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Local book Roundup
A new crop of books by local authors will have readers giggling, reflecting, listening and maybe even changing their lives.

By NAN BIALEK

March 2015

"Peeve, My Parents’ Pet"

Author: Tom Ryan

Tom Ryan’s young son, Abe, couldn’t quite figure it out. He kept hearing about his parents’ "pet peeve." But this pet named Peeve was a puzzler. All Abe knew was that Peeve seemed to be following him around. Peeve must have had something to do with those chocolate fingerprints on the piano and the crumbs on the couch and the crayon drawings on the wall of his home in Glendale.

After telling Abe’s Peeve story to friends and co-workers at Miller-Coors, Ryan kept hearing, "Hey, that would be a great book." So he wrote it. Illustrator Kenny Durkin brought the story to life. Once he got started, Ryan says "it wasn’t hard to keep coming up with pet peeves."

Abe, 7, is getting a big kick out of the project, Ryan says, and truly enjoyed a book signing for "Peeve" at Janke Book Store in Wausau. So now Abe is counting up his very own pet peeves — could a sequel be far behind?

"People Are Dying To Be Heard: A guide to listening for a lifetime of communication"

Author: Ben Merens

With a media career spanning 30-plus years, many as a talk show host on Wisconsin Public Radio, Ben Merens has learned that you can have a profound effect on people by actively listening to their stories.

"We live our lives in moments…if you’re not paying attention to who’s in front of you and what they’re saying to you, you miss those moments and you don’t get them back," he says.

He makes a practice of listening to strangers, like the woman he met on a southbound plane.

When he asked her how long she’d be in Florida, she said, "Indefinitely." Merens, who had planned to work on his book during the flight, decided he could either write the book or live it. He packed his notebook away. He thought they’d talk for a few minutes. More than three hours later, he felt the plane descending.

"When we’re gone, most of our lives disappear with us," Merens says. "So, sharing our stories, I think, means a lot to people’s souls."

"The Fire Keepers"

Author: Sue Lawton

During her recent eight-month residency at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts in Brookfield, Bay View artist Sue Lawton conjured up a fairy tale.

The center’s surrounding wetlands and the Fox River Valley inspired her to write and illustrate the story of Nora, a little girl living in Brookfield during the 19th century. When Nora follows her cat into the woods, she discovers a world populated by strange talking animals, an orchestra, drummers and dancers. Nora’s task is to bring the fire for a magical gathering.

Lawton says she wanted to create a book she could read with her two children, and the center’s performing arts focus, combined with its lively landscape, sparked her imagination. With meticulously detailed illustrations, Lawton’s debut book is a visual treat to linger over, for both children and adults.

"The Fire Keepers" is the first book (other than catalogues) ever published by the Wilson Center.

"Your Living Compass"

Author: Scott Stoner

After logging more than 45,000 hours of work as a licensed marriage and family therapist and an Episcopal minister, Scott Stoner of Shorewood wants to help people keep their lives on course.

"I wanted to develop a program focused on prevention and wellness, helping people pay attention to the early warning signs of things getting out of balance," Stoner says. "This book helps people set their bearings long before they’re lost."

"Your Living Compass" is written as a self-guided retreat, focusing on what Stoner calls the "True North" core values of honesty, generosity, patience and love. The book guides the reader through 40 days of reflection and meditation, with self-assessments in eight areas of wellness.

"One of the mantras of the book is whatever we pay attention to is what will grow," says Stoner. "So if we pay attention to our families, our physical wellness and what we eat, we will grow. It’s as simple as that and as hard as that."

 

"Aftermath"

Author: Sandy Goldsworthy

The seed of the story that the Town of Delafield’s Sandy Goldsworthy would grow into her first young adult novel, "Aftermath," came to her in a vivid dream of a train derailment. In that dream, she saw two survivors pulling souls out of deceased passengers and "helping them up to heaven."

Though she had dabbled in writing, Goldsworthy was suddenly moved to write short stories inspired by her "strange, scary dream." The stories became the basis of "Aftermath," which is also categorized as a paranormal romance.

"The foundation of it is past lives, true loves and soul mates reconnecting," she says. The story is written from the viewpoints of its two main characters, a 17-year-old girl and a man who loved her in a past life and now has come back to earth to find her.

Goldsworthy has also published a novella, "Aftershock," which is the bridge between "Aftermath" and a second book that she is currently working on.

 


This story ran in the March 2015 issue of: