Still Grumbling About The Season Finale of Billions

I suspected the season finale of Billions was going to piss me off, and in large part, it delivered. I hate seeing Axe beaten down, and he was, until the very end when he was staring at his house before walking inside to face his family. I hated that he lied to Lara about coming home before the Feds picked him up, I hated when she realized he’d lied…again, I hated that he didn’t say “I love you” to his kids, and I really hated that it was Wendy who got Lara’s goodbye hug.

I am an Axe supporter. Always have been. I tell my husband that Axe could pretty much slit someone’s throat on screen, and I’d still take his side because knowing Axe, there would be a legitimate reason for the slashing.

Sick? Maybe. But not as sick as the fact that Rhoades Sr. finally redeemed himself to me after showing Chuck the pictures of Wendy and that dude the morning after. Yeah, that part of the finale actually made me smile.

Now, if you know me, everything you’re read to this point makes sense because I am pretty much driven by emotion, not logic. And nothing I say above is any bit logical. Notice that I’m blatantly ignoring the fact that Axe committed a crime and that’s why he was arrested. LOL.

This episode had a lot of feels in my opinion, which is why I still feel gutted days later. Axe is a criminal. He knows it, everyone around him knows it. He doesn’t try to hide it, he just comes up with some damned creative ways to gloss over it. And most of the time, he succeeds. He marches to the beat of his own drummer, and it’s burned him a few times this season, especially with his wife. But he’s still human under the all the ego. Not perfect, but certainly not the villain.

But Chuck…there is nothing remotely redeemable about him, the US Attorney, driven by some pretty deep-rooted vengeance thinly masked by justice. What about Axe has Chuck’s tighty whiteys in such a bunch after all these years? Is it that he always gets what he wants, no matter what the cost? Is it that he has a blatant disrespect for the law? Or…is it as simple as Axe has risen to the top on his own merit and answers to no one because he has nothing to lose? Chuck always has to answer to someone, he always has Big Brother, or rather, Big Daddy, watching over his shoulder. He can’t ever act without consequence. Axe does because he can. His success is his own. He started with nothing and built an empire, whereas Chuck is always choking on the huge silver spoon shoved down his throat. He’s never had to create a life for himself – it was always ready and waiting.

Chuck wants to be Axe. Not in the literal sense, but in the sense that he wants to be able to spread his wings and leave his own legacy without being overshadowed by privilege. But when your life is not your own, it’s hard to escape the nest. Axe will always rise because it’s the only thing he knows how to do. Chuck will always be at risk to take a nosedive into the ground because he has to operate within the walls of structure. Axe’s fortress has no walls. It knows no bounds. It’s organized chaos.

Okay, I feel a little bit better now. Wow, this writing thing sure is therapeutic. =)

 

Mark Cuban’s Advice To Entrepreneurs – Risk, Energy, and Funding

According to online dictionaries, an entrepreneur is “a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money” or “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.”

Well, I get a check for both of those. My past venture into the fashion industry was fraught with risk and cost me plenty. Now, I have little to show for it, save for a closet full of the most amazing handbags EVER CREATED.

I’m normally a risk-averse person, but somehow, when I’m on a quest to find the formula for success in some endeavor, I throw tons at it – money, energy, time – hoping to find the magical components. The problem is, when you invest in something you really don’t understand, you come up empty more often than not. Knowledge is power, sometimes more so than money, and that’s what struck me with this video from Mark Cuban.

The big takeaways?

Seeking funding for a new business venture is failure. It’s an admission that you can’t hack it on your own, can’t find success with the resources you already have, and need to sell-out in order to plunge forth. The question is, how successful will you really be when you are on the hook for millions of dollars to others who believed enough in your idea that you probably could have rocketed on your own first, albeit a little slower??

I never thought of it that way…

My latest venture is challenging, to say the least. And while I’ve researched the concept itself, I’ve thought many times about how I’ll pitch the idea to investors, how I can get into an accelerator, how I can get the attention of venture capitalists…all so I can command funding and leverage expertise from those who have already found success.

But after watching this video, I realize my mindset needs some fine-tuning. Funding is not necessarily the answer. Preparation is the missing element in my formula. It’s where I fell short with my first business. Not taking enough time to learn about the industry before jumping in, spreading myself and my resources too thin to be even slightly effective, not doing enough research in the form of focus groups prior to designing my products. It was a totally ad hoc, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, throw-lots-of-crap-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks process, with no tried-and-tested repeatable elements. I had no blueprint, no measurable metrics, and no plans for future execution. So, what did I do? Hired a new, more expensive PR firm (which did squat, btw), designed even more products without customer input, spent more money than I could afford…only to land flat on my face with no answers and lots of anguish.

I never acquired the knowledge, though I did amass mountains (now they’re more like hills) of debt as a result. I could have mitigated the risk with a deep understanding of the business landscape, including potential pitfalls and competition elements. But not me! I’m an instant gratification whore, way too impulsive and impatient to waste time on LEARNING, of all things.

To my own peril. I’ve raised many a glass to that toast, regrettably…

So, Mark. Thanks for the advice. Knowledge is the most powerful tool in your arsenal. The more ammo you have, the more prepared you are for battle. And yes, it IS a battle. But winnable if your head is in the right place.

What Does Success Look Like???

Let’s face it – the unknown is daunting.  Even extensive planning can’t always prepare you for challenges you may face in your entrepreneurial endeavors – whether you’re a startup CEO, a handbag designer or an aspiring indie author. Sometimes you just need to trust in yourself and be confident in your abilities. Obstacles may seem insurmountable at first glance but if you are dedicated to your efforts and you do the proper research, you WILL work through them.

You can’t crush true entrepreneurial spirit. If you have it, it’s only a matter of time before you find your niche. Each “failed” attempt has to be viewed as a lesson learned. The real failure comes about when you don’t take anything away from the experience, when you don’t apply any of your newfound knowledge to your next endeavor.

My advice is simple. Embrace the unfamiliar and power through. You’ll never know the full extent of your capabilities if you don’t navigate outside your comfort zone. We can’t always be the best at everything but we should always strive to be. Don’t let fear of failure hold you back. Sure, you may accumulate a mound of debt in the process (something your husband won’t ever let you forget) but you will have taken control of your future.

Clear strategy concept as a straight road going over confused paths for achieving success in the future as a symbol of business vision and planning to solve the maze.

Be passionate! If you aren’t, find a new goal. You’re not cut out to be an entrepreneur. It takes too much time and effort to launch a new business and if you don’t love what you’re doing, you’ll never get it off the ground. If you’re not willing to work harder than you’ve ever worked before, preserve your sanity and come up with a new game plan.

Take a risk. You’ll never have all the answers or the insight you need to feel comfortable in EVERY situation.  But that’s okay, because you have faith, drive and ideas to propel you toward your goal.  Sometimes, that’s all you need to achieve success.

Believe in yourself and what you can do. SEE yourself creating, developing, designing, writing, and selling. The powers of the subconscious mind are astounding. Envisioning success is just more positive reinforcement you can apply to your effort. Never let negative thoughts permeate your mind – they will only hamper your efforts. See yourself hitting #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, see a Hollywood A-lister clutching one of your evening bags as she graces the red carpet at the Oscars, see your gadget in the hand of Mark Zuckerberg as he sings its praises to the press. See it, believe it, and make it a reality.

Don’t be afraid to fail.  That only really happens when you give up on your dreams. Outcomes that don’t match your expectations aren’t an indication of defeat. Think of them as lessons learned, pearls of wisdom to draw upon at a later time, things that need to be tweaked as you progress toward meeting your goals.

Try new things. Be creative. Think outside the box. Do something nobody has thought of before. Find the whitespace and clutter it up with your ideas. Don’t try to create demand; figure out what people need and give it to them. Why waste precious resources building something that nobody wants?

Life is all about taking chances. If you play it safe ALL the time, you’ll never uncover your true potential and untapped talents.

LEAP. Nothing worth having ever comes easily. Even if you crash-land, you can still say you tried.

And finally, never give up… on your dreams or on yourself.

Business woman celebrates successful deal at office. Business People

 

Introducing My Silicon Valley Heartthrobs!!!

I FLOVE this musical.ly app! I’ll admit, it’s a bit stressful to lip sync and do all those funky, crazy hand motions that seem to come so easily to tweens like my daughter. But having the option to do makeup applications and photo slideshows is awesome! I know I can do them in iMovie too, but this is so much easier. And the best part is I get to share them with all of YOU!

Check out this musical.ly made by @ kristen_luciani with musical.ly app: https://www.musical.ly/v/MzM3MjExMzA1MjE0NDYyMzMyMTQ5NzY.html. Get the app and follow me: http://musical.ly/download

 

Sunspots BEWARE! Kat Von D Is On The Rampage!

I love the sun, but it hasn’t been good to me. Sure, my skin is all glowy and golden brown, but those rays have destroyed my face. Not with wrinkles, but with sunspots. Big-ass, ugly, unsightly BROWN SPOTS that I liken to graffiti on my forehead. And unfortunately, they’re more prevalent in the summertime. Argh!

So now, I wear rimmed hats all the time in the sun. But even though that helps me keep the spots in check, it doesn’t do much for me when I need to go out, sans hat. Luckily, I found Kat Von D Lock-It Tattoo Concealer. This product is magical. And with a few dots, those brown spots just faded into obscurity.

Buh-BYE!

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Kat Von D Lock-It Tattoo Concealer

The concealer is not thick or cakey; it’s creamy and blendable. And since you don’t have to use a lot at once, the tube will last for quite some time. The end result? Fantastic!

FLOVE IT!!!! <3 <3 <3

Happy Cover Reveal To Me, Plus A GIVEAWAY!!!

JointVent_ebook_Hires

Cover Design: Jena Brignola
Models: Sam Anderton & Savannah Kaitlyn Jefferson
Release Date: August 29, 2016

Synopsis

Notorious celebrity playboy A.J. Morgan has more emotional baggage than notches on his well-used bedpost, but bleached blonde three-ways and excess of whiskey are all the therapy he needs.

Live to indulge, indulge to fill the voids.

Those are his rules…. until he meets cunning financial analyst-slash-sexy club singer Lisa Embry, a woman whose heart is surrounded by more barbed wire than a high-security prison.

Rules? What rules?

One lust-filled romp with his female alter-ego turns A.J. into an addict in need of his next fix and he’ll pay any price for another hit.

But Lisa has her own rules… ones that can never be broken.

 

Goodreads

Pre-Order Link

iBooks Exclusive: http://apple.co/2aMOHuK

 

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Giveaway

One of Five ARC’s for Joint Venture

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0cba4250293/?

 

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Also Available

Unlikely Venture (Book 1) Purchase Links – FREE
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2aNlysY
Nothing Ventured (Book 2) Purchase Links
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2bbva6x
Venture Forward (Book 3) Purchase Links
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2blfbmM

 

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Connect with Me!

Newsletter Link: http://bit.ly/1C27Kbh

Facebook Author Page: http://bit.ly/2b0vIHB

Facebook Reader Group: http://bit.ly/2aPbs0N

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Twitter: http://bit.ly/2b2dqbg

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Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2blb620

 

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Cover Reveal Giveaway! $50 Gift Card, Anyone???

Happy Cover Reveal Day…To ME!!!

I’m sooo excited to reveal the cover for Venture Forward, Book Three of The Venture Series! And a HUGE thank you to Jase Dean, the face of my latest hero, Paul Emerson. Another thank you to Scott Hoover who shot this fabulous pic!

Paul’s story is emotional, turbulent, and of course, sexy as all hell. I’m such a tease, I know.

But here is Chapter 1. You judge for yourself. =)

Now for the GIVEAWAY! Help me celebrate and share!!! Click here to enter for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card.

Pre-Order “VENTURE FORWARD” At:

 Amazon Barnes & Noble ~ iBooks ~ Kobo ~ Smashwords

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Synopsis

Raw. Cold. Detached. Domineering…

Paul Emerson lives life like he f*cks. It’s the only way to survive, to battle the demons forever lurking in his subconscious, to resist succumbing to the darkness that perpetually overshadows his existence. As a ruthless venture capitalist with an insatiable appetite for power and control, he has no tolerance for emotion or any tryst spanning more than a few hours. Feelings equate to weakness and weakness destroys livelihoods.

Driven. Focused. Bitter. Guilty…

 Avery Hunter is tormented by what she can’t change, but letting go is never the preferred option. Her successes aren’t nearly enough to fill the gaping void in her heart and soul. No, revenge always begets satisfaction and fulfillment…except when it extinguishes the last source of brightness in her life. Karma is a bitch and irony is her evil twin sister.

Damaged. Rejected. Broken…

 The woman who harbors and the man who resists. With so much baggage and even more angst, can their wounded souls finally find solace in one another? Or is their future happiness doomed to be ravaged by the lies and deceit that litter their pasts?

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How Deviant Is Too Deviant???

I am most insightful while running. I don’t know why, but my mind goes into overdrive. I’m pounding the pavement, singing along with Metallica and BOOM! Enlightenment.

Maybe it’s because I can be alone with my thoughts. They don’t have to yell and scream to be heard because the competition is still at home, snug in their beds. Of course, said competition is usually the reason why my ideas never make it to paper. But today I refused to get sidetracked.

Do you know what it’s like, saying you want to be a romance author today? It’s kind of like saying you want to create a really awesome website, where people can connect with friends, make new ones, exchange messages, form common interest groups and share information, pictures and videos for feedback.

Um, dude, sounds great except…IT’S ALREADY BEEN DONE!!!!

You can’t approach this endeavor with the mindset that, hey, it worked for all those other big authors, why not for me? It’s a different world and if you’re not bringing something new and exciting to the table, nobody will join you for the meal.

As an author, I spend a lot of time on social media, which is how I find out about new releases. I read blurbs and I know within the first two sentences if something is going to piqué my interest. I occasionally buy a book solely because of it’s cover, but it’s rare. The last book I bought by cover alone (and LOVED) was Taint by S.L. Jennings. But it was Mike Thurston, could you blame me??

Before I was an author, I would go to Amazon and just click around until I saw something interesting. It always came down to the blurb. If it grabbed me, I one-clicked. Period. As an aside, somehow I’d always finish a book while running on the treadmill so my goal was always to find something good quickly so I could keep reading. Running at 7 miles an hour and clicking around a Kindle isn’t ideal, just saying. I didn’t care about price, I wanted to be entertained with anything that would keep me focused on something other than the running. Brand-loyalty had no impact for my buying preferences.

Woman doing make-up, beautiful young woman doing make-up and smiling while looking at the mirrorNow, on the other hand, I’m a total lipstick whore. It’s my very favorite makeup item and I sample pretty much every type of product – matte, sheer, lip stain, gloss, lacquer. Two things matter – how the color looks and how long it will last. I buy it all, with no regard for price. I don’t necessarily have brand-loyalty in this case either since my preferred brands can’t always help me accomplish my goal. It’s all about how the product makes me feel. If there is a chance it will take me look like a million bucks, I’ll give it a shot. What do I have to lose? I can always return it if it doesn’t have the desired effect.

I’ve spent way more on products that I’ve used once and stuck in a drawer, but that doesn’t require hours of my time. I can try it and if I love it, great. It lands in my makeup bag. If not, it goes back to the store. But books? They can be free and I’ll still hedge, because they require a greater time commitment. I rarely read beyond the treadmill because I don’t frequently find books that hook me. If I’m going to one-click, it had better be something special.

Murderous woman with very scary eyes licking the blood of her knifeSome authors have embraced the concept of innovation in their writing because they know being different,
gritty and edgy is a good way to set their names apart in the market. Menage and BDSM were all the rage not so long ago but now those books get lost in the shuffle of deviant sex tales. Fifty Shades opened up a whole new genre for readers but now there’s a glut and one has to wonder, what’s next? Let’s venture into the land of sex with prehistoric creatures and toasters and you’ve got a brand-new taboo subgenere for readers to sink their teeth into. Teeth…oh jeez, is cannibalism next??? Hot sex followed by dinner a la Hannibal Lecter, coupled with a nice Chanti and some fava beans? That would give a whole new meaning to characters tasting one another…wink, wink.

 

So what does all this mean if you’re an author trying to hit it big with your books, the ones you’ve poured your heart and soul into for months and months? What if you aren’t passionate about writing appliance erotica??? Are you destined for failure?

Here’s the truth. I don’t know. There are marketing tactics that have worked wonders for my sales and there are ones that have completely tanked. Unfortunately, no one tactic will launch a new author to NYT bestseller status unless you’re a Kardashian. There IS a magic formula but nobody knows exactly what elements are included and what worked even a year ago probably won’t have the same impact now because of the thousands of competing books published every week. So it’s mainly trial and error, and you have to be okay with that.

If you really are passionate about your writing, keep it up. You have to be able to look back and say, “I did it for me.” You may never win an award or hit a bestseller list but that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. When you give up on something you love because you’re frustrated with the outcome… that’s when you’ve failed.

So just keep calm and write. =)

Whistle While You Work…Or Run…Or Play Foosball

My workspace is pretty standard, very practical, but kind of boring if I’m being honest. Lots of desk space, tons of papers covering said space, cabinets, laptops, ever-present mug of coffee. I try to keep it organized but it’s not easy when ideas are constantly flowing out of my head and onto Post-Its. My name is Kristen and I’m a Post-It addict. Whenever I get a thought, I jot it down and stick it…well, wherever I can find space, which is a commodity.

Post it papers flying out from laptop

I sometimes wonder, how awesome would it be to create a workspace according to my own dream specifications? Like maybe a space where I could take a quick break and run on the treadmill to keep the creative juices flowing? With plush couches where I can plop down when the knots in my neck tighten after being hunched over my laptop for hours on end? One with large, floor to ceiling windows, lots of greenery, light, airy rooms and a fabulous view for inspiration? Maybe one with a nicely stocked refrigerator with lots of champagne so I can reward myself after spending the day agonizing over scenes and plot twists? It would be awesome to have a large-screen wall hanging television for those times I just need a mental break and want to watch re-runs of Impractical Jokers. And of course, a huge whiteboard for all those dang Post-Its would be nice!

modern empty office interior

Well, guess what? There is a company out there that can help me achieve my work zen, called WeWork. You signup to become a member and select from several packages that allow you different levels of access to custom workspaces. You can book a space for a day or longer, depending on your needs. Maybe you just want to have a couple of days a month where you venture off to another location to keep things percolating. You have that option with WeWork. And if you happen to be traveling to another location and need to reserve a spot while you are there, go to WeWork for options! It’s that simple.

The company has space in all the big hubs across the United States, with additional locations in Israel, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

So even if you aren’t traveling for business, maybe you just need a periodic escape to recharge your batteries. Comfort + mental calm = PRODUCTIVITY!!!

“Nothing Ventured” Is Live! It’s Giveaway Time!

It’s LAUNCH day!!!!!! Let’s CELEBRATE!!!! How about a giveaway, in honor of our delicious hero, Chris Camden?????

Glasses of champagne and sparklers on bright background with sparklers

Here’s to Chris, the Adonis and certifiable charmer with more lines than a supermarket before a snowstorm. With a panty-melting smile, ridiculous body that oozes pheromones, and a hot car, he’ll have your knees weak within minutes. I promise. <3

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card and a signed copy of ‘Unlikely Venture,” Book One of the Venture Series.

The contest closes on 9/22/2015 and the winner will be notified by email. GOOD LUCK!

Buy Nothing Ventured:

Amazon  Barnes & Noble  iBooks  Smashwords

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