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18 July 2018

Blogging Break | Cat Picture #2

I'm on a blogging break until Wednesday, August 1st. To keep you amused in the meantime, here's a cat picture.



16 July 2018

Blogging Break | Cat Picture #1

I'm on a blogging break until Wednesday, August 1st. To keep you amused in the meantime, here's a cat picture.


13 July 2018

Happy Birthday Mr. Blog! Our 5 Year Blogging Anniversary & A Wee Break


Image via The Graphics Fairy

Mr. Blog turned five years old today. He's getting to be such a big boy. Can you believe that this is his 844th post? And that he has 1.6k Facebook followers? They sure do grow up fast, don't they.

Every year on Mr. Blog's birthday, I do a little reflection on blogging. On his first birthday, I had a look at how Mr. Blog stacked up against the criteria for a good blog. On his second birthday, I shared some random thoughts on blogging including wondering what type of blog The Cynical Sailor really was. On his third birthday, I talked about monetizing (or not) one's blog with Adsense and Amazon. I completely forgot about his birthday last year. Oops.

{If you want to see other posts on blogging tips and tricks from myself and others, check out this page.}

* * *

This year, I thought I'd talk about something a wee bit crazy that I did - starting a second blog over on my author site. Yes, it's a bit insane to manage not one, but two blogs, but I live on a sailboat which is the very definition of insanity.

I've talked before about how I wished we hadn't named this blog The Cynical Sailor because it really evolved over time from a pure "sailing blog" into, well, a blog full of a lot of random nonsense, some related to sailing and liveaboard life and some related to things like travel, cats, polar bears, and possible alien invasions.

So, when I decided I was going to become an author and publish books*, I thought it made sense to establish an author brand** and set up a website distinct from that of The Cynical Sailor. And here's why:

1 - Not everyone who follows this blog is interested in the writing side of my life. Although, I do post monthly on writing as part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) blog hop, feature books and authors on my Saturday Spotlight series, and mention my writing activity from time to time in other posts, I think I'd lose followers if that was all that I talked about. In fact, I think I'd stop writing this blog if that's all I talked about.

2 - Although my current book series is sailing-related, I've got lots of other ideas floating around in my head that have nothing to do with boats whatsoever. I'd like to be able to reach a broader audience in the future (not necessarily bigger) and a more "flexible" website seemed like the way to go.

3 - I wanted a static landing page and never could figure out if that was possible using the Blogger platform. It seemed a lot easier to use WordPress to set up my new site and not to try to monkey around and retrofit this one to work like I wanted.

4 - There was a certain appeal in starting off "fresh" and creating a website that wasn't as cluttered as this one has become. It's kind of nice to have simple, clean site that has a pure focus on books and my author activities.

5 - If we ever do decide to call it a day on The Cynical Sailor, I'll have another presence on the web already established.

Now that I've set it up, my new site is pretty easy to manage. I only blog there twice a month (the first and third Mondays) talking about the writing process (I'm currently doing a series of posts on the different aspects of publishing a cozy mystery from a newbie's perspective) and sharing tidbits about our life aboard a boat that might be of interest to readers.

While blogging twice a month might sound like a lot (especially given the fact that I blog here three times a week), it's actually quite manageable. I've re-purposed some content from this blog and my posts on the cozy mystery publishing process are basically write-ups of research I've already done. Plus, I >>love<< blogging. If you don't love blogging, you shouldn't be doing it. Otherwise, it's just a chore you resent.

If you're interested, you can check out my other site - ellenjacobsonauthor.com - and see what I'm up to over there.

NOTES:
*Saying that out loud still freaks me out - me an author? You've got to be kidding.
**I feel so pretentious talking about my "author brand." I think I've been listening to too many writing podcasts.

* * *

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it's summertime. For many people, summertime is about chilling out. I've noticed many bloggers are taking a bit of a break and I thought I'd do the the same thing. I've got a lot of work to get done on my next book during the rest of the month, so I'm going to take a blogging break until Wednesday, August 1st.

But don't worry, I'll probably schedule a blog post with a cat picture from time to time over the next couple of weeks so that you don't miss me and Mr. Blog too much.

What kind of blogs do you like to read? Are you a blogger? If so, how long have you been blogging for? Do you manage more than one site?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi! 


Murder at the Marina - the first in a new lighthearted and humorous cozy mystery series.  "A dilapidated sailboat for your anniversary - not very romantic. A dead body on board - even worse."

Buy Links

Ebook available at Amazon (US) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (UK) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple iBooks | Google Play

Paperback version available at Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Books-A-Million

Find Out More

Check out my author blog, sign up for my newsletter, and follow along on Twitter and my author Facebook page.

11 July 2018

Wordless Wednesday | Best Mail Forwarding Service Ever!


Wordless Wednesday is supposed to be about posting a photo(s) without any words. But, I'm a rule breaker, so here are a few words:

1 - Lots of people who live a nomadic life on sailboats or in RVs use a mail forwarding service which receives your mail and forwards to your current location as required.

2 - We could have signed up with an outfit like St. Brendan's Isle, which has a really great reputation, but we went with an even better option - Mom's Mail Forwarding Inc.

3 - Yep, my mom gets our mail and forwards it to us on a regular basis.

4 - She's got a real edge over regular mail forwarding services because she goes above and beyond the call of duty. We got a letter from the IRS, so she included some Oreos to eat while we opened it. {Oreos make everything better, even tax notices.} My sister and I got my mom some wine for Mother's Day and she sent me the cork from one of the bottles because it was cute. {Who doesn't love seahorses?} She even sends interesting articles, like one about a fascinating West African guy who works at her building.

What words does this picture(s) bring to your mind when you look at it?

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!

09 July 2018

Validation & Smiles

I've been thinking a lot lately about how lucky I am. People have been so lovely to me during my book release, sending me messages of encouragement, giving me positive feedback, leaving nice reviews etc. It's brought many a smile to my face.

But it's also made me think about all of those people out there who are disheartened, who don't feel like they can do anything right, who are feeling blue, suffering from depression etc. You know, the people who can't think of anything to smile about.

It brought to mind this wonderful short film starring T.J. Thyne (you may know him from the TV series Bones) called Validation. It's about a parking garage attendant who tells people how wonderful and amazing they are - he "validates" them and brings smiles to their faces.

I know we can't necessarily fix other people's problems or make all of their worries go away, but we can all help bring a smile to people's faces by offering a few words of encouragement or noticing something awesome about them. After all, there's something positive we can say about pretty much everyone, isn't there?

Anyway, that's today's random thought. If you've got some time, you might want to check out Validation. Who knows, it might bring a smile to your face.



When's the last time you paid someone a compliment? What was the last compliment someone paid you? How did it make you feel?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!


Murder at the Marina - a lighthearted & humorous cozy sailing mystery - available in ebook and paperback format at:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (UK) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple iBooks | Google Play | Book Depository | Books-A-Million

Find out more at ellenjacobsonauthor.com 

06 July 2018

Cost Of Cruising & Living Aboard A Sailboat | May & June 2018

We track and report every penny we spend living aboard and cruising on Tickety Boo, our Moody 346 sailboat for a couple of reasons.

1 - It helps us see where our money is going, helps us make informed choices about where to spend our money, which in turn helps us stretch our money further so that we can keep adventuring longer.

2 - We found it really useful to check out other people's cost of cruising when we were starting out, so we figure we can return favor by sharing ours.

We're currently at Indiantown Marina in Florida. Scott is working overseas so the costs are lower than if he was here. He'll be back in the next month of two and then costs are going to skyrocket as we start work on the very long list of boat projects that we have to do.

You can find links to other cost updates from ourselves (on Tickety Boo, camping across the States, and our previous boat in New Zealand) and others on this page, as well as on The Monkey's Fist.

* * *

Cost of Cruising & Living Aboard | May & June 2018

Overall, we spent >>$2,339<< during May and June.

When you look at the nitty-gritty details of what we spent below, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1 - All costs are in US dollars.

2 - Not all expenses are included - here's what we've left out:

(a) We don't report how much we spend on alcohol. I remember reading some horrible, judgy comments in a blog post a few years back about how much someone spent on booze, so I left it out when we first started tracking our cruising costs back in New Zealand. For consistency's sake, I've continued to leave it out when tracking our cruising costs.
(b) We've also left out our costs for medical insurance. We didn't think it made sense to include insurance costs as they can vary so widely depending upon your nationality, where you cruise, what level of coverage you want and can afford, whether you get subsidies etc. In case you are curious, while we're back in the States, we do have a high deductible/high out-of-pocket expenses insurance through the health insurance marketplace (aka the Affordable Care Act), primarily to protect our assets and cover us in case of a catastrophic medical condition.
(c) I haven't included any expenses related to my writing projects (e.g., editor, book cover design, publishing expenses, author website).
(d) Scott was in Scotland during the past two months, so our expenses are a lot less than they would be if he was here.

3 - I've included any shipping and taxes we've paid in what we report - Florida has a 6% sales tax.

* * *

GROCERIES | Total = $372

This category includes everything we put in our bodies in terms of food and drink (excluding booze) that we prepare ourselves. It doesn't include things like paper towels and ziploc bags, which I know some people would classify as groceries. Sure, you could probably eat them, but they wouldn't taste very good.

Although we don't budget (you can read more about that here), I'm happiest when we keep our monthly grocery spend per person under $200. So that means a spend of $X for the past couple of months for just me made me very happy.

PERSONAL & HOUSEHOLD | Total = $11

This is the category where we include household things (like paper towels and ziploc bags) and personal hygiene items (like soap and shampoo). We also capture items for the "home" here - like bug spray.

ENTERTAINMENT | Total = $177

In terms of drinks and eating out, this includes everything we don't prepare ourselves, even if we get something to go and eat it back on the boat. We also track how much we spend on books, magazines, DVD rentals and going to the movies in this category, as well as the occasional lottery ticket.

My entertainment over the past couple of months has involved quite a few meals out while I was in Atlanta and back here in Indiantown (can you say Taco Tuesday?). I also saw Solo and splurged on overpriced pop and popcorn. I don't know why Solo didn't do better in the box office. I really liked it.

COMMUNICATIONS | Total = $110

Our cell phone is actually one of our biggest non-boat related expenses. We have a monthly prepaid plan with AT&T which includes 8GB of data and unlimited calls and texts.

BOAT FUEL | Total = Nil

Tickety Boo has been sitting in her slip so we haven't needed to get any fuel.

PROPANE  | Total = Nil

We have a propane/LPG cooker on our boat, which we need to replace as the stove no longer works and replacement parts aren't available. While we're at Indiantown Marina, we use an electric hotplate and a crockpot for cooking, so we haven't had to spend any money on filling our propane tanks.

MARINA COSTS | Total = $1,355

Keeping Tickety Boo in a slip is one of our biggest expenses, and the rates went up in January. The new monthly cost of a slip with electricity at Indiantown Marina for a 34' boat is $657. The guys at the marina will also come pump out our holding tank on demand - $10 for each visit.

BOAT STUFF | Total = $68


This category is for all the stuff we buy for the boat, as well as  repair and maintenance costs. I had to buy a new tarp to cover the boat and a few other bits and bobs. I also bought some stuff off of friends who are selling their boat - courtesy flags and water jerry cans.

TRANSPORT | Total = $28

This category is for costs related to our vehicle, mostly for gas to drive into the nearby "big city" of Stuart for errands.

MEDICAL EXPENSES | Total = $2

This category includes medical expenses outside of our monthly insurance premium (which aren't included here - see section on exclusions above), like over the counter medications, prescriptions and things for our medical kit. It also includes the costs of doctors visits and medical tests which aren't covered by our insurance. I have not idea what the $2.22 was for - maybe allergy pills?

OTHER | Total = $233

In this category, we break out how much we spend on clothes and travel expenses. We also include a catch-all miscellaneous group for stuff that doesn't fit neatly anywhere else - things like laundry, Amazon Prime, presents, computer parts, postage etc.

I spent some money on clothes - most on leggings (so comfortable) and flip-flops, which is kind of may daily uniform. I also found a great deal on a solar shower at Aldi and we can always use a spare one of those. Perhaps my fave purchases was one of those lap desks so that you can work on your computer while you're lounging in bed.


Any money saving tips to share? What do you spend the most on each month? Are there any areas you're trying to cut back on?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!


Murder at the Marina - a lighthearted & humorous cozy sailing mystery - available in ebook and paperback format at:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (UK) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple iBooks | Google Play | Book Depository | Books-A-Million

Find out more at ellenjacobsonauthor.com 

03 July 2018

Simon The Time Traveling Cat Freaks Out | IWSG



NOTE: Normally, we post on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays, but this post is coming to you a day early due to the 4th of July celebrations in the States.

The Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) is a place to share and encourage, where writers can express their doubts and concerns without appearing foolish or weak. It's a great place to mingle with like minded people each month during IWSG day. The fabulous co-hosts this month are Nicki Elson, Juneta Key, Tamara Narayan, and Patricia Lynne.

Every month there's an optional question which may prompt folks to share advice, insights, a personal experience or story. Some folks answer the question in their IWSG blog post or let it inspire them if they're struggling with what to say.

This month's question is:

"What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?"

Check out how people have answered this month's question, as well as the other insecurities and writing topics they may have shared by visiting the IWSG sign-up list here. If you want to see how I answered the question, have a look below.
* * *

Image via The Graphics Fairy

"Simon, what's wrong?" I asked, looking at the ball of gray fur curled up underneath the chart table on our sailboat. "Why are you hiding?"

Simon glared at me and growled. "I'm not hiding, lady. I'm napping."

As he inched further back into the corner, there was a loud noise outside. I peered up through the hatch. "Oh, look, fireworks!" I sat on the settee next to the chart table and looked up at the bright lights exploding overhead.

I watched as the colorful display continued, then I heard Simon making a strange yowling sound. "Simon, it's okay. It's just 4th of July celebrations," I said in a soothing voice. "Why don't you come sit next to me?"

He slunk toward me and climbed on my lap, shivering while I stroked his soft fur. Part of me was kind of enjoying the effect of the fireworks on Simon. He wasn't being snarky and demanding. Maybe this was a new Simon. Maybe I would finally have an affectionate lap cat who purred with shear happiness at being in my company.

I watched the finale of red, white, and blue lights streaking across the sky while I scratched behind Simon's ears. After a few minutes had passed, Simon stood, stretched, then jumped onto the floor. He stared at me and gave a loud meow. "Alright, lady. Show's over. Go get me a saucer of full-fat milk."

So much for the new and improved Simon, I thought to myself as I opened the fridge. But I guess there's always Independence Day next year.

* * *

I know how Simon feels. Sometimes, things are scary and cause you to freak out a little. Like launching my first book. There were times when I felt like hiding underneath the chart table. Probably the only reason I didn't is because I'm way too big to fit comfortably there.

But scary can be good. Scary means you're stretching yourself. Scary means you're trying to achieve your goals. And I did - I scared the heck out of myself and achieved my writing goal of publishing a book.

Publishing a book wasn't always my writing goal. In fact, I didn't have any writing-related goals for a long time, other than to blog here about the adventures and misadventures of our life on a sailboat. But over time, and in large part due to the support and encouragement of the IWSG, I set a goal to publish a cozy mystery.

Now that I've ticked that item off of the list, my writing goal is to publish the next book in the series, Bodies in the Boatyard, later this year and the third book, Poisoned by the Pier, in 2019. If all continues to go well, I'll aim for three more books in the series over the next few years.

 * * *


A dilapidated sailboat for your anniversary - not very romantic. 
A dead body on board - even worse.

>>Murder at the Marina<< is the first in a new lighthearted and humorous cozy mystery series about Mollie McGhie, a reluctant sailor turned amateur sleuth.

eBook available at Amazon (US) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (AU) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple iBooks | Google Play

Paperback version available at Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Books-A-Million

Find out more on Goodreads and add to your To-Read list. Check out my author website, follow along on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to my newsletter.

Do you like fireworks? What are your writing goals? Have they changed over time?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - we'd love for you to pop by and say hi!

02 July 2018

June In Numbers

Clockwise from upper left - six things that start with "C": (1) cat; (2) another cat; (3) chocolate cake; (4) coloring books; (5) candy; and (6) coffee mug.

It's time for the usual monthly recap in numbers. If you're a regular visitor over here, then you can probably guess what the primary focus was during June and I bet you're tired of hearing about it. Yes, it was all about the release of Murder at the Marina. After a whirlwind trip to Atlanta at the beginning of the month, I spent the rest of June getting everything organized for the release and then managing all of the activity that comes with a book launch. I also worked on the next book in the series, Bodies in the Boatyard, although not as much as I would have liked.

I'll try to do something more interesting in July so that next month's report isn't nearly as dull. But in any event, here's all of the random nonsense that popped into my head when I reflected on the month past.

  • 10 - How many hours it takes to drive to Atlanta from Indiantown. My favorite part of the trip is passing through Yeehaw Junction, just cause it's such a fun name to say.
  • 3 - Number of pets at the house I stayed at including two cats (pictured above) and one dog.
  • 4 - Number of allergy pills I took while there. It doesn't seem right that someone who loves furry creatures as much as I do is allergic to them. That's one of the good things about Simon the Time Traveling Cat. Imaginary cats are hypo-allergenic. 
  • 11:00 AM - What time the matinee of Solo started at. By the time I got out, it was insanely hot. Nothing worse than a 30-minute drive home when the air conditioning in your car isn't working. Ah, the joys of southern Florida in the summer. 
  • 2 - The number of air conditioning units my boat neighbor has. Their boat is deliciously cool.
  • 1 - The number of air conditioning units our boat has. The temperature is okay on board.
  • 0 - The number of air conditioning units a boat on the floating dock has. I feel so bad for this guy living on his boat in this heat. Heat makes me cranky, yet this chap is always so cheerful. 
  • 1 - Number of manuscripts I beta read. A really cute YA fantasy novel. It was a pleasure to read.
  • 5 - How many books I read - one cozy mystery by Laura Levine (she's hysterical), two scifi/fantasy, one sailing-related, and one YA book. Not as much as I normally read on a monthly basis.
  • 43 - How many dark chocolate M&M'S I ate on release day. Seriously, that's all I had. However, I did also have two chocolate brownies.
  •  26 - How many people participated in the Murder at the Marina Blog Tour & Fiesta. Seriously, isn't that insane? Insane in the best possible way though that so many folks would have volunteered to help out. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all the participants!
  • 77 - My ranking on the Amazon Hot New Releases List in the cozy animal mystery category during release week. I was also thrilled to have made it onto the Amazon Australia Best Sellers list in the cozy mystery category. I know that in the scheme of things, these lists aren't a big deal, but still it was heaps better than I ever expected to happen. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who picked up a copy!
  • 4 - Number of times I went to Taco Tuesday. Don't you wish every day was Tuesday?
  • $10 - How much I spent on a pair of flip-flops. I usually just pick up the ones that Walmart sells for a dollar, but they wear out so quickly and I hate the idea of all of my flip-flops ending up in the landfill. So I "splurged" and bought what I hope will be a sturdier pair which will last longer.
  • 5 - How many seasons of Babylon 5 were made. I did some binge watching of it on Amazon Prime last month. The special effects look so cheesy now, but it's still such a great show.

In case you missed them, here are some of our favorite posts from last month:

Chocolate, Bubbles & BLTs | A Day in the Life of a Book Release
Reader Ideas on How to Kill Someone in a Boatyard | You Guys are Scary!
Morning Coffee | Random Thoughts & Oddities

How did last month go for you? What are you looking forward to next month? 

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!


Murder at the Marina - a lighthearted & humorous cozy sailing mystery - available in ebook and paperback format at:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (AU) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple iBooks | Google Play | Book Depository | Books-A-Million

Find out more at ellenjacobsonauthor.com 

30 June 2018

Saturday Spotlight | Sailing Book Reviews

In addition to the usual blog posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday about our eccentric travel adventures and day-to-day life living aboard a sailboat, I also occasionally post on Saturdays, focusing on things related to writing such as cover reveals, book launches, reviews, interviews with authors etc. So if you're a bit of a book nerd like I am, check in on Saturdays - you never know what might pop up.

* * *


Today, I'm featuring three sailing-related books focusing on quitting the rat race for a simpler existence living aboard a boat. Even if a sailing and cruising lifestyle isn't for you, you may find inspiration in these books to make changes in your own life and lead a life less "normal" and more fulfilling.

