Monday, January 10, 2011

Chapter Twenty-eight: Sister Holly Makes Me See What a CRAZY Book I am Writing!

So it is time to pause in the Sister Renata tale -- the poor nun, accused of murdering her cousin Antonie by slashing his throat, is wallowing in prison staring out at the gallows.

While all that is happening, I have to take a short break in the story for a couple of reasons, the main and most important one being that my sister-in-real life, Holly Ricci, an amazing and wonderful woman and a terrific writer who works for a direct-mail ad firm in Manhattan, called me up Friday night.

"Uh, Claud," she said after we had been chit-chatting for a few minutes, "I have a confession to make."

Confession? My heart picked up speed. My sister? A confession? What was it that she needed to say? I couldn't imagine, but her tone was so ... ominous!

"Sure what's going on?" I said.

"Well, uh, I hate to admit this, but I have to tell you..."

She stopped.

"Yeah? What?" My heart hammered, my mind raced, I couldn't imagine what was coming? Something...awful?

"Well, it's just that...I just don't get the book you are writing on-line," she said at last. "I mean I want to read it, but I don't know where to start, and I am having a hard time following what it is you are doing."

I laughed out loud, so relieved that my book was the only issue. "OH my God Holl, I thought something was really wrong," I said. I was so happy, so delighted, that I could have sung a song -- ah, maybe that wonderful nun song from "The Sound of Music" with Julie Andrews twirling like a crazy person on the top of an Alpine mountain!

Well anyway, I took pains to reassure my sister. "Holl, I bet half the world is confused by Sister Mysteries. The other half isn't reading it!"

My sister, ever supportive of my writing, began asking questions: "OK, so I know all about Sister Renata, and her cousin, and the grisley murder, but what I don't understand is which story you want to tell, I mean which story do you want me to read first and where do I start? It's so confusing -- there's Castenata, and there is Sister Mysteries and then there is your blog, MyStoryLives, and oh, then there is Switch too. Which one is the one to read?"

And the whole time she is talking, I'm laughing thinking, it is crazy what I am doing, all these blogs, all this writing. My own sister can't even figure out what to read. So after I stopped laughing, I said, "OK, you're the advertising writer, I need your help! Maybe you can help me write a new banner for Sister Mysteries that clears everything up."

"Yeah, but first you have to explain it to me."

So I did, very very slowly and very very carefully. And after I had finished, she agreed to help me write a new banner for this blog, explaining exactly what I am writing. I took a crack at it and emailed the new explanation -- one paragraph -- to her, and then she emailed me back a NEW AND IMPROVED EXPLANATION.

And here it is, courtesy of my Sister Holly Elizabeth Ricci, whose photo appears up top here. (Wasn't she a cutie? She still is!)

As they say in Italian,
Un milione di grazie, Holly!

A million thanks!

"In 1995, I began writing a book for a friend who had cancer. In the story it was 1883. A nun, Sister Renata, had a cousin who was writing crazy stories about her being a flamenco dancer. My friend got better but then I got cancer and put the book away. Sister Renata would not be ignored. She reached out across time and beyond sanity, begging me to tell her story. Now, she’s been framed for her cousin's murder. Here's Renata's tale and my healing story too -- they're linked through and through!"

By the way, this is the Same Sister Holly who about four years ago bought me a beautiful NUN costume. I assume she bought it for me because she thought I would wear it while I wrote the Sister Renata tale. I have since bequeathed said nun costume to someone else!

P.S. The Renata tale is called Castenata, and my healing story is Sister Mysteries; however the two on-line books are thoroughly linked and several chapters converge (for example, Chapters 20 - 27 in Sister Mysteries are part of Castenata as well!)

The easiest way to read? Just start with Chapter One of Sister Mysteries and follow the links! All the chapters are listed right here on the side of the blog. And if you get confused, please just email me with your questions, at

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