RSS

Tag Archives: novel writing

Do You Have the Right Writing Team?

Team of 4-yr.-olds on stage

Team of 4-yr.-olds on stage

We hear it all the time: You’ve got to be a team player. Take one for the team. Come on, team. Let’s win this.

And it starts young. At summer camp my wee grandson is on stage performing with his group. (Read team.)  We applaud their cute antics as they learn to work together and perform a song or act out a skit.

“All you ever need to know you learned in kindergarten.” So goes the saying. Of course I never went to kindergarten but you get the idea. We all have to learn to coexist with the other people on the planet and most of what we do is with, for, or instigated by others.

So it goes with writing. Yes, I know. The actual putting words on screen is usually a solitary process but after that loads of people are crucial to me.

This graphic from last year’s Ontario Writers’ Conference demonstrates how together we make something beautiful. The organizers took the last names of all of those registered who had published a book that year and made this lovely picture. Each of us has our name up there several times, large and small. I was delighted to be a part of the larger whole.

On front wall at writers' conference.
On front wall at Ontario Writers’ Conference.

In a similar way I am surrounded by amazing people who help me achieve publication. For the first two books in my trilogy I used an interior designer from Paris, France for helping to choose the typeface, the setup of chapters, and generally the whole look of the interior of the books. Her knowledge and helpful suggestions saved me hours and hours of learning all this myself.

Even more so, my cover designer, a suggestion from my awesome printer in Victoria, British Columbia, was, and continues to be, a ready and reachable source of knowledge on everything from just what the purpose of the cover is to formatting my manuscript for the different e-book platforms. And she is a dream to work with, always sunny and excited about the project at hand.

So, too, my printer, who does rush orders for me with nary a whimper, smooths out any little bump in the printing road, and is just generally a pleasure to work with.

But what about before those people get their hands on my work?

I get to bounce ideas off my friend, author and poet Robyn Marie Butt, and various others of my friends who are writers and readers. Luckily my inner circle allow me to natter on about my work in progress and offer ideas and suggestions when I ask. My family does this all the time, especially my daughter and my husband. My son, with his question to me when I confided my writing dreams, got me thinking large enough to write a novel. He asked “If not now, when?”.

And my beta readers! These people are the ones who keep me honest and searching to improve all the time. Millie, particularly, gives me an excellent critique and is wonderful at discussing the work-in-progress. The others offer insights, too, all from the vantage point of their particular talents and experiences. We writers do not see everything about what we’ve written. We need fresh eyes on the work and I, for one, really treasure those who help me by venturing into the final (?) draft of my novel.

I’ve used two different editors, both excellent and both thorough, for edits large and small. Because I taught senior English for twenty-some years my eyes are pretty good at sourcing out grammar or other errors but these editors are good at looking at the overall novel. I may not use all of their suggestions but I definitely consider them thoroughly.

So there you have them–the people behind my author’s name on the cover. And here’s a great big THANK YOU to all of those on my writing team as I work on the third book in the Loyalist trilogy.

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.

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

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.

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , ,

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 »

 
 

Tags: , , , , ,

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

 

Tags: , , , , ,

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Carolinian Forest, Reins, and Cicadas: Great Proof Readers.

Emerald Lake, Yukon, from my recent Alaska cruise. Just to showcase a beautiful part of North America.

Emerald Lake, Yukon, from my recent Alaska cruise. Just to showcase a beautiful part of North America.

Of course all writers know you have to get other eyes on your work. We hear that over and over. But what are some of the reasons for this well-worn piece of advice?

We writers don’t necessarily know everything. A surprising thing, I know, but I’ve learned the truth of it first hand and I dare say you have as well.

Early in the writing of my second book I took a master’s workshop with the incomparable Barbara Kyle. It was rewarding for the useful information Barbara doled out to her eager students but also for the comments of other attendees.

One of the comments I got was from someone who knew the Niagara peninsula area well (setting of the second book in the Loyalist trilogy.). She lives there. And she was the reason I changed my tree varieties to Carolinian forest trees. I’ve forgotten her name but not her knowledge.

My brother-in-law read some of my first book, The Loyalist’s Wife, for me and I was glad of his help. From him I learned that reins are what those riding horses use but lines are what those driving horses use. Thank you, Steve!

Another alert and knowledgeable beta reader alerted me to my error in using cicadas instead of crickets. To be honest, I just liked the sound of the word. Turns out most cicadas don’t sing at night so I changed my insects to crickets. They certainly sing at night and you usually have a tough time finding them in your house when they’re singing their little heads off. I recall a summer night when, as a teenager, I almost demolished a cricket once I finally found it, I was so tired of its racket while I was trying to read.

Next week is the launch of The Loyalist’s Luck, the second book in the Loyalist trilogy. Many of  you will be with me here in my home city for the unveiling of the print copies and I look forward to hosting you all. The e-versions and web sales will be available very soon as well and I’ll announce them here. It’s been a long journey, at times joyous and at other times arduous but I’m happy to say the final product is looking great. For all those who’ve been yearning to see what happens next to John and Lucy, the wait is over!

Coming Next Week!

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_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.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 9, 2014 in General, Readers

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Help an Author: Be a Beta Reader

My Manuscript Awaiting Beta Readers.

My Manuscript Awaiting Beta Readers.

How does that pile of pages become a treasured book?

Every author will tell you a different story, some sad, some happy, many somewhere in between. But all authors will tell you this: It takes a lot of hard work.

And not just the author’s work. Cover designers, interior designers, specialists in e-book format, and of course the marketing mavens–all of these are crucial.

But the ones I most appreciate are those who take a pile of loose pages and work their way through, making notes, thinking of options, and bravely crossing out unnecessary sections before handing the whole thing back to the author. Who is by now trying very hard not to shake in her sexy sandals.

These beta readers look at the book long before it’s had its final polishing. With The Loyalist’s Luck I did two rewrites and then handed the whole thing off to my beautiful beta readers. Long before it was ready, I might add.

And I shocked one of my new readers. He had only seen a book’s finished product before and definitely was not prepared for a book going through its birth canal. Gentle man that he is, though, we talked it all out and I got over my fractured feelings and he realized (I hope) how much he helped me make a better book out of those loose leaf pages.

I’m in the limbo stage just now. And I feel like I’m bending over backwards trying to get under the bar as I wait for my pages to come back so that I can edit them. I think this is the hardest stage. Waiting. And wondering. Will all of those people who loved the first book in the series appreciate this sequel? It’s a different kind of pressure, for sure, from the first book.

Meanwhile, for those who haven’t read The Loyalist’s Wife you still have a few weeks to get it done. And for those who are waiting for the continuation to John and Lucy’s story, The Loyalist’s Luck, I say, “Soon!” In the meantime, here’s a teaser.

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.

Come to the Book Launch!

The Loyalist’s Luck heads out into the world just in time for those early bird shoppers. It will be available in print and e-book formats on Amazon and other places (where the first book is) but the launch is right here in little old Woodstock, Ontario. If any of you are in the area or planning a trip, here are the details. We do throw a good party!

Date:         October 19, 2014

Time:         !:30-4:00 p.m.

Where:      Quality Hotel and Suites, Woodstock Ontario.

See You There!

 

 
7 Comments

Posted by on September 10, 2014 in Publishing, Readers

 

Tags: , , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,954 other followers

%d bloggers like this: