Tell us about your writing process. Where do you write, and how often?
I spend time on my writer’s journey every day, but it may not be actually writing. It may be jotting down ideas when I shelve picture books at the library on Friday mornings, or when I sub at my daughter’s preschool and chat with the children. Some days, it may be connecting with other writers on Facebook, or working on my blog, or revising an older story. Sometimes, though, inspiration strikes and a story almost writes itself! Then I put butt in chair and get it down on paper, often at a coffee shop.
What do you love about writing PBs?
I love the challenge of telling a complete, circular story in so few words. I admire the simplicity in books like Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel and Little Bear by Else Homelund Minarik (the first book I learned to read), conveying such warmth and feeling with such a small wordcount. I love how picture books show rather than tell, and how they convey a message and a feeling so gently.
Why did you choose this genre?
Books were my treasures as a shy child. Later, as I worked in libraries, book stores and preschools, and as I read to my children, I came to appreciate how skillfully picture books are created. I try to add what I call “read-aloud-ability” when I write, keeping in mind how the book would involve a group of kids in circle or at Storytime.
What is the hardest part about writing picture books?
With rhyming texts, it’s a challenge (but really fun for a word nerd like myself!) to keep the meter and rhyme perfect and still have a story that makes sense. When I was little, I read “A Child’s Garden of Verses” over and over, and I credit Robert Louis Stevenson with the fact that I have a good ear for meter. Another challenge is letting go and realizing that the illustrations are just as important as my words, and that I must give the artist the freedom to tell the story his or her way.
What book do you wish you had written, and why?
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, which has such warmth and wisdom on different levels. As a young reader, I loved the animals and the family, and later, I loved Fern as she grew up, too. I got teary last fall when I went to an art exhibit called 100 Years of Children’s Picture Book Art, and there was the original watercolor painting that became the cover of Charlotte’s Web.
If you’re not reading or writing, what could we catch you doing?
I use homemade wands and a soapy brew to make enormous bubbles! I made them on the beach last month on vacation, and I’ll be making them for my library’s summer reading program in July.
Do you belong to any writing organizations?
I belong to the national and regional SCBWI, and to a local group with my friend Nancy Bo Flood. I’m part of several facebook groups, including Angie Karcher’s Rhyme Revolution, and Tara Lazar’s Storystorm, and an on-line support group for older writers, called the Caldecoots.
Where can readers find you on the web and social media?
I have an author Facebook page, Deborah Holt Williams, writer for children, and I have a blog which I keep like a journal of my journey as a writer, at deborahholtwilliams.blogspot.com. I’m on Twitter at @Chamamama2000. (I used to live in Chama, NM and had a little bookstore there, and I have five kids!)
If money were no object, what would be your dream writing location?
In a castle in Ireland, overlooking the sea. With a roaring fireplace and a coffee pot. And good internet service. Oh, and with my sweetheart to help me with my computer issues!
What excites you most about joining the BookEnds family?
I love the fact that it truly feels like joining a family. I’m grateful for the feeling of respect for writers, and the general positivity and enthusiasm. Having an agent like Naomi Davis who shares my passion for my stories is beyond exciting!