Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Core is Gone





His agony started from a misprint. Devon Jensen observed the copy of his new release Art Tragedy with a glow that only an author can feel when finally seeing the book in hand after 12 months of creating and an additional period of unfathomable edits and marketing preparation. Then his eyes fell upon the typo—a flaw in his perfect, beautiful child. To most, the error would hide behind the context. It screamed at Devon, however, like a lamb being slaughtered.

            Devin.

            The name his parents gave him, botched right on the cover. His homage to Mom and Dad—look at what I did folks!—was defiled.

            How did this blunder pass through all the edits, so many eyes checking it? Devon nearly dropped his coffee cup. He steadied himself by grabbing hold of his desk. Rain pounded the window to his home office. With a vicious urge to slam his mug into the wall, he instead placed the beverage calmly on a coaster. The throbbing in his fingers seemed to be the least of his problems.

            A call to his mentor made him feel only slightly better. Jane, an eternal optimist, and successful author of fiction and non-fiction assured, “The publication process is rarely smooth, Dev. Just take a walk, cool down, drop the editor a note and ask them to change it.”

            “But what about the copies that have already been printed?”

            “They’ll become collector’s items when you’re famous.”

            A smile attempted to break his frown, but came out only half-assed. With the smart phone pressed against his ear, he heard Jane, nonetheless, persevere, “I can tell you’re grinning from that one.”

            Devon paced. “It’s just such a kick in the crotch.”

“You knew this wasn’t going to be easy. So far, you’ve had a sweet ride: Talks of the novel being optioned for film, praise from critics, connections out the wazoo. Not to minimize your disappointment, but later, you’ll see this as a tiny bump in the road.”

            “Okay. I’ll do what you said. Love you. Talk next week.”

            Then, Devon dialed his best friend Rob, a studio musician who’d seen his ups and downs. “Hey dude, you won’t believe this.” He described the fiasco.

            Rob said, “Maybe you should just be happy they didn’t spell your name D-E-V-I-L.”

            Very funny.

*

            I better have a doctor check this out. With each peck on the keyboard, white-hot pain thrashed up through the fingers on his right hand. It felt like a filthy infection caused by a grubby fishing hook, but his digits looked normal.

He accessed his email. The messages he’d sent to the reporter illuminated the screen. Three memos over five weeks sat unanswered, jolting the fire in his fingertips. The only reply was the first contact from Brian Sloan of Westerly Magazine that read: I’d love to feature your book in my column! When would be a good time?

Excited beyond belief, Devon had answered back immediately with a very open schedule. Days had turned to weeks with lack of response; sent emails became cruel reminders of groveling.

Devon switched the computer off and swore he heard a faint crackling sound in his hand. 

*

The lumps on the end of his fingers appeared when Devon tried to call the film producer. He’d tried several times over the previous week to get a hold of Joe Scott with Moonlight Pictures and kept getting the recorded message. Now, a different greeting played. This one came from the wireless network. “The person you are trying to reach is unavailable to you. Please remove this number from your contacts.”

Realizing that Scott had blocked him, Devon felt appalled only enough time for the recording to repeat. When the blisters rose on his fingers, he dropped the phone.

*

Waiting in the emergency room, Devon managed his tablet with his left hand. To his right, a pale child drooled in the arms of his mother. She rocked the kid back and forth. The boy looked to be about six and watched Devon with keen interest. Across the room, an elderly man with thick glasses patted a bandage around his leg. Blood stained the gauze. The two other patients were ahead of Devon in waiting and he was good with that. Yeah, his fingers felt like they were going to explode and every time he sat down to clack out some prose, not only did the pain deter him, the words just didn’t flow either, but he could be worse off. He wanted the boy to get attention pronto. He winked at the kiddo. The little dude scratched through his blond hair and waved back.

Devon clumsily logged into the Good Books website, to track the giveaway of Art Tragedy. Four hundred and two readers had signed up for a chance of a free copy. Probably because of the nausea he’d been feeling, he’d lost track of time and didn’t realize that a winner had been crowned. The recipient only had the book for one day, but offered a review. One star. In the remarks, this gracious winner, Sylvia McGrath wrote: I didn’t really want it. I just sign up for all the giveaways. The cover looks kind of cheesy, so I evaluated it on that.

If augers were to have drilled out of his fingers, it couldn’t have hurt worse. Fighting the urge to throw up, Devon swiped the Good Books window to the side and tapped his email. A message at the top from his agent read: Royalty Check. He opened the message, expecting a shot in the arm.

$12.03

He reread it.

Sure enough, three months of ‘the new exciting release’ yielded only enough for a fast food meal.

It sounded like someone eating with their mouth open. Devon felt a new pain at the same time. Right hand lifted to his inspection, he watched the skin caving in on his fingers. As excruciating as it was, he could only remain frozen in horror. Little beady eyed things like mosquito-sized porcupines chewed out holes where his prints used to be.

The boy who had been looking as well might have had his eyes bulge out of their sockets had his mother not fled to the other side of the room with him. She shrieked.

The porcupine things retreated back into his fingers and darkened by shadows, peeped at him like curious neighbors. No bone could be seen to speak of. Just pink chambers framed with walls of chunky white flesh and critters smirking at him. All Devon could think was: I understand now. He stood. Zero strength remained in his arm, so it fell to his side like the blob of skin that it now was. He allowed the tablet to fall and kicked it away. Then, making eye contact with the old man and the boy, he said, “I hope they get you two fixed up.” Out the door Devon strolled.

*

Other business contacts shunned Devon over the next few weeks which came as no surprise. He’d received the message loud and clear when the creatures made their presence known. It didn’t bother him so much that he’d been cursed not to write anymore. He’d accepted as much like one who comes to terms with having a disease. But as he regarded his rotting, flaccid arm and teased the prose-stealing gremlins in their burrows which were once his typing pokers, the torture was knowing he wouldn’t ever be able to explain articulately how he’d lost the ability.
And he sure the hell couldn’t write it.

By Gusto Dave Jackson
 
My thanks to the anonymous creator of that photo. I've scoured the internet to find out who it was with no luck. Whoever you are, at a time when I felt much pain, your picture inspired even more fiction which I didn't think was going to be possible.
 
Also by Gusto Dave: On a Dark Desert Highway. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OFDPIWI

 
 
"Eerie like The Shining with the allure of Fantasy Island. The novel packs a curve that will both impress and shock the reader."  -- Julie Luek, author in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Multitasking Mom’s Survival Guide
 
"Great premise!" -- Esri Allbritten, author of Chihuahua of the Baskervilles
 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Elvis in the CIA, Zombies, and Stephen King Movie Factoids - Welcome to the World of Writer Andrew Rausch

"There are questions in this book about my movies even I couldn't answer! A nice, well-researched quiz book written with obvious affection for its subject." -- Mick Garris, director of The Stand on The Stephen King Movie Quiz Book by Andrew Rausch and Ronald Riley.

Andrew Rausch first got my attention in a Facebook group led by my publisher. His novel Elvis Presley, CIA Assassin piqued my curiosity next. Then when he mentioned that it was in film production, I had to learn more about this imaginative author and was pleased to find that he has an extensive background in horror. With Halloween (my favorite time of year) creeping up, what a perfect writer to profile!

The Godfather of Gore Speaks (with prolific filmmaker Herschell Gordon Lewis*), and the screenplay for Dahmer vs. Gacy are but a couple of his credits.

With obvious savvy, Andrew optimizes his creativity to the max.

CIR: Thank you for joining us on the Rock, Andrew. What constitutes good horror in your opinion?

AR: Everything is subjective, but horror is probably the most subjective. I know adults who are terrified of The Exorcist, and then there are my kids who are not only not afraid of it, but bored by it. But I like The Exorcist a lot. I think maybe it's the parental thing—you know, that it's happening to a child—that makes that movie so frightening. That would also explain why my kids aren't afraid of it...

To me, the scariest films are the ones with story lines that could actually happen. Funny Games is the movie that scares me the most. That movie scared the living shit out of me! Another movie that really creeps me out is the original Kubrick version of The Shining. But then again, I know people who say that movie isn't scary either. It's all very subjective. One man's trash is another man's treasure, and one man's frightening film is another man's tedium.

