Friday, February 24, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: Paul Caballero

1)  Tell us how you became an artist/illustrator?

I could say I was born as an illustrator. Since I was a kid I liked painting and drawing a lot. In the beginning it was all about imitating my older brother who knew how to draw a five-fingered hand! I enjoyed drawing more than playing football so I decided that would be my way. Afterwards it’s all been about hard-working and drawing, drawing and drawing… 

2)  Do you specialize in any particular medium?

I trained in all styles in order to broaden my offer but the one I enjoy the most and what I do best is illustration for children’s books.

3)  Who or what inspires you?

I suppose I’ve always been a kid and I’ll always be in a way. That’s what helps me dream and imagine my parallel world where the characters I create come into life and that’s crazy… that’s simply happiness! I am also lucky I belong to a quite funny family and have had a life full of fun experiences in which I relay in order to create characters and stories.

 4)  What was your first illustration job?

The cover of a novel called Checkmate (Jaque al Rey) which I created for LOBHER publishing group.

5)  Describe your body of work. Thus far, which project has been the most fulfilling? Why?

I usually work in digital media due to the demand. But what differentiates my work is luminosity, brightness and colour of my final arts.

When it comes to the work I enjoyed the most I must say it’s the collection of stories I’m working on now where various typical children’s pathologies such as bed-wetting or fear of darkness are treated in a pedagogic way. In truly enjoying creating animal characters that bring those stories to life and I’ve been lucky to work with enthusiastic and professional people.

6)  What is your definition of success as an artist?

It’s quite simple: to be trusted to work on different projects, the public to like the project you worked at and that same project to be able to convey the correct message in a correct way. And learn, always learn and grow as an artist with every job.

You should never think you’ve achieved what you were looking for because that would mean you’re dead as an artist: innovation is essential for becoming a good artist.

7)  What do you plan to accomplish in 2012?

Work as much as possible and make myself known in other countries with the aim of working abroad.

Artist Bio

My name is Paul Caballero and I was born in Bilbao in 1981. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine arts at the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU). Right after graduating I moved to Madrid in order to specialize in animation, design and illustration It’s been two years now and I work as a professional illustrator.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: Robert Rajabally

1) Tell us how you became an artist/illustrator?

Like many artists, from an early age I was quite drawn to drawing (no pun intended!), keeping several types of drawing books and so on. By the end of High School, we all had to choose our college or university careers. I saw my classmates and friends sure of themselves and taking off into the usual careers to be dentists, lawyers, engineers and business administrators (this last was an attractive novelty for many in the mid-seventies in Brazil!). I had a lonely time deciding what to do with my life since none of those were my calling! Soon enough though, illustration came to my rescue as “the right thing to do” as it was what I loved the most. Also, I had two older brothers, more than 10 years my senior that were quite good artists in their chosen drawing and painting niches, but that never became professionals. Mostly I think, because at that time few risked working on their own without the certainty of a paycheck by the end of the month. They also did not know much about of how to go about it professionally. Anyway, I felt it was my calling both for me and to kind of fulfill what we all liked and wanted one of us to accomplish professionally. The conditions for taking up art school (for three years), instead of any nonsense college were ripe, and so I took the leap and hoped for the best. I did enter a fine arts college as my conscience dictated I should give it a try. Soon I saw it would interfere with setting up a professional career, with its lousy mid-afternoon hours and offering mostly what I could study on my own if I wanted. I soon realized that it would do little towards helping my career, because what mattered the most at that time (1977), was getting some real life working experience, learning to build my portfolio, visiting printing shops and, generally, learning the ropes of the industry; so I just suspended my enrollment then and there and never looked back. And that’s about it, as they say, the rest is history!

2) Do you specialize in any particular medium? Describe your style.

In Brazil, back in the seventies, very few could survive as an artist with just a single line of work. Besides, a lot in illustration interested me, so I became proficient in many types of art: from advertising to didactical art for schoolbooks, board games, lettering, logos and technical art. All this involved all types of media including pencil, pen and ink, paint and then the glorious days of airbrushing! The computer age with any prospect for art came quite late to Brazil, in the early 90s, and that changed everything! So I was one of those artists who had the privilege of having lived in two separate artistic ages, experiencing life before and after the computer, as it were! This gave me a healthy perspective and a good background to appreciate the value of both. We were all taken by surprise with this major shift; some artists I knew were shy of the computer and receded into artistic oblivion, others were intimidated by the machine and hated it for its unfathomable complexities and its imposing new skills and methods, with the same result. Fortunately, I enjoyed technology and looked forward to this new media, as that was how I always felt towards all media available. The reliability of these technologies eventually came of age and so did I.

From then on, I gradually began to “master” (God forbid!) both worlds: traditional art and digital renderings, enough to produce decent final art at least, both of necessity and because it was exciting stuff with all the possibilities entailed. Today, after leaving behind advertising and other kinds of art by choice, I am developing my mind’s eye work, a type of nature art, which I refer to as Naturalist Illustration & Design which is, in many ways, a world apart from the usual natural sciences art, botanical art etc. Aside from its purpose being quite different too, it employs several techniques that blend hand drawing, sketches and painting, digital photography, digital painting and photo manipulation/compositing as each piece calls for. Comics and children’s books and educational materials are also an important part of what I look forward to develop further with these same techniques. There’s still a lot to learn and create in this and I’m excited at the prospects!

3) Where do you live and work?

I live and work in Brazil, in a small city just an hour from São Paulo. This is an asset for me because I can live close enough but out of the oppressing bustling of a major city like São Paulo, closer to nature (I live in a region which is in a protected area of one of the last portions of Brazil’s Atlantic Forest). I have a small downtown studio where I can meet clients, work and give my classes, but I do all my illustration work from my home studio. Besides, in this day and age, of course, one can live almost anywhere and be closely connected through the internet, as we are now.

4) Who or what inspires you?

Though I did most types of illustration in my time to pay my bills as any other artist, I was never attracted, for instance, to art for advertising for all the falsehood and damages it is causing to humanity. I also always had a natural perception and strong connection with Nature themes and Spirituality. Perhaps it was tenacity for cherishing what was and is the most sacred in life but this was only possible because I was fortunate enough to be able to circumvent and outright avoid getting too close to common advertising and such and gradually craft my profession along these other lines, though not without the sacrifices entailed... I was inspired by many artists, writers and music as perhaps all artists are, but I can say that in my case, this inspiration is coherent and consistent with my life interests. Books such as the marvelous Secrets of the Soil (and the geniuses depicted therein), the great and seminal work shown in The End of Materialism, Sacred Geography and The Reflexive Universe, to musicians as diverse but uniquely connected as Rush, John Denver and the Moody Blues, plus authors such as Pietro Ubaldi, Rudolf Steiner and Ramatís, among many other like-minded giants, are the basic influence and drive behind whatever I have been able to create on my own. There were also tons of great artists that inspired me to improve my work and perspective, actually too many to name here without forgetting some, but say they range from the great Belgian artists of the 70s and 80s to so many breathtaking artists of today in many fields. My personal background comes from descending from British-Indian parents who came to Brazil soon after WWII. They gave me the unique conditions and cultural environment to foster and hone my spiritual development in a way that enabled me to blend these healthy influences into a single clear vision for my ongoing work as a Naturalist Illustrator and author.

Alongside that background formation and inspiration, I wish to add that there’s new stuff unfolding today that demands our focused attention and best awakened perception to see and connect with the world changes that are taking place. Changes that are bringing a new level of environmental awareness, of ourselves and the planet we live in and that has a lot to do with what we decide to produce artistically. My websites address this issue in more depth.

5) What was your first illustration job?

I landed my first paid assignment in October 1975. It was a monthly commission to illustrate in B&W for a coffee business magazine in Rio de Janeiro. I was then in my first year at Art School. Considering that as the beginning and that I’m 54 now in early 2012, I’m then well over 30 years in the business, but tell no one!

6) Describe your body of work. Thus far, which project has been the most fulfilling? Why?

Perhaps I have already done so above, but maybe I should sum it up better: I am a Naturalist and Editorial Illustrator for many types of work, especially for nature and children’s books and materials. These are done by hand and with the computer. I am also a Native English-Brazilian Portuguese translator and have done a lot of work in several areas, from institutional to technical, corporate documents and products, NGOs, videos, for web portals and researchers that deal with major environmental issues on the Amazon Rainforest and so on. My main website actually lists all this for anyone with the desire or patience to look it up! So, art, creative writing and translation come together as my main assets to meet new assignments, both for localizing foreign materials for the Brazilian market as for shaping local materials for foreign audiences. As an artist with a good background in communication skills, I give occasional classes to businessmen from all walks of life that wish to improve their English and Portuguese. My pursuits to blend nature, spirituality and cutting-edge true science to help educate adults and children is my most fulfilling project, one which I hope to materialize in its fullest potential in this life, both through publishing my own materials as translating and illustrating the ones I truly admire by other authors, for the benefit of where it is most lacking: my home country. Some of this is being done right now, as we speak.

