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Tag Archives: historical fiction

How To Find Great Books To Read

book shelves in NorwichDo you ever wander the big book store aisles and feel overwhelmed? First of all there are the shelves and displays full of placemats and candles, fuzzy animals and cozy blankets. And then the bargain shelves can be filled with unbelievable titles you’d never read in a million years.

Or do you head into the local library and end up totally put off by the worn books lining the shelves? You pick one up (I like the long ones!) and sneeze in its dust. Or you try a well-thumbed one only to wonder how many hands have touched its every page.

And yet, you love to read. Your favourite Christmas present is books or book store gift certificates. You frequent the library as often as the grocery store and pay next to nothing. Finding a new book from one of your favourite authors and losing yourself in it is about the best way to spend an afternoon.

Don’t get me wrong. I love book stores and libraries. I just realize there are some better ways to search them for treasures.

Five Ways to Find a Great Read

  1. Ask the librarian. People who work in libraries invariably love to read and if you find someone who loves your favourite genres your work is most likely done.
  2. Book stores often have “Picks” tags on books they are featuring. Some of those employees read voraciously, so much so that they have their own sticker affixed to their favourites. And they’ll even write reviews sometimes, which might be posted in the store or online.
  3. Read book columns in the newspaper as often as you can. These will show what books are popular and selling well. Chances are bestsellers will be enjoyable but you’ll be wise to vet them in other ways as well. I’ve been fortunate to have The Loyalist’s Wife on our local best seller list many times in the last months thanks to our wonderful book store.
  4. Listen to others who read what you like to read. Years ago a friend with whom I taught started telling me about great historical fiction. Lynne introduced me to Sharon Kay Penman’s amazing The Sunne in Splendor  and I’ve never found any duds in all of the rest of Penman’s books. I’ve been an ardent fan ever since. Ask your sister. While historical fiction always thrills me, through my sister, Linda, I’ve met several other excellent books. We shall an affinity for great stories and stellar writing. When she mentions a title to me, I listen. She got me to read The Help and many more.
  5. When in the library find the shelf of wonderful new releases. This is now my go-to place and I delight in finding books in the same pristine shape as those I buy. I know, this is a foible, for sure, but it’s me.

Joining a book club is something I’ve always wanted to do and I even tried to start one a few years ago. We met at a friend’s house, about six of us, and had a discussion ostensibly about The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown’s huge hit. Unfortunately the discussion wandered away from the book and we, good friends all, mostly talked about kids and husbands, politics and religion, and the latest good recipes, if I remember correctly. These days I get a thrill out of visiting book clubs as a guest speaker.

In the comments below, feel free to share your best ways to find great books to read.

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

When American colonists resort to war against Britain and her colonial attitudes, a young couple caught in the crossfire must find a way to survive. Pioneers in the wilds of New York State, John and Lucy face a bitter separation and the fear of losing everything, even their lives, when he joins Butler’s Rangers to fight for the King and leaves her to care for their isolated farm. As the war in the Americas ramps up, ruffians roam the colonies looking to snap up Loyalist land. Alone, pregnant, and fearing John is dead, Lucy must fight with every weapon she has.

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.

Purchase The Loyalist’s Wife on Amazon here.

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2014 in Book Clubs, Readers

 

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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 Lick and a Promise: The Loyalist’s Luck New Cover

The Loyalist’s Luck_cover_apr1.indd

Today’s post is a promise of things to come for those who love a great historical novel. Following on the tail of last year’s The Loyalist’s Wife,

The Loyalist’s Luck

is scheduled for release this fall.

John and Lucy escape the Revolutionary War to the unsettled British territory across the Niagara River with almost nothing. In the untamed wilderness they must fight to survive, he, off on a secret mission for Colonel Butler and she, left behind with their 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.

Watch for upcoming news on this and other writing events. And if you haven’t  yet purchased the first in the Loyalist trilogy, here’s the link. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

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

When American colonists resort to war against Britain and her colonial attitudes, a young couple caught in the crossfire must find a way to survive. Pioneers in the wilds of New York State, John and Lucy face a bitter separation and the fear of losing everything, even their lives, when he joins Butler’s Rangers to fight for the King and leaves her to care for their isolated farm. As the war in the Americas ramps up, ruffians roam the colonies looking to snap up Loyalist land. Alone, pregnant, and fearing John is dead, Lucy must fight with every weapon she has.

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.

Purchase The Loyalist’s Wife on Amazon here.

 

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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

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

 

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3 Reasons I Can’t Seem To Write Today

Did you ever have a day when the topics just wouldn’t come? Ever wonder why?

Today is such a day for me so this post will be short. Here are three things that are keeping me from writing a brilliant blog post.

1. photo (3)photo (2) This is the weak weather outside my front door. Notice my neighbor’s Christmas reindeer are still out there. We haven’t had a break in the snow since Christmas and he can’t get those cute reindeer put away.

2. Across the street you can see the falling snow, a picture that is hard to get. Ordinarily I’d be really excited at this phenomenon but enough is enough this year.

3. My daughter and her family are flying in this evening but as the day goes on, we wonder if we’ll be able to go to the airport 30 miles away and pick them up. Or even if the plane will land. My 6-year-old granddaughter will love the snow and the reindeer even though I’m pretty sure the adults won’t be so enamored.

photoThe positive is that I got three more pages written as I finish off the rough draft of The Loyalist’s Luck, due for release in September. Yay! And I found a great website with lots of information about Governor and Mrs. Simcoe who both appear in this second book of my Loyalist trilogy.

Hope you are enjoying the snow, either in person or through these pictures, better than I am. :-(

Purchase The Loyalist’s Wife on Amazon here.

The Loyalist's Wife_Kindle_1563x2500

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2014 in Historical Fiction, Just For Fun

 

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Why I Read Historical Novels Review

HNReview FebI may not get to it the day it comes in my mailbox, or even the month it comes. I may not read it all. I may even have contemplated dropping my subscription. But as I’ve grown in my historical fiction writing so has the value I see in the Historical Novels Review.

The February issue is a case in point. It starts out with the Publisher’s Message which I always read. I like to hear what this creator of a magazine for a genre I’ve loved forever has to say. In this month’s bit, Richard Lee talks about the mind-yeast he gets from reading non-fiction books. Isn’t that a great word?

Next are a number of short but provocative and insightful articles where the author’s name is highlighted as much as the title. More actually, as there is usually a picture. These authors are a veritable who’s who of historical fiction.

I liked Dr. Jerome De Groot’s aritcle discussing the links between history and historical fiction. Author Nancy Horan says “Writing historical fiction about real people allows me to explore the ‘why’ questions that arise out of the facts of the subjects’ lives’, a perspective that mirrors my own. In writing The Loyalist’s Wife, I was interested in exploring the ways that decisions made by kings and presidents, the higher-ups, affect ordinary people like you and me.

The article which really caught my eye was a tribute to Elizabeth Jane Howard and The Cazalet Chronicle. Lucinda Byatt praises this author of The Light Years, a book I read and loved several years ago, and mentioning others by Howard. I’ll be looking for those titles you may be sure. Sadly, in a footnote, Byatt tells of Howard’s death so there will be no more. I was delighted to read this article about an author who had brought to life for me a family from about 1937-1947. Such a turbulent time. I remember those characters even now and The Light Years is one of the books that made the cut when I downsized my huge library and moved to a smaller space. Reading this article was like going to a party full of strangers and finding a long-lost friend.

After the articles come pages of new historical fiction releases, a wonderful garden of books, divided into centuries. Short reviews of each make picking my next read easy. The only problem is finding the time to read all of the ones I want. Historical fiction is definitely alive and well.

Now I just want to find out how to get The Loyalist’s Wife and its soon-to-be-released sequel, The Loyalist’s Luck, into this quality magazine!

Purchase The Loyalist’s Wife on Amazon here.

The Loyalist's Wife_Kindle_1563x2500

 

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7 Types of Readers of My Books

book shelves in Norwich

As a newly published author, I have been hearing from many people who have read The Loyalist’s Wife and tell me they enjoyed it. That’s akin to hearing what a wonderful son or daughter you have, especially if this writing/publishing thing is all new to you.

Just this morning I received an email which prompted me to choose this topic for today’s post. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t have a similar response to my work from some kind person.

7 Types of Readers of My Books

  1. My friend, Sue, the first person to buy my book as we stood at the local market in glorious sunlight, is a voracious and clever reader. She was emailing to me within hours with wonderful comments and encouragement. Of course she also wants me to stay home and work on the sequel! I’m like that, too. If I love a book I just want to read and read until it’s finished and then I want the next one that author has written.
  2. Equally as treasured are those family members who support us by buying our book. Lucky for me my family is LARGE and their support has been fabulous. That’s not to say they’ve all bought a book but then they’re not all readers and I accept that. One of my sisters has bought several to give as gifts and, though she has yet to finish the book herself, never misses a chance to support me.
  3. Those who buy a book after hearing me speak, even if it’s not their usual reading fare, can be fun. A lovely man and his wife stood before my table a few weeks after I had spoken at a club where he is a member. When I asked what he thought of the book, he hesitated. With my well-practiced teacher smile, I encouraged him to tell me. Well, he thought there was too much description. I was surprised as I am a lover of plot and move things along without a lot of description. His wife touched his arm, smiled, and told me he only ever reads thrillers. We all laughed and they moved on to the next table. Wasn’t it wonderful that he, a total thriller reader, read my book?
  4. I was puzzled as to why I hadn’t heard comments from a few people, readers all of them. One of my brothers brought it into perspective for me. He likes to read slowly, savoring every morsel, stopping to cogitate, remember, and consider so that it takes him quite a while to read a book. When he’s done, however, he has a thorough understanding of all the nuances and his questions are full of insight.
  5. I like to read one book at a time mostly because my brain is too small to keep details from a lot of books straight. Nevertheless, I know a number of smart people, excellent thinkers and readers, who read several books at once. One will be by the bed, one in the bathroom, one in the car, by their favorite chair, at the office, or in their purse or briefcase. Can you imagine how many books they get through in a year?
  6. I have been known to underline, to write in the margins or to use my yellow marker, but only for a certain type of how-to or informational book. Never for fiction. Readers abound who love to write notes in the margins about the sisters in Little Women or do their own spider messages like Charlotte. Their books are thoroughly used and not the ones you’d want to buy in lieu of a new book on Amazon. And how about the coffee drinkers who spill on the pristine pages? A fellow teacher once borrowed a new hard cover book from me. It came back with so much more added to it: coffee stains, two-year-old scribblings throughout, and the cover irreparably torn. Heartbreak for me.
  7. I am a book mark baby. Are you? Do you have a favorite that allows you to mark your way through a glorious read without ever leaving traces behind? If so, I would like to borrow your books and I promise you’ll get them back in the same pristine condition I received them. Oh, I know that’s a little anal but I do like things nice. I want to experience the read as the author intended without anything to detract from the message. And when that book goes on my shelf, it’s beautiful, both for its story, now held in my heart, and for its outer package.

Yesterday my quarterly newsletter went out and this morning one of those who had signed up at my book launch last fall, a stranger, sent me a message:

“The book was surprisingly good. It was only purchased because you live [here] and curiosity about local talent prompted the purchase. It actually took a while to get around to reading it, but I’m glad I did. Congratulations on the book which was both enlightening and fun to read. Looking forward to the next one…”

I chuckled at the word “surprisingly” but am most appreciative that this reader took the time to contact me. And I don’t seem to care what kind of reader he is, as long as he reads!<!–

What kind of reader are you?

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2014 in Readers, Readers' Wants

 

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