Meet Vivienne: A smart,sexy, boss babe heroine

I loved Bridget Jones’s Diary. It was a cheeky nod to the ups and downs of being a modern single woman but throughout the story I kept wanting Bridget to be just a little less bumbling, a little sharper, and a lot less interested in her boss, who did not deserve her attention. I wanted her to represent the best that women can be while also being real, having struggles, and overcoming them.

My frustration with that story was just one of the catalysts for my latest series, The Vivienne Series. I wanted to read more books about modern, career women, but I wanted the woman to represent the new breed of boss babes and girl bosses–sharp women who, while not perfect, generally have their shit together. These are women who know their skills and their value. They work hard and reap the rewards.

The heroine of my seven-book series is that woman. She’s uber-organized, knows what she wants and has no fear about going after it. But if that was the whole story it would be, well, dull at best. She wins, knew she would from page one…yawn.

So just like in real life, it’s those exact traits that make Vivienne’s love life and sometimes her work life, chaos. Knowing all the answers isn’t always easy when others don’t want your help and advice. And to this that our girl, Viv, is an introvert. She’s quiet (because she’s thinking) but that makes her easy to overlook in a world full of center-of-attention extroverts. When  opportunity comes knocking this heroine has to fight her fears and figure out a way to make life in the fast lane work for someone who prefers quiet, steady and predictable.

Book one is titled Fearless Flying. (It’s a nod to Fear of Flying, Erica Jong’s 1973 groundbreaking novel that featured a blatantly sexual woman.) The title also refers to Vivienne’s job, a secretary at a private jet manufacturer. It’s a high pressure job at an exciting company that she handles with grace and ease. I love this industry as a setting because it’s generally male dominated and it puts her in touch with the rich and famous.

I’ll be releasing Fearless Flying this July but you can sign up to get a FREE copy before the official publication date. Follow this link and let me know what email address you would like me to send it to. I’ll also keep you updated on my progress on the series, give you some behind the scenes info, as well as information about what I’ll be working on next.

So, let’s talk about chick lit, women’s fiction, whatever you want to call it. What’s your favorite and why? Share in the comments below.

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Why I’m no longer satisfied working for someone else and what I did about it.

For the past nine years I’ve been an Instructor for a major university. It’s been a fantastic ride. I’ve worked part-time, often from home, doing something I love. But times, they are a changing. Like so many industries higher education is having to reorganize, revise and restructure to try to keep pace with post-internet society. The result has been chaos. Seems the Titanic can’t turn on a dime and I may have been thrown overboard in the process. As the need for Instructors has dwindled I’ve had fewer and fewer contracts. I’ve been sitting by the phone like some spurned prom date, waiting for it to ring, until I finally got sick of it. Luckily I’ve developed a strong entrepreneurial bent in midlife so I’ve taken matters into my own hands.

End of JobsIn his book “The End of Jobs” (my latest read, review coming soon) Taylor Pearson examines this exact scenario. My job is ending. But the book isn’t a doomsday dissertation, it’s theme isn’t “be afraid, very afraid.” The theme is “wake up, pay attention, there are opportunities out there. Go get em.” I felt this way before I heard Taylor speak on Joanna Penn’s podcast “The Creative Penn” but he gave me the numbers to back up my theory and the cheer leading I needed to get started.

So what am I doing about my lack of teaching contracts? I’m teaching. This April I am joining together with another local self-published author to teach anyone interested how to self publish and how to market your self published books so you can actually sell a few. It’s a process I learned the hard way and I’d like to save others some of my frustration.

I can’t tell you how good it feels to be proactive. I’m juiced. I can’t relate to any of the Monday-sucks memes because I I love any day I make progress toward making this happen. I can’t wait to teach again. I feel like I’m flipping the bird to my absent prom date and going off to create my own dance. And it’s a hundred times more fun! I get to make it mine. I no longer have to worry that the energy and passion I’m investing might be for naught, overlooked on some annual evaluation.

Ok, so the downside, because there is one. I will not make as much in my first year as I did when I was getting one contract after another. But I will make more than if I continued to wait for another contract or if I spun my wheels hoping another University isn’t in the same boat (I’ve looked, they are.) I might not make as much in year two, possibly year three, but eventually I will. And in the mean time I will be a much happier person. I’ll no longer beat my head against the wall in frustration over inane rules and endless red-tape and paperwork. Being in control, having agency, is one of the greatest thrills in life. Another is making a difference in the lives of others. I’m killing both those birds with this stone.

And creating my own classes is only the beginning of creating my brand, my own multiple-income business. This is another theme favored by Joanna Penn, Taylor Pearson and scores of other forward-thinking people because the other huge drawback to working for someone else is the reality of no income when they say good bye. Without a back up source of income it can be devastating, life altering. For many this is the catalyst that propels them into the world of international e-commerce. It was my line in the sand. When I first published I  was still getting contracts and working them. I may still get more, but in the mean time I’m going to keep moving toward self-sufficiency, agency to make my own destiny.

Let me finish by not only encouraging others to read Taylor’s book and figure out their own path in a “jobless” world, but also give you a few resources I’ve found that make this trip so much easier and more fun. It turns out that many of these new e-entrepreneurs also want to help others have the success they do. For the price of a search you can find ideas and support galore. Here are a few of my favorites:

Marie Forleo – Her Marie TV channel on YouTube has over 200,000 subscribers because she delivers sound business advice in an upbeat, sometimes silly, manner.

Danielle LaPorte – Not only is she a business woman with multiple income streams to emulate, on her website she shares her philosophy, successes and failures in a very real way. She’s a fantastic example of succeeding by being yourself.

Sarah Morgan (XO Sarah) – When I add fantastic business advice pins to my Chick in Charge Pintrest board they often come from XO Sarah. Follow her on Pintrest and you will find answers to all your e-commerce questions presented in an organized, easy-to-use fashion. She’s my number one source for badass blogging advice.

Joanna Penn – As I mentioned her podcast, The Creative Penn is where I find not only great advice from a fellow author but guests, like Taylor Pearson, who help me keep growing and learning and motivated.

So who’s with me? Let’s do this midlife (or earlier) end-of-jobs thing together. I’d love to hear about your journey into being an entrepreneur or your hopes and dreams to do so. Comment below with your story or your favorite resources.

**Anyone in the Memphis area who is interest in my self-publishing class can follow this link to my FB page. I’ll be posting sign up information there soon.

 

 

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.

A Magic Muse Circle

One way I keep up with the publishing industry is by listening to podcasts about it when I’m in mom-taxi mode. My most recent find is “The Beautiful Writers Podcast” featuring Danielle LaPorte and Linda Silversten (link here). They’ve had some really big-name authors on and grilled them about their writing process, inspirations, and generally ways that make it all work.

Martha Beck was the guest I listened to today. She had a lot of insights and fantastic ideas, but the one that really struck me was how she gets inspired to write–she reads. I wrote a post not long ago about my reluctance to read fiction when I’m writing. I worry that another author’s voice will suddenly show up in my work. Then I read “The Siren” by Tiffany Reisz. I fell in love with her writing style and her strong, complex female lead character, Nora Sutherlin. Reading “The Siren” (then “The Angel” and “The Prince”) actually strengthened my writing. The main character of the Vivienne Series that I’m currently working on is a smart, strong woman, but after reading Tiffany Reisz’s work I saw how I could make her more complex and stretch my writing in new ways.

This past week I discovered Victoria Dahl. I was completely blown away by her latest book “Harlot“. The topic pulled me in. I’ve been fascinated by prostitutes on the American frontier ever since we spent time in Tucson. The book is sexy, in my opinion much sexier that most erotica I’ve read, because the sex scenes are about so much more that tab A meeting slot B. They aren’t repetitious descriptions of how hot and hung the guy is. Her sex scenes are nuanced and multi-layered, incorporating each characters past. Each motion means something and revels more about the characters and further develops their relationship. I loved it so much I’ve spent this weekend reading two more of her books and I’m more enthralled with her writing than ever. Her modern heroines in “Looking for Trouble” and “Flirting with Disaster” are boldly sexual but don’t limit themselves to being defined by their sexuality. They have full lives that include great sex but they don’t immediately toss those lives away when the male leads appear. Reading Victoria Dahl keeps my head in the strong, independent woman mode I need to write Vivienne.

So you might be thinking that reading other authors while writing is nothing new. I agree, but Martha Beck takes it one step farther. She’s created her own tribe of writers who inspire her and who she turns to when she needs a spark. She calls it her magical tribe. Magical because several of her writers are long dead and hence cannot be contacted in person and magical because she calls on this group when she needs illumination and each time she finds what she needs–the passage or quote that sheds light on whatever creative roadblock is standing in her way–like magic.

I love this concept so I decided to create my own magic tribe, my muse circle. These are writers who I will turn to when my creative flame needs some fanning. My own magic tribe would have to include Tiffany Reisz, Victoria Dahl, Elizabeth Gilbert, Lavinia Collins, Diana Gabaldon, and Danielle LaPorte. For some historic spice I’m adding Anais Nin. We’ll meet often, anytime I need a reminder of how to write a strong, complex, sexual female character. The coolest thing about my group is that each of these women somehow appeared on my radar exactly when I needed them. I found their writings when I needed to hear their precise message, told in their unique way–like magic.

Do you have a muse circle? Who do you turn to when you’re stuck for inspiration? If you were going to create a magic muse circle who would you include? Comment below and share the writers who inspire you to be a better writer.