Sunrise over Owens Stanley Range in Papua New Guinea
In early 2012, a new journey began for Jewel Writer Duo (JWD)
. The authors of Nigerian Gems: Expatriate Tales of Adventure
set their sites on the world's second largest island of New Guinea. Following Gems'
success of inviting a community of expatriates in a remote locale to tell their story, we were commissioned to recount tales in Papua New Guinea, The Land of the Unexpected. ExxonMobil contracted with JWD to compile, write and edit this book for use as an HR tool to invite potential workers abroad. The anecdotal tales of life in Papua New Guinea allow people to picture themselves living, working and playing there. The book also explains life to friends and family while giving armchair travelers a thrill.
In February, Gail hosted Jo for a whirlwind week in PNG. Thus began the data collection to write Papua New Guinea Pearls: An Expat Perspective
. The time together in country was filled with parties -- foremost, the project's kick-off event -- touring, meetings with wonderful people and more. No one could escape the Duo's interest. A warm, welcoming time it was. We were so blessed to have many people share their amazing tales from dive trips with sharks to volcanoes and WWII history to helping hands in the community. Expats certainly know how to make a life and home quickly anywhere in the world and reap the rewards. And of course, there was the multifaceted, immense natural gas project which spear-headed this endeavor. JWD was bowled over on the site tour.
Here are a couple of photos of the Duo at Royal Papua Yacht Club and Loloata Island Resort. On the nearby getaway, we hoped to snorkel with the fishies and try not to work for a few hours. Wrong. As we lay on the sand, we planned the days ahead and discussed book layout ideas. It was a happy, exhausting time.
In mid-March, Gail returned to Houston, TX to join Jo for an intense period of writing and editing -- roughly 40,000+ words in six weeks or less! JWD hunched over computer keyboards crafting stories and talked on the phone for hours conferring about them. On the other side of this stretch of 70-hour work weeks, we hoped to have some semblance of a personal life. We'd have each other anyway! Family and friends indulged our nonstop interest in this faraway place and cheered us on when we became frustrated or tired.
Joining our Pearls
team was Pam James, of Pamela James Photography www.PamelaJamesPhotography.com
, who ooh'd and ahh'd over the hundreds of photos of PNG. Then, she edited them for use in the book. With many, Pam crafted creative montages to highlight topics such as souvenirs, markets, nature and more. They say a photo is worth a thousand words, and if that is the case, Pearls
actually reveals nearly 200,000 words in pics.
When JWD felt the work was complete, we held a 15-hour read aloud session. Then on Tax Day, Pearls
went to the Company for first approval. We collapsed. But a few days later, we hung on the phone with one another, missing the excitement of daily conferences. In a timely fashion, the manuscript was returned to JWD. It had been reviewed by a team (count 'em -- six people) at ExxonMobil with comments from all. JWD was grateful for the well-rounded input, including Papua New Guinean Company employees, who offered insight on all aspects of culture. Nationals also share personal stories in Pearls,
giving wonderful context to topics ranging from rites of passage to integration of tradition and technology. Check out our cover (soon to be released) which highlights this with humor. PNG is an ancient, yet young, independent country and faces both challenges and opportunities from this marriage of old and new. The stories from both sides of this evolving country help readers to understand and appreciate the wonders they discover in PNG.
After implementation of the Company's comments, JWD held a second major read-through. It took so long Gail spent the night at Jo's house, and the marathon continued into the next day. Next, the manuscript was read by Sara Dobbs, who also consulted on Nigerian Gems
. Her expertise as a cultural trainer, once again, led to thoughtful and encouraging feedback. Editor and proof reader, Miranda Enzor, then took a second look at the book in total. From there, it was back to the Company.
In early May, through the skills of Mark Ricks, PNG Pearls
began its transformation from JWD's vision into the reality of a book in hand. After this interactive graphic design stage, Gail heads to PNG to print locally in June. And in July, Pearls
Here's a view of Port Moresby taken during a bushwalk across an inland ridge. It's a peek at the beauty and fascination of a life abroad in PNG.
Gail & Jo
Jewel Writer Duo