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J. Aday Kennedy Writing for Crumb Crunchers
Sunday, 2 November 2008
Pt I Lila Guzman "Lorenzo and the Pirate" & her Publication Experience
Topic: YA author interview

Lila Guzman, PhD

Lorenzo and the Pirate


TITLE: Lorenzo and the Pirate

AUTHOR: Lila Guzman and Rich Guzman

ISBN-10: 1933831154

ISBN-13: 978-1933831152

PRICE: $13.95






Lorenzo and the Pirate grows in intensity as you turn the pages and read. I’m a historian (a.k.a. a sucker for a good historical novel). I’m pretty critical of this genre. The author’s rich descriptions interlaced with action engulfs the reader’s senses and imagination. The historical factoids flow into the plot (it seems) effortlessly.

All in all an enjoyable read. I can’t wait to read the sequel.



Website Address:




Lila Guzman was born in Kentucky longer ago than she cares to admit.  She went to Western Kentucky University and majored in Spanish and French.  For three years, she taught foreign language exploratories in the 7th-8th grade and then decided to work on a Ph.D.  That took her back to Lexington (where she was born) and the University of Kentucky.  She finished a Ph.D. in Spanish in 1980 and joined the Navy.  After Officer Candidate School, the Navy sent her to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California.  There, she taught native-language instructors how to teach their own language.

At D.L.I., she met an army lieutenant named Rick Guzman who was studying French.  As it turned out, he became her husband, co-author, and the person she blames for getting her into the writing business.  He found the subject for Lorenzo’s Secret Mission.

Rick is now an attorney in private practice.  They have been married for twenty-seven years and have three grown children.

Lila writes children’s fiction and non-fiction in addition to young adult novels.  From time to time, she publishes an adult-level short story, but her first love is writing for children.

First chapters from selected works are at:  Her email address is

 She often gives workshops on various aspects of writing, including the Hero’s Journey.  In addition, she frequently makes author visits.




J. Aday: Many of your books are nonfiction, how did you establish your qualifications to be considered an authority on these subjects.

Lila:  I hold a Ph.D. in Spanish.  My co-author is a native Spanish speaker.  The publisher was looking for someone who could write the books in English and translate them into Spanish after the editor had been through the English version.

Previous publishing credentials (including historical novels) showed editors that we knew how to do research and how to present it on a level that children and young adults appreciate and understand.

Enslow was looking for biographies that told a story, not a dry recitation of events in a person’s life.

Enslow wanted three things before issuing a contract:  The first chapter of a five-chapter book, a bibliography including adult sources only, and a timeline.


J. Aday: How did you decide the subject matter for your educational books?

Lila:  Enslow assigned the six-book series, Famous Latinos, and had already selected the subjects.  When Person #6 bailed, Enslow asked us for replacement suggestions.  We came up with George Lopez and Enslow liked the idea.

I am currently working on a biography of Dr. Hector P. Garcia, a subject suggested by a friend.  Dr. Garcia was a civil rights leader who met six U.S. Presidents.

I also have permission from Governor Bill Richardson to write his biography for children.  All I did was write a letter giving my credentials and asking his permission.  (This was before the Enslow deal came through.)



J. Aday: Have you had your short stories published in magazines? If so, where?

Lila:  My adult-level shorts stories have appeared in a number of places.  Most recently, “Taking a Chance on Chance” appeared in an anthology called The Ultimate Dog Lover (HCI, 2008). 


My short stories have been published in:  PIF Magazine, Millennium Science Fiction and Fantasy, San Diego Writers Monthly, Xoddity, Austin Writer, Roswell Literary Magazine, Canadian Writers Journal, Touched by Adoption (adoption anthology), the Round Rock Leader, a speed reading course, and other venues.


J. Aday: Describe the publication process from acceptance to publication.

Lila:  Each acceptance comes with a different set of circumstances, but the general pattern is:

1.        acceptance (notification by email, snail mail, telephone, or in person.)

2.        waiting for the contract to arrive (usually snail mail).  This is often the hardest part of the process because seeing is believing.

3.        reviewing the contract.  Mark questionable or unclear items.  Ask an attorney or reputable sources about confusing parts of the contract.  (One publisher of non-fiction had a clause that stated they would have first right of refusal on our next book.  Our next book was part of a series already with another publisher, so we asked that they delete that part of the contract.  It was.)

4.        signing the contract and returning it

5.        waiting for the contract to return with signatures of publishing company officers

6.        receiving the manuscript with edits.  The editor will probably want changes to your manuscript.  Usually, it takes a week to make them all.  (This depends on the manuscript.  My fiction manuscripts are usually cleaner than the non-fiction.)

7.        making a hard copy of the corrected manuscript.  If the editor calls with a question, a print out will be easier to access.

8.        mailing the manuscript back and waiting for a confirmation that it arrived.  This will usually come as an email from the editor.  I use “delivery confirmation” from the United States Post Office so I can track its progress on the Internet.

9.        receiving the galley/page proofs.  The editor usually asks that these be read, corrected and returned within the week.  At this point, I drop everything and work on getting this back to the editor.

10.    mailing the galley/page proofs back.  Here, I repeat the steps of the earlier mailing.

11.    receiving cover art by email and approving it.  The author does not always have final approval on the cover.  The title often changes without the author’s knowledge or approval as well.

12.    waiting to receive author copies.  This is often the hardest part.  It may take up to three years from the signing of the contract to release.


Please note:  Many editors are now accepting revised manuscripts and proofs by email, so going to the post office is often an unnecessary step.


J. Aday: What’s your favorite genre to write for? Why?

Lila:  Historicals.  Non-fiction has its charms because I learn as I write, but historical novels challenge my creativity and give me more freedom to write.  I can pursue any number of plotlines and can do all sorts of horrible things to the characters.  With non-fiction, I have to stick to the facts.

Kichi in Jungle Jeopardy is told from a chihuahua’s point of view.  The publisher bills it a “historical fantasy.”  It is set among the Mayans, but sticks to the facts (except for the talking dog part).

Lorenzo and the Turncoat tells the story of the 1779 New Orleans hurricane and the Battle of Baton Rouge.  Lorenzo, however, never existed.

Posted by j.adaykennedy at 7:47 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, 2 November 2008 8:04 PM CDT

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