Colleen Williams answers my questions about her life and writing and speaks about her books, My Adventures Series.
What would you like, first, to say to introduce yourself ?
I have an elementary education degree with an art minor from the University of Alaska at Anchorage. I graduated with a 3.89 GPA. I worked very hard to get this degree, then when I was ready to teach was diagnosed with breast cancer! I went through almost a year that was a combination of chemotherapy followed by radiation treatments for this. When I was done, I decided that before I tried teaching, I was going to give writing a shot. It had always been my first love. ( I have written since I was very young.) I started writing in 1999, and now have over a dozen books in print.
Your books (My Adventure Series) are very special, tell us more about them…
I love these books! They have blanks in the text so that the reader can add his/her own words to the story. This allows the child to add sensory details to the adventure, while going on a guided journey. There are blank pages where the illustrations should be, too. That way, the child gets to create the pictures that go along with the text. On the front of the book, there is a space for the child to put his/her name down as the author/illustrator of the adventure. I am listed as the “presenter.” I present the adventure, but the child completes it.
How did you publish your first book?
I answered an internet ad for what turned out to be a book deal with an editor working for Mason Crest Publishing. I sent in my resume with some published writing clips, writing samples, and a letter of interest.
Why did you choose to write for kids?
I wanted to use my education degree and teach, but through my writing. I loved writing lesson plans in college. I loved working on Language Arts and Art activities, but I didn’t like the idea of being tied down to a classroom job on a daily basis. I’m sort of a big kid myself in many ways and I love having time to play.
What was your favorite book as a child?
I loved The Velveteen Rabbit, The Little Prince, and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy ( and the Hobbit, of course!).
How do you work?
I sit down at my computer and brainstorm for a bit. Then, I write for a while. I stop when I run out of ideas, which can sometimes be in a few minutes, or other times be in 6-8 hours! Next, I look over what I have written and ask my son or husband to look at it for me, if they are available. Finally, I rewrite it. When the piece is done, I send it to my editors at Orchard Academy Press, a division of Windstormcreative.com.
Do you have other projects? Will you continue writing for kids?
I will continue to write for kids! I’m working on some Time Traveling Adventure Books and some advanced Regional Adventures for 9-12 year old readers. Also, I am under contract to do a series of Homeschool Lessons for use by parents and students.
Do you have any advice for young writers?
Follow your passion. Write. Submit your writing to places like Chicken Soup for the Soul and Stone Soup. See if your local newspaper will publish your poetry or short stories. Look for safe, educational websites that feature children’s writing and with your parents’ help check them out and then send in your writing to them!
And now (as usual) the nothing-to-do-with-books question : You’ve just found 100 $ in your pocket, how will you use that money? Without thinking too much 🙂
Put some gas in my tank and drive to Anchorage, Alaska. I love going to the big city now and then!
Would you like to say something special to our readers?
I have had many set backs in my life and overcome them by learning to be mentally strong. Never underestimate the power of your own mind. If you think you can do something, like get published, you will. Don’t give up! Rejections are just chances to review your work and make it better! You can achieve your goals, if you remain positive and keep trying!
“Tea or Coffee?”
Saturday evening. Going out or reading a book ? Go out, come home, curl up in bed with a book….:)
Holidays. Beach or Mountains ? Beach. I live in Alaska and am surrounded by mountains all the time. It’s beautiful, but the beach does call to me.
Watching a movie. Comedy or Drama (or something else ?) ? Comedy! I love to laugh.
The Leader in the group or not ? Leader or often loner. I do a lot of things on my own. I like to be independent.
Shy or Easy-going ? Easy-going, until I’m not….
Country or city ? Live in the country, visit the city. I love the hustle and bustle of the city, but also like the slow pace of the country. Both suit different sides of me.
Serious or Funny ? Funny…I once demonstrated how to “test drive” a new pillow to my best friend by stretching out on the floor of Walmart and having her hand me pillows, until I found the one I liked. The pillows were plastic wrapped, of course! People looked at me like I was crazy. My friend and I just laughed.
Traveler or not ? Traveler. I love going new places and learning new things.
Sporty or not ? I love to bike. I exercise a lot, too.
TV show: House…he’s grumpy, but I like him anyway because he is so smart!
Movie : 50 First Dates and anything Adam Sandler does, he cracks me up!
Book : probably The Little Prince
City : Buffalo, NY, because I was born there and when I was ill with cancer, people there treated me with such love
Music : Anything from Aerosmith to Black Eyed Peas to Brahms to Cher to Kanye West to Pink or …HeavyMetal/ HipHop/Blues/Jazz, etc. I love all kinds of music!
Place to write: My office with its view of Kachemak Bay, mountains, glaciers, and wildlife like eagles flying by the window, or moose out on the lawn!
Quote or motto: Mental strength can help you overcome whatever obstacles you face. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. Believe in your own abilities to succeed and be the best that you can be! Your mind is your greatest gift. Use it!
Thank you, Colleen!
Visit Colleen’s website http://www.geocities.com/colleenmfwilliams/mybooks.html