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How to Make History Live and Breathe Again

The Loyalists' Luck Bookmark1

This past weekend my little part of the world banded together and presented a magnificent slice of our history in a way which quite caught my attention. Two hundred years ago, when the War of 1812 was at its height, Oxford on the Thames suffered two attacks led by the famous American sympathizer, Andrew Westbrook. This disgruntled man led American soldiers right to mills, homes, farms and military leaders to burn out his neighbours, even setting alight his own farm before scurrying back across the border with  his family in tow.

Saturday and Sunday’s events included re-enactments, period displays, free museum tours, a play about the famous Tecumseh, cricket lessons, and even  burnings of buildings to commemorate like activities during the War of 1812. Preacher. Enoch Burdick, played by Rev. Jim Evans, held a Sunday morning church service which was followed by a well-attended replay of Westbrook’s attacks on this area. It was pointed out that the mill, which was the main target of the attacks, stood mere feet away from where we spectators lounged on the grass in the sun and watched the proceedings. If only the ground could tell its stories.

I so enjoyed everything presented but especially the private conversations I shared with many of the re-enacters taking part. Their historical knowledge and their fervour for what they do were thrilling, especially to an historical writer such as myself. They know details about clothing and the way of life back then which fascinate me and I never know when I’ll hear some tidbit which sparks my imagination.

While the marking of the War of 1812 has been going on for two years now, I still found things I haven’t done to commemorate it. In the Route 1812 Map & Guide which I picked up at Beachville Museum, much of Southern Ontario is mapped out with pertinent historical spots to visit and the trails (as they were in the day) to get there. I know my husband and I will be following these in the next few weeks, whenever we can.

You can see some of this on the website, www.westerncorridor1812.com. Just remember that this is our history but by no means is it our present-day situation. Canada and the United States went on to forge a friendly relationship which boasts between our two countries the longest undefended border in the world. We are living proof that differences can be solved and peace attained.

This week, as I put the final touches on the second book in the Loyalist trilogy, The Loyalist’s Luck,  I, too, am revisiting our history of two hundred years ago. Here is the blurb about this novel, scheduled for release in October:

When the Revolutionary War turns in favor of the Americans, John and Lucy flee across the Niagara River with almost nothing. They begin again in Butlersburg, a badly supplied British outpost surrounded by endless trees and rivers, and the mighty roar of the giant falls not far off. He is off on a secret mission for Colonel Butler and she is left behind with her young son and pregnant once again. In the camp full of distrust, hunger, and poverty, word has seeped out that John has gone over to the American side and only two people will associate with Lucy—her friend, Nellie, who delights in telling her all the current gossip, and Sergeant Crawford, who refuses to set the record straight and clear John’s name. To make matters worse, the sergeant has made improper advances toward Lucy. With John’s reputation besmirched, she must walk a thin line depending as she does on the British army, and Sergeant Crawford, for her family’s very survival.

 With vivid scenes of heartbreak and betrayal, heroism and shattered hopes, Elaine Cougler takes us into the hearts and homes of Loyalists still fighting for their beliefs, and draws poignant scenes of families split by political borders. The Loyalist’s Luck shows us the courage of ordinary people who, in perilous times, become extraordinary.

The Loyalist’s Luck_cover_apr1.indd

 

For All Lovers of Historical Fiction

Available in October: The Loyalist’s Luck, the second book in The Loyalist Trilogy

Available Now: The Loyalist’s Wife, the first book in The Loyalist Trilogy

by Elaine Cougler, winner of the WCDR 2014 Pay It Forward Scholarship

The Loyalist's Wife_Kindle_1563x2500

Purchase The Loyalist’s Wife on Amazon here.

 
 

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5 Benefits of Reading a Great Book

One of my Book Journals

One of my Book Journals

Just now I’m getting back into reading wonderful fiction. Last week I finally read The Red Tent by Anita Diamant and currently Paris by Edward Rutherfurd is occupying my evenings.

I know, I know. I’m an author and should be reading all the time.  Well, I am. It’s just that much of what I read is books about writing and research books for my novels.

The irony is huge, isn’t it? Before I started turning out novels, I read voraciously. No matter how many essays I marked or lessons I prepared, I always read fiction at night for at least thirty minutes before turning out the light. And now, as often as not, at night I play with my iPad for about ten minutes and then sleep.

So when do I read fiction?

