Tag Archives: mystery

Oprah, Oprah, where are thou?

Man, I love my friends, family, and readers. They are very supportive. Since I’m like every other author out there, struggling to build awareness, they think Oprah is the answer to all of my problems.

They feel I’m just one phone call away from stardom. One phone call from Oprah to highlight my book before I start signing movie deals and counting huge amounts of cash. When I tell them that there are a million books published each year, and other authors hear the same things, they pooh-pooh my realism and tell me to think positively.

But Oprah still hasn’t called yet. No invite to her show. No multimillion dollar contract. She hasn’t magically sensed my novel on the market and felt a strong compulsion to fulfill my dreams of fame and fortune. What’s her problem?

My friends and readers say “Send your book to her! She’ll read it. You never know!”

I try not to chuckle when I hear that. Oprah must have warehouses full of unrequested books that people throw her way. Besides, I’ve never known her to highlight my genre, which is murder mystery. If I’m putting all my hopes into a magical discovery that happens all of a sudden, I’ll probably be disappointed.

We live in a culture that highlights those who reach the pinnacle of success or luck. From the Powerball lottery winners to the young woman who wins American Idol, we’re inundated with these stories. Yet, they are just one in a million. Maybe one in several hundred million. However, people see these folks and believe that anyone can do it, too.

What we don’t see are the people who work hard and keep striving despite seeing any visible signs of progress. We don’t see the little things they have to stick to, day in and day out, to reach their goals. So we get lulled into that belief that we can get those miracle finishes without much difficulty.

Promoting a book certainly falls in the ‘difficult’ category, especially when I don’t have $3,000 a month to spend on promotion. Yes, several PR companies specializing in book promotion quoted a price of over three grand per month to promote my book. Maybe if I had that kind of money, I wouldn’t need to worry about promoting my book to increase sales. So when my optimistic friends and readers tell me to call Oprah, I smile, say ‘sure!’, and keep it moving. Like most authors out there, I have to do this the hard way.

That’s not to say I won’t break Olympic records running to my phone if Oprah’s name pops up on my caller ID. I just won’t expect it to be that easy. I need to keep things simple and start with easier tasks before I get that invite to Chicago. Like writing five or six bestsellers first. Easy enough, right?

Then I won’t have to worry about Oprah and get upset because she hasn’t called me yet…

(yes, borrowed from Dave Chappelle and Comedy Central)

Career Change does a body good

I’ve been blessed to learn and cultivate a particular set of skills, skills I’ve acquired over the course of my career.

I’ve always wanted to say that.

Actually, it would be cool if I were a former spy like Liam Neeson in Taken, but the skills I’m talking about won’t help me take out violent criminals single-handedly. Instead, they’ve helped me survive layoffs and do well in six industries and disciplines. In about 17 years, I’ve worked in retail management, finance, pricing, marketing, and product management. I’ve also written my first book in a murder mystery series.

Lots of younger professionals (20’s – 30’s) ask me how I transitioned through multiple career paths. Those that ask me usually seek a career that is more fulfilling. Therefore, I thought I’d share a few things I learned. If you find yourself in this situation, I hope you find this useful.

Figure out exactly what you want to do

Hopefully, you’ll already know this, so I won’t spend a lot of time on it. We only live so long, so you don’t have time to taste-test a thousand options. Research your targeted choice and interview folks already in it. Make sure you really want to try it. You don’t want to waste years getting into something only to end up hating it.

Understand and build your transferable skills

I jumped from retail banking to financial management to marketing. Although the roles are different, all require strong analytical capability. I cultivated that skill and positioned it as an asset for each role.

Let’s say you sell used cars but want to work in product management one day. Start by determining the basic skills required for success in each role. Suppose one is understanding and meeting customer needs.  Another one may be influencing buying behavior. If you build on those skills and can demonstrate them, you’ll make a huge leap in including yourself among the candidates in your targeted career.

Remember that skills can be learned. Although I majored in marketing, I ended up working in finance because I couldn’t get a marketing job when I graduated. I had to learn how to be analytical and look at the big picture because I sure didn’t do much of that in the beginning of my career.


This is obvious but is even more critical when you’re switching careers. You’ll be an unproven commodity in your new field. Building connections is key to convincing someone to give you a shot. Also consider joining Toastmasters to brush up on your public speaking; the ability to network and present and convey ideas will open doors everywhere.

Offer yourself on a trial period

Some people apply for jobs outside of their field, don’t establish relationships, but expect to command top dollar without working their way up. That’s ridiculous. Instead, find someone in your new field and offer to assist them with a project—for free. Or join a cross-functional project team at work to gain exposure. If people don’t have to pay you, they’re more likely to bring you in, show you the ropes, and give you valuable insight. I’ve landed a couple of jobs this way.

Understand it will take time

Everybody wants everything now. Life doesn’t work like that for most of us. Things take time, even for things where we feel we’re a natural fit.

I love writing—and yet, it still took me about nine years to write and publish my first book. It also cost a lot (i.e., attending writer’s conferences, paying copy editors, paying for promotional tactics, etc.)

Hopefully, it won’t take you as long to start your new career as it did for me to write my novel. Just understand that this effort usually isn’t overnight. Your career path might resemble a line dance; you’ll have to take a step forward, one step back, and two to the side before moving forward again.

But as long as each step puts you closer to your goal, you’ll keep acquiring those valuable sets of skills that will place you where you want to be.

Intro to my blog

Hi, everybody! I’d like to welcome you to my new blog!

Why am I blogging? Well, for two reasons. First, it is a great way to make connections. As a new published author, I’m excited to meet other writers, readers, and bloggers and I look forward to learning from them.

Second, and most importantly, I want to share things I’ve learned, experienced, and picked up along the way to help others turn their passions into reality, whether it is with their writing or another career. We all have friends and acquaintances who feel “stuck” in their lives and they want to do something different. Some want to write a book but don’t know how to start. Some writers have started a book but don’t know how to finish it. Others want a different career but don’t know how to transition from their current one.

Being stuck in a holding pattern isn’t the best feeling; it sucks frankly. But I’ve been there. And I can tell you that I’ve been blessed and I’ve worked hard to make career changes in both the corporate world and in my writing. I’ve transitioned from corporate careers in retail sales to financial analysis to product management and I’ve managed to write, edit, and publish my first book (“Partners in Crime”, a detective novel) during this time. So I want to share things that can make your lives easier if you find yourselves wanting to write a book and/or desiring to change careers.

Now, I’m not someone who has “made it” by any stretch of the imagination. I am learning about the writing, publishing, and promotions business every day. This is new for me. But as my friends told me when they suggested I start a blog, every nugget of information I share will benefit someone. Likewise, the more people I reach, the more I will learn from them. So that means I encourage dialogue with and among you. Share what you think! That’s what will make this fun. For more information, please see my comments policy here.

So how will this work? I’ll aim to post things once a week with content focused on the following topics:

  • (Primary) Writing, publishing, and other related activities
  • Inspirational messages and content that help people follow their passion

Periodically, I’ll also post content revolving around other interesting topics. I can’t predict what that will be like; it depends on whatever Life throws at us.

I hope you enjoy reading my blog!