Lost Sister

Lost Sister


THE AUTHOR:  Jean Ryan.

THE EDITOR: Self-edited.


SUMMARY: A saute cook at a Berkeley restaurant, Lorrie Rivers is weary of her job and tired of the dating circuit; she needs to make some changes in her life. More than anything, she wants to visit her estranged sister Bett, for whom she feels tremendous love—and guilt. When Ginger, Bett’s look-alike, appears, Lorrie instantly bonds with the girl and enjoys a second chance at being the older sister. But joy turns to fear as Lorrie begins to understand not only what happened in her own family, but the peril surrounding the young girl.

THE BACK STORY: The story was always inside me, and eventually it surfaced. The actual writing, which took place over about two years, felt like an imperative, requiring more soul-searching than research.

WHY THIS TITLE? The narrator’s sister lives a transient life, moving from one town to the next, never feeling at home anywhere. Lorrie believes that Bett’s inability to find peace, to form true connections, is a result of the harm she suffered as a child. Essentially she feels that Bett is lost.

Jean RyanWHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: This story concerns child sexual abuse, a crime that is largely unpunished and one that leaves irreparable damage. There have been plenty of tell-all books regarding monstrous parenting, but few that take a tender and focused look at the harm itself and what it feels like to have one’s sense of freedom taken away at a young age.


“I have just finished living though Lorrie Rivers, the main character in Ms. Ryan’s first novel, Lost Sister. I could not put it down. I was captured by the honesty and tenderness with which she presents her characters’ lives. They are people in the throes of human frailty and circumstance going about their day. Having lived in Berkeley for a number of years myself, I was delighted to revisit it through her eyes. She has truly captured and presents us with the quirky; `uniquely Berkeley’, a city people joke about, and its inhabitants love like an old pair of Birkenstock’s.

I was touched by her careful illumination of the ghostly masks of child abuse. Lost Sister is both disconcerting and comforting. It touches a chord familiar to so many women. Ms Ryan’s steady, metered style of telling a story is infused with kindness, humor and hope. I was empowered by it and look forward to her next book with great anticipation.”

“Having enjoyed so many of her previously published poignant short stories, I looked forward with much anticipation to reading Jean Ryan’s first novel, LOST SISTER. And I was not disappointed – what a great read it was! Her acumen, wit and sensitive story-telling revealed a compelling emotional courage in confronting a journey many can relate to. LOST SISTER was a riveting and insightful novel, an excellent narrative tapestry which so wove me into its essence that I wished it could have continued on – sorry that I would be missing my new friend, Lorrie Rivers, and wishing I knew her more. I’m looking forward to future works from this talented author, Jean Ryan.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The story brought back happy memories of childhood’s favorite books and pastimes. And yet it was topical as well. The vividness of Ms. Ryan’s descriptions made me frequently return to a phrase just to read it again and savor her skilled use of language. I admire Ms. Ryan’s humor, knowledge and talent and hope this novel not only achieves the success it deserves but leads to more stories from this gifted author. This is one of the few books that really captivated me and made me want to read it again.”

AUTHOR PROFILE: Jean Ryan, a native Vermonter, lives in Napa, California. Her stories and essays have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies, and she has been nominated several times for a Pushcart Prize. Her debut collection of short stories, SURVIVAL SKILLS, was published in April 2013 by Ashland Creek Press and was short-listed for a Lambda Literary Award. Her story “Manatee Gardens” is included in the anthology OUTER VOICES/INNER LIVES; her story “Greyhound” appears in the anthology AMONG ANIMALS. Ryan is presently editing a second collection of short stories and a collection of nature essays, many of which originally appeared as blog posts on her website: http://jean-ryan.com/. There you can find her posts, as well as reviews of SURVIVAL SKILLS. The Story Links page contains links to stories available for reading online.

AUTHOR COMMENT: “I spend an extraordinary amount of time on my writing, believing there are no shortcuts. Writers must stay on course, figuring out what they want to convey, putting their idea into words, then finding the right words—precise and beautiful at once. Every so often the perfect word or phrase arrives unbidden, but writing in general is hard work. If it isn’t, it probably isn’t worth much.”

With LOST SISTER I hope to bring greater awareness to the problem of child abuse and to offer comfort for those who have been harmed.


At the age of two she was wearing glasses, light blue frames with butterflies on the corners. Behind the thick lenses her eyes were enormous, and when she peered up at people on the street, they stopped and beamed at her; they couldn’t help it. That wispy blonde hair. Those glasses.

So now she’s in Virginia. I look at the photo on the postcard: a curving road, a field of yellow flowers, slate blue mountains in the distance, then turn the card over and read her words again. “It’s hot here. The frogs are noisy at night. Lots of bugs too—I just counted 14 daddy longlegs on the ceiling. I have a job. Maybe just for the summer though. The kitchen is pink!”

This, as usual, is all the information she offers and I stand in the hallway trying to piece together her life. She forgot to include her address, though the postmark tells me that she’s living in or near a town called Burkes Pond. She must be renting a cabin, something cheap and poorly made, on the edge of a lake. Her job is seasonal, dependent on tourists or vacationers. Maybe she’s working at a roadside restaurant, one of those old snack bars strung with yellow light bulbs and mired in the sweet reek of fried food; families, barefoot and sunburned, swarm the place at dusk, jamming the battered picnic tables. Or maybe she’s got a job at the boat rental, filling up gas cans, handing out red and white flotation cushions.

I walk down the hall and into my bedroom, a small rectangle barely big enough for the furniture: a mahogany double bed and dresser my Aunt Rose left me, a bedside table and a stuffed blue chair, occupied as usual by Murphy, my 16-year-old yellow tomcat. I pet his broad head a couple times, which brings on his staticky purr, and then I walk over to the corkboard on the wall and tack this latest postcard, photo side down, next to the others she’s sent me. I collect these cards: I use them to track her, to fix her in time.

At the top of the corkboard are my two favorite pictures of Bett, the first taken just after she got her glasses. She is standing next to our green Plymouth station wagon and Barbara has a hand on either side of her head, keeping her face to the camera; I am there too, squinting, one foot hooked behind the other. She is still unsteady, and her legs, in red corduroy pants with snaps on the inseams, are braced apart, her arms lifted for extra balance. She is grinning, as she always was back then; her joy was instinctive, a natural, boundless response to being alive.

In the other photo she is wearing a two-piece, faded blue swimsuit and leaping ahead of a wave. She is four years old. Her golden hair is caught in the wind and she is shrieking with laughter. There she is, arms up, knee cocked, forever outrunning the Gulf of Mexico.

When Barbara saw the postcards she started to cry. “Why do you do that? Pin them up like that, with her pictures on top. It’s sad, Lorrie. It’s like a shrine. It’s like a missing person poster.”

Her words startled me, because I knew they were true. I’ve been pursuing my younger sister for most of my life, even before she left home. There will never be enough clues in these cards she sends. They tell me where she is, but who, at this point, can find her?

Behind me Murphy stretches and groans. His groans sound human. He doesn’t even meow like a cat. He opens his mouth and says, “Buk? Buk-buk?” Like a chicken.

He came to me by way of a friend who joined the Peace Corps and had to leave him behind. I wasn’t thrilled at the idea of adopting him—I wanted a kitten, some sweet little thing that would race up the side of the bed, tuck itself under my chin and fall asleep. Murphy was nine years old and overweight. He had a broken fang and his ears were scarred and tattered at the tips. He didn’t want much, just his food and a soft chair and permission to follow me around. He didn’t twine around my legs, or ram his head into my hand, demanding to be petted. He didn’t

even cry to go out; he simply sat in front of the door waiting to be noticed, and if I didn’t take heed, he would start to pick the threshold, very gently. It didn’t take long to love him.

I bend down and kiss his head—it smells dusty—and his paws stretch and crimp. “Who’s my boy?” I murmur, and he looks up at me in sleepy confusion, his upper lip caught for a moment on what’s left of his fang. A bead of drool slides down his chin.

“Who’s my beautiful boy?”

I check my watch again. It’s 1:40 pm, which gives me ten minutes to get ready for work—more than enough time. Unlike most people, I dress down for my job, in jeans and sneakers and spotted T-shirts—only when I’ve managed to stain something is it suitable for work.

Some days I tell myself that a lucky chain of events brought me to cooking, that a mysterious and knowing force directed me away from the tidy corporate world and into the fun house of kitchen work.

And there are other days, more and more of them, when I look at my life squarely and find, not serendipity, but sabotage. That’s when I see, with stunning clarity, each wrong turn I’ve made, and how much these blunders and bargains have cost me.

I should have stuck, in the first place, with science. As a child I was enthralled with shows that took me underwater: Flipper, Sea Hunt, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. I wanted to live in a world of chattering dolphins and singing whales; I wanted to search for giant squid with eyes as wide as dinner plates. “I’m going to do what they do,” I announced to my mother one evening. We were watching a Jacques Cousteau special. Jacques had hold of a sea turtle and his crew—four skinny men—were cutting away the fishing net it was trapped in. My mother, snuggled into the sofa, sipped her scotch and nodded. She was happy, smoking cigarettes and watching TV; my father, who wouldn’t permit these pleasures, was away on business.

Anything that slid through water, even through a mud puddle, captivated me, and I took to carrying a plastic bucket wherever I went, coming home with my catch of the day: silver minnows, velvety tadpoles, yellow-bellied newts. These I tried to nurture in a fish bowl on my bedside table, but they never lasted very long, especially the spry minnows, whose wizened bodies I’d find on the hardwood floor. One time I ordered a pair of seahorses through the mail. They were a disappointment from the start, a lot smaller than I imagined and not much fun to watch. For four days they clung to the scrap of seaweed they came with, and then they simply let go and died. They weren’t, in the end, any better than sea monkeys.

Still I wasn’t deterred. What I needed, I told my mother, was an aquarium, and, eying the latest casualty on my bedroom floor, she agreed. The next day she cashed in her green stamps and bought me a starter tank with all the accessories, and instead of scooping my pets out of puddles and ditches I began to buy them. I still have that aquarium, and two others. That’s what my dream has amounted to: three fish tanks in my livingroom.

Where would I be now if I had stayed true to this first love? Navigating the Amazon? Anchored off the coast of Figi? What would I be doing at this very moment if, 14 years ago, I had held my course and majored in biology? Instead, panicking over the math, I veered off into English literature. Wrong turn number one.

I take off my sweatpants and pull on the jeans I wore yesterday, then open my dresser and pull out a clean t-shirt. That’s one of the compensations of cooking, not having to spend a ton of money on clothes. I don’t have to fuss with makeup either; I work behind a swinging door and no one but the staff sees me.

I pause in front of the mirror and smooth back my short hair with my hands. My hair gets a lot of attention, mostly because I’m 32 and it’s white. Ten years ago, when I noticed the first silver streaks, I was more curious than anything: if my hair was going, what else was? Since then I haven’t given it much thought. People seems to like my hair, though that’s not the reason I don’t color it. The truth is, I can’t be bothered, can’t imagine having to worry about my roots and whether they’re showing.

I lift my purse off the the doorknob and turn to Murphy.

“Okay, Murph. It’s time.”

He gets to his feet and carefully lowers his haunches to the floor. I follow his yellow bulk as he walks, head down, out the bedroom, through the kitchen and utility room, to the back door. He breaks my heart, this cat.

It’s a sunny afternoon, surprisingly warm for the end of May. Locking the door, I smell the neighbor’s creeping jasmine. Fat black bees hum in the red trumpet-shaped flowers that hang above my head. Vines have mobbed this place. You can’t even see the fence anymore, just a cool blue wall of morning glory.

Though the rent is nearly half my income, I’m lucky to be here. Not many people in Berkeley get to live in a cottage, and this one, trimmed in flowers, is perfect. Just big enough for one person, or a couple, but only if they’ve learned to live like a pair of old slippers, side by side in quiet agreement. Rita and I never made it that far, which is why her leaving was such a relief.

The house in front of my cottage is occupied by Joel and Sasha, a free-spirited pair who grow marijuana among the tomato plants in our backyard. There is a three-story home next door and a set of apartments behind us, but people here respect this sort of enterprise and kindly look the other way.

Joel, who paints murals, is standing in his kitchen as I walk past the house. He lifts his beer and grins at me through the window, and I wave back. He is a slight man in his late 20s with green eyes and a gorgeous jaw. He dyes his hair platinum, wears neon-colored T-shirts and likes to sing, often in the garden as he trims his pot plants. Sasha is an ardent cyclist; today she’s pedaling through the east bay hills, training for a race in Salinas next week. While not as good-looking as Joel, Sasha is the picture of fitness; I like the veins in her forearms, and I never get tired of gazing at her sinewy legs.

In the driveway, two strips of concrete with grass in the middle, sits their battered Volkswagen van. It’s plastered with pleas: Save Mono Lake, Think Green, Buy Organic, Protect Your Local Planet. I don’t have a car, or a license to drive one. At 16, having failed the road test twice, I blew my nerve; now I can’t even think about trying again without breaking into a sweat.

Fortunately the restaurant is only four blocks away. Reaching the corner I turn onto Telegraph Avenue and the world is suddenly filled with cars and motion. On either side of the street people are taking care of business: walking dogs down the the gum-studded sidewalk, shoving wet laundry into the dryers at Bing Wong’s, pushing shopping carts through the Co-op parking lot. An elderly woman, her face mottled and shrunken, sits on a milk crate and holds out her hand. Coming toward me are three Hare Krishna, bald and equally ugly; then a tall black man who is talking to himself with great enthusiasm, his arms a blur of gestures. Next comes a Hindu woman in a hurry. She brushes by me, her eyes dark with worry; I look at the red dot on her forehead and feel as though I’ve just been warned—or cursed.

I don’t see Zee’s bicycle when I come around the side of the restaurant. Maybe she got a ride? No, Ann assures me, her voice exultant.

“Zee called an hour ago. She hurt her foot and can’t walk. Or so she says,” Ann adds, arching an eyebrow.

Shit. I grab a menu to see how much work I have to do; without Zee I’ll have to prep the pantry station as well as saute. The salads aren’t bad: Caesar, of course; mixed greens with a roasted shallot vinaigrette; butter lettuce with gorgonzola. Looking at the first courses I see that I have to clean mussels, slice prosciutto and make some kind of soup. Oh no. There are five pastas tonight and one of them has calamari in it.

I look up from the menu and glare at Ann; satisfied, she turns away.

“Why didn’t you call me?” I say.

She shrugs. “I didn’t think about it.”

Ann likes me, as well as she likes anyone. She’s just mad at the world and her revenge is reflexive. She’s not pretty, that’s the main trouble. Her face is a long box, her eyes are a watery, bloodshot blue, and her mouth is a junkyard of crooked teeth. What she really wants to be is a concert pianist; she doesn’t like to talk about this and I have no idea what’s stopping her. I do know that she’s a good broiler cook, though she hates every minute she spends here and never tires of telling me what “crap food” we make. Today she’s especially spiteful and, taking another look at the menu, I see why: one of the appetizers is fritto misto.

Robert, our bright-eyed, boyish pastry chef, has taken off his apron and is scraping the dried dough from his butcher block. While he works only four hours a day and could easily wash a case of lettuce, I don’t bother to ask him: he won’t. I don’t blame him, in fact I admire his boundaries. Usually. Right now I can’t even look at him.

I throw a pan of shallots in the oven and start slicing through heads of romaine. The lettuce is muddier than usual and in a few minutes my cutting board is smudged and gritty. And the quality isn’t good either—there’s no heart to speak of, just tough dark green leaves. Molly won’t be happy about this, though it’s probably her fault: I bet she forgot to pay the produce bill; either that or she sent them a bad check. Our paychecks bounce all the time, which is why we race each other to the bank; if we don’t make it there before the funds run out we have to go back and tell Molly, who feigns surprise and remorse, then unlocks her desk drawer and pulls out some cash. I was stunned the first time this happened, and embarrassed for Molly, but now it’s just tedious.

The water in the bus tub is dark brown—I’ll have to rinse this stuff three times. At least I don’t have to dry it by hand. Someone had the clever idea of buying a used washing machine; we just dump in the wet lettuce and turn on the spin cycle. You can only use it for romaine though, the other greens won’t hold up. My anger mounts as I think about the flimsy butter lettuce and how long that’ll take me; and the dressings, the soup, the pasta prep, not to mention the five pounds of calamari. For a minute I think about asking Molly to take if off the menu, but I know the pained look she’ll give me and what she’ll say: “Oh Lorrie, I wish I could, but the menus are already printed”—like that three bucks she spends at the copy place is such a big investment.

I look out the back door and see Juan watering the garden. Juan lives behind the restaurant, in an apartment owned by Molly. In exchange for rent he tends the garden, breaks down boxes, washes dishes and runs errands. On days when he’s not feeling like a kept man, he can be charmed into helping me clean fish, chop parsley, dice onions. This doesn’t happen often and it won’t happen today. I can tell by the stubborn set of his shoulders, by the way his legs are planted, that my feminine wiles will be of no use.

Well I’m not making a pureed soup, that’s for sure; and they’re getting yesterday’s crostini; and if I have to make salads all night I’m premixing the Caesar dressing and grating the Parmesan ahead of time.

There are a few small rewards: Zee squeezed lemon juice last night, we have four quarts of bolognese in the freezer, the faucet next to the stove has been fixed and we don’t have any reservations until 6:45.

I grasp another squid, cut off the tentacles and squeeze out the soft white guts, then slide my finger into the slick tube and drag out the quill. And this is nothing compared to some of the things I do here. Last month, for instance, we had what they call the “Unmentionables Dinner,” a ritual we practice once a year to amuse a few ruthless chefs. I think it benefits something, certainly not the animals. I couldn’t bring myself to pluck the starlings so they made me peel turkey testicles.

The only civilized part of my workday comes at 4:45 when the cooks and waiters sit down to dinner. We’re supposed to discuss the specials, which we prepare for this purpose, but after the first five minutes the conversation dilates and we end up talking about movies, or the concert program at the Greek theater, or a sublet someone heard about, or current airfare to Italy. Our wait staff is an accomplished lot, one a professional photographer, another a published author. None of us intended to work in a restaurant and we all believe we’ll find a way out.

It’s a night like many others. The start is slow, just a handful of walk-ins before the predictable 7 to 8 flurry, then a lull that nobody trusts. Sure enough we get hit again just after 9—a play or movie must have ended. For a while I manage fine, sprinting between the stove and salad station, keeping track of my tickets, but then they start streaming in and before I know it I’m buried. Ann, seeing this, barks out the orders and I just keep my head down and make them. At one point Paul, one of our newer waiters, tells me he needs a frutti di mare without scallops and an alfredo without garlic. “Write it down!” I hiss, shoving the ticket at him. He makes a note on the order and eases it back to me and I snatch it from his hand. The worst moment comes when he tells me he dropped a pasta carbonara. “Great,” I say. “Fucking great. That helps a lot.” He blanches and flees the kitchen and I hurl another saute pan onto the stove.

By 9:45 every table is eating and aside from plating a few desserts and putting things away my job is over. I walk over to the grill station and thank Ann for calling out the orders. Happy to be leaving soon, she gives me a snaggle-toothed smile and says she knows what it’s like, working without a pantry cook. The floor in front of the deep fryer is splattered with grease and she’s pushing a bar towel across the area with her foot. Ann’s had a bad night too; her apron is filthy, her bangs are sticking to her forehead, and there’s a fresh burn on her forearm.

Andre walks up with half a bottle of Montepulciano and pours us each a glass.

“79 covers,” he says. He turns to Ann and clinks his glass against hers. “And 32 fritto mistos.” He looks at her, cocks his head in sympathy. “Sorry. I wasn’t trying to sell them.”

“Everyone loves fried food,” I say, picking up my wine.

Paul rounds the corner and, seeing me, pauses. Feigning interest in the flowers on the end of the bar, he plucks off a few dead blossoms.

I walk over to him and place my hand on his arm. “Paul. I’m sorry for snapping at you.”

“It’s okay.” He turns from the flowers and looks at me and I notice what long lashes he has. “I’m sorry about dropping that pasta.”

Every night it’s the same. The rush ends and we all emerge, as if from the same cage, dazed and grateful, our hearts swollen with forgiveness. I give his arm a squeeze and head back into the kitchen.

At two minutes after ten, a breathless young couple shows up at our locked door, tapping on the glass, pleading to be fed, and naturally Molly lets them in. What they want of course is pasta—I just dumped both pots of water.

There’s no fog cover tonight and the air is chilly. Telegraph Avenue is quiet now, with only a few cars going by. I walk quickly, not because I’m afraid of being out at night, simply because I want to get home. I don’t fear being assaulted in this city. Berkeley is home to the homeless, a haven for lost souls. The free-loving 60s still resonate, and while petty theft is common enough, real criminals can get no purchase here.

Murphy is waiting on the steps. He hoists himself up when he sees me and lays a paw against the door.

“Hi sweetie,” I whisper, petting his back, which he arches in compliance. His fur isn’t very soft anymore; like old upholstery it’s showing wear.

Right away I pour myself another glass of wine and collapse on the sofa. On my clothes I can smell the foods I made tonight, my fingers reek of garlic. Murphy doesn’t mind; he settles in beside me and gazes at my face. I love sitting here in the soft glow of the aquariums, Murphy purring, the pumps humming. Hypnotized by the movements of the fish, I lull myself into a stupor.

When I have finished my wine there is nothing to do but go to bed. Shifting Murphy, I rise from the sofa, my legs weak and rubbery. It’s not good to be on your feet for so long. I’ll probably get varicose veins.

I am so tired that even brushing my teeth is a chore. Accomplishing that, I wash up at the sink—no way could I manage a shower—and make my way to the bedroom. Buttoning my pajamas I study the new postcard from Bett. Virginia. A pond. A pink kitchen.

Murphy, considerate as always, lies down at the foot of the bed and I climb in and pull up the covers. A breeze comes through the window and I hear wind chimes. I don’t like chimes, not at night. That disembodied music, that tinkling in the dark. It makes me feel lonely.

It’s 2:30 in the morning in Virginia. I see Bett, unable to sleep, leaving her cabin and walking through tall wet grass down to the pond. The crickets are shrill and constant. A television flickers in a nearby window. When she reaches the mucky bank small green frogs jump into the water. She wraps her arms around herself and looks out over the pond. A zigzag of moonlight slides across the black surface. The cry of a loon carries over the water; she tries but can’t see it. For several moments she stands there, her jeans soaked with dew, and then she turns around, heads for the yellow light of her porch.

WHERE TO BUY IT: LOST SISTER is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The price is $12.95. Used copies are available.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: http://jean-ryan.com/ lena1000@sbcglobal.net https://www.facebook.com/Jean-Ryan-Author-177400552374366/?ref=hl

Twitter: @JeanRyan_

3. It Happened in a Lutheran Church

It Happened

THE AUTHOR: Rebecca Moatz.

THE PUBLISHER:  Xulon Press. They are the largest Christian Self-Publishing company owned and operated by Salem Media Group. They have self-published over 10,000 Christian Authors since 2001. I won my publishing package through a contest they hold every year by submitting a personal essay I wrote entitled Angels Among Us.

