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Running For the Finish Line

Kevin and Elaine at Terry Fox exhibit

Kevin and Elaine in front of Terry Fox on the poster.

A couple of weeks ago my son, Kevin, and I were lucky enough to attend the opening of the Terry Fox exhibit at the prestigious Canadian Museum of History just across the river from Ottawa. What a fantastic night!

I well remember Terry’s run which he started in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and wanted to end in British Columbia. Though he didn’t make the whole distance he did raise the one dollar for every Canadian citizen which was his goal, albeit after the run stalled in Northern Ontario. Terry’s cancer had returned.

Imagine that. He did not finish his stated goal to run across Canada but his courage and absolute determination electrified first the country he loved and then the wider world. Terry’s name is an international symbol and his story just doesn’t quit; the money just keeps pouring in.

The exhibit (there until next winter) features many artifacts on loan from the Fox family and as you walk through you see notations from Terry’s log as well as oversize representations of his encouraging sayings. Kevin and I were happy to stand beneath these words:

“Today is the day it all begins.”

I feel that way about my writing. Each day when I sit down at my computer and move my current work-in-progress a little farther ahead, it’s like a new beginning. I have another chance to tell the story of fictional characters who represent those unnamed real people who lived, struggled, and strove to build my country. I get to show the actual history of real people and events and, while I revel in that journey, it can be intimidating.

If we as writers can just have that attitude (Today is the day it all begins.), though, we will maybe do what Terry did. We’ll build a story that, whether it becomes widely known or not, will be an accomplishment for us as individuals and something to leave behind as a lasting remembrance. In that way, today is the first day of the rest of our lives. How will we use it?

I have three pages that are calling to be written. How about you?

 
1 Comment

Posted by on April 15, 2015 in Encouragement for Writers, General

 

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What is Your Potential for Greatness?

necklacePotential for Greatness

The oak tree is an emblem of strength,

endurance and prosperity. The acorn

signifies potential, power and luck.

 As a writer and as a person I count myself lucky because of the solid support I get from those near and dear to me, both literally and figuratively. Today’s post came to mind because of the necklace I chose to wear this morning. Given to me by my daughter as a support for me as I struggled to go the last months before publishing The Loyalist’s Wife, I wear it whenever I can and I take special pride in the fact that she wears an identical one.

Again today I took out the card which came with this gift and reread the poignant words printed above. What a fitting epithet to give to a writer!

We certainly need strength, both physical and mental, to do the daily pages so that, one day, the book will be done. Not for us the short task, done in an hour. My first book took me over six years, the second almost two, and the third will be about that length of time as well. I have learned that those two pages I wrote today, if repeated often enough, become a first draft which then becomes a work in revision which then becomes a work for beta readers which then becomes another revision in my hands and my editors’ hands until finally it satisfies. Endurance, for certain.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
2 Comments

Posted by on April 8, 2015 in Authors, General, Writing Tips

 

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Dare to Dance With Giants

Have you ever felt absolutely dwarfed by the size of the tasks before you?

IMG_4302_edited

Kind of like I felt on a trip down the Pacific Coast through Washington, Oregon and further? Those trees put me in my place, for sure. They owned the space. When I looked at the pictures afterwards I really saw the comparison. I look like an absolute bug!

Much as I loved seeing and touching those giants, I still had a sense of my own value. Rather than feel small I was myself made somehow bigger and certainly happier because I was in the company of those giants. You know what I mean. When you happen upon a delicious scene your whole being lights up at the beauty. Here’s a picture last fall in Canada’s Yukon Territory. I felt somehow more when I saw this sight.

Emerald Lake, Yukon, from my recent Alaska cruise. Just to showcase a beautiful part of North America.

Emerald Lake, Yukon Territory

But back to the giants, this time the giants of writing. I’ve stood beside quite a few and made myself overcome any shyness to converse with those who are further ahead of me on their journeys as authors. You know what? They’re people like you and I and they’ve been in my place. And they’re generous.

Just as standing beside those giant redwoods and Douglas firs actually helps me grow, so also does talking and interacting with giant authors. I’ve learned that my success as a writer depends on pushing through my fears and reaching out.

Here are some suggestions for writers who want to broaden their knowledge and their reach:

  1. After a presentation go up and meet the presenter. Exchange business cards. Think up a connection to talk about.

  2. Write about presenters in your blog and then contact them to give them the link.

  3. When your book table at a book fair is slow take a walk around and talk to the other authors there. I met an author last fall who writes in my genre and he is just fabulous about answering my questions. Of course I don’t bother him too much.

  4. Offer to have other authors guest post on your blog and, of course, share the links, both yours and theirs. I’ve got a few guest posts on this blog and am always open to more.

  5. Use Goodreads and other social media to meet your heroes. When you comment they will notice you. Don’t be a pest but all of us love when someone writes a thoughtful comment about us or our work. Those writers will remember you.

Look through the Authors tab here and you’ll see those I’ve written about and those who’ve posted on this blog. Even if you don’t have a blog, start a list of stars in your field from whom you can learn. Then make a plan to do just that. Good luck!

How About an Authors and History Tour? Click here for details of this amazing cruise. Come join us!

For All Lovers of Historical Fiction!

Book Two in The Loyalist Trilogy!

Purchase The Loyalist’s Luck Here.

The Loyalist’s Luck_cover_apr1.indd
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.

The Loyalist’s Wife, Book One in The Loyalist Trilogy!

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

Short-listed for Inspire! Toronto International Book Fair’s Canada Self-Published Book Awards

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 here.

 
 

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A Guest Post and Anne Rice on Writing.

Today is a double whammy combining my guest post about research and writing over on Red L. Jameson’s Immortal History site and excellent advice for writing from the clever and successful author Anne Rice. So click on the links below to dig deeper into writing. Enjoy!

1. Elaine Cougler and Land Grants, Governor Simcoe and the Peace Bridge

March 25, 2015 by Red L. Jameson

Hello! Today I have historical fiction writer Elaine Cougler talking about how her research met with fantastic results! Through her research for her books, she found some of her ancestors and where they had lived….(to see the post click on the title above.)

2. Here’s right-on-the-mark advice for writers from Anne Rice. Awesome!

How About an Authors and History Tour? Click here for details of this amazing cruise. Come join us!

 

For All Lovers of Historical Fiction!

Book Two in The Loyalist Trilogy!

Purchase The Loyalist’s Luck Here.

The Loyalist’s Luck_cover_apr1.indd
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.

The Loyalist’s Wife, Book One in The Loyalist Trilogy!

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

Short-listed for Inspire! Toronto International Book Fair’s Canada Self-Published Book Awards

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 here.

 

 

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If You Build It, Will They Come?

I think we’re all a little like Shoeless Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams.

“How could authors be like a baseball player with a besmirched name?” you ask.

Remember the plot of that great movie with Kevin Costner and Ray Liota, Amy Madigan and the incomparable James Earl Jones? That cornfield and those car lights stretching for miles will stay in my head forever and so will that voice Costner kept hearing. “If you build it, they will come.”

But Shoeless Joe waited until everything was perfect before he stepped out of the corn and brought his team with him. Luckily for him, Ray Kinsella, Kevin Costner’s character, was driven to sabotage his own corn crop and complete a perfect ball diamond. Jackson, however, didn’t come when the corn was plowed under. Or when the grass started to grow. Or at the building of the screens, the pitcher’s mound, the bases or the bleachers at the side. He came when everything was ready.

Are you like that? With your writing? Do you wait until everything is perfect before you write a word?

Last night I sat at a writers’ group meeting in a large city here in Ontario. I’ve belonged for a few years but my attendance has been spotty. When I first started to look at myself as a serious author, I traveled far and farther to learn what I needed to know. I flew across the country, drove hundreds of miles, started critique groups, crossed borders a few times and just went wherever I knew I could learn. And those travels led me to write books of which I am proud. I wanted to make them as perfect as they could be.

But back to last night. This group has not progressed; in fact, it has lost a lot of the people who were shakers and movers when my attendance was more regular a couple of years ago. As we did self introductions I was most interested to hear how many of those present (about 30) had never been there before. We went around the table telling a little about ourselves. Two things stood out. I was the only person who used her full name; the others just used their first name. And people seemed so apologetic and shy about what they were doing, even those who have been writing for years.

Members and visitors have in common a desire to write and, one assumes, to get published and known as writers. They should, therefore, introduce themselves with their full names. There is no place for bashfulness here. We must step up to the plate before the corn has reached full height or the cheering section is in place. A writer’s name is the shining light on the cover of her books or the byline of his articles. It’s marketing, people.

I belong to a second writing group whose meetings I travel miles to attend in snow, sleet and threat of flood. Well, not really. If the weather is horrid, I don’t drive the almost two hours to attend the Saturday morning breakfasts but usually it’s fine. This group has about 300 members, a vibrant executive, stunning guest speakers, a monthly breakfast meeting, workshops, courses in writing topics, its own magazine…the list goes on and on. I don’t attend everything and, because of the distance, some of the events are not possible for me to attend. When I go there, though, I see large groups of happy people delighted to be in a banquet room filled with others whose writing dreams are as magical as their own. Those people get what I’m doing and many of them help me, whether they know it or not.

And they are not apologetic!

The Writers’ Community of Durham Region has built a fine playing field. People are coming. In droves and flocks and buses. They even have an associate membership available so that those who are too far away can use the resources on their website. The current board members of this amazing group and those who came before have followed their own dreams and created something for the rest of us to use and enjoy. And, like Shoeless Joe, I’m stepping out of the cornfield and playing in a great game.

As for the first group, I’ve decided to try to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. So many people have helped me and I’m thankful. It’s time to give back. Do you belong to a writing group? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments section.

How About an Authors and History Tour? Click here for details of this amazing cruise. Come join us!

 

For All Lovers of Historical Fiction!

Book Two in The Loyalist Trilogy!

Purchase The Loyalist’s Luck Here.

The Loyalist’s Luck_cover_apr1.indd
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.

The Loyalist’s Wife, Book One in The Loyalist Trilogy!

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

Short-listed for Inspire! Toronto International Book Fair’s Canada Self-Published Book Awards

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 here.

 

 
8 Comments

Posted by on March 21, 2015 in Authors

 

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3 Exciting Things in This Writer’s Life

Guest Author Barbara Kyle

Author Barbara Kyle

This week has been a mixture of delight and challenge. Traveling when I have work to do is always difficult and when my granddaughter figures in the mix staying on track is even harder. Still, pleasing and/or amazing things have happened.

Here are three:

  1. I got a lovely email from my book loving friend, literary imprint in England, whose blog is called The Book Trail. Ms. Literary has a new idea for her site and has asked me to submit pictures of the historical sites mentioned in my books. I can hardly wait to get home and send off my files. Check out this link for The  Book Trail.

  2. Another email which pleased me no end was from author Barbara Kyle whose Thornleigh series of books are just a joy to read. Barbara is a Canadian author whose work is sold worldwide and she has a new contest she’s running. I offered to mention it here. Writers are encouraged to submit their writing and be judged by Barbara. The prizes are a $1200 manuscript evaluation, an opening 50-pages manuscript evaluation and an opening 25-page one. Here is the link but know that I want to win! Just kidding. Send in your work.

  3. I’ve saved the best till last: I actually got started writing the outline for The Loyalist Legacy due out in the fall of 2016. For about three months I’ve researched my heart out, finding things I expected and loads of things I didn’t. Some of the small local books on even smaller locations in my setting hold gems which just take me back to the time. You can be sure I’ll be using these tidbits in book three of the Loyalist trilogy. I started by writing down my characters, main and less important, and filling their paragraphs with whatever ideas about them were floating around my brain. That felt great. The next day, I actually tried to write about events chapter by chapter all the while working in my secondary plot ideas as well as the main story. Of course I know the story will evolve somewhat on its own once I start actually writing it but this stage helps me think of what should and could be included. I can hardly wait to get home and settle into my writing nest, glass of water in hand, door closed, and fingers finding their way on my own  keyboard.

And so, as we travel on Wednesday, my regular blogging day, my readers will get this missive from me a couple of days late. Hope your days are fine, filled with reading, and even writing!

How About an Authors and History Tour? Click here for details of this amazing cruise. Come join us!

For All Lovers of Historical Fiction! Book Two in The Loyalist Trilogy!

Purchase The Loyalist’s Luck Here.

The Loyalist’s Luck_cover_apr1.indd
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.

The Loyalist’s Wife, Book One in The Loyalist Trilogy!

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

Short-listed for Inspire! Toronto International Book Fair’s Canada Self-Published Book Awards

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 here.

 

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The (Writing) Beat Goes On. And On. And On.

Here’s  the view outside my writing room last week. Vibrant blue sky setting off the sun and shadows on pristine snow. But it was cold. 35-40 degrees Celsius below zero overnight (with the wind chill factored in). Even in Ontario that’s unusual and some records were broken. Made me glad to be inside at my computer.

home snow

 This week I’m writing my blog on the other side of the country and outside my window the morning sun streaks across the parking lot to encourage spring’s flowers to push out of the bushes. Everywhere I look as we drive around Victoria, colour brightens my day–violet heathers, yellow daffodils, and bountiful budding trees. The whole city is alive and greening up. I particularly like the pink flowering trees and the rich rose shades of the camellias.

This is the view outside my daughter’s window, temporary though it is while she and her family wait a few months for their house to be finished. But even here it’s sweater and/or coat weather.

Beth Rich appt

 

No matter the weather, no matter the location, this writer’s life goes on. Isn’t that great?

It’s as simple as bringing a laptop or an iPad and keeping up with email, checking the latest posts of other writers, and moving book 3 of the Loyalist trilogy ahead. This month I’m working on plot outlines centred around the various characters and story lines that are converging in my head after months of research about the period 1815-1837. Whatever did we do before we had computers and computer technology? I love my devices.

Confession Time

For the last five days I’ve been leaving off the bit about working on my novel. Yes, it’s true. I’ve been playing with my 7-year-old granddaughter, helping my daughter and family with their move, and finally getting outside to walk. I needed to get my walking legs going as lately Ontario has just been too cold for leisurely exercising outside.

But today I’m back at writing. I’ve decided to write out the plot lines for various characters in the new novel as a start. As soon as I finish this blog post and go for a walk with my husband. And because I’m on the west coast of Canada it’s still early here so I have the whole day to fit in my walking and my writing. I can hardly wait to get started.

Oh, and I’ll be saving to the Cloud and to Dropbox, both platforms easily accessible either here or in Ontario. Don’t you just love technology? Leave me a comment to say how you keep up when you’re traveling.

Writers need reviews on their books. If you haven’t already done so, how about writing a review of the first two Loyalist books on Amazon or Goodreads? I’d do my happy dance…

 

 

 

 

 

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