What is historical fiction and does it have to be totally accurate?

Image: Pixabay

I’ve been thinking about the relationship between readers of historical fiction and the writers of these popular books. How much of their stories should be fact and how much should be fiction? The genre is, after all, historical fiction, which, I think, gives writers the license to use their imaginations. But what happens when readers take issue?

Dictionary.com defines historical fiction as “narratives that take place in the past and are characterized chiefly by an imaginative reconstruction of historical events and personages.”

Goodreads adds to this definition by explaining that:

“In some historical fiction, famous events appear from points of view not recorded in history, showing historical figures dealing with actual events while depicting them in a way that is not recorded in history. Other times, the historical event or time period complements a story’s narrative, forming a framework and background for the characters’ lives. Sometimes, historical fiction can be for the most part true, but the names of people and places have been in some way altered.”

There is also a term called “alternate history” in which writers speculate what could have happened if certain events ended differently.


Are you, as a reader, bothered by a writer’s imagination if the story portrays well-known leaders, heroes or organizations in a not-so-nice way?


Consider The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. How much is fact and how much is fiction? Are there really clues hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci and is the Priory of Sion—a secret society whose members included Sir Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo, and Da Vinci—accurately portrayed? Does the author’s imagination take away from the story, or enhance it?


How about Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier? Not much is known about Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer and his relationship with the girl in this famous painting. Is it scandalous to suggest he had an affair with a servant girl from his own household?


I recently re-read the 2015 historical mystery, Second Street Station by Lawrence H. Levy in which there are many American historical figures from the late 1800s, including Thomas Edison. We all think of Edison as the inventor of the electric light bulb and many other important discoveries that have greatly enhanced our lives. In his book, Levy incorporates some lesser-known facts about Edison, including the inventor’s favorite drink, Vin Mariani, a popular cocaine-laced wine that helped him work around the clock. Levy also portrays Edison as a highly competitive and vindictive businessman, who orchestrated the public electrocutions of dogs, calves and an elephant to demonstrate the dangers of alternating current, which was developed by his chief rival, George Westinghouse. (Read all about the War of Currents here.) And Levy also ties Edison to an unsolved murder of film pioneer, Louis Le Prince, who was the first person to record motion on film and received patents on his devices before Edison. Levy isn’t the first to suggest Edison had something to do with Le Prince’s disappearance, but it’s likely new information for the casual reader.

These books are all great choices for a book club discussion because of the questions they raise. Many of the questions can’t be fully answered. I think that’s why they make great stories!

So can fact and fiction get along in the same novel?
I think so. What do you think?

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On building an author website – fredrohn.com

It’s finally ready!

I’ve spent the last few months setting up an author website for my father, Fred Rohn. He’s getting ready to launch a new book, Encounters: Relationships in Conflict, and we are going to use as many online tools as we can to market ourselves.

As almost every self-published author has stated in Who’s That Indie Author?, book promotion is the number one challenge for writers who have spent their time writing, not learning marketing techniques. Having an author website, a blog and a social media presence are important promotional strategies.

We found an excellent resource in the Claire McKinney’s guidebook, Do You Know What a Book Publicist Does? I recommend this book to anyone who feels overwhelmed by the task of book promotion.

I hope you’ll take a look at Fred’s new website: fredrohn.com, follow his blog and sign up for updates. Fred is looking forward to sharing many ideas.

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Who’s That Indie Author? Geoffrey M. Cooper

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Author name:  Geoffrey M. Cooper

Genre:  Medical Thriller

Book:  The Prize

Bio:  Geoffrey M. Cooper is an experienced cancer researcher and scientific administrator, having held positions as a Professor, Department Chair and Associate Dean at Harvard Medical School and Boston University. He is the author of a leading cell biology text, The Cell, as well as several books on cancer. The Prize is his first novel, in which he brings his background in medical research to life in a tale of fraud, deceit and murder. His second novel, dealing with sexual harassment in science, is in the works.

Favorite thing about being a writer:  Immersing myself in a story and developing characters that take off on their own.

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  Promotion and marketing! Much harder than writing.

Favorite book:  All of Robert Parker’s work, especially his Spenser and Jesse Stone novels. I also love Robin Cook’s and John Grisham’s books.

Contact Information:
Website: geofcooper.com
Twitter: @GeofCooper
Facebook
Amazon


Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

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The Storyteller Speaks: Powerful Stories to Win Your Heart by Annika Perry

The Storyteller Speaks: Powerful Stories to Win Your Heart
by
Annika Perry

Rating:

The appeal of short fiction is that it offers a glimpse of a character’s life, a problem, a twist and a quick finish. Annika Perry’s debut collection, The Storyteller Speaks, makes good on this promise in her newly published book of fiction and poetry.

Perry gives the reader twenty-one distinct stories about the daily challenges of marriage, children, friendship, family and loss. Her characters are knowable and likable, even the ones who find themselves on the bad end of a decision. Many of her stories depict the author’s upbringing in Sweden and the United Kingdom, yet show a universal understanding of family and relationships. And even though the stories are separate, the reader begins to develop a sense of community, as it seems as if some of the author’s characters might know each other.

Several standout stories will stick in the reader’s mind because of memorable characters and conflicts. In “The Whiteout Years,” a young widower wonders how he can let go of the heavy burden of guilt. Likewise, a young mother faces a very different future in “Sophia!” after a bizarre and tragic series of events. In one, there is a sign of hope. In the other, an unknown challenge.

Other stories finish with a warm feeling of love and friendship. In “Friends Forever,” Perry’s characters overcome a long and painful break and in “Role-Playing,” happiness is a given when old friends reunite.

But Perry isn’t afraid of exploring difficult or dark subjects. In “The Game,” children playing a seemingly harmless game discover the frightening power of their diversion. And in “Smouldering Shame,” Perry’s characters confront betrayal and a sorrowful tragedy. In “A Rare Passion,” a young man acts on impulse and immediately sees the folly of his decision. Can he fix his mistake in time?

Despite difficult subjects in many stories, Perry offers a strong overlying message of hope, love and family, as shown in her final story, “Loss of a Patriarch” in which a family finds peace and comfort after a beloved father and grandfather dies.

The Storyteller Speaks is a touching look at the challenges of life and relationships, an excellent debut. I look forward to reading more from this promising author.

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The Lincoln Lawyer – the book and the movie

    

I always wonder if the movie version of a book I’ve read will be a good one. You never know how the two are going to match up, so I was happy to see how well the 2011 film of The Lincoln Lawyer matched the book of the same name by Michael Connelly.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Matthew McConaughey plays the lead, but the cast is full of well-knowns, including Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, William H. Macy and Bryan Cranston. The story revolves around Mickey Haller, an LA defense attorney whose office is the back of a Lincoln Continental. Haller faces his greatest fear when takes on a wealthy client who has been arrested for assaulting a woman: is his client telling the truth? The words of his famous lawyer father echo in his brain, “There is no client as scary as an innocent man.”

Both the book and the movie tell a swift-moving and entertaining legal crime story. I like Michael Connelly’s writing and enjoyed seeing his characters on-screen. The book, of course, provides a lot more detail and back story, including the connection between Haller and Connelly’s other famous character, Harry Bosch (the two are half-brothers).

I recommend both, but read the book first so you can get the full story in your mind. The movie is pure entertainment!

Click here for a full review of the book.

Want to know more about the movie? See the whole cast and crew on IMDb.com.

And to reward you for reading to the bottom of this post, here’s a nice pic of McConaughey.

Image: Popsugar

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Who’s That Indie Author? K.C. Tansley

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Author name:  K.C. Tansley

Genre:  YA Time Travel Mysteries

Books:  The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts, The Girl Who Saved Ghosts

    

Bio:  K.C Tansley lives with her warrior lapdog, Emerson, and two quirky golden retrievers on a hill somewhere in Connecticut. She tends to believe in the unbelievables–spells, ghosts, time travel–and writes about them.

Never one to say no to a road trip, she’s climbed the Great Wall twice, hopped on the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, and danced the night away in the dunes of Cape Hatteras. She loves the ocean and hates the sun, which makes for interesting beach days.

As Kourtney Heintz, she also writes award winning cross-genre fiction for adults.

Favorite thing about being a writer:  Nailing an emotional beat. After struggling with a scene for weeks, there’s usually a moment when it all comes together and I feel like I’ll hit the readers with just the right mix of visceral reactions, internal thoughts, and body language for them to experience what my character feels.

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  Selling books remains the hardest part of being an indie author.

Favorite booksCity of Glass by Cassandra Clare, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead, Splintered by A.G. Howard, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Contact Information:  Website: kourtneyheintz.com
Blog: blog.kourtneyheintz.com
Facebook: @kourtneyheintzwriter
Twitter: @KourHei

Awards/special recognition:   The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts (Book 1 of The Unbelievables)

  • 2017 EPIC’s Ariana Cover Design Awards Finalist
  • 2017 EPIC’s Ebook Award Finalist
  • 2016 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards Gold Winner
  • 2016 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Judges’ Choice Awards Winner
  • 2016 National Indie Excellence Awards Finalist
  • 2016 International Book Awards Finalist
  • 2015 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards Finalist

Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon

 

Setting up the author website – it’s a GPS-worthy journey

Do you ever wish you were a little more high-tech? Or did you think you were already savvy in that realm, until you decided to set up a website?

I’m in the midst of setting up my father’s author website, ahead of his book launch in July. It’s almost ready, but there have been a few bumps along the way. For anyone who’s done this before me, maybe these top ten things have happened to you:

  1. You celebrate the news that the domain you want is available!
  2. You sweat as you try to learn about all the terms and conditions.
  3. You worry about how much is too much to spend on a plan.
  4. You cheer when you get through the above steps.
  5. You choose a host (WordPress) and feel good because you’ll know your way around.
  6. Your head aches when you see that your Dashboard has a lot of things you don’t recognize.
  7. You curse yourself for using the same email address as your blog.
  8. You wonder what all those plugins do.
  9. You notice that the wrong Gravatar is attached to your website.
  10. You spend hours and hours trying different themes and figuring out how the tabs work.

I’ve overcome most of these obstacles, but I’m still not ready to share. Do you just jump in with the work in progress?

I think I’ll tinker a little more…

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Audiobook: Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens, narrated by Rachel Fulginiti and Caitlin Davies

Audiobook
Never Let You Go
by
Chevy Stevens

Narrated by Rachel Fulginiti and Caitlin Davies

Rating:

Lindsey Nash thinks her future is bright. Eleven years ago, she escaped an abusive marriage and her husband, Andrew, went to jail. Now she and her teenage daughter, Sophie, are settled into Dogwood Bay, a little town near Vancouver, British Columbia. Life is normal. Sophie is a high school senior and a talented artist. Lindsey runs her own cleaning business. And there’s a new man in Lindsey’s life.

But Lindsey soon learns that good times never last forever. When Andrew is released from prison, the first and only thing on his mind is to find Lindsey and Sophie. Creepy things begin to happen. Lindsey is sure Andrew is following her and has been in her home. Will a protective order be enough?

Several questionable characters and sub-plots enhance this psychological thriller, which is filled with enjoyable red herrings. The author fills in the details of Lindsey’s marriage to Andrew and her escape in the night and develops Andrew’s character, first as a hard-drinking and abusive husband and later as an ex-con. Through alternating chapters, Stevens also shows what it’s like for Sophie, who has yearned to have a relationship with a father she barely remembers.

Through Lindsey, Stevens presents the dominant theme of the story: overcoming abuse and empowering oneself. Many of the story’s male characters have protective and possessive traits and it’s up to Lindsey to decide where and when to lean. Or can she only lean on herself?

Mother-daughter conflict also muddle up the events as Sophie begins to break away. New relationships and independent decisions wreak havoc on Lindsey’s plan to stay safe.

The slow-burning conflict builds to a wild finish and the final reveal suggests that you can never be sure who the good people are until a crisis happens.

I enjoyed this story and recommend it to listeners who are looking for an entertaining and suspenseful plot.

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Book Talk – The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett

Image: Pixabay

Welcome to a new and occasional feature on Book Club Mom called Book Talk, home to quick previews of new books that catch my eye.

I love reading stories about secrets and the chaos they create. Keeping secrets is one kind of story, but dealing with the mess when secrets are found out is the best kind. That’s why The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett caught my eye. It’s about a charming magician whose sudden death reveals a secret past and family. And this is the mess his widow/assistant has to face.

When Parsifal dies, Sabine discovers that he has been living under a false identity. The family he claimed had died in an accident is alive and are named as heirs in Parsifal’s will. It’s up to Sabine to figure things out.

I’ve had The Magician’s Assistant on my shelf for a few years. Ann Patchett is such a talented writer, I have to get back to her soon! Commonwealth has been waiting patiently on my Kindle and I’ve already read Bel Canto and State of Wonder.

Can someone work a little magic on my schedule to make room for this one?

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Who’s That Indie Author? Connie Lacy

whos-that-indie-author

Author name: Connie Lacy

Genre:  Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Magical Realism and Climate Fiction

Books: A Daffodil for Angie, The Time Telephone, VisionSight: a Novel,  and from The Shade Ring trilogy: The Shade Ring, Albedo Effect, and Aerosol Sky

Bio:  Connie Lacy writes about young women finding their strength as they face tough obstacles. Her passion for human rights led her to pen her latest novel, A Daffodil for Angie, which is set in the 1960s as the Vietnam War rages and schools are being integrated. She’s a former radio reporter and news anchor who lives in Atlanta.

Favorite thing about being a writer:  I enjoy creating the worlds that my fictional characters inhabit, and, of course, the characters themselves. And I get a kick every time a reader says she loved one of my books.

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  Reaching new readers

Favorite books:  Recent favorites: The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte and Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Contact Information: website: connielacy.com
Facebook: @ConnieLacyBooks


Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon