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Tranquility, Mother Ocean and Me (Memoir?)


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#1 Stephanie A

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 11:02 AM

That’s exactly what I felt like, a woman adrift, when we first started our sailing adventures. The fear, the self doubt, the lack of confidence in my abilities, and yet the thought of such an exciting, romantic life caught me like a deer in someone’s headlights. Mesmerized by the unknown, drawn to it by my adventurous soul, I took that leap, not knowing whether I would last a week, if my marriage would survive such trauma and closeness, let alone even care for such a lifestyle.
As it turned out, I fell in love with the sea, going from complete novice, to experienced sailor, to obtaining my U.S. Coast Guard Masters license. On a 33’ sailboat, we cruised the Eastern United States and Bahamas, living and surviving experiences that were astounding, going from the hilarious, to the absurd, from normal to the macabre, and from complete calm to pounding terror.
The people we met along the way, were and are some of the most charismatic, insane, loveable characters one could ever hope to meet. In my normal “land life”, I would never have met these people, but some have become friends for life. Our toast to one another says it all. “Some friends come, and some friends go, some friends peter out you know. But we’ll be friends through thick and thin, peter out or peter in.”
My memoirs are a little satirical, a little environmental, a little unbelievable, and a wee bit comical, with a touch of sadness, but all true. I would like to share these unique experiences with readers who want to be taken on an invigorating ride through this wild, colorful, kaleidoscope world of cruising.
I have no idea where to start to become published, so I’m seeking professional help. Someone who sees the value of my stories and knows what market will bring the readers. If you are interested in reading an excerpt, or the writings themselves, please contact me. I need an experienced agent who has faith in my abilities to draw the public to my book.

Yours Truly,
Stephanie A

#2 Tom Preece

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 11:29 AM

Its been a while, Stephanie, but in my youth when I couldn't afford it or persuade my wife. If I recall correctly there are publishers who seem to specialize in the cruiser memoir. You might want to stare for a long while at Writers Market and identify who they are. In the old days there were only a few, and few enough, I'm not sure there would be agents serving them.

#3 Cync Me

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 01:33 PM

Well I think your letter sounds great. It has a great tone/voice, sounds exciting but more like a short story fiction book. In my opinion, i think you'd have a better chance of pitching it in this genre instead of a memoir

#4 Moonshade

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 04:08 PM

That’s exactly what I felt like, a woman adrift, when we first started our sailing adventures. What's exactly what you felt like? Without the knowledge that A WOMAN ADRIFT is the title of your work, I assume that you're saying "X is what I felt like when I was a woman adrift when we first started....", which ends up being very confusing. The fear, the self doubt, the lack of confidence in my abilities, and yet the thought of such an exciting, romantic life caught me like a deer in someone’s headlights. I would avoiding the 'deer in the headlights' cliche, unless you're planning on inverting it somehow. Mesmerized by the unknown, drawn to it by my adventurous soul, Here you're calling the MC adventurous without showing us. I took that leap, not knowing whether I would last a week, if my marriage would survive such trauma and closeness, let alone even care for such a lifestyle. You've got some conflicting moods here: 'trauma' implies danger and horror, while 'care for such a lifestyle' implies something far more laid back and luxurious. I'm really not sure what mood you're going for here.
As it turned out, I fell in love with the sea, going from complete novice, to experienced sailor, to obtaining my U.S. Coast Guard Masters license. On a 33’ sailboat, we cruised the Eastern United States and Bahamas, living and surviving experiences that were astounding, going from the hilarious, to the absurd, from normal to the macabre, and from complete calm to pounding terror.
The people we met along the way, were and are some of the most charismatic, insane, loveable characters one could ever hope to meet. In my normal “land life”, I would never have met these people, but some have become friends for life. Our toast to one another says it all. “Some friends come, and some friends go, some friends peter out you know. But we’ll be friends through thick and thin, peter out or peter in.” From what I've heard around here, you should avoid quoting yourself in your query. Though always observe the warning: take it with salt.
My memoirs are a little satirical, a little environmental, a little unbelievable, and a wee bit comical, with a touch of sadness, but all true. I would like to share these unique experiences with readers who want to be taken on an invigorating ride through this wild, colorful, kaleidoscope world of cruising.
I have no idea where to start to become published, so I’m seeking professional help. Someone who sees the value of my stories and knows what market will bring the readers. If you are interested in reading an excerpt, or the writings themselves, please contact me. I need an experienced agent who has faith in my abilities to draw the public to my book.

Yours Truly,
Stephanie A

Throughout this you talk of "I" and "We", but you never identify who you're traveling with. I infer that it's your spouse, but I don't know for sure, or whether you've also got kids, brothers, strangers, etc, on that boat with you. That would be one of the first things you should clarify.

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#5 Stephanie A

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 01:08 PM

New book name, updated query letter. Any opinons?


Re: Tranquility, Mother Ocean and Me

A good looking financially comfortable married couple made up of a middle aged man and a slightly younger woman, ditch their secure “land lives” to head out and fulfill a romantic dream of sailing the oceans blue. To some a fairy tale, but to us, it became reality. The self doubt, the lack of confidence in my abilities and his also, was there. Yet, the thought of such an exciting life, mesmerized by the unknown, drawn to it by my adventurous soul caught me. Not knowing whether I would last a week, if my marriage would survive such closeness, let alone care for such a lifestyle, I took the leap.
As it turned out, I fell in love with the sea, going from complete novice, to experienced sailor, to obtaining my U.S. Coast Guard Masters license. On a 33’ sailboat, we named Tranquility, we cruised the Eastern United States and Bahamas, living and surviving experiences that were astounding, going from the hilarious, to the absurd, from normal to the macabre, and from complete calm to pounding terror. Our marriage survived this, maybe sometimes by a thread, but subconsciously made us both stronger and more resilient in our respect for one another.
The people we met along the way, were and are some of the most charismatic, insane, loveable characters one could ever hope to meet. In my normal “land life”, I would never have met these people, but some have become friends for life. Our toast to one another says it all. “Some friends come, and some friends go, some friends peter out you know. But we’ll be friends through thick and thin, peter out or peter in.”
My memoirs are a little satirical, a little environmental, a little unbelievable, and a wee bit comical, with a touch of sadness, but all true. I would like to share these unique experiences with readers who want to be taken on an invigorating ride through this wild, colorful, kaleidoscope world of cruising.
I have no idea where to start to become published, so I’m seeking professional help. Someone who sees the value of my stories and knows what market will bring the readers. If you are interested in reading an excerpt, or the writings themselves, please contact me. I need an experienced agent who has faith in my abilities to draw the public to my book.

Yours Truly,
Stephanie R. Aivaz

#6 bkeats

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Posted 25 June 2011 - 08:23 AM

Hi Stephanie A! Welcome to AQC!

A few first suggestions. Check out the stickied thread at the top of this forum, "How to Write a Query Letter." You've got a very interesting story to tell, but what you don't have is a query letter. It needs to follow- at least to some degree- the established format (Paragraph breaks, showing instead of telling, etc).

Second (and possibly even more important) suggestion. Read the query letters on this forum. All of them- at least on the first page. See how they start, and see how they evolve. That will help more than anything else, IMO. Once you've got your first real attempt down, I promise to give it a look-see for you.

Third, please change the title of your thread. List the title of your work, and what genre it is. Nothing else is needed.

Happy Writing :smile:

#7 Stephanie A

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Posted 25 June 2011 - 01:31 PM

Between the foul smelling Brussels sprouts cooking, and the dammed, sexual frenzied coupling of love bugs, grease permanently glued to my once perfectly manicured finger nails, and a husband always barking orders, I was thinking I’d never last another week in this so called romantic life of sailing. But subtle changes occurred in my psyche. These changes started with my going to an all women’s sailing school, learning how to cope with 5 other women and my Captain, within 42 feet of boat. With the storm of the century, Mother Nature wasn’t kind that week. We had a crash course in “heavy weather sailing”. Heeled over, scuppers in the water, sails full, it was like flying; free falling, between ocean and sky. The thrill of the adrenalin rush, the self accomplishment, the feel of the wind, the smell of the ocean, the wild dolphin playing in our bow wake, helped me overcome my self doubts. It was love at the first taste of real freedom, a true lifestyle change, and this was only the beginning.

Written from a woman’s point of view, Tranquility, Mother Ocean and me is memoirs, in a story telling genre, of my eight years cruising a 33’ sailboat with my husband along the East Coast of the United States and the Bahamas. We lived experiences that were astounding, going from the hilarious, to the absurd, from normal to the macabre, and from complete calm to pounding terror.
The people we met along the way, were and are some of the most charismatic, insane, loveable characters one could ever hope to meet. In my normal “land life”, I would never have met these people, but some have become friends for life. Our toast to one another says it all. “Some friends come, and some friends go, some friends peter out you know. But we’ll be friends through thick and thin, peter out or peter in.”
My stories are a little satirical, a little environmental, a little unbelievable, and a wee bit comical, with a touch of sadness, but all true. I would like to share these unique experiences with readers who want to be taken on an invigorating ride through this wild, colorful, kaleidoscope world of cruising.

I went from complete novice, to experienced sailor, to obtaining my U.S. Coast Guard Masters license. My husband's health brought us back to land. This, my first book, starts at the beginning of this journey, from the search for Tranquility, sailing school, our first cruising adventure, the Florida Keys, the Dry Tortugas and ends with our return from the Bahamas, being thrown out of the Gulf Stream at the Fort Pierce inlet of Florida, back into the United States and our first steak dinner in 6 months, for a total of approximately 61,000 words.

I would appreciate your consideration in helping me share this great adventure I once experienced.

#8 mwsinclair

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Posted 25 June 2011 - 04:53 PM

My first impression is it needs a different name: How about Women's Sailing School: True Stories of Freedom in Heavy Water ... or something. ...

My second impression is you had a humrous voice going in the first sentence (those damned love bugs!) and then it became ... well, not really funny. My point is your voice needs to reflect that of the manuscript and if it comes off as disjointed here, an agent is going to assume it's disjointed in the manuscript and let it sail off to another port.

Also, leave off the "first book" aspect. No reason for it. If an agent is interested, you answer that question when it comes up. And it will come up. Because there's no mention of the platform you've built here, which would lead me to believe you don't have one yet.

It would be good to know if you've sold a few stories, maybe to sailing magazines or gotten one posted on a maritime Web site. I expect you'll be hearing from or want to PM with Rick Spilman....

#9 Stephanie A

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Posted 25 June 2011 - 04:55 PM

please critque me and give me some insight. I'm brand new at this and having a heck of a time with my query. :blink:
Stephanie A

Snorkeling naked only with fins and snorkel mask, while swirling with the pilfers, and chasing the tarpon with their constantly smiling faces. Dancing with an octopus, amazed at the noisy underwater world of reef fish and lobster. Watching dolphins in the heat of passion, and the gentleness of mother teaching her new born baby how to porpoise in a lagoon. Learning to call an alligator, and hearing the roar of a contented Everglades panther and the alarming squeal of its kill. Smoking my first at joint while at anchor, being toasted at on my birthday and designated an official star ship captain at a bar full of Navy and Marines. Dancing in the streets of Key West during October fest, air brush designs on my body and not much else. Sailing with the wind in my sails, heeled over, scuppers in the water, hull speed and more, flying free between sky and ocean. Fighting to stay alive in Mother Nature’s fury. This and so much more in my years of cruising.

Written from a woman’s point of view, Tranquility, Mother Ocean and me is memoirs, in a story telling genre, of my eight years cruising a 33’ sailboat with my husband along the East Coast of the United States and the Bahamas. We lived experiences that were astounding, going from the hilarious, to the absurd, from normal to the macabre, and from complete calm to pounding terror.
The people we met along the way, were and are some of the most charismatic, insane, loveable characters one could ever hope to meet. In my normal “land life”, I would never have met these people, but some have become friends for life. Our toast to one another says it all. “Some friends come, and some friends go, some friends peter out you know. But we’ll be friends through thick and thin, peter out or peter in.”
My stories are a little satirical, a little environmental, a little unbelievable, and a wee bit comical, with a touch of sadness, but all true. I would like to share these unique experiences with readers who want to be taken on an invigorating ride through this wild, colorful, kaleidoscope world of cruising.
I went from complete novice, to experienced sailor, to obtaining my U.S. Coast Guard Masters license. My husband's health brought us back to land. This, my first book, starts at the beginning of this journey, from the search for Tranquility, sailing school, our first cruising adventure, the Florida Keys, the Dry Tortugas and ends with our return from the Bahamas, being thrown out of the Gulf Stream at the Fort Pierce inlet of Florida, back into the United States and our first steak dinner in 6 months, for a total of approximately 61,000 words.
I would appreciate your consideration in helping me share this great adventure I once experienced.

#10 Stephanie A

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Posted 25 June 2011 - 05:02 PM

Okay, I've revised 3x. My last post is the most recent. Please help me figure this one out.
Stephanie A

Edited by Jean Oram, 26 June 2011 - 10:13 AM.
Note: I merged the three threads you had going on as we try to keep one thread for each query with revisions in the same thread.


#11 Tom Preece

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Posted 25 June 2011 - 05:36 PM

Stephanie, I don't find them a wrathful sort, but the Administrators say they want you to add your revisions to the existing ones you've already submitted. The way your doing this now, I'm not sure which is the latest. You may find one of them suddenly deleted.

#12 Stephanie A

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 06:46 AM

Stephanie, I don't find them a wrathful sort, but the Administrators say they want you to add your revisions to the existing ones you've already submitted. The way your doing this now, I'm not sure which is the latest. You may find one of them suddenly deleted.


That's a whoopsie on my part. Definitely not intentional to have the powers that be annyoyed. Don't do twitter at all and face book rarely, just emails, so I was posting as such. Hard teaching an old dog new tricks. This is the most recent update. The others can be deleted. I have them on my computer. Just want to copy names of those who did respond. Thank you

#13 JMB

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 10:05 AM

Hi, Do you realize that you don't have a single complete sentence in the opening paragraph? Noun + Verb. I stopped reading at the end of paragraph one. It's great to give us a feel for the bizarre adventures but you need to give context first and then use proper grammar. Try again. JMB

#14 Stephanie A

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 01:02 PM

Snorkeling naked only with fins and snorkel mask, while swirling with the pilfers, and chasing the tarpon with their constantly smiling faces. Dancing with an octopus, amazed at the noisy underwater world of reef fish and lobster. Watching dolphins in the heat of passion, and the gentleness of mother teaching her new born baby how to porpoise in a lagoon. Learning to call an alligator, and hearing the roar of a contented Everglades panther and the alarming squeal of its kill. Smoking my first at joint while at anchor, being toasted at on my birthday and designated an official star ship captain at a bar full of Navy and Marines. Dancing in the streets of Key West during October fest, air brush designs on my body and not much else. Sailing with the wind in my sails, heeled over, scuppers in the water, hull speed and more, flying free between sky and ocean. Fighting to stay alive in Mother Nature’s fury. This and so much more in my years of cruising.

When your're right your right. Okay, how about this: :humph:

Sailing with the wind in my sails, heeled over, scuppers in the water, faster then hull speed, flying between sky and ocean, are feelings of freedom that far surpass anything I've ever encountered. Totally alert,hearing nothing but the pounding of adrenalin rushing through your body as you fight to stay alive in Mother Nature's fury and succeed, is as close to the feeling of orgasim one can get without having a sexual encounter. Snorkeling naked except for fins and snorkle mask, while swirling with the pilfers, chasing tarpon with thier smiling faces, dancing with an octopus, while your side kick barracuda, dripping drool from it's monsterous teeth, watches and waits for that possible meal of scraps, is like Mother Nature has smiled at you an allowed you to share a chapter in her universe.

#15 Rick Spilman

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 08:05 AM

For better or worse, and probably for worse,I think the best queries are almost mechanical. The query needs to hook not just the agent but the agent's underpaid assistant who probably will be the first person to read and sort through the queries. I think that most really good queries lead with a "blurb" or a "log line" that not only describes in a sentence or two what the book is about but also communicates why the assistant will want to take it to the agent, why the agent will want to ask for sample chapters and ultimately why a reader will want to buy the book.

The issue I have with the various versions of your query is that I have not seen a clear statement that says what the memoir is about in one or two, compelling sentences. The paragraphs that you have written are vivid, but range widely enough that an agent, or more likely his or her assistant, might have a problem identifying the story that you have to tell and/or gauging your ability to tell it. There is a huge difference between linked sea stories and a compelling book that people will want to read. The other element I find missing is a clear sense of the conflict and resolution in the book. It is mentioned but is worth stating explicitly. Can you build dramatic arc into your stories and can you communicate that dramatic arc in the query?

