I'm closing in on wrapping up my first year as a full time writer (with more thoughts on that next week.) But recently I had three bylines that I was proud to see out in the world. Here's the story behind all 3 of them:

U.S. Catholic: "The sex talk: Earlier is better"

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When the editors of this magazine first reached out to me abut this story I was a little worried. I identify as Catholic but there are a lot of places where I diverge with the church on social issues and so was concerned that I might be asked to write something I didn't agree with. I was really pleased, however, when I learned more about the publication which I think does a great job of addressing, not sidestepping, issues that concern modern liberal young Catholics (and everyone, basically.)

What was cool about this story is that I got to interview some great people, including my friend Elizabeth who has her PhD in theology, my kids' pediatrician and a woman who teaches sex ed to kids, which not only interesting but edifying to me personally in regards to how to attempt to raise a kid with good sexual health. One thing that I think helped keep the piece from getting too sticky was that I focused on younger kids (which also helped keep it more relevant to me.)

Real Simple: "5 ways to start the year off right with your kid's teacher."

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I love Real Simple. Sometimes I have to make fun of it because otherwise it will make me feel inadequate as a person. And sometimes I think it is optimistic about what its readership actually has time to/wants to cook. But I find it so soothing to read, from the texture of the paper to the fact that there are never any celebrities in it. So I am happy to see my own name in it. I pitched this story nearly exactly a year ago so that was a fun journey--plus I learned some good stuff as a parent. I was worried the process of working on it would be editorially eviscerating, but it wasn't at all. It took some work but it didn't involve the type of painful rewriting that sometimes comes my way.

Chicago Magazine: "The Innovators: 5 schools and districts that are leading the way."

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I thought about turning this down because I know very little about Chicago public schools and was a little scared of the topic (to me, CPS = drama) but for the magazine's "Best Public Schools" issue I got a cool sidebar where I highlighted innovative or unique ways public schools have boosted their student achievement. It was a real scramble--I picked it up from another writer who couldn't finish it, so we were behind, then it grew twice and I had to find schools in specific combinations ("Middle grade in Cook County"/ "Elementary school in Kane County.") I was grateful that somebody thought of me as a writer who could help in a tight spot and I hope I demonstrated that I could step in.

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