Category Archives: relationship

Unlikely Truth I Learned Working At Hotels

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From my years working in the hotel industry, I’ve had some pretty bizarre, crazy, terrible and wonderful experiences. I had a guest buy me a bottle of very expensive wine because he noticed I was having a bad day. I had a couple yell at me and try to get me fired because I couldn’t give them a late check out. But over the years, I discovered a startling fact.

I’ve worked in nice luxury hotels where the lobby sparkled in dazzling whiteness. I’ve worked from dingy motels to the best of hotels. Well, maybe not really. But pretty close.

Non-hospitality experienced people don’t know the difference between a motel and hotel. So, I’ll tell you now. A hotel is luxury. A motel is affordable. Hotels come with clean rooms, pleasant staff and great breakfast. Motels come with all of that but the word ‘clean’ is loosely defined. Motel 6’s standards are way lower that of the Hilton. But people stay in motels because it’s the best they can afford.

A surprising realization hit as I was working a late shift at a motel. Poor people seemed more genuine and kind than the rich. Or was that just me? When worked at a Best Western years ago, the people who visited were always nice. They’d chat with you. Always have pleasant things to say and compliments. Sometimes you’d the grumpy ones but that’s just how customer service is. Usually I’d get guests who were staying in town for a wedding, college or some event. They were people who could afford the luxury of Best Western.

Years later I worked at a motel part time and the customers were different. The guests were usually from in-state and not hundreds of miles away. They were poor but also more giving. The conversations they held seemed more genuine. Sometimes I’d get the stinky old drunks but they’d always leave me more of a tip than the rich lady with a dog. The bums who just wanted a place to warm up for ten minutes held more of a real conversation than the soccer mom touring colleges with her daughter.

I never realized how more real bums or people living in poverty are than the ones who make $90,000 a year. When they speak to you, it’s as if you’re a friend they haven’t seen in a while and welcome gladly back. I’m not saying that the wealthy aren’t genuine or super nice. I’m not saying the wealthy are mean and nasty. When I worked at more luxurious hotels, I met plenty of awesome people who made my day special. But the contrast between those people and the guests at a motel are striking.

Review: House Of Cards Book

 

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“All members of Cabinet are referred to as Right Honorable Gentlemen. There are only three things wrong with such a title…” – Michael Dobbs, House of Cards

I must admit, like most Americans, I hadn’t heard of Michael Dobbs or his award winning book series until Netflix released their take on the trilogy starring Kevin Spacey. When I first picked up the book and opened to the very first page, I was hooked. After seeing Netflix’s House Of Cards, I was pleasantly surprised to find it different. Much of the same characters are there but with a different twist.

Unlike the TV show, the book opens with Mattie (or Zoe to those familiar with the show) and not Francis. The story is set in the UK and deals with a Chief Whip in the British government. After not receiving the deal he’d been promised by the current Prime Minister, he decides to abandon all loyalty and punish those who’d betrayed him. He blackmails the weak, manipulates those around him, uses the media and even resorts to murder. His personality is snobbery mixed with charm and several pounds of cunning intelligence. By the end, two key characters are killed off and a Prime Minister replaced with Francis himself.

If you’re thinking this might be like the TV show, you’ll be either surprised or disappointed.

Key Differences

American Politics vs. British
The British government is a whole different breed an the American establishment. If you have no idea how the British government works, you won’t need to worry because this book won’t confuse. At first, I was bit a lost but after a few chapters I found my way. In the TV show, Frank is terribly liberal but with no ideology whereas Francis is a conservative with high expectations of reward.

Mattie vs. Zoe
In the show, I thought Zoe was a bit stupid and very vane. Mattie possesses more of a conscious and stronger morals. Zoe, other on the hand, is willing to do what it takes to get what she needs. For example, using her body to manipulate Frank.

Claire Underwood vs Elizabeth
In the show, I absolutely loved Claire. I very much missed her absence in the book. Francis is married to a woman with almost the same personality and conspiratorial evilness as Claire but she doesn’t take much part in the story. It isn’t until the second book that we see more of her.

Then vs. Now
When the book was published in the 1980’s, politics and technology was different. Things vastly changed when the web connected everyone and the middle east became more a threat. In the book, the Soviet Union is mentioned whereas in the show education is a key part.

I could go on with the list but I believe most of you can see how the story varies from the show. Which of course it would. One is British and written in the 1980’s and the second is American and filmed today. I have started reading the second book and will report on it soon.

Dearest Pete

Memories and Characters

Over the length of this writing adventure that my book has taken me on, I’ve been startled to discover a character taking over the book. When I first began writing this thriller, Dana Marie was my main character. Her bold, energetic, and forever inquisitive personality leaped off the pages and demanded to be center stage. But gradually another character stepped before her and placed himself in the spotlight. Curiously enough, Dana has allowed him the spot.

Pete Watson. In many ways he hasn’t and has changed. His inner core; the goodness and honesty hasn’t changed. It’s his courage and strength that has. Before, he was the unwitting boyfriend of a villainess. He had the courage of a mouse. By the end of my book, the little mouse eventually stood up for himself but with the help of Dana. Without her help, he’d never be able to stand.

But now. Pete has changed. He is no longer the timid little mouse. He can stand on his own two feet. He’s taken the stage away from Dana without a fight or begging. She’s allowed him the attention because she knows he deserves it. After all, he is the hero. His and Dana’s friendship has expanded as well. Their relationship is stronger and has more depth that before.

I realize those reading this don’t have the faintest what I’m talking about. You haven’t read my book. You don’t know my characters. But hopefully you will.

I’ve read countless times posts and articles written by other authors about characters in their books. They mention how a smaller, lesser character came out from the shadows to be the main character. They’d talk about how surprised they were by a characters actions or true nature. When I read these things, I’d laugh. How silly writers are! Would be my exact thought. They talk about their characters as if they’re real. They make it sound like the character does the writing or telling of the story. They make it sound like they didn’t write the books themselves but the characters.

A famous writer once said, characters tell the story. Writers are only the interpreter. I never quite understood this until I saw for myself. Until I realized how true it is. When I started out with this book, I had a certain idea for it. I had a vision for how it would end up. Well, the original vision is far from what it’s turned out to be. Life seems to be exactly the same. You start off walking on one path in one direction. And mysteriously you wind up elsewhere!

It’s absolutely breathtaking seeing a story unfold before your eyes. Your story. It’s thrilling to hear your characters discussed in public. I’ve only had this a few times after my friends finished reading my manuscript. The characters in your book may be imaginary but they are real. They’re real as you and me. A good book draws you in by how human the characters feel. Your job as the writer is to make them feel real to the reader. Allow them to leap off the page. I really can’t stress how crazy this adventure of writing has been for me so far.