Yakima author Terry Winet shares a story of heartbreak, frustration and giving as a young couple battles to save their newborn infant's life.
His newest book, "Maria Juana's Gift," published by Sunstone Press of Santa Fe, N.M., is the story of the couple's battle against the medical system in an effort to find help for their child. Maria Juana is a nurse's helper from Mexico who recognizes that the child is ill even when medical professionals dismiss her concern, in part because of her limited English and in part because of her menial position in the medical hierarchy.
For Winet, who writes under the name T. Lloyd Winetsky, the seed of his newest story is planted close to home.
"It's based on a true incident that happened to us but completely fictional of course," the 65-year-old author says. "I bumped it up a few years to the Bicentennial year. When the mother is in the hospital just after the baby is born she's crocheting an afghan that she started with the colors she had - blue and white. Maria Juana is excited about the Bicentennial and she brings some red that she has.
"Maria is the one who tells them she thinks there is something wrong with the child. Big conflict happens between the couple and the medical system which is saying there's nothing wrong. Back in the '60s and '70s we started to question things, not just taking what the system said for granted."
In the end, they lose the baby.
But they're so appreciative to Maria for the gift that she gave them, alerting them to their baby's illness, that they give her the afghan - and a promise they'll name a child for her.
"It's a serious story about a serious issue and it's a relationship story," Winet says.
Winet self-published his first book, "Grey Pine," in 2007.
"With 'Grey Pine,' I heard everyone's 1980 (Mount St. Helen's) ash story, male or female," Winet says.
"Grey Pine" purchasers split about 60-40 women to men, he says.
"Put the reaction to 'Gift' this way. With this book, I'm not selling as fast as with 'Grey Pine' but it definitely ties into the female demographic. Men, if they stop, it's 10 seconds before they're gone," he says with an easy laugh.
"But I've had women with tears in their eyes when I talk about the story. With about three-fourths of the people buying the book I don't have to go very far into the pitch before they want the book. Any woman who has had a child, whether there were complications or not, tends to be interested."
A writer's life
Winet's own story is itself compelling.
Born and raised in L.A., Winet served in the Peace Corps and then began teaching impoverished seventh-graders in 1968. An educator for more than four decades, he has been a school principal and administrator. In 1998, he retired from full-time work after suffering a brain aneurysm and stroke. He now works as a part-time English As a Second Language teacher for adult farm workers in Wapato.
Winet spends four to five hours each day writing. He laughingly said his editor's most recent input on his effort had been somewhat harsh. But like most serious writers, he's learned that an editor's critique can be key to producing a story that resonates with readers.
"What's in it for me? My passions are family - and writing," he says. "I shut everyone out - even the dog - and write."