How To Create Great Cover Art

‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ is the saying, but let’s be honest, it is what we all do. At least if I’m honest, it is a big part of the decision to pick up a book or not, especially a tree book (physical book) but even an e-book could be dismissed if the cover looks like something a six year old would have come up with. Not bad if it’s a book aimed for that age group, but it’s not something you want if you are looking for the mature reader.

 

Cover Cranford Bad      Cover Cranford

Take the two covers above. To the right is the one by Penguin Classics and shows basically what the book is about with the right feel to it. Left is … Well, let’s say it’s a bit of a crowded picture and I don’t see what it has to do with the story behind the cover.

There’s a lot of things that can make or break your work but the very first thing, after you’ve written that masterpiece, you need to create a great cover for your book, and for that you must have a great picture. One that covers what the book is about and not just one you like.

There are many places to find good photos to use as cover art for your book. I always like to browse Flickr to find pictures to match the stories I write or create a cover for, and if you do an advanced search for pictures with a Creative commons license, chances are you can use the image for free. However, even if it’s under creative commons, you still have to make sure it’s available for commercial use and if you are allowed to alter it. Also remember that it’s always nice, and good manners to let the owner of the picture know you are going to use his–or her–picture and to what purpose. Most of the times the photographer will be pleased to hear their work will be published and might even help you with promotion once you publish.

I promised the owner of that beautiful Red Ridinghood photo–which I am using as the basis for my cover–a copy of the book and of course being mentioned as the photographer. It has resulted in a great working relation with Lee Turnbull and two great covers.
cover Red Gone Bad         a-menu-of-death-final-full-KLM
If you have money to spend and want a picture by a renowned photographer rather than support an upcoming great artist, you can always look for commercial content, sometimes those aren’t that expensive either. On sites like Istockphoto you can find pictures, not even that expensive. I’ve seen very nice ones for only $13 and high resolution, which you need if you want to be able to use it for a print too.There are many more sites with loads and loads of content to chose from, but these are the ones I prefer to browse.And then there’s ImageShack not a site to find pictures to use as cover, but certainly useful to upload your own pictures for safe keeping and sharing with others. They allow you to embed, or link to pictures on their site.
Now that you’ve found the perfect picture and the photographer has agreed for you to use and alter the photo for that cover the real work begins. Creating a cover is not as easy as you might think it is. Which font is the right one to use for the by line, the title, where to place those, do you need to add or remove anything from the picture?
The cover for Red Gone Bad for example started with the below picture. Great work of art, but too busy to use as a cover and however beautiful that lens flare is, it has no place on a book cover. So get rid of the ‘tossed salad’, the flare and to be able to place the title and by line in the right place the image was flipped.
Original RGB
The artist, Lee Turnbull, was very happy with the end result and up till this day we have a great contact, even developed a kind of friendship, and a working relation that serves us both, because I will depend on his great eye to shoot the cover for The Power Of Three too.
So, with the right picture you’re not there yet. You need to either learn how to use Photoshop, of Gimp which I prefer for the simple reason it is free software, easy to use and does everything Photoshop does too. There’s an abundance of tutorials on Gimp all over the interwebz, but I quite liked the Gimptalk forum.
How do you get your covers? Create them yourself? Buy them and get disappointed every now and then, or do you have friends helping you, like I have when I’m stuck and can’t see where to take the cover I’m working on.

Featured Author – Adele Symonds

Adele

Good morning Adele, I’m glad you could stop by. I know you’ve been extremely busy lately so I’m honoured you cleared time in your schedule to do this interview with me.

Let’s not waste precious time and kick off.

What do you like most about the writing process? Editing or writing?

I love editing other people’s work but hate editing my own. It is so much easier to see others mistakes than your own, just as it easier to give advice than receive it.

How right you are Adele. Lot’s of people don’t have a clue on how to receive and digest honest advice, but that’s a whole other discussion.

What do you write? Prose or Poetry?

I write a little of both but definitely more poetry. My poetry is a need, it is a release of emotions felt and situations experienced as they happen. This is not something I can write to demand very often. My prose as present only consists of 3 or 4 short stories but I have plans for a full series of novels.

That’s an impressive goal, one you must see through. 🙂

But are you a reader too?

I am an avid reader and always have been.

Is there a book you kept reading over and over again?

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens – I was given a presentation edition when I was 12 and it is one of my most treasured possessions.

You lucky woman! Keep that one safe and keep reading it, it is one of the great classics

Do you ever review books and what do you do when the book at hand is … Well let’s say it could use the hand of an editor. 

I review every book that I read but I very rarely accept books specifically for review anymore because I have turned my hand to editing now. I was reviewing so many badly edited books which had the potential to be 4 or 5 star rated that I wanted to do something to help these authors.

If I read a book which is so badly edited that I would have to give it a very poor review I contact the author and give them the opportunity to re-edit before I publish the review. If I find a book published by a big name publisher which still contains errors then I contact them telling them specifically which errors in the hope that I will get a response.

I edit at very reasonable and affordable prices so that authors with very little money can still afford the editing process which is so essential to making a good book, great.

Oh, that is a wonderful opportunity for lots of indies out there who need an editor but think they can’t afford one. Where can they contact you?

Editing requests can be made at adelesymonds.editor@gmail.com

Do you have a book published too?

I have one book published so far which is a collection of poems.

What is the title and did you have any difficulty coming up with a title?

The title is A Star is Born: 6 months in the life of a poet.

A Star is Born Cover

Available on Amazon UK and US

I had no trouble choosing this title as Adele means ‘little star’ and my life as a poet was just beginning, hence I was being born as a poet and a new life and a new start could begin for me.

You were indeed born a star and a poet! 

Is there anything you want to tell us in particular about the book?

The poems in this first book were written over a very difficult six month period in my life so the subject matter of the poems are not light and fluffy, they are quite dark and revealing of my feelings at the time. There are a couple of high points and every poem has a short commentary to explain its significance. The poems I write in the six month period following on from this will be published in October and hopefully there will be more high points and the readers will be able to follow my journey through my ups and downs by reading my poetry and sharing a little of my life.

What you are telling us here makes me want to read your work. I bet there’s more readers eager to get their hands on it.

Do you have a fixed writing routine or are you a ‘spur of the moment’ kind of author?

Poems are definitely spur of the moment.

Short stories are as and when I can fit them in.

Editing is a fixed schedule. Minimum of 3 hours per day depending on how much work I have. One morning hour. One afternoon hour. One evening hour. Monday’s and Tuesday’s off. This has to be a slightly flexible schedule as to which hours I do dependant on when my pain levels are at their best but it works for me.

Being sick and having to work isn’t easy, I’m glad you manage the way you do.

When you write is there any beverage or snack you have at hand?

No, I find it too distracting. I take a break once an hour for a cup of coffee.

Ah, the great coffee god who is worshipped by almost every author. 🙂

So you can’t give me a recipe?

No, coffee is coffee although I would love to have some real ground coffee.

Yes, that is the best thing, freshly ground coffee for your brew. Let me get us some.

And finally can you tell us something about yourself none has ever heard before?

I am a very open person, possibly too much so, therefore I am not sure there is anything that people don’t know about me apart from specifics which I am keeping for my memoir when I finally write it.

To wrap this up neatly let me tell the readers where they can find you online.

www.facebook.com/authoradelesymonds?fref=ts

Adele I’d like to thank you again for your time and honesty. I was very glad you were here and hope you’ll be back sometime soon. 

Featured Author – Jo Robinson

JR

Today my dear friend Jo Robinson is here to answer my questions and I do so hope she’s brought Beep Beep or any of her other feathered palls with her.

Hi Jo my dear. (kisses her friend on the cheeks) Sit down, have a nice glass of pink bubbles and some cheese and chocolate to nibble on. There. Comfortable? Okay, here we go.

Can you give me your best Whoop? Unless you have another one which works better for you?

Whoop dee doooo!!!  Or in as my UK friends would say, Jolly Dee!

Hahahaha, it sounds like a winner. Must try it out too, later. 🙂 But does it work all the time, even those times when the muse has gone and done a runner on you? And when did you first start with it?

The book I have coming out on 8th February, I started in November last year for the NaNoWriMo event.  Because you have to keep up with the word count there, you have to write on through, even if your muse is away at the pub, drinking and carousing.  My muse often comes to work with a terrible hangover, and smelling of curative omelette breakfasts.  When I went back to edit and complete it, I found that my muse actually works very well under the influence.  It was a good draft.  My first book was over-edited as I wrote it, and will only come out after this one, even though it was started quite a while ago.  I only started writing about three years ago.  This is all very new to me.

Still it sounds to me like you are on the right track. I’m very curious to your new book, but I’ll have to wait a bit I guess. 🙂

Let’s do a few of the yada yada questions before we move on to the fun.

What is the title of the book you would like to talk about?

Shadow People

cover shadow people

Great cover! I know you paint, did you do the artwork for this one too?

Did you have difficulty coming up with the title?

No.  In fact, I started out with the title, and the book grew from there.  To begin with I had no idea what form these shadows would take.

If you would have to change the genre, what would it be then?

This book is a mix of science-fiction, fantasy, with bits of everything else thrown in.  If it had to be changed, it could be horror/fantasy.  There are some nasty demons in there, as well as beautiful alien dragon birds.  And a chicken.

Just to confuse you we’ll take the alternative route now.

What don’t you like about writing, or whatever you need to do marketing wise?

I haven’t actively marketed my short stories on Amazon, and am always amazed when someone buys them.  So far no horrible reviews though, and I’m happy that people are enjoying them.  I do plan on marketing the two upcoming novels as well as I can.  It is time consuming building your marketing base, but there’s fun along the way too, and satisfaction knowing that you put the hours in.  I love interacting with people anyway.  I don’t like editing so much.  Some research can also be tedious, but other than that, I love everything about writing.  There’s nothing better than watching your own stories come alive.

Tell me, when your muse is visiting and you’re on a roll, what would seriously drive her/him away?

Constant interruptions send my muse off to the bar.  Also, if I’m feeling ill, I can’t seem to write anything but wood.  Fortunately, I’m normally pretty healthy.

What does your muse look like?

My muse is a mini-me.  So, she’s gorgeous, even after a good night out.

Hahahaha, indeed gorgeous all the time, any time! And good people!

Do you ever speak to your characters and do you get along all the time?

I often hear my characters speaking in my head.  African Me was a difficult book to write, because of the extreme highs and lows.  I had myself laughing and crying when I started the edit.  Which is probably a good thing.  Shadow People was pure pleasure, although my demonic Nefandus did give me a nightmare or two when I first created them.

Can you name the food and drink that will surely get you started?

Pink champagne, cheese, and chocolate can get me started on pretty much anything at all.  I generally forget to eat when I’m on a writing roll.  Only when those around me start complaining of severe neglect, do I generally feel a hunger pang.

Would you be able to come up with an excuse on why you haven’t written a whole day, and have me believe it too?

I was marketing.  Really.  You do have to chat all day, you know.  It’s not my fault, really….  Drank too much champagne the night before?  Fell down a manhole?  Got attacked by an angry crab?

Wheeeeeheeeee! All very believable. 🙂 Especially since it was me you were drinking the champagne with. 🙂 Good thing we managed to wrestle down the crab.

And finally why would you ever want to live life behind a keyboard slaving over a manuscript?

This is a question I asked a very dear friend just yesterday.  Having a bit of a fight with severe malaria, these last two weeks, considering the real possibility of death, and being the generally dramatic soul that I am, I asked, “Am I doing the right thing?  Should I be spending the hours allocated to me on this planet in front of a computer screen?”  She said that doing what you love to do can never be wrong, and the joy of holding your books in your hands, as the fruits of those many hours spent writing, or even marketing for that matter, is more than enough to let you know that living behind a keyboard, slaving over a manuscript, is exactly what you want to do.  So the answer is, because I’m doing what I love to do.

Okay, now that we have the mandatory questions out of the way, shoot your mouth off. Tell me whatever you want the blab about. But please no cat’s, dogs, or children. Make me laugh, or cry, or even envious. Tell me something none has ever heard before from you. hehehe, love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂

Well now.  If I told you my dirty secrets, you would be terribly shocked, and never speak to me again.  I laugh at silly things.  If I type tit instead of tip, I laugh until I cry.  I like to sprinkle my writing with laughter.  I also like to plumb the depths of human feelings, and write about the darker things in life.  So, that’s probably why there are two of me.  My science-fiction self Jo Cavell, who can be a bit gothic and dour, and then there’s me, who can be pretty much anything at all.  Except a singer apparently.  People have been quite rude about that.  Birds scatter from the trees when I sing along to GaGa, who I love, apart from the weird meat clothes.  What’s up with that, by the way?  I live in Zimbabwe, in the bush, and am pretty much used to getting plagues of bugs and things around.  Sometimes animals come in uninvited.   I once had a bush rat run across my keyboard, which made me scream, and fall flat on my bum.  I got chased by a hippopotamus while innocently peeing under a tree, and I’ve come face to face with a screeching baboon.  Oh yes, I can run.  Other than the occasional brush with death, visiting frogs strolling around the kitchen, or walking into walls in sudden power outages, life here is not too exciting.  Which is why it’s so lovely to write books.

Jo! Next time you’re face to face with a mad baboon just sing!

Now, all together! Hands in the air and cheer on Jo Robinson as she sings her way to fame.

Jo,  would like to thank you for popping in and answering my questions. I know we’ll speak again soon and just wait for my review on Shadow People. Coming soon to a blog near you. 🙂 

That wraps things up for now. Leaves me only with telling the folks where they can find you online, and not unimportant where to buy your books! 

