Thursday, December 16, 2010

Potato Hatred

Great phrase, no? A shortcut for those of us who love historical fiction and hate the errors that some authors can let into the story.

Example: the medieval lord and his fair lady sitting down in 1253 to a hearty dinner of good old English roast beef with a side of potatoes and gravy.

Gravy I might buy. But the potato, along with a dozen other vegetables and fruits, is a New World import that didn't exist in Europe in 1253.

Ditto the tomato. And corn (American sweet corn, a.k.a. maize). The historical English, if they refer to corn, mean any grain product, particularly wheat. So if you're reading about a 15th century "corn merchant", don't think you've encountered a moment of Potato Hatred -- think wheat merchant instead.

Why do authors do this? I can't speculate on every possible reason, but among them must be haste; laziness; ignorance; and/or bad editing that "corrected" a reference to a veg that was correct for olden times to one more easily recognized by a modern readership.

But I feel as though Potato Hatred can cover almost any anachronism in fiction. My criterion: if it yanks you out of the book, has you scratching your head and thinking, "Whaaa--?" it's a candidate for Potato Hatred.


Wednesday, December 08, 2010

New Review

MONTANA HEARTS, Charlotte Carter, Love Inspired Historical, December '10, ISBN 978-0-373-86742-6

What's not to like? Cowboys. Montana skies. Motherless kids...well, not often for this reader, on.

I liked this book though I don't generally buy titles with women in cowboy hats on the covers (G). I approached it with some trepidation but found myself liking it more than I thought I would. Sarah has undertaken a rather risky search for the family of her donor -- she's had a heart transplant. Needless to say, she finds them, and the widow of her donor is a true and studly muffin with two traumatized kids and a cantakerous mother in law looking after them.

I won't spoil the read by telling more, but the story had a sort of inevitability that only good writing and a good sense of pacing can produce. Yes, Steeple Hills do all end with him and her together at the end, and we know that, but it's the "how do they get there" bit that's intriguing. Carter has done a good job with this love story. Mind you, there's a twist to the end that's also charateristic of a fine author with an engaging tale to tell.

Would I read this author again? Yes, definitely. My rating: 4 stars

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Come & Meet -- Shawna Williams

Happy Sunday, gang. Today I'm privileged to have an interview guest: DBP and ACFW's own Shawna Williams.

DK: When you’re not writing, what do you like most to read? Genre, favorites, etc.

SW: I read a little bit of everything – with the exception of horror and erotica. I don't like to be scared or grossed out. My favorite genres include science fiction, suspense, romance, historical (20th century) and fantasy.

DK: If you didn’t write in your chosen genre, which would you write? Why?

SW: Science fiction, baby! I plan on it, too. My mother is a Trekkie, so how can I not have a little of that in me. Okay, a lot. I love the adventure of it, and the limitless field for one's imagination. Pondering on the vastness of God's universe is pretty inspiring. It's something I've enjoyed since I was a kid and I'd love to create stories that can pass on that same sense of adventure to others.

DK: Where do you see the Christian fiction market going next?

SW: It's hard to say. I know where I'd like for it to go. I'd like to see it broadened, with more room for genres that many have questioned the appropriateness of in this market, like science fiction and fantasy.

There will always be a place for 'feel good' stories, and I'm glad to have those. My Christmas release is exactly that. But I would also like to see stories with harsher realities to them. Not because anyone enjoys misery or angst, but because there are a lot of people who've had it tough in life, and I think that most of what dominates the Christian fiction market is hard to relate to for them. There just aren't enough commonalities. This is where I see Christian fiction as a ministry, and not just as entertainment. I feel very strongly about this, actually.

DK: What has been your biggest challenge since you decided to seek publication?

SW: Balancing my time. For example, it's 1am on a Sunday morning and I've got church in a few hours. Promotion is probably the biggest time suck. It's necessary, and there are parts that I really enjoy, like meeting new people and answering interview questions J, but my house is a disaster! And I feel like we live off of hamburger helpers, frozen pizza and tacos or spaghetti because those things don't take much time to fix. It's been so long since I ran a load of laundry that I forgot where the washer and dryer are, and hubby has been forced to take over that chore. I think my house has a floor under all of this clutter.

I used to keep a very neat house, so these things actually bother me a lot, and I hope to get a little better at this time management thing.

DK: Name a few of your favorite authors.

SW: Francine Rivers, Susan May Warren, Deanne Gist, Tess Gerritsen, Nicholas Sparks, Tom Clancy and Stephen Ambrose.

DK: Wow, we share quite a few of those! Care to share a holiday tradition?

SW: My kids each have a small tree in their room, and for a week before Christmas I sneak little gifts under it. This started when they were small with silly dollar store items. They thought it was the elves back then. I loved watching the anticipation build on their faces as the big day approached. Now they are teenagers and they still like for me to do it out of nostalgia, but it's stuff like nail polish or lotion for my girls, and beef jerky for my son. Still small stuff, just more age appropriate. Sometimes I include something silly, like a funny pair of socks.

Sounds like a winner. Shawna's release from Desert Breeze is pictured below. Neat cover, eh?

Friday, December 03, 2010

Coming Soon -- SNOW!

Our first big storm is heading this way. Oh, joy -- Chicago, road salt, loony drivers, shoveling, more road salt...need I say more?

I'm determined to put a good face on this by spending the weekend working on THE HEALING TREE and biding close to home.

That said, tomorrow (Saturday), I'll pick a winner of the jewelry I'm giving away. Some of you prefer necklaces, others prefer earrings. It'll be winner's choice.

One way to make a snowy lake-effect day tolerable: give something away!