Category Archives: Writing

PLAYING IT STRAIGHT is now available!


The paperback and Kindle versions of my new novel Playing It Straight are now available on Amazon.

Tycoons clash when Grant Mason is promoted to CEO of PlayLand, a struggling toy company. Eager to prove himself, Grant delves into PlayLand’s operational woes. But his boss, son of the company’s founder, demands Grant focus on broader risks.

PlayLand is in worse shape than Grant thought. Infringement lawsuits and consumer boycotts threaten the company with bankruptcy, while other executives challenge his authority. Then Grant discovers an insider stealing PlayLand products.

Amidst this corporate chaos, can Grant rescue PlayLand from financial ruin and salvage his career?

I hope you enjoy it. If you do, please leave a short review on Amazon.

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Back Cover Blurb for PLAYING IT STRAIGHT


I’d hoped to have a definite publication date by now, but all I can promise is late October. My next post will announce the publication of Playing It Straight.

In the meantime, here is close to final copy for the back cover blurb:

Sparks fly when Grant Mason becomes CEO of PlayLand, a struggling toy company. Stuck in his comfort zone, Grant spends his time on manufacturing headaches. But his boss, son of PlayLand’s founder, demands Grant broaden his management focus.

Other PlayLand executives challenge Grant’s authority, and lawsuits and consumer boycotts threaten the company with bankruptcy. Then Grant discovers an insider has stolen PlayLand products.

Can Grant rescue PlayLand from the resulting chaos and keep his job?

When Playing It Straight is published, our nation will be just days away from the Presidential Election. We will all need to escape from the news—which will be vituperative, whatever your political bent. A good time to download or purchase a fast-paced novel!

Dig in now to the first novel in my PlayLand series, Playing the Game, so you’ll be ready for Playing It Straight. Both books are a great way to put the concerns of today aside for a few hours and return to a time where our workplace hassles played out in person.

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PLAYING IT STRAIGHT Cover Reveal


I mentioned last month that I am finalizing a new novel for publication. I am delighted to show you the cover of Playing It Straight.

This is the first time I’ve revealed the cover of Playing It Straight. I hope it piques your interest in reading what’s between the pages after it’s published.

Next month I’ll be ready to announce the publication date, but I’m fairly confident the book will be available by Halloween.

If you haven’t read the first book in this series, Playing the Game, start it now, so you’ll be ready for Playing It Straight. Both books will immerse you in corporate chaos and conflict in the days before COVID.

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Update on Playing the Game . . . and Its Forthcoming Sequel


In the year and a half since I last posted, I have changed the focus of my professional life. I ended my mediation career and have turned to writing. It’s been an enjoyable transition.

I have spent much of this time drafting a sequel to my first novel, Playing the Game. My new novel will be titled Playing It Straight, and it is likely to be available this fall—I hope by Halloween.

In the meantime, I have also come out with a second printing of Playing the Game, complete with a new cover. The text of this novel is almost entirely the same, with just a few corrections and updates. So no need to read it again, if you’ve already read it.

But if you haven’t read it, I encourage you to read Playing the Game now. Then you’ll be ready for Playing It Straight when it is published.

With respect to this blog, I don’t plan on posting regularly, though I hope to post from time to time. I’ve missed the opportunity to weigh in on issues of our times.

This year in particular has been full of topics that impact our personal and workplace lives—the political situation, the pandemic, the economic unheaval, the protests over racial injustice. Like most of us, I have opinions on these issues, and I may write about them on this blog. Although our nation has faced political turmoil and polarization, pandemics, economic crises, and racial protests before, this year feels unprecedented in that we face them all at the same time.

Good to be back with you! And stay safe in this time of uncertainty.

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My Last Post: Au Revoir, Perhaps Not Adieu


It amazes me that I have kept this blog for over seven years now. My first post, on Blogspot as M.A.M.A. Curmudgeon, went live in November 2011. In November 2012, I moved the blog to WordPress, under the headline “Sara Rickover, Behind the Corporate Veil.” I posted weekly for many years, and moved to twice a month in September 2017. In total, I’ve written 334 posts (including this one).

Despite the titles, this blog has always been about more than being an outspoken curmudgeon or about providing corporate insights. It has been my way to speak about leadership, management, politics, legal issues, and other business and public topics of interest to me.

I still have things to say on these topics. But I am winding down my career as a mediator and human resources consultant. Maintaining a regular social media presence on these topics is no longer as important to me, and I can no longer justify spending the time on regular posts.

So this is my last scheduled post on this blog. I will still probably be active on Facebook as Sara Rickover, Author, and on Twitter as @SaraRickover. So follow me on these sites if you’re interested in seeing the articles I curate and in what I have to say.

And who knows? I may write—in fact, I’m hoping to write—a sequel to my novel Playing the Game, so follow me on my Amazon Central page also.

My thanks to all readers who have followed this blog and commented on posts. You have made this seven-year-long effort worthwhile.

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A Free Short Story Offer


Two other suspense writers featured in the Murder U.S.A. anthology and I are offering a free collection of short stories. This offer is only good through May 7, so act now to receive our book.

Just click here to download the free stories.

Giveaway banner (final)

Happy reading!

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Book Review: The Last Days of Night, by Graham Moore


moore-coverI haven’t posted many book reviews on this blog. Most of the business books I read aren’t that compelling. Most of the fiction I read doesn’t pertain to the themes of this blog. But I recently finished a novel that provides a fascinating look at corporate and legal culture in the 1880s—The Last Days of Night, by Graham Moore.

The protagonist in Moore’s novel is Paul Cravath, a fictionalized version of the attorney who later founded the New York law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore. Other major characters include Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, J.P Morgan, and Nikola Tesla. None of these men comes across very positively. In this novel (and the author makes it clear that the book is fiction, though well-researched), Edison obtained his patent on the electric light bulb fraudulently, Westinghouse ordered a fire set in Tesla’s warehouse, J.P. Morgan switched his allegiance from Edison to Westinghouse for financial gain, and Tesla was a complete kook (albeit brilliant).

The book is engaging. There’s enough science in it for science lovers, but it’s easy enough for non-aficionados of science to gloss over it and still enjoy the story. Cravath’s character clearly is representing Westinghouse without really understanding direct current and alternating current, giving readers permission to do the same.

What I enjoyed the most was the look into early corporations—the forerunner of General Electric owned by Thomas Edison, Westinghouse owned by George Westinghouse, and even Morgan’s banking firm—as well as the development of the modern law firm associate structure created by Paul Cravath. There were plenty of corporate and financial shenanigans depicted in the novel, as well as one-up-man-ship between Cravath and his partners. The story could easily have taken place today in the internet world. In fact, many of the chapters open with quotes from Steve Jobs and Bill Gates that are eerily relevant to the electrical industry of more than a century ago.

What I didn’t like was wondering what was true and what wasn’t as I read. Moore confesses in his author’s note,

“This book is a Gordian knot of verifiable truth, educated supposition, dramatic rendering, and total guesswork.”

He offers a chronology of the actual events on his website. However, his changes to the true chronology and the unverifiable actions attributed to the primary characters ultimately caused me to be more skeptical of the book than I wanted to be. Had it been a novel not using real people as primary characters, I could have accepted it much better.

I’ve had some experience at incorporating historical characters into novels (though not in Playing the Game; I’ve written books under another name as well), but I have never depicted true personages as murderers, thieves, frauds, and corporate moles. And when I’ve written historical fiction, I’ve kept my description of events as close to their true chronology as I can.

Still, the author’s note gives me some satisfaction that Moore has accurately described the flavor (if not the chronology) of the invention of the light bulb, the “battle of the currents” between direct current and alternating current, the development of the modern law firm, as well as the implementation of the electric chair for the death penalty. I do recommend the book. But take it with a grain of salt.

What books depicting corporate intrigue have you enjoyed?

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A Novel Idea


For all of you who received new tablets, ereaders, or other devices that can handle reading apps, I recommend my novel Playing the Game to you as a true-to-life diversion.

The book revolves around a business in trouble and the people who lead it. The CEO and the Vice-President of HR and a host of other corporate officers—some well-meaning and some not—try to save their toy company from bankruptcy. Along the way, murder and mayhem result, along with a reorganization and a major product launch.

Playing the Game is not only good fun, but useful as a case study for corporate training exercises.  Click here for a list of discussion questions about the book.

Enjoy your holidays. We’ll all be back playing the game soon enough.

PTG Rickover cover

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When a Major Project Is Over, How Do You Decide What Comes Next?


2A83XPT89B.jpgI have just finished a major project and I’m at loose ends. I’ve been at this point many times in my career. When I worked for a corporation, there was usually another project waiting to take the place of the one just finished. In fact, I generally had many projects overlapping, though sometimes one took precedence. But now that I work for myself, when one big project ends, I need to motivate myself to move on to the next.

For the last couple of months, I have been bringing a huge writing project to closure. It is about to be published (not under the Sara Rickover name, so I can’t tell you what it is). I have spent countless hours on the minutiae, and I am just now able to raise my head and look around me. What work do I take on next? I ask myself.

In the corporate world, when I had a moment to think about what came next, I would assess what in my job was boring me (that I wanted to do less of), and I’d think about what interested me and how I might expand my expertise (that I wanted to do more of). That’s how I moved from defending employment cases into drafting employee benefit plan documents—it felt like it was time for me to broaden the service I could provide to my Human Resource clients, and employee benefits was a way to do it.

At other points in my career, my boss asked me to move into new areas, and I had little choice. That’s how I got into handling property tax assessment disputes for one division and specialized contract work for another division. Not glamorous stuff, but these matters did teach me more about business, and I’ve used both skills in non-profit work I’ve done in recent years.

Now I am faced with several possibilities for what comes next. The advantage is that I get to choose. So, how do I choose? Here are some of the questions I am asking myself:

  • Do I do what seems like the logical next step?
  • Do I do what will teach me the most?
  • Do I do what will make me the most money?
  • Do I do what I most want to do?

And after asking myself these questions, I asked: How can I make one project address most of these needs?

I think I’ve landed on my next project. It is an outgrowth of the project I just completed, but I want to structure my approach to this issue differently. I hope with a new approach I will learn new things. It isn’t necessarily what I most want to do, but I am getting excited about it as I plan the first steps.

What do you do when you get to choose your next project?

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How Realistic Do You Want Your Fiction To Be?


I don’t post much about my novel, Playing the Game, but I thought it would make a nice Labor Day diversion.

Recently I was asked whether the book is true to life. My answer: Yes and no.

Playing the Game is fiction. None of the events in the book happened—at least not the way they are depicted. The facts and faces have been changed to protect the innocent. But the plot is realistic. It deals with issues that many corporate executives face, such as managing budgets and people, planning new product lines, deciding who will succeed departing key personnel, and integrating work and family time. And, of course, dealing with the personal peccadilloes of the colleagues we encounter in the hallways every day.

But the plot is realistic. It deals with issues that many corporate executives face, such as managing budgets and people, planning new product lines, deciding who will succeed departing key personnel, and integrating work and family time. And, of course, dealing with the personal peccadilloes of the colleagues we encounter in the hallways every day.

One reader told me after reading the book, “I know these people.” This reader and I have never worked together, and we have only a few common acquaintances. In other words, the characters are like co-workers we have all known, with common foibles and insecurities.

I market Playing the Game as a thriller, but it isn’t a thriller like Dan Brown’s or Brad Thor’s novels. It is a thriller in the same way that Arthur Hailey’s books such as Hotel or Airport were thrillers. The business is going through a make-or-break time, and the question is whether it can be saved. There are criminal activities in the book, but the thrill is not from solving the crime but from the highs and lows of living through difficult circumstances.

Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park and other far-out thrillers also wrote Disclosure, which dealt with sexual harassment in the workplace in a very realistic setting. While I enjoyed Jurassic Park and his other fantasies, I was captivated by Disclosure, because “I knew those people.” I had dealt with similar situations in my job. That’s the kind of fiction I aspired to write in Playing the Game.

So, as a writer, my question to readers is:

How realistic do you like your fiction? Do you want to read books that deal with things you know, or do you want to explore worlds of fantasy to escape your daily routine?

Happy Labor Day

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