Jo Robinson (aka Jo Cavell) is to be found at Amazon, Facebook, her blog, on Goodreads, and on Google+ at Readers Meet Authors and Bloggers. Don’t forget to follow her on Twitter too. 🙂

Shadow People

cover shadow people

Available through Amazon

Fly Birdie

cover Fly Birdy

Amazon

The Visitation

cover Visitation

Amazon

Featured Author – Vickie Johnstone

Finally, after a reschedule, she is here! Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce to you *drumroll* the ‘mother’ of Kiwi, Vickie Johnstone.

vickie johnstone crop 2 lighter

 

As you can see she is a lady with a pleasant smile, but when you’ll read what she has to say you will discover she is also a wonderful writer.

Welcome Vickie and thank you for granting me the pleasure of featuring you and Kiwi, and of course the rest of your work. I know you love poetry too and … Oh, never mind me, this is about you. So let me start by telling the readers a bit about you before we get on with the interview.

What I know about Vickie. (not by my investigation or stalking discovered facts, she told me. Really, she did!)

Vickie lives in London, UK, and works as a freelance layout sub editor. Her first book, Kiwi in Cat City, was written in 2002, and she has scribbled stories and poetry all her life. Since the beginning of 2011, Vickie has written eleven books and is currently working on some new ideas. Her loves include cats, reading, films, travelling, rock music, Castle, The Walking Dead, tea, the sea, sleeping and Milky Bar.

Vickie has self-published the following books:

Kaleidoscope (poetry); Travelling Light (poetry); Life’s Rhythms (haiku); 3 Heads and a Tail (comedy romance); Kiwi in Cat City (magical cat series for middle grade readers); Kiwi and the Missing Magic; Kiwi and the Living Nightmare; Kiwi and the Serpent of the Isle; Kiwi in the Realm of Ra; Kiwi’s Christmas Tail; Day of the Living Pizza (comedy detective series for middle grade readers), Day of the Pesky Shadow and The Sea Inside. The Kiwi Series has illustrations by Nikki McBroom.

As you can read Vickie is an incredible prolific author and person in general, and she likes chocolate (even if it’s Milky Bar 🙂 )

Vickie, now that the peeps know you a little can you answer some questions I have for you? Careful! Don’t gulp down that delicious tea. There’s no rush, have another Milky Bar and then, when you’re ready for it, let’s get a move on with the interview. I’m so curious what you have to say.

Can you tell me how you celebrate finally getting that tricky chapter (or para) right?

I probably do a silent ‘yee-ha’ or a loud “yeee-eeeees”, followed by a grin and maybe a punch in the air! Anyone would think I’d just won a marathon! Sometimes though, you finish the very last line and it’s like wow, but then silence, and you close the laptop and you’re not sure what to do. But normally I’m like yee-ha and fancy a glass of something or some chocolate. Today I finished re-editing my newest book again and I just had a gigantic smile. It’s 10pm, so a little too late to celebrate. I’ll probably just watch an episode of Castle cos I just love it.

Okay, sounds like you know how to party. But how do you work around those moments when the muse has gone and done a runner on you?

I hate those times. In the past I never finished anything. I was crap at that. I started stories and never completed them. I wrote a lot of poetry though, probably cos I wrote it in ten minutes, so totally different thing. I lacked the determination and grit to see my projects through to the end. What kicked my butt was discovering Kindle self-publishing, so my writing suddenly had a point. That got me writing and finishing stuff – that became my muse – that there was a point to it, besides just scribbling. Likewise, I did NaNo 2011. It showed me that writer’s block doesn’t really exist – just tiredness, laziness, procrastination, and lack of inspiration or drive, or at least on my part. Laziness is my bad habit. So, that was another kick and a new muse. Then at the end of last year, I had a block for about six weeks. I didn’t realise at first, but then I started counting the days. It worried me, but then I realised I was just tired and needed a short break. I switched to writing a poem a day. It helped. I think when it happens and the muse goes, you just have to sit down and write anything. Just describe a picture, write a poem or anything. It really helps. Or do something else and try later in the day. Writing is a good habit.

Right, you have a winning formula there. 🙂 Something authors suffering from a block could try too.

Now, let’s first do a few of the yada yada questions before we move on to the fun. And by yada yada I do not mean boring, or in any other way stupid questions, but just the traditional ones. You know? The ones we secretly all want to know the answer to.

First, what is the title of the book you would like to talk about?

The Sea Inside, which I should be publishing this week. I just need to final read some bits again, work on the cover, and format it. It’s a fantasy novel about a sixteen-year-old girl who is in an accident. She is in a coma and wakes with serious injuries. An enigmatic old woman gives her a mysterious gift, which opens up an alternative world. In the book, she has to face her fears and find the strength in herself to succeed. Themes include coming-of-age, fantasy, romance and time.

It sounds like another great book. Did you have difficulty coming up with the title?

No, that was one of the few things I didn’t have a problem with. I think I might have even started with it. This book was tough. Most of my books are for children, but this one is for anyone from teenagers up, so it’s older and there’s more to it, and it was difficult. I started writing it in 2009, and I kept stopping. In 2009 I wrote the section up to when Jayne reaches the other world, and then I got stuck. I only really made a big dive back into it in 2011, and I did loads this year. Finally, I thought! So it’s a big accomplishment to me just because I kept getting stuck. I start writing without knowing where a book is going to go, and it didn’t quite jell with this one. I kept going blank!

If you would have to change the genre in order to be able to publish it, what would it be then? i.e. would you conform to the market?

The genre is fantasy. I guess there’s some coming-of-age stuff and romance in there too, but it’s mainly fantasy. I just write really and don’t think about the genre too much. One of my books, 3 Heads & a Tail, is hard to pigeonhole. It crosses genres. I thought it was a comedy romance and put it forward to a romance editor once, but she told me it isn’t mainstream enough. Apparently it’s a niche book with a narrow market. One of the characters is a dog, you see, and he has a big role in the book. That’s the problem, but to me he was the joy of the book. I loved writing him. He’s the hero and I love him. I couldn’t write the book any other way; hence I’ve no idea how to market it because of the fantasy dog element. I guess I didn’t conform there. I wrote it for NaNoWriMo 2011, so I blame the craziness on that!

3 Heads Kindle NEW MARCH COVER

Vickie! What nonsense about it being a niche market. If it’s a fantasy/romance with a dog starring that’s big time main stream. Think of all the Beethoven films, What’s that mean big red cat’s name, and the penguin movies, and Madagascar and … I could go on for hours, there’s so many stories starring animals who are the hero.

With that out of the way and to confuse you we’ll take the alternative route now.

What don’t you like about writing.

Marketing. End of. It’s the only thing I don’t like. I find it hard, but necessary, but I like helping other authors to market their books. It’s fun if it succeeds and you see them doing well.

What do you do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to your books?

Paid advertising has been the best thing so far. I paid for an advert with Kids’ Corner of Kindle Nation Daily in December, and I had a rocket-load of downloads for my children’s book, Kiwi in Cat City, which is normally ranking around 400,000-600,000! However, sales sank back down to normal after a week or so. But I sold a lot of ebooks and some paperbacks, so I was happy. A lot to me is probably not a lot to many writers though. I don’t see big sales, so to sell 20 is a big bundle!

What else? Okay, I blog on my blog, waffle, post poems and writing, get involved in blog hops and interview writers, and review books (though I’ve run out of reading time lately). I’m also in the Facebook writers’ groups a lot, but that’s more for chatting and support, and just promote in the promo areas/groups. I use twitter. I’m on a tweet team.

Lately I’ve been doing a two-week blog hop to push a $0.99 offer on Kiwi in Cat City, organised by Kim of Master Koda (big thanks there), and I’m seeing sales. It’s extraordinary. Everyone is helping one another on these and it’s working. I don’t know how long it will work for, but it’s amazing so far. There are many websites where you can list a book offer for free or just for $5 or $10, so I’ve done those. At the end of the two weeks, we’ll see what was most successful.

Do share the results with us, because most indies love to hear those kind of figures and especially what works and what not.

Tell me, when you’re on a roll, the muse is in the house and happily guiding your pen, what would seriously drive her/him away?

Ah, if something disturbed me or I felt sleepy. Tiredness equals bed. Hungry equals go get something. Or my cat is mewing for food or to go out, only to want to come back in again after four minutes – she does a lot of that. I think it’s because she hates my laptop. It takes up her space! The other thing is if I’ve been writing a lot and just get tired – the writing gets stale, so you’ve got to stop!

What does your muse look like and does he/she ever play tricks on you?

She changes. Sometimes she’s a black cat sparkling with a purple rush of magic, sometimes a ginger tom in a red waistcoat investigating something, sometimes a Labrador barking at a frisbee, sometimes a butterfly that inspires a poem; sometimes a zombie that looks like a pizza; and sometimes she’s a sixteen-year-old girl who dreams of the sea. It depends. And tomorrow it could be something else entirely.

Do you ever speak to your characters and do you get along all the time?

I like it when they jabber. It’s when they go quiet that I worry. I can’t imagine Glen the dog from 3 Heads & a Tail getting on with the cats in Cat City, but I figure that Whiskers the mouse might be able to give the zombies a run for their money.

Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either your books or life?

There are grass milkshakes and mouse biscuits in Cat City, so, erm, that’s not a reflection from life, and neither are Glen’s doggy biscuits! But tea and coffee are mainstays in 3 Heads & a Tail. I’m a tea girl, as I’m a Brit, though I’ve weaned myself down to two or three cups a day now, in a bid to drink more water. Ah, and there’s lots of water in The Sea Inside. Ah, and pizza… you’ll find a lot of that in Day of the Living Pizza, but it’s walking and it’s out to get you!!! Mmm, I fancy pizza, but it has to be veggie. I had one with avocado on the other day and it was so nice, but I’m digressing, and now I’m hungry!

Would you be able to come up with a credible excuse why you haven’t written a whole day? Remember, I have to believe it!

The cat killed my laptop. Or Glen tried to eat it.

Hahaha, Really? The cat? I always knew cat were not to be trusted. 🙂

And finally why would you ever want to live life behind a keyboard slaving over a manuscript?

Because I love it! And I guess I’m crazy.

Okay now that we have the mandatory questions out of the way, shoot your mouth off. Tell me whatever you want the blab about. But please no cat’s, dogs, or children. Make me laugh, or cry, or even envious. Tell me something none has ever heard before from you. hehehe, love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂

I’ve been stumped on this question. I just can’t think. I’ve done so many embarrassing or clumsy things in my time, but they’re not going in. Some great things I did involved travelling. I went to Australia, Canada, Ireland and Alaska on my own, and every trip was awesome. It also got me out of my shyness a bit, though not entirely! I almost did a parachute jump twice in Australia, but it was cancelled due to strong winds, so I rescheduled. Then a little voice in my head told me it was fate and that I’d probably plunge to my death, so I cancelled it, and lost my deposit. Also flew in a little plane over Mount McKinley and tried to kick my vertigo by walking over the Capilano Bridge in Vancouver (70 metres above a river). It didn’t work. I stood in the middle saying “shit, shit, shit” as it swayed, until some nice gentlemen urged me across with “you can do it”. But I was rewarded with the sight of a red squirrel, which you never see in London!

Also, I got the greatest surprise today, so it’s a little brag. I entered the National Indie Excellence Book Awards 2013, and Kiwi and the Serpent of the Isle was a finalist in the children’s section. I was so thrilled that I felt sick. Then I was crying. Then I was jumping. I was so happy. First time I’ve got anywhere in a writing competition. Made me feel on top of the world.

cover kiwi isle

Vickie! That is amazing. 🙂 Congratulation! ‘m sure you’ll win. Please come back and tell us if you did win.

I guess that wraps it up. The only thing left for me to do is tell the folks where they can find you online.

Vickie has a Blog, she’s on Twitter with this handle @vickiejohnstone, then there’s the Kiwi Series website, her FB author pagethe FB Kiwi Series page, her FB poetry page, and finally her FB editing service page.

As you can see she’s out there but not spread too thin. Her books are available all over the world and to make it easier for you I’ll link to her author pages on several venues. There you can see all the books on one page and pick which one you’d like to buy and read.

Amazon US page: http://www.amazon.com/Vickie-Johnstone/e/B004SZ9TGE/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Amazon UK page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Vickie-Johnstone/e/B004SZ9TGE/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Smashwords page: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/vixie

B&N page: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/vickie-johnstone

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Kiwi-in-Cat-City/book-jm0m1l5-ZEmfDuZMKsJNNQ/page1.html?s=bElFeq1NAUOraYWcXFrR3w&r=1

But as a little treat Vickie provided me with some additional info on her books. Enjoy these snippets and do let us know if you enjoyed both the interview and her books.

The Kiwi Series

kiwi 1 cover new with paw new quote

Adventures of a magical cat and friends (written for readers aged 9-14)

Have you ever wished your cat could talk or wondered where he/she goes when you are not around? Kiwi in Cat City is the first book in the Kiwi Series, of which there are six fun adventures so far. Kiwi seems like a typical moggie, content to nap in the sun, but she has a secret – she is a magical cat from a place called Cat City. With her two humans, James and Amy, Kiwi finds mysteries and adventures, dealing with catnappings, jewel thieves, giant mice, time travel, haunted houses, Father Christmas, pyramids and more. The fun stories contain positive messages about loyalty, friendship, honesty, bullying and the power of standing together. The books contain illustrations by Nikki McBroom.

Smarts & Dewdrop Mysteries

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Set in Crazy Name Town (written for readers aged 10 up)

Day of the Living Pizza

Detective Smarts of Crazy Name Town has a problem. Doctor Boring and his receptionist have been bumped off, and the only clues at the scene are some olives, tomatoes and a sprinkle of oregano. With the townsfolk dropping like flies and strange figures stumbling down the streets mumbling “Pizza”, Officer Dewdrop has an unusual idea.

