Archive for postaweek2011

Notes from PNWA 2011 Conference: Part 4

Finding Your Thread in Memoir

(Notes from the seminar presented by Janna Cawrse Esarey, author of The Motion of the Ocean: One Small Boat, Two Average Lovers, and a Woman’s Search for the Meaning of Wife. )

What particular time or aspect of your life would you write about?

Why do you want to write about it?

What makes it an interesting or valuable topic for you as a writer?

What’s your personal goal in writing about it?

Why will someone want to read about this aspect/time of your life?

What will the gain? Inspiration, knowledge, a good laugh?


  1. Topic
  2. Theme
  3. Plot events
  4. Story arc
  5. Dialogue and scene
  6. Perspective

A memoir is not your life. It’s art. An impression.

Don’t confuse topic with theme. Your theme gives you an angle, a focus that will drive your story forward and help it hang together.

Choose one dominant thread.

Everything in your book should relate directly or indirectly to the thread.

“Life is messy. Your story line is not.”

Hook a reader by writing the things they think but would never say out loud. Memoir is not for the faint of heart. Candid and honest is the way other people can relate.

“You have something to tell. Just tell the damn story.”

Clean up the loose ends and fix it up later.

Memoir should be between 70,000 and 90,000 words.


How to Set Up an Author Blog Tour

(Notes from Kathryn Trueblood, author of The Sperm Donor’s Daughter and Other Tales of Modern Family and The Baby Lottery.)

Blog tours extend the life of your book by quite a bit.

Create a web release and go through the blog rolls of similar blogs to help create a list of where to send the release.

Send the web release a month before the book is released.

Create a “Media” page for your blog and include a downloadable press kit. The press kit should include your press release, high resolution images of the cover of your book, your author bio (long and short versions), and your author photo.

Memorable quote about Kathryn’s decision to not use Facebook and the way writers may waste their time on some social media:

“I may be losing out on sales, but I’m not losing out on writing time.”


The New Emerging Indie Publishers

(Notes from the PNWA 2011 roundtable discussion featuring April Eberhardt, Nathan Everett, Bob Mayer, and Katherine Sears about independent publishers, self-publishing, and traditional publishers.)


You have to have something to say and be a good writer; the bar is higher in self-publishing than in traditional publishing.

You’ll need an editor if you self-publish.

The front cover matters; yes, people do still judge a book by its cover.

Build and research your readership.

Blog tours and Facebook ads are ways to market your book.

There’s a very moderate distinction between indie (independent) publishing and self-publishing.

If you enjoy marketing, you may not need an independent publisher. They may not be able to do any more for you than you can.

In traditional publishing, you’ll get more help with promotion once you cross a particular threshold of sales.

One of the best things you can do for promotion is go to other people’s blogs and leave comments. However, people can tell when you’re only self-promoting or trying to create links back by leaving your comment.

New York (the “big six”) is in their own world and they’re still wedded to the old publishing world.

Light a lot of little fires because you never know which one will ignite and take off.

Promote for other people and pay it forward.

Publishers are leery more now than ever of taking on authors or books they don’t know for sure will sell.

You really have to decide where you want to be in five years as a writer.

The first sentence of your back cover description is the most critical sentence you’ll ever write. You have one shot to make that first impression. Make that entire description as great as you can.

Coming Soon: My Notes From the 2011 PNWA Conference!

I just returned from the annual Pacific Northwest Writers Association conference. I look forward to this event each year; it’s a great opportunity to meet fellow writers, see old friends, attend seminars and book signings by famous authors, listen to agents and editors, and walk through the corridors checking out the booths of various publishers, editing services, and writer’s associations.

I took an entire tablet full of notes over the three-day event, which I plan to organize and type up (in between continuing bouts of four-month-pregnancy-nausea) and publish here on my blog. I think a lot of you who are involved and/or interested in the writing and publishing industry will find this updated information useful and interesting. I know I did!

In addition to all of the networking and learning I do at the PNWA conference, I look forward each year to getting out of town and kicking back in a plush hotel. I just love checking in, getting my information packet and badge, and then sitting all by myself to plan my conference itinerary and people-watch. And then, at the end of each full day (the days last from 8:00 a.m. until well after 9:00 p.m.), I retire to my hotel room to look at all the pamphlets, fliers, and cards I’ve collected and get ready for the next day.

I have to admit I do get a little lonely in my room by myself, though. I feel awkward and strange with all the quiet and nobody to hug or talk to. So, last year, I invited my then-pregnant sister, Steph, and her husband, Ryan, to spend one of the nights with me. We had a great time lounging in the summer heat by the outdoor pool, and then kicking back by the night torches later in the evening.

This year, because George happens to be home, I invited G and the kids to spend part of the weekend with me. I knew Eva and Vincent would love the pool, be excited to drive to the “big city,” and wander around the hotel. They were just adorable and I was so happy when they showed up. I was also able to sleep better at night snuggled with my little ones. I’m accustomed to being without G, but not at all used to being without my cuddly children, especially at night!

