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19 February 2018

The Call Of The Luddites Beckons, Or Technology Sucks

Sometimes, technology sucks. A couple of nights ago, a loud beeping noise interrupted my sleep. Here’s what ran through my head:

“Am I about to die from carbon monoxide poisoning?”

“Has the Dalek invasion started?”

“Is a garbage truck backing up into my boat?”

Turns out it was none of these things. My computer was just suffering a catastrophic failure. Which, I guess is *marginally* better than an invasion by the Daleks.

I think the fan is broken, causing it to overheat. I’ve ordered a new one, but it won’t be here until later this week. Hopefully, that solves the problem.

Then my cell phone became infected with some sort of bug. I thought I had that sorted, but it happened again. I’ve tried something else. Fingers crossed it works, otherwise I’ll have to reset the thing back to factory settings.

All of this had made me realize two things:

1 - I’m way too dependent on my computer. 

I was on fire working on >>Bodies in the Boatyard<< (the second book in my Mollie McGhie sailing mystery series), but without a computer, I’ve come to a standstill.

2 - The Luddites may be onto something. 

Technology isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe I should just write the old-fashioned way, using pen and paper?

By the way, I’m typing this on an old iPad my mom gave me. It’s a real pain, so if I’m slow to respond to comments or visit your blog, that’s why.

Have you ever had technology problems? Ever been tempted to become a Luddite?




17 February 2018

Saturday Spotlight | Around The World In 80 Books, Update #15

In addition to the usual blog posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday about our travel adventures and day-to-day life living aboard a sailboat, I also occasionally post on Saturdays, focusing on things related to writing such as cover reveals, book launches, reviews, interviews with authors etc. So if you're a bit of a book nerd like I am, check in on Saturdays - you never know what might pop up.
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Remember when I started that "Around the World in 80 Books" challenge? The one I was so gung-ho about, but then never finished. Yeah, I had completely forgotten about it too until my mother reminded me about it. So, while we're land-locked and working on boat projects, I thought this would be a good time to start ticking more countries off of the list.

The idea of the challenge is to read books set in 80 different countries, effectively exploring the world from the comfort of your armchair. Since my last update, I've read books set in five more countries – Cambodia, Hungary, Italy, Singapore, and South Africa.

That makes a total of 75 books since I started the challenge - only 5 more to go!

You can read more about the challenge here, as well as check out Update #1, Update #2, Update #3, Update #4, Update #5, Update #6, Update #7, Update #8, Update #9, Update #10, Update #11, Update #12, Update #13, and Update #14.

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GRAVE SECRETS by Kathy Reichs | Guatemala

Grave Secrets is part of the Dr. Temperance Brennan series, which you may know better as the inspiration for the TV show, Bones. In this book, Dr. Brennan is working in Guatemala as part of a team of forensic anthropologists investigating the "disappearance" of villagers (women and children) in the 1970s who were brutally raped and murdered by members of the army. While in Guatemala, she is asked to assist in the investigation of the disappearance of four young women in recent months and see if the remains found in a septic tank are related.

I enjoyed Grave Secrets because of its focus on forensic anthropology (I studied cultural and linguistic anthropology), as well as its focus on contemporary Guatemalan culture and the dark period in Guatemalan history when countless Mayans were slaughtered.

"People filled the lobby, wandering, praying, drinking soda, slumping or fidgeting on wooden benches. Some wore housedresses, others suits or jeans. Most were dressed in Solola Mayan. Women swathed in striped red cloth, with burrito-wrapped babies on their bellies or backs. Men in woolen aprons, gaucho hats, and wildly embroidered trousers and shirts. Now and then a hospital worker in crisp white cut through the kaleidoscope assemblage."

You can find out more about Grave Secrets on Goodreads and get your own copy on Amazon


THE LAST FRIEND by Tahar ben Jelloun | Morocco

As I got down to the final ten books for this challenge, I was struggling to find books to tick off the remaining countries on my list, so I was delighted when I discovered the English translation of The Last Friend. The author is a well-known Moroccan writer who has been short-listed for the Nobel Prize in Literature. The Last Friend is about the changing nature of friendship between Ali and Mamet over the course of thirty years, which ultimately leads to betrayal. The story is told from the perspective of both Ali and Mamet, as well as from that of one of their friends. The plot twists and turns had me engrossed right to the end. 

"A city of seduction, Tangier lashes you to its eucalyptus trees with the old ropes left by sailors at the port; it pursues you as if to persecute you; it obsesses you like an unrequited love. We talked and talked about Tangier. We knew that without our city, our lives would be meaningless."

You can find out more about The Last Friend on Goodreads and get your own copy on Amazon.


THE WARSAW DOCUMENT by Adam Hall | Poland

The Warsaw Document is a spy thriller set during the Cold War. Quiller, a British Intelligence operative, is sent to Warsaw to "save detente" while anti-Soviet sentiments are smoldering. Although, I'm not a huge fan of this genre, The Warsaw Document was a good read which held my attention. I particularly liked how the author captured what the feel and mood of Warsaw might have been like at the time, and the impact that the Soviet presence had on the Polish people.

"I'd already learned how difficult it was to judge people from their behavior or even their expression: in this city the winter was not only in the streets and they were living on their nerves, the fierce vitality they'd put into their music and their wars now thrust inwards on themselves; and it was worse because the surface of their daily lives seemed still intact: they could sit here and order coffee and complain if it didn't come, and dance at the Cristal-Budapest and walk with their children in the park on Sundays. All they couldn't do was call their country their own and for these people their country was their soul."

You can find out more about The Warsaw Document on Goodreads and get your own copy on Amazon.  


AN ORDINARY MAN: THE TRUE STORY BEHIND HOTEL RWANDA by Paul Rusesabagina | Rwanda

I used to work with a woman who was in Rwanda during the time of the 1994 Rwandan genocide when 800,000 people (mostly Tutsi) were killed in the space of 100 days by the Hutus. I had seen the news coverage at the time of the Tutsi-Hutu conflict, but listening to her stories was horrifying and made everything seem so much more real. I hesitated about whether or not I wanted to read more about the atrocities that were committed, but in the end decided to go ahead and read An Ordinary Man as part of this challenge.

This is an autobiographical account by Paul Ruseabagina, the general manager of the Hotel Milles Collines, who sheltered 1,268 people on site. This book was the basis for the film, Hotel Rwanda. Ruseabagina describes how he fostered relationships with Hutu leaders in order to protect the people in his care. It was an eye-opening account and interesting insight into how such a thing could happen in Rwanda. In this passage, he tries to explain how the Tutsi came to be characterized as the enemy over time:

"The other thing you have to understand was that the message crept into our national consciousness very slowly. It did not happen all at once. We did not wake up one morning to hear it pouring out of the radio at full strength. It started with a sneering comment, the casual use of the term 'cockroach,' the almost humorous suggestion that Tutsis should be airmailed back to Ethiopia. Stripping the humanity from an entire group takes time."

You can find out more about An Ordinary Man on Goodreads and get your own copy on Amazon.


I AM NUJOOD, AGE TEN AND DIVORCED  by Nujood Ali | Yemen

Many of you may remember Nujood Ali's role in highlighting the practice of forced marriage of underage girls in Yemen. When she was nine years old, Nujood's parents arranged for her to marry a man in his thirties. She was regularly raped and beaten by her husband, but somehow found the courage to go to the court and ask for a divorce. In this memoir, Nujood shares details of her childhood before she was married off, what she endured while married, and the process of obtaining a divorce at ten years of age.

She was fortunate to have come to the attention of judges who advocated for her, and in being represented by Shada Nasser, a female lawyer. Nujood describes meeting the judges in this passage and how extraordinary her actions were:

"They both explain to me that in Yemen girls are frequently married off quite young, before the legal age of fifteen. An ancient tradition, adds Judge Abdo. But to his knowledge, none of these precocious marriages has ever ended in divorce - because no little girl has, until now, showed up at a courthouse. A question of family honor, it seems. My situation is most exceptional, and complicated."

You can find out more about I am Nujood on Goodreads and get your own copy on Amazon.

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If you're participating in the challenge too (or any other reading challenge), I'd love to hear what you've been reading. Even if you're not doing the challenge, let us know what books you've been enjoying lately.

COUNTRIES READ TO DATE: Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, the Bahamas, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, China, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Djibouti, England, Estonia, Ethiopia, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, New Zealand, Nigeria, North Korea, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Kiribati, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, United States, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Wales, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.

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16 February 2018

Spamageddon | Canned Meat Cook-Off At Indiantown Marina

Canned meat is a staple for cruisers, at least for those of us who are carnivores. So, when one of my marina friends suggested that we have a canned meat cook-off, I was excited. A risk-free way to sample canned meats that, frankly, I'm a little scared of buying (like Spam), and get recipe ideas? Yes, please, count me in!

We only had one rule - you had to make a dish with a canned meat. Fresh ingredients, other canned ingredients were allowed. Easy-peasy.

The event quickly became known as >>Spamageddon<< and the gauntlet was thrown down. Would anyone dare to make a recipe with Spam? Would any of us dare to eat it?

The event was a huge success - so much fun and such interesting and delectable dishes. I only wish I had pictures of all of the entries. But, here are a few to whet your appetite. Who knows maybe Spam is what's for dinner tonight in your house.

Spam - the meat you don't want to ask too many questions about

Who knew Spam could actually taste good?  There were three Spam entries - Spam Rice & Beans, Spam Cupcakes, and Candied Spam with Brie.


Two of these dishes even won prizes! Yes, there were prizes - more about that in a minute. But first, let's talk a bit more about these creative concoctions.

Everyone loves rice and beans, don't they? And beans and rice are staples aboard any cruising boat. Just whack in a can of Spam and you've got a meal that will keep the crew happy and well fed.

Doesn't the baked brie look gorgeous? I wouldn't blame you if you didn't realize that there was Spam in there. And not just any old Spam, but Spam candied with red pepper jelly. Add some brie, more red pepper jelly, wrap the whole thing with phyllo dough, bake, and you've got the most elegant looking Spam dish I've ever seen.

Spam cupcakes, anyone? This is such a creative dish. Make meatloaf out of Spam. Put in miniature muffin tins, top with mashed potato 'icing,' and voila you have savory cupcakes.


Chicken - tried and true, a staple on many cruising boats

Personally, I've never cooked with Spam. I rely more on canned chicken, so I was glad to see several tasty chicken entries. There was a very delicious Enchilada Soup and some moreish Chicken Salads and Spreads.



Fish - kind of disgusting

There were two fish entries - a to-die-for crab and bacon mac n'cheese, along with salmon patties served with dill sauce.


