Allison: From your blog you also seemed to have always been writing. How did you get started in writing as a child? How you juggle between writing for different ages and genres? Do you have a favorite age group and/or favorite genre for which you like to write? Who have been your best supports for you as a writer?
Kelly: Growing up I loved to write poems. Then I moved to short stories, and I even wrote a novel in middle school. I always had ideas swimming through my head, and I wanted to get them down on paper. I love juggling age groups and genres. It keeps my writing fresh and exciting. I constantly challenge myself to write outside of my comfort zone to see what I can do. My personal favorite is writing fantasy, and since I taught middle school I have a special place in my heart for that age group. I’m lucky enough to have a very supportive family who understands that writing is part of who I am. It’s not a hobby; it’s my life.
Allison: You also read a lot. How did you get started in reading as a child? Out of curiosity, how many books do you read in a week? And how big is your library?
Kelly: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t read. I was the kid who wanted to learn to read because I loved books. My parents actually had to take books away from me because I would get eyestrain from reading so much. I loved jumping into new worlds and meeting different characters. For me nothing beat that–I still feel this way. I read everyday, which usually amounts to a few books a week. I go to the library every Monday morning and take out about 3-4 books. And every Wednesday morning you’ll find me at the bookstore. I have overflowing bookshelves and a Kindle that’s filling up quickly.
Allison: Before you became a published writer, you were a middle school language arts teacher. Why did you become a teacher? Have your teaching experiences influenced your writing?
Kelly: If you looked at my “What I want to be when I grow up” assignment from first grade, you’d see I always wanted to be a teacher. I knew I wanted to help people–specifically kids. My experiences teaching definitely influenced my writing. Being around your target audience five days a week is priceless. It gave me a much better understanding of the age group. It’s fine to think back to your own childhood and try to access your emotions, but to see them everyday through your students keeps those things alive and really helps you convey them on paper. I’m so thankful for all my students taught me.
Allison: In reading through your blog, I was impressed with how well you promote yourself. How long does the promotional aspect of writing take you? What are some of the best promotional tips you have learned?
Kelly: Well, thank you. To be honest, I’ve learned from other writers. I think the best way to do anything in the publishing industry is to watch what the pros are doing and then mimic what will work for you. Promotion takes a lot of time. I set aside time everyday to devote to promotional tasks. And still, I think the best way to promote yourself is to promote others. If you help people, they will help you. That’s probably what I love best about the writing community.
Allison: As part of promotion, authors often blog. You started blogging two years ago, even before you had your first story published. Why did you start to blog? How did you decide what to write about on your blogs? I noticed that for the first year, very few people commented. What kept you blogging, despite little reader feedback?
Kelly: Starting a blog isn’t easy. You have to allow time to build a following. I knew that I needed to start creating a platform for myself as a writer, so I blogged. At first it was pretty much me talking to myself or a few friends and family members. But over time, I joined writer’s forums and followed other blogs. I made connections with other writers and eventually got a nice following on my own blog. I’m glad I stuck with it because blogging has allowed me to meet some really great people. Persistence is key.
Allison: Now that you are a published author, what have been some of your best experiences?
Kelly: I recently had a young girl contact me through my website to tell me that she’s home schooled and her mother gave her one of my stories to read from an educational website. The girl told me she loved the story so much that she Googled me and found my website. She said she was looking forward to checking out MAY THE BEST DOG WIN and more of my short stories. Reading her message almost made me cry. I write because I want to entertain and touch the hearts of children of all ages. To know I did that for even one child means the world to me.
Allison: In your blog, you referred to various publication goals that you have now met including having stories accepted, getting a book published, and signing on with an agent. What are your next goals?
Kelly: My biggest goal right now is to see my middle grade novel (which is set up to be a trilogy) published. I fell in love with these characters and this story. I’m dying to share them with the world.
Américas Award for Children’s & Young Adult Literature
CLASP founded the Américas Award in 1993 to encourage and commend authors, illustrators and publishers who produce quality children’s and young adult books that portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the United States.
The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.
The Carnegie Medal is awarded annually to the writer of an outstanding book for children. It was established by in 1936, in memory of the great Scottish-born philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie.
The Christy Awards are awarded each year to recognize novels of excellence written from a Christian worldview.
Coretta Scott King Award
The Coretta Scott King Book Award titles promote understanding and appreciation of the culture of all peoples. It is given to African American authors and illustrator.
children and young adult blogger literacy awards
Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award
The Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award was initiated in 2000 to recognize authors, illustrators, and publishers of high quality fictional and biographical children, intermediate, and young adult books that appropriately portray individuals with deve
Hans Christian Anderson Award
The Hans Christian Andersen Awards is given to a living author and illustrator whose complete works have made a lasting contribution to children’s literature. The award is the highest international recognition an author can receive.
Kate Greenaway Medal
The Kate Greenaway Medal was established in 1955, for distinguished illustration in a book for children. It is named after the popular nineteenth century artist known for her fine children’s illustrations and designs.
Middle East Book Award
The Middle East Book Award recognizes quality books for children and young adults that contribute meaningfully to an understanding of the Middle East and its component societies and cultures.
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award
Honors fantasy books for younger readers, in the tradition of The Hobbit or The Chronicles of Narnia
Newbery Medal Award
The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.
Pura Belpré Award
The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. It is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino experience.
Red House Book Award
The Red House Children’s Book Award is a series of literary prizes for works of children’s literature published during the previous year in England.
Sydney Taylor Award
The Sydney Taylor Book Award is presented annually to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience.