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.

Weather Report, Oct. 26


Meanwhile, the three books to be highlighted this coming week are all examples, in different ways, of niches we hope to help fill.



1. “FAIL,” BY RIRick againCK SKWIOT

By every definition of that status, Rick is a successful novelist. His first, “Death in Mexico,” was a Hemingway First Novel Award winner; the second, “Sleeping With Pancho Villa,” was a Willa Cather Fiction Prize finalist. And speaking of Hemingway, Skwiot now lives in Papa’s beloved  Key West, where he also works as a feature writer, book doctor and editor.  That multitude of hats is no doubt necessary, because, as Rick admits, “It’s not easy to sell fiction these days.”  Critical acclaim doesn’t always translate into sales. It probably doesn’t help that Rick has chosen a police/detective story road for his latest book, because that is among the most competitive of genres. But this isn’t just another cops book, as you’ll realize by reading the first chapter on Amazon. There is an underlying agenda here broader and far more important than the usual “Who Shot John? – the way in which failing schools in the inner cities (in this case , St. Louis) lie at the root of decay in those communities. In a way, what Rick has done is like diluting the taste of medicine with something more palatable, entertaining readers with a good story while a message slips in almost unnoticed through the back door. “Snowflakes in a Blizzard” is just a whisper of a voice at this point, but it’s a still place where a mainstream novelist like Rick Skwiot can tell even a few readers: “Hey, this is why my book is different, and why you’d want to read it.” For every reader is important, and we’re honored that Rick is willing to give this a try.


Another of the goals of “Snowflakes in a Blizzard” is to generate thought and conversation about controversial issues. You might see anything included on this blog, on virtually any subject. In this sense, D.W. Finton’s novel “Convert This” is a perfect fit. Finton gives us a family ripped open by evidence that a son might be gay, and what happens to the boy when he is sent to a camp that purports to “fix” him. Like the mirror Skwiot holds up to the St. Louis public schools, “Convert This” asks the very relevant question: “Why does homosexuality bother ‘straight’ people so much?” With, of course, the age-old corrolary: Is being gay a choice or a genetic imperative? As an aside, D.W. Finton is one of our more mysterious contributors, the first out of 70 to decline to submit a personal photograph (“I don’t like to have my image out there”). Thus, she recedes into the background, leaving only the story. It’s up to you what you make of it.


We try, as often as we can, to give a leg up to new writers. And in her author comments, you’ll see that Heather Osting glories in being a self-taught, out of nowhere novelist from small-town Ohio. “I’m not really a writer,” she explains. But she is, and the reason “Dead in a Ditch” clicks (besides the presence of rogue bikers and other hazards for main character Vivienne Taylor) is because Heather had the sense to lay out her tale in first person. Whether by learned skill or beginner’s luck, she makes that very human voice convincing and consistent, albeit not flashy or “literary.” It’s a great way of bringing readers into the world she created, rather than trying to sell them on someone else’s.