Tag Archives: inspiration

Building Resilience and Finding Meaning by June Rousso, Ph.D. Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author June Rousso, Ph.D. takes readers on an inward journey to discover the tools that we both have within us and develop over time as we face life’s challenges and how we can use those experiences to find meaning in life in the book “Building Resilience and Finding Meaning”.

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The Synopsis

Building Resilience and Finding Meaning in Life: A Guide for Teens is an interactive book meant to engage readers in learning how to face adversities in life and to find meaning in these experiences.  It gives the message that we have a treasure chest of inner resources that can be called upon in the face of adversity. These resources must be discovered and, in some instances developed to build resilience and find what holds personal meaning.  

The guide also can be read by counselors and educators to help teens cope and live a more meaningful life. The guide was inspired by the teachings of Dr. Viktor Frankl, noted author of Man’s Search for Meaning, and by the research findings on character strengths presented by the VIA Institute on Character.    

The Review

This was an incredibly well-written and captivating read. It is rare that I am able to get the opportunity to read YA-driven nonfiction books, and the author did a fabulous job of writing in a way that the book’s intended audience would have no trouble understanding the research and development that the author speaks of, while also providing emotional narrative elements to keep the reader invested in what that research delves into. 

The thing that stood out to me immediately was the author’s study of the works of Dr. Frankl, a survivor of the Nazi Concentration Camps, who helped to develop logotherapy and the three tenants that it is comprised of. The passion and zeal for life both the author and Dr. Frankl share were amazing to see come to life on the pages of this book, and the lessons that come from this line of the study were great to see. From the examination of freedom of choice growing up and the fine line between following a parent’s rules and accepting total compliance throughout one’s life, to how the perceptions we hold about ourselves and others reside within our spirits, this book does an excellent job of showcasing both the detailed study of Dr. Frankl’s work and the author’s ability to reach a younger audience in an impactful and meaningful way.

The Verdict

Captivating, thought-provoking, and engaging, author Dr. June Rousso’s “Building Resilience and Finding Meaning” is a must-read book for 2022! The fast pace of the book and the thoughtful approach to life’s challenges and the lessons teens can learn from these hardships, as well as the history and study of Dr. Frankl’s work, made this such a memorable read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Dr. June Rousso is a licensed psychologist, life coach, and writer. She is a Clinician Diplomate in Logotherapy and Existential Analysis and maintains a private practice in New York City working with children and adults.  Dr. Rousso is on the advisory board to Child Resilient, a student-led nonprofit organization focusing on fostering emotional resilience and mental health wellness in children and adolescence thorough education, outreach, and awareness. She also is the author of The Little Book of Character Strengths that focuses on helping children become aware of their character strengths to feel better about themselves and learn to face difficult situations in their daily life. 

http://junerousso.com

Again. Again and Again: Awakening into Awareness – Essays and Stories by Mathias B. Freese Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author Mathias B. Freese takes readers deep into his mind and life through a series of personal essays and third-person stories in his book, “Again. Again and Again: Awakening Into Awareness – Essays and Stories”.

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The Synopsis

Having once been a psychotherapist who’s never hesitated to turn the therapeutical gun barrel toward himself, Mathias B. Freese ramps up his radical reflexivity in this latest work, from confessional first-person narration to third-person “stories” starring “characters” named Matt. (This genre could be called meta-Matt.) “I write to know perhaps something about who I am,” Freese writes. “I write to arrive at some awareness, however dim, about self or other, for when I have that fleeting moment of awareness, I feel at one — true.” Truly, Again. Again and Again. is a song of himself.

Rocker Billy Idol proves to be an unlikely but apt echoer here: “When there’s nothing to lose and there’s nothing to prove, well, I’m dancing with myself.” As a one-man show, Freese puts the “dance” in “abundance,” stressing an author’s singularity, the innerness of writing, the sharing — rather than the proselytizing — purpose of artistic expression. In other words, as Freese says, “a book is one person’s awareness as he or she sees it.”

More than a few times, Freese had implied that Again. Again and Again. would probably be his swan song, his “final stirrings,” his ultimate testament. How laughable, considering both his prolificacy and “urge and urge and urge” (as Whitman would gush). Sure enough, the author is no longer so sure that he’s expressed enough, and it seems that yet another stirring idea spurs him to create again. Again and…

The Review

This was an incredibly profound and thought-provoking read. The author found the perfect balance between his 1st personal perspective essays and the more 3rd person short narratives that each highlighted an important theme or idea that the author presented. One line that immediately stuck out to me was one in which the author speaks of a friend of his who said literature always featured love and death, but in reflecting on that notion the author realized that his friend forgot time itself. This was so profound, as the author delves in one page into the heart of not only literature but life itself, for what is love and death without the time it takes to achieve both? 

The thing that stood out to me as a reader immediately was the author’s writing style. Whether he was writing a short story about man’s awareness of the universe around him or a personal essay on the pursuit of greatness and how the journey is far more often beautiful than the completed end as a whole, the author always wrote as if he were having a personal conversation with the reader. This very intimate and thoughtful approach to this style of writing was so well-conceived that I was on the edge of my seat the entire reading, mesmerized by the author’s words and the passion for which he wrote.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, engaging, and thoughtful in its approach, author Mathis B. Freese’s “Again. Again and Again” is a must-read book of short stories and essays on life’s most existential questions. The honesty and enlightening way the author weaves together a collection of writing that is both inspiring and philosophical really highlights the author’s sense of teaching and writing, making this one book readers will not want to put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

MATHIAS B. FREESE is a writer, teacher, and psychotherapist who has authored eight books. His I Truly Lament: Working Through the Holocaust won the Beverly Hills Book Award, Reader’s Favorite Book Award, and was a finalist in the Indie Excellence Book Awards, the Paris Book Festival, and the Amsterdam Book Festival. In 2016, Tesserae: A Memoir of Two Summers, his first memoir, received seven awards. The following year his second memoir appeared, And Then I Am Gone.

https://www.mathiasbfreese.com/

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09VYC477V/ref=x_gr_w_glide_sin?caller=Goodreads&callerLink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goodreads.com%2Fbook%2Fshow%2F60686562-again-again-and-again&tag=x_gr_w_glide_sin-20

The Extraordinary UnOrdinary You: Follow Your Own Path, Discover Your Own Journey by Simone Knego Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Simone Knego shares with readers how to better one’s life by changing the way we see ourselves in her book, “The Extraordinary, UnOrdinary You”. 

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The Synopsis 

Do you wake up every day feeling like you’re going through the motions, that the hundreds of choices you make have almost no impact on the people around you?

Many motivational books will tell you that in order to better the world, you must first better yourself. But you really only need to change the way you see yourself and the world around you will change.

What you do every day matters and inspires others. By sharing your story, you can motivate and encourage those around you—and in doing so, change the world.

Everyone has a story, and in The Extraordinary UnOrdinary You, Simone Knego takes you inside her unique journey and the extraordinary moments which have shaped her life and defined her mission. Sharing the lessons she’s learned from life’s ups, downs, and laugh-out-loud moments, you’ll be inspired to discover your own journey, and to go out into the world and be the good. The world is waiting for the Extraordinary UnOrdinary You, and you already have everything you need to get started, simply by being you.

The Review

A powerfully written book, author Simone Knego does an excellent job of connecting with readers on a personal level by sharing her own life and experiences that people can relate to. For so many people there is this need to find people who appear to be living truly extraordinary lives and emulate them, but what the author showcases here is that by being our best, most authentic selves we are able to achieve change and growth we want and the impact we hope to have on the world around us, whether it is on a large scale or simply by inspiring the people we love the most. 

The author does a great job of imparting some truly memorable lessons to the reader, from realizing we’re all human and therefore apt to make mistakes or second guess ourselves at moments in our lives, to realizing that every single one of us has our own journey to undertake, which speaks to individuality and how unique and yes, extraordinary, we all are. 

The Verdict

Thought-provoking, inspiring and relatable, author Simone Knego’s “The Extraordinary UnOrdinary You” is the perfect non-fiction, self-help read. With 2020 coming to close and so much chaos and upheaval ruling our lives, the need for inspiration and hope has never been higher, and through the author’s book readers are left with that sense of hope. Giving readers the power to find their own power and ability to inspire others around them, this is the book to read in the closing month of the year, so be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

SIMONE KNEGO leads an ordinary life filled with extraordinary moments. As a wife, mother to six children (and three dogs), and a serial entrepreneur, she splits her time between her family, businesses, and personal growth. She’s realized the small choices she makes every day to do good actually have the power to inspire others. Simone shared that message during speaking opportunities she received as co-chair of the National Young Leadership Cabinet for the Jewish Federations of North America. With this book, she hopes to inspire you to embrace life’s ups and downs and realize the impact you’re making on the world. 

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Guest Article: Signposts of Inspiration by Carol Es

Editor’s Note: This is Anthony Avina, and I wanted to personally welcome author Carol Es to my website. This insightful and honest article was something I wanted to share with you all, and I couldn’t appreciate it more that Carol took the time to write it for us. I hope you guys enjoy it. Now on to Carol’s article…


When people ask what inspires me, I never know what to say. Not because I’m lacking in the inspiration department—it’s just too general a question. “Everything,” I’ll say. If asked what my inspiration might be for something specific, you probably won’t be able to shut me up.

As both a writer and a visual artist, my work is predominantly autobiographical. I love anything with a narrative. Stories move me to create, they draw me in and take me on an escape, like a drug. When combining writing with art together, all the better. I have made many Artist’s books that mish-mash art and words, a genre unto itself, and it’s mostly what I’m used to working in.

However, I’ve been writing short stories and poetry since I was a kid. I wrote a screenplay when I was 17-18 that I never finished. (It was terrible.) Throughout my 20s, I made several attempts at writing novels, but had never been able to get more than 50 pages in. Most of the fiction I wrote was autobiographical. I’ve been inspired by authors Charles Bukowski since I was a young teenager, and later John Fante. It’s not that I wanted to write in either of their styles, but I wanted to be able to evoke a similar feeling from my writing.

Still working on that.

It was nerve-wracking writing in nonfiction, though I think it drove me to finish an entire book. At first, I didn’t write about myself much at all. I found the stories of people much more interesting, and so, I’ve written Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley several times over. It was hard to come to grips with, but a memoir is supposed to be self-indulgent. It just feels uncomfortable. I had to carve out an honest story and reveal my raw self to the world. It’s risky business.

Along the way, I probably couldn’t have finished it without bits of inspiration. My partner, Michael Phillips, also a writer pushed me and supported me immensely. I was also absolutely dazzled after seeing Jonathan’s Caouette’s documentary art film, Tarnation.

Caouette took 20 years of home movies, snapshots, and answering machine messages, stuck them into a blender and came out with a unique examination of his early life—his tumultuous childhood with his mentally ill mother. How could I not identify with that? My mother was bipolar.

This incredibly brave movie deeply inspired me to stop apologizing for my own dysfunctional family and embrace them as my muse. I also began to see the strength in vulnerability instead of viewing it as a weakness.

But I had been wanting to write this book in one version or another for a long time. At the start of it, I began to think back some 20 years when I lived off of Laurel Canyon—a winding road through the Santa Monica Mountains that connects the southeast San Fernando Valley to West Hollywood in Los Angeles. It was the most inspired time and place for me.