Let's talk for a minute about how disgusting salmon is when it comes out of the can. I have personal experience with this as I made the salmon patties. When I dumped it into a bowl, I was confronted with a horrible stench, skin, and bones. {Yuck, big time.} I almost decided to abandon my plans to cook with salmon, but I persevered. Once I mixed it with bread crumbs, eggs, Old Bay spice, onion, and a little bit of mayo, things looked a little bit better. And, of course, frying anything in oil helps immensely.

The Winners

We roped in a very nice (and brave) gentleman from Tattoo II to be our judge. He tasted all of the dishes, didn't discretely spit anything out into a napkin, and named winners in two categories - tastiest dish and most original dish.

*Tastiest*

1st - Salmon Patties (Tickety Boo) - that's me!
2nd - Chicken Dip (My Dream)
3rd - Baked Brie with Candied Spam (Amazed)

*Most Original*

1st - Spam Cupcakes aka Spoalf (Amazed)
2nd - Corned Beef Quesadillas (No Snow)
3rd - Enchilada Soup (Faith)

Have you ever cooked with canned meat? Any good recipes to share? Would you eat Spam?

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14 February 2018

Wordless Wednesday | Valentine's Day





Wordless Wednesday is supposed to be about posting a photo(s) without any words. But, I'm a rule breaker, so here are a few words:

1 - If you like free vintage, royalty-free images, look no further than The Graphics Fairy. That's where I got these cute valentines.

2 - Scott and I don't do the whole Valentine's Day thing. It's way too much pressure. 

3 - Exchanging Valentine's Day cards in elementary school was such a big thing. I remember decorating a shoe box with construction paper and lace doilies to turn it into a "mailbox" for my classmates to put their cards into.

What words does this picture(s) bring to your mind when you look at it?

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

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11 February 2018

You Know It's Going To Be A Great Day When...


You know it's going to be a great day when...

...you have just enough milk left for your morning coffee.

...all the news headlines are about adorable kittens and puppies, instead of politics.

...dolphins frolic around your boat.

...nothing new hurts when you stretch in the morning.

...you've magically lost five pounds overnight and can button your jeans with ease.

...you find $40 in the pocket of your jeans.

...you do your taxes and realize you're going to get a refund.

...you finally submit your first novel to your editor.

...you forget to put sugar in your morning oatmeal and it still tastes great.


How do you know when it's going to be a great day?

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10 February 2018

Saturday Spotlight | 10 Minute Novelists Conference

In addition to the usual blog posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday about our travel adventures and day-to-day life living aboard a sailboat, I also occasionally post on Saturdays, focusing on things related to writing such as cover reveals, book launches, reviews, interviews with authors etc. So if you're a bit of a book nerd like I am, check in on Saturdays - you never know what might pop up.

Today, we have a guest post by Pam Humphrey about the 10 Minute Novelists conference in August. It sounds like a great opportunity to connect with fellow writers and hear from some amazing speakers. Take it away, Pam.
  
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By Pam Humphrey

As writers, some days we struggle to find ten minutes in a day to dedicate to our writing. We scrape together small snippets of time each day, adding words to our work-in-progress. Those words add up. Our small things, brought together, can make something great. 

The writers of the Facebook group 10 Minute Novelists believe that this is true. Started by Katharine Grubb, who wrote the book, Write A Novel in Ten Minutes A Day, the Facebook group offers tips, encouragement, and community for time-crunched writers worldwide.

August 9-11, 10 Minute Novelists will be hosting their first ever conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. The theme is fitting: Small Things Brought Together. The conference hopes to bring this online community of hard-working writers together for learning, support, and fun. Through the speakers and learning opportunities, they hope writers can make connections, amplify writing energy, and add tools to their writing toolbelt.

Their speakers include:

James Scott Bell, bestselling author of Plot & Structure, and award-winning thrillers like Final Witness, Romeo’s Rules, Don’t Leave Me, Blind Justice, Deceived, Try Dying, Watch Your Back, and One More Lie, will give the keynote.

Donald Maass, founder of the Donald Maass Literary Agency and author of The Career Novelist (1996), Writing the Breakout Novel (2001), Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (2004), The Fire in Fiction (2009), The Breakout Novelist (2011) and Writing 21st Century Fiction (2012), will speak on The Fire In Fiction. This hands-on presentation will reveal how master contemporary novelists make every book great—and how participants can use the techniques of greatness in their current manuscripts.

Janice Hardy, founder and owner of FICTION UNIVERSITY, is the award-winning author of The Healing Wars trilogy, including The Shifter, Blue Fire, Darkfall from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins, and of multiple books on writing, including the bestselling, Understanding Show, Don’t Tell (And Really Getting It). She’ll be speaking twice on Saturday: Planning Your Novel in Ten Easy Steps: 10 Surefire Steps to Planning a Bestseller! and (later that day) on Revision Readiness: How to Revise.
For more information go to http://www.10MinCon.com. The conference price is $329, but will go up to $379 after March 1, 2018. Price does not include travel, airfare, or hotel accommodation. Price does include lunch for Friday, August 10 and Saturday, August 11. Hotel accommodation information is also available at www.10MinCon.com.

Make time for your writing this summer. Join us at 10MinCon!

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Pamela Humphrey, author of Finding Claire and Finding Kate, has been a member of 10 Minute Novelists since March 2016. She lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband, sons, black cats, and a leopard gecko. 

