Can you handle the truth? with MJ LaBeff

MJ Labeff on Honesty.

Tell me the truth and be honest.

How many times have you had someone ask you this? I’m not sure if guys ask that question, but I hear it often from my gal pals. Usually, it’s while we’re on a shopping spree and trying on clothes. Let me just say, I’ve never met a pair of shoes that make my anything look fat. Shoe-a- holic. I’ll admit it. Anyway, I’ve got friends that will hit me straight between the eyes with truth, and I’ve got others who are nice. 

Who decided truth is negative? 


Truth isn’t always pretty, but truth helps us grow. Now, I don’t have children. So after reading Gordon’s part one of this discussion on honesty where he shares a couple of stories involving kids, I wondered if I could speak truthfully to a child about his/her shortcomings. Yikes, I just winced. I’m treading lightly here and certainly don’t want to speak out of turn. Kids have big dreams. Would I want to shatter their hopes of becoming whatever it is their hearts desire? Of course, not, I believe people can achieve anything if they put their minds to it.

Isn’t this where a parent tells Suzie or Johnny about the hard work, dedication and study involved to be a (blank)?

Eventually, when Suzie or Johnny starts to realize this isn’t working out like they thought doesn’t a parent step in and suggest something else? “Hey, Suzie or Johnny you’re really good at (blank). Let’s give that a try.” Yeah, yeah, I know parents are rolling their eyes, thinking it isn’t that simple lady without kids!

My point is: truth with kids is gentle and kind so why can’t we continue to be purveyors of truth into adulthood? When and why do we start to shape our thoughts, words and actions into dishonesty?

Is there a polite way to convey truth?

When I first started writing and finally got brave enough to share my first book, I reached out to bestselling romance author Vicki Lewis Thompson. We had recently become acquainted, and she had been very generous and kind when I had expressed my desire to write a book. She gave me a hard look and said, 

“Then just write.” 

Not one to back down from a challenge, I thought okay. I will, and I did. Anyway, I emailed her and asked for her opinion. She provided honest feedback on my work. “You write beautifully,” she had commented and from there pointed out the positives and gave a gentle critique from her experience working with many different editors.

Those comments helped shape my story. So there’s a way to provide truth without hurting a person. She made me feel like I had a chance- that my writing had potential and that I could learn the craft of writing fiction. I believed in me because of her. Since then I’ve written seven other novels.



Dad, stop letting me win. 


My sister and I loved playing board games. Growing up in Ohio, it was one of our fave winter pastimes. My dad had this thing about never challenging us during a game. He’d make silly mistakes, pretend not to know an answer, and forget playing Scrabble with the man… it, the, dog. “Daaaaad, spell bigger words!” We caught on to dad’s nonsense, and I especially took offense. “Don’t you think I can win?” He’d laugh. We quit asking dad to play games with us. My mom played tough. Sometimes my sister or I would beat her, but we never minded when she won a game against us. “Let one of them win,” dad would say. “Daaaaaad, go! Get out of here. We’re playing games with mom.”

By the way, that first book I wrote…

                                       “It really didn’t grab me,” my mom said.


I appreciate honesty. No matter what I’m doing. Whether it’s looking for feedback on a work-in- progress or asking for a book review or working on a fundraiser or trying a new workout or latest fashion, hairstyle or makeup trend, honesty might not be easy, but I asked for it so give it to me straight.

Can you handle the truth?




MJ's first book in the series Last Cold Case should be launching soon with Muse It Up Publishing. Stay tuned for details. 

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