SUMMARY:  Churches are often called “sanctuaries,” but the experience of Rebecca Moatz and her son was just the opposite. In “It Happened in a Lutheran Church,” she writes with heartfelt candor about how rumors about her son not only affected both their lives, but carved an ugly split in the congregation that had once nurtured them. This is a personal story, but also a cautionary tale about how churches are not immune to rumor, gossip and conflict.

BACK STORY:  Because Joshua was only ten years old when these incidents took place, he grew into adulthood from that point on having to work through someone else’s issues, anger and attitude that he didn’t even initially understand. Three years later, just as it was all far enough behind him to start fading away, we ran into our former pastor.

The memories came flooding back, and he was then old enough to figure out what he may have been accused of.  Our pastor refused to disclose that information to us.  Looking at the situation three years later was both horrifying and embarrassing for him.

By sharing our experience, however, we have worked through all of the difficult emotions and came through stronger from it.  It is my hope that other children and their families can learn something valuable from our journey, recognize the signs of communication breakdown and make healthy decisions for themselves and those they share a house of worship with.


By Angela J. Shirley on August 15, 2014

Format: Paperback

This story is happening in a lot of churches and Rebecca was brave enough to bring it to our attention. Too many times things are swept under the carpet and left there. Too many times the scars are there and people do not see them. Too many times people give up on believing due to what they experienced at a church. This is a must read for anyone that is attending a church and feeling safe. This book will give you some insight into the possibilities and teach you to be alert. Too many times church goers attend services seeking answers to life’s questions or needing someone to care about what they are going through in life. Too many times they are taken advantage of. I am hoping this book will help those churches that do really care to be aware of the pain that is going on out there with other churches. Who knows, some of their new members could be coming from such a church. This book is a must read for anyone that cares about people and to learn as much as they can about people and what they may or may not do to you. Rebecca has opened up her insides to hopefully save others from going through what she did. It is people like these that save lives and give others hope!
By sheilakay on July 3, 2013

Format: Paperback

WHO MIGHT LIKE TO READ THIS: Lutherans, Members of Clergy, Members of all houses of worship, Parents of school-age children, Grandparents, Godparents.

AUTHOR PROFILE: I was born in Wilmington, DE and grew up in rural Pennsylvania. A series of challenges have led me to reinvent myself many times to meet the needs of my family. I have worked in medical, technical and creative fields and have operated several in home businesses, including a daycare, and bring the sum of my experiences to my writing.

With a unique balance of empathy and understanding to offer the reader, I now heal others with my words and bring a fresh perspective to some of the more difficult life situations. It Happened in a Lutheran Church is my first book and I have plans for many more.

A recent widow, I live in Reading, PA with my son and three sensational feline siblings.

Visit my blog, The Controversial Christian at: http://moonlightscribe.simplesite.com/282257900 where I write about finding inspiration in the least likely of places.

WHERE TO BUY IT: My book is available through Xulon Press and Amazon.com. It can also be ordered locally through Barnes and Noble in Wyomissing, PA.

The Hysterectomy Waltz

Merrill Gerber II

THE BOOK: The Hysterectomy Waltz.


THE AUTHOR: Merrill Joan Gerber.

THE PUBLISHER: “Dzanc (a new publisher, which put on-line 16 of my prior books as e-books. You can find them on Amazon by typing in “Merrill Joan Gerber Kindle.” Please note that the covers of the e-books: these were all painted by me in the Cancer Support Center which offers a watercolor class for those in cancer treatment and beyond.”

A woman of forty is discovered to have an ovarian cyst that doctors decide should be removed, as with “all the rest of it,” so she won’t have to return at some future time to have her sex organs removed.

THE BACK STORY:  “My novel was actually written 30 years before it was published. I had a hysterectomy when I was forty years old, after I had my three children. In those days it was the fashion to tell a woman “You might as well have it all out. Forget the plumbing, keep the playground.”

“When I reported to my surgeon about a serious reduction in sexual feeling, she said to me: ‘Well, you’re a writer, maybe you’re more sensitive than most.'”

The Hysterectomy WaltzWHY THIS TITLE? Prior to my surgery, a film strip was shown to women with the clear message that even if all our sexual organs were removed, “You can still waltz the night away with your husband.”

The phrase was perfect, and it became the title for my novel.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? This book is a fearless look at female sexuality, anatomy, marriage, motherhood and love — there’s never been another book like it about hysterectomy, or about anyrthing else.


By Jenijoy LaBelle:
“No one but the astonishing Merrill Joan Gerber could have written this wonderful and wicked novel. Her heroine undergoes a painful and perhaps unnecessary hysterectomy, and yet you’ll find yourself laughing hysterically (pun intended) throughout this eloquent black comedy. It is both derisively written and deeply felt. Male gynecologists may have removed the narrator’s uterus and one of her ovaries, but it is Gerber’s sharp eyes, wit and tongue that dissect those doctors for our delectation. I relished every page of this provocative novel, and each step of the waltz.”

By Cynthia Ozick:
“I came to the end of this excerpt, not knowing it was the end, and there wasn’t any more, and what a disappointment. It’s truly powerful, and acrid and barber and filled with wonderful and unexpected turns of phrase, and above all it’s shocking in its directness and understated anger and sadness and fear. In short, it’s an amazing piece of writing.”

: Merrill Joan Gerber is a prize-winning novelist and short story writer who has published sevwen novels — among them The Kingdom of Brooklyn, winner of the Ribalow Award from Hadassah Magazine for “the best English language book of fiction on a Jewish theme”; Anna in the Afterlife, chosen by the Los Angeles times as one of the “Best Novels of 2002,” and King of the World, which won the Pushcart Editor’s Book Award.

Merrill has written five volumes of short stories, and her stories and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Mademoiselle, The Sewanee Review, The Virginia Review, Commentary, Salmagundi, The American Scholar, The Southwest Review, and elsewhere. She earned her BA from the University of Florida, her MA in English from Brandeis University and was awarded a Wallace Stegner Fiction Fellowship to Stanford University. She presently teaches fiction writing at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: On Amazon page.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “So many women have hysterectomies without realizing the profound effect the removal of the uturus may have on their sexual responses. Yes, you may be able to waltz the night away with your lover after such a surgery, but you may not have the acute joy in sex you may have had before.”

WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & noble, local bookstores.

PRICE: $6.41 on-line at Amazon, $6.09 e-book, $15 at a bookstore.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Merrill Joan Gerber can be reached by e-mail at merrillgerber@yahoo.com. See her Web page at www.merrilljoangerber.com.

2. Girl Without Borders

THE BOOK:  Girl Without Borders

PUBLISHED IN: 2013Girl Without Borders

THE AUTHOR: Katya Mills

THE EDITOR: Katya Mills


SUMMARY:  Chicago. West side. Follow the paths of three young lovers, at the turn of the millennium. Working-class punks and degenerate-labelled youth move across the urban landscape, effortlessly, at night. Suffering the depths to which culture has sunk. Looking for refuge. Fearless in love.

Katya 2Will is a young man with a big heart and big dreams. Intelligent, sensitive and compassionate. Determined to make a life for himself in the city. Determined to learn the code of the streets. He falls for a girl, Bella, who has a punk attitude and style all her own. In no time, she steals his heart. There is another woman, Cass who has her heart set on Will. But the love is unrequited. LIfe gets complicated, as Will gets lost in love. Danger, drama, and emotional turmoil loom on the horizon.

Generation X. Raised on punk rock, hip-hop and celebrity worship. Raised on high fructose corn-syrups. Pop and pop culture detritus. Raised on flat land, with crazy straws. Wannabe rockstars and burnouts. Follow the tale of youth who live and love large, in the shadow of the generation before them. Praying not to be reduced to culture’s blind carbon copies. Where love becomes power… with tragic consequences.

