It's probably possible to write a series with female protagonist and not have a hot male lead. Possible, but why? No hot male lead, no sexual tension, no romance, no kissing (and other stuff). My Kate Warne series has George Washington Hazzard and I love him almost as much as Kate does.
Still, he's a troublesome character. Or he was when I first began to write him. It was with Hazzard that I first confronted the pesky question of historical accuracy. Every historical novelist faces this question. How much do you use from the 'real past' and how much do you make up? Take my Hazzard. He's based on a real person, but my Hazzard is different from the real one in some ways, but not all. So there's a Real Hazzard (RH) and a Fictional Hazzard (FH). RH, for example, married in 1857, but my Hazzard had to be single. RH might have been a scoundrel, but my RH had to be a super good guy (I had my fill of 'bad boys' in my 20s and I'm Totally over it). Also, I'm not entirely sure what RH looked like. I found the picture at the top of this post online and I thought, "hey, there's a handsome devil." So I use that image when I write Hazzard.Most mid-nineteenth century men don't look all that hot to us--it's the muttonchops, beards, weird hair, stiff poses and a million other things. But that guy is pretty hot, isn't he? Look again. I'll wait. Yum.
Most importantly, RH didn't hang out with the Pinkertons. Nor did he know the very real Kate Warne. That bothered me when I first started writing, but I've come to terms with it. I'll admit, when I first started writing fiction I was wearing my Professional Historian Hat.Professional Historians are supposed to get things right. I wasn't getting Hazzard 'right.' Still, I persisted, really for one reason. It was the name. Hazzard. How great is that? George Washington Hazzard. Even greater.
Some readers have suggested that Hazzard is too twentieth century in his ideas about women. There's no way, they insist, that piggish antebellum dudes would be that attracted to a woman with a career as a detective and spy. But here's the thing. The nineteenth century was full of dudes with extremely liberated ideas about women and the twenty-first century is full of dudes with terribly icky ideas about women (this is me showing restraint and not naming any names). And Allan Pinkerton hired Kate and his male operatives worked with her and Hattie Lawson. We have pictures of Kate in male clothing, male disguise, standing around camp with the men. They had to have known she was a woman and they worked with her anyway. So why not a male love interest named Hazzard? Isn't love Hazardous?
And it's not just Hazzard, it's Lallah. In my second book in the series I've got an elephant named Lallah Rookh. She's based on a real elephant that very real circus man Dan Rice owned in the 1850s. But she died in 1860, one year before book 2. She took a swim in the Ohio River, got in over her head (literally) and got water in her lungs. That lead to pneumonia, which killed her. She could walk a tight rope, which is astounding, and she was the first elephant in America to do a headstand. So I resurrected her. Lallah has a cool story and a tragic end and I wanted to write about her. So I fiddled with history. Go me.
One of the things I've learned writing fiction is that fiction is . . . fiction. Historical fiction should get stuff right, but it doesn't have to get everything right. And no one really thinks Professional Historians get everything right. History is a tricksy bitch.
PS--if you already read The Lincoln Special would you please post a review of it on Amazon, Kindle or Good Reads? I can't get any authorial traction without reviews. I've also got a small raft of people sending me typos/corrections. I think that's really cool. I'm going to upload another, cleaner version of the book at the end of the week. Thanks to all.
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I went the the movies last Sunday (Oh Captain Jack Sparrow, I love you so). As I watched the previews I thought, "Lately my country seems to have almost an endless appetite for apocalyptic stuff." The apocalypse movies appear to be about some kind of mass anxiety about the future. I could be wrong (but I'm a woman so that seems unlikely!)
The thing is, I think that's nonsense. Call me Polly Anna (OK, don't. It's a weird name). I think in all times in human history things have seemed bad to someone. I take the long view in these matters, but not because I'm a Historian, or a particular Optimist or a Dumb Ass (don't say it!). I think everything will be all right because I spend a lot of time with Young Adults. The Next Generation. The . . . wait for it . . . Millenials. Gasp! The Horror!
