Monday, May 14, 2012

Feedback: How To Give It, How To Get It Book Tour

Feedback: How To Give It, How To Get It 
by Jo Sparkes 

Blurb: Feedback … a kinder word for criticism, is an organic component to life.

When a toddler learns to walk, he falls. He screams, cries – and persists. What would happen to the human race if he gave up after a few bumps?

Before we could read self-help books, before we could understand a language and sit in a classroom, we learned by trial and error. “Feedback” is the natural teaching process. It’s how the creator set it up. It’s how the world actually works.

Here, at last, is a simple process for getting the most from all the feedback the world offers us.

An excerpt: 

For some reason it's easy to cling to criticism. To walk through the world telling yourself, “I can't act my way out of a paper bag,” or “my work is sloppy no matter what I do.” 

If you think about it, you probably can recall criticism you heard as a child. When I was eight-years-old, I overheard my father tell my mother I was lazy. To this day, if I'm not getting everything done as fast as I wish, if things are piling up on my desk, I can hear him saying, “she's lazy!” 

Clinging to criticism, to all the negative comments or snide remarks we've heard over the years, creates a very heavy burden. If you walk through the world so weighted down, you will inevitably slow and finally stop altogether from the sheer pressure. 

All you can humanly do is what we just did. Take in the information, analyze it, and decide what to do. There is nothing more to be done. 

It – the criticism – has served you. Now send it on its merry way. 

Guest Post: 
Why did you decide on writing about feedback and what would you like readers to come away with after reading? 

When I first got up the courage to live my dream – and write – I found my biggest stumbling block was feedback.

For someone who grew up desperately anxious to please, criticism was hard. I thought it meant I'd made a mistake, and that was a terrible thing to do. I wound up avoiding it, by doing everything I could to make everyone happy.

In writing, however, avoiding it wasn't possible. If I wanted to get paid, I not only had to listen to it, but actually delve into the criticism and figure out what to do. With a client, you can make all the changes exactly as they asked, and they still won't like it.

The same is true for a commercial director. Sometimes a gut instinct tells them something needs to change – but they aren't quite clear exactly what. So nodding my head and saying, 'yes sir' wasn't enough. It was time to face the issue and the criticizer. Time to find the root of the problem – and pull it free.

Gradually a process emerged that worked.

Oddly enough, that process meant less changes than I thought – and more writing jobs.

It also changed ME. I no longer had to 'sit and take it' when life gave me feedback. I quit nodding my head and accepting any feedback as gospel. I asked questions, explored possibilities.

I took my power back.

This book is just a process for taking control of all the feedback in your life. In writing and other things.

What would I like readers to come with after reading? An “Ah hah!”

For those like me who have let self doubts creep in, shied away from criticism, and who deep down worry about being good enough – I would like them to know they ARE very good indeed. To see any mistake, any error as just a natural part of life's process. No one can truly learn and grow without being willing to chance a mistake.

All of history's greats have made tremendous mistakes. The important thing – the thing that defines us as good people – is what do we do afterward.

Thanks so much for having me today. I've really enjoyed it.

About the author: A well-known Century City Producer once said that Jo Sparkes "writes some of the best dialogue I’ve read." Not only are those words a compliment to Jo’s skills as a writer,but a true reflection of her commitment to her work.

She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Washington College, a small liberal arts college famous for its creative writing program. Years later, Jo renounced life in the corporate world to pursue her passion for writing.

Taking every class she could find, she had the good fortune to study with Robert Powell; a student of renowned writers and teachers Lew Hunter, and Richard Walter, head and heart of UCLA’s Screenwriting Program.

The culmination of those years was the short-film "The Image", which she wrote and produced single-handedly. And in so doing, she became fascinated with the dynamics of collaboration on a project.

Since then, Jo hasn’t looked back. Her body of work includes scripts for Children’s live-action and animated television programs, a direct to video Children’s DVD, television commercials and corporate videos. She's been a feature writer on and a contributing writer for the Arizona Sports Fans Network; where she was called their most popular writer, known for her humorous articles, player interviews and game coverage. Jo was unofficially the first to interview Emmitt Smith when he arrived in Arizona to play for the Cardinals.

She has adjunct taught at the Film School at Scottsdale Community College, has teamed with a Producer on a low budget thriller, and a Director on a New Dramady.” She went in front of the camera for a video, “Stepping Above Criticism”, capturing a popular talk with her students.

Her new book, FEEDBACK HOW TO GIVE IT HOW TO GET IT, shares her lessons learned with writers, and indeed everyone dealing with life's criticism.

When not diligently perfecting her craft, Jo can be found exploring her new home of Portland, Oregon, along with her husband Ian, and their dog Oscar.

Links: Book website | Author website

“In her compact, wisdom-charged Feedback Jo Sparkes provides sharp, sharp, cogent, advice not only for writers but for all people who value creativity and seek to lead fulfilled, creative lives.

“This slender volume provides more bang for the buck than far longer, weightier tomes. It is a splendid resource to which writers will refer repeatedly.”
- Richard Walter Chairman of Screenwriting, U.C.L.A.

“The lessons contained in “Feedback” are not for the writer who is merely looking for a compliment, but rather for those who are striving for accomplishment.”
- Barton Green Author, Screenwriter and long-time friend

Jo Sparks simplifies the feedback process in this concise easy to implement guide to giving and receiving feedback. As an actress, I believe everyone can benefit from her experience, not just those in the industry.
- Tonetta Weaver, Actress

Jo will be giving away a $50 gift certificate to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. The tour dates can be found here.


  1. I think that's the thing. It's what you do with the feedback.


  2. I like the statement, taking the power back. It is so true and so difficult at first. I saw myself as a child when you were talking about the comment your father said about you. I heard something similar, and I am still aware of it today.

  3. Your comment is so important...One must take control of the feedback. When I received feedback, I try to control my reaction. I tell myself, "This is NOT personal." Somehow, that makes me feel better.

  4. It is so much easier to remember critical words -- I don't remember many compliments I've received, but I do remember the first time I ever felt fat: when my drama teacher saw me eating a candy bar and remarked, "You're not going to eat too many of those, right?"

    Honestly, I don't think I've ever felt slim since then, and that was more than 30 years ago...

    Thanks for for the post! mystiholiday AT gmail DOT com

  5. Thanks for the great interview and review. Gale