Sunday, 19 July 2020

Atlantic Crossing, Chapter 1 audio podcast

My older son's job involves a lot of reading and computer work, so he no longer reads for pleasure. Instead, he listens to podcasts in his free time. Podcasts are becoming more and more popular for many busy people.
I am already doing podcasts for my online writer's retreat, so have decided to create another one of my new book, Atlantic Crossing, hoping that he will be able to listen to the book while driving. 
The first chapter is free for the next 90 days. If you enjoy it, click here to buy the book.

Friday, 17 July 2020


I found a new writer's tool. It's called Scapple, created by Literature and Latte, who also created my other writing workhorse, Scrivener.
Scapple is an outlining, mapping and brainstorming tool. It's like a giant piece of paper or a bunch of index cards on a wall but much easier to use.
I have a new book on the go and the first day I used Scapple, I discovered many pieces missing in my manuscript. Scenes that I need to add and characters that I've forgotten about who are vital to the story. 
Scapple is compatible with Scrivener and much simpler so I would recommend it first for a beginning writer.
Check it out - it's money well invested.

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

My copies arrived!

Finally, my copies of Atlantic Crossing arrived from Amazon. I ordered 20 so that I had enough to send to my beta readers as a thank you for their effort and a few more to give out as gifts. 
Even though I know the story inside out, I flipped through the first pages as if in a bookstore and begun reading it once again. Nothing satisfies a writer better than finally holding a book you've written and published. 

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

How To Write A Book One Step At A Time.

Over the years, I found an easy and efficient system to help me write a book. Simply, begin at the end. 
Visualize the book in your hands or on display at a bookstore. Imagine it in search results on the Amazon website. And then start planning. 
I want to share with you what I learned and so have been producing a podcast consisting of one-minute episodes describing each step that you can follow day by day. 

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Hot off the press: Atlantic Crossing

As of today, Atlantic Crossing is available on  

It might take a few more days for it to arrive at some of the other sites, such as .de,, .it and so on.
Check it out and if you decide to buy it, I would really appreciate it if you could please write a review on Amazon.Now on to the next manuscript...

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Line edit finished!

I just finished the line edit of Atlantic Crossing. Next - copy edit. To do that, I need to compile the manuscript and send it to the Grammarly program. A couple of my beta readers haven't finished reading yet. Should I wait for them? No. They've had enough time. The deadline for the publisher (me) is May 25. 
And here I might as well as tell you that I prefer to self publish. This way, I am in control of the process, there is no one breathing down my neck to get it finished, I can choose the cover as well as the title, and I don't have to travel to promote it in bookstores and libraries. I've always chosen freedom over money and this is just another example.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

The process of rewriting and editing

You've finally finished the first draft of what you hope will become a best seller or at least a good story to read to your grandchildren. Now comes the hard part -- rewriting and editing.
My process involves several steps:

  • Outline
    • This could become a table of contents or chapter headings. Some people do the outline first and then write the first draft. Others, write first and then structure. Either way works.
    • Divide your first draft into chapters of approximately 2,000 - 3,000 words. Try to begin each chapter with a hook and end it on a cliff hanger.
    • Arrange the chapters in such a way so that you have a beginning where you set up the scene and describe what is to happen, the middle of rising tension, and the end which provides the resolution following the climax.
  • Second Draft
    • Rewrite one chapter at a time, taking into consideration the above. Then put the manuscript away for a couple of weeks (or months) and let it rest.
  • Third Draft
    • Go through the manuscript once more with fresh eyes, polishing as much as you can.
  • Developmental Edit
    • Go through the manuscript noting the rise and fall of action and to see if the structure is working. 
  • Critiques (3-5)
    • Give the manuscript to the members of your writing group to critique. Make note of repeated comments.
  • Fourth Draft
    • Rewrite again, using your writing group's comments to improve the manuscript. Put it away for a couple of weeks.
  • Read it out loud
    • Using a voice recorder, read the manuscript out loud to yourself, and make changes where necessary. Then listen to the recording and repeat.
  • Beta Readers (3-5)
    • Give the manuscript to non-writers who enjoy your genre and are knowledgeable about the topic.
  • Fifth Draft
    • Make changes and rewrite taking into consideration beta readers' comments.
  • Line Edit
    • Go through the manuscript line by line.
  • Copy edit
    • Grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Beta Readers level 2
    • Give the updated manuscript to a new set of Beta readers.
  • Final Draft
    • By now, you are probably happy with the result or fed up with it. It's as good as it gets. 
  • Title Page
  • Cover
  • Layout
  • Proofreading
    • One more round.
  • Publishing
  • Advance Reader Copy and reviews.
Finally, you are there. Another book in print and hopefully being enjoyed by all the readers. Don't linger too long - start another project!

Monday, 4 May 2020

Atlantic Crossing - on solitude and loneliness

The main theme of my new book, Atlantic Crossing, is one of loneliness versus solitude. 
In the beginning, the protagonist is alone and lonely in what seems like paradise. She lives on a sailboat in the Bahamas. She has enough money to live on and friends for company. She values her life and the beauty of nature that surrounds her, yet she misses someone with whom to share her life. But like John, a single man she meets there, who is looking for the perfect woman, she wants the perfect man. 
She invites James, an ex-boyfriend to help her cross the Atlantic. It is obvious that he is not the ideal man since they have already broken up. But she needs a crew and he is available. The second best as it were. 
During the voyage, she mulls over the benefits and drawbacks of being with someone she is not really compatible with and although they manage to coexist together, it is not a good partnership. 
Steven that she meets in Horta in the Azores, is on a different path and so there is nothing there either. 
Finally, at the end of the story, our heroine realizes that she is strong enough for whatever life might throw her way, learns to accept her aloneness, to depend only on herself and begins to enjoy her solitary life. She decides that being alone is much more preferable to being with just anyone.

Friday, 1 May 2020

Not Coming Home in print again.

Καλό μήνα. Good news. Lefkas Post, an online magazine for Lefkas Island, has reprinted, Not Coming Home, one of the chapters from my first book, Salt Water In My Veins in their spring issue. Thank you, Lefkas Post.

Monday, 27 April 2020

Salt Water In My Veins - Chapter 1 - read or hear.

1. Nomad

Land goes forever, there is no end to it. So, how can you decide where to live; in which town or on what street to stop; what woman to marry?
TDLemmon1900 in 'The legend of 1900'

Why do we travel? Is it in the vain hope of finding happiness and fulfillment in some other place? Nope, it's not here in Paris, perhaps over there in Rome. As they say, wherever you go, there you are.
When traveling becomes a search for happiness outside of ourselves, a means to an end; when we continue to live in the past or the future while we travel, it doesn't bring peace of mind or serenity, only frustration, and disappointment. 
When I travel it seems easier to stay present, in the moment because everything is new, fresh, unknown, exciting, and possibly dangerous. I remember the first time I went for a long weekend sail cruise with some friends. Time stood still and the three days felt like three weeks, I felt so far away from daily worries and concerns and the present moment was so crystal clear.
Sailing offshore along the Pacific coast and later across the Atlantic, I saw a sky that was truly awesome in its glory, with colours of the rainbow all around us or clouds and fog surrounding us like feathers shaken out of a duvet. At night we were often the only speck of humanity for hundreds of miles around, surrounded only by stars and their reflections in the ocean.
And now, as I cruise from country to country and from harbour to harbour, each new place amazes in some way. In Alicante, Spain, it was the sight of the old woman in black selling garlic from a converted baby carriage in the town square. On Majorca, it was the lamb dinner straight from a wood-fired oven that had been simmering all afternoon while we climbed to a ruined castle near the restaurant and the farm where the lambs were raised. In Rome, it was the sudden and unexpected view of the Coliseum from a side street. In Florence, it was the sound of a young girl singing opera on a street corner.
Moments like that take my breath away and inspire. I have been wondering why the same feeling of awe is described as 'it takes my breath away,' and 'it inspires me.' One means breathing out and the other breathing in. Breathing is what keeps us alive. Is it possible that awe-some sights, smells, tastes, and sounds keep our soul alive?
Traveling is what feeds my soul, what gives me energy. Yet, perhaps, I’m beginning to think, paying more attention in one place, one town, one neighborhood would do the same thing. Perhaps there are many inspiring things that would take my breath away, right where I am, if I was just to look more deeply and with more presence. Now all I have to do is to find that place. Perhaps it’s just around the corner…
I long to belong, but cruising is not a good way of accomplishing this goal. I meet many people while traveling, however, after an evening in an anchorage or a harbor, we go our separate ways and in the morning I continue my search for a new homeport.
I want to find a self-sufficient village where everyone knows from which farmer the milk comes, who makes the best bread, and that the mayor is related to the inn-keeper. I want to find a community where I can work, live, play, and find all I need within walking distance. There are many villages and towns like this in the Mediterranean, but which one is my home?
Am I a bird blown off course that has lost its flock and tries to join a new flock time and time again without success? No, this is not my flock and not this one either? Where is my flock? Where is my pod, my family, my tribe?
I am perhaps like a plant that was pulled up by the roots in youth when my parents decided to leave Poland and immigrate to Canada, and now it's too late for the roots to dig in deeply. Should I just stop somewhere, anywhere, and put those roots down hoping the soil is fertile and my roots will take? Or are my roots so dried and withered that no matter where they will not grow?
The old-time traveling salesman comes to mind. He was forever moving from town to town, bringing news, and spreading ideas or gossip, moving on before he got too attached to any one place or community, yet feeding on the intimacy for a while, offering the dream of foreign lands and inspiration for others to reach beyond the town walls in exchange. I think perhaps that is my purpose whether I like it or not – the life of a nomad.


