Monday, December 17, 2012

Thanks for your kind comments!

It's been such a treat to read your supportive comments on my entry!  Like little Christmas presents--with no plastic packaging or styro peanuts. ;-)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Trashing Through the Snow--Submission for contest

Heartbreaking news in Connecticut.  It's such a helpless feeling, and sometimes all we can do as storytellers and writers is to create something for children everywhere.  This is my offering:


 Garbage Truck, Garbage Truck

By Deborah Holt Williams

Trashing through the snow, in a noisy garbage truck,

The bins are hard to empty, with boxes getting stuck.

Crumpled wrapping paper, chunks of Styrofoam,

Packing peanuts everywhere are blown from home to home.

    Oh, garbage truck!  Garbage truck! After Christmas trash.

     Load it in the garbage truck and watch it mash and smash.

    Garbage truck!  Garbage truck! Haul it all away.

    What looked so festive yesterday is now J-U-N-K.

Dried-up wreaths with bows, Lights that didn’t light,

Toys already broken, clothes that got too tight.

The garbage man is tired.  He’s handled lots of stuff.

He wishes folks could see that they already have enough.

          Oh, garbage truck!  Garbage truck! After Christmas trash.

          Load it in the garbage truck and watch it mash and smash.

          Garbage truck!  Garbage truck! Haul it all away.

          What looked so festive yesterday is now J-U-N-K.

The garbage man goes home, and hugs his kids and wife.

They eat and read together, a calm, uncluttered life.

He’s happy with his job, but wishes people knew

That things don’t bring you happiness, but times together do.

        Oh, garbage truck!  Garbage truck! After Christmas trash.

          Load it in the garbage truck and watch it mash and smash.

          Garbage truck!  Garbage truck! Watch it blend and mix.

          So much turns to garbage on December 26.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Completed the PIBOIDMO Challenge!

I finsihed the challenge and came up with 30 picture book ideas in the 30 days of November.  Tara Lazar organized the challenge and it was great to read all her guest bloggers and hear from inpiring writers.  Now, to write the stories!  I love the cartoon she posted today:
   It won't be easy!  Paring writing down and down some more is actually pretty tough. But I'll be joining another challenge--12x12--to come up with 12 finished picture book manuscripts in 2013.

Monday, October 29, 2012

My books

 Welcome to my blog!  I'm at the time in my life where I have time to write, and I'd love to hear from others in the same place on the journey.  I've had luck this year with magazines (Highlights, High Five, Hello, Jack and Jill, Turtle and AppleSeeds) and on-line (Young Bucks Outdoors and Knowonder) but the very first things I had published were these little easy readers.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


  I'm going to give this a try, coming up with a new picture book idea every day in November, as explaied at

Fall Good News

  September--Baseball Buns (rejected by Highlights and  HumptyDumpty magazines) was the story of the day on the Knowonder site for September 27th.  My "How to Build a Deer Blind" story is up on the Young Bucks Outdoors website.

 October--Got an e-mail from the editor at Turtle magazine, and she wants to purchase my craft project, printing with lilacs!  It was rejected by Highlights, but will appear in the Mar/Apr. edition of Turtle.
   Also in October, I sent a query to Storypie Press regarding my Bottled Anger story, and they responded the next day that they wanted to see it.  So I submitted it right away and am waiting to hear.

   I've sent in 45 submissions so far this year, and my goal is 50, so I think I'll make it.  I talked with Colorado Mountain College, and I'm going to offer a one-day workshop on marketing writing for children on February 9, 2013.  The writing has gone well this year!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Another Bear Card!

   After getting word the other day that four of my six poems for Hello were rejected, I wondered if I should have sent in any more.  But I already had, and today I got a bear card for both of them!  I'm so excited to see Hello when it comes out.  Exciting to be part of a brand new magazine!

Sunday Surprise!

   I had sent a proposal five months ago to Appleseeds magazine to do an article on animal legends for their Cleopatra issue.  But, I never heard back and I figured they weren't interested.  Then on Sunday morning (!) September 9th, I get an e-mail from the editor, Susan Buckley, with my assignment!  Do a 150 word piece on the animals that represented the gods and goddesses, and have it in by October 8th!  It would pay $75 and will appear on the back cover of the March 2013 issue.
   I spent hours and hours on it, writing, cutting, rewriting, cutting, but finally got a rough draft that was the right word count.  I sent it to Susan and she liked it!  So I added one more animal and did some more cutting, polished up my reference list and sent it out.  Today I noticed I'm supposed to make copies of any pages from books that I used, so I'll have to go check them all out again and do that, but anyway I'm tickled to add another magazine to my list.  All this happened because I met the head of all the Cobblestone magazines, Lou Waryncia, at the Highlights workshop on magazines at the Barn, so I am more grateful than ever to Christine for the scholarship!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Contracts in the Mail!

   Not one but two contracts in the mail today!  From Highlights, for the rhymes I submitted for Hello magazine for babies.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that they paid almost twice what I've been paid for my rhymes for High Five!  A very nice birthday surprise.
   Still no word on jobs, but a visitor from Jemez Springs made me glad I was free to go have lunch.  Amy from the Village Office is treating herself to a road trip and planning to leave her unhappy situation, and it was great to visit with her.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

    I'm turning 61 Saturday, and although I'm unemployed (except for home care a few hours a week)and sharing a bedroom with a load of Jeremy's stuff, I have a lot to be grateful for.  I'm in my own home, which is worth more than I owe on it.  I have my family, my health, my beloved old dog, and I have had more success with my writing this past year than ever before.  I'm living on credit cards, but hopefully I'll be working soon. Like lots of families in this poor economy, we have three generations under one roof, and we are working it out.  We are all healthy, and we are far more fortunate than many struggling families.  My writing will be on the back burner while I look for work, but I will return to it soon.  And on my next birthday, I can claim Social Security!

Monday, August 27, 2012

On to the Next Chapter

  Well, I was visiting family in Colorado when I got the word that I did not get the reading coach job, after taking out a big fat loan to get my reading masters and volunteering for two years.  It absolutely broke my heart, and things weren't going well at home, and my kids seemed like they could use my help, so I decided to quit my beloved library job (17 hrs. a week just wasn't enough) and move home.  My old cowboy was very hurt and angry, and he gave me one night to get everything out of his house. My friend Kathy came over and we dumped drawers into trash bags and stuffed things in boxes and suitcases, all to be sorted later.  Kathy took me home and fed me and let me stay in her beautiful guest room, and stored whatever I couldn't fit in my Meg's SUV.
   I went back to Colorado and returned Megan's Denali, and came back to Jemez Springs to finish my last two shifts at the library.  On Friday night the Animal Amigos held a party for me, and on Saturday night, Eva brought me to Los Ojos and a party with the Friends of the Library.  The outpouring of love was amazing!  I took all that I could pack in my car and came back to Glenwood.  Bit by bit I'm unpacking and getting settled, and looking for work.
  Writing has gone to the back burner.  One of my first pieces of forwarded mail was a rejection letter for a story I really love, "My Two Grandmas," rejected by Boyds Mills.  But, my story Baseball Buns, which had been rejected by Highlights ages ago, was accepted by the site Knowonder, which is an app for parents to download a new story every day.  My first app story--what a great new market!  And although the app is free to parents, they do pay their authors.
   I still have several submitted pieces out there, and I may just wait to hear on them before I start writing and submitting again.  My first priority is finding a job.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


  Got an e-mail at 9:30 p.m. from the Superintendent--surely this was a yes or no on my job!  But no--he was letting me know he was just named Superintent of the Year! 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

After a stressful day...Joy

   Tuesday, July 17th should go down as one of my most stressful days.  (And a year ago this week, I was at Chautauqua, meeting Joy Cowley and a wonderful group of new friends.)  Besides being my first day on my own with library's new computerized checkout system, I had a job interview at 2 p.m. for the reading coach job at the school.  The interview went well, but now comes the stressful part--waiting!  You'd think that being a writer would make me used to painfully long waits, but it's still hard to wait for a decision that could change my daily life for the next few years.
    My writer friend from Chatauqua, Kathy, who recently retired from a similar position, has been my cheerleader and sent me encouraging notes all day.  Then, that night, just before I turned into bed early, there was an e-mail from Joy Cowley!  I could just hear her saying these words in her New Zealand speaking voice.

Hi Deborah, lovely to hear from you. The new magazine Hello looks great. It is even waterproof! I'm sure your rhymes will find a home in it.
Keep writing!
Warm regards,
     It couldn't have come at a better time!  Now, back to waiting.  The decision is up to the Superintendent, and he's out of town....

