A Successful & Sunny Week

It’s been a big week around here. On Wednesday evening, I returned home with the little ones to discover the June issue of National Fisherman had arrived, in which I’ve got a big story and pictures! I was thrilled, to say the least.

It’s no secret to anyone who knows us that I’ve had trouble adjusting to George’s new fishing schedule of late. It’s amazing that my own story on commercial fishing wives came out just when I was having a tough time myself.

“Girl, you need to read your own story,” said our good friend and G’s longtime crew member, Bryan.

Reading it again certainly encouraged me and I hope it did for others who read it.

Jerry Fraser, the editor of National Fisherman, also gave me a generous shout-out in the front of the magazine. Jerry happened to be out on the West Coast this week, so the kids and I got to spend an early sunny morning visiting with him and Diversified Communication’s advertising expert, Susan Chesney.

In other writing news, my contribution made it into the “Proudest Writer Mama Moments from the Past Year” celebration on The Prosperous Writer blog, maintained by Christina Katz (author of Writer Mama and Get Known Before the Book Deal).

Now, I’m cleaning the house top to bottom. I don’t just mean vacuuming and wiping down counters, either. I mean getting rid of things to the Goodwill, scrubbing walls, washing windows, wiping picture frames, and cleaning cabinets. My house is usually pretty clean…but now it is super clean. Why all the effort?

George’s longtime friend and partner, Nick (and his lovely wife, Sally) are coming to visit tomorrow. You probably know Nick from the Alaskan Leader, Shemya, and Bristol Leader companies, as well as many other fishing-related businesses and ventures. Anyway, I haven’t seen Nick or Sally in a few years, and I want to make sure everything is ship-shape.

It’s been an incredible week of writing, publishing, encouragement, friendship, and celebration.

Have a great weekend!

**Oh, update. George just told me that East Coast photographer David Hills will be arriving at our home in about 45 minutes. So glad I got a start on the house early this morning!!

Anyone else coming that I should know about!? All are welcome! :-)

National Fisherman Editor Jerry Fraser with Susan Chesney

Future Jazzercise Instructor!

Mother’s Day–Thank You.

Being the mother in a commercial fishing family is an interesting endeavor. You’re here, you’re there, you’re up, you’re down, you’re winning, you’re losing…it’s hard to keep up.

I’m going to go ahead and keep it real. Last night, I was in tears. Why? I was a bit sad, because my husband informed me he’d be fishing more IFQs than usual this year, which means he’ll be gone even longer than usual. This was on top of a similar pronouncement a few months ago.

Then I woke up this morning and I was in tears again. Why? I was surprised and happy! I had a “Happy Mother’s Day” balloon waiting for me that was bigger than my two-year old, a vase of purple tulips on our dining room table, and two cards: one from George, and one from the kids and dogs.

This morning at Sunday School, the kids made Mother’s Day cards with their handprints on them. Of course, I welled up again. And then, while watching the Cold Case finale today, I shed a few more tears.

Eva wanted to know why Mommy keeps crying.

I hugged Eva and explained that sometimes when we love people so much it makes us cry. I told her that she and her brother were my little angels and all I ever wanted, along with their daddy who always does his best, whether or not Mommy understands it all. Sometimes people are so grateful it fills them up and spills over.

Happy Mother’s Day, ALL! (Especially to my own commercial fishing mom, who is spending the next three weeks in Hawaii with my dad. Nice!)

Here are two pictures of our day, along with the poem that was inside the handprint card my babes gave to me.

Thank You

I Love You Bunches, Mom!

(A poem from the kids’ Sunday School)

I miss you when we’re not together

I’m growing up so fast.

See how big I’ve gotten

Since you saw me last?

As I grow, I’ll change a lot,

They years will fly right by.

You’ll wonder how I grew so quick

When and where and why?

So save this card in a safe place,

And take it out each year.

The memories will come back of me,

When I was small and dear.

Vacation, Here We Come

We finally made it out of town. It’s going to be a relief to get a break from the dreary rain and go someplace bright and cheerful.

We’re on the road in the big Ford truck and listening to the Best of Crystal Gayle. Vincent’s asleep in the back and Eva is asking for something to eat. I’m typing this post from the iPhone while G does the driving.

So far, so good!

We are coordinating this small trip with the Dungeness Crab Association meeting George is attending on Monday, but that’s fine by me. I’m so ready to get out of town and see something different I’d have gladly gone anywhere at all!

Love my house and my fam, but boy do we all need a little vacation. So glad we are on our way! :-)

Your Daddy’s Home, Sweet Pea.

Well, my children can rest easy, for their daddy has finally arrived. I told Eva yesterday that George would be coming into the harbor in the middle of the night, and at 2:00 a.m., a sleepy Eva woke up and asked me quietly, “Did Daddy come home?”

It was so sweet. It made me remember the thrill of being a young girl myself and waking up with so much joy, knowing Dad was home. She also made me smile yesterday when I came up from downstairs and found her sitting at the dining room table. She looked up and asked, “Did you find Daddy downstairs?”

Well, we found him today at the harbor unloading halibut. We talked with two of the crew, Bryan and Cole, who were sweet and cheerful, and George surprised us all by appearing with a new beard! I didn’t even recognize him! He walked toward us and I’m not kidding, I had to peer at his approach to make sure it was him. That was funny!

Here’s a pic of George and the kids. I’m not sure what they think of his new look, but this picture gives a pretty good idea. I think it looks pretty good!

The kids don't know what to make of Daddy's new beard!

Crossing the Gulf of Alaska

A couple of weeks ago, George called to say he was on his way home with a load of halibut. And then a few days passed, and then another few. People said, “I thought G was coming home?” And I said “I know! I haven’t heard from him since he told me he was on his way.”

Of course, it occurred to me later that he had go catch the halibut and then cross the Gulf of Alaska, all of which takes quite a few days. I finally heard from him a couple of nights ago and he was in Ketchikan. He should finally be home late tomorrow night!

I hope G doesn’t get too involved with boat work while he is home so we can have more than a day together during his few weeks off. The kids are so excited to see him. Sometimes they get confused and think he is home but just downstairs. They’ll call for him from the top of the stairs, “Dada!” and I laugh quietly and tell them Daddy is still fishing.

This morning, my four-year old Eva brought out a little green shirt and said, “I’m going to wear this shirt from Alaska that Daddy got me. My favorite Daddy. Named George.”

I’m glad he is coming home soon because he’s definitely got two tiny little kids champing at the bit to see him.

I woke up this morning and turned on the news just in time to hear an interview with one of the surviving crewmembers from the 75-foot fishing vessel, the Northern Belle, that sank crossing the Gulf of Alaska yesterday. His story is heartbreaking, and his voice was so full of sorrow and pain it brought me to tears. He spoke about getting everyone off the boat and of their captain, who didn’t make it. The boat sank in three to five minutes. The interview will be up on the King 5 news website later today.

My family knows what it is to lose a man to the sea, as do so many of us in the commercial fishing industry. God Bless that captain, the crew, and the boat, as well as every other boat and fisherman currently at sea. It’s no joke out there.

A Change in the Fish Plan!

The big news of the week is that George has totally altered his fish plan! Wow. This is an extremely rare occurrence. I’ve got two weeks to get used to the idea and to change every single plan I made for the summer and spring. Those plans were made based up on the fact that he would be gone in the spring and home in the summer.

Now, he’s coming home for the rest of the spring and will be gone all summer.

It’s a little disappointing, because I’d really looked forward to a summer together as a family and I know George did as well. I also had a big writer’s conference to attend this summer, during which George was going to care for the little ones. He feels terrible about no longer being available, especially since I already canceled my trip to the Elite Instructor Jazzercise Conference because he wasn’t going to be here. Fortunately, I have wonderful family and friends here who are more than willing to help figure out a way to make the writer’s conference possible.

The good thing is that George will now be home for the huge Memorial Day festivities in our town. The bad thing is that our trip down to the Great Wolf Lodge will occur two months earlier than usual, which means I have hardly any time to shake the (at least) ten pounds of winter weight I put on!

I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right. I teach Jazzercise and no, I don’t overeat or eat junk. How could I have weight to lose? Heck–forget why or how, it’s time to get moving and quick! G is coming home and we have places to go!

Off I go now to re-arrange babysitting, Jazzercise schedules, parade participation, weekends away, childcare, and most importantly, prepare myself pasta alfredo a salad for dinner.

Hey, I do it all in love. After all, G is on his way home! Can’t beat that, no matter why, when, or what-for!

Helping Grandpa and J.T. measure siding.

Jen’s Favorites of the Week

Jen’s Favorites of the Week

1. Foursquare. Love annoying my two sisters, brother-in-law, and friend John with where I’m at and what I’m doing each day. Foursquare allows me to announce and spout off about things that my Twitter and Facebook friends couldn’t care less about.

2. The fact that when George isn’t fishing, he goes to the Sea Life Center in Alaska so he can sit and look at fish.

3. Holding my babe on the couch. Because Vincent had a fever and a cough and couldn’t attend Easter festivities, I held him for three hours on Sunday like I used to do when he was an infant. (Eva got to attend Easter festivities at Grandma and Grandpa’s).  Not happy the kids are sick, but grateful I get to tend to them.

4.  Allison, my amazing babysitter/friend, who braved the kids’ illness  and came over this week so I could run errands that had to be run.

5.  Being honest. Although people may disagree, it feels good to move forward no longer wondering.

My sweet, sick, sleeping baby boy on Easter.

“Author Mama” by Christina Katz

When I was a younger gal, I decided that writing was the career/hobby/passion for me. I’d been a lifelong journal writer and reader of all books from the word go. I chose English Literature as my major in college simply because it combined two of my primary interests: Reading and Writing.

After college, my dad encouraged me to reach out to a magazine from whom I ended up getting an incredibly lucky break: National Fisherman and its editor, Jerry Fraser. I got to travel up and down the West Coast and Alaska writing about a subject I knew and cared a lot about: commercial fishing.

I met my husband while on assignment for National Fisherman, and we started a family as soon as we could. We also bought my family’s multi-generation commercial fishing business. I was busy! New husband, new mom, new business.

Goodbye, writing!

Until, that is, I saw a notice in my local paper that Christina Katz, author of Writer Mama: How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids, was speaking at a local bookstore that night.

Seven months pregnant and a one-year-old in my arms, I attended that reading. I began taking classes, reading, and listening to any and all advice Christina had to offer. I’ve come to find out that Christina Katz is many things: bold, fun, friendly, smart, honest, and helpful.

The following is an interview with Christina Katz regarding her latest creation, an e-book called “Author Mama.”

An Interview with Christina Katz About Author Mama

April 2010

Why would you do an e-book after two traditionally published books? Why did you decide to write an e-book?

Like most traditionally published authors, who blog, teach and speak, I have a backlog of quality content to draw on and some of it, though not all of it, will lend itself to the e-book format. So I plan to write several e-books over time and Author Mama is the first. I have old sketchbooks full of ideas I’ve had over the years, which will lend themselves well to e-formats. Equal opportunity access to e-publishing technology offers all of us writers a lot more creative leeway than we have traditionally had, which can lead to exciting and fun possibilities.

Besides being in e-book format, how is Author Mama different from Writer Mama and Get Known Before the Book Deal?

Author Mama is the story behind how I landed my book deal for Writer Mama and then wrote the book. I wanted to describe in play-by-play form what writing a non-fiction book is like for the benefit of moms considering the possibility with the lessons I learned along the way. One of my students who is on the verge of querying agents with a nonfiction book proposal says that Author Mama “goes there.” In other words, it deals squarely with the rollercoaster ride that most first-time authors experience. The format of my traditionally published books is not as driven by my personal experience, even though it informs them both. In Author Mama, I include all of the books that I recommend first-time authors read before, during, and after the book deal, so they can become as informed and empowered as possible.

Who are the intended readers for Author Mama?

Well, my two traditionally published books don’t target the same exact audience and neither does Author Mama. When I wrote Author Mama, I had my Writer Mama readers in mind, but of those readers, I was specifically focused on anyone seriously considering writing a book someday. Not every writer mama wants to write a book someday. Some are perfectly happy writing and publishing articles. So Author Mama is a slice (a writing book), of a slice (for moms), of a slice (who are considering becoming an author some day), and therefore too small of an audience for a traditional publisher. But many of my students and fans have this question and would like to answer it for themselves. Author Mama is for them.

Did you have any hesitations about self-publishing?

Considering how much content I have sitting around languishing on my hard drives, I am sorry that it’s taken me this long. The person I had the hardest time convincing was myself. I’ve had some hang-ups about e-books that I’ve had to get over in order to move forward. As long as my work continues to serve the best interests of my readers, why wouldn’t I self-publish? I certainly have a lot more to offer than I would just letting it sit around collecting virtual dust. At this point in time, I feel like it would be foolish not to e-publish, even as I continue to write traditional books.

Are publishers anxious about traditional authors self-publishing? Doesn’t this undermine their business?

I think, when it comes to self-publishing the opportunity always exists to take the enlightened view or the fearful view. I have heard people in publishing make comments that authors self-publishing is terrible news, which is absurd. The fearful attitude is, “Oh no, if that author can self-publish, then we lose.” The enlightened view is that when the people you partner with are more successful it’s good for you too because it raises all boats. Besides, when all the folks involved in a partnership are empowered and come together because they want to be there, that’s good for the relationship. It’s important to have good boundaries and communication in business and know the difference between what’s yours, what’s not yours, and what is joint ownership. When you keep these things in mind, and communicate clearly, there is really nothing to fear but fear itself.

How do you keep people from “stealing” your e-book?

I can’t stop people from stealing my e-book. I am completely powerless over that aspect of e-publishing, as most of us are. However, my target audience is not teenage boys and young men, who are supposedly the folks who do most of the pirating, according to the experts who study these trends. So I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. Also I don’t plan on giving my e-books away to avoid the impression that they are “freebies,” whereas with a traditional book I always do a lot of giveaways to get the content out into circulation. E-books are a lot easier to circulate. I can send one to you in seconds. So at this time, I don’t see the point in giving them away and encouraging others to share them without permission. I’d prefer to sell them to a smaller, more exclusive audience, who will see the value and, hopefully, respect my copyright.

What are three major points you hope aspiring writers learn from reading Author Mama?

That landing a traditional book deal and delivering a well-written book is possible but not easy by any means.

That someone else has survived the rollercoaster of emotions that come part and parcel with a first traditional book deal and you can too.

That some writers actually give up along the way and don’t succeed at delivering their first book but this won’t happen to the writers who read Author Mama because forewarned is forearmed.

Is this book only for nonfiction writers or can fiction writers benefit from it too?

Author Mama is specifically about my nonfiction book writing process, which is different from the process for other genres like fiction or memoir. However, a lot of my readers, who write in other genres, have said over the years that they find a lot of takeaways in my nonfiction experience. Also, I fully expect Author Mama to convince a few readers to try writing a nonfiction book, who might have only considered themselves other types of writers or not even writers at all.

Can I order a print copy of Author Mama?

When the book comes out in the final version in May, I will make it available for purchase in print-on-demand format, as well as all the other e-formats. During April, while it’s in beta, Author Mama is available in PDF format, which means you can print it out and put it in a binder yourself, if you prefer a hard copy. I’ve invited the first readers to participate in the process, so I’ve included a feedback form with the e-book but participation is voluntary. However to sweeten the deal, I will provide those who share feedback on the beta version with the final version for free, after it’s updated in PDF form.

How can I order this e-book for someone as a gift?

Sure you can. When you place your order, simply submit their e-mail address in the notes section and I will e-mail the copy to them instead of to you.

Thanks for your questions about Author Mama. If you’d like to learn more, please visit http://christinakatz.com.

About Christina Katz, The Author Mama

Christina Katz has been teaching writers to cultivate thriving careers for the past decade. Many of her students start by writing short articles and work hard and long until they eventually succeed in landing traditional book deals. Christina is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform and Writer Mama, How to Raise A Writing Career Alongside Your Kids, both from Writer’s Digest Books.

In addition to writing books and articles, Christina publishes a weekly e-zine, The Prosperous Writer, hosts The Northwest Author Series, travels to writing conferences and literary events, and coaches a hundred writers a year. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia College Chicago and a BA from Dartmouth College. She lives in an idyllic cottage in Wilsonville, Oregon with her husband, daughter and far too many pets.

Keep up with Christina, if you can, at www.christinakatz.com.

National Blog Posting Month

I discovered something the other day that I’m really excited about. It’s National Blog Posting Month. I’m always up for a new challenge; for instance, I participated in and completed National Novel Writing Month (actually, I’m wearing my winner’s shirt right now!) and when I was informed I didn’t post frequently enough on this blog, I posted every day for a week.

National Blog Posting Month raises a whole new challenge. There is no way I have enough daily content to keep the readers of Highliners and Homecomings engaged for an entire month, but I want to accept this challenge. I’ve decided to spend the month of April getting ready for it. I will secure interviews and cover topics including commercial fishing, Jazzercise, writing, military life, and who knows what else. I can’t wait to tackle this!

Anecdote: I was driving the kids to Jazzercise yesterday. I looked in the rear view mirror at Eva and Vincent, like I always do. My heart filled with gratitude and joy at the sight of the two, who look like twins. I smiled and said, “I love you guys so much. God Bless Eva and Vincent!!”

Eva replied, “And God Bless our missing Daddy.”

I explained immediately that Daddy wasn’t missing. In fact, he was on the boat, providing for the family he loves so much.

Inquiring Minds Want to Know