Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Teaching En Route to Fiji – Sea Princess

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 four 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, and then explained how she was bit in Bora Bora!

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Karen Albright Lin:

With Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora in our wake, we sailed toward Fiji.

The May 4th Daily Patter let passengers know it was a dress-formal evening.  We’d be at sea two days heading west northwesterly through the South Pacific.  I would teach on both days.  The tease for my first class read:

1:30 pm Enrichment Lecture: Writing Your Life – Tricks and Techniques for Writing About Your Life.  With guest speaker and author Karen Lin.  Vista Lounge.  Deck 7 Aft.


I slept in then had a nice brunch before heading to the most comfy venue on the ship, the three hundred plus-seat Vista Lounge.  The first lecture on any trip is always the most nerve wracking, not knowing how the audio visual setup will work or how many people will show up.  It turned out there was an ego-stroking large screen, an efficient AV expert, and an enthusiastic crowd.  I never got an official count, but I’d estimate somewhere around 75-100 attendees, most of them ages 50+. 

I like to start with Writing Your Life because older crowds are motivated to leave a legacy.  The subject draws them in.


Teaching on three cruises in the past year, I've found the first attendees stick around for subsequent lectures.  The goal is to see the crowd grow.  So when I signed on with Princess, my offering 2-6 expanded the appeal to broader topics about writing and publishing. 

The audience was attentive and friendly.  Aussies interacted with me more than Europeans did on the Baltic Cruise.  I was mobbed after the class with questions, requests for my business card, and interest in picking up my handout.  After I got the Reader’s Digest version of a sound-man’s experience with many known musicians and his desire to write about it, I advised him as we left the theater to clear it for the next event—something about treating age spots offered by a spa employee.


Wen and I usually travel with mostly wrinkle-free clothing.  But this night being formal night, we frowned over crumpled items.  No irons were allowed in the state rooms, but use of one in the laundry room was free.  If we’d needed to wash anything, it would have cost two Australian dollars for one load.  


A gut-splitting woman from Melbourne told me there were fights over the laundry room.   One lady’s dress disappeared from the dryer only to show up on another woman later.  The thief said, “Prove it’s yours!”  The victim said, “I made the dress.”  There was no tag; it was hand sewn and one of a kind; it was hard to deny what had happened.  Imagine stealing a dress from a dryer then wearing it when the chances of being seen by the owner had to be pretty high!  It could have been stand-up material for the comedian who would later board. 

Cruises are great places to collect grist for the writing mill.  

The next day, also a sea day, I would teach Have a Great Story to Tell?  The Inside Scoop


My 50 minutes would be up against a poolside singing duo, a champagne art auction, and a bean bag toss.  I hoped to have another good turnout, that many of the same smiles would shine, that there would be even more participation and interaction.  On toward Fiji.


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Thank you, Karen!

I hope you'll join us on July 30th for the next installment in Karen's series on Teaching through the Islands: Have a Great Story to Tell?  The Inside Scoop.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Conned at a Conference: Banquets


One of the common ways I’d receive punishment as a kid—my fidgeting and curiosity landed me in lots of trouble—was liver for supper and a long lecture. Funny how I volunteered for a similar whipping as an adult and didn’t even realize it until years later.
With every conference comes a dinner of some sort, fitting as lyrics in a song. You’ve been learning and pitching hard. Time to feast. You deserve it. Typically, several meals come with the registration fee and you’re there with like-minded people. Why not usher in the night with a hearty banquet and gaiety?
Before I poke fun, keep in mind that I’m very rambunctious and was cursed with the appetite of a growing boy.
So, you join nice people at the round table with varying degrees of alcohol in their blood streams, all the way from not- a- drop to maybe-you-should-go-take-a-nap, and proceed to literally rub elbows because you have no choice being corralled so close together. Seated next to someone cute, this isn’t so bad. I always felt sorry for who had to reside next to me.
After I’d always mistakenly drink my neighbor’s water, I usually started the conversation. I like being in the white-hot spotlight.
Then the bread arrives. Unfortunately there’s no room for it so you proceed to butter a slice on your lap. This is fun while you try to carry on sophisticated conversation. “Wasn’t that an amazing workshop on characterization? I was positively…oh shoot, I just dropped margarine in my shoe.”
A standard perk with the conference dinner is an agent or editor chaperone. The idea is that maybe you can slip a pitch in for your novel while you pal around with him or her over vittles. Again, with my teenage metabolism, eating is a physical thing and I usually wind up with some scraps in my hair, so this isn’t my best arena for schmoozing.  The saving grace is: the wait staff isn’t going to bring you enough food anyway, so you might as well pick at your plate and concentrate on impressing the publishing contact.
When the salad makes its grand entrance, I always tense up. Leaves and croutons don’t play well with eating utensils. When you try to wrangle a good bite of the garden on your fork, inevitably the lettuce will make a fool of you. “Ha ha. You thought I was going in your mouth, but I like clinging to your chin better! Allow me to smear some dressing all the way down to your neck.” Thus, everyone is painfully conscientious of botanical strays and this puts a damper on your obsessively practiced elevator pitch.
Once, I was seated across from a very respectable editor. We’ll call her Beatrice. The discussion turned to authors and Alan Dean Foster’s name came up. Now, Foster is one of my key influences. If I met him, I’d be so star struck, drooling would ensue and for days thereafter I’d mumble gibberish. To Beatrice, I said, “I just love his work.”
Get this:
She actually asked me if I knew him. As if I were some hot-shot author who got to be in the company of said genius, she posed that question. Maybe I should have said, “Oh yeah, me and Al go way back. In fact he was glancing at my manuscript the other day and told me I should run it by you, but I think he’s just flattering me. Quite the charmer that ol’ Alan Dean!" But of course, I simply retreated back to my modestly. “Gosh, I just read his stuff, ma’am. It’s really… good.”
Incidentally, the next day, I pitched to Beatrice who stopped me in the middle of my vignette to inform me that she wasn’t interested. Whereas I respected her candor and understood the nature of the business, it was nonetheless a tail-between-the-legs moment for me. To this day, I can’t help but wonder if the lettuce stuck to my forehead at dinner prompted her rejection.
Back to the meal.  The waiter delivers small slices of chicken, steak, or vegetable entrees to the table. He knows what you ordered because a tiny card which claims your serving sits in front of you (and eats up all the precious real estate). It’s to your advantage that consuming just the three mouthfuls that comprise your meal passes a mere blink of time. This way, you can get back to romancing the agent or editor. You are, after all, here on business. No time for nutrition.
It’s time to hush once a speaker takes the stage. I’m grown up enough now that I can put a clamp on my cutting up, but my raging hunger will not be quieted. During pauses in the speech, my gut roars, summoning looks of disbelief. On the table next to mine, a barely touched bread basket cruelly wastes away. I consider asking the patrons, “Are you going to eat the rest of that?”
If your attention span is anything like mine, the ceremonies lose you in about five minutes. The keynote speaker graciously breathes into the microphone and everyone in the room prefers that they were up there instead—not that they don’t wish the successful author all the luck in the world. In most cases, there’s a reason why writers stick to the page. They’re not good at entertaining. But I can hear my mother berating me into sitting up straight, folding my hands across my lap, and being a good boy. I usually like the novelist who is speaking, however my low blood sugar is making me loopy and my thoughts drift like those little smudges that get in your eye.
Two hours later, jarred out of my daydreaming, ready for a cheeseburger, I get to the part of the conference I enjoy the most…parties.
I stopped attending banquets about four to five years ago. Instead, usually accompanied by a couple of writer pals, strung out like myself from the hectic day, I’d spend that two hours haunting the real hotel restaurant, indulging in a thick steak, and enjoying some let-your-hair-down repartee. It’s soothing to the soul. To those who actually enjoy the banquets, more power to you. If you find that you’re on edge going into the big hall, though, remember there are plenty of opportunities to mingle—most are better than the dinner—and your sanity takes priority.
Gusto Dave
 
 
 

 

 

 
 

 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Literary Associate Elizabeth Copps is interviewed!

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth Copps, Literary Associate with the Maria Carvainis Agency, Inc

Elizabeth began her publishing career in 2010 as an MCA intern after graduating from Florida State University with a BA in English Literature. She was thrilled to join the agency full-time in 2011 as the new literary assistant. Two years later, she was offered the position of literary associate and is incredibly excited to build her own list of authors.

Elizabeth considers herself an eclectic reader, but she is particularly interested in literary, multicultural and contemporary fiction, women’s fiction, young adult and young adult crossover, gritty thrillers and mysteries, memoir and romantic suspense. She appreciates rich and believable characters who immediately draw readers into their world, and she is always captivated by a startling plot twist. Her favorite authors include, John Boyne, Chris Cleave, Gillian Flynn, John Green, Joanne Harris, Jhumpa Lahiri, Dennis Lehane, Stephen King, Daphne du Maurier, David Sedaris, Jeanette Walls, and Carlos Ruiz Zaf√≥n.

MCA’s clients include Mary Balogh, Sandra Brown, Candace Camp, Cindy Gerard, Kristan Higgins, Will Thomas, and Laura Wright among others.

Thank you for joining us, Elizabeth!

JF: Please tell us about your typical work day (and how many manuscripts you usually have waiting in your inbox).

EC: Our solicited manuscript log is ongoing, so I have a lot to sift through every day. I usually read between 5 and 10 manuscripts a week depending on whether I am reading partial or full projects. Regarding query letters—the agency usually receives between 20 and 25 letters a day. We try our best to respond to every query within 10 business days of receipt.

JF: What gets you excited in a query letter?  Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to submissions?

EC: Queries that read similarly to a blurb on the back of a book always make me sit up and take notice. I love tight, witty language. Additionally, I want to be hooked by a story’s concept from the first sentence or two of the pitch—but fascinating and unusual characters appeal to me as equally as an intriguing plot. 

As far as pet peeves are concerned, I have three biggies:
1. Failing to research our agency’s submission guidelines. It’s clear to me when authors have not done their due diligence. Query letters that are not personalized, or queries with 30 other agents copied on the same email are giveaways.
  
2. Providing biographical information before describing the writing project. I’m very interested in hearing about a writer’s credentials or reading a short biography, but a writer’s first job is to sell me on their book. 

3. Starting with an excerpt of the novel instead of a formal pitch. I appreciate receiving 10-15 sample pages in a separate attachment so I can get a sense of the writing, but it is disorienting to begin reading a sample without any context.

JF: Certain agents edit a manuscript prior to shopping it to editors. Others don’t. How would you describe your process?

EC: Providing our authors strong editorial feedback is a service we pride ourselves on at MCA. We want the best, most polished version of our client’s work to land on an editor’s desk.  

JF: What do you enjoy most about representing authors to the publishing industry? Least?

EC: In publishing, I really do feel like I get to have my cake and eat it too. I have the privilege of working with highly creative minds as well as impressively business-savvy men and women. I love that I’m in a position where the two sides of the industry merge.

The most unenjoyable aspect of the business has to be sending rejection letters. It’s a necessity, but it can be really difficult. Agents receive rejection letters too, so I know that it is never a good feeling to see one pop up in your inbox.

JF: Which social media venues do you consider most important for authors:  a website, a blog, Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads? Are there others you recommend?

EC: Knowing their way around all types of social media platforms can only benefit authors, especially those who are hybrid or self-published writers. I will say that I believe having a strong website is a necessary foundation for any writer. A website should contain links to an author’s Facebook, Twitter, blog etc. as well as the option to sign up for a weekly or monthly newsletter. Play to your strengths. For example, if you know you can keep up a Twitter account, do so. If you know you hate Facebook and will rarely post, you won’t do yourself or your readers any favors by starting up an account.

JF: What one piece of advice would you offer to authors who plan to pitch their novel to you at Colorado Gold?

EC: Have fun with it! Tell me why you’re passionate about the book you wrote. If I can see how enthusiastic you are about the characters and the plot, chances are I’ll be excited to read your work too.

JF: What do you do for fun when you’re not working?

EC: I’m a big foodie, and I should probably make my motto something along the lines of, “no cookie left behind.” I also have a serious travel bug. This year I am lucky enough to be doing quite a bit of domestic travel for business. Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee and of course Colorado are on the docket thus far for 2014.

JF: Now I would like to ask an off-track question. What did you dream of doing when you were twelve years old?

EC: I was convinced that I was going to be a famous painter. The best afterschool class my mom ever enrolled me in was called “Art Safari.” The classroom was in a converted warehouse, and the teacher filled it floor to ceiling with every art supply imaginable. The first day I walked in she looked at me and said, “Create!” It was pretty magical.

Thank you, Elizabeth!

You can visit http://mariacarvainisagency.com/ for submission guidelines, or meet with Elizabeth in Denver when she joins us at RMFW's Colorado Gold Conference, September 5-7, 2014.

