Historical Fiction


Historical Fiction
Natalie Bright
 
Historical details haunt me. Am I getting this right? Accuracy in the stories I’m writing cause me much concern and angst; I never feel I’ve done enough homework or that I have a full grasp of the time period. Take for example a letter to the editor of the Western Writers of America’s magazine. He wrote to complain about the use of the word “sheriff” in western novels. City councils hired a “marshall”, not a sheriff. For my middle-grade series set in the Wild West, I did research Marshall, who was appointed by the U.S. President at the time. I got that right. The thought to question and research the term ‘Sheriff’ never once crossed my mind. Will the incorrect information aggravate some readers, and since it’s a children’s book, should writers have an even bigger obligation to make certain the historical information is accurate?
 
I’m experiencing the same doubts when working on the WordsmithSix’s Route 66 anthology. The history is fascinating, and it’s difficult to stop the research and just write. My story is set in the 1930s, and when I read first-hand accounts of the time period, I want to include all of the details that I find enthralling, but the readers may find cumbersome. I guess the best thing to do, is just let the characters decide.
 

Here’s the blurb for our upcoming anthology, which will be a collection of stories from different time periods but with one common Route 66 location. I think readers will love this collection of stories, and the research has been fun. My story is actually based on the true circumstances of my husband’s great-grandmother and is set in 1930’s Texas.

It started as a dirt path connecting neighbors, communities, states and finally a nation. Route 66 was an overland route traveled by pioneers, migrant farmers, and anyone going west looking for the American dream. From wagon ruts to an asphalt highway, it has connected generations of people.

Join us as we travel through time from the early days and well into the future on the Mother Road.

OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66 is a collection of stories that tell of good times and bad, love and heartache, from the past to beyond tomorrow, and all of them are connected by one stop, the Tower Station, and U-Drop Inn. 

 
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Promote You: Hit the Road, Find Inspiration, & Post a Picture


Promote You: Hit the Road, Find Inspiration, & Post a Picture

By Natalie Bright

Spent a Saturday morning with my Thursday night critique group researching historic Route 66, which runs through our area of the Texas Panhandle. We are working on an anthology of stories set on this iconic road.

I’ve been involved in this discussion before with a previous group of writers, and even have a 25,000 word story that never materialized into anything tangible. Sometimes you have to give a story everything you have, and then know when to move on. Maybe I can revive that someday, but in the meantime the topic of doing a group project came up again. We’ve talke about this before, and finally, we are actually to the DOING because Mr. Keel hit on a common theme that inspired us all:

Old Route 66

To set fire to our inspiration and story sparks, we planned a field trip to visit one of the most well known landmarks on Old Route 66 in our area. The U-Drop Inn is located just up the road in Shamrock. It was a great day and very inspiring. My character and her journey is definitely more clearer in my head. At some point in the story, she will make her way along Old Route 66 and stop at the U-Drop Inn diner.

Here’s the cool part; the spark from the my story came from my husband’s great-grandmother who was given to a man 31 years older then her when she was 21. Some of the family believe it was to pay off her own father’s gambling debt, others can’t say for certain. I’ve thought alot about this lady and how she must have felt. She was an interesting lady. She acquired a divorce in Washington D.C. and married a young man her own age, my husband’s great-grandfather. I have no idea if she ever traveled on Route 66 during her lifetime, but that’s where the character becomes fictional. Don’t dismiss those wonderful family stories as sparks.

Our characters  and their adventures are beginning to take shape. I am so excited about this anthology. The six stories in our new book will be in various genres and time periods, but they will all have at least one scene at the U Drop Inn. I’ll also be offering my novella as a stand alone title.

Promote You

Have you been on a research trip? Post pictures on your social media and create a little buzz about your upcoming story.

Are you looking for inspiration? Nothing like a road trip. Clear your head and just look, listen, smell, and touch. Don’t forget your pen and notebook.

More about Old Route 66

Built in 1936 at a cost of $23,000, the Tower Conoco and U-Drop Inn were featured in the 2006 Disney Pixar movie CARS.

Although the cafe does not serve food today, it is immaculately preserved. At the grand opening in April, 1936, it was considered “the swankiest of the swank eating places.” When Route 66 came through Shamrock in 1937, it was the only eating place for a hundred miles along the new roadway. Elvis ate in one of the corner booths. As an excellent example of Art Deco, the building features two flared towers with green glazed ceramic tile walls and neon light accents.

Route 66 was decommissioned in 1984 and Shamrock became one of the many towns bypassed by highway Interstate-40. Through several owners, name changes, and layers of paint, a son of one of the original owners purchased the dilapidated building in the 1980s and restored it back to the original colors and name.

Today, the U Drop Inn is owned by the city of Shamrock and houses the local tourist information center.

PROMOTE YOU: Write More!


PROMOTE YOU:  Write More!

 

“As you produce more books (or more stories or content of any kind), you are likely to grow your audience or reach more readers. And this in turn naturally leads to more followers on social media.”     — JANE FRIEDMAN

No question about it, it’s up to you, the writer, to produce more of your content. Why advertise a store with nothing in it? That’s why I’m always seeking new ways to work my life around writing time. What an uphill battle!

This past week, I read: “The 8-Minute Writing Habit: Create a Consistent Writing Habit That Works With Your Busy Lifestyle (Growth Hacking For Storytellers #3)” by Monica Leonelle  

Book Review:

For an indepth look at why you’re not producing more words like you think you should, add this book to your writer’s reference library and beware—Leonelle doesn’t care about stepping on toes. She tells it like it is and bluntly explains how to change your mindset. This book will give you several great soul-searching moments.

Here are two passages that really hit home with me:

1)            “butt-in-chair” … “this is officially the worst advice ever unleashed on poor, unsuspecting hoping-to-be writers.” Monica Leonelle

2)            “Right now, you are probably pitting your writing goals against all the other important things in your life, and writing is losing every time. The trick is to stop pitting them against each other.” Monica Leonelle

Trying to push myself to make time for “butt-in-chair” has definitely caused me to resent the reasons I can’t spend more time writing. How about you?

From two teenagers who are always hungry to day-job obligations that run into early evenings spent at the office, I’m grouchy and frustrated, wondering why bother to finish a novel that’s buzzing my head. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, but what a great new thought process: can I make writing the most important part of my day instead of the feeling like everything else is keeping me from my writing? As Leonelle says, “…you have to integrate writing into your life.”

She definitely gave me some food for thought. I have so many ideas for stories and there is only 24 hours in a day, but I’m not dead yet! Maybe it’s time for a mindset change. My writing is just as important as day-job deadlines and cooking dinner. Moving onward…

REF: Leonelle, Monica. The 8-Minute Writing Habit: Create a Consistent Writing Habit That Works With Your Busy Lifestyle (Growth Hacking For Storytellers #3) (p. 2). Spaulding House. Kindle Edition.

 

Publishing Possibilities


Wordsmith Six members have been writing and critiquing together for many years now, and we are continually exploring opportunities for our work. It’s very exciting to move into new creative venues, and with that I’m happy to announce that two of our members have started their own publishing companies!

Yesterday’s Dream – Today’s Reality!

Rory C. Keel is now accepting clients for Carpe Diem Publishers, offering complete services for authors. Rory will take your book wide, in print and eBook, and offers a variety of services to help you realize your dream of holding that book in your hand.

Carpe Diem Publishers will be publishing our Route 66 collection of novellas soon. Stay tuned. We will let you know as work progresses.

Website: http://carpediempublishers.com

Always Keep Moving Forward

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you know my books did not find a home through traditional publishing route, and that’s why I started NKB BOOKS, LLC. I write stories set in the West about the days of horse drawn wagons, cowboys, and the wild Texas frontier. Definitely not something that would appeal to a mainstream audience, but hopefully there is are readers out there who appreciate a good western story as much as I do.  I’m working to release my body of work, and that means hiring cover designers, finding formatters, and planning promotional events.  I am also working with several people on a few co-authoring projects that I will be publishing through my new LLC. I like the control so far, but it is a lot of work. I am not taking on any new clients at this time.

