Home is where the laughter is

Well hello there. I write (award-winning!) books for children (16 in print so far). I’m so glad you found me! If I look familiar, it’s probably not because I was the one yelling at you to move it, mister, I’ve got a soccer game to get to. It’s probably not because you read one of my (award-winning!) books, although some day I hope to change that (**it’s not b/c my books stink–they are for the school and library market, so honestly, odds are you haven’t come across them in stores as they aren’t supposed to be there). But you may have seen me on CNN (twice) or on one of my regular local morning TV segments in Sacramento, Portland, Phoenix, or Albuquerque, heard me on national radio, read the syndicated newspaper column I co-wrote for five years, or seen one of the literally hundreds of articles I either was quoted in or wrote, like in Writing Children’s Books for DummiesWorking Mother magazine, California Kids!PC WeekInvestor’s Business Daily, blah blah… Maybe you’ve been at one of my author events or at one of the dozens of writer conferences where I spoke? Why, maybe you’ve driven by me on the freeway and didn’t even know it!

What I’m most proud of now are my six picture books, seven NF chapter books & three YA titles I’ve authored with publishers like Lerner and Rosen, and the many many books I’ve professionally edited for others. When I’m not eating dark chocolate, pretending to clean the kitchen, or yelling at my kids, I’m dedicated to the children’s book industry. My husband and three kids have been very supportive, and I’m looking forward to more published books, more conference presentations, and more school visits.

Are you a fellow or budding children’s book writer? Check out my blog (or click above) for writing tips specific to the kidlit industry. We dance to the beat of a different drummer here. It’s not the same beat as the traditional lit world, or any industry, really, and I must say, it’s divine. You’ll love it here!

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Bio: the short version

(written in third person because it makes me sound important)

BITSY KEMPER is an award-winning author of 16 children’s books so far. You may have seen her on CNN, CBS This Morning, heard her on national radio, or read her musings in hundreds of newspapers and magazines across the country. Maybe you drove by her on the freeway and didn’t even know it…  Mom of three kids (four if you count her husband), she is active in sports, theater and church (but not all three at the same time). She has held author visits and conference workshops from CA to NY and can’t wait to do more! Visit her at www.BitsyKemper.com

or Bio: the slightly longer short version

Bitsy is an award-wining author of 16 children’s books. She spent too much of her early career in the computer industry being interviewed in places like CNN and co-writing a nationally-syndicated newspaper column, not realizing the creative passion she’d have once she started writing children’s books. After authoring her first four picture books, she figured out a way to merge her PR and marketing expertise with her writing. When not nose down and knee deep creating & editing, she enjoys presenting at schools, events, and writers conferences, and helping other writers get attention. Bitsy is an accomplished speaker, mother of three (four if you count her husband), and according to her business card, a really nice gal.

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or Bio: the long version

Bitsy grew up on Lawn Guyland (commonly spelled “Long Island”), New York, the youngest of five kids born within five years. Her family didn’t have much growing up but they all learned the value of family, of fun, and of faith. She was one of those perhaps rare kids that LOVED school, and was involved in every extracurricular activity ever offered. She went to undergraduate college in North Carolina. She got a “real job” right after she graduated, moving out to sunny California, where she earned a graduate degree, got married, had kids, and wrote books, but wait, this is the long version so hold on. CA is where she remains today but lots have happened in the meantime.

Early on in her career, Bitsy worked in the computer industry as a PR and marketing manager. She created business plans, product introduction plans, marketing plans, and excelled at pioneering new avenues of company growth. Bitsy enthusiastically taught Presentation Skills to engineers (tough crowd!) and giving Media Training to executives (ditto!). She also shared ongoing skill and process enhancements to her peers (such as using a Gantt Chart to plan product launches) even when they didn’t want them. She wrote product, advertising, and corporate documents, and many many news releases—sometimes technical, sometimes educational, sometimes flat-out boring. Those sharp writing skills never quite got a vacation.

While wrapped up in the corporate world, she helped run a multi-million dollar educational program that talked to parents about using the family computer, and co-wrote a nationally syndicated newspaper column that ran for almost five years in fifteen different newspapers throughout the nation. Once she ditched her business suits, she then penned her own newspaper column for years in California, on the same topic. Using humor and real life examples, her weekly columns helped families see a friendly side of their family computer. Her solo column appeared in the Sacramento Bee, titled InterActive Family; it was also known as “Digital Parenting” and “PC Parents.” She had a stint as a news reporter, where her articles often landed on the front page (oh the perks of small papers). She then ran a monthly column for California Kids! magazine, interviewing famous children’s book authors and illustrators.

The funny thing is she majored in Economics (earning a Bachelor of Science/B.S. with a minor in Marketing), and Speech/Communication (earning a Bachelor of Arts/B.A. with a minor in Theatre), not English or journalism, at North Carolina State University in Raleigh (Go Pack!). She also earned a Master’s degree in business (MBA) with an emphasis in Marketing at California State University at Sacramento.

None of that schooling steered her towards where she is today.

Or did it?

She thinks she’s always been a storyteller of sorts. And not in the “quick–lie to dad!” kind of way. Throughout her “real life” and even computer-industry career, she’s performed in shows, appeared regularly on TV and on panels, won public speaking awards, emceed events, hosted live web chats, was in a few movies, did TV commercials, hit the professional theater scene, and somewhere in the crowd you’ll see her in music videos. She starred in the award-winning TV show “Dots Correct!” on Sacramento cable. She’s been interviewed or profiled in literally hundreds of media outlets worldwide, from CNN to Writing Children’s Books for Dummies. She got married to a wonderful man, has three super cool kids, and stays active in church and theater. She’s not what you’d call the shy type!

She wrote her first book, in rhyme, in her mind while on her daily stroller walks with her youngest child. She researched how to get it published and has been knee-deep ever since. She’s learned a lot about books, children’s books especially, and the market overall. That first book has never been published, and she admits it may never be, but like a bulldog with a chew toy, she just wouldn’t (and still won’t!) give up. She attended conference after conference, joined SCBWI, read everything she could get her hands on, started critique clubs, posted queries to strangers in usenet groups…you name it. Before long her commitment and eagerness paid off; she got published! Her first contract was a four-book, nonfiction deal with Picture Window Books in 2006. Within a few years she presented at the very conferences she first attended, the revered International SCBWI Conference in L.A. She adores doing school and library visits and when she isn’t helping writers like herself hone their craft, she’s working on creating new manuscripts. Her fifth book, a nonfiction YA for the school and library market published by Rosen, came out in 2014. Her three finance chapter books for Lerner came out in 2016, her four nonfiction titles with The Child’s World came out in 2015, two YA titles with ReferencePoint Press came out late 2017 and 2018, and her two ESL picture books for TunTun Books are due eventually.

Once she started writing for children, you see, things clicked. It felt right. It never feels like work when you love what you do! She figured out a way to merge her PR and marketing expertise with her writing, and couldn’t be happier. Well, sure, if a few more manuscripts get picked up she will be, and a back massage here or there wouldn’t hurt, but you know what she means…

Whoever would have guessed this is where she’d end up—and that she’d like it so much?

[Are you wishing you stuck with the short bio?]

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Keep in touch with me on Twitter. I hardly ever curse. (On Twitter, at least.)

@BitsyKemper

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Well, the author thinks the words are more important, and the illustrator thinks the pictures are...but it's really both.

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