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23 March 2019

Saturday Spotlight | Forest Of Ghosts By J.H. Moncrieff

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 featuring an interview with J.H. Moncrieff to celebrate the release of Forest of Ghosts, the fourth book in her supernatural suspense GhostWriters series. J.H. is one of the many wonderful authors I've met through the Insecure Writer's Support Group. To my mind, she epitomizes what it means to be a part of a writing community - always there to support and encourage other writers and more than willing to share advice, tips, and tricks.

I'm a big fan of J.H.'s writing. I especially love the travel aspect of her GhostWriters series and being able to experience spooky things in interesting locations from the comfort of my armchair. After reading Forest of the Ghosts (it was fabulous, by the way!), I definitely want to visit Romania one of these days. 

Read on to find out what J.H. has to say about writing, penguins, and cookies. She's also got a really interesting perspective on being labeled as a "horror" writer so make sure you read all the way to the end.

Interview with J.H. Moncrieff

1 - What inspired you to write this book? 


The series is set in locations I’ve actually spent time in, including the paranormal ones, and for this book, I let my readers vote on where it should be set, out of a few possible options. Romania won by a healthy margin, and ever since attending a writers’ workshop in Transylvania, I’ve wanted to write about some of my experiences there. It’s a gorgeous country, and still very much seeped in myth and legend. This was a great opportunity to meld fact with fiction.

2 - Do you have any writing rituals? 

Just one. I like to have a scented candle burning when I write. Sometimes I forget, or can’t be bothered, but that’s one ritual I really enjoy, and I keep track of which candles were used for which books. Unfortunately, I use this as an excuse to buy way too many scented candles!

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

In my books, characters drive the plot. While I’d never say plot isn’t important, the direction it takes depends on who’s telling the story, and their own personal motivations. If Kate Carlsson from GhostWriters had been the one on her own in Romania instead of Jackson Stone, the story would have unfolded in a very different way. Since Jackson tends to act before he thinks and has a strong drive to stand up for others, he often gets himself in trouble. While he tries to learn from Kate’s more coolheaded, diplomatic example, he inevitably pisses people off—he just can’t help himself.

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

My favorite part of being an author is the moments when you’ve written yourself out of a tight spot, or when you realize your story has come full circle without you consciously intending it. Since I’m a pantser, I rarely know how things will turn out. There are moments of magic in writing this way. During a trip to Curaçao, I stumbled upon this creepy abandoned plantation house that had life-sized ragdolls on the porch. That image stayed with me, and when I wrote about them, I decided they contained the spirits of the evil plantation owners. Imagine my shock when I discovered later that some tribes of West Africa, where one of my protagonists originated from, believed they could entrap evil spirits in dolls. I’d never heard of this until I wrote that book, and that kind of thing happens to me a lot. It’s spooky, but also incredibly cool.

The worst part is the self-doubt. When all you’ve wanted to do since the age of five is to be a successful novelist, and then you grow up to discover how incredibly difficult that is to achieve, and how little of it appears to be within your control, it’s terrifying. I’ve written fourteen books worthy of seeing the light of day now, (I don’t count the ones from my college years and earlier), and I’ve never stopped being scared. With each new release, I’m worried people won’t like it. Writing is one of the only careers I know of where people work on a project for months and sometimes years without ever knowing they’ll be paid. There’s an incredible amount of faith, and perhaps masochism, required to keep going in this business

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 more polite - "Why don't you like cookies?"

Hmm…now that’s a tough question. It really depends on my mood, but one of my favorites from childhood that I still make is a gumdrop cookie with oatmeal and coconut. It’s the best. Store-bought cookies don’t tend to do it for me—they’re just not the same.

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

Assuming the penguin can talk beyond acking and squawking, I picture him saying “Olé!” and then asking for directions. If he’s wearing a sombrero, he probably imagined he was on his way to warmer climes, like the penguins in Madagascar, and would be very disappointed to find himself here, where it’s still winter. I’d like to think he chose me because he’d heard I’m a great animal lover, and wanted to invite me to this creepy haunted location in Argentina that he just knew would be the perfect setting for my next book.

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

That I’m not a “horror” writer. It drives me crazy when people describe me that way, because it’s so limiting. My series is supernatural suspense, so readers expecting straight-up horror will come away disappointed. I write mystery, suspense, psychological thrillers, and am working on a dark romance and a cozy mystery. Yes, three of my eight published books are horror, and I’m not ashamed of it, but I find people often use this as a way to write you off before reading a single word: “I don’t read horror.” Well, great, here are the five books that aren’t horror. Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by, J.H.! I'd have to agree, store-bought cookies just aren't the same as homemade. I cannot wait to read your cozy mystery!

About Forest of the Ghosts

J.H. Moncrieff’s new release, Forest of Ghosts, was inspired by her real-life experiences in Romania, including Hoia Baciu, the world’s most haunted forest.

Jackson Stone is sick of ghosts. With his love life in shambles, he heads to Romania for a horror writers’ retreat, hoping it will be a break from the supernatural and breathing space from his relationship with medium Kate Carlsson.

But as his fellow writers begin disappearing or losing their minds, he realizes he needs Kate’s help.

When Jackson loses his own memory, Kate’s love is the only thing that can bring him back. But she’s falling for the man responsible for the evil in Romania. A man who claims to be her soul mate. Will this master of wraiths forever break Kate’s bond with Jackson?

Forest of the Ghosts is available now at AmazonMysterious Galaxy | Barnes & Noble | Chapters


About J.H. Moncrieff

J.H. Moncrieff's City of Ghosts won the 2018 Kindle Book Review Award for best Horror/Suspense.

Her work has been described by reviewers as early Gillian Flynn with a little Ray Bradbury and Stephen King thrown in for good measure.

She won Harlequin's search for “the next Gillian Flynn” in 2016. Her first published novella, The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave, was featured in Samhain’s Childhood Fears collection and stayed on its horror bestsellers list for over a year.

When not writing, she loves exploring the world's most haunted places, advocating for animal rights, and summoning her inner ninja in muay thai class.

To get free ebooks and a new spooky story every week, go to http://bit.ly/MoncrieffLibrary.

Connect with J.H. on her website, Twitter, and Facebook.

Have you ever traveled to Romania? What's the spookiest thing you've ever experienced?

20 March 2019

Wordless Wednesday | Signs In Marsh Harbour, Bahamas


 





  

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 - Scott helped a friend take his boat to Marsh Harbour in the Bahamas. We'll both be going back at the beginning of April to help bring it back to Florida. Yippee - a sailing trip!

2 - He spent a few days in Marsh Harbour before flying back. While he was there, he went out for walks to take photos. These are some of the fun signs scattered throughout the town.

3 - Yes, the emergency snow route sign is from Marsh Harbour. They have a good sense of humor.
 
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!



The latest Mollie McGhie cozy sailing mystery is now available! Pick up a copy of >>Bodies in the Boatyard<< at:

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

Paperback available at: Amazon

Find out more at ellenjacobsonauthor.com

18 March 2019

Eight Years In The Making

After eight years in the workyard at Indiantown Marina, s/v Revival splashed today! It's so nice to see someone's hard work pay off and their dreams come true. Their mast is too tall to get under the bridges so they're building a cradle and will step it later before they head offshore.


Have you had a dream that you spent a long time working for? Did you ever wonder if it would really happen?

13 March 2019

Wordless Wednesday | Fun With Fiberglass



 
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 - We're going to have to do fiberglass repair to our boat, so a friend showed us the work he's done on his sailboat a couple of months ago.

2 - It was almost like an arts and crafts demonstration. Patterns were drawn and things were cut out. The only thing missing was glitter.

3 - Now, there's an idea - glitter embedded into your fiberglass. Even better, glitter in the shape of a unicorn. I'm guessing it's probably a really bad idea, but it's fun to think about.


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!


The latest Mollie McGhie cozy sailing mystery is now available! Pick up a copy of >>Bodies in the Boatyard<< at:

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

Paperback available at: Amazon

Find out more at ellenjacobsonauthor.com

11 March 2019

Writerly To Do Lists & Other Nonsense

I thought about doing one of my "Month in Numbers" posts today, but when I reflected on what had happened during February, I said, "Meh, there's really not much to say."

So instead you get this - one of my writerly To Do lists.


Which do you think was easier - editing Chapter 3 or avoiding making eye contact with bacon?

Here's another one which I posted on Facebook and Twitter. No one seem surprised by the third item on the list.


These basically summarize my life lately - writing, eating crap, and trying to catch up on blogging. While Scott's in the Bahamas (he's back later this week), I've deleted large sections of the first draft of Poisoned by the Pier and have been rewriting like crazy.

It's not been all bad. In between chowing down on oatmeal cranberry cookies (thank you, Aldi!), I've been cracking myself up coming up with chapter titles, like "Extra-Crispy Hash Browns" and "The Science of Legwarmers."


Once Scott is back, fixing our boat and tacking other boat projects is probably going to take center stage, so I better get back to fixing those plot holes and editing those chapters. And I really need to deal with my lackluster blogging efforts - so many comments to respond to, so many blogs to visit, so many posts to write. {Sigh.}

Hah! Who am I kidding? I've got a cold so I'm probably going to eat a few cookies, then take a very long nap and dream about bacon.

What's on your To Do list today?

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


The latest Mollie McGhie cozy sailing mystery is now available! Pick up a copy of >>Bodies in the Boatyard<< at:

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

Paperback & large print available at: Amazon

Find out more at ellenjacobsonauthor.com 

09 March 2019

Saturday Spotlight | L. Diane Wolfe & Dancing Lemur Press

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.


I'm really excited to be featuring an interview with L. Diane Wolfe, owner of Dancing Lemur Press. I first got to know Diane through the monthly Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) blog hop. She always left supportive and encouraging comments on my blog and was one of the people who encouraged me to submit a story to the annual IWSG anthology contest.

When my short story was selected, I got to know Diane better in her role as the publisher of the anthology. No surprise, she continued to be supportive and encouraging, as well as teaching me a lot about the ins and outs of publishing along the way. I know some of the people who visit this blog are writers and aspire to publish their works, so I reached out to Diane to tell us a little bit about herself and what it's like to run a publishing company.

So sit back, scroll down, and find out what Diane has to say about publishing, penguins, and cookies.


Interview with Diane

1 - What inspired you to start a publishing company? Tell us a little bit about Dancing Lemur Press.
 
I began as an author, and if there’s a wrong way to publish, I can tell you! After studying the industry for a couple years, I decided to take the plunge and start my own publishing company. I knew I wanted to take on other authors and now, almost 11 years later, we have dozens of authors and almost 50 titles.

2 - What does a typical day look like for you in terms of running a publishing company?

First, there is no such thing as a typical day. Fortunately, chaos is my balance. There’s always social media on the list, but after that it’s either editing, research, marketing, formatting, design, emails, contacting, submissions, packaging and mailing, and anything else on the list. My husband says I am a great employee but the worst boss ever as I tend to spend my entire day working!

3 - When you're looking at fiction submissions, what's more important - character or plot?

Character always comes first. If I can’t identify with the main characters or care about them, or they have little personality, it doesn’t matter how great the plot or the writing.

With non-fiction, I’m looking for something unique and both helpful and relevant. Especially if it’s a self-help book, it’s GOT to stand out from the masses of self-help books out there. (And I’ve read hundreds of self-help, motivational, and leadership books, so you really have to wow me.)

Some of the books published by Dancing Lemur Press.

4 - What do you like best about being a publisher? What do you like the least?

What I like best is the joy of my authors. It fuels me. It might be their first book or a story no one else believed in, and I’m thrilled and honored to bring that book into the world. I do everything I possibly can to give each book its best shot at success. (Thus, the really long hours I work.)

In addition, when I did a lot of book signings (sometimes as many as 50 a year), I loved it, but now the new thrill is representing my authors at sci-fi conventions.

What I like least is it takes away my writing time. I almost never get to write anymore.

And for those who think publishers keep all of the money, giving little back to the author – ha! Expenses cut deep into anything Dancing Lemur Press makes. You don’t open a publishing company to get rich, that’s for sure. (You want to make money in the publishing industry, be an editor, ghost writer, or publicist – they are the ones who make money.)

A very cool Dancing Lemur display at the Fayetteville ComicCon!

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 more polite - "Why don't you like cookies?"

I do like cookies, there are just so many of then I can’t eat because I’m a vegan and I don’t eat chocolate. But I do love a good oatmeal raisin cookie.

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

He says, “Feliz Navidad! I bring you greetings from Santa’s southern home.” He probably comes to see me knowing I like penguins and really miss Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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

I’m a Type A kind of person and the Energizer Bunny in human form. I’m either operating at warp speed or I’m sleeping! There is no in between.

I also have a big Minion collection. Maybe a little too big.

What do you think? Too many Minions or too few?

Thanks so much for being on the blog today! I really enjoyed learning more about what's involved in running a publishing company. Oatmeal raisin cookies are delicious, especially for breakfast!

About Diane

Known as “Spunk On A Stick,” Wolfe is a member of the National Speakers Association. She conducts seminars on book publishing, promoting, leadership, and goal-setting, and she offers book formatting and author consultation. Wolfe is the senior editor at Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. and contributes to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

Connect with Diane and Dancing Lemur Press on Facebook, the Dancing Lemur website, and Diane's website & blog.



Are you a Minions fan? Have you been to a sci-fi convention? What else would you like to know about publishing companies?

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


The latest Mollie McGhie cozy sailing mystery is now available! Pick up a copy of >>Bodies in the Boatyard<< at:

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

Paperback & large print available at: Amazon

Find out more at ellenjacobsonauthor.com 

06 March 2019

What Cats Think About Heroes & Villains | 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 question is:

"Whose perspective do you like to write from the best--the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? Why?"

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 see how I answered the question below. 



Editor's Note: I'm knee-deep in editing the latest installment in my cozy mystery series, so Simon the Time Traveling Cat volunteered to take over the blog and answer this month's IWSG question. Okay, okay. He didn't really "volunteer"--but the threat of a visit to the vet for shots and cutting off his supply of full-fat milk seemed to have motivated him to help out. So, without further ado, I'll turn things over to Simon.


* * *

This is ridiculous. Whoever heard of a cat answering questions about writing? It's not like we have opposable thumbs and can type on a keyboard or use a pen. Sure, I like knocking pens off of the table but writing with one, that's a different story. She set me up with some dictation device. Stupid technology.

By the way, I just coughed up a hairball on my human's pillow. That'll teach her to threaten me with the vet.

Hang on a second. That stupid lady is calling me. Normally, I'd ignore her, but she said something about catnip.

I'm back. For some reason, I'm feeling really relaxed. Maybe writing this blog post isn't such a bad idea after all.

Let's see, where were we. Oh, yeah. The human likes to write from the hero's perspective cause she writes in first person. How come no one ever writes in first cat? Why is everything so human-centric? First person, third person--enough with the person things.

I heard her tell the other human that lives with us--the tall one that sneaks me cat treats when the other human isn't looking--that she likes first person because it puts the reader in the narrator's head. Why would anyone want to be in Mollie McGhie's head? That's the hero of her cozy mysteries, by the way. She's a silly lady. Always going on and on about chocolate and murder investigations.

If it was me, I'd write the whole thing from the cat's perspective. Her name is Mrs. Moto and she's the real star of the series and way more interesting than Mollie. Without a doubt she'd be far better at describing the villains of the stories. By the way, it's always the dog that did it.

Okay. I met the stupid word count goal she set for me. Time for a nap, then a saucer of full-fat milk. Maybe some more of that catnip too.

Do you ever secretly root for the villain? Who's your favorite villain in a book, TV show, or movie?

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


The latest Mollie McGhie cozy sailing mystery is now available! Pick up a copy of >>Bodies in the Boatyard<< at:

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

Paperback & large print available at: Amazon

Find out more at ellenjacobsonauthor.com 

04 March 2019

Cost Of Living Aboard A Broken Boat | January & February 2019



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 by now for the season, we're currently at Indiantown Marina in south Florida on the hard in the workyard due to a crack in our hull. We hauled out mid-December, discovered the issue, and then spent the next couple of months going through the insurance process, finally coming to a resolution at the end of February.

While we were sorting everything out with insurance, we basically put everything else on hold, 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 | January & February 2019

Overall, we spent >>$3,539<< during January and February.

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 = $651

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.

PERSONAL & HOUSEHOLD | Total = $23

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 = $205

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.

When I looked back at our numbers, I noticed that we only spent $34 eating out during January, but a whopping $143 during February. We got really lazy last month and hit the "easy button" a few too many times, opting for fast food when we should have cooked something healthier and cheaper back on the boat. Let's see if we can do better in this department over the next couple of months.

COMMUNICATIONS | Total = $110

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

BOAT FUEL | Total = Nil

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

PROPANE  | Total = $6

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.

However, we did buy two 1-gallon propane tanks for use with a BBQ grill. Not for our boat mind you, but for a friend's boat which Scott is helping bring down to the Bahamas.

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.

BOAT STUFF | Total = $312

This category is for all the stuff we buy for the boat, as well as  repair and maintenance costs. Since we've put boat projects on hold for now, the expenditure in this category has been on necessary things only, like freon to get our fridge back in working order, plus a boat insurance payment.

TRANSPORT | Total = $66

This category is for costs related to our vehicle, mostly for gas to drive into the nearby "big city" of Stuart for errands. We filled up the tank once and had the local garage fix a squeaky belt.

MEDICAL EXPENSES | Total = $256

This category includes medical expenses outside of our monthly insurance premium (which aren't included here - see section on exclusions above), like over the counter medications, prescriptions and things for our medical kit.

A medical issue arose in February for me which has resulted in some co-pays for doctor's appointments and tests.

OTHER | Total = $99

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

Over the past couple of months, I bought some reef shoes on sale at West Marine, new earbuds for both of us, food for the adorable marina cats, a sieve (essential for making butter chicken curry), and an impulse buy of Star Wars stickers.


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!

The latest Mollie McGhie cozy sailing mystery is now available! Pick up a copy of >>Bodies in the Boatyard<< at:

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

Paperback available at: Amazon

Find out more at ellenjacobsonauthor.com 

02 March 2019

Saturday Spotlight | Music Boxes By Tonja Drecker

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 featuring an interview with Tonja Drecker to celebrate the release of her middle grade fantasy novel, Music Boxes. Tonja is one of the lovely writers I've met through the Insecure Writer's Support Group and it's a pleasure to have her on the blog today. So scroll on down and find out what Tonja has to say about writing, penguins, and cookies.

Interview with Tonja

1 - What inspired you to write this book?

This is the one question I don’t like answering because I simply don’t know. I was pulling weeds in the garden—nasty blackberry shoots with horrible thorns—and suddenly the thought of an evil ballet teacher collecting music boxes popped into my head and stuck. Since I was driving the kids to and from three different schools at that time, I used the idea for Car Story Time. And so, the plot was developed.   

2 - Do you have any writing rituals?

No, I don’t. When I wake up in the morning, I’m never sure what the day will bring. So, my writing is just as flexible. Although I usually write at the dining room table or on a standing desk with wheels in front of my fireplace (I get chilly so easily), I write everywhere and anywhere. I usually have a cup of tea next to me, but that’s more due to my tea addiction than writing.

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

Both are equally important. Without a well-developed plot, even the deepest and most relatable character can’t go anywhere. And a plot without a character to give it heart and depth is nothing more than a passing wind. A good story needs both.

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

The flexibility is exactly what I need. I can write anywhere and at any time. Even if I don’t have a writing tool around (laptop, paper or pen), the story plays in the mind. My other favorite aspect is that I can be distracted or act a little strangely, and my family simply assumes my mind is drifting in another one of my new worlds…it’s a great cover-up to my actual moments of insanity or forgetfulness.

My least favorite part of being an author is the marketing. While I love to visit with children and enjoy every second interacting with them, the whole idea of discovering ways to get my book out into the world is sometimes a little overwhelming. After all, I love nothing more than hiding out on our little farm in our secluded valley and avoiding crowds. But I think this a problem many writers face.

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 more polite - "Why don't you like cookies?"

Whoa! There are people who don’t like cookies??? I have a love for anything chocolate…well, most anything. Strange mixtures like with bacon or chili or those horribly sweet creamy surprises scare me away. But I’d never say no to a peanut butter cookie or one with nuts or one with cinnamon or one with caramel or one with…   I need a cookie.

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

“Hola! “ And that’s all he’d get out because my overly friendly and attention deficient (in his opinion) dog would be trying to give him hugs and demanding attention. Yes, my dog does try to hug. And if the dog isn’t enough, my two youngest children would be extremely excited and vying for attention too. I hope the penguin visits with the intention of wanting us to join him on a journey…almost anywhere would be fine. We’re always ready for an adventure.

Thanks for stopping by, Tonja! You've got great taste in cookies...I'm craving one now too. I really enjoyed reading Music Boxes (you can read my review on Goodreads here.) I'm glad my ballet classes weren't like Madame Destinee's!

About Music Boxes

BLURB

“I only desire your talent...”

Twelve-year-old Lindsey McKay's biggest dream is to be a famous ballerina. But after moving to New York, she ends up at the Community Center with a teacher who’s a burly bear in tights.

When she meets Madame Destinée, the teacher of a top dance school who offers her classes for free, Lindsey can't believe her luck. In exchange, she must perform in the school’s exclusive midnight shows, ones sure to make her a star. But something’s not right...

One by one, the other dancers disappear. Each time they do, a music box with a figurine just like the missing ballerina joins Madame Destinée’s growing collection. If Lindsey doesn’t discover the truth about the dance school, she might end up a tiny figurine herself.

BUY LINKS


About Tonja

Tonja Drecker is a writer, blogger, children’s book reviewer and freelance translator. After spending years in Germany exploring forgotten castles, she currently resides in the Ozarks with her family of six. When she’s not tending her chickens and cows, she’s discovering new adventures, nibbling chocolate and sipping a cup of tea. Connect with Tonja on her author website, her review blog, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!
 
The latest Mollie McGhie cozy sailing mystery is now available! Pick up a copy of >>Bodies in the Boatyard<< at:

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

Paperback & large print available at: Amazon

Find out more at ellenjacobsonauthor.com 

27 February 2019

Wordless Wednesday | Cute Boat Dog


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 - Is there anything cuter than a dog on a boat? My inner crazy cat lady would probably say a cat on a boat would be cuter, but this little guy is pretty darn adorable.


2 - We helped some friends move their boat from Indiantown Marina to a Mariner Cay Marina in Stuart.

3 - It was nice to be on the water again, but it sure was bittersweet to be on someone else's boat and not our own. But when you're feeling a little down, you just have to look at a cute dog and you instantly feel better. 

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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The latest Mollie McGhie cozy sailing mystery is now available! Pick up a copy of >>Bodies in the Boatyard<< at:

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

Paperback available at: Amazon

Find out more at ellenjacobsonauthor.com 

25 February 2019

Provisioning With Boys

I went provisioning with boys yesterday.

It can be challenging enough to go grocery shopping with just your husband, but add in another guy, and a long list of supplies that they need to get for the boat and you might just need an extra large chocolate bar at the end of the expedition to recuperate.