Listen to the reading of this chapter here.

The Elevator Pitch

The elevator pitch is a one-sentence distillation of your manuscript that you want to have ready just in case you meet a famous movie director or a major book publisher in an elevator and he asks about your work. It also helps to keep your manuscript on track and focused. 

A pitch should have the following: a protagonist, a goal, and an opponent. It should be concise yet attract curiosity.

For example:

With the help of a beer-guzzling ex-boyfriend and ahead of approaching hurricane season, a single woman struggles to cross the Atlantic on a small sailboat.

What do you think? 

Thursday, 23 April 2020

What is a Beta Reader

Once your manuscript is as good as you can make it, it is time to show your new creation to a select, small group of people who will hopefully admire it like a newborn that it is. These are your Beta readers.

Their job is to read the entire manuscript and to make supportive, yet constructive comments and answer questions such as:

1. Did the opening scene capture your attention? Why or why not?

2. Did you get a good sense of the setting?

3. Did you notice any inconsistencies in setting, timeline, or characters? If so, where?

4. Did the dialogue keep your interest and sound natural?

5. How did you feel about the characters?

6. Did you get bored while reading the story? At which point?

7. Was the ending satisfying and believable? Are you left with any unanswered questions?

It's best to find your Beta readers among people who read books of the genre you have written, and who, once the book is finalized and published, would be happy to recommend it to others. Preferably, they are not a writer themselves, or you'll find that they might want to rewrite your story in their own voice. There are many ways of writing a story and you should feel confident enough about your point of view, your voice, and your style before submitting your manuscript to a Beta reader.

The most appropriate way of thanking them for their help is by sending them a signed copy of your published book.

Monday, 20 April 2020

The longer I live, the more I listen to the people who say the least.

If you listen carefully, you'll notice that most people talk a lot of rubbish. It's called chit chat or cocktail talk. "The weather is fine, don't you agree?" "Wasn't that an interesting newscast last night?" "Do you want to hear a joke?" And "How was your weekend?"

If that was the end of it, I see no problem. Being polite is part of living in a civilized society.

But with some people, asking them how they are, can be the start of an hour-long monologue. Sometimes they'll trick you and ask how you are first.
"Fine, thank you and you?" you respond. 
And that's what the pontificators and motor mouths of this world wait for. They will tell you in minute detail the dream they had last night and then without taking a breath, also the breakfast they ate, and lunch, and dinner. They also had an afternoon nap, you will find. They will follow up with the story of their family and their relationship with an ex-partner. There is no bottom to the pit of topics they can come up with and all of it is about them.
Being a quiet introvert, I used to be a magnet for these people. They love a good listener. But no more. I have their number and it's been blocked.

That's why I love writing. The first draft can be very wordy and you can record everything that comes to mind. But then you edit so that each sentence says what is most important in as few words as possible as if polishing a gem. 
Finally, your manuscript is trimmed down from 300,000 words to 60,000 but like turning a fine wine into an exquisite cognac, your finished masterpiece distills what's best in your story.
How I wish everyone had this editor in their brain before they open their mouth. But sadly we haven't yet evolved that far. And so, I avoid the chatterboxes, who attempt to collar me and assume from my polite hello that I am eager to know their life story.
"Why don't you write a book", I suggest. "You seem to have a lot to say."
"Oh, I couldn't, it's too much work, I'd rather tell it."
Well, not to me, you won't, thank you very much. I actually do have a book to write. 
And if I want to hear a story, I will find my friend who rarely speaks but when he does, diamonds tumble out of his mouth.

By the way, if you are trying to learn a foreign language, it is enough to memorize a few simple phrases, such as, "Hi, how are you," and "I'm fine and you?" If you know a half dozen sentences such as this, often people will assume that you are fluent in their language and begin a lengthy one-sided conversation. 

Friday, 17 April 2020

The dreaded "I" in memoirs.

It is possible that I should stop asking people to critique and edit and comment on my Atlantic Crossing manuscript or I will never publish it. Yet, reading it out loud, I still find sections that I want to change and paragraphs that don't sound smooth. 
One of my beta readers told me that I have too many sentences beginning with "I". How do you write a memoir not using "I"? So, I checked several other memoirs that are quite popular.
"Wild," by Sheryl Strayed begins as follows:
My solo three-month hike on the Pacific Crest Trail had many beginnings. There was the first, flip decision to do it, followed by the second, more serious decision to actually do it, and then the long third beginning, composed of weeks of shopping and packing and preparing to do it. There was the quitting my job as a waitress and finalizing my divorce and selling almost everything I owned and saying goodbye to my friends and, and, and...
 A ridiculous way to begin a book in my opinion and likely manipulated in order to avoid the use of the dreaded "I". All the sentences begin with "There was..."
I could rewrite my beginning to sound like that: 
 My ten-week sail across the Atlantic had many beginnings. There was the first time I was invited to sit on a sailboat and go for a short sail and loving it. Then there was the joining of a university sailing club and crewing in races at a real yacht club just to be able to pursue my passion. Then there was another invitation to be a chaperone for a married woman and her lover on another boat and then there was the trade of working for a sailing school in exchange for sailing lessons. Then there was the first decision to buy my own sailboat and to actually live on it in winter, followed by the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth more serious decision each time to sell one boat and buy another one. Then there was the crewing on other people's boats offshore out of sight of land and finding that I loved it, then there was the staying on board in Mexico for two years and also loving it. And then there was another beginning composed of weeks of looking for the right boat to sail around the world, shopping and packing and preparing to do it. But no, it actually wasn't like that. It was more like I loved sailing and there really was no decision to make. I bought a boat, my seventh, to live on, in Florida and had to leave Florida or pay the sales tax which I didn't have money for. So, ini-mini-miny-moe, I chose the Bahamas as the most promising destination. And then the hurricane season was upon us so I had to leave again. Ini-mini-miny-moe, crossing the Atlantic seemed like the best choice.
Is that better?
And how about this beginning from another bestseller, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert:
I wish Giovanni would kiss me.Oh, but there are so many reasons why this would be a terrible idea. To begin with, Giovanni is ten years younger than I am, and -- like most Italian guys in their twenties, he still lives with his mother. These facts alone make him an unlikely romantic partner for me, given that I am a professional American woman in my mid-thirties, who has just come through a failed marriage and a devastating, interminable divorce, followed immediately by a passionate love affair that ended in sickening heartbreak. This loss upon loss has left me feeling sad and brittle and about seven thousand years old.
And my version:
I wish I could have a man in my life.Oh, but there are so many reasons why this would be a terrible idea. To begin with, there are no suitable men here. There is one who owns a large powerboat and wants me to cut my hair and I hate powerboats and love my long hair. There is another one that I do find attractive but who doesn't even give me a second glance. And then there are two more men, who seem to prefer each other's company to mine. These facts alone make it unlikely that I will find a romantic partner here in the Bahamas while living on my sailboat. Also, given that I am a professional Canadian woman in my early fifties, who has just come through a failed marriage and a devastating, interminable divorce, followed immediately by a passionate love affair that ended in sickening heartbreak, looking for love at this time is a terrible idea. This loss upon loss has left me feeling sad and brittle and about seven thousand years old.
So, I think I will stay with my own (slightly altered) beginning and to hell with the "I"s.

Mozart’s Concerto No. 5, pours out of the speaker in the cockpit. Drops of sweat run down my neck and chest into the crevice between my breasts and over my stomach, as I dip a brush into a can of varnish, its turpentine smell overpowering the scent of the sea and carefully spread the golden liquid on the teak trim of my new sailboat. I am lost in the moment as I try to match brush strokes to the rhythm of the music.

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Life during the COVID-19 pandemic era

It seems that people everywhere are going to have to get used to a new life, which includes the constant risk of the coronavirus infection or perhaps even a more virulently evolved version of the COVID-19.

So far, we are facing an extended lockdown, only to be relaxed briefly to allow some semblance of economic recovery as long as the hospitals can keep up with the inevitably rising infection cases. This means, many businesses will go bankrupt, and the ones that will survive will have to adapt to the new distancing measures and so raise their prices to survive.

Even if or when herd immunity is established, COVID-19 can easily mutate to cause a new pandemic or if not that, there is bound to arrive yet another virus perhaps even more deadly. This is not going away very soon. This is a long term change that we will have to face. 

Here are some of the specific changes that I foresee:

Housing: Whoever is able to afford it, will move to the country. The large cities will become too dangerous and so those who will remain will be the poor. The upper-middle-class and above will work remotely from their home in the country. Professionals will have their offices in their homes to avoid commuting and risking infection. They will have fewer clients and so their services will rise in price.

Food: Food will be grown and raised on small farms and in small gardens and orchards, each household growing their own if possible, with the shops sourcing local food. The delivery service to one's home will increase.

Clothing: People will be wearing cotton, silk and leather gloves, glasses, veils, hats, perhaps even longer, wide dresses. They will be keeping other people at a distance using large hats, sticks, and canes. 

Health: People will try to avoid going to hospital fearing infection. Those who will be able to afford it will have home visits from the doctor and delivery of medications from the pharmacy. Others will either die or develop immunity to the virus at hand until a new virus arrives. Many people will try to self heal and improve their health using herbs, diet, and exercise. Future generations will evolve to be more resistant to the virus. The gene pool will shrink. Survival of the fittest.

Caring for the elderly and at-risk: Older people will be staying home and having live-in trusted servants, caregivers, assistants and deliveries. The less wealthy will be looked after by family members. Fewer people will go into nursing homes. More will die at home.

Travel: Most people will stay in their local villages and towns. Holiday travel will become too expensive and so reserved only for the wealthy. Most airlines, cruise liners, long-distance trains will go bankrupt or have to adapt to distancing, and so become more expensive. People will spend more money (if they have any extra) on improving their living situation instead of traveling and commuting. 

Crime: With less travel, the level of crime will fall. Criminals will not be able to escape as easily and so will learn to live in the community as best as they can. There might be more domestic violence temporarily but eventually, people will have to adapt to their home situation because leaving will become too difficult. 

Education: Most education will take place online. The wealthy will be able to afford tutors to teach their children at home but the poor will become less educated since they won't be able to afford the Internet and computers for at-home learning. 

Work: The more educated will work from home. The service industry will be reduced, raise their prices and serve the wealthy individually. The rest of the population will learn to service their own items. Guaranteed income will be instituted by most first world countries. This will encourage the arts, music, literature, and quality crafts to flourish.

Shopping: People will shop less and for quality items only, made locally. There will be mistrust of poorly made items from China and Asia.

Social life and entertainment: Going out will become more risky, so many venues such as restaurants, theatres, and sporting venues will go bankrupt. Those that survive will become more expensive. Large gatherings will be rare or will seize altogether. More people will pray at home and the churches will have smaller congregations. People will entertain at home and invite only close acquaintances and friends. There will be more small exclusive clubs with increased level of security before allowing others to join.

Love: People will form romantic attachments from a distance, online. Romantic love will be reignited and physical love will happen more often only after engagement/commitment/marriage. People will need to obtain immunity certificates in order to marry. Marriage and divorce will become more difficult to obtain.

All of this sounds like we'll be going back to the Victorian or Edwardian era. Pride and Prejudice anyone?