Monday, September 29, 2014
Saturday, September 27, 2014
To The Living Section:
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
In order to write any historical fiction, some semblance of having done one's research is critical. Last month, one of my colleagues had been asked to review a novel set in a period of history in which she is a known scholar. Her estimation of the novel was low because the historical facts were at variance with her knowledge. The author included actual historical figures who had not yet been born, wrote about events that had happened decades earlier than the era current with his story.
These, if aware of the period in question, can halt a reader in their tracks and send the book hurling across the room. But how precise do fiction writers need to be to give the impression of verisimilitude?
Another of my colleagues has studied the history of clothing and medicine. Fortunately, I haven't made serious mistakes in my historical novels set in Wales in the 9th and 10th centuries for her to rush at me screaming but I was dismayed that so much of what we assume to be authentic is, at best, a misunderstanding and, at worst, downright dishonest.
While undertaking research for my American historical, I've learned that the saying "History is written by the victors" is disturbingly true. History cannot be accepted without question. All history is subjective, in the hands of the person or persons doing the recording, for whatever their reasons for presenting 'facts' or presiding over the elimination of other, inconvenient, 'facts.'
The same colleague who screams when she finds errors in fashion or medical treatment, declared that there was only one 'right' side of any conflict involving mankind: the side perceived by historians to be morally correct. However, there is another saying worth remembering: "The first casualty of war is Truth."
I had the honor of editing two volumes of women's autobiographical essays of their experiences in Wales during World War II. While these were personal experiences and written in good faith, memory is always selective and sometimes faulty.
Any personal account of an historical event may also be self-serving or deliberately falsified in order to put the chronicler in a good light or on the politically acceptable side of history.
Surely, when we are hundreds of years distant from an historical event that shaped our lives, we owe it to ourselves to take a deeper look, to find the Truth hidden by the convenient facts. If we perpetuate untruths for lack of research, or will, we do ourselves and our readers a disservice.
Mistakes about who was born or what events were taking place are much lesser sins than deliberate distortion. There is one more saying that encourages us to seek answers: "The Truth shall set you free."
Monday, September 22, 2014
By Fran McNabb
Friday, September 19, 2014
One thing writers try very hard to get right is their first line. Of course, we want to get every word, every line, right, but we all know that first impressions count, so we spend a little extra time honing that first line. So ... in the name of research ... and, just for the fun of it ... I took a little time to look at how some of my fellow Classic and Cozy authors began their novels. I found an interesting variety in the few I've chosen.
The first two begin (very effectively) with a one-word exclamation; for these two, I included the next sentence to give a sense of what prompted the single, excited cry. The third example is a short sentence that leaves no doubt that someone is facing a rough morning. The fourth is a bit longer, using a snippet of intriguing description. All, I think, do what their creator set out to do: arouse the reader's curiosity. The fifth is from one of my books, so I'll leave it to someone else to decide if it would entice a reader to continue (fingers crossed here).
In each case, I included a blurb after the first sentence to give an idea of where the story might be headed.
Five years after her fiancé, Michael, left her for a job on the other side of the country, Dr. Francesca Florentino is focused on her work as an emergency room physician and has no time for a love life. That is, until Josh Candolero charms his way into her heart on the same night Michael returns, vowing to win her back.
Meanwhile, Emily Handler, a 911 dispatcher married to her high school sweetheart for the last seventeen years, can’t seem to figure out what happened to that spark she and hubby, Roy, used to share in their marriage. A life-altering heart attack was not exactly the shake-up she had in mind.
If any of you have a first line you'd like to share, either one you've written or one by another writer, please feel free to include it as a comment. Of course, as always, we welcome any comment you care to leave.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
As a writer, I find each season a sensory delight, but autumn has magic for me the other seasons lack. I have to admit, autumn (not officially here until next week) is my favorite time of year.
Autumn doesn't have the extremes of summer or winter. The temperatures grow cooler, and days become more focused on family, on home and hearth.
Visually, it's a stunning time. The leaves on the trees beckon for an artist's touch, their bright green shade transforming by degrees into gold and scarlet.
Lawns are decorated with cornstalks and pumpkins and bales of hay. Children wait at the bus stop, dressed in their new clothes.
The air becomes crisper and carries the scents of apples and nutmeg.
At home, I go into "domestic mode." Everything gets an update--from the curtains on my windows to the food in my pantry. I spend weekends baking bread and cookies, brewing huge pots of soup and other comfort foods, and keeping the boys well-stocked with football-watching goodies.
Other benefits? I can go for a walk on the beach without slathering myself in sunscreen or fighting to get through a crowd. Any day can be pajama day. Hot cider. And of course, new seasons of my favorite television shows.
What are you looking forward to?
Gina Ardito is the award-winning international author of more
than twenty romances, a legendary singer in confined spaces (her car, the
shower, her office cubicle), and a killer of houseplants. She
hosts fun, informative workshops for writers around the country. In 2012, Gina
was named a Woman of Outstanding Leadership by the International Women’s
Leadership Association, but to her friends, she’s still just a shenanigator. A
native of Long Island, New York, she lives with her husband, two children, a
bionic dog, and their two cat overlords. For more info on Gina and her books,
you can visit her website at ginaardito.com, follow Gina on Facebook
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Instead of sitting down to write the next chapter, I went straight into organizing mode. Because who can be creative when surrounded by such a mess? Is this a writing avoidance technique? Maybe just a little bit.
Mystery author Kay Finch is currently writing her new Bad Luck Cat Mystery series set in the Texas Hill Country to be published by Berkley beginning in 2015. Her Klutter Killer mystery, Relative Chaos, features a professional organizer who finds a dead body in a hoarder's garage. Kay lives in a Houston, Texas suburb with her husband, two rescue dogs and a cat. Visit her web site at www.kayfinch.com.
Saturday, September 13, 2014
As a bonus, there are a number of interesting things in fairly easy driving. This time we did Stonehenge, which is a ninety-minute or so drive from Oxford, and Highclere Castle, better known to TV viewers as Downton Abbey.
|Highclere Castle from the back seen through the|
I did a series of blog posts on the trip and my observations and commentary on various things we did and experienced. The first of the series is here: http://kmccullough.com/kblog/heading-for-england-day-one/ (They’re not all posted yet. I’ll be putting up a few more in days to come.)
It was a great trip and I enjoyed every minute of it. Getting to hug and cuddle my delightful new grand-daughter was the most wonderful feature of the trip, but I’m always fascinated at experiencing the similarities and differences of the culture when I travel.
Still, there’s nothing like coming home. No matter how much I enjoy the travels, it’s good to sleep in my own bed, fix my favorite foods, drink my own coffee, and settle into my own armchair for reading.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Where to Start
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
It's also the beginning of Fall, my favorite season. My birthday is in September. Our wedding anniversary is in September. It’s still warm in the Northeast, but not sweltering hot as August often is. We have the beautiful fall foliage. And school starts. I was enough of a geek that I always looked forward to going back to school.
With the books I've written since then, I've thought about when it will be published and tried to mesh the story's season with the publication season (or close). And, just for fun, I checked the seasons my books are set in. Four are set in the fall, one in the winter, and the rest in the summer.
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Monday, September 8, 2014
Saturday, September 6, 2014
I used to take my windows for granted. They were just the square glass fixtures in every room of our house. Sometimes I even remembered to give them a good scrub to help maintain their luster. But recently a neighbor friend came over for coffee and she remarked about the nice "view" from the living room windows.
It occurred to me that perhaps our windows are doing more than we realize.