Hello, friends. I have a date! The publishing date for Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs is September 16, 2013. After that date, you can find, or ask for, this title at your favourite local bookshop. It is possible to pre-order the book now. It is still early days in the production process, so I don’t yet have a cover to share. Keep checking in, though, because I expect to have a cover design in the next few weeks.
In the meantime, I’ll be planning some publicity events. Young Kingston has a upcoming event in Picton, Ontario at Books & Company. This gorgeous and spacious bookstore, in the heart of Prince Edward County, is a favourite spot for locals, book lovers, and tourists. There, on June 15 at 2:00, I’ll be talking about Dazzling Women Designers, also in The Women’s Hall of Fame Series. Young Kingston members will be there from 1:00 until 3:30 p.m. talking about one or two of their books. The full line-up includes Mary Alice Downie, Ann-Maureen Owens, Y.S. Lee, and Christine Fader. The diversity of our group means we can target children and youths from ages 5 to 15+.
If you are a teacher and your school is within driving distance, please contact me about book talks. I have space available this spring for book talks and also in the fall. Please enquire if you would like a customized book talk, or if you have any questions about presentations. Some information is available here on my website, and also on my webpage of The Writers’ Union of Canada at this link.
F.Y.I.: My website was acting up this month and was becoming rather sluggish. This seems to be due to the large number of images. I may have to scale back on the number of images I use in future blogs, which is unfortunate. I will keep experimenting, however, and will try to find a way to retain the photo format. As a quick fix, I’ve de-activated the blog scroller at the bottom of the home page. If you experience any problems viewing my website, please let me know. I am hopeful now that this problem is behind me!
Until next time!Read More »
Work-life balance. Have you got it? Do you want it? Adrienne Montgomerie, an accomplished editor and member of Dameditors, posted a comment about what she calls “work-work-life balance.” She made a point of stating that this was not a typo. I felt compelled to weigh in. After all, three of the ten women profiled in Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs refute the work-life balance paradigm. During my phone interview with the dynamic and highly successful Sue Chen, CEO of Nova Medical Products in California, Sue admitted that at one point she searched online at Amazon.com for books about work-life balance. Sue was amazed at the results that she said numbered in the high thousands. (I tried and came up with 13,755 books.) Sue explained this hefty number saying, “No one’s figured out you just can’t do it!” So, is work-life balance an unachievable — indeed impossible — ideal? In Sue’s case, her response is, “just throw that out the window! Don’t try to achieve this work-life balance.” Instead, Sue Chen happily immerses herself in a chaotic stream of day-to-day duties. Life is always busy, her office is often messy, but tasks get completed and business is thriving. Somehow, amidst the chaos that she willingly embraces, Sue always looks glamorous and pulled together. She even squeezes in regular pedicures and lunch dates with friends. In fact, when I spoke with her she was looking forward to lunch with O.P.I.’s Suzi Weiss-Fischmann. Hmmm, a lunch date with a friend? Regular pedicures? I think I detect some luscious “life” creeping into her work-centred existence. That’s a good thing, of course.
Award-winning businessperson Kelsey Ramsden (CEO of Belvedere Place Development and founder of SparkPlay) acknowledges and appreciates the personal sacrifices working parents often make. About the notion that some successful women — namely entrepreneurial mothers — have it all, Kelsey says “that doesn’t exist! It’s a pipe dream.” Like Sue Chen, Kelsey says she’s “satisfied and happy with both parts of her life, but they’re never balanced. In any given moment, one requires more attention than the other.” OK, that makes sense to me.
In a video for the Makers series (produced by PBS and AOL), Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook is famously quoted saying: “So there’s no such thing as work-life balance. There’s work, and there’s life, and there’s no balance.” I love that. Sheryl has a knack for delivering wonderfully pithy, high-impact comments. It’s no wonder her words resonate with many women. Indeed, we all look to leaders, high-profile executives, and daring entrepreneurs — our role models — for guidance on how to make it all work. We want to have our cake and eat it too, but something’s gotta give.
I don’t work 60-hour weeks, but, even so, I find life gets awfully busy. I thrive off the state of being busy, however, and try to carve out personal and family time. When the going gets tough, I listen to music and take lots of hot baths. My house gets messy, papers pile up, and laundry begs to be sorted; but three times a week — rain or shine, tired or energetic, in the face of a looming deadline or not — I walk to the pool for a swim workout. I swear that the lure of the water, and this well-established routine, helps keep me sane and makes me more productive. Sometimes I focus on my stroke; other times, however, I let my mind wander and “write” in my head. How could I better express that paragraph I was wrestling with today? What am I really trying to say? How can I best connect with my readers on this issue? It’s so satisfying to have those “aha” moments in the pool, while out walking, or during life-enforced “breaks.” I understand the value of breaks. They refresh and invigorate. They restore.
It often feels like every day is a push-pull between work and life. Most days, it feels like work is winning and Adrienne Montgomerie’s “work-work-life balance” rings true. If you are passionate about your work then this isn’t so terrible. Exercise some patience. Then, on another day, in another moment, a lovely shift takes place. “Life” is the focus in all its splendour, its ups and downs, its strong emotions, its heightened “moments of being.” At that point, work slides silently into the background and life pushes to the fore. Life-LIFE balance takes over. “Live in the moment.” “Seize the day.” (Carpe diem.) We all need to eke out some peace in our busy lives. Out of those peaceful moments come great ideas.
______________________________________Read More »
Mmmmm. This is a celebratory apple pie that I baked. That’s A – P – P – L – E. My (almost) six-year-old helper put the letters on top. Thank you, Noah!
First, I’m very sorry for the delay in blogging. I’ve had too much going on. Ai-ya, where do I begin?
I submitted my latest book manuscript to the publisher in February — ten days early! It was an amazingly intense, but infinitely gratifying, researching and writing process. I was feeling pretty darn pleased with the final draft. I was even more pleased as I began to receive bits of very positive feedback from the publishing house.
I have a title. My book, which profiles ten female entrepreneurs, from different countries, different times, and working in different fields, will be called Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs. The series’ name is The Women’s Hall of Fame series, and the publisher is Second Story Press in Toronto, Canada. It was challenging to find a title that worked with the press’s established alliterative pattern of Adjective + Female/Women + Descriptor [field]. The obvious choices of “Extraordinary” and “Exceptional” had already been used for previous books in the same series. Though I scoured the dictionary and flipped through the entire “E” section of my humongous Random House Dictionary of the English Language, I couldn’t find many words that had quite the right meaning. We mulled over “Excellent,” “Eminent,” “Enlightened,” and “Exemplary,” but, in the end, credit goes to the publisher herself for crafting the title as it now stands. I like it. I think it has a good balance. I admire the way “Phenomenal” and “Entrepreneurs” are equally long, look good on the page (which I think is really important), and have some heft to them. The managing editor said she likes the ring of the title. It’s true. It does have a ring to it.
And then, it got even crazier . . .
No sooner had I submitted my manuscript — no, wait — before I had even submitted my manuscript, I received an email asking if I was available to work on an editorial project. I wasn’t quite available and had heaps of papers all over my desk as I fine-tuned the final draft of Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs. But like the intrepid freelancer I am (and most of us are), I gulped, said “yes,” and jumped in. That’s what I’ve been doing since mid-February. The hours have been crazy, the work stimulating and interesting with a great balance of research, thinking, and writing. But best of all, I have to say, is to get a contract like this after taking 15 weeks off to write a book. Yes, day jobs are worth their weight in gold. I love writing books, but editorial work helps make it affordable to do so, and, thank goodness, I really enjoy the editorial work, too.
Drop me a line if there’s something you’d like me to write about on this blog. Apparently a lot of people are reading it lately and I thank you for visiting. I appreciate your feedback and thank you for your interest in my books!Read More »
One morning last week, I felt compelled to look for an necklace from my childhood that I still have. It’s a piece of Aboriginal jewellery–a yellow, red, and blue beaded necklace. I found it and put it on. I wore it all day and thought about Idle No More, First Nations communities, and Nicole Robertson. This evening I heard on CBC Radio that Chief Theresa Spence will end her hunger strike, and has signed a 13-point declaration. See this breaking news story here.
In November and December, I had the honour and privilege of interviewing Nicole Robertson for my upcoming book about women entrepreneurs. Like the other books in the Women’s Hall of Fame series by Second Story Press — two others of which I’ve written — this new title will feature profiles of ten women who are excellent role models for children, especially girls. The series targets children ages 9 to 13.) Nicole is a Media Specialist and President of Muskwa Productions & Consulting in Calgary, Alberta. She’s a Rocky Cree from Sandy Bay in north-eastern Saskatchewan, but she now resides at the Tsuu T’Ina [soot-tenna] Nation, just outside Calgary.
Nicole is devoted to spreading good news stories about Aboriginal peoples. She is well connected with the media and this puts her in a great position to notify mainstream media about positive and inspiring stories about indigenous people. She also makes videos that educate non-Aboriginals about First Nations culture. I just love this whole idea of being a messenger of good news stories for the media. What a welcome change!
In the last six weeks, the Idle No More movement and Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike have brought Aboriginal issues into the spotlight. Concerns about poverty and the destruction of the environment are central in the movement. When I visited the remote Inuit community of Nain, Labrador, two years ago, I felt like I was in a far-away foreign country. The living conditions were closer to developing countries than they were to what I previously associated with Canadian communities. There was tremendous beauty in the land and most Aboriginal people feel this connection strongly. It’s part of their culture and something they revere.
What’s clear to me is that something HAS to change. It is not right that a disproportionate number of Aboriginal people live in poverty. How can we turn our backs to this and pretend it’s not our problem?
I think non-Aboriginals have much to learn from indigenous people. Consider the value in inviting a full-of-attitude tween to sit quietly with an elder in the community, listening to stories that the elder chooses to share, or meditating silently. This deep respect for elders is lacking in non-Aboriginal culture, and we are missing out! Our elders possess great wisdom, gained from years of living and experiencing life. Young people can learn a lot from the elders in our society, and yes, we can learn a lot from young people, too.
Let’s stop the racism and embrace the positive changes that are underway, at last.
You can read more about Nicole Robertson and other fantastic women in my fall 2013 book, Enterprising Women Entrepreneurs (working title).
Read More »
My apologies for the lag in blog postings. I’ve been researching and writing my next book–yay!–which will be released by Second Story Press in early fall 2013. I feel so good being in writing mode, but there is this deadline looming over my head, adding some time pressure to my life.
I may be a bit lackadaisical about blogging over the next few months. Multi-tasking while writing a book is not my forte. It’s one of those all-consuming projects that demands full attention and makes for lots of late nights. Currently, my home office is filled with stacks of library books from two different libraries–the public library and the university library.
Tomorrow, however, I’m taking a day off to attend The Writers’ Union of Canada workshop “How to Be Your Own Publicist” by Ann Douglas, Elizabeth Ruth, and Kelly Duffin. It will be so valuable to learn about social networking and blogging and all that through these talented and accomplished women. I’m especially looking forward to seeing Ann Douglas who I first met when I was a children’s book editor working in-house in Toronto. Ann is the creator of the blog Having-a-baby.com and is well-known for The Mother of All Books series. I’ll have to report back as to which local writers attend the workshop.
I have some homework to prepare for the workshop, which I haven’t even looked at yet. For now, it’s back to my research!
Cheerio!Read More »
Great news! You’ll never guess what I discovered in my email in-box last Friday (Jan. 27)! Dazzling Women Designers (Second Story Press, 2010) is on the Amelia Bloomer List 2012. This news totally made my day!
A little research unearthed more details about what this list is all about. I feel truly honoured. The Amelia Bloomer Project, which is part of the American Library Association’s (ALA’s) Social Responsibility Roundtable Feminist Task Force, annually selects the best feminist books for children and teens, published within the last 18 months. Librarians from public and university libraries across the U.S. make up the ten committee members who read many, many books and make the final selections. You can view the complete list of titles here. The Amelia Bloomer Project has a blog, too.
Here is the Amelia Bloomer entry for my book:
Bryant, Jill. Dazzling Women Designers. 2010. Second Story Press, $10.95 (978-1-897187-82-1). Gr.5-up.
In a field traditionally dominated by men, these women designers have pioneered techniques and pursued artistic visions in many areas including: urban planning, interior design, automotive design, landscape architecture, and robotics.
A member of the committee sent this email to Emma Rogers, the marketing genius at Second Story Press.
–Maureen McCoy, Co-chair