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February 2018
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"If you never did, you should. These things are fun and fun is good!" -- Dr. Suess
“Once there was a tree, and she loved a little boy.” ― Shel Silverstein
"Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder." --E.B. White
"Suffering passes, while love is eternal. That's a gift you have received from God. Don't waste it." --Laura Ingalls Wilder
"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."--Annie Dillard

Happy Holidays!


Wishing you happy holidays.


Improve Your Writing

Want to take a serious step to improve your writing? Check out The Institute For Writers:

I am currently enrolled, and I am almost done with my 9th assignment. There are 10 in all, and it takes about a year to complete. The course covers everything from writing for magazines, mechanics, submission basics, and much more.  This month I am working on nonfiction articles for kid’s magazine markets.  I love my instructor Sheila Wood Foard.

I’m so glad I took the leap to improve my writing. You have to provide a writing sample before you can enroll. You can learn more by clicking the link.  ICL-logo2

I also wanted to share with you another online group that I am a member of:


This group is for picture book writers. It is a supportive environment, and you can share your writing and get critiqued. Plus, they have online workshops that you can attend every month and replays.

Julie Hedlund is the founder and fearless leader. Through this organization, I also became aware of Picture Book Summit:

Every year in October, seasoned authors and illustrators give workshops. It’s all online, and you can partake in the awesome event in your pajamas.

This year’s superstar speakers were: Tomie dePaola, Carol Boston Weatherford, and Adam Rex.

Happy writing!


Prairie Writer’s and Illustrator’s Day

This weekend I attended Prairie Writer’s and Illustrator’s Day.  This was my third year in attendance. Every year I glean new and interesting tips for writing and meet  fascinating agents, publishers, writers, and editors.

1104171218Here is a picture of Susan Hawk, Sarah Aronson, and Alex Arnold in the amphitheater. They answered questions on how to hear when opportunity knocks.

Susan Hawk of Upstart Crow Literary said, “Focus in on small moments, where something particular is happening. The reader can feel it.”

Yes. Isn’t that what all of life is about? Not just in our writing, but in our day to day lives.

Our lives are made of the moments of each precious day.

A fabulous moment for me was winning these books below! It was especially wonderful because they were from Caitlyn M. Dlouhy from Simon & Schuster/ Atheneum.

In her workshop, Caitlyn spoke about the voice of authors she works with, giving examples of a diverse array. 1104171712

I was so intrigued with Caitlyn’s passion and enthusiasm that I could not wait to talk with her after the workshop.

Caitlyn said, “A good voice demands you participate. It makes a kid feel at home living inside your story.”

The next SCBWI event in our area will be Spring Thaw in April. Mark you calendars because it sells out faster than a rabbit running from a hound dog!



Teaching To Learning Styles

Teaching Like A Pirate:
Some of you know I teach throughout schools in Dupage County. This helps me stay connected to students, so I can hear their voices when I am writing. Plus it’s fun.

In October, I worked mostly in 5th grade.

During that time, I was invited to attend a workshop on Dave Burgess’ book, Teach Like A Pirate. This book focuses on ways we can increase student engagement and boost creativity.51Z+rNAKzOL._AC_US218_[1]

When I am teaching, I try to find ways to engage all learners. We learn new concepts in different ways—depending on our learning styles. And anyway, there is a better chance of a student soaking up something new when her senses are engaged and when she is having fun.

340391762[1]For example, this week when introducing a new unit of spelling words, I had the children use Play-Doh to spell the words on their desk. They were thrilled.


This activity went so well that I later used Play Doh to teach about adding details to our writing. The students realized that the more detailed their Play-Doh works of art, the more real they became. It is the same for our writing, I explained.

Details are paramount. They help us experience the moment as our character experiences it. What he smells, touches, tastes, hears, and feels all count. They are things we feel just as our characters do. They make our stories come to life.


The 2017 Chicago Writing Workshop


This weekend I attended the Writing Workshop of Chicago at the Congress Hotel.0624171250a-2-e1498581241946.jpg


Hearing Chuck Sambuchino speak was a highlight.  He spoke about the new world of publishing, giving the audience a list of 10 things to keep in mind when writing. One thing on the list was to make time for your writing. Chuck said that success was proportional to the hours you put in. We all have things in our lives that need our attention, but to quote Michael Jordan, “If you put in the hours, results will come.”


Another highlight of the workshop was meeting Gemma Cooper from the Bent Agency.

Gemma talked about writing great kidlit novels by keeping your main plot arch in mind when writing:

  • What does your main character want?
  • What is preventing them from achieving this goal?
  • What are the stakes if they don’t achieve them?


Gemma said a good book to pick up is Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.

Speaking of books, I also like to keep novels on the table with me while I write. Next to me this week is Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. If I’m getting lost or discouraged, I open it up and read a few lines. I am transported to the deep woods and the innocence of childhood. Love that magic.


This week marks the beginning of a new training class for our dog, Daisy. Here is a picture of Daisy, our trainer, Sidney, and myself.Daisy

Daisy is taking the beginning class to learn how to be a therapy dog.  How cool would it be to share the love of an animal with others in such a way! She brings our family a new level tenderness and devotion.  I hope she’ll be able to share her love with others to promote healing, and I hope to be able to write about it.

Happy writing!

2017 Chicago Writing Workshop


The 2017 Chicago Writing Workshop will be June 24th. Held at the Congress Plaza Hotel, I have heard good things about it from our SCBWI Geneva organizer, Janet Riehecky.


Pitch it anyway!

This year will be my first year attending. There will be workshops on how to get published, but attendees can also pitch to agents for an
extra $29 (for 10 minutes). I think that’s a good price to pay to get in front of an agent face to face and pitch your manuscript (or multiple manuscripts).There will be agents looking for all kinds of genres.


Here is more information:

About the 2017 Writing Workshop of Chicago


This is a special one-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop on Saturday, June 24, 2017, at the historic Congress Plaza Hotel, just south of the downtown area. In other words, it’s one day full of classes and advice designed to give you the best instruction concerning how to get your writing & books published. We’ll discuss your publishing opportunities today, how to write queries & pitches, how to market yourself and your books, what makes an agent/editor stop reading your manuscript, and more. No matter what you’re writing — fiction or nonfiction — the day’s classes will help point you in the right direction. Writers of all genres are welcome.

This event is designed to squeeze as much into one day of learning as possible. You can ask any questions you like during the classes, and get your specific concerns addressed. We will have literary agents onsite to give feedback and take pitches from writers, as well. By the end of the day, you will have all the tools you need to move forward on your writing journey.

The 2016 Chicago Writing Workshop was a success, and we are excited about the 2017 event. Registration for 2017 is now OPEN.

This independent event is organized by coordinator Jessica Bell of Writing Day Workshops, with assistance from the Mystery Writers of America’s Midwest chapter.

Here is the link:

Happy writing!







Free Seminar on How to Write Children’s Books

Happy New Year!

Greetings writers. Local author Janet Riehecky is going to be speaking at B&N in West Dundee this Saturday. Janet is the co-leader of the Geneva SCBWI writer’s critique group. She has written numerous books and articles. If you have time to stop by this weekend you will learn much about writing for kiddos.  Plus it’s free!

Janet Riehecky: Children’s Author, School Visits, Library Visits

Library Visit Janet Riehecky with dinosaur femur

Here’s The Info:

How to Write Children’s Books Free Seminar

Janet Riehecky

Author Event, Educator Event
Saturday January 07, 2017 1:00 PM Is there a great children’s book inside of you just waiting to be written? Is 2017 the year you finally write that book? Free seminar for anyone who has written or is considering writing children’s books. An overview of the process from first words to art to publisher considerations, followed by Q & A, led by local author Janet Riehecky (Judson University). Educator Giveaways & Prizes.

B&N Store & Event Locator

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