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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
Tuesday, 24 June 2008
N. D. Hansen Hill Author of ErRatic
Topic: YA author interview

Title: ErRatic
Author N.D. Hansen-Hill
ISBN 9781594146435
Publisher Five Star
Places to purchase
(or request it at your local library)
Cost US $25.95 (hard cover edition)
Pages 335
Contact information.

Are you a Stephen King, John Saul or Dean Koontz fan? I am. I’ve been hunting for a new author. They don’t write fast enough, and I’m a horror novel snob. I’ve not been able to find one until now.
I have to admit when I offered to interview the author of ErRatic and asked for a book she had written, I fully expected to be unimpressed.
I was pleasantly surprised. Her rich descriptions make you feel like you are in the middle of those terrifying scenes. The head hopping between one character’s mind to the next is natural. The reader is always able to easily determine in which person’s head they are inside. (point of view).
I encourage anyone that wants their spine to tingle or stand on end to pick up a copy today. If you want to write horror, you could learn much by reading and analyzing ErRatic.

Q: What do you find difficult/challenging about switching point of view? Your book flows from one characters POV to another's and is seamless. Can you share your secret?
A: I understand POV is one of my faults, LOL, and I have to credit the editors of ErRatic for helping me in that respect! I learned a great deal about keeping in one person's perspective from them. I also learned a bit about "grounding" my characters. It's not enough to have them speak - they must be somewhere. Sounds silly, but as a reader I know I appreciate being able to picture a character in a physical location, whether a room, or a forest setting - whatever is called for.

Q: Do you have a timeline you follow many words per day, per week, per month, time spent writing goals and plan of action?
I try to write a 1000 words per day, and if I'm working on multiple projects, as is usually the case, I'll try to do 1000 words on each. That said, I have another job, plus there are always edits from publishers and other demands on my time. Usually, I'll carry out with 1000 to 3000 words/day when I'm trying to finish something up, then when I get under the 20,000 words remaining mark, I'll abandon everything else and rush to finish. At the moment, I have 4 projects in edit, so I'm working on rewriting and getting them out to publishers instead.

Q: Do you write and edit as you write? Do you let a book rest before the final edit?
Usually, at the start of each writing session, I'll reread what I wrote the day before and edit what I can. This usually smooths things enough that come final edit time I have fewer mistakes to correct. I almost always let a book rest before the final edit. If, for any reason, I can't, I'll play that old editor's trick of completely changing the font type and size, so it looks "different". That's good for catching mistakes you failed to see the first time through.

Q: Can you describe your "writer's area" ie desk, books, etc...
Messy. Disordered. Useless to almost anyone but me! My Inbox is a stack of papers, and my place is rather small, so I'm content if I have room to sit, and move my feet. The only time I get frustrated is when I rearrange the furniture and don't leave myself a place to push back my chair. I never realized how many times a day I slouch back to consider a scene until I tried to do it and couldn't! That lasted about 2 days before I rearranged things. I have boxes of my books here and there, and keep promising myself I'll do something about them, but...

Q: How do you make a scene scary? What's the key?
A: I'm there. When I'm writing a scene I'm actually there. I am the hero/heroine, fending off the demons. I reproduce the things that would/do frighten me onto the monitor - try to describe what I'm visualizing. I think I must have a vivid imagination. There are times I even scare myself !

Q: What is your main obstacle in writing and editing?
A: I hate editing. I think most writers do. When you're writing, you feel as though you're being creative, but when you're editing, you're tearing down, attempting to fix what you found difficult to "fix" the first time around, and there's no more putting off till tomorrow the mistakes you made yesterday!

Q: How did you/do you market your books?
I belong to a number of Yahoo groups, blogs, and visit forum sites. Unfortunately, I don't do these things nearly as often as I should! I don't like to be a "hit and run" group visitor (it makes me feel guilty), but it's difficult to find time for much more.

Q: Can you walk us through your journey to publication?
This depends on the book. SF books have a much more limited number of places to submit than romance novels. I'll do the edits, check and double-check the formatting requirements for the particular publisher, then submit online. I prefer online submissions because I live in New Zealand, which is so far from most publishers, and shipping of manuscripts costs. If the editors comment, or offer me feedback, I look at it seriously, particularly if I hear the same criticism from several sources (it may mean something of a rewrite is called for). That hasn't happened for a while, though, and I generally sub to several publishers at once, but advise them if they ask for the entire manuscript that it is also being considered elsewhere. If a manuscript is rejected because it doesn't fit into one publisher's program, I'll turn around and sub it elsewhere the same day. There's no point in dwelling on rejection. Publishing is a business, and they may not be publishing/promoting your kind of book, or they may have filled their lists, etc.

Q:-How many publishers did you submit to?
A: Over the years? Hundreds. I have 6 publishers at this point, with 30+ books/novellas contracted.

Q:-How long did it take from acceptance to publication?
That depends on the book. Some can publish within several months, but some take over a year. ErRatic was the longest, followed by some of my Cerridwen Press novels. ErRatic took around 15, 16 months, I believe, from acceptance to release. Most independent publishers don't leave sufficient time to garner reviews from the larger magazines, because at the time of release, the book is released as an ebook, rather than print. ErRatic was for the library markets, and was released in hard cover.

Q: Is there anything you would like to share with us about writing in this genre?
A: Think scary, and be scared! Put yourself in the situation, and do your research. Research is absolutely vital - it's not good enough to claim "I know about ghosts because my house is haunted". That may help render effects, but you need to know your stuff, from parapsychology to the many different ways a haunting can present itself, so the situations your characters face can become increasingly more dire. Readers like a buildup to the finale.

Posted by j.adaykennedy at 7:13 PM CDT
Saturday, 16 February 2008
The Rock of Realm by Lea Schizas: Interview II
Topic: YA author interview

Title: The Rock of Realm

Author: Lea Schizas

ISBN: 1-932993-08-8 (Trade Paperback)

Young Adult Novel The Rock of Realm can be purchased through Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Lea Schizas is promoting her young adult novel The Rock of Realm in a blog tour this February. I had the opportunity to ask her questions about her book and her creative process. By reading Lea’s interview, I hope you will become intrigued with this author’s journey to publication. The book is an excellent example of fantasy fiction. A writer can learn a lot about character development (discussed on this blog the 15th of this month) and plotting.

The book can also be enjoyed for it’s entertainment value . Give the readers what they love; the good guys and the bad with a twist at the end. Everybody loves a surprise. Want to know what it is? Pick up a copy today and learn from a master story teller.


Q: What planted the seed for the idea of The Rock of Realm?
A: I’m not sure if there was any ‘one’ particular seed as much as having read and bought so many books for my five children as they grew up that the need to offer my readers a different slant to the villain became almost an obsession with me. I polled middle graders along with the over fourteen age group, asking them what they considered a villain to be. From their answers, which were basically all the same (someone who is bad, who can’t become good, who likes to do mean things), I began to outline Dread, the villain in The Rock of Realm. I wanted to give him a back story, a reason for being who he was, and bring the reader to a point where they need to ask themselves if Dread really is a villain or simply a complex character surrounded by circumstances. This, in itself, is a lesson to tell them that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

Q: How did you start?
A:I started with the title. Most of my stories are conjured in my head once I have a title.

Q: How did you begin with your characters?
A: The first person I created was my villain because I felt he needed the most fleshing out. Next came my heroine. I knew I couldn’t just place her as the princess to Rock Kingdom but needed to place her in an obstacle course of discovery in order to bring out various emotions in her: anger, disappointment, fear, bravery.

Q: How did you come up with the plot?
A: The plot created itself as soon as both villain and heroine came to life. I knew I needed to draw a bit of the Wizard of Oz magic into my plot but without the lion, scarecrow, and tinman. Instead, I created a blend of animals and magical beings to bring Rock Kingdom to the surface.

Q: Did you write it on paper first?
A: All of my writing is done on paper first then transferred to the computer. This helps me continue the story without having to sit by the laptop all the time.

Q: Do you freewrite?
A: I do freewrite in the sense that I never look back from where I’ve left off in the book as I’m writing it. The most I’ll look back is the last paragraph and then I take off from there. I used to go back and edit while I wrote a novel but found this slowed my process and never really moved my characters anywhere. So now I simply write the book and once ‘THE END’ is penned only then do I begin the editing stage.

Q: How did you come up with the climax?
A: Without revealing too much, there needed to be a point in the story where Alexandra Stone, my character, had to face a decision about Dread, the villain. I needed it to be dramatic, to pull at the reader’s heart so I came up with a fight scene that finally reveals Dread’s real purpose and reason for being. That scene is one of my favorite parts in the book.

