Read Crissi Langwell a few times and you'll feel like you're really getting to know her.
Crissi, my colleague at The Press Democrat, has been tugging on heartstrings for a few years now with her personal tales of raising children and teenagers &#8211; first as a single mother and now as a mom in a blended family. Her stories have appeared in the print version of the newspaper and online at such sites as winecountrymom.com.
Crissi also wrote a pivotal chapter in last spring's "Sonoma Squares Murder Mystery," a fictional serial created by 16 Press Democrat and local writers. You can see her chapter <a href="http://digitalestories.blogs.pressdemocrat.com/17839/sonoma-squaresred-harvest-8-showdown/" target="_blank">here</a>.
Recently she's published her first novel, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/A-Symphony-Cicadas-Forever-After-ebook/dp/B00BV6GYSE" target="_blank">"A Symphony of Cicadas."</a>
"This book is based off a bad dream I had that was so vivid I knew I had to write it down," Crissi writes. The nightmare came while she was preparing for her own wedding.
Crissi acknowledges that for the novel's main character she transferred some of her own experiences "of what it was like to parent a teenager, and the evolution that exists in the relationship with a stepchild."
"However, the main purpose of the story was to share what happens when a life that is laid out so perfectly suddenly tilts on its side."
Here is a chapter from the book, in which the heroine, Rachel Ashby, in preparation for her marriage, takes her 13-year-old son to be fitted for a tuxedo. And then her world changes.
<strong>A Symphony of Cicadas
By Crissi Langwell</strong>
"That wasn't that bad, now was it?" I asked him. He turned to me in disbelief as we got into the car.
"Are you serious?" he asked. "That was horrible! Please say I don't need to do that ever again."
"Honestly, Josiah. What was so awful about that?" I kept my eyes on the road as we pulled out of the driveway and back through the quaint town. He mumbled something out of the side of his mouth in response that I couldn't quite understand. "What?" His sigh was deep as he shifted in his seat.
"She touched the 'd,'" he mumbled again.
"What? The 'dee'? What the heck are you talking about?" I asked him, confused.
"The 'd,' Mom. The boys. When she was measuring my leg, her hand brushed against it." It suddenly clicked as to what he was talking about. She had touched his penis during her measurements. And while the measurements had taken only a few moments, it must have lasted a lifetime for my teenage son. Judging by the way Joey slumped even lower in his seat, it may even have been an eternity. As I grasped what Joey was telling me, the laughter started bubbling up from deep inside me. I tried my hardest not to laugh, but I was almost crying by the time I gave up and burst out laughing.
"Mom! It's not funny!" he protested.
"I'm sorry," I chuckled, wiping my eyes. "It's totally not." I glanced over at him, and the wide look in his eyes almost sent me over the top. I bit my lip and shook with silent laughter. He couldn't help but smile as I laughed, breaking into a sheepish grin.