Leonard Tillerman | Author, Book Blogger, Book Reviewer
My name is Leonard Tillerman. While I am extremely passionate about writing,the same can be said about reading. There is nothing in this for me other than satisfaction. I never charge for reviews and will never offer a review to someone I know personally. I do not think I would be able to write an honest review if that was the case. In return for my book reviews I achieve satisfaction as..
Undoubtedly, everyone on the planet has felt a little down at times. It is a perfectly natural and normal emotion to experience. However, what if that feeling is magnified multiple times over and permeates every part of our existence? Constantly filled with feelings of self-doubt and a vacant sense of self-worth. Consumed by the loneliness which accompanies isolating one’s self from everyone around them. Unable to break this harmful isolationist pattern as the mere thought of being around others brings with it a sense of fear and dread. If any of this rings a bell, or even if it does not, The Rungs on the Ladder by author Jordan Holt may well be worth a gander.
Essentially, The Rungs on the Ladder is a novella which follows a man as he struggles with overwhelming anxiety and depression. Although there are some flashback scenes and references to the past, it primarily deals with an actual point in time. From the outset the reader is able to follow the protagonist as he seeks to alleviate some of his pain and inner turmoil by taking an evening walk. It is during this stroll that he comes across a group of friends who convince him to tag along with them. What follows is a deep and profound examination of his innermost thoughts. The depth and debilitating nature of his affliction becomes quite clear. However, there is also a ray of hope as the opportunity for love and real change is tantalizingly dangled in front of his face. The question which then arises is whether a life can actually be changed amidst such seemingly impenetrable roadblocks??
Make no mistake, this novella is quite dark for the most part. Indeed, it is a perfect match with the subject matter. There is nothing “light and fluffy” about depression… other than overcoming it that is! As a reader and fellow sufferer of the exact same debilitating condition which is explored in this novella, I was able to relate quite strongly to the tale. The author’s writing is quite poetic and flows beautifully. He also has the uncanny ability to get right into the mind of fellow depression sufferers. For instance, “I feel as if no one expects much from me, though I’ve been around for years.” I would wager that the vast majority of those afflicted with anxiety and depression can absolutely relate to those words. Also, the subtle nuances such as being uniquely sensitive to the look in the eyes of others; intently noticing and becoming mesmerized by dust specks floating in the air; and maintaining absolute knowledge about the variety of cracks in the wall- resonates deeply. I could simply relate to this tale on so many levels.
While the novella is written beautifully, I found myself wanting to know more about the protagonist and the secondary characters. For the most part we get to know them under a very dark cloud. We do see a break in those clouds, but it still does not reveal a lot of key character details which would help further explore and understand the complex subject matter. Also, the dark aspects of the story, such as negative thoughts and substance abuse, could be potentially triggering to some. Be that as it may, I do understand what the author is trying to do, and for the most part it is accomplished. Personally, I just would have enjoyed getting to know the characters better. That can be hard to do in a short novella, but certainly worthwhile.
All in all I quite enjoyed and fully related to The Rungs on the Ladder. It is mature content matter and as such would only be recommended to an adult audience.
Ghost Hunter II: Of Gods and GhostsBy: Martin J. Best
What does a Ghost Hunter actually do? Prevailing opinion would be that they explore supernatural events. In particular, they investigate a wide array of hauntings and paranormal activity. A spooky job to put it mildly! That being said, what happens when you cross a seasoned Ghost Hunter with a mythical God of Warfare? You get one whale of a great story… that’s what! In the novel Ghost Hunter II: Of Gods and Ghosts, by author Martin J. Best, we are able to witness the traditionally eerie job of a Ghost Hunter become increasingly terrifying and precarious. For those who like their paranormal adventures mixed with a strong side of fantastical and exhilarating fantasy… look no further!
This is the third instalment of the ongoing Ghost Hunter series by Martin Best. The reader is happily able to reconnect with Malachi and crew as new challenges and potential opportunities come their way. The story begins with Mal and Carolyn investigating a strange haunting which has thrown the house owners for a loop. However, amidst this investigation, Mal becomes entangled in another case altogether. Camulos, the mythical Pagan God of Warfare has returned to a position of significance on earth as a group of sinister occultists empower him with their energy and sacrifice. The consequences of such a full rebirth would be catastrophic and Mal is recruited by another peculiar occultist, and the police to help and lend his expertise. Together they must ensnare the renegade occultists and prevent the devastation they wish to inflict upon the planet. Do Mal and his group have any real chance of stopping an actual god? Or are things on earth about to seriously change… and not for the better!
This novel really has so many things going for it. The plot is fast moving, perfectly structured and supported by the classic good versus evil theme. I really enjoyed the manner in which the author put forth the two main story ideas running parallel to one another. We have the creepy, intelligent haunting at the Riley home taking place, while at the same time Mal is battling a God! Not only is it engaging and creative, but it really propels Carolyn to the next level in the series. She pretty much takes over the haunting investigation on her own while Teena backs her up in a support role. Also, the paranormal/dark fantasy mix was both intriguing and quite unexpected. Such fantasy elements as magic and mythical beings support the darker theme which is presented in the unique story-world very well. Without a doubt, this is a chilling page turner!
While the plot is both captivating and thrilling- at the core this really remains a character driven series. We see the continual growth of the cast in a number of ways. For instance, although Mal remains the leading character and continues to develop, we are also able to witness Carolyn begin to really come into her own. She has a major role in this book. Further, the caring and loving relationship which exists amongst this new, young family works in perfect juxtaposition to the darker theme which is presented. At the same time we are able to see fresh characters such as Wolfe, who adds a whole new dynamic, being added to the mix. This is something I hope continues to unfold during the next book in the series.
Overall I would give this book my highest recommendation. The thrilling mixture of fantasy with the paranormal aspects works exceedingly well. There are some graphic and adult themes and as such it would be recommended to an adult audience only.
5 out of 5 Godly Stars for this one! *****
About the Author:
Martin J. Best was born in Torquay, Devon, England, in 1965, where he now lives with his wife, Kim. Martin grew up in an actively haunted house, which, he admits, probably accounts for his interest in the paranormal! He has had a varied work life, and spent many years running his own mobile disco business. He now writes full-time in the Paranormal Hard Fantasy genre. When not writing, he is a keen walker, music enthusiast, and ghost hunter.
I was motivated to write my debut novel, Cloud Whispers, after experiencing a near fatal motorcycle accident. After the storm, comes a rainbow…While recovering from the accident, I received ongoing bursts of inspiration and the plot for Cloud Whispers sprang to life.
I was inspired to write the Racing Hearts in Serenity series because I’m a big NASCAR fan…Go Martin Truex Jr and Chase Elliott! Nora’s Promise is the first book in this series; The Perfect Lap, available May 1, is the second, although both can be read as standalone stories.
As an author, it’s my intent to write stories that entertain and inspire. I’m blending traditional women’s fiction and romance with new age spirituality. My novels include romance, conflict, family drama and a sprinkling of thought-provoking concepts like The Law of Attraction, being present, choosing kindness, and non-judgment.
2. What does your typical writing day look like?
Through the week, I write early in the morning when my creativity is the strongest. I often write on one full day over the weekend as well.
3. Do you have a favorite book you have written?
My favorite book is my latest, The Perfect Lap, which will be available for purchase on 5/1. Had you asked me last year, I would have said Nora’s Promise and before that Cloud Whispers. It’s hard to pick a favorite because they’re all labors of love.
The Perfect Lap is the second standalone story in my Racing Hearts in Serenity romance series. I’m especially fond of this story because I grew to love AJ in Nora’s Promise. As I further developed his character, I knew I had to write his story next. You can find more information about this story below.
4. What advice would you give to a new writer just starting out?
Feed your soul. Find balance. Prioritize.
For me (and probably for most authors,) time is precious. One of the most important things I’ve learned over the years is how to say “no.” It’s not selfish, it’s self-care…maybe even self-preservation. I no longer try to do everything, instead I focus on what’s most important at any given moment, like writing.
5. Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you?
Yes—I love interacting with readers and fellow writers! I can be found on Twitter and Instagram @SedonaHutton and Facebook @SedonaHuttonAuthor. I’m also active on Goodreads.
6. How do you handle literary criticism?
I’ll be honest—it can be hard! As authors, we give a piece of ourselves with each story we write. It’s natural to want everyone to love our work.
My stories are a bit different. They include spiritual ideas and new age themes. In Cloud Whispers, Katie spends time in the clouds with her spirit guides. In Nora’s Promise, Nora’s deceased grandfather visits her, and Nora communicates telepathically with her animals. I incorporate spiritual ideas like the Law of Attraction and the power of positive thinking in my stories. Some readers love this, others don’t. I’ve had to learn and accept that my style isn’t for everyone.
With that said, constructive feedback is beneficial. I read every review I receive and take away nuggets of information to help me learn, grow, and enhance my writing.
7. Please describe your writing space?
I have a separate room dedicated to my writing. This room has a large desk with plenty of open space to stimulate creativity, walls covered with inspirational pictures and quotes, and a gorgeous mountain view.
8. Who is your own favorite author? Dead or alive.
There are so many amazing authors that it’s hard to pick just one. Since The Alchemist is my favorite book, I’d have to say Paul Coelho. I love his stories and their inspiring messages. He also pens an incredible, uplifting blog. Coelho’s writing career also inspires me. Coelho initially had The Alchemist published through a small press who ran 900 copies, then decided not to reprint. Over five years later, HarperCollins published the book that went on to sell millions and become an international best seller.
9. What is the most helpful thing to you in this industry?
Interacting with fellow authors. I especially appreciate the active author community on Twitter!
If you had to describe yourself in 3 words…what would they be?
The Perfect Lap will be available for purchase on May 1st.
His job is to drive fast. Hers is to put the brakes on him. When sparks fly, will love cross the finish line? If you like bad boys with a heart of gold, strong women, and love stories with a new age twist, then you’ll adore this fun, sexy tale.
AJ Ryan is a publicity nightmare. After a questionable photo surfaces and his biggest sponsor threatens to pull out, the NASCAR champion admits it might be time to hit the brakes. Thankfully, his new no-nonsense image consultant knows just where to start… too bad she revs his engine so loudly he can barely think straight.
Ella Fisher’s career is a welcome distraction from her poor taste in men. Fresh off another easily avoidable heartbreak, rehabbing AJ’s career is just the diversion she needs. But when the pulse-pounding client actually listens to her advice, Ella wonders if there’s more to the man behind the hot mess.
When Ella is granted guardianship of three boisterous children under the misconception that she and AJ are a couple, AJ surprises her by going along with the charade. Before long they find themselves in a make-shift family that feels more real than pretend.
As their professional relationship takes a hard turn for the personal, a single overheard conversation could make it all go up in flames. Will Ella and AJ’s romance hit the wall, or will love take the checkered flag?
About the Author:
Author Sedona Hutton finds inspiration in the beautiful Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, where she lives with her husband and curly-coated retriever. In addition to writing, she’s a Reiki Master and a certified Chopra Center Meditation instructor. She enjoys reading, yoga, gardening, playing with her dog, and riding motorcycles. Her “Peace, Love, & Joy” blog can be found on her website.
Is there really other life out there? Are we truly alone in this Universe, or is there other life just waiting to be discovered? If so, perhaps we are the ones who are under the microscope. Maybe extraterrestrial beings have been watching us all along without our knowledge. It is certainly an exciting- yet chilling possibility. Indeed, what if this alien race is hostile and looking to conquer and claim a new world? Malice in their hearts and Hell bent upon inflicting utter domination. What would happen to humanity as we know it? Would it lie down and accept its fate…or rise up? In the novel Scavenged by author Scott Arbuckle, we get to see such an intriguing scenario take place first hand. For fans of powerful and captivating Science fiction, this is a must read!
The story takes place in the year 2032. The world as we know it ceases to exist. It has been taken over by an alien race. The humans on the planet are either dead or exist as slaves to serve their masters who are known as the “Greys.” Chaos and outright callousness permeate this new world.
It is in this cruel reality in which we meet Orion Danes. He is a teenager who, after being abducted and experimented upon by the Greys, is given powerful and devastating cybernetic augmentation. No longer an ordinary teenager, Orion is changed into a lethal killing machine. While coming to terms with this new and unwelcome reality, Orion meets a psionic by the name of Lyra, and a hardened resistance fighter called Auriga. This trio bands together to explore this new world, and are determined upon striking a death blow to the Greys. Be that as it may, around every corner lurks a new and horrific danger. They must battle a whole host of foes and find new allies in the process. Does this group really have what it takes to save humanity? Or are they hanging onto something which disappeared a long time ago… with precious little chance of revival.
There can be little doubt that the plot of this novel is super engaging. It contains plenty of action and the pacing is excellent. There are also a plethora of twists and turns which will keep the reader continually guessing and predicting what will come next. It is a hard book to put down. Further, while the story-line is entirely exciting, it is cleverly backed up by the human experience theme of survival. Fighting on and never giving up… despite the overwhelming odds. This captivating theme gives further credibility to the non-stop action which is contained within the pages. All of this takes place in a world built by the author which I would describe as futuristic and dystopian in nature, with a very strong dash of hope!
The three main characters in this story are also well developed and quite believable. This is odd considering that one of them is essentially a cyborg and another a mind-frying psionic. Not the typical people you will run into on a walk down the street! However, their continual growth and interactions are what make these characters so plausible. For instance, the budding romance between Orion and Lyra feels sweet, authentic and genuine. The reader will inevitably be rooting for them. Interestingly, they are presented alongside Auriga who is the quintessential tough guy with a heart of gold. The various players in the novel are both satisfying and plausible.
Scott Arbuckle’s writing has a very nice flow to it. Sometimes it gets tripped up by overly complicated language, but that occurs a very limited number of times and should not distract the reader. The author undoubtedly has a very imaginative mind and that comes shining through in the novel.
I highly recommend this book to all lovers of Science fiction, and to those who love a really good story! There is some violence in it but it is not overly graphic or gory in nature.
5 out of 5 Alluring Stars for this one! *****
About the Author:
Scott Arbuckle was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1981. In elementary school, he wrote many stories and poems, and won a Young Authors award for a fantasy short story. Scott’s favorite subject was English, and he planned to become a writer. In high school and college, Scott studied Theatre Arts and Language Arts, and also developed an interest in fantasy and science-fiction role-playing games, a hobby that stayed with him into his adult years.
