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Friday, July 29, 2011

An Interview with Aidana WillowRaven

Hi Aidana, and thank you for giving us this interview.

How young were you when you knew you were an artist?
Start off with the hard one, huh (lol)? Why I say it’s one of the harder questions I get asked is because up until about two years ago, I refused to refer to myself as an ‘artist’. Like most kids, I would draw once in a while to pass the time, but I was told by teachers, and even my own mother, than I had no ‘talent’. They’d say it nicely; just that art wasn’t my ‘thing’. As a result, my math skills were focused on. Being a reluctant reader, due to an undiagnosed case of ADD (vs ADHD), I hadn’t started associating my scribblings with words yet, either.

As life would have it, I dropped drawing all together, grew up, got married – twice – and divorced –twice – lol. Had two kids in the mix, too. I went through a rough time after being discharged from the ARMY.
By this time I was 23, had finally found books and fantasy (thanks to David Eddings and Terry Brooks), and had started keeping a journal. I say keeping rather than writing because I strongly suspect that my ‘poetry’ stank … lol. Then I found out that my journal was being violated. Read without my permission. So I started drawing my words.

Next thing you know, within a month’s time, I was spending large gaps of my time reading fantasy, and re-creating how I would have done the cover art, had I been the artist. I covered my walls in popular fantasy posters, and did my best to copy them, just to say what I needed to say.

Then, I decided college was what was needed to get out of my funk. But what to major in? I had spent the last nine months, or so, doing nothing but reading, drawing, and hanging out with medievalists. What did I want to be, though? I was reading Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon Riders of Pern series when asking myself this, and Michael Whelan’s White Dragon was grabbing my attention almost more than the book. I had been making really bad attempts at recreations of it … lol.

So, I took my pitiful portfolio to the art department at Norfolk State University, and asked an advisor, there, if he saw any potential. Note I didn’t say ‘talent’.

Mr Thompkins did tell me where he saw my work need much refinement, but what surprised me, and still does, is he said I had also instinctively gotten quite a bit ‘right’, even though I was COMEPLETELY untrained. He said I instinctively put down some lines, that with the proper schooling, I could learn to see the right from the wrong.

That ‘learning to see’ mentality followed through my next six years of fine art school, with electives in animation and design. My biggest teaching influences coming from Jenks and Okala, I realized ‘talent’ was an abstract word used to describe a skill that had been refined through practice, drive, and desire, not something innate. Only the desire to refine that skill is innate. Of course, many argue this with me, and that’s ok. When people tell me I’m talented, I graciously say thank you, and only rarely get on my soap box. I still like hearing it, even if I don’t believe in it … lol. I still like stories about Santa, too.

After art school, I entered contests and shows between 1996 and 2007, but really didn’t know how to get into publishing, so I just sort of dabbled, and gathered little awards or sales. Then one night, about four years ago, it hit me … make friends with authors and publishers … so I started networking. Within three months I had my first children’s book illustration gig. I was officially an illustrator (still not an artist). It wasn’t until I started doing work for myself, again, not just work for other people to pay the bills, and that was about a year ago. Now you see why it was a tough question?

What mediums have you worked in besides digital programs? I started out in graphite, then moved into charcoal, and found a home with colored pencils, but was trained in all the standard mediums (paints, sculpture, etc). I didn’t start playing with digital software until about two years ago. I try to incorporate my fine art training in my digital work, too.

What is your latest project? I always have several projects going on at once, but my most recent is the cover art for Beverly Stowe McClure’s Life on Hold (4RV Publishing), YA novel about a girl who faces some doubts about her parentage.

How did your art career begin? With a children’s book. My intent was always fantasy covers, but drawing for a living was too cool to be true, so I ended starting in children’s books and Christian book covers.

How did you get into the book business? I covered a good bit of that earlier, but basically, I was approached by a small PH on a yahoo group for writers.

How many books have you illustrated and how many covers have you designed? Oh my goodness. You want me to count them? I haven’t broken it down, but there are over 100 books in print with my work on or in them, plus magazine publications. Will that do?

I have found that illustrating books was the first step to designing books. Do you find that to be true as well? I started doing both at once (career-wise anyway), because I was trained in both, and felt knowing where text was going to go was important in knowing what my canvas size was. But I’ve found there are more designers out there than illustrators. Too many are artists, and not illustrators. As a result, we find more designers who happen to learn, or like to illustrate, but rarely do you find artists willing to illustrate. I can usually tell by the portfolio if the illustrator is a designer or an artist. Illustration is a side-step from both skill sets. Sort of like how animation utilizes bot traditions. Does that answer your question?

Who are some of the many authors you have worked with? Again, so many. It would be easier to check out my book covers and see what names you might recognize. I tend to feel more comfortable with smaller PHs. They’re more personal. So you may, or may not, recognize any.

What are some of the interesting jobs have you had along the way? I owned a book & herb shop. I manufactured herbal remedies for pets, people, and exotic zoo animals. I decided to focus on the illustration in 2007.

What type of services does your company offer? Illustration, design, cover art, logo identity and avatars, and more. Just about anything involving illustration or design, in most genres, including graphic novels/comics.

Aidana, you have written many articles about art, illustration and design. Where can people find them? I’ve done several guest posts on blogs from all over the world, but most of my articles can be found on the 4RV Reading, Writing, & Art News blog on Fridays (

What is your next book project? I actually have three kids book on my table right now, and a handful of book covers in the works.

Please tell us where we can find out more about you and your work? My website is, my own blog can be found at, and I sometimes post to the SCBWI MidSouth Illustrators .

MORE about Aidana WillowRaven:
Aidana WillowRaven, mother of three, was trained in Fine Art, Studio Design and Animation at Norfolk State and Old Dominion universities. She has illustrated and/or designed over 100 books through her company, WillowRaven Illustration & Design Plus, in Tennessee. Her work has won numerous awards, has been published in several magazines, and has earned her guest appearances at various conventions. Framed and signed prints of some of her most popular works can be purchased through her ImageKind gallery:

To view her portfolio, or contact her, visit her website:
Thank you so much for being on Manic Network’s Blog, Aidana!
~ Michelle and Jan

Friday, July 22, 2011

An Interview with Jean Wogaman

Jeanie, which came first the illustrating or the writing and how did you start working on children's books? 

I kinda go back and forth between writing and drawing. Before I could read and write I amused myself in pictorial worlds. It wasn’t until I was in sixth grade when a friend introduced me to Narnia that I started to think writing the stories might be fun too. In college I majored first in English then switched to Art.

As a young adult I dabbled in writing without completing anything. I took a correspondence course in creative writing, but the demands of a toddler kept me from finishing it in the allotted time frame. When that toddler was old enough for preschool, I took courses in illustration at the Corcoran School of Art. But family demands, day jobs, and a lack of workspace forced me to shelve the projects I’d begun in class.

I got sidetracked with office day jobs (which are abundant here in Washington, DC). When I was advised by an office colleague to advance my career prospects with a masters degree, I chose to study social science. I don’t believe I ever really intended to make a career in the field. Some small part of me suspected anthropology would help me generate interesting characters, settings, and conflict for fiction writing.

When I finished my MA in 2004 and was contemplating what to do next, my old aspirations came back to me with a vengeance. By then my daughter was entering eighth grade. Her growing independence provided me with longer stretches to write. My masters program had instilled new discipline and improved my ability to focus. I wrote the first draft of my first middle grade novel in the next two years. For a day job, I worked as a substitute teacher in the DC Public Schools. Being around kids from all sorts of different backgrounds fanned the creative fires. As soon as I finished the first novel I started a second, finishing the first draft of that manuscript in four months. I was hooked.

I discovered the kidlit blog community in 2007 and started reading about the publication process. I joined SCBWI and started attending conferences, had critiques from agents and editors, and found writing critique partners. I learned how the internet facilitated connections between publishers and illustrators in remote locations. I dusted off my art supplies and started work on an illustration portfolio. 

What media do you work in?

My favorite black and white medium is pen and ink. Sometimes I add a neutral gray wash. 

For color work, I combine ink drawing with watercolor wash and recently started experimenting with adding colored pencil to the mix.

Do you do digital drawing and painting?

Alas, no. At this point my graphics software is woefully out of date. (I bought my Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Pagemaker bundle in 1999.) I’d like to get back into digital work, at the very least in order to tweak the images I make on paper. I wish I had room in the budget for a Cintiq.

Do you write stories first or do you come up with a drawing and a story follows?

Writing generally comes first these days, although I am still very much a visual thinker. I construct visual images in my head before putting words on the page.

Have you illustrated books for other authors or would you consider it in the future?

I have not illustrated other people’s writing but would certainly be willing if the stories intrigue me. 

That being said, I am not interested in being approached by writers looking for an illustrator to work on spec in advance of submitting to a publisher. Publishers like to be the ones to match authors and illustrators. I defer to them. Nor am I interested in illustrating an author’s self-published books at this point.

How many books have you published and how long does it take you to write and illustrate a book? 

I have yet to have a book published. My short fiction has appeared in Pockets magazine. Although I’ve had a blog for a few years already, I just created my first portfolio website this spring and sent out my first batch of promotional postcards in May. I’m working on more portfolio pieces now in preparation for a second mailing in late August/early September. 

Do you find that being both the author and the illustrator is an advantage when doing a picture book?

As stated above, I have no books out yet. While I would be willing to consider a picture book project, I am targeting the middle grade market. I have a new middle grade novel manuscript that I am in the process of revising. I hope to have it ready for submission to agents this fall. Illustration-wise, I do a lot in black and white which lends itself well to middle grade or chapter book interior art.

What fuels your creativity?

I daydream constantly--no doubt to process all the crazy, disturbing things going on in the world around me. 

You’ve had a few interesting jobs. I have as well. I was a piano tuner a few years. My handle cap was that I was a small woman and couldn’t pick up many piano part let alone the piano! What was working as an opera scenery painter like? (Or any other job that was interest for you)

I painted opera scenery while I was an undergraduate student at Indiana University Bloomington which has one of the best opera schools in the world. The stage and the resources at our disposal were all professional grade. As a member of the paint crew, my work involved a lot of slapping one color across a huge backdrop, not much more exciting than painting a wall. But occasionally I was given more complex tasks. I managed to get pretty good at dry-brushing a wood look on muslin and sculpting Styrofoam into rocks. Some of the sets were really cool. We once worked on a rotating set with multilevel platforms for the Tempest. That was a fun space to work (and play around) in.

What is the Sketchbook Project and Art House community?

You can learn all the nitty gritty about the sketchbook project at
Here’s the short version: You pay a fee and choose a theme. The Art House Co-op sends you a sketchbook, but you don‘t keep it. You fill it with art and send it back to Art House by the deadline. They file it in the Brooklyn Art Library with all the other submissions and people come in and check them out. They also take the books on tour. The 2011 books are in Chicago as I’m writing this. I just received an email notification that someone checked out my 2011 book there today. You can view a digitized version of my 2011 book (theme: “This is not a sketchbook“) at My theme for 2012 is “treehouse” and you can follow my progress with it on my blog at I don’t know much about what else the Art House Co-op does. I participate only in the sketchbook project.

Where can people find out more about you?

I have a website at and a blog at I am also on twitter at where I am a frequent participant in the #kidlitart chats (for children’s illustrators) on Thursdays 9:00pm-10:00pm Eastern and an occasional participant in #kidlitchat (for both writers and illustrators) on Tuesdays 9:00pm-10:00pm Eastern. Other than those chats, I am rarely on twitter. You can learn what I’ve been reading lately at I am on Facebook and am at this point still accepting friend requests from people directly involved in children’s literature. I recently signed up for Google+ (as Jean Wogaman), but I have no idea what I’m doing there. It’s not like I have time for yet another social network thing.

Thank you so much for being on Manic Network’s Blog, Jeanie!
Thank YOU, Michelle and Jan! I am honored that you asked me. 


Friday, July 15, 2011

An Interview with Stephen Aitken

How did you get started illustrating children’s book?

I majored in biology in university but I completed my degree dissatisfied. I then attended Architecture School at Carleton University and this reawakened my love affair with art and drawing, a love that had lain dormant for a number of years. I started a career as a biological artist - drawing aphids, spiders and butterflies for the Canadian National Collection of Insects, trees for Natural Resources Canada, wildlife for Parks Canada and museum displays of all kinds for the Canadian Museum of Nature. Then, about 12 years ago I met an author friend who asked me to illustrate a book he was writing on the fascinating subject of Norse mythology. The 108 illustrations that resulted from this 2-year collaboration were used to publish a set of Tarot-like cards by a publisher in Oslo, Norway. Odin’s Journey really stretched my creative skills. There was very little in-depth visual reference material for this pre-Celtic mythology but the author, Lars Ims. was inspired and we kept each other going. This project propelled my art to a new creative level and laid the basis for me to accept the challenge of illustrating for children’s books. I worked hard for the following year or more, largely for small start-up publishers, and assembled a respectable children’s book illustration portfolio. I’ve never looked back.

What mediums do you or have you worked with?

Mediums’ or ‘media’? I consider myself very fortunate. When I was quite young, my father picked up a hitchhiker who was a young graphics arts student. They got to chatting and made an arrangement for him to teach me art classes. For several years, every Sunday morning, I walked over to his studio with a one dollar bill (we don’t have these anymore in Canada so I am dating myself here). He gladly showed me how to use all the new media that he had been taught that week at art school - from letraset, to wood carving, to block printing, to painting on velvet with pastels. I became familiar with a variety of media. As an added bonus he drove me home on his motorcycle, which for a 10-year old was pretty cool!

A lot of my technical illustrations are created with a fine black rapidograph line. I have also printed line drawings onto watercolour paper and hand-painted each print with watercolours. For many years I painted large landscapes on stretched cold-pressed Arches watercolour paper and sold them through art galleries in the Ottawa area. I often use gouache now for details on top of watercolour illustrations though I am a bit of a purist when it comes to my fine art watercolours. Acrylics are another favourite, both transparently like watercolours, and in a thick opaque manner. I used to enjoy working in oils but the fumes from the turp oils ultimately turned me away from this medium. When digital technology came along, particularly Corel Painter, I started using digital oils. My illustration work for educational publishers using a fine dark line (3 pixels in size – yes, very small) painted over with artist’s oils or other digital media. The ‘real’blender brushes just keep getting better with each new version of the Corel software.

How did you start writing books for children?

I have been the Managing Editor of an international science journal called Biodiversity for the past 6-7 years. I have a lot of experience writing editorials, news stories and other science articles for the journal. In 2002 I received an email from a wonderful Canadian author, Sylvia Sikundar who had seen my website and knew that I was working in my Himalayan studio. Sylvia asked for my assistance in naming some of the characters for a novel she was writing set in India. Our discussions moved onto the plot of the story and the character development and my input ultimately reached the point where Sylvia felt I should be credited as a coauthor. That story, The Ice Berries, went on to published by Penguin India in a wonderful collection called The Puffin Book of Bedtime Stories, with the softest, hardcover you will ever find – perfect for placing under a pillow or bedtime reading. I was very fortunate that Sylvia encouraged my writing at this stage and she was very kind to send me many of her favourite children’s books. 

I went on to write news stories and articles for children’s magazines, largely non-fiction, nature-based articles. I continue to believe that the best training you can have for writing for children is to read the classics of children’s literature and the books of popular contemporary children’s authors.

Do you illustrate other peoples books too or just your own? 

I have illustrated about 25 books authored by other writers over the course of the last 10 years, in addition to the 15 or so that I have written and illustrated. For about 5 years I had a wonderful New York agent, Janet DeCarlo of Storybook Arts Inc. I illustrated books published by Zaner-Bloser, Santillana USA, SRA McGraw Hill, Sopris West Educational, Sundance Publishers and many more. I am no longer represented by Janet as I have quite a bit of work acquired directly from publishers through my own book proposals and projects.

A book that I am very proud of that I did not write (but wish I did) is the international edition of The Mountain that Loved a Bird written by Alice McLerran - a timeless classic. It is now published in 12 Indian languages, Chinese, Arabic, Turkish, and English. Alice and I are now working on a new edition to be released in North America in a few months.

How long does it take you to write and illustrate a book?

The time required for me to write a book depends on the book’s genre. I recently wrote and illustrated a series of 4 non-fiction picture books for ABDO books’ Magic Wagon imprint. These books are at the printer now and scheduled for release this fall. The 32-page books describe the effects of climate change on Earth’s living species. Each one of those books took 3-4 months to write and illustrate with 14 double spreads in each book.

Fiction for the trade market typically takes me longer to write and illustrate, sometimes as much as a year, rarely less than 6 months. Like eating Swiss chocolate, I don’t like to rush this process. I stay with the storyboard stage until I get everything right. All details in the illustrations are worked out at the sketch to final pencil stage. Time and care is needed to maintain the original inspiration as much as possible in each image and to revise the storyboard until the flow is perfect between art and text. Often the text can be tweaked again at the same time as the final art is being completed. I love this process. My favourite part is storyboarding and working on the small loose sketches to perfect the flow between text and art.

I miss the feel of a brush on canvas, whether it’s watercolor or oils now that I painting mainly digitally. Do you find that digital painting is easier than watercolor or acrylics painting and from time to time go back and paint with a brush?

I would not say that digital art is easier. If anything there are more details to be learned to create digital art. However, the same principles apply of creating good art, through drawing, value studies, design, color and rendering. For the educational market I almost always create the illustrations from initial sketches to final rendering with digital media. This allows me more flexibility to explore options at the dummy stage, compositional and color options in the illustrations, make changes requested by the art director, and perform subtle, final adjustments.

If I am illustrating one of my own fiction picture books I often start with traditional media, but it really is the story that determines the medium. Like you, I cherish the movement of brush on paper and the natural beauty of pigment dissolving into water, the textures of the various pigments and of the watercolour paper. But I always finish the art digitally because it is wonderful way to tighten edges, correct colors and tweak the final art. I work amost exclusively on Arches watercolour paper, whether working in watercolors or in acrylics and often for the latter will tone my paper with burnt sienna mixed with a bit of yellow ochre. This helps me to see the values better right from the outset. This of course can be done when working with digital oils as well. I work on a 21” iMac screen using either an Intuos 4 tablet or a 12” Cintiq tablet.

I would imagine studying biology in college must come in handy in drawing and painting for children. Has it? 

I would have to say yes, and then qualify it with a no. There is no doubt that biological illustration demands accurate, clear draughtmanship and an ability to sketch objects that are sitting in 3-D space. Drawing, figures prominently in my creative process. I do a lot of my color biological work on Arches Hot-pressed paper which I love because it allows me to add a lot of detail. I think the challenge for a biological artist moving into children’s book illustration is to let go of the need for realism and open up to other creative possibilities.

Do you find that being both the author and the illustrator makes it easier to know what pictures fit into a book?

I think that an author who can think visually and has the experience of illustrating a children’s book has a wonderful advantage. In picture books words are jewels - the recent trend has been towards even fewer words, 500 and below. I think a writer who is also an artist can leave out verbal descriptions, confident that they can be captured in the images. Also, subtle aspects of character can be added to the story through the images, giving layers of depth that may only be insinuated in the text. Who better to do that than the author himself? Who can know your characters better than you?

I wrote a series of books recently for Marshall Cavendish Benchmark on the Climate Crisis that will be released in 2012. Though I did not illustrate these 64 page books, I also think that being an artist helped me to make valuable suggestions for the placement of the high impact photos acquired by the publisher and provide suggestions for the layout of the 5 books in the series.

With the children’s picture book market so crowded would you advise illustrating for children to others?

