Category Archives: General

5 Benefits of Reading a Great Book

One of my Book Journals

One of my Book Journals

Just now I’m getting back into reading wonderful fiction. Last week I finally read The Red Tent by Anita Diamant and currently Paris by Edward Rutherfurd is occupying my evenings.

I know, I know. I’m an author and should be reading all the time.  Well, I am. It’s just that much of what I read is books about writing and research books for my novels.

The irony is huge, isn’t it? Before I started turning out novels, I read voraciously. No matter how many essays I marked or lessons I prepared, I always read fiction at night for at least thirty minutes before turning out the light. And now, as often as not, at night I play with my iPad for about ten minutes and then sleep.

So when do I read fiction?

Well, sometimes I don’t. And that saddens me. I’ve even stopped writing comments about all the books I read in my book journal.

This summer I decided to change all that. The tall stack by on my night table just got so large I had to do something about it. And, guess what! I have a new habit. In the afternoon after my computer has lost its appeal and my eyes start to flutter, I find my book and the couch and I read. The world opens up just for me.

5 Benefits of Reading a Great Book

  1. I learn about something or somewhere I never knew before. Rutherfurd’s books on Ireland were wonderful and made my trip there so much richer. I’ll never forget leaning over the case in Trinity College library which held the actual Book of Kells, illuminated by monks in ancient times.
  2. Whatever is happening in my life takes a back seat to the riveting story I find in the pages. A wonderful release that is, especially when kids are hollering or televisions blaring. I just go off by myself and escape into another world.
  3. Reading good books makes for great conversation when socializing. And, of course, now that I’m speaking to so many groups about my own books, the titles of favourite books often come up. Being able to discuss a book I’ve loved with others does two things: it shows me others who like what I like, and it often teaches me something new about a book I’ve read.
  4. As a writer I am always watching to see how another author has worked his/her behind-the-scenes magic to create literature. And this is a learning thing for me, often showing me how I might solve one of my own writing problems. Oh, I don’t mean I plagiarize, but the techniques are there to be learned.
  5. I love to see words or phrases an author has used in an unusual way. These add texture to the story every bit as much as the plot, characters, and setting. Of course the trick is to use my own creativity and do something unique in my own writing without having those phrases interrupt my storytelling.

Now that I’ve reminded you of the glories of reading, I must go and pick up Paris again.


For All Lovers of Historical Fiction

Available Now: The Loyalist’s Wife, the first book in The Loyalist Trilogy

by Elaine Cougler, winner of the WCDR 2014 Pay It Forward Scholarship

The Loyalist's Wife_Kindle_1563x2500

Purchase The Loyalist’s Wife on Amazon here.


Posted by on July 30, 2014 in General


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How To Publish and Keep Control

IMG_2433_editedSo you write a book, and it takes you a year, and you think the next step is handing it to a publisher. That’s what I thought seven years ago. And then came revision, character arcs, economy of words, and a host of other writing no-no’s and must-do’s.

For five of my six years to publication, traditional publishing was absolutely the way I wanted to go. The marvellous books I’d read were published by the big houses, and I longed to follow that tradition.

Throughout all the conferences, workshops, online searches, critique groups (even one I started myself), and connections with writers, I dreamed of finding a publisher. I pitched, queried, rewrote and rewrote and rewrote. Somewhere along the way, however, I learned something else. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on June 11, 2014 in General, Writing Tips


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A Writer’s Day

Sentinel article pictureHave you ever stamped your feet and pulled at your untidy locks, so frustrated that you can’t get your writing done? Well, many of us have, maybe not in quite so graphic a manner but in some way.

And we’ve been through a lot of versions of a writer’s perfect day, too. We’ve tried out a lot of routines and roadways, all with one goal: to get that book or short story or blog post or whatever completed along with all the other things writers need to do.

Here is my day from yesterday. It was one of my better ones. Perhaps it will help you decide what your perfect writing day is.

7:00-9:00 a.m.  Rose, ate breakfast at computer checking email and playing a little FreeCell. Showered, dressed, put on makeup so I was ready for the world. (It’s my work day!)

9:00-9:30 a.m. Erased crap emails and those which require nothing further.

9:30-11:30 a.m.Sat at computer making revisions to my work in progress. This is where I look up things like whether ‘nail’ was used in 1790 or how men dressed their hair at that time. I also rewrite bits I’ve noted in the fifty pages I’ve marked up in preparation for this computer session.

11:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m  Made and ate lunch while watching some mind-numbing TV which gave me a rest from my WIP.

12:00-2:00 p.m. More revisions as above. (I stopped when I had three pages left in a chapter because my shoulders had had enough!)

2:00-2:30 p.m.Set up my laptop and projector to test my PowerPoint presentation for the night’s speaking gig. Packed up everything I would need: computer, video projector, extension cord, books to sell, bookmarks, signs, sign-up sheets for my quarterly newsletter, and sheets of lovely quotes from readers.

2:30-3:00 p.m. Washed large window and blinds in my office, a great way to relax those computer-aching muscles and get some housecleaning done!

3:00-4:00 p.m. Read a few pages out of The Writer Magazine. Got dressed for the evening gig. Added sparkly bits but declined the heels as it was to be a small room. (I opted for comfort.)

4:00-4:40 p.m. Relaxed while waiting for my driver, a friend who had arranged this event.

4:40-6:00 p.m. Rode to near Hamilton the scenic way through small villages, winding roads, and greening fields. Followed the Grand River and saw where it had overflowed in the last few days.

6:00-7:00 p.m. Had a light supper at an amazing little bistro next to our venue.

7:00-7:30 p.m. Set up my equipment and got myself a glass of water. Lots of people to meet and chat with as I worked with my friend’s wonderful help.

7:30-8:30 p.m. Show time! Lovely introduction, great audience, good comments and questions. This was one of those appreciative groups who really were interested in my talk. Yay!

8:30-9:00 p.m. Sold books, talked to audience members, had them fill out slips for my newsletter, packed up, and said our good-byes.

9:00-10:00 p.m. We took the short way home, chatting all the way. There’s nothing better than being with a good friend whose brain functions on superior levels. She is a treasure.

10:00 p.m. Bed-time! Trying to turn off my mind and get some sleep.

Coming May 14, 2014!

The Loyalist’s Luck Cover Reveal

book two in The Loyalist Trilogy, coming in September, 2014

Purchase The Loyalist’s Wife on Amazon here.

The Loyalist's Wife_Kindle_1563x2500

Purchase The Loyalist’s Wife for your Kobo here


Posted by on April 30, 2014 in Authors, General, Marketing Books


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