THE BACK STORY: “I began this story when I was living in Chicago, the heart of the setting. I finished the book a decade later. Having an emotional connection to a place is the foundation off of which I like to build my fictions. I wrote the book mostly in coffeehouses in Bucktown and Wicker Park, and I swear I almost got my ass kicked for using a laptop in a café in some parts of the city back then, pre-millenium. This is my first publication, and a complete – DIY- labor of love. I did everything and designed the cover. (I still do everything on my books, I just don’t design my covers anymore). I put everything and my heart into this work.”

WHY THIS TITLE: I have a MA in Psychology. I chose this title in consideration of BPD: borderline personality disorder. One of the main characters clearly suffers from this condition (and those around her suffer from her suffering from it, too). Just so you know, I do not preach psychology or discuss diagnoses within the text, it’s just a feeling you get by the characterization.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: The book is character-driven and told from the perspective of a young man who is struggling to makes sense of his life, not always thrilled to be caught between two or more women, somewhat aimless and reckless and pretty honest about it all. You might want to read it if there was a time in your life where you were fighting the tendency toward becoming jaded and/or numb. I cannot doll it up. If that sounds interesting to you, check it out. I do think my writing style is pretty original, but not everyone and their mother is into it, so be sure and read the sample.


Yusuf Toropov (an Amazon reviewer) wrote:  “A fresh, authentic, and confident new voice in American fiction. This is not a YA novel, a fact the cover design could do more to get across. Some minor quibbles: The book still needs a power edit for minor style errors, and perhaps a little cutting in places. And the female protagonist’s first name is not one I would have chosen. But tiny problems like that, juxtaposed with the feast of inventive, sprawling, muscular, character-driven writing here, are no big deal. Tiny problems just remind you that you are getting in on the ground floor with a writer who is going to do important things. Which she is.

“It’s marvelous stuff and you should read it RIGHT NOW — a) because it’s superb and b) so you can say you saw it all coming.”

Sarah V. Arnold (an Amazon reviewer) wrote: “With an intriguing plot line, storytelling that channels bits of Hemingway and Faulkner, and descriptions reminiscent of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mills creates a rich American subculture in which she places her characters–deeply fragile, but living forcefully, and at times, frantically. The read is entertaining and enveloping; my only negative is that is left me wondering in a few places (I won’t give any spoilers)–is there a part 2 to follow? Definitely worth checking out!”

AUTHOR PROFILE: Katya was born on February 1st,1973, and raised in New Hampshire. She recently published her first novel, Girl Without Borders. She exchanged a whole lot of drama on the streets of Oakland and Chicago, for a simple life. Today she lives in California with her two kittens, Boo and Mouse. She is a survivor.

Katya has been reading and writing since an early age. She received her BA in English Literature from Northwestern University, and more recently, her MA in Psychology. She has developed a signature style all her own. Academics and street science equally inform her writing.

Today she can often be found in her backyard, reading Edgar Allen Poe and gathering fresh mint and oregano. Her old Royal typewriter has taken a backseat to her Chromebook. She writes dark, psychological thrillers. Her characters are often young punks with the ‘me against the world’ mentality. You can find her long form work (including 2 novels, 1 novella, and a short story) on her Amazon Author page:  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1?ie=UTF8&text=Katya+Mills&search-alias=digital-text&field-author=Katya+Mills&sort=relevancerank
AUTHOR COMMENTS: All I have to say is thank you to Darrell and the owners of this website for helping independent authors find readers and vice versa. And if you do like my work, good news, you can expect many more publications from me going forward. Right now I am on pace to deliver one novella every six months. I really love to write (sometimes to the detriment of getting outdoors and really living).

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Here is the link to the sample on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Without-Borders-Katya-Mills-ebook/dp/B00F21WQ5E/

That redhead, Bella, dragged Will out nights to dance every couple of weeks, and in the day they got high together on the quilt on his bed and walked to the old Logan Beach Café a few blocks away (and miles from a beach) for huevos rancheros and coffee, then walked back and admired the facades of turn of the century homes with turrets and stained glass. She spoke of excavating her kitchen floor, vinyl over vinyl over vinyl. They laughed about the doors they stole out of an antique shop alley and rolled back to her apartment in a shopping cart.

She had a nice laugh. They returned to his place and made out but did not make love, and she had her mango paleta for dessert, he his horchata. The best summer afternoons were about storms coming over the city, and he would open all the windows and lie on the bed and the light would recede slowly, in hours, longer than the hymn of the breeze that rose to a wind that carried velvet sheets of rain, and she would rest her head on his chest as he drifted in and out of consciousness, and together they would fall away and meet up again, or miss each other and watch the other in sleep for a few peaceful moments. As a continuum it was meditative. They sometimes lay for twelve hours like this. The phone would ring and nobody would answer. The radio a room away pissed classical into time, and time was clear and the piss was sparkling and the two went well together so there was no reason to flush.

All that was missing were the wind chimes he remembered so well from the years he lived by the shore. Books did take him away. But life, when it was on, was fantastic. There needed be no going to distant imagined lands. The world was so small they knew it was round and found the poles and all that lay in between. And killed the cat.

Coming back to himself felt good, though it could be so very painful, like falling a couple of stories and hitting the ground so hard; hard as truth hits with a look from that pretty, pretty face that destroyed and rebuilt the entire human race, from knots of shedding twine to silk edged with lace.

The night turned in on itself, through much of it he slept, until half past three when he rose and watched a movie in the dark and alone, and Bella rose to embrace him with the sunrise. He played the beads on her wrist while she touched the seeds on his necklace and still she was tired, and they lay down together and pulled the sheet over themselves which he drew back again so to put his feet back on the floor and pull the tapestry over the window off its hooks to make the night go on into day while they lay in bed. What a dream this is, what a nightmare! He would have gone down and sucked the dirt off her toes had she asked, but she would not ask.

That afternoon was summer hot in America and they went to a diner and sat in a booth across from one another and were handed paper menus. Coffee was poured into heavy mugs before them. There were few people in the diner. Outside, a young child walked down the sidewalk with heavy feet, each arm wrapped around a wheel of cheese, past the large plate glass window and the two of them in the booth on the other side.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Without-Borders-Katya-Mills-ebook/dp/B00F21WQ5E/

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Barnes And Noble

PRICE: $9 Paperback   $3.50 Kindle/Nook


email: katyamills@live.com    twitter: katya444ever

website: www.katyamills.com

g+ : https://plus.google.com/+KatyaMillsauthor/posts

1. Fail


THE BOOK: FFailail


THE AUTHOR: Rick Skwiot

THE PUBLISHER: Blank Slate Press, a division of Amphorae Publishing Group

Rick Skwiot 2

SUMMARY:  Disgraced African-American St. Louis Police Lieutenant Carlo Gabriel wants fiercely to return to the headquarters hierarchy from which he has been exiled to the city’s tough North Side. All he needs do is track down the missing husband of the mayor’s vivacious press secretary. Instead he unwittingly and unwillingly unearths a morass of corruption, educational malpractice and greed that consigns thousands of at-risk youths to the mean streets of America’s erstwhile murder capital. Worse, it’s the kind of information that could get a cop killed.

Fighting for life and his honor, Gabriel makes chilling discoveries that ultimately lead to a life-threatening and life-changing decision—a choice that could affect not only his own future but also that of the city and its top leaders.

THE BACK STORY: Fail takes place in St. Louis, but the necessary story elements could be found in most any American city: dysfunctional families and schools, rampant crime and governmental corruption, adultery and murder. And some teachers and cops trying to do the right thing against all odds.

My own awakening to one these elements—failing inner city schools—came some 20 years ago when I agreed to teach a remedial grammar course at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park. I had recently been teaching composition at Mizzou, which was a grind, and figured this would be easier—shorter papers to grade. Wrong. The class contained 18 ambitious young African-American students trying to better themselves but who had not tested well enough to get into regular first-year comp. All had graduated from St. Louis high schools yet none could consistently write grammatically correct sentences or speak grammatical Standard English. Problems included lack of verb-noun agreement, missing verbs and poor spelling—stuff they should have gotten in first and second grade but for some reason hadn’t gotten it even by 12th grade.

