Words have a power few things do.
Words can transcend, words can evoke, words can speak for voices long removed from our time. When the right words meet the right soul they resonate as little else can to leave a lasting impact upon a life.
Such is my purpose, indeed, my solitary wish for my collection of short stories The Light, The Dark, and Ember Retween. Fifteen modern tales of hope whispered upon the hearts and lips of people from diverse situations; each a reflection of the human condition, firmly centered upon our oft tenuous, sometimes tensile bond with Hope, and careening flirtations with Love.
The mythology of the ancient Greeks spins entire skeins of yarn about such characters as Cupid and Psyche, Orpheus and Eurydice, Odysseus and Penelope. These very tales carefully weave the divine with the mortal, the heart with the mind. Is this not true of our species as a whole, not only now but also through the pallid mists of time?
Between the covers of The Light, The Dark, and Ember Retween are a series of such stories, from the wispy fog of a love lost at sea (Emissary) to an orphaned child who delivers a present of her own during a war-torn Christmas (Winter Rose); from the biting cold of an early November in Montana (Requiem For Linny) to the uncertainty of a diner in the dead of night (One Washington Diner). A good story derives its power from the heart of its characters and their ability to connect without any tangible means to do so—they come alive only because you believe in them.
If I've done my job properly, the stories may just remind each of us of what it is to be human, and certainly of our affinity for the slightest glint of Hope.
I am very pleased to have had Harlequin author Carrie Weaver write my Foreword. Click on the book cover if you'd like to read it!
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Reader acclaim for The Light, The Dark and Ember Between:
Reviews preceded by star ratings are from Amazon.com.
"Encompassing great imagery and sympathetic characters, these stories are elegiac and thoughtful, subtly witty, gently tragic, sometimes cerebral or even delicately existential. A sure enough student of human nature and interactions, his keen observations are reflected in this enjoyable collection. A narrative cache full of invariable surprises, these forever hopeful stories will surely bring a smile; not only entertaining, but good parables for us all to reflect upon."
"Heart wrenching tales of love lost, and how our memories oft times give us the strength to move forward with our lives. They will pull you in and, perhaps, cause fond remembrance about a lost loved one. Keep a tissue close by."
"J.W. Nicklaus is a masterful storyteller, one whose work shows a depth seldom found among writers today. These stories are masterfully imbued with poignant insight, and a smooth, silky narration that permeates like incense. The struggles and triumphs of rich-in-dimension characters reflect the common thread of the human condition – one that J.W. weaves throughout these stories like an artisan weaves a gilded strand throughout a tapestry. "
"J.W. Nicklaus . . . has written a fantastic array of stories that reminds me of the works of Nicholas Sparks. [He] shines as each word is tempered with deep feeling and unabashed emotion."
"I found myself rereading whole paragraphs to just soak in the imagery again and again.
"I read [Nicklaus's] recent book, “The Light, The Dark and The Ember In Between,” and deduced that he didn’t “write it” as much as he approached the keyboard, sat down, and simply opened an artery.
“The Light, The Dark, & Ember Between is beautifully written, and is an uplifting, thoughtful, intelligent, and heartfelt collection of short stories. Fifteen stories in all, each is so very different and from different points of view. All of the stories bring the message of hope to the reader. This is a book that lives up to what it promise – the message of hope as the “Ember Between.”
I have to say that this book came to me at just the right time. I needed to read it because it reminded me that hope doesn’t just happen. We have to keep our eyes open and watch for it. This is a lovely book that I recommend for personal reading or as a wonderful gift.
~Linda Brandau, BookVisions.blogspot.com
"These fifteen short stories are not your typical angst-ridden fare. These are lovely stories of hope and love and how the choices we make in life really do make a difference. My personal favorite was "Streetlamp" a lovely, evocative story of love and longing."
“ . . .I thought each story would be about lost love, but each would end with hope. I saw different types of love, not romantic love but hopeful love, destructive love, caring love, helpful love, and love for country. All of these touched me in some way . . .some made me hopeful, especially Emissary. And then there was One Washington Diner, which spoke to my heart. (4 out of 5 stars: I loved it)”
“Prepare to be run through a gamut of emotions with these stories. You will smile, you will laugh, you will cry, you will be on edge. I recommend this book and these stories to anyone who has ever loved and lost, had true love, or just wants to read some good love stories. You will not be disappointed.”
“An enchanting collection of short stories . . .haunting, touching . . . all of them filled with vivid descriptions. The title is very fitting for the collection.”
“The stories in Between are very well written with the characterization of John Steinbeck and the restlessness of Ernest Hemingway. Nicklaus also has the ability to keep his readers thinking, even after a story has granted its last words to the reader as seen in the ending of "Broken," where even a well read participant will be left in wonder.”
“Short, but filled with wonderful glimpses of lives . . . the last, “Winter Rose” is just an incredibly sweet, touching story, reminding us that love blooms in different shades and sometimes in the harshest conditions.
“A book that really makes you feel things directly from the heart . . . a book to read alone so you can really absorb the words and get the full meaning behind each story…and each story is chock full of meaning."
~Sheila DeChantal, BookJourney.wordpress.com Read full review here
“There is a little drama, humor, romance, and more in this book. I enjoyed reading it during a conference when the topics did not interest me as much as the book did! I found it hard to put the book down at times because the stories were so captivating.
I would recommend this book to anyone . . . looking for some inspiration, a "feel good" story, or who is just looking for a quick read while at a conference, the doctor's office, or where ever else the world might take you."
~Julie Johnson, Molcoltw.blogspot.com Read full review here
"Explore your human emotions as you read each of his stories. I personally enjoyed giggling while I read “Elevator Shoes” and “Short Attention Span”. Then of course Nicklaus had me sighing in awe after reading “Paper Doll”.
"I confess: I generally prefer the depth of a novel to the quicker pace of short stories. [This] collection, "The Light, the Dark, and Ember Between," proves a delightful read, however, and may make me more likely to opt for short story compilations in the future. The stories all have intriguing plots, believable dialogue, and beautifully descriptive . . . prose."
"Beautifully poetic and breathtakingly real . . . how can one not help but fall in love with the delightfully poetic tone and voice of this author."
"J.W. Nicklaus is a wonderful writer. His words are fluid and lyric and full of beautiful vivid descriptions, the kinds that [compel] you to re-read paragraphs because the words were beautiful. I encourage everyone to get their hands on this book as soon as they can."
"J.W. Nicklaus should be applauded for his in-depth study into the human psyche . . . This is a very inspiring read for anyone who likes to think outside the box. No two stories are alike and I urge the reader to strongly consider this challenging adventure."
"What is chorused more than anything else is Nicklaus’s magical word-weaving. He is, by most accounts, a highly poetical wordsmith. With that being the case, his collection of short stories, The Light, The Dark & Ember Between should be the best place to find proof of it."
"Short stories usually leave me cold. I guess I am one of those readers that loves to really get into a big, thick book and who enjoys getting to know the characters through their gradual development and situations that they find themselves in. This kind of a development and depth tend to be lacking in most short stories, therefore I usually do not pick them up. In the case of “The Light, the Dark, and Ember Between” by J.W. Nicklaus, I am certainly glad that I went against my self-imposed rule.
The Light, the Dark, and Ember Between contains fifteen stories, fifteen perfectly drawn worlds, although we get to see most of them only during a short glimpse. Most of them bittersweet, but filled with light, hope and love, they lead the readers into a series of worlds both alike and very different from their own. J. W. Nicklaus has a gift of making the ordinary appear exquisitely extraordinary, and to make us take the second and oftentimes the third look at something small and seemingly insignificant. His characters come alive, their actions and reactions are well grounded and believable, yet still astonishing. His writing is precise, yet playful and sparkly.
The Light, the Dark, and Ember Between is the kind of a book one should keep by the bedside or maybe in the car for those moments when we need a little lifting of our spirits, or just a slight boost to our day. Each of the stories is precious, and each is different. And every single one will remind you of the universal truth, taught in my favorite of those fifteen, “Paper Doll” – ‘Love is the reason you’ll never be alone.’
~Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson, Reader Views
There are authors who are well-known for their short stories – Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, O. Henry, even John Steinbeck – and all are admired for their mastery of spinning a tale of brilliantly strung-together words. This acclaimed group can now count another author among their ranks – J.W. Nicklaus.
J.W. Nicklaus is a word artist. He paints mental pictures with lyrical prose. The Light, The Dark & Ember Between is a collection of 15 short stories whose concurrent theme centers on finding hope in death. Nicklaus’ writing is dense with meaning. It is not trivial, light reading. His sentences are filled with complexity in a style that encourages the reader to slow down and savor each word.