Wednesday, April 17, 2019

All About Elaine Kiely Kearns

by Suzy Leopold 

Kids love dinosaurs. Kid lit writers love Elaine. 

Today the GROG Blog features Elaine Kiely Kearns and her debut picture book: 

by Elaine Kiely Kearns
Illustrated by Colin Jack

Related image

No need for introductions. We'll skip over the formalities. 

Everyone knows Elaine as the founder of KIDLIT411. Together Elaine and Sylvia Liu form an outstanding team providing a one-stop place for writers and illustrators.

Join me for some online chit-chat as we learn more about Elaine as a writer and debut author.

Just look at that cute smile!
"I write. What's your superpower?"
Q1: Everyone wants to know about your debut book. Tell us about NOAH NOasurus? Did I spell the title correctly?

A1: It's just NOAH NOASAURUS or Noah Noasaurus because a noasaurus is a real dinosaur! (Weird, right??!!)

Well, I learned a new dinosaur name, Elaine! Click here for more facts and information about this interesting dinosaur and remains found in Argentina.

Q2: Tell us about the writing process and your journey for this picture book.

Q2: My writing process usually begins with an idea for a title. I like to think about an idea for awhile before I began writing. This is going to sound odd but I do some of my best thinking while I am vacuuming. I don't know if it's the drone of the vacuum cleaner or the task itself but it works. After thinking about the story and getting a rough arc in my brain, I will sit down and write a sloppy first draft.

Q3: Did you and illustrator Colin Jack communicate with each other about the illustrations?

A3: Nope! Not a single time. I am absolutely thrilled with how the book turned out and his art and his vision for NOAH NOASAURUS was perfect.

Q4: Tell us about your book launch.

A4: My book launch was held this past Saturday, April 13th and we held it at Scattered Books in Chappaqua, New York. The day was perfect and it was absolutely everything I imagined my launch to be. It was a bit reminiscent of the old, "This is Your Life!" show as the day went on. All of my best friends were there, friends from high school that I hadn't seen forever came to see me, childhood friends and neighbors that I hadn't seen in a long time, former students, teachers that I worked with, my family, their friends, and I even got to sign a picture book for Chelsea Clinton's children, Charlotte, Aidan, and her expectant new little one. It was a perfect day! I am still on Cloud 9!

Q5: What kind of swag are you preparing/sharing for NOAH NOASAURUS? 

A5: I bought the usual swag--bookmarks, stickers but by far the biggest hit was temporary tattoos that I had made of Noah. The kids love them!

Q6: Share your author history. Did you always want to be a writer or did that accomplishment come later while being an educator and a mom?

Q6: I had always thought about writing but life was busy working as an elementary school teacher. It wasn't until I had my girls and was home with them that I decided to seriously pursue the idea. I joined SCBWI right away and then joined Julie Hedlund's 12 X 12 (where I also met my critique group members). Once I got into the industry, I loved everything about it! Kid lit people are the best people!

Q7: How long did you write until you became published?

A7: This story happened pretty quickly. It took less than a year from the first draft to sold. However, it had a ton of drafts and rewrites in that short time. The ending and the opening line took me the longest. I rewrite them countless times but I do love my opening line.

"Noah Noasaurus woke up feeling very . . ." 
Probably because I can relate to it. 
That is too funny, Elaine! Everyone seems to have "NO" Days!

Q8: Tell us about your special place where you like to write. 

A8: I write at the kitchen table or on my couch.
This spot looks familiar.

Looks comfy and inviting.
Q9: Do you write every day? Most days?

A9: I'm always writing and right now I am on various stages of different manuscripts. (And  maybe something that I cannot discuss yet because--this is publishing!)

Q10: What's the best piece of advice you've received as a writer? What is your advice for writers "under construction"?

A10: From Aree Chung, "Make the dummy." Even though you may not be an illustrator make the dummy.

Q11: What are you currently reading?

A11: Write now I am reading lots and lots of picture book that have a series and lots of Early Readers.

Q12: Share some accomplishments that make you proud.

A12: My girls are my best achievement. I know every mom thinks their kids are the best but I have been blessed with the most perfect kids. I love them so much!

Q13: Do you have a favorite treat?

A13: I love pizza. Any kind of pizza except meatball. I know pizza isn't normally considered a treat but it can be if you try hard enough!

And finally,

Q14: Where can readers find out more about you?

Web site: KidLit411
Instagram: elainekielykearns411

Thank you, Elaine! I picked these flowers for you and Noah, too! 
Everyone loves Noah!
Spring Lilacs for Elaine & Noah!
Happy Easter, GROG Followers!


  1. Congratulations, Elaine, on this really cute book. Go Noah!

  2. I love the interview and hearing more about Elaine's journey! Fun fact - there truly is a Noahsaurus! Congrats again, Elaine!

    1. The *fun fact* was shared in this post along with a link, Kathy.

  3. Elaine you rock! Thank you Suzy for the interview ❤️

  4. Great interview! Congratulations, Elaine! Love how this story was born. :)

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting, Angie.


  5. This book just arrived in my mailbox! Yay! And I love the advice "make the dummy." I learned this firsthand at Highlights with Lisa Cisneros at Emma Dryden's revision workshop. I was discouraged by the initial critique of a MS I'd submitted and wanted to abandon it and dummy a different one. But Lisa told me that this would be a mistake. She said that a dummy can help you fix the problems. Reluctantly, like little Noasaurus, I made the dummy. It helped me cut the MS in half, visualize what would be seen in illustrations that would no longer be in the text, and work out pacing through page turns. Brilliant advice not to abandon the story. Absolutely brilliant. Congrats on your first and last lines. They are often the toughest! That first line makes me SMILE every time I read it.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience, Jilanne. You validate the value and importance of creating a picture book dummy. Your comment makes me smile.