Stop by WFWA Café May 25-May 29

We’ll be discussing Sailing out of Darkness all week long at the Women’s Fiction Writers Association Café on Facebook.sod small

Stop by any time to comment or ask a question–and perhaps win the book!

STORMS AND STORIES: Post-Hurricane, a Story from Mexico

Waves crashing on rock
Waves crashing on rock

One of my WIPs begins with a scene taken from my first storm on board Sea Venture. We’d moved the boat from the CA Delta to Marina Bay in Richmond, CA. The wind and waves had direct access through the Golden Gate to our slip. Michael was late returning from work that night when a whopper of a storm raised its furious head. As I lay in my bunk, shuddering along with Sea Venture, I imagined what it might be like for a novice sailor (because if I were scared, how much more would she be?), alone on a boat in a strange country. So I moved my character to La Paz, MX (one of our favorite cruising grounds in the Sea of Cortez), named their boat Mystic, and gave the area a new marina.

Here’s the opening to On a Night Like This:

Chapter One

Waves crested Marina Algare’s finger piers, dousing the dock and anything—or anyone—still roaming abroad that night. The slaps echoed like the beat of bass drum on the uninsulated fiberglass of Mystic’s transom, and Kyra snuggled deeper under the summer-weight blankets. She longed for brick and mortar, for solid ground and the strong foundation she’d left stateside. Instead, mere inches separated her from the banshee’s fury.

Halyards flogged the mast. She should have lashed the lines before the storm hit, but how could she have known they’d be a problem? Preparing the boat had always been Stephen’s job. She winced as something thudded into the hull, once, twice. The wind howled, screeching through the rigging. Kyra flattened a pillow against her ear.

She’d been through plenty of storms in the California Delta where the inland heat sucked wind off the ocean and sent it surging up the rivers. There, tucked behind thick walls and curtained windows, she’d felt safe, immune from violence. When the weatherman warned of high winds, she had only to check the flashlight batteries, make sure Stephen had filled the generator with gas, and then slip into something comfortable before turning on a movie. Or curling up to read. Or going to sleep. Being alone wasn’t a problem in Rio Vista.

But she wasn’t in her California house, was she? Thanks to Stephen, she was on a boat in Mexico, their new home, he’d called it when he’d enticed her here—before abandoning her to face what sounded like a hurricane.

A sob clogged her throat. If he were lying next to her, he’d laugh and rub a hand up her back, his long fingers tickling her slightly before they inched toward her tense muscles. He’d remind her, in his low and soothing voice, that even if the wind piped to sixty, Mystic was a good old girl, well able to handle a storm. Kyra could imagine his chuckle. “Poor Kyra, so nervous. What is there to worry about?” He tell her that they’d head to sea if the wind got to near-hurricane force and heave to. Mystic wouldtake care of them. “And besides,” he’d insist, “The Lord watches over us.”

She leveled a curse at his missing form, though after that last thought, the curse felt dangerous, as if she’d spooked herself and her circumstances. Too bad she didn’t have Stephen’s faith—in either the boat or his God.

Lying in the dark, she had no idea how hard the wind blew, but it was loud and bad and nothing she wanted to be in the middle of, thank you very much. Everything Stephen said made sense when he was here and in charge. But he wasn’t, and she had no idea why not.

When another gust rocked the boat, Kyra started, thinking it might be Stephen’s weight causing the lurch. She listened, but no footfalls moved aft.

What good were promises if he were off gallivanting around Mexico instead of here to keep them? She couldn’t take a forty-five foot boat to sea on her own. She had to stay tethered to the dock and hope that the lines held and the pilings were strong and no other boat got loose to crash into them.

If he’d decided not to drive back from Cabo because of the storm, why hadn’t he called? He had a cell phone, and, surely, Cabo San Lucas had decent service.

She flipped on a light to check the signal strength bars on her phone’s screen. Five. So, it wasn’t a fault in La Paz. It didn’t make sense. Stephen was always so careful with her. Knowing how nervous she got when he didn’t call to say he’d be late, he always phoned. Hitting speed dial for his cell, she waited, then left her second panicky voice mail. “Where are you?!”

For his sake, she tried praying, but it felt as if the noises outside drowned her words—even though she didn’t speak them aloud. The heavens seemed too busy pouring down rain to bother with one lone woman in a dark and very foreign marina. Fine, she and God weren’t on the best of terms, but Stephen kept saying God listened.

It didn’t look like it from here.

Finally, sometime in the night, the storm quieted. But she still lay alone with a phone that didn’t ring.

New York City: Babies, Boats, and Books

I know you’ll forgive me for the blog silence when I explain that I’ve been just a little busy. Some of you will have seen the Facebook pictures of my time in the city, but here are a few to remind me and you of the important things in life.


Little Ella talks to her daddy
Little Ella talks to her daddy
And chats with her giraffe


The baby whisperer
The baby whisperer


My son-in-law calls me the Baby Whisperer because I could soothe our sweet little darling and give her parents a break. This was taken on my last day with her–and she did as much to soothe my spirit as I did for hers.

I did have the privilege of meeting my publicist face-to-face.  River Laker of Silver Seas PR came to town to help me at a book event in one of the top NYC book stores. Here I am, reading an excerpt from Becalmed.

Reading from Becalmed
Reading at Bluestockings


We loved our time at Liberty Landing Marina.

Just after dawn
Just after dawn
Lights come on in Manhattan as seen from SV's deck
Lights come on in Manhattan as seen from SV’s deck
View as we dined at Liberty House Restaurant
View as we dined at Liberty House Restaurant


Sea Venture is slowly wending her way south. First real stop, Chesapeake City, MD, and then it’s on to Baltimore and more book signing parties!

If you’re anywhere along our route south (Chesapeake Bay and ICW) please give us a shout out.  I’d love to meet you hither, thither, or yon.









Beta Reader Reviews BECALMED

From Nicole Petrino-Salter’s blog Into the Fire comes Becalmed’s first blog review.  I’m doing a happy dance.

Here’s a bit out of the middle:

Normandie Fischer leaves no question as to the authenticity of her sailing know-how in her entertaining first release Becalmed. Just as talented author Tom Morrisey has made rock climbing and diving terms real to those of us who’ve never done either, Normandie takes us right onto the boats in her story without talking down to us or forfeiting the true language and operation of those who love the wind in their sails.

Sometimes genres mesh together and don’t fit comfortably into their assigned niches, but Becalmed is Women’s Fiction from stem to stern…

A polished wordsmith, Normandie Fischer captures the essence of Southern charm and infuses it with the love of the sailing life, the needs and desires of a still-young woman who feels old and unattractive, and the necessity for honest relationships. Becalmed fills the reader with vivid emotional and physical imagery ingesting Southern humor and expressions moving toward reaching a touching and satisfying conclusion.

Hop on over to Nicole’s blog to read the rest!


Onward and Upward: New Roles and New Hats

I’ve had a lovely time as Executive Editor of Wayside Press, the general market imprint of Written World Communications, but it’s time to hang up that hat as I move forward into new roles. Two of my books release this summer, I’ve more on the hard drive in need to tweaking, and I’m a soon-to-be grandmother.

There’s only so much time in a day and only so much energy given to each of us. I’ve loved working with Wayside’s authors, and I know I’ll miss interacting with all the new ones who will be showing up at the imprint’s door. But none of us is expendable, and if we try to do too much, none of it will be done well.

So, to those authors I’ve met at conferences who had hoped to submit to me, I’m sorry. But I’m sure someone else will take up the slack. And I’d still like to hear from you, to encourage you in your work and to gather encouragement from you!

Editor Hat
Editor Hat

The Editor becomes:

Admiral of Sea Venture as we take to the water again with Michael and Mama and our trip north! Not a flattering photo, but very real as I maneuvered us into Bahia de la Paz, Mexico.

At Sea Venture's Helm
At Sea Venture’s Helm

And this, sailing my little boat on jaunts out to Cape Lookout:

Sailing Puff
Sailing Puff

And this! The author gets to have some fun.

The Author
The Author

As soon as I have pictures that include the grandmother role, I’ll let you know!


My Turn at The Next Big Thing

I’m writing this blog post at the behest of Val Nieman, who tagged me to join in a blog hop called The Next Big Thing. Val is a delightful friend, a transplant to North Carolina from the cold North, and a very talented writer. Her latest, newest, Next Big Thing is a literary-coming-of-age novel that has just the sort of elements that make me want to read it: sailing, marina life, and mystery.


It turns out that my critique partner also tagged me back in November, but either my brain went into under-drive, or I blocked it out because I’m so busy with too many projects. Probably hid that note in the recesses of never-to-be-found. I’m glad Jane Lebak has a great sense of humor. She writes delightful books starring angels with issues, and each one points me to a deeper place where I confront again the nature of God. Here’s the link to her Next Big Thing post:


MY TWO NEXT BIG THINGS (In question format as dictated by this blog hop.)

