Janoose The Goose: Character Quotes

Looking out the window, Janoose was shocked at what she saw. Deedee was being chased by a fox! 
Deedee tried to fly away by flapping her little wings, but her wings were not strong enough to get her off the ground. 
“We better do something or Deedee will become duck soup!” Janoose said. ~ Janoose The Goose, a picture book by JD Holiday.

Author and Literary Strategist, Tom Blubaugh

Tom Blubaugh began writing poetry at age fourteen, but has written nonfiction most of his adult life. He self-published his first book, Behind the Scenes of the Bus Ministry, in 1974, and wrote articles for denominational and business magazines from 1975 through 1995. He co-wrote The Great Adventure for Barbour Publishing Co. in 2009. Bound by Faith Publishers published his first novel, Night of the Cossack, in April, 2011 at age of 69. Tom has been a public speaker for over forty years, and is currently a Literary Strategist working one-on-one with authors and writers in all aspects of the publishing arena, social media, brand building, and book marketing. He has been a self-employed entrepreneur since 1973.
Night Of The Cossack

 Hi Tom, We have traveled in the same circles for years and this is one long overdue conversations. Thank you for being here. 

Tom, was writing fiction always behind the scenes while you were writing nonfiction?
No. I didn't think about writing fiction until I was 65.

What were some of the pitfalls you ran into in your own writing career?
The first one was regretting that I disliked English in school and didn't pay attention. A group of writers, nearly all retired English teachers, rescued me via a critique group. I was surprised that I knew as much as I did, but they were wonderful.

What does a Literary Strategist do?
 I coach and assist authors/writers, one-on-one, through the entire writing/publishing process--if this is what they need/want. I also work on an as needed basis. Look at me as a manager/quarterback. I have a large circle of resources that includes website designers,
editors, formatters, graphic artists, public relations, and whatever else may be needed to succeed with the publishing and book marketing.

What led you to become one?
When I wrote my novel, Night of the Cossack, I was published by a small independent
publisher. It was the worst time to publish, 2011, as the publishing industry was changing at rocket speed. Brick and mortar stores were closing, publishers were requiring platforms, and marketing suddenly became a hot potato. Although I had 40+ years of marketing
experience, I found book marketing to be a significant challenge. Like most authors, I waited until the book was being printed before doing any marketing. I met hundreds of
authors who were doing what everyone else was doing without finding out what did or didn't work. I decided to combine my marketing, writing, and publishing experiences and help authors/writers market.

 Who would need a Literary Strategist and what can you do for them?
 I wrote a blog on the subject of who needs a Literary Strategist. 
I have to be honest and say I have not found an author/writer who doesn't need a Literary Strategist.

  What strategy do you use to sell books? 
The strategies are multiple. I started a LinkedIn group--Book Marketing Strategies for Authors/Writers--a few months ago, which can be found at: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8319608/profile . In this group I share marketing principles and strategies. Right now I am working through Book Marketing 101. I will be sharing articles from my resource people in the near future.

  When and why did you decide to write your first novel, Night of the Cossack
When my mother passed away, I suddenly realized I was the second oldest person in her line and I hardly knew anything about my maternal grandfather who passed a year before I was born. In fact, both my grandfathers were gone before I was born. I decided to leave maternal grandfather's legacy to my children and grandchildren, so I created him from a few facts that were fascinating to me.

  Does Night of the Cossack convey a theme or message? 
There are multiples of messages in my novel. More than I realized until a retired teacher, Theresa Franklin, asked if she could write a 10 day lesson plan based on my story. It is amazing!
The Legend of the Tickle Bug

  Tell us about The Legend of the Tickle Bug?
 I wrote this story for my grandchildren (6 girls, 8 boys) when one of my granddaughters, age 4, called and asked me if I would bring some tickle bugs with me when I came to visit. I wrote and published it for them for Christmas 2007. I released it on Amazon in 2015. 

You have two other books, Behind the Scenes of the Bus Ministry and The Great Adventure. Can you tell us about them? 
Behind the Scenes of the Bus Ministry was a compilation of two term papers I wrote in Bible college--one for evangelism and one for Christian education. I was presenting seminars on how to start a bus ministry to churches and self-published it for that ministry in 1974. The Great Adventure was co-written by invitation from Barbour Publishing and was a book of devotionals by 14 writers. It was published in 2009. Both books are out of print.

  What role does faith play in your life? 
It is everything to me. I was raised in an alcoholic home and I was a victim of clergy sexual abuse at age 12. I was out of control by age 15 and was a convicted felon. Thanks to a high school teacher, a friends mother, the U.S. Navy, and a Baptist minister--God saved me when I was 28.

  Was there any particular book or author who influenced you? 
My mother was a freelance writer who was never published, although I was not strongly encouraged to read. At age 14 I was too shy to tell a girl I liked her, so I wrote her a poem. I have been writing now for 60 years.

 What authors do you read?  
Most of my reading was Christian non-fiction--Charles Stanley, Myles Munroe, and others until I was in my 50s when I started reading Louis L'Amour for pleasure. Now I mainly read client's books.

 Are you writing now?
Yes. I write a lot of blog articles and posts. Sarah Tun and I just published a book on social networking. I have a book in process. I intend to write and anthology titled For the Love of a Teacher. I'm inviting writers who have a teacher who was a life changer to send me a short story if they would like to be published--tom@tomblubaugh.net.

 What advice would you give to your younger self?
Read! Read! Read! Learn every think about the English language you can. Talk to your ancestors while they are alive and learn their stories first hand. Quiz your parents about their ancestors before it's too late.

Thank you, Tom for doing this interview. I enjoyed talking to you!   ~JD

Buy Night Of The Cossack:

Buy The Legend of the Tickle: 

 Another book by Tom Blubaugh: 
Building Community: Developing Internet Relationships in the 21st Century using Google+ http://tomblubaugh.net/bookstore/buildingcommunity

Tom Blubaugh's site: http://tomblubaugh.net/

The Spy Game: Character Quotes

The Spy Game: Character Quotes  

"Oh, why can't that dog walk himself? He's big enough, Eddie!" ~Joel form The Spy Game by JD Holiday.


Book Designer and Illustrator, Aidana WillowRaven

   Illustrators Workshop

 If you need a book Designer and illustrator, you don't need to look further than one of the top book designers I know, Aidana WillowRaven.  Working in most genres, from picture books to novels, she has illustrated and/or designed over 500 books and ebooks through her company, WillowRaven Illustration and Design Plus, in Memphis, Tennessee. 
Aidana WillowRaven, tradigital artist (hybrid artist who combines traditional training and techniques with digital tools and applications) and mother of three, trained in Fine Art, Studio Design, and Animation at NSU and ODU. WillowRaven works with traditional publishers, as well as, independent authors. In addition to her freelance business, she is also the Art Director and VP of Operations at 4RV Publishing. Aidana also offers occasional tutorials, tips, and tricks in the art and design industries. 

Hi Aidana,  
Thank you for being here. For years I have admired your work greatly. And I love that I see your work everywhere, Aidana.
What circumstances inspired you to pursue your art?   I was in a bad place (second marriage failed), writing in my diary to cope, and discovered it was being read by the very cause of my stress. I had to find another outlet that was more cryptic. I also had a lot of time on my hands and was reading a lot of fantasy novels. I loved the book covers but was sometimes disturbed by irregularities between text and visual representation or poor execution like bad proportions. I started trying to re-draw the covers as I think they should have been created when I realized I could tell my own stories vaguely enough while still dealing with emotions and stress. I decided to go to college and start life anew and really couldn't think of what else to study but art, to become a cover art one day.

Who are the artists and illustrators that inspire you most?   Michael Whelan is a HUGE influence, as is Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo and Salvador Dali.

What was your original goal to achieve as an artist, and have you reached it? I wanted to come a science-fiction/fantasy book cover artist. That's what I am :D

How many covers do you do a year? That's a tough one. I stopped counting a while back, lol. 50, maybe 100?

Is your main medium digital?   Currently, yes. I started out as a traditional artist but fell in love with the digital medium a few years back. I do, however, still play with my charcoals and paints.

What other mediums have you worked in?   Charcoal, colored pencil, ink, acrylic paint, oil paint, watercolors, and whatever else grabs my attention.

What art programs/software do you use?   I start in Daz and end in photoshop.

How do you describe you over all style?   Ugh! Another hard one ... Dramatic, maybe?

How do you approach a paintings or drawings when you start a new project?   Normally with the key element, like the main character of a special tree or mountain. The scene grows from there.

Does the author you are designing a cover for tell you what they want or do you design more than one cover for them to choose from? I plan the cover with the author.
We go over scene ideas and come up with a plan, usually via live chat on my site.

Besides book covers, where can people find your art on displayed?   My website and blog are the most obvious places. Besides that, I display work and sell prints at MidSouthcon.

What type of illustration services do you provide?   Book covers, interior illustrations, interior layout, ebook conversion, logos, editing, websites, marketing media, etc.

What are your upcoming projects?     I have a dozen or more projects in varying degrees of completion. Some are covers, others are layouts, logos, edits. A little of it all.

Where can everyone find your art work and learn more about you? My website. My blog. Twitter.

Thank you so much, Aidana for doing this interview.  

Thanks for having me :D

Find Aidana WillowRaven on her website:http://WillowRaven.weebly.com

Aidana WillowRaven/WillowRaven Illustration and Design Plus
Book covers ~ Book Illustration and Cover Creation

Cozy Mystery Author Alyssa Maxwell

Alyssa Maxwell
For fans of Author Alyssa Maxwell, this is a revealing interview if I say so myself! The author tells her readers more about  her heroine from Gilded Newport Mysteries, Emma's two love interests and what it feels like to know they are waiting for her next book.

Alyssa Maxwell is the author of the Gilded Newport Mysteries and A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mysteries. She lives in South Florida in the current year, but confesses to spending most of her time in the Victorian, Edwardian, and post WWI eras. If she only had a TARDIS...(Think, Doctor Who!)  In addition to fantasizing about wearing Worth gowns and strolling the gardens of her manor house, she loves to watch BBC and other period productions and sip tea in the afternoons. 

Thank you, Alyssa for doing this. I'm a big fan of yours. Your main character in Gilded Newport Mysteries, Emma is one of the most likable heroines I've read, and I love her way of reasoning out the problems she faces. 

You have a new book in the Gilded Newport Mysteries with Emma coming out, MURDER AT ROUGH POINT. Can you tell us about it?

Since I first discovered Newport, I’ve been fascinated with Rough Point. In those days it was still owned by tobacco heiress Doris Duke, hidden behind high walls and solid iron doors at the end of the driveway, and somewhat isolated at the southern end of Bellevue Avenue. I found it mysterious and intriguing. But before Doris Duke, the house was originally owned by Frederick and Louise Vanderbilt. They quickly grew tired of Newport, though, and began renting the house out for the summers. I took advantage of that fact to create a scenario where a group of assorted artists from Europe have come to conduct a retreat. There’s a Russian ballet choreographer, an American opera singer, a French stage director, an English sculptor, an Italian cellist, and an American painter – who also happens to be sleuth Emma Cross’s father. Somewhat channeling Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, a storm traps our group at the house and one by one, the occupants fall prey to a killer, each in a unique way. Emma must work with police detective Jesse Whyte to uncover the secrets of each member of the group to find the killer.

Is there pressure knowing that readers are eagerly awaiting your book's release?

To some extent yes, but that’s something I have to put out of my mind in order to concentrate on each project. If I let pressures like that get to me, I’ll find it impossible to write the best, most focused book I can. But that pressure is also a source of pride and encouragement for me. It’s an honor to know readers are waiting for each book. It means I’ve done my best job to create compelling characters that readers want to follow from book to book.

Emma, it seems to me, has two love interests, Detective Jesse Whyte, who she as known all her life; and the rich and good looking, Derrick Andrews. Though I'm not asking you who Emma will finally end up with, BUT have you already decided which man Emma picks?

No, I haven’t! An influencing factor may just turn out to be reader feedback. I’d assumed everyone would want to see Emma with the handsome, rich, and exciting Derrick Andrews. But in chatting with a book club, I discovered there is indeed a “Team Jesse.” And we’ll see more of the relationship between Emma and Jesse, along with its potential to develop, in MURDER AT ROUGH POINT. True, Emma says that although Jesse is the better fit socially, and someone she respects and feels at ease with, he doesn’t make her heart race the way Derrick does. But that doesn’t mean feelings can’t change. It also doesn’t mean Emma feels compelled to make any decision in the near future. Remember, she’s not your typical Gilded Age lady. She’s had the influence of her Suffragette and independent-minded “Aunt Sadie,” and she believes women have a right to work and make their own decisions in life. She’s not looking to be dependent on anyone for her well-being – not her Vanderbilt relatives and not a man.

Which of your heroines from your two book series is most like you; Emma, or from your A Lady and Lady's Maid Mysteries, Lady Phoebe Renshaw? And let's add Phoebe's lady's maid, Eva Huntford?

I have to admit they all have a part of me in them. I don’t think a writer can help that. But I hope I’ve given them all their own personalities independent of mine, so that each feels like a wholly developed individual. Emma is forging new territory for women, while at the same time basically acting as the “head” of her little family: housekeeper and surrogate grandmother Nanny, maid Katie, and her half-brother, Brady. Phoebe is also forging ahead into the modern era, but within the framework of her aristocratic station and in ways that won’t distress her grandparents too much. Despite feeling that many of the old traditions are outdated, she loves her grandparents very much and doesn’t with to alienate them. Eva, on the other hand, is very much a traditionalist. She’s the one that maintains the boundaries between her and Phoebe, and strives to preserve her lady’s good name and reputation. She knows Phoebe will travel far in life, but she is careful to prevent Phoebe from overstepping too many bounds too quickly. Really, these are all ideals I believe in. Balance for me is the key to a happy and successful life.

How long does it usually take you to write one of your stories from your first idea to finishing the book?

It used to take me about a year. But now that I’m writing two series, I’m writing two books a year – so six months each. It keeps me at a brisk schedule. Sometimes I feel a little pressured, but it’s a good problem to have.

Where did you realize you were a storyteller?

Always. I’ve always loved making up stories, and as soon as I could write, I did. Creative writing was always my favorite part of school. And if I could write my way through a test, I tended to do very well. Give me a math problem, however, and it was all over.

What drew you to write mysteries?

The challenge of creating and then solving the puzzle. I love puzzles of all kinds, so mystery is a perfect fit. I especially love the challenge of reading or setting mysteries in historical time periods, there the sleuths have to rely on their wits to solve the crime, rather than on modern forensics. Emma, Phoebe and Eva make full use of the technology available to them, but brainpower is their best tool.

Was there any particular book or author who influenced you? 

Although as a child I read my share of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, I believe it was authors like Daphne du Maurier, the Brontes, and Mary Stewart who most influenced me as a writer early on. Though not mysteries in the strictest sense, their books are powerful, atmospheric and suspenseful, and feature female characters who must find their inner strength and courage in order to prevail. Among them, my favorites are Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn, and Mary Stewart’s This Rough Magic. But really I love them all.

What is your advice on writing a book series to other authors thinking about it?

Delve head first into your subject matter, and be passionate about it. I think that makes all the difference to a story, because readers will feel your enthusiasm. Newport has been part of my life for over thirty-five years, since I first started visiting there. My husband is from Newport, so I have something of an insider’s view that has helped shape the books and fueled my passion for them. Even so, I’ve still had so much to learn about the city during the Gilded Age and before. I’ve come to know the city and the people who lived there on so much more intimate terms than I could have imagined when I started.

With the Lady’s and Lady’s Maid series, I chose a pivotal time in England’s history – just after WWI. Women over 30 who were married or owned property were given the vote, class divisions were just beginning to become blurred, and the upper classes were realizing they were no longer as wealthy as they had been in previous eras. It was a time of change and innovation – England’s stride into the modern world, and I find it fascinating and exciting.

So don’t just write something because it’s the current trend. You need to find something that captures your imagination and demands that you write about it.

Right now do you have any plans to branch out into other genres?

Not at the moment. With two series, I’m very happy right now writing historical mystery. I’d never say never, but so far I haven’t been tempted to write a contemporary story.

What is your next project?

Having just finished A PINCH OF POISON, the second Lady and Lady’s Mystery, I’ve started on MURDER AT CHATEAU SUR MER, the fifth scheduled book in the Gilded Newport Mysteries. Chateau sur Mer is one of the smaller “cottages” along Newport’s Bellevue Avenue, especially in comparison to The Breakers or The Elms, but loved by everyone who visits. The house was owned by the Wetmore family from the middle of the 19th century until the 1960s when the last remaining family member passed away. In 1897, we’ll meet the owners, George and Edith Wetmore and their two daughters, Maude and Edith. George Peabody Wetmore was a governor of Rhode Island, and, at the time of the story, a U.S. senator. The Wetmores were year-round residents of Newport, which set them apart from the other Gilded Age families, and were known for being upstanding, respectable citizens – which also set them apart from many of the others known for their eccentricities and antics. The story opens with a polo match on the property, but soon the shadow of foul play comes over the estate. Politics, land development, sporting rivalries, and Newport’s hidden “underbelly” will all come into play, and Emma will be called in to investigate by Mrs. Wetmore herself, because in her mind, only another woman is capable of getting at the truth.

Alyssa, what authors do you read?

Too many to name! Although I always make a point of reading the releases of a talented group of mystery authors with whom I cross promote: Tessa Arlen, Susanna Calkins, Anna Lee Huber, D.E. Ireland, Anna Loan-Wilsey, Christine Trent, and Ashley Weaver . We call our group Sleuths in Time, and you can find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SleuthsInTime/.

Thank you so much, Alyssa for coming on my blog. I'm eagerly awaiting reading Emma's next adventure!
Sincerely, JD

Alyssa Maxwell's books are: in the Gilded Newport Mysteries -Murder at the Breakers #1 www.amazon.com/Murder-at-Breakers-Alyssa-Maxwell/dp/0758290829Murder at Marble House #2 www.amazon.com/Murder-Marble-Gilded-Newport-Mystery/dp/0758290845Murder at Beechwood #3 www.amazon.com/Murder-Beechwood-Gilded-Newport-Mystery/dp/0758290861 and coming out in August this yearMURDER AT ROUGH POINT
Pre-order- www.amazon.com/Murder-Rough-Gilded-Newport-Mystery/dp/1496703286/
In A Lady and Lady's Maid Mysteries - Murder Most Malicious  www.amazon.com/Murder-Most-Malicious-Alyssa-Maxwell/dp/1617738301

You can find out more about Alyssa Maxwell on her site: www.alyssamaxwell.com/
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