One of my favourite things to do is to sit down at my computer, put my fingers on the home row and see what they write about. Usually they lead me to find some nugget of truth deep within myself, maybe that I didn’t even fully know was there. That’s a beautiful thing about writing–you never know where it will take you.
This is a screenshot of the lower right corner of my Mac screen. I have a few favourite things here that help me be joyful. They lift me up and let me know what is possible.
I have my own poem about My Angels, four of my siblings who died long before they should have.
And I have a video of my husband and I and our two grown kids singing a quartet in our church a few years ago. There is no music so sweet for this mother.
I could have many other mementos on my desktop–I certainly have a huge rubber tub full in my basement–but these suffice. They remind me of what’s important. They remind me of my heart.
I firmly believe that we human beings need and want to connect to what is good and pure within us and that connection holds in our writing. I love to see a story resolved in a satisfying way with just retribution for the characters and the suggestion of good things to come in their future.
That old plot graph my English teacher drew on the blackboard–when, yes, they were still black and not green!–with its ascending line from one crisis to another until the final climax and denouement, that graph takes the writer and the reader to a great story. And my personal preference is to have a heroine or hero the reader can admire as a decent person.
When writing my nonfiction book about Ron Calhoun, The Man Behind the Marathons, I saw again and again the character of the man who was behind so many who stepped up to raise money for charity. Terry Fox and the father-son team of John and Jesse Davidson were especially rewarding to write about. Learning of the inner workings of those cross-country runs was doubly rewarding because I could admire all of those involved.
The Loyalist books, including the latest, The Loyalist’s Daughter, allowed me to learn about the real people who stayed loyal to the crown in 1776 but also to create fictional characters and have them interact with those who lived through the time. Doubly rewarding was finding out about my own Loyalist ancestors. I loved imagining what those ancestors’ lives may have been like. And when my research revealed events that were not so positive, I enjoyed finding ways that my characters might react. It was a heady experience, the most rewarding of my working life.
Today I have five books to my credit and another on the way. I think of them as vehicles to put my thoughts out in the world, not so much for others but because they are a way that I can express myself for myself. That others enjoy my work is the absolutely most delicious frosting on my banana cake.
“Elaine, I enjoyed reading your story about growing up in Oxford County. (My Story, My Song) As I read along I kept saying to myself …yes, I remember that. I knew/ know some of the people you mentioned as well. Your river story reminded me of our three season farm ponds which were so massive we felt sorry for the poor kids in town who had to skate in a circle and could only change direction when the whistle blew. I was not impressed with that when I first skated in an arena and yes I also started out with second hand black skates.” Bernice
“Elaine, I just finished your book, The Loyalist’s Daughter. It was a great read and is hard to imagine how someone can put together such a book. Well done!”
Terry and Sally
“We both loved The Loyalist’s Daughter. So happy we have a ‘signed’ copy. Thanks for doing that.” Carol and Dennis.
“What a remarkable book! I just finished yesterday….It is one of those books that, at the end of each chapter, the urge is to ‘just read one more chapter’ before turning out the light….I had no idea what is involved in organizing such a fund raising venture and ventures across Canada and you explained it so well….[This] book that you wrote on his life and huge contributions needed to be written….Thanks for putting your writing skills to work into the life of Ron Calhoun.” John Snoddy
“Just finished your first book in your Loyalist trilogy – really, really enjoyed it. Those folks sure were hardy types in those days – I don’t think I could even survive a walk to the outhouse – hahaha. Looking forward to reading the next one.” Lisa Hutchison
“I loved the book. [The Man Behind the Marathons] So glad for the way you set it up. It kept me reading. And then the section on Ron came just as I was about headed to Google to see what led Ron to be the guy he was. The quality of the paper was a real asset. Top quality for a top quality story about a top quality guy. Congratulations. I felt your heart in every page. Thanks for letting me have an early look at the book. Very cherished.” Sue Hilborn
“Just finished your book. [The Man Behind the Marathons] It is great – so many interesting things about Terry and Steve (whom I had forgotten about). Ron’s story is, if possible, even more interesting. I can see why you were drawn into his life as a suitable subject for your first nonfiction. I did wonder how Ron’s one set of clothes washed by his mother every night were dry for school the next morning . . . and which race your ‘young daughter’ beat you in.” Wayne C.
“Just finished all three and enjoyed the stories as they were woven into the history of that area. Congratulations!” Lorrie Miller on Facebook, reacting to The Loyalist Legacy‘s Chill With a Book Award.
“It was a pleasure to be at the LWS meeting last night. Great information shared. Love your books and writing style. I will give them as gifts. They bring this time in history to life in a way that one will never forget. Thank you!” Rosemary
“Elaine Cougler has written a page-turning novel of the American Revolution through the eyes of a conflicted loyalist soldier and his indomitable wife. You’ll feel the hardship of homesteading, the fear of the enemy, the blows of battle, and the pain of separation. You’ll be transported through history. This is not just a novel written about another time, it seems written in another time.” Terry Fallis, author of The Best Laid Plans, Stephen Leacock medal winner
“I bought all three books at Probus club meeting in London. I loved the stories. I am now a student reading more about the war of 1812. Thank you for your stories. Love your writing style.” Gwen Moore
“I was delighted with the way you handled the Norwich Rebellion in the last Loyalist book, Elaine, and have heard many positive comments about it.” Marie A.
“I’m an impatient reader. If my interest isn’t piqued right from the get-go, I simply don’t continue reading the book. Both of the Loyalist books drew me in immediately!” Elaine B
“The Loyalist’s Luck is one of the best sequels I’ve read in a long time. It picks up right where The Loyalist’s Wife left off and takes the reader to Canada with a group of Loyalists escaping the American Revolution.” Denise F