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Book Club Planning Guide: Strip off Your Fear


This is your guide to setting up an intimate little gathering of friends: easy and delicious food, a dazzling cocktail, groovy music, and the juicy subjects of confidence, fear, and uncovering your true self. It’s the kind of party I’d like to attend (and if you email your questions or comments in advance to me I can do just that ­– at least virtually).

Step 1: Invite Thoughtful Women

Make a list of about five women you know and respect. You may already know them well or just hope to know them better. I like using a service like Evite to set the tone of the evening.

Step 2: Prepare a Menu

Check out the delicious food prepared for our own book launch party by Alison Cornford-MathesonKaren Rosenzweig, and Samantha Searle.

Sexy Scallops

Feta and Walnut Stuffed Magic Mushrooms

Rule-Breaking Deviled Eggs


The recipes and photos are available here. The cake is a one-of-a-kind by Samantha Searle, but if you attempt to recreate it or make a new one, I’d love to see a photo. An economical and labor-saving idea is to have each person bring an appetizer so the load is not too heavy on the hostess.

Step 3: Mix the Drinks

Darcey Howard‘s whole business is based on authenticity and personal confidence, so she is the perfect mixologist for your little soiree.

The Skinny Strip

(Makes 2 petite cocktails or 1 Big Girl Drink!)

2 oz Vodka

1 oz Canton Ginger Liqueur

½ fresh-squeezed orange

Splash of maraschino cherry syrup (the syrup from the jar of maraschino cherries)

Garnish: orange slice, maraschino cherry on a toothpick

Step 4: Set the Mood

What is your favorite life-affirming, ass-kicking, sexy music? Set it on shuffle, turn the volume down low, and get to mingling and talking. You can also purchase a playlist of the songs from this book from iTunes or create your own confidence playlist.

Step 5: Start the Discussion

My book club friends will tell you I hate standard book club questions. I usually don’t give a rat’s ass what the author was thinking when she wrote the book. What I want to know is what my friends are thinking about what she wrote and how it applies to our lives.

What is going in your life and the lives of your loved ones is far more important than what I was thinking when I wrote this book, so feel free to ad-lib, create your own questions, tell your own story, or answer the Discussion Questions I included at the back of the book. Whatever feels right for you and your friends is the right way to talk about confidence and fear and how to uncover your brilliance.

I asked each one of my friends to tell me something they knew about confidence:

Darcey: “Confidence is your best accessory. Don’t bother trying to hide it because we see you and think you’re amazing.”

Alison: “Not all of us are born with self-confidence, but the good news is you can fake it, for a while. Even if you’re terrified on the inside, you can pretend to be cool, calm and collected on the outside while you’re working towards building confidence on the inside. Eventually you realise your hard work has paid off and you are no longer faking confidence, but living it. If only faking everything had the same results…”

Karen: “Confidence carries a certain air, like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. If you act like you are “all that” and look like you know what you are doing, people tend to believe you and simply move out of your way.  You don’t have a press pass for that swanky event – no matter! Just walk swiftly and confidently past the guard, flash them a knowing smile, and keep moving.  It is amazing what people will allow you to do when you act like you are in charge.”

Samantha: “All I know is that fear is something I live with on a daily basis. Fear of failure, fear of the future, fear of the unknown. I have many fears but I say to myself “so what?” Fear is not an acceptable excuse. If it were, I would never have married the love of my life, I would never have given birth to two beautiful boys. I would never have picked up my life in the city & put it down in Outback Australia – and what an adventure that has been!  And I certainly would never have started up my cake business. Fear? So what!”

What do your friends have to share on the subject of confidence?


Step 6: Create a Wisdom Circle

In Chapter 2, I recommended a revised Wisdom Circle with your friends, which is essentially you allowing each person to tell you what they think of when they think of you. It can be very illuminating to see yourself in the eyes of another person, especially one who loves and respects you. If you choose to do this, remember it is a loving exercise and one that is meant to exercise your receiving muscle, so take in what everyone is saying without comment, protest, laughter. Allow each woman a turn at the center of the circle.

Step 7: Action Plan

At the end of the night, either privately or public declare one action you will do or cease doing in your efforts to strip off your fear and reveal your confidence. Pick a partner and check in by email or phone over the next month to let her know how you are doing. Once you’ve got that down, move on to the next action.

The After Party

Want to let me know about your book club and one or more revelations or discussion points? I’d love to hear from you. Bonus points if you send me a picture of your group on book club night.

I wish I could be a fly on the wall to hear what you uncover!