New & Improved Burnouts Series

They’re the same unique, sweet contemporary new adult love stories but with a whole new look.

I hoping to bring them to a whole new group of readers so I took a new direction in the packaging. I wanted covers that better expressed that these are definitely romance books, full of all the great feels you want when you read a romance. But I also wanted the highlight the things that make them unique in the romance category. The heroes in both books are different. No “bad boys” here. These are really nice guys who genuinely like women. These are the guys you cheer for because you like them. They are multi dimensional, real people with hopes and fears and faults and dreams.

And my heroines are truly strong, sexy, fun girls–never apologizing for their smarts, love life or the choices they make.

The stories are a little more gritty, but all my reviews thus far have mentioned how much they are like what high school was really like–the heart aches, silliness, mistakes and awkwardness of falling in love for the first time.

Here’s a sample from “Suburban Love Song”

Carrie sat down with a fork and dug into the rest of the cake. She looked up into Ben’s disapproving eyes. “Wha?” she said through her mouthful, “it’s not like anyone else is going to eat it.” She shoved another forkful in to spite him, then chewed with a smile on her face, her cheeks full.

“So where is MG?” Ben was referring to her best friend who was grounded, at least for today.

Carrie thought about answering him and letting the cake fall out of her mouth, but she was enjoying his company and didn’t want to razz him too much. She held up a finger till she swallowed then said, “grounded.”

“She got caught going out with a 22-year old guy.” Ben didn’t need that information, but it was always fun to shock him a little. Carrie’s own sometimes boyfriend, Chuck, was 21; another fact that Ben would, no doubt, not approve of.  But Ben didn’t seem fazed, or really interested.  Why did she always feel the need to press his buttons? Because you are a mean girl, her mother’s voice in her head chimed in.

Carrie put down her fork as she felt the storm clouds of guilt rain on her little birthday parade. Focus on the other person, don’t always talk about you, said the mom-tape running in her head. “So, are you still going out with Joelle?” Carrie knew he was. Ben and Joelle always walked around school holding hands. Joelle proudly displaying her purity ring between their clenched fingers. People in Carrie’s group, the druggies, would gag and make retching noises when they walked by.

His answer was a strangely weak, “yeah.”

“What?”

“Nothing.” Ben filled his mouth with cake so he wouldn’t have to talk then focused on giving Christopher another bite. Carrie kept watching him, looking for more details than his lukewarm answer. Finally after swallowing Ben said, “You don’t like her much, do you?”

Carrie wondered if her feelings about Joelle showed on her face. She hoped they didn’t because she was going to lie to be nice to Ben, “She’s alright,” she said with a shrug. Ben wasn’t buying it. “OK, no, I don’t like her much, but I think the feeling is mutual.”

That seemed to get his attention, “What are you talking about?” You could hear his shock that Joelle Welker, purity ring-wearing President of the Right to Life club and outspoken Christian would have anything bad to say about anyone. Carrie knew better.

“She talks about us, about me, and MG.”Carrie paused to read his reaction, so far neutral. “More than once I overheard her and her friends calling us whores.  She calls my friends drug-addicts.”

Ben raised his eyebrows, “Aren’t they?”

Now it was Carrie’s turn to get defensive. “Some of them do drugs, but not all. Most just dress different, ‘cause they’re creative. So people judge them, people like Joelle.”

Ben carried Christopher into the living room and dropped him on the couch. Two-fer giggled. Ben picked up the remote and turned the TV to cartoons, distracting him from their conversation. “Is that why you hang around with them?” he asked as he walked back into the kitchen, “because you’re creative?”

 

“Yeah, I guess so, and they’re nice. They don’t judge.” She raised her eyebrows, challenging him.

“You’re kidding, right?” Carrie knew he was referring to them gagging when Ben and Joelle walked by.

“They only give it back to those who dish it out.”

Silence. Damn it. They were getting along ‘til she had to bring up this mine-field of a topic.

“Do you want some more cake?” Christopher popped up and looked over the back of the couch, “cate?” They both laughed.

“Not you Two-fer. I asked Ben if he wanted more because some little monster ate all his cake.” Christopher laughed and said, “meee.” Then he turned and plopped back down to watch TV. The uncomfortable tension between Ben and Carrie was still there.

Ben picked up his plate and fork, took them to the sink and rinsed them off.  Carrie was surprised he didn’t load them in the dishwasher. “Thanks for the cake.  It was really good.” He walked over and stood directly in front of her, crowding her space. “I’m sorry I forgot your birthday,” he almost whispered.

Carrie backed up into the counter. She didn’t want him to be nice, it was too real, too honest, too much. Joking and teasing she could take, distance was good too. “Why would you remember my birthday?” she smirked. She was too raw for this today.

“Because I went to every one of your parties since we were 6,” he said as if he was pointing out the obvious. Ben was looking down at her, studying her.

“What?” she said, exasperated and irritated by his scrutiny.  There was pity in his eyes, and it was rattling her cage.

“Was this your only party? For your sweet 16?”

Oh, a swift kick to the heart. She couldn’t let him see how much it all hurt.  “Yeah, well, I’m not so sweet.” She tried to diffuse the tension.

Ben was standing over her, trying to look into her eyes, like he had something important to tell her, something he wanted to make sure she heard. “You deserve better than this.”

Shit he was direct. That last hit was her undoing. A tear she fought all afternoon while she made her cake ran down her cheek. She looked away from him and tried to turn away in the small space between two stools, the counter, and Ben.

But he didn’t move. He stayed in her space, blocking her in, witnessing her humiliation. Carrie worked to shut down her pain and turn it into anger. She was about to shove Ben out of the way or say something rude when he crushed her thin defense. He reached out and hugged her.

“I’m sorry.” He spoke quietly into her hair. “I just say stuff. I think just because it’s true, I should say it.”

Carrie’s body tensed. Her brain spun trying to make sense, trying to process, trying to find a reference for his comfort. She felt a small warm spot in the pit of her stomach, and it felt amazingly good and god-awful strange at the same time. She tentatively bent her arms and touched his waist.

“I’m sorry I made you cry.” He said over the top of her head.

Carrie tried to respond but couldn’t talk past the ball of emotion caught in her throat. She was about to tease him about wanting to hug her because that’s all he and Joelle did, but she fought the urge to make him angry. It felt too good. He was tall, and warm; there was so much Ben surrounding her. And his jacket smelled like fresh air and laundry detergent and fabric softener. She felt the lump in her throat melt and the breath it had been blocking all day eased out of her.

***

I hope you liked it. If you did you can pick up an kindle copy of Suburban Love Song for just 99c for the next 5 days.

 

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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.

Can Women Learn Better Negotiating From Men?

It doesn’t matter if you’re Jennifer Lawrence or an Economics Professor at Harvard or a self-published author working from her kitchen table, we all do it. Women,that is–we all play it small too often. And we’ve been doing it so long that we don’t realize it. It’s ingrained in us. We settle for less, demand little, back down, undervalue ourselves. We don’t want to appear pushy or rude or, god-forbid, so pompous that we think our work is worth a lot of money. So we just don’t ask for more.

It’s an issue that has caught my attention several times lately. It started with Jennifer Lawrence and her essay in Lenny. I loved it that she owned her mistakes in negotiating her contract and earning much less than her male co-stars in the movie American Hustle. She didn’t blame anyone but did note that in hindsight her reasons were not wanting to appear greedy or troublesome, two pejorative adjectives often hurled at women who know their worth and ask for it.

Her point stuck in my head but didn’t really hit home until I was listening to a Freakonomics podcast about the gender pay gap. The guest expert was Claudia Goldin, a professor of economics at Harvard University who specializes in studying gender economics. Dr. Goldin presented some fantastic data that showed that most of the gap in pay is not due to outright discrimination, but to the choices that women make, usually in favor of family over career. But it was the closing segment of the podcast that really got my attention. In it Dr. Goldin told a story about doing some consulting work, which she doesn’t normally do, and assuming she would not be paid. The company needing her help offered to pay her $2,000, which she agreed to. Before finishing the project she was told that the other two consultants, both men, were paid two times what she was, because they asked. The lesson is about how we see our work, all work, and how much we value it.

Unless we value our work no one else will.

The men who did the consulting work with Dr. Goldin valued their time and skills more than she did. They didn’t think to offer either for free. No matter what work you are doing, value it–Harvard professor, actress, writer, stay-at-home mom. All our work is valuable.

It’s pretty hard to get paid for mothering or volunteer work, but you can still understand and acknowledge your value by respecting your time. Evaluate each request for your time and feel free to say no. Teach your children that mothering makes an important contribution to society. Note to yourself and your family all the ways that their quality of life is better for the mom things you do.

Women also tend to think they have to be an expert to ask for top pay for their work, men generally don’t. It’s hard to say when you are an expert. Just being in a field puts you ahead of those just entering and means you have something of value to offer. This week I will be teaching a class on how to self-publish, something that is a huge leap forward for me. I’ve actually been teaching for years at a university, but this is the first time I didn’t wait for someone else to tell me I had enough skills in a subject to teach it. Being only two years into self-publishing the lessons I learned as a beginner are still fresh. I vividly remember feeling lost and searching for answers. I can’t tell you how excited I am to offer all those answers to others just joining my field and developing a new revenue stream for myself.

There is an art to negotiating, one that can be learned. While it’s true that you might knock yourself out of the game by quoting too high, it doesn’t look like women are in danger of doing that anytime soon. This is one area where we need to learn a lesson from men. They are taught that they should play big and value their contributions. They know to ask for more, because that’s the only way you are going to get it.

Are you guilty of not asking for more? I am. This topic hit home because I saw myself in those stories. Like Jennifer Lawrence I want to be seen as nice and not make waves. Like Professor Goldin I’m too often willing to give my time and knowledge for free or take whatever money is offered. Comment below and share your stories of when you wish you had asked for more or when you did.

 

 

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.

blog second image feb 7

Support A Sister–Samantha Bee Goes Full Frontal

Ladies, we have a new representative in the world of late-night TV. Starting Monday, February 8th on TBS Samantha Bee will join the males-only club of late-night television hosts with her new show titled Full Frontal. If you’re a fan of The Daily Show you will already know her brand of witty, tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic humor. I have my DVR set to record it (because the term late night implies I would have to stay up past 9:30 to watch it) and I encourage you to do the same and support this sister.

Follow this link for the show’s homepage.

Samantha Bee
You may have seen her on The Daily Show

You see I’m not only excited to see a woman breaking though a barrier, I’m excited that it’s someone whose work I can truly support. In the past there have been three other woman who have hosted a late-night show–Joan Rivers, Chelsea Handler and Kathy Griffin. While all are funny their type of humor often relied on the shock value of a woman being crude. I’m all for crude but for me it wears thin quickly. It’s not enough to base a long-running show on. And I’ve never been a fan of women who get ahead by ripping on other women. Joan lost me when her red carpet comments got personal and ugly.

This is why I think Samantha Bee will have staying power. She’s smart. To get her humor you have to know some background about the topic. She was able to skewer politicians on The Daily Show because she understood them. She knew enough about their views to ask the questions that led to some hysterically funny subtle confrontations. Her subjects would walk right into the jokes and usually not realize it until later. If you watch this preview of her show you’ll see what I mean. She calls bullshit in a really funny way. She’s the opposite of pratfalls and shock-value crudeness.

I’m not only encouraging you to catch her show but let’s talk about it too. Bookmark this post and come back and let me know what you thought after the first show and I’ll do the same. Let me know if you think she has what it takes to take on Conan and Colbert. I’m looking forward to having a smart woman’s perspective but I won’t keep watching just because she is female. I’ll tune in but I’ll only keep watching if she brings the smart, sex-positive, female-supportive humor we need more of.

 

 

The Black Lace Business Model

Tonight I’m running my business from the bed in our guest bedroom. This is where I’m writing this post, planning a class I’m going to teach and generally working on connecting with as many smart, sexy, supportive women as I can. I’m wearing my new Hello Kitty slippers and the leggings and tee shirt I put on for yoga this morning.

Despite my appearance and my lack of a real office, I know that the work I do is no less important or valid than that of suited men in nondescript glass towers. Because I represent the new business model, the entrepreneur, particularly female entrepreneurs who are rewriting the way business is done and what’s considered true commerce.

I’ve been working on refining the keywords for Karen Gordon, Author. These are terms and ideas I want tied to my work. When you type these words into Google I want my writing and teaching to appear, somewhere near the top of your results. I’m still in the process but I’ve got more direction now. Through this process I noticed that the main continuous thread in all my writing is strong females characters. Even future novels revolve around women who live their lives on their own terms.

I support women’s sexuality in my writing–in all forms. I want women to feel free to choose,without fear of social persecution, to be as sexual as they want to be or not be. I’m creating characters who are solid in their feminine power and energy whether they are sharing that with another or enjoying it just for their self.

My heroines are engaged and busy, making bank, making a home or both; they are not wasting time bringing other women down. Drama sells, but my brand is not cheap drama generated by small people. Believe me there’s enough real excitement in raising children or building a business to fill a thousand novels.

I love the idea that married or single, working inside or outside the home, all women can contribute to increasing our value in society. It’s not only the CEO’s and Vogue cover models, but women’s with much quieter goals too who are erasing old stereotypes. My writing, my business is about and for all of them.

I’m still in the process of fleshing out my exact keywords but along the way I started to think about images and the idea of black lace and my geek glasses came to mind. Alone they represent female sexuality and intellect but combined they create a potent mix. Once thought of as opposites, madonna or whore, smart or sexy, mind or body; I now see them as the perfect combination or balance of all that women can be.

I’m going to be updating some of my artwork to encompass these ideas and honing on the keywords that will hopefully bring more smart, sexy, supportive women into my tribe. It’s one of my major projects for 2016.

So what are your keywords? Whether you have a business or not, what words encompass who you are, how you want to engage with the world. Share yours with me and I’ll share mine as soon as I can pin them down. Black lace is looking good though.

 

 

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.