Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me, Xena and the Giraffe

I began this bloggy adventure a year ago last June. We have the same birthdays (mine's Sunday). Awhile ago I posted about the evolution of this blog called Establishing a Platform. So I won't recap any of that but I'm wondering if it's time to put Xena to rest.

JulieeJohnsonn, a talented artistic writer I met through twitter sent out this sweet tweet yesterday: "I really like the coziness of @KarenGowan 's blog site for writers. Feels like we're all sitting around having coffee." (Thanks, Julie!) And it got me thinking if maybe Xena isn't the best profile for my image here. Cozy and Xena don't really match up.

Let me explain Xena. The reclusive writer who had been hiding for so long (moi) needed to become a warrior. To go after things more, to not be so timid and backward and scared about stuff-- like blogging, twitter, doing presentations, and promoting my books. Xena really kicked my butt in gear. She helped me get more followers (thank you guys!) and refine my platform. But Xena didn't fool twitter friend Julie. Julie saw through the warrior princess to who I really am-- a cozy homebody who knits, reads cozy mysteries and who likes to have friends over for food, drink and conversation. And the blog is where my writer friends come to hang out. (Hi guys! Welcome! Thanks for stopping by! Want a cookie?)

Xena helped me get the courage I needed this past year as I ventured into social media and elsewhere. Thank you, Warrior Princess! 

But I'm thinking of retiring her and bringing out the farm girl, who is more simple, homey and more like the real me. Plus it's my book cover, and if an author doesn't care enough to promote their work then who else will?

I think Xena would approve, don't you? But here's what's really holding me back:  Xena and giraffe-- yes, nice mix. Nebraska farm girl and giraffe-- huh? no connection whatsoever. And I can't bear to lose the giraffe! So yes, I'm torn. Any suggestions? Should I retire both Xena and the giraffe? Ouch, that would hurt.


  1. The only problem I see with Giraffe and Farm Girl is people might think you mean an African farm...

  2. Hi Amie! Yes, I tried it once before and they just didn't match up. At all.

  3. Kids love giraffes, so why should you not have both?

    And congratulations on the anniversary. And your avatar never fooled me either, but that may be because the first time I met you, it was with one of the posts you wrote in a weaker moment.

  4. Oh my goodness Rayna I am laughing so hard at your comment! And hey, that's a great idea: kids + giraffes = Why not?

  5. This is your blog, and if you want your book cover AND your giraffe, then you can have them. I'm not sure Xena+giraffe=any more logic than farm girl+giraffe (although I've only seen a Xena programme once, so I may be missing some important subtext here).

  6. Happy birthday!
    I think stick with the giraffe - he looks like he's seen something interesting on the horizon, which is nice.

  7. Xena? You mean that's not a picture of you Karen?

    But seriously - happy birthday. The giraffe is very nice but it has always puzzled me slightly ...

  8. Happy Birthday - you share it with my daughter!

  9. Happy birthday, Karen!

    When I don't have a point of view, I don't offer one :)

  10. Happy Birthday - Karen and congratulations on such a lovely site. I think Xena has served her purpose. I love the giraffe but I would go with the Farm Girl image.

  11. happy birthday!

    and i think the farm girl picture would be perfect.
    congratulations on your journey (though i'm sure you didn't REALLY need xena. you are most definitely strong enough to do it all yourself).

  12. Happy birthday to you!!!!!!!!! XENA is my goddess!! But if I have to choose between the goddess and the lovely giraffe... the giraffe wins - hands down! Yet both are inspirational. But not as inspirational as Farm Girl!

    Yikes - I guess I love all three!
    Take care

  13. First of all can I say congratulations and happy birthday!

    You have caught me in a bold moment (a touch of Xena perhaps?) The giraffe did puzzle me although I love the picture and sort of assumed that it was connected to the aiming high theme?? I was in awe of Xena when I first visited your blog. I am so relieved that you knit. :-)

    I think that Farm Girl replacing Xena would be good. One thing in favour of the giraffe: nobody else has one.

  14. Happy birthday(s)! Do you do warrior training camps? I need to channel Xena a little more often, I think.

    Oh, and I'd LOVE a cookie.

  15. Happy Birthday! I like Farm Girl. Xena blazed the trail, but if Farm Girl is more "you," then of course you should bring her out. :)

  16. Hey Karen! I love the giraffe and see no reason to get rid of him. As for Xena, it's good for her to go. She helped you accomplish your goal, but more as an assistant than as you. She's not you. Definitely not.

  17. Congratulations! And I'd keep Xena. Along with your header, it implies adventure and ruggedness.

  18. Farm girl and giraffe quite suit eachother really - the colours work and everything!
    Also, Happy Birthday :)

  19. I love your idea of using your FG cover as your profile pic. Xena, I'll miss you!

  20. HAPPY Birthday, Karen! :)

    I think Farm Girl would be a perfect avatar for you.

    Happy Friday!!

  21. Congratulations!
    And I use my book cover as my avatar. Might change that one day, but since "Spunk" is in the title, it fits.

  22. I can see why you've outgrown Xena, but I don't see her connection with the giraffe. Giraffe's can be the new black, and go with anything!

  23. Happy Birthday. Love the giraffe and the book cover as your avatar. It might get people thinking.

    Thoughts in Progress

  24. Who says that you have to do both at once. Retire Xena and then, when you've recovered, retire the other.


  25. Happy birthday twice, Karen. I can't answer your question, because I love both images. Xena, Warrior PRincess was one of my fave programs because she was fearless and I'm not. And Farm Girl is your book. And you have a large following on the Xena site. Would they follow you to this one? Good question. I think you should follow your heart. YOu can find a way to merge the two and make it work.

  26. Happy Birthday! Your blog birthday is just a week earlier than mine!

    On the picture -- I think your inner Xena is ready to let go and embrace the whole you.

  27. Happy Birthday and have a great blog celebration!

    I always like changing things up but I so associate the giraffe and Zena with your blog. Do what feels right to you - you can always change it again :)

  28. Hey I don't think you should get rid of the giraffe. The giraffe can symbolise 'rising above', you can see the world from a bigger and wiser perspective with your gorgeous long and elegant neck. You've learned a lot through your life and now is the time to point others in the right direction. You're still a warrior, just in a different sense. Now you're more like the giraffe - wise, beautiful, and open-minded with experience behind you. :o)

  29. Happy Birthday!!! Hope you have a wonderful weekend with LOTS of cupcakes!! :)

  30. At first I thought, retire Xena? No way. But now it makes sense, and I can see the sense in retiring the giraffe too. It'll be fun to have a new look. Go for it. :)

  31. Ah! So that's the reason for Xena! I was wondering why! Hm, I say retire Xena and bring out the Farm Girl.

    I do love the girafee, though.

    And Happy Blog Birthday! :)

  32. Ahem. Giraffe, not girafee.

    (I'm not drinking! I swear!)

  33. Well, you obviously have a lot of followers! I think people will stay with you no matter what you do with your "logos." But as MT says, it's fun to have a new look. But then I'm one who keeps moving the furniture around, and changing blog templates (though there's only so much one can do with those, thank goodness)! Personally, I would go with the cozy, whatever you decide that is, since that's how I see you too (it comes through your posts!).

    And Happy Birthday! May you have a lovely weekend.

  34. I've got used to the giraffe - although s/he does take up the whole of the 'above the fold' space on my laptop. Quite unusual but I wonder if it might stop casual visitors seeing your top post and your sidebar, if everyone's computer processes it like I do....

  35. I totally understand the appeal of Xena! I have a Xena Warrior Princess magnet on my fridge!

    But I also understand how we identify with different things at different times...

    I think your writer/artistic intuition will let you know eventually which look is right for you right now...

    BTW, I love this site because it is so comfortable. And everyone who leaves a comment delivers the same sense of ease. You've created a great space here!

    Julie Johnson

  36. Happy Bloggiversary! (mine is tomorrow, which is sort of funny to be on the exact same schedule, as I ALSO have a June Birthday--though not for 12 days).

    I LIKE the help Xena's given you--I totally see the role she needed to play, and yeah... an anniversary may be exactly the right time to retire her (though don't send her to a home or anything just yet--there may be times you need her...)

    I'm amazed at the followers you've amassed in a year! You must offend fewer people than I do *snort* Or maybe just be better at that networky thing... (or most likely, both)

  37. Congratulations! I'm not even sure when my blog birthday is.
    I love the farm girl. Promoting the book is important. Xena's great, though, and you can hang her picture above your desk!
    As for Mr. Giraffe (or is it Ms.?), you can always search for something you like better. If you can't find anything, keep the giraffe!

  38. Happy Birthday, and Happy Blogiversary! I always kind of liked Xena, myself :D

  39. Congrats - happy birthday & happy bloggyversary :)

    Go with your heart. I love Xena, but the farm girl is also great. If she's the book cover, that throws my vote her way... I think :)

  40. Happy birthday to you, Xena and the giraffe. I agree with Queenie – it’s your blog, you can do whatever you want! Personally, I like eclectic looking blogs.

  41. Just rotate them! I like all three. :) Congrats on your anniversary!

  42. Happy Blog Birthday! I think you're doing a great job.


  43. No, no, no - KEEP THE GIRAFFE!!! Let me tell you why - I was redirected here by the lovely Watery Tart (Hart Johnson at, and before I had read a single word on your blog, I clicked "follow" BECAUSE YOU HAVE A GIRAFFE IN YOUR HEADER!!! I'm sorry for shouting, but this got me very fired up. Giraffes are the awesomest creatures on the planet, and I absolutely LOVE that you have one so prominently displayed on your site!
    I should also add that I proceeded to read a few of your posts after clicking following, and this really looks like a great blog. So my giraffe-intuition was correct.
    Pretty please keep the giraffe?

    Slightly belated happy bloggiversary, and slightly early happy birthday! :)

  44. I like Xena, the farm girl, and the giraffe, so unfortunately I'm no help in that department. Maybe you could use all three? I do like the "warrior" idea, though; I think that's a great attitude to have towards your writing.

  45. Thanks everyone for chiming in. The giraffe stays, I know that for sure. And I'm afraid to lose Xena too, because then I might turn into a wimp and lose my edge. Aaaargh! There's no simple answers. Anyway, I enjoyed all your comments and had tons of chuckles over them. And I appreciate the birthday wishes as well!

  46. I love your your alto ego Xena, how fun! Yes, enjoy the giraffe and your Blog Birthday...Congrats!!! I enjoy your play on words; why can't Xena, farm girl and giraffe merge together! Three is a very lucky number!
    WE all need to bring our inner warriors out...
    You are finding the best of these worlds...

    Celebrate, with a giraffe cake add some farm girl styling decor(red n' white checked napkins, forks n' knives in tractor trucks,kid sized, and denim place mats) and dress like Xena, cut the cake with your sword~!

  47. Happy Birthday.

    I actually like the giraffe, I think he adds intrigue.

  48. I agree with some others: retire Xena and then the giraffe.

    I 100% think you need to brand yourself and make you and your novel the focus. I didn't really understand the giraffe, if I'm being honest. But obviously it didn't turn me away. I scrolled down, though, wondering what it had to do with writing. If there'd been an obvious tie-in I'd have gotten it. I didn't notice Xena or realize who she was. (Sorry - being honest to be helpful, only since you asked.)

    My two cents. :-)

    (Your blog is great! She's right: cozy.)

    Happy birthday!

    - Corra

    the victorian heroine

  49. Here's what I think. Put up a picture of YOU! I want to see YOUR face! The giraffe is nice but change is good too. There are so many fun ways you could decorate your blog. I change my frequently, usually with the season. It's fun and pulls you out of your comfort zone. (like putting up a picture of YOU)

    That's just what little ole me thinks, for what it's worth.

  50. happy late birthday!

    I agree with Melissa, a picture of you would be great.

    Love the giraffe though. The giraffe gets my vote for staying!

  51. Al & Melissa,

    I just turned another year older. I will not tell you how old but I am not feeling like posting a picture at the moment! Maybe I should go get one of those glamour shots and use it for my author pic? Meanwhile, if you must look at a picture of me, go to my other blog--

  52. I am partial to Xena, but that's because it's one of my favorite shows. I still pop it in on a "me" night when the hubby is out with friends. Technically, Xena was a farm girl too. She grew up on a farm. She had many skills. However, I say you put up your actual Farm Girl cover instead and keep the giraffe. We'll just pretend it's a giraffe that thinks it's a cow and it will fit in just fine on that farm. ;-) If you need Xena again later, you can pop her back up at that time. Happy belated Birthday!

  53. Happy birthday and blog anniversary!!!!!! xo

    Do NOT retire Xena. Put a picture of yourself and replace the giraffe with a giant Xena on the top.

    It's been wonderful following your blog, seeing it and you develop. May you and your blog have a great year.

  54. Happy Birthday!!

    And there's no need to retire both, there's no limit to inspiration. I take all I can get. :)