Cruises have specific destinations. So, do academic courses. I have an understanding of the objectives of the course. However, I plan to explore these objectives in different ways that will enhance the creative skills of my students. This blog will share my experiences and those of my crew/students. 

So, I want to share my adventures on this cruise.

I am looking forward to the first day this ship launches—next week. It will be a training cruise. Depending on how successful this training cruise, this will determine if we can sail on an official cruise. To my knowledge there will be twenty (20) on my crew.  And I am responsible to make sure they learn how to work on this training ship so that they can sail on their own academic ships and become writers with something substantive to share.

Well, here goes…


The first week I felt it best not to launch the ship into the waters until some basics were established—the objectives of the cruise, the expectations, the assignments, and my passion for sailing/teaching. Indeed, if anyone were not comfortable with these basics, it would be best if s/he were not a member of the crew.

Well, I have finished the first week on the ship. I have 26 on the crew. 

I am a strong believer in the “little things” that can set the tone for any cruise. So, since we will be sharing a lot of work together, it is important that people see one another and start to know one another. So, on the very first meeting, I had them sitting in a circle. And they understand that is how the seating arrangement will be for the rest of the trip.

I asked each to answer the following:

1. What is your name (obvious question to pose)?
2. Why have you joined this class/cruise line?
3. What is your preferred genre?

Some have done some writing; others are trying to find their voice. All, except one, wanted to produce something worth reading. That one, well, she was not sure why she was on the ship. She shared that she did not like to read or write. Um, how will this work? Well, it did not. After I shared the different writing tasks, she decided not to return on board.

I’ve decided to use Sweet Ache: Poetry of the Soul by Elesia Powell and Brothers and Sisters by Bebe Moore CampbellSweet Ache is an excellent example of quality poetry. Also, there is a podcast on the MANA Blog that broadcasts a presentation she made in a composition class where students read her work and did a writing assignment on some of her poems. The response from those students was very positive. So, I feel confident her collection of poetry would serve well on this cruise. And since we will be writing different short stories, Brothers and Sisters provides perfect examples of excellent character development and plot development. 

Other resources I shall use are on MANA web site, the “Newsletter” file:

• April 2014 issue of The MANA Sunset“Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block”

• June 2014 issue of The MANA Sunset—“Tips for Developing Character Names”

 August 2014 issue of The MANA Sunset—“Six Simple Steps to Writing a 
  Short Story”

• October 2014 issue of The MANA Sunset—“Creating a Strong Character: 
   A Letter from the Editor”

• December 2014 issue of The MANA Sunset—“A (Short) Letter From the Editor”

They are to have the above read by Thursday. The information shared will help them as they begin to consider how they will develop future work.

Let me not get too ahead of myself. Let me stay on the first week. I read a few of the poems by Ms. Powell. Then, I assigned them to read ½ of the works and be prepared to discuss the poems. I wanted them to be prepared to discuss the following: why they liked or did not lie a poem and why certain poems piqued their interest.

At the next meeting, I broke the crew up into smaller groups of 4 to 5. They discussed what they had read and their choices. After about 20 minutes, each group shared feelings about the poems. I asked each group to designate someone to report to the whole crew. And since I believe that poetry has to be read out loud, every group representative read the poem. Then, each group and its member had an opportunity to give input about the poem. Lively discussions occurred. I really was pleased about the exchange of ideas and the free flow of ideas among all of the crew. When the meeting ended, positive energy emanated from the crew. I really felt good about how this first week progressed.

Now, we are ready to set sail. So, next week will be the first week at sea. Can’t wait! 

I’ll be sharing with you how next week at sea works.

Until then, enjoy the sun, the water, and the crisp academic sea air!


The second week went well with the crew. The major crew meetings took place twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday. The meetings would take place for 1-1/2 hour on these days.

On Tuesday, the crew had an assignment due. It was to submit a written critique of one of the poems in the book Sweet Ache. The crew members were in their small groups, continuing their discussions of different works from the book. Then, each group was to choose a poem to share what their group members felt about the work. A crew member from each group would read the poem and give the group’s interpretation and response to the work. Then, others in each group had the opportunity to share any additional comments. 

Yes, I would comment, too. 

I was pleased by the crew’s comments and the choices of works:

“Sweet Ache”
“The Avenue”
“Not Domestic”
“Love Poem”
“Has Been”
“Black Cherry”
“Flint Town”
“Classy Lady”

These were the main ones discussed. They served as excellent examples of the figures of speech, especially the simile, metaphor, and allusion. And I encouraged them to implement these figures of speech when they write their own poetry. Also, I made certain they understood the power of the persona and their careful choice and implementation. In addition, I made them aware of the importance of setting. 

Finally, I did my best to make certain that they realized that poetry has several meanings. And one’s like or dislike of the work should not be the basis for assessing the quality of the work. 

On Thursday, my crew was to present their poems. At first I considered having the presentation in small groups. However, after a second thought before I met with the crew, I determined it would be better that everyone would hear each other’s poetry. 

That was a good decision. 

Now, to make certain that everyone had read everyone’s poetry BEFORE the meeting on Thursday, all poems were to be posted on the Blackboard, a computer program, so everyone could download them. I made it very clear that the expectation that every crew member’s poem was to be downloaded. And everyone was to be prepared to discuss each poem. They were. And if any were not, they were able to “fake it.” It has always been my style to look at every crew member’s body language, eye, and desk to make certain I was reading all of the cues of preparation, uncertainty, or lack of preparation. The cues for preparation were quite evident. 

On Thursday, everyone came prepared. And I had no difficulty having volunteers to read their poetry to the crew. I was so very pleased by the quality of what was shared. And the response by crewmates was quite kind. Of course, there will always be an individual who might lack tact or be a tad “snarky”: “This was the best poem presented of them all today.” Well, dern, what was the implication about the others? Um, I felt it was so very crucial to make certain that no crewmate would ever feel daunted. So, I used my wit (or I think I was witty) and let him know that “geezo, I thought everyone’s work contained a message well worth hearing, not a one not deserving of acknowledgment. And we must be very careful not to express our thoughts in a way that sound ‘tacky’ or too ‘funky’ or ‘too authoritarian’ or one of us may have our work responded in the same way. And, that we won’t have on this ship.” That crew member back stepped and said, “Yes, what I said would apply to my work, too.” And I said, “Let us not be too critical of our own work. Let the work speak for itself and let the tactful criticism by your crew and captain serve as a guide, not as an albatross to grow and progress.”  

Since there would be a lot of sharing of crewmates’ works at the weekly meetings, I wanted to establish an environment of free exchange of ideas and presentation of works. Thus, I knew that I had to make certain that a spirit of comfort in sharing had to be established and maintained. By the non-verbal cues I saw, I succeeded.

It was very important that a rapport was established on this ship. Sharing one’s works would be a very personal act and one that would leave one vulnerable. Without an open feeling to share, this cruise would be doomed before it even started. That—I would not let happen. I would want everyone to want to come to these meetings and not dread them.

Oh, I almost forgot to say a little something about the written critiques I received on Tuesday. I strongly believe it is very important to return graded work as soon as possible. How were the first set of written assignments? Some were good; some needed a lot of work. Now, I am a composition instructor. However, if I graded this first set of papers in the same way I would if these were submitted in my composition class, I might have several dismayed crew members and some might jump ship. So, I have tried to make the expectations clear. 

What I see is that some students feel if this is not a composition cruise they can “slack off.” Wrong—so wrong. So, I let those know they can consult with me one-on-one if they need a review of solid composition format and rigor. Also, I suggest they go to www.RobbieDeanPress.com and click on the folder “Orientation for Mott Students.” In that folder there is a sample outline and theme AND two chapters of my handbook, Bare Essentials, 15th ed. These items can help refresh their memories as to what a college cruise expects, be it literature or composition. 

At the beginning of the class, I gave them their graded papers. I did not want the crew to dwell on their papers; I wanted them to move on to listening to the their crew mates’ poems.   

When I concluded the Thursday meeting, crew members left with positive chatter, knowing what is expected regarding the writing skills and looking forward to continue the sharing of remaining works next Tuesday. 

I, too, look forward to next week’s meeting. I hope you do, too!


Week three on the Academic Creative Writing Cruise—this is a training for future cruises (writing experiences). Now, who am I? I am the captain. I am unfolding my story to my crew by acting on it and living it. They are learning that I am serious about being the captain. 

I am a goal-oriented person. That is why the main goal is to have a book by the time this cruise arrives back to port. Yes, it is nice if folks just share their writings with each other, but there should be more. They should know that a real, paying audience might read their works. So, I have made it clear that I want to have something to “show” for our sailing, and it has to be something more than we had a “kumbaya” moment together.

I am totally in love with being a captain (about being a teacher). I live, breathe, and bask in the joy of sharing what I know with others. And I cannot do this if I do not love (yes, I am saying it) my job and the individual crew members. When I love that means I put my 200% all into this job. I am constantly thinking of ways to convey the passion I have for writing, the works taught, and the very persons I teach. I am hoping that this passion transforms into their spirits so that they care more than about a grade (just doing what is necessary to get the certificate to take another course) but about the process of writing. 

Writing is a total process. The individual must have an idea that s/he believes must be developed, tossed around in the mind, and texualized (my “made-up” word), and revised and revised and revised and, finally, submitted, knowing that it is the best to submit at that time, that moment. So, I care about what each one of them writes. I do my best to make certain that everyone of my crew respects and receives respect as s/he shares his/her work. I am committed to making sure that everyone knows s/he can feel safe to share (to step out on the plank, so to speak) and know no one, captain or any of their crewmates, will push them overboard by responding to their work insensitively. No, I do not believe in false praise; however, also, I do not believe to be honest means to be hurtful. For anyone I love (and I am coming to love my crew with every meeting and interaction), I shall not let become unnecessarily hurt or made to feel not worthy to share ideas or materials.

Now, having said all of the above, this week has progressed well. The poetry shared and the responses given show insight and an appreciation for the work done.

Already, I have submitted their work to be reviewed by a publisher. Yes, I have been pleased what I have read. However, it is important that more than the crew members or I acknowledge a work’s quality. Unbiased opinions need to occur. Also, these help me “check on myself,” to make sure the atmosphere of openness and sharing has not clouded my objectivity. Indeed, there are members of the crew who have shared poetry that is worth more than exposure to only us at our meetings. So, I am convinced my goal to have a work published and presented to the crew is a realistic one. Their first sharing has been a good one.

Now, all sharings were completed on Thursday. Next, we started with the novel, Brothers and Sisters by Bebe Moore Campbell. I have chosen this work mainly for the very distinctive skill rendering solid character development. Some of the characters are static, but others, the most of the main ones, are quite dynamic. No lecture at a meeting could get across the techniques of character development better than reading a work that achieves this so well. Now, should I give you the idea that everyone has completed the book and was ready to discuss the characters, as expected, on Thursday? Also, you will learn that I am quite honest. So, the answer is “no.”

This disappointed me. Of course, I could have made them “pay” for this dereliction of duty. If I were Captain Bligh, perhaps, I would have made them do extra work. I am not he. I want my crew members to do things not out of fear but because they want to; they want to learn; they want to experience seeing others who have mastered a part of the writing craft; they want to acquire or work to demonstrate that same skill when they write. 

So, I reiterated my expectations; I reiterated that I was more than capable of changing my trust in their integrity in doing all they could to improve; I reiterated that there was a Bligh in me that I did not want them ever to see. And when I dismissed the crew with a smile and a wish they enjoy the rest of the week (even taking a look at the battle between the Seahawks and Patriots, if they were football fans), I can say that I am confident they will be better prepared next Tuesday. I gave them the charge to do the following: choose one character and choose three different sets of lines that illustrate why they like the character; also, they need to see passages in the book that really give a reader insight in the character. Perhaps, if I had been more specific in assigning the reading of the novel, they would have been more prepared. 

Let us see what happens this upcoming week. I cannot wait to let you know…


The fourth week crew and captain are definitely on sail. After the novelty of our getting to know one another, there are a few who want to “test the waters” (pardon the pun). Does she really mean business when reading assignments are given? Will there be any consequences? For sure, there will be. There is just so much work that needs to be done and accomplished before we return to shore. There is no time for anyone to slack off, and I have no intentions of throwing anyone overboard. So, I have addressed any dereliction of duty promptly.

If you recall I noted that some had not read Brothers and Sisters. They were supposed to choose passages from the work that really illustrated their characters, their personalities and the situations that have influenced their personalities. Some did; others had not. 

There is one thing I know can negatively affect the mood of the whole crew. Whenever some start slacking off, others feel put upon. Others feel they are carrying the load more than others. This can bring upon resentment; then, a lack of effort creeps into the mood of others until the majority of the crew does not work as hard and learn. Well, I shan’t have that. I shall share near the end of this writing my response.

First, let me share the good things observed. So, on Tuesday, several had read the full work. Yes, lively discussions occurred. And they focused on passages from Brothers and Sisters that really served as a catalyst for discussion. Throughout every sharing I worked to show how what the author, BeBe Moore Campbell, has done they should do with the characters in the short (due next week). Instead of their saying a character is “beaten down” or almost at that point, the description of the character should “show it.” The words from that character’s mouth should “say it.” 

Then, on Thursday, I came to the meeting with my own passages. I focused on passages that really let a reader see the kind of person Esther was and how she was able to code switch. The encounter with Charles clearly showed that. Then, there was the character, my favorite, Vanessa, who would say so well, “I let my color be my joy.” She oozed confidence as well as a sense of humor that endeared her with many of the students. Then, I had to choose a character that was just the opposite, Kirk Madison. He was pathetic. Her description of his marital life said it all. Then, there was the suave Humphrey Boone. However, the author so well let the reader see his deep-seated insecurities and cause for his unwise choice. And on the opposite spectrum was Tyrone Smith—the man who knew who he was and was not afraid to admit it. And there were ancillary characters, Preston Sinclair, Hector, and LaKesha. 

I felt my sharing would make it very clear my expectations of how they should develop their characters in their short stories. I noted that, since they were not writing a novel, it was to be only 3-5 pages (double-spaced); it would be wise not to have more than two main characters. Furthermore, I did not want the predictable action (a sexual romp or a car chase)—seen that, read that—boring! The ending should not be obvious. I expressed I wanted a short story that would keep readers guessing and not even expect the end. 

After what I presented, several gave me the body language that showed they understood what they needed to do. And a few even said that they knew they had to do some revising before posting their stories on Blackboard for others to read. Even one crewmate had posted his story but asked if it were possible that I delete it. He recognized that he needed to do some serious revising. Ah! I had succeeded in demonstrating what I wanted. 

Still, there was this matter about others who had not come prepared to the meeting. Body language and limited comments indicated they had not read enough to be an active contributor to the discussion taking place. So, I gave a quiz, not only on passages from the novel, asking for the speaker or about who was one speaking. Also, I asked questions about the material presented in the “Newsletter” file (I mentioned this on the orientation—the pre-cruise blog). Um, I can assure you when they walked out that they recognized that this captain was quite serious about the importance of EVERYONE reading and responding and being prepared whenever a meeting would occur. Indeed, preparation needed to be done so that everyone was ready to contribute—pull his/her load. And I was not going to tolerate any “slackers.” 

Of course, it will be next week that I shall see if this approach was successful. First, all crew should have their short stories posted by tonight on Blackboard. Next, I shall place crewmates in small groups so that adequate time for responding to each person’s story can occur. The input in the group sessions should be the basis for each person to improve his/her work. That improved work will be part of the midterm exam that will occur during the sixth week. 

Now, let’s see what happens!

Week 5: Monday, February 16, 2015

The fifth week proved to be a busy one. Crew members were prepared to bring their short stories to the meetings. To make certain everyone’s story would get the attention it deserved, I placed everyone in a group of four to five persons. I wanted thorough discussion of each member’s short story.

I expected to take both Tuesday and Thursday for discussion of the short stories. The short stories were to be four to six pages (double-spaced, 12 pt. font). I expected each group to address different aspects of the each member’s story:

  1. the effectiveness of the character development
  2. what should be improved
  3. what should be left along
  4. the manner in which the setting contributed to the storyline
  5. the methods employed to develop the plot
  6. to clarify of the purpose of the story

Each group was to devote at least 25 minutes per story. To begin, the writer was to read his/her story. The weekend before this Tuesday’s meeting, to make certain that everyone would be able to follow the reading, every person had to post his/her short story on Blackboard so that every member would be able to bring a copy of every crewmate’s short story to the general meeting. However, they understood that they would be responsible to discuss in their individual groups only the stories of persons in their group. 

No, it was not a waste of time for others to make a copy of everyone’s stories. During personal time, I encouraged them to read those stories of crew members who were not in their respective groups. Ha!  I am not a naïve captain; probably many would not do that. Yet, if two or three would do so, it would be a worthwhile suggestion. And for those students serious about becoming writers, they would take the time.

My function was clear. I was to observe and listen. I wanted to encourage the crew to interact without my “butting in.” Before the Tuesday meeting, I had determined who would be in which group. I decided the group compositions based on the discussions that had taken place in previous meetings. 

Most members were at the meeting on time, so placing persons in their groups was easy. Still, note that I wrote “most,” not all. I knew that one member would be late. As a matter of fact, I could time when he would arrive. Yes, this was an annoyance; I had hoped my “eye” indicated my disfavor. Wrong. So, on Tuesday I planned to address this issue head on. Others had noted the tardiness, too. And so, one or two even made a comment on Tuesday. 

As captain I could not allow any tardy behavioral infraction criticisms by any other crewmate of another. In a tactful way, it was crucial that I made it clear that only one person, the captain, would have the authority to “discipline” any of the crew. I have used the marital metaphor while conducting the meetings. Crew and I were academic marital partners. So, when negative comments were made, I used the marital metaphor to stop this behavior: 

Now, I cannot let anyone criticize my spouse. Only I can do so. Surely, you 
understand that generally in a marriage the spouse can criticize his/her spouse,
but no one else can. In other words, no one can talk about “my man” but I. Is that

Everyone understood my point. 

And so, when the crewmate came in late, I addressed the issue. I asked him to come outside the meeting place. I talked with him, indicating that his tardiness was not going to continue to be accepted. Yes, he indicated that he had to take care of some duties before the meeting. I urged him to get up earlier to fulfill these duties so that he would be on time or I would have to have him to terminate his tenure on this training cruise. After the very brief communication with him, we both returned to the meeting; he joined his group; I continued moving between groups, observing and listening. On Thursday, he was ahead of time—yes!

Let me say more about the Tuesday meeting, I noticed that only one group was not discussing. They seemed to look lost. I asked if they were finished talking about each member’s story—in 25 minutes—when each person’s story should have taken up to 25 minutes of discussion per story. They said they were finished. I responded, “You need to look at these stories, again. You have not done your work well enough.” Then, I moved to the other groups. Still, I kept an eye on this group and an ear open.

After about 70 minutes, I decided to give general input. I told the crew I would take a few of their stories and share with the general group. My doing this would give them a little more guidance about how to critique work. So, I chose to read the first few paragraphs of one of the short stories by a member of that group where little discussion was taking place. I did not identify the writer or even use body language indicating which group this work was being presented. I commented about the mechanics errors—several comma splices. “If you had read to page eight [now, yes, this assignment was to be no more than pages; this writer had written sixteen pages—um, that was my first warning sign. I should have spoken to the student or emailed her about this matter], you would see why those occurred,” the writer stated out loud. I turned around and replied to the speaker, “Well, I did not identify you as the writer, but, if you choose to do so, that is fine. You need to know that many readers, especially those in the very critical publishing industry, will not get to page eight if key mechanics errors are present on the very first page/s.”

She replied with intensity, “I thought we are here to learn.” 

Um, I recognized this incident could be the foundation for future inappropriately given  expressions of insubordination—depending on how I addressed this incident. And so, I continued using the marriage metaphor:

Yes, you are right. And that is what I am doing. However, I see that it would 
be best we discussed this in a more private environment. Um, here we have
a situation. As a marital couple, this is an example of a dispute in a possible
hamburger place. And when a couple is in this situation, the members should
leave the hamburger place and go home and have the disagreement in the 
privacy of their bedroom. This would spare others who just want to eat 
their hamburger in peace.

Then, I flashed a smile. The class meeting resumed. And I read another member’s work. No defensive response. This meeting ended on a high note.

On Thursday, all groups resumed discussions of a member’s work. After these were completed, I referred back to passages in Brothers and Sisters that I thought would illustrate how character development is achieved. I chose passages that I really enjoyed reading.

Then, I made a decision to let them know very explicitly how they would be graded. I knew that some of them were very anal about their grade. I made it clear that no one would fail; this cruise is a different kind. It is unlike other lit or composition cruises. After all, I expressed that I did not believe one could grade one’s soul. One’s writing is an expression of the soul. So, I emphasized that I wanted every person to do his best in trying to hone his craft as a writer and not worry about a grade. So, unless “you pee on your grandmother in the public and not submit the assignments, you will earn at least a C-. So, focus on implementing what is being taught on this ship, and you will be pleased with the results. At the end of this cruise, my plan is for there to be a publication produced by a professional company that will demonstrate every crew member’s skill.”

Before the meeting ended, I reiterated the agenda for next week:
  1. individual 25-minute conferences scheduled for each member (a sign-up sheet was presented on Tuesday for each person to sign up for a time that fit into his/her schedule);
  2. the conferences are set up before, during, and after crew formal meetings;
  3. while I am meeting outside of the meeting room with crew members individually, others will be in the same groups they were this past week and critique the revision of the poem a member presented during the 2nd week or a new poem.

Time to end this meeting—one of the student’s in that group, which a crew member negatively reacted, approached me. Knowing that the midterm would be a revision of the short stories presented in the groups and a critical analysis of their short stories, the crew mate asked me for input. I asked her about the input from her group. She shared “that was the problem. I did not receive much, only that it was good. After we tried to critique one member, who responded to you negatively later on last Tuesday, she was so defensive that people were hesitant to say anything much about others’ works.” I told her to keep in mind what was shared in the meeting. She should write from her heart.

And what about that defensive crew member? I saw her get off the ship at a port. She did not return. Perhaps, she will decide to return on a helicopter. If not, I regret her not continuing the training. However, I have learned as a captain one does not “win them all.” That only happens in movies.

In preparation for next week’s individual conferences, every crew member is to post his/her midterm short story on Blackboard. Already some have posted. And that crewmate, who approached me, was one of the first to post. I have read her work; yes, she has heeded my response. She wrote from her heart; the short story was a good one.

Well, this past week has had highs and lows, more being highs. I cannot wait to read all of the crew’s short stories and critical analyses and discuss them with them.

See you next week!


Week six has been a good one—totally!

Yes, on Tuesday, the defensive crewmember whom I mentioned in last week’s blog got on board at the port we arrived. Still, I am not sure if this individual will remain. This member did not attend the scheduled conference but did email the midterm short story and analysis. As much as I would like to have a close relationship with all of my crew, I am a realist. This does not always occur. This may be the case with this member. Still, it is good that the individual has submitted the items for midterm even though we never met. I am grateful for that.

Just about every crewmember posted his/her short stories on Blackboard ahead of time. Thus, I was able to read and check and comment on the short stories. I was prepared to discuss each member’s short story before the member’s conference. Also, I made copies (enough for the number in each member’s group). I figured these would be great for each member to share with his/her group my comments. Also, I wanted every group to see what I meant by giving critical comments that would help crewmembers improve their work. 

When most people hear the words “offer critiques” or “critical comments,” they think the comments must be negative. Thus, there is a hesitancy to share comments. In the individual conferences I worked to convey that there is no need to be hesitant to offer comments that will help. After all, “it is not what one says; it is how one says it.” 

I believe so strongly in the need for individual conferences. And so, I set up a sign-up sheet so that every crewmember would sign. If someone really, really did not want to meet with me individually, I would not force him/her. I would just expect the work submitted that week. Of the twenty-six crewmembers, only two did not show. Not bad—eh?

Individual conferences give me the opportunity really to solidify the relationship with each member. Each gets to know a little more about me; I, too, gain an insight in my individual crew.  I have been blessed to have the ability to be very empathetic and just have an insight in the hearts of people. On the first day of the meeting, I noted some individuals who emitted body language that conveyed little self-confidence. When we met their stories confirmed the reason. No, their stories did not name themselves as the characters. However, talking a bit everyone shared that the stories were very much about some aspect of their personal lives. What was so special was we both shared a part of ourselves. Yes, I, too, let each know about my personal life, always being aware of remaining appropriate. Still, I could see that each member felt more comfortable to share and be more open to my suggestions for the revising of their work.

There were a few conferences that really touched me. I was almost in tears after reading one of my member’s short stories. It has never ceased to amaze me how cruel people can be to another. Also, I have never been disappointed about how individuals are able to overcome the pain experienced. One way this can occur is through creative writing. 

Another benefit for our meeting was to see how each would analyze his/her own work. Most said it was a difficult task to analyze their own short story. I wanted to develop their ability to “step out of the box” and read their work as if they were an objective reader totally unaware of the story. In order for them to become better writers and readers, they need to develop a sense of objectivity.

This cruise has more than a single purpose, to develop the creative writing skills of members. I realize that some registered for this cruise not to become cruise captains (professional writers). Some just want to be in an atmosphere around those who do. Others want just to play around, have fun. Some who do not believe in their talents need to have it validated. And other crewmembers see writing as a cathartic release. As captain I must sense the different purposes and work to fulfill them. This is a key challenge to any captain’s role. And I love it! I feel very fortunate that my crew has taken me in their in their confidence, a confidence I shall never betray and always hold dear to my heart.

On Tuesday of next week, I plan to take care of some of the mechanics of becoming an adequate writer. Yes, the proper use of commas, how to avoid fragments (that are not on for effect), comma splices, run-ons, verb errors, and pronoun errors. No, I have no intentions of changing this cruise to a grammar expedition. However, there are basic grammatical/mechanics issues that need to be addressed. If any captain does not do this, s/he would be remiss in performing his/her duty. 

Also, on Tuesday, we will continue discussing the poems they have discussed while I was having individual conferences. I plan to give some general comments, continue providing examples of what I mean by providing constructive critiques. I shall ask questions that the works are a catalyst for me to consider. Then, I want to transition to the writing of a different kind of short story. This time it will be a short story for children. I shall give each crewmate a professionally published children’s book for them to view. On Thursday, we will discuss the work. 

On Thursday, I shall focus totally on the writing of children’s stories. We will discuss the work, The Adventures of Gross Jerome and the Gooey Green Goblins, by Jenny Flack and illustrated by Page Redford, students of the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor. This work was published by MarketingNewAuthors.com (MANA) to help a literacy club at the university, WE READ, to give free books to children at an inner city school of the Detroit Public School system. This present would be the culmination of literacy activities, short story writing and drawings. My using this book as a sample should work well to give the crew a sample of a quality children’s story.

The crew will post their children’s short stories on Blackboard. Next week, I shall place the crew in different groups. And they will critique each member’s stories. This time they will provide me with a written critique as well as give a copy to each person whose story they have critique. I am looking forward to seeing what the story and the written responses produce.

Next week, I’ll let you know the results! 


We have completed Week Seven. It has been a smooth ride on the waters this past week. 

All crewmembers seemed to be pleased with this cruise’s sessions. The individual conferences have allowed the one-on-one contact that I believe is so very important to insure a rapport with the members of the training cruise.

This week, I wanted to share with the crew some of the poetry that their fellow crew has written. Why? All had not heard or experienced everyone’s work. It was good for them to hear the quality of work that many have written on this ship. Some of the poems were actually touching. One was entitled “Alamo.” This battle served as a metaphor for an individual’s battle with depression. I encouraged responses from various crewmembers to this work and other various poems I read.  

One major focus of this cruise is to help them to develop their ability to provide valuable suggestions for improvement. Most are hesitant to give the input because they are concerned about “hurting feelings.” I want them to understand that providing criticism does not mean one has to be mean or hurtful. As a matter of fact, anyone who feels s/he must hurt or embarrass is really showing his/her insecurities. And I do not tolerate that behavior. When students share their work, I believe they are sharing a part of their souls. No one wants that soul gutted by hurtful remarks. Still, it is not kind if one does not give a writer the truth. No one can improve if s/he is only told “sounds good to me.” I make it clear there must be more than “kumbaya” moments. Good criticism should discuss the positive elements of a work and those elements that a writer should consider to improve. With these kinds of critiques, a writer can grow. And that is what I want members to achieve.

So, after hearing responses to some of the works, I made a transition to preparing them for next week’s assignment—sharing of every crewmember’s short story for children. I gave to each member a children’s book published by MarketingNewAuthors.com (MANA), written and illustrated by a University of Michigan—Ann Arbor student organization—WE READ. It was committed to working on encouraging literacy and appreciation for writing and drawing among urban elementary students. And so, I used this book as a sample of a lovely illustrated children’s work. Also, to the crew, I read the work, Marvin’s Lump, by Jennifer Weil. It served as a delightfully-illustrated work using rhyme showing a little boy with a major issue with low self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence. These works served as valuable examples for the crew. 

Next week, in groups of seven or six, they will present and critically discuss each group member’s short story for children. I have assigned persons in new groups. This should allow for new and fresh eyes on each other’s work. I gave the names of each group’s members; also, I posted these same names on Blackboard for anyone who may not remember. So that everyone will have time to view each person’s work before next week’s sessions, crewmembers will post their short story on the Discussion Board of Blackboard. In addition, crewmembers should post their critiques of every group member’s short story. In order to encourage valuable suggestions, these will need to contain the following in one paragraph:

  1. a general topic sentence
  2. noting one good feature of the work
  3. one feature that needs to be improved
  4. any personal comments about the work
  5. a solid concluding sentence

Yes, there should be a paragraph per every group member. These critiques should be posted before 6:00 PM Monday. This should give everyone enough time to read the short stories and the critiques. And so, every crewmember will have performed two roles before next week’s sessions—that of writer and critic. 

As captain I will have read every short story and written my critiques on every short story. Also, I will have graded every critique. So, when they meet in next week’s sessions, crewmembers as writers and critics will have input from me as well as from their group members. And I expect this input to help every writer revise his/her short story. The revisions will be due the third Tuesday of March.

I have asked each member to consider the age group his/her story is for and its purpose. 

What I have read, thus far, I am pleased. 

I have learned, as a captain, that it is paramount there is a clear plan and objectives. Still, one must be flexible. I continue to lead in this manner. 

See you next week!


Week Eight Before R & R

On Tuesday, the crewmembers got into their groups. Yes, most had read the posted children’s short stories and critiques of their stories by their group members. The discussions were lively. And it seemed that everyone was open to suggestions for improvement. 

My purpose in this session was to listen. As much as I wanted to join in the discussions, I functioned more as a coach, listening and providing input when asked. The idea of having the critiques posted before the Tuesday meeting was a good one. This helped lessen any defensive responses. Also, time was used well because most had read all of the stories. So, very few needed to use group time to catch up by quickly reading the works in the session. Thus, every group concluded their discussion of every posted story. Great!

I decided there was no need to have a full group session on Thursday. My only reason for the session was for any continued discussion/critiques of short stories. Since this task was completed, I made Thursday an open conference day. Since many were planning for next week’s seven-day R and R, everyone was quite pleased to be able to get an early start to prepare for the respite. 

One crewmember did choose to come and see me for a one-on-one meeting. He was ill; thus, he missed the Tuesday session. His coming to see me proved to be a good one. He had not posted his children’s short story by the deadline. So, his work was not critiqued. He was dependent on my critique of his work. And for almost ninety minutes, I read his story and gave input. I must say his work was a total delight to read and discuss. He had really developed his characters so well. And I could see he was enjoying my enjoying his work. This writer had the opportunity to hear his work “performed” by someone. I worked to make his characters come alive. And in doing that, I could see he was pleased and really took pride in what he had written. The smile on his face said to me I had captured the essence of what he was trying to convey. 

It was my doing this that gave me an idea of what I would like to do after this cruise. I truly loved interacting with this student one-on-one. It was in this individual session that I was able to connect with this crewmember in a very special way. I came to see a total new area where I could serve—as a life coach.

Next week, the R & R will begin. I have encouraged every crewmember to leave the ship and go wherever. I strongly believe that everyone needs to get away, no matter how good the experiences on the ship.

I plan to use that time to reflect on what has transpired while on this cruise. I shall be talking to you later!


I am sitting on a balcony overlooking water. Yes, even when I take time off, I have always felt at peace listening to the rippling of water. In this setting while I am not functioning as captain, I think my best. Let me reflect on what has transpired these first eight weeks.

The two books, Sweet Ache: Poetry of the Soul and Brothers and Sisters, used to provide samples for the crew to write poetry and well-developed short stories have worked well. Still, I plan at the end of the cruise to ask for anonymous input about the value of these works for them. What I as the captain may perceive might not always be a fact. That is why I have always believed in the importance of anonymous evaluations of the materials used for their instruction. And, yes, they will, also, evaluate the captain.

Still, I do believe that the results really do speak for themselves. My crew has developed some quality short stories. And the revisions of their works truly did show improvement. Also, this occurred with the poetry and short story revisions. Most worthwhile were the individual conferences. This was when I could provide that one-on-one response to the writers’ first stories. I was able to give suggestions for revisions. However, the added bonus was I gained a deeper insight of each crewmember through the discussion of each individual’s work.

Crewmembers opened up to me in those conferences. We both benefited. These conferences provided an atmosphere for their sharing information about their personal lives. This just would not have been done in a group and, definitely, in a large group session. For me, I even shared a little more about myself to help them see that I really did understand. And it was in these meetings, that it was re-emphasized why I love being a captain. I have been able to touch people. Through listening, providing professional suggestions, laughing, and letting them know they are important beyond just being a crewmember, that has been what I have been doing; with every response I work hard to let every person know the work and the writer are important. Crewmembers’ importance is because they are individuals with their own personal stories. And many of them just want some way to let a little of their souls in their work. They just need someone to motivate, encourage, and allow those personal stories to come out. 

So, for so many years, I have lived my passions—being an academic captain, being a publisher, being an editor, being a writer, being a motivational speaker, and being a guide to those who want to become teachers. And in every capacity, the ability to listen, show compassion, and provide tough love, when advice needs to be precise, are called for in these passions. I plan to combine these skills at the end of this cruise. 

Ah! Love those waves, love sitting on this balcony, love having the time to reflect—there is no doubt that this time to rest and relax has re-energized me. I am looking forward to seeing my crew, again. 

Next week, the academic cruise will continue on its journey. See you then!


After a week of rest and relaxation, I was ready to meet my crew. They, too, seemed relaxed and ready to get back to work.

On Tuesday, the syllabus noted that all revised short stories should be submitted. Unfortunately, I had not set up the forum for them to post the revised works. Oops—I guess there was too much rest and relaxation for me! I had to change my plans reading some of the short stories. 

So on Tuesday, we started with a totally different genre—drama. Although scheduled to discuss this on Thursday, I chose to do this instead of reading the short stories. I wanted to give them guidance to develop writing a play. They were to write a one-act play. I suggested that they develop no more than three characters. Yes, the play could have some minor characters. Because length has to be limited, no more than six pages, most definitely, this would be a challenge.

On Tuesday, I focused on the elements of drama. These are stage directions; the importance of the message is just about totally conveyed through the dialogue of the characters. Of course, stage design is extremely important. However, in the case of this crew’s short plays, they were not to depend on stage design. Also, I shared that the props should be minimal. 

Many years ago I took drama lessons at an art institute. Later on, I spent about three years participating in a non-professional community drama group. And I took courses in the college to enhance what I had learned from my other experiences. The very interesting factor for an educator is his/her past experiences may benefit him/her when functioning as an educator captain. This definitely proved to be true as I presented these sessions. I was able to tap onto my previous experiences to teach this particular session on drama.

At the end of the Tuesday’s session, I suggested that crewmembers post the first draft of their plays on Blackboard. And we would be able to discuss some of the posts in the Thursday session.

On Thursday, this session worked well. Instead of my taking on the roles of the characters of the different characters, I involved the crewmembers. Yes, it was impromptu; however, that did not cause a problem. I had made a copy of every play (four had been posted). I would choose persons who sat next to each other to read parts from the plays. Logistically, this was a practical decision so the “actors” were close to one another and able to share the copy. Some did a good job. And the writers enjoyed seeing their plays “come to life.” Also, this helped others to see the importance of stage direction and dialogue. By the end of that session, they shared they had a better understanding of how to improve their drafts.

I believe that a captain should seek constructive criticism throughout the time on the cruise. I find it quite valueless to wait until the end of the cruise to seek suggestions for improvement. Geezo, the folks who have made the suggestions will not benefit. So, I try to ask for input throughout the cruise. Thus, after I was assured that everyone understood what was expected, I asked him or her to answer the question: Are you pleased with how I am teaching this genre? If “yes,” why? If “no,” why not? Why else have I done this? 

No matter how much experience I have, I am never totally confident in my skills. And I am glad that I am that way. Arrogance and the goal to be the best teacher do not go hand-in-hand. The day I feel I know it all, cannot be told how to improve, and not think I can improve, I believe I must be removed. No, I do not doubt that I am good—dern good, but with every day in front of a crew, I do not doubt that I can become better. And my goal is to strive to improve with every session.

Their comments were very helpful. Most told me things were fine. However, a few suggested, even though pleased, that they would want more input regarding format. And one expressed a concern that she would like for me to provide a one-act play for them to use as an example. Yes, she liked the hearing the plays in class, and she knew it would be nice to read the posts of her crewmembers. However, she wanted a professional written play. Um, this was what I had done to teach them how to develop their poetry and short stories. I had not considered doing the same for the writing of plays. So, I went on Google and found a one-act play by Anna Stillaman and Mark Mathews entitled Smitten—A Black Comedy. So, next Tuesday, I shall give each a copy to serve as an example. Yes, it was because of a comment that I took action that should help this crew in the writing of their plays.

This week has been a good week, most especially, because of my crew!

See you next week!

WEEK 11, MARCH 30, 2015

I am sure you have gathered from this blog that I am really enjoying this cruise. The members make a captain want to come to their sessions. This really was the case this past week. Why? I was quite ill, but I did not want to miss this session because I just did not want to disappoint my crew by cancelling a session in which I knew they would be eager to present and discuss their plays. As I walked closer to the room, I saw them waiting for me. And they could see that I was not my normal self. I explained as I entered the room that I would not be giving them 200% that day but only 100%. They smiled, and one of my crew moved a chair with rollers for me to sit. And so, we began.

On that Tuesday, my crew, for the most part, was ready to discuss their plays. Quickly, I placed them in groups of three and four. Most had made copies of the different plays posted on Blackboard. So, the issue of having copies was not a problem for those who had posted and made copies. I would like to say all were prepared. That would be something from a 2-hour TV show—not so. However, of the seventeen who attended, fifteen were prepared. 

The discussions were lively. I managed to roll around the room, listening to the various comments each person made about his/her group mate’s play. These comments were to provide concrete suggestions for improvement and overall reactions to the work. It was nice hearing openness to the suggestions being made by everyone. Also, it was helpful for the writers to share the reasoning behind certain actions in their play and the reason why certain characters were developed. Also, the people in each group learned what each writer hoped to convey. The immediate feedback from those having read the first draft of the play really provided solid suggestions for improvement.

By the end of the week, every crewmember was to post a revised final draft of his/her play based on the suggestions made. Furthermore, written critiques were to be posted on Blackboard of each group mate’s play. So, if one may have forgotten some of the suggestions made while at the session, the posted critiques would be available. And, I would be assessing the written critiques. To become a good writer, I truly believe one must develop the skill to become a good critic, providing substantive suggestions for improving a work as well as providing deserved praise what is good about a piece in a grammatically-sound manner.

I shall send the final drafts of the plays to the reviewer to determine which should be placed in the upcoming publication.

As I began this blog, I shared that I was not feeling “tip top.” I recognized that I would need to make an appointment with the ship’s doctor. I did not see my health improving very quickly. So, I let the crew know there would be no formal session on Thursday.

Still, while I was laid up, I did manage to review previous works. Based on the recommendations by a member of the review board of the publishing company that will put together the upcoming work by this crew, I was able to read again some of the works recommended. I was quite pleased and proud of what this crew has managed to develop for this upcoming publication, Community College Students’ Literary Collage. So, I would like to end this blog by sharing one of the short stories that will be in this book.


Geffrey was an honest bear. That was true. It was true that his favorite place to sit was 

in the big window while the sun was out, and the golden, glowing rays fell on his 

auburn fur, making him all snuggly-warm, and that was, of course, the best way for a 

bear to feel; especially when a little girl or boy came looking for something soft, warm 

and snuggly to pick up and hug. It was also true that he liked Pitkins to come and rub 

his whiskered face against his nose, even though Pitkins usually followed this with 

digging his claws into his soft, comfy tummy, and then sitting on him for an hour. It was 

even true that Geffrey got lonely sometimes for want of company, particularly on cold, 

rainy afternoons. However, it was not true that he had been in the nursery for the last 

quarter hour, when someone or something had dismantled Betsy’s house, and that was 

exactly what Major had accused him of.

“What it all comes down to,” said Major, creaking back and forth on his rockers, and 

swishing his long yarn-tail, “is that you, Geffrey, have been in here all this time. No one 

else has come in or out of this room for the last quarter-hour, and you were here when 

we all got back. Don’t try and deny the facts.”

“I’m not denying them,” said Geffrey modestly. “I only want to fix them; I don’t think they 

have the right idea.”

“Facts never lie,” said Major crossly, his ears flicking. “No one has been in this room but 

you. Who else could it have been?”

Geffrey considered for a moment. “I don’t know who else it could have been. As you 

said, I was the only one in the room when you arrived.”

“Yes,” said Betsy. “When we arrived. But when did you arrive, Geffrey?”

Geffrey tried his best to answer honestly, but he never was good with keeping up with 

clocks or things of that sort. “I came in with the lady who keeps up the house,” he said. 

“That was before you had come in, but after the dollhouse had been… what word did 

you say, Major?”

“Dismantled,” said Major sulkily.

“Yes, that.” Geffrey glanced anxiously at Betsy. “You don’t think it was me, do you?”

“Of course not,” said Betsy, patting him gently. “But we must find out who did.”

The little rag-rabbit by the door flopped to one side, her ears lolling about. Sleepily she 

blinked one big, brown eye. “Why?”

Major scooted about to look at her. “Why what? Speak up, there!”

“Why must we find out?” asked the rabbit, yawning widely.

Major looked affronted, struggling for a reply. “Because… well, because, that’s why.”

The rabbit flopped again to the other side, winking her other eye. “That doesn’t sound 

like a very good reason.”

“We must find out who did it so they might undo it,” explained Betsy. She was the 

sensible kind of doll.

“That’s right,” asserted Major triumphantly. “We must locate the perpetrator of this deed, 

so that they may un-perpetrate themselves and rectify their mistake.” (That meant 

precisely the same thing, except longer.) “And you, Geffrey, were here before us, but 

after the mess; so you say. Well, well. I daresay, if that is the case, you could have seen 

the culprit. Was anyone else here when you were brought in?”

“I don’t think so,” said Geffrey. “At least, I didn’t see anyone.”

Perhaps it’s a spirit,” said a hoarse whisper from under the chair in the corner. A large, 

white, fuzzy head peered round the legs. “I heard they do that, sometimes. You can’t 

really tell with spirits.”

“But there aren’t any spirits living in our house, Dovey,” said Betsy. “There might be in 

other places, but not here, so it’s quite all right.”

The little, woolly lamb crept cautiously out from behind the chair, glancing about. “Still, 

you never can tell. They make themselves invisible, from what I hear. Might be one in 

the room now, for all we see of it.”

“Don’t talk nonsense,” said Major. “If there were any ghosts about, we would know 

straight away. But now, back to the matter at present.” He rocked back around to face 

Geffrey. “If you didn’t see anyone, that still leaves you our prime suspect.”

“There must have been someone else before me,” said Geffrey, thinking it over. 

“Perhaps they got out when I was brought in.”

“There’s an idea,” said Betsy encouragingly. “Just because you didn’t see them doesn’t 

mean they weren’t there. Why don’t you have a look at the house and see what you can 


Geffrey walked over to the dollhouse in question, carefully looking it over. There was 

nothing wrong with it from the outside, but the inside had been rummaged through. The 

stairs were covered with dirty, little marks, and the cushions, blankets, and covers had 

been stripped off all the beds and sofas. Three of the chairs had been carried off, and 

the table and dresser were covered with the prints of tiny teeth.

“There,” he said, pointing at the dirty marks. “I don’t leave marks like that, so it can’t 

have been me.”

Major snorted. “Anyone could make marks like that, if they wanted to. I could, if I had 

wanted. But I don’t want to, so I can’t.”

“But none of us could do that,” said Betsy, pointing at the teeth marks. “None of us has 

any teeth.”

“So we don’t!” said Geffrey happily. “So none of us could have done it.”

“But what sort of creature has teeth, and makes marks like that?” wondered Dovey, 

carefully coming over to see.

At that moment, there was a skittering noise from under the chest of toys. Everyone 

looked round to see what it was. There was something poking out from beneath the 

chest! Soon, a long, brown nose came in sight, and it was soon followed by two big 

ears, then a plump, furry body, and a long tail. The little something had tiny little feet, 

and large, gleaming teeth.

“Aha!” cried Betsy. “There’s your mystery-dismantler, Major.”

The little brown-mouse sat up on his hind feet, sniffing at the conspicuous persons now 

gazing at him. “What’s all this, then?” he squeaked, twirling his whiskers inquisitively.

Major, regaining his dignity, creaked forward. “What ‘all this’ is, as you say, is that you 

have committed a heinous felony.”

The mouse (whose name happened to be Reginald Seymour) stared in awe at the 

rocking horse. “I beg your pardon? What do you mean?”

Betsy stepped in, dropping a curtsy. “If you please, sir, I’m afraid you’ve made a bit of a 

mess in my house.”

“And I was very nearly blamed for it,” added Geffrey.

Reginald Seymour turned to look over the dollhouse. He was quite astonished at the 

sight. “Dear me, what a state! I’m terribly sorry, miss, but it certainly wasn’t me who did 


“Then who was it?” cried Major, getting rather exasperated.

“I may know who,” said Seymour. “My little ones were out not very long ago, and they 

made a grand present of three chairs and lots of bed sheets to my wife and I.”

“Did they, indeed?” said Betsy. “I must tell you, we have reason to believe they took 

them from my house!”

Seymour was dreadfully shocked at the behavior of his children. “Dear madam, I quite 

apologize. Shall I fetch them out again for you?”

“If you please, thank you,” said Betsy. “But it would be wonderful if you were to stay for 

lunch. And your family, too; I should so like to meet them.”

Major rocked in surprise. “You—how—you’re inviting them to lunch?”

Betsy gave him a rather cold look. “Why not? It’s nice to make new friends.” She turned 

to Geffrey. “Your name is cleared, Geffrey. And now, if you don’t mind, would you help 

me set out the tea things?”

