It’s no secret that I feel wronged by Sacha Baron Cohen’s tactics to involve my mother in his movie. The level of disgust and disappointment I feel runs deep. But this scandal has also spurred me into writing. Not only is writing my outlet, but I also feel that I owe this to my mother.
As many of you know, I have been planning on writing the third and final book in my Pinnacle series. However, with my mother’s passing and her encounter in the movie Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, my priorities have changed. My new project is writing a fictionalized family history including my mother’s biography. What makes this book unique is that I will write in first person POV—like I did with my first two books, Pinnacle Lust and Bloody Coffee—but in dual perspectives.
While shooting for the moon, I hope to craft a novel where you will hear the story from two people: my grandmother who was murdered in a concentration camp during WWII, and my mother who survived the Holocaust. The challenge of writing in first person POV, navigating between the past and the present in Heaven, is intriguing.
This novel is based on a true story and historical facts. To protect some family, I have changed two characters’ names. But does it really matter who the person behind the character is, or is it the story and message you get from a book? It doesn’t make any difference what name I give a character, what’s important is that I develop a character that you love or hate.
A significant portion of the book will be dedicated to exposing the truth on my mother’s involvement in the Borat Subsequent Moviefilm—was she duped or not—what techniques did Sacha Baron Cohen use? The way in which Cohen undermined my mother’s life’s work to make the world a better place might create a great two-minute scene in his movie but left a sour taste for the family.
If my mother was still alive, what would she say to Sacha Baron Cohen? I feel that it is my obligation to tell the world how my mother built her life—from an orphan during the Holocaust to being a well-known public speaker on the Holocaust.
With this said, of course, the third book in the Pinnacle series is going to be pushed back—this new project is just too important to me, too close to my heart, to be put off. I hope you’ll agree that it’s worth it.
It’s been a while. A year and a half, actually, since I’ve shared a blog post or written anything publicly. What’s been going on?
The short answer: Life has gotten in the way. The long answer is a bit more complicated.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, my mother passed away after a short illness—and I was shattered. My mother, who was my best friend, my mentor, and someone I looked up to for advice, left me empty with her death. In the days, weeks, and months after her passing, I felt lost and unanchored.
It is hard to believe that during the time of Covid-19, one could find a silver lining. But I did. With the pile of restrictions that comes with a pandemic, I did not and would not consider in-patient hospice care for my mother’s final weeks—I couldn’t bear the thought of not being able to comfort her at this time. As some of you may know, it was not long ago that I was still working as a registered nurse—and once a registered nurse, always a registered nurse—so, I was determined to provide my mother with in-home hospice care instead of leaving her in strange hands. I won’t lie, there is nothing harder to do than to give your own mother the magic drug, morphine—yet despite it all, I am grateful that she took her last breaths in my arms, crossing over into Heaven as the powerful and charismatic soul that she was.
Writing is my outlet; it’s where I also find comfort. Now, when all I’m left with are memories, I’m back at my keyboard, writing again. Only this time, I’m writing to tell her story and bring honor to her life. But more than that, I’m writing to expose what happened at the beginning of this year, her unintended involvement in Sacha Baron Cohen’s new Borat Subsequent Moviefilm mockumentary.
I hate that the scandal Cohen created for his film spoiled the memories my family and I have of our mother. If we could only go back in time and remember her without the Cohen drama, I could focus on my grief. I’ll save my words on this subject for now, but know that I’m back at the keyboard—and my next work will be to shed light on the facts.
If you know me, you may remember Ashley, or have at least heard about her. I often talk about her and mention her in my blogs and my Facebook posts.
Ashley is 34 and a beautiful young woman who was born with a rare genetic disorder, cystic fibrosis (CF). At the age of three months, after recurring episodes where she arrived at the hospital severely dehydrated, she was diagnosed with CF and was expected to live 8 to 16 years. Shocking.
