IWSG, Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mysteries, Writing

Life Lately on the Road & Writing Update | 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:

Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn’t planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?

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. I opted out of answering the question, instead sharing an update about what life has been like on the road for us lately.

Photo Credit: Duwan Dunn @ Make Like an Ape Man

Check out the picture above. That’s our teeny-tiny camper surrounded by bison. Crazy, huh? The friends we had been traveling with took it as we were driving through Yellowstone National Park. It perfectly sums up what life has been like lately on the road during the past month – travel, adventure, and lots of fun!

I was trying to remember what we got up to during July but it’s all a bit of a blur. We used to be really good about keeping a log previously on our sailboats and now in our camper, but that seems to have fallen by the wayside. We really should get that log going again because the older I get, the more help I need in remembering stuff!

I’ve now had a second cup of coffee. It’s amazing how caffeine helps jog the memory. Okay, so here’s where we’ve been and what we got up to in July:

We spent the first part of the month in Bismarck, North Dakota spending time with my hubby’s family. I spent a good chunk of that time on the couch working on Shooting by the Sea – the fifth book in my Mollie McGhie cozy mystery series. I also worked on release stuff for a multi-author cozy mystery anthology that my short story, Buried by the Beach is part of. And I read some books about Scandinavian-Americans as inspiration for the new cozy mystery series I’m planning which will be set in North Dakota.

It was such a relaxing spot to work. The fact that we had ice cream for dessert every night didn’t hurt either! We don’t have a freezer in our camper so I relished every bowl of salted caramel craze I could get my hands on.

Then we headed to a wonderful campground in Elgin, North Dakota for a few days so that I could finish Shooting by the Sea. There are two things I love about this particular campground – the views of the lake and the electricity. Yes, you heard that right – electricity! We often camp in places without it and have to run the generator when we want to charge things. To be able to have my computer constantly charged, not to mention being able to run the air conditioner, was heavenly.

After sending Shooting by the Sea to the editor it was time to go meet up with our friends from Make Like an Ape Man. They’re former boaters like us and now live full-time in their van. After a night in Buffalo, South Dakota, we hooked up with them in Montana, spent a night at Red Shale (a wonderful free National Forest campground), spent the next night at the Ten Sleep Brewery (you don’t have to worry about drinking and driving when your camper is a few feet away in the parking lot), then headed to Castle Gardens (a free Bureau of Land Management campground) for a night.

While at Castle Gardens, I got back the edits from my editor. Internet was patchy there so I had to download the manuscript by perching my computer on the hood of our vehicle and holding my phone in my hand. Such is the life of a writer on the road.

I finished that first round of edits, sent it back to the editor and then it was off to Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming for three days. Have you been there? If not, you should go. Absolutely gorgeous! I could have stayed there longer, but we had reservations at one of the campgrounds in Yellowstone National Park so off we went.

To be honest, I wondered if Yellowstone would live up to its reputation. Everyone talks about how amazing it is. Guess what? Turns out it is. In fact, it was so amazing that my hubby and I spent two weeks there. But all good thing must come to an end so that new good things can happen. And that new good thing is going to be Glacier National Park in Montana. We’re making our way up there today and tomorrow, so I may be offline for a while. But I will try to respond to comments and visit blogs when I can. I know, I know . . . I’m still behind from last month. {Sigh}

Anyway before I go, I wanted to thank everyone who offered to read and review ARCs (advance reader copies) of the cozy mystery anthology, Mystery Follows Her, and my latest Mollie McGhie book, Shooting by the Sea. It really means a lot to me and it helps immensely with the launches and attracting new readers!

By the way, if you’re interested in either of these books, Mystery Follows Her is promotionally priced at only 99c/99p right now. You can grab a copy at your favorite retailer HERE. Anthologies are a great way to try out new authors. Shooting by the Sea will be released on Friday, August 7th. You can pre-order a copy at your favorite retailer HERE.

What did you get up to in July? Did you read any good books? Get any writing done? Any fun adventures?

