by Christine Galeone
Have you ever pondered the concept of forever? Children’s fiction author Kelly Carey has, and her curiosity about the concept seems to have begun when she was a teenager.
“My friend and I were in a car when a song we loved came on the radio,” Carey recalled. “I squealed, ‘Turn it up! This is the best song ever.’ My friend’s dad scoffed…”
Although her enthusiasm for the song “She Blinded Me with Science” faded, Carey said that the exchange helped inspire her first children’s book “How Long is Forever?” The book, which she wrote in 2013, will be published by Charlesbridge in the spring of 2020. While her journey to become a published author has required patience, it has been a rewarding one that has bolstered her talent and her enthusiasm for writing.
In the children’s book, which is being illustrated by Qing Zhuang, patience is a virtue that the story’s protagonist, Mason, doesn’t have. As he waits for his grandmother to bake the first blueberry pie of the season, the child tells his grandfather that the process is taking “forever.” In response, his grandfather sends him on a journey to search the family farm for the meaning of forever.
The Upton resident, who has had short stories published in magazines including “Highlights for Children,” “Clubhouse Jr.” and “Girls’ World,” hopes the book will affect kids in several ways. While she wants the book to create an opportunity for parents/grandparents to spend quality reading and bonding time with children, she also hopes the children will have fun reading it, and she hopes it will make kids aware of the importance of saying what they mean. Additionally, she hopes it will help children recognize and be grateful for their blessings.
“I think “How Long is Forever?” is a heartwarming picture book that parents and grandparents can share with children and grandchildren to help them understand that special love parents and grandparents feel for the children in their lives – that forever love,” Carey shared. She later added “I also hope Mason’s search for his forever encourages kids to go on their own hunt for their forevers. It’s a wonderful gift when you notice and call out those things, people and places that will forever hold a special place in your heart.”
Throughout her journey to get the book published, Carey has been grateful for the KidLit community. After feeling encouraged by the success of “The Island of the Skog” author Steven Kellogg, who once lived in her home town, the mom of three took an Institute of Children’s Literature correspondence course. Then, she joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and The Writers’ Loft in Sherborn, and she enrolled in classes taught by Karen Boss, an editor at Charlesbridge.
“It was through SCBWI that I met my first critique partners, and we started a blog for writers, 24 Carrot Writing (www.24carrotwriting.com), that has been offering…advice to fellow writers for over five years,” Carey noted. “I think pushing back from the desire to write…in isolation, and really getting out into the community of fellow writers made a big difference in my success. Not only did I learn so many things that improved my writing, and I learned about the industry, but I met wonderful friends, colleagues, and contacts.”
She also appreciates kids’ feedback. “Reading my magazine fiction…in classrooms and seeing kids smile, or hearing them laugh…or comment seriously about how the story made them feel…that is gold,” Carey said. “I have read unpublished pieces…and they offer up advice, or comment on why they didn’t like something in a refreshingly innocent way. When negative comments come from sparkling eyes and squishable cheeks, it’s always welcome!”
And Carey loves how there’s “something wonderfully permanent” about a published book. “I love that my words will always be safely tucked inside a sturdy cover and embellished with beautiful illustrations,” Carey shared. “I love knowing that, at any moment, little hands could open those pages, and the words I wrote can connect with the heart and soul of a reader. That’s a gift I will forever be grateful for!”
For more information about Kelly Carey’s writing and writing workshops she teaches, please visit her website, www.kcareywrites.com. If you would like to suggest a Blackstone Valley author for this series, please contact Christine at [email protected].