Xavier Magazine

Behind the Book

I thought I was living a healthy lifestyle. I ate healthfully, exercised regularly, took vitamins and supplements, and had regular checkups.

On July 18, 2008, my husband, Joe, and I drove to Zanesville, Ohio, for my nephew’s wedding. I had some abdominal distress and had not eaten much for a couple of days. During that weekend, the pain got worse and I could not eat anything.

The pain grew more and more severe. I went online, as we often do, to get our first diagnosis. With my symptoms, the possibilities included irritable bowel syndrome or ovarian cancer. I immediately made appointments with my gynecologist and a gastroenterologist. Each said everything appears normal but scheduled some tests. Before I was able to receive the results, though, I was in the emergency room with severe abdominal pain. After a CAT scan, I received the numbing diagnosis—Stage 3 ovarian cancer. My father died of lung cancer and my mother of breast cancer. Uncles, aunts and cousins had died of cancer. I did not personally know anyone who had survived the dreaded disease. Fear seized my being, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

During the surgery, the doctor performed a complete hysterectomy, removal of the omentum, spleen and 12 inches of colon. He removed one lymph node from the site, and it had no cancer. I was scheduled for six rounds of chemotherapy. The statistics the doctor quoted on ovarian cancer survival, however, did not offer much hope. My fears grew exponentially—fear of losing my hair, the side effects of chemotherapy, and, of course, dying. John Wayne once said, “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.” So, I saddled up.

The Chaos of Fear

I was immobilized by fear, and I had to figure out a way to deal with it. In my search, I began to embrace integrative therapies—massage, yoga, journaling, reflexology, acupuncture, chiropractic, macrobiotic diet, counseling, and visual imagery. Joe regularly asked me to close my eyes and see myself healthy and playing tennis. My cousin, Terri Carpenter, gave me several stones with words on them that I used them to meditated and calm my nerves. The one that resonated most with me was “courage.”

I also did spiritual counseling with a doctor who asked me to go back and recall the first fear in my memory. I told her it was a recurring nightmare I used to have when I was about 4 years old. It was about a monster who tried to take away my beloved rocking chair. I used to awaken and feel as if I were unable to breathe. I would cry for my mother, who would come to my room and comfort me. She would try to divert my attention by reading a story or playing a card game. The doctor, who knew my teaching background, later challenged me to write a children’s book about fear. Since I always planned to write a children’s book, I looked at the challenge as an opportunity to fulfill a long-held dream.

As I thought about my childhood nightmare, I decided it would be the conflict in the story and the main character would be a bunny. Then the idea of the “fear monster” came to me while I was having acupuncture. I went home, sat on my patio and the story almost wrote itself. The writing process itself was very therapeutic, and it seemed to help me work through my own fear. As I strove to strengthen my body physically, the meditation and the writing were healing my soul. I was able to write myself out of the chaos of fear.

Collaboration is Synergistic

When writing a children’s picture book, the illustrations are of utmost importance. Eighty percent of young children are visual learners. Therefore, the illustrations must be visually attractive and must carry the message of the text.

I am the luckiest author in the world to have my debut book illustrated by my friend, Mary Ann Bucci. Mary Ann sent me a card while I was sick, thanking me for providing a valuable kindergarten experience for her children. When I began to think about the illustrations for my book, I immediately telephoned Mary Ann. I told her the story and explained what I had in mind about the illustrations. She emailed some sample illustrations that absolutely captured the images I had in my mind! Our collaboration was synergistic. Her paintings are powerful—providing just enough drama for the young reader, showing only the hands of the monster. The pastels create the quiet feeling of Bailey being safe, warm and loved. She so elegantly creates the shadow of the tree at the end of the story. It is subtle and requires the reader to discover the essence of the story. Many times our fears are merely shadows.

Picking a Publisher

After doing a lot of research about book publishing, I decided to take a self-publishing route. Finding an established publisher can be difficult, and I did not want to wait several months, perhaps receive a rejection and have to start the process all over again. I didn’t have time or energy to waste. So I began looking int self-publishing companies. Many companies do well with black and white pages, but I wanted color illustrations, and that takes special layout and design people, as well as printers with that capability. I definitely had the “Goldilocks Syndrome,” wanting everything to be “just right.”

One day, I picked up our local weekly paper and read a story about a person who had self-published a children’s book. I found out a second person who lived close by who used the same company. She was having a signing at a bookstore about five miles away, so I drove there, looked at the book and found it to be “just right.” I went home and made the phone call. That was in October; by Dec. 24 I had my first order of books.

Celebration of Life

I have presented the story to many children as well as adults. With adults, I share a list of symptoms of ovarian cancer. Several adults have given the book as a gift to a friend with cancer and others have given it as a gift for a baby shower. Bailey Bunny has a message for everyone.

I seem to be healthy, and I have returned to daily exercise and nutritious eating. Even as I remain aware of the statistics, I cannot let uncertainty rob me of my joy. I live each day with gratitude and an increased clarity of purpose. I have always loved life, and since my brush with death, I savor each day with an even greater passion. Whether presenting my book in a classroom, having a lovely dinner with my husband, attending a family gathering or enjoying a walk in the park with friends, I am grateful that “when life gave me lemons, I was able to make lemonade.”

Sharing my book is a part of my celebration of life. Mark Twain once said that “Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the resistance to fear; the management of fear.” My hope is that my story will help people, children and adults, to find that courage within, to manage their “fear monsters,” whatever they may be.

Xavier Magazine

A Hare-Raising Tale

Even after undergoing a complete hysterectomy, the removal of a lymph node and six rounds of chemo, Karen Goff Dyser still has to face a frightening statistic: The five-year survival rates for her Stage 3 ovarian cancer are just 27 percent.

“They tell you when you have cancer that you’re not out of the woods until you can say you’ve survived for five years,” she says. Which is why, when her operations and chemo were over, she knew she didn’t have any time to waste.

It started as stomach pain. She felt full when she’d hardly eaten anything for days. She went to the doctor and a CT scan revealed the cancer. “I was blindsided,” she says. “It’ s very numbing when a doctor comes in and says, ‘Mrs. Dyser, you have cancer.’ It’s the words you never want to hear.” Everyone she knew who had cancer—her mother had breast cancer and her father had lung cancer—all died. When the shock of the news wore off, the fear crept in. “I was just fearful, first, that I may not survive,” Dyser says.

Dyser, a 1982 MEd graduate and longtime kindergarten teacher, began seeing a counselor who asked her to remember her earliest fear. Dyser recalled a recurring nightmare she had as a 4-year-old, in which a monster tried to steal her beloved rocking chair. She would awaken in panic, crying out for her mother. The counselor suggested Dyser write a children’s book about fear.

Eventually, she hunkered down on her patio and scribbled out a first draft in one sitting. “It became very therapeutic for me,” Dyser says. “As I wrote this story, I was writing myself out of the chaos and fear.” After a few edits, she had her story: Bailey Bunny and the Fear Monster, about a baby rabbit who has nightmares of a monster stealing his rocking chair. His mother comforts him, making him feel “safe and warm and loved,” the book’s recurring line. Finally she gives little Bailey a Courage Stone to put under his pillow to remind him that he has the power to face whatever scares him. The book is illustrated by Mary Ann Bucci, a Zanesville, Ohio, artist whose daughters Dyser taught in kindergarten.

Dyser enjoys going to schools and reading her book to children, which she has done in several states. She dresses up like Mama Bunny in her book: in fuzzy slippers, a pink nightgown and a white apron. The story opens up a chance for kids to talk about their own fears and how they handle them.

For now, Dyser’s doctors tell her she’s in the clear. “We’re just hoping for the best,” she says. “I walk every day. I do weight work. I eat well.” Although she’s taken some time off, she says it won’t be long before she’s “back on the bunny trail.”

Xavier Magazine

Bookmarks: Books by Xavier Alumni

Somewhere among the core curriculum classes, midterm papers, lab reports and final essays, Xavier alums learned how to write. And at least some take that knowledge and apply it to the world of books. The following are some of the samples of recent books published by Xavier alumni:

Connecting Across Cultures: Global Education in Grades K-8

By Bob Herring and Mary Ann Buchino

Bob Herring earned his bachelor’s degree at Xavier in 1973 and also a Master of Education. He has been the principal of Nativity School in Cincinnati since 1984 and is the recipient of numerous educational awards. Mary Ann Buchino is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati, where she earned her master’s in school psychology and a doctorate in special education. She’s taught at Nativity School for the past 23 years. In Connecting Across Cultures, Herring and Buchino provide educators with proven and practical ways to modify their curriculum to prepare students for the globalized world. Connecting Across Cultures changes what happens in the classroom so students can increase their understanding and challenge attitudes and assumptions they have about other cultures, nations and traditions. Connecting Across Cultures can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Walmart.


King of Clubs: The Great Golf Marathon of 1938

By Jim Ducibella

Jim Ducibella, a 1974 graduate with a bachelor’s in communication arts, has worked as a sports writer for the Virginian-Pilot and was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in April 2010. He currently works as a web writer for the College of William & Mary and is a regular contributor to various magazines including The Virginian Golfer, Pro Football Weekly and Sports Illustrated. His book, King of Clubs, follows the true story of a challenge between J. Smith Ferebee and Fred Tuerk, two Chicago stockbrokers during the Depression. The challenge: Ferebee has to play 600 holes of golf in eight cities, from Los Angeles to New York, in four days. If he succeeds, then Tuerk will pay the $30,000 mortgage on Ferebee’s 296 acres of waterfront Virginia land. The challenge caught the attention of brokers and gamblers alike, and the bets accumulated to an estimated $100,000, or well over $1 million in today’s dollars. Ferebee faced many obstacles, including playing with a knee injury and a gambler’s sabotage attempt, during the golf challenge. Ducibella keeps readers enthralled from the opening drive to the final hole in this entertaining book. King of Clubs can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Potomac Books.

How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack

By Chuck Sambuchino

Chuck Sambuchino is a 2003 graduate who is now an editor at F&W Media in Cincinnati. His initial venture into the publishing world (at least outside of what he does for his day job) is How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack, a humor book on tiny, annoying, ceramic figurines that people place in their gardens. He bills it as “the only comprehensive survival guide that will help you prevent, prepare for, and ward off an imminent home invasion by the common garden gnome.”

It’s published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House. Check out the book’s website, its catalog entry and an article on



Reclaiming Catholicism: Treasures Old and New

By Mike Daley and Thomas Gromme

Michael J. Daley graduated from Xavier in 1991 with a degree in theology and now teaches religion at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati as well as serving as an adjunct professor of theology at the University. He teamed with Thomas Groome, a senior professor of theology at Boston College who also serves as the chair if its Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry, to edit Reclaiming Catholicism: Treasures Old and New, a compilation of essays from “a who’s who of theologians and spiritual writers” who assess whether reclaiming spiritual wisdom from the pre-Vatican II days can enrich the faith loves of Catholics today.

Among those writing for the book is Bill Madges, former chair of Xavier’s Department of Theology. Madges and Daley previously worked together on the books Vatican II: Forty Personal Stories and The Many Marks of the Church. Daley’s a veteran of publishing, also writing In All Things: Everyday Prayers of Jesuit High School Students; Catholic Questions, Wise Answer; Catholic Symbols: Our Rich Spiritual Heritage; and Who Do Catholics…? Teens Respond to Questions About the Faith.

Check out the review in the National Catholic Reporter. The book can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the Maryknoll Society and



Shouting Down the Silence: A Biography of Stanley Elkin

By David Dougherty

For 40 years, David Dougherty taught English at Loyola University Maryland before retiring this year as professor emeritus. During that time he no doubt introduced countless students to the critically acclaimed but popularly unpopular author Stanley Elkin. Now, he’s introducing the rest of us to Elkin through Shouting Down the Silence: A Biography of Stanley Elkin. The book is the first complete biography of Elkin who died in 1995.

“Although materially and professionally successful by middle-class measures, even by standards for university faculty, Elkin felt that he never received the recognition and awards his art deserved,” writes Dougherty. “From the 1970s forward, he often expressed regret about, and occasionally even resentment of, his lack of popularity with general readers.”

Dougherty, who earned his master’s degree from Xavier in 1966, also edited two casebooks on Elkin’s novels.

Shouting Down the Silence can be found at Amazon and through the University of Illinois Press.



A Calendar Year of Horticultural Therapy: How Tending Your Garden Can Tend to Your Soul

By Janice Hoetker Doherty


So Many Hugs

By Deanna Hurtubise

Rarely does one find sisters who are both authors. Even rarer are sisters who both produce books by the same publisher at the same time. But such is the case with Janice Hoetker Doherty and Deanna Hurtubise. The Edgecliff College graduates—Janice in biology in 1962 and Deanna in French in 1966—recently published books through Lilyflower Publishing.

Janice retired as a microbiologist from Cincinnati’s Christ Hospital and headed straight for the garden, where she became an Ohio Master Gardener and found the health-related benefits so strong she started her own company, Growing Healthy Inc. She’s now put that knowledge to paper with A Calendar Year of Horticultural Therapy: How Tending Your Garden Can Tend to Your Soul, which offers more than 60 projects that can be used as hands-on therapy sessions.

Deanna is a former high school psychology and French teacher who began writing stories, songs and poetry for her three children when they were young. Today she writes for her eight grandchildren, hoping to capture their innocent and uncomplicated views of the world through verse with So Many Hugs, a children’s book in rhyming verse that shows the power of a simple hug.

Brief biographies of the sisters are on the Lilyflower Publishing website where copies of the books can be purchased.

Janice’s book can be found at Amazon and Deanna’s book can also be found on Amazon

Women Are Defective Males

By Gail Holtmeier (writing as Grace Walker)

When Gail Holtmeier was earning her master’s degree in theology in the early 2000s, she began compiling a notebook stuffed with religious documents and historical information about how women have been and are currently treated in the Catholic Church. Those graduate notes became the springboard for Holtmeier’s saucy book, Women Are Defective Males: The Calculated Denigration of Women by the Catholic Church and Its Disastrous Consequences Today. Writing under the pseudonym Grace Walker, Holtmeier relentlessly tackles issues such as the lack of female leadership in the Church as well as sexual abuse topics—Holtmeier herself was recently a presenter at the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests in Washington, D.C. Starting with Mary Magdalene, she tracks what she calls a conspiracy and an “an organized protocol” to push down women. The title of the book is a riff off a quote attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas, and the tone of the text contains similarly challenging thoughts.

The book is available at Amazon or at


Pat Nixon: Embattled First Lady

By Mary C. Brennan

Mary Brennan (’82 BA, ’83 MA) is a former history instructor at Xavier who now teaches at Texas State University. In Pat Nixon, she tackles the life of a first lady whom many admired, but few—it seems—really knew. Touted as the first bio of Thelma Ryan Nixon to draw upon her private papers, Pat Nixon breaks the mold of “Plastic Pat” to profile her activism (she was the first presidential spouse to serve as an official government representative to foreign nations, as well as the first to visit a military combat zone). While stereotyped as a compliant housewife, Nixon actually worked outside the home for most of her life (as pharmacy manager, hospital X-ray technician and as an “extra” in the 1930s film industry), all this while raising two daughters. Nixon weathered Watergate and bridged two epochs: The era of the homemaker and the rise of the feminists. A quiet ERA supporter, Pat famously lobbied husband Richard to appoint a female Supreme Court justice, then gave him the silent treatment when he failed to do so.

Check out the book’s catalog entry,, as well as Amazon.

Virginia Bakery Remembered

By Thom Thie and Cynthia Beischel

Cynthia Beischel (’74 MED) has always been a loyal patron of the Virginia Bakery, a Cincinnati institution. So little wonder Beischel is now truffling with our affections (or is it confections?), spooning up a cookbook laden with vintage press clippings and tastefully stocked with memorable recipes. The Virginia Bakery, a legendary culinary stop located mere blocks from the Xavier campus on nearby Ludlow Avenue in Clifton, first opened in 1927. Four generations of the Thie family have since presided over the outlet’s savory ovens, producing delectable apple ravioli and to-die-for butterscotch gems. Sadly, the landmark closed its doors in 2005, but this memorable memory book is chock-full of recipes you can recreate in your own kitchen.

The book is available at Target or


Thea’s Song: The Life of Thea Bowman

By Charlene Smith and John Feister

Writer John Feister (’83 MA), a director of periodicals at St. Anthony Messenger Press in Cincinnati, has joined with Franciscan Sister Charlene Smith to paint a portrait of Thea Bowman, the inspirational African-American nun who grew up in racially charged Mississippi, converted to Catholicism at age 10 and later joined a convent of white Catholic sisters in Wisconsin. As an early heroine of the Civil Rights era, Bowman battled prejudice all her life—as an educator, speaker and gospel singer—before losing a struggle with cancer at age 52.

The book is available at Amazon or


The Marriage of Silence and Sin

By Jacqueline M. Lyon

You’ll forgive Jacqueline Lyon if she sets her first thriller novel, The Marriage of Silence and Sin, at “a small Midwestern college.” After all, Lyon teaches literature survey and writing courses at Xavier, where she earned her master’s in education in 2002. Lyon’s protagonists, English prof Dicey Carmichael and attorney Gale Knightly, are two women investigating the alleged suicide of their troubled best friend, Elle. The two sleuths turn to Elle’s artwork to dredge up clues to the artist’s traumatic past and death at the hands of a diabolical killer. The book recently received a silver medal from the Independent Publisher Book Awards in the mystery/suspense/thriller category. Learn more at

The book is available at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Amazon and select Kroger groceries.


Apollo, Augustus and the Poets

By John F. Miller

A professor of classics at the University of Virginia, John Miller (’72 HBA) took a decade to research and write Apollo, Augustus and the Poets. After traveling extensively through Greece and Italy, Miller has pieced together a “very important but insufficiently understood moment in the history of ancient Roman culture.” His text interweaves how Apollo, long a central deity in Greece, became a major god in Roman religion thanks to the efforts and patronage of the first emperor of Rome, Augustus. Using fresh evidence from archaeological digs as well as numismatic, epigraphical and artistic sources, Miller details how poets of the age, such as Horace, Ovid and Virgil, contributed to the creation of this imperial icon.

Published by Cambridge University Press, it’s available at or


A Long Farewell

By John Hagan

Author John Hagan, a 1972 MEd graduate and composition instructor at the University of Dayton, explores a range of topics in his new collection of stories, A Long Farewell. From coming-of-age issues to lost loves, Hagan’s voice and narrative is born of the Midwest. His fiction incorporates humor, romance and poignancy.

Published by Goose River Press, it’s available at Barnes & Noble and at


Maid of Secrets

By Jenn Stark (writing as Jennifer McGowan)

Jenn Stark is a 1991 Xavier graduate. Her debut novel, Maid of Secrets, the first installment in a five-part series, will be released in spring 2013. The series is a historical fiction for young adults about five teenage girls in Queen Elizabeth I’s court whose job is to protect the queen. The first book introduces the thief, Meg, who is forced to join this band of spies. She must solve a murder and save the crown. Secrets and danger lie around every corner, but so too does unexpected love. Stark’s manuscript has been named as a finalist in the Young Adult Romance category of the 2011 Golden Heart awards from the Romance Writers of America. The RWA’s Golden Heart Award recognizes excellence in unpublished romance fiction manuscripts. For the latest details about the Maid of Honor series, visit

Cup of Glitter

By Sherry K. Brubaker

Sherry K. Brubaker, who earned her Master of Education at Xavier, is now the human resource director for the Children’s Home of Cincinnati, but she’s not done teaching. Her children’s book, A Cup of Glitter, is a 2011 Award Winning International Book Awards Finalist, which honors knowledge, creativity, wisdom and global cooperation through the written word. A Cup of Glitter is the story of Dart and Glitter, who are stuck in a strange and unpredictable world and are trying to get back home with help from some new friends. There is a fairy song, including music and lyrics, and a Where’s Waldo-style seek-and-find. A Cup of Glitter is geared for children ages 2-8. The book is available at Amazon, Barnes& Noble and Createspace.

Xavier Magazine

Poets Gone Wild

Ty Roth doesn’t just have students sitting in his classroom. He has a target audience. The high school English teacher in Port Clinton, Ohio, recently landed a hefty advance and a two-book deal with Delacorte, a Random House imprint, to write two books for the young adult market—that is, his students and their peers.

But, he admits, it wasn’t his idea. A 1984 graduate in sociology, Roth had written three novels in four years without any luck. Finally, someone suggested he write for young adults, an exploding market thanks to the likes of Harry Potter and the Twilight series.

“I started reading some and found some real literary works out there,” he says. “It’s been a fairly hot genre in recent years.”

So Roth put pen to paper once again and wrote a fourth novel—this one recreating the lives of the Romantic poets Lord Byron, John Keats and Percy Shelley, as modern-day Ohio teenagers. The premise caught the eye of an agent and So Shelly soon hit the bookshelves.

The novel’s been a hit so far, not least among his students. “I don’t know if they like it because of it’s quality or because their teacher wrote it, but it’s given me some street cred in the English department,” Roth says.

The idea of using Romantic poets in a novel came to Roth when he found his students more interested in the scandalous biographies of the poets than their poetry. In that regard, So Shelly is a sugar-coated pill to teach the Romantics to a generation for whom, by Roth’s reckoning, “poetry is on life support.”

If there’s any hope in a poetry renaissance for today’s youth, Roth says, the Romantics are a good place to start. “Romanticism is kind of a philosophy for the young,” he says. “There’s a point when you have to cut your hair and go to work.”