August 16, 2012

Good service appreciated

My husband and I were very annoyed when the Check Engine light began staying on for long periods in our SUV, which we bought the end of last year and even after all these months has less than 25K miles on its odometer, with both occurrences happening during road trips. We purchased a warranty through the dealer, Carmax, and I brought it in for servicing. I was already unhappy when I drove over at the appointed time, for I had to wait six business days to get an appointment, and by then the light had gone out. From there it was all...well, uphill.

The young man who met me in the service area listened to my concern about the long lag time in being able to get an appointment, apologized for the delay, and assured me that if they were unable to diagnose a problem, they would not charge me the deductible.  I immediately relaxed.

After about 45 minutes (which I spent editing, of course, from the binder I'd brought with me), he reappeared and explained that the problem was one the manufacturer knew about via a bulletin to repair shops, and that the repairs would be fully covered by them as sort of an unofficial recall.  I would not even have to pay the deductible.  The service employee further explained that because it was a manufacturer issue, they would be the ones responsible for the repair, not Carmax.  I was pleasantly surprised when he said they would be happy to transport the car to the dealer they work with at no extra charge, as well as pick it up when it was ready (no small matter; the dealer they work with is in Milwaukee, a 30- to 45-minute drive from Kenosha), inform them of the diagnostic findings and follow up on the progress of the repairs on my behalf. When I consented, he said all I had to do was choose a loaner vehicle.  In ten minutes I was driving off the lot.

I have often been on the receiving end of absolutely appalling service, and the courteous, efficient manner in which my problem was treated was refreshing.  Whenever I receive bad service I always let a person of authority know about it (the manager of our local J.C. Penney never wants to see my face again), and I decided that this works both ways.  After I got home I placed a call to the general manager and commended his employee.  They are not collecting a dime from me because the responsibility lies with the manufacturer, yet they offered to transport my car and inform the dealer, rather than telling me, well, where to go.  I thought that was just wonderful.

You know what?  It felt good to give someone credit for a job well done.  I just wish I had cause to do this more often.

How about you? Have you ever complained about bad service, or praised good service? Which do you have cause to do more often?
August 13, 2012

The Happiest Days are when books are uploaded

To paraphrase a line Olivia de Havilland said in Gone With The Wind , "The happiest days are when books are uploaded."

There's that wonderful feeling of accomplishment at having completed a project.  All those marathon writing sessions are forgotten in the joy of seeing your book's page on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and the other popular retail sites, and seeing your author page get a little fuller.  So is it time to rest on your laurels?

Heck, no!

It's time to get busy on the next project.

I am now in the midst of ruthless red pen edits for the upcoming Something Real before sending it to be edited.  I'm loving what I'm seeing (even as I cross out and revise my own words), but around this time I always get those inevitable feelings of, Will I ever get this project finished?

The answer to that is, of course I will, and it'll be wonderful.  But sometimes being a writer is exhausting.  Even as I do these edits to make it as sparkling as possible for my editor, I'm also storyboarding a book I was inspired to do ever since the untimely, tragic death of Michael Jackson (so you know it's been three years) in hopes of being able to get that middle filled in (I know how the story will open and how it will end), as well as not being able to stop my thoughts from wandering off to my next, partially written, project.  It can all be a bit much.

Gone With The Wind time again.  No, not the movie, but the making of it.  Maybe it's time for me to pop in the DVD I recorded of The Making of Gone With The Wind , which I regard as my grown-up writer's version of The Little Engine That Could.  This documentary from 1989 (50 years after the film premiered) tells of the struggles producer David O. Selznick had in bringing this impossibly long novel to the screen.  This is a man who had just about each of his fingers in a different pot as he worked on several quality pictures at a time.  Writers brought out to Hollywood to whittle the 1000+ page novel down into a treatment (not even a script that early in the process) found themselves being asked to prune dialogue on other Selznick productions currently in production, like The Prisoner of Zenda and the original A Star Is Born.  Even as the postproduction process began after a lengthy shoot that included the firing of one director and a nervous breakdown of another, Selznick began to turn his attentions to the upcoming Intermezzo and Rebecca.  In other words, this man never stopped.  But somehow it all got done, and extremely well.  That is what inspires me.

So I'm going to keep plugging along.  Not only is writing what I do, but it's who I am.

As for David O. Selznick, after Rebecca was released in 1940, he closed Selznick International Pictures but continued working, writing, producing, developing projects for others.  I, on the other hand, intend to continue bringing readers good reads through Bunderful keep getting that wonderful feeling when a new book is uploaded, hopefully for many years to come. 
August 11, 2012

New (sort of) eBook!

I am pleased to be able to offer for the first time in eBook format my romantic comedy, published in print form under the title Prelude to a Kiss, now called Accidentally Yours. While much has changed since this book was originally published in the summer of 2001, the pursuit of the opposite sex has not. If you're in the market for a genuinely funny romantic comedy, this is the book for you! As always, I wish you good reading!

Amazon reader reviews from the original print version of Accidentally Yours (then called Prelude to a Kiss):

"I thought this story was just too cute, was full of wonderful writing and loaded with surprises. I thought it was a great storyline that is so true to life for some 35+ singles."
"I absolutely adored this book. I thought it was a very humorous story with a few sprinkles of surprise in it."

"Funny, funny funny."

"A wonderful romantic comedy about the perils of looking for love."

Download your copy today, and get your laugh on while watching the hero and heroine fall in love! Available at Amazon, BN, and Smashwords!

August 8, 2012

Dear Amazon

At 4:45PM on August 7, 2012, I uploaded the manuscript for my new eBook Accidentally Yours through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) with the same publication date.  I was very happy to receive an email notification from Amazon at 11:35PM saying my eBook was now ready for purchase.  I clicked on the link...

And was brought to a page with an error message saying this product did not exist.

I promptly filed an inquiry with KDP and was told it would take 24 hours for a response.  Not understanding why they would send me such a message with a broken link in the first place (building me up for a huge letdown), I decided to simply re-upload the book rather than wait 24 hours to find out what was wrong.  The email informing me that the second upload was successful came at 4:55AM on August 8th.  This time the link worked.

When I clicked through, I noticed that the publication date, which I had put in as August 7th, appeared as August 6th.  There is not much difference between the two dates; however, I found it troubling that the date had been altered from what I entered.  I sent another inquiry asking why this had been done; for there was no indication that the date would be anything other than what I requested it to be.  I stated that it made me a little uneasy...if you were going in and changing my publication dates, what else were you fiddling around with?

I was away from the computer for a few hours, and when I returned I went to see if I had a ranking.  By now I'd sold a total of 10 copies--4 more than in the morning--and had a ranking of 18,000.  But then I noticed something the top of the page, where the price should be, it now showed "No price information available."  I guess that answered my question about what else you folks were fiddling around claiming there is no price available, you have effectively removed my eBook from being sold and put the kibosh on my income.  And I have to wait at least 24 hours to get this resolved...more lost income.

I have been uploading books to KDP for three years now, and I have never had such a hassle doing so.  I'm not sure what your objective is.  Do you not want me to sell my products through your service?  Just say so.  Don't make dealing with your process such a frustrating, blood-pressure-raising experience that I won't want to use your channel anymore.  And please, please stop asking me to enroll in KDP Select.  If there's anything this experience has taught me, it is never to give anyone an exclusive to my work, because they can remove it from sale and put a halt to my income whenever the urge hits them. At least I can upload to Smashwords so my readership can get this eBook without having to wait as long as it will take for Amazon to straighten this out.

Bettye Griffin Underwood  
August 1, 2012

Balancing Act

It's nice to think of writing as a nice, orderly profession, where you simply work on one project from start to finish and then move on to the next one, but I've found that it doesn't work that way.  Most of the time I am working on two projects simultaneously.  In earlier times I would often be working on three, but I decided that limiting it to two allows for maximum focus and productivity.

Right now I am putting the finishing touches on getting a backlist title (formerly Prelude to a Kiss, now Accidentally Yours) ready for ePubbing.  I had the original paperback scanned, and I proofed it and made some improvements here and there, usually spending an hour on it a day while working on my work-in-progress.  Now that I'm done with that, I realize that adding a pivotal scene will give the story a more complete feel.  Then I need to write a new blurb (the original is the property of the original publisher and cannot be reproduced.)  The cover art is already done, so after those two things are done I can publish.

I was simultaneously working on proofreading/revising Accidentally Yours while writing my  work-in-progress, Something Real, which will be an original Bunderful Books release.  Something Real was receiving the bulk of my attention, with Accidentally Yours being relegated to an hour a day.  Something Real is essentially completed, with me inserting a few scenes here and there to assist in continuity and to fully flesh out the story, plus I'm doing pre-edits before I submit it to my editor.  Maybe it would have been ideal to send Something Real to my editor first and then work on Accidentally Yours, but two things convinced me not to shift my concentration:  1) When I realized I had just 20K words left to read over, and 2) It's never a bad idea to take a break from a project, and I've been pushing myself pretty hard on Something Real.  It was clear that Accidentally Yours is closer to being ready for publication, so I decided to take a break and divert my attentions.  I plan to have it available within the next week.

How about you?  Do you work on more than one project at a time?  How many do you divide your attentions among?