IWSG, Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mysteries, USA, Writing

Writing Update & Travels in Our Teeny-Tiny Camper | 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:

There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade?

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. I opted out of answering the question, instead sharing a quick writing update. Check it out below.

This is going to be a short post as things are a bit frantic in my world. We hit the road in our teeny-tiny camper in the middle of May. Since then we’ve traveled from Florida up to North Dakota, spending time in Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota along the way.

It’s been really hard to concentrate on writing and blogging while traveling, camping, and enjoying the great outdoors, but I’ve been trying my best. It was the same thing when we were traveling on our sailboat – the nomadic life can be a challenge when it comes to focusing on creative projects.

Despite the travel, I have been working on two projects. The first is a Mollie McGhie short story – Buried by the Beach – which will be published in the Mystery Follows Her cozy mystery multi-author anthology coming out on July 23rd. Many, many thanks to all of you who offered to read and review an ARC copy!

The other project is book #5 in my Mollie McGhie cozy mystery series – Shooting by the Sea – due out in August. I’m in the process of finishing it up right now before getting it to my editor. Deadlines are looming and the pressure is on, but I’m having a blast with this story.

I’m looking forward to catching my breath next month once Shooting by the Sea is wrapped up, then I’ll be diving into the next book in my Smitten with Travel rom-com series.

FYI – I may be a bit slower visiting blogs and returning comments, but hopefully things will get back to “normal” and I’ll have a bit more time and headspace next month.

In the meantime, a couple of pictures from our adventures in South Dakota – a bison in Custer State Park and our teeny-tiny camper (“Scamper”) in the Black Hills National Forest.

IWSG, Romantic Comedy, Smitten with Travel, Writing

Writing in Present Tense, ARC Reader Request & An Adorable Cat | 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:

Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the zone? Care to share?

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. I opted out of answering the question, instead sharing some of my insecurities about writing in present tense. Check it out below.

Which of these sentences do you prefer:

1 – I write in present tense, then worry that readers will hate it.

2 – I wrote in present tense, then worried that readers would hate it.

If you had asked me this in the not so distant past, I would have said without any hesitation that Option #2 was way better. Like many other people of a certain age, I grew up reading novels written in the past tense. That was just how it was done. I had no idea there was any other kind of book.

Then came The Hunger Games. Loved the story, but I found the use of present tense a bit jarring. I read a bunch of other YA books for a while and made my peace with present tense. I didn’t love it, but it was starting to grow on me.

As of late, I’ve been obsessed with reading romantic comedies / chick lit. And guess what? A bunch of them are written in present tense. And guess what else? I love it!

I know some of you are shaking your heads. Why, Ellen, why? Why have you gone to the dark side?

Well, here are a couple of the things I like about it:

1 – Everything feels way more intense.

And when you reading romance, that’s an awesome thing. Especially when the main character is kissing a really cute guy.

2 – It kind of feels like a movie.

You’re smack-dab in the middle of the action. It’s all happening right now. You’re experiencing things right along with the main character, like those kissing scenes.

So when I decided to try my own hand at writing a romantic comedy, guess what I did? Yep, that’s right, I decided to write it in present tense.

This may turn out to be a huge mistake.

Readers may hate it.

This may be an experiment gone bad.

Or it could be amazing.

Time will tell.

Wanna try out a present tense romantic comedy? I’m looking for ARC readers.

If present tense doesn’t scare you off and you’d like to read and review an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of Smitten with Ravioli, let me know if the comments. Be sure to leave your email address.

I don’t have a firm publication date yet, but it will be out sometime toward the end of May. In terms of heat level, it’s on the clean & wholesome side of the scale. There’s kissing, but no sex scenes.

You can check out the blurb HERE.

Raise your hand if you like adorable cats!

This is Garfieldia, one of the cats that lives at the marina where we’re currently hanging out at in our teeny-tiny camper. She’s such a sweet cat – super affectionate and cuddly.

So what about you – any writing rituals you want to share? Do you like present tense? Interested in an ARC of Smitten with Ravioli?

Author Interview, Reading, Writing

Top 10 Lessons about Self-Publishing “Dancing with Dementia” with Jemi Fraser

It’s a pleasure to be participating in author Jemi Fraser’s DANCING WITH DEMENTIA, Recognizing and Coping with the Early Stages of Dementia Blog Tour through MC Book Tours today.

I absolutely loved this book! Here’s my review on Goodreads:

Dancing with Dementia is an utterly engrossing memoir which is brutally honest, funny, and tear-jerking. The author does an amazing job of blending stories about the impact of her mother and step-father’s dementia had on herself and her family with tips about how you can recognize the early signs of dementia and support those afflicted with it. You’ll find yourself alternating between laughter at the author’s dark humor and wiping away tears as she shares poignant stories about the impact of this terrible disease. Be prepared to set aside a serious chunk of time once you pick up this book. Once you start reading it, you won’t want to stop.

Jemi offers some lessons that she learned self-publishing Dancing with Dementia that you’ll want to check out below.

The author is also offering a tour-wide international giveaway of an Amazon Gift Card. More information on the giveaway is listed at the end of this post.

Top 10 Lessons Learned about Self-Publishing

Dancing With Dementia is my first foray into self-publishing. I decided not to seek traditional publication because I wanted the book out there quickly. Well, also because #8.

10. If there is a super-difficult or round-about way to do something, I’ll find it. If there is a glitch in a system, it will find me. I’ve not yet found the easy way on the first try. Or even the fifth.

9. (Directly connected to #10) There is no ONE way to do anything. And there are at least a bazillion books & articles on each of those different ways. Choosing what works for you isn’t easy!

8. I’m kind of a control freak. I like knowing how things work. I like knowing how to fix things. I like knowing what stage things are at.

7. I like learning new things. I loved learning all these new skills. From finding a drawing program, to learning to combine voice and visual files, to creating a YouTube channel, to building a website, to making a cover, to formatting, to uploading files, I’ve had a ton of fun.

6. Technology hates me. Well, maybe it’s not sentient and maybe that’s an exaggeration, but maybe not. In the past few months I’ve had a recurring computer virus that no one can fix. This has caused technological hissy-fits that have put me out of commission for hours/days at a time.

5. Despite my control-freak status and my joy of learning, self-publishing is anything BUT a solo journey. You need extra eyes on every stage of the project.

4. The writing community is awesome! I already knew this, but it has been confirmed by so many along the way. There are so many blogs out there to learn from, people who willingly offer helping hands and advice for others.

3. Asking for help is hard. I’m not very good at this, but I’m working at getting better.

2. My Tigger Brain is very bouncy. This is sometimes a good thing. I can switch between tasks pretty easily. But, maintaining focus on one task for extended periods of time when other tasks are calling my name is tough!

1. There is a LOT to learn and that learning never ends. Which is also part of the fun!

About Dancing with Dementia

Dancing with Demntia: Recognizing and Coping with the Early Stages of Dementia
by Jemi Fraser

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Publisher: Just Jemi Books
eBooks
ISBN-13: 978-1-9991258-1-3

Dementia and Alzheimer’s touch the lives of millions around the world, but so much is still unknown.

As first-generation Canadians, we didn’t recognize the early warning signs. We didn’t know the differences between regular aging and the early stages of dementia. We’ve made mistakes but we’ve learned a lot.

DANCING WITH DEMENTIA will help you:
•Identify those early warning signs
•Use visuals to improve communication
•Choose your words wisely
•Redirect and reassure
•Stay calm and cope with your own emotions
•Consider nursing home options
•Improve caregiver self-care

We’ve learned to dance the early steps of the disease with our love and laughter intact. If you are looking for help recognizing early signposts along with practical ways to cope with early Dementia and Alzheimer’s, this book is for you.

Grab a copy of Dancing with Dementia at: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Apple Books |  Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Add DANCING WITH DEMENTIA to your Goodreads shelf

About Jemi Fraser

Jemi Fraser writes both fiction and nonfiction. Her nonfiction work focuses on the ways that dementia has impacted her family. Her fiction work varies from contemporary romance to suspense and flash fiction. Years as a teacher have taught Jemi that life is short and that happy endings are a must.

Jemi lives in Northern Ontario, Canada where snow is always a topic of conversation and the autumn leaves make everything better.

For more on Jemi and her writing, connect with her at: Website | Just Jemi Blog| Dancing With Dementia Blog | Amazon Page | BookBub | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Quick Tips Videos

Giveaway Details

This tour-wide giveaway is for a $20 Amazon Gift Card. The giveaway is open internationally.

To enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient. If the widget doesn’t show up, just click HERE and you’ll be directed to the widget.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to follow Jemi on her week-long tour HERE. You never know what you might find out. I hope dementia hasn’t touch your family or friends, but in case it has do you have any tips to share on dealing with this terrible disease?

a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Cozy Mystery Publishing, IWSG, Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mysteries, Writing

Missing Deadlines & Eating Lots of Chocolate | 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:

The IWSG’s focus is on our writers. Each month, from all over the globe, we are a united group sharing our insecurities, our troubles, and our pain. So, in this time when our world is in crisis with the covid-19 pandemic, our optional question this month is: how are things in your world?

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.

So, how are you all doing in your neck of the woods? Feeling a little crazy? Stir crazy, perhaps?

I’m definitely feeling the crazy right now, especially the stir crazy. Do you remember my IWSG post from last month – the one where I said that by the time this month rolled around, I’d either be celebrating with chocolate for meeting my deadlines OR commiserating with chocolate because I didn’t meet them?

Well, I failed. I watched as the deadlines came and went while stuffing my face with some delicious dark chocolate Dove candies that a friend gave me. She knows me so well.

In my defense, we had a lot going on – selling our boat (done!), getting all our stuff of the boat (done!), moving the boat into storage for her new owner (done!), preparing our teeny-tiny camper to become our full-time home (done!), and temporarily moving our camper into the campground at the marina (done!).

We also were busy with something immensely more fun then dealing with campers and boats – we got to meet fellow IWSG member, Liesbet from Roaming About, along with her sweet hubby and their adorable dog! So much fun was had and we were super sad to see them leave.

We too had hoped to leave Indiantown Marina here in southern Florida and head out West, first with a stop at Disney Land. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. By the time we were ready to head out, it was apparent that COVID-19 was a pretty big deal. We couldn’t decide what to do – stay or go – so we kept ordering stuff from Amazon for our camper to delay having to make a decision.

Eventually, the pandemic made the decision for us, so here we sit at Indiantown Marina eating lots of chocolate.

In writing news, I obviously missed my deadline for finishing up my romantic comedy, Smitten with Ravioli, but I’m now back on track and hope to have it done this week.

In other news from the writing front, I had scheduled a bunch of price drop promos for Murder at the Marina, the first in my Mollie McGhie cozy mystery series, long before the pandemic. I wasn’t sure how it would go in this new reality of ours, but, so far, they’re going okay. I think people are looking for bargain books in the current economic climate. Whether they’ll go on to buy full-price books in the rest of the series remains to be seen. My guess is probably not so much given financial strains that folks are feeling. On a related note, I’ve been selling a bunch of my large print cozy mysteries – people sure are looking for something to do while cooped up inside.

Well, anyhoo, that’s how things are going here. We’re healthy, we have a place to stay, and we have lots of chocolate. It could be worse.

How are things going for you?

Murder at the Marina is on sale for 99c/99p! If you like quirky characters, adorable cats, and plenty of chocolate, you’ll love this cozy mystery! Grab your copy at:

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

Boat Life, IWSG, Writing

Writing while Crazy Busy & Slightly Stressed Out | 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:

Other than the obvious holiday traditions, have you ever included any personal or family traditions/customs in your stories?

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. I opted not to answer this month’s question. Instead, I’m sharing thoughts on writing while crazy busy and slightly stressed out. Check it out below.

So yeah you can probably tell from the title of this blog post that I’ve got a lot going on. Trying to sell a sailboat, getting our teeny-tiny camper ready to move into, and meeting writing deadlines has me more than a little crazy busy.

We’ve had an offer on our boat (yay!), but until we close in mid-April, I see the money in the bank, and the papers are signed, I’ll be slightly stressed out. We’re planning on putting our boat in storage in mid-March and then hitting the road in our camper which means there’s a big list of items on the old To Do list.

One of those items is to finish writing Smitten with Ravioli by mid-March. Did you notice how that deadline is the same deadline as the one to move out of our boat and into our camper? Can it all be done by then? Tune in next month and see. My IWSG blog post will either be titled, “There’s Not Enough Chocolate to Deal with My Failure to Meet Deadlines” or “Celebrating with Lots of Chocolate for Meeting My Deadlines.” Either way, there’s going to be lots of chocolate.

So because I’ve got a lot to do, I’m going to have to end things here. I may be delayed in responding to comments and visiting your sites, but I’ll do my best.

Oh, by the way, did you know I have two books up for pre-order? Smitten with Ravioli is due to come out in July, but that date will likely be moved forward to May or June. Shooting by the Sea has an August release date.

Ginny isn’t sure what she’s most afraid of – cats who drool or falling for an annoying history professor.

Pre-order at: Amazon (US) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (AU) | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books

*Available on Kobo and Google Play closer to release

In her latest investigation, Mollie ends up doing some crazy things like giving the chief of police a pedicure and teaching her cat to play the ukulele.

Pre-order at: Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (AU) | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books

*Available on Kobo and Google Play closer to release

What’s going on in your world? Anything stressing you out? Are you crazy busy?

IWSG, Romantic Comedy, Writing

Smoochy Face: Thoughts on Writing Romantic Comedies | 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:

Has a single photo or work of art ever inspired a story? What was it and did you finish it?

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. I opted not to answer this month’s question. Instead, Simon the Cat pops by for a visit and I’m sharing some thoughts on writing romantic comedies. Check it out below.

I felt something heavy land on my shoulder. Turning my head, I saw a large menacing-looking gray cat staring at my computer.

“You weigh a ton, Simon. Get off me.” I tried to shoo him off, but he dug his claws in. “Ouch! that hurts!”

“Toughen up, lady,” he said. “No pain, no gain.”

“What exactly am I gaining by having you claw me to death?”

He leaned forward and peered at my screen. “I’m going to criticize your book.”

“How exactly is that helpful?”

“You want to know if your writing is bad, right?” he asked as he leaped onto the table.

“Uh, sure, but in a constructive way.” I rubbed my shoulder and winced. Antiseptic was going to be needed for these scratches.

He pawed at the screen. “Ooh. This is gross. They’re smooching.” Then he lowered his paw and pressed the delete button.

“Simon, stop!” I pulled him off the table and into my lap. “I spent all morning working on that.”

“Nobody wants to read about people kissing, lady,” he said, squirming in my arms. “Get back to writing about dead bodies.”

Thoughts on Writing Romantic Comedies

So, yeah, last month I decided to start writing romantic comedies. I certainly didn’t see that coming! I was about a quarter of the way through writing book #5 (Shooting by the Sea) in my Mollie McGhie Cozy Mystery series when I opened up a new Scrivener file and began typing away at a smoochy face book in my new Smitten with Travel series.

All I knew when I started was that I wanted it to be about travel, food, and, of course, happily ever afters. Then I got in the zone and the words started flowing out, characters made their presence known, and I giggled to myself as I created some truly goofy (and hopefully humorous) scenes. Drooling cats are funny, right?

Then I did something crazy—or at least crazy for me—I put the first book in the series, Smitten with Ravioli up for pre-order with a July release date. I haven’t even finished writing it yet! I know people do this all the time, my release date is far enough out, and I’m about halfway done writing it, so it should be fine (she says to herself in a reassuring tone while scarfing down cookies). Plus, I’m finding it highly motivational to have a release date looming over me.

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few thoughts about writing romantic comedies that have struck me over the past month:

1 – It’s much easier to skip around from chapter to chapter.

When I write cozy mysteries, it’s a very linear process. I do a rough outline, then write each chapter in order. But when it comes to romantic comedy, I find that I’ve been hopping around all over the place. In fact, I’ve already written the epilogue with their happily ever after scene. {Spoiler alert: they get married.}

With cozies, I think a structured approach works much better for me because I need to make sure I plant all the clues and red herrings in such a way that Mollie can solve the mystery.

It might also have to do with the fact that there are more characters to worry about in my cozies—I usually have five suspects, plus Mollie, her hubby, and the other recurring characters. With my romantic comedy, there are two main characters—the heroine and hero. Sure, there are other supporting characters, but the story focuses primarily on the two lovebirds.

2 – Cozy mystery readers may not like romantic comedies.

Because this is a new genre, I debated about whether to write my romantic comedies under a pen name. As you can see from the cover above, I decided not to. It seems like way too much work and additional expense to have a pen name. Plus, because my romantic comedies are “clean” (i.e., plenty of sizzle, but no sex) and cozy mysteries are “clean” by default, I figured I wouldn’t have to worry about alienating any current readers since I won’t be publishing “steamy” books.

But I have to accept the fact that this new series may not be of interest to my current readers and that I’ll have to build up an audience who enjoys romantic comedies.

3 – What’s funny to one person may not be funny to another.

I’ve been reading / watching a lot of romantic comedies lately. Sometimes, I laugh out loud. Sometimes, I smile quietly. Sometimes, I don’t get the joke. Then I hear from other people that the joke I didn’t get had them rolling on the floor in hysterics.

People tell me that my cozy mysteries make them laugh, sometimes out loud. That’s one of the reasons that I decided to try my hand at writing romantic comedies. But what if I’m not funny enough? Or not funny at all? Has everyone been lying to me? Do they yawn when they read my cozies? Do they not get my jokes?

Can you tell I’m a little insecure about this? When I do start to panic, I try to remind myself that what’s funny to one person may not be funny to another. Then I have some chocolate. That always seems to help.

Want to know more about Smitten with Ravioli? Click HERE. I’ve been playing around with blurb and trying out different things such as first person vs. third person (the book is written in first person present) and how to position it (or not) in terms of heat level, so if you have any thoughts, I’d love to hear them!

By the way, for all you Mollie McGhie fans, don’t worry, I’ll get back to Shooting by the Sea once Smitten with Ravioli is finished. Mollie still has a lot of murders to solve.

What about you? Has a single photo or piece of art inspired a story? Do you like romantic comedies? What makes you laugh?

Crazy Cat Lady, IWSG, Writing

Simon the Time Traveling Cat’s Writing Advice

I have an imaginary gray cat named Simon who has the ability to travel through time. He’s a pretty grumpy cat who is always complaining about not getting enough saucers of full-fat milk in his life, having his naps interrupted, and the “stupid” books I write. Simon pops up quite frequently in vignettes that I often include in my monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) posts.

Until recently, I wrote my IWSG posts on The Cynical Sailor, a blog I started in 2013 when my husband and I bought our first sailboat in New Zealand. Now that I have this author blog, I’ve realized that my IWSG posts are a better fit over here. But I don’t want lose sight of all of the Simon-related posts that I’ve written over on The Cynical Sailor, so I’ve created an index of them here.

As I’ve pulled this index together, it’s been fascinating to see how my writing journey has evolved over time. Have a look at the list below and check out the posts. They’re good for a few giggles and you might find some useful writing advice along the way.

An Index of Simon the Time Traveling Posts on The Cynical Sailor Blog

The Time Traveling Cat (March 2017) – Simon makes his first appearance on the blog while I answer the question, “Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it?”

