Our first guest is the lovely Elaine Kiely Kearns, "Rev up those engines!"
Can you tell us about yourself?
I am the mother of two, a writer, an educator, and an optimist. Not necessarily in that order.
Tell us about your picture book writing journey? What has influenced you most?
Even though I teach second grade, I have always wanted to write picture books. It wasn’t until 2007 that I decided to pursue it as a career. I started out slowly, researching different agents and editors. I sent out manuscripts and got rejections. However, it wasn’t until I won a contest on DEAREDITOR.com in early 2012 that I threw myself into the craft. Deborah Halverson gave me a really great critique and, without knowing it, a really great boost of confidence. She is an expert in the field, has many books published, has been an editor at Harcourt for years—and she likes my writing! She has been my freelance editor ever since. After that, I joined an in-person critique group (which has since dissipated), and then got together with some 12x12 people; together we have formed a really great online group. We are very close, and I would be lost without their constant support and invaluable critiquing.
Favorite picture book?
Of course that’s like asking me to pick my favorite child. I love all picture books, but if I had to pick just one author, or just one book, it would have to be anything by Mo Willems. I love his picture books—they’re fun without the slap-you-in-the-face messages. I’ll take a fun romp that has the kids in stitches any day. My all-time favorite is DON’T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS. I love doing the voice of the pigeon and the silliness that the book demands when you read it. I got to meet Mo Willems at the NY SCBWI Conference last year, and he was lovely. I was a babbling idiot when I met him; he must have thought I was a total nut. I found out that we even share a birthday—February 11—so it’s destiny that I should love his work so much!
What gets you inspired to revise?
I think that having a critique group is extremely important. The feedback you receive from other people can put you on a completely different path and give you a new perspective, particularly when you are sick of your manuscript. I typically go through several rounds of revisions with my critique group, and then I send it off to Deborah Halverson for line editing. Each time the manuscript comes back to me for revisions, I am excited by the thought of revising. Yes, excited!
Thank you Elaine! :)