Scott is helping a friend take his boat over to the Bahamas. It's a win-win. Scott gets to go sailing and our friend gets to tick an item off of his bucket list. I'm going to stay behind on our broken boat on the hard and try to finish off the next book in my cozy mystery series, Poisoned by the Pier.

But, back to provisioning -- which, by the way, is just fancy sailor lingo for stocking up on groceries and adult beverages before you head off cruising.

I organized their grocery list into categories so that we could try to make the trip as efficient as possible.


First off was a stop at the bank cause cash is king in the Bahamas. The Bahamian dollar is on par with the US dollar and you can use American currency interchangeably with Bahamian currency which is nifty.

Then, we stopped off at West Marine because of course the day before you're due to set sail you remember something else that you forgot to get for the boat.


It seems like everyone from Indiantown Marina was at the West Marine in Stuart while we were there. A million dollars later, we headed over to Waldi, which is what we like to call Walmart and Aldi. They're right next door to each other. Walmart is good for some things, but Aldi is where we like to spend most of our money.

Note to self: Do not go shopping at Waldi on Sunday afternoon. Chaos. Too many people, too many carts, too much of everything.

When you go provisioning with boys, the first order of business is stocking up on beer. After that, they chucked a mattress pad cover in the cart. I'm hoping there isn't any sort of correlation between the two.


Toilet paper was also purchased. Not enough in my opinion, but then again, I'm not a boy.

We also pretty much cleared out the instant mashed potato section. I guess you can never have enough beer or mashed potatoes.

The groceries have been stowed. The docklines have been untied and the boys are making their way to the Abacos. Scott will get our friend situated in Marsh Harbour, then fly back. Do you think I should serve him mashed potatoes for his welcome back dinner?


Do you like mashed potatoes? What do you think constitutes enough toilet paper?

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The latest Mollie McGhie cozy sailing mystery is now available! Pick up a copy of >>Bodies in the Boatyard<< at:

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

Paperback available at: Amazon

Find out more at ellenjacobsonauthor.com 

23 February 2019

Saturday Spotlight | Corruption By Nick Wilford

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 featuring an interview with Nick Wilford to celebrate the release of >>Corruption<<, the second book in his dytopian Black & White series. I first met Nick through the Insecure Writer's Support Group. He's an all around good egg who supports and encourages new writers like myself. He also lives in Scotland, not too far from where we used to live, although our paths never crossed when we were there. So scroll on down and have a read about what Nick has to say about writing, penguins, and cookies.

1 - What inspired you to write this book?

Well, the whole series was inspired by a desire to deal with injustice and prejudice through the medium of a fictional world – although it is a future version of Earth so maybe it’s not too far removed! That was probably subconscious at the time I started writing though – which was NaNo 2012, so it’s been in the works for a while. You try and write a good story and afterwards you start to see any layers that might or might not be there. A lot of dystopian fiction deals with a decaying, post-apocalyptic future, but what if the scary thing was that the society was seemingly perfect – a utopia – but that perfection came at an alarming cost?
 

2 - Do you have any writing rituals?
 

Nothing too out there! I need a steaming mug of tea on hand before I can get down to business.
 

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

They’re both important, but if you don’t have characters the readers can sympathise with and root for, the best plot in the world won’t hold their attention. I know that in the beginning I don’t plot much. I might have a vague idea of what the story will be about, but I’ve usually got a character bumbling around and asking for attention. It all starts from them!
 

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

The part I like best is what many people would answer, I think – being able to create entirely new worlds and have fantastic adventures without leaving my desk. The only limit is your imagination. It’s hard to say what I like the least, but maybe it’s when my imagination isn’t playing ball! And I could say marketing, but it’s good to be creative and try different things there, too. I’m trying!
 

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?"


I don’t know who doesn’t like cookies! My favourite is double choc chip – our local
supermarket does them fresh baked. Mmmm, cookies.
 

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

 

“Excuse me, I seem to have lost my way trying to reach Mexico.” I’d ask him why he’d want to holiday in a location where the climate might not entirely suit him. I’d persuade him to stay because he’d probably feel much more at home in Scotland!
 

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

It’s something I’ve talked about recently, but I had dramatic ambitions as a child. I never made it as an actor, but I’d still like to write a Hollywood blockbuster one day!


Thanks for stopping by, Nick! I really enjoyed Corruption (check out my review on Goodreads here.) Now, I'm trying to figure out what local supermarket you buy your cookies at and wondering how come I never knew about the double choc chip cookies when we lived there.

CORRUPTION BLURB

Wellesbury Noon and Ezmerelda Dontible have found themselves in a position where they can make their native land somewhere that lives up to its name: Harmonia. However, they’re setting their sights further afield for their number one task: eradicating the disease that has plagued the neighbouring country of Loretania for generations and allowed the privileged Harmonians to live in a sterile environment.

After dispatching a team of scientists to Loretania, armed with cratefuls of an antidote and vaccine and headed up by their friend, Dr George Tindleson, Welles, Ez, and Welles’s brother Mal – who grew up in that benighted nation – start to worry when they hear nothing back, despite what they had agreed. Commandeering a fishing boat to follow the science teamover the sea, they soon find that,  while the disease may be on the way out, a new kind of infection has set in – the corruption they thought they had stamped out in Harmonia.
 

Can they get to the root of the problem and eliminate it before even more damage is done to an innocent people? 

*** Warning – this book contains themes that some sensitive readers may find upsetting. ***

BUY LINKS

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks 

Add it on Goodreads
 
MEET THE AUTHOR

Nick Wilford is a writer and stay-at-home dad. Once a journalist, he now makes use of those early morning times when the house is quiet to explore the realms of fiction, with a little freelance editing and formatting thrown in. 

When not working he can usually be found spending time with his family or cleaning something. He has four short stories published in Writer’s Muse magazine. Nick is also the editor of Overcoming Adversity: An Anthology for Andrew. Visit him at his blog or connect with him on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, or Amazon.


18 February 2019

What Cruisers Talk About On Facebook


Facebook is full of pictures of cute cats, recipes for chocolaty treats, and memes that make introverted middle-aged women laugh out loud. Or at least my feed is. Not sure what that says about me. Possibly crazy cat lady with graying hair and a serious chocolate addiction who finds it easier to talk with people online than in person?

But it's not all kittens, calories, and silliness on Facebook. If you're a cruiser, then Facebook is also full of posts about sailing, anchorages, potlucks on the beach, and, of course, all the stuff that keeps breaking on your boat.

Although we're more of armchair cruisers these days - yes, our boat is still on the hard and no, it doesn't look like we'll get to the Bahamas this season - I still use Facebook to chat about cruising things. In fact, I had what you could call a pretty typical convo with a friend on Facebook yesterday about our fridge, which seems to be slowly dying. I asked her about the issues they had had with their fridge and if they had replaced the refrigerant. Here's what she said:

"We did. It was super cheap at the dollar store at IGA. If you need the adapter and gauges go to the parts place with the attached garage. You can call my hubby to pick his brain anytime. He says 99 times out of 100 it’s Freon."

What makes this Facebook convo so typical? 

First off, cruisers are the ultimate DIYers. Why pay someone to fix something when you can do it yourself? Boats are expensive enough as it is. Besides, you may find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere when something breaks. Being able to do your own repairs and maintenance is key.

Second, the offer to help is so typical of cruisers. The cruising community is pretty tight and everyone looks out for each other. People freely share their knowledge, tools, and roll their sleeves up and help each other.

Third, our friends had issues with their fridge. Eventually, everyone has problems with their fridge, or their water pump, or their battery charger, or their engine, or their. . .well, you get the idea.

What's on your Facebook feed? What do you talk about on Facebook?

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


The latest Mollie McGhie cozy sailing mystery is now available! Pick up a copy of >>Bodies in the Boatyard<< at:

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

Paperback available at: Amazon

Find out more at ellenjacobsonauthor.com