Sunday, October 16, 2011

Be Your Best Self: Beryn Wins Game Ball

I'm an avid baseball fan. In fact, I'd go so far as to call myself a "baseball geek." I'm a big Red Sox fan and I usually watch a couple innings a night. I start everyday, reading baseball websites, learning baseball news because I'm also a fan of the game. Sometimes I'll sit down and watch a game because I want to see Tim Lincecum of the Giants pitch, or Jason Verlander of the Tigers. I also love good hitting. So I'll watch Albert Pujols play for the Cardinals or I'll watch a whole Red Sox game because I love the line up of Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Big Papi, Kevin Youkilis, and well the rest of them, they're all fun to watch. I thought I'd be following them into the offseason, through play-offs and into the World Series. So you could say they broke my heart with their September meltdown resulting in them never even making it into the play-offs.

This is where I was when I went to New Jersey to visit relatives and to see my niece, Beryn Wienstock, play softball on October 1st. I was glad to see all the relatives, but I tell you, my heart was sad that the postseason was going on and there was no chance to wear my Red Sox jersey and to sit in front of the TV and cheer for my beloved team.

And then I saw my neice Beryn play her softball double-header. She's awesome! That day she had 3 RBI's, 2 doubles, 2 singles and a great catch she made in left-center field! I don't even know if her team won the games, and I don't care because watching her and her team, with their energy, attitude and smartness, well it lifted my spirits. After her 2nd double, I said out loud, "there's your MVP!" Afterward, she came out of the dugout carrying the game ball. Her coach had awarded it to her for her amazing performance that day. I was and am still very proud of her.

Thank you Beryn for reminding me that it isn't really about winning or losing or going to the's really about how you play the game. Giving it your all. Trying your best. Being your best self.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Book Sale/Signing

I'm happy to say I'm participating in the

Aurora Public Library Local Author Fair
Saturday, September 10, 2011
1-4 p.m.

Eola Community Center
555 S. Eola Rd.
Aurora, IL 60504

Book Sale sponsored by Barnes and Noble

I'd love to sign a copy of SHATTERED for you!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Living in a Baseball Park

It's getting near the end of summer. I love this time of year, because the race is on, to see which baseball team can get into the post season. This is when I start checking the standings every day, to see who's inching their way closer and closer to the World Series.

Since 2006, my family and I have been been visiting ballparks. This past July, we visited the new Target Field in Minneapolis. Wow! It's so beautiful! Prior to this, I'd been to Petco Field, Dodger Stadium, visited the Oakland A's, the Giants and the Mariners on the west coast. On the East Coast, I've been to Fenway Park, and the old Shea Stadium. I'm from Chicago, so of course I've been to US Cellular Field and Wrigley. And I love to day-trip to Miller Park in Milwaukee, so we've been there, too. I've also been to see the Tampa Bay Rays play and the Toronto Blue Jays.

I would have to say my all-time favorite place is Fenway in Boston. It's old and new all in one. I love that it's preserved and well taken care of and it just feels historic and beautiful to be there. Target Field is my 2nd favorite. It was friendly and just really nice. Plus they have this big gold glove (check out the picture above). I love Miller Park because they have a dome. You never have to worry about the rain when you go there.

I love ballpark food. US Cellular has the best hot dogs! In Seattle, you can get chocolate covered strawberries on a stick and in San Francisco, they have garlic fries. Milwaukee has great cheeseburgers.

In Toronto, we stayed at the hotel that is attached to the stadium. You just head out the lobby, around the corner and down the stairs and you're there. A baseball fan's dream.

This time of year, I have a hard time concentrating on anything other than baseball. I'd like to ditch work and my chores and go sit in a ballpark every night. In fact, I'd love to move into a skybox at Fenway, turn it into my apartment and be available for the rest of the season!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

On Terry McMillan's book, "Getting to Happy"

Saturday, early, I grabbed a book, thinking I'll read a chapter and then figure out what to do next with my day. It's 8 hours later. I've indulged in reading all day long. Like I used to do in the summers. When I was a kid. Such a simple pleasure! I first got into Terry McMillan when "Waiting to Exhale" came out, years ago. I loved these 4 friends, Robin, Savannah, Gloria & Bernie when they were younger. Now, they're in their 50's. Like me. They're all dealing with tough stuff and I feel rejuvenated, having spent the day with them, watching them all transform.

McMillan asks a brave question in this book: "What is happy?" Each character defines it for herself and then works to get there. I found myself asking: what does my happy look like?

Last month, the owner of WestSide Books, the home of my novel, Shattered, put the company up for sale. Every day since, I've moved through a different kind of emotion or thought about it. I don't know what it means for the future of all of us authors at WestSide. I just know I feel a lot of anxiety because it's all so uncertain. I hope another publisher will buy us, hire Evelyn Fazio--who was the heart and soul of WestSide(she's in the picture with me above)--and move us all forward, continuing to publish realistic fiction for young adults. What is certain is I don't have control over any of it.

But what I do have control over is my writing life. For me, "getting to happy" is about continuing on with the life I had before WestSide. A lifestyle I created while being a grad student at Vermont College. Spending time reading young adult literature, to learn how to write for teens, journaling to be true, and writing and re-writing to get it right.

I'm also back to wanting to get published. I'm working at putting my best work on the page, even if it takes hours to write one sentence. Even if it takes 5 drafts to get the story out. Moment to moment, word by word, I'm living the me I was meant to be: a writer. Yes, publication brings its own kind of special joy. But honestly, what makes me ecstatic is creating.
I don't know if I'll ever make it to another publication. But I'm pretty sure, if I keep on writing, I'll make it to happy.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Challenge for Writers

Here's a question for you: What makes a good writer?

Each writer has to discover this for herself, which is half the fun of doing it. I think that what makes a good writer is taking the time to truly live your life. By being present. By experiencing whatever it is that you're doing, wherever you are, and paying attention to the five senses.

Think about it--

By seeing, really seeing the orangy-red in that hibiscus blooming on the tree on the way to the beach, and

by hearing the actual chords to that song on your I-pod, and

by feeling that cool breeze on your arm when you left the house and forgot your jacket after lunch and

by tasting your favorite ice cream, really tasting the crunching of the mega chocolate chips mixed in with the smooth, chilly chocolate, and finally,

by smelling the salt in the air

--you've got the stuff that makes up a good sentence about a story set at the beach!

The senses focus a writer to get detailed and poetic and interesting. It's what brings a character, a setting, a point of view to life for the reader.

I challenge you, go ahead, live your life. To the fullest. And become your best writer self that you can be!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Where You'll Find Me

April 16, 2011

I'm keynoting,

teaching 2 writing workshops

and signing copies of SHATTERED


River Forest School District 90

Young Authors Conference

Roosevelt Middle School

7560 Oak Avenue


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Children's Literature Conference

I'm looking forward to particpating in the

31st Annual Children's Literature Conference


Northern Illinois University

March 11, 2011

1:00 - 1:50

Local Author Booktalk Session: Young Adult

Featuring six Illinois young adult authors booktalking our newest books:

Barbara Binns, James Kennedy, James Klise, Adam Selzer,

Claire Zulkey & yours truly, Kathi Baron


Local Author/Illustrator Autographing Reception

I'll be signing copies of Shattered