Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Retreat Guest Blogger Debra Parmley

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Originally from Ohio, Debra now lives near Memphis, Tennessee.. She has lived in six states and traveled extensively. Debra is the author of two western historical romances, A Desperate Journey, and Dangerous Ties, available in eBook. Print release for Dangerous Ties is April, 2013. Aboard The Wishing Star will be released Oct.11, 2012. Trapping the Butterfly, a 1920's romance set in Hot Springs, will be an April 2013 release.

The Romance of Cruising

Anyone who has cruised the seas or who has watched "The Love Boat" knows there can be romance to sea travel. Feeling the wind in your hair, the endless ocean views, stars twinkling above a darkened sea, the setting sun and exotic ports of call, all can set the mood for love. Yes, this is cliché, but onboard ship it is also a real experience, not only a daydream.

Cruising by its very nature is romantic. Many people remember the popular American television show The Love Boat, which aired on ABC from 1977 to 1986 and was watched all around the world. The show was based on a 1976 made for TV movie based on the nonfiction book The Love Boats by Jeraldine Saunders, who was a cruise director. The sitcom was usually set aboard the Pacific Princess, a Princess Cruises cruise liner.

It might seem unlikely but aboard a ship filled with hundreds, even thousands of people, together time for two still happens. So many things can be arranged. A table for two at dinner, lounge chairs side by side at the pool, dancing together in the evening followed by a walk around the outer deck, and then there are the private cabins with balconies. For couples wishing to spend their honeymoon or anniversary onboard a cruise, many options are available.

Read an excerpt
I spent several years as a travel consultant and have arranged many such trips for my clients. I have also sailed on many cruise lines and on many ships. I love being at sea. So it's no surprise I would set one of my romance novels onboard a ship sailing the Caribbean. My third book, Aboard the Wishing Star, is the story of Kara, a widow who sails away thinking she has escaped her problems only to find they have followed her.
One of the problems Kara deals with is a phobia of deep water, a fear of drowning. You might ask why she goes on a cruise if she has this fear. The answer is, she wins a cruise for two and invites her best friend, Viv. Now you might be thinking even that wouldn't be enough of an incentive and while it is true there are people with water phobia who would never cruise no matter how great the incintive, there are people who would. How do I know this? Because I am one of them.

I have a water phobia which I have had since I was a small child. I'm not sure where it came from, there are no stories of me almost drowning, but there it is. I didn't learn to swim until I was in college and only then because it was a requirement for graduation at the private women's college I attended. I took the "timid non-swimmers" class and I passed, but just barely. The instructor told me I was the first truly phobic student she'd ever had. Today I will swim in a lake or ocean but only with a life vest on and I can swim in a swimming pool but only with flotation. Why? Because without flotation I tend to freak out and cannot hear anyone who is yelling at me. Anyone trying to save me had better get behind me so I don't hurt them. I'm simply not capable of intelligent coherent thought when that phobia strikes. And yet, I love the sea and I love sailing. I love the ocean and the beach. Nothing feeds my soul quite like it, so I am always drawn back no matter how far away I live from the beach. I love to snorkel and I have even gone tubing (though just one time for that because it felt like I was going to drown) and I once walked the plank of a pirate ship off the coast of Grand Cayman. I've pushed myself to my limits, always with flotation of course. I love the ocean too much to stay away from it, even with the phobia.  

So I can relate to Kara, a little bit when it comes to swimming in the ocean. The scenes where Nate teaches her to snorkel are my favorites and I'm hoping they come across well to my readers. I admit to being a little nervous about this. Perhaps this is normal when an author puts a little bit of herself into one of her characters, particularly when it involves a phobia. But I went out on that limb and here I am. That's what I do with this phobia. Every so often I go out on a limb.

That's what Kara must do. Go out on that limb, taking a chance on a shipboard romance, which is always a chance because who knows what will happen once they disembark? And that's one of the more risky things we do, if we've ever been deeply hurt, taking one more chance at love.


Aboard the Wishing Star is an Oct. 11th release and that's tomorrow!

To celebrate my new release, I'm celebrating all week and so excited to be here at Lucy's Online Reader Retreat. Thank you, Lucy!

Let's Chat:
Leave a comment below, I'll be stopping by to chat with readers.  Here are a few questions to help you out. What do you think of cruises? Have you ever been on a cruise? If you have never been, would you like to go? Do you have a phobia and if so, how have you handled that?

62 comments:

brandi said...

Welcome, Debra. I would love to go on a cruise buy don't have the funds to do it. It is one of my bucket list things.
How long have you been writing?

aimeef said...

Hi Debra,
I recently went deep sea fishing and found out that I get seasick! I was fine as long as the boat was moving, but as soon as it stopped...not good! Is a cruise ship easier to take than a smaller vessel? Looking forward to your imput.
Aimee

Herding Cats - Burning Soup said...

Congrats on your soon to be release! I love when I'm reading a book and find out the authors put a bit of themselves into it.

I've been on one cruise and loved it. Hopefully I'll get to go on another one some day.

I've got a bit of a bug phobia. How do I handle it? Screaming like a girl and moving very very quickly.

Neomie Lemke said...

I have never been on a cruise but would love to go. I hope to take one in the next few years. I have wanted to do a Mediterranean cruise or some other european venture.

I don't know if it qualifies as a phobia but I HATE steep hills or stairs. They make me so nervous and I avoid them at all costs. Especially driving them.

calstephanie said...

Hi Debra!

I think cruises are great. I've never been on one, but think I would like to, but then I think I'm not a great swimmer and I wonder how I'd handle being out to sea where you see nothing but water. LOL I have been on boats before, so I'd probably be okay, but sometimes when I think about it it makes me nervous. LOL I have been contemplating a cruise to the Bahamas for my birthday next year though. :D

calstephanie said...

What made you choose to write in the historical genre?

PrincessFiona01 said...

I've always loved the romances set on cruise ships. I have several vintage Mills & Boons from the sixties and seventies set on cruise ships.

debraaparmley said...

Brandi, I hope you get to go on that cruise soon! Those bucket lists give us something to save for and strive for. A cruise is a great one to put on that list!

I've been writing in one form or another since I was a young girl.

debraaparmley said...

Aimee, I have been seasick once when we skirted a hurricane. So I know the feeling, though luckily this only happens to me when the seas are rough.

Cruise ships have stabilizers which keep the swaying down to such a minimum it can be hard to tell you are even at sea.

There are preventative measures you can take and there is always a ships Dr.

The cure for mine was eating dray crackers and apple slices while avoiding liquids. It's amazing how fast that worked.

debraaparmley said...

Herding Cats - Burning Soup, what a fun name/handle you have! Thank you!

I hope you get to go on another cruise very soon.

Bugs! I have a female friend who was in the marines and she has a spider phobia. So you are in good company. :-)

debraaparmley said...

Neomie, the Mediterranean cruise are wonderful! We went on a 14 day Med. cruise with my in-laws to celebrate their 50th just before I closed my travel consulting business. It is such a beautiful part of the world to see. I hope you get to go on that cruise soon.

Avoidance of the thing you are afraid of is part of having a phobia. Stairs can be one. Steeps hills. Maybe heights? Driving steep hills can be a real challenge even if you aren't phobic!

Blogless Pat said...

Hi Debra,
Like brandi I too would love to cruise but the cost holds me back. I've been out on one day cruises they used to be very big in Florida when there where no casinos because once out on the open water the little casino on the ship opens up. My parents retired to FL so when I took my vacations I headed to FL in the winter time and a day cruise was usually on the agenda.

debraaparmley said...

Hi Calstephanie!

A cruise tp the Bahamas is a great way to start! The shorter cruises are a good way to test whether you like them. (Though to be honest, I never had a client who did not enjoy the cruise I sent them on.)

Most of the cruise ships are so big you could spend so much time enjoying the ship you'd even forget you are at sea unless you looked out the window or walked on the upper decks!

Many people are nervous about their first cruise. That is quite common. Just like taking your first trip by plane or by train.

If you go on a birthday cruise, the whole dining staff can sing happy birthday to you and there are other surprises and fun things your travel professional can set up for you. ;-)

debraaparmley said...

Calstephanie I have always loved history, even as a small child, so I was naturally drawn to writing historical romance.

The one I am working on now, which comes out in April, is set in 1920's Hot Springs. AR which was quite the glamourous place when the gangsters used to go there on vacation.

debraaparmley said...

PrincessFiona, I would love to read those! Must start searching for them once my deadline for this next book is met. Thank you for telling me about them!

debraaparmley said...