For almost twenty years now, I've been fighting daily to provide Ashley with a normal life. And while I want to make everything happen for her, it is not always possible.
As CF progresses with time, more medical problems and complications surface, and more adjustments are needed. With more time spent in the hospital, six to eight hours of treatment each day, a robust regime of daily workouts and many medications, there is not much time left for anything else. And beyond all of this, the clock is ticking.
I'll admit, the improvements in screening and treatments provide cystic fibrosis patients with a better quality of life and a longer life span than decades before. Today, the average lifespan of a person with CF is mid-to-late 30s. However, some CF patients are living into their 40s and 50s.
The dream of a double lung transplant is hidden in every CF person and his or her family. The thought of more air, relaxed breathing, no treatments, and no mucus stuck in the way, is beyond understanding. It's a dream that often gets thinned by fears of a transplant ordeal and its risks.
On May 16, a day after Ashley turned 34, she was called to come to the hospital as there was a possible donor for her. The rush to the hospital was surreal. Twelve hours later, the final call came and Ashley was rolled on a stretcher to the operating room. As the doors were closed and we were all led to the waiting room, time seemed as if it had stopped. Our medical knowledge didn’t matter anymore. The stress grew, and the night became longer.
The ordeal was long and arduous. Thirteen hours in the OR, days in ICU, and six weeks in the hospital. Complications and fears. Questions and the unknown. A dedicated mother, a loving sister, a stepfather, a stepmother, and a post-kidney-transplant father, who was—and still is, restricted from seeing his transplanted daughter.
Yes, it's a lot. But for a life with no mucus and for the freedom from the long hours of daily treatments of the nebulizer and chest percussions, and the ability to walk around without lugging oxygen…CF patients will pay any price.
Now, at home, I'm still astonished by how quiet it is without the loud, shrieking, constant cough, or the annoying sound of the breathing machine that beats on her chest daily for six long hours. Even the stains of the sodium chloride from her daily respiratory treatments are gone…and the mess, and the trash, syringes, needles, vials... It's all gone.
Still, there is a long way to go.
With daily visits to the hospital where she is under the care of a dedicated medical team, Ashley was able to progress and overcome some of the complications that came with the double lung transplant. Sadly, she is now experiencing rejection and will have to start an aggressive treatment. Hopefully, she’ll get better. Yet, if all goes well, it will be a long time before Ashley is able to work or to get back to a normal life.
Ashley’s journey is beyond words. It is an emotional, mental,and financial burden. Without complication, the cost of a double lung transplant is well over a million dollars. But when complications like rejection occur, you never know what the final bill will be. This leaves Ashley with current bills that are difficult to pay out of her pocket.
Luckily, the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) established a fund for Ashley. If this fund raises $50,000 for Ashley by September 15, COTA will contribute $5,000, which will be very helpful. While this is a gesture of good will, it cannot cover all the expenses. This fund is managed by an unrelated individual and is restricted to pay off Ashley’s medical bills and daily living expenses.
Dreams are a hope for better. If, and when, they come true, we pray they won't go away, and that we will be able to enjoy the moment….and breathe.
If you wish to read more about Ashley or help her breathe, please visit her page on COTA, or click here. Ashley greatly appreciates any support and help you might consider.
I take a deep breath every day, thanking all my friends for their support and all my devoted readers for their patience. As soon as we get more air, I will be back with my weekly blogs and,hopefully, will be able to publish my next book this year.
For The Love Of Fruitcake
Holidays are filled with many traditions. Though many might celebrate the same holidays, each family has its own special way of bringing the joy of the holiday into their home and life.
It is our background and culture that help shape the way we celebrate the holidays, making it unique and meaningful to each of us. It’s not only the region where we were born and raised that plays a major role in our celebrations, but also individual family’s customs and preferences that are handed down from generation to generation.
Food is featured prominently in our holiday customs—its flavor and presentation are greatly affected by tradition.
Let’s talk fruitcake. Fruitcake has been one of my favorite foods for many years. However, it was never included on our family holiday menus—that’s why I never bothered to find a recipe and prepare it—occasionally I just get it in the store. However, living and traveling all over the world allowed me the opportunity to explore the many different variations of this holiday tradition. After treating myself to this cake outside of the United States, I understand why many Americans don’t care for it—and why it has become the source of many jokes.
Fortunately, my Romanian friend keeps her family’s tradition alive: Not only does she bring it to her own household and family, but also she brings it to me along with the splendid flavor I experienced while being abroad.
With my passion for cooking, I reached out to her, asking if she would share the recipe. “Don’t worry about it. It’s easier for me to just make it for you,” she said.
I figured the language barrier was in her way—writing a recipe in English would take her out of her comfort zone. I finally convinced her to teach me how to bake it.
As I stand in my kitchen and go through the steps she taught me, I promise you this: if this fruitcake unfolds in my house, in my kitchen, in my oven as it does in my memories from the days I lived in Europe, I’ll invite you to my kitchen and share the recipe with you.
If you happen to have a “to die for” fruitcake recipe (with the sauce that goes with it), please send it my way.
I wish you a delicious holiday.
The Magic Of Lust
Many of you who read my book would agree that when sex meets real love, the magic of lust is what you feel.
It’s not often that a relationship’s climax is unveiled or even reachable. Anyone in this life who has experienced that one-time love would relate to my statement—maybe would even say it’s an understatement.
The novel Pinnacle Lust replicated the sex and love between two characters that created the phenomenon of lust.
Writing graphic sex scenes is a challenge. Unless you wish to unfold a tacky and cheap love story, you have to carefully craft this type of scene.
Here is one scene from my book, Pinnacle Lust, where love and sex created an infinite lust between two people that became lost in their incredible relationship.
Bashfully, I opened the bathroom door just enough to let my hand sneak in a towel and place it at the very end of the countertop. I was about to close the door but Sloan didn’t like the way I acted.
“Hey, the floor is going to get wet,” he said.
Is he trying to convince me to hand him the towel? I stepped back in the bathroom, grabbed the towel, looked straight in his eyes, not glancing down, and threw it toward him.
“Good catch,” I said once the towel was in his hands.
“Don’t you want to get wet?” he asked mischievously.
“I’m already wet,” I said with an inviting smile.
“Let me see,” he wrapped the towel around his waist and stepped out of the shower.
“See what?” I asked.
“How wet you are,” he said as he lifted me up and set me on the counter, keeping his arms around me. I bet the tight jeans I had on didn’t leave much to his imagination. His lips skimmed over my neck. He studied my smell, inhaling me deep into his lungs and his memory. I took the next step and wrapped my legs around him. It didn’t take long before his hands traveled under my loose, sleeveless shirt. I wiggled closer to him.
“You are hot,” he whispered.
“So are you,” I said.
“I missed you.” He looked at me. I had no choice but to believe him. I felt secure and protected. I had to trust my feelings but still needed reassurance.
“Did you really?”
“I honestly did,” he said.
“Is that good or bad?”
“It’s bad,” he said and picked me up with his strong arms and carried me to the bedroom. He gently put me on the bed. I looked at him and saw nothing but lust. I let him take the rest of my clothes off and explore my body. I was wet by all means. His touch was magical, the most sensual I’d ever felt. He was ready to glide into me and to take me back to the same places we visited the day before. My body grew heavy and my legs shivered. I looked straight into his eyes, trying to find some assurance that he was going to make love to me and not just have sex. He leaned toward me, gently kissed my knees, and let his lips travel north. By the time he reached my nipples we were ready to engage our bodies. I kept my legs around him and turned him on his back. I wanted to be on top this time, to control the pace of our erotic motions. I felt that it was my turn to lead. And I did…
~Chapter 14, Pinnacle Lust, by Michelle Dim-St. Pierre~
If you haven’t read Pinnacle Lust, now would be a good time to delve into a book that delivers you real characters that are so easy to engage with, along with a captivating story from everyday life. Pinnacle Lust is the first novel of a trilogy and now it is offered as holiday special with a full rebate after 45 days from the date of purchase.
The second book of the Pinnacle trilogy is scheduled to be released in 2018. Each of the installments in the trilogy is a stand-alone book…but reading them all in sequence will leave you in awe. Brace yourself for the other part of these characters’ relationship, where pain creates a reunion and reality to what started out just as an affair.
Give the gift of a book to yourself or to someone special.
Facebook, the giant tool of social media, keeps many of us busy all day long. It was not long ago that people spent time on Facebook trying to reconnect with the world—people searched for others from their past and quickly brought them to their present. Nowadays, Facebook serves as a place where people market themselves or their business, while others find it as a comfort zone where they can express themselves or find sympathy. Sure enough, in no time, people learned everything about everyone—yuck.
About three months ago an acquaintance of mine posted on Facebook. As I read the post, I noticed that he made a significant spelling error. It was not an autocorrect error or a typo… It was a mistake.
ontemplated whether I should bring this to his attention. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings or embarrass him in public.
Finally, I sent him a private message, telling him he should edit his post so it would be errorless. I even went as far as to include in my message what would be the right word to use. I reread my message several times and finally pushed the button to send it.
Seconds later, my Facebook friend sent me a message, thanking me for bringing this spelling issue to his attention.
Similar to that incident, look what happened to me. Two days ago, I posted my Blog #50 late at night. As always, I included a few photos to create a more attractive blog.
The next day an acquaintance of mine posted a comment to my blog page stating, “Watch your grammar dear.” Wow, that was loud, I thought. I rushed to check my blog and noticed that one of the images I included had text in it—and it had a grammatical error. Obviously, she was right. Not only was there a grammar mistake, but also as an author, I shouldn’t post anything that doesn’t convey proper English. I kept my response to her on the lighter side as I tried to put some humor in it and also admitted guilt—“It is not my English… lol. But you are right, I shouldn’t have posted it.” I was sure that this would satisfy her, and decided not to replace the image.
Surprisingly, that was not the case. The picky acquaintance had more to say. She went on and on, hanging me in public. At that point, I found it more than just loud—I thought it was rude. I replied to her post, telling her to move on, that she made her point very clear and that there was no need continue. Not only did I think she was rude, but I was also upset. What got to me the most was that juvenile game of Ping-Pong that I went through with her.
Finally, I put my emotions aside and hid the entire dialog with her so that no one else would see it.
Apparently, removing it from my page didn’t wipe it off my heart or from my memory. People are odd, I thought. Does she go around commenting on every grammatical mistake she sees on Facebook? Because that would require more hours than a full-time job.
What I truly wanted to tell her is that you don’t build yourself a hill by digging a hole for someone else.
What would you do? Would you bring it to someone’s attention in a private or public?
Achievement and success aren't necessarily the same. While one fulfills your goals and dreams the other will bring you earnings.
Which one of these is more important? Well, it depends who you ask.
To me achievement is often more significant than success. Don’t get me wrong; of course I like the success part. Yet, the feeling of accomplishment is beyond words—the butterflies in the stomach, the weak knees, and the lightheaded feeling—is mesmerizing. That hypnotic moment when the adrenaline reaches high levels and then drops.
It’s addictive. And when it happens, it stays with me for a long time.
Yesterday, the first order of packaging supplies for my new business, Crooked Cracker, arrived at the door. I was so excited and couldn’t wait to open the box. I was eager to see the supplies. I hoped they would be as attractive as I had envisioned when I placed the order.
As I unpacked the delivery and examined the supplies for some time, it felt much the same as when my first box of published books arrived. Both were a sign of accomplishment. They brought a feeling of hope for great things to come—the success.
Which is most important to you, accomplishment or success?
New Business Survival Guide
Starting a new business involves more than just an idea and funds for the initial investment. There are numerous steps before you can open your door and actually conduct business.
It has now been over seven months since my initial idea to manufacture my Incredible Crooked Crackers. Each breakthrough in the process led to new problems. The process has been wearing with very little joy. I quickly learned that what I needed most was patience… Well, those of you who know me will agree that there is very little of this characteristic in me. I need everything to be done right away if not yesterday.
Here are a few things to remember if you want to start a new business.
It’s all about being patient! How much patience do you have?
Look Who Is Here
My first guest blogger is here.
Two weeks ago, on my Blog #41, I opened my blog page to anyone out there who wishes to publish a blog. I didn’t think a professional editor would take me up on the offer. As I saw the request from Kristen Hamilton, the founder and owner of Kristen Corrects, to post on my blog page, I was in awe. Wouldn’t you be?
I first met Kristen when she proofread my novel, Pinnacle Lust, and felt that I hit the jackpot—so of course I immediately added her to my professional team…and the rest is history.
Having Kristen as a guest blogger on my page is something to shout about. I can’t beat the drum loud enough to convey my respect and admiration for her work, professionalism, and personality.
All that’s left for you is to enjoy her writing…on a rather light-hearted and relatable subject.
3 Life Lessons from Cats
Nov. 30, 2017, By Kristen Hamilton
My two passions in life are cats and books. I can’t decide which I like better—enjoying a good book on a wintery afternoon or cuddling up with one of my kitties. (Ideally, it would be both: reading a good book while a kitty is on my lap.)
I work from home as a book editor, which means I get the best of both worlds during each 40-hour workweek. Especially now during the winter months, when I’ve cranked up the heat in my office, I’m inundated with my three cats: Sophie (6), who is quiet and refined; Charlie (3), who is rambunctious and the center of attention; and Jack (2), who is scared of everything and loves forts. Here’s what I’ve learned from working with my three cats.
1. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.
Sophie will occasionally position herself in front of my computer screen, blocking my view of work and halting all productivity, indicating she wants something. Sometimes I sigh and nudge her out of the way, but other times I realize this is a good reminder that when you want something, you have to make it happen.
The next time I had to have a difficult conversation with a client, I looked into Sophie’s steely eyes, hardened myself, and made the call. Smart cat.
2. Sometimes, drawing attention to yourself is key.
I am so passionate about being a small business owner, but I cringe at the thought of touting about my accomplishments. But then Charlie gallops into the room, pushing open the door so fast that it bounces off the opposite wall, and makes his presence known. (Usually this ends with me giving him milk or throwing a toy for him to chase—either way, it ends well for the cat.)
It’s moments like these I realize that sometimes, showing people what you’re made of is the best way to get the attention and recognition you deserve. And, just like Charlie, when I show off my accomplishments, good things are bound to happen.
3. Self-care is priority number one.
If I pull out a blanket, I can count on Jack to be there. Within seconds, Jack will come scurrying from the woodwork to nestle himself between my legs and the blanket, peering out from his self-made fort. As the epitome of a “scaredy cat,” Jack hides anytime he hears a loud noise, and unlike Sophie (who will merely flick her tail in annoyance) or Charlie (who will go investigate), Jack will retreat to the safety of the fort.
And herein lies a great lesson: From Jack I’ve learned that sometimes, choosing to do what makes you feel safest and most comfortable is the best route. In my work, I have a hard time saying no to last-minute client requests, even though I know that adding to my already-full plate will cause me stress. The last time I had to prioritize my own time over work commitments, I peeked at Jack in the fort, thought about self-care, and made the right decision to respect my personal time.
If anyone can teach us about how to be a better human in work and life, look at a cat. They’ve got their stuff together.
If you’re like me, you must have enjoyed reading about Kristen and her cats.
I’ve always wondered if any of Kristen’s editing is done by her cats.