Day of the Pesky Shadow

There is a new mind boggler to solve – who is the mysterious dark figure nicking knickers off washing lines, scaring cinema-goers and causing folks’ legs to go wibbly wobbly? Smarts and Dewdrop are hot on the trail.

3 Heads & a Tail

3 Heads Kindle NEW MARCH COVER

A comic fantasy with some romance and a dog as the hero (for readers aged 16 up)

Written for NaNoWriMo 2011, this quirky comedy contains some romance, a touch of fantasy and a very opinionated dog. When nature lover Josie moves into a house with two pals, dreamer Ben and model man David, she sees it as a short stop and doesn’t bank on an attraction developing with one of them. Meanwhile, Ben’s dog, Glen, has the hots for Miss Posh, the beautiful golden Labrador in the park. When dog meets dog it’s puppy love, but a complication leads to Glen taking matters into his own paws. In this comedy of errors, romance and walkies, it’s anyone’s guess who is going to win the girl/dog and live happily ever after.

Poetry

Kaleidoscope (119 poems), Life’s Rhythms (316 haiku) and Travelling Light (poetry – free on Amazon US)

The Sea Inside

Fantasy with romance and drama.

Sixteen-year-old Jayne wakes up in hospital after a terrible accident, which shatters the way she views herself and her life. While struggling to recover, she is visited by a mysterious woman who offers her a gift. To the girl’s astonishment, she finds herself in the mystical realm of Entyre, where life is quite different and power lies with the creatures of the deep. Jayne finds herself on a journey, which is both a physical and mental one. On her travels, she encounters many strange people and creatures. While some appear helpful, others can only bring peril.

But is it all real or just a product of her fertile imagination, brought on by her injuries and brain trauma? Faced with many possible paths in her life, which will she choose? The threads of time keep flowing and they will not stop. Jayne must decide what is real and who to trust, and regain her inner strength in order to discover herself and follow her true fate.

 

Featured Author – Pat Fitzhugh

I have the honour to introduce to you the featured author of today … (drumroll)

Pat Fitzhugh

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Hello Pat! Thanks for stopping by. Can you tell us a bit about yourself before we get to the interview? Oh, you have a real bio? Can’t you just tell us stuff? You know, like as if you’re really talking to us? You will? Great!

Beeing born and raised in Tennessee i began to appreciate Southern folklore and ghost stories at an early age. As a child my favorite story was the legend of the so-called “Bell Witch.”

Later research of the mystery culminated in “The Bell Witch: The Full Account,” which introduced many new, previously unpublished facts about the case. He was featured in the motion picture DVD, “An American Haunting,” starring Sissy Spacek and Donald Sutherland, and has appeared on many radio interviews and television documentaries about the supernatural.

In 2009 I penned down “Ghostly Cries From Dixie,” a compilation of weird and ghostly tales from the American South. And I also was a contributing author for “Weird U.S.,” published by Barnes and Noble Press, and have written many newspaper and magazine articles, editorials, and short stories.

My current projects include “From Turkey Creek – A Memoir,” a personal account of growing up on Kentucky Lake in rural west Tennessee; the thirteenth anniversary edition and rewrite of “The Bell Witch: The Full Account,” due in October 2013; a sequel to “Ghostly Cries From Dixie;” and the foreword to “The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge,” by historical fiction author Lori Crane. Also in the works “Tales of the Haunted Natchez Trace,” a collection of chilling stories about haunted locations along a primitive footpath between Mississippi and Tennessee.

And finally something to remember about me, “I write about ghosts, moonshine, and magnolias. My writing is an extension of every cup of moonshine sipped on a hot summer’s night, propped against life’s most inevitable and unfortunate truths.”

Pat, that is a wonderful saying. You have given your fan’s a quote they can use and remember you by. 😉

Now, where can your fans find you online?

On my Amazon Author Page

My Official Web Site

My Facebook Fan Page

Those are some pretty nice pages. 🙂 Now let’s get started with the interview.

Can you tell me how you celebrate finally getting that tricky chapter (or para) right?

“I’ll usually celebrate by going right into the next chapter or paragraph while the previous one is still fresh in my mind; it makes

transitions easier.  Also, I like to keep my rhythm going. Once I finally reach a stopping point after completing a tricky chapter (and then some), I’ll go for dinner and drinks.”

Okay, sounds like you know how to party. But how do you work around those moments when the muse has gone and done a runner on you?

“I’ll go fishing or hiking, or just sit at home and read.  If I’m really behind on a piece, I will start typing random, off the wall

stories and keep going until my creativity comes back.  That’s how some of my best work has begun.”

I think that is a great piece of advice to anyone suffering from a creativity blockage. 🙂 But I want to know about your current work.

First, what is the title of the book you would like to talk about?

