How’s The Book Coming?

A few updates about writing, work, and travel.

How much do I love sabbatical-land? Oh, let me count the ways!

I’m grateful for summer, which has been full of barbecues, road trips, family outings, movie nights, and plenty of that once-elusive elixir: sleep. From my relaxed coffees with M, to our goofy Dungeons and Dragons games with the guys, to afternoons spent with a book in my lap, the last few months have contained everything I could have asked for.

Whistler, BC. July 2017

It’s been an interesting year! While we traveled from January to April, I felt myself letting go of my old habits, and loosening up. Then from May until July, I had a long and lazy summer, tossing away my plans and my calendar, and letting the days blur into one another.

Now, as fall approaches, I feel ready to do things again, and I’m glad! Here are some assorted updates on what I’m up to:

The Business Plan that Fizzled

This story begins three years ago, the night Ambition left me.

Ambition slipped away while I was sleeping; it took me a long time to make peace with her departure. Up until that night, I had this fire-in-the-belly that made me passionate about goals and achievement and being successful. And without warning, all of that was gone. The solid ground beneath my feet had become a sheet of ice. I slipped into the darkness below, spluttering.

Ambition’s departure set me on a different path than the one I’d planned.

My Projects for October & November 2016

Autumn has arrived in force! This is my busiest time of year for consulting work, and my favorite season of the year. Here’s what I’m up to:

Writing (Current)

Nanowrimo – Like a crazy person, I’ve signed up for National Novel Writing Month with the goal of writing 50,000 words of fiction in November. Want to be my writing buddy? Sign up for NanoWrimo here and buddy up with me here.

DBT (Katherine Voyzey #3) – The first draft is 20% complete.

My Projects for September 2016

After my summer of travel, it’s time for me to come back to earth and get some work done. Here’s my current project list:

Writing (Current)

Orientation to Murder (Katherine Voyzey #2) – The book launched a bit over a month ago, and it’s been well received!  Sales are modest, and responses are positive. I’m a happy camper.

DBT (Katherine Voyzey #3) – The first draft is underway! My goal is to release this book in January, which sounds hella ambitious (my last book took 3 years) but I’m currently on track and having fun with the story.  The story is set in a wilderness lodge, and it’s a kind of homage to those Agatha Christie “dinner party mysteries” that I loved so much when I was a kid.  A cast of characters, a confined space, and a dead body. I love me some deadly group dynamics!

accusing

source: morbotron

Untitled Novel  – I’m working on a concept for a novel that has both mystery and science fiction elements. I’ve never written anything like this before, but I’m going to give it a go. This will also be my first book written in third person perspective. I’d give it a 50/50 shot of being publishable, but I won’t know until I try.

Reader Newsletter – I’m in the early stages of putting together a newsletter for fans of my books. If you sign up soon, (look to the upper right of the page under Reader Perks) you’ll get a free copy of Orientation to Murder, my most recent book.

Consulting (Current)

Leadership CoachingGetting Started. I’m coaching a few nonprofit leaders – good people that I’ve known for a while and admire.

Strategic PlanningGetting Started. My client is taking us all out for dinner on a boat to kick off annual planning season. How swanky! This will run through mid-December.

Instructional DesignGetting Started. I’m updating a training program I built four years ago, and making some e-learning videos to match.

Consulting (Pending)

Supervisor TrainingStarts in October. I’m looking forward to it!

Personal Projects & Fun

On the “fun and frolicking” side of things, I’m looking forward to some time with friends, including a Stranger Things marathon, a road-trip with some buddies from graduate school, and the start of autumn. Bring on the falling leaves!

And yes, I’m still working on my three new habits. So far, so good.

My Projects for June & July 2016

Following in the example of author Seanan McGuire, I like to keep ya’ll informed on the status of my projects. Especially my books, because I know I’ve got friends who are patiently waiting. So here’s the latest!

Monthly Project Update

Writing (Current)

Involuntary Turnover (Katherine Voyzey #1) – Expanded distribution for the win! My first novel is now available on Scribd, iBooks, Page Foundry, 24 Symbols, and Tolino. This is in addition to my three previous channels, which are Amazon, Kobo, and BN.com.

Orientation to Murder (Katherine Voyzey #2) – I’m working through the manuscript changes sent over by my eagle-eyed copyeditor. Apparently, I need to go to Costco and buy a bulk pack of commas! My goal is to wrap up those changes by next Wednesday, because I’m getting on a plane on Thursday. Next up is production, which includes formatting the ePub and Mobi files, finalizing the cover art, and ordering proofs.

Note: I’ll have some Advance Review Copies (ARCs) available soon for book reviewers. Let me know if you’d like one!

DBT (Katherine Voyzey #3) – No change. Outline is 75% complete.

Consulting (Current)

Can I brag? I want to call up the other consultants in the area and tell them that my clients are the best clients. Do they make a bumper sticker for that?

Leadership CoachingDone. My client S was a star – completing her program swiftly, and with great results.

Strategic PlanningDone. Plan is complete and approved by the board of directors.

Integration PlanningDone. The meeting went even better than I had hoped, and I am excited for both teams. It’s a good match!

Mentor ClassesDone. We laughed often! It was a delightfully quirky group, and they’ll be damn fine mentors.

Consulting (Pending)

My fall/winter consulting schedule is full, for reasons I’ll discuss in a future post.

spoilers-image

Travel & Fun

June was mostly work, not much play. P had a fun guys’ weekend in Oregon. I’ve been compulsively baking scones. We finally succumbed to getting an HBO Now account so we can watch Game of Thrones and it’s SO GOOD this season.

Scones… Thrones… It’s all connected!

In July, the pendulum is swinging from work back to play. We’ve got a few days left to wrap up business here in Seattle, and then we’re hitting the road. A good friend is getting married, and they’ve planned a wonderful celebration. Then we’re off to Dublin, which as far as I am concerned is the happiest place on earth. (Disneyland can suck it!)  I plan to continue writing from the road, which is going to be a fun experience, I think.

If you’re interested in following along with the trip, I’ll be posting some photos on Instagram and on my Facebook Page.

My Projects for May 2016

It’s time for another monthly update. Prepare to be dazzled by mundane details!

Writing (Current)

Involuntary Turnover (Katherine Voyzey #1) – I’m working on getting the book out in a few more channels, including iBooks.

Orientation to Murder (Katherine Voyzey #2) – The book is done! It’s off with my editor for copyediting, and I should have it back by the end of the month. Stay tuned for the release date.

Whee!

DBT (Katherine Voyzey #3) – I’m working on the story outline. It’s about 75% done and once I have all the essential facts in place. I’ll begin the first draft. I tend to “veer off” my outlines when I write, but I like having one as a starting place.

Consulting (Current)

Leadership Coaching – I’m working one-on-one with a manager as they improve their skills.

Strategic Planning –  Working with a nonprofit on strategy and goal-setting. This project will run through the end of June.

Integration Planning – Helping two organizations prepare for a merger. Really cool stuff!

Mentor Classes – I’m facilitating mentor classes for a client in May and early June.

I'm adulting hard this month.

I’m adulting hard this month.

Consulting (Pending)

N/A – My plate is pretty full.

Travel & Fun

No travel planned in May or June because I’ve got plenty of consulting work in the Seattle area.  The fun agenda includes Captain America Civil War, some hang-out time with friends, and a few picnics/hikes with P if the weather stays nice.

Work/life balance has shifted sharply towards work this month, but that’s okay. I’ve got a bunch of travel planned for July and August, and that’s right around the corner.

My Projects for April 2016

It’s time for another monthly project update. Huzzah for personal accountability!

Writing (Current)

Orientation to Murder (Katherine Voyzey #2) – I can see the finish line! I’ve got about 2000 words left to edit, meaning I’ll be done by the end of this week. All that’s left is copyediting, formatting, and finalizing the cover art.

I know I’ve been slow, but I’m quite pleased with how the story has turned out.

leela

Writing (Pending)

DBT (Katherine Voyzey #3)  – No change. I have a preliminary outline and will begin the first draft once book 2 is out.

Consulting (Current)

Leadership Coaching – One coaching project is wrapping up. A second one is moving along at a good pace. (one-on-one sessions)

Strategic Planning – The project is underway! It’s a fun one and it’ll run through the end of June.

Consulting (Pending)

Supervisor Classes – I’m facilitating supervisor/mentor classes for a client in May and early June.

Travel & Fun

For April the “fun agenda” includes Emerald City Comicon, a trip to Vegas with our dear friend E, and some time with the parental units.  Plus the ongoing fun of my time with P, hanging out with friends, and attendance at my writers’ group.

Work/life balance is pretty sweet right now. I hope that I can maintain it!

The Dark Side of OD Consulting

When I tell people about my job I often get enthusiastic responses.

“That’s my dream job,” people will say, with a big smile and bright eyes. And I understand because for a long time being an OD consultant was my dream job too. But OD consulting isn’t my dream job any longer. It’s my real job. And while there are plenty of beautiful moments I am no longer sashaying from project to project with rainbows shooting out of my ass.

Yes, my work is positive and life-affirming. But being at the center of organizational change can be emotionally difficult. There is a dark side, and I’ll tell you what it feels like.

  • Sometimes it takes me days or weeks to “shake off” the negativity that I pick up like lint from a difficult set of meetings.
  • I’ve had a client “use me” to bring people hope and enthusiasm (temporarily) without intending to follow through.
  • I’ve brought difficult feedback to the surface and it blew up in my face.
  • I’ve seen someone I trusted use my words to“prove someone else wrong” in a petty argument.
  • I’ve had clients lie to me (and their teams) because they were worried about looking bad.
  • I’ve had a CEO ask me “who he should fire” after facilitating a team building day. He didn’t like my answer (no one) and I wasn’t invited back.
  • I’ve had an executive pull me aside and tell me (with great sadness) that as much as my efforts were appreciated the organization’s leadership didn’t really want to change, and our work was ultimately pointless.

Even though I have twenty positive stories for every bad one, there are times when being a facilitator breaks my heart.

farnsworth

Last winter was unusually tough, and one particular day comes to mind. I’d been raked over the coals by a client during a difficult meeting. Afterwards I drove my rental car to a Taco Bell parking lot so I could bawl my eyes out in private. I had just texted P to tell him I was going to cry for another 20 minutes to get it out of my system before I got on the freeway to come home because I didn’t want to crash the car. And that’s when my heart whispered:

i don’t know if I can do this anymore

In ten years of OD consulting that was the only time I’d ever seriously considered quitting. Up until then I’d been able to roll-with-the-punches, but all of the sudden my work seemed untenable.

What had changed? Where had I lost my way?

I’ve been searching for my answer.

The Problem with Idealism

Most of the OD people I’ve met have something in common. We do this work because we care deeply about things like fairness, honesty, progress, and helping other people have a voice. We’re idealists! We believe in the goodness of people. We feel that goodness. And as a result we tend to put our hearts on the line when we walk into a conference room or when we start a project.

I wasn’t crying in my car that day because the meeting was hard. Hard meetings happen and I can take my share of tough feedback. I was crying because I’d believed deeply in my client and I felt that they had let me down. I felt like everything we’d been working towards was a lie. And I was ashamed of myself for being duped.

I was heartbroken. I felt like a teenage girl who had fallen in love and belatedly realized she’d been dating a jerk and everyone knew it except for her. And because I was so focused on my own feelings of betrayal I wasn’t able to do my job, which was “girling up” and dealing with the immediate issue of what had happened in that meeting.

What a mess!

Putting Away the Pedestals

Consulting work pushes me, hard. What I learned last year is that I have a tendency to put my clients up on a pedestal.

These are the good guys, I tell myself. And then when they fell off the pedestal and proved that they were as human as anyone else I got all butthurt about it. Change is hard and I expect a certain amount of struggle, for sure. But integrity failures make me feel personally betrayed. Things like not following through. Not being honest. Being disrespectful. Not taking the work seriously. Being closed off to feedback. Using me as a ping-pong ball in a petty squabble. Being mean.

We all make mistakes. Hell, I know I do! But I don’t think that heartbreak is the correct response to client behavior. Therefore something in my thought process needs to change.

I think I need to replace my idealism with something healthier. Pragmatism?

Because when an Idealist gets her heart broken she thinks:
I believed in you.
I threw my heart into this.
I thought you walked the talk.
I told your employees they could trust you.
I thought *I* could trust you.
But I was a chump!
(weeps)

But when a Pragmatist has a bad interaction she thinks:
How interesting!
Perhaps should explore this.
Surely there is something to learn here.
After all, we all have bad days,
And if it turns out this leader is horrible after all,
I can probably help, if they want help,

And if that doesn’t work, I can walk!
I’m a free agent, after all.
(smiles)

Pragmatism seems healthier. More professional certainly. And also a tiny bit sadder. There is a part of me who mourns the old-Cheri who could pop into a meeting full of naive belief that all people were inherently trustworthy.

  • I used to waltz into a new project full of hope and optimism, convinced that my clients were going to “fight the good fight” and operate with integrity 99% of the time.
  • I never used to worry about covering my own ass.
  • I accepted what people told me at face value without looking for (or expecting) deception.
  • I assumed that so long as I was honest and I was respectful that others would value what I brought to the table.
  • I assumed when people said they were willing to do the work, they always meant it.

Looking back on the way I used to be, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand I miss my blind idealism. It felt so good! But I’m glad I’m not being a Pollyanna any longer. Old-me was sweet but she was also pretty naive.

When it comes to my work I still trust but I expect people to earn it. I still believe but it’s not unconditional belief. I’m a lot more skeptical than I used to be, back in the day. And I’m better able to see the truth of what’s in front of me, both the good and the bad.

Being a facilitator can break your heart. Being a facilitator might even change your heart. I hope these changes are for the better. But are they?

Whenever I ask myself that question, my heart whispers:

do your work with love

and have faith

Faith in what, I want to know.

have faith and you’ll see, she answers.

My Projects for March 2016

Following in the example of Seanan McGuire I’ve been thinking about posting monthly about my projects.

I figure it’s a good way to keep myself accountable, to see trends, and it might be interesting to those of you who like updates. Here’s what I’m currently working on:

Writing (Current)

Involuntary Turnover (Katherine Voyzey #1) –  I recently dropped the price for digital to 99 cents as a promo.

Orientation to Murder (Katherine Voyzey #2) – I’m editing the book and I’ve got until May 1st to get that done. I had a great week last week where I edited over 10k words but this week I have more consulting work so it’s been slower. But I’ll meet that deadline. Ayers Edits will do the copyediting and I plan to release the book in June or July.

catedit

Writing (Pending)

DBT (Katherine Voyzey #3)  – I have a preliminary outline and will begin the first draft once book 2 is out.

Future Projects – I have THREE (count em!) new mystery series floating around in my head. That means three new protagonists, three new settings, and three new twists. I’ll pick one of them to work on next, after I finish Kat’s third book. It’s going to be hard to choose!

Consulting

Leadership Coaching – I’m coaching two leaders at the moment. (one-on-one sessions)

Strategic Planning – I’m kicking off a strategic planning project for a nonprofit that will run through the end of June.

Travel & Fun

March is a homebody month but we’re lining up some adventures for April. We’ll spend four days at Emerald City Comicon and four days in Las Vegas.

I’m smiling as I type up this update. Lots of good stuff in here.