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

 

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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

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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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A few years ago I was asked to take part in a Doors Open event in lovely Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. The museum there was one of the spots on the tour where I joined other authors with books about the area. The delightful Barbara Nattress was one of those authors and she now has a second book featuring the history of Niagara through her fictional characters.

Today we welcome Barbara to introduce both of her books which feature ghosts, history, young love, and the Niagara area. Welcome, Barbara!

Ghosts of The Past

War is never a good event. The families suffer. The countryside suffers. The soldiers suffer. The life everyone knew never returns.

The War of 1812 between the United States and the United Kingdom was no different. Many innocent people were killed only because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Niagara Peninsula was an area of concentrated fighting because of its proximity to both Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. The town of Newark at the mouth of the Niagara River was home to many Loyalists who had settled there during the Revolutionary War. In 1813, the town was burned to the ground by the American soldiers as  local residents watched. Feelings and opinions about the Americans were cut and dried. You were either with them or against them.

These Loyalists had left the life in America behind and had to start over again clearing land and establishing a home. For many it was the second time they had done this. Others were business men and merchants and were not accustomed to pioneer life.

A number of years ago my great aunt decided to research and write the family history. She discovered her ancestors had come from Holland in the late 1600’s and settled along the banks of Lake Champlain. As disputes over taxes by the British escalated into the revolutionary war the Van Every family moved to Syracuse and later Albany. Being loyal to the British was not a wise choice in 1774. Finally in 1778 with the patriarch of the family in jail, the rest of the family crossed the river and landed in what is now Queenston.

The family stayed loyal to the British, helped run raids for food with Butler’s Rangers, and kept watch for American troops crossing the river terrorizing pioneers. For these services the Van Every family were awarded settlement land along the Niagara River. In 1799 they were endowed with the honorific United Empire Loyalist. When the opportunity arose for my husband and I to move to Niagara on the Lake and become the owners of a Bed and Breakfast, I kept many stories and ideas in my mind that later would become part of the Loyalist House books.

Dreams in the Mist, takes place during the War of 1812 and tells of a family living along the Niagara River. Patrols of British soldiers regularly traveled up and down the river. While families were always on alert for American patrols crossing the river, life went on as normally as possible on the farms. Men continued tending animals and crops, women tended the gardens and kept the household running smoothly. Children played games and helped with chores and teenagers fell in love with boys and girls on the next farm.

The story also tells of a couple looking to start a new chapter in their life after retirement and takes place in the present and in the Niagara area. As luck would have it, they purchase the home along the river where our Loyalist family resided during the War of 1812. It is now a Bed and Breakfast aptly named Loyalist House B&B. Our Hosts Marilee and Phillip are enthusiastic B&B owners, knowledgeable about the history of the area and of the homes.

I used the idea of weaving past and present together to create the story of these two families whose lives intertwine. What a perfect setting to have a ghost living in your home. Niagara-on-the-Lake is noted as being the most haunted place in all of Canada.

This excerpt from Dreams in the Mist tells of Hannah and her boyfriend Peter meeting secretly along the river. Peter’s family have decided to move back to the American side as they feel the Americans should take over this area. Hannah’s family are staunch supporters of the British.

The Proposal

 Hannah was sitting behind the bushes by the river bank, waiting for Peter. She had managed to get out of the house without anyone seeing her, but it had been close. The waiting part of these rendezvous was always the worst as Hannah worried that Peter might be seen and would have to turn back before they met. Hannah stepped out of the bushes just as Peter reached the dock. In the dark silent night , they embraced, glad that the meeting was finally here. They returned to the bushes to talk about how their friendship could continue despite the war.

“Where do you keep all the letters we are exchanging?” asked Peter.

Hannah told him she kept them in her pocket or under her pillow at night for now, but she had been looking for a hiding place where no one would look. …She told Peter she would continue to look the next day for a safe place to keep the letters, where only she might think to look.

“How are we going to see each other if your family moves across the river?” asked Hannah. …

Peter hadn’t asked Hannah to marry him, but he took both her hands and asked if she would marry him after this disagreement between the two countries was settled. Hannah of course said yes and asked Peter how long he thought that might be. Of course he didn’t know the answer to that but hoped it would be maybe a year….

Peter continued to tell her how he thought they could meet at the river. It would be more difficult as there would be no way to get letters to each other, and they would have to be careful as now he was considered the enemy on this side of the river. He thought for the rest of the summer and the fall they could meet on the fifth day of the month at midnight by the dock. They would only wait half an hour for the other person to show up…. One last kiss and a long embrace and they separated. Peter rowed back up the river along the shore while Hannah watched, tears streaming down her face.

It soon becomes apparent that Loyalist house is also home to a former resident, now a ghost. Hannah, a teenage ghost resides in the attic and interactions with B&B guests often results in difficult situations for the present day owners. Marilee is determined to discover more about the home and who this ghost is. Should she tell the guests about the ghost? Why is the ghost still here? What happened to her family? And why is there so much sobbing and crying coming from the attic?

Hannah’s Search is the sequel to Dreams in the Mist and follows Hannah as she searches for her family and her fiancé during the war. Unaware she is a ghost, she discovers she has powers to see what goes on in her home but not leave the house. Her Father is conscripted by the British and her mother and siblings leave to find a safe place. She often ventures down into the house only to find it has changed into something she can not understand. Often there are strangely dressed people wandering around the bedrooms .

Marilee is still trying to discover who this ghost is and secretly discovers she can sometimes see what this ghost is up to in her dreams. Marilee can almost predict if it will be a night of peace or if the noises in the attic will disturb everyone. The ghostly encounters often erupt into scary but hilarious situations. Can you imagine five women booking into the B&B with the intention of finding and photographing the ghost?

Will Marilee and her friend be able to find out who Hannah is and what happened to her family? Will Marilee be able to communicate to Hannah that she is safe in the attic? Will Hannah finally realize she is a ghost and be able to move on? How much furniture will be destroyed before the situation is resolved?

In this excerpt from Hannah’s Search, Hannah is quite concerned as she watches her parents prepare to leave the farm. She hears her Father tell her mother that she must walk across country for several days with the two children to his brother’s farm as it is not safe to stay here anymore. Hannah’s father will likely have to join the British troops in the area.

Hannah was terribly anxious. She flitted about the house both day and night trying to keep a watch on her family. She saw her mother packing things in a small case and making those dry biscuits that she did not like, so she knew they were planning on leaving. One night when her family were asleep, she crept into the room where the case was and unpacked all the things her mother had put in. The next morning, she saw her mother sigh and repack the clothes. When she looked closer, she noticed her mother had tears in her eyes.

On some of her trips downstairs, Hannah was puzzled by what she saw. There were things happening in what she thought was their kitchen, but people dressed in odd garments were working at very strange pieces of equipment that she had never seen before. The odd thing about it was they were doing something with food that she recognized. It was though she was drifting between different societies. One she had known and loved, and the other beyond her imagination. The strangers never seemed to bother with her, except every once in awhile someone would stop what they were doing and stare in her direction as though they had heard a noise.

The War of 1812 was a pivotal point in defining Canada as a nation. Men stood side by side defending the country to keep the values in which they believed. Over the years other wars forced men and today women to again fight and die to keep those same values. These ghosts of the past stand together as heroes and should never be forgotten.

There was a Peter, Paul and Mary song in the sixties “Blowin’ in the Wind” that stated “When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?” I think the ghosts of the past may still be singing this song today.

I hope you will enjoy reading both these books as much as I have enjoyed writing them. When I finished the books I almost felt a loss as I was no longer in touch with my characters. I often wonder what Marilee could do next?

Find Barbara and her books on Goodreads here.

 

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Keeping This Writer in the Game

Sometimes I just have to walk away from all the email, the Tweets, the Friend Requests, and the hundreds of other time-stealers that threaten to take me away from my writing. I did this short video to share some of my strategies for keeping my time my own. Feel free to borrow from my ideas and to suggest your own in the comments. Here’s the link to my Facebook Page where you’ll find the short video that I posted yesterday.

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On my website you will see a few quotes from various readers about my Loyalist trilogy and I’d like to talk about one of those today. A friend of mine knows a lot about history in general and much more about the Rebellion history of Norwich; she and I spent time bicycling around that area many years ago with our young mothers’ group. No matter where we went this friend would point out places and tell the history. It was all fascinating.

With The Loyalist Legacy, I brought the Garners into my part of Ontario. I was very careful about my facts. When my friend wrote me the comment below I was so pleased I just had to put it up on my website:

“I was delighted with the way you handled the Norwich Rebellion in the last Loyalist book, Elaine, and have heard many positive comments about it.” Marie A.

I feel historical fiction can have lots of fiction in it but the details of actual history just have to be correct. Marie checked my facts as I’d written them and I checked over and over with reference books as well.

The fiction comes with adding fictional characters, places, details, and events. I remembered my daughter talking about a house where she cleaned for an old lady. One day the lady moved the kitchen table and pulled back a rug to reveal a door in the floor. She pulled it up and asked my daughter to go down and retrieve something for her. Beth took one look at the deep, dark hole with a rickety ladder leading down into the abyss and visions of that door slamming down over her flashed through her mind. My normally very compliant daughter just was not going down there. That scene was still in my mind when I wrote the story of two black former slaves at the time of the Rebellion of 1837. You’ll find that story near the end of The Loyalist Legacy.

The Garner family in the Loyalist trilogy are fictional even though they are based on and often named for my ancestors. I’ve had to decide what they might have looked like but draw on things I know about my father’s family to flesh them out. Someone has a widow’s peak and someone else has a prominent chin dimple. These family traits helped me give character to the fictional family. I’m not sure anyone in my family has ever said anything about the resemblance to my dad but it’s been fun for me.

I know my father told a story of a native woman coming to visit one of my ancestors, leaving her papoose on the porch while the two talked inside, and the child being carried off by a wild animal–bear or lynx, I’m not sure, as my cousin told me two different versions of the story. I decided to use the lynx because of the sly nature of cats and, believe it or not, the appeal of a lynx’s strange pointed tufts on its ear tips.

In the second book of the trilogy, The Loyalist’s Luck, I brought in the historical fact of the burning of Newark (present-day Niagara-on-the-Lake) but I also added a wonderfully sad story I discovered in my research. The residents had been given one hour to retrieve what they could from their homes before the Americans burned the town. This was in December, 1813, a very cold and snowy time of year in the Niagara peninsula. I found a story of an old lady, sick and unable to leave her bed, who was carried out into the street to watch as the Canadian Volunteers (siding with the Americans) burned her house to the ground. Through that old lady I was able to make my readers feel the absolute pain of war.

Another decision that just seemed to push itself into my mind was having Robert Garner, fictional brother of William, decide to sever off small sections of his land right where the present-day village of Thorndale is located, north of London, Ontario. Interestingly a relative of mine named Robert Garner did donate that land in the second part of the nineteenth century for municipal purposes and today there are playing fields and community buildings there. My niece’s house is actually located on the land donated by our relative. This has little to do with the plot of the book or even with the characters but it helped me add a layer of feeling that otherwise might not have been there as Robert suffered through his wife’s illness. I hope it helps my readers empathize with these characters who could very well have been real.

We never really know what facts or nuances from our own past will pop up in our writing. For me they are most pleasing. They make the story really my own. No one else could have written what I’ve written. There is an extra layer of richness that I feel each and every time I read from my work for audiences near and far. And there’s a connection to my family and my memories. If only history in school could have been taught from the point of view of the people involved instead of the memorize-the-six-reasons-for-whatever method.

 

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I can hardly remember back to the time when research for school essays, for tidbits to enliven the lessons I taught, and for more background about subjects that intrigued me all took place in the library. I knew the hours of all the libraries around and the best librarians to help. Even when writing my first historical novel, my librarian’s help was very important.

With the advent of the WEB, virtually any piece of information became accessible and the trips to the library were more for books to read or book clubs to join.  My research moved to my computer and to related historical museums and forts.

With those changes in mind I wanted to share some very cool things I’ve found that help me every day as a writer:

  1. I like the daily email I get from Google Alert about subjects that I’ve noted. This year being Canada’s 150th birthday and that linking so well with my Loyalist trilogy, I’ve kept abreast of everything across Canada that is remotely related. I had no idea the word loyalist was so widely used. And for many things not connected in the least to my books. Someone advised me to put in my actual titles and I did. That is how I found out about scammers offering my books for sale! A few ‘cease and desist’ letters seem to have eliminated that but Google Alert keeps an eye out for me.

  2. A virtual mecca of how-to information is at my fingertips and yours. Rather than go to manuals written in Chinese English, I now use the http line whenever I have a question about virtually anything. I just typed in ‘What is historical fiction?’ and ‘What is a musket?’. Click on the links to see the variety of sites I can explore about those topics.

  3. For my new book about Dr. Ronald G. Calhoun and his part in the Terry Fox phenomenon in 1980 and beyond, I’m looking for an agent here in Canada as both Fox and Calhoun are Canadian icons. Here’s a list of agents I found. If you are a possibility feel free to get in touch with me as my queries are going out soon.

  4. Even the magazine I get in my post office mailbox every month, The Writer, has an online version which is wonderful to receive, especially if I’m going to be traveling and can put it on my iPad. It is always full of interesting hints and full-fledged writing ideas–writerly gems, I call them. This month (November) the back page article by Allison Futterman is about television host Mike Rowe who gives writing tips in the article. He says if he didn’t have deadlines, he’d never finish anything as he is a picker who constantly makes changes: “sometimes making [the writing] better, sometimes making it worse.” Recognize yourself, anyone?

  5. Just a few weeks ago, I got an email about something called Bibliocommons. Of course I checked that out on the web and ended up submitting The Loyalist’s Wife so that the ebook version can be listed on library websites and more people will get to see my work. I don’t know how far this exposure will take me but the Bibliocommons people say every book gets read and this approval process can take 4-6 weeks.) I’m hopeful it will broaden my reach. I’m at Stratford Public Library this Saturday as part of their author group in connection with launching Bibliocommons.

This past weekend I was honoured to be speaking at the Colonel John Butler United Empire Loyalist branch in Niagara Falls. There are over twenty of these in our country and a few have engaged me as a speaker. This one was particularly thrilling as this is the largest UEL group in Canada and Colonel Butler and the whole Niagara area figure prominently in my trilogy. The members there were gracious and knowledgeable about Loyalist history. I was speaking to my peeps, you might say.

Of course I mean that as a writer of historical fiction about the Loyalists, specifically a Loyalist couple who came into Canada across the Niagara River in present-day Niagara-on-the-Lake. While that story is fictional, my own story is not. I could really relate to the Niagara group.

What is the fun I mentioned in the title? Well, Sunday we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving at our son’s home by the pool which is still open for business! Crazy weather, we’ve been having here in Ontario. My grandson and I had a lovely few moments talking about rocks and shells and semi-precious stones as he showed me his burgeoning collection. It was all fun and I hope my Canadian friends had similar moments of Thanksgiving over the weekend.

 

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