While I write historical romances set during the American Revolution from the patriots’s point of view, Canadian author Elaine Cougler writes from the Loyalists point of view. We’ve talked about doing a book tour together—how fun would that be! I am so pleased to welcome you to my blog today, Elaine.
In writing my novels, I often come to one scene (or more) that is so difficult to write I have to leave my WIP for a while and let the ideas percalate. Was there a scene for you that was more difficult than others? One that you pondered whether or not to include it?
In The Loyalist’s Wife (book 1) there were a couple of scenes that
were difficult to the point of tears as the words poured onto the screen. I never considered leaving out those scenes for two reasons. One, I agree with Anne Rice who says in order to hook your reader make life difficult for your heroine and then make it worse. Two, I had to leave Lucy’s terrible brush with low-life ruffians in to satisfy the plot. And I realized that I was crying because I’d managed to catch the essence of what was happening to my heroine. If it affected me that much, surely my readers would be similarly affected.
You mention the same reasons I left difficult scenes in my book. What do you keep in mind as you write? An overarching question? A theme? The last line of the book?
Like so many women, I tend to be a facilitator and I see issues as gray rather than black and white. I can usually see two sides to every story and this came out in both The Loyalist’s Wife and The Loyalist’s Luck. Showing how ordinary people’s lives are affected when those in power make decisions is paramount. I try to keep from finger pointing and just show the story, especially since Canada and the United States today enjoy such cordial and respectful relations. That being said, the second book does do a bit more enemy bashing than the first one but this is partly because of where the story is in book two and the actual history.
I take no offense LOL. There must be conflict for any good story, and I have done the same thing in both Love’s Destiny and Love’s Spirit. Tell us about the funniest/craziest/most interesting thing that has happened to you as a writer.
After the first book came out, I was interviewed by our local television station on a program about authors. It was a half hour show and my bit was about fifteen minutes. Talk about our fifteen minutes of fame! Well, a couple of weeks later, I was in the local drugstore checking out when the clerk gave me an extra special smile. “Don’t I know you?” she asked, and before I could answer she went on. “Aha! I saw you on TV. You’re that author!”
Now that is a great moment in any author’s life. You must have felt great! But there is the less glamorous side of our craft, too. How do you balance writing, marketing, promoting, bookkeeping, family and work?
As a teacher I spent my life living with deadlines and time schedules so that setting my own schedule to get everything done is fairly easy. I’m a great believer in lists and just now I have a small white board on the corner of my desk with six large projects I’m working on. Each day I sit down before that list and try to start with the research for book two. Then I spend time on a couple of the others but allow myself some leeway here as to what intrigues me at the moment. Every day I market, no matter what. It may be as simple as talking to strangers at a historical marker site and handing them bookmarks. Or it might be writing my weekly blog and sending it flying through the e-airways to the world (I wish!). This daily marketing does pay off as I’ve secured many speaking, signing, workshop gigs by just asking. Somewhere in the last months a marketing guru said writers must market every day for at least three years. I pretty much do that.
I admire the discipline in your daily routine. I am going to adopt your secret of daily marketing. What is the biggest chance you’ve taken as a writer? How did that work out?
Part of my six-year journey to publication involved the switch from traditional to self-publishing. In Canada there are very few historical fiction books published every year. The number I was told was six. After writing 40 query letters with disappointing results and being the type of person who jumps into the deep end with both feet, I finally plunged into going it on my own. I wasn’t alone as I found a wonderful cover designer and printer in Victoria, B.C., as well as an accomplished interior designer in Paris, France. And, of course, my Toronto editor was fantastic. This all has worked out very well as the book sales are good and self-publishing is attaining stature. My first book was, in fact, a finalist in the Inspire! Toronto International Book Fair, Canada’s self-publishing awards last November.
Congratulations on being a finalist! You are certainly dedicated to your craft.
Thanks so much for inviting me to be on your blog, Elizabeth.
It’s been my pleasure, Elaine. I wish you all best with continued success.
Contact Elaine at:
Excerpt from The Loyalist’s Luck, Book 2:
When the Revolutionary War turns in favor of the Americans, John and Lucy flee across the Niagara River with almost nothing. They begin again in Butlersburg, a badly supplied British outpost surrounded by endless trees and rivers, and the mighty roar of the giant falls nearby. He is off on a secret mission for Colonel Butler and she is left behind with her 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 vivid scenes of heartbreak and betrayal, heroism and shattered hopes, Elaine Cougler takes us into the hearts and homes of Loyalists still fighting for their beliefs, and draws poignant scenes of families split by political borders. The Loyalist’s Luck shows us the courage of ordinary people who, in perilous times, become extraordinary.
Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Buy Elaine’s books at:
About the Author
A lifelong reader and high school teacher, Elaine found her passion for writing once her family was grown. She loves to read history for the stories of real people reacting to their world. Bringing to life the tales of Loyalists in the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 is very natural as Elaine’s personal roots are in those struggles, out of which arose both Canada and the United States.