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Note That Made My Heart Smile

   Got this from my dear friend Carol's youngest daughter, about her youngest daughter:

Ellie is now able to read your books. She loves them! Awful Waffle makes her laugh and laugh! She was especially thrilled to discover the author had signed the book for her, and the author was a special friend of grandma Carol. (She was only 3 when you sent them so she had completely forgotten.) Just wanted to thank you for your beautiful stories, they are loved and appreciated!

   We writers endure a lot of rejections and hurt feelings, but notes like this make being a writer the best job on Earth!


Monday, July 9, 2012

    My friend Barbara recently returned from a week-long Highlights workshop at the Barn, and editor Kathleen Hayes showed her group a prototype of Hello.  It's about the size of a board book, she said, made of a sort of plastic-y paper that can be wiped off with a wet cloth.  The prototype issue contained a piece by my hero in writing for young children, Joy Cowley of New Zealand.  Being her "bus buddy" and chatting with her at last summer's Chautauqua was a high point in my life!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

More hopeful news--a "bear card" from the editor of the new Highlights baby magazine, Hello, for four more poems!  That makes six that they are considering purchasing!  It feels really exciting to be contributing to a brand new magazine.  I think this is the magazine that will have my dear friend Carol Van Why's quotation, "Will they remember the unmade bed, or the talk we had instead?"  I believe it comes out in January.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

   May and June were full of rejections, although my action rhyme "Garden Stretch" appeared in High Five. 
It was fun to share it with my "Colorado Mom," Gen Doak.

 There is hopeful news, however!  Highlights is adding a new magazine next year, for babies, called "Hello."  It will be edited by Kathleen Hayes, who also edits High Five.  I wrote and asked her if I could submit some poems, and here's what she wrote back:

Hi Deborah,

Yes, I'd be happy to see submissions from you for Hello.

Just be sure to make them very simple :)

Kathleen Hayes
Highlights High Five
807 Church Street
Honesdale, PA 18431
570-251-7847 fax

So I sent in two, and got back a bear card for both of them!  Bear cards aren't an automatic in, but they are definitely good news.  The two poems are "Babies Can, Too" and one that I wrote with my graddaughter Olivia Rose in mind, "Knock Knock, It's Nana."
     The Verla Kay blue boards are a great resource, and have given me some places to submit, such as Knowonder, Spellbound and Holiday House.  I'm working on my writing more than ever, which helps me feel succesful amid all the rejections.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

When I went to the magazine writing workshop in March, I hiked into the woods a little and took a picture of a deer blind, because I thought it looked like a "time out" room for naughty authors. Thanks to the markets book from Paula Morrow, I found the Young Bucks Outdoors e-zine and I've sold them two nature articles. I was going through my Boyds Mills photos again the other night, and came across the deer blind picture. I queried YBO--would they like an article on how building a deer blind would be a good family project? They said yes, and so then I had to go on line and learn how in the heck to build a deer blind! Today I heard that the article was perfect, that they planned to pay me more for it than they had for the other two, they would also buy the photo, and to please send them more queries!
So I guess you just never know how you're going to benefit from a workshop!

Friday, April 27, 2012

bad news, good news, hopeful news

  Yesterday I got a very nice handwritten rejection note from Boyds Mills Press.  Darn, I really thought my story was a good fit for them.  But then today, I got a royalty check from Continental for my little leveled readers, and a bear card from Highlights High Five for an action rhyme I submitted.  Bear cards don't always mean a sale, but about 70% of the time, they do.  I should be getting a check soon for the second story I sold to Young Bucks.  These little checks add up!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Having a Senior Moment?

    I have a yellow sheet of legal pad paper, where I keep track of all my submissions.  I check the sheet every night to remind myself of what I've sent, when I sent it and where I sent it, and the result.  But after mailing my Mom Dot Com story to Lee and Low publishers, the sheet has vanished.  I think I may have stuck it in the envelope!  Hopefully they'll use the SASE to send it back.
    There are some disadvantages to having a day job and writing into the late night hours!  And to being old, I guess, although in so many ways this is a terrific time of life.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Couple of Firsts

     Last month, using the Magazine Markets for Children book we all got at the Highlights conference, I found an online magazine for kids that looked like a good fit for nature-type stories. I reworked my Thunder article about partially burned pine trees so that it was more for kids.  I sent a query, got a yes the next day, e-mailed the article & photo and got an acceptance the next day, had my contract in a week and my check in two weeks!  My first sale of a photo, and my first e-zine credit.
     This month, I sold them another reworked Thunder article and photo on how forest fires affect fish.  These sales are only $25, but they're pretty easy money!  One thing I've learned from Christine at Highlights is that when you sell a story, you only sell that particular arrangement of words, and that its perfectly acceptable to rework a story and send it somewhere else.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sharing a Memory at High Five

     High Five's facebook page asked for parenting advice we'd received through the years, and I submitted a line from my dear friend, Carol Van Why: "Will they remember the unmade bed, or the talk we had instead?"  This week I got an e-mail from Hilary who runs the facebook page that this quote has been chosen to appear in High Five!  The next day I heard from Kathleen Hayes, editor at High Five:  "I just got an e-mail from Hilary telling me that you are our premier parenting advice columnist!  We will use a photo of a Dad talking to a avery young boy, and your lovely quote.  So, thanks!  It will be great to have you on our cover wrap!"  I wrote back to make sure they use Carol's name.  Carol passed in 1992, twenty years ago, and it will be so nice for her kids and grandkids to see her words and her name on a wonderful magazine for kids.  Her middle daughter Sabrina, who is expecting her first child next month, thanked me for keeping her mom's memory alive.  It feels really good that I can honor Carol this way.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I want patience and I want it NOW!

  Hopeful news on my picture book Biscochito Man, and an invitation from Kathleen Hayes of High Five to join her on Linkedin. (I hit the I accept button--now what??  Not sure, but I'm honored to be invited!)  I had given up hope of ever hearing from Julie Ham at Charlesbridge, so at midnight I sent it by e-mail to Theresa Howell at Rio Nuevo books, for their new Rio Chico  line of kids' books.  Seven hours later, I heard from Julie Ham!  She apologized for taking so long but said she had a couple more co-workers she wanted to show it to, and that I was welcome to submit it elsewhere.  (Which works out well, since I just did!)  Then I heard back from Theresa that she got my story and I would hear from them in three months.  Patience is so hard for us older writers, do you agree!  Time's a wastin'!  Shit or get off the pot!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sharing Articles and Adventures

  It got down to 20 degrees overnight, and my cabin's pipes froze!  I had no running water in the morning, but it was fixed by the afternoon.  The good news, however, was that I heard back from the editor at Cobblestones, saying she wanted to see my roadrunner article!  I polished it up and sent it on tonight.  Absolutely no guarantees, of course, but she will look at it.
   The classes were so worthwhile, with actual copies of real submitted articles before and after editing, and real query letters and the articles they led to.  National Geographic photographer and author Darlyne Murowski told of her experiences in getting her amazing pictures.  That night at dinner, Cristina Kessler and Darlyne shared their adventures in Africa, India, the Galapagos, Madagascar and other exotic locations, and told of thier encounters with a lion, a jaguar, a charging rhino, a poisonous snake,  wild pigs, alligators, an angry elephant, fighting giraffes, fire was a thrill just listening to them!  And hearing phrases like "kayaking down the Zambizi," and "driving across the Kalahari..."What incredible women.
    It will be hard to leave my homey little cabin and go back to the daily routine.  I've learned so much, and I'm aware of so many more possible markets, and I'm excited about magazines!  But I do miss my dear old cowboy and my dogs.

Friday, March 9, 2012

"One Tough Bird" may be on her way

  A cold and snowy but encouraging day!  Lou Waryncia liked my roadrunner piece "One Tough Bird"  and gave me the e-mail of one of his editors at Cobblestone, and told me to mention his name.  He was excited when I told him I had access to photos of Zia pueblo dances, taken by a photographer who got permission from the pueblo governor.  He said they've been covering regions of the US and saved the southwest for last because it was so hard to get photos of Native Americans!  He said to e-mail the editor of Faces magazine right away and show her what I have.
   Rachel Bucholz from Nat Geo Kids handed out a collection of actual query letters, and had us figure out why they wouldn't work for her.  Rich Wallace had us think about something I never had--about the amount of time the story would cover, whether a day, a week, a month, as a way to help plot our story.  He read aloud one of his favorite books (and mine, too)--Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel.  Paula Morrow had a slide show and gave us each a copy of Magazine Markets for Children's Writers 2012!
   Michelle Budzilowitz and Christine Cully from Highlights came to dinner and gave me hugs and were so kind.  Michelle and I laughed about how hot and miserable we were at Chautauqua. Christine said she looks forward to signing more contracts for me.  Me, too!  The clouds cleared, the full moon rose orange, and my favorite constellation Orion was high in the sky.  What a great day!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Highlights Offices

