Tom LaPorte

Every Word Counts

Magnolia Revealed is a ground breaking novel that introduces Mary Jack Gordon, a savvy political consultant who accepts an appointment to the planning and zoning board in the small town of Magnolia, Georgia.  At first, the sudden appointment seems as innocuous as the city appears to be, with its cast of infectious locals and down home politicians. 

As a non-native of Magnolia, Mary Jack has a few cultural obstacles with which to tangle, but none are as problematic as a mysterious gated cluster of estate homes being developed for the super wealthy and ultra discreet.  The property’s aloof owner and refined manager prove to be a bit too neighborly as they pour cash into building a new Towne Square, local parks and other amenities for the City of Magnolia.  Much like the floor of any political assembly room, Mary Jack knows there is more to the agenda than is printed for the open session.  Amid juggling her career, a parade of bad dates and time with friends and family, Mary Jack takes her appointment to the planning and zoning board seriously and needles away at the guarded facts surrounding the hush-hush development.  Undeterred by veiled and overt threats, she relentlessly probes for information.  In the end, Mary Jack is as shocked as the reader will be at what lies beyond the guarded gates of secrecy.

Listen to an except from chapter 11 here.  Magnolia Revealed can be purchased at or

About the author:

Tom is a writer of theological pieces, fiction and poetry.  He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Emory University in Atlanta.  He recently completed a doctorate in Biblical History.  Tom is an educator and an advocate of public scholarship and integrating technology into education.  He is an avid runner.  Tom and his wife travel frequently. 

Reader reviews:

“All the parts are there, a character who is fun and on a serious mission.  That works for me.  I leave the book laughing at Mary Jack's romantic life, and absorbing a great story line.”

“You provide a lot of detail about the small town feel of Magnolia. The nature of the town, part rural/part suburban, seems to make it vulnerable to exploitation. Mary Jack understands that the people in charge are naïve enough to be duped.  She is in a unique position in that she’s a stakeholder in Magnolia who isn’t originally from there.”

“This novel has all the building blocks of a good mystery- an interesting protagonist, a vivid setting and a crime that manifests itself in an unusual way.  The dialogue in this piece is comfortable and gives the reader a flavor of the suburban Atlanta setting without overplaying the southern drawl.”

Magnolia Revealed is an intriguing story about the day-to-day relationships between people and the things one tenacious woman can accomplish.  I just kept on reading until the end, and even then wished these were people who could live next door so I could learn more.”


Hembree Heist, won the Reports Unlimited Children’s Literature Award in 2002.

Mildred V. Rhodes theological essay winner, 1999.

Tet poetry winner for a bilingual poem, Nam Phoung, written in Vietnamese and English, 1996.