Blogless Pat, I hope you get to go on a longer cruise soon. They are much more restful.

I've enjoyed a couple of one day cruises, which are great for dinner, gambling for those who enjoy it and a show. It's a different types of cruise though.

When you set sail for at least a three day, it's a more relaxing trip.

I've had some people tell me they don't even begin to relax until day two of their vacation.

debraaparmley said...

I must take a moment to apologize to everyone for my delayed arrival. I'm on central time here in Memphis and had an early morning eye exam. They dilated my pupils and it has taken much longer than usual for them to come back to normal for me to be able to read the print here to reply!

It's lovely being here and chatting with you and I'll stay past my 2 hr time slot for anyone who wishes to chat.

Blogless Pat said...

Debra,
I can definitely understand that having worn glasses most of my life. But now I have a new lease on life. Had cataract surgery and now the lenses are in my eyes, though I need reading glasses for my books and the computer. Those I get in the dollar store; no more prescription glasses amazing.

debraaparmley said...

Blogless Pat, it's amazing the things they can do now with lazers and surgery! I'll bet it's nice not to have glasses perching on your nose and ears! :-)

I did also about lazer but I am now having to wear bifocals and they said they could only fix one half. I'd still have to wear glasses! I said pfft to that.

debraaparmley said...

that should say ask about. See this is one reason I was waiting to let the eyes settle down. I want to make sense! lol

debraaparmley said...

Tonight is game night and I'm hosting travel triva on my facebook page along with Linda McMaken. So I hope everyone will pop in and try their hand. There will be prizes! :-)

brandi said...

Thanks for coming!

mary f said...

I've never been on a cruise But I'd love to. The question would seriously be destination. There's so many places I'd like to see.

calstephanie said...

I'll have to remember that about birthday cruises if I go! :) Thanks.

That's great that you're using your love of history with your writing. :) Your new book sounds intriguing.

debraaparmley said...

It's a joy to be here Brandi!

Thank you for coming!

debraaparmley said...

Mary f, it's like deciding which candy bar to buy. They're all sweet and yummy but some you might like more than others. ;-)

There are questions I used to ask my clients abut what their interests were, what they liked to do on vacation, their dreams ...

A good travel consultant (or travel agent) will find out something about you and your interests rather than just trying to sell you on a trip.

Not everyone likes Snickers and some people are even allergic to peanuts. ;-)

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I've never been on a cruise, but we've discussed one to Alaska and maybe one to the Fjords of Norway. It's not fear of water, it just doing it. My hubby doesn't wear suits so I guess he'd starve if we went on a cruise since he'd not be able to enter the dining room in shorts and a T-shirt. ;)

Good luck with lots of sales.

Shelly said...

Debra - I am water phobic also. I have taken swimming lessons 3 times, and still can't swim. I love going out in a boat, but always with a lifevest. The only cruise I think I would like to take is an Alaskan cruise. I am not fond of the beach :o)

debraaparmley said...

You're welcome calstephanie!

Thank you! I hoped it would be. :-)

debraaparmley said...

Paisley, I haven't been on either of those cruises but from talking to other travel professionals and cruisers who have, those are good ones.

You'd be surprised at the arrangements a good travel consultant could make for you, down to the details such as arranging for a tux rental for your hubby for a formal captains dinner. ;-)

I once helped with a prize Brenda Joyce had given. She had a Irish contest which had the lodging arranged for her prize winners. Her PR person called me to help with the extra details. The lodging was a bit of a ways from the airport. By the time I was done, I'd set up a limo to take them there and added in a free side tour. It's the little extras that set travel consultants apart from travel agents.

If your husband is against wearing suits for any reason, there are options for that also. The buffets on the ships have delicious food with a less formal atmosphere. Cruise lines and ships can also vary in their dress codes. ;-)

Thank you for the good luck wishes! :-)

debraaparmley said...

Shelley, I can so relate to that! My swimming consists of not putting my head under and only putting my face in when the snorkel gear is on! (Still I do love it. The fish are so beautiful.)

An Alaskan cruise would be wonderful. Lucy went on one recently and I enjoyed the pics she shared. :-)

Many people think of cruising in terms of beaches but there are so many other options. Alaska as you mentioned, European River Cruises, China, the list goes on ...

robertsonreads said...

Hi Debra,
I've never been on a cruise but I would be open to doing so.
And, I guess you could say I have a phobia regarding marriage. I was married 10 years, divorce took close to 2 years and I've been divored 14 years. I don't think I will ever get married again, nor live with someone. At this point in my life, I am content living by myself, and don't anyone living with me. I couldn't go through another divorce such as that.

Thank you for being here at the ORR, your time is greatly appreciated.
Ginger

debraaparmley said...

Ginger, I'll bet you would love a cruise! There are many ladies who go on cruises with their best girlfriends and have a great time! (Though you don't have to do that to have a great time. There are themed cruises where people share common interests and make new friends.)
In fact, there are cruises for romance readers!

Gosh, that would be fun!

Much as I love stories about couples and happy ever afters, I'd be the last person to say everyone must be married. I'd much rather everyone be happy and living a joy filled life.

That's the thing. If you can live in your joy, it is a good life, whether married or single.

Wishing you joy! And thank you!

Jane said...

Hello Debra,
I enjoy cruises and have been to a couple of Caribbean cruises. I would love to go on a Mediterranean cruise some day.

debraaparmley said...

Jane, the Caribbean is my favorite place to cruise. The Mediterranean is a close second. You would love it!

Sia said...

Hi Debra,
I was going to write that I've never been on a cruise and realized that I have actually been on a cruise boat! Didn't get to enjoy the luxurious side of it, just spent a night down in the economy bunker beds on my way to my first summer exchange. The return trip was much nicer with a few fellow exchange students tagging along. It was daytime and we sat outside enjoying the sun.

On the other hand, I've spent plenty of time on a dinghy this summer sailing in the archipelago. It was a truly special experience! I was overly optimistic about the distance to one of the cruise ships and almost crossed paths with it! Thankfully I survived to tell the tale of my silliness...

I don't really have a phobia that could be classified as such, but after some trouble with bugs at my previous residence I'm now really bothered by the sight of them :/ Not a phobia for romantic tales, that's for sure.

On another note, where do your ideas come from? When you include part of yourself in your books, how does your mind work/what do you do when the settings become more fictional, that you haven't personally experienced before?

debraaparmley said...

I'm popping out to get things together for the travel trivia game tonight. Hope to see you there!

And I'll stop in later once the game is over to catch up on any posts here.

It's so much fun talking to y'all!

debraaparmley said...

Hi Sia! I almost missed your post before popping out.

What adventures you have had!

My ideas come from all over. With my first book which is set on the Old Chisholm Trail which ran from Kansas to Texas I had to do a lot of research on the geography and the towns. For instance, Red Rock Station is now nothing but a rock today. With writing about places I have been, set in a contemporary, there is none of that research.

Or perhaps I should say it taps into the many hours of research iI put into my travel consulting job as well as the many hours spent traveling.
This book was easier to write as far as the setting because I simply tapped into what I already knew.

Judy said...

Never been on a cruise. I'm envious of those who are able to go, especially you, Debra! Good for you for facing down the fear. I'm extremely claustrophobic. The thought of being trapped on a boat for any amount of time is enough to start my heart racing. It might be open to the air, but it's still an enclosed space. When I lived in England I was beginning to have problems because I could reach the ocean in less than a day in any direction. Yep, it's that bad. I was craving home where the ocean was a day away in one direction and a week in the other and "forever away" to the north and south. Best wishes on your release!

Shaunna said...

Debra,
-{wave}-
Company this morning so i'm really late. You had fun here so WOOT on for the evening games!

jude urbanski said...

Debra, super post! I understand in that I almost drowned in a pool when I was young! Water though releases such positive ions that I love it with a passion now!

joder said...

I've never been on a cruise but would love to go on one. I'd love to meet new people as well as gorge on all that buffet food. I've heard the Alaskan cruises are gorgeous!

gogi1_2 AT yahoo DOT com

L McMaken said...

I can say I got a sneak peek - and it is a really awesome read! Very different setting, very different characters, and as someone who is scared crapless of the water - I could truly empathize with the heroine.

Linda Henderson said...

Since I don't swim and am afraid of the water I've never been on a cruise. Don't want to go on one either. My two big phobias are the fear of water and heights.

Jan Douglas said...

I have never been on a cruise. Not real sure I'd like it.
As for phobias I really don't like heights. So I pretty much stay on solid ground.
My sister has a good one--spiders. She has this whole spider dance thing goin' on. It's pretty funny to watch.

Tammie - Night Owl Reviews said...

LOL I fell asleep just as I was going to post. My surgery is taking a bit out of me. I would love to take a cruise at some poin. I don't get sea sick. I used to often take big ferry rides in Alaska. That was like one star service :). A five star cruise would be fabulous. Tammie

SiNn said...

I have never been on a cruise would i like to go sure if my bettter half wa swith me tho after seeing afew sinkings and such im alil leary about going on one but id go

and honestly im clasutrophobic my cure dont go in to super tuight spaces

debraaparmley said...

Judy, if I had a magic carpet I'd whisk you off to the Grand Canyon. Great big open spaces, beautiful everywhere you turn and so very peaceful.

Thank you for sharing your phobia here. It must be a huge challenge.

And thank you for the good wishes!

debraaparmley said...

HI Shaunna!

The trivia game was fun! Even with the facebook snafus. I'm beginning to think it would not be facebook if there weren't snafus. :-)

debraaparmley said...

Jude, thank you!

Yes, I have a love/fear relationship with the water. I love the water when it is soothing and I enjoy water zumba, but when the phobia hits I am not a fan of the water at all. lol

Those water ions. I must read up on that. :-) Thank you!

debraaparmley said...

Joder, it is everything people claim it is! I hope you get to go on a cruise soon. :-)

debraaparmley said...

Oh gosh, thanks Linda!

You just made my release day even better. :-)

debraaparmley said...

Linda, I can understand that.

Water phobics fall into two categories as far as cruising. Ones who want to and ones who have no desire to.

Perhaps you can enjoy armchair cruising. That's the beauty of a book! :-)

debraaparmley said...

Jan, my dad is afraid of heights. He won't go near the edge of anything if there is height to it.

I have a female friend who was a marine, kind of a laura croft kick butt type personality, but she is afraid of spiders. I've told her you take care of any bad guys for me and I'll take care of the spiders for you. lol

I'll bet it's fun watching your sister dance around. There's nothing quite like being able to tease a sister is there? Aww but we love them. :-)

debraaparmley said...

Tammie, I hope you're recovered soon! Thank you for staying up and taking time to post.

Ferries can be fun!

Oh yes, if you enjoy the ferry you'd love a cruise. I hope you get to enjoy that one day. :-)

debraaparmley said...

SiNn, A good cruise for you would be a cabin with a balcony since you aren't water phobic. That makes your cabin feel bigger and there's nothing like those fresh ocean breezes or watching the sun come up or go down over the ocean. I hope you get to try that one day. :-)

debraaparmley said...

The trivia game last night was a bit challenging on my end, facebook giving me headaches. So I wasn't able to pop back over here until well after midnight central. By then I was nodding off, so I made the call to go to bed and come back here in the morning.

Since today is release day for Aboard the Wishing Star I needed my beauty sleep! lol

I'm so thankful for all your comments and really enjoy getting to know so many of you. Thank you for stopping by to say hello and share a bit of yourselves with me.

debraaparmley said...

Lucy, thank you so much for holding the wonderful online retreat and creating a place for us all to meet and enjoy getting to know each other.

Infinite love and gratitude for all you are and do! <3

Shadow said...

Hi! Your story sounds cute! Ive always loved these type of romances. Im a bit jealous of the traveling. :) And your not alone with the water phobia. Im the same. I cant swim but im terrified of water. My biggest fear is drowning. *shudder* Thanks for sharing!

flchen1 said...

Very cool, Debra! Congrats on Aboard the Wishing Star! I have been on a short river cruise in China, but have yet to try one of the bigger cruises on the ocean--the kids would love it, I think, so we're trying to decide whether we can swing it as a family! Keep on writing!!

debraaparmley said...

Thank you Shadow!
When I was in high school I used to say I was going to travel the world but then I got married at 18 and had my first child at 19. So when they were older I started traveling and eventually went into the travel business.
Much of what I made as a travel consultant went into taking me around the world. I was never going to get rich at that job because I spent it all on travel! LOL

debraaparmley said...

Fchen, thank you!

I haven't been on a Chinese river cruise but it sounds marvelous.

If you have a family budget for travel, letting your travel professional know what that limit is will help them bring that dream to reality. Special sales come up all the time. (Or used to. I suspect they still do.)