The Ordeal With The Magnuson Grand Continues

Last week, I posted about my experience with the Magnuson Grand Hotel of Fayetteville in Arkansas.  You can read it here.  I gave the hotel a few days to return my money before actually publishing the post.  When they didn’t, I went ahead and let the world read it.

Today is the sixth business day.  Guess what?  No money.

At this point, I’m not even sure it’s about the $160 due to be refunded.  It’s about customer service and acceptable business practices.  This is not some internet scam or online business headquartered in the someone’s basement.  They have a physical address.  I’ve been there!

I’ve issued refunds before at different places where I worked, it isn’t that difficult.  I admit, I’ve never worked in a hotel, but could it really be so different?  Also, we have provided the hotel with documentation of the extra charge.  Yet, we do not deserve even a call back?

The original charge happened 25 September.  I was informed 7 October that the refund had been issued.  It is now 15 October and despite leaving a message yesterday, I did not get a return call.

So, I have taken it to the next level.  I have contacted the Arkansas State Attorney General’s office and filed a complaint.  I am flabbergasted by the lack of contact and communication from the hotel.  How can a business be run is such a fashion?

The Importance of Beta Readers

With Butchered Dreams, I am seeing exactly how important beta readers are.  Big publishing houses use multiple editors for a single book and I fully understand exactly why… now.

My editor had over 5,000 suggested changes.  Most of these were implemented before it was sent to the beta readers.

I am using ten betas on this particular book, the most I’ve had so far.  Several have gotten back to me with suggestions.  One caught the glaring spelling error on the first page.  Even the editor, reading it twice, missed it.  Another caught that I had used the wrong word in one spot.  While yet another picked up that I used the wrong first name for a character, three times.

So thank you beta readers for helping make the book better.  My Magic 8 Ball is not as pleased, it got tired of being shaken.  ;-)

Still Awake

It’s 2 am and I’m still awake.  Mainly because I’m still sick.  When I lay down,  my head clogs and I cough more.

All this night time awake hours has led to thinking about “writing as work.”  Especially since I am currently not writing a new book. I have 4 paragraphs on a new novel, but that’s it.

I know a lot of writers treat it as a job. The work the standard 8 hour day and then make time for the rest of their life.

Not me. I write because I love it. However if the words are not flowing, I don’t force them. It’s counter-productive.  Sometimes,  it’s just laziness.  Sometimes,  it’s because whatever I’m writing is fleshed out enough in my head. Sometimes, it’s a lack of ideas.

For example, the next Dreams novel could be in progress… But it’s missing a killer and I’ve just sent the mysterious, creepy sidekick after a Jack the Ripper copycat. So, what sort of monster should Aislinn and the SCTU start chasing? No killer, no novel.

My 4 pathetic paragraphs are the start of a fantasy trilogy. Yet, it isn’t finished forming in my head. I have an idea for a horror novel, but no characters.

If I start forcing these onto a page, they will be clunky and garbled.  They won’t even qualify as a rough draft.  In this way, writing sometimes fail to adhere to an 8 hour day.  And I am fine with these lapses from time to time. It keeps writing interesting. Sometimes the thinking of and rejection of ideas is just as necessary as putting words on a page.

I hate the editing process…

I know, I sound like I’m beating a dead horse, but I’m not.  It isn’t actually editing that I hate.  I hate the process of editing.  Here it is:

1.  I send a manuscript to the editor.

2.  The editor goes through the manuscript and sends it back.

3.  I (using the track changes function) look at every change the editor has made and accept or reject them based on some intangible concept that gets plucked from the ethereal.  (There are usually about 5,000 marks on a manuscript of average length, I type fast, but not at the same speed as my brain works)

4.  I send it back to the editor.

5.  The editor goes through it again.  (This time there are usually an addition 500 changes, most them to things I changed – like entire rewritten paragraphs and what-not)

6.  I get it back from the editor and go through the suggested changes yet again, accepting or rejecting using different mystical objects; Ouija boards, divination rods, crystals, chicken bones or Tarot cards, depending on my mood.

7.  The manuscript goes to the Beta Readers.

8.  The beta readers find more errors and suggest even more changes.  These trickle in over a period of a couple of weeks.

9.  I read through all the suggested changes and accept or reject them using a Magic 8 Ball.

10.  The final two readers go through the manuscript and inevitable find yet another spelling error and another paragraph that still doesn’t make sense and has their own feelings about the way the book flows.

11.  I either tell them where to shove it or I implement their changes.

12.  Realizing that I have now read at least several parts of the book at least 17 times, I publish it, vowing to never read it again.

Honestly, I don’t mind the edits.  They make the book better.  It’s the time it takes to go through the process that bugs me and in three weeks, I really will read the book 17 times or more.  I will actually hate the book by the time it gets ready for publication.  It is during this time that I start to second guess myself (maybe I should have done this instead) and wonder about the plot (does it have holes in it?  I mean, more holes than it should?  Some Cain novels need a few holes…).

Bad Customer Service

Somethings just really irritate the shit out of me.  The big one is bad customer service.  I know that things happen; wait staff have bad days, computers screw up, messages go missing, but there is still some common courtesies that should happen when these things happen.

In August, my SO and I stayed at the Magnuson Grand Hotel in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  We were there for a dart tournament.  Our hotel room was appalling.  The curtains were being held on the rod by safety pins, our shower curtain rod was broken, we stayed two nights, the toilet wouldn’t flush correctly, and they never replaced the shampoo (which we needed on day 2 of our stay).  It was so bad, I actually took pictures of our room because I had never stayed in a “hotel” that was this bad… and I travel, a lot; darts, vacations, trips to see family, weekend getaways that are spur of the moment, for work, etc.

Now, the tournament was 8-10 August.  I let the room complaints slide because the guy at the front desk was nice and I’m not really the type to complain about those things anyway.  It was obvious the hotel was going through some changes, both in a physical sense and management.

On 25 September, my debit card was charged for these two nights, again.  We discovered the charges on 27 September and I was in the first stage of my current bout of yuckiness, meaning my SO got to handle it.  Now, he and I handle things very differently and I am far more polite than he is.  I’m sure there was yelling and swearing on his part.  That’s how he handles things. We were asked to provide documentation of the charges, which we emailed to them.

And heard NOTHING for several days.  At this point, he begins calling them two or three times a day – after all, we haven’t heard anything, did they get the email?  Also, the original hotel charge was to his credit card.  The new charge was to my debit card.  I had reserved the room and he paid for it upon our arrival.  So, was there a problem finding the charges because they were in different names?

Still nothing… Monday, my voice returned and I called and I had to leave a message.  (The man who answered the phone at that point was nice enough to inform me that the charges were the result of system glitch, we were not the only ones that had been charged twice and that it was being worked on, but it wasn’t his job to explain this to me…)  When I didn’t hear back by the end of the day, I called and asked to speak to the supervisor and was told they were also unavailable.  I left a message for her to call me back.  Tuesday afternoon rolls around, my calls haven’t been returned.  My SO’s calls haven’t been returned.  I fire off an email and I was polite in my email, requesting at least a status update.  An hour later, I’ve still heard nothing.

I call again.  Yes, now I’m calling multiple times a day to try to get some kind of status update or just anything at this point.  I tell the woman that answers the phone who I am and ask to speak with the person I need to speak with, I get put on hold.  A few moments later, the woman who answered the phone gets back on the line and says “So-and-So wanted me to tell you that your account has been credited.”

The woman in the financial department that I need to speak won’t even take my call?  Are you serious?  I thanked the woman who told me my refund was on the way and then they hung up on me.  I can’t even talk to someone about the poor customer service.  Really?

Originally, if I was going to rate the Magnuson Grand of Fayetteville, Arkansas, I would have given it three stars – lacking in the room department, but great customer service.  After this incident, they get none, zero stars.  If you have to stay in Fayetteville, don’t stay at the Magnuson Grand.  I would actually recommend sleeping in your car first.

And I’m adding a picture of our bathroom just to show that I wasn’t lying about the condition.  This was our shower curtain, notice how it bunches in the middle because the ends are broken and it curves down.  We couldn’t close it to shower:

shower curtain MGHotel

Grammar Anarchy

I have a confession to make: I don’t follow grammar rules very well.  Like most school children, proper grammar usage has been drilled into my head since I started kindergarten.  The rules repeated and repeated until they were recite-able on command.

That’s all well and good, but language is an evolutionary process – look at the introduction of slang – and rigid, sometimes archaic grammar rules just don’t fit.

For instance, I was taught never to end a sentence with a preposition.  What pit of Hell did this rule came from, I don’t know.  It’s preposterous.  “Up with this I will not put!”  Good example, but a better one, that we use everyday is “I have no one to talk to.”  Yes, I could reword this sentence to say “…”  Actually, I can’t think of a way to reword the sentence.  “I have no one to talk to because I live alone and my only friend is on vacation drinking fruity umbrella drinks on some white sand beach that are brought to her by cabana boys.”  Do you need to know all that?  I think not.  For the record, my only friend is not currently on vacation, but if she was, this would be her idea of a good one.  It’s even harder to avoid in questions.  “Where are you from?”  means the same thing as “From where did you come?”  But who says that?  I want to add a “whence” to it, just to sound more proper.

Beginning a sentence with “and” or “but.”  Seriously?  Sometimes a good “but” at the beginning of a sentence adds emphasis.  And when we speak, we speak with “and” and “but” at the beginning of sentences.  How many times have you said something, paused for a moment then added a “but” or “and?”  Thousands?  Hundreds of thousands?  That pregnant pause is the end of the sentence.  The “but” or “and” that follows it, is an after thought about whatever you’ve just said.

The abused comma.  I am terrible about my comma usage.  I know where they go.  They don’t always make it.  There are times when I seem to suffer “comma spasms,” which is the insertion of unnecessary commas.  “Comma spasms” are dreadful and long, I have been known to suffer through it for entire chapters.  My editor once told me “I’ve never edited a novel where I had to remove more commas then I added.”  Other times, I seem to forget the key exists.  Then there are times, I leave them out on purpose, in dialogue.  *gasp*  I do this for a reason.  One day, while helping a fellow student with a paper, she lost it.  I believe her monologue regarding how evil I was lasted a good five minutes.  During this rapid fire, verbal assault, I realized that she only paused to gasp for air and it rarely coincided with commas or periods.  When people are talking fast, they don’t use commas, hell, they may not use periods.  If your character is flapping their jaws at the roughly the speed of light, why are you using commas to give the reader a break in the sentence to catch their own breath?  The character isn’t.

The even more abused semi-colon and colon – I just avoid these as much as possible.  Of the four hundred million people in the US, I estimate that a million know how to use these properly; English teachers and editors.

Finally, the use of swear words.  In real life, I swear well enough to make even the most black-hearted, scurvy riddled, syphilis suffering pirate blush.  I try to tone it down in my writing.  While it can be a useful tool, at some point, it becomes oppressive.  However, the use is becoming more and more accepted.  But I like to buck trends, I jumped off the fashion train around 1995, part of what I’ve missed is the advent of modern slang.  It took me asking one of my nephews if “sick” had taken on a new meaning and it had!  What do you mean it means “cool?”  I thought “cool” meant “cool?”

The Next Book

I’ve finished Butchered Dreams, except for some editing.  At this point, I start thinking about my next book.  What will it be?  What’s the plot?  Who’s book is it?

Strangely, I have no answers for these questions.  I have no idea what my next book is going to be.

If I write a Dreams & Reality novel, I don’t know what novel it will be.  Or should I start a new series?  Turn my pen towards some of those stand-alone novels that are floating around in my brain?  Those stand-alones aren’t formed yet, the ideas are there, but there’s no meat – characters, plots, rising action, falling action, etc.  I’ve been laboring on a Dysfunctional novella, but it really has been slow and torturous.

So… what to write?  Honestly, I can’t go more than a week without writing – writing is my fix.  Sometimes what comes out is complete crap, but it still has to come out.  We’ll see how this week goes…

Dreams and Reality

Last night, I dreamed that I was running through the woods, away from something and got shot in the right eye with an arrow.  It was an incredible pain; blinding, throbbing, radiating – shooting pains throughout my cheek and forehead.  It was like nothing I had ever felt before.

The pain woke me up.  To my horror, being awake didn’t stop it.  The pain still existed, it felt like my eyeball was trying to explode out of its socket.  After a few moments of semi-conscience incomprehension, I realized I had a severe sinus migraine.  I got up, took a NyQuil, rubbed my face down with Vicks VapoRub and waited.  The pain didn’t subside.  Unsure what else to do, I turned on the heating pad and used it as a pillow.

Heat was the missing ingredient.  A few moments of intense warmth and I could hear my sinuses begin to pop, crackle, and hiss.  The migraine began to subside.  And with my face still firmly planted on the heating pad, I fell back asleep.  Nor more dreams of arrows or other sharp pointing things stuck in my eye.

I slept for an hour or so.  My SO waking me up because my coughing had intensified while I slept and I was starting to cry again in my sleep (the heating pad has an automatic timer).  Grabbing the heating pad, my blanket, and my pillow, I moved to the couch and slept fitfully for a few more hours.

Today, the sinus migraine is starting again.  I have a feeling there are a few more days of sleeping on the couch in my future.  However, it’s interesting, as the heat subsided and the migraine started again, I once again began dreaming of sharp things in my eye.  Funny how dreams often alert you to reality.

Edits

I hate the editing process. I get that it’s necessary, but it’s so tedious.

And WordPress on android sucks.

A Box Of Kleenex and Extra Pillows

My SO is away again,  Lakeside Speedway doing racing stuff. Left today, returns late Saturday.   This means three things: A) I can sleep in our bed. B) I can steal his pillows.  C) There is no one to complain about the box of Kleenex in the bed or the plastic bag to put them in.

Migraines I’ve gotten used to… other illnesses not so much. I officially have a sinus infection,  upper respiratory infection,  inner and outer ear infection, and strangely, a bladder infection.   I say “strangely” but the truth is, I almost always get a bladder infection when I have a sinus infection.

I’m on a “broad spectrum” antibiotic. After 4 doses, the vertigo is gone, but I still feel dreadful.  This gets worse when the sun goes down. And sleeping presents new challenges, lying down makes me cough. My ribs and breastbone hurt from it.

However, I really am a silver linings girl… The vertigo is mostly gone… thank heavens… a few more days of that and I would have been digging my ear drums out to relieve the pressure.

The other silver lining: it’s October.  My favorite holiday is at the end of the month. Horror movies are plentiful and recommended read lists include new horror novels.  Also, my book signing is coming up. I’ll have books from the Dreams & Reality group and the Strachan series for sale. (If you come and want a book from The Dysfunctional Chronicles, we’ll have to make arrangements)  I will also have bookmarks and magnets to give away.

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