Please welcome guest blogger Lacie Nezbeth, who has graciously agreed to share her interview with Keli Gwyn, author of “A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California.” Please feel free to visit her blog for more of her insightful writing.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
"Placerville author Keli Gwyn recreates the changing world of post-Civil War California with her new romance “A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California.” The newly released novel features Elenora Watkins, a widowed mother and storekeeper from Omaha. Mrs. Watkins and her young daughter come to the town of El Dorado to become partners in a general mercantile store run by Miles Rutledge. Sparks fly when she arrives and learns he expected a man.
Gwyn has filled her story with wit and adventure. Mrs. Watkins forges a path into a male dominated business so that she can care for her daughter. Rutledge fights her every step of the way under the influence of previous relationship. Young Matilda Watkins charms everyone with her precocious chatter."
Read more of my review here.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
"A priest who writes music, a little girl who wants to sing opera and the political world of 18th century Europe come together in a rich novel of people and music. “Vivaldi’s Muse” presents the story of baroque composer-priest Antonio Vivaldi and Anna Maddalena Tessieri from a fictional perspective. Vivaldi’s hair inspired his nickname “il prete rosso,” the red-haired priest. Anna was the woman he took into his life as a student.
The delightful book covers the period from 1719 when they first met until 1741 when his death ended the relationship. Anna, also known as Annina Girò, became the constant in his changeable world of opera and intrigue. Vivaldi trained Annina as an opera singer, wrote music especially for her and managed her career."
Read more of my review here.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Bob O’Connor lives in Charles Town, West Virginia. He writes non-fiction and award-winning historical fiction set in the area, based on real historical figures. His first novel reached publication in 2006, and he is at work on his fifth one now.
Take a look at these titles: “The Perfect Steel Trap: Harpers Ferry 1859” dealing with John Brown; “The Virginian Who Might Have Saved Lincoln” about Ward Hill Lamon, a close friend of Lincoln’s; “Catesby: Eyewitness to the Civil War” introduced blacksmith Catesby, a slave to George Washington’s great grand nephew Lewis Washington; and most recently, “A House Divided Against Itself,” the story of the Culp brothers of Gettysburg. (Read my review here.) O’Connor brings a strong appreciation of history and a gift for storytelling to his fiction.
His non-fiction titles include “The U.S. Colored Troops at Andersonville Prison,” “Ranson, A Centennial History” and “The Life of Abraham Lincoln as President.” O’Connor finds little-known or under-distributed documentation and shares the find with readers.
While his website contains a lot of information about him, I had a few questions of my own for O’Connor. Join me on this brief interview.
Q. What was it about the Culp brothers' story that caused you to choose them for your book over other sets of brothers fighting on opposite sides?
A. They are a very rare case. Even though the expression "brothers fought against brother" is a common theme, and brothers did fight on opposite sides, but these two brothers fought against each other in two battles -- that is extremely rare.
Q. You told the story from a first person point-of-view most of the time. What advantage (or disadvantage) do you feel this gave you?
A. It let the characters each tell their own story. Since I had many of their letters (over 90 in total) I was able to get a good feel for what was bothering them and how they were handling the war situations.
Q. What contributed to your decision to use colloquial language in the book?
A. One of the characters was almost illiterate. He could not spell the same word the same way twice in the same sentence. I tried to show that throughout his sections.
Q. Did you write the story in total for one character at a time or for each character along the timeline before progressing to the next scene?
A. I wrote the story within the context of the timeline of their actions.
Q. As a researcher, do you have a favorite resource or does it vary for each book?
A. I go wherever the story takes me. For this book I used the Library of Congress, the National Archives, the Carlisle War College Research Center, the Adams County Historical Society to name a few.
Q. Have you selected your next project yet? What should readers be looking forward to in your next project?
A. My next project is a sequel to “Catesby: Eyewitness to the Civil War.” Many of my readers say this is their favorite book and are really excited about a sequel.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
As a historical fiction writer, my basic style is taking real characters, researching their lives, following an actual time line and then writing a story around that.
In my book “A House Divided Against Itself” the story centers around four characters, all real people who grew up in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It is based on a true story. The historical fiction part is the dialogue I fabricate.
In this story, every character even if only mentioned once, is a real person and in a real situation.
My hours and hours and hours of research have led me to the discovery of over 90 letters from the participants. I also have detailed regimental histories. I peruse the military files of the individual soldiers.
The combination of all the materials allows me to track daily where the troops were and what they were doing, in the military sense. The letters let me know what they were thinking or feeling, and how they were handling the war as individuals.
Persons familiar with Gettysburg and the Jennie Wade story will already know the ending of my book. What many Civil War enthusiasts will not know is the beginning of the story, which has never been told.
The beginning of the story contains the details on how two brothers, Wesley and William Culp, end up facing each other on the battlefields.
While most everyone has heard the expression “brother fought against brother”, it is quite rare to find two brothers who literally fought against each other. And for these particular brothers it happened not once, but twice.
The war definitely split their house in two, both during the war and long after the war.
Readers of A House Divided Against Itself will receive the satisfaction that radio announcer Paul Harvey described when he said “and now you know the rest of the story.”
A House Divided Against Itself is available on line at www.boboconnorbooks.com or at amazon.com. It is also available on all e-book formats. The author may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jennifer Walker has made the mistake of turning me loose on her blog (http://www.jennifersbookreviews.blogspot.com/). That may be a little bit dangerous because I have a lot of strong opinions!
Today I’d like to use this soapbox to address the issue of moderation in writing. In fact, I’d like to argue in its defense. As a reviewer, I read dozens of books each month. Few things can numb a reader faster than overuse of any tool. From language to brutality to yelling in all caps in email, extensive repetition lessens the impact.
|Writing, like science, can be a balancing act.|
Remember Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind” and the uproar over Rhett Butler’s final line? If Butler had been cursing throughout the book, his parting shot would have been weakened to triviality. Mitchell’s moderation made the line a devastating slap in Scarlett O’Hara’s face. In my opinion, she made the right decision.
Gore falls into the same situation. I recently finished Bob O’Connor’s Civil War novel “A House Divided Against Itself.” Much of the action takes place at Gettysburg-a bloody, gory day if there ever was one. O’Connor handles the event with great discretion. He focuses on a handful of characters and what happens to them. The reader can better absorb the horror on the personal level; his moderation allows the reader to feel throughout the book.
SEX! That got your attention, didn’t it? Human beings engage in sexual behavior on a number of levels. Not all of those levels end up in tangled bodies. If every encounter your characters have ends up in bed, you’ve lost some sexual punch. Try thinking “sensual” as an alternative to “sexual.” Throwing in a bedroom scene every few pages doesn’t make up for a poor storyline. A little discretion about sex can change the impact the act delivers.
Ask yourself these questions about the language, violence and sex you’re putting in your story:
- Is this a natural progression for the character(s)?
- Does this advance the plot or slow it down?
- What else might I use in this situation?
- Is this appropriate for the audience I’m trying to reach?
Even descriptions can go overboard. If you’ve just spent three full pages describing a flower, your reader may have given up on the book unless you’re writing a botanical guide. Find a good editor or critique group to help you stay on track with your narrative. “Show, don’t tell” doesn’t equate to “Beat them over the head with it.”
As writers, we have freedom of self-expression. Some writers use that as an excuse for excess. The good news about freedom-that we have the freedom to moderate our own writing-gets lost in the discussion. I’m in favor of expressing. I’d just like to encourage you to get the most impact for your expression by using moderation.