In my work, I am often called upon to act as a mentor to younger people who are gaining experience my field. Today I gave someone some salient advice under this type of circumstance. “Just try it. What’s the worst that can happen? You may fail miserably, but you just might learn something from it.”
So many times our society does not consider persistence as a necessary element to survival. It seems easier to throw up your hands in dismay and declare, “Well, I tried. I guess it wasn’t meant to be.” But appearances can be deceiving. What seems like the best course of action, is the opposite of what a person should do. If that same person, under the same circumstances, were to refuse the instant and simple action and instead plod on, even when encountering failure, they may, and most probably would achieve success.
There are, of course, contrary notions, including the definition of insanity: trying the same thing over, time and again, without changing any input variations, the resulting outcome is unlikely to be different. If, however, something is learned from a failure, so that inspire changes to some key variable to the process, then it is valuable to fail and try again, resolving identified as the root causes of a problem.
These are tried and true methods of scientific experimentation. It holds true outside of scientific endeavors as well. Many famous and extraordinarily successful authors, such as Stephen King, Janet Evanovich, J.K. Rowling, have all been quoted as expounding on the value of persistence as the biggest key factor attributing to their eventual triumphs. Consider the world of sports and one of the greatest baseball players of all time, Ted Williams. In his very best year, his hitting percentage was only slightly higher than forty percent of the time. What that means is that, in his most productive period, he failed almost sixty percent of the time, and for that, he has been lauded as one of the most popular and effective players of all time. If he had given up when he was hitting 300, he never would’ve gotten to the point where he was hitting 400.
Whether you are a scientist, a musician, a writer, a reader, a parent or a student, the key to your success is persistence. Don’t give up. Think of an ant and a rubber tree plant (I’m thinking of the song “High Hopes” here) if you need to, but giving up can’t ever be an option if you truly want to get ahead in this world. And by failing, you probably will learn something.
Here are a couple of quotes by some pretty famous men who did fairly well in their chosen field:
Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in. — Bill Bradley, U.S. Senator, Olympic gold medal winner, Hall-of-Fame Basketball Player for the NY Knicks
Energy and persistence conquer all things. – Benjamin Franklin, Author, Scientist, Publisher, Statesman, Inventor, U.S Ambassador
Are you new to book reviewing? Did you read something that was so incredibly good that you want to share it with the world? This is a post to help you write an Amazon review even if you aren’t very tech-savvy. If you are, then you can skip down to The Non-Technical Stuff.
The Technical Stuff:
First of all, I have NO idea what a Paleo Diet is. This book is used only as an example of how to write a review, from a pure point-and-click viewpoint. (I don’t either recommend or NOT recommend this specific book.)
First, go to Amazon.com and find the book you want to review and go to that book’s page.
Scroll down on the page until you get to the “Customer Reviews” section. It should look similar to the screenshot below (but with fewer reviews). (Wow, 1,959 reviews! Really?)
See that button that says “Write a customer review”? Click on that.
Amazon will give you a screen with blank stars. As soon as you choose how many stars you’re going to give as a review, a box will open up with an option for you to “Write your review here”. Amazon will give you a screen with blank stars.
As soon as you choose how many stars you’re going to give as a review, a box will open up with an option for you to “Write your review here”.
Notice how right now it says the review will be “Posted publicly as Amazon Customer”? You can change that by going off to the right and changing how the world sees you on Amazon. This is only for reviews, so don’t worry about it. Click on the underlined “Change” button under “Amazon Customer”.
You can change your identity that posts publicly to anything you want for a review. In this case, I’d be posting it as something ridiculous like “Lightbulb.” (You’d want to use a less weird name.) Choose a name and click “Done”.
Now type in your comment and a box will show up below for your headline. I’m being a smart-mouth and naming mine “A blah review for a blah diet” but you can say anything. You can even attach pictures or video. Note the “View tips and guidelines” link. They are pretty helpful, directly from Amazon to you.
The Non-Technical Stuff:
These ideas I’m stealing from my friend and mentor, Nonnie Jules, who is a pro at all things reviews as the HWIC (Head Woman In Charge) of the Rave Reviews Book Club (RRBC).
Don’t write about SPOILERS. You don’t want to spoil a book for the next guy, do you? You can hint, but even that’s kind of mean.
Don’t write about every little step in the plot. Again, let the next guy read it for themselves. You could give a very general idea of the gist of the book but not a “blow-by-blow.”
Either rave on or critique a book. You shouldn’t say something like “All books with vampires are stupid” or “This book was bad because it has a rape scene.” You may personally dislike these things, but the next person may not. Instead, say WHY you did or didn’t like the book. “I found the vampire characterization to be childish and predictable.” OR “The rape scene was illogical and misplaced. It didn’t fit the overall tone of the book and was out of character for the hero.” OR “The characters were so believable I felt as though we were friends.”
If you don’t have anything NICE to say, say nothing at all. If you feel a book only warrants a 1, 2 or 3 star ranking, do so in a manner that does NOT attack the author. Do NOT say, “This was written so badly, it seems like a child wrote it.” That’s a big NO-NO. I would go so far as to say you should NOT say something like, “There were so many typos, I couldn’t finish.” That’s not to say you shouldn’t be honest. Honest reviews are good for everyone, authors and potential readers. Try to find SOMETHING kind and constructive and you may need to be creative. “It is obvious the author put a lot of work into this book.” OR “The author should have put more of an effort into an edit.” OR “The plot wandered in some places so it was difficult to follow, but if this were resolved, it has the makings of a good book.” Keep in mind that reviews are OPINIONS. If you want to have someone value your opinion, make it something that goes down well.
Check the spelling and grammar of your review. Read it back to yourself before you hit the done button.
*Five (5) Autographed Paperback copies of both Henrietta & Isabella (Books 1 and 2 in the House of Donato Series)
# of Winners for this stop: 7
Watch the trailer for Henrietta as background music, if you like.
An interview with Etta Donato (the main character in Henrietta):
Interviewer: First of all, thanks for joining us today, Etta. We know you have a busy life. Just to set the stage a little, you’re the main character in the book Henrietta, so I guess Etta is your nickname?
Etta: Yes. It’s an old-fashioned name, but I was named after my great-grandmother. Her story is also in the book, so it’s a two-for-one value.
Interviewer: Okay. And you’re also a writer. Is that right?
Etta: Yes. I have an MFA from Northern Michigan University and met my husband while attending graduate school in Marquette.
Interviewer: Great. So, what, to you, is the hardest thing about writing?
Etta: Finding the time. I’m a young mother, with another one on the way. Tom and I own a bed-and-breakfast on the shores of Lake Superior on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, so I’m busy. There’s never enough hours in the day. Sometimes the only time I find to write is when everyone is snoring.
Interviewer: And the easiest?
Etta: Coming up with ideas. I’ve got so many ideas running through my mind. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.
Interviewer: How long have you been writing?
Etta: Since I was a little girl. I’d make up ridiculous stories with my cousin Peggy. Sometimes we’d act them out. She and I have been pen pals for forever, so a lot of the time I’d pour what was in my heart out in words to Peggy and eventually I started writing them in story format instead of letters. I’m sure I’d cringe at some of those early stories I used to send her.
Interviewer: What types of stories do you like to read?
Etta: I’m an equal opportunity reader. Of course, I love romances, but I like thrillers and mysteries and sci-fi too. I haven’t gotten into the paranormal stuff much, but I’ve been thinking about it. And, of course, who doesn’t love a good western. There are such predictable characters in westerns. I love ‘em. And like Stephen King says, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have a chance to write.”
Interviewer: Please tell us all about you.
Etta: I’m a pretty typical Midwestern woman, about to be a mother of two, originally from Minnesota, the Twin Cities. I’m married to my best friend, Tom, who is also a native Minnesotan. I’m a runner. I try to run at least two miles every day, sometimes more. I’m a writer, but I don’t specialize in any one genre at the moment. Let’s just say I’m finding my niche in the writing world. I’ve published some of my work, a short story in an anthology of Indigenous American folk tales, which was wonderful! I’ve also published two stand-alone mystery novels. I’ve been through a lot in my life. My mother died when I was young, brought up by my dad, who is the world’s greatest dad. I’m the survivor of date rape and violent crime and glad to say I lived to talk about it. I’m a huge victim’s rights advocate and speak at domestic violence conferences on occasion. Otherwise, I’m just me. <giggle>
Interviewer: Would you like to share an embarrassing or funny moment with us?
Etta: That’s an easy question. It’s always the same one. The first time I met Tom. I went to this club, and he sat down. We flirted, then this hypnotist started his act. Next thing I know, I’m on stage with this total stranger, I had been hypnotized, and I just know I’ve kissed this guy while I was out of it. It was incredibly embarrassing, and yet, it turned out okay in the end. I did marry him, after all …. much, much later!
Interviewer: Where do you see your writing career in ten years?
Etta: Wow, ten years. I can’t imagine it at the moment. I’ll have a thirteen and ten-year-old. My life may perhaps be even more chaotic than it is now, but I’m hoping to have found my niche and published a couple of fiction series, maybe more on the American Indians. Gee, I guess I better get started on that, huh?
Interviewer: What advice would you give your teenage self?
Etta: I’d probably tell myself to pay attention, learn a lot. Listen more and speak less. I missed a lot of cues from people that I should have picked up on that would’ve saved me a lot of pain and heartache, so I think, just be more aware. And I’d tell myself to stop taking life so seriously. Have fun! What good is life is you aren’t enjoying yourself? Tom’s taught me a lot about just letting loose and letting go.
Interviewer: Where can we find you on the Internet?
Etta: You can find my whole story in Patricia M Jackson’s book, Henrietta: Book #1 in the House of Donato Series. You’re going to put the links in the same post, I think. My sister-in-law’s story is Book #2, Isabella. She’s a hoot. You’ll get a laugh out of her and Murphy. Murphy’s a little insane, by the way, but only a little. He’s a pro hockey player for the North Stars at the moment. My cousin Peggy’s story, Margaret: Book #3, is due out in the fall of 2016, so make sure you pick that up. Peggy is an incredibly talented pianist and wonderful person. She’s a lot like a sister to me. Anyway, her story is the culmination of the overall story that began with me. You can find all of that on Patricia’s website: http://www.patriciamjackson.com and a lot more.
Interviewer: Well, thanks again, for your time, Etta. We appreciate you taking the time to sit down and talk with us for a while. Please give our best to Tom and the Donato family. They have a pizzeria, is that right?
Etta: Yes. It’s a great place to stop for a bite if you’re ever in Duluth, and it’s fantastic food! Have fun on the blog tour everybody! I hope you all win huge prizes!
Tom and Etta have a problem. They’ve kissed passionately but don’t remember it. Both are starting life over, she as a writer in grad school and he, as a former hockey player, after a career-ending injury. But is anyone ever completely free of their past?
Tom and Etta create a bond from friendship then move beyond. It may not be possible to start anew with baggage from the past and no clear vision of the future. Or will people from the past always come looking for you when you least expect them? Words from another Henrietta, who rebuilt her life from tragedy, bring the answers that allow Etta to move forward. But is it already too late?
If you like an engaging, meticulously written romance steamy enough to raise any reader’s heart rate, then download this beautiful, inspiring gem.
Humor. Desire. Conspiracy.
Chad “Manic” Murphy, is an amusing and charismatic hockey star on the rise. His tutor is the gorgeous Isabella Donato, his teammate’s twin sister. If only he hadn’t promised never to touch her. Though his life is in turmoil, he charms his way into her heart. When she comes to her senses, her follow-the-rules mentality often clashes with his oblivious, impulsive ways.
Murphy’s one-sided decision to turn pro throws them into a cycle of unanswered longing. He stumbles upon a lawless domain driven by a man who has the power to destroy his world. Can Murphy clean up his chaotic life and once again sweep Izzy off her feet? Tragedy leaves her wondering if they could ever make it work.
Isabella is the second in the new adult romance series “The House of Donato”. If you like an enjoyable light-hearted romance, with sensitive love scenes sure to delight and arouse, download this unpredictable and compelling read.
Watch the Trailer for Isabella here:
Margaret (Coming Autumn 2016)
What holds a relationship together during difficult times?
Peggy, a gifted pianist, building a future at Julliard, ends up roommates with Brian Donovan, her cousin’s husband’s best friend. He was only doing her a favor, too occupied with law school and working for the FBI to notice she was around. At least he was kind enough to explore Manhattan together.
Donovan has no interest in a relationship with the luscious and exotic Peggy, convinced that there is no place in a cop’s life for a family. When a hot case causes disharmony, they end up playing a different tune. Do they have what it takes to guard their new love against harm?
Margaret is the culmination of the new adult romance series “The House of Donato”. This pleasantly paced tale filled with real-world conflict and skillfully interweaved suspense will finish off a story three books in the making. Enjoy this sensitive love story today.
Thanks for coming today. Don’t forget to share your thoughts and comments below to be eligible for BIG PRIZES!
Good luck on winning the giveaways! I’ll see you at the next stop of this excellent #RRBC BACK-TO-SCHOOL BOOK & BLOG BLOCK PARTY!
Be sure to visit my fellow participant on the tour today:
Why I plot
I’m a planner. I feel better when things are planned out and all sources for potential are flushed out fully, thought of in advance and written down so I don’t forget them. Only in a structured environment where everything that’s necessary and required is recorded for posterity does my mind feel free to roam to create something of great artistic consequence. It doesn’t matter if it’s a computer program, a musical piece or a story or novel. I still require order and organization to achieve my greatest level of freedom of thought for true artistry to take over.
I know there’s a whole different universe of artists, writers, musicians who could never work within these strict confines. If they aren’t completely left alone in a chaotic world, then their freedom cannot fly. I respect that way of working on art, but I can’t live with it personally. More power to them. I don’t know how they do it and vice versa.
Storyboarding and it’s drawbacks
In the writing world, this inherent difference is often referred to as either being a “planner” or a “pantser” (going by the seat of your pants). Well, I am a planner, but I still have a visual and artistic mind, albeit somewhat geometrically organized. I’ve seen many fellow planners who get out Post-It notes and poster board with string to create a storyboard for their novels. It has always looked like the perfect thing for me, but there’s one problem. I’m a technology person. I don’t like posters and sticky notes and markers and mess. I like neatness and laptops and organization and the sure knowledge that my dog can’t screw up my storyboard if he decides to pee on it. So I’ve always searched for the right software to allow me to storyboard on my computer and I finally found it. Enter the wonderful world of Scapple with me (brought to you by Literature & Latte, the same folks who brought Scrivener to the world).
I’ve just started working on my third novel and have a deep-seated desire to storyboard all aspects of the book, the general plot, each character’s arc in relationship to the general plot. I started messing around with Scapple to see if I could re-create using the software the same organization that those pen and paper plotters have been doing with Post-Its, yarn, and markers and I think I got it.
Using Scapple to Storyboard
I started by creating a separate “background” for each of the parts of the novel (Act 1, Act 2a & 2b, Act 3a & 3b). Once the parts of the story have been identified, I’ve done things the same way I would with sticky notes. For each scene/plot point, I create a yellow note. Each scene leads to another within the act with an overall story arc that goes from exposition to rising action to climax to falling action to dénouement. The best part of Scapple is that you can brainstorm your plot line before you work the individual scenes into a storyboard, then cut and paste into your storyboard all in one place.
Once those scenes are in place, then I add in a white note for each scene for location, a pink note for my female protagonist’s character arc, blue notes for my male protagonists’ character arc, red notes for the relationship arc between my “couple”, green notes for specific lines I want to include for each scene, etc. I can include information I’ve saved elsewhere (for me, I save a lot of inspiration on Pinterest Boards). There is no limit to the number of notes that can be added, if you want to add in pictures, videos, etc. or what color coding you want to use for each purpose.
Full Storyboard with Pics from Inspiration Boards alongside
There is so much you can do with Scapple, the opportunities are limitless. This is only one way to use it. Many people use the connections between notes to brainstorm relationships and interconnectivity, etc. The only limits are what you can imagine with your mind. The ultimate plus of Scapple is the freedom it gives to be super-creative by getting what’s in my head down on paper so I can forget it and keep building a complex and comprehensive novel. Hopefully, my book will be better and more entertaining because it’s been well-thought out before I start to write.
I’m excited to say I’ve written some Book Club Discussion Questions for Henrietta. Book clubs are such an unusual glimpse into your fellow club members. You can choose to be as outright and honest with them as you want to be. Hopefully, you’ll find these questions offer you a chance to open up to each other about the themes within Henrietta. Enjoy!
They are professional and thorough and understanding and, what is best of all for a new author like me, relatively inexpensive compared to other professional editorial services. Every author needs a reputable organization to complete a thorough editorial review, offer credence to the legitimacy of your writing skills and that’s exactly what they provide. They find the best in your work and review it in a way that you couldn’t have thought of if you’d sat down and written it yourself because they see it with a professional eye and a fresh perspective. Best of all, they provide you the review before they post it for the world to see, so that you can prepare yourself for the worst. Now, God willing, you don’t need to prepare for the worst, but if you do have things to work on with your writing, they provide you a clear-cut critique and offer suggestions that help you improve and become the best writer you can.
Working with Publishers Daily Reviews and Don Sloan was one of the best things I’ve done so far as a writer. It has helped me get connected with an awesome editor and my writing has improved considerably and consistently. Take advantage of their expertise and give yourself, as an author, a leg up in the world of Indie publishing. Check out Publishers Daily Reviews at the earliest opportunity.