Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “Historical Novels”

The Autumn of My Discontent


The Idaho Territory in 1863. © 2004 Matthew Tr...

The Idaho Territory in 1863. © 2004 Matthew Trump Idaho territory in 1864 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The toughest part about writing a historical novel is research. I am discovering researching is becoming as addictive as dark chocolate Dove bites. I can’t seem to stop once I start.

For instance, having characters taking a walk in winter is not a simple undertaking. The month, year, and locale all become significant. There is also clothing considerations, appropriate interactions, and possible terrain aspects.
I ran into this when I decided the sisters would walk outside with two brothers after a neighborly get together. I scampered to my files to find if young people did indeed walk unchaperoned, if  the area had some snow–or too much. Which leads to clothing, which leads to age appropriate mannerisms, which leads to..

It’s If You Give a Mouse a Cookie syndrome–one aspect leads to another. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed at this point.

Yet, here’s the problem–I’m too far into the novel to abandon it (again). I have this quirk about finishing projects. Especially when I get encouragement from agents, editors, friends, and critique circlers to finish it.

When I do feel bogged down in detail I turn to my inspirational muse, Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson. She won the Newberry Honor for her novel about a sixteen year old girl who inherits her uncle’s Montana homestead claim. It’s a dazzler for historical detail, characterization, and overall verisimilitude. It flows with imagery, sparkles with plot points, and it’s based on her great grandmother’s homesteading adventures. It’s becoming a favorite yearly read.

As inspiring as Larson’s Hattie is, I’ve unfortunately hit that dratted writing wall. Right now I’m stuck between seasons. What would my homesteaders be doing in autumn? Winter and Spring are covered. October and November? Hmmm…

I can see why fantasy novels are popular–creating worlds has got to be easier than traipsing backward to figure out what’s already taken place in ours.

Any Idaho historians out there?

NaNo oh oh


November is such an incredibly packed month:

  • post first quarter grades
  • plan second quarter lessons
  • parent teacher conferences
  • vote when applicable
  • Thanksgiving
  • No Shave November

oh oh somewhere in there is NaNoWriMo

If I were truly a dedicated NaNoian this should have been my first NaNo post. Well, not wanting to be too crazy this year, I’ve decided not to NaNo in 2013. I have previously NaNoed and have the completion certificate hanging on the wall. I even have bounced the manuscript out to a couple of editors and agents.

This year, however, instead of something new I shall continue with my vow of completion commitment. No more new starts until finishing half-started projects–umm, those of merit.  Some projects should keep on hibernating for both our sakes.

Yes, I am intent on finishing the middle grade historical novel I’ve been working on for the last ten years. I know, that’s an awfully long time, especially when in just a month’s time I cranked out a YA novel a couple of years. Contemporary fiction , I’ve discovered, is so much easier than writing  middle reader historical fiction. researching for a historical novel is one big onion of peel and write. As soon as I peel back one layer of information another layer is revealed.  Yes, peeling historical onions do make me cry. Getting facts straight, setting up proper verisimilitude, along with creating catchy characters, scintillating setting, and convincing complications, conflict, and climax is tough stuff. At least for me. I’m determined to finish this odyssey of a pioneer tale I started, especially when I’ve had an agent express interest.

Sooo, Na No not now, but thanks for the invite. This year my RSVP box is checked “next year, perhaps.”

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