This is how we do it

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Chris DiCroce - author and songwriter.

We’re going to put a quick pause on our travel posts to tell you about a couple of cool things going on around here.

First, we were very excited to celebrate our 5-year boat anniversary this past Memorial Day weekend! Yes, on Memorial Day 2012, we hopped on board Vacilando (then named Sonrisa), and sailed out of Panama City, Florida, bound for the Chesapeake Bay. We were green, excited, and scared shitless.

We’d sold our house and almost everything in it for what was supposed to be a one-year experiment. That “experiment” continues 5 years later, brought to you from the Rio Dulce River in Guatemala.

What the… heck. Where did the time go?

The talk of anniversaries is the perfect segue for me to mention another upcoming benchmark. Last June, the 12th I believe, Melody gave me an early and unexpected gift for my then-approaching 50th birthday.

After publishing two non-fiction books, my dream to complete and publish a work of fiction was stuck at the gate. I had started and abandoned several drafts in frustration. The looming “Big 5-0” hung like December fog around my shoulders. I was ready for anything that might help. Melody was ready to toss me overboard. Cue the heavenly lighting effects. The angelic choir… Ahhhhhhhhhh.

Ladies and gentlemen, the James Patterson MasterClass.

MasterClass offers a variety of online courses that are taught by celebrities, teaching you how they do what they do, each one for less than $100. James Patterson teaches a course on how to write a novel.

James Patterson Masterclass teaches you how to write a novel

One morning, I got a lovely email announcing that his course had been purchased for me. The accompanying note said simply, “Because your wife believes in you.” No pressure there, huh?

Secretly, I was already having reservations. I had never read a single James Patterson book. I knew nothing except that he was one of the best-selling authors of our time. But I didn’t read mystery / crime novels and I certainly wasn’t trying to write one.

That said, while on a 10-day production job in Atlanta, I delved into the online course, watching all 22 classes in about 3 nights. It was incredibly enlightening to listen to someone so successful in their field describe their creative process. I really enjoyed his delivery as well. He was no bullshit.

But the thing that changed it all for me, that clicked on the bright light, was how he did his outline. I won’t go into all the details here but by the end of July, I had the outline for my first novel complete. August through November was spent in the library writing and re-writing. In January, when we left the states on the trip we’re currently on, I had a finished manuscript.

We spent the past few months editing and working on the book cover design and our marketing plan, and last week, almost one year to the day, and with the help of my amazing wife, Burning Man was published on Amazon for Kindle, and Barnes and Noble for Nook. In the very near future, it will be available as a paperback from your favorite local bookstore.

For those of you with commitment issues, you can get the first four chapters of Burning Man for FREE at

As an additional bonus and further inspiration to buy the book, it comes with a FREE 5-song soundtrack that you can download when you purchase the book in digital format. How’s that?

With your help and the help of many others, Burning Man had an incredible launch. If you’ve already read it… and you enjoyed it… please consider leaving a review on Amazon. A positive review helps us immensely.

So, this is how we do it. Making a living while cruising is tricky, but doable. On Vacilando, we have several plates spinning at the same time. Melody sells her fantastic, handmade, nautical jewelry through Maggie & Milly as well as freelance editing/proofreading, and helping other cruisers learn ways to make money via her blog, Saving to Sail. If that’s not enough she’s about to add a few new twists to the equation.

Me? I write. The purchases you guys make keep us afloat. Literally. You’ve all been incredibly supportive, reading along, commenting and hopefully making us better at what we do.  Thank you. From the bottom of our keel. Sorry… my jokes have not gotten better.

Wishing you all peace and love.

Chris, Mel, and the Jet-pack

P.S. A special thanks and shout-out to Mike from Boat Radio, who not only has a fantastic radio show, but he has been an incredible supporter and a great friend. Last week, he had us on again as guests on his show – if you missed our interview, you can listen here, and be sure to listen to some of his other wonderful interviews with other cruisers! Boat Radio has had over 600,000 downloads in less than a year at the time of this writing, so go see what all the fuss is about!