Archive for November, 2009



Release the hounds… I mean, books!
by Jessa Slade on November 30th, 2009

Currently working on: Racing deadlines
(Have you looked at a calendar lately?!)
Mood: Arriba, arriba!

Congratulations to fellow Silk And Shadows author Sharon Ashwood on the release of SCORCHED tomorrow!  Happy almost-Release Day, Sharon!

The writing life might be mostly (okay, by percentages, pretty much only) hours at a computer – just writer and words and weird, echoy voices in your head — but there are a few highlights, and the release of a new book is definitely one of them.  It’s been two whole months since my first book came out, and I’m still having tons of fun with it.

For example, I just attended my first book club meeting with the Cheeky Pages Romance Book Club at Powells Books in Beaverton.  Kind of scary, since they were readers who’d actually read SEDUCED BY SHADOWS.  To ward off any potential scariness in the form of literary criticism, I bribed them with brought two cakes from His Bakery, arguably (and yes, I’m happy to argue this point with you if it means a taste-testing tour) one of the best bakeries in Portland.

cakes

(Pictured from left: Raspberry Revel in White and Chocolate Indulgence — Comfortably serves 18 romance-reading ladies with enough left over for XY and breakfast. I can also vouch for their chocolate chip cookies and breads.  Yum.)

jessa-chicagoEarlier this month, I also went to Chicago for a stock book signing tour.  Stock signing is a guerrilla book tour where the author hits as many bookstores as she can, signing the books in stock (hence “stock signing”) and putting a cute “Signed by author” sticker on the front.  Every copy of SEDUCED BY SHADOWS I could find in every Borders and Barnes & Noble and Anderson’s in the Chicagoland area now has my awkward scrawl plus a bookmark plus a custom @1 temporary tattoo (inside joke from the story). 

(Pictured: Jessa Slade, somewhat chilly author who needs another haircut, on the new bridge to the Art Institute of Chicago Modern Wing (don’t get me started on the “string of lightbulbs” installation) with Millenium Park in the background.)

If you happen to live in Chicago and manage to find a book that I didn’t tag, I’m sorry.  I did a terrible job Googlemapping the tour — hey, it was my first! — and might have missed a store or two.  Especially if it was located next to a creepy alley or other potential demon fighting location, since I took a bunch of notes while I was there and might have gotten distracted.  Just email me jessa@jessaslade.com and I’ll mail you the bookmark and tattoo plus a signed bookplate.

The best part of finally having a book out is forcing my entire family to read it.

mega-books-sml

(Pictured above: Entire family reading SEDUCED BY SHADOWS — with certain pages excised for a certain person under 4′ tall.  Note the crazy pyramid of books on the tabletop behind us.)

Favorite stories from my first release — so far:

  • A co-worker of my dad’s sent him home with her copy for me to sign.  She attempted to give him the book in her office and he explained how he really, really wasn’t going to walk across the truckyard with Archer’s bare chest shining in the sun.  So the book came to me in plain, brown paper wrapping.  Archer as contraband!
  • Walking into a random Chicago bookstore to sign stock, finding a random salesperson to let her know I wasn’t defacing their property — honestly – and her saying, “Jessa Slade?  I know you!”  Really?!
  • My grandmother went to dinner at the retirement center the other night to find her fellow nonagenarians gleefully discussing “Page 100.”  Yes, my work here is done.

Have you ever attended a book signing or other author event?  What was your favorite part?  If — purely hypothetically — an author was going to bribe you with bring a cake, what flavor would you prefer and how many slices would ensure a six-star Amazon review?

Thankful for Every Day
by KimLenox on November 29th, 2009

I’ve started writing this post about five times, and each time deleted my words because they sound so SAPPY! Maybe I am sappy?

I am! I am sappy! It’s okay, because it’s Thanksgiving.

Did you travel for Thanksgiving? I did! Just a few hours, by car.

As a few other Silk & Shadows authors have mentioned, 2009 has been a difficult year in many ways. Yes it has! But as you can see from their posts (and mine!) challenging times have a way of bringing life into focus. What am I most thankful for? That’s such an easy question to answer — my family.

I could list out a million other things I’m thankful for, but that’s my Numero Uno Answer.

Thanksgiving is about family and friends and … well, YA — food! I think cornbread stuffing (or “dressing”) is my favorite dish.

What’s yours? Even if you aren’t from the US, what’s your favorite traditional “gathering” food?

Congratulations to our winners!
by Sharon Ashwood on November 26th, 2009

Congratulations to Riva L., winner of Jocelynn Drake’s wonderful book draw!

And, more congratulations to Lisa G., who won Diane Whiteside’s prize!

Gimme Turkey
by Sharon Ashwood on November 25th, 2009

picasso-sm

Yep, there’s a lot to be thankful for this year. First and foremost, I’m still standing after the perfect storm of circumstances that made this the busiest autumn ever. For one thing, I finished a six-year slog of financial courses, and that all by itself is worth a whole pumpkin pie. I’ve recently been blessed with a second helping of work at my day job to make up for missing staff. I’ve also released two books and written a third (hopefully none turkeys), plus all the attendant promotional trimmings. Writing is truly a labour of love, and I’ve been blessed by having that love acknowledged. I’m hugely grateful for writing friends and readers, who’ve cheered me along through the highs, lows, bottlenecks, and indigestion.

There have been some sad moments. Two coworkers suffered serious illnesses, one fatal. To put it simply, it’s too easy to take people for granted, and it’s hard when you lose one of the good guys.

I’m thankful for little things, like the stroke of luck that yesterday led me past about three hundred rain-drenched Twilight fans and into a primo movie seat with zero waiting time. And big things – like having food in the fridge. Most of all, I’m grateful that I’m in a position to help myself to survive. So many aren’t.

abby-sm

In conjunction with some animal-loving friends, I’ve put together a “send an ecard, help an animal” page on my web site. The ecards are free to you, but for every one sent, a small donation is made toward the veterinary care of a fuzzy friend in need. Check it out for a hit of instant good karma.

pax1

Talking Turkey
by Annette McCleave on November 24th, 2009

As the end of 2009 draws near, it’s a natural time to reflect. The old year is settling back on its heels, and the new year is bright and shiny and just visible around the corner. Sometimes it’s hard to see that brightness, especially when things have been particularly dark, but the light is always there if you look for it.

I’m grateful for many things this year…

1. The roof over my head and the food on my table. So many people, especially now, are going without. I’m lucky, and I know it.

2. My health and the health of my loved ones. Having been hit hard by cancer, my family is particularly conscious of how short life can be. We’ve learned to make every minute last.

3. My family. The product of a military life of the move, my family has always been tightly knit, but amazingly, as the years pass, we seem to grow even closer.

4. My dreams. Two years ago, my dream of becoming a published author was just that, a dream. This year, it’s reality. If I had never dared to dream, if I had never pursued that dream with passion, my reality would be very different.

5. The people who inspire me. The world news delivered to our door each day can be harsh and cruel and dispiriting. But time and time again, I’ve been blessed to see and hear stories of courage and selflessness that make me proud to be human. Sometimes those stories come from people I don’t know, sometimes from my friends and neighbors. Sometimes they’re about little things, sometimes large and wondrous things. Many times the inspiration comes from unexpected sources, including honest and heartfelt comments on blogs like this one.

6. My readers. This one is new, and absolutely amazing. I’ve received wonderful letters from readers who’ve connected with my characters. That they’ve taken time out of their busy lives to write me and tell me so has repeatedly put a huge smile on my face.

I hope all of you have a terrific Thanksgiving holiday. Stay safe, eat well, and be loved.

Giving thanks
by Jessa Slade on November 23rd, 2009

Currently working on: National Novel Writing Month (which, in order to meet my deadline, is actually National Novel Writing Quarter)
Mood: Is there an adjective for ‘hip waders’?

This is a thoughtful time of year for me.  The combination of the calendar’s end, the long hours of darkness, the overconsumption of carbohydrates, and those crazy “family newsletters” tucked into Christmas cards from people I haven’t heard from since last year — all contribute to a general feeling of contemplative consideration.

This year has been particularly noteworthy because my first book came out.

thanksgiving

As a dream come true, “the year of the book” as my mom calls it also lent itself to multiple opportunities to fall on my knees in heartfelt, gleeful thanks.  I gave thanks for the sexy hero who made my lady friends go “ooh”; I gave thanks for my spectacular editor and agent who walked me through the maze; I gave a big sigh of relieved thanks when the book actually showed up on bookstore shelves last month and I could hold the dream in my hands…

I’m thankful for my writer friends who came out in White Russian-fueled giddiness to my first official booksigning; I’m thankful for the new reader friends who’ve sent me emails saying they liked the story and are waiting for the next one (me too!); I’m thankful for the idea butterflies (actually, some of them are dragons) that keep coming at me when I’m trying to sleep.

It’s been a difficult year too, with some of the world’s financial troubles echoed in my circle and in my home.  But I’m thankful it’s not worse, and I’m thankful those aforementioned idea dragons will always burn their way to the heart of a happy ending.  Hey, I’m thankful I write romance!

In the midst of my gratitude, of course, I also see all the ways I could’ve been/done/had better.  But that’s for New Year’s Resolutions.  For now…

thanksgiving-txt

(And you all can be thankful that my attempt to Photoshop a turkey under Archer’s arm was a miserable failure.)

History, how I love thee
by KimLenox on November 22nd, 2009

Current Status: ALIVE!
Working on: Copy edits for DARKER THAN NIGHT - due Tuesday!

As the historical writer in the Silk & Shadows bunch, I’m sure you know I loves me some smokin’ hot history. (How’s that for creative grammar?)

Growing up and on through college, history classes were always my favorite. I know a lot of people find history dry and boring, but it’s never been that way for me. Regardless of the skill of my instructors or professors, my imagination always saw things in vivid color and three dimensional detail.

I think one thing that’s always been so alluring to me about the past, is the danger. Our modern day life is dangerous enough, but wow - even more so in the past, there was so much that could go wrong in a given day and those involved couldn’t just flip out their cell phone and make a 911 call to the authorities. They had to deal with the unexpected as it came along. And even though I don’t really care to have a lot of danger in MY daily life…danger’s kind of sexy. Men and women alike really show their true potential when the pressure is on to survive or to save the ones they love.

I loved Sharon’s post (see below!). It’s true. So many people make assumptions about the past, and stereotype previous societies into the clean little boxes created by very helpful book resources such as “Everyday life in (whatever era).”

But no doubt about it, there was a lot of misbehavior and rebellion and individuality through the centuries. It’s so much fun, as an author, to read between the lines of the recorded history and fiction written during those times.

What do I look for when I’m researching my historicals? I look for the colorful, the intriguing, and sometimes the quirky and bizarre. I also try to write historicals that will appeal to fans of both historical novels and contemporary. In my mind, my historicals always have a contemporary sound track. Lots of The Cure, and Smashing Pumpkins and Shiny Toy Guns. It’s a blend of all the things I love.

I went with my family to the renaissance festival yesterday and did a lot of people watching — there are a lot of very interesting variations and interpretations of history on display. I’ve got my new Tartanic CD playing now, drums and bagpipes, but with a real contemporary power. My creativity is waking up and … hey, I want to write!

Do you like/love/adore history like ME, or does it put you to sleep!?

Running Amok
by Our Guest on November 19th, 2009

This week, Silk And Shadows is thrilled to have Judi Fennell with us.  Wondering how such jewel-bright covers could hide a Silk And Shadows-style darkness?  Well, when you’re that far under the waves…  Make sure you read all the way down to learn about Judi’s fabulous getaway contest for the series. 

judi_fennellWhen I was invited to do this guest blog, Jessa said I could “run amok.”

She must not know me very well, ’cause if you tell me I can run amok, well, I’m pretty much going to go with it.

Which, actually, ties in well with my latest release, Wild Blue Under. There’s lots of “amok-ing” going on. Lots of “muck” too. (That is what happens when you get a couple flocks of birds together, you know?)

But what do birds have to do with Mermen, you ask? After all, Wild Blue Under is about Mer Prince, Rod Tritone, who has to travel to land-locked Kansas to bring the half-Mer Princess, Valerie Dumere, back to Atlantis so that he can claim the throne. But Atlantis is under water, and, aside from penguins, there aren’t exactly a plethora of birds under the sea. So where do the flocks come in?

Wild Blue Under is the second in my Mer series. In In Over Her Head (released June 2009) we have a Human named Erica end up in the sea where she discovers a Merman named Reel. He’s Rod’s brother, and, yes, I do see the humor in their names. I hadn’t actually planned it though; Rod showed up when Erica heard Reel’s name for the first time. “You got a friend Rod around here anywhere?” she asked. To which Reel shot back, “As a matter of fact, he’s my brother. He’s in charge of the South Atlantic.”

I sat back and looked at my computer screen and said, “Really? He does? He is?” and that’s how Rod came into being.

wbuBut I couldn’t write the same Human-in-the-water story that I’d done for In Over Her Head, so this time I decided to play on all the fish/water puns I’d had so much fun with in the first book and make Wild Blue Under a true fish-out-of-water story. Best way to do that was to bring Rod onto land. But once I did that, I needed a bad guy and since Humans aren’t supposed to know about Mers, it had to be someone from the ocean. But how do I get him on land?

Without stretching credibility too far (I know, kinda hard NOT to do when you’re talking Mermen…), I used birds. Hired guns, as it were. Mercenaries. Thugs.

Birds can do all sorts of things on land that we Humans can’t, by virtue of their ability to fly. Dropping fish bombs from fifty feet up? Yep. Swooping down into your face only to cut away at the last second, leaving you to drive into a field? Definite possibility. Dive bombing your car so you’ll crash? Oh, yeah, baby. They got that in spades. It was Amok Heaven.

And of course, all that life-and-death amok-i-ness just makes it that much easier for the hero and heroine to band together to defeat the bad guys. Or rather, it should… unless the hero happens to mention that he’s taking the heroine to the ocean. You know the ocean? The one she’s allergic to?

So now she thinks he’s trying to kill her, too. As I said, amok.

But, as with all romances, this tail has a happy ending. I mean, this tale. No. Wait. Which one do I mean? I’ve written those words over and over so much lately that it’s hard to remember which one it is.

Will Valerie get a tail? Or is Rod’s tall tale just that? Do they get tails? Do they get tail? (Oops, sorry. It’s that “amok” thing, you know…)

But beneath the wild blue under, amid the “amok,” you’ll find the answers.

Just watch where you step. :)

*          *          *

So thanks, Jessa and ladies, for having me. I was thrilled when you offered today’s post because today is a special day to me. If you read the dedication page, you’ll see that I’ve dedicated Wild Blue Under to my grandmother. She’s been one of my beta readers for my stories and has always been one of my biggest supporters all along, never doubting that the stories would see the light of day.

I’m happy to say that she’s still with us, and today is her birthday. The 60th anniversary of her 29th, though to look at her, you definitely wouldn’t believe it (it’s those Italian genes. They keep you young looking!)

So I’d like to say thanks for having me here today and happy birthday, Nan! (And, yes, she is internet savvy, so hopefully she’ll be popping in to read this. Whether or not she’ll comment is anyone’s guess…)

Here’s some of the “amok” for you to enjoy:

*          *          *

“Get ready to slam on the brakes, Valerie.” Rod sat back.

“Brakes?” At this speed, the car would spin out, and having already done its lifelong quotient of Indy driving today, that probably wasn’t a good idea. She’d been a cabby, not a stunt driver.

Rod braced his hands on the dashboard. “You wedged in, Livingston?”

“As well as possible. How much longer?”

Rod leaned over as far as the belt would allow, which, in her small car, was pretty darn close. “Twenty seconds.”

“Okay, Valerie.” It felt weird to be taking directions from a voice beneath Rod’s tush. Not that anything was odd about this situation to begin with…

“… to let them fly past.”

“What?” She shook her head. Mind off his butt, Val.

“Fish, woman, weren’t you listening?”

“Livingston-” Rod’s interjection was harsh.

“Right. My apologies. What we need you to do, Valerie, is slow down at the last possible second. Apply as much pressure to the brakes as you can without spinning us so the peregrines miscalculate. Their missiles tend to be other avians, which are more dangerous than JR’s small fish. Got it?”

“Yeah.” She exhaled. She so did not want to be doing this. But then, she wasn’t exactly into cleaning roadkill-airkill?-off her roof either.

“Ten.” Rod braced his palms against the dash.

Val scanned the road ahead. No more cars, thank God.

“Nine… eight…”

Val swiped her palm against her side, wrapping the fingers of her left hand around the steering wheel.

“Seven… six…”

She then dried her right hand on the other side of her shirt and curled her hand over the stick shift.

“Five… four…”

She inhaled.

“Three…two…”

“Now!” Livingston screeched.

Wanting to close her eyes, amazed she was going to do this yet again, and still hating that screech, Val took her foot off the gas, stepped on the clutch, swung the car out of gear, and slammed on the brakes.

Two slate-blue projectiles shot inches above the hood of the car. Whatever the birds were carrying had missed them by a hairsbreadth.

“Go go go go go!” Livingston roared.

A seagull could roar? Val shook it off, reversed everything she’d just done, and forced the protesting engine back to work.

But peregrines could turn on a dime and they weren’t known as some of the best hunters for no reason.

“Guys, we can’t keep doing this,” she panted, a bead of perspiration trickling its way down her temple.

“They misfired. They’ll have to reload. That’ll give us some time.”

“What if we just pull over and talk to them? Maybe offer them more than whoever-it-is is paying them?”

Rod looked at her as if she’d suggested a transgender operation, and even Livingston poked his yellow beak out from under the seat.

“What?” she asked the two testosterone-spouting males.

“We do not negotiate with terrorists.” Rod said it so low that, by rights, she shouldn’t have been able to hear it, but the timbre of his voice vibrated the words through her very bones.

That was silly. They were just birds. Okay, birds with dead things in their talons, but still… “Terrorists? Let’s be real here, guys.” Guy and bird… Whatever.

The bird popped out from under the seat. “Look, chicky-”

“Valerie.” Rod gripped her arm. “I don’t think you comprehend the seriousness of the situation. They are-”

“You’re right.” She yanked her arm away, then had to straighten out the car because being manhandled did not gel with high-speed driving. “I don’t comprehend it, because you won’t explain it. I don’t see how falcons can be terrorists. I don’t see how any of this is even possible. Yesterday I’m minding my own business, worried about seagulls, and now I’ve got albatrosses and peregrines and God-knows-what-else dropping dead stuff on me! And you’re acting like I’m supposed to think this is normal!”

“Enough chitchat, people!” Livingston was back to peering out the rear window. “We can discuss it later. Right now, I’ve got avians on the wing, starboard, coming in low. Two missiles each. I repeat, two missiles each.”

“I heard you the first time,” Val muttered under her breath. She took a deep one, re-gripped the steering wheel, and pushed the gas pedal down, getting ready for whatever the Universe–and the birds–threw at her next.

© Judi Fennell

Wild Blue Under
Judi Fennell
Sourcebooks, Inc.
November, 2009
ISBN#:9781402224270

Rod Tritone is all set to take over the Mer kingdom when his father retires, until the ruling council tells him he has to marry first. The council gives him legs for the duration of his mission, as well as his future queen’s address and phone number.

She’s Valerie Dumere, the daughter of a Mer father and a human mother who raised her in landlocked Kansas. When devastatingly handsome Rod Tritone shows up and tries to tell her about the kingdom under the sea, not only does she think he’s crazy, she’s determined that’s the last place she’d ever want to go.

Then a vicious squad of seagulls tries to stop the Mer Prince from inheriting his throne and Val finds out about her true nature. Now she has to make the choice of a lifetime–stay on land, or follow Rod to his underwater world…

What people are saying about Wild Blue Under:

“Fennell returns with another underwater adventure, her second story about the Tritone brothers. She’s proving herself to be a solid storyteller, and this tale is an enjoyable and pleasant read.”
-Devon Paige, RT BookReviews Magazine.com

“Wild Blue Under” is the second book of author, Judi Fennell’s Mer Trilogy, and the first of hers I have read and definitely won’t be the last! This book was such a fun, delightful read.”
-Jaime, Revenge of the Book Nerds

“Judi Fennell is a bright star on the horizon of romance.
-Judi McCoy, author of Hounding the Pavement

“The best Mer book I’ve ever read.”
-Rowena Cherry, author of Knight’s Fork

“Bubbly fun! Judi Fennell whips together talking birds, princely peril and a sexy Mer man in this sparkling ‘under the sea’ tale.”
-Virginia Kantra, USA Today best-selling author

 What people are saying about In Over Her Head:

“Nora Roberts? Danielle Steel? Much acclaimed romance writers should step aside. There is a new romance writer in town and she is certainly causing a great splash with her debut novel, In Over Her Head.”
-ABibliophile.com

“I truly found a pearl in my oyster when I read this delightful tale. I was surprised how good of a book In Over Her Head is. It is extremely well-written, the storyline flows and I was hooked from the first page.”
-LongAndShortReviews.blogspot.com

“IN OVER HER HEAD is a delightful, quirky blend of humor, adventure and passion. All in all, this is a fast, fun read and a great way to spend a snowy afternoon or a sunny day at the beach.”
-Lynda K. Scott, Star-Crossed Romance

“The beauty will draw you in, the action will get your pulse racing and the sensual scenes will keep your eyes glued to the pages.”
-Katrina, Bloody Bad

“In Over Her Head is a heartwarming, but action-packed story of two people-one human and the other of the seaworthy body-joined together in an adventure. I enjoyed this story immensely.”
-Dawn M. Ekinia, Armchair Interviews

“A delightful underwater adventure… full of good-natured humor and fun. A strong first effort by a promising new talent.”
-Romantic Times

“A playful debut… sincere wit.”
-Publisher’s Weekly

About The Author:
Judi Fennell has had her nose in a book and her head in some celestial realm all her life, including those early years when her mom would exhort her to “get outside!” instead of watching Bewitched or I Dream of Jeannie on television. So she did–right into Dad’s hammock with her Nancy Drew books.

These days she’s more likely to have her nose in her laptop and her head (and the rest of her body) at her favorite bookstore, but she’s still reading, whether it be her latest manuscript or friends’ books.

A three-time finalist in online contests, Judi has enjoyed the reader feedback she’s received and would love to hear what you think about her Mer series. Check out her website at www.JudiFennell.com for excerpts, reviews and fun pictures from reader and writer conferences, and the chance to “dive in” to her stories.

Contest
To celebrate the release of each of her books, Judi Fennell and the Atlantis Inn (www.AtlantisInn.com) and the Hibiscus House (www.HibiscusHouse.com) bed and breakfasts are raffling off three romantic beach getaway weekends. All information is on Judi’s website, www.JudiFennell.com

The past is what we make it
by Sharon Ashwood on November 18th, 2009

History is very much in the eye of the beholder. Historians readily admit that they view the past through the lens of their own experience and beliefs. So do novelists—we very purposefully nip and tuck to make a time or event suit our narrative needs. As Annette observes in her post, success is about finding a balance between storytelling and fact.

We need accuracy to keep us in the story. TV and movies drive me crazy. Case in point—I saw a low budget mini-series about King Arthur wherein the knights wore chain mail that was knitted as we understand the term—from gray yarn. True, the term for making chain mail is “knitting” it, but this was taking poetic license a little far. At least the guys at the Round Table were warm as they bounced around looking for the Holy Grail, which may well have been a Dixie Cup at the rate they were going.

Historical novels can have similar problems—a common touch is medieval maidens in diaphanous lace gowns, or staring into lovely glass mirrors. Neither is likely, unless our maid had a shopping channel time machine. Then again, stories can collapse under the weight of too much accuracy, or maybe that was me collapsing into a stupor beneath an onslaught of narrative-killing detail.

While most will agree a happy middle ground is the Holy Dixie Cup, there is one other phenomenon that muddies the waters. I’ll call it perceived history—the one where Henry VIII tossed chicken bones, men in full plate armour were winched onto horses, and no one bathed before at least 1850. Sometimes, this is the history people want to find in their books, and I know historical authors who receive angry letters when they transgress by introducing the truth.

Exhibit A: the contraction. Much historical dialogue is written with nery a contraction in sight. A perusal of eighteenth century correspondence (or drama) reveals that “ain’t” was in common use long before grammar teachers began excising it from our schoolwork. In informal letters, they used slang and contractions as freely as we do. When writing to their elders and betters, they put their best prose forward.

Exhibit B: society manners. Not all knights were knightly, not all maidens maidenly. Not all women of the Regency were Jane Austen-perfect. I hate it when someone says “no one from back then would behave like that!” One peek at the Victorian underworld shows just how much human behaviour can vary from its public face.

I guess there’s nothing wrong with having idealized versions of the past—that’s part of the glory of escapism—but I have always loved it when I’m reading through old journals or letters and run across something that lets me know people haven’t changed all that much. I’m curious about why Mr. Q was worried about entertaining houseguests, or girl A wanted to know boy B far better than she should, or Mrs. X wondered how to pay the grocer’s bill. It’s all trivia, but it’s telling and it’s real. I feel connected, like suddenly someone’s waved hello through time.

Historical Delight
by Annette McCleave on November 17th, 2009

There are books that stick to historical facts with quiet, relentless honesty, and other books that play fast and loose with the facts. The truth is, I can enjoy both. But the book needs to be done well, and the story needs to be entertaining.

Who hasn’t read a book where some anachronistic element pulled them from the story? Either dialog we all recognize as modern, or some part of the setting that underscores a blatant lack of research. It can be annoying, because the pacing of the story takes a hit while you stop to wonder—did that really happen?

But haven’t most of us experienced the opposite delight, as well? The author who manages to sneak in some wonderful period detail that makes you smile, or—gasp—even educates you? Gifted storytellers like Elizabeth Chadwick have taken me into history in a wonderfully enjoyable—and accurate—way.

the-greatest-knight

But I’m not so tied to the TRUTH that I can’t look past it.

Take Naomi Novik’s books, for example. She took the Napoleonic Wars and merged them with a world that includes dragons. Yes, dragons. In effect, she created an alternate universe that stays remarkably true to many of the historical realities of the times and completely turns others on their heads. Her books are a tasty buffet of epic history and pure fantasy.

Cover art for His Majestys Dragon Naomi Novik

Our own Kim Lenox does an amazing job with the Victorian era in her Shadow Guards series, as well. Am I learning history from these books? Maybe the odd bit. But that’s not why I’m reading them. I’m reading them because they do what they’re supposed to do—they entertain me. They draw me into that world, as implausible as it may seem, and they use the rich tapestry of history to make the stories come alive. Can I really ask for more?

Do you have a favorite book or series that blends reality and fiction in a satisfying way?