I’ve spent the past twenty years in sales, a career I never thought I’d be in when I began in marketing where creativity is balanced with strategic thought. In sales, success comes from an ability to think strategically to assess the best approach to use with a potential client. When a 15% close rate is considered above average, you quickly learn how to grow a thick skin in order to pick up the phone or send the next email again the next day.

My thick skin served me well this week as I read the feedback from my writing mentor. Eliza’s story needs more work. The potential is there to take a good story and make a great story, if I’m willing to put in the work.

I’m ready to dig in buoyed by previous positive reinforcement from my beta readers. They provided me with the initial confidence I needed to send my full manuscript out to Ashley for a critique. Comments such as:

From a writing retreat peer: Eliza feels so real now, which means you have absolutely succeeded as a writer.

From a book club friend: The changes you made to the beginning of the book are beautifully thought out and really set the stage for the entire story. The scene with <Character X’s> passing brought me to tears. 

From a writing group peer and medical professional: … patient case is very moving. Certainly reminiscent of my feelings of losing my first patient.

While I will continue to cling to these words, I will also take to heart Ashley’s recommendations:

Be loyal to Eliza’s story. It’s her story.  

Strip the fluff, and some of that is your hard earned research.

Work on Character X so he’s not one-dimensional. You want readers to be conflicted too. 

Befriend dialogue, use it, read it aloud.

Write tightly, eliminate articles (a, the) as often as possible.

Linger in some of your scenes.

And, the bane of a writer’s existence – Show, don’t tell.

I am grateful Ashley took me on in the middle of her own busy writing and publishing schedule (second historical novel, Answer Creek, launching in May – watch for my ARC copy review soon, and working on her third novel due out in 2022). Keeping her notes handy, even to the point of placing a sticky note with one directive onto my screen as a reminder, I will move forward. I’ll pick up my red pen and get to a spot where every spot of the story shines.

As Ashley also pointed out, I have something very special here. And, the other note I’ll post to my screen is her encouragement for my work:

I remain a steadfast champion of you and your work and see a bright future ahead for you as a novelist. That said, there is hard work to do. You have something very special here, and I want to see it shine. 

Me, too.

More information about the power of networking and how I connected with Ashley, another Wheaton alumna, here: I Love My Village.

Ashley’s debut historical fiction and winner of the 2017 Nancy Pearl Book Award, Eliza Waite (yes! Eliza) is available on Amazon, click HERE.


I invite you to follow my blog for book reviews and to follow my journey toward writing my first historical fiction.  More information in my Novel Synopsis. You can sign up from this page with the pop-up, or send me a note through the CONTACT page and I can email you an invitation to follow. I’m on social media, too:

  • On Facebook @ Janis Robinson Daly – AuthorFollow me on Facebook where I also post info on the Amazon Deals I find on books I recommend
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  • On Twitter @janisrdaly_writer

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3 thoughts on “Growing a Thick Skin

  1. This all appears to be good news!! Please continue on your journey, as you know, I was “ taken” with Eliza from the very beginning. Will be interested in hearing about your revisions. On the road to success…I can feel it. Bonnie 🤗

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always appreciate your support my dear friend! In the words of my mentor, the revisions will only help to take my good story and make it great. I need to work on a couple of character developments and tension a bit more and edit out some of the research which bogs down some spots, but yes on the road to hopeful success.


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