Sunday, November 18, 2012

Voting time - Battle of the Book Reviews

Just 16 hours left to submit your review of "Daughters' Dilemma" at or
Voting is now underway - please click on "Was this review helpful to you" at and to vote for the best reviews.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Battle of the Book Reviews!

Write a book review for a chance to win prizes! Post your review of "Daughters Dilemma" on either or - deadline extended to Sunday Nov 18. Vote for your favorite(s) by clicking on "Yes" if you found this review helpful; the best US review wins a $20 amazon gift certificate and the best UK review wins £15.
In the case of a tie, the final decision will be made by accomplished writer/pianist/surfer Glenn Vanstrum based on wisdom and wit of the best reviews.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lessons in Leadership

Over the past six weeks I've been attending the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association Leadership in Practice program.  Freda Lewis-Hall, Pfizer's Chief Medical Officer set the theme of Equanimity under Duress - or how to keep your head while all around you are losing theirs.

Freda outlined in a blog posting a three step approach to career planning that I found very insightful:
1. Build your Base
2. Build your Brand
3. Make your Breakthrough

Step 1 is all about acquiring the knowledge and experience in your field.

Step 2 is about establishing your personal brand - or what leadership qualities others associate with you.

This is the stage I'm currently at.  I'm realizing that others already recognize me as a leader, and come to me for strategic advice, for career device and mentorship.  In the last few months others have sought my input as a mentor, a cello teacher and as a published author.  I struggled for a while to figure out and promote my personal brand but I'm coming to the realization that my brand is already out there and it's more for me to recognize, embrace and reflect.

Step 3 is about being open to opportunities and seizing them with both hands when they come along.  I'm ready!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Self-Publishing Tips

I've just published my first novel "Daughters' Dilemma" about the choices women make between career and family through  I've been so impressed by the process and by the tools provided by amazon that I wanted to share some general tips for others who have been considering self-publishing.
1. Perfect your manuscript
I'd originally planned to use a literary agent and established publishing house to publish Daughters' Dilemma, so after I'd completed the book I spent a further year working with an editor, seeking feedback at the La Jolla Writers' Conference, asking friends to review the draft, and proofreading before I was satisfied with the final manuscript.  Self publishing options do not include editing services so it's up to the author to ensure that the book is publication-ready.
2. Create an eye-catching cover
They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but in reality that is exactly what people do.  I found a very useful list of cover designers and ebook formatters compiled by Mark Coker at Smashwords, and used Cal Sharp of Caligraphics to design my cover.  I can't speak highly enough of Cal's work and excellent customer service.
3. Follow submission style guides
Kindle Direct Publishing provides a useful guide to its eBook formatting requirements and you can review how the book will look on different platforms - Kindle, iPad and in a browser.  Smashwords has a more detailed style guide written by Mark Coker that was even more useful and helped me troubleshoot some initial problems with unrecognized symbols.  For print copies of your book, Createspace, which is now a subsidiary of also provides a step-by step guide to submission, and you can review a digital proof onlione as well as order a printed proof to ensure your book looks the way you want.
4. Consider your marketing strategy
Think about your objectives from publishing the book.  Do you want to gain a wide readership and build a reputation as a writer or is financial gain from your book more important?  These factors will impact your decisions on how to price your book, and on which distribution channels you would like to use.  I opted to go for maximum volume since I'm establishing my name as an author, so I have taken advantage of Createspace's expanded distribution option, which includes bookstores and libraries as well as e-tailers, and have also priced my book towards the minimum of the allowed range.  Kindle Select allows you to offer free eBook promotions for five days every three months and this can be a great way to get your book out there.
Social media are a critical part of any marketing strategy and you can link your blog, website, tweets and facebook postings with your author page. also allows you to track your sales and royalties so you can monitor the impact of your marketing activities.
If you've always wanted to publish a book, it's never been easier!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Understanding Generation Y

Did you watch the Kony2012 video that went viral on YouTube last month?  The video has amassed over 89 million hits and speaks to the success of social media in galvanizing global action, resulting in the assignment of 100 US military consultants to central Africa to assist in the capture and bringing to justice of war criminal Joseph Kony, leader of the LRA and kidnapper of tens of thousands of children.

Millions of young people clicked online to pledge their support for Kony2012 and the video shows crowds in peaceful demonstrations on the issue, with a call to action to Cover the Night on April 20 by plastering major cities aroud the world with signs to publicize Kony and the campaign.

Do you remember seeing posters everywhere on April 21?  I was curious, living in San Diego, in which the headquarters of "Invisible Children" is located, since I didn't recall waking up to see Kony's image everywhere.  It turns out that for the millions of Gen Y's out there who clicked "Like", or Tweeted the link to the video in the virtual world, a tiny minority actually responded by taking action in the real world.

What does this tell us about Generation Y?  So easily moved by words and images but insufficiently moved to deeds and actions?  The world's problems cannot be fixed merely with a click.

On Leadership

Here are some valuable tips on leadership from Dieter Weinand, President of Pfizer's Asia Pacific Region Primary Care Business Unit:

On leadership:
  • Leadership is not self-serving, it is about serving others and involves many sacrifices
  • Leaders have compassion - ambition can give you sharp elbows
On cultural adaption:
  • Be yourself; be aware of cultural stereotypes and play to your strengths but downplay your weaknesses and prove those stereotypes wrong
  • Learn about the system and how things work in another country so that you can be effective
  • Build your network - don't be shy but talk to people everywhere who are different from you, and you will learn something from everyone

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Follow my Leader?

Can a leader become a follower? In recent years pharmaceutical companies' R&D divisions have cut swathes of staff and many scientists who formerly held management positions with others reporting to them have been reduced to the role of individual contributor. When you've been used to leading, managing and delegating it can come as quite a shock to find yourself in a follower role.

I've been wrestling with this issue myself, but found some good advice in Jennifer Crittenden's book "Discreet Guide for Corporate Women". Crittenden advises aspiring leaders to develop good listening skills, and it struck me that as a manager, it is easy to fall into the habit of talking more than one listens. Added to that, our multitasking online culture engenders the bad habit of emailing during phone calls and presentations, and we find ourselves less and less able to focus solely on the speaker.

I'm resolved to consciously practice my listening skills, to refrain from interrupting and give speakers 100% of my attention. When I attain my next leadership role I'm hoping these skills will make me a better leader.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Honing Professional Skills

From time to time we each need to look objectively at our professional skillsets. Are they gathering dust - is the world moving faster than we are?

I recently attended the La Jolla Writers' Conference - a weekend packed with workshops and seminars on all aspects of writing, ranging from how to develop characters, how to set pace, to commercializing a book. The weekend provided multiple opportunities for feedback, all of it delivered in a constructive and caring way. I came away full of ideas, revitalized and with my professional skills ratcheted up a level.

Take a look at the courses available to you and take the plunge - you never know what you'll discover!