THE LETTER DIARIES
Based on 30 Years of Real-Life Letters from All Over the Place, Here, There and Everywhere as Daughter, Mother and Grandmother Travel Together in a Series of Mishaps as Told Through Written Correspondence
Book Overview with Chapter Summaries
A Mental Makeover
Are you struggling to move past a romantic disappointment, a family falling apart, the betrayal of a friend or a job loss?
The BREAK-UP Biz™: A Mental Makeover (wt) covers today's world of more breakups than makeups in LOVE, LIFE and WORK, and is for those who want to master the business of 'Breaking UP to Better.' Simply because, breakups are as painful as they come.
This teaching memoir, written in epistolary style, debuts as a ‘self-help rehab for those stuck in breakup misery.’ A 3-STEP process, supported by a HELP SQUAD, aims to repair a world of broken hearts, or, at least, uncover enough remedies to reduce breakup residue.
The author, a self-proclaimed ‘breakup expert,’ delivers a resume of colossal breakup proportion, and uses her own mental makeover, as told through a series of real-life letters, to boast expert credentials toward helping others find an upswing to 'Breaking UP' to Better.'
If you liked Renee Zellweger’s journaling in A Bridget Jones Diary, Jennifer Aniston’s late bloom in Friends with Money and Gwyneth Paltrow’s cultural debacle in Sliding Doors, then you will enjoy our story about a self-proclaimed ‘breakup expert’ on which The BREAK-UP Biz™: A Mental Makeover is based.
Our story centers on more DOWNs than UPs of a serial singleton stuck in chronic breakup misery ... until she finds resolve in a box of letters she herself penned to her grandmother overseas. Not that she had intended her letters to be returned, but here they now were at her doorstep, a documentation of life, ready to relive with new perspective. Perhaps her former self would reveal patterns of discourse, and her own musings could help make sense of why things she had set up to go so right had gone so horribly wrong, not just once but many times over.
But if, life had not gone so perfectly wrong, our serial singleton would never have known an American life.
As the glue that gets her through, her letters engulf her in a mental makeover that takes readers on an emotional journey through quaint English villages and big cities of London, New York and Los Angeles where letters were mailed and received. All the while, Daniella juggles romantic relationships and family debacles that parallel her professional breakdowns.
Naturally, she falls into the same industry as her father, who earned early fame as a British actor on the BBC, but Daniella was not bitten by any acting bug. Instead, she lands a role of a lifetime as a national television publicist working alongside some of America’s most highly recognized news and entertainment personalities. In that role, she breaks national news stories, manages controversial media firestorms, and in friendly TV battle, goes up against media giant HOWARD STERN and the iconic BARBARA WALTERS.
Each chapter captures the essence of a profession known for high turnover and fast-paced deadlines within an industry of cutthroat competition, all of which are real-life stories featured in The BREAK-UP Biz™: A Mental Makeover.
Meet the Expert:
Cracked at the Core
"A blend of Helen Fielding meets Candace Bushnell in an Elizabeth Gilbert teaching moment,” says longtime OPRAH producer Shantel Klinger, a colleague of first-time author Daniella Cracknell who, with a last name like Cracknell, is convinced she is 'cracked at the core.'
Her father, too, had affectionately been nicknamed “Crackers.” For him, the name eventually rang true. His mental illness had cracked his world apart. But, Daniella was sane, at least in all senses of the word. She possessed ultimate good girl qualities and had done all things right. She had followed societal rules, made good grades, and carried a polite, courteous demeanor.
Yet, like her father, a series of unfortunate events derailed her in LOVE, LIFE and WORK. Could such misfortune be a family curse, she wondered? Perhaps, her father dying on a Friday, the 13th, was a sign. Or, were these mishaps rooted in her Grandma being born the same 13th day the Titanic went DOWN? Adding to the theory, her half-brother had lost his big front tooth in a bicycle accident on a Friday, the 13th, too.
Rationale -- she could not find -- which gave her convincing evidence she, too, was ‘cracked at the core.’ To break this family curse, she would need to crack a code.
Weathering unfortunate events would, however, require insight, and Daniella was not equipped. She needed hope and inspiration, necessary ingredients to fuel bounce back power, and the only resource that would not bankrupt Daniella further was in reading self-help books. Most of what she read claimed recovery would take courage and a positive attitude, and the only person who could unconditionally help anyone to ‘Break UP to Better’ was their own self. No one else had an invested interest. Therefore, overcoming emotional poverty was going to be a solo journey. At least, she had a box of letters to keep her company, enough to fill a book.
Daniella now turns UP the volume on life experience to repair a world of broken hearts, including yours as well as her own, and uses her own mental makeover as a conversation starter. She puts into practice a self-prescribed 3-STEP process, knowing now what she didn't know then, that not one person has the solution, nor the power. Nor, can one 'break UP to better' without a support system. Therefore, Daniella formulates a HELP SQUAD to cover today's world of more breakups than makeups in LOVE, LIFE and WORK.
Get to Know First-Time Author Daniella Cracknell HERE!
Interviewed on UNBREAK MY HEART with Podcast Host Cheri Anderson
"Cracknell brings sunshine to an area where healing is not the easiest, and helps readers see a brighter tomorrow.”
— Dr. Michael Mollura, Beverly Hills Psychotherapist, Music Composer and Contributor to NETFLIX's HEAL with Deepak Chopra
A Mental Makeover starts with a "Near Death' experience in a prologue of what's to come. Follow along as this story unfolds in chapter summaries shared below 'Until Death,' the last chapter where Daniella goes postmortem and 'Into the Light" with Pamper, Escape, Sanity, Warmth and Heart. But, check into Breakup Rehab first ...
Prologue Chapter Summary
Prior to Grandma’s burial, we gathered at the village pub, typical of any British family in mourning. As I walked in, the first familial words I heard over the bar crowd, “You and your letters!” where from my cousin Anna, the eldest of Grandma’s ten granddaughters. As a large family reunited, we were now giving our beloved granny the funeral of her dreams, a re-creation of all that Grandma had told us she had seen in her near-death experience thirteen years prior.
Grandma was alive when my father died. During a visit back to the UK years after my father’s death, I had told Grandma how heartwarming it was that my father had saved my letters, and that I looked forward to revisiting my life and, perhaps, learn a few lessons from past life. She then told me she too had saved my letters, that they were in a box in the attic. When she died, she’d make sure they, too, were returned to me.
But first, I would need to make something of myself back in the real world of real life. Yet, like my father, a series of unfortunate events derailed me in LOVE, LIFE and WORK. As the glue that gets me through, my letters engulf me in a mental makeover that takes me on an emotional journey back in time through the quaint English villages and big cities of London, New York and Los Angeles where my letters were mailed and received.
As I embarked on the re-setting of my life from showbiz to breakup ‘biz,’ my aspirations were now to master this so-called business of breaking UP. So, I would not habitually be stuck in breakup misery. But, would the rejection kill me first? Experts claimed rejection activates the same areas off the brain as physical pain, likened to spilling a hot cup of coffee. But with, an overwhelm that necessitates a different kind of treatment. Looking back, all was 'derailed' at the get go.
Break UP to Better LOVE, LIFE and WORK Experiences. 3 STEPS to get YOU started:
STEP 1 REJECTION
A Mental Makeover starts in London where Daniella fails to launch her intended career. As solace, backpacks around Europe, eventually making a move to New York City where she lands her ideal job, only to see her demise featured in the NEW YORK TIMES. The high of working for a leading Manhattan agency didn’t last long. Eleven months into big city living, Daniella finds herself, wrongfully, unemployed beyond repair.
A dream job now lost, Daniella looks into making an income as a human lab rat while engaging in a series of letters with her father who, with regularity, checks in and out of psychiatric hospitals. The investment banker boyfriend, perfect on paper, checks out but then, another prince charming invites her to move into his penthouse apartment. By mishap, she affords a visit back to the UK.
After Grandma’s near-death, I too had new perspective. London was a test run, and I was now ready to return to life more familiar in America. Like before, I would keep Grandma up to date the old-fashioned way, with a letter in the mail. Nothing beats the enjoyment of a letter pulled fresh out of a mailbox, nor the fulfillment of putting one in the mail.
With regularity, Grandma could count on a letter from me at least once a year on or around her birthday, always the 13th of April. And, with regularity, I could count on Grandma returning letters I had written with my misspellings and grammar issues circled in red. Grandma was fearful that without a proper English education, I might become educationally challenged.
Then, the unthinkable happened. News came, Georgie, the cousin whom Grandma thought I was most alike, had taken her own life. The fact Georgie had no other recourse but to commit suicide left me forever wondering how that could ever be. The topic precipitated a death pact between Grandma and me, that if either one of us headed down ‘the tunnel,’ we would let the other know we had arrived safely on the other side, just as we had in real life when we traveled from one place to the other. I solidified the death pact in a forthcoming letter.
As prolific as I was in writing letters to family, I was equally fast in jotting down my own private thoughts, quirky and silly ones you wouldn’t dare, out of embarrassment, share with anyone but yourself, privately, in a diary. When pieced together with letters though, I could now see what I hadn’t seen then. A ripple effect of the complexities of a myriad of misfortune had stunted my emotional growth and given me the inability to escape a tumultuous ‘on and off again’ relationship. My Grandma, painstakingly, would bear witness of my euphoria with IGNACIO, written about beyond expiration of any break UP.
Rewire your MIND with HOPE and INSPIRATION!
“Cracknell emerges as a resilient, sprightly and engaging character ... a dream read, loved it!”
— MARY, Test Reader, English Professor, Avid Book Clubber, NY
STEP 2 REDIRECTION
Rejection is redirection. A Mental Makeover catches up with Daniella in STEP 2 on a plane from New York to Los Angeles where she thinks she has escaped the wreckage of what could go wrong, did go wrong. Hollywood, however, presents a new set of mishaps in an industry well-known for a lifestyle of serial disappointments in LOVE, LIFE and WORK.
While I had left IGNACIO in New York City without a forwarding address, my tumultuous ‘on and off’ again still found his way back into my life, only this time on the West Coast. I knew as soon as I picked him up from the airport IGNACIO’s visit was not going to end well, and it didn’t. Shortly thereafter, I found a channel of sanity in therapy groups as well as periodic security in seasonal employment as a Hollywood television publicist -- all the while chronicling my newfound career in letters back to my grandma.
Not long after my father’s death, inheritance came in the return of letters we shared, as if a memento in which I could now make sense of matters. He had saved each and every letter, adding to Grandma’s collection of letters my mother and I had also sent back to the UK of living this American life. I was now of two cultures, jumping in and out from one to the other, not fully invested in either. My first Hollywood TV family headed by America’s favorite TV dad, Alan Thicke, had now been torn apart. The game show from the creators of the international board game phenomenon PICTIONARY® had not lasted but one season. However, colleagues had moved over to PARAMOUNT where they brought me in to resuscitate publicity for HOWIE’s daytime talk show.
Despite the publicity stunts we pulled that had HOWIE’s side kick almost arrested as the neighborhood flasher, PARAMOUNT canceled our show. I was then moved onto another TV production. But, as mishaps go, the year I join LEEZA was the year PARAMOUNT cancels that daytime talker too. On the upswing, LEEZA’s cancelation gave me the credentials to now interview as publicist for the reigning talk show queen, OPRAH but not enough to land me the job. Instead, PARAMOUNT reassigns me, yet again, onto another ill-fated daytime talker. This one, DR LAURA, was hosted by one of the most popular conservative talk show hosts in radio history. And, would go down as most controversial, landing me in the NY POST as ‘the long-suffering publicist' and blacklisted from PARAMOUNT.
Reinvigorate your BODY with INSIGHT and ACTION!
“People need what Cracknell is offering. I'm impressed with how she thought of everything. I really look forward to reading this book."
— Dr. Ebony Utley, Infidelity Expert and Author of He Cheated, She Cheated, We Cheated
STEP 3 RESILIENCY
Resiliency fuels bounce back power giving mental strength to weather unfortunate events. While the only person who can, unconditionally, help YOU ‘Break UP to Better’ is YOU, a support system aids in breakup recovery, which The BREAK-UP Biz™ aims to be. Without support, finding bounce back power presents a tougher path but not an impossible one.
According to an INC article, high achievers are born out of heartbreaking LOVE, LIFE and WORK scenarios. So, in the third step, the final phase of A Mental Makeover, Daniella delves into the multitude of complexities behind her resume of colossal breakup proportion, complexities that necessitate a break UP to better.
I often pondered how life might have been if mental illness had not broken DOWN my father. Perhaps then, we would have stayed together as a family. Mom and I would have never left London. Perhaps, we lived a life enjoying the celebrity of my father’s fame. It turns out my father, like me, kept a diary, which my stepmother gifted to me decades later. He wrote about his unraveling into mental illness and my mother's reaction to his emerging role as, certifiably, "Crackers." Before mental illness, my father had been a mainstay headline in the television section of THE LONDON SUNDAY TIMES. He had compiled his numerous reviews into photo albums that he would bring out as our father-daughter ritual on every visit. I wasn't linked to my father's fame until much later when a leading Hollywood film director introduced me as "the daughter of a famous British actor."
I was six when my second family packed up again for a move from London to the farm, and ten when we moved from the farm to America. As a ten-year-old, all I understood of the United States was Disneyland. It took a promise my stepfather made to take me there that convinced me America was going to be magical, a place where dreams were made.
My mom and my stepfather had thought farming would provide the ideal life of living off the land. For a while, we raised pigs and chickens, and plowed potatoes. My mother and I would follow behind my stepfather in a tractor as he plowed the field in front of us. We also raised a dozen lambs my half-brother and I fed with milk bottles like babies. Their wool made a most fashionable winter coat for my mother, and despite folklore of hauntings, our bed and breakfast saw a few visitors.
When farm life did not pan out, my stepfather revived his American dream. Despite his familiarity as a US citizen with claims of a CIA past, for all intents and purposes, we were moving to a foreign country. Seven years in, my stepfather takes off back to England for a woman who was not my mom, and leaves the remnants of his family lost in Virginia with nothing but broken promises and a letter on our pillow.
In all other industries, executives who ‘lean in’ and ‘step up’ during times of crisis are properly rewarded with pay increases and promotions. But not me. Despite words indicative of such, I ended up banned from ever again working for PARAMOUNT. At the time of the DR. LAURA controversy, no other Hollywood publicist dared take on the onslaught of journalists covering the show. Advertisers were pulling out and picketers were protesting nationwide in large crowds vying for cancelation of the show. It worked. DR. LAURA was canceled. High-powered network executives were then pushed out. Only one remained -- the executive whose words led me into banishment.
Despite the downturn, the upswing from the cancelation of DR. LAURA led me to a seasonal period of stability with NBC. During the controversy, I had built a rapport with a leading journalist.When that reporter took over as head of communications for the talk show division of NBC, I became his ‘go to’ publicist for all new talk shows. However, those shows, too, would be short lived, leading me full circle back to New York as if I had never left. This run of events made me wonder why I had ever allowed my mother and stepfather to convince me to abandon a most faithful farming companion, my black cat, in pursuit of this American dream. I had always believed black cats brought me good luck, but time now revealed, the path of a black cat was not one to cross.
Rebuild your SPIRIT with CONNECTION and SUPPORT!
The BREAK-UP Biz ™ is something needed. There is life after horrible jobs. Daniella handled the media crisis we faced with a high level of calm, grace and integrity. Most would have crumbled under the pressure," says Velma Cato, Executive Producer, DR. LAURA of conservative talk show fame and 'do the right thing' advice books.
Postmortem Chapter Summary
After every breakup, I experienced rapid weight loss of 10 pounds with such regularity I started to see weight loss as another upswing to breaking UP. Not that I wanted to experience more loss, I’d had my fair share. But, if I had to go through a breakup again, I was familiar with the process.The outcome, I found, had upswings. For one, not many diets can deliver this rate of return.
Makes you wonder, is Mr. WRONG doing me RIGHT? What doesn’t a girl like more than feeling an inch less of herself? Or, were his words doing that to me already?
He kept telling me he was “used to hanging out with those who read THE NEW YORK TIMES” as if I was not the publicist, a creator and a consumer of news who religiously reads all and every media outlet by nature of my profession. I couldn’t understand what he was trying to convey. Perhaps I was not high bred enough or that my worries were beneath him because he came from wealth.
Perhaps though, he was not “used to” hanging out with those who were quoted in THE NEW YORK TIMES or placed clients in such leading publications, or even those who were a story in THE NEW YORK TIMES. It was THE NEW YORK TIMES that reported me as "garbage" a decade prior. Was he confirming those reports?
When ANDY and I first met, I was spearheading the publicity launch of NBC’s JANE, the first talk show to showcase a host with a celebrity rating high enough to compete against OPRAH. However, the decision to leave LA in a return to NY to represent JANE was ‘poorly chosen.’ With rejection came redirection to handle the press launch for the return of the pioneering newsmagazine A CURRENT AFFAIR, only to meet cancelation six months later but not before humiliated on the air by HOWARD STERN, the nation’s most listened to radio host. “Piggy publicist” HOWARD called me.
I then went on to experience the inner workings of Fox News Channel as publicist to the legendary TV journalist GERALDO. Within my short time working at the conservative cable news network, I experienced enough toxicity to know scandal was brewing. Grandma, though, had now delivered on our death pact. A year after her death, a box of letters arrived, returned as Grandma said they would. I then started the process of putting together the pieces of our pact, to deliver on my end. Her visit from the after-life had stirred up a spiritual awakening. Spirits of all kinds were, literally, now coming out of the wood work.
As I slept, bed bugs bit me from hands to toes, and, each time it rained, water broke through my bedroom ceiling, missing my bed by a foot. My home, the only sanctuary I had left, was now also turning into a nightmare. Not only was I questioning, am I on the right path, am I in the right city, am I sabotaging my life, I now questioned, am I sane? Was all this real, could I possibly wake up to a different reality where LOVE, LIFE and WORK were not all this disappointing?
'Into the Light'
My story now told and letters now read with enough remedies discovered on how to weather through the tough parts in LOVE, LIFE and WORK ... what I know now as better, I didn’t know then as any better, nor did I trust gut instincts as internal self-care you never ignore. The 3-STEPS fueled my bounce back power, and rejection became redirection to better LOVE, LIFE and WORK experiences. Had I broken UP to better? Read A Mental Makeover and you'll see.
In the end, A Mental Makeover enables audiences to find hope in troubled times, inspiration amidst chaos, as well as insight and feel-good energy so the next chapter can be of lessons learned. And, perhaps, a realization of a better and, possibly, an easier way of doing things in LOVE, LIFE and WORK -- as if, a resume of colossal breakup proportion ends here …
Picking up where A Mental Makeover ends, The BREAK-UP Biz™: A Breakdown (wt) moves the past into present day where our serial singleton is now at a breakdown. She has had her fair share of mishaps but more keep coming. She has now worked a decade in the media business, an industry well positioned for a career of serial disappointments in LOVE, LIFE and WORK.
If she knew then what she knows now, perhaps a media career would not have been her chosen career path. She had interviewed with OPRAH’s team numerous times, even served OPRAH coffee while working room service in college. A humanitarian trip to South Africa still didn't earn her a job with daytime’s best. In the past she’d taken on one of the most controversial talk shows in daytime TV history only to be told she could never be hired by PARAMOUNT again.
Daniella had not set out to be build a resume of setbacks and start-overs. Delving back into her letters for answers on why life had gone so wrong, she reflected back and pondered on how life might have gone if she had remained a British girl, never had lived this American life, and her father had remained sane, taking a Sliding Doors perspective from a British-American romantic comedy made popular by Gwyneth Paltrow.
The Sliding Doors film alternates between two parallel universes, based on two paths of the central character. But in our character’s life, her track record of representing one canceled talk show after the other soon leads the nation’s top TV columnist Michael Starr of THE NEW YORK POST to incriminate Daniella as “The Black Widow of TV.”
This time, cancelation news wasn’t focused on one single show but that of an entire network. After burnout in the talk show side of the industry, Daniella had moved into the cable side of television working for the leaders in lifestyle TV brands, believing at the time, cable offered stability in employment -- as others in the business had experienced longevity there.
But, a recession would change that. The network closed its doors, and Daniella is now part of a corporate layoff. Her career of misfortune is no longer about one show going down but now an entire network. She also finds herself engaged in romance with an aspiring politician. In the end, A Breakdown is a career gal’s inner adventure of self-discovery and a comical romantic journey to find, not only a stable and secure existence within an unstable profession, but also to find stability in romance and family life.
A Breakdown is second in a franchise dedicated to showcasing ‘bounce back power’ with lessons learned enveloped into a 3-STEP self-help rehabilitative process. Daniella's theory, breakups are as painful as they come but rejection is redirection to better, and resiliency is 'the bounce back power’ that fuels us through the tough parts. Hence, 3-STEPS to 'Breaking UP to Better.' Here's how:
Step 1: REJECTION - Rewire your mind with hope and inspiration
Step 2: REDIRECTION - Reinvigorate your body with insight and action
Step 3: RESILIENCY - Rebuild your spirit with connection and support!
Chapters take readers on an Eat, Pray Love adventure, not India where in the book-to-film Julia Roberts finds herself, but to South Africa where our character helps impoverished children and in doing so, finds a long lost relative, the son of her late cousin Georgie. But there too, she is disappointed by a love interest, and then realizes the only way to start over is to go home. She thought perhaps if she goes back to Virginia, the starting point, then perhaps life can start all over again, with better results. But perhaps home is England, and Virginia was never meant to be home in the first place.
Dedicated to Grandma, historically a source of wisdom
who, in A Mental Makeover, teaches the author how to clean between her toes. Hence, Grandma-Rated!
Created by Daniella Cracknell, a nationally-known television publicist who produces and promotes lifestyle brands. Managed by LEONARD GEORGE, A Reputation Development Company for Entrepreneurs, Philanthropists and Creatives