End of an Era

The universe’s plans for me differ from the “sail around the world and write stuff” one I had in mind. Five months after being laid off, without steady employment, a new opportunity arose overseas.

I took it.

The good news is the steady employment part. The overseas part ain’t bad at all. I’ve been back in the US for seven years now. Wanderlust has tickled my toes for awhile now. I just assumed my planned voyages would settle that down.

The bad news is I must sell/donate the sailboat that has been my much-loved home for the past two years. I’ll adjust, of course. Maybe I’ll get some earthquakes to make up for the regularly wobbly footing aboard…

I learned a lot as a liveaboard. I loved a lot more. It’s a bittersweet sort of thing. I’m excited about the new adventure, sad to close out this particular chapter.

I won’t have much time to reflect. I must be out of the boat/marina by the end of February. Much to throw away, much to scrub, not much to pack. Still, so much for “free time.”


I’m cross-posting this on both Tales of the White Raven and Raven’s Nest since it affects both.

On Wednesday, I was laid off from En Masse Entertainment, my home for the past two years, eight months. It hit hard yesterday, where I allowed myself a full day to feel peeved, hurt, scared, and doubting. I also saw the new Total Recall (Spectacular visuals, a few amazingly ignorant-of-science moments, Kate Beckinsale and Bokeem Woodbine were great. Needed more humor. 4/5 stars) for distraction purposes.

Today, however, is a new day. I’ve got stuff to do. To quote another cinematic masterpiece, I ain’t got time to bleed. I’ve got bills to pay, a book signing to attend (in support of another author), and research to do. I’ve got several articles I want to write (and hopefully sell!), so I’m making my trip count on multiple levels. I still feel the loss of my job, of course. How could I not? Life moves on, and so must I.

If I needed an impetus to learn the marketing game, I’ve got one now. I’ll make a big push to push sales of Antigone’s Fall (which makes a spectacular gift for friends, enemies, and your parents!), not only in an effort to drum up revenue from that book, but to build up an audience for my next books.

Sadly, this puts a lot of my boat plans on hold. I’m not wholly surprised, of course. When I committed to buying a boat back in 2008, I got laid off as well, lost my boat fund, and other assorted disasters, yet three years later I got White Raven. I have to have faith that my dreams of voyages and book writing from foreign shores will still come true, if not quite on the timeline I envisioned.

So, if you happen to know anyone who’s ludicrously wealthy and needs a ghost writer or a great company in need of a wordslinger, please let me know.

Planning a World Cruise

I need more views like this.

Now that the Write-a-thon is finished, I can turn my head back to my two great loves—White Raven and my novels. I work better under pressure and on a schedule, so I set a tentative date to leave Seattle and start cruising—December, 2014. That’s subject to change, of course. I worked up a budget that pays for the refits and sets some money aside to boot. If I can make my goals ahead of time, I get to leave sooner.

I don’t mind the idea of leaving in the winter. True, the weather in the Northwest will be gloomtastic, but I’ll head south almost immediately and be in Californian waters in less than ten days, and in Mexico in under twenty. I want to give myself plenty of time to transit the Panama Canal, sail up through the Caribbean, and make the Atlantic crossing.

I’m reading True Spirit at the moment, Jessica Watson’s book. I followed her circumnavigation closely. It’s scary to identify so much with her feelings as she prepared for her voyage. Her motivations, her fears, her hopes—I keep nodding my head as I read it. Her boat, Ella’s Pink Lady, is an S&S 34, a gorgeous, capable vessel. White Raven’s only a foot longer, but I’m hoping some of the lessons she learned will apply to my boat. If you haven’t read it, I think it’s well worth the time.

Back to the budget. At the end of two and half years, I should have saved $66,000, although that figure looks cooler than it is. That’s the working budget. I need to subtract all of the repairs and equipment from that pool of money. This gave me an excuse to pore over the West Marine catalog and start making a note of things I want/need. I realize things can often be purchased elsewhere at reduced cost, but this gives me a solid baseline to work with. Plus, if I can’t find better deals, the worst case scenario still falls within my plan.

Even so, it’s remarkable how fast $100 here, $200 there adds up.

My plan remains to go simple. I’ll have minimal electronics. Aside from the radio, speakers for the iPod, the various lights, and GPS I expect I’ll only use laptops and tablets. I need to work up an operating budget for electricity and build out the house bank of batteries and recharging mechanism based on that. No matter what, I expect to spend $40,000 or so on refits. That includes painting, haulouts, new sails, rigging, a windvane of some sort, emergency equipment, foul weather gear, and a Captain Ron DVD.

You know—the basics.

Dwight the Dancing Alien

I’m still waiting for the marine biologist to tell me just what the hell Dwight actually is.

[Update: Warren informs me that Dwight is a nudibranch. Thanks, Warren!]

Independence Day 2012

Like many Americans, I spent my day aboard my boat. This is less of a change for me than most people as I live on my boat, but White Raven definitely represents my hopes for freedom and pursuing happiness. To that end, I turned off the weather machine and let the sunshine and warm weather hit Puget Sound. You’re welcome.

Restoring the woodwork.

Freshly armed with sunshine and sandpaper, I started in on the remaining bits of wood that need love, sand, and stain. Also, that might make for a great band name.

Freshly sanded.

A fair amount of work later, I’d scraped off the layers of dead, gnarly wood and let the inner beauty shine through. There might be a Disney metaphor in there somewhere. We won’t dwell on it. Freshly sanded, I washed off the dust and let it dry in the sun for a few hours. Then, I attacked it with my trusty (new) brush. I have no idea where my trusty (old) brush went.

A thing of beauty and sealant.

Oh, and I had another alien visitor. He swore he came in peace.

Please don’t sic Will Smith on me.

After that, I ate some volcano nachos as the forefathers intended, then worked on my Write-a-thon project for Clarion West. Sounds reminiscent of my time in Iraq alerted me to the fact that the sun was down and it was time for the pyrotechnic portion of the day’s events. I don’t bother with fireworks. I’m saving up to sail across the world. I can appreciate other peoples’ explosive purty thingies.

Fireworks from the stern.

One heck of a day in anyone’s log book.

The Miracle Fish

So, I took the Old Man fishing yesterday. I didn’t take pictures because it rained the entire freaking morning. We caught a couple of trout, but mostly fed the fish worms. Anyway, sick of rebaiting my hook, I just fished with a hook. This drove the Old Man nuts, prompting him to rail at me about needing bait. He said, “There’s no way you’ll ever catch a fish without bait! No goddamned way!” Then God looked down as if to say “Oh, really?” and I promptly caught a perch.

A beam of light parted the clouds and illuminated me in a decidedly beatific fashion.

Then the Old Man screwed everything up and threw the Miracle Fish, who was undoubtedly sent to lead us to a new era of peace, kindness, and pizza, back into the lake.

He not only denied the miracle (Heretic!), he denied the very fish-nature of perch!

And that’s the true story of how the Old Man doomed the human race to another 2,000 years of conflict and reality TV. Sad.

Help Support Clarion West!

Summer is just around the corner (which in Washington means we’re still in winter), but good things are afoot. I finished revisions to my latest novel, Stormcaller, and am setting up work on the next book. Here’s the fun part—a good chunk of it will be written as part of the Clarion West Write-a-thon!

You do like reading, don’t you?

The Write-a-thon (WAT from here on out) raises funds to help the next generation of writers hone their craft under the tutelage of some truly great authors. In 2012, for example, CW will put students in front of such writers as George R. R. Martin (who wrote some books I’m sure no one’s ever heard of) and Chuck Palahniuk (and the first rule about his books is you don’t talk about his books).

I’m participating this year as one of the word monkeys, hoping to raise some awareness and coin for Clarion West. It’s a great cause, tax deductible (!!), and will help ensure your fiction needs are met in the future. Becoming a writer is one of the best things that ever happened to me, so I’m participating as a way of giving back.

If you’re inclined to donate, you can click here to get to my page. The PayPal link will handle the rest. If you’re interested in sponsoring multiple writers (and we have a bunch of great ones participating!), click here to donate to the fund, then contact Clarion West to let them know how the funds should be distributed. Give as little or as much as you want.

I’m proud to be a part of the WAT and hope you’ll support this worthy cause, even if it’s just wishing me luck! Stay tuned to my Twitter feed, or my Facebook and Google+ pages for regular updates during the WAT, or keep watching my blog. I’ll post there as well!

Thanks for reading this. I now return you to your regularly-scheduled web surfing.


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