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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Guest Post from author of the recent memoir: Shining Brightly by Howard Brown


by Howard Brown


GENRE:  Memoir






In Shining Brightly, Silicon Valley pioneer, cancer survivor and interfaith peacemaker Howard Brown shares keys to resilience for successful entrepreneurs, patient advocates and community leaders. He shows us how to reach out through our families, our communities and around the world to form truly supportive connections and friendships. From Howard’s career as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, to his conquering metastatic stage IV cancer twice, to his compassionate outreach as a peacemaker, to his love of sports—this ultimately is not one man’s story. Shining Brightly is a story shared by countless men and women—and may wind up changing your life as well. With each true story he tells in the pages, Howard invites readers to picture how they might join him in shining more light in our world.






    Basketball is a lot more than just a game to me. Basketball is a cerebral sport, a community sport, a sport of relationships, respect, chemistry and teamwork. Each time I have been knocked down by a physical disability, a surgery or a chemo series, one of the goals that gets me out of the bed each morning is getting back onto the court as a milestone in the healing of my mind, body and soul. I’ve had a chemo port installed, neuropathy, chronic diarrhea and the fogginess that I call chemo brain—and I’ve played through all of that. I don’t know too many stage IV cancer patients who’ve kept playing before, during and after treatment.


    It’s hard playing full-court basketball several times a week with all that running, zigging and zagging. It’s even risky. I sometimes worry that a hard hit to the chest might disturb my chemo port. This is simply a part of my healing journey. The blueprint to my own survivorship. Basketball was the light that got me through some of the darkest periods of my life. And that’s the story behind that little photo caption that keeps bouncing around the internet: “I, Howard Brown, Stage IV Colon Cancer and now No Evidence of Disease (NED), celebrate survivorship by going to my happy place: the basketball court!” No, I’m not trying to convince you that you have go out and shoot hoops. Maybe some people will be prompted to get out on the court again after reading this chapter. Most won’t. The whole point of this chapter is to tell you about my “happy place.” We each need to find at least one of those for ourselves. My happy place is anywhere I’m playing with my hoops with my boyz. What’s your happy place?



AUTHOR Bio and Links:


Howard Brown is an author, Silicon Valley entrepreneur, interfaith peacemaker, two-time stage IV cancer survivor and healthcare advocate. For more than three decades, Howard’s business innovations, leadership principles, mentoring and his resilience in beating cancer against long odds have made him a sought-after speaker and consultant for businesses, nonprofits, congregations, and community groups. In his business career, Howard was a pioneer in helping to launch a series of technology startups before he co-founded two social networks that were the first to connect religious communities around the world. He served his alma matter—Babson College, ranked by US News as the nation’s top college for entrepreneurship—as a trustee and president of Babson’s worldwide alumni network. His hard-earned wisdom about resilience after beating cancer twice has led him to become a nationally known patient advocate and “cancer whisperer” to many families. Visit Howard at ShiningBrightly.com to learn more about his ongoing work and contact him. Through that website, you also will find resources to help you shine brightly in your own corner of the world. Howard, his wife Lisa and daughter Emily currently reside in Michigan.




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I asked our author to speak about the process of writing a non fiction memoir.

    My new memoir, Shining Brightly, began as one napkin in a Bob Evan’s restaurant in mid-Michigan during the first luncheon meeting with my editor David Crumm. It was a long lunch and David asked me to simply start telling him “the stories you want to include in this book.”

So, I rattled along, jumping from one memorable experience to another, as David jotted on that napkin. Then, David neatly transferred those notes into more than a dozen single-line story prompts on one page of a legal pad.


   We worked this way because David’s professional background has been many decades as a journalist, coupled with his training over the years in fiction. That’s how he became the founding Editor of Front Edge Publishing in 2007.


   I brought to our lunch table the instincts of a lifelong entrepreneur from my days in Silicon Valley startups to my career in developing social media platforms.

    As we met that first time, David and I both knew that the biggest challenge in writing a book is enticing readers to make it through the first page, then the first chapter and then to keep them going until they reach the end and will recommend the book to others.

    From the start, we were aiming at a best seller. We both understood that this memoir had to develop recurring characters, build suspense, offer some comic relief, reveal some startling stories that people would want to share with others, and move readers with both dialogue and narrative—all the classic tools of good fiction.

    Another exercise we used was a two-hour storyboarding session with David and Celeste Dykas, another editor from David’s publishing house. Celeste hosted this session in the sunroom at her home with comfortable chairs and snacks.

    Each of us had 50 sheets of blank 8 by 11 paper, plus a Sharpee marker.

    David tossed out the one question that afternoon: “If a movie is made of your life, Howard, what scenes would have to be in the final cut of the film?”

    I began: “Oh, we’ve got to include the moment I met my little brother Ian for the first time through Jewish Big Brothers. What happened that day led to such a dramatic result. That part of this story is a Lifetime movie in itself.”

    And: “We’ve got to include my romance with my wife Lisa because that unfolded like a Hallmark movie from the moment we met to our wedding along the Pacific.”

    And: “We’ve got to include how I flew to England to sell George Michael on this new software company for popular music that we were launching. That story has suspense and star power.”

That afternoon, as I told my stories, each one of us could nominate a scene that simply had to be included in the movie of my life. When one of us felt so moved, we wrote a phrase to recall that scene on a sheet of paper and tossed it into a growing pile on the floor between our chairs.

Then, toward the end of the session, we organized all those papers on the floor like a movie storyboard. We were making the first “director’s cut” of my life story.

    That’s how we built the framework for this memoir. All the research and interviews that followed were based on the goals we set in those first sessions.

    So, techniques borrowed from the writing of great fiction—or we might also say the crafting of great feature films—became the pathway toward developing my memoir.

    My mission and the mission of this book has always been to encourage others to shine their light, and share their hope, with others to make this world a little better place.

    That won’t happen unless they actually read the book.

    If they buy a copy, then I know I’ve done my part because I trust this story to inspire readers. Like a good novel, readers will find this book hard to put down.

    And the only remaining question now is:

    So, who will play me in the movie version?

    I’m thinking Kevin Costner or Pierce Brosnan.

    Who knows? Maybe their people can talk to my people about a movie deal.


 Thank you for reading Jerry's Circumlocution where I promote independent authors, toss out a few reviews, wax eloquent occasionally on writing, or shamelessly self promote. 

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  1. I'm so pleased to see Howard's story here. Thanks for hosting this on your blog!
    Shining Brightly really is a remarkable work of nonfiction that reads like fiction.

  2. The book sounds very interesting

  3. Thanks for sharing about writing the book