Meet the Author!

Kelly’s love of writing can be traced back to 1960, when she was two-ish, and used her mother’s black mascara and lipstick to write on the neighbor’s car! (And maybe blamed it on her brother… although she says he blamed it on her.) She has been telling stories and writing ever since.

After learning how to write words–and that writing with paper, pens, pencils, and computers was safer than using her mother’s makeup–Kelly took to writing her feelings rather than speaking them aloud, a practice she believes led her to the writing life she enjoys today.

She writes picture books for children to share; stories celebrating families, dancing, friends, pets, and all that goes into being a kid! Most recently, Vampire Baby (Candlewick Press, 2013); One Day I Went Rambling (Bright Sky Press), Character Counts Silver Medalist and winner of the 2013 Writer’s League of Texas Best Picture Book Award; Your Mommy Was Just Like You and Your Daddy Was Just Like You (G.P. Putnam-Penguin), called “Perfect for intergenerational lap dancing”; Dad and Pop (Candlewick Press), winner of 2010 NAPPA Honors and Library Media Connection’s Editor’s Choice Award; Dance, Y’all, Dance (Bright Sky Press), a rhyming, two-stepping romp; and Not Norman: A Goldfish Story (Candlewick Press), named the Texas Institute of Letters Friends of Austin Public Library’s Best Children’s Book for 2005, a Children’s Choice Award, and Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Medal winner.

And for grown-up humans Kelly shares adventures, “what inspires” and musings at Kelly’s Fishbowl.

At the moment, Kelly is obsessed with creating picture books. “Picture books are like icebergs,” she notes, “so much of what goes on goes unseen.” And revising picture book text is a lot like carving an ice sculpture. “I start with a big, messy jumble of words, pages of words, blocks of words, and just start chipping away. When I’m finished, I hope what’s left is as pure and simply stated as I can write it.”

A native of California, Kelly was born in Santa Cruz, with saltwater in her ears and the sound of the sea humming through her veins. She attended five grammar schools in California and Pennsylvania before fifth grade when her family settled in Orange County, a mile from the ocean. After graduating from Huntington Beach High School, Kelly earned an Associate of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts from Fullerton College. She continued her education at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF), and San Jose State University (SJSU), where she majored in Communications, and at Tulsa Community College and various Continuing Education Programs, where she focused on writing.

Kelly is a graduate of the Vermont College Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults program. An active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), the American Library Association (ALA), the Texas Library Association (TLA), the International Reading Association (IRA), and the Author’s Guild, she participates in many workshops and conferences.

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