LEAP OF FAITH: QUIT YOUR JOB AND LIVE ON A BOAT by Ed Robinson

The author describes himself and his wife as carefree boat bums and beachcombers and in this book he tells you how they went about achieving a simpler life. He walks the reader through the process of getting rid of all of their stuff, his approach to debt, buying a boat, and living aboard full-time. Throughout the book, he spells out what he thinks is wrong with today's society and why living a “normal” life doesn't necessarily bring one happiness. His anecdotes and reflections provide compelling evidence that working hard to amass possessions, gain a certain social status, and achieve the “American dream” isn't the right path for everyone. His story may provide the inspiration you need to achieve your own dream, whether it's living a nomadic life on a sailboat or in an RV, getting out of debt and not worrying about making ends meet, or just choosing a simpler lifestyle.

Interestingly, I believe the author has just put his boat up for sale. I'm curious to see what new adventures he and his wife have planned.

Find out more about Ed and his book on Amazon | Facebook | Blog | Twitter


KEYS TO THE KINGDOM by Annie Dike

After spending six years as a lawyer, the author turned her back on a lucrative career and the potential of making partner at her firm, instead embracing the freedom of life living aboard and cruising on a sailboat. Dike interweaves stories of her former professional life and childhood with accounts of the her sailing adventures. And she's not afraid to share her misadventures as well and what she learned from them. Whether or not you're interested in a cruising lifestyle, if you're stuck in a career that doesn't bring you joy and are dreaming of a simpler, more fulfilling lifestyle, this book may inspire you to make changes of your own.

Find out more about Annie and her book on Amazon | Facebook | Blog |

OFF THE GRID by Mark Reinhardt 

Off the Grid is an account of one man's journey from working 60-hour weeks and getting nowhere to living life off the grid and finding fulfillment and freedom in a simpler way of life. The author shares how he bought and outfitted a relatively inexpensive sailboat, cleared his debts, and his adventures cruising in Florida and the Bahamas.

One of my favorite sections was about an encounter with a powerboat at night in the Bahamas which had run out of fuel. The author tells us how he towed their boat to the nearest port, but what makes this even more interesting was that he also shares accounts from both the husband and wife on the powerboat where they share their views about what must have been a very stressful experience. I also really enjoyed the diary-style entries where the author shares sections of his Captain's Log in between chapters. Throughout the book, he shares his personal philosophy – the importance of a positive attitude, the law of attraction, and simply having gratitude for all that life gives you. It's these kinds of personal insights which makes this book such an engaging read.

Find out more about Mark and his book on Amazon 

Note: I won copies of all three of these books courtesy of Saving to Sail (a site dedicated to learning how to make money online, while sailing the world) and voluntarily chose to leave honest reviews. 

* * *

What books have you been reading lately? Have you read any of the books featured here today?


Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!

Murder at the Marina - a lighthearted & humorous cozy sailing mystery - available in ebook and paperback format at:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (AU) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple iBooks | Google Play | Book Depository | Books-A-Million

Find out more at ellenjacobsonauthor.com 

29 June 2018

Flashback Friday | Going For A Walk: Wynyard Quarter, Auckland, New Zealand



Flashback Friday takes place on the last Friday of the month. The idea is to give a little more love to a blog post you've published before that maybe didn't get enough attention, or is something you think is still relevant or even a something that you really love and want to share again.

Many thanks to Michael d’Agostino for starting Flashback Friday and inspiring me to go back and revisit some of our earlier blog posts.


* * *

This is a flashback to when we lived in Auckland, New Zealand. We didn't have a car, so we walked everywhere. We lived in city centre (downtown) Auckland, so everything was convenient and we were a hop, skip, and a jump away from the waterfront.

When I looked back at this post, I noticed that I only used metric. Hard to believe that once upon a time, I functioned in kilometers, kilograms, and hectares.

This was originally published in December 2013 - you can see the original post here.

* * *



Wynyard Quarter is one of the new hot spots in the Auckland waterfront area and is undergoing a 25-year urban transformation plan, the first part of which was completed in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup (which of course the All Blacks won). 

It sits on reclaimed land in the Waitemata Harbour and encompasses around 37 hectares of land and three kms of coastal frontage. There are all sorts of amenities for visitors to enjoy including a playground, public artwork, old siloes which have been jazzed up, a fish market and all sorts of cafes, restaurants and bars. 

You can see all types of vessels in Wynyard Quarter including fishing boats, the Great Barrier Island ferry, classic Kiwi yachts and mega yachts. Positioned between the Viaduct and Westhaven, it is nice area to have a stroll, visit and explore. 
 
The drawbridge from Te Wero Island in the Viaduct which you cross over to get to Wynyard Quarter.

View from under the pohutukawa trees back to the Viaduct and the drawbridge..
There is a lot of interesting street art scattered throughout Wynyard Quarter.

There's a fish market in Wynyard Quarter which is fun to explore. They sell good fish and chips there, but be warned if you want ketchup for your chips, it will cost you extra.


Yummy fish for sale. Although, I much prefer the ones that Skipper Scott catches for us.

One of the many fishing boats in the Wynyard Quarter.
They've repurposed old shipping containers throughout Wynyard Quarter.
You can get money out of the ATM at this one. There is a television screen on the other side showing videos.

At this one, you can buy some ice cream with the money you just took out of the ATM.

And you can even catch the bus from this shipping container.
  
At the end of Wynyard Quarter is Silo Park. It is full of siloes. The name kind of gives it away.
They've jazzed some of the old siloes up with colorful paintings.




Silo Park marina is where the mega-yachts berth. This ridiculous boat, the A, is owned by a Russian tycoon and worth $350 million. He has brought it into Auckland to be repainted. It is going to cost around NZ$30 million alone to repaint and take approx. 18 months.

These boats are much nicer.
 And the most important thing to know about the Wynyard Quarter is that they just opened a branch of Sal's Pizza there. This is the best proper American style pizza in Auckland. I think they import the cheese from Wisconsin. Getting a pizza from Sal's is a priority must-do for Scott this week now that he is back in New Zealand.
Have you ever been to New Zealand? Do you like to go for urban walks?

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Murder at the Marina - a lighthearted & humorous cozy sailing mystery - available in ebook and paperback format at:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (AU) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple iBooks | Google Play | Book Depository | Books-A-Million

Find out more at ellenjacobsonauthor.com 

27 June 2018

Wordless Wednesday | Cakewalk







Wordless Wednesday is supposed to be about posting a photo(s) without any words. But, I'm a rule breaker, so here are a few words:

1 - How did I not know about cakewalks before? If you walk around a circle and land on the lucky number, you win a cake! 

2 - When I was in Atlanta earlier this month, I went to the Cabbagetown Reunion outdoor festival where they held a cakewalk as a fundraiser for the local Patch Works Museum. In exchange for $5, I walked around a colored chalk circle and when the music ended I landed on the number eight and had my choice of donated cakes.

3 - There were all sorts of great looking cakes - including a creative one that looked like a plate of spaghetti and meatballs - but I had eyes for only one of them, the chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Yum.

What words does this picture(s) bring to your mind when you look at it?

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

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Murder at the Marina - a lighthearted & humorous cozy sailing mystery - available in ebook and paperback format at:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (UK) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple iBooks | Google Play | Book Depository | Books-A-Million

Find out more at ellenjacobsonauthor.com 

25 June 2018

Eavesdropping On Sailors

Image via The Graphics Fairy

This is rather a short post today because why would you want to spend your time here when you could be over visiting all the other cool blogs participating in the Murder at the Marina Blog Tour & Fiesta?

Last weekend, I was sitting in the patio area at our marina doing some laundry when I happened to overhear a conversation between some boaters. Yes, yes, I know - you call that eavesdropping in your neck of the woods. But if they didn't want me to overhear, they wouldn't have been talking right next to me, would they have? So I'm just going to stick with my description of it as some casual, run of the mill, overhearing.

Anyway, I won't repeat the conversation to you, because:

(1) that would be rude - it was a private conversation after all (and no, for the last time I wasn't eavesdropping); and

(2) it was kind of boring, like most conversations about boating are.

Basically, all conversations between boaters who meet for the first time boil down to the same basic construct.

"I just walked in on a guy naked in the shower."

Okay, that's not a normal part of a boater conversation, but that's how this particular conversation started. Key takeaway - make sure you lock the door when you're taking a shower at the marina. Unless you're some sort of weird sicko who likes it when people accidentally walk in on them. In that case, maybe you should find another marina. Just saying.

"So, what kind of boat are you on?"

This question is key. Boaters immediately categorize other boaters into categories. Sailboats vs. powerboats. Catamarans vs. monohulls. Boat bums vs. well-heeled weekend warriors.

Based upon your answer to this question, the conversation might end awkwardly or get competitive. "You poor things. How in the world do you manage with just one hull?" "We just installed a tennis court on the aft deck and it looks like all yours has going for it is mold."

"You should see the bruises I have!"

An integral part of any boating conversation is trying to one-up each other on either how much you've spent fixing stuff that breaks on your boat or who has had to contort themselves the most to fit into a small space to repair something. In boating, being miserable working in hot, cramped quarters, spending a lot of money on equipment and supplies, and getting plenty of bruises and cuts in the process is a badge of honor.

Well, that's enough about that. But the good news is I'll have to do laundry again this weekend. Who knows what juicy tidbits I'll overhear.

That really wasn't short after all, was it? What interesting conversations have you overheard lately?

Murder at the Marina - a lighthearted and humorous cozy mystery - now available in ebook and paperback format.


23 June 2018

Saturday Spotlight | "It's About The Dog" By Guilie Castillo & Rescue Dog Tips

In addition to the usual blog posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday about our travel adventures and day-to-day life living aboard a sailboat, I also occasionally post on Saturdays, focusing on things related to writing such as cover reveals, book launches, reviews, interviews with authors etc. So if you're a bit of a book nerd like I am, check in on Saturdays - you never know what might pop up.

Today, Guilie Castillo is joining us to tell us about her new book, It's About the Dog: The A-to-Z Guide for Wannabe Dog Rescuers as well as offer some insights about how to handle dogs who hate the water.

* * *



Ellen, thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of your Saturday Spotlight series! I’m thrilled to talk a bit with your crowd about my new book, It’s About the Dog: The A-to-Z Guide for Wannabe Dog Rescuers. I know several of your followers are into sailing and water-based lifestyles, as are you, so—although the book is about actual rescue (the process of identifying, befriending, helping, and catching a dog straight off the street)—I thought I could share some insights about the challenges that come after rescue, when it turns out that this once-stray dog, now adopted by a loving family, hates water.

When Panchita, my first rescue here in Curaçao, came to live with us, I naturally assumed she would love water. This is an island—a rather small one, as far as islands go; no matter where you are in Curaçao you’re never more than five or six kilometers from the coast. And Panchita was a mutt of mutts, a dog who clearly came from a long line of mixed breeds, what locals here call ‘Westpointers’, or ‘Selikor terriers’. A dog of this lineage had to have the love of water woven tight into her chromosomes, right?

Well, she didn’t. In fact, water terrified her. I, who had grown up in Mexico with dogs that jumped into the pool at the first opportunity, now lived surrounded by gorgeous beaches with a dog that refused to set foot in water, be it ocean or lagoon. She even skirted puddles (ever so daintily).

So what does one do, when one’s love of water and love of (rescue) dogs seem so incompatible?

It’s no secret that rescue dogs come with… how shall we put it? Issues. Some more than others, certainly, especially if they’re adult when you adopt them. The main thing to remember when dealing with rescues is that they’re individuals: there is no recipe, no ABC of steps to follow, that will work on each and every dog. (This is true of all dogs, all living creatures even, but even more so with rescues.) If your life revolves around water, and if you want to share that life with a rescue dog, here are a few tips to make your—and their—life easier.


Adult vs. Puppy

Puppies (under 3 months) are naturally more adaptable than adults, and usually have less phobias, so it’ll be easier for them to learn to love the activities you want to share with them, including water. Note, however, that I said ‘easier’, not easy. Certain fears and aversions seem to be inherited, hard-coded into DNA somehow, so getting a 12-week-old puppy does not necessarily mean you’re getting a blank slate. Yes, breed—when breed can be determined; rescues are quirky that way—may provide some indication, a foundation on which to base the training you’ll provide, but it won’t be determinant. I know Labradors that hate the water. And I know a Chihuahua who cannot get enough of it. Breed may be about aesthetics, but it gets a lot less predictable when it comes to behavior.

Go Easy. At First and Always. 

Rescue dogs have very little experience of human kindness. For them, the canine-human bond has been broken; earning their trust is your first task, and dragging them into the lake is not going to help. Take it slowly. Go on a walk close to the water and observe their behavior. Does s/he seem curious or apprehensive about the water? Maybe you get lucky and s/he makes a mad dash into the surf the first time out; you’ve got it made. But if this doesn’t happen, you have your work cut out for you. You’ll need tons of patience, and—maybe more importantly—good humor. The reward, however—that moment when your dog overcomes his/her fear and discovers this weird thing is actually fun—is more than worth it.

Make it Fun. 

I’ve seen people bribe their dogs into the water, or try the toddler technique of picking them up and carrying them into the water: “See? It’s not so scary, is it?” (And then they’re surprised when the dog hides under the bed when it’s time to go to the lake or the beach.) If you want your dog to enjoy water, and the time spent with you in or around it, not to fear it or to see it as something you demand of him/her, then you need to make it into something not just positive and fun but also non-threatening. The dog needs to feel safe, and s/he needs to know s/he can trust you, so show him/her you’re willing to go at his/her pace. (And mean it.)

Reward, or Bribe? 

This is a tricky one, and I think the difference has a lot to do with attitude. The way I see it is this: if I offer my dog a chunk of, say, beef, and hold it just out of reach as I back into the water, using the beef as a sort of ‘carrot’ to lure him/her into following me in, I’m bribing. If, on the other hand, I actually give him/her the piece of beef (along with very enthusiastic cuddles and praise) every time s/he takes a step closer to the water, then I’m rewarding. Small distinction, but significant, and one that can have powerful long-term impact on how your dog responds to handling new situations.

The Miracle of Professional Training. 

Don’t ever underestimate the transformative power of a trainer who knows his/her stuff. Even a puppy course, or a basic obedience series, will work wonders for any dog, but especially for rescues. Ideally, though, if you’re serious about committing to your dog’s mental and emotional well-being, you should talk to a trainer—someone experienced in working with rescues, someone who uses force-free methods—about setting up one-on-one sessions. Training isn’t only about dealing with a certain issue or modifying a certain behavior; the overall, and lasting, result is that it strengthens the bond between you and your dog. Think of it as a sort of language course in Dogspeak—and, when you take out all the fluff and chaff, all behavior issues are about communication, aren’t they? Getting your dog to understand you—and learning to understand him/her.



* * *


Guilie Castillo, Mexican expat, writer, and dog rescuer, is the author of It’s About the Dog: The A-to-Z Guide for Wannabe Dog Rescuers (Everytime Press, April 2018), a hands-on, less-tears-more-action, 100% practical introduction to dog rescue. 

This is some of what readers have been saying about the book:

“Not only an incredibly thorough and brilliant How-To, but a pull-at-your-heartstrings look at the selfless world of dog rescuing—and a must-read for anyone who loves dogs. This book will renew your faith in humanity.”
 ~Robin Cain, author of The Secret Miss Rabbit Kept

“This is a must-have book on every would-be, could-be, and veteran dog rescuer’s shelf. Guilie Castillo Oriard’s It’s About the Dog: The A-to-Z Guide for Wannabe Rescuers is packed with invaluable information gleaned from experts and experience, on how to put good intentions into successful practice so you can provide real help for four-legged friends in need.”

~ Lynne M. Hinkey, author of Ye Gods! A Tale of Dogs and Demons

“The saying ‘I didn’t know what I didn’t know’ really applies for me. I had no idea what was going on at the ‘front lines’ of rescue work and as I read the book it made me that much more grateful to have my dogs by my side.”

~ L. M., Amazon review

It’s About the Dog is available as paperback and ebook (find all links here). You can also add it to your Goodreads here.

Have you ever had a rescue dog or cat? What obstacles did you have to help him/her overcome? Have you ever had a dog who hated the water?

22 June 2018

Chocolate, Bubbles & BLTs | A Day In The Life Of A Book Release

So yesterday was kind of a big deal. It was the start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Oh, yeah, something else happened—I released my debut novel, Murder at the Marina

Have you ever been curious about the day in the life of a book release? If so, you're in luck! That's what today's blog post is all about.

Or maybe you're one of those people who has no interest whatsoever in that type of thing, but you don't feel like working on what it is you're supposed to be working on. You're in luck too! This is the perfect time-waster. Read on!

Here's how it all started—oatmeal and a cup of coffee. But not just any cup of coffee. Coffee in this amazing mug that my mom sent me. It has my book cover on it! Possibly the coolest gift ever.


Then it was time to check the sales reporting. So exciting to see those pre-orders turn into actual live sales. Someone even bought the paperback version. I didn't really think those would sell, so that was a nice surprise. {By the way, for those of you who were interested in my Amazon exclusive vs. going wide debate, 10% of my pre-order sales came from Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Apple iBooks.}


Checking sales reports and working on spreadsheets was tiring work. Snacks were required. Which bowl do you think was finished first - the one with M&M'S or the one with fruit?


Lunchtime! A BLT because nothing goes better with a book release than bacon accompanied by a glass of sparkling water with a splash of mango juice. Okay, maybe there were some M&M'S too. Over lunch, I checked out the reviews people have been leaving on Amazon and Goodreads. I was blown away by how many folks took the time to read and review Murder at the Marina.


I spent time updating this site, my author site, and social media sites, changing references from "pre-order" to "now available." I even uploaded a cool graphic with sailboats which turned out to have had a glaring typo. Nobody seemed to notice, or at least they were too polite to say anything. That required ten M&M'S. Yes, I counted each and every one I ate on release day.

After that, I practiced signing my name. My mom and sister requested signed paperbacks, but my real signature is like chicken scratch. Possibly the strangest part of the day. I still haven't come up with a version that I like.


Time for some more sales and rank checking. I'd always heard that new authors obsessively check their stats on an hourly basis. Not me, I told myself. Turned out I was wrong. I became completely and totally obsessed. I even discovered this site (Book Report) that makes a noise like a cash register every time you make a new sale. Very cool.

If you're interested, the ranking of the ebook edition at 2:00 PM was 151,503 compared to 56,049 the previous day and 27,028 when I first put Murder at the Marina up for pre-order. I'm not really sure how the mysteries of Amazon's algorithms work, but I do enjoy looking at graphs.



Throughout the day, I kept smiling as friends sent me messages congratulating me on my release. We also had a great start to the blog tour and fiesta (check out the list of participants here). I spent time answering emails including one from a lady asking if Murder at the Marina would be available at her local bookstore. Sadly, the answer was no.

I was working away on this blog post when my sweet friend, Michele from Sailing Honu, dropped off some flowers for me.


Too much time in front of the computer. So, I headed off to the marina patio for a beer and some more snacks. In case you haven't figured out by now, I'm always thinking about my next meal or snack.


It was soooo hot outside. I think the real feel temp was over 100F. I didn't last long out there. I chatted with some marina friends, Julia and Gayle, on the way back to my boat. Gayle is such a sweetie - she pre-ordered a copy of my book, but of course the crappy marina WiFi wouldn't let her download it.

Later in the evening, I had some Brussel sprouts and rice. Yum. I did some more obsessive sales, rank, and review checking. Made it up to 32,883 in the Amazon rankings and someone in Italy bought a book. Italy - wow!


The day finally wrapped up with some bubbles and brownies. If you've read Murder at the Marina, you'll understand why I had brownies. While I got my chocolate fix, I put together a puzzle my mom sent me. Yep, that's my book cover. She's the best mom ever, which is why I dedicated my book to her.



Since I had woken up at 2:00 AM after a nightmare that I uploaded the wrong ebook files to Amazon, I was pretty shattered by the end of the day. So it was an early night and off to bed to dream about the next book in the series, Bodies in the Boatyard.


A dilapidated sailboat for your anniversary - not very romantic. A dead body on board - even worse.

Buy Links

Ebook available at Amazon (US) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (UK) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple iBooks | Google Play

Paperback version available at Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Books-A-Million

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