Confessions of a Germaphobe: Library Books

Every time I hold a library book in my hand, I can’t help but worry about the other hands that have held the book before me. Sometimes I think about it so much that I am too distracted to comprehend what I’m reading. So I started a new routine:

The dirt that wiped off my library books.

The dirt that wiped off my library books.

When I return home from the library with my reusable bag filled with used books, I wet a paper towel with a tea tree oil and water mixture and wipe the books’ covers. As you can see from the photo (left), these books leave behind all kinds of messes from previous readers.

I am all about spreading free words with the public, but man! if my books ever get published, I will be walking around with a bottle of tea tree oil and a handkerchief, wiping down my covers whenever they are back on the shelves.

The damage to the paper towel after my sanitation spree did not calm my germaphobia, but at least now I know the truth and can mentally take care of the problem so I can read without fear.

Press in the Wake of Tragedy

Storm photo 2

Damage left on Sidney Street in Kimberly after the Aug. 7 tornadoes swept through the Fox Cities.

After Wednesday morning’s tornadoes that hit the Fox Cities, destroying many beloved trees and homes, I walked/drove around documenting the horrific scene via iPhone. I then shared them to the Post Crescent who used my photos, as well as many other residents’, in a collage found here.

I have been trying to get my name out there for a few months now. Mostly because I love Appleton and have always wanted to work to the Appleton Post Crescent, but things have never really worked out in my favor. I was excited to receive an e-mail about their appreciation for all of my photos. It was also awesome of the PC and the Oshkosh Northwestern to share a press release I’d written for my “Free the Mind” event on July 15 (More on that event after I get my pictures back from the photographer!). Channel Action 2 news also covered my event with a video package and the PC printed an article (which was poorly edited and I was too embarrassed to share until now).

Damage in Kimberly after the Aug. 7 tornadoes swept through the Fox Cities.

Damage in Kimberly after the Aug. 7 tornadoes swept through the Fox Cities.

I’ve also written several other press releases for a few businesses I’m working for that are new and upcoming: Daily Details Concierge, LLC and The Backlot Comedy House. My freelance gig with Insight Publications LLC has helped reseed my confidence again after a long absence from doing what I love most. So, I’ve been working hard here and there trying to get my name out there again. Maybe something will come of it someday but, for now, it’s all of my little projects in hopes of one big eventual payoff!

A large branch dangles from a power line on Charles Street in Kimberly.

A large branch dangles from a power line on Charles Street in Kimberly.



As for the storm, I am very grateful that everyone I know is OK. There were no sirens when the tornadoes hit the area. My sister and I watched the storm from our living room window with the dog at our feet. Our neighbors tree had collapsed in the yard and our parents were texting constantly about the damage on their side of town. Thankfully, no one was injured in the Kimberly neighborhood but some of the homes were destroyed from heavy trees crashing into them, especially my childhood friend Haley’s old house, whose garage crippled under the large tree that’d broken off during the storm. There were large branches dangling from power lines and full trees that had been leveled by the heavy winds. Aside from a power line laying over several houses starting in my parents’ yard, no other damage was done to their house. Some neighbors packed up their belongings and moved in with relatives, while others brought out the generators as they wait for power to be restored to the community.

Revived Newspaper Earrings

I fixed my favorite pair of earrings this morning and I wanted to share:

Newspaper earrings Newspaper earrings

Newspaper earrings

Thanks to Hobby Lobby’s nickel-free earring hooks, I can now wear my newspaper-covered earrings again!


If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
- Stephen King

Author Reading Challenge

I like a good challenge now and then …

This last June I started a new book reading challenge for myself that involves reading all novels from one author at a time. On my Shelfari account, I set new reading goals every January — an average of 30 books per year. Some years I surpass my goal, and other years I barely reach 30 novels. I started getting more and more busy so I went to reading young adult chapter books to stay on schedule (among other reasons as noted here).

So, I’ve decided that instead of setting an amount of books to read by the end of the year, I should try reading all of the books from one author. It would have to be one of my favorites, of course. And the author should have A LOT of books already completed. The author of choice should be one whose personality intrigues me (via biographies or memoirs), one whose writing I respect and appreciate, and one whose characters suck me in by the first chapter. The winner is Stephen King.

Stephen King photo courtesy of Amy Guip, 2006.

Stephen King photo courtesy of Amy Guip, 2006.

I am currently reading his memoir On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, and find that I agree with him on many writing styles and mindsets going into creating a world of fiction. I don’t write horror stories, but I appreciate what he accomplishes with characters and plots — even if he writes himself into his stories. Plus, he writes so damn honestly, and I would love to be able to write as open, carefree, and honest as he does someday. What better way to make that happen than to read his books and practice mimicking his style? (More on mimicking other author’s styles later!)

Not only do I want to read all of his novels (and I am not forcing a time frame), but I want to read them in order. I’ve read The Green Mile and all but the last book in The Dark Tower series, but I may choose to reread or skip them when the time comes. As for The Dark Tower, I cannot get enough of it (many others agree, I know), yet I am unable to bring myself to finish it. It seems too final. Like all of his books have stemmed from this series and when that ends, all of his brilliance will be wrapped up and topped with a cute red rose or obliterated before my eyes. So I may skip those books entirely and finish them at the very end. We shall see …

The Dark Tower series graphic novel image of Stephen King's Roland Deschain. Photo courtesy of

The Dark Tower series graphic novel image of Stephen King’s Roland Deschain. Photo courtesy of

My thought is that if I read all of his other novels and then come back to The Dark Tower series I will understand more about the world he created than going into the end cold turkey. I understand that all of his novels don’t connect with the series, but many of them do. There’s nothing I enjoy more than trying to put pieces of a story together by connecting characters or places from other stories into new ones, either in the same series or from other similar story lines.

Also, I love symbolism (I was that annoying person in English class who was desperate to find a connection between everything in the story we were studying). It is my favorite part of writing. Once in awhile I focus too much on making it present in my stories, while most times I do not think about any connections and just write. During the latter, it sometimes takes one of my “reviewers” (friends whom I trust reading my work first) to point it out to me. Those are awesome moments!

The Dark Tower series is the largest piece of the puzzle in Stephen King’s writing (in my opinion), and I’m ready to see the bigger picture only AFTER I’ve read all the books surrounding it.

Wish me luck!

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If any other readers out there give similar challenges or already read one author at a time, please share your experience in my comment section. I would love to hear about them and which authors everyone is religiously (Sorry, S.K.) reading!

Book Approved

It has arrived, ladies and gentlemen.


My new Bestca BookBook iPhone 4s case ordered from


My very own BookBook case for the iPhone 4s, that is! This accessory was one of my first blog entries, if you remember. I have had it in my possession for about a week now and I have to say, so far, I like it — A LOT! Because my phone is wrapped within a binding of a leather bound book, I don’t feel as rude carrying it around or playing on it in public. When I went to see a band at the Appleton Summer Concert Series, all I had to do was put my ID, cash, and debit card in the wallet slots. How convenient!

It may seem awkward at first to talk on the phone using the BookBook case, but I found that the easiest way is to bend the cover back. It fits perfectly onto your shoulder that way. The sound is not muffled and people on the other line can always hear me. The only downside to making calls with this is that no matter which way I bend or twist the phone to end a call, it doesn’t register it’s being moved at all, so I have to hit my home button for the screen to appear. Other times it constantly stays lit up and bumps the “Speaker” button.

The Twelve South BookBook (original) phone case offers a new style with a hole in the back cover for your camera. I chose to go cheap and it works just as fine. If I want to take a picture, I have to be careful not to drop my naked phone in the process. The BookBook case limits the phone with any other cases, since the slot is just big enough to fit the phone itself inside.

While there are a few downsides to this case, I know that it protects the phone upon impact unlike a lot of my other hard plastic cases that crack and break apart. Plus, it looks so cool to carry around a book wherever I go. It sort of feeds my constant craving to carry a real book in my arms.

My new Bestca BookBook iPhone 4s case ordered from

My new Bestca BookBook iPhone 4s case ordered from