Before you fall back on this tired old B. S. about how the generation in college now is lazy, entitled and got too many soccer trophies, Stop and Think (it's still legal). They have a larger student debt loan than in any student group in world history, they work more hours while going to school than any other generation, they volunteer more hours than any other age group. I know. I have the great privilege of spending my work life with them.
Take for example my student Daniel Aley. He's a Senior in Graphic Design at Cal Poly. He likes to sit in my office and talk to me about ideas and values (real values, not that political clap trap values). I advised him on his capstone paper (kinda like a senior thesis) and he was excited to learn his topic, concerned about good writing and really enthusiastic about visually representing the paper with a virtual design project. In fact, I enjoyed working with Daniel so much that last year I asked him if he'd like to design the book covers for a series of novels I'm writing.
Yep, a Millennial, designed my book cover. And it's gorgeous. And it wasn't easy. Neither of us had ever done anything like it before. He'd give me a sample, I'd send him long emails, he'd try again. One set of changes I suggested took his perfectly good cover and made it BAD. But he did what I asked and let me see it myself. And don't get me started on resolution specs and 'bleed.' Every obstacle, every change, Daniel met the problem and fixed it. I'm exceedingly proud of him and so very happy that I went with a student instead of a 'professional' cover designer.
I've got another student designing a cover for a different series I'm writing (one with parasols and bustles and vampires and unicorns, oh my!). She's going to be great too. I just know it. I'll show you her samples to you when we get that far.
My point is this. The generation of Americans coming to maturity right now is pretty great. If you've got older children you don't need me to tell you this. The next time you hear someone bash the Millennials know it for what it is: The equivalent of a Cranky Old Man yelling "You kids get off my lawn!" Or go look at the Cover for The Lincoln Special and see how pretty it is.
Spread the Love!
I've done it. I've written, edited, formatted and published my first novel. It's exciting and utterly terrifying.Now I know why people write and don't publish. Writing is fun. Publishing is risk taking. Along the way I have learned many, many things. Many! In life the Lincoln Special was a steam train that took President-elect Abraham Lincoln from Springfield Illinois to Washington DC, taking a looping tour up through the Northeast before turning south. The trip took 10 days.My Lincoln Special took 3 years.
Things I learned:
1. Reading novels is good preparation for writing novels. Reading books about writing novels is even better.
2. Writing is the easy part. Learning all the technical stuff (web page construction, formatting, author pages, etc) was the hard part.
3. Those cute little section dividers in nicely formatted books are called Dingbats--how fun is that?. The swirly things on chapter title pages are called Printers Ornaments.
4. E-books are easier to produce than print books.WAY easier!
5. Even a professional writer and editor has trouble getting her manuscript perfect.If you'd like to beta read one of the next novels send me an email.
6. That was REALLY fun and I want to do it again. And again. (and I will-- Book 2 in the Kate Warne series is due out in Sept.)
Anyway, enough about me. Now I need your help. If you read my book and find a typo, could you email me at email@example.com? If you read my book could you leave me a review on Amazon or Good Reads? Reviews really help sell books and as a new author and publisher I need all the help you can spare.
The book is available exclusively through Amazon. The ebook is available at the Amazon web page and through any Kindle reader or Kindle phone or computer app. The print edition will show on the Amazon page VERY shortly. Until then it available at the Createspace store. There's buttons for both places on the front page of my website: www.peglamphier.com
If you enjoy the LS you'll be happy to know I've got 3 more in various states of preparedness. They are The Great Show, Rebel Belles & The Iron Widow. I'm also working on a steampunk/monster novel I'm calling The Perils of Petronella. It features the monster hunters Emma the Vampire, Sierra the Fae Unicorn and Therese, the Romany Spirit Medium. If those names sound familiar you know they are my daughter and her Lytle Creek friends. In short, my 3 best girls.
Right now I'm under contract for a book about an Italian Civil War cavalry colonel named Louis Palma di Cesnola. Between writing Louis and trying to get the book formatted perfectly I went Social-Media-Dark for awhile. Thanks for your patience.
Remember to spread the love. The world's a lovely place if you just turn off the television and look around. Kisses.