Status: Drafting the fourth book in the PERILOUS series!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tips From a Waitress

I've learned a lot about restaurants since working as a waitress. Granted, I haven't been at it that long, but there are consistently some behaviors that IRRITATE me. And there are others that I simply didn't know about. I think it should be required that each person spend at least six months as a waiter/waitress just so they can see what it's like. I used to think $5 was an average tip. I've since learned that this is a jump-for-joy-and-cheer tip. Average tips are $3.

Since not everyone will have the opportunity to be a server, however, I'd like to pass on some of my learning. Let's also assume that everything I say refers to a good server. It's true that not all of them are (and believe me, I know this too!) But I am a good waitress. I'm always happy, attentive, keep your drinks filled, get you what you need on time, and I still have these complaints.

Second of all, you may not know it, but servers have an hourly wage of less than $3 an hour. When I got hired, I didn't think this was a big deal. I figured I'd at least make $5 off of each table, at least two tables an hour, we're doing great, right? Well... people aren't nearly so generous. Which brings me to my TIPS for you.

1) While there's no law (though there should be!), politeness dictates 15% tips for good service. If your server was exceptional, tip more! To the table of 4 with a bill of $42 that tipped me 2 bucks... there's just no excuse for that.

2) While we're on that, it's probably a good idea to tip at least a dollar for each person at the table. ESPECIALLY if those people sit in high chairs. This isn't about the total bill. This is about the amount of work your server is going to put into keeping you happy and cleaning up after you. So if you have two people and your bill is only $9, please tip more than $1. (I'm not making this up. I consistently get $1-2 tips.)

3) This is something I NEVER did before becoming a waitress, but if you get a To-Go order, tip the server! You might think they didn't do anything for you, but let me enlighten you: They answered the phone. They placed your order. They took time out from their tables to prepare your box, your condiments, your utensils. They took time out again to come to the register and ring you up when you showed up. They put your stuff in a bag, smiled and said, "Have a nice day!" A $1 tip will suffice here.

I've had nights where I only had four tables all night long. Sometimes we're slow, and I'm not the only waitress. If each of them tips me $2, well, you can do the math. Even if they tip $5, it's still not a ton of money. So if you liked your server, if they did a good job... show them your gratitude. They WILL remember it.

Good luck the next time you go out to eat!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Joplin Book Comes Together

Almost a year ago I started my Joplin book. I've been slightly surprised at how readily experts in the field share their information. I would say they are EAGER to get their information into the hands of the public.

I put together the foreword, with all the technical meteorological information concerning the Joplin tornado itself. Then I interviewed several survivors and put their stories together. The only thing I lacked was the afterword, and as it required the help of several more experts so that I could include concise information about tornado safety, I put it off. I also still needed to contact the city of Joplin itself, and both of these I figured would be easier when I had a publishing contact that I could wave around and prove my credibility.

Of course, my plans rarely go... as planned. I heard from a publishing company that would like to see the first chapter, but there's a catch: they want me to finish the book first.

So, that's what I've been doing. And you know what? The stuff I put off because I thought it would be hard hasn't been hard at all. Again, I've been pleasantly surprised by the willingness of tornado experts, professors, and forecast meteorologists in sharing their knowledge with me. Not only that, but when I contacted the city of Joplin, they provided me with a map of the tornado and a 45-page PDF with recovery information.

To top it all off, I found one more woman who I'd like to interview and include in my book.

Naturally nothing says this publishing company has to offer me a contract even after I finish the book. But I'm quite happy with how it's turning out. I'm glad they made me finish it. If they don't want it, at least I have a finished product to take elsewhere.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Courtesy Notice about Facebook

Did you know there's an "other" folder beneath your message folder?

Yesterday I got a response from someone I contacted nearly a year ago about my Joplin project. She said she just found my message in her "other" folder.  After responding to her, I decided to explore a little bit. And guess what? I have an "other" folder as well. And it had messages more than a year old in it!

Now I'm convinced people aren't ignoring me. They just don't know there's an "other" folder.

Anything exciting in your "other" folder? If we spread the word, maybe I'll hear back from some of those people!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Writer World

This week one of my writer friends, Mary Gray, invited me and my kids out to her house for a few days.

What's really neat about this is I met Mary years ago online, we went to a writer's conference across the country together, and we're still awesome friends. Honored by the invitation, I packed up the kids and drove seven hours to Mary's house.

We had an absolute blast. I'm amazed at how two people who didn't even know each other a few years ago can feel so comfortable and have so much in common. I know not all writers are alike, but many of us are. We share the same passion: writing. Many of us share the same non-passion: housework.  For Mary and I, we are also in the same stage of life with the same number of children who are almost the same age. We share the same beliefs and the same media interests. Mary's book comes out next year, and I can hardly wait to get my hands on it.

It made me grateful for the writing community and the way it brings people together. For writer's conferences and the friends I've made. For critique groups that help me grow and learn while getting to know other writers.

It's a nice world to be in!
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