  Our driver into Honesdale, Heather, left us off a little early so we toured some of the cool little shops in Maud's Alley (got my 11 yr. old grandson a kit to make a clock that runs on two potatoes for batteries!) and then walked to the beautiful old Victorian house on Church Street and had our tour, given by an intern, Lisa.  We met with Joelle Dujardin,who handles fiction; Annie Beer, who showed us samples of some of the craft ideas she gets; and Debra Hess, who handles non-fiction and world culture articles. On our way to sit down in the conference room with Andy Boyles the science editor, Kathleen Hayes from High Five came down stairs and gave me a hug!  She was surprised to see me, and told me she had just been looking at the art that will go with my action rhyme, Garden Stretch.  So good to see her!  And Christine Cully, editor in chief, will be a dinner guest tomorrow or Saturday.  It's so nice seeing familiar faces from Chautauqua!
    Tonight we had a wondrful dinner and then met as a group (12 conferees, 4 instructors) and chatted about tomorrow's schedule.  My mentor will be Lou Warnycia, editor at Cobblestone, Odysey, Caliope and that whole group of mags.  I submitted my roadrunner piece--hopefully he can help me make it take off and fly!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Here I am in Boyds Mills, Pennsylvania in my cozy little cabin!  The driver Bob stood at the bottom of the Newark airport escalator with a Highlights magazine in his hand, and he drove Liz from Toronto and me here with one stop--at Frank's Pizza in New Jersey. Fabulous pizza!  We stopped at the Barn, where the chefs Marcia and Heather gave us warm blueberry muffins, the best macarroons I've ever tasted, and deli containers of wine to take back to our rooms!  Liz came over to visit--she's a grandma, too, and so well-travelled and interesting.  Tomorrow, we take the tour of the Highlights offices.  So, with a full moon, mild weather, a new friend, a full tummy and wifi, I'm signing off for tonight.  Bueno, --Deb

Sunday, March 4, 2012

My Writing Buddy

 My friend who lives near Rochester, NY has 85 people in her writers' group. Here in the Jemez Mountains, it's my buddy Shirley Duke and me. Shirley lives here part-time and in the Dallas area part-time, and we hadn't we hadn't seen each other in a while. We had breakfast recently, and caught up with our writing successes and failures (we've both had articles rejected by Andy Boyles of Highlights as "too encyclopedic").  She has a science blog and when she's done reviewing the books, she donates them to our library where I work.  She's a talented writer, a generous friend, and a lot of fun, and I'm lucky to have her in my life.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Headed for The Barn

  I feel like Snoopy doing his Happy Dance--I'm going to a Highlights workshop at their new Barn facility!  Speedy decision, but it will be terrific.  I'll also get to tour the Highlights editorial offices in Honesdale!  I'm going to the workshop on writing for children's magazines, March 8-11.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

   On NPR today I heard an author say that "In thirty years, houses will no longer have bookshelves."  She feels that some families will have a collection of books, like families have collections of art or stamps today, but that they'll have just a few.  It's hard to imagine houses without bookshelves!  One of the reason I love this picture of my son reading to his daughter is the bookshelf in the background!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How sensitive

Just wanted to share the most tenderhearted almost-rejection notice that I've ever receved, from StoryCub, a company in Minnesota that makes a video of a child reading your book:  "Your books have not been accepted or rejected at this time. They read too quickly for what we are currently producing. I guess you could say they have been rejected, but that seems too harsh. We will be discussing your books further and get back to you if we can get one or more into production. Kind regards.."   Sure beats all the checkmark-in-a-box rejections I've received over the years!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Hello, and welcome to my blog!  I've written easy readers, I write for my local paper, the Jemez Thunder, and I've recently had some luck selling rhymes and stories to children's magazines. My dream, though, is to have a picture book published, one that my grandkids can find in their library or book store.  If you like writing for children, too, please share your thoughts.  And, pictures of your grandchildren!

Here are my easy readers:

My easy reader books are published by Continental Press.

Here's where you can buy my easy reader books, under Seedling: