To Prologue or NOT To Prologue? That is the Question

This is another great blog post which might help many writers. It’s written by Kristen Lamb and does answer many of my questions. I’m sure I won’t be the only author who learns a lot from this article.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Image via Flikr Creative Commons, via Mikko Luntiala Image via Flikr Creative Commons, via Mikko Luntiala

Publishing, like most other things, is not immune to fashion. This is what makes teaching craft a moving target. What is en vogue today could be passé tomorrow. And yes we are artists, but I believe most of us are artists who’ve grown rather fond of eating. This means we do need to keep audience tastes in mind when we are “creating” since they will be the ones who fork over cold hard cash.

Today we will touch on a question I get a lot from new writers.

To prologue or not to prologue? That is the question.

The problem with the prologue is it has kind of gotten a bad rap over the years, especially with agents. They generally hate them. Why? In my opinion, it is because far too many writers don’t use prologues properly and that, in itself, has…

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A.J. Alexander is spreading her wings

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Picture courtesy of:


When I decided to step out into the world of social media I did research. I, as well got tips and tricks, checklists as also read as many “user manuals for beginners” as I could before even getting anything done.


In March I started “Writer’s Treasure Chest”. Since then I try to write, research and build as well as find as many helpful blog posts and articles for new authors as I can to share them. I grow with every step I take. This is a once in a lifetime experience and I try to consciously enjoy every single part of the journey. I am discovering a new world, the writer’s world.


As so many other newcomers I had not considered the social media work, marketing, sales-preparation and networking hiding behind being a writer. Being a published author will not take the pressure from me to spread word about my work as far and wide as possible. This will need time and great efforts and that’s why I need to spread my wings and fly.


It is difficult sometimes to read a list of recommendations, ask another expert or experienced author for more advice and then listen to exactly the opposite. Plus getting a 30 minute speech on why my “How to…”-list will never work.


Step by step I opened accounts on:


At this moment I work on my personal website. It does have its own domain and is a big piece of work. I want this website to turn out perfect. It will need a little more time and “juggling” with the elements, but I’m sure I’ll be there soon. It needs some fantasy to create a Website before being published. So many authors do have their books on the “My work” page.  But I guess I did well considering the circumstances. I’ll let you all judge in due time.

September 19, 2015 I finally created my Facebook Author page. Of course I used a list with advice. In case you decide to check out the page and give it a “like” I will be grateful. And of course I welcome any advice for changes you might have.

As for now, I took in another challenge: My first Newsletter! I’m excited to announce I will send it out Mid-October. Of course I would love to send it out to as many people as possible. If you’d like to receive my newsletter, I’d be delighted to see you subscribing to my email list:

Please, click the icon to subscribe.
Please, click the icon to subscribe.

I’d love to hear you felt the need to check out if I followed my own researches and did an acceptable “newcomer” newsletter.

Thank you for your subscription!

Fairy Tales reloaded – PG16

Since I started “Writer’s Treasure Chest” I have been posting about “Modernizing Grimm’s Fairy Tales” as well as about “Fear of the Big Bad Wolf”.Today I will “lay hands” on our most favorite Disney Princesses. I hope you will forgive me the blasphemy.

When I wrote the blog post about Modernizing Grimm’s Fairy Tales I have been thinking about whether the old tales would still work in our modern time. I was not considering to change them in a matter of sense. And of course I would not dream about literally “laying hands” on them. Today I found out someone already had.

I’m talking about L.A. based artist Andrew Tarusov  who “re-created” our amazing Disney princesses in a unique and most “adult way”. Seeing his artwork and not starting to plan how the Fairy tales could be re-written around these new personalities was absolutely impossible for me. (And yes, I did blush a little).

Eventually writing the re-vamped (pun intended) stories around these newly bloomed beauties might more be something for a real erotica-writer than for me. But I still find the artwork irresistible and felt like sharing it.

Of course you will find the pictures on Andrew Tarisov’s Disney Princess Gallery! Enjoy!

Have you ever seen Anna and Elsa hot and sexy – instead of “Frozen”? Even Olaf threatens to melt…


I figure this Prince is quite enthusiastic finding a PinUp goddess in this bed. The way she’s dressed is giving the expression “laid out” a whole new meaning.


After Merida was re-created by Disney some mothers and even daughters started to complain how much her new hairstyle was more accurate for a Victoria’s Secret model her waistline was too thin, her cheekbones too high, her neckline too low and that she got too sexy… I cannot resist imagining what these people would say seeing her cleavage now! Even the bear seems happy.


Whoo hoo! Jasmine seems quite comfy with her cuddly kitty…. What a hot presentation.


I wonder if Peter Pan ever had imagined his Tinker Bell taking a “cup-bath” with nothing on than a huge smile.


Does Tiana really need to kiss that frog? I would guess one look at her garter belt will be enough to line up the princes.


Arielle has even sacrificed her fishtail to look sexier. And her good friend Sebastian helping her covering up… with his shears – and a wide grin.


Didn’t Belle always seem to be so cute, nice and a fervent advocate of non-violence? Now we know better. She really knows how to tame the beast, doesn’t she?


Rapunzel’s strategically placed hair. I fear for any prince seeing her like this, a heart attack is in sight…


Okay – here we go… Hot, hotter, Snow White.  All I see at the moment is one really, really happy dwarf.


In my opinion Andrew Tarisov did a great job with his artwork. And please, should any author decide to re-write one of these fairy tales around the new sexy protagonist, don’t forget to tell me. I’d love to read it.

Another step forward

This week I opened my blog and found you had all awarded me with another great gift! My blog “Writer’s Treasure Chest” got 1337 Likes!





I wanted to thank you for making this possible! Thank you for this amazing adventure you permitted me to experience. Thank you for your help, your interest in this blog and all your “Likes”.

Thank you for making “Writer’s Treasure Chest” a pleasure and a success for me!


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Picture courtesy of:


Author Spotlight – Elaine Cougler


Elaine_CouglerBorn and raised in the heart of Southwestern Ontario’s dairy country, Elaine is a graduate of Western University and a former high school teacher. She taught French, English and Computer Studies at various schools across the province. Writing is Elaine’s pleasure and her obsession. She has written two books of family memories, a cookbook, a children’s book, and her two historical novels: The Loyalist’s Wife, which was published in June of 2013, and the sequel, The Loyalist’s Luck, launched in October, 2014. She is currently working on the third in the Loyalist trilogy, The Loyalist Legacy. The Loyalist’s Wife was shortlisted in the Inspire! Toronto International Book Fair’s Self-Publishing Awards. A lover of people and especially writers, Elaine is the winner of the 2014 WCDR Pay It Forward scholarship and delights in speaking to groups large and small. Her teaching skills make her a natural at leading workshops on writing, speaking on various related topics, and answering the questions of book club readers. On Becoming a Wordsmith is Elaine’s writing blog where she writes about the journey to publication and beyond.


  • When did you start writing?

I started writing in Grade 5 with a straight pen, a dipping inkwell and a blotter to clean up the mess. Oops! I think you mean when did I start WRITING? Sorry. I was creative as a child and received a lot of encouragement from my Grade 12 English teacher but I didn’t really start on my current path until I left teaching. My son said to me, “If not now, when?” and I started writing novels. 


  • What motivates you to write?

I love words. I love juggling them, softening them, slicing through them and making people cry with them. No, I’m not a masochist but humans seem to internalize ideas more if those ideas touch emotions. To write like this touches my own emotions. 


  • What genre do you write in and what made you chose this particular genre?

I am currently writing the third book in my Loyalist trilogy (historical fiction) which carries a family through the American Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the chaos in Upper Canada (Ontario) leading up to the Rebellion of 1837. Writing the stories of real and fictional people against the backdrop of history helps me internalize those struggles of my own ancestors. That these events actually happened makes the stories seem more real to me. Hopefully, my readers feel the same. 


  • What is your goal in writing? Do you have dreams where your writing should take you?

Just now my goal is to finish the trilogy! So far this has been a nine-year journey from inception to publication of the first two books. I want to write well but I mostly want to tell a good story. My readers often tell me I keep them up at night because they can’t put my books down. This fulfills my writing dreams for now. Of course, there may be new ideas percolating in the back of my brain. I always like to be planning. 


  • Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if yes, how do you deal with it?

Every writer, depending on how they define writer’s block, suffers from it in some measure. I never stare at the proverbial blank page wondering what to write. I do, however, struggle to just write and not worry how great my words are or even if they’ll survive editing. One way I keep going is to reread my pages from the day before, massaging and seeing if the words flow, and that just gets my head back into the story and the history so that continuing the writing often just happens. Learning to accept that my words may not be perfect and that’s okay has been a freeing concept for this perfectionist!  


  • What advice would you like to give new, hopeful authors?

Listen to everyone’s advice for a good long time and then, once you’ve studied and learned and gained the chops, trust your own judgement. You know what you’re trying to achieve. Go for it! 


  • Please, tell us about your work.

Here’s a paragraph from the back cover of The Loyalist’s Wife which shows my heartfelt themes and my reason for writing:

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. 


Thank you for being my guest. It was such a pleasure to have you here!!

Connect with Elaine Cougler



Twitter:        @ElaineCougler


Blog:               “On Becoming a Wordsmith”




Elaine’s Books

The Loyalist's Wife_cover_Apr19.indd








The Loyalist’s Luck_cover_apr1.indd



Using Dialogue to Create Dimensional Characters

This is a fantastic blog post about creating dimensional characters and effectively using dialogue, written by author Kristen Lamb. Well worth a read.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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So last time we talked about the basics in regards to dialogue and once we grasp the fundamentals—like proper punctuation—we then can focus more on elements of style. How we deliver the dialogue.

We can tell a lot about people by the way they speak. What people say or don’t say speaks volumes. As the writer, it is our job to understand our characters and to know who they are and how they think. We have to master the art of empathy. If we don’t, our dialogue will all sound like US talking. Writing, in many ways is a lot like method acting. We have to crawl inside the head and the psyche of our cast.

Not as easy as it might seem.

Dialogue done well is the stuff of legends though. Think of favorite movies. Why do we love them SO much? Very often…dialogue.

My name is Inigo Montoya…

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Author Spotlight – Joshua Robertson

The_Dragon_TempestThe Dragon Tempest offers a collection of short stories in a variety of fantasy genres, including dark, light, adventure, and epic. Creatures from all worlds abound: dragons, angels, centaurs, witches, gods and goddesses, and those lurking below the water’s surface. Whether you’re moved by tales of battle and bloodshed, suspense, humor, or enlightenment, The Dragon Tempest will leave you craving more from each author. Such a diversity of great fantasy tales to enjoy will leave no room for disappointment. 



Allison D. Reid

KJ Hawkins

D.B. Mauldin

Joshua Robertson




1st Place Winners

Christine King

Katie Roxberry

Winter Bayne

Jane Dougherty

Wilson F. Engel, III


2nd Place Winners

Christine Haggerty

Randall Lemon

Deborah Jean Anderson

J. Abram Barneck

Louise Findlay


3rd Place Winners

Samuel Milner

Karen Brown


Ebook Buy Links: 




Barnes & Noble:  

Paperback Buy Link: Createspace:



Joshua_Robertson_AuthorPic1Author Bio:

Joshua began crafting the world for the dark fantasy series, Thrice Nine Legends, in 1999. Melkorka, the first book of The Kaelandur Series, was published in 2015. The sequel is due to be released in 2016. In October 2015, a standalone novel in the same world [80 years prior to the events in Melkorka], called Anaerfell, will be available. Joshua currently lives in Alaska with his wife and children.






Welcome Joshua Robertson 


  1. When did you start writing? 

I started writing snippets of fantasy and horror around the age of nine, had a collection of poetry and short stories by fifteen, and had completed my first fantasy novel at seventeen. Recently, I have published a couple of books and started my own small press, Crimson Edge Press.


  1. What motivates you to write?

Most of my inspiration comes from dreams that I have had throughout my lifetime. It has been rare, if ever, that I have written about a real life experience or encounter with another person. Sometimes, I will be motivated by a movie or a song, too.


  1. What genre do you write in and what made you chose this particular genre? 

I write dark fantasy and epic fantasy novels. I have always been interested in all things fantasy related, whether that be novels, movies, or tabletop games. I think the lessons learned through imagination can strongly influence our perception on the world around us.


  1. What is your goal in writing? Do you have dreams where your writing should take you? 

I mostly want to just keep writing and be able to tell my story. Writing is something I will do until the day I die. I will not retire from writing.


  1. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if yes, how do you deal with it? 

When I cannot write, I try to focus on building the plot or further outlining my characters. I find that this helps get the creative juices flowing once more.


  1. What advice would you like to give new, hopeful authors? 

Keep writing.


  1. Please, tell us about your work.  

MelkorkaCoverMelkorka, a story about a slave becoming a hero, is the first book in The Kaelandur Series on Amazon. A Midwinter Sellsword and Gladiators and Thieves are two short stories which follow a slave trapped in a corrupt city in the Hawkhurst Saga. And lasty, Anaerfell, will be available on October 31, 2015. It is the story about two brothers who battle the God of the Dead for their tyrannical father and his desire to become immortal.


Thank you for being my guest. It was such a pleasure to have you here!! 

Connect with Joshua Robertson:


Author’s Website URL/Blog:


Author’s Social Media & Additional Links





Crimson Edge

MidwinterCoverBuyer’s links:

BUY: Melkorka

BUY: A Midwinter Sellsword

BUY: Gladiators and Thieves

BUY: Grimsdalr












How to grab readers!

Within this blog post is some excellent advice, shared by Jean Cogdell. and written by Christine Frazier. It seems it works quite well too, that’s what one of the authors says – and I’m sure he isn’t the only one. Make sure to click the link Jean provided and read the entire article.

Jean's Writing

With a great book blurb on your back cover!

book-coverI don’t know about y’all, but I read the back cover before I buy a book. If I’m downloading an ebook I read the excerpt too. What do you read before a book purchase?

Last week I posted links for those of you out there getting close to publishing.

The following article is a great follow-up.

I got more from the article than just writing a good back cover blurb. The way 

The book blurb is broken down with an index card style that makes doing your own a breeze. She makes weaving in the hook and back story simple breaking it down into sentences and word count.

Christine then goes a step further with the help of a brave volunteer and…

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9 Ways to Improve Your Dialogue

This is an excellent and very useful blog post written by author and CEO of WANA International Kristen Lamb.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Image courtesy of Flikr Creative Commons

Sorry to be away so long. Been a weird couple of weeks getting Spawn ready for the BIG K—Kindergarten. Uniforms and doctors and immunizations and vision/hearing tests (and yes, apparently he CAN hear, he is just ignoring us). I am still unaccustomed to so much quiet. For those who are curious, YES I was going to homeschool, but we found a super cool private school where he is in a class of TEN and he loves it. He was getting lonely and kept asking to go to school so he could be with other kids, so I figured we’d give it a shot. So far so good.

He is now Spawn, The Most Interesting Kid in the World….

The Most Interesting Kid in the World...

Back to writing…

Today we are going to talk about a subject that I don’t think I have ever blogged about. Dialogue. Great dialogue is one of the most vital components of…

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Writers and their cats

Lately I found out that quite a few of the most famous authors in the world have or had cats. Some used them as companions, others as inspiration.


Among them was Ernest Hemingway, who said about cats: “A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.”


Joyce Carol Oates, award-winning novelist and Pulitzer price nominee says about cats: “I write so much because my cat sits on my lap. She purrs so I don’t want to get up. She’s so much more calming than my husband.”
Mark Twain used to say about cats: “When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.” And “I simply can’t resist a cat, particularly a purring one. They are the cleanest, cunningest, and most intelligent things I know, outside of the girl you love, of course.”


Sylvia Plath, Edgar Allan Poe as well as T. S. Eliot were all known as cat owners.


William S. Burroughs was a devout cat lover who called them his “psychic companions,” and described them as “natural enemies of the state.” He wrote a book, The Cat Inside, where he wrote lovingly of his companions such as Calico Jane, Fletch, Rooski, Wimpy, and Ed.


Many more famous authors like Jean Cocteau, Stephen King and Jean Paul Sartre were inspired by cats.


What I was wondering about is: What is it with writers and cats? Why seem authors and cats connect so easily? There are as many theories as writers, I would say. A few possible explanations might be:


  • Cats lower high blood pressure

A study shows that people with high blood pressure who adopted a cat had been significantly improving. There are lots of theories, but fact is, nobody ever could explain biologically or medically why cats lower blood pressure. It is suspected that having someone on your side, someone non-judgmental, creates a psychologically beneficial atmosphere.


  • Cats help dealing with loneliness and stress

On days when you feel depressed, hopeless, down, lonely, sad, discouraged, or just have the “blahs,” spending time with your cat can be a real pick-me-up.


  • Cats purrs can improve health

When a cat purrs within a range of 20-140 Hertz, nearby humans may be therapeutically benefiting from these vibrations. Purring has been linked to lowering stress, decreasing symptoms of Dyspnoea, lessening the chances of having a heart attack, and even strengthening bones. Besides: purrs have a calming effect on most humans.


  • Companionship

As we authors know, quite often writing is a “lonely” business. While we might feel disturbed by permanent chatting, radio, TV sets, loud music and so on… very often we don’t mind a cat sitting on our desk and silently enjoying our company. In a situation like this cats don’t expect much attention. They just want to be with us, sharing the silence and once in a while carefully watching what we do. We all know they will have their few playful minutes, rolling across our papers or use their paws to throw our pens to the ground. But isn’t it just in moments like this time for a break?


To me these reasons might be as good or bad as any others. They might not even be particularly connected to authors. But it seems sometimes that an author’s cat is exceptionally deeply connected with the writer. The silent friendship they develop might be a reason for the strong mental connection between them. Maybe this is one of the secrets why the bond between an author and a cat becomes this deep and intense: the author’s gratefulness to the cat’s calming and naturally given presence.


I am quite convinced William S. Burroughs had it right when he said: “The cat does not offer services. The cat offers itself.”

And that Helen Thomson too knew what she was talking about: “A cat does not want all the world to love her — only those she has chosen to love.”

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Picture courtesy of: