Welcome to Uplifting Reads! Today author E.S. Reute is sharing about his own writing history before introducing us to his latest book, Off Season. You can also check out an excerpt from the novel and enter a giveaway. Please leave him any comments or questions you may have. Be sure to visit the rest of the tour for even more fun guest posts, interviews, and excerpts.
Please note that affiliate links are present within this post. Should you make a purchase through one, I may earn a small commission to help me support my websites, at no additional cost to you.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing most of my life. I was 12 or 13 when I wrote a parody of Poe’s “The Raven” called “The Seagull.” In Eighth grade I wrote an Italian sonnet just to prove it could be done in English. Of course it wasn’t very good and it wasn’t a love sonnet, but it fit the meter and the rhyme scheme. Then in ninth grade I had a poem published in the school paper. It was about the gym teacher’s infamous paddle, Big Sam, and was a parody of Jimmy Dean’s “Big John.”
In High School I was a very prolific poet. I had about twice as many pieces as anyone else number after number. The editor of the magazine started to refer to me as “The Bard of Cedar Cliff.” Some of my favorites were my cinquan, a French verse form of five lines of 2, 4, 6, 8, and 2 syllables.
I majored in writing at Penn State. I did great in technical writing, led my class in journalism, and wrote some of my best work in biographical writing. I even did okay in poetry. But the only class where I did worse than my two fiction courses was playwriting.
Almost every job I had in 40 years of varied careers involved some sort of technical writing. As a submarine officer, I was on the boat that was often the first to get new equipment and I had to write operating instructions for it. I have written procedures, policies, statements of work, proposals, requests for proposals, and test analyses as I progressed through careers as a technical editor, technical writer, defense analyst, government contracting officer’s technical representative, business analyst, and methodologist. I have always prided myself in being able to transcend the mundane and tell a story in my test analyses and statements of work, and yet when required write procedures that are unenduringly boring to read but have clarity of structure and content that make them extremely easy to use.
In 1991 I wrote my first book, The Strategic Information Resource Management Planning (SIRMP) Facilitator’s Handbook in support of the U.S. Coast Guard. I became a prolific blogger on meeting facilitation (except in those days there were no blogs, the forum was an email list server). I was also a frequent contributor to The Facilitator new letter, Group Facilitation journal, and other publications and presented papers at software, business process, and facilitation conferences on two continents. I wrote by two general-interest non-fiction books, Seeking God and Lead Your Groups to Success. But I still avoided fiction.
I finally got over it by listening to Anne Lamott who, in Bird by Bird talks about letting the character tell the story. This was reinforced by Erica Jong who, in Any Woman’s Blues has her alter ego, Isadora Wing, the purported author of the book, argue in the margins with her character about where the character is taking the story. I actually got to ask Jong about that at a book signing. So when I finally decided that I was going to stop avoiding fiction, that I was going to write from 4:00 to 5:00 every afternoon, I just started listening to what my characters had to say. Something poured out of my pen every day, and in eight weeks I had Off Season.
Since then, the problem has been trying to find a story as compelling as the story Dottie told, one that will get me back to the writing desk every day.
Off Season: A Novel of Healing
Dottie woke up wondering where she was and why she was so cold. The first thing she noticed was that she must be outside – she was lying on cold ground and snow was hitting her in unusual places. That’s when she noticed the second thing. Her skirt was pulled up past her waist and her panties were gone. Damn those bastards. It started to come back to her.
Dottie is now on an odyssey; a journey not of her choosing; a journey of healing, integration, and reconciliation that will involve her partner, her friends, her enemies, her church, her whole community. And her rapists. As she fights her way through social stereotypes about rape and rape victims, she also finds the strength to overcome society’s messages of who she should be and lays claim her true self. But the memories, the loss, the anger – and the fears – never go away. No woman chooses to be raped. I asked Dottie why she chose to tell me a story of rape. She said that millions of women, hundreds every day, have stories of rape that never get told. She told her story because she could. Because she had to. Because maybe people would hear in a work of fiction a Truth that they could not hear in any other way.
Read an excerpt:
“Look to your left. That person has divinity inside them. Look to your right. That person has a divine spark. Now tap the shoulder of the person in in front of you. When they turn around, say, ‘Namasté. I honor the divine spark within you.’
“As you prepare to celebrate Christmas, as we prepare to invite one another to the communion table, think on this: Mary was an unwed mother, but she was not unclean. Joseph was a lecherous old man, but he was not unclean. The shepherds lived in the fields with the sheep, but they were not unclean. The Magi were heathens from a pagan land and probably not circumcised, but they were not unclean. And Jesus was born among the donkey dung and slept on top of a cow’s supper, but He most assuredly was not unclean.
“Let it be so.”
As Pastor Allen spoke, Mandy sat with her arms folded across her chest and her legs pressed together. When others were looking left and right, she didn’t move, and when she was tapped on the shoulder, she didn’t turn around. She just pursed her lips into a tighter line.
But those who sat near her thought they saw the least glimmer of a tear in the corner of her eye. Whether it was for her church, or for the Pastor, or for herself, no one could guess. Even Mandy didn’t know. But part of her, a part she was afraid of, a part she was trying to ignore, thought that maybe, just maybe, it was for Dottie.
About E.S. RueteE.S “Ned” Ruete is an author, speaker, group facilitator, women’s rights activist, LGBTQIPA+ ally, lay preacher, guitar picker, and business analyst. He is the author of Seeking God: Finding God’s both/and in an either/or world and Lead Your Group to Success: A Meeting Leader’s Primer.
Now retired, Ned lives in Niantic, Connecticut with his second wife. He continues to offer pro bono group facilitation and facilitation training to schools, churches, community groups and not-for-profit organizations. He has led strategic planning retreats for United Action Connecticut (UACT), Fiddleheads Food Co-op, and ReNew London. He is actively involved in LGBTQIPA+ advocacy and annually attends and presents sessions at the True Colors Conference. He is a member of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) formerly served on the Association Coordinating Team (ACT, the IAF Board of Directors). He was associate editor of Group Facilitation: A Research and Applications Journal and has contributed articles to Group Facilitation, The Facilitator, and other publications on group facilitation and management consulting.
Off Season is Mr. Ruete’s first fiction work
See his consulting products at MakingSpaceConsulting.com
and his books at MakingSpaceConsulting.com/Publish:
One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card. Follow the tour for more chances to win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway