Good Afternoon friends and welcome. Today author Renee MacKenzie has stopped by to chat. Her book, Pausing, is out and has people talking. I am currently reading the book, so you have to wait for my review. Come on in and meet this amazing woman.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
What is “Pausing” about?
Pausing is a love story. Pausing is about letting love happen, even if that love falls outside the boundaries you once thought mattered. Jordy Chapman, Emergency Service Coordinator at a mental health facility, is falling fast for the owner of Yeager’s Furniture, Keira Yeager. Jordy has a new zero-tolerance policy in her personal life for any kind of mental instability which is just fine, until she meets Keira.
What was your inspiration behind the book cover for “Pausing”?
Running and sushi were a big part of my life while writing Pausing and I let it spill over into the book itself. The silhouette of a runner just made sense for the cover. I’d like to give a big shout out to Nancy with Irish Dragon Designs for the wonderful cover. The colors are amazing, provocative.
Did you do any types of writing while you were in school? If so, did you receive any awards or recognition for your work?
I played with sappy love poems when I was in high school. Then while studying business administration at the community college in VA I took a creative writing class as an elective and was immediately hooked on short story writing. I had a few short stories published in the college literary magazine while I was there. I left college for many years and returned when I was in my 30s. This time I majored in Creative Writing at Augusta State University. I’d submitted to a small scholarship fund for that school and won it. I also had a few short stories and poems published in that university’s literary magazine.
Is there anyone or anything in your life who encourages you to write? If so, tell us about it?
I am encouraged every day by so many people. My coworkers at Big Cypress National Preserve have been amazingly supportive, as have my friends and neighbors. One of the first people who encouraged me was my friend Pauline Rushton when I lived in Augusta, GA. She’s the one who encouraged me to submit to the writing scholarship, and was the first person to ever call me a ‘writer.’ She passed away in 2009, years before I’d published my first novel, and I often think about her and how much she encouraged me.
Are you a traveler? Where is your favorite vacation spot of all time?
Most of the traveling I do these days revolves around writing conferences or author reading events. So far, I’ve really loved Austin and Palm Springs. I don’t believe I’ve been to my all-time favorite spot yet. Maybe northern California after I go there in October? I’m dying to go to the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Above all – Thank You. At the end of the day, it is all about the readers. Readers, both in the Lesfic community and my personal circle of friends, family, and neighbors, have been simply amazing.
Can you elaborate on what has worked for you that gets you into a creative zone?
Sometimes all it takes is a long walk with my dog, Sabrina, or a leisurely shower. Other times it comes down to staring at a blank wall (sometimes for hours) and letting my mind wander. If I am having trouble really getting into a character’s head, I put them in bed with their love interest. Nothing jump starts a story for me quite like a sex scene.
Let’s give a shout out to Affinity Press books. What would you like to say to them?
Thank you, Affinity, for taking a chance on me. Thanks for letting me tell my stories, my way. We always have a good time when we are together, but never lose sight of the fact that in the end, it’s all about telling our stories. We might be spread all over the globe, but when we get together it feels quite fluid and natural.
What has been your favorite part of being an author? The least favorite?
My favorite part of being a writer is making shit up and not getting in trouble for doing so. I also really enjoy research, and get quite hands-on when doing so. While writing Anywhere, Everywhere, I took python handling training multiple times so I would know exactly what Gwen felt when she held a python. When I was writing Pausing, I interviewed a friend’s husband, who held the job Jordy holds at a similar mental health facility. Even though I’d driven the Colonial Parkway in Virginia hundreds of times, while writing 23 Miles I drove it again, putting myself in Talia Lisher’s head while doing so.
My least favorite part is promotion. It’s hard to find the balance between effectively putting yourself and your work out there and being, well quite frankly, obnoxious about it. I’m not sure I’ve found that balance. Public readings were once the hardest part for me, but I’ve gotten much more comfortable with them. I still get nervous, but nothing like it was in the beginning.
Here’s a videotaped interview I did in Virginia shortly after 23 Miles, my novel that fictionalizes the real life Colonial Parkway murders of 1986:
Interview with Renee
Me: This is a must watch video.
Do you follow other Affinity Press authors?
I follow most of the writers with Affinity as much as time constraints will allow. I spend a lot of time with Ali Spooner thanks to our involvement together with Sappho’s Scribes of Florida. She’s an amazing writer. I have also spent quite a bit of time at conferences with Annette Mori and Jen Silver, both also great writers. We are very much like a family, even if we only see each other a few times a year. I love the Lone Star Lesfic Festival in Austin, and it’s extra great that so many of the Affinity family is there – JM Dragon, Erin O’Reilly, Nancy Kaufman, Alice Plough, Lacey Schmidt, Ali Spooner, Annette Mori, Del Robertson, and myself.
