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Local Residents and Longtime Friends Become Authors

Photography / Amy Payne

Two longtime residents of the Center Grove area, Valdena L. Navratil and Beverly Scellato, recently released their own respective written works. 

An Invitation” is a collection of poems inspired by Navratil’s life experiences and deep spiritual reliance. Scellato’s novel “Gum Tree Lane” is a mystery full of intrigue, family values and faith. Both women have known each other for many years through their church.

“For 25 years I wrote and taught Bible studies at Gracepoint Church, and Val attended them,” Scellato says. “She is a giver. She would always tuck her poems in papers she handed me.”

Navratil says she used to put her poems in Christmas cards and hand them out at gatherings.

“People would say, ‘You should get these published,’” she says.

Navratil was born and raised in Maine but settled in Center Grove 46 years ago when her husband accepted a transfer with GTE. She has always enjoyed writing and throughout many years has accumulated a substantial collection of written work. In the spring of 2019 she reached out to Christian Faith Publishing, who accepted her manuscript.

“The book came out right before Thanksgiving last year,” Navratil says. “Overall it was a good experience, but a lot of work. The editing process and cover design went back and forth several times. My goal was to get it published so my kids and grandkids could have it, but mainly I want to spread the word and invite people to come into a relationship with the lord.”

Scellato’s work is of a different genre, but the theme of faith is woven into the writing. The concept of her novel is based on history and actual places in Australia, but every character is fictional. Scellato and her husband Robert have been involved in Australian agriculture since the early 1990s. They moved to Union Township in 1968 and for the last 30 years have lived in Bargersville. One of their neighbors was the former owner of a large potato farm in New South Wales.

“We went on a three-week visit to Australia and our friend took us all over,” Scellato says. “At that time, his farm was on the market again and up for auction. That put us into the potato farming business. Throughout the years, we visited many towns and got to know the Australian people. I wrote the first chapter of “Gum Tree Lane” on a plane in 2011 while flying back to the United States. I was looking for something to do and was scrolling in my computer when I found it and starting adding to it. The more I got into it, the more I enjoyed it.”

Scellato’s resulting novel was published by self-publishing company AuthorHouse in the spring of 2020. Set in Australia, the story centers around a prominent family and the unexpected death of their grandfather. The patriarch’s cause of death is ruled as murder when the results of an autopsy are revealed on the day of his funeral. As the tale unwinds and surprising developments are revealed, the reader can’t help but question their own understanding of faith and life after death.

Both “An Invitation” and “Gum Tree Lane” are available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Readers can choose a traditional bound format, or go with the e-reader option. The books can also be purchased through several online book sellers.

Scellato was able to host a book launch at her church the week before the coronavirus pandemic shutdowns were mandated. Meanwhile, she has completed “The Everlasting Arms”, a second mystery novel for fans to look forward to.

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