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05-19 Sarah Raplee – Riff on 7 yrs. Of SPAM & a Giveaway

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Guest Contemporary Category Romance Author Lee McKenzie -Hooked on Harlequin

Lee McKenzie
I wish I could remember the author and title of the first Harlequin Romance I ever read, but I was only fourteen and at the time and didn’t realize it would be one of those pivotal, life-changing events. What I do remember from that first book is that I was hooked. Hooked on the innocent and inexperienced orphan heroines and the dark, brooding and oh-so-sardonic heroes, hooked on the exotic locales, hooked on the happily ever afters.

Over the years that followed, I read hundreds of Harlequin novels. The lines changed, the heroines became stronger, and the heroes were less sardonic, but there was always a happily ever after.  When I decided to turn my lifelong dream of being a writer into a reality, I knew I wanted to write one. First I had to figure out which of the many Harlequin lines was best suited for my voice and style, so I tried my hand at writing books that might work with the Presents line, then Superromance, then romantic suspense for Intimate Moments.

As I accumulated one rejection after another, I also started to final in (and sometimes win!) writing contests, including four finals in the Romance Writers of America’s ® prestigious Golden Heart Award. But I still hadn’t found an editor to buy one of my books, because I still hadn’t figured out where my stories belonged.

I grew up an only child with a large, close-knit extended family. Many of my earliest memories are of raucous family dinners with my parents, aunts, uncles and cousins sitting around my grandmother’s kitchen table. As I continued to write, I gradually realized that even my romantic suspense novels had a focus on family. Huh.

Maybe there really was something to that old saying, “write what you know.” What I know and love is family. My writing style is lighthearted with lots of sexual tension and little splashes of humor, and at the centre of all my romances are a hero and heroine surrounded by family and friends. So I started to focus on Harlequin’s Heart and Home lines, and was thrilled to finally find my writing home with American Romance.

Here’s what the writing guidelines say: “American Romance features heartwarming romances with strong family elements. These are stories about the pursuit of love, marriage and family in America today. A sense of family and community is essential.” How perfect!

I’m currently working on my seventh book, and the third in the Ready Set Sold series. The first in the series, The Christmas Secret, was a November 2011 release and the second book, The Daddy Project, will be out in December 2012. The third book is Daddy, Unexpectedly (working title, release TBA). The heroines of these three books—a carpenter, an interior decorator and a Realtor—run a business called Ready Set Sold. If you like HGTV shows about home renos and decoration, then I hope you’ll love these stories!

American Romance is a perfect fit for me, and after all these years I’m still hooked on Harlequin. I love to read them, and I now I love to write them, too.

The Christmas Secret:

A Christmas Present With A Hidden Past

AJ Harris needs to leave town, before his past sneaks up on him in the form of a tool-belt–wearing beauty who also happens to be the mother of his child. Fate has other plans when AJ inadvertently hires Samantha Elliott to renovate and sell his grandmother’s old house. Now he has to hide the truth—he secretly adopted the child Sam abandoned three years ago. Only, AJ can’t prevent the bond between mother and child. When he learns the selfless reasons behind Sam’s actions, including his own father’s deceit, AJ’s secret becomes a burden he can’t keep. But will Sam forgive him for having their son all this time? Or will one little boy’s love bring together a family…just in time for Christmas?

About Lee McKenzie:
From 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. To find out more about Lee and her books, readers are invited to visit her at Lee’s titles are also listed on her author page at

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of The Christmas Secret from Lee McKenzie!


Lisa McManus Lange said...

Loved reading this, Lee. Fantastic story. I can relate - I read romances starting at age 12, and never stopped. Thanks for this post! Lisa McManus Lange

Lee McKenzie said...

Thanks, Lisa! I'm looking forward to reading your Chicken Soup stories, too!

Judith Ashley said...

Lisa, Thanks for guesting with us today! I always learn something from our guests and you're no exception.

I'm a 'late bloomer' in reading romance always tending toward mysteries, thrillers, and such but then I had a string of 4 years where I had a string of illnesses and deaths so I turned to reading romance while sitting in nursing homes, hospitals, and sick rooms. They saved my sanity!

Diana Mcc. said...

I love Harlequin books too. The family themed ones are especially near and dear to my heart. How awesome that you live on an island! Great post!


Mindy Hardwick said...

I love reading the family stories with HEA's, and I am so glad you found a place to tell those stories. I'd love to win a copy of your book.

Lee McKenzie said...

I'm thriled to be here today, Judith! Thank you so much for inviting me.

I'm so happy to hear that when you needed an uplifting story, you found romance!

Lee McKenzie said...

Thanks, Diana! Sounds as though we're kindred spirits ;). And BTW, I've loved the name Diana ever since I read Anne of Green Gables.

Lee McKenzie said...

Me too, Mindy, and thanks for dropping by. Your name is the hat!

Sarah Raplee said...

Thank you for Guesting with us, Lee.

I love stories with unique plots and yours sounds very unique - a hero with a Secret Baby! I've gotta go order this!

Ros said...

And I, for one, am glad you found your niche! I can't wait to read the rest of the Ready Set Sold series.

Lee McKenzie said...

Thank you for having me here, Sarah! I hope you enjoy The Christmas Secret! That was a fun book to write!

I should also mention that anyone would like to receive bookmarks, they can send their snail mail address to me via my website and I'll pop some in the mail.

Lee McKenzie said...

Aw, thanks Ros!

Pat Amsden said...

I did love the Christmas Secret! And how perfect, home and family. I think that's where most of us our most connected.

Pat Amsden

Lee McKenzie said...

Wow, thank you Pat! Family ties are so important to me. One of my favorite things in the whole world is to set the dining room table and gather everyone together for dinner. Good times!