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Interview with Denise Cassino by Lea Schizas

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I had the privilege to be published by Long Story Short a while back without realizing that Denise Cassino had been published by Apollo's Lyre. Now why is this funny? It isn't but it's a great way to introduce a fine lady and her writing sites to you.
 
The truth be told, I am Editor in Chief of Apollo's Lyre and Denise is one of the founders of Long Story Short along with Linda Barnett-Johnson and Sue Scott .  And what a great way to begin our very first interview division here at The Muse Book Reviews than with an author who had the foresight to not only offer a great zine to her readers, but now has opened up her very own online writing school, LSS School of Writing.
 
With no further delays, I give you the first official Star Interview with Denise Cassino.

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

 Lea -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 day?

My husband 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?

DENISE:  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 Short?

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 site?

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?

DENISE:  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?

DENISE:  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?

DENISE:  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!

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The Long Story School of Writing has an array of talented writers, each offering their area of expertise. Check out LSS School of Writing for their curriculum. I'll be offering two courses:
 
WRITING CHILDREN'S FICTION AND WRITING FICTION EXPRESS.
 
Until our next interview, take care and be well.
 
Lea
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