Local Author/Artist Interview

cherryblossoms SM by Lou Belcher

Picture above by Lou Belcher

Today, I want you to meet someone who is so incredibly talented. She is an author, a blogger, and a webmaster. I love her work and I think you will too. She’s local to boot! Her name is Lou Belcher. She runs a fabulous website called Florida Book News, amongst others. There you can find the latest and greatest in Florida Book News, aptly named.

Tell me something about yourself. (Where did you grow up, significant relationships, what do you do for fun because writing, as little or as much as you want).

I grew up in Michigan and moved to Virginia after college. For many years, I worked as a speech pathologist, but I always kept my hand in writing and art. Now, I live in Florida and am a full-time artist/writer/blogger. I have written several books over the years and am an oil painter too.

In 2008, I became interested in blogging and started several blogs. Two of them, Florida Book News (www.FloridaBookNews.com) and Brevard Art News (www.BrevardArtNews.com ), are dedicated to giving attention to writers and artists from Florida. In addition, I have started several other blogs over the years: one about my cat, another about writing, and one about photography. Now, I have combined those into www.LouBelcher.com . And, I have another for my art at www.LouBelcherArt.com .

When did you know you wanted to be a writer? An artist?

I minored in English in college and loved to write, but didn’t have any aspirations at that time of writing for anyone but myself. In the 90s, I started writing fiction, but didn’t publish any of it. When I began writing magazine articles, I realized that I had found a home in writing non-fiction.

What have you written? Tell me about them.

At first, I mostly wrote magazine articles until I started editing and writing full time. In 2010, I started using Twitter and decided to write a book about how it works. I published Ready Set Tweet shortly thereafter, and wrote a book about my cat called, The Zen of Max (a memoir of great wisdom and many naps) around the same time.

In October 2014, I published Double Trouble A thru Z (The Adventures of Bugsy and Knuckles). It’s a cartoon alphabet book about my cats, narrated by their cartoon friend, Checkers the Mouse.

And, most recently, I published In the Company of Cats (a memoir of the early years of my current cats) and Black, White, and Color All Over: a coloring book for all ages.

What type of art do you produce? Tell me about your work.

Throughout my life, I have enjoyed crafts. It wasn’t until the last few years that I took up painting. I started out with pen and ink and continue to create in that medium. I have recently begun painting with oils and love it.

BWC front sm by Lou Belcher

What is your favorite genre to write?

Non-fiction: how to pieces and humor.

Tell me about your writing process. Is it similar to your artistic process?

I suppose they are similar. I use an outline in writing and start with a sketch in painting. In both, I complete a rough draft and just keep refining until it reaches the point of completion.

Where do you get the inspiration for your art/writing?

I have two cats who provide daily inspiration for whimsical art. I have used them as models in many of my pen and ink pictures and in paintings I call KittyScapes. And as you can tell from the titles of my books, I do write about them also.

My other inspiration for art is everyday life. I love painting flowers, birds and just about any subject that shows the beauty of nature.

Do you have a special place where you write? Do your art?

I have a studio in my condo where it all happens. I have way too many books and way too many art supplies, but it all works out and I love being in my studio working on one project or another.

Do you have any type of music you listen to while you write/create?

I guess I’m not all that tuned in. I do love music, but it doesn’t seem to matter what I listen to when I’m working. Most of the time, I work in silence.

How long does it usually take you to complete a book? Or an art piece?

It takes me months to complete a book. Art is much more immediate. It takes sometimes a day and sometimes a month to create art.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something (either write or art or both)?

I have always used my spare time creatively. I’m not sure that I actually decide to sit down and create. It just seems natural.

Do you write/create art full-time or part-time?

It’s full time. I don’t have any set hours. It just seems, with the studio in my condo, I’m either working on something or thinking about my next project most of the time.

The blogs take time each day. In addition, I write or create something (maybe just a sketch or two or a journal entry) daily. I have a journal that is full of ideas for blog posts, scribbles, and sketches – waiting to happen.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about whimsy. I think people don’t smile enough, so I hope to make them smile. Many times, my cats tell the story on my blog. By using them as my voice, they can tell it like it is and keep it light.

I am also passionate about keeping life simple. I have recently begun reading about minimalism. Although I have way too much stuff to call myself a minimalist, I am currently working to downsize to the point where I have only those things that are either necessary or bring me joy.

Have you written any books that made a transformative effect on you? If so, in what way?

I think the process of writing or of painting is what is transformative for me. I do enjoy the process and time just flies when I’m creating.

Do you find yourself returning to any recurring themes within your writing/art and, if so, are you any closer to finding an answer?

One recurring theme that I mentioned earlier is whimsy. I hope my work is a vehicle to boost others from whatever seriousness they are facing.

Another recurring theme is bringing attention to writers and artists in Florida. I like to hear when Florida Book News and Brevard Art News make a difference in the lives of writers/artists. I love hearing that someone sold a book or a painting because a reader saw a notice about it on one of my blogs.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I am currently working on a book called Before You Write. Hopefully, it will be out in the late fall. It’s meant as a resource of answers to the questions writers ask about writing and publication.

As far as my art is concerned, I have just begun making it available to the public by joining the Strawbridge Art League Gallery. It’s hanging in their gallery in Historic Downtown Melbourne, Florida.

If you could jump ahead in time, what would be happening for you?

I don’t have a clue. I generally try not to jump ahead in time. I find if I look too far ahead, I want to do everything right now. So, to maintain focus, I try to concentrate on what’s on my plate at the moment.

For self-published authors

What influenced your decision to self-publish?

I like to do things myself. When I was first writing, I had a couple of unfortunate experiences with agents and decided to keep things in my own hands.

How do you market your book?

I have marketed my books in person and on line. Yearly, I participate in the Author for Authors book fair in the Eau Gallie Civic Center during the ArtWorks Fine Art Festival in the Eau Gallie Arts District. On-line, I market through my blog and through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…. I mainly, keep the names of the books in front of the public.

Do you design your own book covers?

I designed the cover for the coloring book, and I painted a painting for the cover for Double Trouble A thru Z. All other covers were professionally done.

Tell me about your website—when did you start it and what made you want to start it?

Florida Book News started as a blog about writing in late 2007. It grew into a blog about Florida authors and organizations over the first few months. I decided I wanted to bring attention to the many books published by Florida writers and to spread the word about Florida writing organizations and writing events.

At the time, I was writing a monthly column on the arts for Brevard Live Magazine. During that time, I developed my first blog, Brevard Art News. Essentially, I wanted to bring attention to the many artists in Brevard. The reaction to it was positive and I thought it would be good to do the same for the writing community. Rather than a blog about just Brevard County writers, I decided to make that one about writers and writing organizations throughout Florida.

For both blogs, writers or artists send me notices about their books or about events coming up and I post them on the blog. I have received positive feedback and enjoy the many people I have met through the blogs.

Who can join and how do they join?

Essentially, Florida Book News is a free service. Anyone can send in information and as long as it would be of interest to Florida writers.

In addition, I have a program on it called Friends of Florida Book News. If people join this program, I post a badge with their name on it in the right column of the blog. If you click on a badge, you will click through to that person’s web page.

There is information about Friends of Florida Book News at the top of the blog. Also, there is information there on how to submit notices to Florida Book News.

Florida Book News www.FloridaBookNews.com

Brevard Art News www.BrevardArtNews.com 

Website about my cat, and about writing, and about photography www.LouBelcher.com

My art www.LouBelcherArt.com 

If you’d like to post notices on Florida Book News or Brevard Art News should send the notices toLou@LouBelcher.com