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  • Writer's pictureMichael Parker

Cruise Control

June 30th.

It all began in Juneau; panhandle capital of Alaska. That’s where my first novel, North Slope, opened. And that’s one of the reasons we wanted to cruise Alaska: to see just what it was like. Although my book was published thirty five years ago; a curiosity about the country has always been part of mine and Pat’s life. Pat’s more so than mine. As an author, I suppose it’s natural to forget about the places in which the stories are set, but for Pat it meant so much more: her husband’s first novel. So we set sail, not like the gold diggers of the nineteenth century, but like modern day pioneers, well cossetted on our magnificent cruise ship, the Ruby Princess and headed north to Alaska. And what an amazing place it turned out to be. What helped me was that I started reading James Michener’s book about Alaska; it’s history and the gratuitous violence from settlers, fortune hunters, pirate sea captains and other so-called entrepreneurs that coloured and stained the birth of a magnificent country. But as they say: its all history now. We saw huge, snow-capped mountains, glaciers, floating ice: some as big as a small lorry. We didn’t see any whales but could have done if we had gone on a whale watching cruise as some of the passengers did. We met some lovely people, had a lot of fun, walked our legs off and just soaked up the history and natural glamour of the place.

One thing I didn’t do was write; it was the furthest thing from my mind really (metaphorically speaking). I kept an eye on my book sales though until I lost the Wi-Fi connection to my phone. After that I didn’t worry too much about whether I’d sold a book or not. But now we are back in harness so to speak, I am about to catch up with most aspects of my literary world, not least putting another promotion in place. I also have to make contact with Kim’s Bookshop in Chichester where she has on display several books from the CHINDI group: the local writers group of which I am a member. I will be taking a couple of my titles in with me to replenish any of mine that have been sold.

This coming weekend we are off to a wedding. We’ll be travelling up to Norfolk on Friday, returning Sunday. Hopefully after that I will then be able to settle in to a writing routine and make progress with my latest book. I’m 65000 words in so far, and still don’t know how it will end. That’s probably a good way of writing a thriller. We’ll be seeing some old friends of ours who were our neighbours in Spain for about eleven years. They moved back to UK last year, so we’ll have a bit of catching up to do. We’ll also be seeing another of our Spanish friends, Kath & Don, who we’ve known for about seventeen years now.

Along the domestic front are the usual hospital appointments, dental appointments, gardening to catch up on and a host of other things that most people deal with during the normal, everyday lives.

On the book front; my subscription list is still growing. It is now about 265. My free title The Eagle’s Covenant is still downloading daily. The average has dropped to about sixty a day, but it still manages to pick up excellent reviews. I won’t read my reviews, of course, and I do know that not everyone will like my style of writing, but my average rating for that book is still holding 4 stars; so I’m happy with that.

Next thing for me to do is download the photos of our holiday from the camera to the PC and put some of them on Facebook. Oh, I almost forgot: on the day we boarded our cruise liner, the Ruby Princess, we wandered around the ship to familiarise ourselves with everything. We found ourselves in the Wheelhouse Bar; an English pub. It was empty which gave us a chance to look around the place. On the walls were a lot of pictures in frames: all neat and tidy. But there was one picture that stood out. It had pride of place and was larger than the others. It was of an old ship. When I saw it, there was something about the single, yellow funnel that stood out. I went over to it and couldn’t believe it: the ship was the Chusan. This was the ship I had served on in 1958/59 as a steward. I got so excited, I was like a school kid. Naturally I took several photos of it and will be posting the best one on FB. It brought back so many memories of my time as a merchant seaman and my travels around the world as a young lad. Great stuff! See you all next week.

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