MADE in Lake County: Natalie Rompella, Children’s Author {Libertyville}

MADE is a paid partnership with Little Lake County. This story contains affiliate links. 

Welcome to MADE in Lake County! MADE in Lake County introduces you to the stories behind Lake County entrepreneurs and business owners. This month we are happy to introduce you to Natalie Rompella, children’s author.

Natalie grew up in Waukegan and now resides in Libertyville with her family. In addition to being a published children’s author, Natalie is available for interactive classroom presentations and school workshops. Plus, she is an active contributor to our website, Little Lake County. We recently met up over coffee to discuss writing, her newest book Cookie Cutters and Sled Runners, and motherhood.

Natalie Rompella, MADE in Lake County
Photo credit Jessica Weinstock

Natalie studied education at the University of Illinois, and settled into teaching and living in Elgin with her husband. She went on to continue her studies by pursuing a Masters in Education in Science Education. As she was going back to school and choosing her focus, her mom reminded her of how much she had always enjoyed science as a child and helped her re-kindle that curiosity. During her master’s program, she somewhat reluctantly took a workshop in educational writing, thinking the workshop may be a little dry. In fact, the class was quite informative, and helped guide her to writing educational readers and texts. Also during her masters program, one course required her to write a children’s book about chemistry for a final project. Natalie enjoyed the project, and so did her professor, who suggested she try to get it published. All the while, Natalie was still working as a full-time teacher.

Equipped with all her knowledge about writing, she began to write readers and small non fiction texts for educational readers. As her writing career started taking off, Natalie began publishing more and more nonfiction educational texts and readers. Eventually she wrote her first nonfiction trade book, Don’t Squash that Bug. It was her first book sold at bookstores, and not just in the education market. At this point, her writing was taking up so much time, and had become successful enough that she took the plunge and left her job as a teacher. This was around the same time that she and her husband were thinking about starting a family, so the timing seemed right.

In 2008, she was working on a nonfiction book about American sports pioneers entitled Famous Firsts: The Trendsetters, Groundbreakers and Risk Takers who got America Moving, which included a section on sled dog racing. Through her research on sled dog racing locally, she ended up watching the sport at a race in Wisconsin, and connecting with some of the sport’s top competitors. After learning about the sport, the seeds were planted for her newest fiction book, Cookie Cutters and Sled Runners. Through the connections she made during research, and a grant she had applied for to continue research for her book, Natalie was actually able to travel to Alaska to watch and have special access to the Iditarod race, as well as use her research to lend credibility to her fiction novel.

Natalie Rompella, MADE in Lake County
Image provided by Natalie Rompella

Natalie’s journey to published writer clearly included lots of hard work, dedication, discipline and research. As we spoke, I was definitely impressed by how deeply she researched everything she wrote about, no matter what the topic. Once she started a family, Natalie had to be more disciplined than ever. Both of her kids are now in elementary school all day, but when they were young and she was home with them, Natalie had to carve out writing time. For her, that meant nap time was non-negotiable. The kids went to their rooms and she went to her office, no matter what, to get a few hours of writing done, seven days a week.

For other aspiring authors, Natalie recommends connecting with local writers. Writing groups, workshops and organizations help her bounce ideas for books and network on the best ways to get ideas published. Another tip she has is to write down everything. Natalie makes notes of every idea or thought she has, and those notes help her grow and develop new books.

As for children who love to write, her biggest suggestion is to just keep writing. Encourage kids to write as much as possible, tell stories, and take notes. As a child, she had a teacher who allowed her and a friend to stay in from recess and write some days, and that encouragement and mentorship is something she still cherishes to this day so much that she dedicated her newest book to that teacher.

Natalie Rompella, MADE in Lake County
Photo source Natalie Rompella

In addition to being a busy mom, author and contributor to Little Lake County, Natalie is available for classroom presentations and school workshops. She offers multiple program options for different age groups, including writing workshops or interactive educational presentation on bugs.

Natalie Rompella, Children’s Author
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Disclosure: Natalie Rompella, Children’s Author, is our featured Business of the Month. This series is part of a paid promotion partnership with Little Lake County. All thoughts and opinions belong to the writer of the story. If you are interested in featuring your own locally-owned business in our series please contact the sales team at sales{at}LittleLakeCoounty{dot}com.

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About Maureen Collier 41 Articles
Maureen calls Vernon Hills home and four children call her “Mom.” With her children (boy 2/06, girl 9/07 and twin boys 6/12), Maureen is a busy Stay-At-Home Mom, who dedicates herself to modeling an active lifestyle for her family.

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