Jun 012012
 

Chicago summers are fabulous and this year’s Kite Festival at Montrose Harbor added to the fabulousness. It was that fun. Check out my video below.

Being at the Kite Fest reminded me of how much I missed being a kid and just having fun for the sake of having fun. It reminded me of late night soft serve from the ice cream truck, biking around the neighborhood, and playing those games like “It” and “Red light, green light,” and those awesome “hand games.” Remember those? Being a kid was fun.

Here are some of the songs we used to sing that accompanied those “hand games” I was talking about.

Uno Dos Siesta
To the East, the West
I met my boyfriend at the candy store.
He bought me ice cream, he bought me cake.
He took me home with a belly ache.
Mama, mama, I’m so sick. Call the doctor, quick, quick, quick.
Doctor, doctor, will I die? Count to five and you’ll be alive.
One, two, three, four, five.
I’m alive on channel five.

Mrs. Marry Mack, Mack, Mack
All dressed in black, black, black
With silver buttons, buttons, buttons all down her back, back, back
She asked her mother, mother, mother
For 15 cents, cents, cents
To see the elephants, elephants, elephants
She jumped the fence, fence, fence
She jumped so high, high, high
She touched the sky, sky, sky
And she never came back, back, back
Till the 4th of july, lie, lie

Here’s how we picked “It.” We made everybody put in a single foot and used our pointer finger to go around in a circle and for each word of the song or rhyme, we moved our finger one shoe over until one person was singled out. (Yes, these rules were very intricate.) Here is some of what we said:

My mother punched your mother in the nose, what color was the blood?
“Blue.”
B-L-U-E
And you are out of this entirely game
Not because you’re ugly, not because you’re clean
Just because you kissed a dirty man behind a dirty magazine

Then there would be three of us left and we’d say something like:

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, Catch a tiger by the toe. If he hollers, let him go, Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.

Whomever was in the last “moe” position was out. Then there’d be two people left so we’d say something like this:

Bubble gum, bubble gum in a dish, how many pieces do you wish?
“five.”
One, two, three, four, five
and the whole, and you are out of this entirely game rhyme would start.
And whoever was left was “It.”

Do you remember any of these? Do you know a different version? Did you sing completely different songs? If so, what were they? What awesome memories do you have from childhood?

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 Posted by at 7:18 pm
Feb 132012
 

One of the best things about living in Chicago or any big city is having access to a plethora of restaurants, live theater shows, concerts, literary readings, sporting events, art installations, transportation, cultural events, and shopping among other things.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen some pretty fascinating stuff that has blown my mind. I’d like to share two of those things with you.

At the Bulls vs. Nets game, I got to see one of the funniest shorts put on by Big Ben and Benji the bull. Check them out below:

To learn more about Benny, Big Ben, Benji and the entire Bulls family, check out this site: iwantbenny.com.

Another cool thing I got to see was this incredible light sculpture at the Chicago Auto Show. I’ve never seen anything like it and I had to get it on video. Turns out, it was created by Chuck Hoberman, of the Chuck Hoberman Sphere. Check out what it does and be amazed:

Well folks, there you have it.

If I find any other cool things around Chi-town, (and I’m sure I will) I’ll be sure to post a video.

Stay tuned for more awesomeness and in the meantime, peace and happiness.

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Sep 132011
 

I got tagged by Allie Wilde to provide ten random facts about myself. Thank you Allie! So without further ado, here they are:

1. I am Polish and Puerto Rican, but I don’t speak Polish or Spanish fluently.

2. My first real rock show (without my parents) was as @ The Metro in Chicago when I was fifteen. I saw Face to Face and I’ve been addicted to music and shows ever since.

 

3. I lived in Krakow, Poland for a small period of time in my twenties. I miss hot wine in barrels and random conversations around the square.

4. I got married at The Society for Arts, a Polish gallery on Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago to one of the coolest, most interesting people I have ever met.

5. I believe that Puerto Rico is paradise on earth.

6. I want to live out the rest of my days with my husband and son in Barcelona, Spain.

 

7. I sometimes have violent, end of the world dreams. When I wake up, I have to look out the window just to make sure everything is as it was the day before.

8. I am a serious coffee person. I like to drink it hot or cold at all hours of the day.

9. I haven’t eaten a hamburger in over fourteen years.


10. I can’t write unless my house is in order. It’s a focus thing.

That’s me in a nutshell. Thanks for reading. 🙂

I want to thank Allie for tagging me, and now I’m going tag a few fellow writers of my own.

Tag, it’s your turn to give some random facts about yourself: Kathleen Isaac aka Grillyfish, Beth KempKatharina Gerlachand T.B.McKenzie.

*Please note that with the exception of the Barcelona pic which I took, none of the other images belong to me. I have linked the images back to their original owners.

Have a great day everybody. 🙂

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 Posted by at 12:50 pm
Aug 162011
 

I’ve been enjoying this Chicago summer with my two favorite buddies and it’s been great. There’s something about sitting outside and sucking down a gluten free beer that’s just absolutely delicious.

I also love checking out new and old Chicago festivals. They remind me of why I love this city so darn much! This year I went to Burger Fest (the new) and ate several veggie sliders. Tasty! I also visited the Puerto Rican Carnival, the Printer’s Row Book Fair and the ever-so-popular, Taste of Chicago (the old) and they did not disappoint.

Another festival I couldn’t miss even if I tried was the Wicker Park Fest as it was right outside of my window. It was certainly a good time.

If you get a chance to visit Chicago in the summertime – DO IT! There’s always something to do, see or try.

Check out what I’ve been doing this summer:

 

Just so you know (as if you couldn’t guess) this song does not belong to me. It belongs to the fabulous Lily Allen and it’s called, “Take What You Take.” Isn’t it lovely?

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Apr 182011
 

The last Crusader challenge has fallen upon us and here it is:

Show Not Tell Crusader Challenge: In 300 words or less, write a passage (it can be an excerpt from your WIP, flash fiction, a poem, or any other writing) that shows (rather than tells) the following:

  • you’re scared and hungry
  • it’s dusk
  • you think someone is following you
  • and just for fun, see if you can involve all five senses AND include these random words: shimmer, saccadic, substance, and salt.

Here is my entry:

Her eyes grew wide, her face hot, her heart pounding. A growl roared from her stomach. Shut up, shut up. She darted forward and stepped ever so carefully on the cracked floor. Reaching an icy brick wall, she placed her cheek next to it letting the cold sink in before licking. She cringed at the saltiness and wiped the disgusting taste from her tongue.

A boom shook the place; the vibrations ran through her body like a subwoofer. Did somebody push over a dumpster? She spun around, her foot caught. She pulled on her ankle. Rubber soles slapped the floor. She yanked it out and ran.

“Who’s there?” she screeched.

The hairs on her forearms stood up as the edge of the doorway made its way under her fingertips. She reached down. A cold, metal knob saluted her. She twisted. The door flew open. Darkness dripped from the hallway. She sprinted down the corridor; her hands shaking, her eyes saccadic. She grabbed her chest and felt around the pockets of her pants. Her inhaler was gone. There was a wheeze, a misstep, a fall. Get up dammit!

A light shimmered in the shadows. She used her last bit of energy to pounce like a panther and push.

It was dusk, but the streetlamps illuminated the downtown sky. A congested sidewalk filled with laughing tourists passed. Wiping the sweat from her forehead, she rushed across the street, bumping into people along the way.

“Watch where you’re going moron.”

A smile crawled on her face. She was alive and still in Chicago. She took a deep breath. It smelled like rain on top of hot concrete.

It was the substance crazy dreams were made of.

***

The end for now.  To learn more about the Crusade, please visit: Rach Writes.

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Jan 172011
 

It’s a new year and new years remind me of clean slates, which I love. I like being able to wipe away the past to start anew. This is why I am so excited about 2011.

I have many goals including meeting more writers, going to more Chicago literary events, attending writing conferences, finding a mentor, joining a few writing societies and associations, and publishing my collaborative children’s book. I also intend on finishing my middle grade novel. I have already put many of these goals in motion and I will do my dandiest to get it all done.

I want to do more of what is working and rid the stuff that isn’t from my life. One of the most toxic things I’ve held onto are negative thoughts. Two of my resolutions are to practice positive thinking and taking the initiative.

That said, a few awesome things happened to my career this past year. I attribute some of my success to electronic devices, writing accessories, and web sites. I decided to carry these tools into the New Year.

We all know that ideas are fleeting. They’re gone in a matter of seconds. This is why it’s important to pay attention and write them down. For me, a few notebooks and a good solid pen will always do me good. If you are a creative or obsessed with lists, then they are important to you too. Looking for a good notepad? Try any of these Rhodia products.

I am also bringing The Complete Writer’s Market Collection and Writer’s Digest Magazine into 2011. The Complete WM Collection is a C.D. consisting of Writer’s Market, Novel and Short Story WM, Guide to Literary Agents, Poet’s Market, and Children’s Writer’s, and Illustrator’s Market. Each of these guides will cost you anywhere from thirty to sixty dollars each. A single disk containing all of those books costs $100 bucks. I bought last year’s disk, which was on sale for fifteen bucks. Score! It lists almost every publisher, magazine, publication, lit agent, and children’s publisher on the market. There are small descriptions under each listing showing what the contact person, publisher, magazine, lit agent, and children’s publisher is looking for from writers and how much it pays among other things. It’s well worth buying. If you’re not interested in the listings, then get it for the author interviews and writer’s advice. It is more than worth it.

I also love Writer’s Digest Magazine. It is one of those magazines loaded with info. Trust me when I say, you will want to read everything in it. WD magazine goes through several techniques to help writers write better manuscripts and book proposals tailored to each writing genre. I find WD to be an incredible resource. Once a year, they publish a 101 best web sites list for writers. Trust me when I say, you do not want to miss this issue. I find Writer’s Market products to be the most helpful and thorough guides on the market to date.

Last year, I purchased an add-in program for Microsoft Word called My Writer’s Tools. It helps to rid each page of unnecessary adverbs and clichés and it formats each work with the click of a button. It is great.

I also purchased My Word Count, which helps you to strengthen your work by finding repetitious words. I use this program often and recommend it to those that need an extra pair of eyes. There are other comparable programs on the market, but you will be paying double or triple the cost. My Writer’s Tools + Word Count works for me, but I say look around to find the one that suits you best.

Over this last year, I found my digital recorder, Flip, and digital camera to be especially helpful. Each one of these tools has pushed me to learn a bit more about myself by helping me find my voice. My digital recorder in particular has helped me to become a better interviewer and listener. Listening to how you ask questions and respond is a lesson in itself. Nobody wants to sound like a tool. My digital camera and Flip also capture what I think is beautiful or interesting. As a whole, they have been great accessories to my articles and stories.

It is difficult to keep hundreds of web sites and submissions in order, but with these sites I find it rather easy. Writersmarket.com, duotrope.com, and delicious.com have all helped to organize my submissions. Writersmarket.com is accessible for a fee, but they offer a ridiculous amount of information about lit agents, publishing houses, magazines and journals in addition to industry information as well as a submission tracker. Duotrope.com is a free web site geared towards fiction and poetry pubs. They also have a free submission tracker. It is great and not to be passed up. Delicious.com is unlike the previous web sites, but it is invaluable. It helps you organize all of your bookmarks by tags. You have the ability to save an unlimited amount of bookmarks to your account. This way, when you are looking for a particular web site, you just look under your tags to find it. Delicious.com is an online hoarder’s savior.

These are just some of the tools I am bringing with me into the New Year. What are some of the tools you can’t live without in your writing or creative career?

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 Posted by at 6:51 pm
Sep 102010
 

Another door will open. Believe that.

