Saturday, May 31, 2014

What if -- or Just in case . . .

What would you do if one of your loved ones was suddenly admitted to an Intensive Care Unit? Even folks with medical backgrounds don’t always know who is who and what is what in an ICU. Regardless of the kind of unit, generally, they all operate under similar rules and policies.

But, what if you need extra help – of whatever kind – and don’t know who to ask?
What do all those people do, anyway? Why are there so many people in there? Are they all necessary?

For the last year or so I’ve been writing in this space about the Regency period and Regency novels as Hetty St. James. But the real me is Kelly Ferjutz, and it’s in that guise that I’d like to tell you about the latest book of which I am a part.  I am fortunate to live in Cleveland (by choice!) where we have nationally-ranked hospitals. The Cleveland Clinic may be the best known of these, and perhaps ten or so years ago, the Clinic (as it’s known here in town) formed its own publishing company, with an expansive program of books to be co-authored by one (or more) of their physicians and a free-lance writer.

I was fortunate enough to be selected to work with a bright young man – J. Javier Provencio, a neurologist and intensive care specialist. We were to collaborate on a book about Intensive Care Units. Neither of us had a real clue as to what we wanted to do, or just how to approach the topic, which is much like an iceberg – 90% of it and what it does is mostly unknown or understood by non-medical personnel.

Javier took me on a tour of several of these units, and left me with so many unanswered questions, I hardly knew where to start finding answers. I made notes and by the time of our next meeting, two weeks later, I had a list of things to which I would want answers.

I remembered when my Mom was in the hospital for the final time – in an ICU, as it happens, and I knew nothing, and they weren’t going to tell me anything, either. I was the only child, but she had married again, and so, her husband was the only one they really wanted to talk to. He was about as talkative as a rock, so I finally pitched enough tantrums to get some answers, even if they weren’t exactly the ones I wanted.  Five days after Mama died, my 11-year-old daughter ended up in an ICU with a ruptured appendix that had been untreated for several days. Kris nearly died, as well. However, being young and strong and stubborn, she refused to die, and set about proving the doctors all wrong. But that’s another story.

Still, these two episodes made a strong impression on me, and a few years later when I ended up in an ICU, Kris was there to badger the medical staff into telling her what was going on.  Once they assured her I was probably not going to die, she settled down – somewhat – and became a fabulous advocate for me. No one ever had a more staunch supporter than I had in my daughter.  This last episode was in 1978. It might as well have been during the Flintstones’ era compared to the units Javier demonstrated to me in 2006.

Patiently, he explained the process and we worked out an outline of what we wanted our book to be. First and foremost, although the medical portions HAD to be accurate, we weren’t writing for medical personnel. We wanted our book to be a guidebook for the family of the patient – a non-medical family who would have no good idea what was happening or why, or by whom?  And so, over the next 18 months, we devised our book, with which we were well-pleased. We made a final version of the manuscript to be submitted to the Press.

A week later, the Press was closed down, and a week or so after that, it was sold to a small but well-known publisher in New York. They kept the ms. for about a year, finally deciding that although it was well-done, it wouldn’t fit in their catalogue, so they were returning it to us, with best wishes.

Over the next four years, that happened again. Twice. Two different publishers agreed it was a well-done book, but they didn’t think they’d be able to sell it, so, with regrets, they were returning it.

I had been in favor of publishing it ourselves through Amazon’s CreateSpace and Kindle, and this time around Javier agreed with me, and we are pleased to announce that our book is now available to hopefully answer the myriad questions any family member might have when faced with an Intensive Care Unit.

Since we started the book, Javier and his wife have added a third child to their family. The charming picture at the top of the cover was a collaborative effort by the three of them!

Currently, the book is available as a Kindle e-book, ($4.99) and by (or before) June 15, will also be available in print for $9.99.

We now also have a web-site -- without content, but any day now, it will be live: www.intensivecareguidebook.com    In the meantime, you may send either of us an e-mail to:  intensivecareguidebook@gmail.com 

Of course, the hope is that you'll never need to have this information, but just in case . . . 

Best regards, 

Kelly Ferjutz    and J. Javier Provencio, MD

Friday, May 30, 2014

Reinventing Yourself

So, hi again. Allow me to reintroduce myself. I'm a HS TA to (rabbit) farm worker to waitress/bartender to rock band roadie to college TA to vet tech to bookstore manager to insurance call center CSR to dog groomer + wife & mother + avid fantasy & romance reader = fantasy romance author....and dog groomer. Nice to meet you. And you are?

Everyone has taken a different road from where you were (a kid) to where you are now (an adult if you're reading this blog, unless you lied to Google). How many times have you reinvented yourself? What's your life's road map look like?

This past month I've been out of town in dog grooming academy. I graduate today, and move on to a 100-dog apprenticeship to become certified. An apprentice at my age...*cough cough* Left my poor husband to cope with two teenagers, three cats, a dog, a horse (who had a medical emergency a week ago) and a fish. Also a birthday slumber party, three school concerts, two Conservatory concerts, a field trip and a HS graduation that my son had to attend even though he's still just a sophomore. I got to stay with a complete stranger who was young enough to be my daughter in a hotel that DOESN'T have a free breakfast and listen to my instructor diss Chow Chows for 4 weeks (I have a Chow Chow and I think they're amazing). We had such scintillating conversations about whether cut Springer or Schnauzer hair prickles worse and why Goldendoodles will never become an official recognized breed and why Scotties are the one dog you NEVER want to have bite you (their teeth are oversized and they bite with more force than a Rottweiler). This chick who's always been all thumbs can now line brush and pin brush and do body contours and hand scissor with the best of them...the newbies, that is. I learned that if your clipper blade falls apart while you're cleaning it (I broke it in half and sent one piece flying across the room) it's not the end of the world but if you drop your thinners it IS. Plastic clipper combs cut longer than metal clipper combs marked as the exact same length. (Still can't figure that one out.) And Petsmart grooming smocks' plastic zippers melt into nonfunctionality in really hot commercial dryers. *sigh*

It's all experience, and is worth it's weight in gold to a writer. We're told to write what we know, so it stands to reason the more we know the more we have to write about. Whether the good, the bad or the ugly - it's all shaped who we are, how we view the world, what we think of ourselves and what we have to contribute to any given conversation. If we lived under a rock and never saw and did anything - how boring would THAT be? Every change is terrifying and invigorating as we challenge ourselves to become more than we were and teach ourselves that we can be more than we were. Courage is facing the fears and making a change into an opportunity.

As a writer I love to dissect characters in books and movies. I watched Serenity last night (I'm a huge Firefly fan) and Capt. Malcom Reynolds (played by Nathan Fillian lately of Castle fame) is a prime example. Rancher to soldier (on the losing side of a war) to pirate? Now there's a rough life journey that would definitely color your world view! Or take Eragon, which I watched just before Serenity. Eragon was a simple farm boy turned dragon rider turned freedom fighter. He grew up in a hurry!

The best stories are the ones in which characters grow and change, become more than they ever thought they'd be and risk themselves to make their worlds better places. The people writing those stories can do so because they've gone through similar emotions during radical life changes. Career changes. Family changes. Personal drama that may or may not make 48 Hours or Judge Judy. Writers mine stuff like that to provide stories people can relate to. Characters can be your best friend...or frienemy. They can make you appreciate where you are and what you've got. No one has the same exact journey, but we all share human emotions and what sociologists call the human experience.

Take a look back at where you've been and what you've gone through, think about how you've grown...and maybe where you want to be. Don't overlook an opportunity...take a chance on a new adventure. You'll never know if it's better than what you currently have unless you go go for it. And things that don't work out are always learning experiences. Embrace and enjoy your life, in all it's weirdness and inconvenience and craziness. It's truly unique, yours alone.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Clock is Ticking! Only Hours Left To Enter Your Bid & Save the World!

There are only a few days felt to bid on items in the Brenda Novak Auction. All the proceeds of this fundraiser will go to benefit the Diabetes Research Institute, which is doing some phenomenal work. So many people's lives are affected by this terrible disease--it's one of our deadliest. 

Because this cause is so important to me, I would like to encourage you to check out my donation. The detail follow. But if you don’t bid on my basket, I encourage you to bid on something. There are amazing offerings from all sorts of folks, including authors and others who want to fight this scourge. Please visit today and peruse the offerings.

Most auctions end Saturday, May 31st!

Sabrina York Tryst Island Basket featuring:

Signed copies of the first 5 Tryst Island books (erotic contemporary romance)
A limited edition Tryst island T-Shirt
Signature Seattle chocolates
And a Tiara


Fall in Love on Tryst Island
When a group of friends share a vacation house, wild hijinks, unexpected hook-ups and steamy sex ensue. And true love. Did I mention they all find true love?
If you’re new to the series, check out the Tryst Island Trailer or download Sabrina’s free teaser book at sabrinayork.com to read blurbs and excerpts for this popular series. Each book in the series is a stand-alone story.

Book 1: Rebound
Kristi Cross has had the hots for her friend, Cameron Jackson as long as she can remember, but she knows she’s not his type. She’s nothing like the women he dates. So when he suggests they play for a kiss over a game of Hearts, Kristi can’t resist. Even if she loses, she wins. Because she’s finally going to taste him.
Of course, one kiss can quickly become something altogether steamier, especially when both parties are on the rebound…
Amazon Erotic Romance #1 Bestseller May 2013
2014 RONE Award Finalist

Book 2: Dragonfly Kisses
Dylan Deveney has no interest in a wild fling. He simply wants a quiet place where he can try to forget a painful past and, barring that, drink himself to death. But when he catches a glimpse of his exquisite neighbor—in the buff—his passion for life reignites.
Cassie French can’t resist Dylan’s allure. From his scruffy beard to his earring to his intriguing dragonfly tattoo, she’s crazy about him. And sex between them is scorching. Everything seems perfect…until a tragedy from Dylan’s past threatens to ruin everything.

Book 3: Smoking Holt
Bella Cross has had a thing for Holt Lamm since college, but his scorching dominant energy scares her to death. And his list of conquests annoys her. But when Holt catches her smoking, and offers her something else to fixate on—if only for a night—she simply cannot resist.

Book 4: Heart of Ash
When Emily Donahue sets eyes on Ash Bristol, she is convinced he’s the one she’d been waiting for, her Prince Charming. But wealthy playboy Ash Bristol’ has been burned. He’s sworn off relationships, vowing to have nothing more than a series of steamy one night stands. So when he meets Emily, the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen, he resolves to seduce her, possess her…and walk away.
The passion that ignites between them has him questioning his decision. He begins to suspect he just tossed away the best thing that’s ever happened to him…and vows to win her back.
Can he survive the erotic punishment she—and her friends— devise?

Book 5: Devlin’s Dare
Devlin Fox has always been a player. A horny bee flitting from flower to flower. He has no idea why the sexy minx he meets on the way to Tryst Island affects him the way she does. Arousal—for her—hits him like a fist to the gut and he can’t stop thinking about her.
But Tara Romano doesn’t “do” commitments. For good reason. When she proposes they be “friends with benefits,” Devlin can’t figure out why the idea annoys him so much. It should be the perfect scenario. A gorgeous, alluring woman who only wants him for his body… He wants, needs, more from Tara, so he hits upon a plan to turn their no-strings-fling into something lasting. A series of tantalizing dares—dares Tara cannot resist.

About Sabrina York
Her Royal Hotness, Sabrina York is the award winning author of over 20 hot, humorous stories for smart and sexy readers. Her titles range from sweet & sexy erotic romance to scorching BDSM. Connect with her on twitter @sabrina_york, on Facebook or on Pintrest. Check out Sabrina’s books and read an excerpt on Amazon or wherever e-books are sold. Visit her webpage at www.sabrinayork.com to check out her books, excerpts and contests. Free Teaser Book: http://sabrinayork.com/home-2/sabrina-yorks-teaser-book/ And don’t forget to enter to win the royal tiara!

Follow my blog for juicy updates: http://feeds.feedburner.com/SabrinaYork  
Enter to win a signed print copy of Book 1 in the Tryst Island Series, Rebound: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17706507-rebound

Like my Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/sabrinayork
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Check out my Barnes & Noble Author page: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/sabrina-york

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Need a nibble of my new cherry? LADY VARNEY'S RISQUE BUSINESS out now! YUM!

You stay hungry for my cherries, don't you?
Yes. I know.
Here is a nibble of my newest, a re-release of LADY VARNEY's RISQUE BUSINESS! If you read it before, it has changed only in a few lines and a fab new cover!
Kitty stiffened her backbone, but felt no stronger than a floundering mackerel. How she took the circular staircase down to her drawing room was a mystery, given her knees of jelly.
“Buck up, Puss,” she chastised herself. She pulled open the double doors herself rather than call her butler and crowd the occasion with unnecessary others. She needed to look upon Justin Belmont at this particular moment alone.
And oh, my. Yes. To realize that the newly dubbed Viscount Belmont, American-born, Englishman by blood, nobleman now by adoption and the entail, was even more devastatingly handsome than a decade ago when the world seemed fresh and full of positive possibilities.
“My Lord Belmont.” Kitty sailed toward him where he stood before her fireplace, her expression, she hoped, one of civility. My lord, how can you shake my sanity so easily with that harsh look? That painful curiosity in your hazel eyes?
Here before her stood the man who had saved her from lascivious Frenchmen more than a decade ago. Huge and imposing as Satan then, he was now more muscular, his face more angular, his hair more raven against skin more pale. In clothes that were better tailored and more form-fitting than the loose linen shirts that once had flowed to his fingertips, he was now the epitome of a titled English gentleman. He gave no hint of the American privateer who had captured her body with his boldness, her mind with his intellect and her heart with his artless charm.
She walked forward, her gaze up at his imperial height, her hand out for him to take.
He touched her fingertips, his own cold as the grave. “Lady Varney. Kind of you to receive me.”
You don’t sound as though you think me kind. You sound…dismayed, appalled, even—dear god—disgusted that you are here.
“Please, my lord, do sit with me.” She nodded to one settee, and as he complied, she took the one facing him. His eyes, such a myriad of earthen colors, faceted in the lamplight of late afternoon. They flowed over her hair, her lips, her breasts, her fingers. Everywhere his gaze touched, her body pulsed, remembering how once he had looked at her with desire. Not this…this indifference. That sparked her to lie with her next words, “I am delighted you have come to see me.”
He did not even breathe as he said, “Are you now?”
“Of course,” she countered his challenge, but stayed true to her manners by adding, “I have heard of your recent good fortune.”
He cocked a long black brow. “When the news is published in the scandal sheets as well as the social notes, nothing in London is a secret.”
She licked her lower lip. “Very little.”
“But this service of yours,” he said with measured tone as he circled a hand in the air to denote her business, “this is a tidbit only the men of the ton share with each other.”
She hastened to agree. “Those who need help have found my—”
“Assistance? That is what you call your match-making, am I correct?” One corner of his mouth tipped up and she could not say if the move denoted humor or ruefulness. “Whatever your services, I need them.”
His directness had her fighting for a response.
“I hear you pride yourself on your knowledge of human nature,” he prodded her.
She lifted her chin. “Or to be exact, the nature of men.”
He barked in laughter. “If you knew that, dearest woman, you and I would not be sitting here.”
Should she show him the door? She bristled and sought to hold her ground, reprimand him, if she could. “You asked for this appointment, my lord.”
“It seemed the only way to see you,” he shot back.
“Perhaps I am mistaken, but I was under the impression that you requested a Sunday afternoon appointment because—”
“Because since my newfound status as a peer of the realm was announced in September, you have not invited me to any of your dinner parties.”
“Forgive me, but you really wished an invitation to dinner?” Incredulous at that conclusion, she felt a thrill sweep up her spine that he might indeed not seek a wife. “I—I am only recently out of my year of mourning for my husband, Justin, and those who may dine at my table with me do not include bachelors.”
“Especially bachelors whom you once knew? Ah, the rules of this blasted society!” He leaned forward, his gaze at once tender and yearning. “Kitty—”
“Please, sir, I am still Lady Varney to you.”
“You never were that to me. Besides, you just called me Justin.” His eyes twinkled.
“I did not!”
“Of course, you did.” He sat back, crossed one long leg over the other and seemed too well satisfied with himself to soothe her ruffled senses.
“We are here to discuss business,” she insisted with a hauteur that had him narrowing his gaze on her.
It was not a kindly glance, either, but the fierce glare he’d worn so long ago as he climbed over the sides of the French Cyr to rescue her from those bastards.
He blinked. Drew back and appraised her.
Good. At least we are now on firm footing. Two equals about to do business. Not two older people who had cared passionately for each other in their youth.
She tipped her head when he remained silent. “Please tell me what you wish.”
He set his jaw, never having cared for anyone to give him orders. “As you know, I am to inherit the Earl of Belmont’s titles and estates. He is ailing. Sadly, I might add. I have come to care for my uncle deeply in the past six years. When I first set foot in England eleven years ago, I must say I had no idea he and I would ever get on. But we did. Do. Save for one issue.”
Kitty nodded, knowing precisely the matter that divided them. Touchy subject though it was, she went on boldly, because that was her wont, because it was her business to be forthright and because she knew this man very well. Or once had. “He wants you to marry.”
Justin seemed to retreat even further into himself. His jaw firmed. His lips thinned. His large eyes turned to glittering stones. “He wishes me to marry an heiress with title, high social standing and a suitable dowry. To put a fine point on it, he wants the perfect woman.”
“The earl thinks appropriately. His titles are six hundred years old and his estates are numerous and bring in a sizeable sum each year.”
Justin snorted. “My uncle was right about you.”
Kitty felt what would come next would not be a compliment. “How so?”
“He declares there is not much you do not know about the peers of the realm, their income or their need for propriety.”
“To learn the genealogies of the famous one hundred families was a favorite pastime for a lonely little girl.”
His features softened to a genuine compassion that made her heart ache. “You were alone as a child?”
She swallowed, not wishing to remember her youth. “I do have one sister, younger by ten years. But our parents were preoccupied with society. Hence, the house was often cold and dark. But the library was a wonderful room, warm and full of enchanting tales. Not all of them were fiction.”
His mouth spread wide in a grin and her memory of how those lips felt on her own was one she told herself could not be so fresh after more than a decade. Yet, it was.
She tipped her head, unable to suppress a smile. “Please tell me about the kind of woman you wish me to seek for you.”
“Ah. Yes.” He scowled, his glittering eyes hard as glass. “First, she must be lovely.”
“Of course.” No less for such a striking man. Besides, a plain woman would be intimidated by a husband who was so damned handsome.
“Blonde?” Hair color was often listed by a man, but not usually this early in the discussion.
She shifted. That specific? “I see.”
“She must be a peer in her own right.”
Kitty knit her brows, recalling how her own  barony of writ  had been the lure to Henry. “Why is this important?”
“Her own blue-blood complements my lack. Since I was born on the wrong side of the blanket, a lady in deed secures my own legitimacy.”
Kitty’s mind was racing. How many single golden-haired ladies who were titled in their own right could she count? Four? Five?
“It also enhances the reputation of any of my offspring.”
“True. I had not thought of that.”
Looking innocent as a cherub, he lifted a palm. “You see my logic.”
“Certainly.” Dear god, a taskmaster. “What else might I add to her qualifications?” A huge dowry? That’s what the ton says the old Earl demands of you.
“She must be shorter than I. Talented at the piano forte. A good conversationalist.”
“Really, how interesting.” Her gaze wandered to her own French piano. She frowned and noted, “Most men would have asked that she be a wizard at cards.”
He chuckled.
 “Most bachelors,” she ventured, “want to ensure they keep their money in the family.”
“Oh, never doubt, my dear Kitty, that I have other requirements perhaps more astonishing than not caring about my future wife’s ability at the card table.”
Oh, my.  This was the point at which many men told her they wanted peculiar qualities in their spouse. She hadn’t expected any oddities from Justin. Would she be disillusioned as well as surprised? And even more jealous? “Do tell me what they are.”
“I want someone versed in the art of conjugal bliss.”
Was she gaping at him? “I’m sorry. I supposed, I mean, I presumed—”
“You thought I wanted a virgin?”
“I did. Most men do.”
“Not I.”
Why ever not?” Was that her own shrill voice?
A grin flashed over his features. “I also want someone who has had a child.”
“A—?” Kitty blinked, clearing her impression of this man who now seemed suddenly so calculating. “Pardon me?”
“I need an heir. I need to be assured that the woman I marry can conceive and carry a child to term, birth him well and rear him. This means she must be of good constitution. After all, I will need not one child but at least two. Preferably three.”
Kitty could not believe her ears at his extraordinary list, but nodded and went on with the topic. “Raised by her, of course.”
“I want no fainting lily. No frail Bess. And no parade of nurses and governesses.”
“But surely, you need one,” she babbled, “ of each.”
“Of course. One governess. One nurse. And one loving mother.”
“I see.” Kitty began to have a warm feeling in the pit of her stomach that signaled either rage or a headache. Stress like this reminded her of verbal sparing with Henry who thankfully had gone to his Maker. The cure for that had been for her to run to her garden. Prune her roses. Trim her yews. At the moment, she could do neither, but deal with Justin and his demands. “You are being very specific.”
“I am.”
“Almost too much so.”
“Why do you say that?”
She rose to her feet, the sensation of standing so quickly made her head light. Airy. Euphoria had her swaying. So unexpected was this feeling that she walked toward the fireplace and put a steadying hand to the mantel. “Let me recount your requirements.”
He nodded as he sat in his chair, looking so infernally regal and congenial that she wanted to gather the fine lapels of his frockcoat in her fists and shake him. “Proceed.”
“You want a young woman, an heiress with wealth—”
He raised a hand to make her pause. “She need not be young. Too young and she is not useful to me as a wife who can bear children.”
“Quite. Shall we say that you want a seasoned woman? Yes?”
He nodded. “Go on.”
“Blonde. Golden-haired, specifically. Shorter than you, so then she must be five-feet-four or five inches tall. Good at the piano, in the assembly hall and the ballroom. Versed in the bedroom. A woman who has already borne a child and who wishes to bear more. She must also enjoy the process of raising them. Anything I have missed?”
He let his gaze drift up to her cap of golden curls, then down to lock on her eyes. “That is an excellent summary.”
She braced herself for what she was now about to say. “I have made matches for men for a long time.”
“Ever since you began to emerge from mourning for your husband.”
She gave Justin a small smile. Realizing he knew this about her was a delight. “Yes, and I have created some very fine marriages. Though not all of my couples have yet taken vows, those five who did, are very happy.”
Justin brushed imaginary lint from his trousers. “So I have heard.”
“But these requirements you list are unusual.”
“I am a very exacting man.”
“You are. Your friends declare it. I hear your tailor does, too. Your butler.”
“I shall have to reprimand my man for engaging in gossip,” he told her but his eyes and his lips quirked in amusement.
She tipped her head, unable to resist grinning at him and learning more. “Your butler is a good friend of my cook. They talk often.”
“To you as well, it seems.”
“My sources are legion. They help me with the work I do.” She raised her brows. “You must realize to match-make I need to know many facts about people.”
“A necessity of your occupation.” He winked at her, sending her back to days on his ship when she’d been so entranced by his charm.
She cleared her throat and returned to the subject of his visit. “Your list limits me severely.”
“I am aware of that.”
“There are few women who possess all the qualifications.”
He rose and came to stand before her.
So close now, she breathed his cologne. Smelled the mint on his breath. Admired the dimple in his left cheek and the facets of green and brown in his large heavy-lidded eyes. “In fact, there are only three women who meet all of your requirements.”
“Ah. But wait, you have not heard them all.”
“No? Preposterous! There is a very small pool of possible candidates, Justin. To add more requirements would be burdensome—”
“But my fortune will be very large. My homes, here and in the country, are grand estates. I will be married to this woman for many decades, and I need the best companion possible.” He frowned, very determined looking. “I have the right to declare to whom I shall be joined!”
“Precisely so, my lord, but we must be prudent.”
“You be prudent! I shall be as I am!”
His virulence shocked her.
“Your fees are high. I shall have whom I want! Who is best suited to me.” He strode closer and seized her arms, his powerful body dwarfing hers. Once his might had been comforting, but now, full of fury, his size made her wince. She had been intimidated by her husband far too often and she would not be by any man ever again.
She stiffened her spine. “Tell me your other requirements.”
“She must spend twenty-four hours with me at Belmont Manor.”
“Oh, I see.” She let out a breath, relieved. “You want her to visit.”
“No, I want her in my bed.”
Kitty blinked. “I...I’m sorry. You want her—?”
“Naked. I want to learn if she likes men. Me, to be exact.”
Out now at Amazon          Nook  and soon on KOBO, ARe and iTunes
     An author acclaimed for her eloquence and scintillating tales of romance and suspense, Cerise DeLand writes historical and contemporary novels with spice and charm.
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Twitter: @CeriseDeLand

Monday, May 26, 2014

Travel Torments

I'm thankful to be safely arrived in London and for the luxury of having an entire month to explore places I've never had time for before, but I have to say…air travel today seems to be going further and further downhill.

It doesn't have to be. Just a week ago I returned from the RT Convention in New Orleans and was so comfortable I slept nearly the whole trip. And I remember my London trip via Delta last year was reasonably comfortable. In both cases, I had a window seat and leaned against the window. Even an aisle seat wouldn't be terrible. Middle seats I avoid like the plague.

So I always book my flights months in advance and even pay extra to choose seats. But if your flight gets cancelled and you get put on another one, chances are the only seats left are the dreaded middle ones.

To make matters worse, I was suffering from a nasty cold—no doubt picked up from my neighbors at the Giant Book Signing at the RT Convention in New Orleans—and was concerned that in close quarters I might pass it on to my seatmates. 

Although I was slightly better than the day before, I still had a slight fever and a dreadful cough. I packed my carry-on carefully with lozenges and Tylenol and tissues, never once considering that I'd end up tightly packed into a middle seat, where I could barely reach into the bag, let alone try to find what I was looking for!

One of my seatmates was completely up in arms about having been rudely treated by gate agents when she arrived late for her flight to Paris and was refused entry despite the fact that the door was still open, departure time was still eight minutes away, and the plane didn't leave the gate for 25 minutes! Why did they deny her? A new rule on American Airlines: if you don't appear at the gate at least ten minutes before departure, they won't let you board. And they were really, really rude to her. As though her plane being late were her fault.

Now they must have some reason for issuing such a rule, but to say she was pissed off when she saw the flight we were on allowing people on after departure time—we were about 45 minutes late taking off—would be an understatement. She was so outraged that she was literally screaming at the flight attendants, and I could tell they were within an inch of throwing her off the plane. She finally cooled off—a little—but I must have heard the story of how this was going to ruin her entire trip at least two dozen times that night.

Headache • sore throat • coughing • almost no wiggle room at all, especially when the person in front of me reclined her seat • seatmate who wouldn't stop talking • dreadful thirst (didn't have time to stock up on water and the flight attendants only passed drinks twice = no sleep. By the time we finally touched down, I had a backache to add to the list, and as I wheeled my baggage down miles of corridors through immigration and customs, I was literally dripping with sweat from a breaking fever.

I guess what I want to say is that it appears to me that airlines's new policies are making travel more and more unpleasant for travelers. It was my decision to travel while ill, but even if I'd been able to book a comparable flight later, I wasn't going to get back the money I paid for the expensive flat in central London. Cancelation was not an option.

Flights are delayed and cancelled for a lot of reasons, and I wouldn't try to blame them for the weather hiccups, but sometimes it really is their fault. Like mechanics searching for paperwork on a dent on the plane to make sure it's an old dent and nothing new. Am I glad they are careful about things like that? Yes, of course. But such delays cause passengers to miss connections, or, as in the case of my seatmate, appear two minutes late for hers and get chewed out by testy gate agents. Oh, she gave out plenty of abuse on her part, but I'm thinking if they could treat passengers like human beings instead of cattle, it would be better for all. From my view, the employees seemed overworked and harassed and that just does not lead to good customer relations.

On the positive side, I'm settled into my London flat (see it here), recovering from my cold and the horrendous trip. Taking it easy this weekend, but Monday I intend to start my list of places to visit, and Tuesday I'm traveling down to Brighton for the day. Next week—on my birthday—I'm staying overnight at Chatsworth.

If you'd like to keep in touch with my London explorations, follow my blog Susana's Parlour below. I'll also be posting photos on Facebook and Pinterest.

Susana's Releases

Treasuring Theresa
She's a country lady. He's a London swell. They have nothing in common. Or have they?

A Twelfth Night Tale
A wounded soldier and the girl next door find peace and love amidst a backdrop of rural Christmas traditions. 

About Susana

A former teacher, Susana is finally living her dream of being a full-time writer. She loves all genres of romance, but historical—Regency in particular—is her favorite. There’s just something about dashing heroes and spunky heroines waltzing in ballrooms and driving through Hyde Park that appeals to her imagination.

In real life, Susana is a lifelong resident of northwest Ohio, although she has lived in Ecuador and studied in Spain, France and Mexico. More recently, she was able to travel around the UK and visit many of the places she’s read about for years, and it was awesome! She is a member of the Maumee Valley, Central Florida and Beau Monde chapters of Romance Writers of America.

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Susana’s Parlour (Regency Blog) • Susana’s Morning Room (Romance Blog)