Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The 5 W's: Ellen Jacobson's Murder at the Marina, Giveaway, New Release Joselyn Vaughn's A Penny Saved

Welcome to the Focused on Story Blog and to the Five W's in Story event. I am thrilled to introduce two friends today who have new releases out for you to enjoy this summer! Excellent writers with funny, entertaining stories to share with you. Congratulations to mystery author Ellen Jacobsen and sweet romance author Joselyn Vaughn!
The 5 W's in Story
Because the 5 W's are the essence of a story, student writers usually listen to a lecture about who, what, where, when and why and the H.  We're focused on story at this blog, so I thought we could learn about the 5 W's by seeing how authors use them in their books.

You'll find this series with my guests informative and entertaining and not a stuffy lecture in a dusty, old classroom with a professor palavering on and on and on. 

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Author Ellen Jacobson debuts her first cozy mystery, Murder at the Marina, during her blog tour this month. I love being a stop on her tour. Ellen is an experienced boater so it makes sense she authored a  mystery packed with humor that takes place at a marina. Read on to find out the Five W's in this engaging story. Then, be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a Murder at the Marina ebook. Deadline for entry is 9:00 pm ET, Sunday, July 15!!

The 5 W's: Ellen Jacobson's Cozy Mystery, 
Murder at the Marina

The main characters are Mollie McGhie and her husband, Scooter, who moved to a small coastal town in Florida a few months prior to the start of “Murder at the Marina.” After Scooter buys Mollie a sailboat, they spend a lot of time at the local marina where they meet all sorts of interesting and quirky characters including:

·         Ned and Nancy Schneiderthe owners of the marina; Nancy runs a tight ship, Ned is more easy-going with a soft spot for cats
·         Captain Dan—a boat broker, who uses his dubious southern charm to try to woo the ladies
·         Penny Chadwicklives aboard her boat and teaches sailing classes at the marina                            
·         Jack and Sandy Holt—had hoped to be retired by now; instead Jack runs a business from his boat while Sandy suffers from health issues
·         Ben Moretti—a wannabe pirate often found drinking beer; struggles to make ends meet
·         Alejandra Lopez—a waitress at the Sailor's Corner Cafe; saving up to open her own nail salon
·         Mrs. Moto—a Japanese bobtail cat who has the run of the marina


I've always enjoyed reading cozy mysteries. As a “gentle” read, they can be a nice escape from the real world at times. Cozies typically don't have explicit sex scenes, naughty language, violence etc. They feature likable amateur sleuths, often women, who have a certain hobby, business, or occupation which puts them at the center of the action and provides an opportunity to investigate murders.


Cozy mysteries often take place in a small town where everyone knows each other. I created the fictional tourist town of Coconut Cove on the Gulf Coast of Florida as the setting for my series, inspired in part by my own experiences living on our sailboat in the Sunshine State. I really enjoyed coming up with locations in the town that the tight-knit community could gather at.

Locals and tourists know that you can always find delicious food and a bit of gossip at the Sailor's Corner Cafe. Penelope's Sugar Shack is a great place to satisfy your sweet toothMollie is particularly fond of their brownies. Because there's a big focus on boating in Coconut Cove, Melvin's Marine Emporium does a brisk business. And, of course, Palm Tree Marina, is where all of the action, not to mention mysterious happenings, occur.


The series takes place in present day. I do think it will be fun to look back on “Murder at the Marina” at some point in the future and see how dated it will have become. Will young people chuckle at the mention of antiquated technology like cell phones and computers?


I drew upon my own experiences buying a sailboat with my husband in New Zealand, learning to sail, and living aboard our boat when developing this series. Like Mollie, sailing started off as my husband's dream. Fortunately, unlike Mollie, my husband didn't “surprise” me with a sailboat for our anniversary. After initially chartering sailboats, it was actually my idea to buy our first boat and see if this lifestyle suited me. And I guess it must have as we ended up coming back to the States and buying a bigger sailboat in Florida.

It's been a lot of fun having a sailing theme for my series and introducing readers to what life is like at a marina, the types of people one might meet through this lifestyle, and the highs and lows of boat ownership.


Writing a cozy mystery requires some level of planning. You need to figure out the suspects, their possible motives, and alibis (as well as which one of them did it); the clues and red herrings; and how the murder was committed. When I wrote “Murder at the Marina” all of this evolved over several drafts. I'm currently working on the next book in the series, “Bodies in the Boatyard,” and have taken a much more planned approach including putting together a detailed outline. As a result, the writing process is going much faster and much more smoothly.

You can read more about the process of writing “Murder at the Marina” here - https://ellenjacobsonauthor.com/2018/04/16/cozy-mystery-publishing-novel-writing/

Cozy mystery, Murder at the Marina

Back of the Book

Murder at the Marina is the first in the new lighthearted and humorous Mollie McGhie Sailing Mystery series.

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?

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JQ's Review: Ellen Jacobson knows boats AND how to tell an entertaining story.  Not only was it a mystery I couldn't solve right away, but also a tall tale filled with engaging characters including a cat! The mystery, the quirky characters, Mollie's antics in solving the crime, as well as trying to discourage her husband's zeal for boating, kept me turning the pages. If you want a fun summer read, this one is for you. I received an advance copy of this book and voluntarily reviewed it for readers. 

Buy Links

You can get a copy of Murder at the Marina at:

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About Ellen

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 her:

The Cynical Sailor Blog - http://thecynicalsailor.blogspot.com/
The Cynical Sailor Facebook Page - https://www.facebook.com/TheCynicalSailor/
Newsletter Sign-up - http://eepurl.com/dpy5sv
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Released Today! Spotlight on Joselyn Vaughn's Sweet Romance, A Penny Saved

A Penny Saved by Joselyn Vaughn
Marriage is the answer, now what was the question?
Back of the Book:
Penny Pounds has never met a challenge she couldn't plow straight through... until she starts forgetting things and misplacing items, causing her to worry that dementia is creeping into her brain. Recalling her mother's similar descent and the burden as a caregiver, Penny’s solution is to snag a husband.

Ken Hayward, visiting to evaluate the flooding around the dam in Pine Bottom, is the first man she crosses off her list of potential mates. His no-nonsense attitude and ability to see beneath her motives threatens to ruin her perfect plans. He intends to finish his work before he gets swept up in any of Penny's shenanigans.

When Penny breaks her ankle, her brother enlists a reluctant Ken as her primary caregiver. Ken soon learns the motives behind her husband hunt, and he must decide whether his heart will let him prevent her from walking down the aisle with the wrong man. 

BUY LINK for A Penny Saved

Click here for more books by Joselyn Vaughn.

Please leave a comment below to enter for a chance to win the ebook, Murder at the Marina. Don't you love learning about new releases? Leave a note of congratulations for these wonderful writers. Thank you.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

IWSG: My Writing Goals, Happy Fourth of July

IWSG Badge
IWSG Blog Hop---the first Wednesday of every Month.

Hello and welcome to the Insecure Writer's Support Group Blog Hop!

What is the Insecure Writer's Support Group?

Founded by author Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group offers support for writers and authors alike. It provides an online database, articles and tips, a monthly blog posting, a Facebook and Instagram group, Twitter, and a monthly newsletter. 

Alex explains the group's purpose is "to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!" You're invited to become a member of this supportive group.

The group blogs the first Wednesday of every month The list of bloggers is always available so you can hop around to the author blogs filled with humor, advice, and thought-provoking topics on writing and publishing. You can find the list of participants at Alex's IWSG page

July 3 question 
What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?

What a coincidence that the topic of this month's question is something I have been churning over and over in my mind. What AM I going to do now in my writing career? 

I began by writing non-fiction articles for newspapers, magazines, and e-magazines in 1996. I loved writing about people and places. Researching, visiting new places and interviewing interesting people fueled my creative yearnings to write. After 15 years of non-fiction articles, I decided to try writing fiction. Afterall, when I was in second grade, I made up some pretty good stories and it was fun.

After my latest mystery was published by BWL Publishing in December, I felt insecure about my next step. Honestly, in this world of terrorism and school shootings, do people want to read a murder mystery? How about more romance? Frankly, I was sick of the same story of  the hero and heroine overcoming conflicts to finally be together.

I have always encouraged people to write their life stories and have taught many workshops on it. Perhaps it's time for me to actually do it. I have started a memoir covering the first year we were in business. The process is enjoyable and allows me to wallow in nostalgia. I enjoyed looking at my life colored now by the 40 years between actually buying the business and the present. New perspectives on people's actions so many years ago and examinations of my responses to them are eye-opening to me. 

So, my ultimate goal is to complete the memoir for my family. I haven't determined if I want to share it publicly, although I do believe the story has an inspiring message for readers.  And some of the people in my story are not pictured in a good light. Memoirs are based on honesty, but I don't want to ruin anyone's reputation. Even if I change the names, residents in the area will still know who I am writing about. Since the persons I am writing about are deceased, they can't object or deny my version of the story. But their families can.

Writing nowadays includes marketing. I plan to continue marketing my published novels, and  I will be chasing down people for reviews. As far as more novels or non-fiction articles? At this moment, I'm not interested. However, those short story ideas are always swirling in my head. !!

How about you? Are you changing your writing goals? 
Do you have plans to celebrate the Fourth of July?
Please leave a comment below. Thank you.
Happy Fourth of July, USA!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

IWSG Blog Hop: Spring Projects and More!

Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story Blog and to the June IWSG Blog Hop! June is one of my favorite months. How about you? 
IWSG Badge
IWSG Blog Hop---the first Wednesday of every Month.

What is the Insecure Writer's Support Group?

Founded by author Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group offers support for writers and authors alike. It provides an online database, articles and tips, a monthly blog posting, a Facebook and Instagram group, Twitter, and a monthly newsletter. 

Alex explains the group's purpose is "to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!" You're invited to become a member of this supportive group.

The group blogs the first Wednesday of every month The list of bloggers is always available so you can hop around to the author blogs filled with humor, advice, and thought-provoking topics on writing and publishing. You can find the list of participants at Alex's IWSG page

Spring Projects Complete and Ready for a Break!

Let's admit it. It has been one heck of a spring in Michigan. Just look at these snowy shots of our garden and one flower bed. This was taken the day AFTER we arrived home from Florida in mid-April. Well, it's Michigan. 'Nuff said.

Our snowy garden

Flower bed

Not letting snow and cold winds deter my gardening hubby from gardening, 
he put up the greenhouse to house his precious baby plants.

Veggie plants protected by the greenhouse. He starts a LOT of plants in Florida.
The glory of gardening

While he waited for the sun to shine and the soil to warm, he gutted our bathroom.
New tub, new floor, cabinets removed. This was a huge job!

And he turned it into a lovely, 21st-century bathroom. 
I chose gray paint which is "in-style" nowadays and white vanity.

Needless to say, it has been an extremely busy spring for us. 
So, we have decided to take a break in June. 
That doesn't mean I'll take a break from writing, just from writing this blog. 
I can never stop the story ideas and plans for new books swirling in my head
Who knows what our next project might be? The possibilities are endless.

Congratulations to the winners of the prizes in my Birthday Grab Bag! 
Helen, Holly, Kris, Joselyn, and Linda.
Actually, you are ALL winners and I'm a winner too with the opportunity to meet you and entertain you through the Focused on Story blog and books.
Thank you!

The 5 W's guest author series will resume in July. 
On July 11, Ellen Jacobson, the Cynical Sailor, will share the 5 W's of her newly released, humorous mystery, Murder at the Marina.

Murder at the Marina (A Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mystery Book 1) by [Jacobson, Ellen]
Click here to pre-order.

Chris Fey's newly released guide, 
Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication 
is now available. Packed with information for writers. 

Write With Fey - Chrys Fey
Click here to orderl

YOU have a glorious June 2018! 
I'll see you on the July 4 IWSG Blog Hop.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Five W's: Helena Fairfax and Miss Moonshine's Emporium of Happy Endings, Giveaway

Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story Blog! Today we have British author Helena Fairfax as our guest to explain the Five W's in the new anthology, Miss  Moonshine's Emporium of Happy Endings. This anthology, filled with feel-good stories, is a collaboration of nine talented romance authors who live in the same region in England.
The Five W's Guest Author Series
I'm thrilled to find out the story behind this release and to let you know the authors are generously offering a paperback copy of the book to a lucky commenter.  Deadline for entry is Sunday, June 3, at 9 pm ET.

I am presently in the middle of the anthology and in awe of how unique each story is even when every one of them includes the quirky shop-keeper, Miss Moonshine. The settings of the story are the same, Haven Bridge, but the eras are different, yet each author takes care to keep Miss Moonshine the same, no matter what age. The stories are imaginative and entertaining. You may want to click the Amazon Buy Link now, instead of waiting to see if you win the FREE paperback.

Miss Moonshine’s Emporium of Happy Endings, by the Authors on the Edge
Anthology of romantic stories.

by Helena Fairfax
 Thank you, JQ, for inviting me to take part in your series!
My latest story, Beatrice Marches for Women, is part of an anthology of stories written by eight other authors and myself – all friends from the north of England, and all romance writers. Normally when we are writing our novels or short stories, we work on the 5Ws completely alone, but being part of an anthology means collaborating on ideas in a different way. Putting this collection together with a thoroughly professional bunch of writers and a lovely group of friends has been a real pleasure from start to finish, and a break from our solitary writing pursuits.
So in backwards order, HOW did we come up with the idea to put together an anthology?
As I mentioned, we all of us live in the north of England. We meet regularly for lunch in Hebden Bridge, which is a historic mill town on the border between the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire. One day over lunch we got talking (we talk a LOT!) and we realised we all wrote different styles of romance. Then we got to thinking how much fun it would be to put a collection of our stories together. Since we meet on the border between two counties, we decided to call ourselves Authors on the Edge.
WHY put together an anthology?
Once you start writing professionally, sometimes the zest can go out of your writing. Maybe you have to meet a deadline, and so you’re burning the midnight oil at your keyboard. Maybe you are sending manuscripts off to magazines or agents, and you have to keep fielding rejection. Maybe you are on the fourth round of edits from your publisher, and you are sick of the sight of your own story. We thought putting an anthology together would be something we could do at our own pace, would allow us to be as creative as we wanted...and would above all be fun!
WHERE would the stories in the anthology be set?
That one is easy to answer. Hebden Bridge has always been our meeting place. It’s a beautiful and unusual old mill town, in a valley with rolling green hills around it, and full of historic old terraced houses, quirky shops, a canal lined with narroboats, and cafes. Haven Bridge became our fictionalised Hebden Bridge.
Now, this question posed a bit of a dilemma. Some of us write contemporary romance, some of us historical, and some of us flit between the two. After much conversation, we decided we should each choose the period that felt right for our own story, as long as the stories and characters were linked consistently through the anthology.
WHAT was I going to write about for my story?
For the past year, I’ve been researching into the lives of women in Halifax, which is another old mill town near Hebden Bridge, but much bigger. Researching the lives of the mill women has been an eye-opener. I decided to set my story in 1908, at the time of a real suffragette march in Hebden Bridge. My heroine is a young woman who wants to change her own life, but feels stifled by the time she’s living in. Then she meets....
Miss Moonshine is the “Who?” of our collection. Dear Miss M has been the key to our anthology’s success so far, and she is the character who ties all of our stories together. Miss Moonshine owns a quirky shop on the High Street in Hebden Bridge. She’s an eccentric and she appears to have been in the town forever. In each of our stories, the heroine enters Miss Moonshine’s shop and finds the thing she most needs in life – even though sometimes she doesn’t realise there is anything missing.
Readers have really taken to our Miss Moonshine as she appears in each of our stories, and between the nine of us authors, we have started to think of her ourselves as a real character – someone whose shop we would love to walk into on the High Street in Hebden Bridge!
Miss Moonshine’s Emporium of Happy Endings by the Authors on the Edge
Miss Moonshine’s Emporium of Happy Endings by the Authors on the Edge is available in print and as an ebook on Amazon.

Back of the Book:
Sometimes what you need is right there waiting for you...
Miss Moonshine’s Wonderful Emporium has stood in the pretty Yorkshire town of Haven Bridge for as long as anyone can remember. With her ever-changing stock, Miss Moonshine has a rare gift for providing exactly what her customers need: a fire opal necklace that provides a glimpse of a different life; a novel whose phantom doodler casts a spell over the reader; a music box whose song links love affairs across the generations. One thing is for certain: after visiting Miss Moonshine’s quirky shop, life is never the same again...
Nine romantic novelists from Yorkshire and Lancashire, including best-selling and award-winning authors, have joined together to create this collection of uplifting stories guaranteed to warm your heart. This intriguing mix of historical and contemporary romances will make you laugh, cry, and believe in the happy-ever-after.
Authors on the Edge members are Mary Jayne Baker, Sophie Claire, Jacqui Cooper, Helena Fairfax, Kate Field, Melinda Hammond, Marie Laval, Helen Pollard, and Angela Wren.
Much cake was consumed by these authors in the making of this anthology.
About Helena:
Helena Fairfax is a British author who was born in Uganda and came to England as a child. She's grown used to the cold now which is just as well, since these days she lives in an old Victorian mill town in the north of England, right next door to the windswept Yorkshire moors. Helena walks this romantic landscape every day with her rescue dog, finding it the perfect place to dream up her heroes and her happy endings. Subscribers to Helena's newsletter receive news of free stuff, competitions with prizes, gossip, and links to cool websites she's been looking at when she should have been writing.
Connect online with Helena:
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/cR_m71 (all new subscribers receive a free novella)
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/helenafairfax/
Remember to leave a comment to win a digital file of  Miss Moonshine's Emporium of Happy Endings. 

AND my birthday celebration continues through May 31. Prizes will be selected from the Birthday Grab Bag for lucky commenters. Find out more below. Thank you for stopping in!
Here's the Birthday Grab Bag loaded with gifts for you.

📘COUPONS for mystery suspense eBook, Terror on Sunshine Boulevard
📙PAPERBACK COPY of Romantic suspense, Dangerous Sanctuary
📗FOR WRITERS--PDF COPY of Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing: 
Helpful Tips on the Writing Process, Publishing and Marketing
📚PDF COPY-Quick Tips on Vegetable Gardening


3 WAYS TO ENTER to win one of these prizes: 

1. Leave your name below in the comments box
2. Like my Facebook page and FB message me or leave a comment
Click here for my FB J.Q. Rose author page.
3. Email me--jqrose02 at gmail dot com  

On June 1,  I'll grab a gift to send the winners via FB Messenger or email. 
Print books will be sent via snail mail US only.