Friday, October 19, 2018

#AuthorInterview with Amiee Cabo Nikolov @godisthecure1

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Diane Lunsford is talking with Aimee Cabo Nikolov, author of
Love is the Answer, God is the Cure.
FQ: I’ve often used the catch phrase: ‘You just can’t make this stuff up.’ I lost count of the number of times I reflected on this notion while reading Love is the Answer, God is the Cure.  When did you have your ‘moment’ and make the decision to write your memoir?
NIKOLOV: When I was 15 years old, being already through so much that a nurse at the psychiatric ward I was placed on told me I should write a book, I knew all these years I should write my book but it wasn’t until I played a video rosary through Facebook every day that I got the idea I should write it now, but it wasn’t until much later in time when I was 43 years old. And indeed a lot of different things have happened to me, I don’t even believe it now how I kept going.
FQ: I have a great love for both reading and writing. I find the art of writing to be extremely cathartic at times. Were there moments when you experienced the euphoria of healing when penning your memoir?
NIKOLOV: Yes, I felt proud of myself as U was able to let go as writing was really therapeutic for me. There were moments that were difficult to revisit as I had set aside memories for along time but even more rewarding as I revisited triumphant moments and graces received that changed my life.
FQ: In line with question 2 above, were there moments when you had doubts you would ever publish your story given the gravity of what you experienced?
NIKOLOV: Yes, there were moments I was not sure I can finish the book as I am a very private person, only my husband new all the details of my life and my past. I knew that publishing meant exposing all my secrets to the public, though I believed that truth would set me free. And writing it turned these shameful secretes of mine into vehicle of helping others.
FQ: I am not familiar with the national notoriety your mother and step-father had when the abuse was exposed. I am horrified at what appears to have been a justice system rife with corruption toward what appeared to be the burden of proof to be the responsibility of the victim (you). How did you persevere during those dark times?
NIKOLOV: The police and the media were fooled by my parents. Though it gave me solace that both judges believed me and my stepfather was found guilty of sexually abusing me. What was most hurtful was that my mother chose not to believe me the second time around. I was so busy trying to survive it’s difficult to even have time to think about it, and there is nothing else to do but to move forward. I know that  a man is considered innocent until proven guilty but I had proof which kept the kids away from the parents for 5 years and suspended my fathers license but my stepfather never got help and never went to jail and eventually the system would cave in and return the kids.  I had tape-recorded my stepfather confessing before the caser ended. Which brings to light the significance of the media and false representations there, which kept pressure on the judicial system to eventually return the five youngest kids.
FQ: What are some of your fondest memories of your early childhood in the Dominican Republic? Have you been back as an adult? 
NIKOLOV: My fondest memories are happy times for example riding in a open jeep through festivities and throwing flour at the police singing a chant like the locals would do or any family trips we would have. I only returned to the Dominican Republic the time I meant my husband. Another happy memory is my mother singing to me when I was really young, when she was nice, before she started beating me.
FQ: Your faith is admirable. I am a true believer in not only the strength and power of prayer, but also the notion of the ‘signs’ all around us. I was touched by the inspiration behind your cover design. Was that something that came to you while writing your memoir? You say you were able to ‘...capture that image before the hurricane came...’ Which hurricane? Was the tree lost to the ‘hurricane’?
NIKOLOV: I saw the virgin Mary and son after looking at that area of my tree while praying many times the rosary video from Facebook, which I did daily. That portion of my hundred years old tree was destroyed when it stopped a tornado from devastating our house at the time that Miami was hit by hurricane Irma. Thankfully I had taken a picture before that happened.
FQ: Having been misdiagnosed with bi-polar disease at one point during your counseling journey, how difficult was it to find a counselor you could trust thereafter?
NIKOLOV: I haven’t sought counseling other than reading spiritual posts in Facebook and random signs that I get all the time. That’s what I find therapeutic, other than that my friends are therapeutic too, so I take one day at a time and except whatever comes my way as I come to realize that there are circumstances in life of which one has no control, but we can always control how we react to it.
FQ: I cannot express enough how much courage you portrayed in penning your memoir. I am appalled (and quite disgusted, frankly) at the ignorance and abuse your daughter Danielle’s father (and his wife) bestowed on you for years. I’m curious, does Danielle have any sort of a relationship with either of them today? If so, how is that working out?
NIKOLOV: Danielle has been happily leaving with us for 3 years now and barely has a relationship with her father. It can be sad at times how she struggles for his attention but gets disappointed often. This is not unusual, this has been her story most of her life, her father main objective was to punish me. I left Danielle’s father to leave the abuse but he was able to use the judicial system to continue abusing us both for many years, which took a tall on us both. For someone who truly believes in justice ii is very frustrating how it is possible for somebody to make somebody’s life miserable using the legal system so long as he has money to pay for it. I hope that with my book I can create awareness because something needs to change.
FQ: It’s hard to get my head around the inhumane treatment you endured in your own home growing up. Do you work with advocacy groups against such abuse today? If so, beyond faith, what are some of the words of encouragement you would have for such innocent victims?
NIKOLOV: Faith, hope, perseverance are the words that comes most to mind. Prayer has been the source of strength and my faith in God has been my piece of mind. Love like Jesus is the best advise I can give anyone and live like Jesus. God places special people in your life along the way, he opens doors while others close, he makes the impossible possible again. There are so many blessing in life if you only live with your eyes open instead of walking around with your eyes half closed. I started a radio talk show called “The Cure” locally in Miami for now at 880AM The Bizz, www.880TheBiz.com available online too, every Friday 2 to 3 pm EST, to create awareness and empower others.
FQ: It’s been a pleasure spending time with you today Ms. Nikolov. You are truly an inspiration and a brave human being. I’m hoping you are working on your next book. If so, are you able to share?
NIKOLOV: It was a pleasure answering your questions, Thank you so much for your interests and caring on such on a difficult subject matter. I am aware that it maybe difficult for some people to read, just as it was difficult for my sisters to have a relationship with me until I got married. But I pray that will help those who not only get strength from knowing that they are not alone but Have hope and believe in God’s unconditional love. I don’t consider myself a writer, I never taught writing is my thing, I simply found writing this book the only way to help others.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

