Kidlit 411 Interview with Elaine Kiely Kearns and Sylvia Liu

Kidlit411 badge3By Kirsti Call

Kidlit411 is exactly what it sounds like; a high quality site with all the information you would ever want as a kidlit writer or illustrator.  Elaine Kiely Kearns and Sylvia Liu, my fellow 12x12ers, launched Kitlit411 in January 2014 and received over 11,400 page views the first month.

With author and illustrator spotlights of people like PB author-illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi, and graphic novel artist Janet Lee, Kidlit411 fills our insatiable need for knowledge.  Kidlit411 features interviews of agents like Jodell Sadler, and #1 New York Times Bestseller Drew Daywalt, Michael Ian Black, and Will Terry.

The first time I read Kidlit411, I knew it filled a need for kidlit writers everywhere.  I’m thrilled to get the inside scoop  from Elaine and Sylvia.

Kirsti Call:  Hi Elaine and Sylvia.  Thank you for allowing me the privilege of interviewing you!  What was the impetus for starting Kidlit411?

Elaine Kiely Kearns: KidLit411 came about from my need to pool resources from the internet. There are so many great sites out there and the kid lit community LOVES to share information! The amount of resources shared in Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 was so fantastic that I couldn’t keep up and needed a place to put it. So, I started making a list of the sites that I would return to again and again, to share with my online critique group. Then I thought that perhaps other friends in the kid lit community would enjoy the information too. Sylvia offered a fantastic template for us to use, and KidLit411 was born!

Sylvia Liu: Elaine started the site, but I knew it was a winner as soon as she told our critique group about her idea. We helped her brainstorm what the site might look like and I helped her set it up with our Pinterest-style front page.

KC: How do you decide what to include on the site?

EKK: Every link that is posted on our site has been vetted. We make sure that the content has some type of significance for a writer of kid lit. The people that we recommend for critiques, we have either personally used or a member of the team has recommended them. We strive to post the cream of the crop, even though it is very time consuming! We want to give our readers the best of the best and firmly believe that you can only do that with due diligence.

SL: We add links for articles that we would want to read and learn from. We’re in many kidlit groups and people are always sharing great resources, so we never run out of good material.

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KC:  Can people contact you to share resources that they think you might want to include?

EKK & SL: Absolutely! People can contact us and send links to  We also love to connect with authors and illustrators. We encourage people to join our Facebook group, where we share conversation and resources. We also send a WEEKLY 411 email where you get a condensed version of all of the new links and information that has been posted for that week. The Weekly is the ONLY place where we include ‘NEW AGENT” information, so be sure to sign up!

KC: You’re sharing a wonderful resource for the kidtlit community.  Have you made connections through this endeavor?

EKK: The writing community is wonderfully giving and generous! We are very grateful to all of the wonderful authors and illustrators who have donated their time by sharing their craft with us!

SL: I am so happy that people have responded so well to this site. The kidlit community is unfailingly generous and supportive, and I’ve met even more of this wonderful tribe through our Facebook group.

It’s also been a great way to meet authors and illustrators I admire. The large majority of people we have interviewed in our weekly spotlight are people we already knew through our existing networks. Now that we have a good library of interviews, we have found that it is not hard to ask authors and illustrators we didn’t know previously to agree to be featured.

KC:  Thanks Elaine and Sylvia!  And to all you children’s writers out there who haven’t yet checked out kidlit411,  go here, NOW. You won’t regret it. 

Elaine Kiely Kearns is a picture book writer, a second grade elementary school teacher and a mother of two, who lives on coffee, chocolate and humor. Armed with a master’s degree in Education and working from her home office in New York, she spends her time writing and perusing the internet for golden nuggets of information for
Profile pic 2014
Sylvia Liu is an environmental attorney turned writer-illustrator. She won the 2013 Lee and Low New Voices award and her winning manuscript, A MORNING WITH GONG GONG, will be published. She recently completed an illustration mentorship with David Diaz through the Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program.  Her art and infographics have been published on Huffington Post and other venues. She is inspired by aliens, cephalopods, bunnies, and pigs who want to fly.



  1. I am SO glad you guys started this site. When I relaunch my website, instead of including an extensive set of links under Writer’s Resources, now I can just link to yours and be done with it! Such a fabulous continuation of the resource-sharing that goes on in 12 x 12!!


    1. YES! Thank you so much, Julie! We are grateful for so many things, but you know that Sylvia and I are most grateful that we joined 12×12- for our writing, of course, but mostly because without 12×12, there wouldn’t be a KidLit411!


  2. Thanks for featuring Elaine and Sylvia and their phenomenal site! has become such an amazing resource in such a short period of time — all thanks, of course, to the dedication of these two dynamos. It’s gonna be HUGE(r), guys! 🙂


  3. Kidlit411 is going from strength to strength, and how could it not with such talented, creative and hard-working women such as you two, Elaine and Sylvia. Kidlit411 is an invaluable resources that I recommend to all my writing friends and I am so glad to have seen it develop from within our little critique group and the 12×12 community. A wonderful interview Kirsti.


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