A room without books is as a body without a soul."
- Cicero

I Love Book Festival Week!

The Fox Cities’ Book Festival is my new favorite week of the year!

Lisa Genova speaks about her writing career at Lawrence University on April 19, 2013.

Lisa Genova speaks about her writing career at Lawrence University on April 19, 2013.

While I was only able to make it to two events, the ones that I chose suited me well. First I met Lisa Genova, a neuroscientist gone author. When she had her first child and struggled through a divorce she decided scientist was no longer her calling and instead decided to write novels about the diseases she’d studied in college.

Her stories include “Love Anthony” (a story about a boy with Autism), “Left Neglected” (about a woman suffering from Left Neglect after an accident), and her most famous novel “Still Alice” (about a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s). During her speech she announced that her up and coming novel will be about a person with Hungtington’s disease. I was excited to hear that since a close friend has a family member suffering from this disease (no blood relation, thank goodness).

Lisa Genova takes a picture with me after her speech at Lawrence University.

Lisa Genova takes a picture with me after her speech at Lawrence University.

Afterward I purchased “Love Anthony” since I’d forgotten my copy of “Still Alice” at home. Then I got at the end of the long line of fans and asked her to sign it. Some of the women standing in front of me in line asked if I was a writer or just an avid reader because I stood out as “the youngest person here.” I told them I was a writer who has been published as a journalist but not as a fiction author … yet. The women asked for my name, just in case.

Once Lisa signed my book, I asked her for a picture and promised to share it on her Facebook fan page. I was so excited to have met her and happy that the Boston Marathon Bomber Chase did not stop her from arriving (her daughter was staying with her father in Watertown and then her flight from Chicago got canceled so she had to drive to Appleton and made it just in time — YIKES!).

Dean Bakopoulos reads his literary fiction at Atlas Mill Coffee on April 20, 2013.

Dean Bakopoulos reads his literary fiction at Atlas Mill Coffee on April 20, 2013.

The second event I went to was a Storylogue presentation by Dean Bakopoulos and Katie Burns. Dean read a short story about a man named Blizzard who falls in love with a New York City actress playing a theatre role over the summer in his hometown. Between four different sections of the story, Katie Burns played the acoustic guitar and sang, making it part-concert, part-literary reading.

Katie Burns performs four songs on the acoustic guitar for an audience at Atlas Mill Coffee.

Katie Burns performs four songs on the acoustic guitar for an audience at Atlas Mill Coffee.

I enjoyed my first Storylogue. It was relaxing and a different way to share stories. Dean and I had a nice, quick conversation afterward about how the first chapter of his “Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon” novel was his first breakthrough as a writer.

Of course, I purchased the book and had him sign it. What can I say? It’s my thing. Not only do I collect coffee mugs, but also books signed by their authors.

I am so glad I took the time to go to these events. It is encouraging to hear them talk about their struggles to the top. Next year I plan to go to more events and maybe even volunteer my time. For those interested in volunteering for the Fox Cities Book Festival or if you just want to see what the next year will bring, check their website.


The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection."
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Gaining Some Insight at the Event of the Year

One thing is for sure:

Insight Publications is run by one hardworking, dedicated, and fun crew!


Nikki Kallio and I at the Insight Publications' 5-year anniversary party at the OuterEdge Stage in Appleton, Wisconsin.Photo courtesy of Nikki Kallio of Insight Publications.

Nikki Kallio and I at the Insight Publications’ 5-year anniversary party at the OuterEdge Stage in Appleton, Wisconsin.
Photo courtesy of Nikki Kallio of Insight Publications.

Co-publishers Brian Rasmussen (Sales & Marketing Director) and Margaret LeBrun (Executive Editor) started the magazine with its first publication in 2007. When the economy began to crumble, Insight gave those struggling businesses a face — of hope, you might say. The magazine has thrived into their 5th year where they have announced a VIP membership that includes a subscription to the publication for the first time. What I love and appreciate most about this publication is their ability to convey people and their businesses in creative ways. The layouts pull the eyes in the appropriate direction with catchy titles and text alignment/colors; the photography is artistic like that of a professional photographer who creates beautiful scenes for engagement or wedding photos. Needless to say, this is not a typical business magazine. Insight focuses on the inspirational and influential business leaders of our local community through creatively written pieces of those who have made an impact, rather than using technical language to just explain the business aspect of companies.

A "Neil Diamond" impersonator serenaded Linda Dums (freelance writer) and I at Insight's 5-year anniversary party.

A “Neil Diamond” impersonator serenaded Linda Dums (freelance writer) and I at Insight’s 5-year anniversary party. Photo courtesy of Nikki Kallio of Insight Publications.

Not only do I enjoy the aesthetics and content, but also the professionals running the business. I met most of them for the first time at this event, and they are a hoot (as some might say)! The Elvis Presley and Neil Diamond impersonators made for an entertaining evening, especially when “Neil Diamond” went around to some of the tables to serenade us ladies during “Sweet Caroline.” Brian got on stage for Karaoke for a Cause and rewrote the lyrics to the popular song “Jack and Diane” by John Cougar Mellencamp into a melody related to the magazine. When I was tagging alongside Nikki Kallio (Associate Editor), she introduced me to many new, successful faces. And those I met (both of the magazine or just friends of those of the magazine) were so kind and genuinely happy to meet me. Me, who is just one of the freelance writers. Everything that this magazine stands for has helped me to realize that I want to work for this company as long as I can.

Please consider subscribing to this wonderful magazine to continue supporting local businesses, especially one filled with such great people and ideas.

Here are few links to get you started:

Insight Publications Website

Insight’s Facebook page

Bedtime Stories Become Nightstand Storage

What if you could have a nightstand made out of large books? And what if the binding of those books opened up into drawers? Would you buy one? Well, now you can! Hobby Lobby is currently selling them as storage pieces. (However, I must warn you that I have not had any luck finding it online. I Googled everything I could think of that might lead me to at least an image of it.)



I received this for my birthday and I love it! I rearranged my entire room for two days just so I could fit it. The surface space is limited but because I was able to shift things around and had more than two large drawers to store my stuff, the clutter has dwindled to a minimum. I still have room for my lamp, lotion, remote control (or clicker as I call it) and bedtime story.

Super cool gift for a bookworm like me!


The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
- John Muir

Tree Words … Mod-Podge-Rocks!

Well, I’ve been at it again with my Mod Podge word projects. This time I tried to incorporate it into my paintings. However, since I am new to painting, I have not mastered mixing and blending so I mostly paint silhouettes.

My latest project is a silhouette of a bare branched tree against a bright yellow background. What makes this piece special is that I cut out words from my dictionary that spell out the word tree and used Mod Podge to glue on the pieces as the background. Then I painted a bright yellow color over the top and finally the tree.

Tree Word Project


What do you do with your mod podge?


Happiness is the consequence of personal effort.”
- Elizabeth Gilbert

Why Don’t You Just Let It Be?

Photo courtesy of www.eat2behealthy.com.

Photo courtesy of www.eat2behealthy.com.

There’s a reason you’re taught to take a deep breath and count to ten.

Meditation has given me different ways to look at the world, and with it a different writing mindset. The art of breathing has allowed me to take myself out of my stories, and by that I mean, I no longer live the emotional roller coaster ride of my characters. It has given me the ability to take a step back and see them for who they are without emotional bias. A lack of emotion in my stories is not what I am talking about. If that was the case, I’d probably never get published!

Next to adding positivity to my life, one of the most important aspects I received as a meditator is the viewpoint advantage; the ability to observe emotions, rather than drown in or dwell on them. It is the power to climb out of our thoughts and see situations clearly; sometimes for the first time. Boy, isn’t it embarassing when that happens? But better late than never!

Luckily meditation also brings forgiveness to our hearts — for those who have wronged us and those we have wronged. Hopefully, it also provides a more transparent picture of what’s right and wrong the next time a situation arises.

This is what happened with my writing.

Photo courtesy of www.grassrootsyoga.wordpress.com.

Photo courtesy of www.grassrootsyoga.wordpress.com.

I was amazed how much it changed my style and approaches. Not only that, but my negative feelings about the world flipped, giving me the motivation and confidence I needed to become a writer. The world was beautiful again and so was writing, no matter how depressing the subject. I finally told myself how young I was NOT getting and how many great stories were NOT being written because of my procrastination and stink against the world.

There is no way to convince any one that breathing and quieting your mind can change your world. The best I can do is share my experience and hope people will at least give it a try. Especially if you’re a struggling writer who keeps writing herself into every story, like I always did. Oops!

Here is a hilarious clip from the film “Eat, Pray, Love” about the first time Elizabeth tries to meditate. And it is common, at least with my first meditation experience, to feel an initial presence of anger, but that just means that it’s working.

Please read the book, based off of Elizabeth Gilbert’s amazing journey. The movie and book are basically two different stories even though the movie is based off of the memoir. I love them both equally as separate pieces.

See what meditation can do for your writing!