Mystery Mondays: Elaine Cougler with 7 Reasons Why Writers Need To Be Speakers

This week on Mystery Mondays, it is my great pleasure to host author Elaine Cougler. Elaine was one of the very first authors to connect with me when I first started writing a blog. Years have gone by, and we still support each other in our work. It’s a wonderful thing to have a friend I’ve never met but feel like I know.

Elaine first appeared on Mystery Mondays in November 2016 with a post about Linking History and Fiction.

Today, she’s here with another topic.

7 Reasons Writers Need To Be Speakers by Elaine Cougler

Screen Shot 2017-05-28 at 4.46.58 PMWhen I first talked to Kristina about appearing on her Monday Mystery blog, we discussed a new book I was working to finish and that this would be a lovely place to write about it. As sometimes happens in this writing life my muse took a holiday and left me to click clack on the keyboard alone; hence, I have no new book to announce just yet.

What I do have, though, is the voice of experience—my experience with my first three books, my Loyalist trilogy, and their marketing.

I made the mistake most new writers make in not paying attention to marketing until after I had the book published. I was busy enough I thought. Then three weeks into my new life as a published author receiving book orders from friends and family—all so supportive—I got the call to speak at a meeting in my city. And I could take my books to sell.

Coming into that event I had twenty-five years experience as a high school teacher and many more years as a singer, both “on-stage” pursuits that helped me battle the nerves and just have fun with my audience. Well that particular meeting changed my life.

I took my place at the podium with the mic and the electronic pointer for my slides. I’d barely begun when one of the men—the audience was all men—walked to the front of the room close to where I was. Distraction. I ignored it. In a moment he was up there again and this time my teacher voice kicked in. “There’s one in every class.” I laughed and pointed at the offender. The all male audience roared. I relaxed and so did they. And the man stayed in his seat from then on.

This incident shows that even though they all knew each other and most certainly knew this man, they shared a characteristic of all audiences. They wanted me, their guest speaker, to succeed. And they could see this man’s distraction. They loved it when I took over the stage and made it my own. As author-speakers we need to remember the audience is with us. They are most comfortable when we speakers succeed.

Here are a few other points that might convince all of us writers to be ready to talk about our books:

  1. Our books compete with literally millions of other new titles published in the world each year. We have to try to stand out in order to even be noticed. We can do that on stage.
  2. There’s nothing like personal contact where potential readers can hear about our stories right from the author’s lips. A smile goes a long way.
  3. A speaker has a captive audience. What a great way to engage potential readers who may want to give your book a try.
  4. We get to read excerpts from our books and if we’re smart we’ll pick parts that end with a cliffhanger. I have one chapter that ends with Lucy having a nightmare. I ended it with her sitting up in bed and the last line is “Someone was in the room.” My audience wants to know what happens and I sell books.
  5. If you publicize your event, you get publicity even if not everyone who reads the ad comes to your event. I do this on Facebook a lot. That reminds me that I’ve got to put an event for this Saturday up there! (I’m helping my friend who has a recording studio do a workshop on recording books. He did mine.)
  6. You meet others who can add to your own knowledge about your subject. This happens to me because I write historical fiction and it also leads me to other gigs. Check your own area for clubs such as reading clubs, historical groups, book clubs, library clubs, church groups, Women’s Institute or similar groups, ancestry groups, schools and any other organizations whose purpose relates to your book. Because I’ve written about the Loyalists, many of those Canadian groups have contacted me, eager to engage about our common loyalist ancestry.
  7. People will introduce you to their friends as a writer. You need to have your 15-second elevator pitch down cold because they will ask what you write about. And be excited, not apologetic. Let your eyes shine. You’ll see soon enough who wants to hear more and who is not the slightest bit interested. It’s okay. Not everyone is a reader. At book selling events I often ask people who are kind enough to stop at my table if they are readers. If they say no, that’s fine. They may buy books for someone who is a reader. The trick is to find out. And not to be pushy!

The audience does want you to succeed. And you want to give them what they want. Take the time to practice your talk. Get comfortable with it. If you go for a prepared speech, make sure you don’t just read it. Mark places to look up, engage your audience with questions, let them see you’re a person. You can even do self-deprecating humour where you laugh at yourself.

I often mention the catalyst for this journey of mine, my son, who asked me if there was anything I wished I had done in my life that I hadn’t yet tackled. I answered, “Write a novel.” He replied with a long list of my accomplishments, which I tell them, and then I interject “I think he wanted money or something.” They laugh. And I go on with his final bit “If not now, when?” It really was the catalyst. The next week I bought How to Write and Sell Your First Novel and I was off on this great self-defining adventure.

All three books in the Loyalist trilogy are available on Amazon.

Screen Shot 2017-05-28 at 4.45.25 PMAfter the crushing end of the War of 1812, William and Catherine Garner find their allotted two hundred acres in Nissouri Township by following the Thames River into the wild heart of Upper Canada. On their valuable land straddling the river, dense forest, wild beasts, displaced Natives, and pesky neighbors daily challenge them. The political atmosphere laced with greed and corruption threatens to undermine all of the new settlers’ hopes and plans. William knows he cannot take his family back to Niagara but he longs to check on his parents from whom he has heard nothing for two years. Leaving Catherine and their children, he hurries back along the Governor’s Road toward the turn-off to Fort Erie, hoping to return home in time for spring planting.

With spectacular scenes of settlers recovering from the wartime catastophes in early Screen Shot 2017-05-28 at 4.46.11 PMOntario, Elaine Cougler shows a different kind of battle, one of ordinary people somehow finding the inner resources to shape new lives and a new country. The Loyalist Legacy delves further into the history of the Loyalists as they begin to disagree on how to deal with the injustices of the powerful “Family Compact” and on just how loyal to Britain they want to remain.

 

Elaine low reswww.elainecougler.com

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Mystery Mondays: Elaine Cougler on Linking History and Fiction

When I first started blogging, long before I was published, Elaine Cougler was one of the first author’s I met online. She’s been encouraging me ever since, so it’s a great pleasure to finally have her on Mystery Mondays.

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Linking History and Fiction Through Theme

by Elaine Cougler

One of the things I like to do in my books is to show the strengths of ordinary people, fictional though they may be. Putting them in ever more dangerous and extraordinary situations allows me to do just that. In The Loyalist Legacy, for example, Lucy has to find a way to get her husband released from jail where he has been wrongly imprisoned with not so much as a charge against him. Oh, she learns why those in power are holding him. He has helped far too many simple settlers with legal problems over their land in the burgeoning Niagara communities, all too often going against the rich and powerful. In a rough country where democracy is still just an idea, the high-and-mighty rule.

A good shot with her very own rifle, Lucy is the mother of a grown family with grandchildren on both sides of the Niagara River. On more than one occasion she has shown her mettle, but now she yearns for what she had thought would be quiet years with her husband. Instead, she and John are still struggling, this time with their own British government in Upper Canada.

The day John was seized from their mill near Fort Erie, she rushed to Niagara (present-day Niagara-on-the-Lake) thinking John would be released immediately. It didn’t happen. This circumstance gave me, as the author, the chance to have Lucy meet Richard Beasley, the real person who owned the land on Burlington Bay, which the British actually seized as a marshalling station and army camp during the War of 1812.

Beasley’s mostly true story became one of the subplots in this third novel in the trilogy.

Here is the scene where Lucy meets Richard Beasley.

 Lucy lay on the lumpy bed as the snow beat against Aaron’s newly installed glass windowpane and tried to keep the tears from coming again. John had told her to forget about him. He worried that her constant running back and forth from the inn to the jail would aggravate her paining joints. “Go back home, Lucy,” he’d said week in and week out the past three months.

“But I can’t!” Her voice echoed in the bare room. How she ached to have him with her. She rolled over once again, taking care with her right knee. Her latest patchwork quilt at least kept her warm and reminded her of better times.

In the morning she would try to get the jailer to let her bring food to John. His hands were so bony and his trousers so loose, she knew they weren’t feeding him much at all. She would make that jailer listen to reason!

The rebuilt Angel Inn, burned with almost every building in Niagara that December of 1813, this morning bustled with travelers and local hangers-on, all slurping their steaming bowls of porridge and gulping tankards of ale as though they hadn’t eaten or drunk for days. Aaron was back in the kitchen dishing up orders while Lucy rushed as best she could from table to table, side-stepping the boots protruding into the aisles and the arms flung out to emphasize some important point in a customer’s harrowing story.

Her mind was on her plan this morning. That jailer would listen or she would—well, she didn’t know what she would do but she would convince him to let her give John the bowl of porridge she would carry with her. Maybe she’d take two and bribe the jailer with his very own. Ah, that’s a good idea.

“Watch what you’re doing, woman!”

She tripped and fell right into the table, upsetting the bowl of porridge she carried all over the men’s food. “I’m so sorry, gentlemen!” With her cloth she wiped up the mess. “I’ll get more. I wasn’t thinking…Please forgive me.” She couldn’t stop talking and felt the heat spread from her face all down her front, adding to her embarrassment.

“Madam, do not worry.” The well-dressed man’s voice soothed as he spoke. “This is just a trifle. Do not concern yourself.”

She looked up. The speaker was the ruddy-faced, white-haired man she’d noticed when he came in. He smiled at her. He still had most of his teeth. The table put back to rights, she picked up her cloth and curtsied quickly. “Thank you, sir,” she whispered in a voice so soft she wondered if he could even hear it.

But he did. “Landlord! Give this woman a shot of brandy. She’s pale as a ghost.”

The Loyalist Legacy.

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When the War of 1812 is finally over William and Catherine Garner flee the desolation of Niagara and find in the wild heart of Upper Canada their two hundred acres straddling the Thames River. On this valuable land, dense forests, wild beasts, disgruntled Natives, and pesky neighbors daily challenge them. The political atmosphere laced with greed and corruption threatens to undermine all of the new settlers’ hopes and plans. William cannot take his family back to Niagara, but he longs to check on his parents from whom he has heard nothing for two years. Leaving Catherine and the children, he hurries along the Governor’s Road toward the turn-off to Fort Erie, hoping to return in time for spring planting.

With realistic insights into the challenging lives of Ontario’s early settlers, Elaine Cougler once again draws readers into the Loyalists’ struggles to build homes, roads, and relationships, and their growing dissension as they move ever closer to another war. The Loyalist Legacy shows us the trials faced by ordinary people who conquer unbelievable hardships and become extraordinary in the process.

Praise for Elaine Cougler’s writing:

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“….absolutely fascinating….Cougler doesn’t hold back on the gritty realities of what a couple might have gone through at this time, and gives a unique view of the Revolutionary War that many might never have considered.”

Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews.

“….an intriguing story”                                             A Bookish Affair

 

“I highly recommend this book for any student of history or anyone just looking for a wonderful story.”

Book Lovers Paradise –“Elaine’s storytelling is brave and bold.”                       Oh, for the Hook of a Book

Oh, for the Hook of a Book

BUY THE BOOK LINK: https://www.amazon.com/Loyalist-Legacy-Trilogy/dp/1539451283/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1478040721&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Loyalist+Legacy+Elaine+Cougler

ABOUT THE AUTHOR + LINK TO MY SITE http://www.elainecougler.com/news/author-bio/

VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR LOGO AND SCHEDULE http://www.elainecougler.com/

Elaine Cougler can be found on Twitter, Facebook Author Page, LinkedIn and on her blog at http://www.elainecougler.com/blog/