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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 »

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

 

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A Lick and a Promise: The Loyalist’s Luck New Cover

The Loyalist’s Luck_cover_apr1.indd

Today’s post is a promise of things to come for those who love a great historical novel. Following on the tail of last year’s The Loyalist’s Wife,

The Loyalist’s Luck

is scheduled for release this fall.

John and Lucy escape the Revolutionary War to the unsettled British territory across the Niagara River with almost nothing. In the untamed wilderness they must fight to survive, he, off on a secret mission for Colonel Butler and she, left behind with their young son and pregnant once again. In the camp full of distrust, hunger, and poverty, word has seeped out that John has gone over to the American side and only two people will associate with Lucy–her friend, Nellie, who delights in telling her all the current gossip, and Sergeant Crawford, who refuses to set the record straight and clear John’s name. To make matters worse, the sergeant has made improper advances toward Lucy. With John’s reputation besmirched, she must walk a thin line depending as she does on the British army, and Sergeant Crawford, for her family’s very survival.

Watch for upcoming news on this and other writing events. And if you haven’t  yet purchased the first in the Loyalist trilogy, here’s the link. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

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

When American colonists resort to war against Britain and her colonial attitudes, a young couple caught in the crossfire must find a way to survive. Pioneers in the wilds of New York State, John and Lucy face a bitter separation and the fear of losing everything, even their lives, when he joins Butler’s Rangers to fight for the King and leaves her to care for their isolated farm. As the war in the Americas ramps up, ruffians roam the colonies looking to snap up Loyalist land. Alone, pregnant, and fearing John is dead, Lucy must fight with every weapon she has.

With vivid scenes of desperation, heroism, and personal angst, Elaine Cougler takes us back to the beginnings of one great country and the planting of Loyalist seeds for another. The Loyalist’s Wife transcends the fighting between nations to show us the individual cost of such battles.

Purchase The Loyalist’s Wife on Amazon here.

 

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How Can You Justify Spending Money on a Writing Conference?

Last Friday I braved the drive to Ajax along the busy 401 past Toronto to attend the Ontario Writers’ Conference.

Should I go or should I give pass it by? I wondered. Especially since last year I paid my money but spent the weekend in the hospital. Nevertheless I signed up. I wondered about the wisdom of my decision the whole three hours and twenty-five minutes that it took me to drive the normally hour and a half route. Grrr. But I went and I met my friend, Sally, and we carried on.  Here are some of the things I learned in the full sessions and workshops I chose:

  1. Character, plot, setting. You can’t have one without the others. Of course we knew that but being reminded of the intricacies of each is always good.
  2. Authenticity. People want to know that the author knows what she is talking about.
  3. Whether to wiki or not depends on how crucial to the story the detail is. If it’s really important, go further than Wikipedia.
  4. Regarding research, you need to know ten times more about your subject than you actually use in fiction.
  5. Put setting details sparingly throughout the novel and not all at once.
  6. Pace revelation of detail throughout the book and only as needed to drive the plot or character development.
  7. Writing a good pitch before you start writing helps the writer consolidate just what the book is about. It’s also useful for that elevator pitch.
  8. Make sure the stakes are crucial. Why would anyone care about what is happening to your characters?
  9. For writers to write about what hurts allows readers into the story in an engaging way which captivates them.
  10. When you decide to write you are joining the human condition.

Of course meeting other attendees and reconnecting with those I’ve met before is always a terrific experience and luckily a lot of that happened. I connected with Terry Fallis who gave me great cover quote for The Loyalist’s Wife last year. He was the final speaker and once again connected on a professional level and on a more personal level with everyone there. The lunch speaker was Wayson Choy whom I had never met before. That afternoon I came upon him by himself in the anteroom and had a chance to express my appreciation for his knowledgeable and empathetic remarks to the crowd. Both of these writers have not let their great successes ruin them. They are most generous to those of us who haven’t scaled the heights yet.

While the conference did cost me quite a lot for its length I found it absolutely worthwhile. And the fact that every time we sat down again in the large hall my name was up on the screens overhead as one of the authors who published a book in the last year, well, that just was the icing on the cake. Oh. And a number of people knew my name when I introduced myself. That was fabulous. All in all the Ontario Writers Conference 2014 was a great break from editing and revision and gives me new energy to forge ahead on The Loyalist’s Luck.

 

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

 
 

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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

 
8 Comments

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

 

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Read, Read, and Read some More: The Best Advice

photo by Elaine Cougler

My Bookshelf of Treasures

What is the one piece of advice we hear over and over? The one that annoys quite a few people out there in the real world?

No, it’s not “get eight hours sleep every night” or “eat healthy all your life” although variations of those suggestions fill bookstores. Our friends, relatives, and especially our parents iterate those maxims again and again.

The advice I’ve been given all my life is simple. When you want to learn, read. When you want to relax, read. When you want to write, read.

Yes, I slipped that last one in because I’ve seen it time and again. And it’s true. There is a magical process that happens in our brains when we read. We take in the story, the language, the length and variety of sentences, the way to effectively draw characters, and any number of other writing lessons which we just seem to learn. Like sponges we soak up such a wealth of knowledge both in the how-to sphere and in the enjoyment realm, that when we write our own works, those lessons make themselves known.

I’ve written all my life. And I’ve read even longer. Well, only if you believe I took in the lessons of my mother’s reading in the womb. :-)

All the lessons I taught my English students, and there were a lot, are not nearly so effective as the simple practice of reading, especially good writers. When I sit down to write every day, my own style comes pouring onto the pages, whether I’m writing a blog post, an email to my distant friends, or my daily pages of my historical novels.

Where did that style come from? Well, some of it came from me being a talker. Another portion finds its roots in what I’ve learned on my writing journey. But the bulk of it comes from the reading I’ve done my whole life, whether it be lessons from great writers on how to write well or from not-so-great writers on what not to do.

I’ve laughed and cried, shaken my head and even stopped reading, but I’ve always learned from my reading. My shelves of books are treasured friends and I hope I live long enough to reread them over and over. Would that some of my readers might one day feel the same about my books.

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

 
5 Comments

Posted by on April 16, 2014 in Authors, Readers

 

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How To Titillate Your Readers While Marketing Your Book

Sentinel article picture

Photo by Heather Rivers, Woodstock Sentinel-Review

We’ve all had times when we’ve wanted to slam the door in the sales person’s face, especially if our memory stretches back to those ‘good old days’ when traveling salesmen knocked on many a door and we were torn between being polite and ending the sales pitch. We may even have been a little curious even though we knew we weren’t buying.

For let’s face it. Those people had interesting and even exciting wares to offer us. And if we didn’t allow the sales pitch to continue we might miss out.

Writers have a quandary. We want to tell people about our work but we abhor selling. One of the things we can do is get others to present our work and there are many ways to do this.

Newspaper Article

A week ago I went on the Internet, found the editor of the local paper, sent him an email with informative attachments asking if one of his reporters would like to interview me. By Friday, an efficient reporter sat opposite me in my living room and asked pertinent questions. She did a good job of keeping me on track and of searching my words for what we would call good sound bites if video were involved. Afterwards I gave some thought to how the article would shape up and just what I should have, could have said. You know how that goes.

I needn’t have worried. The article was fair and honest and, aside from its announcing to the world how old I am, pleased me. Heather Rivers portrayed me and my journey in her own words without misshaping my personal or writing story. You can see for yourself here. Second Career in Historical Fiction for Former Teacher Elaine Cougler.

As for titillating, when I’m giving my ‘elevator pitch’ about The Loyalist’s Wife, I always mention John leaving Lucy behind in the wilds of New York state in the midst of the American Revolution, expecting her to keep up and hold on to their remote farm. This gets my prospective readers’ attention whether they be men or women. The men often look just a little shamed and the women vary from excited to annoyed with John. I then go on to explain that I wanted to show what happens to the ordinary people like us when those in power make decisions such as going to war.

In very few words I’ve given my prospective readers something that interests them and often it is enough to sell the book. You see, I’ve struck a nerve and even though the historical fiction audience is primarily women, many men buy a book when I explain the novel’s dual point of view–John’s and Lucy’s. My neighbor came running after me on my early morning walk to tell me how much he enjoyed the book even though he freely admitted he had bought it mainly to support me, his friend.

So, readers, look for something that starts your engine running when you choose a book. Something that titillates. And writers, give it to them!

Purchase The Loyalist’s Wife on Amazon here.

The Loyalist's Wife_Kindle_1563x2500

Purchase The Loyalist’s Wife for your Kobo here

 

 
6 Comments

Posted by on April 9, 2014 in Marketing Books, Readers

 

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