Tag Archives: elaine couglar

Setting is Much More Than Time, Place, and Atmosphere

Moonday Mania

guest blogger Elaine Cougler

Last chance to enter to win one of ten e-copies of my brand-new, fantasy romance: The Dark Huntsman. Click HERE to enter, contest ends soon. Want to sample a bite? Click HERE for a teaser from chapter one.

Today instead of my typical romance authors I have the pleasure of introducing my online friend, Elaine Cougler. Despite living miles apart in different countries, going to school in different decades, and writing different genres, I am always amazed at how much Elaine and I have in common. One of those things is loving history and reading historical fiction. Elaine loves it so much that she has authored an amazing account of the American Revolutionary War, but from a totally unusual viewpoint: that of the Loyalists who moved to Canada. Her exciting tale of John and Lucy’s adventures is meticulously researched and thoroughly enjoyable. Usually I do an introduction for my guests, but if you sneak a peek down to the next paragraph, you’ll see Elaine has done a fabulous job introducing me! Please welcome Elaine Cougler to Jessica Aspen Writes.

A considerable benefit to taking my writing career on an extended trip through various social media is the wonderful people I’ve met along the way. Writing can be solitary and full of angst but people like Jessica who absolutely understand ease the journey. Thank you, Jessica, for inviting me to your blog today!

Setting is Much More Than Time, Place, and Atmosphere

The other day I was reading one of my favorite how-to writing magazines (The Writer, October, 2013) and came across an article on setting in novels and I was enthralled. Elfrieda Abbe not only talks about location under various headings (influences, credibility, character, emotion, atmosphere, and symbolism and theme) but she shows how David Rhodes, in Jewelweed, uses place to absolutely ground many aspects of his novel. After this excellent article comes an annotated segment of Jewelweed, showing just how certain sentences use Rhodes’ technique.

This is far advanced from what we learned in high school: setting equals time, place, and atmosphere. And the use of this technique helps readers to sink into the layers of the work in such a way as to lead them to a point where they are living the story and not just reading it.

In The Loyalist’s Wife, I used Lucy’s surroundings to show her loneliness, but also to underline the beauty of that unspoiled land. (The wilderness of 1778 New York State.)  And the contrast of that pristine beauty worked well against the scenes of punishing battles and even the interior struggles of both John and Lucy. In this excerpt the description of Lucy’s surroundings underlines her fear.

the loyalist's wife by elaine couglerHours later, a piece of wood in the fire fell and Lucy jerked upright, her wild eyes darting about the dark cabin. The candle had died. By the dim light from the stove she could see she was alone, but outside Molly [the cow] bawled and the chickens were clucking in a dreadful cacophony of frightening sounds. What was out there? She bumped against the table on the way to the window.

Solid black was all she saw through the running raindrops on the glass, except for a faint patch of limpid light, not even light, just a silver lightening in the grass, the window’s weak reflection. The animals settled and she breathed more slowly. They could wait till daylight.

The fire fixed, she went to the bedroom where she lay under the patchwork quilt, fully clothed, eyes wide open, the loaded rifle scant inches from her hand.


The Loyalist’s Wife:

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.

elaine couglerElaine blogs at On Becoming a Wordsmith which may be found at www.elainecougler.com. She also is frequently found here: @ElaineCougler, Facebook/ElaineCouglerAuthor, and LinkedIn author groups. The Loyalist’s Wife is available on Amazon (print and e-book) and Kobo (e-book).  www.amazon.com  www.kobo.com


Filed under guest post, Moonday mania, writing craft


bijoux, the little jewels I’ve reaped from the retreat

Moonday Madness

a writer oriented blog

Wine, writing and song, (okay, nobody sang, thank God) that’s what writing retreats are made of. As many of you know I attended my very first Colorado Romance Writers September Writing Retreat last weekend. As to why I didn’t write about it last week, well I was still processing.

Our estimable retreat organizers packed the weekend with workshops, hilarious games and time to write. In fact there was so much going on I was never bored and wished we could keep going for another few days. It seems like September is the month for writer’s retreats as my friends Sharon Clare and Sherry Isaac at Romance and Beyond as well as Elaine Cougler were also at their own lakefront retreat and I’ve read of others who were retreating as well.

Why do we have retreats? One of the things I learned was that everyone goes to CRW’s retreats for different purposes. Some went to connect. To make new friends, see old ones and to get that piece of the business that writers are frequently shorted on, face to face conversation. Some went to write. To have time in a beautiful mountain setting where there were no kids, no job, no pesky husbands vying for their attention. Some went not knowing what they were going for, but all went home satisfied.

Why did I go? I wasn’t sure at first. This was my first retreat and I didn’t know really what to expect. I packed my laptop and WIP, hoping to finish those stubborn last pages. I packed two bottles of wine, hoping to spend time with friends. And I packed my Ipod, just in case I wanted to shut out the noise and really work. And I did all that and more. I did do some work (I should underline the word some) on my WIP, I socialized and played games. But I also attended all three of the quality workshops.

Workshops presented by the fabulous Margie Lawson on Defeating Self Defeating Behaviors, Ann S. Brady on handling the grief of rejection, and Liz Pelletier of Entangled Publishing on what editors are looking for in today’s tough market. All three were so fantastic that I decided they each need their own blog. So look forward to future Moonday Madness posts detailing each one. I can’t take you on the retreat with me, but I am sure going to try!

How do you refresh your inkwell? Have you attended a retreat lately or is it still on your bucket list?


Filed under Moonday mania, Writer's Journey