Sequel to Shadow Campus — Draft Completed!

For those of you who have read Shadow Campus and, by the way, kept it for quite some time on the Amazon Top New Releases and a darn good seller for a debut, I wanted to let you know that this weekend I’m finishing the sequel.

Today, I was reading an article about the commitment it takes to sell novels.  Stephen King sold books out of his car, I read.  Countless authors have put inestimable hours into keeping their books afloat.  For some time, Chris – my harshest of editors and husband – and I got the word out, especially to academics.  Dorie Clark wrote at Forbes that Shadow Campus was a “masterful” and “fast-paced” debut mystery-thriller.  The launch was great.

But I did drop the ball eventually.  My publisher, a small house of great people, isn’t set up for marketing. It wasn’t for lack of caring, because I’ve enjoyed every minute of books clubs and talks where people told me about Shamus, Meg, Dr. Michaels and what they envisioned my characters would do next.  In fact, I’ve felt a fair amount of pressure to be sure they did have a next in their fictional lives. Thank you to those who nudged me along.

This is the first, of what I expect will be occasional commentaries about the characters in Shadow Campus and the sequel.  If you’ve read SC, I hope you’ll add your own thoughts when those blogs appear.  For now, I just wanted to share that the new novel is on the way!

All the best, Kathleen

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Clinton vs. Trump – Not likely to be a Pretty Picture

That’s the topic I wrote about today in a blog at Huffington Post. Clinton isn’t the Democratic nominee yet. But looking ahead, it may be that the very traits that have drawn Clinton considerable criticism are the ones that will prove most useful challenging Donald Trump. As I’ve written in The Secret Handshake and It’s All Politics, when the political climate is nearly pathological, you can’t be a purist and survive. You have to be a street fighter. That’s what Hillary Clinton is capable of being. Though, that side of her is what has caused many to think she needs to be more feminine.

Well, those days need to be over. First, you don’t need to trade in your femininity badge to spar with incivility. You have to not take what rude and crude people dish out and know how to give as good as you get. There’s no need to lower yourself to their level. You have to refuse to demure, think on your feet, demonstrate conviction, counter lies with facts and empty claims with data, meet crude jokes with higher level humor, and skillfully unsettle their foundation.

It’s a tall order. I’ve often been asked why I didn’t write The Secret Handshake years earlier by people who could have used it in their younger years. The answer is that learning how to manage politics — especially the nastier versions — takes a while. Clinton has put in the time. She’s garnered the experience. And she can run the gauntlet of insults regarding her style and femininity. She knows if they don’t get you one way, they’ll try another. And this time it’s for the presidency.

This battle will be about respect around the world and what America is and stands for. It’s the tough side of Clinton, the aspect that’s been so frequently criticized, that may save America.

Posted in Gender Issues, Politics, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

The ‘Cute-and-Little’ Stage Hurts Hillary Clinton Chances with Young Women

It’s been a while since I’ve written about this topic, but little has changed.  On Huffington Post today, I revisit it in terms of Hillary Clinton’s run for president.   In They Don’t Get It, Do They?  (re-released recently on Kindle – $2.99), I wrote about the “cute-and-little effect” where young women are perceived as nonthreatening and so their work experiences are not, as a rule, fraught with gender bias.  During this period of time, it’s easy to think that gender no longer makes a difference.  Later, women learn that isn’t the case.  But the early years can leave us unprepared for the change.

TDGI was published a while ago.  Of course, so was Aristotle’s Rhetoric and Poetic.  And while I’m not Aristotle, some things are true for a long time.  One of those is that when it comes to preparing oneself for politics in the workplace, in nonprofits or in government, women often have a slow start.

Women, as a rule, start their careers enjoying male mentoring and encouragement.  They begin to think that things have changed.  They don’t need to be feminists, God forbid. They can sit back and reap the benefits of those old gals who worked so hard to level the field.  The truth is that often young women are eventually blindsided by politics.  If you have a daughter, you might tell her this.  There is no point too early to learn that negative forms of politics are inevitable in most organizations and your turn to deal with them is going to come.  Most men know this as well they should.

Hillary Clinton knows this in spades.  She has had to deal with politics in a very public way.  She knows that she has to be twice as good to even get a chance at grabbing the gold ring.  She makes mistakes.  After all, who is there for her to learn from?  Not many women.  Much of what she does is trial and error.  Given that, she’s doing well.

Some women try to stay in what is referred to in They Don’t Get It, Do They?  as the “cute-and-little” stage for as long as possible.  I’m not referring here to young women actually being cute and little, but rather being perceived as such, especially in terms of power.

Recently, a woman told me that she used that stage effectively, allowing that perception to persist for a while.  She was aware of the stage, which is far better than not knowing it can’t last for ever.  Some benefits accrued.  She was seeking tips for moving out into her organization’s arena of tougher politics.  There comes a point where it’s up or out and up means becoming a threat to some people.  It’s best to be prepared.  That’s why I wrote The Secret Handshake and It’s All Politics and why they’ve been bestsellers for male and female readers.

Women need to learn about politics before they enter the workplace and particularly about the forms that are used more frequently to derail  women’s careers.  There’s no need to become demoralized or defensive about the inevitability of politics that get in the way of women’s progress.  Once you know the terrain, navigation becomes easier.  Positive politics can be learned and the ability to “read the tea leaves,” see political moves coming, can be developed.

Clinton has known the terrain for some time.  Her navigation efforts may seem unnecessary to some young women.  But it won’t be long before the perception of them as “cute-and-little” runs its course.  If they are ready, they won’t be blindsided.  They may be criticized for being assertive or even aggressive, but nobody becomes a leader by being demure and criticizing other women for not being sufficiently feminine.

Updated blog 2/7/2016

Posted in Gender Issues, Leadership, Politics, Tutorials for Women | 8 Comments

What Exactly is Political Correctness?

When I begin to write a blog entry on this site, a question pops up. It asks, “What’s on your mind?” The answer for the last few days is the term “political correctness” bandied about for some years, and especially by Republican presidential candidates of late, as a way to disparage forms of speech often intended to stem hated and bias.

What is political correctness to you? When we don’t ask such questions of ourselves, terms like “PC” are used as propaganda. If we’re not paying attention, if we fail to question the appropriateness of their use, we are more easily persuaded.  We are like sponges.

Having studied persuasion all of my career, watching how words are used is a significant part of what I do. And so it is with “political correctness.”

Here is one definition:

“Political correctness is a term primarily used as a pejorative to describe language, policies, or measures which are intended not to offend or disadvantage any particular group of people in society; in pejorative usage, those who use the term are generally implying that these policies are excessive.”

Excessive by what standard? Inconveniencing which people? It’s easy to refer to consideration for others by using words not offensive to them as “PC” — a negative thing. Is it really? At least, is it really in all cases or is it also a way to reduce conflict and to enhance civility?

More on this later. Just raising the issue right now. When is such consideration of people unlike ourselves in some way a negative thing, when is sensitivity to what might cause them offense simply too much in light of other concerns, and when is it a useful and productive way to raise our own sensitivity to cultural, gender, age, or other differences? The answers are not simple.  Asking these questions of ourselves is important. At least then, we’re thinking.  At least then we’re not duped.

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Mental Health is in Our Hands

I’ve been away from blogging, but back now and  writing after some time about mental health.  My blog on Huffington Post is the first of many.

Few of us are from families that have not been touched, at the very least, by mental illness.  How could we be?  One in four of us experiences mental illness or neurological disease in the course of a lifetime.  And, as Governor Chris Christie so eloquently pointed out this week when discussing drug addiction, it’s easy to judge and easy to place the blame when bad things happen to other people.  The reality is that you could be simply minding your own business and doing just about everything as well as possible and still have your number come up.

Until medical science is far beyond where it is today, placing blame is a waste of time.  Sure, we can take some responsibility for bad things that happen, but even then it’s usually in hindsight.  Hopefully, we learn and do better. People with mental illness need our help. Their families need that help too.  That’s one place where we can definitely do better.

So, when well-intentioned people gather to change the appalling lack of excellent mental health care, the last thing we need is politicians taking strident stands, refusing to move forward and sentencing others to life-long despair.  We can do far better.  And with the first bipartisan step in the passage of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (HR 2646) that occurred this week, we need to be sure we don’t allow the momentum to cease.

As a former debater, a professor of persuasion and politics, I expect there to be weaknesses in whatever solutions are proposed.  As a person, a friend, a relative of people who suffer, I’m anxious to hear all sides.  But to allow mental health care to remain in a deplorable state helps no one.  The harm is inestimable, the pain excruciating.  As a researcher, I know that there are few answers that can be completely supported as we work in a domain of probabilities, not of fact.  But there is one fact:  We cannot afford the status quo.  It is unscientific, it is unethical, and it is immoral.


How to help:  Members of the Energy & Commerce Committee listed here.  Send them and/or your senators and congressional representatives a note or forward the Huffpo blog and urge them to vote for HR2646. Ask for a reply!


Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

“Boots on the Ground” — A Close-up on Campaign Rhetoric

Today I posted a short blog at Huffington Post. Democrat or Republican, the next time I hear a presidential candidate talk about putting “boots on the ground” I might spit. Where are the journalists who should be asking exactly what that means? And I don’t just mean sending troops. I’m talking about when they return home too.

It’s one of those euphemisms that allows the user to seem tough. In reality, more often than not, its purpose is to make the person who isn’t going to be in those boots and whose child is not likely to be in them either appear patriotic. In that sense, it’s cheap. It should be dropped from the lexicon of campaign rhetoric, drummed out as meaningless drivel.

Decisions to send men and women to war are complex and should not be reduced to four words. Making oneself appear eligible to be commander-in-chief by employing those words should render one ineligible.

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That “Biden Magic” Revealed Again

In 2007, I posted a blog entitled “That Biden Magic”. That magic is depth, empathy, humor and humility. We saw it again with Stephen Colbert, who has also overcome adversity. As we continue to think about authenticity this week and as the election moves forward, it’s well worth a few moments to listen to Vice President Joe Biden share what really matters.  All candidates for the U.S. presidency could take a few lessons from this interview, including how few words it takes to convey ideas when they come from the heart.

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