Interview with Suzette Mullen, wherein we chat about the publication process

Hey, I did another interview! This time with writing coach, Suzette Mullen, of Your Story Finder. Suzette and I met at Hippocamp 2018 and never stopped talking. She asked me some questions about my publication process for The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid.

If you are a writer and want to publish, this conversation is for you!

Interview With Suzette

Check out Suzette’s business, Your Story Finder, if you need a writing group and a coach! She is located in Lancaster, PA.

Also, The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid can be purchased on Amazon.

 

 

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert: it’s complicated

WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS HUGE SPOILERS AND INCIDENTS OF ALL CAPS.

Seriously, this is a review for people who have already read this book. And you should definitely read this book.

Several friends suggested I read City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert-one went so far as to come to my house and hand me their copy. I found City of Girls, a refreshing story of female autonomy, engrossing from page one. It’s amazing, fantastic even, and I couldn’t put it down, but I do have some bones to pick.

The main character’s voice jumped off the page into my ear and I rooted for her every step of the way, even when she was being awful. Vivian is helped by being tall, skinny, and beautiful and for having the foresight to get really good at sewing in her youth. Looking like a supermodel and having superior skills in fashion design isn’t a bad set-up for life in the big city. The vibrant setting-New York City showbiz in the 1940s-makes you want to visit that time and place, in fact, I almost felt as though I had. Gilbert seamlessly weaves real-life events and people into the story, which enriches the historical context.

City of Girls explores nontraditional ways to live a woman’s life by showing how other women did it when alternatives were not readily available, and it is glorious. We see the benefits of hard work, natural talent, good looks, and learned courage. We see what a woman’s life looks like when she chooses self-determination and abandons norms: fulfillment of sexual desire on her own terms, loss of family connections, missteps that cause real pain to other people, freedom.

My issues with the story are as follows:

Young Vivian is the third party in a sexual threesome comprised of her best friend and the husband of a famous theater star. She is kinda coerced and kinda dumb and also really drunk when the tryst occurs. Unfortunately, the make-out session that led up to the encounter happened on the street and was photographed. Long story short, Vivian learns not to have sex with married men, but still spends the rest of her life sleeping around at will. That, of course, is not my problem. My problem is that even though she vows to never sleep with another married man, she picks up men in bars and beds them whenever she feels like it. I have bad news for Vivian and Elizabeth Gilbert-those men were probably ALL MARRIED. Men in bars who jump into bed with you ARE MARRIED, even in the 1940s. This seems like a significant oversight to me, especially since sisterhood is a main theme.

The star whose husband cheated dumps Vivian, but keeps the husband and the whole thing unfolds like Bill and Hillary. This dynamic goes unexplored, but it shouldn’t. IT SHOULDN’T, damn it. I don’t believe that unfaithfulness must automatically lead to divorce. How great would it be to spend some time mulling over how and why some couples stay together? And why the star forgave her husband, but not her friend?

And another thing, Vivian develops a long-term, secret friendship with a married man that can only be described as an emotional affair. How is that any better than having sex with him? Hell, its worse. This also goes unaddressed. The man and his wife lead separate lives and he is incapable of sex, so that makes it ok. Then why is it secret? Its secret because that goes to the main plot structure of the entire book. There, I have just about completely wrecked it for you.

All of my gripes aside, I loved this book because it’s about female desire, resilience, and how we can be when we decide to live the way want to. It shows the power of sisterhood while, perhaps inadvertently, admitting it’s shortcomings. Gilbert is a trailblazing voice for autonomy, not only in her writing, but by her willingness to share the details of her own life and loves. And I love her for it.

Who Loves Cheese?

What is that one thing you always come back to? That one thing you can never not adore? For me, it’s cheese. Cheeeeeese.

I came up with this while playing around with poetry as short-form memoir during Creative Writing class.

Only Love Remains

How did we begin, my one true love? My passion for you endures unabated. I remember in the early days, a hastily ripped cardboard box, frantically searching for the indented foil seam and ripping back the shiny slick casing. Carefully fingering you onto my tongue as that first mouthful dissolved into creamy liquid that slid slowly down my throat. The melting plasticity of Velveeta cheese food product will always take me back to our first time. As Mom swirled Velveeta into hot elbow macaroni noodles in her blackened bottom pot, the liquid gold slithered through the curved tube creating a heavenly goo so runny it had to be eaten with a spoon.

Changing circumstances took their toll on our relationship over the years. An absent father with dark secrets coincided with subtle shifts in refrigerator contents. Slabs of dense government cheese-American, of course, Ronald Reagan’s gift to the Dairy Farmers of America, filled cheap bread several meals a day. My abandoned, anxiety-ridden mother despised my gluttony, hated me fat, but couldn’t stop me from eating. She had enough on her plate. Dad showed up long enough to forbid her from taking charity and then there was no cheese at all.

How I missed you.

Then, the joys of marriage and two modest incomes provided several packages a week where we could hide the knowledge that we had made a colossal mistake. What better way to fill the holes of missing pieces than with grated four cheese Mexican flavored topping.

Inevitably, backlash came in the form of self-imposed hungry years. Fat-free feta and scant sprinklings of parmesan marked by long periods of abstinence. I shunned you, please forgive me.

And now, now that we have reconnected, slim slices of Manchego and pungent veiny Amish bleu, artfully arranged with seasonal fruit and paired with a crisp Rosé fill my palate with undertones of bourgeoisie as we stroll into the sunset. I will never leave you again.

cheese

Mindshift Podcast Interview

A couple of weeks ago Dr. Clint Heacock of Mindshift Podcast interviewed me about The Uncomfortable Confessions Of a Preacher’s Kid.  The interview was a great experience because he put me at ease right away with his thoughtful curiosity and willingness to let our conversation unfold, despite the fact that the husband had to ransack the snack cupboard in the middle of recording!

Here it is:  Interview Link

We talk about growing up fundie, fathers with secrets, making peace with it all, and sex, of course.

Dr. Heacock can be followed on Twitter @MindShift2018 to keep up on the latest conversation regarding deconversion. And of course, follow his blog!

New Review from In Bed With Married Women

Sex blogger Jill Hamilton of In Bed With Married Women writes about all things sex-positive with blunt, hilarious honesty. As it turns out, she also does book reviews! Lucky me! Here’s what she has to say about The Uncomfortable Confessions Of a Preacher’s Kid:

Click here for the review-scroll down the page a bit to get to the review. But then go back and read about her sex toy giveaway.

Or read it here:

The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid by Ronna Russell is a wonderfully honest memoir about growing up in an extremely religious household, marrying a not-so great closeted man and, discovering later in life, that her narcissistic, controlling father was dying from AIDS. Just thinking about it, I am now ashamed that I used the word “harrowing” for going to the stinking post office, when this is the real harrowing business of life. But it’s also a hopeful story.  Ronna is strong as hell and finding her way just fine. The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid is definitely in the genre of jacked-up childhood/eccentric parent reads like The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls and Educated by Tara Westover.

Also follow Jill on Twitter because she is funny and smart. @Jill_Hamilton

ChickLit Café Review

I am THRILLED to share ChickLit Cafe‘s 5 star review of The Uncomfortable Confessions Of a Preacher’s Kid:

HERE IT IS!

The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid by Ronna Russell is a compelling, engaging and unrestrained memoir about the author’s journey toward acknowledgement, self-discovery and ultimately acceptance. It is a candid, straightforward and personal account of her intimate exploration to realize herself as a woman and mother, and to discovering and accepting her sexuality. With frequent refreshing humor, Ronna Russell recounts her memories from childhood, emerging adulthood, and her past as she relates to readers her rearing by a Pentecostal preacher, within the church and with all its stringent rules and practices. It details her shocking experiences with a controlling, oppressive religious father and a closeted homosexual husband, and her search for genuine authenticity. She writes with honest, eye-opening and jaw dropping description. Her confessions are those that most keep secret, but in doing so, she has brought readers a relatable and inspirational read that ultimately empowers women with the ability to survive and flourish.

The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid is written in such brilliant, insightful way, with many pieces of the puzzle beautifully woven together to bring absolution to the reader. Ronna Russell’s truthful, passionate and unique voice shines through as she chronologically recounts her life from childhood to the most recent past. Heart breaking, yet inspiring, this memoir had me in tears as I turned the pages quickly to find out more about her indescribable and sometimes horrific life.

The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid by Ronna Russell reveals how one woman was able to overcome her past, beat the odds and go on to live a fulfilling life in all areas, while now helping other women in turn. Chick Lit Cafe highly recommends this raw, tender and well written biography to women that desire to be inspired, empowered and understand their own struggle surrounding sex —that leads to freedom.
The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid by Ronna Russell is a must read, 5 star memoir that is revealing, rich and filled with inspiration.

Purchase The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid by Ronna Russell today!

 

Love Notes

I received this message on Facebook and got permission to share. These notes come to me occasionally and remind me why it is so important to SPEAK.  For years I would have given anything to know I wasn’t alone; my heart is full knowing that somebody out there needs to hear what I have to say. 

“I received my book yesterday at work (the girls were excited for me) and devoured it when I got home last night. The girls at work want to borrow it but I told them to buy their own copy to support you. (Sometimes lent books don’t find their way back home too)
It was such a great read, so relatable. My heart broke for you and healed all in a matter of hours. Such strength, Ronna❤️ Thank you again for putting your story out there. Thank you again for being there on exchristian.net when I needed you years ago. You gave me the strength and validation to sort out my feelings and to realize that I’m a great person and that all spiritual shit fed to me was bullshit. Abuse. That it kept me questioning my good self for almost 5 decades. Whatever your reason was to write this book, will impact your readers on a healing and life changing level, I’m sure.
Thank you for being a puzzle piece in my life! Much love!”

hearts

Click the title to order The Uncomfortable Confessions Of a Preacher’s Kid from Amazon.

Reviews on Goodreads