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Sabadosa: Oak Lawn’s newest authors in the spotlight

Pictured (from left) are authors Cleo Lampos Paul McAllister Evelyn Cullet. | Supplied Photo

Pictured (from left) are authors Cleo Lampos, Paul McAllister and Evelyn Cullet. | Supplied Photo

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Updated: December 5, 2012 6:09AM



Oak Lawn Public Library recently hosted a special book-signing event. Four members of the library’s own Oak Lawn Writers Group came together to showcase their most recent publications.

The four authors read excerpts of their books, answered audience questions and signed copies of their newly published works.

Paul McAllister hails from Blue Island and recently published his touching memoir called “Pauly’s Mother — A Story of Childhood Loss and Recovery.” McAllister lost his mother at the tender age of 6, and this is where his story begins.

McAllister said his book is all about the importance of mothers in our lives. What makes his writing unique is the way in which McAllister tells his story — not as an adult narrator, but through the perspective of young “Pauly.”

Writing was the result of McAllister’s reinvention of himself. After spending more than 30 years in the field of telecommunications, he found himself without a job in 2001 due to company downsizing.

McAllister said his success as an author is due largely to taking an online memoir-writing class from Writer’s Digest, along with joining the Oak Lawn Writers Group.

Cleo Lampos, who is an educator, recently released her devotional book called “Teaching Diamonds in the Tough: Mining the Potential in Every Student.” Her message is that every teacher, regardless of educational setting, has the power to shape a child’s future. She said she hopes her book will inspire educators through stories, scripture, quotes and a specific action plan.

Now retired from classroom teaching, Lampos recalls her diverse teaching experiences, which span from regular education through self-contained classrooms for behavioral disorders and emotionally disturbed children. She challenges teachers to “look beyond the rough exterior of a student’s attitude and behavior to their inner needs.”

Lampos asked me to mention that she is a former fourth-grade teacher at Hometown School. She fondly recalled that, “Hometown was a good place to raise kids.”

Evelyn Cullet, of Burbank, has been writing most of her life but didn’t get serious about it until she took an early retirement from her office job. She just published her debut romantic suspense novel, titled “Masterpiece of Murder.” In her own words, her book answers the question: “Just how far will a woman go for the man she loves?”

The setting of her story is the beautiful resort city of Bariloche, Argentina. The “masterpiece” in her novel is an actual painting by Johannes Vermeer (The Concert), which was stolen from a small Boston art museum in 1990 and to date never has been recovered.

Cullet is a former member of the Agatha Christie Society and is a member of Sisters in Crime.

Frank Victoria lives right here in Oak Lawn and has an impressive history of professions. A former Marine, he’s had quite a few “real world” jobs listed in his bio, such as dock loading, freight unloading, furniture moving, construction, cab driving, shoe selling and factory work.

Victoria went on to become the editorial director of three magazines in the oil marketing industry. After all of this, he went back to school to earn a teaching certificate and then taught American history and government in Chicago Public Schools for 16 years.

When he finally retired in 2007, Victoria began to write his first novel, called “The Founder’s Plot.” Hailed as a “thriller,” this book covers such contemporary issues as immigration reform, states’ rights and the proper role of federal courts.

The Oak Lawn Writers Group is a general interest group that meets from 10 a.m. to noon the second and fourth Saturdays of the month. It has been around for about 20 years.

This group is intended for adults of high school age and older, and members range in age from 20 to 80. While no instruction is given at these informal meetings, members generally spend their time doing readings of their works, critiquing and doing writing exercises. New members are welcome anytime, and no registration is required.

“The Writers Group is a very open, friendly and supportive group,” McAllister said. “It is a wonderful place to test out your new story line, read a recently written chapter from your novel, or to write political humor.”

I had the opportunity to attend a recent meeting, and I have to agree with him. I found the group to be warm and welcoming. For me it was a treat to hear passages of some of the budding authors’ “works in progress.”

The main support for the Oak Lawn Writers Group comes from the Oak Lawn publicity department. The book signing was arranged by Erin Foley, who is the public relations director for the library.

Information: (708) 422-4990.



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