Let’s Soar!

It’s release day for book 5 in The Vivienne Series. Soaring starts where book 4 left off, with Vivienne meeting Evan O’Donnell, possibly the perfect match for the over-thinking, quirky heroine. But this is Viv’s high-flying, crazy life where almost nothing goes as planned. Just when geek-love is starting to spark, life throws a very enticing curve-ball Viv’s way.

Does a self-professed control freak stick with sweet and solid or roll the dice on wild passion?

Find out, grab your copy now > http://a.co/5B1JbGP

Or, if you are a KINDLE UNLIMITED member, you can read the entire series for FREE!!

Soaring_Karen_Gordon_ebook_s

Fearless Flying–Sneak Peek

I’m finally putting the finishing touches on Fearless Flying, the first book in The Vivienne Series. To whet your appetite I wanted to give you a sample chapter–a chance to meet Viv and peek into her (very orderly) world.

Remember that you can get a FREE e-copy of Fearless Flying by clicking here and letting me know where you want me to send it. For right now enjoy chapter 1. Goodreads members be sure to add it to your TBR!


Chapter One

 I can count the number of guys I’ve slept with on one hand. I can count the number of guys I’ve wanted to sleep with on one finger. And that man is on his way to my apartment right now. Ironically, if I end up having sex with Danny tonight I have my dad to thank, or blame, depending on how this goes.

It’s 4:05 and the chime on my electronic meat thermometer dings. Perfect. Danny will be here at 4:15 so that gives the roast beef ten minutes to rest before I need to serve it. I do another walk through of my tiny apartment for a final confirmation of the details of my plan of seduction.

Pecan pie warming on the stove top and combining with the roast for the perfect scent—check.

Tools necessary for removing and storing the window A/C unit lying next to it—check.

Pristine linen sheets replaced with Walmart cheepie sheets that I am willing to have sex on—check.

My heart is racing a little but ten years of anticipation will do that to you. I check myself in the full length mirror in my bedroom one more time. Even I have to admit, I’ve nailed this outfit. My new jeans keep it casual, but have strategically placed seems and fading to highlight all my curves. My ass could turn me on in these. My tee shirt looks like I just threw it on, but I shopped for an hour online for this specific one—it’s a little sheer, hangs off one shoulder, and highlights the blue lacy bra underneath. And even through my toes are freezing on the hardwood floor I’m barefoot to show off my shell-pink Pedi. My feet are one of my best features; no way I’m hiding them today. If all goes as planned I can warm them under Danny’s gorgeous muscular legs during our post-sex snuggle.

I grab the tousle spray from the bathroom cabinet and primp my perfectly-styled messy beach waves one last time. Good luck resisting me now Danny. You’re going to need it.

At 4:15 I hear the buzzer from the building’s front door announcing his punctual arrival. I knew it. Danny doesn’t do late. He was never late one day in the eight years that my dad was his boss. Yes, his reliability is one of the reasons I crave this man. I buzz him in and use the two minutes it will take him to climb the stairs to my apartment to pull the roast from the oven and tent it with the waiting piece of foil.

I try to suppress my smile as I open the door. I’m keeping it casual. Like he’s just Danny moving my air conditioner to storage, not my undying crush finally ready for me.

He is definitely looking laid back, leaning on the door frame, hands in his jean’s pockets, looking at the floor. He looks up and shifts the tooth pick to the other side of his mouth, drawing my attention (once again) to how damn full his lips are. I swear I’m already wet and he hasn’t even said a word.

Then he does. “Roast?”

I regain my composure and nod. “Yep.”

He takes a deep breath in and launches himself off the door frame. “Pecan pie too?”

“Yep.”

And he lets out a long frustrated sigh.

     What? NO! Not this. Not again.

He walks over to the window and starts to pull the air conditioner from its perch. It’s wedged tightly into the ancient window frame and puts up a fight. I silently thank it for making this harder for him. In muted distress I watch him as he takes a screwdriver from my tool kit and uses it to push the frame back where it has embedded itself into the unit. After replacing the screwdriver in its correct slot (Do you see why he is perfect for me?), he shifts his weight back, stretches his impeccably muscular arms around the machine and heaves. I can’t help but marvel at the way his shoulder muscles flex then settle as he leans the old hundred-plus pound thing against his chest.

He looks at me, but only to get my attention, then nods toward the door. “Let’s go.”

