Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Choice of Jewelry

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  So all this week we've been talking about reinvention: Gigi's recovery from cancer and her new outlook on life; Alice's cleaning out her basement, finding those old photos and transforming them into plots; Cindy Cavanagh's watching her book transform into a TV show; and Becky Masterman beginning a whole new career. So how did they do it? And is there a roadmap to reinvention? 

Nancy Cole Silverman has some suggestions for that very adventure--including jewelry!

The Gold Watch vs. The Brass Ring
   by Nancy Cole Silverman

When my father retired he was given a gold watch. Times change, and as I approached retirement, I was looking for a brass ring.  After nearly twenty-five years in radio the station I worked for was merged with another, and like many of my colleagues, I was purged; thrown out like yesterday’s newspaper and forced to reinvent myself.

In my debut novel, Shadow of Doubt (Henery Press 2014) my protagonist, Carol Childs, a middle-aged, single mom, is working for a talk radio station and has left her secure position as an account executive to pursue her dream job as a reporter. However, her enthusiasm to reinvent herself isn’t matched by her new boss, KCHC’s boy-wonder, Tyler Hunt, who considers her the world’s oldest cub reporter, in search of a good story.

Reinvention is never easy. There are always those closest to us that refuse to see us in a new light.  But along the way I’ve picked up a few tricks that helped me find my way as a novelist.  

not this kind of radio, of course...
After a long career in radio, working both sides of the desk - that of reporter, and later as a sales exec and general manager of a sports radio station (God has a sense of humor!) - I learned it’s seldom the job, but the skills, that define the person, and we don’t leave those behind.  With take them with us. 
So, here’s my bag of tricks. 

#1. Identify who you want to be and what you want to do. Look around, dig deep inside yourself for those lost dreams and hobbies you never had time to pursue and go after them.

# 2. Match your skill sets to that of a new profession.  Are you organized? Detail ordinated? Goal driven?  If you’re a writer, chances are you possess a wealth of skills you’ve never thought about and that many companies need.  

# 3.  Talk about what you want to do in the present tense. Focus on the future, not the past. Will Rogers, famous for his social commentary, said it best.  I’ll paraphrase: If you want to know the direction a man is going, don’t just listen to what he says, look where the tips of the boots are pointed. So often people say one thing and do another.  The fact is we can’t move forward if we continually have our feet pointed in the wrong direction.
This brings me to my forth trick and with it a word of caution. 

# 4. Warning!  I don’t advise this for everyone, but I threw away my business rolodex.  It’s too easy to look backwards and talk about yesterday.  If you plan to move forward, your time and your conversations must be about what you’re doing now. Not about what once was.  Make new friends, seed your new database with people who can help you to advance in a new direction.

#5 Join clubs. Read books. Dress the part.  Hollywood is famous for its stars, and many have reinvented themselves more than once.  Katy Hudson became Katy Perry, going from gospel rock to mainstream pop music. Remember the underwear model Marky Mark? Who could forget those abs? He became Mark Wahlberg, a major success on the big screen today. Of course those of us in California can hardly forget Arnold Schwarzenegger who went from body builder, to action star, to politician. 

And, speaking of politicians, Sheila Kuehl, once known as Zelda Gilroy, Dobbie Gillis’ wannabe girlfriend, today is a member of the LA County Board of Supervisors.

Nobody said reinvention was easy.  The path is frequently peppered with problems, and like my protagonist, Carol, we’re sometimes faced with difficult questions and decisions that may challenge the very things we thought we knew and held dear.

In SHADOW OF DOUBT, Carol is faced with a dilemma.  Her next door neighbor, Samantha, is the niece of a top Hollywood talent agent and has become an invaluable source for insider industry news. But when Sam comes to Carol with news of her aunt’s death, things take an unexpected twist, and Carol starts to wonder if she’s being played by Sam to cover up a murderer.  

I love that as a novelist I’m able to twist the facts and turn up the heat on my characters -something I could never have done when working in a news room.  I hope you enjoy my new novel shadow of doubt. After years of writing broadcast copy and news, it’s been nice to reinvent myself as a novelist.

HANK:  How about you, Reds? What steps have you ever taken to reinvent yourself--as a writer? as a reader? As a person? 


Nancy Cole Silverman credits her twenty-five years in news and talk radio for helping her to develop an ear for storytelling. But it wasn’t until 2001 after she retired from news and copywriting that she was able to sit down and write fiction fulltime. Much of what Silverman writes about today she admits is pulled from events that were reported on from inside some of Los Angeles’ busiest newsrooms where she spent the bulk of her career. In the last ten years she has written numerous short stories and novelettes. Today Silverman lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Bruce and two standard poodles. 

When a top Hollywood Agent is found poisoned in the bathtub of her home, suspicion quickly turns to one of her two nieces. But Carol Childs, a reporter for a local talk radio station, doesn’t believe it. The suspect is her neighbor and friend, and also her primary source for insider industry news. After a media frenzy pits one niece against the other—and the body count starts to rise—Carol knows she must save her friend from being tried in the court of public opinion.
But even the most seasoned reporter can be surprised, and when a Hollywood psychic shows up in Carol’s studio one night and warns her there will be more deaths, things take an unexpected turn. Suddenly nobody is above suspicion. Carol must challenge both her friendship and the facts, and the only thing she knows for certain is that the killer is still out there. But the closer she gets to the truth, the more danger she’s in.


  1. Congratulations, Nancy. "Shadow of Doubt" is definitely getting added to my still-teetering to-be-read pile . . . .
    I agree that reinvention is hard, particularly when it is forced on you, but your suggestions certainly seem like a good way to proceed along that path. Thanks for your thoughtful post.

  2. Reinvention is sometimes a defense mechanism.

    In my case, reinventing myself was partly chance, and partly because my original life plans, which got shortstopped, were no longer a viable option by the time I could regroup. So I had to be creative. This has happened more than once in my life, and on the plus side, it's led to some truly intriguing side trips in my life.

    I started out hoping to become a police detective, but in 1969 women, I found halfway into the program, were required to have three times the education of their male counterparts, were still expected to fit into the physical requirements (5'8", 150 pounds, and 20/200 uncorrected vision), but could only serve in either a desk capacity or as a glorified social worker. Then I got married and had a baby, and everything changed, anyway.

    Needless to say, I've never gone into law enforcement. But I've been a buyer for a retail store, a kitchen designer, a sewing teacher, an insurance/business consultant, an author, and a public speaker.

    Jill of all trades, mistress of some.

  3. Great advice, Nancy. And congratulations on the book! I'm a sucker for anything with a Hollywood setting.

    I'm someone who's reinvented myself many times -- elementary school teacher, college professor, high tech consultant, marketing copywriter -- and earned a PhD along the way. (Karen, looks like soemthing else we have in common!)

  4. Hallie, what did you teach?

  5. I'm with Karen in Ohio. Life thrusts changes upon me when they are needed for survival -- they are a defense mechanism. But reinvention? I've been divorced twice, worked two professions and a dozen jobs, but I'm still chasing the same dream I had at nineteen, the dream that pushed me into the newspaper business -- to be a successful novelist. Everything else comes and goes. My dream and my kids are constant.

  6. Driving home from NYC! And thinking i didn't so much reinvent as re-purpose! More to come when I get back to my computer!

  7. What good advice you have for reinventing ones self. Lots of things to keep in mind. Your book sounds wonderful. I'll keep an eye out for it!

  8. Reinvention of oneself is to me a lifelong process, and I agree with Jack that the dream and kids are the constant. Thanks for the great advice on achieving successful reinvention, Nancy. You are an excellent example of someone who took what seemed like an end to a career and created a whole new life. Congratulations! And, your book sounds fascinating, so one more to find room for in my house of books.

  9. I’ve never thought of it as “reinvention,” but it’s what I did 25 years ago when we moved from suburban Philadelphia to upstate New York. I had done public relations work for years in the Philadelphia area and had good experience. But could I get a job in upstate NY? – No way. I needed and wanted to work – three kids growing up and getting ready for college, for instance. Through a good bit of serendipity I discovered the profession of book indexing. I took a course, bought software, marketed myself like crazy, joined a professional organization, picked up some work, and was patient and determined. Amazingly, here I am 20-some years later: very busy, loving what I do, and thinking I was born to write back-of-the-book indexes. I suppose I should thank the places that did not hire me to do PR for them.

  10. Home again...and so happy you chatted without me! Yeah, I agree..reinvention is often out of necessity--but you also realize you have skill s and knowledge you thought were usable one way--that are also useful in another!

  11. I had a producer friend say to me--oh, I can;t do anything but be a TV producer!
    I said well, maybe...but every day do manage a big group of people, and organize them to do a big project which has to be absolutely perfect, and absolutely on time and new and innovative and and reliable and under budget?

    Yeah, she said