“A” Is For Adjustment

“A” is for Adjustment

My favorite baby photo of my “big brother” Ralph.

Early on in my parents’ visit last week, I used the old standby “A is for apple” to help us remember where we parked at a particular location. But as events played out over the past seven days, I’ve realized that at this point in time, “A” is for adjustment.

Let’s just say our time together did not unfold quite as intended, since none of us wanted or expected my dad’s four-day hospitalization to be part of the activities. Thankfully, he’s alright now.

“A” is for Adjustment.

My mother had a painful arthritis flare-up in her finger, which impacted her ability to enjoy her time in Florida. Although she looks at least ten years younger than her actual age, she takes naps now — something she never did before.

“A” is for Adjustment.

It’s not easy to acknowledge the effects of aging on your parents, especially when you’ve been accustomed to a mother and father who are full of life, optimistic, smart, fun-loving and interested in a variety of things ranging from professional sports and college basketball to politics and cultural events. As I make my adjustment to this new phase of their life, I focus on gratitude for having been their child and for still having them here with me on Earth.

“A” is for Adjustment.

Ralph in elementary school.

But as difficult as it has been to make that shift, what’s happening with my brother Ralph is the hardest to take. Born with A Little Down Syndrome, he has already overcome tremendous obstacles, with the help of my parents, our extended family, friends, teachers, and mentors. He exceeded expectations and overcame one misguided doctor’s dire prediction by being a good student (an astute elementary school teacher asked my parents for permission to promote him to a slow learners class, where he thrived) and eventually finding employment at Mercy Catholic Medical Center for 23 years, where he consistently received excellent employee reviews from happy bosses.

Most importantly, his outgoing, gregarious personality and loving nature affected everyone who knew him. How could anyone not be enriched by spending time with Ralph — someone who loved unconditionally, embraced life fully, and found joy in the simplest activities. While we were growing up, he was my go-to playmate who never turned me away and always made me laugh, no matter what we decided to do. Our most famous collaboration as kids was our imitation of Danny Zuko and Sandy Olson from the movie Grease, as they danced and their way through the fun-house in the final scene (in our case, the two long steps leading into our rec room served as our version of “The Shake Shack.”) It’s a miracle no one broke the vinyl (remember those?) soundtrack to the movie to end the insanity of our endless, repetitive demonstrations.

Shockingly, no one did. As a matter of fact, many years later at Ralph’s 40th birthday party, family members and friends begged us for a re-enactment, which we happily obliged. Back then, I was so grateful that he’d hit the 4-0 milestone, I didn’t care about making a fool of myself.

Ralph with nieces Sophia (left) and Julianna celebrating his 50th.

Fast forward another 10 years. We held another special celebration in honor of Ralph’s 50th birthday — an Oscar-themed party complete with life-size cut-outs and posters of his favorite actors like Clint Eastwood, and replicas of the Oscar statue. At the time, he was still passionate about movies, reading, dancing, and the WWE.

I miss those days. I miss my happy-go-lucky special brother who never needed coaxing to smile; or to put on music, sing, and dance; or to read a book.

None of us knew back then that Ralph would soon face his most formidable opponent yet; one much more powerful than Down Syndrome. One that had no mercy in its zeal to rob him of everything he’d worked so hard to accomplish, including a fully functioning mind that could comprehend John Grisham novels, and remember the names of soft drinks, and whether or not he’d taken a shower that morning, or if his clothes needed to go into the laundry.

A friend of mine had warned me about the link between Down Syndrome and Alzheimer’s years before Ralph’s diagnosis. Like any good sister, I prayed that he would be spared such a fate. Surely, God would not ask him to endure something so awful after he’d already proven himself to be a worthy overcomer?

For reasons unknown to me, Ralph was not spared from this memory-stealing monster, for which he has been on medication for almost five years. Back then, the doctor warned that it would only delay the inevitable. I suppose some gratitude is appropriate because it did stop the progression much longer than I had anticipated.

Back in the day: Ralph and I engaging in one of our favorite childhood rituals.

Even so, his personality completely transformed over time. The outgoing, confident guy who loved to laugh, joke around, and talk incessantly was gradually replaced by a reticent, serious and somber shell of his former self who sat in silence during car rides, lashed out at good-natured teasing and lost interest in just about every hobby he’d previously engaged in with passion. No longer does Ralph beg to go the movies or express interest in books, music or wrestlers like John Cena (one of his former favorites.) In fact, if you ask him about a movie he’s just seen, he has difficulty expressing any sort of informed opinion about it.

These days, the only activities he still seems to enjoy are bowling, slot machines, and using his iPad.

“A” is for Adjustment.

Somewhere along the way, during one of my visits, I was working downstairs in my parents’ basement when Ralph approached me in tears. “I want my life back. I want my memory back,” he cried, putting his arms around me. While my heart was breaking, all I could do was hug him and assure him that I would be there for him, no matter what. Nothing — not even Alzheimer’s — could ever make me lose sight of who he really is. In my mind, I contemplated how I would handle the devastating time when he would no longer remember me or anyone else in the family. It seemed impossible to comprehend but I vowed to hold onto my memories of him and do the best I could to adjust.

Celebrating mom’s birthday, circa 1992.

Which brings me back to the present. I’d been handling some unforeseen events involving an unreasonable client whose hurtful words temporarily affected my confidence and caused me to question everything I was doing professionally. Then Ralph arrived with my parents and changed my perspective.

In a horrifying moment of confirmation, we realized the doctor was right about the medication when Ralph insisted he was home in Newtown Square and not in Melbourne — even though we were surrounded by palm trees, balmy breezes and sunshine. I reminded him about the plane ride he’d taken the day before, with no success. At some point he let it go, leaving me to wonder if it’s best to just agree with him in these situations, rather than attempt to bring him back to reality.

“A” is for Adjustment.

The Ralph I loved from my earliest memories of childhood is gone, though his pure heart and capacity for unconditional love remain. He began to take his leave about a year or so after marking his 50th birthday in grand style. I mourn him every day, even as I continue to love and support the man he has become — a brave soul who continues to fight a merciless opponent that will not be satisfied until it takes everything away from him. Everything, that is, except the love of his family and friends.

“A” is for Adjustment. 

At this point, it’s all I can do.

 

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What Is A Ghostwriter and How Much Should I Pay for One?

What Is A Ghostwriter and How Much Should I Pay for One?

As stated in my bio here and at Writestream Publishing, I am an experienced ghostwriter of several books, including:

Oddly enough, it had never crossed my mind to use my writing skills to create books for other people, but a year after meeting Shlomo Attia at a book signing for the first edition of Water Signs, he called me with a special offer. With firm conviction, he said he had a book that needed to be written and I was the only person who could help him. Although skeptical that I could 1.) write a full-length book for another person, particularly one for whom English was a second language, and 2.) integrate his high-level concepts into an entertaining and thought-provoking story, his confidence was contagious. The rest, as they say, is history.

I kept writing books and am now the sole ghostwriter at Writestream Publishing LLC.

What is Ghostwriting?

As I’ve posted at Writestream Publishing.com:

Ghostwriting is a service whereby someone entrusts their concept for a fictional story or the facts of their own life and experiences (in the case of a nonfiction memoir, self-help book, etc.) to a professional ghostwriter. The ghostwriter then gathers information from their client, outlines the book accordingly, and writes it in their client’s voice.

That’s a basic starting point. Depending on the scope of the project, it can take anywhere from four months to several years to produce a high quality product. In my experience as a ghostwriter of fiction and nonfiction books, nonfiction is faster and easier to complete.

Why?

Once I have the information from my client, it’s a matter of deciding what’s important to include (based on the purpose of the book and other factors), arranging the content in a logical manner, then writing it on their behalf.

 

Whenever I consult with a potential new client on their ghostwriting project, I describe in detail how the process works:

  1. Investigation – we set up a weekly recorded call where I act as an investigative reporter and ask questions. Why recorded? To make it easier to capture information I’ll need later on and the client’s manner of speaking; in essence, their voice. This ensures that when I sit down to write, I’ll be writing as the client — not as me. Depending upon the scope of the story, the investigative part of the process can take a few weeks or a few months.
  2. Collaboration – from there, I collaborate with the client to offer suggestions in terms of content and ensure they’re comfortable including certain things. For example, one of my clients experienced a rape by a family member as a teenager. In the beginning, she was adamant about not identifying him, which I honored and understood. But as the process moved along, she decided to call him out. Either way, including the rape as a turning point in her life was necessary. Particularly when dealing with sensitive topics, the client is always in control. My job as the ghostwriter (and editor) is to make professional suggestions based on knowledge and experience.
  3. Organization – once I have all the information, I listen to playback of all recordings to determine a logical sequence to the book. Flow and pacing are just as important as content. Even if you have an incredible story to share, if not properly organized, you’ll quickly lose your readers. In the case of fiction, once I have the real-life events, I then figure out characters, plot, and sequencing. Fiction demands a different kind of creativity. Once I know the actual story, I then spend time creating characters and mapping out a plot. I explain to my clients that the fictional version of their story will not mirror real life because it’s not a memoir. Aside from changing locations (dictated by the client), creative license may involve consolidating multiple real-life people into one character, amending the timeline of events for pacing purposes, and creating purely fictional situations to enhance the intrigue.
  4. Writing – as I said, ghostwriting demands the ability to write in someone else’s voice, which means getting into someone else’s head. The only way to accomplish this feat is by conducting the regular recorded interviews I described in the first bullet. Most importantly though, a ghostwriter must have a genuine interest in other people. Without it, it’s impossible to do the job well. Paradoxically, good writing is a product of pouring your heart and soul into your creation, yet in the case of a ghostwriter, it’s not really your work, so you must maintain a certain detachment while you treat the process as if the end result is your accomplishment. This is especially true if your name will not appear anywhere on the cover.
  5. Editing – at Writestream Publishing, it’s our policy that clients who opt for ghostwriting also select one of our all-inclusive publishing packages. Among the necessary services included is editing. Once I’ve completed the manuscript, it goes to my business partner Lisa Tarves for a thorough edit. As with the writing portion of the project, the client has the right to accept or decline any changes for as long as the book is in the editing phase. Once a client approves their book for formatting, there are no further editorial changes.

Now that you know how ghostwriting works, hopefully you understand its value. Your ghostwriter will spend countless hours fulfilling your dream of becoming a published author and/or of adding more published books to your list of accomplishments. It demands time, talent, skill, discernment…and even a bit of amateur psychology for a good ghostwriter to produce a product their client can be proud of.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Ghostwriter?

Let’s get down to dollars and cents and answer the question of how much it costs to hire a ghostwriter. If we’re talking about a full-length book, which is what I’ve outlined in this post, I defer to Laura Sherman, Ghostwriter and Author:

  • Cheap writers can be found who will write a 100 to 200 page book for as little as $2,000. If this is your budget (and you’re a gambler by nature), your best bet is to find a student new to the industry. Please be careful that he or she is actually writing your book and not plagiarizing another writer’s work.
  • Professional writers will usually charge between $12,000 and $90,000 to write a 100 to 300 page book. This price varies depending on the writer’s level of expertise and the amount of work required for the project.
  • High-end celebrity writers are usually hired by actors, politicians, musicians and other famous personalities who will sell books just by virtue of their name. The writers for these celebrities are well-established authors with a lot of experience. They can charge $150,000 to $750,000 for a book. Sometimes more.

Visit WritestreamPublishing.com to read the rest, but for a 200-300 page book, my rates begin at $8,000.00.

Beyond costs, however, it is important to take the time to “interview” your potential ghostwriter, as I do with every person who approaches me about a project.

Why?

Because the nature of ghostwriting demands collaboration and regular communication, at least in the beginning, both parties should feel comfortable with each other. This doesn’t mean you have to become great friends (although it tends to happen); just that you want to have an easy rapport, where there’s mutual respect and an exchange of ideas. Keeping an open mind is crucial, too, because ghostwriting is a fluid process up until both parties agree that it’s time to move the manuscript into the editing phase.

If you’re thinking about hiring a ghostwriter and have more questions about the process, contact me here. I look forward to discussing your project with you!

 

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Book Review: Soul Mates & Angels

Book Review: Soul Mates & Angels

Now up on Amazon.com:

This beautiful story drew me in from the moment I began reading. Written in the first person, its tone is at once hopeful, joyful, inquisitive, and thoughtful. Blessed with a supernatural ability to communicate with angels, the main character Anita Lyn Riley struggles to reconcile the mundane aspects of her life — from high school bullies to adolescent crushes — with the knowledge that evil exists everywhere, not just in some far away places.

On a personal level, she knows what it feels like to be misunderstood and feared for being different. When we first meet Anita, she is adapting to her new public high school, having upset the religious sensibilities of the priests and nuns at her former Catholic institution with her tales of reincarnation and otherworldly visions. As the book unfolds, her journey becomes progressively more difficult as circumstances force her to take courageous stands for justice, spurred on by righteous anger.

Filled with endearing characters and thought-provoking insights, Soul Mates & Angels celebrates the unbreakable bond that exists between all humans as children of God, the power of good to overcome evil, and the unseen realm where angels and loved ones are always there to help us.

You can preview and purchase the book, which is now an Amazon Bestseller, here.

 

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Copy Writing Testimonials

Copy Writing Testimonials

In addition to co-founding Writestream Publishing LLC, where I work as a ghostwriter, editor, and consultant on the self-publishing process, I also enjoy helping clients with their copy writing needs. Whether for a book description, biography, or content for web pages, I can help you present yourself and your product/service in such a way as to entice your target audience to learn more.

Here are two testimonials from recent assignments.

From Author Jack July:

“THANK YOU Writestream Publishing, LLC! More specifically, Daria Anne DiGiovanni, Author for your assistance and skill. Your marketing prose has helped me greatly. Your skill has helped put my first novel in the position to be considered for movies and television. It’s wonderful to have this much talent a couple keystrokes or a phone call away.”

 

From R. Lisa Smoak, CEO of SBTD, Inc:

“I was impressed by the speed with which the editor, Daria from Writestream, responded to reviewing the manuscript and sending it back for my concurrence.  As the manuscript neared completion, she was extremely patient and gave me many chances to review the changes and corrections.

“Daria also assisted in writing a bio for a local magazine, which was well-written and professional. My experience with Writestream Publishing co-founder and editor Daria was always professional, helpful and kind. If I decide to write another book, I will definitely use Writestream Publishing. I highly recommend Writestream as a publishing company.”

Seeking a good copy writer? Contact me here to get started. Do you have a story to share with the world in the form of a book? Visit Writestream Publishing.com to discover our all-inclusive publishing packages and other services.

 

 

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