#My5percent (Or how I choose agency and love.)

Last week I wrote a post with suggestions on ways to feel less lost after the election results. To say I felt shell-shocked is an understatement. I can’t say I was dying for Hillary to be my President but I was dying for Trump not to be. Now he is, so I have to deal with it.

What I can’t do is deal with it by sitting around kvetching and spreading gloom and doom theories about what worst case scenario might happen. I don’t know for sure what the next four years will look like but I do know that there are some fantastic groups that will need additional support because they are likely to be low or nonexistent on the Trump agenda. So, today I’m starting to do #My5percent. I’m going to give 5% of my company’s income to a charity and dedicate 5% of my time to one. It’s one of those commitments that alone is small but if others join it, it could make a huge difference. It is also my way of making my life about action and agency–feeling like I have a say in the direction I go in.

The group I’ve chosen for my 5% donation is Planned Parenthood. I do have fears of thousands of women not having access to birth control and cancer screenings. If Obamacare is repealed, this will certainly be the case. Planned Parenthood will be more vital than ever to low income females for their reproductive healthcare. I will be giving 5% of my gross as KarenGordonAuthor to Planned Parenthood.

The other group that I’m giving 5% of my time to is The Girl Scouts. I love this organization. My mom was a girl scout well into her 60’s. They are smart and inclusive and a fantastic place for young girls to learn skills and make connections that will help them become great future leaders. And…there’s the cookies. I’ll be contacting the local chapter to see how I can be of service. Based on a typical 40 hour work week, I want to dedicate at least one day a month to them (5%). Even with my busy schedule, that is very doable.

I’d love for more to join me. Volunteering is one of the best ways to feel like you have some control, like you are making a difference. If you decide to join in, please share your #my5percent commitment in the comments or use the hashtag. I’d love to see more women on social media showing that we have the power to create the world we want to live in.

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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.