Lily Iona MacKenzie's Blog for Writers & Readers

MY BLOG POSTS COMMENT ON SOME ASPECT OF WRITING & READING.

The Ripening
The Ripening:
A Canadian Girl Grows Up

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" Tillie’s grit and ability to face life’s challenges are inspiring, the seeds for later discovering her artist self. Tillie takes readers on a wild ride. Join her if you dare! "

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
Curva Peligrosa
Curva Peligrosa

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

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FLING!
Fling!

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

"Fling! is both hilarious and touching. Every page is a surprise, and the characters! I especially loved Bubbles, one of the most endearing mothers in recent fiction. A scintillating read."

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
Freefall
Freefall :
A Divine Comedy

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" These fascinating characters will fill your imagination, defying expectations about aging, art, and what truly matters in life. "

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
All This
All This

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" Indicative of the title, the poems in All This range from the conventional lyric/narrative that captures an intense moment of emotion, an epiphany glimpsed briefly out of the corner of the eye, to the more experimental. "

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
No More Kings
No More Kings

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

Each finely crafted poem in this powerful collection comes alive on the page while she traces the days’ journeys with a painter’s eye, a musician’s ear, and the deft pen of a poet.

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
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Language and its mysterious relationship to us

5d9cf373-e31c-400e-9fe0-1655625ab9b2My husband and I got into a discussion of poetry and our different approaches to it. His training is in new criticism. Mine embraces more contemporary work, though I’m eclectic and like many different styles, including John Ashbery’s method of disjointed narrative. My husband recognizes I’m onto something that Melville was alluding to in Moby Dick—the gap between language and what it tries to depict…how language organizes and creates our way of seeing.

Waiting for the Write Moment!

During the Covid pandemic, we’ve all done a lot of waiting, and we still are! We’re waiting to learn if there will be new aggressive variants of the virus. We’re waiting to see if we can spend time with family and friends during the holiday season without wearing masks. We’re waiting to see if 2022 will give us any relief from the multiple problems that face us a a country and as citizens of this planet. But I have to admit that the act of waiting is not unfamiliar to me as a writer. It’s an example of how central waiting is in the writing process.

Meet the author Monday: Judy Crozier, author extraordinaire

On my blog today I’m talking to the lovely and lively Judy Crozier. Her early life was a sweep through war-torn South-East Asia: Malaysia’s ‘Emergency’, Burma’s battles with hill tribes, and the war in Vietnam. By nine, Judy had read her way through the British Council Library, including Thackeray and Dickens. Home in Australia, she picked up journalism, politics, blues singing, home renovation, child-rearing, community work, writing and creative writing teaching, proof reading and editing, and her Masters of Creative Writing. Then she escaped and went to France, where she now lives.

Is Writing an Affliction for Writers?

home-office-336378_1920 (1)I was pumping hard on the exercise bike at the gym while having a conversation with the fellow riding next to me. We had introduced ourselves and exchanged backgrounds. He had just learned that I’m a published writer and was intrigued by the idea, congratulating me on the recent release of my new novel The Ripening: A Canadian Girl Grows Up. I surprised myself by laughing dryly and calling writing an affliction.

Is Imagination the central pivot of human life?

I’m realizing that we take the imagination for granted. It isn’t enough to have imagination, but it needs to be recognized, educated, refined, and developed, just like any faculty.  I could have a bent for playing the piano or singing, but nothing much will come of it without practice, lessons, and traversing the various levels involved in becoming a skilled musician. These musings have led to today’s blog post on this subject.

Learn more about THE RIPENING: A CANADIAN GIRL GROWS UP

Thanks to Cliff Garstang for originally posting this interview with me on his blog:

I’ve Got Questions for Lily Iona MacKenzie

The Ripening by Lily Iona Mackenzie
  • What’s the title of your book? Fiction? Nonfiction? Poetry? Who is the publisher and what’s the publication date?

The Ripening: A Canadian Girl Grows Up, fiction, Pen-L Publishing, 10/15/21

  • In a couple of sentences, what’s the book about?

