Funky Pretty by the Beach Boys

I’m not sure how I’ve lived 50 years on this planet without knowing about this song, but many thanks to bestselling author Richard Maddox, who brought it to my attention during a phone call about his upcoming interview on The Writestream. Before I can even hope to finish my sequel, I have several client projects to complete, but when I do get around to it, I may have to find a way to incorporate this into the dialogue.

Anyway, just thought I’d post this fun video before I get back to work. Enjoy the weekend!

If you would like to preview and/or purchase Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal, featuring two main characters (male and female) who are Pisces, visit Amazon.com. Available in paperback and Kindle.

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Book Trailer for Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal

Book Trailer for Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal

Posted on our Writestream Media Channel on YouTube.

Her descriptions draw you in, creating, as a good book should, a movie in your mind. The underlying themes of family and, most importantly, love, make this a compelling story. Daria is an amazing writer and her use of music to set the time and tone really gave me the sense of being there watching these events unfold.

–Author and Poet Kender MacGowen

Daria is in love with romance and thank God for it! She writes her tale of love, life’s struggles, and dreams. To read such a wonderful novel in today s world of cynics, it is truly a breath of fresh air. This story is a refreshing theme in our present society. It reminds me of those great films of the 1930s with Ronald Coleman and Greer Garson or even Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. We need more romance in all our lives and Daria seems to live this in her writings! If this is her very first book, she will have a wonderful career as a writer promoting good old American values that made this country great. When men were real men with honor and courage and their women were strong, and they inspired their men to greatness. — Filmmaker Jack Marino

To begin, the heroine, Madeline Rose, is an engaging character. She deals with the same issues most real women deal with at some point or other during the course of an average American, middle class, family oriented, and traditional life. I myself, though from a blue-collar background rather than an upper middle class family like Maddy s, have been exposed to many of the same situations portrayed in the novel, albeit second hand, through the eyes of my sister, who dealt with the same sort of dating woes as Maddy, before she married in 1990. These issues, (being stood up by selfish men, insecurity on the dating scene, and worries about weight and self esteem) are portrayed in a realistic manner by DiGiovanni. The Rose family reminds me of my own; the novel is set in Southeastern ennsylvania, near my neck of the WaterSignswoods, as well as the Jersey Shore, Philly, and Florida. I loved reading about the family dynamic similar to mine, with Italian food, sisters who share bedrooms, parents who love and protect their children, (sometimes a little too much), and aunts who love to gamble in Atlantic City. Madeline s Down Syndrome brother and her battle with anxiety were additional themes that spoke to me. I imagine thousands of other women will relate to Maddy in some way or other; her story is of the American girl next door, only deeper. Cliques, cattiness and backstabbing women are not to be found in Maddy s world. What we find are love, laughter, family, hard work, professionalism, beautiful clothes, and pop music. The hero, Ken, Maddy s true love, comes across as very down to earth, and a bit insecure about his blue-collar roots and upbringing in a Jersey Shore town. The couple s sweet beginning turns sour after a series of misunderstandings, missed chances, and over-thinking of average situations. Initially, I was sad. I wanted Maddy and Ken to get married within two years of their initial meeting, have a family, and live happily ever after. But…this was not to be, and that s what makes the story. The separate courses these individuals take, their experiences, (good and bad), and the relationships they nurture with their own families and new friends along the way, make for an exciting ending to this charming novel. Ken and Maddy spend long years living separate lives, making their own choices, building careers, and yearning for each other throughout; the happy ending is worth waiting for.

–Author Daniella Bova

To read all reviews, visit Amazon.com, where you can also view my author page.

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Great Reads, Great $2.99 Kindle Deals for Labor Day Weekend

Love your freedom, a good read and a great deal? This Labor Day weekend the authors of the CLFA want to facilitate your reading enjoyment while keeping your wallet full and happy with special $2.99 Kindle deals. With a variety of genres from sci-fi to contemporary romance to dystopia, there is something for everyone. Support talented artists who tell compelling stories and love the USA!

Visit Nocturnal Lives for a complete run-down on all participating books. And don’t forget to like the CLFA on Facebook.

P.S. Water Signs is on the list. 😉

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Memories of Madeline

Me as a baby. My grandmother's hands are holding me on either side.

Me as a baby. My grandmother’s hands are holding me on either side.

From the time I was six years old, February 15 has been a melancholy date on the calendar because it marks the anniversary of losing the only grandparent I’d ever known: my maternal grandmother, Madeline Cauterucci. Readers familiar with the back story of Water Signs already know that my main character’s name, Madeline Rose, is derived from my grandmother and my mother (although in the story, “Rose” is also the family surname). The circumstances surrounding her death and my mother’s decision to leave me at home with a babysitter rather than attend her viewing and funeral led to a very interesting resolution to my panic and anxiety disorder much later in life. I blogged about incorporating this real-life experience into the book a few years back:

Which brings me to perhaps the most controversial element of the book, which is also an event straight out of real life. While still battling panic and anxiety disorder — in spite of embracing just about every known remedy from prayer and meditation to Yoga and exercise — I bumped into a very interesting woman at a monthly business/networking meeting. Trained in what is known in military circles as “remote viewing”, she was in reality what most civilians call a psychic — and many Christians a “handmaiden of the Devil”, although upon first sight, she looked like just another no-nonsense businesswoman.

