Bonanza! And so this happened!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…..

…..So, those of you who have been here awhile might remember a little project called Random Contemporary.  Random Contemporary was a glorious rebellion on my part.  You know, me: the person who once purchased 500 business cards that specifically say “Historical Fiction Author.”

Revolution!

contractWell, now I guess I’ll have to slap a sticker on the back that says something like, But wait!  There’s more!  Random Contemporary (Real title: With Me Now) is being published!  I signed a contract with Evernight Publishing and I’m stoked!

Here, you’ll see the actual signing taking place.  Younger Child selected my hat for the occasion.  Pretty jaunty, if you ask me.  Aw, Random Contemporary: the little book that started out as a sarcastic joke and now will be published!  This means that Random Contemporary 2: Son of Contemporary is going to happen.

Unrelated: I’ve been living under a rock for the past, I don’t know, thirty years and just saw Tremors for the first time this week.  What a great movie!  Kevin Bacon, wow.  So imagine my disappointment when Tremors 2 did not include Kevin Bacon.  I fell asleep after thirty-five minutes.

Random Trivia: It may have taken me until 2015 to see Tremors, but I saw Critters in, like, 1987 and didn’t start sleeping with my feet hanging off the bed until recently.  The struggle is real, guys.  I was so petrified of that movie that I wouldn’t even touch the VHS tape.

In other news, I went to Claire’s today.  You know Claire’s, an explosion of pink and sparkles and sequins and glitter and ear-piercing guns and super happy music.  My sponsored child, Fatime, is turning 14 in a few weeks and, despite the fact I turned 14 in 1996, I have a vague recollection of what it’s like to be a teenager.

And then I bought myself earrings and a One Direction t-shirt.  Winning!

The cashier, who I assumed was 19, was ringing up my selections of hair do-dads and trendy (maybe? hopefully?) jewelry and then came to the t-shirt.  “Wow, you put together a great birthday bag, that’s for sure!”

“I’ll be honest,” my mouth said, “the t-shirt is for me. No Shame.”  Ha ha!  I’m a freak!

“Oh.  I don’t like One Direction.”  She pushed her glasses up her nose with one finger.  “I like New Kids on the Block.”

And then this awkward conversation happened where she admitted she was older than me and thought that Donnie Wahlberg was the creepiest creeper that ever creeped in the 90s.

#That moment when old fangirls unite.

So, wow, this summer is shaping up to be a tidy little adventure!  Two books coming out.  Weddings.  The fourth anniversary of my 29th birthday.  One Direction!

Oh, and a diet.  Yippee Skippy.

Back to the North: And it’s nothing but excitement

At the end of our vacation to Mississippi, The Hubs and I attempted to take a romantic shower together.  The Rowdy Boys were out with The In-laws and we had the entire condo to ourselves.  What says “entire condo to ourselves” like a romantic, hot shower together?

Regrettably, neither of us found being at the beach as a legitimate excuse to put on sunblock.  We were so miserably sunburned all we could do is say, “ehhhhhhhhh.”  I finally said something along the lines of, “I like you and all, but my skin hurts.”

S2Our last big hurrah in Mississippi was taking a ferry out to Fort Massachusetts, aka Ship Island, aka the place we’ve tried to get to four other times but have been stopped by winter, hurricanes, and tornados.  Literally.  We were actually evacuated to the Navy base and spent the night in a warehouse (my father-in-law was on active duty at the time) during Hurricane Gustav.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if God says, “This is it, Heather” and shuffles me into a warehouse with 500 sailors, soldiers, and fly boys, I will go.  And I will go with a smile on my face.

Anyway.

Fort Massachusetts is on an itty bitty island in the gulf and, prior to the Civil War, was built as a defense for New Orleans.  I saw an alligator.  I ate a hot dog.  I drank an itty bitty beer.  You know, I honestly have no idea what happened between me holding the sunscreen and it not actually getting on my body.  Putting sunscreen on my children is like trying to put cats in a paper bag.  It’s just exhausting.  And that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.  Anyway, the beach was fantastic.  The fort was fantastic.  The sunburn that literally left a trail a skin-dust behind me every time I moved, was not.  I wore shorts one day and Older Child looked at me in horror and said, “What’s wrong with your legs?”  The Hubs said I looked like I had some kind of fungus.

And this, people, is why I don’t go outside.

Meanwhile, I got my picture taken in my bikini because apparently ‘Moms in bikinis’ trended blew up the Internet or something whileS1 we were down wriggling in the South.  So, there you go.  I’m a mom in a bikini.  In Fort Massachusetts.

Speaking of the Civil War, I’m sad to note that the 150th celebration, aka the Sesquicentennial is pretty much ending.  April 9th marked the 150th anniversary of General Lee surrendering to General Grant at Appomattox Court House.  My guys are out there this weekend in an actual horse drawn artillery battery, so if you’re down there, tell them La Belle Rebelle says hello.  Man, that was a fast war.  When we fired the guns at First Manassas, I was pregnant with Younger Child.  Now he’s potty trained and likes being off the front porch like a man (his words, not mine).  Sigh.  We’re going to need to start prepping for the bicentennial now, because Lord knows I’m going to look like a maniac in my mid 80s running around in more corset and hoop skirt.  Stay tuned for that!

And speaking of anniversaries, let’s bid The Rambling Jour a very happy third anniversary!  I’m drinking Hypnotiq and ginger ale tonight in my own honor (Viva la France!).  Three years of blogging!

tattoo2It was just a wee bit depressing to come back to Western Pennsylvania after a week in the Sunny South.  Less barbeque.  Less sunshine.  But, when we got home (as in the next day) I went and got my second tattoo.  Yay!!  Check it: a bundle of poppies.  Not poppies as in OPIUM! but poppies as in, “In Flanders Fields the poppies grow…” because nearly all the men in my family have served in the military.  This is for them.  You’ll be excited to know that I won the award for handling rib tattoos the best my guy Will has ever seen.  And, as a side note, if you need a guy to do a tattoo for you, Will at Up In Arms tattoo is the guy to see.  He did both of mine.

So, back to the norm.  I still am staring at the starts of manuscripts to decide what my next novel undertaking will be.  I’m waiting with bated breath for inspiration to strike.  This summer is shaping up to be exciting and busy: weddings, the Maine Warrior Salute (be there or be square!), my book release party, and the One Direction concert!  Bring it.***

***And when I say bring it, what I mean is a blanket and a pillow because that sounds exhausting.  I’m crazy, but I’m old.  If you need me, I’ll be the one reeeeeeeally far away from One Direction, using binoculars to ogle Harry Styles.

The Deep South, part two: The Adventure Continues

I saw an alligator today and, let’s be real people, I was super excited.

In today’s edition of “I’m in the South,” I’m sunburned and Zayn Malik quit One Direction.  Jeez, it’s like becoming a fan of the Beatles in 1968 and Ringo quitting.  Seriously?  I just jumped into this fandom and you’re quitting?  Whatever, at least there’s still fabulous Harry Styles.

Anyway, so, today I did stuff that I’ll blog about tomorrow, but yesterday–yesterday–my friends, I headed to Louisiana.  Louisiana: home of the Louisiana Purchase, parishes, the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878 (RIP John Bell Hood), and New Orleans.  Yes.  The Rambling Jour takes on New Orleans.

la3But any respectable history chick starts a trip to New Orleans with a trip to Chalmette National Battlefield and Cemetery.  Here’s what I know about the War of 1812: Andrew Jackson was involved.  I can also tell you that Americans won the Battle of New Orleans, which was fought at Chalmette, and had like, 20 casualties whereas the British had around 2400.  Also: it took place in 1815, not 1812.  Which makes this the bicentennial year!  Yes!  I bought a sweatshirt.

Of note, you can see me here standing at a house that was not there at the time of the battle.  I was still very excited.  I was also one of the few people wearing shorts which, again, is another waving, spinning, firework shooting red flag that I’m from Pennsylvania.  The weather hit 65 degrees: boom, shorts.  I was actually paranoid that all the jacket/sweater/sweatpants wearing visitors knew something I didn’t about the weather.  But, whatever.  I’m Rick James, bitch.

Anyway, so we walked down the levee (fun fact: when I was in Louisiana in 2008 at the dawn of Hurricane Gustav, we went to a barbecue shack where a band was singing “Hooch” and I wrote my name on the wall while they sang, “Let’s get real, let’s get heavy, ’til the water breaks thela1 levee…”) and to the Chalmette National Cemetery.  There are soldiers buried here from the War of 1812 all the way up to Vietnam.  There were only four from the War of 1812 and only one of those was actually at the Battle of New Orleans.  His name, however, is unknown.  There’s around 15,000 buried there (this picture was of my favorite grave marker).  Regrettably, it wasn’t until after we’d walked out of the cemetery, did I see the sign noting that there is a female who dressed as a male to fight in the Civil War buried there.  Now that’s a stone I would have liked to see!

After leaving Chalmette, we made a left and cruised through the 8th Ward to get to New Orleans.  There is the second time I’ve been to the 8th Ward and, although it’s better, there is still visible damage from Hurricane Katrina.  They’ve come a long way.

la5New Orleans!  Ahh, New Orleans, you sassy, sassy girl.  What’s to say about New Orleans?  It’s unlike any other place I’ve ever been.  It’s gritty and old and scandalous and amazing.  A man wearing a cowboy hat asked me and my cousin Jilly if we were “home grown.”  I saw a man with a fabulous beard playing the fiddle.  I ate red beans and rice.  I used a public restroom in the French Quarter.  I was in the French Quarter!

I bought a t-shirt.

There are some amazing, amazing stores in the French Quarter.  I wandered into a shop with corsets and short, 50s style dresses.  Leather coats.  Phenomenal shoes!  Another shop had vintage 70s dresses.

I wanted to buy everything.  I settled for the t-shirt and the red beans and rice which,la2 not surprising, cost almost as much as the shirt.  Jilly got an alligator burger, which took about four decades to cook.  I told her it takes time to go out to the bayou and drag it back to the French Quarter.  She said whenever she imagined eating alligator, she’d had nightmares of getting a baby alligator on a stick.  I told her hopefully the burger didn’t have a face but, if it did, just to ignore the stunned look.  Personally, I wanted bayou rabbit which…now that I think about it, might have just been a fancy way to say alligator.  Or “crawdad patty.”

I also saw a fist fight in Jackson Square.  That was exciting.  Jilly said, “I saw him punch that guy!”  I think I sorely underestimated how nervous the whole situation should have made me.  The Hubs, Army veteran, only looked mildly interested in what was going on and, in fact, most other people standing around hardly looked like they cared.  So, I just idly stood around and pondered aloud what to do in this type of situation.  Do I film it for Facebook?  Do I take my pictures as planned and leave?  la4Do I grab my children and run, tucking and rolling, out of the square and back onto the street I just came from?

In the end, the police showed up, arrested everyone (well, everyone involved, not everyone standing around.  Obviously I’m not blogging from jail because this would have been a much more interesting post), I took my pictures and we left.  New Orleans!

I love New Orleans, I’ll be honest.  Old, grimy, and sometimes really questionable, but still a fab time.  Look how happy I look in this picture.  You can’t see the grizzled pack of thirty-somethings in dreadlocks that were just to my left.  But they were living the dream.  Let me tell you!

And now I need to find some aloe for my sunburned feet.  I’m pale and Irish-y and now I walk like a crippled leprechaun.  More on that tomorrow.

The fast talking Yankee heads South

I’ve taken my general awkwardness and weirdness on the road and am currently writing from the wilds of the Gulf Coast, where I’m blinding the populous with my Pennsylvania paleness.

The trip began as any decent road trip should: in the wilds of West Virginia.  And it’s a fourteen hour drive with two children age 5 and under!  Yay!  The name of the game is who can hold their pee the longest–the preschooler is winning.

We broke the fourteen hour drive into two days and multiple stops because a) the kids don’t want to be in a car for fourteen hours and b) I don’t want to be in the car with whining people.  Fair.  We got lost in rural West Virginia trying to find a Civil War battlefield which was interesting.  Thanks a lot, GPS unit.  Then we rounded a corner and found a gas station advertising gas for $1.99 a gallon, which made me think, “Wow–we go looking for a battlefield and instead find the year 2001!  Excellent!”

gulf2Eventually we did find the battlefield, Carnifex Ferry, where we were the only people at the park.  Probably because the park was closed (technically the visitor’s center was closed, but, you know.  It was still a wee bit strange) and it was raining.  We’re a hearty, rowdy crew, so we got out of the car anyway.  It was a small battlefield as battlefields go, with only around 7,000 on the field total and around 180 casualties.  There was a Confederate soldier’s grave on the property.  I spent like, twenty minutes staring down into a dark well, trying to take pictures because I’m weird and that’s how I roll.  But we love you Rosecrans!  They have a reenactment in 2015 and you should go.

