Mama Diaries

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Guest Author, C. Lee McKenzie




Today I have the awesome C.Lee McKenzie at my pad telling us about her newest release, Not Guilty. 


Hi Sherry. Thank you so much for giving me a chance to chat about this latest book I’ve titled NOT GUILTY. You asked me where the idea for this book came from, and that made me think back a few years. I found it quite interesting to trace this story from its beginning to now.

I discovered that no single idea generated Not Guilty, but my interest in exploring the theme of justice started the ball rolling. I love to think that there is such a thing in this world--even in the face of so much injustice. In fact, I wrote an earlier story with this same theme, but it’s still buried in my computer and may never be published. Maybe it was just a test run for this one.

When I set out to write Not Guilty, I had a very different plot in mind; then suddenly I had this clean-cut, middle-class basketball player of a kid locked up in juvenile hall for something he didn’t do. And while justice started out as my main theme, the one of friendship stepped up and took center stage. Surprise!

Well, I love surprises, so instead of trying to avoid this change in focus, I ran with it. Here’s a short scene where Devon (my MC) remembers how his long-time friend once left him to face the consequences for something the friend had done. This same friend has turned his back now that Devon’s in trouble, but not guilty...again.

          ... he wanted to get rid of the white noise inside his head. The noise that sputtered guilty. He’d only heard it once before when he was in the fifth grade playing ball in his backyard. His best friend, Colin Mayhew, had made a solid hit with his bat, but the ball hadn’t gone the direction it was supposed to. It had gone straight through their neighbor’s front window, shattering the urn on the mantel. But not just any urn. This one held Mr. Shipley’s ashes that were now scattered on the floor. Mrs. Shipley hysterical. Dad commandeering the broom and dustpan from him when he failed to sweep up Mr. Shipley fast enough. Mom trying reason and mint tea. Him, Devon Carlyle, wishing the bat hadn’t been his. Colin long gone.
          That moment was sharper in Devon’s memory now than ever before. He’d apologized. A lot. His dad had paid for the window and purchased a new, very expensive urn. Colin never owned up. Devon never told them what really happened. Nobody liked narcs, and there was something in his dad’s face that sealed his lips. So Mrs. Shipley and his parents always thought Devon had been the one who hit the ball.

Later, while Devon’s in juvenile hall, he finds friends who stand by him, ones who’d never leave him to take the rap for something he didn’t do.

So far my young adult writing has also explored themes like self-abuse, homophobia, grief, and guilt. And I’ve just finished a draft of a new book with intolerance and discrimination at its core.

A topic that Sherry suggested I might also discuss is my favorite genre. I can’t say I have a favorite one, but after so many serious young adult stories, I look forward to a magical middle-grade journey once in a while. I often jump into ones like Sign of the Green Dragon or my series of Pete and Weasel adventures (Alligators Overhead, The Great Time Lock Disaster, and Some Very Messy Medieval Magic). These are my sorbet between those young adult courses.

Thanks again for letting me be here on your great site, Sherry. And thanks to your readers for taking the time to find out more about Not Guilty.

 You're welcome, Lee! Best of luck with your new book! 

Here's my review:

When high school basketball star, Devon Carlyle, is wrongfully accused of assaulting a man on the beach with a knife, his world is turned upside-down. He needs to prove his innocence and find the true culprit.

Not Guilty is not just a story of social injustice and dealing with the aftermath of being wrongly accused. It is a story of friendship. Devon forms bonds with his juvenile detention roomies, Ice, Tats, and Chewy, who help him unravel who really committed the crime.


The book is well-written with fully-developed characters. Although it is obvious that Devon is not guilty, it is still interesting to watch the friendships develop and eventually learn the identity of the one who committed the crime. Recommended for Y/A readers. 5 star.


If you'd like to purchase a copy of Not Guilty, you can find it here:




For more information on Lee and her writing, connect with her on





Lee's other young adult books include: 









For a chance to win a copy of the book, click the following link:











28 comments:

  1. Rolling with it when it starts out one way and then becomes another can sure lead one down an unexpected path. Friendships are important.

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    1. I never know, but I usually like the direction a story takes me. Thanks, Pat

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  2. Sometimes those surprises make the best stories!

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    1. I'd like to ask some famous writers about those surprises and if they have them while creating a story.

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  3. I enjoy how the story has multiple layers to it and takes you down many paths.

    Sherry, thanks for being a part of Lee's tour.

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  4. Sounds very interesting!! Congrats Lee!

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  5. Sounds like a great book. Congrats, Lee.

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    1. Hi Liz. I'm pleased when people say they enjoyed the story.

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  6. I gotta get my review posted, but I enjoyed Lee’s book. She’s a wonderful storyteller.

    www.thepulpitandthepen.com

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    1. Hi Jeff,
      I'm glad you enjoyed the book, and thank you once again for taking the time to review it.

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  7. Hi Sherry. I loved being here today on your great blog. It was very generous of you to let me share your space. And thank you for the lovely review.

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    1. You're welcome! Happy to have you as my guest!

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  8. Best of luck to Lee on this her new book, Also thanks for a wonderful post. Lovely to read.

    Yvonne.

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  9. Congrats! I've got this one at the top of my TBR list. It sounds great.

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  10. Hi, Sherry & Cheryl-Lee!

    I enjoyed learning more about Cheryl Lee's book Not Guilty. Surely we can all relate. Who among us has not been falsely accused at least once? When I was four, a neighborhood friend of the same age coaxed and shamed me into helping him steal a bottle of milk from the milk truck parked along our street. He was a faster runner and therefore I was the one who got caught and took the blame. Cheryl-Lee, I enjoyed learning how your story evolved into something different from what was outlined originally. Your explanation supports the notion that if you get to know your characters well enough they sometimes take you on a journey in a direction that was unintended, but one that yields a better story.

    It's good to see you again, dear friends Sherry and Cheryl-Lee. Happy Halloween to both of you!

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    1. Thanks, Tom! Sorry you had to take the blame for your friend for the milk incident. I bet you didn't steal any more milk bottles after that.

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  11. I love surprises when I'm writing, too. (Good ones.) And I always welcome a plot twist or a change on a character.

    Congratulations, Lee!

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    1. You never know where the writing may take you.

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  12. So wonderful to see Lee here! I always love her books and this one sounds excellent too. Incredible where our surprises can take us. Wishing Lee all the best!
    ~Jess

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    1. I love reading her books. She's such a talented writer!

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  13. Similar to this book, I watched several movies about un-justice to teenagers, then they found the justice by themselves.

    Thank you for well written review.

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