All posts by Daria

About Daria

Daria DiGiovanni is an accomplished writer, author, blogger, internet radio host and social media professional. She released her first novel, Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal in 2008 and is currently at work on a sequel, Sea To Shining Sea. In addition to her blog, she contributes content to a variety of sites, ghostwrites books, provides training on social media platforms, manages social media accounts for individuals and businesses and hosts various internet radio programs, including Writestream Tuesday, and Love, Liberty & Lip Gloss. Daria launched the Writestream Radio Network in March of 2013. Rejoicing in the flow of creativity, the network features hosts Lisa Tarves (Just Believe and Love, Liberty & Lip Gloss), John D. Gresham (Military Monday), Dr. Billie Eizenberg and Attorney Sheena Benjamin-Wise (Family Power Hour), and Kristyn Fetterman (Love, Liberty & Lip Gloss). In November of 2013 she released Reflections on the Ring, a book she authored for Lori Colombo-Dunham and looks forward to the release of Steps To Salvation, a book she's currently writing for client Shlomo Attia.

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The Art of Giving Constructive Criticism

toastmastersOne of the many reasons I joined a local Toastmaster’s chapter is to develop the ability to offer constructive criticism. While becoming competent in oral communication is a fundamental goal of membership in the organization, so is learning to become a better listener. Cultivating this valuable skill  makes it possible to offer thoughtful feedback on someone’s speech, but it requires genuine interest and focused concentration. At our last meeting, I took on the task of speech evaluator for the very first time as part of my effort to ease into the act of making my first speech (called an “Ice Breaker”) by starting with smaller roles first.

To say I was nervous about standing up in front of the room and making an oral critique would be a monumental understatement. There is definitely an art to providing meaningful, useful criticism designed to help a speaker acknowledge both their strengths and weaknesses in order to become an even better communicator. While I realize I have a very long way to go in this area, I appreciated the positive reviews I received from others in attendance, including the speech giver.

While Toastmasters focuses on the development of competent communication and leadership qualities for individual members, the same principles hold true for the written word. As an author and book reviewer, I understand this well.

Writer's BlockFirst, to take on the author part: I fully understand that as much as I strive to develop themes through my plots and character development in any given novel, not every reader is going to “get” them. We all process entertainment in the form of the written word (and on film and other mediums) though the prism of our own unique experiences, after all. When I sat down to write Water Signs, I never set out to produce a tawdry romance novel, but instead a coming of age story in which sex and attitudes about sex play an integral role. My main character struggles to balance her morality while living in a society that has all but abandoned the “old-fashioned” values with which she was raised. At the same time, she’s human. She experiences the normal desires that go along with being a young woman (and as the story progresses, an older and wiser one). Hence, her inner turmoil often manifests in self-defeating and even frightening ways (e.g. anxiety disorder). Having a much more worldly boyfriend complicates her own personal growth journey and relationship with main character, Ken — not to mention other guys she dates along the way.

However, I never intended the book to be perceived as yet another cheap, formulaic romance where meaningless dialogue and a canned plot provide filler in between raunchy, explicit love scenes. Up until now, no one (at least no one that I am aware of) has viewed it that way. Most readers (those who have contacted me personally and/or posted reviews) have perceived Water Signs as a contemporary romance with plenty to say about the modern dating scene and other realities of current times.

Let me clarify: I am seeking thoughtful criticism; I’m not expecting the whole world to fawn over my book, fall in love with its two main characters, or give me nothing but 5-star reviews. That’s completely unrealistic, not to mention a hindrance to my own growth and improvement as a writer. I do, however, appreciate it when someone takes the time to point out the good (even if it’s simply an acknowledgment of better-than-average writing skills, use of literary technique, or story pacing) while (as I am learning to do at Toastmasters) identifying areas that need improvement.

Which brings me back to my dilemma.

Are some reviewers just more thoughtful than others? Or is it all a matter of perception based on their own personal experience (and not so much what the author was attempting to say through plot and characters)? Perhaps it’s a combination of both? Can a reader who does not fit the parameters of your target audience even offer a balanced review to begin with?

WaterSigns2.jpgAll are important considerations.

Nevertheless, we as authors simply cannot control readers’ perceptions of our work — nor should we even seek to do so. While I am incredibly disappointed in the characterization of my book as a “bodice ripper,” perhaps it will attract a whole new audience. Who knows? Guess I’ll just have to wait and see, although my guess is that readers of Harlequin romances will most likely dismiss Maddy and her entire family as hopelessly out of touch and prudish.

Unlike speeches, books are much more subjective – unless of course, they are truly unreadable due to things like poor grammar and lack of a coherent plot – for which perhaps a 1-star review is appropriate. For the record, no one has accused Water Signs of either of these, although privately someone told me they hated my characters — to the point of wanting to take an ax to them. That was definitely a first.

Given that most others have had a completely opposite take, this is very perplexing. Whether you hate it, love it, or fall somewhere in between, referring to Water Signs as a bodice ripper completely misses the point. Which circles back to every author’s conundrum: we cannot control how others perceive our work because – as with many experiences in life – readers bring along their own preconceived ideas. In the case of my novel, maybe it’s about time a reader presented a different take on the story – whether I agree with it or not.

When I write a book review, I make an effort to specify the positive aspects, e.g. a hard-hitting scene, a particularly compelling bit of dialogue, or the writer’s remarkable talent for drawing the reader into the story through the use of descriptive prose — whatever elements I can honestly rave about. If there are things I don’t like, or believe could use some improvement, I point them out in a constructive way. At least, these are my goals when I sit down to write a critique. Am I perfect at it? Not at all. That’s where Toastmasters comes in, along with the practice of reading and reviewing books regularly. Learn and improve by doing.

As I move forward in my own professional development with Toastmasters, I hope I’ll not only become better at critiquing (and giving) speeches, but also reading and reviewing books.

As for my next meeting role, I’ll be the evening’s “Ah, Um Counter,” which means I’ll definitely be listening closely to all speakers. And as my involvement in the organization progresses, I hope to eliminate my own bad “Ah,” “Um,” and “You know” habits.

Stay tuned….and keep on writing!

 

 

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Writestream Tuesday with ‘The Barefoot Guru’ Donna DeVane

Are you ready to unleash the power of your consciousness and live your life to the fullest? Seeking a practical way to incorporate spiritual principles into your daily routine? Then please join me for Writestream Tuesday with ‘The Barefoot Guru’ Donna DeVane on November 4 at 1 p.m. Eastern.

Donna DeVane, The Barefoot Guru.
Donna DeVane, The Barefoot Guru.

Here’s a bit about Donna DeVane from her website ConsciousnessPower.com:

Donna DeVane offers the Healing Tools for everyone who is ready to move into a new experience and consciously create the life adventure that delights, pleases and satisfies all levels of Divine Human experience. Starting with information on the chakras and how to balance them, releasing blockages from this life time & the human DNA history, the student / reader is engaged with exercises that make the spiritual teachings real and meaningful in today’s world without all the cliches and empty promises.

You are guided and given the tools to do your Shadow Work through over 24 weekly lessons and more than 20 years of healing experience. A Journey Back To Self is the only guidebook you need on your Journey to Remembering Who You Are and moving past limiting beliefs to Living Consciously.

Donna also offers ongoing support on her weekly radio show A Journey Back To Self heard live on the Awakened Radio Network.

Donna has written several books giving you the tools you need to self empower including, “How To Thrive In A Survival Mindset World”, “How To Be Happy And Live Free”, “How To Stay Motivated For Success” and her newest adventure in print “I Can Fill This Space With Any Thing I Want Consciously Creating Life”.

Donna’s books are available in print, kindle and audio at Amazon, Audible and ITunes.

Donna offers one on one opportunities for your spiritual growth with personal guidance as well as weekly radio shows on The Awakened Radio network, articles and blogs.

I am truly excited to chat with this highly accomplished woman about her work, her books, and her tips for creating our best lives possible. During the broadcast, we welcome your calls and questions at (347) 945-7246, which is also the number you can dial to listen via phone. Otherwise, click on this link to Writestream Tuesday with ‘The Barefoot Guru’ on November 4 at 1 p.m. Eastern.

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After my interview with Donna, stay tuned for some ‘Public Service Satire’ with the Luminaries of Liberty – Scary Smart, Ms. Always Right, and The Prince of Whitebread. And don’t forget to visit their site Right Wing Riot.com for your daily dose of ‘Truesbury’ and common sense.

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Love Liberty & Lip Gloss with Glamour Model Abigail Rich

Abigail Rich, Model, Actress & Playboy Bunny (3)
Glamour Model, Actress, and Playboy Bunny Abigail Rich.

Ladies, are you ready to be inspired by a real-life story of triumph over the odds? Then tune in to Love Liberty & Lip Gloss on Thursday, October 30 at 7 p.m. Eastern when we welcome Glamour Model and Playboy Bunny Abigail Rich to talk about her life and career.

Although Abigail began her professional career as a paramedic right out of high school and quickly moved up to flight medic, the devastating crash of the air ambulance helicopter she’d been working on resulted in critical, life-threatening injuries from which Abigail’s medical team did not expect her to recover. Doctors even told her family she would not survive.

But Abigail had other ideas. After undergoing three surgeries featuring 400 stitches, over 200 staples, and a steel plate, she proved them wrong when she walked out of the hospital. Little did she know that this tragic event would ultimately lead to a new, exciting career as a Glamour Model, Actress, and Playboy Bunny.

Abigail Rich has an inspiring story to share.
Abigail Rich has an inspiring story to share.

I can tell you from my interactions with her on twitter that Abigail is also a very sweet, humble, friendly, and down-to-earth young woman. It’s easy to see that her outer beauty is matched by an equally beautiful inner character. I can’t wait to chat with her on the air!

During the live show, we welcome your calls and comments at (347) 945-7246 and your participation in the live chat. To listen online, click on this link to Love Liberty & Lip Gloss with Glamour Model Abigail Rich. Or if you prefer to listen by phone just dial into the show at (347) 945-7246.

Pour yourself your favorite beverage, kick off your shoes and join us for Love Liberty & Lip Gloss with Glamour Model Abigail Rich!

 

 

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My Week on Writestream

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First, I wish I could figure out what’s causing the annoying static just about every time I broadcast. I’ve tried calling in on my iPhone and via Skype, and neither offers a clear connection. Tomorrow, we’re supposed to be getting a new faster internet service, so I am hoping that solves the issue.

Anyway, tonight Lisa and I hosted the fabulous Kristie Kennedy on Love Liberty & Lip Gloss, where we focused on more girly, fun things like skincare, hair care, make-up, and fashion. If you missed it, click below to listen.

Check Out Women Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Writestream Radio Network on BlogTalkRadio

This past Tuesday, I welcomed Diane Student and Denise Moormeier of History Goes Bump, a new SPOOKtacular blog and podcast that combines history with the paranormal. I had a blast talking haunted cars, houses, hotels and other places, along with urban legends like Bloody Mary and famous American writers like Edgar Allan Poe.

Check Out Paranormal Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Writestream Radio Network on BlogTalkRadio

In other news, my latest post on American Journal examines the so-called Palin Brawl and CNN reporter Carol Costello’s giddy excitement over audio of a traumatized Bristol Palin’s report of the incident to police. To say I’m thoroughly disgusted by what passes for journalism these days would be an understatement. What a vile, sick culture we’re living in.

Professionally speaking, I’ve just send a proposal off to a potential client for a new ghostwriting project and await his decision. If we can come to an agreement, this will be a project I can definitely throw myself into! If you’re the praying kind, I’d sure appreciate them.

How has your week been so far? No matter what, keep in mind tomorrow is Friday and Mercury Retrograde ends this coming Saturday!

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Writestream Tuesday: Speculative Fiction with S. Evan Townsend

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Lisa and I were delighted when S. Evan Townsend’s new show, The Speculative Fiction Cantina, made its debut on the Writestream Radio Network on October 7. Who is S. Evan Townsend?

S. Evan Townsend has been called “America’s Unique Speculative Fiction Voice” and writes novels that cause thrills and rapid page-turning.  After spending four years in the U.S. Army in the Military Intelligence branch, he returned to civilian life and college to earn a B.S. in Forest Resources from the University of Washington. In his spare time he enjoys reading, driving (sometimes on a racetrack), meeting people, and talking with friends.  He is in a 12-step program for Starbucks addiction. Evan lives in central Washington State with his wife and has three grown sons.  He enjoys science fiction, fantasy, history, politics, cars, and travel.  He currently has five published fantasy and science fiction novels.

During the live show I’ll chat with the author about his background, books, and plans for The Speculative Fiction Cantina. What is speculative fiction? We’ll discover the answer to this question and countless others during the interview. You can listen live by clicking on this link to Writestream Tuesday with S. Evan Townsend at 1 p.m. Eastern on October 28 or by dialing (347) 945-7246. Got your own question for Evan? Hit “1” on your keypad to get into the queue, or join the conversation in the live chat room.

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Then in the second hour, stay tuned for the Right Wing Riot with the Luminaries of Liberty – Scary Smart, Ms. Always Right, and The Prince of Whitebread. Will they read Pajama Boy a Halloween horror story instead of a fairy tale? Listen to the show on Tuesday to find out!

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