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Falls woman pens two books based on true events

Former journalist draws from life experiences to write books

March 23, 2013

Menomonee Falls - During her career as a journalist writing soft features about life in Menomonee Falls, one story stuck with Falls resident and Creative Writing Instructor at WCTC Gail Grenier Sweet for more than two decades.

The story was about "Dog Woman," a Falls resident who lived in a farm house with her 33 Siberian Huskies. When a big corporation bought the land her home stood on, the woman's life and mental stability began to unravel.

It took three months for Grenier Sweet to research the newspaper article that was printed in 1990 and piece together the life of the "dog woman." Though she was able to find out details about the life of a struggling woman who found happiness and later tragedy, the dog woman was never far from Grenier Sweet's mind.

Story tackles slew of issues

"I felt such compassion for this woman. She was mentally ill, but I think if she would have been left alone she would have been fine and her dogs would have been fine, so being evicted was the one step that unraveled everything and it's kind of an American tragedy," Grenier Sweet said.

It was that compassion that led Grenier Sweet to sit down and write the details of the story that has never left her. Ultimately, the book entitled "Dog Woman," was written, which is a blend of fiction and nonfiction. In the book, the "Dog Woman "meets a young boy who is dealing with his own issues, such as bullying at school, and a strong bond of friendship is formed.

"It's a sad story, but it's not downbeat," Grenier Sweet said. "It's uplifting. It shows how friendship can transform tragedy."

Grenier Sweet felt a large weight lifted off her shoulders when she finished the last page of the book in 2011, finally being able to share this story with others.

"Dog Woman," she said is a good read for strong readers as young as fifth grade, as well as adults as it tackles issues that all age groups can relate to from a death in the family to alcohol abuse and mental illness.

One book leads to another

Though the author had a feeling of relief after she finished "Dog Woman," the sadness of the woman's story lingered. So, Grenier Sweet decided to tackle a nonfiction, humorous story called "Don't Worry Baby."

This book was written for her children, to give a glimpse of what life was like living in 1970s Milwaukee.S

"I wanted them to see what it was like. They don't know a world with no cellphones, no computers - coffee cost a dime. Everything was so cheap. I really wrote with my kids in mind," she said.

The story spans one-month and follows a couple in their first month of marriage as they decide to head south and "live off the land." The story is based off the true escapades that Grenier Sweet and her husband encountered in their first month of marriage.

"Everything that could go wrong did," she said. "It's one month of disasters and love."

Book proceeds benefit charity

A portion of book proceeds will benefit the HOPE Network, a Falls-based nonprofit organization that was founded by Grenier Sweet in 1982. A HOPE Network helps single mothers with expenses such as cribs and scholarships.

Both books are available on Amazon, Kindle, Martha Merrell's Bookstore, 231 West Main St., in Waukesha, and at the author's website gailgreniersweet.com. Search "Gail Grenier," to find the book on Amazon or Kindle.

She also has a blog called Gail Grenier Here that can be viewed at gailgrenier.blogspot.com.

WHAT'S NEXT?

WHAT: book signing and presentation at Optimist Club meeting

WHEN: 7:15 a.m. May 29

WHERE: Menomonee Falls Community Center, N8645 Margaret Road

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