Thursday, March 4, 2010

Introducing Author & Editor Lea Schizas

I’m pleased to welcome award winning author and editor, Lea Schizas, to my blog today. To many, Lea doesn’t need an introduction, as she is the co-founder of The Muse Online Writers Conference, founder of the MuseItup Club and Apollo’s Lyre. As if that didn’t keep her busy enough, Lea edits for publishing houses and clients, while fitting in her own writing. This year she’s ecstatic to have three new books to be released. Her rule of thumb? Write while the eyesight is still available!

Katie: Lea, today we’re talking about your book, “Bubba and Giganto.” Can you give us a brief synopsis?

Lea: Sure. Bubba hates his name. Worse, he hates when his dad uproots the whole family to move to a new city. This means starting all over again at a new school and trying to hide his name, avoiding the ridicule he knows will surely come.

Day one, as he's getting off the bus, he bumps into the largest kid he's come across in a long time. Preparing himself for a fight, he's pleasantly surprised to see the student apologize. From then on, his friendship with David - AKA Giganto as he's nicknamed him - moves along until he realizes the bullies in the school have it in for this big sweetheart.

One thing leads to another and Bubba somehow has dragged not only another new friend from the school into an afternoon scrimmage of soccer with the bullies, but Giganto as well. Little does he realize that Giganto is holding a secret, one that puts his life in danger.

Katie: Tell us what inspired you to write this print book aimed at ages 10 and up.

Lea: Katie, all you hear from family and friends nowadays is how they have witnessed a form of bullying or their child has been bullying. My own kids each experienced a different form of bullying:

Shunned by friends because they didn’t dress like them

Pushed by students after school because the bullies knew my kids wouldn’t fight back

Called names

Had property stolen

And these things happened in elementary school. Growing up, we had our share of bullies, yes, but I think we see more of it today. So I wanted to offer a book to the young adults to show them the consequences of bullying, how the victim can hold a secret that may put his life in jeopardy, how another friend can help the victim and guide him by standing beside him and defending him. However, I don’t show fights but offer an alternate way – a soccer scrimmage. It was very important to me to show the bullying message but without preaching to the reader, involving them in the characters lives.

Katie: Did you have to personally deal with bullies while you were growing up? Do you know of someone who did?

Lea: Well I explained above how my kids were bullied. I was bullied by one neighbor while growing up. He was the tough kid on the block and a few times pulled my hair and punched me in the stomach. I never said anything to my parents, which was a mistake and one I have preached to my kids to always feel free to talk to me so I can help them out or guide them.

Katie: What kind of research did you do for “Bubba and Giganto?”

Lea: I talked with several family members and friends who I knew their kids were bullied at school. Wrote down how they were bullied, who the kids talked to, if friends backed them up or stood in the background too afraid to step in. General research to get a feel of what kids felt.

Katie: What special challenges, if any, did you face while writing this book about bullies?

Lea: The hardest in some way for me was to offer the soccer scrimmage. Although I have been a soccer mom, my target audience were boys mainly so I really wanted to up the pace and give the scrimmage some action. Also, I wanted my main character, Bubba, to have a tough guy attitude, but also a gentle side to him. Balancing those two personalities was a bit of a challenge for me.

Katie: You have written a teacher’s guide for “Bubba and Giganto.” How has that helped your marketing of this book?

Lea: To be honest, the teacher’s guide hasn’t really been enforced yet. I am now finalizing several workshop sheets to put in my media kit to present to schools this spring.

Katie: Speaking of marketing, what specific things have you done that have worked? Have not worked?

Lea: My specialty is the online marketing. Right now I am working with a co-author who does all the face-to-face marketing around Montreal and she’s trying to set up a combined book tour for both of our books this spring.

Katie: You have your fingers in many pots. However did you find time to write this book?

Lea: Ah, Katie, when you have a deep passion for what you do, you will always find time. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. It’s how you use those hours that makes the difference.

Katie: What advice would you give someone who is wanting to write a themed book for this age group?

