Aside

How mad would you be? [Re-Blog from Patricia Johns Romance]

wedding

Source: Patricia Johns Romance: How mad would you be?

There has been an article circulating about a wedding that was interrupted by the groom’s best friend/officiant. The BF decided to interrupt the ceremony to propose to his own girlfriend, and then forced the band to play a “special song” for him and his bride-to-be to dance to during the wedding.

Friend and fellow author, Patricia Johns (look her up, she’s amazing) commented on this event on her blog with an post called How mad would you be? I don’t know about you, but I would’ve been pretty upset. Here is the comment I posted on Patricia’s blog and I stand by it. What do you think?

———– START OF COMMENT ———–

I have a major problem with this, and it’s not because of the financial factor: The friend did this during the ceremony.

I don’t care how small or big your budget is for this event. The ceremony is about the people involved and making a commitment to each other. Interrupting their ceremony, which is their declaration in front of their loved ones, is narcissistic, disruptive, and completely overstepping the boundaries of friendship with someone. No matter how small the budget, how casual the environment, perhaps this was the one time in their lives when all of their friends and family will be in one place. To hijack that intimate setting during of one of the biggest emotional events of your life is a horrible thing to do. My husband and I aren’t well off people. We’re not at the poverty line, but not above it by much and live in a quasi-ghetto area. This was a special moment for us and having so many friends and family from out of town in one place made it all the more special.

I can understand getting caught up in the emotion of the day. It makes guests and participants reflective of their own relationships. I think if any type of declaration had to be made by the officiant/best friend/narcissistic idiot, it should’ve been made during the reception, after the speeches and first dance are done, when the environment is more casual and collaborative. Then, maybe requesting a special dance also would’ve fit more in with the festive ambience. Everyone’s (hopefully) feeling the good vibes and wanting to celebrate in this life event. Guests make music requests of the band/DJ/jukebox, what have you, all of the time at these events. Making a declaration taking the spotlight off of the main people involved before the milestone moments of a wedding would be extremely hurtful. I’m not saying don’t do it, but have some respect for the people involved and wait for the right time during the event if it absolutely has to be done.

Also, Judy above [first commenter] makes a good point. I can’t possibly believe if someone had the gall to do this during the ceremony that it was the first time this kind of stunt has occurred. However, even if it was due to shock, neither the groom nor the bride stepped in to say, “Hey, can this wait until later?” Then, if the officiant/best friend/narcissistic idiot continued to try and move forward, I would’ve been more upset and say “bye bye” to that friend. There had to have been, for lack of better phrasing, warning signs that this guy was capable of pulling a stunt like this out of thin air. He would’ve had to have done this before with other life events.

————–*END OF COMMENT*————–

What do you think, folks?

Would you be angry or upset?

Should I shut up and enjoy the festivities?

Are the bride and groom completely justified?

Would you stay friends with someone like this?

Share in the comments below!

Aside

Spirit Airlines Review – FULL Review

spirit - logo

Greetings Precious Readers!

I promised a follow-up and I did not disappoint! (Er, this time!)

Spirit Airlines has gotten a fairly bad reputation due to its “no frills” policy and approach to airline service. I’ve already touched on its history and current reputation in an earlier post here. All ratings will be rated on a 0-5 😊 scale. Also, in my earlier post, I wrote about having set expectations and doing your research. I went into my flights with Spirit Airlines fully aware of their “no frills” policy and clear expectations of how it would be. It is an economical way to fly, and I treated it as such.

I’m going to jet right into my review. (See what I did there?)

Seat Picking  – 😊😊😊😊😊
My friend, Caring* and I hadn’t vacationed before, but we were easily able to get seats next to each other without having to “request” it earlier. Specifically picking your seats is an added cost. I could see how this would bother someone, but I figure with other ‘standard’ airlines, that fee is built into your higher ticket price. Since the flight was only 2.5 hours each way, Caring and I didn’t worry about not sitting with each other. SA surprised us and seated us next to each other automatically. Lucky us! For this, I give it 5 faces. If it had been a longer flight, I might have coughed up the extra dollars to ensure I was somewhat near the people I’m traveling with. If it had been with Pilot, we definitely would’ve preferred to sit next to each other. The second flight wasn’t full, and the airline allowed us to move seats for more comfort. No seat neighbors = Happy KB. Caring and I ended up each sitting on one aisle seat across from each other, still able to talk, plus elbow room. What could be better?

spirit - bare fare

Bare Fare Experience – 😊😊😊😊😊
Going in with a full understanding of the “Bare Fare Experience,” there were no surprises, or upsets in any way. If you’re not traveling far, or only traveling for a short period of time 1-3 days, and are able to pack light, I highly recommend this as a great money saver. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather save my money for my actual destination rather than the travel to the destination. If it was a longer flight, like the one to South Korea, I would’ve sprung for more creature comforts due to the large amount of time actually spent in my traveling vessel. Since I went in with clear expectations, and there were no bad surprises, I’d say everything went according to plan. Really, what else is there in travel plans?

Baggage/Packing for Medical Needs – 😊😊😊😊😊
I only packed an average-sized laptop-holding backpack for my 3-day trip, clothes only packed for 2 days as I was wearing my “third” outfit, and a swimsuit. I had no issues getting baggage through TSA and ensured my bag was considered the right size for SA as my ONE bag. It’s not like a standard airline with a carry on + personal item. You only get ONE bag.

I did have an extra bag, but it was for medical purposes. I had contacted SA ahead of time, and they assured me my extra bag would not be charged for. They kept their word and gave no hassles of any kind in regards to my medical supplies. 5 😊 for that!

spirit - seats

Seat Comfort – 😊😊😊😊😊
This was a pleasant surprise! The seats, although not plush were surprisingly comfortable! I’m a larger gal, so having slightly less padding actually gave me more room and less encroachment on my seatmates. I don’t require 2 airline seats, but I’m not thin. I’m not a size 4. I try to be conscious about not taking up space. Having said that, I also hate seatmates who lean over the armrest and shove their elbows into me to “establish dominance of the territory.” Be a pal. If you have an armrest, don’t use up BOTH. I’m only using 1, you should only be using 1. I digress… The seats on SA were comfortable, leather, and I had no problem catching a brief nap on them. I’m a lucky gal who can sleep anywhere, but I was actually comfortable, and didn’t need a neck pillow.

The all important LEG ROOM: The leg room was unbelievably awesome! I had more leg room on this trip than I did for my flight on Korean Air. Korean Air was a 10.5 hour flight to Korea and an 11 hour return flight to Seattle. I repeat: I HAD MORE LEG ROOM ON SPIRIT AIRLINES THAN I DID KOREAN AIR. That is saying something!

Lack of In-Flight Services – N/A
I’m not going to rate this. I didn’t purchase any food or beverages on the flight. SA is clear that any water, drinks, and/or food on the plane is an additional fee. I tend to snack, so I bought water and snacks in the airport before the flight. They gave me no hassles about bringing an additional bag of trail mix on the plane and my water bottle, even though they clearly didn’t fit in my stuffed backpack. I won’t rate this since I didn’t try their products, and neither did my friend, so I cannot comment on the quality of water, beverages, or food. However, the staff was polite and their service was efficient getting the items into the hands of waiting guests.

Customer Service – 😊😊😊
I’d like to specifically say that the flight attendants and the pilots were some of the most genuinely nice staff I’ve seen since Korean Airlines. I’ve traveled by air easily 25+ times in my life. This was the second-most friendly service I’ve experienced for flight services. They cracked jokes during the emergency lecture pre-flight, the pilots also brought a level of brevity to typically sterile and stale instructions, which made the plane burst into light laughter. Flight guests are a tough crowd. Hat’s off to them!

This was my first time flying with SA, so I can’t comment on how their service was in the beginning, but I found them polite, courteous, efficient, and able to successfully bring some humor to the flight. At 6:00 AM, I call that talent.

The reason I knocked off two faces–that phrase looks weird–was due to pre-flight issues. SA doesn’t allow you to print boarding passes until within 24-hours of your flight. I printed them at home, because printing the boarding pass at the airport is an additional fee. The print off didn’t scan at TSA, and they directed me to the SA counter to get a boarding pass re-printed like a standard boarding pass. Apparently the bar code/smart code used on home printers rarely scan well at TSA check in points and this is a common occurrence. Since our flight left at 6:00 AM, Caring and I were at the airport at 4:00 AM. The SA counter didn’t open until later that morning.

Luckily, the airport had standing kiosks like mini-ATMs where I could print a new boarding pass myself (free!). However, if the airport hadn’t had a kiosk, I would’ve been stuck until the SA counter opened, missed my flight, and Caring and I would’ve had a shorter vacation (or she would’ve been in our warm climate destination without me). If you’re traveling to a more remote place, I don’t know how this would affect your travel plans. Several other counters of other airlines were open with staff, so it was disappointing to see the SA counter dim and desolate.

Canceled Flight – N/A
My flight wasn’t canceled, so I cannot comment or rate the experience. So, that’s a good thing!

spirit - amused

OVERALL: A solid 3.75 / 5
Overall, I give SA a 3.75/5, which compared to other reviews I’ve seen, isn’t too bad. If you’re looking to get from Point A to Point B with a little humor thrown in, and leg room to spare, this is the discount airline for you!

Traveled with Spirit Airlines? What was your experience? Comment below!

Have a travel tip? Please share with the masses below!

Want to provide me with much-needed advice, and think I’m writing with rose-colored glasses? I’d love to know how wrong my thinking is! Tell me how wrong I am!

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

I was not asked or compensated in any way to provide this review of Spirit Airlines. The information provided on this blog is voluntarily of my sole opinion.

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COVER REVEAL! Crush On You: A Roxy Summers Mystery #2

Hello Precious Readers!

My incredible publisher, Trifecta Publishing House officially announced via Twitter my absolutely fabulous, spanking new, GORGEOUS COVER for my next book, CRUSH ON YOU: A Roxy Summers Mystery #2 set to release later this year!

The cover artist is the genius and talented Diana Carlile of Designing Diana. I have to tell you, Precious Readers. I was blown away by my first cover. I didn’t think the cover design could get any better. Lo and behold, Diana Carlile’s creativity knows no bounds, and she proved me delightfully wrong again. I would love to know what you think. I love, LOVE, LOVE Crush On You’s cover, and Roxy’s design!

WIthout giving anything away, I’ll let you peruse the cover to guess what Roxy Summers’ next adventure is. I’ll give you a hint, it’ll be a real slice! So, without further adieu, here is the cover for Crush On You: A Roxy Summers Mystery #2! IT’S SO AWESOME!

(Insert favorite fanfare noise here.
Such as from Robin Hood: Men In Tights, or
Monty Python and the Holy Grail fanfare.)

perf5.000x8.000.indd

Putting My Life in Spirit Airline’s Hands While They Hurtle It Through the Air

flying

Hello Precious Readers,

You read that correctly. Later this year, I will be attempting to fly with “The Worst Airline” in American history. “Why?” you may ask? I’ll tell you. I’m cheap. And I don’t have a large budget. But I need a vacation.

I’ve heard the stories, I’ve read the articles, I’ve seen the Yelp/Trip Advisor/Other Blog Post reviews. You know what consistently pops up? Read the fine print.

angry librarian

Warning: It’s Tough Love time.

I’ve warned you about my “straight talk,” and that I am not into frills if that’s not what is expected. I’m a firm believer that our country is becoming entitled. People expect more for less, and have condescending and egotistical attitudes about it. I’m not immune to this mentally viral emotional state… I try to have those instances occur as few and as far between events of my idiocy as possible. I’m human, but I try to remember that other people are human too.

Spirit Airlines tends to emote the lizard-brain, guttural, almost primitive reactions of hate, frustration, and anger in people who fly with them. I’m looking at the experience a bit more optimistically.

vacation

My girl friend, Caring and I are taking a girl’s getaway trip later this year to warmer climates. I firmly believe this vacation was hard earned due to some struggles both of us have incurred over the last couple of years, me finishing CRUSH ON YOU: A Roxy Summers Mystery #2, (releasing August 21, 2017!), and a break from life’s little problems. It will be our first vacation together. I’ll admit I’ve had poor traveling experiences with friends in the past, but I’m feeling optimistic. Caring and I have both have traveled to this destination before, and are looking for some time away from family and children. Not that we don’t like children. I work in a school, for crying out loud. She works in early education and has a master’s degree in social work, which she obtained while studying in DETROIT. We’re pro-children.

Queue the music now: “I believe the children are our future…”

But, neither of us will be playing “tourist” during this trip and can kick back, have some relaxation time, and enjoy some sunshine and pool side quasi-luxury. (Keep an eye on my Instagram *cough cough, hint hint* if you want to keep up with my misadventures!)

But, I digress.

I used to work with a group of lawyers. I’m not a lawyer. I’m not smart enough. But, after supporting a team of lawyers for several years, I’ve learned 2 things:

  • Do your research.
  • Read the fine print before you sign anything.

It’s a good thing I do. This can tend to be a point of frustration for my loved ones, who quickly sign subscription, Fred Meyer points cards, etc. with the carefree attitude of someone with nothing to lose. Then, they get annoyed when I stand at the counter an extra 5-7 minutes reading the agreement in its entirety, sometimes with a level 5 point font. I read every word. Every. Single. Word.

Those few extra minutes make a big difference in my life decisions.

Spirit Airlines is no different. One of the biggest complaints that are across the internet are regarding baggage, seat comfort, lack of in-flight services, and customer service. All of this information is addressed on their website in big yellow boxes.

spirit

This is where “Do your research” comes in. Always know what you’re getting into before signing anything

Let’s break down the biggest complaints people have, shall we?

baggage

  • Baggage — Baggage is a luxury. Of course, if you are traveling more than 1 day, you might need more clothes. It is possible to travel with 1 full outfit, but most people do not find this ideal. However, with modern-day materials and a little soap, you can stretch 1 outfit. It’s not ideal, and frankly, unless you’re backpacking in the same climate or planning to only wear a bathing suit, it’s not realistic. Having said that, I’ve seen people have an entire suitcase only for their shoes. My opinion? Unless you are traveling to colder climates, you do not require that much luggage.

Leg room

  • Seat Comfort — The owner of Spirit has said their seats are basic with little leg room to provide more chairs in each plane. If you’re traveling longer than 2.5 hours, or have a medical situation, you really might want to consider a different airline. We will be traveling <2.5 hours, so I can withstand a little uncomfortable seating. Lack of leg room – unless you’re willing to pay out the nose for business or first-class seating, is that truly any different from any other airline? My hubby, Pilot and I traveled 10.5 hours one way from Seattle to Seoul, South Korea in Economy Seats. Did we have little leg room? Yes. Did I bring an extra carry-on bag? Yes. This already reduces the amount of leg room. Planes are uncomfortable, but they are transportation systems. Not hotels. Need to stretch your legs? Stand up. Bring a scarf or wear a sweater you can use to cushion your seat. Frankly, I hate it when someone reclines. It puts their chair in my face, along with their head, and I don’t need to lock eyes with the passenger in front of me. What is the airline’s job? Get you from Point A to Point B, fairly and not-permanently scathed. Do they do this? Yes. You bought what you paid for.

In Flight

  • Lack of In-Flight Services — Think that water and pack of peanuts is complimentary? Think again. Booking outside of Spirit Airlines, the fees are little higher, or sometimes much higher. So that “complimentary” service, isn’t really free, is it? It’s like paying for a luxury hotel stay and getting the little bottles of shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion. Those are not “complimentary.” You pre-paid for those when you booked your hotel room. If you want in-flight food or water, you will have to pay for it in-flight or beforehand and bring it with you. So is “complimentary” really complimentary? According to a bottom line, no. Not really.

Customer

  • Customer Service — Here is where it gets tricky. As someone who has worked her whole life in customer service, I have both an employee and customer’s point of view. I’ve been on the side of good and terrible service. I’ve been on the side of dealing with reasonable, and completely “whacked out of their gourd” irate and irrationally angry customers who are determined to not have their problem solved no matter what you are able to legally provide for them. Which of these was your experience?

SCENARIO 1: Are you someone who gets frustrated easily? Has the staff member apologized for your grievance, but according to business policies they are unable to meet your request? Well, then the problem is you.

Businesses have policies for a reason. Read the fine print. It is not the employee’s fault that you are requesting something beyond what they are permitted to give. Do you go to a Chinese food restaurant which only serves Chinese food, but then demand a hamburger?

“But the [Name of Burger Place] down the street serves them!” you demand.

“But, we don’t make hamburgers here, sir/madam,” says the employee.

“You are being rude, and this is ridiculous!” you say. “You serve food, don’t you? That’s what I’m asking for. Food! NOW!”

“Yes, but we only serve Chinese food,” says the employee. “It says so on the sign outside, on our website, and on our menus that we only serve Chinese food. We could put some beef on a roll for you, but that will be an extra charge since we don’t usually make it.”

“This is ridiculous!” you exclaim. “I will tell everyone and everyone they know about the terrible service here!”

Do you see what’s wrong with this scenario? I don’t know about when Spirit Airlines first launched their business or website, but if you look at it now, it is straightforward information about their baggage policies, in-flight policies, seating, etc. 

SCENARIO 2: Were you kind, polite, said “please” and “thank you,” but what you’re requesting goes against business policy? Then the problem is still you. See scenario 1 above, but with a lighter tone from the customer. Do you really expect a Chinese food restaurant to serve you a burger? No.

SCENARIO 3: Were you kind, polite, said “please” and “thank you,” what you were requesting falls inside of their policies, but were met with an employee who showed hostility, aggression, and could not care less that you are human being? Then the problem is with the service. THIS IS WHEN YOU SHOULD COMPLAIN TO A MANAGER.

want v need

Another thing to keep in mind: There’s a big difference between “want” and “need.” 

Do I need to check 2 bags, and have a carry on and purse on my person — for a 2-night stay in a warm-climate location? Probably not.

Do I need to pack 3 pairs of sunglasses and have four outfits per day? Again, probably not.

Is my carry on bigger and/or heavier than the dimensions the airline clearly outlined on their website? Yes? I may have to pay an additional fee. With increasing fuel costs and limited space — airlines need to be royalty of efficiency and good use of space. There’s only 1 plane with a finite amount of space to hold objects and amount of weight it can hold, and only 1 you. Who do you think is going to win this battle?

Do I need my medication(s) and proper storage arrangements for them? Yes. Luckily, Spirit Airlines does not charge for any accommodations needed for medically related issues. This does not include your loyal pet #NimitzThePomeranian as your “service dog.” Do you plan to list medication(s) as true medical need? No matter which airline you fly, you will need to provide documentation. Doctors notes are king, along with original packaging for your meds, and bring your prescriptions with you. Keep in mind, this is for any and all airlines, not just Spirit. If traveling internationally, make sure your medication(s) are legal to bring into that country.

But, they canceled my flight and I didn’t get a refund! What the heck?

I would be frustrated too. In fact, this is my biggest fear about my upcoming flight with Spirit. But I have this fear with all airlines. Again, as of today, Spirit has made it clear on their website that all sales are final and there are no refunds. I’m gambling with my money, but I agreed to these terms, and I’ll have to suck it up if my flight gets canceled. Spirit does offer its customers the opportunity to fly on their next flight to your planned destination at no additional fee, but that is based on your individual itinerary. It’s not the airline’s fault that you’ll be missing C-dog-topia-wallop-palooza, the sole reason you were flying in the first place. Again, this is seems pretty standard for any airline. You run the risk of your flight being delayed or canceled. Especially if your flight(s) may be affected by inclement weather or an emergency situation.

caveat

Having anything seemingly go wrong with your travel plans can be frustrating, exhausting, and feel like the end of the world. But, I implore you, Caveat Emptor, or “Buyer Beware.”

Research is your friend. So is reading the fine print. At this stage, Caring and I are fully aware of what we’re getting into, and doing our best to apply ourselves to their guidelines. It may be a bumpy flight, but we’ll be doing our best to have our eyes wide open about it.

It’s easy to say all of these things before flying with them. Perhaps they’ll prove me wrong, and I’ll have a great time, and everything will be perfect. Maybe they’ll prove me really, really wrong, and everything turns to shit. Either way, we’ll find out soon, won’t we? And you will, because I’ll writing another blog post confirming or denying my findings.

Traveled with Spirit Airlines? Tell us your experiences in the comments section!

Have a travel tip? Please share with the masses below!

Want to provide me with much-needed advice, and think I’m writing with rose-colored glasses? I’d love to know how wrong my thinking is! Share with me below!

Tying on the Blue Apron, then taking it off (Non-sponsored Review)

BA - Main

Hello Precious Readers!

For those following me on Facebook and Twitter, you might have heard hints that I tried the Blue bandwagon and tried Blue Apron (“BA”)for three months. This is a non-sponsored, unbiased review of my Blue Apron experience. My spousal life partner, Pilot and I tried this as a couple with no children. We have dogs, but they didn’t get any bites. Much. Pilot is a Beginner cook. For me, I’d say my skill set is Advanced. I can slice, dice, shave, spiralize, bake, cook, fry, steam, roast, grill, shuck, etc. I can make tomato roses, stacked level cakes, frittatas, prepare a traditional Thanksgiving dinner by myself, y’all. Recognize the skillz, yo. That’s right. Skillz. With a “Z.”) Below is based on our personal experience and is of my sole opinion.

It Starts…

groupon

Pilot and I are a couple on a limited budget. I was diddling around on Groupon, which I tend to do a lot. I was surprised to see a Groupon allowing the user 3 deliveries at a discounted price.

I had 2 coworkers who had standing BA deliveries and sang its praises over and over. I was skeptical, as Pilot and I like to eat. (Like to eat = eat more than 1 portion of food per person. As in 2.) Week after week, I’d watch as food was delivered to work before we close. This was surprising since I work in a school and our building closes at 3 pm. As in, no deliveries are made, no one can enter the building, the campus is basically sealed at 3 pm. I was impressed at the consistent delivery times and that the box was light enough for many to carry. I will say that one coworker who is 5’3 and weighs probably half of what I do could lift the box. I could lift it easily. I may be larger, but I’m “farm strong.”

I was a bit put off by the price ($55-65 per week!), but was reminded that the food is supposedly mostly prepped, the convenience of delivery and no headaches at the grocery store, and the preparation of ingredients being already portioned out with complete written and visual photographic instructions. With us both being in education, working full time, and me still expanding my global novel-writing network for world domination (mwahaha!) plan, eliminating an additional 1+ hour to my day to drive around and get groceries was tempting. Really, deliciously, joyfully tempting.

I can’t tell you how much I hate going to the grocery store. Most people are in a hurry, the parking is always atrocious with pedestrians and cars fighting for their right to exist between each other, and wayward shopping carts lurking around, waiting to ding the body of my beloved Cranberry. (For those who don’t know, I call my car “The Cranberry.”)

As I eyed that Groupon with the hunger of a thousand soldiers, and a dream in my heart of being grocery store-experience-free, I clicked on it and signed Pilot and I up for our adventure. To be fair, I probably shouldn’t have been looking at it before eating dinner.

Website (Ease of Use, Making Adjustments)

After completing the purchase on Groupon, I went to the BA website. It was simple, clean, efficient, and intuitive. I have to give BA some serious mad props for making their website user friendly.

There are two choices of meals: 2 meals per week, 3 meals per week. And, there are 2 options for deliveries. 2 portions per meal (single/couples), or 4 portions for meal (“family” sized). I went with the 2 portions choice. The websites shows you what your upcoming deliveries will contain. 1 delivery = 1 week’s worth of deliveries.

The website has you choose what proteins your prefer, or vegetarian. There are no real other questions such as dietary restrictions (dairy-free, diabetic/low-no-carb, gluten-free), so be aware of that.

A plus, is there are several tutorial videos that are also available on YouTube to assist those who have never cooked before.

Delivery

BA - Delivery

This is where it gets weird.

I don’t remember upon initial signup if the website had me select the time of delivery, or if BA dictates it on its own. All I know is that despite the ease of interface use, the website will not let you change the general time you’d prefer of delivery. This is a problem.

I live in an apartment building where anything left on your doorstep is free reign of people coming to steal what’s there. Also, our leasing office closes by 6. So, if a delivery is made, it’s taken to our leasing office, and hope that you pick it up in time before it closes. That is more of a personal problem in relation to Pilot and my schedule. BA allows you to leave notes. We have a cabinet that “hides” things from our neighbors. We asked that if delivery was made to our door, to please place the box in our cabinet. We specified in the note that our area has a high theft rate. The cabinet would be large enough to hold the package, and keep the box from view. We also noted that we have dogs who get excitable if someone knocks or rings the bell, and to please give us time to put our dogs away after knocking/ringing the bell.

Here’s the thing… BA allows you to track your box. I could see that it was in Bellingham, WA and making its way to our home 1.5 hrs away. I was notified the package had left Bellingham around 8:30am.

Unlike my coworkers whose deliveries showed up at around 2:30pm consistently each week, our first delivery showed up at 8:30pm (12 HOURS LATER) and delivered it to our door. Keep in mind, Bellingham is not that far away from us. How did 1.5 hours turn into 12 hours? If they had other deliveries, I understand, but even our standard USPS delivery to our apartment comes by at 11am each day. The messenger knocked on the door, dumped off the box on the porch and left. To be fair, it’s via USPS, not a special BA delivery. Not in the cabinet, not to our hands, even though we called out, “Just a moment!” Nope. Dumped on the ground.

Second delivery went to our landlord at 5:45pm, I didn’t receive the notification until 6:30pm that it had been delivered, and I didn’t get to the leasing office in time. It was closed and we had to pick up the box the next afternoon. Luckily, the food was still cold, but I’ll get to packaging later.

Third delivery was at 7:30 pm, back on our porch. Not in the cabinet.

Inconsistent, didn’t follow instructions, and quite the hassle. I spent much of each day worrying about the status of my box. And yes, I know how that sounds.

Packaging

BA - Packaging

There has been much controversy over the packaging of products for BA. And I can understand the frustration. In Washington, we’re conscientious of our Earth and believe in recycling and biodegradable packaging. I will say that although the packaging is recyclable, it’s not easily recyclable. BA offers to recycle the packaging for you, but you have to mail it back in. As someone who does my best to watch my carbon footprint, it was disconcerting that I’d have to deal with finding a method of mailing everything back to BA, plus all of the transportation costs and damage that transporting via truck would do.

One of the most surprising things about the packaging was BA’s determination of what would receive packaging, and what wouldn’t. The image above is an example. Note the lemons and potato, wild and free. Then, note the carrot, trapped and suffocating. The single. Lone. Carrot. In a sealed bag. You’re not dreaming, it truly is not peeled, sliced, shaved, julienned, or anything. It’s raw and unpeeled. A single carrot in a sealed bag.

I don’t know about you, but this makes no sense to me.

All of the products are sealed in a silvery bubble bag that keeps it insulated. In the base of the box, are 2 large flat rectangular ice packs that separate the protein(s) from the rest of the products. The protein(s) are sandwiched between these ice packs. I am grateful for the ice packs. They kept the protein and veggies at a safe temperature for 24 hours, although I was nervous about using the proteins for it.

BA - Meat

The packaging is recyclable, and luckily our apartment complex has recycling bins. If you don’t recycle, the BA process of sending back packaging doesn’t inspire recycling to me. And I want to inspire you to recycle. Help a planet out, bro.

Quality of Food

Food quality was good… if you do it right. The packaged greens would spoil quickly if you waited. I would suggest airing out the greens and placing them in a bag with paper towels to keep the humidity high, but not rot the veggies faster.

The products are of good quality. Having said that…

Cooking (Ease of Instructions, Prep Time/Work)

BA - Person Reading

So, let’s get to the cooking shall we?

When spending $55-65 dollars per week for a “prepackaged” set of meals, I was surprised at the “rawness” of the food. I was hoping this method of food preparation would be a time saver. Instead, I was surprised at the amount of prep work each meal required. Washing, peeling, chopping, slicing, shaving, etc. Also, since many dishes were new to me, it took longer to make sure that I was following instructions correctly.

If you count the prep and chopping time of produce, discarding the packaging, and timing the dishes to complete on time, I was in the kitchen far longer than on an average night. I am a slow cooker fanatic. This process reminded me why.

I was spending far more time in the kitchen than I wanted to on a work night. For the price, I would’ve hoped the produce would’ve been fully prepped already. I was looking for “throw together,” not “cook from scratch.” I think this can be a misconception about their products.

Also, nearly every single instruction started out with “add 2 tbsp of olive oil / salt.” Even advanced cooks know that although thoroughly seasoning is important, even these instructions were heavy handed with the salt. The first week I found my food drowning in olive oil. You don’t have to follow the instructions verbatim, and should adjust to your needs… but you would think a professional cooking service would know when to season and when it’s beyond what’s needed. For a business that advertises being “fresh and healthy,” this contradicted their motto.

Flavor and Portions

Food Pyramid

Flavor gets 5 stars from me. The recipes are unique ranging from tangy, to spicy, to savory, to rich and decadent, to light and fresh. The variation in origins of food did open up my world to more ingredients… however, not all of the ingredients provided by BA are ingredients easily found at my local grocery store. No offense, but Whole Foods is way beyond our price range.

I looked forward to BA being able to mix up our daily food selections, but I found the recipes to be so exotic that not all ingredients would be easily found on weekly/monthly basis without visiting multiple stores. I think that’s where the convenience of delivery is strong… but the recipes fall short.

Portions are a completely different ball game. As mentioned earlier, Pilot and I selected the 2-person meals plan for 3 meals per week. For our stomach’s sake, we should’ve sprung for the “Family Size” portions. But, that requires more money, and we frankly couldn’t afford that. After cooking each meal (again, sometimes spending upwards to 1.25 hours in the kitchen), we’d finish our meal, look at each other and go, “Okay, that was a great snack. Now what do you want for dinner?” Sometimes I’d cook 2 BA meals in 1 evening, (even more time in the kitchen) to satisfy our hunger.

Remember the Lone Carrot? Yeah, keep that in mind when cooking for 2 people. There are no leftovers.

I repeat: There are no leftovers.

Price – Is it worth it? Meh.

After the Groupon expired, I’ll admit, I kept with it. Pilot and I stuck with BA for THREE MONTHS. I’d say that should be considered giving it a solid try. Did I want more food? Yes. Did I want to pay an addition $10-15 each week for more food that I’d still probably be hungry for, and only provided dinner 3/7 nights? No.

I’ve made dinners that have lasted 4 nights over for less per week than BA cost, and without the anxiety over the delivery. Do I hate the grocery store? Yes. Do I like having groceries ready in my kitchen when I want them? Yes. I am willing to sacrifice time once per week (we have a small refrigerator)  to ensure I can make home cooked meals that last longer than 5 minutes? Yes.

I’ll just continue to go to the grocery store at 10pm when there’s no crowds for the rest of my life.

Pros / Cons

If you are someone on the go who wants to cook often from scratch, doesn’t like leftovers, (AND has access to a recycling bin), this will work for you.

If you like having leftovers to stretch out that pricey meal, this isn’t going to work.

PROS: Fresh ingredients. Exposure to new cultures and flavors. Perfectly portioned for those who don’t eat much. (Make sure you have snacks handy.) Delivery to your door is a nice feature (if the delivery service is consistent and works for your schedule, and they’re reliable messengers.)

CONS: You’re cooking from scratch. Not for busy people. Price per meal is high considering what you could plan for at the grocery store. If you have a family of 5+, they don’t make a meal plan for you. You still have to cook 4/7 nights. This is just for dinner, no other meal times.

VERDICT: Was fun for awhile, but not for me.

Have you ever tried a home delivery meal service?

Do you like Blue Apron?

Do you prefer a different service?

Do you have dietary needs, and do you feel services like these meet your needs?

Shared Post: The Writing Garnet

I want to thank The Writing Garnet for this blog post. Even though someone doesn’t “look sick,” doesn’t mean they aren’t.

Start of Shared Post:

A few weeks ago on social media, someone I know was discussing a moment which truly knocked them for six; a moment where ignorance became arrogance and invisible illnesses meant having to prove yourself to people. The a few of the comments which appeared underneath their post made me feel sick and a bit upset, I couldn’t […]

via #InvisibleIllness VS #VisibleIllness. How REAL is real ENOUGH? #chronicpain #mentalhealth — The Writing Garnet

Traveling the Path to Publication – Also Known as Editing Hell

books

Hello Precious Readers!

I know, it’s been months since I’ve contacted you. Thank you for continuing to subscribe, or pop by to read my words, as randomly placed here on WordPress as they are. Your patronage is humbling and makes me feel a little bit better about myself each day. (Ha ha.) And, lucky you, that’s a great thing! Look at the new style! Enjoying the new digs? I am. I thought the previous motif was good, but a little too serious for my style. Style is important, whether formal/traditional, goofy/whimsical, or airy/uplifting. I went with goofy/whimsical with a touch of airy/uplifting. What do you think?

There has been a lot of work occurring behind the scenes. Hopefully my lack of social interaction with you via blog should show how diligently I’ve been working towards my goal of becoming published and succeeding… TWICE! I’ve now crossed the threshold into a new group of people … Authors published multiple times over!

That’s right! Trifecta Publishing House liked my work so much they contracted me for 3 BOOKS TOTAL for the “Roxy Summers Mystery Series.” That means more great books for you! Even better, last week I sent in my manuscript for CRUSH ON YOU, A Roxy Summers Mystery #2!  Yes, it’s a direct sequel, but it’s a standalone book. You do not need to read Book 1: CAPTURE ME to understand Book 2… although it helps a LOT.

If you’re a follower on Facebook and Twitter, you know that there’s a LOT of activity over there! And, why wouldn’t you? Check out Facebook and join my FB group: Katherine Bacher’s Happy Hour. There’s a LOT of funny memes and articles to share.

Life is funny. (Understatement of the year.) Immediately after making my announcement to family and friends that I’d signed my first book contract, I was greeted with a surprising amount of people immediately asking me, “How did you get published? [I, my friend, my sister, my cousin’s brother’s uncle, etc.] has been writing for years, but is constantly getting rejected/doesn’t know where to start!

I want you to know that my path of publication is an uncommon occurrence. I’m not a better writer than you. My story isn’t better than yours. I write in my corner of our bedroom/office, inside of my messy home, while the buzzer alerts me that I need to transfer my freshly washed laundry into the dryer. I’m just a former suburbanite who now lives in a semi-ghetto apartment in the Pacific Northwest who wrote my story, and submitted it to the publisher that I thought would best fit my genre and style of writing.

I’m not going to deny that I think my stories are good. I worked hard on them. I’m proud of them. I literally gave blood, sweat, and tears over my books. I firmly believe in the entertainment value of my stories and and believe they are worthy of sharing with the masses. There is a foundation level of self-confidence (or a friend/family member) required to send in your manuscript for open criticism.

 

Ready To Get Published

That being said, and I don’t know if I’ve written this here before, but I’ve lived by this rule:

DO YOUR RESEARCH.

That’s right… again. I’m throwing the big, angry, bolded, center-justified words at you. I’m going to write it again, in all caps: DO YOUR RESEARCH.

Writing your manuscript is not the only way you will need to prepare. I submitted my book to the right place, at the right time, with the right people, at the right time of the market. My story is one that is still considered a marketable and profitable genre of writing at this moment in time. The market may change. For now, it’s in my favor.

Submitting to the right publisher at the right time with the right genre of work can make or break you.

Submitting your work exactly to the publisher’s formatting requests can make or break you.

Make sure your manuscript is as clean and error-free as possible.

The hard truth is, many publishing companies will not look beyond the first page if their formatting requests have not been met, or the manuscript is riddled with poor grammar, spelling, and/or punctuation.

Imagine your day is spent reading. Every minute of every hour of the business day is reading. You are not only expected to read, but to read quickly. You need to get through X amount of manuscripts per week.

Aha! A new manuscript! Yea! Wait… the font is too small for my tired eyes. It’s not double-spaced allowing me open areas to write notes. It didn’t follow the margin requirements, making it difficult to find where I last left off from reading.

This equals to: Manuscript is thrown out.

When a project is so close to home, you won’t catch everything. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best writer in the world. No matter what you do, there will be typos. I’m formally trained as an editor/journalist, but I won’t catch everything within my own Work In Progress (WIP). There are things in Book 1 I wish I had caught before it went to print, and it went through at least 4 additional editing stages after submission. And I re-wrote it 8 times before submission. Have a trusted close one (friend, family member), who won’t leak your story out to the world beforehand, or if you plan to self-publish, spend the money to hire a professional editor.

Now, let’s say you’ve followed the rules. Your manuscript is shiny and new, and POLISHED! You’ve done your research and you found it. This is the one! This is the publisher I need to be with!

Make sure the publisher is accepting your genre at the time of submission.

The publisher’s website says they are not looking to publish works of your written genre. You think: I’m going to submit my book anyway!

This equals to: Manuscript is thrown out.

This process has been a whirlwind, and I’d like to point out to fellow not-quite-yet-published-authors that the process normally doesn’t happen this way. After several discussions and advice I’ve received over the many, many years (I won’t declare exactly how many years), this piece of knowledge was drilled into my brain:

Be prepared for rejection.

Hundreds and hundreds of letters of rejection.

Then, maybe, you might get a request for the full manuscript…

Followed by another rejection.

Hundreds more of rejection letters, you might get published.

Precious Reader (and fellow writer, storyteller, scribe, etc.), this is not to discourage you. It is to bring you to reality. I have attended several conferences over the years, and received responses from authors who answered the same question I’m now being asked. “How did you get published?”

9/10 traditionally published authors will tell you they were rejected several times over before obtaining their first contract.

I’m not a special case, though my experience was highly abnormal. But, I went back to Rule #1: I did my research.

I will tell you right now, and if you’re a longtime follower of this blog, you know this already, I am not a social person. I don’t enjoy social engagements, I barely tolerate my own friends. They’re amazing, wonderful, talented, skillful, kinder than I’ll ever be, and funny people. I’m unfortunately, not great with social interaction. My self-loathing goes soul deep. That being said, I go out of my way to do the best that I am capable of at making personal connections. Personal relationships are important. Whatever your level of comfort for social interaction, it’s important to have social interaction of some kind in your life.

This includes business connections. I was fortunate enough to attend writer’s conferences and make connections with people. They’re talented writers, authors, editors, publishers, and everything else in between. Conferences are GOLD.

A few years ago, I made a connection with the fabulous Lori Lyn. A woman who rocks a wide-brimmed hat and ultra heels like like they’re water and air, unlike any other woman I’ve ever met. You know, it’s a real shame that hats have gone out of style, excluding the semi-ghetto “trucker hat” phenomenon, which I’ll never understand. I suppose I’m too old. I wish I could wear fabulous hats. Unfortunately, I have a gigantic, Charlie Brown-like, pumpkin head, which makes hats of a suitable size impossible for me. Unless it’s a beanie. But, I digress. She and I met at Emerald City Writer’s Conference in Bellevue, WA, an annual conference that is the biggest romance writer’s conference on the West Coast. We connected, I thought she was hilarious, and she actually got me to speak out loud. She handed me a business card, indicating she was starting up her own publishing company.

I held onto that card like a drowning man to a life vest.

Two years later, I finished what would turn into my first published book, CAPTURE ME. In all of that time, I kept a sharp eye on Trifecta Publishing House, to ensure that my style of writing might find a home with them. They were accepting my genre. They were accepting my style. The stars aligned. It was good planning, writing with the best of my ability, and good execution of the characters and story inside of my head.

There were still typos, but my research, time, and relationship nurturing had paid off. Which is good. Lori not only turned out to be an amazing friend and mentor over the years, but after pitching my idea to her, she was eager to read it.

Even after signing the contract, the confidence within myself was minimal. It took two author events and her telling flat out to my face that I was a good writer, that I actually started to believe it.

Some people have confidence. I have a Type-A, detail-oriented, obsess-over-every-little-thing, “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst,” type of attitude. This ended up working in my favor by careful planning, and trying my absolute best.

Could I have been rejected? ABSOLUTELY, COMPLETELY, AND HIGHLY POSSIBLE!

If I hadn’t paid attention to their submission requests, my manuscript, as wonderful and amazing as I thought and hoped it would be, might have ended up in the trash bin. (Either physical or electronic, again, depending on your publisher’s requested formatting requirements for physical or electronic copies of your WIP.)

“It’s not you, it’s me.”
“It’s just plain, ol’ bad timing.”

Perhaps the publisher is looking for your genre of writing. But, they receive such an influx and flooding of submissions, they have to cutoff somewhere. Like applying for college or trade schools. There are only so many manuscripts a publisher can do in a single year.

Maybe your work hits all of the criteria, but it’s too controversial at that point in time. We live in an amazing era and country. Free speech is an incredible freedom to have. That being said, a publisher has to take into account risk. If your work happens to be a controversial topic, or a controversial opinion about the topic, the world may not be ready for you… yet.

Sometimes biding your time and taking a socio-economical temperature check can make a world of difference between publication, and sitting in a corner while holding your manuscript and crying. And I’ve done that. With a book that will never see the light of day.

For those who have struggled, have you considered self-publishing?

One of the biggest changes in publishing history was the invention of self-publishing. A concept that isn’t new (look at Benjamin Franklin), but was never so mainstream as it has been in the last 15 years. If you had asked me 15 years ago if I’d read the work of someone who was “self-published,” and I would’ve responded with, “Huh?” For those who had heard of self-publishing at that time, it came with highly negative connotations.

American publishing used to consist of these big powerhouses all based in the New York, and what they said was the “end all, be all” of publishing. Once stigma of self-publishing wore off, there was a power shift. Now writers/authors, could get their work closer to your hot little hands.

Nowadays, many authors are what we call “hybrids.” They are traditionally published in one genre of writing, and self-published in another genre.

Imagination

Here is the simplified breakdown of my best explanation between the two:

Traditional Publishing

PROS:

Branding. You have a big brand name behind you. You will be branded and marketed across all platforms.

Exposure. With a big brand name comes the exposure of tons of readers to your book and name. Your readers have the confidence knowing the book didn’t “come from nowhere.” Your publisher will have a larger budget, dependent on your book, to market your book across all types of platforms.

Most Likely – Higher Sales. If your publisher is a big name, you will most likely get a lot of sales, quickly, compared to self-publication.

Less Cost. Publishers handle all of the costs of publication, instead of you paying straight out of pocket.

CONS:

Contracts. You need to be savvy, or know someone savvy, in legal-ese. The legal language that can make or break you. Often, traditional publishing contracts will include a “right of first refusal” for any future works you write, whether it is the same genre or different genre. It will depend on your negotiating skills, and how you foresee your own future in writing.

Your characters are no longer your own. Yes, you heard that correctly. Unless you have an incredibly giving publisher, or a crack shot of a lawyer, your characters now belong to the publisher. This includes if you pass away, break your contract, etc., the characters belong to the publisher for as long of a period your book/series is contracted for. This can be a few years, to decades, depending on the language of your contract. (Refer back to “Contracts” above.)

Little to No Control. You have little to no say about what the cover will look like, the font style, font on the front and back covers of your book, if your picture will be on the back, etc. You will have little to no control as to the pricing of your book, and little to no control of when sales occur.

I’ve heard several times over from authors traditionally published, where they’ll notice a book that has been “out there” for say, 3 years, suddenly get a spike in sales. When they ask their publisher about it, the publisher replies something along the lines of, “Oh, for 24-48 hours, your book was $0.99!” To which, the author says, “Well, that’s great, but I wish I’d known about it sooner so I could’ve told family and friends, marketed it on my blog/website/social media.” It ends up being a ‘too bad, so sad’ moment for them that they missed out on advertising their book being on sale to more potential readers.

Self-Publishing

PROS:

Full Control. The world is your oyster, just as your book all yours. From the editing, the formatting, the cover design, how it’s marketed, everything.

CONS:

Full Control. I will warn you, self-publishing is not an easy road. You must be highly business savvy to navigate the winding road of self publishing. You are in charge of all of the design, photos, graphic design skills, finding a book printer, etc. needed to produce your book. This means $$$. Each and every little thing makes me think “ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching” out of pocket. For many, this is not as affordable as they once thought.

This also means that marketing and promotion are completely in your hands. You set the price, you create and launch your own advertising, you monitor your own sales. This means if you are not someone who is highly business savvy, not a self-starter, not motivated to finish projects that you start, this may not be the path for you.

You are your biggest cheerleader. What do I mean? I mean, that you are submitting your book to the masses. I’m paraphrasing, but someone once explained it to me as this: Imagine you are ready to share your book with the world. Now, you are standing on a box with a bullhorn on a street corner, holding your book out in front of the faces of all who pass by. You are asking hard working Americans to part with their hard-earned paycheck, to dedicate 12 hours of their lives to reading your work. So what is your idea, pitch, and hook to get the passers by to part with their cash if they’ve never heard of you? Ask yourself if you’re business savvy enough to convince that person to fork over $12.99 for your book, on your sole word alone, that it’s awesome?

This is not meant to discourage you from self-publishing. It is meant to be an eye opener to how much work you will be doing. Marketing is a 24-hour job. You need confidence, strategy, a keen eye in spotting opportunities, and being a self-starter. Even with my own publisher, I get reminders to participate in contests, offer free books at conferences, Tweet at least twice a day (even though all who follow me on Twitter know that I post far more than twice a day), and to keep my Facebook profile active. Get on Goodreads. And I don’t even have to worry about a majority of the business side of things.

I am not a numbers person. I’m Asian, but I’m not that Asian. Anyone who knows me, understands that math hurts my brain.

Q: Why did you choose Traditional Publishing?

A: Well, I sort of did. I’m with what’s called a “boutique publisher,” yes, Trifecta Publishing House is a boutique publishing house. It’s a print on demand, and a smaller company. Think of it as the “mini me” of the big publishers. So, I am traditionally published, just not at the same scale as Penguin, or Random House, or its other brethren. As Trifecta Publishing House grows, (which it is definitely expanding the number of authors it is accepting at this time), it may change, but as a first-time published author, I’m enjoying being part of our growing family.

In conclusion, the world is an amazing place, and time can shift all things. Opinions and ideas are as fluid and dynamic as the people who shape them. Don’t give up hope. If you believe your work is meant for the masses.

There are many, many other ways to be published. Some use WordPress and keep blogs to post chapter by chapter for free. There are tons of websites that allow you to put your work out there. You don’t need to be published to share your work with the world. Heck, I’ve written this blog for years, long before I dreamed up Roxy Summers.

If you have your WIP and it’s almost ready to go, or you’re finished and looking for your new publishing family, or pioneering out on your own to self publish, don’t give up hope. The gal who wrote P.S. I love you, was 19 years old when she wrote that story. Some people are first-time published at the age of 65 because retirement gave them the freedom to write. I spent 30 years of my life working towards this goal. I’m older than 30, but don’t wish to share the exact number with you. But, I digress again.

For more information about different types of publishing, I recommend this article by The Future of Ink.

Good luck to you, and as always. I am in no way an expert, nor the “end all, be all” final word of how this works. But, writing is a field where your competitor is also your biggest ally. We’re a supportive bunch who love sharing our craft with others and to help stimulate creativity within your own work.

Share your publishing journey!

What were your struggles? Successes?

What’s the toughest hurdle you’ve encountered on the path to publication?

Do you have better advice?