Contest Winner

ICL Contest Winner Kelly Bakshi

Kelly Bakshi

Winning Entry: When Thomas Cole Painted

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Welcome to the Winners Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL and IFW Contest winners. Today we’re celebrating Kelly Bakshi whose entry When Thomas Cole Painted came in Fifth Place in our Great Outdoor Picture Book Contest!

Kelly BakshiWhat contest was your winning entry submitted to?

The Great Outdoors Picture Book Contest

How many writing contests have you entered?


Please give the title of your entry and a short summary of the story.
The title of my entry is, “When Thomas Cole Painted.” In the story, the narrator compares their own art work to Thomas Cole’s. The text varies from simplistic language to lyrical language describing the child’s artwork, followed by Thomas Cole’s. Along the way the reader is brought into the mystique of Thomas Cole’s pioneering landscape paintings and concludes with the narrator feeling grateful for nature’s beauty. The author’s note explains that Thomas Cole is the father of “The Hudson River School of Art,” America’s first art movement.

What inspired your winning entry?
The majestic beauty of New York’s Hudson Valley inspired this piece. Thomas Cole manages to not only paint exquisite landscapes but through light and depth illustrates the feeling and energy that nature can provide to its witnesses. I wanted to share that feeling with kids.

How has entering this contest helped your writing?
Talk about a confidence booster! I framed my certificate and have it proudly displayed on my writing desk. The contest provided a wonderful writing prompt with the great outdoors theme and created parameters around word count and format, all great exercises for writers.

How did the critique in the Winners’ Workshop help you?
Lori Mortensen! Having this superstar author critique not only my work, but all the winners was such a precious education, not to mention a delight! I gleaned so much from her insight and am inspired to try my hand at picture book writing again.

Are you a full-time writer? If not, what is your “day job”?
ICL complete logo lgI am as much of a full time writer as possible, balancing it with being a stay at home mom. I write regularly and publish consistently. I usually write nonfiction, though I am motivated to craft picture book manuscripts after Lori’s excellent workshop.

How long have you been writing?
For pay, about 20 years.

What will you do with your piece now that it’s been recognized?
I ended up selling this as a devotional for “Unlocked.”

Any fun plans for the prize money?
I used it to buy passes for a family excursion up to the Storm King Art Center. Storm King Mountain is one of Thomas Cole’s landscape subjects.

What do you do when you’re feeling discouraged or blocked? Do you have any tips for your fellow writers?
When I’m feeling discouraged, I start a new project. My excitement for a new project always outweighs my discouragement from a prior one. MUST. KEEP. WRITING

If you could go to the yard sale of any character in the history of children’s literature, whose would you go to, and what would you buy?

I want Anne Shirley’s circlet of pearls that Gilbert Blythe proposed to her with. Anne is a kindred spirit and pearl is my birth stone. I never liked pearls until I learned that Anne loved them and I have been proud of my birthstone ever since.

Anything you’d like to share about your IFW experience?

Is everyone receiving Jan Field’s Children’s Writer e-news? I love it. It’s always filled with helpful information and publishing opportunities. It’s an absolute must for aspiring and established children’s writers.

Sign up for the Children’s Writer e-news here!

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