15 August 2018

Wordless Wednesday | Kashi, The Forgtten Cat

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 - While I was on my blogging break, I posted pictures of random cats (and one dog) to keep you all entertained. Turns out my mom's cat, Kashi, was deeply offended that I didn't include any pictures of her. "Why did you forget all about me?" she asked with a plaintive meow. So, here you go, pictures of the cat who secretly wants to be an internet star.

2 - To be honest, I'm not even sure this is my mom's cat. She's rarely seen, preferring to spend most of her time sleeping under the bed covers. She pretty much hates everyone except my mom, and that's only cause she's the one who makes sure her food bowl is full.

3 - Did you notice how she's trying to file herself next to the ABCDE folder. She knows C is for cat.

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

Find out more at ellenjacobsonauthor.com 

13 August 2018

Sea Turtles & Other Creatures At The Florida Oceanographic Society

There are a lot of fun aspects to being a writer.

There are some not so fun ones as well. Learning how to format books and marketing come to mind.

But let's get back to the fun ones, because that's more. . .fun.

And let's talk about a super-duper fun one that involves sea turtles and other creatures, because turtles are the ultimate in fun.

A friend and I visited the Florida Oceanographic Society in Stuart, Florida as part of my research for my next cozy mystery, Bodies in the Boatyard. One of the characters is a marine biologist specializing in {drum roll, please} sea turtles!

We had a blast and we learned stuff too. We also sweated a lot because it's freaking hot in Florida in the summer, but it was worth it.

Here, let me show you how awesome it was.

First off, we fed stingrays. I have to confess that I made a little yelping sound when the ray swam over my hand and ate the piece of fish I was holding between my fingers.

I love how the girl on the left is wearing a top with sharks on it. Perfect fashion choice for this place.

We got to see baby sea horses. So adorable!

We went for a walk out to the beach. Because I'm not too bothered by snakes (which may surprise some of you), I was in charge of keeping an eye out for any slithering across the path.

While looking at the water is pretty, being out in the Florida sun is torture in the summer. 

Did you know that oysters can help purify polluted waters? Volunteers collect shells from local restaurants, put them in bags, and place them back in the water in strategic locations to create artificial reefs and clean the bad stuff out of the water.

And of course there were sea turtles - four of them, in fact. Turtwig, Lily, Hank, and Anna Belle, all swimming around in a large salt water lagoon along with sharks and big game fish. These turtles can't be relocated to the wild and are happily living out their lives at the oceanographic society. 

Do you like sea turtles? What's your favorite marine wildlife?

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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 

10 August 2018

Three Annoying Things That Start With "P"

I was working on a blog post last night when the power went out. It would have been a great post. At least, I think it would have been. But I can't be sure.

You see when the power goes off here, I'm never quite sure when it will come back on. So I close up my computer to conserve the battery just in case we have an outage that lasts longer than a few hours.

When the power did come back on and I opened my laptop back up, the post had vanished, along with any desire to try to recreate it.

So instead you get this sub-par post about three things that start with the letter "P" that bug me.

1 - Power outages - No surprise there.

2 - Plot holes - I'm battling a multitude of these in my current work-in-progress.

3 - Punctuation - Specifically hyphens. I never know where to put them, so-I'm-just-going-to-start-putting-them-everywhere.

And now for an apology. I've been so busy lately with #2 on my list and trying to get Bodies in the Boatyard ready to sent out to beta readers that I've been TERRIBLE at replying to blog comments and visiting all of you lovely people on your blogs. Hopefully, things will get less busy here in a week or so and things will return to normal.

What are your favorite things that start with "P"? Least favorite ones?

08 August 2018

Wordless Wednesday | Florida Beach

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 - A few weeks ago, some friends and I had a girls day out complete with lunch at a restaurant on the beach at Hutchinson Island in Florida.

2 - It was stinking hot out, but people were still lounging out on the beach soaking up the sun. I stayed in the shade near a fan.

3 - I feel like I shouldn't admit this, but I'm not a big fan of beaches like these. I kind of find the long expanses of sand boring. I much prefer beaches that are nestled in coves, or next to craggy hills, near interesting rock formations etc. Anything to break up the monotony of the endless beach. Anyone else feel this way?

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 

06 August 2018

Five Decidedly Unfrugal Things | August 2018

From time to time, I post about five frugal things we're doing to save money and keep our cruising kitty happy. {By the way, that's not the furry kind of cat, but rather what sailors call their savings. So cute.}

Those posts are inspired by Katy at The Non-Consumer Advocate who regularly posts about five frugal things she's done. Some things are big, some things are small, but they all help keep her spending down and her savings up.

Today, I thought I'd shake things up and share five decidedly unfrugal things I've done lately. Embracing a frugal lifestyle is about making conscious choices regarding where you spend your money. Sometimes those choices involve "splurging" on something.

As you read my unfrugal things, keep in mind that what might be a splurge for one person is a normal expenditure for someone else and vice versa.

1 - Coloring Books & Markers

Someone gave me an Amazon gift card and rather than spend it on something practical for the boat, I bought a couple of coloring books (one of them has an outer space theme!) and some new markers. It's shocking how much good markers cost.

Adult coloring books is one of those fads that some of you hoped was long gone by now, but I find it really relaxing. Kind of like arts and crafts for those of us who aren't very artistic.

2 - Buying a Book

While I don't consider buying books to be a splurge - it's an essential, much like groceries, in my opinion - I did recently buy a book that I normally wouldn't of in order to support a fellow author.

3 - Girls Day Out

I went out to lunch and the movies with some friends a while back. While I do go out to eat occasionally (often to Taco Tuesday cause it's pretty cheap), I usually only go to the movies once or twice a year when a Star Wars or Star Trek movie comes out. Otherwise, I wait until it comes out at the Redbox or on Amazon Prime. I just can't justify spending money on a ticket, popcorn, and soda for just any old movie, but in this case it was a fun outing with the girls.

{By the way, we saw Ocean's 8. Cute, but not something I would have normally gone to the theater to see.}

4 - Tossing Food in the Garbage

The electricity at the marina often cuts in and out when there are storms (which there usually are during the summer), but one day, it kept cutting off for long periods of time. So I turned our fridge off because our batteries are in a really sad state and I didn't want to completely drain them. Then I forgot to turn it back on later that night.

There were some things that definitely needed to be tossed, but there were other items that I could have salvaged. However, I just wasn't in the mood to cook, so tossed it all in the trash, and ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead. While this doesn't count as a "splurge," it was a lazy, unfrugal thing to do, not to mention wasteful. But sometimes you just have days where you take the easy way out.

5 - Writing a Book

If you're going to self-publish a book, then you need to invest some of your own money upfront (think editors, cover design, printer paper and ink, proof copies, ISBNs etc.). Maybe one day I'll break even, but in the meantime, this has got to be one of the world's most expensive hobbies. But, it's fun, so there's that.

If you're interested in seeing how much we spend each month, our Five Frugal Things posts, and other musings on money matters, check out this page

What do you "splurge" on? What are some ways you save money?

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 

04 August 2018

Saturday Spotlight | "Numbers Never Lie" By Diane Burton

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 Diane Burton and the release of her romantic suspense book, Numbers Never Lie. I love suspense and I'm a sucker for romance, so this sounds like a great read.

Thank you so much Ellen for inviting me to your blog. I’m hoping to meet Simon the Time Traveling Cat. Is he around? [Editor's Note: Sorry, Simon isn't here today. He's off chasing lizards. I'll tell him you said hi.]

Ellen and I are members of the Insecure Writers Support Group that meets on the first Wednesday of each month. We can write about our insecurities and successes, ask or give advice. Each month we have an optional question, in the event we can’t think of something. This month, I wrote about Life changes—how Life can throw you a curve and set you on a path you didn’t expect and probably didn’t want to be on. It happens. How we deal with it is more important.

On Monday, I was on Maureen L. Bonatch’s blog and talked about this very thing. Not to repeat a post, I’d like to touch on a slightly different aspect. When the stresses from family and/or the paying job get you down, when you had your path all planned out, suddenly everything changes. You try to handle everything. After all, you know authors who get up at five in the morning to write, you know or have read about writers who keep going no matter what Life throws at them.

