Monday, June 29, 2015

Women Entrepreneurs: Alexandra Franzen

Alexandra
Is it possible to *not* have a huge girl crush Alexandra Franzen? She is my favorite blogger, inspiration, and all around strong, brave, fab gal. And she graciously agreed to be interviewed, too. Can life get much better?

And here is Alexandra!

Alexandra with Joanna Powell Colbert. Awesome babes!
1. What is the name of your business and what do you tell other people you do? (such as author, teacher, designer)

I'm a self-employed writer.

People hire me to write books, blog posts, newsletters, video scripts, keynote talks, educational materials, and things like that. You could call me a "ghostwriter." That's probably the most accurate label for what I do!

Most of my clients are in the health / wellness / personal development realm, which is swell, because I'm completely fascinated by human transformation, goal-setting, motivation, psychology, fitness, and all that jazz.

I also have my own personal (i.e., non-client-related) writing projects, like my blog, advice column, books, and whatnot.

Basically: I play with words and somehow... I've finagled a way to make it my full-time job. I'm a fortunate gal.


2.     How long have you been self-employed? What convinced you to become an entrepreneur?

I've been self-employed (in a full-time capacity) for just over 5 years.

I became self-employed because I really didn't have a choice. I was so desperately miserable working at a 9-to-5 job in a cubicle. It got to the point where I was sobbing in the bathroom, sick to my stomach, just completely out of whack. I knew if I remained in that kind of career, I would just... fall apart. I had to leave, for my health and sanity. So I made the leap. That was that.


3.     Entrepreneurs rarely stay in one place. How many careers have you had?

I started my career working in public broadcasting.

I had mixed-bag, hybrid position that sorta spanned "admin assistant / project manager / promotional ad writer / occasional producer." 

During that time, I also dabbled around doing various kinds of freelance writing as a "side gig," on top of my full time job.

Technical writing, resume writing, cover letter writing, copywriting, ghostwriting, little of this, little of that.
I had to try a "sampler platter" of writing gigs before I figured out my strengths and passions. The trial and error continues to this day!
But trying new stuff is great. I love the continual evolution of my life, career, and body of work. I mean, who wants to do the same exact thing 365 days a year, forever?

4.     What are some of the aspects of your current job that people don’t see? For example, most people don’t understand how much marketing is done by the authors themselves instead of a publisher.

Hmmm... people generally don't see my behind-the-scenes, working-at-home outfits, which mostly consist of kimono robes or a tank top with no pants! Haha.


5.     Who and what inspires you on those inevitable rough days?

My mom and dad.

RuPaul.

My friends, both online and offline.

Ultra-disciplined, amazing people that I've met in the fitness world. (I looooove female bodybuilders. So inspiring.)

GREAT MUSIC! Music uplifts me like nothing else. I am obsessed with Spotify and I build new playlists all the time.


6.     Name a few of your current projects. For example, conferences, publicity, design process, what you have for sale.

I am currently finishing up my first sci-fi novel! A total passion project. It's called So This Is The End.

I have a couple of other e-books and print books in my Shop, including my debut novel, Milk & Honey, which is very smutty. A good summer beach read!

Aside from that, I have a neat e-course called Unstoppable, which is for anyone who struggles to find the time, energy and inspiration to write consistently. It's got recordings plus written lessons, writing prompts, all kinds of good stuff to help you get un-blocked and get the words flowing.


7.     What are your recommendations for women who are interested in pursuing self-employment?

If you want to pursue self-employment, think of it like training for a marathon, getting married or committing to a life partner, or giving a blow job.
You need to be really devoted, really passionate, and really enthusiastic! Or it's gonna suck! And not in a good way! Ha!
If you're just sorta "half-committed," but not one hundred percent "into it," it's going to be a bummer for you & for your clients and customers, too.
ALL IN, total devotion, or don't bother.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Women Entrepreneurs: Nancy Brophy

My dear friend Nancy Brophy writes some of the smartest, sassiest heroines in romance today. She has also been self-employed for nearly all of her adult life! I thought, who better to give advice for other entrepreneurs than someone who's been doing it for decades?



1. What is the name of your business and what do you tell other people you do?

Nancy Brophy, author

2. How long have you been self-employed? What convinced you to become an entrepreneur?

 All my life. I’ve only had two jobs that paid a salary. The first one was right after I got out of college, I worked for Planned Parenthood for two years. I’m still a supporter of their programs and the second was in Denver when I worked as an expensive temp for US West – once again for a couple of years.

I love love love this book.
Other than that, I have been self-employed my entire life.  I have sold legal pleadings, real estate, insurance, been a mortgage banker, owned a catering company and worked with union benefits. And, of course, I’ve been an author.

Being an entrepreneur is not for everybody. You must be energetic, upbeat, believe in yourself and your abilities, be self-motivated, a hard worker and a problem-solver. But people who are entrepreneurs by choice also tend to have some problems working for others and feel tied down to a 9-5 job where income is stagnant. I have never been a person who traded hours for dollars successfully.

3.  Entrepreneurs rarely stay in one place. How many careers have you had? 9 (Thank goodness – I was running out of fingers.)
Best ever for getting your book on track
              
4. What are some of the aspects of your current job that people don’t
see? For example, most people don’t understand how much marketing is
done by the authors themselves instead of a publisher.

 Not only do they not see it, neither do you. When I became a caterer I saw myself in the kitchen, at the events, serving food, getting clients – but believe me I never saw myself dealing problem employees, dealing with the IRS, bookkeeping, dealing with IRS, being sued, dealing with lawyers and accountants, dealing with IRS.

You get the picture.

 As a writer, if you choose to publish traditionally, you have to deal with someone else’s time line and their vision of your career and your creations.  Everybody’s a critic so you must develop a tough skin. And while the story percolates in your head, you have an uphill learning curve you must absorb.  Unfortunately many of those lessons are learned by screwing up.
Her books are sexy and smart.


5. Who and what inspires you on those inevitable rough days?

Sometimes it’s your spouse and friends, but most of the time you must dig deep within yourself to find resilience and belief that you are doing the right thing. No one outside of yourself will ever believe in you, the way you do. Sometimes one’s motivation is simply because there was no other choice.

6. Name a few of your current projects. For example, conferences,
publicity, design process, what you have for sale.

Every day I wake up to a long to-do list. It is never ending.

7. What are your recommendations for women who are interested in
pursuing self-employment?

Here’s what I believe – there is a certain personality type that sees a road through the forest and turns the car to drive that road before 900 of their closest friends tell them it’s a mistake and points out possible problems.
What if the road doesn’t go all the way through -
What if there is a lake in the way -
What if you will construction workers to build a bridge
And so on and so on.
              
Entrepreneurs are not burdened by the sensible voices in their head saying the same things.

If you are the kind of person who sits down and thinks a situation through, you can come up with a hundred reasons not to engage.  Which is all good and right and works for you, but you are not a person who will do well being self-employed.

If you are a person who can’t go to work unless the housework is done and all the beds are made, you might want to rethink your career choices.

One of the coolest heroines ever.
If you are a person who isn’t bothered by times of money verses times of no money then you stand a chance of making it.


8. How have business opportunities changed for women who want to run
their own businesses?

Have they changed? Since the dawn of business, women have created careers because life required it. If the oldest profession is prostitution, then we were the first entrepreneurs. When America was being settled, we ran farms, shops, post offices to name a few. While our history has taken a back seat to men, that doesn’t mean we weren’t doing it. It just means we needed a better biographer.


Nancy can be found at www.nancybrophy.com. Her email is: NancyBrophy@gmail.com


Nancy's bio reveals what a fascinating woman she is!



Nancy Brophy is an award-winning author, whose first published work was a pamphlet for the University of Houston entitled Between Your Navel and Your Knees. The subject matter dealt with the changing mores of sexuality in the sixties and seventies. Much of her career has been focused on non-fiction with articles published in trade journals and technical writing for HR departments.
But her true love was story-telling. Eventually she wrote a novel which is still available somewhere under her bed. 


In 2003, she joined her local chapter of Romance Writers of America and learned the craft of story writing. Since then she has published both romantic suspense novels and two novellas under her name and others.
Her stories are about pretty men and strong women, about families that don’t always work and about the joy of finding love and the difficulty of making it stay. 

She reverted to non-fiction in 2014 to write a craft book entitled, Plotting Your Story Arc Workbook for Fiction Writers, Plotters and Pantsers. Two follow up books on Dissecting A Novel, and Story Arc in Movies will follow in 2015.

She teaches classes on Character Development including:
Today’s Heroine is not Cinderella
Redeeming Your Antagonist.

On story craft including:
Tension in Dialogue
Location, Location, Location
Lights, Camera, Action
Plotting from Story Arc
The First Fifty Pages
Writing to Your turning points
Conflict and Motivation
Would your character do that?
 

Friday, June 19, 2015

For Dr. Dad: The story about clowns.

Dr. Dad loves to suggest that I use clowns in my writing. The thing is, I tried
My beautiful late mother
once, back when I thought I would be the next Jayne Ann Krentz (witty, snappy dialogue, nifty corporate espionage plots).

Unfortunately, I was really, really bad at it. I was obsessed with the standard "rich&handsome executive meets regular gal" plot. I had no idea how conflict worked. I was sadly addicted to adverbs. But to prove that I tried, here's the first page of this not-really-funny story that I called, "Funny."



***

“Oh, heavens, it feels good to take off my nose.”

David Exings stopped dead in the doorway of his office.  He still had to be on the plane and dreaming – that was the only explanation of this surreality. There was a pair of huge green and white shoes by his sofa, a bright green puff actually on the sofa, and garishly colored clothing strewn over the floor of his office. The bathroom door was open and the light was on.

“Hello?”


“Uhhh, hi.” The woman’s voice was rich but just as confused as he was. That was nice, he thought. He didn’t like to be alone in his confusion. “Who’s there?” she continued. 

 “David Exings.”

“Oh, dear.” A pause. “Um, Mr. Exings, could you hand me that black leather bag that’s by the sofa? I’ll change and take off my face and be right out of here.”

Your author and Dr. Sister in their misspent youth.
“Ah.” What did that mean? “Certainly. Here it is.” He found the bag (oddly restrained compared to the rest of the office) and handed it around the corner. A woman’s hand reached around the corner of the bathroom door and snatched the bag. Her voice came to him, over the sound of running water. 

“I’m terribly, terribly sorry to be using your bathroom, Mr. Exings, but you weren’t expected back until tomorrow  - I even double checked your flight.  I was just cleaning myself up after the picnic.  And I know that the manual says it is ok to use the bathroom for events, but most of us don’t use it. I hope you understand. ” She sounded nervous.

Ah. Today was the day of the company picnic and he had missed it.  He was supposed to be there for his niece, but had been trapped due to the bad weather in Chicago and had been delayed two days. Since it was so late and his niece would be in bed anyway, he came by the office first to drop off his paperwork and interrupted an entertainer, obviously.  A clown, he deduced, from the shoes.    

David cleared his throat. “Really, it is not a problem. It is certainly all right for you to use the bathroom. I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage, Miss…”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”  A woman popped out of the bathroom, her scrubbed face shining and her long brown hair slicked back wetly.  She wore jeans and a T-shirt with The Phantom on it. “I apologize for my appearance.” She held out her hand. “I’m Natalie Clare. I’m the consultant you hired to be the acting head of security for your computing division.  I was the clown for the company picnic.” 

David smiled internally, grateful his logic was still working.   

“Once everyone found out this was how I earned my way through college, they were ruthless about getting me to do this.”  He gravely shook her hand and looked her up and down. He was charmed by her silver toenails and green toe ring. She even had a delicate chain leading from the toe ring to an anklet.

She flushed under his scrutiny and pushed at her hair. “I’ll be right out of here.” She turned to pack up her costume. David discovered that the green puff was a wig, and the shoes were much more substantial that he had imagined.  

She was pretty, David noticed, startled. As she stuffed a pouch filled with brightly colored, empty balloons into her bag, he finally spoke again. 

“Miss Clare?”


“Yes?” She turned around, a resigned look on her face.

“How did my niece enjoy the party?”

Natalie smiled with remembered pleasure and some relief. “She had a very good time.  She was disappointed that you couldn’t make it, so I sent some extra balloons home with her for you.  I hope you like teddy bears. She said you would like those best.” Natalie started putting the balloons in her pack, and then glanced up. “She’s a charming child, Mr. Exings. You are doing a fine job.”  

“Would you be willing to make something for her from me? I was disappointed as well. I would have far preferred to be here than stuck in O’Hare for two days.”

“Why certainly, Mr. Exings.” She looked at her bag of balloons, considering. “How long until you see her?” 


“I’ll see her at breakfast tomorrow.”

“Ah, then we will need something sturdy. How does a turtle sound?”

“That sounds fine.”


Natalie selected a green balloon and blew it up a short way.  Her swift movements fascinated David as she tied it off, and began twisting.  She pulled a marker out of her bag, and, in a few economical strokes, put a smiling turtle face on the balloon. “Here you go.”

He considered the little happy face seriously. “Thank you, Miss Clare.”

***
At least I tried, Dr. Dad. :)