Gender Discrimination Still Happens

I stumbled across a blog in the Chronicle of Higher Education reporting that the University of Colorado paid $40,000 to settle a gender-bias case. Keep in mind that the University of Colorado at Boulder has roughly 32,000 students. This is not a small organization.

I encourage you to read the article, but here are the damning quotes as far as I’m concerned:

“In her complaint, Ms. Miglarese said she had resigned from the university because Mr. Ikenberry and Al Smith, an associate business dean, discriminated against her for being a woman over the age of 40, and created a hostile work environment.
She also said Mr. Smith had systematically sought to remove women from leadership positions.
Two other women have filed gender-discrimination complaints against Mr. Ikenberry, who was reappointed this summer to a second five-year term.”

Did you see the word reappointed? The article continues.

“Two other women have filed gender-discrimination complaints against Mr. Ikenberry, who was reappointed this summer to a second five-year term.

The university has struggled with sexual harassment in its philosophy department, where an outside review found the program was rife with “inappropriate, sexualized unprofessional behavior.”

The end result? The University of Colorado- Boulder reappointed a supervisor who had received at least three sexual harassment/discrimination complaints. Forty thousand is pocket change with these kind of violations. Considering the attorney will get 30-40% depending on their contract, the person who filed the complaint will receive only $24,000. (Unless the defendant agreed to pay attorney’s charges, which wasn’t mentioned.)

This is why women don’t speak up more. I’m sure all of the time and effort of filing a lawsuit wasn’t worth the result. Even though she won the case, I consider this a loss for the plaintiff because nothing changed.

You can read the article here:

www.chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/u-of-colorado-pays-40000-to-settle-gender-bias-case/

Want to hear about my brush with obvious gender bias? Once, as a consultant, I gave a speech to a county board of commissioners to discuss my project. I was probably 34 or 24. I spoke after a consultant who was probably ten years older than me. He got flustered with the questions they asked him. When I talked about my portion of the project, I answered their questions without hesitating.

As the other consultant and I were leaving, one of the county commissioners stepped forward and told me that I did a great job for a girl. I just smiled and nodded. What else could I do? He thought he was giving me a compliment.

Have you ever been treated differently because you were a woman? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

_____

In my book No Strings Attached, Laura Todd works for a consulting firm where the director treats the women in his office as servants. Here’s an excerpt:

Laura headed to the break-room to make coffee. Lloyd liked his coffee early, but apparently she wasn’t fast enough, because he came stomping out of his office.

Days when Lloyd worked in the office were the worst. He loomed over her and slammed two coffee cups on the counter. The cups clattered as they banged into each other.

“These were still in my office from yesterday,” he said, his tone accusing.

“Amanda told me to stay out of your office.”

“She’ll be in late, may not be in at all. Some sort of stomach bug. I need a cup of coffee.”

“It’s not ready yet.”

“Bring it into my office, then. Make it black.” He brushed past her when he left.

“Somebody got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning,” she muttered to herself. If Lloyd planned to sell the company, she wished he would get on with it. He came into the office just long enough to disrupt everything and put everyone in a foul mood.

When she set the coffee on his desk, he barely looked up from his computer. Perhaps she should bob and curtsy as well.

If you want to read more, download the sample from the Amazon link below. You’ll find a hot Vegas weekend, a missing sister and embezzlement charges. Currently the book can be read for free if you subscribe to in Kindle Unlimited.

 

Baffled by Technology and Social Media

I have been talking with my friends about technology lately, and the divide is growing between people on social media and people who aren’t. It seems to me that in general, as you grow older, unless you make a positive effort to stay current, you will just stop being interested in new tech. Inertia in the tech world is a killer.

I went to dinner with several friends in their early to mid fifties last Saturday at a retirement reception for a professor, and this was clear then. Out of eight people at the table, the only two who were on Facebook were the two who are in their late forties (me and another person that I graduated with). The others had all avoided it. Three of them even have kids, and that surprised me. Usually kids keep us current, but no, not this group. And the reason why I hadn’t heard from them in twenty -odd years is because they weren’t on Facebook.

It wasn’t like they had chosen to avoid Facebook and use Twitter or Instagram instead, which some people have been doing lately. They avoided all of it.

But then I think back to when I joined Facebook. I had never heard of it, and my husband joined first. I joined because of him. He’s the cool one in my family. Now neither of our kids want a Facebook account, although our 13-year old daughter has Snapchat, Instagram (or Insta as she calls it), and Twitter. I joined Snapchat and Instagram because our daughter hangs out here, but I still can’t force myself to look at Instagram much.

Here are my basic thoughts about the different social media platforms that I’ve had experience with.

  • Facebook –
    • Pros: It’s still my favorite, especially since I have weeded out all of the political people. I do like seeing how my friends from all over the country are doing, and I love connecting with writers who I have discovered in groups there: Colorado, Kansas, Texas, Georgia, New Zealand, and even Australia. I have actually met the one from Colorado in person when I flew to Denver, and I met the one in Georgia when I went down to Savannah for a conference. Although we had never met in person, it was like we were old friends in both cases. I also like how you can hide annoying people.
    • Cons: Why do people continue to post the “Pray for me” posts that say only that? Not what they want prayer for? If it’s too sensitive to post, then message your closest friends and move on. That avoids twenty responses that are basically “OMG! What’s Wrong!” followed by “I’ll PM you”.  She could have just PM’d them to begin with.
  • Twitter –
    • Pros: Twitter moves fast and furious, and if you collect a large number of followers, it can become  unwieldy if you don’t use the list feature. I like twitter for the personal interaction.
    • Cons: Sometimes Twitter sounds like a cocktail party where everyone in the room is shouting at each other and no one is listening. I’ve followed a lot of authors, and so much of their posts are “BUY MY BOOKS!” that it just becomes noise at some point.
    • Oh, and when my profile says I don’t like direct messages, then why do you do it? And when I get the followers who are selling more fake twitter followers, I block them. Who needs those people in their life?
  • Instagram –
    • Pros: None. I’m on it because my daughter is on it.
    • Cons: I don’t know the user names, which means half the time I don’t know who these people are.
  • Pinterest –
    • Pros: I like sharing pictures of my research that I do for my books.
    • Cons: I really don’t understand it, and I don’t do crafts or complicated recipes. Sometimes my life is a Pinterest fail, but only because I refuse to follow directions on recipes. I prefer winging it.
  • Snapchat –
    • Pros: You can share images without using much data. My daughter loves it.
    • Cons: Sometimes I just want to keep a copy of the Snapchat. I still don’t understand how to take a screenshot.

If I left out your favorite social media, you must be younger than I am and it’s because I’m not on them.

What frustrates you about social media? Do you wish you were less connected?

Virginia Woolf – Trending on Twitter?

Yesterday I noticed that Virginia Woolf (d. 1941), one of the foremost modernists in English literature, was trending on twitter. What on earth? I was surprised, since I had not heard of a new movie or book coming out about her. It turns out a new audio recording was found of her voice, which kicked off an avalanche of twitter love. Yesterday was also her birthday.

Here is a link to the recording on the BBC: BBC Audio Recording by Virginia Woolf. I love British accents, but other than that, it doesn’t do much for me.

The Indigo Girls wrote a song, “Virginia Woolf” in 1992, as part of the album Rites of Passage. I love this album. 1992 was prime music time for me. I was 24, single, and had all the time in the world to become a writer. Unfortunately, after a disastrous year in the Purdue MFA program in Creative Writing, I was mentally blocked.

Even then, this song spoke to me. Part of the words are below:

They published your diary
And that’s how I got to know you
The key to the room of your own
And a mind without end

And here’s a young girl
On a kind of a telephone line through time
And the voice at the other end
Comes like a long lost friend

So I know I’m alright
Life will come and life will go
Still I feel it’s alright
‘Cause I just got a letter to my soul

And when my whole life is on the tip of my tongue
Empty pages for the no longer young
The apathy of time laughs in my face
You say “Each life has it’s place”

The hatches were battened
The thunder clouds rolled and the critics stormed
The battle surrounded the white flag of your youth
If you need to know that you weathered the storm
Of cruel mortality
A hundred years later I’m sittin’ here living proof

Read more: Indigo Girls – Virginia Woolf Lyrics | MetroLyrics

If you want to watch the video, here is the link:


On one of the Indigo Girls’ live albums, Emily Saliers talks about how her mother sent her a copy of Virginia Woolf’s diary, and that’s how she wrote the song. Emily is a prolific songwriter, and I can imagine that connection. I’ve felt it before from writers who are long gone.

There are so many books published now: ebooks ranging in length from short stories to long tomes, traditionally published books with small print runs giving service to what the New York editors deem is literature these days, and then the blockbuster novels that basically fund the big New York houses. Books can go viral in a heartbeat if they trigger emotion in enough people. Am I that good? I’d like to be. I’m not there yet, but with every book I refine my craft.

Now, Virginia Woolf is not only reaching out to people through her diaries, she is also trending on Twitter. Her story is sad in so many ways, especially considering her battle with mental illness and eventual suicide. She has been an inspiration to many, and yesterday Twitter stood up and paid attention. You go, Virginia.

And how am I doing? Editing the final book in City Lights, Winner Takes All, in a frenzy. Soon, baby soon. This will wind everything up. By the time I get edits back from the editor, I’m thinking early March. Hopefully I will have a pre-order link up soon.

 

Christmas Cards – Yes or No?

It’s that time of year again. If you want to do Christmas cards, you’d better get on it.

I thought for a few years that Christmas cards were dying out, but I’ve seen a resurgence lately. All of the young married couples I know are sending them, and that’s encouraging that perhaps the tradition will continue. I always thought Christmas cards were a great way to stay in touch. That has become less of an issue with social media, but there is still something about getting that card and displaying it for the weeks (or days) before Christmas.

I’m late this year. One year we cut way back on cards, and my family who live in Georgia wanted to know why they didn’t get their annual picture of our kids. So we continue.

We don’t use a professional photographer, but we do try to get a picture with the kids dressed in something other than shorts and a T-shirt. Preferably in front of the tree. This year it took forever to find a night when we actually had time for the kids to get dressed up and pose for a picture. IT turns out we took the picture the night of their Christmas band concert. They are both in white and black concert attire, so it worked.

I’ve found that the older I get, the more I like the photo cards. I know some people don’t like them, but I think it’s neat seeing how much my faraway friends’ kids have grown.

After all the sitcoms mocked the Christmas newsletters, no one really does that much anymore, but I wish that they did. It would be nice having a summary of the year. My husband mocked me the last time I tried one, so I quit.

We still haven’t uploaded our photo yet to print the cards. We ran out of time tonight. Tomorrow is it. If we don’t get them in the mail Saturday, we might as well not bother.

Curious who you should send cards to? I ran across this infographic from Grammarly that may help you. (Thank you to Grammarly, https://www.grammarly.com/grammar-check, for allowing me to pass this along.

GenX

 

What are your thoughts? Are you sending cards this year? Like the newsletters? Hate them? Weigh in.

 

Thanksgiving — The In-Between Holiday

2014-11-28 15.35.19

Last year’s tree

I have found among my friends on social media that there are two camps of people: those who start their Christmas celebrations in early to mid-November, and those who wait until after Thanksgiving. Not only are there two different camps, the two groups have become openly contemptuous of the other side. Stores are running commercials now mocking other stores that are opening on thanksgiving, purporting that they are supporting family values by staying closed.

What are your thoughts? I sit on the fence. Some years we put up our tree a day or two before Thanksgiving, while other years we wait until the day after, also known as Black Friday. I refuse to listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving, despite the fact that my regular radio station switches to all Christmas songs on November 1. I promptly switch stations until after Christmas.

Here are some of my favorite traditions for Thanksgiving:

This is the only holiday that my family comes up from Georgia, so I spend extra time on the table. I use my good china and my grandmother’s “grape glasses.”

This year, I’m making a cheeseball for an appetizer, homemade cranberry sauce, and corn. My amazing husband will make the turkey, ham, and cornbread dressing (not stuffing). My daughter will make the deviled eggs (her specialty). (When we first started hosting thanksgiving for my family seventeen years ago, I said I would do it but I would not touch the turkey. That stipulation continues today.)

My mother brings sweet potato casserole and pecan pies. My sister brings hash brown casserole and this year is bringing green beans. Our cousin Barbara will bring macaroni pie, Veg-All casserole and grape salad.

I love a good casserole. Yes, I was raised in the eighties in the South, and I love casseroles. I would make a green bean casserole but my husband doesn’t like them. Sigh.

Sometimes we might add a dish here or there, or swap a vegetable, but I’m not interested in trying new dishes on Thanksgiving. Everyone wants their tried and true favorites. My mom sighed when I confirmed this morning that she planned to bring the sweet potatoes and pecan pies. She may be tired of fixing it, and bored, but we don’t care. It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving for us without them.

What are your family traditions for Thanksgiving? Do you go shopping on Friday? or on Thursday night? I don’t like crowds, so I avoid all of that mess on Friday, but my mother and sister meet and hit the stores early. More power to them. Whatever your traditions, Happy thanksgiving!!

 

Found This Amazing Tool…

On Tuesdays I plan to talk about books, or travel. But today, I’m going to talk about the new tool that I bought: a simple 5 x 9 weekly planner.Planner

I know, I might as well buy a Rolodex, right? Paper planners are a wee bit out dated. I haven’t bought one in years. I have an iPhone and all sorts of apps, but decided yesterday on a lark that I really needed to see my blogging and writing schedule on paper.

You may have noticed I haven’t blogged much lately. I’ve been spending time writing more, and all of the other demands of being a wife, mother, and full-time worker-bee at my day job had me feeling overwhelmed. But here’s the other reason. When I would think of something I wanted to include in a blog, I wouldn’t have time to do it right then, so I would tell myself to remember it later.

Did I remember it later? Um… nope. I did not. Unless I had something scheduled with another author, I just let it slide.

My new calendar is helpful for keeping track of book promotions I’m running, blog posts I want to do, and little niggly tasks I need to take care of.

One perfect example is that our bank was bought out, and all of our account numbers have to change. As a result, my family is in the process of changing banks. I was getting overwhelmed trying to keep track of all of the different bills and automatic withdrawals that I had to change to the new bank accounts. I made a list in my new planner, and I feel much more on top of it.

This little planner is small enough to fit in my purse, so I can take it with me.

So… 1995, I’m back!!!!

What do you think? Has our modern world moved past the days of a paper calendar? Or do you still use one?

Plotting Versus Pantsing

or Why (my) Novels Take so Long to Write!!

Anywhere novelists gather, you’re sure to find a discussion of plotting versus pantsing. Do you write a detailed plot in advance, or do you wing it? There are shades along each spectrum, from pages and pages of outlines to the plot summarized on a cocktail napkin.

I have a general idea of the plot, including major turning points, but then I wing it. Here’s a better explanation.

For the Win City Lights Book Three__200x300I don’t write short stories, but if I did, envision a trip from Greenville, SC to Atlanta, GA. About 150 miles, or 233 kilometers. Having lived near both cities, I’ve done that drive. It’s fairly easy, without a lot of issues. If you set your GPS, or your phone’s map app, you might find it says it will take you two hours and thirteen minutes with no stops. That’s reasonable. If you choose to stop off halfway at the outlet malls in Commerce, that’s your choice, but it doesn’t change the drive time. You will just get there later. You arrive, short story done, crank out a few edits, and that’s that.

Some writing websites meant to encourage writers try to throw math into the equation. If you sit down and write ten pages a night, you will have three hundred pages in a month. That’s the premise behind National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO) in November of each year. Thousands of people are determined to write a novel in a month, and they try to churn out fifty thousand words, no editing, and call it a novel. Some of my writer friends who don’t have day jobs or kids can do that, and their work is still good. I am not that writer.

For the Win, around 105 pages printed, about 39,000 words, took me from August to April, nine months. That was a record time. Its companion, Breaking Even, has 40,000 words and I’m not done with edits. The grand finale, Winner Take All, has about 30,000 words and there are major holes. While I’m not working on them both at the same time, I had to nail some issues down before I could finish Breaking Even.

Right now I’m doing first edits, where I review the book chapter by chapter and send it to my editor. I’m halfway done with that. Ric and Lindsey are living in separate places during a good bit of this book, which makes the writing of a romance difficult. They are also an odd couple, especially considering how they came together.

Going back to my GPS metaphor, things happen during the first round of edits that you wouldn’t expect. If you are traveling from Atlanta to New York City by car, all sorts of things could happen. It’s 880 miles, or 1416 km. One online calculator says 13 hours two minutes. (Two minutes? Really?) Flat tire. Bad traffic. Road construction. Interesting sights that cause delays. Most people would split this trip into two days, so that adds to the time, including meals, bathroom stops…

The same thing happens when writing a novel. Real life gets in the way. Even with a first draft done, for me, things can happen during the first edit. A scene that sounded like a good idea suddenly reads flat. Or when you read it, you think Why on earth would this character do that? Or you left a hole with a note – fill this in with x, but suddenly x is the last thing you can fit there because of some other change. Or you read a scene, realize there’s no point to this particular interaction, and start cutting. This is when the GPS notices you’ve changed routes and you hear that dreaded computer voice Recalculating.

For my fans who want to know when the book will be out, I have committed to a release date of September 7. I’m hoping I can get these characters to stop arguing long enough to finish edits on Breaking Even earlier. If edits are done sooner, I will release it sooner, but I don’t want to rush it and have a bunch of errors either.

If you want to know an exact date, well, all I can say is Recalculating.

 

News:

Check out my new Pinterest board over at https://www.pinterest.com/MissLilyBishop/

I have just started using this to post inspiration and research ideas for my books, particularly with furnishings and that sort of thing.

 

If you are an author, how do you feel about pantsing versus plotting? If you are a reader, would you rather see fewer, longer works, or more frequent and shorter?

A Universal Disclaimer

I’m married to a lawyer, and we often joke about the warning labels, or the warnings that they include at the end of commercials for a new drug treatment.

For one of her school projects, my 12-year old daughter wrote I now believe is the universal a disclaimer.

Stop_sign_us

 

The product above does not reflect the opinions of me, my friends, my parents, or my cat. Safety goggles may be required for use. Keep in a cool dry place. If ear irritation occurs call your local doctor. If ear irritation persists call your mom. Slippery when wet. Not responsible for a refund if the following happens: Fire, water, volcanic eruptions, gas leaks, sunburn, stickiness, pain everywhere, pimples, zits, skin discoloration, comas, seizures, breaking of bones, loss of mental awareness, loss of physical awareness, wetness, explosion, inability to turn off, inability to come off, inability to breathe, inability to move, inability to change facial expression, inability to talk, inability to write, inability to read, or death.

There you have it, folks. If you need a disclaimer, feel free to grab this one.

I’m getting ready for a big announcement, so if you want to be one of the first ones to hear, sign up for my newsletter here.

 

Stop sign us” by DoriOwn work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

 

The Cheese that Wouldn’t Melt (A Cooking Channel Fail)

Sometimes you get something in your head that you want, and today I wanted a nice home made cheese dip, you know the white cheese kind that you buy in a Mexican Restaurant. I had told my husband we would have quesadillas for lunch, and he made the chicken. I stopped by the store and picked up the white queso package that you melt to get cheese dip. I’ve never paid much attention, but I’ve seen it before, and I purchased it without a lot of thought.

No, I did not. I picked up a different white queso package (queso fresca) that is designed to not melt. It’s used in filling for stuffed peppers. Apparently I needed queso blanca. I got home, realized that I didn’t have as many tortillas as I thought, and ran back to the store, only ten minutes away. My husband said he would keep the cheese moving along in the melting process. I had already chopped it into smaller bits, and it just needed monitoring. Neither of us had ever heard of this horrible invention, cheese that does not melt.

Non-Melting Cheese

Non-Melting Cheese

 

By the time I came back, he had Googled “How to melt queso fresca.” The answer was that you do not. When they say it doesn’t melt, no amount of coaxing will get it to melt. We added different cheeses, milk, butter, taco sauce–ended up with a thin lumpy cheese dip that wasn’t very festive at all.

I won’t even talk about the fact that I caused a glass bowl to crack because I wanted to use it as a double boiler. Bobby Flay did it on Saturday, why couldn’t I?

I like to cook, and I like to experiment and try new things, and I’m not afraid to admit when I get it wrong. If you want to get a big laugh, check out my attempt at peanut butter balls here at Peanut Butter Hands of Death.

I will have to work in this whole non-melting cheese event into a book someday.

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Happy Valentine’s Day – I think

Trashed Roses

Broken Heart, or Dead Flowers?

I am really not sure who today’s holiday is for.

Girls/women over the age of 16 who are otherwise well adjusted get upset if they aren’t part of a couple.

Boys/men over the age of 16 who aren’t dating rejoice that they don’t have to participate in this “commercial holiday.”

Couples who have been married a while don’t want to deal with the hassle of going out on the most crowded night of the year. My husband and I fit that category.

Women in relationships over a certain length of time have hope there will be a proposal today, but invariably they are disappointed because that’s just too overdone.

Guys trying to impress that new girlfriend spend way too much money or rack their brains to do something different or non-cliche.

So, to sum up, best I can tell, the only people that enjoy the holiday are little kids before puberty (because the candy) and women who have been dating less than a year who don’t expect a ring but whose boyfriend still wants to impress. So, for that subset of the population, enjoy your day. (Another exception is couples celebrating their anniversary on Valentine’s Day — they have a different excuse, right?)

For the rest of us, celebrate love in your own way, whether you are single or married or divorced or widowed or whatever. My husband says he is cooking dinner, which works for me as long as he cleans up after. :)

Remember that romantic love isn’t the only kind of love, and the legend is that St. Valentine sent handwritten cards. Not diamonds or rubies or flowers. The big consumer machine got you good on this one.