Interview with Frank Daidone

An Interview with Frank Daidone, author of Life’s Equation

 

 

For those who haven’t read it yet, can you give us a quick summary of what Life’s Equation is all about?

It’s really about asking ourselves ‘What is my purpose?” More specifically, questioning whether or not we’re on the right path. As far back as I can remember, I’ve attempted to make sense of my own purpose in life, sometimes accepting only what seemed realistic while disregarding pretty much anything else. Most of us subconsciously go through this same exercise throughout multiple stages of our lives, while others constantly surrender to the critical voice in their head, replacing the possibility and creativity with resistance and doubt.

We all have the tendency to set unfulfilling goals for ourselves, which restricts our personal potential and makes us miss valuable opportunities because of our own struggle with self-doubt.

That’s how Life’s Equation came together. I wanted to share my own stories about people I’ve met along the way who influenced me in inspiring ways while also elaborating further on some basic, but unexpected truths and life lessons that I hope, in turn, will inspire readers of the book. I hope readers will celebrate their experiences through logically discovering their true purpose, all while helping to make the world a better place in the process.

You are accomplished in so many parts of your life. What inspired you to take the plunge into authoring a book?

I’ve always had a unique, and I believe, acute perspective on reality. I also almost always apply logic to projects, challenges and truly any issue I’m dealt with, working to eliminate and/or reduce any emotional barriers that can cloud judgment and clarity. Throughout my life, I’ve had the ability to see my life and experiences both internally and externally.
In other words, while I’m experiencing situations in the moment whether mundane or extraordinary, I’m collecting the information, almost as an observer, to be able to apply it in a scientific manner to gain a clearer perspective and understanding. I began putting a pen to paper to create a formula that made sense of one’s experiences and how information gained from those experiences is constituted through exploring a common energy in all living things twenty years ago. The reflection of my life’s experiences through this process is what inspired me to be a writer.

Memoirs are such a delicate craft – it’s really a balance between personal and the
universal. Was it difficult to balance the two?

Not really, when you have the connection of the personal to the universal, clarity and balance of the two become more accessible. The process itself was transformational and certainly there were certain roadblocks as it was almost like working in real time. Different from most people, I don’t have a problem putting myself out there, in fact I needed to check in to make sure it wasn’t too much and wanted to keep my stories relevant and with empathy for the readers.

What do you consider to be the most essential elements of a well-written memoir?

I strongly believe that when one chooses to write such a personal exposé, it’s essential to go “all in.” In other words, if you’re not going to put everything out there from the beginning to the end, even being remotely tentative, you might want to choose another route. It’s just my personal opinion, but I believe writing in a relatable manner including honest stories, both humorous and heartbreaking is essential to a good memoir.

Each chapter provides incredible insight and an overall lesson. Do you have a favorite from the book?

That’s a hard question because I believe the lessons in all of the chapters are pertinent to the message. However, if I were to answer the question honestly, I do have a few; Chapter four on perspective is one of the individually empowering concepts that the reader can actually have control over. I also like the final chapter on “purpose” because it incorporates imagination in order to help craft one’s future.

Your book has been impacting people across all ages and stages of their life. What’s the biggest lesson you hope they take away from reading Life’s Equation?

The feedback both verbally and through written reviews has been extraordinary. I’ve had people both young and old thank me in very emotional manners for writing the book and have expressed to me how much the message impacted them personally and often times helped with healing. I hope that the readers gain an understanding that while we are all unique in our own way, there really is a common energy in all of us. I hope that message is clarified and inspires them to want to help make the world a better place, not just for themselves, but for all.

A percentage your book sales goes toward United Cerebral Palsy. Can you tell us a bit more about how and why you got involved with the organization?

As children, alongside my family, my sister and I were both volunteers for UCP as a result of my brother having Cerebral Palsy. In dedicating my book to my brother, I felt it necessary to get involved with a related organization to help in any way I could and formed a relationship with the Director of Institutional Support and donate $1 of every book sale to UCP.

That’s truly incredible! Can you tell us a bit about your brother Anthony, and how his CP impacted your family dynamic growing up? How did it affect you?

Anthony was and still is my true hero and my inspiration for practically every charge in my life. While we never exchanged words verbally to each other we had a very special connection. His joy of life despite his extraordinary inhibiting circumstances far surpassed any level of contentment I have ever witnessed in any human being. While our family growing up was restricted to doing practically any normal family activities, outings or vacations together, Anthony’s existence enriched the dynamic in our family and shaped who we all are today.

What’s on the horizon for you as an author? Can we expect to see more writing from you in 2017 and beyond?

I am currently working on book number two as we speak. It is a continuation of Life’s Equation by taking the ideas and concepts to a new level attempting to address issues we all face as a society. I have a vision of a brighter more peaceful existence for all living things and I see a clear path on how we can get there. My next book will be a roadmap for peace.

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Guest Post: Erik Therme on ‘Kindle Scout’

An Introduction to Kindle Scout!

I’m excited to hold a guest post today by Erik Therme! I’ve previously interviewed Erik for the release of his second novel, and reviewed his first novel, Morton. This newest novel is titled ROAM.

Erik wants to tell us about Kindle Scout as an option for non-traditional publishing. Take it away Erik!

One of the questions I’m most commonly asked is one of the most difficult to answer: “How should I publish my book? Should I pursue a traditional publishing deal, which might take months—if not years—to attain? Or should I self-publish, which leaves me in total creative control . . . but also in control of everything?” The easy answer, of course, is that both paths have their pros and cons, but what many people don’t realize is there’s a third option: Kindle Scout.

For those not familiar with Scout, it’s an Amazon program where readers “vote” on whether or not a book should be awarded a publishing contract. Authors promote their book for 30 days, and at the end of that time, the Scout team makes a determination. The process is surprisingly simple.

The first thing you need is a cover. Sure, you can whip one up yourself using free online tools, but let me offer a strong caveat: To be a fiscally successful writer, you have to treat your writing like a business, which means spending money. Think of your cover as an investment. It’s the first thing a reader is going to see. Yes, it can get pricey to have one designed from scratch, but pre-made covers are prevalent and affordable. Two of my books—Resthaven and Roam—were both existing covers from a pre-made site, and I’ve gotten numerous compliments on both. Spend some money on a cover. You won’t regret it.

Next: uploading your manuscript. The Scout site recommends your book be professionally copyedited before submission, but for those who can’t afford that expense, fear not—if the book is selected, it will be edited before publication. Some books receive light in-house editing, while others are outsourced to Kirkus. Regardless, having your book copyedited before you submit will only increase your chances of having it selected, so if you have the funds, it’s not a bad idea.

Last, but certainly not least, is your book description. I could easily write an entire post on crafting book blurbs, but for now, I’ll keep it simple. At minimum, you want to disclose the protagonist, the setting, and reveal the conflict. Show what’s at stake. Your goal is to hook the reader and entice them into wanting more. Some authors joke it’s more difficult to write the book description than the actual book, but don’t despair; practice makes perfect!

And with that, you’re ready to submit. Once everything is uploaded, it only takes a few days for your campaign to go live on the Kindle Scout site. If your campaign receives a lot of page visits and votes (or nominations, as they call them) your book goes into the “Hot & Trending” category. The longer it stays in this category, the better chance it has of being noticed. The final selection process is based on multiple factors, and no one—not even previous Scout winners—knows the exact criteria.

Writing a book in itself is a major accomplishment and one you should be proud of –regardless of whether or not you’re selected. All you can do is write the best book you can, believe in yourself, and try to make your own luck.

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Review: Emily Fridlund – History of Wolves

History of Wolves
Emily Fridlund

Linda lives in an ex-commune with parents who love her, but are a bit off-handed with their parenting. School isn’t perfect either, being labeled a commie and a freak. But it’s not like she is interested in school anyway. The chance to make some money and babysit the new neighbour’s kid seems the perfect idle escape.

Sold as a ‘Coming of Age’ novel, I honestly don’t know why I kept reading this novel. Linda doesn’t even make a choice, as promised in the blurb. She just wanders along in her own life, with no absolution and no explanations.

For me, it was not obvious that Paul was sick, until he was really sick and sleeping a lot. Kids get sick right? Linda takes him out in the forest and he seems like a perfectly normal boy to me. A quick google didn’t tell me how long a child is likely to last in his condition, but 4 years seems like a long time to survive.

Again, this novel had flicking back and forwards in time, making me feel slightly sick and very confused! Why should I care about your current life Linda? Why should I care about your behaviour towards Lily and the teacher? Why should I care about anything in this novel?

I understand that this novel is trying to expose at least some of what goes wrong in Christian Scientist lives – they believe that if you don’t think you (or anyone else) is ill, you will survive. I could also argue the same for other religions where blood transfusions are not permitted etc. I think for this novel to have worked on me, I needed the connection to be more explicit.

I hoped and hoped for this novel’s redemption, but it never happened. I’m even hesitating to give 2 stars, even though I finished it. Choose something else. If you want another novel with death and lies, pick Wolf Hollow, even though I didn’t love that one much either.

Hachette Australia | 1st January 2017 | AU $29.99 | Paperback

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Review: Sally Hepworth – the mother’s promise

the mother’s promise
Sally Hepworth

Alice refuses to accept that she is dying. She’s come through other health scares before, because she doesn’t have a choice. She’s the only person in 15 year old Zoe’s life that Zoe can trust to any extent. As things progress, both Alice and Zoe must learn to let go – and so must Kate and Sonja.

This novel hit me. The writing is powerful and it makes the reader slip effortlessly inside each of the women’s minds. Each has a unique view of the world, and their place in it – it seems like they are running their lives, but really there are external, unknown factors making an impact. The reader will be invested irrevocably in the story.

I’ve tagged this as Women’s Fiction, but really that’s quite unfair. This novel is edgy and painful to read, and not soppy at all. It will make you hurt in the end, even if you are ambivalent about some of the characters.

I was on the edge of my seat towards the end. I couldn’t put it down and I stayed up far too late to see the ending. The ending was inevitable, and yet at the same time it had a twist that the reader might have seen coming. Oooh, spine-shiveringly good.

I think that I may need to revise my ratings system of 5 stars if I am going to reread it. I’m giving this novel 5 stars because it made me cry, and it made me feel everything that the women were going through.

Pan Macmillan | 1st March 2017 | AU $29.99 | Paperback

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Review: Emily Reynolds – A Beginner’s Guide to Losing Your Mind

A Beginner’s Guide to Losing Your Mind
Emily Reynolds

Emily Reynolds struggled with depression from teenagerhood, ending in a period of psychosis that finally had her correctly diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder type I. This novel is her insights on how to cope, how to get help and how to speak to others about having a mental illness.

Emily has written a brilliant guide for those who might be affected by mental illness, either as a patient or as a concerned friend. Her articulation of the problems she faced in getting a diagnosis and getting well are ones that many with non-physical illnesses will recognise.

You’re going to need to be a bit insensitive to lots of swearing, the text is liberally scattered with them. But for me, this rang true as the mind of someone with mental health things going on. Sometimes just saying ‘f*** it’ is all you can do! And being sick is something that you can swear about.

At times, Emily’s conversational tone seems a little much for the ordinary reader, but there are real gems of wisdom in there. I particularly liked her section on relationships and how NOT to tell someone you have health problems! Emily says that every person is supposed to have a novel in them, but honestly I feel like Emily has already written mine!

