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12 October 2019

Saturday Spotlight | Author Interview With Charles Suddeth

In addition to the usual blog posts every Monday and Wednesday 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, I have an author interview with Charles Suddeth to celebrate the release of his book, Stone Man and the Trail of Tears. Sit back, grab a snack, and find out what Charles has to say about writing, penguins, and cookies.

1 - What inspired you to write this book? 


My great-great grandfather, Bill Pennington was born about 1830 in a Cherokee mountain village, possibly in Kentucky. The family moved north of the Ohio River around the time of the Trail of Tears to a rural area north of Charlestown, Indiana, 30 miles north of Louisville, Kentucky where a mixture of whites and Meti (French/Shawnee mixed bloods) lived. Many of the Cherokees in eastern Kentucky were chased out during this period.

2 - Do you have any writing rituals? 

I do love my coffee. After coffee, I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and clear my mind. My inner self takes control.

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

I think they are equally important. A fantastic plot will generate great characters. And complex, conflicted characters will get in trouble and generate great plots.

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


I love writing stories that people cannot stop reading. What do you like the least? I am a humble person. I hate telling editors and readers that my books are a great read. I would rather tell them about my friends’ books.

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?"

The one in my hand. I never met a cookie I didn’t like! If pressed, I might mutter about oatmeal raisin cookies. I will answer both ways. I don’t like food that fits in my hand and contain infinite calories.

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



“Que tal, yall?” says penguin. He has come to beg me for oatmeal cookies, but he is out of luck.







7 - What else would you like us to know about you? 


I love learning about DNA research, though I am not an expert. Dinosaur tissue has been discovered, and T-rex may come back to life. I want to write about the resurrected dinosaurs!

Editor's Note: Thanks for participating in the interview, Charles. Oatmeal cookies are a great choice! Too bad the penguin got there too late :)

About Charles

Charles Suddeth has published poetry, picture books, middle reader’s books, young adult thrillers, and adult mysteries in English, Cherokee, and Turkish. He is active with Green River Writers and leads a monthly SCBWI Social. He lives in Louisville and teaches for the Jefferson County Schools. 

You can connect with Charles on his Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Tumblr


About Stone Man

After U.S. soldiers attack twelve-year-old Tsatsi’s Cherokee village, his family flees to the Smokey Mountains. Facing storms, flood, and hunger, they’re forced to go where Stone Man, a monstrous giant, is rumored to live.

His family seeks shelter in an abandoned village, but soldiers hunt them down. Tsatsi and his sister Sali escape, but Sali falls ill and is kidnapped by Stone Man. Tsatsi gives chase and confronts the giant, only to learn this monster isn’t what he seems.

Their journey is a dangerous one. Will Tsatsi find the strength to become a Cherokee warrior? And will they ever find their family?

Print ISBN 9781939844620
Driven to Stone Man’s trail...
EBook ISBN 9781939844651

Release date – October 8, 2019

Find Stone Man: And the Trail of Tears at: Amazon | Apple Books | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


09 October 2019

Wordless Wednesday | Are They Out There?




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 - I bought a copy of Contact for a dollar at a thrift store last week. It's one of my favorite movies, but I've never read the book. I wonder how much they "Hollywoodized" it? Was Carl Sagan happy with the outcome?

2 - According to this Gallup survey, 60% of Americans think that UFO sightings can be explained by human activity or natural phenomenon. 16% claim that they've personally seen a UFO.

3 - What about you - do you believe in UFOs? Do you believe there's life out there in the universe?

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

 
For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here and here.

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




Get a FREE copy of Robbery at the Roller Derby by signing up for my newsletter HERE.

Or you can buy a copy for 99c/99p at your favorite retailer HERE

Also available in paperback and large print.

This prequel novella is set around twelve years before Murder at the Marina and tells the story of Mollie's roller derby days and how she and Scooter met. Find out more at ellenjacobsonauthor.com

07 October 2019

Cost Of Living Aboard A Broken Boat | July & August 2019

Oops! I meant to post this in September and never got around to it. Too many distractions with a hurricane headed our way. But better late than sorry.

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.

While we had hoped to be in the Bahamas this season on our boat, we're currently at Indiantown Marina in south Florida on the hard in the workyard due to a crack in our hull. We've sorted things out with insurance but we're STILL working through logistics of how and when to do the repair. Yes, we're STILL on the hard. It's a long story. Buy us a beer sometime and we'll tell you all about it.

In the meantime, we've basically put everything else on hold. There's no point in spending money on our boat until we're sure the crack can be repaired. So this cost report is going to be a bit dull as there was very little spending on anything besides workyard fees and food.

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.

Living Aboard Costs | July & August 2019

Overall, we spent >>$4,163<< during July and August. That was up a bit from the previous two months ($3,677). You'll see why below.

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).

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

All right, now that we've got that out of the way, let's dive into the numbers.

GROCERIES | Total = $879

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. We didn't exactly pull that off this time around. I think it was in part due to the fact that we had gone through most of the provisions we had bought at the end of last year in anticipation of being out cruising.

PERSONAL & HOUSEHOLD | Total = $40

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 = $189

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.

Our spend in this category was a little high. I spent more on books than I normally do and we bought tickets to see the Minnesota Twins play in Miami ($22).

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. To be honest, I should probably look at our plan. We've been able to use the WiFi at the marina and haven't had to use much of our cell phone data, so we might be spending more than we need to.

BOAT FUEL | Total = Nil


Tickety Boo has been sitting in the workyard so we haven't needed to get any diesel or gas.

PROPANE  | Total = $7

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. But we did get some small propane bottles for our Magma grill in August.

MARINA COSTS | Total = $1,810

The workyard isn't cheap - $30 a day which includes water an electric. If you pay for a month in advance, you get a small discount. You can kind of think of our monthly fees as rent or a mortgage payment.

BOAT STUFF | Total = $194

This category is for all the stuff we buy for the boat, as well as  repair and maintenance costs. Since our boat is broken, we've put boat projects on hold for now for the most part (there are always a few things you still have to take care of to keep your boat livable). Much of our spend over the past two months was for insurance.

TRANSPORT | Total = $171

This category is for costs related to our vehicle, mostly for gas to drive into the nearby "big city" of Stuart for errands. We typically fill up our vehicle once a month. However, in August, we filled up twice which added to the overall cost. In addition to driving, this category also includes $42 for two round-trip tickets for the train from West Palm to Miami (once to go see the Twins play, once to go biking).

MEDICAL EXPENSES | Total = $123

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 and prescriptions, as well as doctors visits.

 
OTHER | Total = $638


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, postage etc.

I ended up buying a new laptop in August ($329) which is one of the major reasons why our expenses were so high. My old computer decided to have a nervous breakdown. Or was that me who had a nervous breakdown when it stopped working? We also had to FedEx some documents to the UK which cost seriously pretty penny. But there wasn't any choice - it needed to get there ASAP. Sometimes, you just have to spend money, even if you don't want to.


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!

Get a FREE copy of Robbery at the Roller Derby by signing up for my newsletter HERE.

Or you can buy a copy for 99c/99p at your favorite retailer HERE

Also available in paperback and large print.

This prequel novella is set around twelve years before Murder at the Marina and tells the story of Mollie's roller derby days and how she and Scooter met. Find out more at ellenjacobsonauthor.com

05 October 2019

Saturday Spotlight | You Beneath Your Skin By Damyanti Biswas

In addition to the usual blog posts every Monday and Wednesday 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, I'm thrilled to be helping out Damyanti Biswas with the release of You Beneath Your Skin. Not only is this thriller a great read, all author proceeds are being donated to two Indian non-profit organizations - Project WHY which provides educational support to underprivileged children and Stop Acid Attacks which fights acid attacks and supports survivors.

You can find out more about You Beneath Your Skin below.


Blurb

LIES. AMBITION. FAMILY.

It’s a dark, smog-choked new Delhi winter. Indian American single mother Anjali Morgan juggles her job as a psychiatrist with caring for her autistic teenage son. She is in a long-standing affair with ambitious police commissioner Jatin Bhatt – an irresistible attraction that could destroy both their lives.

Jatin’s home life is falling apart: his handsome and charming son is not all he appears to be, and his wife has too much on her plate to pay attention to either husband or son. But Jatin refuses to listen to anyone, not even the sister to whom he is deeply attached.

Across the city there is a crime spree: slum women found stuffed in trash bags, faces and bodies disfigured by acid. And as events spiral out of control Anjali is horrifyingly at the centre of it all …

In a sordid world of poverty, misogyny, and political corruption, Jatin must make some hard choices. But what he unearths is only the tip of the iceberg. Together with Anjali he must confront old wounds and uncover long-held secrets before it is too late.

‘What happened to her face?’ The question shot out of Anjali before she could stop herself. Jatin hadn’t warned her about this.

‘Tests show industrial-grade sulphuric acid,’ the doctor said. He lifted the green plastic sheet to just above the chest. The acid had found its way to the woman’s chin, her throat; it flowed down into her chest in mottled pink-brown tracks.

About You Beneath Your Skin

You Beneath Your Skin is a crime novel about the investigation of an acid attack on a woman from Delhi’s upper class, set against the backdrop of crimes against underprivileged women. They are assaulted, disfigured with acid, and murdered.

While the framework is that of a thriller, the novel threads together different narrative strands. The author tackles various social issues: crimes against women and why they occur, the nexus between political corruption, police and big money; the abuse ofthe underprivileged, be it adults or children.

Of these the issue of crimes against women is the strongest—why do men attack women? Why do they gang together? What happens when a woman tries to break the glass ceiling? Can toxic masculinity masquerade as benevolent patriarchy?

Parents would also find this novel fascinating: how do you bring up a good human being in today’s troubled times? How much do you know of your teenager’s life? If you’re the parent of a special child, what challenges do you face and what sort of support can you expect?

It is a whodunnit, but also a whydunnit, because violent crime unravels those affected: the people, the relationships, the very fabric of society, and we get a glimpse of what lies beneath. That’s why the title, You Beneath Your Skin.

The narrative of the book was researched and shaped during the author’s work with Project WHY, and some of the experiences generously shared by acid attack survivors from the non-profit Stop Acid Attacks. To return this debt of gratitude, all author proceeds from the book will go to these two non-profits.

You get your own copy of You Beneath Your Skin outside of India HERE.

In India, it is available from Simon & Schuster HERE

Add it to your Goodreads list HERE


About the Author

Damyanti Biswas lives in Singapore, and works with India's underprivileged children as part of Project WHY, a charity that promotes educational and social enhancement in underprivileged communities. Her short stories have been published in magazines in US, UK, and Asia, and she helps edit the Forge Literary Magazine.

You can connect with Damyanti on her blog and Twitter.




What's on your reading list? Have you read / are you planning to read You Beneath Your Skin?

02 October 2019

How To Read Without Opposable Thumbs | 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.

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 optional question is:


"It's been said that the benefit of becoming a writer who doesn't read is that all your ideas are new and original. Everything you do is an extension of yourself, instead of a mixture of you and another author. On the other hand, how can you expect people to want your writing if you don't enjoy reading. Thoughts?"
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. You can find out how I answered the question below.

I'm pleased to be co-hosting this month along with Ronel Janse van Vuuren, and Mary Aalgaard, Madeline Mora-Summonte,



"Simon, what are you doing?" I asked frantically. "You're going to break that!"

The large gray cat ignored me and continued to jab his paw on my Kindle as though he was trying to squash a bug crawling across it. As I tried to pull the ereader away from him, his tail swished back and forth in that way that tells you your cat isn't happy to see you.

"Back off, lady," he growled. "I'm in the middle of something."

"In the middle of what? Trying to crack the screen? Go play with one of your toy mice instead."

"Those toy mice are beneath me. Now be quiet. I'm trying to read."

"Read? But you're a cat. You can't read."

"Of course, I can. You think just because we felines don't have opposable thumbs that we can't read? In the past it's always been a pain because we had to lie on top of books that humans were holding and nudge them to turn the pages. Now that they invented ereaders, it's a snap. All you have to do is press your paw on the screen to get the next page."

"Hmm. I'm not exactly sure Kindle screens were designed to withstand claws. What are you reading?"

"A dog training manual." He leaned forward, his whiskers grazing the screen. "What kind of animal would be dumb enough to fall for playing fetch and walking on a leash? Dogs, that's who." He sat back on his haunches. "By the way, lady, you have a lot of stupid books loaded up on your Kindle. Why are you reading all those ridiculous mysteries and sci-fi novels, anyway?"

"I'm a writer. You can't write unless you're also a reader. Although, I am finding I read less and less the more time I spend writing. And I worry about 'copying' other authors' styles and ideas without meaning to. But I can't imagine not reading." I sighed. "I guess it's a writerly conundrum."

"Who cares if you 'accidentally' copy other authors," he said, doing a pretty good impression of air quotes with his paws. "No one reads your stupid books. What you should be worrying about is why we're out of full-fat milk. You better get to the store and grab some for my afternoon snack. But first, order another one of these Kindles for me. Yours has a lot of scratch marks on the screen. Makes it hard to read."


* * *

And in other news, I recently released a prequel novella to my Mollie McGhie Sailing Mystery Series - Robbery at the Roller Derby. It's set around twelve years before the start of Murder at the Marina and tells the story of Mollie's roller derby days and how she met her husband, Scooter.

For those of you familiar with Mollie's antics, you can only imagine the trouble she gets up to as part of a roller derby team. Can she skate her way out of danger or will her nosiness be the death of her?


If you sign up for my newsletter HERE, you download a FREE copy of Robbery at the Roller Derby. 

Alternatively, you can pick up the ebook for 99c/99p at your favorite retailer HERE. It's also available in paperback and in large print.


Find out more at ellenjacobsonauthor.com


What about you - do you think writers should also be readers or doesn't it matter? Have you ever been to a roller derby match? Do you prefer "real" books or ereaders?

30 September 2019

Is Sailing Really Interesting To Non-Sailors? Writer's Tips & Tricks

One of the challenges I face writing a cozy mystery series about a reluctant sailor turned amateur sleuth is how to write about sailing in a way that's engaging for people who know nothing about boats.

Now that I've published three books in my series (plus a prequel), I've figured out a few tips and tricks about how to make it interesting. Want to know more? Hop on over to Elizabeth Spann Craig's blog HERE and check out my guest post.




25 September 2019

Wordless Wednesday | Autumnal Thoughts




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 - I can't believe the fall season is already upon us in the northern hemisphere.

2 - Being in Florida, we don't get the full autumnal experience that you do up north.

3 - I can live without winter, but I do miss fall.

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

 
For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here and here.

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