American Historical Fiction discussion

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Publishing American Historical Fiction

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Jenny Q (Jenny_Q) | 544 comments Mod
Stemming from a discussion started in the Introductions thread, let's talk about publishing American historical fiction, whether traditional or self-publishing. have you encountered a publishing professional who says no one is reading American histfic? Have you encountered other obstacles? Do you have any advice or suggestions?


Patricia O'Sullivan | 20 comments Thanks for starting this thread, Jenny. Yes, I was told by Jennifer Weltz from the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency last June that American HF is not selling right now. This sentiment was echoed by Heather Lazare from Crown, Shana Drehs from Sourcebooks, Kevan Lyon from Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, and Charles Spicer from St. Martins Press who mentioned that it was easier for an agent to sell European HF, especially those with marquee names or cross-over genres.


Jenny Q (Jenny_Q) | 544 comments Mod
Yet we see new American histfic releases pop up every week and we have several successful traditionally-published authors in this group, so there must be agents and publishers out there taking on American histfic! Anyone know who they are?


Harold Titus (HaroldTitus) | 68 comments I don't. 104 agents wouldn't look at my book. That's when I decided to self-publish.


Ken Consaul | 114 comments On Amazon, I think I have had more success in the Historical Romance tag than Historical Fiction. I didn't intend that when I wrote it but if it sells there, then OK by me.
Actually starting to see a handful of European sales but I'm not planning any book tours yet.


message 6: by Beverly (last edited Mar 20, 2012 05:45PM) (new)

Beverly Gray (grayarmybrat) | 78 comments Hi all. Thanks again, Patti, for bringing this topic up and thanks Jenny for starting it.

I spent about 30 years peddling my book (which has evolved into a series over the years). Had a lot of bad luck with editors leaving the industry, publishers going out of business, etc. The last attempt about four years ago involved an agent who "loved the series, loved my writing style" but...would I please rewrite it from the wives and sweethearts perspective. She felt that she could pitch it better if it was historical romance so I find your comment very interesting, Ken.

Bottom line, I spent some time trying to determine if it was more important to be published or more important to write the story I wanted to write. I decided it was more important to tell my story so I passed on the agent.


Beverly Gray (grayarmybrat) | 78 comments Breaking this up so that it doesn't get too cumbersome to read.

You asked for advice, Patti? I'm pretty new at this myself. BLACK KNIGHTS has only been out since mid-January so, in experience terms, I'm very green myself.

I published first through Smashwords since they distribute to most of the primary eBook retail sites (Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Sony, IBooks for the IPAD, Diesel, and a few others). Although they support the Kindle format, they haven't really set up a deal with Amazon for distribution. Consequently, I published separately via Amazon's Kindle program.


Beverly Gray (grayarmybrat) | 78 comments I found both Smashwords and Amazon easy to handle with regard to format. Of course, as a technical writer professionally for so many years, I've had experience wrestling with formats and all sorts of computer critters. There is a wealth of information out there to help a writer get started. Rather than blather on, I'll be glad to answer any questions you'all have about process. If I don't know the answer, I'll try to find out or point you to someone who can help.


Beverly Gray (grayarmybrat) | 78 comments I think the key to writing/publishing historical fiction is patience. Historical fiction readers seem to savor their books more than most genre readers. That is to say, they don't gallop from one to the next. Consequently, the word of mouth that self-published writers rely on, seems to take longer to cycle out to those who like historical fiction.

In my own case, I was very fortunate in that I have five books completed in the series. I was able to list the first one as free on all sites with the exception of Amazon. I felt, as an unknown writer, it was the best way to help readers at least take a chance on me. Amazon eventually price-matched the "free" status so that has helped to push the first book up in the genre lists. After a few weeks, I am now seeing sales pick up with Books II-V. This tells me that readers like free Book I enough to buy the next books in the series. It's a slow, steady process though. I don't think I'm sitting on the next runaway best seller but at least I'm getting positive indications that some folks enjoy my books.

If you don't have a series or second book ready to try that as a way to market your name, I know of several writers who have written short-fiction and published to the Kindle Singles. This serves the same purpose to get readers to at least take a peek at your work and, hopefull, move on to your novel.


Ken Consaul | 114 comments Just a note on the tags and genre categories on Amazon. I recently dropped 'historical fiction' as a category and changed it to 'Literary Fiction' for a one day Select promo. I died on that one. I'll run another promo in about three weeks and change it back.

As far as the tags, if you scroll to the bottom of your book page, there is a place to add tags. You can go to other author's books and add your own tags. A little quid pro quo might be in order. Hint, hint. > http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0055WXMEO

On the right side by those tags is a click through to the most popular tags with the more popular in a bigger and bolder font. You might consider these as a guide when picking the tags for your own book details.

I'm ready to add 'vampire' and 'erotica' if that's what it takes.


Ryan Petty | 9 comments I had the new author trouble trying to publish my book. It was a lot of, "we like the story, but we don't have time to waste on an unknown" or "this seems to be to a select group of people, so it wouldn't be economically fesible to try to mass produce it." I just got tired of seeing websites for agents saying they loved working with new authors, just to find out that author wasn't me.

It took me about a year and I was close to giving up before a small press was willing to take the time to look over, edit, and publish my historical fiction.

I was quite happy they did. Recently my book, The Life He Never Knew, was named a finalist at the North Texas Book Festival.


Patricia O'Sullivan | 20 comments Congratulations on your book being published, Ryan. It is so heartening to hear stories like yours.


Ryan Petty | 9 comments Thanks,

It did really feel good that someone was willing to take the time with me, to see the story I was trying to present. It is also interesting hearing the feedback I get from the story from people I do and do not know. Most of them like it, and some like or dislike the twist at the end. :-)


Beverly Gray (grayarmybrat) | 78 comments That is great news for you, Ryan.


message 15: by Kristin (last edited Mar 26, 2012 06:57AM) (new)

Kristin Gleeson | 31 comments I've found over the past ten years that historical fiction has been marginalized to the 'genre area.' I had interest from agents in my ms. back then but then moved overseas and had to put it away in a drawer while I renovated a house. Things changed in that time period and I had similar reactions to what I've read in the above postings. The other problem is that I am living in Ireland and my book, set in the 1890s, starts there but ends up in Alaska. I started going to small presses and finally after a year or so I had luck with Knox Robinson Publishing that specialize in Historical Fiction. They took on my book, 'Selkie Dreams' which is coming out in June. They do both American and English. Though they are based in London the head is American and she has an office in NY. There is also Fireship Press who are expanding their HF outlook beyond naval and adventure HF to more general HF and Medieval fantasy. Kristin


Beverly Gray (grayarmybrat) | 78 comments That's great news about your book, Kristin. Look forward to reading it when it's available.


Susan Spence | 22 comments I have labeled my book historical fiction and it can also be called, dare I say it, a Western. Even though it takes place during the Wild West days, I have found that it appeals to a wide variety of readers. For example: Before a book signing at a large chain store, the manager told me that he only reads sci-fi, but he started skimming through a copy of A Story of the West just so he could tell people what it was about. He ended up reading the entire book and loving it. It doesn't matter the setting if the story is a good one, in my opinion.

That said, I'm still working at getting this book noticed. I've changed the description a few times, as well as excerpts that are available to read, trying to figure out what will draw readers in. Any suggestions, anyone?


Kristin Gleeson | 31 comments I would recommend the 'workshops' on www.mxlexia.co.uk. They are a series of handouts that take you through step by step for things like pitches, synopsis and other important aspects so that you learn how to focus on unique selling points. The important thing beside that is to identify clearly who your market is. Don't try to target everyone. Have a clear sense of your primary market if it's the blurb. You can do secondary pieces that tweak it differently in your press pieces, so that, for example, if you're sending it out magazine that deals with the setting e.g. 'Explore Arizona' (made that up) then you angle the press pitch to that. Your book sounds to me like HF fiction set in the West. 'Westerns' are a specific genre with specific reader expectations.

Hope that helps, Kristin


Susan Spence | 22 comments Thanks, Kristin, I'll check out those workshops. Targeting my audience is the hard part because, besides not being sure who they are exactly, I don't know where to find them. I've had success selling paper backs in the area where I live because of the local author aspect and because it takes place around here, but I have no clue how to expand on that.


Kristin Gleeson | 31 comments If you have an idea what your book similar to and then go to the library and ask the librarian who takes out those kinds of books that would give you and idea. Also try the same if you have a local bookstore where you know the staff. Is your book on here? Or you can send me the blurb as an internal email here. Send me a friend request and then I'll reply and you can send it on. I was a librarian for years. Kristin


Haley Whitehall (HaleyWhitehall) | 7 comments I had many agents tell me that American Historical Fiction was dead and to combine my story with another genre. Historical fiction with paranormal elements seems to be on the rise. But I wanted my novel set in the antebellum South in the 1840s to be straight historical.

I had interest from an agent who said that I would have to rewrite major portions of my book to fit into mainstream market and then it might be considered. I decided not to do the major rewrite. I wanted to stay true to my vision and my style. I recently went indie and published my novel "Living Half Free" which follows the life of a mulatto slave.


Susan Spence | 22 comments "I had interest from an agent who said that I would have to rewrite major portions of my book to fit into mainstream market and then it might be considered. I decided not to do the major rewrite. I wanted to stay true to my vision and my style. I recently went indie and published my novel "Living Half Free" which follows the life of a mulatto slave."

Haley, Good for you. It seems more and more that people are starting to read indie authors because they are unique, instead of what the industry wants. That certainly appeals to me, both as an author and a reader.


Haley Whitehall (HaleyWhitehall) | 7 comments Susan wrote: ""I had interest from an agent who said that I would have to rewrite major portions of my book to fit into mainstream market and then it might be considered. I decided not to do the major rewrite. I..."

Susan, Yes, I share the same reading interests. I am always looking for something original. But it seems like the traditional publishing industry doesn't appreciate a unique story these days. I have found my reading appetite fed best by indie novels. I'll be sure to check out your books.

~Haley


Beverly Gray (grayarmybrat) | 78 comments This trend has been going on for years. What people tend to forget is that many of the medium-sized and small publishers who specialized in novels (including historical fiction) vanished in the mergers of the '70s and '80s. Remember too, that the super publishers are all pieces of a much larger corporation so that the kind of individual creative approach from an editorial staff no longer exists either.

Then, in the mid-'90s, we experienced the rise of the super bookstores and a lot of independents and small chain bookstores vanished. Those were often the means for small presses and independents to get their books into at least their local market. Shelfspace was at a premium for any but the larger publishers.

The rise of the Internet and advent of eBooks has broken things wide open again. While I enjoyed Diana Gabaldon's series up to a point, I'm not really interested in paranormal romance in my historical fiction nor do I enjoy fantasy in historical fiction(Martin's GAME OF THRONES). Don't get me wrong. I enjoy fantasy in its own genre. I just get tired of picking up a book touted as historical fiction and discovering that it drifts into a cross-genre. So, I'm glad you stuck to your guns, Haley, and resisted the agent's advice.

I prefer the writers of the mid to late 20th century (for style, genre, and character development) and it has become more and more difficult to find things that I enjoy reading amongst the writers supported by the legacy publishers.

I love the fact that the eBooks and self-published POD models now make it possible to get those unique voices in writing out there again. As long as self-published writers keep their own expectations realistic, I suspect we as readers will benefit hugely by this evolution or revolution in which we find ourselves. Even more wondeful, many of those older authors are now turing up in eBook format so that they present another range of discovery for younger readers.

For those writers working with small/micro-presses as well as the self-publishers, I recommend the following article. It's a good sanity check for anyone in the business and it certainly contributed strongly to my own change of direction. Michael Allen's "ON THE SURVIVAL OF RATS IN THE SLUSH PILE".
my link text

He wrote it back around 2005 and, it has proved a bit prophetic with regard to the explosion of POD and eBooks.


Kristin Gleeson | 31 comments Well said Beverly. E publishing has certainly turned the publishing world upside down and I've read much about it lately. It can be a great opportunity for authors to create their own platform and maintain a style that they feel represents them and not what the publisher demands. The problem is how to reach your audience and that's where a lot of creativity, determination and sometimes outright chutzpah is needed. It also means spending time promoting when most writers would rather be promoting. There are many online opportunities to promote yourself but it pays to find the right venues for your promotion.

I think it still pays also to find a group of good writers for feedback and then even hiring a copywrighter to go through for typos and other grammatical mistakes that eyes that have reviewed it many times can miss. The most professional appearance as possible will go a long way to help get a good audience.


Beverly Gray (grayarmybrat) | 78 comments Yes, I hate the marketing side of it myself. I enjoy the writing and even the formatting. But, the beauty of the online venue is that I can let the word-of-mouth work for my books. I don't have to worry that, if I don't hit a certain level of sales, the books will be yanked and vanish from the sight of readers who may want to try them.

Goodreads and other online library groups are also a terrific innovation that, I suspect, will also play a role in this new method of writing and reaching readers.


Matt | 8 comments I keep hearing about the difficulty of selling American HF and I wonder what the basis for it is. Is it a perception that - at least for American readers - American history isn't exotic enough? Is it too familiar for American readers (at least the locations and major events), and therefore doesn't offer the escapism and vicarious experience of another world that other settings do?

If the issues are akin to those, they are rather unfounded. True, U.S. history includes no kings and queens, no palace intrigue or beheadings. Our guys on Mount Rushmore can't hold a candle to the Henry VIIIs, Louis XIVs and Napoleons in the personal drama and romance departments.

But where much of the drama of American history lies is in the compelling stories of average people (real or fictional) trying to survive and make the most of the opportunities presented in a new and dangerous world. Look at recent American HF offerings from authors like Christine Blevins, Kathleen Kent, Sally Gunning, Geraldine Brooks, and Lucia St. Clair Robson. Many of their protagonists are not political or military leaders, but their stories are powerful and heart-rending nonetheless.

I wish agents would look more at those examples and see how American HF can do well, particularly by telling the stories of "average" people dealing with conflict in their lives stemming from extraordinary events ... since American history is filled with those!


Kristin Gleeson | 31 comments Wow that's really interesting Chris. I didn't realize it was as stark as that. I wonder if some of it isn't driven by 'if it's not there how can they read it?' And I also wonder if some HF is now being marketed as 'romance' (with historical setting) or even 'mainstream' or 'literary.' For instance was Peter Carey's 'The History of the Kelly Gang' marketed as HF? Or 'The Colour' by Rose Tremain, or any of her other novels set in the past. She writes both, but I suspect none of them are marked 'historical.' I think there is an element of panic too by the publishers who are trying to publish lookalikes for everything that is in the bestseller list, i.e. thrillers, romance and chick lit. Thrillers are best because women will cross over to most genres where men won't. Though women still buy the majority of books.

Kristin


Susan Spence | 22 comments I believe that a good plot will trump an unpopular genre label. I told this story before, but here it is again.

I had a book signing at a big chain bookstore a while back. The manager there told me he only reads sci-fi. Before the signing, he picked up a copy of my book, just to skim through, so he would be able to tell people what it was about. He got sucked in, went back to the beginning, read the entire book and loved it.


Kristin Gleeson | 31 comments That's a good insight into what people judge a book to be and a good indicator to pay attention to. I admire your tenacious research too. I wonder if the publishers tagged them that way too.

Like Susan's experience I know that my impressions from working in libraries in the U.S. and Ireland that the majority of users wouldn't deliberately seek out HF. They would read it if recommended by someone, or if they heard it praised in the media. Despite that the Irish relish their own history and aren't put off by the idea of it being stuffy which some Americans might feel.

I think the appeal of European history, especially English history and royalty in general is that it hints at a bit of fairy tale and riches and for a space of time the reader can feel a participant in a glittering court.

I guess what I can conclude a bit is that for American HF the pitch is doubly important so that the story idea comes across strong and is not centered on the time period so much but a strong general theme that transcends the time period. For instance mine, 'Selkie Dreams' set in 1890s AK, is 'the tensions of cross-cultural relationships' or Susan's set in Montana might be 'rural Montana tests a man's courage.' Or maybe that approach is a cop out that would alienate people devoted to HF and we should emphasize the history and do niche publishing. Probably.


Susan Spence | 22 comments Kristin said: "I guess what I can conclude a bit is that for American HF the pitch is doubly important so that the story idea comes across strong and is not centered on the time period so much but a strong general theme that transcends the time period."

That's what I've been going for. I have found that when people get past the label, they enjoy a good story even if it wasn't something they would intentionally pick out.


Laura S. | 7 comments Chris wrote: "I don’t know why print historical fiction has a shrinking audience in the USA, but it does, and undoubtedly publishers make their manuscript buying decisions based on that declining demand. I saw ..."

Very interesting (stark numbers, really) for historical fiction. My second historical fiction has been classified as a historical romance (there's far more action than romance in this 1942 tale), though reviewers call Leaving Lukens a "suspense", "thriller" or "fast ride" with a twist ending. Maybe it's just a matter of slimming down the genre categories.


Tim Weed (weedlit) | 19 comments Susan wrote: "Kristin said: "I guess what I can conclude a bit is that for American HF the pitch is doubly important so that the story idea comes across strong and is not centered on the time period so much but ..."

This is a fascinating discussion, though I'm joining late. It seems there are so many books set in history that have done well, but that publishers might not categorize as HF. Kelly Gang (one of my personal top 10) is one example, but there are many, many more: Song of Achilles and Rules of Civility, just to pick a few brand new ones that are currently popular.

Kind of makes me wonder if it's the use of the HF *label* that's declining, rather than the overall readership for books with historical settings?


Susan Spence | 22 comments I wonder what most readers think when they hear the label Historical Fiction. It piques my interest automatically as I love to read history in novel form. HS is also such a broad category. I couldn't even find a precise definition for it. As I've said before, I think people get way too hung up on genres.


Tim Weed (weedlit) | 19 comments I agree, Susan, but publishers pay keen attention to genres so writers, if they want to publish their books, have to do so as well.


Kristin Gleeson | 31 comments That's very true. Even when writing, if you want a mainstream publisher and haven't been published before you shouldn't mix genres. Publishers like to have a clear idea what they're marketing, mainly because it's the finance guys who call the shots nowadays. It's the editors who have to convince them that a ms. is commercially worthy. Finance guys look at the bottom line. Is this a possible next 'James Patterson' or if it's literary is it in the style of Jonathan Franzen or Nicholas Evans?


message 37: by Suzanne (last edited Apr 19, 2012 06:22AM) (new)

Suzanne Adair | 163 comments This recent survey originated with the Historical Novel Society and flies in the face of all those agents who claim that historical fiction isn't selling and doesn't have a market. There's a gulf between what readers want and what NYC publishes.

A decade ago, when I was shopping around my first book, Paper Woman, I initially had an agent. She tried for more than a year to get NYC interested in my series. She got responses like the following: "Southern theater of the Revolutionary War? Was there a Revolutionary War in the South? We don't think so. And we don't think any readers will believe it, either. No thanks."

As she indicated that she would continue to submit my manuscripts to editors who had flunked history, I parted ways with her and found the regional, traditional publisher Whittler's Bench Press. Paper Woman went on to win the Patrick D. Smith Literature Award. Whittler's Bench Press also published the two other books in that "Mysteries of the American Revolution" trilogy, The Blacksmith's Daughter and Camp Follower. Camp Follower was nominated for the Daphne du Maurier Award and the Sir Walter Raleigh Award.

Whittler's Bench Press folded last year. In October 2011, I indie-published the first book of a spin-off series, Regulated for Murder: A Michael Stoddard American Revolution Thriller. Regulated for Murder received a "Best of 2011" nod from Suspense Magazine.

Suzanne Adair


Beverly Gray (grayarmybrat) | 78 comments No war in the South during the Revolution? I'm sure that Nathanial Green and Francis Marion might have something to say to that.

Glad things worked out, Suzanne. I'll have to look up the books. They sound like something I might enjoy once I finish with Nevil Shute.


Suzanne Adair | 163 comments No war in the South during the Revolution? I'm sure that Nathanial Green and Francis Marion might have something to say to that.

Not to mention Lord Cornwallis.

Glad things worked out, Suzanne. I'll have to look up the books. They sound like something I might enjoy once I finish with Nevil Shute.

Thank you. Shute was a prolific author. Which of his works are you reading?

BTW the link to the "Rats in the Slush Pile" article that you recommended doesn't work for me. Please post it again.


message 40: by Beverly (last edited Apr 20, 2012 05:41AM) (new)

Beverly Gray (grayarmybrat) | 78 comments Oh yes, mustn't forget Lord Cornwallis or Tarleton, for that matter. The fighting was so bitter in the Southern theater of that war.

I'm reading through all of Shute's books that are now available in eBooks that I had not read before. There is an interesting shift in his perspective after WWII when he emigrated to Australia. In the books between the World Wars, he still had a hopeful note about England and her future. After the war, there is a trace of bitter-sweetness when he speaks of England. Yes, he is prolific but not quite as bad as reading Warwick Deeping who published a book a year for over fifty years.

Sorry the link didn't work. I'll reset it here.

my link text

Just to forewarn you, it does open a pdf window so, depending on your system, there may be some delay for it to open. I just checked it and it seems to work.


Suzanne Adair | 163 comments Beverly wrote: "Oh yes, mustn't forget Lord Cornwallis or Tarleton, for that matter. The fighting was so bitter in the Southern theater of that war.

It was the Civil War, Part 1.

Thanks for sending the link again. Gosh, that's a huge article, so I skimmed it. The dynamics have definitely changed in the publishing industry since the article was written. One thing that hasn't changed is the arrogance and idealistic attitude of new writers, which is what the article points out. I saw an example of that on Kindleboards recently.


Tim Weed (weedlit) | 19 comments Suzanne, I'm curious as to how it's changed, in your view. I was blown away by that article, and horrified at the same time. Have things gotten any better, in your view?


Patricia O'Sullivan | 20 comments Interesting comments about the Revolutionary War. I grew up in MA where we were taught in school that all the important events of the war happened in the north other than Cornwallis's surrender. When I came to MS and entered a graduate program in history, my fellow students, all of them southerners, disputed with me than anything important in the Revolutionary War happened in the north. They argued the Tea Party and the Boston Massacre were overblown. I saw through their eyes that maybe this was true, but I wouldn't concede on Lexington and Concord.

My point is this: Ignorance of history is not a matter of flunking history, but of how each state gets to decide what is in the curriculum and how they promote their own role in history to students. I admit I never fully understood the South's role in the Revolution until I came here and was challenged to learn more about it. Up until that point I had no reason to question the objectivity of the history I'd learned in school.


Beverly Gray (grayarmybrat) | 78 comments Yes, it is a very long article. Took me several re-reads to get my head around some of it. Then, after a few years when I launched my own series, I read it again from the perspective of a self-publisher. Basically, what I got out of it was to manage my own expectations as a writer as well as embrace the freedom to write what I want when I want. It's a sort of FIELD OF DREAMS concept - "If you write it, they will read it." However, it won't happen overnight so that's where managing expectations comes into it.

This is something all writers must learn to do; regardless of which path they take or how successful they become. To me, the saddest thing is what is happening to so many mid-list authors during this time of upheaval in the industry. To manage to go through all the hoops of agent/publisher and then be dropped, has to be the most heartbreaking thing in the world for a writer. So far, some of the great successes in self-publshing are those same mid-list authors who already have a following but can now get their books out to their readers.