Scott now lives in central Kentucky with his wife, London. Together, they enjoy supporting zoos and aquariums while traveling around the eastern United States
Ranker’s Charge: Deliverance at Van Demon’s DeepBy: S.P. Stevens
It is commonly said that the true fiber of a person will be determined by what they do when they face what seem to be impossible odds. Will they run and hide, or stand up and tackle these challenges head on? Indubitably, this is a sure-fire way in which to test an individual’s character. With all of that in mind we can see how Ranker’s Charge: Deliverance at Van Demon’s Deep, by author S.P. Stevens, puts this theory to the test. Readers who are looking to explore such concepts in an epic fantastical world, will fall in love with this novella!
The story takes place in a subterranean world which has been taken over by psychotic savages known as the Unbound. A crack team of soldiers called Rankers are tasked with rescuing a group of miners who have become trapped in the underground lair. However, it is not just the Unbound which this team must face. They also encounter bad magic which is lethal in nature, and a growing dissension amongst their ranks. All of this as the threat of being gassed to death by their commanders up above looms over their heads. Can the Rankers accomplish their task and make it out in time? Or are they doomed to spend an eternity, deep in the depths below?
Make no mistake, this is a very ambitious tale. A great deal of thought and effort has obviously gone into the world-building, character development and plot structure. It is very tight. Also, the theme of camaraderie amidst the life and death struggle for survival is well fleshed out and entirely engaging. The author manages to make you feel as if your are actually on this team of Rankers. You will experience the emotions of anger, fear, and sadness right along with them. All of this as the relentless action and frantic pace of the story continues to suck the reader into this magically epic world.
The main characters in Ranker’s Charge are also quite well developed and interesting. Whether it be the resolute but conflicted Kiprik, or the deceitful and loathsome Padre Brax. They experience a great deal of growth and development within the pages of a rather short novella. Kiprik as the central protagonist develops the most as the story is seen primarily through his perspective. Nevertheless, if there is a character I would like to know more about it would have to be the young boy Erik. He is central to Kiprik’s growth, and thus the story, but i am unable to really get a good “feel” for him. Who is he? What is he? How did he get here? That being said, I am guessing that the author had every intention of making Erik an enigma. To be able to explore him in more depth would be my own personal preference.
S.P. Steven’s writing has a great flow to it and is crisp and easy to read. The mix of action with a very compelling theme worked quite well for this particular reader. If I was to recommend next steps, it would be to explain a few elements in some more depth. For instance, other than Erik, I would also like a little more clarity in regards to the Miasma. It is a critical part of the story and as such more explanation would be useful. That being said, I do realize that this is a prequel for the main series and as such everything cannot yet be revealed. It is certainly a wonderful “taster” of what is yet to come. I will be one of the first lining up for the new S.P. Steven’s novel Bindcrafter: Song of Suns. I would very much like to explore this world further.
This novella gets a solid recommendation from me and is a must read for all epic fantasy fans!
4 out of 5 Rankling Stars for this one! ****
About the Author:
S P Stevens loves music, and podcasts, and makes a good chilli. He has been in bands, worked in the Internet world, and generally been around the block. A confirmed geek, he likes anything techy and other-worldly.
What comes to mind when the term “hard-boiled crime fiction” is uttered? Perhaps visions of Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe or Mike Hammer come alive. Tough, hard-nosed private investigators who will solve a case no matter what. Bound by a personal code of honor which others may neither appreciate nor understand. A unique sense of morality backed up by an acid wit. This will all definitely ring a bell if you have had the good fortune to meet Boss MacTavin in Seattle Red by author Reb MacRath. For lovers of top-notch, hard-boiled crime fiction and gritty detectives, get ready to add the “Boss” to your list of perennial favorites!
Seattle Red is actually the fourth book in the Boss MacTavin Action Mystery series. In this tale, Boss travels to Seattle to take on what should be a quick and easy case. A lone security guard has been slain and Boss has been hired by the guard’s widow to find the killer. However, in typical Reb MacRath style, we soon discover that there is absolutely nothing “simple” about this case!
Upon his arrival Boss MacTavin quickly finds himself up against a ruthless Organized Retail Crime outfit. Their tentacles are everywhere and they are both clever and cold-blooded. Their trademark is also all over this murder case. On a virtual collision course with this syndicate, Boss realizes that the rules of the game have changed. He proceeds to form his own crack team to help him tackle these seemingly overwhelming odds. However, the real question is …which side will ultimately come out on top? Could the fourth book in the Boss MacTavin series inevitably be his last?
There are many aspects to this novel which make it quite exceptional in my opinion. The plot is certainly relentless and there is just non-stop action. Indeed, twists and turns appear around every corner and keep the reader continually guessing about what will come next. Nevertheless, while the exciting and engaging nature of the book is wonderful- it is so much more than that. It is a very intelligently written story as well. For instance, as part of his deal with local law enforcement, Boss is forbidden to carry a gun or weapons and must turn to the world of “alternate toys.” The research that went into this by the author is clearly apparent. Further, this can be seen in the world-building which is done. Real world knowledge is used to create a fantastical setting. It all matches beautifully and sets the stage for the story events. In fact, that seems to be an overriding characteristic of his book. The author knows his stuff and has supported a thrilling novel with the factual knowledge to back it all up!
While the tale is fast-paced and intricate, it also relies upon its various characters a great deal. Trust me, that is not a bad thing as the players in this story are dynamic, believable and full of color to say the least. Written in the first person perspective, we get to know Boss MacTavin quite intimately. His innermost thoughts and motivations are quite clearly laid out. However, it is his interaction with the other characters which allow us to understand them and further appreciate the author’s storytelling ability. Through crisp and snappy dialogue, the acid wit comes out and punches the reader right in the face. The characters are all flawed…which makes them so believable in such a truly escapist novel. Quite the mix! I truly see this series as a perfect fit for the big screen. It has a definite Quentin Tarantino or Guy Ritchie feel to it. Wild and avant garde.
I typically have a few points in all of my book reviews suggesting next steps for a novel. I would not touch this one however. To do so would wipe away the magic. There are many mature themes in it and as such I would recommend it solely to an adult audience.
5 out of 5 Hard-Boiled Stars for this one! *****
About the Author:
My first novel, THE SUITING, won a Stoker Award and has been called one of the world’s 100 most influential horror novels. Under the pen name Kelley Wilde, I published three more horror novels before turning to mystery/suspense. I had something bigger in mind, though, than simply changing genres. I hoped to reinvent myself. And to do that, I’d draw on the lessons I’d learned in those four published novels. I’d also channel what I’d learned as a copywriter: pith, speed and razzmatazz.
To get myself in an adventuresome mood, I moved cross-country to Seattle. Here I tend to my new mustache and write the sort of books I like to read. If you like a smooth fusion of style and suspense, along with some laughs on the way, here they are. 1) The Boss MacTavin series: four action mysteries with the world’s first Southern Scot. 2) The Fast and Furies series: five suspense tales of souls on the run from karma. 3) The Kelley Wilde horror novels: revised and edited.
What is evil? The answer to that question has an awful lot to do with perspective. What some people consider to be evil, others see as heroic. With that thought in mind, have you ever wondered if there is a capacity for all of us to engage in dark and lurid conduct? It can certainly be argued that nobody begins life with evil in their heart. It is a conditioned behavior. We all rely upon one another in some fashion, and when it all goes sideways… so do our actions. Pretty controversial and thought-provoking stuff! In her book All Roads Shattered, author Lisa Diaz Meyer explores such a human dynamic. This is a must read for all lovers of intelligent and fascinating prose- which will take you deep into the inner depths and disturbing psyche of the human mind!
Essentially, All Roads Shattered is the third book in Lisa Diaz Meyer’s All Roads collection. It includes two short story sagas, twelve macabre poems and five multi-genre dark fiction stories.
The two sagas are entitled “Outpost III” and “People of Gods.” The former is a continuation of the Outposts saga which appears in Meyer’s previous work. It is a dark, dystopian Science Fiction tale which picks up where the previous installment left off. The latter is similar in the sense that it is another great piece of Science Fiction. However, it is more than this. It inexplicably studies the human experience. In this particular case, what actually happens when a particular group is persecuted to the point of virtual extinction. How far will individuals go to maintain their own quality of life? Would this include turning on those who are closest to them? We all may have this in us depending upon the conditions. Considering the countless analogous circumstances throughout the history of human civilization… this is a haunting story indeed!
The two sagas which Meyer includes in her impressive anthology would have been more than enough to ensnare this particular reader’s complete engagement. Nevertheless, she is by no means finished. The book also includes a number of macabre poems and various pieces of dark fiction. I personally find these to be the strongest and most gripping segments of the entire collection. The term “macabre” does not even do them justice. It is more like soul-sucking! For instance, I absolutely loved the tragic and forlorn nature of the Graveyard poem. Life certainly has a way of sneaking up on you, and none of us are immune to its clutches. Further, the five stories in the Enduring and Oddities collections were horrifyingly delightful! For example, while “Helge” is frightening and gruesome, The Clearing is equally fearsome and utterly harrowing-yet heartbreaking,
There is no question that the plotting and overall theme of these stories is superb. The reader has no choice but to become engrossed and entirely emotionally invested in the work. The human condition is explored, but in a way which makes us question ourselves. These are not particularly heroic or nefarious characters. Indeed… they are us. Living each day the best we can and depending upon other people for what we need. What happens when it all goes astray? Read on and find out! The irony and paradoxical nature of this anthology is brilliant!
While the plot and overall theme of these stories are captivating, the characters and world building are enthralling as well. The various players are complex and grow a great deal throughout the pages. As readers (and human beings), we cannot help but feel akin to their various plights and emotions. Even the horrific doctor in “Helge” will inspire some form of sympathy and understanding…despite the overall feeling of repugnancy. How is that possible considering his evil and gruesome deeds? The answer to this question is provided by Meyer herself. She cleverly provides pertinent background, detail an ample growth in her characters so that the reader can easily identify with them. Character development at its best!
There is little doubt that this is a top-notch anthology. Meyer’s pen has a poetic flow and her writing is morbidly beautiful. Everything is supported by a creepy and well fleshed out setting. This lets the reader easily visualize and become lost in the worlds which Meyer has created.
I give this anthology my highest recommendation. There are dark and graphic scenes so be forewarned. As such I recommend it only to adult readers.
5 out of 5 Ghastly Stars for this one! *****
About the Author:
ALL ROADS HOME, ALL ROADS DESTINED and ALL ROADS SHATTERED are Long Island author, Lisa Diaz Meyer’s current works of multi-genre, dark fiction short stories, poems and plays. The author, poet, playwright uses several controversial topics and awarenesses in her collection of speculative fiction. She has received 5 Star Reviews for all three of her books from Readers Favorite and Literary Titan, including Literary Titan’s Gold Book Award for each. For her book ALL ROADS DESTINED, she was nominated for a 2017 CIPA EVVY award and also received a New Apple Official Selection in Poetry 2017. She hails from Nassau County’s south shore.
If you’re writing short stories, poems, essays, or stand-alone novel excerpts, you should be submitting these in order to publish in small magazines, or literary journals. Once you have accrued some solid publications, this gives you a bit of clout when writing to agents, editors and publishers on behalf of a larger body of work. You can then query for a novel, a collection of short stories or poems. Always include an Author Bio, where you can mention the publications.
When I was writing and submitting poetry, I’d send out poems to many different venues: literary magazines, newspapers, journals in print and online magazines. I circulated twelve to twenty (12-20) pieces each week, submitting usually on a Friday. I found sticking to one day, made it mandatory and easy to remember. If any of these submissions got rejected, I’d look them over, perhaps change a thing or two, or maybe nothing, but I made sure those poems went out to a new and different place the following week.
In days of yore, before it was so easy to email and attach a file, I was mailing out envelopes popping at the seams with my poems. If they came back to me rejected, I’d simply put them in a new envelope to send out if the papers weren’t shopworn, or if they were, I’d retype a fresh copy and mail again. These always included a SASE inside (stamped, self-addressed envelope for return), and always with a brief cover letter.
The selection of whom or what to publish is very subjective—you may come across an editor who simply falls in love with your writing, or others who’ll say, Nice try, don’t quit your day job. This kind of editor is not for you, so keep sending out until you find the right one (s).
When I had a good number of accepted poems, I’d put them by category into a folder or a computer file. Next, I added new poems to these already published ones to complete a theme. I would then take these themed poems and make them into a small chapbook of twenty-four to forty (24-40) pages or a complete collection of sixty to eighty (60-80) pages or more. I would then include what I called the book’s beginning pages: title page, contents page, acknowledgments page, dedication page and an “About the Author” page—basically the bio. This last page contained any pertinent information concerning publications, appearances, seminars, workshops, or conferences I’d either taught at or attended.
I love dedicating books! The same goes for writing an “Acknowledgements” page. It gives you a chance to thank or acknowledge many people—not just family and friends, but editors, professors, etc. Then, I’d send out to a few poetry contests—not many because they’re expensive. Even if the entry fee is basically cheap, they still add up! I didn’t win any contests for my poetry, mostly because I rarely sent out to many contests. Instead I used my money to buy more poetry collections to study and examine. I did win one contest which had no fee—Graduate Poetry one year at FIU while on the road to completing my MFA in Creative Writing. The award was for one of my best poems: “The Crucifixion of Garlic,” which is in my first poetry collection, Cooking Lessons, and still available on Amazon!
I preferred sending to small, independent publishers. I was fortunate to finish five complete collections and two poetry chapbooks and have all of them published with small, independent publishers. When I knew the collection was going to be published, I’d begin asking poets and writers for blurbs. Networking at Writing Conferences, in Workshops, and at Readings, always paid off. Talk to other authors. I met the incredible poet Jim Daniels at a writing conference, and had the chutzpah to ask him if he’d read my current collection to blurb it. Generous and accessible as he is, he agreed. He has blurbed two of my poetry books! Marketing these published collections was a completely different matter and subject for another blog altogether.
However, poetry is not fiction. I wrote a great many short stories on the way to writing my novels. Some of these stories were published, and some still languish in drawers, or on in computer files and beckon me from time to time! I had my collection of short stories, always difficult to place, accepted by Kitsune Books, but sadly the wonderful owner/editor Anne Petty passed away. I subsequently published The Other Side of the Gates with Bridle Path Press.
I had an agent for my first novel but without success of placing it with a publisher. I decided to take back the novel and write another one—the prequel. After receiving dozens of beautiful rejection letters, despite the fact that I was often told my query letter was great, I realized I was batting my head against a proverbial stone wall trying to “hook” an agent, so I decided on a different approach. I now could teach a course in writing query letters.
