Celebrate the Small Things: Wishful Thinking and Wishes Come True

Fridays are all about celebrating the Small Things thanks to a weekly blog hop created by author Lexa Cain. Joint co-hosts this week are authors L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog The mission coincides with what I’m hoping to do with my own writing, inspire and focus on the light when those slippery shadows creep around our shoes. Want to sign up? Click Lexa Cain’s link to find out more.

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This week, I’m celebrating unseasonably hot temperatures, sailing my own imaginary seas away from the heat and hot winds, and of course real dreams with real boats with author Ellen Jacobson.

Living in Kansas City, summer can become unbearable. It’s like a mirage too because just outside the giant glass window and beyond the tall exterior of a building, the sun shines across the green grass and softly highlights all the leaves in the green trees. The breeze gently teases the bushes and the loose leaves along the sidewalk. You can’t help but sigh. Then you place your hand on the glass door of your work building on your lunch break thinking, what a lovely day.

But only for a breath. The second the door cracks open hot steamy air sucks the air from your lungs, the moisture from your skin, and clings to your blow-dried hair making you wonder, why did I even bother with my hair of all crazy hot days?

The next great question? Why am I going home on my lunch break to paint my bathroom cabinets outside in the garage in this terrible suffocating 100 degree heat?

I guess I got tired of wishing and I started doing.

Speaking of wishes in the making, I’d like to introduce a lovely gal and her lovely new book, Murder at the Marina.

I first meet Ellen Jacobson in my IWSG writers’ group after our short stories were selected to publish in the Hero Lost Anthology by Dancing Lemur Press back in 2017. I can’t believe it’s been just over a year since then. In any case, Ellen is one of the sweetest, most organized, and kindest working ladies I’ve ever met. When I learned she lived her real life on a real boat sailing the seas, my mind started spinning with possibilities, adventure and how creative and wild her life might be.

I’m also lucky enough to have a peek at the book and I’d like to share why I love it so much with you …

Mollie McGhie has been married for 10 years and is meeting her husband Scooter for a romantic dinner to celebrate their anniversary. A chocolate lover and an honest down to earth girl you wished you had as your neighbor, she is eagerly hoping for something diamond related since it is after all, ten lovely years. Every woman should get diamonds after 10 years of marriage. Instead, she finds herself on her own train of anniversary thoughts while her husband keeps dropping the name Marjorie Jane into the conversation. He doesn’t seem to see Mollie just a few feet away at the dinner table while he’s glued to his phone, studying the pictures of all things.  Who is this Marjorie Jane?

Personally, I love Mollie. I love her ability to see through the cracks and all the dirt knowing, something just isn’t right.

About the book

A dilapidated sailboat for your anniversary—not very romantic. A dead body on board—even worse.

Mollie McGhie is hoping for diamonds for her tenth wedding anniversary. Instead, her husband presents her with a dilapidated sailboat. Just one problem—she doesn’t know anything about boats, nor does she want to.

When Mollie discovers someone murdered on board, she hopes it will convince her husband that owning a boat is a bad idea. Unfortunately, he’s more determined than ever to fix the boat up and set out to sea.

Mollie finds herself drawn into the tight-knit community living at Palm Tree Marina in Coconut Cove, a small town on the Florida coast. She uncovers a crime ring dealing in stolen marine equipment, investigates an alien abduction, eats way too many chocolate bars, adopts a cat, and learns far more about sailing than she ever wanted to.

Can Mollie discover who the murderer is before her nosiness gets her killed?

A Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mystery #1

About the Author

Ellen Jacobson writes mystery and sci-fi/fantasy stories. She is the author of the “Mollie McGhie Sailing Mystery” series. She lives on a sailboat with her husband, exploring the world from the water. When she isn’t working on boat projects or seeking out deserted islands, she blogs about their adventures at The Cynical Sailor.

You can connect with Ellen on:

Where can you buy it?

Murder at the Marina—A Mollie McGhie Sailing Mystery #1

Release Date: June 21, 2018

Print ISBN 978-1-7321602-1-7
eBook ISBN 978-1-7321602-0-0
Mystery

Available at:

Amazon (US) – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CHXQ29Y

Amazon (CA) – https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07CHXQ29Y

Amazon (UK) – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07CHXQ29Y

Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/murder-at-the-marina

Barnes & Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/murder-at-the-marina-ellen-jacobson/1128516692

Apple iBooks – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1373848719

Google Play – https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Ellen_Jacobson_Murder_at_the_Marina

A Word of Advice from Ellen

A view of her real boat 🙂

I think my #1 tip for living on a boat is to be flexible and patient. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, usually at the most inopportune time. There will be times when you have to juggle your priorities to address the latest issue that crops up. Also, living in a relatively small space (our boat has probably around 400 square feet of living space) with another person means patience is often called upon. There’s not a lot of space to get away from each other.

When things get tough, I try to remind myself of all of the reasons we live on a boat – travel, adventure, an incredible community, and a simpler way of life – and remember all of the good times we’ve had on our boat. As long as the fun times outweigh the not-so-fun times, you’ll find us on board.

Stay tuned

The full review will come later this month so check out the book. You’ll love it. I sure know I do.

Should We Write the Whole Truth? #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Author Toolbox Blog Hop

The Author Toolbox Blog Hop is “a monthly blog hop on the theme of resources/learning for authors: posts related to the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, blogging tips for authors, reviews of author-related products, anything that an author would find helpful.” Want to jump into the writing tool box? Search #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join via blog, click here.

Thank you Raimey!

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When I wrote my first draft of my first novel, I went scene by scene, chapter by chapter. I wrote in a logical timeline, from Monday, Tuesday, not knowing how to get to Friday where I really wanted the conflict to begin. I had no idea there was this really cool technique called Narrative Summary, and used effectively and efficiently, may work better then walking a reader through the whole truth.

Ever told an event from your day word for word and managed to hold attention from start to finish? I’m not sure if this is possible. I admit, I’ve done it. I’ve also watched eyes wander away.

In writing, Narrative Summary is a great way to hold on to a reader’s attention with a great fast-forward bridge where the reader may not notice a skip over a course of hours, maybe days, and may also remain engrossed on the page without scanning.

So what is it, you might ask?

According to Quora, I found the perfect definition:

Narrative summary is possibly the most flexible of the various ways of presenting a story. Narrative summary doesn’t necessarily tie the author down to chronological order, the way dialog and dramatization do, nor does it require a focus on one particular aspect of the story, as description often does.

90 Day to Your Novel by Sarah Domet also states, “the narrator summarizes some events of the story for the reader, without showing the scene directly.”

Author Domet goes on to say, “you don’t have to show, in scene, how your character got from the end of chapter one to the beginning of chapter two by first getting a car, driving to the ferry, riding a ferry … then walking the rest of the way. But you will have to make clear to the reader that these changes took place.”

One of my favorite young adult books I’ve read this year and talked about multiple times is Panic, by Lauren Oliver. In one beautiful sentence Oliver transitions the reader from one Saturday to the next:

“Time tumbled, cascaded on, as though life had been set to fast-forward.”

Then she begins the next paragraph so perfectly, “Finally Saturday came, and she couldn’t avoid it anymore.”

I am so drawn in. I can see her panic, her nervous tension. And I want to read on and find out how she faces her worst fear in the next blind challenge against her peers.

One more example, you may ask?

A perfect one ends a chapter with a huge confrontational moment where our second POV main character Dodge is crushing on a girl and gives her a gift for her birthday. One he can’t afford. One he can’t stop thinking will finally show her he really cares. She’ll melt. She has to. Instead, she gives it right back and he’s so dejected he says the worst thing and they’re both sniffing back shadowed tears:

“Her eyes locked on his for a minute. He saw two dark holes, like wounds; then she whirled around and was gone.”

Thus, the chapter ends.

The next chapter begins with him home in his apartment, dreading his decision to head straight home the second he hears his mom call from the living room. To meet her new boy of the week. The father of a former classmate who had recently died. In the very game our two main characters are competing in. The entire scene is painted so we see Dodge’s awkward tension.

Oliver could have started the new chapter with the door in Dodge’s face, a slow walk down the hall, him shuffling down the steps to the street below, but she didn’t. We don’t need to watch a dejected walk of shame or the passing details of the city. Realistically, Dodge wouldn’t be paying attention to the city. Instead, Oliver shows us in the opening page of the new chapter with body language, dialogue, all the while, ramping up new conflict to peek our interest.

What can you do to try Narrative Summary?

Take out a scene you’ve stewed over. Maybe it doesn’t feel right. Maybe you’ve had comments from your beta readers, peers or editor how the action or conflict has dropped. Reread it. Seek places to summarize point A to B in a sentence. Notice the differences. Maybe try a new scene and write it out both ways. You might really like what you discover.

First Impressions Make and Break Books #IWSG

[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support and encouragement to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]

This month’s awesome hosts are: Beverly Stowe McClure, Tyrean Martinson, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

And thank you to founder Alex J. Cavaugh 🙂

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What does our name mean?

As a kid, I remember the first time I actually picked out my own first pet, a dog. She was a two-year old mix between a cocker spaniel and a sheltie. Her hair was black, soft and wavy. Her eyes were giant, brown and watery. Her nose wasn’t fat or thin and everything about her sweet face, her expressions, melted my heart. I took her home and bathed her and then I found her ear had been damaged from what I guessed had been a fight with the other larger dog in her previous home. I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t believe someone had left the skin so dirty and crusted over. I cleaned it, cut her hair and sat with her on the back steps in the backyard, drumming my fingers on my knee pondering the perfect name for her. Naming her was the first difficult act and I spent several hours searching for just the right one. My dearest nightmare chaser, my waiting friend at the door when I’d return from school or sports. I called my sweet little lady, Sadie.

THis month’s IWSG question asks: “What’s harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?”

A name is identity, association, personality, even a secret if we don’t like what we get. I’m in the business of public relations and some days I stare at thousands of names as I’m preparing for specific events, publications and news stories. By staring at so many names, and watching so many student faces in school crowds, honors events, and social media feeds, I find it much easier to place a character with a name than titles.

Titles are like a brand. I have the worst time writing news headlines at work. I know they draw the eye in and if the headline doesn’t peek the curiously of the reader, and if you give away too much of the story in the headline, you lose the reader.

True, a brand is also identity. But a brand is far more than a name. It’s something you can remember. LIke an old 80’s jingle. A title is also a visual and it sets the tone for what a reader expects to find within a book. Titles further merge with image, photos and cover designs. I dread book titles. The first point of entry is so critical for any author or news writer. It’s the best victory in the world to finally settle on one. When I know it’s right, it feels really right, too.

Here’s my favorite commercial as a kid with the best motivating jingle song. Not sure how a tiger ever got associated with Frosted Flakes, but I loved the tiger more then the cereal and ate it every chance I could just to stare at the fun face on the box.

Do you have a favorite 80’s commercial? Does a jingle from your past occasionally float into your head and get stuck? Are names or headlines tougher to write?

Happy IWSG Day, all. Make it a “Great” day.

Celebrate the Small Things: Struggle and Forward Strides #fridayfeeling

Fridays are all about celebrating the Small Things thanks to a weekly blog hop created by author Lexa Cain. Joint co-hosts this week are authors L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog The mission coincides with what I’m hoping to do with my own writing, inspire and focus on the light when those slippery shadows creep around our shoes. Want to sign up? Click Lexa Cain’s link to find out more.

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Last night, I listened to my son at piano practice until suddenly the sounds on the piano silenced and his voice quivered with frustration and tears. I listened closer to the teacher as she slowed her voice and softened her tone. She offered him a glass of water and talked about pushing through our mistakes. How we have to slow down and correct our hands and our fingers to play the right keys. How we all have to learn sometimes, and not everything worth the struggle comes easily. I thought to myself, Thank goodness you take the time to listen and encourage. Thank goodness you allow him time to feel his discouragement and then set a time on that feeling before asking him to recharge and start over.

Because she’s right, and no matter our age, I believe we all need to remember we struggle at some point with something we love or care about. We all need to make ourselves do hard things sometimes to reap the greater reward. Practice, Practice, practice, I always tell my son. Giving up never gets us anywhere we want to be.

So what has happened to me this week I might celebrate through the struggles? Finally, my kiddos have made it through multiple illnesses from the stomach flu, to fevers, to tooth decay issues and then boom—allergies beyond sufferable. Finally, we’re all sleeping again. Finally, we’re all singing to our own little rhythms because I am a noisy mom and I apologize right now, but my children are noisy too, singing, whistling, singing louder in the shower, talking about their worlds and their adventures both good and bad—nonstop. I see me in them. I see them striving for joy no matter what happens in their days. I’m loving it. I’m also loving the fact that it’s their last day of school and I’m taking off early to walk them home, eat ice cream, a non-dairy kind for me, and celebrate all of our successes over the course of an academic year. I’m celebrating home improvement projects I’d like to begin, painting the trim and the cabinets in the bathroom from their golden oak color to white. And new curtains for the kids.

On the writing side, I’m celebrating several things: the end of historical Celtic research and the beginning of writing again. At least a little every day.

And while I’m talking about celebrations and books, I’m helping out a sweet friend Author C. Lee McKenzie, with her new Middle Grade Release: SOME VERY MESSY MEDIEVAL MAGIC.

Isn’t the cover lovely? I saw the playful text and it made me smile.

Here’s a bit about the book:

Pete’s stuck in medieval England!

Pete and his friend Weasel thought they’d closed the Time Lock. But a young page from medieval times, Peter of Bramwell, goes missing. His absence during a critical moment will forever alter history unless he’s found.

There’s only one solution – fledgling wizard Pete must take the page’s place. Accompanied by Weasel and Fanon, Pete’s alligator familiar, they travel to 1173 England.

But what if the page remains lost – will Pete know what to do when the critical moment arrives? Toss in a grumpy Fanon, the duke’s curious niece, a talking horse, and the Circle of Stones and Pete realizes he’s in over his young wizard head yet again…

Release date – May 15, 2018

Juvenile Fiction – Fantasy & Magic/Boys & Men

$13.95 Print ISBN 9781939844460

$3.99 EBook ISBN 9781939844477

About the Author

Lee McKenzie has a background in Linguistics and Inter-Cultural Communication, but these days her greatest passion is writing for young readers. When she’s not writing she’s hiking or traveling or practicing yoga or asking a lot questions about things she still doesn’t understand.http://cleemckenziebooks.com

Where can you get the book?

Happy Friday, all. May your weekend be great 🙂