Friday, September 17, 2010

Thirteen Questions for Lea Schizas

Today I have the pleasure of introducing Lea Schizas.  Lea is an award winning author, an edtior, a publisher, and she has just debuted her new middle grade series, The Mystery Adventures of Jillian Waylan

She is the founder of the award-winning ezine Apollo's Lyre, co-founder of the FREE and award-winning Muse Online Writers Conference held each year during October, founder of the award-winning MuseItUp Community, and publisher of MuseItUp and MuseItHot Publishing.

Ksm: Greetings Lea and thanks for joining me here for my author series, Thirteen Questions.  My readers are excited to learn more about you and your work.  Congratulations on your contract with MuseItUp Publishing.  You know I have to ask this, when and why did you start writing?

Lea:  Many have already heard that I began writing from within my mom’s womb when I mistook the umbilical cord for a neat writing implement.  Long cord, plenty of organs to write on...hehe.

I began writing as a young tot because I was an avid reader and always said, “I can do this.”  Watching the faces of my childhood friends as I read them a few of my ghost stories was always neat and exciting and that passion has never left me.

I write to entertain.

Ksm:  Please tell us a little about your book.

Lea:  The Mystery Adventures of Jillian Waylan came to me when my youngest kept complaining how she loves history and hates when her friends complain that it’s boring.  So I asked her do you think they’d be more interested in history if it was in a fictional book, with fun characters traveling and meeting these historical figures and times?  Her head nodded and shook as though it was going to fall off.  I took that as a yes.

One of her favorite series was The Magic School Bus so I fashioned the idea close to that but with my own personal touches.

Each book will take Jillian and a few of her friends back in time to meet historical figures or in a period their history teacher has a lesson on. The twist to this series is that each book will contain a clue. A clue to what you ask?

In book one, "The Halloween Dino Trip", Jillian is preparing for her first Halloween Bash. She discovers an old and tattered witch’s spell book in her big, black Halloween tent her dad put up for the party. She figures one of her parents bought the prop since she’s dressing up as a witch…until…

She chants playfully one of the passages in the book to her friends that night…

And suddenly…

Her party is invaded with dinosaurs.

Basically, in each book, Jillian tries to get rid of the witch’s spell book and that book keeps ending up in front of her, so who is placing that book there?

Ksm:  How fun, I love a mystery.  What inspired you to write this book and why did you choose to write this genre?

Lea:  It’s actually a tween chapter book for middle grade, but fun for all ages—a family book to read and enjoy. Short and sweet. As to why I wrote it my answer above explains it.

Ksm: Did you do any research for this book?

Lea:  Yes, I searched through several dinosaur fact books to get the times, plants, and periods correct because in "The Halloween Dino Trip" the children will go through three distinct periods.

Ksm:  They say that books choose their authors. How has writing this particular book affected you?

Lea:  It furthered my passion to write more fun and educational books for this age group. When I finished this first book I read it to several children in that target audience. They were my beta testers. Asked them several questions on the characters, the topic, ease of understanding, and more to get feedback. Just the look on their faces while I read inspired and fortified that more books needed to be written.

Ksm: What do you want readers to take from your writing? What do you want them to understand and why?

Lea:  I’m not sure I want them to understand anything in particular other than the hope they fall in love with my simplistic writer’s voice and come back for more because they enjoyed the read.

Ksm:  I can vouch for this, it's very entertaining, I loved it.  Longhand or typing? Do you carry a notebook with you all the time?

Lea:  I do both…always. If I begin a story on the computer then I open my notebook to jot down the last paragraph where I left off and continue the story longhand just to get off the computer for a spell. If it’s the reverse, then I type what I wrote longhand into the ‘puter. So the stories are always moving forward in one way or the other.

Ksm:  Do you consider yourself a full-time writer or do you have a day job? Where do you see yourself in five years?

Lea:  I used to own a hair salon but closed shop about five years ago to pursue a fulltime writing career. And where do I see myself in five years? Honestly? I don’t see ‘myself’ but I see a unit called MuseItUp Publishing in five years with a reputable and solid name, one both writers and readers know they can contact or purchase books through our bookstore and know the customer service is there for them always. And I say ‘unit’ not because I don’t visualize my career, but I have a habit of including others in my dream and they are as much a part of my success, so rightfully deserve to be included.

Ksm:  Lea, you are one of the few people I know who open their blogs for other authors.  You really are a team person.  Are you working on any new projects? Can you give us a short preview?

Lea:  Right now I haven’t had a chance to work on new or old projects because around this time of the year I am swamped with my Muse Online Writers Conference, but yes, I have several projects I need to finish in this lifetime, one of them being book two in the Jillian Waylan series where the kids go to Greece, to the Temple of Zeus.

