of guest blogs when that book released! If you’d like to meet him, click on the title and scroll down.

In my two San Francisco-set books, the heroine in Firefighter Daddy http://www.leemckenzie.com/books/2010/8/20/firefighter-daddy.html has a tuxedo cat named Buick, named for the sound of his purr. And in The Wedding Bargain, http://www.leemckenzie.com/books/2010/12/30/the-wedding-bargain.html the hero’s younger brother Ben has a little white bichon frise called Poppy because as a puppy she resembled a piece of popcorn.

In my Ready Set Sold series, readers met Hershey the chocolate labradoodle in The Christmas Secret, http://www.leemckenzie.com/books/2011/6/15/the-christmas-secret.html.In The Daddy Project, http://www.leemckenzie.com/books/2012/9/6/the-daddy-project.html the heroine has a Yorkshire terrier named Hercules and the hero has a St. Bernard called Hegemone. And the hero’s German shepherd, Rex, in Daddy, Unexpectedly, http://www.leemckenzie.com/books/2013/2/8/daddy-unexpectedly.html  who is afraid of cats, has to learn to love Chloe, the heroine’s Siamese.

My favorite thing about starting a new book is getting to know the characters, and the kinds of pets they have tell me a lot about them. Are they cat people or dog people? Do their pets share some of their character traits?  What can I say? I love animal-lovers, and whether or not the people I meet in stories and in real life have pets of their own, they are more special to me if they love animals, too.

So yes, if I were Queen of the universe, pets would have humans who provide everything they need to live a long, happy and healthy life…and they would never ever have fleas!

Do you have a favorite pet you’d like to tell us about? A favorite book that has animals in it? Please tell us about them! One commenter on this post will win autographed copies of my Ready Set Sold series. Happy reading!

Lee

Excerpt

An excerpt from The Daddy Project (Harlequin American Romance © 2012)

Kristi Callahan rang the doorbell of her dream home. A sprawling 1960s rancher with two fireplaces, a breezeway separating the house from the two-car garage, and enough West Coast flair to appeal to potential buyers searching for their own dream home in one of Seattle’s family-friendliest neighborhoods. And it was just her luck to be on the wrong side of the door.

This house was well beyond the reach of a single mom raising a teenage daughter on a single mom’s income, but that didn’t stop her imagination from playing with the idea of actually living in a house like this someday. And since she’d been hired to get this one staged for the real estate market, she would at least get to put her personal stamp on the place before returning to reality. Her modest two-bedroom town house was no dream home, but it was hers. Or it would be hers in twenty-three and a half years.

The other reality was that by the time she and her team at Ready Set Sold were finished here, this client would get top dollar, even in today’s less-than-stellar market, putting this house even further out of her reach.

Speaking of clients, she had an appointment and she was only five minutes late. Okay, eight, but surely Mr. and Mrs. McTavish hadn’t given up on her and gone out. There was a big silver-colored SUV and two pink plastic tricycles parked in the driveway but that didn’t necessarily mean anyone was home.

She dug her phone out of the side pocket of her bag. No messages, no missed calls. Taking care not to get tripped up by a tattered teddy bear missing half its stuffing and three small yellow rubber boots strewn across the wide front step, she rang the bell again, and waited. A moment later her patience was rewarded with footsteps, lots of them. Two identical faces with earnest blue eyes and blond Cindy Brady pigtails appeared in the glass sidelight next to the door. One had her thumb in her mouth; the other’s pigtails were oddly askew. No doubt these were the tricycle riders. And then they were dwarfed by a huge dog whose head appeared above theirs, a panting, drooling Saint Bernard.

“Is your mommy home?” Kristi asked, loud enough so they could hear.

Their pigtails shook from side to side.

The dog pressed its moist nose against the glass.

Hmm. The children stared at her but made no attempt to summon a grown-up. Surely they hadn’t been left here on their own with only a dog to look out for them. A dog that let loose a strand of drool that now slithered down one of the blond pigtails.

Gross. Kristi quickly looked away and reached for the doorbell yet again, pulling her hand back when another set of footsteps, heavier ones, approached from the other side of the door.

The man who opened it was wearing faded blue jeans, a gray T-shirt with what appeared to be a complicated chemical equation in green lettering stretching across his chest, and the annoyed expression of someone who wasn’t expecting anyone.

