Posted in About me, Fun tidbits, Helpful information, interview

Talking with Tom Starita

Hello everyone, meet Tom Starita.  He has recently released his second fiction book.  For those of you who don’t know already I like to get to know the authors behind the stories I am reading.  Today we are meeting American writer Tom Starita.

Author’s Bio:  Tom Starita is the author of two novels, “Two Ways to Sunday” and “Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated” and makes an impact on everyone he encounters. When asked for her thoughts about him, Oprah Winfrey said, “Who?” Tom Hanks refused to respond to an email asking for a quote and former Mets great Mookie Wilson once waved to him from a passing taxi.

Originally from Staten Island, NY Starita has now found a home in the beautiful beach community of Stratford, Connecticut where he remains a loyal fan of the New York Mets.

Questions

1.      What/Who inspired you to write “Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated”?

When the historians look back on the town of Weehawken, NJ they’re going to note two tragedies that resulted in a creative tsunami of epic proportions. The first involved Alexander Hamilton, and led to the play, “Hamilton.” The second involved me, Tom Starita and resulted in, “Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated.”

Back in February of 2013 I was living in Weehawken and if my life was a rock band I would have been Dire Straits. The week of Valentine’s Day I was diagnosed with approximately 9 strains of the flu. This presented somewhat of a challenge since I was living alone so I decided to hibernate and not die.

That’s exactly what happened.

Come late Friday night I woke up and I was starving. Starving isn’t even the word for it. I was, “alone on an island and don’t know how to fish” hungry. I made my way to the kitchen and remembered I hadn’t gone food shopping in at least a week and a half. I must have opened every door and drawer and my options were baking soda and ice tea. All right, not ideal but I’m in New Jersey, there are diners every five feet, I’ll just drive to one.

That’s when I looked out the window and noticed ten inches of snow.

I was snowed in with no food, no options, no prospects, no hope and that’s when Lucas James came peeking out of my imagination to introduce himself. I ran to the computer and started typing, and I kept typing every day until I finished telling his story.

2. Do you feel you have a personal connection with any of the characters?

People often ask me if Lucas James is really me, which makes me wonder if they think I’m a psychopath! Lucas James was literally the only reason why I got out of bed for a long time, so I’ll always be thankful he showed up. He’s also the ultimate cautionary tale of what happens when a person allows his Id to run rampant.

4. The book’s description ends with “Is ‘growing up’ just another way of saying ‘selling out’ “.  Is this something you have believed?

Nope. When I started writing this book I had no idea of a plot, or an ending or anything else except I knew his voice. I also knew that I wanted to write someone irredeemable and be out front about that and see if I can still convince the reader to like him/root for him. That tag line expressed his viewpoint on life perfectly and should be a red flag for anyone wondering what kind of person/character this is!

I knew I had something when my mom emailed me to say that she didn’t want to like this book but she did. Mission accomplished.

5. So, what is your plan after this book? Will you continue to focus on writing fiction books?

I’m actually shopping my third book now. It’s called, “Total BS (bedtime stories)” and it’s exactly what it sounds like. Quick and easy stories for adults to read before bed, or in the bathroom or while commuting on the Staten Island Ferry. They’re weird and funny, and sometimes a little dark as well! And I think there are at least ten of them that could be developed into a movie—but that’s a different conversation!

6. Tell me something random about yourself

I once heckled Paul Anka at the blackjack table at Foxwoods casino. I think the line that cut the deepest was, “you’re no Billy Joel.”

For the record I’m not a Billy Joel fan—although “Downeastern Alexa” is a fun song to sing to.

7. If you were in a life and death karaoke contest what song would you sing?

Great question! Either Bryan Adams, “Summer of 69” or Journey, “Any Way You Want It”

8. Should I buy your book?

Another great question. After careful consideration I’d have to say yes, yes you should.

9. Does this mean that, “Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated” is the best book ever written by a guy from Staten Island, NY who now resides somewhere else?

Admittedly I might be a little biased but yes it is.

10. Worst owners in professional sports?

That’s easy, the Wilpons.

Let’s Go Mets!

 

Book info:

  • ISBN-10: 1520705816
  • ISBN-13: 978-1520705811

Find this author at:

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all @TomStarita

Happy reading!!!

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Posted in advice, Helpful information, Monday Mania

Monday Mania #18: Books About Developmental Disorders

Developmental Disorders are common diagnoses in today’s world but are not really understood by most people. In this post Developmental Disorders are defined as neurologically based conditions that can interfere with the acquisition, retention or application of specific skills or sets of information (ex: Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD and Tourette’s Syndrome).  These disorders are not considered mental illnesses, although some symptoms do overlap, because the brain is affected differently (see Monday Mania #17: Books about Mental Illness).  Every developmental disorder is a uniquely confusing time for the  individual diagnosed and their family.

Developmental disorders are not preventable or curable at this time, but they are treatable.  Below I have compiled a short list of books for the whole family.  This list is far from complete but will help give you a start.

The books are separated into 3 categories: general resources, family/self-help, and memoirs.  The books were placed in a category based on the subject and how the information is presented.

* If you are aware of other books that can help please put the book’s title and author in the comment section at the end of the post.*

General Resources

  1. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-IV) (2013) by American Psychological Association
  2. The Essential Guide to Psychiatric Drugs (2007) by J.M. Gorman
  3. Understanding Developmental Disorders: A Casual Modelling Approach (2005) by John Morton
  4. Living with Tourette’s Syndrome (1995) by Elaine Fantle Shimberg
  5. Social Skills for Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Developmental Disorders (2012) by Laurence R. Sargent
  6. Dual Diagnosis: An Introduction to Mental Health Needs of Persons With Developmental Disorders (2002) by Dorothy M. Griffins, Jane Summers and Chrissoula Stavrkaki

Family/Self Help

  1. The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome (2006) by Tony Attwood
  2. Understanding Autistic Behaviors (2018) by Theresa M Regan
  3. The Caregivers Companion (2015) by Carolyn A. Brent
  4. The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum (2013) by Temple Grandin
  5. Anxiety Relief for Kids (2017) by Bridget Flynn Walker
  6. Being The Other One:  Growing Up With a Brother or sister Who Has Special Needs (2005) by Kate Strohm
  7. Attention Deficit Disorder: The Unfocused Mind in Children and Adults (2006) by Thomas E. Brown
  8. Planning For the Future:  Providing a Meaningful Life for a Child With a Disability (2005) by M.L. Russell

Memoirs

  1. Thinking in Pictures: My Life With Autism (2006) by Temple Grandin
  2. Passing For Normal (2000) by Amy Wilensky
  3. Stuttering: A Life Bound Up in Words (1997) by Marty Jezer
  4. The Ride Together: A Brother and Sisters Memoir of Autism in the Family (2003) by J. and P. Karasik

Remember, this list is FAR from complete and I encourage you to look for ones that are ment for the specific diagnose(s) you or your family member received, including children’s books to help younger kids understand what is happening to themselves or their sibling.

Please know that there are a variety of different psychology professionals, groups and organizations out there at the local, national and international level.  There are multiple national organizations with websites that allow you to search for resources “near” you.  I am not personally acquainted with organizations/groups covering all developmental disorders, but your health care professional probably knows who they are.  (I am familiar with a few organizations for Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, contact me for these)

If you are aware of other books/resources that can help please put the information in the comment section at the end of the post.

** Do not use my list as a substitute for care from a mental health professional(s). I created this list to be used in combination with help from mental health professionals, I want to pass on these resources because I have a family member who was diagnosed with a nuerodevelopmental disorder. ** 

Posted in advice, Helpful information, Monday Mania

Monday Mania #17: Books About Mental Illness

Mental Illness is a common diagnoses in our society.  Almost everyone knows someone related to  or diagnosed with a mental illness, some just aren’t aware of it.  In this post mental illness refers to biological brain disorders that interfere with normal brain chemistry (ex: bipolar disorder, OCD, PTSD and Schizophrenia).  This is opposed to Developmental disorders (ex: autism spectrum disorders & ADHD), which I am posting about next week.  I am addressing them separately because they are different types of disorders. But whatever the diagnoses is, it’s a confusing time for the diagnosed individual and their family.

Mental illnesses are not preventable or curable at this time, but they are treatable.  Below, I have compiled a list of books to help both diagnosed individuals and family members.  This list is far from complete but can provide you with a start.

The books are separated into 3 categories: resources/guides, family/self-help, and memoirs.  The books were placed in a category based on how the information is presented and who wrote it.

* If you are aware of other books that can help please put the book’s title and author in the comment section at the end of the post.*

General Resources

  1. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-IV) by American Psychiatric Association (5/18/2013)
  2. The Essential Guide to Psychiatric Drugs (2007) by J.M. Gorman
  3.  Brave New Brain: Conquering Mental Illness in the Era of the Genome (2001) by N Andreason
  4. The Broken Brain: The Biological Revolution in Psychiatry (1984) by N. Andreason

Family/Self Help

  1. How to Live With a Mentally Ill Person: A Handbook of Day-to-Day Strategies (1996) by C. Adamec
  2. The Caring Family: Living with Chronic Mental Illness (1982) by K. Bernheim, R. Lewine and C. Beale
  3. Calming your Anxious Mind (2007) by J. Brantley
  4. Understanding Depression: What We Know and What You Can Do About it. (2003) by J.R. DePaulo
  5. What To Do When Someone you Love is Depressed (2007) by M. Golant and S. Golant
  6. More Than Moody: Recognizing and Treating Adolescent Depression (2002) by H. Koplewicz
  7. Planning for The Future: Providing a Meaningful Life for a Child with a Disability (2005) by M.L. Russell
  8. When Madness Comes Home: Help and Hope for the Children, Siblings and Partners of The Mentally Ill (1997) by V. Secunda
  9. When Someone You Love has a Mental Illness: A Handbook for Family, Friends and Caregivers (1992) by R. Woolis

Memoirs

  1. An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness (1995) by K.R. Jamison
  2. Hurry Down Sunshine (2008) by M. Greenberg
  3. Is There No Place on Earth For Me? (1982) by S. Sheehan
  4. My Sister’s Keeper: Learning to Cope With a Sibling’s Mental Illness (1992) by M. Moorman

Remember, this list is FAR from complete and I encourage you to look for ones that are ment for the specific diagnose(s) you or your family member received, including children’s books to help younger kids understand what is happening to themselves or their sibling.

Please know that there are a variety of different psychology professionals, groups and organizations at the local and national level out there.  I am personally familiar with my local branch of National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI), and whole-heartedly recommend them as a resource; they offer support, education and other services to diagnosed individuals and family members.  NAMI and other national organizations have websites that allow you to search for services in your area.

If you are aware of other books that can help please put the book’s title and author in the comment section at the end of the post.

** Do not use my list as a substitute for care from a mental health professional(s). I created this list to be used in combination with help from mental health professionals, I want to pass on these resources because I am a family member (and friend) to individuals diagnosed with mental illnesses. **

Posted in Helpful information, Monday Mania

Monday Mania #16: Fiction vs Nonfiction

Everyone knows that there is a difference between fiction and nonfiction, but when asked to explain it find themselves fumbling over all the different ways they have heard them explained.  So, I thought it would be helpful to put this together.

Fiction

Definition: something invented by the imagination or feigned.

Categories: Contemporary, Chick Lit, Crime Fiction, Comics, Fan Fiction, Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Paranormal, Romance, Science Fiction, Suspense, Thrillers

Examples:

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin
  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  • Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
  • Mercy by Stephen King
  • The Davinci Code by Dan Brown

Nonfiction

Definition: writing that is about facts and real events.  *This is the broadest category of literature.

Categories: Biography, business, cooking, health & fitness, pets, crafts, home decorating, languages, travel, home improvement, religion/spirituality, art & music, history, self-help, true crime, science and humor.

Examples:

  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  • A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • The Art of War by Sun Tzu
  • The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer
  • The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
  • The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff
  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

All the books that I listed above are adult books, but the information I have given you is also true for children’s books, short stories, poetry and other forms of writing.

If you have any questions or thoughts please leave them in the comment section and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Happy Reading!!!!

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Posted in Fun tidbits, Helpful information, Monday Mania

Monday Mania #15: 8 Undeniable Facts About Reading

Everyone has different views on why and when reading is good for you but there are eight undeniable facts that everyone should know.  I have listed them below with some basic information about why.

  1. It increases intelligence – A children’s books expose kids to 50% more words than prime time TV.  Also, children who read are better able to grasp abstract concepts, apply logic in various scenarios, recognize cause and effect, and utilize good judgement.
  2. It can boost your brain power – When you read you have to remember a lot of things (including different characters, the main plot and subplots).  All of these things create new memories, meaning new synapses being created and old ones being strengthened.  Therefore, your short-term memory and recall capabilities improve.
  3. Can make you more empathetic – Science published research by David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano, showing that literary fiction has the power to help its readers understand what others are thinking by reading other people’s emotions.  The impact is more significant on those who read literary fiction as opposed to those who read nonfiction.
  4. Reading can help you relax – A 2009 study by Sussex University researchers found that reading may reduce stress by as much as 68%.  David Lewis, a cognitive nueropsychologist told  The Telegraph “It really doesn’t matter what you read, by losing yourself in a throughly engrossing book you can escape from he worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring a world of the author’s imagination.”
  5. Reading before bed can help you sleep – If used as part of a bedtime ritual, it can send signals to the body its time to wind down and go to sleep.  However, this only applies to real books, as screens like ebooks and tablets can actually keep you awake longer.
  6. Reading is contagious – 75% of parents wish their children would read more for fun.  How do you encourage this?  Start by reading out loud at home, and don’t stop when your child learns to read for themselves.  A report from Scholastic suggests that reading out loud to kids throughout elementary school years may inspire them to become frequent readers.  More than 40% of frequent readers (aged 6-10) were read to out loud at home, but only 13% were not.
  7. Improves your health – Studies with elderly patients have shown that is decreases mental decline by 32%  and that you are 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.  Another study showed that depressed patients in a mental health ward showed positive improvement when they read stories out loud.
  8. Reading improves motivation – Reasearch has found that those who read about characters doing something are more likely to actually do it in real life.  Meaning your more motivated to do something you have concerns about (like asking for a raise, or go mountain climbing).

Happy reading!!!

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Posted in advice, Helpful information, Monday Mania

Monday Mania #12: 5 Common Distractions & How to Deal

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Everyone has had times in their lives where distractions have kept them from reading books.  Here I have created a list of five common distractions and some easy ways to help readers avoid them.  These ideas can also work for studying for school as well.

  1. Phone: If you can, leave your phone in a different room of the house/apartment.  If you can’t, put the phone on silent and put it face down so you can’t see notifications as they come in.
  2. TV: Choose an area where you have no clear line of sight to the TV screen.  If someone else is watching TV ask them to keep the volume on a lower setting so you can’t hear it from where you are sitting.
  3. Wandering Thoughts: If you can’t focus on your reading because your thoughts keep wandering elsewhere, try giving yourself five minutes to allow your mind to go over what it wants and then go back to what you are reading.
  4. Family/Friends: They wont mean to interrupt you, but they will.  Communicate with them so they can make an effort to give you some space while you are reading.
  5. Noise: Most of us live in areas where we have neighbors and other things that make sounds.  Since we can’t expect silence, try a sound machine to cancel out undesired noise. Try one of these

Have fun reading!!

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Posted in Helpful information, review

Review: The Girl In The Picture

  • Title: The Girl In The Picture
  • Author: Kerry Barrett
  • Edition: Kindle e-book
  • Pages: 384
  • Released: Sept. 20, 2017
  • Genre(s): Fiction, Romance, Thriller, Historical fiction, Historical mystery
  • My Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

*All opinions are my own.

*May contain spoilers.

I loved this book.  Ms. Barrett created a world I was completely enthralled with.  I am American and have never been to the East Sussex Coast of England, but I had no problem becoming part of Ella and Violet’s lives.  This book is a great example of why you shouldn’t separate an author from their work (to see my post Separating an Author From Their Work?  click here). This novel tells the tale of two woman, separated by time, but connected by a home to tell centuries old secrets.  Violet was only 18 years old when she went missing in 1855.  It took Ella moving into the same house with her family in 2016 for Violet to be found.

Both Ella and Violet were strong female characters in their own unique ways.  Sure, Violet was naive, but she was strong none the less.  These two characters strengths were part of what mad this novel so great.

Ella’s tenacity is what sucked me in and I couldn’t stop reading until I had found out what had happened to Violet.

The supporting characters were also a lot of fun and created an environment full of life and believability.

I would highly recommend this book to everyone.  If you are unsure of what to read next give The Girl In The Picture a try.  If you have also read this book or have any questions I would love to hear from you in the comments.

Happy reading!!

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