Behind the Scenes of Sonder Village

Sonder Village was released today! Here’s the scoop on my new book and some fun facts.

  • This book is based off a news article I read in 2015 about abandoned villages up for sale in Spain. All the properties seemed to have a rich history and a story to tell. I had always wanted to play with setting as a character and this concept presented the perfect opportunity!
  • I finished this book right before going into labor with Baby W. Once she was born and I exited the baby fog, I realized I hated my original ending and rewrote the last 15,000 words!
  • I actually speak Spanish. It was one of my majors in college.
  • Early readers of this book include my parents, Conor, and my dear friend Annie B. Their honesty and support keeps me going! Thanks for slogging through early drafts, guys!
  • I pitched this book to my editor while we were in Atlanta after evacuating for Hurricane Florence.
  • The cover artist who did Sonder Village also did my cover for Cloaked
  • My favorite passage in the book is this one (I wonder why?):

Bieito transformed at the helm. Holding onto the tiller, he expertly steered them through the breaking waves, showing no hint of fear. He was right—it was a dance. Remy tried to stay out of the way as he raised and trimmed the sail. Soon they were flying. The little sailboat skipped over the choppy waves, riding on moonlight.

Their serious conversation from earlier was placed on an indefinite hold. Remy couldn’t speak right now even if she wanted to. The entire experience stole her breath away, and all she could do was hold on tight, smiling from ear to ear until her cheeks ached.

Let’s sail forever. Remy longed to just keep moving forward, into the unknown. To never see land again, and to live in the waves and at the whim of the wind. It blew all the thoughts and worries straight out of her head.

This was Bieito’s version of painting. The release of consciousness as he let his body live in the moment, just as Remy did with a brush. She looked back at him from her seat across the cockpit. The lines on his face were completely smoothed out in the silver light, and she could see the boy he used to be; a boy who got his love of the sea from his mother, and the respect of the sea when he learned how to ride it.

releasedate

Send me your questions! Anything about the book, the publishing process, or writing strategies. Happy reading and I hope you enjoy Sonder Village!

Love,

Taylor

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Ding Ding Ding! Dinghy Time

Our dinghy is FINALLY in the water. It has been dry-docked for almost two years. I was too pregnant to bounce around in it when we first arrived at Gottschalk in the fall of 2017, then last summer W did not have the head control to ride in it, but this summer we plan on taking full advantage of it!

The dingy needed a good scrub and a few minutes with an air compressor, but she looks as good as new now. However, our outboard motor had some issues after lying stagnant for so long. We had trouble starting it because, as we later found out, there was debris in the carburetor. Whoops! I blame that on Hurricane Florence.

The marina manager, Sammy, has tons of experience with outboard motors and was willing to fix it right up for us. We know what to look for next time!

We took a family ride for the first time and I was kind of amazed at how quick and easy it was to get out on the water. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE sailing, but it usually takes a lot more forethought, set up, and lines to leave our slip. It was so quick to just pop the family right in the dingy and in two seconds we were gone! We were able to explore some of the shallow creek area for the first time that is off-limits to bigger boats. I foresee many sunset trips out there in the coming months.

dinghy
My handsome captain out on the water

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

Boat Tribe Does The Derby

The boat owners of Gottschalk Marina took a little field trip together on Saturday. We all went down to Swansboro for Derby Day! I had no idea what to expect, except for the fact that that most people were going to dress up. This, as you know, is normally a momentous occasion for boat people, especially liveaboards. I think we cleaned up very nicely!

derbyday

The event itself was impressive, though no one seemed to care much about the actual race! We had a great time hanging with our boat tribe at the docks, drinking mint juleps and crowd-watching. Our friends stayed the whole weekend. They took a 42 ft sailboat and a 48 ft powerboat down on Friday to get slips in the middle of the action. We just drove there for the day this year, but we will definitely bring Story Time next year! It is only a 5 hour motor out of New River and into the ICW.

We need to keep an eye out for other day trip opportunities like this. How lucky are we that we can just take our home with us? Time to start taking advantage of it more. Although, our friends did say that they missed Gottschalk after the third day. Can you be homesick while bringing your home with you? While travel is amazing, I think it is always nice to return to familiar territory and routine. Home is also the people you surround yourself with, and we are grateful to have such amazing friends here.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

JOMO

I learned a new phrase the other day—JOMO. It is the opposite of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and means the JOY of missing out. As introverts, Conor and I experience JOMO all the time while we retreat into our own hobbies. He plays video games while I write, and we don’t miss hitting the town on Saturday nights.

However, when it comes to cruising/sailing, we are a little envious of people who have already cut ties with the 9-5 (or in the military life, 7-6). It is hard to wait for our time to go and there is some serious FOMO when we look at boats anchored in crystal clear water next to deserted islands. Can we go now? What experiences are we missing by being in North Carolina still? Those sailors look like they’re having an incredible time. When will that finally be us?

But if we were already cruising, we would miss out on so much here. Grilled pizza date nights that turn into impromptu dock parties with 8 other liveaboards until 10 pm. Game of Thrones watch parties on the boat with not enough room on the couch. W going to her first gymnastics class and showing off her sea legs as she fearlessly traverses the balance beam. Conor getting his JTAC-E certification. Time to write with book #2 coming out and halfway through drafting book #3.

datenight
Corri said, “Look cute, guys, so you can put this on the blog!” This was our response.

There is something to be said for stability and routine and finding joy in the present. We are focusing on turning our cruising FOMO into JOMO as we hang dockside for a little longer. Summers are SO fun here and we have many marina adventures to look forward to.

 

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

Learn Our Lingo

If you ever come and stay aboard Story Time for a while, you’ll need to learn a few key phrases that are particular to our boat.

Tokyo Drift—This refers to a combination of prop walk and wind while we are attempting to dock. It is when Conor stops trying to steer and lets the boat drift its way into our slip. He pretends to be in Fast and the Furious.

Winch Wench—This term is for whoever is working the sails (male or female). I like alliteration, okay?

Drop It Low—Inside our main settee, we can lower our table and put a cushion on top for a comfy way to watch TV. Speaking of which, who is pumped for the Game of Thrones premiere tonight?!

Bumpin’—The term for the way our boat rocks front to back when a Nor’easter blows through. The dock slams down next to the stern of our boat. Bump Bump Bump. It is super annoying in the middle of the night.

Pump Out Beer—References the beers you consume both before and after doing a pump out.

Waked—When some jackass in a fishing boat zooms through the marina at 30 mph and sends you + everything inside the boat flying.

Hit The Gas—Surprisingly, not a term for under power while on our boat. It almost always means “Please turn on the solenoid switch so I can cook dinner on the stove. Thanks, honey.”

Smells Boaty—Just like how every family home you go into has its own distinct smell, every boat does too. It is most noticeable with stuff that doesn’t get washed often (bags, shoes, etc) when we are off the boat. It’s a smell you’ll have to experience for yourself to understand. Don’t worry, you will also take it back with you. It’s not gross, just boaty.

Weather Window—When I obsessively check the Accuweather app for a time period with perfect conditions before we take the boat out.

Up Help—W is also contributing to our family lingo aboard and when she says/signs “Up Help”, it exclusively means that she wants to climb the stairs and needs our permission to watch her as she ascends. This happens at least twenty times per day.

climb
LET ME OUT!

What silly words or phrases do you use while aboard? Or do you have any unique ways of communication in your family? We would love to hear!

 

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

Shake Out The Sails…

Because Story Time is officially back at it this season! Sunday was our first sail of 2019 and MAN did it feel great to be out on the water again. 75 degrees and sunny with 5-10 knot winds means that winter has finally lifted. Conor is home from Norway at last, and there is no better way to reconnect as a family than doing what we love all together.

It didn’t matter that we discovered a rip in our mainsail (again! Seriously, wtf) and the wind died on us for about an hour out there, because our engine ran great, our rigging looks good, and Story Time seems no worse for the wear after hanging out in her slip for the past 4 months.

We had a magical encounter with a pod of 6 dolphins that played around our boat for at least 20 minutes. I could have reached out and touched them, they were that close. I was a bit nervous to see how W would cooperate while we were sailing now that she’s extremely mobile, but she loves her sailing harness and was very into ‘helping’ with the lines.

harness

Looking at this picture makes my heart so full. She’s only 15 months but ready to dive right in to every adventure. I can just see the little girl she’ll become—brave and fierce!

I’m keeping this post short and sweet so we can get back to family time, but now that Conor is home I will be able to update more frequently with sailing and liveaboard life. After only 2 posts in March (gah!) I promise to be more on top of it in April.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

The Triumphant Return

We made it! We are back home on the boat in North Carolina. Our 14 hour journey looked like this: car—ferry—tram—plane—bus—car—sailboat. My mom is a SAINT and came along with me, W, and Scout. Don’t worry, I’m flying her back first class on Monday—she’s more than earned it!

It took about a day and a half to get the boat back up and running. It’s like we never left! My mom kept W occupied while I de-winterized everything. Huge props to Conor who cleaned the crap out of everything before he left in January. I was honestly surprised that there were no major issues and we came back to a pristine boat. It helped that our friends Zach and Corri (read their post here) checked in on Story Time for us about once per week. They emptied our dehumidifiers, checked the bilge and batteries, and made sure the heat was running.

boattribe
How we knew we were missed! Glad to be back with our boat tribe

These are a few tips we swear by if you have to leave your boat for an extended period of time:

  • Wash and bag all linens, towels, pillows, etc.
  • Prop up cushions and mattresses to help with air flow
  • Leave fans and dehumidifiers running to keep things dry
  • Bleach water tanks
  • Put vinegar in the toilet
  • Get a boat babysitter for peace of mind
  • Store all breakables in a cabinet in case of strong winds
  • Put more lines out than you think you’d need
  • Wipe down all surfaces + inside every cabinet with disinfectant wipes. It’s a pain in the butt but you don’t want to come back to any mold!
  • Damp Rid bags in every closet
  • For the love of God, empty your holding tank

 

As for the marina, we have FOUR new liveaboards that moved in while we were gone! I just love that Gottschalk is growing into such a vibrant and active liveaboard community. We love the sense of family here and sharing the lifestyle with others. It is going to be a great summer.

 

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W