Tag Archives: historical romance

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

Free Me Author Ann Brown

Moonday Mania

today featuring a debut author

Today I’m on a panel of shifter experts on Brinda Berry’s blog. Click HERE to check it out and enter to win prizes!

Ann Brown is a fellow Passion in Print author who I met at my local RWA chapter, Colorado Romance Writers. Ann has an award winning story with an unusually dark beginning that gave me chills. Makes me wonder what is under that sunny-side-up exterior that shines from Ann. Free Me is the first in a three book series about sisters who face the odds and come up winners.  Please welcome, debut historical author, Ann Brown to Jessica Aspen Writes. 

Free Me is an historical romance novel about Isabelle McAllister, the oldest sister in a trilogy of novels about the McAllister sisters.

free me by ann brown Isabelle McAllister is incarcerated for murdering her father, and later transferred to an insane asylum. Robert Easterman is accused of thievery by his lover, and temporarily contained at an institution for the criminally insane. The two convicts escape, race through the countryside, and sequester themselves in a secret glade. Isabelle and Rob assuage angst in each other’s arms. Twists of fate, deception, and family tragedy divide the lovers, but ultimately nothing deters the devotion of one man for an escaped murderess, and nothing deters the love of one small woman for the man who would dare to rescue her.

This novel is about fortitude in the face of adversity. Isabelle is as down as a person can be, without support, alone, imprisoned for a crime she did not commit, and must find the strength to believe in herself, to vindicate herself. She must let go of the belief that she is unlovable, and embrace the love Rob offers, embrace the strength through devotion this man in her life is willing to give to her and her alone. And she does.

In writing Free Me I employed craft skills I learned through Margie Lawsons learning packets on Deep Editing, Empowering Characters’ Emotions, and Writing Body Language Like a Psychologist. Class information helped me write fresher similes and metaphors, improved my dialogue tags, and empowered the delivery of my scenes through enriched non-verbal communication and body language nuances. I absolutely loved empowering characters’ emotions since I have a history of writing poetry, and poetry delivers rich, powerful, concise emotionally evocative pieces. I also learned more about stimulus-response couplets, and the need to keep them close together. A stimulus occurs. Visceral response. Body language/action. Dialogue. So natural. It makes so much sense. I’m not sure why I didn’t get it before, why I continue to make mistakes in this arena.

Free Me, a historical romance novel by Ann Brown, can be purchased in its print version through

Amazon or Barns & Noble. If you prefer e-books, you can find Free Me on Passion In Print’s website, Amazon, B&N, Allromanceebooks, Kobo, Bookstrand, and Fictionwise.




romance author ann brownAnn Brown lives in Colorado with her husband, a musician, her two children, and their two crazy dogs Buster and Tehya. When not writing, Ann works as a small animal veterinarian in Broomfield, Colorado. Ann is a member of Romance Writers of America and Colorado Romance Writers. You can learn more about Ann at www.annbrownauthor.com.


Filed under guest post, Moonday mania, writing craft

Wowza! Pamela Clare’s Defiant

Sensational Saturday

a blog for whatever

As many of you know, I love book trailers. I’m definitely going to have one for my next release, Snow and the Seventh Wolf, when it comes out in 2013. In the meantime I have become a book trailer junkie, scoping out my friends book trailers and sighing enviously over their gorgeous scenery, lovely music, and all those hot men with six-pack abs.

So it’s no wonder that when I saw that two of my favorite authors had gotten together and put together a book trailer I sashayed right on over to YouTube and got that puppy up and running. But oh, no baby, I was not prepared.

Not prepared for the absolute gorgeousness of the scenery, the sound, the man.

And I really wasn’t prepared for the…da-da-da-da!


Yes, you got it right. This is film, baby!

I love Pamela Clare‘s books. Not that I’ve read her historicals, I haven’t. I’ve only read her absolutely amazing suspense series. So I’m unfamiliar with the McKinnon’s Ranger series, but if you read historical I have it on the best authority that these books are just the same high quality as Pamela’s suspense. And of course, they are full of hot Scotsman. What more could a romance reader want?

Well, you might want to see that same hot Scotsman running through the woods in a live action shot. Picture Last of the Mohicans and you’ve got the idea. Pamela got together with Jenn LeBlanc, whose illustrated historicals have made history themselves, and the two of them (and a few other people) got together and WAMMO! a live action book trailer.

Okay, I’ve teased you enough. Enjoy!

And, just for fun here are the covers to the entire MacKinnon series. Check out Pamela’s Books too!

Pamela Clare's Surrender

Defiant by Pamela Clare


Filed under Book Trailers, Sensational Saturday's

Fighting the Muse

Moonday Mania

a blog on the craft (struggles) of writing

My guest for today’s Moonday Mania is Meggan Connors. Megan (as you might pick up from her post today) writes everything from dark paranormal to historical. Her debut novel, The Marker, not only has a gorgeous cover, but a terrific plot. Please welcome Meggan, and her struggles with her muse, to Jessica Aspen Writes.

If you’ve visited any of my sites recently, you’ll see that my muse has been giving me fits.

The issue is that she’s busy, but not in the way I want her to be. Conversations with my muse of late have centered around the sweet sounds of the seventies and what I should do with the two pounds of cranberries my husband bought a few weeks ago.

It is unfortunate for me that the seventies are alive and well in my head. It’s not like these songs are evoking memories for me. I barely remember the seventies.

And yet, I find myself pondering pina coladas and getting caught in the rain (I’ve decided that while I do enjoy a good pina colada, getting caught in the rain is cold. And wet, but not in a good way). I find myself contemplating showgirls named Lola, which invariably leads to thoughts of Charo.

Yes, Charo. I don’t get it either.

Somehow, Charo leads to memories of my mother’s Renault Le Car. I can sing every one of Neil Diamond’s songs because of the rocking eight-track in that car. It still doesn’t give me anything to write, but now I have Sweet Caroline on repeat in my head.

I’ve tried to drown out the voices with Rihanna and Mumford and Sons and The Killers.

Instead, I get, Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?

               For the love of all that is holy, muse, give me something to write! Or at least stop the infernal singing. I’m begging you.

What happened to your love of the tortured stuff? I could at least work with that. Come on, if we’re going to sing songs from the past, why can’t it be something from my past? Depeche Mode, The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, or something like that. I could work with that. But I can’t do anything with these vague flashbacks of being four years old and getting carsick to John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High.

It’s enough to drive a (relatively) sane girl completely nuts.

Thanks for having me, Jessica!

Meggan Connor’s (www.megganconnors.com) next book will be titled: Lola’s Rocky Mountain High is Close to You, Sweet Caroline. She smells a bestseller. At least, that’s what she thinks she’s smelling. However, the dog is close by…

Find the Marker HERE

Her real book, The Marker, was released December 14 from SoulMate Publishing, and

can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the SoulMate website (www.soulmatepublishing.com). She loves to hear from readers, and you can find her at www.megganconnors.com or on Facebook. We’ll be having prizes and giveaways, so friend her and find out about them!

Thanks for sharing your struggles with your muse, Meggan. Share with Meggan how your muse taunts helps you. Or let her know about your love for the seventies music. Cheesy, but fun to rock out to!


Filed under channeling success, Goal Setting, Moonday mania