Author and Illustrator, JD Holiday's Blog:
~ BOOKS for Kids: Janoose The Goose, its sequel- Janoose And The Fall Feather Fair, The Spy Game & The Great Snowball Escapade, a chapter book for 6 to 9 years old; SIMPLE THINGS, a Christian Christmas middle-grade novel, and for Adult; Stories And Imaginings For The Reading Spot.
Deb Hockenberry entertaining Children one word at a time. Where Can We Have The Party? is Deb Hockenberry’s debut children’s book. She has always wanted to write stories for children, and has taken
multiple courses from The Institute of Children’s Literature and is a member of The CBI Workshop to keep with the ever-changing world of children’s writing. She has also been published in several online magazines. Deb is a Pittsburgh transplant now residing in Altoona.
Hi Deb, Thank you so much for doing this interview with me. You and I have been in many groups together over the years and I'm so happy we have this opportunity to talk.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?My background is, what I think, very ordinary. I come from a large family and have always had pets. You name the type of animal and I think we’ve had it whether it barked, meowed squeaked, squawked, or swam!
I’ve always loved to read. In fact, that was one of my summer activities: to go to the local branch of the Carnegie Library. I think I read every book in the children’s section.
If you’re asking about my writing information, I’ve taken multiple courses from the Institute of Children’s Literature. In fact, I’d love
to take another course from them. Since the world of KidLit is always changing, I joined the CBI Clubhouse. They teach everything in this online course from writing magazine articles, picture books, middle grade and young
adult books, picture book apps, to marketing. These are just some of what you’ll find in there.
When did you realize you wanted to be a storyteller?I’ve wanted to write for kids since I was a kid myself. This is going to sound silly, but in the library I mentioned above, I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted to read. Oh
sure, there were many talking animal books and many birthday books, but none with the two combined.
Where do you get your stories ideas from?My ideas come from everywhere and anywhere. I often use my own childhood experiences.
Why did you want to write for children?I really don’t know how to answer this except I’ve always been drawn to children’s writing. I knew that I’d be a children’s writer at a young age.
When writing a children’s book or story, how much does your own childhood influence it?My own childhood experiences influence my fiction stories quite a bit. Even ‘Where Can We Have The Party?’ has a little bit of my own experience in it. I didn’t realize that until it was written.
What is your book about?‘Where Can We Have The Party?’ is a simple little story for children ages 3-8. It’s about a giraffe who wants to have a party for his friend but can’t think of a place where to have it. He asks
a few other friends for ideas and they do have some, but for one reason or another they won’t work. Will they find a place to have the party? I don’t want to give the whole story away, so you’ll have to read
it to find out!
Does the book convey a theme or message?I didn’t mean for it to, but after I wrote the story I found that there’s a subtle problem-solving problem running through the background. I hope it’s subtle enough that
‘Where Can We Have The Party?’ doesn’t lose it entertainment value!
What were some of the pitfalls of writing a book?Every writer knows that you should keep your words age appropriate, watch your grammar, punctuation, and flow. In ‘Where Can We Have The Party?’ there was a bit more to it. I got the idea for the story when I was a kid. The original story was quite different. It had evil monkeys and orangutans kidnapping King
Lion from his birthday party. They even had guns, knives, and ropes! I guess I watched too many cowboy and Indian shows back then. Well, society and the way we think has changed. So did books. I don’t think books are
so violent as they used to be. ‘Where Can We Have The Party?’ has morphed several times through the years until it got to be the happy little story it is today.
What is the hardest thing about writing?That’s easy … marketing. Writing the book is the easy part.
What advice would you give to your younger self?Don’t let anyone influence you in any way not to follow your dream. This happened to me once and it’s my biggest regret.
What will parents like most about your new book?I think parents will like the entertainment in the book. I think my book couldn’t have come at a better time. With everything that’s going on in schools and the world, kids
need some plain old entertainment.
What genres and authors do you read?I love to read so many genres. I love to read adult books as much as I love to read children’s books. I also love to read fiction as much as non-fiction. My absolute favorite to
read, though, is young adult fiction. My favorite books are the Harry Potter series and anybody who knows me well, knows that! Naturally, my favorite author is J.K. Rowling. I’ve learned so much from reading the first
two books of the HP series.
What is your next project?Since Christmas is my favorite holiday, my next project will be a Christmas themed story for ages 3-8. Will it be set in the jungle like “Where Can We Have The Party?” Stay tuned!
Where can people find your book and you on line?There are a few places where you can find me. Here’s a list:
K.C. Sprayberry has been Living a dream since she first discovered the magic of books. She traveled the U.S. and Europe before finally settling in the mountains
of Northwest Georgia. She’s married to her soul mate for nearly a quarter of a century and they enjoy spoiling their grandchildren along with many other activities. A multi-genre author and prolific writer, K.C. Sprayberry
is always on the hunt for new stories. Inspiration strikes at the weirdest times and drives her to grab notebook and pen to jot down her ideas. Those close to her swear nothing or no one is safe if she’s smiling gently
in a corner and watching those in the same room interact. Her observations have often given her ideas for her next story, set not only in the South but wherever the characters demand they settle.
Some of her short stories have appeared in anthologies, others in magazines. Her sense of adventure now takes it turn on the pages of her computer screen as her translate a lifetime
of discovery into stories for those who love her work.
Her books and stories include, Who Am I?, Darkness Within, Softly Say Goodbye, The Wrong One, Lost & Scared, Family Curse ... Times Two, Evil Eyes and Right Wrong
Nothing In Between just naming a few.
Hi K.C., So glad you could do this interview.
When did you decide to write your stories down?
I’ve always written down my stories, starting as a teen. There were so many in my head that I had to give them a voice. Fortunately, those early stories have vanished and the ones
I work on now are far better.
Did anyone in particular inspire you to go to the next step and publish your works?
Yes, one person set me on the path to become an author… Mr. Frank Jansson, my creative writing teacher at Monrovia High School. He took me aside one day and told me I had a fabulous
talent and that I should consider writing books. That encouragement stayed with me, until I finally decided it was time to go forward, after my husband said it was time to write all the stories I had percolating.
To my delight, I recently learned that my old high school is considering renaming their library after Mr. Jansson. Along with many others who are his former students, I’m pushing
hard for this honor to be given in this man’s memory!
Absolutely. Every book I’ve ever written has a bit of me in them.
Does your work usually convey a theme or message?
Most do as I write for middle school and teens. Some are for pure enjoyment and fun, though.
What was your ambitions for your writing career to start with and have you reached it?
In the beginning, I thought being part of the Big 5 was the only choice for my writing career. Over the years, I learned that there are many, many authors out there who have done well without
these publishers. I did know from the beginning I wanted the comfort of being associated with a publisher and found a wonderful indie company in 2011 in Solstice Publishing.
What genres have you written in?
Young Adult, Psychological Thriller, Paranormal, Historical, Western, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Military Romance, Romance, and Mystery.
What author or authors influenced you?
There are many authors that have influenced me. All of the fantastic authors who are part of the Star Wars universe, Robert Heinlein, Robert Jordan, and Steven King are just a few.
Can you share something about yourself you want your readers to know?
I love my puppy, Socks, cooking, discovering new places, and photography. Of course, reading and writing are at the top of my list!
Who do you read?
Robert Heinlein, Robert Jordan, Steven King, Lisa Gardner, and Tom Clancy are my current preferred authors. I’m always on the lookout for great indie authors to discover!
Blaze is a psychological thriller that introduces a new kind of Superhero, a group of Elementals. They all have “day” jobs but their primary mission is to keep humanity safe
through the use of certain elements. At this point, Blaze is in the early stages but I’m hoping the kick will happen soon and I can bring this story to the plotted conclusion. Anyone who knows me will tell you that my
plotted conclusions rarely happen. Once the characters take over, anything goes!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Never give up on your dreams. Keep fighting for them, no matter what anyone tells you.