Towards the end of the novel I started feeling quite weighed down by her discussions of suicide and self-harm. Although lighthearted, it’s not exactly easy reading. In addition, her frank discussions on the impact her uncontrolled illness had on her family were potentially unsettling. In fact, it came as quite a relief that a significant chunk was helpful resources and acknowledgements.

Buy this for a loved one, buy it for yourself. I am certain that the style of this novel will not be for anyone, but it is worth trying it out. Despite giving this 5 stars, I’m not sure it is going to remain on my shelf – I want it to get out there and be available for other people who are less experienced than I in this field.

Hachette Australia | 28th February 2017 | AU $32.99 | Paperback

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Review: Emma Geen – The Many Selves of Katherine North

The Many Selves of Katherine North
Emma Geen

Katherine (Kit) has been projecting her consciousness into endangered animals in an effort to understand them for longer than any others in her job – 7 years in fact. After the death of her host Ressie while she is inhabiting it, Kit starts to get a bit paranoid about what her company might be doing behind the scenes. Can she stop them before it is too late?

I’d like to hear other people’s opinions about this novel. What do you feel like you gained from it? It took me a long time to sink into this novel, and then I struggled with the then/now perspective changes. I recognised Kit’s mind struggling with the same thing, and I couldn’t separate her projections away from the truth.

It has a very interesting premise, that it is possible to go inside an animal’s body and control the limbs. The fact that the mind can comprehend it at all is amazing – the concept of ‘plasticity’. Of course, the animal is an empty shell, and so you can become almost anything. I couldn’t understand how you would get funding for such a thing! Research studies have enough trouble getting funding as it is, let alone for a body that can be harmed.

What I felt confused about was the tourists. How could they adjust to the syndrome of swapping bodies when Katherine herself always struggled? Clamping down on sensations is one thing, muting the whole experience is another.

Also, what’s so bad about human Ressies? It’s no worse than say inhabiting a cyborg, and it’s potentially less dangerous, depending on where you put the Ressie out! Perhaps that’s the crux of why I didn’t understand this novel, and why I’m only giving it 3 stars.

Bloomsbury | 1st July 2016 | AU $28.00 | Paperback

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Review: Garth Nix – FROGKISSER!

FROGKISSER!
Garth Nix

Princess Anya always gets the responsibility of cleaning up after her sister’s messes. Unfortunately, she’s also trying to avoid her step-step father killing her off and taking the throne. When her step-step father makes yet another one of her sister’s wooers a frog, it’s up to Anya to save the day.

Who wouldn’t love a plucky heroine who really just wants to sit in her library and study sorcery? Oh wait, maybe that’s just me. No! I don’t think so. Nix has once again created a strong female character with a set of unique character flaws. She’s young enough to be appealing to young readers, but there are some in-jokes in the novel that teenagers would enjoy too.

I’m going to be handing over my copy of this novel to a 16 year old keen Garth Nix reader to see what he thinks. Is this novel particularly new and exciting? Is it adding something exciting to the genre of fairytales? Maybe is all I can say. It is certainly better than some of the other offerings out there, and if you like Garth Nix, you will probably still love this novel.

What you can’t see from the cover image is the glorious fluorescent yellow page edges. Check out my instagram to see them. It almost makes me want to put the book back-to-front on my bookshelf so that it can stand out!

I can see where this novel could easily become a series – there is reference to an overall set of Rules after all. But this novel was perfect in itself. This novel is far better than the other recent Nix novel, Newt’s Emerald, but not as good as Clariel or Goldenhand. I’m giving it 4 stars, although I would consider reading it again should a sequel appear.

Allen & Unwin | 22 February 2017 | AU $19.99 | Paperback

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Review: Josh Martin – Ariadnis

Ariadnis
Josh Martin

Aula and Joomia are the Chosen Ones, forced to compete in a trial to decide the fates of their nations. Little is as it seems however and things are falling apart quicker than either of them can control. They’ve always been on opposite sides, but now they must unite or all will be lost.