Lea: The best advice I can give is not to preach to a reader. They want a fun read, characters they can relate to, an event they may have either witnessed or experienced themselves – this will have them glued to your book. Then again, the writing has to be top notch, writing in the language kids can relate to and avoid using adult words that a youngster would never use or understand.

Step into your character’s shoes at all times, no matter which target audience you are writing for.

Katie: Thanks for being a guest on my blog today. “Bubba and Giganto” can be ordered from the publisher


Anonymous said...

Great interview Katie.

I'm going to be sure and read this book. Sounds like a book that should be on a shelf in every school library.

Lea Schizas - Author/Editor said...

Thank you, Susanne. I'm trying to get it into the school systems here in Montreal but it's not as easy as I thought. :(

Any help from readers to mention that book and have teachers or librarians read and pick it up would be appreciated. :)

Vivian Zabel said...

I still enjoy re-reading Bubba & Giganto, and of course if like the cover. *laugh*

Donna McDine said...

I've read Bubba & Giganto and enjoyed it. My oldest daughter (now 14) was bullied in the 2nd grade, by a girl who only pushed her and stole her lunch money when no adults were around. Sneaky kid. Nicole eventually overcame the bullying by standing up to her verbally and to this day the girl doesn't go near her to this day. But unfortunately, the girl has other targets.

Lea...question. When you step into your characters shoes, have they gone in a direction you never thought they would? If yes, do you let them or try and stear them back?

Warm regards,

Chelle Cordero said...

Terrific interview Katie.

Lea, your book sounds terrific and certainly worthwhile. I applaud you for tackling such a tough subject and the audience you did.


Unknown said...

The day I met Lea was a blessing. Besides all the other things she finds time to do, she's very instrumental in educating people about Autism, and I have a grandson who suffers from the developmental delaying disorder so my appreciation for her runs much deeper than her talent for writing, editing, etc. What amazes me is the time and effort she puts into the Muse Online conference and doesn't charge us a penny to come and learn. She's my role model, and I hope people regard me with same respect and appreciation that Lea garners. can send my check now, Lea. *lol* Just kidding...this all comes from the heart.

Katie Hines said...

I always look forward to reading interviews of Lea. They're always fascinating and illuminating. Lea is an organizational genius. So much so, that I've often told her she should run for Prime Minister of Canada. I'm not Canadian, but I'd illegally cross the border and find a way to vote for her at least twice, if she decided to throw her hat in the ring. So, until she runs, we have to be satisfied with witnessing the other other side of her genius in her roles as: writer, storyteller, editor, publisher, literary agent, conference organizer, creator of great terrific internet sites, and motivator. I probably left out a dozen other titles that she's mastered.

Mike Kechula

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I read a lot of interviews and it's so hard to come up with something fresh. But honestly, Katie and Lea, this is so inspiring. Thank you for what you do, Katie. And thank you, Lea for making a difference.

Lea Schizas - Author/Editor said...

Ginger, I'm to pay you or you to pay me? :) hehehehe

Donna, I let my characters grab my writing pen and direct me where they want to go. I never pull them back. They know where they're headed and it just takes me a bit longer to figure it out but eventually we all meet at the same crossroad.

Unknown said...

I've read Lea's book and LOVED IT! It can help kids see all sides of the bullying problem.

Lea, keep trying to get it into the schools. Kids need to read your book.

Margaret Fieland said...

Lea, I've never written a teacher's guide and view the prospect with some trepidation. How did you go about figuring out what to put in it?


Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz said...

It's nice to see Bubba and Giganto is still making the rounds - it is such a great read. What a fabulous idea to make workshop sheets for teachers.

jessi said...

Lea, this sounds like a wonderful book! When my oldest son was in Kindergarten, a bully bashed his head into a metal pole. That was the first time my son ever saw me mad, and the last time he ever told me when someone bullied him.
He's in 5th grade now, and still can't figure out why anyone would want to be a bully. I tell him all the time that if everyone thought and acted like him, we'd all live in a better world.

Anonymous said...

TAHNKS FOR YOUR SHARING~~~VERY NICE ........................................

Bill said...

I enjoyed reading this blog, your dialog format is a easy format to follow. The subject matter touches home also, as I had my share of bullies growing up.