Meet delightful children’s author, Kimberly Hoffman, as she shares her magical joy with the world!
I love the titles of your books, Emma’s Dancing Day and Sigmund Stanley Spider Squared. How did you come up with those titles?
Emma’s Dancing Day just came to me after I had finished writing the book. As I began to write Sigmund’s story those were the first four words that came to me. I wanted to emphasize that he was a square spider and the name came directly from my overactive imagination.
The book covers are beautiful. What can you tell us about that process?
Emma was illustrated by Em Vickers who was only 17 at the time. All of her drawings were done on the computer with a stylus. There was very little “tweaking” done to the cover as it was absolutely beautiful with the pink and purple watercolors. Sigmund was done by Megra Arterburn, who was a freshman in college when she illustrated the book. I simply asked for Sigmund to have a top hat and cane kind of like Young Frankenstein. I was envisioning him wearing the top hat. However, Megra designed the cover with Sigmund dancing on top of the hat, which I thought was fantastic. She included the swirls in the background, which complements the watercolor bubbles on Emma. Megra and I had a great deal of fun collaborating on the illustrations with many texts exchanged over the course of a few months. My phone is still filled with the various iterations Megra drew as we worked through concepts to finished product.
What inspired these two books?
Emma was inspired by a true story. I was stretching at the barre in ballet class in an inverted position. A spider dropped off the barre in front of my face. I was unable to move and was a bit put out with the spider. But as I drove home, I started thinking, what if the spider wanted to learn how to dance? And the story was born. Sigmund came from my doodles. To keep my mind on subject, I often will doodle as I listen. I drew a simple hashtag, colored it in, and then realized there were eight little legs protruding from the hashtag – a square spider! This did not help my attention that particular time as I began immediately to write the story.
What was the hardest thing about writing them?
Both books rhyme, which produces a wonderful rhythm as you read. However, when you are ready to edit your book and have to correct items, especially the meter, the rhymes can became quite difficult to edit. I remembered the headaches I had trying to fix lines in Emma and so with Sigmund, I endeavored to check meter on all lines before going to the next line. That little exercise helped tremendously. You live and learn.
You’ve done a lot of traveling to schools and libraries for book events. How has that been?
I absolutely love it. My passion is to take my programs out to schools, libraries and civic groups and teach the lessons behind the stories. The children often remember me. I’ve seen the students around town and they will come up and let me know they remember me coming and will tell me how much they enjoyed the program. Being able to share my passions with others and teach them the lessons in the books is truly a joy.
Do you have another book project in the works?
I have one story already finished, which I am sending to literary agents. My goal is to break into a bigger market. This story is also about bugs and the theme is self-sacrifice. As I am awaiting replies from literary agents, I am working on another story, which will be a series, set right in my hometown. No bugs in this one though.
What advice would you give to people who would like to write books for children?
My advice would be to read children’s literature, tap into your inner child, and, when you write, think about the books you remember reading as a child. How did the author pull you in? Why did you like those books?
Have you ever considered writing adult books? If so, what genre would you interest you?
Actually I am in the process of writing a novel for adults. It deals with verbal abuse, but is written more as a fairy tale.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I always loved to write in school, but never really thought about a career writing books. Then I married Paul Hoffman. Soon after we married, he began writing a book entitled, Murder in Wauwatosa, which was published by History Press in 2016. He began speaking at events and attending writers’ workshops. I would go along to support him and, as I did, I learned a great deal about writing. Soon after he started, I had the idea for Emma’s Dancing Day. After attending several more conferences, and finishing my story, I realized I could be a writer.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Emma took me a few years because I would lay it back on the shelf until I learned more or was ready to hone it again. But the next two children’s books took approximately six months each to write. The novel is taking a bit longer because my schedule of presentations and marketing the children’s books takes up a great deal of my time. So the novel may take a bit longer.
Which writers inspire you?
I have to say my husband first as he is an excellent writer, who introduced me to this world and helped me find my hidden talent. Other writers that inspire me would be C.S. Lewis, Johnny Gruelle who wrote the Raggedy Ann books, Robert Frost, E.E. Cummings, and Beverly Cleary. I love how all of them draw the reader in, but in very different styles. They create worlds that are either very real to the reader, very fantastical, or a bit of both. There are so many more I could name, mainly children’s authors, who have inspired me over the years.
What techniques and tools do you use to keep yourself organized?
