Front, Back, and Middle
Front, Back, and Middle

Isn’t this fun? Baby steps toward the finish line, but as release date nears (and no, it won’t be tomorrow, but soon), all the changes from the editor and beta readers have been included, the cover is ready, and

Amazon has a sale going on!

Pre-order at a significant discount

off the cover price for the paperback version. Of course, the e-book price will be even lower.

Can’t wait to announce the release. You want to party with me then?






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!

BECALMED: Fun with Book Covers


Becalmed Cover



The proposed cover by the designer at Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. I figure where there’s a cover, there’s bound to be a book someday.

And here’s the Back Cover Copy:

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

Tadie Longworth doesn’t spend much time worrying that she’s turning into one of Beaufort, North Carolina’s, spinsters. She has a gift shop full of her own jewelry designs and a sweet little sailboat to take her mind off the guy who got away. But now he’s back—with the drop-dead gorgeous wife he picked instead of Tadie—and he won’t leave her alone.

When widower Will Merritt sails into town with a broken boat and an inquisitive seven-year-old daughter, he provides the perfect distraction—until that distraction turns into something more when Tadie offers them shelter during a hurricane. Over candlelit board games, Jilly becomes the daughter she could have had and Will the man she always wanted . . . only, he’s sworn never to let another woman in his life. Any day now, he’s going to finish those repairs and that ship’s going to sail—straight out of Tadie’s life.






Woo-hoo! Sea Venture Went Roaming!

I took time off from writing and editing to play on our beloved boat! So, so much fun.

I know. Our poor darling Sea Venture sat around on the hard and then at dock for far, far too long. But Saturday dawned bright and cold, and off we went, up the ICW from Beaufort, NC, to New Bern. Now we have a vacation spot an hour away by car and a good eight hours by water.

There wasn’t much to photograph on the way up, but I decided to bore you with memory pictures.

Michael and friend, Ray Lokay, letting the autopilot steer.

Ray and Marianne Lokay own a center-cockpit version of the Force 50, which they keep at the New Bern Grand. Force 50s are not the only thing we have in common. Ray now works for my cousin. Ray and Marianne used to live on the Eastern Shore, near where my children grew up, and the four of us, along with my sailing cousin, his wife, and my mama, have discovered how much fun we’re having with good food, good conversation, and a love of the water.

Marianne Lokay, keeping warm
My little mama after her nap on deck


With no wind, they cancelled the race, and now the breeze begins.
Neuse River bank, James City
Approaching the Neuse River Bridge
On the ICW, Mama on the lookout

As you can see, Sea Venture’s mainsail is still lashed after Sandy came roaring through. We also haven’t yet reinstalled the headsails, but we couldn’t have gotten much headway under sail on a day when it barely hit five knots.

Our pitiful wake

Sea Venture’s newly painted prop must have grown a beard in the three months since she launched–she dragged along on the trip, barely making 5.5 knots. Poor girl needs a shave, so our first item of business will be to find a diver to clean the bottom. I’m sorry we’re no longer in the tropics. Michael and I used to have a grand time doing the job ourselves and feeding the local fauna. (See pictures from Mexico.)

Ray and Marianne’s boat in the background behind SV in New Bern. We can chat across the fairway!

Looking forward to the Christmas lights and parade in December!


Fading into Silence?

What does it mean when a cruiser’s sailing blog slips into silence?

Sometimes, the sailor is busy sailing. He can’t write, because he’s at sea. She doesn’t post, because she’s too busy living the seafaring life.

Wouldn’t it be jolly if that were my excuse?

Well, I’m sorry to say, silence reigns here because Sea Venture is still on the hard.

I know. Amazing.

But true. So, here’s the update. She looks terrible. The poor dear has her stuffing pulled out and her mizzen still off, and there’s dirt everywhere. Nothing is as dirty as a boatyard.

I’m hoping this is the storm before the calm. A mess on its way to clean. The beast about to become a beauty.


So, that’s why I’ve been silent. Not because we’ve been too busy sailing.

I will say that I’ve also been just a tad preoccupied with my writing.

Oh, didn’t you know that I write women’s fiction from a sailor’s perspective? I do. And my first Beaufort story will be released sometime toward the end of the year or the first of next year in both print and e-book format. You can keep track of that by coming by to say “Hey!” on Facebook. Or hanging out at the writing blog: Writing on Board

Looking forward to seeing you there!


Becalmed No Longer

Tadie Longworth wouldn’t stop poking at me. She was tired of her quiet, monochromatic life and all those breezeless days. I could sympathize. After all, we’re both sailors.

I finally have good news for her and her Beaufort friends. My agent, Terry Burns, forwarded a contract yesterday that will let Tadie kick up her heels and see a little color in her life.

I’ve tweaked my stories, slashed and dashed, set one aside to write another. From keyboard to floppy discs and later onto one hard drive after another, characters have lived with me and begged for breathing room. Some only told me a bit about themselves, a paragraph or two, a chapter, and so they waited. Or I waited, until their clamoring forced me to people their world and let them into mine.

Now, the first of my Beaufort stories has found a home. Tadie, who loves to sail to Cape Lookout in a sharpie much like mine, will find her way into print at a fitting home: Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Can you imagine a more perfect name for a publisher of my sailing stories? Jilly must be doing a little happy dance, her bright orange pigtails bouncing as she peeks out from the companionway steps at the brilliant color of the sunrise. “Wake up, daddy! We’ve got things to do and people to meet!”

Becalmed is becalmed no longer. Keep a look out for more news of Tadie and the Beaufort crew as it becomes available.



New SSCA Cruising Station: Beaufort, NC

Now that Sea Venture and her crew are hanging around the Beaufort area more often than not, we’ve volunteered to become a cruising station for sailors wending their way north or south on the US East Coast.


If you don’t know about the Seven Seas Cruising Association, now’s the time to discover the benefits of membership. Michael and I joined while we were still in California, preparing Sea Venture for her adventure. We may have met some of you at the Oakland Boat Show when we manned the SSCA booth.

We had so much to learn. We’d come from years of coastal or dinghy sailing but had never done any real offshore cruising — certainly not with only ourselves in charge. What to take? How to outfit an ocean-going vessel? What about insurance? Anchoring? What equipment works best? What should we avoid? What about navigation, charts, radios? (Michael had these down, but yours truly? I could navigate from buoy to buoy, but that was it.) And then, my favorites: the adventure stories written by folk who’d been there, done that. We gleaned so much from the SSCA bulletins and from meeting SSCA cruising members.

It’s time to pass forward some of those blessings. No, we haven’t swallowed the anchor. We’ll still go cruising, especially when we need to hightail it out of the way of hurricanes, but we remember how wonderful it was to enter a strange port and find a friend or to have someone who’d been there point us in the right direction.

Beaufort is a lovely town, full of history and delightful folk. But it’s not the easiest place for provisioning or for catching a flight to elsewhere. So. When we’re here, we’ll try to help with that. Just give us a shout, preferably by email, and we’ll try to be there to catch your lines or offer what assistance we can.

Jot us a note at svseaventure at gmail dot com. We’ll be waiting to hear from you!

SSCA Website

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