March 31, 2009

Virtual Book Tour - Lea Schizas

It is with great pleasure that I welcome Lea Schizas to my blog.

Lea Schizas is a mother of five and tenderly referred as ‘Mother Hen’ by many writers.

Many have asked me where I find the time to do all that I do. Easy, when you have a deep passion for your work, you will always find time to complete your projects.

Lea Schizas is the founder of The MuseItUp Club, an online critique community, the Muse Online Writers Conference, and co-founder of Apollo’s Lyre. Each of these venues has consistently been in Writer’s Digest 100 Top Writing Sites since 2005.

For more information on her blogs, upcoming books, zines/newsletters, go here:

What or whom inspires you to write?

I’ve joked on several interviews that I mistook my umbilical cord as a cool writing implement and that’s how my writing career began. In all honesty, it was my dad’s love for the penned word that set me on my path. As a young girl I remember hearing dad’s speeches at weddings, meetings, get-togethers, and how he captivated the audience with his words.

Along with dad’s talent, it was my collection of comic books that really moved me to write. I loved the cliff-hanging endings, pushing me to buy the next comic book to find out what was going to happen. And that is exactly how I set up each of my chapter endings, thanks to comic books.

Where do you work? What is your ideal writing environment?

I’ve worked wherever I can get peace and quiet, alone time with my laptop. Right now I’m in a corner in my living room. The ideal writing environment would be my own office, where I can close the door to the yapping of my five kids and friends, to have my own shelves in front of me with my stack of writing books instead of having them spread throughout the house. But, this is one lesson writers need to adapt to – writing whenever and wherever you can, regardless of your surroundings. So, I’ve adapted quite nicely.

How many hours do you devote to writing and how long does it take you to write a book?

Donna, I am involved with many writing commitments so I work looonnng hours on my laptop. My day usually starts at 6:30am and doesn’t finish until midnight strikes. Now, I do clean, cook, and all the other motherly things so my time isn’t spent leaning over my laptop constantly.

Each day I devote to moving my own writing and editing forward, and then give one or two other writing aspects (updating sites/blogs, preparing zines/newsletters/reviews) my devotion as well. This slows down the time to complete my own work but I can safely say that I can finish three books in a year.

What do you most enjoy about the creative process? Are your characters based on people in your life?

I enjoy the freedom of no fear. What do I mean by that? I don’t fear being locked up in a nuthouse for stepping into my characters shoes while penning their stories. I become a teen with visions of past murders; an alien who finds himself tried for treason; a girl who discovers she is a princess to this whole new world she never knew existed. Writing allows you an escape, along with your reader, to leave your own safe domain and live another person’s life. This exhilaration can’t be felt in another profession as it is felt by those who write.

My characters are not based per say on anyone in my life but each do possess characteristics of family members. By keeping it ‘in the family’ it’s easier for me to flesh out their personalities, reactions and actions, to their fullest potential. And it doesn’t matter if my characters are human or animals; characters need to ‘feel’ real.

Do your characters crowd your conscious and sub-conscious thoughts? If yes, does it become difficult to keep them quiet?

In my previous answer, I wrote that I step into my character’s shoes so my answer would be yes, they do crowd my conscious and sub-conscious thoughts. How can they not? Until their story is finished, they are my buddies, telling me where they want to go, what they want to do. Some who are in a series have started their own blog, and quite popular as a matter of fact. They’ve now jumped out of my head and communicating with readers. And this is what it’s all about- leaving a memorable impression on your reader, connecting them to your characters.

Please provide us with a glimpse into your current project.

I have one big project that needs thought to successfully pull it off.

“Rock Kingdom” is the first in a series of books based within the land of Rock Kingdom. This is an unusual piece of work for me in the sense the villain is given as much attention as the main character, Alexandra Stone, a young teenager who discovers she is the princess to this whole new world her parents kept from her for a reason. The villain has a dilemma, and in each book not only will I offer glimpses into his past life to discover this ‘dilemma’ but also offer the panoramic portrait of Rock Kingdom, each book hosted in a different part within this world. So I am mapping out each book, each area holding a purpose and revealed secret to the ‘villain’, and introducing new citizens of Rock Kingdom along with the regular cast of characters in the whole series.

But this isn’t the only book I’m fleshing out. I have eight books in the works right now and each one is given equal time for me to complete. Every book needs to stamp its mark into a reader so I try not to rush anything.

What do you find to be more challenging: editing other writers’ manuscripts or developing your own?

I don’t have a hard time developing my ideas into penned words, nor the editing stage. I do have a hard time figuring out if I’m objective enough and deleted inconsequential passages to the fullest extend. That is why a critique partner or an editor comes in handy. We need another pair of eyes to catch things we are too involved with to see.

I have absolutely no difficulty editing other manuscripts because I am totally objective to this work and can spot plot holes, passive writing, weak dialogue easier than its creator.

Do you maintain your numerous websites on your own? Or do you have assistance?

I’ve been accused of being twins, possessing a magical wand, or totally nuts. I agree with their last sentiment. I have no assistance. I do them all as I wrote earlier, devoting/splitting my time each day to one or two projects besides my writing and editing. I always say determination and perseverance are two qualities a writer must possess in order for them to complete their projects. Passion has to be, however, within you, as well, and I do possess passion for the written word.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Editing, reading…oh, you mean ‘out of the writing sense’. Hmm…play with my three-year-old dog, Daisy. She’s in one of my books, naturally. Go to the movies, visit Chapters for a good book (they must think I’m the owner with the amount of times I visit), garden, or sit outside and do absolutely nothing. Rare but it happens.

What has been the most memorable experience in your writing career?

Besides being published, there are many memorable experiences in my career but two stand out for me. Kathe Gogolewski, a MuseItUp member and dear cyber friend, surprised me for the Muse’s second year anniversary. She went behind my back and contacted several writers I know and they made a tribute to me, each writing a small thank you as to how I touched their writing life in her site, It wasn’t the tribute nor the thank yous that touched me than the fact they went to the trouble of doing something special for me. This meant the world to me.

The other total surprise was when I met with another Muser, Shelagh McNally, at a cafĂ© here in Montreal and she presented me with a plant and a very special card that I treasure to this day. It was from all the writers in the first anthology project I set up, co-authored, edited and had published by Double Dragon Publishing, “The Muse On Writing”- These writers live all over the world but each one signed, wrote a special note to me, then sent it off to the next person to sign until it came to me. We’re talking this card went around the world until it finally came into my possession. And I had no clue. Again, this gesture, I can’t tell you what it meant and continues to mean to me.

My parents taught me that you never do something if you are expecting thanks. You do what you can for others within your means and time constraint. And that’s what I do so whenever an email of thanks comes my way, or the above two gestures, these are my favorite toppings to add with my ice cream. They move me to pay it forward to the next writer.

Tomorrow, please tell us more about your book, Bubba and Giganto:Odds Against Us.

March 19, 2009

Time to Recycle

I just wrapped up a rhyming picture book manuscript, but I’m still itching to write some more. So I started off by opening some files that contain works in progress and I took a look at what I had come up with so far, no luck there. But in doing that, I did realize something. When it comes to story ideas and works in progress, I’m an electronic pack rat. I don’t toss anything away. What’s funny to me is that I never thought of myself as a pack rat before. But when it comes to my writing, I am.

Thank goodness that I keep everything electronically, because otherwise I’d have stacks of paper from the floor to the ceiling. I even have two or three work-in-progress versions of the same story. Sometimes a previous idea might be the best one. I just hate to throw ideas away. I always feel that I’ll have a use for them someday. Believe me, it’s not because I think all of my ideas are golden, they’re not. I think that it’s because if an idea doesn’t work here that doesn’t mean it won’t work in another story.

So I keep them around, hoping to recycle them one day when I’m stuck on another story or when I think I can fix whatever doesn’t work with them. Most likely though, they’ll just stay unworkable ideas in unworkable stories. But who knows, I’m an optimist at heart. Otherwise, I would have quit long before I ever had any success at this.

Now what else do I have here? …

March 12, 2009

First Virtual Book Tour-Postmortem

My first Virtual Book Tour appearance was an interesting learning experience. Even though my book isn’t out yet, I can definitely see the appeal of it. It allowed me to connect with other people regardless of their location and to reach a larger audience since different blogs have different readers, all this without leaving my keyboard, sweet huh?

It’s also nice to meet other writers. Writing is a lonely business, so it’s great to meet others who have similar interests and have them share the tricks of the trade. It’s also great to know that you’re not the only one willing to toil away long hours without ever knowing if anything will ever come of it.

I didn’t quite know what to expect but it all went quite smoothly. For my guest spot, all I needed to do was conduct a fresh interview and provide a picture. Kathy Stemke took care of the rest. For my hosting duties, I spent a little time beforehand preparing all the material to post. Then it was just a matter of posting everything and advertising it everywhere I could. Then I basically made sure I showed up at both sites to answer any questions and to keep things humming along. I think that it’s all a matter of being both a gracious host and a gracious guest. All in all, I have to say that it was a positive experience.

If you happen to be a published author or soon to be published author with a book to promote, my virtual book tour group is taking on new members and I am happy to pass on the following message:

Get your book visible with the yahoo group Virtual Book Tours – the ONGOING
tour. We're a group of authors who promote each other through tours and other
marketing strategies. To find out more contact: Karen at: Please put VBT-KM in the subject box.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll be hosting you here.

March 1, 2009

Virtual Book Tour - Ransom Noble

Today, my first foray into virtual book tours begins. My guest author is Ransom Noble. I'm being interviewed by Kathy Stemke. If you get a chance, please stop by at and say hello.

But is with great pleasure that I welcome Ransom to my blog.

Ransom Noble has always loved stories. She’s been an avid reader and writer as long as she can remember. Believing determination can help one attain any goal, she set her sights high and achieved many goals. Her love of the sciences led her to a career in mechanical engineering and often pushes her imagination into the speculative fiction realm.

Ransom and her husband enjoy watching movies and playing games with their friends. She likes to go see local bands play and occasionally attends sports events at her alma mater. Her live-and-let-live policy extends to stinging insects and spiders, which earned her the nickname the Wasp Whisperer.

Ransom currently resides in Des Moines, Iowa, though she’s lived several other places. She's sure she isn't fond of snow since she was born in Modesto, California, and didn't learn what it was until she was eight. She graduated from engineering at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

Her work includes “Qui’s Contract,” a short story that appeared in Ruins Metropolis in June 2008 and The Art of Science, which will be published in 2009.

Ransom, so we can get to know you, please answer a few questions for us.

What is going on with your writing these days?

Working on my second YA novel and I just finished a submission to a science-fiction anthology.

Why do you write?

Because I love it and I can’t stop. Ideas pop in my head, even while writing other things. I don’t want to let them escape and I enjoy sharing them with others.

How old were you when you first started writing?

I’m not sure. I remember in 4th or 5th grade I was chosen to be part of a journal because of my story about a dragon and a mouse. I think they took the best elementary submissions from all over Iowa, but it’s been awhile. I know I started making up stories around 1 year old, because we got a TV around that time. Mom would catch me watching it (when it was off) and asked me what I was doing. Apparently I told her it was more fun to watch when it was off because I was making up my own shows. Through junior high I made up several stories to fill the required journals for English class and continued because my classmates loved to read them (and I loved to write them and thrived on their participation). Somewhere toward the end of junior high and into high school I switched to poetry, then back to prose when I began college classes (during high school). I had to keep my first Physics notebook from college because it had too many story scenes where I got bored during lectures. When I got out of college, I took a couple correspondence courses because I wanted to learn more and give myself an excuse to write, but work often made me too tired to do it on my own. Still, I finished my first novel while working as well as several short stories and some unfinished novels. Now I write full-time, as well as being a stay at home soon to be mom.

Who are your influences?

Judy Blume, Robert Heinlein, Mercedes Lackey

Where is your favorite place to write?

Somewhere quiet without many distractions. I can write with distractions, it’s just easier when they’re not around. I also like music going while I do, sometimes.

Can you list all your book titles so people can look for them?

Science Fiction and Fantasy Anthology: Ruins Metropolis, by Hadley Rille books

Upcoming: The Art of Science, YA novel by 4RV Publishing, LLC.

Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website? Blog?

Is there a place where readers can reach you?

Thank you for stopping by Ransom.