Thursday, July 26, 2012

Don't miss it if you can!

Come to Barnes and Noble, Jefferson Ave, Newport News, VA on Saturday July 28th (the day after tomorrow) between 2 and 4 p.m. I'll be signing my new hardcover from Five Star, Death of a Second Wife. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Going first class

Airfares make no sense.
How much does it cost to fly New York to London, roundtrip, in say, December, on a major airline? I found prices from $640 to $43,000. Same dates, same airports. Okay the $43k flight does take you through Hong Kong, but nonstop flights still range from $640 to $19,000. This makes no sense.
Prices vary by date, by airline, by number of stops, and by website. But the biggest differences are between classes: Economy to First. Travellers on the same plane have paid vastly different prices. Why? Comfort.
I've heard that airlines are phasing out first class because it's a money loser. Huh? They say it's because no one actually pays these exorbitant prices. Companies make deals to fly their employees for less.
I've also heard that airlines lose money on economy seats but make up for it on first class.
Both of these cannot be true. Somebody's lying.
Sleeps on a plane
I used to wonder why anyone would pay for anything better than economy seats. That was before they started shrinking the seats and my bones got some age on them. I still, for short flights of three hours or less, think economy is perfectly okay. I'm a medium sized woman. But for long flights, I'm going for the upgrade.
Some airlines have added a new class called Economy Comfort, or something similar. I took one of these on a recent Washington to Amsterdam flight and found the extra room to be well worth the extra $165.
 Some airlines are upgrading Business Class until it's as nice as First. It's all about room, and how much your seat reclines. For overnight flights, there's nothing like a bed. I like to use Seatguru and compare. But there is a difference between "lie-flat" and "flat bed" seats. Lie flat seats do flatten out but they're still on a bit of a tilt. Flat Bed seats are better for sleeping.

Let me tell you about a perfectly wonderful Upper Class trip I took on Virgin Atlantic. VA is not paying me to say any of this. It was a splurge, but not a huge splurge. I paid a bit more than double what it would have cost me to fly Economy.
The flight attendants greeted me with a glass of champagne and I suppose I could have drunk myself blind for no charge but I didn't want to arrive hung-over. My seat was more like a little suite, with everything I could possibly need built in near my head. I had chosen the "Sleep Zone" so I wouldn't be disturbed. They gave me jammies and a place to change, a pillow and blanket of course, and a toiletries kit (which they give everyone) It was so nice I could hardly get to sleep, wanting to savor the whole experience. Nevertheless, I did doze off and arrived in London feeling ever so much better than I usually do. You can go to the fast lane for Immigration.
To freshen up before hitting the streets of London, I went to the Upper Class lounge in Heathrow, where they take charge of your luggage while you eat anything you want for breakfast, shower in a truly luxurious private room with big towels, a hairdryer, lotions, etc, and hang around until you're ready to leave. You could even get a manicure or a facial.
Totally worth it.
Advice? Start with Kayak or whatever to get an idea of the price range. Choose an airline and go to their website to book. Consider upgrading on long haul flights. And as always, don't forget to bring your sense of humor.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Like the feel of paper? Oh, really?

In the battle of ebooks vs paper, the comment I hear most often from people who like paperbacks best is, "But I like the feel of paper. You know?" This is usually accompanied by rubbing the fingers together in a "feeling" gesture.

Are you sure? You don't like the feel of paper plates, do you? How about those paper gowns you get at the doctor's office? May I suggest that it isn't really the feel of paper you like, but it's the easy answer. It avoids the real answer(s) which, in most social situations, would take entirely too long to explain. And no one really wants to hear it, anyway.

Here's my take on the real reasons some people prefer paper and the real reasons some people prefer the e-options.

1. If you leave it on the seat in the boarding area, you aren't out much.
2. You can write on the pages or even tear them out, if you want to.
3. If you enjoyed it, you can hand it to a friend with a casual, "Don't bother to return it."
4. There's no cybertrail so no one will ever know you read it.
5. You can throw it at the wall.

1. You don't have to go to the store to get it.
2. The pages don't turn yellow.
3. They're never out of stock.
4. Some of them are free and many cost much less than a paper version.
5. You can carry thousands of them in one hand.

All things considered, I have no intention of giving up any of my options. I'll still buy paperbacks, hardcovers, and ebooks.

Monday, July 2, 2012

My Bucket List. What's on yours?

In South Africa last month my five companions kept mentioning that they'd just ticked another item off their bucket list. I've never had a bucket list--not an actual list. So I decided to do one. Here's mine. I'd like to hear about yours.

Now, I'm not putting everything on this list. As I started jotting things down, I saw that they all had something to do with travel. They were all places, not events or activities. More thinking and I realized I do have achievement goals as well, but they are too personal to share. Goals like: win a Pulitzer Prize, marry Prince William, head up a Space Shuttle crew, play guitar like Eric Clapton. Oh, I said I wasn't sharing.

Here's my list:
1. Gobekli Tepe, Turkey
2. Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
3. Return to Luxor, Egypt
4. Ride the Orient Express
5. China
6. California Wine Country
7. Mount Desert Island, Maine
8. Casablanca
9. Paris (That's right. I've never been to Paris!)
10. Amazon Rain Forest

What's on yours?