When Maddy meets Ann Claire in the novel, it’s an accurate retelling of my own experience. Thus, when Ann accurately calls out Maddy’s guilt for “leaving behind a middle brother who is handicapped” (my brother Ralph who is in-between oldest son, Mark, and youngest son, Paul), and notes that she is still “in mourning” for a grandmother who’d passed away over 20 years prior, it’s an example of fact that has only been fictionalized marginally. I might have changed the names and altered the descriptions a bit, but the basic events are 100% true, including the fact that Maddy awakes one morning — six months after a private reading with Ann — to discover that for the first time in years, her head is clear, her stomach is calm and that the black cloud that seemed to relentlessly hang over her head has completely dissipated:

I believe I’ve had such a close connected to the woman I called “Nanny” even after she left her earthly body in 1974 and crossed over the the other side because of the circumstances of my own conception and birth. I was not a “planned” pregnancy (although I am grateful everyday for Catholic, pro-life parents). In fact, news of my existence could not have come at a worse time for my mother and father, who were struggling to keep food on the table and a roof over the heads of their four children. Having been blessed with at least one girl, my mother was happy. My father was a new resident and even given the fact that he would go on to a successful surgical career, nothing was guaranteed at the time.

Me at around 18 months.

Me at around 18 months.

Then a month after receiving this unexpected, earth-shattering news, my mother’s father — husband of Madeline — had a sudden heart attack and died. Having been very close to him, my mom of course was devastated, adding even more stress to the pregnancy. My grandmother subsequently spent all of her time in mourning. Until several months later when I was born on March 14 and gave her a reason to smile again. Ok, maybe that sounds a little self-serving but from all accounts, I was like her little “doll.” She was constantly bathing me, dressing me up, fussing over me and just loving me the way a devoted grandmother would.

Although I was a young child I’ll always remember her warm smile, happy-go-lucky personality, affinity for Lawrence Welk and adherence to all things feminine in the form of skirts and blouses, regular hair appointments, dresses, and matching pearl and/or gemstone necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Come to think of it, I don’t believe I ever once saw Nanny in a pair of slacks. Like my mother, she was a consummate lady in terms of fashion and sensibility.

After my grandfather passed away, Nanny lived with my wonderful Aunt Emma and Uncle Al but frequently made visitations to our house where she’d stay with us for weeks at a time. One the night of February 14, she and I curled up on the couch to watch a movie called Ryan’s Daughter — something she’d talked excitedly about for days. My parents had gone out to visit a friend who’d been in the hospital so it was just Nanny and my four siblings in the house.

The movie had barely begun when she suddenly succumbed to heart failure, although as young kids we had no idea what was going on — just that it was incredibly frightening. Nanny began shaking violently as her body temperature dropped, prompting us all to run around gathering blankets, make her hot tea

Nanny (middle) with her friend Angie (left) and my Great Aunt Emma enjoying a vacation together.

Nanny (middle) with her friend Angie (left) and my Great Aunt Emma enjoying a vacation together.

and comfort her as best we could while my oldest brother called our parents. Having been diagnosed with diabetes several years earlier, I’d later learn that this was not an unexpected event. I remember Nanny being in and out of the hospital for treatment of various diabetes-related complications and watching her administer scary-looking insulin needles into her arm every day — always with a smile on her face. The woman never complained about anything, at least not in front of me. But even at a tender age, I’d vowed to myself that I would never get that awful disease and suffer the same fate of daily insulin injections. And thanks be to God (and dieting + exercise discipline) I’ve thus far managed to keep that promise.

It’s hard to describe the sheer terror and helplessness I experienced as little girl that night. Watching my beloved grandmother struggle for breath and for warmth while we all did our best to remedy a futile situation is a memory that will be with me forever. I vaguely recall an ambulance coming to take her away and subsequently receiving the devastating news the next morning (delivered gently by Dad with Mom by his side) that Nanny had “gone to heaven.” In response, I ran out of the room crying. Some time later, my mother gifted me with Nanny’s engagement ring, left to me in her will. Since becoming an adult and having it sized down to fit my finger, I’ve never once taken it off, except to clean it. When I made my Confirmation at the age of 12, I took the name Madeline in her honor, although I remember making that decision in anticipation of being confirmed someday in the future soon after her death.

As a child and adolescent, I had no idea that decades later at the age of 30 I’d be engaged in a battle to overcome panic and anxiety disorder partially caused by a lack of closure with my grandmother’s death. Or that it would be a psychic I’d bump into a monthly women’s social meeting who would make that diagnosis and suggest holding my own private ceremony to honor her memory and to ask her spirit to let go of me just a little. This woman strongly sensed that Nanny’s

Me (left), Mom and  Carolyn on Easter Sunday, 1970.

Me (left), Mom and
Carolyn on Easter Sunday, 1970.

presence around me was a bit too suffocating and that I needed to gently find a way to assure her it was ok to release me.

I followed this woman’s advice, lit some candles, said some prayers and thanked my grandmother for loving me so unconditionally. Then I told her how much I loved her and asked her to continue to hang around me in spirit — just not as intensely because it was affecting my ability to fulfill my own God-given purpose.

Not a day has passed since February 15, 1974 that I haven’t thought of Nanny, if only briefly. Her loving presence, her warmth, her smile, her sense of humor and her appreciation for the simple things in life will never be forgotten. Nanny lived a good and happy life if not an extravagant one. She raised four kids, suffered through the loss of a son during World War II and dealt with a myriad of diabetes-related health issues. But she did it all with grace and always with an appreciation for the simple pleasures of life: playing cards with her friends, spending time with family, going to the movies, cooking, shopping and being the strongest influence on my life for my first six years on earth.

Thanks for the memories, Nanny. You are loved and missed always but I know I’ll see you again someday.

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