by Julie Glover

I’d been on two previous cruises and the land retreat in France hosted by Cruising Writers. But when the September 2017 cruise got scheduled, I said to owner Christina Delay, “I’m not going.” Then she said, “Lisa Cron and Angela Ackerman are going,” and I said, “Okay, I’m going.” How quickly she changed my mind!

Just a few months later, Christina added, “Oh, and actually you are going in my stead, because I’m expecting.” So while she stayed home caring for seriously-the-cutest-baby-girl, I slid into her big shoes of Cruising Writers Host and stepped onto the cruise ship headed to Cozumel, Mexico, Falmouth, Jamaica, and Georgetown, Grand Cayman. I was quite happy that I’d said yes.

In addition to Lisa Cron (Story Genius and Wired for Story) and Angela Ackerman (The Emotion Thesaurus), we had along industry professionals Michelle Grajkowski (Agent, Three Seas Literary) and Deb Werksman (Editor, Sourcebooks).

Now you might have heard that there were storms in the Caribbean. Rest assured, we cruised through the middle corridor, only experiencing a few hours of truly choppy waters. Monday morning was a little rough on the seas, but by Monday afternoon, it was smooth sailing from then on.

Which was good news, since we were treated to a fabulous workshop on setting by Angela Ackerman, co-author of The Emotion Thesaurus and two books on setting.

Karaoke on an Author RetreatThe next day, we started our shore excursions, which included a private beach club in Cozumel and writers fanning out to do everything from kayaking to hanging out with stingrays to touring historical sites. One of the reasons I love Cruising Writers is this unique opportunity to experience new things that add to our ability to think outside the box for setting, help us write sensory descriptions, and stroke our creative juices.

Some writers also used these days for much-desired writing time. Indeed, I hung out on the ship on Grand Cayman day, sitting by the pool with a fellow retreater, and pounding out words for my work in progress. We also brainstormed with each other—another fabulous of benefit of hanging for the week for other writers.

Back on the ship for sail days, we dug deep into our stories with writing coach Lisa Cron, who walked us through character development in a unique way. She helped me to reconsider some of my character’s backstory and get to the point of my main story in a more believable, compelling way.

Interspersed with all of this terrific information were presentations by agent Michelle Grajkowski of Three Seas Literary and Deb Werksman of Sourcebooks Casablanca, focused on writing and marketing a book that sells. And one of our favorite activities is the First Pages Reading, during which writers share their first 500 words and get agent and editor feedback. It’s invaluable.

Evenings were spent together at dinner with amazing cuisine, followed by productive write-ins and fun onboard activities. There might have been some late-night dancing and karaoke as well.

Am I going in 2018? I said no, then maybe, but I have this nagging feeling my answer will turn to yes.

It’s not just because Christina knows where I live. Cruising Writers keeps pulling me back because it’s a unique experience that enhances my writing in so many ways. I get all of this:

  • In-depth instruction from the best teachers
  • A full week to get to know and learn from an agent and an editor
  • Time and locations conducive to writing
  • Close community and strong friendships with other devoted writers
  • Opportunities to experience new adventures (small and big) that inspire my writing
  • A karaoke finals award certificate (okay, that one was just me, but Cruising Writers helped me cross karaoke off my bucket list and I had a fan section this time around!)

There are so many reasons that by the end of the cruise, this is what the group looks like:

Authors on a Writing Cruise

Mark your calendars for October 13-20, 2018 for the next not-to-be-missed Cruising Writers cruise. It looks like I’ll see you there!