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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,


  1. Lovely interview, J.D. You are probably an expert by now in the field of self-publishing, I hope you can give us some tips about the process!

  2. Terrific interview Jan and Michelle! It was nice to get to know more about J.D. Wishing you greater successes!

  3. Thanks Michelle and Kavitha!

    I'd be happy to help any way I can, Michelle!