I think you have to have a passion to communicate to young people if you are going to be an illustrator or an author of children’s books. It also pays to have multiple skills from which to draw your income if you are going to survive as an artist in children’s book publishing. Editorial, scientific, and decorative illustration can all supplement an artist’s income as he waits for the next book contract. Contrary to many people’s beliefs you probably will not get rich at this profession but it is infinitely rewarding both by creating great books for the young people of this world (who could be more important?) and also through the contacts you will make with other dedicated children’s book illustrators. The SCBWI is a wonderful resource when you are getting started and I would recommend joining for any artist considering children’s books as a focus for their career.

Being able to write your own books and stories is also a big plus in this field. Your writing skills can provide additional income as you wait for the treasured trade book contract that will give you a big six figure advance. I’m still waiting.

Lots of people make dire predictions about kids and reading and new media today. How do you see the future for children and reading?

I think physical books will exist for a long time into the future, but they will only be one of the options for readers. Regardless of the format I think publishers, if they are going to maintain the quality of books that the public demands for their children (whether they be e-books, apps or something new that hasn’t even be thought of yet) will need ‘content providers’ – and that means artists and writers. I believe it is important to be aware of the new digital formats for books and get into the game of e-books and apps as soon as possible. 

Are you currently working on or have plans for future projects?

Next week I will be signing a contract with a publisher in New Delhi, Katha Books, for Little Cloud’s Quest. This story was co-authored with Sylvia Sikundar. Katha Books is a wonderful charitable organization that promotes literacy for street children in India.

I am also creating additional art for a new North American edition of The Mountain That Loved a Bird, coming out shortly in the US and Canada. And I plan to do some plein air painting this fall in the Himalayan mountains of India.

Where can Manic Network members and visitors find out more about you and your work?

Check out my website
and for current up-to-date info on new writing and illustrating projects please visit my scribblesketch blog:
Thanks so much Jan and Michelle for your wonderful support of the rarely recognized, and even more rarely convened, children’s author/illustrators of the world. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

An Interview with J.D. Holiday

J.D. Holiday is the author and illustrator of two children’s books:  Janoose the Goose, picture book and a chapter book for six to eight year olds, THE GREAT SNOWBALL ESCAPADE. A chapbook of her short stories called, Trespasses was published in 1994 and she has had short stories printed in literary magazines and numerous articles about writing and publishing published.  She is a member of both The Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators, (SCBWI) Small Publishers of North America, (SPAN) and a c-host on The Writing Mama Show on BLOG TALK RADIO’S World Of Ink Network.
As well as being an author you're also an illustrator. Does this effect the way you write your books? 
I think so. I see everything I write as a picture or scene and I find it easy to tell what scenes should be pictures for my children’s picture books.

How did you get started writing and how long have you been drawing and painting? 
My father wrote every weekend for as long as I can remember though I never thought of writing myself while he was alive.
I had problems reading and spelling as a child which didn’t start to improve until high school. Also I was so self-conscious about my spelling difficulties that I didn't think I could write seriously. But in the sixth grade I did write a story on a rainy afternoon by myself and loved it.
It wasn’t until 1983, years later that I started writing when a friend asked me to read a few pages from a historical romance she was writing. I told her what I thought about it and she asked me to help her write the book. We did finish it and sent it to an agent who was kind and sent the manuscript back with a detailed account of what was wrong with it. My friend went on to other things while I found that I loved writing and did not want to stop. I’ve been writing for years now. 
I started drawing and painting in high school! I had a teacher who saw something in my artwork I didn’t know myself and encouraged me to draw and paint. 

What's the hardest thing for you to draw?
People. I have to study faces for a long time and even then I might get them wrong.

How long does it take you to write and illustrate a book? 
That always depends on what is going on around me. Most of my stories I wrote years ago, but I think most of them took a few months to write and even up to eight months for the longer stories. 
My latest published book, The Great Snowball Escapade, is a chapter book for 6 to 8 year olds which I wrote in 1989. The illustrations took about 6 months fitting them in around my family, work, cooking and pets who all come first. 

Do you illustrate other peoples books too or just your own?  
So far I’m only doing my own books because I have about 10 more manuscripts of my own to illustrate. I don’t have plans of doing illustrations for others. 
Why do you write children's books? 
I have many stories to tell for children. I had a fun childhood and many stories have come out of it. 

Do you feel that fewer children are reading today--or is it about the same? 

I think that more children are reading and it has become somewhat important to kids today because of  the use of computers. Kids have to know how to read to use them. Kids wanting to use them to play games and keeping in touch with  their friends as well are looking up information on things they just want to know about. 

When you write, do you plot or do you write by off the top of your head?
I plot all my stories heavily. I write detailed outlines of about four pages and make notes on anything available to scribble on as things come to me. The notes are clipped, stapled or taped in a binder that no one else would want to try and read through. But I wade on through the mess to write out my story on loose leaf paper that is then added to the binder until the story is done. That’s the first draft. Then I type it on the computer and begin again to edit. This can not be changed, I’ve tried. This is what works for me!

Are you currently working on or have plans for future projects?
Yes. Besides the two books I mentioned, I have about four other picture book manuscript already written that I have to do the illustrations for, and a second  young adult novel that needs to be written.
What was your road to publications like?
It wasn’t easy. For many years I submitted my manuscripts to the big publishers getting many rejection letters. Though during all that time I had some short stories and a Chapbook published, some editors were interested in my children’s stories, and I even had an agent for a time, but none of my children’s books made it into print. 
In 2002, I decided to try one of those print services, which for me, was a disaster. I had my publicity plan ready to go but the print service had made a mess of my book and the galley was not ready for printing. I tried working with them to fix it, but the next galley had the same problems and the deal collapsed.  
At that point, POD publishing, or Print On Demand had come along and was affordable to get books into print. That was when I decided I could do the job better myself and I started my own publishing  company, Book Garden Publishing, LLC. 

Why did you pick the publisher that ultimately published your book?
That’s easy. My publisher is me! After years of submitting manuscripts to the big publishers and waiting for the rejection letters I was giving up on getting published.  I had a agent and editors along the way that were interested in my work, but no books published. Then, POD publishing, or
Print On Demand came along and was affordable to get books into print. I decided that was what I was going to do.
I tried one of those print services, which for me, was a disaster. I had my publicity plan ready to go but the print service had made a mess of my book and the galley was not ready for printing. I tried working with them to fix it, but the next galley had the same problems and the deal collapsed.  That was when I decided I could do the job better myself and I started my own publishing  company, Book Garden Publishing, LLC. 

What’s your next project?
I have three book manuscripts I’m working on at the moment. One is a picture book I have done the drawings for and am now digitally painting them in Painter Essentials 4 which I love. It is a story about a boy who wants a puppy but gets a dog that is older. It's what they do together that makes them pals. 
The other book is a young adult novel titled, ‘Christmas in the City.’ This story about two girls, one with a family and one without and both searching for what is important to them. 
And my third project is a sequel to my first children’s picture book, Janoose The Goose which I’m still in the writing stage.

Lots of people make dire predictions about kids & reading & new media. Can you offer one *counter* prediction for where your current readers might be 10 or 15 years from now?
This is a hard one! It’s hard to tell how things will be in the future. I went to the 1960’s Worlds Fair where many predictions where made on the future. Some of their predictions were correction but many were not and some we have surpassed. 
I do know that we are in the e-book reader future now and see that continuing. As for books themselves, I think, they will always be around. I can’t see a world without books, though they may be printing less and/or for special reasons. And with the invention of machines like the Espresso Book Machine where a whole book can be printed on demand, in fifteen minutes!, one at a time, just because you want to have that favorite in your own book library.

Where can members and visitors to Manic Network find out more about you and your work? 
People can find out mostly everything about me on my website: and my blogs: &

Thank you so much Michelle for having me as the first interview on Manic Network. I enjoyed it! 
                                                         ~J.D. Holiday

J.D. Holiday’s two books, 'The Great Snowball Escapade,' a chapter book for 6 to 8 year olds, and ‘Janoose the Goose‘, a children’s picture book, are both available online at B&N and Amazon or order in bookstores as well as order in bookstores everwhere.

‘Janoose the Goose‘ is $10.00 at:

'The Great Snowball Escapade' is $5.99 at:

Read an excerpt from the children's chapter book,