Excerpt Sunday #20


This is something I have only just begun so we’ll have to see if it goes anywhere or not. It’s called , Let It Go Already, and yet so far I’m not sure what has to be let go, so… enjoy.

Let It Go, Already!

 Emerson California, the kumquat capital of the west. Technically, Florida has more kumquats then we do, but for whatever the reason, Emerson has embraced the this smaller, stranger relative of an orange in a huge way. Everywhere you look there is some reference to the fruit that has put this tiny town of 4500 on the map. Even our high school mascot is a kumquat tree. I kid you not.

It’s a quaint, quiet little town to those observing from the outside in. Main street houses a couple of restaurants, the breakfast cafe, the barbeque joint and Jenny’s, a slightly higher end eatery. Then there’s the bakery, the grocery store, a dress shop, the hardware store, etc. Everyone knows everyone, or at least they know of each other. Secrets are always discovered. There’s no hiding in a place where everyone knows your name and the names of everyone in your family.

Why I am coming back here, I don’t know. This will either prove to be the smartest thing I’ve ever done, or my greatest regret. My 13 yr. old daughter, Ruby, who has lived in Los Angeles her whole life, and who will soon start high school with a kumquat tree as her mascot, is convinced she knows which way this will go. God, I hope she’s wrong.


My dad passed away two months ago and even then I hesitated to come home for the funeral. That’s how much anxiety even visiting this town has caused me in the past. This quiet, quaint, seemingly innocent little town. Elliot’s parents still live here. Elliot being Ruby’s father. In fact, they live not more than four blocks from where I have agreed to rent a house. A house that is across the street from the house I grew up in, and where my mother still resides. A house from which my sister, Elizabeth, lives only three doors down, at the end of the cul de sac.

Elizabeth is two years older than me and known as the most beautiful girl, now woman, to ever come out of Emerson. Try growing up with that as your sister. Needless to say, she married the star athlete of Emerson High. Robert Daniel Anderson was the MVP of both the football and baseball teams. His family owns the hardware store in town, as well as another one in Creekville, the next town over. He chose baseball over football when that proved to offer the best scholarship.

Robert and Elizabeth married right out of high school before moving to Miami where he would be attending school. They returned a year later when Robert slid into third base, somehow shattering his knee, and ruining his chance at a major league career. I tell myself if he could return and endure all that he has, I too can make a go of it.

Ruby is asleep when we pull into the driveway of the admittedly tired old craftsman house that will now serve as her home. It’s late afternoon and the sun reflects harshly off the glass of the front window. The front lawn is patchy and neglected, with what else, a kumquat tree stationed directly in the center of it. I take a deep breath and gently shake Ruby just as I hear my mother slam her screen door, squealing my name, “Holly!” as she runs down the front steps, and crosses the street to greet us.

“Oh dear God, shoot me now,” Ruby groans, not bothering to lift her lids.


When she does open her eyes and sees the house, she shakes her head in resigned disappointment. My mother, in denim capris, a white blouse and sneakers, reaches us and excitedly yanks open my door.

“What are you doing? Get out here and give me a hug!” she demands.

My mother is what people often refer to as a spitfire. She is full of nervous energy, and rocks me side to side as she hugs me tightly. Ruby slowly gets out of the car and clutches her pillow to her chest. My mother lets out another excited squeal, drops her arms from around me, and runs over to Ruby, nearly knocking her over with the enthusiasm of her hug. I can’t help but laugh. Ruby has never been to Emerson, and barely knows my mother, but she has been warned.

My mother steps back, looks Ruby up and down, and then reaches out to touch her silky blonde hair. I know what she is going to say before she speaks.

“You look just like your mother did at your age.”

“I know, I’ve seen the pictures,” Ruby tells her.

“Where are your cousins?” Mom asks, looking down the street. “They should be out here to greet you. Are you so excited? You must be so excited.” she declares.

“Over the moon,” Ruby mumbles.

Ruby doesn’t know her cousins because Elizabeth and I have ignored each other for years now. At some point it just became easier to go by the theory of, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all,” and therefore Ruby hasn’t seen her cousins since that last disastrous visit to Disneyland when she was five.

Elizabeth can be very judgmental and some would say I am overly sensitive. She never approved of Elliot, or our decision to leave Emerson, and she has never been shy about making her opinions known. When I was then less than understanding of her decision to leave Robert, it became easier to avoid one another. I never meant for things to get as strained and uncomfortable as they did, but life has a funny way of catching you by surprise. Before we knew it seven years had passed with nothing more than a Christmas card between us. When our dad died of a sudden heart attack, we were forced to confront how fleeting life can be.

“I’ve been cooking all day,” Mom announces. “Pot roast, homemade dinner rolls, and fresh apple pie. Do you like apple pie Ruby?”

“Sure,” she concedes.

“Terrific, well let me go get your cousins to help you unpack. Where is your furniture? Is the truck behind you?”

“What truck?” I laugh, as Ruby starts up to the front porch.

“With your furniture.”

“There’s no furniture, Mom. There’s just what we could grab.”

“What? Why? Where will you sleep?”

“We have an air mattress. We’ll be fine. Don’t make a big deal of it.”


“But nothing, this is a huge transition for Ruby and she doesn’t want any attention called to us, so please, please just keep this quiet,” I plead. “I’ll get us beds once I get my first paycheck. Until then, this goes no further.”


“Promise me. This is a new beginning, and we will get new things. In the meantime it’ll be an adventure.”


“Thank you. Don’t call anyone. I presume Elizabeth and the kids will be at dinner.”

“Of course.”

“So she can meet her cousins then.”

“Alright, of course. You both probably want to freshen up. Come over as soon as you want, but dinner is set for 5:30pm.”

“Okay, thanks.”

I kiss her cheek, pull a bag and lamp out of the car and head up to the front door, as my mother returns across the street.

Posted in Book Excerpts, My Blogs | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

I’m Live!…Not!



I’m pretty sure this is the only selfie I have ever taken, and I only did it because I had no recent pictures. I was tired of the one promotional photo I have so I tried to update it. There is actually one other but with no makeup or decent lighting, I just look old and tired. So, I’m not a big fan of people constantly taking pictures of themselves and posting them all over Facebook. I don’t need to see a duck-lip pose of you every other day. Well guess what, it’s just gotten worse.

Now Facebook lets everyone go “Live” and why? Sure Sean Hayes can be really amusing, and when a notification comes up that he is Live I will often take a look. Everyone else though, No! Nobody cares that you are on your way to the store. I don’t care that you are at a show I didn’t care enough to go to or that you are at dinner. The narcissism in this world has hit an all time high, and I for one wish we could dial it back. How about you? 

Posted in My Blogs | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Excerpt Sunday 19

Once again I feared I might be running out of excerpts but then I remembered the novel I began on New Year’s Day of this year. The working title is Falling Out. Enjoy!

 img_1904Life has a way of letting you know when it’s time to move on. If you are smart you pick up on the clues fate tosses your way rather quickly. You stop to look around,  take stock of your situation, and then you make whatever changes are necessary. If you are like me, it may take a while longer.

It wasn’t until New Year’s day, when I literally fell out of bed, that it dawned on me I was living a ridiculous life. It suddenly became blatantly clear that I had begun taking great lengths to avoid my husband as we slept at night. So much so that there was no longer room for me in our bed. Finally, I found it to be impossible to avoid the obvious. When you are sleeping that close to the edge, you are bound to fall, or as was the case for me, to hit the ground, literally.

I hit the floor with a thud, and yet the man I had vowed to love through sickness and health, till death do us part, didn’t even notice. Well, in truth he may very well have noticed, but if he did, he certainly didn’t bother to stir or check to see if I was okay. Fortunately the extra pillows I kept on the bed during the day, but threw onto the floor at night, softened my fall, so it was only my self esteem that was bruised. “This is no way to start the new year,” I couldn’t help thinking, as I pulled myself up and stumbled into our magnificent en suite bathroom. Say what you may about the mess my life had become, but no one could accuse me of not appreciating that bathroom. It was truly a sight to behold.

Picture if you will, an oasis in which spa-like does not even begin to do it justice. I have been to several spas over the years and not one of them has been as nice as that bathroom. All of the stone in the room is in similar color. The contrast comes from the finishes — rough travertine up the walls, honed travertine on the floors, and polished Crema Marfil marble on the countertops of the antique cabinets. The room is earthy yet elegant, spacious but intimate. In short, it is sheer perfection. Stepping into the shower, I knew leaving my marriage would be difficult, but giving up that bathroom I feared might actually kill me.

Posted in Book Excerpts, My Blogs | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Awards and Such


thepsychomother has awarded me the Liebster award, which like most blogging awards comes with the agreement to pass it on to others, as well as answer a series of questions. I always find the questions to be interesting, and yet I’m not up for contacting a group of new bloggers this week. At least not ones I haven’t already nominated in the past. Is that awful? I appreciate the award, but suffice to say there are some personal things going on this week that will deeply challenge my ability to concentrate. Fingers crossed everything will be fine, but you know how it is when you are temporarily left in limbo. Still, the questions will provide a distraction for which I am grateful. Be sure to check out thepsychomother She has a great tale of getting to see Hamilton among other great posts.

In the meantime, here are the questions she’s given me.

Where were you born and do you still live within a 100 mile radius of there?

I was born in Oakland, Calif. And moved to Los Angeles when I was 18

Why do you write?

You all know this, because I can’t not write. I have been writing since I was 7 or 8

Do you have a real job, or are you trying to make it with your blog? or are you writing a book?

It depends on what you consider a real job. I have published 6 novels to date and I have always helped out in my sister’s photography business. I have also been a full time mother, worked as a nanny, worked in retail once at Christmas time and worked for a company that went into schools to give kids security card. They were big for awhile in the early 2000s.

Are you married? children?

Never married (altho I always thought I would be) I’ve had 3 kids on my own.

If you could sit down with ONE person for ONE hour and ask them ANYTHING, WHO would YOU choose and WHY?

Wow, that’s hard. If we are including those who have passed it might be my mother who passed away when my son was only 5, and long before my girls were born. I’d love to hear her thoughts on all kinds of subjects. Alive, maybe Sandra Bullock, because after all she really needs to be turning several of my novels into films. Plus I think as different as we are, we have certain things in common.

If you could go back to any ONE part of your life and re-live it, what part would it be?

I’d go back to when I was 18 and I would be braver. Suffice there was a guy…

Who was/is the most influential person in your life and why?

Oddly it was Patti Smith whom I’ve never met, but who was a huge influence at a very pivotal time in my life.

What do you do for fun?

Write, draw, go to hockey games when I can and best of all, laugh with family!

Where do you like to go for vacation?

Lake Tahoe is beautiful and as a California girl, obtainable. I also love Yosemite. I once drove cross country to see Bruce Springsteen in Philly and would love to go back east again as well as get to Europe.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?

I honestly can’t say. This is a time of big changes, or will it be? I have one child in Arizona, One in College in San Francisco and my last child may or may not go to college in N. Calif, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she takes a turn and ends up in Colorado or even Nashville. Will I move closer to any one of them? Sooner or later I know I will.

Has your life gone exactly as you expected/planned? Explain

Not even close! Like I said, I was going to be married, I was sure of it. Writing has always been a part of the plan but let’s be real, my novels should be bestsellers by now, and I was going to have 6 kids, not just three.

Posted in My Blogs | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Excerpt Sunday 17

F. 680 025

I thought I might be running out of novels I’ve written to take excerpts from, but then I remembered this one. I wrote this last year or maybe even the year before. It’s only 175 pages so I am giving you just the intro. It’s titled Connections.


The story I am about to tell is unbelievable, which is not to say it isn’t true, because it is. Everything I am about to relay really happened, you are just liable to think I’m nuts when you hear about it.

It began two years ago, shortly after the death of my twin brother, Mac. Before you jump to conclusions, and think, oh she must be crazy with grief and that’s why this story doesn’t, or won’t make sense, let me stop you right there. I loved Mac with all my heart, but that is not what this is about. We were not those twins who had to do everything together, or who knew what the other was going to say before they said it. We were fiercely independent, even if that’s not how the world wanted us to be.

From the day we were born we were considered one. My parents were not expecting twins. They were broke at the time, and instead of spending money on ultrasounds and prenatal visits to the doctor, they chose to spend what little money they had, filing for divorce. They didn’t even come up with a second name. When we were born they had only one name they could agree on, McKenzie, which they had decided would work for either a boy or a girl. Shocked by the two of us, they simply split it, naming me Kenzie and my brother, Mac.

So Mac was in New York at the time of his death, pursuing a girl of course, by the name of Jennifer Christianson. Mac always fell for unobtainable girls, and to his credit, he always won them over. Then he would tire of them and fall madly, deeply, in love with someone else. It was a pattern he’d learned from my mother who has been married six times and counting. Jennifer was the lead singer of the band Rollover, when he first became infatuated with her. She was also engaged, but that apparently hadn’t stopped either one of them from becoming involved. On that fateful night they were both drunk, and taking a walk through Central Park after Jennifer’s boyfriend had come across them kissing in a hallway. Mac climbed up on a bridge/walkway to make a point, fell, and cracked his head on the pavement below.

I knew the minute it happened. Not because of any freaky twin super connection, but because I saw Mac looking confused, standing in a crowd across from me, at a time when I knew he couldn’t possibly be in the same state as me, let alone the same room. I was ironically enough, at a concert by The Killers, in Los Angeles. Mac had called me from New York two hours earlier to ask if I was going to do anything special for my/our thirtieth birthday, because Jennifer and everyone else he knew, thought it was weird that we weren’t going to be together.

I closed my eyes, but very clearly heard him say, “Oh this is messed up!” When I reopened my eyes he was gone, so I did my best to dismiss it. The band was playing Brightside, one of my favorites. I pushed any weirdness away, reasoning that someone else had been speaking, and that the guy I had seen had obviously just been someone who looked like Mac. The rest of the concert was fantastic, and afterwards my friends and I went to The House of Pancakes to make pigs of ourselves, while debating the highlights of the show.

Posted in Book Excerpts, My Blogs | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

You Just Never Know

stats 1stats2

It kind of blows my mind that this post, Strange Reviews that I considered not writing, is the one that has been seen all over the world. I guess it just goes to show that if there is one thing we all have in common, it’s how strange things are.

Posted in My Blogs | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Strange Reviews

Vacation 281

As you may or may not know I considered writing this post last week, but went with a Friday Visual post instead. Still, Arlee said he’d be curious to hear what I had to say, so what the heck. On a Hot August Afternoon was first published in June of 2012, and over the next several months I collected reviews. I can’t remember the exact number but then Amazon went through that phase where they took down various reviews for seemingly no reason. I ended up with ten, and it stayed at ten for a long time.

Last week I happened to notice it said I had 13 reviews, so I looked to see what had been added. There were suddenly two reviews from last year and one from April of this year. I’ll be honest and say none were great, all falling in the 2 & 3 star range. But when I read them, they also didn’t always make sense. For example, one refers to one of the main characters as Pedro. There is no character named Pedro. Granted, his name is Pete, but really? This same review says “I decided on this rating because it had a nice flow easy to read. Had a great story line, but I only gave it 2 stars.” Why? Then she discusses the Ms. H. Who the heck is that? Apparently she got on her nerves, whoever she is.

The 3 star review starts this way, “Bridget M Straub is a talented writer, I always love when karma pays a cheater a visit but the author had me feeling sympathy for h’s sister when it happened to her.” What? h’s sister? Is it just me or does this sound like the same person again? And does h stand for husband? Was his sister cheated on? His sister is getting married.

I can’t pretend to understand how Amazon operates.Why these reviews have suddenly appeared I don’t know. The question is this, although not great reviews, both have nice things to say along with their criticisms, so do I report them as abuse (an option they offer) or just leave them?

Posted in My Blogs | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments