LEA: Welcome to the Muse Star Interview,
Denise, and thank you for sharing your life with our readers.
DENISE: First, let me say
thanks for this opportunity. I have actually had a story published on Apollo’s Lyre. As for my background,
I grew up in the suburban Chicago area in a town called Lansing, IL. I attended and earned
a B.A. in English at Northern Illinois
University. I’ve always loved reading since I was a child –
in fact, there is a photo of me at Christmas laying upside down in a chair with my head hanging toward the floor reading an
upside-down Nancy Drew book! I only began writing about ten or twelve years ago when I decided to write the great American
novel, which was perfectly terrible, though I didn’t know it at the time. While my degree is in English, I did very
little creative writing. So the novel was put aside and in May of 2001, I signed up for 2 online writing classes which changed
my life. I was on fire with the desire to write. I wrote at the drop of a hat. From that class I joined
several writing forums, but the only one that stuck was Linda Barnett-Johnson’s
forum, My Writing Friend. There, I have really learned a tremendous amount and have improved my writing skills, although
I don’t consider myself a great writer yet.
I do have some published work to my credit in numerous print and internet publications. My stories
have been published in four print anthologies, two in Taj Mahal Review, one each in Passions and The Color Gallery; other
short stories, articles and poetry have appeared in print and online in Tapesty, National Association of Women Writers, AboutTeens.org;
Reminisce Extra Magazine; Garden and Hearth Magazine, Apollo’s Lyre, Cottage Magazine, Hackwriters, Hostelworld.com
and Ten Thousand Monkeys. I’ve been married for 27 years, and practice commercial real estate in my real life.
I live in a fabulous spot in the mountains west of Denver.
-Denise, when did you first get the idea for Long Story Short?
And what were your goals for the site?
Denise: Susan Scott, one of the members of the writing forum, suggested I get a personal website
for my writing. I set about designing one, http://www.DeniseCassino.com. Then Susan suggested we develop our own ezine to publish the
work of our forum members and other writers. Linda came up with the name, I designed the site and Long Story Short was born.
Lea: Being a writer, I know time management is a heavy duty load to
handle with family and outside commitments. How do you handle time management? Can you give us a brief timetable of Denise's
and I own our real estate company, so we are free to work from our home whenever we desire, which is often. We have
no children. I try to dedicate as much time as possible to real estate during the day, but in the evening and in-between busy
times in business, I work on my writing and the ezine. I often work until midnight or so to complete various projects.
LEA-Being owner of an award-winning site, there are updates to do constantly,
new introductions to the site. Do you find your own writing has lagged or quite the opposite? And in what ways?
Absolutely it has lagged! I have finished my first novel and am on the second draft, but my short story writing,
article writing, etc. has definitely suffered. However, I really love working on the ezine and helping other writers
– we editors often find a submission that merits editorial guidance, and we all spend a good bit of time helping the
writers fine tune their pieces for publication. We publish about 30 pieces per month plus interviews and poetry. We try to
treat our writers with a lot of TLC. We send congratulatory letters of acceptance along with press release forms for
their use. We also send thank you notes after publication. You’d be surprised at how friendly we are with
our writers. Writing is such a challenge that when a story is accepted, it calls for a celebration.
LEA: Writers need a constant source of writing articles and outside
motivation. Do you find your immediate circle of friends understanding to the time you devote to writing and to Long Story
DENISE: Well, I live in a very secluded place and at age 56, I am no longer
the social butterfly I once was. My family – sister, nieces and nephews, in-laws - all understand, and I don’t
let it detract from my time with them.
LEA:The call for instructors for your new venture, The Long Story
Short School of Writing was inspirational to me. Was this a spur of the moment idea or was this part of your goal with your
DENISE: It actually
was an amazing phenomenon! I suggested to the other editors (Linda and Sue) that we ought to think about offering classes,
since our membership has grown so much, and we have become fairly well-known in the Internet writing community. I put
out a questionnaire to our members to determine the level of interest. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with writers interested
in teaching various classes for us. Within two weeks, we had 32 classes and 21 instructors signed up. It took
on a life of its own. I built a website, and now we are in the process of marketing the classes, slowly signing up students.
We all believe deeply in the school and are blessed with wonderful instructors whose enthusiasm is amazing. Classes
begin October 5 and registration is open at http://www.LssWritingSchool.com/curriculum.html.
LEA: Can you give us a quick run down of what writers may expect from
the school? And what are some of the courses you are offering?
Classes will be online, interactive with work posted on a password-protected board where students and/or teachers will comment
constructively on one another’s work.
Classes run from
a weekend seminar to ten weeks. We have one class that runs once a month for one year,. The classes cover every aspect of
writing (see http://www.LssWritingSchool.com/curriculum.html.) We have courses on book promotion, non-fiction writing, fiction,
characters, description, humor, writing prompts, journaling, writing from life experience, blending history and fiction, novel
writing – just a plethora of great information for aspiring writers.
LEA: What are Denise's future writing goals?
My personal goal has always been to become a successful novelist. However, I now have the additional goals of nurturing Long
Story Short and of making the school into one of the best available to writers. There is nothing more satisfying than
receiving a thank you note from a fellow writer whose life has been changed by our publishing of a story or article.
LEA: As for Long Story Short, do you have any aspirations to make
this a print mag?
We have considered it, but until we reach a level of prosperity with our ventures, the start up costs are prohibitive. We’re
getting there, slowly but surely.
LEA: Do you have any words of wisdom to pass on to new writers?
DENISE: I wish I were so wise! I guess the main thing I would suggest, other than write!
Write! Write! Is to study the writing of favorite authors, edit, edit and then edit again. I try to look at every
phrase, every noun, every verb to find a better one, a clearer and more concise way of saying the same thing. And get
rid of those superfluous words!