7) Where can your works of art be found?

My work can be found online at my various dedicated websites and professional networks, some of which are bilingual or only in English.

8) What is your definition of success as an artist?

It is the rare case that an artist can achieve spotlight popularity, financial success and spiritual success in a world such as ours. Although that is no secret, still relatively few artists factor that essential point into their careers. I seek the latter but require the former as anyone. By spiritual success I mean something beyond and deeper than religious beliefs and quite here-and-now in the material experience too, which is equally important and not a lesser value. It just should not be the only value. A truly successful artist, in my opinion, is one who has understood the role, power and responsibility of artistic creation (whether as an artist, musician or writer) to shape the world and how we perceive it, and took on the responsibility and courage to fulfill that calling to the best of his/her ability, and has learned to screen out the frivolous, the misguided and the outright bizarre as legitimate ‘cultural’ manifestations to reach his/her audience with meaningful creations beyond simple entertainment.

I feel no other form of success can have a lasting value or one that we won’t have to atone for after death. This may sound somber, but it is not: it’s a simple fact of life that unfortunately many great artists have not awoken to yet, a fact which has been obscured in our present age of controversies, but is quite real and one we can all witness from the often bizarre notions and creations in art out there (in print, online or on our TVs) alongside wonderful accomplishments, both vying for our attention and spiritual energies while on this world. The trick is to develop the proverbial ‘eyes that see’ and make your choices consciously.

9) What do you plan to accomplish in 2012?

Aside from the ongoing pursuits outlined above, I would add that I have designed a website for Nature Artists from the ground up that I wish to promote to artists worldwide, for those individuals that have understood the purpose of this work I’ve described and wish to join with their talents in a friendly and professional environment. It is called História & Arte / Natureza and is more than a simple online portfolio. There, artists can discuss exciting environmental projects, air their articles, promote their courses, workshops and exhibitions to a new audience. It is now in Portuguese but will soon be in English and Spanish, all native for a broader reach. This is tied in with my Naturalist projects, as I have been preparing materials to present certain aspects of an inner ecology, such as the living energies and nature intelligence to help shape, educate and broaden our notions into a New Naturalist Awareness, one that redefines ecology into the more encompassing and realistic term, Ecosphere, and all the implications thereof, such as in the production of new and exciting Naturalist Maps for adults and storybooks and field guides for children, to name a few.

I’m looking into online publishing a lot too as a means to publish in full control of the output and without the hassle and delay of printed media and have done so on the Issuu platform, with more to come in 2012 as I wish to get the word out, so to speak, with my Living Energies project, children’s books and some graphic adventures stories. My blog is also a venue for participation in the creative process of this work, with behind-the-scene info I will be expanding this year according to people’s interest in this work.

My wife and I also have a Photo Restoration dedicated bilingual website which is unique in its approach, efficiency and scope, especially in our country. It has been 7 years online and we are planning more activities around this fascinating field. It is called

I wish also to warmly thank you, Raychelle and The Writer’s Block, for this kind invitation for an interview and for the gracious space afforded, it is sincerely appreciated. For those of you that are interested in any of this, please head for the links supplied below, beginning from my new facebook page if you will, and drop me a line. All feedback and participation are encouraged. I look forward to seeing you all around!


Portfolio e-Zine:

Historia & Arte / Natureza:

Blog Sintonia:


Professional Networks:


Facebook Fanpage:



Phone: 55-11-4268-0685 / Brazil

Artist Bio

My academic background began as an Editorial Illustrator, graduated from the Pan-American Art School in São Paulo/Brazil in 1977 and has since expanded into my passion as a Nature Artist. As a former member of Brazil’s main Artists Societies in the ‘80s, I have shown my editorial and advertising illustration work in 15 collective exhibitions at MASP, (Brazilian Illustrators at the São Paulo Museum of Art), at MAM (São Paulo’s Museum of Modern Art) and at MIS (Fantasy Art and Science-Fiction at The Sound & Image Museum of São Paulo) aside from some stints at Brazil’s main Comic Art exhibitions in the state of Goiás, in the city of Curitiba (PR) and Piracicaba (SP) up to 1992. In the region neighboring where I live, my comic book pilot project Flyer, won second place in a 1992 contest.

