Monday Musings: The challenges of writing historical prose

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by Scott Bury

It’s just one word out of a hundred thousand, but it can stop a writer. Sometimes, the search for one right word can take longer than writing a hundred pages.

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That happens to me a lot when writing books based on history, whether it’s my historical fantasy, The Bones of the Earth, or my World War II trilogy, Walking Out of War.

If you get a historical fact wrong, the readers will let you know.

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The facts are essential

The challenge for the writer is to make every story immediate — to put the reader today into the story, even when it takes place a half-century or a millennium ago. The key to making the story real to the readers is the little details.

These can seem inconsequential — like what kind of side-arms Soviet army officers carried, or who the Eastern Roman Emperor was in 593 CE. But when you get to that point, you realize you have no idea what you’re writing about.

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A good example came up when I was writing Army of Worn Soles, the story of my father-in-law Maurice Bury. A Canadian citizen, he got drafted by the Soviet Red Army just before Nazi Germany launched Operation Barbarossa, the largest land invasion in history.

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Maurice told me a lot about his experiences in the war so that I could write his story as a book. I wrote a draft that had a lot of the facts and the whole sweeping epic, but he passed away before I could finish it. That left a lot of details wanting.

Like what the Red Army’s anti-tank gun looked like in 1941.

It took a long time to work out. Google and Wikipedia to the rescue! But it wasn’t that simple.

Try Googling “Red Army anti-tank gun 1941” and you’ll get conflicting information of various levels of reliability. The Soviets used more than one type of anti-tank gun. Which one did Maurice command? Finding that out required going deeper than Wikipedia, and careful reading of the notes I took when Maurice was alive.

There’s nothing like hard copy

My current work-in-progress is the third volume of Maurice’s story, Walking Out of War. I got stuck in the postwar period. After Maurice fought in the Battle of Berlin, he left the Red Army to return home to Montreal. He told me how he walked from Berlin to Munich, found a D.P. camp in Ingolstadt, Germany, and then in Landeck, Austria. Finally, he met other Ukrainian people in Vienna who helped him get the necessary permits to return to Canada. But when exactly did all this happen? What did he do to survive in the interim?

Then I found some of the most interesting items I have ever seen in my life. In Maurice’s papers, pushed to the back of a desk drawer, was an old, tattered wallet with his ID papers — some as a schoolboy in Poland. There were two D.P. identification cards, a letter from the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration Displaced Persons Centre Kufstein, another authorizing Maurice to travel to Vienna to arrange his transfer to Canada, and more.

The most interesting were the travel permits authorizing Maurice to go from the Landeck D.P. camp to Vienna, and another from Austria to Canada. What’s most interesting is that they’re dated in early 1947 — nearly two years after the end of the fighting in Europe.

So what did Maurice do for those two years?

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Another mystery to solve.

Walking Out of War, the third part of the trilogy, is nearly complete and will be published by the Written Word Communications Co. and Independent Authors International by the end of 2016.

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Focus Friday: Monster, by Carmen Caine

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My birth was a bloody event. Vampires are made, not born … except in my case. I wasn’t supposed to live. When a pregnant woman is converted into one of the Chosen—as they call themselves—the fetus dies.

Becoming a Vampire isn’t pretty business. The human body remains empty for a few days when—if the conversion is successful—the new Vampire is born. It’s a painful and dangerous process. Most Vampires fail at the retaking of the body. Only a few succeed. But when they do, they become one of the Chosen. And for most, the enhanced abilities make it worth the risk.

My mother—Abbey as she was called in the human world—was already pregnant with me when she began a torrid affair with an Italian businessman by the name of Emilio. It turns out he wasn’t really a businessman, though his name really was Emilio. Emilio was a Chosen One—a Vampire—and an ancient and dark-minded one at that. When my mother attempted to end the fling, he became angry. He was a Marchesi, a founding member of one of the most powerful Vampire clans to roam the Earth—apparently, there were a handful of those, and as such, he wasn’t used to rejection.

Emilio wasn’t the kind to forget, lick his wounds, and move on. He had my mother converted, exactly how and by whom I’ve yet to discover—hence my thirst for revenge. Because not only did Emilio succeed in having my mother converted … I was converted as well.

My mother—now named Blair—almost didn’t make it. It took her four days to re-inhabit her human body, and when she did, I was miraculously born.

I became the first known Vampire infant … but with a twist.

About Monster

Revenge.

It’s all I’d lived for.

Revenge against those who’d turned my mother into a vampire, causing her to give birth to me—the first of my kind. All I wanted was justice. I wanted to change the rules. I wanted to change their destiny. I wanted to make them suffer the same pain, hunger, and isolation they had forced upon me.

I didn’t know, then, that I was the one who would change.

And certainly, no one knew the threat I would become.

Who Am I?

My name is Cassidy. Cassidy Edwards.

I’m angry, and I want revenge. It’s all I live for now.

The cards were stacked against me from the start, but I’m going to change the deck.

I’m going to get even.

Find it on Amazon—99 cents for a limited time!

About the author

Like many of us on this planet, Bestselling and Award-Winning author Carmen Caine is from another world. She spends every moment she can scribbling stories on sticky notes that her kids find posted all over the car, house, and barn.amazon

When she is not working as a software engineer, she is busy ferrying her kids to various appointments, writing lyrics for her husband’s songs, taking care of the dog Tigger and his heart condition, attempting to tame her three insane cats, scratching her three Nigerian Dwarf Goats behind the horns or coddling her flock of thirty bizarre chickens from around the world.

