Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Summer Lineup

With break quickly approaching, I decided to put together a list of all the fun things I want to do with my boys this summer.

Picnic (free, except for food)
Millennium Park fountain
Lincoln Park Zoo (free, except for parking)
Brookfield Zoo (I will only need an adult membership – my kids are under 3, so it’s free for them!)
Monkey Joe’s ($70 for 10 visit pass)
Swim lessons (~$70 at my local park district)
Water balloon fight
Neighborhood pool
Library story time
Schaumburg Farm (free)
Travel the world (learn about different countries online and then cook cuisine from those cultures)
$1.00 kids movies
Local parks (create a “park passport”)
Draw on driveway with chalk
Randall Road Petting Zoo (should only cost ~$10-15 total)
Make race tracks for toy cars out of rain gutters
Put seed in our bird feeder and watch the birds
AMF – free bowling
Alphabet tour (take one picture of something for each letter from the alphabet)
Splash park (shouldn’t be more than $20)
Draw on windows with window markers
Feed the ducks
Hula hoop contest
Local trails
Bass Pro Shop
Create a tin foil river in the back yard
Chuck E Cheese
Mall playgrounds
Find a big open field for Evan to go crazy!
Kiddie pool
Make a playhouse out of a huge cardboard box
Experiment with baking soda and vinegar
Look for shapes in the clouds
Create paper bag puppets

We’re going to be living on one income over the summer; things will be tighter than usual, so I plan to pay for any memberships/lessons in the near future, while we still have two paychecks coming in.

This will be my first summer off since 2005 - I am SOOOO excited! :)

Monday, May 6, 2013


Without divulging too much, I will say that my main character is motherless. How? Why? You'll have to read the book :)

Anyhow, for days I reached inward for a good metaphor for what it's like to grow up without a mother. I finally decided to liken it to a night sky without stars. A feeling of being lost at sea under an endless expanse of black, trying to navigate the waters of life with a broken compass.

I drew a lot of inspiration from the poem "Mother to Son" by Langston Hughes. The poem is about the truth that life contains struggles but that one can choose to keep struggling. One can choose to persevere, which is exactly what my protagonist will do.

What are your favorite metaphors from YA fiction and/or classic literature?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What's Up Wednesday

I am jumping on the What's Up Wednesday bandwagon à la two bloggers I follow, Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. All aboard!

What I’m Reading: I just revisited Freeze Tag by Caroline B. Cooney, one of the YA books that is nearest and dearest to my heart. I remember vividly my first encounter with this book: staying up wayyy past my bedtime, despite my mother’s protestations, wondering if and how the gang would take Lannie down. A lot of readers don’t like the ending, but I love it. The whole freezing aspect of the story is really just a way to represent hatred and malice, how they can take over once they touch you. As the novel progresses, the characters around Lannie start to grow colder, to the point where they aren’t much better than she is. The ending can really only go one of two ways, and I was satisfied (and touched) by the resolution Cooney offers.

What I’m Writing: My first YA novel! I have already written two unpublished rhyming children’s books, but now I’m fulfilling my lifelong dream of writing a chapter book. I have decided to name my main character Arianna Caldwell. And since I couldn’t use Rowan Caldwell, I decided to change his last name to McAllister. I am going to strike the second love interest for now. I have decided on the names and traits of a few supporting characters as well. My characters and plot are all mapped out and ready for action. I hope to have Chapter One finished by Monday. Time to start writing!

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Trying to address my Vitamin D deficiency by tanning. Working out-lots of cardio, a few weights-at the local rec center. Watching playoff hockey (GO HAWKS!).

What Inspires Me Right Now: My co-teachers. They are both avid readers and have been so instrumental in helping me to develop my characters and plot. I think they just as excited about this book as I am!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Say My Name

I have the potential names for the main characters (one female, two male) in my book narrowed down to two short lists. Help me find the winners!

Here they are, in no particular order.....

Josie Sinclair
Bree Sinclair
Rie Sinclair
Mischa Sinclair
Peyton Sinclair
Arianna Sims or Klein or Ross

Rowan Caldwell
Ty MacGregor
Gavin Blackwell
Liam Wroth
Cole/Colton Lattimore
Jax Armstrong

What do you think?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Every New Beginning

.....comes from some other beginning's end {because you know you were thinking it!}.


I have decided to quit my day job (at least for the summer) and pursue my dream of becoming a professional writer. I majored in English in college and have been teaching it to secondary students for nine years. I am knowledgeable of and passionate about the subject - and about my target audience. Becoming a published author has been on my to-do list since I was a child myself, but the time has never seemed right.

Until now.

I have worked through the summer for the past seven years. I am super excited about having this summer to spend with my baby boys and my manuscript.

My goal is to finish my first novel and have it query-ready by September. I want to have something to offer when I attend the Chicago Writers Conference in late September.

This is really it. Everything is in place. Now I just have to bring my story (and lifelong dream) to life.