Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Recovery Disks for Life

7 am and 76 degrees.
With the demise of my husband's computer I ended up searching for recovery disks to see if the poor machine could be resurrected. I encountered CDs I forgot I made. All my old underwater photographs. I will post the rest over time. This one was taken when I was doing a Caribbean coastal ecology course in Belize. I was hovering, snorkeling, not even diving and this scene unfolded in front of me. When I see it I am back in Belize. It is magic. I want my books to be like that. To transport people back in time and place, to create a private world in their head constructed by my words.
That's what books do to me and that is why I love to write them.
But I digress...
Having our computer lose its brains made me think more deeply about what has happened to me these last few months.
My mother passing away from dementia in April, my beloved cat dying, my niece losing her husband to cancer...
None of these can be minimized. You either hurt for yourself or hurt for other people.
It got me wondering about that elusive recovery disk.
Wouldn't it be great to have a recovery disk for life?
Put it in the side of your brain and presto! You want to live again!
You decrease your grief by half and half again.
Remembering the pleasure with only remnants of a sweet regret.
Recovery disk for life.
I like that.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Revenge of the Animals

9am and 77 degrees.
The first mate has trouble paying attention on the job. He may have to walk the plank.
My muse is in BIG trouble. She was being chased by the first mate and ran over Gordon's computer on the Nav station. It was on at the time. Her fancy footwork deleted a critical program and crashed the computer. She is confined to quarters until we can figure out a suitable punishment. With no opposable thumbs she can't swab the decks and twenty-five lashes just make her purr. A possibility is to cut her rations. It is all still under discussion.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Here comes the sun...

7 am and 75 degrees. We were all talking about how much cooler it has been the last few days after our month of "Kona" weather and then I read a post about how it's snowing in Alaska...my bad.
My subject today is patience and how I have difficulty with it. I have discovered the publishing world grinds exceedingly slow so I am learning patience. I have been accused of being impetuous, hasty, speedy...well the list goes on. I am now learning patience with a vengeance. My agent is helping me tweak my novel. I love that word tweak - it's so innocuous. Much better than edit or re-write. Tweak. So cute.
We are tweaking.
And then.
My novel gets shopped.
And then.
Hopefully sold.
And then.
Tweaked again by an editor.
And then.
Hopefully published.
And then.
Hopefully in every Borders and B&N store.
And then.
Hopefully bought by mass quantities of readers.
And then.
We tweak novel number two.
And then...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

It's 3 pm...Do you know where your horse is?

3 pm and 85 degrees.
This is Taxi. FB's horse and ridden by KF. Taxi is part mustang and came to Hawaii from Idaho. He is also in one of my novels. He will be very famous.
Right now I have to figure out what I will be for Halloween. Every Halloween my friend NNH has a party with a theme. Last year it was "Under the Sea" so we went as Jelly fish. We used bubble wrap for tentacles. I thought we were clever but there were about ten other Jelly fish so I guess not...but I think Jellies travel in herds so maybe it was inevitable. I have an idea for costumes but will not tell until after the party. I must maintain secrecy otherwise someone will steal our idea.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Riding Veritas

It's a beautiful day and I just had to go out to the North shore to ride baby horse Veritas. He did well. He even took my friend MG for a ride and behaved himself superbly!
Way to go baby horse!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tuesdays are better than Mondays

8 am and 77 degrees.
Blue sky.
One person on the mainland described their day today as "chilly." I told you my posts would become annoying.
School work is done. I go in cycles on the work for my PhD in curriculum. Feast or famine. I even go in cycles on my novel ideas. There are those times the basic story arrives fully formed and I write like a fiend but there are also those times that require much thought and reflection. This is happening now. The fall. A time for reflection.
What the heck happened to summer anyway?
I was supposed to have lost 20 pounds and gotten up to 30,000 words on my WIP.
What happened?
October is almost over.
What happened?
It was only yesterday that I was 28.
What happened?
Life, I guess.
That's the way it works.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Two. Two. Two posts in one day.

Mike and Gordon hard at work piloting Ascension.

Me hard at work thinking about my WIP...not.

It was a beautiful day out on the ocean.
Hawaii no ka oi

Dangling Husbands not Participles...

8 am and 78 degrees. Still partly cloudy.
Yesterday we had to attach our antenna more firmly to the mizzen shroud. I could not remember the current status of Gordon's life insurance so I was unable to force myself to winch him up. I asked BOB number-one-beta-reader-and-boat-slip-neighbor to do this.
I do not like BEING up in the air. I do not even like to WATCH anyone else be up in the air. I do not like to THINK of being up in the air.
I went down below and surfed the internet and worked on my current WIP.
He survived.
It's a good thing.
As Martha would say.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Beta Readers -- My Heroes!

Noon and 86 degrees. Slightly cloudy.
Orion sits quietly at the dock. It's going to be a muggy day.
Enough about Orion.
Today I want to talk about my beta readers.
They are invaluable and I am fortunate to have many of them. They all have their unique perspective and are able to help me make my novels the best that they can be.
My first beta reader (or mother of all beta readers) is my friend Bob. He read my first book and each one after that. He is a voracious reader and while commercial women's fiction is not his first choice in reading material, he has become an excellent critical partner. He points out wimpy characters and plot holes. If I can keep his interest, I know I have a story.
My reader C.M. is phenomenal for the structure of the plot arc and is probably the best copy editor I have ever met. She could go into business. My dialog punctuation is due to her expertise.
Some are cheerleaders like P.S. and keep my self-esteem in order. She is able to focus on the best parts and make sure I know my strengths. She is also awesome on commas and paragraph continuity.
I have other readers like K.K., D.V.,S.C., B.L.,R.M.(female),R.M.(male), and E.N. that are from Oregon, Hawaii, Montana and France that give honest feedback and have become my readers by virtue of being the friend of a friend of a friend. They are excited to read manuscripts that are not in print yet and feel that they are contributing to the career of a writer (which they are!).
I have a few friends that have become readers. F.B. and P.K. have read every one of my books and are avid fans yet can point out inconsistencies that even after ten edits, I have missed.
My cousin S.D. - a former English teacher - has made amazing contributions to pacing and catches details that only a teacher could find!
If you are a writer and crave feedback on your manuscripts it is well worth your while to cultivate a herd of betas. Talk to college students, children, friends of friends, librarians. Readers NOT writers. Give them a printed bound copy of your manuscript and get them started. You will gain much.
I have more betas who I did not name and will probably collect more. It is enormously helpful for both the novel's development and mine as a writer.
It is due to their diligence that I have an agent now.
I thank them all from the depth of my writerly soul.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Thank Dog it's Friday

7:19 am and 79 degrees.
The Tradewinds are sneaking back.
Laundry day.
Finally getting somewhere with my current WIP
My muse is hard at work beside me.

She says this is how she concentrates best but I don't know.
Last weekend was the earthquake and this weekend there is supposed to be thunder showers.
I am waiting for famine and swarms of locusts.
Or at the very least my car to break down.
That is how my world works...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

New Hire

6:20 am and 79 degrees
The second applicant had the skills needed to do the job. Had some ideas of how to do things a bit differently, put her stamp on the position. She started Sunday - got off to a rocky start (pardon the pun).
She's late this morning said she had some errands to run, mice to catch, dustballs to chase.
But then i find her in the back office.

I think I'm being taken advantage of...

I hope this floating household is back to normal now. Between the earthquake, no power, intermittent internet connection interruption and that pesky little PhD I am working on things got a bit flustered here. I guess it takes occasional bumps in the road to get a person to look up and see the scenery passing by. As in everything in life - it could have been worse.
There was a gorgeous sunset last night. I had to run outside and take pictures, then I got invited over for a glass of wine from my neighbors across the dock...and well...dinner was a little late...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The earthquake ate my homework...

I have a good excuse.
I finished typing 7 am and 77 degrees and was completing my post on this rainy Sunday morning.
My boat shook. The power went out. It was a 6.6 earthquake.
The advantage of a boat is that we were able to turn on the inverter and presto. We had power.
Only one radio station was broadcasting. There was a small window of time that we worried about a tsunami but the only one detected was 4 inches.
It is 6 pm and most people still have no power here on Oahu.
I had no idea that you could feel an earthquake on the water.

Friday, October 13, 2006


7 am and 77 degrees.
I have spent the morning interviewing muses. The first candidate has questionable references and questionable work ethic. He was late for his appointment and I found him asleep in the reception area (forward stateroom/guest cabin).

During the interview I explained the requirements of the position and I got the feeling he just didn't want to hear what I had to say.

There are only two applicants for the position. I think it may be due to the pay...or the hours. I have one more interview tomorrow and then I really do have to make a choice. I have to get back to work and can't waste any more time on this hiring process.
I had no idea hiring a muse would be this difficult.
I thought they just appeared.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


ODIE 1991 - 2006

77 degrees at 7:30 am
One of the hardest tasks anyone is faced with is the death of a beloved pet. Odie was with us for fifteen years. That's a long time in cat-years. I have had human friendships which have not lasted that long.
His qualities were many, I cannot name them all. He was a cat. Inscrutable. Independent. Sweet. Shy. In his later years he learned to sail with us but only grudgingly.
I am reminded of the movie made from the Razor's Edge and the death of the experienced ambulance driver.
Lists of annoying habits.
He had many.
He hurled after every tenth meal. Scattered kitty litter from the kitchen to the bedroom. Yowled at three in the morning just for the hell of it. Scratched the furniture. Hissed at strangers. Got seasick regularly. Writhed in my arms when impatient with being held. Stretched out in that particular floor space you were about to walk across and then squealed in indignation when his tail was accidently brushed against.
All of these things he did.
But he will be missed.
He will be sorely missed.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


9 am and 81 degrees.
I saw an eel today. He was hunting close to shore. I watched him for a while and thought about how precious and short life is. We should value every minute.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Shrimp: The Bane of My Existence

7 am and 78 degrees.
This little guy was dislodged out from under a rock and appears a bit pissed about that. He/she is not responsible for the clicking and clacking background noise through my hull that can make it difficult if not impossible for me to concentrate. That is an entirely different species.
My hatches are open which makes it likely to rain. Most likely an early morning "mauka" (mountain) shower. That fact that I am "makai" (ocean) is irrelevant.
I could do the weather here in Hawaii.
"Morning and mauka showers, occasional clouds, 85 and sunny." Those are all the words needed. They can just be rearranged in any order.
Kind of like writing a novel. Get yourself a dictionary. All the words are there - you just have to figure out the order...

Monday, October 09, 2006


It's 10:30 and 82 degrees.
I was asked to write about living in a marina for a friend and I found this picture. It is one I look at each time I rant about not having enough room to store my clothes, or when I find out Orion's water tank is empty just when I need to rinse shampoo out of my eyes.
Those times.
The times I accidentally leave the hatches open in the pouring rain. Those times the wind whips through the shrouds so hard my boat heels right at the dock making me seasick.
Those times.
I pull up this picture on my computer and remember why I chose to live on a boat.
Last night there were so many stars I blurred my eyes searching for comets and identifiable constellations.
It is this time of year we look in the sky for Orion's return. The constellation our vessel is named after - The Great Hunter.
In Hawaiian "Maiaku" is Orion's belt and his sword is "Nakao."
The story of SV Orion is a unique one. Several years ago while bound for Oahu, she was caught in a storm four- hundred miles off the coast of California. In the emergency, Orion was abandoned and left to sink or drift as fate decreed. She was presumed sunk.
Months later she was found bobbing in the waves just off the Big Island as if she knew where she was supposed to go. Although used as a floating hotel for colonies of birds, she was none the worse for wear. A replaced boom and sails, a good cleaning and a secure slip were all she needed.
She was the first boat we looked at.
"Too small," I said at first. Only later, after seeing many other boats, I realized how very roomy she was.
Then when I heard her story, well, I knew Orion was the boat for us.
I think about her lonely journey without a captain. I wonder where she went and how many more storms she weathered, and crashing waves she endured.
I think of this when I scrub her teak, polish her stainless, clean out her lockers, and find another soft gray feather left behind.
And I think about the birds on that voyage.
Leaving their feathers behind.
A testament to where they have gone.
I think my writing is like that.
Words like feathers left behind.
A testament to my existence.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Turtles in my Yard

76 degrees at 7 am.
I don't have stray dogs or cats in my yard. I don't even have kids on bikes. I have puffer fish, errant boisterous ulua, and turtles.
Green Sea Turtles.

They used to be endangered and in fact in some parts of the world they still are. I can't even imagine anyone killing them. They have such spirit. Every week the harbor turtle makes his way to our slip. Munching seaweed up one side of the dock and down the other and then ends up nibbling the growth around the piling. He paddles off to the next area and in a week I'll see him again.
When I dive KoKo Crater the east side of Honolulu, there is a wonderful sandy area where turtles rest.

When I took this photo I had just gotten my underwater strobe. I think I was a bit disruptive to this turtle's nap.
I apologized to him later, but he was still a bit grumpy.

Friday, October 06, 2006


A chilly 75 at 8 am at KoOlina. This time and temperature thing will get massively more annoying as the mainland approaches winter. I always let my friends know how warm it is in Hawaii.
This trait of mine becomes even more annoying on the phone. It is right up there with my irritating jokes about the time difference.
"It's three o'clock here. What time is it there?" people ask.
"Almost one," I say
"Oh so it's three hours difference?"
This is where I get clever.
"Actually no. The time difference is two hours and fifty-five minutes, it's not quite one."
I can offer long diatribes as to why this is so: It involves leap year, daylight savings time (which Hawaii does not do) and the alignment of the planets.
Some people even believe me. I can be quite persuasive.

I woke up today intending on talking of crossroads and life altering changes.
But I need at least at least another cup of coffee before I can do that.

So I decided instead to post one of my underwater photographs on my blog instead.
This is an orange spotted nudibranch.
It's beautiful don't you think?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

By-The-Wind Sailor

Velella Velella

These ubiquitous jellies are found all over the world. We saw them the entire time on our passage. I was reminded of this last night while having dinner with M. and M. They had just returned from bringing their boat across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii. The "easy way" - from California to Hawaii.
I did the "hard way" - Hawaii to California. It made me a bit smug, however it is still a real accomplishment.
I digress.
The ocean is full of these little creatures. The surface of the water, at times, is covered with them.
We all thought these jellies were incredibly cool. Their little sails catch the wind and away they go. Some are right handed and others left. Some go north, others south, or east, or west. They are either in a huge group or you can find them drifting as solitary individuals.
When I write I am a Velella.
All by myself.
Letting my words take me where I need to go.
Far, far away.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I Think This is How it Works

6:30 in the morning. 75 degrees. Blue sky and occasional cloud wisps. A few reluctant stars visible. The only sounds I hear are my coffee maker struggling.
I am spending far too much time on message boards, but rather than blame it on an addiction I am being analytical. I hear the same cries from writers over and over.
...what if someone steals my ideas...how do I get an agent...should I get a publisher first...it's not fair...it's not fair...it's not fair...
In my delusions I thought maybe I could help other writers like I have been helped, however in many cases it falls on deaf ears.
But I have formulated a few ideas of how it works.
First you have to read what you want to write.
Then you write.
You read. Then write more.
You take workshops, classes and get critiqued.
And you write even more.
You read books on writing.
And you write.
Then you write.
The most important thing?
And then?
Learning to edit your work is a whole new program. Develop beta readers. This takes time, but there is nothing more advantageous to having good critical readers who are honest and understand how a story is put together.
Attend conferences and writers retreats and learn how the business runs.
Read publishers marketplace regularly.
When you are ready to query your work cross reference agents on agentquery.com and the deals page on publishers marketplace.
Find authors who can be mentors. You do this by being professional, networking, and attending writing workshops.
Query long and wide.
Do not give up.
Write your next book.
And your next.
Do not give up...do not give up...do not give up...
And keep writing.
I think this is how it works.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

What's it Like?

The view out my cockpit window. At 7 am it is 78 degrees and sunny.

My coffee is beside me, my muse is turned on, and my fingers are at the keyboard.
There's a question I'm asked frequently.
"What's it like living aboard a sailboat?"
More to the point.
"What's it like writing novels on a sailboat?"
Or even.
"How in the world do you complete assignments for your PhD in education on a sailboat?"
We moved aboard nearly three years ago.
We sold our 1500 square foot townhouse in Kaneohe, Hawaii and compressed into a fifty foot long thirteen foot wide "cigar."
No furniture and even less "stuff."
How do I explain it so you can understand?
It is freeing. It is enormously freeing. I am light as air. It is amazing what I do not need. Instead of a walk-in closet, I have a walk-in bedroom. I sleep to the sound of plopping waves against the hull.
My "house" moves. I had bruises on my shoulders for a year because I couldn't remember to turn sideways when going through the narrower doors. The first meal I cooked for guests consisted of chicken burned on the outside and raw on the inside due to my inexperience with a propane oven that can take a month to preheat to 375 degrees.
A week after I moved aboard my husband was at work and I was trying to write. I heard a crackling sound. Was that fire? It was louder in the engine room. I looked for flames, sniffed for smoke. I finally called Gordon at work.
"Honey, I think there's an electrical fire somewhere."
"What! Why?"
"I hear crackling and popping sound. It's very weird."
"It's snapping shrimp."
"You're kidding, right?"
"No, really. They live in the growth on the hull. I thought you knew."
Go figure.

The place where I write.

And this is my muse watching over me.

Monday, October 02, 2006

On Watch

I stayed harnessed in the cockpit while on watch. We took three hour watches and had six hours off. It was a time to think, to reflect and to agonize whether that light in the distance was the moon shining on the water or a gigantic freighter coming to mow us down. Gives new meaning to the word vigilance.
I felt it fitting to use this photo in my profile.
As a writer I am always on watch.

The best baby horse in the world: Veritas

He is 3/4 Thoroughbred and 1/4 Dutch and quite the gentleman for a four-year old.

Maui Writers Retreat and Conference 2006

This year a group of amazing people got together to learn about writing with the author Jacquelyn Mitchard.
It was my second year studying with Jackie. You hear all sorts of opinions about retreats and conferences for writers. There is much angst about the possibility of meeting editors, agents and published authors. There is traumatizing about the expense and whether it is truly worth it. I can only give my opinion.
The first year I went to Maui I had one finished (I thought) manuscript. I was naive and ignorant of how the publishing business worked, but I had two things going for me: I knew deep in my heart I could write well and I was willing to learn what I didn't know.
I met so many gracious people willing to teach me and established contacts and friendships I still have today.
Holly Kennedy, an author I met at Maui, was instrumental in guiding me. Her debut novel "The Tin Box" came out in Oct '05. (she will have another "The Penny Tree" in May '07). She showed me Publishers Marketplace, taught me how to write a query letter, helped me research agents and encouraged me the whole time.
In our retreat classroom Jackie was brilliant in showing what was good about our writing and what we could improve on.
It was eye opening to see the number of people writing and wanting to be published. It was also eye opening to hear the greatest piece of advice ever - "You have your manuscript finished? Well then start your next one."
I followed the advice I was given. I now had four completed manuscripts, obtained representation with what I consider the best agent in the world from William Morris Agency and ended up with the support and mentorship with two wonderful authors.
Yes I worked hard.
Yes I was committed to my writing.
But Maui was the start. It planted the seed.
So this year I met 12 talented people and again learned what is good about my writing and what I can improve on. I also learned that if I can help neophyte writers and point them in the right direction like Holly did for me, I can pay back the generosity of new authors like Holly and established ones such as Jackie.
As a character says in my book, "What goes around comes around."
Indeed it does.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Sailing Across the Pacific Ocean

This is what the middle of the Pacific Ocean looks like.
On June 4, 2005 I left KoOlina for San Francisco on the 39 foot Itaska along with Mel (the owner) and his freind of a freind John. None of us knew each other very well.
I wanted to do a passage, I was new to sailing, and I had just turned 52 so I volunteered to help. Somehow that all made sense. It ended up being such a transformative experience I have not even been able to write about it. I will someday. The expanse of the ocean. The power of the waves. Alone on watch with just my thoughts to entertain me. Being washed down the companionway when a wave broke over the aft and drenched the cockpit. Pulling in a mahi mahi and eating it an hour later. Seeing discarded trash like floating islands and used as refuge for creatures in the middle of nowhere.

Each morning we tossed overboard stranded flying fish that flung themselves onto Itasksa.

We arrived in San Francisco 3weeks and two hours after we left. Not that I was counting.
I would do it all again in a heart beat.
I intend to.