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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Who needs beta readers?

I’ve been reading Blake Bailey’s biography of Philip Roth, curious to know more about this controversial writer. He’s been accused of being antisemitic, a misogynist, and worse. But he’s also an immensely talented writer who delves deeply not only into the darker side of humanity but also can do it with humor.

Novelists as Tornadoes!

Whenever I read another writer’s novel, I’m curious about what that person’s process was in composing the book. Writer’s approaches to their work are as individual as the various themes they write about. No two methods are the same.

How do magical events become real in fiction?

elephant copyIn a recent issue of The Writer’s Chronicle, I read “The (Magical) Voice of Community in Mark Twain’s The Mysterious Stranger” by Jordan Dotson. Since much of my fiction falls into the magical realism category, I was interested in what Dotson had to say about Twain’s final novella and how I could apply what I read to my own work, especially my novel Curva Peligrosa.

For developing writers and interested readers: Demystifying the Path to Publication

For you writers who may be struggling to get a book-length work published, I invite you to join me as I share my thoughts on “Demystifying the Path to Publication”: https://www.discoveredwordsmiths.com/2021/05/06/episode-47b-lily-mackenzie-demystifying-the-publication/.

Writers and Readers may enjoy listening to Discovered Wordsmiths’ interview with me that explores my origins as a writer: https://www.discoveredwordsmiths.com/2021/05/06/episode-47a-lily-mackenzie-freefall/.

Meet guest author Cliff Garstang and learn about his prize-winning fiction!

After Regal House Publishing recently released Cliff Garstang ‘s new novel Oliver’s Travels,  I asked him to be a guest author on my blog and sent him some questions about his writing process, including how he comes up with titles, the origins of his characters, literary inspirations, what feeds his writing, how he researches his books, and more.

Here are his great responses:

Evolution of a reader, from fairytales to Ellison’s Invisible Man

As a pre-TV child (television arrived in Calgary in the early 50s, about ten years after it appeared in the U.S.), radio dramas fed my imagination:  Boston Blackie; Suspense Theatre; and The Green Hornet come immediately to mind.  Though they provided the plot and dialogue, I was able to supply the images myself, far more dramatic than what any TV director could create.  In my young mind, Boston Blackie was the white knight in spite of a name that implied otherwise.  Evenings spent shivering in front of a radio, shivering from glorious fear and not cold.  The room crackling with drama—suspense.  And I was an important participant:  the program needed my imagination to give it life.

Today, I’m grieving the loss of dictionaries!

Today, I’m grieving the loss of dictionaries, thick, massive volumes that I used to lose myself in. I would open a page and find hundreds of words, all of them demanding my attention, each a miniature world to explore. But now I’ve become a victim of on-line lexicons. They are handier than putting aside my laptop computer and marching into another room to unload the weighty Oxford from a bookshelf where it resides.

How Do Writers Eclipse the Real?

I’m thinking today of the eclipse of the sun that happened in August 2017. My husband and I had just spent three nights on the Mendocino coast in Northern California and were driving to our Bay Area home under an overcast sky. We didn’t see the whole eclipse, but we did notice a change in the light’s intensity as the moon began blotting out a portion of the sun. Instead of the sun making everything hard-edged and clear, there was a softer quality to what I saw from the car window, reminding me a little of how the earth looks under a full moon.

What if  a writer isn’t fully committed to his/her work

I recall when I was making what I hoped would be my last proofreading of the manuscript for Curva Peligrosa. I’d lost track of how many times I’d made this journey through the novel, trying to track down any typos, spelling, or punctuation errors. And each time, I seemed to find a few, making me wonder how I missed them to begin with. My publisher’s editor also had read the text closely, plucking out any weeds she’d found. But it was almost impossible to find them all.

What’s the future for auto fiction?

Recently, my reading group selected Rachel Cusk’s novel Transit as our next book, and I recalled reading a review by Elaine Blair of Cusk’s novel Outline in the January 2015 New Yorker. Blair claims “Cusk has written admiringly about Karl Ove Knausgaard, and her proposed cure for the trouble with fiction sounds like a gloss of his. ‘Autobiography is increasingly the only form in all the arts,’ she told the Guardian.” Blair goes on to say that some writers are hewing closer to the author’s subjective experiences, of effacing the difference between fiction and their own personal lives.

What is the REAL story (Part 2)?

Please read last week’s post first. It’s a lead in to this one.

Lily Iona MacKenzie

Just as poets do, fiction writers have a rich, multiply textured tradition to draw from that includes more than the conventional narrative, and I haven’t even mentioned the fabulists and those writing metafictions.

What is the real story (part 1)?

“The artist must be deaf to the transitory teaching and demands of his particular age. He must watch only the trend of the inner need and harken to its words alone.”  —Kandinsky.

Lily Iona MacKenzie

Several years ago, I entered a master’s in creative writing program as a poet, but I was equally interested in writing fiction and signed up for several short story workshops. My experience in the poetry classes led me into exciting new places as a writer, opening me up to undiscovered parts of myself and of the poetry world. But it has taken me all these years to fully recover from the fiction workshops.

Here’s a sample of author Joseph Carrabis wonderful wit that comes through in my interview with him: Where do your characters come from? Toledo. I have an apartment building there and rent out rooms to them. They come, stay a while, then move on. It’s a good deal because the rent’s cheap and I change their names before writing them into stories.

Joseph Carrabis Bio

Joseph Carrabis has been everything from a long-haul trucker to a Chief Research Scientist. He’s taught internationally at the university level, holds patents in a base, disruptive technology, created a company that grew from his basement to offices in four countries, helped companies varying in size from mom&pops for F500s develop their marketing, and most of this bored him.

But give him a pen and paper or a keyboard and he’s off writing, which is what he does full-time now.

Words as animals

I recently read the book Words as Eggs by Jungian analyst Russell Lockhart. The idea for the work, and the chapter from which the title comes, originated in one of Lockhart’s dreams. A voice in his dream said, “Do you not know that words are eggs, that words carry life, that words give birth?” (92). Lockhart later points out that this dream revelation isn’t exactly new in the larger scheme of things. In the beginning, it’s rumored that God spoke the world into existence: “the word is seed and gives birth to life and living things” (92). As eggs, words are constantly delivering new ideas and thoughts, filling our minds with possibilities and worlds we otherwise wouldn’t have access to.

Words as placeholders!

The pandemic has prevented us from traveling much beyond where we live, so my husband and I spent time last evening viewing photos from a recent trip to France. While I was there, I recall thinking about how limited words are in capturing the essence of a person, place, or thing. They are temporary placeholders, but they rarely accurately depict what they are trying to describe.

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