Kimberlee Esselstrom

Published Work: Highlights for Children

Kimberlee is a graduate of Institute for Children’s Literature and Institute for Writers. View Course Catalog >

Welcome to the Winner’s Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL students. Join us today as we celebrate with Kimberlee Esselstrom!

Highlights July 2012

Congratulations on getting published! Tell us a bit about your road to publishing success.

While still taking the ICL course I was published in one of the last print editions of the Christian Science Monitor. After that, Highlights for Children published one of my stories. Writing for children and adults, I’ve had an eclectic mix of fiction and nonfiction published in collections and place in various contests.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing in earnest since 2006 after I finished homeschooling my four children.

How has your ICL course helped with your writing?

I wanted to write my entire life but had no direction until taking the ICL and Breaking Into Print courses. The one-on-one instruction was just the encouragement I needed. The critiques were honest and helped me to see what was missing in my writing. The courses gave me knowledge and confidence to submit my work.

What will you do with what you’ve written during the course?

Most of the stories and essays I wrote for the course have been reworked and polished. I’ve entered them in contests and sent them to publishers. Stories that had no place to go serve as reminders of how far I’ve come in my writing.

Swimming with Strangers in Shaghai by Kimberlee EsselstromWhere is your favorite place to write?

My home office. I sit at a big flat teachers desk purchased from a school auction. I do my best work in the early hours, after my morning swim.

What’s your favorite genre to write for?

YA and adult women’s fiction

What writing tip would share with new writers?

Join a critique group that is honest yet encouraging. Set deadlines and stick to them. Every two weeks my group exchanges novel chapters, new stories, or revisions. No excuses.

If you could travel back in time and give yourself one piece of
writing advice, how far back would you go, and what would you tell

I would go back to when I was raising my kids. I would have carved out time every day to write, even in a journal. I tried, but always felt guilty. Also, I would have listened more in English class! Writer’s need to know the basics before we can start breaking rules.

Mischief Makers by Kimberlee EsselstromPlease tell us what you enjoyed most about your ICL experience!

My instructor’s Roberta Roesch, Buffy Silverman, and Phyllis Ring were absolute professionals! They were prompt with sending back my assignments. They were so thorough! I never wondered if a story was okay or not. They went line-by-line assessing my strengths and weaknesses. I doubt I would be writing today (starting my fourth novel) if it weren’t for ICL. I sing their praises wherever I go.


Kimberlee Esselstrom taught her four children at home for eighteen years then turned to writing. She is a member of SCBWI and FWA where Finding Franny was nominated for a Royal Palm Award. Her eclectic works have been published in The Christian Science Monitor, Highlights for Children, Knowonder!, Mom Writers Literary Magazine, KU Center for Testing & Evaluation, and the FWA Collection and Journeys Anthology, and many others.

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