On docks and deadlines

by Christine Kling

I woke up this morning in the V-berth and stretched and saw pale blue sky out the hatch. Nice, I thought. No rain. Then my mind started wandering as to what I would do on this fine day since my new pup Barney was having a sleep-over at my son’s (much as he wants a dog these days, my son recognizes the financial benefits to this rent-a-dog program), and I didn’t even have to get up to walk the dog. I’d be able to concentrate and really get some good work done on the new book without having to type with one hand while I use the other to play tug-o-war with an 11-pound Tasmanian Devil in the body of Yorkie puppy.

Then it hit me. Oh s*#t. It’s Friday morning, and I haven’t written my blog.

When I think of all I’ve been through in the last 12 months, all the miles I’ve sailed, and all the adventures I’ve had, and it’s back here at the dock that I completely blow this deadline – I decide that maybe that was it, maybe it was some kind of inner rebellion against this new path I’ve taken.

This blog represents a dream – “so you want to quit your job, move onto a boat and write.” That sounds like absolute freedom and it’s what draws so many of us to the cruising lifestyle. Yet here I am back at the dock, and yesterday I signed a document that brings with it more deadlines for years to come. Yesterday, I signed a three book contract with Thomas and Mercer, the Amazon mystery and thriller imprint and the same publisher who publishes my blogmate C.E. They are going to republish Circle of Bones, and when I told them that I intended to write two more books about Riley and Cole – to make it a trilogy – they elected to buy the rights to publish all three. I have already received the editing calendar for the month of August with exact deadlines as to when I will complete my part of the three rewrites we’re going to do to Bones, and I’ve signed a contract promising two more books within the next 24 months.

And I’m wondering when I’m going to find the time to go sailing again. Remember, it took me almost five years to write Circle of Bones.  But on the other hand, I didn’t have a deadline.

Though this morning I seem to have forgotten the blog and blown this deadline after a celebratory dinner with my son last night, generally, deadlines are a good thing for me. I get books written when I have deadlines. I do lollygag quite a bit when I don’t.

But this contract means much more than that to me. When I realized that Ballantine wouldn’t want to continue with my Seychelle series due to the fact that the books weren’t selling well enough, I went through a major crisis of confidence in myself and my ability to write. I have always believed in the theory that the cream will eventually rise to the top, and there I had my shot at the big time, and I had blown it. Not enough people bought my books and I didn’t light the lists on fire, so clearly I wasn’t a good enough writer. I beat myself up on a daily basis and couldn’t write at all for months. Eventually, I pushed on, and though I was working full-time as a college prof, I FINALLY finished the book.

Now, the whole reason why Thomas & Mercer contacted me was because Circle of Bones has been selling so well. That is how this imprint finds new writers among the self-published writers on Amazon. And the Seychelle books are selling well too, now that I have the rights back, and I am out there promoting them. Bones currently has over 75 reviews and most of them are positive. My career has taken this turn because of readers – the people who are most important in the world of a writer. I’m kind of relating to Sally Fields that year at the Academy Awards when, standing on the stage looking out into the lights with joy and wonder, she said –

So, I’m back into the world of docks and real deadlines, and I’ve got hard-wired high speed Internet in my slip. That’s sounding awfully permanent, and I’m wondering when I’ll be able to go sailing again. While I may have rebelled a bit this morning and missed my blog deadline, I’m thrilled to be a Thomas and Mercer author, and to have this opportunity to use Amazon’s amazing marketing muscle to reach even more readers.

Looking around me, I see the main salon of the boat is now covered with papers and books and notes on the new book. I’m no longer in seagoing shape. It would take a while to stow this stuff and turn this boat back into a sailor.

But I haven’t put away my charts yet.

Fair winds!

Christine

 

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About Christine Kling

I have spent more than thirty years living on and around boats and cruising the waters of the North and South Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Caribbean. I’ve written articles and stories for many boating publications including Sailing, Cruising World, Motor Boating & Sailing, and The Tiller and the Pen. When I was married, I helped my husband build a 55-foot custom sailing yacht. After launching her, we sailed through the Panama Canal to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands where we chartered for over two years. While in the islands, I received my 100-ton Auxiliary Sail Captains license. It was that sailing experience that led me to set my first nautical suspense novel, SURFACE TENSION (2002), on the waterfront in Fort Lauderdale. Featuring Florida female tug and salvage captain, Seychelle Sullivan, the first book was followed by CROSS CURRENT (2004) and BITTER END (2005). The fourth book in the series, WRECKERS’ KEY was released in February 2007. At the end of the 2010-11 academic year, I took the motto of this blog to heart. I quit my day job as an English professor at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale (just when they offered me tenure, I said no thanks and took early retirement). I was living the dream of full-time cruising on board my 33-foot Caliber Talespinner on my very tiny pension and whatever I made from my books having parted ways with the big publishing establishment. I self-published two books on my own: a small collection of four short stories entitled SEA BITCH: Four Tales of Nautical Noir and my first stand-alone sailing thriller set in the Caribbean, CIRCLE OF BONES. In 2012 I was offered a publishing deal with Amazon's mystery/thriller imprint Thomas&Mercer and they reissued CIRCLE OF BONES. The sequel to that book, DRAGON'S TRIANGLE came out in June 2014. And as for me, I'm no longer a singlehander on my little boat. I met Wayne Hodgins in 2013 and after a whirlwind Skype courtship, I flew to meet him in Fiji and we sailed a nearly 2000 mile passage to the Marshall Islands for our "first date." We now sail together aboard LEARNATIVITY, a 52-foot motor sailor with our family including Barney, the Yorkshire Terror and Ruby, the Wonder Dog.
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6 Responses to On docks and deadlines

  1. Christine, let me be the first to officially congratulate you. You worked hard to reach this point, and you earned this and everything to come. Ah, I know those editing calendars well, and the challenge of juggling editing one book as you’re working away at writing the next. The months ahead will be hectic, but invigorating. Enjoy every moment of it — it’s one hell of a fun ride! With Circle of Bones and the Seychelle books, you’re going to do fantastic.

  2. Fantastic news, for both you and your readers! It’s made my day to know there will be new Cole and Riley books in the pipeline.

  3. John Urban says:

    Congratulations, Christine. That is fantastic news!
    John

  4. Barbara says:

    Congratulations! Write like an author possessed for a month, sail for a week or two, repeat until desired length. All writing and no sailing makes a very uninspired author.

  5. Thanks to everyone for the comments here. I’ve been off the boat and away from the computer all day, but it lovely to return and find you’ve chimed in.
    C.E. – I like your word “invigorating.” You are so right. I welcome the challenge of this and I hope I can measure up.
    Victoria – Thanks so much. Like me, you are both a writer and reader and you also know how much we wish we could write faster.
    John – Thanks for the congrats. I’m still in the “pinch myself” mode here.
    Barbara – Oooo – how I like your recipe for success.
    CK

  6. Joe Jacobs says:

    This is all GREAT news. Ballantine doesn’t know what the gave up. Yes, there a a lot of “good” writers out there, but the “exceptional” ones, like yourself, are to be savored as one sits on the edge of their chair, waiting for the next course. “…Bon Apettit…”

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