When it came to my novels, I wanted to pursue the traditional route and not self-publish. I skipped the agonizing, grueling querying to agents and started submitting to small, independent publishers. I found three in the category where my novels would fit best—historical romance. I selected these publishers in a list of one hundred of the best for novels, and sent to them. Luckily, I hit with the first one I’d sent to, Turner Publishing. If I hadn’t been accepted, it was my intention to query every single solitary one that I’d marked on that list.
Determination and persistence is the name of the game. I published the Wayfarer Trilogy with Turner—three novels: The Secret Language of Women, Lemon Blossoms, and In America. All of these novels finished as Finalists in various Book Contests, and the first one won an Independent Publishers IPPY gold medal.
One would think this would open doors, but accolades and bling on your past published books, doesn’t give you a free pass to place a new novel with the same publishing company. Keep submitting. If the novel isn’t accepted, try someplace else. I did it, and you can, too! Send your novels to book contests—because if you’re meant to be a winner, you have to submit! Send queries to agents and publishing houses. The important thing is to write numerous queries and submit your work! It took me eighty-four query letters to secure that literary agent!
Or else you can decide to self-publish like these famous authors did: E.L James, Beatrix Potter, E.E.Commings, Stephen King, Mark Twain, Virginia Wolf, Rudyard Kipling, Gertrude Stein, Anais Nin, Stephen crane, Walt Whitman, Alexander Dumas, George Bernard Shaw, Upton Sinclair, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and Henry David Thoreau, to name but a few.
I queried several small, independent traditional publishers for my latest novel, The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley. I received several acceptances for an E-book only, but I wanted a print copy as well. You can’t sell an E-book at a Workshop or to a Book Club, or at a Reading or a Signing! I signed with Prairie Rose Publications because they gave me the deal I wanted.
You can publish on blogs—yours and other people’s as a guest blogger. Writers have turned their blogs into books! There’s a blog on your author page of Goodreads, and there’s an “About the Author” page on Amazon. If you look hard enough, you’ll find many other places to market yourself and your titles, or at least write about yourself and what you love doing: writing. The point is if you want to see your words in print remember: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” and “Seek until you find!”
Here’s a quote from James W. Hall, “Master of Suspense” and the Thorn Mystery Series. On the last day of a writing workshop at FIU, he said, “There are dozens of better writers than me, I just stuck with it.” Thanks, Jim, your words have served me well!
Here it is short and bittersweet: perseverance and tenacity are key and almost as important as the writing itself.
Nina Romano earned a BS from Ithaca College, an M.A. from Adelphi University and a BA and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from FIU. She’s a world traveler and lover of history. She lived in Rome, Italy, for twenty years, and is fluent in Italian and Spanish. She has authored a short story collection, The Other Side of the Gates, and has published five poetry collections and two poetry chapbooks with independent publishers. She co-authored Writing in a Changing World. Romano has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry.
Nina Romano’s historical Wayfarer Trilogy has been published from Turner Publishing. The Secret Language of Women, Book #1, was a Foreword Reviews Book Award Finalist and Gold Medal winner of the Independent Publisher’s 2016 IPPY Book Award. Lemon Blossoms, Book # 2, was a Foreword Reviews Book Award Finalist, and In America, Book #3, was a finalist in Chanticleer Media’s Chatelaine Book Awards.
The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley has recently been released from Prairie Rose Publications
Love is the Answer, God is the Cure: A True Story of Abuse, Betrayal and Unconditional LoveBy Aimee Cabo Nikolov
What exactly is it which helps people to persevere through dark and challenging times? When the world seems as if it is upside down and filled with absolute anguish and grief. This situation will drive many people to their knees, with no hope of ever getting back up again. However, there are others who will not only rise- but actually grow stronger. With all the odds stacked against them, they still manage to survive and thrive. Instead of succumbing and capitulating to the heartbreaking circumstances, they do the exact opposite. In her book Love is the Answer, God is the Cure, Aimee Cabo Nikolov provides a virtual case study for just such a scenario. For those readers who may be seeking an inspirational read which explores the power of love and faith… this could very well be the book for you!
The main body of the memoir is focused upon the trials and tribulations of the author, Aimee Cabo Nikolov. She shares the main events of her life in a frank, open and very intense fashion. It is a graphic and raw account of her life which is seen through her own eyes.
The memoir opens on a highly-spirited note as Aimee meets her eventual husband while on a holiday. He is the epitome of everything which the other significant males in her life have not been to this point…kind, understanding and respectful. This loving relationship is juxtaposed with the dark and horrific reality of her past. Having experienced childhood sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather and the other various men in her life, Aimee finds herself fighting her parents in a highly publicized court battle. Denying all culpability, her parents try everything they can to depict Aimee as troubled and unstable. This is truly the nightmare of any abuse survivor as Aimee is virtually forced to relive her tortuous experiences.
