Settings for My Current Novel

I am participating in a January Instagram photo challenge and this week has been fun with finding pictures that match the daily theme. Research can spark my memory which is helpful as I work on my second memoir about working in a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies.

What is the setting of my current novel? 

This is the Victoria Dining Room at the Chateau Lake Louise. It was where my hotel life pretty much started. When I first set foot in the dining room, the sea of tables overwhelmed me. I was accustomed to the fast-paced environment of working at McDonald’s, which prepared me for the intense environment of the grand dining that could serve up to five hundred people at a time. But the golden arches didn’t prepare me for the five-star level of service I was expected to provide every time I stepped into the 6000 square foot dining room.

What I learned

I learned quickly to keep my permanent smile on and agreed the guest was always right (even when they weren’t). The guests of the Lake were paying hundreds of dollars to stay at the luxury hotel and they paid for the service.                                       I mastered the act of grinning and bearing a lot of the guests. Snapping fingers, ‘hey you’s’ and all around arrogance from the guests who didn’t care about the employees. They cared about being in one of the most beautiful places in the North American and telling their friends all about the time they vacationed at the Banff National Park. But, there were a lot more grateful guests than not. I witness a lot of memorable times as well, wedding proposals, anniversaries and celebrations in the dining room. I am very fortunate to have had these experiences and adventures. I learned how to be a better server, host, trainer, and leader from my time in the Canadian Rockies. I got my training wheels at the Lake and was prepared for the next lessons in life. Love. That’s a whole other story.

I am currently working on my second memoir about working at the Lake during the Winters. Going from serving hundreds of people a day on any given summer day, to working three nights a week for fifteen hours for a banquet was a shift I couldn’t get used to. But once I started to cross-country skiing I didn’t mind working less and taking advantage of the outdoor adventures the Lake offered. What fun!

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

How did I stumble upon my hotel life? Find out Here

Help! I’m Having Title Troubles

I’ve been writing my second memoir about working for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. I self-published my debut memoir, Behind The Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers, in September. I planned on my second memoir to be published in February of 2019. That date has been pushed a little later due to ego/writer’s block. I don’t have writer’s block per se, I’m having a little trouble organizing the material in a better way. One of the negative reviews nags at me, ‘could have used some editing’ which I did have, but I question myself and my choices of what I shared in the book. Could I have shared more? How do I make it better? How will I make the next book better? That’s key, I haven’t stopped writing, I’m ready to dive deeper. I’m ready to make my writing better.

Secondly, I am struggling with is the title of my second memoir. Can I ask for your help? Thoughts, suggestions are welcomed.

My intentions are to write a trilogy about my hotel life. The first two memoirs are about working for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. The third memoir is about working for a city hotel and then breaking away from the luxury chain hotel life into independent hotels while trying to pay attention more to my writing life.

The first memoir was always going to be Behind the Kitchen Doors. Then I added The Summers because the second one was going to be ‘Behind the Kitchen Doors ~ The Winters.’ The thought was to share stories about working in a mountain resort in the winter. The long winters were hard. Many of us were not working a lot because not many people were traveling. Yet, it was busy enough because senior servers took weeks off to travel, leaving me and other servers to work groups like Billy Graham, Mary Kay, Olympic ski teams, and what seemed like endless Christmas parties starting early November until the first week of the New Year. The winters were long atop a mountain and when I worked a ten-hour day serving a group breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the last thing I wanted to do was write. So I hit the bar and drank, which became a nightly ritual for not only myself but many servers. Some of us fell into the trap of alcohol and drugs, some of not so much. I tried to be neutral, but I also didn’t want to miss out on any parties. It was a vicious cycle. I may be getting ahead of myself now.

The title I originally had for the second memoir was:                                                           Behind the Kitchen Doors ~ The Winters, It’s simple and tells the story. Or does it?

The other titles I have been thinking about:                                                                           If You Can’t Stand the Heat                                                                                                       Get out of the Kitchen                                                                                                                 How may I help you?

_____________________________________________

What do you think? What title would grab you? What speaks to you? What makes you want to read the story of a young woman trying to survive in a resort town?

Thank you for your help. Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a sneak peek of my debut memoir, Behind The Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers, head Here ~ Thank you.

The First Week of 2019 ~ How’s it Going?

Happy New Year! How is your first week of 2019? Did you make any goals, set any intentions for this great new year filled with endless possibilities? I did. The first one was to clean out my clothes closet. I know it sounds small, but I’ve been thinking about this for months now. Every time I opened my closet doors I would think, why haven’t I worn that white shirt? I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve said this in six months. So with that thought, I wrote down in my day planner and my wall calendar on January 1, 2019 ‘ if I haven’t worn it in six months it has to go to grow.’ 

January 1st is also my birthday. This closet purge was one of my presents to myself. I told my husband what I was doing and he said, ‘can I hold the bag for you?’ he is more of a minimalist when it comes to clothing. I have a larger wardrobe due to my job and I also love my oversized sweaters and jeans. I have two black pencil skirts, eight tops, and five dresses to swap around during the week. I won’t count how many sweaters I have. I wear them all the time though, so I’m making good use of them. (That’s my rationality about my sweaters and I’m sticking to it.)                          I walked into my bedroom and knew exactly where I would start (with the white shirt I haven’t worn in almost a year), then within twenty minutes, I was done.     My husband: that was fast.                                                                                                 Me: like a band-aid, rip it off and move on.

One of my intentions is much like the band-aid analogy. Do it quickly and move on. No regrets. I started 2018 much like this when I sent the first email to my editor, there was no turning back. I was ready to share my work and now that I have self-published my first memoir, I don’t know why it took me so long. I was able to create more space for my writing. I realized I was more than my full-time job at the hotel life. I knew I had my writing life, but I wasn’t giving it the attention it fully deserved until I made that one decision. I feel the same way about my closet. Now that I have cleaned it out, I have made room for other things. I have more storage to declutter other areas of the house. What a feeling!

 

I started to sit with my next memoir. I wrote it during NaNoWriMo and it is in that rough first draft stage. My goal is to polish it for my editor by the end of January/early February and self publish by end of February/early March. Then I can move on to a new project that has been showing up from time to time in the past two years. My intentions for 2019 is to give the attention my creative life deserves. How will I do this? By working every day on the writing. By taking one action towards my writing business each day. The actions don’t have to be grandiose, but they need to be attainable and realistic. Polishing my draft is realistic and doable. Contacting my cover designer and editor. Setting a date for publication. All attainable and realistic. I am the only one who is going to write the book so I better get to it.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

 

 

 

 

 

Find out more about my debut memoir, BEHIND THE KITCHEN DOORS ~ The Summers, HERE

Christmas Memoires

Ready or not Christmas is here. It is Christmas Eve and I’m looking forward to spending time with friends and family. The holidays are a fun time of year. Also, a hectic time with the hustle and bustle of last-minute shopping, holiday parties while also trying to maintain your work and writing schedules. This week I wanted to share a few holiday memories with you. It is a bit difficult to pinpoint one event that I am fond but, but a series of Christmas memories that are put together like a snowman with coal buttons and everything!

Christmas morning started off with opening our stockings. I would jump into bed with my parents and we would open the individual wrapped smaller items that stuffed each sock. There was always a small toy to keep me entertained before the main event of the gifts. My parents would clean up and start their coffee as my attention span dwindled. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the shining wrapping paper that sparkled under the Christmas Tree.

My parents would get toys that I would entertain me, like Lego. I would get a new set of Lego’s each Christmas and my dad and I would build tall buildings as I created stories that evolved around the blue, yellow and red shiny pieces of Lego bricks. Those Christmas mornings were special. I would play all day with the creative presents. When I got a new book I would sit on the sofa and read as my parents made breakfast. My nose would be tickled from the smell of bacon as it sizzled in the pan on the stove top. We enjoyed our family of three breakfast and depending on where we were living, we would either stay home and call family that lived afar or we would get into the car and journey to aunt’s and uncles homes to spread the Christmas spirit with hugs and exchanges of food and presents.

As a young girl, I loved playing with my cousins when we were all together at my grandparents Berry’s, farmhouse. We would play cards, board games and in the snow until our parents called us in for the big turkey dinner. There may have been up to twenty of us in the house and it felt like a hundred with the amount of love and Christmas spirit that filled the home. I may not be able to vividly see the memories of the past but I feel the joy of being with the family tingle all over my skin.

My husband and I have our own traditions now. As I am part of the hospitality world, Christmas tends to be either a few days before or after December 25th. It doesn’t matter to us, as long as we are together and embracing the spirit of kindness and love. What is one of your favorite Christmas memories? Do you have new traditions? I still bake cookies every year – I love the smell of sugar cookies and the icing is half the fun!

 

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

 

 

 

NaNoWhatNow?

Whether you reached your November goals or not, the most important things that NaNoWriMo provides is writing on a daily basis. The gift that has been given to me over the years has been creating a writing habit. It’s important to carve out time for your writing life. I insist on making creativity my number one priority.

Why NaNo? I have been able to sit down and write for long periods of time for many years, however, I would get myself into a rut where I wasn’t inspired with my story any longer or I didn’t know what to do next after I came close to finishing a story. I followed my ego’s old behavior of thinking. There will be more time to work on this later. Take a break. The story isn’t going anywhere, let’s make up a new story. The ego and I had many debates over the years and sometimes I gave in and left a story unfinished.

When I found out about NaNoWriMo I was determined to finish a novel or at least hit the goal of 50,000 words. I wanted to prove to myself and shut the ego down on knowing I was able to finish a project. My first NaNo challenge I finished the story and two years later I self-published my NaNo project. Behind The Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers. What did the ego have to say? Nothing. I stepped up to the challenge and worked my way through the month of November and filled the pages with my experiences of working for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. I felt alive as I shared some of my intimate and humbling moments. Now, I can’t go back. I know how it feels to be in my truth. I know how it feels when creativity takes over, I step out-of-the-way and go with the flow. After hard work and love of what you are writing a book is created. That I call beautiful magic.

Eighty percent of success is showing up. ~Woody Allen

Now that NaNo2018 is over what is next? For me, I will keep writing. I have about 10,000 more words to fill into my next memoir. Then the editing process begins. I am focused on moving forward and seeing how this next memoir unfolds.

If you participated in NaNoWriMo this year, please share your experiences. Did you create any new writing habits? Did you write every day? What were your goals? I love to hear from you.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

 

How Does Your Memory Help Your Writing?

We are half way through NaNoWriMo and I’m feeling good about my progress. I hit the 20K mark on Saturday evening and I’m on pace for the goal of 50K by the end of November. I may go over the 50K but that’s okay, it’s all about the writing at the moment.

I am also participating in an Instagram photo challenge, NaNoMemoir, and NaNothatWriMo. Both hosts have created daily write prompts that have sparked my imagination and memory. I’m also entering the world of Instagram Stories, by using videos to introduce my latest posts. I am trying new things and having fun. On day 10 the questions asked triggered more than a memory. They sparked the pure joy of being in the moment.

Here is my post that I shared:

Day 10 #nanowrimo questions of the day:
* What smells do you remember?
* Writing block busters
💫
This picture is of my wonderful grandmother Laura Berry. I share her name as my middle name. What I have a middle name too?! I thought Ann was your middle name? Lol, I have to have fun about my name.
I remember walking into my #grandparents farm and the smell of baking pies fills my memory. Also, greasy, spattering bacon in a cast iron pan. Oh man do I ever smell these two #delicious smells as I#write.

I loved watching my grandmother dance around the kitchen creating #magic from flour, butter, apples and other yummy berries that came from their berry bushes.
I loved laying in my bed on Sunday mornings as my grandmother would start frying bacon. The smell lingered through the heat ducts and woke my nose up to get me out of bed and down to the kitchen. What a great way to wake up and spend time with family.
💫
Writing block busters: I write every day and even if it is only my morning pages I believe if I am writing every day then there is no room for a block. I may not write for one or two days due to my #hotellife commitments, but as long as I have written my morning pages, I am good to go.

I loved these two questions of the day. I could write more about my grandmother and the Berry Farm. Maybe I will start a memoir from my times on the farm. I am so #grateful for these amazing experiences to share with you.
💫
Happy writing!

What smells do you remember? Any writing block busters you can share with us? I love hearing from you all.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

Happy Thanksgiving

We are celebrating Thanksgiving this long weekend. Thanksgiving Day in Canada usually occurring on the second Monday in October, which celebrates the harvest and other blessings of the past year. Thanksgiving has been officially celebrated as an annual holiday in Canada since November 6, 1879. This year it feels a bit early but we go with the flow and celebrate!

I have worked many Thanksgiving weekends and I’ve seen and been to a lot of amazing celebrations over the years. Including my own.

Me on my grandparent’s farm

As a young girl, I loved going to my Grandparent’s Berry’s farmhouse. Especially in the fall. My senses would be sparked immediately when we walked into the kitchen and my grandmother would be puttering away baking pies while basting the turkey and mashing potatoes. In my seven-year-old eyes, I saw a  wonder-woman. Someone who could dance around the kitchen creating such magic that brought us all together at the grand dining table to enjoy the harvest of their farm. What a blessing.

When I was working in the luxury hotel in the Canadian Rockies my first Thanksgiving away from home was tough. I longed for my family. I missed the smell of the turkey lingering in the house. I wished to be sitting around in the living room watching my parents create their own magic in the kitchen.                               As I served families at the hotel I witnessed similar reactions to the food that I placed on the table. Wide-eyed and grateful for the food they were being served. A little part of me was sad for the families that choose to have someone prepare their meal instead of creating a tradition in their own homes. Then I guess I wouldn’t have a job if people didn’t take advantage of the “Thanksgiving Package” at the resort. My hotel life at the time seemed to a double edge sword.

Over the years I have been able to spend Thanksgiving with my immediate family and each time my sever year old memories are tickled. I am grateful for what I have in my life. My heart is filled with gratitude for my family and friends. This year my husband and I are spending a quiet Thanksgiving together. We are celebrating our accomplishments and goals of 2018 ~ I am so grateful for being given the talent to write and to share stories. I have written my first memoir and have self-published with the help from a dear friend. I am very blessed.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

 

 

 

 

 

Have you ever wondered what it may be like to work for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies? My debut memoir, BEHIND THE KITCHEN DOORS, shares what it is like to work and live atop a mountain.

Ebook and Print book available on AMAZON. US | CA | AU


Thank you, Wikipedia for some information needed for this blog.

For The Love of Hospitality ~ Train the Trainer

My career in hospitality was not planned however being of service is in my blood. I get overjoyed when I helped people. I tend to tear up when I get excited about assisting guests to have a great experience at the hotels I’ve worked for. My first job was working for McDonald’s and there was a rigid training program that groomed me into one of the Golden Arches employees. It was one of the best training programs I’ve been through. I expected a similar program with a luxury hotel chain and there is a great training program, I just skipped the “official” first day.

When I started my bussing job over 20 years ago I was asked to help out before my first day of working at the hotel. This became the theme of my hospitality life. I portrayed I could do anything, and I could and I can. I was good with people, I took direction well because I was scared shitless to let anyone down that helped me get the job. There was also the sense of pride and loyalty of having a job in a luxury hotel was motivation. I was chosen to be part of a team who served the rich and famous, that was pretty freaking cool. Little did I know I’d be sitting here with two decades of hotel experience, a handful of heartaches and a can-do attitude that make for a great story.

When I first started in the food & beverage world, I was trained how to be a busser, then a server, then a host. I liked the progression of my career. I actually wanted to gobble up as much information I could. I wanted to grow into a supervisory role when and if an opportunity became available. I was ready to take on the world at the age of 22! Life had another plan for me before I moved forward. Lessons to learn, to accept, to learn, to accept, and repeat. If you haven’t learned the lesson presented the first time around it will keep showing up until you get it. The universe has a way to groom us in our own life lessons. Like how to train someone.

I had to take a standardized training course through the hotel chain that many organizations use to train trainers. its called Train the Trainer. When I’m talking with other hospitality colleagues I hear a similar conversation and have heard someone say, ‘when I was in train the trainer…’ so I know the course has accomplished its standards and many service colleagues share the same techniques when training new employees. What is Train the Trainer? It comes down to three simple steps.

  1. I train you on how to do a particular task.
  2. You repeat what I have shown you.
  3. You train me now on the same task.

That’s what I remember and it has been successful in my training practices over the years. The task I chose to train someone in my class was how to fold a napkin in the bird of paradise fold. It was a great learning experience and I was able to execute my training skills when training new bussers on how to fold the different napkin patterns. I now use the same techniques when training new front desk agents. There is a lot of information to learn on the front desk and it’s comforting to know that my soft skills as a manager help new colleagues feel comfortable and confident with the task at hand.

Have you taken Train the Trainer or use similar training tools where you work? How do you train for success? I hope to hear from you. Sharing helps us grow.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

I have been blessed with being in the hotel world. I’ve gained life experiences and skills that have helped me in many situations. I am as passionate about hospitality as I am with writing. I want to share a great experience and what better way is by writing about the hotel life.

My debut memoir, BEHIND THE KITCHEN DOORS ~ The Summers, is about my experiences working for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. It was a great way to spend the summers and even better life experiences. I’ll never forget when our staff housing was evacuated because of a black bear.

Ebook and Print book available on AMAZON. US | CA | AU

Thank you for stopping by!

 

 

 

Struggling to Find Time to Work on Your Project?

 

Life is a balancing act. Especially when you are an author. I have written a lot about my life-work balance in the past. I never felt it until I self-published my first book Behind The Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers, a week ago.

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a post from one of my favorite writing communities, FireFly Creative Writing, located in Toronto, Ontario. It’s a community and business that is built on words and people who are passionate about writing. Everything writing. It’s a business model that I hope one day to create. Even a fraction of what Chris Fraser, founder of FCW has created for the writing community.

The heading of the post for the Firefly community that caught my eye: Attention non-fiction writers who are balancing work and art, we have a beautiful opportunity for you. 

I am a writer who is balancing work and art and yes I would love to know about this opportunity. I read the article and the Firefly Creative Resident Writer, Simone Makeba Dalton, was offering a mentorship, to read up to 20K of your non-fiction work, conversations, feedback and encouragement to the lucky recipients who were chosen for this program. I went as far as opening the application form, started to fill out the application. Then four weeks ago I was in full swing of my first journey of self-publishing my book. A whole another adventure that requires a lot of balancing of work, art and life.

As my indie-publishing journey began I thought about the Firefly application and thought more about how I deal with my full-time position at the hotel, maintain my loving committed relationship with my husband and writing any chance I can. I have to share how grateful I am for my life. My husband completely gets me when I’m in the writing zone. He gives me the time and space that I need to write. My hotel life provides me with time off (vacation time and days owed) when I really need to take an extra day off to write.  And the writing takes care of itself when I’m settled on the page. I also meditate a lot to make space for what is needed to do what I love. I don’t allow my job to consume as I have in the past. I am a manager and I have big responsibilities, however, I know when I need to shut the door on my hotel life and open the doors and windows to my writing life. I have to write. If I don’t write then I am not doing what I am meant to be doing. That is not fair to me or the writing.

My work life balance is a work in progress. There is no secret recipe for how to fit everything I want or many need to do. There are tools to help me through the day. I just have to remember them. That is where my to-do lists help me, even if it for three things, but those three things are big and needed to get done.                          For example, last week, the day after I published my memoir, I had to set up my author pages for Amazon, GoodReads, and BookBub. Sounds like it shouldn’t take that much time. As a first time author you can’t set up your pages until your book is published, I get that, but having to wait to be approved felt like forever. It takes time to come up with the right descriptions, my bio, what picture to choose (this was when I decided to get head-shots done when all I have are selfie’s to use for my author picture – ouch!) Then a friend shared I had #1 New Release in Travel (I’ll take it, thank you) by Amazon and I should share that on social media, then I should follow up on… and then….                                                                                       My to-do list started to grow within a blink of an eye and I felt overwhelmed. I mean I wanted to shut my laptop, walk away and hide under the covers for a few hours. There is no way I can hide now and nor do I want to. I am living my dream of being a published author.

Then on Tuesday (my “Monday”) I got up and went to work. I had to shift the focus of my writing life to go to the job that provides me with what is needed to excel in my writing life.  There is no doubt that one hand helps the other. I am so very grateful.

Yes, I want to be writing more and I have scheduled the time to write. I will say no to social engagements to sit here in my writing room and get words on the page. No one else is going to write the next book for me. I have a lot more on my plate as an indie-published author and you know what? I am having fun learning and being part of a community filled with creative people, just like me. I have found my tribe.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

 

 

 

 

 

My debut memoir, BEHIND THE KITCHEN DOORS, ~ THE SUMMERS, is available now both ebook and paperback. For more information on how I stumbled upon the hospitality life, please sign up for my NEWSLETTER ~ I’ll send you a little gift of gratitude for stopping by ~ Thank you.

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For the love of hospitality: part 1

The world of hospitality is not as simple as it may look. Serving tables, checking in people, making reservations for guests, catering a private function. They all take a lot of energy and time. The server that brings your drink and food has had training and the experiences I have had in my experience, yet it is similar to other services employees. When I started my hospitality career at McDonald’s there was an intense training program, and that helped shaped my disciplined learning of the hospitality world. The things I remember from my time at the Golden Acres:

  • Smiles are free – smile all the time.
  • If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.
  • Orders must be taken under 2 minutes (there was a little clock that started when you began a new order – talk about stressful at the age of 16)
  • The customer is always right (even when they are not).
  • Do your job right and get rewarded: aka: get promoted if you jump through the right hoops. (I didn’t have the drive to go to Mc college in Boston to learn how to grill frozen “100% beef” patties in less than three minutes)

I haven’t been inside a McDonald’s for a very long time. I do walk by a busy location in Victoria, BC and notice the employees and they are not smiling as much as I was forced to. They seem less enthusiastic about the job, it seems something has changed for the Golden Acres in the days of people moving towards more of a plant-based lifestyle. Then I recently interviewed a girl who worked at this busy location for a position at the hotel I currently work for. I asked her if McDonald’s still has a good training program and she said yes and has learned a lot about customer service. I asked her what she liked about working at McDonald’s and she shared she really likes talking to people and she likes to help people. She wants to explore hotel jobs because she has a perception that people who work in a hotel help people check into their room, housekeepers clean the room and there are people who get to talk to guests all day to help the guests have a good experience. She did her homework, and she also understands the underlying theme of being of service.

My time at McDonald’s instilled the foundation of hospitality and good work ethic, such as following policies and procedures, to multi-task, work quickly and efficiently, and how to work well with a team. This only child had to get over her shy, need-to-do-it-all on her own attitude quickly when there is a line-up of people wanting their Big-Mac combo’s, super-sized, to boot. I accepted help from shift supervisors to get not only my orders but four other cashiers. I had to communicate the end of shift duties with the rest of the team so no one did the same the job. I learned a lot and very grateful for such an opportunity. I wonder if people who currently work at McDonald’s feel the same way? My experiences lead me to a hospitality job in the Canadian Rockies at a luxury hotel that has provided me with a lifetime of friendships, career, and stories. Everything happens for a reason.

Before I started working at McDonald’s I would go to family gatherings where we would always do potlucks. Food brought us together. I would listen to my elders about how they made their entree’s or baked goods to share at any of our family events. I loved watching my aunts and mother putter around the kitchen making sure everyone was taken care of. When we visited my paternal grandmother, I loved watching her prepare meals for us. She seemed to be in a meditative state while mashing potatoes, making pie crusts, stirring whatever was on the wood stove. I could taste the love in the food. So it is no surprise my love of hospitality was no accident. I was born into hospitality. I born to be of service which is beyond serving food or checking people in. I am here to assist people to become the best version of themselves. All this from one moment, one job, one experience after the other. For this I am grateful.

I will be self-publishing my first memoir about working in a luxury hotel in the Canadain Rockies in September.

Please sign up for my Newsletter for more information and giveaways. See you there!

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…