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What I Found in My Research Today

One of the joys of writing historical fiction is the gob-smacking stories I find while researching. In the second book of the Loyalist trilogy I wrote about a true story found as I researched the burning of Niagara (present-day Niagara-on-the-Lake) when the American troops ended their occupation of Fort George and headed back across the border to the United States. The snippet was about an old woman, too sick to leave her bed that cold December night of heated tempers and hot flames. For me this was a nugget for my own story of Lucy and John’s experiences.

Here is how I integrated the story into The Loyalist’s Luck:

Soldiers ran from one house to the next, their flaming torches setting each and every building alight. The wind blew the flames as they ate up the insides, the roofs, the chimneys, and finally the walls themselves of the little town. Perhaps the cruellest cut of all came with the knowledge of just who was setting the fires. Along with the American militiamen a group of American sympathizers called the Canadian Volunteers tossed torches into their own neighbors’ homes.

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.

Just now my days are filled with searching for information about the early to mid 1800’s  in Upper Canada (Ontario). Part of that is trying to get a feel for just what was happening at the time with respect to settlers, crown lands, politics both local and across the ocean, escaping slaves, treaties with First Nations people, and especially day-to-day living in this part of the world. Yes, it’s a huge task.

Knowing that I’m studying my own history helps enormously. These are the times my people lived in.

I Came As a StrangerI Came As A Stranger: The Underground Railroad has turned out to be so interesting that I am reading the whole book even though much of it is about times after my field of research. Here are a few of the tidbits I’ve found:

  • Even at the time of the 1837 Rebellions in Upper Canada and Lower Canada the widespread fear that the United States might invade again caused  “coloured people” to come to Niagara by the wagonload and volunteer to fight in order to keep the Americans out of their new country.” (p.42) For us, today, that distinction between Americans and Canadians is just not present. How fearful the times must have been not only for blacks but also for those multitudes of whites on both sides of the border who abhorred slavery and did all they could to fight against it.

  • John Brown was one such white man who gave his life in his fight against slavery. (p.83)

  • Many slave owners resorted to illegal moves to entice their former slaves back across the border. I read of a turnabout. One owner was seized by his former slaves and whipped with the same number of lashes as the former slave brothers had seen their mother’s naked back receive under the owner’s hand. Following that he was sent back across the Detroit River presumably to return home. (p.95)

  • In Niagara a former slave owner trumped up horse theft charges against his former slave so that the slave could be extradited and punished in the United States. A huge crowd of blacks from the Niagara area freed their friend, taking the law into their own hands. Two of the rescuers were killed in the melee. (p. 97)

Wednesday I am lucky enough to be going to hear the author of I Came As a Stranger, Bryan Prince, speak at a library about a half hour away. Coincidentally this library is in the area where my next book takes place so I am doubly excited. I’ll be going early to check out the original documents which pertain to the area and to my own family history. Yes, the next book will have a large fictional component but how exciting for me to be recreating a world where my great great great grandparents first settled north of London, Ontario.

Once I finish Bryan’s book, I’ll be on to another and another and another as I spend the rest of February searching sources and spinning stories in my head for book three, The Loyalist Legacy. Let me know of any pertinent sources I should research and you could find your ideas in the next book!

 

How About an Authors and History Tour? Click here for details of this amazing cruise. Come join us!

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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7 Sites for Historical Writers and Readers

Have you ever wondered just what is out there on the web for your own personal interests? Of course you have! And, no doubt, you’ve done what I did yesterday–taken a flyer with nimble fingers and flicking eyes. Just to check it out.

I have just one question: did you manage to stay on track? Or did the multitude of swishing colours and beckoning keywords pull you ever and further away from the designated task at hand?

Luckily my keywords sourced up some pretty interesting stuff which all kept me on task and I’ve compiled just a little of what I found.

7 Super Sites for Historical Writers (and Readers!)

Historical Map on My Wall

Historical Map on My Wall

 

  1. If you want to read or write about American history, this edtechteacher site lists dozens of excellent historical sites on subjects from Lewis and Clark to the Chicago Fire. Clicking on its links allows you to delve deeper and deeper into fascinating topics.

  2. Likewise this list of history websites can just take you away and you’ll have a tough time finding your way back to the task at hand. I was just looking at a bunch of letters written home in WWI. So interesting to read the actual words of the soldiers and wonder what happened to each of them.

  3. Another way to find details is to visit one of the mapping sites which specialize in historical maps. This one has a map of South Africa which looks suspiciously like the world map up on the wall in my school room many moons ago. Surely it’s not an ‘historical’ map???

  4. Another thing you can do is look for historic sites by country. Take a look at the map of Great Britain here, so filled with push pins you can’t read any of them. Nevertheless these show all the hundreds of historical sites there.

  5. Part of my research for my Loyalist series has been delving into aboriginal backgrounds. Although I didn’t find this site until now Canada’s first peoples are well represented in this list of books. From art to lifestyle, history to daily diet, these books inform.  I am particularly intrigued by The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America.

  6. Many sites offer beautifully rendered historical maps for sale and these are useful for study as well, right on the screen. This sample is pretty cool as the whole northwest of Canada, including Alaska is just not there. It hadn’t been mapped yet.

  7. This last is an example of the excellent blogs that are out there which can be so helpful. This one is exciting for readers and writers alike as several different authors write pieces relating to their fields of research. Writing Historical Novels encompasses  a huge topic but one with loads of room for specialization according to interest. I liked the continuously moving band of titles and related photos streaming across the top of the site. Very much an eye-catcher which puts this blog into the well done category.

In the Comments below try listing one site you’ve found which has made a difference to your writing and reading.

How About an Authors and History Tour? Click here for details of this amazing cruise. Come join us!

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 29, 2015 in General, Research Tips

 

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There are Two Sides to Every War

Today I’m guest blogging on Elizabeth Meyette’s lovely blog. While my books are from the British and Loyalist point of view, Elizabeth writes from the American side of the same conflicts. Come join us!

 

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.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on January 21, 2015 in Authors, Historical Fiction

 

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How About an Authors and History Tour?

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New York

Do you like holidays? How about a holiday with a purpose? One that not only takes you to glorious locations but stimulates your mind just enough to be exciting?

Well, me, too! I like to learn a little about the destinations and their history. And I especially like to learn about the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 when both Canada and the United States were just beginning. In fact, I’ve written two books on those topics and am working on the third.

My Loyalist trilogy focuses on the beginnings of these two great countries in a time when living here was not so great. Canada and the United States were not such good neighbours and many horrible things happened on both sides. Today we can cross the longest undefended border in the world with ease but it was not always so.

Bill Shaw at Expedia Travel is putting together a group to cruise out of New York in the fall. It’s his second Authors Cruise and he’s asked me to be the author! It’s a regular amazing cruise on a new Princess Cruise Lines ship for a week starting October 10, 2015.

So all the regular ship board stuff goes on plus there will be author events, readings, historical links to the ports of call, and even games, trivia, and fun. More on that later.

I’ve included the flyer Bill has prepared. My husband and I have  already signed up because cruising in early October with the leaves turning and going to Halifax, St. John, Bar Harbor, Boston, Newport, and back to New York will be spectacular. If we were surrounded by a bunch of writers, history buffs, and friends, that would be even better. Note: Amounts on flyer are in Canadian dollars. Note #2: Bookings must go through Bill (TOLL FREE 1-877-436-8333 or www.cruiseshipcenters.com/Woodstock) to be part of the Author and History Tour group.

 

flyer

COME JOIN US! CALL OR EMAIL FOR INFORMATION TODAY.

 

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.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on January 14, 2015 in General, Historical Fiction, History

 

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January’s Gifts to a Writer

Projects boardI love the new year. It’s the chance to start over, to etch my life on a fresh slate. Like the brand spankin’ new whiteboard my husband gave me for Christmas. Notice number one on the list? RESEARCH! That’s because I’m really stepping up the quest for the third book in my Loyalist trilogy and want to make research the first thing I see every morning and all day as I work at my desk. And because it’s a new year I seem to have renewed energy and excitement about finding my story through reading history.

The second thing on the list is Cruise Ideas. You’ll be hearing more about this VERY soon as it includes everyone.

The next things are all Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

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How to Keep the New Year From Getting Old

fireworksI gave up writing New Years’ resolutions years ago. Did you? Or do you still, as the old year parties itself out, struggle to put your hopes and dreams into some kind of list which will magically transform you into that person you always wanted to be?

Once you’ve seen the ball drop, watched the old man cavort in diapers, or wiped that slobbery party kiss off a few times, rethinking the whole holiday becomes paramount. Here are a few of the things I’ve done to keep the new year fresh and fruitful.

I never actually make a list of resolutions. Rather than think of the weight I’d like to lose or the invitation I’d like to receive from the prime minister of Canada or the Queen of England, I think of less specific and more attainable goals.

I don’t write them in a list because if I do that list will haunt my days (and nights) for much of the year to come.

Although in the past I have used my own 12 point programs to effect changes in my life with a fair amount of success, these days, I change my focus. Rather than think of what I don’t like about myself or my inabilities, I think of what I have accomplished. And I keep a list of kudos and joys that have come my way.

These things are for the times I forget where I’m going or why.

Here are a few of them:necklace

  • A hand-made story book written by one of my students about her appreciation of me as her teacher.

  • A card from my sister’s in-laws, in their nineties, congratulating me on my “first but not the last book”.

  • A natural garnet stone from a dear friend because she was wishing me success with my books.

  • A necklace from my daughter whose oak tree image means potential for greatness, given to me as I struggled the last few steps to publication.

  • Countless cards and jewelry pieces from the man who is the best gift I ever received.

  • Appreciative comments from readers which I’ve collected into a list.

  • The sound of my far-away granddaughter’s voice when she picks up the phone to talk to me and her drawings on my frig.

All of these things and more are there for me to touch for strength. They make my New Years’ hopes shine as they relate to what I’ve done and accomplished.

Just for the record, here are my writing plans at present: research and write the rough draft of The Loyalist Legacy, book three in the Loyalist trilogy, push on with marketing the trilogy via new methods (more to come on those), and make every day count not just in writing but in living my life. These things will make me happy. What are your happiness-inducing plans? And when the year winds down will you have a basket full of mementos of a successful year? I sincerely hope so.

 

 
5 Comments

Posted by on December 30, 2014 in Just For Fun

 

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7 Lessons Related To Being a Writer

20141019_132341Eight years ago (almost) when I first started my novelist’s journey, I knew I’d be using my love of words, my English teacher knowledge of grammar and spelling, my research abilities, and even my computer knowledge. Piece of cake, I told myself.

I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Heard that before? The expression refers to being blissfully ignorant of not only the how-to’s but of the fact that the how-to’s even exist. And after those eight years of conferences and workshops, writing groups and editing notes, rejections and suggestions, I am on a totally different piece of ground than when I began.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
10 Comments

Posted by on December 11, 2014 in Marketing Books, Writing Tips

 

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