Author: Jo-Ann Carson

Jo-Ann Carson writes a saucy mix of fantasy, adventure and romance. Her latest stories are in the Gambling Ghosts Series: A Highland Ghost for Christmas, A Viking Ghost for Valentine’s Day, Confessions of a Pirate Ghost and The Biker Ghost Meets his Match. An anthology of the novellas will be coming out this summer. Currently she is working on Midnight Magic, A Ghost & Abby Mystery, the first book in a spin-off series from her Viking ghost story. Jo-Ann loves watching sunrises, playing Mah Jong and drinking good coffee. You can chat with her on social media: You can find all her links on her website - http://jo-anncarson.com

23 thoughts on “Lee McKenzie – Harlequin American Romance Writer”

  1. Lee, thank you for writing stories with animals! Love your Queen of the Universe decree – I agree with you wholeheartedly. Both our pets are rescued animals. My cat was adopted as a “senior” from the SPCA NINE years ago – I even got him “half price” because of his age. He is both the most cowardly and the most cuddly cat I’ve ever met.
    Our dog, a rescued twelve-year-old collie (the Lassie kind) has only been with us for three months. We took her in because it was pretty clear that no one would want such an old dog, so we are giving her a comfortable and caring retirement phase. The cowardly cat fearlessly walks into the room with this sweet dog, who is too deferential to even look in the direction of the feline. I hope to see them cuddling in the near future!
    I have “With This Ring” on my nightstand for a Christmas read, so I’m delighted to hear there’s a dog involved. I’ll enjoy it that much more because of it!

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    1. Natasha, your geriatric collie and “half price” cat are two very lucky critters to have you in their lives. Thank you so much for sharing your stories about them. I hope you enjoy With This Ring. When I was researching Old English Sheepdogs for that book, I met a couple who had five OESs and bearded collies. Several of them were rescued, including Molly who’d had one hind leg amputated. There’s a story about her on my website.

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  2. I love your inclusion of animals into your books, Lee. Cats and dogs add something special to our lives… even though we all know they won’t be with us for as long as we’d like! Grief and love – they’re so intertwined! Currently we have a 3yr old calico cat named Telo, who was a rescue as a kitten – the SPCA thought she was just a runt, but we all eventually found she had congenital hypothyroidism, with all the problems associated. A challenge – but she’s so sweet and loving, we’re hanging in and enjoying her quirky personality.
    I’m enjoying your books, Lee – looking forward to the next ones.

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  3. Hi Lee

    I’ve read all three of your Ready, Set, Sold series and thoroughly enjoyed them.
    The animals add another dimension to your stories and while I don’t have pets of my own I do love animals and can’t understand how anyone could ever be cruel to them.

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    1. Lisa, you are such a sweetheart! I’m going to pick up a copy of your latest Chicken Soup book for a Christmas gift, and will be wanting your autograph!

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  4. Love how you’ve included animals in your books, asking the question, “Are these cat people or dog people?” Clever. I’m voting for you for queen of the universe, too. (To be perfectly honest, I’ve voted for others.) I’ll FB & Tweet this.

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  5. I second the vote for you to be Queen of the Universe! We were lucky to have our own SPCA-rescue dog, Dodge, for twelve years. He was a crazy, ultra excitable, but very lovable shepherd-lab cross. There’s something extra special about those rescue pets.

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    1. Very special, Ros. A local animal rescue group was in desperate need of cat food last winter, so I gave them a cash donation and had the charitable tax receipt made in my father’s name. He’s an animal lover, too, and the donation made an extra little Christmas present for the man who has everything.

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  6. Wonderful that you’re such a supportive person of those poor animals who don’t have any control over their living conditions. I can barely read animal abuse stories. And have been known to turn off the t.v if the story is too ugly.
    I love your writing and enjoy that I know that by the end of the novel, there will be a happy resolution to the various trials and tribulations that the main characters have experienced.

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  7. Love your answer to Jo-Ann’s Queen of the Universe, Lee! Loved hearing about all the pets in your books and their unique personalities. When I was a kid, the first dog I remember my family having was a border collie named Rex. I don’t remember much about him because I was so young, but there are great photos of him sitting on tractor seats as if he were the driver.

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  8. You have my vote for ‘Queen of the Universe’, Lee. I have two kitties right now that I rescued from my neighbour who was neglecting them. They came running up to me when I moved in nine years ago with that ‘Have-you-found-the-can-opener-yet-we’re-so-hungry’ look to them. They’re Tortoiseshells, a mother and daughter, quite wary of strangers. One even hides in the cupboard when the doorbell rings.But they follow me around the house and we have great conversations. I may have to write them down one of these days…

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    1. Helena, how sweet of you to have adopted those two girls. I know they’re lucky, but I know you’re luckier. I have two kitties, too, and they are the loves of our lives and we never tire of their quirks and antics.

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  9. Lee and ladies
    I want to thank you for being my guest and sharing your heart-warming romances with us. I put all the names of everyone who commented and pulled one. The winner is Jacquie Biggar. Congratulations Jacquie.
    Best Wishes to all
    Jo-Ann

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    1. Jo-Ann, thank you so much for hosting me! I feel so honored to have been here as a guest. Jacquie, thank you for dropping by! I look forward to sending your books to you.

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