#1 Amazon Bestselling author, Marie McKenzie is an accomplished Registered Nurse, educator, community volunteer, victims’ advocate, and trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. Born in Jamaica, Marie migrated to the United States of America in 1989, and currently resides in Orlando, Fl with her husband, George.
Marie started writing in January of 2021 and her first book, Things That Keep Me Up At Night, was released June 2021. It is a Memoir based on her journey from childhood traumatic events to healing.
She now writes romantic suspense, and her first book in that genre, 90 Days of Pleasure, is available where books are sold.
She is a proud member of the NK Tribe Called Success.
Marie credits her faith in God for survival and triumph.
She has been an avid reader since childhood and reads across several genres – fiction, non-fiction, romance, suspense, thrillers, among others.
Follow her on social media:
1) First, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me! When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most? What about being a writer frustrates you the most?
You are welcome. Thank you so much for this opportunity. Earlier in my young adulthood I dabbled with poems, which I kept mostly to myself. Prior to January of 2021, I had not considered authoring a book. One day, while I was navigating my Facebook feed a post popped up about a 30-Day writing challenge and I jumped on board, and as they say, the rest is history. I truly enjoyed the process and was hooked.
I love the creative process the most. I delight in formulating a story in my head, penning it and experiencing the joy when reading. Additionally, I love that my books inspire and motive others.
I am mostly frustrated with technology and finding a way to stand out in the field of great authors and their amazing work. I’m severely challenged in that area and need it in order to promote my work, and to engage the readers.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?
Things That Keep Me Up At Night – my memoir, in which I share my journey from childhood adversities to triumph.
Apple – http://bit.ly/ThingsApl
B&N – https://bit.ly/3pVIUVB
Kobo – https://bit.ly/3gm4eR8
90 Days of Pleasure – co-authored with USA TODAY National Bestselling Author, Naleighna Kai – Book 9 of 9 in the Pleasures Series. A Romantic Suspense fiction novel for young adults and older.
Barnes & Noble https://bit.ly/90DaysPleasureBN
3) Where do you draw your inspiration from for the stories that you manage to weave together and the characters that you create?
My inspiration comes from my everyday experiences, reading, television shows, and interactions with others.
4) Do you have a schedule for when you write? Do you outline your novels? How long does it generally take you to finish a novel? What projects are you currently working on?
I find it challenging to maintain a writing schedule at this time. I’m a busy Registered Nurse, who teaches Monday to Friday, so sometimes at the end of day, energy is depleted, so it’s difficult to concentrate on writing. However, sometimes I plan and calendar times for writing, but most often it’s on the fly—whenever and wherever—airport, on the plane, recording while I drive, or at nights when the house is quiet.
I don’t always do an outline. I’m more of a panster, but sometimes I plot.
My memoir took 30 days, it could have been less. It all depends on what I’m writing and if a deadline is attached to the project.
I’m currently working on an inspirational book, which is part of a series with other authors. I also have other series and personal projects on the table for 2022.
5) What’s the first book you ever read that really moved you emotionally? Who is your favorite author to read? What book are you currently reading?
The first book I can recall that invoked strong emotions in me, was Roots by Alex Haley. I also watched the movie. That story had me wrapped in tears and anger for a long time. It has always been painful to see others suffer.
Growing up I read everything. But my favorite was Danielle Steel – although I read across genres, I loved romance novels. Now it’s Naleighna Kai, she can surely weave a tale. Everything she writes draws me in from page by page, even genres I’d stopped reading years ago.
I read multiple books concurrently. The following are open on my kindle:
Unfinished Business – Stephanie Freeman
Pleasure Series – Authors of the NK Tribe Called Success
In Five Years – Rebecca Serle
6) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
Without a doubt, my memoir has been my most significant achievement to date. As a result, I earned #1 Amazon Bestseller status. The reviews and feedback have been amazing. Women have reached out to me for support in sharing their stories. Both women and men have congratulated me on sharing my story, which has motivated others to do likewise. There are healthcare professionals who have used my book and have recommended it to their colleagues as a resource in group therapy with survivors.
In five years, I see myself at a place, championing the cause of survivors and writing fulltime in multiple genres—living my purpose.
7) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career? What is your advice for other writers to better be able to cope or navigate their way through the publishing process, be it traditional or self-publishing?
Although rejection can be painful, I see it as a steppingstone to push farther. God has placed me in a group, NK Tribe Called Success, where I’m receiving the guidance and support, I need, especially as a new author, to be successful. This group is phenomenal—coaches, editors, cover designer, beta readers, publishers, award winning authors, Literary Agent—covered. So far, I haven’t had the opportunity to deal with the publishing industry as my books are either self-published or done within my inner circle.
I’m aware that not everyone will appreciate my books and sometimes the critics can be harsh. I’ll look for the lessons and take heed.
My advice to other writers:
-Surround yourself with people who are experienced in the business and have your best interest at heart.
-Do your research.
-Invest in a good editor
-Take the craft seriously, unless you intend it as a hobby
-It’s a business, treat it accordingly.
-There’ll be naysayers—they’re not your concern
-Write your story YOUR way in your own words. You cannot please everyone.
-Maintain your integrity at all times
-Don’t wait until you publish to start marketing
-Align with a good tribe
8) Do you find it hard to juggle the creative side of being a writer against the business side of being a writer, in terms of marketing and promotion and things of that nature? How hard has it been (or easy) for you to build up your author platform?
I find it challenging at this point because I’m learning as I go. Technology is not my friend, yet, but I’m getting better. Like everything that’s new to you, to be successful, you must invest the time and what’s necessary to learn and improve. I’m growing in this area. It requires investing time daily, especially on social media, to increase my presence and promote my books.
Building an author platform has not been easy for me, so far. It does take a lot of effort—daily, consistent efforts to promote the work and engage audience. Whether it be posting on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, my website or sending out a newsletter. I’m fortunate that I belong to the NK Tribe Called Success where fellow authors support each other, which includes promoting each other’s books.
9) So many writers say that they hate reading their own work. Do you ever enjoy reading your own work back to yourself after it’s out there for the rest of the world?
I enjoy reading my books. I recall when I was going through editing and rewrites how certain sections would bring a smile or a tear. Some sections in the memoir stirs the emotions. The areas that cause me to smile remind of an editing tutorial that I watched, where the instructor, J.L. Campbell, said, “no joy in the writer, no joy in the reader.” That made me believe that if I enjoyed reading my work, then others would also.
10) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
I do not believe that there is ever a too late a time to begin. Whether you start at an early age or later, anyone who has the desire to write can become successful if they put in the work required. We all have a story or more inside of us and we determine when we want to tell it.
When you start doesn’t determine how successful you’ll become.
11) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
I find writing to be a powerful tool. It has helped me find healing through penning my memoir, which has also brought home to me that my purpose is helping others, especially women survivors and the homeless.
My unique quality is that I write in the form of stories, even my memoir, which gives my books easier flow when reading.
Writing is cathartic. I find it to be a great stress reliever, which fills my cup, so I am able to be available for others.