What is your favorite restaurant in Naples, FL?
My favorite restaurant in Naples is probably Sushi Thai – the one on Airport Pulling Road (best service and best outdoor area for my dog). My characters Jordy, Steph, and Keira spend a lot of time in Tokyo Inn in the novel Pausing, but that is on Marco Island, not in Naples.
Tell us something about your Alma Mater? Were you part of any clubs?
I went to high school at York High in Yorktown VA, but was too busy partying to be in any groups (or at least to remember if I was…). For college I went to two small schools (Thomas Nelson in Newport News, VA, and August State University in Augusta, GA) while working multiple jobs, so I didn’t do much with any clubs.
Do you go to the beach often? Do you prefer sunrise or sunset visits? Why?
I live quite close to the beach but don’t go often. I prefer to spend my time in the swamp. My favorite beach is Tigertail on Marco Island. It is part lagoon and part gulf beach and has the most amazing birds. But whether it’s beach or swamp, I always have my camera with me.
I am a sunrise person all the way. I love mornings.
What was the last movie that you saw in the theatre? Did you love it or not and why?
The last movie I saw in a commercial (public) theater was Jurassic World, in July of 2015. It was okay. Before that, the last movie was Rent, ten years earlier. I’m not a big fan of movie theatres. We have a 21-seat theater, in our community clubhouse that I go to occasionally. The last movie there was The Secret Life of Pets.
What is in the works for you?
I’m currently working on a sequel to Pausing, a dystopian romance, and a thriller. Jordy and Keira will join me for the still unnamed sequel, but the main characters will be minor ones from Pausing. I’ll be hanging out in a downtown Naples art gallery to get ready for this one. I’m 47k words into the dystopian romance, with at least two others planned in that series. And the thriller has been started but put aside for the others right now. That will be set in Big Cypress and include Gwen and PJ from Anywhere, Everywhere. Once upon a time I would never think about writing on more than one project at a time, but these days I can’t seem to help myself.
Here is an excerpt from Pausing.
“I wonder if I could get some measurements.” Keira gave Jordy a hopeful look. “Some idea of the size of the furniture in there now?”
Jordy glanced around. “I need something to measure with.”
“I have a tape measure,” Keira said. She pulled one out of her shoulder bag. “Never leave home without it,” she joked.
Jordy laughed. She liked this woman. But she also didn’t want her out in the dayroom. Not while it was occupied.
Donte was standing at the back of the room. Jordy waved him over.
“Yeah, boss,” he said.
“Give me a hand with something in the dayroom?”
“Sure.” He turned to Keira. “Hi, I’m Donte.”
“I’m Keira,” she replied back.
Keira smiled at him, the smile Jordy couldn’t help thinking was warm and sweet and… whoa, really, Jord?
“Keira, do you have paper and pen?” Jordy asked her.
She nodded and retrieved that from her bag as well. That was when Jordy noticed the dainty ring on Keira’s right ring finger. The stones were arranged into a rainbow of colors. Now, this is interesting.
“Can I see your cell phone?” Jordy asked.
Keira raised an eyebrow before pulling her phone from her bag as well.
Jordy took the phone from her and dialed her own cell number. She answered when it rang and then handed Keira’s phone back to her.
Jordy put her phone up to her face and said, “Can you hear me now?”
Keira laughed into hers. “Yes, I can hear you.”
Jordy and Donte went out into the dayroom and Jordy measured and told Keira the numbers via cell phone. Donte was mostly there to watch Jordy’s back. She couldn’t concentrate on measuring, talking to Keira on the phone, and being sufficiently aware of her surroundings all at the same time.
“She’s pretty,” Donte said when no one else was close.
“Yes, she is, and she’s also still on the phone,” Jordy answered.
Donte’s light brown skin started glowing red and Jordy laughed.
Keira asked for Jordy to measure the back wall in its entirety. Jordy did. Then they wrapped it up.
Jordy walked Keira out to the lobby.
“Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule for me today,” Keira said.
“It’s the least I could do. Thank you for your generosity.” Jordy didn’t understand the feeling that washed over her then. Her mind started reeling; she desperately wanted to make an excuse to see her longer, or again, or something.
Keira smiled. “I will be in touch if I have any questions. It will probably be a few weeks before I get it all ready to be delivered.”
“Will you be coming by on delivery day?” Jordy asked, knowing she must sound like a hopeful school girl with a blossoming crush.
Keira looked like she was considering that for the first time. “Well, I do believe I will.”
Let’s give a big thank you to Renee. For more about her, don’t forget to check out her links below, including her blog which you can follow.
Renee’s Facebook Page
Renee’s Instagram Page
Purchase ‘Pausing’ – Affinity
Until Next Time,
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