by Julie Glover

Karaoke on a Writing RetreatAlthough I’d been writing in one way or another for many years, I started my first novel only a few years ago – the same year I wrote a “bucket list.” I titled it my 40 After 40 List, with forty items I wanted to tackle after my 40th birthday.

I’d gotten through about a third of my list when I took my first Cruising Writers trip last December, thus crossing off Go on a cruise. But preparing for the trip, I also got to strike through Get a passport. I’d always wanted to have a passport, but I hadn’t needed one before.

On our October 2016 cruise / writing retreat, I did something a little bolder.

On my list was this item: Sing in a karaoke bar.

I sang in high school choir, but that was I-don’t-want-to-say-how-many years ago. Since then, I’ve sung in church with various groups, but other opportunities to perform have been infrequent. As someone who loves music and enjoys entertaining others, I’d long wanted to try karaoke.

So one night, after our evening workshop and nightly write-in, several writing retreaters were hunting for something to do. We saw that our favorite lounge onboard, the Hoof & Claw Pub, was holding Open Karaoke.

When we arrived, the pub was crowded, a bigger audience than I’d anticipated. But I signed up anyway, giving my name, the number of my song selection, and its title.

About a half hour later, I was called up for my turn.

Now there’s more talent aboard a cruise ship than you might expect. Some singers gave fabulous and fun performances. The bar was high. So when I stepped on stage, I figured I’d go for broke. Why not? And I had about 10 fellow writers and friends in my corner, cheering me on. The background music began, the words popped onto the screen, and I gave my version of “Redneck Woman” my best shot.

It. Was. Fun.

Not only did I cross off another item on my bucket list, I shared the experience with writers who had become friends over the course of the week. What would have been an enjoyable activity became a fabulous and memorable event!

What’s on your bucket list?

Is it heading to Europe? Cruising Writers has a writing retreat at a lovely chateau in France next spring.

Is it finishing your book? In addition to workshops, Cruising Writers offers daily write-ins so you can log more words – good ones – and get closer to your goal.

Is it hobnobbing with bestselling authors? NYT Bestseller Steena Holmes was onboard our last cruise; Shelly Adina, Amazon bestseller, will be in France, as well as NYT and USA Today bestseller of almost 13 million copies, H.M. Ward; and bestseller Angela Ackerman will be on the September 2017 cruise.

Is it pitching your novel to a quality agent or editor? Each Cruising Writers retreat features an agent and editor and pitch appointments included. Not to mention that you get to have dinner and conversation with them throughout the week, so you have a good sense of who you’d be getting if you and an agent and editor match.

Is it singing karaoke? I’m up for another performance on the 2017 cruise. And when I’m finished, I’d love to hand the microphone to you.

For me, the next item: Learn a foreign language. And I’ve been listening to the podcast Coffee Break French in anticipation of my visit to France with Cruising Writers in April. I won’t be fluent by then, but I’ll be well on my way to crossing off yet another bucket list item. Thanks, Cruising Writers!