Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Stone Diaries Book Review

The Stone Diaries The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I stayed up all night to finish this book and I can't say that I've done this successfully with many books. The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields is well-written, compelling and very sad. In a nutshell, this is a fictional autobiography of one woman's life from birth to death and it is told through witnesses and the subject herself.

I was frustrated that Daisy Stone Goodwill Hoad Flett didn't clearly express herself, that she didn't have a passionate sex life and that didn't like to take too many risks. Daisy didn't know how like so mnay women of her generation (born in the early 1900s -- the same age as my grandmother). She also didn't question her circumstances, although to be fair she did take charge of her life once, which led to her marriage to Barker (who helped raise her). Besides her 9-year run as a freelance gardening writer, her life wasn't very fulfilling. She did have two wonderful female friendships and she was close to her grand-niece at the end, but I never quite felt connected to Daisy as I did to Aunt Clarentine, the neighbor who raised her after her mother died in childbirth and the mother of her future husband, Barker. Unfortunately, Daisy is stuck in her role for society as a wife and mother. She never breaks out of this pattern and I wonder if she ever really wanted to. She has a habit of subsuming herself and pretending she is not as smart as she is, which bothered me. As a result, her family and friends never gave her the credit and respect she deserved and they blamed her birth story for her depression and unhappiness. This book asks, was Daisy a good mother? What was missing from her life? What did she really feel? I think she did the best she could we what she had and she never knew what was missing in her life until after she died and then had access to all of this other information that's in the book. And finally, this book doesn't address her feelings, which she never felt she had the permission to express to anyone.

Shields is a master wordsmith and craftsman. She even adds a fantastic family tree in the book, as well as real photographs (some from her own family). I loved how well she managed the point of view shifts when lesser writers would have bungled it and all of her dialogue was real and even ironic/funny in some instances. I loved how she let her reader read between the lines and how poetic and symbolic she was. This book lends itself so well to book club discussions and my group could clearly say that The Stone Diaries was one of the best books we discussed in the year that we've been meeting.

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Facebook Etiquette

Most of us are on Facebook (FB) these days and I bet there’s a good chance we weren’t even using it last year. A friend invited you and now you’re engrossed. Or maybe you’re on FB, but you’re not sure if you’re using it right. Somehow I amassed 350 friends and I’m still learning as I go.
We’ve entered this huge technological sphere and no one has told us the proper rules of the road because everything moves so fast in cyberspace. It still is the Wild West out there! Most of us are going to make social media mistakes, but wouldn’t it be better if had more information and knew about what not to do?
In the interest of community service, I’ve developed…
Eight Facebook Netiquette Rules of the Road
1. Do fill out your profile to the best of your ability. Many women list their maiden name as their middle name so their school friends can find them. Under “Favorite Books” and “Favorite Movies,” go ahead and list what you like. Don’t just say you like everything. And do post a good picture that shows your face and is an actual picture of you. Try not to use a picture with you and your significant since this is YOUR Facebook page and don’t substitute a photo of your cat or dog for yourself. Folks will wonder what you’re hiding.
2. Once you have a few friends, see what they’re posting and how they are using Facebook. Ask yourself if you want to use FB as a social or a business tool or both. Listen! Observe! See what status updates make you want to read more and see what you don’t like (i.e. goofy applications running wild all over your page).
3. Now jump in and comment on other friends’ posts. Comment on their photos. Post photos of your own. Don’t be ghost; stay involved and you’ll get more out FB. Be sure to read your Inbox and respond to your messages. People hate it when they send you a FB message and there’s no response.
4. Don’t write how sick your children are on your friends’ walls because EVERYONE gets your wall post*.Save that for a private message. Walls are for quick comments, not for telling everyone where you’re going to grab that drink after work. *There’s a tool to hide your friends’ posts. I find this particular useful for friends who like to post political invectives.
5. Once you get the hang of FB, see what you can do to be an information broker. Suggest friends for other friends. Don’t know what to post in your status update? Send a useful link, a video, give a tip, tell your friends what you’re reading, what you’re watching, where you’re drinking your coffee, etc. I post where I’m speaking or presenting workshops and usually I get a lot of cool feedback. I also post a lot of photo albums. I add captions as well as tag my friends. I try not to post unflattering pics but if a friend doesn’t like a particular shot, I delete it since I’m praying they’d do the same for me.
6. If you have a side business or a main business that requires a lot of outside sales, DON’T push market, OK? That’s not adding value or helping people. It’s fine that you list your website on your Info page, but don’t solicit.
7. Don’t put anything out there you may regret. That includes bad taste jokes (my hubby has veered in this direction, oops!), curse words, sexually motivated posts…you get the idea. I’ve seen some status updates that have been downright rude…what’s up with that?
8. That being said, you don’t have to connect with everyone who wants to be your friend. If you know a particular person is prone to doing crazy things, you don’t want to be tarred with the same brush. I hate that this is how the world works, but it’s true.
And there you have it. I wish you the best in your Facebook adventures and feel free to friend me!
Social Media Sites I Recommend – social bookmarking web service
Facebook – great tool to combine friends and business
Flickr – for posting your photos
FriendFeed – great for linking social media sites
LinkedIn – very business-oriented site
SlideShare – presentation sharing website
StumbleUpon – rates and discovers websites, videos and photos
Twitter– much more current than Facebook
Inside 919 – Great for local businesses in the 919 area code. Very active group that encourages face-to-face meetings, too
Technorati (“claim” your blog at minimum)
YouTube (along with other video distribution platforms: Vimeo, Viddler, Revver, Yahoo video, etc.)
DocStoc – find free legal and business documents
Scribd – embed documents into a web page

For Free and For Fun by Christopher Morrissette

For Free and For Fun: How To Ask For the Appointment and Get It For Free and For Fun: How To Ask For the Appointment and Get It by Christopher Morrissette

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Chris Morrissette's For Free and For Fun: How to Ask for the Appointment and Get It articulates how to stand apart from your competititors and how to thrive in any economy, tough or not. Chris successfully breaks down what everyone should do in business: help other people and provide value. He provides useful scripts for when you're making that cold call to get that necessary appointment, while keeping an upbeat and humorous tone. I also loved the fact that Chris added specifics on how to manage your time with social media and technology.And throughout the book, Chris includes pages from his workbook, so you can jot ideas and notes and retool your "Helping" script. Chris the author is just like Chris the person and I can attest that Chris is just as smart and goofy as he portrays himself in his book! I carry this book in my purse so I can recommend it everyone I come into contact with.

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