Read These Writers

Our area has an abundance of authors. Check out some of their offerings and you might find things to add to your summer reading list.

Michael Adam Beck

Beck also is a pastor, professor, coach and consultant. He is the author of 14 books, including Deep Roots, Wild Branches: Revitalizing the Church in the Blended Ecology; Deep & Wild: Remissioning Your Church from the Outside In, A Field Guide to Methodist Fresh Expressions; , and co-author of Contextual Intelligence: Unlocking the Ancient Secret to Mission on the Front Lines with Leonard Sweet, Fresh Expressions in a Digital Age with Rosario Picardo, as well as The 21st Century Christian: Following Jesus Where Life Happens with Michael Moynagh. His most recent books include Painting With Ashes, Fresh Expressions of the Rural Church, The Five Congregational Personality Types, and Doing Justice Together.

Elgin Carelock 

Carelock is a coach, market analyst, real estate and business strategist and relationship builder. He is the author of Who First…Then What: Key Considerations for Starting & Growing Your Business. He says the book is a compilation of questions he uncovered while working with entrepreneurs and business owners. 

“Instead of addressing the answers to the questions in a ‘how-to’ fashion, my intent is to help entrepreneurs ask the right questions when determining if they should go into business for themselves or what the best strategies are for growing to the next level of success,” he offers in the liner notes. “As a business strategist, I am often called to help businesses that have run into a significant challenge or have reached the end of their knowledge base and are looking for solutions. In many cases the source of the problem is rooted in a detail that was overlooked or one they simply did not consider.”

Asa Drake 

This author from Ocala received a Florida Book Award for a short collection of poems she wrote about her life experiences. 

She shares that One Way to Listen, her debut poetry chapbook and this year’s Florida Book Awards Gold Medal Chapbook Winner “explores a fragmented experience in a setting defined by capitalism and diaspora. These poems study the border and how it is defined through the body, ornament and nationhood. They seek a better understanding of what we risk by speaking in a geography that is both familiar and divisive.”

Her chapbook is available through Gold Line Press (University of Southern California), Amazon and for checkout at the Marion County Public Library System. Poems from her work in progress can also be found on The Slowdown Podcast, The American Poetry Review, The Paris Review Daily, MCA’s The Shop at Brick City and through her website,

Mark Joseph Good 

In Come Fly With Me, Good, the recipient of two Governor’s Distinguished Service Awards, the Florida Park Service Heroism Award and the National Park Service Award of Valor, gives a glimpse into his life as a master falconer. 

The online description notes that, “Through engaging, insightful anecdotes, you will meet many of the raptors he has worked—and bonded—with throughout the years. One such bird is Thorin Oakenshield, a rare Eurasian eagle owl whose tale is one of intrigue involving the illegal pet trade, smugglers and government secrecy.”

Good says he is known as “The Owl Whisperer” and that his raptors teach young and old about our natural environment and the wildlife he loves.

Ashley Jones 

Jones is an author, blogger and teacher, but prefers the title of Big Sister. She notes in her online bio that she is, “A firm believer that we all know something worth sharing,” so she started the blog Big Sister Knows as a way to encourage and inspire other young women to live with gusto. 

Jones sees her books, Skilletheads and Modern Cast Iron, as a continuation of that mission. She instructs readers about cast-iron cookware and inspires them to cook simple, wholesome foods and to gather with family around the table.

William S. King 

King is the author of Till the Dark Angel Comes: Abolitionism and the Road to the Second American Revolution and the award-winning To Raise Up a Nation: John Brown, Frederick Douglas and the Making of a Free Country, named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title.

Book jacket notes from his The Timepiece from Gouldtown: An Initiation into American Mysteries indicate that by using John Brown’s pocket watch as a departure point, King explores the color line apparent from the founding of America as well as the network of whites and Blacks that fought to end slavery. This network is manifest in the operations of the Underground Railroad, but elements of its scope, capabilities and intentions are less understood. 

King traces encounters and legislation strengthening slavery and segregation, beginning with Gouldtown’s founding, through the Amistad trial and the 1850 compromises. He then uses the careers of Brown and Frederick Douglass to demonstrate the crucial and wide-ranging united efforts of those in whom they confided and how their work extended beyond the Underground Railroad and the abolitionist movement in general.

Cassidy Glo Novak 

Novak, one of Marion County’s part-time residents, who splits her time between here and Chicagoland, has, according to online materials, experienced just about every major trauma any person can, from childhood sexual abuse, a near-death experience, rejection, eating disorders, anxiety, anger issues, a broken marriage and more. Through it all, she leaned into her faith and God brought her through every tragedy. Today, she is the mom of five children, including identical triplets.

Of her book, I Can, I Have, I Will: Blooming Through Life’s Greatest Tragedies, she notes, “Experience the inspiring and incredible story of miraculous healing, divine intervention, trauma recovery, restoration of a broken marriage, and more. When it seemed like there was no way out, God made a way through.”


Jennifer Odom

Jennifer Odom is a multi-award-winning veteran teacher and writer, selected as Teacher of the Year at her Florida Blue Ribbon School and Writer of the Year at the Florida Christian Writers Conference.

Her online bio notes that her love of the land and its history reach back to the 1860s when her great-great-grandfather migrated to his new homestead in Central Florida near the railroad. Orange groves and farming busied the family while one adult child and her spouse established a general store and served as stationmaster for the thriving depot. Reflecting this love of Florida and its people, she has written human interest stories for the Ocala Star-Banner and gardening articles for the Ocala Gazette weekly newspaper, which is Ocala Style’s sister publication. 

Her fiction is published in Splickety and Clubhouse Jr. Magazines, as well as Main Review’s Juxtaposition. Her fifth novel, Along the Forgotten Coast is set in the quaint town of Carrabelle, Florida. It follows Under the Mango Trees, which is set in Fort Myers and is the first in her heart-warming Coral Series. Her previous Black Series (suspense/mystery) includes Summer by the Black Suwannee, Stranger with a Black Case and Girl with a Black Soul.

Marian Rizzo

A Pulitzer Prize nominee in the field of journalism, Rizzo has won numerous awards, including the New York Times Chairman’s Award and first place in the 2014 Amy Foundation Writing Awards. She worked for the Ocala Star-Banner Newspaper for 30 years and continues to write for the Ocala Gazette, Ocala Style Magazine and Billy Graham’s Decision Magazine.

Several of her novels have won awards at Florida Christian Writers Conferences and Word Weavers International retreats. In 2018, her suspense novel, Muldovah, was a finalist in the Genesis competition at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference. Two of her novels earned Amazon “Best Seller” status. 

Her latest books are The House on Maple Street, set in a town like the one she grew up in, and Road Trip, inspired by a true story and co-written with Mario Villella, pastor of Good News Church Ocala.

Illustrated books

This area abounds with creative talents, some discovered, some undiscovered. These local authors are committed to encouraging not only reading, but also in instilling lifelong lessons about embracing diversity and making good choices. All three writers have had these stories in their heads for years and only recently have gotten their words on paper. All three books were edited, designed and illustrated by local artist Lila Ivey. 

The Patron, the Docent & the Webelo was written by Jessica McCune, who retired from a healthcare career but is working harder than ever. It was inspired by her unique experience one Saturday morning when she reluctantly agreed to give a museum tour to a group of young scouts. Her eye-opening story won a New York Book Festival Honorable Mention award in 2017.

The Battle of the Blueberry Muffin is a “true” account by Cynthia Van Heyde (a vice president at Southeast Trust Company) young son who just could not obey his mom. She made up a fantastical tale about muffin-loving mice taking over the house that made a lasting impression. Her book won First Place in the Paris Book Festival in the Children’s Division for 2023. Available at Ocala and Gainesville Barnes & Noble stores and on Amazon.

SKY is a recounting by Mary McEwan of a special horse whose unusual markings made him an outcast by other horses. Her book teaches about the variety of breeds and the place each one of them, and us, hold, despite our differences. Email for details.

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