I am sixteen weeks pregnant now and still not feeling well. I did read that once you hit fifteen weeks, you should be long past the nausea and be “glowing.” If you aren’t feeling and looking that way by fifteen weeks, you’re likely going to feel unwell throughout the pregnancy. Well, I’m certainly not glowing and I feel awful, so I have a sinking feeling that I’m in for it.

I did feel slightly better at this conference than I did two months ago at Bloggy Boot Camp, though. During that conference, I rushed back to my hotel room, sick, after every seminar. This time, I was able to hold it together and sit through most of the day. I kept breathing, sipped on cold water, and tried to stay as relaxed as possible. I recently began feeling the baby move around; usually, this is a great feeling. I have discovered this time, however, when you already feel sick to your stomach, feeling the squirming and twirling inside does not really help.

I will be back soon with detailed information on exactly which authors I heard speak and present at the PNWA conference and the highlights on writing and publishing I learned from each.

Benefits of Being Married to a Long Distance Spouse

Everyone knows—or can at least imagine—how difficult it is to be married to someone who is gone more often than he is home. Some spouses are gone during the week and home on weekends, some are gone for three months and home for nine, others are gone for nine and home for three.

We’re all aware of the difficulties of being responsible for each meal, clean-up, laundry, running around, paying bills, feeding animals, maintaining exercise, making beds, shopping for and putting away groceries, and filling the vehicles with gas. By ourselves, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

I was thinking about this last week, when the lawn mowing service was set to come and I needed to get in the backyard and clean up the dog poop before they arrived so they would mow it.

I put on my dog poop shoes, grabbed the shovel, and entered the section of the yard designated “dog yard”. I was three piles into it when my eleven-week-old pregnancy hormones kicked in along with the smell and sight of my work, and I began throwing up. Repeatedly.

“It’s okay, Mommy!” my five-year-old Eva called. “I’ll go get you some water! Just stay there!”

“It’s okay, Honey!” I called to her, eyes blurry from tears and nose running, still gagging. “Mommy’s okay. But can you get me some tissue, too?”

I stood heaving next to the shovel for the two minutes my daughter hustled to help me out. I thought about stopping my task, as it obviously wasn’t going well. But I quickly remembered the lawn service won’t mow over the poop, and then I’d be stuck with overgrown grass and even more poop later.

Next, I thought about the dinner that still needed to be made, teeth that needed brushing, dishes that had to be cleaned, and the tuck-in and prayers that needed to be said. All still ahead of me, and I was the only one who was there to do it.

So, of course, I did it. A couple days later, as I reflected on that especially long day and evening, I thought it would be fun to play a game and see how many positive aspects of married single motherhood I could come up with. The following is my list.

Benefits of Being Married to a Long Distance Spouse

1. I’m Perfectly Capable of Doing Things Alone. I have no problem talking to doctors, looking at ultrasounds, getting kids to birthday parties, and attending functions by myself. I can shut the house down and get everyone into bed, snuggled and peaceful, all by myself. I can also get everyone up, fed, dressed, and out the door in the morning. Not saying that’s without a certain amount of raised voices or whatnot, but I get it done!

2. I Have Physical Strength. I can haul eight bags of groceries up my stairs, four in each hand, and then walk back down the stairs to retrieve sleeping children and pack them up the stairs one by one and lay them on the couch to continue their naps without waking.

3. I Value Women’s Friendships. I enjoy talking to my Jazzercise friends, fishing moms, preschool teachers, ballet and gymnastics moms, writers, bloggers, book group moms, and online moms who all offer so much support, encouragement, advice, and humor on all aspects of parenting.

4. I Enjoy Lots of Snuggle Time with the Kids. Each morning, we sit together on our extra-wide recliner to drink milk and coffee and watch the news. At night, we sit together on Eva’s bed for prayers, a song, and a group hug. I get the privilege of enjoying all this bonding and memory-making.

5. I Can Make My Own Decisions. If I constantly waited for G’s input or go-ahead to do things, I would do absolutely nothing. I’ve adopted two dogs, fostered dogs, purchased a couch and a chair, and looked at potential houses to buy all on my own. While I wouldn’t make any major decisions alone, G has full faith in my ability to make good decisions and to act on them.

6. I Am Available to Attend All of the Kids’ Activities. I’ve never had to miss a ballet performance, gymnastics show, preschool graduation, or swimming lesson. We have also taken road trips together, just the three of us, and have a good time listening to music, stopping for food, and making up new jokes.

7. I Have Total Remote Control. At night, I can flop on the couch and catch up on all the programs I like but that totally annoy G when he’s home.

8. My Kids Have a Special Bond With Their Grandparents. They absolutely love spending time with my parents. My dad recently spent a week building them a playground in the backyard, complete with an extra slide, telescopes, monkey bars, swings, and ship’s wheels. My mom took them to the mall last weekend to get pictures taken with their cousin and rode the mall train with them a time or two.

