Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Brené Brown's Newest Book

Brené Brown's newest book, Rising Strong, went on sale yesterday. If you aren't familiar with Brown's work, she studies and writes about vulnerability, courage and feelings of worth.

I've not read Brown's previous books (yet). So I can tell you that this book stands on its own. In the introduction, Brené tells us the crux of this book is: "Fall. Get up. Try Again."

The book is very readable and I had several "aha" moments. Before the introduction, there is a "Note on Research and storytelling as methodology".  In this book, Brené shares her own personal stories. Her writing is intimate, like a friend telling you what's on their mind over coffee. She is comfortable enough with us, her friend, to share her own work to reconcile conflicting (or just plain painful) emotions. She is brave enough to tell us about some of her unflattering moments. --Yes, she is real. She knows what it's like to react emotionally. She writes from a position of "I know...this isn't easy. In fact, it's hard and icky." And then she shares how she felt when she had similar experiences.

I really appreciated her honest style. I found it comforting.

Brown uses storytelling as a tool for understanding and healing. By this I mean she gives us the tools to use storytelling for our own discoveries.  I like the idea that I am an active participant in my story. I have some control of the outcome eliminating the tendency towards feelings of victimization.  There is no "why me?"
When we deny the story, it defines us.
When we own the story, we can write a brave new ending. ~Brené Brown
The book is one that I will re-read. It is one that helped me understand a few of my own stories that I wanted to learn from. But, just as importantly, it helped me explore ways to see things from someone else's perspective. We are wired to connect to one another. Yet connections are tenuous.  This book helps to see how disconnects can happen.

I'd love to hear if you've read Brené's books or seen her Ted Talks.

Until next time!

I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Call Me a Duck...I Don't Mind

I found this site that you can create photo collages, etc. that I used to create the one below. The picture is a stock photo and I added the chirpy snippet. The truth is...that most of the time, I don't like chirpy. Don't get me wrong, I like happy. I like funny and I like joyful. But chirpy? Not so much.
I really have to keep this side of me in check. If I were to roll my eyes at cheesy platitudes, I would definitely end up offending someone who finds them inspiring.

You know all those "You can be successful" books. Yeah, I'm not a fan. And the posters? Please.

But what I find very true are the things from Despair, Inc.  {Note: This is not a sponsored post. But I will be sending a tweet out to the company to see if my praises deserve, I don't know...a Not a Pat on the Back.}

If you've ever worked in an office where the culture is just a little too cultish, you probably get what I love about the poster above.

I'm lucky that I love what I do and enjoy who I work for. I've worked for two companies in the past that I also really liked...but their staff meetings did sound a lot like "Go out there and win one for the Gipper!" A little much, right?

Let's remember my personality is INFJ. I know I can't be alone when my thoughts are "Please let me go back to work now."

I've recently read a've probably heard of it: Raving Fans. It was published in 1993 so I don't know how I missed it. The subtitle is The Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service.  Anyway, the book is still getting praises. Which, between you and me, I don't get.

First of all, it's told in allegory/parable form. I guess that was a thing in the '90s. I find that if you can tell a good story in a parable it would make an even better one page memo. But that's just me.

I have to be open to the fact that others may prefer the parable. So, okay, I get it.

But then I came across this: outrageous quote:
“Stop complaining! Differentiate yourself from your competition. Don’t be a duck. Be an eagle. Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd.”  {RAVING FANS}
That quote outrages me. Really, I'm not kidding.

And I am shocked that there are business blogs and books devoted to this idea:  Duck= Bad; Eagle = Good.

What bothers me is that a person can write a motivational book and use an analogy that is so utterly wrong!

Ducks quacking is NOT complaining. Ducks are communal. Quacking is communication. You know? Feedback. Ducks are exactly what an empathetic company should aspire to be. Communal and caring enough to communicate.

By comparison, eagles are solitary and though beautiful and majestic, are predators. They hunt and feed on other animals.

In a business analogy, an eagle thrives by #1 Identifying animals over which they have significant advantages (sight and speed). #2 Seeking out the weaker animals. #3 Killing the cute little bunnies.

Though, I gotta say, I don't think that's good PR or customer service.

So, if someone wants to call me a duck instead of an eagle, I say THANK YOU! And, do you want to join us? We're having so much fun.

Until next time,

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Meeting Jennifer Ammoscato

I’m delighted to be able to introduce you to Jennifer Ammoscato, the author of Dear Internet: It's Me, Avery. Before diving right into the interview, I have to tell you how much I love Avery. I knew for sure she was a kindred spirit when she said “Oh don’t judge me...” I really enjoyed her bold and brave adventures.

Jennifer was gracious enough to be interviewed here. As you'll see, Jennifer is just as fun as her book.

Q:  How did you come up with Avery as your character?

A:  Avery sprang from my loins—as Diana the huntress did from the all-powerful Zeus.

Um. Okay. That didn’t actually happen. What really happened was that one day I decided to finally write a novel (or at least the first chapter) I had in mind about a woman scorned. A woman pushed down but not out. Plucky but with enough of a love for cosmos and chocolate that we could all relate to her. And Avery was born.

Q:  Does Avery share any personality traits with you or someone you know?

A: Avery is the embodiment of many women I know who’ve gone through separation and/or divorce, spiced up with a healthy dollop of humor, sassiness, and an obsession with the Internet.

Q: I have to tell you that I was surprised by the twists in Avery’s love interests. Did you have a plan for Avery from the beginning?

A: I knew “who.” However, I wasn’t clever enough to devise “how.” Instead, I took the painful road no one should travel—writing as things occurred to me, staring off into space, wondering what trouble I could get Avery into next. Along the way, men flitted into and out of the picture. Hitchhikers, if you will. 

Q: Did anything surprise you about the story as you were writing it? Did any of the characters surprise you?

A: Not having a plan at all, I found myself constantly surprised. The trajectory of Avery’s career did not even occur to me when I began writing. I like writing off the top of my head. Of course, that makes the editing process excruciating, but it frees your imagination.

Q: How did you think of the physical comedy bits in your book? {For instance, the pool “accident”.}

A: I honestly could see the whole scene in my head. I could smell the chlorine. In another very unfortunate scene for the members involved, I could see the snow on the ground, the crowd of reporters, the house they staked out.

With those kinds of details in my mind, I just let the film roll. What would make me laugh? What would make my jaw drop? Things like that. And, I didn’t hold back.

Or, maybe I’m just a bit strange. 

Q: When did you know that your book was going to be published? How did you find that part of the process?

A: I began the book almost four years ago now. After picking it up and dropping it a few times, I promised myself I’d publish it this past May. In January, I heard from an author friend of mine who’d read an early version and wanted to show her publisher, Blue Moon Publishers in Toronto, Canada. From there, it just fell into place.

Q: Do you have a favorite author?

A: I have many. I love F. Scott Fitzgerald because his words are poetry. I love how well Emily Giffin gets to right inside a woman’s mind in her novels, like Something Borrowed and Heart of the Matter. I loved Bridget Jones and the Shopaholic series. And I laughed out loud reading Let’s Pretend this Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess.)

Q: What is one of your guilty pleasures?

A: Chocolate. Red wine. Chocolate. Cosmos. Chocolate.

Q: Pen, pencil, or keyboard?

A: Keyboard. Except sometimes red lip pencil when I have no pen and really need to leave myself a note. 

Q: How do you balance your writing with the rest of your busy life?

A: I look at it as my second job. I fit it in on weekends, early in the morning, at lunch. It’s more than just the writing. It’s the planning, the editing, the proofing, and the subsequent promotion. It takes a heck of a lot of effort to organize it all. Undoubtedly, I do it far better some days than others.

Q: Your blog says that dreams do not inspire your books. Tell me why you wanted to make that clear?

A: While it is true, I’m not sure why I wrote that.

It’s a good thing, though. My dreams are frequently terrifying. Someone’s chasing me. Someone’s trying to kill me. I have to survive a nuclear holocaust. Or, I can’t get my junk drawer organized (truly a frightening thought for someone like me, who has borderline OCD).

Q: Do you ever get embarrassed or shy when friends and family read your pieces?

A: I always love to hear if someone I know has enjoyed reading my book. It makes all the work and suffering worthwhile. However, I do find it difficult to simply blurt out to someone that I have a book out. It seems like bragging. Although I’m fairly certain my publisher would really appreciate me doing it. So, I have to force myself.

Q: What makes you laugh?

A: My Welsh Springer Spaniel puppy, Remy. And my husband. That’s why I married him.

Not Jennifer's Welsh Springer Spaniel Puppy, but cute just the same.
By Siri (Flickr) via Wikimedia Commons
I told you she was fun.  To see more of Jennifer, check out her blog:  Jennifer Ammoscato.