Looking toward the horizon

Christmas morning at sea?

My XOJane It Happened to Me article (yes, the one that started it all) is now in “syndication,” being now hosted on the excellent travel site Matador Network. At 7K views, I was informed it got more play than almost any other personal essay they printed. I was surprised and delighted, but it’s not surprising, I guess. Exotic tropical locales and hot sailor sex–what more can you ask for?

The editor there as invited me to keep contributing to the site, and my first article, 16 things only tall ship sailors understand, is also live, complete with bizarre lollipop cover art (see above).

Finally, my editor at Cleis/Viva has gotten back in touch, letting me know that someone in the universe besides me–in this case, her assistant–has read my manuscript and is preparing notes on it.

Believe me, after what I’ve been through with my publisher (and I’m not blaming anybody, there’s just been a lot of upheaval), this is progress.

As a writer, it seems sometimes that all I do is relive the past but I’m trying the best I can to look toward my next adventure. Ideally, I’d like to find a way to make it a permanent one. I’m entranced by the growing popularity of the digital nomad lifestyle and working from anywhere. Of course, sailing is still my preferred way to travel, and a stable wi-fi connection is generally inconsistent with being at the mercy of the wind and waves. But hey, if anybody can find a way, it’s a pirate princess, right?

My income is also not such that I can afford to spend two months at sea out of touch with the working world, as glorious and refreshing as that was. What this all means is, if anybody knows a boat with a room for a mermaid-in-residence and regular access to wi-fi, please tell them to get in touch.

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It happened to me (oh boy, did it!)

Mermaid returns to sea.

My adventure to the Netherlands (with stopovers in Iceland and Belgium) is in the record books, and I’m preparing a longer blog post about what I found in The Hague, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and beyond. Word gets around remarkably fast in a tiny country, so I met up with no less than 5 former shipmates (3 more than I expected)! At last, I could drink too much, surround myself with people who “get it,” and shamelessly try to recapture the time in my life when I was most happy, and most at peace, while simultaneously feeling like my world might fall apart any moment.

I know, it doesn’t make any sense to me, either.

Anyway, upon my arrival home, I found that the article I wrote for XOJane’s It Happened to Me section, based on some incidents from my book, is now live, so I invite you to check it out. Consider it a sexy little taste of the sexiest parts of my book–eet smakelijk, as they say in Holland.

Mostly depressing book update–enjoy!

So I signed a contract to publish my book. It’s a memoir, and it’s going to be called “Princess of Pirates: Or, How I Ran Away to Sea.” If you read this blog regularly, you know that. If you didn’t, you do now. If you remember the post from a year ago announcing the book, you may even be wondering, “What is the freakin’ holdup with that damn book?!”

My editor, Brenda Knight, resigned today, citing, I think, “irreconcilable differences” with the new management. Start Publishing, which bought my publisher, Cleis Press/Viva Editions, a few months ago, is taking over, and will more than likely have to begin the process of hiring another editor. Heaven only knows how long that will take, and there was already a backlog of several manuscripts waiting to be edited when Brenda resigned, mine among them.

Obviously I want them to take their time and find as good an editor as possible. I’m a part-­time editor myself, and I know a good editor can take a so-­so manuscript and make it so good you want to cram it down your throat. (See, a good editor would have made me change that line.)

But even prior to Brenda’s leaving, there was a huge publication delay as they worked through the sale, and that is pretty much why I stopped blogging temporarily. My wonderful agent Anna, whom I love in a way beyond all human comprehension, recommended I blog anyway. She said I can build excitement about the book’s release. So here I am. Meanwhile, Anna’s taken care of everything for me, from frantic emails to calling my (now former) editor to repeatedly stroking my pathetic and yet nevertheless strangely stroke-­receptive ego.

When I left New York, I was broke and despondent and pretty much felt like a failure. My only consolation was that moving back in with my parents would allow me to save the money I needed to take this epic sailing voyage and write a book about it­­money I never would have been able to save while living in New York. That part actually went off without much of hitch (except when I missed my flight home from the Azores, but that’s a blog post for another day).

You know what happens next. I made the proposal, went to sea, came back, and wrote the book. My agent and my editor couldn’t have been more enthusiastic. I figured everything else would fall into place if I could just get that one book under my belt. So I waited. One month turned into two, then three, then six, then nine. My editor still hadn’t read the book, and now it looks like she never will. I’m still underemployed. I always figured I could look for a “real job” after the book came out, and that having a book might give me a leg up in doing so.

But now, here I am, still no book, still no release date, and still stuck in the unenviable position of still having to figure out the entire rest of my life­­where I’m going to live, what I’m going to do, how to stave off the inevitable day when parents have to heave me and all my meager belongings out the door. (Hint: win a lawnmower in a Shop Your Way sweepstakes and give it to them. It’s the best idea I’ve come up with yet). And now-­­bonus!­­-not even the reassurance of an editor to tell me this all-­important step will ever take place.

I always knew a published book would be the first step toward catapulting me into that mythical upper echelon of writers, the ones that seem able to make a living while still having time to travel the world. I don’t know precisely how that upper echelon works; or whether anything I’ve done or will do will be enough to put me in it. I don’t need to sell 200 million copies. I really don’t.

I just want to be able to make a living doing what I do best. I know there are many variations of that, and I’m willing to consider all of them. I’m not afraid of hard work, or more work, or having to have patience.

Still, having a book would help. At least it would make me legitimate in the eyes of most people who counted. I thought it would help me not feel like a fraud when I tell people I wrote a book. (“Oh, cool! When is it coming out?” “I, uh, don’t know.” *Slinks off*)

And then today, the person I was counting on to help usher me through those gates is no longer in the ushering business. (Now she’s working with Blink-­182. But I guess they need her more than I do, right?)

So where does that leave us? Essentially, at the exact same place I was when I posted more than year ago. I guess the only difference is that the book, this time, is written.

(In case anyone was wondering, yes, I am working on another book. A novel this time. I haven’t had a lot of time to work on it lately, but I hope to finish it before the end of the year. So I got that going for me, I guess?)

So, anyway, good news, everybody! Get excited! My book will be out…sometime. Probably. And after that, maybe my life can begin.

(Also, in other news, Princess of Pirates has a Twitter account! And it’s totally different from my regular Twitter account! You’ll have to check it out to see exactly what I mean.)

Buy this book (no, not mine)!

Even at sea, there’s no escape from cops behaving badly, I guess.

Packed with photos from the Oosterschelde’s 18-month voyage from the Netherlands to New Zealand and back again, this book in cooperation with Elastik.Concepts will be published in June 2014. (And yes, I promise to try to photobomb as much as possible, so maybe I’ll be in it!)

Order now and pay € 17,50 (excluding shipping costs) instead of € 22,50. Send an e-mail with subject ‘pre-order book’ to info@oosterschelde.nl with your name, address and telephone number.

Announcement! Princess of Pirates is about to be more than just a state of mind

Actual trip may differ from photo.

Actual trip may differ from photo.

For the past few months, this blog has been in stealth mode. I’ve been hiding in the trees like some kind of fairy-tale witch, tossing out candy to see if anyone will take the bait. But now that the advance check is in the bank it’s official, it’s time to reveal why I decided to start it–and it isn’t, as you might have guessed, just a sudden, unexplained obsession with eyepatches.

My first book, the memoir Princess of Pirates: Or, How I Ran Away to Sea is a go! It’s due out in 2015 from Cleis Press, with a hearty salute to my intrepid agent Anna Olswanger of Liza Dawson Associates. As a result, come February, I’ll be heading back to sea for the first time since 2006, as a guest crew member on the Dutch schooner Oosterschelde. And you’re all invited along for the trip!

In the coming months, I’ll be dishing up as many typhoons, swashbuckling duels, and wind-blown love affairs that I can cram into digestible 300-word chunks, as well as more pedestrian fare like…um, finishing my manuscript. All in real time (for the polished stuff, of course, you gotta buy the book!) As always, since this is the 21st century and not (sadly) the Golden Age of Sail, I’ll be cross-pollinating on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Some of you may get handwritten letters stuffed into glass bottles, too–but I can’t guarantee timely delivery.

See you at sea!