MANATEE -- When fledgling East Manatee fiction writer Diane Adams Taylor began signing her first novel about abusive relationships, "Circles in Time," at Patchington, the designer boutique featuring women's resort wear on St. Armands Circle in Sarasota, she told herself: "Be open to the universe."
During the signing, a group of women from Tidewater Preserve, a gated, boating community on State Road 64 west of Interstate 75, walked into Patchington on a shopping trip with community lifestyle director LuAnn Nelson.
"She was so pleasant," Nelson said of Taylor. "We got to talking about her book and asked if she would kick off our 2013 book club."
That chance encounter led to Taylor's appearance at 7 p.m. Monday at Tidewater Preserve, 5060 Tidewater Preserve Blvd., Bradenton, to discuss her book.
The event is also open to the public. To gain access, mention "Circles in Time" to the gatekeeper, which is fitting since Taylor's book is all about getting by the gatekeepers in one's life to see if the same mistakes were made previously.
"Circles in Time" is Taylor's first book. She retired in 2009 as assistant superintendent at a school district near Akron, Ohio, and moved to Lakeside South to be near her parents, Ted and Jean Taylor.
After "Circles in Time," Taylor has since published "The Healer of Wounded Souls" about a woman who dies but comes back to Earth to heal wounded warriors, including victims of domestic violence.
Before either book was written, however, Taylor faced the death by lung cancer of the man who had been psychologically and physically abusive to her during their 20-year marriage, which she elected not to terminate. Her reasoning comes through in
The husband was a "control freak," according to Taylor, a man who would scream if she left a pencil on the table. He died in 2008 at age 60. He was a teacher and Taylor was his boss in Ohio. He never said "I'm sorry," even on his death bed, Taylor said.
The book title came to Taylor before the story took shape. It seemed to perfectly capture the story she wanted to tell of a woman trapped.
Taylor's main character, Faith Lucas, is based on herself with a twist of fiction. Lucas goes back in time with the help of a spiritual adviser to find she has been abused by the same man many times over centuries, Taylor said.
"I was the victim of spousal abuse," Taylor said. "Professional women hide it. I wanted to help women come to terms with abuse, heal from it and move on with their lives."
Jim Taylor, Taylor's brother and a U.S. Air Force retiree, didn't know the severity of the abuse until he read the book. His sister hid it well, he said.
Otherwise, he said he would have taken action.
"Why did she put up with it all those years is a question I'm sure she asked herself and maybe the one which caused her to write the book," Jim Taylor said Saturday.
Jim Taylor cited the pressure professional women put on themselves to be perfect.
"Our dad was a high school principal and the politics involved in all that can be incredible," Jim Taylor said. "I'm sure Diane felt she had to be perfect. The people around you in your job can not know there are problems going on in your life. They expect perfection in everything you do. Besides that, Diane was born in 1953 when besides being perfect yourself, you had to have the perfect family life."
The abusive husband was Taylor's second marriage, which was also a factor, the writer said.
"I think writing the book was cathartic in that I realized I should have left him earlier after recognizing what he was," Diane Taylor said last week. "But when things go bad in a second marriage, I was afraid people would say, 'What a loser you are.' "
Diane Taylor's mother also was stunned the abuse had gone on without anyone in the family knowing it. She said Saturday she saw no "red flags."
"He was just a picture-perfect son-in-law when we were around," Jean Taylor said. "But Diane's siblings would say, 'We can't talk to Diane when her husband is there,' and we thought that was strange. But he never did that with us."
Jean Taylor prepares readers for the novel beforehand.
"It's not a pleasant subject, but I think it has helped other people who are in bad relationships," Jean Taylor said. "I think when readers are done with the book they realize someone in that situation shouldn't stick with it. It's not a good idea to put yourself through misery."
"Circles in Time" is available on Amazon.com, Tate Publishing, Barnes and Noble bookstores or Taylor's website, dianeadamstaylor.com.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter @RichardDymond.