One of the greatest feelings for an author is, of course, seeing their finished manuscript in a book form. However, a very close feeling to that is reading a review for their work. We understand that our books are not for everyone; hey isn’t that why there are hundreds of different flavored ice creams?
Reviews written by readers is an author’s way of knowing if they need to critique their writing or if in fact, they hit the proverbial nail on the head. For me, a review is the difference between continuing on the journey of writing or to retire my pen and paper.
Here are some simple do’s and don’ts for writing a review: DO be honest, whether it is a good review or a bad review, it’s really that simple * DON’T give spoilers away in your review, let the mystery there for the next reader. DON’T be insulting or demeaning. A bad review can still be tastefully done without becoming a crime scene.
*DON’T forget to take the time out and write that review.
A great place I’ve found to leave a review is on Goodreads.com.
By MJ Wijtyk
Life gives us many responsibilities as we pass through it. Responsibility to our parents, to our friends, to our colleagues, to our workplace, to our families, to our government, to our community, and especially to our children. By the time we accomplish all that is required of us, we often forget one of our largest responsibilities—to ourselves. I know that I am very guilty of this. It seems the priorities that we set often do not include our own needs. Now notice I did not say our wants….I have a large list of these, which I choose to ignore for various reasons at hand.
We don’t think about our own needs until it becomes an obvious issue. Doctor appointments, dental appointments, healthy lifestyles, socialization with families and friends—we tend to go with what is convenient while we fill all our other responsibilities. If we are being honest, do we really apply the same priorities to our needs that we apply to the needs of others?
Is there something in your life that you have always wanted to do, but never tried to accomplish due to your other responsibilities? Go back to school, change jobs or explore other fields of interest, eat more healthy, exercise, read more often… the list could be endless. Although only a few of these will improve your health and physical well being, many of these help with emotional and psychological being. Internal frustration can hit at any age but it can build up boil over as time goes by. We may not even recognize the symptoms, but eventually, this can lead to complications in relationships, to poor decisions, to personality changes, or to drug or alcohol dependency.
That may sound far fetched in the extreme, but when we bottle things up—either consciously or unconsciously, our mind is very much aware of it and problems tend to leak out one way or another. The good news is that it is never too late to correct. Let’s say you had an ambition when you were younger. There was something you always wanted to try. As my mother always told me, ”Well, you ain’t dead yet.” That was her supportive way of saying go do it.
Sometimes it is not feasible to do the exact thing you wanted to do, for example, go to school and get your degree. But that does not mean you can’t take a course or two, attend lectures at your local library, audit classes at your local colleges, or sign up for courses at your local technical schools. If you cannot do the exact thing you always wanted to do, find something close to it and do that instead. Travel? Try the library for books on day trips that are hidden in the area—then look up the cultural development that led to the establishment of the colony that led the way to that particular area. When you visit it, you won’t see it through the same eyes.
Don’t wait for life to hand you a solution on a platter; it just won’t happen. Take some initiative to develop a plan and then explore all your possibilities… they are out there waiting for you!
Facing Internet Reality
Every now and again, a moment comes along when you become disgusted in the magical land of writing. For me, this moment came a couple of weeks ago. In this day and age of modern technology, I now know two things for certain:
- My books can be distributed worldwide by just one click of a finger and that is a wonderful attribute but along with that, brings on number two.
- In this world of computers, websites and hackers, there is always the chance that someone is going to be dishonest.
I had the distinct unpriviledge of learning this when someone told me that there is a website that allows people to download my book for free. Can I say that I was shocked? Not really but it did devastate me to learn that over one thousand of my books have been read and I have nothing to show for it. I am not just talking about the monetary fraction of the pie, because it is an illegal website there are no reviews for my book either.
If you’re thinking, SHUT IT DOWN, TAKE IT OFF THE INTERNET, it’s just too late. For every single illegal website that may be taken down, if at all possible, ten more pop up. Should I take my e-book off the internet? I thought about it very hard and I even discussed it with my husband, over a thousand tears and a sick feeling in my stomach. The bottom line is, I am not going to let them win. I will use it as a motivation instrument and never forget that I am better than that. There are thousands of books on that one particular website and even if I would take my e-book off the net, the version they have on that site will forever be out there. I can’t let this one setback define the author and writer that I am. I am stronger than that and know that I will prevail through this, victoriously.
To those of you who purchase e-books from respectable institutions, I thank you, because by doing it legally, you support the arts and creativity of the human race. For those of you who do not, well, I can’t say that I understand but I hope you enjoy my book anyway. I will continue on this journey with just as much enthusiasm as before.
Mini Bio of an Amazing Woman
By MJ Wijtyk
I want to tell you the story of one of the most amazing women I have ever known. Her name was Louella M. Moore and she lived a very long time ago. She was born in 1897 on a farm in the Chester County area of Pennsylvania.
Louella did very well in school and after graduating high school, she entered West Chester College and became one of the first women to get a degree from that institution. She started as a teacher down in what we refer to as the Mainline (in Pennsylvania, that centers just outside of Philadelphia). Being very ambitious, she applied and became the first female Principal in the state of Pennsylvania. To become the Principal of the Upper Darby School District Elementary School was no mean accomplishment in a world of male dominance.
I went to live with my aunt—Louella and her sister, my grandmother—Ruth Blydenburgh (married name). The two of them lived in Media, PA in a house on a street named Pennock Place. Louella was working at the school and Ruth was retired from nursing at the hospital. I was a sickly child, tending to catch what was called the croup every other month or so. It was thought that if I stayed with my grandmother because she was a nurse, I would fair better during my croup spells. I guess it worked as I only came down with it once or twice while I was with them. Mother, Dad, and my siblings lived about an hour away and I saw them often, so I did not mind being away visiting a household that seemed to live to feed my imagination.
To me, she was Aunt Bell or Tante Bell, which is German for Aunt Bell. I don’t think that she was very German by blood, but for some reason, she made sure I studied it later in my life. Anyway, she and Grandmother took me with them everywhere: the farmers market (a wonderous place for a five year old) to buy a chicken (Grandmother taught me how to pick the best one. It had to have a yellowish tinge to the skin color. Sounds awful to me now, but after all, this was a few years ago….), pick the best vegetables and fruit, and pick up milk from the farm. I loved stopping at that particular farm as they made their own ice cream. The ritual was that we had to have a mandatory black cow (a float made of root beer and vanilla ice cream) for each of us, whenever we went there.
Aunt Bell always made sure that I had exotic pets when I lived with them. I had my own alligator, which was okay, but you could not really pet it, so I lost interest. I fear it became one of the fabled monsters living in the Media sewers that made headlines about ten years ago. I had a red rat, which I dearly loved to hold and pet. They always wondered why it sat so still on my knee while I was petting it (little did they know I had its tail tucked under my leg in back of my knee). I had a rabbit. Now that is not so unusual but this rabbit was absolutely stupid. It had a littler of babies and then it sat on them and killed them. Not too bright.
Aunt Bell decided I should have a dog to play within the yard. So we all trotted down to the SPCA and picked up a very nice animal. The only problem with him was that he was very one-track minded. He saw everyone go in the front door of the house, but I took him around the side of the house and put him in the five-foot chainlink fence. Then I went around to the front door and went inside. When I looked out the back door, the dog was nowhere in sight. I went out the front door and there he sat, waiting to go inside. He had climbed or jumped that huge fence—determined he was coming inside the house from the front. This occurred and reoccurred several times. So it was back to the SPCA with him.
The next dog she swapped him out for was a boxer we named Patsy. She was an excellent dog and I had her until I was in college. I had other pets of the usual type—mice, hamster, ducks, and oh yes, my snake. Now that I think of it, that was probably the method devised by two older ladies to entertain a youngster without too much exertion. It worked and I have been an animal nut ever since.
But I digress…. Aunt Bell had the most striking appearance. She was very tall (especially compared to a young child), about five foot seven. With blue eyes and gray hair that she had her sister dye with a beautiful, albeit unusual, blue/purple tint. Some days it hovered on the purplish side more than the blue-gray side, but it was definitely striking. She had a certain poise and stance that you did not encounter back then. Always dressed in stylish and expensive suits or dresses, she definitely commanded respect.
The students in the elementary school loved her. I know this because when I was four or five, she took me there with her and put me in one of the classes for a day. I had a ball, but I was much shorter than most of the children in the class, so I am guessing it was a second grade. When I was a little older, I accompanied Aunt Bell and one of the classes on their class trip to New York City to see the United Nations Building. By now I was in second or third grade myself and was very much impressed with the entire trip.
One time, when I was accompanying her to school, she was stopped by a policeman. She was driving too fast in one of the many school zones we passed to reach the Upper Darby School District. When a young policeman pulled her over and came to the car, she rolled down her window and fixed the look on him (all great teachers have one). He informed her of what she had done, but that was about all he was able to say. This is how the conversation went.
“Do you know who I am?” she asked.
“No, but it does not matter, you were speeding.”
“I am Miss Moore, Principal of the Upper Darby School.” Stern would describe the voice.
“Then you should know better than to drive so fast through here.”
“How dare you leave your corner and all those children unprotected, just to chase me down.”
“A…. well, I a …. “ Now he was on the defense…. and loosing.
“You get right back to your post this minute!”
“Yes ma’am—please drive more slowly next time.” He then beat a hasty retreat away from the car and back to his own, feeling guilty for having left the corner that he was standing on.
Aunt Bell never said anything to me-she merely turned the car back on and we continued on our way; I will never forget the look on that young officer’s face when he came up against my Aunt Bell. She was amazing to live with, but even more amazing to watch when she was at work in her own environment. She did not joke around much, except when she played with their little dog, Pepita—a small Chihuahua with a rotten temper. Aunt Bell loved to tease the dog while she hid under the covers in my grandmother’s bed.
Aunt Bell always told me the same thing, over and over: You can do anything want or be anything you want. All you have to do is apply yourself and you will succeed. She should know as she set many records during her lifetime. Besides the academic accomplishments, she was the founder of a large cancer charity for children with that horrible disease. Although I was young, I was able to accompany her to meetings at the campground that was set up for the children. I was so impressed with the way all the volunteers met and greeted my aunt with such respect and love.
I was very fortunate to have stayed with Aunt Bell and Grandmother when I was young. I was able to get to know two very remarkable women who accomplished much and feared no one! There was no glass ceiling for them. One day, I will tell you about my Grandmother—whose sense of humor will always be mine!