Well, sometimes I don’t. And that saddens me. I’ve even stopped writing comments about all the books I read in my book journal.

This summer I decided to change all that. The tall stack by on my night table just got so large I had to do something about it. And, guess what! I have a new habit. In the afternoon after my computer has lost its appeal and my eyes start to flutter, I find my book and the couch and I read. The world opens up just for me.

5 Benefits of Reading a Great Book

  1. I learn about something or somewhere I never knew before. Rutherfurd’s books on Ireland were wonderful and made my trip there so much richer. I’ll never forget leaning over the case in Trinity College library which held the actual Book of Kells, illuminated by monks in ancient times.
  2. Whatever is happening in my life takes a back seat to the riveting story I find in the pages. A wonderful release that is, especially when kids are hollering or televisions blaring. I just go off by myself and escape into another world.
  3. Reading good books makes for great conversation when socializing. And, of course, now that I’m speaking to so many groups about my own books, the titles of favourite books often come up. Being able to discuss a book I’ve loved with others does two things: it shows me others who like what I like, and it often teaches me something new about a book I’ve read.
  4. As a writer I am always watching to see how another author has worked his/her behind-the-scenes magic to create literature. And this is a learning thing for me, often showing me how I might solve one of my own writing problems. Oh, I don’t mean I plagiarize, but the techniques are there to be learned.
  5. I love to see words or phrases an author has used in an unusual way. These add texture to the story every bit as much as the plot, characters, and setting. Of course the trick is to use my own creativity and do something unique in my own writing without having those phrases interrupt my storytelling.

Now that I’ve reminded you of the glories of reading, I must go and pick up Paris again.

 

For All Lovers of Historical Fiction

Available Now: The Loyalist’s Wife, the first book in The Loyalist Trilogy

by Elaine Cougler, winner of the WCDR 2014 Pay It Forward Scholarship

The Loyalist's Wife_Kindle_1563x2500

Purchase The Loyalist’s Wife on Amazon here.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on July 30, 2014 in General

 

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How To Publish and Keep Control

IMG_2433_editedSo you write a book, and it takes you a year, and you think the next step is handing it to a publisher. That’s what I thought seven years ago. And then came revision, character arcs, economy of words, and a host of other writing no-no’s and must-do’s.

For five of my six years to publication, traditional publishing was absolutely the way I wanted to go. The marvellous books I’d read were published by the big houses, and I longed to follow that tradition.

Throughout all the conferences, workshops, online searches, critique groups (even one I started myself), and connections with writers, I dreamed of finding a publisher. I pitched, queried, rewrote and rewrote and rewrote. Somewhere along the way, however, I learned something else. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2014 in General, Writing Tips

 

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A Writer’s Day

Sentinel article pictureHave you ever stamped your feet and pulled at your untidy locks, so frustrated that you can’t get your writing done? Well, many of us have, maybe not in quite so graphic a manner but in some way.

And we’ve been through a lot of versions of a writer’s perfect day, too. We’ve tried out a lot of routines and roadways, all with one goal: to get that book or short story or blog post or whatever completed along with all the other things writers need to do.

Here is my day from yesterday. It was one of my better ones. Perhaps it will help you decide what your perfect writing day is.

7:00-9:00 a.m.  Rose, ate breakfast at computer checking email and playing a little FreeCell. Showered, dressed, put on makeup so I was ready for the world. (It’s my work day!)

9:00-9:30 a.m. Erased crap emails and those which require nothing further.

9:30-11:30 a.m.Sat at computer making revisions to my work in progress. This is where I look up things like whether ‘nail’ was used in 1790 or how men dressed their hair at that time. I also rewrite bits I’ve noted in the fifty pages I’ve marked up in preparation for this computer session.

11:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m  Made and ate lunch while watching some mind-numbing TV which gave me a rest from my WIP.

12:00-2:00 p.m. More revisions as above. (I stopped when I had three pages left in a chapter because my shoulders had had enough!)

2:00-2:30 p.m.Set up my laptop and projector to test my PowerPoint presentation for the night’s speaking gig. Packed up everything I would need: computer, video projector, extension cord, books to sell, bookmarks, signs, sign-up sheets for my quarterly newsletter, and sheets of lovely quotes from readers.

2:30-3:00 p.m. Washed large window and blinds in my office, a great way to relax those computer-aching muscles and get some housecleaning done!

