Eight years ago when I started writing seriously, three hours in my morning were dedicated to working on my first book. Then I carried on with the rest of my day, puttering, reading for pleasure, gallivanting with my husband, riding my bicycle, hitting the gym and the coffee shop afterwards with my friends, and just doing what I pleased. Oh, and I had time for a bit of housework. I was retired.
Fast forward to today. I wake and grab my iPad to see what new writing messages have come in, I respond, I read new web posts, I get up and get my breakfast, and I take it to my computer where I deal with emails and marketing. This takes about an hour and a half. Then I shower and get ready for the day. Maybe some dishes hit the dishwasher or some bathroom cleanup happens but by 9 I’m back at my computer turning off my email and my phone and closing the door. It’s time to write.
A couple of hours later I surface and plug in to the world again letting my patient husband know my door is open and stretching up out of my chair to prepare lunch. There’s a sense of freedom and definitely a great feeling of accomplishment even if I’ve only written 2 pages. On good days it’s 3.
In the afternoons or on the weekends sometimes we get away from our computers and hit the road. I like nothing better than to walk the sites where my characters might have walked and even more I love to find places that will work their way into my writing. The Angel Inn is one such place.
This venerable old establishment found its way into my second book in the Loyalist trilogy and is also a pivotal place in the third which I’m writing now. Can you not just see Lucy carrying a pitcher to waiting patrons? This is where research is really mixed with reality and on our visits to present-day Niagara-on-the-Lake we love to lunch here. It’s a unique kind of research when you sit in a building which was rebuilt in 1815 after the fire two years earlier in the War of 1812.
The other day I was speaking at a local Rotary club and I read about the Americans burning the town before hightailing it back across the river ahead of the British. I told the story of my research where I found the story of a sick old woman carried bed and all out into the snow-filled street to watch the Canadian volunteers torch her home.
Can’t you just see Lucy running from the door under the flag, her arms full of sheets and pots and anything else she could gather in the hour the townspeople had before the flames would destroy their town? Imagine snow and cold and very soon flames pursuing the poor people. Here is my description from The Loyalist’s Luck:
People howled in the streets. When the torchers reached the
house next door they learned that the old woman who lived there
was sick and could not leave her bed. The soldier gave the order
to carry her, bed and all, outside into the snow where she lay shivering
under her blankets as her house burned to the ground. Lucy
ran to the bed and heaped her spare blankets on the woman but
they gave no comfort to the woman or to Lucy.
As dusk came the flames lit up the night sky and for a while the
heat warmed the watchers so that they did not immediately begin
to look for shelter. When they did, there was none. The Fort was
still held by the Americans and all the buildings in the town were
burning. A cry went up as the church tower collapsed with a flaming
shower of sparks, most of which landed in the snow and were
extinguished. Others, however, fell on the townspeople, and one
wee boy’s coat was fully flaming before his mother screamed and
rolled him in the snow to douse the fire.
Today Niagara-on-the-Lake is a popular tourist town with little hint of what happened there just over two hundred years ago. The history does make a wonderful story though. And a great place for this writer to visit. It’s all research, you know?
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For All Lovers of Historical Fiction!
Book Two in The Loyalist Trilogy!
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.
The Loyalist’s Wife, Book One in The Loyalist Trilogy!
by Elaine Cougler, winner of the WCDR 2014 Pay It Forward Scholarship
Short-listed for Inspire! Toronto International Book Fair’s Canada Self-Published Book Awards
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.