Having illustrated for several areas such as games, packaging, school books and so forth, my departure from advertising came in the early ‘80s when my kindled passion for Nature Art and concerns fired up to become the ongoing art and consciousness development pursued today.

I have also shown some of this earlier work in Brazil’s main Art Annuals: TALENTO 1, 2, 3 and 7 from 1984 to 1995 and in Brazil’s Illustrators Directory of 1983. I have enjoyed a rather varied experience with illustration, ranging from editorial to comic books and adventure graphics, my second passion.

From the ‘80s up to 2003 I was an off and on member of Brazil’s main Artists Societies such as the first and now extinct CIB – Brazil’s Illustrators Club, ABRASIL – Brazilian Illustrators Society and lastly, of the new SIB - Brazilian Illustrators Society in different phases of their existence, having chosen not to be a member of any since.

 In closing these early years, I accumulated an interesting portfolio as an Editorial, Advertising Illustrator and Graphic Artist with many covers and art assignments done for publishers, corporations, agencies, studios and institutions for book covers and inside art, school books, children’s stories, packaging, magazines, games and toys and esoteric books. Finally, in 1994, I was nominated for a Jabuti Award for children’s book illustration for my work on The Little Tin Soldier and The Sleeping Beauty by Kuarup publisher.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: Allyn Stotz

1)      Tell us how you became an author? Describe your journey.

Well, I wish I could say I was one of those writers who always dreamed of becoming a published author, but I can’t. When I was young I did love making up stories and remember the first story I wrote was about a land made up of peanut butter. Also, my siblings and I used to make up plays and put on skits for our parents all the time. However, it wasn’t until about 4 years ago that I really ever thought about writing children’s stories and actually getting myself published. I had written other things throughout my career like procedures manuals, newsletters, and other business things like that so I knew I could write fairly well. The day I decided to write children’s stories was almost like magic to me.

I was reading my brother’s blog one day and he was telling a story about some game he plays online. It sounded magical. As I read it I thought to myself how fun it would be to write a fantasy story like that. So I sat down, started typing a story and haven’t stopped since. Making up a story and putting it down on paper was my magic and I know now that it is also my destiny.

2)      Do you prefer any particular literary genre?

I prefer fantasy for children but I also like to write realistic stories that could actually happen. However, in the near future, I hope to grow and venture out into other genres.

3)      Who or what inspires you?

Children inspire me. They are the reason that I enjoy writing so much. Nothing makes me happier than to see a child laughing, smiling, or just having fun. That’s what I want them to do when they read my stories. I just want to make them happy and give children a chance to dream and use their imaginations.

4)      Tell us about The Pea in Peanut Butter. What inspired you to write it?

The Pea in Peanut Butter is about a little girl named Kailee who loves, yes you guessed it… peanut butter! She would eat it on just about anything if her mom would let her. One night while getting a snack from the kitchen pantry, the cans of vegetables and fruits come to life and they have a magical dance with Kailee. They try to convince her to try one of them for a change! Kailee thinks she doesn’t like the taste of green foods so the peas try to teach her that the color green has no taste. It’s the food, whether green, red, yellow, or purple that has a different flavor.

Two things inspired me to write this story. 

1.      My love for peanut butter and my memory of the story I wrote as a child about the land of peanut butter. So my inspiration started there.

2.      I have met so many people in my life who won’t eat anything green. So I wanted to bring that lesson into the story as well.

5)      Describe your path to publication.

My path to publication started with researching myself to death. I researched for a good year everything I could find about getting a children’s picture book written and published. I also enrolled and graduated from the Institute of Children’s Literature and that helped me tremendously. Without that course and the resources I have gained from the school, I don’t believe I would be published today.

As far as actually getting published, I have been one of the lucky writers and didn’t have to suffer too long with rejections before I found a publisher. I had been sending in submissions for about 10 months before a publisher bought my manuscript. In the meantime, I was published in several children’s magazines. That helped me to gain confidence as well.

6)      What else have you written and where can readers find your work?

I have written several short stories for children’s magazines. I have the links to those publications that are still available for viewing on my blog at www.allynstotz.blogspot. If you click on the “Other Publications” tab, they are listed there.

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

I promote my work on my blog, Facebook, and am also a member of several online organizations like Bookblogs, Goodreads, and Linked In. Those sites help authors and other professions promote their work. I also have had several book signings at various places and attend writer’s workshops and conferences.

8)      What advice would you offer to aspiring authors?

Do your research. Don’t think that you can just write a story, send it in and “wa la” you become published. You need to know the guidelines for success or your manuscript can be thrown in the slush pile as quickly as it arrived. Even if your story is the best story ever written, if it’s filled with grammatical or spelling errors everywhere, or you’ve broken all the publisher's guidelines, then chances of a publisher even reading it are slim to none. If you believe in your story, then take the time and effort that’s needed to polish it up and make it the best you can. Make sure you have it edited; sending it into a critique group is one of the wisest decisions you can make. You may think your story is wonderful the way it is, but having someone else look at it can make all the difference in the world. They may find something you hadn’t even thought of.

But my best advice to aspiring authors is to never give up. You can do it!!

9)      What is your definition of success as an author?

Someone who has fulfilled their dream of what they wanted to accomplish as an author. If you only get one book published, but it was your dream and you feel satisfied by that, then to me that is a successful author. But most authors I know will never feel complete with just one book. Most want another, and another, and another!

I also feel that even if someone never gets a book published, but they are happy with their writing and what they’ve accomplished, then to me, they are also a successful author. It’s really what’s in your heart that makes you a success.

10)   What do you plan to accomplish in 2012?
I want to accomplish a better and broader marketing plan for my book such as setting up school visits and possibly doing other events. My goal is to get my book out there and noticed so as many children as possible can read it! I am also constantly working on that 2nd picture book so if it happens in 2012, that would be wonderful!
Author Bio

Allyn came from a family of writers. Her father wrote and owned the town newspaper in Edgerton, OH and her mother wrote a weekly column. Watching Allyn’s journey to publication convinced her mother and freelance editor/writer sister to team up and write a novel of their own, which will be published in the near future.

Allyn’s first children’s picture book, en titled The Pea in Peanut Butter, was published by FutureWord Publishing in June 2011. She has also been published in various children’s magazines as well as an adult magazine. Allyn graduated from the Institute of Children’s Literature and is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Allyn lives in Baton Rouge, La with her husband, two crazy dogs and one fat cat.

The Pea in Peanut Butter is available in paperback, kindle, and coloring book format on amazon

The Pea in Peanut Butter is also available at Cavalier House Books in Denham Springs, LA and on as well as other online retailers.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: Ray P. Norris

1) Describe your journey as an author/writer.


When I was at high school in England, I had two passions. One was physics, and the other was literature. I regularly came top in both at school, but the English educational system requires you to focus on one thing. So I chose physics. I am now living in beautiful Australia, enjoying a wonderful career as an astrophysicist, spending my working days at the edge of the Universe, trying to figure out how galaxies form and evolve. But a few years ago I started wondering... what if? Suppose I had chosen literature? Can I still make that choice? So I took a year off work to start two projects. One was to understand the astronomy of Aboriginal Australians, and the other was to write my first novel.

Writing the novel Graven Images took the best part of that year  - spending a few hours each day just sitting in my study and writing. I loved it! The wall was covered with flow charts to help me keep track of the various threads of the storyline. Setting it in England gave me the excuse to indulge in personal nostalgia, visiting my childhood haunts, such as the ancient timeless moors of Dartmoor. Setting it in the year, 2005, in which it was written allowed me to weave events like the London tube bombings into the narrative.

I joined a writing group under the discerning tutelage of writer Natalie Scott, who destroyed my overblown writer's ego by showing me the many ways in which my writing sucked! I owe an enormous debt to her, as she painstakingly encouraged me to remove adjectives, tighten up the prose, and remove the long swooning passages about Dartmoor that made me misty-eyed but bored the pants off everyone else.

And then I spent the next five years polishing and tweaking it, learning from readers and writers. You can do this forever, and even now there are bits I'd like to change. But at some point you have to stop and say, "Dammit. I'm going to publish it." And that's where I am now.

2)      Do you specialize in any particular genre(s)?


I've published hundreds of scientific research papers and popular articles, if you can call that a genre. But that genre teaches you almost nothing about creative writing. In Graven Images, I had to forget everything I'd learned about writing scientific papers, which I found enormously liberating. Suddenly the other side of my brain, which had been atrophied since my teens, was able to sprout wings and fly.