#BookReview - Love is the Answer, God is the Cure @godisthecure1

Love is the Answer, God is the Cure

By: Aimee Cabo Nikolov
Publisher: Inspirational Books Publishing
Publication Date: August 2018
ISBN: 978-0-692-15958-3
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: October 15, 2018
Aimee Cabo Nikolov’s memoir, Love is the Answer, God is the Cure, is a story of true grit, courage and impenetrable faith.
Aimee Cabo Nikolov chronicles her life experiences of tragedy, horror and despicable accounts; yet, throughout her memoir, she consistently weaves a sublime and solid insistence of faith and perseverance. Her story begins with memories of happy times as a young child who was born in Miami. A Cuban American, when she was just three years old, she and her three siblings moved to the Dominican Republic with their mother. Perhaps the reason wasn’t a happy one, but it’s what her mother chose to do because she left her husband and their father. While in medical school, the author's mother met three Cuban men. Their names were David, Antonio and Andres. Ms. Nikolov’s recollection of David: “…always nice to all of us, and we liked him… but my mother was not sure about David…” Nikolov didn’t have much to say about Antonio, but then there was Andres. While sitting around the table one evening, her mother presented the question to her children: “…Who should I marry? Andres or David? ...” Nikolov recounts how her siblings immediately pick David because he was ‘the fun one.’ Yet Nikolov felt sorry for Andres and was the only one to vote for him. 
As Nikolov’s memoir gains momentum, it is difficult to imagine there weren’t many times throughout the story that she reflected on that moment of championing her vote for Andres. There are countless instances of blatant and savage abuse—too many to address in a one-page review. Tantamount to Nikolov’s unwavering faith during years of sexual, mental and physical abuse is her analogy: "…a monstrous bull, sent by the devil, came charging at me. Behind me was a small, fragile wooden dog house. I knew the dog house could not stand up against this bull and instead, I decided to kneel in front of it because I knew that if I sought shelter within the house, it would just fall to pieces once the bull charged. I had a lot of faith and I remembered my mother saying, 'If you seek God, He will help you.' So, in my dream, I got down on my knees and asked God to save me. The bull, his nostrils fuming and his large, scary horns, was now coming at me with all his power. I knew my hideout would shatter but I did not give up hope and I prayed fervently. That’s when the bull stopped in front of me and lay down to go to sleep…”
Aimee Cabo Nikolov’s memoir is one of the most disturbing accounts I’ve read in many years. I am in absolute awe of this woman’s tenacious style in capturing the essence through words of how she faced her demons and recounts the horrors of a childhood that was unquestionably ripped from her by her parents. Through graphic and succinct prose, she plants her pen solidly from page to page and shares intimate details of wrongs with unfathomable depth and detail. In my opinion, we are a society drawn to memoirs of iconic Hollywood types or war criminals or psychopathic dregs of society. The fame tied to the subject draws the audience in. Rarely do we hear the story of one of, in my opinion, many innocent unknowns who have been robbed of their youth and left with the burden of physical and emotional scars they must carry the remainder of their lives. I thank Ms. Nikolov for her profound writing in telling her horrific truths. I also commend her for the bravery in doing so. She certainly exposed the monsters who surrounded (and continue to surround) her life through the power of her pen. Exceptional writing!
Quill says: Love is the Answer, God is the Cure is not only an apropos title, but it’s also a beacon of light to shine on how to overcome and cope with egregious tragedies bestowed upon a human life.
For more information on Love is the Answer, God is the Cure, please visit the author's website at: www.godisthecure.com

Thursday, October 11, 2018

#AuthorInterview with Sandra Worsham @seworsham1



Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Barbara Bamberger Scott is talking with Sandra Worsham, author of Patterns: Stories.






FQ: How place-specific (Southern) did you envision these stories to be?
WORSHAM: I intended for these stories to take place in the Southern town of Milledgeville, Georgia, home of Flannery O’Connor and my hometown. It is a real town, of course, but in my mind it is also a fictional town which overlays the real one. Milledgeville was the antebellum capital of Georgia, and the history here is palpable. I grew up in a segregated society, and the first words I learned to read were “white” and “colored.” My life in Milledgeville is a story; no, many stories which I will write and write as long as I live.
FQ: Are there situations depicted that could only happen in the South?
WORSHAM: I believe that, while the characters and settings take place in the South and have a southern flavor, the situations and themes could happen anywhere. Death, loss, jealousy, envy, prejudice—these are not exclusive to the South.
FQ: Was there an intention to weave the same or similar characters into the different stories (example, Lauren)?
WORSHAM: Yes. I hope that these are connected stories, joined by the characters and the place. At the same time, writing one story doesn’t prepare you to write the next, for each story is a different journey, a different way of looking at the same character, the same place.
FQ: You write a lot about death; is this something that has touched you, as it seems, deeply and more than once?
WORSHAM: I believe that loss is the most difficult part of life. I have had many losses in my life, beginning with a favorite aunt when I was in the eighth grade. I remember wondering how one was supposed to act when “going over to the house.” Was I supposed to “look sad”? Children don’t know how to process death. Then the other losses followed, my father when I was a Freshman in college, my mother, my closest friend Teeny, other aunts, and finally, friends my own age. I’ve learned that no one death teaches you to handle the next, for they are all different. You may know that the death is coming, but the loss is always a surprise. Death is something I stare at with wonder and a sense of awe.
FQ: The shoe in the first story injects whimsy into an otherwise sad situation. Where did you get that idea?
WORSHAM: My friends and I actually did pass around the shoe at the time that our friend Carmen was dying with pancreatic cancer. That story is very autobiographical, what you might call a “found” story. I just strengthened the connection between the two.
FQ: You posit a group of female couples bonded like a family in Milledgeville. Is this a kind of camaraderie you have experienced?
WORSHAM: Yes, and we consider ourselves very lucky to have one another. We don’t believe that what we have exists everywhere. When I first “came out” at age sixty-three, I was welcomed into the group. Now my wife Letha and I are part of this group. We meet at a local restaurant every Tuesday, and there are usually 15-20 women there. When someone gets sick, everyone rallies round, giving support. I remember early in my time of being with this group, I thought, “This is like a Baptist Sunday School class!”
My memoir, Going to Wings, published in 2017, is the story of this group, as well as the real losses I have experienced in my life.
FQ: The illustrations are quite striking though non-representational; how did you choose the ”right” one for each story?
WORSHAM: When the publisher saw Letha’s drawings, he immediately wanted them included. I left it up to Letha to match the drawings with the stories, and I think she did fit them together well. Look closer.
FQ: Do you have plans to keep Milledgeville as a setting for future works, as other writers have done successfully (example, William Faulkner with Yoknapatawpha County)?
WORSHAM: Yes, I do, like Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio. Milledgeville is the home of Flannery O’Connor, and I recognize her characters in mine. My head is filled with the fictional Milledgeville and its characters, some of them based on the real Milledgeville and its “characters.” Since I live here, I will never run out of stories.

#BookReview - Patterns: Stories @seworsham1

Patterns: Stories

By: Sandra Worsham
Publisher: Third Lung Press
Publication Date: June 2018
ISBN: 978-0692121481
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: October 10, 2018
Women are the focus of most of the stories in Sandra Worsham’s collection of quiet, astute observations of emotion in action, life resurgent as friends and family pass, ambitions crashed, hopes dashed and hopes rehashed.
The book gets immediate traction with the tale of “The Traveling Shoe,” in which a group of female couples try to evoke smiles as one of their number slowly fades from incurable disease. Her courage and her friends’ ability to make each other laugh give the tragedy a sweet side. In “The Washer’s Husband,” a nice guy named Henry is forced to endure his wife’s obsession with cleanliness that finally leads to her dumping out his small drawer full of cherished objects. When he asks her if she’s going to be washing every day of their life together, he reports, “Her face became a veil.” 
“The Second Mrs. Willis” is a young woman trapped in a loveless, moneyless, boring marriage to her out-of-work former English teacher, whose ennui is contrasted with the religious zeal of the heroine’s stepfather, a self-styled, annoyingly fanatical Preacher. A hairstylist argues with her sister over possession of a mother’s favorite, and only, boy doll, while privately mulling her recent, rather exciting discovery that she likes making love to girls. 
Worsham resides in the town of Milledgeville, Georgia, and has used this as the literal setting for about half of these offerings. Though some of the stories could take place in Anywhere, USA, others are redolent of the southern ambience. In “The Vacuum Cleaner,” the satisfying last long story of the aggregation, Worsham takes an up-close look at Southern culture in the multigenerational relationships among a mother, daughter, and maid, all of whom share admiration for a fancy Hoover. “Esther’s Real People” is a smile-evoking stream-of-consciousness rant written in delightfully southern cadence, from a woman who was sucked into a Mary Kay-type cosmetic sales career, until disillusionment seeped in and she’s back at her supermarket job. Some of the stories are wrapped around an impending death; others revisit the conflicts of a problematic childhood as they are revived in a confused or problem-laden adulthood. There is a sense of purposeful mystery in Worsham’s composition, as some characters seem to inhabit more than one scenario; and there are repeated phrases - notably the plaintive, relationship-baggage-laden query, “Is everything alright? Between us?”
All of Worsham’s stories open and close with complex pen and ink drawings created by her partner, illustrator Letha Hawkins. Worsham has garnered success with her short pieces, published in Chattahoochee Review and Carolina Quarterly among others, and an award-winning memoir, Going to Wings. She has a strong prose sense and the enviable ability to convert a mundane object like a vacuum cleaner, a doll or a shoe into a potent symbol. 
Quill says: This is intelligent, introspective storytelling with some wry and even hilarious moments, centered on real people and their real dreams and fantasies. 
For more information Patterns: Stories, please visit the author's website at: www.sworsham.com.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Feathered Quill #BookAwards

Feathered Quill Book Awards - Have you nominated your book yet? Awards sell books and having an award sticker on your book from a well-respected award program will help your book get noticed. 

"I consider your site to be one of the few where it is a challenge to gain an award. Many sites offer, sometimes, a hundred categories, which is a bit crowded in my opinion." - Michael Kasenow, Author of Something's Bound to Happen, 2017 Gold Winner in the Best Poetry Category

Don't wait! Get your book nominated today. Learn more and nominate at: 

Monday, October 8, 2018

#BookReview - Riding Standing Up @sparrowauthor

Riding Standing Up: A Memoir

By: Sparrow Spaulding
Publisher: Cage Free Publishing
Publication Date: July 2018
ISBN: 978-1732451209
Reviewed by: Lynette Latzko
Review Date: October 7, 2018
By all accounts, Sparrow Spaulding had a wonderful early life filled with a loving and caring family. Unfortunately, it all came to a screeching halt at the tender age of three when she was kidnapped and taken from her mother for over a year. The after effects of this traumatic event followed her throughout her life. 
Author Sparrow Spaulding skillfully pens a raw, no-holds-barred account of her life after her return to her mother, who, despite being a beautiful woman, suffered from a mental illness that left her unable to truly meet the physical and emotional needs of any of her children, including Sparrow. A mother who was more concerned with her numerous husbands, cigarettes and prescription medications than with providing a clean, loving home. Meanwhile, her father, who suffered from his own quirky issues, divorced her mother, and moved onto a new life that included several moves over the years, and a new stepmother for Sparrow and her siblings. Visiting them every summer was also a mix of both negative and positive experiences, that eventually grew to being mostly positive, as Sparrow matured.
What this reader particularly found refreshing while reading Riding Standing Up, is that the author, despite being raised in an obviously dysfunctional family by less than stellar parents (she once compared her family to the Munsters, where she felt like Marilyn, the only normal one), still managed to pull herself up by her bootstraps and persevered. There is no wallowing in self-pity, and the author is not looking for sympathy when she recounts the often horrifying, yet sometimes a bit funny, events in her childhood.
Sparrow Spaulding’s writing is excellent and she is wonderfully adept at recounting the events in her life so vividly that you will feel like you’re experiencing all of her highs, lows, and even the “melty moments” as you follow along. A few readers may get lost somewhere in the middle of this memoir when the author describes the antics of her teenage years, riddled with boys and sex, but this should not dissuade anyone from diving into this memoir and experiencing every chapter. In fact, this book is for everyone, regardless of their own childhood. Even if you had a fairytale experience, you may learn something about someone else’s experiences that you will find inspiring in your current life. Those readers with their own imperfect upbringings will be comforted knowing that, despite living in chaos and drama, you’re not alone and you can successfully move past the hard times and come out, perhaps a bit banged up, but still stronger in the end. 
Quill says: Riding Standing Up is a gritty, coming-of-age memoir filled with bits of love and heartache, but most importantly perseverance.
For more information on Riding Standing Up, please visit the author's website at: www.sparrowspaulding.com

#BookReview - The Last Rhino

The Last Rhino

By: Deborah Stevenson
Illustrated by: Morgan Spicer
Publisher: Frog Prince Books
Publication Date: September 2018
ISBN: 978-1732541047
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: October 2018
Ayubu (pronounced ah-YOO-boo) is a baby rhino living on the African savanna. Under his mother's careful watch, he romps along the open grasslands and plays with friends at the local watering hole. Life is good for Ayubu, but that is all about to change...
While Ayubu plays in the water, it's not just his mother that keeps an eye on him, but also Imari, a cattle egret who removes the insects and ticks from the rhinos' backs. In exchange, the egret alerts the rhinos to danger that he can spot while flying high above the savannah. Ayubu notices that his mother and Imari are always on the lookout for danger, and he quickly learns that they fear not just lions and other carnivores, but also human poachers. 
One evening, while listening to a story about his father and sister (who had been lost to poachers), Ayubu is startled when a herd of springboks come flying by them. "Poachers," screams Imari and they are all instantly on their feet and running for the safety of the brush. A narrow escape from the humans teaches Ayubu to always be on guard but unfortunately, it isn't long before his mother falls victim to the humans' appetite for rhino horns.
The bulk of The Last Rhino follows Ayubu as he grows up without his mother by his side, and shares exploits with his new best friend Raziya, a baby elephant. They go on fun adventures, meet a pair of very goofy monkeys, and even stumble upon a pride of lions. Of course, the presence of poachers is always of concern, and as Ayubu matures, and his horn grows, the danger becomes more pressing. A final showdown, where Ayubu will risk everything to help his dear friend Raziya, brings the story to a final, satisfying ending, and will have children clutching the pages to see what happens...
The Last Rhino is an early-reader chapter book that quickly engages the reader with a fun story. The writing is crisp, the dialogue believable (as long as you are willing to believe that animals talk and play "I Spy"), and the important message about conservation isn't thrust upon the reader but gently becomes a part of the story. The death of Ayubu's mother is handled perfectly, with her falling into a poacher's pit and that is the last we see of her. There are lovely drawings throughout, and on the pages between chapters where there is no text, the publisher has covered the page with a pretty African pattern. Finally, at the back of the book are several informational pages, including a page with proper pronunciation of the African names in the story, fun facts about rhinos, about symbiosis with birds, and what the reader can do to help rhinos. This book is the "total package" for young readers to learn about, and learn to care about, rhinos. 
Quill says: The Last Rhino is an excellent book for young readers who will discover a fun story that also teaches a very important lesson about conservation. After reading this book, they will be inspired to help and armed with the information at the back of the book, they'll know how to get started on their quest to save the rhinos. 
For more information on The Last Rhino, please visit the publisher's website at: www.FrogPrinceBooks.net