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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

 
4 Comments

Posted by on April 16, 2014 in Authors, Readers

 

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7 Ways to Brighten a Writer’s Day

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A Big Job Well Done!

Today I feel like the spider who has finally completed this huge undertaking. You know what I mean.

We all have those large tasks which seem to take forever and which gnaw at our innards until we finish them. Writing a book is such a task. Oh, sure, it’s a rewarding job overall, especially when it’s finally published, but many days the hill seems just too high.

Last week I neared the summit of another book project, or at least one of several hills. And I felt like the industrious spider at left who toiled and spun until this fabulous web was done. What was my milestone?

I finished the rough draft of The Loyalist’s Luck!

Just like the spider and her web, though, I still have lots of holes to fill before the final draft gets sent. So I got to thinking about other ways to brighten a writer’s day because finishing a draft takes months and months and we need more high points along the way.

7 Ways to Brighten a Writer’s Day

  1. Finish a chapter on your work in progress.
  2. Find an amazing bit of research.
  3. Write a wonderful sentence.
  4. Read another great comment about your first book.
  5. Check your book sales and find they’ve doubled from last month.
  6. Speak at an event and sell lots of books.
  7. Finish writing your first draft of a new project. (This is so rewarding it bears repeating.)

Coming Soon!  Book Two in the Loyalist series:  The Loyalist’s Luck

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 the cover reveal for The Loyalist’s Luck, coming very soon! And if you haven’t read the first in the series, here are links where you may purchase it.

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 March 26, 2014 in Authors, Writing Tips

 

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Three Things I’m Grateful For Today

In spite of the fact that I’ve had the worst cold ever since returning from our winter break time in Hilton Head, yesterday gave me lots to smile about. I should have been posting my blog post. I wasn’t. Instead my husband and I got in the car at about 11:00 a.m. and headed for Niagara Falls.

I was at a point in the rough draft of The Loyalist’s Luck (coming this fall!) where I just needed to see the battlefield for the Battle of Lundy’s Lane, a huge battle in the War of 1812-14. The sun was shining, I had already written three pages and my partner was willing, so off we went.

Three Things I’m Grateful for Today? They all have to do with yesterday:

1. The lovely, finally warming sunshine which shone on us almost the whole time. (We did drive through a rain storm on the way home–quickly over.) I got Ron to stop the car so I could get this shot about three miles from home. Our day was ending and the sun was setting.

Yesterday's Winter Sunset

Yesterday’s Winter Sunset

I was going to take out the snow piled by the side of the highway but then I thought some people might never see this. Left it in for them. :-)

2. We walked a tour of the Battle of Lundy’s Lane in Niagara Falls under sunny skies but over fast-melting snow-covered sidewalks. Both of us ended with damp feet! And we’ll have to go back to Drummond Hill Cemetery because the snow kept us from studying the names of the soldiers buried there, right where the battle took place. I had just been studying the maneuvers that morning so standing at the top of the hill and looking over the battlefield brought it all to life for me. And in a few minutes I’m going to write that part in The Loyalist’s Luck.

Imagine a foot of snow on the ground and you'll see what we saw.

Imagine a foot of snow on the ground and you’ll see what we saw.

3. As if getting my pages written in the morning and taking this tour in the afternoon wasn’t enough of a thrill, that night my husband found a surprise for me in our alma mater’s alumni magazine which had come in the mail that day. Listed on p. 36 under New Releases From Western Alumni was my novel, The Loyalist’s Wife, among books by seventeen other Western grads. And, of course, with Alice Munro winning the Nobel Prize for Literature and having attended Western as well, we Western people are just a little proud. Imagine being in the same issue as the article about Munro’s Nobel!

I Made It Into My Alumni Magazine!

The moral of the story, so to speak today is that celebratory days come and when they do–

CELEBRATE!

 
5 Comments

Posted by on February 20, 2014 in Historical Fiction, History, Just For Fun

 

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