IWSG Question: What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?
My Answer: I write blog posts based on true events in my life. In a recent IWSG post, Crystal Collier asked me if I have plans to compile my stories into a memoir.
The thrill of a new idea wakes me in the wee hours. I awake with a hunger to get my idea on the page. To share slivers of my life with you, my reader. To tell a compelling story that grips your attention for a few minutes.
I crave to find the right word to express to you the terror I felt when the scorpion scuttled across the living room tile.
And the relief when Rick crushed the thing with his cane.
My tick-tock internal question is,
1. “When will my writing be good enough?”
2. Followed by, “When will they be good enough to publish?”
3. And, “Who is my audience?”
As the leader of La Cruz Writers’ Group I watched folks grow from index cards to published author. I’ve listened to their questions. I’ve paid close attention to the answers. I’ve listened to hours of Webinars. The more I learn, the more intimated I become. Marketing is a ton of work and time. The royalty checks are often puny. I wonder why invest dear money in publishing? Is sharing my adventures on a blog enough?
This month, I’ll be visiting your blog and gleaning answers from each of you.
Thank you for visiting. It’s always a joy to read your comments. I promise is to return the favor and visit your blog.
July 2018 La Cruz Marina, North of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
In two days, we have a 9am appointment at the marina boatyard to repair a leaky propeller shaft.
Sunday, we started preparing our home and sailboat La Vita, for her date. First, we had to remove an acre of shade canvas.
I worried if we’d either be injured or fail. Rick’s limited mobility from fused disks in his neck and spine plus the searing tropical sun have conspired to make the job nearly impossible. Did I mention we are in our 70’s?
My anxiety grew when Rick groaned with shoulder pain as he stretched his arms to release buckles connected to the mast.
I needed to do my share, so I set to work and unfastened belts, straps, and twists. Once the shade cloth was loose, we shoved the canvas toward the bow and tied it to the life lines.
The next day, we had more fun in the blazing heat. Our dock lines were tied to our neighboring slip and had to be removed. With calculated self control, Rick worked his 6-foot frame into a crouched position and unwrapped the line from around a cleat.
To move to the next cleat, he’d push on his thigh and work himself to standing position. Sometimes he’d lean against the dock box to regain his equilibrium. I was onboard La Vita and powerless to lend a hand.
We’re not complaining. We’re grateful! In 2016 the nerve running to Rick’s right thigh muscles was pinched so badly it atrophied.
Through sheer determination and over two years of physical therapy, Rick graduated from wheelchair, to leg brace & walker, to a cane.
Rick untied the lines and my job was to haul the lines onboard and stow them on deck. They were soggy with salt water and heavy. I was tired, stressed and pissed at my clumsiness.
The best I could do was tie them in an ugly wad and hope they didn’t slide back into the water.
The problem is the dripless shaft seal system. It’s cracked and leaking. The seal needs to be replaced; preferably out of the water.
Tuesday morning the panga tow boat arrived. Folks that promised help us were a no show.
I went below and used the VHF radio to hail our friend Richard on s/v Eyes of the World. While I was on the radio, Rick nearly passed out as he untied the bow lines. Rick climbed onboard and sat behind the wheel to recover. Our friend arrived and he released final dock lines
The panga pulled us out of the slip and we glided at a sedate pace to the boatyard. I watched birds soar over head as we floated by our neighbors moored in their slips.
I opened my cell phone and called the young man that arranged for our haul out. I wanted to tell him we were on our way. He didn’t answer; apparently MIA (missing in action).
We needed someone to our catch lines and secure us to the dock.
Rick was busy watching the tow. I went below and hailed seguridad (security) on the VHF,
“Marina La Cruz seguridad, Marina La Cruz seguridad, this is La Vita.”
When they answered I asked, “Can you meet us at the fuel dock?”
He replied, “The the fuel dock opens at 9:30.”
They speak limited English and I speak less Spanish.
We needed someone on the dock to take our lines now, not at 9:30.
Rick was at the helm and used La Vita’s momentum from the tow to skillfully guide our approach to the dock.
I coiled a port line and prepared to toss it to any live soul on the dock. Without a engine, Rick had little control and could easily overshoot our approach.
Thanks to our guardian angels, security arrived just in time to catch the line and tie it to the cleat. Next, a boatyard worker jumped on board and tossed lines to the travel life handlers.
The men were quick and efficient. Within 15 minutes, we were secured in the slings. A flood of relief washed over me. La Vita, Rick and I were lifted gently into the air. While suspended over the water didn’t dare twitch a muscle.
Secured in the straps, the Travel Lift rolled us into the yard.
I asked myself, “Why do the angels always seem to appear at the 11th hour? Why do I get so worked up?” LOL
With La Vita in the yard and hanging in the lift’s embrace, a ladder was secured at the boarding gate. Fernando, our mechanic, climbed up the rungs and boarded La Vita.
Once onboard, Fernando opened the hatch and climbed into the lazarette.
Fernando labored in the hole about two hours removing and installing the new dripless shaft seal. When the work was completed, the Travel Lift carried us stern first over land and lowered us into the water.
A catamaran was at the dock leaving us no room to tie up. After some grunting and shoving the dock workers moved the Catamaran making room for both of us.
The lift operator released the straps and La Vita floated free. Dock workers pulled our lines and secured us to the fuel dock.
Rick fired up the engine, Fernando checked the seal and reported more leaks! Oh, my heavens, now what? The seal came from the States! Importing a new part would take weeks.
Fernando, pulled tools out of his canvas bag and climbed back into the lazarette, He made minor adjustments and declared the shaft dry and the seal working properly.
Once again, I thought, “Why do I get so worked up?”
With Fernando on board, and Rick at the helm, we motored back to our slip.
While underway, I relaxed with a familiar sense of freedom I always felt when we glided over the seas.
My gazed drifted toward horizon and the smell of salt air filled my lungs.
Marina security was waiting at our slip and Fernando tossed the lines. Within minutes we were tied and secure. Fernando opened the hatch climbed into the compartment to double check for leaks around the shaft. He popped his head out of the hole and gave us the thumbs up. Everything was perfect.
Rick and I discussed his lost of balance and wevwracked our brains trying to figure out what was going on. Sure, his lower back and neck were fused and this contributed to his struggle to kneel and stand up. But why the unbearable breathlessness and near black out?
Finally it dawned on us, Rick was taking a new cough suppressant for a persistent cough caused by a chronic sinus allergy. We Google researched the interactions associated with the new medication.
We discovered shortness of breath and dizziness were sever side effects. Rick stopped taking the medication. Within three days, Rick breathing returned to normal.
Some may wonder why we live in Mexico on our sailboat.
Our answer: we’d rather celebrate brilliant sunrises and physically challenge ourselves than sit on a tacky couch and stare at the boob tube.
We’ve read the ‘message in the bottle,’ and we are reminded our strength is being together, regardless where we call home.
IWSG Question: What’s harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?
My Answer: I write blog posts based on true events in my life. Except for my husband and me, most of the the names are changed to protect the privacy of others.
The post title is revealed to me as I write the post and tag line. The participant names are more difficult, because there are several. Often, the person appears in multiple posts, so keeping track of them requires a bit of organization.
If you write a true story, do you combine past events into a single time frame? If so, why?
Thank you for visiting and taking time to comment. I’m excited to visit & comment on your post, too.
P.S.: I’m pleased to say this post went live while I was asleep. I finally figured out how to set the WP UTC clock (-5hr/Guadeloupe, MX) and post us 24-hour clock (13 = 1pm).
IWSG Question:It’s spring! Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?
My Answer: Spring inspired us to travel to the States and renew our Nevada driver’s license, then fly to San Diego, California and visit family.
We were over 65, so the DMV Website indicated a physical is required before renewing senior citizen’s driver’s licenses. CVS pharmacy assured us we could get a physical at their 1-Minute Clinic.
Sunday afternoon, we arrived at 1-Minute Clinic and explained our need for a physical. I handed her the DMV form she needed to complete and sign.
The lady in the 1-Minute Clinic said, “I can’t do it, you need a doctor. I’m a Nurse Practitioner (NP). You need a doctor to sign this form.”
I’m dumbfounded. “I called CVS 1-Minute Clinic customer service. She assured me we could get a physical here.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t help you. I’m a Nurse Practitioner, you need a doctor to sign this form,” she said again.
I’m so stunned, I can hardly speak, “I can’t believe what you’re saying. We booked a flight, hotel, and rented a car! We need this physical to renew our driver’s licenses!”
“You can go to Urgent Care. They have doctors, I’m sure they can help you. Here’s a list of their locations.” I take the paper and walk out.
We drove to the closest location and walked into the Urgent Care clinic. As we approached the desk, the receptionist stopped texting and looked up. I explained our need for a physical and showed her the DMV form. The receptionist glanced at the paper and said, “Can’t do it. It needs to be your family physician. No doctor here will sign this form.”
We don’t have a family physician in Nevada. How in heaven’s name can get a physical?
We’d just wasted $1,000 on the promise CVS could perform the physical. Without a driver’s license we are blocked from driving a car. What do we do?
We decided to keep our 10am DMV appointment. We needed to know exactly who can perform our physical.
All night long I visualized a successful DMV appointment.
We arrived on time and within 30 minutes DMV renewed our driver’s license. No physical required! We’ve just experienced a miracle.
The next day, we flew from Las Vegas to San Diego. We hired a taxi to take us to the San Diego naval base. We are staying on base in the Navy Lodge. As we are checking in I reached for my ID and discover my wallet is missing!
OMG, I left my wallet in the cab! It held my:
Credit Cards: possible false charges Mexican Permanent Resident Visa: might be denied return entry into Mexico Mexican Driver’s License: driving privilege in Mexico
Nevada Driver’s License: can’t drive or rent a car
Dependent military ID: No longer able to shop on base. Denied all spousal privileges and medical services
As the enormity of loss sinks in, my brain started churning up mud. What do I do? Where do I start?
I called the cab company, it becomes crystal clear they can’t help me locate the driver. I paid cash, no receipt, no taxi number, no driver’s name. Once again, my world tilted on its axis.
Once again, I visualized a successful outcome; the return of my wallet and contents.
About two hours later, my iPhone rings. The incoming call is King Harbor Yacht Club. “Hello, how are you doing?” asked the lady.
I replied, “I’m not doing well at all, I just lost my wallet.”
King Harbor manager, “I just received a call from someone named Lance saying he found your wallet.”
“Are you serious?”
Manager, “Yes, here’s his phone number, 555-xxx-xxxx.”
I called Lance and sure enough, he had my wallet.
We meet two hours later. I offered him a reward and he wouldn’t accept it.
Apparently, Lance and his wife hired the same cab at the airport. They saw my wallet on the seat and decided they would return it to me rather than give it to the driver.
They had opened my wallet and saw my King Harbor Yacht Club. They called King Harbor and asked them to contact me.
The weird thing is, the US phone number on my iPhone was activated two days ago. How did King Harbor Yacht Club get my current number?
I’m writing this post at 3:30am Wednesday morning. These two events started and ended within the last 72 hours. I’m still spinning from my wild three-day roller coaster ride.
I’ve used visualization all my life to “see” my desired outcome, but I have to admit these two events suggest there is a higher energy at work that is beyond my understanding.
When Alex Cavanaugh challenged, “Lynn, really?” my creative juices kicked into gear.
Thank you, Alex for being curious about my IMDb credits(listed under my previous name: L. Sharon Tammarine). Curiosity opens so many door. It was fun and an honor to share a share a bit of my film making history with you.
IWSG Question:When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?
My Answer: It depends how deep the funk is. Light clouds: take photos. Thunderstorm: scribble thoughts in a journal. Constant in my life: maintain relationships with other writers. Accepted writing invitation.
RECORDING MEMORIES In 2016, I snapped pictures and filled my pocket-size spiral notebooks. That year Rick (my husband) walked into the hospital and after his spinal surgery his right leg didn’t work. Two more surgeries and two years were required to inspire life in pinched sciatic nerves and rebuild strength in atrophied thigh muscles. We both devoted all our energy to his recovery. I was spent.
CONNECTED TO OTHER WRITERS My writing life withered into a dormant state; but not abandoned. I received life-sustaining oxygen as the leader of La Cruz Writers’ Group, here in Mexico.
I was too pigheaded to surrender my status in Insecure Writers Support Group. I inched from #257 (2015) to #160 (2016). I could manage the once-a-month blog-hop. I clung with limpet-tight tenacity to maintain my status.
My IWSG blog-hop posts frequently expressed pain and helplessness. True to the IWSG code of ethics, every visitor offered compassion and reassurance. These monthly meet ups became a safe refuge.
In spring 2018 Rick reached a recovery plateau. We are making peace with our new reality.
ACCEPTED INVITATION By chance, someone we all know & respect, invited me to write about my movie career. Something about his request awakened my hibernating desire to write. The deadline launched my creativity and revived my ol’ desire to engage my readers.
(The True Story Of An Adventurous Englishman Born In 1892)
By Wayland Combe Wright
The Octopus’s Garden
Goldy Becomes An Engineer
Leopold Aloysius Goldsmith, whom we nicknamed Goldy, was very much a part of our family. He had been born in Birmingham to a good well-to-do Jewish family and he certainly looked very Jewish but I wasn’t to realise that until I was older.
Goldy was a born performer. As a boy he wanted to join the circus and he trained to be a contortionist at home. He was so insistent that his parents let him stay at home on Sundays when they went to church so that he could practice (like Albert Einstein’s parents and many others, Goldy’s parents though ethnically Jewish belonged to a Christian church). Once, he proudly told me that on one Sunday he got to the point of being able to hook both feet behind his head but then he laughingly continued saying that he got locked in this position and couldn’t get out.
IWSG Question: What do you love about the genre you write in most often?
My Answer: My genre, memoirs, offer a peep hole into our life in Mexico while living on our sailboat, La Vita. I write to inspire, enlighten, & entertain in a style that makes my readers cry, cringe, & chuckle.
A steady barrage of medical challenges has dogged us from Mexico to France through USA, and back to Mexico. I fear my audience will abandon me if my blog evolves into a medical diary. My solution is to focus on human interest events I experienced.
For example, when Rick was in French hospital and I’m suspicious of a stranger’s offer of help. More recently, help magically appeared as I struggled to control a heavily loaded two-wheel dolly down a steep ramp.
Life is filled with dramatic and heart warming events. It’s exciting to watch for them and I delight sharing them with my readers.
Thank you for visiting and taking time to share your comments. It’s a joy to hear from you and I promise to visit you, too.
UPDATE: Wed Feb 7 @ 8:50am
I just read Joylene’s answer to IWSG Feb Blog Hop question. If the universe throws you a curve, consider following the advice she offers in her answer to this month’s Blog Hop: https://cluculzwriter.blogspot.mx/