Debut Review Challenge with Kelly Carey

Welcome, Kelly Carey, to the Debut Review Challenge blog! Thank you for sharing your writing journey and your debut picture book!

New this month: a chance to win during every author interview. Click here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway!

Debut By-the-Numbers: HOW LONG IS FOREVER?

Number of years writing: 16 years 

Number of years from contract to published book: 2 years

Date your book was released: April 7, 2020

Number of pages: 32

Number of launch events:

Number of days per week that writing takes a backseat to marketing & publicity: 2-3

Number of critique partners: 6

Number of books you hope to publish over the next ten years: 10+

Number of times you’ve pinched yourself that you really have a book out: 0 (Ouch! Pinching hurts!) 


  • Why do you write for children?

Writing for children is a natural offshoot of those maternal instincts that kicked in when I had my own children. My kids are grown now, but I still want to inhabit that elementary school age imagination and playfulness, and picture books let me do that. 

I also love that my ideal reader is a child. Kids offer their undiluted honest opinions with a candor and enthusiasm that is thrilling. If they love your book, they will gush and cheer. Reading my magazine fiction stories in classrooms and seeing kids smile, or hearing them laugh at funny parts, or comment seriously about how the story made them feel or think- that is gold! I have read unpublished pieces to kids and they offer up advice, and comment on why they didn’t like something in a refreshingly innocent way.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!

  • Without giving anything away, tell us about your work-in-progress. What do you love about it so far? Where are you stuck?

I’m working on a new picture book about a young girl searching for the perfect way to make a very important wish. I love that there are so many fun and quirky ways we make wishes; on shooting stars, dandelion puffs, eyelashes and wishbones. I really love the youthful perspective of searching for the perfect way to wish and I love my main character. I’m at the point with the story where I need to map out my page turns and think about the pacing and tension. I want to make sure I’ve given my reader a reason to keep reading, but I also want to give the reader a moment to think and contemplate. Finding that perfect balance can be the difference between a story readers will like to one they will love. 

  • How do you deal with writer’s block?

I find that one of the best ways to deal with writer’s block is to move on to a new project. Usually, if I can’t find the right way to revise a problematic manuscript or tease the story out of a kernel of inspiration, it’s best to put that manuscript aside for a week or two and pick up a different one.

Of course this only works if you have some ideas and manuscripts on standby that can jump in during an emergency. That’s why I jot down ideas all the time. I’m always grateful to have those backup stories to work on. I pop ideas into a note on my phone the minute they come to me and then I transfer them over to a computer file titled “story ideas”. I love being able to lean into those files when I feel stuck. 

Another great resource to fight through writer’s block is a critique group. If you really want to bust through a blocked moment with a manuscript and the thought of putting it aside for a few days seems tragic, I reach out to my critique partners for help. Often they offer up just the right piece of advice or ask the perfect question to reset a blocked moment. 

And if none of this works – I call it a day and go grab a good book to read or go do laundry. There is always an abundance of both in my house! 


Think about all the stories you’ve written that have hit a dead end or are hidden away in a drawer somewhere. For each of the items below, lift an element from a different story to create a weird, unexpected mash-up. Who knows? It may even inspire a new manuscript!

Character: A Troll named Fiske

Setting: Hillside Farm 

Theme: Bucking Social Norms

Problem: Pigs Have Invaded 

Pitch: Fiske has created such a lovely stink of his hillside home that pigs have invaded his secluded spot and now they are setting up pot-slop-dinners, mud spa gatherings, and oink-karaoke. Fiske, like all respectable trolls, shuns friends and community, but what should he do about these pigs?   Maybe it’s time for a pig roast? 

This sounds like a cross between Shrek and Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type! I’d love to read it. 🙂

Okay, Challenge Participants! It’s Time to Write Some Reviews!

Leave an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, or other online site. Every time you write five reviews for debut Kidlit creators between March 1-April 30, 2020, you can fill out this ENTRY FORM for a chance to win prizes. Kelly has generously donated a picture book manuscript critique and a 15-minute virtual author visit. Thank you, Kelly!


  • Support debut authors by suggesting their book titles to your local library.
  • Purchase them as gifts for children in your life, a teacher, or a local school.
  • Share favorite reads on social media and tag the author/illustrator.
  • And, of course, WRITE REVIEWS!!!

New this month: a chance to win during every author interview. Click here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway!

About Kelly and her Book

Bio:   Kelly Carey’s debut picture book, How Long Is Forever?, will be released by Charlesbridge in April 2020.  Her award winning magazine fiction stories have been published for over a decade in magazines like Highlights for Children, and Girls’ World.

She is a graduate of The Institute of Children’s Literature and an active member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She belongs to The Writers’ Loft in Sherborn, MA and is the proud co-founder of the blog 24 Carrot Writing (  Kelly’s writing received the Higher Goals Award from the Evangelical Press Association in 2008, 2009 and 2015. She has participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), Storystorm and Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Picture Book Challenge. 

Kelly lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three children. Learn more about Kelly at her website

Book Title: How Long Is Forever? 

Author/Illustrator: Author- Kelly Carey; Illustrator – Qing Zhuang

Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing

Year: 2020

Synopsis: In How Long Is Forever? Mason is waiting for the first blueberry pie of the season and it’s taking forever. At least that’s what Mason thinks, until Grandpa asks him to prove it and sends Mason searching the family farm to find the meaning of forever. 

1 thought on “Debut Review Challenge with Kelly Carey”

  1. Congrats on your book release! A fun interview and Story Smash sounds like a crazy PB!

    In regard to libraries, I do request books and hope they result in purchases!

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