Friday, February 22, 2019

J.R. Nicklaus: A Literary Star in the Making

As a reader of many books over the course of the year, I can easily spot a literary star in the making. Find out why J.R. Nicklaus is at the top of the list of my favorites in '09.

In the short amount of time I have known J.W. Nicklaus, it astounds me how much I feel connected to him. It’s not just me. It’s everyone who walks the same path he walks and has read the words that were written by a man who is so literally gifted. You see, J.W. Nicklaus is not a well-known writer in the sense that his book has graced the New York Times bestseller list (give him time), but in the sense that what he writes reads like fine-tuned poetry. Not only do his words stick with you, but they penetrate your inner being – the inner core of your existence.

If you have any doubts of what I say is true, visit his blog at and especially his latest piece of prose, Shine On, Harvest Moon.

It goes, “Our heads fresh off the pillow in the morning, we begin the automatic task of mentally assessing what lies ahead for the day . . . next thing we know, Night has put its hand on Day’s shoulder and our eyes and bodies tell us it’s time for sleep. We hustle through the events of each day, week, month, and year, doing the same thing; living. At some point we all have that epiphany, that feeling that makes us stop and take stock of what all has transpired while we were busy living…”

His writing makes us think. In that one short paragraph, he takes you on a reality check through your own life and helps you to understand that smelling the roses once in awhile is a good thing.

This is exactly what his latest book, The Light, The Dark & Ember Between, is all about. It’s a collection of short stories all tied together under one theme – hope. A very enjoyable, yet deep book, that I would highly recommend to everyone.

I interviewed J.W. to find out more about his book, his writing life, and his publishing journey as part of his virtual book tour, but more so, to try to uncover the secrets behind a literary genius.

Thank you for this interview, J.W. I’d like to start off this interview by asking you how did you come up with such an intriguing title?

J.W.: It wasn't too awfully difficult, actually. Once I finally saw the common thread between them all, I asked myself "What do these stories represent as a collective?" There are a couple light-hearted stories, a couple darker tales, but all of them, in one way or another, tend to convene around the central theme of Hope—that one ember we all keep inside us that would require a very cold heart to extinguish. So you wind up with The Light, The Dark, and Ember Between.

Your stories delve into the reflections of the human condition. Would you like to elaborate?

J.W.: I wasn’t cognizant of this at the time I wrote the stories, but in retrospect I can see they are parables relating to different aspects of life which we all encounter. Some of us are blessed to have others, whether family or friends, to fill our lives with all manner of fulfilling things—not the least of which is love. Others of us try to find those same moments, grasping at fleeting wisps of meaning and emotion, and in many cases fall witness to ashes lying at our feet. Most striking about all of us is our human need to retain hope—not by degrees, but in totality. This collection of short stories is, in many regards, about all of us.

Why did you decide to put together a collection of short stories and how long did it take you to put these together?

J.W.: I had never set out to intentionally publish a collection of short stories. Had I researched the genre before deciding to pursue publishing I might have been dissuaded from doing so. I found it surprising to learn that non-fiction sells far more than fiction. I get that people want to learn more about topics of interest, but I grew up reading almost exclusively fiction. The books we were mandated to read in school and try to glean some literary culture from were fiction. I have a hunch that non-fiction lines like the Idiots Guides and . . . For Dummies series have skewed that market a little. But short stories make up such a tiny fraction of the fiction market that it seems almost unthinkable to toss my hat in the ring. But I didn’t research it, and here I am!

I wrote the stories over a period of years, and every so often would revisit them to see if they withstood the infallible test of time. There some I didn’t include because they didn’t fit the theme, but I was very curious to see how they would be received. Judging by the reviews they’ve been far more warmly welcomed than I ever imagined.

What is the common bond that ties these stories together in your opinion?

J.W.: In one word: Hope. I assure you there’s a lot more to it, but that’s the common thread. It’s a collection of short stories told from various facets of our human need and desire for the slightest shard of Hope. Stories about love lost, love remembered, love taught, and even some of the deeper threads which sometimes unexpectedly tug at our hearts.

I have the book sitting in front of me and I have to say this is one of the most beautiful short story collections I have read and the reason for this being is your writing style. How did you learn to write so beautifully if I might ask?

J.W.: I took an Evelyn Woods Speed Writing course.

Okay, so I made that up. That bit won’t work for everybody because there will be those who’ve never heard of Evelyn Woods’ Speed Reading course that was all over the place back in the 70’s. And honestly, it has nothing to do with my answer—LOL!

I can’t tack this to any book, class, or life lessons. What I can most comfortably say is that it is my voice. Lots of people will say that writing should be done in short, succinct sentences, while others (like John Updike) can write in sentences that run for a full page before they come to a stop, and you don’t really notice due to the beauty of their construction.

I read quite a bit as a child. Mom was always taking me to the public library, and I always liked being in the school library. Something about it felt very assuring. As I got older I began to experience things through the filter of my personality; I was better able to sense things at a different level. For instance, I noticed the night seemed to be much more than dark or a simple absence of daylight — it has a magical feel to it, a quiet romanticism that comes out to play because the night itself conceals flaws which the harsh light of day would expose.

I can tend to be descriptive, perhaps too much so on occasion. But I strive to make proper use of the proper words to paint the best image I can. If I had to boil this answer down to one word it would be observation.

Will you continue to write short stories or do you have plans for something else next?

J.W.: I’ve currently got a short story I’ve been tinkering with and am determined to finish! I will, of course, when it’s ready to be finished. I’ve been giving more and more thought to a novel I started years ago that’s been inert for an ashamedly long time. One of my larger goals for the future is to make a more concerted effort to sit down and simply write. It’s hard to do when you have other responsibilities tugging at your coattails. I’d be thrilled if I could get that finished within the next six months, but I’m not going to rush it.

I'd like to talk about the publishing process. So you put the collection of stories together, what was your next step as far as getting your book published?

J.W.: That took a while. The next step involved sending out the manuscript to publishers and agents. That can be a seemingly never ending prospect. I researched smaller publishers for a while and focused my efforts on submitting to those. Ask most any person who has sought publication for their work and most all of them will tell you they’re looking for a name to latch onto, a big publishing house or big name agent. Nothing wrong with that. I thought I’d take a different approach and simply work on getting my name ‘out there’—something which a smaller publisher could help me achieve.

Would you consider it a smooth process or did you encounter any setbacks?

J.W.: If you go into it expecting a silky smooth ride then you’re in for perhaps the rudest of awakenings. Imagine taking a trip from coast-to-coast in a horse-drawn buggy upon one long cobblestone road. Jarring, to say the least.

I had some mishaps along the way. My manuscript got “lost” at some point, and I went through two editors before finally settling in with the third one. I know what you’re thinking, “He must be a real prima donna!” There were some internal machinations at work with the publisher which caused the cycling of editors. I actually got along very well with all of them.

Point being, expect the unexpected and you won’t be disappointed.

I am so thrilled to interview you today, J.W. Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?

J.W.: The pleasure is indeed my own. I’m grateful for the opportunity to talk with you!

Folks interested in learning a little more about the book can find information at They can purchase a signed copy from me there as well.

I can also be found blogging at Or, if you’re really curious, Google my name and you’ll find plenty of material.

If you’d like to follow J.W.’s virtual book tour in December, click here, and do pick up a copy of his book. It makes a great coffee table book as well as the perfect gift this holiday season.

About the Writer

boomergirl is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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1 comments on J.R. Nicklaus: A Literary Star in the Making

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By boomergirl on November 29, 2009 at 09:20 am

I appreciate that, Askcherlock! He reminds me of a Nicholas Sparks...he's emerging and I really think we'll hear great things about him in the future!

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