Author and Illustrator, JD Holiday's Blog
~ BOOKS for Kids: Janoose The Goose, its sequel- Janoose And The Fall Feather Fair, The Spy Game & The Great Snowball Escapade, a chapter book for 6 to 9 years old. For Adult: Stories & Imaginings For The Reading Spot.
Deb Hockenberry entertaining Children one word at a time. Where Can We Have The Party? is Deb Hockenberry’s debut children’s book. She has always wanted to write stories for children, and has taken
multiple courses from The Institute of Children’s Literature and is a member of The CBI Workshop to keep with the ever-changing world of children’s writing. She has also been published in several online magazines. Deb is a Pittsburgh transplant now residing in Altoona.
Hi Deb, Thank you so much for doing this interview with me. You and I have been in many groups together over the years and I'm so happy we have this opportunity to talk.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?My background is, what I think, very ordinary. I come from a large family and have always had pets. You name the type of animal and I think we’ve had it whether it barked, meowed squeaked, squawked, or swam!
I’ve always loved to read. In fact, that was one of my summer activities: to go to the local branch of the Carnegie Library. I think I read every book in the children’s section.
If you’re asking about my writing information, I’ve taken multiple courses from the Institute of Children’s Literature. In fact, I’d love
to take another course from them. Since the world of KidLit is always changing, I joined the CBI Clubhouse. They teach everything in this online course from writing magazine articles, picture books, middle grade and young
adult books, picture book apps, to marketing. These are just some of what you’ll find in there.
When did you realize you wanted to be a storyteller?I’ve wanted to write for kids since I was a kid myself. This is going to sound silly, but in the library I mentioned above, I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted to read. Oh
sure, there were many talking animal books and many birthday books, but none with the two combined.
Where do you get your stories ideas from?My ideas come from everywhere and anywhere. I often use my own childhood experiences.
Why did you want to write for children?I really don’t know how to answer this except I’ve always been drawn to children’s writing. I knew that I’d be a children’s writer at a young age.
When writing a children’s book or story, how much does your own childhood influence it?My own childhood experiences influence my fiction stories quite a bit. Even ‘Where Can We Have The Party?’ has a little bit of my own experience in it. I didn’t realize that until it was written.
What is your book about?‘Where Can We Have The Party?’ is a simple little story for children ages 3-8. It’s about a giraffe who wants to have a party for his friend but can’t think of a place where to have it. He asks
a few other friends for ideas and they do have some, but for one reason or another they won’t work. Will they find a place to have the party? I don’t want to give the whole story away, so you’ll have to read
it to find out!
Does the book convey a theme or message?I didn’t mean for it to, but after I wrote the story I found that there’s a subtle problem-solving problem running through the background. I hope it’s subtle enough that
‘Where Can We Have The Party?’ doesn’t lose it entertainment value!
What were some of the pitfalls of writing a book?Every writer knows that you should keep your words age appropriate, watch your grammar, punctuation, and flow. In ‘Where Can We Have The Party?’ there was a bit more to it. I got the idea for the story when I was a kid. The original story was quite different. It had evil monkeys and orangutans kidnapping King
Lion from his birthday party. They even had guns, knives, and ropes! I guess I watched too many cowboy and Indian shows back then. Well, society and the way we think has changed. So did books. I don’t think books are
so violent as they used to be. ‘Where Can We Have The Party?’ has morphed several times through the years until it got to be the happy little story it is today.
What is the hardest thing about writing?That’s easy … marketing. Writing the book is the easy part.
What advice would you give to your younger self?Don’t let anyone influence you in any way not to follow your dream. This happened to me once and it’s my biggest regret.
What will parents like most about your new book?I think parents will like the entertainment in the book. I think my book couldn’t have come at a better time. With everything that’s going on in schools and the world, kids
need some plain old entertainment.
What genres and authors do you read?I love to read so many genres. I love to read adult books as much as I love to read children’s books. I also love to read fiction as much as non-fiction. My absolute favorite to
read, though, is young adult fiction. My favorite books are the Harry Potter series and anybody who knows me well, knows that! Naturally, my favorite author is J.K. Rowling. I’ve learned so much from reading the first
two books of the HP series.
What is your next project?Since Christmas is my favorite holiday, my next project will be a Christmas themed story for ages 3-8. Will it be set in the jungle like “Where Can We Have The Party?” Stay tuned!
Where can people find your book and you on line?There are a few places where you can find me. Here’s a list:
K.C. Sprayberry has been Living a dream since she first discovered the magic of books. She traveled the U.S. and Europe before finally settling in the mountains
of Northwest Georgia. She’s married to her soul mate for nearly a quarter of a century and they enjoy spoiling their grandchildren along with many other activities. A multi-genre author and prolific writer, K.C. Sprayberry
is always on the hunt for new stories. Inspiration strikes at the weirdest times and drives her to grab notebook and pen to jot down her ideas. Those close to her swear nothing or no one is safe if she’s smiling gently
in a corner and watching those in the same room interact. Her observations have often given her ideas for her next story, set not only in the South but wherever the characters demand they settle.
Some of her short stories have appeared in anthologies, others in magazines. Her sense of adventure now takes it turn on the pages of her computer screen as her translate a lifetime
of discovery into stories for those who love her work.
Her books and stories include, Who Am I?, Darkness Within, Softly Say Goodbye, The Wrong One, Lost & Scared, Family Curse ... Times Two, Evil Eyes and Right Wrong
Nothing In Between just naming a few.
Hi K.C., So glad you could do this interview.
When did you decide to write your stories down?
I’ve always written down my stories, starting as a teen. There were so many in my head that I had to give them a voice. Fortunately, those early stories have vanished and the ones
I work on now are far better.
Did anyone in particular inspire you to go to the next step and publish your works?
Yes, one person set me on the path to become an author… Mr. Frank Jansson, my creative writing teacher at Monrovia High School. He took me aside one day and told me I had a fabulous
talent and that I should consider writing books. That encouragement stayed with me, until I finally decided it was time to go forward, after my husband said it was time to write all the stories I had percolating.
To my delight, I recently learned that my old high school is considering renaming their library after Mr. Jansson. Along with many others who are his former students, I’m pushing
hard for this honor to be given in this man’s memory!
Absolutely. Every book I’ve ever written has a bit of me in them.
Does your work usually convey a theme or message?
Most do as I write for middle school and teens. Some are for pure enjoyment and fun, though.
What was your ambitions for your writing career to start with and have you reached it?
In the beginning, I thought being part of the Big 5 was the only choice for my writing career. Over the years, I learned that there are many, many authors out there who have done well without
these publishers. I did know from the beginning I wanted the comfort of being associated with a publisher and found a wonderful indie company in 2011 in Solstice Publishing.
What genres have you written in?
Young Adult, Psychological Thriller, Paranormal, Historical, Western, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Military Romance, Romance, and Mystery.
What author or authors influenced you?
There are many authors that have influenced me. All of the fantastic authors who are part of the Star Wars universe, Robert Heinlein, Robert Jordan, and Steven King are just a few.
Can you share something about yourself you want your readers to know?
I love my puppy, Socks, cooking, discovering new places, and photography. Of course, reading and writing are at the top of my list!
Who do you read?
Robert Heinlein, Robert Jordan, Steven King, Lisa Gardner, and Tom Clancy are my current preferred authors. I’m always on the lookout for great indie authors to discover!
Blaze is a psychological thriller that introduces a new kind of Superhero, a group of Elementals. They all have “day” jobs but their primary mission is to keep humanity safe
through the use of certain elements. At this point, Blaze is in the early stages but I’m hoping the kick will happen soon and I can bring this story to the plotted conclusion. Anyone who knows me will tell you that my
plotted conclusions rarely happen. Once the characters take over, anything goes!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Never give up on your dreams. Keep fighting for them, no matter what anyone tells you.
Salazar is a freelance digital and traditional illustrator. Although
mostly specialized in Children’s Illustration, Carrie enjoys
working in a variety of styles. Her work features diverse characters
with a range of ages and backgrounds. Her work has been featured in young adult and children’s books.
Hi Carrie, Thank you for doing this interview. I admire your work.
did your art career begin?
started webcomics about seven years ago, but I considered those
personal fun projects. It wasn’t until a writer friend of mine,
Holly Jahangiri, asked me to illustrate her book. I waffled for a
long time because I didn’t think I was good enough. That did put me
on the path to getting noticed and eventually doing more work for
I did everything in pen and watercolor. But as I moved to create work
for others, the revision process required me to starting building art
in digital. It was a steep learning curve, but now I prefer digital.
type of work do you do and what are your favorite subjects and things
favorite audience begins with older children and young adults, so
most of my work is children’s art and mystical realism (for lack of
a better word, I am hesitant to say “fantasy”). My favorite
subject is always people.
painting fun for you to do?
especially when I am painting/drawing the things I mentioned above.
Even when I’m out at the movies, exercising, or socializing I’m
itching to get back into the studio.
are the artists and illustrators that inspire you most?
of artists inspire me, but Quentin Gréban is my favorite. I also
love Kevin Wada, Pascal Campion, Sydney Dean, Manardana Greta,
Wangjie Li, and numerous artists on Tumblr who go by pseudonyms.
can come anytime, anywhere. But the majority of the time it happens
when I am out exercising or walking the dog.
are your favorite books on art that inspire you?
buy books all the time, but most of my art education and inspiration
comes from seeing the organic process of an artist’s online.
do you describe your style of art?
is the hardest question because I don’t know. I do such a variety
of work from “realistic” portraits to illustration that I haven’t
get been able to get a handle on a style name.
do you paint and how easy is it to become distracted?
is a big problem for me. I’m like a dog… SQUIRREL! I work best
late at night when the world is asleep. I also have found that
audiobooks keep me focused on a drawing (sounds counterintuitive but
type of illustration services do you provide?
illustrate children’s books, magazines, and book covers.
Occasionally I’ll do portrait commission.
is your latest project?
latest personal project is writing a screenplay for a graphic novel.
I’ve even gone and taken some painful acrobat classes to help me
write it. Other than that I’ve been trying to update my portfolio
with my new skills and doing whatever project by agent finds for me.
can everyone find your artwork and learn more about you?
Poet, Short Story writer and Software Quality Consultant, Stephanie Russell’s novel is The Seventh Round.She is passionate about Transgender issues, as well as writing and poetry. Her expertise as a Software Quality Consultant include Software Quality Assurance Methodologies, Test Management, Compliance, Certification Management and Audit, Clinical Risk design/audit methodologies and measurement. She lives in Sydney, Australia.
Hi, Stephanie! Thank you so much for talking with me for this interview. I'm glad to have this chance.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I am a 58 year old transgender woman who lives with her family in Sydney, Australia. Outside of family and writing my first love is reserved for pure mathematics and number theory. I have been working in the IT industry for over 35 years and am employed by a specialist consultancy.
What genres do you write?
I have no particular genre, but have written adventure romance, science fiction and historical.
Tell us a bit about your latest work?
My latest work is historical fiction set as a coming of age action mystery. It is currently being edited.
What drew you to writing and when did you start?
I have been writing short stories since high school and have recently started to devote serious attention to poetry. I believe I have always been a story teller and was lucky enough to have had a series of inspirational English teachers.
Does your work usually convey a theme or message?
I don't allow my work to be a platform for my beliefs or private passions. This would be an indulgence that would only damage the integrity of the characters. Each novel stands on its own.
Are there parts of your life in your stories?
I draw from life experience and fantasy to produce the background dynamics for each novel. After that the characters are set loose to act on their nature.
What author or authors influenced you?
My most influential authors are Poe, Conrad, Patrick O'Brien and Dr Suez.
Who do you read now?
After reading through the collected works of Conrad and the Master and Commander series amongst others I am currently reading the Rheinhardt and Lieberman mystery crime series by Frank Tallis.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
My advice would be stop hiding and address your gender identity and anxiety issues earlier.
What do you think others would want to know about you?
Typically people have a strange and often morbid fascination with transgender individuals. No doubt this is the case with some of your readers.
Do you have a current project?
Apart from writing I have been nursing a number theory proof that occupies my more academic moments. This involves the structural evolution of a certain class of resource consuming fractals.
Thank you for doing this interview with me, Stephanie. I appreciate it. ~ JD
About the book:The Seventh Round
Falling in love with an enslaved rebel was the last thing that Alex had expected, as if fate had played out it’s hand to bring them together. Nothing could have prepared him for the events that were to follow in a quest to free the woman he cannot forget from the infamous Slave Authority.
Staphanie’s first novel “The Seventh Round” can be found here:
Simple Things is about the Cameron children worried that they will not get the toys they asked for for Christmas because their mother is a
last minute shopper. The uncle that Trisha Frankel has lived with most of her life with has died. The only option she has is to find the father she does not know, even though her uncle said,
“He was no good.” Trisha takes her dog, Mitch to search out her father and find out what he is like for herself. Along the way, her dog is stolen. The most likely suspect in the dog’s disappearance is a man
connected to the Cameron children Phoebe, Tucker, and Kirby. Phoebe, Tucker, and Kirby are busy trying to figure out if their Christmas gifts will arrive. But helping Trisha makes them realize that sometimes the lives
of others are more important than their own interests, especially at Christmas time.
Bev Davis is an avid “observer of life.” After a long career as an interior designer, she followed her call into ministry by attending McCormick Theological
Seminary, Chicago. After receiving a master of divinity degree, she took a “leap of faith,” leaving the South Side of Chicago, to pastor a small UCC church in north central Wisconsin.
is happy to be living in Milwaukee with her husband Steve, serving as a hospice chaplain and recently began exhibiting her photography in local galleries.
When Bev is asked what kind of books she writes, she replies,
“Children’s Books for all ages.” Namaste, Great Gray, is the third book about the life of Great Gray a little Indian elephant, that exceeds “NO” expectations and the affect he
has on everyone he meets. Bev hopes this book will help your child-and you-realize the possibilities each of your lives hold.
Hi Bev, Thank you for talking with me here. I'm happy we got this chance to connect.
1.Tell us more about yourself and your background?
I currently live in Madison, Wisconsin, but I am originally from the far South Side of Chicago. A blue collar neighborhood called Roseland to be exact.
I was bullied almost constantly as a child. Both at school and in my neighborhood.
To this day, I have no understanding as to why this happened, but I believe my Great Gray books came to me at an important time of my life, to help me heal and find my voice.
Because of the bullying and my status in my family of origin, I stayed quiet. I tried to become invisible. Observing life that went on around me.
I was born in 1947 and consider myself an early Baby Boomer. I am considerably younger than the rest of my siblings, and very different. I have always been a thinker, observer and creative. I love to read everything I see and look for the meaning in what I read.
Because I come from a relatively poor background, I didn’t have the opportunity to attend college. I went to work immediately after graduation from high school in an office in the downtown area of Chicago. (Which was a nightmare!) I had no experience working with people in an office setting, or anywhere at all.
I stumbled around in life. Worked in offices. Attended Interior Design and Medical Assistant schools. Married and divorced. Other than being the proud mother of two wonderfully and creative grown children, It wasn’t until I felt a call to ministry I found my true purpose.
In 2004, I took a huge leap of faith. Left a fantastic interior design position with my dream company, Marshall Field’s Chicago. Sold my home and moved to McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago. It was only a short trip from my previous home, but it seemed like another world.
I graduated in 2007 with a Masters of Divinity, and because I always felt Hospice Chaplaincy would be my call, I went in that direction with a few stops along the way.
I currently serve as the community Chaplain of a not for profit senior residence in Madison, Wi. This is a new position and a position very different from where I thought I would be.
It’s been quite a journey. And will continue to be.
2.How much does your faith play in you writing career?
I don’t believe there would be any writing career, without the “leap of faith,” I took toward seminary.
I have always admired writers and authors. The way the words seem to fall from their pen. The way they seem to know which key to touch, word after word after word. (Anyway, that’s how I see it.)
My former husband, my two grown children have that gift. I have always admired how easy it seems for them.
I am a visual person, which is very handy when you are an interior designer.
When I write, I first see the scene, then find the correct words to describe what I am seeing.
Not always the easiest for someone who has not written much, or even spoken much in public.
But, things have changed!
3. What made you decide to write children’s stories?
The story of Great Gray came to me in a dream. I had never had such a technicolor a complete dream. It was like, I was being told, you’re healed and now go on and help others heal as well.
That’s how I see it now, but until I wrote the dream down, showed to to as many people I could find. (Looking for the one who would tell me, to forget abut it) No one did.
I eventually got the courage to send it to Jan Fix at The Word Verve. She said the most encouraging words. Among others, “I can actually see a poster of Great Gray hanging on my granddaughter’s bedroom wall.”
Remember, I’m visual.
4. Tell us about your Great Gray’s children series.
I call my books, “Children’s books for all ages.” I did not set out to write children’s or any books at all. The way they have evolved, I see them as books everyone can enjoy, together. From the youngest child to the oldest grandparent. The books have have levels and many cultural items to learn and talk about.
The prime focus is just simply Love. That is, love one another shared in many ways.
From the big innocent eyes of Gray, when he is rejected by his father, to the giant wink between Great Gray and his mother at the end of the first story.
5.What is your latest Great Gray book’s title and what is it about?
The latest book in the Great Gray series, is entitled,Namaste, Great Gray.The third book in the series brings all of our characters together to help the young son of the Maharajah to live a better life while practicing Yoga.
The young son was a rejected himself. Unable to walk or breath very well, his father kept his existence a secret from his extended family.
The Maharajah observed Great Gray’s triumph from obscurity and realizes what a fool he himself had been.
Putting his pride aside, he arranges for Great Gray and his mahout (keeper) Santosh to take the little prince to meet his grandmother.
It was a wonderful visit that lasted approximately two years. Namaste, Great Gray, continues as they return home a little older a little wiser and a little larger loving group.
6.What do your books teach children?
I hope the story of Great Gray will teach children and families to be more respectful to one another.
Respect someone who may be a little different from you.
Learn a little about someone who may be from another culture, another country.
There are many levels and many ways to learn how to treat each other with understanding and respect.
So much more.
7.Can you share something about yourself you want your readers to know?
It is important to show everyone, that no matter your age, your education level, EVERYONE HAS SOMETHING TO SAY.
Because I was bullied and treated poorly, I lost my voice. But, because I took that original “leap of faith,” it’s back.
I’m available to speak to discuss how bullying and marginalization can follow you all the days of your life. Even now, at seventy years young!
8.What is the hardest thing about writing?
As a visual artist, the hardest thing for me is finding the correct words to describe what I see, and how to be heard.
As I become more confident in my stories and what they have to say, I become more anxious and ready to share them with the world.
So, my advice to myself now and my younger self remains, “be patient, but be ready.”
9. What advice would you give to your younger self?
My life is told throughout the story of Great Gray. I did not plan it that way, that’s how the original dream unfolded. The subtitle “A book about exceeding NO expectations,” is extremely important to me, as I meet others who have lived less than fulfilled lives, either on the playground or in the death bed. WE ALL MATTER.
10.What author or authors influenced you?
The first author I must share is Adele Hensley. Adele, has written books about living life with “Early onset Parkinson’s Disease.” She is a personal friend, who encouraged me to send my story to Jan at The Word Verve. Her books are also available at thewordverve.com. Please check them out.
I have also been influenced by Madeleine L’Engle, President Jimmy Carter and Parker Palmer to name a few.
11.Who do you read?
I read a variety of books. Currently:
Jimmy Carter Faith
Parker Palmer Let Your Life Speak
Gillian Flynn Sharp Objects
12.Do you have a current project?
My most current projects are my personal experiences while attempting to save the seriously endangered Monarch butterfly.
I have personal experience with acting as a Monarch Midwife. My stories involve children and adults how have also participated with me. It also includes instructions on how to become a monarch midwife yourself.
Writing a story about our rescue dog named Fuzzy is also on the to do list. She has the most spectacular blue eyes and had the saddest life before she became a member of our family.
I am the granddaughter of a Texas coal miner. My grandpa was murdered while on strike in west Texas. His family had to move to Chicago in 1916 and begin again.
I have always wondered what it was like to be a bare foot kid like my dad, starting over on the rough streets of Chicago.
I am quite interested in how all this influences descendants.
I truly believe it does.
13.Where online can people find you and your books?