Dream Up Now: The Teen Journal for Creative Self-Discovery

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I love how it can really teach students how to express their feelings.” —Stephanie Filio, M.Ed

DREAM UP NOW (Free Spirit, 2020) is the teen journal for creative self-discovery. Dream Up Now offers practical instruction and ample space for self-reflection and creative play, giving teens the space to explore their emotions through creativity. Together with children’s therapy adviser Lesley Holmes, we’ve partnered with 18 recognized community leaders to inspire our readers to express their emotions through creative writing, art, movement, music, and poetry. The Dream Up Now team includes former NFL running back Andre Hardy; actor and dancer Tanesha “Ksyn” Cason (who has worked with Beyoncé and performs on Lip Sync Battle); and renowned drummer Rich Redmond (author of the book FUNdamentals of Drumming for Kids). Dream Up Now offers practical instruction and ample space for self-reflection and creative play.

Ever since Julia Cameron’s beloved book The Artist’s Way came out 25 years ago, millions of readers yearning for a richer, more meaningful life have discovered how important creative expression is for our mental health and quality of life. Dream Up Now is a guided journal offering young people aged 12 to 18 a similar opportunity to explore their emotions through creativity.

Fluctuating emotions can impair daily function. It’s a phenomenon cutting across suburban, urban and rural demographics. We show adolescent readers how to manage difficult emotions, and even better, how to leverage a great day.

Dream Up Now can be used independently or in our after-school programs and pop-up workshops held in libraries, schools, hospitals and therapeutic settings, and youth-oriented organizations. We’ve partnered with 17 recognized community leaders to inspire our readers to express their emotions through creative writing, art, movement, music, and poetry. Dream Up Now offers practical instruction and ample space for self-reflection and creative play.

How do YOU feel, right now? Follow the arrows to find ideas for where to start in your Dream Up Now journal.

This incredible journal for our teens (and people of all ages, really) is such an incredible resource, filled with prompts to help them process their feelings and fortify their self-awareness and identities. First, there’s a real-life story, to connect to the emotion. Then, some food-for-thought reflection prompts. And a page for creative expression. Check out this journal for that special tween or teen in your orbit.” —Barbara Gruener, Corner On Character

“This is a great tool for encouraging teens to really think through their emotions, breaking down their responses to a wide variety of emotions and processing them creatively – through writing, drawing, music, reflection, planning and more.” —Christie Burnett,

Learn more at, on Instagram @dreamupnowjournal and on Facebook at

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Praise for DREAM UP NOW

“Dream Up Now feels very positive and hopeful, which are things I’m seeking out
in my own life. I’m grateful to be involved.” – 
Kristin L. Tollefson, multi-award winning sculptor/painter/arts educator

“Mental health is so important. A lot can be overcome if people are allowed to explore their emotions. I’m excited to be part of this. It’s a really amazing project and needed for awareness. Especially now.” – Tanesha Ksyn, actor, dancer, principal dancer on Lip Sync Battle

“Whether through writing, art, dancing or design, Dream Up Now lets you be drawn to what resonates. Care about being happy. Luckily, life is long enough to find every possible new way to enjoy it.” – Antonio Manuel Chavira, author/director of animation studio

“This is such an incredible project. It’s brilliant. It’s going to be a great resource. Dream Up Now is an amazing thing that will really have an impact on the lives of teens.” – Lisa Manterfield, author of The Smallest Thing and A Strange Companion

“It’s time to uncover your authentic truth with Dream Up Now.” – Shelley Klammer, award-winning art therapist

“Creative expression can always help improve your mood. The toughest part of being a teen is trying to balance who you want to be and trying to fit in. Dream Up Now gives you time to figure that out.” – Courtney Oliver, Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Chemical Dependency Professional

“I’m so honored to be included. What you’ve put together here is amazing.
I’m truly impressed.” – 
Melissa Dinwiddie, musician, jazz singer, and author of The Creative Sandbox Way

“I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to contribute to Dream Up Now because I believe it’s the first tool of its kind to help teens navigate through the emotional maze that they face every day. I fully believe that the creative activities Dream Up Now offers will help this generation of teens and future generations to develop into more confident and self-reliable adults.” – Coach Bodhi Marcus, creator of the P.E.A.C.E. Phys. Ed program for immigrant students


A SONG FOR THE ROADSparkPress, 2019

When a tornado destroys his Tulsa home, fifteen-year-old Carter Danforth is trapped in the pawnshop where his father hawked his custom, left-handed Martin guitar six years earlier―and then took off, leaving Carter with nothing but a hankering to pluck strings and enough heartache to sing the blues. Injured by the storm, Carter’s mother is laid up in the hospital. She wants Carter to fly out to Reno and stay with her sister. Too bad Carter already spent her hidden cash stash to buy his dad’s guitar. Rather than tell her the truth, he embarks on an epic road trip in search of his father in Santa Monica. But Carter isn’t a runaway. He reckons he’s a “running to.”

On his way west, Carter picks up licks, chord changes, and performance techniques from a quirky cast of Southwestern charmers: a rock star, a thief, a bluesman, a chanteuse-turned-chef, and the dream of a girl back home. A Song for the Road reads like a mash-up of The Wizard of Oz and Easy Rider―by the time he reaches the end of old US Route 66, Carter has learned how to deep-fry yucca blossoms and tell the truth of his life through music.

Buy A SONG FOR THE ROAD now! Click here

Eric-Hoffer-Honorable-Mention“Creativity, Victory, Heart, Discipline—four words that mean so much to the main character and a common thread that the author weaves throughout. The author leads the reader on a quirky journey as Carter loses his home in a devastating tornado. Carter takes to the road, with nothing but a guitar that once belonged to his long absent father as well as a desire to find out why his father left and where he himself fits in the world. Along the way, we discover a ragtag band of supporting characters who lend notes of the melody to Carter’s life. This is an entertaining tale about love and family and how it looks a little different for everyone.” —The Eric Hoffer Book Awards




“A sweet, twangy tale about a boy finding his future on the way to his past.” —Kirkus Reviews  (Read the full review here)

“A diverting novel that will appeal especially to teen readers interested in music.” —School Library Journal (Read the full review here)

”If music is your jam and you really want to see someone taking an epic journey across the US of old Route 66, this music heavy story will be one that you won’t soon forget.  With musical details in every chapter, this is one story that have you wanting to take a trip of your own!” —Crossroad Reviews (Read the full review here)

”I’m a sucker for a good travel story and this one did not disappoint.” —Book Nerds Across America

“A boy, a guitar, and the open road. In A Song For The Road, Rayne Lacko brings this timeless archetype to full, vivid life, as 15-year-old Carter embarks on a journey that will define him as an artist, a son, and a man. Beautiful music abounds in these pages; in the story, the language, and the hearts of those well-defined characters. Tune up your six-string, grab a mic, and join Carter as he takes his memorable song on the road.” – Mark Sarvas, award-winning author of Memento Park

“Fifteen-year-old Carter Danforth is loaded down with guilt, dreams, and his dad’s old Martin guitar. Hitting the long highway between Tulsa and L.A. may need his best hope or worst decision ever. Author Rayne Lacko takes us on a powerful coming-of-age journey that gets under the skin, callouses the fingertips, and works its way into the heart. A Song for the Roadis packed with gritty wisdom, succulent humor, and great music. I’ll be rooting for Carter for a long time to come.”Conrad Wesselhoeft, author of Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly

A Song for The Road is a brilliant metaphor for life. That Carter Danforth is one determined young man and memorable hero as you’ll ever find. Bravo, Rayne Lacko!”– Andre Hardy, former NFL running back

“A lyrical, absorbing coming-of-age tale, A Song for the Roaddelights, surprises and tugs at the heartstrings in equal measure. I fell in love with Carter Danforth on his epic cross-country journey to reunite with his estranged father—and so will you. An uplifting story of friendship, family, and the healing power of music.” – Anjali Banerjee, author of Maya Running, Looking for Bapu, and Seaglass Summer

Rayne Lacko brings forth the power of music in her inspiring, coming of age novel – A Song for the Road. The protagonist, a teenaged boy, is “reawakening all the feelings he was trying every day to hold down.” Torn between facing his suppressed feelings and pursuing his passion, Carter chooses making music on his own terms. His choice is rewarded with personal healing and new friendships. A wonderful read about the magic of music and creating your own path.” – Heidi Daniele, author The House Children

Radio Head

Mill City Press, 2016

A grittier version of Once, set in LA.” -William F. Aicher, A Confession

Shelby Rey can hear you like a song. With one touch, she’s in tune with your every hope, every secret. When a celebrity psychiatrist takes an interest in her case, Shelby comes face-to-face with Zac Wyatt, the lead singer of the world-famous rock band, Grounder. For Zac, success isn’t enough though. He wants a shot at his first solo album, fame above and beyond Grounder. But the genius behind every one of Grounder’s hits is Stanford Lysandre, their heroin-addicted, self-taught lead guitarist. Zac is so jealous he could kill him. Order now

“Laclair is able to write in multiple perspectives all through the same situation. What I mean is that it gives you an idea that each individuals will see certain situations how they want to see them. Some readers may find this chaotic in a way, but I thought this was a way for readers to see how chaotic things can be in ones life.

I really feel that anyone would enjoy this book. From those who LOVE music, to those who enjoy reading from different points of view. You will absolutely be immersed in this book.” – Quotable Books

“I highly recommend RADIO HEAD for anyone in the process of finding themselves – all with a touch of music and heart!” – Anne Clermont, Learning to Fall