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From Between the Covers TV Show to Falmouth Harbor

Falmouth Foreside harbor in Maine

 

June ended with a bang: a really fun TV interview with Stephanie Larkin, publisher of Red Penguin Books, on Between the Covers TV Show about Holding Fast, my book about the sailing journey I took with my husband and young daughter. Not only were her questions interesting like asking me about my evolution from who I was when I started the book to years later when I finished, but I also enjoyed meeting the other writers whom she interviewed, Amy Bernstein and Shannon Lawrence. We all write in different genres and the conversation was lively. You can see it here. My portion begins around 23:00.

 

Last week, I had the immense joy of attending my granddaughter's wedding in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. The weather and setting could not have been more exquisite. I remember the days when she tormented her younger brother, and seeing the stunning and amazing young woman she's become was a delight. I hadn't visited the Northeast side of the family since pre-Covid and I'm still savoring how great it was to be together. I also took a little time to explore the coast, like Falmouth Harbor above, and to sample numerous lobster rolls.

 

Hope you all are enjoying summer.

 

Here's a link to the Holding Fast excerpt running in Blue Water Sailing along with some fabulous pictures from our voyage. Check it out! The excerpt begins on page 12. Laughing Goat: A Family Adventure

 

Read more about the boat in my memoir Holding Fast which outlines the sailing journey I took with my husband and daughter.
Holding Fast: A Memoir of Sailing, Love, and Loss

 

 

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Blue Water Sailing Publishes First Excerpt!

 

 

Blue Water Sailing will be featuring excerpts of Holding Fast in the next four issues! The first excerpt is out today in the spring issue.

 

The first excerpt is about buying Laughing Goat, and getting ready to leave Connecticut. When I met John in our twenties, he had a dream of sailing off someday. We lived aboard old, leaky boats in Long Island Sound for fifteen years before I finally convinced him to live on land. We bought a lovely house in Fairfield,  had many close friends and relatives, thriving careers, and a young daughter. I hoped John would want to settle down. I didn't want to leave.

 

But his dream grew stronger. We searched for a seaworthy sailboat that could take us offshore. John had sailed all his life on Long Island Sound, and we had little experience in the ocean. We were terrified of sailing at night. 

 

We found the perfect boat, sturdy and elegant. What could go wrong?

 

Check out the excerpt on page 12, along with great pictures, and peruse the rest of the magazine for free here: 

Laughing Goat: A Family Adventure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ghosting Along in Long Island Sound

American Yacht Club, Rye, NY, on Long Island Sound

 

 

I was delighted to visit the American Yacht Club located on Long Island Sound in Rye, New York, to talk about Holding Fast. My husband John and I lived in Connecticut, just north of Rye, for twenty-odd years and I have been gone for almost as long. 

 

While the room was being set up, I sipped iced tea on the patio. The velvety green lawn, fresh sea smells, light breezes, blue water sparkling in the late afternoon sun, the hazy Long Island shoreline dotted with white houses, and pretty boats heading out for evening sails... was so familiar. I had forgotten how much I loved Long Island Sound.

 

When we lived there, we sometimes took quick afternoon sails in similarly mild, sunny weather. John called it ghosting–slowly easing along, sails ruffling softly, no sudden gusts or moves. I liked that term, allowing the wind to carry us, not battling with it. 

 

I had a great time with the sailing audience, and really enjoyed their questions about sailing and the writing process. I realized how much the book had changed from early drafts when I was determined to portray us as conquering heroes sailing the high seas to later drafts when I dealt more honestly with my conflicting feelings, and our flaws. 

 

Read more about the boat in my memoir Holding Fast which outlines the sailing journey I took with my husband and daughter.
https://www.amazon.com/Holding-Fast-Memoir.../dp/B09FX9VBTN/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chicken Tacos and Compact Spaces

Laughing Goat galley, looking aft.

 

I'm excited that I've been invited to the American Yacht Club in Rye, New York, to talk about Holding Fast on May 19th. While searching for photographs to accompany the talk, I found a picture of Laughing Goat's galley, above, looking aft, to the rear of the boat. On the left, the companionway stairs leads up to the cockpit and in the middle, you can see a bit of the aft cabin where John and I slept. We had just bought the boat so there are no personal touches in the galley yet like the big plastic container of Milk Bones for Elmo, our Portuguese water dog, or coffee mugs on the shelf above the sink.

 

I remember making chicken tacos when we were in Isla Mujeres with fresh roasted chicken and tortillas from a little shop in town while delectable smells filled the boat, and my excitement to have a real closet (the hanging locker in the aft cabin), not realizing that in addition to our clothes, we'd also store the giant sump pump and hose. I remember John and Kate laughing in the cockpit while I was cooking, and I'd pop my head out the door to see why, while watching plates slide on the counter in the waves, but not fall off because the fiddle at the edge held them in place.

 

Everything on the boat had a reason for being, and often, multiple uses. The boat only felt small when rain trapped us inside too long and we got "cabin fever." Laughing Goat's  compact, glowing space expanded my world so much.

 

New York and Connecticut friends, if you belong to the American Yacht Club, or know someone who does, I'd love to see you there on May 19th at 6:30pm!

 

Coming up in June, I'll be interviewed on Between the Covers TV Show. Taping is on June 13th, and the show will be aired beginning on June 22nd.

 

Read more about the boat in my memoir Holding Fast which outlines the sailing journey I took with my husband and daughter.
Holding Fast: A Memoir of Sailing, Love, and Loss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Sailing Marriage, with all the Highs and Lows of Pitching Seas

John and Susan's marriage aboard Phaedrus, Stamford Harbor, Connecticut, 1978

 

 

John and I got married in 1978 on Phaedrus, a 50-ton Norwegian sailboat that was almost too heavy to sail, in the harbor at Stamford, Connecticut, where we lived aboard at the time. The boat had a nine-foot draft and on our wedding day, we ran aground on the edge of the channel. John hurried below, changed into his Speedo, and dove overboard to see if he could figure a way to get us off, but we were stuck hard aground. 

 

We held the ceremony there. It was a great harbinger of the years to come: follow our hearts, and when things don't go our way, deal with it the best way we can.

 

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I'm thrilled to share a terrific review from Julia Jones of Yachting Monthly that came out today:

 

A sailing marriage, with all the highs and lows of pitching seas.

 

This is the record of a marriage more than an account of a cruise; yet sailing couples will understand how the two become intertwined.

Susan met her husband John in 1969 when they were both working in a creative, hippy-ish company in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Their backgrounds were quite different: John having sailed since the age of four and having spent significant periods of his life in Africa.

Susan from a landlocked Jewish immigrant family in Ohio. Both were then married to other people.

Susan tells the story of their first 15 years as liveaboards in Long Island Sound, rowing ashore in the mornings to change into business clothes in the bushes.

Anyone who has grappled with the dying years of ancient wooden boats will know from the day their transom fell off on their first outing, that weeks, months, years of joint hard work is only postponing the inevitable.

Their first home – a 1903 former ferry boat – sunk and they lost everything... Read more

 

I hope that you're all enjoying gorgeous spring weather, as we are today in New Orleans!

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Freezing on Chesapeake Bay

John, Kate, and Elmo freezing on Chesapeake Bay on the way from Connecticut to Florida.

 

 

We moved aboard Laughing Goat in Annapolis after John, Cliff (a hired captain), and my nephew sailed Laughing Goat down from Connecticut, where we lived. Though John had wanted me to come, I had never sailed overnight, much less in the pitch-black Atlantic Ocean, and was terrified; neither had John, and I liked the idea of John experiencing the terror first, so he could show me the way. John believed that a little experience was all we needed to conquer our fears. I stayed home in Connecticut to pack.

 

In Annapolis, we spent a month preparing the boat for the voyage in increasingly cold weather. Kate had become so bored that she began pointing out houses we could buy and schools she could attend. I invented landside tasks I absolutely had to finish before leaving; though I hadn't succeeded in clinging to my home and garden in Connecticut, I did my best to hang onto a port and town I liked. When we finally bit the bullet, a phrase John used often, and left the dock, it felt like the real start to the voyage. Bundled up on a crisp winter day, we set out in high spirits, and took in the wondrous charms of Chesapeake Bay.

 

I can do this, I thought.

 

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I'm excited that excerpts from Laughing Goat will be published in Blue Water Sailing and reach a wide sailing audience. I sent all the photos in on deadline last week, and will keep you posted on publication dates.

 

I'm very pleased to have been invited to the American Yacht Club in Rye, New York, to participate in their Speaker Series. I will be there on May 19th for a talk and book-signing. The yacht club is located near the harbor where John and I first lived aboard XL, an old, sinking ferryboat. 

 

In June, I will be taping Between the Covers TV Show  to air on June 22nd. It's an author interview in which the audience can ask questions. I'll post when I have more details.

 

Please take a moment to review Holding Fast on Amazon, if you haven't yet:

 

Amazon

 

Happy spring!

 

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St. Anne Parade and Red Velvet Cake

St. Anne Parade, Mardi Gras, New Orleans, March 1, 2022

I didn't realize until I moved to New Orleans that Mardi Gras isn't over in just one day. Parades, balls, king cakes, and snarled traffic take over New Orleans for two weeks. Many of the parades are breathtaking with gorgeous floats, a kaleidoscope of colors and smoke and fabulously dressed riders,  like Smoking Mary, an iridescent float train about six cars long in the Orpheus Parade. 

 

St. Anne is the people's parade on Fat Tuesday, the last day of Mardi Gras season. Anyone can join, unlike the more elaborate parades where you have to be a member of a sponsoring krewe. Some people work all year sewing costumes, but others just throw something together. Family and friend groups come up with themes--snarkily decorated boxes over their heads exemplifying quarantine, or a family dressed as roller derby skaters, the Nola Rollas. The red-velvet-cake couple in the photo above were behind a woman covered in soda cans and beside a couple dressed as sunflowers. After days of fancier, pre-planned parades, it's a joy to mingle together on the street. It also has an interesting history.

 

There was an especially mellow spirit in the air this year with people thankful to be able to celebrate after the unthinkable occurred in 2021 and Mardi Gras was cancelled. Mardi Gras has a new story every time you go out and St. Anne Parade is really special.

 

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I had a great time last week as the guest author at a memoir class at Simon Fraser University Writers Studio in Vancouver, British Columbia. The students asked great questions like how much I wrote during the sailing voyage, and what my revision process was like. It was also lovely to hear their work.

 

I'm excited to announce that excerpts of Holding Fast will appear in the next four issues of Blue Water Sailing along with photos, some of which have not previously been published. I'll keep you posted when it comes out!

 

If you've read the book, please review it on Amazon. It's easy to do–click the link below and scroll down the page until you see "write a customer review" and click on it. It doesn't have to be brilliant, a couple of phrases are fine!

 

Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reluctant Spouses and Sailing Regrets

Southern Yacht Club, New Orleans

I really enjoyed talking about Holding Fast to an interested audience of sailors the other night at the Southern Yacht Club, including couples who were hoping to take off cruising themselves one day, and women who sailed and raced their own boats. They had great questions, such as whether, as the spouse of a lifelong sailor who agreed reluctantly to the voyage, I regretted going. 

 

When John and I first lived on an old, leaky Fire Island ferryboat in our twenties and I told people that I'd never been on the water before I met John, they were surprised and puzzled as to why I would agree to live in a chilly New England harbor with only a Franklin stove for heat and few amenities. Surely, part of it was the power of new love, but it was also the adventure, taking a leap to something so different and romantic. When we sailed off on Laughing Goat, I hated leaving my secure life in Connecticut and was terrified of sailing out of sight of land. I was excited, though, to set out into the unknown with two people whom I loved; and for John to live out his dream.

 

I would regret if I hadn't said yes. 

 

I was thrilled to meet women in the audience who were sailing and racing on their own, part of an active group of women sailors in New Orleans. When we were on our voyage, it took my breath away whenever I met a woman sailing single-handed, making her way solo around the world. I didn't have the fortitude or sailing skills for that, but I'm glad that I took the leap I did. 

 

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Holding Fast Goes International

Holding Fast arrives at Between the Lines bookstore in Merida.

I met David in a Dunkin' Donuts parking lot on Veterans Highway in Metairie, about twenty minutes from my home in New Orleans. He had been kind and game enough to answer my plea in an expat Facebook group for someone willing to take a few books between New Orleans and Merida, Mexico. As trucks whizzed by on the highway, I slipped him a ziploc package of books while looking over my shoulder, imagining a narcotics squad about to nab us.

 

This all started when a Merida friend said she wanted to buy my book but couldn't bring herself to purchase it from Amazon. John and I lived in Merida during what turned out to be his last year. She suggested Between the Lines, a wonderful bookstore in Merida. Shipping costs to Mexico are prohibitive, and I'd already had the experience there of Christmas cards arriving in April and packages held in obscure customs offices for months.

 

Thank you, David, all the others who offered to take the book, and Between the Lines, where it will now be available! During the process of putting Holding Fast out into the world, I've been continually amazed by your generosity, and hope to pay it forward.

 

Please keep the reviews coming on Amazon!

 

Amazon

 

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Wishing y'all a splendid day!

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In With the New, Not Quite Out With the Old

The wall next to my writing desk, New Orleans

I finished writing Holding Fast a year ago. It's hard to believe how much has happened since, from publication in October to book-signings in favorite bookstores to a feature in the Times-Picayune, the New Orleans newspaper; not to mention connecting with so many readers, which has been awesome. While I was writing, post-it notes covered the wall next to my writing desk: ideas for scenes, inspirational quotes, themes. As I begin work on my next book, two notes from Holding Fast remain.

 

It took some  years, and many writing workshops, before I understood that a main theme of the book was leaving conventional life behind. Once I put that note up, it never came down. If whatever I wrote didn't pertain to it, it couldn't be in the book.

 

Jerry Saltz, in How to Be an Artist, says "Find your own voice. Then exaggerate it."(p. 49). When I asked a writer friend for feedback on the initial draft of Holding Fast, she said, "I want to see more of you in there." At the time, John, Kate, and I were living in Florida. We had enrolled Kate in a regular school, and Kate and I would have the "normal" lives we craved after three years on the water. We had a pretty house in a suburban community with a vibrant downtown and a gorgeous white sand beach on the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Yet I was miserable. I was away from family and friends (John didn't want to return to the Northeast). I had little in common with the neighbors and hated the locked gates of our development clicking behind me each time I drove in. I cried each night. While writing, I imagined myself on a rosy version of Laughing Goat sailing in ever-sunny seas. I wasn't sure what my friend meant about putting more of myself in.

 

I gained more insight as time passed and eventually, I was able to reflect back, to find my own voice. I love Saltz' notion of exaggerating it: for those of us who come late to expressing ourselves, what seems like exaggeration is most likely simply an acknowledgement of truths already there. It was hard work but has opened up my life up in ways I could not have imagined, for which I'm grateful. 

 

Finally, if you've read the book and haven't left a review, please do so. It helps with Amazon's algorithms. Simply click below, and scroll down the page to "write a customer review." One sentence or a couple phrases are fine!

 

Amazon

 

I also wanted to let you know about a wonderful new website, Shepherd, which Ben Fox started and as he says, is like wandering around your favorite bookstore but reimagined for the online world... along with notes from authors pointing out their favorite books. Here is a link to my page, where you can also buy my book!

 
Shepherd

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