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!!

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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.

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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I’m in the Mood for Love

Do you remember the feeling of falling in love for the first time? God I do. It was a completely blissed-out ride on a ton of happy hormones. It was feeling stupid happy with a really doofy grin on my face all the time. Damn that was fun. 


Sometimes I want to relive that, well, the feeling at least. (My husband might have something to say about me falling in love again with someone else.) But the cool thing is that I can get it and not rock my marriage apple cart. It’s not always easy to find, but sometimes I can find it in a book. And when I find one of those books, one that brings back that same fantastic feeling, I don’t want to finish it. I don’t want the feeling to end. I want more from that writer.

That was the kind of book I wanted to write. One that transported my readers back to their high school days and all the wonderful (and a few not so great) feelings that went along with it. I wanted to write something that someone would pick up after a particularly trying week that would make them laugh and sigh and bliss out and OK, cry some too. From all the reviews of “Burnouts, Geeks & Jesus Freaks: a love story” and “Popstars, Friends & Lovers: a dreamer’s tale” I think I accomplished that. 

Mood or feeling is one of the top reasons someone picks a book but it’s often overlooked in the writing process. 

As a writer I know it is easy to get caught up in the mechanics of what I am doing. I get focused on grammar or sentence structure or plot points and get all tangled up in the details and lose sight of the big picture, of the mood I want to create, of how I want my readers to feel. 

I’ve found a fantastic writing guide called, “Wired for Story” by Lisa Cron. It’s about the psychology behind what readers are looking for in a story, how the brain works when someone is reading a story, and how to develop your own story for maximum reading pleasure. I’m only halfway finished reading it but it has already made a major impact on the way I am creating and developing my next series. It has helped me focus more on the aspects that will pull my readers in and less on things that can be a distraction or even irritate a reader. I’ve had a few LOL moments when Ms. Cron points out common mistakes that I’ve made or read that leave readers wondering “what just went wrong here?

I love the fact that self publishing has given so many aspiring writers, like myself, the opportunity to offer their stories to readers. But in the crowded chaos stories can start to sound the same. One plot can sound a lot like so many others. When that happens the way to distinguish your work is through mood or feeling. There can be hundreds of stories about first love but the one that captures that giddy feeling and conveys it to the readers will be the one that stands out. 

So, what are your mood books? Do you have a favorite book or author that you always go to when you are looking for a certain feeling?

Viva The Self-Pub Revolution

I remember when I first heard of the idea of self-publishing. In the late 80’s it was still a theory or prediction, but it was an exciting one. Desktop publishing loomed as a possibility for anyone and everyone with a home computers and I was enthralled with the idea of creativity without gatekeepers. We were told it will be possible to create your own music, movies, professional photographs and print work and get it out to the public. It seems so mundane and obvious now, but the idea was truly freeing and revolutionary.


I didn’t grow up in a ‘if you can dream it you can do it’ kind of world. People who dreamed of doing something big were usually told to grow up, get a dose of reality and stop wasting time on artsy-fartsy stuff – unless you want to live in a cardboard box on the side of the road for the rest of your life. While I loved the idea of a creative revolution, it didn’t seem to apply to me. That was until I hit my mid-life crazy and decided I wanted to join the revolution.

I tell you all this background now so you will understand how excited and committed I am to the self-publishing revolution. As I have gotten more involved with the online community of authors I was surprised at the number who may be self-published right now, but only until a publisher comes along to deem them “a real writer.” In a way I get it. It wasn’t that long ago that the only way to be a writer was to have your work smiled upon by the gods of the traditional publishing industry. If that happened, it was a HUGE accomplishment and the writer could bask in the glow of being one of the lucky few. 

Would I like to have that glow? Not really. (Liar, some of you hiss). It means so much more to me to be part of this revolution. The only draw a publishing house had for me was an editor and marketing. While a company-supplied editor would still be nice, I’ve learned that the marketing machine is reserved for the use of those at the top (an executive bathroom privilege of sorts). New authors are asked to show up with tens of thousands of followers on self-created social media platforms. If I’m going to create that on my own, I might as well keep going and do it all myself. I’m not even sure how I would get all those followers before publishing my first book. It looks like the current formula is for an author to self-publish, build a following, then present themselves at the publishing house alter to humbly ask to be called an author. 

I get that it’s lonely and scary to do all this alone. My ratio of scared-s**tless to confident days is still running around 30/70. But the same social media that puts me in touch with readers is also connecting me with other writers and a boat-load of resources to make it all so much easier. 

I’m in this for so much more than just sharing my work right now. I want to see where this revolution goes. I want to see how the world changes for other potential authors, people who were told that their dream of writing was a one-way ticket to disappointment and abstract poverty. It’s not easy and most of us have to work more than one job to get started, but being part of something so huge and empowering is worth it to me. 

So to all the book bloggers, reviewers, #amwriting tweeters, Goodreads Indie author supporters, writing coaches, and yes, even Amazon; I say thank you – and vive la revolution!