How’d You Get So Full of Yourself? (April 2017) – I make cookies and have a chat with Simon about how I worry that people are going to think I’m full of myself because of all the promotion I’m doing about my upcoming release.

Simon the Time Traveling Cat Plays Monopoly (June 2017) – Simon complains about not getting to be the top hat in Monopoly while I answer the question, “Did you ever say I quit? What made you come back to writing?”

Simon the Time Traveling Cat Goes for a Walk (July 2017) – Simon is less than impressed when I buy a leash and harness for him, and I answer the question, “What’s one valuable lesson you’ve learned since writing?”

Interstellar Voyages with Simon the Time Traveling Cat (Sept 2017) – Simon uses his time traveling powers to take us to another universe where I answer the question, “Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing?”

Simon the Time Traveling Cat Gets a Visitor (Oct 2017) – Simon is rude to a visiting cat and I answer the question, “Have you ever slipped any of your own personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?”

Simon the Time Traveling Cat Coughs Up a Hairball (Nov 2017) – I explain to Simon what beta readers are when I answer the question, “Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNoWriMo project?” (Note: NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, a month-long event where participants from around the world attempt to write a 50,000 word novel during November.)

Waking Up with Simon the Time Traveling Cat (Dec 2017) – Simon and I travel back to January 1st to answer the question, “As you look back at 2017, with all of its successes and failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?”

Simon the Time Traveling Cat Takes a Nap (Jan 2018) – Simon gets grumpy when I try to move him from his favorite napping spot while I answer the question, “What steps have you taken, or do you plan to take, to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?”

Simon the Time Traveling Cat Gets Evicted (Feb 2018) – Simon knocks stuff off the table (very annoying) while I while I answer the question, “What do you love the most about the genre you write in?”

Celebrating with Star Trek & Dead Lizards (March 2018) – Simon tries to convince me that leaving dead lizards on my pillow is how he pays rent while I answer the question, “How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal / finish a story?”

Why Don’t Cats Sweat? (May 2018) – I complain about the heat in Florida to Simon and answer the question, “It’s spring! Does this season inspire you to write more than others?”

Simon the Time Traveling Cat’s Dubious Advice (June 2018) – When I try to answer the question, “What’s harder for you to come up with – book titles or character names?” Simon suggests that I name all characters after him. Silly cat.

Simon the Time Traveling Cat Freaks Out (July 2018) – The 4th of July fireworks scare Simon while I answer the question, “What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?”

Simon the Cat Travels through Time (Aug 2018) – Simon uses his powers to take us back to ancient Egypt. He likes it back then because cats were worshiped. While we’re there, I answer the question, “What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?”

Simon Goes Nuts for Catnip (Sept 2018) – Simon gets high on catnip while I answer the question, “What publishing path are you considering / did you take and why?” Wide, self-published

Simon the Time Traveling Cat’s Life Gets Disrupted (Oct 2018) – Simon freaks out when I serve him a new brand of cat food and I answer the question, “How do major life changes affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?”

Stop Being So Nosy! (Jan 2019) – Simon tries to find out how much money I make from writing when I answer the question, “What are your favorite and least favorite questions that people ask you about writing?”

What Cats Think about Heroes & Villains (March 2019) – Simon takes over the blog from me and answers the question, “What perspective do you like to write from the best – the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)?” It probably won’t surprise you, but Simon thinks all books should be written from a cat’s perspective.

Simon the Time Traveling Cat vs. Dewey Decimal the Talking Chameleon (June 2019) – I tell Simon all about the talking chameleon I have planned for my next cozy mystery series. He’s not impressed.

Release of Poisoned by the Pier & Character Traits (July 2019) – Simon hacks up a hairball on my keyboard while I answer the question, “What personal trait(s) have you written into your characters?”

How to Read without Opposable Thumbs (Oct 2019) – Simon and I chat about whether you can be a writer if you’re not also a reader while Simon shows me how he reads without opposable thumbs.

