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Author Update 2023: Cornelia Gamlem

Speaker, consultant, and award-winning author Cornelia Gamlem is an expert in employee relations and human resources. Along with her co-author Barbara Mitchell, Cornelia has published six business resource books. Their latest collaboration is The Decisive Manager: Get Results, Build Morale, and Be the Boss Your People Deserve, released by Career Press (March 2023). Visit Cornelia at and, as well as on Facebook and LinkedIn. You’ll find all of her books on her Amazon author page. Read more about her writing in her 2019 and 2021 interviews for SouthWest Writers.

What would you like readers to know about The Decisive Manager?
Most of the issues an organization has are people issues—issues and situations that must be properly and promptly addressed and managed. Doing so is not an easy endeavor. People issues can be complicated because every person is a unique individual, and there is not necessarily a one-size-fits-all approach that a manager can take. Even the most experienced managers can be surprised by a new situation leaving them feeling vulnerable.

Why did you choose this particular topic to write about and why was this the best time to publish the book?
Managing people is not the responsibility of the HR department, and people management issues constantly challenge front-line managers. We wrote a similar book for managers, The Manager’s Answer Book, in 2018 that included topics across the whole spectrum of management. After publishing the 10-year anniversary edition of The Big Book of HR in 2022, we realized that a book for managers dedicated to people issues would complement both of these books. We wanted a resource for managers to turn to, especially those without an HR department like small business owners, to help with those vexing issues.

During and after the pandemic in 2020, so much about the workplace changed. That was one of our challenges writing The Big Book of HR during 2020 and early 2021. We watched so many new issues arise. The timing was right for addressing these issues. Each section of The Decisive Manager has a subsection for “Navigating the Changing Workplace.”

In a previous interview for SWW you mentioned that you and your co-author (Barbara Mitchell) “divided the work according to our respective areas of expertise then stayed out of each other’s way.” What particular expertise did each of you contribute to The Decisive Manager?
We organized The Decisive Manager around the same sections in The Big Book of HR. We’ve both had years of experience in all functions of human resources, but our individual focuses have been different. Barbara’s expertise and strength is clearly in the area of talent management, “Finding and Hiring the Best Talent.” My expertise and strengths are in the areas of employee relations and compliance, “Understanding Policy and Practices” and “Avoiding Legal Pitfalls,” another subsection. “Creating a Positive Employee Experience” speaks to both of our areas of expertise as well as our passions about creating positive workplace environments for employees and managers alike.

As for the other areas that we address, “Paying and Rewarding Employees,” “Helping Employees Grow and Develop,” and “Ensuring Graceful Endings,” we both brought a great deal of our respective experiences and knowledge.

The sub-title of the book is Get Results, Build Morale, and Be the Boss Your People Deserve. How did you narrow down these managerial goals from what must have been dozens of possibilities?
Our experience continues to show us that organizations—across all sectors of the economy, industries and size—don’t prepare individuals to manage people—the most critical parts of their management responsibilities. This is especially true when they promote people. They take the best technician or widget maker, promote them to be in charge of others and expect them to succeed. Too often these individuals have the best intentions but lack the skills, experience and knowledge to manage people. Their missteps can tear down morale and interfere with productivity. These were the observations that resulted in our focusing on those three management goals.

Did what-if questions help shape this work?
In a sense, yes. Perhaps not so much “what if” but “what do you do when?” or “how do you?” We relied on situations from our collective experiences as a starting place—those evergreen issues that managers struggle with. We also read a great deal about the emerging challenges, many associated with remote and distributed workforces. For example, with so many employees working from make-shift offices during the pandemic, how can employers make sure those arrangements are ergonomically safe.

The biggest challenges we read about and researched were how to keep remote and hybrid workforces motivated and essentially ‘be the boss [all] your people deserve.’ It can be like walking a tightrope for a manager to make sure they are addressing and meeting the needs of all their team members whether they work from home or in the same physical office as the manager.

Any “Oh, wow!” moments while doing research for the book?
Absolutely, especially in the areas of navigating the changing workplace. We had done some work with a company that specializes in using mobile communication methods, such as text messaging, that captures the preferences of younger workers. It was really interesting to learn some of the things that can be done with communication using mobile technology—everything from onboarding employees to learning and development. It really streamlines processes. Another area was microlearning that ties directly with mobile technology. It’s small learning units and short learning activities that can be done from anywhere using mobile devices. It’s very revolutionary.

What writing projects are you working on now?
We’re investigating other areas for getting our messages out. We’ve entered into strategic partnerships with some on-line business platforms and are investigating another with a global reach. I’ve also developed a relationship with Authority Magazine, an on-line business publication through Medium and have had several articles and interviews printed there.

We’re contemplating doing some short e-books that complement our current books. The objective is to both cross-market existing books and get messages out faster. I’m dusting off an old manuscript on the topic of workplace diversity. It’s become a timely topic again and there are now more opportunities and methods for getting that message out into the world.

KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kat has a speculative fiction blog at and writes about memoir at

Author Update: Cornelia Gamlem

Author Cornelia Gamlem founded a management consulting firm (the Gems Group) to offer HR and business solutions to a wide variety of organizations. She has used her expertise in employee relations and human resources to co-author five business resource books with colleague Barbara Mitchell. Their newest release is They Did What? Unbelievable Tales from the Workplace (September 2020). You’ll find Cornelia at and, as well as on Facebook and LinkedIn. Read more about her writing in SWW’s 2019 interview.

What is your elevator pitch for the book?
It’s unlike any other business or HR book you’ve ever read. It’s been described as 50 Shades of Gray for the workplace.

What do you hope readers will take away from it?
There were a number of lessons we hoped to share. First, so much of dealing with employee workplace behavior occurs below the surface—solutions to problems are not obvious to everyone. Second, managers’ and HR professionals’ jobs are not easy. There is not one solution to similar problems. Dealing with human behavior is not black or white. Finally, for the HR reader, some of these issues occur more often than they might imagine, and we’re providing insights to different approaches to addressing them.

What unique challenges did this work pose for you?
My coauthor and I had always written pure nonfiction. We wanted to write a compelling book that presented stories rather than case studies. So, we chose the genre of creative nonfiction. For us, that meant we had to borrow elements from fiction writing—character development, story arc, suspense—and learn how to do that. The book is a series of short stories set against a fictitious backdrop.

Tell us how the book came together.
I was teaching an HR course at a local college when a student asked how you learn employee relations. My response was with practice and experience. When we finished our first book in 2011, The Big Book of HR, I had the idea to write this one—and our journey began. We interviewed many of our HR and business colleagues about the most challenging situations they had encountered, and a pattern of issues began to emerge. Of course, we had our own experiences to draw upon and add. The issues became the focus of each individual chapter. The challenge came with the writing and editing cycles—we’ve lost count of how many edits we did before we had a good working draft. In the meantime, we were approached by our publisher to write three more books along with a second edition of our first book. Those occurrences kept putting the project on hold, but we used these times to continue learning the craft of writing. When we tell people we took nine years to write it, we quickly explain we published other books during that period.

How was the work on They Did What? divided between you and your co-author?
This was a different approach for us. With our other books we divided the work according to our respective areas of expertise then stayed out of each other’s way. For They Did What? we divided the chapters initially by the issues, but then passed our completed drafts to each other for review, discussion, editing, rewriting. At the conclusion, we couldn’t honestly tell you who wrote what. We are lucky in the fact that we respect each other’s expertise and opinion and were both very open to critique from each other.

Would you like to share one of your favorite misbehaving tales from the book?
The cover of the book has a picture of a conference table. That’s because conference rooms and tables play prominently into many scenes—meetings and a place to gather for discussions. Employees, however, often take advantage of this space to engage in, shall we say, shenanigans, and we were surprised at the number of erotic stories we heard that involved conference tables.

What was the most rewarding aspect of putting this project together?
Learning more and more about writing and the publishing industry. We took the train from Washington DC to New York City every summer to attend the Writer’s Digest Conference and attended classes at the Smithsonian about writing. Of course, the highlight was finally finishing the book.

What marketing techniques have been most helpful to you?
Without a doubt, podcasts. We’ve been guests on quite a number of them over the past year, reaching diverse audiences. Since we write business books, we’re very active on LinkedIn, and that activity has attracted attention which has led to more invitations for podcasts, webinars and other on-line activities.

When you tackle a nonfiction project, do you think of it as storytelling?
Absolutely. The art of storytelling is emerging as a management competency in the business world. People learn from stories. It’s such a powerful way to communicate information. That was one of the reasons we looked to the genre of creative nonfiction to write this book. All the stories in the book are based on actual events, but to preserve confidentiality, we had to be creative, such as combining stories from several individuals with the same theme. The lessons, however, remain the same. In all of our books, we integrate scenarios to illustrate lessons and keep the reader engaged.

What is the best encouragement or advice you’ve received on your writing journey?
We were sitting in a session at the Writer’s Digest Conference listening to Hallie Ephron talk about backstory. “Write it out and keep it in a separate file. Then, layer information in when the reader needs to know it.” A communal light bulb went off. It was so clear that backstory is important, but you have to know how to use it.

What writing projects are you working on now?
The Big Book of HR – 10th Anniversary Edition. That book will be released in January 2022 and is the third edition. We’ve submitted a proposal to our publisher for a follow up to The Manager’s Answer Book, one that would focus on people management issues.

KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy has a new speculative fiction blog at and writes about memoir at

2020 New Releases for SWW Authors #3

Authors William Fisher, Cornelia Gamlem, Larry Kilham, BR Kingsolver, RJ Mirabal, and Lynne Sturtevant represent the diverse membership of SouthWest Writers (SWW) with 2020 releases in the genres of historical fiction, business, biography, and several speculative fiction sub-genres. The releases in this post couldn’t fit into this year’s interview schedule, but look for interviews or updates for most of these authors in 2021.

At the end of this post, you’ll find a list of interviewed SWW authors for books published in 2020.

William Fisher’s debut novel, Cruel Road (October 2020), is a mid-eighteenth-century historical drama. John Fraser, Scots-Irish gunsmith and militiaman, faces a difficult dilemma when his new and pregnant wife is taken captive by a local tribal chief. This is the story of real-life John and Jane Fraser, among the first settlers of western Pennsylvania. Their lives are challenged by Indian conflicts, French and English fighting over territory, and survival in the Pennsylvania wilderness. The book is a dramatization of true events. Most characters are actual historical characters. John and Jane Fraser are the author’s direct ancestors. Some characters are fictional, and certain actions and descriptions are conjecture.

Visit Bill’s Amazon author page.

They Did What? Unbelievable Tales from the Workplace (September 2020) is Cornelia Gamlem and Barbara Mitchell’s newest nonfiction release. People have been misbehaving at work since work began. If you’ve ever been curious about workplace misbehavior, this book just might hold some answers. A compilation of stories collected from HR and other business leaders have been woven into a narrative that showcases the challenges HR professionals face daily in dealing with employees. They Did What? is funny, sad, and most definitely unbelievable—except it is all based on actual situations.

Visit Cornelia’s Amazon author page.

In Destiny Strikes Twice: James L. Breese Aviator and Inventor (November 2020), Larry Kilham tells the true story of the flight engineer on the first transatlantic flight in 1919 who went on to develop 130 patents for home and military space heaters. Dismissing a high society Long Island life, Jim moved to New Mexico in 1929 to start fresh in the unencumbered West. There he built his oil burner business with sales in the millions of dollars. The twists and turns through his adventure-packed life reveal lessons for everyone including many insights for aspiring inventors and entrepreneurs.

Visit Larry’s Amazon author page.

BR Kingsolver published three novels in 2020 (read the interview for Knights Magica here). The two most recent releases are in the new Rift Chronicles series. In Magitek (book 1, August 2020), the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Danica James’ grandfather wanted to end war. Instead, he broke the world. Through the Rift came demons, vampires, and monsters. Danica is a cop with the Arcane Division. She’s also a magitek. Her job is to clean up her grandfather’s mess. She’s not making much progress.

In book two, War Song (December 2020), Danica James is still a cop with the Arcane Division who works to protect humanity from monsters — whether they be human or creatures from the Rift. It beats sitting in a factory cubical all day, which is where magiteks usually work. Most of humanity hates the magic users who rule the world, but for a hundred years, the Magi have kept the demons, vampires, and other monsters in check. But now one Magi Family has allied itself with the demons in a bid for world domination. It was ugly before, but now it’s getting worse.

Visit the author’s Amazon author page.

RJ Mirabal’s newest release is the young adult fantasy Dragon Train (December 2020). Jaiden, a 15-year-old farm boy, dreams of a more exciting life in a world where people have enslaved dragons as beasts of burden, guard animals, and soldiers. He has never been more than a few miles beyond his farm and the quiet village of Hilltop. Yet Jaiden desires escape from his grouchy and somewhat abusive father. And then the dragon train makes an unscheduled stop in Hilltop. Skye, the huge Blue Dragon pulling the train, may die of exhaustion unless someone can help. Thus, a boy and dragon embark on an epic adventure in the hopes of fulfilling their longing for freedom, excitement, and happiness.

Visit RJ’s website and his book page.

Fairy Trouble (September 2020), by Lynne Sturtevant, is a contemporary Celtic fairy tale. People used to know the truth about fairies and they were afraid of them. When visiting homemaker Ginger Stewart encounters a troop of fairies in the wild, green hills of West Virginia, she learns magic is real. She also learns our ancestors were right. There are reasons to be afraid. Ginger is astounded when a fairy attacks her while she’s calling on an elderly client, Violet. Violet has spent her life hiding the fairies and protecting them from the outside world. But something has changed. The fairies have become angry and aggressive and she has no idea how to pacify them. As the mayhem escalates, Ginger and Violet negotiate a maze of folklore, ancient symbols, and dark family secrets. Will they find a way to restore equilibrium to the fairies before it’s too late?

Visit Lynne’s Amazon author page.

SWW Author Interviews: 2020 Releases

Connie Flores
Our Fascinating Life: The Totally Accidental Trip 1979
Sue Houser
BR Kingsolver
Knights Magica
Dr. Barbara Koltuska-Haskin
How My Brain Works: A Guide to Understanding It Better and Keeping It Healthy
Manfred Leuthard
Broken Arrow: A Nuke Goes Missing
Shirley Raye Redmond
Courageous World Changers: 50 True Stories of Daring Women of God
J.R. Seeger
A Graveyard for Spies
Lynne Sturtevant
Hometown: Writing a Local History or Travel Guide and The Collaboration Kit
Patricia Walkow
New Mexico Remembers 9/11

KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy posts to a speculative fiction blog at and writes about memoir at

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