This coming-of-age story follows Tillie Bishop from her early years until she turns eighteen. She never knew her father, so when her mother abandons her at fourteen, Tillie quickly becomes streetwise. Even in Calgary, forces of the ‘60s—a decade of rebellion, discovery, and upheaval—already are at work within her. Her grit and ability to face life’s challenges are inspiring, the seeds for her later discovery of her artist self.

  • What’s the book’s genre (for fiction and nonfiction) or primary style (for poetry)?

Young Adult, New Adult, & Adult

  • What’s the nicest thing anyone has said about the book so far? 

“Lily Iona MacKenzie deftly takes readers into that throbbing, psychedelic world of drugs, booze, and one-night stands where they will root for Tillie as she struggles to find herself. You will be swept along as she painfully learns that true happiness is seldom found amid the glitter and grime. It’s hiding somewhere else … in plain sight. A well-written and visceral story.” Janice Gilbertson, author of Summer of ’58, Canyon House, and The Dark Side of Gibson Road

  • What book or books is yours comparable to or a cross between? [Is your book like Moby Dick or maybe it’s more like Frankenstein meets Peter Pan?]

Since there are so few novels (or memoirs for that matter) about a female adolescent’s sexual awakening, it’s difficult to find another book to compare it to!

  • Why this book? Why now?

And why not? Each novel gives us one writer’s particular view of the world through his/her characters. This novel featuring Tillie grew out of my last one, Freefall: A Divine Comedy, where an older Tillie, a zany installation artist, is the main character. Pen-L Publishing released that book as well and had contracted with me for three novels. I so enjoyed interacting with Tillie while I wrote Freefall that I wanted to better understand her origins. In the follow up, then, I went back to the ‘40s and ‘50s, to a world that flashed green and red lights at women, the era that produced Tillie (and me!). Some had begun to challenge the dead ends their futures seemed to hold, and Tillie ends up being one of those girls.

  • Other than writing this book, what’s the best job you’ve ever had?

Teaching writing at the college level and beyond has been extremely gratifying for me. One thing I discovered when I was teaching rhetoric to college students, and still applies to the creative writing classes I currently teach for older adults, is that my writing of poetry, fiction, or non-fiction is like teaching for me. Both give me an opportunity to investigate ideas, fears, interests, and obsessions—to ask and answer questions. The two roles complement each other, writing being a more introverted activity than teaching. When I write, I do the dance of seven veils. I remain relatively hidden while exposing myself, exploring my mind and imagination in public view, trying to tempt the reader. When I teach, I do a similar dance. Some seduction is needed to catch a student’s attention and turn it towards the important art of them capturing their thoughts in writing conveying them to a reader.

But I’m learning, too, from my students’ successes and failures, growing along with them as a teacher and writer. However, growth requires a willingness to try new things, both on the teacher’s part and the student’s, so I also must create an atmosphere where such risks can take place. I need to be skillful not just in teaching the craft itself but in managing a classroom, in creating a space where students feel safe to experiment and explore.

  • What do you want readers to take away from the book?

I hope readers will resonate with Tillie’s ability to cope as she faces a multitude of challenges in eventually finding her way in the world. It’s an inspirational story for all ages. We all must deal with difficult times. I believe that Tillie’s story will give readers the courage to take on their own trials.

  • What food and/or music do you associate with the book?

Country western music as well as rock and roll. Food? The kind of good country cooking that Tillie grew up with: fried chicken, mashed potatoes, home-baked bread and cinnamon rolls. Not too many vegetables!

  • What book(s) are you reading currently?

I’ve recently discovered the spy novel genre, and while I have no desire to try writing such fiction, I’m impressed with some of the literary narratives that writers such as Daniel Silva, Peter May, and Louise Penney are producing. At the moment, I’m caught up in Silva’s House of Spies.

In Defense of Fiction: Is It Appropriate to Appropriate?

typewriter-801921_1920During a radio interview with Kate Raphael of KPFA’s Women’s Magazine, she asked me if I worried about being accused of appropriation because I’m writing about cultures/characters that aren’t my own. We were discussing my novel, Curva Peligrosa. Curva is originally from Southern Mexico. Another character, Billie One Eye, is half Blackfoot and half Scottish. They feature prominently in this book.

Why do we need to go back to go forward?

As some of you know, I’ve completed another novel, The Ripening: A Canadian Girl Grows Up, that features Tillie, also the main character in Freefall: A Divine Comedy, the last novel I published. I thought I was finished with Tillie, the main character, but I’m not. Her life has become inextricably intertwined with my own, and I can’t turn my back on her, a family member now. Not only have I created her, but she’s creating me.

Meet-the-author Monday: Welcome to Canadian author Betty Jane Hegerat and her inspiring story!

Betty Jane Hegerat pens stories in the splendid writing community of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where she also teaches, mentors, and offers reading and substantive comment on selective works.

Primarily a writer of fiction, her first love was the short story, and it still is, but she finds herself increasingly drawn to the personal essay. The waves of memory and nostalgia that come with growing older will do that to a person.

She is the author of five books: three novels, a collection of short stories, and a strange hybrid of memoir, fiction, true crime and metafiction that claims to belong to the genre of creative non-fiction.  Currently she is working on short fiction.

Betty Jane was honoured to receive the 2015 Golden Pen Award from the Writers Guild of Alberta.

How are writers like detectives?

I’ve been thinking recently how writers are like detectives. They need to be constantly observant, picking up clues from what people are wearing, how they gesture, the words they speak, the way they interact with others. They study others’ facial expressions and what they suggest, storing away the data in their memory banks or taking notes in a writer’s journal that they’ll refer to later.

Monday Motivation: Tillie takes readers on a wild ride. Join her if you dare!

The Ripening: A Canadian Girl Grows Up is a sequel to my novel Freefall: A Divine Comedy (published in 2019). The print copy will be released on October 15 2021. The ebook comes out on November 14, 2021.

Tillie, a zany installation artist, is the main character in Freefall. I so enjoyed interacting with her while I wrote that book that I wanted to better understand her origins. In the follow up, then, I went back to the ‘50s, to a world that flashed green and red lights at women, the era that produced Tillie. Some had begun to challenge the dead ends their futures seemed to hold, and Tillie will end up being one of those girls.

The Perils of Launching a Book for Publication

Though I already had experienced what it was like to publish a book when my poetry collection All This came out in 2011, each work offers its own peculiarities. Partly it’s the difference in publisher, so when Pen-L Publishing wanted to release my first published novel Fling!,  I had to learn what that house wanted of me. But the difference in genre also created a new situation.

Meet-the-author Monday: Sophia Kouidou‐Giles

On my blog today, I’m privileged to introduce my readers  to the bi-cultural Sophia Kouidou-Giles. Born in Thessaloniki, Greece, she tells me about what inspired her to write her memoir Sophia’s Return: Uncovering My Mother’s Past, a work that captures family secrets.

How do opposites enlarge our personalities?

The publishing anniversary of my novel, Curva Peligrosa arrives in September, so the narrative is very much on my mind these days. The book’s title, Curva Peligrosa, names its central female character, but a number of peripheral characters also have a big role. One is Billie One Eye, a member of Alberta’s Blackfoot tribe who becomes the tribal chief.

One of Curva’s major characteristics is her adventuresome spirit and willingness to try new things. In the narrative, she spends 20 years on The Old North Trail. Malcolm Campbell, a reviewer of the novel, points out that Curva travels “America’s first ‘superhighway,’ the Old North Trail, that has seen many hooves, bare feet and moccasins traveling between Southern Mexico and Canada over the past 12,500 years.”

Meet the fascinating Bonnie Lee Black, a writer who created the award winning blog THE WOW FACTOR!

On my blog today, I’m delighted to be in conversation with the lovely Bonnie Lee Black, a woman who has been Peace Corps volunteer in Gabon, Central Africa, who has conducted an independent economic development project in Mali, West Africa, and who has been a professional writer and editor for over 40 years. She currently lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico,

Here is Bonnie’s bio:

Bonnie Lee Black earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University in Los Angeles in June 2007. An honors graduate of Columbia University in New York (BA, Lit./Writing, 1979), she has been a professional writer and editor for more than 40 years and an educator in the U.S. and overseas for over 30 years.

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