I am happy to be a member of London Writers Society which meets once a month in London, Ontario. Tonight (Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018) we’re launching another writing contest in connection with the fact that women finally got the vote in Canada in 1918, a hundred years ago.

If you check out the web you’ll see that didn’t mean all women and, indeed, women of colour didn’t get the vote here until the late 1940’s. Not long ago.

And in Canada women weren’t actually considered “persons” under Canadian law until 1929. I’ve no idea how they could vote before that considering they weren’t persons!

In London a group has taken on the task of helping all Londoners and those surrounding the city celebrate the hundred years date. I went to an organizational meeting at Eldon House whose group has chosen to offer a series of events under the title “A Century of Women: Votes, Voices and Choices.” Good ideas ensued from all of the people there.

My idea was to have London Writers Society host a writing contest linking to the theme. Below is the contest information and rules. Feel free to enter as long as you’re a member of LWS. (Yearly memberships cost $25.)

London Writers Society

Short Story Writing Contest:

“Women’s Rights and Struggles”

 

Held to honour the 100th anniversary of Canadian women getting the vote: May 24, 1918.

Contest Information and Rules

  1. Submitted stories must relate to the following theme: women’s rights and struggles.

  2. Maximum word count: 2500 words. There is no minimum word count.

  3. Any genre will be accepted.

  4. There is no submission entry fee. However, all entrants must be members of the London Writers Society in good standing at the time of submission, so please ensure that your membership is current.

  5. The submissions will be judged blindly. Therefore, print your name, contact email, contact phone number, and the title of your submission on a separate sheet. Put your submission title on an additional title page without your personal information.

  6. Stories cannot have been previously published.

  7. Send submissions by email to londonwriterssociety(at)gmail.com.

  8. Submission deadline is April 1, 2018.

  9. Winners will be announced April 17, 2018 at our regular LWS meeting.

  10. The first prize winner will receive: their story distributed to the LWS membership and the rest of our newsletter list; their story published on our website if the author so desires; an LWS merchandise package; a $75 Chapters gift certificate.

  11. Two runners-up will each receive: an LWS merchandise package; a $50 Chapters gift certificate.

Note the email address if you are interested. You can also contact me.

Click on the Loyalist Trilogy books below for great historical stories with satisfying endings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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According to our calendar a new year is upon us whether we want it or not. In the tradition of writing resolutions which many have done for years and years, I’m going to make my own list.

 

Resolutions For 2018

  1. I resolve to say no as often as I can so that my ‘must do’ duties do not get so overwhelming.

  2. I resolve to finish my current WIP as soon as possible, hopefully by summer time. Then I can work on having it published by October.

  3. I resolve to keep up my blog post schedule of a new post almost every Wednesday of the year.

  4. I resolve to keep up my twice monthly newsletter to my followers and to continually search for new and interesting tidbits to share with these wonderful supporters.

  5. I resolve to lose ten pounds. (We always have to put one of those resolutions in, don’t we?)

  6. I resolve to figure out how to best make use of my new Pico projector as I go out on my speaking gigs.

  7. I resolve to get the most out of Quantum Leap in the remaining two months I have with them.

  8. I resolve to record the third book in my Loyalist trilogy and get them all on a platform so they’re available for purchase.

  9. I resolve to get back into painting and to stretch my creative side a little more in this way.

  10. I resolve to keep my email InBox as empty as I can by unsubscribing to anything I don’t absolutely need or want. Time to be ruthless about guarding my time.

  11. I resolve to practice singing and get my voice back into shape so that I can record a CD for my family. Sh. This is a secret!

  12. I resolve to continue the daily Gratitude Journal I do with my daughter in order that, miles apart, we can keep up on what each other is doing.

Well, there you have it. Twelve resolutions. One for each month. Come next December I’ll try to do a rehash and see how well I’ve done. You might consider doing the same and telling us your plans.

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!

 

Click on the Loyalist Trilogy books below for great historical stories with satisfying endings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My holiday over Christmas was not quite what you would expect. Lucky me, I caught a nasty flu bug which took ten days to dissipate but then left me five pounds lighter and a whole lot more respectful of my health. I hope you did not have to learn this lesson.

While I was nursing myself back to health I did a lot of reading but the book I had was disappointing to me. A multiple prize-winning novel by a well known author, The Lonely Hearts Hotel had some fabulous and creative language, a testament to the skill of the writer, but I just could not keep reading for long periods of time. No, this was not because of the flu. It was because of the negative tone of the book.

Without giving away too much of the story let me just say that it is about two orphans, their amazing talents, and the sad story of their lives. There is a message at the end. A sad one. Even when the heroine finally has some success both financially and personally, the author cannot refrain from dashing the reader’s hopes for some sort of redemption for all the negatives the heroine has suffered.

In the second last paragraph a murder occurs showing us that nothing good comes without its nasty cost. I’m sorry I can’t be more specific but you may wish to read this book for yourself and I don’t want to give away the ending. Suffice it to say that I was sad still.

I reread the cover, front and back, and the inside page with all the comments. Nowhere did I read any hint of the dark mood that readers would be faced with and I am left wondering. Shouldn’t covers give some sort of clue if the mood is so dark? What has happened to a sense of redemption or well-being in a good ending?

Another Canadian author well known all over the world leaves me with the same feelings with her books. I finally stopped reading Margaret Atwood’s work not because she can’t write–she most definitely can–but because her work is so dark. Life is dark enough with all the bad news stories and negative happenings surrounding us every day. Do we really want to have our cherished reading time make us sad, too?

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry was really interesting for so many reasons but here the subject matter of a poor family in India was difficult. Maybe I’m just wanting to put on my rose-coloured glasses; I confess that I do work very hard to find positives in my life.

Having faced a life-threatening health state about twenty-five years ago I made the decision to surround myself with happy people, places, books, and stories in order to keep my sunny disposition. I’ve noticed that others who have faced life’s toughest trials often do the same. We want to experience positive reinforcement in just about everything we do.

Lest you think my books are all sunshine and roses, let me assure you they are not. All of life’s tragedies are fair game for my stories and I am a follower of Anne Rice’s maxim “Make it bad for your hero. And then make it worse.” This keeps the reader engaged and allows that reader the chance to experience joy and contentment at the end. (I loved her witches series the best, by the way.)

I know that everyone has different ideas on what is good and what is bad writing and that’s as it should be. All I want is some hint on the cover or comment pages that lets a reader know what the mood of a book might be. Have you had any surprises in your reading relating to mood?

 

Click on the Loyalist Trilogy books below for great historical stories with satisfying endings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We started our holiday early this year with a trip to our daughter’s home on Vancouver Island. It’s always a joy to go there for so many reasons, not the least of which is spending time with our precious granddaughter. Here she is on one of the lit paths at Butchart Gardens, all decked out for Christmas. Its theme is the Twelve Days of Christmas but the whole wonderful garden is a treasure of spot-lighted paths and trees decked like the one below which, from a distance, looks like some kind of marine life.

In front of this water-spouting dragon I caught Ron, Beth and Chelsea for posterity. the water was still flowing in the pond and no snow had fallen so the paths were all dry. We did bundle up pretty well, though. Beth and Chelsea skated on the outdoor pond while Ron and I checked out the treasure-laden gift shop. I even bought myself a Christmas pin. Haven’t done that in years.

For much more professional photos check out this link and watch a veritable slide show of artistic renderings. So great in person but also wonderful to see the pictures.

For the rest of the Christmas season we’ll be here in Ontario and we have snow! Love when the fields are white with the frosty stuff and the roads have been cleared so we can all enjoy it. We’ll be cooking a turkey on Boxing Day here at home and partying with the family.

From our house to yours go great big wishes for peaceful times filled with joy and wonder.

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A few years ago I joined London Writers Society where I met a whirlwind named John Matsui. When you check his bio below you’ll see he absolutely deserves that descriptive word along with many others such as ambitious, helpful, kind, talented, broad thinking and clever. When we sat in my living room a week or so ago I could see that his cross genre writing was expressing itself in an historical way and I eagerly suggested he join me as my Guest Author for December. You will definitely learn some new and exciting things from John. Here he is to start the process.

Welcome, John!

John Matsui: My Guest Author Today:

What the heck is the author of dark fantasies doing writing a guest blog for Elaine Cougler?

My name is John Matsui and after a working life that careened like that silver marble in a pinball machine — journalist, business consultant, internet entrepreneur — I’ve turned to writing speculative fiction that specializes in not being specialized.

What held and still holds all parts of my working life together is a love of writing sprinkled with creativity. It was always a tough go holding back my imagination as a daily newspaper reporter/editor/columnist. When I entered the world of business as a PR consultant and marketer, I found my notions of stuffy, old business types in the corporate world to be just plain wrong. The top folks in the biggest corporations welcomed my whimsical side. The smaller the business and the lower the rank, the more conservative the thinking.

As usual, I digress. Back to how all of the above fit with Elaine’s focus on historical fiction.

I love sci-fi, fantasy, horror, thrillers, detective mysteries, and, of course, historical fiction and I blur most of them in all of my novels. What’s great about historical fiction is the discipline needed to create fascinating characters and weave their stories into the tapestry of real people and events. When history is brought to life accurately through riveting historical fiction as Elaine Cougler has done in her Loyalist Trilogy, the reader wins in two ways: 1) a thrilling and empathetic voyage through the eyes of another; b) insight into historical events and players that our formal education missed.

While my novels’ main characters range from a guy people call a vampire and a celebrity chef who sniffs down murderers on the side, they nudge their way into historical fiction because my skeptical side doesn’t buy a witch’s curse or demon spirits as the raison d’être for my pseudo vamp and my chef’s preternatural sense of smell.

My vampire Dragul Mangorian (Late Bite and Lycanthrope Rising — Books 1 & 2 of the Toronto Vampire Chronicles) is the last of the Homo Sanguinus, a subspecies of Homo sapiens. He was born and raised in what would become Canada among a people who fled the Old World across the Bering Land Bridge 10,000 years ago to avoid never-ending warfare and genocide at the hands of humans.

In the New World, the Sanguinus co-existed with other First Nations most times in peace but usually in mutual fear. I touch on the 17th Century Beaver Wars (French and Iroquois Wars) in Lycanthrope Rising and plan to explore it in greater detail in upcoming novels.

As kin to humankind, the Sanguinus interbred with Sapiens until forced separation of the subspecies severed the genetic link for successful reproduction. Scientists now say Homo Neanderthalensis interbred with our ancestors and many of us carry a sloped forehead gene in our DNA.

And the vampire part? The Sanguinus consume blood to live with their preferred beverage of the human varietal. However, like most parasites, they prefer not to kill their hosts because that’s plain wasteful.

Chef Nathan Sherlock, star of my foodie thriller Gravity Games, possesses an extraordinary sense of smell that allows him to select the best ingredients and blend them in palate boggling ways. What only he and business partner/love interest Bonnie know is his olfactory abilities go far beyond what adoring fans of celebrity chef ‘Nate The Nose’ suspect.

Suffice to say that a special Canada-U.S. anti-terrorism squad recruits the duo to sniff down perps who have weaponized gravity and left the world hanging in suspense.

Historical fiction comes in via the back story of a villain in Gravity Games where his upbringing behind the Iron Curtain warps his mind and sets his direction in life. The financial collapse that led to Occupy Wall Street in New York City’s Zuccotti Park then spread to over 951 cities across 82 countries puts the driving forces in Gravity Games into motion.

Why do I turn to historical events and characters of the past for my fantastical yarns?

First off, I‘m not so creative that I can imagine an entirely new world in all of its multitudinous dimensions. I find it easier to start with a basic premise and then use the real world and real history to flesh out the details even if I reimagine them e.g. The Crusades and other conflicts were thinly veiled wars within wars. Humans and Sanguinus populated the forces of both sides to disguise wide-scale killing.

I could be a lone voice here but my second reason for entwining my stories with historical fiction is credibility. I believe that even the most speculative of sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal tales needs grounding for average readers to step aboard. Harry Potter needed a miserable home life with his aunt and uncle. When motivation is spawned within real events, in my opinion the plot and the characters gain authenticity.

As writers, our primary role is to create characters that our readers fear, love, hate, and worry about. There must be an emotional attachment to the characters. How do I get readers to empathize with a non-sparkly, fearsome, blood-drinking vampire? I portray him as a member of a First Nation, the lone survivor of historical / anthropological genocides. He’s the victim.

I mentioned discipline earlier. There’s nothing like history to focus a writer’s explosive creativity like a demolition expert directs impact. History creates a dance partner to keep characters in step. History also fixes events, perfect opportunities for actions to reach a climax.

If I can use historical events to create empathy for a fearsome vampire, I think they have a place in almost any genre of fiction.

John Matsui “Someone to Watch” (Goodreads.com) bio:

John Matsui is a former daily newspaper writer, turned public relations guy, turned business consultant, turned Internet entrepreneur, and finally author of thriller mashups that stick to a single genre like confetti in a hurricane.

His storylines and characters, like his work life, rush everywhere at once and still arrive at the finish line with all plot threads neatly and satisfyingly knotted or so readers have told us. Unless you have a habit of reading the last pages of a book first, you clearly enjoy this form of topsy-turvy, jigsaw mystery. That or you decided to see how far from the beaten path John could go.

People who [enjoyed] [hated] [laughed] [cried] [got sick over] [have no idea what to think about] John’s writing are invited to visit https://johnmatsui.com/ or email the author at: john@johnmatsui.com and tell him they [loved] [despised] [shared] [ripped apart] [borrowed a copy of] [bought a copy of] his books and that they plan to [buy his other books] [recommend him] [start a bonfire with it] [spread it as fake news].

John’s novels include: Late Bite: Vampire On Trial: Lycanthrope Rising: The True Story Behind The Vampire-Werewolf Wars; and Gravity Games, A Nathan Sherlock Foodie Thriller. They are available as eBooks through most popular online vendors. The paperback version can be ordered on Amazon.com or clicking the link on John’s Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/John-Matsui/e/B00L8GIQ2E

He’s currently working on the third book in the Toronto Vampire Chronicles (Late Bite and Lycanthrope Rising are Books 1&2), a YA steam-punk time travel novel Girl Out Of Time, and Dark Matters, a collection of twisty short stories.

John and wife Judy live in Wortley Village, a quaint neighbourhood in London, Ontario, far from Toronto’s clash of vampires, werewolves, superheroes and high housing prices.

For more information about the author and his writing go to:

Amazon: www.amazon.com/John-Matsui/e/B00L8GIQ2E

Blog: www.JohnMatsui.com

Twitter: johnmatsui99

 REVIEWS

 “Mind-boggling!”  ReadersFavourite.com

“Fun with antigravity”  Amazon.com

“More please”  Goodreads.com

“Eye-popping”  Literary Titan

“Keeps readers guessing” Midwest Book Review

“A path-breaking novel” Lovelaughter.net

 “Kept me up all night”  Amazon.com

 “Quite a ride!”  Bookmagiclove.blogspot.ba

“Recommend it to anyone, vampire enthusiast or not”  ReadersFavourite.com

“Pure entertainment”  CityGirlScapes.com

 

Click on the Loyalist Trilogy books below for more great historical stories:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Just in time for Christmas I’m taking part in another BookSweeps contest with my newest book The Loyalist Legacy. This contest’s books are especially geared to book clubs but anyone can enter. You just click on the link and fill in your email address. You could win one of them. Today, I have a fun surprise that I’d like to share with you. I’ve teamed up with 40 fantastic authors to give away a huge collection of book club fiction novels to 2 lucky winners, PLUS a brand new eReader to the Grand Prize winner!

Oh, and did I mention you’ll receive a collection of FREE ebooks just for entering? You can win my novel The Loyalist Legacy, plus books from authors like Tim Tigner and Gwendolyn Womack.

Enter the giveaway by clicking here: http://bit.ly/bookclub-nov2017

Good luck, and enjoy!

Elaine Cougler

 

Click on the Loyalist trilogy books below for your book club:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Three score years ago less six, my seventeen-year-old’s world slid off its axis one November afternoon in French class. Part way through a group recitation of je suis, tu es, il est, elle est, the intercom crackled to life and the voice of Mr. Ferguson–the principal we students called Chrome Dome!–came into our class and our lives. President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas. It happened thousands of miles from where we sat in Woodstock, Ontario but I still remember the gasps, the sniffles, the outright bawling and one girlfriend dashing from the room, her blond hair flying across her red face and wet eyes as she grabbed the door handle, yanked it open, and fled.

As though that would help.

There was no more French that day. The final bell rang and students rushed to lockers, to coats, to buses, and home. Mom had the TV on. In a silence not normally found in my large family we sat side by side on the gold leather couch, for once not shoving our siblings for more room, as Jackie Kennedy stood on the plane beside Lyndon Johnson while the hastily located judge administered the oath of office making him officially the new president. We watched Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald dead right at the police station and we saw over and over the scene surrounding the Texas Book Depository from whence the assassination shot reportedly came. The video of Mrs. Kennedy crawling over the trunk of the car, the secret service men striving to protect the bloodied president, the sirens wailing as the motorcade roared off to the hospital, and the shock and fear of every bystander, all of these scenes are as vivid today as I write this as they were on our black and white TV that horrific day.

Here is a video encapsulating many of those events shared by the world which, still today, makes me cry. Wait especially for the words at the very end. They are words we who lived through that unheard of event have echoed ourselves all these fifty-four years since. Here is the Smithsonian Channel’s excellent video.

President Kennedy’s death was the beginning of a changed world. Five years later Robert Kennedy was assassinated and Martin Luther King Jr., too. It seemed the good guys were losing whole acres of ground to the bad guys. That was the world in which I came of age.

Today I write of a history long before those events in the sixties and I’m sure people living then many times felt just as shocked and bereaved as I did in the nineteen sixties. It does seem to me now, though, that the bad things are more expected and have gotten worse. As we mark the fifty-fourth anniversary of that day in 1963, let us still strive to look for, to nourish, and to give birth ourselves to the good that I know is out there.

What is your story of that day when Camelot came crashing down?

 

 

 

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Yesterday was Remembrance Day here in Canada or Memorial Day in the U.S. and I got to thinking again about my Uncle Frank who died in Italy in WWII. This past summer my husband and I had a special experience related to that. I’ve linked to that post here. Please click to see our family’s story about war and remembrance in photos and words.

I Came, I Saw, I Cried.

And, of course, you can always read about other wars, families, and remembrances in my Loyalist Trilogy. Links are below.

 

Click on the books below for the Loyalist trilogy:

 

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So there I was! Table dressed, poster positioned, Square device details in my head, books, cards, bookmarks and newsletter signup forms at the ready. This was going to be a great weekend. I’d get to talk to loads of people about my writing and, hopefully, sell books and get a couple of speaking gigs. Oh, and I had been asked to be a panelist talking about self publishing.

What could go wrong?

The workshop was well attended with lots of people anxious to hear what my co-panelist and I had to say about self-publishing. Good questions abounded and Carolyn Arnold and I got into a great rhythm, each drawing on our own self publishing experiences. I even sold four books that first day even though crowds were minimal.

Actually there were no crowds. A better phrase would be dribbles of people. And when Sunday morning we opened to basically no one there it was time to take action. Here is a list of what I did to use the time wisely.

5 Ways to Maximize Your Time at a (Failed) Book Fair

  1. When no one is at your table or any of the others near you, check your email, tweet about the event, or text friends to come visit you.

  2. Take pictures of the other authors at the event. This is a great time to make connections and new friends.

    Dominique Millette and one of her books in French

  3. Talk to the other authors. You can learn a lot. I found the name of a company to question about cards with a free gift link to my eBooks. And you can meet some really great people. Authors are almost always ready to share.

  4. If time is really dragging pull out your iPad and write your blog post or newsletter for the coming week. Make lists of marketing things to do. I got my newsletter for Tuesday roughed out so that Monday night I just had to transfer it to MailChimp, do a few fixes and such, and my newsletter for my very special list people was all ready. It was so ready that inadvertently I sent it Monday night! Anxious or what?

  5. Figure out a way to make lemonade. What could I do to find the positive in Sunday’s abysmal showing? (I sold nothing. Neither did many others.) Well, I decided to write this blog post with a positive slant on my weekend event. I also got two writing pieces out of the weekend so my time was far from wasted.

Al McGregor and Terry Carroll renewing old acquaintances.

Two of the volunteers and Floyd the bunny.

Jen Romnes, author of Entangled

Pat Brown author of many books in several genres.

 

 

Author Carolyn Arnold, my clever panel partner, and her husband.

This is often the life of an author. We plan as best we can but sometimes venues are just not what we planned and we must be ready to make the best of the situation. I hope that this event next year is better attended, for sure, but my weekend was useful and fun just the same.

 

Click on the Loyalist trilogy books below for great historical stories:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Here’s an excellent reblog for writers today. it’s all about writing a stellar book blurb. Click below! And feel free to leave a comment for author L.M. Nelson!

Writing a Stellar Book Blurb

write a poetry book blurb

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