Category: Random

Happy New Year, everyone!

Welcome to 2017. I’m starting off the year right by guest blogging on the new year, new traditions. Read the post here, and thanks to Angela for allowing me to guest blog!


Hello everyone and hope this time of year finds everyone doing well and surviving the holiday mayhem.

Many of you know I LOVE the Irish Rock Band, The Dropkick Murphys. And while Amazing Grace live on stage is one rocking fantastic rendition of the old hymn, this latest Christmas video is better. It’s hilarious, and it begs the question – And you thought your family was weird?

Watch it here.

This past weekend, Labor Day, I attended Dragon Con. For those who don’t know, this is a HUGE sci-fi/fantasy, gaming, film, anime, writing/books, celebs, type of conference and more. While many think of it as a Star Trek convention continuation, it has morphed into much more over the years. This year was the 30th year, and the crowds grow with every passing year.

This year’s crowds were estimated at 65,000 – 70,000 people. Spread across 5 downtown Atlanta hotels: The Marriott, The Hilton, The Hyatt, The Sheraton, and the Westin. Along with the 2 Americas Mart buildings for vendors and other activities.

My first DragonCon 2 years ago was not great. I didn’t know how to navigate panels, didn’t know how to navigate the crowds, etc. This being my 2nd year and I was on 2 panels, I had a better idea of what to do and what to avoid. So here you go! My tips…


Elaine’s Survival Tips…

  1. HOTELS: Getting a room at one of the 5 main hotels is difficult; they sell out for the next year immediately following the current year conference. If you do get one, you’ll be paying a hefty fee (like $250-$350 per night, plus $30/day parking). 
    PRO of main hotels = you’re in the center of all the action, no need to drive.
    CON of main hotels = long elevator waits, large crowds, noise all night.
    TIP: Remember there are hotels up and down the public transit (MARTA) train line. I stayed at a Fairfield Inn ($80/nt) with free parking, free breakfast, and free wi-fi. This was IDEAL for my introverted, don’t-like-crowds self. I was 1 block away from a MARTA station and a 20-minute train ride from DragonCon. 
  2. BADGE: If you can do it, I’d recommend going down to the Sheraton on Thursday, the day before DragonCon starts, to pick up your badge. The lines are worse on the actual conference days, and it’s worth the trip to get your badge early. 
  3. PANELS: The DragonCon book guide states that all lines to get into panels will not begin until 1 hour prior to the actual panel start time. THEY LIE. Apparently the statement is in the literature to please the fire marshall. ALL panels form lines way ahead of time. This year, I was finally able to get into the Firefly panel I wanted to see by showing up 90 minutes early. Even at that point, I was the last person waiting “indoors” before the line began to form outside & around the block & into the parking garage. 
    TIP: Figure out which panels you must see, and show up 90-120 minutes early. Most people in line are really nice, you can chat & keep occupied until the room opens. Some panels are worth waiting in line for, others are not. Figure out which ones you’re willing to do the long wait on. Popular ones include Firefly, Star Trek, William Shatner, etc. 
  4. HYDRATE: Bring some bottled waters with you. Yes, you can find them in the hotels but the lines at vendors are long and you want something you can easily hydrate yourself with if you’re in a hurry. Same thing goes for snacks. Protein bars, granola, etc.
  5. SATURDAY: The conference runs Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. By far, Saturday is the most crowded and popular day. While many people come all 4-days and get a pass, there are locals in Atlanta who come down just for the day – and that day is Saturday. There’s the parade, costume contests, etc. 
    TIP: If you do not like crowds, avoid the Marriott – esp on Saturday! The Marriott is the “center” hotel where all costuming, celebrities, photo ops, etc. takes place. The layout is confined and it is crowded to navigate through unless you need to be there for some reason. I learned this from my first experience and it made this year much better! 
  6. BACKUP PLANS: Have a back-up plan if the panel you want to attend is either full or not worth waiting 90+ minutes in line for. If you have an hour’s break, use it to your advantage. 

Elaine’s “Best” Moments of #DragonCon2016:

  1. Best Panel – Firefly with Alan Tudyk & Adam Baldwin. They are both wonderful actors and very down to Earth. Waited 90 minutes in line & it was totally worth it.
  2. Best Hotel – The Hilton, hands down. It’s quieter than the others and there is a lower level floor with food/drink vendors, chairs and places to sit, and you actually have a chance of finding a seat. The Marriott is too busy/crowded for my taste, the Hyatt is too crowded as well. The Sheraton is great at crowd control for those long panels. The Westin, not so much. The layout isn’t conducive to long lines.
  3. Best Goofy Moment – Walking across the skybridge behind 2 pink outfits which turned out to be the creatures who sing “Mahna Mahna” from the Muppet Show. They were whistling this tune, and others joined in. By the time we were halfway across the bridge, everyone was singing and humming “Mahna Mahna” together. Pretty cool moment! 


  4. Best Fan Moment: Having a photo op & getting to meet Adam Baldwin from Firefly, The Last Ship, and other shows/movies. I was able to meet Alan Tudyk as well, but Adam Baldwin was my favorite. He was AWESOME.
    I was one of the first people in line, and I wore my Firefly t-shirt. When I approached Adam, I showed him the shirt. He smiled wide and said, “I love it!” I walked over to him and we start to smile/pose at the camera. Then one of the photo crew comes up & stops us, tells Adam that in the previewing him to check the lighting, he was showing up as “orange” in the photo. He starts joking around and saying he wouldn’t mind being orange. I chime in and say he can be our “orange Jayne” character from Firefly. He laughs, says yes, then starts going on about he can be orange, other colors, even polka-dotted. By now they have resolved the lighting issue, but Adam is still babbling. I smile, turn to him and say, “Adam, turn to the camera and smile.” He grunts, says, “Yes dear” and we take our photo. It was hilarious, he thanked me for my patience with the whole “orange” thing, and I picked up my photo and went on my way. He was very funny, laid back, not one ounce of ego – – difficult to find in someone who’s been in TV/movies these days. It was a highlight of the day. 
    I also had my photo taken with Alan Tudyk. Definitely fun, but Adam Baldwin was my absolute favorite :)  


Elaine & Adam Baldwin









Elaine & Alan Tudyk

I recently wrote a blog post about customer service, and how it can make or break a business.

Today, I’m expanding on that theme by talking about the social media platform Twitter. And how it can do the same thing as customer service: make or break your business. Perhaps not in the same dramatic rise/fall as customer service would, but every choice you make on social media can move you ahead, or leave you falling behind. Worse, leave you alienating potential customers.

Why am I ranting about Twitter, you may ask? Well, sit back and grab a cup of coffee. I’ll tell you.

Many people out there don’t understand social media. They don’t know the rules and may not use social media or the Internet that often. I get that. It’s easy to forgive someone who doesn’t use a computer much when they send an email in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. Why? Because I know they are likely not trying to scream at me (as all caps signify, according to etiquette). Rather, they just may not realize that’s what they are doing. Or they don’t know how to find the caps lock button to unselect it.

But let’s move to the next group of people. The ones who, if they took 3 seconds to THINK about what they represent, what their brand is, they would never respond in the way they do. I had an encounter today with 1 such person. On Twitter.

This was a woman who ran a company for book blog tours. Someone had retweeted her post about how she wanted to help indie authors get the word out about their books. Now, retweeting is a good thing because it allows more people to see the tweet and find out about her business, find out about her book tours that she offers, etc. 

Since I’ve had some not-so-great experiences with book blog tours in the past, I sent her a tweet and asked for an approximate number of people who visited the blogs she used in her blog tours. I wanted to make sure that the “blogs” she used for her tour promos were actually active, since many of the ones I’d been part of in the past had been inactive for years. Blogs with no traffic, no engagement, no visitors, don’t help at all for book blog tours. This is a completely valid question and until today, no one had ever had a problem with me asking it.

Now, this woman had 2 ways she could have responded to me. Unfortunately, she made the wrong choice.

Choice A – Tweet back, thank me for my interest, refer me to her website, tell me to contact her there if I had further questions. Many businesses don’t want to give information in tweet format and they prefer to refer the person to their website. No big deal. This would have been the professional response, and, had I ever needed her promo business in the future, I would have considered her. But she didn’t make Choice A, sadly. She went with Choice B. 

Choice B – She gave me a lecture in numbered points, beginning with “First of all…”

She said I should never have contacted her without following her first. Then she said she doesn’t talk pricing or answer questions about her business on Twitter and I should have known to go to her website. I was a bit stunned about being lectured, but I figured I would go follow her and then follow up on her website. I tried. She had blocked me completely so I can not see her tweets or follow her again.

This is wrong on so many levels. 
  • She blocked a potential customer whose only crime was tweeting a question to her.
  • She had a clear bad/irked attitude in her tweet, which isn’t favorable for her business.
  • She didn’t understand Twitter enough to know that some people do tweet and talk about common interests without following each other first.
  • Her words were condescending, saying things like “First of all, why don’t you follow me before you tweet to me?” and so forth. 

She had the chance to create a future customer, but she failed. With 1 tweet. With 140 characters, she made it abundantly clear she doesn’t value potential customers. And it goes without saying that not only will I never use her business, but I will tell every author friend I know to not use her. 

Think about how you respond, whether in person or on social media. It matters. 

Choose wisely. 



Hi everyone,

Hope everyone is enjoying the nice beginning of Spring with the many blooms and chirping birds. Oh, and lest I forget, one less hour of sleep due to daylight savings time. (Groan)

Today, let’s chat customer service. I want to hear the good and the bad from you. Best customer service experience? Worst?

Mine was recently with a doctor’s office. This is a doctor’s group I’ve gone to for about 20 years. The various physicians have changed over the years, but I’d say I’ve been pretty loyal. I had an appointment for a brief check-in and bloodwork this past week. My appt was 7:45 a.m. Second in line to be seen.

What happened?

Two men came in who needed prescriptions but they hadn’t been seen in a while, so they had to be seen to get their pills. Standard for a doctor’s office to insist on that, but then the staff PUT THEM AHEAD of everyone else. As in, everyone else who had made an appointment months prior. Sorry, dude, but if you wait till the last minute to fill your meds, you have to be fit into the schedule, not go before others who had early appointments. 

The result? 

I spent close to 2 hours there for what amounted to a 10-minute appointment. And, to add insult to injury, the doctor didn’t even make eye contact. She bobbed her bouncy hair as she asked, with her back to me and her face toward the computer, all the general health questions. 

I’d been through this before, but talked myself into continuing to go there because I do like some of the doctors and it’s close by. But this one day last week took the cake. And my patience with it.

I began calling other physicians, and am now changing after 20 loyal years. All because of a series of events which amounted to poor customer service. This has made me even more sensitive as a small business owner that customer service is essential

If readers contact me with an issue they have accessing my e-books or whatever problem, I respond to them. I listen to them. I do my best to resolve everything so they are happy. Too many people these days don’t do this.

To my dismay, I’ve heard several big-time business owners scoff and make fun of their customer base recently. They put comments on Facebook about how they never answer their customers’ emails because the questions are so elementary and mundane. Ahem. Well, I was one of the customers in that person’s class, and I demanded a full refund within a week. Why? Because there were repeated incidents with a lack of customer service. Had the guy actually exhibited courtesy and customer service, I would have stayed. He would have kept a customer. 

But he didn’t.

If you’re a business owner, be thoughtful and aware of your customers and their feelings. If you’re a consumer, don’t settle for crappy providers. Find someone who knows the meaning of customer service.

Tell me your stories. Good experiences? Bad?