Elementary Librarian, Kimberly Willis Holt, Middle School/High School Librarian (me)
Mrs. Holt went on to Wichita Falls to visit with schools after leaving us. She made the front of the Times Record News today (I have pasted the article below).
Ink and paper and lots of sweat
■ Woman describes how she makes stories come alive
Books can grow from tiny fragments of everyday life that strike you as fascinating, said visiting award winning author Kimberly Willis Holt.
The children’s book author visited Wichita Falls this week to talk to elementary and junior high-aged students about how she became a writer. During her presentation, she gave children ideas about how they, too, could launch a writing career.
Holt has published 11 books, including “ When Zachary Beaver Comes to Town” and “My Louisiana Sky,” and has won more than 100 awards for them from groups like the American Library Association, Booklist Editor’s Choice, and Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List.
Four new books by Holt are currently in the publishing pipeline, with three sets to be published next year.
For her, it’s often not the big ideas that inspire books but the little ones. Her much-heralded story about Zachary Beaver grew out of her fascination at visiting a sideshow exhibit at the Louisiana State Fair of the fattest teenage boy in the world. Another book, “My Louisiana Sky,” materialized from a childhood memory of her mother explaining that a certain neighborhood lady and her husband were both mentally retarded but had lots of children.
“What would it be like to be one of those children?” she wondered and eventually told the tale.
When she learned that an old friend — a cheerful, friendly girl —
Please see HOLT, 6A
TORIN HALSEY/TIMES RECORD NEWS
Kimberly Willis Holt told Barwise students Thursday that two junior high teachers praised her writing and gave her the confi dence to continue. But she wrote only poetry and journals for years before getting the courage to write a book.
HOLT from 1A
had committed suicide while praying on her knees, with rosary beads in her hand, Holt borrowed the chilling scene for the opening paragraphs of her story, “Keeper of the Night.”
But award-winning books require much writing and rewriting, she said. Even though several teach ers in junior high school encouraged her to write and praised her writing, she didn’t move beyond writing journals and poetry until she was 33.
“ I didn’t think I could be a writer. I was not a great student. I was a slow reader,” she said. She read so slowly that she often couldn’t finish tests on time. “I’m auditory. I hear what I read. I’m still a slow reader,” she confessed.
She writes from home in a favorite chair, in a coffee shop, or out on the porch when the weather is nice.
Her first draft of a story is always done in pen on paper, but the story eventually finds its way onto computer, where it may be edited from 12 to 100 times.
Holt described the odd talent common to fiction writers of having a character “speak” to her, which often spurs a new book. Usually the character is a compilation of people or experiences that Holt had as a child, and his or her words seem to billow up from within about a topic that is dear to her heart. She tries never to pounce on just any idea, but only to pursue those that are most meaningful to her.
Writing books also requires creating plot lines and keeping calendars of all the events in a book, just to keep everything straight, she said. When a book is finished, it often must be sent to many publishers before it sells. One of her most popular and praised books, “My Louisiana Sky,” was offered to 20 publishers before it sold.
Holt has also written some picture books, which can take even longer to bring to life. She sold one picture book when her daughter was in middle school and it will be published soon — now that her daughter is 23!
Holt told a packed auditorium at Barwise Junior High School to remember one thing above all: “Your dreams can come true. Believe in yourself, and work really hard.”
For those who want a writing career, start today, she said. “Pick up a pen and begin.”
Holt spoke Wednesday at Southern Hills and West, Thursday at Barwise and Fain, and speaks today at Crockett and Ben Milam.
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Copyright © 2009 The E.W. Scripps Co. 10/30/2009