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.

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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.

 

Art Imitating Life

Every writer gets asked this question from time to time, and it comes in different forms. How do you come up with all those stories? Where do you get your ideas?

For my embezzlement plot arc, I studied different cases online, looking at some of the techniques and Ponzi schemes that have been prosecuted lately. I’ve worked in offices for most of my adult life, and some of that is drawn from events I’ve seen.

Some of book three is taking place in Venezuela, and there were actually some big international crime rings busted from Venezuela, so I’m looking at some of that for inspiration.

There is one scene in No Strings Attached that was ripped from the headlines of my life, and that’s when an employee is let go near the end of the book. This particular employee is eating a muffin while she is being terminated, and its’ sticky, and she doesn’t know what to do with her hands. Awkward. I thought so.

Chocolate.jpg

“Chocolate” by André Karwath aka Aka – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

Because it happened to me. I was in a terrible job, looking for another one, but nothing was panning out yet. I went to work every day telling my husband that I might quit soon. The kids were young, 3 and 4, and if I pulled them out of their preschool they would lose their slots. If I wasn’t working I couldn’t pay the preschool tuition. It was a Catch-22, so I had held on, looking but not ready to let go of the job that I had.

Right before Christmas, my boss’s boss called me into his office.  I had been there almost three months, and it was a bad fit. I knew it. They knew it. No one had made a move.

We had been working on a document all morning, and I thought he had more changes. I walked in his office carrying a gourmet chocolate bar imported from Greece that one of the drivers had given everyone in the office. The bar was a milk chocolate bar that was firm enough to eat, but still left chocolate all over everything. He proceeded to let me go – gently – right before Christmas. I had the presence of mind to ask for severance and got paid through the end of February. I had a new job by then, and all was right in the world. Seven years later, I’m still in the same job, and still love it, but I will never forget that moment of shock. My husband had tried to warn me, but I thought they didn’t have the guts to do it.

So, there you have it. I don’t usually use things that happen to me in my fiction, but in this case, I couldn’t pass it up.

Sometimes things happen in real life that are way too strange for fiction.

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Cover Reveal: Under His Protection

Are you ready? I’ve held onto this one for almost six months. This is the cover that made me change the name from No Time for Love to Under His Protection.

 

 

I am so excited about this book. We continue Lee’s story, and no, he’s no with Deena, the chef he was dating in the first book.

Fox and Laura are in several scenes, and they are getting ready for their wedding.

Lindsey has been at Clemson for a year, and is progressing towards her Master’s degree in mathematics.

Lee has started his new business, as he planned in No Strings Attached, but he’s having trouble getting any traction. No one wants to give a new company a chance. Robert Stephens, his mother’s husband, uses his connections to get Lee an interview with Senator Martin Crowne, who wants to hire security for his daughter.

Elizabeth Crowne (don’t call her Beth) is running for attorney general for the state of Georgia. Someone is threatening her with vicious notes, but she doesn’t think they need to hire security. She has a feeling that her ex-fiancé is behind the threats and it will all blow over. She goes along with the bodyguard for her dad, but she thinks it’s a waste of time and money. When the threats become attacks, she has to admit that someone wants her dead.

Two jaded loners find a connection, but nothing is as it seems.  As Lee digs deeper, looking for answers, he only raises more questions, uncovering a conspiracy that goes deeper than they suspected. When those closest to you betray your trust, nothing is sacred.

Originally I envisioned this series as connected books, meaning that they share characters and not much else in terms of story line.  However, I found unresolved issues carrying forward into this book, and the plots are becoming more entwined than I planned. For this reason, I recommend they be read in order, and put the order number on the cover. My editor has the complete book now, and I am hoping for a release date in June or early July.

Today I dropped the price for No Strings Attached to $0.99, to celebrate its birthday. I’m planning to run the sale through the end of May. I’m not sure how long the different retailers will take to lower the price, but you can find a direct link to your preferred ebook seller here.  All-Romance ebooks also sells the book in pdf format if you don’t have an ebook reader. The book is now available in iTunes, Kobo, and the Nook. You can also download a kindle reader app for your tablet.

Everyone who signs up for my new email list between now and the end of May will be entered for a drawing for a $5.00 giftcard to Starbucks. You can choose either the monthly newsletter option, or the email on new release only option. Either way, you’re eligible for the drawing.

The first newsletter will go out June, and the contest will reset. So be one of the first subscribers and have a chance to win. Newsletter subscribers will also be the first to read the new prequel that I’m coming out with in August or September, that explains tells some of what happened in the first book from Lindsey’s point of view. What really happened in that casino with Ric? Sign up for the nesletter here

Happy Birthday to No Strings Attached!

The official birthday for my book is May 25, 2013, because that’s when it went live on Amazon. But on May 24th, at about ten o’clock at night, I clicked publish.

2013-07-08 11.00.55It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year. One year ago today, on May 24, I clicked publish on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program. We had checked and checked and made changes, and as I stared at that screen, I was terrified. What if I had some stupid error? What if everyone hated it? What if? What if? What if?

It’s scary as a writer to Let it Go. (Cue the Frozen song, because that’s what we do at our house).

But I knew that I had put too much time and effort into that book to let it languish on my computer. So I hit publish. Since no one knew me from Adam, and I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on promotion, I’m pretty proud of my results. In it’s first year, my book has sold over 500 copies.  The most interesting thing for me is that I have developed quite a following in the UK. For the past two or three months, I have sold more books over there than in the United States.

I have had strangers email me and tell me how much they enjoyed it. People regularly harass me as to when I’m releasing the sequel. So, to celebrate the one year anniversary of No Strings Attached, tomorrow I’m going to reveal the cover for Under His Protection.

I struggle with titles. The working title for the first book was always A Corporate Affair. The sequel was to be called A Political2013-12-07 11.46.15 Affair.

Then I decided to start each book in the series with the word No. So, following No Strings Attached, I planned to have No Time for Love, which was the working title for the second book. Tomorrow you will get to see the cover that made me change my title to Under His Protection.

If I wasn’t using the title to tie the series together, I needed a series name. I liked the idea of the city background for all of my books in this series, so I decided to name the series City Lights. While we travel to the Caribbean a good bit in the books, much of the action takes place in Vegas, Miami and Atlanta in the first book, and Atlanta in the second. Plus using the city background ties the covers together. Here’s the new cover for No Strings Attached with the series name.

Tomorrow I will celebrate the first book by starting a week long sale, and we’ll have a big cover reveal for the second book.  Everyone who signs up for my new email list between now and the end of May will be entered for a drawing for a $5.00 giftcard to Starbucks. You can choose either the monthly newsletter option, or the email on new release only option. Either way, you’re eligible for the drawing.

The first newsletter will go out June, and the contest will reset. So be one of the first subscribers and have a chance to win. Newsletter subscribers will also be the first to read the new prequel that I’m coming out with in August or September, that explains tells some of what happened in the first book from Lindsey’s point of view. What really happened in that casino with Ric? Sign up here