As we wound our way through the humid South, my Pennsylvanian brothers and sisters were shoveling out from underneath snow because, hey, it’s Spring in Pennsylvania and nothing quite says spring like more snow and misery!  We went to Tennessee, which was awesome, and I ate at a Taco Bell, which was also awesome.  It was not awesome the next morning, but, you know.  Sriracha.

Our next stop was Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.  The Hubs quizzed me on what Western Theater battles of the Civil War I could name and, excitingly, I picked this as one of them (I also scored bonus points by guessing Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Murfreesboro).  Chickamauga was one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, with around 35,000 casualties in a two-day fight.  The field itself reminded me of Gettysburg, in a way, with a lazy, curving road running alongsidegulf3 open fields and woods.  Rosecrans fought here, as did our friends Longstreet and Hood (I may have squealed when I saw a market to my hero John Bell Hood).  According to what I learned, Chickamauga was second only to Gettysburg in number of casualties and was the greatest Union defeat in the Western Theater.

Some of the things that stuck most with me were the soldiers recollections of the battle, of men on the ground with their entrails piled up next to them, but still alive; of soldiers who had their jaws shot off–still attached to their face by the cheek–who were begging for water.  Chickamauga is actually the Cherokee word for “river of death” gulf1something that became a reality for those two days in September 1863.

We were the world’s fastest tourists, though, since we still had a 6.5 hour drive to go to Mississippi.  We literally jumped out the car and raced Older Child to monuments, snapped a picture, and raced him back to the car.  We speed shopped in the gift shop, selfied at the speed of light, and followed the abbreviated (and free) cell phone tour instead of the regular audio tour.  (Side note: the cell tour may have been the best invention ever.  Awesome in so many ways.  And, did I mention free?)

So, here we are.  Day two?  Day three?  I have no idea.  I just know that I’m writing beside the beach (mainly because I’m not a fan of sand in my crotch and prefer to be “at the beach”, not “on the beach.”) and that makes me happy..  Of course, after falling in love with Chickamauga, I now want to write about Chickamauga.  I have nogulf4 plot in mind.  But I want to write about it.

And, in other but somewhat related news, my official Yankee-ness has been confirmed: The Hubs found a long, not mentioned member in my West Virginia family tree of a Union soldier named John, who served in the 15th West Virginia Infantry.  He died at age 21 at Camp Chase, which is strange because Camp Chase was a Union POW camp.  It was, however, used as an exchange point and sometimes, those exchanged Union soldiers died there before they went home.  We’ve got absolutely nothing on him, other than that.  I almost went blind reading the death records on microfilm , trying to find his name and cause of death.  Nothing.  So, for now, John is a mystery.  More on this to come, as we’re going to write to the National Archives for more information and his military records.

Meanwhile, I’m here in the deep south, being pale and looking forward to what trouble I can get into when we go to New Orleans.  So much to see!  So much to do!  And finally: Ship Island, damn it, because it’s about damn time.

Stay tuned.

I’m much less glamorous and far more hobo

I’ve been working in the coal mines of Day Job the past few weeks and have been a mere shell of my normal, vivacious, sarcastic self.  Things have calmed down.  I’m probably not calm (case in point, last night I dyed my hair purple) but I’m focused enough to sit and stay in place long enough to write.

I tell you what, I’m the unhappiest writer right now.  This happened after I finished writing Anything You Ask of Me: I hate writing.  I’m not creative; I just want to sit and eat ice cream and watch RuPaul’s Drag Race (may the best woman win!).  I finished Since April and I basically want nothing to do with creativity.  My girl Lindsey (author extraordinaire and writing partner-in-crime) says this is my muse saying: hey.  I’m tired.  My muse and I apparently have similar personality traits this month because, I too, am tired.