Visit her

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Focus Friday: a preview of Broken Places

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By Rachel Thompson

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Image courtesy of nipitphand / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

BestSelling Reads is excited and proud to present a preview of Broken Places, the second in her Broken series (read her award-winning Broken Pieces first).

 “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” A Farewll to Arms,  Ernest Hemingway.

 

 

 

 

NIGHT

It’s what we notice after the fact that carries meaning, in the calm of the glowing moon.

My senses engaged, only you in my sight.

Your scent on my tongue.

Your words embedded in my heart.

Later, I’ll remember your head on my breast, a tender moment of peace inside the blur. Your seed inside me, staking your claim. Days later, months and years, I still carry you, cells merging souls.

Time replacing hope.

It’s only in the quiet spaces between our stars that I feel you now.

One night burning inside us, a memory we return to, an infinite weaving of thought and fiery touch.

What is this inexplicable distance we cross in our dreams?

It is those moments of dark silence that give us our truth – there’s no denying a love that has nothing to prove. It exists on its own.

Or passes us by.

 

DREAMING

Again, I fall.

But I can’t anymore. The pain intruding, surrounding me in that fleeting moment where the swift air stops so abruptly I cannot breathe…

Leaning into the words you weave softly, so softly.

Frightened I’ll miss the chance that never was.

Afraid I already have.

Sacrificing hope, I wear your love inside, pushed down deeply into that quiet space no man can see…

Because he doesn’t look.

You push me. You pull back. You want me, you walk away.

If you crave my heart, then own it!

Are you {not} man enough to try?

Well, then…it’s time for you to fall.

Copyright 2013, Rachel Thompson. All rights reserved.

Broken Places will be published in 2014.

About the author

Rachel Thompson copyRachel Thompson is the author of the award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, bitrebels.com, BookPromotion.com and Self-Publishers Monthly. Rachel is the creator and founder of#MondayBlogs and #SexAbuseChat. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

Visit her:

And follow her on Twitter @RachelintheOC

 

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Win-a-Book Wednesday: Binder, by David Vinjamuri

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You can win a paperback copy of Binder, the scorching second book in David Vinjamuri’s Michael Herne series.

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 All you have to do is to answer:

Which branch of the military did Michael Herne serve in?

About the book

When a colonel’s daughter goes missing, ex-Army operator Michael Herne travels to West Virginia to find her. Instead, Herne finds cults, communes and supremacists as he unravels the deadly conspiracy behind the girl’s disappearance .

Meticulously researched and seamlessly plotted, Binder is the scorching sequel to the bestselling thriller, Operator.

Binder is available on

Visit David Vinjamuri’s BestSelling Reads Author page

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Winning Wednesday

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Please join BestSelling Reads’ authors in congratulating the winners of our first book giveaway for 2014.

Martha L. Of Mississippi takes home the won an iPad Mini and five ebooks by BestSelling authors.FirstPrize winner Martha L. of Mississippi

Lisa M. of Arizona (far right) has won a $50 Amazon gift card.

SecondPrize

And Carol Ann U. gets a $25 gift card from Amazon.

Keep coming back to BestSellingReads.com for more giveaways, and of course the best in new fiction and non-fiction!

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Monday Musings: The Winners Are…

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Announcing the September Giveaway Winners!

What a lot of goodies we have to give away this time, and all stuff readers love the most: Books, books, and more books! Eight runner-up winners each won the paperback book of their choice, signed by the Bestselling Reads author, plus a $10 Amazon gift card with which to buy more books. The authors are now busy signing books, packing them up and sending them to these ten winners. All the winners are enjoying having a little cash in the Amazon bank.

Would you like to be one of the lucky ones next time? In a few days Bestselling Reads will launch its October giveaway with even more prizes. Don’t miss it!

The paperback winners and their book choices, are:

 

Todd T.

Paperback winner Todd T.

Todd T. from Canada – A Walk in the Snark, by Rachel Thompson

Leah G. from Manila – Dark Water, by Shannon Mayer

LL from California – Dark Pool, by Helen Hanson

Sebella from North Carolina – Forbidden Call, by Martha Bourke

Lisa from Florida – 3 Lies, by Helen Hanson

Donna F. – still thinking it over

Anni P. – still thinking it over

Stuart F. from the U.K. – 3 Lies, by Helen Hanson

Paperback winner Stuart F.

Paperback winner Stuart F.

We also had a 2nd winner of paperbacks by BSR authors plus a $20 Amazon gift card. Congratulations to Becki from Canada, who chose the following books:

Nevermore, by Shannon Mayer

The Mancode: Exposed, by Rachel Thompson

Jaguar Sun, by Martha Bourke

And finally our Grand Prize Winner … DRUMROLL please! Congrats to Jennifer W. from West Virginia, who won a virtual boxed set of 5 books plus a $50 Amazon gift

card.

Grand Prize Winner Jennifer W. from W. Virginia.

Grand Prize Winner Jennifer W.

Jennifer W. is set for reading material for the next six months.

Here are her choices:

3 Lies, by Helen Hanson

Zombie Candy, by Frederick Lee Brooke

The Ninth District, by Douglas Dorow

Blood Orchids, by Toby Neal

Priceless, by Shannon Mayer

Please note we are not able to send signed paperbacks overseas, so winners from locations other than the U.S. and Canada are receiving e-books signed via Authorgraph.

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