I fought the hebejebes and forced myself onto the huge ship. Thank God for Pearl Wolf, or I woulda never made it.Quick moving lines and showing my ID got me a what they called, a Fun Pass. You used it for everything. Tons and I mean tons of people followed the walkway to the ship. The first thing I saw was a huge bar. And at 11:30am people danced to the music with
fancy drinks in their hands. At 11:30 in the morning! Imagine. The party starts the minute you step on board.
The bar was in a huge open area and a large room opened all the way to the top of the ship. Elevators encased in glass and colorfully decorated lights, brought cruisers up and down from the bar to all ten floors! It was overwhelming.With my mouth still hanging open we made our way to our room. I expected a closet, but it was pretty big to me. I chose the bed next to the balcony. Of which I intended to make a lot of use. Pearl opted for the other bed, that way she could beat me to the bathroom when we had to use it in the middle of
the night. I loved the little towel animals and a mint on my bed. If only I could train Chris to do some of these things for me.Well a girl can dream.The shower was larger then the one I have in our main bathroom at home. 
We left our carry-ons and made our way to the main deck. A fairly good sized pool, jacuzzi, and dozens of chairs filled it. Right next to it was a buffet restaurant where we ate most of our meals except for dinner. Still in shock and awe I stood and watched as the ship left dock in Miami. My heart was pounding and I hoped I could handle the cacophony all around me. If I didn't hate the taste of alcohol I'd have had a few to bolster my courage. To the loud horn of the cruise ship people stood on deck and waved goodbye to the Port and we were on our way. My stomach flipped several times. And I told myself, "You can do this, you can do this!"
And somehow I knew I could! I had my fellow authors to keep me company. I'd wouldn't be a wallflower, I swore to myself.
Amid the thousands of people there we found our FRW co-cruisers. And the conference began.
I didn't have time to be afraid, the hardest part for me was all the walking. And despite the pain from my back I pushed myself to do it. I live in Florida, but this is the first time I have ever been to Key West and seen the end of our country. I watched the water and thought, Cuba ain't that far. If I lived there, I'd make a swim for freedom too! A trolley brought us to see the sights of Key West. I loved the feel of the place, all the interesting shops, but my favorite thing was the kitties at Hemingway's very comfortable home. All six toes of them. They have the life of Riley there.

Then the boat docked at Cosumel, Mexico. I never saw so many jewelry stores in my life. The glass bottom boat tour was canceled due the heavy winds and it was cold. You could tell the people who live there were not used to it. Not interested in a Sombrero we made our way to the infamous Three Amigo's Bar, where Pearl showed me how to have fun.The woman is just amazing, I should be as active as she is. I wish the pictures I took of her dancing and singing on stage to Ride Sally Ride had come out.Darn it! And you know what? I plum forgot to be nervous or scared! Cathy Maxwell, has this wonderful laugh that just makes everyone around her laugh. She was a pistol and everyone loves her. Could be her wonderful personality? I don't know, but I loved her too!.

The wonderful workshops were informative and I learned a lot. I loved listening to Heather Graham, Sally Schoeneweiss ,and Joan Johnson, the founding mothers of FRW. And Kathy Pickering, Aleka Nakis and Traci Hall, were hysterical as they did a skit imitating them.I can't get the picture of Piks, holding five baby dolls and singing, as she imitated the talented Heather Graham, out of my head. It's stuck there! I wanna publish three books too Sally! Honest I do!
I didn't plan to pitch my latest story. I thought, "Who the heck would want to read my book." Especially with all the fantastic authors that surrounded me. But, Erika Tsang, from Avon, was so sweet, how could I be afraid of her. Plus, at the very least her feedback would be phenomenal! So I made an appointment and probably made a fool of myself. With her professional demeanor, you'd never have known it. I did it! I made my first pitch with an editor in person! Holy moley, I was on a roll!
So much happened and I saw so many wonderful people. Mona Risk's husband Sam, was in  his glory as the official photographer. Mona's blog site has tons of them!
Every night the waiters and waitresses would put on a bit of entertainment. If they could dance on pedestals  why couldn't Piks to it too?All too soon it was over. I didn't want to go home. Imagine that! 
Only missing Sharon Donovan, who couldn't make it due to illness, was sad for me. I thought about her a lot.

One last time we sat and talked with more FRW authors and we were off the ship. The thing about a cruise is that all the editors and agents are captives. They are human, honest, and they are just such wonderful people. I couldn't post Erika Tsang's picture in her balloon hat. I promised to burn the picture. Hmmm. maybe not...
So there you have it. I did it! I even talked to strangers. I don't know what it was. Maybe my Muse took over my body? Everyone on a cruise is happy and friendly, it's like an alternate world. But I'll tell you this in all honesty. I never had so much fun in my entire life! I can't wait to do it again! And one last piece of advise. Take the Florida Romance Writers Conference, and you too can have your agoraphobia stifled as you Cruise With Your Muse.
 Oh and one last picture of the life of the party, Greg Hall, husband of Traci Hall as he parties with Heather Graham's husband, Dennis Pozzessere. What would a cruise be without them?


  1. Judy // February 5, 2011 at 9:54 AM  

    Mary, I loved cruising with you! Your story was charming and made me wish I'd gone on the cruise too! What fun! Good job!!

