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20 June 2018

Murder At The Marina | Blog Tour & Fiesta


Can you believe it, tomorrow is the release of >>Murder at the Marina<<! I'm torn between being really excited about the big day and wanting to curl up in a fetal position while downing a really large bag of M&M'S because the thought of anyone reading my book is really scary.

Fortunately, I've got the upcoming >>Murder at the Marina<< blog tour to distract me. Some very kind folks have agreed to spread the word about my book on their blogs starting tomorrow and running through July 4th.

In fact, so many people signed up to help out that it's not just a blog tour, it's a. . .

. . .blog fiesta!

I'm absolutely blown away by how many people volunteered to pitch in. Have a look at the schedule below, check out these fabulous blogs, and make some new friends. I'll update here with their blog fiesta posts as they go live, as well as do updates on Facebook and Twitter with links to each day's posts.

Thursday, June 21st (release day!)

Molly's Cozy Book Nook
I got to know Molly through her old blog (great family recipes and book reviews on there) and she's just started a new one to better reflect the direction her life has taken where she'll focus on reading, writing, travel, photography, scrapbooking, and musings on MidLife. The fact that she shares a first name with the main character in my book is pretty neat (albeit with a different spelling).

The Retirement Project
I've followed Deb and her husband's sailing blog for many years now and really hope our paths cross on the water one of these days. If you're thinking about buying a boat, check out their book, >>How NOT to Buy a Cruising Boat<<. It's one of those must-reads for wannabe cruisers. Deb also writes children's books.

Greenawalt's Travels
Jillian and her family are super adventurous. They're boaters and former liveaboards, they've been farmers in  Idaho, and now they live in central New York with their three children. Jillian writes great posts about sailing, travel, family adventures, and homeshooling.

Darla M. Sands
Darla is one of those people who always leaves the most encouraging and uplifting comments on my blog, so you know that's she a special lady. She also has a soft spot for cats, which makes her an even more special lady.

Friday, June 22nd

Elements of Emaginette
Anna is a talented writer (I've had the pleasure of beta reading for her - check out her books here) and shares wonderful writing tips on her blog. She's been a great resource for me over the past several years.

I Think; Therefore I Yam
I absolutely loved Susan's book, Hot Flashes & Cold Lemonade. She had me at the title and it just got better from there. Susan's got a great sense of humor which really comes through on her blog.

Jennifer Lane Books
Jennifer is a psychologist and an author - which makes her a "psycho author." In addition to writing sports romances, she also recently published, Twin Sacrifice, a psychological suspense thriller that had me turning pages well into the night. So many exciting twists and turns.

Saturday, June 23rd

Sarah on Tarquilla
Sarah, her husband, their three children, and one dog all live aboard s/v Tarquilla in England. So cool! I love her posts about family life aboard their boat and the books she's reading. She's also a writer, which you can find out more about here.

Quiet Laughter
Guilie is a writer and a dog rescuer who lives on the island of Curacao. Yes, you read that right - she's a dog rescuer. Pretty awesome, huh? She's recently released It's About the Dog: The A to Z Guide for Wannabe Dog Rescuers.

Sunday, June 24th

Mangoes, Marley and Mermaids
Chris is one of my sweet friends from Indiantown Marina. We'd been blogging buddies for years and it was so great to finally meet her in person. I think she's going to tell you how that all happened on her blog, so hop on over and get the scoop.

Dru's Book Musings
Dru is a book reviewer extraordinaire. She showcases authors, has character interviews, features new releases etc. If you're looking for some new books to add to your To Be Read list, check out Dru's blog.

Monday, June 25th

Christine Rains
I "met" Christine through the Insecure Writer's Support Group or IWSG (along with a lot of other people on this list). This woman is a seriously prolific author - check out her Totem series. Shapeshifters in Alaska, action, and adventure. . . yes, please!

Alex J. Cavanaugh
Alex is the founder and Ninja Captain of the IWSG. I honestly don't think I'd be publishing a book if I hadn't have found his writer's support group. He has given so much of himself to the writing community. And on top of all that, he's written the amazing Cassa space opera series. I've read them all. He's also a big film buff and I'll be talking about some boating-related movies over at his place.

Tyrean Martinson
While I've haven't had the opportunity to meet Tyrean in real life, I can tell that she's a real sweetheart. She was another one of my awesome beta readers, providing thoughtful and constructive feedback. She teaches language arts at a homeschooling cooperative and is a writer herself. Check out her YA Christian fantasy series, the Champion Trilogy.

The Ninja Librarian 
Rebecca writes awesome cozy mysteries (check them out here) and she's a library person, which makes her super cool in my book. Rebecca was one of my fabulous beta readers and has been there every step of the way for me.

Tuesday, June 26th

The Larks of Independence
Lucy, Matt, and their adorable dog, Hastings, live on a catamaran. They have one of the funniest sailing blogs I've ever run across. Even the posts that Hastings writes are hysterical.Yes, dogs can write blog posts, despite their lack of opposable thumbs. That's what humans are for - to take dictation.

Wednesday, June 27th

Jen Chandler was Here
Jen is a writer of southern fiction and magical realism, fairy tales and folklore, who I had the pleasure of getting to know through the IWSG anthology, >>Hero Lost<<. Her blog posts provide delightful insights into her daily life which is chockful of books, tea, gardening, and gorgeous needlework.

Thursday, June 28th

Perilous & Sparks
Autumn is one cool cat. All you have to do is check out her website and you'll agree. She's a fellow sailor and writer and the author of the Perilous & Sparks series which features two savvy teen agents who keep their cool in a dangerous cloak and dagger game that spans the globe.

Diane Burton
I really like how Diane combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction, and romance into her writing. Her scifi romance novella, Mission to New Earth, was a great read. I feel like if we ever met up in person, we'd have a lot to talk about, including our shared love of the scifi series Firefly.
 
Friday, June 29th

Chrys Fey
Chrys is another of those kind and supportive people I've met through the IWSG. I think Chrys has hit on a really unique idea - she's combined romance with natural disasters in her Disaster Crimes series. She also shares writing advice and tips - what she calls "sparks" on her blog and YouTube channel.

Gypsy Kramer
I met Bill and his lovely wife, Nina, through my sister - they're all library people in Portland, Oregon. Since they own a sailboat and we own a sailboat, my sister thought it would be fun to get us all together. And it was fun! Check out their blog and see the amazing transformation they've making to their Cascade 36.

Cloud Nine Girl
Erika is one of the most positive people out there on social media. I enjoy checking her Twitter feed to see her latest inspirational quotes and posts. She's a Kansas girl and I loved how she wove in descriptions of life in the Wheat State into her short story in the Hero Lost anthology.

Saturday, June 30th

The Sea Stewarts
Annabel, her husband, and two adorable daughters are an adventurous Australian family. After living on their sailboat, they've now become the Land Stewarts in search of new adventures.

J.L. Campbell
J.L. is a Jamaican author who wrote her first book when she was twelve years old. After a hiatus of two decades, she returned to writing and has published numerous romance, romantic suspense, women's fiction, new adult, and young adult books.Check out her books here.

Tuesday, July 3rd

Spunk on a Stick
L. Diane Wolfe is one of the driving forces behind IWSG. She runs Dancing Lemur Press which published the Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life in which I had my very first story published. She's also a writer herself, a cat lover, and a Minion fanatic - just some of the many reasons why she's so awesome.

Crystal Collier
Crystal is one of those people who amazes me. She's a homeschooling mom of a large family, she's a published author (check out her Maiden of Time series), and she still finds the time to support fellow bloggers and writers. Oh, and did I mention that she loves cheese? Anyone who loves cheese is okay in my books.



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.

How many M&M'S do you think I'm going to eat tomorrow on release day to calm my nerves? Put your guess below in the comments and I'll be sure to count and report back exactly how many were consumed.

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

18 June 2018

Life On A Sailboat Is Weird

I've lived on a sailboat for so long that sometimes I forget just how weird it is. But then there's the bilge to remind me that's it's a weird life. And the turkey baster. That's weird too.

This is the bilge on our boat. It's usually covered up by a floorboard because it's scary inside. Wires, hoses, bilge pumps, keel bolts and the thing you don't want to see. . .water. Water belongs on the outside of your boat, not the inside.


We're in the rainy season and there's been a lot of thunderstorms. So much rain. So much water. So much water that isn't content to drip off of the decks, but instead likes to worm its way inside and drain into the bilge. Where exactly it's coming from is anyone's guess.

Every day, I've been monitoring the bilge and draining water out of it. When it gets too high, the automatic bilge pump takes over. But because our manual bilge pump is acting up, I do my part too, by emptying it out myself with a tiny cup and my trusty turkey baster. Yes, a turkey baster. I told you life on a sailboat is weird.

Turkey basters aren't just for Thanksgiving anymore, they can get liquid out of hard to reach spots, including the marine toilet when you need to change the joker valve. Don't worry, I made sure to label my baster with a warning >>Do Not Use On Turkeys<<.


It's amazing how much more relaxed I am these days about water in the bilge. I remember back a few years ago when we had an issue and I thought out boat was going to sink. Nowadays, I just sigh and get out my turkey baster and reflect on the weirdness of life.

{You can read more about how Nancy Drew's investigation of The Case of the Slowly Sinking Ship here.}

What's weird about your life? Do you have to label your turkey baster?

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 available for pre-order at:

Amazon (US)
Amazon (CA)
Amazon (UK)
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Apple iBooks
Google Play

15 June 2018

Morning Coffee | Random Thoughts & Oddities


Paul at Lat43 does these hysterical Morning Tea blog posts which are a brain dump of whatever pops into his head while he's writing them. I decided to steal his idea. Except, I'm drinking coffee while I write this and he drinks tea, so it isn't really stealing, is it?

So, here we go - all of the random nonsense floating through my head while I sip on my morning coffee.

  • I stayed at a house in Atlanta earlier this month that came complete with two cats, one dog, and an Alexa. I loved the cats, the dog was sweet, but Alexa creeped me out. The thought of an object in the corner talking to me was weird. As much as I love reading scifi, I don't think I'm really cut out for a world populated with androids and AIs. 
  • Of course, I'm one of those people who has the camera on my computer covered up with blue tape. You know that they're watching, don't you?
  • Some raccoons got on my boat in the middle of the night and made a terrible racket.
  • I'm assuming they're raccoons because the alternatives that I imagined are frightening. Like an army of Alexas trying to break in and remove the blue tape from my computer.
  • What would you do if you had a child named Alexa? How would she know if you were talking to her or the box?
  • I asked Alexa about it. She told me we could change her name. I think she meant her name, not the child's name, but who really knows what AIs mean. They're devious that way.
  • Dogs smell peculiar. What gets me is that it doesn't seem to bother them in the least. Cats freak out if they get something gross on them and clean themselves immediately. 
  • The dog I stayed with was called Mr. Chien. I can't pronounce French in the morning before my coffee, so I just called him Dog. He seemed perfectly happy with that. But, then again, he's the type of dog that's pretty happy with everything. 
  • When I got back to the marina, I found soylent green around my boat. It wasn't as bad as a couple of years ago, but it's still pretty scary to think what the chemicals involved in sugar cane production can do to the local waters.
  • If you haven't watched Soylent Green, you should. You might want to think carefully about what you're going to have for dinner afterward though.
  • The house I stayed at had one of those machines with coffee pods. I'm not sure what they're called, but they're wonderful. You don't have to clean up coffee grounds, you just chuck the plastic pod in the trash.
  • Yes, yes, I know - so bad for the environment. That's why we don't own one.
  • Okay, that's not really why we don't own one. There are other considerations like lack of space in our galley, the fact that you need electricity to run it, and because we're cheap. We have a perfectly good French press that does the job. Plus we'd feel guilty about all of the plastic pods.
  • Plane tickets are expensive right now. We're looking at flights back for Scott and it's gonna cost a pretty penny.
  • Are pennies really pretty? Where did that expression come from?
  • I spent most of my time in Atlanta trying to win over the two cats. They let me rub their bellies, so I think I was successful.
  • I think I'm going to name my next cat Alexa.

What did you think about over your morning cup of coffee, tea, or other beverage of your choice? What time did you wake up at?

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 available for pre-order at:

Amazon (US)
Amazon (CA)
Amazon (UK)
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Apple iBooks
Google Play

13 June 2018

Wordless Wednesday | What's On My Chart Table


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 - Maybe it was the beer I had just had, but I thought it would be interesting to take a picture of what was on my chart table. 

2 - You'll find chart tables on boats. They're where you store and look at nautical charts. Although, nowadays, many people use electronic charts instead of paper charts.

3 - So what's on my chart table?
  • Some antibacterial cream for my head wound (it's a long story)
  • A napkin that I picked up off of the free table (with a very strange and mesmerizing pattern)
  • Two pairs of nail scissors which my very frugal friend used to "dissect" an old backpack so that she could re-purpose the zippers etc.
  • A flashlight (handy for seeing into the depths of the fridge and finding that last elusive yogurt)
  • A bike pump
  • A reminder to fill out our FBAR form (report of foreign bank and financial accounts that the US government requires us to file each year, I guess to make sure we're not laundering money, although would money launderers fill out these forms?)

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!


Murder at the Marina available for pre-order at:

Amazon (US)
Amazon (CA)
Amazon (UK)
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Apple iBooks
Google Play


11 June 2018

Reader Ideas On How To Kill Someone In A Boatyard | You Guys Are Scary!

On Friday, I asked our readers here and over on Facebook for their ideas on how to murder someone in a boatyard. I was astounded at how many responses we got. And a little scared. So many well-thought out ideas. Is it possible some of you have personal experience with this?

I thought I'd share some of the different methods people suggested just in case your neighbor at the boatyard is getting on your nerves. Not that you'd put any of these into practice in real life, but sometimes it's cathartic to imagine what could happen.

1  - BEING CRUSHED BY A BOAT

Building on my original idea of using a jack stand as a murder weapon, several people suggested that someone could monkey around with the stands causing a boat to fall on top of someone and crush them to death.

One of the most creative twists on this idea came from Deb Akey who suggested that a boat could crush the "Wicked Witch of the Boatyard" leaving just the shoes peeping out à la Wizard of Oz. Then the amazingly talented cruising cartoonist Sarah Steenland created this illustration to demonstrate exactly how it would work.

Illustration by Sarah Steenland


2 - DEADLY ENCOUNTERS WITH THE TRAVELIFT

Travelifts are used to hoist boats in and out of the water and move them around marinas and boatyards. People suggested that one of the straps could break causing a boat to fall down and fatally harm someone or that the Travelift could be used to run someone over. Lesson learned: stay clear of the Travelift when it's in operation.



3 -  OUCH, THAT HURT!

There were a lot of suggestions about things that could be dropped on someone's head. Someone had the idea that a windlass could mysteriously "malfunction" causing the chain and anchor to come crashing down. I can see how the murderer could try to pass that off as an accident. We've been having a terrible time getting our windlass to work - it has a mind of its own, but fortunately hasn't attempted murder yet.

Other thoughts included hitting someone with a winch handle. {Hmm. . .that sounds familiar. Maybe that happens in my first book, Murder at the Marina? Could that be it?} Someone also mentioned real-life experience with the support arm of a fridge door failing and causing injury.

One of the devious ideas that someone put forward was to hit the victim over the head with a big piece of ice (maybe ice used to store fresh fish at the dock). The murder weapon would then melt, leaving no evidence as to how the dastardly crime happened. 

If you saw the sailing cult classic film Captain Ron, then you'll be familiar with how a flare gun can be used as a deadly weapon. A speargun could also be used to kill someone as well.



4 - SHOULD HAVE WORN A RESPIRATOR

There were lots of suggestions related to the products commonly used on boat projects. A lot of this stuff is super toxic. A friend recently loaned me some stuff to remove adhesive from our cockpit. It was working great until I realized I was getting pretty light-headed. Then I read the container. Definitely should have been wearing a respirator. I think I lost a few brain cells that day.

There are a lot of chemicals that can kill you in a boatyard, either on their own or mixed together. The third book I'm planning the series is called Poisoned by the Pier and I think I'll work in some sort of chemical-related death into it.



5 - IT'S A LONG WAY DOWN

That's a picture of me on a bosun's chair up at the top of our mast. I'm pretty scared of heights, so I don't think anyone was more surprised than I was that I agreed to do this. Sadly, accidents do happen when people go up the mast, which is why you always use a second safety line in addition to the primary one.

I can definitely see a murderer doing something to the lines or bosun's chair which would cause the victim to fall down and crash in the water or on land, or possibly even get caught up and hung in the rigging.

You could also get seriously hurt if you fell off of a ladder or were pushed from the deck onto the ground. Actually, the more I think about it, the less I want to be in a boatyard. It's a dangerous place even without a murderer on the loose.

A few people suggested hanging someone from a halyard, which is actually one of the tentative titles I'm thinking about for a future book.



6 - BOOM!

Many boaters use propane onboard for cooking. It's a great choice - readily available, relatively inexpensive, and easy to use. But it is a flammable gas and the problem with flammable gases is that they can cause everything to go boom.

Fire is a real risk onboard a boat. More than one boat has been lost due to faulty electrical connections, a propane explosion, or an issue with the fuel system. I can definitely see how a murderer could off his victim through some sort of fire, hoping that any criminal evidence would be burned up in smoke. We have several fire extinguishers on our boat. Let's hope we never have to use them. 



7 - OWNING & WORKING ON A BOAT

A few people pointed out that you don't have to get fancy when it comes to murder. Just owning a boat and doing work on it yourself in the sweltering summer heat is enough to drive someone to their death. And, if that's not enough, give them the bill for being in the boatyard and that will finish them off.



8 - OTHER GRUESOME SUGGESTIONS

There were lots of other gruesome suggestions such as putting fast-curing epoxy in someone's nose and mouth. What a horrible way to go! Or luring someone onboard with the pretense of a fishing trip, then stuffing them in a crab cage and tossing it overboard. What about wild dogs chasing you down and biting you? Perhaps the most gruesome of all was having to use the bathroom in the boatyard in the middle of the night. Not only are boatyard bathrooms pretty gross, who knows what's lurking in the dark waiting to get you.

People also had devious ideas about where to hide the body - in the holding tank or lazarette, buried under lead and fiberglass in the keel, or in a shrink-wrapped boat where no one can see what's inside.


MURDER AT THE MARINA

If you want to check out the murder method I used in my first cozy mystery, >>Murder at the Marina<< will be released on June 21st and is available for pre-order:

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


Don't all these ideas make you want to go boating? Any other suggestions for how to murder someone in a boatyard, marina, or while out sailing? It's all great inspiration as I start to plot out the next books in the series.

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

09 June 2018

Saturday Spotlight | Release Of "Write With Fey" By Chrys Fey

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.


* * *


BLURB

Catch the sparks you need to write, edit, publish, and market your book!

Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication offers an abundance of data in one handy book. From writing your novel to prepping for publication and beyond, you’ll find sparks on every page, including 100 bonus marketing tips. You’ll also discover how to write specific scenes and characters, adding depth to your work.

• Spark One: Being a Writer
• Spark Two: Story Essentials
• Spark Three: A Book’s Stepping Stones
• Spark Four: How To
• Spark Five: Character ER
• Spark Six: Editing
• Spark Seven: Publishing
• Spark Eight: Marketing
• Spark Nine: Writing About
• Spark Ten: Final Inspiration

With so much information, you’ll take notes, highlight, and flag pages to come back to again and again on your writing journey.

BUY LINKS

Amazon US / Amazon CA / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / KOBO / iTunes


AUTHOR BIO












Chrys Fey is the author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept blending romance, crimes, and disasters. She’s partnered with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and runs their Goodreads book club. She’s also an editor for Dancing Lemur Press.

Fey realized she wanted to write by watching her mother pursue publication. At the age of twelve, she started her first novel, which flourished into a series she later rewrote at seventeen. Fey lives in Florida and is always on the lookout for hurricanes.

Connect with Chrys at:

Website / Blog / Amazon / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


GIVEAWAY!

Open to all from June 4th 2018 – July 6th 2018

Click here to enter or use the form below.




a Rafflecopter giveaway

What books have you been reading lately? What would you recommend?

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08 June 2018

Reader Question | How Would You Murder Someone?


So, here's a bit of a strange question for you—how would you murder someone in a boatyard? I'm currently working on my next cozy mystery, >>Bodies in the Boatyard<<, and am at a bit of a loss for how to kill off a very unfortunate character.

My original idea was to have the murderer use a jack stand to clobber someone over the head. If you're not a boat person, jack stands are metal supports that they use to prop boats up when they're on the hard.

Oh, I should probably also explain "the hard" too. It means that your boat is on land, not in the water. You put boats on the hard to store them or to work on them. There's a saying that goes, "life is hard on the hard."


The jack stand seemed like a great idea in theory. But, then a friend and I tested it out and the theory didn't pan out. Just so we're clear—by "testing," I mean lifting them up, not actually killing people. 

Turns out those suckers are pretty heavy and awkward to use as a murder weapon. So, I'm back at the drawing board and that's where you come in. What do you think? How would you kill someone in a boatyard? Leave your suggestions in the comments below. If I use your idea, I'll mention you in the acknowledgments when the book is released. And, don't worry, I'll assume these are ideas you've dreamed up, not actual things you've put into practice.

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! 

Murder at the Marina available for pre-order at:

Amazon (US)
Amazon (CA)
Amazon (UK)
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Apple iBooks
Google Play


06 June 2018

Simon The Time Travelling Cat's Dubious Advice | IWSG



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. I'm co-hosting this month, along with Beverly Stowe McClure, Tonja Drecker, and Tyrean Martinson.

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's harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?"

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. 

* * *

Cat image via The Graphics Fairy

I was lying down with my eyes closed when Simon the Time Traveling Cat jumped on me. He pressed his gray paws into my stomach firmly. When I didn't respond, he inched upward and then batted me in the face. "Wake up, lady!"

"Shush, Simon. I'm busy," I said trying unsuccessfully to push him away.

"Busy with what? Digesting that entire pack of Oreos you just ate?"

I opened my eyes, wiped a few telltale black crumbs off of my shirt. "No, I'm trying to think of character names for the cozy mystery I'm working on. There are two young guys who work on fishing charter boats, a real estate agent, and a young couple who live on a catamaran. Any ideas?"

"That's easy. Simon."

"Simon? Maybe. But for which character."

"All of them."

"Huh?"

"Geez, lady. Sometimes, you're so dense. Name everyone in your book Simon." He curled up on my neck and played with my earring. 

I turned my head and stared at him. "Don't you think that would get a little confusing?"

"Well, only if your readers are as stupid as you. Besides, it will be good for sales. Who wouldn't want to read about me?"

I picked Simon up and placed him on the table. "You do realize that this book isn't about you, don't you?"

Simon lay down on top of the empty Oreo bag. After washing behind his ears for a few moments, he turned to me and said, "I guess that explains your really poor Amazon ranking. Your characters and their names suck."


* * *

I find character names a lot harder to come up with than book titles. Although I'm not sure how great they are, it was pretty easy to come up with the titles for my cozy sailing mystery series. Basically,  variations on murder with a nautical theme (Murder at the Marina, Bodies in the Boatyard, Poisoned by the Pier etc.). Having said that, the names in my cozy mysteries are heaps easier to dream up, than the ones were for my fantasy short story published in last year's IWSG anthology (Hero Lost). I wrote a blog post about the process - Imaginary Language & Character Names in Fantasy Stories - if you want to check it out.


* * *

And in other news, the release of my debut novel, >>Murder at the Marina<< is on June 21st. Tons of people have volunteered to support the release (thank you!), so there's going to be a blog tour & fiesta running from June 21st - July 4th. More details about the participants on Wednesday, June 20th.

If you signed up for an ARC, you should have received an email by now with a link to download it. If you haven't, please drop me an email at ellenjacobsonauthor (at) gmail (dot) com.



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

My cozy mystery, >>Murder at the Marina<<, will be released on June 21, 2018 and is now available for pre-order at Amazon (US) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (UK) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple iBooks | Google Play

A paperback version will available closer to the release date. Find out more on Goodreads, check out the advance reviews, and add to your To-Read list.

Have you ever been given some really dubious advice? Did you follow it? What do you find harder to come up with - book titles or character names?

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!

04 June 2018

Month In Numbers

Clockwise from upper left: (1) The coolest gift ever - a Lt Uhura finger puppet!; (2) Courtesy flags; (3) Paperback proof copies from KDP and Ingram Spark; (4) A gloomy day at the marina; (5) Hurricane season starts early with TS Alberto; and (6) Our friend Ted with some of the cute boat kids at the marina.

It's time for the monthly recap in numbers, a collection of odd tidbits that popped into my head as I reflected on the month past. As usual, the month just zipped by. It's hard to believe that 31 days can evaporate so quickly.

If I had to pick one word to characterize May, it would be >>rain<<. Lots and lots of rain. And that can only mean one thing. . .lots and lots of leaks. I had towels and bowls placed strategically around our boat. The bilge pump seemed to run constantly. {One of life's unsolved mysteries continues to be the source of the water draining into the bilge.}

There were a couple of boating milestones during the month - one set of friends splashing their boat after months and months of work on it and getting ready to set off on cruising adventures and another set of friends selling their boat.

On the writing front, I spent a lot of time getting ready for the release of >>Murder at the Marina<< on June 21st and making good progress on the first draft of the next book in the series, >>Bodies in the Boatyard<<.

But enough of all those words, let's get into some numbers:

  • 3,500 - The number of species of mosquitoes. To be honest, I don't really care how many species there are. All I know is that the mosquito population exploded at the marina. Probably due to all of that rain.
  • 8 - How many mosquito bites I got in the space of five minutes. I went to take a shower the other day, noticed two mosquitoes and killed one of them. After I got undressed, a swarm appeared and attacked me. I desperately wanted to run outside to escape, but it's not like this place is clothing optional, nor do I have any desire to run around naked. I got dressed as quick as I could, while fending off the little bloodsucking pests, but eight of them left their mark.
  • 30k - Number of words I wrote. Most were for >>Bodies in the Boatyard<<. The rest were for this blog and my author blog, as well as guest posts for my >>Murder at the Marina<< blog tour.
  • 1 - How many hours I spent with a towel pressed to the side of my head. Here's the problem with writing murder mysteries and thinking up ways to kill people in marinas - sometimes your plots come true. A friend was handing down a foot pump to me from her boat and somehow it landed on top of my head instead of in my hands. I didn't know anything was wrong until she pointed out there was blood dripping down my face. Head injuries bleed a lot. Fortunately, I survived this attempt on my life. 
  • $7.97 - How much I spent on Kindle books.
  •  15 - How many advance reviews/ratings I already have on Goodreads for >>Murder at the Marina<<. Many, many thanks to those people who have taken the time to read and review ARCs (advance reader copies).
  • 1 - The number of catfish friends reported seeing in a puddle in the workyard. The workyard is very far away from the water. There's a theory that it was a walking catfish. Seriously, fish that walk. Who knew such a thing existed?
  • 3 - How many courtesy flags I bought from our friends selling their boat. Now we just have to get this boat off the dock and sail to new and exciting places to use them. {For non-boaters, you fly a courtesy flag of the country you're sailing in, along with your own national flag.}
  • 2223 - The year that Lt. Uhura was born. Did you see that picture above of the awesome Lt. Uhura finger puppet? Who among you wishes they had one of their own? {For people who live under rocks - Lt. Uhura is a Star Trek character. Although, if you live under a rock, chances are you don't have WiFi and aren't reading this blog post.}

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

Provisioning for a Voyage | Whaling Ships vs. Modern Sailboats
Flashback Friday | The Time I Accidentally Sent Someone Porn
Little Letters

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

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Murder at the Marina available for pre-order at:

Amazon (US)
Amazon (CA)
Amazon (UK)
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Apple iBooks
Google Play

02 June 2018

Saturday Spotlight | "Once...Tales, Myths & Legends Of Faerie" By Ronel Janse Van Vuuren

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 the release of >>Once...Tales, Myths and Legends of Faerie<< by Ronel Janse van Vuuren. I've got an interview with Ronel with some serious and not-so-serious questions, along with details about her new release below.


AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1 - What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always thought that there was more to the fairy tales we heard and read than was shared. Also, I wanted to share the backstory of Faerie. In my other (yet unpublished) works, I refer to Faerie’s past without going into it. Now is the time to reveal secrets...

Ellen: Ooh, secrets! I love a good secret.

2 - Do you have any writing rituals?

A few. They involve pens, post-its, notebooks, mood music (for this book I listened to a lot of Linkin Park, Within Temptation and Nightwish), an imagined deadline, and the promise of a reward (being allowed to watch the newest season of “Arrow” was the reward for this book). The rest is just butt-in-chair stuff.

Ellen: I watched "Arrow" when it first came out. I didn't realize it was still on. I'll have to check it out.

3 - What's more important - character or plot?

Both. Without a compelling character, the plot can be amazing but not worth following. And what is a great character with a plot that only involves mundane shopping and to-do lists? A balance between the two makes for great reading – even if the plot is only vaguely hinted at (like in flash fiction).  

Ellen: I've always thought writing flash fiction would be really hard.

4 - What do you like best about being an author? What do you like least?

Being able to crush worlds at the stroke of a keyboard. Mwah-ha-ah. Having to torture my characters… Oh, wait. I actually like that too. As long as I’m able to create a great pay-off, of course.

Ellen: I like torturing characters too. 

5 - What's your favorite cookie? If you don't like cookies, what's wrong with you? Oops, sorry, scratch that. My follow-up question was meant to be far more polite - "Why don't you like cookies?" 

That’s a difficult one. Anything with chocolate is, of course, high on the list. But I think I’ll have to go with ginger cookies – home baked with my great-grandmother’s recipe (my dad has to bake them, I’m horrible at baking cookies).

Ellen: I love ginger cookies!

6 - A penguin walks through your front door wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why did he come visit you? 

“Does the sun ever set here?” He obviously got lost or thinks he’s a chicken and will fit in with the rest of my flock.

Ellen: That would be fun to see a penguin hanging out with some chickens.



BLURB

Damsels in distress, curses, echoes of faery tales and tragic love affairs swirl together in sixteen stories found in a dragon’s lair by a curious half-fae.

Unexpected changes to reality causes more than one damsel to turn into a strong, independent woman who takes charge of her own life.

A collection of short stories about Faerie and the fae that live in the human realm. A few of the stories had won competitions and all of them had enchanted readers.

Learn their secrets and enter the realm of the fae…

BOOK EXCERPT

Mortals cannot perceive the veil unless they are invited to – or extremely gifted. For centuries, Man and Fae have been kept apart, for nothing good ever comes from them mixing. The collection of The Adventures of Saphira the Faery Dog is proof of this.

Still, there are magical creatures that side neither with Man nor Fae.

Dragons are such creatures. They hold the knowledge of both worlds. Some even collect it in the written word, keeping it safe in their lairs.

An inquisitive half-fae once broke into the lair of a dragon known to hoard books. The knowledge she found was too much to keep to herself…

Here are a few tales, myths and legends from Faerie. Some may sound remarkably similar to legends held by mortals, while others are…well…as otherworldly as the fae themselves.

BUY LINKS

Available on Amazon or click on this Universal Book Link to find >>Once...Tales, Myths and Legends of Faerie<< at your favorite online store.

Also in Afrikaans - available on Amazon or click on this Universal Book Link to find >>Eens...Verhale, Mites en Legendes van Feerie<<  at your favorite online store.

ISBN (EPUB): 978-0-6399476-2-4
ISBN (PRINT): 978-0-6399476-3-1
RELEASE DATE: May 23,  2018

ABOUT THE AUTHOR












Ronel Janse van Vuuren is the author of New Adult, Young Adult and children’s fiction filled with mythology and folklore. Her dark fantasy stories can be read for free on Wattpad and on her blog Ronel the Mythmaker. She won Fiction Writer of the Year 2016 for her Afrikaans stories on INK: Skryf in Afrikaans. Her published works can be viewed on Goodreads.

Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing. All of her books are available for purchase on Amazon.

Connect with Ronel on Amazon | Twitter | Pinterest | Google+ | Goodreads | Blog


What books have you been reading lately? Do you speak Afrikaans? What's your favorite cookie?

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01 June 2018

Launching A Boat & Shaving A Beard

Do you remember Ted and Sandy from our New Year's Eve Boat Crawl? Take a close look at Ted's beard. We'll get back to that in a little bit.


Ted and Sandy spent >>fifteen very long months<< slaving over their boat in the work yard. Imagine fifteen months of climbing up and down a ladder, equipment and tools everywhere, endless boat projects, and a boat that takes every dollar you throw at it, laughs, and demands even more money. Yep, that's life in the work yard.

Finally, the big day came - the day that Ted and Sandy launched their boat, Ragtime Gal. They were understandably a little nervous. . .okay a lot nervous. After all, when your boat has been out of the water for a long time, you do wonder if it will actually float.

Good news - it did!


Then the big moment came (the one I think Ted had been even more nervous about) - the shaving of his beard. He started growing his rather impressive whiskers while they were working on their boat and swore once she was splashed that he would shave it off.

Of course, if there's one thing that the Indiantown Party Posse is good at, it's turning anything (even the shaving of a beard) into a party.


Sandy did a live Facebook feed of the beard shaving. It was so cute to see his mom commenting about being happy that her baby was finally going to be clean-shaven.


Who is that guy with Sandy? Oh, wait, that's Ted. He looks so different!


Then it was time for some celebratory pizza and cake. But not before placing the remnants of the beard in a plastic bag, putting it on the free table, and waiting to see if anyone would pick it up. It kind of looks like a brillo pad, don't you think?


There's no rest for the weary. After dinner, it was time to move Ragtime Gal from the face dock over to their slip. This involved pulling it from one side of the marina to the other with a very long line. Oh, yeah, did I mention that the engine isn't working? Guess, Ted and Sandy's boat projects aren't done yet.

Here's Julia getting ready to dinghy the line over to the other dock.


Then some of the guys pulled the line, kind of like tug-of-war.


Here she comes.


She made it into her slip. Easy-peasy.


What do you think of Ted's before and after looks? What kinds of things do you do to celebrate a big milestone and accomplishment?

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Murder at the Marina available for pre-order at:

Amazon (US)
Amazon (CA)
Amazon (UK)
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Apple iBooks
Google Play