Looking Sideways – Meet the authors next door

Mark Luetke

November falls between two holidays dedicated to reading, writing and literature: National Book Month in October and Read a New Book Month in December. They come at a time when individual Americans are reading fewer books each year, but book sales are at the highest level in history. In short, more people are reading, but they are being more selective about the books they choose.

With that in mind, I’d like you to meet three Sylvania authors who have published their first books this year. All are fiction, but each is very different from the others. You may want to pick up a copy for yourself, or put one on your holiday gift list.

Beth White is a retired pediatric nurse specialist who used her work experience to create “Kit Wilson RN: First Year Nurse.” As the title implies, “Kit has only her schooling as a background, so the character is just hit blindside when she finds out what she learned in school is not exactly what happens in the real world,” Beth said. “Who can I trust to tell me what’s right? That’s the foundation of the conflict that gets reconciled by the end of the book.”

Beth has written two non-fiction books about nursing, but wanted to try her hand at fiction “to prove that I could do it.” The novel is a quick read: about 200 pages with short chapters that move along pretty quickly. She said she writes like she talks, “It’s not super-serious and not overly humble. There’s a pretty good deal of humor.” “Kit” was intended as a three-book series, and a new Kit book is coming out soon. It’s about the young nurse during the first six months of COVID, and (not to be a spoiler) it’s titled “Treading Water.”

A totally different heroine was created by author Sarah Charles in the time-travel romance “Beneath the Destiny Stone.” It’s about a Detroit bartender time-travelling back to Medieval Scotland where she accidentally starts an epic (historically correct) battle, is chased by soldier-assassins, and (oh, yes) falls in love. “I always was a huge reader, but never intended to write a book. I understood that the chance of getting published is really a roll of the dice,” Sarah said. “But I ended up having a really serious back injury and decided to use the lengthy recovery to write something to keep from going crazy.”

“The only writing I ever had done was a composition class in college, and it showed in my first draft. It was an interesting story, but told very badly. So, I found a local writer’s group, the Toledo Writers Workshop, which over several years helped me understand the rules … how to make an emotional impact,” she explained. When she found a publisher, she worked with two editors to refine her content and structure even more.

Sarah is working on a second book, but says the pace has slowed down. She is married now and has three kids and began teaching English and Global Communications at St. Ursula Academy, which provides less time for writing.

Real-life is the basis for the suspense-thriller “Anybody’s Daughter” by Charles Abood, a former prosecutor and longtime judge in Ohio’s Sixth District Court of Appeals. Set on a hijacked sailboat in Lake Erie, it focuses on a newlywed couple’s attempt to save two young girls from a human trafficking plot.


Judge Abood passed away last month, but his wife, Gail, recalls that her husband agonized over having to sentence prostitutes during his long career. “Often, it was the same cast of characters coming through the system repeatedly. Chuck felt these women were trapped, enslaved by their pimps. So, he kept increasing fines on the pimps—not the women—as a better course of action than putting the women behind bars,” she said.

“Those experiences gave Chuck the background to understand how pimps operated, a key element in ‘Anybody’s Daughter.’ He was very personally pleased that people have taken note of the book,” Gail said. “He really hoped that people would enjoy a good suspense story, but also take note of the trafficked women’s plight.”

As I was meeting our Sylvania-based authors, I learned that the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library specifically tries to include smaller circulation and self-published books in its criteria for selecting new books, according to Kristie Lanzotti, who leads its Collection Development Department.

“If we become aware of a book that relates to the local community, we would definitely buy it. And if a local author informs us of their book, we generally will acquire it, too,” she said. “We even have a form on our web- site that an author can print off. If they drop off the form and their book, we will generally put it in our collection. Sometimes, books acquired this way get attention and we will end up adding more.”

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