Thursday, March 19, 2015

Are You Dealing With Bad Reviews?

I had started a comment on a blogger friend's article and decided to create an article instead because it had grown larger and more complex than what I believe is appropriate for a comment. Thank you, Auden, for inspiring this post.

I'll quote the original question which prompted this response: 

There's a ton of advice out there on how to deal with bad reviews. They like to say "dwell on the good reviews." What if you don't have any glowing reviews to off-set the negative/indifferent ones?

I've had my two short stories on Amazon since 2012 and one of them has exactly one review and the other a whopping five reviews. I can tell you this much. I didn't ask for reviews, but when I got them, I was pleased. I'm far from inspired by the numbers, but I'm flattered by and appreciate the favorable responses by those who appreciated my work. However, I've not written or produced much these days and that makes me sad.

On the contrary, though a bad review has to hurt, it's not a lost cause, because bad reviews are those things that prompt you to explore and improve! Especially if you're passionate about storytelling.

Here are some questions to ask yourself if you feel you're not getting the feedback you desire. Do you attend a lot of writing conferences? I know they can be expensive, but the advice and information you walk away with is so wonderful! Have you joined a writing critique group? In-person group sessions can help your writing out quite a bit. Don't shrink away from advice and constructive criticism. It's out there. 

I've joined both, the Tallahassee Writers Association and the Florida Writers Association. Both organizations have welcomed me in such ways I can't even explain. You need to be around people who are driven and wired the same way you are in order to learn the lessons and solutions of the trade. These folks are willing to be there for you because their struggles are the same. 

Lethal Injection, The Seed is 7 pages, received almost 400 downloads, and I have 5 reviews, 1 from a relative. The story has no action but is described as powerful. How does that happen? Writing classes, conferences, critiques, and encouragement helped my confidence in putting the story out there. It's the readers who will figure out if it works or if it doesn't. If it doesn't work, I agree, it would be helpful if readers would provide better feedback. Unfortunately, they are not required to give anything of value. It's other writers who will fill that void.

So how do we improve as writers and storytellers? Stephen King advises that we read, read, and read some more. However, how do you take the time to read if you're pumping out novel after novel? After all, Dean Koontz does it! He has an excuse. He's famous and people buy his books because it's branded already. Come on! He's Dean Koontz. 

If you don't have the time to read much, do like I do. Audio books! They are great because I pop them in on my way to work, and they start up again when I'm driving home. 


Hope I've been helpful in some ways.

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Get Yourself Some Sophie Kinsella

After the passing of my husband, I needed something to occupy my time and to take my mind off the deep sadness that comes from losing your best friend. I can't praise Sophie Kinsella enough for her stories, and I had no idea how entertained I would become just listening to these two audio books.

In Can You Keep a Secret, Emma Corrigan spills her deepest, darkest secrets to a complete stranger because she kind of gets nervous when her plane is getting ready to crash, and in her last moments of living, it's her way of confessing all her sins before the end. 

The thing is, the plane never crashes. And as it turns out, the complete stranger happens to be going to the same town as Emma because he's the CEO of the company which employs her. How funny is that? It's hilarious and had me entertained for hours.

The Undomestic Goddess is another Kinsella novel which kept my spirits high during some very trying evenings. The protagonist, Samantha Sweeting, is a perfectionist and an attorney trying to make partner in her law firm. When a simple mistake on her part impacts a client by costing them several million dollars, Samantha has a melt down, takes a train to the middle of nowhere, and gets lost. 

When she stops to ask for directions at a huge mansion, she is properly interviewed and accepts a job as a housekeeper. She does everything she can to not blow her cover. She even subcontracts out some of her duties to hide her incompetence.

These stories are hilarious and if you haven't heard of Sophie Kinsella, hopefully these brief summaries will get you out to the books stores exploring some.

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Making Room for Women with Effective Strategic Communication

You know me. I'm all about the progress. And now it's for the women out there. I'm sharing the presentation I put together in my first graduate level course in Strategic Communication. As we all know, women have been major contributors in the workforce for decades and we still manage to fly under the radar when it comes to being recognized for our talents and potential in leading others, especially in male dominated fields such as science and engineering.

Please feel free to share my work as a reminder to organizations that women have made tremendous progress, and we are ready for some recognition.

Thanks, and enjoy.

You "knocked it out of the park" with your slide design and your delivery. Very well done. One of the best. -- Dr. Chupp

My next class is Crisis Communication. That will be fun. Stay tuned!

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Sunday, March 1, 2015

50 Shades of Good Morning

I respect an education. I do. But, oh my GYAD, can we just sound normal regardless how smart we think we are? I never realized how hard we try to sound smart when producing work at school. If you thought an undergraduate course made you stressed with this sort of thing, imagine graduate level work...

Only 1 out of 20 students in my class sound like me: normal. Just say it!! “Good morning.” See how natural that sounds?

How do you say good morning?

Meet the grad student:

  • Might I temporarily engage you in conversation this morning?
  • I’d like to utilize a brief form of discourse in welcoming you this morning.
  • I would like to communicate my excitement in discovering your presence seven hours and thirty six minutes after the stroke of midnight.

Me? I would like to shoot myself before this semester is over. Thank you!

I’m exaggerating, of course. I’m just ashamed that the work I produce in academia sounds nothing like me! I’m actually pretty stoked to celebrate the end of my first graduate level course. Cheers!

Your challenge for today!

How would you say good morning in your most intellectual or creative use of language? Share in the comments below!

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Monday, February 23, 2015

The A to Z Challenge - Stream of Consciousness Writing Prompt

Are you involved in the April A to Z Challenge? What is your theme?

I am starting my work on the upcoming A to Z Challenge for bloggers. That means I have to share my theme so that I can begin to compile what I will be publishing in the month of April and I need your help!

The A to Z Challenge is an opportunity for bloggers to push themselves to produce articles for their blogs which further advance their brands for loyal readers, networked partners, and future followers via a theme. It's also a great way to meet other bloggers and share readers.

Okay, so my blog is about making progress, whether it is with my writing, my career as a technologist, or my own personal and spiritual growth. Therefore, my theme will be "The A to Z Stream of Consciousness Writing Prompt." I will take one word as my seed, and without any filters, I will produce anything and everything on my mind in a stream stemming from that root word (unedited) and I will publish those words on my blog each day until all letters of the alphabet have been used.

Send me a word and I will add it to my list. I need one word for every letter of the alphabet, so please don't be shy! Post your word in the comments or send me an email (diane-carlisle at comcast dot net). There are no restrictions for your suggestions either. :)

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Memorial to my Husband - Mr. Universe

This is my first post in February. I know I've been pretty consistent in posting at least once per week, if not more, but my life has been turned upside down recently and I am taking some time away to recover from the passing of my husband of 27 years. You all know him as Mr. Universe, the love of my life, and the master of everything that is my world. I guess you know why it has been hard for me to jump back into the swing of things, but here I go.

The best way to share with you is to share my message as it appeared to my closest friends and family on Facebook shortly after Tim passed on February 1st:

I want to thank you all for your support and words of encouragement. I'm reading your prayers, every single one. I just didn't want to respond until I had more information to provide, especially to those who did not realize that Tim had been ill. Tim had a soft tissue sarcoma 5 years ago and they successfully removed it. His scans had been clean for 4 years. However, about 3 years ago, I discovered a pinhead sized melanoma on his back. They removed it successfully and we thought nothing more of it. 

In August of 2013, during a routine scan to ensure the earlier sarcoma had not returned, they found some spots on his liver which turned out to be a spread from the melanoma they had removed years before. They gave him a prognosis of 6-9 months (without treatments). We elected treatments. 

In the meantime, we created a bucket list and traveled about having the time of our lives. He passed just like he wanted to, with nobody fretting over him and nobody being sad. I realize it's not the best way to learn of someone's passing, but it's how he wanted it.

I hope in respecting his wishes for as much privacy as I could possibly allow him, I deserve to at least share his story now that he has passed. 

Thank you! 

Please visit Tim's memorial site and leave your blessings. He made his life in the same manner as he viewed the world and he had no regrets, as can be expressed in this photo I took a few short years ago. It is how I will always remember him.

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Pick a Word Blog Hop

This is a stream of consciousness exercise. Please join in the fun, or not. If you join, don't feel like you must edit your post if you can help yourself, but visit other participants by taking their links and leave comments!

My word is chopped.

I picked this word out of the air, maybe because I was watching that Food Network show. Kids were competing, like 9 year-olds, using KNIVES! What the hell. Can someone say liability? I just saw a kid cut herself in the chopped kitchen. Am I over-reacting? Why do I choose a word which needs hyphenating and why do I choose words I don’t like to spell…like hyphenating. Sucks. And why did I even picked the word chopped anyway?

What can you do with this word except describe something that gets divided in two or more things, smaller things, smaller meaning lesser. Lesser meaning not more, so if I want more of something, now I have less because I chose to use the chopped and get lesser. Unless of course I keep all parts and glue them back together. My logic sucks, but as promised I have to post this shit, cuss words and all. This is embarrassing and I should never have decided to do this assignment.

Can I get something positive from this word chopped besides this chubby cute kid who just missed an opportunity to win 10 thousand dollars? Oh, yes! It’s the dessert round, now that’s freaking positive as hell. I’m getting another beer and watching this. Kids making dessert has to be better than my writing about the word chopped.

This is my stream of consciousness writing assignment. Please don’t judge me!

Join this linked assignment by adding your own stream of consciousness  work. Pick a word,, any word. Then write your post and share it here. Deadline has not been set yet, but if you spam this blog, you might get chopped!!

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