CIR: Dahmer vs. Gacy boasts some impressive acting credits: Harland Williams (being that I fiddle with stand-up comedy, his name sprang out) and Ethan Phillips has been in tons of things! The movie introduces a unique premise to say the least. Was that your brain child?

AR: My old writing partner Chris Watson called me up one day when I was working as a manager in a video store. He said, “I've got a brilliant idea for an exploitation movie!” I said, “What is it?” And he says, “Dahmer vs. Gacy.” The original plan was to shoot the thing on the cheap for a thousand bucks or so, but we wound up selling it off to Angry Baby Monkey Productions. The final budget for the film was only about $30,000, I think, but it was so much higher than it had been written to be. Seriously, we were gonna shoot the thing with no stars on a budget of what basically amounts to a bus pass and some Kool-Aid points.

CIR: Is Elvis Presley, CIA Assassin being produced by the same talents behind Dahmer vs. Gacy?

AR: It is. Ford Austin is producing. We don't have a director yet. And Ford, who viewers will remember played Jeffrey Dahmer in Dahmer vs. Gacy, is playing Elvis. I, for one, can't wait. And like Dahmer vs. Gacy, the screenplay will be written by yours truly.

CIR: How did you slip into the indie film business?

AR: I helped my friend Chris Watson on a film about eleven or twelve years ago called Zombiegeddon. That film had a great horror movie cast (with Tom Savini as Jesus Christ!) and wound up getting picked up by Troma Video. I've since worked on a number of indie films, some good and some as terrible as you can imagine, and it's been a lot of fun. But Dahmer vs. Gacy is my favorite. When it showed up on Maxim's list of horror movies you haven't seen but need to, I almost had a heart attack. I know the reviews aren't great, but who gives a shit? How many horror movies get really good grades? Not many. And second, how many exploitation horror movies get good reviews? Next to zero. We knew what we were doing when we made that movie, and it is exactly what it was intended to be. If you get the joke, good for you; if you don't, well then, it wasn't made for you. The beauty of Dahmer vs. Gacy is that it features two known entities in its main characters that were “characters” which could be used without permission. So it already had a name recognition factor; it was like a low-budget Freddy vs. Jason in a way. And we had a great cast. It was just remarkable.

CIR: Any reads or films you’d like to recommend for the season. Please feel free to include any of yours.

AR: My favorite horror novels are I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, Pet Sematary by Stephen King, and Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. I absolutely adore all three of those novels. I also like King's early short stories. Those are great.

I might point out that I recently had my own short story collection published. It's called Death Rattles, and it's heavily influenced by King. It was published by Burning Bulb Publishing. I was rather thrilled with the blurbs I got for that one; if you look, there are blurbs by John Russo (Night of the Living Dead), H.G. Lewis (Two Thousand Maniacs!), and Lloyd Kaufman (The Toxic Avenger). It's gonna be difficult to top those. So I would say definitely pick that one up. You can get it on Kindle for 99 cents, so what do you have to lose?

CIR: What kind of frights are you working on for your next publications?

AR: I'm working on a new novel with William Vitka entitled Monsters vs. Nazis. That one's going to be published by Curiosity Quills. It imagines that the U.S. government established a secret squadron in World War II consisting of the likes of Dracula, the Wolf Man, Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein's monster, and lots of others. It's gonna be a blast. I can't wait for people to read that one.

I'm also working on an anthology for Burning Bulb Publishing entitled Rise of the Zombies: An Anthology of Zombie Terror, which will feature stories by many talented writers, including Night of the Living Dead screenwriter John Russo. The idea is that all the stories will take place in 1968 during the same time as Night of the Living Dead.

CIR: Impressive! Thanks, Andrew!

Interview by Gusto Dave

*Herschell Gordon Lewis is widely considered the father of a horror sub-genre which employed lots of ‘campy’ fun, probably best known for the movie Blood Feast.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bring On the Ghouls! Pictured (a horror short by David Sandberg)

'Tis the season to get scared. Praise to David F. Sandberg. Let's follow this guy and see to it that he makes his mark...and money...in the film industry.

video


See more of his work at http://vimeo.com/102116605

Gusto Dave

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I Love Sydney! Goodbye to the Islands.

We're delighted to once again welcome Karen Albright Lin to Chiseled in Rock for her final installment of Teaching through the Islands!

Karen consults and edits for published and yet-to-be published writers of fiction, nonfiction, and book proposals. She writes in a number of genres and conducts writing workshops in various venues, including on cruise ships.

If you missed her previous blogs regarding Teaching through the Islands, you might enjoy reading them before this installment, as she first shared her preparations in anticipation of teaching classes while on board her latest cruise, discussed some of the downsides to teaching on a cruise, introduced us to new tablemates and the private beach on Moorea, how she was bit in Bora Bora, and then she described her first class while teaching en route to Fiji.  Most recently she shared: Second Lecture enRoute to Fiji: A Great Storyto Tell, Fiji but the Wrong Port!(I won’t mention it, but I will), On the Way to New Caledonia, and Don't Judge an Island by its Dogs.

----------------------

Karen Albright Lin:

We’d started in Tahiti and had cruised through Polynesia and Melanesia.  I’d taught 6 classes in three different venues, one per sea day: Writing Your Life, Have a Great Story to Tell?, Writing Short Stories and Flash, Writing Nonfiction, Screenwriting, and What Ghostwriters Do.  The cruise was coming to a close.  We were ready to face the chaos and unknowns of getting off the ship.  As a “guest entertainer,” I’d taught on Celebrity Cruise lines twice (through the Baltic ending in Southampton and down the east coast of Central America ending in Ft. Lauderdale) and I was always treated like a passenger when leaving. 




For this Princess cruise, ending in Australia, Wen was considered a passenger and I was considered crew.  He was scheduled to debark early morning and I after all the passengers had left.  That wouldn’t make much sense for us.  So we asked to leave later together.

Despite our debarkation time, too early for comfort, Wen and I emerged from our crew cave to stand on the moonlit deck as we glided into Sydney Harbour past its famed Opera House. 


Sadly it wasn’t lit.  We were told it was to save on energy.  This seemed a shame considering its shelled-elegance is probably the one building most associated with Australia.  I’m glad N.Y. stills lights up the statue of liberty. 


After watching the sun rise, we waited for the chance to trade in my crew badge for my passport.  Wen and I toured the underbelly world of the ship.  Cold metal floors, unadorned walls, institutional.  An anthill of activity between kitchens and hospital (where I know at least one passenger died), maintenance, safety office and crew admin, it was a different world.  Colder yet less stuffy and less put-on.  A 1,000-strong otherworld.  A place where crew members got paid, we heard, according to the going wages in their own home countries.  These “basement” inhabitants had their own ATMs, their own Internet kiosks, their own less-fancy buffet line.

When the activities office opened, I checked out, received my passport, then we walked off the ship.   I was surprised that nobody asked to see my Maritime Visa or any of my employee paperwork.  They’d made such a big deal of my work status before I left home. 

Because I’d put all our x-rayed luggage in the crew cart the night before, labeled as mine, they had been taken off the ship first and sat along the wall, quick to pick up.  We stepped out of the security building and to the taxi line ready to explore Sydney

Sydney, where there was no cover charge to choose a dance room of Pop or R&B in an upscale outdoor bar. 


Where Asians were abundant and stylishly dressed people sat in parks reading.  Where they were good-day-mate-polite, and made passion fruit ice cream.


Where goods were expensive, “no worries” meant you’re welcome, “the lot” meant all of it, and “pissing” is what we call rain.  The aborigines were short, beaming beautiful, and sported delightful tightly curled hair. 


Australia, where kangaroo meat is tough and stringy but emu is tender and tasty.  Sydney with the purposeful energy of N.Y. City but the relaxed and friendly nature of San Francisco.  It wasn’t overcrowded, yet it was teaming with activity: free history and modern museums,


a botanical garden in which tagged ibises foraged under multi-rooted fig trees,


the governor’s palatial residence, 


and the old town flanked by the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the world’s largest steel arch bridge.  I’m not a big city girl, but I could live in Sydney

It wasn’t quite the end of our trip; we still had Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef to discover.  But the “work” part of my trip, teaching on the Sea Princess, was now molding itself in my memory, my bucket list one strand of the world shorter. 


------------------

Karen, thank you so much for sharing what you learned and experienced while teaching through the islands!  You can learn more about Karen on her website.





Wednesday, September 17, 2014

That’s Amore..Jennifer Morey That Is


 

 

Ah, romance. Fall is about to cool the air and I don’t know about you, but I find it breath-taking to fall in love in autumn. So, what better topic to kick off the month in which the leaves will start blazing than with talk of romance novels and the infatuation with writing? Jennifer Morey is an authority on both. An accomplished author with Harlequin, she gets to do what she loves for a living and rightly so.

Her latest novel One Secret Night releases this month. It just so happens that the main character’s name is…wait for it… Autumn.

After stumbling into the cross fire of a black ops mission, Autumn Ivy is saved by a dark sexy hero and swept away for a night to remember. Weeks later, she discovers her secret love is soon to be a secret daddy, but what’s more shocking is when Autumn tracks her mystery man right into the path of a killer.

CIR: Thanks for joining us on the Rock, Jennifer. I have to start with congratulations on your recent move to full-time author, a gig all of us writers dream of. It came with a lot of hard work I’m sure. Did you have a strategy/business plan starting out?

JM: Oh, heavens, no. The Universe had to give me a shove, as in, out the door. It’s never an easy decision to quit a dependable income source. And I’m a lousy decision maker if it isn’t fiction. I was a corporate junky for the aerospace industry. My job dealt with fascinating and challenging tasks, but never gave me chocolates and roses the way writing does. So when the demand for my position waned, it was a natural transition.

I’ve gone from having to struggle to fit in writing to having all day every day to write. There was really no strategy other than making an impulsive decision to give it a shot. I was fortunate enough to have enough saved to get me by until I can write a few stories and get them sold. So the only plan that applies here is to jump off the ship and swim for land. I don’t plan on drowning before I get there.

CIR: Were there any rejections that you felt were ‘crushing’ and how did you get over it? (I recently weathered one that still has me sucking wind, LOL).

JM: I could wallpaper my office two or three times with all of the rejection letters I’ve received. I learned early on not to let them bother me. Sure, it’s disappointing when you get them, especially when you think of all the time you spent on the proposal, but sometimes they come with comments, and sometimes those comments are constructive. It’s best to find the positive in them if you can. And always strive to write better. So, I guess the way I get over them is I get right back to work and try to write better.

CIR: One of my favorite romance authors is Jennifer Crusie. She started with the big H then moved on to epic yarns, some that I think could be romantic comedies on the screen. Do you have aspirations to write longer pieces?

JM: Yes. I have a single title that I have almost finished. It is a paranormal murder mystery that I plan to sell in the near future. Want to know what it’s about? A woman is murdered by a serial killer in the late 1800s and begins to haunt an agnostic when another serial killer surfaces in current time. I’ve had such fun with this story. Now to find the right editor who agrees!
 
CIR: You are clearly very thankful to be in your occupation. What was your former career and was it all that bad?

JM: No, not bad at all. In fact, I liked my job. I was an export control manager for a satellite imaging company. Spacecraft are considered munitions by our government and listed on the United States Munitions List just like armored combat ground vehicles or night vision equipment. Anything listed on the USML is controlled by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). All exports relating to them, including any technology, has to be licensed by the Department of State. Those licenses come with a host of other compliance requirements that have to be managed. That was my job. It was satisfying to me and quite challenging given the complicated nature of the regulations, so most of the time I didn’t mind doing it. What I did mind was the corporate politics. That, and the most important thing of all, the time it took away from writing.  

CIR: With Rock interviews, we pride ourselves in asking bizarre questions. What actor/star never before published do you think would write an interesting fiction manuscript?

JM: Hmmm...

Kathy Bates. She’s funny, serious, and has a respectable reputation. She’s a class act.

CIR: Thanks, Jennifer. We wish you continued success with your series.
 
Interview conducted by Gusto Dave

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Don’t Judge an Island by its Dogs

We're delighted to again welcome Karen Albright Lin to Chiseled in Rock!

Karen consults and edits for published and yet-to-be published writers of fiction, nonfiction, and book proposals. She writes in a number of genres and conducts writing workshops in various venues, including on cruise ships.

If you missed her previous blogs regarding Teaching through the Islands, you might enjoy reading them before this installment, as she first shared her preparations in anticipation of teaching classes while on board her latest cruise, discussed some of the downsides to teaching on a cruise, introduced us to new tablemates and the private beach on Moorea, how she was bit in Bora Bora, and then she described her first class while teaching en route to Fiji.  Most recently she shared: Second Lecture enRoute to Fiji: A Great Storyto Tell, Fiji but the Wrong Port! (I won’t mention it, but I will), and On the Way to New Caledonia.

------------------

Karen Albright Lin:

Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora had roaming feral mutts, each seemingly related to the other with a hodgepodge of genes, eaters of sidewalk scraps, more like dingoes than dogs, survivors.


American Samoa (like New Caledonia) had purebred, leashed jewels, pride dogs, naïve and smiling.  They suggested wealth, but there were two distinct classes on this island.  Simpler-life, brown-skinned locals preferred to keep the tourists far from their special spots—like a waterfall they alluded to but didn’t put on the map.  We shared with locals and tourists a rickety, wood-lined bus up the coast to a map recommendation, Tisa’s Barefoot Bar.  




  

At the edge of the untouched rainforest that covers 90% of the islands, Tisa’s was an outdoor Jimmy Buffet cocoon of weathered wood situated on a rocky cove, a perfect spot for Wen to snorkel while I sat on the overlook deck.  I kept an eye on his snorkel, wrote, watched people, and had a Tisa-invented cocktail.

Tisa was a cross between Diana Ross and Whitney Houston, quite stunning, fluent English.  I paid $11.00 American cash for a small dose of pineapple rum in a mystery mix with no coconut involved. 

Tisa and I chatted.  She was a character worth ten pages of notes.  She had run for mayor unsuccessfully, loved L.A. and was sole proprietor of the bar.  She believed she had a story worth writing, but hadn’t picked up a pen.  I ordered the local beer, in a large bottle and hops-bitter at the end.  My writer-self numbed while I drank, checking and rechecking Wen as he snorkeled farther from our spot.  When I couldn’t see him, my writer imagination went wild with worry.  Wen’s from an island.  But I was born and raised in the Midwest and find the ocean mysterious and somewhat dangerous.  Funny I should end up teaching on cruises.


One of the generic mutts rubbed against a bar patron, nobody’s fool.  Snacks dropped.  I watched it all, felt it all, through writer’s eyes.  Over this trip I filled a spiral notebook.  I also kept maps and the daily reports on where we were and what was offered on the ship.


I closed my eyes against the warm sun and thought back to the American Samoan lecture we attended.  Jill, the destination speaker, was author of children’s and middle grade books about Australian history.  We speakers get discounted access to the internet, and Jill admitted to us that she’d gone online the night before to collect her information and put together her presentation about American Samoa.

Her talk was entitled WHERE BOYS WILL BE GIRLS.  Her lecture paid excessive attention to the fact that transgender or transvestite men are well-accepted in American Samoan Society.  They dance in dresses alongside women.  They are great wives because they are also strong. 

The amount of time Jill spent on this subject told me she either thought it would grab the crowd and keep it in her clutches, that it was the most interesting thing she discovered in her research, or that she was shocked by or obsessed with it.  A lesson to me as a speaker – be aware of how you distribute your time on specific areas of your topic.  Too much on one point can either bore your attendees or make them wonder about your preoccupation.  As when writing fiction, trust your audience.  Assume they get it the first time, don’t over explain.

Attention back on my beer and bill: Tisa tried to charge me a second time for the first cocktail as if I’d be unable to figure it out after that huge beer.  I pointed out her mistake.  It was on her face, trick exposed.  She tucked tail between legs.  Her deception left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, bitterer than the local hops.  Wen surfaced and paid a 5$ fee for snorkeling—a fee not disclosed up front.
 

But it was made worth it by the blue starfish Wen had pulled out long enough to photograph.  We caught another cobbled-together bus back to port, leaving a remarkable tree sculpture, the various dog breeds, and bitter hops behind us.  
 


---------------------

Thank you, Karen!  Please join us on September 24, 2014 for "I Love Sydney! Goodbye to the Islands," her final installment in this series.






Wednesday, August 27, 2014

On the Way to New Caledonia – Teaching Through the Islands

We're delighted to again welcome Karen Albright Lin to Chiseled in Rock!

Karen consults and edits for published and yet-to-be published writers of fiction, nonfiction, and book proposals. She writes in a number of genres and conducts writing workshops in various venues, including on cruise ships.

If you missed her previous blogs regarding Teaching through the Islands, you might enjoy reading them before this installment, as she first shared her preparations in anticipation of teaching classes while on board her latest cruise, discussed some of the downsides to teaching on a cruise, introduced us to new tablemates and the private beach on Moorea, how she was bit in Bora Bora, and then she described her first class while teaching en route to Fiji.  Most recently she shared: Second Lecture en Route to Fiji:A Great Story to Tell, and Fiji but the Wrong Port! (I won’t mention it, but I will.)

-----------------------------------------------


For the fourth lecture, I had the pleasure of teaching my student groupies in the Wheelhouse Bar.  I was getting to know some of them by name.  It was only 1:15 in the afternoon and nobody ordered from the bar.  Maybe they wanted to stay sober enough to handle their pens.  Quite a few attendees took notes.  Still, I suspect most were there out of curiosity this time rather than following up on a personal writing plan.  I was teaching about screenwriting and the business.


 My Power Point for this one is particularly fun since I use dramatic movie posters.




Before I left on the cruise, I got the nod to do this from an attorney.  Always be sure you have the rights to use an image or information taken directly from someone else.  I took my attorney correspondence along with me, just in case.

There wasn’t another lecture in the Wheelhouse after mine so I stayed behind for 20 minutes answering questions, and passing out handouts and my business cards.  After I changed out of my jacket and into shorts, Wen and I enjoyed the most beautiful sushi buffet we’d ever seen. 




Wen tried again to play the Western style mahjong and found it very odd – new tiles and a different way of winning and scoring.  He still managed to win twice.  That night’s comedian was a flop; he specialized in fart jokes and playing the harmonica.  It didn’t strike a chord with the crowd.  The ocean continued to rock and roll until we made our way to Noumea, New Caledonia, which brags the second longest barrier reef in the world.

Captains stay out of all decisions about cruise entertainment.  But Captain Perra, from Italy, must have known I was part of the crew for this leg of the trip; he offered a cordial “hi” and a smile when he poked out of his hidey hole across from our crew cabin or when we bumped into him in the crew hall.

From the port we boarded shuttle busses from the gangway heading away from the dock.  New Caledonia is clean and felt a lot like Nice or Cannes.  French signs on the stores reminded me that my French grows rustier over the years. 






Someone suggested we go to duck island marine reserve for snorkeling.  So we took a $15 round trip glass bottom boat out.  It was cold and windy.  I stayed on the beach only steps from an object lesson—a rag-sculpted man with trash on a leash.  

Wen snorkeled and spotted some large grouper despite the murky water.  My mouth watered.  I love grouper!  Locals fished down the beach a few hundred yards.  We weren’t equipped.  And we doubted we’d be allowed to take fish to shore to eat.

Back on board, dinner was smart casual followed by cruise entertainers bringing the British invasion to life in the big theater. 



The nightly delivery of the Princess Patter suggested cruise guests fill out a survey about their time on the ship.  I’d been told by my cruise broker that I’m not allowed to fill one out.  I suppose they worry I’d stuff the box with votes for the writer as numero uno entertainer!  J    In fact, according to my broker, not hearing anything about my “performance” means all went well.  While on board, I rely on the activities director and attendees to let me know how things have gone.  The AV helper had one piece of advice: when there’s an entertainer following me, give him an extra 10 minutes to set up for the next person.  So my lectures were cut down to 45 minutes.  He was then a happy sailor.

-----------------------------

Thank you again, Karen!

Please join us on September 10th for the next installment in this series: Don't Judge an Island by its Dogs.