“Ghostly Cries From Dixie”

haunted house

That is my kind of cover! Great, eerie and alluring. Just based on the cover I would want to read it.

But did you have difficulty coming up with the title?

“I thought about it for a while. I was stuck between “Ghostly Tales” and “Ghost Stories,” from Dixie.  Then one day I came to my

senses—both are trite, overused, and cliché.  One of writing’s biggest rules is to be original, and not base your work on stale,

overused, everyday terms and expressions. I chose “Cries” because it conveys tension, negativity, sadness, fear, helplessness, and similar emotions—emotions that are present in nearly all ghost stories.”

I think you made the right decision.

If you would have to change the genre in order to be able to publish it, what would it be then? i.e. would you conform to the market?

“My guiding life principle has always been, ‘If the rules don’t make sense, then make and play by your own rules!’ Fortunately, however, I don’t have to worry about that because the book is already published and I don’t write in a particular genre. There is no genre for the books I write. I suppose I could create one and call it, ‘Journalistic Analyses of Well-Known Ghost Stories and Haunted Locations,’ but that would be quite long! I suppose ‘Historical Fiction’ comes close.”

I like your life principle! By the by, what’s wrong with a long named new genre? But is it fiction? Or do those ghost really haunt us?

To another topic. What don’t you like about writing.

“Tough question. I love everything about writing. If I had to pick something I don’t like (and I take it that’s the case here), I’d have

to say that I don’t like getting stuck on a sentence or paragraph and spending a week or more trying to find exactly the right words and put them in exactly the right places. I am my strongest critic; I am never satisfied with anything I write. Conversely, I usually love what everyone else writes.”

What do you do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to your books?

“Having written and published books since the early 1980’s, I’ve tried almost everything.  Television and radio interviews work well, as do lectures and signings. If you analyze and execute it correctly, one such event will spawn another, then another, and so on. The more people I speak with directly, or come into contact with via face-to-face and personal handshakes, the more books I sell. Period. It all begins with a carefully-worded and timed press release. The internet (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) is okay, I suppose, but I’ve found social media better for building my personal author brand (and advertising my in-person events!) than for selling books.”

That’s exactly how I feel about it! I think you are a brave man, to go out into the world and actually speak in public! Eeps! Anyway, good to hear that those things work.

Tell me, when you’re on a roll, the muse is in the house and happily guiding your pen, what would seriously drive her/him away?

“Distractions will drive him/her away quickly. I can’t write unless I am in total silence; even the smallest distraction breaks my

concentration. It takes me a good 30 minutes for me to refocus.”

What does your muse look like and does he/she ever play tricks on you?

“Sometimes my muse is a temple; sometimes it’s a disco.”

Do you ever speak to your characters and do you get along all the time?

“As an author of ghost stories, all of my characters are dead; I don’t do séances.”

🙂

Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either books or life?

“Coffee. Black, no sugar.  Seven in the morning, eleven at night, always coffee.  If I’m not writing, I’ll do a Mountain Dew.”

Would you be able to come up with a credible excuse why you haven’t written a whole day? Remember, I have to believe it!

I can’t remember a day when I didn’t write at least something, although it’s usually just my signature on 20-30 checks (the front side).

And finally why would you ever want to live life behind a keyboard slaving over a manuscript?

I’m not happy unless I am actively achieving or accomplishing something; I have to keep moving at all times, unless I am asleep.

Sitting behind the keyboard enables me accomplish something worthwhile—a book!  It will be around for long after I’m dead and

gone; it’s a personal legacy item that I can be proud of (even if it sells only one copy)!

Okay now that we have the mandatory questions out of the way, shoot your mouth off. Tell me whatever you want the blab about. But please no cat’s, dogs, or children. Make me laugh, or cry, or even envious. Tell me something none has ever heard before from you. Hehehe, I love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂

“Ok. You asked for it! Lets’ see.  I once ate 42 dozen oysters on the half-shell (my favorite food) in one setting. I didn’t get sick.

While playing tackle in high school, I sacked an opposing team’s quarterback on the first play of a game, and it took him out for the

entire season. Four years later, he won the Heisman Trophy. And finally, I once saw ‘Bigfoot’ while hunting on horseback in Victoria, British Columbia. Ok! Ok! So I lied, but two out of three ain’t bad.

Hahahaha, you didn’t only made me believe each and every one of them, but I laughed out loud too! Thank you very much Pat for this pleasant visit and the small peek you gave me and my readers into you and your life.

I hope you will want to come back in future when you have a new release.

The only thing I need to do now is tell the folks where to buy your work.

“The Bel Witch: The Full Account @ Amazon

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Bell Witch Special Interest Page

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“Ghostly Cries From Dixie” @ Amazon