Ksm:  That sounds like a lot of fun.  What is the hardest thing for you as a writer?

Lea:  It’s not time because I’m a fulltime at-home writer.

It’s not ideas because I have enough of them for several lifetimes.

It’s the interruptions while my Muse is on a roll that bother me. If I could I would opt for an island, isolated just me and my computer to finish my books.

Ksm:  Do you have any pearls of wisdom to pass on to aspiring writers?

Lea:  Yes, don’t frown at rejections. Take them and allow them to strengthen your will that you can do it. Rejections are part of a writer’s life and the sooner writers realize this the sooner they will discard that negativity streaming through them, threatening their Muse and all their writing passion. Rejections are like bad reviews but at times these reviews explain why they felt the book wasn’t up to par. Be objective and really ‘see’ what they are telling you, then go back to your story and improve.

Also, never send out a first draft. Editing typos doesn’t make it a thorough and fleshed out draft. Go over the entire story looking for several things through each draft:

Characters different from one another and not mirror images?

Characters believable?

Dialogue moves story forward or repetitive and mundane?

Five senses used to bring the story alive for the reader? Can they see, smell, touch, hear, taste the surroundings?

These are just some things to help further flesh out a manuscript.

Ksm:  That is excellent advice, thank you for sharing it.  Can you tell us what your favorite pastime is? (other than writing!)

Lea:  Shoot…editing…reading…going to the movies…used to crochet dolls and sell them at fairs or give them away…communicating with writers.

Ksm: If you could do anything you’d like, go anywhere in the world without time or money constraints, what would you do and why?

Lea:  Oh, if money would not be an issue and I had tons of it I would definitely buy myself an island like I mentioned but make it into a writers retreat where blue skies, blue calm waters, trees, and peace and quiet are your friends.

Ksm:  Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us here on Boston daydreaming. How can fans find, follow and friend you?

Lea:  The easiest way to follow me is to visit my conference website because that’s where I am going to add my personal info from now on. There’s no page for me there yet but the conference site is:

I also have a website that needs updating:

Also, you can follow my series here:

Twitter: @museitupeditor or @MusePublishing




Thank you, Karen, for hosting me today. I had a blast.

Ksm:  You can buy "The Halloween Dino Trip" here and read an excerpt.  Here is the blurb, also on the buy page.

Blurb for "The Halloween Dino Trip":

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?


  1. Wow, Lea, your series sounds like an awesome way of making history fun! I wonder where Jillian will end up next.

  2. I was wondering what happened to this series. I know we talked about it when Musing Our Children started, but then I didn't hear about it for a while.

    Congrats on the new series, MuseItUp and all the wonderful things that are sure to come your way. You're a great person to have in one's corner.

    Wishing you the best,


  3. What a terrific idea for a series, Lea! And thank you for the interesting post, Karen.

  4. What a FABULOUS series Lea. I wish I was young again, or had a kid the right age. I am constantly amazed by your productivity. You have the same hours as I do but somehow you do so much more with them. I need you as a mentor!

  5. Sounds like a wonderful series. Loved the post and getting to know you a little better.
    Keep up the fantastic work.

  6. I want to mention that Lea is adding a pdf to the buy page for a free download this weekend. It's a parent/teacher resource to go along with The Halloween Dino Trip. A very nice one at that - great ideas.

  7. Great interview, thank you Karen and Lea for your time. Lea your advice for writers is well recieved.

  8. Great interview and the adventures of Jillian sound captivating. Why couldn't history have been so much fun when I was still at school.
    It wasn't until much later I learnt to love it.

    Great advice on writing too.
    Thanks Lea Thanks Karen

  9. Lea, love the idea of the series. I admit I never really warmed up to history when I was in school. Too bad your book wasn't available when I was in grade school. There really have been times -- like when visiting Versailles -- when I wished I had a more complete picture of the manners, music, historic events, and general culture associated with a given period.

  10. Can't wait to read it Lea! Sounds like a great adventure story. What will be their next big adventure? Most excellent.

  11. Great book idea - awesome way for kids to enjoy history. Wish these were around when I was a kid. It's always nice to hear about your life, Lea. How you accomplish so much all the time, inspires and motivates me to drive forward at a fast pace. Congratulations on all of your successes - I'm excited to be sharing in a small part of it. Kay Dee

  12. I agree with everyone that if History was made fun and interesting as a child for me perhaps I may have remembered important dates, or people. :)

    Thank you ladies for dropping by. Book Two will have the children going back to a mythological palace...the temple of Zeus, where they'll discover being a God is not, as the kids would say, 'all that and more.'