9. I Get To Hear All the Funny Things They Say. I laugh and then record in a journal their sweet little sayings. A couple of recent gems:

“You aren’t as smart as me, but you’re still a sweet Mommy.” –Eva, 5.

“You guys are ballerinas. We are working mans.” —Vincent, 4, referring to Eva and me, Daddy and him.

10. I’m Always Grateful for G’s Help When He’s Home. Each and everything he does to help out is huge, no matter how small or large the task, and I’m grateful not to have to “do everything.” Taking out garbage, sorting recycling, emptying the dishwasher…it’s all noticed and appreciated!

11. My Marriage is Never Boring or Annoying. Each time G arrives home from a fishing season is a momentous occasion of celebration. And because he’s not usually here for long after he does arrive, each hour and day and week is spent just happy to be together again. We never repeat conversations, badger each other, or become bored. There’s just no time!

Fishing marriages either disintegrate quickly or last forever. After eleven years of being together and nine years of marriage, I’m grateful that we’re as excited to see and spend time with each other as we were following the day we met.

12. My Kids Learn How to Get Along. The children are aware that it’s just them and me holding down the fort when Dad’s gone, so we have to cooperate and get along. If we say or do anything regretful, we quickly apologize, forgive, and move on. If the day was a total disaster, we sit together before bed and talk about how each new morning is a fresh chance to start over, try again, and do better.

13. My Kids’ Daddy Is a Hero. The kids ask every day about their dad. They want to know where he is, what he’s fishing for, who’s on the crew, when he’s bringing the boat home. When Daddy comes home, he’s their hero and he fills their little worlds with amazement, joy, and excitement. Then I get to sit back, relax, and let the three of them create their own memories and strengthen their bonds.

The Light At The End Of The Blackcod Tunnel’s In Sight!

I know I’ve been going a while longer in between posts, and it’s not that I don’t have anything to write or say (that would be a cold day in you-know-where!). It’s just that every time I sit down to type something, this 11-week old pregnancy nausea kicks in and I just can’t do it. It’s still pretty bad and again, much worse than I recall with the first two children.

I do remember that this horrible feeling did go away at week fourteen each time, though, so I hope that within a couple of weeks I will feel a lot better. I think G feels for me; he’s called me twice from sea via satellite phone which is something he does not do. I can’t even get him to pick the phone up 95% of the time on the rare occasion I call it!

Anyway, the first time he called, I wasted no time whining about how awful I’ve been feeling, how overwhelmed with the house and getting kids to and from activities, taking care of dogs, doing laundry, cooking, cleaning, shoveling dog poop, and everything else that we married single mothers do mostly alone. I said there was so much to do, I didn’t even know where to begin. Further, even if I knew where to begin, I was too tired to do so.

This is not like me at all, and nothing l’d say except when pregnant (or the kids and I are all sick). I come from stoic and hard-working stock on both sides of my family. We don’t whine and we don’t cry over being alone or working hard. But, hey. Sometimes it sneaks up on you. And the minute I heard G’s voice, it did.

“Just pay the bills, Hon,” George said. “Get the mortgage and credit card paid. Get the bills paid on time and don’t worry about the rest. And there will be checks arriving; get those in the bank. Do those things first and I’ll help you with the rest when I get home.”

“That’s not a lot of help,” I sniffed. “You won’t be home for like two months.”

“Actually, I’ll be home in about two weeks,” he said.

I was too ill too express much relief and joy over the news right then and there, but I’m thrilled. G and crew caught the halibut and blackcod quota quickly this year and the fish were big. Both of those things are excellent, especially the part where he comes home around three months earlier than last year.

Now, not only will G be around to help out for a bit without having to rush and get the boat ready for the next fishing season, but he’ll be able to attend the county fair with the kids and me, watch the kids’ swimming lessons, and even go to my parents’ beach house for a mini vacation. He’ll also be able to view an ultra sound in a few weeks and be there when we found out if our unexpected baby-in-the-making is a girl or a boy.

A Special Father’s Day for G…Father of Three?

About eight years ago, I started to wonder why G and I didn’t have any children. Specifically, I wondered why I could not seem to become pregnant. Everyone else seemed to have the answers, though. Here’s what I heard when the matter was brought up in discussion:

“You’re too anxious.”

“You drink too much.”

“You should stop smoking.”

“You worry too much.”

“George isn’t home enough.”

“You need to relax.”

“You just need a vacation.”

Not only were these comments offensive and uninformed, they made no sense. After all, I was relaxed. My days consisted of going to the gym, walking my dogs, doing a little freelance writing, with no real obligations or anything asked of me. Vacations? George and I went on vacations all the time back then, usually to sunny Florida where we enjoyed rustic beachfront hotels, sun, and surf. I had nothing to worry about or be anxious over, for G took care of everything.

I finally went in to see a doctor who could help. While G was in the middle of the crab season, my mom came down to stay with me for a week and I went in for an exploratory surgery. The surgery confirmed what I knew all along; there were two reasons why I was not conceiving any children. The doctor made a temporary fix and told us we had about three months to conceive before the fix ran out and I’d need to have surgery again or explore alternative options.

Long story short, we conceived Eva during the second month of that window. I called G via satellite phone in Alaska (now in the middle of the halibut and blackcod season) and shared the amazing news. When our miracle Eva was ten months old, and not wanting to take any chances on more delays or problems, we tried for a second baby and that’s how our second miracle, Vincent, came to be.

Flash forward six years, and we have two sweet, smart, and precious children. They are close in age, good friends, and the light of our lives. Now that they are “big kids,” we got rid of all of our baby things. Bye bye two changing tables, two cribs, two car seats. Goodbye bottles, pumps, Desitin, baby bags, tons of diapers in two sizes, high chair, swings, play gyms, blocks, and stacking toys.

Hey, pack your bags everyone! We’re taking trips again! The house is free of baby clutter! We have everything in order with a bit of energy to spare. The kids dress themselves, they’re easy to take everywhere, and becoming more independent everyday. For our baby fixes, we get to love our niece and cousin, “Baby Autumn” and go to Jazzercise and see sweet smiley Bella. Everything is perfect!

But wait…I don’t feel good. Something doesn’t feel quite right. Maybe I should count back some days and study last month’s calendar. Then I move to the computer for some quick research. Next, I go to the store for an unlikely purchase and make a joke to my friend, who is working the register. Cross your fingers, I say.

Back home, I unwrap the box—a three pack. (You girls know what I’m talking about.) I take one. My eyes must be tricking me. I try the second. What? I move onto the third. No way.

I sit on the surprise and shock for ten days before I can reach George, once again in the middle of the Alaska blackcod and halibut season, via satellite phone.

“You’re going to be really mad,” I say. In retrospect, that was probably not the best opening I could have come up with. George thought I had bought a new car! By the end of the conversation, I’m sure he was wishing it was only a new car.

Now nine weeks along and slowly overcoming the shock, it looks like George is going to be a father of three. This has been an extremely long several weeks. Wow. How to sort it all out? With thanks to my Jazzercise friends, the crew, our families, and a book or two, we are slowly getting used to the idea.

I’ve seen the heartbeat on the ultrasound screen and could not believe my eyes. That little peanut with the strong beating heart blew me away. It reminded me what a miracle growing life is, and what a strange thing to be experiencing it again after all the heartache and grief we went through to get our family started in the first place. 

I have a lot of questions, though. Aren’t we too old for this? How on earth did this happen? How will I ever nurse a baby all night and then get up to take my two other children to kindergarten and preschool every morning? How will I take care of three children under six, often without G? And for that matter…will I be giving birth without him this time? The baby is due during the most critical portion of the crab season in January. He absolutely cannot miss that part, for it’s a huge amount of our income for the year. If he cannot be here, which friend will I choose to help me?

Aaah. As my dear friend Amanda pointed out, that’s why we have nine months of pregnancy. Time to get used to the surprise, time to work it all out and get used to the idea of a new direction for the family. G has been a real trooper; shocked and confounded at first and experiencing a bit of denial, he has come around as he always does. Thanks also to our crew; you guys are beyond awesome. They were genuinely excited and full of congratulations for George, and as I’ve experienced, that support, understanding, and joy carries you through the doubt and concern.

Oddly, once this new baby is born, there will be about a dozen kids among G, Bryan, Brett, Johnny, and Oscar. What a great boat family, Jazzercise family, and blood family to belong to. Love all of you so much!

So, Happy Father’s Day, George. I love you for your hard work, loyalty, dedication, strength, perspective, humor, and acceptance for what is. Your two—possibly three—children love you, and so do I. More than words could ever, ever express. I would not want to go through one day of my life without you.

Once Again, Debunking Commercial Fishing Stereotypes

Two years ago, I wrote an informal post about one of the most common commercial fishing stereotypes, which is the drunken fisherman. You can access that post by clicking here. It’s been a while since I’ve come across anything unusually offensive concerning our industry and lifestyle, but last week I was reminded that some people still just don’t get it.

I walked through the doors to pick up my five-year-old daughter, Eva, and my almost-four-year-old-son, Vincent, from one of their summer activities just as one of the teachers was helping Vincent put his boots on the correct feet.

“I just love his little Xtra Tuffs!” she called to me, looking up with a smile.

“I know!” I said. “Aren’t they the cutest? He loves to dress just like Daddy.”

Vincent stands up in his backwards boots (“I like them like that,” he says) and adjusts his oversized gray hooded “Alaska Ship Supply/Dutch Harbor” sweatshirt. He locates a random gentleman in the room, looks up at him and announces, “My daddy is in Awaska. He catches cwab and backcod.”

(Translation: “My daddy is in Alaska. He catches crab and blackcod.”)

“That’s right, Buddy,” I say, beaming. “Daddy is in Alaska. And you get to ride the forklift with Daddy when he’s home, don’t you?”

