Mirror Mirror

Women who grab power, or try, are generally reviled or at least held in suspicion (see the day’s news for examples). Mistrusted. This was true throughout our long history, when stepmothers were always evil and maidens always powerless and pure. When independent or sexual women were accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake-that’s not some cute historical narrative-those women were murdered. Funny how the Brothers Grimm were writing their misogynistic tales full of violence toward women about the same time. And all the women and girls watching learned a powerful lesson. Namely, it’s safer to hide under the protection of a man, shut up and keep your head and skirts down. Ever wonder how those themes play out in society today?

Much serious scholarly research has already been done on this subject, but I have written an unserious poem about Snow White’s stepmother for an assignment in my creative writing class. (See also Forbidden Fruit) I know it’s not a serious poem because my professor told me it isn’t. Maybe that is why it was fun to write.

Here it is:

Dead Madonna

Her loving arms a memory now

An intruder’s face emerges in the

Mirror, Mirror on the wall

Who is the fairest of us all?

No longer you, faded queen

The Virgin waits with her little men

unsullied body

a heady cocktail

of youth and beauty

waits to quench the thirst of the prince.

She is the only draught worthy of rescue

Resignation to fate her only

hope of elevation

Attempting escape

Renders her attributes mute

Else she will fall

To the dark magic of assertion

The witchcraft of power

The banishment of desire

In that case

Boil her lungs and

boil her liver

Use plenty of salt

Set a place for one

Lips smacking

bloody in the middle 

Mirror Mirror…

Still the young one

Why is it only Witches

demand a place at the table?

And where is her father now?

He rides away with

a nudge and a wink

 and his men and his horses

pockets full of money and deeds

and larger concerns

And so I ask you

Do we write our stories or do the tales tell us?

P.S. My memoir, The Uncomfortable Confessions Of a Preacher’s Kid, releases on April 4th! It is available for pre-order on Amazon now.

Words from Anneliese Kamola

My friend, Anneliese, has been in the writing trenches with me since I first showed up at The Narrative Project with a fistful of blog posts. Anneliese is a singular talent, in both writing and editing and… dare I say…. clairvoyance. That’s the only word that comes close to what she is able to do in a critique session. She read The Uncomfortable Confessions Of a Preacher’s Kid for the first time in completed form.

Here’s what she had to say.

“Something magical happened in your book. Did you do this intentionally?? After the chapter ending where the Narrator says to herself, “I want a divorce from both of you,” the VOICE of the writing catches up with the Narrator’s voice of wisdom. I’ve been admiring how seamlessly the Narrator’s voice grows through this story. I was just reading a couple chapters further and thought, “Oh hold on, wait, when did she grow up all of a sudden?”

Whether you intentionally crafted this way or not, well done, Ronna. Gorgeous lesson in showing how creating wise boundaries propel growth and maturity in a super subtle way. I’ve been so engrossed in reading your book that I’ve been playing hooky from my editing, staying up until midnight, and carrying it with me in my purse. So good. I’ve already told several people that they have to read it.

That last chapter-where did it come from? I’m fucking sobbing.”

My heart is full of gratitude for Anneliese’s words, her help along the way, and her friendship most of all. She never once made me feel like I couldn’t do it. Also, keep your eyes open for Anneliese-her book is gonna blow your mind.

P.S. The picture is Violet the cat, not Anneliese.

Signed Copy Anyone?

I have a few books left in the box! I can ship a signed copy for a flat $20. Email me at ronnarussell23@gmail.com for details!

Reviews!

I am so grateful to the authors who took the time to read my manuscript in its painfully pre-edited state and still said nice things! Links to their books are included below-they are all great reads!

REVIEWS for The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid:

From Valerie Tarico:

Caught between the archaic religious dictates of her Pentecostal family and the complexities of the world outside, Ronna Russell fights for survival and more in The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid. Loneliness, raw sexuality, unexpected kindness and cruelty, and through it all an understated endurance with solid granite at the core, Russell’s memoir is alternately hard, hungry, raw, and tender–like sex and love and parenthood and simply being. I sat down to read the first chapter on a busy day and instead read straight through.  -Dr. Valerie Tarico, author of Trusting Doubt

From Steph Auteri:

For those who fear sex. For those who feel shame around it. For those who feel guilt around their own desire. The chapters in The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid are puzzle pieces that, when put together, reveal a picture of how the way we are brought up and the life we live can leave an indelible mark on the way we see ourselves, and the way we end up moving through the world. If you’re looking for insight into your own grappling around sex — and a sort of absolution — Ronna’s story is for you. — Steph Auteri, author of A Dirty Word: How a Sex Writer Reclaimed Her Sexuality

From Lara Lillibridge:

A frank, intimate account of one woman’s search for herself as a woman, mother and sexual being. Ronna Russell’s narrative weaves together memories from childhood, young adulthood, and the more recent past as she recounts her upbringing as a preacher’s kid in the United Pentecostal Church—where she wasn’t allowed to cut her hair, wear slacks, or fraternize with non-church members—and details her journey to find authenticity. Written with the level of confession normally reserved for close friends whispering secrets over a glass of wine, Russell’s memoir is a no holds barred revelation of self-discovery and acceptance. —Lara Lillibridge, author of Girlish: Growing Up in a Lesbian Home

From Lisa F. Smith

Ronna Russell takes us on a no-holds-barred ride through her unconventional childhood and how she emerged as her own person on every level. She is fighter, a survivor, and shines a light on the things we often choose to keep in the dark. And she does it with remarkable, unapologetic honesty.-Lisa F. Smith author of Girl Walks Out Of a Bar

From Claire Robson:

The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid is one of those stories that you couldn’t make up as they say – a cascading series of dramas that take the reader through Ronna Russell’s rigid fundamentalist childhood, the disgrace of her preacher father, her sexual explorations, and the slow decline and dissolution of her marriage. Russell’s sparing, matter-of-fact prose is the perfect vehicle for this autobiography, offering a counterpoint to the often painful and shocking events described. Her seamless chronological shifts from childhood to adulthood and back remind the reader of the ways in which the past informs the present and abuse of any kind is sticky and enduring. Though Russell’s confessions ultimately celebrate the capacity of women to survive and thrive, they are never preachy, or self-indulgent. Indeed, the book opens with the most sizzling sex scenes I’ve ever read. This is a book to devour at one or two sittings, then pass on to your bestie! – Dr. Claire Robson, Author of Love in Good Time and Writing for Change

From Cami Ostman:

The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid is a brave, unflinching look at what happens when secrets go untold and questions go unasked. Ms. Russell’s no-nonsense voice carries the reader into the dark crevices of TWO nuclear families living in hypocrisy and shame. And when she finally finds her own way into the light, she gets there in the most unconventional way. Uncomfortable Confessions is a must-read for all of us who have ignored what was right under our noses. Cami Ostman, Editor of Beyond Belief: The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religion and author of Second Wind: One Woman’s Midlife Quest to Run Seven Marathons on Seven Continent

From Amber Garza:

Ronna writes with an honesty that is refreshing and authentic. Her conversational writing style draws you in and keeps you reading. Her story is at times painful, but her wittiness and raw humor shine through. Amber Garza author of For the Win

 

 

 

 

I’m On Amazon!

I kinda can’t believe this is happening. But it is.

My book is available for preorder on Amazon! (New review below)

AMAZON LINK

Review from Cami Ostman:

The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid is a brave, unflinching look at what happens when secrets go untold and questions go unasked. Ms. Russell’s no-nonsense voice carries the reader into the dark crevices of TWO nuclear families living in hypocrisy and shame. And when she finally finds her own way into the light, she gets there in the most unconventional way. Uncomfortable Confessions is a must-read for all of us who have ignored what was right under our noses.

Cami Ostman, Editor of Beyond Belief: The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religion and author of Second Wind: One Woman’s Midlife Quest to Run Seven Marathons on Seven Continents

 

 

The Savage Price Of Piety

One of the great things about having adult children is when they share the music they listen to or the books they read or the things that make ’em happy. They grow up good if you don’t kill ’em. Which brings me to the song of the day: Poor Isaac by The Airborne Toxic Event.

See, it all started with Spotify and a shared playlist. Poor Isaac was on it and my son wasn’t sure if I would like it because it’s kinda rock and roll and I am not so much. But its a freaking amazing song and got me thinking about the story of Abraham and Isaac, the highlights of which I remember from Sunday school.

God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, as a test of faith or loyalty or whatevs. Sacrifice as in stab to death. Murder. And here’s the kicker-Abraham agreed to do it. Can you even imagine? I found this so shocking as a young child that I asked one of my parents if they would kill me if God said to, hoping they would say of course not. Instead, they explained that since Jesus died on the cross, sacrifices were no longer required. Not sheep or goats or children. God would never ask them to sacrifice me, so no worries. I could be thankful to Jesus for that lucky escape. Obviously, the penalties for murdering your child because a voice in your head tells you to are more severe now than they were back in ol’ Abraham’s day, but I didn’t know that.

Just when I think I’ve turned over all the stones… anyway, it’s a great song and I hope you will give it a listen. Also, if your kids have made it to adulthood like mine have, track them down and hug them tight, one more time.
rock band - copy

Once more:

Poor Isaac

Splish Splash

So I was lowering down into a hot bubble bath as you do in the middle of a Monday and this email from my publisher popped up:

Your book is available for preorder NOW and ONLY at: http://www.blackrosewriting.com/biographymemoir/theuncomfortableconfessionsofapreacherskid. If readers purchase your book prior to the publication date of April 4, 2019, they may use the promo code: PREORDER2018 to receive a 15% discount.

What this means is you can buy my memoir, THE UNCOMFORTABLE CONFESSIONS OF A PREACHER’S KID, right now-directly from the publisher for a 15% discount. The regular price is only $17.95 so you could buy stacks of ’em. And maybe I’ll break even on this little venture.

Current mood:

 

tub surprise - Copy