Category Archives: Writerly Musings

How to Fire an Employee in 5 Easy Steps.

Firing someone isn’t as easy as some reality shows might depict. Sure, it’s fun to think about being a strong executive able to dismiss someone on a whim.

In reality? Your showing someone the door has real world consequences that those with empathy know all too well. I’m assuming your employee has a problem OTHER than a terminally ill relative, or they were the one with a terminal illness, a serious loss in the family be it a person, pet, or home, or a severe injury meeting all of the above criteria. I would add, as a former military spouse (he retired from the Army Reserves and is great, thanks!) that losing a loved one to deployment could affect your staff member’s work ethic as well.

All of the above may not be legally protected by Labor Laws, and that doesn’t really matter until step four. I’ll assume you don’t want to be a Worst Boss of the Year by firing your employee after their father dies of cancer on the same day as their dog was run over on their way back from saying goodbye to their deploying spouse.

How does someone let a problematic employee leave for “greener pastures?” Here you go.

  1. If empathy and caring about your employees are problems for you, don’t worry. There is a real and legal reason for NOT skipping step one’s empathy and emotional quagmire. Start a paper trail now, because if the person really is a liability to the company, a paper trail will keep you from being sued for unemployment. You’ll want to sit the problem person down and have a talk with them about what’s going right and what’s going wrong. Emphasis on the wrong. Have a checklist, a signable checklist, for how the awry behavior will change in the immediate future. They sign, you give them an atta girl or atta boy, and the behavior is corrected, profits rise, and we’re all happy.
  2. But, if nothing changes? You will yet again sit them down in a private area and ask what was unclear about the first meeting, in a kind and direct way. They explain or excuse, you listen and reintroduce the checklist as a reminder.
  3. And then that didn’t work. Fine. Bring them in again, again ask what was unclear and is it clear now that they’re on a probation of sorts? They’ll probably mumble yes, promise to change, you shake hands and voila! Problem solved.
  4. When nothing has worked so far? You gave the person three chances/warnings and documented what was said and promised. I would say you bring them in and give them two weeks. Except, I was in Information Technology for most of my cube farm life and forewarned gives an angry employee a chance to set up retaliation. Instead, follow your company’s procedures for termination. If you are your own CEO of a large enough company for Human Resources, why are you reading this? You’re too busy, and it’s why you have an HR. If you’re like me, the CEO of a tiny empire, the legality of terminating is a problem. Especially when it comes to being sued. Review the termination for cause for your state because no two states are the same. Set up your legal defense and reasons for showing your employee the door.
  5.  The firing itself. By this time, what kind of person your employee is won’t matter. They’re a detriment to the company and must go. Which is fine. Some people are round pegs trying to fit into a square hole and need to be pushed to find a new place. Others are problem children with no desire to grow as a person. Either way, you’ve tried to warn them in steps one through three, done the legal homework in step four, and now have to meet with them privately. If necessary, have your boss or HR rep sit in. Again, if you’re the head of your company, have a plan for your safety when terminating a hot headed employee.

I’ll admit, I’m a small business owner and firing someone would mean they all but begged to be fired. My empathy is off the charts. For this post, I’ve kept in mind that larger business owners might not know everyone and even if they do, they don’t care what happens when a person is pink slipped. Everyone is different, and that’s fine.

Even if you don’t care about your terminated people, you’ve spent time and money training them. There are anti-discrimination laws. Hiring new replacements hits you again in the time and money department. No one wants to waste their resources or be sued. Follow the first three steps, set up by following the fourth, and help your company’s growth and profits by following through on the fifth step.

#MondayBlogs and are you worth the effort?

Happy Monday!

I know. Two words that rarely go together. I think we can all agree on happy Saturday and certainly happy Friday. But Monday? Okay, maybe it’s happy because YOU are here.

Down to business and my personal opinions.

Are you worth the effort? Do you shower, shave and spit shine every day, or do you even bother? Every time I go to the grocery store or a big box store, I see them. Women and some men who are overweight and who have given up on themselves. For the gals, their hair has grown out to where a couple of inches of gray show, there’s not a speck of makeup, and those yoga pants were so last decade. In my case, some pants are last century. For the guys, their tshirts have food stains, those knee holes in the jeans aren’t intentional, and their fingernail dirt could grow fishing worms.

These are people who have given up on presenting their best face forward, and let’s be honest, everyone has been there at one time or another in their life. I’d let myself go when becoming an authorpreneur. Being at home all day, chained to a keyboard meant no one saw me shoveling handfuls of gummi bears into my mouth, OD’ing on diet soda, and skipping this year’s workouts.

What was my personal epiphany? Photographs, high blood pressure, and getting my nails done professionally by Glitter KC’s CEO, Kim Trentham. Photos told me my clothes weren’t shrinking as much as I was expanding. The high blood pressure after a lifetime of “Are you even alive??” low said the lifestyle needed a change. And finally? Getting my nails done reminded me of how good I’d felt with a fresh coat of polish applied by a professional. Like I was worth the time and cost it took.

Do you know what? Everyone is. Everyone is worth the time and cost to make themselves feel and look good. My grandma had a saying, if you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good, you do good. A lot of word echoes in this paragraph, but it’s true. Your thoughts affect your feelings, and both affect your actions.

Bottom line? Do something nice for yourself today. It doesn’t have to be a marathon in the time it takes or a fortune in expense. Something simple and self-improving just for you. And then? Do something nice for someone else. Anyone and anything as long as it’s helpful.

Tell me what you love improving your appearance, and how you give back to others and the world. I walk several miles a week, paint my nails, and skip dessert. I also give to various charities and volunteer at my American Legion unit. Comment below on what you did in the nice area today, or if you’ve already given back before hanging out with me here.

When is anything good enough? A #MondayBlogs conversation.

Let’s all take a step back from the news and world events debate and talk about a different kind of controversy.

Perfectionism. I has it. Do you? If so, you know that good enough is not an option. It kills me to have mistakes in my work, even when I’m told some are to be expected and are normal. Ug. No.

So right now, I’m wading through The Very Worst Man, living the perfectionist dream of giving the book a complete makeover. At the same time, I’m writing Surplus, book four in the Nova Scotia Murder Mystery series. Yes, it’s aggressive but necessary to meet deadlines.

I know this blog post is short and sweet but see above deadlines. In the meantime, tell me what in your life is something you pick to death to get just right. I can’t be the only one who wants to detail her truck with a Q-tip or thousand.

#MondayBlogs and Spring Fever!

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Our weather in the Midwest US has been so lovely this week! I’ve struggled to stay inside and work but gave up on everything last Saturday. My husband and I spent the day running around town. I even took off a lot of Sunday. I’ve not taken off that much time in a row for weeks.

I needed the break. After going over The Very Best Man for its rerelease, Surplus, the fourth book in the Nova Scotia Murder Mysteries needed me. I’m almost done with chapter three and while that doesn’t sound like enough, there are only twelve chapters plotted. My only hang up is the murder is a stabbing, exactly what happened in Pleasures. Does it bother anyone else when a murder mystery series has too many of the same kind of deaths? Appearances is going to have a unique murder, Rage is a bit predictable but not a stabbing, and Honeymoon? I don’t know how I’m killing that random character.

Creepy, isn’t it? Such fun, though! Being a writer is the best job I’ve ever had. The boss, me, is a bit of a hard ass, however. Never letting me goof off outside or anywhere else, really.

Mutiny of the Genres, guest post by Miranda Nading. #mondayblogs #TheExtinctionSeries

Hey fellow #MondayBloggers! The ever wonderful Miranda Nading has given us a post for this week. In her Mutiny of the Genre, she ruminates on what happens when a writer goes genre hopping. Before you settle in to read, go grab her latest story, Genesis, the first of The Extinction Series. I’ve read and highly recommend it. Doesn’t matter what your favorite genre is,  you’ll love this story.

Are you back? Good, now read what Miranda writes about her experiment with genres.

Most writers embrace the genre they love to read, and why not? They have great taste. With their genre set, they step up to the bridge, grab the wheel, and begin the slow, painful process of crafting their stories and gaining like-minded readers to help them on their way.

Once their ship is crewed with a healthy reader base, anything that jeopardizes the readers faith in their Captain could lead to mutiny; being hung from the yardarm, walking the plank, and otherwise losing those readers until the writer has learned their lesson.

Everything that I am goes into every book I write. Echoes of Harmony held within its fiction the worst memories of my childhood, the surgery I endured before its writing, and my struggle to be a better person. Caliban delved into my fear of another cancer diagnosis and my need to understand the beast. Canyon Echoes touched on emotional isolation and the need for, and fear of, family. The influence of my life, and that of other writers, is not obvious to the casual reader who picks up a novel to escape from the daily grind of their lives, but it is there in every book.

So what happens when the journey changes the writer? When horror and serial killers have been purged from the system and the ship begins to find a new point on the compass? Will we find ourselves in the midst of a mutiny? Hung from that yardarm or walking the plank? Will new readers under a new genre see the books you’ve written in the past and for fear of disappoint, turn to a different Captain? Do you hold your course, or navigate by a new star?

For writers with that precious Constant Reader following we work so hard to achieve, it is, unfortunately, a very real possibility. Readers of Erotica are not likely to enjoy a book devoid of sex or strapping young men and women. Likewise, readers of Westerns are not going to receive an Erotic novel with joyous abandonment. If the essential core of what you write changes, the readers will change with it.

So what is a writer to do when they find their ship adrift with no wind in the sails, caught between one point on their trusted map and the next with the decks empty and awaiting a crew?

This was the biggest concern with the decision to write The Extinction Series. There are no serial killers, no voodoo rituals, no ghosts or beast borne of genetic engineering. There are only people trying desperately to survive. What’s going to get the readers on board? If you assume a nom de plume, you are faced with starting the journey from scratch, having to do all the groundwork of building a reader base all over again.

It’s always an option, but is it necessary? Why did you gain the readers you have? What is it that they love about your work? What do they zero in on when they leave that rare treasure, the review? For me, the answer is the suspense, not know what’s coming at them next. Most of all, it’s the characters.

Those essential elements are part of who I am as a writer. I thrive on adrenaline. I demand a great deal from characters and I insist they change in some fundamental way as they walk through the fires I light in their path. The course may have changed, I may be following a new star on the horizon, but my ship is steady and strong. Every writer’s path is different; the questions they need to ask themselves, before making the course change, are their own. If the core of your writing doesn’t change drastically, use it to bridge the gap. Ease your readers into this new course by using the strengths you’ve honed over the years.

Most of all, be true to the story waiting to be written. It’s crafted the same way you are, with the experiences and choices you make as a person as well as a writer.

#MondayBlogs-A Writer’s Life for Me

Something I’ve been seeing a lot of lately is the lack of balance in indie authors’ lives. When you’re the one responsible for all creative content, giving direction to the marketing department*, and the chief financial officer, it’s easy to ignore everything else until later.

And that would be…? After the book is written? No. Edited? No. Published? No. Marketed? No….

Here’s the thing. If you’re like me, your work is written in ink, your personal life is in pencil. There’s nothing wrong with it until the personal has been completely erased. Your family wonders if you’ll ever be there for them. Your clothes don’t fit unless they stretch. You’ve not eaten anything resembling real food in who knows how long. Sleep? Sure, in between telemarketers’ calls.

So we all know putting everything but the writing aside is tough. I know for me, I think “Just one more page, one more marketing blog post to read, one more finding a new cover, one more post about the writing, and I’ll be done.

I never am done. Like the laundry, dishes, mowing, and dog walking is never done, so it is with the writing.

What’s the solution? Those who are born organized already know this answer, but for us others, the answer is simple. Ink in your personal tasks as if they were professional. Family deserves ink. Your health deserves a black Sharpie. Carve in stone your sleep times. Eat the veggies and fruits as a snack. Your health and personal life help feed and nurture your professional life. Take good care of one so the other can flourish.

*even if it’s a department of one person

Uncivilized is finished!

At least the first draft is. And what a draft it is! 133,600 words when I was aiming for 100,000. So I have my work cut out for me in the cutting out department.

While I’m working on the edits and sending documents off to my wonderful editor, I’ll be plotting the next series of books. What will they be about? I don’t know.

Really, I don’t know. Yes, I have so many ideas, but don’t know where to start.

The American West series of historical romances?

The Love’s Travels series of historical romances?

Or the Needing a Title set of murder mysteries?

Maybe the several stand alone story ideas, aka free range books?

They all sound appealing, right? That’s my problem. Where to start? This is like a chocolate buffet and I want everything right this minute.

If you’re reading this, what do you think? Tell me! What setting do you think is woefully missing from the literary world. I can’t guarantee I’ll write about it, but will consider it!