Stranded Naked Blues-Available for Pre-Order.

By Mike Jastrzebski

Stranded Naked Blues is now available for pre-order at Amazon, Barnes & Noble,           The Apple Store, and Kobo for $3.99. The actual publication and deliver date is June 14th, but if you are thinking of buying the book why not pre-order now. That way you can be one of the first to read it.

Here’s the cover picture and the description:

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A Wes Darling Sailing Mystery/Thriller

Wes Darling is back in Stranded Naked Blues, the third Wes Darling Sailing Mystery/Thriller. Wes is searching for fun and possibly a little companionship when he joins hundreds of other boaters at the annual Stranded Naked Cheeseburger Beach Party on Fiddle Cay in the Bahamas. It’s all about good conversation, free food, and free drinks. The last thing Wes expects is to be drugged and to have his boat torn apart while he’s out cold.

Wes’s search for answers to why he was singled out by the beautiful woman in a skimpy bikini forces him to turn to his friend, Elvis, the phobic psychic. Wes figures good psychics are almost impossible to find, but Elvis steers Wes toward the answers. If only Elvis could have foreseen the trail of dangerous women, dead bodies, and buried treasure that would leave Wes stranded alone on a deserted island during a hurricane. When Wes realizes that not only might he lose his boat, but also his life, he sets out to find shelter with only one thought in mind, survival.

A hard boiled sailing thriller set amongst the islands and teal blue waters of the Bahamas.

To order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, or Kobo.

.

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The End . . . is often a beginning

The end

by Christine Kling

In certain circumstances, those can be the two most beautiful words in the English language: THE END. I got to type those words this week just before I emailed off the 130,600 word manuscript of Knight’s Cross to my editors. I can’t tell you how great it felt to push SEND.

These past three weeks since we returned to Majuro have been a hard slog of heading to the forepeak office desk after breakfast and staying there until dark. I only got off the boat about 3 times in 3 weeks – a couple of times to walk the dogs on the beach and once to go out to dinner. Wayne did all the shopping and laundry and cooked all the meals. I literally felt the muscles in my legs atrophying and often woke up in the night with aching legs. I have chronic pain in my shoulders and neck from osteoarthritis, but after this last grueling marathon, it felt like it was on fire at the end of each day when I staggered back to the transom and dove into the water in the dark to try to get a little exercise and to cool off.

But in reality, ever since we returned to the boat in August, I’ve been in this drafting mode.

I am not a fast writer. In the beginning of a book, it’s always the most difficult because I don’t know my characters or my story yet. I can’t see the settings very easily and I become this machine Hoovering up knowledge so that I can fill in the blanks on the screen in my mind. By the end of the book, I know what’s going to happen and I know these folks so well, I can write faster. But as difficult as it is to get into my story in the beginning, it’s just as difficult to come back out at the end. Especially when I start the final editing and reading through. I mean I might have physically been in Majuro these past two weeks, but in my mind I was in Turkey. Wayne would ask me a question and I’d look up blinking like I’d just been awakened. I think he might have been wondering if his new wife had early onset dementia.

One of my friends on another boat here asked me if it was worth it writing to a deadline or wouldn’t I prefer to just self-publish and be my own boss and not work so hard? I’m not sure she was even asking the question she really wanted the answer to. It’s like the title of this blog that gets to that dream you have when you’re working at a 9-5 job and wishing you could just be out sailing and writing stories. The thing is, no matter how you publish, writing is hard work that takes a toll on your brain and your body, and if you don’t have any deadlines at all, you’ll never finish what you start. But would I rather be writing on a boat in the South Pacific instead of doing it between 4:00 and 6:00 a.m. before going to my day job as I did with the Seychelle books? You betcha!

I answered my friend that I think I have the best of both worlds. I absolutely love Thomas & Mercer as my publishers. They have done some wonderful promotions for my books, and I’m thrilled that they want to “strike while the iron is hot” and get the next book in the series out. I want that, too. But I do also love doing things my way. So, the next book I want to write will be number five in the Seychelle series and I will self-publish it. I had wanted to write that book a year and a half ago when I finished Dragon’s Triangle, but instead I flew off to Fiji and met this guy……..best decision I ever made. But now the time is here for a new Seychelle. I’m really looking forward to spending time with her again.

But I only have a draft of Knight’s Cross. I’m not finished yet.

Now, however, I do have a month before my editors will get the manuscript back to me, and we will start the editing. It so happens that this works perfectly with our plans.  The end of the drafting mode signals the beginning of sailing mode as we are preparing to sail back down to Fiji. But the boat hasn’t made a passage since January of 2014, so there is lots of work to get done. We’d been in town to check the mail and to make sure I had good Internet to ship the manuscript off. Wayne has been making great headway at working through his very long TO DO list, as well as checking around seeing if he can find anyone who will sell us 400 gallons of diesel,  We might be able to go onto the commercial dock, but word is that the fuel is pretty dirty there and has lots of water in it. Fortunately, Wayne has a fuel polishing system built into LEARNATIVITY. I got to go shopping for the first time in months, and I’m starting to do an inventory for provisioning.

hookahYesterday, we decided to come back out to Eneko for the weekend to clean the bottom.  Wayne broke out our 12-volt compressor that runs two long hoses out to scuba regulators. It’s like a double hookah rig. By the time we got started, it was already late afternoon, so I just worked on the filthy black scum at the waterline, while Wayne worked on the bottom. It had been eight months of sitting in a warm lagoon since we’d last cleaned the bottom, so it was its very own eco-system. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter a couple of hours we were both exhausted, but it felt to good to be getting exercise and doing something besides sitting in a chair in front of the computer. And after that I got to cook dinner. I never thought I would see myself write that, but I miss cooking when I don’t do it.

So, as I wrote THE END on one phase of my life, I am busy shifting gears and getting us and the boat into shape to make the long passage down to Fiji. I unboxed the Iridium Go yesterday and set up an account, and I’ll be posting a blog about that next week. Unfortunately, I need the Internet to post this blog this weekend, and out here at Eneko at the moment we’ve got squat. When we get to town, I’m determined to learn how to post blogs to WordPress via email.

We’ll soon be sailing again! I can’t wait.

Fair winds!

Christine

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Lost time…

Screenshot 2015-04-23 09.06.56

C.E. Grundler

I have a book to get finished and a boat to get afloat. And dogs who want a walk, and occasionally remind me to step away from the keyboard for some fresh air. Thanks to not-so-modern but exceedingly obscure medicine, I finally have the focus and energy I need, but I also have a lot of lost time to make up for. And that’s why I don’t have a whole lot to post this week; I’ve spent the majority of my time completely immersed in my writing, and I want to be sure I reach a certain point before the weekend, when my attention switches back to the boat.

So you’ll all forgive me; at the moment I don’t have much of anything interesting to say, but I do have hours of editing ahead, Annabel Lee awaits, and I really want to get back to work.

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Are we THERE yet???

C.E. Grundler

It’s been said countless times; writing is, at its core, a very solitary activity, and one of the most effective tools for getting a book complete is the simple equation of time spent with rear-end firmly planted on a solid surface and fingers on keyboard.  That’s a great thing when, as a writer, you find your activities curtailed. Just keep typing.

BUT that only gets you so far.  Stories don’t happen in a vacuum. They have settings, and while we writers may have fantastic imaginations, there’s only so far that, along with visits to Google Earth, can take you. Sometimes writing actually involves setting foot in actual locations. But that isn’t always an option, and even if it is, every time you step away from the keyboard, that’s writing time lost. What’s a writer to do?

Take the Mad Libs approach. Just throw in a place-holder. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m partial to these brackets: << >>. They’re easy to type, easy to spot, or round up with a search, and work for anything from <<location>> to <<emphasize distrust>> or anything else I’m not clear on or happy with. These <<useful>> brackets are invaluable for letting me maintain writing momentum. And in the process, I’ve discovered other benefits to this approach.

As I wrote, I wasn’t able to travel to the places I’d chosen. Frustrating, yes, but then again, I’m not sure how many visits Tolkien paid to Middle Earth, so I didn’t let it stop me. I simply threw in yet another <<TBD>> and just kept typing. The story evolved, developed, grew. Chapters were cut, others emerged in their place. Characters and settings from the first draft stepped out of the picture, while others became critical to the story. If a location changed, it was no big deal. It’s easier to edit these <<TBD>> into the story then change what’s already been determined on the page. And I realize now that had I been able to drop everything, jump in the car and head down the shore, (yeah, that is how we say it around here in Jersey,) 3/4 of those destinations would have never made the final cut. Much of the geography I’d planned to include didn’t work anymore, didn’t need to be there. And in the end, those placeholders saved me the time and expense of travelling to research ultimately un-used locations, time spent writing pages that would ultimately be cut, and let me instead focus on the big picture.