Have you ever been to a writing conference? Are you planning on attending 10MinCon?
 
Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!  

09 February 2018

Life Lately At Indiantown Marina

This is what life looks like lately at Indiantown Marina for me.


I'm knee deep in wading through beta reader feedback and making the final revisions to >>Murder at the Marina<< before I send it to the editor on Monday. This round of editing is taking way longer than I thought it would, but I've learned heaps in the process.

When I need a bit of a break from editing, I've been looking through my Boat Galley cookbook for recipe ideas.


No, I'm not looking for bread recipes. I'm on the hunt for a fabulous canned meat recipe. Yes, you read that right - canned meat. One of the essential provisions to have on board your boat if you're a non-vegetarian cruiser. We're having a canned meat cook-off this weekend and I want to experiment with a new recipe. Who knows, maybe I'll be just crazy enough to try something with Spam.

And in other news, winter appears to be over in southern Florida (at least for now).


When the real feel temperature hit 89 yesterday, I broke down and plugged in our air conditioning unit. I do feel a little guilty basking in air conditioning, while much of the rest of the northern hemisphere is still battling snow, but I have to say, it beats wearing three pairs of socks.

What's life been lately where you are? Any good canned meat recipes to share?

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07 February 2018

Simon The Time Traveling Cat Gets Evicted | IWSG



The Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) is a place to share and encourage, where writers can express their doubts and concerns without appearing foolish or weak. It's a great place to mingle with like minded people each month during IWSG day.

Every month there's an optional question which may prompt folks to share advice, insights, a personal experience or story. Some folks answer the question in their IWSG blog post or let it inspire them if they're struggling with what to say.

This month's question is:

"What do you love about the genre you write the most in?"

Check out how people have answered this month's question, as well as the other insecurities and writing topics they may have shared by visiting the IWSG sign-up list here. If you want to see how I answered the question, have a look below.

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Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Simon the Time Traveling Cat sprawled on the table, knocking my highlighters on the floor. Then, he washed carefully behind his ears before rolling onto his back.

"Scratch my belly, lady," he demanded while batting at my hand with his paw.

"Stop it, Simon. I'm busy working on this month's IWSG post - what I love the most about writing cozy mysteries."

Simon batted at my hand some more, this time with his claws fully extended.

"Ouch!" I pulled my hand away and checked for blood. I was going to need a bandaid. I glared at Simon. "You know what I love about writing cozy mysteries? Being able to kill off characters."

"Why are you looking at me, lady?" he asked. "What, you think you can kill me off? Hah! All of your readers would revolt."

"Revolt? Not a chance. They'd sympathize. After all, in just the past week, you've hacked up hairballs on my bed, you knocked a bowl off the counter on purpose, spilling soup everywhere, and to top it all off, you've scratched me. . .again!"

Simon blinked slowly at me. "But, I'm a cat. Everyone knows you can't kill off a cat in a cozy mystery. People who read those books are crazy about cats."

I sighed. "Fine, you're right. I won't kill you off. How about we just evict you instead?"

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In all seriousness, I do wonder if people are getting tired of Simon the Time Traveling Cat popping up each month. He's been hanging around for almost a year. {Click here to read the original Simon post.} Other characters pop up from time to time, like Esme the Annoying Life Coach, but Simon really has seemed to take over things.

So, what do you think - should Simon be evicted?

(a) Yes, evict Simon.

(b) No, keep Simon.

(c) Have Simon stay, but on a part-time basis.

(d) None of the above.

So, what do you think - should Simon be evicted? Leave your answer and reasons why in the comments below.

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05 February 2018

Hand-Knit Sweaters For Koala Bears, Or Strange Emails People Send Us

We often get emails asking us to advertise products and services on our blog. Usually, I send a quick reply back saying "thanks, but no thanks." After all, the person sending the email is generally some peon in a cubicle making peanuts.

But recently, I was tempted to send a more detailed response. Something along the lines of:

"Thank you for your inquiry. Before we proceed with advertising your product in exchange for absolutely no compensation for our time and effort, can you clarify which of our online businesses you were referring to? Was it the one where we sell hand-knit sweaters for koala bears? Or, did you mean our mobile unicorn grooming business?"

It all came about when I received this form email (the highlighting in red is mine).



Let's just dissect this, shall we?

First of all, she says that she came across our >>post<<. Well, the link she provided takes you to >>this page<<, where we have links to various posts on blogging tips and tricks. It's not an actual post.

Next, she says that it was >>super insightful<<. Uh, okay. What exactly did she find insightful about it? It's just a page with a listing of blog posts. Did she find it insightful that I know how to insert hyperlinks? I think what was supposed to happen here is that I'd be so flattered that she called it *insightful* and put a *super* in front of it, that I would jump at the chance of doing her bidding.

Then, she mentions the importance of >>online businesses<< and talks about my >>work<< later on. That's what got me thinking maybe there is some money to be made in hand-knit sweaters for koalas or starting up a mobile unicorn grooming business.

If she had actually looked at our blog for even a nanosecond, she'd probably have figured out that we aren't selling anything.* In fact, we don't monetize our blog.** {Yep, all of this crazy, random nonsense - it's all yours for free.} Something, she'd know if she had read >>this post<< I wrote a couple of years ago about annoying form emails we get from people wanting us to flog their stuff.

Although, maybe she did read that post as she didn't offer any sort of compensation for publicizing their web hosting guide. By the way, I'm pretty sure they make their money by recommending certain web-hosting services. Our share of that profit - zero. Unless, you count the fact that they'd be >>thrilled<< if we helped out as compensation.

Which leads me to the reference to >>web-hosting<<. Yeah, we don't pay anyone to host our site. We do things the cheap and cheerful way around here by using Blogger's free service. No domain, no hosting, nothing. So, why would we be interesting in talking about web-hosting?

What kind of strange, annoying and/or stupid emails or slow mail do you get? If you have a blog, do you monetize it? Ever knit a sweater for a koala bear or brushed a unicorn's mane?

*Disclaimer: In all fairness, I've had a link up here before for the IWSG anthology I had a story published in and I'll do the same when I publish my cozy mystery. So, I guess I am selling stuff. 

**Another Disclaimer: I did try Amazon Affiliates for a while, primarily with links to books I reviewed. We made a whopping $10. We're no longer part of the program. And, by the way, there's absolutely nothing wrong with monetizing your site. If it makes you happy and it works for you, go for it!

You can find links to our other posts on blogging tips & tricks on here.
 
Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!

03 February 2018

Saturday Spotlight | Sailing Book Reviews

In addition to the usual blog posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday about our eccentric travel adventures and day-to-day life living aboard a sailboat, I also occasionally post on Saturdays, focusing on things related to writing such as cover reveals, book launches, reviews, interviews with authors etc. So if you're a bit of a book nerd like I am, check in on Saturdays - you never know what might pop up.

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Today, I'm featuring reviews of three sailing-related books. Two were written by fellow members of the Women Who Sail Facebook group - Jackie Parry and Daria Blackwell -  and recount their adventures crossing oceans, exploring new countries and cultures, and connecting with fellow cruisers. Chris DiCroce's book is jam-packed with information about the ins and outs of traveling along the Atlantic ICW (intracoastal waterway).


THIS IS IT: 2 HEMISPHERES, 2 PEOPLE, AND 1 BOAT | by Jackie Parry

>>This is It<< is a wonderfully well-written memoir of the author's adventures buying a sailboat in San Francisco with her husband, and then sailing it across the Pacific back to their home in Australia. The author has a beautiful voice and way with words which effortlessly draws the reader in and makes them feel like they're part of the adventure. 

During the course of the book, we follow the crew of Pyewacket from San Francisco on the first part of their journey through Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Panama and then across the Pacific with stops at fascinating places like Pitcairn, the Gambiers, and Suwarrow. The descriptions of the highs and lows of cruising are fascinating. I loved reading about their experiences immersing themselves in local cultures, and the friendships they made with fellow cruisers. There were also times when I was sitting at the edge of my seat with my pulse racing as the author described the treacherous conditions they faced during their journey.

Bonus material is provided at the end of the book with information about buying a boat in a foreign country, the areas where they cruised, and the process of importing a boat into Australia.

This book is far more than a travel memoir about sailing; it helps you understand the restless spirit that drives and inspires people to lead a nomadic life in search of their next adventure. A great read for anyone who is dreaming about cruising, as well as those already out there living the dream. 


>> Find out more about Jackie and her books at Amazon | Website <<


THE NAKED TRUTH: A NAUTICAL MURDER MYSTERY | by Daria Blackwell


If you've ever wanted to know what it's like to cross the Atlantic on a sailboat and cruise in the Caribbean, then this book is for you. >>The Naked Truth<< reads like a fictional travel memoir with a “murderous” twist.

The two main characters, Xander and Jessica Lynch, are exploring the Canary Islands on their Oyster 47 ketch, Arcadia, when Jessica witnesses a brutal murder. Unfortunately, the murder remains an unsolved mystery when they depart the Canaries and sail to Barbados. Other mysterious events take place during their time in the Caribbean which turn out to have a surprising cause.

This nautical murder mystery is set against the fascinating background of living aboard and cruising on a sailboat. Throughout the book, the reader is treated to descriptions of various Caribbean islands, their people, and history. Different aspects of life aboard a boat are shared in an engaging way – including provisioning, communication on passage, clearing into different countries, the deep connections one forms with fellow cruisers, weather forecasting, seasickness, and watchkeeping. The author also describes Xander and Jessica's desire to write a book on anchoring, something the author and her husband have done in real life.

Whether you're a fellow cruiser or an armchair sailor, >>The Naked Truth<< will be a fascinating read and may inspire adventures of your own.

>> Find out more about Daria and her books at Amazon | Website <<


WHAT'S UP DITCH!: THE INS AND OUTS OF CRUISING THE ATLANTIC ICW | by Chris DiCroce


The author and his wife have traveled up and down the ICW numerous times. He provides his views, based on their experience, on a range of topics including preparing your boat (focusing on what's essential vs. nice-to-have); holding tanks and pumping out; navigation and weather; navigation and charts; currents and tides; bridges; engine issues; dinghies; having a dog onboard; anchoring; connectivity; going aground; and the importance of being courteous to your fellow boater.

As the author states, >>What's Up Ditch!<< isn't meant to be a guidebook or a “how-to-sail” book. Instead, he provides his personal perspective on traveling on the ICW and shares the things that they've learned and the misadventures they've had in order to ease fears and help “nudge” people into exploring this waterway. I enjoyed his humorous, light-hearted approach to the subject matter, which made it feel like he was sharing stories about his experiences over a cold beer at anchor.

This is a great introduction for people who are considering cruising on the ICW. Even if you're an experienced boater and have traveled the ICW before, you're bound to pick up some new insights.

>> Find out more about Chris and his books at Amazon | Website  <<

Note: I won a copy of >>What's Up Ditch<< courtesy of Saving to Sail (a site dedicated to learning how to make money online, while sailing the world) and voluntarily chose to leave an honest review.


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Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Have you read a good book lately? One of the best ways you can thank an author is to leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. One of my New Year's resolutions is to try and be better about leaving reviews, especially for indie authors.

What books have you been reading lately? Have you read any of the sailing books featured here today? Do you leave book reviews?

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02 February 2018

January In Numbers

Clockwise from upper left: (1) One of the books I won; (2) Star Wars Cosmic Shells that some friends gifted me; (3) Van party!; (4) Another book that I won; (5) English translation for a Spanish song that was sung at one of the cruiser get-togethers; and (6) Gifts from my mother.

It's time for our usual monthly recap by the numbers. January was chock-full of Indiantown Party Posse get-togethers (lots of fun and full of calories), saying goodbye to friends heading off on new adventures, and countless hours making final revisions before sending my cozy mystery, >>Murder at the Marina<<, off to the editor.

So, enough with all of those words, here's the usual random nonsense recap by the numbers:
  • 17 - How many books I won last month. Winning stuff is fun! 15 of them were sailing-related books from Melody at Saving to Sail. If you're interested in learning how to make money online in order to give yourself the freedom to travel, check her site out. I also won two cozy mysteries - Stowed Away by Barbara Ross and Survival of the Fritters by Ginger Bolton.
  • $11.52 (Canadian) - How much the postage was for one of the cozy mysteries to be sent to Florida from Canada. That's a lot of money! Very sweet of the author to do that. 
  • $0.81 (American) - How much you'll get for one Canadian dollar (at time of writing). I feel bad for our Canadian friends here in the States. The exchange rate sucks. Does anyone else remember when it used to be close to par?
  • 3 - Number of replacement fire extinguishers we got for our boat. We keep one in the aft cabin (where we sleep), one in the lazarette in the cockpit, and one by the companionway. Kidde has recalled almost 40 million fire extinguishers. If you have a fire extinguisher, check to make sure your model hasn't been recalled. It could save your life.
  • 22,700 - How many bees it takes to make a jar of honey. A wonderful couple here at the marina gave me a jar of honey that they made from their very own bees. How many people can say that they have their very own bees? Pretty cool.
  • 100 - How many books I've set as a target to read this year as part of the Goodreads challenge.
  • 18 - How many books I read in January. It may seem like a lot, but three were short and several were cozy mysteries, which tend to be quick reads. Once we get back in the full swing of boat projects and head out cruising again, I won't be able to read as much.
  • 342 - How many M&Ms are in a 11.4 oz bag. My mom sent me unicorn socks and a M&Ms. How's that for a truly awesome present? The M&Ms didn't last long. It's surprising how quickly one can eat 342 of them.
  • $9.11 - How much it cost to see a matinee of Star Wars. We rarely go to the movie theater anymore. It's so expensive and we're often disappointed in the movie. However, exceptions are made for movies like Star Wars. 
  • 17 - How many chapters are in my book. I've given them weird titles, like "Weevils" and "My Little Sweet Potato." It will all make sense if you read it one day. At least, I hope it will.

In case you missed them, here are some of our favorite blog posts from last month:

Cost of Cruising & Living Aboard a Sailboat | 2017 Recap
New Year's Eve Boat & Camper Crawl
Some Days, You Just Need a Box of Kittens 


How did last month go for you? What are you looking forward to this month?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - we'd love for you to pop by and say hi! 

31 January 2018

Wordless Wednesday | Farewell To A "Beloved" Rat




Wordless Wednesday is supposed to be about posting a photo(s) without any words. But, I'm a rule breaker, so here are a few words:

1 - One day, as I was walking past the free table at the marina, I noticed a sign with a picture of a rat on it. I took a closer look and saw that someone was bidding a sad farewell to their "beloved" rat.

2 - I think the sign was a tad sarcastic. If there's one thing people who live on boats don't like, it's having rats take up residence. From what I understand, the people who made the sign had a heck of a time getting rid of their own "special" rat. It was there so long, they ended up naming it Georgette.

3 - There was a huge problem with rats getting on boats in storage this year. Sure, you might be one of those people who has pet rats (and they do make great pets), but rats on a boat is not good news. They chew through everything.

4 - There's probably a correlation between getting rid of the adorable feral cats that used to live here and the increase in the rat population.

What words does this picture(s) bring to your mind when you look at it?

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

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29 January 2018

Shiny Toes & Tacos | The Indiantown Party Posse

Sometimes, people come up to me with a worried expression and say something like:
"You poor thing, all on your lonesome on your boat, while Scott's away. Don't you get bored?"
Uh, no. It's impossible to be bored when you have the  >>Indiantown Party Posse<< constantly planning new get-togethers, like our New Year's Eve boat and camper crawl.
 
It usually starts when someone posts pictures of a delicious-looking dish, followed by a flurry of messages on Facebook, which evolves into a plan which involves getting together either at the marina and cooking something fabulous (like a low country boil or fish tacos) or heading to the local pub for Taco Tuesday or Wing Wednesday.

Sometimes, it starts when two people talk about going to get mani-pedis which then morphs into an afternoon girls get-together, followed by a van party and Taco Tuesday with the blokes.

Look, shiny toes.


Of course, no girls get-together is complete without sugary treats - like this "fugly" toffee.


Or bubbles and chocolate wine. Yes, you read that right - chocolate wine. I had no idea such a thing existed. Whoever invented that deserves some sort of medal.


Of course, sometimes these get-togethers are bittersweet when we end up saying goodbye to some of the members of the >>Indiantown Party Posse<< as they head off to new adventures. That's part and parcel of a nomadic lifestyle - cool people are constantly coming in and out of your life.

But, the good news is that we're constantly recruiting new members for the posse, provided they can answer one important question:
"Do you like moose balls?"
Don't worry, they're not what you think they are. Unless, you're imagining something with Bailey's in it. Probably the most popular item ever served at the >>Indiantown Party Posse<< get-togethers.

Have you ever had a moose ball or chocolate wine? What's your idea of a good get-together with friends?

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27 January 2018

Saturday Spotlight | Terror On Sunshine Boulevard Blog Tour

In addition to the usual blog posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday about our eccentric travel adventures and day-to-day life living aboard a sailboat, I also occasionally post on Saturdays, focusing on things related to writing such as cover reveals, book launches, reviews, interviews with authors etc. So if you're a bit of a book nerd like I am, check in on Saturdays - you never know what might pop up.

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Rescuing a naked woman lying in a geranium bed or investigating mysterious murders are not the usual calls in a Florida retirement community for volunteer first responder Jim Hart.


I'm delighted to have J.Q. Rose join us today on her blog tour for her latest release >>Terror on Sunshine Boulevard<<

I do love a good murder mystery and this one sounds like a winner. It's set in Florida where we're currently docked. It features a volunteer first responder which is something I could never do (blood and all that). I'm always in awe of and grateful to those folks who volunteer to provide this kind of service. And it involves a naked woman lying in a geranium bed - sounds intriguing!

J.Q. sounds like an interesting and fun lady. Check out her bio, especially the part about hunting salamanders with the grandkids.




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Bio

After writing feature articles in magazines, newspapers, and online magazines for over fifteen years, J.Q. Rose entered the world of fiction. Her mysteries published by BWL Publishing are
Terror on Sunshine Boulevard, Dangerous Sanctuary, and Deadly Undertaking. Blogging, photography, Pegs and Jokers board games, and travel are the things that keep her out of trouble. She and her husband, Gardener Ted, spend winters in Florida and summers up north camping and hunting toads, frogs, and salamanders with her four grandsons and granddaughter. 

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Blurb

Rescuing a naked woman lying in a geranium bed or investigating mysterious murders are not the usual calls for first responder Jim Hart. He expects slip and fall accidents or low blood pressure emergencies in his retirement community of Citrus Ridge Senior Community and Golf Resort. The ghastly crime scenes turn the winter time fun into a terrifying season of death and mystery when the authorities cannot track down the predator responsible.

Jim and his wife Gloria could escape the horror and grief by returning to their northern home, but concern for their friends and residents keep them in Florida. With the entire community in a dither over the deaths, the Harts participate in the normal winter activities of golfing, dancing, and pool parties with their friends to distract them from the sadness and loss.

Can Jim and Gloria work with the authorities to discover who or what is killing the seniors on Sunshine Boulevard and stop the increasing body count?

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You can buy a copy of >>Terror on Sunshine Boulevard<< here and connect with J.Q. Rose on her blog, Facebook, Google+, Amazon, Goodreads, Pinterest, and through Books We Love.

 

What have you been reading lately? Have you read >>Terror on Sunshine Boulevard<<?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!

26 January 2018

Flashback Friday | Can Wallabies Be Litter Box Trained?

 

Flashback Friday takes place on the last Friday of the month. The idea is to give a little more love to a blog post you've published before that maybe didn't get enough attention, or is something you think is still relevant or even a something that you really love and want to share again.

Many thanks to Michael d’Agostino for starting Flashback Friday and inspiring me to go back and revisit some of our earlier blog posts.


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This is a flashback to when we were anchored at Kawau Island in New Zealand. The weather was getting to be a real drag and we were stuck in that anchorage for ages. Fortunately, we spotted some wallabies one day when we went for a walk which cheered us up. Which, of course, led to the question - "Can wallabies be litter box trained?" If they can, they sure would make a great addition to the crew.

{This post was originally published in March 2014. You can find the original post here.}  

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Wallaby spotted on Kawau Island. So cute! They were introduced in 1870 by the Governor of New Zealand, Sir George Grey, along with other exotic animals. Sadly, they are now considered to be a pest which negatively impacts on native flora and fauna and the Department of Conservation and other landowners are trying to manage their population. You can help by adopting a wallaby and having it live on your boat!

I’ve been trying to convince Scott for a while now that we absolutely need a cute little dog on our boat, but sadly I haven’t been very successful yet. Every time I bring the subject up, he gets all Mr. Spock logical on me with seemingly rational arguments such as the fact that there are lots of countries you can’t easily bring a dog into. 

But his biggest argument is that you have to cart your dog on to shore to do their business. His favorite refrain is, “Are you going to get in the dinghy when it is pouring down rain and blowing a gale and take the dog to shore? Hah, I didn’t think so! There won’t be any dogs on our boat because I’m sure as heck not going to get stuck rowing the mutt to shore every day.”

Fortunately, I’ve found an even better idea for a liveaboard pet – a wallaby! I figure if I can litter box train one, then Scott can’t possibly say no to having one on board. And because they can stand on their hind legs, when we get to a new port we can put clothes on our little wallaby and pass him off as a human crew member. Animal immigration problem solved! And the icing on the cake is the fact that wallabies can jump and they have a built in tool pouch. Something wrong up the mast? Get your wallaby to jump up there and fix it with the tools they carry around in their handy pouch. Much, much easier than getting a clumsy human to climb up there.

Last time we were at Mansion House Bay in Kawau Island, we caught a glimpse of the wallabies that live there. We’ve been there many times previously, but have never seen them before. It was amazing! They look so cute and their fur seems so soft and I just wanted to grab one and cuddle it. Unfortunately, they’re fast little buggers and they jumped away before I had a chance to say hi and ask them if they know how to use a litter box. Scott seemed really interested in the wallabies, so once I solve the litter box issues, I’m pretty sure he can’t possibly say no to having one on board.

I’m really grateful we had some wallaby sightings, because, frankly I was getting really tired of Mansion House Bay. We have spent far too much time there hiding out from various blows and desperately trying to escape. I can hear you saying, “Are you nuts? Mansion House is a beautiful, iconic New Zealand spot. I would love to go there!” And, yes, if you haven’t been there before, by all means you should head up there and spend a couple of days exploring the nature reserve and the Mansion House grounds. But, if you’ve ended up spending around eight days in a row there trying to escape (with only a quick run to Gulf Harbour to reprovision), then you’ve probably seen it all and done it all. But of course, every cloud has a silver lining and for us, it was when we caught a glimpse of the wallabies on the island.

I’m also really grateful for things like wallaby sightings, because without these amazing moments, I think the setbacks we’ve had with the weather so far might do my head in. We counted up how many days so far this summer that we’ve spent hiding out from a blow (either in a marina or at an anchorage) and the number is quite depressing. 

Intellectually, I know that the weather really does dictate what you can do and where you can go. And, I know people end up waiting weeks for the right weather window to make a passage. But we’re just doing coastal cruising, so I never expected that the weather would have such an impact on us. If the wind isn’t blowing a near-gale or gale, then it is blowing from the completely wrong direction to go where we want to get to. And, then there is the swell – it either is way too high for our tiny boat and/or crashing into us beam on. And on those days when you can’t stand the weather or the boat anymore a cute little wallaby to cuddle sure would make all the difference.

So if you have any experience training wallabies to use a litter box and jump up to the top of the mast, please let me know. Also, feel free to email Scott and tell him that having a dog or a wallaby or even a cat on board would be a great idea! I’m sure he’ll listen to you!

Anyway, here is what our week up in Kawau looked like. Other than the wallabies, not too exciting.



Scott thinks that the wallaby fences are proof that they can't jump high enough to get to the top of our mast. Personally, I think they are just smart creatures who can read the signs and choose not to jump over the fences.

Monday, 17 February 2014

After making a run from Great Barrier to Kawau the previous night and getting in around 11:30 pm, we had anchored down near the Kawau Yacht Club. It is a big anchorage, which we know well, and we figured it would be easiest to park the boat there in the dark. But it turned out to be a bit roly-poly, so we decided to move the boat over to the more protected Mansion House Bay in the morning. The only other big event of the day was having a solar shower. Scott helps me wash my hair because the solar shower can be a bit fiddly to use. Honestly, I never thought it would come to this…I can’t wash my hair without my husband’s help. That’s living on a boat for you.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

We ran out of eggs and cheese. These are two essential staples in our diet and we ended up getting stuck with eating things out of cans we’ve been avoiding so far. And they tasted terrible. {Note to self: never, never, never try to make a pasta dish out of cream of mushroom soup and canned chicken again.} Fortunately, wallabies were sighted!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

We ran out of water in our bladder. Not our actual human bladders, but the water bladder under the settee that we use instead of a water tank. Hmmm….no funnel to get the water from the jerry can into the water bladder. But, no worries, Scott cleverly cut up a tonic water bottle and turned it into a funnel. Problem solved. More wallaby sightings.

Thursday 19 February – Monday, 24 February 2014

Nothing too exciting happened. And when nothing too exciting happens, you spend a lot of time looking at the other boats which are also stuck in the anchorage. Scott was particularly interested in an older couple living on a boat even smaller than ours. They seem to be a really fit duo – she even drops and raises the anchor herself by hand while he watches from the cockpit. Scott spent the rest of the day trying to convince me that if an old lady can manage the anchor, I can too. I ignored him and daydreamed about wallabies instead. Sadly, no more wallaby sightings.

Eventually, we got a brief break in the weather so we made a quick run to Gulf Harbour to reprovision – more diesel, water and food. And then it was back up to Kawau to wait for another break to be able to head up north which finally came on Monday. We said goodbye to Mansion House Bay and the wallabies and made our escape.

Overall

Total nautical miles = 32 (to Gulf Harbour and back)
Number of wallabies sighted = 3
Number of days in Mansion House Bay = too many

What do you think - can wallabies be litter box trained? Would you want one as a pet? Have you ever had an "unusual" pet?

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