day 9

My last day here and I pushed it! I scoured through all my records and finally found an entire testimony that I needed. A strange lover of Michael Apelt who stayed in contact with him after he went to jail, and gave this weird testimony that was for the State, but clearly trying to help him at the same time. Mind blowing.

I never left the pod all day. I worked and worked on that chapter and finished it. I cleaned up a bizarre assortment of leftover food I had- lettuce, cheese, apple, tortilla chips, ice cream sandwich and wine. Classy!

I feel good about all I got accomplished on this retreat. I have 39 chapters, mostly completed. I think I may actually do some more work on it at home. I think it’s pretty good.

I’ve been following that NXIUM case and today the leader of that creepy cult Keith Raniere was sentenced. He got life, basically. It was interesting doing this deep dive in to con men and sociopathy and following that at the same time. It’s a terrifyingly curious subject. May we all keep our hearts open and hold wisdom to avoid that insanity simultaneously.

Packing up

I hope my book ends up as a cautionary tale, as well.

I’m beat. I’ll keep you all posted going forward. For now, I’ll take a little break.

days 7 and 8

Had a beautiful day yesterday taking a gorgeous Fall country drive to a charming wedding venue and assisted my florist mentor creating this fantastic arch.

It was such a nice respite from all this dark material- and a perfect day to enjoy it. It started raining today and got quite cold.

I hunkered down all day today and was quite productive. Wrote most of another chapter and split one in two as it got too long. So many details I had forgotten about. The extent of these brothers’ cons to so many people in such a short time is astonishing. Then to know that people decided they have intellectual disability is insane. From all the luxury car dealers, jewelers, realtors and so many other women. They even faked one of their own deaths successfully at one point- for money of course. How much conning they packed in to three months is mind blowing.

Those are the chapters I worked on today.

Sleep continues to evade me. It was a rough night last night. I’m hoping this cold rainy day and this warm fireplace, help me crash tonight.

Wish me luck.

Some photos I found in a bin of our childhood, when everything was so innocent.

day 6

I figured out today that I’m closer to finishing than I thought I was. I have 30 chapters almost completed. There is just so much, that I constantly struggle with what is imperative to include. I think I’ll err on putting too much in, then see what gets edited out. I think I’m a good storyteller and am writing this in a style of a book I would like to read, but I am a complete novice. I have to be open to this being molded and edited. 😬

Cleaned up some chapters and did some adding of quotes today, then had to get outside in the crisp Fall air.

Got my Jessica Fletcher on and took an almost sunset bike ride. Such a great riverside drive to ride on.

Also spent much of the afternoon reading this book, which is really informative called The Confidence Game. I’ll be referencing it in the book.

Tucked away and cozy tonight and hoping for a solid night’s sleep. 🙏

Sweet dreams to you all out there. 🛏

day 5

Glad to report I am starting to sleep again. I enjoy waking up and taking my river walks.

Completed a long chapter today on what we’ve gone through with the death penalty appeals process. It was exhausting to write and also realized how exhausting it’s been to live through at times. Working on this book has given me a clear roadmap to how my adrenals have gotten so shot over the years. Still working on that one (the reason for my sleeping issues lately).

39 chapters in that tiny thing

Found some materials I was looking for and ran in to a document online related to an important hearing in one of the appeals involving the Supreme Court and our case. It’s good to find good quotes to punctuate my writing with. I think that part is going to set this book apart from most true crime books.

My husband took me out on a date this evening. I was so tired I almost asked him to just come to my Airbnb and get take out- but I’m so glad I showered and did my hair and makeup and went out. We had a great time. I miss him! But am so grateful to have a marriage allowing so much space. I was single for 20 years before marrying him, so I got very used to being alone. I need it and he allows it easily. He needs it too.

He brought me over my bike! I’m so excited to be able to ride tomorrow morning! And after that delicious meal, I do believe I will easily sleep tonight. 😴

Can’t stop laughing at this photo- I wasn’t expecting that flash! 😳

day 4

That’s my lucky writing sweater, a gazillion years old and shredded

Well, I finally got about 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep last night and felt so much better this morning. Fingers crossed that trend continues.

I had a very productive writing day. I’m jumping all around and I’m ok with that. Filling in missing details on chapters written, re-reading material, sifting through records. It’s so hard to edit stuff out, as it seems every single element of this story is important to understand the whole.

I wrote about circumstantial evidence today and painting a picture for a jury, which is also exactly what I’m trying to do with this book.

Got up, took a nice long walk by the river just a stones throw from the house here, and realized I need a little more time—so added two more days. Just hitting my stride today and want to ride that momentum.

I also have some nice respites this weekend helping my friend do some wedding flowers. I really love that and will enjoy the drives and the immersion in love to counterbalance the dark stuff I’m immersed in. But it will take time away from this project, so having a couple more days on the back end helps.

It’s harder this time than its ever been. I don’t know why. I don’t have my Edmonds paradise and of course there is Covid putting a pall on everything. I think finding a really good meal will help. I’m almost finished with my soups and leftovers I bought from home. All I have left are snacks- bad bad. 😉

Well stopping the writing and sitting outside watching these nutty squirrels do a cirque de soleil deal on the railing to the trees and watching this sliver of a moon come up.

One last thing from today. No matter how a person resurrects their life in to something wonderful after a tragedy, there is a hole left by that person that will never be filled. I felt that today reading an old letter Cindy wrote me from college. She was one of a kind, never to be replaced, always remembered, not appreciated enough in life.

day 3

Today was a rough one. Another sleepless night, which is really getting to me.

(as you can see)

The records I read today didn’t help- Anke Dorn’s coddled, teeth pulling testimony. Knowing she’s out there living her life and she was every bit as involved in Cindy’s death as the ones in prison. At the very least, she could have saved her. She disgusts me.

Then i read the testimony of the medical examiner who did the autopsy. I’ve read it before, but it has never hit me as hard as it did today. The level of violence perpetrated on my sister, for what was a completely unprovoked financial motive. I don’t have words for how I’m feeling.

Read some more of this fascinating book called The Confidence Game and going to use that somehow in the book. It was hard to concentrate on it though for all of the above reasons.

Just hoping I can get some sleep tonight. I miss Edmonds so much. That place provided such a healing balm for me while facing all of this. I’ll get back there again one day.

Goodnight out there.

day 2

Well, I guess I’ll wrap it up for today. Happy to report I slept a full 6 hours straight last night, which is way more than I have for weeks. Hope the trend continues as I felt completely different this morning. Praying I’ve turned a corner with this–insomnia is not for sissies!

Finished reading all of my written chapters, started a new one condensing all of the major trial evidence/witness testimony (yes that’s a lot for one chapter) and started digging in to my totes filled with records. I found Cathy Hughes’ handmade, color coded charts she used in prep. You have to remember, these trials occurred in 1990, so technology was way different. There were no big screens in the courtroom, just flip charts on an easel. I re-read her closing argument today too and once again astounded by her brilliance in the courtroom.

I ran across some testimony referencing the crime scene technician who took all of the photos at the crime scene. I remembered an email I got from her two years ago, detailing the impact this had on her life from the tender age of 24 when she was at that job. I was busy dealing with my flooded condo in AZ at the time I received it, so went back and revisited it. Let’s just say I ended my day today with tears.

Gonna go forage for some dinner now and hunker down to get completely distracted with the drama of The Bachelorette. Right now, even the commercials will be a welcomed relief. I feel like I have so much done, but at the same time, so much more to be done for this book to be fully coherent and include everything I need to.

Ran across some totally personal materials of Cindy’s today too–her journal, a breakup letter she wrote to her boyfriend, etc. It’s that bittersweet feeling of seeing her handwriting and remembering her “voice” and at the same time feeling the deep emptiness of her loss. No wonder I am ready to take my break today.

Thanks as always for following along. Also including a funny screenshot of a little exchange I had with my husband this morning. It’s hiding in the collage above. He hits the right notes of seriousness and levity with me, but is always there as my constant support.

Here is a small snippet from a chapter I worked on today:

She walked slowly like a model on a runway, down the aisle between the benches, and stopped short of the swinging half door that separated the gallery from the well and just stood there, waiting for a butler perhaps to open it for her. She slowly and dramatically unbuttoned her coat with her dark polished, long finger-nailed hands, slid it dramatically off her shoulders and held it out in her hand, waiting for someone to take it. It was like watching Alexis Carrington walk into a formal party with a glint in her eye and attitude, knowing she was up to something devious. 

day 1

I’m exhausted. I’ve been experiencing insomnia for several weeks now. Had a medical appointment last week and discovered my adrenals shut down again- likely from the near-certain Covid my husband and I had back in March. He’s also having energy problems. I just can’t sleep. So, hoping that turns around soon w a new regime.

Anyway, I’m proud that I accomplished as much as I did today. I’ve read and taken notes on about 2/3 of what I’ve already written. I decided to stop as it’s clear my brain is being strained and hopefully will be more refreshed tomorrow. It’s also entirely emotionally draining to review all these memories.

It rained all day today. I’m grateful for this fireplace and candles and a cozy place to stretch out and hot tea.

I don’t have any snippets to share, but snapped some pics.

More tomorrow…

Yeah, Reese’s pumpkins

Cozy and warm

Getting settled in to my cute and cozy writing space for the week. A flock of geese welcomed me!

Thanks to John and Lillian for helping me haul all my stuff up here. Firing up the laptops and getting ready to reorient myself to this book.

Brought some of my homegrown flowers to keep me company
My hosts gifted me two bottles of wine
Cozy fireplace for these cold nights
All the totes tucked away pretty well- for now
Trying to decide if I start reading or pop open one of those 🍷
Lillian sent her giraffe Gabi to keep me company

here i go again

Well, after participating in Websleuths podcast a couple weeks back with Tricia Griffith, I got to thinking. As any of you following me here know, I’ve written 100% of this book in the Seattle area. I live my life by drawing firm boundaries around this material, one of which is that I don’t do any writing in my home (or bring any materials in here).

my beloved Edmonds

I got to thinking, that even though cross country travel isn’t in the cards right now (and how I miss Edmonds), maybe I could recreate something like that in my own back yard. I went to searching on Airbnb with some criteria that’s important to me and found a cozy space, with an expansive view and my own deck, next to the Susquehanna river and a fireplace about 12 miles from our home.

So I reserved it for just over a week, starting this weekend. I’m packing up everything I think I might need and running in to so many memories from my Edmonds trips. The nice thing about being so close, is I can bring all the totes containing all of the court records, that I hauled to Washington that first time. Obviously I wouldn’t fly with all of that (it’s like ten large plastic totes worth), so my generous husband has offered to go to check in with me on Sunday, and haul all of them up to the unit (yes it’s an upstairs loft), then return a week later and take them all back. It will be good having all that material at my fingertips again, to make sure I’ve got everything I need in the book.

For those who don’t know, this book is a true crime story wrapped in a memoir (or the other way around, not quite sure). I tell my own story, but most of the crime/trial/hearings/investigation etc. are told through exact materials from police reports/trial transcripts/interviews/my sister’s journal, etc. So getting those elements right is critical to the storytelling.

Anyway, as always, I will be posting daily as I’m writing. I can’t believe it’s all contained in this tiny thumb drive. I have over 30 complete chapters in there. I likely have 2-3 left to write. I will start, as always, by reading what I have start to finish, while taking notes.

Bringing all my comfort things along–candles, photos, “spa day” type stuff to keep me grounded.

I appreciate all of you who come along with me on this and offer your support, near and far, even if that is just reading here.

Wish me luck getting this finished, once and for all.

See you next week! xoxo