About Me


Kelly O’Connor McNees launched Word Bird in 2008 because she loves helping writers improve their craft and prepare their work for success. With more than fifteen years’ experience across multiple roles in the publishing industry, Kelly’s resume includes in-house editorial positions with Harper Collins Publishers and the University of Michigan Press and work as a contract editor. These skills combined with her master’s degree in English education make Kelly an empathetic guide through the revision process and an incisive editor who identifies problems in manuscripts and knows how to solve them.

She is also an accomplished novelist, author of Undiscovered CountryThe Island of Doves In Need of a Good Wife, and The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott. Kelly ghostwrites for a popular children's series, and her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Toast, The Millions, and Rust Belt Chicago: An Anthology. She lives in Chicago.

Looking for a presenter? 

Kelly presents at writing conferences and teaches workshops on topics such as

  • Fact in Fiction: Using Research to Bring Your Story to Life
  • What Can an Editor Do for Me?
  • How Beginnings and Endings Work Together
  • How to Make Your First Five Pages Sing


Get in touch to find out more.

We've been fortunate enough to have Kelly McNees as a speaker at Off Campus
Writers Workshop in 2017 and 2018. She is an immensely popular speaker with
OCWW, which hosts more than 30 speakers a year. As a speaker, Kelly brings
uncommon expertise in the disciplines of fiction writing, as well as an engaging style
and a fun, articulate delivery. She prepares for each lecture with great thoroughness
and has the grace to break from the prepared lecture to take questions as they arise.
Kelly draws from a complete cross section of our members—from aspiring authors to
veterans, all genres, and all ages. She has our very highest recommendation!
— Renee James and Susan Levi, Program Co-Directors, OCWW