I started a new book project this week. If anyone else is keeping track, this is will be my 6th book. Every time I finish a novel, I think that will be the last one, convinced that there are no more stories inside me. Then, inevitably, an idea starts to take hold. With Cloaked, it was the opening scene. With Sonder Village, it was the setting. With Hedge Dancer (the book I’m pitching now), it was an effervescent main character who had to be shared with the world.
I was very afraid this past year that I really was out of stories. Usually, my brain needs a 6 month break before notes, bullet points, and quotes start finding their way to scrap paper. I finished Hedge Dancer in September, and come February, there were still crickets. All spring I waited, amid the moving chaos, for something real to take hold. My mind and my body were still whispering ‘rest’, and for once, instead of trying to do it all, I listened.
So much of writer advice is “Butt in chair!” “Those words won’t write themselves!” “Habit over waiting for inspiration to strike!” A lot of times it is true, and this advice pushed me to complete five novels. But I had drifted too far from myself, and I needed to get back to me before I could create imaginary people with the love and depth they deserve. I’m finally reading more, devouring books like I used to when I was a teenager. I’m falling into more frequent posting on here without it feeling like a chore. My consistent workouts are helping me so much mentally. I feel surrounded and supported by family and loved ones.
The craving to put pen to paper started two weeks ago, but I forced myself to wait. My wonderful, fabulous sister got married last week and I needed to focus all my energy on her special day. Emotions from that day left me on such a high that I just had to start right after.
I usually write adult fiction, so this urge to write a YA novel took me by surprise. I will update on the drafting process in the coming months. I hope I can pull this off.
In a bid to flex my stagnant writing muscles, today I’m going to confess my deep, dark, author secret—
I’ve never read copies of my own published books.
I’ve held them, hugged them, and handed them out, but the last time I read both Cloaked and Sonder Village, it was on a computer screen to approve the final galley copy before publication.
At first, I think it was because by the time the books launched, I was so sick of editing them through for errors that I had them memorized. Then months passed and I still couldn’t crack the spines. Now years have gone by, and it’s been built up so much in my head that I’m too scared.
I was at a different place in my life and in my writing career with these books. I like to think I’ve grown enough to look back with fresh eyes, but I am afraid of the cringe. Writers tend to be a finicky lot. We chase perfection and are frustrated when our own works do not measure up to the authors we idolize. The story I remember writing is not the story that will appear on the pages. I don’t think my ego can handle the blow right now. Pitching my current project has been particularly heart-wrenching and I have little enough forward momentum as it is, so I’m not sure if looking backward is the answer. Maybe someday I’ll be brave enough.
I’ve had enough space from high school to look back at these photos, at least! Here’s to celebrating how far we’ve come, and how much farther we must go.
This is the longest I’ve ever gone in the past five years without posting on the blog. It wasn’t because nothing happened, quite the opposite in fact. We have moved across the country, bought a house, Conor started a new job working from home, and we are in the middle of setting up an entirely new life. I couldn’t bring myself to post after the final goodbye to the boat in February mostly because, well, I’m not sure which direction to take this site.
I know that I want to keep writing here. I love looking back at the entire summary of our liveaboard experience and I’m so happy I kept the blog as a log. Now that our lifestyle is no longer as “unique” or “adventurous”, I question why anyone would keep reading about it. This is no longer a sailing/liveaboard guide. I keep my kids and family off social media for the most part, so it definitely won’t morph into a mommy blog. Conor isn’t active duty, so no #militarywifelife. Does that mean…it’s just me? My thoughts? Is that enough to keep this going?
I guess I can try. I have a feeling it will have a heavy emphasis on writer’s block, publishing industry frustrations, and impostor syndrome. My identity the past decade has been my role in relation to others, but now I am moving ever so slightly beyond the demands of babyhood and into brief moments of toddler and big kid independence. There is more space to breathe and to carve out an identity of my own.
I want to keep writing books. I want to turn it into a viable career. I haven’t published anything since 2019, but not for lack of trying. In 2020 I rewrote an early project of mine, which I pitched but didn’t get picked up. I wrote another book in 2021 and started pitching it in early 2022 but I don’t know if I should give up on that book as well. Once we are done moving in, I’ll sit down and start yet another book. It is daunting and terrifying. Now that we are rooted, I’ll finally have time to dedicate real energy to marketing, drafting, editing, pitching…and what if I still can’t get my big break? My previous excuses are now no longer relevant. It’s just me, and if I have what it takes…or not.
This is a long-overdue update. SV Story Time is under new ownership! And as much as we miss the boat, a mental to-do list a mile long was instantly wiped away after we signed the paperwork. I am happy and grateful that something we loved so much will get the time and attention she needs to really shine. However, that mental space is quickly filling up and I’m trying not to get overwhelmed.
We have now turned our focus to the upcoming move to Washington. A mortgage is secured, job applications are sent out, and we are slowing putting the pieces together. BUT—holy hell, this house hunt. Prices in the Puget Sound have skyrocketed over the past few years and it’s giving me a panic attack. This is completely new territory for us, and I am afraid of making the wrong choice. Factoring in schools, possible commutes, location, construction, cost…it makes me crave the simplicity of before. Don’t like where we are at? Pick up and move. I know this is part of the process of putting down roots, but knowing it needs to happen vs. actually doing it has my mind in turmoil, and I’m not really sure how to fix it.
This past year has been a humbling experience. I say this as I check my inbox to receive yet another query rejection for my latest book (I think the count is in the 30s or 40s now). Some days, it feels like we have it all figured out. Others, it’s “Dear Author (ouch), I just don’t feel that this project is the right fit for me. Thank you for considering me for your manuscript and I wish you great success with your writing career.”
I want to travel and live abroad. I want routine for my kids to thrive. I want to write more books. I want to contribute more to our household income, instead of as a hobby. I want to be a present mom. I want an identity outside of them. I want to keep living minimally. I want a house with a huge kitchen for my husband to enjoy. I want to buy another boat. I want to set down roots. I want to meet new friends in exotic places. I want to deepen and nurture the connections with existing family and friends. I want the ocean. I want to rest. I want my MFA. I want to have everything right now.
And it is impossible.
There is simply not enough time or energy to accomplish everything. It is vital that we dedicate these important resources in a meaningful way, and these past few years, I have been spread too thin. I have focused much of my energy on external growth, the growth that is easy for me to see and measure—the boat adventure, publishing books, raising children. This ‘tree’ of mine has grown noticeably taller, branches spreading out in every direction, always moving up up up and seeking more more more.
But what about my roots? The core and foundation, the stability that allows for strength, has been neglected as we seek the next exciting thing. I realized I need to spread my roots down deep and work under the surface for a while. The year up in Virginia has been lonely, and both Conor and I find ourselves longing for community and connection. For family. For the childhood friendships that lasted through adulthood. As Mary Schmich said, “Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.”
These amazing people have cheered us on while we experienced living in California, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Virginia. Celebrated the birth of our children and career successes, but it has been from so far away. I yearn to be present in the lives of people I care about in real way, through the ups and downs. I want to dance at their weddings, hold their babies, and simply be with them without a return to the airport. I want to show the people we love how much we love them. After a decade away, I think it’s about time.
I know I’ve been posting very infrequently on here lately. These last few months have been filled with reflection, planning, and asking questions. Where are we headed and what are we doing? I’ve been quiet on all social media as we try to find our footing and take our next steps, but I knew I needed to put together one last recap video to commemorate our final year on the boat. If you want to watch them all in order, here is 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. 2021 marked 5 years with our beloved Story Time, and it astounds me to see how much we accomplished and the life we built together.
There will be some new developments and projects in store for 2022. I’m excited for them, even though they are not boat related. I’m hoping for career pivots and fresh challenges, so stay tuned. I’ll post more in the new year, and much more often from now on! Thanks, guys.
When I last updated, everything was going swimmingly. But when has boat life ever been uncomplicated? Our contract fell through, and SV Story Time is back on the market.
After an awesome sea trial, survey, and haul out, the potential buyers got cold feet and backed out. In hindsight, there were some red flags about them that we chose to overlook. They were also very nervous first-time buyers and didn’t seem to be able to fully commit.
It just sucks. The boat was off the market for 6 weeks while we waited for the surveyor that they insisted upon (who found no major issues with the boat, btw), we lost out on the five other calls that came in about her, we had to pay slip fees and insurance for all these extra months, and now we are solidly into hurricane season. On the bright side, the survey report found no surprises and we KNOW Story Time is in good shape. I just hope we find a new family for her soon!
A general family update: I have spent the last three weeks holed up at my desk finishing my next novel. It is DONE! I’ve also had some outpatient leg surgeries done to repair my veins that blew out due to pregnancies (thanks, kids!) so I am trying to make the most of this waiting time. We are just stuck in limbo right now with things that are out of our control, but it feels good to make progress in other areas.
They say that the two happiest days of a sailors life are the day they buy a boat and the day they sell it. We will find out if that’s true this week! SV Story Time is ours for only a few more days as we head into the sea trial and survey on Thursday.
I do remember being happy when we bought the boat, but it was just one emotion buried underneath the rest. When I look back on that day, I remember a lot of other things. Mostly I was overwhelmed. Nervous. Excited. Naïve. Nauseous (9 weeks pregnant). Terrified. Oddly content. Yeah, that last one surprised me, too. I was content because it felt right. Right place, right time, right boat. We were on the right path and finally DOING IT.
I’ll probably cry when it comes time to sign the papers, no matter what the adage says. I am thankful how quickly the boat sold and not having to worry about it during another hurricane season. No more time troubleshooting issues and the never-ending maintenance that boat ownership entails. Relief to be done. Sadness at saying goodbye. Gratitude toward the boat for housing my family and our memories. Excitement at the next adventure to come. And yes, contentment, because I know that this is the right choice.
The next owners are lovely people. This boat likes to pick her family and seems to attract first-time boat owners just like us. They plan to teach their twin grandsons how to sail and while I don’t think they will be liveaboards, the boat will be utilized and cared for. They have a lot of sailing and racing experience and belong to a yacht club up north. They have been waiting to finally buy their dream boat, and this week it will become a reality! I am so happy for them.
So maybe I will be happy the day we sell the boat.
This might be the fastest sale on record. S/V Story Time went on the market on Monday, 8/2 and we accepted an offer on 8/5. Of course, the title transfer is dependent on adequate sea trial and survey, but holy moly.
Before COVID, the average time for a boat to be on the market was 365 days. Ours was less than a week. Our lifestyle change had good timing, because there are very few used boats for sale right now. Inventory is so low that boats get snapped up fast. People are looking for a socially distanced hobby that also allows for travel—SAILING!
On July 4th, we decided to put plans into motion to transition off the boat. July 24th, we moved into an apartment. August 2nd, boat went on market. August 5th, boat was under contract. The timing was definitely in our favor.
In a way, I am grateful that everything had to happen so fast. It was like ripping off a band aid. It was hard, busy, and messy, but it would have been worse to languish in limbo. Movement happens fast in our family. Decisions are made and we throw ourselves full-force into the effort. More about the new owners to come and why we picked them.
Meanwhile, we are adjusting to life on land. After living on a 38ft boat, a 1,000 sq ft apartment feels GIGANTIC. We are still keeping the spirit of Story Time alive in our home by living simply with minimal furniture and clutter. The kids love the space to play but W talks about the boat every day. I hope that she will have memories of her life aboard this boat when she is older.
Then look no further than our 2002 Catalina 380 SV STORY TIME!
Our listing is live on Bay Harbor Brokers! Please check it out and spread the word! She has been loved and lived in for the past four years. She has been an integral part of our family, housed my babies, and kept us safe on so many adventures.
A quick peek at some of the details:
Sails and Rigging
Z-Spars deck stepped double spreader mast
In Mast mainsail furling
Garhauer mainsheet traveler system
Schaefer marine roller furler for genoa
Adjustable Garhauer genoa cars
Secondary movable Garhauer genoa cars
Secondary genoa halyard
All control lines run into cockpit
Lewmar Ocean Series 54st 2 speed winches for genoa
Lewmar Ocean Series 40st 2 speed winches for main/halyards
Raymarine ST-60 Speed
Raymarine ST-60 Depth
Raymarine ST-60 Wind
Raymarine ST-5000 Autopilot Controller
Raymarine RL-70C Chartplotter/Radar
Raymarine Radar mounted on mast
Standard Horizon Intrepid VHF t Nav Station
Standard Horizon remote ram mic at helm
Raymarine ST-60 Multi at Nav station
Blue Seas Tank monitor system
West Marine FM/AM/CD player
Princess 3 burner oven
West Bend built in microwave
Large double Stainless Steel sink
Built in garbage can w/ access in counter top
Large ice box w/ drain
Large front load/top load refrigerator/freezer
New Dometic refrigeration system (2020)
2 X 30 amp shore power inlets on transom
2 X 30 amp power cables
Separate 120v breaker panel in cockpit locker
2 X Solar panels
Xantrex 2000 inverter/charger
3 AGM house batteries (2018)
16500 BTU Mermaid AC/Heat (2019)
Koolair raw water AC pump (2020)
West Marine 60psi fresh water system pump (2021)
Stainless steel transom mounted dinghy davits
Solar panels mounted above dinghy davits
Large sugar scoop transom w/ hot/cold shower
Large fold up swim ladder on transom
Dodger/Bimini/Connector w/ full zip on screen enclosure
Full lifeline netting
Mercury 4hp Dinghy motor (2011)
Zarcor companion way doors (2017)
Ditch kit (2020)
Anchoring & Mooring
Bruce 66lbs anchor
Delta Fast-Set Anchor
150ft 5/16 anchor chain
Assorted dock lines & fenders
Yanmar model 3JH3E 39hp
Engine exhaust mainfold replaced (2017)
Stuffing Box replaced (2021)
Please feel free to contact us with any questions! I know that emailing a broker can be a bit intimidating. We are happy to chat with anyone who is interested in the boat or “knows somebody who knows somebody” who is looking for a boat like ours 🙂