Q: Did you work with a critique group and if so, at what stage?
A: I did work with a critique group but only half way through the book. At that point I had a publisher who was interested in it so I decided to continue on my own otherwise the critique group would have put me behind about a year. Their help with the first part of the book helped me see the areas I needed to spruce up.

Q: Did you submit it as you wrote it or did you tweak it as the crits came in or did u hold them and do it at once?
A: I sliced, diced, and dissected before, during, and after crits came in. I worked on The Rock of Realm diligently for over a year.

Q: Did you write it in its entirety first?
A: I wrote the whole thing first before I subbed to the critique group.

Q: When did you begin the editing and do you continue to edit this way?
A: As I explained above, the editing stage comes after I finish a novel. I cannot go back to edit because it slows down the story for me the way I’ve conjured it in my head. I need to get it out of my thoughts, down on paper, then go back and tweak. I’ve always worked like that and always will. So when I have critiques, I’ll glance at them then store them in a file when I’m ready to begin editing.

Q: Where were you when the muse hit?
A: My usual hideout- on my computer. My family joke that I care more about my laptop than I do them. Hmm…

A million more questions are dancing through my head. I'll save them for the next time I am given the opportunity to interview her. This is the first in her planned series on Rock Kingdom. Be on the look out for those that follow. I'm sure they will entertain and teach all of us how to create our own fantasy worlds. Be sure and leave a comment or question for Lea and get a chance to win an ebook of The Rock of the Realm.

Posted by j.adaykennedy at 5:44 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, 26 October 2008 5:59 PM CDT
Thursday, 14 February 2008
The Rock of Realm by Lea Schizas: Interview
Topic: YA author interview

Title: The Rock of Realm

Author: Lea Schizas

ISBN: 1-932993-08-8 (Trade Paperback)

Young Adult Novel

The Rock of Realm can be purchased through Amazon or Barnes & Noble online.

Lea Schizas, author of the award-winning Young Adult fantasy/adventure The Rock of Realm will be stopping by on February 15, 2008 and February 17, 2008. She'll be available to answer questions on the making of The Rock of Realm or even to answer any writing questions you may have. Two lucky winners (one for each visit to my site on her blog tour) will receive her ebook as a door prize for leaving a comment or question.


Q: Your character’s voices are very strong. What would you suggest to others as the key to writing memorable characters?

A: Characters are like humans- they need to have their own likes and dislikes, their tics, their emotional upheavals. When I develop a character I read the dialogue. If I find I need to write ‘said so and so’ in order for the reader to know who is talking, then I go back into that character and flesh them out more. That’s not to say I don’t put tags, but the taglines are there to add more of a scene description or the character’s body language at the time to emphasize the happening and his/her reaction.

Q: Let’s talk about the characters in your novel. How would you describe three of them in 7 words or less?

A: Oh, I can describe them in less than that:

Butch: the brave and courageous protector
Pops: sarcastic, spoiled, pessimistic, yet sensitive
Jinx: starves for affection, a hidden hero

Q: Which 2 characters were the most challenging to create and why?

A: Dread was the hardest to develop because I needed to show various sides to this enigmatic man. His complex situation gave me the opportunity to begin Book Two of The Rock of Realm, where I now will explore Rock Kingdom’s background, more into why Dread had become the man everyone feared, and who or what is the cause behind this man’s mask.

Sarah Breckinridge was another hard one to develop. She is a secondary character yet also plays an important part in the book. She is the friend we all have, the one who looks up to us, who draws her strength from our own, the friend who tries to put a brave front. I needed to give something to Sarah that would pit her against Alex at some point, that would finally show why Sarah reacts to a certain situation the way she does. What that situation would be was my dilemma at the time.

Q: Can you tell your readers about a favorite scene or one you enjoyed writing without giving away too much and why?

A: My favorite scene in the book is that fight scene I mentioned earlier. In that particular scene, Alex displays humor, fear, bravery, and a mixture of total confusion when the ‘true’ villain reveals his identity. Two other unexpected characters join her as allies in this fight against these skeletal creatures, the Braks, which I find pulls on a reader’s heart, or at least it did to me, and deepens the whole book’s message I’ve subliminally placed: nothing is as it appears to be. This fight scene gave that message its clarity to the book and that is why I love that scene.

Q: Did you intentionally refrain from describing her physical characteristics and, why?

A: I’m glad to see you noticed this. Yes, I avoided giving Alex any real descriptive details because I wanted readers to visualize her in a different light. Not for her physical descriptions but for her characteristics and traits I gave her personality. I wanted them to place themselves as Alex, to step into her shoes as the hero and see themselves traveling through these adventures. There were mention of her hair color and birth mark, otherwise, the rest I allowed the reader to conjure.

Q: She acts as Sarah’s rock? Why?

A: Alex is Sarah’s strength as true friends go. She follows and compliments Alex, wants to please her friend and support her. This characteristic gives Sarah the realistic bond true friends have.

Q: Why was her character’s timidity important to the forming of Alex?

A: In order to show Alex’s strength I needed to give Alex a reason to hide her fears. For this reason Sarah’s weaker presence and fears had to be stronger than Alex’s to explain the reason for Alex’s adamant stand to get her friends back home safe and sound. If they both displayed their fears openly then neither would be distinct.

Q: What purpose does he serve?
A: Larok’s character is an introduction to Dread’s dilemma. More of Larok will be revealed as the series continues but for this first book he is like the storyteller behind the villain. His character is as enigmatic and full of purpose as Dread. They have a history together that goes back into their childhood. Consider them as two opposites, each believing they know the other yet never truly understanding each other’s motives. They are at a constant battle with each other like two spoiled kids who won’t back down because they each believe they are right.

Q: I love that the pet has a pet. Where did that idea come from?

A: Well, I figured I had Alex traipsing through Rock Kingdom with her best friend, and although Pops is Butch’s best friend, I thought I’d put a twist to this relationship and have Pops as Butch’s pet instead. This gave Butch more of the human characteristic I was looking for.

Q: Jinx – Cracks me up. Is his personality modeled after someone that’s quick witted and sharp tongued?

A: I’d be lying if I said no. Jinx is modeled after all five of my kids. I took a bit out of each of their personality and whipped up one solid and very entertaining hamster. His quick-witted humor comes from my son; the sarcasm comes from…well, any of my four girls.

I needed to have Jinx as close to Pops personality to have them clash and gnaw at each other yet also give Jinx his own trait to separate him from the squirrel. Glad you enjoyed him.


Q: Did you create a map or have you for the sequels?

A: Yes, I’ve created a huge map of Rock Kingdom all the way through to book four. Each book centers on a different area within Rock Kingdom to give you the scope of its landscape, climate, people, and animals. For the first book, I offered a view of Dread’s Forest, The Qulany River, and a bit of the tunnel of mazes, the wall, tumbling rocks, and glimpses of the gardens around Rock Kingdom. In the other books, some of these areas will go into greater detail, exploring their depths, how they came to be, and their purpose for existence.

Q: Where did you get the ideas for the landscape?

A: The landscape came to me as I looked out from my sister’s small villa in Greece. You step outside into her gardens and all you see is greenery, mountains, blue skies…a peaceful tranquility. At that moment I knew this was the vision to create for Rock Kingdom.

Q: Why and where do the Braks come from? What inspired them?

A: Besides their physical traits- skeletal creatures with oozing slime that binds their prey- the Braks have a parallel comparison to the Indians and ‘white man’. The Braks occupied that part of Dread’s Forest before the humans discovered it. I gave them almost a cave-man entity- primitive yet resilient and forceful to take what they want. When the council built Rock Kingdom, the use of their magic tempered the Braks to become who they are now. I won’t go more into their existence not to spoil their story in the series.

Order your copy of The Rock of the Realm written byLea Schizas,. It's a Young Adult fantasy/adventure that can be enjoyed as entertainment 0r serve as an educational tool on a writer's journey to becoming a fantasy fiction author. Come by on February 17, 2008 and learn more about the CREATIVE PROCESS that birthed The Rock of Realm.

She'll be available to answer questions on the making of The Rock of Realm or to answer any writing questions you may have. If you are not the lucky winner of her ebook today, you can try again on February 17, 2008. Just leave a comment or question for her.

Posted by j.adaykennedy at 11:01 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, 26 October 2008 6:02 PM CDT

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