Refusing to let cancer get the best of her, Holly Williams was inspired to pursue a dream of becoming a children’s book author. She got the idea for her latest book, The Cowgirl Ballerina, by watching the daughter of world-champion cowboy Trevor Brazile play at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. “This adorable little girl in her ballerina tutu and boots was roping a dummy calf, and I just had the light bulb come on,” she says. (Raiza Giorgi / Noozhawk photo)

Out of Holly Williams’ “amazing tragedy,” as she calls her two-time cancer diagnosis, emerged her creative side and a decision to pursue her passion of writing children’s books.

The Buellton native has two published books under her belt, the most recent being The Cowgirl Ballerina, a story about a young girl who learns she can be a cowgirl and a ballerina — and doesn’t have to settle for one or the other.

“I wanted to write a book for little girls saying, just because they might be raised on one thing like being a cowgirl, doesn’t mean they have to give that up even if they want to be a ballerina,” Williams told Noozhawk.

Williams grew up in the Santa Barbara area, and graduated from Carpinteria High School. She married young to her sweetheart, Rodney Williams, and they have three grown boys.

The Williamses are the fourth generation of the family in the Buellton/Lompoc area, and they raise cattle on their ranch.

“Even though I am a ranch girl, I have always had a love for singing, the performing arts and writing,” Williams said.

She studied voice for many years, and now teaches, as well as performing with two local bands, Jazz Divine and The Rip Tides.

Her inspiration for singing came from listening to Ella Fitzgerald ever since she was a child.

Think tutus and cowboy boots don’t go together? Holly Williams says otherwise in 'The Cowgirl Ballerina.'

Think tutus and cowboy boots don’t go together? Holly Williams says otherwise in The Cowgirl Ballerina.

In 2009, Williams was first diagnosed with breast cancer and beat that, only to have it return in 2013. Although the cancer is gone as of now, she won’t be “cancer free” unless it doesn’t come back in five years.

“I just started keeping myself busy by singing and performing and writing stories,” she said. “The way I write is I have to have a title first and then the story just flows.”

Her first book, Waffles at Grandma’s, was published a few years ago by Tate Publishing and is about her memories of cooking with her grandmother in Alabama. She also includes waffle recipes so readers can get into the kitchen and cook as well.

“I wanted it to be special, because in this age of technology, it is important to have those connections and memories with our elders,” she explained. “Some of my favorite times were cooking with my grandmother and hopefully kids who get that book will want to cook with theirs as well.”

Every year the Williams family travels to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas to watch bull riding, bronco riding and other competitions. That’s where Williams happened to see the young daughter of world-champion calf roper and cowboy Trevor Brazile, and she was wearing a cowgirl outfit with a ballerina tutu.

“This adorable little girl in her ballerina tutu and boots was roping a dummy calf, and I just had the light bulb come on,” Williams said. “So now that the book is published, I market it with a tutu and with a rope.”

The next venture for Williams will be auditioning for Pacific Conservatory Theatre (PCPA) in Santa Maria as she has always had a love of acting.

“It’s important for me to never give up and to never say that it’s too late for something because what’s the worst that could happen?” she asked with a smile.

For more information, connect with The Cowgirl Ballerina on Facebook.

— Raiza Giorgi is a Noozhawk contributing writer from the Santa Ynez Valley. She can be reached at bellaphoto04@gmail.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.