We writers are expected to wear two hats, that of an introvert who retreats to her writing cave and excels in words, phrases, and commas; and that of an extrovert, a flamboyant artist who tells tales and binds an audience under her spell. And sometimes, we’re expected to wear both hats at the same time.

This summer and fall, I couldn’t wear both hats and meet my publication deadline for the final book in the trilogy, “In Search of Adventure and Moments of Bliss.” Something had to go, and that something turned out to be this blog. My sincere apologies to my followers.

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My lowly gardening and pool hat and my expressive roaring twenties hat. I failed to wear both at the same time.

Last Monday, The Long Way Back went on the press in Anaheim, and since then, I’ve donned my extrovert hat. I’ll be launching the book after it’s printed.

Meanwhile, here are photos from the press check:

 

 

 

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My book designer, Alfred Williams of Multimedia Arts, and the owners and staff of LightSource Printing have been wonderful! I can’t wait to unveil the gripping conclusion to my nautical trilogy, “In Search of Adventure and Moments of Bliss.” Coming soon to Amazon and www.LoisJoyHofmann.com.

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It has to be done. It’s all part of the process. An author agonizes over writing every line of the book manuscript. Then he or she fusses about the editing, the formatting, the layout, the cover. When all that creative work is finally completed, the author—an introvert during this time, working in PJs—is forced to change roles and to promote his or product, first to get it published, and then to get it sold.

I’d gone through the process once, but that didn’t make it easier the second time around. Because now, with two books on the market and a third book still “in creative,” I’m expected to take on both roles, sometimes within the same day: donning my “presentation clothes” and my smiley face to promote the first two of the series, and then changing to my PJs and trying to get into my creative mode. Schizophrenic? You bet!

This spring, I presented at the Pt. Loma Optimists Club, MOAA (Military Officers Association) check exact name, Southwestern Yacht Club, Pacific Beach Library, and Upstart Crow in San Diego; and at Changing Hands bookstore in Phoenix. I exhibited at Strictly Sail Oakland (the largest sailboat convention on the West Coast), at the SCWC booth at the L.A. Festival of Books, and participated in the downtown library’s Local Author Exhibit. I gave on-line interviews and two podcasts: The Sailing Podcast by David Anderson, an Australian, and The Gathering Road on Women’s Radio, by Elaine Masters.

I breathed a sigh of relief when my last presentation on the Spring Author Tour, at West Marine on May 10th, was over.  I can’t say I enjoyed all the organizing, setting up the displays, and hauling those heavy books (over 2 pounds each) to various venues! Always, before I speak, I worry about forgetting what I want to say. So I update my cards, tailoring them for each event. But when I begin to speak, I relate to my audience and my stage fright dissipates. I just go with the flow. I wrote this nautical series because I wanted to share. I realize that when I speak, I’m still sharing, but in another way.

Gunter also frets over whether the computer and projector will work. But at the end, he loves interacting with audiences! The Q&A afterwards is our favorite part. Why? Perhaps it’s because we haven’t lost the love for that surge of adrenalin that occurs when one is living on the edge. We never know what question will lead to yet another revelation about adventure travel.

Audience questions challenge us and perk up our lives. And many of those we meet become our readers and our friends.

Here are a few photos from my Spring Author Tour. To see more, please visit my author Facebook page.

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When Gunter and I embarked on our circumnavigation in 2000, I expected that we, of that small group crammed in between the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers, would merely be forerunners for the great migration to the world’s oceans to be created when the Baby Boomers retired.  Certainly nothing, especially the dangers of the Seven Seas, would hold back that bold generation!

That expectation has not come to pass. Advancements in navigation and technology and have certainly made long distance sailing safer than ever. But piracy throughout the world has made the oceans more dangerous. Our catamaran, Pacific Bliss, sailed the Strait of Malacca, with no problems, in 2006. During January the following year, we crossed the Indian Ocean from Thailand to Sri Lanka to the Maldives and on to the port of Salalah, Oman on the Arabian Sea.

In Oman, we formed a flotilla of 5 yachts to transit the 660-mile stretch called Pirate Alley. Although the entire area seemed on Red Alert, with British and American coalition warships communicating over the airwaves and drones flying overhead to check us out, our biggest scare was being approached by local fishermen.  (See my story, Passage Through Pirate Alley, on SCRIBD). We were relieved to reach Aden, Yemen and during our one week in that port, toured inland to Sanaa, the capital, now off-limits to tourists.

Oman and Yemen had been used to having about 200 yachts pass through their waters each year on their way to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. What a difference now!  Fear of piracy has spread across the entire Arabian Sea, forcing circumnavigators all the way around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, to enter the Mediterranean Sea through the Strait of Gibraltar. According to the February 2012 issue of Latitudes and Attitudes, there was a 75% reduction in 2010, and the numbers decreased even more in 2011. “Only a handful of cruisers are willing to pass through the area.  There’s no improvement in sight as planned rallies and cruises for 2012 are being cancelled.”

On the back cover of my book, “Maiden Voyage,” I point out that “Every year, four times more adventurers climb Mt. Everest than complete a circumnavigation of the globe.”  Imagine how this statistic has changed!

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”~ Ben Franklin

I am so fortunate to have followed Benjamin Franklin’s advice: My husband Günter and I have sailed around the world—that was certainly worth doing; afterwards, I wrote the first of three books about our adventures.

In these days of fast-paced communication via E-mail, Facebook, Twitter and more, it seems that snail mail is relegated to advertising, bills, and pleas for contributions.  Imagine my joy when I receive fan mail—by mail! These letters are an unexpected reward for my efforts.  Many of them are handwritten.

I gave a video/slide presentation and talk at the Pt. Loma Optimist Club last summer, where retired Navy Chaplain Jack Wartes bought my book, “In Search of Adventure and Moments of Bliss: MAIDEN VOYAGE.” At 93, Jack is the oldest member of the club.  I have received permission from him to post excerpts from his letters here:

“I have been entirely consumed and excited as I have been reading your great book…I could hardly wait to put it down.  I’m on page 132, just halfway through….I try to imagine being on Pacific Bliss with you.  Your writing and competent descriptions of your long journey are so vivid and interesting.  Now, having scanned ahead to Cabo and then to San Diego, I wonder if you are writing Vol. II that will tell ‘the rest of the story’ of your Pacific crossing and through the Suez and back to France? Our eldest son Greg hopes to buy a Cat.  He has studied them extensively and said he knew about the Catana boats.”

Of course, I wrote back and said that I am diligently working on the second of the trilogy, to be called SAILING THE SOUTH PACIFIC.   Then Jack wrote again:

“My main reaction was that it was so exciting and well written that I could not put it down until I finished the 263 pages, much while competing with the Padres game on TV…I read it in ten days…now I feel like you two are like younger siblings to me after feeling like I was a deck hand while going along with you as I read.  I WAS a deck hand, “CAPTAIN OF THE MUD SCOWS” when I was 20 years old and worked on a dredge in Puget Sound while attending the Univ. of Washington.  I have visited many cities and ports, but not near as many as you two have, but I am still curious to know if, by chance, I have been to one area of this old earth that you may have not yet been able to visit: The Arctic Ocean…Sorry I am so wordy but you have blessed me more than I can express…I believe the best evidence of our God are the splendors and details of His Creation which you have described so completely in your MAIDEN VOYAGE…”

This correspondence has resulted in an invitation to Jack’s home, where I will also meet his 90-year-old wife.  Jack says he plans to try out his umlaut on Günter.

I initially wrote this for a Judy Reeves Writing Workshop. After I volunteered to read it to the class, Judy asked me, “Will this be included in your book?”

“It will be, now,” I told her.

Today, I am holed up in a charming British/Caribbean-style resort on Tortola, BVI, called Fort Recovery. A gentle, tropical rain falls outside my picture window facing the sea. I sit at my laptop, writing my second book, “Sailing the South Pacific.” Here is this section of that book:

The heat of the Papeete harbor is excruciating. Unfortunately, I had selected this day to bake cookies for an afternoon Koffee Klatch with fellow cruisers. As I open the oven to put in the second batch of cookies, steam pours out.  Rivers of sweat run from my hair and drip into my eyes, smearing my mascara. But most irritating is the sweat that I can feel accumulating underneath my breasts. “What the H—!” I fling off my one-piece sundress. I’m in a state of temporary amnesia. I forget that the galley of Pacific Bliss opens into a wide cockpit that can be seen from passersby walking along the quay. We are no longer at sea!

“Hi, Lois,” a man’s voice calls out. “Haven’t seen Pacific Bliss since the Marquesas!” My brain is on autopilot. I step out into the cockpit to answer him, stark naked.

Oh my God!  

The man is Keith, a retired judge from Sacramento, the capital of our home state of California! He and his wife, Susan, are standing on the quay, looking in.

I can feel the flush creep from my throat to my cheeks. Recovering my composure seems impossible, but I try. “Oh, Keith…just a minute until I throw on some clothes.”

I can hear them snickering as I turn. I dash back to the galley, slip the sundress over my head, and step outside, trying to act as if nothing had happened.

“Forgot you were not at sea?” Keith asks. “We also go naked on C’est la Vie when we’re sailing out there.”

This story will spread around Papeete harbor as fast as a cockroach has babies! By the time I attend the Koffee Klatch, everyone will know.

When the time arrives, I steel myself for the embarrassment that will surely follow. But strangely, the story never comes up during the animated chatter. The cruisers have more important subjects to discuss. Some are planning their cruises around the Tahitian Islands. Others, like us, are making plans to pick up and drop off guests. The rest of them, having completed their provisioning, are already saying goodbye and leaving for The Cooks.

Last night was the end of college basketball’s March Madness, the culmination of a sixth-month-long season that has turned twenty-year-olds into national celebrities. UConn squashed Butler, called a small conference “Cinderella.” There would have been a real Cinderella if the San Diego Aztecs had won. The team did make one of Sweet Sixteen play-offs, which just happened to occur within ten minutes of one of my March book signings. Oh well.

I didn’t know, before getting into the book game, that March is the month of madness for writers. March is the month for Spring Book Tours.  Authors hit the road to give readings and to promote their books.  The new, new thing is a Virtual Book Tour, during which, supposedly, one doesn’t have to fly from her writer’s nest. Frankly, I needed a break from my computer and messy desk.  I prefer the physical tour, where I can talk and shake hands with readers and sign their books (many of them purchased on-line).

The Meets & Greets were fun! Those events fueled me for what I am doing now: a writing marathon. Gunter has been my “life mechanic” throughout the MAIDEN VOYAGE book writing-and-touring process. Now he is off to Hong Kong to get away from it all.  And I’m attempting to “write around the clock,” with work-outs, a little sleep, and a few lunches with friends thrown into the mix. My body is sitting at my computer, but my brain is flitting from French Polynesia to the Cook Islands, to Fiji, and on to the remote Banks Islands of Vanuatu, reliving our circumnavigation.  And when I take my walk around Sail Bay, I mumble a few words to those who pass by, but my head is in the clouds.  I’m totally immersed into the second book in my nautical ‘round the world trilogy, to be called SAILING THE SOUTH PACIFIC.  I hope to have it published by the end of this year.  Unless I turn into the Mad Hatter before then!

“There is a place. Like no place on Earth. A land full of wonder, mystery, and danger! Some say to survive it: You need to be as mad as a hatter.” Alice in Wonderland


“Whew!” Relieved to be home, I swung the blue canvas bag over the arm of my easy chair and flopped alongside. Out of the bag fell an assortment of pens, bookmarks, and calling cards.

“No flyers?” asked Gunter. Did you distribute all of those you had printed for the Fiddlers/Sea Breeze event?”

“Yes, most of them. The rest are in the car. I covered all the yacht clubs along Shelter Island and Harbor Island drive. Still more on my TO DO list though.”

“There’s always more to do. But, are you happy? That’s the important thing.”

Happy? I haven’t thought about that lately—in the midst of all the bedlam—preparing for three forthcoming book promotion events.

Those long passages on board Pacific Bliss during our circumnavigation gave me plenty of time to contemplate and to enjoy the path, but now? Now, I’m acting like a landlubber and dirt-dweller, frantically checking off items on my TO DO list and then pouring on more at the beginning of each new day.

“Yes, I am happy…” I shove all the promotion paraphernalia back into the bag. “I’m happy to be a published author—finally! I’m happy to have the opportunity to share our stories and Moments of Bliss. And come to think of it, I was happy today, distributing the flyers.”

“It wasn’t just work then?”

“No. I saw all those boats pulling at their dock lines, under a beaming sun and a bright blue sky, just wishing they could go out to sea where they belong. And everyone I met was so friendly and relaxed! The employees at the yacht clubs said they’d be happy to post my flyer and they were pleased to meet the author herself. I left each encounter with a smile and a bounce in my step.”

Gunter grinned. “So…I think it must be sundowner time.”

I headed for the kitchen to fix sundowners—like we did on Pacific Bliss each day when our “work” was done. Then we stood on our balcony and stared at the sea, as we always do. We clinked our glasses and met each others’ eyes. “To enjoying the path,” I toasted.

My fatigue suddenly vanished, swept away with the outgoing tide.