10 Reasons You Want to Live Like Viv

Who is Viv? And why would you want to live like her? 

Because Vivienne Ramsey is the heroine of the Vivienne Series (coming this winter). She’s the unlikely introvert who works her way to the top of the very glamourous, male-dominated private plane industry. This sweet, quiet, girly-girl flies past the competition, dodging the diversion of love along the way. 

Seriously, everyone wants to live like Viv because….

You can follow my progress on the series on Facebook and Pintrest or watch for #LiveLikeViv on Twitter. Click here to join the email list you will also get advanced notice of the publication date and an incredible gift on publication day. 

Where the Smart, Sexy, Supportive Women Are

I had a revelation about tribe when I read the above quote; I can choose my own tribe. By using the internet I can chose the five (or more) people who I want to spend the most time with. 
The more I thought about this the more powerful the idea became. I started thinking about who I would want to hang out with every morning as I started my day. Danielle LaPorte was the first who came to mind. She’s a cool combination of smart business sense and sexy spirituality and I could really benefit from having coffee with her every morning. So I subscribed to her her daily Truthbombs (and you can too,here) and followed her on Pintrest and Twitter. Now she’s in my tribe. Boom, done!
I liked this idea and I was on a roll. Who else did I want in my tribe? Who’s thoughts did I want filling my head? Faith Popcorn, brilliant futurist? I subscribed to her newsletter and followed her on Facebook. Boom, done! Now I’m looking at my days with a savvy eye on the future. 
I didn’t have to stop there. I wanted more smart, sexy, supportive women in my tribe so I spent time seeking them out. Here’s a hint…they hang out together. My latest favorite podcast is Pushing Boundaries with T&A. I’m soaking up their ideas on women in general and sexuality in particular. They are a sociology geek’s dream. So, not only did I follow them, I followed the trail of the people they follow and followed along (are you following me here?) I spent hours finding a lot of women I would love to spend more time with and now I get to. 
I may never meet some of these women in person (but then again I might). My point is that whether I do or don’t I can benefit from surrounding myself with them. As I grow as an author and a person these are the women who’s ideas I want filling my head. I want my email inbox, Pintrest page, Facebook feed, and Tweets to be full of insights, cheerleading, sensuality, and spirituality.  The key is making a conscious choice about who you have in your tribe, deciding who will influence your view of the world based on where you want to go and who you want to be. 
I invite you to take a look at your influencers–who are they? What’s their message? Are they pointing you in the direction you want to go? Are these the people you want in your tibe? 
If you found this post helpful I’d love to be part of your tribe of supportive women. I post information about my writing, but also focus on the image of women in the media and women supporting women in business. You can follow my blog and find me on:

or my webpage: KarenGordonAuthor.com 

Pinning Your Character Down

Part of creating a new character is getting a clear image of him or her and the world they will inhabit. This is the first time I’ve used Pintrest for this task and I have to say I am really happy with the results. 

A few months ago, when the new series I’m writing was just a spark of an idea I found an article about creating secret boards on Pintrest and using them to park images and quotes that relate to a project, then reveal the board after you’ve had a chance to build it up. (If you don’t know about secret boards its cause they’re a secret. No, just kidding, here is a link.)

Since Pintrest has almost become my new Google, I started by searching for specific images, pinned those, then followed the links to similar boards and pins to find more inspiration. The result is a tab that I can keep open and review while I’m writing to keep me from getting off track and remind me of the essence of my character. 

The other bonus to pinning characters and novels is being able to un-secret the board and share your vision with potential readers. Which brings us to today, my big reveal… Vivienne. OK, that didn’t seem like much of a reveal, let me try that again. 

Today I present the star of my eight-book series coming in late 2015:

Click  HERE  to meet Vivienne.

Binge Packaging

I’ve lost all patience. I’m like a six-year-old waiting in line at Disney World. I want what I want and I want it now. The good thing is, I’m not alone. In fact I’m part of a new social trend called binging or as the television industry likes to call it marathoning (because that sounds so much healthier). No matter what you call it, it’s becoming the norm in television viewing and starting to spread into other forms of entertainment as well. 

If you are part of the 61% of Netflix viewers who have watched multiple episodes of a series back to back, then you are already part of this trend. Whether it’s streamed entertainment from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon or any other source, viewers are loving the idea of not waiting a week to find out what happens next. I admit, I love it too. I’ll get a recommendation from a friend for an older series and be able to watch two or three episodes at at time back to back when it’s convenient for me.

Netflix has been watching us watching them and they’ve figured out what we want. “Our viewing data shows that the majority of streamers would actually prefer to have a whole season of a show available to watch at their own pace,” said Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer of Netflix.  “Netflix has pioneered audience choice in programming and has helped free consumers from the limitations of linear television. Our own original series are created for multi-episodic viewing, lining up the content with new norms of viewer control for the first time.” (Source)  Netflix is one of the first, but surely not the last in the entertainment industry to jump on this new trend and cater to the consumer’s desires.

As an author, a provider of entertainment, I am ready to jump on this trend myself. I’m in the final planning stages of a new series that will consist of eight novella-length books. I spent a few frustrating hours this past week planning out my writing, editing and marketing schedule for each book. Once I release the first one, I want to keep them coming to keep my audience hooked on the story and the characters. My master plan of releasing one every other month quickly fell apart when I laid that plan over my family and paid-work calendars. But frustration is the mother of invention (or something like that). I remembered the popularity of binge consumption and revised my plans. 

Now I will be writing all eight novellas and releasing them simultaneously. It will take me the better part of 2015 to do the writing, but it will save time in the end. By concentrating solely on writing I will be able to focus my energy and not scatter myself multitasking; marketing one book while editing another and marketing a third. This format works for me. And the end product will hopefully be even more appealing to readers. They will have the option to purchase the books individually or all of them at once for a discounted price. I’ll call it the binge packing promotion. Additionally, I will be able to order all of my covers at once and editing, possibly garnering a discount for myself and I can use my marketing budget (both monetary and energy) for one huge campaign as opposed to eight smaller ones.

So writer and readers, I’d love your take on this new trend. Does binge packaging appeal to you as a reader? Do you like the idea of not having to wait for the next book in a series or do you like the anticipation? Writers, is the long break it would take to create a binge packaged series too long between books? Do you worry about being out of sight and out of mind with your readers for too long? Comment below and let’s talk binging.

The Myth of the Spinning Plates

 My email inbox was full of promise this morning. Then again it is almost every morning. Everyday I am bombarded with articles that offer solutions to my problems. And, these solutions, they will solve those problems permanently. Yep, I was just given the key to achieving better health by walking thirty minutes a day. I’ve been aiming for better health for years and I am so relieved that I can achieve this lofty (albeit relative) goal once and for all with a simple, quick solution. And it gets even better. By reading these articles I can also declutter my home for good and permanently lose that extra ten pounds by doing one simple trick. So why am I not jumping on these miracle solutions? I would be crazy not to make my life shear perfection in a matter of days. I’m not rushing to apply all these miracle solutions because I finally realized the myth of the spinning plates.

Do you remember the spinning plates act at the circus? The one where the girl starts a few plates spinning on top of slender poles, then goes on to add more and more plates on poles. They are usually all in a row and she must continually go back to the first few plates to give them a little nudge and keep them spinning while she continues to add plates. For the finale she stands there for a moment with all her plates spinning at the same time–but only for a moment.

 It’s the perfect metaphor for life. We set things in motion: jobs, family, home, hobbies, events, then we start the mad dash between them, keeping them spinning. At some point most of us discover that perhaps we’ve put a few too many plates in motion.They are wobbling all over the place and people are starting to notice. My personal plate is a little heavy around the middle, my house plate has a thick layer of dust, my kid’s plates are wearing mismatched colors and are smeared with chocolate. God forbid someone throw another plate at me like the committee I would hate to say no to. Let alone a day or two of illness that would keep me from being able to do the mad dash of plate spinning and bring on massive wobbling.

Once I got this metaphor I could also see the good news and the bad of this reality. Bad first (let’s get it over with). You will never permanently lose that last ten pounds. Your house will never be organized for good. You will never achieve perfect health. As humans we are constantly changing and therefore our plates are constantly changing. As my kids get older I have to physically care for them less (let that plate start to fall) but I’m now teaching them bigger life skills; like how to find and keep a job (finger’s crossed). I might be able to get one or two closets cleaned out and looking marvelous, but as I do this, new piles and messes are forming around my house. It’s part of four people with multiple interests living in one space. My youngest is taking up golf so now we add his golf bag and supplies next to his dad’s in an already-pack (but once organized) sport’s closet. 

The good news–these are your plates. You get to decide if you want to add a room-mother plate or just how decorated and fancy all the holiday plates need to be. If you back up and look at the big picture, that last ten pounds may not look like a priority in relation to all your other obligations. And they don’t have to be perfect. Let me repeat that. Your spinning plates don’t have to be perfect. They will wobble, they will get dirty, one or two may even fall, but you will survive. Even the girl at the circus can only hold on to the illusion of perfect for a moment.

Part of midlife is making peace with your plates. After years and years of working your ass off trying to achieve all-plate perfection, you throw up your hands and decide to allow them to wobble and you stop giving a damn who sees it. I’ve consciously decided to let a few plates fall (que the gasp.) Yes, I’ve broken the cardinal American rule of never, ever quitting. And in contrast to every motivational speech I’ve ever heard, I don’t feel worse. I don’t feel like a loser. I feel better, lighter, more in control of my life. That also freed up room for me to slowly add some new plates. Not ones that were randomly flung in my direction, but plates I lovingly chose because they dramatically added to the quality of my life. 

So how do you escape overwhelming plate spinning? Start with your inbox. Unsubscribe to all the empty promises and obligations you didn’t even know you had (Was your child’s party Pintrest worthy?). Take a good look at your current plate load. Are there any you can let go of? Can you also let go of the useless guilt that might come with that action? Once you’ve done that you can get all zen about the plates you still have in the air and embrace them as your ongoing, ever-changing life. Peace of mind comes from seeing through the myth of the spinning plates.

Vacations in Tomorrowland

Although I only became an authorpreneur a little over a year ago, I’ve been working from home by contract for the past eight years. It’s a sweet set-up if you know how to work it, but it took some trial and error to find a good balance of work, family and play in my life.

Take vacations for example, my family just returned from a week in Florida for spring break. These trips mean the world to me because we only have a few more with our teenage sons. It’s prime family time but for me it’s also work time.

When you’re your own boss your work goes with you everywhere.

That rankles some. It goes against the traditional idea of vacation where work is left behind to give you uninterrupted time to focus on your family and create fun memories. But after working this way for over eight years I argue that although the traditional idea of a vacation may no longer be an option for me, the replacement is just as good and possibly better.

The key to enjoying your working entrepreneur vacation is to let go of traditional notions of work days, weekends, home time and vacations. Because so much of society still functions on those concepts it can be hard at first. Moms working from home can feel the same guilt as those who work at an office. It’s the classic contradictory pull of family when you are engaged with work and work when you are engaged with your family. Reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey gave me my first spark of the idea of breaking my day into smaller chunks and integrating my work and home life. It took some trial and error. There were so many factors I could now incorporate into creating my ideal schedule–my kids’ schedules, the fact that I’m a morning person, the best days and times to grocery shop to avoid crowds, the best times for me to exercise, and my own style of working. What started as chaos has now become a relatively smooth running schedule that allows me to focus on those things that are important to me. I get to be the mom who never misses a school event. The concept of rush hour traffic is completely foreign to me now and my family never has to skip a trip somewhere because I don’t have enough vacation time saved up at work.

But yes, I am that woman, the one with her laptop at Disney, cranking out email replies over Mickey-shaped waffles at breakfast. From the outside it might look like I’m the work-obsessed entrepreneur unable to set my work aside and spend time with my family. But my family and I see a very different picture. They see my chunks of work time as downtime to play a video game or catch up with friends or do a guy thing that I have no interest in. We’ve all adjusted our idea of vacation to include chunks of play time interspersed with my work time.

Ironically while I was in work mode checking social media on this trip I ran across a fantastic article that confirmed my theory that the way I work is the wave of future.  Brilliant futurist, Faith Popcorn posted an article with her predictions for the shape of work in 2025, The Future of Work. She paints a somewhat scary but mostly exciting picture of successful people who use technology to manage multiple income streams and build a life that works for them. It not only confirmed the validity of my current work status, but sparked some great conversations in our family about what work and family and play might look like for our kids someday.

Running your own business while juggling home life isn’t easy. I have more things on my idea list than I could possibly complete, all of which need to be balanced with the work already in progress and dentist appointments, family reunions and the occasional wine and Nexflix marathon. But I’m making it work and focusing on the upsides because I’m building my business and at the same time I’m still making vacation memories with my family.

Bad Boy Burnout

One of the questions I get asked most often about Burnouts, Geeks & Jesus Freaks: a love story is who Ben is based on. Did I know a Ben in high school? (Answer: I wish). Ben is actually a combination of several men I know but the main idea for his character came from a case of bad-boy burnout.

A total Boy Scout who will steal your heart.

Bad boys have been standard fare in romance for a long time. The romance novels I read in high school were full of scoundrels and rogues who led sweet-innocents astray. I gave up on the genre around the time I started college. Fun reading was replaced with text books (I swear I did read some of them) and I got tired of the predictability of the novels. Before the days of self-publishing there were fewer choices and fewer retail outlets where you could find different options. If it wasn’t on the paperback shelf at Target, I probably didn’t read it in the 1980’s. 

But now we have options, tons of options. Not only do we have Amazon, but with the advent of the e-reader, it’s possible for local libraries to carry thousands more titles than their brick and motor buildings can hold. When I jumped back into romance reading a few years ago I started searching for the best novels that were published during my missing years. I found Outlander and Twilight then 50 Shades of Grey and Beautiful Disaster. I was devouring these and loving them. Internet searches also brought me the “If you loved (name of book) then try…” lists. So if I loved 50 Shades of Grey then I will love This Man or Bared to You. Ummm, no. That’s where I hit a wall. For me the follow-up novels were way too close to the original.  I felt like I was reading the same story but with different character names.  I tried other suggestions and kept running into more and more bad boys, who were starting to feel more like colossal a-holes.

But frustration is a good thing for a writer. The more I hated the “heros” I was finding the more I wanted to create my own.  I was dying to read about a smart guy who was going somewhere in life. I wanted a story where there wasn’t a “good girl” out to save some misogynistic loser–so I wrote it. 

Ben was created to turn the current standard for romance writing around. He is the antithesis of the previaling bad boy. He is smart and geeky and driven. And like most real people his assets are also his deficits. He is also a controlling, rigid perfectionist. The final piece I added to make him real was that he was a virgin, but sexual. Logic tells me that just because a teenage boy isn’t having sex doesn’t mean it isn’t on his mind, a lot. Burnouts, Geeks & Jesus Freaks is a broody, angsty, bad-boy free zone. 

So, how about you? What type of romance books are you drawn to? Have you reached bad-boy burnout or are you ready for more? Who is the best hero you’ve read lately? Comment below and let me know.