Hello and welcome to my website. I am a published author and a writing teacher. I write short stories, poetry, picture books, nonfiction, and novels for children and teens, and I also do freelance article writing. I completed my MFA in Writing from Vermont College in 2000. My articles and essays for adults have been published in books, newspapers, and magazines. My first children's novel, Rosa, Sola, was published by Candlewick Press. See the left sidebar for more info about my publications. If you'd like to learn more about me, be sure to scroll down and read the "About Me" section.
I have taught writing classes at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois since April 1998. I also teach writing classes for both adults and children at the Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook, Illinois. I'll soon be teaching at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove, Illinois, too. For information about my classes, see the Writing Classes page. I also enjoy visiting schools and libraries to talk about the writing process. If you're interested in having me to speak at your school or library see the Author Visits page.
I now blog regularly as one of six Teaching Authors. Click the link below to visit our site, which includes writing exercises (called "Writing Workouts"), teaching tips, author interviews, book reviews, and answers to readers' "Ask the Teaching Authors" questions.
Like my character, Rosa Bernardi, I am the daughter of Italian immigrants, and I was born and raised in Chicago. Unlike Rosa, though, I am not an only child. Here's a picture of me with my younger brother and sister:
As a child, I loved to read so much that my mother often scolded me, saying, “You spend too much time with your nose in a book.” Because my family owned few books, I made regular bus trips to the library to stock up on reading material. When I was ten, my father purchased a brand new twenty-volume World Book Encyclopedia. The encyclopedia became one of my most valued possessions. I still use it to help me remember what the world was like when I was ten years old.
In junior high school, I began keeping a journal and writing poetry. The first piece of writing I ever had published was a poem called “My Sanctuary.” It appeared in a book of creative writing by Chicago public school students. I also had an essay published in the local newspaper and one of my poems appeared in my high school yearbook. Here's a picture of me on my high school graduation day, with my brother and sister again.
As an Adult
I put aside my writing dreams to major in Mathematics and Computer Science in college. After graduation, I took a position as a computer programmer, married, and moved to a Chicago suburb. I worked with computers for five years before becoming a training course developer. Writing training materials soon rekindled my interest in writing. After my son was born, I quit my training job and became a freelance writer.
I worked as a freelancer for the New Catholic Explorer for five years, writing feature articles and a bi-weekly interview column. Some of my articles and essays also appeared in the Chicago Tribune and several national magazines, including Writer’s Digest and Catholic Parent. Eventually, after being inspired by the books I read to my son every day, I decided to become a children’s writer. I went back to school and completed an MFA in Writing at Vermont College. That's where I first started writing Rosa, Sola. Even though parts of the novel are based on things that happened to me as a child, it's really Rosa's story, not mine.
Nowadays, I love to teach almost as much as I love to write. I have taught writing classes for adults at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois since April, 1998. I also teach children's writing classes at the Hinsdale Center for the Arts. I am available to present writing workshops for both adults and children. To learn more, see the Author Visits page.
Five Things Most People Don't Know About Me: