The above picture is my drawing of Clarissa Harlowe, drawn about 20 years ago.  I don’t want to post my real picture, so I use this instead.  The whole anonymous thing.  🙂

My husband is, on this website, alternately called “Cugan” and “Jeff.”  That’s because this website has been around since about 2004/2005, and the early pages called him “Cugan.”  I have thought about fixing it, except it would cause problems with the College Memoirs, which depend on calling him Cugan.

My son is sometimes called “Daniel.”

On this website, I have, in both static pages and blog form: College memoirs of how I’ve handled abuse/bullying in the past and risen above it.

The process of my journey from a recent, traumatic bullying experience, through the anger and pain, hopefully to rise above it through writing therapy.

Also travelogues and book reviews, including the Left Behind series.  Excerpts from my fiction (my pen name is Nerissa McCanmore).

I’m a Christian.

I feel I’m spiritually banging on the door to be let in to the Orthodox Church, which is full of rich traditions in its liturgy, doctrine and practices.  It is the continuation of the Early Church, with its saints and martyrs.

So I am now a member of the Orthodox Church.  By the way, that means I have to take repentance seriously.  So if I have wronged anybody reading this profile, please forgive me.

I am an ISFJ on the Keirsey Personality Test.  That means Introverted (100%) Sensing (50%) Feeling (62%) Judging (67%).  That means I am a Protector Guardian, a behind-the-scenes worker who wants to see my loved ones safe and secure.

I am very concerned with being kind; as an introvert, however, I am also often misunderstood as stand-offish.  In reality, however, my shyness vanishes if I judge you to be trustworthy and “safe.”

With most people, it’s hard to get beyond “hello” and the occasional smile; I will return a hug, but with discomfort, and will never give one.

But if you enter my circle of close friends and family, I will become talkative and warm, especially one-on-one.   (I’m still usually quiet in a group of two or more friends.)  If I adopt you into my family circle, the hugs and other expressions of affection become easy.

ISFJs are extremely warm and demonstrative within the family circle. –Marina Margaret Heiss, ISFJ


They are not as outgoing and talkative as the Providers, except with close friends and relatives. With these they can chat tirelessly about the ups and downs in their lives, moving (like all the Guardians) from topic to topic as they talk over their everyday concerns.

However, their shyness with strangers is often misjudged as stiffness, even coldness, when in truth these Protectors are warm-hearted and sympathetic, giving happily of themselves to those in need. —, Portrait of the Protector

I believe I have nonverbal learning disorder (NVLD), which I describe here with lots of linkies.  It has been a struggle all my life, socially, academically and in dealing with everyday tasks.  I am often misunderstood, sometimes severely so.

But I graduated college with honors, made friends, got married, started a family, held down jobs, even wrote books.  It has taken me longer to learn many things–writing, math, social graces, body language–but I usually learn eventually.

My handwriting was chicken scratches up through eighth grade, but in high school it finally became legible and pretty.

Fractions, long division, interest rates, and other forms of higher math caused me trouble in school, though I did well in algebra and algebra-trigonometry.

But I excel at picking up codes, computer work, spelling, punctuation, typing, and other things to do with words.  I am very detail-oriented.

I have published a fantasy novel and a Gothic story collection; more info below.

I have always been different.  I never knew why.  I didn’t much care for most fashions or how things are supposed to be done.  I’ve often been clueless about fashion rules.  I’ve had trouble understanding people and why they react the way they do.

As a child I spent more time alone, building fantastic worlds and alien languages, than I did with people.  I seem to be drawn to the oddballs, outcasts even.

While other women in church want to listen to Steve Green, cook, watch movies that make you cry, and do crafts, I want to blast Type O Negative, write or read Gothics, and watch “Lord of the Rings.”

Following the latest Christian trends makes me want to gag.  (Purpose-Driven Life or Prayer of Jabez?  No, just give me a good translation of the Bible and some study helps!)  I tried reading the Message Bible.  Everyone talks about it like it’s the best version ever, but I found it to be a flawed interpretation that cannot be used as a guide.

I don’t use Christianese.

As far as culture, I do not want to be a soccer mom or do “playdates.”  I do not believe in Baby Einstein or cutting all TV and sugar out of a child’s life.

I want to wear socks with cropped pants, not go around in bare legs or nylons.  I do not want to wear flowered prints or bellbottoms or high heels or tight, pointy shoes.  I do not want to bare my feet in sandals.  I think blue goes with green and red with purple.  I think “What Not To Wear” is a stupid show and I hate makeover shows.  (Ever notice how makeovers always include business suits and chopped-off hair?)

I also think that Splenda tastes like crap and has a nasty aftertaste (just like diet pop), even though everybody talks like it’s the most wonderful thing in the world.  This is the first time in my entire life that I’ve had to use sugar on my Cocoa Puffs.

I am drawn to the dark in many ways: velvet and lace, vampires, Goth music.  But I don’t want to spike/dye my hair or wear leather/PVC.  I don’t want to make up my face to look dead or like a vampire.  I prefer soft, flowing clothes, long, pretty hairstyles, and light, natural-looking makeup (with the occasional black eyeliner).

Here are links that might explain some parts of my personality:

Nonverbal Learning Disorders: What to Look For (Pamela Tanguay)
Nonverbal Learning Disorder (Sue Thompson)
Tera’s NLD Jumpstation

(Keep in mind that Thompson’s article is from 1995.  Later research showed that NVLD does not have to be as severe or grim as pictured here.  Also, while some with NVLD show brain differences, most do not.)

It’s undiagnosed, but I share many traits with nonverbal learning disability.  If I do have it, it’s probably mild.  But many areas of my life are difficult to the point of frustration, which this could explain.

Of course, the frustration is because we live in a visually-oriented society.  If society were more accommodating to other styles of learning and doing, NVLD wouldn’t even be called a disability.

Here’s a refreshing take on self-esteem.  For example:

High self-esteem seems most dangerous when it colors racial and ethnic tolerance.  ‘People with incredibly positive views of themselves feel anybody who differs from them is an insult,’ explains Emler.  ‘They just don’t like people who are different.’ –David Dent, “Bursting the Self-Esteem Bubble”

I post my abuse experiences to help others recognize how abusers operate–and get out of that relationship.  I also post to validate and comfort other abuse victims, show them they are not crazy, that this happens to others.

I also post because two of my abusers have been keeping close watch on this blog since May 2012, and I want to prove to them (and myself) that they cannot intimidate and threaten me into silence–as I hope that maybe something I write will finally get through to them.  This is a safe way for me to confront them with what they have done, so that I can one day forgive them.

I also post because I’ve been through some wacky and unbelievable stuff in my life, but it’s all true, it all really happened to me.  So I post it because I’m a born writer who just HAS to tell a good, wacky or tragic story when I have one.  Otherwise my writing would all be just boring, meaningless drivel.

I also post to raise awareness and understanding of abuse and how it affects people with social learning disorders (Asperger’s, NVLD).  (Also see here for a full explanation of why I blog about my abuse experiences.)

This is NOT a professional or expert website, or anything like that.  It is a personal website and blog, in which I document both good and bad things about my life and try to figure things out.  And post other stuff that interests me.


Life at Roanoke: My college memoirs (incl. stories of Peter, Shawn and Phil) are here.  A mix of good times, along with stories of verbally/emotionally/sexually abusive boyfriends–and probably some undiagnosed form of NVLD/Asperger’s.  How dark times finally gave way to coming out into the light.

They reflect 4 years of apparently dealing with a little-known learning disorder, without the benefit of knowing I had it.  It has caused difficulties.  But it also gave me certain abilities which helped with my writing and later jobs.

These memoirs are meant to entertain, to help young women avoid my relationship mistakes, and to show how I finally came through my relationship struggles triumphant.

Also note that while I still struggle with many things because of NVLD, I graduated college and have made a decent life for myself–the roots of which are in my college story.


Fighting the Darkness: My story of narcissistic abuse is here.  It’s book-length, with all the details and an index, or you can simply read the summary on the first page.

I thought I had found a religious and spiritual mentor in my search for the True Church, and a best friend here in my own town instead of far away, one who would always be there for me throughout life.  But I believe this is what really happened:

I fell prey to a con man who eventually decided my husband and I were of no further use to him and his wife.  He used to be a Mafia thug, and was easily provoked to violence.  He hypnotized me without my knowledge.

They wanted to get political connections, but we were too “liberal” and not politically driven; he kept getting money and stuff from us, but the economy tanked and we had money trouble; I was his confidante of his wife’s abuses of him and the children, so she, who has a family history of personality disorders, smeared me to him to drive a wedge between us; and I spoke up against the way they both had been treating their kids.

So instead of addressing the real issues, they made me a scapegoat, made up offenses and kept me always jumping over hoops.  Then because we no longer had much money to give them, I started doubting Richard’s wild stories, and I had let them know they abused their kids, they started treating my husband and I both very badly.

They found an imaginary complaint to skewer me over, so we would break off the friendship in disgust, but they would still be able to claim that it was my fault and not theirs.

Richard threatened my husband with physical violence and intimidated him.  Then in 2010, I was proven correct about the abuse, when Richard choked his oldest daughter until she passed out.  He plea bargained and served a year of probation.

This is my story of what happened.


My other writings are here.


My books:

Tojet, novel available as e-book here and here.

Tojet is a fairy tale for adults.  A mysterious girl named Tojet appears in a convent-run school one day.  Two teachers, Sister Elizabeth and oddly-named Merkit Terjit, take her under their care.

But is she a lost, imaginative orphan or a time traveler with fairy powers?  How does she know who Merkit is and how he was named?

Tragedy drives her away, but she returns as a young, beautiful woman, far more mature than she should be.  She shows Merkit a world of obsession and dark fairies.

He can’t help falling in love with her, but what about the monastic vows he’s about to take?  Can he fight the temptations that surround him?

[Longer, alternate summary, from old website:]

Written by Nyssa (penname Nerissa McCanmore), this novel is a combination of the fantasy, time travel, and Celtic genres.  It combines the author’s imagination and European fairy lore to create the world of fairies in the novel.  This is not a child’s fairy tale.

A nine-year-old girl appears at a convent-run school in the 1990s, saying her name is Tojet and she, a Celt, was born on a fairy mound in England in 566.

Merkit, a lay teacher, takes her into his home when asked to do so by Sister Elizabeth, a good friend of his.

Tojet says that the fairies of the mound have always favored her.  They gave her the ability to transcend time, chose Merkit as her husband (knowing, unbeknownst to Tojet, that his wife would soon die), and named him so Tojet would recognize him.

Tojet now gives Merkit what she calls dream visions: interactive and sometimes dangerous dreams of her world of good and evil fairies, mixed with sixth-century Anglo-Saxon life.  The longest dream vision takes him underneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, where he encounters mermaids, mermen, and undines.

When Merkit’s wife dies in a car accident, Tojet feels guilty because, for a moment, she wished his wife would leave.  She disappears, taking all her belongings with her.

After two and a half years, Tojet returns­–aged by nine years, mostly spent in other centuries.  Now beautiful, brilliant, and well-educated, she wants to claim Merkit as her husband.

However, he has entered a monastery, and does not wish to leave it.  Tojet does not give up on Merkit, and resumes showing him dream visions.

Without meaning to, she also leads him into dangerous experiences with fairies­–and into temptation.  Two prominent figures in the dream visions and real life are the fairy queen and the goblin king, who are their ambivalent allies.

—Preview available here.  So far, this book has been given the highest rating by four readers.  Also see professional reviews here and here. [Update: Last link was to Wayback Machine, but doesn’t work anymore for some reason.]

The Lighthouse, story collection available as e-book, information here.

Enter the world of the Lighthouse, a club for supernatural beings and social misfits.  In this Gothic story collection you will find castles, ghosts, vampires, romance and terror:

Bedlam Castle–An American college girl loses herself in the hallways of a 900-year-old castle.  Eccentric characters invite her to dinner.  One is a genie, one is an undine, and most of the others are ghosts.  One man intrigues her the most–but is he a mortal man or a supernatural creature like the rest?

Jarkin–Becky Stevens falls in love against her will with Archibald Jarkin, an eccentric, austere and charismatic preacher.  Their passionate marriage is tested when Jarkin’s TV ministry turns into a witch hunt.  When Becky discovers the Lighthouse, their life together takes a startling new path.

Alexander Boa: Or, I was a co-ed vampire slave–When a young woman’s college is taken over by a vampire, she becomes his secret mistress.  Will she be torn apart when her friends decide to kill him?

Candida–A young man is stricken with a girl who falls under a vampire’s spell.  Soon married and pregnant with the vampire’s baby, she has no idea what danger she’ll be in if the baby is a boy.

The frame story–Jenny, a social misfit, is introduced to the Lighthouse, supernatural creatures, and a deceptive man.  When he leaves her and then accuses her of stalking him, she can only vindicate herself by facing the horrors of a haunted cave.  Will she survive?  Will she fall in love again?