Nevertheless, her difficulties do not end there. She also had to manage poverty, drug addiction, abuse and a very nasty custody battle over her daughter with an estranged ex-husband. Add to all of this the fact that Aimee had to work as an escort to survive, and almost saw her daughter murdered by a tenant, and you are able to perceive the true depth and appalling nature of the obstacles she has struggled to overcome. The question which then arises is how can one person possibly hope to survive such struggles and persevere through what appear to be insurmountable odds? In truth, that is really what this memoir is all about.
Throughout all of the turmoil which Aimee had to endure, it has been her faith in God which has seen her through. That has been the great equalizer. As an illustration of the true depth of her belief, each chapter in the book begins with a prayer. This certainly helps the reader understand how someone can undergo such a tragic and excruciatingly painful experience and still be able to see the positive and beauty in life. This is a very powerful message which will certainly resonate with the vast majority of readers.
The writing in the book is also quite crisp and clear. Apart from the actual subject matter, it is a relatively easy read as the ideas flow into one another quite well. There is also a great balance of despair and faith. As readers, we are able to feel Aimee’s pain along with her- but also get to experience her new sense of hope and joy. This balance works exceedingly well and helps to keep the reader glued to the pages.
Since this book is written in the first-person, we get to know the various characters through Aimee’s eyes. This in turn means that our understanding and view of many different individuals is pretty much in line with the author’s perspective. It could certainly be argued that this in turn generates somewhat flat and unreliable characters. However, the nature of a personal memoir is to get into the author’s mind in order to better understand their motivations, perceptions, thoughts and emotions. I believe this to be exceptionally well done in this book as it all appears to be authentic, genuine and quite raw. Aimee Cabo Nikolov did not hold anything back in this book!
Overall I enjoyed this memoir immensely. I found it to be heart-wrenching… yet very inspirational. My hope is that it provides further healing to a very strong woman, and also hope to many others who may be suffering under similar circumstances. I highly recommend this book to adult audiences only as there are some very graphic scenes.
5 out of 5 Inspirational Stars for this one! *****
About the Author:
Aimee Cabo’s life is a testament to the power of honesty, love, and belief. At age 15, Aimee was part of what the Miami media dubbed “The Case from Hell”—a sexual abuse case that pitted her parents against Aimee and her sister. To this day, Aimee credits her faith in God and the love of her support network for getting her through.
When we throw out the term “pioneer expeditions” our minds typically drift to the discovery and settlement of new lands on Earth. Human beings have always been drawn to discovering and settling new and unknown areas. However, such lands are commonly fraught with inherent dangers of their own. From harsh natural conditions to indigenous people who do not take kindly to the arrival and intended settlement by outsiders on their land and in turn use up all their resources. Be that as it may, what actually happens when human beings have finally exhausted the natural resources on planet Earth? Like parasites with nothing left to feed on. At that point, pioneer expeditions will reach far beyond the confines of Earth. They will involve other planets and these adventures will come with many dangers of their own. Literally back to square one in the quest to conquer frontier lands. In his novel Spacewrecked on Venus, author Neil R. Jones presents just such a scenario. Science fiction lovers may just want to give this thought provoking short story a whirl.
The story revolves around the escapades of the crew and passengers aboard a spaceship travelling to a new settlement on Venus. When the ship unexpectedly experiences mechanical difficulty, everyone has to escape in an emergency cylinder. The main ship proceeds to crash land on the surface of Venus. Captain Cragley and his crew soon discover that this was no innocent crash. There is ample evidence of sabotage and it is either some of the passengers or crew members who are responsible. There is also very little doubt about the fact that it is the cargo of platinum bars which they are after. What follows is a veritable race against time. Cragley must not only determine who is responsible… but ultimately get his group to safety before the criminals behind the sabotage show up to claim the bounty… and their lives!
I found the main theme of this story to be quite engaging. The idea of opening up brand new worlds as space pioneers is not entirely unique, but is always full of intrigue and excitement. This tale was no different. There is plenty of action, imagination and scientific elements which are contained within the pages. I consider it to be a pretty good educated guess as to what settlement on new planets would actually look like. A brand new world order for sure! The author also manages to capture and retain the interest of the reader by including some good literary techniques such as the surprise ending. I was able to guess the conclusion beforehand, but such an accurate prediction meant that I was actively engaged in the story.
I did find the characters in this story to be a little flat however. Perhaps that is due to the short length of the tale. Not enough description or background knowledge about the players was provided for the reader to get invested in their plight. Also, a little more access to their thoughts and intrinsic motivations …without giving away the mystery… would have built up more character engagement. In truth, I finished the story without feeling as if I really got to know any of the primary characters.
Overall, I found this to be an enjoyable story to read. Nevertheless, with some further enhancements and development it could have been even better!
3 out of 5 Space Pioneering Stars for this one! ***