Kevin Vought Author of I’m Supposed to Make a Difference. His story.

I'm Supposed To Make A Difference Book CoverI grew up looking like a very average kid. I lived most of my young life in the suburbs of Rochester, New York. That’s over on the western side of the state along the shores of Lake Ontario for those who aren’t familiar with the state.

My household included my parents, a brother who was about two and a half years older than me, and, of course, me. We almost always had a pet. At least one cat, two for a while, and a dog for a short time.

My parents weren’t rich, but they weren’t poor, either. We never went hungry, but we often didn’t have as many frills as some of my friends. For most of my childhood, my parents shared one car. We all shared a single bathroom with one sink. I don’t think either of those things were all that unusual back then, but seem relatively rare today.

My brother, Bryan, and I spent hours playing basketball at our hoop in the driveway and easily as much time throwing the football around in the backyard. We were closer than most brothers I knew and spent a lot of time challenging each other to be better athletes or just hanging out listening to music and playing games.

On the surface, it all looked very idyllic. If you threw in a white picket fence and a fresh baked pie every night, we would have looked like a typical 1960’s sitcom family.

You know that saying “don’t judge a book by its cover?” Of course you do. It never fit a situation better than it did with my family. The simple smiles flashed to the outside world were nothing more than a front to hide hearts as black as coal. Monsters barren of souls who were masters of covering their tracks to avoid discovery.

You may be thinking those sentiments are too strong. My own wife, Jill, didn’t believe me at first when I began digging up old memories. “Parents don’t do those things to their children,” she would say. “I’ve met your parents, they’re very nice people,” she would mistakenly add. Finally, in 2007, Jill pleaded with my father via email to reach out to me and help me through digesting some terrible memories I was having about my paternal grandfather. He simply ignored the email. That was also a turning point in my relationship with him. After that point, as the years went on and my memories filled in more completely, my father began making up more and more ridiculous lies in an attempt to cover his tracks. Between the 2007 snub and his subsequent backtracking on so many things he had already said, Jill finally began to realize just how evil he really is.

What did my father do that was so egregious? Did he molest Bryan or me? Did he beat us? No. He feared my mother far too much to do those things. Through his actions, things he would say from time to time, and an email he sent me sometime around 2006, it became clear to me that he wanted to. He “abused” his significantly younger siblings when they were growing up. “It’s what I learned” he emailed me. I’m certain he never “unlearned” it. My mother made it extremely clear to him, though, that she would come at him with absolutely everything she had, legally or otherwise, if he so much as looked at Bryan or me again the way he did one day. On that day when I was only about five, he was clearly ramping up to do a lot more than just yell at Bryan and me. She clearly wore the pants in the family, though, and she very well controlled most of his actions and kept him in line to the best of her ability.

What could my father do that was so wrong and so damaging under the iron fist surveillance of my mother? It appears that my father knew my mother’s strength and convictions from the beginning of their relationship. As such, he never told her what kind of person his father was. My father went to great lengths to hide his upbringing from my mother. Not only did he hide what kind of person his father was, he demanded that we spend every Saturday out there with them along with most holidays. When I say we spent the day, we went out there immediately after eating an early breakfast and we stayed out there until midnight or later. My father would typically spend the day alone with his father talking in the back work room or garage. Mind you, my grandfather is a well known violent pedophile who would go as far as threatening to kill my dad and his six siblings whenever they got too out of line. The first red flag: my father enjoyed this violent pedophile’s company and time to an extreme level.

There was more to my father keeping his past secret than wanting to visit with this violent pedophile on a routine basis. When I was still quite young, my father convinced my mother that Bryan and I should be sent to his parent’s place for at least two weeks to “have fun out in the country.” Had she known what my grandfather was all about, she clearly would never have allowed the weekly family visits, let alone leaving Bryan and me alone with this nut job. I have little doubt my father was delivering us to his father so he could live vicariously through his father’s actions. I also have little doubt that he got an earful about what happened during the two weeks we were trapped there on his Saturday visits.

You’re probably wondering now what in the world happened while we were there. It’s not even what you’re likely thinking. To me, it’s a lot worse. In the summer of 1980, I was seven years old. I have had nightmares indicating that my grandfather may have molested me, but I’ve never reconnected to those memories if he had. What I do remember is a lot worse. He abducted an eleven year old girl while I was alone with him. My brother was out of the house all day with my grandmother running errands. I believe the girl lived relatively close by and was a friend of Bryan’s and mine.

He attacked her and forced me to stay in the room with them. As she screamed, the guilt of doing nothing overwhelmed me. I knew helping her would likely end in my death, but I refused to stand there and do nothing. When I awoke from being knocked unconscious, she was gone. I’ve never been able to confirm whether she survived the attack or not, but I think I’ve found her with the help of a private investigator – alive and well today. She won’t respond to my emails or outreaches on Facebook. Presumably she’s not in a place where she wants to pick at that scab.

You at least had your mother to run to, right? Not exactly. My mother always looked out for me in the big things, such as keeping me safe from my father and worrying about why I came home with my face completely swelled up when I was seven. In other matters, though, I was pretty much her verbal punching bag.

My mother almost desperately wanted a daughter. She was convinced I was going to be a daughter. From the moment I was born, she became suicidally depressed. She never was able to move past the disappointment and lambasted me for everything I did. Even when I’d get 100% on a test, she would point out how lazy and stupid I was for only getting 95% the week before. After all, she reasoned, this 100% clearly showed I was capable of being perfect all the time. Talk about setting the bar high!

I knew she would blame me for the little girl’s death if I told her about it, so I kept my mouth shut. That wasn’t easy to do because she wouldn’t stop examining my swollen face for days. She even took me to the doctor to have it examined to see if my father’s excuse that I had been exposed to poison ivy in smoke was realistic.

All this and a lot more is described in much better detail in I’m Supposed to Make a Difference: A Memoir About Overcoming Trauma and Abuse. The book includes excerpts from emails I’ve exchanged with my father, greater details of all the situations described here plus more, and discussions of how this affected my mental health. The discussions on mental health include sections about suicidal feelings I battled from 11th grade through to about 2019. It lays out how I managed to work through the suicidal depression and anxiety with the help of a wonderful psychologist (who wrote a great foreword for the book) and an extremely knowledgeable psychiatrist (who wrote a wonderful afterword for the book). I’m hopeful the book will serve as motivation for others fighting with similar childhood traumas.

You can find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09C3Z7XC5. Released on Tuesday September 7 in paperback and Kindle. The Audiobook version is being produced and will be available soon!

 

#BookReview @OlgaNM7 ‘To the Survivors’ by @robert_uttaro. . Helping Survivors of Sexual Abuse and What It Means

Hi all:

I’m back after my few weeks away and I hope to be contributing fairly regularly again. I am waiting on some interviews in translation and I’ve been reading a fair bit, so I hope to keep the reviews coming. But first, this book was submitted for review a while back and for a variety of reasons it took me some time to get around to reading it, but finally, it’s here.

To the Survivors: One Man's Journey as a Rape Crisis Counselor with True Stories of Sexual Violence by Robert Uttaro
To the Survivors: One Man’s Journey as a Rape Crisis Counselor with True Stories of Sexual Violence by Robert Uttaro

Title:   To the Survivors: One Man’s Journey as a Rape Crisis Counselor with True Stories of Sexual Violence
Author:   Robert Uttaro
ISBN:  149093166X

ISBN13: 978-1490931661
ASIN:  
Published:  October 23rd 2013
Pages:  268
Genre:  Non-fiction, social issues, sexual abuse

Thanks to the author and to Lit World Interviews for offering me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Robert Uttaro’s book is part memoir, part manual, part collection of testimonies, part panegyric, and part call to action.

It is undeniable that Mr Uttaro, a volunteer with an organisation that helps survivors of sexual assault, is dedicated, enthusiastic, well-informed and keen to spread the word and give a voice to those who have suffered this most horrible of attacks.

The book is a combination of the narration of how he became involved with the organisation (that is never directly named. I’m not clear if it is due to a wish for keeping the focus on the issue at hand rather than on one organisation in particular or due to confidentiality, or both), his training, the different roles he has partaken in throughout his years of work, and his attempts at collecting a number of testimonies of survivors.

By the nature of the material and the experiences of those who agreed to take part, there is some repetition of points (issues like blaming the victim, blocking memories, the devastating consequences of such abuse) that is totally understandable. The testimonies don’t seem to have been heavily edited, although interestingly enough sometimes we get different versions of the stories (and one of the survivors contributing to the book explains that part of the training of those survivors who agree to share their experience is advising them on how to bring the main points home and how to keep the attention of listeners) and more detailed explanations, not so much of the abuse (this is not a scarily graphic book or even one that could cause easy titillation and reproduce the abuse in hands of certain individuals), but of the feelings it engendered on the survivors.

Even with that, there are editorial decisions that could be questioned. Would a different ordering of materials be more effective? Would illustrating specific points with testimonies work better? Would it be best to give the voice directly to the survivors rather than have an intermediary? There are quite a few memoirs and direct accounts of survivors, is this book different enough? The combination of both, the experience of a volunteer who has not himself suffered abuse (or at least he is not aware of it, although he and others have questioned that possibility) and the testimonies of survivors, is perhaps the most distinctive aspect of the project. In a way, the book is personal for Mr Uttaro, and his level of involvement and emotional investment is clear. At the same time, the book is not personal enough, and I wasn’t sure I got to know Mr Uttaro other than through his involvement in the cause and some comments by the survivors (but these might have been minimised). As happens in documentaries, a decision is usually made of either including the person doing the documentary in the story, or letting events talk for themselves, trying to make narration invisible. I did not feel we fully get to understand Mr Uttaro’s journey or where he is coming from. He and the book have the heart in the right place and offer information and useful points, but I am not sure this is a book for general reading. It might benefit from adding links to organisations helping people who have suffered sexual abuse/assaults, including a section on general advice that could be used no matter the location, and perhaps, if the focus was going to be the methods and the ethos of the organisation (or others working on similar topics), adding a section about the history of the project, how it came about, and interviewing other people who are also part of the project: therapists, organisers, etc. I feel there might be the makings of several books here that could further deepen people’s understanding of the issues at hand, but perhaps that is a project for the future, and this book is a great start.

(I have not included the usual rating system as it didn’t seem appropriate to the book and it is not always relevant to non-fiction projects).

Buy it at: 
Format & Pricing:
Paperback:  $11.66 http://www.amazon.com/dp/149093166X/

Kindle: $ 1.54  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GENS6ZI/

 Thanks to the author for bringing us his book, thanks to all of you for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed it, like, share, comment and CLICK!

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://OlgaNM.wordpress.com

http://www.OlgaNM.com

A @COLLEENCHESEBRO INTERVIEW of @REBIRTHOFLISA ABOUT THE MISTREATMENT OF ZORA LANGSTON

Silver and Lisa

 

 

 

 

I would like to introduce you to Lisa W. Tetting, the author of her first novel, The Mistreatment of Zora Langston, which can be purchased on Amazon. I have had the pleasure of getting to know Lisa for at least the last six months, as our paths seemed to cross often in the WordPress blog world. I have read many of her poems, insightful blog posts, and reviewed her debut novel, The Mistreatment of Zora Langston, which you can find here.

Mistreatment of Zora Langston

I was deeply moved by the main character in Lisa’s book, Zora Langston. Through Lisa’s writing, Zora tells her story with all the wisdom a nine-year-old girl could share.  The reader lives through her, and experiences what the child goes through on a daily basis.  I was visually shaken after the confrontation with Zora’s, mother’s boyfriend.

There is sexual abuse and violence portrayed in the book.  However, Lisa portrays this abuse realistically through the words of young Zora. This young child handles her circumstances with the grace and dignity of a true survivor.  I was drawn into Zora’s world.  I felt her pain and neglect, and her joy and sorrow.  All I wanted to do, was grab this child, hug her, and never let her go!

Interviewing Lisa about her book

 

 

I enjoyed this book immensely and wanted to find out more about Lisa and her inspiration for Zora Langston.  Here is what Lisa had to say:

Colleen: Lisa, please tell me something about yourself, so your readers can get to know you better. Where do you currently live?

Lisa: I am the youngest of seven children. I grew up in Eastern North Carolina and love being from the South. An introvert at heart, I am working on being more social. It was my dream to be a writer and after 45 years of living, I finally decided to stop being scared and do something I wanted to do. I currently live in Tampa, FL with the love of my life, my husband.

Colleen: Are you a full time writer?

Lisa: Yes, I write full time. I currently author my blog, Rebirth of Lisa, as well as freelance as a guest blogger on another site called, Thoughtful Minds United. I am currently writing another novel and a self-help book with tentative release dates slated for later this year.

Colleen: Lisa, what inspired you to write your first book?

Lisa: I have wanted to write since I was a child, but never felt confident that I could actually do it. I finally decided I would try my hand at living my dream.

Colleen: What is the message you want your readers to get from The Mistreatment of Zora Langston?

Lisa:  I want readers to know they can survive anything, as long as they have faith, and believe in themselves. They don’t have to end up doing the wrong things in life because something bad happened to them.

Colleen: Lisa, who is your favorite author, and explain what inspires you about their work?

Lisa: My favorite author is hard to pin down because there are a few that have influenced me, but if I must choose only one, I will say Maya Angelou. She was so uplifting and positive. She was not the classic beauty, but she was elegant and smart, and she made words sing. Maya Angelou was an amazing woman who was very open-minded, and in my opinion, the best writer to live during my lifetime.

Colleen: What was the hardest part about writing your book?

The most difficult part of writing my book was writing the sexual abuse scenes. I was never abused myself, but had to put myself in Zora’s place to see what it was like. It was emotional to say the least.

Lisa, thank you so much for spending some time with us all and letting us get to know you, and your inspiration for “The Mistreatment of Zora Langston.”

In addition, you can find Lisa on:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13650235.Lisa_W_Tetting

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rebirthoflisa

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rebirthoflisa/

Instagram: https://instagram.com/rebirthoflisa/

Email: rebirthoflisa@aol.com

Colleen_Silver_Threading

 

 

 

 

@ColleenChesebro

SilverThreading.com

 

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A @COLLEENCHESEBRO #BOOK #REVIEW “THE MISTREATMENT OF ZORA LANGSTON” by @REBIRTHOFLISA

Mistreatment of Zora Langston

Title:  The Mistreatment of Zora Langston

Author:  Lisa W. Tetting

Website: https://rebirthoflisa.wordpress.com/

ASIN:  B00URD7AKI

ISBN 13: 9780996142908

Published:  1 edition (March 15, 2015)

Pages:  163 pages

Genre:  Young Adult, Drama, Black Fiction, Coming of Age,

*A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review, which follows.

At the tender age of nine years old, Zora Langston loses the most important person in her life, her father.  This one event, sets off a chain of events that is mind-boggling.  Zora is left with a mother who despises her, a sister who hates her, and a brother who does not even acknowledge her presence.  The death of Zora’s father is further exacerbated when her mother’s boyfriend moves in and takes his place as the head of the household.

Zora struggles to cope with the harsh treatment she receives, as the youngest child in the family.  Naïve as she is, Zora is forced to cope with adult situations that propel her into a new path in her life.  Through all of this, Zora remembers the love and the many lessons from her father, while relying on her faith to help her survive.

Eventually Zora finds the love and understanding she deserves from her Aunt and Uncle, who embrace her into their family.  Haunted by her past, Zora is forced to face old abusers, and new abusers.  Nevertheless, life goes on, and through love and trust Zora is lead to the truth of what it means to be part of a family.

Zora Langston tells this story with all the wisdom a nine-year-old girl can share.  The reader lives through her, and experiences what the child goes through on a daily basis.  I was visually shaken after the confrontation with her mother’s boyfriend.  Zora handles her circumstances with the grace and dignity of a true survivor.  I was drawn into Zora’s world.  I felt her pain and neglect, and her joy and sorrow.  All I wanted to do, was grab this child, hug her, and never let her go!

Lisa Tetting

Author, Lisa Tetting

There is sexual abuse and violence portrayed in the book.  However, it is my opinion that the author portrays this abuse realistically through the words of young Zora.  This is Lisa Tetting’s debut novel, and I believe she achieves her goal of showing how prevalent this type of abuse is in our society.

I was moved beyond words at the treatment Zora endured.  However, I found Zora’s courage and motivation to move forward and heal from her wounds, the most important message in the story.  If you love family drama, young adult literature, and stories that give you hope about life, look no further.  Zora Langston will fill your heart.

RATINGS
Realistic Characterization: 5/5
Made Me Think: 5/5
Overall enjoyment: 5/5
Readability: 4/5
Recommended: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.5

Buy it at: Amazon
Format & Pricing:
Create Space – Paperback: $10.95 US
Kindle: $3.99 US

Goodreads

 

 Colleen_Silver_Threading

 

 

 

 

@ColleenChesebro

www.SilverThreading.com