Teaser #3

To continue the saga of my discoveries, I’ve decided to do more than one paragraph at a time. I’m not sure I’d live long enough to get to the end of the book if I keep going at that rate.

So, here’s the next installment (continuing the story of doing market research at a small ad agency):

We also frequently unearthed some tidbits that could have major financial consequences, and it was wonderful to be able to tell clients how much money they could save or gain in additional revenues. We did a number of projects where clients had double-digit returns on the money they spent on research. That turned a research spend into an investment, something any decent businessperson would appreciate. Those were the best assignments we had, and they usually led to repeat business for us.

One of our most memorable projects involved a commercial feasibility test for an engineering firm. During the presentation of the results, the president of the client company jumped up, banged his fist on the table, and shouted, “Holy shit! I knew it!”

He was a large, florid man, who looked like he might have a bad temper, and I wasn’t sure if he was pleased or planned to hit me. Fortunately, as it turned out, he was extremely pleased. His company of left-brained engineers had convinced him that a new idea they had would make them all rich and famous. Our research showed that interest in it among companies that might be likely to buy it was lukewarm at best.

The results of the research saved his company at least a million dollars in development costs. That man was one happy client. This is the kind of
experience market researchers live for.

His project and others provided extraordinary case histories when we prospected for new business, and we loved telling those stories. Although the work was a passion for me, I did not initially enjoy sharing the results with clients. Eventually, after years of practice, my skills improved, and those presentations even became somewhat pleasurable. Like many ad agencies, ours was a culture of being somewhat intimidated by our clients—since in their minds they were always right. Of course, they pay the bills. As someone with a less than robust dose of self-confidence, I fit into that culture easily, so it took some time for me to relax enough to enjoy what I did well. I liked the prospecting even less until I learned to let the prospects talk first and then explain to them how we could help them. It was like telling a story. Then it became fun.

Perhaps this was a hint that I might be good at telling stories?

Teaser #2

About a month ago, I posted the first paragraph of the first chapter of my newly-published memoir. For those of you who haven’t read it yet, Here’s the quote which foretells the story:

“Sweet are the uses of adversity, which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head; And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in every thing.”
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

Without further ado, here’s the next paragraph (see Teaser for the first):

I was working at a small business-to-business ad agency, running the Research and Database Marketing group. My job was to manage the efforts of this team, ensure the studies were done correctly and on time, then present the results to our clients. Being a left-brained, analytical, by-nature curious type, helping our clients solve their business challenges was a great deal of fun for me. After years of holding down marketing communications roles, I’d finally found my specialty, and I loved the work. Although their dilemmas might not have been as compelling as a good murder whodunit, we usually uncovered some surprises.

Hopefully, this will pique your interest enough to make you visit Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sibling-Revelries-Finding-Family-After-ebook/dp/B07B7B43WD/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1521120573&sr=8-1&keywords=mary+jo+latham-martin.

#memoir #family #findingfamily #Marinecorps #strongwomen #onlychild#USNavy #WWII

 

Blame it on the Martinis

pexels-photo-700972.jpegIt was the Martinis that caused it. Once I began my discoveries of my new family, I had to share the story. It was just too good to keep to myself. Other than family, who heard agonizing blow-by-blow descriptions of the breakthroughs, my client @MyraJolivet, also a writer, was the first to learn about it. We had drinks after work one night and following a few sips to loosen me up, I began to relate the story which subsequently became Sibling Revelries. This was back in 2012 or so. I was still working, so didn’t have as much spare time as I do now.

The first words out of Myra’s mouth, which opened in surprise with every new tidbit, were, “You have to write this! What’s more, it would make a fantastic screenplay.”

I just laughed and said, “Sure, in my spare time. Maybe when I retire.”

Time passed, and I began to divert my clients to a fellow market researcher. This freed me up for doing other things – like writing a book. It began as the stories of the common father and the mothers. Then Myra stepped in again and connected me to a writing coach with whom she’d worked.

@MaxRegan and I had several telephone conversations, after which he looked at my first feeble efforts and said, “No, this has to be a memoir – the whole story of you and how you found your siblings. And the impact it had on all of you. But especially you. It is your memoir. It can’t be just about the parents.”

Thus, in January 2013, I began my education as an author. From a background of creating market research reports and doing business writing, I had a lot to learn. Like what a memoir is. There have been many people who helped me along the way. They are blamed in the acknowledgments.

After much introspection, the manuscript grew to 26,000 words. I was thrilled. Until someone with much more knowledge than I told me, “You need many more words – at least 40,000.”

I hit that goal, then pitched to an agent, @JohnnieBernhard. She told me, “You need many more words – at least 60,000.”

So, I wrote and wrote and wrote to achieve that elusive goal. Thanks to my Critique Circle, my writing actually got better – and longer. I even spent some time writing some short stories, one of which was published! That gave me more self-confidence than I deserved. But it felt good.

After numerous agent rejections, I decided to self-publish. This started an entirely new education. Thanks to @FernBrady, @ManonLavoie, and @Dylan Drake, the masterpiece was formatted, and a cover designed.

The next steps are to market it. So, tell all your friends!

Teaser

Books are live and selling on Amazon! https://www.amazon.com/Sibling-Revelries-Find…/…/ref=sr_1_1….

And I have a small number of reviews.

I thought you all might like to see the start of chapter one:

It started with a quiver in my voice, a shaky hand, and a worried heart. I first noticed it in 2003, when I was fifty-seven. That quiver in my voice and my shaky hand didn’t fit well with my image as a self-confident, competent, take-charge professional. It also scared me. I began to imagine that it was due to some kind of horrible condition, from a brain tumor to Parkinson’s disease. The more I worried, the worse it got.

 

#memoir #family #findingfamily #Marinecorps #strongwomen #onlychild#USNavy #WWII

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eBook and Hard Copy!

So very happy to say that both the eBook and hard copy versions of Sibling Revelries are now live on Amazon.

This has been a five-year journey, filled with angst, editing, more angst, and yet more editing. After being rejected by more agents than I would have cared to, I made the decision to self-publish.

This was not a simple thing to do. The writing is perhaps a quarter of the work involved in publishing a book. Someone who may know how to write (after five years I kind of learned that), now has to become skilled at formatting a manuscript correctly and designing a cover. I chose to reach out for help.

Thanks to @FernBrady at Houston Writers Guild, I found two pros to do the heavy lifting @ManonLavoie, formatter par excellence, and @DylanDrake, who did a bang-up job of designing the cover you see here.

It’s been quite a journey. Now I have to market it!

#memoir #family #findingfamily #Marinecorps #strongwomen #onlychild#USNavy #WWII

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Getting Back to WordPress

After an absence of about two years, I thought it was time to write something.

A lot has transpired during that time. I finally, finally finished my memoir. I submitted it to a number of agents and was soundly rejected. This is not uncommon among first-time authors, but it still smarts. So, after my bruised ego healed somewhat, I decided to self-publish. I am now learning the intricacies of using Kindle Direct Publishing. Not difficult, just time-consuming and frustrating. Kind of like trying to format documents when Microsoft Word first came out.

I’ve also learned that I should have started marketing at least a year ago. Even when you get an agent and a publisher, you still have to do your own marketing. So then, what do they do for their cuts? Part of that marketing is having a web page. That will be my next step on WordPress.

Keep your fingers crossed for me. I need all the help I can get.

 

About

Mary Jo Martin is a retired market researcher who gave up life inside the Loop in Houston, Texas to move to the suburbs. I know, it’s supposed to work the other way.

She is a member of the Houston Writer’s Guild. Her short story, set in South Carolina, about domestic abuse and a poisoning, Flowers for Lewis, was published in the Houston Writer’s Guild Press short story mystery anthology, Waves of Suspense, in December 2015.

A medical mystery led her to pen an account of her quest to unearth her medical history on her father’s side. Instead, she found a big family. This work won first place in the memoir category in the Fall 2014 Houston Writer’s Guild contest. She’s still working on it.

Mary Jo started her professional life as a chemist. Along the way, she sold out to the dark side and earned her Master’s degree in Business Administration. After years of successfully producing concise business text as a marketer and market researcher, she is now free to do “real” writing.