1.  What is the working title of your book or project?

Becalmed will be my debut novel, published this spring by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Sailing out of Darkness follows soon after, and then one of the other two in edits…I think.

 Becalmed Cover


2.  Where did the idea come from for the book or project?

The what-if for Becalmed arose from my aunt’s life. She was a small-town girl from New Bern, NC, who remained a spinster until she died at age ninety, a fairly common occurrence in her day, but it got me wondering. What if she—or someone like her—had grown up in a small town as a product of the eighties and nineties instead of the thirties? What choices might she have made that would propel her back to that small town? Why would she have said no to man after man who came begging? Would she, a woman with plenty of money and talent and friends, yearn for a man in her bed and children in her arms? Or would she be content with sailing and art, with friends and a shop and the big house on the water?

Sister Sara on board Sea Venture in 2004
Sister Sara on board Sea Venture at age 89

3.  What genre does it fall under, if any?

It’s women’s fiction with a love story thrown in for good measure.

4.  If applicable, who would you choose to play your characters in a movie?

If Meryl Streep were a few decades younger, she’d always be my first choice for Tadie’s character. She’s incredibly gifted. The other characters are hard for me to match, mostly because I’m not exactly au curant with modern movies.

5.  What is the one-sentence synopsis of your manuscript or project?

When a southern woman with a broken heart falls for a widower with a broken boat, it’s anything but smooth sailing.

6.  Will your book or story be self-published or represented by an agency?

My work is represented by Terry Burns of Hartline Literary Agency.

7.  How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I haven’t a clue. It’s been many years in the making, through draft after draft, and in between I’ve written and revised several others.

8.  What other book or stories would you compare this story to within the genre?

I’m never good at that. Let me know what you think when you read it!


9.  Who or what inspired you to write this book or story?

Sara Meadows as a child

My aunt, the sailor, who lived with me for the last nine years of her life.

10.  What else about the book or story might pique the reader’s interest?

Beaufort, NC, is a delightful waterfront town and serves as the setting for a series of women’s fiction stories, beginning with Becalmed. The second will be Heavy Weather.


Beaufort, NC
Beaufort, NC

I love to write from the POV of children. Becalmed’s seven-year-old Jilly sails into town with her daddy and is my favorite character in the book.

I also adore writing bad guys. The one who confronts Tadie in Becalmed no longer has his own POV—I dropped it during a rewrite—but there must be something slightly warped in me that I find their thoughts fun to write. Heavy Weather’s villain does have his own POV because he’s so deliciously awful.

  Gulls in San Carlos Dec 2009

(Poor gulls, but doesn’t that one’s face intimidate you? He definitely wants what I have.)

The fact that many of my female protagonists are sailors may interest readers. I’ve been a sailor all my life, taught first by my auntie, whose small boat I still sail in NC coastal waters. Of course, some stories don’t justify giving the protagonists a boat, and one WIP stars a woman who is petrified of the whole sailing adventure.

My aunt’s sharpie, Puff


And now, I nominate the following friends and bloggers to tell us about Their Next Big Thing:


Linda Glaz, author, agent, hilarious and kind friend whose eagle eye caught a number of glitches in my manuscripts, will be giving away books on Friday, January 11, as well as talking about good things that make up the Next Big Thing.


My dear friend and writer of thoughtful books, Nicole Petrino-Salter, beat me to this project. Here’s a link to her Next Big Thing blog post:


Kristine Pratt is a born encourager and a wonderful, thoughtful writer. As CEO of Written World Communications, she’s also my boss. (If only we could get some of her manuscripts out of her hands and into book form…sigh.)  She has agreed to surprise us with her Next Big Thing on Thursday, January 10:


Susie Finkbeiner will be releasing her debut novel, Paint Chips in ebook format on January 15 and plans to talk about it on the 17th as The Next Big Thing at :

Susie’s trailer is enticing enough that I’m going to be first in line to download the book to Kindle. And WhiteFire’s talented designer, Roseanna White, did a scrumptious cover for Paint Chips. Go take a look!

New Writing Blog, Lost Friends

It appears that, when I upgraded Writing on Board from to, I made both blog-post pictures and people vanish into cyberspace. If, by any chance, you were among those following my writing world at, then I’d be grateful if you’d drop by again and hit Subscribe.

I apologize. Really. To you and to my time, which has been frittered away with design woes when it ought to have been spent either writing, editing, or varnishing Sea Venture’s companionway doors.


And thank you for bearing with my Internet woes.