Tuesday, February 26, 2013

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with J L TAFT - Published Romance Author!

Digitally enhanced Portrait of J L Taft by ArtfulExpress

About J L Taft
Three times Published Erotic Romance Author J L Taft believes that variety is the spice of life. The love of a good man is irreplaceable and that determination will get you anywhere you want to go.
She lives in upstate New York with her husband, daughter and two dogs. She has a large extended family that provides her with a constant source of amusement and inspiration.
She spends her days glued to her laptop with her head in the clouds. When she isn’t writing she can be found reading, gardening, listening to Trans-Siberian Orchestra and enjoying great Finger Lakes wine.

RLHall Interview with Romance Author J L Taft:
(Warning links may lead to adult material)

Welcome. So pleased to be able to collaborate with you on this! I've read your first published e-book "Submitting to the Officer" and since it was a quickie romance story I found myself not wanting to put it down when the last page was read! I wanted to delve further into the relationship between Kris Elliot and Officer Mark Walker. I can only imagine what escapades ensued with their next run-in! Any chance there will be a sequel?

J L Taft:
First off, thanks for reading “Submitting to the Officer”. Kris and Mark’s story came to me after a young girl backed into my car at our local mall. There weren’t any police officers involved (unfortunately :) and I started thinking about how a police officer would meet a girl while on the job. Currently I have no plans to write a sequel to Kris and Mark’s story but no telling what the future will bring! 

The e-book was released to the public on December 26, 2012 and since then I've seen mentions of your writing being steamy, hot, humorous (with a certain attitude) and true to life. As an author, where do you find inspiration for your story lines?

J L Taft:
Inspiration for my stories constantly seem to come from the little things in life. I am always asking myself, What if? I’m usually surprised after a story is done and I look back and realize where it came from. Sometimes the smallest thing can be spun into an exciting story.

It must be difficult to develop your characters fully within a short venue. In your writings do you find that your characters reflect real life observations or are their personalities completely fictional?

J L Taft:
I like to write about strong women who don’t realize they are strong until they are confronted with their worst fears and come out on top. Creating the right situation to push my heroines into looking conflict in the eye and saying "f" off...I got this, is my greatest challenge. So, my characters have real life issues to deal with but they are completely fictional. 

I see that you have a second book release coming up soon. Can you elaborate more on that?

J L Taft:
My second release “Unleashing the Animal” is about a young woman who is oppressed by her high class parents and wants to break out on her own. She is an artist at heart and has had a long time connection with animals. She moves to a rustic cabin in upstate New York and is determined to concentrate on her painting with a quiet life. What she doesn’t expect is making friends with a big black wolf. As the story progresses she finds out that her sexy new neighbor and the black wolf are one and the same. I don’t want to ruin it for you but Blair gets the surprise of her life and a match that only fate could be blamed for.

Have you always loved the written word? When did you first begin writing seriously?

J L Taft:

I have always been a book worm, I spent my teenage years with my nose stuck between romance paperback pages. I have always been writing stories, some finished some not. I wrote seriously for a year before I submitted my first manuscript. 

Photograph of Author by ArtfulExpress

Who is your all-time favorite Romance author?

J L Taft:
My all-time favorite is Nora Roberts I have read her books for years. But when it comes to erotic romance I love  Desiree Holt, her stories stick with you long after the last page is turned.

To what do you attribute your success in being published with Ellora's Cave Publishing as a new author?

J L Taft:
Determination! If at first you don’t succeed…however, I spent weeks researching publishers before I submitted to Ellora's Cave. Finding the right publisher is half the battle. I also have a strong support system that makes all the difference in the world.

How do you see the publishing industry changing with the advent of e-book readers becoming so popular and how does this affect authors? What future do you foresee for printed book sales as a result?

J L Taft:
I think that the rise of e-books has made it so easy to have everything you want to read right at your fingertips. It also has widened who an author can reach with their books. I don’t think that it affects authors all that much, except for the marketing aspect but the process is still the same. Print book sales are obviously going to be lower but sometimes you just want those pages in your hand. There will always be a market for print books, it’s just not going to be as large as it used to be.

Erotic Romance sales have sky-rocketed in the last few years, has that influenced your choice of subject matter or have you always dreamed of being published as a romance novelist?

J L Taft:
I always knew romance was for me, in one form or another. Once I got older I hated that most romance novels will skip over the sex scenes or use so much purple prose that you didn’t really know what was going on. You spend half the story waiting for them to give in and do it and then the door is closed firmly behind them when they finally do. Erotic romance has given me the perfect opportunity to leave the door open and let my readers know each and every detail. So, no sales haven’t influenced what I write, I write what I love.

What advice do you have for new authors based on your experience?

J L Taft:
I read a book last year called “Love Writing” by Virna DePaulwith Tawny Weber. It has the simple and best advice I have heard so far. Submit, Survive and Start again. I have taken this motto to heart and it has helped tremendously.

Are you working on another manuscript now? Where can our readers keep up to date with your career and up-coming book releases?

J L Taft:
I am working on another novella now, called “Hooked for Life”. This one will also be published with "Ellora’s Cave Publishing". Readers can keep up to date with my releases through:

I love to hear from readers, email me directly at: JLTaftRomance@mail.com

Thank you for the great conversation. I'll be watching for your new books!
Photo: New business cards! Exciting!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Don't throw away those old greeting cards! Up-cycle them!

 An accidental Gestalt Owl Face which appeared on paint blotched paper towels when I blotted excess acrylic paint from two symmetrical journal page backgrounds. I've incorporated them into my latest greeting card journal!

I've recently been inspired by Jennibellie Studio blog. I began watching her youtube videos, then went to her blog to check for the written instructions for creating ink sprays. If you've caught the journaling bug you're gonna love her tutorials! And if you haven't caught the bug yet, you probably will be struck by it after watching one of her clips! She is a creative soul and uses lots of up-cycled materials which is, for anyone who knows me, one of my favorite things :-)


I've made greeting card journals before, but I found Jennibelle's binding technique interesting because it's a simple way to include many different sized cards mixed throughout the journal.

I love the end result! It gives your journal an anything goes kind of energy with lots of interest!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Art Journaling is Fun! (Serenity Garden Path)

Serenity Garden Path  

Mixed Media Art Journal Page by RLHall ArtfulExpress
I'm finding that art journaling is fun! This is the page I just finished, using acrylic paint, Gesso, stumping, and paper collage from magazines and newspapers.
The journal I'm working in today is the one I created from old Greeting Cards I had laying around.
I like to make my journals from mostly up-cycled materials. I will be posting more about making these journals and pages along with various techniques that I use to embellish them in the near future.
I've always loved the written journal. The art journal is creative in a different way but just as cathartic and even more fun! Something I do just for myself in my personal journals. Yet it gives me something to share with others to hopefully inspire a creative spark in them as well. 
You can create whole books full of art from just stuff you find around the house - all while expressing your feelings, disappointments, hopes and dreams...
Art Journaling would be a great on-going project for home-schooling, or for a kid's summer project. Imagine how much satisfaction they would derive from flipping through a whole hand-crafted book full of cool art that they created themselves to express their unique thoughts. And it's something very rewarding that you can do right along with them! 


Monday, February 18, 2013

My Privacy Window Covering featued on LuxeFinds!

Privacy Window Covering created by RLHall, ArtfulExpress Creative Life

My Privacy Window Covering made from plastic bottles was featured on LuxeFinds.

"LuxeFinds is a luxury lifestyle search engine for women. Here, you will find a highly curated site where you will be able to easily find what you are looking for. LuxeFinds is about you and for you - the busy woman who appreciates luxury. Tens of thousands of searches every day, our fabulous readers are connected with the very best blog articles.
A simple moment in time, where we are honored to be the ones to introduce you to your new favorite blogs. LuxeFinds will inspire you. LuxeFinds readers are educated women, early adopters of technology, and are part of a rapidly growing group of 55 Million women who read blogs more than once a month. "A really helpful resource if you're trying to narrow those blogs down and actually search for something within a blog - I was able to find a lot of blogs that I've never known about." - The Wall Street Journal  

Sunday, February 17, 2013

My Blog Post shared publically on Google Reader

I just happened to notice that one of my blog posts was shared publically on Google Reader by 
 as seen below: 
Do You find it Necessary to always Title your Works? - Artful Express Creative Life 

'Winter Solstice' by RLHall, ArtfulExpress All Rights Reserved

I recently made a local sale of this matted print, which the buyer said that she loves because it reminds her of the 'Twilight' sagas. It caused me to reflect once again, upon the titles we bestowe upon our works and how they affect the viewer.

In this case, the photo was indeed taken on the evening of the winter solstice, and the mood of the photo somehow reflected that spooky association, I thought. I had not yet read the 'Twilight' books by Stephenie Meyer. After reading and enjoying all of the books, and seeing the first two movies, I still hadn't connected my photo with the popular stories. When it was remarked to me that it was this aspect that ingraciated the person to my work, I could instantly see that the atmosphere of the image did reflect the aura presented in Meyers works. Even the title seemed to fit, since similar celestial events are mentioned in the series.

Had I actually initially named the image Twilight, which would seem to be an appropriate title for the photo as well. I'm sure it would have gotten many more hits in online searches and perhaps many more sales.

An artist's work is an important form of intimate expression of their own reactions and opinions, a form of self-therapy at times. Though I have always thought, of course, that art should bring out the personal feelings of those who view it as well. Those feelings may not always bring the same associations that the artist themselves had intended when they actually created their work. It seems apt that the viewer can relate to your vision, without quite understanding it's deeper meaning in your eyes and soul.

In this respect, a given title may stifle the inner reactions of those contemplating the piece. Though I enjoy authoring titles for my artwork, I sometimes struggle with the exact phrase to express my thoughts. And I sometimes find it interesting to display a work as 'Untitled', so that one can form their own reaction with no preconcieved train of thought from me. Often the most intuitive visions are expressed, that can shed a whole new light or glimmers of meaning beneath the surface...teaching me something new about myself and my craft.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Hand-crafted Native American Styled Art Journal using Up-Cycled Materials

I created this Art Journal from 95% Up-cycled Materials to give as a Christmas Gift.
The cover was made from a cereal box, used packing paper, decorative paper scraps, an old brass drawer pull and a beaded fob with a small feather. Paint was used to mimic leather.
This journal was intended to have a more masculine look to it. 

The pages are sewn in with cord as evidenced on the outside spine, and a brass button was used to anchor a v-cut fringe in natural colors which hangs halfway down the spine.

The inside covers are lined with feather designed paper, and the built in beaded bookmark continues a Native American theme. 
Along with recycled and up-cycled journal pages there are decorative papers reminiscent of the masculine/Native American theme.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Great upcycled Eggshell Mosaic Tiles!

These simple tiles can be used to make bracelets, necklaces or brooches. But I am making a batch today to be used as tags or insets for my art journals.

I am using the stiff cardboard "credit cards" that come so often in junk mail for this project. But you can use thin wood rectangles or whatever other surface you can think up!
1. Begin by cutting a card into eight equal rectangles.
2. Round each rectangle's corners with scissors.
3. Use a leather punch to poke any holes for hanging as tags or fastening together for jewelry.
4. Trim the cardboard that extends out the back of the hole with nail clippers, so that it is flat on the back side.
5. Give each side a light coat of Gesso and let dry.
6. Paint both sides and edges of each rectangle with a light coat of the color of your choice. I usually just use my finger to apply the paint and like to have a little writing or design of the original card showing through on back side to give it a little more character.
7. After the paint has dried completely apply a coat of TackyGlue to whichever side you want to be the front and begin placing broken eggshells in a mosaic pattern covering most of the surface, but leaving small irregular areas between the eggshell pieces.
(The eggshells I am using today have been dyed with onion skins. I sometimes use tea, coffee, black walnut shells, beet juice, dandelion flowers or food coloring to stain them. Or you can place white eggshells on the unpainted surface and stain the whole thing with ink. Even just using natural brown eggshells or plain white eggshells is fine, depending on what look you desire for the finished product. If you haven't boiled the eggshells during the staining process, you will need to boil them and then remove the membrane that lines the inside of the shell so that the glue can adhere to the egg shell itself, so that it stays intact over time.)
8. Once the glue has dried clear, carefully break off any eggshell bits that may be extending past the edge of the cardboard rectangle to make an neat circumference.
9. If you want you can coat the outer edge the rectangle with a metallic paint which gives it a little neater and more refined look. Or leave as is for a slightly more rustic appearance.
10. Finally once the glue has dried to a clear finish, apply a thick coat of Gel Medium to the entire surface and when dry push your leather punch back through any holes to be sure they are not clogged.
Now think of all the creative uses you can find for them! 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Aloramyst’s Artist Interview with RLHall

I came across some old posts featuring my work online and thought I'd re-share. This first piece was a part of a very successful artist's interview series by artist blogger Aloramyst Soul Expressions and Designs  She was primarily interested in my digital creations and I greatly enjoyed working with her on this project and collaborating with her in other areas as well. This interview was also included in the online artist's publication D.A.P. Magazine.

Artist Interview

Aloramyst’s Interview with RLHall

In your opinion what is art?

To me, art is the creative expression of your soul.

Who or what first introduced you to creating Digital Abstracts and Patterns?

When I first acquired software for editing photos, I was drawn to experimentation with it, having already been artistic in many other mediums.

Why did you choose to create in this choice of medium?

I find it very creative and fun, though it can be tedious at times it is also a very meditative and at the same time stimulating.

What software programs have you experimented with? And which is your favourite?

I recently purchased PhotoShop Elements 6, which is great. But most of my work so far has been done with the use of GMP 2 or Paint.net

What inspires and motivates you to create?

I have always been inspired by nature, but of course our feelings, beliefs and instincts are so in communion with our spirits and mind knowledge that they are always an influence as well, I find that having contact with other artists is always motivating and inspiring, and helps me to grow as an artist and a person.

Who is your favourite artist? What is it about their work that you love?

I don’t really think I have one favorite artist, though I have always liked the work of Georgia O’Keeffe, for the way she sees nature and renders it in her own unique style. Just lately I have been reading alot about Pablo Picasso, I find that I enjoy his spirit of adventure in using different mediums and his always changing expression. A friend has just introduced me to the work of Savlador Dali whom I find interesting in his surrealism and and beautifully wild compositions…

Have you set any goals for yourself as an artist? If so, what are you working towards achieving?

I have always been somewhat of a realist in my formal artwork, though I love to dabble in the surreal and abstract, the unknown fires my imagination…in the past few months I have been trying to develope more creative expression and letting it flow through my work. Of course I am working to better myself and my art, and striving for more exposure and sales.

Do you create art in other mediums?

Yes, I am creative in any way I can be. Drawing is one of my favorite mediums, pencil, colored pencil, graphite, charcoal, pastels and ink. I paint in the various mediums. Along with collage, mosaic, textiles, carving, sculpture, jewelry and bead making, as well as photography. I love experimenting and find that I tend to move from one area to another in my creative endeavors, always mixing them up seems to spur my creativity.

Is your artwork for sale? Where can people see or purchase your artwork?

RLHall: My artwork is available locally, and I have recently begun promoting my work in online portfolios, with my main galleries at RedBubble and “Imagekind”: and I have on online store Artful Express in which my art is available.

Aloramyst: What are your recommendations and/or advice to other artists?

I think the most important aspect of being an artist is to be true to yourself, use your own natural gifts and creativity in a way that lets your unique passion shine through. And use that creativity and passion to constantly promote yourself and your works.

Is there anything about being an artist that you would like to know more about?

I have just begun my online venture with my art, and there are many things I need to learn about the promotion of my work in this realm. I am striving to advertise, find exposure in many different areas and promote through meta-tags that will come up in Internet searches, but I have much to learn. I continually study various aspects of art and being a successful artist, there is always more to learn!

Which promotional tools have been the most effective for you?

Word of mouth promotion is always helpful, getting your work out there to be seen is imperative. I found that with my online business, having one web page linking all my sites and then connecting those sites together via banners or links has brought more hits and sales to my various galleries. The use of correct tagging has helped as well, though I am still struggling to perfect that aspect of self promotion.