Janet Fogg


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bit in Bora Bora — 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 three previous blogs, 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, and introduced us to new tablemates and the private beach on Moorea.

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Karen Albright Lin:

As an enrichment speaker, I only teach on sea days. It was the second day of our first Princess cruise, another port day, Bora Bora. I wouldn’t teach for the first time on this ship until the next day. But that didn’t mean I had no obligations.

As per my broker, I’m to consider myself a representative of the cruise line, expected to help in making it a good experience for the passengers, smile, and report small problems to my broker instead of the cruise line. I should never complain about the cabin assignment – the bunk beds were… um… different than what we had on our Celebrity cruises. But my husband and I are very flexible and creative people.

The Princess Patter, our daily 4-page guide to life at sea, welcomed us to a French Polynesian paradise just waiting to fill our camera’s memory card with images of black pearls and sea life.

After grabbing some towels from the pool deck, we collected our tender ticket and waited our turn to line up and have our Princess Cruise IDs swiped so they could prevent leaving anybody behind. We scooted down the ramp to the tender boat. When the port area isn’t deep enough, the ship must stay at a distance and ferries zip us to and from port to ship. We were warned to watch the time; the last tender would leave shore at 16:30. This advice became important on another island—tease!

Passengers using motorized scooters had to stay on board if they were unable to be assisted onto the tender without their equipment. It mattered with this older crowd; Wen and I were babies on the ship.
Once on shore, we ignored the aggressively soliciting vendors—who, we were told, lived totally different lives when no ships were in port. We hired a boat with three other couples to go out and swim with the sharks and stingrays.


As we slipped along on the sapphire water, our fellow travelers asked me what type of compensation I received for being a speaker on the ship. I did exactly as I was advised to do by my broker. I answered, “I have an agent, Posh Talks, who handles the details.” In reality, two cruises for free.

We anchored. Scuba divers explored below us as we snorkelers slid into the chilly water (me the only one unapologetically in a full body wet suit).

Our captain pulled out fish parts, coaxing to us a dozen rubbery stingrays. They swarmed in. I was covered by a writhing gray mass.

Not scared, despite Steve Irwin’s ironic death by stingray, I placed one hand above and one below one of the water flyers to let it slip through. I felt my thumb being sucked and swallowed, then a clamp down with teeth. Teeth? I thought they simply had sucker mouths. I had no idea I was exposing myself to little sharp fangs. The greedy bugger figured out quickly that I wasn’t food and unclamped.

Nobody seemed to worry as I announced it and stared at the puncture marks on my thumb.







They were all distracted by the blacktip sharks circling us, drawn by the fish smell. Lucky for my other thumb, or any parts of any of us, these reef sharks were too shy to come within reach. Good thing. I wasn’t up for being bit again.





After returning on the last tender, we watched the lush hills recede as we backed out of the bay at 17:00 sharp.

The next day was a sea day and my first scheduled lecture. I reviewed my PowerPoint presentation one last time, decreasing the number of words on some of the slides. The fewer the better and the more basic the message the better. This is especially true for an audience made up primarily of non-writers.
I wouldn’t know until that night’s Patter delivery where on the ship I would present and when. I was surprised at how laid back I was about a new ship venue and unknown passenger interest. Guess the holes in my thumb would put teaching about Writing Your Life into perspective. The next few days I checked to be sure my thumb didn’t get infected with some kind of ichthyic staph. All was well. It seems salt water is a pretty good disinfectant.


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Thank you, Karen!

Please join us on July 23rd for the next installment in Karen's series on Teaching through the Islands!



Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Conned at a Conference: Add-Ons

Before I proceed to kick the hell out of add-ons to conferences, please allow me to point out a good one.

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers has a critique workshop at the beginning of their Gold Conference that is hosted by one of the editors or agents attending the event. It costs $35. The other registrants of this workshop will critique your submission. Hopefully, by the time you’ve chosen to plunk down the coin for this little soiree, you will have had your copy critiqued to death, so that aspect of it is not necessarily beneficial, but, you will get more time with an editor or agent and if you believe in the getting-to-know-publishing-deal-makers approach to trigger the acquisition of your masterpiece, this add-on can help you achieve that. I know one author very well who snagged a deal with Kensington—a fairly big player—through one of these sessions. It’s one of the very few add-ons I believe offers value.

Now it’s time to get brutal.

Another conference that I attended offered an agent all-day workshop that was an additional cost, a hefty charge, to the regular registration fee. This fee was profit for the agent. Mind you, the other respectable publishing professionals who were attending the regular conference only had their expenses paid. Anyway, this special add-on workshop agent, high-powered, boasts quite a resume and I’ll leave the identity anonymous. Why does someone pay for such a workshop? Because they’re trying to get published, hoping to make a contact to pitch there in the hotel or later online. However, one of the conference board members who I know very well told me that this agent emphasized to them that (s)he was not there to pick up manuscripts! In fact, I was standing around drinking with said agent later and an editor poked fun at him/her by saying, “Quite the cult you got going there.”

A respected author acquaintance of mine got caught up in said ‘cult’, thought he was making headway, and one day the agent just stopped returning correspondence.

Sorry, fellow writers, but that’s the stone cold truth.

Lots of add-ons are just designed to make more money. It’s marketing. Publishing is, after all, a business and the income goes way beyond just books. Please remember that there’s a substantial how-to-write market as well. We live in a country of free enterprise, so I don’t really mean to vilify any ‘services’, but as a miser, I feel obligated to ask you to consider what you can get for free.

Conferences, played wisely, are not a bad thing. Go network, have fun, pick up some pointers, pitch your work, but most of all, keep one hand clamped on your pocket book.

Next installment: Banquets.

Happy Independence Day!

Gusto

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Private Beach and New Tablemates: Moorea

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 blogs last week and the week before, 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, and then discussed some of the downsides to teaching on a cruise.

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Karen Albright Lin:

We’d boarded the Sea Princess in Tahiti, Wen as a passenger, me as an enrichment speaker. I was scheduled to teach 6 writing courses, one for each sea day. That first day, we dealt with a few snafus getting my credential badge, but we got the OK to leave the ship the next day in Moorea. Behold the remarkable jagged mountains! Michener’s legendary Bali Ha’i, Bloody Mary of the South Pacific, certainly had bragging rights.


Told that the entire coast of the island could be driven in an hour, we rented a scooter, buzzed along pocked roads, pulling to the side for trucks whizzing by. Rain threatened but only spit. We drove past blowholes then up to a lookout spot,




stopped at an outdoor cultural center,




and we pulled over at a little roadside stand to eat a dozen of the first YELLOW passion fruit I’d ever seen.

The island, it turned out, takes over 3 ½ hours to circle. When we got to the only “public beach” it was closed off and labeled “private beach.” We later learned it closes to the public when cruise ships come in because the hotel guests don’t appreciate the crowds pouring in. Huge disappointment.

I’ve taught on three cruises in the last year and found each time that the local lifestyle changes dramatically on the days the ships come in. In the islands, I understand their lives are slow and laid back until the days they have a flood of people to whom they can market their wears (from China-made trinkets to black pearls) and their services (from foot massages to private tours).

That evening was Dress Casual, tough ribeye, so-so asparagus salad, and disappointing cherries jubilee. Food was lackluster. The best part of every meal were the 4 tablemates we would share dinners with the rest of the cruise. Entertaining would be an understatement. Both couples (like 99% of the passengers) were from Australia, both (like 99% of the passengers) were older than us but energetic, intellectually dynamic, and young at heart.

Couple number one would be failures on The Dating Game.

I’d like to think Roger and Emily’s discord was attributable to having already spent 15 days on the ship in tight quarters before Wen and I boarded. The two of them interrupted and criticized each other, lectured me on my right-handed fork work and general lack of the queen’s etiquette, and endlessly reminded us of their “affluence.” Literally using that word! It was enough to disturb digestion, if we weren’t busy laughing about it.

Mike and Denise from Cairns were quite different, her a warm and charming woman, always beautifully put together “even when she goes to the grocery store,” complete with a coordinated silk flower in her hair. Mike was a marriage counselor with remarkable bushy and expressive eyebrows, an affectionate man who happened to have an interest in a celebrity whose memoir I contracted to ghostwrite a while ago. Synchronicity only began there with this couple. Mike had done some writing and, as I teased, became one of my lecture groupies. Denise and he offered to take us to their favorite restaurant in Cairns where we would go after the cruise. At the tail end of our trip, half a month later, we happened to be eating in a little Thai hole-in-the-wall in Cairns and in walk Dennis and Mike. We’ve stayed in touch since. There’s a reason these things happen, and it might have something to do with writing and the singer we both have an interest in. The future will tell.

Aside from the company, the dinners never met my expectations, but the Aussies loved most nights’ meals. Only after I later tried Australian cuisine did I understand why they raved over the ship’s food. On a budget, ethnic foods seem to be the only way to go in Australia. I’m a cook and food writer, so I may be a tough one to please. But seriously… meat pies and fish and chips can only be eaten so many times. But that’s for another post.


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Thank you, Karen!

We hope you'll drop by Chiseled in Rock on July 9, 2014 for the next installment in this series, Bit in Bora Bora-Teaching through the Islands!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Downsides to Teaching on a Cruise: Boarding the Sea Princess

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. Today, Karen is sharing some of the downsides to teaching on a cruise. Downsides?  Yes, it's true.

If you missed her blog last week, you might enjoy reading it first, as she shared her preparations in anticipation of teaching five classes while on board her latest cruise.

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Wen and I said goodbye to our lovely hotel on Papeete, Tahiti and effortlessly boarded the Sea Princess.  Not only was I VIP because I was a “guest lecturer,” but there weren’t others lined up with bags since I was boarding midway through a 32-day cruise.  Celebrity cruises had been somewhat of a trial because there were hoards of guests with bags and dock staff seemed uncertain of where my bags should go on the ship (crew is separate from the other passengers).

Princess was a dream until we discovered later that my status on the ship (crew) would be officially different than Wen’s (passenger).  That meant he had a typical cruise boarding card and I was going to need my photo taken for a special crew badge (laminex).  I wouldn’t be able to leave the ship until I got one.  Getting one was not easy. The badge photographer was busy and couldn’t be chased down.  This meant we’d have to scramble and find unorthodox ways involving  an activity director’s pager and slipping into secure areas to get a badge made for me last minute so I could get off at our first destination:  Morea.

A curiosity and concern:  Our room had only one key (not a card like other passengers, but an actual key).  Another couldn’t be made that day—which could have been a problem because Wen and I thought we’d have to go our separate ways when it looked as though I wouldn’t have my badge in time to get off the ship.  I insisted Wen still enjoy the island best known for its snorkeling.  The key didn’t show up in the morning, but it still worked out since I got the badge just in time to go off the ship with Wen

Unlike the Celebrity cruises I taught on, where we had outside staterooms with romantic portholes, Princess provided us with an inside room with no window.  Disappointing to say the least.  But hey, I reasoned, we never spend much time in a stateroom anyway.  There was a consolation prize on our crew location; we were directly across from the captain’s cabin. We brushed shoulders occasionally while going in and out, down a hall lined with various plaques and distinctions and curls of smoke – apparently the nonsmoking rules don’t apply to the guy who has 3,000+ lives in his hands. 

The biggest and most unexpected disappointment was that we’d be sleeping in bunk beds.  My positive slant, it would force us to be more creative.


The activities director, Andrew, reconfirmed with me about schedule and AV needs.  Peter, the cruise director, checked in with me about how many typically attend my lectures.  I told him 50+ depending on what’s happening at the same time on the ship.  He scheduled my first session in a perfect venue, the second largest on the ship – the Vista Lounge.  Comfy, with a nice stage, great lighting and sound system.




Later that evening, as Wen and I drank our 60% discounted cocktails.  We struck up a conversation with Australian Rock and Roll Legend, Roland Storm, who performed later that night.  He called himself a “washed up musician.”  He was nice guy with an Australian sense of humor that slipped right past us sometimes.  


We explored the underworld of the ship where the cooks, waiters, pursers, janitors etc. live.  That was eye-opening.  It was its own little universe.  Stark, metal floors, bare bones accommodations, ATMs and discount Internet minute machines, unadorned buffet dining that looked nothing like that above, crates of food and cleaning supplies lining the walls, crew office, security office, and the infirmary. 

People sat along the medical station wall waiting for treatments for coughs or sea sickness or more severe issues as we learned later.  We learned that it was essentially a hospital down there, and that medical treatment is very expensive and often not reimbursed by Australian insurance.  99% of the passengers were Australian.  We loved the accents, even if we didn’t always catch what was being said.

Adjusted to the ship, we looked forward to the first port, Morea.


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Thank you, Karen!

We hope you'll drop by Chiseled in Rock next week, on June 25th, for the next installment in this series!