Giving Thanks for Good Friendships!

My friend Betty is arriving tomorrow for a five day visit. She is an American woman I met while studying Hebrew in Israel in the late 60s. Haven’t seen her since 1974, following the Cyprus War. It’s exciting to know we can share those “Remember when?” moments and celebrate being together.

Not sure she will recognize me when we meet at the Montevideo port tomorrow morning. Perhaps a “Welcome Betty!” sign will jar her memory. There aren’t many woman named Betty in South America.

Welcome BettyQ

Welcome Betty!

Take a moment and give thanks for your good, long-lasting friendships! Mine inspire me. I am blessed!

Exciting News! Travel Stories!

The Travel Highlights competition has closed and voting is open until midnight UK time on November 30th 2015. An excerpt from my new book, Good Morning Diego Garcia is included. To read and vote, go to


Lots of great travel stories! Read and vote for three of your favorites. You can vote daily. The Travel Stories and Highlights book is due for release on December 1st 2015 and is available for pre-order at: for 99p/99c.
Order your copy now.

Book cover redux

We asked your opinion of a couple of variations of a cover design we ordered (at the bottom of this page). Although nicely done, it was from a low-cost designer, which means the design process is fairly minimal. For a fixed price, you get a design, period (pretty much). We started looking through hundreds of photos, and found one that better conveyed the sense of turbulence (physical and emotional) that runs throughout the story.

So please have a look and share your thoughts!

What appeals to you, and what doesn’t, and why?

GMDG-wave-14 A) dark w/bubble

GMDG-wave-18 B) dark w/glow

GMDG-wave-16 C) light

GMDG-wave-14-sm    GMDG-wave-18-sm    GMDG-wave-16-sm



Cover for Good Morning Diego Garcia!

It’s an exciting time for me. I’ve finished writing my new book. The editor is now going over it with a fine-tooth comb. Like a flea comb? LOL!

The book is about my journey to India and on to Sri Lanka in 1975 to help crew a yacht across the Indian Ocean in monsoon season. We ended up, way off course, in Diego Garcia where the yacht got stuck on a corral reef. Then journeyed on to the Seychelles.

Would love your feedback on the cover. Which should I use?



And why? Or do you have other ideas?

I will send five helpful respondents a complimentary e-copy of Good Morning Diego Garcia when it is published.

We Love Memoirs Day–Monday, August 31

Mon 31st Aug, 2015 will be We Love Memoirs Day!


We Love Memoirs was set up on 31st August 2013 by two memoir authors, Victoria Twead and Alan Parks, who wanted to create a place where memoir readers and authors could come together and chat. Victoria Twead is a New York Times bestselling author of “Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools” and the “Old Fools” series, while Alan Parks is the author of “Seriously Mum, What’s an Alpaca?” and the “Seriously Mum” series. Victoria and Alan were determined to foster a warm community and have always discouraged authors from pushing their own books at readers. The results have been astounding, and WLM has grown quickly. New friendships are formed every day, and WLM meet-ups across the globe have become common. Small wonder that the We Love Members community – which can be found here – is often described as “the friendliest group on Facebook”.
Join the conversation!
Susan Joyce

A Serendipitous Life

2012-06-06 diego garcia 1 crop
Something serendipitous happened to me yesterday. I often seem to make fortunate discoveries at the right moment. Perhaps that’s because I learned to think in terms of serendipity early in my life.
My great aunt Gladys, a world traveler, introduced me to the word. I loved saying “ser·en·dip·i·tous!” It had a lyrical sound, expressing imagination in a beautiful way. Aunt Gladys explained its origin in a Persian fairytale called “The Three Princes of Serendip.” Sons of Jafer, the philosopher-king of Serendip (ancient name of Ceylon, now Sri Lanka), King Jafer insisted his sons receive the best book education from the wisest men in the kingdom and required them to travel far and wide in order to learn life lessons first hand by observing the customs of other cultures. So they traveled, not in search of riches but rather in search of fortunate discoveries about life through their keen observation. A journey of discovery.
Until yesterday, my new book (about my travels to India, Sri Lanka, Diego Garcia, and the Seychelles) had a working title of “Sandalwood Sanity and Diego Garcia–A Journey of Discovery” But yesterday while working on notes from my travel journal., I realized I had heard radio announcements coming from Diego Garcia days before actually seeing land. My scribbled notes were about a DJ named Aceman who broadcast live reports from American Forces Radio Diego Garcia at 1475 AM. After treacherous days at sea crossing the equator, Aceman’s announcements kept hope alive of reaching land and being able to make repairs on a badly damaged yacht. My notes also detailed “crushed coral paved roads” on the island. While researching the coral paved roads, serendipity led me to a site where sailors stationed there in 1975-76 reminisced about life on the boot-shaped atoll. Sure enough the roads were paved with crushed coral. One entry on the site was from Aceman and it showed his email address. I was thrilled as I always wanted to thank him for his fun broadcast.
I sent Aceman an email and received a prompt reply. He is indeed the DJ who said, “Good Morning Diego Garcia!” In light of this new serendipitous discovery, my book will now be titled, “Good Morning Diego Garcia!” Thanks Aceman!

Stormy Seas

Sandalwood Sanity and Diego Garcia–A Journey of Discovery
by Susan Joyce

Excerpt from Chapter 12
Stormy Seas
Indian Ocean, July, 1975

Soon after dawn the following day, a frustrated Dylan made several attempts to get a read on our location with no success. The skies were darkening and black clouds billowed over a choppy sea. I watched him go back and forth trying to figure out where we were. I also noticed he tapped the barometer often.
“Why does he do that?” I asked Charles.
“If it goes down fast when tapped,” Charles answered, ” it means a storm is coming.”
“Oh,” I said.

Sometime later in the day, Dylan announced, “Strong winds are taking us further east than planned.”
“Are we lost?” I asked. Lost at sea. I shuddered at the thought.
“We’ll get back on course,” Dylan said, trying to calm my concern. He grabbed a cup of coffee and headed back up on deck.
Seconds later, he called for Jake to help him lower the sails. “Twister, heading our way,” he yelled.
Jake ran up the stairs.
“A twister could capsize the Zozo,” Charles said bounding up the stairs after him.
I followed and tried to help. Sudden squalls could sink a boat. We were all acting fast to lower the sails and secure them with ropes. I knew quick action was the only way to keep a boat under control during severe weather.

Sails lowered, we went back downstairs to the galley. Dylan closed the hatch to keep the wind and rain from causing damage inside the boat.
“A sudden gust can topple any sailing ship,” Mia said.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because you can’t react fast enough to match the sudden change in force.” Charles explained. “Unless you keep a close watch of changing skies.”
“A sea twister like a cyclone on land, right?”
“Yes, it appears as a whirling column of air and water mist. A funnel cloud,” Charles said. “And can be quite destructive when the water spouts swirl.”
I could hear the ferocious wind blowing and see the sea rise higher. Two visible water spouts were sucking the sea water.
“Glad we’re not outside,” I said.

More lighting strikes as we heaved back and forth with the ship in the raging sea. When the worst of the twister had passed, Dylan opened the hatch and climbed up on deck to take his turn standing watch for other ships or obstacles in the area.
Not knowing where we were and with sails down, Dylan decided to let the winds take us where they pushed until the storms cleared.

The men kept constant vigil during each watch. Charles mentioned that the cross bar on the main mast kept plunging into the water, then jolting back to the other side when the ship rolled side to side with the mountainous waves. “Keeping watch is the only thing that keeps me from losing my mind,” he said.
“Not exactly pleasure yachting,” I said. I knew he was having a hard time dealing with the tense situation.
“Watching the course indicator and other instruments keeps my mind occupied,” he replied.
“Opportunity of a life time?” I asked.
“What was I thinking?” he muttered, questioning his original thoughts of a fun high seas adventure.
“It will be opportune, when we survive.”
Charles shivered. He looked pale.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Just weak from lack of food and sleep.”
“These squalls and waves are overwhelming,” I said.
“It’s difficult to sleep knowing how easily a boat can tip over.” Charles added.
“Let’s hope Zozo’s hull is as great as Dylan claims.”
Charles nodded. “If it takes in water, it will sink. And it will happen fast.”
“A matter of seconds, minutes?” I asked.
“In an instant.” He snapped his fingers. “No time to grab a life jacket or launch a raft.”
We looked at each other and sighed. Charles bowed his head.
“It is disheartening,” I said. “Hard to think clearly. But I think we’ll make it.”
“I hope you’re right.”
The ultimate struggle for survival happens mentally,” I said.
Charles looked at me as if I were a stranger.
“Have you had one of your crazy dreams?” he asked.
“Several,” I answered.

NOT the Indian Ocean

Tracy Arms, Sawyer Glaciers

My husband Doug and I departed Montevideo, Uruguay on 29 May 2015 to make a travel dream come true. Although we lived in the Pacific Northwest for years and had visited Alaska many times, we had never cruised the Inside Passage of Alaska. So now that we live a few thousand miles away, near the tip of South America, we decided to make it happen.

Our roundtrip cruise ship left Seattle, Washington at 3:54 PM on Sunday, May 31st 2015 to begin a 7-Day Inside Passage cruise to Alaska. It was all it was promised to be. A luxurious stateroom with a large picture window view of the sea, remarkable service, numerous gourmet dining opportunities, a spacious mid-size ship, and many ‘good life’ days. I even lost 2 kilos by walking daily rounds of the ship’s deck during the journey.

On 02 June we entered Tracy Arm, a fjord near Juneau Alaska. At Stephens Passage, we took a sharp right turn into the Boundary Ranges wilderness area. After a narrow, twisting fjord, with waterfalls at every turn, we saw close-up views of the majestic Sawyer Glaciers and calving icebergs in the jade-colored inland sea. A chorus of “Ooh, Ah, and WOW!” from others on deck filled the air. The breathtaking awesome scenery–reminded me of wooly mammoths and the Ice Age. What a treat to know Alaska protects its unique ecosystem of animals and plants living in the glaciated valley.

We docked in Juneau, the capital of Alaska at 6:42 AM on 03 June. Our ship tethered itself to the dock and lowered a bridge so passengers could walk directly off and into the port of call. I had flown into Juneau many time to teach computer classes. No roads lead to Juneau so it can only be reached by plane or boat. Squeezed between the Gastineau Channel and Coast Mountains, it’s a charming town with its bounty of forests, mountains, and the massive Mendenhall Glacier and the Juneau Ice fields at its back door. The Tongass National Forest stretches away to the northeast. Daylight is bountiful as are wilderness adventures around the area.

Selfie with Totem

We arrived in Sitka at 7:21 AM, 04 June and the ship anchored off shore. Passengers were “tendered” to shore on small tender boats–a five minute ride to the dock. Facing the Pacific Ocean, on Baranof Island, Sitka was once the capital of Russian America. Nestled at the foot of magnificent glacial carved mountains, Sitka is located on the outer coast of Alaska’s Inside Passage. Its colorful past is a blend of native Tlingit culture and Russian history. In 1867, Russia sold Alaska to the United States for $7,200,000.

On 05 June we docked in ‘Misty’ Ketchikan, the rainiest town in southeast Alaska. True to its name, it rained all day. Known as the “Salmon Capital of the World,” Ketchikan clutches the shores of the Tongass Narrows. Stairways are weathered and many shops and houses are built out over the water. Like good tourists, we visited Creek Street, walked up and down wooden stairs and walkways, saw colorful and unique totems, and purchased fudge galore and a handmade native Indian dream catcher.

It was calm seas most of our journey. Only one night of turbulence as we returned and entered the open Pacific Ocean heading to Victoria, British Columbia. The ship’s dining room was almost empty that evening because diners couldn’t weave their way along corridors because of rolling, high seas. By the time we finished sipping our last glass of wine, the waves had subsided and the sea grew calmer. The ocean rocked us to sleep that night

We docked in Victoria on 06 June at 6:15 PM and walked through beautiful downtown neighborhoods, exploring the capital city of British Columbia. Exhilarating scenery surprised me around every corner with cool shops, double-decker buses, horse-drawn carriages, formal flower gardens, historical buildings, the ocean, mountain views, and bike trails all along the sidewalks. Wonderful city!

We returned to the ship at midnight and departed for an overnight to Seattle, Washington. Doug and I are still ambivalent about this cruising-for-the-sake-of-cruising thing. As Doug said the last night, “it’s hard to imagine we only got on this boat a month ago.” I comforted him by saying, “Be glad this is not the Indian Ocean in monsoon season.”

Back to writing “Sandalwood Sanity and Diego Garcia” –my journey of discovery while crossing the wild Indian Ocean in monsoon season in 1975.

Going Home



Returning home after being away is always thought provoking. For me anyway. My husband and I have just returned to our home in Uruguay after a cruise on the Alaska Inside Passage and a visit with our son in Arizona. Following our arrival in Uruguay, I expressed feeling grateful to be blessed with a comfortable home and loving animals waiting to welcome us. Over the years, when I’ve returned home to various places around the globe, I’ve scribbled notes in my journal of my diverse thoughts about going home. Each time I’m aware that I see ‘home’ in a different light.

When I lived in Germany on my own in the late 70s, I discovered Dory Previn’s music and rediscovered myself after a painful divorce. One of my favorite songs was from her album “Mythical Kings and Iguanas (Going Home is such a Ride).” Her sad but realistic lyrics tell about “a low and lonely ride.” I knew that feeling. The song comforted and inspired me, and I sang it often when I would first arrive home from a journey.

A prolific singer and songwriter, Dory Previn was queen of the seventies confessional songwriters and her honest words and music struck a clear chord that resonated deep within as I searched for meaning in personal relationships and the absurdity of the world around me. My life seemed calm compared to Previn’s troubled one but I found her irony in dealing with religion (she was raised in a strict Catholic upbringing) and psychology most refreshing. Seems she was rediscovering herself as well. I read once about her live performance at Carnegie Hall and how a whole row of nuns got up and walked out when she sang her song, “Did Baby Jesus Have A Baby Sister.” I laughed out loud. Seems the audience did as well.

As I wandered up and down the stairs of my life in Germany and learned to release losses and embrace new horizons, I felt grateful to Dory Previn for her pure and profound poetry encouraging me to dive to the bottom and go “down, down, down where the Iguanas play.”

Thank you Dory Previn for teaching and reaching me.