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January 31, 2011


By Heather

Cruise I spent several days last week on a cruise. Our cruise was actually a conference, but somehow, it was much, much more. 

It was our third cruise as a group and we guiltily referred to it as work--and it is, we have workshops--but the most important part is playing with a hundred best friends while the sun shines and the dolphins follow the ship--and all that.

I bring my family on this cruise, those who can be gotten. So I'd spent several weeks prodding to make sure that my children, nephew, in-laws, family friends all had their passports. They did.

I did not.

Somehow, I'd lost it--something discovered when I went to find it where I keep it in a drawer. Passport ALWAYS keep it in a drawer. Well, always, but not this time. So, in the twenty-three hours between taking my daughter Chynna back to LA and the cruise itself, I sat in the Miami passport office. 

That meant I never unpacked, so I had a huge bag full of clothing--except for makeup and underwear. I'd taken those items out, needing clean underwear, and using the makeup for the passport picture that still makes me look like I should be locked up. It did feel a bit ridiculous to have seven sweaters and no toothbrush or undies.

We get to the ship, and all is a little confusing, because the woman at check-in doesn't want to let me have as many children as I do, but she's finally convinced that I did procreate a lot, and we all get on the ship.  FRW Conference attendees

I should say that the great thing is the people we get to go with. Our Florida group is made up of a group that’s incredibly supportive, and better still, we have editors and agents on board we truly know and love--we love them even if they've rejected us or made us do the rewrites from hell several times over. 

The ship is not the best ever, but who cares when you're all aboard? We started with the signature sail away drinks the first night, and somehow, argh! make it to karaoke and then the casino. Okay . . . even I, who love a good karaoke night, crawled swiftly into the casino. I love a good slot machine, too. And the slots even liked me back that night.

Key West, Blue Heaven, and meeting up with a musician friend at Hog's Breath, and back on the ship. Mexico where our favorite (group favorite) bar lurks, and our entire group, including our amazing agents and editors, wind up in ridiculous balloon hats and we take our traditional picture shot in one of the two bathtubs that sit facing the water. And it's amazing. Because in this world, people do matter. Getting to know one another lets authors know if they believe in an agent, and an agent know if they like what an author has to offer. Editors may hear the best story in the world when they're wearing balloon hats and eating tacos and imbibing in a few margaritas.

Kp34 I had my nephew, niece-in-law, and two little ones on board. I did feel a bit like a character from "Sweet Home, Alabama." I was watching them with Auntie T and Uncle Stu when Stu, who had had a pacemaker, had a little bout. They had to head back to the infirmary, just when little Graham suddenly said, “I have to peepee, Auntie Heather,” and I looked around at the carriage and the bags and the baby . . . but we made it to los banos. We were to meet the others at the bar, and so we headed over. A baby! In a bar! Oh, two of them. But, at this bar, there were children all around. All wearing balloon hats.

It's the best time, really. I can't wait to do it again! Ole!



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I just want to say that yes, ALL the people in that photo are Heather's children. And yes, I believe she really was working. She's just very focused: while everyone else was applying sunscreen, Heather got 3 new novels written.

But I want to see the new passport photo.

I'm going on my first cruise ever this summer, and I hope it's HALF as much fun as yours. Then another one next October that Harley's going to be on. The second one I KNOW is going to be awesome, but I hope we get balloon hats and Mexican bathtubs!!

What fun, Heather! Any activity involving balloon hats is okay in my book.

I went on my first cruise 2 years ago, a three-day affair that promised to have lots of kids' activities. My kids clung to me the whole time, unwilling to hang out in a room they decided was just glorified day care. The Kids Club Counselors were eastern European emigrés, with all of the lightheartedness of people who'd recently escaped from the Gulag. The swimming pool was bitterly cold. Our main source of recreation was shopping. And despite all this, I'm willing to try it again -- because the next cruise will include Cornelia.

ANd because, of course, we'll be, uh, working.

Heather, the number of your kids is impressive; I had a cruise once on the Adriatic Sea without the kids. Next time looking at you I’ll take the kids with me.

I'm sorry, but Uncle Stu's "little bout" made me LOL.

I'm also still trying to figure out--were all of these cruise-goers also writers?

Ohhhhhh..I've never been on a cruise..OH, wait, I did a story on the QEII, but that was work.

Heather, if looks magical and wonderful. Thank for bringing us along via blog! And, hint hint, I just lost and renewed MY passport, too...ole is right!

LOVE taking a mob of family on a vacation together---er, I mean a working trip together.

Speaking of bathtubs: I am raising my hand with a question. Does anybody know why all those erectile dysfunction ads use two bathtubs to indicate having a wild sexual encounter? Not that anybody on a cruise would do such a thing (I"m looking at you, Cornelia) but I'm just wondering.

To my darling niece, Heather--
It looks like such fun!
Much love,
Aunt Nan

Nancy M: I know! It's so weird. The bathtubs are in the middle of a field, they're in separate tubs, and there is no visible plumbing.

Instead of looking romantic, it just makes me shiver. Is it meant for men to yearn for? Because it is clearly not aimed at practical, female us.

It was warm--Gulf side, and we sailed (can you say sail for such a ship?) out of Miami. So much fun . . . funny thing about the bathtubs. They're just there, don't look attached to anything, but my three year old nephew saw the spigot and turned it on and water came out! They do tourism really well at Three Amigos (see, right there, getting in both languages!) Conga lines, dancing on the chairs . . . and the balloons. I don't think I'd make Pacific side--too in love with water you can go in!

Heather it looks that you had a wonderful time.

My family went on a Mexican cruise with my ten month grandchild and it was fun. It was off season and the ship was not too crowded. We played cards on the deck in the late afternoon.
There was a Halloween party one evening and everything was very memorable.

NancyM and Karen, when I see a bathtub in a field, I don't see romance; I see a cow's drinking trough.

Sez the country girl.

Kind of defeats the ad's purpose, Rowena, doesn't it?


Romance in a bathtub sounds like back pain waiting to happen. And unless there are a whole lotta bubbles involved and candlelight, not that visually erotic. After a certain age.

Not that anyone here is past a certain age.

Okay, I want to know about this upcoming cruise with Harley and Cornelia. Is this a cruise open to regular peeps with a spotlight on authors or is it simply one where you are relaxing incognito to get energized to write?

You've made me miss the Storytelling Cruises ETSU used to organize -- fun + learning!!! (and good food!) Our travel agent said it was like herding cats, but she loved it. She kept hoping I'd have an uneventful, smooth trip -- never did, but always survived -- and it was worth it. She said if you don't want to deal with unpredictable challenges, "stay home on the porch and sort socks."
OTOH, now that I have the latex allergy, I have to consult carefully with the food providers (no latex gloves to touch the food) and stay far away from the colorful balloon sculptures :-(

Yeah, what Kellee said...

We need to have our TLC cruise. I'm tired of waiting for Kathy Sweeney to win the lottery.

All the cruises sound like fun. I like the way kids make things funny-and real. Maybe we can go on a virtual cruise?

This looks like great fun. I am jealous, even moreso because everyone looks so warm and happy, and we in the Northeast have "a snowstorm of historic proportions" on the way. Yikes!I will dream about a TLC cruise. Let's do it!

Okay, funny that you should ask about this Harley & Cornelia's Excellent Adventure at Sea. Because I just got an e-mail update and we're supposed to be promoting it. Here you go: http://www.hightidecruises.com/murderatsea/index.html

I just checked the link, Harley. Boy, how I would love to go but it's way out of my price range! I'll be thinking about all of you!

Like you, Brunonia, I am in the Northeast and I am so sick of the color white! If I get stuck at home again I can finally start reading your Lace Reader. If it's anything like The Map of True Places I will probably forget to go to work until I finish reading it!

Cousin Heather, I'm so cheesed that you didn't ask me to, uh, work. But, wait, I have cruiseophobia; so, until I get over it, I'm going back to not being related to you.

Thank you Deb. You made my day! You almost made me wish for snow. Almost.

Wow! Looks really fun! Wish I could go on that other cruise. :)

A TLC cruise would be da' bomb! I might save my money for that kind of awesome vacation.

Heather, next time, could you include me as part of your family too?

My brother-in-law is writing a book with Don Winslow.

Hmm. I would sure love to go on this cruise!

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