Last Wednesday I was pleased to be hosted on P.C. Zick’s excellent blog where I talked about my Authors and History Cruise. Thanks so much to her for doing this!
Category Archives: General
Over and over I heard the same phrases. In fact, I heard those words so many times I began to think they were part of an author conspiracy that was as far-reaching as it was annoying.
“I got to a point in writing the story where the door was opening and I, the author, had no idea who was coming in.”
Or some such similar phrasing. Authors would say this; I didn’t believe it was possible. Of course the writer knows what is coming next, who is stepping inside, which character is about to be killed.
Almost nine years ago I started my own journey writing novels and guess what? Now I’ve experienced the exact same thing. Letting the story have its own head, so to speak, has become quite a lot of fun, not to mention a marvelous way to access my subconscious and see what happens.
And I’ve learned that great and wondrous ideas come of their own accord if I just let my thoughts canter along, unbridled, free, taking their own paths. Now that doesn’t mean there is no structure to my writing because of course there is. But in that rough draft, loosely following a plot outline, elements do actually come of their own accord into my work. And I don’t edit them out too quickly.
The connection between our fingers on the keyboard and our conscious mind is so illuminated by the unconscious mind. I guess that’s what is called imagination but it’s more than that. It’s informed by the sum total of our dreams and our nightmares, of all we’ve read and done, and most certainly of the people who share our lives.
In my Loyalist trilogy are a dimpled chin, a particular grace before meals, an oldish sounding character name, a mill on a specific lot and concession–and many more tidbits which have found their way out of my life and into my writing. My fingers have simply gone to them as I write. I even realized a few months ago that the character Joseph Brant, Thayendenagea, whom I researched deeply before using him as a Mohawk war chief in The Loyalist’s Wife, came easily to mind because I had written about him for my memorized speech way back in Grade Eight.
So when people tell us to write about what we know, maybe this is what they mean. I have learned to lean on that undercurrent in my brain. It may have more surprises for me. And I no longer hate hearing other authors refer to that unknown character behind the door.
This weekend my husband and I leave on our wonderful Authors and History Cruise out of New York and up the Atlantic coast to Halifax. I’ll try to write next week’s post about the history we explore as we travel, as long as the Internet is not too impossible. I’ll be taking a break from writing The Loyalist Legacy, number three in the trilogy, but ideas will be floating in my head. I may even have someone wanting to surprise me and rush through a door!
For All Lovers of Historical Fiction!
The Loyalist’s Luck, 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.
Originally posted on A Writer of History:
Elizabeth George writes mysteries, intricately plotted, full of rogues and oh-so-human heroes, set in wild or innocent corners of England. Her words hook you as soon as you read the first page. When I purchased her book, Write Away, I thought, what a great person to learn from.
I distilled her suggestions into five essential points (see diagram) with notes to augment each point. Although George presents them in sequence, the diagram shows them in a circle because that’s how I think of them – interconnected aspects of a work of fiction.
- Story is Character, bullets remind me that I must understand my characters’ core needs and the pathology of their actions when these needs are thwarted, unique episodes from the past that have shaped them, their sexuality and their burning desires.
- To remind me that Setting is Story I have listed atmosphere, landscape, landscape of the person and internal landscape. George…
View original 580 more words
From the time I knew to wear a colored flower to church on Mother’s Day, through becoming a mother myself, to losing my mother and switching to a white flower, I have celebrated this day with my ever-growing family. It’s a good day. Meals out in a restaurant, breakfast in bed made by our young children, and family visits have always filled up my day and my heart with love.
What about mothers in fiction? Of course Mother’s Day did not always exist; it may have started in the late 1800’s. My novels set in the American Revolutionary War are long before this day. I got thinking about Lucy’s role as a mother and thought I’d lift a section out of The Loyalist’s Wife, the first book in my Loyalist trilogy. Perhaps this is why mothers have their own special day here in Canada and elsewhere.
Lucy is by herself in their cabin for months while John is off to fight for the British in the Revolutionary War. She is ten miles from their nearest neighbor and in the cold December night she starts to have contractions.
THE FIRST SHARDS OF DAYLIGHT were long past and the winter sun lit the farmyard outside. The rooster had long since crowed and the chickens scratched fruitlessly in the dirt of the barn floor. The oxen stood by their empty manger and watched a tiny mouse flit back and forth, all of them following the call within. They were hungry.
Lucy had no thought for them, nor was she hungry. Her work was before her and her body knew its job, rhythmically pushing, relaxing, pushing, pushing, relaxing, and again pushing the baby along its way. She worked when necessary and rested for scant seconds between the contractions.
Soon she had no time to rest and the pain rose and rose and rose and never stopped, taking Lucy with it, up and over the mountain, searing her whole body with need. Need to be done, to birth this baby, to win this war, right here, right now.
The screams became endless grunts and groans. Her eyes felt like they might pop out of her head and her sweat smelled sweet and musty. She fell back, spent. Her eyes closed. Relief. Blood seeped back into her brain. “Baby…” She struggled up on her elbows to look. “My wee child.” She saw the still, bluish object between her legs and struggled to reach it. She hardly knew what
she was doing as she stuck her finger in the mouth and pulled out wet slime. She held the baby by its feet and slapped its backside. And waited, terrified, sobbing. “Oh, baby, my baby. Breathe. Breathe.” There was nothing. She jerked the baby to her bosom and held on tight, squashing it to her, crying and crying.
And then she wasn’t crying alone. She heard the sweet howl at the same time as she felt the baby’s chest move against hers.“You’re alive.Oh, honey, you’re alive.” She lay back down and rocked the newborn against her. What would John say when he knew he had a… son or daughter? She held the baby away from her and laughed. They had a son. She couldn’t believe she hadn’t even noticed before, or thought to look.
Now pictures flooded her mind, of John and their baby, of John and their little boy, of herself teaching him his letters, of John teaching him to ride, to shoot, to hunt, to do everything. Their whole future was spread out before her in her mind’s eye and her smile came unbidden as she lay the wee babe down.
The cord pulsed big and blue out of her child’s belly. As the blood flow slowed and stopped she knew she must cut the cord. The knife lay beside her, ready. She had to slice through the line connecting her and her son. Her hand was wet with sweat. She reached for the knife.
And dropped it. She began to cry. The baby wailed with her. She took a deep breath, looped the slimy cord over her hand, and sliced it through. Through her tears she saw that her boy was safe, his color was good and his lips moved. He was hungry. She gave him her breast. He seemed to know just what to do with it.
-from The Loyalist’s Wife by Elaine Cougler.
This Mother’s Day give a moment to thinking of all the mothers you know and to the fathers, too, who find that selfless part of themselves and willingly submit to it for their children.
I’ve heard it said by many a writer that writing a book is like birthing a baby so add writers to your positive and thankful thoughts. Happy Mother’s Day!
Two Precious Mothers with Their Precious Kids