Happy Mother's Day -- "I'm Glad My Mom Died" Review

First off, my mother is alive and well, praise God! Now that I'm home in California, I get to spend Mother's Day with her and my son, so that's happy!!

The title refers to the Jenette McCurdy book that I just finished. This book, despite the name, is a love letter to her mother. Even if she doesn't realize it, Jenette obviously loved her mother despite her mother's obvious mental illness. That mental illness showed up as cruelty and abuse in Jenette's life. There are some really profound lessons that I encourage others to read -- even if you've never had any abuse in your nearby vicinity. Looking for the clues will help make you a better citizen of the world.

I also think anyone who judges abuse victims as weak or pathetic, needs to pick up this book to learn how it really is. Jenette didn't know she was abused. She didn't understand Mom's diet tips would lead to eating disorders. The list goes on and on. 

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Anyone who says, "Why didn't you just leave?" clearly doesn't understand that the real prison of abuse is in the victim's minds. They have been groomed and brainwashed to believe this behavior is normal and worse yet, they deserve it. So why would they seek anything different? It's like how they chain a baby elephant to a chain.  The massive giant elephant doesn't try to break free, though they could.  They have learned that they are stuck on the chain and can't move.

Abuse victims don't know what freedom looks like, nor would they understand how to navigate it. Abuse is familiar. They understand the rules of being abused, of calming down a raging person. Jenette learned all the little tricks to make her mother happy, and she felt when her mother STILL threw a tantrum landed on her, not Mom. SHE was responsible for her mother's failings. The way she describes this in real time, as she didn't know she was being harmed is really eye-opening.

If you've seen the show on Nickelodeon during its wonder years (Quiet On The Set, The Dark Side of Kids TV) you know that Jeanette didn't just incur verbal and emotional abuse at home, but also on set. 

Also, the most dangerous time for a victim is when they leave an abuser, so it stands to reason that victims stay at take it. Much of the time staying in abuse keeps them alive -- but not abundantly as Jesus wants us to live. It leaves them in survival mode.

I think we can look at the current news on the "Pastor's" wife, Micah Miller's suicide and see that even when she had escaped, she hadn't really. Her husband's words still haunted her. Micah's belief system that she was nothing without him, and would never get free of him led her to commit suicide, allegedly.

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This is a hill I will die on.  Abuse is far too prevalent in our churches and as Christians, we must stand up against it. We have to stop believing words and start looking at actions. If someone only does their good works in front of people, that's a good sign.  Another obvious characteristic in Micah Miller's marriage of abuse was that he wasn't done disparaging her when she was dead. He continued to talk about her mental health and her "issues" in a sermon the day after her death. No REAL man/husband does that.  They protect their wife even when it costs them something. IMHO, that was John Paul setting up himself as the victim. The poor pastor married to a mental patient, so he had to break free to do the Lord's work. The more he destroys Micah's reputation, the more it makes sense he needed another wife. A better wife. 

BALONEY! I knew a man of God once who was married to a woman with mental illness. She was in and out of institutions depending on her health and when someone asked him in front of me, why he stayed with her, he said, "Have you met her? How could anyone not love her?" 

Pastor Miller has had felony charges in the past, and was on his way to a THIRD wedding with a woman younger than him. Keep in mind, he was still married to Micah while planning this future with his girlfriend. You're going to allow your pastor to have a THIRD wife when he's not even out of his 40's?

Micah was also in his teen group when he was the youth pastor.  She was 14 years old! Why are we allowing men like this in the pulpit? No one is perfect, but we need to look for behavior patterns and hold pastor's to a higher standard.

He was separated.

He had a girlfriend.

He had five children he left for Micah.  

On what earth was this man qualified to be a pastor? He'd also had a felony in his background

Come on, churches, USE your discerners.  Find them, and listen to them! We look like absolute fools as believers when we let these charlatans into our midst and allow them to use God's name to commit their atrocities. Also, you can't just allow someone to say "I'm sorry you're hurt" or the like over their actions. True repentance needs to be present to allow them back into the fold. We all know what a little yeast does to the dough!

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Back to Jenette's book. Jenette McCurdy may have lost her mother, but sadly, she hasn't lost the woman's haunting voice in her head. That will be with her for a lifetime, and up to Jenette to overcome it in the moment. I really loved her book. It has a lot of insight. My takeaway is abuse fundamentally changes who people are. As believers, we have to be more aware, and not be afraid to stand up for what's right! Abuse stays with the victim long after the actual abuse is over. 

 

 

 


California or bust!

My house officially goes on the market this week so I can move back home near my family. I am really looking forward to being back in the world I know.  I have never written normally nor consistently in Arizona. Maybe because I'm not quite myself here. I feel lost without my lifetime friends -- who put up with me and my quirks. I miss knowing where everything is, and how things work -- which I have never quite figured out here.  

It's not Arizona. Arizona is lovely. It's me. I live in the best neighborhood. There are a ton of parks. I can walk my dog at midnight, and the dog park is top tier here for my fur babies. Getting back to California will be a hard adjustment as I navigate where to live, but I do think it's going to be better for my writing. I miss my snarky self. Californians seem to get my humor.

Have you ever lived somewhere that stunted your personality? Or is that just me? Everything in Arizona is pretty perfect -- except it's not home. Have you ever lived somewhere you didn't belong? 

Anyway, the realtor took the real estate pictures this week and I had to laugh at my closet. If you look to the left, there are three signed posters of Adam Ant. I don't know why that cracks me up, but it's just so random that a grown woman has her high school idol pics on the wall. 

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I took this pic of Adam at the Saratoga Winery in California. 


Visits to Costco are good for my ego...

I have a Costco very close to me. It just opened. I go there for gas and for those amazing chickens for my dogs. So unlike most people at Costco, I'm never buying very much at once. Therefore, I go through the self-checkout line. Well, a lot of times there is someone there to help you and they jam through your cart like it's nothing. So last week when I was there, this older woman working the register said, "Oh girl, let me get that for you. You're too cute to check." I mean, light me up, that was so sweet. But she was also adorable, so that wasn't exactly true. 

Today, I go in and I buy some Mucinex for my son.  Apparently, that is one of those "watched" products so they have to put my birthdate in.  Well, the guy who is checking for me makes one up. Because it's clear I'm older than dirt and he says, "I put in 1987."

I laughed and said, I graduated from high school before that, but bless your heart. So now, when I'm feeling bad about myself and I'm not at my word count, I'm going to wander over to Costco and get me a daily dose of Costco Charisma.

Incidentally, I wanted to share that my brain was finally back this week and I wrote like I used to write.  Fast, and without a bunch of edits. I just finished the chapter so I could come back to the fixes later. Yay! 

IMG_0567When I move, I'm not going to be near a Costco, so my dog is really going to be suffering and wishing for the scorching land that is Arizona. 

 


#NewCover for "Under a Neon Moon" Coming Soon for Preorder

Have you ever seen an animal trapped in a corner and they don't know which way to go?  That is completely me when I'm overwhelmed with decisions. I have some big decisions to make and that has messed with my writing time.  I used to be so good at multi-tasking, but apparently, that skill has gone by the wayside, along with my tiny waist. 

I am working on two books right now. One is the third book in the Pacific Avenue Series.  I have loved working on this series because there were no rules. I wrote it the way I wanted it. Not with a neat little bow at the end, but with characters grappling with life (and people) as it is.  Sometimes people -- even in the church -- are rotten in the home and I wanted to address that hypocrisy for all the readers out there who have had to make family where they can find it--because their own is less than perfect. 

I'm also working on a Christmas redemption story set in Lake Tahoe, CA. It's always such a tightrope walk to make a character problematic, but likable. I'm grappling with that now. I like her, but I tend to love problematic, authentic people. Anyway, here is the new cover with the back cover copy for Under a Neon Moon:

In San Francisco society, QUINN WENTWORTH is renowned for her dazzling fashion sense and
captivating charisma. But when her mother’s scandalous past and her father’s notorious reputation
shatter her glamorous life, Quinn must escape the relentless media attention and find her true path. If
only she possessed actual life skills!


After being kicked out of her prestigious English riding club, Quinn finds an unlikely rescuer in cowboy
veterinarian Shane McCarthy. Seeing beyond Quinn’s starlike exterior, Shane offers to shelter her
beloved horse on his ranch, though it’s a world away from her turbulent life in the city. Although they
go together like Chanel and Carhartt, their undeniable chemistry forces Quinn to reevaluate her
stance on marriage. Perhaps unconditional love does exist . . .


Join Quinn and the Wentworth sisters in a charming new love story about the pursuit of genuine
connection in a world that’s looking for the next photo op.

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Cruising the world...

I have cousins and friends who LOVE cruises. Sign them up for domestic, International and even, river cruises. They make me feel...stuck. Trapped. So while I'm envious of my peeps on these fantastic vacations, I wonder what I'm missing. One issue is I like to see one place well, rather than a ton of places with brief stops.

Anyhow, today an ad came up for a European River cruise, and I'm not going to lie. I'm tempted by that. It seems low-key. Made more for the introvert who might get lost in a book while on our way to the next destination.  While on the site, I discovered there is a "longitudinal cruise" that beings in Buenos Aires and finishes in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That's seriously intense. To go from one pole to another essentially. Get this, it starts at $44, 950K. My first thought it how many life-altering handbags I could get for that price. (Maybe only one if I loved the Birkin, but thankfully, I do not. )

While I have no interest in this cruise, I would love to meet the people who go on it. Don't you think they'd be fascinating?  Like their lives would make great novels!  These people not only have the big money to vacation as they please, but they're learners. They have a need to see for themselves and I think that's so interesting. My buddy Colleen Coble is on a book tour, and she's been in Charleston and Beaufort, South Carolina. She texted me and said it didn't feel the same without me there ( because I love Charleston so much) and I thought, yeah, I should be there.  That got me thinking about vacation and here we are. Daydreaming while I'm working.  And yes, I did write a little in between this ADD diversion. Anyway, if Denise Hunter tours the south, she may be stuck with me. I don't know what it is about the romance of the southern United States, but I just feel connected to it.  The Civil War is such a tragic era, but it fascinates me. 

I have done the Mississippi Queen cruise and I did really enjoy that one. I've thought about cruising Alaska because I love nature -- but from a well-appointed balcony.  I have no desire to come face-to-face with a Grizzly or even a moose, if I'm honest. Same reason I'd rather cruise the Viking Fjords. Nature. But at a distance.

For some reason, my biggest fear is being murdered in a tent.  Since I haven't been in a tent since I was in my late 20's, I'm not sure where this ridiculous fear comes from, but camping and me are a big no.  In fairness, when I was in high school, it was the era/setting of the "Night Stalker" and the beautiful redwoods I used to visit every month when my kids were little had people murdered in their tents. It was the era of tent murders, what can I say? Add to that all the "Datelines" I've seen and it's quite a reasonable fear. 

Anyway, do you have any plans for summer travel? I wonder if I'd be happier with a new Loewe Puzzle bag. After the year I've had, I'm thinking it's bigger than a new handbag. 

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"Where's the next book?"

If you're asking that question about my book, first off, thank you.  I appreciate that anyone cares and I love hearing from my readers that they do miss hearing my voice.  What a blessing! The easiest explanation is I've had "monkey brain" which is what I call my ADHD when there is too much going on.  I've been torn between responsibilities at home in California and at home in Arizona. Neither one of which includes writing and that needs to change. This is my resolution for 2024.  Finishing books again is my priority. (BIC -- Butt in Chair is a necessity.)  I don't like the person I am when I don't write. It's too much a part of me, and it's all right to make that a priority. 

I'm working on the next book in the Pacific Avenue series and while the third one has been the hardest for me to complete, I think it's my favorite so far.  I just love dealing with the dysfunctional family dynamics and how the same person can be different people, depending on the audience. Authentic people are my vibe. I don't understand people who change their personalities for an audience. They fascinate me and I wanted  to explore narcissistic personality traits in fiction. I know we all have narcissistic traits, but if you've ever been around a person with true narcissistic personality disorder, it will have you questioning your sanity. I wanted to explore that from the perspective of the children of narcs.  That's how the Pacific Avenue Series started. I know it sounds depressing, but to me, it's not. Children of narcs continue to thrive in this world and overcome! Thank you, Jesus!

I have the cover for the new book and I'm going to debut it here soon. But I love Quinn's story because she's been raised to be a carbon copy of her narcissistic mother. Figuring out she's been on the wrong journey was fun for me. How I love a redemption arc!  I took a break writing Quinn because of a request from my agent for a bigger publisher. It will help me to go back to traditional publishing. When you've been doing things a certain way for 30 years, it's not easy to do it differently. Self-publishing is a lot when you're an old dog constantly learning new tricks -- especially with monkey brain. But if that's what God has for me, I'll keep doing it. 

I've been at my parents' house in California for about a month -- and I bought a new laptop here because my old one is missing keys. Let me just say you have no idea how much you use the letter "A" until you can't anymore. So check back here for the new cover. My word for 2024 is CONSISTENCY! How about you? Any resolutions you want to make public? 

P.S. As a testimony to my dedication to "consistency" I am sitting at my parents' dining room table with David Crowder blasting in my noise canceling EarPods to drown out my brother's CONSISTENT talking. : )

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#Wonka Vision...

I finally saw "Wonka" and I'm a new Timothee Chalamet fan.  I thought he was fantastic as "Wonka" and I liked his upbeat, Disneylike version. I figure Willy Wonka wouldn't be so cynical just yet as a young man so that worked for me. He hadn't been through the "Oompa Loompa Wars" as yet.  ; )

I loved Hugh Grant's Oompa Loompa. He's such a fantastic curmudgeon and I do wish there were more scenes with him in it. The movie is a prequel to the original showing Wonka's origin story, which I thought was very creative.  The weak spot for me was the "Noodle" character.  She's adorable and she can sing, but it pulled me out of the fantasy at bit. The "chocolate cartel" did that as well. However, I loved the "Da Vinci Code" version of keeping candy secrets. It was delightfully weird. Wonka is worth a watch, but I probably won't see it again -- which is my measure for a great film. Images

I'll post a writing update next. I know it seems that I've gone AWOL and don't care a smidgen about my readers, but I promise you, that's not true. It just FEELS true.  Blessings on the New Year. Come on 2024! Get us out of this world where Biff goes back in time with the sports stats and bring us back to the future!


Enjoying Life's Simple Pleasures...

I love Thanksgiving! People are around. Family is a priority and life's little pleasures pile up like Fall leaves. This week, my friend Colleen was in town, so we got to get pedicures together with her daughter and Cheryl. (AKA writer Hannah Alexander) What a fun day! 

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Yesterday, my son Jonah and I got lunch at Cracker Barrel and he took me to the airport. Once in California, my son Seth picked me up and took me to the Olive Garden. Now, I can count on one hand how many times I've been to the Olive Garden, but I will never understand the hate this place gets. It was lovely. I took this pic and sent to everyone saying, "When you're here, you're family." Because I'm cliche and basic like that. But two meals with 50% of my kids, that is a win for one day!

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This morning, I woke up and like he does every time I'm here, my dad drove me to Starbucks. It makes my brother thankful I'm here because he gets Starbucks when I come. Then, comes the enjoyment of sibling rivalry.  My brother is developmentally disabled and no matter how old we get, we will fight over a chair. It doesn't matter which chair I'm sitting in, my brother will want it. And my brother. Is. Relentless!! If I move, he'll come find me and need that chair. It's especially annoying when I have my computer out and I'm working, but it's the dance we do and truthfully, I appreciate the simple fun of it. It's like an ongoing, decades long game of Musical Chairs.

Finally, two of my childhood besties are here this week, so I get to see them and giggle. Nothing better than childhood friends who know you so well. Then, my mom and I will catch up on "The Crown" and maybe a few House Hunters episodes.  We'll do a Ravensburger puzzle or two...

So you can see why Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Oh, I forgot to add one: My mom makes homemade cranberry sauce, but I make her get the canned kind too, and leave the indents in it -- because it makes me happy. I eat both, but it's a small gesture that lets me know there is love in the world. 

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What simple pleasures will you appreciate this week?

 


"The Holdovers" Movie

I went to see "The Holdovers" movie. I've been a Paul Giamatti fan since "Big Fat Liar." My kids loved that movie and he's so great in it as the Hollywood villain. He was fantastic in this movie as well. This is really an homage to classic Hollywood movie making. It's a STORY based on characters and they drive the plot. The plot doesn't drive them. I think Hollywood has lost its own plot when it comes to film-making. It's no longer based on great characters but rather what CGI kick-butt character is in the Marvel Universe. Granted, I don't see Superhero movies so I'm biased. But it was nice to go to a theater and see an actual movie that moved me. 

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It's got a few adult themes that are not for the Hallmark movie crowd, so if you're looking for light-hearted holiday fare, this probably isn't it. But I loved the rag-tag family that was created from these characters as they struggled with their separate reasons for being alone on Christmas. The young student in the movie is played by Dominic Sessa and he is fantastic. He really commands the screen and I hope he has a long career ahead of him. (Off to IMDB to find out if he's been in a 100 Marvel movies and I have no idea.)

