Sunday, September 30, 2012

Can You Please Help Me Reach My Goal???

As I mentioned previously, my book is still out there and I'm finally in a place where I have help with marketing it and promoting it.  For those of you who are just stopping by for maybe the first time, last year I wrote a book.  "Jordan's Return" is a contemporary romance that is available through Amazon in paperback and for Kindle as well as through Barnes and Noble and the Nook.

Part of my struggle is getting my rank to go up on Amazon.  In order to do that I need people to go to the page and click "Like".  Just having the page views and the "like" button clicked will help enormously.  If you frequently shop on Amazon and are feeling especially helpful, you can write a review!  It doesn't have to be a long review, it could just be a sentence or two.  I'm a particular fan of seeing "Great book!" or "When's the next one?"  LOL!  

My goal is to get 100 likes by the end of October.  We are currently at 10.  Kind of annoys me when I have over 700 friends on Facebook and I cannot get more than 10 people to just click "Like".  But that's a post for another time.

So please, if you haven't done it yet, please head over to Amazon (click here) and click the "Like" button.  I desperately want to see some action on the page.  I'm not looking to make a million dollars, I'd just be thrilled to see my page rank go up. 

Thank you for your help and I look forward to being able to update you with some positive news!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Uniquely Organized and Utilized

Remember how a long while ago I was looking for a virtual assistant?  Well, I have been blessed with a friend who is starting up her own business and that is one of her skills!  Who knew!

Uniquely Organized and Utilized is the brain child of my friend Dot and is described like this:

 "Offering wide range of consultation and coaching with passion and dedication to assist YOU with YOUR goals, plans and projects to improve your organization of your home, work and play. I am able to identify and understand health and learning challenges, difference of styles within the family, and lack of support and resources. Success and achieving goals of organization and utilization is possible with challenges, it just takes adjustments, accommodations and support. We will talk and write out a plan to get your goals achieved, resources found and fun and enjoyment for all. To achieve the goals we layout I can assist you with the work necessary and offer entrance into an understanding and supportive community of Unique, organizing and Utilizing people."

With her skills, we are finding ways to help market my book (yes, it's still out there!) and see what works and what doesn't.  Besides being my marketing guru, she offers services such as organizing your home, office, business and pretty much being a well rounded virtual assistant - meaning, you do not have to live near one another to utilize her services!  How cool is that?

You can learn more about her using the link above or by following her on Facebook.  So if you are in need of some organizational help or an assistant, look up Dot and Uniquely Organized and Utilized.  You won't be sorry! 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Amtrak Sucks...Part Two

Okay, so on our last day at Disney our town car arrived a little before 5:30 p.m. to pick us up for our train that was due to depart Orlando at 7:24 p.m.  We were practically giddy with the fact that it was on time and I was extremely optimistic about the ride home - even if I never got anyone to approve the upgrade.

Michael and I had purchased our dinner while still at Disney's Coronado Springs and had planned on having a picnic on the train once we were moving.  They lined us up, the boarded us...and we sat.  And sat.  And sat.  At the station.  


Within 15 minutes, my bold twelve year old boy went in search of an attendant and asked when we were going to get moving.  The first response was that they were getting some elderly passengers settled in their sleeper cars.  

Um...I'm sorry.  But last I checked the CONDUCTOR does not tuck passengers in their beds for the night.  Sleeper car or no sleeper car.  Uh-uh.  Try again.  

The next thing we were told was that we were waiting for a Southbound freight train (Oh, how I LOATHE the freight train) to pass us but nobody knew where it was or when it would pass.  

Someone should have just shot me with a tranquilizer dart at this point because I was just vibrating with anger.  My son kept me sane.  We ate our dinner, I texted anyone and everyone I knew and let them know we were hostages AGAIN and then Michael and I settled in and watched some TV via Netflix on my iPhone.  


At 11:56 p.m., we finally pulled away from the station.  Turns out with the torrential rains earlier in the day, part of the tracks had washed away/there was a sink hole, no one REALLY knows for sure but the fact is, we are once again leaving 4 1/2 hours late.  The train was much less crowded this time around and so Michael and I each took two seats and I did get a good bit of sleep.  

Our train had originally be scheduled to arrive at 8:40 in the morning and by noon (and several more "unscheduled" delays") we were told that we wouldn't be getting in until almost 3 in the afternoon.  I was ready to peel my own skin off!  The crew came around and offered us a complimentary meal in the dining car.  Okay, this could work, right?  We're hungry and could use a good meal.

So Michael and I head down to the dining car (about 4 cars up) and get yelled at to sit down at a specific table.  Actually, I realized that Michael wasn't with me and so I stood back up to look at the car behind us to see if he was still in there and this same woman yelled at me again to sit down!   Seriously??  He joins me, gets yelled at to scoot in because they have to seat 4 to a table.  There were three empty tables...I think we were safe for the time being.

We looked through the menu, decided what we wanted when two plates were thrust in front of us with what can only be described as tiny portions of canned Dinty Moore beef stew (sans beef!) over rice a roni!  Oh, and unsweetened iced tea.  Did I mention how much I despise iced tea or tea of any kind???  So clearly, we are not entitled to a real meal of our choosing.  We ate it but it just added fuel to the fire.

My older son was supposed to meet us at the station but since we were going to be so late, he had to go to work so Frank was going to have to leave work early to get us.  The train finally arrived at 2:40 and Frank couldn't leave work until 3:00 so we had no choice but to SIT in the stink hole of a station and wait.

So I finally heard back from Amtrak and you know what their solution is?  A $150 TRAVEL VOUCHER for my next Amtrak vacation.  

I kid you not.

I asked the woman, "Do you seriously think that I EVER want to get on one of your trains ever again???"  She gave me corporates address.  They will be receiving a letter from me.  

I'll keep you posted.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Disney World!!!

Although it took a while to recover from the trauma of the train ride down, Disney did NOT disappoint.  Bad weather and all!

We stayed at Coronado Springs Resort.  I had won a free night there through Magic for Less Travel and I could not have been more pleased with the resort.  It was HUGE.  When we arrived and checked in, bell services got our bags, check in was super fast and then bell services took us by golf cart to our room.  Which was a good thing because after 19 hours on a train, all I wanted to do was get to our room and change in to clean clothes!

The theming of the resort is southwestern and just beyond beautiful.  I've stayed at a lot of Disney resorts but this was our first moderate resort and I do believe we will stay here again.  Our first day (although 3/4 over by the time we arrived), we went to Magic Kingdom because it was open until midnight.  So after getting to our room and doing a quick freshening up, we ran to the bus stop which was fairly close to our room and hopped the bus to Magic Kingdom.  It drizzled a little bit but we were just so happy to be there that it didn't matter.  We ran like crazy people from 6 p.m. until midnight.  I don't know how we were still walking at that point but we slept very well that night!

We slept in a little the next day and didn't get up until 8:30.  Then we sort of just rolled out of bed and decided to not hit the parks right away but to go for a swim.  I am so glad that we did.  The pool was amazing.  There was a great water slide and after 15 minutes of trying to convince Michael to try it, it was a chore to get him to get off of it and leave! I'm not going to lie to you, I went down about 5 times myself before finally letting myself sit in a lounge chair and just enjoy the sunshine while relaxing.

After a quick lunch up at the main building, we went back to our room to shower and change and then caught the bus to Hollywood Studios - which was also open until midnight that night!  What I soon learned about my young son was that he is a thrill ride enthusiast!  I was hoping for a little less enthusiasm but he just loved it all so much that I had no choice but to let him take the lead.  We rode Tower of Terror twice and Rock N Roller Coaster twice.  My favorite ride was Toy Story's Midway Mania - which I made him ride.  Twice.  LOL!

We ate at Pizza Planet, we shopped, we ran all over the park and yet even with all of the time that we had, we missed a lot of things because they did not stay open all day.  I was a little disappointed but the things that we missed were trivial and the stuff that we did do was awesome.  We did leave the park by 11 p.m. and were fine with it.  Back in the room we realized that our trip was almost over and we'd have to check out in the morning.  I was so sad that it was so short!

We were up at 6:00 a.m. and out of the room with bell services taking our bags by 7:10.  By 7:20 we were completely checked out and at 7:30 we were boarding the bus to Epcot that had early morning extra magic hours so we could be in the park by 8:00 a.m.  

What hit me immediately when the gates opened was that there were no photographers.  I was a little alarmed but figured it was because of the early hour.  Well, when the park opened to the public, I still could not find one.  Now I'm mad AND disappointed because we had gotten our picture done in the other parks and I wanted one done in Epcot!  By 11:00 it was looking pretty gray out and by 11:10 it was raining.  I thought it was just that quick Florida rain but that was not the case.  By noon it was a full-blown storm with thunder, lightening and severe winds!  Luckily we had our emergency ponchos and although the weather slowed us up, we still were able to do almost everything.  Michael even rode Mission Space alone because I was too chicken to do it!

Except getting my picture with the Beast.  It's too upsetting to even talk about.

On our way out of the park at 3:30, we FINALLY found a photographer.  He got some shots of us and that slightly made me feel better.  We took a round trip tour on the monorail and headed back to the resort to pick up dinner and snacks for the ride home and to wait for our town car.

Can I plan my next trip now???

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

So Amtrak Sucks... Part One

Remember my excitement over taking the train to Florida?  Remember how I was almost giddy at the thought and how clever I was and how much money I was saving by traveling by train?

Well forget all of that because AMTRAK SUCKS!!!

That's right, Amtrak SUCKS!!!

I won't say it again until later, I promise.

So we arrived at the station the night we were leaving, an hour before the train was due to arrive.  Why?  No one knows.  I mean, there is NOOOO security, the station was in a sketchy part of town and essentially, there was nothing to do but sit there.  And just to be clear, the station itself was like having a train station in a gas station bathroom.  That hasn't been cleaned.  Ever.

So we line up and I specifically ask if we could NOT be seated near the family with the screaming child and I was assured that we were not.  Well, guess what?  Screaming child 6 rows up.  Thank you, Mr. Conductor.  We get to our seats, get settled and comfy and take off.  Michael and I are both super excited about the journey and comment to each other on how smooth the ride is, how much leg room we have...basically, we are pleased.  

Then we try to go to sleep.  

NOT as easy as it sounds.  I am a very fussy sleeper.  The planets have to align just right in order for me to sleep and so I already knew that it was going to be rough for me.  What I did not expect was how it was going to be near impossible.  I took Z-Quil, I took Melatonin... I FELT tired but could not get comfortable.  I finally managed to doze when the train stopped.  Okay, no big deal, we were making stops and I was fully aware of that fact.  But when we didn't start going again, I got suspicious.

A freight train had derailed ahead of us and we ended up sitting for 4 1/2 hours!!!  I was BEYOND pissed.  Was my towncar going to wait for us in Orlando?  What about our hotel reservation?  I tried contacting Amtrak but no one could tell me anything about how long we were going to sit, etc.

So we finally start moving and okay, we were assured that we'd make up some time and could be in to Orlando by maybe 12:30-1:00 (they were eliminating some stops to make up the time).  Then we stopped again.  And again.  And again.  Honestly, it was ridiculous.  The crew disappeared, the customer service people on the 800# had no idea why we were stopped and essentially we were like hostages on a train.  

Did they offer us a complimentary meal?  No.  We got a "snack pack" that had cheese and 3 crackers, some dried fruit and a cookie, plus some bottled water that must have been bottled in the now overflowing and extremely nasty smelling bathroom.  Gross.  So thank you, Amtrak, so glad that we're all stuck on the train without food and you cared about us so much.

We did not arrive in Orlando until 4:30 p.m.  We were supposed to be there at 10:20 a.m.  My entire day at Disney - which was already paid for - was gone.  I am now OUT that money.  Thankfully, our town car driver stayed and waited for us all day.  That man was a blessing.  When we were finally released from the hell-train, he helped us with our bags, waited for our checked luggage and got us in the car and out of there in a flash!  I was never so happy to be in a car in my entire life.

There was no traffic but storm clouds were coming and by the time we hit our resort, some rain was falling.  But I didn't car because I was off the train!!!  Three emails, three phone calls and no real response from Amtrak.  I was hoping for an upgrade for the ride home to the sleepette car (tiny 3x6 rooms with bunk beds) but no one can authorize that except customer relations and they're not answering their phones.

So on our trip down to Florida, just to re-cap, AMTRAK SUCKED!!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Let's Try This Again...

Okay, so I'm back.  Again.  Hopefully with a little more staying power.  I do think of this blog often but don't seem to have the time to really sit down and do a whole lot with it.  So for you who keep checking back, I apologize.

In the last month I have worked, worked and worked some more, faced the challenge of having my older son finally decide that he wants to go to college (and not here), I took my younger son to Disney (post to follow soon), I think I've found a new church and have had a a request from an agent to see more of my work.  All and all, when you add that to just the usual business of life, things have been pretty full.

So I do promise, staring tomorrow, that you will be seeing some new stuff here and I will get caught up on all of the craziness.

Tune in tomorrow...