Recommended Reading: The Mentor In Me

Recommended Reading: The Mentor In Me

Due to Amazon’s strict review policy and the fact that I’m a co-founder of Writestream Publishing, the company that published William Todd’s book, I cannot post a review there. However, there’s nothing standing in the way of sharing my impressions on my own website.

First, a little background. I met William last year when I filled in for Love Liberty & Lip Gloss host Donna Lyons, who told me she’d scheduled an important guest and preferred not to inconvenience him by changing the date of their interview. Without even asking the name of the person in question, I agreed to substitute for her. I love hosting on the air and meeting new people; besides, whenever I can help out one of our hosts (especially Donna, whom I adore), it’s my pleasure.

That led to the interview posted here:

From there, I extended an invitation to William to host his own show the first Tuesday of every month, and to my delight, he accepted. Listen to his debut with Writestream Publishing author, Major General Linda L. Singh:

Our affiliation led to William selecting Writestream Publishing to release his excellent book, The Mentor In Me, on January 1, 2017. It may sound crazy, but when you read a book as an editor (focused on flow, grammar, typos, etc.) it’s quite different from reading it for education and enjoyment. So once the book was published and I had a paperback copy in my hands, I sat down to fully absorb its message.

William’s honesty in sharing his journey in such an engaging way makes you feel as if he’s a good friend. It also brings him down to earth: in spite of his amazing success as an entrepreneur, he still struggled with his own fears, negative thoughts, and embedded paradigms. Becoming Bob Proctor’s protege is a humbling experience, yet one he embraces fully — at least in the beginning. As suggested by the subtitle, What To Do & What Not To Do, William describes his resistance to taking his mentor’s advice, “the times when, to his detriment, he failed to make the most of opportunities presented.”

The book’s chapters are organized according to the Seven Levels of Awareness – the process we all undergo as life unfolds. William explains each level, supporting its premise with real life examples of how he demonstrated a particular behavior, for good or ill. Each chapter closes with his Mentor’s Message, What To Do / What Not To Do (questions to consider), and Words of Wisdom.

It’s organization and ease of reading, combined with the author’s genuine tone makes The Mentor In Me a practical guide for improving every aspect of your life and becoming the person you were meant to be. No wonder why Bob Proctor calls it “a book you form a relationship with.” It’s overall 5-star rating on Amazon is well-deserved.

Aside from this wonderful book, William has created an excellent, affordable 21 Day Coaching Series. Visit his website, www.TheMentorInMe.com for more information.

 

 

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A Few of My Favorite Water Signs Book Reviews

A Few of My Favorite Water Signs Book Reviews

I released the second edition of my 2008 novel Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal on July 15 (paperback) and July 8 (Kindle).

Why a new release?

Since publishing the book the first time around, I became a ghostwriter in addition to editing and helping other authors to navigate the independent publishing process. Eventually, this path led to the founding of Writestream Radio Network (March 2013) and Writestream Publishing LLC (June 2015) with my good friend and trusted biz partner Lisa Tarves.

Needless to say, I’ve acquired much more knowledge about the independent publishing industry and writing over the past eight years. Aside from wanting to publish my novel under the Writestream imprint, I also wanted to make some dialogue corrections and narration changes. While my book was well received and highly rated, as an author, I felt compelled to fix the things that were bothering me about the first edition. And thanks to the talents of Kia Heavey (cover designer) and Matt Margolis (interior formatting), my original vision has finally been fulfilled.

Still, it’s nice to look back upon some of my favorite reviews in the hope that new readers will respond in a similar manner:

Water Signs was one of those rare books that I had to force myself to put down because it was such an engaging, refreshing read. I enjoyed the fact that the story was set around the Jersey shore, as I am a Jersey girl myself. But what truly kept me reading was that Daria put so much life into her characters! Their personalities, their personal convictions, and their sense of family were so palpable that every time I read a page, it was like coming home to friends. The story kept me hooked all the way through, allowing me to experience Ken and Maddy’s life journeys along with them right on to the very end. The good thing is that the end wasn’t really the end, as Daria is currently working on the sequel, so I look forward to the day that I can pick up with Ken and Maddy on the next phase of their journey together! If you are searching for a truly good book that will leave you satisfied, Water Signs is definitely worth every penny!

– Amazon Customer

Pisces

The book flows with a great story line easy to follow and the imagination is caught in the rich descriptions of the surroundings as one can almost smell the ocean, hear the birds, and feel the breeze. The dialogue is a little abrupt at times, as some sentences seem to catch one off guard, but upon further reading, it blends with the pending emotion which ensues in joy, tears, heartache, and redemption, in which all can relate. – K. Fitzgerald

Pisces

Water Signs is one of those rare books that makes you feel like you want to meet the characters in person. Yes, they are that real. It is beautifully written with passion for our country and romance. It is one of those books that is just like a good movie, where you hate to see it end. Speaking of more…please Daria, write the sequel as we are left sitting on the edge our seats wanting more. Madeline Rose and her charming husband Kenny will enrich your lives with their love for each other. Yes, a perfect romance does exist. — Anni

Pisces

Daria is such a brilliant writer that you actually feel like you are living the story with the main character. I was so engrossed in this book, that there were times I had forgotten that I was sitting in my bedroom! This book is an excellent escape from one’s daily routine. I was always a slow reader, but let me tell you, I read through this book so fast, I even surprised myself!

Never did I ever feel like I could relate to a character as much as I could relate to this one. I could not believe how much Madeline’s life paralleled mine. It kept me wanting to read on. I can count AT LEAST five similar situations that the character and myself have been through.. It blew me away.

In addition, ANYONE suffering from panic/anxiety disorder or knows someone who is, MUST read this book. It will give you reassurance that this is only a temporary condition that will go away. You will lead a normal life again.

Not only will this book give you a sense of hope that true love does exist, it also proves that certain “bumps” that one goes through in life, are only temporary and will pass. Upon completion of this book, I had feelings of warmth, peace and hope, stir within me.

There is a light at the end of each dismal tunnel.

This is A MUST READ!!!..Any novel I had read after “Water Signs”, pales in comparison to this book. I am definitely looking forward to any future novels from this author.

Pisces

 

To read all reviews, click here.  If you would like to reach out to me to share your thoughts about the book, email me at dariaanne@writestreampublishing.com. Follow me on twitter @dariaanne and like my Facebook Author Page, Daria Anne DiGiovanni, Author.

Thank you to all who have taken the time to read and review!

Preview and purchase Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal on Amazon.com

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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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A Review of ‘Night Machines’ by Kia Heavey

Author Kia Heavey.

Author Kia Heavey.

First, a confession. Although I’d heard wonderful things about Kia Heavey’s book I had not yet read it when I interviewed her on Writestream on June 18. If you missed it, click here to listen.

Ok, one other confession — Kia and I became fast friends on twitter several months ago  thanks to our introduction by mutual friend (and Dead Wrong Radio host) Robert Bertrand. However, our friendship in no way impairs my ability to recognize an excellent work of fiction when I read one. And Kia’s first effort Night Machines is one of the most compelling, suspenseful and satisfying page-turners I’ve encountered in a long time.

Although rife with supernatural intrigue and horror that leaves the reader questioning reality versus fantasy (and feeling more than a bit disturbed), Night Machines at heart is a story of flawed human nature saved by forgiveness, love, and the unbreakable bonds of family. Heroine Maggie Moore has no inkling of the terror awaiting her and her family when she re-enters the workforce after taking time off to mother her two young children with her loyal, dependable detective husband in their middle-class Connecticut town.

But the simple act of accepting a part-time position as an editor at a pharmaceutical company leads to an unanticipated reunion with a former high school classmate who — unknown to Maggie — has nursed a seventeen year-old, maniacal obsession. An obsession he’ll go to any lengths to fulfill, whether it involves delving into the realm of the supernatural, destroying anything and anyone who might stand in his way, or invading his would-be lover’s sacred mental and emotional space within.

Through the brilliant use of metaphor and descriptive narrative, Kia Heavey expertly weaves the paranormal and the mundane together to create a terrifying and ultimately uplifting ride through the human heart and psyche. While Night Machines features a menacing demon (described in chilling detail), living nightmares and other paranormal elements to satisfy thrill-seekers, it also upholds and champions traditional values in a refreshing departure from the norm. It reminds readers that all of us as members of the flawed human race must deal with our own unique, KiaHeaveyBookearthly temptations no matter how devout, upstanding and grounded we may be. Maggie is a heroine who wrestles with her own inner turmoil — exacerbated by her husband’s aloofness in the wake of an unspeakable crime he’s under intense pressure to solve. Little does she know that by “innocently” embarking upon an extramarital affair solely in her mind, she’ll usher in a terrifying journey fraught with murder, violence and Satanism.

Thanks to the author’s remarkable ability to intertwine the various elements of the story, I was guessing almost to the very end. And yet, I never expected the final, shocking revelation.

Ultimately, Night Machines affirms the transcendental nature of love and the deep satisfaction that comes with honoring one’s commitments, while simultaneously taking readers on a wild ride of supernatural horror and page-turning suspense. Kia says she wrote Night Machines because it was a book she wanted to read but no one had written. In this effort she has succeeded brilliantly. I cannot wait for the release of Underlake in 2014!

Follow Kia on Twitter @KiaHeavey. Purchase her book at her website Kia Heavey.com.

 

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