Tag Archives: writers

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…






Tags: , , , ,

How My Workspace Fuels My Fires: 12 Points, With Pictures

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” George Eliot

When I step into my sunny office I’m surrounded by objects and remembrances I treasure and that fill my heart (and my head) with joy and thanks. Every morning I put my glass of water on a stone coaster imprinted with Eliot’s quote. This coaster has been a talisman for me for over eight years and each time I read it, I’m refreshed and ready to push on with my writing.

1-3.  The picture on my computer screen is bright and beautiful to me, my light, which I originally bought for beading, bathes my workspace, and a card on the left at the back tells me to Celebrate! I got it from a lovely couple at my first book launch.


4.  A bulletin board to the right of my desk holds pictures of many of my life’s treasures.

bulletin board in office

5-6.  I have a long table attached to my desk where I can assemble the projects I’m working on and, in the foreground, my book selling paraphernalia are stacked ready for the next person who comes to my door for a copy. Yes, they do that and it’s wonderful both for the sales and for the personal visits.

books on office table

7.  One evening my husband and I were dining in a new restaurant on a trip and this painting caught our attention. The local artist (the restaurant was in Orillia) had several of her paintings displayed there but we loved this one. My lovely husband promptly bought it for me and I painted my office  to match it. (My snapshot hasn’t rendered the colour of the paint at all correctly!)

office scene

8-9.  As we circle around the room past the door, my own framed photograph of a spot we found walking one day in Hilton Head, South Carolina hangs above my “imagine” sign. A perfect gift for a writer that sign, and I received it long before I’d published any books. How wonderful for writers to have people believe in us!


10. Here are more family pictures. I’m there at nine and at twelve, I think, posing for a record of our good times. I didn’t think much about it then but now I smile into the memories.


11-12. And on the other side of the window my siblings and I are posing for our last family photograph while we were all still alive. My family is so much a part of who I am. Oh, and on the filing cabinet beside my desk in a pottery dish I myself crafted is my collection of rocks and minerals which I and my wee grandson have rearranged thousands of times.


Things in and of themselves are not all that important I know, but these things glow with the memories they elicit and wonderful memories are worth everything. On a day when I have just a bit of an urge to chuck the revision and go walking or just watch a movie, being surrounded by my things and my people reminds me to keep working at being what I can be. Thanks, George Eliot.

For All Lovers of Historical Fiction, Just Out!

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 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.


Posted by on December 3, 2014 in Authors, Awards, Writing Tips


Tags: , , , ,

Writing Wisdom from Marta Merajver

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


Sign up for my email list to receive my quarterly newsletter, the next issue of which will be in February!

The Loyalist's Wife_cover_Mar18.indd

Purchase The Loyalist’s Wife on Amazon here.

Leave a comment

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


Tags: , ,

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.


Posted by on December 18, 2013 in Authors


Tags: , ,

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)



Jessica Aspen’s non-spammy, new release email please go to:

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.


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


Tags: , , ,

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 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


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!



Tags: , , , , ,

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.

The LoyalistsWife_3D_510x602

The Loyalist’s Wife by Elaine Cougler is Here!

Kobo version Kindle version for Canadians Kindle version Paperback

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


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


Tags: , , , , ,


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,978 other followers

%d bloggers like this: