ON PARIS

"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris ... then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast." Ernest Hemingway

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

#IWSG post - Who's guilty? Not C Lee McKenzie!

Happy New Year all!

It's easy to feel insecure when fire threatens your village (as the image below shows), which it has done 4 times since September. Thanks to all of you who've shared Australia is Burning stories on FB and other social media. Appreciate that you care.

But it's insecurity re our writing that's the topic here!


There's so many ways we're insecure about our writing, isn't there? One is choosing the best point of view to tell your story.

After re-reading your draft, do you wonder if you've written in the best point of view? I've read authors who said after slaving away for months on their story, they realized they couldn't do it justice in the POV they chose. So they rewrite...and rewrite...

When I sat down to read C Lee McKenzie's Not Guilty, I wondered about the POV. I often read of males struggling to write the female's POV and vice versa. I think it's particularly gutsy to write from a seventeen-year-old male's POV as Lee has done. I wondered if she'd pull it off!

C Lee McKenzie, well known to most of us, chose the voice of teenager, Devon Carlyle, to tell her story. Devon comes through loud and clear and with great authenticity as he deals with the injustice dealt him by the law and his erstwhile friends and current enemies, at times with grace.

I like to learn something new when I read a novel, and I was fascinated with the peek inside a juvenile detention centre from an inmate's first hand POV. As much as I suffered along with Devon, I loved seeing the way it worked.

Lee's novel was a triumph of POV. But I was moved by the mother's character, too. There was a deep underlying emotion that couldn't be tackled in Devon's POV and there's a whole other book there...Lee? ... Lee?  No matter what POV we choose, it's limiting, isn't it?

I asked Lee about this. She graciously replied with the story of how she came up with the POV for Not Guilty...

"My answer is that all of my stories start from the character(s). In other words, I don’t sit down and think about whose POV it will be in. I know that’s what I’m supposed to do. Books on writing say, "Really consider whether you want an intimate first person POV or a close or distant third person before you write the book.”" 
But here’s my so-called system:  When I want to tell a story I start with the theme or main thread, then I wait for the character(s) to show up, and they pretty much determine which POV I’ll tell it in. If I remember correctly, I’ve only used first person POV in one of my books, but I’m open to doing it again if the character is. 
For Not Guilty, I wanted to tell a story about injustice, and the character that appeared was Devon Carlyle (the name was important, and if you read the story you’ll understand).  Since this book is supposed to be marketed for readers 14+, one of the criterion is that the protagonist be a teenager. I had Devon in my head; all I had to do was make him the right age. 
Now what if Margaret Carlyle had shown up instead? Would she have demanded to have center stage, be up-close and intimate with the reader? I’ll never know."

If you haven't had the pleasure of reading Lee's Not Guilty, think about doing yourself and Lee a favor. I know we all have Kindle's bursting with TBR titles, but how about we make 2020 our year of supporting fellow bloggers? Let's buy, read and review more of each other's books. I'm sorry that I've been more of a reader than reviewer in the past and will try to rectify that in 2020. How about you?


A blood-smeared knife. One young man’s word against another. A lifetime dream crushed. 
The evidence points to Devon Carlyle. He was there when it happened. Everyone knows he had it in for Renzo Costa. And Costa says Devon was the one. In the judge’s rap of a gavel Devon’s found guilty of assault. The star of the Oceanside High’s basketball team loses his shot at the one thing he’s worked so hard for—the championship game where college scouts could see how good he is.
Now he makes his great shots in Juvenile Hall with kids far different from those that have always been in his life. 
Angry? Hell, yes. 
He’s bent on finding who did the crime. He’s bent on making them pay because he’s Not Guilty.
But can he prove it?

Buy Links: 


Thanks for coming by today. I hope your 2020 is going to be awesome! I know mine is!


Lee planning her next book..

IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, PLEASE TWEET! - THANK YOU!

Check out @cleemckenziea here: https://dencovey.blogspot.com/2020/01/iwsg-post-whos-guilty-not-c-lee-mckenzie.html

POV in storytelling. Check out @cleemckenzie here: https://dencovey.blogspot.com/2020/01/iwsg-post-whos-guilty-not-c-lee-mckenzie.html


And if you have time in your busy writing schedule, please consider joining the WEP/IWSG for the February 2020 challenge:


And we congratulate our winner for the December Footprints challenge, newbie Sonia!



65 comments:

  1. Great post! I LOVE this book - so powerful.
    I can't pull off 1st person pov yet - but Lee sure can!

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    1. Some people hate first person POV. Personally I love it for its immediacy.

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    2. Thanks for this, Jemi. The POV issue is always the first and hardest one to tackle when setting out to write a story.

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  2. The fires truly have been terrible!

    With my Wielder's Storm trilogy, I chose one main POV, but occasionally I needed a scene with a different POV to share extra info my main character wasn't aware of.

    Lee did a great job in Not Guilty.

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    1. She did for sure. I wanted to break out and write a few scenes from another POV in my series, but I ended up rewriting from the protag's POV as it seemed tame with the shift.

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    2. I really enjoyed Wielder's Storm, so you chose your POV well.

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  3. The character often lets you know the point of view right away. I've always done third person as that's just how my characters have come across.

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  4. Sorry the fires a
    Re so close to where you live. Hope they get them under control.

    I loved Lee’s book too and found the scene
    In the detention center fascinating

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    1. So do I Natalie.
      Me too. That detention centre was so sad yet uplifting in ways.

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    2. People ask me how I got those scenes. I did go to a detention center years ago, and the experience stuck in my head.

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  5. I know who did it!! it was Colonel Mustard in the Conservatory.

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  6. Hi Denise - great review of Lee's book ... and yes it's one I want to read ... and I want to read more in 2020. Excellent review and thoughts here.

    The fires are frightening ... that's putting it mildly. I'm pleased there's been a little relief ... and just sincerely hope there's an easing - though it seems unlikely. I worry for humans, but also for the environment - flora and fauna ... with thoughts Hilary

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    1. Thanks Hilary. I hope you get to read Not Guilty but I know how it is. I'm reading about a dozen books ATM!

      That's true re the flora and fauna. All those beautiful native animals caught in the blazes. Thankfully so many kind people have helped rescue them and care for them. One bright spot...

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  7. I'm glad you and your property are safe. I can't imagine being threatened by something so horrific.

    Nice to see Lee here. I thought Not Guilty was an excellent read and it's no small feat to tell a story from the opposite gender's POV and a teenager to boot. She pulled it off really well.

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    1. Thanks Nick.
      I think so too with the POV.

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    2. I confess that I did have help. I raised boys, so I had some insider experience.

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  8. Considering how much people love Not Guilty, I'd say you picked the right POV.

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  9. Hi Denise, yes our hearts and prayers are with you. Terrible these fires were intentionally started. Have a great New Year!

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    1. Thanks Stephen. Apparently data shows that only 6% of fires start through natural causes. :-(
      You have a great new year too!

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  10. Happy New Year!
    I've read Lee's book and think it is dynamic. I love it.
    I hope you're okay and that the fires will be put out soon. It is terrible what is happening.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

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    1. I loved your review too Pat.
      We expect the fires to keep going awhile yet. It's only midsummer now!

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  11. What a great review!

    I'm glad you're safe and I hope you remain that way (no smoke health problems or reactions).

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    1. Thanks Holly. All good for now.

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    2. Denise writes beautifully. Even her reviews sparkle.

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  12. The book sounds great! I'll definitely have to check it out.
    I love first person POV and letting the character take over the story.

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    1. I hope you do Sarah. It's a great one! (I myself love the first person POV but like all POVs, it has its limits.)

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    2. I'd love your take if you do read it, Sarah. I always love feedback from other writers.

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  13. I'm so impressed that you can be in the middle of that catastrophe of fire and still manage to post. So professional, Denise. I admire you. And I thank you so much for the terrific shout out about Not Guilty. You do one heck of a great interview.

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    1. Thank you Lee. I'm honored to have you on my blog today.

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  14. Happy New Years! I struggle with which POV to write in. Thanks for the great post.

    Www.alliebock.com

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    1. Thanks for coming by Allie. POV isn't easy but when you make the right choice it makes all the difference.

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  15. Hello Clee and Dx.

    Sorry about all the fires in Oz D. I know how devastating they can be, even if you are not burned out yourself. That was an awesome review of Lee's book.

    Clee: Congrats on the book release. Denise's review is riveting, as I'm sure the novel and characters are. I love a book with great, well written characters. POV can be hard to nail down. I'm like you, my characters show up, individually and in groups, and while I usually stick to a close 3rd person, I'm not adverse to multiples and the occasional 1st. I generally know by the third chapter for a novel, and about 2000 words in for a short story, if I've chosen the right character perspective to focus the story.

    Weird how we discuss the voices in our head like its a normal thing, lol. Gotta love our characters!

    You beautiful ladies have a great weekend :)

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    1. Thanks Donna, lovely to hear from you. Yeah, I love the way we consider our characters real people - they are, aren't they?

      You have a great weekend where you are. I hope your 2020 is going to be awesome!

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    2. I think all writers are afflicted by character-chatter. I'm sure we're all sleep deprived. Thanks so much for your great comment.

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  16. I hope your village and home stay safe from the fires! I am a little freaked out when I read about them, since it's California's fires on steroids--and ours were terrifying enough.

    I agree about reading and boosting other writers' books. And I have far too many on my kindle, unread. Maybe that should be my resolution: read them.

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    1. Thanks Rebecca. 'California's fires on steroids...' love it, but it is terrifying.
      Yep. I'm really going to try to review more of the books I read...trouble is, there's always another book to start/finish/drop...

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    2. Books on my Kindle are like zucchini in the garden. They just keep coming.

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  17. I am thinking of you, Denise! And praying for all of Australia.

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  18. Hi, Denise! I have no words for the tragedy that is consuming parts of Australia. I'm keeping Australia and its living things in my heart and prayers. Thank you for reviewing Lee's book. Every year I read more fellow IWSG member's books. I think it's important to support each other. Thanks for mentioning it! All the best to you in 2020! Wishing you rain and safety!

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    1. Thanks! It's great to support each other.

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    2. My heart goes out to Australia. Since I live in a high fire zone, I really can empathize.

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  19. Hi Denise - I've been thinking about my Australian friends and praying for their safety. The news is devastating.
    I hope to read Lee's book soon. I found the discussion about the point of view interesting and must say that it piqued my curiousity for Lee's book.
    Congratulations to Sonia for winning the WEP - her story was heartrending.
    Happy New Year to you.

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    1. Thanks Kalpana. I hope you read and enjoy Lee's book.

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    2. Denise has really stepped up to help me out on this launch! And she's done it in the midst of catastrophic fires. That means a lot to me.

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  20. I hope all of you stay safe from the fires, it has been and is distressing to see them on the news. 2019 has been challenging in many ways, I am hoping 2020 will be much better. For all of us.

    All the very best!

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    1. Yes, I've had a bad start Nila, but hope improvement comes soon!

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  21. Those fires are horrible. I hope you and yours stay safe, Denise. One of my internet friend posted this image on her site, and I wanted to share. https://widdershinsfirst.com/2020/01/07/australia-is-burning/ It is so heart-breaking.
    Writing in the 1st person POV of a teenage boy - that must have been a challenge. At least it would be for me. Lee's book sounds fascinating.

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    1. Wow. I visited her site and yes I've seen this powerful image on FB. It encapsulates the agony both human and animal.

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    2. It had such impact seeing that. Imagine being there!

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  22. This s a great tribute to Lee's book. I wondered about the mother in the story,too. The anguish she must have felt. Happy New Year, Denise. Hope you stay safe.

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  23. Thank you for your inspirational post, not only that reminder about Australian fires, but for laying down a challenge to get more involved -- not just in our own writing, but supporting others as well. OK, so I tweeted and now . . . I just might purchase and review! Happy New Year.

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    1. Thanks Beth. I’m sure Lee will appreciate it!

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    2. Thank you, Beth. I do appreciate it.

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  24. Happy New Year Denise. So glad to see you back on the blog path, safe and sound, despite the raging fires. Thank you for this insightful post on Lee’s novel Not Guilty. Unfortunately, not only is my Kindle already bursting with TBRs, but my bookshelves are also piled high with fellow writers books. Not Guilty has joined my list though. Thank you for the review.
    Looking forward to seeing you next month and on Café Terrace too. Have an inspiring week.

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    1. Thanks Susan. I'm looking forward to getting a few kindle reads ticked off when I'm away from home for a week from tomorrow.
      Looking so forward to Cafe Terrace...see you there!

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    2. The entries for this next Challenge should be great. They are each time. I look forward to reading them.

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  25. Hi Denise! Happy New Year! I am so far behind with greetings, but with my surgery, I have been under the weather. The basal was very deep and a good chunk of my nose was taken out...but, thankfully the cancer is gone and hopefully will never return. I am healing, but slowly. I looked like I was hit in the face with the bat and I swelled up like crazy. It is finally going down and my face should be normal by the end of this week. The doctor said it would take up to four months to fully heal. I still have to be screened every six months the first few years. Not fun, but necessary.

    I have been listening about the fires and I am glad to year you are okay.

    The house is taking quite a long time. The workers here are quite lazy and don't really care if they show up or not. They don't even care about losing money if they don't show up. I have never encountered this in my life, living in cities. I guess this is 'country' life. Ugh. My floor guy bailed now, so I just hired a new one today. Now I just need to get the wood delivered to the house. I found a beautiful white oak, but I don't know how long for delivery and since the floor is holding up the kitchen rehab, I need in NOW. LOL.

    I was so thrilled for you in your amazing travels this past year, and the pics were gorgeous. Some day....I hope to meet you somewhere exotic so we can chat for hours about writing and life... Wishing you all that is healthy and wonderful for 2020....Sending lot of HUGS.

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    1. Thanks for the lovely catch up chat Michael. Sorry about your contractors. So frustrating. I hope it's all gorgeous soon.
      Sorry about your surgery. Sounds awful. George had it done and got plastic surgery on the same day. Wouldn't know now.
      We'll meet someday!!

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    2. So sorry to hear you've been out with surgery. Hope this finds you well onto the road to good and continued health.

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    3. Thanks Denise. It hope so. The upper cabinets were installed yesterday, but I have to wait a week or so for the new floor to be installed, then the bottom cabinets and SINK can be installed. How I miss my kitchen sink!

      Thanks Lee. Sorry I forgot to comment on your book. I am curious to read it because I wrote a YA also in teen male POV. I almost had a few agents hooked, but in the end they decided not to rep it. I believe it has to do with the underlying cause of my characters abuse, which was military based. Anyway, once I get to reading it, I will certainly leave a review. All the best to you in the new year!

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  26. Just finished Lee's Time Lock story. Still working on my review. I've been reading too and although I hate writing reviews I do it. Lee's an amazing writer! I'll have to pick up this one. So? When can we expect yours? So looking forward to that!

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    1. I think we need to write shorter, simpler reviews or we don't get around to it. Hmm. Here i am traveling again. If I'm ever home long enough I'll be hitting PUBLISH. Yay! Early this year is my hope.

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    2. I so appreciate readers who take the time to review! I keep telling my reading friends how important reviews are, but honestly, I don't think non-writers get it. Thanks, Yolanda!

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