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The Mystic Seafarer's Trail—Out Now!

The search for 7 Wonders, the owner of Titanic’s shoes, Captain Sisson's gold, and Amelia Earhart's Noank wedding--plus what happens when a plump writer joins a blind sailor on a long winter voyage.

Excerpt of my recently released book, Mystic Seafarer's Trail:

Chapter One

Wanted: Epic Adventure

Moments after I stepped out of my new home with my hound for our first stroll through the historic seacoast village of Mystic, Conn. a woman pulled over in her van and yelled, "Excuse me."

Assuming she was a tourist wanting directions to Mystic Pizza or some other attraction, I wasn't prepared for what she really wanted to know.

"Do you realize the back of your skirt is tucked into your underwear?"

What a debut in my new hometown—I don’t think this is what National Geographic meant when they named Mystic one of the top 100 adventure towns in the United States.

Once recovered from my wardrobe “malfunction,” I continued toward downtown Mystic with Bailey, a beagle/basset hound mix, to embark on a new life—to shake off my old, sedentary landlubbing ways.

No longer did I want to be known as the lady who always talks about losing weight but never does it. No longer would I sit around daydreaming about becoming thin and famous so I could hire someone else to clean my house. I had a real shot at it now that I lived in a place where I couldn’t help but fall into a swash-buckling adventure—the kind that might inspire me to write a bestseller.

Straddling both sides of the Mystic River in the towns of Groton and Stonington, the village of Mystic takes its name from an Indian word, “river running to the sea.” With its scenic views of tall ships, islands, lighthouses, and secluded coves, it has attracted such legendary honeymooners as Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. It is a place where those who cross the oceans gather to swap stories and repair their boats. It is where famous explorers are born, visit, or come to live.

To launch my career as an adventuress, I decided to walk Bailey to the haunts and homes of such celebrated adventurers as Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic; Dr. Robert Ballard, the discoverer of Titanic’s watery grave; Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, the first aviator to fly over the South Pole; and Captain Nathaniel B. Palmer, who accidentally discovered Antarctica.

Now was the time for me to join their ranks, to start living life on the edge. Maybe I could become thin and famous like Amelia Earhart. Like her, I am fairly tall, my middle initial is M, I have a gap between my two front teeth, and until I looked it up, I couldn’t spell medieval either (more on that and her wedding day later). Unlike Amelia, I wasn’t skinny, but that was about to change. I would stop lying around reading about adventurers and do what it took to become one.

My husband, Jim, and I were transferred to Mystic by his company, which meant I had to quit my job as a writer for a college and search for a new one in a community that revolves around life at sea—not easy for a confirmed desk sitter like me. Finding the area already teaming with underemployed writers and publicists, I was grateful when my former employer hired me back as a consulting writer. Although freelancing allowed me to work from home in my pajamas, it offers no retirement benefits—hence the need to become famous. Being famous not only helps pay the bills, but it gives you an edge when trying to accomplish other goals.

Now was the time for me to follow in the path of prominent authors such as Herman Melville who went to sea on a whaler (a ship designed to catch whales and process their oil) when he couldn't find a job. Although he deserted and had to live among cannibals for a time, he found the inspiration to write his first novel. Further sea adventures, which included mutiny and learning about a whale that rammed and sank the Essex, led to the creation of his magnum opus: Moby Dick. I, myself, could barely get through this “Great American Novel,” but somebody must like it. And now that I lived within walking distance of the Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whaleship in the world, I felt that was a sign. Perhaps I could enlist as a deck swabber for some epic voyage on it. The house we purchased came with a brass, whale-shaped door knocker. That had to be a sign.

If following in the footsteps of a whaling writer didn’t work, there was always the chance I could get famous by finding a dead body—just like Bailey and our older daughter had. Although it didn’t make her into an international celebrity, I use it as a party stopper whenever I want to be the center of attention. Of course, I should really find my own body, preferably of a well-known person. Celebrities are always coming to Mystic to film movies or vacation.

Since I couldn’t count on finding a dead body, famous or otherwise, I decided to start small. First, I planned to compile “The 7 Wonders of Mystic”—something quick I could shout to the tourists who rolled down their car windows asking what they should see (besides my underwear).

National Geographic’s website suggests that Mystic adventurers bike what it calls the 25-mile Vineyard Loop that includes “some hairy climbs that stops at two of the best wineries.” Hairy climbs? I hoped to get thin, but did I have to go uphill to do it? I thought not.

Instead, I would conquer a trail of my own design—one that would avoid hills where possible—and call it the “Mystic Seafarer’s Trail.” It would include “The 7 Wonders” (once I figured out what they were) plus the spots where legendary adventurers lived, worked or got married in Mystic and nearby Stonington and Noank. It would include not only the haunts and homes of those adventurers already mentioned, but also of those you may have never heard of—such as Kate the acupuncturist who gave birth on a schooner and rowed to shore to weigh her baby on a lobster scale.

With so many potential wonders to consider and adventures to try, I had a lot of ground—and water—to cover. So, every afternoon, I checked my skirt and off Bailey and I went to follow a scent of our own.

If you would like more information on my book, please write in comments below, visit my website at www.authorlisasaunders.com and click on "Get News," which is my quest book or visit the book page on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Mystic-Seafarers-Trail-Titanics-Earharts/dp/1480085847/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1352035597&sr=8-1&keywords=mystic+seafarer%27s+trail

Editor's Note: This blog post was updated on Monday, Nov. 5, 2012 to reflect the fact that the book has now been published.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Kristin Hartnett October 11, 2012 at 04:51 PM
This is great, and funny, and unpretentious, can't wait for the whole thing!
Genevieve Triplett October 11, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Great local flare! This is why I love our town. proud locals and their pets!
PG October 12, 2012 at 02:55 AM
I'm looking forward to seeing the full book, looks great!
Argia Mystic Cruises October 12, 2012 at 07:20 PM
The crew of the schooner ARGIA can't wait for the whole book! We get embarassed when we hoist the ARGIA pennant upside down. The skirt in the underwear thing puts it all in perspective though. Such entertaining writing!
Jackie Tortora October 13, 2012 at 04:26 PM
I couldn't stop laughing! Can't wait for the book and more adventures in Mystic.
Kathleen Poole October 14, 2012 at 02:26 PM
That was a great start to an adventure-filled book. Buy the book! Lisa managed to find herself a real modern sea adventure and tells all!! Never a dull moment.
Julie Russell October 15, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Makes me laugh out loud!!!
Elizabeth Saede November 05, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Lisa is a creative, fun person who is a perfect addition to our lovely community. Her in-depth view of this seafaring place is interesting (I didn't know a fraction of the historical stuff she mentions) but it is her personal perspective and stories that have me laughing out loud. I'll be buying bunches for Christmas presents for family & friends.
Lisa Saunders November 10, 2012 at 12:05 PM
Free Mystic Seafarer's Tail e-book today on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Lisa-Saunders/e/B001K7Z5AC/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Lisa Saunders November 30, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Learn about Amelia Earhart's Noank wedding this Sunday (12/2, 2-4pm), at the Open House and Mystic Seafarer's Trail book launch party hosted by Mystic River Acupuncture. Info: www.acugroton.com
Lisa Saunders December 10, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Free today--Mystic Seafarer's Trail e-book at: http://www.amazon.com/Mystic-Seafarers-Trail-Titanics-Earharts/dp/1480085847/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1352035597&sr=8-1&keywords=mystic+seafarer%27s+trail
Lisa Saunders February 02, 2013 at 02:56 PM
FREE today: Mystic Seafarer's Trail e-book (includes Amelia Earhart's wedding in Noank). You don't need a Kindle to download it. Visit: http://www.amazon.com/Mystic-Seafarers-Trail-Titanics-ebook/dp/B00A3RX85E It's been revised with a tail map and my conversation with the author of "In a Fisherman's Language," Captain Henry, who learned to read and write in his 90s.

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