Interview: Lea Schizas
Posted by Dianna Gunn
Lea Schizas has been in the writing world for over twelve years. She’s edited for several publishing houses, founded The Muse Online Writer’s Conference and the MuseItUp Publishing epublisher. She also founded Apollo’s Lyre. Best thing about her in my opinion? She’s Canadian too, and she agreed to let me interview her for Fictional Worlds.
Thanks for agreeing to do this interview.
~When and why did you decide to become a writer?
I really didn’t decide. I remember being in mom’s womb and writing with this cool implement on organs that were soft and mushy. Okay…not really…but I’ve always loved to write as far back as I can possibly remember. Entertaining readers with words, giving them an opportunity to laugh, cry, connect with my characters is a thrill that nothing – other than having my five children – compares to. I love to give readers a chance to escape their everyday life’s troubles and woes.
~How did you go from being just a writer to running the Muse Online Writers’ Conference?
I’m still a writer, regardless if I’m crazy enough to organize the conference and now publishing houses. These are all the same thing to me – giving writers an area to learn and expose their amazing writing voices.
~What can you tell us about the Muse Online Writers’ Conference in 2010?
Well, we’re proud to offer again this year pitch sessions with various houses and agents. We have another long list of weeklong forum workshops and chat workshops.
There’s a long list of workshops and presenters so the easiest thing would be to offer our 2010 workshop line up so far, and I say so far because this year I’m a bit behind in posting everyone so far:
Really Long Link
~Can you tell us a bit about the MuseItUp Publishing house you opened earlier this year?
Yes, I’d love to because I am so proud of the staff and authors we have so far.
First off, the publishing house didn’t just materialize. It’s been a goal of mine since I made my very first list of goals to achieve in my career. Over the years I’ve been blessed to have worked with fantastic editors and publishers who mentored and were there when a question was asked. Kim Richards (Eternal Press/Damnation Publishing) is one publisher who continues to help me with any question I may have along with Vivian Zabel (4RV Publishing).
The whole goal behind our house – and I’ll explain the ‘our’ shortly – is our motto: building the team to achieve the dream. We want to go back to the roots of the publishing world when authors, staff, and publisher were one unit, a family so to speak, who helped each other achieve their goals with a respect and honesty so many nowadays seem to have forgotten. We’re author-friendly, there every step of the way in the author and staff groups answering questions, and basically having fun.
The ‘our’: every decision or website implementation is passed through our writers and staff to get their input and thoughts because we feel that any decisions made by us (this includes my co-partner Litsa) affects everyone so it’s very important that the authors and staff have a say before a major decision is made. It’s not that we can’t make a decision but in order to make everyone feel welcomed, we need to have an open book policy and it’s been accepted and appreciated so far by all.
~What are three things you’re looking for in potential books for MuseItUp Publishing?
1 – Thoroughly fleshed out stories
2 – Memorable characters
3 – Out of the box twists to surprise us and tie in the whole storyline at the end.
~What do you think are the three most important steps for writers to take when improving their craft?
We hear ‘read, read, and then read some more’ and there’s truth to that. The more you read the more you begin to understand what goes into a genre to make it an interesting read. Study famous authors, their characters, what hooks you into the storyline, how they end each chapter or begin them, how they lure you to continue the read, etc.
Next would be to join a critique group to have several pair of eyes looking over your work. As a writer you know your story and might miss areas that still need further fleshing out, or plot holes that need to be plugged. Be objective and open to suggestions. That’s the only way your manuscript can be honed to the best it can be.
And the last step is to put that manuscript away for a short spell before you submit it. Sounds odd, I know, but at times the yearn to be published forces writers to submit work that they believe is fully developed but it’s really not. So by putting it away and coming back to it with a fresh pair of eyes you will notice things you missed the first time. So before you submit your work, put it away and then go back to it and really go through it with a fine tooth comb.
~What would you recommend writers do to get the most out of your Muse Online Writers’ Conference?
Simple enough, participate in the forums, and meet the publishers and presenters in the weeklong forums that have given their time to answer questions from writers and offer workshops. If you don’t participate you won’t get the full benefit.
~What projects are you currently working on that you’re excited for?
Besides my own work I have to say working on the Muse authors’ projects, editing, preparing the galleys, sending out for reviews, and getting their blog book tours set up has to be the most exciting thing I’m doing so far. Helping writers in any way possible to get their names out there is not only beneficial to the publishing house but to the writer as well. And by helping the
writers, it’s not only promoting the Muse books, but mainly to promote the authors as writers that is more important because in all honesty, readers follow authors more than they follow publishing houses, so our goals is to promote our authors and all of their books.
Thank you for the opportunity to talk about the Muse Conference and the publishing houses. I really appreciate it.
Registration for The Muse Online Writer’s Conference ends August first. Register here.