Confession: I wrote some fan fiction.  And no, I’m not fessing up to what it’s about.

officialHere’s my somewhat official (aka as official as it’s going to get until the spring thaw and I climb down from Mount Doom, heading into the real world) author picture.  This is how I would like to think Writer Heather is.  Pale, yes.  Approachable.  Maybe a wee bit of crazy in the eyes.  But all around sweet and nice and fun and a really cool gal.  I’d like to think this is the look I’ll be pulling off at my book release party (perhaps less pale).  This is the confident woman who wrote a book and is preparing to peddle it to the nations (shameless self promotion: you can preorder at Amazon by clicking here)!  I’ll autograph your book!  I’ll take selfies with you!  I’m probably not as cool as I think I am, but I play well with others.

However.

Let’s discuss how I actually look when I write.  My muse likes to think we write in a huge, write room with a floor length window, overlooking…something…with a warm breeze blowing in and gauzy curtains blowing against a heavy wooden desk.  The only thing on the desk is my laptop, a mug of tea, and a lava lamp.  For reasons.  I’m impeccably dressed.

This sounds great, but here’s the reality of it: I sit under a down comforter, with my hair pulled back, and I frown a lot.  Thereallife Hubs took this picture when I wasn’t paying attention and, frankly, I think I look like a chicken hawk.  No makeup.  Possibly no pants.  That is the face of a writer that is not impressed.  Not.  Impressed.

And I’m perpetually cold, which explains the blanket.  Look, my book release party is in August and I’m willing to bet I’ll still be sporting a hoodie.  That’s how I roll (more on the book release party to come).

Anyway, so, right now I’m sporting that face as I work towards “other things.”  Right now, these other things are:

  • Keep submitting Since April to agents/publishers
  • Stop getting bummed out every time Since April is rejected
  • Narrow down the next writing project

For the possible writing projects, we have our two favorite contenders: a historical or a contemporary.  Two, contemporary projects actually, to choose from: weird or weirder.  Meh.  For now I’m going to bounce between all three and see what sticks. Like cooking pasta, right?  Slap it up against the wall and see if it sticks: if so, it’s done?  No, no, I’ve never done it.  I once heavily suggested we try it at a charity event, but we ended up eating a bunch instead.  Again, this is how I roll.  Obviously, like a boss.

Eating fudge and writing: Five minutes of living the dream

Last fall, I changed my schedule at Day Job and now work four ten hour days instead of five eight hour days.  This is exciting because, frankly, who doesn’t like a three day weekend.  I also feel as if I physically need ten hours a day to do my Day Job job duties, but that’s neither here nor there.  There’s no crying at Day Job.  It’s like Fight Club, but with less fighting and more singing and movie trivia.  Anyway.

Today is my flex day.  I’m still in this weird Limbo place between novels, trying to decide which plot idea strikes the most fancy with me, deciding, and then having a bizarre cheese induced nightmare that translates into a new, awesome story idea and just….look, long story short, I’ve got two word documents open and I’m bouncing between novel beginnings, just going with whatever comes to mind.  Two new characters, two new contemporaries (sorry historical fans), and waaaay too many ideas.  Simmer down now (Side note: why am I never wearing pants in my dreams?  Last night’s dream had me wearing a Pittsburgh Penguins t-shirt, striped socks and striped underwear.  Dream Heather realized this was a problem and went to Dream Macy’s clearance rack.  I just…I’m so weird).

Anyway, so, here I am: chilling on the couch.  Typing hilarious bits of sarcasm and a main character named Abby who talks to her cat (“Got no friends: hi five myself!”) and, trust me, it’s not as weird as it sounds.  The Hubs sneaks over to my writer’s nest and hands me a piece of fudge.  Glorious!  Is this what JK Rowling feels like?  iPhone blasting One Direction, wrapped in a down comforter, and wearing yoga pants and an old Army PT shirt, eating chocolate fudge and basking in the glow of a new novel and new characters and new ideas?  (Answer: Noooooo, that’s probably not at all how JK Rowling looks when she writes).  This is the life.  This is living the dream: eating fudge and writing and listing to music.  I am an author.  I am the creator of worlds.

At that point, one of my children walked up to me and shot me in the face with a Nerf dart gun.

And, welcome back to reality, Heather.

I remember the days of my youth when I laid around the house like a slug, just piles and piles of spare time and wallowing in the eternal decision of “should I watch TV?  Or write?  Or watch TV while I write?”  Endless hours of laziness and laying here verses there and playing Sim City on the computer and singing at the top of my lungs to the Lion King soundtrack and, eventually, sitting in my bedroom–lit only by the glow of a lava lamp–listening to NSync as loud as my little boom box could blast, and writing horror short stories about haunted houses because THAT’S what I do and I like it.

I’m not really all that different now.  I’ve exchanged the boom box for an iPhone.  NSync for One Direction (out of my way, teenage girls, I’ve been fan girling since before you were born).  I’m still writing.  And singing.  And generally being weird.  But, before all that happens, I first have to:

  • Wake up early(beat ya again, sunrise!)
  • Eat breakfast and drink coffee because look, people want to live
  • Commute to work (music!)
  • Commence in working
  • Eat lunch
  • Finish working
  • Commute to home (angry music!)
  • Make food for Rowdy Boys
  • Pick up food off floor because Rowdy Boys are uncoordinated and rowdy and boys
  • Bargain with Rowdy Boys to eat dinner and threaten to eat ice cream in front of them if they don’t
  • Watch Rowdy Boys eat vegetables and throw rest of dinner at each other.  Chalk this up as a win.
  • Put Rowdy Boys in bathtub and warn them not to dump water on the floor
  • Mop up water they dumped on the floor
  • Hide in the hallway and eat chocolate
  • Get caught eating chocolate by Older Boy who has managed to sneak out of tub like a ninja
  • Put Older Boy back in tub, yell at Younger Boy for peeing on Older Boy
  • Take Older Boy back out of tub and send him send him to his room to get dressed
  • Take Younger Boy out of tub, dry him off and get him dressed.
  • Drain tub, hang up towels, clean up toys
  • Find Younger Boy’s clothes and discarded diaper in hallway
  • Observe two naked children running through the house
  • Declare first person who pees on the floor is going to be in trouble and corral them back into pajamas
  • Clean up pee off carpet because Younger Boy isn’t potty trained despite ability to pee on command
  • Help Rowdy Boys clean up living room.  Reward them with cheese sticks.
  • Clean up living room again, as in the time it took to fetch cheese sticks, someone has dumped duplos all over the floor
  • Initiate bedtime sequence
  • Fall asleep on Rowdy Boys floor
  • Get woken up by The Hubs.  Take shower and put on pajamas.
  • Sit down to write.
  • Fall asleep on couch.
  • Get woken up by The Hubs.  Brush teeth.
  • Go to bed.

So, yeah, I might not be living the writer’s dream per se.  But it’s not bad.  I mean, I managed to finish three novels with a schedule like this.  Right now, I just need to decide which novel to work on and I’m golden.  I’m set.  Right?  Right.  But first: lunch.  Because adhering to a schedule is very important.

But while lunch cooks?  More One Direction and dancing.  Nothing embarrasses the men in my family more than me singing and dancing to boy band music.  Let the chorus of “awwww, MOM!” begin!

The one where I got sunburn in January

There was a brief, brief moment during our recent vacation where The Hubs and I almost got some great pictures of our cruise ship sailing away from Nassau without us.  Luckily, one of The Hubs qualities is an innate sense of direction.  Even when drunk, his internal radar got us from Senor Frog’s–a bar where even pedestrian’s need designated drivers–and back to the ship before it left.  Did he win a beer chugging competition?  Yes.  Was I in a drunk conga line?  Yes.  Did we pee in a government building?  Yes.

This year’s jaunt to warmer weather was to the Eastern Caribbean.  It was amazing.  The only downside to the cruise was the fact that, from the moment we got to Miami, we turned into the Rip Van Curleys.  I seriously have not slept that much in my life.  Example: From Nassau, we got back on the ship around 2pm.  I don’t actually remember getting back on the ship, but whatever.  We promptly fell asleep.  We slept from 2pm until 9pm.  Puked.  Ordered room service.  Then slept from 11pm until 8:30am.  We literally slept through lunch, dinner, second dinner, and midnight snacks.  This is not getting one’s money’s worth.

Nassau

nassauWe weren’t actually supposed to go to Nassau.  I mean, we weren’t scheduled to go.  We didn’t illegally cross borders or something and smuggle ourselves into Nassau when no one was looking.  We were supposed to go to Half Moon Cay, but there was a medical emergency onboard and we had to be diverted to Nassau.  As related above, I don’t remember a lot about Nassau.  In fact, the Senor Frog’s Swingers Club photograph here I don’t remember having taken.  But I look happy.  Anyway, while in Nassau, (and this was before Senor Frog’s) we fell in line with a random group of tourists all heading in the same direction, just to see where we’d end up.  The beach.  We ended up at the beach.  Still, this was exciting.  I watched a guy jump off a pier after his Starbuck’s cup.  I stood in some sand.  I drank a yard of beverage at Senor Frog’s, which was what The Hubs won after dominating a beer chugging contest.  A yard.  It’s no wonder I have no recollection of getting back to the ship.

St. Thomas

We went on a shore excursion in St. Thomas, which took us to some nifty historical sites on the island.  It also took us to the shopping district.  And when I say shopping district, what I mean is somehow we ended up going down the wrong street and st. thomasinto the Expensive Jewelry Stores of St. Thomas land.  I stood inside of Tiffany’s for a few minutes, pretending to browse, and I swear the horrified bald man behind the counter could smell the poor on me.  That’s fine, whatev.  We also went to a bar called Magic Ice which, although expensive, was a delightful little ice experience for people not used to cold.  We were bundled up in parkas and mittens and send into a 21 degree ice box, where, we could drink shots at an ice bar (literally carved from ice) and slide down an ice slide.  I heard a guy go down the slide and scream “It’s just like Pittsburgh!”  What’s up, Western Pennsylvania? Of course we’re hanging out in an ice box.  We know cold.  I went down the slide three times.  I also got my picture taken with a pirate at Blackbeard’s castle.  “I want to write about Pirates” I informed The Hubs.

San Juan

San Juan!  San Juan!  You’re amazing!  I loved San Juan.  We ate street vendor food in San Juan. We ran all over not one, but two forts.  Our tour group jay walked in front of a muscular policeman in bicycle shorts.  According to our tour guide, jay walking is legal in San Juan?  I’ll go with that.  We threw caution to the wind and walked back to the port instead of relying on san juanpublic transportation because why?  Because The Hubs can read a map and I can walk fast.  Look, I’m telling you, go to San Juan and eat delicious empanadas and little corn cake things filled with delicious hot cheese.

Our time spent at the forts was fantastic.  I said to The Hubs, “Now I really want to write about Pirates!”  The forts were from the 1500-1600s and were incredible.  From their start to now, the forts were never taken.

I also met a 7 foot tall Canadian.  There’s nothing out of the ordinary about this, I guess, but that’s the guy you want in your tour group because you will never, ever lose him in a crowd.

Grand Turk

After our trip to Half Moon Cay got cancelled and The Hubs and I were really sad because we were supposed to swim with stingrays there, we made ourselves feel better by booking an excursion called the “All Inclusive Beach Excursion.”  It promised food.  Unlimited rum punch.  A beach chair on a private beach and a water trampoline and drinking and sand and whatnot.

So, of course, it rained.

It didn’t just rain, but it poured all day long.  Two things happened because of this: we made friends with the coolest kids on the bus, who were just as sarcastic as we are (and he’s an Army kid just like The Hubs)  I knew we would be friends thegrand turk minute I heard him say, “Rain?  No.  This is liquid sunshine.  I wish it would rain more.”  Second, we took the party from wet beach chairs to wet deck chairs to the bar.  Once at the bar, things got real.  Immediate refills on rum punch.  A bar tender well versed in the art of peer pressure and giving free shots of the strongest rum I’ve had in my life.  A burly British man named Wolf.  This was the place dreams are made.  People kept saying that Kelly and I must be sisters, because we’re so much alike.  Darn right!  We laughed.  We ate pizza.  We caused general mayhem and then ate more pizza.

Our next cruise is already booked for January 2016.

Philadelphia

I’m only adding Philly because I’d never been there.  I ate a Philly cheese steak that was life altering.  Delicious.

So, there you have it.  Cruise 2015.  Now that we’re back to real life, I finished editing my next historical novel, “Since April” and got my submission packet ready to go.    And now it’s time reach into the bag of novel ideas and pick out the next book to write.  Pirates?  Paranormal?  Paranormal pirates (nah, it’s been done)?  Back to the Civil War?  Decisions, decisions.  It’s my ongoing battle.  Guess we’ll see which storyline wins out this time….

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