A few people in the apartment building I lived in donated books in the laundry room and we’d all give and take them. Once I found a big hardcover book that got me really into my Jewish genealogy (Finding our Fathers by Dan Rottenberg), which sent me on a wild and freaky ride to nowhere. Or maybe it sent me to a sad wasteland. I never quite got to the bottom of my family search, but I got a lot of stories from all the digging I did. Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley actually began with my parents’ backstories, but most of it wound up on the cutting room floor as they say.

Once I’d been working on the book for a couple of years, I found even more inspiration in Myla Goldberg’s Bee Season. I’d been living in San Pedro and picked it up at the free clinic, much in the same way I did Finding our Fathers.

Though Bee Season isn’t a work of nonfiction, it changed the way I saw memoir writing. It’s written from a young girl’s point of view looking back as an adult woman. She recalls the span of time in her life when she was able to win over her father’s love by excelling in national spelling competitions. Though I’m no good at spelling, I really identified with the character who was the youngest in a Jewish family of just four. She’s also been severely overshadowed by her older brother. More than her thoughts and desires to be loved, it was the way she was able to bring in each of her family members’ backstory so seamlessly. I loved that and wished I could have done that. Perhaps in the future.

I get wildly excited and inspired by other visual artists too. I’ll fall in love with painters, i.e.: Amy Sillman, or Lisa Sanditz. I’ll want their work to influence mine. Inevitably, it is nearly impossible to duplicate the same feelings or techniques because everyone has there own thing. My work always winds up looking like all my other paintings. It’s frustrating because I often like other artist’s work much more than my own. That happens. That’s life, I guess. We aspire to be better and are inspired by the beauty that surrounds us and keep on going.

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Author Bio

Carol Es

Carol Es is a self-taught artist, writer, and musician born in Los Angeles. Using a wide variety of media, she is known for creating personal narratives that transform a broken history into a positive resolution. Her paintings, drawings, installations, videos, and books have been exhibited nationwide in venues such as Riverside Art Museum, Torrance Art Museum, Lancaster Museum of Art and History, and Craft Contemporary in Los Angeles. Some of her works can be found in the collections at the Getty and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC. Her collaborative film was also featured in the 2015 Jerusalem Biennale. 

Awarded many honors, including several grants from the National Arts and Disability Center and California Arts Council, she is a two-time recipient of the ARC Grant from the Durfee Foundation, a Pollock-Krasner Fellowship, and the Wynn Newhouse Award. She has written articles of art critique for the Huffington Post and Coagula Art Journal, as well as having poetry published with small presses. She also received a writing grant from Asylum-Arts—a Global Network for Jewish Culture.

Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley

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Desert Dog Books

How The Dark Tower by Stephen King Inspired My Writing

How The Dark Tower by Stephen King Inspired My Writing

Hello there everyone! I wanted to start writing a series of posts describing how various books, authors, films, television shows, musicians, video games and even internet stars have influenced my writing in general, as well as the way they have influenced specific storylines within my books. The best writers in the world have found inspiration from the world around them, from world events to nature and the works of other authors. Today, I want to discuss one of the biggest influences on me as an author: The Dark Tower by Stephen King.

This series spans eight novels, as well as short stories, interconnected story points in other works by Mr. King, comics, and now a motion picture with plans for a television and film franchise. This is by far the author’s most famous work, and the connectivity of his works to this series has influenced my own storytelling.

The main plot of the story revolves around Roland Deschain, the last of a long line of gunslingers, who travels his broken world in search of the man in black, a sinister wizard he holds responsible for the downfall of his people. In his search, he also searches for The Dark Tower, a vast tower that binds all worlds and realities together. The man in black works for his master, the Crimson King, to destroy the beams that hold the tower in place, in the hopes that it’s destruction will bring chaos and death to all worlds. Roland must go on a quest to stop this mad plan, gather forces of good to help him stop the Crimson King and save the tower once and for all.


It’s a story the blends several genres, from fantasy and horror to westerns and science fiction. This combination of genres is the first inspiration from this series. The way Stephen King is able to expertly craft a story that incorporates these genres without making it chaotic and unbearable to read is a true source of inspiration. It shows that there is a place for all of these genres to co-exist, and that not one genre is necessarily better than the other.


