Blog Tour: Open Seating

Welcome to the second stop on my blog tour for Open Seating. Instead of sharing an exclusive excerpt of the book I thought I'd talk about my inspiration for this story. Traveling has always been a passion of mine, and I've had the good fortune of seeing many beautiful and exotic places in this interesting world of ours, but always by plane, bus, or car. Cruising was something I associated with rich or retired folk until I met someone who'd been on many cruises and she set me straight.  

I went on my first cruise when I was forty-five. I couldn't afford to go, but my birthday was coming up, and I needed to get away. Up until then, my life revolved around work, my husband, and four sons ranging in ages from five to seventeen. As you can imagine, life was hectic, and there wasn't much time or money for a luxury vacation. That being said, I was determined to spend my big birthday doing something for me. Hubby offered to stay home with the boys if I could figure out how to go on a trip without impacting the household budget. My mission was to find the "deal." I had two friends, also with limited funds, who wanted to come along, so we put our heads together and searched until we found something we could afford---a great deal on a seven-day Carnival Cruise to Mexico leaving out of Los Angeles.

I lived in the Bay Area at the time, so getting to LA to catch the boat wasn't difficult. To avoid airfare, we drove, taking turns during the eight-hour drive. At the time, I thought the most important thing was raising enough money to get on the damn ship. No one told me that alcohol wasn't included in the price, and, oh, by the way, you needed money for on-board purchases, and tips were not included but expected! If I had bothered to read the small print, before making the purchase, I would have known this but…details.  

Our tiny cabin was in the bowels of the ship, too close to the engines, with no windows of course, and a twin and bunk bed crammed into the tiny space. It was small!  And noisy! And a little claustrophobic, to be honest, but hey, we were cruising!

The first thing we did was go up to the top deck. There was a mariachi band playing the usual cheesy music and passengers who’d arrived early were already mostly drunk. Eager to join, I reached for an umbrella drink off the tray being passed around by cute cabana boys in short shorts, and my friends grabbed their own as well. My eyes bugged out when I signed the slip. The watered-down drinks in pretty glasses---yours to keep---were $6.50 each. Yikes.  At that rate we'd each have to sell a kidney before disembarking. 

The photo below is just for inspiration. These hotties weren't included in the price, and besides, do they look like they'd be remotely interested in three soccer moms?  Not a chance.   

My guardian angel must have been keeping a close watch on me, because the next day we wandered into a BINGO game in progress. After purchasing three cards apiece, we sat down to play. Would you believe I won the jackpot after only ten minutes! I’d never won anything in my life before that, and lo and behold, five hundred big ones! We ended up using the money to cover a lot of our shipboard expenses. 


Since then, I’ve been on many cruises, but none of them were quite as memorable as my first. Writing a story about a shipboard romance took long enough, but I’ve learned not to dictate to my muse, and I let the stories come when the time is right.

Open Seating is the first book in a planned trilogy. My character Seth lost his partner of twenty years to suicide two weeks before embarking on a much anticipated vacation. Like most people who experience the sudden death of a loved one, Seth goes through different stages of grief: denial, anger, and depression. He finds solace in an unexpected source; his late partner's gym buddy. Bryce is his polar opposite in every way, including his no-nonsense approach to sex.. People cope with loss in different ways, and Seth soon discovers there are no fixed rules when it comes to grieving. Open Seating starts with tragedy but ends on a high note. Seth and Bryce's story continues in Open House, which will be available sometime in September. The third and final book has just been submitted and, if all goes well, should release at the end of the year or early January 2017. I hope you enjoy this new pairing.  They have a rocky start but, you’ll see…

Feel free to leave a comment/question about anything you'd like to share. I love hearing back from my readers. 

Before I close, I'd like to thank my publicist J for all her help in promoting my work.   

Don’t forget to leave your name in the Rafflecopter for a chance at a prize.

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Tour Schedule
June 9 - The Novel Approach
June 10 - MM Good Book Reviews
June 11 - Mickie Ashling's Blog
June 14 - Sinfully
June 16 - Prism Book Alliance
June 20 - Diverse Reader
June 22 - Love Bytes
June 24 - On Top Down Under Book Reviews
June 28 - Bayou Book Junkie
June 29 - Multitaskingmommas

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All Romance:


  1. Thanks for sharing your first cruise experience. I have never been on a cruise, partly because there are all those extra expenses. But, I have been to an all-inclusive land resort and it was a blast. Drinks included plus tips were not allowed. :-)

  2. I've been on all-inclusive resort vacations as well, Jen. They're definitely more predictable financially. The thing I like about cruising is seeing a different place each day. I have some gypsy in my background:) Thanks for stopping!

  3. Thank you for sharing your first experience on a cruise ship with us! I've never been since I'm a firm believer of always having my feet on land, lol. It sounds like a ton of fun excluding the expenses, of course.

    1. It is fun and very relaxing. You should try it some day. It took me forever to get on my first cruise but now I'm hooked. Thank you for stopping by to comment.

  4. I've never been on a Cruise but sounds like a fun experience, I couldn't go in a cabin without a window but hey you had a great time and won some money too.

  5. We were so intent on going on a cruise we didn't realize how claustrophobic a windowless cabin can be! Never again:)

    Thanks for stopping by, ShirleyAnn.

  6. I've only ever been to one short weekend cruise some years back. The after effect stayed a couples days after we docked back - you know, the gentle bobbing feeling when laying flat on bed. Hehehe
    Thank you for sharing your experience with us Mickie! :)

  7. I've been on one cruise and I absolutely loved it! We did have a room with a balcony and I can't imagine traveling without it! It was such a great experience being able to stand outside and watch the ocean and feel the breeze!

  8. A room with a balcony is great! My favorite part is leaving the slider open at night so you can hear the waves and feel the breeze. Damn. I wish I was on a boat right now:) Thanks for stopping by.

  9. It sounds like your first cruise was a lot of fun, if eye opening. I'm going on my first one in a couple of weeks.

    1. I hope you have a wonderful time! I'm definitely a fan of this form of travel. Thanks for stopping by, Rhi.

  10. I have never been on a cruise. Although living in country with so many islands like Indonesia, I somehow prefer to go with plane *ha*. But maybe someday.

    1. I hope you get to go some day. It's wonderfully relaxing. Thanks for stopping by.

  11. Congrats on the release and thanks for this post :)

    1. Thanks for the good wishes, Laura, and for stopping by to comment.

  12. Angela:
    Congrats on the release Mickie, i really like the blurb and the cover is gorgeous.

  13. Thanks, Angela! I hope you like it.


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