My little boy is the spitting image of George. In fact, one of his nicknames is Mini G. Vincent is the only boy in either of our families; George and I each have two sisters and no brothers, and Vincent has five girl cousins. He’s the only grandson on either side. He loves boats, forklifts, trucks, and the harbor. Surrounded primarily by girls and women, he adores his dad and grandpa.

“Daddy has a gween boat,” he likes to say. “When I gwow up, my boat is going to be bue and it will be bigger than Daddy’s boat.”

(Translation: “Daddy has a green boat. When I grow up, my boat is going to be blue and it will be bigger than Daddy’s boat.”)

Anyway, I look from Vincent to the gentleman, expecting the stranger to say something kind to my sweet little boy, who happily looks up at him with dark green eyes.

“Well,” the man says, looking down at Vincent. “Hopefully you will go to college so you won’t have to be a fisherman.”



My mind races with surprise and disgust. Seriously. Are you kidding? Long ago advice from my sister comes to mind. Don’t unleash the beast!

“Well,” I reply, slowly. “As a matter of fact, we are fifth generation fishermen, and everyone in this last generation did go to college.” (Our degrees include two education, one environmental policy, one English and one accounting.) “We have been successful, often as captains.”

I didn’t bother to mention that my grandfather, the son of Croatian immigrants, started kindergarten without knowing a word of English. When he had to leave school in eighth grade to help support his family, it was with a straight-A report card. I also decided not to mention that there is nothing more rude and inappropriate than looking down at a four-year-old-boy and basically telling him to not be like his daddy (who as a commercial fisherman and human being is one of the sweetest, smartest, mentally and physically tough, strongest, humorous, and capable people I know).

I stopped short of mentioning that commercial fishermen are not all a bunch of uneducated, alcoholic, bumbling idiots. And that one of the smartest and wealthiest IFQ holders in Alaska happens to be the son of a New York attorney, and he chose to fish for a living. Fishermen are also church elders, volunteer coaches, property owners, tax payers, and real estate investors.

Captains must have business sense, for they deal with hundreds of thousands of dollars—if not millions—in gear, fishing vessels, permits, quota, crew shares, and the like. They must adhere to strict national and state regulations, keep detailed logs and figure out where to find the fish, and once the fish are caught, deal with the marketing end of things. Fishermen have mental and physical endurance unmatched by most, and they must juggle the white and the blue collar ends of things simultaneously and well.

Even my own neighbor, a lawyer, claims it’s too difficult to work with fishermen because “they don’t pay their taxes”. Uh, what? Tell that to the captains and deckhands who, because they often make a lot more money than most, also pay more taxes than most. And I guarantee you, our taxes are a lot more complicated than anyone could imagine. That’s why there are maritime accountants that specialize in this field.

Are there deadbeat dad fishermen? Alcoholics? Cocaine addicts? Broke? Cheaters? Of course. Have school teachers slept with their students? Have Wall Street brokers stolen money from clients? Are there alcoholic mothers? Adulterous doctors? Lawyers that owe back child support? Yes, and college degrees have nothing to do with any of it.

But for Pete’s sake, let’s hope Vincent goes to college so he won’t have to become a fisherman. God forbid he go on a boat and work his way from greenhorn to deckboss to first mate to captain. Let’s hope he never knows an honest day’s work and the thrill of standing in a deckload of shimmering sockeye salmon, bringing up line after line of halibut, or haul in pots filled with crab. Hopefully he’ll never learn to work as a team or laugh like crazy as he tells fishing stories.

With any luck, he won’t make lasting memories, lifelong friendships, or take the boat where nobody else goes and look in awe at mountains and islands. Hopefully he won’t enjoy watching dolphins chase the stern or dance about the bow, or be caught by surprise when whales jump out of the ocean’s surface. Why would he want to fall asleep to the gentle rock of a boat or collapse in his bunk, exhausted and spent from his own hard work?

Why would anyone want to make more money in two months than most of America does in over a year of nine-to-five? Who’d want to have months of time off to spend with their family? And for goodness sake, let’s hope Vincent never has a bad season when gear broke down, the fish weren’t there, or the price was terrible. Then he’d have to learn how to save his money, plan for the future, and invest wisely. Who’d want to work in the fresh salty sea air, free and independent? No, I’d never want him to experience any of that.

I decided to get feedback from others in the commercial fishing community via e-mail and our Facebook group, Commercial Fishing Families & Friends. The following (with minor edits) is some of that feedback.

**It could also be that he sees the commercial fishing business as a very dangerous occupation based on what he sees on TV and reads (which it is) and hopes Vince finds a safer occupation when he grows up.

**OMG, I am really shocked. That is a horrible thing to say to anyone.

**Off the top I would say the guy’s response to Vincent, besides being thoughtless, uninformed and boorish, is similar to any comment anyone would make when they feel they have an understanding of any topic, but don’t, in this case commercial fishing.

He evidently feels Vincent’s dad has been ‘sentenced’ to fishing by default, with no other career choices. He obviously sees commercial fishing and fisherman as prefaced by the word ‘common’.

This type of thinking is frankly not too unusual if your only example of commercial fishing is how we are portrayed by reality TV shows like “Most Dangerous Catch’. When fishermen are portrayed as unshaven, yelling, over-reactive, high testosterone, swearing men, who are always getting themselves out of some self- imposed or contrived mess, they are seen as hardworking, but dumb or lucky. Certainly someone you would like to talk to but not have over for dinner. And you certainly wouldn’t want your daughter to associate with one of them.

The fact that most skippers are generally very intelligent, have many skills, are well organized business men who enjoy not working a 9-5 schedule, with families and generally make a lot more money than the general population is never portrayed. Commercial fishermen are often seen as ‘buffalo hunters’ or ‘gold stampeders’ with no families, bank associations, hobbies, kids (that they know of), or any life that approximates other men. In fact, of my crew, five of six were married, three had college degrees, nobody on the boat yelled at each other, no drugs and no drinking problems. Many skippers had their sons fishing with them, and like me, many got college degrees and then went back into fishing.

**What a moron. His statement was not only insensitive but extremely short sighted in my opinion. So many people in the United States believe that higher education is a must to be successful and to question education is unthinkable. Look at all the kids these days that are forced to move home after college because the jobs are non existent and the debt for their education is insurmountable without said job. Whether education is worth the high price is starting to be examined by members of the “American intelligentsia” I read an article just last week on Peter Theil (Pay Pal cofounder and multi billionaire) He believes that we will experience an education bubble not unlike the housing bubble. Anyway, he is putting his money where his mouth is and is offering up $100,000 to twenty kids under twenty to leave school for two years and start businesses instead. I think that’s awesome.

**I have come to the conclusion that there are two kinds of people; those that produce something, and those that leech off the work of others. Our society seems to reward the leeches!

**Ugh. SO annoying. My favorite is when people say, “Oh, you can actually make enough money to live off of that?”. I politely point out that yes, we do live off of the money earned from fishing. Oh and surprise, surprise, we are both college educated and Mike paid for all of his Bachelor’s degree and college expenses with fishing every summer since the age of 13. We appreciate hard work over video games and sloppy teenagers that sit around the house all summer long. Oh and by the way, do you like salmon? Well, next time you are in a restaurant where you demand to know if the salmon is a wild Alaskan salmon, go ahead and give us a huge thank you for risking our lives to bring you your delicious meal. I hope it wasn’t too expensive, with all of your student loans you are still paying off.

**I went to an anniversary party out of state last week and a guy said what do you do, I said I fish for lobsters. He said yeah I know, but whats your real job? I said that’s it except for crabs and a little shrimping…he looked a little puzzled and said ohhh……

**I am glad that you took the time to put into words your thoughts and reflections of the situation. Hopefully it will educate those out there that don’t know the value of growing up in a commercial fishing family.

I have a letter that my maternal grandmother wrote over thirty years ago where she stated that my father had been “fishing since he was knee high to a seal” she went on in admiration about his perseverance and work ethics. I was blessed to have spent two summers fishing with him in Bristol Bay and witnessing the skill and knowledge it takes to run a boat effectively. I learned so much from him.

 When one of my coworkers heard that I was headed north with him to fish he felt it necessary to warn me about the “Aleuts that walk around drunk and carry guns.” I replied “Really… that’s strange… my father doesn’t do that…” He was looked at me with a confused look on his face and said, “What?” I replied… “Yeah, my father is Aleut, and he isn’t a drunk… nor does he carry a gun.”

I used it as a teaching moment, and I am still good friends with this individual. There are so many stereotypes out there unfortunately. My father had limited schooling, but maximized the skills that he was born with. Fishing runs in our family’s blood. There are a lot of youth that could stand to spend some time on a boat and learning the discipline and work ethics that goes along with it.

**I see nothing wrong with going to college…a good education in business management would help to manage all the $$ your son gets from fishing and he will know how to invest and plan for a future. So many people think fishermen are dumb or at the least uneducated. I know fishermen that have electrical engineering degrees, one who is a math wonder and a few who are just a little crazy and well loved. My point is do what ya love, not what the world wants ya to do.

(Image borrowed from The Faces of California Fishing group on Facebook)

Bloggy Boot Camp is Finally Here!

I’m excited that the weekend of Bloggy Boot Camp has finally arrived. I registered for the event several months ago after a blogger I admire raved about her experience at the San Francisco boot camp. Bloggy Boot Camp only goes to six major cities per year, so I was pleased to discover it was coming somewhere nearby.

I’ve got my hotel reservations and I just can’t wait to get to the hotel and kick back in the room. Aaaah. No cleaning, no cooking, nobody calling my name. Just me, chillin’ with the television and a book on an overstuffed down bed. Of course, the bliss will last for about ten minutes before I start feeling weird that I don’t have any little ones or dogs with me, and I start pacing and wondering what I should do next.

I have no idea what insights and things about blogging that I’ll learn at the boot camp, but I’m sure looking forward to the experience. On top of it all, the sun is finally supposed arrive in the gloomy Puget Sound, so when I return I hope I’m welcomed by sunshine.

I’ve been glued to the television all week, which is not like me at all. I’ve spent the past eight days closely watching the Casey Anthony trial out of Florida. Like millions of other people, I find the entire case mind-boggling, and it’s incredible to watch now that the trial is finally happening. My Eva was born only four months after the allegedly murdered Caylee Anthony, so the case hit a spot with me. I feel terrible for the entire family, especially the grandparents. In my opinion, Twitter and HLN has had the best coverage of the trial so far, and it’s supposed to last another few weeks.

On a lighter note, here are some fun Plinky prompts I’ve been thinking about.

1. Name your favorite type of cookie. I don’t really care for cookies, actually. If I do eat cookies I like chocolate chip, slightly undercooked and soft. I don’t like crispy chocolate chip cookies.

2. What are you saving up for? Well, I don’t have money coming in so I’m not technically saving for anything, but as a household we are planning for another trip to Hawaii next year, so we are saving our credit card miles and making sure we set aside play money. I think we’re selling one of our trucks and buying an SUV as well, so we’re setting aside money for that.

3. Describe the worst flight you’ve ever taken. The worst (scariest) flight was on a small plane coming home from the Edmonton mall in Canada. It was stormy, the plane was shaking, the turbulence was awful, and we dropped several feet repeatedly throughout the entire flight. The jolting was nerve-wracking and I was terrified.

4. What are you indecisive about? Books. I never know which one, or which topic, to read when I have a moment to sit. Parenting? Memoir? Fiction? Books on writing? Self improvement? Diet? Spirituality?

5. Schools out! Share a graduation story. Last week I watched Eva graduate from preschool. So precious. I walked into the living room of her in-home preschool and almost cried when I saw Eva and all of her little friends sitting in a semi-circle of chairs with homemade graduation caps on their heads. They all looked so sweet and proud and excited. Teacher Sara said a few words about each graduate, presented them with diplomas, and made a notebook of their work for the year which included a personal letter to each child. She said she enjoyed Eva’s funny comments, her interesting questions, and couldn’t wait to see how Eva’s flair for art and color would continue to develop in the future.I was so proud of my first-born baby girl!!

We did it!

Post Grad Cupcakes

Eva and her BFF, Ke'ala

(By the way, does anyone know when the iPhone 5 is coming out? It was supposed to be June. I’ve been waiting and waiting! I can’t wait to upgrade my iPhone’s picture and video quality!)

Waiting Impatiently

I’m currently waiting for G to call from somewhere around Kodiak because I have a message for him. The last time I talked to him was ten days ago for a few minutes. I hoped he would check in via e-mail or the satellite phone in the meantime, but he hasn’t! I take that as a good sign that they’re into the halibut and blackcod and he’s so busy and exhausted he doesn’t have one spare bit of energy to call. I’m anxious to hear how the fishing is!

I never call the satellite phone myself because it just makes me more frustrated. And I always end up calling the wrong satellite phone from the wrong phone which can be costly. Several years ago we had a home phone bill for about $4000 and just recently, my cell phone bill was around $400 or something because I didn’t realize it was an international call and I was being charged. Whoops! George doesn’t often answer the sat phone anyway because he’s on deck working and I end up just calling repeatedly and getting more and more frustrated when there’s no answer. So it’s better just to chill and wait impatiently for him to get into cell coverage and give me a call when it’s a good (and cheap) time.

Vincent had a virus and cough for about two weeks, and just when we thought it was over, it settled into the croup. It actually hit me as well for about ten days, and I never get sick! And just when I thought Eva was going to skate through free and clear, she got it as well. We did make it through the fall, winter, and most of the spring without any sicknesses, though, so I still think we did well this year. Hopefully soon the sun will shine and that natural vitamin D will do everyone a bit of good.

Until then we keep on waiting….

Couldn't resist picking up this bottle of red.

Sick sleeping Vincent.

Sick sleeping Eva.

My dad, hanging loose in Honolulu with Mom! Could I be more jealous?


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Behind the Blog Redesign

From the moment I came up with the idea to start a blog about commercial fishing families and launched Highliners and Homecomings in 2007, I’ve consistently changed the look of the blog. Not drastically, but little by little. I’ve changed the header picture frequently and maintained a growing blogroll on writing, commercial fishing, and various other topics by friends and bloggers I’ve come across in my Internet travels.

Then, with the purchase of the CSS upgrade and studying a few books on the subject, I was able to change fonts, add borders, change colors, and add backgrounds all on my own. And of course, my favorite thing of ALL is to grab cool widgets and add them to my own sidebar. That’s a ton of fun. Sure, it made my blog busy and lose its focus a bit, but I couldn’t resist.

“Wow, Hon,” George always said when he logged in. “You’ve sure got a lot going on here!”

At the same time, though, G encouraged me to keep the theme when I complained I felt limited and to keep learning CSS. He also liked the pictures and backgrounds. “It’s all very interesting to look at,” he’d say.

