Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Welcome, Vanessa de Largie!



Don’t Hit Me!


Australian actr51g8QOScbEL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_ess and author Vanessa de Largie is a survivor of domestic violence.

Don’t Hit Me is the true diarised account of her time living with an abusive man. The story is conveyed through poems, journal entries and fragments of lyrical prose. The book is a snapshot of domestic violence in real time. Raw, poignant and brave – it’s a tale that will stay with you.

*What People Are Saying About It*


#1 Amazon Bestseller

# Winner of the 2014 Global eBook Award Bronze (women’s studies)

# Winner of the 2014 Honourable Mention Award London Book Festival (memoir)

# Five-Star Review Midwest Book Review

# Five-Star Review San Francisco Book Review

# Five-Star Review #1 Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer – UK

# 3 out of 4 stars Official Online Bookclub

*Where To Buy*




*About The Author*




Vanessa de Largie is a multi-award-winning actress and author basedin Australia.  Her most recent book ‘Don’t Hit Me!‘  is a  book about her journey through domestic violence.  The narrative is conveyed through journal entries and fragments of lyrical prose.


*Author Website*

Book Cover

Welcome, Robert Uttaro!

We’re excited to welcome Robert Uttaro to the Highlighted Author. After many years working as a rape crisis counselor, he was inspired to write about his journey — the countless horrors, the endless battles, and the priceless victories. This is not a book for the faint of heart, but one for those who believe in triumph over the toughest obstacles and redemption from the deepest, darkest places. Enjoy the feature!

—Jo Grafford, Highlighted Author Co-Hostess

To the Survivors

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One Man’s Journey as Rape Crisis Counselor with True Stories of Sexual Violence. 


Here is a list, God, of everything I’m never forgetting.

Burns on her legs.

Impressions of his hands around her neck.

The all over purple-ly skin.

She can not

will not

can not

will not

can not

will not do the internal part of that effing kit, no.

(I hang back in the waiting room as they implore her for hours and pray they will…oh-my-god…stop raping.)

She can not

will not

can not

will not

can not

will not

can not

will not say his name, no. 

(She gives up, writes alphabet letters only kind of true; no matter love, I understand you.)

A 72-hour psych hold.

Cops and detectives.

My brother-in-law in rare tears the morning not-one-of-us-slept after.

Silence all these years.

And the prize for speaking? A brand new horror show.

Doesn’t seem worth it now or ever.

She never feels clean.

She’ll never.

Not after a hundred hospital showers.

Her fear of the past.

Her fear of today.

Her fear of tomorrow and every hour before and after this moment.

The questions.

The shaking.

The stares of strangers and remembering when.

(I’m struggling not to vomit. We’re trying not to live this.)

“Can they see it on me?” She wonders like before.

“Why can’t they see it, the secret I can’t say?”

She says prayers, but not like the ones she prays when he comes home to decide, “I miss your mother” and “You know, you’re so pretty.”

Try again. I see a light in the sky.

Your heart is broken.

My heart is broken.

Our heart is bro-ken. 

(But… try them again.)

-A poem Jenee wrote in response to visiting her friend in the hospital who was beaten, choked, burned, and raped.

I never thought I would volunteer at a rape crisis center. I always knew rape and sexual assault existed, but for most of my life I did not seriously consider ways in which I could help those affected by sexual violence. I could not imagine that a large number of people actually experience such an evil and detrimental horror as rape is, but unfortunately many do. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would help play a positive role in the healing process of rape and sexual assault survivors, educate people, and be active in the fight against sexual violence, but often times our lives go in different directions than we plan or expect.

Sexual violence is very complex. Given that, I will not speak for every human being who has been affected by this crime. This book is by no means a blue print of how all rapes and sexual assaults occur, nor will I tell you how to feel. I do not have all of the answers to the many difficult questions that arise when discussing sexual violence, and I obviously do not know everyone who has experienced sexual violence. This book is about my experiences as a rape crisis counselor and the survivors I have met who felt strong enough and comfortable enough to share their stories with me and you. I have my opinions and ideas about different aspects of sexual violence, but neither I nor the people you will soon meet speak for humanity. Everyone’s story is his or her own. Everyone’s story is different. Growth and healing is different for everyone.

Sexual violence is not only a violent crime, but it is also a serious health issue. It affects people’s bodies, minds, hearts, and souls. I do not wish to name anyone’s experiences or claim knowledge of all the effects people may feel as a result of sexual violence, but I do know some things. I have learned that many survivors of sexual violence feel shame. Shame directly causes a variety of negative health issues, including mentalities about one’s self and behaviors. I hope to attempt to alleviate some of that shame through this book.

