Not My Kid: A Reporter’s Troubled Child Makes the Headlines

Not my Kid … (ISBN: 978-1-60381-840-7, 280 pp., $17.95), by Mary Billiter, is a work of contemporary fiction about a single mother and newspaper reporter whose child becomes a suspect in a case that she is covering.

“I really enjoyed the fact that each new chapter was told from the point of view of the characters that played a role in the outcome of this story. Add in the conflict caused when Megan’s ex-husband Robert comes back to town and the emotional twist of a new love interest and you have a must read book.”  Read more ….

—Chalet, Storm Goddess Book Reviews

“The story is compelling. Billiter’s dialogue is tight and believable. By the final chapters readers will be flipping as fast as they can to get to the conclusion. Not My Kid … is a fascinating, fast read for parents, single or not, and anyone concerned with keeping kids out of trouble or staying sane once they’re arrested.”

—Johanna Love, Jackson Hole News & Guide

“Part mystery, part family drama, it is a book that will touch a mother’s heart at its core. Not My Kid questions why young people may commit crime and how ‘poor parenting’ judgments are so easily cast when this occurs.”

Wyoming Women Magazine

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Tim Sandlin, author of the GroVont Quartet, says, “Mary Billiter doesn’t blink when staring head on into a parent’s greatest nightmare. In a fresh new voice from the West, she dives straight down into the deepest fears of the human heart. Not My Kid is a book to be savored.”

“(Not My Kid) is about small-town living in the West, single parenthood, working moms, kids in trouble, troubled adults,” says Tina Welling, Author of Cowboys Never Cry. “And Mary Billiter gets it all just right.”

Craig Johnson, author of The Cold Dish and Hell is Empty, says, “It’s the intimacy and sense of detail that makes Mary Billiter’s Not My Kid a nightmare for every parent and pleasure for every reader.”

Read an interview with Mary Billiter in the Casper Journal.

Megan Reilly is a newly divorced single mom trying to raise two sons. She is also an ambitious journalist covering a story about bomb threats at her son’s middle school. After her thirteen-year-old, Cameron, is arrested for shoplifting, he becomes the prime suspect in Megan’s big story. Her response is, “Not my kid.” As the case against Cameron builds, even the man who loves Megan thinks the boy deserves to be put away. But the authorities haven’t bargained on the fierce power of Megan’s maternal devotion.

“I was working at the Jackson Hole Journal when a series of bomb threats occurred at JH Middle School,” says journalist and first-time novelist Mary Billiter. “It cost thousands of dollars to evacuate and call in the bomb crews, etc. When I tackled the story, I asked a counselor what prompts a kid to do such a thing. I kept thinking as a parent and not a reporter, wondering what I would do if my child had written bomb threats. When I asked what parents said when confronted with their child’s involvement, I was told the first response was always, ‘Not My Kid …’

“I spent more than a year conducting interviews with all the players in a case of this magnitude. When I went to write the story, the heartbeat I heard first was Megan’s. Then her son’s, the policeman’s, the attorneys’, the ex’s …. each of these characters had to tell their stories within the story.

“ ‘Not My Kid…’ may be the cry of every parent, but the child’s cry is the one that needs to be heard. What prompts teens or young adults to commit crimes that have the potential to harm many? Where does the motivation come from? Why are they acting out? What’s happening at home? And can you always point the finger at poor parenting? Does domestic violence play a role? Troubled kids. Troubled adults.”

Mary Billiter is a weekly columnist for the Casper Star-Tribune. Following in the footsteps of her father, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Billiter earned a BA in Journalism from California State University at Northridge. Mary teaches a Fiction Writing course for Western Wyoming Community College Outreach. A single mom, she resides in Wyoming with her four amazing children and their dog. You can find her online at MaryBilliter.com.

Not My Kid … is available in Kindle ($4.95) and paperback editions on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon Japan, and at select Barnes & Noble and independent bookstores. Bookstores and libraries can order by contacting info@Camelpress.com or through Ingram or Baker & Taylor. Other electronic versions can be purchased on Smashwords, BN.com or at any of the major online ebook stores.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

I was at the beach. Cameron was four years old—a cherub of a little boy. It was our first trip to California to see my family. Cameron took to the ocean with vigor. His chubby legs brushed against his swim diaper, swishing as he waddled toward the surf. The tide was low, but I stayed one step behind him. He glanced back at me.

“No, Mamma.” He raised his hand in protest. “You go away. You stay.”

I slowed my speed. He rushed into the water and then stopped and bent over. He was looking at something in the sand. A shell? A crab? I was distracted, searching for what he’d discovered, and didn’t see the approaching tide. It covered him and pulled him away from me. I ran after him, but Rob reached him first and scooped him out of the water.

He cornered me with his eyes. Anger flashed across his face. Guilt seized my stomach.

“Jesus, Megan! I told you to keep an eye on him. All you had to do was watch him for five minutes. Is that too much to ask?”

Cameron pulled away from his father and ran into my arms.

“No cry, Momma. I got you a present.”

He opened his hand to reveal his treasure—a sand dollar.

“Oh, Cameron.”

Rob turned from us and shook his head.

“I won’t be far.” He positioned himself so that we were always within his sight.

I still feel his watchful eyes upon me even though he is thousands of miles away.

“All you had to do was watch him.” His voice resonates. My eyes are wide open now. I navigate the back roads of Jackson that lead us to the school district offices. I fear that, once again, I will not be in time to save my son.

 

 

 

 

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