Friday, October 5, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: Gary Krejca

1) Tell us a bit about who you are, and where you live and work.

I've been an illustrator for 25 years now, grew up in Chicago and now live in Tempe, Arizona.

2) Describe your journey to becoming an illustrator.

My natural talent took me to art school, my love for art in Pop Culture inspired me to pursue the field. It's been a rocky road, but I love what I do. It's not for everyone.

3) What mediums do you prefer?

I like watercolor with pencil or pen and ink, I also love pastels and chalk pencils. But creating vector art is also becoming very fun for me. I'm now practicing painting in Photoshop, and while it doesn't feel organic yet, there's no mess to clean up.

4) Tell us about your latest projects.

I recently worked on some watercolor paintings for floor plans and elevations of resort properties. I also did a watercolor/pencil of a frog for a wildlife magazine.

5) Who are your favorite authors? What is on your reading list right now?

Larry McMurtry, Erik Larson, Wayne Sallee...currently reading The Book of Drugs by Mike Doughty, one of my favorite musicians. I love reading musicians' biographies or memoirs.

 6) How do you promote your work? What methods have worked best for you?

Online, printed postcards, and my agent. I think my agent is getting me the most work these days.

7) What are your upcoming plans for the rest of 2012?

Keep plugging away, learn some new techniques, and revive some old ones.

8) What is your definition of success?

Happiness in what you do. If you're doing what you love for a living, you have no regrets.

9) What advice would you offer to aspiring illustrators?

Always look at what others are doing, keep abreast of trends while maintaining your own style. Become as versatile as possible, yet show your best style up front.

About Gary
Gary Krejca has over 20 years experience in advertising, design and children’s publishing. To see more of his work, visit the links below:*/

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: Katy Krump

1)  Tell us a bit about yourself and where you live and work.

 I live on a farm in the wilds of Gloucestershire, near Bristol, England and am surrounded by beautiful countryside, woodlands and baaing sheep in spring. I love writing, reading, watching television and films, and swimming, though the sight of me in a swimming costume is not a pretty sight and when swimming in the sea constantly fear being harpooned by accident. I love seeing my friends and going to my book club once a month. These evenings are spent eating cake, drinking coffee and shrieking with laughter and occasionally discussing the books we’ve read.

2)  Describe your journey to becoming an author.

I was an English and music teacher before almost losing my sense of humour (and mind) and deciding I needed to devote herself to the thing my loved most - writing. I wrote and published a number of children’s musicals while teaching and after leaving became a full-time television scriptwriter for children, on an award winning programme, Kideo. Putting words into the mouths of a donkey called Mr Chinwag was a unique and fun experience. I then entered a nationwide scriptwriting competition and was selected to be on the writing team of a popular South African soap, Generations, it was  multilingual so often what I wrote would appear on screen translated into Sotho or Zulu or one of the other eleven official languages in South Africa-weird. I also worked as an advertising copywriter, wrote radio ads and jingles, educational textbooks and readers...anything writing related to keep the wolf from the door. Basically, I’m constantly writing, books and TV scripts and if not that then plotting, planning and scheming how to take over the world.

I spent a very long 20 years writing my first book, which went through numerous drafts and changes and now is a completely different book from how it started out- thank goodness. I– self published  When Killers Cry, an adult political thriller set in apartheid South Africa just to see what would happen. A lot of it comes from my own experience growing up in those dark days, so it’s very personal for me. It’s available through and on Kindle. My first love is writing for children though. So I wrote two children’s fantasy books and am working on an animation script and other scripts, adapting my books for film. Blue Dust : Forbidden, the first in the Blue Dust series, will be published in November by Ghostly Publishing. It’s now out on Kindle. This too is based on my own experiences as an ‘alien’ and was born out of my struggles of being an immigrant. The other book, still to be named, will also be published later next year, which is great as I had a load of complimentary and encouraging rejections from people who thought it a ‘bit weird’. It’s been a long journey getting to this point, but worth every minute of aching arms and back and an ever increasing file of ‘This is great but it’s not for us’-type letters.

3)  Who is your ideal reader? 

For Blue Dust: Forbidden and the series, ideally pre-teen and teenage girls, but though the book has romance it’s not soppy and there is loads of action and adventure, humour too. Boys will also enjoy it and of course the theme of feeling alien and not fitting in, is universal so adults who read fantasy will take pleasure in it too I hope. It’s sort of ‘multi-genre’ and I’m hoping it will appeal to a wide audience.

4)  Describe your path to publication. Has this experience met/exceeded your expectations?

It’s been hard getting to this point. I broke into television surprisingly easily and was expecting publishing to be the same, but it’s a whole other beast – everyone with a computer these days thinks they’re a writer. I’ve had loads of rejection – am thinking of wallpapering my lounge with all the rejection letters- but most were complimentary and encouraging and no one actually said ‘your work is rubbish’. I took that as something positive. Despite being told once that I had more chance of being eaten by a great white shark while being struck by lightning, than I did of writing a best seller, I chose to ignore that advice and with the support of friends and family, soldiered on, wrote constantly and took advice from wise editors. Being offered a publishing deal was a dream come true – sounds so cliché, but it was amazing and I’m finding it all fantastic, though a bit scary. Nothing is ever as you imagine it to be, but being an actual author with a book deal is everything I hoped and has certainly met my expectations. Now all I need to do is sell a couple of million copies.

5)  How do you promote your work? What methods have worked best for you?

I’m new at this all, so am trying to get my head round the whole social media thing. I’m amazed at how much Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook are increasing interest in the book. I’ve done a small amount of local press so far, but will step it all up as the release date approaches. Of course I’m hoping for radio and newspaper interviews that will spread the news.

6)  Who are your favorite authors? What is on your reading list right now?

I have a very eclectic taste. I love thrillers – Jo Nesbo, Christina Lackberg, John Grisham, Dick Francis but also Jane Austen, Dickens, and writers like Kate Atkinson, Zadie Smith, Alexander McSmith. I’m currently reading The Glass Room by Simon Mawer and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Maggoch. I’m also reading Un lun dun by China Mieville and am about to start Jimmy Threepwood and the Veil of Silence by Rich Pitman, another of the Ghostly Publishing authors. It’s a fine balance between writing my own stuff and reading the works of other great writers.

7) Describe a typical day in your life.

I get up, check emails, read the news on the BBC website, Twitter, Facebook stuff, re-read what I wrote the day before and get stuck in. I try to write every day for as long as possible – a bad back makes sitting for too long tricky – so I’ll have a short walk or go for a swim- my latest craze is aqua zumba, which is more like flapping about in water in time to music and is hilarious, then back to carry on writing. I often work late into the night as I work in short bursts. I’m finding the social media taking up a lot of my time, so am having to re-organise my time. I also take lunch off to watch my 2 favourite Ozzie soaps. I enjoy watching telly or a film in the evenings. I’ll often get an idea as I drift off to sleep and will get up to jot it down before trying again. Somehow the moments before slumber are very creative. I’ve spoken to a number of writers who experience the same. I tell myself a story as I go to sleep too, usually what happens in the next chapter or book or series of books. Most of the time this puts me right to sleep. Hmmm….

8)  What projects do you have in the works?

The sequel to Blue Dust: Forbidden, due to be published next year. I feel a third book in the series brewing too. I’m also percolating another series, still in the ‘thoughts in my head’ stage. I also try to work on film (adapting books) and televisions scripts to give myself a bit of variety. Another book of mine will be published next year too, but I need to work on a few issues, so am mulling over these at the same time.

9)     What advice would you offer to aspiring authors?

Never give up! Write as much as you can, get a good editor – never send in the first draft, take advice from said good editors, don’t expect your family and friends to be much use in giving an honest opinion on your writing – unless they’re writers too, Learn how to rewrite, rewrite and rewrite, try not to be too ‘precious’ about your work. Sometimes you have to delete a sentence or paragraph or even chapter you love because it doesn’t contribute to the work as a whole. Read a lot, take time to find your own voice and the genre that suits you best. Never surrender!

Author Bio

I was born and raised in South Africa where I qualified as a teacher, teaching English and Music. I wrote five children’s musicals that were published in SA and sold extensively throughout the country and Africa, and are still being performed over there. I left teaching to become a full-time television scriptwriter in 1994, working on an award winning South African children’s programme, Kideo. I entered a nationwide scriptwriting competition and was selected to be on the writing team of Generations, a multi-lingual soap. I also wrote advertising copy, radio jingles and adverts and then moved into writing textbooks and readers for illiterate and semi-literate adults. I worked on CD rom voiceovers for the Independent Electoral Committee before the first democratic elections. Some of my music was performed to the United Nations observers and was also recorded and broadcast on South African television. I’ve also written corporate video scripts and created and directed a children’s series for Impact media in SA. I emigrated to the UK in 2000 and became a naturalised citizen in 2005. Since being in the UK I’ve written a number of animation scripts for Waterston TV (in development) and also wrote an Easter programme for the Swaziland Communication Department. I’ve completed two children’s fantasy books and an adult political thriller, and am working on an animation script. Blue Dust : Forbidden, the first in the Blue Dust series, will be published in November by Ghostly Publishing. It’s now out on Kindle.

Contact Katy

Twitter @katykrump

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: Anna Church

1) Tell us a bit about who you are, and where you live and work.

I am a retired teacher that is an author and a co-illustrator for Hug-A-Bug Travel series and the president Mighty Lion Ventures Pub. LLP. I live in Houston, Texas with my husband and two Schnauzers. I have two married children and am a proud grandparent with four grandchildren. Two of my grandchildren are adorable twin girls!

2) Describe your journey to becoming an author/ illustrator. Which came first?

I have always doodled as a child creating critters in my sketches. I became an author after my 2 children went to high school. My husband and my two children encouraged me to publish my stories I used to tell my students when I was an elementary teacher, especially when I taught overseas. There are many children out there that need hugs in this world. When I taught in Indonesia is when Hug-A-Bug became a tool in my classroom.

3) Do you prefer to write for children? Why?

Yes, I do. I feel that their needs to be less wordy books for children to enjoy but learn from the same time about other cultures and be sensitive to others needs.

4) What mediums do you prefer to use in your artistry? 

I draw using pencil sketches and than my co-partner, Nicole Taylor, utilizes the Illustrator software program to embellish it. Also, for the background, I use my own photos from when I lived or visited that country.

5) Tell us about your latest project.

Our second book to our Hug-A-Bug Travels series, Hug-A-Bug Travels to Greece is the one we will be launching before December 2012. The goal for the book is for children to discover Greece, language phrases, and meet a rare animal that needs a hug.

6) Who are your favorite authors? What is on your reading list right now? 

E.B.White for children’s book- She is very creative in telling her story about a pig and a spider’s venture on a farm. Virginia Brown’s Diva series for adult books- She uses humor and mystery at the same time in her stories. Also, John Grisham- He is well researched and a detailer telling his stories. It is one of those books you can’t put down until you finish it. For recent ones, I just finished reading The Dog Prince, so I could write a short review for the author, Fun London. I am also reading The Wake Up and Dream Challenge by Barbara Lavi.

7) How do you promote your work? What methods have worked best for you? 

Active social media for marketing. I have found that if someone picks up our book or goes to our website to look at it, they always ask where can they purchase it. I am not a hard salesperson. The book sells itself because of its vivid illustrations and it is not wordy. As a teacher I have discovered that children always reach for the books that have lots of colorful illustrations and less words and interact with them.

8) What are your upcoming plans for the rest of 2012? 

Our next book my partner and I will be creating is the third of the series, Hug-A-Bug Travels to Peru.

9) What is your definition of success? 

Never give up on your dreams. Just keep chugging along like the book, The Little Engine That Could. I always tell myself and my students to memorize this saying, “I can do it; I will do it; I did it!

10) What advice would you offer to aspiring illustrators? 

Find your style and embellish on it. Most importantly, set up a website and a Facebook page to get known.

About the Author

Anna was born on an Iowa farm. However, when she got married and had two children she became a world traveler. She now has four grandchildren, but still has time to create her books with her partner, Nicole Taylor.

The creation of the little bug that just wanted a hug sprouted from a character the author, Anna Church, had been using for years in her classes. After retiring, she finally had the time to work on creating her series for all children across the world. She has a B.S. and a M.S. in Elementary Education and has taught many years overseas. Her books and vivid illustrations are based on her overseas experiences and background in early childhood development. In her books she strives to entertain and help children discover other cultures, languages and famous geographical places in a fun and inviting environment. Through their journey they learn the importance of caring for others around you and that everyone needs a hug from time to time.

When she is not writing or illustrating children’s books, she is enjoying time with her grandchildren, designing jewelry, studying yoga or hiking in new places. 

Contact Anna

FB author page :
Personal FB: