Monday, September 26, 2011

A New Giveaway!

Right here:
Can you believe it? Another chance to win a print, signed version of The Time Baroness!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Saga Continues...or GEICO Exposed

If you haven't heard the incredible, heart-stopping tale of how we found our stolen car, click here: Now, for the truly hair-raising account of our dealings with GEICO: first of all, let me say that when we first called GEICO to report the car stolen, it was a Saturday. All we were able to do was to file the claim, not rent a replacement car, not talk to the agent or adjuster or whatever the hell they call those people, because they only work 9-5 Monday thru Friday (some of them, we later learned, only work til 4 or 4:30 and they all take long lunch breaks. Some of them don't come in til 10:00am. It's a hard life working for GEICO.) Their motto should be: "Disasters only happen during business hours."

Okay, so come Monday we supplied the police report number, got assigned our agent, the lovely and super-cranky Ms. Butler, and were able to get a rental car from Enterprise for $37 a day, though our coverage only provides for $30 a day. Then comes the moment two weeks later when we recover the stolen car, as spelled out at the above link. That too, occurred on a Saturday, so though we immediately reported it to GEICO, the car sat in the lot to which the police had it towed, with it's broken windows, the leather interior exposed to the elements, all that rainy weekend, and Monday, and Tuesday, and an entire 10 days beyond while GEICO got it together to send an inspector. Once this person finally made it over to the lot for his "inspection," he performed it from outside the fence and didn't even know, though we knew from inspecting the car ourselves when it was first in police possession, that the radio and GPS had been torn out. When we brought this up with the lovely Ms. Butler, she crossly denied the fact. She is one mean bee-awch. So much for friendly GEICO customer service.

Eventually the car got towed to the Honda dealership, somehow incurring a ticket along the way for which GEICO wants no responsibility, and then sat there for another 40 DAYS while GEICO screwed around giving estimates that were too low, sending inspectors that did not properly inspect, and taking their sweet time sending payments to cover the work. All this time, they rarely called to update us - we had to call to find out what was happening and whenever we dealt with Ms Butler, we were treated with impatience and rudeness. However, usually we had to talk to her boss or someone else in her office because she was out, or on vacation, or had left early or wasn't in yet.

Now, we're about to renew our rental car agreement beyond 60 days, not knowing if GEICO will cover it for the $30 a day, while we're already out the $420 dollars which is $7 X 60 days, and is probably not part of our $500 deductible - all because GEICO has screwed around so long and behaved so ineptly. We still don't have our car, obviously, though we could have easily had it at least two weeks ago, had GEICO been responsive, not constantly passing the buck, and paying more attention to customer service than defending their actions (Ms. Butler) and taking time off.

We used to like GEICO. Used to think they were responsive and friendly. Use to like the GEICO gecko and the cavemen, and the low premiums. Now we feel burned. And if we ever get our sweet car back, it will be with the sense that we didn't suffer enough just having our car stolen, GEICO had to compound the problem a hundred fold. Where's my English muffin with jam!?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Gorgeous Geyser Gushes GeeGaws

Gusher by Nichole Van Beek
In the wilds of Queens, a cement fountain spouts forth porcelain kittens and puppies, birdies, bowls, salt & pepper shakers, vases, and all manner of kitchy knick-knacks. It's one of the pieces in Socrates Sculpture Park's Emerging Artist Fellowship Exhibition that opened September 10th, 2011, and it was created by my friend, artist Nichole Van Beek . If you've never been to Socrates, at Broadway and Vernon Boulevard in Astoria Queens, get out there and check it out now. It's a beautiful time of year to go to an open air, free museum of cutting edge sculpture and installation art right on the East River with a spectacular view of Manhattan. There are always interesting things to see there, sometimes beautiful, sometimes hideous, sometimes completely baffling, but they inevitably spark thought or conversation. Besides that, you can bring your dog or your bike, have a picnic or just hang out and do nothing. You don't even have to look at the art. But when you do go, I urge you to note Nichole's piece, "Gusher." It's cool and fun, whimsical and energetic, very reflective of Nichole herself, a nerd-girl of the first degree. Congratulations on having a  piece on display in one of the most prestigious venues in the city, nerd-girl Nichole; you make us proud!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What's With All Those Five Star Reviews?

Yesterday I discovered a snarky 3 star review on The Time Baroness' Amazon page, and, as has been the case with the other less-than-five-stars I've received there and on Goodreads, I went into a major funk, and thought: OH MY GOD, NOW I HAVE TO REWRITE THE WHOLE BOOK. That lasted  about five minutes, and yet the review stays with me like a headache. Out of sixteen Amazon reviews, only two are less than five stars. On Goodreads, there are two out of seven. As my career moves forward, I'm sure there will be more and more of all kinds, because, let's face it, not everyone will love my book, though hopefully many will. Some people will even (gasp, god forbid!) hate it. The first time I received a lower than perfect review I assuaged my wounded ego my going to Audrey Niffeneggar's Goodreads page and checking out her reviews. She has 29,205 reviews and her overall star rating is less than four. I read through some of the reviews and some were really, really bad. I was stunned. Audrey is kind of my hero(ine) and TTW is one of my favorites of all time. So, you'd think this would prove to me that one person can love a book while another hates it and I just shouldn't be so sensitive. As a matter of fact, I think of writers like Thomas Pynchon who killed himself, ostensibly, because of his lack of faith in his work...or John Kennedy Toole, author of A Confederacy of Dunces. If your self-esteem is that wrapped up in your writing, then something is wrong.

What really irks me though, is that that this reviewer called into question my fourteen 5 stars, implying that I had gotten them by devious means. Well, let me say this, if any reader is naive enough to believe that your mother or your sister or your best friends aren't going to leave you great reviews, then they need to wake up and smell the ditto paper. The fact is, the people who love and support you want you to succeed and think you're great no matter what you write and you can't stop them from saying so. But most of my 5 stars come from people I've never met, who weren't asked to read my book, who came out of the blue and wrote great reviews because they loved my book. Period.

Notice how, that one 3-star review made me so annoyed I had to sit down and blog about it! I wish I could e-mail ol' Audrey and ask her how she feels about the abysmal reviews she's gotten. You know what? She probably doesn't care at all, because she's laughing all the way to the bank. Yet we don't write for money. We write for love...the love of the creation, the love of telling the story, the love of expression. And when all is said and done, I love The Time Baroness. I love my story. I wrote it for myself. I tried to write the best story I could because, once I decided to sell it, I wanted it to be a great product too. But it won't resonate with everyone. If it did, I guess I'd be Harper Lee. So reviewers, please keep in mind that we're not trying to trick you into buying our books. We hope you will love it and are sorry when you don't. We appreciate constructive criticism, but sorry, no matter what you say, we're not going to rewrite the whole, darn book.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Writing for a Living - Or Not

Being a full time author is the dream of many a writer. Recently, I quit a job that I'd been working at for 10 and a half years and kind of leapt into the abyss. Though my novel, The Time Baroness, wasn't yet selling enough copies to live off of, it was steadily gaining in Amazon sales each month since its release in April of 2011. I needed time to complete the second book in my series, as well as to spend time promoting The Time Baroness, connecting with readers, and networking with authors and bloggers. 
So, now that hubby's working almost full time again, I figured, it's time to devote myself wholly to my craft.Yet lo and behold, just days after I quit my job, before I had the chance to start panicking about money, I got a call from Queensborough College here in NYC asking me to teach a morning class four days a week. So, I readjusted my idea of "writing full time," and said yes. What's appealing about the job, besides the fact that I love the school and the people, is that it's an 11 week semester that ends in December, after which, several weeks later, a new one will start. It's not an endless commitment, and it will leave afternoons and a three day weekend for writing. Who could complain about that? 
Yet I do feel nervous that I won't get as much writing done as I would have without the job. On the other hand I'll pay bills, so that's good. I'd love to hear from other writers about how they manage working outside the writing field, or working within it, or only writing novels for a living. Is it the fantasy-come-true that we imagine or is it an illusion?
All the best,
Georgina Young-Ellis