I wondered: How could this happen—this educational malpractice? After some years conducting research and writing Fail, I have an idea what’s gone wrong—and the causes are many. As to fixing it… That’s not so easy given entrenched bureaucracies and failed public policies, as well as broad social and cultural ills.

Other dubious elements put to dramatic use in the book are public knowledge: random violence on the streets, enmity between cops and young black men, gang activity; on the political front, an illegal campaign finance scheme to which a recent Missouri governor pled guilty, a towing company racket that brought down the St. Louis Chief of Police and no-show employees on the city payroll. Plus the ghost education given many college athletes, which has been documented at numerous institutions. Ditto for the adulterous escapades of top elected officials—mayors, congressmen, presidents et cetera.

Fiction is built on human problems, conflict and misbehavior. Having so much ready material at hand makes the fiction writer’s job easier. Not necessarily more pleasant, but easier. It would be hard to make all this up.

WHY THIS TITLE?:  Fail portrays the failure of inner city schools and other institutions that are victimizing so many young people.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?:  Readers say they love Fail’s major protagonist, a tough, wisecracking Mexican- and African-American cop, Lt. Carlo Gabriel, who has been exiled to the city’s unruly North Side for beating a prisoner who had killed one of his men. Divorced, 54, a former basketball player for Saint Louis University and a lapsed Catholic, he gets called in on a missing person case by his former partner Angelo Cira, now the mayor, with a chance to redeem himself.

I like Carlo, too, because he is human, that is, a man with weaknesses: somewhat corruptible, a sensualist, always on a diet. In fact, at one time or another in the novel he practices all the Seven Deadly Sins—wrath, greed, lust, pride, sloth, envy, and gluttony. Also, he is somewhat of a mystery himself, hard to figure, and the reader can’t be sure on what side of the law—and right and wrong—he will land until the end.


“St. Louis noir…The slick prose readily entertains…Well-executed.” — Kirkus Reviews

“The plot is intriguing — dirty dealings at City Hall, corruption in government and a super-smart cop who has gotten on the bad side of the bigwigs…an enjoyable read with such a St. Louis feel…” –St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“…not to be missed…a compelling crime novel in the cool and crisp language.” –Qiu Xiaolong, author of Enigma of China: An Inspector Chen Novel

AUTHOR PROFILE:  Former journalist Rick Skwiot is the author of three previous novels—the Hemingway First Novel Award winner Death in Mexico, the Willa Cather Fiction Prize finalist Sleeping With Pancho Villa, and Key West Story—as well as two memoirs: the critically-acclaimed Christmas at Long Lake: A Childhood Memory and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico: Memoir of a Sensual Quest for Spiritual Healing. He also works as a feature writer, book doctor and editor. From St. Louis, he currently resides in Key West.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “Coincidentally, certain elements in Fail mirror the August 2014 shooting of a black suspect by a white cop in suburban Ferguson, Missouri, which occurred just as Fail was going into print. Luckily, this was an isolated incident. But the culture of violence, gunplay and institutional failure that often contribute to street tragedies are front and center in Fail. When I sat down to write the novel, I wanted to craft a page-turning mystery that dramatized the sorry state of our inner cities and in particular the failure of our schools there.

SAMPLE CHAPTER:  You can read a sample chapter at http://blankslatepress.com/authors/rick-skwiot/.

WHERE TO BUY IT Fail is available at all major online booksellers in both paperback and ebook versions.

PRICE: Kindle version $6.99, Nook $8.99; paperback $14.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:  RickSkwiot@gmail.com, http://www.RickSkwiot.com, facebook.com/rick.skwiot, twitter

2. Dead in a Ditch

Heather Osting 3

THE BOOK: Dead in a Ditch


THE AUTHOR: Heather Lynn Osting

THE EDITOR: Rachel Irene Graham & Deborah Grothouse.

THE PUBLISHER: Createspace

Dead in a Ditch 2SUMMARY: Vivienne Lynn Taylor is your typical Midwestern girl.  Born and raised in small town in Ohio, the only real crime girls like her ever experience is being charged a $2.00 late fee per video per day from her local video store.  A real travesty in small town America. 

Vivienne has seen some dark times by being touched by unfortunate circumstances in her personal life; a daughter of a broken home with a dysfunctional abusive father as her maker. Despite that, she’s surprisingly optimistic, yet realistic with a rebel spirit…a spirit that leads her down a path that will leave her changed unlike any other she’s ever known.

It all starts when she decides to immerse herself in a weekend of biker-lore fun and games, surrounded by a sea of tattoos, illicit drugs, sex, motorcycles, rock and roll, and all the things parents spend their lives trying to shield their children from.

What starts out as a wide eyed young girl’s walk on the wild side, turns into a mayhem filled ride on a highway to hell.  What transpires next is a testament to the will of a girl who didn’t know what she was made of until she was forced to choose between her life or an untimely death.  Some who would find themselves in her shoes, might of easily chosen death.
THE BACK STORY:  I, Heather Lynn Osting, am NOT a writer.  I am a non-writer, who wrote a book.  When I say I am not a writer, I mean to tell you I am not a “classically trained” writer.  I did not attend a fancy liberal arts college where I studied theory, and the English language in great detail.  I did not take philosophy, or study foreign languages.  I did however possess a vintage typewriter when I was old enough to know what one was, and I would type things, just to hear the arms swing up from the darkness of the typewriter’s well, and imprint letters, words and phrases onto a virgin sheet of paper.  I wrote poems first, then short stories.  I pretended to write songs.  I also spent a lot of time trying to teach myself to sketch and draw.  Creating was always in the forefront of my mind.  Beauty is what drew me in, beautiful words, phrasing, sunsets, vibrant colors….the way a glass reflects and refracts an image, the way a leaf floats effortless down from it’s limb and makes it way into a river that swiftly takes it away on a new adventure.  And this my friends is why I did not go to a liberal arts college for writing!  In small town USA, writing is the thing big city dreams are made of, in small town USA, you go learn a skill, a trade.  So while writing was my passion, I would make being a Paralegal my profession.  I rather enjoyed reading law and deciphering it’s context, applying it to case studies and scenarios.  I eventually, after graduating, took a job with a small criminal defense firm and I learned so very much about crime, criminals and the motivations to which drive the crimes they committed.  I spoke face to face with accused rapists, drug addicts, molesters, and deviants of all sorts, big and small.  But always remembering the word “Accused” as a preface….as its’ not over until sentencing.  And even then you have appeals.

I was a writer with no formal training, I was a writer from the tip of my toes to the top of my head, yet nobody really cares unless you write something.  So I got some poems published, won a couple awards in poetry.  This made me wonder if I really had a knack for writing.  So I started a blog, which amazed me when I found that I had followers, LOYAL, smart and lively ones.  My friends and family always would always say “you should write a book” and I would say to them “what on earth do I have to write about that anyone would want to read?” and it was that kind of thinking that kept me from trying to write anything outside of my blog.  UNTIL…..Water for Elephants.  Fast forward many years later, I would read a book that would inspire me to do what I never attempted before.  Write a book of my own.  Why you might ask, well it’s because after reading Water for Elephants, I went to my local library to get a new book to devour and couldn’t find one that sounded interesting to me.  I was miffed.  So as I walked out of the side doors of the Delphos Public Library, I said to myself…”Well, I’ll just write my own book!” and three days later, after being glued to my computer and keyboard, ‘Dead in a Ditch’ was born.  I had written my first novel.  Trust me, I was as surprised as anyone by this.  Three days, copious amounts of coffee and a stubborn creative streak and a little novel was born unto me.  And it was my baby….a baby I was protective of, a baby I was afraid to let others hold, a baby that made me curl up on the couch and cry over when I got published and got my first “not-so-nice” review on Amazon.  And that m’friends is the story of how DIAD came to be.

WHY THIS TITLE?: “Dead in a Ditch” is a phrase used 100x over by my parents growing up.  CONSTANTLY they were saying “Heather, we thought you were dead in a ditch somewhere” when I would come home late.  Or “Do you want to end up dead in a ditch” when I’d talk to a stranger.  Or one of my favorites, at 21 when I told my mother I was going to my first motorcycle rally:  “you can’t go to a motorcycle party…do you want to end up dead in a ditch…never to be heard from or seen again?”  So my friends, ….I leave you with this….”Dead in a Ditch” is my little novel, and It’s inspired by criminals I’ve met, mayhem I’ve come entirely too close to, and an imagination that is and has always been one of my best friends.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT:  If I were a great sales person, here is where I’d dazzle you with enticing snippits of why you must absolutely read my book and why you’ll without a doubt LOVE my book, but I don’t pretend to know the reading “tastes” of every person who reads this, so I’ll just tell you why I liked writing my books and maybe this will be the reason you’ll enjoy reading them.  1) – I like books who have characters that grow from start to finish.  I like characters who are flawed but still lovable.  I like characters that make you laugh and have a good inner dialog, and I “as a reader” like to know what goes on inside the head of my main character.  “Vivienne” my books unlikely protagonist is about as likely to be a star of a book and I am to be the writer of said book!  So the long and short of it is, I really like Vivienne.  I would read books with her in them, because I’ve really enjoyed writing her and helping her grow as a character, and I think that journey is an entertaining progression to read about.


Dead In A Ditch is a seat gripping, page turning thrill ride that I could not put down. When I read the synopsis I was convinced this was a dark, dark story about a girl who is kidnapped and forced into prostitution and was ready to question myself for reading such a book. However once I got into the story I realized that it was so much more! The story does not read like a straight line from point A to point B, it skips back and forth within a two month span of time in the beginning. Not only does the reader get to have the main characters point of view but the story is rounded out by incorporating the perspective of other key people. This adds a great deal to the plot. The main character, Vivienne Taylor, is a strong, remarkable woman. She fights for her life and against all odds comes out a survivor. This book is a great read for anyone who likes suspense, plot twists and romance. It could defiantly use polishing from an editor but despite that I HIGHLY recommend giving this new author your time, you won’t regret it! – Bookaholic Mama.

A thriller with a funny side5.0 out of 5 stars

By Kelly Kristensenon February 18, 2013

The life of Vivienne Taylor is never the same after she’s abducted at a biker meet in rural Ohio. The spirited, young woman goes on a journey that will forever scar her and lead her closer to being “dead in a ditch”.

From start to finish, the story’s main character, Viv, is one the reader can connect with as well as love. It is within this character that Osting has instilled the element of humor not only as a means to establish the reader’s personal connection but also to add comic relief to the story when the story’s topics become intense. The intricate plot keeps the reader interested as well as on the edge of his/ her seat at times, and Osting’s use of both humor and suspense attract the reader’s curiosity to the very last page.

This book is a quick read with with comedic quips and thrilling episodes and is one that I would highly recommend to anyone.

You need to read this book! It has this former English teacher’s stamp of approval!

Don’t start it if you don’t have time to completely finish!!

BySuzi Killon January 1, 2013

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

I started this book on a day that I had to be to work at 1:00. That was a huge mistake! I didn’t want to stop reading to get ready, and all I could think about was reading it again on my lunch break. The story moves quickly and keeps you interested the whole way through. The writing was extremely descriptive, it was very easy to visualize every aspect of the story. You will be hooked until the end, and it will leave you excitedly waiting for the next book!

AUTHOR PROFILE:  Well folks, what can I tell you, I’m red-headed, good-natured and small-town. I love motorcycles, writing, photography, and reading a book so good it takes you to somewhere else in space and time entirely.

I’m a romantic that appreciates the proper use of a good curse word.

I’m a Paralegal by day, and a writer when my imagination takes over and holds me hostage until I write what it wants me to write.

While my writing borders on graphic or some might even say vulgar at times, I believe in stories that make me cringe one minute, and yet might make me smile the next. I don’t think I could write a book that didn’t have a little humor mixed in with the seriousness of a tale.

I’m addicted to good quotes, especially Albert Einstein ones…I collect Old books to a fault and I asked for “office supplies” for Christmas this year. nothing makes you want to write more than a new gel pen held between your fingers and a blank page of paper before you.

My favorite color is blue. I have two dogs that make me smile regularly. I play the guitar very poorly and am intent on learning to speak Italian, even if I have to beg my friend Alexandra from Rome to only speak to me IN Italian until I am forced to learn what in the heck she’s rambling on about in one of the worlds most beautiful languages.

Lastly, I cannot thank people enough for reading any of my novels; for giving me a chance to entertain them, even if only for a short time. Not everyone will fall in love with my stories, but I still appreciate the opportunity to tell them. It’s an honor and a privilege on my end to do so.


PRICE: $11.99 paperback, $2.99 Kindle.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Feel free to come visit me at my blog if you’d like to know more.

3. Convert This

Convert This 2PUBLISHED: 2015.

AUTHOR: D.W. Finton.

PUBLISHER: Tate Publishing.

SUMMARY: Would you prefer a dead child or a gay child? This is the question raised in this fictional tale of a famous actor who is traumatized by his experience in sexual reorientation camp as a teenager. He goes on in life to experience career success but suffers with his sexual identity thus impairing his relationships.

TITLE: The subtitle of the book is the quote above: “Would you prefer a dead child or a gay child?” I chose this title: For everyone who would never read the book, I wanted to leave passers- by, with a sample of the content, give people a nugget to think about.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ THIS? “This book is about a normal family faced with an issue that they are struggling to understand, trying to accept a lifestyle that doesn’t fit into their world and their values. It is an inspirational tale of the strength of the bonds of love, even when love is being challenged.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Based in New Orleans, D.W. Finton is the previous author of “Don’t Put Her Down: You Put Her There.” She frequently speaks to groups about the issues she examines.


Through a Mother ’s Eyes

The Northridge earthquake happened in January, and since then, it seemed as though the mood here in the San Fernando Valley was as low as the water and gas supply.

This party was a highly debated big deal. Everyone in our close group of associates decided that enough time of grieving had gone by. We needed a break from thinking about the destruction caused by that 6.7 tremor.

So maybe it was my female instinct that somehow sensed that this April night would change my life.

And as I’d thought, everything that we knew came to an end. Not due to some bad joke or tasteless comment, like I assumed would inevitably happen based on uncomfortable discussions that had broken out during previous parties thrown by our hosts, Gracie and Thornton Lane.. But because their son, Sean, apparently was experiencing an identity crisis.

The whispers about his bedroom antics had every parent leaning in a little bit closer at the dinner table trying to find out what their teenagers were up to. My husband and I weren’t in a position to judge. The Lanes’ troubles served as a juicy distraction from the nasty business we were tied up in concerning our famous daughter, Sylvia, and her much-publicized rape trial—the source of my husband Phillip’s drinking habit.

Gracie tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, “I have something important to talk to you about. Let’s go upstairs in private.”

Nearing the top of the stairway, we heard music blaring out from a doorway down the hall.

“I’m just going to tell Sean to turn that down,” she said, motioning me to follow her. When Gracie opened the door, I screamed, covering my mouth midway to muffle the tone.. Our boys hadn’t noticed that she and I just walked in on them giving each other oral sex.

Gracie gripped my arm and pulled me to back away from the door.

“This is what I suspected and wanted to talk to you about,” she said shakily and near tears. “Let’s let their fathers handle this.”

She shut the door quietly and rushed back down the hallway.

I’d seen enough in that doorway to know this hadn’t been their first time. Their pants were tangled around their ankles and hanging off of them. Her son’s genitals were exposed and half-cupped by my son’s hand protecting his testicles from bouncing while he gulped his penis in his mouth. I recognized my son’s, Daniel’s, fingers immediately: so short, thin and fair as snow. He swore to me before I left the house that he was too busy with homework to join us, not even to stop in to say hello. I fall for his cute deceptive smile every time.  I rushed down the hall and caught up to Gracie. The last thing I wanted was to allow her to go downstairs and make a scene.

“Remain as demure as possible,” I said behind her going down the stairway.

Trying not to stoke anyone’s interest, we discreetly returned to the party and rounded up our husbands. They followed us quickly as we traveled back up the steps, asking questions while we shushed them to remain quiet.
When we arrived at Sean’s door, Thornton sighed.

“What the hell is going on now?” he asked, exhausted at the constant chaos brewing around his only son.

“Open the door,” he commanded Gracie.

We all inhaled with a deep simultaneous breath in solidarity over our weariness for the conundrums that our children seem to get themselves into. Gracie slapped her hair out of her face and grabbed the door knob, forcefully flinging it open. The light from the hallway hit their eyes, and the two now naked
boys jumped up and scattered; one behind a table filled with computer parts, the other through the opened bathroom door. Daniel and I instantly stared into each other’s eyes. He began to sob, rendering me speechless, but not his father, who fumed.

“What on earth!” Phillip screamed. “Sean, what are you doing to my son, you filthy bastard? Come out of that bathroom and explain what you’re doing to my child!”

His father’s response caused Daniel to crouch down in shame and sob louder. I ran to him, grabbing his clothes off the floor first. I wanted to embrace him in my arms tight to soothe him after he hastily put his clothes back on. The Lanes stood silent.

I’m sure they were worried we would call the police, given that our son is a minor.

Seeing his father’s weeping eyes seeking clarity from someone in the room, Daniel ran arms stretched out to hug him saying, “I love you, Dad. I’m so ashamed, please forgive me, I can’t help this. I couldn’t control myself…”

With a heavy heart, I felt the need to break our silence. “You boys are so young. You don’t even know yourselves. Now get dressed, and know that we love you both.”

With that, Sean finally tiptoed out of the bathroom in his robe, swearing to us the whole time that, “It was consensual,” while his father told him to hush up.

The Lanes stood silent with disgusted scowls on their faces.

They kept their hands crossed and refused to show any inkling of empathy, too consumed in their own embarrassment over Sean’s behavior to acknowledge the boys’ humiliation. Once Daniel joined us, he and Sean hung their heads and
sobbed uncontrollably, seemingly destroyed about their feelings for each other. Phillip hugged them both. “You will get past this moment,” he promised, giving them the reassurance they seemed
to need.

The Lanes continued to stand there, breathless, yet cold, which was out of character for them. As former actors known to overact, they usually dramatically got hysterical and loud over the most mundane of things.

“Look, it’s getting late,” Phillip said glumly. “Your guests are probably wondering what’s going on, so let’s meet up at church tomorrow, all of us, and speak to the elders and talk about this. I don’t know how to handle this one.”

Daniel tearfully mumbled an apology to the Lanes, and they quietly led us out the back door of the kitchen to avoid attention. Heaven knows too many of these folks had nothing better to do with their time but gossip.

Sitting in the car on the ride home felt like being in a time vacuum going unbearably slow. Between Daniel’s inconsolable wailing and Phillip repeating, “I just don’t know what to say,” I wished I could catapult myself to another dimension. Truth be told, I was thinking the same thing as Phillip. I couldn’t find the words to make it all better, unlike so many times before. My only idea was to call my father when we got home. He always came through for us when we were stuck.

No sooner had Phillip pulled up into the driveway than Daniel shot out of the car like a flash of lightning. I couldn’t
help but wonder to myself why God picked the two of us to go through this experience.

“Neither of us deals well with high drama,” I whispered, still sitting in the car trying to make sense of what just happened.

Nor raw emotion,” Phillip added, completing and confirming my statement.

“By the way, Audrey,” he continued, leaning close to me, “you looked regal tonight. I love the soft, salt-and-pepper
natural look on you. Looks like a million bucks. I meant to tell you that before all hell broke loose,” he confessed.

I elbowed him. “May I remind you that the source of all the hell that broke loose is waiting for us beyond the front door,” I said somberly.

No doubt Daniel was in his room having a total nervous breakdown. Poor Daniel, the child born with bad nerves, so
emotional, always crying and throwing up whenever the pressure was on. It’s just our nature to distract ourselves with superficial nonsense about my one-of-a-kind, hand-stitched ball gown and my decision to not dye my gray.

“The silver is really becoming,” I said, trying to convince myself. “Gives me an air of knowing who I am and being comfortable with my age, don’t you think?”

“We know that’s a lie,” Phillip mocked, then straightened his shoulders. “We’d better address this before it gets too late, hon.”

As soon as we walked inside, I picked up the phone and dialed my father—a lawyer and soon-to-be head of the Hollywood Bar Association. I paced back and forth, waiting to hear his voice, yet fearing how to explain this latest bit of bad news. I hated to pile more kindling on the fire of gossip smoldering about our family—especially considering that he’s already in the middle of arguing for the ongoing child molestation case involving Sylvia.

My naive little angel was lured to some sleazy casting director’s house in Universal City, where he did God knows what to her. The poor thing came home with her clothes mostly torn off. We still haven’t put all the pieces of that puzzle together. She’s too ashamed or traumatized to give us all the details. We went on a retreat in the Verdugo Mountains, like her doctor suggested, but she still wouldn’t talk. Now this mess with Daniel and that perverted Lane boy. I hoped this didn’t push me over the edge and cause me to drink like Phillip.

When our baby girl came home dazed and confused, Phillip took to hiding whiskey bottles in the toilet tank, behind the china cabinet and any other place he could think to stash them. I don’t know why he thinks I’m not on to him, and I play along.

“Did he answer yet?” Phillip asked me as I mouthed “No” to him.

“This just had to happen at the Lanes’ house,” he said to himself, pacing back and forth in his home office. “I don’t know why we get pressured into going to these elitist, invitation-only snore fests. All they do is talk about life in their heyday when they were movie stars. Hell, they haven’t seen hide nor hair of their newly court-emancipated daughter and don’t have a clue where she is.”

Finally I heard my father’s distinguished voice. “Hi, darling, what’s happening now? Did you get Sylvia to talk?”

“Hi, Daddy,” I said, happy to hear his voice instead of listening to Phillip mumbling in the background. I hit the button to turn the speakerphone on. “No, but Phillip wants to say hi.”

“Hey, Willford,” Phillip boomed out. “I don’t know how these muckrakers sleep at night or justify the merciless way they keep throwing rocks at us through the pages of trash rags that print vile articles about how it’s our fault what happened to Sylvia.”

Knowing we were talking to his grandfather, Daniel ran into Sylvia’s room, as always, looking for comfort. It had been this way forever with him running straight into her arms instead of mine.

I walked behind him to my daughter’s room and plopped down on her bed with the phone in my hand.

“I agree with you there,” Dad said to Phillip. “Vultures, they are,”

Generations of audiences have grown up watching my father play the unconditional loving father that you bring all your problems to, which is true to who he is. Guess that’s why those roles came so natural to him and maybe the reason that he never got any credit for all the iconic parts he has played over the years.

In his day, my father, Willford Gaylord, was an established  character actor. Now he is the recognizable voice and face you’ve come to trust in commercials; the wise old man whose name you can’t quite remember.
Today, he is just my father and the family lawyer whose hearing is so bad that having a normal conversation with him is

I had to take deep gulps of breath to maintain the energy I needed to constantly repeat myself and yell out entire
sentences. Plus, I suffered through his constant interruptions as I painfully tried to explain what’s going on.

“Daniel did what? With who?” he asked, unsure.

“With the couple’s son whose daughter you helped emancipate,”

I clarified. “Their son, Sean, you know, he was kicked out of high school for eliciting sex in the bathroom. The Lanes’ son.”

WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon, anywhere books are sold.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: debwesfin@yahoo.com.