Beyond the Picket Fence

Stephen W. Browne

It finally happened, I'm published!

'Well of course you're published, I'm reading this in a newspaper aren't I?'

No no, I mean a book long in the making has been published, and I'm a contributor.

'Beyond the Picket Fence: Life Outside the Middle-Class Bubble' is now available as an ebook on Amazon with print on demand to follow.

If you know writers, you know we live to see our work in print. It's like oxygen for us.

The project started nearly two years ago when Marc MacYoung, a professional consultant and lecturer on security and self-defense issues called me up and told me about this book idea.

He said he wanted a book like this for four groups:

Young people about to head out on their own, their parents to help them explain to their kids why certain things are important, socially awkward people, and people from dysfunctional backgrounds

From the blurb: 'With the changes in society a lot of ‘deep structure' concepts aren't being passed on to people — mostly because it's hard to articulate subconscious knowledge. In other cases, it was just flat out missing from the environment you were raised in. It's the kind of knowledge that not having can really make life hard.'

The concept began with a question, 'How do you learn to read unspoken rules in an environment? How do you teach that skill to your kids?'

There's a wide range of specific subject matter here. There's information about staying out of trouble in bad neighborhoods, and that bad neighborhood could be the wrong side of town or a corporate board room.

There's advice on how to recognize when you're in an environment that operates on a different set of rules than you're used to.

Are you dealing with a dignity culture or an honor culture? Do you know what they are and why it matters? Why in fact knowing the difference could become a matter of life and death?

My own contribution is titled, 'When you're a stranger in a strange land.'

Marc said he needed article about traveling in different cultures and since Your Humble Author has been to a few places

I gave my perspective from my experience in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. My friend and colleague Peter Huston contributed from his experience in Taiwan.

The genesis of my article was actually years ago, in 2005 to be precise, when I turned on CNN and found a man I had been having an email correspondence with, a man I liked and admired, had been murdered in Basra, Iraq.

By the time Marc enlisted me in this project I had been pondering for years what I might have told Steven Vincent that could have helped him avoid that fate.

I wrote it for people who travel for business, pleasure, or to serve suffering humanity.

If your kids are taking off to another country after graduation, you could do worse than get this for them.

And are you worried about lurid tales of college parties gone horribly wrong? There's advice on safe partying herein.

Have you ever heard the term 'Crybullies'? The kind of people who claim victimhood status as a form of aggression against others? There's a short guide to dealing with them by an academic who has written a book on the subject.

Do you know anyone who is dating a violence professional, a cop, bouncer, loan shark enforcer? There's some advice for them too.

Are you one of those people who believe manners and courtesy are the same everywhere? This book will disabuse you of that misconception.

I'm just pleased as can be that I contributed to this book, and proud as all get out to be in the company of the authors whose work appears in it.