I Met My Writing Heroes!

HNS2015-logo3This past weekend was the Historical Novel Society Conference in Denver, Colorado and I was there. My fellow writers and I arrived Thursday evening in the mile-high city and that was the last I saw of the outdoors until Sunday night when we left the hotel for a dinner out. The interim was filled with workshops, pitches, meals, speakers, coffee klatsches, and dozens of connecting conversations with authors, wannabes, editors, and agents, all united in their desire to talk about historical fiction. Fantastic.

Right out of the gate I found I had made a mistake by not signing up for the sword-fighting extra session before the conference began. My friends raved about it. I spent the time relaxing and discovered I’m not really that good at it. Live and learn. The conference began in earnest on Friday night with a lovely dinner even though we were all packed in like berries in a box and, yes, there was a bit of smushing going on. The conference had over 450 attendees, the most ever.

SKP and me

Sharon Kay Penman and I after the coffee klatsch.

Saturday morning I was in the conference lobby at 6:40 a.m. to sign up for a coffee klatsch with Sharon Kay Penman (held on Sunday morning.) The next day I got there early, the room was unavailable and SKP and I stood and talked for 15 minutes. Her books have meant so much to me that I had to tell her my joy at reading them all beginning with The Sunne in Splendour. A petite and classy lady, she was delighted with my story and we talked about her other books as well as my writing. Then ten of us sat around a conference table and asked questions of this amazing and prolific writer.

Although I’m very happy being an Indie author, I had signed up to pitch two agents just to investigate the other side. I glanced across the room while I was waiting for my turn to pitch and saw three waiting pitchers sitting side by side outside an agent’s door. Their faces–indeed their whole bodies–were completely frozen in fear. I’m so glad to have reached the stage where I take these things in stride.

My session went well and I’ll have more on that in a later post.

Penman George Smith

Sharon Kay Penman, Margaret George and Anne Easter Smith at conference table.

One of the workshops I attended had Sharon Kay Penman, Margaret George and Anne Easter Smith whose treasured books are all on my shelf as mementos of fabulous reads I’ve enjoyed. Imagine a panel with all three of them discussing Damsels to the Rescue: Reviving the Male Protagonist. Ably hosted by author David Blixt of sword fighting fame (pictured below) the session was quite informative although I don’t really worry about whether my protagonists are male or female, just whether they are compelling.

David Blixt

Sally Karen Cryssa

Hana Samek Norton2

My other Canadian author friends, Sally Moore, Karen Martindale, and Cryssa Bazos were at the conference, too, as well as Hana Samek Norton, who returns frequently to Canada although she now lives in the U.S. Having this group along doubled the fun as we could revel in each other’s success. We were often referred to as the Canadian contingent and one person on the elevator caught me for using the giveaway “eh” phrase. Funny.

Next week’s post will complete the HNS review with more pictures and even Diana Gabaldon. Come back and join me, please. 🙂

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For All Lovers of Historical Fiction!

Book Two in The Loyalist Trilogy!

Purchase The Loyalist’s Luck Here.

The Loyalist’s Luck_cover_apr1.indd
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

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 here.


10 thoughts on “I Met My Writing Heroes!

  1. For about 150 attendees (about a third of the total for the weekend, the most-attended session of all), the conference “began in earnest” on Friday with an all day workshop on fundamental craft. I know because I taught that session, and the audience was amazing. Larry Brooks

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your session, was a revelation, Larry! Thank-you so much for leading us through the elements of story. It was genius for preparing a pitch, too! What a great start to a fabulous conference.


  2. A wonderful travelling companion you are, Elaine! We had a blast, and meeting wonderful writers, editors and agents was icing on the cake. And speaking of cake, no picture taking during meals! It’s a thing. I love the pics of everyone else, especially the one of you and Sharon Kay Penman, but that one of me is awful! A mouthful of food does nothing for photogenics, lol!


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