Archive for June 16th, 2007

lea_schizas.jpgWelcome to The Dark Phantom Review, Lea. It’s nice to have you here. Why don’t you start by telling our readers what an online conference is?
The Muse Online Writers Conference is an opportunity for writers to meet, mingle, and network with some of the professionals in the publishing industry. It’s an area where you don’t have to worry what you’re going to wear, travel and hotel expenses, or who will mind the children while you’re away. You wake up, open up your computer and the fun begins.

What prompted you to create and organize such an event?I had posed a question to writers, “Who has attended a writer’s conference?” and there were three answers that kept popping up:

1- Too expensive to attend
2- Too far to travel
3- Have some sort of a disability preventing me from attending one.

I thought how unfair this was to have so many writers miss an opportunity to meet some of these publishing professionals. So, along with my co-sponsor Carolyn Howard-Johnson (the promo Queen), decided to set up our own online conference to attract every writer from around the world and offer them a networking opportunity.

Seeing how I am a writer, as well, I know that my pockets only contain lint so we opted for the best route for our conference: FREE registration, FREE workshops, FREE handouts, and a FREE ebook to everyone at the end compiling some or all of the workshops offered within the conference week. This ebook is FREE to those who register and attend but also will be available for purchase by everyone else, just the way we did last year, for only $9.99. The money earned by this ebook goes back into the conference to maintain the website and help with some of the costs. We also have a donation button in our Conference Workshop Chat area: http://www.museonlineconference.tripod.com

How many years has The Muse Online Writer’s Conference been taking place?

This year will be our second year. Last year we had close to 1300 attending from around the world: Canada, United States, Mexico, London, Ireland, New Zealand, Greenland, Italy, Africa, Greece, Taiwan, Australia, China, and many other places I can’t remember right now.

Let’s say I want to participate, what do I need to do? Is it free? What can I expect to get out of it?

To participate as an attendee, all you need to do is go to our Conference main site:
http://www.freewebs.com/themuseonlinewritersconference. There you will see our Registration page but also the Presenters webpages to get an idea who will be attending this year and what their workshops will be all about. This list is not complete…I have many more to put up there but so little time.

As I wrote above, this conference will ALWAYS be FREE. The whole point behind it is to offer every writer, regardless of their monetary status, an opportunity to attend and say they’ve been to a writer’s conference. You can get a glimpse of our conference Testimonials from last year here:

You asked what a writer will gain from it? We’ve already established the mingling and networking aspect but they will get to attend workshops that can cost a hundred dollars and more in a real ‘face to face’ conference. You will get a whole week to pose questions to our Presenters in our private forum, get a chance to meet them in an hour-long real time workshop. Last year we had several attendees lucky enough to receive contracts by some of the publishers who attended as Presenters.

There are two areas in the conference:

REAL TIME CHAT WORKSHOPS and our VIRTUAL CONFERENCE HALL, which will be hosted in a private writer’s forum.

The only writers who can attend and receive an invite to this forum are those that register before August 1st, 2007.

Along with the workshops, most Presenters will offer their workshop handouts to keep, read and prepare your questions for them. Most of these handouts are fully fleshed out as lesson plans.

So as you can see in this case it’s not ‘you get what you pay for’ but quite the opposite. Our presenters give and give and offer their time in order to help out fellow writers.

How many people are you expecting to attend this year?

I took a look at last year’s figures around this time and I had about 330 already registered and as we approached the deadline, more and more hopped on. As of today, we have over 500 registered, which gives me the impression we’re looking at close to 2000 if not more.

I understand you’re also an author and book reviewer. Tell us a little about your book, The Muse on Writing. Have you written other books?
The Muse On Writing was a collaborated nonfiction book with other writers. I coordinate anthology projects each year and this was the very first one, published by Double Dragon Publishing. This book is a must-have reference book for all writers and to get an idea what you’ll find, just hop on over here:

The next project was Aleatory’s Junction, again with several other writers, also with the same publisher. This is a fantasy filled with stories based around the fictional town Aleatory. Characters in each story end up taking the wrong turn at Aleatory’s Junction, taking them down a path that will forever change their lives. http://www.aleatorysjunction.tripod.com

My first published book was the young adult fantasy/adventure The Rock of Realm, published by Star Publish. It’s about a young teenager who discovers she’s the princess…to another realm. Mysteriously, she ends up with her friend and pets in Dread’s Forest, just outside Rock Kingdom, and end up in one adventure after another trying to elude capture by Dread himself. Throughout the book there is one repeated saying, “All is not what it appears to be.” And there’s a BIG reason for this. But you’ll have to read to find out what the reason is.

My newest release, Doorman’s Creek, a paranormal suspense/thriller was published this year by eTreasures. By the way, all of the books above come in print and ebooks. Doorman’s Creek follows three teenaged boys who discover a cave, a skeleton…and an unknown entity that pushes them into the path of a serial killer. After the discovery, Kyle Anderson begins to have visions of past and present murders and needs to find out who is responsible before another family member gets killed.

Would you like to share with our readers any of your current or future projects?

I’m in the process writing several books right now:

Gifted: Cursed? (tentative title): what would you do if you had the power to grant wishes to those in dire need only to have something taken from your own family? Would you grant them their wish? This is exactly the dilemma my young heroine faces when she is given this gift after her mother falls into a coma saving the life of her daughter’s best friend. Now, against her father’s orders, she needs to travel to Greece and find the one person who can shed some light on what will happen if she dares to grant her own wish to help her mother out of this coma.

Copy: A once obnoxiously obese high schooler turned into a glamorous and famous award-winning writer gets an invitation to attend her 20th high school reunion. A nagging dream about a friend who committed suicide during high school begins to eat away at her. Her intuition tells her this wasn’t a suicide. All fingers point to one person…the boy she had a huge crush on. Many twists and turns with some interesting characters.

Zylorp: The Brothers Three: a sci-fi/fantasy about one alien warrior and hero to his people who discovers the war he’s been fighting for his people had a secret agenda. One wrong retaliation on his part and he now faces the death penalty. The only person who can save him is the girl he’s in love with, a Mylantian empath. But will he allow her?

Amongst other books I also have the second novel to The Rock of Realm, continuing the adventures of my character and friends.

You also have a review site. Would you tell our readers a bit about it?

The Muse Book Reviews caters to all writers, regardless of where or how they’ve been published. There are several reviewers who cater to different genres. All of our reviews are honest and no sugar-coating attached to them.

We’ve streamlined the guidelines a bit: any writer wishing a review can contact the appropriate reviewer themselves now instead of me being the middle man.

Also, we conduct chats and interviews with some of these authors in order to help promote them further.


What types of books do you consider?

Almost all types of books other than pornographic novels. We accept children’s, romance, sci-fi/fantasy, literary fiction, mystery, nonfiction, dark fiction/horror.

What would I need to do in order to have you review my book?

As I wrote above, if you link here: http://themusebookreviews.tripod.com/ you’ll read our guidelines and what we need, plus you’ll see which reviewer is available for what genre. If you contact one reviewer and they are filled to capacity with books to read, then you are welcome to contact another one under that category.

We try to have a review within a two-month limit but seeing how we’ve been swamped lately, more like three months to be on the safe side.

Online reviewers and bloggers have received a lot of attention lately. Reviewers from print publications have accused them of not being critical enough, of not being “legitimate” reviewers. What’s your stance on this? Do you think there’s a lot of facile praise on online review sites and blogs?

You have two separate issues here that I’ll address honestly and in my own opinion:

1-reviewers from print publications accusing online reviewers of not being critical to me brings the same sense of discrimination when I hear “You’re not a ‘real’ writer because you self-published.” I won’t say anything more on this. We are legitimate reviewers since we take the same care to read objectively a novel and offer our own opinion, the way they do, in areas we find in the book that are good but also in need of some work. Anyone who requests a review knows they are taking a chance with the review not going their way.
2- As for facile praise on online reviews: yes, I do believe, unfortunately, and I may be bombarded with emails on this, but many ‘friends’ read other writers books and in order to give them the confidence and boost to promote their books, they are not really objective but more ‘caring not to hurt someone’s feelings’.

Once you commit to being a reviewer, you need to knock out friendship and take this position seriously and comment truthfully or else you will not be looked at seriously.

A proper review is not meant to bash a writer but to offer the good and bad points found in the novel in a diplomatic way. It’s easy to write “Was this writer awake when he wrote this?” but how helpful is this to a reader but, more importantly, to the writer? A review, to me, is to offer the reader the ‘what you’re going to find in the book’ info, and to the writer, ‘in your next book you should watch out for ???’. Reviews are almost like an editor’s note- you need to read in-between the line.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers may find more about you and your work?

Yes. My personal website containing all of my sites/newsletter links is:

In my site you’ll also find my Editing Services webpage.

My two blogs are:
The Writing Jungle – http://thewritingjungle.blogspot.com where I host interviews, blog tours, offer publication links and more.

Branches of Life – http://branchesoflife.blogspot.com is a very interesting blog owned by several writers and publishers. Each month we hit a different topic of interest to readers and welcome comments from everyone. We’ve talked about raising teenagers, dealing with an older parent, working at home and time management, and this month is “What I love about Fantasy.”

I want to take this opportunity and thank you for conducting this interview. I had a blast.

Thank you, Lea!
The Dark Phantom

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