Recipe for the Life of Elle Newmark ABOUT:

Start in Chicago, with the name Ellen Ferrero. When your little sister drops the "n" and you become Elle, notice both the power and the nuance of the alphabet.

Take one trip at a very young age, say four years old. Make it a voyage on the S.S. Washington, to your father's farming village in the Italian Alps. Attend kindergarten there as an outsider looking in. (An essential ingredient for any writer-to-be.) For added punch, omit the school uniform that everyone else wears. Although this might leave a bitter taste at first, you will learn to appreciate the value of individuality. Make a rich base of everything Italian. Let simmer for decades.

Return to Chicago. Survive twelve years of Catholic school and watch any remaining desire to wear a uniform evaporate forever. Dream of being a writer.

Experiment. Dream big. Make a few mistakes. In fact, make quite a few mistakes.

Try a dash of early first marriage, and learn quickly which ingredients won't mix.

At some point, you will need two incredible children. Only the best will do.

Scramble in a dozen years as an advertising copywriter and dish up clever headlines about everything, including fertilizer. Keep dreaming.

Move to Denver and blend. Marry a great guy named Frank Newmark, and allow marriage to set in Germany for seven years. This one will stick. Travel the world. Pay attention. Write everything down--from scratch. Fill notebooks. And then write even more. Don't forget to dream.

Make a nest in the golden hills north of San Diego. Write, travel, dream, write, travel, dream. Repeat. Don't watch for the pot to boil. Have a lot of birthdays. Throw in a bunch of grandchildren and teach them the glory of books. When it seems like your dreams won't ever happen, achieve them by breaking the rules. Use lots of spice and let life bubble over. Never give up, always be grateful, and devour every moment.

* Adjust constantly. See the necessity of certain ingredients only years later.