Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cruising with L C Hayden

Today I welcome L C Hayden to Terry's Place. Ever wanted to take a cruise? Ever wanted to do it for free? L C tells us how she does it. Welcome, L C.

On May 28 my husband and I will embark the Ruby Princess in Barcelona, Spain, and set sail on a twelve-day Grand Mediterranean cruise. The ports we will visit includes Monaco, Greece, Turkey (Turkey?) and Italy.

Naturally, my husband and I won’t be the only cruise passengers. We’ll be in a ship that holds thousands of people. What than makes this cruise so unique? The simple fact that the cruise for me is a working cruise and that makes it free.

Keep Reading...

This is the part where people’s ears normally perk up. How did I manage to get a free cruise? I am lucky enough to have been selected for the Author-in-Residence Program or whatever name the cruise line adopts. One day I received a call from the cruise people offering me a free cruise provided I did presentations during the days at sea. The interview took over two hours. When it was over, plans were made for me to go on a short trial cruise to the Caribbean.

While at the cruise, the captain, cruise director, and several other officers evaluated my ability to do the presentations and watched me as I mingled with the passengers. At the end of the cruise, the passengers were also asked for their opinions.

I passed the test and my reward was a longer Caribbean cruise. Since then, Princess Cruise Lines and the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines have sent me to the Mexican Riviera (twice,) Hawaii (twice) and now the Grand Mediterranean Cruise. Even though I have already established my reputation, I still go through the rigorous evaluations each time.

As an Author in Residence, I’m not considered a “real” employee of the cruise line, but I’m also not a “normal” passenger. I fall somewhere between the two. That means I have a lot of free time to enjoy myself, but at the same time, I’m expected to follow employees rules. Fortunately, they’re nothing more than simple guidelines such as no drinking in the bar, no short-shorts, and similar items.

During the time at sea, I’m expected to give a power point presentation about writing or my books. It lasts about thirty minutes followed by a fifteen-minute question and answer period. When that’s over, I sign books which the ship’s store carries. Prior to sailing, the cruise’s central office approves the titles and assigns each title its own individual number. That enters the book into their system and the ship’s stores are able to handle the books’ sales.

I am not allowed to sell books or any other item on my own. The passengers can, however, purchase books directly from me provided I use the purchase order form the cruise ship provides. All I have to do is have the passenger sign his name and write down his cabin number. I jot down the name and price of the book and turn it in to the ship’s main store.

The number of times I’m required make a presentation depends on the sailing schedule. I’ve done it as little as three times (when I sailed to the Mexican Riviera and when I did a seven day cruise to the Caribbean.) The most I’ve done it is eight times and that was on a sixteen day cruise to Hawaii.

Once during a Royal Caribbean cruise and once in a Princess Cruise, I was asked to hold a formal book signing where I sat down, people formed a line, and purchased the books which I signed. Other than that, the rest of the time is mine to do as I please. I take advantage of the ship’s facilities, enjoy the excursions that allows me to visit the points-of-interest at the various ports-of-call, and mingle with the passengers.

Many of them have become my readers and friends. They’ve signed up to receive my newsletter, purchased my latest mystery release Why Casey Had to Die as well as some of my back list titles. They’ve told me that they plan to purchase my future releases. Some have even pre-ordered my non-mystery young adult novelette Bell Shaped Flowers and that won’t be released until sometime later this month (February.)

When the cruise lines call, I always try to be available. However, life happens and I had to turn them down for back-to-back cruises to Alaska. My son was getting married at the end of the first cruise and at the beginning of the next. When I told them I was not available, I thought that would mark the end of my super job, but fortunately, they called me back later and offered me a cruise to Hawaii.

I’m lucky to have landed this “job”—but hey, somebody’s got to do it!

For more about L C Hayden, visit her website at http://lchayden.com. Or you can reach her via email at lchauthor(at)yahoo.com


Anonymous said...

LC ... too much fun! Good for you for getting this wonderful writing/traveling experience!!!

I love to travel and have, with my family, since our kids were little. They're grown and off now but my husband and I still get a trip in when we can. Our last junket was to Antarctica last Jan/Feb. There was a tiny library on the explorer type of boat and I donated my books. What a hoot. They'll forever sail the Antarctic waters and maybe someone will actually take them out of the library on occasion, tee hee.

I think what you're doing is clever, clever, clever. Good for you and good for the lucky passengers who are able to hear you speak and get a signed copy from you!!!

Keep it up!

:-) Joanne Sundell

Mary Ricksen said...

That is so great. Who would have ever thought a cruise ship would do that.
Ah yes, it is a rough job, but someone has to do it. Ha!
You have taken promoting to a new level. Good stuff!

jean hart stewart said...

Way to go. literally. I have good friends who do the same things with in depth lectures on the history of the places they're about to visit. What a good life...They travel a lot, the lucky things

Terry Odell said...

Thanks for stopping by, Ladies. Joan -- Antarctica? How cool! (no pun intended)

I keep hoping someday hubby and I can finagle a way onto a cruise -- he's a marine mammal expert. That ought to be good for something, and I'd be happy to do 'author' stuff.

Katie Reus said...

Free exposure and a fun trip :) That's so cool!

Anonymous said...

Upon reading the first line I had to remember that my wife wasn't writing today's blog.

Dan odell

Linda LaRoque said...

Wow! How fun. I love to cruise and am considering a book signing cruise with a bunch of authors in November.

I hope your husband is retired and gets to go with you often!


Terry Odell said...

Too bad, hubby -- but I'm game if you are. I'm sure I can clear my calendar.

chloedog1 said...

Wow! How super. A trip to Antarctica. What wonderful memories you must have.
You were really smart to leave a copy of your book at the ship's library. People at sea like to read and that provides great exposure. Good thinking--and thanks for pointing that out.
Have a great day.
L. C.

chloedog1 said...

I too was surprised that cruise ships did that--but, boy, am I glad they do. Cruising like this is so much fun--and inexpensive!!!
L. C.

chloedog1 said...

That would be cool if your friends and I sailed together or know each other.
It sounds like it's all part of the same program, I believe. There's Authors-in-Residence, historians, arts-and-craft folks, etc.
Tell them about me and we can look for each other on future cruises.
L. C.

chloedog1 said...

You bet it is--free exposure and a fun trip. I consider myself so lucky!
L. C.

chloedog1 said...

Hi Linda,
Best of luck with the book signing cruise with you and other authors. I hope it goes very well.
As the Author-in-Residence, I am allowed to take a guest and his cruise is also free. I've always chosen my husband. We both retired from teaching in 2001 so we're both free to travel. Yay!
L. C.

Beth Groundwater said...

My husband thinks you have a sweet deal, LC, and keeps pushing me to do the same. The first task is coming up with all those wonderful PowerPoint presentations (I know you worked hard on yours!), then there's Toastmasters training and some how distilling your perky personality into an elixir I can take. ;) Sigh, maybe someday I can follow in your footsteps.

Maryann Miller said...

Nice article, L.C. Good to get the backstory on how this all came to be. You know we are all jealous. Signing on a cruise beats the hell out of signing in Waxahachie. Although we did have fun there, didn't we.

Anonymous said...

Hi LC (waving from central TX),
Did you contact the cruise line the first time, or did they contact you? What a fun, fun, thing--I can certainly see how you'd be the gal for the job! : )

chloedog1 said...

Hey Beth,
Follow in my footsteps? No, no, gal. It's the other way around. We both started together with Five Star and you're way, way ahead of me. I'm in awe of you!
L. C.

chloedog1 said...

So good hearing from you!
Yeah, you're right. Signing in a cruise is a more exciting than signing in Waxahachie, but on second thought, that signing was a blast.

chloedog1 said...

Hi Drue (waving from west TX)
Good ol' Texas, eh?
I was lucky enough to do a presentation somewhere (no one is willing to tell me where.) Someone in the audience had a cousin who recruits authors for this cruising "job." He/she recommended me and the cousin contacted me, interviewed me and the rest is history.
Talk about being in the right place at the right time, eh?
L. C.

Anonymous said...

Terry, you have a "good thing going here" for us all ... soooo THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

I love to cruise, too, and think that getting a speaking engagement/job is an excellent way to do it.

As far as Antarctica goes, it was "great going" to say the least. I love all things animals and was blown away by the whales, the penguins, the seal, the albatross and I could go on and on and on. Then ... there's the ICE! There were folks on our boat (the Corinthian II ... WAS the National Geographic Explorer but that went down) from all over the world and that was a treat, of course. I loved flying from Colorado to Texas, then to Buenos Aires, then chartering to Ushuia (the most southern city in the world) and then embarking on our boat to the Antarctic Peninsula and a portion of Antarctica proper. The Drake Passage wasn't all that bad the days we traversed it and the ice moved out of the way long enough for us to make most of our zodiac trips.

I can tell you this much ... the scientists at some of the stations could ALL USE OUR BOOKS AND OUR BOOK TALKS! ANY TAKERS, TEE HEE!

Much continued luck to you, LC!


Anonymous said...

Wow what a great way to both promote your work and see the world. I'd be happy if somebody even visited my blog. Best of success to you and enjoy your travels

chloedog1 said...

Thanks for the good wishes--and let me know where you blog and I'd love to visit it!
L. C.

Ray said...

Now I'm jealous. I had to go to sea as a full time job to do that much traveling. the one thing I enjoy more than anything is just to look out at the water and let my imagination wander. When the weather is good there is no more peaceful place on earth.

The closest I ever got to Antarctica was sailing out of Punta Arenas, Chile through the Straits of Magellan.

LC, Do any of your novels take place on the water?