fine tuning

Today is going to be my last full day of writing on this trip. I made a schedule of sorts and tomorrow I’ve set aside to visit a tulip festival (!) about an hour north, so I’m cranking today.

I’ve spent most of my days reading/re-reading, editing, re-ordering chapters, cutting some long chapters in half and taking notes.

My goal is to get these forty chapters polished enough to only have to plug in some quotes that I’ve got in my records back home from testimony and interviews. I think I can do that easily from home. I just don’t feel comfortable trying to jump in to my writing groove while in my own place.

Then the next step is to start pitching it. I’ve had one agent quite interested in me in the past. I basically blew them off when life got super hectic and I shelved this whole thing for a couple of years. I just know I need the time and space to rock and roll on this once someone picks it up and wants to work with me, and I think I’m there now.

I got some good news yesterday that the very last part of settling Dad’s estate is 99% finished–just getting a rental property out of his name in Arizona and in to mine. It’s taken over two years to accomplish all of the complicated tasks of settling it–from properties to land to banks and taxes. Plus getting my brother all set up and managed. It was pretty all-consuming.

Now that’s settled and time for this book to find its trajectory.

the back of a photograph that had been used in evidence–a portrait of Cindy–her handwriting in the corner that says “Sisterly Love For Nevs” (inside joke)

I’ve worked on so many chapters today. The book jumps between timelines, so its tricky to create a flow with interest consistently stimulated. I have a feeling anyone taking on this project will move things around that I’ve gotten wrong, but I’m doing my best.

It moves from our past as children, forward to the crime, back again , then propelled ahead again . The events have to line up, so I’m not referencing a story or detail that hasn’t been told yet.

Anyway, I’m ready for a break as I’ve been up since 5am, mostly working on this, and it’s 1:30pm now. Time for some lunch.

There are so many great places to eat in this area, but I’ve promised myself today is for cleaning up my leftovers, so it’s cheese and fruit and crackers kinda day. I may treat myself to a mid-day glass of wine and a nap after. It’s been an intense morning.

Here is my snippet for today. Much of the story advances through Cindy’s own words from her journal. Here is an example.

She had no idea of the trap she was already in, sabotaging her ability to do any of the new behaviors she was learning. She’d been infected with the poison of a person who had one goal: her destruction. Being unable to differentiate harm from safety was a program deeply instilled in all of us from childhood, and one Michael Apelt instinctively knew how to use to his advantage.

I feel like everyone would think I’ve gone batty if they knew the whole story—and when I’m with Michael it feels so right that we are together. He is so good to me and although he has some faults I feel like he is a great person for me. I am still a bit paranoid about trusting another man—yet he proves himself time and time again. So how do I let go of worrying about everything and just enjoy the relationship?

  • Cindy wrote on 11/1/88

On October twenty-ninth, my sister had flown, in secret, to Las Vegas to marry Michael Apelt. When I found out about this by a fluke, I was more upset that she’d gotten on a plane and gone anywhere without my knowledge. How did that even happen? We knew each other’s whereabouts nearly every minute of every day. How did she slip away for an entire two days unbeknownst to me? On an airplane? She had never been on an airplane in her entire life that I didn’t know about. This was completely out of the realm of anything I knew as normal with her.

As always, thank you for reading along and caring.

Stay tuned for flower photos for tomorrow. And likely my last snippet for the week.


I’ve spent the last two days, for hours on end, reading/editing/rearranging chapters/taking notes until my butt is entirely sore. I didn’t leave the Studio at all yesterday. It rained most of the day which made that easier.

It’s raining again today on this Easter morning, but I’ve decided to head out. There is a crepe place that is open today across the Sound. I’ll take the ferry over, grab a crepe, then ride back and get back to it. I need to do something outside of this intensity with my laptop. Also, I need to snag some toothpaste along the way. I’m down to like one drop.

I’ve been all over the map with my chapters, but will share one snippet of one about Cindy’s funeral. This book is getting closer and closer to fine. I think it’s good. It’s the kind of book I would definitely want to read. It’s heartbreaking, terrifying and redemptive. Cindy takes us all on a journey with her own words from her journal throughout. It’s alot.

Here is my snippet for today, then I’m back at it until I decide to head out to the ferry.

When I arrived to the back room of the funeral parlor, they were lined up like three Teutonic monkeys in chairs all in a row, as the minister discussed the service. See All Evil, Hear All Evil, Speak All Evil shoulder to shoulder.  I sat across the room from them, glaring at each one.  None of them looked up at me.  I had just met Rudi the one time at Bobby McGee’s, never met Anke, and of course had a few encounters with Michael.  They surely knew who I was.

After the instruction period was over, I stood up and walked to the murder trio like some kind of reverse reception line of wickedness and extended my hand to each one with intention.  I want you to look in my eyes and you will know that I know.  I stared at each one and only Anke looked up at me, tearfully. I glared straight in to her face I know what you did and you are not getting away with it was what flew out of my gaze.  I hope she caught it.

Hope you are all having a fantastic Easter and as always, thanks so much for coming along and supporting me with this.


I’m sitting here in my reading/writing corner with the door to the Studio wide open to the Sound, listening to the Spa channel, feeling the cool breeze as I continue reading, re-reading and editing while taking notes.

I’ve been up inexplicably since 4am, although I guess I still am on Eastern time. It’s turned out to be a beautiful day.

I feel so fortunate to once again confront these terrible memories in this place of peace and paradise. I don’t think I’d be able to do it any other way.

Both yesterday and today have been about re-orienting myself to what I’ve already written in these 38 plus chapters, while taking notes about what I’m missing and making edits along the way.

Yesterday I realized, after feeling like I was going slow, that most people don’t read an entire book in one day, so I was doing ok.

My butt hurts from sitting here so long.

I’ve jumped all over the place from chapters on our childhood to the crime and the trials. Again, I’m reminded it’s much easier for me to detach myself and focus on the machinations of the legal proceedings than the loss. Writing about Cindy in life has gotten easier for me over the years, but it still remains a disparity. I’m not sure I will ever resolve that, but it’s better.

This is part of why I’m doing it. And why I’ve agreed to participate in certain specials on Cindy. It forces me in to places that are easier for me to avoid.

I’ve placed pictures of her–and us– around me as an ever present companion.

Here is a snippet of a chapter I’ve simply titled “Us”.

People often mistook us for twins, although Cindy was always long and lean to my shorter and stockier build.  She was brunette to my blonde and our faces were not that similar.  Yet our voices were nearly identical. and our mirrored expressions were the giveaway.  We created our own little world and relished living in it.  We had our own language, our own symbols, our own private jokes and our own intimacy that no one– almost no one– ever penetrated. Cindy could reach down under a dinner table and squeeze my leg and I would know exactly what she meant. Sometimes it was “OMG that was so embarrassing” or “let’s get going now” or “don’t laugh”. She would squeeze me and silently I would slide my hand down and squeeze right back and no words or even looks were ever exchanged. That went on for years.

Back to the chapters now. I’ll keep going today until I drop. I feel so privileged to be alive and able to tell this story in this way, at this time, in this place.

Thank you for keeping me company, from wherever you are, along this journey.

Some more images from my day.

Back at it


at my home away from home, hoping to get this book polished enough to take it back to agents. Hoping the one I ghosted isn’t holding a grudge. :/

Soent alllll day reading, editing, taking notes and taking trips down memory lanes- hard and beautiful. It’s a gorgeous rainy day in Edmonds and I have my beautiful view of the Sound as my ever-present friend.

Tomorrow I continue reading and note taking, seeing what holes need filling. It’s a lot. And it needs to be inclusive of all the important things.

I’ll add a snippet tomorrow. For now, it’s wine-down time in front of the fire.


