Toolbox 13: Quotes to Inspire

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.


Right now I should be writing this for the IWSG but alas that isn’t for weeks and I need a post now. I threw away my original post and thought, instead of going on and on about my dry research, I’d dive in to what inspires me most—other writers.

As I read, I remember they started as we did: knowing nothing, learning the craft and taking a chance.

“If I waited for perfection… I would never write a word.”
—Margaret Atwood

“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.”
William Faulkner

“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of. ”
— Joss Whedon

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”
–Anne Frank

“I really think that if there’s any one enemy to human creativity, especially creative writing, it’s self-consciousness.”
—Andre Dubus III

And one to inspire Easter eggs hunts

“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and overagain, there is no use in reading it at all.”
—Oscar Wilde

As you may have guessed, I’m starting something new. I’m taking chances and trying my hand at a magical realism mystery. What was I thinking, is what I’m thinking right now. Please add your favorite, if you have one, in the comments.


IWSG 51 Avoid Yah-Ha vs Nah-Ha

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.



Erika Beebe | Sandra Hoover | Susan Gourley , | Lee Lowery

IWSG Question: 

What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?

I remember being very excited about my writing adventure when I put my first effort together. I hadn’t read any books except Stephen King’s On Writing. It was more of an experiment than a sure-fire novella on its way to publication.

I offered it up for evaluation at Zoetrope. I was excited to find such a site and when I went hunting around for the site today, it still had me on file. Too funny.

What to avoid?

Make sure you have a story with both a protagonist and an antagonist. I swear I was writing a fairy tale (scifi — note the ship — this time too) with a happy group of aliens traipsing through space all chasing a long-lost treasure.

Feedback was kind but clear. The story needed a bad guy. NO CONFLICT; NO TENSION.

Avoid Yah-Ha vs Nah-Ha

I got confused and figured conflict resembled the is-so vs is-not kind of interaction. Well that gets old and repetitive after two rounds. Listen to a couple of kids stuck in the backseat during a road trip and you’ll see what I mean. It’s not any better in a story. Things spiral using that approach

Avoid thinking writing is a lonely business

I found Zoetrope first and then Scribophile & the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The writing community is huge and ranged from newbies to masters. Join a writing group, face-to-face or online. It doesn’t matter. That’s where the support is.

You might even feel like the odds aren’t against you anymore.

Avoid thinking all contests cost money

There are free ones out there. I am particularly fond of the Writes of the Future. First story was a bust but my second got an honorable mention. It spurred me on and didn’t cost a cent.

Last tip

Some contest have fees, but are still reputable. If you like to write horror and feel like trying your hand at a screen play, Zoetrope might be for you.

Francis Ford Coppola is the finalists judge. There is an entry fee for both the screenwriter’s contest and the short story contest (the fees are new) ranging from 30-50 depending where your work falls.

The deadline is coming up, so I’d plan for 2019 if you’re interested.

I’m off to read some posts. Thanks for dropping by. If you have comments on recommended contests or sites for writers be sure to include them in your comments. I’d love to read about both.

Toobox 12: Calibre, “Send to Kindle”, and Lulu

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.



Many people like to read their work on an ereader. Calibre is one way to do that. Here are the download links if you want them:

Windows | MacOS | Linux

I started using Calibre because I could not catch all my errors on a computer screen. My mind, like many others, self corrects. I was stuck printing. Fine, but expensive when still in revision mode. As my stories got longer the more I looked for an alternative.

Calibre converts a MS Word doc into a mobi (that’s my choice but there are more). I see both my Calibre library and the books/documents on my Kindle. I’ve also added my favorite recipes. One button and the document is transferred to my phone. Easy peasy.

Amazon Send to Kindle

Another  way to get a document on a Kindle is “Send to Kindle”. Here are the links to download this app: PC, Android, & Mac.

There is some setting up required.

  • Download and install app
  • Sign in (same info for registering your app/reader)
  • On any closed MS Word Document right click and from the drop down menu choose: send to kindle.
    • First time asks for accept terms of service
  • It lists the title and author of the work, how it will be sent (wifi or Whispernet) and which device (if you have more than one with the Kindle app)
  • Wait for a bit and it will show up with the next sync.

Once it is set up it is very straight forward to use.


And for the person who still prefers a hard copy…

If you still like paper copies try Their most basic package is cheaper (according to one of my writing buddies) than printing it out at home.

Note: Select 8.5 x11 and One copy.

For my final read through before submitting, I like make changes and just leave remarks to consider later. If I don’t do it this way, I land up reverting back to revision mode—not the goal.

Just thought you’d enjoy some alternative methods to read over your latest project.

I keep thinking one day I’ll gather my work together and create a volume of works using Lulu.

Do you do something similar? Feel free to share  you methods. I love to learn something new. 🙂


This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.



Co-Hosts: | Nicki Elson | Juneta Key | Tamara Narayan | Patricia Lynne

OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?

Writers evolve because over time not only do we get better at the craft we see all kinds of possibilities we ignored in the beginning. Most of us start off modest. Well, I did at any rate.

now i have a goal

My goal lately is to find an agent, but like many of you that’s not how it started. It started with entering a contest and receiving an honorable mention. After many more words and a few published shorts, it brought me to the Insecure Writers Support Group.

Like everyone else that enjoys membership I write because I can’t stop. It’s amazing how secure I feel when I know I’m not alone.

I get lost in storytelling

Sometimes I’m secure and brave enough to start brainstorming, or outlining.

I get moments when I’m lost in my imagination and can live there for months. I don’t mind the hard work of getting the story down. I’m happiest when I’m up to my elbows and don’t worry about where it will lead.

Too scary for me, so I won’t over think it.

When I incorporate feedback and think the work is polished enough, I live in moments of bravery or madness and submit. Sometimes it pays off. I try not to over think that either.

someone else liked my work

It turned out someone thought I was worth publishing. It was validation. I got it. I guess I want more of it.

Seeking Representation is evolution

So things have changed from contests and short to novels and seeking an agent. I could be mad, as in crazy as a loon, or maybe I’m brave. In the end it won’t matter. What matters is moving forward one word at a time.

Big plans or little. How’s it going for you?

Murder at the Marina by Ellen Jacobson

Thanks for hosting me on your site today to celebrate the release of my cozy mystery, Murder at the Marina. This is the first book in the lighthearted and humorous Mollie McGhie Sailing Mystery series, featuring a reluctant sailor turned amateur sleuth.

My own sailing adventures and misadventures inspired me to write this series. My husband and I bought our first sailboat in New Zealand in 2012. After a couple of years cruising in those beautiful waters, we returned to the States and bought a bigger boat which we moved onto in 2015. We’ve since cruised in Florida and the Bahamas, labored over endless boat projects, and worked to keep our cruising kitty (savings) topped up.

I wanted to reflect my experiences learning to sail, cruising and living aboard a boat, and being part of the boating community in my cozy mysteries. You could say that there’s a little bit of me in my main character, Mollie.

I thought I’d share one of the boating tidbits which I wrote about in Murder at the Marina—namely, pets on boats. Mollie encounters a Japanese bobtail cat, Mrs. Moto, at the marina who lives aboard a boat with her owners. Mrs. Moto loves to run around the place, jump on other people’s boats, and chase seagulls on the beach. Mollie falls in love with the cat and quickly discovers that Mrs. Moto has an uncanny ability to find clues which help solve the mystery.

While we’ve had a dog and cats when we lived on land, we don’t currently have (or plan on having) pets on board. So, I like to live vicariously through other people’s pets. At our current marina, we have friends with dogs who have to be carried up and down ladders while their boats are up on the hard. A few slips down from us, there’s a boat with a cat door which enables its resident tabby to go in and out as she pleases. It’s fun to watch these critters explore the marina and make friends with them.

If you’d like to learn more about Mollie and her sailing adventures, you can find details about Murder at the Marina below.

About the Book

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


Ellen Jacobson

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


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?

Where to buy

Amazon (US) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (UK) | Kobo

Barnes & Nobel | Apple iBooks | Google Play

About Ellen

Ellen Jacobson writes mystery and scifi/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.

Ellen’s Links

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Blog | Twitter |