Kesha is a Georgia-based writer and editor whose projects include picture books, middle-grade fiction, non-fiction, and folklore. Prior to launching a writing career, Kesha spent many years as a Language Arts and history middle school teacher. Her first nonfiction text, Women in the Civil Rights Movement, published by Scholastic, debuted in 2020. She was bitten by the writing bug in middle school when she entered her first writing contest. Kesha didn’t win the contest, but her love for writing stuck. She received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University. Kesha also holds a master’s degree in education. When not writing, she enjoys cooking, yoga, and spending time with her family.
Tell us about when you first knew you were a writer.
I knew I was a writer when I entered my first writing contest in middle school. Something about writer a story and seeing my name on a glossy laminated cover made from construction paper resonated with me.
What three books do you wish you had written and why?
What a tough question! There are so many great books I’d love to have written.
- Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi – I love the world building in this book! It’s so immersive and the main character, Zalie, is fierce!
- The Giver, by Lois Lowry – This is the first book I read as an adult that made me cry over the characters! Did they make it to safety? I wasn’t sure but had to convince myself that they did so that I could be okay with the ending. I wish I’d written this book because the author did such a fantastic job of making me care about the characters and the stakes they faced.
- Where the Dragon Meets the Moon – There is so much to admire in this book. I wish I’d written it because I’m drawn to books about epic quests and rich folklore. This book has both and so much more.
What’s something you have learned while mentoring youth writers?
I’ve learned that young writers are immensely creative and eager to share their stories. I love their creative spirit and energy. It’s a privilege to work with them, truly.
Tell us a story about a time when you and a mentee used a strategy or tool and it unlocked new possibilities in their work.
Recently, a mentee and I brainstormed a character together as part of our first session. Later, I asked her to put the character in a scene that helped the reader get a sense of how the character lived in a setting that she chose. After writing this scene, I noticed how descriptive she was and the care she took with building that scene. The surprise was that we discovered the character lived with lots and lots of stray cats! This unlocked new possibilities because we had these cats to plot with, and more importantly I think, I learned that for this student, building setting came more easily to her than creating characters. She felt she wanted to work more on fleshing out her world building so that the characters could grow naturally from the setting – just like those stray cats!
Beyond writing books, what is another way you express your creative voice?
Besides writing, I also like to sing really loud in the car and while I’m cooking – just ask my children! In addition, I like to draw and dabble in watercolors.
What are you working on now in your own writing?
I’m working on editing a picture book biography and in the idea stage for a middle grade fantasy novel.
We each have stories to tell.
Plus, our own unique ways of telling them.
That’s why we personalize each mentorship at Society of Young Inklings. Our mentors are professional writers, storytellers, and illustrators who help students understand how they think, learn, and best achieve momentum. Our mentorships are designed for writers ages 8+ who are ready for a challenge.