Okay, just looked him up. He's never been in a  movie before. He was discovered at a prep school (Deerfield) while researching the movie. I love stories like that. Here's the article in "Town & Country" if you're interested. Anyway, everyone in this movie is a star. Every character is fully-formed and has their own story arc. If you like good, old-fashioned movie storytelling, this is a good one. 

Warning: There is adult language in this movie and some tough scenes to watch emotionally since it takes place during the Vietnam era. Next up for me, "Wonka" when it's out. Are you excited about any new movies coming out? Sounds like we may be having the last good ones for a season until the writers' strike ends. Come on, Hollywood, pay your writers! AI won't cut it! Films need humanity to work!

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Home to California & Family

Well, I'm off to home for Thanksgiving. I'll be checking out houses (read: shacks) that I can move into now that my son is finished with college. It's been very difficult for me to write in Arizona. I have no idea why. I have a lovely office and only two dogs here all day.  

I used to write for two or three hours a day with four kids and their sports' schedules. Maybe I miss the constant chaos and I have to learn to deal with the quiet. It's a strange phenomenon. I think part of it is I miss my people. I miss people who get my snarky humor and don't hold it against me. I don't think most Arizonans know how to take my humor. My writer friends do, naturally.  They've known I've been quirky all along. Writers were never the "normal" ones at school I don't think. I think writers fall somewhere between the drama kids and marching band kids.

But I'm talking about new people. Not sure they're ready for quirky Kristin. And when you get to be my age, I'm not great at editing myself. Like my son said, "You'd make more friends if you stopped wearing 49er gear everywhere." And maybe that's true, but if I want to support my man Bosa, I'm going to do it. I figure I'm just weeding out the people who think Californians caused all their problems.

Newsflash America: We got bought out first in California. With cash offers for million dollar homes. The house I grew up in, which is literally a basic tract house on the San Francisco peninsula.  It's smaller than my tiny house now -- and it's worth $2 million!  Well, I mean, it's not worth $2 million, but that's what people are paying for a basic three/two in the Bay Area on the "right" side of the Bay. 

I get how the other states feel. I mean, I'm fourth and fifth-generation Californian, and I can't afford to live where I grew up. Here's what makes me so sad about all this. It's ruining the generations of families and their abilities to leave nearby. People are having to leave their homes to have their own family and a house. Our country has lost its soul and that makes me mourn for the world. I grew up where I could bike ride to either grandparents' house. 

This morning, I watched some doctor on TikTok. He wrote a book about anxiety and he's in the Dave Ramsey world. I am NOT a Dave Ramsey fan. I think he gets a lot right, but he also doesn't get that the Millennials might work their entire life for nothing. They may never own a house through no fault of their own. Why would they be motivated to save? Why wouldn't they want to buy a car they can't afford? You can't expect people to go to to work every day of their lives and not be able to afford more than rent and groceries. It's not a sustainable model. Sorry, back to Dr. John Deloney who posted that he and his wife decide where they're going to travel for the holidays and send their mother news of what they've decided. If his mother decides to throw a tantrum, he says, that's on her. They're adults and they can do as they please without worry.

This is all true. But it also SUCKS! I was fortunate enough to have all four of my grandparents until I was 37. My last grandfather didn't pass away until I was 49. He was 100 years old and I never spent a holiday without him. Never. Not one. And now that I don't have them, I'm so grateful I got every last holiday with the people who mattered to me. If Dr. Deloney decides he wants to prioritize his children, that's fine, but someday, they might do the same and that doesn't foster family in my opinion. I also do not believe in "child centered" families. I don't think they work. I think the couple must put their relationship first and the kids add on to that solid foundation.

Maybe your family is unhealthy and spending time with them is hard on your mental health. I understand that. I'm not talking to those people where the holidays are a nightmare. But if you've had good parents and you don't make them a priority, I will never understand that. The Bible says to honor your mother and father and I believe in that tradition.

As my parents get older, I travel to them.  Soon, I'll be moving closer to them now that I can afford to move there. I just feel like this country has lost its soul and all that matters is money, but in the end, if all you have is money -- you really have nothing. Family is forever. 

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