Hi! My name is Sidney Marsh and I am a travel agent, a rare breed. The big financial boys at the airlines tried their best to take all of us out, but for now, I’m still working. I’m grateful for my job. I love travel. Period. And, fortunately, I get to travel a lot for free, because I don’t mind shepherding senior citizens around the world. I like old folks, they like me, and I make just enough to afford my rent. Barely, but that’s New York.

The agency that I work for, Itchy Feet Travel, is in the heart of New York City, and I can tell you that’s a long, long way from my little home town in Mississippi. I came to New York seven years ago as a summer temp. Then I fell in love with the Big Apple, managed to turn that tiny little job into a career, and never looked back. Maybe someday I’ll go back and finish college. Maybe not. No matter what my mother says, I think I’m getting a pretty good education just doing what I do.

I am 27 years old, with long black hair and big gray eyes. I wear a size 6 and am 5’8”, so I’m not fat, not thin, not old, not young, just pretty OK looking, I think, in my black Manhattan uniform. In all our black, we New Yorkers really look like a colony of cat burglars, don’t we?

My agency handles mostly leisure travel and a lot of groups. Most of the people who work here are good, very good, very experienced. I am, too. I can fare a Buddhist monk to Sri Lanka and back with three stopovers before you can say veg meal, and without once calling the help desk.

In the last few years, I have done more and more work for special groups, and the most special group of all, to me, anyway, is the High Steppers. Don’t be put off by the name. This is not some dance group trying to knock off the Rockettes. The High Steppers are senior citizens, God love them, and I am their shepherd.

I finished the final details of the High Steppers cruise through Scandinavia to Russia late on Friday afternoon. With all the phone calls and interruptions, it took me almost until closing to get their travel bags assembled. I was excited about the cruise, and looking forward to co-leading the High Steppers group with my wild and crazy best friend and colleague, Jay Wilson.

“I’m outta here,” I said to Roz, our receptionist. “See you on the 15th.”

“Good luck with them High Steppers, hon. I gotta tell ya, I wouldn’t trade jobs with you for nothing!”

I waved goodbye and rushed down the steps into the subway, with about a million details of the High Steppers cruise bouncing around in my head. I didn’t know then how much or how soon I would need all that good luck that Roz was wishing me and more!

I wasn’t thinking about luck. I was too busy. I had too much else to do before I could board the Rapture of the Deep. I didn’t think about luck at all until it ran out. That happened on the first morning at sea, when Jay and I found one of my High Steppers dead as a hammer in her cabin, laid out cold in her bed on that big, luxurious cruise ship.

Come sail with us in SHORE EXCURSION! It’s a great cruise. You’ll love it…if you make it back alive!

You can read more about Sidney in SHORE EXCURSION, the first book in the new “Sidney Marsh Murder Mystery” travel mystery series.

Meet the author:
Shore Excursion is Marie Moore’s first novel, but not her first writing experience, and like Sidney Marsh, she is a native Mississippian. She graduated from Ole Miss, married a lawyer in her hometown, taught junior high science, raised a family, and worked for a small weekly newspaper, first as a writer and later as Managing Editor. She wrote hard news, features and a weekly column, sold ads, did interviews, took photos, and won a couple of MS Press Association awards for some of her stories.

In 1985, Marie left the newspaper to open a retail travel agency. For the next 15 years, she managed her agency, sold travel, escorted group tours, sailed on 19 cruises, and visited over 60 countries. Much of the background of Shore Excursion is inspired by that experience. Marie is a member of Sisters in Crime. For more info take a look at www.mariemooremysteries.com and visit her on Facebook.

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