**** NEWS AND REVIEWS ****
Getting to know you better, John Catenacci….
Most recent information gathered: 12/12/2014
How would you rate your energy throughout your day? High in the AM, gradually dropping through the day until a nap in midafternoon followed by a walk outside with Spirit picks me up again. In the middle energy wise in the evening til I fall off a cliff around 11:30 or so.
How well are you sleeping? Almost always very well.
Do you experience dreams? Always (everybody does) – sometimes I remember them – then I analyze them – and use them in my writing sometimes.
Do you practice dream interpretation? Yep
Are you carrying a dream that is not currently being fulfilled? Life is a story always unfolding so sometimes I feel fulfilled, sometimes not. As to an overarching dream, good question for which I have no answer other than to keep writing and continue my spiritual JOURNEY (ok, trip then)
How would you rate your concentration? Erratic. When I am in my zone, am 100% into what I am doing, lose track of time completely. Otherwise, have to work at it
Are there specific distractions in your life that interrupt your concentration? If I happen to start listening to NPR when I need silence to focus, not good for me. Or anything else like that. Puccini’s arias are often good though.
How is your ability to make choices? Good. If a choice is a struggle then this tells me I need to let it be for awhile and see what new insights show up. Otherwise, pretty easy.
How positive are your “inner thoughts”? Naturally positive. Once in a while I might beat myself up for not accomplishing more but then wake up and realize I am better off to relax about it, see what I can learn from it. Like while writing this book – when it seems I am in painful labor or swimming in Jello, I know I am off track somehow and sooner or later I see where I went off track and can write again.
How would you rate your self-esteem? Top notch! J
More specific to your writing habits:
Do you prefer to write in a particular room or place? My office – where my computer lives and it is a desktop so I have to go to it. I have waited and waited sometimes and it still never comes to me. OK though. I like my office very much. Nice view of the lake, big enough to feel open, plenty of light, everything is handy, lots of desktop space. My favorite place in the whole house I guess.
Do you have background noise going on while your write? No. Never. Silence is best for me – sometimes Puccini arias are good (Spirit likes them too) – or, less often, soft jazz.
Do you keep a writing journal or notebook? I write about whatever shows up in a morning journal. Have another small journal for recording meditation thoughts (rare) and a dream journal where I record my dreams. I also have a notebook going about my next book, the one I put aside to write this one.
How do your organize your journal/notebook? I don’t. Just date each entry.
What’s your biggest challenge as a writer? To maintain a writing discipline when I am stuck. I have been stuck a lot while doing this book, which surprises me. I thought it would be easy.
While you are deep in your writing project, when do you feel you are nearing completion? When I see that it is done.
As you are nearing completion of your work (book, essay, article), do you find it more difficult to “let go” of your writing, to release it from yourself and send it out to the rest of the world. No. By then it is the past for me and happy to let it go and move on.
Do you have a good luck talisman? What is it? No.
Any quirky habits you’ve developed? Not that I am aware of – I try to follow a daily discipline though – not quirky – just include those things I want to do – write, connect in the early AM with Spirit so he starts the day right, walk, exercise – oh, and try to fit some writing in there somewhere.
Are you inclined to learn by primarily by:
reading other writers you love? Sometimes
using advice in writing books? Not much anymore
workshops and/or classes? rarely. Used to but not much anymore – would rather just write.
hard-headed trial and error? Probably too much but not sure there is any other way.
a combination of these? Yes
some other method? Experience in life – with family, friends, strangers, whatever shows up in my life. The Forum too, now and then. Dreams are big too. Spirit is a teacher too really.
#end of discussion December 12, 2014
Where did you grow up?
Born in Detroit to Italian immigrant parents, the oldest of three children.
When did you begin to write?
In high school, had an English teacher who thought I was a good writer. Around that time, I began keeping a journal, which I have continued throughout my life.
What is the genre of your book, Dianna’s Way?
Technically, it is a memoir though I see it as a guide for self-improvement. Dianna provided a model for how an ordinary person can empower themselves and, thereby choose to live an extraordinary life.
What is Dianna’s Way about?
It is, at one level, a love story. Dianna’s love of life and our love for each other. At a deeper level, it traces the spiritual journey we took together as we both create and respond to life’s circumstances.
Where did you get the inspiration for writing Dianna’s Way?
Living with Dianna and as the years went by, I became increasingly amazed at the positive impact she had on me and everyone she met. She was a ray of sunshine in every life she entered – consistently, seemingly effortlessly and regardless of how much pain she was in or how dismal her prospects seemed to be. One day, I promised her I would write her story. Of course, she was delighted.
What is the span time/years in the book?
From the moment I met her in December 1985 until June, 2011, 3 plus years after she passed over.
How did you come up with the title?
Out of the blue. It just occurred to me one day after toying with several different options and I knew immediately it was the right one.
What was your favorite chapter? Why?
I have quite a few that move me, depending on the mood I am in. I couldn’t pick a single favorite.
What will readers learn from reading Dianna’s Way?
How each of us has the opportunity to live an extraordinary life. As MLK once said, “Not everyone can be famous but everyone can be great because greatness is determined by service .” Dianna offers one model for being great, for making a difference in our world.
Does this book shed light on a different perspective of a common issue?
Yes. How to live a life we love and at the same time, help others do the same.
Does it take place in a specific region that would draw people in?
Primarily Michigan, so has a Midwest orientation to life in terms of relationship to the land, values, mores, outlook on life.
Did you have an intended reading audience while writing the book? If so, to whom?
Not while I was writing but once it was completed, Dianna’s Way, it seems to me, would appeal more to women, particularly women who are motivated to make a difference in their own personal worlds and for some, in the larger world as well.
What is your writing background?
Though I have always enjoyed writing and have had a sprinkling of articles and short stories published over the years, writing has never been my day job. Until this time in my life, I had other priorities for the bulk of my time.
Do you have a unique background different from most authors?
Everyone has a unique background.
Name a few well-known authors who write in the same genre?
I really don’t pay attention to who writes memoirs although obviously many famous people do write them.
Do you cover a topic or subject matter that people can easily relate to?
If people can relate to life and death, then yes.
Do you have specific experience or expertise in a topic discussed in your book?
Oh yes. I don’t think anyone knew Dianna better than I nor would anyone else know as much about our life together.
How has your life affected your writing voice?
I have no idea. I would say my personality shows up in my writing voice. I tend to be direct, a biting sense of humor at times and not afraid to be open and speak my mind and my heart.
What authors do you like to read?
Deepak Chopra, Earnest Hemingway, Albert Camus, Eckhart Tolle, Mahatma Gandhi, Kahlil Gibran
Do you write every single day?
How many hours at a time do you devote to your writing?
On those days I do write, can be anywhere from 2-8 hours.
Do you have a writing ritual?
Only that I like to write in the morning. I have closer access to my dream state then and have more energy too.
Do you use a specific type of pen, pencil, etc. that you feel is a “must-have”?
No. I prefer to compose on the computer. So much easier to make changes. When I write in my journal though, I use a very thin, sharp art pen, o.4mm point only.
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Do you work with an outline or just write?
I begin with the idea for the book, then will take notes for a while, maybe months, then will create an arc for the book, which is a kind of broad outline in graphic form – an actual arc – that has a beginning and an end. However, truth is, this is just a loose guide and things will change as I write – I don’t really know how it is going to turn out until I am done writing it.
Are there any specific authors whose writing style inspired your book?
No. Maybe Hemingway to some extent – I like his economy of words, probably because I can be wordy if I don’t watch it.
How would you describe your writing style?
I don’t have a clue to be honest. I write the way I speak for the most part and I don’t mind using sentence fragments.
What made you decide to self-publish?
Easy decision. Being an unknown writer and, especially with a memoir about someone who is equally unknown, I knew I would be very unlikely to interest either an agent or mainstream publisher in my book. Beyond that, I also knew even if someone did buy it, they would have complete artistic control, would expect me to market the book myself, offer a tiny advance and 10% royalties. I could afford to publish it myself, so could publish it right away, have total artistic control and keep all the royalties – and, of course, I still have to market it myself. A no brainer for me.
What is your next project?
As I began to make presentations about my book, I realized I have more to say about Dianna that would be very useful for others. So I am writing a follow up book that provides more concrete detail about those practices I observed Dianna followed in living her remarkable life.
Did you also receive feedback from your readers’ expressing the desire to learn more about Dianna’s unique qualities?
At book presentations, some people would ask me about what allowed Dianna to live life in such a beautiful way. After creating a handout to help people with that I realized I needed to write more about it. This is the genesis of the second book I am working on now, Dianna’s Way/The Practices.
What would you consider are a few of the hurdles or challenges that you face as an author, with your drive to continue writing?
Well, all hurdles are opportunities. A daily discipline helps me stay on course – like recording my dreams, which provide input for my writing, meditating and exercising; all feed my heart and mind. Shouldn’t forget my young Golden Retriever either who supports me every day in a million ways. He keeps me grounded, walks me in Nature, and keeps me alive to life.
Where can people buy your books?
On line at the book website, www.diannasway.com, Amazon, B&N and it can be ordered from any bookstore.
Do you work well on your own?
Yes. Being alone is conducive to many things I like to do – writing, meditation, exercising, walking in Nature – even TV – no arguments about who gets the remote. I never really feel lonely to be honest. I always feel connected to those I love and to Spirit – maybe because I always have Spirit, my Golden Retriever, with me. He is always training me to stay awake.
Do you often find it difficult to focus on your writing?
Not when I’m alone. When I’m with other people, then it is a time to be totally with them so works out fine.
How do you handle success?
Success? My whole life has been successful in the sense that I value all of it totally, the good times and the not so good. I lack for nothing so I guess that is success and I must be handling it pretty well.
Do you have a weakness that you would like to overcome?
I don’t view anything as a weakness just another opportunity for living more fully.
Do you consider yourself a leader?
Yes and no. All of us can be a leader or a follower, depending on the situation. So, yes, I can be a situational leader but I am not interested in having followers either. If I can help someone, great. Others help me every day.
In a teamwork setting, do you prefer to lead the group?
Not necessarily. If I have something to offer, I offer it. If not, I am content to listen to others. I have worked as a team builder for many years and often hired to lead groups – then I do what I was hired to do as best I can.
What do you consider to be your greatest strength?
I have a good mind, curious, open and focused on learning more. I am good hearted too and committed to the well-being of others.
How would you say your 2 siblings influenced you growing up?
Both my brother and sister have always been loving, supportive, and intelligent; each has much to offer to anyone, including me. Each in their own way, are great models for me in life.
What do you think your 2 siblings would say about your influence on them, growing up?
About the same as I have said about them. I count both as being among my best friends
Are you a procrastinator on occasion? If yes, give an example.
Yes. If there is something I don’t want to do or don’t know how to do, I can tend to put it off.
How do you react to change?
My gut response is often no – resistance, out of fear no doubt. Then when I have had a bit of time to consider it, I can always turn change, no matter what it is, into opportunity. Even when I lost Dianna, the love of my life, painful as that was, I eventually turned it into an opportunity – and even to write a book about it all.
How do you prepare for presentations?
I write out what I want to say in outline form, thinking about what would be most valuable for another person, revising it many times. I am always changing it as I learn from doing previous presentations.
Do you prefer to follow an outline for presentations or ad lib?
Both. I begin with my outline but not afraid to deviate from it – certainly if someone brings up a question or comment that takes us in a different direction.
Do you involve the audience during presentations?
Not as much as I should. Always open to it, always would like more of it.
Do you spend a lot of time researching when preparing for a writing project?
Sure. It might be months of reading, collecting thoughts, taking notes before I actually begin writing.
Describe a situation where you had a positive influence on someone else’s actions.
Today. Had a disagreement with someone, let him be right about it and gave him not only what he wanted but a gift as well. I think he will appreciate it and “pay it forward” in one way or another. Or not. Up to him.
Are you an avid reader?
Yes. Mostly nonfiction but sometimes something like The Alchemist,one of the best books I have read in a long time, slides into my reading and I am grateful for it.
How many hours in the day do you spend reading?
Some days none at all. I spend more time writing and walking, to be honest. I like to read before I go to sleep as a habit. When I do read, it is usually in short bites – like an hour or less.
How do you carve out time for reading?
Everything in life is a choice. Assigning time to do anything is a choice. So choosing to allow time for reading is a choice.
Do you have a preference of non-fiction over fiction?
Generally, I prefer nonfiction as I am always studying some aspect of consciousness or another. Hard to beat a great novel though. I am not at all interested in popular fiction or most genres so that helps narrow my focus in a natural way.
If you had 2 hours of free time to spend at your favorite library, which section would you gravitate toward first?
Spiritual topics and related areas.
What have you recently read (title/author)?
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
What is your impression of this book?
He offers an incredibly valuable insight into life and written as a simple beautiful allegory.
One of the best books I have ever read.
Would you recommend it to others?
Absolutely. Without reservation.
As you are writing the draft for your next book, do you become more or less critical of your work?
I am always critical of my work. While writing though, someone once said the first draft should be from the heart and all subsequent drafts should be from the head. Some truth in that. I guess they meant a writer should get what they really want to say down on paper, no matter how clumsy it may be, so they can see it. Then they have something to be critical about. Having said that, I often edit and revise what I am writing as I write it too.
How do you deal with self-criticism?
Pretty well. I don’t take it personally. Of course, no one likes to hear that someone else doesn’t like what they have done but it comes with the territory. If the criticism is thoughtful, I might learn from it too. I have a 100% right – and honor actually – to write exactly what I want to say exactly the way I want to say it – and I do (though my editor certainly supplies technical advice that I listen to carefully). After that, it is out there with a life of its own. At that point, each reader has a 100% right to react to it in their own way – and they do. Fine with me – this is all as it should be in my world.
Will you be posting a timeline of events/projections where we can see the progress of your new book?
No. While I am writing, I am writing and not really interested in providing a play by play to others. Once it has been written and delivered to my editor, then we can start talking about timelines.
Do you practice meditation?
Pretty much every day – it is one of my disciplines, along with walking Spirit twice a day and exercising with an elliptical trainer and weights. I miss these practices when a day goes by without them.
If so, how long have you been doing it?
Well, let’s see – I guess since about 1970 or so I would say.
Would you consider yourself introspective, extroverted, or somewhere in-between?
I love being alone – and alone with my young Golden retriever. I am never lonely and feel totally “connected” whether I am alone or not. But, there are times when I love being with others too. My most interesting journeys are inside myself and in the woods and fields near my home – I experience the same essential beauty in a field of goldenrod close to home as I do standing on a cliff along the Amalfi coast in Italy to be honest – and I have experienced both. Costs less in energy, time and dollars too, which is a bonus.
note from Susan: when John Catenacci decides Dianna’s Way/The Practces, is ready for the Editor’s expertise, regular updates will be posted, detailing the various processes.
You’ll share the experience with us (the agony and the ecstasy!) of moving a manuscript on its way from the author’s hands to the buyer’s reach!