I once again expected this novel to be far more exciting than it was. I was tantalised by the amazing tactile cover that lept out at me and screamed ‘read me now!’ Sadly, it just wasn’t to be. Despite there supposedly being a sense of urgency and death imposed on me from the blurb, I never felt very concerned.

I could see how the two girls were related, in that they were almost exact opposites. What I couldn’t believe was how dumb they were. Aula is a complete oaf and I just couldn’t get connected to her in any way. Joomia was no better, being a complete wuss about everything! Those opposites could have made them powerful characters, but instead I didn’t even feel pity for them.

There was a chance for this novel to have a big twist – but instead it was just framed as an ineffectual memory. I appreciated more people being involved in a prophesy than usual, but the plot struggled along so slowly that I really had to concentrate on which character was speaking – both of them were equally boring.

What is the obsession with creating sequels and series these days? This novel worked perfectly as a single novel. No need to drag it out any more than it already was. They spend the first half of the novel dragging their feet about training, and the other half in a frenzied mess.

Hachette Australia | 1st February 2017 | AU $16.99 | Paperback

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Review: Elly Blake – FrostBlood

FrostBlood
Elly Blake

17-year old Ruby is a FireBlood in a world of passionless FrostBloods. After the King’s soldiers kill her beloved mother and stick her in prison for a year, Ruby is ready for revenge. Even if that revenge comes by way of making friends with some renegade FrostBloods and plotting to melt the throne (literally).

The language in this was passionless. For a novel about fury and rage being key to power, the text itself didn’t inspire that in me. Perhaps there was too much detail for me? It felt like clinical observation by Ruby the whole time. Ruby’s reponse to ‘Die in pain’ was too cold and clinical to something that was spat out in fear.

There wasn’t enough of a twist in this novel for me. It was more like a slight turning of the head, and more could have been done with it. The same went for the cruelty of the King – please tell me less about it, and show me more. I couldn’t have cared less whether Ruby died or not, and that’s not a good characteristic to have in a main character.

For a comparative novel, I’d suggest Blackthorn and Grim because there is a similar theme of revenge vs healing going on in there. If you’re looking for a very similar magic offering, perhaps Red Queen or the Poison Study trilogy could be up your alley.

I’d recommend it for teenage readers, rather than YA readers despite the ‘heated kisses’ because there isn’t enough depth and surprise to hold an older reader’s attention in my opinion. 3 stars from me.

Hachette Australia | 1st January 2017 | AU $19.99 | Paperback

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Review: Jodi McAlister – Valentine

Valentine
Jodi McAlister

Pearl and Finn (and Marie and Cardy) were all born on the 14th of February, and have suffered through countless Valentine’s Day celebrations together. After a horse appears and one of them disappears, it is time for Pearl to get her act together, both literally and figuratively.

I was left underwhelmed by this novel. There just seemed to be nothing outstanding about it. The characters were a bit wussy, I couldn’t get inside anyone’s heads and Pearl was an inconsistent narrator who was mainly irritating for me to read.

I thought that the premise of the novel sounded exciting, with four teenagers being born on one day, then being killed off. It turned out that mostly they weren’t even killed off! And the blurb promises me that the Unseelie want to kill the Valentine, but to me, most of the action seemed to happen from the Seelie side of things.

It was interesting to have a perspective that for once wasn’t the ‘it’ character. Much as Pearl would like to be the special one, she isn’t. That doesn’t stop her behaving stupidly about it though and being completely whiney. The worst part for me was the emotions seemed to be completely false, and the dialogue was stilted to boot.

The ending of this novel was mainly a relief. Yes, it’s the first in a series with a paranormal twist, but don’t feel compelled to read the rest when they finally appear. Try breathing under water for a similar teenage paranormal vibe, or maybe Haunt Me for more of a love story. Three begrudging stars from me.

Penguin Random House | 30th January 2017 | AU $19.99 | Paperback

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