July 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

Brain Development

Hi Everyone,

We had to watch and discuss three fascinating PBS videos about brain development for my Intervention and Remediation of Reading class at Lewis University. I wanted to post them. The first 2 deal with development in the younger child while the third examines schizophrenia and drug use in the teenage brain. I have personal experience with friends and family who suffer from mental illness, and the videos helped me understand exactly what happens to the brain when disorder occurs (and how to watch for it).


My oldest son, Rudy, is starting middle school in September. Learning about what changes his brain is about to embark on is good to know. He even watched the videos. Development of the prefrontal cortex really takes off in the second decade of life. This part of the brain is responsible for making future plans, reasoning, personal responsibility, and self-control (among other things).


I also wanted him to know what happens to the brain when someone is addicted to drugs like cocaine. The artificial high mimics dopamine—a neurotransmitter in our brains that regulates pleasure—and the body stops making dopamine in response to this wave of artificial high. That’s where the addiction comes in. You have to keep taking the drug just to maintain a normal feel-good feeling.

Below are the links.


Episode 1 The Baby’s Brain: Wider than the Sky   https://youtu.be/U0L0mYi_ftc

Episode 2 The Child’s Brain: Syllable from Sound https://youtu.be/DK4NhmY5bK0

Episode 3 The Teenage Brain: A World of Their Own  https://youtu.be/FGaz_fHLHNU



One True Thing

What a great intensive I had with Carolyn Crimi. It was the highlight of my day at SCBWI’s Spring Thaw.

Carolyn Crimi


But I also loved meeting writers and friends like: Erin Zimmer erinzimmerbooks.com, Chuck Mallory, and Anitra Rowe Schulte anitraroweschulte.com. I always do. We are all on this writer’s journey together, and sharing with others who are kind and passionate is the best.


People who are positive and kind are people I want to be around. It was an added bonus meeting Carolyn because she is so stinking funny, too. No wonder kids love her books.


Some things I walked away with from Carolyn’s picture book intensive: irresistible weirdness in a manuscript is good, details must be essential to the story, and keep the stakes high. I also liked the advice on making a list of things you loved as a child and putting them in your book.


Next, I’m gearing up for the Chicago Writer’s Workshop on June 23rd.

Here’s the link for that and some information below: https://chicagowritingworkshop.com/

I learned a ton last year, and you can pitch to agents. There are still spots open (as of 4/23/18).

The 2018 Writing Workshop of Chicago: June 23, 2018

Screen Shot 2016-12-25 at 10.34.26 PM.pngAfter successful 2015, 2016, and 2017 events in Chicago, Writing Day Workshops is excited to announce The 2018 Writing Workshop of Chicago— a full-day “How to Get Published” writing event in Chicago, IL on June 23, 2018.

This writing event is a wonderful opportunity to get intense instruction over the course of one day, pitch a literary agent or editor (optional), get your questions answered, and more. Note that there are limited seats at the event (250 total). All questions about the event regarding schedule, details and registration are answered below. Thank you for your interest in the 2018 Writing Workshop of Chicago!


This is a special one-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop on Saturday, June 23, 2018, 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. This year’s agent faculty so far includes:

  • [NEW ADDITION] literary agent Cyle Young (Hartline Literary)
  • [NEW ADDITION] literary agent Mary Cummings (Betsy Amster Literary)
  • literary agent Cynthia Ruchti (Books and Such)
  • literary agent Michelle Grajkowski (3 Seas Literary)
  • editor Anna Michels (Sourcebooks)
  • literary agent Moe Ferrara (BookEnds Literary)
  • literary agent Kelly Van Sant (D4EO Literary)
  • literary agent Tracy Brennan (Trace Literary Agency)
  • literary agent Gemma Cooper (The Bent Agency)
  • literary agent Dawn Frederick (Red Sofa Literary)
  • editor Grace Menary-Winefield (Sourcebooks and Sourcebooks Landmark)
  • literary agent Alexandra Weiss (Jennifer De Chiara Literary)
  • literary agent Marcy Posner (Folio Literary)
  • editor Emily Clark Victorson (Allium Press)
  • literary agent Tina P. Schwartz (The Purcell Agency)
  • agent assistant Lesley Sabga (The Seymour Agency)
  • literary agent Kortney Price (Corvisiero Agency)
  • and more to come

By the end of the day, you will have all the tools you need to move forward on your writing journey. This independent event is organized by coordinator Jessica Bell of Writing Day Workshops, with assistance from regional Chicago writing groups.


9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday, June 23, 2018 — the historic Congress Plaza Hotel, 520 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605, just south of the downtown area. (312)427-3800.

Spring Thaw Conference this weekend


SCBWI-IL 2018 Spring Thaw–Pitch Perfect 2

Date(s) – 04/21/2018
8:30 am – 4:30 pm

Barbara Belding Lodge at Brewster Creek Forest Preserve
6N921 IL Rte. 25 – St. Charles, IL 60174
The Barbara Belding Lodge has free parking for all attendees.
Have you been writing and illustrating diligently the past several years? Submitting to publishing houses? Going to conferences? Do you feel like you’re on the cusp of publication? If so here’s another chance to multiply your opportunities!


Comprehensive Strategy Booklist

Use this list of books provided by Brooke Simon at Lewis University to teach visualizing, determining importance, inferring, synthesizing, making connections and asking questions.

comprehension strategy booklist

Websites to facilitate learning

Hey everyone,

Use this instructional content platform with your kids to research topics and learn about world affairs. It will even read the content to your students.

You can level it for your kids depending on reading level.



Here’s another site to use to make boards, documents and webpages with students. It’s easy and free.



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!


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