3:00-4:00 p.m. Read a few pages out of The Writer Magazine. Got dressed for the evening gig. Added sparkly bits but declined the heels as it was to be a small room. (I opted for comfort.)

4:00-4:40 p.m. Relaxed while waiting for my driver, a friend who had arranged this event.

4:40-6:00 p.m. Rode to near Hamilton the scenic way through small villages, winding roads, and greening fields. Followed the Grand River and saw where it had overflowed in the last few days.

6:00-7:00 p.m. Had a light supper at an amazing little bistro next to our venue.

7:00-7:30 p.m. Set up my equipment and got myself a glass of water. Lots of people to meet and chat with as I worked with my friend’s wonderful help.

7:30-8:30 p.m. Show time! Lovely introduction, great audience, good comments and questions. This was one of those appreciative groups who really were interested in my talk. Yay!

8:30-9:00 p.m. Sold books, talked to audience members, had them fill out slips for my newsletter, packed up, and said our good-byes.

9:00-10:00 p.m. We took the short way home, chatting all the way. There’s nothing better than being with a good friend whose brain functions on superior levels. She is a treasure.

10:00 p.m. Bed-time! Trying to turn off my mind and get some sleep.

Coming May 14, 2014!

The Loyalist’s Luck Cover Reveal

book two in The Loyalist Trilogy, coming in September, 2014

Purchase The Loyalist’s Wife on Amazon here.

The Loyalist's Wife_Kindle_1563x2500

Purchase The Loyalist’s Wife for your Kobo here

 
8 Comments

Posted by on April 30, 2014 in Authors, General, Marketing Books

 

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How to Sell Your Novel Without Annoying Your Friends

Launch 3Did you ever ask your brother for a favor only to see his eyes glaze over as he tried to look at anything but you?

Maybe it was just a tiny thing you asked him for like lending you $20 or signing your mother’s name on a note to get you out of class. Of course those examples are face-to-face encounters so you can see the reaction and feel it in your gut.

What about e-mail? Did you ever ask your sister to babysit your bratty kid while you took a holiday for a week? Over e-mail?

If you whisper yes to any of these examples then you know the feeling writers sometimes get when talking about their books to their family.

Don’t get me wrong. Most of my family have bowled me over with support but one or two, not so much. Here’s a list of ways to sell your book without hassling your friends and family.

7 Ways to Sell Your Novel Without Annoying Your Friends

  1. Realize that all writers have people in their circles both those who love to read or those who would rather have total body waxing in public than read a book.
  2. Don’t give free copies to anyone, friend or family, unless they have proof-read or helped with the actual work in some way. This eliminates the jealousy of sibling rivalry.
  3. Accept those who never once bring up the subject of your newly published book. They just can’t tell you their reasons for ignoring your accomplishments and sometimes that is a good thing.
  4. Send only one notice to friends, family, and acquaintances about your new book and ask them to sign up for your business-oriented newsletter. That way you’ll know who wants to hear about future book or announcements and who doesn’t. And you can respect their wishes.
  5. Now that you’re becoming more of a public persona, never, never do, say, tell anything that will embarrass your personal circle. They will bless you for respecting their privacy.
  6. When out with your folks remember that talking all night about your journey is guaranteed to bore 98% of people. Just let the conversation flow and, if someone asks, tell your story. Then find out what they are doing. The most flattering conversational gambit is to ask about someone else’s life. It’s surprising how seldom people realize this but that can work well as you’ll shine if you become the one person who shows an interest.
  7. You can only sell so many books to those close to you. Find ways to broaden your scope. I’ve had a ball speaking to groups up to an hour and a half away just because I let people know what I do, always in a friendly, non-threatening way. And I continually work on selling to people out there in the wide world.

Yesterday I was delighted to open the door to my brother and his wife who dropped in for a visit. He has been teasing me ever since The Loyalist’s Wife came out last June about giving him a copy and also a copy of a family history photo book I did last year, too. We have had a lot of good laughs over it and I figured he was never going to buy either book. His choice. And while it rankled just a smidgen, I laughed and moved on. After a great catching up conversation full of occasional jokes about me giving him the books, he passed me a $100 bill. “You probably won’t have change.” He laughed uproariously. I snatched, yes, snatched that bill from him, handed him the books and went to my purse. I handed him the exact change. She who laughs last, I figured.

And I gave him back only enough change from buying the two books. I didn’t ask. He laughed and laughed and went away with his books to read on his visit to his daughter’s this weekend. I’m glad he finally bought the books but I am going to miss that little gambit whenever I see him.

I was born into a large family, very large, and I love them all. Most of them bought my book immediately. For those who didn’t, I’m not angry. I just realize their lack of foresight! I could be writing their eulogies!

Purchase The Loyalist’s Wife on Amazon here.

The Loyalist's Wife_Kindle_1563x2500

Purchase The Loyalist’s Wife for your Kobo here

 
12 Comments

Posted by on April 2, 2014 in General

 

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What’s a Working Holiday for a Writer?

 

HH post pic1

My work area while on holiday

Are you the kind of person who longs to get away and have time to yourself? Do you muse about just how that would look? Last year my husband and I escaped for three weeks in January and the result was a giant step ahead with publishing The Loyalist’s Wife.

This year we had the opportunity to come back for 3 1/2 weeks and it’s working beautifully. I am set up on one side of the table and Ron is on the other. See the open laptops? And there’s my water, a necessity when I’m writing, a pillow on the chair to raise me up (apologies to Josh Groban)  to an ergonomically correct position and my pile of folders and notes I brought with me. You should see what I left behind!

Each day I get up, have breakfast, check my email, add to my list of things to do for the day, take my shower and get beautiful (we can only hope), and settle in to my cushion-covered chair to write my three pages for the day. That’s my goal. Often at home I just don’t make it, but here the pages are piling up and so is my excitement. I am a goal-oriented person so fulfilling those goals lets me soar for the rest of the day.

Those pages take about two hours as I’m working on the first draft. And that’s usually the start to my day. This morning, however, there is a book club meeting at 10:30 and, reading lover that I am, I thought I’d go. the fact that I might meet other readers who might like my work has not escaped me. Wish me luck.

Since we got here I’ve written 3 pages every day, which makes 21 pages. With a total of 24 days here, that makes 72 pages. And I’ve trained myself to push forward rather than hone each line to perfection. The goal is to finish the first draft and THEN revise. You see you can teach an old dog new tricks.

So you can share in my upbeat mood, here are two more pictures. The first is from our balcony in the morning; the beckoning blue of the ocean is a daily delight.

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This last one is from the same perspective at the end of the day. What’s not to like?

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I’m off to hear what others are reading and I wish you worlds of wonder in your own reading. Consider leaving a note in the comments below to tell us of your favorite writing or reading place.

 
13 Comments

Posted by on January 22, 2014 in Book Clubs, General, Readers' Wants

 

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1000 Ways to Be A Happy Writer

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We’re fifteen days into a new year and, having taken off the last three weeks to celebrate with my family, I’m really ready to get back to blogging. I didn’t give up on writing for those weeks, just blogging. After all, The Loyalist’s Luck will never get written if I don’t buckle down and tell John and Lucy’s continuing story.

(If you haven’t noticed, the title is a bit of a misnomer. I’m a little crazy today, but I’m happy.) :-)

Filling my Inbox have been updates on how my fellow writers did on their old goals, how they’ve revised them for the year 2014, and just how they are going to complete all those marvelous to do lists they’ve birthed. Well, here goes my version of this time honoured tradition.

I did loads and loads of things to publish The Loyalist’s Wife, got it out to the world in June, found a couple of errors and rebirthed it two weeks later, answered email and phone messages of congratulations and turned into a marketing mogul. Arlene Dickinson, move over.

No, I didn’t write hundreds of goals last January. I had one. Get the book out there for the world. Eight words. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, it wasn’t.

But it was FANTASTIC! I had such a great time I plan to do it all over again. Yes, WordPress sent me some crunchy numbers and they are tres interessants but the best part has been and continues to be getting out in the world with my historical fiction.

What am I going to do this year? More of the same, only better and smarter and catchier. At least, I hope so. And I hope some of the things I write about here will catch your interest and help you to do the same if you’re a writer. If you’re a reader, be sure there will be lots coming your way along the historical fiction highway from my house to yours. Once again, I invite you to sign up for my update newsletter which will give you the very latest news and events related to The Loyalist Trilogy. Here’s the link:

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

The Loyalist's Wife_cover_Mar18.inddPurchase The Loyalist’s Wife on Amazon here.

And here’s to a Happy, Happy New Year!

 
6 Comments

Posted by on January 15, 2014 in General, Historical Fiction, Just For Fun

 

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