About Me

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Born Linda Marie Cassells, my named changed over the years. I was called Miki in high school by close friends. My name was changed to Charity while a member of the Children of God in the 70's and then changed to Caridad, while living in Costa Rica. I began writing this Memoir In June 2010. I invite you to join me in the writing, editing, publishing and marketing journey.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Hola from Mexico. Thanks to each and every one of you who have supported me in my writing over the last two and a half years. I appreciate you! 

A well-written book needs fresh ingredients: flavor, spice, nutrients, color. Scenes need to be palatable, visual, enticing. That is what I've been doing over the last couple of years. Learning to write well. Learning to have the right ingredients in my Memoir.


Unstoppable is divided into three main parts and the first two are DONE and ready to be published. I’m here in Mexico polishing the third section.

The book title continues to evolve. The newest one is, Unstoppable: Rebellion, Renewal & Redemption, My Journey to The House of Hope. 

This title ties into my three-part true-life story. Part one of the memoir is “Rebellion” (my early years), part two “Renewal” (my Children of God years) and part three “Redemption” (the House of Hope years).

Over the next few weeks, I'd like to invite each of you to write part of a scene from Unstoppable.  I’ll start the paragraph and let you fill in how you think it ended or should end. 

Here we go:

#1 (scene from chapter 1) :  "…Just then, the jail door opened and three angry-looking policemen shoved the missing six commune brothers, including Watchman, our leader, into the cell. Two of the boys had bruised faces and swollen eyes. 
“What happened?” Peter asked.
“You won’t believe it,” Watchman said, finding a place to sit in the cell. “Twenty-five policemen showed up at the house, broke through the front and back doors, and tore the house apart. They questioned all of us and beat up Joshua and Matthew.”
I watched his face flush with anger while his voice remained calm, even, controlled.
“Why? What do they think we’ve done?” I asked in disbelief.
 The first shades of fear shuddered through me.
“They were looking for drugs,” Watchman said. “They kept shouting something about ‘hippies and drogas.’”
“Drugs? We’re just young people here in Mexico helping other young people,” Mayra said. “That’s not a crime, is it?”
Suddenly, the overhead light bulb that had struggled to illuminate our area flickered and died out, leaving us in semi-darkness. The moon, peeking through two small windows near the ceiling, provided a sliver of light..."

Now your turn…Complete the scene from your imagination by writing it as a comment. I'll publish your responses on the blog. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Chapter One


My writing journey continues as I polish scene after scene, chapter after chapter of my manuscript, Unstoppable. My Journey to the House of Hope. I am honored to be working with Linda Joy Myers from the National Association on Memoir Writers (NAMW). Her coaching is making me dig deeper into memory  and I am learning to write vivid scenes, not just "the facts." Scenes that will allow you, the reader to see, smell, hear and feel with me. Below is what may be the first part of Chapter One. I say "may be" because the writing is not over until it's in hardback. I'm looking for a chapter that will hook the reader (you) into wanting to read more.  Please check out this beginning and tell me what you think. I  look forward to hearing your comments. Thank you!  Linda   


CHAPTER I
October 19, 1972
Dear Mom and Dad,
I’m in jail. We were arrested last night after singing to a big crowd in the town square here in Merida, Mexico. After our last song we talked to the teenagers gathered in the plaza and then walked back to our vans, laughing and talking. We were suddenly surrounded by armed policemen who ordered us into the vans and drove us here to the jail.
I’m sitting on a filthy, cold, concrete floor in a small, narrow holding area with three other girls. We’re outside a jail cell occupied by six brothers from our commune. The drunk-tank is on my right. It reeks of alcohol, urine and vomit. We don’t know why the police arrested us or how long we will be here. I have to use the bathroom, but there is only one toilet and it is out in the open.
                                  Your daughter, Linda

“Mayra, are you awake?” I whispered. “I need you to hold up this newspaper for privacy while I use the bathroom.”
“Mayra’s asleep,” Esther whispered back. “I’ll go with you, I need to go too.”
Toilet duties completed, we lay back down and tried to sleep. I took in short, shallow breaths to avoid inhaling the fetid air around me. A symphony of snores from the drunk-tank broke through moments of silence. The old newspapers, my bed for the night, offered no cushioning on the damp cement floor.
I didn’t feel fear, just confusion as to why we’d been arrested——and I wondered when the police would let us go. Mayra, Esther and Sarah, my commune sisters, huddled nearby, equally uncomfortable.
 

Friday, July 27, 2012




UNSTOPPABLE
A Journey to Hope
A couple of months ago, I completed a thorough punctuation and grammar review with my book doctor, Sue Clark. Shortly thereafter, I interviewed with a small, indie publisher on the phone and she asked me to email her my manuscript for review and possible publication.  I didn’t.
Why? Because a small, jittery feeling inside me said, “You’re not ready.”  Aghast, I responded, “Not ready? I spent one whole year writing non-stop.  Then I spent a year editing and revising.  Friends, groups and family read parts of the manuscript and suggested changes, which I made. How could I not be ready?”
Thus is the life of a writer.
Truth is, I could submit my manuscript to a variety of POD (printing on demand) companies today, pay the required fees and have a book in my hand, and yours, within a four to six week time period.
However my small, jittery, inner voice convinced me that, with some work, the manuscript can become a much better product.  I listened to that voice.
Linda Joy Meyer, President of the National Association of Memoir Writers (www.namw.com), assessed the manuscript, encouraged me to make some pivotal changes, and is now my memoir writing coach. Through her coaching, I am adding depth to the story. 
It’s like a tree. Every manuscript should have a big tree in it. Mine does. Each tree should have tree limbs, branches and leaves.  Mine does. However, my tree needed more branches and lots more leaves.   While I’m adding a few more branches and lots more leaves to my tree, I’ve also submitted the manuscript, chapter by chapter to a local, Inspire Christian Writers, critique group.  Their input has been incredibly valuable. 
How much longer? Well, I’m learning to admire all the writers in the world who have finally published a quality book. I now know how difficult a process it is. I must admit I was very naïve. Linda Joy Meyer thinks we can be done earliest by November (if I’m diligent) and latest by mid-January.
I’ve been told by professionals not to “marry” my book title, just “date” it. Right now, I’m dating a new title…”UNSTOPPABLE. My Journey to Hope.”
What is your experience with writing? Were you as naïve as me?  Did you expect writing and publishing to be fast and easy? Do you like the title I'm dating?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Prologue


Prologue

House of Hope, Love Without Borders

 
May, 1986

The thin, twenty-one-year-old girl walked down the stairs from the plane now sitting on the tarmac at the Tijuana Airport. I watched her make her way uncertainly toward the airport terminal, shoulders slumped and her head down. When she reached the double-glass doors, she raised her head to scan the crowd. As soon as she saw me her face lit up with a smile. I ran to her and gathered her in my arms for a long, warm embrace. It had been seven years since I’d seen her—she’d been fourteen at the time. Now, she was grown up, but still so very small.
 Bienvenida, mi hija, welcome. I’m so glad you’re here,” I said as I took in her deep brown eyes and bony physique. “Are you ready to do this?”
I had spent ten years trying to get her from Costa Rica and finally she had arrived. I couldn’t help but see the tiny little girl who’d been given to me by her father when she was just eleven. I’d been working in Costa Rica, at the House of Hope, for nearly a year by then. In another lifetime.
“I’m scared,” she answered. “What happens if we get caught? Will I get sent back?” She looked around furtively, as if expecting someone to take her away.
“I don’t want to think about that,” I answered.
I walked her to the parked car where my three friends, Jasper, Jenna and Ceci waited.  
“She’ll sit in the back next to me, “I said. “Ceci, you sit on her left side. Jasper will drive and Jenna will be in the front passenger seat. Let’s go.”
We left the Tijuana Airport and drove north to the U.S. border station. I held Ana Cecilia’s trembling hand. We were all nervous. Back in Costa Rica, so many years ago, I’d promised to never leave her. But I had. I didn’t want to lose her again.
I took a deep breath, willing my heart to beat normally. “Va estar bien, it will be okay,” I said, to assure her and myself.
Five cars were ahead of us as we neared the border guard’s booth. We’d timed our border passing for rush hour traffic, expecting the guards to be less attentive. As we got close, each of us prayed silently that we would be allowed to pass over the border without being detained.  
Continued....soon 

Monday, June 4, 2012

House of Hope: Love Without Borders (new title)

     I will confess that I wanted to keep, "Dear Mom and Dad, Please Send Money," as the book's title. I really did. So many of you encouraged me to do so. But every professional involved in the editing and publishing process with me, has counseled me to change the name.  So here it is: HOUSE OF HOPE, Love Without Borders. You'll understand the new title once you begin reading the book. 

     And...I have changed the Prologue. The original prologue has me sitting in a Mexican jail writing home to my parents: "Dear Mom and Dad, I'm in jail.." The new prologue has me breaking the law to rescue a young girl.  As soon as I hear back from the San Francisco attorney, who I have consulted with (to make sure I won't be arrested for admitting to my crime in a memoir), I'll share that with you...

     Trust me that the name change is a good one. It changes the focus from "me" to the girls in Costa Rica who found safety and love at the House of Hope. And, although the book does start out with me and my life choices, it really does end up being about them.

     I know what you're thinking..."WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO GET THIS THING PUBLISHED?"  According to my new "Editing Coach," I could go ahead and self-publish now and be fine. But...with a little bit of rework, tightening some of the scenes, the manuscript will be more readily accepted by an agent for traditional publishing...or, if I chose self-publishing at the end, YOU will enjoy reading it even more so, with these few final changes.

     So...bear with me. Writing is a process. I just finished reading, "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand -- an excellent, excellent book.  I highly recommend it. It took her seven years to write that masterpiece! Wow.  Mine has only taken two years so far.  And...no...I won't take seven years to complete this.  I PROMISE!
    

     What's your experience with writing? How long did it take you from conception to completion?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Suggested Book Titles -- What's YOUR favorite?


Thank you for your book title suggestions. I'm going to list them here. Tell me which one(s) you like the best:

1) The Crux in the Road
2) Crossroads
3) God Wanted Me in the Red Light Zone
4) Forever Changed
5) Journey
6) Linda -- Lived and written by Linda Bello-Ruiz
7) My Life's Journey to Jesus
8) Hard Knocks to Harmony
9) Rebellis to Caritis
10) Journey from the Redwoods
11) Finding My Way Home
12) Faith Brought Me Back
13) Am I Leaving My Mark on the World?
14) Up from the Street
15) Different: My Journey of Choices, Consequences and Change
16) Against the Wind
17) Now and Forever
18) Dear Mom and Dad
19) Misplaced Love
20) A Spiritual Journey Down The Path of Life Choices
21) A Spiritual Journey Through Life Choices
22) Journey Through Life Choices
23) A Touch of Kindness in the Underworld
24) A small seed moves mountains
24) Light in a dark place
25) Seed planted in drought time
26) Love Beyond Boundaries
27) Love Without Bounderies

28) Many of you suggested I keep "Dear Mom and Dad, Please Send Money

If YOUR suggested title is not listed, please resubmit via a comment here, a post on my Facebook page or via email at: lmbelloruiz@yahoo.com

Thank you everybody!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

NAME THE BOOK CONTEST

Synopsis
DEAR MOM AND DAD, PLEASE SEND MONEY
by
Linda Bello-Ruiz

I grew up among vineyards and green rolling hills in Northern California. On high school graduation night, June 1969, I moved to San Francisco to work for the summer. There, I met Raymond. My life changed forever. Misplaced love and lust turned into drugs and degradation. In June, 1971, I was again in San Francisco. This time I was hiding from Raymond, deeply depressed, fearing for my life and contemplating suicide.
Chance, or divine intervention, brought me together with a group of young Christians. I didn’t like Jesus people, so I resisted their message of hope and redemption. However, five hours later I became a new person with a new name and a new family -- the revolutionary Children of God. Some called us radical and evil. Parents stormed our communes to kidnap their children. Blind obedience to my leaders propelled me to Mexico and then Central America. There, I awoke from a spiritual sleep and began to question the dictates of our leader, Moses David Berg. I planned my escape and, with help from my parents, returned home to California.
            God had different plans for me. Months later I was back in Costa Rica, and had joined forces with a Catholic Priest and an American Missionary. Together, we established Costa Rica’s first Christian halfway house for street girls and under-aged prostitutes.  At the age of twenty-three I found myself playing mother, teacher and counselor to rebellious teenage girls just a few years younger than I was.  Our hearts became entwined. All of my bad life choices became meaningful. I understood these girls. God's Spirit was at work. Their lives and mine were forever changed.  

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Next Step -- Publication

Linda Caridad, Ana Cecilia and Marielos
The House of Hope, 1975

                                     Publishing
I am so blessed to have gotten this far in my writing journey. The manuscript is now ready for publication. There are many avenues to publication but I will explain the three that I think I understand.

1) Vanity Press - Vanity Press of self-publishing means I send my manuscript to a printing company and pay them to print copies of my book. There is no oversight, no reading of the manuscript. It is fast and affordable.

2) Printing on Demand (POD) - This is where I contact publishers who print on demand and see if they want to publish my book.  Some read the manuscript and some do not.  I would only go with those who take the time to read the manuscript.  I then work with them to create the book cover, choose font and type size, etc.  I pay for their setup services. They publish the number of books I request and sell them back to me at a discount price. I market the book and sell it to you, your friends and the rest of the world.

3) Traditional Publishing - This type of publishing is what most people think of when they see a published book. They assume every book was published by a big name publisher (i.e. Bantam Press, Harper Collins, Thomas Publishing.)
Wrong. A very select few authors get published this way.  And, it's usually well-known names: presidents, Hollywood stars, famous authors, new authors who have become a household name because of their story (i.e. Elizabeth Smart, Jaycee Duggard.)
The process to get published via traditional publishing starts with finding a publisher who represents your genre.  My "genre"  is Memoirs, Christian Memoirs, Women Authors.  Some accept manuscripts from unknown, new authors, but most don't.  Some require the author to go through an agent who will represent the author (in this case "Me".) The agent accepts certain manuscripts within their particular genre and will use their expertise to find a publisher.  The author may or may not be paid an advance based on expected sales and then royalties.

I am starting with the traditional publishing avenue and am right now looking for an agent to represent Dear Mom and Dad, Please Send Money.  I have an agent in mind and have prepared a query - which is like a cover letter.  The job of the query is to convince her to read my manuscript.

What is YOUR experience with publishing?

Monday, March 12, 2012

I'm getting closer!

Well, I'm almost there. I've spent the last two months living here in paradise (Barra de Navidad, Mexico), enjoying the sunshine, blue skies and awesome nightly sunsets over the palm trees. I have edited the 441 page manuscript (it keeps growing!) for the upteenth time and submitted it to my "Book Doctor," Sue Clark.  She is now reading it in its entirety, at one sitting, checking for flow and any unforeseen errors. She'll return the manuscript to me once I'm back in California next week. Together she and I will review her suggestions for any further edits which I will make.  THEN it goes to an agent or publisher. My goal for publishing Dear Mom and Dad, Please Send Money, continues to be June, 2012. That is two years start to finish of my writing journey.
     I learned something about printing pages of a manuscript (or any document) that I want to share with you. My writing buddy, Leo, up there in Lincoln sent me the Staples (business supply store) online copy and printing center link which I dutifully followed. There I found a very easy, convenient way to upload my manuscript (I first saved it as a PDF file).  I chose the paper quality and other options (black ink, one sided, no binding), hit enter and then paid with my credit card. Within a few hours Staples Online Print Service had printed my manuscript and mailed it to Sue's house. The charge was less than $50.00. Now THAT was easy. I'm sending the website in case YOU ever need printing services.
http://www.staplescopyandprint.ca/PrintOnline.aspx
  
    Have an awesome day, week, month. I'll keep you posted. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

2012 has arrived and I am pleased to have arrived with it -- alive and well. My wishes go out to each of you, that you will have an awesome 2012 and that your every goal will come to fruition.

My goal in 2012 is to see "Dear Mom and Dad, Please Send Money," published and in your hands. That's my goal and my prayer.

I have just finished a full editing of all 425 pages with Literary Agent, Sue Clark.  I will take those 425 pages with me to Mexico and fix every dot, comma, gerund (whatever that is) and adverb that she has marked.

When I return from Mexico in mid-March she will do another read-through start to finish -- this time looking for any needed content change.  I will make those changes I agree with and then the manuscript goes off to an agent or publisher.

I am both excited and nervous. Yes, nervous. What if the reader doesn't like my story? Then what? What if, after all this time and effort, the book flops?  That is a fear every writer has had at least once and maybe lots and lots of times.  More so for the "newbe" writer like me.

Well, that may happen. I can't control that --  beyond doing my very, very best in what I have written. I will leave the rest of it in God's hands (and yours).  My memoir is God's story as much as mine.

I am reading a very good book called, "Messy Spirituality -- God's Annoying Love for Imperfect People," by Michael Yaconelli.  His book describes my journey with Jesus -- Messy. Imperfect. Always Struggling. Wanting to do right, and not always succeeding. He, through his words, has reminded me that it's okay to not be perfect.  We can't be perfect. My Memoir has lots of my imperfections in it.  Jesus loves me anyway...will you?

Question: Do you struggle, thinking you have to be perfect or more perfect, or always get it right?