There is nothing better than getting the go ahead on a piece you’ve queried out to several publications. It feels like you’re doing something right, that somebody, the universe even, is giving you the go ahead to pursue your writing career. In other words, it feels great.

Most recently, I submitted a query about Chicago Avenue between Damen and Ashland Avenue in Chicago and it got picked up by a well-read Chicago online Chicago magazine called Gapers Block. I was excited to write about a place that I both love and admire.

When I submitted the piece, I was afraid they weren’t going to like it. There were butterflies in my stomach and my hands were sweaty. But this is how I get whenever I submit something to an editor so I just sent it out. A few hours later, my editor contacted me and told me that she liked it. Joy! Two weeks later, it was in the Arts and Culture section. Score!

It was also posted on Windy Citizen, a Chicago-centric site that I am falling in love with. It is dedicated to all things Chicago – news, blogs and entertainment. I received positive feedback about the piece and it was even posted on the Huffington Post Chicago. It’s crazy how the small pieces you write end up on other web sites. This leads me to believe that people still read.

I needed that boost. I felt like GB gave me the opportunity I was looking for – a platform. I was grateful and I still am. You can read my piece here: A Hood in Limbo.

A few days later, I checked my e-mail and there was a request from a DJ asking if I would be interested in being interviewed for his radio show all about Chicago. I said yes and if you ever get the opportunity to be on a radio show you should say yes too. Why? Why not? Opportunities will always present themselves, but will you be aware enough to notice? Luckily, this time I was. You can check out the radio show here: Outside the Loop Radio.

Keep on truckin’ my writing pals.

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Jul 292010
 

I am a lover of magazines; always have been, since the age of thirteen. I remember it like it was yesterday. Teen Magazine caught my eye at a grocery store. I picked it up, flipped through it and begged my mom to buy it for me. When I got home, I read the entire thing–cover to cover. I was enthralled. I requested that my mom buy me a subscription immediately. She obliged. Hey, what can I say–my mom is great. This marked a real turning point for me, one of no return. No newspapers, no books. Magazines became my thing.

I was a faithful reader of Teen Magazine for five years. That’s like a millennium to a teenager, but I loved it. Over the years, I’ve thought about why I chose that mag and I think I know the answer. First, it was geared towards girls like me, young girls, girls going through things. Real things. I could spend one hour a month reading about other teen’s lives, about ways to change the world for the better and about music. Teen Magazine was like a guide for my teenage life and it was written in an intelligent and respectful way. Unfortunately, after a few years, as with all things, it began to deteriorate. The articles became less informative, the advertisements got larger and I just wasn’t into it anymore. Perhaps it had something to do with my subtle aging, but I digress. It was time to move on. I needed something a little more on my level.

I moved on to the sophisticated YM, Lucky and Cosmo. Hey, don’t mock. I had to try out every magazine on the stands to find the right one. But the truth is, those magazines weren’t me.

Nothing changed me quite so much as my early twenties. I was becoming more aware of who I was without my parents, teachers or friend chiming in. This was when I started to get into zines and literary mags. I even created two of my own.

A few years after that, I went back to consumer pubs. I was reading Martha Stewart, Domino and Real Simple. Domestication reared its ugly head, but I knew deep down it wouldn’t be enough. Those magazines didn’t fill my soul. I needed a magazine with style, pizazz, something with projects, one that was home to a good short story, one that had health and make-up tips, reviewed new books and music and most importantly one that featured great articles about real issues affecting women my age. I was searching for a Teen Magazine for twenty-year-old’s. Now where was I supposed to find a magazine like that?

It took me a while to realize, I was never going to find it because it just didn’t exist. I had to subscribe to many magazines just to get my fill. And now that I’m in my thirties, I find myself still searching for that thirty-something Teen Magazine. Seriously, does the search ever end?

I currently subscribe to six consumer magazines a year. It may seem like a lot, but those magazines are secondary to the amount of books, albums and literary magazines I purchase annually. In addition, I realize many people don’t read magazines and I never understood that. Not because there isn’t plenty to read elsewhere, but because magazines are cultural mirrors. They are about us–right here, right now.

