August 17, 2018 – Alice and Stanley bump into each other on the street.
May 24, 2019 – Alice unpacks her office box at the end of the novel.
Along with using PowerPoint to track characters and locations and a few other things, I used an Excel calendar to track the time of the story. I realize this might date the novel, quite literally (though one doesn’t need to know these dates to read the book), but it helped me with a few things. For one, accuracy. When the temp spikes or drops, when it snows or rains, when the Cubs beat the Pirates 10-0 during their 2019 season opener, it’s all what actually happened on those dates. Sometimes the internet comes in handy, eh? (I can also tell you that the Cubs game lasted three hours and twelve minutes, had 40,692 folks in attendance, and that there was a high of 74* F.)
The novel takes place during a length of time that is less than a year – which Alice notes as she is marking her goals. She had given herself a full year to figure out her life, but it took her less than that.
I’ll also note that all of the locations are real, though I will admit that I have not been to all of them. The one exception is that the Art Garage does not exist in Chicago – it is based on the Art Garage in Green Bay, WI, where I live. I just loved the concept so much that I wanted to model Lily’s gallery after it.