I suspect a number of new writers may seem to possess a certain arrogance or attitude. It probably comes from the giddy realization that the story that existed in their heads for so long is now in a tangible format that can be seen and commented upon by others. I don't regard their behavior as arrogance. In most cases, I think it's just over-enthusiasm which will simmer down after the first flush of crossing the literary finish line.


Suzanne Adair | 163 comments Tim, literary agents acting as gatekeepers for publishers isn't standard operating practice anymore. Most agents are, in fact, trying to reinvent themselves to make sure they have a job. They can still help authors with foreign and film rights. But many authors no longer desire to find a literary agent because of the ease and acceptance of self-publishing, plus the ways social media help authors share information.


Tim Weed (weedlit) | 19 comments That makes sense. I see such a plethora of self-published authors out there, however, on Twitter and elsewhere, and it makes me wonder how many of their books are actually worth reading, and, in a related sense, how many of those authors are actually gaining a readership.

Without gatekeepers, at a time when shoddy books are so ubiquitous, how is a reader to ensure a quality reading experience?

Seems to me that's a potential role for traditional agents and publishers as the on-line market gets more and more glutted.


Suzanne Adair | 163 comments I grew up in MA where we were taught in school that all the important events of the war happened in the north other than Cornwallis's surrender.

Gadzooks!

When I came to MS and entered a graduate program in history, my fellow students, all of them southerners, disputed with me than anything important in the Revolutionary War happened in the north.

Gadzooks again! It reminds me of some Southerners' assertion that the only important events of the Civil War happened in the South. :-)

The Revolutionary War negatively impacted all 13 colonies as well as adjoining territories such as Florida. From year to year, the hotbed of activity shifted around. Not every colony saw heavy action every year. For example, from 1777 - 1780, things were relatively quiet in North Carolina. But every colony got hammered by the war at some point.

In the last decade or so, the historians and history profs with whom I schmooze have produced research showing South Carolina edging out New York for the dubious honor of most embattled colony. That doesn't change the fact that the war made both colonies absolute hell.

They argued the Tea Party and the Boston Massacre were overblown. I saw through their eyes that maybe this was true, but I wouldn't concede on Lexington and Concord.

In terms of participants and amount of tea involved, the Boston Tea Party was bigger than the other tea parties, thus it gets all the press. But I agree with you that Lexington and Concord were important. I think what's missing is a sense of balance.

My point is this: Ignorance of history is not a matter of flunking history, but of how each state gets to decide what is in the curriculum and how they promote their own role in history to students.

You may be right about that. But it's disappointing when a publishing house installs a gatekeeper who makes submission decisions without understanding the larger historical picture. I've encountered book reviewers who do the same. (And one of those prefaced her comments with, "I didn't do very well in history...")

I admit I never fully understood the South's role in the Revolution until I came here and was challenged to learn more about it. Up until that point I had no reason to question the objectivity of the history I'd learned in school.

One of the reasons why I've set my series in the Southern theater is to give that piece of the war its day in court. I'm always getting feedback from readers who tell me they didn't realize the importance of the Southern theater until they read my books.


Suzanne Adair | 163 comments I suspect a number of new writers may seem to possess a certain arrogance or attitude. It probably comes from the giddy realization that the story that existed in their heads for so long is now in a tangible format that can be seen and commented upon by others. I don't regard their behavior as arrogance. In most cases, I think it's just over-enthusiasm which will simmer down after the first flush of crossing the literary finish line.

Beverly, the fellow I'm thinking about commented on Kindleboards last week along the lines of, "Eyes on me, kids. I'll be outselling all of you in a few years. Remember my name." He'd just self-published his first book. "Giddy" is a bit mild for describing that. :-)


Beverly Gray (grayarmybrat) | 78 comments Well, jerks will be jerks, Suzanne. In that case, I agree with your first assessment.

Just finished ROUND THE BEND two books ago, Chris. Currently on FAR COUNTRY which is set in Australia after WWII. His despair for England, which is still on rationing, is poignant.


Suzanne Adair | 163 comments Beverly, in what order do you recommend that a Shute-newbie read his books?


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