Photo by Kyle Cassidy.

Many of you know I spent much of the spring and summer writing, and it’s finally time to announce why! A new book!!! And it’s coming next Spring!

A few years ago, my writer friend and editor extraordinaire Stephen Segal edited GEEK WISDOM: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture. I loved the book of thoughtful essays reflecting upon well-known quotations, and when Stephen asked me if I would be interested in co-writing with him a follow-up that explored the parenting tips gleaned from geek-culture kids and their families, I was thrilled to be able to bring together some of the most important aspects of my life: being a mom, being a writer, and being a geek.

That book, GEEK PARENTING: What Joffrey, Jor-El, Maleficent, and the McFlys Teach Us about Raising a Family  will officially be out on April 5, 2016, by Quirk Books, but ARCS are ready now and being given away free at Book Riot Live 2015 in New York this weekend!


Stephen and I will be sharing more information as the date gets closer, and there will definitely be Chicago events around the release date, as well as elsewhere. (I believe that the book can already be pre-ordered online.)

I’m proud of GEEK PARENTING. The lessons Stephen and I write about are important truths I try to keep in mind every day as I strive to raise thoughtful, kind, passionate, creative kids. There’s a lot of wisdom in those fantastic books and movies, TV shows and comics that we grew up with and continue to enjoy. Whether you have kids or are a kid at heart, I hope you enjoy it half as much as we loved writing it.

(Behind the scenes, Photo by Kyle Cassidy)
(Behind the scenes, Photo by Kyle Cassidy)

Chicago Literary Hall of Fame Fourth Annual Silent Auction

I have two longer blog posts to finish up, but I wanted to be sure to tell you about an important literary event coming up in Chicago this weekend. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ve heard me mention various things about the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, an organization dear to my heart. This Sunday, August 24, the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame is holding their fourth silent auction at the Haymarket Pub & Brewery from 5-8 p.m. The gracious and talented David Eigenberg is our special guest.

David Eigenberg, as Christopher Herrmann, on Chicago Fire
David Eigenberg, as Christopher Herrmann, on Chicago Fire

A Chicago-area native, David Eigenberg  graduated from Naperville Central in 1982. He was attending Washburne Trade School at 31st and Kedzie when they went on strike, an event that changed the course of his life.

“I had nothing to do,” David recalls. “Didn’t know how long the strike was going to be. A week into it, there was an audition.”

David tried out and was cast in the chorus of the play, One Shining Moment, and that put him on the path that lead from the U.S. Marine Corp Reserve, to acting school in New York, to one-off parts on shows like Homicide: Life on the StreetsERKing of QueensGhost Whisperer and NCIS, and his eventual breakthrough role of Steve Brady on the popular show Sex in the City. 

Three years ago, David was cast in the role of Christopher Herrmann on Chicago Fire, a show filmed entirely in Chicago. He returned to Chicago, and together with his wife, Chrysti, their five-year-old son Louie, and five-month old daughter Myrna,  they now call Chicago home from their Bucktown bungalow.

We are so grateful for David’s time and support of the auction.  I hope that you’ll take this opportunity to come to Haymarket and say hello, meet David, and support the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame.

With the money raised, the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame will come closer to realizing their potential of being the primary champion of Chicago literature, finding additional ways to celebrate Chicago’s literary heritage and honor the writers who have shaped it.

Later this year, on October 4, we will present the 2014 Fuller Award to Harry Mark Petrakis at the National Hellenic Museum; and on December 6, 2014, we will hold our fifth annual induction ceremony honoring Margaret Anderson, David Hernandez, Edgar Lee Masters, Shel Silverstein, Willard Motley and Margaret Walker.

I hope to see you there this Sunday! You can buy your tickets at:



The Power of Books: Helping to Rebuild Ukrainian Libraries

“But you can’t make people listen. They have to come round in their own time, wondering what happened and why the world blew up around them. It can’t last.” 
― Ray BradburyFahrenheit 451

Burning books–it’s a powerful metaphor for tyranny, censorship, and ignorance. From the burning of “heretical” books during the Spanish Inquisition to the burning of rare Sub-Saharan African medieval documents by Islamist insurgents in Mali last year, our history is full of examples of libraries and precious volumes being destroyed as one group conquers another or seeks to control the ideas and culture of a people.

In March of this year, Pro-Russian activists forced their way into public buildings in Kharkiv and Donetsk, Ukraine, and destroyed volumes of Ukrainian history, literature, and archival books, including some devoted to the Holodomor (the man-made famine imposed by Stalin’s regime in 1932-1933 that killed 7-10 million people).

Why burn them? Destroying books is an attempt to silence people and erase their past and their influence. Books hold stories and histories; they preserve language and traditions; they document people and places; and some of them are archival treasures. It hurts my heart to think of all that’s been lost in the destruction of libraries and archives around the world over time.

Referencing the destruction during WWII, in his  ‘Message to the Booksellers of America,” President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote:

“Books can not be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can abolish memory … In this war, we know, books are weapons. And it is a part of your dedication always to make them weapons for man’s freedom.”

Books can touch people’s hearts, challenge their assumptions, sometimes change their lives. For me, the incredible potential of words is one of the main reasons I became a writer. Books are powerful. The right books can make ripples that change the world.

When I was growing up, like many Ukrainian American children of first and second generation immigrants, I was taught that it was my responsibility to learn the language and history of Ukraine, to do my part in the preservation of Ukrainian culture and traditions.

Most of us growing up in the Ukrainian Diaspora knew that so much was suppressed and destroyed in Soviet Ukraine, and we watched the efforts of our elders to safeguard all they could of Ukraine’s history and culture. This is why the Ukrainian National Museum (UNM) was created back in 1952 in Chicago.

The Ukrainian Diaspora has been closely watching events unfolding in Ukraine. As soon as word spread about the books being burned in Kharkiv and Donetsk, the UNM began to immediately collect Ukrainian language books to replace all that was lost.

Photo courtesy of the Ukrainian National Museum.
Photo courtesy of the Ukrainian National Museum.

“People have been very generous and donated family collections of books. We have 50 filled boxes,” explains Anna Chychula, UNM Administrator. “Now we need help to fund the cost of shipping.”

The UNM  has launched a crowd-funding project to cover the cost of sending the books to Ukraine and hopes to raise $5000. They’ve chosen, a fundraising platform for registered nonprofits. The beauty of crowd-funding is that every contribution helps. For those interested in participating, the campaign is explained on their Razoo site: (or click on the widget below):