The second inspiration from this series is the way in which Stephen King connects all of his books. Whether it’s characters like Father Callaghan from Salem’s Lot showing up in book five of the series or the man of black becoming the villain of not one, but at least three different books, this series has shown me the power of connectivity, and how it can inspire larger and more powerful story telling. I’ve begun to apply this to my two main series thus far, Nightmare Wars and The Legend of Electric Fusion. I’ve introduced a character named Larry, who brings chaos with him everywhere and travels between worlds and dimensions to mess with people, and in so doing he appears in both series. My hope is to bring characters from both series together in an epic series like The Dark Tower in the future.


These are just a handful of ways this series inspired me. I’ve learned a lot about the show versus tell storytelling device that I’ve mentioned before in my reviews, and am learning to apply it to my own writing. Stephen King uses this device expertly, subtly leaving plot points within the story that readers pick up on with excitement and eagerness. I’ve learned to apply a more “real-world” dialogue to my writing, in which i don’t worry about applying a vast and expansive dialect that makes me sound like a walking thesaurus but rather i write as if i were just dictating the conversations of real people who experience extraordinary circumstances.


Overall, The Dark Tower is my biggest influence as an author. Mr. King has done a masterful job of creating a narrative that brings heart and emotion to an edge-of-your-seat adventure with scares, thrills and heartbreak. It was a fantastic series that will continue to inspire me throughout my career, and with the major motion pictures starring Idris Elba set to premiere soon, i highly recommend you guys reading this series if you need a healthy dose of writing inspiration. Thank you, Mr. King, for creating such an incredible work of art in The Dark Tower. 


What is your current inspiration, whether its for writing or some other project in your life? Are you guys going to see The Dark Tower when it comes out? Leave your answers in the comments below. 

MOM | Her Voice Is My Voice

MOM | Her Voice Is My Voice

Hello everyone. You guys have been watching me on YouTube and reading my blog posts as I document my life as an author, whether that’s through daily vlogs, tag videos, short films or my semi-weekly writing podcasts.

In honor of International Women’s Day, I wanted to make this video/blog post.

My writing, my journey, and my voice are not just my voice. My voice comes from the strongest, most loving woman I know: my mom.

I know to some out there this will be seen as either corny or childish, but I think a big part of life should be honoring and cherishing those closest to you, whether that’s a parent or a friend or a significant other. I have an incredible mother who has supported me my entire life and whose strength gives me the courage to pursue my dreams. She has risen above hardships and struggles galore to pursue her own dreams, and despite impossible odds she goes out and does the things she’s most passionate about.

My mother has struggled with disabilities her whole life. I do not want to get into detail how many illnesses she suffers from but suffice it to say she lives with pain every moment of every day. I know because I have inherited several diseases genetically from her, and can feel some of the pain she feels. It breaks my heart to see her like that.

However I am encouraged and overjoyed to see her push herself day in and day out. Not only has she taken on the mantle of caring for our family, who struggles with our own health daily, but she has pursued her passion for photography. In just a few short years she has become one of the most amazing photographers I’ve ever seen, dedicating herself to learning camera techniques and editing lessons to make her photos truly beautiful.

My mother has taken this passion of hers and has begun to build a family photography business, teaching us photo techniques and even inspiring me to want to learn more about videography and improve my video shooting style. Despite the pain she pursues this passion with a zeal and confidence that inspires me to pursue my own dreams. More than anything, I see the joy and happiness it brings her, and when I see her smile as she is on a shoot, I know that because of her example, I can find that happiness as well.

My mother is not just one of the most inspiring women I know, but one of the most inspiring human beings I’ve ever met. Through her, she has shown me a life where I am free to make my own decisions, and has given me the tools to become a better human being. My passion for equality in all things, whether it’s race, gender or sexual identity, comes from her. My passion for creativity through books comes from her. My sense of
humor and belief in hope and romance comes from her. My voice is her voice, and her voice is my voice. I am me because she is my mom. Mom, I love you. Thank you for being the influence I need in my life.

Thank you guys for checking out this post. In honor of International Women’s Day, tell me about a woman who inspires you. Leave your comments down below. If you enjoyed this blog post I hope you will follow/subscribe to my blog and follow me on my journey. I will also include the link to my new video on my YouTube channel, Avina Vlogs, and if you guys enjoy it I hope you will subscribe to my channel as well. Your support means the world to me everyone. Thank you to all of the amazing, strong and inspirational women in the world who make me want to be a better person. Especially to my amazing mother.

 

Watch Here — > YouTube

Find out which YouTube channels inspire me as an author on the brand new episode of The Writers Corner podcast, which includes @sashaalsberg @blackboxtv_tonyv and more. Available now on @youtube @soundcloud and @itunes #podcast #audio #inspiration #youtuber #youtubers #youtube #youtubechannel #author #authors #writer #thewriterscorner #itunes #soundcloud #booktube

Interview with Author Latashia Figueroa:

Hi there Latashia. On behalf of myself and our readers, thank you for taking the time to speak with us today.

Hi Anthony and thanks so much for having me.

Tell us a bit about you and your journey to becoming an author.

Well, I began working in the fashion industry right out of school. I always said to myself, “This is just temporary.” But I became really comfortable with the industry and the money. After eighteen years, the company downsized. At first, I began to send out resumes, hoping and praying I would get a call back right away. While I waited, I began to write. And I loved it! My mother reminded me that as a child I always wrote short stories and left them on her nightstand for her to read. I pushed forward. I published my first book, THIS WAY DARKNESS: Three Tales of Terror in 2014.

2) Tell us about the conception of Ivy’s Envy and the Want & Decay series overall.

I submitted a flash fiction short to a fellow writers blog. And the more I read it, the more I liked where I could go with the story. IVY’S ENVY is the first story in the Want & Decay trilogy. In the beginning of the book is an Edgar Allan Poe quote, “Sometimes I’m terrified of my heart; of its constant hunger, for whatever it is it wants…”  I believe we all can relate to that on some level. We all struggle with the hunger of want. The characters in the Want & Decay series are desperate people. The more desperate they are, the darker they become. And each of them will learn, sometimes want can cause our decay.

3) When you are writing, what aspect of the writing excites you more: the development of the overall plot or the creation of the characters?

Definitely the creation of the characters. When I write a story, I have to know the ending in order to get the overall picture. That takes time, its work. But, creating the characters, getting to know them, understand their motives, that’s exciting for me. When I create my characters, I have an interview with them. I write down questions and then answer as the characters would. This really helps me write for them.

4) What authors served as a source of inspiration for you and your writing?

I grew up on Stephen King and R.L. Stine. I really dig Ira Levin, Douglas Clegg and John FD Taff. But H.P. Lovecraft will always be top of the list for me. He was truly ahead of his time.

5) Where do you hope to go with your writing career in the future?

Wow. I’d really love to write a screenplay and do independent films. Not only would I like to write them but direct them. Yes, move over Jennifer Kent!

Bonus Questions:

With technology, self-publishing and e-readers quickly rising in popularity, which format do you prefer when reading a book: e-reader or

paperback/hardback copies?

I like e-readers, but I’ll always love holding an actual book in my hand; flipping and folding back the pages,the smell of the paper. And how wonderfully worn they look when they’ve been loved too much.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors out there?

I would pass on this quote I recently found. “Do not write to impress others. Authors who write to impress people find difficulty remaining true to themselves.”

Thanks again!

Author Website: http://latashiafigueroa-author.com/

Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/latashiafigueroa

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LatashFigueroa

Instagram: https://instagram.com/frayed_pages/