Three Fun Things: Book Launch, Workshop & Pizza

  1. Book Launch: This past Sunday, Off-Campus Writers’ Workshop celebrated the official book launch of ‘Turning Points,’ our 75th Anniversary Anthology. Over 125 participants gathered on Zoom for curated readings, remarks from our President, and info on Summer programs (we move to monthly workshops and then pick up again in September). I auditioned and was selected to read my short story ‘Outfit of the Day’ along with two of my fellow critique group members: Ronit Bezalel and Joyce Zeis. Because my story takes place in a coffee shop, I switched my Zoom background to embody the spirit (and aroma!) of a café (see photo above. Yes, you can find Zoom backgrounds for just about any occasion).
  2. My weekly writing workshops continue to be sanity-savers and reinforce why I need critiques- because it identifies the weak spots, it bolsters the plot, and it helps the story go from ‘okay’ to ‘hot damn.’ My Monday Writer Workouts are facilitated by Nadine Kenney Johnstone, who’s a force of nature as a writer, writing coach, and podcaster (Heart of the Story). This past week I workshopped with Ria Talken and it was an absolute gift to hear her reactions (a chuckle, a gasp) and to glean her perspective. Ria wrote a beautifully candid blog post about the experience and I implore you to check it out here, and follow her writing. She totally captures the Aha! of branching out beyond ourselves to create stellar writing.
  3. Pizza: Tonight, I’m heading downtown for al fresco drinks and wood-fired pizza. Last December, I took a StoryStudio class (via Zoom) on getting ‘over the hump’ with novel writing. The class concluded after 6 weeks, and I really felt the letdown- things were just starting to get in a groove! Some of us decided to try to keep the momentum going, so we continued to meet on Zoom every Thursday night: 1 hour of writing, 30 minutes of workshopping. Nearly seven months later, we are all planning to meet for dinner…which means I will meet them in-person for the first time. We keep joking about who will be surprisingly tall.

Book Release: Turning Points

It’s been a surreal week and I was able to do something I’ve dreamt of for so long: walk into a book store and hold a copy of my book.

In sharing this news, I think it’s important to infuse this caveat: I’ve had many other writing/book projects fail. I had a children’s book and a literary agent that never crossed the publishing finish line. I lost my longstanding newspaper column during the pandemic (and learned of this by reading The Chicago Tribune). I had a book of columns get rebuffed. I’ve had a full novel get a ton of buzz from agents without a single bite. All of that was devastating. But I still kept writing.

We never quite know what makes some projects flourish while others flounder- timing, trend, and a handful of other unique details. But I am immensely proud to have my short story ‘Outfit of the Day’ anthologized in Turning Points, the 75th Anniversary Anthology put out by the Off-Campus Writers’ Workshop. It was a marvel to collaborate with other writers- my first time doing so (also my first foray into fiction).

In being a Winnetka-based writing group, I was so heartened to see the response of readers willing to order this book through our local, indie book shop, The Book Stall. When I received the shop’s weekly newsletter, I was astounded to see Turning Points prominently featured on their Bestseller list. It was truly humbling. It made me especially thankful for all of my failed endeavors- yes, you read that correctly- to be a writer to learn to hold hands with the heavy onslaught of rejection. To grow from it. To fuel for the next opportunity. To push for what seems impossible.

If you are interested in ordering Turning Points, please consider ordering from your local book store. If that is not a possibility, please consider Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or inquiring with your local library.

One last thought to anyone who writes or has an urge to write- just keep going.

At Long Last, Some Book News

It is delightfully surreal to share that I have a book coming out. My short story ‘Outfit of the Day’ will be published in an Anthology titled ‘Turning Points.’

The backstory: I am a member of Off Campus Writers’ Workshop in Winnetka. The group is marking its 75th Anniversary as a longstanding Chicago writing group and as such, is publishing a short story Anthology- a whisk of mystery, fantasy, contemporary, historical, memoir, and the many turning points that move us ahead.

This is my first published work of fiction. It’s a process that began way back in October of 2019- yes, simpler times. What I love about Anthologies is that there is a little something for everyone. In my critique group alone, there were stories of a long-fought war, a high school student attending Turnabout, a neighbor curious about a new baby, and a cherished puffer coat passed down to a friend in need. All of these short stories tugged at me in unique ways. As for my story? It appears under the section titled ‘Unexpected Outcomes.’

You can preorder ‘Turning Points’ at The Book Stall in Winnetka. In belonging to a Winnetka-based writing group, it was important to us that we support our local, independent book store. Thank you for shopping local and for supporting the amazing contributors of OCWW.

Leprechaun Traps and March Tricks

I grossly underestimated the intensity my children have when it comes to trapping a leprechaun. This morning, my daughter ran screaming into my room to tell me that the ‘green stuff’ in our house had been moved, therefore, tiny little leprechauns were out making mischief.

When I asked her to clarify, she pointed at a small green stapler on the countertop and a spice jar of Bay Leaves next to it (basically, the casual, everyday mess that is my kitchen).

“See? Look at this stuff just laying around,” she confirmed. “Hey, did you by any chance hear tiny little voices saying ‘tee hee hee’?”

“No.”

(she was not please by this response).

Yesterday, I took my kids and their active imaginations to the library, where they beelined for Irish-themed books (as well as some historical ones for Wells, who is getting a kick out of history). I agreed to make a lot of green food this month (they requested green beans and mint milkshakes). I also made a tentative plan to try and attempt my family’s famous Irish soda bread recipe. Every cardboard box has been claimed in order to craft the most skilled and accurate leprechaun trap.

We are full tilt for mischief. Here’s hoping you are too.

Yoga: Going Further

There is a saying in yoga that you can always go further. Master a pose? Now try it while shifting the gaze or taking a bind (think arm wrap or twist). There is always a way to challenge yourself and go deeper into the practice. To be a student of yoga is to be committed to continued learning.

It surprises people when I share that sometimes the hardest part of a pose is the breath, the direction of my eyes, or the ability to move into balance. This morning’s yoga Zoom focused on Wild Thing, a heart-opening pose. The cue for going further was lifting the foot off the floor. In a photo, this probably doesn’t seem like a monumental change, but it requires way more focus to hold (and some muscle shaking).

A few attempts were made on this pose as I moved through the sequence, but don’t worry, there are some good outtakes in which I fell over. The failure is part of the process, too.

As you move through your day, and the weekend, carry the mantra within and apply it wherever it is needed: go further.

Home Alone: The joke you may have missed

“That’ll be $122.50.”

“Ugh…it’s my brother’s house. He’ll take care of it.”


It’s that time of year when holiday movies are on heavy rotation, and up there with the absolute best of them is Home Alone (save me a slice plain cheese).

Last night I watched the Christmas classic and was reminded of a line of dialogue that nearly slips by undetected. Now, I had viewed this flick hundreds of times since childhood. I have the score on my playlist, the locations imprinted in my brain, the witty one-liners memorized. So this quiet little line took me by surprise. Also? It’s pretty damn funny.

The scene: a busy kitchen. Family eating. Pizza guy waiting on payment. Someone pipes up for Uncle Frank to contribute.

“Travelers checks!” he protests, mouth full of pizza.

THAT’S WHEN IT HAPPENS.

Mr. McAllister, under his breath, mutters, “Something tells me you’ll have the kind of Travelers Checks that don’t work in France.”

Too good, friends. Too good.

Oh October

Photo by Elias Tigiser on Pexels.com

Flashes of orange, of gold
A dancing candle’s glow
Sliding arms through coats
Gusts, encircling
When it did gray replace blue?

Closing windows, opening cabinets
So much candy
So much candy
Everything is layered
Everything inside, everything outside

October
How did that happen
So abrupt
With such grace
A fluttering finger, touching the wind

(and still, so much candy)

I’m relieved. I’m unsettled.



Into the Motherhood

Hello friends. Hello mamas. Hello to anyone who’s been that beautiful, guiding force of maternal care. Today is a day for recognizing all the amazing facets you are. Motherhood is a big, gorgeous mosaic. It’s a stunning image concocted from tiny, fragmented moments: middle-of-the-night feedings, tantrums, milestones, growing pains, birthday candles, soccer goals, wiping tears, couch snuggles, catching vomit in your hands, clapping at the spring concert, playing one last round of checkers, and more. It’s beautiful. It’s scary. It’s so many things. But today, motherhood is unity. It’s all of us together, figuring this out, taking in the mosaic. No matter where we see ourselves in the art form, we are most certainly there. Happy Mother’s Day. 

The New Normal: #MaskingForAFriend

new normal.jpg

Wow, masks are uncomfortable. The first time I put one on, I had to resist the urge to rip it off my face. It was stifling, itchy, and awkward. Is it possible for a nose to sweat?! All of this and yet I only wore it for a brief few minutes, to pick up a curbside, no-touch dinner at Guildhall, one of our fave local restaurants.

It was a lesson in humility. People wear these all day at their jobs? For HOURS?! They do this daily?! I was, and am, in awe.
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City Girl Confessions: The Last Column

IMG_9086.JPGNote: 22nd Century Media ceased publication as of April 2020. At the time, my column was submitted but never made it to publication. I share it with you today as the last in my City Girl Confessions series. 

I’ve had the honor of being your local columnist for six years. Every day, I’ve woken up feeling extraordinarily blessed to live here and write about living here. I love the picturesque lakefront, our local shops, and the people- the people make this town extraordinary. I don’t take any of this for granted.
Continue reading “City Girl Confessions: The Last Column”