I have always cared about people and the world we all live in. As long as I can remember, I have been intrigued by the complexities of the human experience and questioned what it means to be human. It is fascinating to me that some people are happy, fulfilled, or loving, while others are unhappy, unfulfilled, or hateful. Even as a young boy, I questioned, Why is there so much hatred and violence in the world? Why do some people hate other people? Why do some people hurt other people? Why do some people rape other people? Why do some people kill other people? I have come to understand that I may never know the answers to these questions and many of the other difficult life questions that people contemplate, but one thing I do know is this: There are far too many men, women, and children who are sexually violated. It is my opinion that we are foolish if we do not take the issue of sexual violence seriously and help play a positive role in the healing process of individuals who experience it, as well as those indirectly impacted by it.

This book is not about statistics. The statistics are certainly out there; you can research and read them for yourself if you want to. I, however, will not share or focus on statistics because I do not want to treat people as numbers. Also, I believe rape and sexual assault are the least reported violent crimes. If it is true that these are the least reported crimes, then that means most of the people who experience these crimes are not represented in those statistics. To me, giving flawed and inaccurate statistics of rape and sexual assault is a disservice to those who do not report.

I believe there are many justified reasons why most people do not report, but I will mention two major reasons: First, many survivors do not report because they fear they will not be believed. Many have an image in their head about what a victim should look like because of the media and therefore will not report. Second, it is extremely difficult to report a violent crime against someone that is known to the person. Most survivors know their perpetrators, and the relationship between them makes reporting even harder than it might have been if the crime were perpetrated by a stranger. The bottom line is none of us will be able to understand the full extent of how common sexual violence is based on statistics because the statistics are only a fraction of what really occurs.

Order now on Amazon.

Radio Interview: Donna Seebo Show

Click here to listen to the interview.

About the Author

picI currently reside in Boston, Massachusetts and am in my eighth year of working as a rape crisis counselor, public speaker and community educator. Inspired by my undergraduate studies in Criminal Justice, I continue to embrace a life-long commitment to activism and advocacy for survivors of sexual violence. I support rape survivors and their significant others through various health, legal, and case management issues. I also facilitate workshops aimed at education, prevention and exposure of the realities of sexual violence.

I did not consider myself a writer and never once tried to write a book until one experience changed my life. This experience was a dream I had. I woke up from this dream and said, “I have to write a book”. I interpreted this dream as a vision from God. I prayed to God, moved from the bed to the computer, opened up Microsoft Word, and continued to pray. This is how the book To the Survivors began.

Connect with Robert

Website     Facebook     Twitter


“A moving series of survivor stories… This book is both informative for the general public and supportive for those who have suffered sexual abuse. It is hard to imagine that members of either group will not gain from reading it.” – Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review

To the Survivors weaves together many candid accounts to form a brave and alarming exposé of assault. It is a worthwhile, eye-opening project.” – Foreword Clarion Reviews

“An engaging examination of a painful subject, with a focus on healing and forgiveness.” – Kirkus Reviews

To the Survivors is quite a read. It’s informative.  It is very compassionate. It is insightful. I think you have presented more than one perspective. And you haven’t done it from a positioning of one-sidedness. You really have covered quite a few different perspectives, both of those that have been the victims of this horrific act and those that want to help. So I really think it’s quite a powerfully packed book. To the Survivors is a very powerful one.”     – Donna Seebo, The Donna Seebo Show


Welcome, Alex Sheremet!

We are excited to welcome Alex Sheremet to the Highlighted Author this week.  His third book — Woody Allen: Reel to Real — comprises over 600 pages of cinema criticism and commentary covering every Woody Allen film every made. This book also stretches the bounds of electronic publishing by offering an interactive forum where readers can add their own articles, essays, and commentary.

Enjoy the feature and feel free to get involved in this amazing project!

–Jo Grafford, Highlighted Author Co-Hostess

Reel to Real

71z5CK1nAAL._SL1123_Alex Sheremet’s third book is by far the most comprehensive analysis of Woody Allen’s films ever published, and is the summation of everything that he’s learned thus far in cinema. Hailed as a “seminal” and “revolutionary” book by poet and critic Dan Schneider (Cosmoetica), Alex’s style of criticism is straightforward, beginning with a single assertion: that art can (and should!) be evaluated, and that a critic’s job is above all to evaluate. And at 600+ pages, the book does exactly that, covering every single film that Allen has ever written, directed, or otherwise acted in, as well as responds to 5 decades of Woody-related criticism before turning the tables on Woody’s own opinions on art, life, and philosophy. His hope is that the reader will come away knowing more of art and cinema as a whole, and be able to apply these ideas to new art-works in a way that’s logically consistent and self-sufficient, all the while avoiding the common pitfalls of artistic criticism.

Woody Allen: Reel To Real was published as a DigiDialogue™ via Take2 Publishing on 11/12/2014, and will be updated with new essays, articles, and reader/critic feedback every 6-12 months, thus ensuring that others become a part of the publishing process, and that Reel To Real continues to grow with the critical discourse surrounding it. These updates will sync automatically with all purchased copies — one of the benefits, really, of electronic publications over print.

Order your copy now on AMAZON!

A Note from Alex

Alex Sheremet 2I am a young writer from NYC and the curator of IDEAS ON IDEAS. Although a poet and novelist, first, I became interested in film as a means of furthering my own art, and chose to stay because of everything else that film has taught me.My debut novel, A Few Streets More To Kensington (2012), deals with classic tropes of childhood — nostalgia, curiosity, and the wars of self — now transposed to the streets of Brooklyn, and examined through an artist’s reluctant gaze. Rich, melancholy, and contemplative, the tale follows its protagonist well into his teenage years, and inevitably asks the same questions that have already been parsed for millennia. Yet for all that, violence, friendship, video games, femme fatales, 9/11, and Hasidic Jews abound, for while this may not have been your reality, it certainly was the narrator’s, and that of many others. The book, therefore, subsists on the ‘magic’ of the 1990s, and remains one of the few comprehensive depictions of that era — even as it transcends it, too.Doors And Exits: A Study Of Two Extremes (2013) is a ‘docudrama’ that probes the follies and accomplishments of the 21st Century, all within the world of a single, fictional school in New York City. Beginning with three philosophical axioms that, in the narrator’s mind, define the universe and its machinations, the book adjusts, rejects, and renews them till the very end. But while the book’s ‘place’ may be a fabrication, its conflicts are not, for its characters (kids, teachers, and those somewhere in between) have a reality someplace, somewhere, and will repeat themselves — ad nauseam — for as long as we’re recognizably human. This is the little-known difference between Truth and Reality, and my second novel — a ‘genuine fake’! — straddles both.Woody Allen: Reel To Real (2014) is my first work of criticism, and will be followed by my third novel, Thousand Rocks, in summer 2016. It will be set in China’s Tang Dynasty.I also write a political column for Cosmoetica called “Tooth & Nail.”

Connect With Alex

Alex’s Amazon Page | | Facebook Page Twitter Take2 Publishing

Reel to Real Excerpt

The purpose of this book is two-fold:

First, as it references a large number of contemporary reviews — most of them online — it gives a snapshot of Woody criticism as it exists now, instead of merely relying on perspectives from thirty or forty years ago, often part of ‘schools’ and ‘cliques’ that are no longer relevant. Quite often, great art needs some distance and some time before it can be properly evaluated by the masses, which invariably includes critics, as well, since they’ve been elected to speak for the very same people negatively impacted by such closeness in the first place. This is one of the values of online publishing, as it can be ahead of the curve in some regards.

Second, it is clear that so many of Woody’s films have not even been properly seen, much less talked about. This needs to change. I’d spent a long time with films such as Interiors, Stardust Memories, Another Woman, and many others long before I’d read any reviews, or had been biased against these films, pro or con. It is shocking, then, to finally read what has been written, from the utter meagerness of the discussions, themselves, to the way critics seem to steal from one another — down to the very exact phrasing, often originating in one or two reviews that spiral out of control, reproducing, like memes, into what gets termed ‘the critical discourse’. After a while, however, this has less to do with the films in question than in the way ideas travel, affect, and afflict, thus ensnaring otherwise smart people who can’t see just how they’re being compromised.

Naturally, one should not engage with art while wearing these sort of blinders. Not being a ‘professional’ critic, a member of some status quo, or emotionally invested in this or that opinion or film, but a regular guy who goes to work, comes home, and writes, I won’t regale you with film-speak or other ills, but talk to you as one informed human being to another about what’s truly relevant to the art-form. I will assume you know what you know, and that you are, for lack of a better word, open. Most importantly, I will obviate the ‘I’ of this foreword, and let the films speak for themselves as best as they can, until they are their own best evidence. This is why I’ll often track the ‘big’ films scene by scene, letting them play out via print before they are subjected to my analysis, so that readers can see just why, exactly, I make the claims that I do. Too often, a critic would write something, and I’d wonder whether or not they’d even watched the scene in question. At other times, I’d marvel how a critic’s purported evidence would undercut the very claim being made. These are major flaws, no doubt, but they can also be avoided if a work of art is merely allowed to be itself, first, before the deductions start rolling in.

Lots of people talk of what they ‘like’ and ‘dislike’. In between these two words, however, there’s the far more fruitful territory of what ‘is’. Not everyone will have the same background, politics, personal aesthetic, or philosophical bent, so to force a work of art into one’s preferences is meaningless and self-absorbed. But if we watch a film, we all see the same characters, visuals, and ideas which, while certainly multilayered, are not infinite in possible interpretations, bounded, as they are, by the parameters of the film. We therefore have the choice to take them on their own terms, as part of their own internal universe — our egos be damned! This is really what I mean by the word ‘open’, and I hope that it still applies.

This book has well over two hundred references, alluding, as it does, to a lot of writing on the subject of Woody Allen. As is natural, not everything is good, with some writers being guilty of the very things I’ve described. Yet they’ve been chosen for a reason, as they are representative of ‘Woody’ thinking ca. 2014, for good or ill, and probably will be for a while longer. The book, therefore, corrals these references into chapters, and uses them to help shape a narrative of my own crafting. I often agree with what the writers say. But, just as often, I don’t. This, again, is only natural, for a critic’s job is to teach, and confidently, at that. Now, it is good to be right. Let’s not kid ourselves here. But it’s even better to have a cogent and unique argument that will take the reader to fresh insights about things that really matter. And, of course, the better the argument, the closer it will approximate the truth.

Woody Allen: Reel to Real is broken up into seven chapters. The first five deal with Woody Allen’s films chronologically, including one chapter reserved for Allen’s actor-only appearances in films like Casino Royale and Antz. The sixth deals with Woody Allen’s major critics, focusing on where, exactly, they have been right, and where — perhaps even more importantly — they’ve erred. The final chapter comments on Allen’s influences, as well as the man’s own viewpoints on art, life, and film.

Too often, a piece of writing about an artist will begin with what, ironically, is considered most essential: the background noise. Yet I don’t begin talking of Woody’s life, influences, or opinions until the very end, wherein I finally take the man to task. That’s because the most important thing, by far, is what’s ultimately on the screen, and not where it is derived from — especially since, in most cases, Woody betters his derivations in ways that older filmmakers simply had no opportunity to do. The bottom line, then, is the films, for a well-wrought work of art communicates its meaning without too much trouble. Sure, it’s always good to be a seasoned movie-goer if one decides to tackle a complex film. But if someone tells you — no, downright insists — that you ‘need’ to watch Federico Fellini or Ingmar Bergman to really ‘get’ Woody Allen? Run. They really don’t have your best interests at heart.

For everything I tackle, however, it seems that this book asks only one central question: Just where — and what — is the real Woody Allen? Certainly, he is not merely where the critics say he is. Nor does he sit where the viewers do, given how his most popular films have only come about in the last few years, and have, in some ways, been his most consistently lackluster. But, worst of all, Woody Allen is not where he thinks he is, either, as his self-effacing comments will go on to show. Yet, for all that, I don’t always believe it. I think his words are a put-on, as Manhattan’s illusionary ‘loveliness’ was; as Stardust Memories is the sum of others’ self-deceit. He dismisses himself, and yet, he “keeps his nose to the grindstone”, as he’s often said, for there must be something, however slipshod, vague, that lets Allen know he’s done much good, and thus keeps the man going. Reality, after all, does not care for your approval. It only tolerates it, even as you ask — as Allen must — ‘So what?’

Praise for Reel to Real

“…a seminal book in film criticism that eschews the Lowest Common Denominator Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down approach to film criticism…in favor of an in depth and objective look at the films, themselves, as works of art. This is a welcome, and hopefully, revolutionary tool that will inspire a younger generation of art critics, in all forms and genre, to transcend their own limits, just as every cineaste and art aesthete hopes to do for themselves.” — Dan Schneider, poet, critic, novelist, and founder of Cosmoetica

“…a massive undertaking, and one of the most significant pieces of film archaeology you could come across.” — Dan Slevin, editor (FishHead Magazine) and broadcaster (Rancho Notorious Podcast)

“…damn good writing…It’s not only a great book on Woody Allen, but on art and the art of criticism, which will serve as a great resource for those interested in the ways film operates.” — Andrew J. Geary (AndrewGearyWrites)

“…erudite, intelligent…the most far-reaching analysis of Woody Allen’s career so far.” — John Greco (Twenty Four Frames)