Tag Archives: perserverance

Living BOLDLY and fearlessly (while being smart about it)


I’m honored to have one of my articles published in the June 2014 inaugural issue of BOLD Favor magazine, a publication highlighting people, organizations, and causes that inspire people to live boldly and fearlessly. I’d like to share the article with you, my wonderful readers, in its entirety.


The founder and editor-in-chief of BOLD Favor, Lynita Mitchell-Blackwell, is an impressive young lady who is a published author, CPA, attorney, speaker, and leader in her community. I always tell her that she is going to be another Oprah in a few years, so I plan to stay on her good side so I can borrow—no, have—a few million bucks from her one day. So when she asked me to submit an article related to living boldly, I was very happy to do so.


When I first thought about living boldly, I considered the time I stepped out of my comfort zone to ski on a steep slope (a mountain slope in the Austrian Alps, of all places), even though I had never touched a ski in my life. After two short lessons, I went up to the top of a hill and tried to practice making turns. Instead, I shot downhill like a bullet, straight toward death or serious injury in the form of a massive concrete support column. The other skiers spotted me as an obvious newbie and decided to move out of my path. I heard the ski instructor yelling for me to turn, but my leg wouldn’t listen. As I got within 20 feet of slamming into that column, I shifted my weight so hard that I executed a perfect 90-degree left turn at the last second. I drifted away with a new lease on life and a promise to start going to church more, as my buddy gave me that smirking “you-know-you-almost-killed-yourself-don’t you?” look.


BEFORE: Living boldly and fearlessly on the ski slopes

BEFORE: Ready to live boldly and fearlessly on the ski slopes


How I lived boldly and fearlessly on the ski slopes

AFTER: How living boldly and fearlessly on the ski slope worked out for me


While that was certainly living boldly, it was also a bit stupid to try skiing in that environment, especially one where most people didn’t even speak English and I didn’t know the German words for ‘hospital’ or ‘last will and testament’. I didn’t want to inspire someone to risk his or her life, so I decided to write about safer ways to live boldly.

Enjoy the article and check out the magazine!



Pushing BOLDLY Through Fear & Past Procrastination

Reprinted from June 2014 issue of BOLD Favor magazine

by James Reid


Taking a leap of faith

Leaping out of the comfort zone (which is safer than skiing)


To me, living boldly is stepping out of your comfort zone and changing your life. Everything starts with that first step.

Most people never take that step because of fear. Fear of being a failure. Fear of uncertainty. Fear of being ridiculed or of being uncomfortable.

I had those fears when it came to my writing. I love to write. I daydream about being a famous author. And I procrastinated—for years—in writing my first novel. It isn’t good enough yet, I told myself. I never learned how to do this. What if people laugh at me and say my book is garbage? Especially after I spent all these years on it?

If you are thinking like this about your own dream, stop it.

I used to volunteer and spend time talking to elderly people with no family. They appreciated the company. And while the conversations were pleasant, all of them expressed the same regret: they wished they’d taken a chance on doing something they loved. They said they made dozens of excuses for their inaction; they were too busy, kids got in the way, etc. They warned me not to make the same mistake because life sneaks up quickly. The situation and timing for living boldly will never be perfect. The best time is always now.

So for me, the fear of having critics rip my book wasn’t as strong as the fear of getting old and looking back on my life, wishing I had taken a chance to achieve great things. How about you? What do you fear most? Failure? Or regret?

I have a feeling you want to change your life and make that big step! As you live boldly, I’ll share some things I’m learning as I go along in my career:

  • Haters will come. They’re always going to be there, so forget them. I fretted about them until someone reminded me that even the Bible has detractors. So if some people have problems with the best-selling book in history, how can I expect my book to emerge unscathed? You’ll never get everyone to like you. Focus on your supporters instead.


  • Forget about making mistakes. In fact, use corporate puffery and call them learning opportunities. You’ll have plenty of them, especially when starting any venture. Of course, you should try learning from other people’s mistakes rather than your own, but it’s still unavoidable. Just learn from them. I’ve learned more of what not to do than what to do in this early stage of my writing career.


  • Aim high. You’ll need to, because people will always be pulling you back down with them. For example, writers groups can be depressing. We’re constantly told we have a better chance of hitting the lottery than of getting an agent and making money, blah blah blah. Yes, the odds are astronomical. I experience them every day. Living boldly means you will, too. So you need to be a realist.


But don’t confuse realism with pessimism. Pessimism is naysaying, with no thought of positive outcomes or solutions. A realist understands the risks and troubles, but plans to overcome them. It’s true that most writers make little money. Yet, James Patterson made $94 million in one year. So somebody is making money by writing. Will I get there? Who knows? Most of us won’t reach that level (if money is your measure of success). But he started at zero like everyone else. Aiming high and believing you can get there is living boldly. It’s difficult, but not impossible.


  • Be patient. I struggle with this myself. But unless you’re lucky, success won’t come fast. However, people expect everything to move quickly these days, so they’ll question you and doubt you, wondering why it hasn’t happened for you yet. Just keep at it. Big things have small beginnings. That first step is the hardest. Once you get going, you start rolling.

It took me ten years to complete and publish my book. People always wonder why I didn’t give up. It never crossed my mind. I love writing stories and I still hold on to that dream.

If you take that bold step to change your life and do what you love, giving up won’t be an option for you, either!

Let’s get the Blog Hop started…my Writing Process

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I love to write.


I love the process of editing and watching my writing get better. I’ve been writing short stories since I was a child. Creating characters and situations out of thin air has always been something that’s been easy for me, and each time I write, I feel I’m honing and perfecting this craft. So when Lynita Mitchell-Blackwell, Attorney-CPA, Author, Mentor, and Editor-in-Chief of BOLD magazine asked me to do a Blog Hop, I jumped at it!


So what’s a Blog Hop?   It’s a way to provide you and three of your friends or respected peers some great publicity by sharing your insight and experiences. The blog hop consists of 4 questions (answered below). One person answers them in his blog, and introduces three people who are ‘assigned’ to answer the questions the following week. Each of those three people mentions who added him or her to the blog hop, answer the questions, and find three others to continue the cycle. It’s a great way to expand your circle.


So without further ado, let me present to you the lady who invited me to this Blog Hop…the future Oprah, Lynita Mitchell-Blackwell!

Lynita Blackwell

Lynita Mitchell-Blackwell, an Attorney & CPA, is the Chief Leadership Officer of The Leading Through Living Community, a personal and professional development organization that encourages, equips, and champions people to be successful members of and leaders for their communities, in their professions, and personally. LTLC accomplishes this through individual coaching, workshops, and on-going support and opportunity identification. Lynita is also author of Leading Through Living: A Guide for Women Seeking Growth Through Leadership, a “mentor in your pocket” for women seeking practical advice to personal and professional advancement; and Editor-in-Chief of BOLD Magazine. Visit Lynita online at www.LynitaMitchellBlackwell.com or www.LeadingThroughLiving.com.


Okay, now on to answering my 4 Big Questions:


1) What am I working on?

  • There’s always something! In addition to blogging and building awareness for my first fiction novel Partners in Crime, I’m busy outlining my second novel. It is the next installment in my series of murder mysteries featuring Atlanta Homicide Investigator Jeff Strickland. My goal is to finish the first draft of the manuscript by September. This will probably take me another 2-3 weeks, as I gather research, lay out scenes and character arcs, and uncover potential directions that the premise is capable of following. For those looking to outline their works of fiction, I recommend this book.


2)  How does my work differ from others of its genre?

  • I’ve been told that my writing is descriptive, suspenseful, and gritty. It evokes strong emotions in certain scenes, but is balanced with a dry sense of humor at the right times. I definitely don’t want to be “Hollywood”. I want realism. I want the characters to deal with things that some fans of crime shows or books may not think about.
  • For example, few police departments have their own crime labs capable of conducting complex forensic tests. Many resort to using a private or state lab. Some state labs handle the complex forensic tests for every police department in their states. So what happens if the state places a quantity limit of only 10 or 12 items to test for each homicide case? And what if a crime scene is littered with hundreds of commonplace things that may or may not be evidence? Which ones does a detective choose, knowing that anything could be a critical clue? I highlighted those real-life scenarios in Partners In Crime.


3) Why do I write what I write?  

  • I’ve enjoyed writing since I was six. My mother grounded me quite often as a child (I was usually up to no good), and since I had no luxuries like PlayStation or the internet back then, I entertained myself by writing stories or reading the classics in my mother’s small library. After devouring every Sherlock Holmes story, I began to enjoy reading about true crime, forensic investigations, behavioral profiling, etc.
  • I decided to write about a homicide detective after a close relative was murdered. The angst and stress it caused my family was palpable. We peppered the detectives with questions, demanding status updates on the progress of the investigation. I was engrossed in how the detectives strategized and worked our case to find and arrest the killer. When I decided to write Partners In Crime, I wanted to focus on the real-life setbacks and emotions that both the victim’s loved ones and detectives go through.


4) How does your writing process work?

  • To get into my zone, I need my noise-cancelling headphones, a fully-charged MP3 player, and a Starbucks. I can concentrate there despite being surrounded by activity. Writing at home is harder. I have a comfortable recliner, a flat-screen internet-connected TV, and a huge collection of blu-rays, so I’m easily distracted at home. A Starbucks is best for me. A library is a close second.
  • Once I have the location down, my writing process depends on where I am in my writing. As I mentioned above, I’m working on outlining my book, which is something I didn’t do for Partners In Crime. The outline isn’t set in stone; it’s great for guiding me along but if one of my characters ‘speaks’ to me and goes in an unplanned direction, I let it happen and see where it takes me. I’ve learned not to edit until I have finished the first draft of the entire manuscript. Otherwise, I will never finish the book because I’m constantly driven to edit the second after I type the words. That is a terribly inefficient way to write, which is why it took me years to do my first one. The second one will take only a fraction of the time.

So that concludes the answers to my Big 4 Questions! Now it is time to introduce the next three thought leaders, up-and-coming writers, and all around good people who will carry the torch and keep this Blog Hop moving! Here are Jewel Brodie, Kathryn McClatchy, and C. Edward Baldwin…


 Jewel Brodie

Jewel Brodie is a certified Life Purpose Coach® from the Life Purpose Coaching Centers International. Jewel is also the Owner of an independent Life Coaching Business called The Gem in You, which was created to help women achieve personal goals, accomplish career ambitions, and identify their unique purpose in life. Through one-on-one discussions, mentoring and coaching, Jewel seeks to assist women in discovering the many gems that often remain hidden from society. For more information about Jewel Brodie, visit  http://www.thegeminyou.com



Kathryn McClatchy has been reading and dreaming of writing novels since before she can remember. Writing was a large part of her first jobs in the newspaper and marketing industries. After her sons started school, Kathryn returned to college, pursuing a Master of Arts in English. She also learned that she loved teaching, and went on to teach Composition and British Literature at Texas Woman’s University, Richland College, and Lakeview Centennial High School. She has been published in newspapers, magazines, and academic journals. At thirty-seven, Kathryn suffered a number of strokes and had to relearn almost everything, including reading and writing. After being disabled by the strokes, she decided to pursue her dream of writing a novel. To learn more about Kathryn see her blog at http://kathrynmcclatchy.com/

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After spending nearly twenty years in the insurance industry investigating insurance claims and hearing some of the wildest tales imaginable, C. Edward Baldwin decided to immerse himself wholeheartedly in the realm of make-believe. His debut novel is Fathers House. Baldwin earned a BA degree in Communications from North Carolina A&T State University and a MA degree in English from East Carolina University. He and his wife Natasha are the proud parents of two boys. You can read his blog here at: https://cedwardbaldwinblog.wordpress.com/

I’ve got 99 problems…and book publicity is one of them

Being a writer is rewarding, exhausting, and sobering. Particularly if you’ve recently published your first book and are trying to make a name for yourself. That means you get to experience the wonderful world of book promotion. You get to try a million suggestions (which everyone will have) to find those fleeting moments of joy when you get a positive review or sell a book. You get to learn what works and what doesn’t. And as I go through these growing pains, I’m happy to share the lessons I learn with you.


In my ongoing quest for book publicity, I participated in the 2014 Dallas Book Festival a few days ago and purchased an author booth. It was my first time being an author at a festival, so I was hyped! I had my table set up, my books and marketing materials stacked neatly, and a gatorboard poster of my book cover displayed. I was ready to sell millions of books!


I fell a bit short of that goal. I sold THREE books (and I thank those wonderful readers who bought them). In fact, those three might have qualified as one of the top sellers at that festival. All famous authors had to start somewhere, right? I guess I’m moving in the right direction.

One of the great readers who helped me make enough money to pay for parking

One of the great readers who helped me make enough money to pay for parking


In addition to earning enough to buy three-quarters of a tank of gas, I learned some things that might have me better prepared for my next festival. If you plan to sell books at a festival to create publicity, maybe this will help you as well.


Understand the venue

If you want to meet local readers and support your community, a small festival is great. If you don’t care about all that and just want to sell lots of books, you’ll need a bigger one. The Dallas Festival was small and it wasn’t promoted very well. The author section was on the 2nd floor of a library, away from ground floor traffic, and with space for about ten or twelve tables. Some people on the first floor didn’t even know we were up there. Meanwhile, the bigger festivals can accommodate well over a hundred authors and they have promotional budgets to spread the word. Of course, the registration fees can be several hundred dollars (versus the $40 for Dallas), so you get what you pay for.


Hold reasonable expectations

One author at the Dallas festival had traveled from another country to participate. He didn’t sell one book. So unless you have lots of book-buying friends, you’re a well-known author, or you’ve got one of the big publishing houses advertising you, don’t expect to recoup your expenses for events like these. In fact, don’t even bother wasting time calculating how many sold books you need to offset the cost of traveling, registration fees, shipping books back and forth, etc. You won’t see a return on that money for a long time. Just think of it as building awareness for future books. At least most of it is tax-deductible.


Stand frequently and greet everyone

Don’t sit at your table all day. Stand up for a while. Greet people. This makes you approachable, making it easier to sell your book. On the flip side, you have to learn when to cut off certain people. Practice excusing yourself tactfully, because you’ll run across people who just want to talk all day. You’d think otherwise, considering it’s a book festival, but some attendees will have no intention of buying books. They are there to people-watch and talk. At the Dallas festival, I seemingly attracted people who stood at my table for what seemed like hours, telling me unsolicited details about things like their marriage and sex life. They didn’t seem to catch on that I had no interest, nor did they seem to care that I was trying to greet people behind them–people who looked like they would actually buy a book.


(Public Service Announcement: if you are a reader attending a book festival, don’t monopolize the writer’s time when other people are trying to check out their booths. Especially if you aren’t buying anything! If you want to chat, grab their contact information and email or call them later. Or simply step aside while they introduce themselves to another guest, and continue the conversation when the coast is clear.)


All in all, the festival was a great learning experience. I had fun meeting other authors and swapping stories about our experiences and the strange people we met. I still have my 99 problems as I continue this journey, but I’m having fun doing it.


Maybe my 100th problem is that I’m crazy enough to keep doing this mess.

When an agent ridicules your manuscript


What do you do when an agent laughs at your manuscript and says it’s awful?


A.     Cry

B.     Beg her to read it again

C.     Throw a brick at her

D.     Learn from it and vow that one day, you’ll have the last laugh


This happened to me at a writer’s conference years ago. Well, not just to me. It happened to a lot of writers at that conference. We signed up for pitch sessions and critiques, where literary agents and editors reviewed samples of our manuscripts.

These sessions are similar to job fairs, but can be worse. Imagine a job recruiter saying he wouldn’t use your resume for toilet paper and that you’ll never find a job. A critique session can be a literary version of American Idol—you can find “judges” who are compassionate human beings or sadistic monsters who love crushing your dreams with brute force.

For my session, I submitted sample chapters of my novel Partners In Crime. It was a new experience for me, so I didn’t know what to expect. Well, the agent I selected really let me have it. As she flipped through the pages and laughed while telling me everything that was wrong with it, my first instinct was to ask a female friend to do a Jet Li move and drop kick her across the table (after all, I won’t hit a lady).

However, I forced myself to listen. As much as her words hurt, I refused to curse her, like some other authors did that day with their reviewers. Some even cried. Of course, not all sessions were bad. Some agents/editors gave glowing reviews and two writers walked away from the conference that day with book contracts.

Obviously, I wasn’t one of them. Instead, I chose Option D above. I learned from it. Now, I don’t even care about having that last laugh. I’m just busy improving my craft. So if you ever plan to have your written work evaluated, keep these things in mind:

Beware destructive critics

  • They’re also known as haters. They love to critique everyone’s work and point out what they didn’t like or what they would change. Rarely do they point out good things. You can’t please them. Of course, they’ll never submit their own work for critique. They don’t want to taste their own medicine.


Beware the lovey-dovey critics

  • These people are on the opposite end from the haters. These folks think that even a grocery receipt is a beautiful story that encapsulates the struggles, triumphs, and endearing passion of the human spirit. They’ll definitely think your writing will be an immediate international bestseller. As tempting as it may be, don’t seek them for advice. While it’s nice to hear their kind words, it’s hard to take them seriously, especially if they can’t give concrete reasons or examples WHY they love it. It may be that they just love you and not necessarily your work. Or perhaps you can’t handle rejection or criticism well and they’re avoiding the drama that comes with being honest with you. If that’s you, learn to accept criticism. You’ll never get better without it.


Appreciate the constructive, objective critics

  • This isn’t easy. Even today, I cringe a little when people critique my writing. I poured my heart into my book, and like every writer, I want people to love it and say it’s an awesome book. But I have to come back to reality. Every author can improve. Read Amazon reviews for best sellers; you’ll find readers trashing novels like the Da Vinci code, which only sold, oh, a billion copies. Even the bestselling book of all time, the Bible, has denouncers. What hope does anyone have of writing a perfect book?
  • So hold on to these valuable people who offer objective, constructive feedback, even when they say they don’t like something. They are worth more than gold.

Still, take the nuggets from scathing critiques

  • Even though I hated sitting in front of that agent that fall day in Los Angeles, I had to admit she had valid points. Although her tact and delivery could’ve been softened, and even though she was meaner than the worst of the aforementioned haters, she pointed out things I had to work on if I wanted to publish a murder mystery series one day. I just had to swallow my pride and listen.


The point? Do the best you can. Don’t let someone ruin your dream and never change your work just to please someone who didn’t like it. That’s not to say there may not be a valid point in what is said. You have to be objective and decide if it’s worthy feedback. But if you’ve done your hard work and put together the best product you can, I promise you that more people will love it than not!