Almost exactly one year ago this week, Liesbet, Mark, and Maya visited our home, via their RV Zesty. I wrote about our 4-hour visit HERE.
Liesbet and I spent part of the time discussing her work-in-progress memoir, PLUNGE, here just a manuscript on her Tablet
Liesbet Collaert’s articles and photos have been published internationally. Born in Belgium, she has been a nomad since 2003 with no plans to settle anytime soon. Her love of travel, diversity, and animals is reflected in her lifestyle choices of sailing, RVing, and house and pet sitting. Liesbet calls herself a world citizen and currently lives “on the road” in North America with her husband and rescue dog. Follow her adventures at www.itsirie.com and www.roamingabout.com.
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Now PLUNGE has made a big splash in the memoir world, and I’m pleased to feature Liesbet’s splendid memoir/travelogue here. Let’s start with a Q & A
Three fun facts about yourself
- I don’t have a phone
- I never took any writing or English literature classes
- I’ve been writing a diary every day since I was fourteen
You have been a writer for a long time, journaling and writing numerous articles for travel magazines. When did you realize you wanted to write a memoir?
Even though I enjoyed writing since a young age, at school and in my journals, I never saw myself turning this hobby into something or received awards. The only profession I had in mind as a teenager was teaching.
It wasn’t until I started submitting articles on our sailboat in the Caribbean that “real writing” became a part of my existence. Before that – after a year-long overland journey by truck camper in Mexico and Central America – I once played with writing a book. I didn’t even know back then (in 2007) that the story I had in mind was called a memoir.
During our sailing years, I jotted down anecdotes, thoughts, and experiences in WORD documents. This happened in English, while my diary remained in Dutch. These files, together with my blog It’s Irie, formed the foundation of what would become my first memoir, Plunge.
You’ve written your book about sea travel while leading a nomadic life traversing America. Describe an ideal day writing in your RV, Zesty.
The ideal day for productivity in a small space – with a big table that fits two laptops, solar panels to provide electricity, and reliable internet through AT&T most of the time – starts with being parked somewhere sunny for several days in a row. An extra benefit would be that my husband takes the dog for a long walk or leaves by bike, so I have the place to myself. I open my computer and dive in to write or edit for hours, forgetting about the rest of the world. Bliss! Until my companion(s) return and I say “Wow, you’re back already?” Or until I realize Maya needs water or a potty walk.
What was the hardest scene for you to write?
This question is hard to answer without giving too much away about Plunge, in which many themes are incorporated. Let me just say, the scenes that make the reader cry or hold their breath. Every single time I reread and edited the chapter Disaster in Puerto Rico, tears stained my eyes, despite knowing the story. It was the moment where loss became a part of my life..
What lessons have you learned along the path of writing and publishing your memoir?
Where do I start? I’m fortunate that writing (even in English) comes natural to me. I produced Plunge with a few elements in mind (present tense, novel-style suspense, engaging voice) and without researching the writing craft. I did read Your Life as Story by Tristine Rainier after finishing my first draft. It helped me focus on what’s most important in a memoir and which parts to cut.
I stumbled upon articles that were shared by blogging friends. Jane Friedman was a name that popped up a lot, so I subscribed to her newsletter years ago. Early on, I learned about the importance of beta readers, professional editors, proofreaders, and a cover artist.
But the real and tough learning curve began once I decided to self-publish. Phew! Stress, dedication, time commitment, patience, doubt, frustration, determination, you name it.
My tip for people who consider self-publishing (and something I plan to adhere to “next time”) is to NOT be on a tight deadline and remain vigilant and thorough with each step. Also, I wish I could have prepared some promotion ahead of time. By not calculating that in, I’ve been overwhelmed for six months straight and never allowed myself to enjoy the thrill of launching my debut book.
Tropical waters turn tumultuous in this travel memoir as a free-spirited woman jumps headfirst into a sailing adventure with a new man and his two dogs.
Join Liesbet as she faces a decision that sends her into a whirlwind of love, loss, and living in the moment. When she swaps life as she knows it for an uncertain future on a sailboat, she succumbs to seasickness and a growing desire to be alone.
Guided by impulsiveness and the joys of an alternative lifestyle, she must navigate personal storms, trouble with US immigration, adverse weather conditions, and doubts about her newfound love.
Does Liesbet find happiness? Will the dogs outlast the man? Or is this just another reality check on a dream to live at sea?
MY 5* REVIEW
“I’d rather regret the things I did than the things I missed out on,” declares Liesbet Collaert. Readers will soon discover that the author doesn’t miss out on much, embracing the nomadic life on land and sea wholeheartedly. In her memoir Plunge, the author pursues a life less ordinary, just as her subtitle suggests. . . (Read more here.)
Links for Blog and Book, Plunge
For general info on my blog, including purchase links: https://www.roamingabout.com/about-plunge/
To buy on Amazon (universal link): www.amzn.com/B08NHP3NHC
For eBook versions worldwide: https://books2read.com/plungememoir
For paperback distributors worldwide: https://www.ingramspark.com/how-it-works/distribute
For reviews on Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/book/show/55848458-plunge-one-woman-s-pursuit-of-a-life-less-ordinary
Even if you’ve already read Plunge, buy another copy for a friend. Books make great gifts!
Have you read PLUNGE?
What writers’ tips stand out in Liesbet’s list?
Have you traveled somewhere that would make a great story?