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Monthly Archives: November 2017


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!https://www.scbwi.org/



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.