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Writing Wisdom from Marta Merajver

Come visit my stellar writing friend, Marta Merajver, on her site today. You’ll find me there, too!

 

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Purchase The Loyalist’s Wife on Amazon here.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2014 in Authors, Writing Tips

 

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The Woman Behind the Words–Marta Merajver

Marta Merajver has several books to her credit.

Marta Merajver has several books to her credit.

Have you ever met someone online that you wish lived just around the corner so you could sip tea and soak in her wisdom whenever the whim whispered? Marta Merajver is that woman. We have never met and live continents away but have gravitated toward each other over the Internet in various ways. Today she has answered some of my questions wherein I’ve tried to dig deeper and find out what is behind this gracious and brilliant person. Welcome, Marta, to my blog!

  1. I see a bit of your life’s ink spreading over into your novel, Marta, with your own novelist mother not encouraging you to read and your character in Just Toss the Ashes trying to connect with his mother after her suicide. Why do you think it was your father who encouraged your affair with books and not your mother?

It’s not that my mother didn’t encourage me to read but that she felt certain books were beyond my comprehension and might disturb me at the time. My father was more permissive, not only regarding books. Still, the one who encouraged me to write was my mother, and I refused to do so precisely because she wanted me to. Relationships between mothers and daughters can be very difficult, and ours cost me years on the couch. Lucas, the son in Just Toss the Ashes, was trying to make sense of his mother after her death, while I came to terms with mine while she was very much alive. There are no points of coincidence between the mothers in my fiction and my mother, although I must admit she would make an extremely interesting character :)

2. To what extent do you draw on your own relationship with your mother in Just Toss the Ashes? Do authors use their background whether they want to or not?

As I said before, my mother did not come into the picture. I did draw on core conflicts, though; the ones Freud so well depicts in his writings about women’s complicated Oedipal stage. It is true that many women prefer to ignore their struggles in this field, without realizing that hidden wounds fester and expand into other areas of their lives.

In my opinion, an author cannot “take off” her background as if it were a garment when she sits down to write. We do not necessarily talk about it, yet it seeps through, often unrecognized by readers and critics. Taken to an extreme, sometimes the author herself is unaware of how her background, carefully omitted from the enunciated (her actual writing) becomes apparent in the enunciation (what is understood by the receiver.)

3. Which type of writing do you enjoy the most, non-fiction or fiction?

Fiction, definitely. The possibility to create or, in my case, recreate the world –for my fiction is realistic– is irresistible. I confine my characters to a space and time within whose boundaries they are free to do as they please. They quickly take their lives in their hands, leading me forward rather than the other way around. Things reach their momentum in my head. When I begin writing, it has all been said and done. The novel brews, leaving its traces on handwritten notes, character files, isolated chunks of dialogue. This may take a long time, but then the writing flows easily.

4.  Does your publisher suggest books to you that you might write? How does that work?

All my non-fiction has been commissioned rather than suggested by my publisher. He knows me well, so he never asks for what lies beyond my fields of expertise. I find this kind of writing rewarding in that it helps people understand themselves and others a little better, but I certainly don’t get “creative” except in the manner of broaching the problems.

5. Having been a translator and a lover of languages did you do your own translation of Gracias Por La Muerte (Just Toss the Ashes)?

What an interesting question, Elaine! In fact, I didn’t translate Just Toss the Ashes; I think I wouldn’t have been able to keep the right distance from the original version. Odd as it may seem, I would probably have taken undue liberties with the text, because it was mine. The job was done by an excellent translator whom I’d love to count on for future translations. However, it is also true that I might translate one of my own books if a long time passed before translation were required, the reason being that after years of having written something, some kind of alienation takes place. It is as though these old works had been written by someone else, which makes sense insofar I and my circumstances have changed.

6. I’ve often wondered if fiction illuminates the human condition much more vividly than non-fiction. For example, showing a theme of the best way to live, say in a novel, can touch depths a simple list of things to do to achieve our best life cannot. What are your thoughts on this?

Non-fiction may be perceived as intrusive in that respect. It probably works for readers who need to depend on others they deem wiser; people who feel reassured by a “what-to-do” list. My self-help books break with this idea, for I warn readers that I don’t know them, that they know themselves better than anyone else does, and that my aim is to provide them with clues to make such knowledge conscious so that they can make decisions that work for them. On the other hand, some fiction mirrors the human condition so vividly that it is next to impossible to ignore the lessons it contains. One can learn much more about moral suffering from Dostoevsky than from an ad hoc treatise. In a very modest way, since Just Toss the Ashes has often been mentioned in this interview, this particular novel seems to have helped many people who lost a loved one to suicide. It wasn’t my intention to write a healing book, but you cannot control the effects of your book once it starts circulating. This is the most wonderful feature of fiction: it has as many meanings as it has readers, regardless of what the author set out to do.

Finally, I’d like to thank you for showcasing me in your blog. You are one of my favorite writers, and I feel honored to be here with you.

http://www.amazon.com/Marta-Merajver-Kurlat/e/B009TC8C5A

http://www.martamerajver.com.ar/marta/

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2013 in Authors

 

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Dogs, People and Guests

Once again the lovely, the intrepid, the unique Jessica Aspen is guest posting on my blog. She has written several books and does an amazing job of getting them out for the world to see. Because she writes in paranormal, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but even an historical fiction devotee like me loved her books. They are shorter than HF but very satisfying. Check out the links below for more about this hard working writer.

As happy as I am to have Jessica here, I was a little worried when I read her title. Oh, no! Was this going to be about cleaning house? Rest easy, it’s not. And those of you who love pets will appreciate her lead-in. Enough talking from me.

Here’s Jessica!

Picking Up After Ourselves

10-22-2013 7-18-45 PM_editedI walk my dog nearly every day. Right now my usual walking trail has been flooded out, and so has the sign that says: “Please pick up after your dog.”

The post is held up only by a bundle of roots. The trash can and all the bags are gone, but the sentiment remains. We are expected to clean up after ourselves and our pooches even if the trail is gone. Even if there is no place to deposit the results. Even if we don’t want to clean up the mess.

Dogs don’t care what they do or where they do it. Okay, they have their own doggie rules and requirements but they do not coincide with our ideas of where it’s appropriate to do your business. So we pick up after them. It’s part of dog ownership. It’s part of dog life. We’d prefer they were like cats and use the litter box (or better yet, the potty) but they don’t. So we carry our little plastic bags and pick up after them so that the trails and parks do not become a health hazard.

It’s polite, and it’s the law, even if sometimes it’s inconvenient and we do it all as a matter of course. No stress, no whining, no yelling.

But what happens when I make a mistake?IMG_6120-1

Do I matter of factly clean it up with little to no emotion?

No! If I make a mistake there can be big time stress. Lots of whining. And hopefully no yelling.

I wail and whine and worry. I look at the horror of my mistake and wonder: What will people think? Will anyone notice? How can I hide it?

Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s how we deal with those mistakes that defines who we are. Okay, that sounds pretentious. (And it’s likely a quote from someone famous; remind me to look it up sometime.) But in every cliché there is a silver lining of truth. In real life we all make mistakes and if we get upset and don’t deal with them that can become a handicap.

Luckily, as a writer, I’ve learned that almost everything can be fixed. I have a handy tool in my computer. I can cut, paste, copy and erase. I can find a back-up file and reload the lost document. It’s all good. I can pick up after myself by picking myself up and starting over.

And sometimes, that’s exactly what it takes… starting over.

Sometimes the only fix is to pull on the big boots and get to shoveling. Clean it all out. And lay down a fresh foundation. So pull out your baggies and clean up after yourselves. No mistakes are bad, they all teach us something and they are almost all fixable in some way.

How do you deal with mistakes in your life? Does it depend on the size of it? Big mistakes don’t go away any sooner than little mistakes, sometimes they simply need more shoveling. How big is your shovel?

10-22-2013 7-28-38 PM_editedBio:

Jessica Aspen has always wanted to be spirited away to a world inhabited by elves, were-wolves and sexy men who walk on the dark side of the knife. Luckily, she’s able to explore her fantasy side and delve into new worlds by writing paranormal romance. She loves indulging in dark chocolate, reading eclectic novels, and dreaming of ocean vacations, but instead spends most of her time, writing, walking the dog, and hiking in the Colorado Rockies.

 

Author web links: (web, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads, etc)

 

Website: http://jessicaaspen.com

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5759763.Jessica_Aspen

https://twitter.com/JessicaAspen

https://www.facebook.com/JessicaAspenAuthor

http://pinterest.com/jessicaaspen/

Jessica Aspen’s non-spammy, new release email please go to: http://eepurl.com/zs4Sj

An evil queen, a dangerous man, and a witch, tangled together in a tale of Snow White…

 

Desperate to save the last of her family from the murderous Faery Queen, Trina Mac Elvy weaves a spell of entrapment. But instead of a common soldier, the queen has released the Dark Huntsman, a full blooded fae with lethal powers.

Caged for treason, Logan Ni Brennan, is ready to do anything to win free of the manipulative queen, even if it includes running a last errand for her…murdering a witch. The sight of Trina, ready to fight despite the odds, gives him another option: use the witch as a chess piece, put the queen’s son on the throne, and bring down the queen forever.

As the queen slides into insanity and her closest advisor makes plans to succeed to the throne, Logan secrets Trina away in the enchanted forest and makes a decisive move in his dangerous game of manipulation. But the gaming tables of fate turn on him, and when Trina’s life is threatened he discovers he risks more than his freedom…he risks his heart.

Dare to enter Jessica Aspen’s world of steamy, fantasy romance in her new twisted fairy tale trilogy: Tales of the Black Court…

 

Available now on Amazon.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2013 in Authors, General, Writing Tips

 

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Christmas in July For Writers

Last Christmas I was wandering through a lovely bookstore in Victoria, B.C. and I turned a corner to see the long wall of magazines. Of course I always look to see what is there for writers which usually entails pushing aside dozens of knitting, mechanics, numismatics publications to find maybe one or two writing selections.

What did I find? What I always find in Victoria, a city which embraces creativity like a cat does a ball of yarn. So many mags of the writing persuasion called to me that I actually had to browse to see which ones I would buy as I couldn’t possibly take them all. I decided on the Writer’s Yearbook 2013, a special issue of Writer’s Digest.

And then that yearbook sat in a pile until a month ago. (Do other writers have so much reading they just can’t get to it all?)

I am so glad I finally picked up this issue as it is fantastic. Here are the cover headlines:

  1. 100 Best Book & Magazine Markets for Writers, Want to get Published? Start Here!
  2. How to Get an Agent: Insider Tips for Writing Query Letters That Work
  3. The Top 101 Websites for Writers
  4. The Year in Publishing: Is the Industry Finally on the Rebound?
  5. Blog Your Way to a Book Deal
  6. Freelancing Secrets: How to Sell More Articles
  7. 50 Easy Ways to Build Your Platform One Step at a Time
  8. Book Contracts: What You Need to Know

No wonder the tag at the top calls this issue “Your Annual Handbook for Writing Success.” There is so much information that I had to limit myself. Can you guess which articles got my attention?

At the time I was working pretty hard on query letters so that headline grabbed me right away. And I love to look for other writers and writer-friendly websites so number 3 was a sure thing.

But the one which surprised me and which held my attention the longest was number 7. I loved reading about author platform on the web. Christina Katz had about nine categories under which she gave instructions which were clear, concise and useful. Even though I’ve been on the web for years there were still many things for me to learn. Some of the things that I feel I need to work on are: my Amazon.com page, recycling content, holding an online event, putting my best blog content forward, and shaking things up a bit in my online presence.

This magazine is still listed for sale for just over $5 on their site which I’ve linked here. Treat yourself to a summer Christmas gift. You’ll be glad you did.

The Loyalist's Wife_cover_Mar18.indd

The Loyalist’s Wife by Elaine Cougler

Amazon.ca

Amazon.com

Kobo

Authors: Your free copy of 10 Ways to Improve Your Writing. Download from the link in the side column!

Consider leaving a comment below with your best writing magazine find. A lot of writers will be glad you did!

 

 

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Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul is Yummy

What is my best home remedy when I’m feeling a little low? I take it myself, I make it for my family, I’ve even been known to make up a batch and drive it across town to my son (sort of like the Mom in Love You Forever.) Of course it’s chicken soup.

What better title for Jack Canfield’s long line of books which sum up all the feel good, touchy-feely stuff in the world? And just like the famed chicken soup eases your flu symptoms, Canfield’s books, full of the best, the homiest, the most true-sounding stories you’ll find anywhere make you feel good.

I’ve read a few, mostly when people who love me have bought them for me. And I’ve loved self-dosing my soul with their wisdom and goodness. If garbage-in, garbage-out is a truism, and I believe it is, then Canfield’s Chicken Soup series brings the opposite homily to mind. Goodness in, goodness out.

Writers must be a hardy lot as their lives are fraught with upsets, downturns and disappointments. Ask any writer about their rejection pile and you’ll open a conversation which will take you way past lunch, dinner, and even bedtime. My own story is similar.

So what does this have to do with Chicken Soup? I bought myself Chicken Soup For The Writer’s Soul for my iPad and have just finished reading it.

And it’s so good.

Famous and not-so-famous writers have contributed bits of the blood of their writing lives to this reassuring volume. From incidents and people whose connections have been pivotal for burgeoning writers to books and blessings which seem to have been serendipitous, these vignettes are magical. I was most impressed with the time each author took to develop his/her piece, building to a climax which was all the more effective since the author’s name is not given until the end.

Reading this book took me a while as I wanted to greet each new course in this veritable cordon bleu menu with a clean palate, the better to savour each essay. I am glad I did that for this book is worth treasuring.

Do you have a favorite collection of feel-good stories or essays for writers? Consider leaving a comment below to tell us what they might be.

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The Loyalist’s Wife by Elaine Cougler is Here!

Kobo version

Amazon.ca Kindle version for Canadians

Amazon.com Kindle version

Amazon.com Paperback

Still available: Your free copy of 10 Ways to Improve Your Writing. Download from the link in the side column!

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Authors, Book Reviews, Writing Tips

 

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Interview of Elaine Cougler Where Many Probing Questions are Answered

A wonderful thing about being an author is finding other like-minded people who spend their days or nights doing the same crazy thing. They write. And, more importantly for me, they publish. Matt Holmes, author of several books, is one such writer whom I discovered in the last year and interviewed here in January.

Today he is returning the favour over on his site, Kimota94′s Place. When his questions arrived I couldn’t wait to read them and I wasn’t disappointed. He has asked a lot about the writing of The Loyalist’s Wife, how I did my research, whether there is a sequel, and much more.

Click over to Kimota94′s Place where Matt puts me through my paces.

The LoyalistsWife_3D_510x602

The Loyalist’s Wife by Elaine Cougler is Here!

Kobo version

Amazon.ca Kindle version for Canadians

Amazon.com Kindle version

Amazon.com Paperback

Still available: Your free copy of 10 Ways to Improve Your Writing. Download from the link in the side column!

 
 

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Who Is Your Writing Rock?

scan0002_editedYesterday was a special day for me and my dear husband as it was our anniversary. We got married back in the day when brides and grooms were wed at 19 or 20 so no wonder we look about 12! Outrageous hats were obviously in vogue as evidenced by my mom’s big white monstrosity. (There were a few giggles and tears when she modeled that for the family at the dinner table one night, I remember!) I laughed all day and so did my new husband so I’m not sure where his frown came from in this picture. What a poignant look back to the sixties for me.

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And this is my Grandma, a lovely lady who was there for all my growing up years. She passed away about six months after our wedding. Don’t you just love the way my tiara and veil are askew? I walked around like that all day, through all the professional photos, the reception, the zillion snap shots by friends and family. And no one ever mentioned my tilting tiara. Ah well, I got the guy right so the tiara is not important.

My readers, you may be wondering just what these old pictures have to do with my writing or The Loyalist’s Wife, newly parading on its own bridal path. Probably if not for that wedding day way back when my book would never have come to fruition. This man is my rock.

What or whom do you reach out for when the going/writing gets rough?

Still available: Your free copy of 10 Ways to Improve Your Writing. Download from the link in the side column!

 

The LoyalistsWife_3D_510x602The Loyalist’s Wife by Elaine Cougler is Finally Here!

Kobo version

Amazon.ca Kindle version for Canadians

Amazon.com Kindle version

Amazon.com Paperback

 
12 Comments

Posted by on June 26, 2013 in General, Just For Fun

 

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