Friday, September 24, 2010

Thirteen Questions for David J. Normoyle

Today I have the pleasure of introducing David J. Normoyle to Thirteen Questions at Boston daydreaming… David is an author at MuseItUp Publishing. His debut YA novel, Crimson Dream, is under contract releasing in February 2011. David is a thirty-five-year-old Irishman residing in Dublin. He’s an electronic engineer but he says he’s taking a break from that right now and kicking up his heels in Columbia where he’s writing, but not as often as he should!

Welcome to Boston daydreaming… David. It’s great to have you here today. Thanks for joining us and answering these questions. My readers are thrilled to learn more about you and your work. Congratulations on your contract with MuseItUp Publishing.

ksm: You know I have to ask this, when and why did you start writing?

David: I started emailing travel updates to friends and family while traveling in Latin America. They expanded from a few paragraphs to full blown stories where I'd spend hours in an internet cafe writing them up and then I'd email them to myself, and come back the next day to edit them before sending them back home. Or I'd email them to myself again for one more edit the next day. (Back then editing three times seemed ridiculous, little did I know...) You can read one of those travel stories on my website.

That was about six years ago and I started work on my first novel when I returned. That novel became Crimson Dream. (The six years involved quite a few stops and starts.)

ksm: What an interesting beginning. Please tell me a little about Crimson Dream.

David: It's a young adult fantasy, set in a world where one nation became dominant. The hero's people think they have escaped this nation by fleeing to a remote valley. Then the hero foresees his sister's death at the hands of soldiers from this dominant nation, and the story begins...

ksm: What inspired you to write this book and why did you choose to write this in the YA genre?

David: I adore fantasy novels. I've read the first four books of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time over five times. And some of my favourite characters start young and then change and grow such as Raymond Feist's Pug in Magician. So I wanted to write a fantasy with a young main character.

The idea I came up with was a teenager who dreams that his sister will be killed by soldiers of an evil empire. How would he cope? Would he be able to stop them?

When I finished writing the book, I realised it was more suitable to the YA genre than mainstream. I tend to avoid descriptions and try to get to the heart of the action quickly. That along with the length of the book and the young main characters made YA it's natural home.

Given my style, I'll deliberately aim on writing YA for the next few books at least.

ksm: Did you do any research for the book and what was it?

David: Most of the research I did on this book involved learning how to write. I spent a great deal of time studying the art and craft of writing over the last five years. There wasn't a huge amount of specific research for this book. My next one, on the other hand, has boatloads of research. Luckily, we have the internet these days.

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

David: If it has affected me, I'm not sure how. (I probably need to work on my self-awareness.) Art tells more about the artist than the subject, and I definitely think there is plenty of me in the depths of the book, but I don't care to delve too deeply.

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

David: I want readers to be entertained. I write to tell a story, not to send a message. Of course there are themes and elements that, say, modern teenagers can relate to despite the fantasy element. However I just let them come out naturally and don't realize they are there unless I look for them. If I've done my job well, certain parts will resonate with different readers.

ksm: That’s so true, David. Do you prefer longhand or typing? Do you carry a notebook with you all the time?

David: I don't carry a notebook with me. Unfortunately, I don't get writing inspiration from Heaven as often as most writers seem to do. I have to sit down in front of my computer and force the ideas out. Any random writing thoughts I get, I let percolate. If I forget them before I get a chance to write them down, they possibly weren't worth the ink.

I find that when I'm writing longhand, I write in ideas and snippets and thoughts. When I'm typing I write in sentences and scenes. So outlines are done on paper and the first draft is done on screen. It works out to be a pretty good system.

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

David: I'm taking a career break from electronic engineering and I'm traveling and writing at the moment. But I don't spend enough time writing to consider myself a full-time writer.

I've no plan and like to follow any opportunities or adventures that crop up. So I'd like to be somewhere in five years that I could never imagine now.

ksm: Are you working on any new projects? Can you give us a short preview?

David: I'm working on a book about a teenager who lives through both Norse and Greek myths in my head and uses the lessons he learns to help himself through his real life problems. I think I have an exciting concept but have a long way to go yet. Hopefully the final version will live up to the potential.

ksm: That sounds very interesting. What is the hardest thing for you as a writer?

David: Getting first drafts out. I love editing and refining, but put that blank page in front of me, and I'll think of any excuse not to start writing.

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

David: I think the best advice I've heard is just get your butt in the chair and start writing. Once you do that, everything else is possible. It's still bloody hard from that point, but once you get words on a page you have something to work with. After that, I don't think there's many general pearls of wisdom. Like most things in life, it takes hard work to achieve anything and there's no shortcut. I have some more advice and some writing links on my website if you want to check that out.

ksm: Can you tell us what your favorite pastime is? (other than writing!)

David: Like most writers, one of my favourite pastimes is reading. I guess I could say traveling is another major one if that counts as a hobby.

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?

David: This is a strange question for me because it's not hypothetical. I don't have many commitments and am good at saving money and taking career breaks. So I've lived a year in Australia and nine months on a backpacking trip in Latin America. I've spent a number of months in Asia and Africa. These days I prefer to go to a country and stay in the same place and get to know the area and the people well, rather than traveling around as much. So, to answer your question, I'd choose to go Colombia because it's got good weather, has a nice lifestyle and the people are really friendly. (It's not nearly as dangerous as it's reputation, it's quite safe.) And here I am.

ksm: Living in so many places will give you a lot of details for your future books, I think. Thank you for joining us, David! How can fans find, follow and friend you?

David: Check me out on my website And follow me on my Facebook page:  

Crimson Dream

Haunted by a dream of his beloved sister's death, an asthmatic seer leads his people against a long forgotten enemy.


Centuries ago, Deren's people fled to a hidden valley deep in the mountains chased by the Domain whose powerful Seers could not find them.

Deren’s safe world disintegrates when his vision foretells his sister’s death by a Domain soldier. Deren can't defend Bennie because of his asthmatic attacks, so he trains her in archery and prepares his people for war against their ancient foe.

As the invasion advances, Bennie's mastery of the bow leads her along unexpected paths. Although she hates killing, she must make hard choices. Her loved ones will die if she doesn't help them.

Will Bennie’s encounter with an enemy prince prove the key to survival? Can Deren overcome his physical weaknesses and the doubts of his own father to lead his people?

With fate and overwhelming force stacked against them, it seems their best efforts will be in vain.


Deren tried to get up to help Oso and Bennie and fell onto his back. He began to gasp, his breath labouring through his lungs, fighting for every mouthful. He took deep sucking drags of air, clutching his neck with his hands. His own lungs were drowning him, refusing to breathe. He looked into the sky, thinking he would die. Although it was only twilight, a ghostly moon peeked over the trees.

Whistling noises crept up and down his throat. He prayed to the Goddess of the Moon. Yenara, help me. Please, don't let me die. Bennie needs me. Please.

A face swam across his vision. "Deren, are you okay?" the face asked. "Deren, try to calm yourself."

The voice was laden with worry. A hand touched the side of his face. Warm drops landed on his forehead. "Don't give up on me," the voice said in a fierce whisper.

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?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Muse Reader's Group

It’s time, to announce what Muse has in store for surprise at a time.

Beginning October 1st, and on the first of each month, one lucky reader will win a FREE e-book.

The rules you ask?

Join our discussions, ask our authors questions, have fun with us, that’s it. Participate and you have a chance to be one of our monthly winners.

To join our readers group go here:Give your friends the link above and ask them to join us too. Come October things are going to begin hopping and a'boppin' all over the place.

Please join the reader's group here:

But that’s not all:

Join us in our readers group for our December 1st Launch Party and you will have a chance to be one of our two lucky winners:

First prize: a year’s worth of ebooks (12 in total)

Second prize: six month’s worth of ebooks (6 in total)

Hold on, we’ve got more...

Between October 1st and 31st we’re hosting a Masquerade Blog Festival. Each day one of our authors will entertain you with a variety of posts, from short stories, recipes, historical facts of the Halloween season, to decorating tips. In-between these posts there will be random YouTube videos posted and the first reader who jumps in the loop and calls out the title of the song posted will have his or her choice of any one of our released or soon to be released e-books. If soon-to-be-released you will receive the e-book once it debuts.

So tell your friends to join us because we’ve got tons of goodies in store for you each month.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Watch out for the Subaru

A few years ago I told a friend that I felt like my author’s wife, always nagging him about his writing habits. If I didn’t’ tell him to pick up his dirty socks off his manuscript’s floor, who would? I’m sure I drove him crazy as his editor.  His manuscript was wonderful to begin with and together we tidied his literary living room so he could have company over.

The definition of editing from the Online Dictionary is to collect, prepare and arrange for publication. I’m sure many of you have heard of the Red Pen. This refers to the red marks of an editor’s red pencil in a manuscript that tells the author what works and what doesn’t.

Why is it traumatic somtimes?

I liken editing to surgery. The editor, ahem, surgeon, cuts open the body, manuscript, and takes out what isn’t necessary or what causes problems. The trouble is, we love our words so much, after agonizing over each one, it’s hard to let go of our darlings. Besides that, the word, “offentrumount”, carried just the right nuance we were aiming for, right?

And there’s one other thing…

An editor has the task of looking at our work and finding out what makes it tick, by intuition many times, and what will make it tick louder, by technique, and sometimes by intuition, as well. It’s taken years for my husband to let me edit his posts. The reason is not because he wants to keep his perfect words, although he does that sometimes. He doesn’t like that he has a blind spot. No one likes this. All of a sudden some little Subaru comes out of nowhere and you swore you checked the rearview and the side mirrors. Guess what? You did. And you did nothing wrong. We all have those blind spots because of the seat we’re in. If we were in the back seat we’d see something totally different.

An editor is kind of like the back seat driver. The person in the driver’s seat cannot see the little car sneaking up on the side but the passenger can quite easily. Does that mean the passenger should drive? Perish the thought, especially if the driver is my husband and the back seat driver is me. He likes to be in control, we all do. But I can give a pretty good view of what’s going on from my position and help keep him out of a jam.

An editor is one who rearranges your masterpiece so it communicates well to the targeted audience. An editor helps you give a more complete picture of what you’re presenting. Is this unnerving? At times, yes, because none of us like to be out of the driver’s seat. We want to be in control and the fact that we all have blind spots, no matter how logical and normal that is, emotionally upsets us and says we’re mortal. Why we think we aren’t mortal is another matter!

I just got back first edits for Primordial Sun, the Heart of the Amazon from my editor, and she found my blind spots. I’m so grateful and a little freaked out that I had some uncovered bases. I meant what I said but I didn’t communicate it like I thought I had. This is why authors have editors. My editor is in the back seat warning me about the killer Subaru coming up on the left side out of my rear view. I am mortal after all.

The last back seat driver I had while driving the family van prevented me from getting in an accident, thank God I listened to them. Your editor will do the same for you in publishing. The Red Pen is your friend and as much as your editor may seem like a nag, they are pointing out the blind spots so you don’t end up as toast in reviews. You might end up as toast in reviews anyway, and if you do, keep in mind that a good controversy can drive sales. But let’s not go there because of plot holes or spelling errors!  We want all toasting to be the celebratory kind when your spouse, family, editors and publisher raise their champagne glasses to congratulate you on your great literary success.

If you have anything you want me to post about editing, please leave a comment or shoot me an email. karenmcgrathauthor(at)gmail(dot)com

photo credits: