You’ve been a member of SCBWI for over four years now. What has been the best thing so far for you as a member?
Finding my critique group!
I attended a critique event through SCBWI and immediately clicked with my trio. We met every other week for years after that initial meeting. Not only did they make me a better writer and help improve my work, but they are lovely humans who I enjoy spending time with.
How did you find out about SCBWI? Why did you join?
I learned about SCBWI through word of mouth. I was looking for ways to get further involved in the writing community, and this seemed like a great step.
You have been published in journals. How would other writers go about doing this? How did you?
I had a lot of miscellaneous pieces (mostly flash fiction) I was proud of but didn’t know what to do with.
Poets & Writers has a comprehensive list of literary journals, and I used their site to find journals that might be a good fit for my work. I drafted a cover letter that I slightly adapted for each journal. I then tracked my submissions using an excel document. Like with any querying process, it might take a few tries to find your perfect match!
What is your favorite thing about writing?
Three things: creating something out of nothing, finding story ideas everywhere you go, and constantly asking yourself, “what if?”
Why write for children?
Well, if I’m being honest, I’m really writing for myself.
I read a lot of young adult fantasy and sci-fi (those genres make up about 80% of my bookshelf!), so that’s what I tend to write. With that said, I’d like to think my writing could be enjoyed by various age groups/audiences.
You are a mental health advocate. What does this mean?
The term is open for interpretation, but for me, it’s someone who counters misinformation surrounding mental health conditions and is open and honest about their own story. Both of these actions help create a safe space for other people to step forward, share their personal experiences, and possibly seek help.
On a related note, September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Check on your loved ones!
If I gave you a megaphone and the whole world would listen: What one sentence would you shout?
I might be cheating with the semicolon, but:
“People with mental illness aren’t dangerous; they’re more likely to be the
victim of violence than a perpetrator.”
Have you always been a writer? A creative person?
Yes! ‘Author’ has always been my dream job. My mom recently sent me a story called “Thumb Face” that I wrote as a kid about a talking thumb. Not my best work.
What time do you get up, and what do you have for breakfast?
I am not a morning person. I play a dangerous game of ‘how long can I stay in bed without being late’ and am lucky to get out the door with a granola bar in my bag.
What writing blogs or Instagram # do you follow, and why have they helped you?
I follow too many to list here, but a few are: @so_many_ocs, @writersdigest, and @writinggibsongirl. I enjoy these pages for their inspirational quotes, pep talks, and quick tips. They help keep me motivated and inspired!
What next conference or writer’s retreat will you attend, and why should other writers go?
Oct. 21-23 in Dulles, VA!
I might seem biased because I’m on the planning committee, but it will be an amazing event. Attendees will have the opportunity to network, obtain valuable industry insight, and receive professional feedback on their work.
There’s also a separate virtual component Oct. 17-19 that’s free for in-person registrants and can be purchased as a stand-alone experience for those unable to join us in person. For more information and to register, visit midatlantic.scbwi.org/events.
What are you reading right now?
“The Final Gambit” by Jennifer Lynn Barnes!
I finished “The Hawthorne Legacy” last night, and if I’m being honest, I’ll probably finish “The Final Gambit” by the time this post goes live.
What writing book has helped you the most?
Courtney Maum’s “Before And After the Book Deal.” She provides wonderful industry insight and advice, and her writing style makes you feel like you’re talking to a friend.
Do you have someone who is cheering you on in the writing world?
Yes, my family and boyfriend. Querying is often a long and disheartening process. It’s so important to have cheerleaders who can pick you up when you’re feeling down and motivate you to keep going.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint!
You are on the writer’s path… where are you right now, and what are your goals?
I am deep in the query trenches for my young adult sci-fi novel and would love to see my work on bookshelves in a few years. Otherwise, all I really want to do is write. I have a pocket notebook full of ideas that I can’t wait to explore further.
What are you working on right now? What is your WIP?
I’m working on a new adult novel that uses fantasy to explain a real-world unsolved mystery. It’s a lot different from my last project, which is exciting and fun, and I’ve convinced myself I now have a legitimate reason to travel to the United Kingdom…
What one word best describes you?
I’m a true Hufflepuff.
What scares you? The night? Monsters? Snakes? Spiders? Clowns?
Okay, the ocean. There’s still so much we don’t know and haven’t explored. And I’m sorry, giant squids? A family member, who shares my fear, aptly stated:
“Giant anything is horrifying. The sea got too much space for those bitches to grow.”
Wow, Kelly, you are on your way toward publication! We wish you luck and lots of fun on your journey. Thank you for sharing your writing life with us. The more we learn, the better our chances!
If you would like to connect with Kelly, please follow her here:
You can read her journal publications and interview here:
Kelly's Mental Health Interview for Dr. Ken Duckworth's Book, You Are Not Alone - release date September 2022
Until the next blog...