My weak smile can’t hide my disappointment. Surely he must see that I anticipated and want more than this.

I open the door to my apartment then walk ahead of him down the three flights of steps to the basement storage area. He’s not even trying to make small talk–not asking about my job or my new car. This is worse than I thought.

I admit I knew there was a chance he would turn me down, but I weighted it as a slight chance. He could still be getting over his divorce, but it’s been over a year. She left him. How long can he mourn the loss of the stupid, wussy woman? I’ve written off his reluctance to let her go to the fact that she has their son. That’s the only reason I can see for him not moving on to someone better, someone who won’t bail at the first sign of trouble, someone with a backbone—

Someone like me.

I fumble with the padlock on the door of my storage locker. I probably should have had it unlocked already so he wouldn’t have to stand there holding the A/C unit, but I didn’t want to leave it unlocked for too long and I did not plan on him doing this right away. My roast and pie were supposed to work their magic and slow this project down so it would last until morning, or at least a few hours.

With the lock finally off I open the door and step aside for him to enter the tiny room. I fight the urge to lock him in there and hold him until he wakes up and notices what is right in front of him.

“I didn’t ask you to do this, you know.”

He sets the unit down with a grunt and turns to me. “I know.” He dusts off his hands and walks past me as I shut and lock the door.

“I had already made a deal with the maintenance guy to do this for me.”

He starts back up the stairs ahead of me. “Yeah, well your dad asked me to come over here and do this, so here I am. You’re welcome.”

     God-damn it. I did sound ungrateful, but this was about so much more than the air conditioner. “I made you dinner to thank you.”

We reach the landing with the building’s front door and he turns toward it. I can’t let him go yet. I need to have this out now. “You’re not staying for dinner?”

“Can’t. I’ve got to go to work.”

     Puhleeese. What a lame bull-shit lie. I know where he works, I know his hours, and I know that he doesn’t have to go back to work tonight. His shift ended at three and he’s not wearing his work uniform. “Did you change shifts?”

“No, but I’ve got to go.” He makes a move for the door and I block him.

The war of anger and embarrassment and pain in my head has me at a loss for words. I open my mouth to speak but I’m afraid of what might come out. I needed time to process this and formulate my response. For once I have no plan B. I didn’t plan on failing this spectacularly. All I can think to do is kill him with kindness. “Take the pie at least. I can wrap it up and you can share it with the other guys on your crew.”

“Not tonight.” He moves toward the door again. I block him again.

“Danny, I…”

“Vivey, I told your dad I would come over here and help you move your air conditioner. That’s all he asked me to do and that’s all I’m going to do.” He reaches out and touches my arm as if the contact would somehow lessen the blow. “I…,” He checks his watch. “I gotta go. I’m gonna be late.”

He pushes past me, his size and warmth momentarily engulfing me, his Irish Spring scent lingering in his wake as he passes by me. He doesn’t look back as he descended the stairs then gets on a motorcycle illegally parked on the sidewalk. When did he get a motorcycle? He guns the engine, checks for pedestrians and cars and pulls out onto Drayton Street heading toward downtown.

I’m not sure how long I stand there, recovering from the shock of that short, excruciating brush-off. I had an armory of temptation ready in my apartment and he ran after he caught a whiff of my first shot. I shut the door tightly and check that the handle has locked. I love this apartment and this neighborhood, but I’m not stupid enough to not be aware of its dangers.

On my way up the stairs I pull my phone from my back pocket to call Dom who’s on standby, waiting for her BFF sex summary. She answers, “So soon? Jesus he’s quick on the draw.”

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.

Rocking Sales As An Introvert Entrepreneur

Would you hire an introvert to sell your eighty million dollar airplanes? Aren’t introverts too shy and quiet to be in sales? Is it possible for introverts to succeed as entrepreneurs if they have to go out and sell their ideas?

I love these questions because they lead to myth-busting. As an introvert, entrepreneur and writer I get to create a character who shows that the exact traits that some see as a detriment to selling are what can make introverts rock stars in sales.

I’m currently writing book five in this seven book series which features Vivienne Ramsey, a quiet, hard-working, super-organized young woman who climbs to the top of the private jet sales industry by using her introvert traits. It wasn’t hard to image how it could happen. Her transition from a secretary to jet sales might surprise her and some others but I knew she could do it from the beginning. (It helps when you’re the writer ;-)).

The idea for the story came from my  own business experiences. I’ve failed at a few sales jobs. I was hired to work commission sales in a boutique dress shop and was run over by all the more outgoing sales staff. I tried opening a home-party based business where I had to call on all my friends and family and their friends and family and so on, and so on. A year after starting my manager was still trying to explain to me how easy it is to approach women in the grocery store to discuss their make-up and set them up for a party. I thought there was something wrong with me because I felt so uncomfortable doing it. It took me a long time to figure out that it wasn’t that I couldn’t sell, it was that those particular types of sales were not where I could shine.

Cold calling isn’t an introverts best skill but there are a lot of business that require no cold calling and rely on strong, long-term relationships to make sales. This is where introverts shine. This is how my character, Vivienne, is selling the hell out of those jets (at 1% commission on eighty million–you do the math). Vivienne is quiet, not because she has nothing to say, but because she loves to study people. She learns a lot about her clients by keeping her mouth shut and letting them do the talking. She has no problem keeping the spotlight on them because introverts naturally don’t like to be the center of attention. Once she knows what they need she follows through on every detail, often giving them more information than they even asked for. Finally jet sales in particular lets her shine because she is a female in a very male-dominated field. Introverts are used to being the odd man out and Vivienne knows how to work this to her advantage. She brings all the traits that her male, extroverted competition doesn’t have.

As the story progresses Vivienne is learning more about herself and about the skills she’s naturally great at and those she will always struggle with. In the scene I wrote yesterday she is attending her first business lunch as a female entrepreneur. The pre-lunch social hour is a struggle, but once she is in a smaller group, during the meal, she listens and learns that all the women at her table struggle with some aspect of their business. No entrepreneur can be good at all parts of running a business and these women remind her that its smarter to  hire someone to do the things you can’t.

Ironically (or maybe not because introverts are intuitive) I got a perfect infographic this week about introverts in sales from the lovely and charming Emily Parker. I’m sharing it with you because it’s a concise visual that explains exactly why Vivienne is a quiet honey who is makin the money.

Introverts in Sales
Source: CollegeMatchup.net

Introvert entrepreneurs, share your sales stories. Have you found a way to make your introversion work for you? Reply in comments below and help others see all the ways being the quiet one can be a benefit.

And keep an eye out for Vivienne. I’ll be publishing the first book in the series, “Fearless Flying” in a few months. I’m working on some covers and writing all the way to the end of her fantastic journey so I can release the rest of the series quickly.

 

 

 

 

6 Things To Ask Yourself Before You Become The Chick in Charge

I’ve pointed out in the past that I pretty much had no idea what I was doing when I hit publish on my first book. I mean, I managed to get it up on Amazon but beyond that I was delusional, believing that books sell themselves, that all I had to do was bring my product to market and the rest would be riding the gravy train. (I’ll pause for a minute for all the authors out there to finish laughing.)

It didn’t take long to realize I had not only become a published writer but I had also unknowingly launched my own business; a business that exists in a market that I didn’t understand and requires skills that I did not have. If I had to do it over again I would because I’m actually really enjoying this process, but there’s definitely a few things I wish I would have thought through first.

Most of this occurred to me as I was reading Taylor Pearson’s article, “Why Product Market Fit is Overrated (and what to focus on instead).” In it he hit on several key points that I think a lot of women don’t factor in when they start a business, especially one with very low start up costs. It’s so easy to jump in the game that we often don’t exactly know what game we are jumping into.

Once my book was out there I started to look for blogs who might review it and I was shocked by the sheer number of self-published romance authors. Do you know your market? —the number of people in it and how those people were doing business? Most of us start with the idea stage, we’ve got a cool product, then skip the research and take the leap. In hindsight this is both good and bad. On one hand we don’t know what we are up against so we are more likely to take the leap, but not knowing can also make the first few years so much more frustrating. No matter what the business its always wiser to do the research first, not necessarily to squelch your dream but to give you a better idea of what will be involved in working in that field. Even for home franchise business (like selling makeup or kitchen goods at home parties), it’s good to know how many other vendors of the same line are in your area then look at their online presence.

I didn’t ask, is this business a good fit for my life? I’m a mom first, a job that I’m slowly being phased out of, but one I still hold at least part-time (sometimes full time). Running a business, especially in the first couple years can be time consuming. Everything is new to you. I’ve spent countless hours reading how-to books and articles and listening to podcasts so I can learn more about my business. So far I’ve made it fit, squeezing writing time in between driving my kids around and dealing with standard teenage issues, but there are times I’m cramming in a blog post or rushing to meet a deadline, burning the midnight oil to make it all work.

Another part of not knowing the business in advance was not asking what will I be doing on a daily basis? Being a self-published author is half writing but also half marketing, especially online. This is another area where ignorance may have worked in my favor because I’m not naturally drawn to social media. I’m much more of a lurker than a poster, preferring to see what everyone else is doing and keeping my own rather dull life out of the spotlight. That has changed. I still don’t take photos of my meals to post them but I’ve worked to steadily to remember to include others in my business life; what I’m working on or my latest passion (hello, Taylor Pearson and End of Jobs), generally sharing my journey (like this post!) It’s probably the hardest and most unexpected part of being an author for me.

Do I know my audience? It’s another important factor to consider when deciding if a business is right for you. Social media and marketing becomes so much easier if you know who you are trying to reach. You need to understand and relate to their problems if you are going to solve them with your product. As Taylor Pearson points out, one of his business ventures failed because despite the fact that it was a hot market he didn’t really understand the needs of the clients.

Equally important is, do I know at least ten people in the industry? The old saying, “it’s who you know” still holds true. It’s vital to be involved in your industry, even better if you do this before you hang your “open for business” sign. You are going to have millions of questions (not exaggerating here) and you will need several people to turn to for answers. Being connected also helps you to know industry changes, something that can change almost daily in self-publishing. It’s never too early (or too late) to get involved with industry groups.

The most concise and profound question from Taylor’s article is: “How do you want to spend the next four years of your life?” Because your answers to the questions above will show you what it will be like to spend the next couple years building a business. No matter how prepared you are there is a steep learning curve, and you will be deeply invested, emotionally and financially in making your business work. The more you know about it before you start the better.

One final note, while I now realize that I jumped blindly into my business and I’m paying the price, running to catch up, it’s never too late to ask these questions and in doing so improve your current outlook and knowledge. You will never get it all exactly right. Part of the fun (?) is learning and growing and challenging yourself.

So I’m asking any Chicks in Charge to share their story. How prepared were you to start your business? How has that affected your business? What do you wish you knew in advance? Share in the comments below so maybe we can help other women entrepreneurs learn from our mistakes–pay it forward.

 

The End of Being Chicken Sh*t or Why I Self-Published

To celebrate my 50th birthday I jumped out of an airplane, got a tattoo and self-published my first novel. Of the three, publishing was by far the scariest but they were all part of my midlife journey, my campaign to live my life differently, more deliberately, for the second fifty years (give or take a few).

The night before my skydive a friend asked me why I was doing it. I told her that I couldn’t live as a chicken shi*t any longer. There were so many things that I feared, irrationally, at that time. I was scared to death of heights, but I knew that statistically skydiving was pretty safe. I was scared to do much of anything permanent, because I was scared of making a mistake and scared of regret. My tattoo is permanent and a constant reminder that I can trust my gut and the choices I make for myself.

And I was scared to death of anyone knowing me, who I really was, what was in my heart. Writing “Burnouts, Geeks & Jesus Freaks: a love story” was me leaning into that fear and pushing past it. It was me giving it the finger and saying that maybe I did have something to offer.

At first I was defensive of my writing and the topic, young love. But reviews told me that a lot of people really enjoyed reading the book because it mirrored their own high school experience and they loved reliving it. I began to apologize and back peddle less and own it. I showed up at writers groups and proclaimed that I write romance.

Other fantastic changes also happened when I hit publish. I was forced out of my very small world. I had to interact with other authors and ask tons of questions because I was so incredibly lost. I met amazing friends, people who are stoked about life and writing and helping others reach their dreams. My world expanded and filled up with great people. And I reconnected with others from my past. They read my book and contacted me to say they liked it and played the guessing game of who from our high school inspired certain scenes or characters.

A few days after publishing I created some flyers and carried them around with me (because I was still too chicken to ask to hang them). I had lunch at a local coffee shop and my friend/editorial goddess, Chrissy, pushed me to ask to hang one on the bulletin board. I can still remember how I described my book, with a long list of everything it wasn’t and a promise that the owner didn’t need to read it if she didn’t want to. Leanne, the owner of Pinks coffee shop is one of those really sharp, funny people who read people well. She welcomed my flyer (it’s still there now!) and read my book and recommended it to others. I have lunch there frequently because the food it really good and the coffee and hanging around Leanne reminds me how far I’ve come. I tell her all my writing plans now and I’m open to having a book signing party when I publish the Vivienne series in a few months, something that sounded absolutely painful two years ago.

This past Wednesday, February 4th, was my two year writing anniversary. I realize that in some ways two years isn’t a lot. I hope its the start of a very long career. But I’m commemorating it to celebrate just how far I’ve come. My bravery level is through the roof compared to back then. I do things daily that I would have been absolutely traumatic to the old me. Right now I am planning to teach a class on self-publishing locally starting in April. Going through all the steps to make this happen I still feel fear–fear of failure, fear of rejection. But I’m not the chicken shi*t I was in my 40’s because even if I am afraid, I do it anyway. I tell the negative voices in my head to shut the F up and I do it. And it feels amazing, life-affirming, crazy powerful. I’m pushing forward, past my fears because I want others to get a chance to feel the same thing.

I’m going to end with a quote from one of those amazing, stoked, life-affirming people I’ve discovered along the way. Danielle LaPorte creates Truthbombs, daily smart thoughts. This was one from the other day, yet another that nailed exactly what I was feeling. If you like it you can subscribe to them here.

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Powerful Introvert Marketing: Collaboration

I don’t know about all other introverts, but I hate being the center of attention. My wedding was torture! I seriously wanted to stop the service and ask everyone to just talk to each other and stop looking at me. So you can imagine how difficult promoting myself is. The idea of contacting people I don’t know but would like to (double whammy unnerving) and then telling them about my writing (triple whammy) then asking them to read it and review or promote it in some way (we’re up to quad whammy now) is crazy hard for me. I’ve done it, but I’m sure I came off as the awkward, quivering fool that I felt like.

I’ve tried all sorts of ways to market my books with some success, but I know I could do better. Ironically, I’ve discovered a way to reach people, the movers and shakers I want to know, and do it in a way that I am completely comfortable with; I can do it with ease when I promote other people.

Twice recently opportunities have fallen into my lap where I wanted to tell the world about someone else’s work and how it influenced me in a positive way.

The first was a very cool lady who calls herself The Suburban Monk. She created the adorable smiling, thumbs-up Buddha statue shown above. I ordered two recently and she accidentally double sent my order (because she is a business owner who truly cares about her customers!) When she realized her mistake she told me to keep and share the extra two. My mind immediately went to doing a giveaway through my blog because I wanted to share my windfall and let others know about my little Syd (that’s his name) statue and how much it makes me smile. So, if you would like to win a perriwinkle or purple Syd, please follow this link to my Facebook page and enter to win him! Tell your friends and family to sign up too. I gotta tell you it’s hard not to smile every time you look at him. He comes in a bunch of cool colors so if you want gold or orange or another color check out her site.

The second opportunity came when an author I love and follow all over social media grabbed on to last week’s post on strong, silent women and added to it. I mentioned Lavinia Collins in my post so she read it (but that’s not why I mentioned her). As a history scholar she then wrote a post on her blog that added to mine. Here’s a link. If you are a history buff or feminist it is a must read. I can’t tell you how amazing it felt to connect with another author and work off each other. For introverts, collaboration feels fantastic. The chance to shine along with another person feels so much better than being alone in a spotlight. My mind is still awash with places I want to share our combined article. I’m stoked to promote it in a way I would never be if it was me alone.

Since we are talking about marketing here, lets look at the nitty gritty–will I sell any books because of these two events? Truth–I have no idea and that really isn’t my point. Then how can it be marketing, you say. It is marketing because it’s a chance for me to meet new people and connect with them. I truly believe that people buy from people they know and like. So maybe some of the people I meet through these others will decide to look up my books. I’m listed everywhere as Karen Gordon, Author and hopefully it’s easy to find my books. If not, they may remember me when they are looking for a book in the future or want to recommend one to a friend. It’s not direct marketing, it’s not aggressive, it’s probably the very slow way around, but it works for me. I’m having a fantastic time. I’m juiced up about promoting others and my excitement is genuine. People can feel when you are promoting out of obligation and need, just slogging through it, or doing it with true fun and passion.

What marketing technique is working best for you? Do any feel better to do? Share your experience in the comments.

Be sure to stop by my Facebook page to win your own smiling, happy Syd to put on your desk or nightstand. Mine is cheering me on right now as I pass along the love.