BOOK NOTES - Walla Walla authors pen plenty of children's stories, perfect for holidays

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'Tis the season for Christmas shopping. Consider gifting your grandchildren with a special book written by a local author who may even be available to sign the book.

There are several children's books by local authors that appeal to a wide range of ages. Walla Walla High School alumna Carol Morin Muzik's book "Raising Lucy, the True Story of Raising an Orphaned Wild Goose" (2009), won a Mom's Choice award for children's picture books.

Local author Patrick Carman has written several books for both pre-teens and young adults beginning with the "Land of Elyon" series which were based on bedtime stories he told his daughters. Carman's latest work, "Dark Eden," was just released in November for ages 13-plus.

Elementary teacher Joe Gribnau is the author of "Rocky Mountain Night Before Christmas" (2007) and "Kick the Cowboy" (2009) which was selected as a finalist for a 2010 Spur Award by the Western Writers of America in the storytelling category.

Mike Wenberg, former Walla Walla Symphony director, has written three books: "Seattle Blues" (2009) and "StringZ" (2009) targeted for teenagers and "Elizabeth's Song," (2003) a children's picture book .

Debra R. Williams joined the ranks of our local authors with the publication of her first children's book, "Meet the Clock Family" in September. Geared for beginning readers in grades K-3, the Clock family includes three daughters, 6-year-old Tick, 4-year-old Tack, and 2-year-old Tock. The Clock daughters want to give their Mom a special birthday present, so with the help of three magical stuffed dragons and a genie, the girls figure out a way to get a unique gift for their mother.

The characters are based on Debra's three daughters Sarah, Kelly and Bonnie.

The ideas for her stories are often inspired by things that have happened in the family, things that Debra or her children have wondered about, or by questions that her children or grandchildren have asked.

For the last 25 years, Debra had wanted to write down the stories that she had told her daughters at bedtime and on car trips to keep them entertained.

Her goal was to leave the legacy of the Clock Family stories for her children and grandchildren. Debra finally began writing in April 2010 and noted that it took three to four days to organize and write the first story. She writes during her "wind-down time" in the evening for about one to three hours, depending on her mood and schedule. So far she has written 15 books in the Clock Family series.

After finishing the first one, Debra sent the manuscript off to 16 publishers that she chose from "Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents 2010." She received eight rejections and eight publishers didn't even answer. One day while searching the Internet for publishing companies that might be interested in children's books, she found Tate Publishing (www.tatepublishing.com) in Mustang, Okla.

She emailed them a copy of her manuscript and they accepted it for publication six weeks later.

Justin Stier who works for Tate Publishing did the illustrations for the book. The entire process, from acceptance of her manuscript to publication, took eight months.

When asked to give advice to aspiring authors, Debra suggested that whenever they get an idea, they should write it down. The next step is to organize the various ideas and sometimes during this process things just click into place and you have a story. Debra's other piece of valuable advice is to believe in yourself and don't let rejections get you down.

Debra and her family moved to Walla Walla from Pullman in 1983 when her husband, Bob, took a job with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Walla Walla District. Debra was a stay-at-home Mom raising her daughters and is now the proud grandmother of five (soon to be six) grandchildren.

All told, 5,000 copies of her book have been printed. The books are for sale at Earthlight Books, Book & Game Co., amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and Tate Publishing or by contacting Debra at walla2deb@live.com. Debra also recorded a downloadable audio version of the book which you receive free with the purchase of the book. You can also buy just the audio version on CD. Her goal is to sell 4,000 books before submitting her second book for publication.

Debra will have a book signing at 4 p.m. Nov. 30 at Book and Game, 38 E. Main St., and from 1-3 p.m. Dec. 10 at Hastings Books, Music and Video, 617 S. Ninth Ave. Online, see debrawilliams.tateauthor.com/ for other book signing events.

Do you have a favorite book? Send your recommendations to bmoats@q.com.

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