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Archive for May, 2010

A Shipboard Tour

During our cruise, we did a ship tour. We had to pay for the tour, but it lasted for four hours and we received several gifts from the departments we visited, drinks and canapés and a photo with the captain so we were well pleased.

Behind the scenes on a ship is absolutely fascinating. We started in the Princess Theatre and learned about the lights, the dancers and singers and the costumes. During the course of the cruise, we saw four cabaret-type shows. The sheer number of costume changes amazed me, and when I saw how small the changing rooms were I was even more impressed. Many of the costumes were very heavy as well.

We visited the laundry, which is below the water line and is a very busy and steamy-hot place. The laundry is in action twenty-four hours a day to keep up with all the onboard washing and ironing.

The anchor is immense and has several backups so it doesn’t become loose at the wrong time. The printing shop where they print everything from menus to daily newspapers and the ship newspaper (The Princess Patter) to TV guides is also small and staffed by two people.

During the course of a cruise, a team of photographers and videographers constantly photograph the passengers. The place where they print the thousands of photographs is also small, and it’s amazing that they manage to get the prints done. All repairs to the photography machines are done onboard, so the head of department needs to be a jack-of-all-trades.

Next was the galley, which is spotlessly clean and incredibly busy during service times. It’s a very delicate balance trying to work out how much food it will take to last the length of each cruise. On the cruise we were doing food and supplies were taken aboard in Sydney and Honolulu. There was a fair amount of consternation amongst passengers when the ship ran out of bananas. Most of the passengers came from Australia and it seems Australians love their bananas! The store rooms and chillers were crammed with meat, fruit, vegetables plus raw and canned goods. The workers are rotated to avoid boredom.

We visited the engineering department, where they generate electricity for the ship, before heading to the bridge to meet with the captain and his officers. We finished with drinks and canapés.

During our visit to the galley, we received a chef’s jacket each. I put mine on today while I was cooking vegetarian chili for dinner. It made me feel very “chef-like”. I even managed to get it dirty when I opened a can of kidney beans. The juice shot over my chef’s jacket, my face and glasses, so it’s now officially christened!!

Here’s a photo of me in my chef’s jacket.

Photobucket

Back From Holiday

I’m back! The Pacific cruise was wonderful–relaxing, full of new experiences and fun times. Quite frankly, I don’t think I’m ready to face the real world again. In the real world I have to cook, do dishes and make my own bed. Hubby had to drag me onto the plane to fly home from Sydney. Once we emptied the suitcases, the pile of laundry was downright scary, but thankfully that’s almost under control now.

Here’s a sample of what we saw on our holiday. This is the island of Moorea in Tahiti. The photo was taken from the ship. Beautiful, isn’t it?

Moorea sunrise, Tahiti

Writer Tip: Nalini Singh

“If a scene just isn’t working, and yet it’s critical to the storyline, try writing it from the point of view of one of the other characters. You might be surprised at the difference it makes!”

Visit Nalini Singh’s website
Purchase Nalini’s latest release, Archangel’s Kiss

Writer Tip: Kaye Manro

“GET HOOKED!

What does that mean? Simply, we must write stories that grab readers at page one and never let them go. It’s not as easy as it seems. To start with, a stellar beginning/opening is vital these days, especially for aspiring authors if we want that coveted publishing contract.

According to statistics, editors/agents reject manuscripts before they’ve finished reading the first few pages. I wanted to know why. So I studied many books on the craft of writing and took several creative writing classes that addressed that very issue. I also read and researched multi-published authors’ books, trying to get the feel of what set them apart. Then I practiced, rewrote and practiced again hoping to get the words right.

Here’s a stellar ‘Get Hooked’ opening from Carved In Stone by Vickie Taylor (Berkley Sensation): Nothing reminded Nathan Cross he wasn’t human so much as an attractive woman watching his every move from across a crowded room.

Now doesn’t that make you want to read more? It does me. The book continues to be stellar throughout and never lets the reader down all the way to the end.

Our first goal as an author is to evoke an emotional response that hooks the reader. Les Edgerton, leading authority on writing stellar hooks says, “If you are able to capture the right beginning, you’ve written a small version of the whole story right there.”

How can we go wrong with that? The best advice I can give about hooking editors, agents and ultimately readers, is to write a stellar opening and then make sure the rest of your story lives up to that fabulous beginning.”

Kaye Manro
www.kayemanro.com

Kaye Manro’s science fiction romance FORBIDDEN LOVE releases at Red Rose Publishing on May 20, 2010.

Writer Tip: Holly Root (agent)

What is your best craft tip for aspiring authors wanting to submit to an agent?

90% of writing is rewriting. I don’t know that it ever gets easier, but I know that the more you learn to self-edit and polish, the stronger you’ll be at those skills.

Follow this link to read my full interview with agent, Holly Root

Writer Tip: Sarah Mayberry

“Take disco breaks. Get up every hour and get the blood flowing and give your brain a break by punching up something pumpy on your ipod or stereo and rocking out for a few minutes. Great to reset things and bring you back to the computer with new energy, and helpful to stop your body from seizing up after long hours toiling over the keyboard.”

Visit Sarah Mayberry’s website
Purchase Sarah’s latest release, Her Best Friend

Writer Tip: Brenna Lyons

“The editor is there to do two things: to make the book as polished and professional as she can and to help you and the publisher avoid infringement suits. There are no brownie points for refusing reasonable edits. My first editor [Suzanne James] taught me: “An editor is not dismembering your baby; she’s polishing your gem.” To that, I added: “Sometimes you have to cut off the rough edges before the soft cloth comes out.” While you may not agree on precisely what changes need made to smooth the work, you should work with the editor to come to a compromise and not dismiss the concerns outright. Chances are, if the editor sees a problem, the readers will as well. Remember, what you see in your mind’s eye is often filling in the blanks between the typed lines, because you know the subject so well. For a reader to see the same thing, it has to all be on the page.”

Brenna Lyons, author of the EPIC’s e-Book Award-winning TIME CURRENTS

Writer Tip: Cheryl Brooks

“I don’t know if my tip is unique or not, but when I’m writing, I keep what I call a tracking sheet on each book. Whenever I start a new chapter, I add in the chapter number and the page it begins on. This enables me to know just how long each of my chapters is and when I should start thinking about ending them. I keep that and a synopsis and a style sheet with character names and a few brief characteristics in separate files on my computer and update them as I go along. The style sheet helps me keep character names and spellings, (which are always hard to remember since I invent most of them) within easy access of my increasingly Swiss cheese brain so I don’t have to go back and scan what I’ve already written looking for the name or description.”

Visit Cheryl Brooks’ Website
Purchase a book from Cheryl Brooks’ The Cat Star Chronicles

Writer Tip: Shelley Munro

Read. You’ll probably hear this from every published writer you meet. You’ll probably hear it at every conference you attend too. It really is important to know how the romance genre works and the classic hooks that are popular with readers. Analyze each book you read. Treat them like textbooks and learn from every book. Discover what works for you as a reader, learn how other writers deal with dialogue, narrative and love scenes. As you read, you’ll absorb quite a bit of craft and you’ll probably find that you do things instinctively after a while.

A bonus tip: Take the time to exercise. Not only does it keep your mind alert and give you down time to plot and work through problems, it helps keep the dreaded bottom spread at bay. What? You thought bottom spread was an urban legend put out by published authors to scare you off? No, unfortunately. It’s quite true. If you spend all your time writing and don’t exercise you will end up with a large backside. Heed my warning and exercise! :grin:

Visit Shelley Munro’s website
Purchase Shelley’s latest release, The Bottom Line

Writer Tip: Maria Zannini

Go to the source: Want to know how it feels to sit in a Mercedes Benz, or the smell of a horse, or the sound of a forest?

Go to the source.

Window shop at a high end car dealer, visit a horse veterinarian or enlist the help of horsey friends. The woods are not silent. Spend a night–or at least several hours hiking.

Nothing beats the real thing in order to describe it well. While some of us can’t go up in space, we can simulate the experience by spending a few minutes in a cramped metal shed or the cockpit of an airplane. Writing about the past? Turn off all the lights in your house and fetch water out of a rain barrel.

Now submerse yourself in the experience. As you transport yourself, you’ll transport your readers.

Visit Maria Zannini’s blog.
Purchase Touch Of Fire • Samhain Publishing