Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Off Season: A Novel of Healing VBT

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.

“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.

Who is your favorite author and why?
It’s probably a tie between Erica Jong and Joseph Campbell. I own nearly everything they each wrote, with the exception of Campbell’s multi-volume encyclopedia of mythology. I think that each of them, in their whole canon of work, measures the breadth and plumbs the depth of human experience. The fact that they come at it from opposite directions I think gives me a great balance.

And really those two directions are not all that different. The main thing that I learned from Campbell is that mythology is about truth that has absolutely nothing to do with reality, that comes before and even shapes reality. In today’s society, we are stuck with the choice of believing our foundational teachings to be about history or rejecting them as false, thereby throwing out the wisdom of at least 20,000 years of human experience.

Fiction is the replacement today for mythology. We can learn from fiction without expecting it to be accurate history. We can learn from a work of fiction a Truth that we cannot learn any other way. Think about the Rolling Stone story about the group rape at the University of Virginia. That story was absolutely true but ended up being discounted because it was not factual. I think that’s why I chose to try my hand at fiction. Fiction such as Off Season is not expected to be factual, but the reader can discern it’s truth.

Campbell comes right out and says, in The Masks of God volume IV, Creative Mythology, that all the purposes of mythology – the creation story, the hero’s journey, and so on – are fulfilled by the best literary artists of the past several centuries, by fiction. I’m talking about fiction such as Jong’s that explores life fully and deeply, not about beach reads. I read one highly-rated beach book where one of the characters is given 1 1/2 pages out of 400 to deal with her divorce, and she spends 1 1/4 of them relating the curious circumstances of  discovering her husband having an affair in their son’s bed. That isn’t deep truth, that’s just titillation. Jong does her fair share of titillation, but it’s in service of a deep examination of our need for titillation.

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Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the tour.

Author Bio and Links:
E.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 and his books at (The book is $0.99 during the tour).

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  1. Thank you for hosting my tour. It's good to be here. And you chose one of my favorite guest posts!

  2. Thank you for staying in touch.

  3. Another powerful excerpt!


  4. I enjoyed getting to know your book; congrats on the tour, I hope it is a fun one for you, and thanks for the chance to win :)

  5. This sounds like a book I'd really enjoy reading, thank you for sharing!