SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — We never truly know what hidden talents we may have unless we try new things.
It’s a sentiment many have heard over the years, but for Shaker Heights author Steve Zimcosky, it’s a truism. In fact, in 2013, it wouldn’t have been fitting to even call him “author Steve Zimcosky.”
Zimcosky, who grew up in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood, worked as an adult at a factory job before, in the 1990s, putting his interest in holistic health to good use. For more than 20 years, he has worked as an independent contractor teaching Tai chi— a Chinese martial art practiced for defensive training, health benefits and meditation — and Qigong (a holistic system of coordinated body posture and movement, breathing and meditation) at One-to-One Fitness at Case Western Reserve University.
“I was teaching tai chi and Qigong when a student said that I should write a how-to book on Qigong,” Zimcosky said. “Instead of writing a how-to book, I decided to do it in story form.”
Zimcosky went on to write the story of a 10-year-old boy, based on himself, taking trips to visit his grandparents in Pennsylvania and, while there, meeting a wise man who lived on a hill. The man tells the boy the intricacies of the practices of tai chi and Qigong. The result of this mix of story and textbook was 2013′s “The Old Man From the Hill (Lessons in Qigong and Tai Chi).”
The 79-page book went on to garner excellent reviews on Amazon.com and led to three “Old Man From the Hill” sequels.
“A lot of tai chi people enjoyed it,” Zimcosky said. “A lot of them said they wished they had a book like this when they first started.”
“They’re really stories more than novels,” Zimcosky said. “They aren’t very long.”
Their lengths notwithstanding, Zimcosky’s flair for creating and telling a story has flourished. He learned over Labor Day weekend that his most recent effort, the novella “The Revelations at Black Corners,” has earned him a Gold Award from The Literary Titan, an organization of professional writers, editors and professors who have a passion for the written word.
The Gold Award is the higher of two awards, the other being the Silver Award, that The Literary Titan bestows.
In its review of “The Revelations at Black Corners,” The Literary Titan states: “Zimcosky knows how to keep an audience interested. The sections of the book are quick and well-structured. Even though you will be immediately invested in the plot, you will realize that in no time at all you have flipped through all the pages!”
The book takes 47 pages to tell its story.
“I write my stories so that, if you’re commuting to work on a bus, you can finish it by the time you get to work,” Zimcosky said.
The 63-year-old was unaware, prior to 2011, that he had a talent for writing, but he is always seeking to get better.
“My friends and family read my books, but I found that family (including his wife of eight years, Ivy, two daughters and a stepson) will give constructive criticism. They aren’t afraid to do that. Friends always want to be nice.”
Zimcosky said he often gets ideas for plots while out walking in the park. He then has to quickly put them down on paper.
As a self-published author, Zimcosky now does his own publicity work, but he is hoping the Gold Award may find him a publisher and a wider audience.
The author says that success is not necessarily determined by the number of books he sells.
“For me,” he said, “success is based on whether people enjoy the book.”