Geffrey was an honest bear. That was certain. It was true that he and Betsy and Dovey 

and all of them, even Major, had a wonderful time that afternoon with Reginald 

Seymour and his family. It was true that Seymour’s children brought back the chairs 

from their hole, and they cleaned up all the little feet-prints from the dollhouse, and that 

Betsy let them keep the bedding as a present. It was also true that Pitkins was kept 

outside the nursery that day, for Seymour’s family seemed to have a special dislike for 

him. But more true than this, Geffrey found, was the friendship he shared with his 

Elisha Eubanks © 2015

Hopefully, by reading this children’s short story by one of my crew, you will see why I feel so much joy being captain on this academic cruise.

With hopes I shall be feeling mucho better, see you next week!

WEEK 12, APRIL 6, 2015

Oh my, excuse the cliché, look how time flies! There are only four more weeks. and this academic cruise will pull up at its final port. We’ve accomplished much. The crewmembers have written poetry. They have produced short stories for children and adults. Now, they are at their final phase experimenting with the genre drama. 

So, on Tuesday, they got into groups with their plays. They discussed the plays, providing suggestions for final revisions of their group members’ works. These final revisions were to be posted on Blackboard and brought to the Thursday session. The discussions were lively. And after a while, I had each group choose a play to perform in class. Yes, I recognized this would not be Tony Award winning acting. However, I explained that I believed a play could only be appreciated if it were seen acted out, no matter the inexperience of the thespians. They could get a feel for the work and actually see how the stage directions really mattered. 

Also, I distributed to them a waiver/release so I could use their work in the upcoming publication. I made it clear that I did not want anyone to sign anything on that day. I wanted each crewmember to read carefully the waiver and not feel any peer pressure to sign. I reflected on the fact that I had begun this cruise with the hope that I could fulfill an objective that went beyond their just “learning the ropes” be a good writer on this academic cruise. I wanted them to have their work in a finished product that was refereed and formally published by a traditional publishing company, not a self-publishing company. Of course, if they had not produced quality work, my extra objective, not expected by the academic company, my employer (the educational institution), I would have had to nix. However, that has not been the case. They have really submitted some quality work. Thus, my personal objective will be met—a published work will be forthcoming!

On Thursday, every crewmember except one submitted his/her waiver. Only the crewmember, of whom I mentioned a few weeks ago that had difficulty with accepting criticism, chose not to sign the waiver. Of course, I respected that decision and did nothing to point out the individual. I was gratified that the rest of the crewmembers were eager to have their work in the publication.

Also, on Thursday, those plays, that were not performed in class on Tuesday, were performed. I made some comments about the importance of staging and the position where actors should and should not stand. For example, I noted the need for an actor/actress not to put one’s back to the audience. The crew seemed to enjoy this activity of performing the plays. They gained a clearer understanding of the various factors that go into writing a play.

Next week, they will have the opportunity to write any type of work. The only stipulation is that they are to imitate the style of their favorite writer. This should be interesting. I look forward to sharing how this works! See you next week!

WEEK 13, APRIL 15, 2015

How does one spell “ill”? When the week began, that was how I felt. For many, yes, I know it would be no big deal not to attend one’s own sessions and just lay up in bed. For me, that would not be the case. As long as I have been captain of various academic cruises, I could not tell you of a time I had to miss reporting for duty two times due to any illness or any other personal circumstance. Well, this week was quite different for me. I had to let my crew know that, again, I would not be able to hold a session because I had a setback and had orders from the ship’s doctor to stay in my cabin. Perhaps, during Week Twelve, I had done too much, thinking I was getting better. So, on Tuesday, I was unable to report for duty.

That Thursday I felt so much better. Thus, I reported for duty, not quite ready “to conquer the world,” but at least ready to try.

While recuperating in bed on Tuesday, I decided that I wanted to change the order and content of the final sessions on the cruise. 

Originally, I had planned for Week Fourteen to be a discussion in small groups of the first draft of a writing piece each would submit to me in a one-on-one conference during Week Fifteen. All first drafts would have been posted on Blackboard before Week Fourteen’s Tuesday session so that everyone would have time to post and make copies of everyone’s work. The input received from the crewmates in these small discussion groups was to be a catalyst for ideas to improve each member’s work, so the crewmember would be ready to share with me the final draft in Week Fifteen’s conferences (Tuesday and Thursday). That work would serve as the final exam. And at the same time while I would hold the individual conferences, the sessions would run concurrently with crewmembers re-sharing their revised work (their final) in smaller groups. Crewmembers would see just how well those in their groups implemented the suggestions given in Week Fourteen’s discussion groups. In addition, I would have them discuss a piece posted in THE MANA SUNSET. Thus, they would critique each other’s final work as well as that of a person whom they had no personal acquaintanceship. Ultimately, they would receive input from their crewmates and their captain regarding their final. Well, while in bed, I decided to nix those ideas. I wanted to do something different that would stay more in line with the whole plan of “trying new things” so to continue to stimulate their creative minds. 

So, when I walked into the session on Thursday, I outlined the following revised upcoming schedule for the remaining weeks:

Week Fourteen, Tuesday and Thursday:
Individual conferences in which I would evaluate four items: each member’s assessment of his/her favorite writer’s style, an imitation of that style, an assessment of the crewmate’s own style, the final exam—the 2-5
page writing illustrating his/her skill writing in his/her favorite genre;
Concurrently, while I was having individual conferences during session
times, they would be engaged in a creative writing small group activity. They would participate in a smaller version of the MANA Continuing Blog Short Story, this time only in the crew sessions. I would supply the 
same prompt for all of the groups. And I would assign members to each group on that Tuesday. They would need to bring A LOT of paper and EVERYONE would need to be an active participant. They would have
four sessions to develop this work. There would be one grade per group, so teamwork would be paramount. Of course, if anyone shirked his/her duty, any member of the group should contact me via e-mail. Quite frankly, I was not expecting any errant behavior.

Week Fifteen, Tuesday, the writing activity and conferences should continue. At the end of this session, all group short stories would be collected so to have copies made for sharing with the whole crew on Tuesday of Week Sixteen. Furthermore, all remaining conferences would continue.

Week Fifteen, Thursday, a different writing activity should take place as well as a visit and presentation by poet Elesia Powell, author of one of the crew’s texts, Sweet Ache: Poetry of the Soul.

Needless to say, they realized that my illness had not totally incapacitated me. Why did I make such a change? My goal on this academic journey was to give this crew different writing experiences, participate in activities they had not done, and explore and enjoy the different ports of “writing call.” The original schedule just did not provide the ending that would fit with that goal. Based on the fact I was not certain how this crew would shape up, my original schedule was conservative. However, having been with these crewmembers and having seen how they have embraced every challenge put before them, I have become confident that they could encounter any writing activity. And their reaction to these changes demonstrated I had made the right decisions. They were open and eager to embrace this revised schedule.

And so, on Thursday of Week Thirteen, after outlining these changes, they signed up for conferences. After that, before the whole crew, individuals volunteered (sometimes, I “volunteered” some) to share who their favorite author was and an excerpt of their imitation piece. Then, I asked each what was his/her favorite genre and why. This was an academic segue to giving the final exam writing topic. Their final would be to present any two to five-page writing in their favorite genre. For those who enjoyed poetry, they could write a collection or one long poem.

So, although one session occurred during Week Thirteen, it was, most definitely, a full one.

See you next week!

WEEK 14, APRIL 20, 2015

I began the conferences this week. In these conferences three works were checked:

  1. Final exam (a genre of choice, 2 to 6 pp.)
  2. A paragraph or two paragraphs comparing the student’s/trainee’s favorite writer’s style with his/her own writing style
  3. Then, the crewmember should try to imitate the style of his/her favorite writer in a work of about 2 to 6 pp.

These three assignments provided ample samples of the crew’s talent. And it was rewarding to discuss each crewmember’s work, gaining insight into the reasons for his/her choices of topics. Also, I pointed out areas for improvement regarding the content presentation and mechanics (grammar and punctuation). Since each conference was scheduled for 25 to 30 minutes, this gave me ample time to discuss all three works. I had checked items 2 and 3 before the crewmember came to his/her conference; this saved time.

My crew presented quality work. Some of the final exams were very personal. They would only be shared with me, never in a group or class session. 

As for the imitation pieces, some were so good they must be shared; see the work below:

Imitating a favorite author:

Author: Bebe Moore Campbell:

“What’s with the suit? Did you try out for the role of office manager?” Esther asked, as she pushed away the junk on Vanessa’s couch and sat down. She laughed a little and waited for Vanessa to join in, but to her surprise she didn’t.
“I just got back from a funeral,” Vanessa said.
“Who died?”
“Do you remember Helena? The old lady who lived down the hall?”
Esther had an image, months old, of the woman who appeared so frightened when she saw her coming to visit Vanessa. “I remember her. How did she die?”
“Heart attack. They had the service over at some synagogue on Fairfax. There were only six people in the place. She left me something.”
“You’re kidding. What?”
“Her china set.”

The Imitation Piece

“That man is fine,” Tanya said mimicking her daughter, adding sternly, “for a white man. A married white man who is older than your daddy. What is your point?”
“My point is he is the kindest man I have ever met other than granddad and daddy

and he is handsome.”

“He’s a doctor. They are supposed to treat their patients kindly. You are reaching to assume he’s like that all the time. Don’t ask me why Dr. Jones picked him for that practice. Did he come on to you because if he did I am sending your Daddy up there right now to speak to Dr. Jones?”
“NO! That is exactly my point, mama. I don’t want to date him; I was describing him. Every time I mention a man who is white you go off assuming he’s been inappropriate, or is too old for me, or too whatever, and it boils down to his just being white that upsets you. All through high school it made you crazy when the boys came over.”
“Did not.”

“Did, too.”

“Did not.”

“Did, too. Do you want me to get Daddy in here? You treat Deidre’s husband like he is the bag boy at Kroger. You even managed to miss their wedding reception and both of their baby showers. Those are your nieces and nephews, my cousins! And you wonder why Aunt Bea doesn’t visit like she used to. You’re prejudice, Mama.”
“I am not prejudice. I just have concerns when it comes to strangers. Men strangers. You are a beautiful girl who is still too trusting. Bad as your father. Lends money to fools then wonders why they don’t pay it back on time.”
“Wait a minute, Mama, now I don’t have good judgment regarding men? I am 29 years old with 2 degrees, no children or ex-husbands. I’ve passed girlhood, Mama. My judgment has been great so far other than the normal bumps of heart break.”
“I still don’t understand what happened with Eric?” Tanya said irritably.
“Don’t even go there, Mama. I am not revisiting that debacle. You date him,” she burst out laughing imagining her mother with Eric. That would be a battle of the bullheaded. Mama loved being queen with Daddy. Her dad was a saint. He indulged her mother’s bossiness until she crossed the line; then, “Queen Bee” backed up real fast. He was laid back, but he didn’t lack a spine. If she ever found a man like Daddy she’d marry him even if he were ugly, she giggled to herself.
“What’s so funny, Elaine?” asked Tanya tersely.

“Oh, nothing, mama. All I’m saying is it’s a new day. It’s not as simple as black and white. You know what we need in addition to “Bring Your Child to Work Day”? We need a “Bring Your Mother to Work Day”! You want to come spend a day with me at work and meet every kind of person under the sun? That University is so huge. I bet there are at least two of every kind of people on this earth who work there.”
Lord, this child burned her when she called her out on this white people thing. She didn’t know the half of it. Growing up dark-skinned in Louisiana in the late 50s and the 60s was something her daughter had no understanding of except on an intellectual level. She remembered each day walking to school past the gang members who touched them or said dirty things and, then, laughed when they cried or ran away, knowing tomorrow they would be walking past again. She continued arriving at the schoolhouse that was the second leg of the obstacle course. The white nuns sat us dark-skinned kids in the back row of the classroom and the lighter kids up front. The nuns never hesitated to slap or hit us for any behavior they deemed wrong, which was everything we said or did. God forbid being sent to the Priest who put his hands on our private places. Yes, we learned to speak and write properly but at what cost? So, Elaine was right. It made her skin crawl when all those teenage boys of all colors were in her house with her babies. She kept an eagle eye on them until Cliff insisted she go shopping or visiting, promising he would keep watch on those boys. Wonderful Cliff. He kept her sane when her fears got out of hand. He liked those boys. He knew all their names and what position they played on which team. He did keep their daughters safe. He understood her fears. They grew up together. He knew. If she could only find Cliffs for her girls, her life’s work would be complete. And, she would be surrounded by little deep brown grand babies. 
—Author, Carol Brown

It should be obvious that the writer has imitated Campbell’s style well. Also, the story would invite a continuation. And as Captain of this training cruise, I have been contemplating asking the author to extend this story, perhaps, in THE MANA SUNSET. I shall keep you informed as to my final decision and the response of the writer.

Now, you might wonder how were the conferences set? I set up a sign-up sheet with conference times during the designated class sessions and outside of these session times. About two weeks prior to these conferences, the crewmembers chose their times.

On the first day of conferences, I went to the classroom where sessions were held and gave the prompt. In the week prior, I assigned every person in a group. They were in groups of 4 or 5. So, while I was meeting with my individual crewmembers in my office, the remaining crewmembers were participating in the same group writing activity. What was the activity? Since for extra credit, several had already participated in the “Continuous Blog Short Story” that was on THE MANA BLOG. On a smaller scale, they would do the same within their groups. They knew to bring several sheets of paper, and they knew that every group member was to participate in the discussion of the development of the story and the writing. They were to write their own “continuous short story.” And each group had the same prompt—a chair.

Yes, a chair. This surprised them. Their incredulous looks made me chuckle. My logic for choosing such a prompt? I had experienced their writings; I knew they had the talent to take on any challenging writing assignment. Geez, this was a creative writing course; this prompt challenged their creativity.

And as crewmembers would come to the conference, I would inquire how the activity was working. They were responding well. Of course, there were a few crewmembers that would digress from the subject matter; however, other group members would get them back on the subject. And I planned to discuss any digressive suggestions with any crewmember via e-mail or during his/her conference. Still, for the most part, this unique assignment was being performed well.

After every session a designated group member would place in my mailbox his/her group’s continuous short story.

So, most definitely, Tuesday and Thursday proved to be very productive days.

I look forward to next week!

WEEK 15, MONDAY, APRIL 27, 2015

I can hardly believe this is the 2nd to the last week on this academic cruise. However, it is. And so much has been accomplished. My crew has written just about every kind. I have pushed them out of their so-called comfort zones, expecting different genre. I have tried to give them topics that would force them to dig deep into their creative souls. And they have responded well.

As you may recall, this week they would be engaged in two different writing assignments. On Tuesday, in groups they would conclude their “continuous short story.” The prompt was a blue swivel chair that I used to sit in, especially since I have been ill. At the end of the session, they submitted their stories, and I continued with my conferences.

On Thursday, the crew knew I would have to take personal leave day. For that day I would have a substitute instructor who was a regular part-time captain of the cruise line and, most importantly, the author of Sweet Ache: Poetry of the Soul. So, for about forty minutes, the crew would be writing on one last work that would cover the following three items:

1) How have you grown as a writer?
2) What has contributed to that growth?
3) How do you plan on expanding that growth?

Now, after the crew wrote their responses, the remainder of the session, the author/instructor, Elesia Powell, would entertain questions about her work and discuss those poems the students would want to discuss. The prior week when I mentioned to them that Ms. Powell would be attending, several looked quite interested and pleased. So, I trust this should have been a good session. 

Now, let me reflect on the “continuing short story” assignment that took place for three days. As I noted in last week’s blog, they were surprised by the prompt—a chair. So, I was looking forward to seeing what they would devise from such a non-descript prompt.

There were five (5) groups; let me share just two of the stories:

From a group of four, two males and two females, the title of this group’s story is  “Mission Report.”

My name is Danny Dreamer. I am eight years old and in the third grade at Meadowsdale Elementary School. I’m reporting to base to confirm that my teacher, Ms. Jane T. Kirk, is, in fact, an alien. I’ve studied the subject, and I have found the definite signs that Mrs. Kirk is an extraterrestrial.
During Science class we did this science experiment with test tubes and everything where I saw her make this concoction of green goo. It seeped through her fingers, stuck to everything, and claimed everything it touched. I was sure that that green goo took DNA samples of the students, so she and her other alien comrades could study us human children. Possibly, clone us!
Another example that I have found that confirmed my suspicion of Mrs. Kirk being an alien was her voice and how she talked. Mrs. Kirk’s voice was unlike anyone else’s in the school. Sometimes, children and other teachers couldn’t understand what she was saying. I have even heard her talk on her phone during lunchtime using her home plant’s language! It incorporated clicks and noises I’ve never heard before. Again, I proved Mrs. Kirk was an alien! 
The most important piece of evidence that I have found was Mrs. Kirk’s space ship! She has hid it very well. Her ship has taken the form of this blue office chair in our classroom. The “blue chair” would glide effortlessly across the room when Mrs. Kirk was sitting in it as if it were hovering. She guarded the chair closely, fending off any children who attempted to sit in it. This must have been the vessel she used to travel to her home planet.
Danny Dreamer reporting from the Meadowsdale Paranormal Investigation Agency, signing out [Teacher Walks in].

From a group of five, four females and one male, the title of this group’s story is  “Haworth.”

Once, there was a factory that made chairs. The chairs were all named Haworth because that was what the factory workers put on them all. All the Haworths were born the same way; first, the frames were made out if plastic, cooked inside by enormous machines, and, then, assembled and put together, screwing the legs in place, and making sure each chair was properly sturdy. All the Haworth were little plastic reading chairs, perfect for little girls and boys to sit and read in or color or paint or have snacks.
One day one little Haworth was having a worker screw on its tiny plastic legs. The worker, who happened, also, to be a fairy in disguise, gave a tremendous sneeze, letting out a little cloud of fairy dust. The fairy dust fell all over Haworth, finding its way into all of Haworth’s nooks and crannies. Since nobody saw this, the chair simply continued on down the line, through the place where it was packaged up, and out to the shipping area. Even now, the magic was working on Little Haworth.
Meanwhile, searching through the children’s section of the department store, a mother and father were quite in a dither. They were searching for the perfect gift for their daughter, Olive. They looked and looked through aisles of dolls, games, stuffed animals, and action figures, and bikes.
“Oh dear,” said the mother fretfully, I’m afraid they’ve sold out. What will we do?”
“Don’t worry, Honey,” her husband assured her. “We’ll just get this one instead.” So, they picked up a small, plastic Haworth table-and-chair set and brought it home for Olive’s birthday.
When the day arrived, Olive was ecstatic. She rushed through all of the party games as fast as she could, constantly asking, “Is it time, yet?”
Finally, Mother brought out a big box with polka dot wrapping paper. Olive tore into it, then, paused, her smile fading and let out, “Haw-worth?”
“Now, I know it’s not exactly the one you wanted, but it still is very nice,” her mother reassured her.
A little disappointed Olive asked, “Can we still set it up, now?”
Mother smiled and answered, “We sure can.”
Seated in her new chair with a picture book, Olive said aloud, “Well, it’s not the wooden one I wanted, but it’s okay.”
Haworth heard her words; and so, with a sparkle and some flash, he transformed into the little wooden writing desk set Olive wanted.
Olive couldn’t believe her eyes and exclaimed, “What just happened!?” 
A voice as light as gossamer thread answered her, “I heard your words, Sweet Child, and I wanted to be what you were wishing for. I hope this is it.”
Olive realized that Haworth could speak! She laughed and hugged him, saying, “Oh, yes! I think you’re wonderful! We’ll be best friends.”
As the years ticked by, that’s how it was with Olive and Haworth. She created some of her best finger paintings on him. She read her first book on him, all by herself! And all the while, he was changing with her. As five turned to seven, then, ten, and Olive became not so little anymore, Haworth, also, grew into a big girl desk with more space for stickers and pencils.
In elementary school, Haworth was where Olive created her first prize-winning science fair project. Eighth grade was a big year for Olive and Haworth. Haworth became a beanbag where Olive did homework and cried after a boy broke her heart. Then, came high school, where Dave, the champion soccer star, had a serious accident and broke her leg on a goal post. Haworth never left her side, changing into her recovery wheelchair until she became better.
In her final semester of undergraduate school, Olive found herself still being bolstered by Haworth. Olive was sprawled out on Haworth, who was now a well-worn futon. Amid a sea of notebooks, textbooks, Post-its, and loose-leaf, she could not have made it through those all-night cramming sessions without him.
Having graduated with honors, Olive became a successful editor, sitting in Haworth, the blue swivel chair. They were together for many late nights, running to make deadlines. Haworth had even acquired a coffee stain from a frazzled Olive the day she met John. She could barely get out a full sentence, let alone see straight. Her scalding hot coffee came down on both of them. It was a good thing John was there, and Haworth just chuckled to himself as he watched Olive fall in love, again.
At Olive’s wedding Haworth transformed into a beautiful bench at the front of the altar. After the ceremony Olive playfully threw petals from the bouquet onto Haworth’s bench seat. 
After a long wait, what joy there was when a little girl was born! Haworth was as overjoyed as Olive was, and, to show his excitement, he turned into a tiny high chair for the child. 
Years later, there was Haworth, a footstool under Olive’s feet. Here knees not what they once were, Haworth tried to make her as comfortable as possible.
Finally, in her twilight years, Olive sat rocking comfortably in Haworth, her sturdy rocking chair. From her porch she sat looking out at her grandchildren playing in the lake. As the sun began to set on that beautiful scene, Olive ran her hands along the smooth wood of Haworth’s arm rests and said, “It’s been a wonderful ride, old friend.”

So, you have two samples of the kind of stories that grew from that writing exercise. I have had copies made for everyone so that everyone will be able to read each group’s continuous short story. Next week on Tuesday, they will discuss them while I shall be finishing my last set of conferences. I am certain they will find them as interesting as I have.

Perhaps, I shall share two more with you. So, until next week, I hope you have enjoyed these creative works by my crew! 

Week 16, May 4, 2015

On Tuesday, I completed my conferences with crew. While I was involved with my crew in conferences, the remaining crew read out loud each group’s continuous short story that had a prompt, a chair. I had made copies of every group’s short story so that every student would have a copy. This proved to be a worthwhile exercise as my crew in the session shared with me in the last crew meeting on Thursday.

Now, back to the conferences, my goodness, I was not disappointed. Each crewmember presented a final that was exemplary. Two in particular made an extremely significant impression, so much so that I asked both if I could use their works to begin a series on the MarketingNewAuthors.com (MANA) web site. They were very different. One by Carol Brown was an extension of her imitation style assignment. Like a BeBe Moore Campbell’s Brothers and Sisters, she developed a piece with a similar tone but different characters experiencing different situations. The other by Kira Tompkins was an original work that explored the theme of good vs. evil. These final exam conferences provided me with material that I wanted to use after this cruise ended in other capacities.

Now, upon my returning from my personal leave, the crew’s written responses to my questions were in my mailbox. Let me just give you a sample of the responses:

  1. How have you grown as a writer?
  2. What has contributed to that growth?
  3. How do you plan on expanding that growth?

Response from Crewmember A:

Looking at different genres or writing. Reading others’ writing.
Expanding my knowledge in more than one genre and practicing

I’ve grown as a writer by finding out brainstorming would help
create a clear message.

I plan on expanding my growth as a writer by reading the genre I
am more interested in writing—poetry. Also, I plan to even dibble
in different kinds of poetry.

Responses from Crewmember B:

I’ve learned to look at my own writing objectively. There was a time I didn’t respond well to having my writing critiqued negatively. I felt quite secure in the knowledge that my writing was better than most and required no substantial improvements. This, of course, has turned out not to be the case.

I’ve seen the beautiful work I can create if I step outside of my comfort zone. Writing what was unfamiliar to me forced me to new subject matter and utilized new perspective. In doing so I’ve  created some things that I’m really happy with.

I’ve learned how beneficial it can be to work with other creative people. There was a time when I kept prewriting as a solitary process. I would only share my pieces with instructors for the purpose of getting a grade. However, when you’re in a situation where you can have your work evaluated by talented people and bounce ideas off of them, growth comes easy.

Trying new forms of writing has certainly contributed to my growth. I would have never thought I could enjoy writing a children’s story [this responder’s children’s story was one of the ones in the publication, Community College Students’ Literary Collage] or a play before. Going back to the basics has also helped. Sometimes, requiring basic grammar can be extremely helpful, too.

I plan to keep reading and writing and surrounding myself with creative people.

Response from Crewmember C:

I have grown as a writer in several ways.  I am not as afraid to  share my ideas with people because I have realized that a majority
of people aren’t going to be rude or judgmental. Being in this class, 
especially, has helped me to realize how supportive people can be.
I have also grown in the realm of the actual content of my stories. I
have learned that I am much more creative than I thought. This re-
alization is very exciting for me.

The things that have contributed to this growth have happened,
both inside and outside of this classroom. As a person, I think in
the past year I have really figured out who I am and who I want to
be further in adulthood. This has given me more confidence in my-
self. In the classroom the warm reception of my work from my 
peers has shown me that not all of my creative ideas are silly and 
that I am better at creative writing than I thought.

I plan on expanding my growth by writing more on my own time.
I think I may try getting a journal to try to improve myself further.
I think creative writing is a fun way to express myself. I may even 
give writing poems another shot [yes, she should because one of 
her poems is in the publication Community College Students’ Lit-
erary Collage].

Response from Crewmember D:

As a writer, I have grown as I have become more aware of the va-
rious styles of more modern writings. Reading these, along with 
the individual styles of my fellow students, has helped to increase
my knowledge and understanding of those styles, as well as my 
own personal style. The most helpful tips I could have learned are
all those rules for commas.

The highest contributor to my growth is, of course, the hard work 
efforts of my teacher. Everything this class has taught us has been 
a blessing.

I plan to expand my growth by keeping on writing and using all
this class has taught me in more of my work. Thank you for all 
your hard work [she names me, her captain—I am humbled when I read this response]. I am very glad to have had you.

These are representative of my crew’s responses. You may have noted that the growth was not always a welcomed or pleasant experience. And this is a key lesson my crew needs to learn when they become captains of their ships. When one is going to be a leader, s/he must know what s/he wants to accomplish and why and not be dissuaded if one’s methods are not popular or immediately embraced. A leader is not always popular; that is not her purpose. This I had learned many years ago; that is what has made me have a drive for making the expectations of every crewmember high. And the end results will be for most of the crew be achieved and beyond what even the crew could have ever expected.

On Thursday, the last day of this cruise, I passed out evaluation sheets that addressed my performance as captain as well as the materials used during these sixteen weeks of training. The questions contained are the following:

  1. Have you received your money’s worth? Why? Why not?
  2. Do you see the value of this course for your life? Briefly explain.
  3. Would you recommend this instructor to another student? Why? Why not?
  4. Which assignment would you eliminate? Why?
  5. What would be the replacement assignment? Why?
  6. Which assignment would you keep? Why?
  7. Did you ever consider dropping the course? Why? What or who changed your mind? If you never considered dropping, why not? This question may sound silly. However, the instructor wants to determine what motivates students to drop or stay in college.
  8. Any general suggestions for improving the instructor’s teaching of the course?
  9. What else could the initial orientation contain that would have better prepared you for this course?

As you see my evaluation is not one in which individuals darken circles of “yes” and “no” questions. I expect answers that go beyond an affirmative or a negative. I need to know why. This helps me improve my skills as a leader, a captain, a professor. I am not interested in having answers that “puff up” my ego. I am pretty confident in my skills. However, with every class (cruise) I strive to improve. And I so strongly believe that the day I cannot improve that is the day I must be removed. Hopefully, I shall know when to remove myself before that day comes.

Oh, at the end of this last session, I presented to each member his/her own gratis copy of Community College Students’ Literary Collage. Yes, within this semester I was able to take their work, have it reviewed and recommended, or not, by a review board member, proofed, edited (always maintaining the writer’s voice), and submitted to the printer to yield this fine collection of short stories for children, short stories for adults, poetry, and short plays. I believe so very strongly that if one believes in his/her crew (students’ skills) that individual must do more than just chit chat about it or tell them they are doing a good job. So, having the blessing to fulfill dual roles as a professor (captain) and publisher, I had the resources to make their work come to fruition as a professionally published piece that will be marketed to more than those just at their college. Their book is showcased and available to be bought on the MarketingNewAuthors.com website. Most of the profit of this work will go to this crew’s college. Indeed, I am proud and so very humbled to have been the captain of the crewmembers of this Academic Cruise for Winter 2015.  

Also, I am pleased with my crew’s evaluation of my performance as captain and pleased with the materials used. I am excited about the publication. I am eager to begin a new cruise very soon. It will be a tad different. However, I shall be ready to leave port for another adventure. I shall discuss it with you next week!

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