  2. Sharon Donovan // February 5, 2011 at 10:02 AM  

    Mary, my sweet friend. I am so sad that I missed out on all the fun but am so thrilled and beyond thrilled that you had such a fantastic voyage. Best of luck with Avon, my sweet darling girl.

  3. Mary Ricksen // February 5, 2011 at 10:13 AM  

    Sharon, that was the one thing that broke my heart. You not being able to go...
    I love you sweetie and someday!!!

  4. Toni V.S. // February 5, 2011 at 10:17 AM  

    Sounds like a great time. Read it with envy!

  5. Maeve // February 5, 2011 at 10:45 AM  

    Wow! Oh my goodness, Mary, you are SO brave. I admire you so much for your courage. I pretty much have to be "pried" out of my house - so I know EXACTLY what you're talking about. It looks like you had an awesome time. I'm so glad you were able to go and gather up so many treasured memories. :-)

  6. Barbara Monajem // February 5, 2011 at 11:16 AM  

    Wow, that was fun! It made me wish I'd gone along, too. Maybe next time...

  7. Autumn Jordon // February 5, 2011 at 11:23 AM  

    Mary, what fun. I loved reading about your trip and kudos to you for putting yourself out there. Good luck on the submission.

  8. Jennifer Jakes // February 5, 2011 at 11:34 AM  

    OMG! My hubby and I took that same cruise -- Key West and Cozumel -- several years ago! Your pictures brought back great memories and made me YEARN, yes, yearn, to take another cruise!
    So glad you had fun!

  9. Beth Trissel // February 5, 2011 at 11:50 AM  

    Mary, I love your post. What a wonderful time you've had.

  10. Emma Lai // February 5, 2011 at 12:37 PM  

    Way to go, Mary! It sounds like you got to conquer so many fears on this trip and had a blast doing it.

  11. Joanne // February 5, 2011 at 1:44 PM  

    This cruise sounds beyond wonderful. Every year I say I'm going to go. Let's hope for next year!

  12. Mary Marvella // February 5, 2011 at 2:07 PM  

    Great job, Mary R. Color me green here. I can tell I missed a wonderful time. I still want to meet you in person!

  13. Patrice // February 5, 2011 at 2:16 PM  

    So glad you had a fabulous time, and were brave enough to make new friends and pitch to an editor too.
    FRW is such a great group, very diverse, very talented, but mostly very much fun.

  14. Scarlet Pumpernickel // February 5, 2011 at 5:33 PM  

    Mary, thanks for sharing you cruise with us. I've always wanted to go to the cruise with your muse. One day, I hope to do just that. Maybe once I retire from teaching and have more free time. I love cruising. Haven't done one on this side of the Atlantic and it's about time I tried one.

  15. Margaret Tanner // February 5, 2011 at 5:48 PM  

    Great blog Mary, sounds like you had a ball. Only wish I lived closer then I could have come too.



  16. Mona Risk // February 5, 2011 at 9:35 PM  

    Oh Mary what a fantastic account of our Cruise Conference. I had the blues for a week after I came back and a stomach bug too. LOL But I would do it again without hesitation.

  17. Nancy J. Cohen // February 6, 2011 at 8:08 AM  

    This was so much fun to read, Mary. You've said it all so explicitly. You certainly accomplished a lot of "firsts" and can be proud of yourself.

    From my jaded viewpoint, with over 25 cruises under my belt, it was a delight to read your first-timers report. I got to experience the sense of awe and wonder all over again.

    The best part of the cruise/conference was just spending time with our fellow members and getting to know everyone in a relaxed setting.

  18. liana laverentz // February 6, 2011 at 8:41 AM  

    Yay, Mary! I'm so proud of you. I'm so glad you had a great time!

  19. Nightingale // February 6, 2011 at 11:58 AM  

    Oh Mary, it sounds like you had a fabulous time and I'm delighted you got to pitch to the editor. Fingers crossed for you on that. I wish I could have been there. I'm sure I would have enjoyed the bar, the fancy drinks and dancing!

  20. Mary Ricksen // February 6, 2011 at 1:41 PM  

    In my heart I hope that everyone of you can come next time!!! I appreciate all of your comments and I can't believe I had the guts to do it. Something possessed me and I just jumped in! I am so glad I did!!

  21. Hywela Lyn // February 6, 2011 at 4:52 PM  

    Mary - late jumping in here as usual, dear friend.

    First off, well done for conquering your fears and just going for it, despite the disappointment of not being able to share the experience with Sharon, as you'd both planned. It sounds like the most fantastic experience and I've loved being able to share it with you through your words and pictures. I would love to do a 'MuseCruise' but until I win the lottery and fly over the pond it's not likely to happen, but one can dream!

    I'm so glad you were able to pitch your book. Wishing you all the luck in the world - and yes, I certainly felt the vibes - in fact I got slightly seasick! :)

  22. Demi Alex // February 7, 2011 at 8:57 AM  

    You certainly were not a wallflower! It was such a pleasure 'confrencing' at sea with you.
    Tackling your fears only makes it better.
    I'm so happy you came with us.
    Your report is nice and detailed. Makes me want to go back...now.
    See you Saturday.