I use a multi-pocket portable organizer. This allows me to keep my writing, receipts, and notes stored in one location. It also allows me to collate notes on a specific story, keeping them separate from others I might be working on. My current story has its own small, separate binder where I can store all related information. I also use the sticky notes app on my laptop to jot down notes and ideas and I find it handy to keep a notepad in my purse at all times as you never know when the muse might present itself.
If you had to choose one, would you consider yourself a big-picture person or a detail-oriented person?
I am more of a detail-oriented person. This helps me as I construct my programs, fine tuning them so that the include the right amount of pertinent as well as interesting information. I tend to like tedious work, which is obvious since I enjoy hand embroidery.
Was there a person in your career who made a difference?
There are so many people who have encouraged me along the way and helped me to view myself as an author. Three people in particular would be fellow author, Julie Woik, my sister, Sherry Howell, and my husband and fellow author, Paul Hoffman. When I finished Emma’s Dancing Day, but was unsure what direction to go, Julie and I talked on the phone for over an hour. She gave me advice, encouragement and helped me with my next steps. It was invaluable to my path.
I’ve always looked up to my sister, Sherry, and, as a child, she was my role model and I guess she still is. She has encouraged my journey as an author, letting me know how wonderful my books are and she even reads them at the school where she volunteers. Her encouragement lets me know that I am succeeding and making a difference.
Whenever a person asks about my books, I tend to forget to highlight my programs. Paul will immediately begin describing how wonderful my programs are, the work I put into them, and how the children are influenced by them. He won’t let a conversation about my writing go without bringing up the programs I give. He also edits my books, provides advice and encouragement, and is my champion. He led me to the door of writing and walks alongside me on the journey.
You are also a dancer, and you’ve led dance groups. What can you tell us about that?
I didn’t start dancing until my mid 40’s. A professional ballerina at the church I attended inquired if I would be interested in attending a ballet/lyrical class. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with dance. From there, I learned Jewish dancing, which can range from very beautiful to high energy, but is always very purposeful in movement. I continued taking lyrical and ballet from local studios and even competed in lyrical for three years, earning a Double Platinum in my age division the last year at age 51.
I taught dance to a group of young ladies at our church for several years and have led groups in dance at Messianic Passover services. I’ve also danced in and choreographed several plays at a local theater. Dance allows me to express myself in a way that I cannot by any other means. I feel so alive and free when I dance. It is such a wonderful high.
What is your proudest achievement?
Becoming the woman I am today as well as raising and homeschooling two wonderful, intelligent, independent-thinking daughters. I’ve been through a metamorphosis over the last 10-12 years and I am proud of myself for having the courage and perseverance to change.
Who are your heroes?
My brother, Michael. He showed me that you need to live life to the fullest because you never know how many days you have on this earth. He died from ALS in 2001.
My sister, Sherry. She showed me you can do anything you set your mind to. She was born with only one hand, but it has never stopped her from doing anything she set her mind to. She raised three daughters, became a surgical nurse, and is extremely talented at sewing and knitting.
If your friends or family members could choose three character traits to define you, what would they choose?
What advice would you give to your younger self?
“Promise me you will always remember: you are braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” Christopher Robin to Pooh
Don’t let others define you with their words. Your worth is not defined by a person, but by God. You are a beautiful, intelligent, strong woman. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included? Nope =)
Thank you very much for taking part in this interview!
Kimberly Hoffman is the author of Emma’s Dancing Day and Sigmund Stanley Spider Squared. She enjoys presenting programs related to her books at schools, libraries and civic groups on topics such as “How to Write a Story”, “Overcoming Obstacles”, “Thinking Outside the Box Regarding Disabilities”, as well as other subjects. Her favorite program includes teaching a bit of ballet and then leading the students in dance.
Kimberly grew up in Columbus, Indiana where trips to the library happened nearly every week of her childhood. She loves to read and thinks the library is a wonderful place to be. She knows that books can teach us, transport us to new realms, inspire us, cause us to cry, or make us fall over laughing.
Kimberly loves to dance, although she had not taken a lesson until about 10 years ago. She can often be found dancing around her house (and sometimes in public), choreographing to whatever song is playing.
She is married to Paul, who is also an author, and together they have six children, one grandchild, and three grand-kitties.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Invite her to speak to your group!
Be sure to look for Kimberly on social media: