Tag Archive | review

The fine print: why the Rite Aid brand helps my skin better than Aveeno

Hives are painful.  Hives are common.  Though sometimes they have a clear cause, often the real cause of hives cannot be tracked, even by painful allergy tests.

Since August of this year I’ve been daily attacked by hives, especially at night when dozens of welts erupt all over my body.  At first I did nothing.  Then I tried cream after ointment after cream before going the classic route and picking up a bottle of plain calamine lotion from Rite Aid.  But that lotion is very runny and without anyone available to apply it to my back, I’ve been suffering.  That is when a friend suggested I try Aveeno’s Anti-Itch concentrated lotion which is creamy and easy to apply.

AVO-03690-1

This lotion costs around $12 for only 4 ounces — per ounce more than double the cost of the store brand calamine.  So I had high expectations for it.

To my shock however it does not work — at least not compared to the calamine lotion from the drug store.  This despite the known benefits to the skin of its oat complex and the excellent reputation of the Aveno problem.

A look at the fine print however is revealing.  Because when you strip aside the brand image and look only at active ingredients the answer becomes obvious:  it only contains 3% calamine and 1% pramoxine.  That means the lotion relies mostly on the oat complex the brand is famous for instead of the calamine solution that families have used for decades to successfully address skin diseases and conditions.

By contrast the Rite-Aid calamine lotion contains 8% calamine and 8% zinc oxide, both of them tried and true ingredients for healing and soothing the skin.  Though runny and a bit inconvenient to use, the lotion works — reducing pain and deterring scratching so the skin can heal.

And when that fails another very simple remedy helps me with the pain and swelling:  ICE PACK.

 

 

No Excuses: One Star Reviews on Ebooks

permission to walk awayEvery author wants five star reviews.  This is a given.  As human beings we want everyone to love and adore our work, even when we know that is impossible.  Everyone has different tastes in books.  I like non-fiction history, you like a spicy romance.  You want to escape into another world; I want to better understand the one we are already in.  Different tastes make the world go round.

Indeed, critical reviews help authors by offering substance, feedback, and credibility.  No author with more than five or six reviews has a perfect five star average; someone will always find something imperfect about your work.  This is how it should be.  Your work should receive a mix of reviews.

With one exception:  the one star review.

Ghosts of the Past cover webOn books, there is absolutely no reason for a one star review.  Why?  Because all book retailers offer book SAMPLING — try it before you buy it.  The purpose is obvious:  if you like the sample, odds are really good you will like the book and buy it.  If you do not like the sample, odds are equally good that you will move on and not bother to purchase the book.  Sampling helps match books with readers who like and appreciate them so that there is SOMETHING the reader likes before purchase.

If you like a book before you buy it, odds are good you will still like something about the book after you read it.  Yes, there are plenty of examples of books not living up to their promise by the end — those are the ones who receive two star and three star reviews.  But a one star review is different:  it means there is no redeeming quality to the book.  If this is the case, why did the reader download it after reading the sample in the first place?

To this, only one logical answer resonates:  the person did not read the sample before download.  Why not?  In my experience this happens with free books.  A person who pays nothing for a book risks nothing by downloading it (this is often why authors often their books for free).  The flip side to this is that the person who pays nothing invests nothing in the same book; there’s no value to it because no money is actually paid.

When we pay money for something, we value it.  It matters to us.  We are careful about our choices.  We make sure before we buy something that it is something we (or any person we give it to) really want and expect to enjoy.  The more something costs us, the more careful we are to evaluate whether or not we really want it in the first place.  With books, we take our time and read the samples.  We research.  We investigate.  Then and only then do we spend the money and buy.

Every single one star review I ever received came from people who received my book as a gift in some way — a winner in a giveaway, a special sale promotion, or a permafree book.  In paying nothing, the reader invested nothing.  By investing nothing the reader had no inhibitions about trashing my book and hurting its review average with that one star.

That is, if s/he read it at all; I have reviews where it is clear all the person did was skim the sample, then write the review based on a few paragraphs and feign to have read the entire thing.  These too were negative reviews whose content did not match with anything mentioned in reviews written by those who read the books.

Why do people do this?  Give me your thoughts!  Let’s talk about our experiences dealing with negative reviews!  Post your comment here or tweet to https://twitter.com/laurelworlds.

Reblog: What Authors Can Learn From American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, And The Voice

I received this fantastic piece of advice from Marla Madison on BookDaily.com and just had to share it with you:

 

What Authors Can Learn From American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, And The Voice

Does the best singer win American Idol or the Voice? Is the most accomplished dancer the winner of the Mirror Ball Trophy on Dancing With the stars?

Anyone who is a regular viewer of talent reality shows knows this uncontestable fact: the most talented doesn’t always win. In fact, the most well executed dance or song, seldom wins.

What does win?

The winner is the performer who is most popular, the one who captures the hearts of the viewers with both performance and personality.

How does this relate to our writing?

It’s all about entertainment!!!

A few ways to keep your work entertaining:

1. Know your genre. Read, read, read. To entertain requires originality. If you’re afraid your plot is hackneyed, be sure to have a new twist on it. If you don’t keep in touch with others’ work, you’ll have no idea what readers are tiring of.
2. Make your characters original. We’ve all met the perfect protagonist, the one with the super face, toned and buffed body, and excellent skills. Readers want characters that they can identify with—make then real.
3. Make the first chapter exciting. I’ve deleted dozens of books I’ve downloaded because the beginning failed to be interesting. Make your first chapters pull the reader into your book and want to read the entire thing.
4. Series books – Take time to learn how to make each book worthy of standing alone. Check for either too much or not enough back story.


5. Be accessible to your readers. Have a presence on popular networking sites, broadcast your blog, and have a mailing list. Answer every personal message you get.


6. Read reviews of books in your genre. Reviews will put you on th
e fast track to discovering what entertains your readers.

About the Author:
Marla Madison is a retired Federal Mediator, now working as an Arbitrator for the state of Iowa and the Federal Mediation Service. She’s Not There is her debut suspense novel, and Relative Malice, her second. Marla is working on a third suspense story, that while not a sequel to She’s Not There, does have some of the same characters.

Marla lives on Prairie Lake in Northwestern Wisconsin with her significant other, Terry, a beloved shelter-dog, Skygge, and Poncho, an opinionated feline from the same shelter.

Also an avid reader of suspense, some of her favorite authors are Tana French, Lisa Gardner, Jeffrey Deaver, Jonathan Kellerman, James Patterson, Tess Gerritson, and Tami Hoag.

When not reading or writing, Marla enjoys playing duplicate bridge, golfing, and going on long walks with her dog.

You can catch her on her website www.marlamadison.blogspot.com and Twitter.

Repost: An Example of a Smart Book Promotion

This post on the CreateSpace Community is very helpful for independent authors looking for a smarter way to promote.

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My friend Cathy Livingstone wrote a clever (and useful) book called Bubbe, Mimi & Gigi: The Best Grandmother Name Book Ever. The guide recently received a glowing review ingrandparents section of About.com, which described it as “a perfect gift for a grandmother-to-be and an especially cool way to let a mom know that she’s about to become a grandmom.”

 

Wow! That’s about as good as it gets. The grandparents section called it a perfect gift? Talk about target marketing!

 

Cathy published the book on her own, so how did this wonderful review come to be?

 

It happened because Cathy made it happen. I love that!

 

Here’s what she did:

 

1) She searched online for a book reviewer in her genre
2) She sent the reviewer a personalized email query
3) The reviewer replied and said she would consider it
4) Cathy sent the reviewer a book
5) The reviewer wrote a review

 

See how effective marketing can be if you’re smart (and organized) about it? When efforts to promote a book go nowhere, it’s often because the author isn’t reaching out to the right audience with the right message. By searching for reviewers in her genre, Cathy was able to connect with a woman who was interested in hearing what she had to say. That’s half the battle right there.

 

Another reason book promotion efforts go nowhere is because the author isn’t assertive enough. Cathy sent the reviewer a book without knowing whether or not it would result in a review. Another smart move.

 

Cathy was smart about her book promotion, and look at the result. You can do it too!

 

-Maria

Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It’s a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, Chocolate for Two, Cassidy Lane, and Katwalk. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more atwww.mariamurnane.com.

Olive Garden’s Principato Wines Among the Best of the House Wines

May 11th, 2012

 

The Olive Garden is one of the best known chain restaurants for Italian food. Certainly the television advertisements make the food look spectacular. Indeed, I have always found the food at Olive Garden quite good.

One of the best items on the Olive Garden menu is not a food item at all-but their house wines, Principato. Offered as bianco (white), rosato (blush), and rosso (red), Principato wines are perhaps the best reason to dine at Olive Garden. Principato are offered at the reasonable prices of $5.75 for a 6 oz glass, $8.25 for a 9 oz quartino (served in a sake carafe), and $28.00 for an entire bottle .

By the ounce, a $28 bottle costs $1.10407 per ounce. By the 6 oz glass, you pay $0.958333 per ounce. But the best value is the quartino which costs just $0.91666 per ounce.

But saving money is not the best reason for you to order Principato when you dine at the Olive Garden. These are genuinely very high quality wines-which the servers allow you to sample before you commit to ordering. That service is above and beyond anything I have seen at any other restaurant. Principato wines are also milder than a lot of their counterparts, making them palatable to people who generally do not drink wine. The red lacks the overwhelming tannins I find with most cabernet sauvignon and merlot wines; it’s lighter and a little sweeter without going all the way to a semi-sweet. The white is also milder than your typical sauvignon blanc or chardonnay which I find can be a little overbearing at times, making the bianco very palatable. But it is the rosato, the blush that is the best of all of these. Light, fruity, and a little sweeter than your typical white wine, it is a wine for both those who are connoisseurs and those who typically do not like to drink wine. It is the perfect complement to pasta and seafood in particular, bringing out the delicate sauces and cheese better than any other wine I’ve consumed with either pasta or seafood.

Principato is not only a good value-it’s a truly great wine, worth dining at the Olive Garden for.

Merida’s “Brave” New World

Originally posted June 26th, 2012, I wrote this review of the movie “Brave” after watching it opening weekend.  In the first two weeks of the film’s release, it received an outstanding 5000 hits on Yahoo Voices.

 

Merida’s “Brave” New World

Princess Merida and Queen Elinor have a problem: when they speak to one another, neither is truly listening. To Merida, her mother seems like all rules and discipline. To Elinor, her daughter Merida seems reckless and rebellious. Merida doesn’t seem to process that she is a princess and heiress-apparent who must someday rule with wisdom and grace and would rather ride her horse, explore her beautiful kingdom, and practice her archery.

In other words, Elinor and Merida are just like most young women and their mothers, each feeling she is right and neither wanting to walk in the other’s shoes. Merida is so convinced her mother won’t listen to her that she seeks to change, anyway she can, what she feels is an inevitable imposed life of misery scripted by her mother. Along the way, mistakes are made and mended to the transformation of both.

If none of this sounds to you like your typical Disney princess movie, you are absolutely correct!“Brave” is, indeed, a brave new world for Disney-Pixar. Traditional Disney princesses are pursuing romantic love; finding a husband and having a wedding have been the focus of countless Disney-animated films. But “Brave” is different. In “Brave” our heroine feels she is much too young for marriage and fights to preserve her maidenhood, to stay young and feel for as long as possible, shirking adult responsibilities instead of throwing herself into them headlong. Merida is strong, independent, and a bit unruly; a strong departure from Cinderella, Princess Aurora, and other beloved Disney heroines.

Another feature to “Brave” is its beautiful rendition of medieval Scotland. Here the art is resplendent, full of Celtic knot-work and stone carvings. Celtic stone circles feature prominently in the film. In “Brave” they are holy ground, sanctuary against dark forces with our heroines often retreating to them. Without any particular references to religion in any direction, “Brave” uses the stone circle as a sort of symbol of Celtic culture, powerfully connecting the clans to both past and future. The climactic battle at the end of the film happens inside the great stone circle seen across the film with good prevailing against the apparent odds inside its borders.

In “Brave” Disney-Pixar create a new kind of heroine, strongly Celtic and true to ancient Celtic culture, yet feeling equally modern and timeless. Every girl and woman can relate to Queen Elinor and Princess Merida. Boys and men will love its constant action. It even addresses that age-old question of “what do men wear under their kilts” both tastefully and comically. Humor can also be found in King Fergus and Merida’s triplet brothers, all of whom will have audiences of all ages rolling in the aisles!

I have been a fan of Disney animation for most of my life. Yet I will come out and say that of all the Disney films I’ve seen, THIS ONE is the film I cherish most. Without relying on musical numbers, it speaks to the heart and soul of everyone and reminds us that no matter how difficult communicating with our mothers or daughters may be, in the end, the quest is worth it!