For what it's worth.

Rick

#16 Stephanie A

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 11:44 AM

For better or worse, and probably for worse,I think the best queries are almost mechanical. The query needs to hook not just the agent but the agent's underpaid assistant who probably will be the first person to read and sort through the queries. I think that most really good queries lead with a "blurb" or a "log line" that not only describes in a sentence or two what the book is about but also communicates why the assistant will want to take it to the agent, why the agent will want to ask for sample chapters and ultimately why a reader will want to buy the book.

The issue I have with the various versions of your query is that I have not seen a clear statement that says what the memoir is about in one or two, compelling sentences. The paragraphs that you have written are vivid, but range widely enough that an agent, or more likely his or her assistant, might have a problem identifying the story that you have to tell and/or gauging your ability to tell it. There is a huge difference between linked sea stories and a compelling book that people will want to read. The other element I find missing is a clear sense of the conflict and resolution in the book. It is mentioned but is worth stating explicitly. Can you build dramatic arc into your stories and can you communicate that dramatic arc in the query?

For what it's worth.

Rick

Thanks Rick for taking the time to go through this quagmire of mine and responding with your honest comments. It was painful for me to give up this lifestyle, easy to write about, and now very difficult to query interest in such varied experiences writen into a few paragraphs. In my experence, boating is very much a man's world where women rarely suceed breaking into and even fewer women understand nor appreciate. Thorughout my whole book, my premise was breaking that ceiling, going from a complete novice in a "man's world" to a woman who could hold her own in experience and abilities. Maybe this is my dramatic arc that I have to convey in the query. Stephanie A

#17 Rick Spilman

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 05:59 PM

Thanks Rick for taking the time to go through this quagmire of mine and responding with your honest comments. It was painful for me to give up this lifestyle, easy to write about, and now very difficult to query interest in such varied experiences writen into a few paragraphs. In my experence, boating is very much a man's world where women rarely suceed breaking into and even fewer women understand nor appreciate. Thorughout my whole book, my premise was breaking that ceiling, going from a complete novice in a "man's world" to a woman who could hold her own in experience and abilities. Maybe this is my dramatic arc that I have to convey in the query. Stephanie A


There does seem to be a lot of interest these days in women making their way in traditionally male dominated areas, including the sea. When I was living on my sail boat many years ago, I was impressed by how many very independent women were also liveaboards. These days, with women preparing to serve on Navy subs (starting in January,) with the Captain of the Port in New York being a woman as well as the commandant of the US Coast Guard Academy, not to mention the small fleet of teenage girls who have attempted or succeeded in sailing around the world alone, there is lots of interest in women at sea. I think some variation "learning the ropes" in a "man's world" might be a good angle to pursue in crafting your story arc.


And yes, writing queries is a terrible but useful business. It can be agonizing to reduce a complicated story to a single statement. Nevertheless, it is a great way to develop a sharp focus on the key points of your work. And it is useful for marketing the book when the time comes.

Rick

#18 mwsinclair

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 09:50 AM

Stephanie, Rick's points are the types of things that might be extremely useful in your query. They point to the timeliness of the topic. It's not a crazy thought for an agent to say, this is interesting, but I wonder if you'd be able to write a different book about the emergence of women on the seas. I don't know if there have been magazine articles about that (Rick might know), but it's something you might want to look into writing to put another plank in your platform.

#19 Stephanie A

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 01:01 PM

Okay, scratch all of the above. Went back to the original thought process and completely re-wrote query. Any comments?

Going from the perfectly typical dysfunctional life of an average middle class woman, who thought sailing was a week on a cruise ship, to obtaining my United States Coast Guard Master’s license was an extraordinary journey. My husband and I lived aboard and cruised a thirty-three foot sailboat for eight years, along the East Coast of the United States and Bahamas. I went from novice, to experienced sailor, to one who could be paid for the responsibility of human life on the ocean. The day I took the oath of a merchant mariner and received that piece of paper, was the day, all that I had experienced, and everything I had achieved, really sank in. I could stand alone behind the wheel of a vessel at sea, knowing in my heart I could navigate myself and all with me safely to shore.

During these years, I lived a life that was astounding, going from the hilarious, to the absurd, from normal to the macabre, and from complete calm to pounding terror.

The people we met along the way, were and are some of the most charismatic, insane, loveable characters one could ever hope to meet. In my normal “land life”, I would never have met these people, but some have become friends for life. Our toast to one another says it all. “Some friends come, and some friends go, some friends peter out you know. But we’ll be friends through thick and thin, peter out or peter in.”

My memoirs are about this period of my life. A little satirical, a little environmental, a little unbelievable, and a wee bit comical, with a touch of sadness, but all true. I would like to share this unique voyage with readers who want to be taken on an invigorating jaunt through this wild, colorful, kaleidoscope world of live aboard cruising.
Stephanie A

#20 Countrymouse

Countrymouse

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 03:50 PM

Okay, scratch all of the above. Went back to the original thought process and completely re-wrote query. Any comments? SIMPLIFY BE SPECIFIC, A LOT OF WHAT YOU WRITE IS SO VAGUE, IT'S MEANINGLESS.

EXAMPLE:

Going from the perfectly typical dysfunctional life of an average middle class woman, who thought sailing was a week on a cruise ship, to obtaining my United States Coast Guard Master’s license was an extraordinary journey. My husband and I lived aboard and cruised a thirty-three foot sailboat for eight years, along the East Coast of the United States and Bahamas. I went from novice, to experienced sailor, to one who could be paid for the responsibility of human life on the ocean. The day I took the oath of a merchant mariner and received that piece of paper, was the day, all that I had experienced, and everything I had achieved, really sank in. I could stand alone behind the wheel of a vessel at sea, knowing in my heart I could navigate myself and all with me safely to shore.


I HAVE A CONFESSION. I WAS ONCE A (WHAT? FED-UP? JADED? BORED?) HOUSEWIFE WHO THOUGHT SAILING MEANT A WEEK OF PLEASURE-SEEKING ON A POSH CRUISE SHIP.

THAT ALL CHANGED WHEN MY HUSBAND AND I BOARDED A THIRTY-THREE FOOT SAILBOAT AND CRUISED ALONG THE EAST COAST OF THE UNITED STATES AND BAHAMAS FOR EIGHT YEARS. THE DAY I TOOK THE OATH OF A MERCHANT MARINER AND RECEIVED MY UNITED STATES COAST GUARD MASTER’S LICENSE WAS THE DAY I SAID GOODBYE TO (WHAT? HUMDRUM WAY OF LIFE?) AND EMBRACED (WHAT?) OR YOU MIGHT CONSIDER INSERTING YOUR TITLE HERE.



During these years, I lived a life that was astounding, going from the hilarious, to the absurd, from normal to the macabre, and from complete calm to pounding terror. VAGUE. HOW WAS YOUR LIFE ASTOUNDING? DID YOU ENCOUNTER SHARKS? HIGH WINDS?

The people we met along the way, (NO COMMA NEEDED) were and are some of the most charismatic, insane, AND loveable characters one could ever hope to meet. In my normal “land life”, I would never have met these people, but some have become friends for life. Our toast to one another says it all. “Some friends come, and some friends go, some friends peter out you know. But we’ll be friends through thick and thin, peter out or peter in.” FINE, BUT THE SAME COULD BE SAID ABOUT MEETING FRIENDS ANYWHERE. NOT TO MENTION IT DISTRACTS FROM YOUR STORY.

My memoirs (ARE YOU TRYING TO MARKET MORE THAN ONE?) are about RECOUNTS this period of my life. A little satirical, a little environmental, a little unbelievable, and EVEN a wee bit comical, with a touch of sadness, but all true. I would like to share this unique voyage with readers who want to be taken on an invigorating jaunt through this wild, colorful, kaleidoscope world of live aboard cruising.
NICE, BUT PERHAPS REWRITE.
Stephanie A


Stephanie, sounds like you have a fascinating story, but your query is VERY vague and, I think it'd behoove you to simplify your writing for clarity sake. Good luck! As a side I LOVE the ocean and hope to learn sailing one day!
Conventional opinion is the ruin of our Souls. ~Rumi~




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