Some of my favorite people are the ones you meet who leave a lasting impression, though they may never know it. You don't meet them for coffee or exchange Christmas cards, you don't have them in your contacts or message on Facebook. Honestly, they may not even remember you if they saw you, but they somehow inspire you and stay with you.
For me, writer Kathleen (Kay) Kudlinski is one of those people. In 2003, as someone who recently realized they were interested in writing for children, I found my way to SCBWI. Through that, I got in touch with Kay as the leader of a critique group on the Connecticut shoreline. She was warm and welcoming, and as I went sporadically over the next 5 years, I soon learned that she was just the right person to lead a critique group.
I recently found out that she was being honored for running the Once Upon A Shoreline SCBWI group for 30 years. I never lived that close the shore, and after those 5 years I moved even further away, with two small children in tow. But during those years when I would make the trip to Guilford, I found Kay to be full of knowledge and insight, and just motherly enough to not crush our writing souls. She didn't tell the group that they needed to be persistent - she showed us by plugging away, year after year, facing rejections even after she had many books published. She offered great advice to a newbie like myself (who wrote down everything she said) like, "What happened to put your people off-balance, and how did they regain their balance?" She also showed us that even with families and illness and all the things that life hands you, you just keep writing.
So if you need some inspiration, check out Kay's blog and list of her many non-fiction books for children here: Kathleen Kudlinski
She also has a science page tied into her great "Boy Were We Wrong" series here: Boy, Were We Wrong!
I once had the opportunity to attend a gathering at Kay's lovely house by a pond. I will always remember seeing her desk and shelves full of books, and thinking - this is what the home of a real writer looks like. So thank you, Kay, for being a great role model for children's book authors.