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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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.

December 11th was a day to remember.  Two days after my shipment of books arrived, Gunter and I held a Signing & Celebrate event in the party room of our condo on Mission Bay.  It was a gorgeous day, reaching 76 degrees, on the same day that Minnesota experienced a blizzard and the Metrodome roof collapse.  Viva California!

Needless to say, everyone was in good spirits. The sun shining in from the Pacific dimmed the slides a little, but we all had a lot of fun!

The half-sheet chocolate mousse cake was decorated like a book, with MAIDEN VOYAGE on the spine (side) and the colorful cover on the top.

Lois hands Captain Gunter the first piece of cake

The cake decorated as the cover of the book

Our Thanksgiving was special this year. In addition to our “kids” Markus and Sabine, we had Sabine’s sister Maria and her friend Gottfried here from Germany.  This was their first traditional American Thanksgiving.  Gottfried was intensely interested in the process of taking the stuffing out of the 24-pound turkey. (See Photo.)

Gottfriend and Maria

Gottfried was our skipper from France to St. Lucia during our Voyage One.  And Maria joined us in Tenerife, Canary Islands, and sailed across the Atlantic with us.

Gottfried reminded me of the Thanksgiving celebration on Pacific Bliss, enduring heavy seas during the Gibraltar-to-Canaries passage.  This was definitely NOT traditional!  I used our pressure cooker to cook up a chicken and what was left of our tired vegetables. The seas were too “lumpy” to use our non-gimbaled oven!

Gottfried watches Gunter

Following is an excerpt from my new book, In Search of Adventure and Moments of Bliss: Maiden Voyage:

Thanksgiving at Sea

33°  30.5′ N, 9° 56′ W

…As clouds race in to snatch the sunrise, my thoughts turn toward traditional Thanksgiving celebrations with friends and family at home:  a giant turkey monopolizing the table, surrounded by dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, side dishes, with an assortment of pies on the side board.  I miss the phone calls to and from our children and others who can’t be with us.  It feels so, so lonesome out here.

Okay.  Get with it.  I continue my soliloquy at the helm while the guys are fast asleep…

I retrieve the pressure cooker and its cover with the rubber seals from our pan storage underneath the galley sink; then, I fill it with chicken, along with some tired celery and greens from the fridge.  I take the manual down from the recipe shelf, look up the correct amount of water, and bravely set it on the burner.  The cooker hisses steadily as it reaches full pressure.  Mesmerized, I think back to how, as a preschooler, I hid behind my barefooted mother’s muumuu-style housedress, peeking out to watch the steam volcano, waiting for it to “blow its top,” an expression my German father used all the time.  Now, I wait for the valve’s three red lines to appear, then watch Günter carefully lift it from the stove and into the sink.

It worked!  As Pacific Bliss lurches through the waves, the four of us enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner in the salon.  The chicken is not overcooked like my mother’s beef; it is surprisingly juicy and tasty, and the vegetables are firm.  Christian has recovered and regained his appetite.  Günter is hungry, as usual.  I’m starved.  And Gottfried is amazed.  “I never knew pressure cookers were so useful,” he admits.  “When I bought my used boat, I threw away the cover to the cooker because it wouldn’t fit well in the galley shelves.  I thought it took up too much space, so I used only the bottom, and then couldn’t find a good top to fit tight!”

This is a Gottcha Gottfried moment I cannot resist:  “Serves you right!”

We all break out laughing – especially Günter, who is a like-minded “minimalist.”  The two of them have been driving me berserk because they insisted on having as few items on the boat as possible, using the excuse that a catamaran must be kept light…

Now, on Thanksgiving, after gorging, we feel just like Americans always feel after their Thanksgiving dinners:  stuffed like a turkey.  And I store my pressure cooker, feeling like I have made a new friend.

Gunter carves the Big Bird

To read more, you need to buy the book!  It will be available on Amazon in a few weeks.

In the meantime, please read my original journal entry from our Thanksgiving at Sea by clicking here.