Lakefly Writer’s Conference

Measure Life in Bookmarks at the Lakefly Writer's Conference

Measure Life in Bookmarks attended the 2017 Lakefly Writer’s Conference in Oshkosh. I’m having a lot more fun than it looks.

Last weekend I attended the Lakefly Writer’s Conference in Oshkosh. It was exactly what I needed to recharge after a long, busy winter churning out copy for work without having time to sit back and reflect on the beauty of the process.

 

 

 

 

measure life in bookmarks at lakefly writer's conference

Photo courtesy of Lakefly Writer’s Conference.

It reminded me that every few months, creatives must put themselves in front of other like-minded artists to revive their inspiration. I was grateful to have attended all the presentations I could, conversate with other hardworking writers and touch all the published book displays.

 

 

 

Some of the more memorable moments at the conference included:

Lakefly Writer's Conference Kristin Adams

Photo of Kristin Adams. Courtesy of Lakefly Writer’s Conference.

Kristine D. Adams talked about her experiences in writing memoir and recommended techniques to tell your story. I spoke with her afterward, as writing memoir has always been an interest of mine, and we discussed capturing family history. One of my goals is to interview and record my grandmothers’ stories and turn them into biographies to remember where I’ve come from. But also to remind them how far they’ve com. Plus, it’s always a nice excuse to have coffee or tea with your grandma.

Lakefly Writer's Conference Jill Swenson

Photo of Jill Swenson. Courtesy of Lakefly Writer’s Conference.

Jill Swenson of Swenson Book Development presented a novel’s worth of information on how to know when you need to hire an agent, how to get one and what to do once you start working together. She shared her knowledge of the publishing industry while inspiring everyone in the room how simple it could be if you could just find your spirit agent. Someone who believes in your story as much as you. She taught me that a writer should never have to beg for an agent’s unconditional love. NOTED!

 

Orange Hat Publishing

Orange Hat Publishing staff at the Lakefly Writer’s Conference.

And, finally, Orange Hat Publishing. It is a small, indie publishing company in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Kristen Bratonja, editor and head of marketing at Orange Hat, presented on the evolving publishing world, including how to avoid scams, the rise in indie publishers, and the pros and cons of each type of book publishing.

 

 

 

Thank you to everyone who was a part of this great conference! Looking forward to next year.

My Language of Quiet

Me not impressed with Las Vegas.

Me not impressed with Las Vegas.

My co-worker and I are the same age and always joke about being the “old farts” in the office as we will both be turning 30 within a month of each other in 2017. It was suggested by another co-worker that we go on vacation somewhere to celebrate. I love to travel and explore new places, so I considered it, until my two extroverted co-workers shouted “Las Vegas!”

This was just another moment where I had to question myself: “Why am I such an outcast?” I prefer silence over chatter at work. My nerves are on overdrive when my boss assigns me a speaking role in a meeting without any details of what to say while my other co-workers can “wing it” without any preparation or practice. Now I couldn’t even agree on Las Vegas. Everyone is supposed to love that place.

Here I was, preferring a place of seclusion, such as my parents land up north that they recently purchased, or the solitary Yorkshire moors in England, or the breathtakingly beautiful Alaska. Las Vegas was the last place in the world I wanted to visit again. My one-night stay in 2010 was enough for me to know it wasn’t my kind of city. I couldn’t justify sitting in a casino to just watch others gamble away their money. There was no way I’d gamble even a dollar to lose on bad luck.

Photo courtesy of QuietRev.com.

Photo courtesy of QuietRev.com.

There is this cultural ideal in America (and in most of the world) that extroversion is what people should strive for: at our jobs, in the classroom, with our friends and romantic partners. Extroverts are known as the more “likeable fellow,” as author Susan Cain puts it in her book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” But what’s so wrong with the introverts? The answer, you will find, is nothing. We are just programmed a little differently, and you need to learn to respect us, too.

“Quiet” covers every aspect of introverts vs. extroverts from biological to cultural. Susan Cain has written a section for everyone: parents, teachers, children, lovers, scientists, psychologists and anthropologists.

quiet people

Photo courtesy of PlayBuzz.com.

Since high school, I have forced myself into being more extroverted over fear I’d never succeed in life without an outgoing personality. Over the last 15 years now (man, I’m getting old), I’ve worked myself on overdrive to be the best extrovert I could be for the sake of my career, friendships, romantic partners, and good grades.

I’d beaten myself up for worrying too much about EVERYTHING: nervous shakes before interviewing a source for an article, stomach flips when a professor puts me in the spotlight, unsure how to respond properly to a compliment, etc. Why couldn’t I play it off as though these things were easy for me to adapt to like everyone else? Because I am different.

I am an introvert.

By the end of my college career, I’d gotten used to lying to myself about who I was. I started drinking alcohol to enjoy an overabundance of conversation with a group of people in a small area, I took dance lessons to get over my fear of looking like a fool at parties, I convinced myself I preferred the bar scene with all of my friends over the stay-at-home-and-read-a-book time. While I genuinely did learn to love all of these activities, a part of me always felt a little lost. Sometimes I really did just want to stay at home and read, or binge watch TV, or lock myself in my bedroom and crank my music for hours and hours.

So why did I work so hard to convince myself there was something better I could be doing with my time?

I had forgotten my language of quiet, and the importance of it for my health.

Photo courtesy of HoboNinja.com.

Cain explains that introverts are the majority in Asian countries, while Europe and North America are overrun by mostly extroverts. In our society, we believe that being in the spotlight is the only way to get noticed and get ahead in life. But some of us are getting burnt out with this ideal, and we’re lying to ourselves.

This year I didn’t make a new year’s resolution, but I promised myself I would go back to doing the things I wanted to do, like take it easy on the weekends, enjoy my solitude with my cat and novels or go on thoughtful walks/jogs. I didn’t realize until after I’d read “Quiet” that I was taking back control of my true self.

I have always mentally divided my life into two parts:

1. Before high school

2. After high school

Quiet shyness susan cain

Photo courtesy of MacGenesis.net.

Sometimes I find myself saying, “Hm, I’ve been more of my high school self lately.” I never really knew what I meant by that, but I always considered my high school self as “the better me.” The kinder, careful, more relaxed and self aware version of myself. In college there were days I had to work extra hard to calm myself and avoid a full on panic attack. Now I realize I had been forcing myself into a social situation overload for so long that the stress of it all was finally catching up with me. I had stopped considering who I was and what my needs were. I was just doing what I had to do to succeed and survive in this world.

There were nights I would come home from an eight-hour day of classes (I was required to participate in, of course), followed by attending a presentation I had to write about for the campus newspaper, followed by meetings for student organizations I ran, and finally back home where I would collapse on my bed for a solid minute, only to get a friend’s text message to join them out at the bar (which I always did). Cheers to doing it all over again the next day!

Susan Cain’s book has given me pride in the introvert I am:

  • I get my energy by being alone, not in large social settings.
  • As much as I love the occasional party, it will leave me exhausted and I will need to take the entire next day to recover (sorry).
  • I will always prefer gardening over hosting my friends at home or reading a novel over answering your phone call or returning your text message (but you’re still important to me).
  • While I will never turn down a live music concert to support my friends (it’s an extrovert hobby I could never give up), I will only stay out passed my bedtime on the weekends.
  • I will always want to choose my novel over your invitation, but I’m very happy to make an appearance for a few hours (I will leave when I’ve maxed out).

I have learned how to speak my language of quiet again, and I hope every introvert can find their way back, too.

alone

Kevin Smith is Tough as Shit

Jay_and_silent_bob

A few things Kevin Smith’s memoir Tough Shit: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good taught me:

1. Bruce Willis is a jackass!

2. I’m partially justified in hating Hollywood.

3. Swearing isn’t an uneducated or lazy American-English accent.

4. “Chubby-chasers” are a real thing.

* * *

Tough ShitThe first two are pretty self explanatory, so let’s start with number 3.

My dad taught me that curse words didn’t count as swear words unless you called someone a name. For example, “Bruce Willis is such a jackass!” Jackass would be considered a swear word in this case. But if I were to stub my toe and wail, “Cock-sucker-mother-fucker!” That entire sentence was just getting creative with curse words. Needless to say, swearing became a HUGE part of my vocabulary.

Then, my controlling ex-boyfriend told me I needed to quit swearing. He would say things like, “You’re a writer. Can’t you think of a more intelligent way to express your frustration?”

And I would reply, “No, I FUCKING can’t!”

Over the years, my dad forgot his little philosophy on swearing and started telling me, “Flea, it’s not lady-like to swear.”

_ _ _

This morning I reached a wonderful moment in Kevin Smith’s book:

Chapter Thirteen: Funny As Shit

“George Carlin was the first person who ever said fuck in my house. Back in the day, the movies didn’t feature that word too prominently; and nobody in my house was allowed to use vulgarity. But here was this intelligent, articulate, thinking man who wielded the word like a rapier–and that was suddenly permitted. The lesson: You can curse if you’ve got an impressive vocabulary to choose from. The conventional wisdom had always been, ‘People who swear are uneducated and lazy.’ This guy Carlin proved you can know a shit-ton of words–you could even command the English language like you’d found its magic lamp–and still opt to employ the occasional (or frequent) F-bomb. Someone cursing didn’t make my father laugh; someone cursing while being humorously truthful could make my father cry laughing. Duly noted.

GeorgeCarlinHappy1“And while [Carlin] seemed to revel in being a rebel, here was a man who also clearly loved the English language, warts and all–even the so-called bad words (although, as George would say, there are no such things as ‘bad words’–only bad intentions).”

Thank you George Carlin; thank you Kevin Smith for bringing this issue to my attention again. Who says women with a wide vocabulary can’t swear?

BOOM!

* * *

Chubby-chaser.

Kevin Smith brings this up several times in his memoir: “In much the same way my wife is a chubby-chaser–thus explaining how a hideous fucking CHUD such as myself can get some pussy as fine as Jen Schwalbach’s…”

It resonated with me since a few friends over the last year have brought it to my attention that I might fit into that category. I spent some time thinking about this and what it really means. So I’m being categorized as a chubby-chaser because a few of my past relationships were with someone who was overweight? Not everyone I dated fit into that realm, and even if they did, maybe I dated them because they were more interesting than your average B body type. Maybe it had nothing to do with weight.

Jen Schwalbach gets it. Do you?

Jen Schwalbach gets it. Do you?

Confession time: It didn’t have anything to do with weight. GASP! Perhaps we ought not to be thrown into the chubby-chaser category but the open-minded category instead: blind to color and gender … and weight.

Just like skin color shouldn’t matter, neither should weight. If you’re doing your best to be healthy, then fuck (that was necessary) those judgmental, skinny folks. They clearly miss out on meeting someone actually worth their time!

Chapter Twelve: The Shit That Happened On The Plane

When Kevin Smith was pulled off a Southwest Airlines flight because he was “Too Fat To Fly” for “safety reasons” and the convenience of other passengers, he bombed his Twitter feed with rage reviews as any normal, humiliated person of the 21st century would do. Lucky for him, he’s a celebrity so he got immediate response.

Silent Bob strikes back!

Eventually the manager of Southwest Airlines chased him down in the airport and sent him on another plane in hopes he’d stop tagging them on Twitter with negative messages. But they made another mistake. They stuck him up front with another heavy-set woman. A flight attendant pulled her aside for several minutes and when she returned to her seat, she was crying. So she and Kevin struck up a conversation and she told him that the flight attendant requested she purchased two tickets because she didn’t fit into one seat and that wasn’t fair to the other passengers.

"That's it! I've had enough of these mother-fuckin' Smiths on these mother-fuckin' planes!"

“That’s it! I’ve had enough of these mother-fuckin’ Smiths on these mother-fuckin’ planes!”

“They tried to make it about fat again, ever covering for the jackasses who colluded to get me off the plane. There was no reason for that flight attendant to have that conversation with that girl except to be a cunt. And the girl was telling me through tears, ‘I could still put the armrest down.’ We must’ve been quite a sight: a couple of chubsy-ubsies talkin’ about how proud we were that we could still buckle the seat belt without an extender, and you could tell it was the only shred of dignity we had left.”

Reading that just broke my heart. I don’t need to ask forgiveness for appreciating a little pudge in my life: a little life in my life.

Kevin Smith and all the other overweight people in the world should not have to face these discriminating acts. What makes this any different than a pilot removing someone from a flight because they look like a terrorist?

_ _ _

Why aren’t there stories of husky protagonists finding love and happy-ever-after? Have you ever thought about that? I’m sure all of your heavier friends have when they see these trim, model males always getting the girl. When a story does have a larger main character, there’s always something else in the forefront of the story to ignore the hero’s “fatcomings.”

