Category Archives: Twisted Road News & Events

Coming Soon – Birdhouse Jesus

Birdhouse Jesus – a novel by Terri Chastain

At six years old, Mary Alice Lydell is consumed by fear. No one can protect her from the monster she cannot name. Even if she understood the monster, she couldn’t tell Momma or Aunt Jean or her best friend Carolyn, because if she did, they would know she was bad and wouldn’t love her. She sits inside her closet, talking to Birdhouse Jesus, a crucifix she stole from Aunt Jean, hoping he will make Daddy be nice to her and not behave in ways that terrify her.

In her teens, filled with self-loathing, Mary Alice falls quickly and deeply in love with a man who touches her gently and makes her feel worthy. Soon, she has another secret – and a baby on the way. The baby’s father also has a secret: he’s married to someone else.

Family ties – the ones that bind and nurture, and the ones that strangle and suffocate – shape Mary Alice’s life in profound ways. Although Birdhouse Jesus is a story of trauma and betrayal, it is also one of resilience and hope, as Mary Alice struggles to become the woman that a part of her has always known she could be.

About the Author:

Terri Chastain 1957 – 2022

Terri was born on February 27, 1957 in Rome, Georgia. She received her bachelor’s degree from Berry College in Rome in 1979. She and her husband, Joseph Wayne Chastain, raised three children: Brian, Michelle, and Winter.

Terri was passionate about her work in the nonprofit community. She spent twenty-five years in the Orlando area fundraising and teaching fundraising. Terri also was active in the creative writing community for over thirty years with several poems published. Terri loved Central Florida and had a passion for the Canadian Rockies and her special place, St. Augustine, Florida

Birdhouse Jesus is her first novel.

New for Pride Month – Acts of Atonement


Acts of Atonement
by S. W. Leicher

ISBN # 978-1-940189-30-7

Order Here –


Ten years have passed since Paloma Rodriguez—bold, seductive daughter of the Latin South Bronx, and Serach Gottesman—quietly iconoclastic daughter of Haredi Jewish Brooklyn, first broke with the painful constrictions of their cultures to seek healing within an artfully blended household of their own.  Six years have passed since Serach’s little brother Shmuely fled New York altogether for a life of well-supported scholarship in Jerusalem.

Convinced of the success of their escapes, they are all totally unprepared for the upending series of events that force them to re-examine what they’ve built, what they’ve left behind—and what it means to have a heart in conflict with itself.

About the Author

S.W. Leicher grew up in the Bronx in a bi-cultural (Latina and Jewish) home. She moved to Manhattan after graduate school and raised her family on the Upper West Side, where she still lives with her husband and two black cats. When not dreaming up fiction, she writes about social justice issues for nonprofit organizations.


Praise for Acts of Atonement

“From Jewish synagogues and rites to the foundations of faith and love, S.W. Leicher deftly crafts a landscape in which kindness and forgiveness too often only emerge after violence and loss…. Replete with images of these transformation moments and the challenges which overlay them, Acts of Atonement is filled with powerful insights and revelations… highly recommended.”  ~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

“The core beauty of Ms. Leicher’s brilliantly written Acts of Atonement lies in how deftly it draws us into the pain, irrationality, and joy of family, captures the nuances of love between two women, and tests our personal capacity for tolerance, acceptance, and empathy.” ~ Michael J. Coffino, author of the multi-award-winning novel Truth Is in the House

Writing From Memory

How has the pandemic and its isolation affected people whose primary pursuits are creative – writers, artists, composers? Has it resulted in an absence of distractions that have heightened and amplified the creative process? Or has the resulting silence instead silenced the muse? Author Pat Spears shares her thoughts on writing during the pandemic.

Where the Proverbial Rubber Meets the Road

Mary L. Bailey

As the death toll rose in ever more tragic numbers, and we as a nation were advised to drink bleach, a frightened and confused citizenry was left to discover its own new normal within the context of a dysfunctional government. We were no longer able to turn to the familiar comforts of family and friends for fear of infecting or being infected by those we loved. Our human contacts were shut down to as few as possible, and those of us who were privileged to possess the necessary resources turned to online shopping and delivery to our doors.

In an absence of the familiar in my small universe, I turned my attention to a three-decade old practice of butt-in-chair, fingers-on-keyboard diligence, the mainstay of my approach to productive writing. But this time it was not enough, and I experienced a rash of debilitating self-doubt, and my fair share of self-pity. I kept at it, but largely failed to reengage that magical psychic space where the words seem to find their own way onto the page, and I feel as though I am simply along for the ride.

Instead, my writing was stiff, forced, flat on the page, though my stubbornness turned out page after page filled with words but not the right words. I had lost my sense of connectedness to my fictional characters. Their unique voices were drowned out by the extraneous noise and chaos that filled my head. I believed that I had lost the ability to honestly tell their stories.

In my funk, I shared a few beers with my most trusted, though masked and distanced, writer-friend. She listened while I ran a one-sided litany of possible causes. Was it the stress of the pandemic, prolonged isolation, or simply a creative slowdown? She smiled and answered that I had a condition she had named writer’s palsy. She recommended that I give my sore brain a busman’s holiday. Her suggestion was that I open a new document and begin a new, for-my-eyes-only piece, drawn from my memories. Forget universal and go personal.

Okay, I was desperate, so I was willing to try anything. I began a piece I thought of as a snippet and it grew into a number of short pieces from my best childhood memories. Many of these were centered around stories my sister and I had heard from our grandma during our two-week summer vacations. In the time we spent with her, alone, without our parents, she told spell-binding thrillers full of family, love, violence, wild animals, and ghostly creatures from the swamp behind her country trailer. Stories I believe to this day were her original creations. If there are genes for storytelling that are passed from one generation to the next, mine came from her, and, as I learned later, from my dad.

In my memories, my sister and I, along with a few other motley stray kids from around the neighborhood, perched on the wobbly steps to Grandma’s makeshift porch. The porch itself held barely room enough for Grandma to settle into her newly acquired second- or third-hand platform rocker, leaving a bit of space for her nearly rusted-out refrigerator. A gossipy neighbor woman had dared to tell a big fat fib as to how Grandma had come by the new rocker. Grandma countered that she had traded three of her best laying hens for the damned rocker and the woman should take a hike until her hat floated. Although that damned rocker was clearly not worth any three of her hens,

I totally believed Grandma, though the hens in question never left their nest until age and low production caught up to them and they graced her Sunday table, floating in a pot of her famous dumplings. Then, I was the same kid who believed Grandma when she had said my walking barefoot in the chicken yard explained my being the tallest fifth grader in my elementary school. I started wearing my shoes on future visits, and sure enough, by seventh grade a boy or two had overtaken my height. Still, I remained the tallest girl straight through high school graduation, so I figured Grandma was at least half right.

A few days ago, at a gathering of a small group of writers for our first lunch—outdoors—since the onset of Covid 19, one woman asked if I had written during the isolation of the pandemic. A second replied that her question was tantamount to asking if I continued to breathe through that time. I replied that except for time spent healing from a total knee replacement, a broken arm, and back surgery (which I had forgotten to mention earlier), I had.

I now have placed a complete manuscript for my proposed novel titled Hotel Impala into the wonderfully capable hands of my editor. I understand that book dedications are considered by some to be old fashioned, but I think I’ll dedicate this book to my grandma, Mary L. Bailey, who introduced me to oral stories, and my best friend who honestly saved my … bacon.

Learn more about Pat’s writing here

Buy a copy of her novel It’s Not Like I Knew Her here.