Queen Mary 2 – Author Visit

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Once in a lifetime, an author has an innocent conversation with a friend who is the Business Development Manager for the world’s best cruise ships.

This leads to all manner of dreaming and scheduling and before she knows it, she’s in the back of an UBER ride on her way to the famous CUNARD LINE Queen Mary II.

And yes… in my wildest dreams I would never have imagined this would be MY author adventure, but thanks to my fabulous friend Andrew Perry, it is.

And I am still pinching myself.

To continue the giddy-fest of drool-worthy photos of this magnificent vessel, I bring you the day Rel Mollet, (my part-time assistant, part-time photographer and full-time partner in author world adventures) and I, boarded this recently remastered flagship on its 2017 World Voyage – Melbourne visit.

What an honour to be invited to deliver copies of my debut Australian Historical Romance, Carry Me Home, for readers from all over the globe.

Here’s how we rolled…

 

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Really, truly…. our first ever UBER ride. Early morning excitement – before the wind tore up our hair.

 

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We’re official! Passed security and tagged for embarkation.

 

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Aboard the Queen Mary 2 with our escort and dear friend, Andrew Perry. I think he’s saying, ‘You should live onboard and write away each day in some sunny corner.’ And I’m saying, ‘I so should.’

 

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One copy each of Carry Me Home for the 3 Cunard Queens – The Queen Mary II, The Queen Elizabeth, and The Queen Victoria.

 

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With the QM2 Librarian, Nathan, and Sandy, QM2 Events Co-ordinator.

 

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Talking all things libraries and the habits of seafaring readers.

 

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Top shelf, centre…. goosebumps and cheesy author smiles.

 

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The Queen Mary 2 is the world’s largest floating library, with a backlit collection of over 8000 titles to cover the reading delights of its 2600 passengers and 1300 crew.

 

Queen Mary 2

After my author visit to the library, Andrew took us on a 3 hour guided tour of the QM2. Melbourne put on a glorious summer’s day and showered us in sunshine, befitting a ship so grand.

 

 

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The QM2 has 14 decks. I think we covered every one of them!

 

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Acres of fine dining.

 

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We worked up an enviable appetite and were delighted with our delicious luncheon. Thank you, Cunard!

 

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The Grand Lobby. Lives up to its name and then some.

 

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The Captain’s Table…, a little larger than the rest, to welcome special dinner guests.

 

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Part of the Royal Family photographs in the Grand Ballroom. I’m looking at an original photo of Queen Mary, after whom the ship was named. Bliss for a lover of all things historical.

 

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Aussie Pride on a cabin door.

 

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The view of Marvellous Melbourne from the top deck of the QM2.

 

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Author life. It’s a hard job. Lucky for me my assistant insists on afternoon naps. In the sun. On a luxury ocean liner. #dreaming

 

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Most passengers were exploring the sights of  Melbourne.

 

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So, take your pick of deckchairs.

 

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The spectacular Royal Court Theatre seats 1000 guests for movies and live performances to rival anything seen on Broadway or West End.

 

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Illuminations – The QM2 seriously has a planetarium! Seating almost 500 guests it also screens movies and features lecture programs.

 

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What a magnificent vessel! Why would anyone want to leave? A cruise onboard the Queen Mary 2 is now TOP of my wish list.

 

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Rel Mollet and I had to be lured into our ride home by this generous gift of CUNARD boxed chocolates. Otherwise we might have stayed forever.

 

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I’ve learned a lot in my short time as published author. Here’s what’s impressed me the most – My readers are the BEST PEOPLE around. They cheer me on, encourage my writing, and constantly surprise me with opportunities to speak and showcase my work. This time it was this guy. Thank you, Andrew, for your generous heart and invitation to come aboard. The author life is never dull and this week in particular, it was off the charts super spectacular. #literallyblownaway

 

 

 

 

editing, proofreading, and formatting

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In August, Carry Me Home received it’s final, full, deep editing.

This came after three weeks with the wonderful Margie Lawson from Denver, and her dear husband, Tom, who visited with us to run two Deep Editing Immersions and attend the RWAust conference in Melbourne.

Armed with the trusty Margie Lawson highlighting arsenal, I took my manuscript apart, page by page.

 

Each scene, each sentence, each word went through the refining fire of ruthless editing. A process which took close to a month to complete.

When I was done, I didn’t want to see a fluro marker or the story again. (Yes, this happens. It’s an author thing. We do recover but there are times we never want to look at the multi-highlighted pages EVER AGAIN.)

Thankfully, the fabulous Rel Mollet was on on hand to proofread one last time before Carry Me Home went off to the experts in Bangkok for print version and digital formatting.

 

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The editing process…delete, swap, add.

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One week into the final editing and the sticky notes were stacking up!

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Two weeks into editing… and I was running out of sticky notes.

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Week three… and that could possibly be blood on the title page.

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Done! Highlighted, annotated… now to apply to the version on my laptop!

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Printed… ready for Rel Mollet to proofread once last time.

The Costume Hunt

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Petticoats and Frills

So, I had a story.

And I’d decided to share it with my readers. Off it went for critical sessions with some of the best critique partners a girl could asked for. Back and forth, revisions and blood letting and more blood letting, until Carry Me Home was ready for big the guns ~ a hired editor.

While the book sat among her well sharpened knives, I turned my attention to that all consuming, non writing task… the book cover!

For as long as I could remember, I’d dreamed my own Honey-girl would model for the Carry Me Home cover photography. And once I’d booked the photographer, I knew I wanted to shoot all three Blue Wren Shallows covers on the same day. With said Honey-girl.

This meant hunting down all the costumes for the entire Blue Wren Shallows books series. And who better than to hunt alongside me, than Rel Mollet herself.

We headed off to Melbourne’s premier historical costume hiring warehouse, The Costume Factory, and rummaged through what felt like acres of exquisite costumery. One rack held all the costumes used in Heath Ledger’s Ned Kelly movie.

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Acres of Costumes

 

Right era… but nothing grabbed us for Finella, or our other heroines.

Each hanger sagged with not only the richness of upholstery fabrics used for their exquisite stage sway, but extra weights in the hems.

Soon, we found our arm muscles flexing more than we were used to.

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Rel made me!

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She started it!

That’s our excuse for giving into the giddiness that miles of dress-ups bring, even to the most grown-up.

By day’s end, we’d found a great selection and the following week, Honey-girl and I returned for a fitting.

When we’d decide on dresses, we added shawls, petticoats and bustles, shoes and even a wig. The ensemble was wrapped in plastic, the wig went into a bucket for easy transportation, and we were set for a day of photography on location, at the beaches of Phillip Island.

All we needed was good weather.

Not much wind, please.

The right light and NO RAIN.

And if you know Phillip Island, you’ll know this was some order. Tomorrow, I’ll share how that all played out!

 

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Honey-girl, dressed in yesteryear… not letting go of the modern day

 

 

Dotti

Buckle Up, Baby!

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Summer Smiles in the Phillip Island Sun

What’s a girl to do when she’s written a love story.

Share it with a friend, that’s what.

Only, my dear friend is not just a reader. She’s a reviewer and all round fabulous person with a heart for supporting authors.

Rel Mollet (go find her and show her some love – link here) and I share a wonderful sister bond. So when I decided to self-publish, Rel strapped herself into the rollercoaser beside me.

Like a faithful, God-sent hand from above, Rel rolled up her sleeves.

“Buckle up, baby,” she said.

And then pulled out the whiteboard and markers and FORCED me, yes forced me, to take a long hard look at my many options, my chicken-hearted fears, and my deep held desires.

In February 2015, on a sunny weekend at Phillip Island, we mapped out a strategy for the year ahead which cemented my self publishing foundation. Carry Me Home was a fully written book already but I had loads to do to clothe it for market.

With the aid of delicious food, hours in the water and mandatory movie watching, the plan came together. 2015 was to be the year.

And thank God we were only in February. I had a to-do list the size of a whiteboard.

But it was only February… and the water still warm… which begs the question:

Is that Dotti, the hard working author, splashing around in the waters of Phillip Island… or the equally hard woking Rel Mollet?

As we say in Australia…. What do you reckon?

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