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Anyone who has ever aspired to be a writer knows that the ultimate dream is to become a published author. Although self-publishing through web blogs is fairly simple nowadays, it still doesn't quite compare to having a hard copy printed & bound by a proper publishing company, and then having it listed for sale on the mecca of all book sites -- Amazon.com!

The S.African Chinese Baby Boomers share a unique bond because of the history we lived through in apartheid-era S.Africa, which resulted in the Chinese community being more close knit than most others in the country. So, we tend to celebrate the achievements of fellow community members, knowing the hardships our parents & elders had gone through to allow us to own our individual success stories today. And being a freelance editor, I'm especially happy to highlight the literary accomplishments of my peers on this website.

Aside from the professional journalists Melanie Yap (co-author of "Colour, Confusion & Concessions: The History of the Chinese in South Africa" with Diane Leong Man) and Ufrieda Ho (author of "Paper Sons and Paper Daughters"), and non-journalist Darryl Accone (author of "All Under Heaven") -- all non-fiction writers whose read-worthy books relate the struggles of the early Chinese immigrants in SA -- I personally know of no other authors from that Baby Boomer generation. So when news spread that Diane Chang (nee King), a fellow highschool alumnus, had published her first non-fiction work in New York -- the book capital of the world -- this wannabe author immediately sought her out for a "How'd u do it?!" session. (And as it turns out, her husband is a published author too!)

Cool, Calm, and Respected: 8 Leadership Concepts for Work and Home is a self-help book on how to deal with people, whether socially, at home, or in the work place. It includes humorous snippets of Diane's own experiences as a mother of two, a wife, and a full-time employee & manager, and is an interesting insight into how she personally dealt with difficult situations.

The book, published in April 2017, totals 181 pages (the last 5 pages are a Reference list). It's a quick read, taking me ~4 hours max at moderate reading speed. And I'm happy to add, I've already applied a few tips from this book since reading it. It's currently available at Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.

Diane is the 2nd daughter of Joy King (nee May) of Swaziland and the late George Lew King (Ng Gwai Saan). Together with her 3 siblings (Roger, Sharon, and Natalie), she grew up under the care of her grandmother in Johannesburg while her young widowed mother single-handedly provided for them from afar in Swaziland.

After completing a course in computer programming, Diane worked as a software developer for 6 years in SA. She and her husband Malcolm Chang then emigrated first to Canada and later to Los Angeles, USA, where she has been working in the IT field for over 20 years. In 2012, the Chang's made the decision to uproot again to be closer to their now-independent son & daughter. They currently reside in New York, where Diane continues her new career as a professional Leadership Development Coach -- and her foray into non-fiction writing in her areas of expertise.

Diane was kind enough to indulge me by answering some questions about her book, and also providing a closer glimpse into her work as a Leadership Development Coach:

1) When did the idea to write this book start to ferment? Do all "life coaches" inevitably become authors?

While some of the concepts had been in my head for a few years, the idea to write a book started to ferment after I gave notice at my job in Southern California towards the end of 2011. We had decided to relocate to NYC and to take a few months off to reset and pursue personal interests. The gift of time made it a possibility to start it in 2012, but I had to put it aside when I returned to work. I picked it up again at the end of 2016, motivated by the hope that if at least one person got one good nugget out of my experiences and observations, then it was worth completing. I had also since become a certified coach as recognized by the ICF (International Coaching Federation), and was encouraged that my original ideas were aligned with what I was learning. And... it's important for me to finish what I start, so I had this ongoing nag in my head to just get it done.

What drove the idea was that while observing my colleagues at work, public figures, my family, and myself, I wondered whether their behaviors at work and at home were similar. And it made me either happy or sad when I assessed the impact they were having on those around them, and on their own personal and professional development.

2) How easy was it for you to get published? Did you do it alone or through an author agent?

Since I decided to go the self-publishing route, it was relatively easy. I just needed to learn and follow the process. Of course, there is a learning curve and there are service providers out there to help if needed.

3) Writing a book of this nature isn't easy. You had to dole out advice over 8 chapters w/o repeating yourself or sounding too preachy, and keep the audience engaged. You navigated this very well, with personal anecdotes in the mix to keep things light. How long did it take you to structure the book? Or did you practically write the text in one breath?

The first wave was jotting down the initial ideas and concepts, looking for supporting information and research, and fleshing out the details. By the end of 2012, I had nine concepts but they were structured very differently to the final version.

When I picked it up again, I had read a lot more on the topic through my coaching journey, and I wanted to incorporate some of what I learned. It required me to reshape, drop, or add concepts. When I sent the first draft out for review, the general feedback I received was the ideas were good, but it needed more structural changes. Also, because I finalized the title late, I needed to make sure that the content in each chapter related back to the book and chapter titles.

Regarding doling out advice, initial versions had a more suggestive tone (you may want to or consider). My feedback providers wanted me to be more direct, so I made some adjustments.

I think there is some repetition because some fundamental ideas or desired behaviors span multiple concepts. I didn't want to have to choose where I mentioned something that applied elsewhere too.

The last 10% was the hardest, especially since I had a tight deadline. I still feel that in about a year from now, I'll want to look at it with a fresh perspective and make some revisions.

Diane's husband, Malcolm Chang, is a creative writer. His S.African-themed prose, "The Cruelty of Children," was published in the journal Newton Literary in 2015.

4) It seems fortuitous that you & Malcolm were on the same page with regards your cool parenting styles, and that your own kids were receptive to your methods. Do you credit this largely to the methodology itself, or does inherent personality play a major role as well? That is, is it possible to be cool & calm with a difficult & wayward child? (Think Donald Trump...)

Did you mean, THINK! Donald Trump!? ☺ Good luck with that! (sigh)

It definitely helped that Mal and I both are pretty even tempered. Our kids were never really exposed to any drama at home, and I do believe that some of that rubbed off on them both genetically and by observation. I would say, that for the most part, he and I weren't exposed to much drama ourselves growing up. That probably shaped our styles too. When I observed tension in a relationship or interaction, I must have made a mental note to myself as a child that it's not how I wanted to be?

The more difficult and wayward a child, I think the more important it is to be cool and calm to rationally understand the root cause and the child themselves. Inherent personality can be further developed into positive aspects of that personality. I think that the negative aspects come out due to frustration, misunderstanding, or immaturity.

5) Speaking of your husband Malcolm, he's a creative writer. Did he give you writing advice, or is this one situation where creative differences are best kept apart?

Malcolm and my daughter, Talisa, are both creative writers. They were part of the feedback and review process, so I definitely got great advice from them.

I think creative writing is far more difficult than what I wanted to convey through this book, but I definitely enjoyed stretching myself to add a little story to start each chapter.

6) Are you obliged to read every piece of your husband & daughter's writings?

Oh no! I don't get to experience Malcolm's writing until I'm at one of his readings, along with everyone else hearing it for the first time. He (wisely) doesn't come to me for advice. Instead, he participates in writer's workshops and peer reviews. It's a whole different level of writing.

Likewise with Talisa. She has her own personal writing projects and reviewers in her niche. So, the first time I will see it might be when it's available to the general public or if she wants a non-industry perspective.

On a side note, the notion of obligation is rarely considered in our household. For example, we're more than happy with a simple text or call from our kids on Father's Day or Mother's Day; and if they didn't get a chance, we're OK too. No big productions expected or required. Malcolm and I stopped buying gifts for each other over 15 years ago. Too much pressure! The downside is that we aren't always on top of gift-buying for our other relatives, so I'd like to get better at that.

Joy King surrounded by her 4 children and their families. As Diane expresses in her book, the strong positive foundation provided by her mother was the mould for Diane's own grounded character.

7) The book is essentially based on your own life experiences as a worker, manager, & mother. I gathered that being cool, calm, & collected (CCC) is your natural character, as I always remembered you as a genuinely nice and non-pretentious person. Aside from once hating housework & mopping, do you recall any situation where CCC just didn't cut it and you wanted to smash someone up like a pinate (i.e., aside from Trump)?

Haha! Of course! While I am generally pretty chill about things, I get frustrated, stressed, and angry too. Admittedly, not very often at all. I think that what helps is that I become more quickly aware of the emotion I am experiencing, and I immediately try to step outside of myself and observe what's happening. This skill has become more fine-tuned since I learn more about what coaching is really aimed at improving (i.e. self-awareness and how we react/respond).

Because Malcolm has also become more familiar with coach-speak lately, I can approach him and share what I'm going through. He simply listens and before I know it, I've coached myself into a better place.

Another thing that helps me is perspective. Through an organization called Infinite Family, I mentor a young child in South Africa every week via video-conference. These children have lost one or both parents to AIDS and at times don't have access to basic needs like electricity. So, no matter what problems we think we have, we really are very fortunate!

8) Judging from the many resources you quote throughout your book, I imagine you've done a lot of non-fiction reading through the years to develop your skill sets. Do you generally end up reading a lot more non-fiction than fiction? Which do you personally prefer?

I would say yes, generally more non-fiction. I think it's more because of current priorities and time.

I would like to read more fiction and Talisa is helping me to come up with a curated list. These days, it seems easier to binge-watch all those great shows out there!

9) Now that you have one published book under your belt, have you officially been bitten by the writer's bug? Or are you happy to leave this a one-hit wonder?

Love your sense of humor! I'm not sure yet. I'm toying with the idea, but it will be a while before I do anything.

10) Can you ever see yourself sitting down with Amy Chua [author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom, mentioned in the book] and having a cool, calm, & respectful conversation?

I think that would be great! While I am far from being a tiger mom, I understand where she was coming from. Each parent gets to decide for themselves what they think is best for their family, and even then, we're not always sure. In the book, I'm simply sharing what I felt worked for me. Some of it may / may not resonate with others.

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