Website: http://nataliebright.com

Keep writing and always be on the lookout for new opportunities. You never know where this crazy journey will take you!

How Do You Define Success as a Writer?


How Do You Define Success as a Writer?
 
by N. Bright
 

The Texas High Plains Writers program this past Saturday featured a Q&A panel of authors. Two traditionally published and two Indie Authors answered questions about their writing process and the publishing industry. Jodi Thomas, New York Times Bestselling author of 48 books, moderated. It was a fun morning, and I was honored to be a part of the panel along with Linda Broday who writes a successful series for SourceBooks, and Ryan McSwain who is an Indie Author.

 
“Secrets of Success” was the title of the program, and Jodi pointed out that each writer can define success in totally different ways. For very successful, tradtionally published authors, success might be the number one spot on a national best seller list, or seeing their book on a movie screen. As I juggle two teenagers, a busy day job, and all of the ideas in my head, success for me is holding one of my stories in hand. As an Indie Author, that is the immediate pay off for me personally, and then the book promotion is another faucett of the business that will continue through the long term.
 
The morning discussion included some great tips.
 
Jodi says, “Pick a lane,” which in some cases mean genre. Do you want to write kid lit or mainstream romance? In today’s publishing environment, I take it to mean considering the best publishing option for your work in progress as well. Every project may be different and writers have so many choices today. 

Jodi told us, “Everyone in this room has talent. Are you willing to do what it takes? Pick a lane. Develop your career.”

 
Linda says to include lots of conflict in your stories and use true events and personal stories to add depth to your writing.
 
Ryan keeps a character file, where he puts specifics about his characters as they develop. His ‘supplemental file’ is a list of changes that need to be made in previous chapters as he writes the new chapters. Instead of stopping to make changes, he references the supplemental file and makes the changes to his completed manuscript all at one time.
 
Traditional or Indie involves time and money, but as I told the group, it’s a completely different mindset. If you have a high concept book and you think readers all over the world will read it, then you have to go where the agents and editors are. You need to summarize your book into a one sentence pitch, and you have to practice that pitch. Attend conferences and sign up for appointments with the traditional publishing house professionals who will want your book. Your book must be exceptional in order to rise above the other 500 writers pitching during that same weekend.

As an Indie Author you have to write an exceptional book too, and then you have some aditional decisions to make. Pick a genre. Pick your target market. Pick a writing organization. Pick a cover designer. Pick a professional editor. The work is endless, but the rewards are extremly satisfying.

The secret to success takes hard work, but can be defined according to your terms. Jodi reminded us of one of our favorite local authors who, sadly, is no longer with us. DeWanna Pace always said that her writing goals never involved big dollar signs.
“It’s not the money,” she’d say. “I want people to love my work.”
Do you live in or near the Amarillo area? Texas High Plains Writers meets on the 3rd Saturday of every other month.

PROMOTING YOU: What’s Your Word Count?


PROMOTING YOU: What’s Your Word Count?

Natalie Bright

We had a great discussion at last week’s critique group meeting about word count. Nandy Ekle found this bit of information on Pinterest:

Short Story = 7 scenes

Novella = 27 scenes

Novel = 60 scenes

Our current group project in progress will feature six novellas around the common theme of the famous highway that goes through the Texas Panhandle: Route 66. We are striving for around 20,000 words each, but it can be a struggle. Sometimes you have to tell the story you want to tell, however long or short it turns out to be.

Here’s another word count guideline I found, which includes several options I’d never thought about:

Twitter fiction (really?)

Under 1000 words = flash fiction

Under 7500 words = short story

7500 – 17500 = novelette

Up to 40,000 = novella

Around 90,000 – 100,000 words = novel (360-400 page manuscript)

Series = 1 scene 1500 words (a change of setting or location is a scene change and usually signals a new chapter)

Let us know your thoughts and suggestions on word count. Thanks for the comments and thanks for following WordsmithSix!

Monday Writing Quote


Monday Writing Quote

 

Write.
Write more.
Write even more.
Write even more than that.
Write when you don’t want to.
Write when you do.
Write when you have something to say.
Write when you don’t.
Write every day.
Keep writing.”
― Brian Clark

Promote You:THIS FOR THE LONG HAUL, BABY


Promote You:

THIS IS FOR THE LONG HAUL, BABY

By Natalie Bright

If you think about that statistical report which estimates a new title is published every five minutes on Amazon, you might start to hyperventilate and then throw up your hands in frustration. How can we ever get noticed in such a swirling frenzy of titles? That’s a lot of options for readers and your book will probably not be an instant success. Most likely your launch will not result in a flurry of sales.

The good news is there are more ways to publish your work now, more than ever before. Your digital eBook may very well live longer than you.

Case in point, this week I received an order from a public library for a book I self-published in 2010. The ISBN cataloging system did its job, because I took the advice of several Indie Authors and purchased a block of ISBNs myself from Bowker. My book is now on it’s way from Texas to Missouri. That book project and promotion is long since done, but the title and contents are new to the librarian who just discovered it in 2017. It was all very official. I received a purchase order and she will receive a copy of OIL PEOPLE for her collection.

My book went to Missouri!

So the question to ask yourself is this:

How important is it that you find readers, and are you in it for the long haul?

Are you prepared to tweet, create memes, talk to groups, write blog posts, and plan ad campaigns around your books? Are you prepared to do all you can to promote your titles forever?

Your eBooks do not have a limited shelf life.

In reality, the chance of future readers discovering your books depends solely on you, whether you are traditionally or Indie published. And I just realized this week, there is no deadline to that discover-ability.

Remember that seven year old book I mentioned at the beginning of this post? Guess I better start thinking about new ways to revive the blurb.

Carry on, writers–we’ve got some promoting to do, and in your spare time, keep writing!

TAGs:

Promote You: Are You an Indie Author?


Promote You: Are You an Indie Author?

Natalie Bright

To better promote yourself, you need a clearer picture of the path you want to pursue.

The old west, history of the U.S. and the hardiness of the people from that time period has always fascinated me.  I ran across this quote from the Editor of the Cheyenne Valley News, Harry Lovald, who wrote: “The trouble with most of us is a restless spirit. Instead of making opportunity come to us, we are chasing our legs off running after it.”

That description of early pioneers perfectly describes today’s Indie Author.  This week, someone asked me, “What is the term you keep saying? Indie Author? What does that mean?” For me the choice is finally clear. After four years, I terminated the contract with a literary agency to become a proud Indie Author.

For those of you who are new to the creative art of writing and publishing your book, here is a quick review of today’s terms.

 

  1. Indie Author: independently published author, meaning an author who not only is the creator of the work, but shoulders the cost for putting that work into production for the consumer and maintains complete control of the intellectual property. An Indie Author realizes there are many opportunities and paths to realize their goals. They can do everything themselves or put together a capable team of others to help.

 

  1. Traditionally Published: an author who uses the traditional gatekeepers of publishing such as literary agents and editors of publishing companies. A traditional publishing contract transfers ownership of the intellectual property from author to publishing company.

 

  1. Hybrid Authors:a fairly new type of author that has emerged meaning they are both traditionally and independently published. A) They may have obtained their rights back for their backlist of traditionally published books, and are now putting that work out themselves. Or,  B) they may have started as an Indie Author and realized great success in the rankings to garner a substantial fan base, and then was offered a deal from a traditional publisher.

Either way you look at it, it’s all good and it’s a wonderful time to be the creator of original content.

“It is a great responsibility to be pioneers in so great a world.” NARCISSA WHITMAN