Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Are you successful? Are you balanced?

Today I'm delighted to welcome Apryl Zarate Schleuter, author of Finding Success In Balance to my blog.

Finding Success in Balance: My Journey to The Cheerful Mind follows the quest of the career-driven individual trying to find a healthy balance between work and everything else outside of it (family, health, relationships, fun, etc.). Interweaving personal stories of the lessons she learned on her own journey, Schleuter shares strategies to help readers identify what work-life balance truly means including:

·      Find time for the things you love without sacrifice
·      Accomplish goals that are aligned with your priorities
·      Love your career and grow strong, healthy relationships
·      Manage stress and avoid burnout

It¹s time to stop letting society dictate what ³success² means and start living the awesome life you have always wanted. Your journey starts here.

Click here to find my review of Finding Success In Balance
and read on to learn what inspired Apryl to share these stories with her readers. Over to you Apryl, and thank you for visiting my blog.

The Motivation Behind writing “Finding Success in Balance”

by April Zarate Schleuter 

On a sunny August day in 2015 (the 6th to be exact!), I publicly proclaimed (via social media) my intention to write a book. “And this, my friends, was the moment (or the moment shortly after) I made the decision to COMMIT to writing a book. Wanna guess what my title *might* be?” I was on my way to a flying trapeze class, and on the drive, I listened to a podcast where someone was explaining how one could write an entire book in a weekend, and while I was skeptical, I thought to myself, “Well, if people are writing books over a span of days, there’s no way I can’t become an author!” Of course, I had fear around taking this leap, especially since my academic background had nothing to do with writing, but the idea of jumping into a big goal like this fed my inner adrenaline junkie, so I went for it!

It was a period of my life where I was transitioning into entrepreneurship after many years of being employed. I was one month into my coach training, and I had already experienced massive personal growth, and wanted to share the many lessons I had learned. However, I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to share those lessons. Looking ahead at creating my business plan, I knew that I would need to eventually choose a strategy to market who I am and what I do in my business, but I had no clue what that perfect strategy was.

One of the big takeaways I had from my coach certification training was the fact that I was an “outward processor.” This trait of mine was one which I historically had a great amount of shame around; people used to make fun of me because it would take me a significant amount of time to answer questions. I always wanted to provide a thorough explanation on how I arrived at my answers. Once I was able to embrace this tendency, I realized that writing a book would be the perfect method to explain who I am, why the search for work-life balance was so important to me, and how I could help others find balance for themselves.

In writing Finding Success in Balance, I was able to gain clarity on the many lessons I’ve learned to improve my overall quality of life, and I now have a tangible item that I can reference whenever I need a reminder on how to move forward. The book writing journey was a fun ride, I feel a sense of great accomplishment, and have more confidence than ever!

Thank you Apryl. I'm not sure I could even imagine writing a book in a weekend--a story perhaps; a book review... but your story does inspire me to try writing one over many weekends about a topic dear to my heart. It's so different from writing fiction though. Like you, I'm committing to something others do all the time, which I have never tried to do.

And just maybe it will be good for me too--I rather suspect I'm an "outward processor" too.

Apryl Schlueter is the Chief Energy! Officer of The Cheerful Mind, Inc., a happiness and productivity expert who helps people have more fun while getting stuff done! She is a Certified Professional Coach, speaker, and author of "Finding Success in Balance: My Journey to The Cheerful Mind." Like this article? Find more at

Find the book on Amazon at

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Do you prefer books with one protagonist or many?

Some novels are told from a single point of view. Others invite you into lots of different minds and ways of seeing. Some offer a single main protagonist, but open your eyes to things they've failed to see. And still others let the reader float free over a sea of strangers. So... do you prefer books with one protagonist or with many? Or does it depend on the story, or the author, the writing style, the promise fulfilled by story's end?

For myself, I've experimented with multiple points of view (in Divide by Zero), single point of view (Infinite Sum), and a single protagonist who doesn't quite see it all (in Subtraction, coming August 1st from Indigo Sea Press). I read and enjoy books written in many different styles, and I can honestly say I enjoyed all the novels included in today's reviews.

So, choose your novel and choose your brew. Please remember the ratings are for the coffee, not for the book (which by no means suggests the coffee's more important--perhaps it's a close thing--rather that I don't feel qualified to rate books. I'd rather just read and write them).

Starting with a classic, Moo by Jane Smiley, is one that many of my friends have read and recommended. Since I hadn't yet read anything by Jane Smiley, a friend loaned me Moo. It's a comfortably slow read, set in chapters with cool headings and easy endings, so perfect for bedtime. It has a wealth of protagonists, including a pig. The satire is sharp and the humor is starkly real. Characters are colorful and intriguing, and the location evocative. Enjoy this story's rich elegance with a richly elegant four-star coffee.

Brian Doyle's Mink River is another multi-character tale, set on the Oregon Coast. If rivers could speak, they would surely tell this tale, and so one of the protagonists travels to record the water's voice. Another seeks peace in the water. Another falls. A bird speaks its own intriguing thoughts. And the whole is beautifully woven into a truly absorbing song of Mink River's hopes. Enjoy another rich elegant four-star coffee with this one.

Rare Birds by Kathleen Novak also tells its tale through lots of different pairs of eyes, and is another thoroughly absorbing book. Like Mink River, it flows through a summer rather than driving the reader from a to b. It's set in 1960, in a world about to change, around characters whose world is set, yet disturbingly fragile. And it's beautifully, vividly real. Another four-star elegant coffee would suit.

Mrs. Thistlethwaite and the Magpie by J. B. Hawker includes a fine cast of fascinating characters too. The tale's told mostly through the eyes of 85-year-old Tillie, but friends and strangers also take the stage, and Tillie will need the help of many by the story's end. A girl has gone missing. A predator is killing women. And an anonymous stranger is leaving gifts on doorsteps. But what's the connection, and how will an 85-year-old with a motto for everything, great health, and a wonderful sense of humor solve it all? Enjoy this cozy mystery with some well-balanced full-flavored three-star coffee.

The Landlocked Lighthouse by Mixi J Applebottom is a mystery/horror tale, mostly told through a single first-person point of view, with short passages from another viewpoint. It's sometimes annoying to be pulled out of first-person narration, but here it works, adding tension and hinting at depth. It's a scary Hitchcockian tale that keeps readers and characters guessing. Drink some dark five-star coffee while you try to puzzle out its dark mystery.

And finally, saving one I knew I would love till last, The Devil's Triangle by Howard Owen will soon be the latest novel in the Willie Black Mystery Series. The novels stand alone perfectly, are all narrated in first person (one protagonist...always just the one) by hard drinking, hard-driven reporter, Willy Black, But the character and his world develop convincingly as the stories continue. Black is older. He's a grandfather struggling to hold onto his job in the face of Twitter and cutbacks. And ex-wife number three might need his comfort as a terrorist's plane hits the bar where here husband was dining. Risking life and relationships, true to all he holds dear, Willie Black will surely win through, but readers will find it hard to put the book down till the end. Enjoy with some more dark five-star coffee. It's great.

So what did I like best - I like them all. One protagonist with a clear strong voice. Many protagonists, each with their individual voices and points of view... I guess it really is the writing, the story and the people that count.