This photo shoot has left me feeling a little shellfish

imageIn my younger days, while working through kitchens in the Deep South to become a chef, I shucked a lot of oysters. Probably thousands. Honestly, it was a crazy shucking time in my life. But while I used plenty of oysters for cooking, I also flung my share onto people during fake sneezes, or while pretending to cough up something.

Often they would ask, “What are you, a shucking comedian?”

Looking back now, I guess it’s no surprise I eventually traded my chef’s knives for a humor columnist’s keyboard.

So the irony wasn’t lost on me when, nearly 20 years after becoming a columnist, I found myself standing in front of a camera posing with a freshly shucked oyster. Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis knows that stranger things have happened to me. In this case, however, it wasn’t on a security tape or just a really bad attempt at a sexy selfie for my wife. It was for the cover of my new book coming out in September:

Pearls of Writing Wisdom: (From 16 years as a shucking columnist).

Obviously, the title demanded an oyster be on the cover. Mostly because of the Oysters Union. In fact, the only reason I’m on the cover at all is because someone had to hold the demanding little crustacean in the proper light. I had no idea the photographer, Joshua Greene, was shooting us both. In fact, the only input I had was on deciding whether to have it open or closed. After debating the merits of both, I finally just said, “shuck it” and popped it open. 

What follows is a series of photos from that shoot which, like that first one, are being considered for the cover. My apologies in advance to any of you with a weak stomach or who are currently suffering from seafood poisoning. I know this may seem a little shellfish, but as members of my blogging family I would really appreciate your input on this. I’ve numbered the photos so you can let me know which one you think would make you freak out catch your attention if you saw it on a book shelf…


Trying to look insightful (and failing)
Trying to look insightful (and failing)



The eyeborw raise is my version of "Blue Steel."
The eyeborw raise is my version of “Blue Steel.”



That moment in your career when you realize you're being upstaged by an oyster.
That moment in your career when you realize you’re being upstaged by an oyster.



When your photographer points out you've spent the better part of your morning holding an oyster.
When your photographer points out you’ve spent the better part of your morning holding an oyster.



After two hours under lights, an oyster really starts to stink.
After two hours under lights, an oyster really starts to stink.



One of those "stranger things have happened" things I was talking about. (And no, this won't be on the cover.)
One of those “stranger things have happened” things I was talking about. (And no, this won’t be on the cover.)

If you made it through this post, thank you for your dedication! Or maybe it’s just a morbid curiosity. Whatever the reason, I’d appreciate your input on which photo you’d pick for the book cover, keeping in mind that No. 6 has already been chosen for the “Drinking and Duning Don’t Mix” campaign.

In all seriousness, this book has been a longtime coming, written specifically to help writers find their voice, direction and inspiration when they need it — a writer’s survival guide of sorts. My thanks to all of YOU for your constant support and inspiration, and for being a part of my writer’s survival kit.

By the way, I still have that oyster if anyone wants it…








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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

74 thoughts on “This photo shoot has left me feeling a little shellfish”

  1. I’d go for the eyebrow-raising one. Although, you must find a way to put the last one in somewhere, maybe the backflap? Congrats on another book, Ned! I look forward to buying it.

  2. Nixing the oyster offer, but thanks. And if Photo #6 is already spoken for, I’d pick Photo #2 as it conveys just the right mix of derring-do, confidence, and “come any closer and I’ll cut a bitch” to your readers.

  3. Reblogged this on Kate McClelland and commented:
    Hahaha That oyster surrendered. It had given up on life as a filter feeder and thrown itself in the oyster net.
    What does ‘The world is your oyster’ mean anyway? – The world s full of grey gunk, but there might just be a small calcified lump of dried mucous wrapped around a particle of sand in it for you?
    I don’t now how anyone could eat anything that looked like a consumptive’s specimen sample. I’d go with picture 6 :0)

    1. Lol! I’ve never understood how that phrase is supposed to be inspirational either. All I know is that they can be a pain to shuck. Maybe that’s the lesson?

      And if I go with No. 6 for the cover, the book signings are going to be really awkward…

      1. You could always take along a large beach towel, or maybe re-enact the ‘Venus of the sea’ painting (you’d have to re-do the photo shoot with you standing in a rather larger oyster with a long blonde wig for that one though). At least once seen you’d never forget the cover hahaha

  4. Oh, for heavens sake, man. You KNOW I can’t see beyond #6.
    I like the more natural, relaxed you of #4.
    (And #6 as a bonus poster, for those who subscribe to shuckers weekly, perhaps? :p )

    1. Hahaha! I’m assuming when you say you “can’t see beyond #6” you mean you have literally lost your sight. I hear that can happen when you see something traumatic…

  5. Put them ALL on the cover. There must be many more if someone was snapping pics for 2 hours. Why limit us to only one? That’s just Shellfish! Your #6 could be Waldo. A good book AND a game…..everyone wins.

  6. I really like #4. You have a nice smile and it portrays someone with a quirky sense of humor. As for #6? The funny thing is.. when I was reading the earlier that you had stranger things happen, that EXACT picture popped into my head! LOL! Ugh… what does that say about me?? ha ha ha ha ha! 😛

  7. #1 Insight and failing looks good for the cover of a helpfully humorous book.

    PS: My 13-year-old Marvel-crazy son just walked by as I was looking at the pictures. He said, “What’s he selling?” I said, “Oysters.” He said, “Looks like Tony Stark. He doesn’t sell oysters.”

  8. 1. Why am I holding an oyster? Didn’t you have any spare change in your pocket?
    2. See what I have? And you can’t have any. It’s mine!!! All mine!!!
    3. I’m scared to death of these. One time, the little bastard bit me. Please, please, please take it.
    4. *The one I’d go for!*
    5. I think I shit my pants. Actually, I’m sure of it. Will you hold this oyster while I go check?
    6. It happens to everybody. That moment when you realize that you’re going to slide down a sand dune on your bare butt.

  9. Well at least I know I’m not totally off in my perceptions. I was thinking that you resemble Robert Downey Jr. in some of those pics and I was validated. 🙂 Picture #2, since #6 is out of the question.

  10. Hmm… tricky! I’d probably say number 5. I also quite liked number 2, apart from the fact that the way you’re holding the knife gives the picture a slight deranged ax murderer vibe to it.

  11. Ok, I’m still lmao here! Clever, clever my friend. I’m caught somewhere between photo #2 a tinge of seriousness, or #4, a cunning smile, letting me know the book is written with humour. If that’s the case, go #4. If that’s not the case, then, . . .the book should be written with humour, lol. I will also add, I reallyyyyyyyyyyyy wanted #6, so maybe you’ll just have to implement that photo somewhere in the book LOL. 🙂

  12. #4 for sure! It’s candid, genuine, and happy. It shows joy and pleasure, like you’ve actually enjoyed your 16 years as a shucking columnist.

  13. I’d do number two, which is incidentally what you’ll be doing when you eat that oyster…oh wait, is that how picture number 6 came about?
    Guess the title of your third book will not have any fish references, heah?;)

  14. This whole post makes my heart happy. You are the real deal, Ned! You give shucking hope to the rest of us.
    As for photos, I’m a fan of Blue Steel (duh!) and #4. #6 would have worked, but you’re missing an apron and a lawn mower…just sayin’

    When’s launch date? May I pre-order? Do you need a beta reader? You’be helped me so much, I want to help in any way I can.

    1. Thanks so much for all your support, Michelle 😉 The book’s coming out in September, and I’ll definitely be calling on you about a fun promo idea I have. No thong involved, I swear! Plus, your new newsletter is genius. I’ve got to start one of those.

      Again, thanks so much!

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