IWSG, Writing

My Writerly Journey | IWSG

Hello! If you’ve been directed here from The Cynical Sailor, welcome to my author site. I’m still figuring out what I’m going to do with that site moving forward, but, in the meantime, I’ve decided to move my Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly blog posts to this site. Thanks for following me over here!

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:

What started you on your writing journey? Was it a particular book, movie, story, or series? Was it a teacher, coach, spouse, friend, parent? Did you just “know” suddenly that you wanted to write?

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.

It seems like a lot of folks were born with the writing bug. Me, not so much. All I was born with was a birthmark on my arm. Sure, it’s a pretty cool birthmark (if you squint just right in really poor light after a few vodka shots, it kind of looks like Elvis), but it’s not quite as cool as coming out of the womb ready to write the next Great American Novel.

I didn’t start any form of creative writing until 2013. That’s when I launced The Cynical Sailor, a blog originally dedicated to documenting the transition from moving out of a normal dwelling on land and onto our sailboat in New Zealand. Sure, there was a lot of boring boat stuff on there, but I also took the opportunity to inject some humor into writing about our adventures and misadventures. And, to my surprise, people responded positively to my wacky sense of humor.

I began to “fictionalize” some of my blog posts, even writing little Nancy Drew stories about how I was trying to investigate and track down the mysterious leak on our boat. That led me to taking my fan fiction to the next level by writing a full-blown Nancy Drew series of posts about “The Case of the Missing Anchor” as part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge in 2016.

People began to urge me to write a cozy mystery of my own. And by “people,” I mean my mom. And you can’t say no to your mom, can you?

So, with massive support from followers of The Cynical Sailor and members of the IWSG, I got cracking and started seriously writing. I cranked out a 50,000 word draft of what would later become Murder at the Marina during National Novel Writing Month in November 2016.

I also decided to try my hand at writing a fantasy short story which I submitted to the IWSG anthology contest. To my utter surprise, it was accepted. It was such a thrill to see my words in print! I think that’s the point when my writing journey kicked into high gear.

So, I guess I can’t point to one exact thing that started my writing journey, but rather people who supported me along at various points from the original followers of my Cynical Sailor blog, the people behind the IWSG anthology contest, my writing buddies, my family and friends, and everyone who reads my books and continues to encourage me to keep writing.

PS If you’re wondering where Simon the Cat is today, he’s too busy napping in a sunny spot by the window to be bothered with the blog today. He promises that he’ll be back soon.

What about you? What inspired you to start writing? If you’re not a writer and have another creative pursuit, what inspired you to start that?

Dead in the Dinghy is now available! Get your copy of the latest Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mystery at your favorite retailer and find out what happens when Mollie and Scooter participate in their first sailing regatta.

Spoiler alert: someone ends up dead in a dinghy & Mollie eats a lot of chocolate!

Ebook available at:

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

Also available in PAPERBACK and LARGE PRINT.

Find out more HERE.

54 thoughts on “My Writerly Journey | IWSG”

  1. I’m like you–a late writer. I didn’t start writing until my 40’s. That’s awesome that yours started with another new adventure in your life.


  2. Wow! How cool! I already considered the IWSG to be a great support system, but I didn’t realize what a huge role it played in launching your writing career. (Not to downplay your mom’s role, of course…) I sure am glad you submitted to that anthology contest, because your books are super. Ya just never know…

    Never lose that quirky sense of humor. Happy New Year!


  3. I’m married to a cynical ex sailor. He wasn’t born to write either. I think maybe I was, although it took me nearly 40 years to realise that.


  4. I love your sense of humor! It makes reading your books and blog so much fun. And I’m a bit jealous that you have a birthmark that sorta looks like Elvis. (He officiated my marriage!)


  5. You may have not been born with a bug – which sounds kind of icky anyways but I think you were born with a latent talent. Seriously who pounds out a 50,000 page book just because their mom thinks it’s a fun idea?


  6. Mom’s are amazing. I’m so glad you started writing too. I never knew what cozy mystery was until I read yours…and now, I’m hooked.


  7. I’m glad you started the blog and discovered your inner writer! I love your sense of fun and quirky humor. Your mysteries are a joy, and getting better with each one! Oh, say hi to Simon for me!


  8. I remember your Nancy Drew posts for A to Z–that’s how I “discovered” you. Those were so much fun.

    Congrats on your new release! I can’t wait to read it.


  9. Loved finding out more about you and your start in writing. I enjoyed how Molly’ s stories were born. I bet Simon will be bugging you for a starring role in your next series! Moms are like that-and yes one must always listen to Mom. LOL Reading Dead in the Dinghy now. Good ole Molly. Your sense of humor shines through in your writing.


  10. What a great story! It’s amazing how the A-Z Challenge led to so much for you. I will always be grateful I came upon that challenge way back when as without it I doubt I would have continued blogging.
    Congratulations on your new book! 🙂


  11. Seriously, Ellen, I remember your other blog and the cozy mysteries your write. Bravo to your Mom to get you to write for publication. Love the new site! I’ll be sure I’m following. I wish you health and success in 2020.


  12. It’s so nice to read a re-cap of your writerly journey here, as I remember every step, from reading your sailing blog (albeit not from the beginning) to the A-Z blogging challenge (thinking how crafty you wrote that entire story and that’s also when I learned about Nancy Drew) to believing the anthology story (The Silvering) was your first step to real success. I’d say this has been a very swift and successful road to becoming an author! 🙂


  13. Your sense of humor attracted me to your blog and from there to your books. Tell Simon I missed him this month. lol Happy writing!


  14. Hello, out there in Scamp Land. November 15th, 2020 and was Gunkholing around on the internet and found your blog. I am a 75 year old lifelong sailor who washed ashore in Lewes, DE a few years ago. I have been following John Holdesfield on MY Scamp Adventures for a few years now. Now there is another ex sailor and his dog Zeb who just started posting on You-Tube (Rick and Zeb) Due to the pandemic, my daughter moved in with us to save on the $1,600 a month rent. She is a wandering soul with nervous feet that was never meant for meant for a steady beat. So she bought a Pro Master City Van and we are tricking it out. She inherited my Wanderlust that I got from reading Sterling Haydon’s book Wanderer back in the 60’s. So now I have some catching up on your books until this pandemic is over and we can slip the dock lines again.


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