Tag: Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal (page 1 of 13)

Available for Pre-Order on Amazon: Second Edition of Water Signs – UPDATED

UPDATE: I just approved the book today! It’s now available in paperback on Create Space. If you prefer Kindle or would like to buy the paperback version on Amazon, pre-order here. Both will be live on July 8.

I’m thrilled to announce that the second edition of my 2008 novel, Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal, is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle. To quote an old saying, “I didn’t know what I didn’t know” back then; accrued knowledge over the past eight years has led me to produce the book I’ve always wanted. From the exceptional formatting and cover design to dialogue and editing tweaks, I’m proud to release this new version under the Writestream Publishing LLC imprint.

9780996653176Who knew back then, that the writing and publication of this divinely inspired novel had a much larger purpose than simply a personal catharsis?

Being an author of a well-received, 5-star rated novel increased my level of credibility and ultimately brought me to this wonderful moment, where I am a co-founder of a thriving, independent publishing company with a woman who is not only a dear friend, but a sharp, savvy, and trustworthy entrepreneur.

Since 2008, I have ghostwritten and edited multiple books and consulted with clients on the independent publishing process. Establishing Writestream Radio in 2013, followed by Writestream Publishing in 2015 with Lisa Tarves has been both a joy and a learning experience. I love that I get to work from home, be a voice for others, and help them achieve their publishing goals. No matter how many times we do it, I’m exhilarated when I finally hold the finished product in my hand — whether a client’s work or my own.

I had no idea when I sat down to write all those years ago that I would make so many good friends and contacts, become an internet radio host and ghostwriter, and attract the right business partner. It feels amazing!

For those of you who have read and enjoyed the original version, this is a second edition, not a sequel. The story and characters remain the same; I’ve just improved some elements, added a foreword, enhanced the formatting (with the help of the excellent Matt Margolis), and created the perfect cover design (thanks to the talented Kia Heavey). For those who have never read it, I hope you like it and look forward to your feedback!

Here’s a link to a series of articles that delve into the specific aspects of the novel. Look for an official release in paperback and Kindle on July 15.

 

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Happy Thanksgiving 2015!

As always, there’s an abundance of blessings in my life for which I am incredibly grateful: supportive family and friends, great health, living in a beautiful area of Florida, being an American citizen, and co-owning an independent publishing company with a fabulous biz partner and friend.

Earlier this morning, I wrote a post for Writestream Publishing LLC, in gratitude for the amazing success our young company has experienced in just six months. Click here to read it.

On a related note, a client whose book I am ghostwriting is very happy with my work so far — always a boon to my confidence because no matter how many times I do it, writing a book is a unique experience with every individual.

Yesterday I finalized the new front and back cover for my second edition of Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal, designed by the talented Kia Heavey. I’m busy making revisions and look forward to releasing the book next month.

I’m also in the middle of a course I signed up for a few weeks ago but will wait until a future time to share details. Let’s just say it’s phenomenal and one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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Sneak Peek: Cover Design Options for Water Signs

Next month I am releasing a new edition of my 2008 novel and am absolutely thrilled that this time around I actually know what I’m doing. Unlike then, now I have a fabulous designer in my good friend Kia Heavey who also happens to be a fan of my debut effort — especially its main character, Madeline Rose.

Please check out the cover options below and share your opinions in the comments. While this is only the first round, I don’t want to take too long in making a decision. I’m diligently reading through the original manuscript and tweaking little things like word choice, dialogue, and sentence structure while maintaining the integrity of the original story. I’ve also written a new Foreward chronicling the evolution of the book and my career since its publication.

Indescribably excited about all of the wonderful things happening with Water Signs and Writestream Publishing and can’t wait to release the book next month. Stay tuned!

UPDATE: I’m not sure why but for some reason the Pisces fish are not showing up in the depictions of the moon. However, this new image will be incorporated into the moon just like the original cover (although it is a different Pisces image).

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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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