Tinkering with my blog was a fun little hobby. Still, I was bored and wanted to make it better. So when I saw Keith’s ad in the newsletter for the local writer’s association about website design, I sent an e-mail. We met at a coffee shop and went over the basics.

“Basically, here’s the sitch,” I said.

“I’m a writer. So when agents, editors, bloggers, or other writers come to my blog, it needs to look good. I write about commercial fishing families. That’s my official platform, although I publish some outside of that. My family is a fifth-generation fishing family. I have two children. I want the blog to bring in the fishing wives and moms, but also the fishermen. Keeping my non-fishing readers is essential. I need to combine the masculine and the feminine. I don’t want it to look like I’m still fishing myself or that it’s written by a fisherman, but that I’m still involved, in a different capacity. What do you think?”

“I think you have a lot going on here,” Keith said. “We just need to dial it in.”

“I know,” I said. “We do.”

So, we got to work. We had more than a few laughs as Keith patiently implemented my ideas for color and borders, then let them sit on the screen for a while and worked on other parts of the blog as I studied the results.

(I’ve always loved color. I painted the walls of my first home office bright pink, I have pink hair mascara, and I love hair, body, and eye glitter. I take the white shoe laces out of new athletic shoes and replace them with hot pink and neon green and bright purple. I call it color; my sisters call it clowny. The clown factor does make its way into the things I create on a regular basis.)

“I don’t think those are working,” I’d finally say.

“I’m glad you’ve arrived at that conclusion,” Keith would reply, giving me a little pat on the back before deleting the work.

I’d never seen photo shop in action before and laughed like crazy as he piece-by-piece erased people I didn’t want in pictures. “There goes his hand, there goes his hat…”

And I was amazed again and again as we worked with the header, fonts, and looked for images and moved them around and around. Some of the words in the header are actually taken from a story I’d written, and the font for “Highliners and Homecomings” is called Lobster. Obviously our boat doesn’t fish for lobster, but it’s a fishy font we deemed appropriate. It was incredible the way Keith came up with idea after idea and moved and switched and photo shopped like it was the easiest thing in the world.

Working on the new blog design was scary but a lot of fun. Keith is a quiet and understated guy with a great sense of humor. I encourage you to bounce some of your own ideas off him and see what he can do for you. He doesn’t work with amateur bloggers often, so I am grateful he took time off from corporate websites to have fun with a chick like me and a blog like mine. His contact info is at the bottom of this post. Thanks again, Keith! I love the results. It’s calmer, smoother, and balanced.

I think we dialed it in.

Keith Turley

When Your Fisherman Leaves And You’re Sad…

Here are ten helpful tips I’ve come up with that have helped me get by in these first two days since George left for the halibut and blackcod season this last time around!  Normally it is not that big of a deal when he leaves. We miss him of course, but we are used to it as part of the way we live. This time was just a bit different as G did not have hardly any time off in between seasons and of course, we are missing both G and Toby this time and that is all new. Anyway, here are my personal tips…

Jen’s Tips:

  1. If you have to get up the next day and get going, get up and get going. I knew that Eva had preschool early the morning after George steamed out of the harbor, so I set the alarm and we just got up and got to it. There was no other choice, and it was important for Eva to stick to her schedule and see her friends.
  2. Get your exercise. After we dropped Eva off at preschool, Vincent and I went directly to Jazzercise. I was tired, sad, and felt like a ton of lead, but it was equally important for Vincent and I to see our friends and for me to hear good music, have some laughs, and get some endorphins moving. (Thanks, Cutzi!)
  3. Clean. I love to clean. I find the white noise of the vacuum cleaner comforting and the folding of laundry therapeutic.
  4. Stick to your plans. As much as you want to cancel your appointments and the things you have lined up, don’t. You’ll feel good that you are moving forward and accomplishing things already all on your own.
  5. Go grocery shopping. The kids and I went shopping and filled the fridge and cupboards with good and healthy food. We even received compliments at the store regarding how much we picked out and how well behaved and helpful the kids were! And now we have plenty of milk, orange juice, cucumbers, and meat.
  6. Put a status update on Facebook. I updated my status and posted a picture of the boat leaving and was immediately warmed by the encouragement and well wishes I received in return.
  7. Have a friend as back up. When I returned home from the harbor, my friend Lisa was already here. She helped with my dog Mandy and was good company to us all until she had to go.
  8. Don’t drink extra glasses of wine. You may think you’re doing okay, but that extra glass could send you in a direction you don’t want to go. Not that I would know anything about that. :)
  9. Make a big bowl of fresh buttered popcorn and curl up on the couch to catch up on 90210 on the DVR. I was a fan of the original 90210 and I will go ahead and admit that even at my age, I’m a fan of the new one, too! The combination of popcorn and 90210 always makes me feel better. Just ask George!
  10. Hug your kids. Laugh at the funny things they do and say. If you don’t feel well, let them spend time away so you can think and get organized. Love them and kiss them. Be proud of them. Feel grateful for your whole family, your friends, and all of the people you interact with each day who love you and support your family’s lifestyle.