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Tag Archives: excitement about writing

If You Build It, Will They Come?

I think we’re all a little like Shoeless Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams.

“How could authors be like a baseball player with a besmirched name?” you ask.

Remember the plot of that great movie with Kevin Costner and Ray Liota, Amy Madigan and the incomparable James Earl Jones? That cornfield and those car lights stretching for miles will stay in my head forever and so will that voice Costner kept hearing. “If you build it, they will come.”

But Shoeless Joe waited until everything was perfect before he stepped out of the corn and brought his team with him. Luckily for him, Ray Kinsella, Kevin Costner’s character, was driven to sabotage his own corn crop and complete a perfect ball diamond. Jackson, however, didn’t come when the corn was plowed under. Or when the grass started to grow. Or at the building of the screens, the pitcher’s mound, the bases or the bleachers at the side. He came when everything was ready.

Are you like that? With your writing? Do you wait until everything is perfect before you write a word?

Last night I sat at a writers’ group meeting in a large city here in Ontario. I’ve belonged for a few years but my attendance has been spotty. When I first started to look at myself as a serious author, I traveled far and farther to learn what I needed to know. I flew across the country, drove hundreds of miles, started critique groups, crossed borders a few times and just went wherever I knew I could learn. And those travels led me to write books of which I am proud. I wanted to make them as perfect as they could be.

But back to last night. This group has not progressed; in fact, it has lost a lot of the people who were shakers and movers when my attendance was more regular a couple of years ago. As we did self introductions I was most interested to hear how many of those present (about 30) had never been there before. We went around the table telling a little about ourselves. Two things stood out. I was the only person who used her full name; the others just used their first name. And people seemed so apologetic and shy about what they were doing, even those who have been writing for years.

Members and visitors have in common a desire to write and, one assumes, to get published and known as writers. They should, therefore, introduce themselves with their full names. There is no place for bashfulness here. We must step up to the plate before the corn has reached full height or the cheering section is in place. A writer’s name is the shining light on the cover of her books or the byline of his articles. It’s marketing, people.

I belong to a second writing group whose meetings I travel miles to attend in snow, sleet and threat of flood. Well, not really. If the weather is horrid, I don’t drive the almost two hours to attend the Saturday morning breakfasts but usually it’s fine. This group has about 300 members, a vibrant executive, stunning guest speakers, a monthly breakfast meeting, workshops, courses in writing topics, its own magazine…the list goes on and on. I don’t attend everything and, because of the distance, some of the events are not possible for me to attend. When I go there, though, I see large groups of happy people delighted to be in a banquet room filled with others whose writing dreams are as magical as their own. Those people get what I’m doing and many of them help me, whether they know it or not.

And they are not apologetic!

The Writers’ Community of Durham Region has built a fine playing field. People are coming. In droves and flocks and buses. They even have an associate membership available so that those who are too far away can use the resources on their website. The current board members of this amazing group and those who came before have followed their own dreams and created something for the rest of us to use and enjoy. And, like Shoeless Joe, I’m stepping out of the cornfield and playing in a great game.

As for the first group, I’ve decided to try to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. So many people have helped me and I’m thankful. It’s time to give back. Do you belong to a writing group? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments section.

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.

 

 
8 Comments

Posted by on March 21, 2015 in Authors

 

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3 Exciting Things in This Writer’s Life

Guest Author Barbara Kyle

Author Barbara Kyle

This week has been a mixture of delight and challenge. Traveling when I have work to do is always difficult and when my granddaughter figures in the mix staying on track is even harder. Still, pleasing and/or amazing things have happened.

Here are three:

  1. I got a lovely email from my book loving friend, literary imprint in England, whose blog is called The Book Trail. Ms. Literary has a new idea for her site and has asked me to submit pictures of the historical sites mentioned in my books. I can hardly wait to get home and send off my files. Check out this link for The  Book Trail.

  2. Another email which pleased me no end was from author Barbara Kyle whose Thornleigh series of books are just a joy to read. Barbara is a Canadian author whose work is sold worldwide and she has a new contest she’s running. I offered to mention it here. Writers are encouraged to submit their writing and be judged by Barbara. The prizes are a $1200 manuscript evaluation, an opening 50-pages manuscript evaluation and an opening 25-page one. Here is the link but know that I want to win! Just kidding. Send in your work.

  3. I’ve saved the best till last: I actually got started writing the outline for The Loyalist Legacy due out in the fall of 2016. For about three months I’ve researched my heart out, finding things I expected and loads of things I didn’t. Some of the small local books on even smaller locations in my setting hold gems which just take me back to the time. You can be sure I’ll be using these tidbits in book three of the Loyalist trilogy. I started by writing down my characters, main and less important, and filling their paragraphs with whatever ideas about them were floating around my brain. That felt great. The next day, I actually tried to write about events chapter by chapter all the while working in my secondary plot ideas as well as the main story. Of course I know the story will evolve somewhat on its own once I start actually writing it but this stage helps me think of what should and could be included. I can hardly wait to get home and settle into my writing nest, glass of water in hand, door closed, and fingers finding their way on my own  keyboard.

And so, as we travel on Wednesday, my regular blogging day, my readers will get this missive from me a couple of days late. Hope your days are fine, filled with reading, and even writing!

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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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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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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5 Answers to Writing Questions

20141019_132341

From The Loyalist’s Luck launch party. Great cake!

Today I’m being interviewed on Patricia Zick’s illustrious blog. Here is the link where you can read Patricia’s questions and my answers. I bare my soul. Well, about writing anyhow. I even mention Stephen Leacock Medal winner, Terry Fallis, and his contribution to my writing. Come join us now as I answer her five questions.

Author Wednesday on P.C. Zick’s site.

Voting is going on as I write this for the People’s Choice Toronto International Book Fair Self-Published Awards and my first book, The Loyalist’s Wife, is a finalist. Thanks to all those who have already voted to help me out. Voting closes on Friday and the winners are announced  on Nov. 16 in Toronto. I’ll be there! Hoping to win but happy to be nominated–never thought I’d say those words!

If you’d like to join in the voting fun, come along. Here’s the link. It only takes a minute.

And if you were naughty and didn’t click on Patricia’s site above for my interview, please do it now.

 

 

 
3 Comments

Posted by on November 5, 2014 in Authors, Awards

 

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We Had a Book Party!

The Loyalist’s Luck_cover_apr1.inddIT’S HERE, IT’S HERE, IT’S HERE!

My days are mostly spent in my office sitting at my computer, moving my projects along at what always seems more like the turtle’s pace rather than the hare’s. In fact, the more I’ve sat here over the past seven years, the more I’m even coming to look like that turtle! (Hence my new walking regime!)

In June, 2013, my publishing company launched The Loyalist’s Wife and I was ecstatic. So much work, so many miles traveled, so many people met, places visited, and ideas acted upon. And, finally, a book to hold in my hand.

And before that book was even published I was hard at work on its sequel, The Loyalist’s Luck. This month of October has been crazy busy as we launched number two in the trilogy. In one fell swoop, I went from a mark of 33% to one of 67% for finishing the Loyalist trilogy. (Once a teacher, always a teacher.)

YAY!

Here are some pictures from the formal launch here in beautiful Woodstock, Ontario.

Fellow author and person extraordinaire, Sharon Clare, Helped me out by reading a section from my new novel. David Butler, an amazingly gifted person in his own right–the man can write!–happens to be descended directly from Colonel John Butler of the famous Butler’s Rangers. He figures in both of my Loyalist novels so far. David said a few kind words of welcome and congratulations. You can learn about David’s famous father, the artist Ross Butler, here.

Launch

Laughing at a small slip up I made at the podium.

Laughing at a small slip up I made at the podium.

Sharon Clare expertly reading.

Sharon Clare expertly reading.

Sue Garner hosted and read, her sassy smile flashing throughout.

Sue Garner hosted and read, her sassy smile flashing throughout.

20141019_132341

We had to have cake! Thanks, Ron, for arranging this and all the other details.

This book table had to be refilled several times as people bought a lot of books.

This book table had to be refilled several times as people bought a lot of books.

Joyce and Donna welcomed everyone to the festivities.

Joyce and Donna welcomed everyone to the festivities.

Book club friends going through a copy. So wonderful that they came!

Book club friends going through a copy. So wonderful that they came!

We drew names for two free books. I was so happy to see the winners: Olive, my dear friend, and Keith, one of my many wonderful brothers.

We drew names for two free books. I was so happy to see the winners: Olive, my dear friend, and Keith, one of my many wonderful brothers.

There were many more at my launch, including my 93-year-old aunt and a carload of cousins from as far away as Miami who completely surprised me. They drove all the way from South Carolina. So, as any reader can see, my heart is full. All the hard work has paid off when family, friends, people I’ve met over the last year and a half on speaking gigs all show up for the new book. As well, people I don’t know who joined us just thrilled me.

This is a small word to contain the huge joy I feel but here it is:

THANK YOU!

See you all in two years when The Loyalist Legacy has its debut!

Next week this blog will be back to writing about historical fiction, wonderful readers and tips for writers. Come join us!

The Loyalist’s Luck on Amazon

The Loyalist’s Wife on Amazon

also available on Kobo and in many fine bookstores.

PHOTO CREDITS: Sherry Isaac, Brian Jackson

 
8 Comments

Posted by on October 29, 2014 in Marketing Books, Publishing

 

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Character Author Sharon Clare Comes to Visit

Today, while I’Delve Deepm cruising the waters near Alaska :-), multi-talented author, Sharon Clare, is here to visit. Sharon runs really helpful workshops and is not afraid to delve deep into her writing. She also markets her books and others’ through an online game called Second Life. Her book store within that game is called The Book Nook and my book is for sale in that virtual book store. Truly innovative marketing. Today she discusses writing meaningful and memorable characters whose personalities intrigue readers. Please, readers and authors, feel free to give your thoughts in the Comments section below. And Sharon promises there will be an e-book available after her weekend workshop which she mentions below. (For all of you who can’t make the workshop!) Welcome, Sharon!

She’s Not All Bad, She Has Values!

Are you getting any of the following feedback from beta readers, contest judges, or agents/editors?

  • Flat, predictable or generic characters
  • Characters lack motivation/conflict
  • Characters are inconsistent and ring false
  • Dialogue all sounds the same
  • Can’t connect with, or downright don’t care about characters

Or do you just not know where your story should go next? If so, you may need help with characterization.

When we begin to develop characters to tell our stories, we want to build dynamic characters, real people with values and flaws, histories and dreams, secrets and strengths, characters who will not only change and grow over the course of the novel, but will help lead the way.

The character arc is an evolution. Your protagonist should not be the same person at the end of the story that she was at the beginning. She needs to learn a lesson or two after dealing with all the conflict you’ll send her way, so she may not be her best at the start of the story. She may be painfully shy and come off as arrogant or she may be bitter and have mother issues or she may be insecure with a need to control everything around her. Any of these qualities will make her interesting and may not endear her to the other characters, but you want to endear her to your readers despite her flaws.

So how do you do this?

Sharon Clare

Sharon Clare

In the opening scene, give the reader a glimpse of the heroine’s potential, the person she has the ability to become, (just one core attribute you can use to emotionally engage your readers). Share something she values deeply, something that makes her likeable, and show it early on, preferably in the first chapter.

In Susan Elizabeth Phillip’s, Breathing Room, the heroine, Dr. Isabel Favor, is America’s diva of self-help. Until her life falls apart. She’s accused of being the boss from hell, a total control freak, driven, demanding and difficult, and we see from her behaviour that it’s likely true. But the following short exchange between Isabel and the cleaning lady shows us another side of Isabel, a side that shows she values compassion.

Isabel starts off this dialogue:

“Speaking of hookers, did I tell you those two ladies who hang out by the alley showed up at the new job program yesterday?”

“Those whores’ll be back on the treat by next week. I don’ know why waste your time with them.”

“Because I like them. They’re hard workers.” Isabel kicked back in her chair, forcing herself to concentrate on the positive instead of that humiliating newspaper article.

Even though a few paragraphs earlier, Isabel couldn’t help telling the cleaning woman how to do her job, we see that despite her control issues, Isabel is a good person.

So along with your character’s imperfections, be sure to show what he or she values at the onset of the story.

Here are a few ideas for values taken from the more extensive list in how to use core attributes to emotionally engage your readers in the Delve Deep Into Character workbook:

Sharon's icon.jpg

  • spirituality
  • health
  • generosity
  • independence
  • morality
  • honesty
  • playfulness
  • ecology
  • security
  • cleanliness
  • leisure
  • romance
  • family
  • honesty
  • ambition
  • tidiness
  • compassion
  • diversity
  • self-control
  • freedom

Remember, values can show character flaws as well, but that’s a topic for another day, and an aspect of our weekend workshop!

“Look within—many characters are to some degree a projection of the writer’s own personality.”                                                                                            ~ NYT bestselling author Robert Dugoni

Know Yourself, Know Your Character! We invite you to join us for a unique intensive writing workshop where you will learn a cutting edge technique to delve deep into yourself as a writer, so you can…

Delve Deep Into Character: 7 Steps To Leap From Cliché to Compelling

Please find details of the workshop here on our website.

Sharon’s Bio is here.

Irene Jorgensen, Sharon’s workshop partner, has her Bio here. 

Coming in the fall of 2014–Soon!

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.

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_cover_Mar18.indd

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.

 

 
3 Comments

Posted by on September 24, 2014 in Authors, Writing Tips

 

Tags: , , ,

 
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