If you’re into magazines as much as I am, come and support the Chicago literary community tonight at the Printers’ Ball.

According to the Poetry Foundations Web Site, “It’s a celebration of literary culture. In addition to featuring thousands of magazines, books, broadsides and other takeaways, the Printers’ Ball will showcase live readings, music and performances. They will also host letterpress, offset, silk-screening, rubber-stamping and paper-making demonstrations.”

To learn more about the 2010 Printers’ Ball, please visit their site.

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Jun 232010
 

The readers out there already know that I have a list of Chicago pubs, but now I have created a separate page for the literary publications of Chicago as well. There are more lit pubs in Chicago than I previously thought and I bet there are a few more, so if you happen to know of any please don’t hesitate to contact me.

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Jun 162010
 

Dark clouds hung in the sky. The weather report said to expect rain. Right before noon, it dropped from eighty to the mid-sixties. Great … The rain ended in Wicker Park around two in the afternoon. That’s when we decided to make our way to the Printer’s Row Book Fair. The parking space Gods were in our favor as we found a space a block away from the fair.

When we walked in, I noticed a few things. For one, it wasn’t as crowded as previous years. I attributed that to the abysmal weather, but the diehard fans of books, fellow writers and readers were in show. I also noticed that the fair was smaller this year and there weren’t many tables. That was a bummer. I always look forward to seeing the many bookstores, authors and lit pubs. Maybe it was just too expensive for them to pull off this year? Whatever it was, I found it rather unfortunate. The Printer’s Row Book Fair is one of the best festivals in Chicago. Period.

Walking in the rain @ the Printers Row Book Fair 2010

This year I had an agenda. I was going to hit all of the Chicago literary publications and buy some of their back issues. As a writer, it’s a good idea to have a sample issue in which to refer to when figuring out where to send your work for potential publication. You also want to be supportive of your industry. It’s also pretty cheap. You can usually find back issues for about half the cost of a regular issue. So, I bought a few back issues of After Hours and The Common Review.

As I continued to walk around, I saw a table stacked with beautiful, old hardcover books. On a whim, I purchased The Old Wives Tale by Arnold Bennett.

The Old Wives Tale

The Old Wives Tale by A. Bennett

I also found a small Chi-town publisher by the name of the Chicago Review Press and I couldn’t pass up one of the books sitting on the table. Zombie Movies, The Ultimate Guide by Glenn Kay. It was calling me. This book is a huge guide detailing zombie movies from the 1930’s through today. I know I’ll use that one for sure. We love zombie movies.

I also came across a few other interesting things and people this year. There is an interactive fiction video game called 1893: A World’s Fair Mystery. In this game, you are able to wander around the grounds of the 1893 world’s fair and read about the exhibits.

Here’s what I found about the game on their Web Site:

“A theft on the fairgrounds! Precious diamonds stolen from the Kimberly Diamond Mining Exhibit! An urgent telegram from your old partner arrives, requesting your help to solve the mystery. How can you refuse? And besides, you’ve been dying to see the wonder of the age everyone has been talking about, this Columbian Exposition. And so, dossier in hand, you take the next train to Chicago.

But this is no simple theft. And as theft turns to kidnapping, and kidnapping to murder, you find yourself at the center of a plot the extent of which you can only begin to imagine…”

It sounds rather interesting and innovative. I’m down for trying this game out in the future.

I also came across a writer by the name of Nick Valentino. He has a book out called Thomas Riley. Apparently, it’s a pretty exciting adventure novel. I didn’t purchase it as adventure novels aren’t really my thing, but I found Nick to be an extremely charismatic author and sales person. If I were into adventure novels, I would have purchased one from him. The woman sitting at the next table seemed rather annoyed. Maybe it was because he was selling more books than her. Come on folks, don’t be haters.

I hope the Printer’s Row Book Fair continues to live on, so keep showing up to support. It’s one of the best festivals in Chicago and something you have to experience for yourself to believe.

Printers Row Book Fair, Chicago 2010

Books, books everywhere

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