You Don’t Own Me

At a time in our country when facts are alternative and grabbing women by the p***y without consent is acceptable, standing in line to meet Margaret Atwood has become important.

Margaret Atwood author

Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale, signed my copy at UntitledTown Book and Author Festival in Green Bay.

I did just that on Sunday, April 30 at the UntitledTown Book and Author Festival in Green Bay.

Margaret Atwood author

Margaret Atwood signed my copy of The Handmaid’s Tale at UntitledTown.

In case you haven’t read the book or watched the new TV series on Hulu, I highly recommend both! Book first, though. Always.

Then this:


The Wuthering Heights Edition

A few years ago, I began collecting editions of Emily Bronte’s novel Wuthering Heights. Some were gifts from family and friends and others seemed to find me on their own.

My co-worker Kayla brought me this special treat that she found at Barnes & Noble!

Ain’t she a beauty?

Wuthering Heights


Here are some of my other favorite editions:

Reading Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte


Wuthering Heights Editions


More Wuthering Heights Editions


What books do you collect?




Kevin Smith is Tough as Shit


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?


* * *


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.

Autumn: A Time For Reading, A Time For Writing

Autumn is the time of year when I can snuggle up with my favorite novels, such as Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters, with the smell of pumpkin and apple candles burning as I’m wrapped up in my favorite blankets, keeping my feet and neck warm in slippers and scarves. While I dread the onset of winter and the crows that hover outside the window, there’s something comforting about the seasons changing.

Autumn leaves

Autumn weather gives me inspiration to write.

A woman from my writing group told me she couldn’t stand the weather come Fall because that was the start of her decrease in inspiration. But September and October are my favorite months out of the year. I love the fire-painted leaves and the fat rodents stuffing their stretchy cheeks with acorns for the winter. My white Christmas lights go on every night without making me sweat, my candle scents cover the stale air, my 1950s Swing Era albums playing on my record player, and hot tea and coffee warming my insides as I enjoy every bit of my surroundings.

A combination of these things give me inspiration and motivation to crank out my best stories. Even when I’m snuggled ready to read in my burnt orange reading chair, all I can think about is my next story. Eventually I put my book down and focus on studying my own words.

Autumn: It is a time for reading; it is a time for writing.

Autumn God exists

A graphic I created for one of my clients to celebrate the first day of Autumn.

What season inspires you and your writing?


Bird By Bird

Reading Anne Lamott's Bird By Bird, which I picked up from PBX in Neenah.

Reading Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird, which I picked up from PBX in Neenah.

I stopped into Paperback Book Exchange in Neenah today to get my Shop Local Bookstore fix. The owner, Tina, set aside a book she’d recommended to me a few months ago: Anne Lamott‘s Bird By Bird.

This visit helped me realize that the best way to shop for books is in a small town at a small, local bookstore. Everyone knows Tina and enjoys sharing their stories. One woman who came in recognized me and said how much she enjoyed reading my blog. That was my first compliment from a “stranger!” Such a neat thing when someone, somewhere is out there reading my writing and enjoying themselves.

Thank you to all those awesome readers and bookstore owners who help other readers and writers!

Tina and I also discovered we love the same painting.

The painting A Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1776) that I found at St. Vincent de Paul.

The painting A Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1776) that I found at St. Vincent de Paul.

Her mother had always had a copy hung in their home and I’d discovered mine for $3 at a thrift store! How ironic? Two book lovers have the same taste in art.

Two Birds. One Painting.


Just Shopping While I Work

:::Whistles rest of tune:::

Today, I explored Downtown Appleton’s Holiday Open House where all the local businesses on the College Avenue strip decorated their windows for Christmas and offered customers free samples of goodies ranging from hot cocoa and apple cider to cookies and gluten-free pizza. The City Center Plaza even had musicians from Mile of Music performing at the main entrance to support the Green Gecko Grocer and Deli.

My first stop was Studio 213 LLC where the old books at the back of the store are Buy 1 Book Get 1 FREE (of equal or lesser value). AMAZING! I just thought I’d browse since it was the first time I’d noticed a deal on the books and what do I find?!

The Count of Monte Cristo 1946 edition at Studio 213 LLC.

The Count of Monte Cristo 1946 edition at Studio 213 LLC.

Yes, that’s right! A 1940s edition of The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. I am poor so I should have put it back on the shelf, but considering it is one of my favorite stories of all time, I HAD to have it.

Two books I found at Studio 213 make for an ironic purchase.

Two books I found at Studio 213 make for an ironic purchase.

Then I found a book on the history of Napoleon Bonaparte…

For those who have read the novel or watched the film, who finds this ironic and almost hilarious that I left with the two of these?


Congratulations, Alice Munro!

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Alice Munro won the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature.


I always get excited when an author I studied in college wins an award like this. 🙂

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.

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!

* * *

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!