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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

More to this insurance salesman than meets the eye

Monday, December 1, 2008

Allen Williams shows off the storyboard for his third children's book about to be published. He used a similar one to write and illustrate his second book that is already in print, "Claude the Backwards Jumping Bullfrog." His newest book is nearly ready for publication and will be the second in his Claude the Bullfrog series. The storyboard is for his third book called "Claude the Backwards Jumping Bullfrog-Firefighter."
Allen Williams is a familiar face around Putnam County. He owns his own insurance agency where he sells State Farm Insurance and he is an author and illustrator of children's books.

He has published two books already and has a new book with two stories inside ready to roll off the presses.

Williams first book "Little Ernie & Wiggles" came about after a friend stopped by with his daughter, Sarah E. Beard, on bring your daughter to work day at the school.

She had a story in mind about chipmunks and earthworms and had drawn pictures for it. Williams put words to her pictures and produced his first book.

His next book was the first in his "Claude the Bullfrog" series. Williams had lots of story lines but couldn't find illustrators. He had a vision in his head of what Claude looked like and couldn't find anyone who could convey that image. He asked local schools and other authors and finally took up the paintbrush himself.

Why frogs? Williams doesn't know why he chose frogs. He does acknowledge, "It takes a lot of green paint to illustrate the books."

Born and raised in St. Louis, Mo., Williams grew up in a large family of six children. He had five sisters, two older and three younger. He says his parents encouraged outdoor activities, laughter and the ability to dream.

"My mother encouraged us to do things like lay out on the hillside and watch the shapes the clouds made," he said.

As a child, he had very little interest in books or reading.

"There just weren't many books out there geared toward boys. Things are a little different now," he observed.

It wasn't until the end of his senior year at Southwest High School that he developed an interest in reading. He continued to develop that interest as he attended the University of Central Missouri and Southeast Missouri State University.

It took Williams fifty years before he decided to take up pen and brush. When he finally did he added a twist of imagination, a dot of humor and a stack of real-life adventures in bringing his stories to life.

His book "Claude the Backward Jumping Bullfrog," is out now. His next book "Claude the Backward Jumping Bullfrog-firefighter" is getting close to being ready for printing.

When asked what his wife thinks about his writing Williams responded with a smile, "I heard she told somebody she thought it was cute," he laughed.

Williams and his wife Mary have been married for 39 years. The two knew each other in grade school and dated in high school and college.

"She knows me better than anybody. And, she'll guarantee I was trouble when I was in school," he laughs.

"She did buy me an art book last week, so she knows I'm serious about what I'm doing," he added.

His next book featuring Claude the Bullfrog and will have a second story called "Busters Mystery" featuring a small kitten.

"The book will also have coloring pages in it so the kids can do some creating on their own," he said.

Williams has his own version of the "3 R's" in education.

"I don't believe in the reading, writing and 'rithmatic version. I think it should be reading, speaking and listening. That's one of the things I try to teach kids when I talk to them," explained Williams.

The author enjoys visiting local elementary schools and going through the process of writing and illustrating books. He recently visited Bainbridge Elementary School where he talked to first graders.

"The kids were so impressed that many of them are writing and drawing their own books," said Nana Rising, Bainbridge first grade teacher.

Williams has been writing for over eight years and has written over 20 different stories.

He has big plans for his Claude series adding a Space Shuttle Commander to the next one in the series. Another book he has in mind is about Max, the cross-eyed mosquito.

"Some ideas I've been working on for four or five years," he said. I've probably written some of these things over 200 times."

"I get a lot of help with proofreading. I'm sure spell check was designed for me," he laughed.

Williams is big proponent in getting people to write about their lives.

When he lost his oldest sister a while back it made him think even more about preserving the thoughts and knowledge of people.

"If you don't get it down in writing, it's gone. All those memories and pieces are lost forever," he explained.

He plans to write a novel about a Native American girl and her grandfather.

"The new generations are not getting the word from their ancestors. People need to write it all down so we don't lose the essence of that person," he said.

He used his own family again as an example.

"My wife's mother had a wonderful recipe for dumplings. Everyone in the family loved them. The recipe was in her head and not written down. When she was 75 years old, I sat down with her and we went step by step writing down Willa May's dumpling recipe. She passed away and I have family members constantly asking for that recipe," he said.

Williams is not only an author, illustrator, business owner and educator, he also spends much of his time involved with local charitable organizations like Habitat for Humanity. Besides working with them all year long he also plays Santa during their fundraiser at the Armory in December. He has plans for a community event for needy families and shut-ins

He has begun his own journal and has family members' asking for copies particularly in his reminisces of his childhood.

"I grew up in a house filled with music, laughter and horror--the horror was my five sisters," chuckles Williams who recalls many warm memories of his childhood.

"My mother believed playtime was important. She wanted us to play so we could still be kids. She encouraged our imagination. But she could also use a switch. I think she taught Zorro how to put initials on things," he laughed.

Williams' books can be purchased directly from him or at Fine Print Bookstore. They can also be ordered through Barnes and Noble. He can be reached at 765-653-8601.

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I went to high school with Allen and I can't think of a nicer or funnier guy to spotlight in your newspaper. More importantly, I'm glad to call him my friend.

Congrats on this new book, Al! I'm buying a copy for my grandkids.

-- Posted by sue255 on Tue, Dec 2, 2008, at 7:38 PM

Great Article about a fellow classmate of mine. Looking forward to purchasing my first book of his and sending it to my younger grandkids. Keep them coming!

-- Posted by lccm4u on Thu, Dec 4, 2008, at 9:00 PM

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