Maria Christine McKenzie is the founder of Nocturna Media and associate editor for Un-X News. She is also a Vivian Awards judge for the Romance Writers of America (RWA). She studied quantum mechanics and history at the University of Southern New Hampshire and graduated with honors from Kaplan University, Davenport, Iowa, where she studied crime analysis, ethics, and forensic psychology. She is currently studying general psychology at Ashworth and paleography remotely at University of Glasgow. She is a lifetime member of the exclusive National Society of Collegiate Scholars and is a member of the United Nations Association of the USA, the NAACP, and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Maria is dedicated to the study of her family history; and proudly traces much of her rich heritage to Italy, Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, France, Nigeria, Benin & Togo, Switzerland, Netherlands, Sweden, and Germany. Her ancestry also spans the Barbary Coast, Spain, Mali, Central Africa, and Greece. She is a volunteer scribe for both the Washington State and Missouri State historic archives and is a founding board member of the Local History Preservation Society (LHPS) in Missouri.
Maria likes to read medieval fantasy and historic romance and enjoys writing about ominous anti-heroes and passionate heroines. Some of her favorite things are forests, dark castles, thunderstorms, folklore, and muscle cars. She is a devoted mother of four children and lives in the mid-western United States.
A Letter to You
Hello Everyone. Welcome to my humble domain. Part of the reason I love to write is that the feeling is utterly freeing. Always there are characters in my mind waiting for their stories to be told. Some harangue me until at last I put pen to paper. Others wait ever patiently, but they are always there... knitting in a rocking chair, pacing the palace floors in top hats and tailcoats, or gazing through a spyglass over the balcony to the distant sea... all of them occupying what would otherwise be neglected, unsown corners of my mind. This they could never allow, and it does give me comfort.
Who and what I like to read
All writers are artists, and I truly appreciate unique ideas and a love of storytelling... but I do have some faves and I covet them. When it comes to non-fiction, I enjoy archaeology and human history and learning about the migration of peoples. As for fiction, I love a good romance or an epic fantasy. For me, it doesn't get any better than Evelyn Rogers' Devil in the Dark or Desert Heat; and J.R.R. Tolkien's tales of Middle Earth. When I find a good story, I usually can’t stop reading until it ends... or until I fall involuntarily to sleep (like I've done so many nights reading both of the aforementioned authors). My favorite time to read is before bed, so this happens a lot.
As for the stories of Middle Earth, I have adored them since I was 6 years old. They are a wondrous read. You must read every word or else miss much in the marvelous telling. I remember obsessively reading The Fellowship one night years ago when my husband came to bed. Several nights in a row, I'd fallen asleep with the book in my hand. I would awake to continue reading. My husband had remarked several times about my lack of sleep, yatta yatta. So this night, when I heard him coming to bed, I hurriedly put the book away and pretended to sleep. A soon as he began to doze, I slipped a previously-planted mini flashlight from the drawer and began reading again—this time in the dark (Tolkien was very descriptive). My eyes were wide, and my pulse began to beat hard as Gandalf and the gang crept through Moria in the darkness. See, they were trekking carefully, as not to awaken any fell beasts - the only light they dared use was the subtle glow from the tip of Gandalf’s staff, similar to the flashlight I was using to light just a few words at a time. I must tell you, it was fiercely intense! I was lying on my side, my breath still from concentration, my eyes fixed on every word when I felt someone watching over me. When I turned to look over my shoulder in the dark, my husband and I were nose to nose. He'd scared me half to death and nearly laughed to tears. Hilare. Nevertheless, it shows that (even with my short attention span) a truly engaging story can consume me. This feeling is priceless.
My advice to new writers
Some of the best times I’ve had were while reading unpolished, informal, deliciously-fascinating stories by writers who are just starting out. There is something special about writers who do it for fun. They aren’t paid for their work, they write from the heart and for their own pleasure. And therein, magic can be found. Our stories are personal works of art—self-expression in one of its most beautiful forms. As I said in a poem for a sculptor, [your personal creation] is “a spark of the unseen soul come to brilliant life”. If it’s a peaceful part of you, then nurture it. Take note of suggestions, read a lot, and allow yourself to grow. As time goes on, I continue to learn from seasoned writers how to hone my skills, but it's often the beginners who remind me to enjoy myself.