People who knew me as a scientist often asked if I was writing science fiction. Why should I? It's too close to home. So in Graven Images, I tried to stay away from science, and stick to real contemporary human situations. I was only partially successful, as we write best about the environments with which we are familiar. The protagonist, Owen, is a scientist, and the entire book is from his point of view, although sometimes his understanding of what's happening is wrong, just like real life. But Owen is a biologist, not a physicist, and although there may be bits of me in Owen, I am really not Owen. And it's definitely not science fiction.

3)      Who are your favorite authors? How do they inspire your work?


I am a very eclectic reader. As a child I read everything by HG Wells and Ray Bradbury, and even now I consider Bradbury's Dandelion Wine to have had an enormous effect on my writing, and also triggered me to take up wine-making. In my teens I had a passion for Tolstoy, and have a nasty tendency to emulate his half-page sentences. I think I then moved on to John Steinbeck and Graham Greene. I was attracted to Anthony Burgess by Clockwork Orange, but then became an avid Burgess fan, and through him discovered James Joyce. I boast of being one of the few people who has finished Finnegan's Wake, which was more of an intellectual marathon than a cozy read! But it taught me much about using words unconventionally, informing the reader by osmosis rather than facts. I adore John le Carre, and wish I could convey as much as he does by leaving so much unsaid. And of course no one has the sheer story-telling ability of Stephen King. Currently, the Australian Richard Flanagan is the writer I most admire, and I think he's influenced my use of metaphor in Graven Images.

4)      Tell us about your most current project.


Graven Images is my first novel. It's set in the world of neo-pagan beliefs such as Wicca, but it's also contemporary, counterpointing these ancient beliefs with the web and the fear of terrorism. Personally, I'm an atheist, but I can place the moment when Wicca grabbed my attention. I took my daughter, an avid Wiccan at the time, on a vacation to England, the country in which I had grown up and where I had studied the astronomy of Bronze-age stone circles. But now, accompanied by my Wiccan daughter, I found recent offerings of flowers and money in the stone circles that I had studied so carefully. How had I never noticed these offerings before? So part of the book is about people seeing only what they expect to see. During that vacation, we visited the Witchcraft Museum in Boscastle, where the current owner, Graham King, was kind enough to show us the rare books in his collection. And here's the moment that started it all: he placed in my hands a real medieval Grimoire. Some witch, hundreds of years ago, had carefully written her spells in this book. I had grown up thinking witches were make-believe, and suddenly I had this thirteenth century spell-book in my hands.

So that's the backdrop, but the real action centres on Owen's quest to find his archaeologist girlfriend’s killers. To do so, he penetrates a sinister pagan cabal, but to gain their acceptance he uses his science skills to help them find a legendary Wiccan bible - the Book of One. He cannot resist the lure of hunting down this book, and the resulting quest almost eclipses his real quest to find Sarah's killers. And meanwhile his life, already shattered by his girlfriend’s death, disintegrates until he's on the run from the police.

5)      How did you choose your publisher? Describe that process.

My wife and I had self-published a non-fiction book on Australian Aboriginal Astronomy, Emu Dreaming, which has been very successful, pretty well selling itself with no real marketing. So rather than running the gauntlet of publishers and agents, I thought I'd try self-publishing my novel. I discovered that publishing fiction is much harder than non-fiction, and now I know why people use professional publishers and agents. Graven Images has had great reviews, but the sales have just not taken off. We probably need to do some serious marketing which is hard when it's your hobby!

6)      How do you promote your work? What strategies have been the most successful?

It's too early to say. I formally published the book in April 2011, but didn’t start promoting it until December 2011. With hindsight, this was an enormous mistake. People expect a book either to take off within a couple of months of publication, or not at all. So when you confess that you published a book a few months ago and it hasn’t yet started selling, many people write it off as a non-starter. Next time I won't publish it until I'm ready to promote it!

7)      What else have you written/published?

Ignoring the 250-odd papers on astrophysics, which are incomprehensible to anyone outside the field, the only other book of popular interest is the book Emu Dreaming that my wife and I wrote on Aboriginal Astronomy. I started researching the astronomy of the Aboriginal Australians in 2005, and have been amazed at the depth and complexity of their cultures, and by how little this is appreciated by non-Aboriginal people. Hundreds or perhaps thousands of years ago, some guy sitting out in the bush, some Aboriginal Einstein, figured out how eclipses work, and how the tides are linked to the phases of the Moon, while in Europe Galileo was saying, incorrectly, that the Moon has nothing to do with the tides. Our little book has been amazingly popular in Australia, and I hope has helped some non-Aboriginal people to understand that there's much more to Aboriginal culture than didgeridoos and bark paintings. This study has also taken my wife and me to Aboriginal communities hundreds of miles from the nearest road, and we have made some wonderful friends. My Aboriginal friend Bill Yidumduma Harney and I have even played in a stage show "The First Astronomers" in arts festivals across Australia. Way outside my astrophysicist comfort zone, and wonderful fun!

8)      What do you plan to accomplish in 2012?

I can't wait to write a sequel! I have it all mapped out, but my day-job keeps getting in the way!

9)      What advice would you give to budding writers?

Write! Have fun!

10)   What is your definition of success as a writer?

I've sold a few hundred copies, so I'm not yet Stephen King, and I'm not going to give up my day-job anytime soon. But the whole experience has been enormous fun. And I have to say that I'm now addicted. So I think I would say that success as a writer means that you're enjoying the process, you're enjoying the act of writing, and you're enjoying the fact that people enjoy reading the book. Commercial success would also be nice, but you don't need that to count your writing as successful.

Author Bio

Graven Images is the first novel from Ray Norris, a British and Australian astrophysicist whose day-job is to find out how the Universe evolved from the Big Bang to the present day. He also researches Australian Aboriginal astronomy, and the astronomy of British Bronze-age stone circles. An atheist himself, but fascinated by other people's beliefs, he was amazed to find how ancient pagan religions are still deeply but secretly engrained across the strata of modern society. As well as over 250 professional publications, Ray frequently appears on radio and TV, and performs in a stage show called "The First Astronomers". For relaxation, he walks the moors of Dartmoor and the Australian bush, and writes.

Twitter: @RayPNorris


Book website:

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: Mellanie Crouell

1)     Tell us how you became an author? Describe your journey.

     At the age of thirteen I began to write poetry to express my feelings. As time went on my poetry became stronger in depth. In 2005, I got married to my teenage love. It was a bad marriage. The challenges I faced in that marriage took me to a place that I thought I wasn't going to be able to return. Then I was blessed with my daughter. I wanted to leave something for my daughter to remember me by. Once my first book was published I knew had I found my new voice.

2)     Do you prefer any particular literary genre?

      The genre I prefer is fiction.

3)     Where do you find your inspiration to write?

       I find my inspiration through life experiences.

4)     Please share some of your available titles. Where can they be purchased?

       The titles of my work are Internal, External of Life25 Days of Roses, and Sweet Dreams. You can purchase my work at,,,,, or request and order from the bookstore.

5)     Describe how you chose your publisher(s).

       I chose my publishers based on what I need for the book. I look for good communication between the publisher and me.

6)     Why did you decide to enroll at Southern New Hampshire University?

      I decided to enroll in Southern New Hampshire University to improve my writing. SNHU has a creative writing online curriculum which means that I don't have to sit in a classroom. Most of all, I wanted to enhance my knowledge of the writing industry. Most of the professors work in the industry and they share tips of personal experience that will help students succeed in the future.

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

      The way I promote my work is through interactions with people-- mostly through my speaking engagements.

8)     What advice would you offer to aspiring authors?

      Advice that I can share is to be persistent.

9)     What is your definition of success as an author?

     My definition of success as an author is when I can help others to reach their success and stay humble.

10)  What is next for you in 2012?

      What is next for me is to finish  re-editing What Do You See? and start working on my first novel.

Contact Mellanie:


Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Writer's Block Goes Global!

One of the most exciting things about conducting interviews on The Writer's Block is the opportunity to meet creative people from different corners of the globe.

Take the journey with us this week starting in North Carolina with author and poet Mellanie Crouell. Next we will be going "down under" to Australia to meet astronomer and author Ray P. Norris. We'll come back to the states and travel to Baton Rouge, Louisiana which is the home of children's author Allyn Stotz. On our next stop, we will head south of the border near Sao Paulo, Brazil to talk to artist/illustrator Robert Rajabally. We will wrap up this week's tour landing in Madrid, Spain where we will visit professional illustrator Paul Caballero.

Each of these talented individuals has a fascinating path to publication. You don't want to miss this!