Mon Valley Author Expo Connects Local Writers, Readers

By Charlotte Hopkins | Posted in: Entertainment

Editor's Note: Charlotte Hopkins was one of the hosts of this event.

Local authors --- including two from McKeesport and one from Pleasant Hills --- met with readers and members of the public at an event in Washington County last month.

The Monongahela Area Library and the Just Write Literary Group held the first-annual Mon Valley Author Expo on Aug. 25. Also in attendance was Rebecca Benston, the CEO of Springfield, Ohio, based Higher Ground Books and Media.

The authors who attended the event shared their background and motivation behind their published work.

Yasmin Brown

Last year, Yasmin Brown of McKeesport released her memoirs in a two-part series. Her first book, “The Silent Destruction,” tells how, as a young girl, she was forced into silence regarding sexual assaults that she suffered by a close friend and family member.

In her second book, “The Point of Abuse,” she goes on to describe how the pain she carried inside came out in the form of self-destructive behaviors that continued through her adult years.

That pattern of behavior affected every part of her life, Brown says. It was after the birth of her first daughter that she was able to gather the strength to rebuild her life, she says. 

As a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault, she hopes her series, titled "Deliverance," will motivate other survivors and help them discover the tools they need to overcome the trauma of their past. Brown says readers will also learn what survivors endure --- both before and after their abuse.

Brown's books are available on CreateSpace.com and at amazon.com/author/yasminbrown. She can also be followed on Facebook and on Instagram under the name yazlibra3.

Rob Oliver

In 1993, Rob Oliver was injured in a body surfing accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down. Life, as he knew it, was about to completely change. With his strong faith and the moral support of his family, Oliver says, he found the strength and determination needed to rise above the obstacles in his new life.

Today, he's a motivational speaker and three-time author. His first book, “Still Walking,” debuted in 2009. It details Oliver's life, highlighting childhood memories that lead up to the day of his horrific accident on the beach. Readers learn how Oliver endured through rehab and became the man he is today.

In December 2017, Oliver released his second book, “Still Falling.” Oliver describes the book as 20 stories of the falls and failures that loomed over him on his bad days. As Oliver says, “a good attitude and a positive outlook will not prevent you from tipping your wheelchair over in the middle of a crowded restaurant.”

Oliver is still writing, and his work includes the anti-bullying book, “Who, Me? Yeah, You!” The book features a rhyming storyline. Photographs were taken by his daughter Chloe Oliver, and an anti-bullying pledge for children to sign at the end. Oliver's website is at www.yourmotivationalspeaker.com.

John and Alicia Salmon

Alicia Salmon is a skilled photographer who looks for charming details in the world around us. Her photographs are sold as prints and as notecards, available at Barton's Flower Shop in Elizabeth.

Her husband, author and psychologist, John Salmon, published his first book, "Family by God’s Design," as a guide to using Christian teachings to develop a strong family. The first section explores the ways families can honor each other, even through conflicts. In the second section, families learn to show grace “without becoming a doormat,” along with the steps of forgiveness.

John Salmon's second book, "For His Eyes Only," is aimed specifically at husbands, while his latest, "A Practical Guide to Better Behaved Children," is scheduled for publication later this year. 

The Salmons also hold marriage and pre-marriage workshops for couples. For more information, visit www.honorgracecelebrate.com.

Lenore Wossidlo

Pittsburgh-based author Lenore Wossidlo and her husband, Paul, and their sons, Karl Joseph (K.J.) and Paul Joseph (P.J.) have become advocates for people with autism and their families. In her book, "K.J.'s Autism: A Mother's Inspiration," Wossidlo shares her family's journey with autism.

She says she hopes the story inspires other parents and people with autism or other challenges to overcome whatever obstacles they face. The Wossidlo family have become advocates for autism by participating in walks, making phone calls to legislators, and marching on the steps of the state Capitol in Harrisburg.

Lenore Wossidlo also gives presentations to first responders in the Pittsburgh area regarding ways to recognize autism, along with suggestions for ways to keep situations as calm as possible, and promotes autism awareness and acceptance in the community and at her synagogue. Wossidlo's website is at www.KJSAUTISM.com.

Children's Authors

Gabby Granovitz

Higher Ground Books and Media has started a Junior Author Program for children who desire to be authors, Benston says. Eight-year-old Gabby Granovitz, shown here with her parents, Dina and Mike Granovitz, along with Benston, was the first young person to have a book published through the program.

Her story, "A Birthday Puppy," will be released later this year, Benston says.

Sarah Addis

Fellow authors of children's books featured at the Mon Valley Author Expo included Sarah Addis. In “I Love You to Heaven and Back,” Addis tries to address the most common --- and sometimes surprising --- questions that children ask about Jesus and Heaven.

The book can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million stores and from Christian Faith Publishing.

Chuck David

Chuck David's book, "The Tin Can Gang," is the first in a promised series. David says he hopes children will enjoy following the adventures of Chuck and The Tin Can Gang as they try to outsmart the scary garbage collector, Louis.

David is working on his first novel, “The Chosen Gift,” and can be contacted on his Facebook page.

"Uncle Dave" Howard

"Uncle Dave" Howard was born and raised in Monongahela. He graduated from Ringgold High School in 1992 and from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in 1995.

Though Howard says he struggled with dyslexia, attention-deficit disorder and Asperger's syndrome, he went on to become a children’s book author and illustrator. Today he resides in Murrysville with his wife, Ruth. His website is www.uncledavesbooks.com.


Editor's Note: Charlotte Hopkins is a freelance writer from West Elizabeth and was one of the hosts of the Mon Valley Author Expo. She can be reached at domyno83@yahoo.com.

Originally published September 04, 2018.

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