Friday, October 29, 2010

Interview with author Lea Schizas

Today, my guest is multi-talented writer, editor, and publisher, Lea Schizas.  Lea is well known in the writing community for her MuseItUp Club, Apollo's Lyre newsletter, the annual free MuseItUp Online Writers Conference, and most recently her newly launched publishing houses, MuseItUp Publishing and MuseItHot Publishing.

Lea is here today as the author of the middle grade novel, The Halloween Dino Trip. This great story for kids has mystery, fun, and interesting facts about dinosaurs.

Please tell me how long you've been writing, and why you decided to become a writer.

I joke that I began writing in my mom’s womb when I mistook the umbilical cord for a neat writing implement. But in all seriousness, I began as a child, in elementary school, and won a contest in grade six for the best horror story that scared the beegeebees out of my fellow students. They were the ones voting so it was a really big honor.

Are you a full-time writer or a part-time writer, and how do you organize your writing time?

I’m a full-time publisher now but continue to be a full-time writer. When the passion is in you, a writer will always find time to write. The only problem now is that I don’t get to write as often as I’d like but concentrate more on my authors and getting their work out there.

What influences your writing?

Can’t really pinpoint any one particular influence other than the need to entertain readers. Nothing can be as gratifying knowing readers enjoy your penned words.

Is this your first published work?  What other types of writing have you done?

The Halloween Dino Trip isn’t my first published book. I’ve written two Young Adult books, and have three children’s picture books to be published this year and 2011:

Doorman’s Creek with eTreasures is a Paranormal YA Mystery

Bubba and Giganto: Odds Against Us with 4RV Publishing is a YA book dealing with bullying

I Don’t Want A Haircut coming out with Guardian Angel Publishing deals with a child’s fear of their first haircut. As a children’s stylist for close to 20 years I’ve actually used some of my own little client’s interpretations of what they believed were happening to them, like a bee buzzing around their ears when I used the clippers. Real cute.

Robbie and Katie’s Adventures coming out with Guardian Angel Publishing is about twins and how they perceive the world. Think of Dennis the Menace but they don’t get into trouble. It’s their point of view on the world that’s hilarious.

Lizzy the Odd Squirrel coming out with 4RV Publishing is a children’s picture book once again dealing with bullies but having one particular squirrel relate her dilemma.

Why did you choose to write a children's story?

Because writer’s have the opportunity to instill a love of reading and writing to children at a young age, to continue offering them interesting tales of adventure, mystery, historical, and everything else that can only further the continuance of them reading at an older age. Books educate them in some ways and enhances their vocabulary.

What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?

Children aren’t too keen in learning history unless it’s made in a way that’s a fun read for them. This is the intend with the Mystery Adventures of Jillian Waylan. Each book will touch upon a time in the past--a historical figure or period—where the characters always end up. These particular characters hate history so traveling back in time begins to aid them down the line. The twist in this series is that in each book a clue is offered for the young readers to try and figure out who is the culprit transporting them back in time.

As the name suggests, The Halloween Dino Trip, the first book introduces three distinct times: when dinosaurs roamed our planet, their extinction, and the ice age. At the end of each book there’s a small fact sheet and a hint as to what the next adventure will be.

What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing?

I’m a big supporter of self-publishing, but with a warning: make sure it’s the best you can offer to a reader. Many writers are eager to see their books in print and self-publish and when the reviews come in negatively they are mortified. Any book, whether traditional or self-published, should only have the best of what a writer can offer.

Traditional publishing has its editors that guide a writer and helps them perfect their work. Although the royalty might be less than going on your own, you have several things to consider as a self-published author:

Cover design

I don’t mention promoting only because this is a given no matter where you are published.

What is your marketing strategy?

Blast the title everywhere. GRIN. Online promotion is huge nowadays. So many readers find authors online so it’s smart to use the internet for your promotional efforts.

What are your thoughts about children's writers needing an agent or not needing one?

Having an agent means more time for you to write and not worry about having to research and find publishers suitable for your book. However, unless you are targeting a major publisher, there are so many children’s publishers out there now that a writer can submit on their own.

An agent facilitates the process by avoiding the backlog piled on a publisher’s desk.

But getting an agent also takes time and effort. Agents are very choosy and unless they have a publishing house suitable for your work, you will end up with tons of rejections. Be prepared.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

I am guilty of not having updated my website because of other commitments but they can find out more about me at: or at

Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children's literature?

One biggie: read and study popular children authors. See what pulls you into the book, how does the character flesh out his characters to make them memorable to a reader, what storylines are out there. By reading you begin to pick up on the best selling author’s methods which can only help you down the line.

Please give us a brief synopsis about your current book and when and where it will be available.

Sure. The title of book one in the Jillian Waylan Mystery Adventures is The Halloween Dino Trip, releasing October 1 by MuseItUp Publishing. I have to jump in here and mention that when I submitted this story to the acquisition editors I used a pseudonym so they wouldn’t know it’s me. Like everyone else I was biting my fingernails waiting for their response. \

Jillian is planning her first big Halloween party and hopes the weather holds out.

Well, the weather does...but after Jillian, in her witch's outfit playfully chants the following from a prop witch's spell book:

“Changes are due…
Not many but a few
To meet your history
And see it’s not misery
Ghosts will abound
Trekking all around
For you will now travel
In a land full of marvel”

everyone is in for the surprise of their life. Her backyard is gone. In its place greenery filled with tall trees, a variety of bushes, and...DINOSAURS?

The Mystery Adventures of Jillian Waylan will be a series of books for grades 4 - 6 where a witch's spell book ends up in Jillian's hands all the time, no matter how much she tries to get rid of that book. Exciting adventures to other times and interesting historical figures are in store for all of her friends. But the mystery is...who keeps placing that book in Jillian's hands? A clue is placed in each book for the readers to try and figure it out.

Order your copy today at

Lea, thank you so much for visiting my blog and sharing your expertise.  You have offered some wonderful insights into the world of children's writing.


  1. Great interview. I'm so excited for the release of my YA book, and I have Lea to thank for the opportunity. I still don't know how she finds time to write, and I've changed my mind about her being twins...I know for sure she's really triplets masquerading as one person. :)

  2. Ginger, thanks for stopping by. Lea is rather amazing, isn't she? I don't know how she does it all.

  3. Nice interview, Lea & Penny. I bought the Halloween Dino Trip for one of my grandchildren & I'm sure he'll love it!

  4. Thanks, Debra. I'm sure your grandchildren will enjoy this one. It's a fun read.

  5. Lea is so much more than all the many pieces of herself combined many times over. She gives all of us lucky enough to now be Muse Authors the foundation to create our own dreams upon, and then helps us find the many avenues to let the world know we are here, ready to entertain.

    I do cover blogs for each of our authors to honor the author's story, the cover artist's brilliance and Lea's overt generosity in making Muse Publishing a place that goes beyond being JUST a publishing company. Ginger calls my cover blogs, stationary trailers.

    I ahve done two cover blogs for our beloved Lea so far...the first is for the book she is here talking about with you, Penny, and is posted to my LINSOWNBOOKLOUGE which is where I do Muse covers for all YA's...the address is

    The second book of Lea's that I have also covered I did on my LINSOWNOYSTER blog where I honor books by authors published at other publishing houses. I was extremely honored to do this second one because it took Lea and her co-author Litsa Kamateros far too long to bring it to the world. Why am I most honored to have covered this title? Because the world is only NOW begoining to recognize autism with its many levels of CAP-abilities. Lea and Litsa wrote this book years ago and FINALLY it is now available for the many parents, families, teachers, medicos, and world in general to learn how to live with autism... The link to this book is AUTISM EPIDEMIC: SHAKING UP THE SYSTEM is:

    For everyone who loves and respects Lea as much as I do, please follow the links and learn more about our beloved champion. you too. Thank you so much for your generosity in showcasing all of us here on your blog.

  6. Lin, thank you so much for stopping by and sharing the links to your blogs. What a wonderful tribute to Lea.

  7. Lin and Ginger,
    I heartily second all that you have said about Lea.:) I am thrilled to be part of MuseItUp Publishing too after many years of knowing Lea in her other capacities. The Halloween Dino Mystery sounds like so much fun to read.
    Also as a former teacher, it's great to combine history and fiction for kids. It's so much better to read about the dinosaur age when you are trying to solve a mystery about it. Great idea, Lea.:)
    Can we all agree that Lea is just one of a kind???

    Penny, thank you for bringing us another great interview!

  8. Hi Penny, awesome interview. This book is on my TBR book list, which gets longer and longer each week. Guess what I'm asking for for Christmas? Books!

  9. Barbara, thanks for stopping by. I'm looking forward to having you as my guest when your own children's book nears publication.

    Lea's book is a combination of interesting facts about dinosaurs and a mystery.

  10. Susanne, I'm with you. I always put books on my Xmas wish list.

  11. Thank you everyone for stopping by and your kind words. Writing for the middle grade and younger children is a challenge but one so gratifying as a writer because we have the opportunity to make reading a 'fun' experience with subtle educational hints.

  12. Great interview. I enjoyed getting to see the author side of Lea. She's one wonderful lady. Thanks for sharing it!
    C.K. Volnek

  13. Lea, that is so very true. As a MG novelist myself, I agree.

  14. Charlie, glad you could stop by and enjoy learning more about Lea.

  15. Charlie, glad you could stop by and get to see another side of Lea.

  16. Interesting to see Lea as an author. She wears so many hats and wears them all well!
    Thanks for sharing this interview Penny.

  17. You're welcome Rosalie. The more I learn about Lea, the more I admire all she does.

  18. Hi Penny and Lea,
    I enjoyed the interview and I'm giving the title of The Halloween Dino Trip a big blast on my blog.

  19. Barbara, that's great you're also letting people know about this fun book.