Some of us just can’t do it all. Stress can keep us from sleeping. So while we’re dealing with family issues, a spouse losing her/his job, whatever, we find we can’t write. Your creative muse went on vacation without you. You don’t have the energy to do it all.

That’s when guilt sets in. You should be writing, but you can’t. You’re beyond tired, you’re exhausted. “What’s the matter with me?” Others can do it, why can’t I? Here’s a news flash: you aren’t other writers. None of us know what they’re going through and what sacrifices they are making. You are you. Put guilt aside. Don’t worry about the unfinished manuscript. If you’re under contract, talk to your editor. They’re understanding. They’d rather know sooner than later. If the deadline is one of your own making, do yourself a favor and postpone it. Most importantly, shove guilt out the door. The story will be there, even fifteen years later.

Does it sound like I know about this first hand? It should. And I had the guilt that accompanied all that stress. But, as I just said, the story will be there. Fifteen years ago, I started NUMBERS NEVER DIE, a romantic suspense. Life threw me one of those curves. No, make that three nasty curves. The story had to be set aside—no energy, creative or otherwise. This winter, I dragged that story out of floppy disks (remember those?) and finished that story. I think it’s even better than it would have been fifteen years ago.

A Romantic Suspense
By Diane Burton
Release Date: July 9, 2018
Length: approx. 80,000 words
Available at Amazon http://a.co/gUmO9wZ
Free with Kindle Unlimited


A shocking secret brings danger to Jack Sinclair and his sister Maggie.

As kids, they were the fearless threesome. As adults, Jack's an accountant; Drew, a lawyer; Maggie, a teacher and camping troop leader. Upon returning from a weekend camping trip, Maggie receives horrifying news. She refuses to believe her brother Jack’s fatal car crash was an accident. If the police won’t investigate, she’ll do it herself. Convincing Drew Campbell to help is her only recourse.

Drew Campbell was too busy to return his best friend’s phone call. Too busy to attend a camping meeting important to his teen daughter. Too busy to stay in touch with Jack. Logic and reason indicate Jack’s accident was just that--an accident caused by fatigue and fog. Prodded by guilt, he’ll help Maggie even if he thinks she’s wrong.

A break-in at Jack’s condo convinces Maggie she’s right. Then her home is searched. What did Jack do that puts Maggie in danger?


During lunch, Jack asked about the camping equipment in the garage. “I thought your camping days were over when Trish moved away.”

As it often did, Maggie’s eyes teared up at the thought of Trish Morrow. They’d been best friends since kindergarten. A natural born leader, Trish could get anybody to do anything—like conning Maggie into helping with the group of pre-teen campers. Last summer, after eight months of unemployment, Trish’s husband took a job in Denver. Trish and the kids followed, and there went the leader of the group.

“We’ve been meeting,” Maggie said around the lump in her throat.

“Suck-er.” Jack grinned. “How many volunteer jobs do you have now? Little League umpire, peewee hockey ref, high school girls’ baseball coach—”

“I get paid for that one,” she interrupted. “Can I help it if the girls wanted to get together to talk?”

“From the camping equipment you were loading into your SUV, it looks like you’re going to do more than talk.”

She shrugged. “They still want to go to Isle Royale. Their theory is if they practice camping all summer and into the fall, Trish will come back for the trip next summer. We’re going on an overnight camping trip tomorrow.”

“You got another mother to help chaperone?”

Maggie grimaced. “Not exactly.”

He dropped his sandwich. “You aren’t taking the girls by yourself? That’s crazy.”

“Add in irresponsible, brother dear. Which I’m not. I’d never take kids on a trip without another adult.” She eyed him with an appraising expression.

Jack held up his hands. “Don’t look at me. I’m up to my eyeballs in work.”

“Don’t worry. I wasn’t going to ask you, although it did cross my mind.”

“So, who’s helping you with the troop?” Jack pulled a couple of grapes off the stems and popped them into his mouth.

“Ellen’s dad.”

Jack started to choke. She jumped up ready to do the Heimlich until he laughed. She considered whacking him on the back on general principle.

“Drew? Drew Campbell? The guy whose idea of casual is loosening his tie?”

At least, Jack’s tired expression was gone. She tapped her short, no-nonsense fingernails on the table. “I’m so glad I could provide entertainment with lunch.”

He continued to laugh—almost braying.

“I’m loaning him your sleeping bag and backpack.” She worked hard not to smirk.

“What! You’re loaning out my camping equipment?”

“He’s your friend. I didn’t think you’d mind.”

Jack started to laugh again. “Oh, God. I wish I could be there to watch.” He went off again, laughing so hard tears formed until he wiped them away. “Drew Campbell wimped out of Cub Scouts.”

Numbers Never Lie is available at Amazon.

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides writing science fiction romance, she writes romantic suspense, and cozy mysteries. Diane and her husband live in West Michigan. They have two children and five grandchildren.

For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website: http://www.dianeburton.com

Connect with Diane Burton online at Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest

Sign up for Diane’s new release alert: http://eepurl.com/bdHtYf

Do you like romantic suspense? Are you going to pick up a copy of Numbers Never Lie? What have you been reading lately?

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03 August 2018

July In Numbers

Clockwise from upper right - A day in the life in July: (1) checking on my Sims over coffee; (2) unclogging a drain aka fun science experiment with baking soda and vinegar; (3) editing; (4) checking for packages up by the marina office; (5) procrastinating with some toenail painting; and (6) making dinner chock-full of vegies.

July was a very focused month. Focused also means boring. Not much happened on s/v Tickety Boo other than working on writing-related projects. I even took a "blogcation" during the month, only posting the occasional cat picture here, not really visiting other blogs, and trying to limit my time on social media. My sole focus has been on trying to get a draft of next book in my cozy mystery series, Bodies in the Boatyard, ready to go out to beta readers. Of course, ugly plot holes and defiant characters made this challenging, but I'm hopefully getting closer to the finish line.

So here are the rather random and boring things that happened last month in numbers:
  • 12-18 months - How long it takes a mama manatee to wean her offspring. Four manatees paid us a visit in the marina and some friends swore they saw one give birth right near my boat. Very cool!
  • $2.64 - How much a medium iced coffee at McDonald's costs. When you live in Florida during the summer, hot coffee just isn't that appealing. Iced is the way to go. 
  • 4 - How many sea turtles there are at the Florida Oceanographic Institute. A friend and I had a fun outing there to do some research for my book. One of the characters is a marine biologist.
  • 2 - Number of days I had sugary treats. I was trying not to eat any during the month of July, but a friend sent some delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies down to me. How could I say no? But I did do fairly well the rest of the month.
  • 6 - Number of books I read. My fave was Terry Prachett's Going Postal - hilarious! I also beta read a fascinating sailing memoir. Can't wait to see this one published.
  • 2 - Number of new coloring books I bought with a gift card someone gave me. Plus some new markers! It's like I'm five years old again. All I need is a box of crayons and my life will be complete.
  • 17 - How many Sims I have. One of my latest time wasters if The Sims Free Play. It can be a total time suck if you're not careful. 
  • 2 millimeters - How big the ants are on my boat. They're so tiny that they really don't bother me, but I have been debating whether or not to put down ant traps as they're getting more numerous. Oh, how powerful I feel in control of whether my Sims and tiny ants live or die. {No, I didn't really measure them. It's a total guess.}
  • Nil - How many hurricanes we experienced in Florida. Yes, it's hurricane season again which means regularly checking the National Hurricane Center forecast. It's still really early in the season, but fingers crossed we don't get a doozy like we got last year.
  • 3 - Number of paperbacks of Murder at the Marina that the Portland, Oregon library system purchased. The Los Angeles library system also bought an ebook on Overdrive. I love the fact that you can find my book at a library! {BTW, if you want to suggest to your local library that they get a copy, you can find the details here.}

In case you missed them, here are some of our favorite posts from last month both here and on my author blog:

Cost of Cruising & Living Aboard a Sailboat
Validation & Smiles
Release of Murder at the Marina & Thank You

How did last month go for you? What are you looking forward to this 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) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple iBooks | Google Play | Book Depository | Books-A-Million

Find out more at ellenjacobsonauthor.com 

01 August 2018

Simon The Cat Travels Through Time | 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. The fabulous co-hosts this month are Erika Beebe, Sandra Hoover, and Lee Lowrey.

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 pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?"

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 going on here? Why am I lying on the ground covered in sand?" After sitting up, brushing the annoying grains off of my clothes, I gazed up and saw a giant pyramid reflecting the strong sun. And was that a giant sphinx nearby?

"Simon, answer me! Last thing I remember, I was taking a nap, and now I appear to be in Egypt!"

"You should be addressing me as Your Holiness or as He Who Should Be Adored and Worshiped," the large gray cat said haughtily. He flicked his pink tongue across one of his paws, then cleaned sand off from behind his ear. Apparently satisfied with his appearance, he added, "After all, I am a god here."

I snorted - which helpfully got rid of the sand lodged in my nose. "You, a god. Are you kidding me?"

"That's exactly why I used my powers to have us travel back in time to this place. Here, people will build statues to honor me, they'll fan me to keep me cool, and they'll give me all the belly rubs I desire."

I rolled my eyes - which unhelpfully dislodged some sand from my eyelashes into the corner of my eye. "You are so selfish, Simon."

He growled.

"Oh, I'm sorry," I said, just a tad sarcastically. Okay, a lot sarcastically. "I mean, you're so selfish, Your Eminence Who Constantly Has Tuna Breath."

He growled some more.

"By the way, before you whisked me off to the past, I was busy writing my monthly IWSG post about the pitfalls you should avoid when publishing."

"I thought you said you were taking a nap."

"Same thing," I snapped. "Napping is how writers talk to their creative muses."

Simon did the feline equivalent of rolling his eyes. It's hard to describe what that looks like, but you know when it's happened.

"And do you know what my number one pitfall was? Getting too attached to a character. You know how I write cozy mysteries. Well sometimes, some characters just have to be killed off. Get my drift?"

He swished his tail back and forth, kicking up sand all over me. "Fine, we'll travel forward in time, back to that stupid boat in stupid Florida. But, you owe me a belly rub. And a statue wouldn't hurt either."

* * *

I'm not sure I can really answer this month's question as I very much at the start of my publication journey having just released my first book in June. But here are a few pitfalls I've tried to avoid so far.

1 - Comparing Yourself to Others

If you watch writing podcasts or frequent certain forums and Facebook groups, you might start to believe that everyone but you is killing it. There are countless stories about how someone has become an Amazon best seller, how they're making six-figure incomes, or how they churn out a new book each month. It's really easy to get caught up in all the hype and despair that you're not successful like everyone else.

The truth is that most writers will never become best sellers or be able to fund an luxury holiday to a tropical island from their royalties. Comparing myself to those superstars would take all of the fun out of it. After all I started writing because I enjoy it, not to become rich and famous.

2 - Not Taking Your Time

Wow, there is so much to learn when it comes to self-publishing. I'm really glad that I had a rather ridiculously long pre-order period so that I could get all my ducks in a row before my book was release. Once you finish your manuscript, if you're anything like me, you'll be itching to push the publish button and get it out there for all to see. But if you don't take the time to make sure you get everything right, you might find yourself stressed out when things don't go to plan.

3 - Not Having a Cat

Okay, this is really a point that Simon wanted to make. He feels that it's really important to have a cat as one of your main characters. Fortunately, I have one in my cozy series - Mrs. Moto, a Japanese bobtail calico. She's a very sweet cat, doesn't have a god-complex, and isn't snarky. 

Don't let Simon hear me say this, but having a cat isn't essential. But not knowing the common tropes of your genre is a potential pitfall. I write cozy mysteries and many of them feature adorable furry companions. No, you don't have to write to market and tick every trope off of the list, but if you publish a book that doesn't deliver what your readers expect, then you might find that you get some bad reviews. For example, if I had written in gory detail about the crime scene or had explicit sex scenes, than I'm pretty sure cozy readers wouldn't be buying the next book in the series.

If you want to know more about my cozy mystery publishing journey, I'm documenting the good, the bad, and the ugly over on my author blog. There's a whole bunch of posts on things like editing, book format, beta readers, cover design, and going Amazon exclusive vs. wide.

What about you? What pitfalls have you experienced on your publication journey? Or what pitfalls are you hoping to avoid as you start your journey?

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

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