If you’ve had enough of Simon, here are some other writing-related posts from The Cynical Sailor you might be interested in.

Read an excerpt from Mrs. Moto’s diary – Mrs. Moto’s Murder Meows & Bodies in the Boatyard (Nov 2018). If you’re not familiar with Mrs. Moto, she’s the feline star of my Mollie McGhie cozy sailing mystery series.

Finding Time in My Busy Day (Sept 2016) – I share the results of an MIT study which compared how writers and cats spend their days. No surprise – cats take more naps.

About the Insecure Writer’s Support Group

If you’re not familiar with the IWSG, it’s an online support group founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh for writers with different levels of experience from folks who are just daydreaming about writing to those who have published bestselling books.

I’ve made wonderful connections with fellow writers through the IWSG and the support and encouragement I’ve received from the community are a huge part of why I’m now a published author.

Want to get involved in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG)? Just hop on over HERE to sign-up. We’d love to have you on board!

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.

IWSG, Writing

Imagining My Future Writing Self | 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:

Let’s play a game. Imagine. Role-play. How would you describe your future writer self, your life and what it looks and feels like if you were living the dream? Or if you are already there, what does it look and feel like? Tell the rest of us. What would you change or improve?

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.

Simon the cat getting ready to lay waste to the Christmas tree.

Simon the Cat Demands His Breakfast with Very Sharp Claws

Note: If you’re new to my IWSG posts, I often write stories about my imaginary cat, Simon, to answer the monthly questions. He’s rather a grumpy cat who loves full-fat milk, bashing my writing, and making a general nuisance of himself. The complete opposite of Mrs. Moto from my Mollie McGhie mysteries.

“Wake up, lady,” a low voice growled.

I groaned and pulled the covers over my head. “Leave me alone, Simon. I’m trying to sleep.” A paw snaked underneath my blanket, its sharp claws fully extended. “Ouch! That hurt.”

As I sat up in bed, my large gray cat glared at me. “Stop being so lazy and feed me breakfast.”

“You know, you’re much more pleasant in my dreams.” I stretched my arms over my head. “It was such a nice dream, too.”

“What did you dream about?” Simon asked as he rolled over on his back.

“My future writer self,” I said, as I rubbed his belly. “I’m doing really well in the future. I’ve written in some other genres like sci-fi and sweet romance. Plus, I have several cozy mystery series published including one with a talking chameleon who lives in a library in North Dakota.”

“Whoever heard of a talking chameleon? That’s a stupid idea, lady. Chameleons don’t talk. “

“And cats do?”

“Well, duh. You can hear me, can’t you?” Simon crawled onto my lap and kneaded my legs. “What are your other series about? Me?”

“You? No way,” I said. “Who would want to read about you?”

“You really aren’t very bright, are you? There’s people reading about me right now.”

I chewed on my lip. “Well, that’s different. This is a blog post, not a book.” Before he could interrupt with another smart aleck response, I added, “The other idea I have is a side series of novellas about a fortune teller who lives on Destiny Key.”

“Your new book is set there, isn’t it?” Simon asked.

“It is. Mollie and Scooter sail there during the Coconut Cove regatta.” I furrowed my brow. “How did you know that? Have you been reading my books?”

“Only when I have insomnia.” Simon yawned. “They’re so boring that they put me right to sleep.”

I lay back down and pulled the covers up to my chin. “If you don’t mind, I think I’m going to go back to sleep and dream about my future writer self and my future cat. He’s really sweet.”

“Future cat?” Simon jabbed my face with this paw, then sat back on his haunches. “Oh, I get it. You’re going to travel into the future, use their cloning machine and come back with a dozen more Simons.”

“That sounds like a nightmare.” I grabbed a pad from my bedside table. “Note to self,” I said as I scribbled on the paper. “Do not engage in time travel. One Simon is plenty.”

What about you? When you dream about your future, what do you envision?

Dead in the Dinghy will be released on December 13th! Pre-order 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!

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

Find out more HERE.