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Spring at Last

by John M. Urban

End of winter

Winter’s end on our front lawn – the last of the season’s snow hung on all the way to Opening Day at Fenway Park.

It’s amusing, and predictable, to learn of babies born nine months following a major regional power outage. Given this logic, obstetricians may want to ready their schedules following the recent break of Spring that followed the longest winter in memory. December thru March, everyone in the northern half of the country was busy shoveling snow, raking roofs, and buying ice melt. Finally, though, we have time to relax and enjoy.

All that winter hardship is now in the past and it’s time to enjoy life fully, smell the roses and get the outdoor grille going. Yes, the sun is out, the days are long, and warmer temps are upon us. It hit 70-degrees in Boston this past weekend, the trees are blossoming in DC, and the mid-west is similarly breaking from the cold.

And as far as the obstetricians? Get out the calendars and do some math, I think we may be looking at an all-time record for January babies come 2016.

There are other important activities ahead, as well. Writing stories would be one form, readying a boat for the season another. With my days now spent at Mystic Seaport, I am seeing a lot of the latter. I hope the below photos add joy to your sense that the spring season is now upon us.

florence
(Western-style Dragger Florence)

Banks Dory
(Grand Banks Dory alongside the LA Dunton)

Amistad
(The Amistad, which was was built at Mystic Seaport and then featured in the Steven Spielberg movie of the same name)

Small Boats
(Some small boats prepped for the season)

Youth Sailing
(Youth sailing dinghies at the ready)

Spars
(Tall ship spars of the Joseph Conrad and Charles W. Morgan in the distance)

Yes, there is much work to be done. Canvas covers are coming off, paint and varnish are being applied, and sails and spars are being rigged. Come to think of it, with all this time spent readying boats, maybe the obstetricians won’t need to worry.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

In any case, Happy Spring 2015!

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Free book offer

By Mike Jastrzebski

It’s not all about the writing. Right now I’m spending more time getting ready to publish Stranded Naked Blues than I am actually writing. For instance, in the past three years I haven’t done much to generate a mailing list so I’ve spent the last two weeks redoing my web site and setting up a mailing list signup form. I’m offering a free copy of my psychological thriller, Mind Demons,  to anyone who signs up to my Readers’ List. Just go to my web site to sign up and get your free book. Here’s the link: www.mikejastrzebski.com.

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Nautical language

Painting from the Malta Maritime Museum

Painting from the Malta Maritime Museum

by Christine Kling

I am on a research rant today. I have a love/hate relationship with the historical aspect of this series I’m writing. The photos I took while we were in Malta and Turkey have been a huge help with this book — like when I write scenes that take place in 1798 on the very dock pictured above, I just look at that painting and it help my imagination create that world for my characters.

It’s always been important to me to get the language right in the books I write, especially the nautical language. I hate it when I read sailing books and the authors prove how little they know about boats. But now, I am writing more historical chapters in my novels, and it’s very difficult to figure out what they called these things back in the 18th century on boats that are far different than anything I’ve ever sailed on.

So, with this blog post I’m am seeking help from the collective wisdom of our sailor readers. I’m asking for help with my research on the new book. You see, while I know pretty well what to call the parts of the boats I’ve sailed on, I’ve never sailed on a xebec like those picture above or the one shown in this photo of a model in the Malta Maritime Museum.

Xebec

I know enough to say that it is a lateen rig, but would you call the spars on the sails yards or booms or some other word entirely? And this model above shows a tiller on this vessel. Really? I thought they had wheels on most boats in the 1700’s. Here is a close-up of the aft deck.

aft deck

Imagine the strength it would take to move that tiller in rough seas! I want to put a wheel on my boat, so that a young woman can steer it. Generally, wheels used blocks to give a mechanical advantage. I’ve steered smaller boats both with a tiller and a wheel and I know how difficult it is to stand even a two-hour watch while steering a boat in heavy seas with a tiller. I haven’t been able to find a photo of a xebec on the web that has a clear enough picture of the after deck to know if any of them had wheels.

And what did they call that aft deck there? Was it the quarterdeck or the poop deck?

The deeper I get into this historical tale, the more I ask myself, why do I have to make it so hard on myself. Will anyone really notice if I get it wrong a few times? The problem is — I will.

So, help me if you can. If you can let me know if they used a wheel on these vessels or what you called all the parts of the rigging, post it in the comments, please. Until then, I’m back to work on this draft.

Fair winds!

Christine

 

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Good News Everyone!

tumblr_n90ob2H8ZQ1tgncqpo1_1280

C.E. Grundler

I’m going to keep this short, because there’s way too much to explain. I’ll throw in some links for anyone curious and adventurous, or maybe looking for a unique and obscure way to torture or kill a character.

You all may have noticed a reoccuring theme creeping into my posts over the last year: ‘undefined medical issues.’ Undefined because no one really knew what was wrong, but for years the random syncope (the medical term for your brain hitting the ‘and now you’re unconscious’ switch) was manageable. Not so much anymore, to the point that work on the boat ground to a complete halt, and it was taking a toll on my writing, which is why my third book progressed so slowly. And then it got really bad, but let’s just say it wasn’t pleasant, and skip that part.

The good news is one doctor finally connected the dots, and here’s where we ended up. I have an autonomic dysfunction (aka: Dysautonomia) brought on by what appears to be adrenal insufficiency, (Click the links for all the fun details — they’re fascinating.) and my body wasn’t properly retaining sodium. Bodies need salt to function. Without enough salt, dehydration follows. Everything from the brain on down starts shutting down, and that isn’t pretty. There’ll be more testing in the coming weeks to figure out what underlying condition is causing this, but now we’re getting somewhere, including a treatment.

Fludrocortisone. One unassuming little white pill, but with it, my body can process sodium. Blood pressure is up to a nice normal level, stable, and for the first time in longer than I can recall fresh blood is reaching the top floors. The dizziness, the fatigue, the brain-fog — they’re all gone. It’s like being on No-Doz to the tenth power, less any caffiene-jitters. I’m up and writing at five in the morning, because I wake rested and full of energy. I’m writing till all hours of the night, stopping not because I’m tired but because I’m not going to let myself burn the candle at both ends. But I feel as though I’ve got my life back. And this weekend, work on the boat resumes, at long last. And oh is it great to have my brain cells back!

And for all you Futurama fans, I leave you with a little Hypnotoad.

images-3

ALL HAIL HYPNOTOAD

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Wrapping it up.

By Mike Jastrzebski

I’m trying to wrap up my final edit of Stranded Naked Blues and I’m having a little problem with something that doesn’t affect most writers. You see, it’s cloudy today and the solar panels just don’t keep up with the electrical output when the sun is hiding. This means that I have to run the generator for at least 3 hours so that the batteries will charge enough to fill our energy needs for the day.

It’s a small generator, a Honda 2000, and it’s relatively quiet, but it’s still there. I have it mounted on top of the cabin and even with headphones on and my favorite oldies playing on my iPod the generator is distracting. You see, it’s not just the noise, it’s the vibration. The door to my wood heater rattles, the tea kettle on top of the stove rattles, in fact just about anyplace where two metallic items touch rattles, and let’s not talk about the vibration that seems to run up my body to my head.

I guess what I’m trying to get at, is that those of you who wish you could trade places and live on the hook should think about what you’re asking for. This isn’t a bad thing, but remember that there are always trade offs.

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Home again

Home again!

Home again!

by Christine Kling

We made it back to Majuro after very long layovers in San Francisco and Hawaii. We left Ontario, California at noon on Sunday and arrived here around noon on Tuesday.

Atoll

Not fair! We lost a day by crossing the International Dateline.

Then I remembered that for my deadline of April 15th, I get it back. I don’t have to deliver until the 16th.

I love flying in over the atoll. You can really see the way these islands are like a necklace of small islands atop a coral reef. The white waves are on the ocean side and few shallows are on the lagoon side. Most of the lagoon is over 100 feet deep. That’s why we are usually on a mooring here. Some of the gossip upon our return was of two different boats having moorings break. Scary stuff when you leave your boat unattended on a mooring. But all was well with LEARNATIVITY. Now Wayne is hard at work doing the dozens of little jobs that we must do to get the boat ready for a passage after over a year of sitting here in Majuro. If all goes according to plan, we hope to be en route to Fiji by May.

The deadline has me working like crazy — so much in fact that I was up at midnight last night, so I got to enjoy the full eclipse of the moon.

But also so much that this blog and next week’s will be super short. If only writing were as easy as typing. There’s still so much that I’ve yet to figure out about this story. But I am jamming.

Wish me luck!

Fair winds!

Christine

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