Monday, March 11, 2019

Renee Linnell Interview - The Burn Zone

Photo Credit: In Her Image Photography

Renee Linnell is the author of The Burn Zone. She is a serial entrepreneur and has founded or co-founded five companies. Currently she serves on the board of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation and is also working on starting a publishing company to give people from diverse walks of life an opportunity to tell their stories. 

"Embrace your skeletons in the closet. Pull them out and paint them pink. Celebrate them. Your skeletons are probably the most interesting part about you. Your difference isyour destiny.”


What inspired you to pen your first book?
My first book started as journal entries. It was a catharsis. I had to get the story out of me so that I could heal and move on with my life. The more I wrote, the better I felt. Eventually, I had the courage to start talking about my story. Each person had the same reaction: You have to write a book. After I heard that enough times it dawned on me that I had been writing a book. From there I followed the steps to get an editor and a publisher.

Tell us your latest news.
My latest news is: I am about to start my second book tour. My first went up and down the West Coast. I will now be touring the East Coast. I got a publishing deal with Audible and NY actress Katie Schorr will be narrating my story. I’m meeting wonderful people from all over the world through social media that are telling me how much my book helped them (which is why I decided to publish it in the first place, so Yay!). I think that’s it. Oh, I’m writing my second book and hoping to have it to my editor mid-April.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
The biggest influence on my writing is my high-school English teacher, Mr. Jaswinski. He was a stickler for the rules of writing and made us suffer through learning perfect grammar and punctuation. But, once we had, he told us to break the rules, to write from our hearts. He allowed us to use fragments and run-on sentences and even make up words. I loved him for this because it made writing so fun. And, to this day, I still write that way. In fact, I had to fight to keep my writing this way. My first publishing company wanted me to change my writing and I refused. I found a new publishing company.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your book?

I love this question. I want readers to see themselves in my story. I hope that they feel liberated after reading my book: liberated from shame around their pasts, liberated from hiding what makes them different, liberated from living lives they no longer enjoy. I love imagining my book to be a permission slip for readers to start living a happier, more authentic life. I love thinking my book will allow them to and encourage them to love themselves more, forgive themselves, forgive others, and stop trying so hard.

Did you learn anything from writing THE BURN ZONE: A MEMOIR and what was it?

I learned so much. I learned that by owning my story I was able to draw power from it and stop being a victim of it. I discovered that we need to start sharing our stories, especially the really dark parts of them, because it is in the sharing of our stories that we begin to realize we are not all alone, that we have so much more in common with one another than we do differences. I learned I had to fight to keep my voice and my story my way; my first publisher wanted me to sanitize my story so that I would “appeal to a larger target audience” and wanted me to change how I told my story. As I fought to keep my story my way, I grew strength in my sense of self, which I needed in order to be ready for all the TV and radio interviews. And I learned it is incredibly liberating to expose all the skeletons in my closet. I would love to encourage others to do the same.

For those who are unfamiliar with Renee, how would you introduce her?

This question made me laugh. Ok, here goes: Renee is a nerdy, hermity, introverted writer (author of The Burn Zone) who loves to stay at home alone up in the mountains of Colorado, but who also has occasional highly extroverted bursts of energy where she loves to go out dancing on bars, drinking tequila, and spinning around a stripper pole if there happens to be one on the dance floor. She is an ex-surf model and ex-professional dancer who traveled to over 50 countries before she turned 35, started five companies, and has her MBA from NYU. Her mission right now is to encourage people to own their stories, trust their voices, and embrace what makes them different because she believes our difference is our destiny. How’s that? I feel embarrassed. It seems very “me me me and oh, here is some more about me…”

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I would pick S.A.R.K (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy). I haven’t thought of her in years, but she is the first person that introduced to me (via her book Inspiration Sandwich) that anything is possible and that our thoughts create our reality.

How many books have you written?
One and a half. In 2005 I had my father’s World War II letters transcribed and wrote an introduction and a conclusion; I self published it as Letters From A War Hero. My memoir, The Burn Zone, is my first full book.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Love yourself. Please. Please find a way to love yourself. Ignore all the messaging out there that tells you you are not okay the way you are, that you need something else to be happy or need to look a different way to be attractive or need to have more money to be successful. We must find a way to love ourselves, to stop waiting for someone else to come along and do it for us. And it starts by being kind to ourselves, by treating ourselves to things that bring us joy, and by looking in the mirror and noticing everything about ourselves that truly is beautiful. This is how we change the world.

Any Camp stories you would like to share?
Lol. I’m embarrassed to say I have no idea what this means . . . A crazy life story? I was stranded at 22,000 feet in the Himalayas and had to follow donkey poop to safety. I got detained at gunpoint by militia in Panama and had to wake-surf in crocodile infested water to “buy” my way out. I got severely electrocuted in the Maldives and I got mugged in Prague. These are all stories that will be in my second book. ;)

Best date you've ever had?
I’m still waiting for that one to come. I have a feeling it’s in my future.

Choose a unique item from your wallet and explain why you carry it around.
I don’t have a wallet. The most unique thing in my purse is a tiny bottle of Kai fragrance. It’s always nice to smell like flowers. J

If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had “no regrets” what would it be?
This one made me cry. I would stay up at night with my father and let him tell me about WWII (he was in five invasions as Captain of a Landing Craft Infantry vessel.) I was so young when he wanted to, I didn’t understand. He died when I was fifteen and I wish I had been old enough to understand that (a) his even being willing to talk about the war was amazing and (b) how incredible it would have been to hear about it.

What according to you is your most treasured possession?

My body. I love it. I am amazed by it. And, yes, I do criticize it and have to catch myself. But, I think it is just the most incredible thing: it’s so strong and flexible and can go in water and on land. It amazes me every day and I cherish it.

Which incident in your life totally changed the way you think today?
So many. The biggest one is losing so much of my family when I was young. It made me always hyper-aware of how quickly this life can be over. It made me a risk-taker and someone who just won’t settle for boring or less-than. I live with the constant knowing that this moment could be my last. Which makes me walk a strange line between living for the moment and planning for the future. I guess that’s the human conundrum. Yet, it seems to me not many people focus on the idea that any moment could be our last. My twin brother sure doesn’t. Our family deaths didn’t affect him in this way.

1. “Embrace your skeletons in the closet. Pull them out and paint them pink. Celebrate them. Your skeletons are probably the most interesting part about you. Your difference is your destiny.”

2. “If we ever want real peace inside our minds (and subsequently in the world), we must understand that each one of us is unique, that there is no carbon copy. Only then will we stop expecting other people to see and do things the way we would. Only then will we stop expecting ourselves to be further along than we are, to be somehow “better.” Only when we can truly accept and embrace our own flaws will we be able to accept and embrace each other’s.”

3. “When you are walking towards fear and hate and judgment and condemnation and isolation, you are walking in the wrong direction. When you walk towards faith and love and community and acceptance and kindness and compassion, you are on the right path.”

4. “When we love ourselves we love others. And when we love others we bring out the best in them; we create a beautiful safe space for the vulnerable, gooey, raw parts to come out from behind the ego and shine.”

5. “No guru can replace your own Inner Knowing; no one outside of yourself should. Follow your heart, follow your dreams, follow your passions . . . they are the keys to your destiny.”

6. “You already know the answers you seek, you just need to get still enough to listen.”

7. “I have discovered that life wounds us in order to break us open so that our hearts my finally be exposed to the sun, so that we soften, so that the Divine seed within gets awakened and beings its journey towards its full magnificent bloom.”

8. “It is our work to not blend in, our work to stay true to ourselves, and our work to unravel and eventually understand the Divine purpose in the parts of ourselves that are not “the norm,” to discover the incredible power and wisdom that lies hidden in the owning and forgiving and healing of our wounds.”

9. “A part of me believes we have all been brainwashed to some degree. Anytime we believe we are unworthy, we have been brainwashed. Anytime we believe we are ugly or stupid or not good enough, we have been brainwashed. Anytime we believe we need to buy another product to be happy or hide our sexuality to fit in or cut into our faces and body in order to be beautiful, we have been brainwashed.”

10. “We are bombarded with messaging that tells us we are not okay the way we are. It is time for messaging that tells us the opposite: there is room for all of us, with all of our diversity, and each one of us is incredibly worthy.”

After seven years of faithfully following her spiritual teacher, Renee Linnell finally realized she was in a cult and had been severely brainwashed. But how did that happen to someone like her? She had graduated magna cum laude with a double degree. She had traveled to nearly fifty countries alone before she turned thirty-five. She was a surf model and a professional Argentine tango dancer. She had started five different companies and had an MBA from NYU. How could someone like her end up brainwashed and in a cult?

The Burn Zone is an exploration of how we give up our power―how what started out as a need to heal from the loss of her parents and to understand the big questions in life could leave a young woman fighting for her sanity and her sense of self. In the years following her departure from the cult, Linnell struggled to reclaim herself, to stand in her truth, and to rebuild her life. And eventually, after battling depression and isolation, she found a way to come out the other side stronger than ever. Part inspirational story, part cautionary tale, this is a memoir for spiritual seekers and those who feel lost in a world that makes them feel less than perfect.

Praise for THE BURN ZONE

“Sometimes the events that change us are momentous, but other times they are so small and insidious we barely notice. Only upon reflection can we see those small choices and moments that change us irrevocably. This memoir is as beautifully written as it is incredibly poignant. Inch by inch, the author loses a sense of herself, and then, brick by lovely brick, builds her life back up again. It is a story about triumph; a story about all women who languish and ultimately relinquish their power; a story about love and the perplexing, elusive power of seeking your spiritual self.” —Fauzia Burke, president of FSB Associates and author of Online Marketing for Busy Authors

“So honest and real . . . Linnell’s ability to embrace her whole self, imperfections and all, is a great teacher for all of us. THAT is true self-love, a beautiful permission slip to embrace our own imperfections.” —Meredith Rom, author of Just Be: A Search for Self-Love in India

“In my thirty years as a world-renowned champion dancer and fitness coach, I've never run across a book that is so eye-opening on how vulnerable the human mind can be. I help millions of people learn how to move and what to eat to feel better physically; Renee Linnell reminds us that in order to be healthy and happy, we need to be just as careful with what goes into our minds. Everyone is looking for happiness and peacefulness; some find it drinking in a bar, some people dance, and some are singing in a church. Linnell reminds us that happiness is inside each of us and that we all are in this world with a different purpose and interests; live fully with your desires and embrace them fully!” —Jaana Kunitz, champion ballroom dancer and cofounder of Figure 8 Fitness

"Renee bravely shows up to share her journey of the human spirit with us. I found myself utterly spellbound by her story weaving us courageously through her experience with the ugly side of spiritual leaders gone bad. A must read for anybody who puts their heart in the hands of another for spiritual growth."—Madisyn Taylor, bestselling author of Unmedicated: The Four Pillars of Natural Wellness

“Buckle up. You’re in for an exhilarating ride. This book is compulsively readable. Writing about joining a cool chic cult, and being a pole-dancing monk, this is a redemption story-—not only for Renee Linnell but for all of us who are finally ready to love who we really are.” —Tama Kieves, USA Today featured visionary career catalyst and bestselling author of Inspired & Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work! and A Year Without Fear

"Renee Linnell will burn you down to your soul with her true story of chill-to-the-bone heartache as she shares how she was brain-washed and sucked into a cult--for 8 long years. She'll take you through the trenches of despair, and show you step by step how to cultivate the courage, strength, and fortitude to meet any challenge. When you approach the final chapters of this gripping memoir, you'll find yourself realizing that if she can triumph and rise up victorious out of The Burn Zone, you too are capable of overcoming anything that interrupts your path to full-on-thriving! This book will touch the places in your heart that remind you who you really are!" —Luann Robinson Hull, two-time award winning author of Happily Ever After...Right Now

You can purchase The Burn Zone at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you RENEE LINNELL for making this giveaway possible.
Winner will receive a Copy of The Burn Zone: A Memoir by Renee Linnell. 


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