The-Nutty-ProfessorFor example, in The Nutty Professor, humor is at the forefront. It is meant to poke fun at fat people, not find respect for them. It focuses on an obese man who creates a potion to make him magically turn into a B body type–fit and attractive … and arrogant. Boring, if you ask me.

Or how about Shrek? He’s an ogre. So right off the bat he’s an overweight monster, hidden behind onion layers of emotion. Same with Beauty and the Beast. The beast basically forces the beauty into loving him because he gives her no other options, but lucky for her, by the time she falls in love with him, he turns back into a sexy prince!

Finally, look at Charlotte and Harry in Sex and the City.

“All that’s left are the fatties and the baldies,” one woman says. Charlotte turns around looking for her baldy. You never see those girls date a fatty. Why not? With the personality they gave Harry’s character, he could have been bald, hairy AND fat and he still would have been one hell of a catch!

harry and charlotteNone of these stories are very kind to our fat friends. Where are their love stories?

Don’t shut someone down who has a great personality and is exactly what you’re looking for because he/she is overweight.

So much talent about

The Fox Cities Book Festival 2014 has come and gone, but my memories are still fresh with my friends’ talented works still on the tip of my eardrum. It was so exciting to see published friends share their work this year!

 

My dear friend from college, Nathan Reid, read his most recently published piece in UW-Fox Valley’s Fox Cry Review. With extra time to spare at the end of the event, Nate offered to show more of his talent. Something he’s picked up over the last few years and has excelled in quickly. He performed a spoken word poem. If you’re curious what that might sound like, you can listen on his website. They are brilliant, passionate pieces about seeking truth. He currently lives in Madison so it was a special treat to get to see him and hear his work again.

Nate and I on one of our random-catch-up days a few years ago.

Nate and I on one of our random-catch-up days a few years ago.

A Nathan J. Reid portrait. Photo courtesy of Ashley Beranek.

A Nathan J. Reid portrait. Photo courtesy of Ashley Beranek.

Nate reading his poem from Fox Cry Review during The Fox Cities Book Festival 2014.

Nate reading his poem from Fox Cry Review during The Fox Cities Book Festival 2014.

If you’re wondering how brilliant he really is, just read his About page; or, better yet, his poetry!

* * *

Then my editor/fiction professor/writing mentor/friend, Nikki Kallio, was presented the Mill Prize for her piece “Geography Lesson” at Atlas Coffee Mill. She was given a certificate and a chance to read a powerful snippet of her winning work. I got goosebumps and tears in my eyes knowing there was only one award left and her name was about to be called. There is never a more beautiful moment when someone you know gets everything they deserve.

Nikki and I at Atlas Coffee Mill before she received her prize.

Nikki and I at Atlas Coffee Mill before she received her prize.

Nikki sharing "Geography Lesson" after receiving first place in the Mill Prize at the Fox Cities Book Festival.

Nikki sharing “Geography Lesson” after receiving first place in the Mill Prize at the Fox Cities Book Festival.

Nikki has been an enormous inspiration in my writing. Shortly after I hit a low point, I signed up for a fiction class to bring life back into my soul and my writing. She happened to be the professor. All of her assignments brought out crazy stories I didn’t realize were in me. She is the reason I have started sending out my stories for publication. She has always been honest about my work and has helped me grow as a writer. I have so many things to thank her for. It was wonderful to see her accept an award that she so much deserves.

* * *

On Saturday I found my way to Atlas Coffee Mill again to do some writing of my own, but instead I attended Halimah Marcus’ presentation Electric Literature: Adapting the Literary Magazine for the Digital World. It was interesting and I wanted to learn more about her views of self-publishing since many of my writing friends have started using it to get their writing out there. I’ve been considering it lately myself. Halimah seemed a little tired after having to defend her views from some of the stubborn audience members so perhaps asking her questions was a bad idea, but I did. By the end of the conversation, she said, “Maybe your story just isn’t any good. There’s always that. Maybe it’s just bad story. Maybe you need to write a better one.”

My jaw dropped and that was that. I walked away fuming. No. Johnny Be Good; Johnny Be Rotten would be published. I was even more determined to make it happen. I have never felt so strongly about a story I’ve written in my life. But by the time I sat through Larry Watson‘s The Legacy of Loss: Fiction, Family and Religion presentation, I thought that perhaps she was right. Maybe there were parts that needed to be rewritten…

So I found my way back to the one place that I knew would spark my inspiration to edit Johnny: Harmony Cafe. I feel at home under Harmony’s roof and, therefore, my work flows. My fingers tweaked each word, each sentence right into the start of the Slam Poetry competition with Karla Huston.

Karla Huston at Harmony Cafe for the Slam Poetry with The Fox Cities Book Festival.

Karla Huston at Harmony Cafe for the Slam Poetry with The Fox Cities Book Festival.

The first poet of the night at the podium. He was one of the first place winners!

The first poet of the night at the podium. He was one of the first place winners!

It was made up mostly of high school students and a few older folks who stepped up to the podium. Random people in the audience were chosen as judges and the winners walked away with a box of macaroni & cheese. There’s nothing like food when you’re a starving artist!

I took a Vine video during the performance for Shop Local Appleton.

After the poetry slam, I continued editing up until the moment I heard the barista call “closing time!” I checked the clock. It was still early and I was not ready to ruin my editing streak so I asked for the best bar to continue working. Dr. Jekyll’s was her recommendation. Of course, Dr. Jekyll’s! Plus, my car was already parked in the back lot.

I found my way to a table with a Magners pear cider (just like I had in England) and continued editing. As soon as I finished, several people approached me. Each of them curious what I was working on. I was honest and since they were either Lawrence students and/or writers, too, it made for interesting conversation. But there was one group of guys at the bar that made my night complete. The social media specialist from Miles Kimball was celebrating his bachelor party, and I assume now that his buddies dared him to talk to me to get a picture for his future wife.

Yes, they got the picture.

Yes, we talked … about work!

I told him I was a social media specialist, too,  and he taught me more about my job than I knew before I entered that bar. I bought him a shot and headed home to meet my boyfriend who had just gotten out of work. Of course, I told him every detail of my day and then made him read my new version of Johnny. I was so nervous but he promised the changes were good but he was glad I kept the ending.

Cross your fingers the literary magazines feel the same way and publish it this round!

A Rockin’ Saturday Night: Writing Practice with NaNoWriMo

Photo of Natalie Goldberg courtesy of openroadmedia.com.

Photo of Natalie Goldberg courtesy of openroadmedia.com.

I participated in my first NaNoWriMo Writing Practice with about 100 other writers, or at least it would have been if there weren’t so many technical difficulties (the program’s fault for only allowing a certain amount of people on video/chatroom at a time). The writing practice style is in the form of Natalie Goldberg, an author, painter and teacher who changed the ideas of writing with a Zen-style practice. I pulled this bit from the Writing Practice Facebook page:

 

 

Natalie Godlbergs Rules of Writing Practice: (basically paraphrased).

RULES OF WRITING PRACTICE:

1) Keep the Hand moving: Natalie promoted writing by hand, as it was different from typing on a computer, or typewriter. It is, you connect with a different part of your brain. It is a tactile difference, with the feel of the pen.

2) Do not stop to edit. Do not cross out, leave words misspelled,

3) Go with first thoughts-even if you can’t think of anything, say, “I can’t think of anything.” If you say it enough, you will come up with something!

4) Go for the jugular- do not censor your writing (after all, this is practice, and you don’t have to show it if you don’t want to!

5) You are free to write the worst crap in the world (universe/galaxy).

"The True Secret of Writing" by Natalie Goldberg. Photo courtesy of nataliegoldberg.com.

“The True Secret of Writing” by Natalie Goldberg. Photo courtesy of nataliegoldberg.com.

It intrigued me but I would have forgotten all about it if it wasn’t for the Facebook message update with the first writing prompt. I quickly signed myself into their Google+ video chat and Chatzy chatroom to begin writing. I was surprised how much and what came out of me.

Here’s what happened:

Writing Prompt #1: (I missed what this was titled and did a freestyle of the first thing that came to me.) “From Caffeine to the Creative Mind: Pimp Your Red Wagon”

The thickness of the cold freezes the veins in my face, making it feel as though I have a cold headache from drinking a milkshake from Tom’s Drive-In too quickly. The hunger in my stomach aches with a fierceness you’d think I was a starving African child of the desert when in reality it’s the steroids the doctors prescribed me this winter to ease my migraines from the bitter cold. I take my pills without a fight because they are the only thing keeping me from punching my body elsewhere to draw the pain from my head. Nearly twenty minutes go by and I feel the stiffness in my neck and back as the steroids work their way into my system. The worst part, though, are the twitching muscles in my legs and arms as though my blood vessels want to escape from my body.

I finally make it back into the house and my head is already pounding as my blood thaws and begins flowing at a normal rate again. I sit down on the couch, then lie down, the sit up, then pace the house and repeat until the pressure in my head decreases. I wait for my boyfriend to get home from work. He is the only one with the real cure for my headches: A Vodka Gimlet with green olives – although I’m sure the green olives only make me dehydrated and stuffy. As soon as he puts the drink in front of me on a Superman coaster I snatch it up and take large sips. The burning in the back of my throat opens my nasal passages and I sigh in relief.

 

Writing Prompt #2: Where do you find inspiration?

I find my inspiration through love. Whether my heart is broken or I’ve broken someone’s heart or a friend is hurting, a new love, an old love. Doesn’t matter. I get my inspiration to write from romance. I grew up reading my mother’s romance novels and it sent me on a whirlwind of emotions, trying to grasp what love and sex and the war of it all meant. I looked up the word love in the dictionary but it was too scientific and I knew even as a child that it didn’t explain the emotions that clung to it.

Then I fell in love. I remember the precise moment, too. I was working at my daycare center job, owned by my boyfriend’s mother, Anne. She’d hired me on the spot because we’d already known each other for years. I’d spent most of my time working with the three year olds and up, and the idea of working in the baby room was terrifying and I begged her every month not to send me there. But she forced me during the summer, saying I had to get used to it and figure out how to not be petrified when a teacher would ask me to hold an infant in my quaky arms.

In the end, it was my favorite room of them all, even though I no longer got to spend time outside with the older kids. One day, my boyfriend Edmund came to help fix a broken vacuum cleaner and peeked in at me with the babies. I was in a rocking chair feeding one of my favorite babies Wyatt when I saw him standing there smiling at me from the doorway. My heart skipped a beat as I studied his greasy fingers and soft Speed Racer T-shirt full of dust. He waved his large, masculine hand at me and I felt something I’d never felt before. My entire body felt weak. I smiled and waved with my elbow, looking down at Wyatt’s precious innocent face and then back into Edmund’s eyes. He had the longest eyelashes against the bluest eyes. And that’s when I fell completely in love with him. There was no denying it to anyone. If I lost him, I thought I would surely die. But I did lose him, and then I knew what heartbreak felt like. It took me nearly 6 years to get over him, just in time for his wedding day. A part of me still gags at the thought of his first child on the way. But so far he has not had any offspring and part of me hopes it never happens, or at least I don’t have to know about it. Ever. I blame the way I fell in love with him for that. Because, of course, as someone I will always care very much about, of course, I want him to be able to have children if that is what would make him most happy. I just prefer not to know about it.

My writing since that heartbreak increased daily. I have since fallen away, but for those excruciating 6 years  I wrote fiction and non-fiction stories. Hybrids and poems. I wrote our story so many different ways I don’t even know which ones are true any more. That may be the most tragic part of it all.

* * *

Now these are unedited pieces and I’m not even sure that they will make any sense and that’s OK! I will try my best not to delete this post after I publish it. Even though I’m realizing, right now, that I haven’t shared any of my writing pieces on this blog yet. :::nibbles on fingernails:::

I enjoyed being able to see other writers’ faces and hear their work read aloud. I felt brave enough to share the first paragraph of my first prompt. It was a productive first try and I plan to continue spending at least part of my Saturday nights on these writing prompts!

A huge thank you to Lisa and Callie who helped make tonight possible for their fellow writing friends!

 

Measure Life in Bookmarks on Google+ with several fellow writers.

Measure Life in Bookmarks on Google+ with several fellow writers.

Sharing Stories

When I am hanging out with people — family, friend, acquaintance — I persuade them to watch “My Favorites,” meaning my favorite stories in film. (Most of my friends reading this are probably giggling right now.) Since I know I can’t get everyone to take weeks to read the novels, I always share the films. If I can get them to read the novel, EVEN BETTER!

The top five stories I love to share:

1. The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)

“Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome. Do your worst, for I will do mine! Then the fates will know you as we know you.” — Alexandre Dumas

Photo courtesy of www.movie-roulette.com.

Photo courtesy of www.movie-roulette.com.

 

2. Pride & Prejudice (2005 — most people aren’t ready to take on the three hour 1995 BBC version)

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” — Jane Austen

Photo courtesy of www.moviemezzanine.com

Photo courtesy of www.moviemezzanine.com

 

3. Jane Eyre (2011)

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” — Charlotte Bronte

Photo courtesy of www.novelreaction.com.

Photo courtesy of www.novelreaction.com.

 

4. V for Vendetta (2005 — I have never read the novel)

“Behind this mask there is more than just flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea… and ideas are bulletproof.” — Alan Moore

Photo courtesy of www.findingzenwithcancer.com.

Photo courtesy of www.findingzenwithcancer.com.

 

Last but certainly not least …

5. Wuthering Heights (2009 — Tom Hardy plays the BEST Heathcliff)

“Oh! you said you cared nothing for my sufferings! And I pray one prayer – I repeat it till my tongue stiffens –Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living; you said I killed you – haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderers, I believe. I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always – take any form – drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!” — Emily Bronte

Photo courtesy of www.knightleyemma.com.

Photo courtesy of www.knightleyemma.com.

 

Watch or read some of these stories for yourself and get back to me!

Clipped Arts

Visit http://www.etsy.com/shop/ClippedArts for more of Shari's masterpieces for sale!

Visit http://www.etsy.com/shop/ClippedArts for more of Shari’s masterpieces for sale!

 

Thank you, Shari Wittman for all of your creativity and generosity!
These earring will go great with my literature necklace.

And look! They’re Jane Eyre and Pride & Prejudice novels!
A Bronte and an Austen.
What more could you want?

Book Approved

It has arrived, ladies and gentlemen.

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My new Bestca BookBook iPhone 4s case ordered from Amazon.com.

 

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 Amazon.com.

My new Bestca BookBook iPhone 4s case ordered from Amazon.com.

 

Child Vision Goggles

It’s about time I start utilizing my library card! It seems strange that someone like me who reads every available second rarely visits the library, but since I collect books it was hard to justify reading a good one and then not having it to add to my own library (three bookshelves now!)

Photo courtesy of the Boys and Girls Club of the Fox Valley Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of the Boys and Girls Club of the Fox Valley Facebook page.

However, I couldn’t get myself to purchase all the children’s books I was contemplating reading. The idea to read more children’s books came to me over the hours I spent at an elementary school, working for the Boys and Girls Club. I started remembering the way my mind saw the world when I was younger: so innocent, so naive, and everything about it was exciting and I never sat around worrying what was to come or leave. I think even the choices I made as a child were more noble then some of the ones I’ve made as an adult.

My students, the 20 or so Kindergarteners, are always looking for attention games to bring them back to the present moment; otherwise, they are an angry bird, or a pet, or a mommy and a daddy, or a wizard, or a super hero. And some just want to push my buttons by playing on the expensive musical instruments and band stands around the room (because someone thought it was a good idea to put the Kindergarteners in the Music room).

Photo courtesy of www.millvalleylibrary.net.

Photo courtesy of www.millvalleylibrary.net.

One student drew on the piano with pen to get my attention, but to her it was worth being talked to for those few minutes when I had to scold and explain why what she did was not OK. She didn’t need to worry about the price of the piano. She didn’t need to worry about forking over the bills. She didn’t need to worry about hurting the Music teachers feelings or mine. She fulfilled a single need, the only need she had at that moment: eye contact. If she’d made that mistake again as an adult, she would have been fined hundreds of dollars or at least paid for the cost of cleanup. And what needs as an adult could she say she needed fulfilled after a vandalism act like that? The same one? It definitely wouldn’t fly.

I decided that my life was missing a big part of literature as an adult. Reading novels like The Giver are completely different when you read them as a child vs. as an adult. So, I began with a few random authors, including Neil Gaiman. But then I rediscovered Lois Lowry. I am not a fan of her really young fiction books, like the Sam and Anastasia books, but the junior high age, such as Number the Stars, The Giver, A Summer to Die, and Autumn Street are beautiful stories.

Reading children’s literature as an adult has opened a different chapter to my reading/writing career.