Monday, 28 October 2013

5 Facts to Writing Historical Fiction...

Writing historical fiction can be a long drawn out process. There's a ton of research involved and if you're not into research, then this isn't the genre for you. I wouldn't say writing historically is any different than writing any other genre, they all have rules. These rules aren't set in stone, but should be taken seriously as they could ruin your story and ruin your readership. I've given five of the major rules I follow while writing and I hope they help you too. 

1.   Events: When writing historical fiction if your story takes place during a monumental event be sure to include it. For example: if you were writing a book during 1815 in the Colonies of America, you’d need to include the war of 1812 as it was still going on then. This would’ve impacted your characters lives and you wouldn’t be doing the story any justice if you ignored this fact. You can use smaller events too, such as the Battle at Little Bighorn. You don’t need to describe the event itself, but rather include what your character thought of it, or make mention of it in a conversation. This pulls the reader into your story even more, as you’re bringing them back in time.

2.     Clothing: Every decade has its fashion faux pas; make sure to be accurate when it comes to dress. As a writer of historical novels you will need to research this. Be as accurate as possible. You can pull a reader right out of your story by placing more up-to-date clothing on your character than what they actually wore.

 3.   Language: According to my research slang and swear words have been around before the turn of the century, but don’t include them if it doesn’t fit your character’s make-up. I remember watching a western where the main characters threw the F-bomb around like it was how-de-do. It ruined the whole movie for me. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe, or know that the F word has been around since the beginning of the century, but the characters didn’t fit the language used. It was too much, and became a huge distraction. The last thing you want is to distract your reader with over used words that don’t bring the story along.  

This also goes with every day language. If your story takes place in the early 1400’s you will need to educate yourself on the way they spoke. Chances are they used different words to describe things, especially if your novel takes place in any other country besides the United States and Canada.

4.   Setting: This is one of the most important things you’ll need to know and if not done right will pull your reader from the story and you won’t have a hope in hell trying to bring them back.  Your job as a writer is to paint a picture with words. The reader has never been to historical Ireland, you need to bring them there with your description, with little details that create a vivid setting. I know you’ve never been to historical Ireland either, and so your job is to research the heck out of it. Learn all you can about your location, even if you only use a fraction of it. I once spent a whole day researching what trees were indigenous to the state of Colorado in the 1800’s.

5.     Question the period: As a historical writer you need to remember all the little things too. What was the form of transportation? What did they eat? What jobs were there? Who was the law? Was there vigilantism? And on and on. Always ask yourself questions throughout your writing process. These are all facts that will be in your novel. You will need to know them. Educate yourself, read, and read some more. Be articulate—be smart. Do not let one slip-up happen, for it could be the death of your story.

The more you write the better you will be and writing historical fiction is no different. The first novel will be a challenge and you’ll second-guess yourself along the way, you’d do this if you were writing contemporary too. Your job is to tell a story with fascinating characters, a descriptive setting and an exciting plot. 

What I love best about being a historical fiction author is I get to learn so much about history, and the people that lived before me. And even greater is I get to bring my readers on that journey with me.


Friday, 25 October 2013

A Regretful Slip of the Tongue...

Have you ever been deep in conversation and the wrong word slipped from your lips and you couldn’t get it back? Well, I have and although I try not to make it a habit it has happened to me a time or two. Yesterday, was one of those days.  I had a blog talk radio interview last night and when asked what inspired me, I said an awful word to describe a homeless person. I was nervous and although it is no excuse, and I am not looking for one, I want to apologize.

At the time the correct word wasn’t there, it was as if my brain had frozen and so I blurted out the most horrible word I could’ve said… a bum. I knew what I’d done the moment the word left my lips, and the guilt still lays heavy in my stomach. The word is insulting. It is derogative. And most importantly it is wrong.

A homeless person is someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, daughter, son—they are real individuals with real problems, who are judged every day. I said a word that I grew up knowing…I said a word I don’t even allow my children to use, and I feel horrible.

What makes this so difficult for me is that I’ve worked with the homeless, I know awesome people who devote their time to help them. I’ve heard stories, talked with the men and women who live on the streets, and I have a dear friend whose brother was homeless, Jason’s Gifts.

I’ve supported the cause for many years. I’ve brought my children to the shelters, done soup kitchens, and even did an anthology with proceeds going to the Jasper Place Health and Wellness Centre. In no way do I feel that these people are, or should be described with that word or any other insulting term and I am deeply sorry.

“All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes”. - Winston Churchill

Thursday, 17 October 2013

The Plight of a Civil War Soldier...

While writing HAZARDOUS UNIONS I learned a lot about the Civil War soldier. Men of all ages, some as young as 12 years old and even women enlisted. To be a Civil War soldier on either side of the coin was a horrible job. While 110,000 Northern and 94,000 Confederate soldiers were killed in battle, an enormous 388,580 died from illness; diarrhea, typhoid, typhus, malarial fevers and pneumonia were all rampant during the five years of the War. 

The soldier faced more misery than his counterparts in either World War I or II. Poorly clothed, underfed and at times without shoes, these men and women still woke each day, fought on open battlefields and risked their lives. 

Field hospitals were set up within camps and were nothing to write home about. Poor medical treatment, lack of antiseptics and an unclean environment led to many painful infections often ending lives. After a battle, injured soldiers were strewn about the dirt floor where they waited for a surgeon to tell them their fate. 

Amputations were custom back then and soldiers watched as their limbs were hacked off with little or no anesthesia. Bloody bullet wounds were dressed and often infected by the unclean hands of physicians. Blood transfusions would’ve saved many lives, but with little understanding as to how this was done, there were only two attempts throughout the whole war.

If these conditions weren’t enough to frighten the hell out of the soldiers then battle would. Unlike later wars, the Civil War at times was no more than a bloody free-for-all slaughter with no care as to how the enemy died as long as he perished. After the battle of Cold Harbor in 1864, 7,000 Union soldiers and 1,500 Confederates were killed within eight minutes.
A Confederate soldier who witnessed the scene said, “The dead covered more than five acres of ground about as thickly as they could be laid.”
The battle at Gettysburg was worse: 51,000 men died from their wounds—more than the number of American soldiers killed in Vietnam War.

In the end over 600,000 soldiers from both sides died, more than all the other wars combined.

Twin sisters separated by war, bound by love…

After the death of their father, twin sisters Maggie and Matty Becker are forced to take positions with officers’ families at a nearby fort. When the southern states secede, the twins are separated, and they find themselves on opposite sides of America’s bloodiest war.

In the south, Maggie travels with the Hamiltons to Bellevue, a plantation in west Tennessee. When Major Hamilton is captured, it is up to Maggie to hold things together and deal with the Union cavalry troop that winters at Bellevue. Racism, politics and a matchmaking stepmother test Maggie’s resourcefulness as she fights for Bellevue, a wounded Confederate officer and the affections of the Union commander.

In the north, Matty discovers an incriminating letter in General Worthington’s office, and soon she is on the run. With no one to turn to for help, she drugs the wealthy Colonel Cole Black and marries him, in hopes of getting the letter to his father, the governor of Michigan. But Cole is not happy about being married, and Matty’s life becomes all about survival. 

Two unforgettable stories of courage, strength and honor.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Pelican Bay's Captain Shelby comes for a visit...

Happy Friday friends! Today I have a special guest on the blog. Captain Shelby from Jesse Giles Christiansen's new novel PELCAN BAY...

                                          Hello me land folk, what are ye at there?

Never thought I’d be writin’ one of these here blog thingies. Me author fixed me words so ye can understand ‘em.

Never could find any justice from the land, and gave up years ago bein’ after that. But been talkin’ with me author and noticed that somethin’s been happenin’. Can’t say me understands it much. But ye land folk been buyin’ Pelican Bay like it be the last squid bait on the pier durin’ a swarm a blue fish.

At first methought ‘twas a net full of land nonsense, and told me author so. But lately been thinkin’ bout all this, and the tide has changed fer me. Methinks now that if enough of these books sell, might be able to put out a prekwell and explain me story to all of ye. If that would happen, I could get the land justice that I never had when I lived in Pelican Bay. I could be in peace, finally, to fetch me fiskr from the deep with a clear mind.

And that ‘twas all I was ever after.
So buy this here book. It be ready in yeebook and pehperback and be as easy as nettin’ a frenzy a bait fish atop the sea.

May the sea be with ye, me scopies and duckies. Farewell fer now.

Captin Shelbee 

Some things are better left alone…

After Ethan Hodges discovers an undersea cemetery just off the beach of Pelican Bay, South Carolina, he seeks answers from a grandfatherly fisherman named Captain Shelby. The captain wants the past to remain buried, and he warns Ethan to stay away. But Ethan doesn't listen.

Ethan's best friend and secret love interest, Morgan Olinsworth, joins in the investigation, unearthing intriguing secrets about the mysterious fisherman. When Captain Shelby is suspected of murder and disappears, a manhunt ensues, revealing a truth that unnerves everyone in Pelican Bay.


“With beautiful prose and a fresh voice, Jesse Giles Christiansen’s PELICAN BAY, is a wonderfully written sea-side page turner. Take heed, Christiansen has got serious writing chops.” —Jeff Bennington, bestselling author of The Secret Tree

“PELICAN BAY is a story full of suspense and intrigue that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading the last word. While the dialogue is distinct, it is the prose that is volatile and sublime in equal measure.” —Jacinta Rao,

Jesse Giles Christiansen is an American author who writes compelling literary fiction that
weaves the real with the surreal. He attended Florida State University where he received his B.A. in English literature. He wrote his first novel, "About: Journey Into The Mystic" after spending a summer in Alaska working on fishing boats. His newest novel, "Pelican Bay," focuses on a very old fisherman, Captain Shelby, and the mysterious happenings linked to him surrounding a nosy, sea-battered beach town (release date: July 20th, 2013, Imajin Books). One of his literary goals is to write at least fifty novels, and he reminds himself always of something that Ray Bradbury once said: "You fail only if you stop writing."