Tuesday, July 03, 2018

The Insecure Writer's Support Group and Murder at the Marina

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, founded by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

We are posting a day early since Wednesday is the 4th of July here in the US.

The IWSG’s Twitter pitch party is July 19. You don’t want to miss this opportunity. We signed a wonderful book coming out this September, Bubba and Squirt’s Big Dig to China, from a #IWSGPit tweet.

Today’s question - What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?

I started off with the goal of published author when I was 13. I’m now the author of 5 fiction and 2 non-fiction books.

While I still want to continue writing - and I am working on something now - my goals shifted to publisher. Now my goal is to help the authors we sign achieve their goals.

One of those authors is visiting today. She’s part of the IWSG anthology Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life and here to talk about her own book.

Murder at the Marina

One day, when we were living in Scotland, my husband announced that he wanted to sell everything we own, buy a sailboat, move aboard, and go cruising. I assumed he had developed some form of early dementia and changed the subject. Then he mentioned it again, and again, and again. Turns out this wasn't just a passing fancy. He was serious about this boating stuff and went on a number of sailing trips with his buddies, as well as crewing on boats in the Mediterranean.

When we moved to New Zealand, he was beside himself with excitement. Auckland is known as the “City of Sails” and it was here that he put his “Brainwash Ellen into Loving Sailing” campaign into operation. We chartered boats a few times and it turns out that it was kind of fun. Eventually, I suggested that we could save money by buying our own small sailboat, rather than chartering. That's when he declared his campaign to be a success. We were buying a sailboat and it was my idea.

My experience getting into sailing isn't unusual. Often, it's the guy in the relationship who dreams about getting a boat and the woman gradually warms to the idea over time (or doesn't). When I decided to write a cozy mystery series, I thought it would be fun to make the main character, Mollie McGhie, a reluctant sailor turned amateur sleuth. Her husband, Scooter, like mine, is obsessed with sailing, so obsessed that he thought presenting Mollie with a dilapidated sailboat for their wedding anniversary was a good idea. He couldn't have been more wrong.

I enjoyed writing about Mollie's reactions to the sailboat, her confusion over sailing terminology, and her experiences learning to sail, as well as have her meet the different types of characters you might encounter at a marina. You could say that there's a little bit of me in Mollie, especially when it comes to our love of chocolate. Although, I do draw the line at investigating murders.

Over the course of the series, Mollie will encounter other aspects of boating life that may not exactly be her cup of tea, while investigating mysterious happenings. Perhaps Scooter will suggest that they sell their house and all their belonging and move onto their boat full-time. Mollie may have to learn to cook on board in rough weather in a cramped, overheated galley. They may join in a regatta and sail to the Bahamas. Maybe something will go terribly wrong with their boat, requiring repairs while at sea. The possibilities are endless.

If you want to follow along as Mollie learns to sail and solves murders, the first book in the series, Murder at the Marina, is available now and the second book, Bodies in the Boatyard, will be released later this year.

Print ISBN 978-1-7321602-1-7
eBook ISBN 978-1-7321602-0-0
A Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mystery #1

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?

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.

How has your ultimate writing goal changed? And what would you do if your husband got you a sailboat for your anniversary?

Monday, June 25, 2018

Pros and Cons to Having a Pen Name by Chrys Fey

To have a pen name or not to have a pen name. That is the question.

Many writers just starting out or who are contemplating publishing for the first time (including published authors considering publishing under a different genre) wonder if they need a pen name or not. Well, need is a silly way to think of a pen name. No, you don’t need a pen name. But do you want one? That question could leave writers divide. Yes and no, they’d probably say. So how can they decide? Weighing the pros and cons, of course!

Take a look at the list below. As you read them, create your own pros and cons tally. Do you love a pro? Add a tally under pros. Does one of the cons bother you? Add a tally under cons.

Now, are you ready?

Pen Name Pros:
1. You can tailor your pen name to your brand (the genres your write and your image). Imagine the last name Law for a writer of crime mysteries.
2. Stand out with a unique pen name (if you have a common name). My real name is very common, but Chrys Fey is unique, which is why I love it.
3. Anonymity. No one has to know it’s you. You can even keep it a secret from your friends and family. Or at the very least, it’s anonymous in that no one has your real name.
4. You could use a pen name to publish in a specific genre far from what you usually publish.
For example, say you published non-fiction under your real name, but now you want to publish erotica or paranormal romance, you could use a pen name to distinguish the two.
5. You can create an identity/persona not unlike yourself but more mysterious, romantic, or fun, depending on your brand/pen name.
6. You can honor someone you love by using their initials or first name as part of your pen name.
7. How you thought of your pen name is a story you can share later when you publish.
8. Gender neutral pen name. Sometimes, you want to attract a specific readership or all readers, regardless of gender. A gender-neutral pen name can help with this.
9. If your name is hard to pronounce, a pen name is a good idea to make it easier on book buyers, publishers, agents, and…yes...readers. The pen name doesn’t even have to be so different. You could easily shorten your name to a nickname or use half of your last name.
10. You can use a pen name to “start fresh.” If you want to distance yourself, for whatever reason, from another pseudonym or from your real name, a pen name can help with this, especially if you create a new persona and go for anonymity.

Pen Name Cons:
1. You don’t want to lie in your bio just because you have a pen name. Be truthful. However, you can use your pen name’s persona to make your bio’s tone fit your brand.
2. If you use a pen name to publish under a different genre, you have to start fresh with building a readership for your pen name, especially if you don’t reveal you are the author. Even if you let your readers know, you’ll have to learn to target a different set of readers.
3. It takes times to come up with a pen name you want to be known by…forever.
4. You have to get used to people referring to you by another name. At first, it can be weird.
5. You have to practice signing another name. And remember to sign it, too! Signing your real name would be a big OOPS!
6. You can’t make your readers feel as though you’re not real, so don’t be over-the-top or pretend to be what you’re not. Be a real person but with a different name.
7. You have to set up accounts for Facebook, Twitter, and all social media platforms for your pen name, which means having to build followers from 0. You’ll need a new website, too, which could mean two if you plan to publish under different names.
8. If you want to protect your name, you’ll have to copyright under your pen name. Copyright done with a real name lasts for the life of the author plus 80 years. Copyright done with a pen name is protected for 95 years starting from the publication date.
9. You have to make sure to fill in your pen name whenever you do something publishing related, such as submitting a query letter or entering a contest.
10. Promoting under two names can be a strain, unless you combine your accounts and let readers in on your secret.

Some of these may not apply to you, and many of these cons can be conquered. Basically, the decision falls under whether you want your books to have your real name on them and if you want readers to know you by your real name. Even if you use a pen name, though, that doesn’t mean it’s not you. You become that name and will feel a sense of pride seeing it on your books.

If you like the idea of using a pen name to your advantage, then do it.

If you’ve already published under your real name and think managing a pen name on top of that will be too hard, then you don’t need one.

Consider each pro and each con. Ask yourself what you envision, what you want. Then stick by that choice. Pen names are great, but so is using your birth name.

There is no right answer for everyone, only the right answer for you.

For more information like this check out:

Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication by Chrys Fey

Barnes & Noble / iTunes /Kobo / Amazon

BIO: Chrys Fey is the author of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication. Catch the sparks you need to write, edit, publish, and market your book! From writing your novel to prepping for publication and beyond, you’ll find sparks on every page, including 100 bonus marketing tips. Fey is an editor for Dancing Lemur Press and runs the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s Goodreads book club. She is also the author of the Disaster Crimes series. Visit her blog Write With Fey for more tips. @ChrysFey Website: Chrys Fey

There’s also a giveaway:

Do you have a pen name or considered using one?

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

IWSG and News, Write With Fey, Bayou Writers Conference

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, founded by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

I’m a day early because a new book comes out today that is perfect for writers.

Today’s question - What's harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?

Neither, really. Most of my characters came to me pre-named. Others came from the Bible. (Matthew, Mark, James, etc.) My fiction series title was a suggestion from my husband and my non-fiction books are titled after seminars I teach. So, I don’t find either challenging.

I’m speaking at several events this fall, including the Bayou Writers Conference in Lake Charles, Louisiana. “A Bridge to Publication Conference” takes place on October 13 and all writers are welcome. I'm doing one session and taking pitches from writers that day.
Plus! I have brochures for the event. If you live within driving distance of Lake Charles, LA (western LA, near Texas border) and would like some brochures to share with other writers, please leave a comment. I’m happy to share them with you. (I live 1000 miles away and not many writers here will be making that trip. LOL!)

IWSG News:

The IWSG anthology contest opens September 5th.
The genre - YA romance.
The theme will be announced on September 5th, so don’t miss it.

The next IWSG Twitter Pitch Event is July 19th. Get the details about #IWSGPit at the site - rules, hashtags, hours, etc. This is the 3rd IWSG hosted pitch party and there are hundreds upon hundreds of agents and publishers invited to check the stream that day.
Do pitch parties work? Yes! Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. signed Sherry Ellis and her book, Bubba and Squirt’s Big Dig to China, comes out on September 4th.

The July IWSG post day will be on Tuesday, July 3rd instead of Wednesday, July 4th. (Fourth of July national holiday here in the United States.)

Today, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C./Freedom Fox Press is delighted to announce the release of an amazing book that’s perfect for writers! 

Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You From Idea to Publication by Chrys Fey

Catch the sparks you need to write, edit, publish, and market your book!

Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication offers an abundance of data in one handy book. From writing your novel to prepping for publication and beyond, you’ll find sparks on every page, including 100 bonus marketing tips. You’ll also discover how to write specific scenes and characters, adding depth to your work.
• Spark One: Being a Writer
• Spark Two: Story Essentials
• Spark Three: A Book’s Stepping Stones
• Spark Four: How To
• Spark Five: Character ER
• Spark Six: Editing
• Spark Seven: Publishing
• Spark Eight: Marketing
• Spark Nine: Writing About
• Spark Ten: Final Inspiration
With so much information, you’ll take notes, highlight, and flag pages to come back to again and again on your writing journey.

Available June 5, 2018
6x9 trade paperback, 370 pages, Freedom Fox Press
Creative Writing / Publishing / Marketing
$19.95 Print ISBN 9781939844484
$5.99 eBook ISBN 9781939844491

“Publishing a book can seem overwhelming, but Chrys Fey breaks it down in this indispensable guide for writers. Fey's step-by-step instructions and encouraging style help with everything from pre-writing to marketing a published book.” - Elizabeth S. Craig, author

“Solid, sound basic writing book for the writing daring to be an author. The "10 Sparks" cover a wealth of topics with abbreviated, concise guidance, giving authors a fantastic place to check off all the necessities.” ~C. Hope Clark, The Carolina Slade Mysteries and The Edisto Island Mysteries, Founder of FundsforWriters.com

“A must-read book for those who are serious about writing, but are clueless or doubtful of their writing capabilities. I would suggest this book to all who write as a desk reference book - it will be worth it!” 5 stars - Readers Favorites

Chrys Fey is the author of the Disaster Crimes Series and an editor for Dancing Lemur Press. She started her blog, Write with Fey, to offer aspiring writers inspiration, advice, and hope. At the age of twelve, she started writing her first novel, and since then she has been a dedicated citizen in the writing world.

Again, if you live in Louisiana or Texas and would like some brochures for the writers conference in October, please leave a comment.

Now, are you ready to Write With Fey? Visit her site and enter to win some really cool writing swag.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

What You Might Not Know About the Author Behind Some Very Messy Medieval Magic

C. Lee McKenzie has a new release today.

But before we get to that, I asked her to share some things you might not know about her. This was she told me:

I wanted to be an archeologist and had that as my life plan until I hit college. Then I discovered how woefully ill-equipped I was. I’m not a patient person. I tend to rush to the end of things so I can move on to the next item. Using a delicate brush to very carefully reveal tiny shards from the long-lost past, just wouldn’t have worked. Besides, I turn into a crispy critter in the sun (there are a lot digs in the desserts of the world), I truly dislike being cold (I’m thinking Iceland and Vikings here) and closed spaces make me crazy (Siberian caves would send me off screaming).

This may or may not be a secret, but I’m a neat freak. My husband doesn’t dare set anything down where it doesn’t “belong,” or i put it away. My grandmother was like this and my mom, so it’s in my DNA. My husband often says he wishes he’d known this proclivity of mine sooner. He always says this just before he stomps out the door looking for that tool he set aside to do a repair job. “Sorry, dear.”

I love to cook, and I seldom repeat a menu because there are so many delicious things to try. My favorite foods are Indian (all kinds from north to south of that continent) and anything middle-eastern. It’s the cinnamon, turmeric, and garam marsala that appeal to my taste buds.

I prefer to grow my own veggies, and often graze in my garden while I weed or prune stuff. A lot of my produce never sees a kitchen. Tomatoes and carrots are often lunch.


By C. Lee McKenzie

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...

$13.95 Print ISBN 9781939844460
$3.99 EBook ISBN 9781939844477
Juvenile Fiction - Fantasy & Magic (JUV037000) / Boys & Men (JUV005000)

“A gripping adventure back in time, with action around every corner.” - Stephanie Robinson, author of The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow

“A great addition to middle school classrooms and libraries, as well as your own private library.” - Beverly Stowe McClure, award-winning author of stories for children and teens.

“This third book in the Adventures of Pete and Weasel series was as much fun as the first.” - Kai Strand, author

“A rich cast of characters who bring the story to life – both in modern and historical times. I highly recommend librarians and teachers get this series on their shelves.” - Hall Ways Reviews

C. 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.
Website / Facebook / Twitter

Purchase/find Some Very Messy Medieval Magic at Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iTunes / Amazon / Foyles / Goodreads

Plus check out the book trailer for the series:

Who’s ready to get messy with some medieval magic?