A WORKING MOTHER, ALL THE SAME

Cassia gets her name from the flowering acacia tree. The honey locust is a related species.

Bella is a grandmother Cassia never meets in the flesh in my new novel, What’s Left, but she’s a vivid figure in the granddaughter’s life all the same.

Bella comes to be the colorful face of the family restaurant, Carmichael’s, a woman who seems to know everybody in town and brightens their lives as soon as they walk through the door.

She may be the mother of five children, but somehow she manages to juggle both work and family – perhaps thanks to the older generation’s active support.

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WHO CHALLENGES THE BOSS?

Carmichael’s, the restaurant her family owns in my new novel, has me looking more closely at others.

In his prime, as his parents and their siblings recede from the business, Stavros is free to operate largely as an autocrat.

Is that really such a good thing? Or does his wife, Bella, keep him in line?

As my draft once explained:

He’s not only preserved Papou Ari’s concept of our own Mount Olympus, he’s expanded and upgraded its holdings. The once neglected in-town blocks are gaining new panache.

~*~

I doubt Stavros would have seen his position as nearly so liberated. He probably would have seen himself hedged in by suppliers, prices, customers’ expectations, health inspectors, taxes – oh, can’t you just hear him rattling off a long list?

Imagine yourself as the boss in your own dream job. What would that be? And what policies or practices would you do uniquely your own way?

ANOTHER UNSEEN INFLUENCE ON HER LIFE

A large Queen Anne-style house with a distinctive tower something like this is the headquarters for Cassia’s extended family in my new novel. If only this one were pink, like hers.

In my new novel, What’s Left, her maternal grandparents are both dead before her birth – they’re victims of a late-night collision on a rural highway. But they cast a big influence over her life, all the same.

Stavros and Bella are second-generation Americans, bridging hard work and success to establish the family restaurant, Carmichael’s, as the campus landmark it becomes.

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POOLING THEIR FAMILY RESOURCES

A large Queen Anne-style house with a distinctive witch’s hat tower something like this is the headquarters for Cassia’s extended family in my new novel, What’s Left. If only this one were pink, like hers.

In my new novel, What’s Left, the family’s nest egg was built by living on one income – in a single household – while everyone worked at the restaurant. The surplus went into savings and investments. Once the kids come along, their earnings also go in the pooled income, to be drawn out for college or marriage. Over time, as the family grows, the house has parents, grandparents, kids, aunts, uncles, and cousins. What a circus!

As for pocket money? Take it from the till? Some places, yes. And some places, no.

They’re about to start over, in a way, when Cassia’s father-to-be shows up.

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JUST IMAGINE WHAT YOU’D DO

A large Queen Anne-style house with a distinctive witch’s hat tower something like this is the headquarters for Cassia’s extended family in my new novel, What’s Left. If only this one were pink, like hers.

Imagine that your father or mother had started a successful business and you’re in line to inherit it.

What would you want it to be? What would you enjoy doing?

In my new novel, What’s Left, the family business is built around a restaurant and related rental properties nearby.

But there are all kinds of other options. What do you suggest?

HOW TO MAKE HOT DOGS ADD UP

Carmichael’s, the restaurant her family owns in my new novel, has me looking more closely at others. This one specializes in wings.

In my new novel, What’s Left, her great-grandparents parlay a hot dog shop into the purchase of a burger-and-fries joint at the edge of campus. Carmichael’s is a local landmark, even before her family takes over. And then they start buying up neighboring properties.

Her parents’ generation boldly sets out to enlarge on that base. They even buy out a dusty textbook store next door without quite knowing how it will fit into their business model.

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WORKING FOR A FAMILY

Carmichael’s, the restaurant her family owns in my new novel, has me looking more closely at others.

Large or small, family-owned businesses stand apart from other company models. Upward mobility into management may be limited for non-family, for one thing, and succession from one generation to the next can impose special hurdles – few family-owned enterprises survive into the fourth or fifth generations. And then inheritance tax issues can hit heavily, if key players fail to prepare properly. And that’s before we get into sibling rivalries and family spats.

On the other hand, they can be more flexible in aiming at long-range results or adapting to change.

In my new novel, What’s Left, these all play into the story. Her family isn’t like other employers, for sure. And it’s primed for exciting big growth.

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