Is 2016 The Year to Realize Delayed Dreams?

My oldest son is sixteen and he’s in the middle of the frustrating process where the whole world starts to ask him what he wants to do for the rest of his life. He has to start thinking about a career, so he can plan on a college, so he can plan his high school classes, etc. Like most kids his age he doesn’t want to think past the next comic con.

Through him I’m remembering that time in my life when I considered so many options then had to discard some as unreasonable, too expensive, out of reach. Each career path I considered spoke to some part of me; my creative side, my logical/planner side, my feminist side, etc. I eventually aimed in the direction of advertising and PR then wound up in special events and teaching. (Because face it, very few end up where they thought they would at sixteen.) But some of those dreams never died. The part of me they represent never got a moment to shine or at least step up to the plate and try. It’s those delayed dreams that I’m tapping into now as an entrepreneur.

Now, this point in time in history, is a unique time that is perfect for so many people to be able to keep their day job (or not) and try something new, something they’ve always wanted to do.

Writing novels is that for me, and I get to combine it with owning my own business, another path I’ve always been interested in. I met a woman today who had always thought being an editor would be great. She’s a librarian (a great job for a lover of words) but we talked about how she could easily do side work editing books for self-published writers. It was such a fun conversation. I loved seeing the wheels start spinning and the lights go on that long-forgotten dream. It was fantastic being the person who is already on the path getting to point it out to her.

So, what are your lost dreams? Did you write them off because in the past you had to open a brick and mortar store and start-up costs would be too high? Did someone tell you that you didn’t have the skills to compete in a particular market? Did you hear scary stories about how little creative people make and that you might end up living in a cardboard box if you take that career path? Well, the world has changed. You, my friend, and I are lucky enough to live in a time when anyone can open an online “store” and reach customers world-wide. You may not be an expert but you are still ahead of someone and they could seriously benefit from your knowledge. And creative work is still hard, but it’s easier to go around the gatekeepers and find your audience than ever before.

Next month I’m going to teach a series of classes on how to self-publish. Am I an industry leader? Hell, no. But I’ve been there and learned a lot of good lessons along the way. I’m green enough to remember what it’s like to be starting out with no clue what to do. Industry leaders are great but they can be so deep in an industry that their advice is too complicated for a beginner. It’s just another way that I’m following those dreams, going back to the what-if’s and exploring all the possibilities I saw when I was sixteen.

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If You Win the Lottery Should You Buy A Private Jet?

I featured a family with a private jet in my second novel, “Popstars, Friends and Lovers: a dreamer’s tale” and my current Vivienne series is all about the private jet industry. I use them because they represent glitz and glamour and the easy life. Who doesn’t dream of avoiding airport security lines and having as much leg room as you want? But as someone who has spent many years being associated with the industry in one way or another, I can tell you the myth is a little different than the reality.

I took the above pic myself (that’s my coffee and shades). I was flying home from Savannah on a Gulfstream, one of the major brands of private jet. (Make note, you know, in case you win…) Was it nice? Oh hell yes. I was possibly a bit hungover and able to dim the lights and stretch out and sleep. I got this ride home from my husband who works in the industry. It isn’t, however, my jet to use whenever I want.

But I do know what it’s like to have a jet and it’s not exactly like it’s usually portrayed in the movies. It’s a little more complicated than that.

First it involves a crew. Most jets have to have two pilots who will be on your payroll if you own the plane. They have to be trained to fly your specific model which will cost you around 50 grand, per pilot. And just as important is your maintenance crew. The minimum you will need is a maintenance manager who will then find locations to have work done on your plane. Depending on the size of the plane and how much you want to fly it he/she might need a few people helping with maintenance. This is not an area where you might want to skimp and save.

But if you’ve just won over a billion dollars in the lottery you can afford all that, life is good. Enter the FAA (play ominous music). For your safety and that of all others flying there are several NYC phone book size manuals of rules and regulations you will need to follow. Every so often you will need to take your plane in for inspections and scheduled maintenance. It’s a time when you get to pay for the pleasure of owning a jet without getting to actually use it (ouch). Something that often comes as a shock to the nouveau riche because plane brokers tend to gloss over those details.(See, I’ve let you in on a secret.)

So once you’ve got the plane, the crew and maintenance complete you can just pick up the phone and tell someone that you want to fly to Bora Bora right now…or not. Flight plans must be filed, the fuel truck scheduled and crew called in before you can load your flip-flop wearing self onto the plane. There are technical questions galore, how long is the runway in Bora Bora? Do you need to schedule a landing time to work with local commercial traffic? If anything goes wrong with your plane, is there anyone anywhere near Bora Bora who can fix it so you can get home?

It’s all the details that it takes to get that plane in that plane in the air and keep it there that, to me, adds to the excitement. I love having an insiders view that I can’t wait to share more of with you in the Vivienne Series, due out later this year. It’s the story of a smart, quiet, sweet young woman who lands herself at the top of the male-dominated private jet industry. It’s every woman’s struggle to find a balance between career and the rest of her life and I can’t wait to bring it to you. It will be an eight novella series that I will release all at once so you can binge read to your heart’s desire. Stay tuned for excerpts and more behind the scene info. Until then, good luck in the lottery. You’ll just have to wait and see if I get a private jet when I win. If you do, all I’m asking for is a ride.

 

 

The Best Times Are the Hard Ones

What if I told you, all of you who are just starting out as a self-published author or internet entrepreneur, that right now, when you are often frustrated, sometimes lost and occasionally pissed off, this is the best time in the life of your business?

“Karen, stop drinking,” would probably be your first response. And while I have been drinking more recently (holiday tradition) I’ve also been gob-smacked by the Universe with this message and compelled to share it.

It all started with Adele. In an interview she explained that her new hit, “Hello” is not about a couple or lost love, it’s her talking to the girl she was a few years ago before, as she says, “the world fell at our feet.” When you listen to the lyrics from this perspective you hear someone who isn’t unhappy to have found success (on a mass scale in her case) but someone who fondly remembers being young and free and hungry for the fame she now has.

Once the song got me thinking I started to see the same theme everywhere. The end of the year is a time for reviewing and reminiscing. It seemed like every TV show I watched or podcast I listened to was waxing nostalgic for the past–be it a year, a decade, or just the past in general. Over and over I heard people sharing stories about their trials and hurdles and how they overcame them. What I heard in all those stories was a deep sense of pride for the ah-ha moments when they found solutions and for persevering. I heard a lot of funny stories about working together and forming bonds over late night deadlines, sparsely-funded road trips to meet potential buyers and three-person staff meetings over a five-dollar pizza. It seemed like everyone who had “made it” missed some of the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants excitement of their early years.

It was definitely a message I needed to hear. I tend to focus on my next challenge, what I still need to do, how far I am from where I want to be. I forget to stop and look around me and note where I am now, how far I’ve come already and the really great people I’m meeting along the way. I’m currently struggling to create my 8-novella series. The two novels I’ve already published (link here) had been percolating in my mind for years before I got the stories down on paper. When I did start writing I was able to complete each one in a few months.

Vivienne’s story is newer, revealing itself as I write (and rewrite). I’m proud of what I have so far but it has been ten times harder to produce. There are definitely days that I wonder if I’ve bitten off too much. Book eight feels too far away for me to even picture. The trick I’ve discovered on those days is to project forward and pretend that all eight novellas are completed, published to great reviews and solid sales. If I look back on today and see my frustration as part of the process I feel better. I feel less like I’m spinning my wheels and making little progress.

In other words, the trick is to see now from the other side.

As we all gear up for 2016, working to grow our businesses and create our art, take a minute today to appreciate where you are now. Journal your hopes and dreams, challenges and fears. Appreciate how much all those drive you to keep going and do better, that way when you get there you can stop briefly and rest on your laurels then jump into a new challenge knowing you’re ready to enjoy the process of getting there all over again.

Now open a tab for YouTube, que up Adele’s “Hello” and sing to the struggling you as loud as you can.

In the Middle of a Dream

Last night I had one of those moments where I realized I was in the middle of a dream.  The best thing was, I wasn’t asleep.  I was working.  

I did my first interview as a writer last night.  The lovely Kristen from the Pretty Little Pages blog sent me a list of questions about me and my book and I got to spend a few hours crafting my answers.  It was a blast.  I had to consult with two of my best friends on a dream cast if (when?) my book is made into a movie.  I can’t imagine any “job” where you could have more fun at work than that.  **The interview will be on the blog on June 2nd – but I’ll put notices all over FB and Twitter.

I also created a rafflecopter for another blog review that will happen on June 1st on the Bookish Babe website.  The reviewer, Andrea, is one of the incredible people I have met on my chaotic journey into self-publishing.  I follow her on Twitter and enjoy not only her reviews, but her tweets about her life in general. 

The last thing I did before bed was reply to an email from Alex Stargazer.  He’s also a new self-published author and we met through our mutual cover designer, Deranged Doctor Designs. Alex and I have formed our own indie writers gang (we’re working on a gang sign) where we help each other through the maze of marketing, publicity, and now piracy. (He let me know his e-book was pirated – boo hiss. Torrenting is stealing!) But with each other our offices of one have expanded and we will recruit other authors into our gang in the future. (With some kind of bad ass initiation, I’m sure).

Somewhere in the middle of all this I realized that I was living a life that I had only dreamed about at one point in time.  I’m in my dream … and it rocks!  I’m doing work that is so incredibly fun, it doesn’t feel like work. I’m connecting with people through my writing and that is a high that I can’t even begin to describe.  For me, that’s what keeps me writing, pushing past stuck spots and working to create the best story and characters I can.  

I’m not writing today, but not because I’ve given up.  I actually had a great day of writing yesterday.  I’ve got a lot of errands to run on a BEAUTIFUL Friday, but one is getting an hour and 1/2 massage, a birthday gift from my husband.  

At one point in time I dreamed of this; being a writer, getting good reviews, connecting with readers.  I’m sure I was sitting in a cubicle somewhere thinking that it was a nice dream, but unlikely to come true. But now that I’m in it, I can say it feels even better than I imagined.