Monthly Archives: October 2011

Writing Historicals for the Modern Reader

Posted by October 31st, 2011

Book Country Twitter Chat (October 20, 2011)

Bestselling author Sarah MacLean and literary agent Sara Megibow discuss how to make your historical accurate and accessible for today’s reader

 twitter_newbird_boxed_blueonwhite Writing a historical novel of any genre is a challenge like no other. It involves hoards of research, keen attention to detail, and an accurate and vivid portrayal. On top of all that, you have to make the story and characters interesting and relatable to readers in today’s day and age. Like I said, not easy! But we’ve gotten some inside info and tips from the pros–Sarah MacLean (@SarahMacLean) and Sara Megibow (@SaraMegibow), who both have backgrounds in genre fiction and in history!–on how to tackle the big task.


Sarah MacLean is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling historical romance and young adult author. Her first bestseller, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake shot on to the bestseller lists with a vengeance and each of her historicals since have hit both lists and received glowing reviews.

History-lover Sara Megibow  is an agent at the Nelson Literary Agency, where she represents a variety of authors and
genres: historicals, YA, romantic fantasy, romance, and much more.

Here’s a little taste of what their Twitter chat had to offer:

 

@sarahmaclean: Making a book *too* historical can be a problem. Research can become an infodump fast.

@SaraMegibow: One reason I love reading historicals (YA, romance, fantasy, etc) is because it’s a mirror into a world I can only imagine.

@ECLamb: [Details should be] accurate enough not to call attention to themselves. Reader should never be pulled out of story to ask “What?””

@lilithsaintcrow: If you do not believe in your world and characters, nobody else will.

@sarahmaclean: If you break the rules [of the setting], you’d better know [the rules]. And know why you’re doing it.

@SaraMegibow: Personally, I wouldn’t shop a book set in 1963 as historical. I would shop as commercial fiction set in 1963.

@OliviaKelly: There is a fine line between making it sound authentic and throwing in historical terms just because you can.

@IsobelCarr: Good worldbuilding skills are just as necessary for realistic
historicals as they are for believable SF/F.

@sarahmaclean: Books are as much about the time in which they are set as they are about the time in which they are written.

@SaraMegibow: write a great book, do your research and read in your genre.

If you missed the chat, though, don’t worry! You can open or download the entire transcript as a PDF here. It will open in your browser and you’ll be able to save it to your computer if you like. You can also get to know your fellow genre fiction lovers by clicking directly on their Twitter handles.

Please note that the chat appears from newest to oldest tweets, so start on the last page and work your way up to the first.

Thanks to all who took the time to share their experiences and advice!

REMEMBER: Book Country Twitter chats occur every other Thursday night from 9-10 pm EST. Just use the hashtag #bookcountry to participate or follow along. Topics are announced in advance in the Book Country Discussion forums, so be sure to take a look!

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Constructing a Story Arc in a Series

Posted by October 17th, 2011

Book Country Twitter Chat (September 22, 2011)

Series development is tricky so we brought in the pros–bestselling author Yasmine Galenorn and literary agent Laura Bradford.

 twitter_newbird_boxed_blueonwhiteDeveloping a story arc in a standalone is hard enough, but what happens when you toss multiple books into the mix? Suddenly

you have to think about your plot in a much larger way, while still giving each book its own mini-arc that fits nicely into the big picture. Not an eask task, that’s for sure!

Book Country decided to chat with some of the best in the biz–author Yasmine Galenorn (@YasmineGalenorn) and literary agent Laura Bradford (@bradfordlit), to give you some tips and answer your questions.

Yasmine is the New York Times bestselling author with multiple urban fantasy and young addult series under her belt, including the “Indigo Court” series and the “Chintz ‘n China” series. Her upcoming novelCOURTING DARKNESS (Nov. 2011), the 10th book in her beloved “Otherworld” Series, is available for pre-order now!

Laura is no stranger to series development either, representing authors like Ann Aguirre, Anya Bast, Jennifer Echols, Megan Hart, and more. She specializes in romance across a variety of subgenres.

Please note that we had some technical difficulties with Yasmine’s Twitter feed during the chat; her tweets have been re-tweeted by our Community Manager Colleen Lindsay and myself in the transcript, downloadable below.

But first, here are some great snippets from the chat:

@bradfordlit: I like to know that a book is part of a series in the query. But remember to pitch one book at a time!

@yasminegalenorn: Most important thing is consistency. You must maintain worldbuilding/characterization in all books.

@scootercarlyle: I do fantasy, and I need the details to line up between each book or the world will fall flat. I outline them all.

@KelliLemay: Mercedes Lackey is a good person to read over for story arcs and tie-ins. Her series tend to span over history as well.

@bradfordlit: If an author is too entrenched in the series already, it can be hard to make necessary changes.

@yasminegalenorn: I always have a balance of action/intrigue/etc. Though some fall more one way or another.

If you missed the chat or want to remind yourself, we’ve posted the entire transcript as a PDF document here. The PDF will open in your browser and you’ll be able to save it to your computer if you like. You can also get to know your fellow genre fiction lovers by clicking directly on their Twitter handles.

Bear in mind that the chat appears from newest to oldest tweets, so start at the end of the PDF and work your way up.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this useful chat!

REMEMBER: Book Country Twitter chats occur every other Thursday night from 9-10 pm EST. Just use the hashtag #bookcountry to participate or follow along. Topics are announced in advance in the Book Country Discussion forums, so be sure to take a look!

 

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