Roxanne Crouse: Blog en-us (C) Roxanne Crouse (Roxanne Crouse) Tue, 24 May 2016 14:21:00 GMT Tue, 24 May 2016 14:21:00 GMT Roxanne Crouse: Blog 62 120 I'm Just Going to Write and Think of a Title Later #amwriting #darkart #adultcoloringbook The Writer That Doesn't Write

Yup, that's me. I haven't written anything real in years now. I don't know what happened. The desire to write just went away. I guess I'm too absorbed in art right now. I do have something exciting happening on October 1st, but I'm not sure if I'm allowed to talk about it yet so I won't. You'll just have to wait. I like how many times I just used the word just. If I was editing your work I'd be yelling at you for that. But it's the way I talk, so in my blog posts you'll just have to deal with it. Ha ha.

Adult Coloring Book News

I have been thinking about working on my novel Believe again, but I must finish my adult coloring book first. I have fifteen pages done. I'm making great progress. The more I work on it the better I think it is getting.  I could be fooling myself but I guess I'll find out soon when I get everything finished. Here are the pages so far. Tell me in the comments what you think. Would you want to color these? What else do you think I should draw. It is hard to come up with ideas. I may not be the best illustrator but I don't care. I'm going to finish this and put it out no matter how bad it might be. I love it and I enjoy doing it. Drawing makes the time at work go by so much faster. 

Page 1 peacockPage 1 peacock Page 2 Saturn's MoonPage 2 Saturn's Moon Page 5 Lost TeddyPage 5 Lost Teddy Page 4 MushroomsPage 4 Mushrooms Page 3 Skull ChaosPage 3 Skull Chaos Page 6 April Shows Eyeball FlowersPage 6 April Shows Eyeball Flowers Page 7 Eyeball TreePage 7 Eyeball Tree Page 8 PhoenixPage 8 Phoenix Page 9 Pumpkin HousePage 9 Pumpkin House Page 11 What's in the BoxPage 11 What's in the Box Page 10 Rose on leavesPage 10 Rose on leaves Page 12 Chinese DragonPage 12 Chinese Dragon Page 13 Scary ToysPage 13 Scary Toys Page 14 Hungry CrowPage 14 Hungry Crow Page 15 Death Head Moths on FlowersPage 15 Death Head Moths on Flowers

]]> (Roxanne Crouse) adult art believe book coloring creative dark ilustration novel whimsical writing Tue, 24 May 2016 14:20:47 GMT
I'm Back and I'm Working on a Dark Whimsical Adult Coloring Book #adultcoloringbook So I have neglected my blog for far too long. I've been making a huge life change from being a wedding photographer to being a fine arts photographer and artist. So I had to get a full time job because bills won't wait for my art to start selling. I'm working a few days a week at a Hotel and a few days a week at an art retail store and that is sucking up a lot of my time. 

So enough with the boring stuff. While I'm waiting for "inspiration" I decided to challenge my son to an art contest. He is very talented and has a lot of time on his hands and it just eats my insides watching him waste it playing video games and sleeping all day. I don't know what's wrong with these millennials. So to get a fire under his butt I said that I bet I could create a 48 page adult coloring book before he could, even while working forty hours a week.  

So far I have two pages completed and eight penciled out. I tried drawing directly in photoshop with a wacom bamboo and I hate it. So I am drawing with pencil, inking it in, and then scanning it. Then I add extra stuff in photoshop. Hopefully I get used to the wacom at some point and can start skipping a few steps. But here are the first two finished pages. Drum roll please!

Page 2 Saturn's MoonPage 2 Saturn's Moon Page 1 peacockPage 1 peacock

I know I'm not the worlds best illustrator and there are artists far better than me. But guess what. I don't care. I know somewhere out there someone will like my work. So person, whoever you are, this is for you my friend and no one else.

So where  am I learning to do this awesome stuff you ask. A lot of it learned FROM WATCHING YOU. Sorry, bad joke. Actually, there are two main sources so far. 

One: Is a website called Control Paint. A resource of free and paid videos on how to draw and paint in photoshop. These videos are awesome and I'm slowly working my way through all of them. This guy does not pay me. I just really love his videos.

Two: A book on drawing called How to Draw Cool Stuff. You can get this book for free on Kindle. Or you can buy a physical copy. This is an affiliate link so I do get a small amount of money if you click and buy which helps pay the $250 I owe for this site each year.

It's time for me to get back to work inking. I've got to stay ahead of the child. Mom's got to prove her point!


]]> (Roxanne Crouse) adult coloring book artist artwork drawing illustration Sun, 03 Apr 2016 18:23:37 GMT
The Poor Art Collector’s Guide to Buying Art #art #artinfo Do you have a desire to fill your home with beautiful original artwork but you don’t have much money? Are mass-produced low quality Chinese made “wall art” not good enough for you? Maybe you’ve gone to the big galleries in New York and have fallen in love with a piece of art only to fall to the floor when you saw the price. After that experience it might seem impossible, but you can own original art and it only cost between $100 to $500 per piece, maybe even less in some cases. You just need to know where to look.

1. Look for new emerging artists. Because they don’t have a reputation yet, new artists tend to sell their work at very reasonable prices. Look locally first. You would be surprised at the talent in your own back yard. You never know. The artist down the street may end up being the next Salvador Dali. There are artists like Lauren Hoffman, a mixed media artist, not yet discovered but who’s work is worth checking out.

2. Buy from galleries that specialize in new artists. Galleries in small towns tend to represent local and new artists so don’t go to the big city looking for art deals. You won’t find them. You can try places like The Fine Arts Company located in Hagerstown MD.

3. Don’t worry whether the piece will be worth anything. Buy it because you love it. Everyone hopes to discover a long-lost Picasso in their attic, but the chances are that isn’t going to happen. The chances are the same that the painting you just bought from a new artist will be worth millions some day. So don’t worry about its possible worth. Buy pieces for your collection because they move you in some way.

4. Buy signed and numbered prints instead of originals. Original art may have more value in the long run, but will cost a lot more. Many artists will offer limited edition prints of the original and will embellish the print in some way adding to the value of the print. The smaller the edition number the better, but that will also raise the price.

11108832_399643493553107_5104205788158554267_n5. Go to the openings of new artists. Sometimes they have great deals on their work. The hardest part of an artist opening is getting people in the door. Many artists will offer deals on their work to encourage people to come. Sometimes they will even give away free prints to a select few.

6. Try flea markets, community yard sales, and local craft shows. Many beginning artists start out at these venues because they are plentiful and inexpensive to participate in. They are also close to home so there are no travel expenses for the artist. You can find some amazing work at these events at very reasonable prices.

7. Check into your local art groups. There might be some great artists out there too shy to make the leap to selling their art in a professional atmosphere. Join some local art groups and you may find them and be able to acquire their work at phenomenal prices.

8. Buy pieces you like from etsy, ebay, and other websites that sell art. There is a lot of competition on these websites. New artists have to price competitively to survive or their work won’t get noticed. You may find some great deals.

9. Local coffee houses and book stores sometimes sell the art of local artists. These types of establishments often don’t charge to display at in their stores and sometimes don’t even take a cut if a piece sales. This makes them popular places for new artists to approach. So get a cup of joe and see what art you can find for a good price.

10. While on vacation check out the local shopping instead of the big chain stores. Local tourist places love to sell local crafts and art, especially if it is related to the destination in some way. So you may find many undiscovered artists in these local shops at prices you can afford.


]]> (Roxanne Crouse) Art Buying Collector's Guide Poor The to Tue, 24 Nov 2015 05:30:00 GMT
Bring Back MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 #BringBackMST3K Help Bring Back MST3K one of the most beloved cult television series ever, for a new season of up to 12 feature-length episodes! I love this show and still watch it today and want to see it come back! This has to happen. Click the link and help it happen. 


If you've never seen it check out this link to Werewolf one of my favorite episodes

]]> (Roxanne Crouse) #BringBackMST3K 3000 Back Bring MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER Thu, 12 Nov 2015 14:28:02 GMT
Fourteen Dos and Don’ts When Approaching An Art Gallery to Sell Your Work #artinfo Want to see your artwork hanging in galleries? What artist wouldn’t. But there is a right way and a wrong way to approach gallery owners and curators. If you approach them the wrong way it won’t matter how good your art is. They won’t want to represent you.  To get you on the right track here’s a list of 7 dos and 7 don’ts when trying to  get your art on the walls of galleries.

1. Don’t look for galleries to represent your work before you’ve sold any on your own. The gallery will want to know where your work as shown before, how much you have sold, and if you have won any awards. If haven’t sold any of your work yet then you are jumping ahead. Do some art fairs. Small local ones count. Keep a list of everything you sell.


2. Do get out there and sell at craft shows, yard sales, juried art shows, any where you can to prove your work is sellable to a gallery. Don’t forget online, too, at places like Etsy, ebay, Art America, or Amazon.  Keep a list of everything you sell and where your work has been displayed. If your work wins any awards record that as well. Think of this information as your resume. To the gallery it will be proof your work is sellable.

3. Don’t assume that all galleries sell every type of art. They don’t. Some specialize in photography, some in paintings only. It will do you no good and waste the time of the gallery if you do black and white photography and the gallery specializes in oil paintings. Do your homework. Only submit to galleries that are appropriate.

4. Do research galleries and visit them to see what type of art they represent before contacting them. Visit their webpage if they are too far away to visit in person.  See if they have any calls for artists or specific times of the year they review portfolios. Find out how they prefer to be approached and how they want your work to be presented.

5. Don’t show up at the art gallery with all of your work without an appointment. Gallery owners and curators are busy and normally have specific times they meet artists. Nothing frustrates a gallery owner more than an artist who shows up with all their work demanding to be seen. Don’t be this type of artist.

6. Do research the galleries that represent the type of work you do to find out how and when they like to be contacted by new artists. On most gallery websites you will find information on how to be considered for the gallery.  At The Fine Arts Company where I work we have a form for the artists to fill out before coming in. Here’s a link to our form: Call For Artists

7. Don’t call, email, or visit a gallery (unless your shopping) that you have submitted to asking whether they are interested or not. Again, gallery owners and curators are busy people. They don’t have time to respond back to every artist inquiry, only the ones they are interested in.

8. Do wait for the gallery to contact you, and if they don’t, assume they are not interested. Yes, if they don’t contact you back they are not interested in your work. It doesn’t mean your work is bad. It means your work may not fit the gallery or they may already have a similar artist and don’t want more work that looks the same.

9. Don’t make it hard for a gallery to find you and see your work. Most galleries to save time want to be able to view your work online. They don’t have time to meet every artist in person . They will be more likely to consider you if you have a presence online. Galleries sometimes search the internet looking for new talent. They won’t find you if you aren’t on the web.

10. Do have a strong presence on the internet and do juried shows, and craft fairs to show that your work can sell. There are so many free places you can display your work online. There is no excuse for not having a web presence. If you don’t understand computers and don’t want to take the time to learn then hire someone to create a web presence for you. Ask your kids, nieces, or nephews. Chances are someone in your family can help you out.

11. Don’t show up with your work still wet or not ready to hang. This will make you look very unprofessional. The gallery doesn’t have time to get your work ready for display for you. You need to do your homework ahead of time and only bring work that is completed. An oil painting needs six months to dry so you’re going to have to wait.

12. Do check the galleries website, or email and ask, for mounting and framing requirements to hang your work. Some galleries will require all pieces to have wire for hanging. Some will require sawtooth. Some may only take pieces on canvas, no frames. It’s your job to find out ahead of time and have your work ready when asked to bring it in. We like all of our work to be matted and framed with wire on the back for hanging unless your work is on canvas. The canvas will still need hanging wire on the back.

13. Don’t leave your work with any gallery without a contract. What happens if your work disappears? What if it sells? How much do you get? Who knows without a contract. It doesn’t matter what the gallery verbally told you. You need it in writing.

14. Do bring your own contract or read over the galleries and make sure everything is written down that is agreed upon. The contract should have everyone’s contact info, what works you are leaving, what their prices are, what percentage of the sale the gallery will be keeping, when will you get paid for each sale, what happens if a piece is damaged or stolen. You get the picture. Spell out everything so there is no difficulty between you and the gallery.

Follow these tips and you’ll look like a pro and have no trouble getting your work into galleries.

]]> (Roxanne Crouse) Tue, 10 Nov 2015 05:15:00 GMT
Artist Interview: Sumner Crenshaw Deliciously Dark Painter #artistinterview #artinfo Welcome Sumner Crenshaw to my blog. She has shown her work  at The Fine Arts Company and many other galleries. You don’t want to miss her tortured but beautiful oil and acrylic paintings. I did this interview with her for The Fine Arts Company and wanted to share it with all of you.

“Often characterized as disturbing, the images I create are at first shocking. But at a second glance, they reveal brokenhearted beings just trying to work through the situation they’re in. I don’t consider my work to be an assertion of hopelessness. Rather, it is an assertion of tension, depicting another side of life that, while often sorrow-filled, is nonetheless a part of the human experience; a dark realm that, if one can find their way out, leads to better things. The figures in my images just haven’t quite found their way out yet.”

Sumner Crenshaw

What made you decide to become an artist?

I suppose it wasn’t really a decision on my part. Ever since I was little, I was always drawn to art and I would always say “I’m going to be an artist when I grow up!”, so it’s honestly never occurred to me to be anything else. I’ve never considered the idea that art wouldn’t be a part of my life

What medium do you paint in and why do you like that medium?

I’m trained in over a dozen different mediums, but I primarily work in oils. I find that oils lend a richness and depth to the image, and they also lend themselves well to experimentation because of their extended oxidizing time.

Your work depicts dark beings trapped in conflicts and tension. It is deliciously dark. What made you gravitate in this direction?

Haha, “deliciously dark”; I like it! I think two things made me gravitate towards images that most would deem dark: first, at a young age I was exposed to the work of the Surrealists, particularly Dali, and so I think that informed my aesthetic early on; imagery that was twisted and exaggerated was planted in my lexicon quite early. I suppose that if I’d looked at books of Monet’s images, not Dali’s, when I was little my work might have gone a different direction. Secondly, I think my work presents as dark because I am inherently interested in depicting not just different worlds, but the inner worlds of conflict and turmoil that we all have.  To me, though, I don’t view it as a depiction of something negative or hopeless, but as an expression of tension; a tension that we all feel. We all have anxieties, struggles and inner conflicts- hopes, doubts and regrets- and I’m interested in portraying these in narrative form- opposing feelings are depicted as characters trapped in a scene of conflict.  For me, by presenting these struggles as images, it’s a way to work through them.  It’s all about exploring the idea of wanting to be more than what you are, but being uncertain of how to make it happen.

Is your personal view of the world as dark as the images you create?

Gentle Persuasion

Haha, I don’t think so. I get compared to Phoebe from Friends quite a lot, so I think most people who know me would not characterize me as a dark person. However, I am a restless person, someone who always wants to be growing but constantly feels like I’m not growing fast enough, and I think that restlessness-that tension- informs my world view and my work.

Does your work have any hidden objects or meaning in them?

I imbue hands with a lot of meaning. For me, my hands are my life- the things that allow me to create-so quite often in my work a characters hands are depicted as tortured or tired; I use them to symbolize artistic and creative struggles. I also will twist portions of characters bodies’ to illustrate their struggles- maybe their eyes are turned inward, to show their lack of insight, or maybe their feet are stuck together, to show their frustration with their own lack of growth.

Do you find it harder to sell work that is so dark in nature?

It can be a little more challenging, as most people shopping for art to decorate their house understandably don’t want a cranky surrealist painting on their walls. However, I do think there is still an audience for that type of work, it’s just more of a niche market, so to speak. I’m lucky, though, in that I like to work in a variety of styles, so usually I can offer something that appeals to collectors.

What was the best advice a mentor ever gave you?

I guess this isn’t technically advice, but when I was working on my undergrad degree one of my professors said “You’re work isn’t so much about color or tone as much as it is about the structure of what it is you’re painting”. I found that observation extremely empowering because it gave me a verbalization of where my work was heading. It’s funny, I feel like as artists we always have an inherent, subconscious journey in our work- we are all striving towards an exploration of something- but quite often even we don’t necessarily know what that journey is or what our goal is. By making that statement, that professor gave me an idea of what I was really exploring, without me even knowing it. And he was right: I have always been all about form and how far I can exaggerate or deconstruct it. His insight was invaluable as it gave me a sense of myself as an artist.

What was the worst advice you ever received from a mentor, fellow artist, or viewer of your work?

I’m actually pretty lucky in that I don’t think I’ve ever received any bad advice!

Two Nudes

When creating your work, do you have a process that you go through?

My process is actually embarrassingly simple! My ideas are actually quite often born from a statement; for instance, I might say to myself “Ugh, I just don’t feel creative today! I feel like my creativity decided to take a vacation!” And there it is! The muse deciding to leave the mind of the artist, that can be a compelling image. After I’ve toyed with an idea, I usually do a sketch, sometimes a few, to nail the composition and jot down a few phrases that illustrate the theme, then I outline it on the canvas, then I paint it. For my more abstract works I rarely even bother with a sketch. From there, I do spend a lot of time just living with the work, taking many chances to just view it while it’s in progress, letting it seep into my mind to see what areas make sense and which need work.  And then, once every area of the canvas is covered, I’m done. Once in graduate school a professor said that one’s process should consist of sketches, quick studies, detailed sketches of light patterns, detailed underpaintings, covering the canvas layer by layer, section by section, and then making a checklist to ensure each area of the image was analyzed for composition, focal point, etc. Truth be told, I thought it was malarkey! Painting is like dancing, the canvas being your partner; you push and pull and move the image until it makes sense. It’s intuitive. There is no need for a drawn out process.

What projects are you working on now or have coming up in the future?


I’m working on reopening my Etsy shop, with a focus on selling prints of my original pieces, and I’ve also got 4 exhibits in the works that’ll keep me busy through June of next year!

Juried Exhibitions:

  • 2010- Self: Group exhibition at the Croft Art Gallery, Waco, TX
  • 2009- Awesome Doesn’t Pay the Rent: Group exhibition at The Soundry Gallery, Vienna, VA
  • 2009- February 2009 Exhibition at House of Scratch, online art gallery.
  • 2008- Dreams and Visions: Group exhibition at Union Street Gallery, Chicago Heights, IL
  • 2006- Nancie Mattice Award exhibition at Dangenart Gallery, Nashville, TN
  • 2005- Chelsea Global Showcase 2005 exhibition at Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, New York, NY

Group Exhibitions:

  • 2008- Summer Art and Music Festival, Ico Art and Music Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2008- Atlas!: Group show at Ico Art and Music Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2007- Works included in Slide Slam and donated for Real Party 2007 at Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT
  • 2006- Group exhibition at the Gallery on Seymour Lane, Newport, VT
  • 2006- Group exhibition at Silo Elevated Cuisine, San Antonio, TX
  • 2005- Group exhibition at The Well Gallery, Jeffersonville, VT
  • 2005- Seeing Red: Group exhibition at Catamount Film and Arts Center, St. Johnsbury, VT
  • 2005- Retro: Group exhibition at Catamount Film and Arts Center, St. Johnsbury, VT
  • 2005- Participated in For Art’s Sake, an annual art fair held in Stowe, VT
  • 2004- Dreams: Group exhibition at Catamount Film and Arts Center, St. Johnsbury, VT
]]> (Roxanne Crouse) #artinfo #artistinterview Art Artist Dark Deliciously Fine Interview: Painter Sumner Crenshaw Tue, 03 Nov 2015 05:15:00 GMT
Artist Interview: Painter Eric Carter #artistinterview #artinfo Please welcome Eric Carter to my blog. I did an interview with him for The Fine Arts Company and thought I'd share it here.

Eric Carter is a self-taught award-winning artist who experiments with many different styles, including Wildlife, Landscapes and Abstracts. His desire to paint Still life’s eventually became the focus of his work. He chooses to paint those objects he sees around him. Simple, everyday objects that he finds beautiful and are often overlooked. Landscapes are inspired by the pleasant aspects of the countryside scenes to be found around his western Maryland home.

When did you decide you wanted to become a painter?

There wasn’t a moment that I decided, I just enjoyed painting and was determined to teach myself the art of moving paint around on canvas.

Was anyone else in your family a painter? What was that like?

My younger brother is a Graphic Designer…but I’m the only one who paints.

Did your parents  and friends encourage you to pursue your dreams or were they the “get a real job” type?

Received a lot of encouragement from friends.

How did you learn to paint so well?

It’s true what they say….Practice, Practice, Practice. I devoted time every day to paint something. You have to put that time in, in order to get better.


Can you recall the first piece of art you sold? What was that like?

Well my first craft show was in Martinsburg, WV about 12 years ago and only a few people showed up and I didn’t sell anything. Then a week later I get a call form a guy in Ohio, who pick up my card at the event and wanted to purchase 10 paintings. I was so excited, could not believe it. So that goes to show you that you never know.


Can you tell us a bit about your approach to colors?

I try to inject it into the painting in a way that excites

Do you teach art?

I have done some workshops.

Have you ever had a painter’s “block”? If yes, how did you resolve it?

Yes all the time. You have to wait for the inspiration to show up… and when it does…go for it!

How do you divide your time between doing business and actually painting?

The only time I paint is between 6pm to 9pm that works well for me



]]> (Roxanne Crouse) Artist Eric Carter Interview: Painter art artist info interview Tue, 27 Oct 2015 04:00:00 GMT
Book Review: Tumbling in Time by Denise L Wyant 4 out 5 Stars  

Tumbling in Time


The story takes place in several locations both present and future and jumps around following the pair Tasha and Arikk as they battle demon’s, hang out with angels, and try to stay alive in a future full of paranormal danger. The novel is well formatted for the kindle layout and is professionally edited. I only found two errors, a missing period and a missing quotation mark. Kudos on the hard editing work. The book is a short read and fast-paced. It won’t leave you time to take a breath. You can sit down and read it easily in a few hours so it’s a perfect choice for the romance lover and action seeker with limited time.

Tasha is feisty and won’t stop until she gets what she wants and is always jumping into danger head first before thinking about the consequences. She is a nice change from the usual shy or low self-esteem characters plaguing most paranormal novels. Arikk, her love interest, spends most of his time trying to fight off her advances or keeping her alive.

My only issue with the book and the reason I give it 4 stars instead of 5, it’s not a complete story. You’ll have to read on when the next books comes out which I know are currently being worked on. I had the privilege of reading the beginning of the draft for the next part. Whether the second part will conclude the story or if it will continue as a series, I don’t know. If the next book is like Tumbling In Time then it will be worth picking up a copy.

About the Author

Denise Wyant enjoys writing romance and urban fantasy stories and novellas. She is easily distracted and doesn't see herself completing a novel anytime in the near future. She started writing approximately three years ago. The idea of crafting stories with lovable, realistic characters and happy-ever-afters keeps her inspired. 

She resides in Maryland with her Himalayan cat, Willow. When not writing (or working), she enjoys reading, cycling, and caramel lattes.


]]> (Roxanne Crouse) 4 5 Book Denise L Review: Stars Time Tumbling Wyant by in out Fri, 23 Oct 2015 17:00:00 GMT
Author Book Signing: The Weight of Chains by Lesley Conner #horror #halloween #amreading I'd like to introduce you to Newly published local author Lesley Conner. Her newly released book The Weight of Chains is a perfect read for Halloween. That’s why I picked her to be the first author to do a author signing at The Fine Arts Company. Here signing will be October 30th from 2pm to 5pm. If you can't make or don't live near Hagerstown MD, you can still get a copy at Amazon. Just click the book title above. If you are a Kindle Unlimited member you can read it for free!

TheweightofchainsAbout the book

In fifteenth century France, many rumors are whispered about Gilles de Rais killing the village children. But he had control over every aspect of his subjects lives: the servants he employed, the village he lorded over, the carefully crafted visage he showed to the world. He dictated where his subjects live, what they ate, if they lived or died.  Nothing could be done to stop him. When a wizard is hired to raise a demon for Gilles, the wizard loses control of the beast. Gilles’s tight grasp on his world begins to slip. His cook plans to flee, taking her son away from the dangers of the castle. His guard wants to claim Gilles’s lifestyle as his own. His wizard frantically searches for a way to survive both his lord and the demon he has called into the world. And the villagers – like Jeanetta and her family –move through life in Machecoul too consumed with the task of surviving day to day, and oblivious to the turmoil building within the castle that is threatening to break out and consume them all.



10665311_10204850145512498_770233720606426016_nAbout the author

A writer/editor, managing editor of Apex Magazine, and a Girl Scout leader. When she isn’t handling her editorial or Girl Scout leader responsibilities, she’s researching fascinating historical figures, rare demons, and new ways to dispose of bodies, interweaving the three into strange and horrifying tales. Her short fiction can be found in Mountain Dead, Dark Tales of Terror, A Hacked-Up Holiday Massacre, as well as other places. She lives in Smithsburg, Maryland with her husband and two daughters, and is currently working on a new novel.

]]> (Roxanne Crouse) Tue, 20 Oct 2015 15:45:00 GMT
Artist Interview: William C. Pfaff Artist, Writer and Illustrator #artist #artistinterview  

William's art will be displayed at The Fine Arts Company for the Month of October. So if you live close to Hagerstown MD, you should stop in and take a look.

Cumberland‘s William C. Pfaff is a published author, award­winning artist, and professional

illustrator. Having studied at Frostburg State University, Oxford University, and being self­taught in Asian­style

brushwork, Bill brings a unique blend of styles to his creations. Acrylics, watercolors, and pen and ink are his main

tools and his works range from realistic to highly­ stylized to abstracts.


You used to write but said art quickly took over. What about art did you prefer over writing?

Art was much more demanding for me.  I had crafted my writing skills over three decades and I still enjoy it but it doesn’t quite scratch the same itch.  Art is more immediate, and since I very rarely work digitally there is the thrill (and agony) of working live with no real way to revise or edit.  Writing is all about revisions, art is not.  They are very different animals and I still find myself enjoying both but I currently identify a bit more as an artist.


Why did you pick the style of art you do? What do you love about it?

My style varies quite a bit. I started primarily as a pen and ink artist because I just wanted to be able to illustrate, and the additional branches simply grew from that initial seed.   I enjoy super realistic and detailed pen work, but then I will gravitate toward chaotic splashy and loose watercolor work.  My acrylic abstracts are influenced by Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, and Jackson Pollock.  I like bold statements, I like color combinations that are shocking and make people take notice.  I have a lot of eastern influences in my work but I often purposely break the strict rules of that tradition to make it more “my work”.


Do you think higher education for artists is important or do you think they should find a mentor? Why?

Can I go with C) None of the above?  I tried to learn as much as I could in isolation for as long as I could:  books, the internet, studying the masters in museums.  I’ve never had a fine art class (a few lessons in graphic design is as close as I’ve come….I was a Communication major in college) and I certainly wouldn’t discourage someone from a formal art education, but I also don’t think it’s the path for everyone.  As for having a mentor?  I have studied some of my close friend artists that I admire, but the key is not to steal too much.  You have to make sure your vision doesn’t get lost.  My initial critics agreed that my work looked almost nothing like what they had seen before.  That I had managed to “turn pro” without losing my amateur whimsy- I’m quite proud of that.


A lot of artists struggle with marketing their art. How do you market yours and what works best?

Marketing is one of the aspects of art I have studied the most.  I give lectures and workshops on marketing and also do private art coaching, so I can’t give away all my secrets.  But the number one mistake I see artists make is not hustling enough.  You’ve got to believe in your work and blow your own trumpet; otherwise no one else is going to believe in you.  Talent is maybe 5 % of art, persistence is 70%, marketing is 24% and then toss in 1% luck.  That may sound cynical but it’s true, I have watched many incredibly talented artists (people who should be doing solo shows with regularity) never make it to their first show because they didn’t believe in themselves and didn’t push hard enough to make it happen.  As far as what works best?  I like guerrilla style marketing.  Admittedly that works better in larger cities but it can still be done on a smaller scale.



What was the best advice a mentor ever gave you?

Don’t ever compare yourself to anyone except yourself.  Each day you only have to defeat what you’ve done previously.  The world has already had one Monet, it doesn’t need a second one- it needs the first “you”.


What was the worst advice you ever received as an artist that other artists shouldn’t listen to?

Not bad advice per se, but many marginally successful artists I have met give really bad advice on pricing.  It goes back to the issue of valuing your work.  If someone falls in love with your painting at $75 they will probably love it just the same at $90.  You can only push this line of thought so far, but in general, people under charge for their hard work.


Do you have a favorite artist and why?

On a world-wide scale it’s Damien Hirst and not for the reason you would think.  Hirst is a modern-day P.T. Barnum, no one generates buzz like Hirst and that’s why he commands the prices he does.  I personally know a hundred artists better than Hirst, I’ve never met a better marketer.  In my Western Maryland art world, Ed Coffey is head and shoulders above the rest.  Ed is a master watercolor artist who understands color and contrast better than anyone I have met.  He also does three-dimensional work that has set our area on fire and become one of everyone’s must own items.  It was an incredible departure from his watercolors and he wasn’t afraid to make the leap- I really respect that kind of guts.


What advice would you give artists who tend to procrastinate or are just afraid or unsure of how to get their work out there?

The best trick I have found to overcome fear and procrastination is to tell yourself that the next piece you do will not be shown to anyone.  It’s practice and there is no pressure, it’s for your eyes only.  Nine times out of ten when you take that pressure off the piece turns out amazing and then you can choose to break your own “rule” and share it with the world.


How important do you think social media is for artists and which is your favorite platform and why?

Facebook is the current king (and my favorite just due to its popularity) but obviously Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and others are right in the neighborhood.  The key to social media is to give the people who like your work the “behind the scenes” stuff.  Show what brands of paint you’re using, show the thumbnails, and talk about your thought processes.  Too often artists only show the finished product.  Social media is a way to share more than that.


What do you think of sites like Art America and Etsy where artists can sell their work? Do you think it is a good thing or bad? Why?

I think the online art community is a great way for people to see works that they would otherwise have no chance to experience so in that sense it’s a positive.  I do prefer the experience that galleries and live shows provide but I’m a bit “old school” in that respect.  I also think the art world is incredibly self-correcting; the cream will rise to the top.  So if there is a bit of over saturation online, that problem will work itself out as online consumers become more sophisticated in their art shopping.


What projects do you have coming up in the future?

I have a major 2017 show in my hometown of Cumberland at the Gilchrist Gallery and I’m also working on illustrating some of my own writings.  Even if I don’t have a specific event in mind, I am always looking for the next opportunity to share my work.  Pop up stores, new galleries, and conventions are always on my radar.

]]> (Roxanne Crouse) Artist Illustrator Interview: William C. Pfaff Writer and artist interview Fri, 16 Oct 2015 04:00:00 GMT
Artist Interview with Lauren Hoffman Mixed Media Artist #artinfo #artistinterview Artist Lauren Hoffman has made a home at The Fine Arts Company. In no time at all she became the curator, covered the walls of the store with her art, and made the front cover of Hagerstown Magazine. She’s a go getter that never stops. That’s why I was thrilled when I finally got her to slow done enough to do an interview.

1. It said on your Etsy store that you changed your college major 5 times before settling on visual art, what were your other majors?

First I was a biology major looking to be a marine biologist, then I changed to medical assisting, then graphic design and finally to Visual Arts. Visual arts is the one that stuck. (so really only four different majors)


2. What made you finally become interested in art and stick with it?

A trip to NYC to all the museums and galleries had me in awe of all the talent. Nothing has ever captivated me quite like standing in front of a beautiful piece of art. I hoped that I could one day make a person stand in front of something I made with the same awe.

3. Where did the name Artpoptart come from?

Artpoptart is a tribute to my only child, Kylee. She has had a long time love of pop-tarts!

4. Much of your work is collage. Do you use any certain publications and why?

I’m not picky when it comes to what magazines I use, as long as there are vibrant colors and patterns, they work for me!

5. Do the images you pick from the publications have any hidden or
special meanings in your work?

Most of the time I’ll just stick to a general color scheme but it’s very fun to sneak little things into my collages that most people don’t notice. For example, there is a black cat in my Maryland flag, and if you know me on any level, you’ll know of my love for the furry creatures. Also there’s a Spider man in my Woodstock poster, kind of funny and unexpected.

6. What are some of your favorite subjects to make art of?

Animals, especially pets. They play such a big role in the happiness of people that it’s the least I can do to pay homage to them!

7. What was the best artistic advice you have received from a mentor?

The best advice I ever received was to just keep making art, even if you’re completely uninspired or unmotivated. This has helped a lot because it’s a rarity that true inspiration flies out of nowhere so I just have to remember to keep plugging along and the great pieces will eventually follow.

8. What was the first piece you ever sold and what was that experience like?

The first piece I ever sold was a picture of a pair of squirrels. I sold it online after three months of putting in 50 hours a week trying to get my online store off the ground. I was so frustrated, full of self-doubt and ready to throw in the towel when all of a sudden my phone goes “cha-ching” and told me I had made my first sale. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I actually cried tears of relief.

9. What are your future plans for your art? What do you hope to accomplish?

I hope to continue with collage for as long as possible because it’s such a versatile medium. I have one simple wish when it comes to my art, I hope it brings a smile to someone and fills a home with joy.

10. What would you like to say to other artists just getting started to help inspire them?

Discipline! Like starting any business it takes so much discipline to put in the hours and days it takes to make a living as an artist. It won’t be easy but it will be rewarding!

]]> (Roxanne Crouse) Hoffman Lauren art artist collage interview media mixed with Tue, 13 Oct 2015 15:21:55 GMT
Book Review: The Hopewell Conspiracy: A Darkstar Steam Novel by Philip Morgan

The Hopewell Conspiracy: A Darkstar Steam Novel (The Judes Marlen Trilogy) 
by Philip Morgan

3 out of 5 Stars

The main character of this story is Judes, an old western gun-slinger type roaming the desert alone avoiding the alien poison that infects his entire world. Until fate intervenes and an air ship full of pirates crashes almost taking Judes with them. Judes manages to survive and make it to a town only to run into the same pirates. To escape, he uses the magic power embedded in a revolver he came across on his journeys. A bad choice, because it draws the attention of Darus Hopewell, a man bent on getting Judes magical gun any means necessary. Judes starts an adventure with a steam man to find out who Hopewell is and why he wants the gun only to stumble into a larger problem, a problem that affects Judes whole world and the ancient secrets of aliens that brought technology to a world of magic.

After I received a review request, I started reading the free sample of this book and was instantly interested. Right away the world in which Judes lives was brought to life and I was eager to explore it more. The writing was clean and well edited, in the beginning, and the kindle formatting was handled professionally in the free sample. You may have noticed I said in the beginning. As I read on, I started to encounter back story information dumps which served no purpose but to interrupt my story. I also came across large sections of description with no dialog or character interaction that, for me, slowed the story and made me want to skip those sections. They were well written, just too long for me. Some readers who enjoy a lot of description may love it. I’m a reader who only needs description of things that are important, the rest I can imagine for myself.

I also mentioned back story dumps. If the back story doesn’t play into the plot or what the characters are currently doing, it’s not needed. The worst one was a new chapter in the middle of interesting scenes explaining Judes past as an orphan. It came out of nowhere for no reason. His past was just told to me by an unknown person, or maybe Judes was dreaming it? That’s the problem, I don’t know for sure. The information didn’t relate to anything going on and had no reason to be brought up. It’s great that the author knew Judes back story and what drove the character, but the reader, at this point, didn’t need to know. Maybe the author thought it would make Judes a more sympathetic character? Unfortunately it was handled poorly. There were many opportunities where Judes and Dotson could have had bonding moments and Judes could have told him about his past. It would have been more effective.

I really enjoyed the characters and their personalities, especially Judes and Dotson. The chief of the tribe with his available daughters was entertaining as well. I hated leaving Judes or Dotson’s point of views because the other characters weren’t as interesting and tended to have back story dumps and sections of unnecessary telling. I’d love to see this get cleaned up.

The plot of this novel and the world have a lot of potential. It needs a professional content editor to go through and fix some areas and come up with better ways to handle the back story. The book is a part of a trilogy and I hope the author continues with it. I really like the mixed genre world, aliens, elves, and magic mixed together with steam punk.

Despite the back story issues, I recommend giving this book a read. It’s a very interesting world with interesting characters. It has a conclusion of sorts, but not a full arch. You will need to read on to reach a grand conclusion. The Hopewell Conspiracy is worth a read.

]]> (Roxanne Crouse) A Book Conspiracy: Darkstar Hopewell Morgan Novel Philip Review: Steam The book by review Wed, 23 Sep 2015 17:00:00 GMT
Free Read: Mother Grows Up by Roxanne Crouse #shortstory #freeread Mother Grows Up

by Roxanne Crouse

Monica pulled off the road into the grass and turned off the car. She took in a deep breath and glanced over at her son, Sid. She smiled at him as he glared at her from the corner of his eye. Looking in his cold blue eyes was like drowning in arctic waters. What could she do to warm those waters again? His coldness wore her down with every passing day. Her plan to have fun with him at the Earth Day celebration probably wouldn’t make a dent, but she was out of ideas.

Cars lined the road stretching across the entire length of the park. She watched as families held hands and laughed on their way to the event. They looked so happy, content. She wanted the same happiness for her little family, but she hadn’t felt it in a while now, not since Sid hit puberty. He locked himself in his room and never came out. She had no idea what was going on in his life anymore. 

The hill blocked her view of the celebration, but she could see and hear the little red train running. Her son used to beg to ride the train every year, but not anymore. Last year, he scoffed at the red contraption. She chalked it up to him being in a bad mood that day.  

Without saying a word, she opened the car door and got out. The cold, spring air brushed against Monica’s skin, sending shivers through her body. She tucked her hands into her arms glad she wore a sweater. Sid had on a thin, long-sleeve shirt and started to grumble as he got out of the car.

“It’s too cold, ma. I don’t want to go, let’s leave.” His face tightened, and impatience dripped from his entire body. He stomped off, bent over like a troll, and appeared just as grumpy.

“I told you to put on a jacket. We haven’t even seen anything yet. Why do you want to leave?” The Earth Day event appeared in front of them as Monica trotted along to keep up with Sid’s fast pace. They came every year and Sid always loved it, at least he used to love the celebration.

An assortment of vendors had set up along the park path, and Monica read a big sign that said, funnel cakes, at the end of the row. “Look, funnel cakes, you like funnel cakes.” She smiled again at Sid, but he didn’t return the affection. His body crumpled together even more as he tried to hide himself from the world.    

“I don’t want to go here. It looks stupid!” he said and stopped in the middle of the path to sulk. The crowd pushed by him oblivious to his tantrum.  

“Come on, Sid, give it a chance. We haven’t even seen anything yet. Let’s at least walk through and see what’s here before we leave,” she said. She continued to walk toward the booths knowing Sid would follow whether he wanted to or not.

Monica had hoped for a more impressive event. Instead of an Earth Day celebration, the park looked more like a big fat consumerism party. The booths all sold items like jewelry, food, books, nothing related to helping the earth. Everyone ate food and dropped litter on the ground. The irony. She had hoped everyone would be cleaning the park, not trashing it even more. Some volunteer work would have done Sid some good. His new self- centered attitude disturbed her. Monica sighed and continued searching for a path through the booths.

“You don’t see anything interesting at all?” she asked, glancing behind at Sid, who fell further back.

“No,” he said and scowled at her. He crossed his arms tightly around his chest and dropped his head down hiding his face.

“Look down there. They have funnel cakes. You don’t even want a funnel cake?”

“No,” he said under his breath. “You already asked me that!” Monica found a gap and made her way to the road where the crowd of people and booths lined up one after another. She glided through the crowd glancing at each of the tables as she passed searching for something, anything Sid might like. The crowd of people swelled around her. Monica glanced back to make sure Sid still followed behind. He pushed his way through the sea of arms and legs letting them bounce against him as he continued forward. She maneuvered her way to the end of the path where the funnel cake booth waited, and slowed to let Sid catch up.

“Are you sure you don’t want a funnel cake?” She stopped in front of the booth. The line stretched all the way back to the bathrooms like a meandering snake. Hopefully, his answer wouldn’t change now. She didn’t feel like waiting in the long line.

“Yes, I’m sure,” he grumbled at her side hiding his face against her shirt. She put her arm around him and started leading him back toward the car. Well, that was a short, pointless trip.

“What’s your problem Sid? You used to love going to stuff like this.” She squeezed him tight to protect him from the cold. Why didn’t he listen when she told him to wear a coat? He never listened to her anymore.

Monica stopped in front of some kids playing with a giant Earth ball, tossing the planet back and forth to each other, laughing and running. “Look at that! Why don’t you play with them for a while? It will warm you up.” She jostled him a bit against her side and ruffled his blond hair. He poked his head out from under her arm. His cheeks reddened, and his eyes narrowed. He pulled away from her, crossed his arms, and walked faster to the car.  

“Are you crazy mom!” he yelled back at her. “They’re way too young for me. Can we please go now?” He marched ahead of her straight to the car never looking back.  

After the Earth Day disaster, Monica drove to the public library. She heard a writer’s celebration was being held today and wanted to check it out. She also hoped to expose Sid to something new besides video games. They walked into the children’s Library entrance and Sid stopped at the door.

A group of young children gathered around a woman dressed as the Easter bunny. The woman read from a book to the children. They all seemed mesmerized by her as she continued reading in a high-pitched friendly voice.

“Mom! Why do you keep dragging me to all this kiddy stuff? I’m not five anymore.” His eyes burned with anger evaporating the cold sea that occupied them before.  

“We’re just walking through the kid section. We’re not staying here. We’re going upstairs. There’s supposed to be a lot of authors here today. I wanted to check it out,” she said and searched around for the stairs leading out of the children’s section before Sid had a meltdown.

“They’re over there mom. Are you blind?” he said, guessing she searched for the stairs.

“You don’t have to be snotty about it. What’s gotten into you today?” She climbed the stairs, hearing Sid’s stomping footsteps behind her. She sighed, and continued until she reached the next level. All she wanted was to spend time with him. Why did he have to act like this? She should have left him at home with his games.

As soon as she opened the stairwell door, another crowd of people appeared, filling the main floor of the library. Loud conversations drifted around the long tables hugging the walls with authors displaying their books. They smiled at fans and signed their names. Monica didn’t recognize any of the writers. Booths for some of the local colleges intertwined with the author tables. She hesitated in front of the Mountain State University booth. She wanted to ask if they had a graphic-design program yet, but Sid started huffing with impatient breathing behind her.

“Why are we at a bookstore?” he asked and crossed his arms in front of him.

“This isn’t a bookstore. This is a library like you have at school,” she said, surprised, “I thought we would get a library card while we’re here so we can save money. They might have that book series you like, and you can check them out instead of spending your money on it.”

“But mom, I want to be able to keep the books. I don’t want to give them back!”

She sighed. Apparently, he planned to fight her on everything today. She walked over to the main counter and searched for a schedule of events. She didn’t see one, and turned to leave.

“Do you need help, miss?” A man’s voice came from behind. She turned and saw a man about forty or so with a friendly smile. She stumbled for a moment, trying to remember why she came.

“Can I get a library card?” Monica finally managed to say.

“Why sure, that’s why I’m here.” The man’s smile brightened, and friendliness oozed off him. The man even brightened up Mr. Grumpy Pants Sid’s face. “Would you like a library card too, young man?”  

“No thank you,” Sid returned softly, shifting his body awkwardly. Sid moved closer to the counter next to Monica and grabbed her arm. His body relaxed, and the stubbornness melted from his stiff frame.  

“Here you go, mam, just fill this out, and we’ll get you in the system.” The man winked at Sid. “If you change your mind, your mom can check books out for you, or you can still sign up for your own card.”

 Warmth lit Sid’s face as he smiled at the man. Monica hardly saw that brightness anymore. Sid reserved it for strangers now. Her heart sank in her chest as she realized he was a teen. The beautiful little boy full of love and hope for her was gone. He’d never want to spend time with her the way they used to ever again. He belonged to the adult world now, not her.  

She patted his head and immediately his cheeks turned red. She quickly removed her hand and smiled apologetically at him. She understood now. She had to change. Letting go would be hard, but she could do it.

]]> (Roxanne Crouse) Wed, 16 Sep 2015 04:15:00 GMT
Author Interview: Simon John Cox Author of The Slender Man
  • Where did the idea for The Slender Man come from?
  • It’s an internet meme, which started a few years ago on the Something Awful forums. I stumbled across it one day and got simultaneously scared out of my pants and inspired. It was an odd sensation.

    1. I noticed other books with the same title. Is this a well-known myth?

    I suppose it depends on which grubby corners of the internet you skulk around in…I discovered it by chance a few months ago, but I expect a lot of people have known about it for a while. It was also featured in a BBC radio programme just before Christmas (although my story was written and published before then).

    1. What kind of research did you need to do for The Slender Man?

    Not a great deal of formal research, really – the antagonist isn’t real so there was no need to understand that, and the rest (characters, locations) are generally drawn from experience.

    1. What about an outline? Do you map your way through a story or go by the seat of your pants?

    I have to know the beginning and the end before I write a single word – otherwise I don’t know where the story is heading – and I usually know at least two major plot points, but it usually evolves as I write.

    1. What was the most important thing you learned while writing The Slender Man?

    Don’t write horror at night when you’re home alone.

    1. What have you learned in general about writing?

    I don’t think there was any single significant revelation, but every time I write something I feel that it’s a small improvement on the last thing I wrote.

    1. What was the hardest part about writing The Slender Man?


    The nightmares. Seriously. Writing it gave me nightmares.

    1. Is anything in your story based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

    The plot is all imagination, but there are plenty of elements that are based on my experiences – there are Second World War bunkers in the woods near where I live, for example, and the characters and locations are loosely based on amalgamations of people and places that I know. I’d say that the main premise of isolation and an imminent, inescapable threat are certainly what I personally find most terrifying.

    1. Did you try traditional publishing before self-publishing? What happened? What made you decide to self-publish?

    I tried traditional publishing with my first novel, but it was considered by agents to be “good but not commercial enough”, which I think means that no-one beyond my immediate family would buy it. I’ve had short stories published in various traditional and online collections, but the main thing that made me try self-publishing was the immediacy of it – once I’ve written, edited, re-edited and re-re-edited my work I upload it and it’s just there. There’s none of the momentum-sapping delay that I’ve found with traditional (print and online) publishing. 

    1. How do you market The Slender Man? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?

    I held a launch on Facebook, and promoted it (sparingly) via my Twitter feed, but beyond that I think people have been finding it by search engines or hearing about it by word of mouth. I published it on Amazon and Smashwords, which I think works well – Amazon is the big shop window, and then Smashwords is essentially a distributor to Apple, Sony, Barnes & Noble etc. It’s not doing badly, so I think I’m doing something right.

    1. Are there any other self-published authors that have grasped your interest or inspired you to self-publish?

    I had work published in the Kindle All-Stars anthology last year, and that put me in touch with a number of self-published authors who have inspired and supported me. People like Bernard Schaffer, Laurie Laliberte, Tony Healey, J. J. Toner, William Vitka, Matt Posner, Keri Knutson, David Hulegaard…actually pretty much everyone who was published in the KAS anthology.

    1. Would you take a publishing deal if you were offered one? Why?

    For a novel I would, because the perception still persists that traditional publishing guarantees a minimum standard of quality (even though some really terrible books make it into print, and many contain more editing errors than my self-published stories do).

    1. What format do you prefer to read in, ebook, paperback, or hardcover?

    Paperback. I’m a traditionalist.

    1. Where do you think the writing world will end up in the future, your predictions?

    I think that the ereader revolution will continue and gather pace as non-traditional markets increasingly adopt it (i.e. China, Brazil, India etc), but that paper books will still remain part of the mix for a very long time to come. I also suspect that the self-publishing world will act more and more as a kind of publicly validated slush pile from which agents and publishers pick new writers.

    1. What new projects are you working on now?

    I’m working on a novel that I’m hoping to finish by the end of February. It’s about one man whose official records are all erased, and another who is brought into existence by having false records created for him. It’s better than it sounds, honest.

    1. Is there anything about writing you find particularly challenging?

    Editing. It’s just dreary, and as I’m the writer I often can’t see the wood for the trees.

    1. Who came up with the cover design and where did the art come from?

    I designed the cover myself, by pasting white text over a royalty-free image using MS Paint. It’s essentially as low-tech as you can get without resorting to pen and paper.

    1. Did you hire anyone to help you edit? Why?

    I had a selection of people read the story and provide feedback, which I then reviewed and mostly incorporated, but I didn’t hire anyone to help me. Partly because I don’t do this for a living and therefore wouldn’t want to invest money on the process, and partly because I’m a qualified copy editor and proof reader and also a massive pedant.

    1. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? Your best compliment?

    When I first started giving my work to other people to read all of the criticism was tough, but now I’ve been writing long enough to know firstly that if the criticism is constructive then I can learn from it and improve, and secondly that some people just won’t like what I write, and there’s nothing I can do but accept that. The best compliment I ever received was that someone said that he rated my unpublished novel as one of his top ten favourite books of all time (yes, he honestly said that), but I suspect that he’d previously only read nine books.

    1. Do you have any advice for other writers?

    “Write what you know” doesn’t necessarily mean write about your job or your hobby, it means use your experiences of life to create deeper characters, richer dialogue and more engaging situations.

    1. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

    I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read any of my work, and to say that if you enjoyed it then I’m very pleased and if you didn’t then it doesn’t mean that I don’t love you and I hope we can still be friends.

    1. How can fans that enjoyed The Slender Man find out more about you and what you have coming out in the future?

    The best thing to do would probably be to follow me on Twitter (@simonjohncox) or look in on my website ( 

    ]]> (Roxanne Crouse) Author Interview Wed, 09 Sep 2015 20:00:00 GMT
    Book Review: Three Wishes by Paula Millhouse #amreading #bookreview

    Three Wishes

    by Paula Millhouse

    4 out of 5 Stars

    I enjoyed this story. It's a simple tale of finding true love and is a short read. You can read it in a few hours on a weekend or on vacation. It's well written and edited and formatted professionally for kindle. It follows the pattern of a classic fairy tale so if that's something you enjoy pick it up.

    However, do not pick it up for your twelve year old. This book is for adults. Near the end it does contain a very graphic sex scene. As sweet an innocent as the rest of the story was, I wasn't expecting it. Nor was it needed in my opinion, which is why I gave the story 4 stars instead of 5. I think a more innocent and romantic scene would have fit the story better. For those who love hot sex you're in for a treat.

    If you enjoy stories about true love and fairies with a happily ever after and are 18 or older, then I recommend reading Three Wishes.

    ]]> (Roxanne Crouse) Millhouse Paula Three Wishes book by review Sun, 23 Aug 2015 17:00:00 GMT
    Free Read: The Picture by Roxanne Crouse The Picture

    by Roxanne Crouse

        I opened the bag from the one hour photo and shuffled through the images. Slowly at first, but as my heart raced, I quickened my pace. My son, Logan, starred in most of them looking beautiful with his uncut messy hair and dirty cake-covered face. I watched as he tore through each of his birthday presents throwing wrapping paper around like rain. Next he blew out seven candles on his cake and ate a ton of sugar with his friends.

         My eyes teared as I got to the last image, the fourteenth image. Only fourteen. I should have bought more film. My son sat on a video game motorcycle staring at the screen trying to drive, but the controls were too spread out for him to manipulate. He tried anyway.  He never listened to me; his will was like stone, unbreakable.

         I studied his colorful unmatched clothes and untamable hair and my heart sank deep into my chest. So deep I never thought I’d be able to put it back where it belonged. I wished so badly that he would have looked at the camera for this last picture, his last picture. I didn’t want to think about it.

         Had I known, I would have bought more film. I would have tried to get better shots. The pictures seemed so insignificant then. I thought I had plenty of time, his whole life to get great shots of him. Now this poorly exposed image, where he wasn’t even looking, was the last.

         I fell against the wall and slid to the ground holding the image in my hand. I cried out, letting all my pain finally escape. I didn’t care what the people on the sidewalk thought, this pain throbbed in me, and I could no longer hide from the truth. Logan was gone, and this piece of paper was my last memory of him.

    ]]> (Roxanne Crouse) Crouse Roxanne author creative free read short story writing Sun, 16 Aug 2015 14:00:00 GMT
    Author Interview: S. Briones Lim Author of Parricide
  • Where did the idea for Parricide come from? My husband actually came up with the idea. One night we were watching a marathon of one of our fave shows, True Blood, and my husband merely remarked, “Why isn’t there a story about a vampire who kills an entire bloodline?” That comment alone sparked a whole story in my mind.
  • What other genre(s) do you write in? How many books do you have out? Titles? Just like the books on my TBR list, I’m a bit eclectic. Though I tend to lean towards Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy and Horror, I also like write New Adult and Women’s Fiction. To date I have the Life Force Trilogy out. This includes Green, Red and the upcoming release Silver. By the end of the year I hope to have my werewolf novel and New Adult novel completed as well.
  • What kind of research did you need to do for Parricide? Parricide weaves together past and present in order to tell Stanley’s story. Since a chunk of the novel takes place in 1904, I had to research fashion, architecture and even mannerisms and leisure activities to make the book believable.
  • What about an outline? Do you map your way through a story or go by the seat of your pants? I always like to think my stories write themselves. Half the time, I basically dream (no joke!) my stories up and all that’s left is to put it on paper. I always tend to have a basic outline in my head, but sometimes the story just takes over and even I’m surprised where it ends up!
  • What was the most important thing you learned while writing Parricide? What have you learned in general about writing? I learned to write for myself. Parricide touches upon tough subjects and initially I was afraid of how people would respond to it. However, I realized how important telling the story was to me, regardless of other people’s perceptions. You can’t please everyone. It’s a lesson that I’m learning more and more each day.
  • What was the hardest part about writing Parricide? Parricide is pretty dark and there are many scenes in the book that were a bit tough to write. I wanted to make the story believable and that entailed diving into the characters’ mindsets and emotions  throughout the story. Given the emotional turmoil Stanley lived through, his mind was a pretty dark place to be in. Another tough aspect of Parricide were the killing scenes. A few of the scenes actually made me a bit uncomfortable to write, but like I said, I needed to make the story believable. I couldn’t go easy on a character just because a part of me would cringe at some of the gore factor.
  • Is anything in your story based on real life experiences or purely all imagination? I tend to put a little of myself in the characters. Certain mannerisms and certain phrases and expressions I’m known to do or say often find themselves into the book! Everything else is purely imagination, though J
  • Did you try traditional publishing before self-publishing? What happened? What made you decide to self-publish?  Actually, even before my very first novel was written, I knew I wanted to self-publish. I just really wanted to get my stories out there and honestly, I was a bit naive to the whole industry and how it truly worked. With Parricide, I did query a few agents and did garner some interest. However, after many months of playing the waiting game, I decided to self-pub this title as well. I guess the tipping point was when an editor told me to rewrite the whole first chapter of the book. Though I’m all for criticism and feedback, I had already had some beta readers who LOVED the first chapter and told me it was what hooked them from the start. I just couldn’t in good conscience take that away from Parricide just because a publisher told me to.
  • There is a rumor going around that all self-published books are poorly written and ill put together. What do you say to that? It is totally not true! I’ve read countless self-published books without even knowing they were self-published! In fact, some of my fave authors started out self-published :) If a writer loves his/her story, s/he will find away to ensure it is polished top to bottom.
  • Has it been worth it to go down the self-publishing route? (in terms of sales and other less tangible reasons) Self-publishing has allowed me to attain a dream that I could still have been waiting on. Though getting sales can be difficult at times, that goes for any product out there on the market. The feeling I get when I hear from my readers, hold the first proof of my book and even seeing it on Goodreads has made it way worth it!
  • How do you market Parricide? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre? Little known fact, I was actually a Social Media Marketing Coordinator for an advertising company. I’ve seen how great the social media platform works in reaching your target audience. Above all that, I absolutely love interacting with my readers. There’s no better avenue than word of mouth and reader interaction. I think Social Media takes care of all that.
  • Are there any other self-published authors that have grasped your interest or inspired you to self-publish? I began reading books by Tina Weber and J.A. Redmerski back when they were self-published authors. I fell in love with their books before I even knew the difference between traditional and self-published! They truly inspired me to take the next steps in a dream that I’ve held onto for all my life.
  • Would you take a publishing deal if you were offered one? Why? Yes, I would take a publishing deal so that I can reach more readers. Though I absolutely love self-publishing, having the marketing backing of a publishing house would truly be awesome and very helpful. I’m all for experiencing all facets of this industry and would love to learn more about traditional publishing through firsthand experience.
  • What format do you prefer to read in, e-book, paperback, or hardcover? Any format! I’m such a big bookworm, that I find e-books more convenient for me. I love having all my books at my fingertips. Thank God for my Kindle app on my phone J However, I still love the feel and smell of books. Can’t go wrong with a hard copy.
  • Where do you think the writing world will end up in the future, your predictions? I think there will be a surge in indie and hybrid authors. As an Indie author myself, I’m excited to see all the new books that may not have been published under traditional press. I love reading, so the more books out there, the better!
  • What new projects are you working on now? I am in the finally stages of rewrites/revisions for SILVER (book 3 of the Life Force Trilogy). I am also in the middle of writing a New Adult novel and finishing up my werewolf novel. On top of that, my beta readers have expressed interest in a follow-up for Parricide. So, yes, I’m working on that too! I have a bit of a habit of spreading myself too thin.
  • Is there anything about writing you find particularly challenging? Myself , haha. I’m my own worst critic and even after a book is complete, I always find certain things I’d like to go back and change about it. It’s come to the point that once a book of mine is out in the market, I tend not to reread it.
  • Who came up with the cover design and where did the art come from? I came up with the design and produced it myself. I wanted an eery, creepy type cover to encompass the overall darkness and terror of Parricide. I’m quite happy with how it came out! Out of all my designs, I think Parricide’s cover is my favorite one.
  • Did you hire anyone to help you edit? Why? Unfortunately, as a self-published author, funds are a bit hard to come by. Professional Editors tend to cost a lot of money and right now, it’s not a luxury I can afford. That being said, I have a team of beta readers, friends and family who read, edit and proofread my books. One of my friends is actually a professional proofreader, so that helps me out a lot! They help me catch things I would never have and for that, I am so thankful.
  • What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? Your best compliment? I think the toughest criticism a writer can receive is to find out someone really didn’t care for your story. As writers, we put our heart and soul into our work. Though I know you can’t please everyone, it still hurts a bit to think that a reader didn’t care for your book at all. That being said, the best compliment I received was from readers telling me that they “couldn’t put the book down.” My heart sings a happy song whenever I find out a reader fell in love with my book as much as I loved writing it.
  • Do you have any advice for other writers? Just to keep on keeping on J Write for yourself and nobody else!
  • Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? I just wanted to thank all my readers for their support. It still flabbergasts me to think I have actual “readers.” I am so grateful for each one.
  • How can fans that enjoyed Parricide find out more about you and what you have coming out in the future? They can follow me on Twitter (, Facebook (, Instagram (username: Sbrioneslim) and of course find me on my blog: 
  • ]]> (Roxanne Crouse) Sun, 09 Aug 2015 20:00:00 GMT
    Book Review: The Six Train to Wisconsin by Kourtney Heintz #amreading

    The Six Train to Wisconsin 
    by Kourtney Heintz

    4 out of 5 Stars

    The Six Train to Wisconsin is a contemporary fantasy that is mostly true to life except some of the characters have special abilities such as hearing thoughts or being able to enter other people's dreams. The main characters, Oliver and Kai, are a married couple living in New York. The concentrated population is having a detrimental effect on Kai who hears everyone's thoughts and experiences their deaths if they are in close enough proximity. To make the situation worse, Kai works as a social worker helping abused children. All these things combined together sends Kai in a suicide spiral that her husband wants to save her from. Oliver decides to kidnap his wife from the big city and take her to the small town he grew up in so his wife can escape the voices.

    Right away when I started reading I liked the voices of the two characters and the way the story is written. I also liked the very artistic, visual way Kai's power is handled throughout the story. Everything came across realistically, until the kidnapping. The kidnapping part is written well, but I don't know if it's a realistic action of a husband. It's more likely he would have worn her down over time until something happened that convinced her to try his idea for a while. The death of the girl would have been a great reason for her to change and follow him to the small town. I'm sure many will disagree and that's OK. The kidnapping parts, as I said, are written well and Oliver is desperate enough and Kai is stubborn enough to make it believable.

    The story continued well and kept my interest until the part of the missing child. Here, about 60% in and continuing until close to the end, I felt the story started to drag, too much character thoughts on the situation. Some of it was repetitive and I think it could have been cut or shortened to keep the novel moving forward. Again, some readers will disagree loving all the internal drama. I love it, too, but not when it's the same info. Once is enough for me. Perhaps the author was trying to delay the ending to keep the reader in suspense longer. I didn't have that effect on me. I wanted to skip it to get back to the good stuff.

    One thing I'm really happy about, this self-published book has an ending. So many don't and I never read on when the first book doesn't end because I don't trust the author to know how to end a novel if they can't end their first novel. Kudos to the author. The ending is a pretty decent one, too. I think most readers will enjoy it. I guessed it earlier in the story, but that's OK. I don't think it was meant to be a surprise ending to the reader, only the characters.

    One point that bothered me that brought the star rating down, the explicit sex descriptions. I don't like erotica, preferring a more Gone With the Wind handling of sex scenes. Detailed descriptions of the act turns me off and makes me cringe, but for those who like it, you'll definitely be satisfied. Someone else complained about the language in the novel. It didn't bother me. The characters are adults and adults cuss. With that said, this book is not for young readers, eighteen and above only.

    Would I recommend reading this book? Yes. Despite the slow area and the sex, I did enjoy the story and the characters. The plot is solid and well constructed, the characters are developed and have pasts and issues like normal people, and the novel won't leave you hanging without an ending like so many other self-pubbers.

    ]]> (Roxanne Crouse) Thu, 23 Jul 2015 04:30:00 GMT
    Free Read: The Note by Roxanne Crouse #freeread #shortstory      The Note

    by Roxanne Crouse

         While everyone stood in the hall, I snuck over to Hanna’s desk and carefully placed the note in-between her books so she wouldn’t see it right away. I had to be quick, the morning bell would ring any minute and someone would see me. As soon as the note disappeared between her books, I strolled away from the pile casually, trying not to draw attention to myself, and returned to my desk on the other side of the room. Sweat broke out on my hands and neck as my heart pounded and my whole body tingled. I slid into my seat and worked to steady my breathing. If I didn’t calm down, I’d give myself away.

         Hanna would return to her desk any minute. I clenched my fists and longed for her to find my note during this class. The expression on her face would be priceless. My cheeks flushed thinking about her reaction. Would she smile or giggle? Would she show the note to the other girls in her gang or hide it and follow its instructions in secret? Would she make a fool of herself in front of the whole class as I did? I sure hoped so. Her embarrassment would be monumental.

         The bell rang and Hanna strode into the classroom with the other girls surrounding her and sat at her desk chattering away. I tried not to stare as she gossiped with her followers flinging her perfect blonde hair around for attention. I watched her hands, willing them to pick up the stack. She teased me a few times, gliding her fingers down the cover hiding the note. When she finally picked up the book, I thought I’d rupture. Her perfect pink manicured nails reached for the folded piece of paper and she unfolded it without hesitation. My heart raced so fast the pounding made my throat ache. I thought for sure everyone in the room could hear the banging in my chest as I watched her from the corner of my eye.

         The note was short. The message, written in my sloppiest handwriting to imitate a male’s, only took a few seconds for her to read. She glanced around the room and smiled, making eye contact with me for a brief second. I shifted my eyes to another part of the room and pretended not to notice, not to care. Hanna whispered to her gang, but I couldn’t hear what she said. I glanced over in time and saw her show the folded paper to the other girls and she clutched it to her chest and jumped excitedly in her seat. The other girls swarmed around her and buzzing sounds of, “Wow, he’s gorgeous!” and, “You’re so lucky!” surrounded her like she was queen of the hive.

         Air shot through my nose as I suppressed a snicker. I tried not to look in her direction, but couldn’t help peeking. I had to see her joy before her heart smashed into a million pieces. She’d never make fun of me again after I finished with her. I didn’t expect Hanna to be so excited about her, “secret admirer,” and her girly outburst sweetened the prank that much more. She had made fun of me when I told her who my new boyfriend was and everyone laughed at me; the stupid new girl.

         Harry had asked me out with a note. He seemed nice enough so I said yes, not knowing anything about him. Turns out he was the geek of the school.  Hanna embarrassed me in front of everyone in the lunchroom when she stood and said, “Oh my god, look! Harry balls finally found a bitch to mate with! How sweet, they're holding hands!”

         I snatched my hand away from Harry and scooted away even though his eyes glassed over and pleaded with me. I shrunk away from him and he crumpled like a dry leaf in Hanna’s fist. I had to break it off with him immediately, even though he was nice, or be the laughing stock of the school. I wasn’t strong enough to stand up to Hanna, but I would get even with her.

         I wrote a fake secret admirer note and hinted Jake, the hottest guy in school, had given it to her. She had a crush on him. He would be waiting outside the art class later today like he did every day. The note told Hanna to meet him at the art door by the lockers later. I couldn’t wait! When she walked up to him and professed her feelings, I’d die laughing. I already picked out the perfect spot to hide and watch the whole scene unfold. I couldn’t suppress the smile on my face as I stole one last glance at happy Hanna, and neither could she. She had a need to share her smile with everyone in the class. Soon I’d watch that smile die.

    ]]> (Roxanne Crouse) Thu, 16 Jul 2015 14:00:00 GMT
    Author Interview: Elisabeth Wheatly Author of Fanged Princess
  • Where did the idea for Fanged Princess come from?
  • I got the idea from reading romance stories and noticing that in some of them there is a “third wheel” character who is usually a brother or sister to one of the lovers and who often tries to help them out. So with Fanged Princess, I took a love story and told it from the perspective of the “third wheel.”


    1. Was it easier writing your third book compared to the first and second?

    Fanged Princess was one of those extremely rare stories that seemed to shoot out my finger tips and onto the keyboard. With my other stories, I usually have to put a lot of effort into them, but FP was much easier. I think it had something to do with the length. *sheepish grin*


    1. What kind of research did you need to do for Fanged Princess?

    Well, most of the research involved the climatic scene at the end which takes place on a dam. I looked into different dams in the area where the story takes place, trying to find the right one. I think I did other research, but I can’t recall right now.


    1. What about an outline? Do you map your way through a story or go by the seat of your pants?

    I wrote Fanged Princess pretty much on the seat of my pants with just a very generalized outline. But normally, for my full-length novels, I write out a sequence of events to keep me focused.


    1. What was the most important thing you learned while writing Fanged Princess? What have you learned in general about writing?

    I’m not sure I learned anything new about writing itself, but FP definitely had its own set of challenges in that it was written in the first person present tense and takes place in this world (whereas all my other books take place in a fantasy setting).


    1. What was the hardest part about writing Fanged Princess?

    The hardest element of the story was, I think, trying to figure out just how traditional/non-traditional I wanted to make my vampires. But I’m very pleased with how they turned out.


    1. You’re a young writer at seventeen and write exceptionally well. What training have you had if any? Does anyone else in your family write?

    Why, thank you! I have had very little training, actually. I took a few basic high school level courses on general writing, but not much else. As for other members of my family, my mother has a creative writing degree from the University of Washington and she definitely encouraged my writing.

    1. Is anything in your story based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

    There’s probably some elements from my experiences in there, I just don’t recognize them. The whole redneck aspect of the vampire hunters is certainly based on people I know, but I think for the most part, it’s all my imagination.

    1. Your book is published with Chengalera Press. What made you decide to go with a small press instead of self-publishing?

    I thought it would be better to have the guidance of editors and more experienced writers, particularly for my early novels.

    1. How do you market Fanged Princess? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre? Does your publisher help you with advertising?

    Right now, my focus is mainly on the cyber-circles of social media, blogs, etc. I think that social media works well for my genre because of the targeted age group (13-18). My publisher does very little by way of marketing, but I still love them.

    1. Are there any other self-published authors that have grasped your interest or inspired you to self-publish?

    Well, of course there are self-published authors who’ve caught my notice! Intisar Khanani, Erica Stevens, and JD Field to name a few. They’ve definitely gotten me curious about self-publishing and were the ones who made me realize that all those stereotypes about self-published works not being worthwhile were complete poppycock.

    1. I saw your interview on Fox News. How did that happen? Tell us about the experience.

    I was at a signing/reading at the Texas Children’s Hospital and the same lady who helped arrange that also was nice enough to put us in touch with the news station. I was very excited to be there, though I couldn’t appreciate the experience very well because of those darned butterflies in my stomach.


    1. What format do you prefer to read in, eBook, paperback, or hardcover?

    I prefer paperbacks, though I confess to having a (not so) mild addiction to Kindle books.


    1. Where do you think the writing world will end up in the future, your predictions?

    Oh, darn, I don’t know. From what I can see, the traditional “Big Six” publishers are in an ever-worsening relationship with their No. 1 distributor/competitor, Amazon. I can’t really say were the publishing world will end up, but it appears that if the “Big Six” don’t change their business model (mainly their bookstore return policies and their eBook pricing standards) they will be in trouble.


    1. What new projects are you working on now?

    Right now, I’ve just finished a series opener for a new YA Fantasy and am now returning to work on my original series, the Argetallam Saga. After that, I should be back to working on the next Fanged Princess novella!


    1. Is there anything about writing you find particularly challenging?

    Writer’s block. I know everybody hates it, but when I get it, look out world! I become whiny and most difficult to live with, I’m afraid.


    1. Who came up with the cover design and where did the art come from?

    I came up with the cover design from stock images and some basic graphic manipulation. A graphic designer did the art for my first book, but I’ve since been learning to do it myself.


    1. Did you hire anyone to help you edit? Why?

    My publisher has an editor who they contract with. He has a great deal of experience and definitely knows how to spot the flaws in a story.


    1. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? Your best compliment?

    My toughest criticism was when a reviewer said that the storyline of one of my books “never went anywhere” or something along those lines. I was a little let down by that. But that which does not kill us makes us stronger, right?


    My best compliment was, I think, when another reviewer said that people who enjoyed Sarah J. Mass’ Throne of Glass would enjoy my Argetallam Saga. I absolutely adore Ms. Mass’ books, so you can imagine how happy that made me!


    1. Do you have any advice for other writers?

    My advice to other writers is “keep writing.” No one else can write your story like you can and every single bestselling author was once an amateur who was just too stubborn to quit.


    1. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

    You people are AWESOME!


    1. How can fans that enjoyed Fanged Princess find out more about you and what you have coming out in the future?

    I can be found in all these places. See you there!




    Facebook page:


    Goodreads author page:






    Barnes & Noble:

    ]]> (Roxanne Crouse) Author Interview with Thu, 09 Jul 2015 19:45:00 GMT