Relaxing Ferry Rides, Effective Marketing Workshop

One of the many really big BC ferries
One of the many really big BC ferries
Beautiful waters between the mainland and Vancouver Island, BC
Beautiful waters between the mainland and Vancouver Island, BC
A recent trip across the water to Vancouver Island and a terrific author marketing conference was both enjoyable and exhausting. Thank goodness for the restfulness of the ferry rides coming and going over calm water. Alas, I saw no orca pods. I suspect they were elsewhere than along the route of the big ferries.

Each of the hands-on workshops put on by Promontory Press were excellent, giving me pages of ideas to implement over the next several weeks and months. I’ve found that tackling too much at once nets me nothing but frustration, but taking a one-step-at-a-time approach works better. Meeting other authors who admitted to similar struggles with the marketing end of book publishing left me feeling that I wasn’t alone. Rather, we can help each other in myriad ways, including simply nodding knowingly with a quiet comment, “I know what you mean. I feel that way, too.”

Working with the different staff at Promontory Press helped me feel that they were there to help me and all the other authors, that our struggles are their struggles and that their successes will be reflected in our successes, too.

I look forward to my next invitation to visit with them as we celebrate having met our mutually-determined goals.

The barrier islands off the Georgia coast

One of many very old Live Oaks on St. Simon’s Island
Spanish Moss festoons nearly every tree on St. Simon’s Island

A recent visit to St. Simon’s Island, Georgia netted me an impromptu suntan. I never realized how intense the sun would be when I hunkered down on a bench to enjoy the sounds of the seabirds and watch the boaters putt-putting past, some of them intent on finding a good fishing spot, others simply enjoying time on the sun-splashed waterway.

The extensive marshes that protect the mainland helped explain why several of the locals claimed that hurricanes rarely did much damage to the nearby homes, as the wind-whipped waves first have to traverse the canals between the islands and then move through those marshes before making true landfall.

Of interest as well were the huge live oaks that I saw. Their branches, though still mostly bare, seemed to spread outward like the prongs of an umbrella over the ground where their roots were located. The Spanish Moss that hung from many of the trees also gave an almost unworldly patina as they swayed in the breezes that always seemed to pick up at dusk.

If you’ve never been to these islands–mostly a haven for wealthy snowbirds and weekend day-trippers–put them on your to-do list. At least in spring. The temps and humidity of summer are likely to be too much for those of us used to a drier, more temperate, climate.


Why Air Travel Isn’t Fun Anymore

sky_blue_airplaneI recall when getting on a plane was the start of an adventure that began with a minimum of hassles during the boarding process, reasonably comfortable seats, free meals (even if the food wasn’t gourmet) and easily found luggage at the baggage claim areas.

Not anymore.

Take, for example, my most recent series of flights which began innocuously enough. We boarded and I felt myself lucky to find a spot in the overhead compartment for my carry-on luggage. A gentleman behind me graciously offered to help me place it above my head. My window seat felt cramped, but at least I could offset my sense of claustrophobia by staring out the window every few minutes. Unfortunately, the view was of the tarmac, where we sat and sat and sat for too many minutes, which gradually extended to hours. The reason given? A mechanical difficulty that eventually brought the plane back to the terminal, but the captive passengers were not allowed to deplane.
When we finally took off, I was counting the minutes to landing and debating with myself whether I would make it to my next connection.

Turns out I was two minutes late, even after answering the call over the loudspeakers in the large terminal that I was on my way. That way included a dash down one escalator, trooping down two more sets of stairs, a ride on an underground tram, a rush up another escalator and race down the terminal to the gate.

Forty-five minutes later, I had been rebooked on another carrier to another city not on my original itinerary. Three hours later, I boarded again and endured another flight, this time in the middle seat, squashed between a gentleman who had to weigh at least three hundred pounds and a squirming eight-year-old who alternately wailed and pouted that Daddy (behind us in the next row) wouldn’t give her more food.

Arrival for my final flight began badly, when I learned that it had been cancelled, no reason given. When I and another passenger inquired, we were treated as if we didn’t deserve to know. Yet another rebooking then occurred, but only as a standby passenger, said flight not to take off until another three hours had elapsed. Were I not to get on that flight, I would have to stay overnight, for which I would be issued a voucher for a nearby hotel. Although my day had already extended to eighteen hours of flying time, I was refused said voucher until and unless I couldn’t get on that final flight. More waiting time elapsed.

Then began yet another nail-biting wait for the previously-booked passengers to board and a slow calling of the names of the other dozen or so passengers like me, who had been placed in standby status.

Mine was the last name called to board that flight. My seat? Almost at the back of the plane where the pressure changes on take-off and landing was of unpleasant intensity. Arrival at my destination occurred 21 hours after I had arisen to catch the original plane.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, my return flight included another readjustment after I learned that the seat I had originally reserved on plane number two had been eliminated when a smaller jet was substituted for the original one. No advance warning was provided regarding this change. The gate attendant acted as if it really wasn’t my concern that this change had been made. Once again I was moved to the back of the plane. Blessedly, a window seat that enabled me to try to ignore the snoring of a nearby passenger and his head, which pressed uncomfortably against my shoulder after he descended into sleep.

How common does all this occur? I’d love to hear from others who have endured similar nightmarish experiences when simply attempting to fly from point one to points two, three and four.