You can have crawled through your own fires of Hell, created a beautiful wonderful current life, and still be sharing about what you recovered from for your own reasons, that you don’t need to explain. This does not mean you are “stuck” or “unhealed” (although you can be, fires of Hell can sometimes take a lifetime of continual healing).

You can also choose to be silent about what you went through, which does not mean you haven’t dealt with it. It’s just your way. Both are valid.

I’ve said before, you can have been victimized, but not make your entire identity as “victim” in the way people will criticize others for.

Living your best life, while speaking out about what you survived and continue to survive, can be occurring simultaneously.

For some, it’s hard to hear the voice of your trauma for their own reasons. For others, it’s the life raft they need to keep going. Yet, it’s ok to speak and keep speaking for yourself, knowing it’s part of your own healing path. When your words fall in the right place to help someone else, well that’s a bonus.

I once described my speaking out about a particular issue as a “splinter in my soul” that needed to dislodge in that way. I was asked to erase my words, which to me meant re-inserting that splinter that was already out. Why would I do that to myself?

With that being said, if you are called to tell your story, tell it. If you feel pressured to tell it, but prefer to keep it private, do that for yourself. Let your own needs for the telling/not telling be your compass.

I’ve moved in to what I believe are the best years of my whole life now, because I’ve spoken and re-spoken on certain things. I’m clearing myself. And it’s reinforcing that others find inspiration in watching me rise.

With all that being said, I’m hoping my words from a seven hour interview are cut and strung together tonight in a way that match my intent. And that they tell Cindy’s story with respect and understanding. I liked this production crew (British) and think they are keeping respecting her at the forefront. I felt that from the beginning. And they didn’t even try to reach out to the killers. This is more about Cindy’s story.

I’ve been invited to a Q and A discussion about the episode tomorrow night on Youtube with a true crime channel who I greatly admire. She chooses to maintain her anonymity for her own reasons, which I also greatly admire. She simply goes by the name Fanci Fiction and I think she’s brilliant, so am honored she invited me on for this.

Here is the link for that live broadcast which will be at 7pm EST tomorrow (Monday).

In the first comment below I’ll place a link for places you can catch the episode tonight at 9pm EST. Again it’s the show American Monster on the Investigation Discovery channel. Also on the Discovery Plus app.

I appreciate you tuning in for Cindy’s story. There will be video and audio and photos you’ve never seen before.

I appreciate all of you who still remember and care about our sister, who we will never, ever forget.

another intrusion

some flowers I saw at Pike Market yesterday as some brightness before what you’re about to read

I realized this week that I’ve been dealing with issues around Cindy’s murder for over half my life now. Not just the grieving process, but the constant intrusions by the men who killed her and those who champion them (most likely them to be honest).

This week was no exception.

Once I decided I was finished with my writing for this visit, and taking a little transition break for myself doing some fun things, DING DONG, not so fast.

I was contacted by my Victim’s Rights Attorney in Phoenix about yet a new wrinkle in this fully-wrinkled map that was created in 1988.

Some background.

When we went to trial in 1990, the AZ Victim’s Bill of Rights was pretty new and of the many protections, one was that representatives for the killers could not contact us, as victims, without going through a representative for us. Some of you may remember the woman the Federal Legal Defender’s office sent to my doorstep one cold mid-December day–the day I had hauled out my decorations for my house–and sat in my living room trying to get ME to help THEM get leniency for Cindy’s killers. I was so disoriented as to who she was, as I trusted the mandate that I could not be directly contacted. I thought she was someone for our side when I let her in from the cold. But no, when I confronted her on that, she had the loophole she slipped through on the tip of her tongue. I kicked her out of my house and she left me her card.

I contacted our prosecutor who put me with the AZ Crime Victims Legal Assistance Project, who represented me, then used that invasion as an example to close that loophole, which was successful. Keli Luther, may she rest in peace (gone too soon), was who championed that cause. There is a whole chapter in my book that details this story. Likely the most egregious event that happened to me after the murder–driven by those who champion the killers.

Well, guess what? That statute has been overturned. Apparently they argued that it doesn’t matter who contacts a victim–the prosecution or the defense. Or who ambushes them in their home, the trauma is the same,

Yeah, no.

So, I’m being asked to retell that story in order to help the AG’s office appeal this reversal, which I will do.

Once I think I can compartmentalize this stuff, there it is again, reminding me of its ever presence. For the first time in over thirty years, I found myself wishing Michael Apelt would be executed, die of natural causes in prison or otherwise just disappear. I’ve not for one moment been invested, but as his execution looms, so do these traumatic invasions. I’ve been pretty neutral and detached about his execution, but these folks fighting against it are making me a staunch desirer for this sentence to be completed as ordered. Guess that backfired, huh?

I’ll do my part. But living in a mine field requires a certain type of resilience and I’m just tired.

Anyway, that’s that.

I just found the listing for the show they are doing on Cindy:


New Episodes Premiere Sundays at 9/8c on ID and Available to Stream on discovery+

If you looked into the eyes of a killer, would you know? Yet, on any street, behind any smile, lurks an AMERICAN MONSTER. Never-before-seen-video footage looks straight into the eyes of a killer, hidden in plain sight. Mom next door; dad across the street; the kid who never broke the rules. Anyone can be a MONSTER.

· Brothers and Sisters Premieres Sunday, November 20 at 9/8c on ID

Cindy Monkman turns heads wherever she goes, but by age 30, she’s looking for something more serious. Michael Apelt, a handsome German businessman, seems to be the answer to her prayers… until their first Christmas together turns into a horror story.

It’s interesting they titled it Brothers and Sisters. That’s the first I’ve seen that.

I have a Youtube channel now that I’ve done nothing with, but I have a potential upcoming project that I will be using it for.

I may schedule a live chat to talk about this episode after it airs.

Let me know if that is something you might want to participate in. Like just a “filling in the blanks” or Q and A or simply gathering for support.

Love you all out there continuing to care and read.


I went to Biscuit Bitch today in Seattle.

I really look forward to the day when I can just enjoy my life vs. enjoying it in spite of…..


yesterday was my birthday, so I treated myself to a ride on the ferry to get a crepe across the way

Sharing a snippet today detailing a piece on one of dozens of cons the Apelt brothers pulled off while in the Phoenix area for that brief three months before killing Cindy. From telegrams announcing each others’ deaths to glean money, to stealing cash, to constant stories about their wealth and snafus getting it, they got thousands of dollars in a short time.

But before, that, in other news, another TV program is doing a show on Cindy. They approached me last Spring about it and explained it is a victim-centric show, diving in to who the victim was and detailing their life. Since that is also the theme of my book, it resonated with me, although I think this show has a pretty awful name: American Monster.

The show will air on the Investigation Discovery Network on Sunday Nov. 20, at 9pm EST. Most channel lineups have this channel. It will also be available on the Discovery Plus app. after that.

They interviewed me for about seven hours, asking detailed questions about our upbringing, Cindy’s life/education/jobs/relationships/travel on and on…

They also interviewed Cathy Hughes, our prosecutor and Ron Davis, one of the detectives. As well as some of Cindy’s friends.

Once again I went on an odyssey of discovery of videos and photos to use. In 1988 times were different without cell phones or even many home video cameras, so it is limited. So we will see what they piece together.

We can join together to discuss the next day if you want.

So that’s that.

Now here is my snippet for today:

During the few hours the brothers stayed at the Rubenstein home, they convinced Cher and her husband that they had been robbed of five thousand dollars from their hotel room the day before. Rudi was still maintaining they were in the wind surfing business and Michael claimed they worked for the MARS Corporation.  Cher testified that she believed they worked for the corporation that made the Mars candybar. She filed a report with the Mesa Police Department the following day to report the “robbery”, but they declined to pursue it.

“They said they were very rich,” she testified.

A few evenings later, Cher went to dinner with the brothers alone, where they convinced her that they were having trouble getting their Mercedes transferred over to the States from Germany. They were dining at Black Angus restaurant and Cher had four hundred dollars cash tucked in her wallet, ready to pay some bills with. During the course of that meal, Rudi successfully convinced her that their Mercedes was stuck in Customs and they needed money to get it out. Cher forked over all of the cash in her wallet in the parking lot after the meal. She described Michael as “quite elated” when he discovered they now had the cash to obtain their car.

Thank you very much. Friends for life,” he said, pleased.

Today is my last day in the Studio before I move in to Seattle to await my husband (who is on a cross country train!) for a few days. So today is my last writing day for this time.

As always, thanks for being out there, reading and caring.


I took this photo, unfiltered, this morning–wow what a view

This last year has been tough.

Dad died leaving a complicated estate for me to wade through and I’m still not done. My brother and I came way too close to losing access to our entire inheritance thanks to Marjorie–thankfully detected and corrected before Dad died. That was just the beginning of the gauntlet of complex banking and property/insurance/trust issues I’ve been working through for over a year now. I detailed that harrowing experience in the book so stay tuned for that story.

Plus my brother has been hospitalized twice, so managing him and taking care of our own lives with Lillian so she didn’t get lost in the shuffle; it’s just been a lot.

I told my husband this morning that I came on this trip as much to heal as complete the book. Don’t get me wrong, I’m writing, editing and re-organizing things for a few hours each day, but there is no urgency to finish things up as I’d planned. This is therapy for me, as is being here in Edmonds which is like a familiar safe cocoon. I love this little cozy studio and it has everything I need. I have my favorite haunts like restaurants, the Korean spa, the ferry and this view of course. It all nourishes me.

I think once Dad died, it really set me free to more deeply explore the abuse we experienced as kids and the impacts on each of us. It’s always been so much easier to focus on Marj, as we just didn’t love her, but the betrayal of our father, that’s the sting. With his being gone now, I no longer feel like I’m betraying him, by looking at how he betrayed us if that makes sense.

I keep finding myself winding back in to the chapters related to those traumas–adding, editing, honing in on what’s important and in what order to reveal it. It’s so important to me to at least look at our childhood trauma as a backdrop for the fatal choices Cindy made. It all fits together so clearly in my head and I hope I’m conveying it on the page.

Here is a snippet I’ve been working on this morning:

This juxtaposition of a life, led us to focus on the good times, while doing our best to deny and avoid the violence, desperately trying to cling to a vision of normalcy. At that age, the only thing you really want is to fit in and be normal. This very style of coping is evident in Cindy’s journal years later, when the stakes were far higher. Life and death, literally.

I’m in a whirlwind situation with so many confusing feelings. I need more than ever to give myself positive self-talk. I feel opposition in what I am doing and am not comfortable covering up the truth of what my new relationship with Michael is. It’s like I’m living two lives.

Cindy and I created our own little world, our own languages, our own forms of blocking ourselves off to Marj’s invasions, which angered her even more.  “No one can get close to you girls” she would say, blaming us for her emotional distance. 

Cindy warned me not to share too much with her, definitely not secrets.  “She will use it against you some day” she intuitively seemed to know as a tween.  Cindy was right, not that I always heeded her advice.  Marj, a social worker, did have a skill in extracting people’s most intimate stories.  She was easy to talk to. Yet in our case, she would stockpile the most vulnerable aspects of our inner suffering, then hurl them at us sometimes years later in the form of words like “well, as we all know, you’ve had problems with insecurity your entire life,” she’d say with a sympathetic looking nod. A passive-aggressive confusing message which made you think she was trying to help you, while feeling like shit at the same time. At one time or another, Marj heard from each of us the question “Why do you always need to see me in the most screwed up way possible?”. 

It was like our problems/insecurities/struggles gave this woman life.

I’ve been up writing for hours now, so time for a break. It’s a blustery day outside, so I’m enjoying staying in watching these amazing textured clouds float over the Puget Sound.

I was going to run some errands, like getting the tire light checked on my rental car, but I’m thinking I may just take a wander over to my friend DoorDash and be an inside girl all day today. It’s so nice to have no schedule and no plans.

It’s one of my favorite ways to live.

me. at the movies last night to see Tar with Cate Blanchett


One of the main reasons I am writing this book, in the way that I’m doing it, is to explore the story behind the tragedy of Cindy’s murder. What set my sister up to be the victim that she was, in spite of the glaring warning signs flashing before her eyes? She was a beautiful, popular, well educated woman who walked right in to a trap filled with red flags. Why?

I woke up today with a clear thought about something. About how we coped in our childhood home, that had become this juxtaposition of really fun times with a life-of-the-party father and a new “mother” who turned out lives inside out with Behavior Modification programs peppered with violence. How we learned to deny the danger and focus on the fun, desperately clinging to a sense of normalcy. I suspect this is common with trauma survivors.

I wrote about Cindy not being able to discern, as an adult, that danger was, in fact, dangerous. The other part of this is that when trauma is the norm during your development, a person will unconsciously be drawn to drama.

The patterns established early on in our lives, and how we coped, set her up for a sociopath to hone right in on that weakness. That’s their super power. Quickly zero in on vulnerabilities and instantly start using them to their advantage. That is evident with Michael Apelt whether it was a bank manager, a luxury car dealer or the multitudes of women he was courting.

The most common word Cindy used in her journal during that period up to her death was confused. It’s heartbreaking.

She was off balance and thinking she was balancing, only to be knocked off again. That describes many years of our childhood after Marj entered it. Confused about why she turned our lives so incredibly different so suddenly. Confused about why she sparked in to these uncontrollable rages at us, beating us with hairbrushes/hangers/kitchen utensils. Confused why Dad didn’t intervene. We were tweens when this began and had never been hit other than a smack on the butt way earlier in our lives.

So we coped by just getting through it and letting Dad be our guiding force, while bracing for the next trauma from Marj. Never telling anyone.

Anyway, this is a piece of what I just finished writing this morning:

Anke and Rudi were not at the party, of course. We all believed they were back in Germany and Michael reinforced that.

A strange incident happened after I left that night, where a young man came trying to “drink our free beer,” Michael later claimed. An altercation broke out between this man and Michael and a knife was pulled. Michael sustained a flesh wound to his shoulder.

I thought “there is way too much drama around this guy,” while restraining my opinions. Cindy and my relationship was too important to let the likes of him get in the way. I just had no way to predict the devastation that was coming. The worst I could imagine was a nasty breakup, and we had all been there before.

Cindy kept pushing forward–still ambivalent–but trying to make it work. Still trying to craft some kind of normalcy from all of this. Just like we did in childhood.

From the date of the party, Cindy had just thirteen days left to live.


Confused about what I am doing

What do I want?

How can I please myself and everyone else at the same time (Michael, Kathy, people at both jobs)?

full beautiful day

I woke up yesterday morning and wrote the story of Dad’s death last October. In many ways, for many reasons, I’ve only begun moving forward with the grieving process. Writing is helpful.

I reminded myself of the distinct difference in losing someone in a tragic way, long before it should be their time, to losing someone in the natural rhythm of life.

I’ve not gone back to what I wrote yet, but I will. Not just yet.


The mask making class was fun and wonderful to dive in to the timelessness of creative immersion. Here’s what I made. I’ll enjoy it in the Studio here for the week, then send it as a surprise to Lillian. I made it with her in mind. It’s a kitty cat!


As I drove back from downtown Seattle, I longed for a ferry ride, so that’s just what I did.

Edmonds behind me

A round trip with an immediate turnaround so I could catch the beautiful sunset. I so take to this life in the Northwest. I once again started dreaming of my screenplay idea involving a couple meeting on a ferry.

Came home and got enjoyed some Malbec and snacks and a fire.

All in all, a beautiful day. Just as my Dad would want for me.