Tag Archives: historical fiction

If You’ve Ever Written Historical Fiction–Or Want To


Enemy of the King  3You will appreciate the staggering research that goes into penning anything set in the past. None of us were born knowing this stuff, unless you’re vividly recalling a former life. Even after all the enormous preparation required before typing a single word, more research is inevitable as new scenes demand added detail. I have yet to discover one that doesn’t. Such has been the case with my recently completed historical romance novel, Traitor’s Legacy, the sequel to award-winning historical romance novel, Enemy of the King. Both stories are set during the high drama of the American Revolution.  Yes, I studied the entire war before launching into my focus on the Southern Front because I needed to know how it all fit together. You can’t just dissect one facet of an era, but must see all the parts, or you will be like an ant seeing only the bottom of the elephant’s foot.

I finally finished Traitor’s Legacy right before Christmas, and intend to get this to my Wild Rose Press editor in the new year. Would you believe I succumbed to illness soon after? Could be I wore myself out. I hope my editor will fall all over it, but we shall see. Those of you eager to read this new story must wait until I have a contract and more information. Much thanks for your support.

Colonial Williamsburg reenactor on horsebackBack to the research. You may ask, do I enjoy these forays into bygone days? For the most part, yes. I find myself engrossed and often come across information that enhances the story, spawns a plot line, or even a new book. But there are those times when I’m exhausted and fervently wish someone could simply answer my question and save me hours of laboring to unearth what’s needed. And historians do not always agree with each other, so I am left to gain an overall consensus of an episode or the particulars of life in that time period. I also continually consult an etymology as I write to be certain my word usage is appropriate. (Image of reenactor from colonial Williamsburg)

Visiting the settings featured in my stories is a huge aid and I do so if possible. I toured all the North and South Carolina sites in Enemy of the King. In Traitor’s Legacy, the primary setting is Halifax, NC. I had a wonderfully informative tour and guides there, plus visited and revisited Colonial Williamsburg and historic Yorktown, as both locations figure into the story. Living in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia makes these treks feasible. Scotland, not so much. For British settings, I am dependent on family and friends who’ve visited, or live there, and research. Always research.

Through the Fire cover Final4I am grateful for all the assistance I’ve received along the way. For my Native American themed stories, I’ve had the help of historians and reenactors (also for my American Revolution themes). Anthropologists, archaeologists, language experts, and the Shawnee themselves have been invaluable in my NA Warrior series. Copious reading material has been generously gifted to me, or purchased from museum bookshops, or borrowed from the library. Family accounts I’ve come across while doing genealogy enter strongly into my work. Some online sites are hugely helpful, but didn’t exist in my early writing days.

My knowledge of herbs is extremely useful in doctoring my characters, or sedating, even poisoning, them if necessary. Herbs were vital to every aspect of life in times past and the reason I give herbal workshops to various online writing groups. Authors need to know more about herbs and herbal lore to lend authenticity to their stories. Some of this knowledge is also important to have for ourselves today, and can be lifesaving.

Native American WarriorMy point in all of this, is a plea for appreciation of the tremendous effort poured into writing historical fiction of all lengths. Even shorter works require much research. I challenge anyone who thinks this is easy, to go for it, If you already know writing historicals is an arduous path, but long to venture into the past, then do it for the love of the journey.  It’s the only way I know of to time travel.

For those of you who are interested, here’s the link to my Kindle Page at Amazon. Amazon has all of my work. Other online booksellers have a number of my stories, but not all. I’ve indie published some of my titles, but many are with the Wild Rose Press, an excellent publisher.

Author Lynn Sholes and Native American Historical–Woman of the Mists


Woman of the Mists_Cover ImageWelcome Lynn Sholes, who shares her writing journey and the inspiration behind her NA themed historical novel Woman of the Mists. Lynn is giving away the eBook to someone who leaves a comment. The winner will be announced Monday morning. So you have the weekend.

Lynn: I was a senior in high school when I attended an assembly that had an enduring impact on dreams of my future. I remember hearing the introduction of the guest speaker, James Michener. I was totally mesmerized. In my mind this man seemed to consume the entire stage with his presence. I had read Hawaii and there, right before me, stood the man who had written it. I recall looking at him with such wonder and thinking, wow, that’s what I want to do. I want to be a writer.

Years crept by filled with excuses for putting off my aspiration. First it was I’m going to write a book when I get out of college and then it was when I settled into my marriage and my new job, when the babies were out of diapers, when I wasn’t running carpool everywhere, when the kids were no longer in organized sports, when I could afford to quit my day job. And then I had a birthday that got my attention, and with it came the reality that the time to write was never going come on its own. I had to make the time.

Red-Tailed HawkThe first attempt was an experiment to see if I could sustain 100,000 words. I did. I stored the completed manuscript in a box where it still remains for my eyes only. During that time I learned a lot about myself as a writer and also that the typewriter thing wasn’t working out for me. I needed a computer. So, on the way home from work one day I stopped at a computer store, told the sales person I wanted one of those (an Apple IIc), a printer, and software. I was nervous all the way home because I’d never made a major purchase without discussing it with my husband. My whole family was in shock when I unboxed it and set it up in the dining room. It was obvious they believed I had lost my mind. That night when everyone had gone to bed, I planted myself in front of the tiny green screen excited to begin my book. To my horror I realized I didn’t have anything to say, no story to tell.

Luckily, I was participating with the Broward County Archaeological Society in digs and salvages. One day as I scraped away layers of black muck with my trowel, I uncovered an interesting artifact. Often while we worked on the Indian sites we made up stories about the artifacts. The find that intrigued me that day was a lovely polished columella pendant (the columella is the center spiral of a conch shell). I created a story about how a man had given the pendant to the woman he loved. As I spun the story, I realized this was the seed of the novel I was going to write. At last I had a something to say. The result was WOMAN OF THE MISTS.

Story Blurb:

Long before the arrival of Columbus to the new world, a magnificent and brave people flourished in a verdant tropical land. Their culture, steeped in spiritual life and tradition, provided them sacred wisdom and strength that survived generations.

In this land of abundance, a young a woman, Teeka, surrendered her heart to the shaman’s son, Auro. But when a raiding rival tribe invaded their peaceful village and she was stolen away by their leader, her life changed forever.~

***Amazon Link for Woman of the Mists:

Lynn Sholes_Author ImageAbout Lynn Sholes:

As a native Floridian, Lynn became intrigued by the prehistoric people of Florida as she researched their history and took part in excavations. It was this that birthed the seed ideas of her first six novels, writing as Lynn Armistead McKee. Now writing as Lynn Sholes, she has teamed up with Joe Moore writing international bestselling thrillers. Lynn has presented numerous fiction writing workshops and has been a writing trainer and coach for schools in Broward and Citrus County, Florida. She now writes full time from her home in the Sunshine State.

Visit Lynn Shole’s Amazon Author Page

Sleepy Hollow and the Persecution of Witches in America


Sleepy Hollow (TV Series)With all the TV shows featuring witches, like Sleepy Hollow, which is a fun show but its historical ‘facts’ are a hoot, (great costumes and dude, though) I want to clarify. No accused witches were ever burned in America. Hanging, dunking, drowning, pressing with stones, dying while imprisoned, lashing, banishment, and shunning were inflicted, but no burning. Also, some arrested for witchcraft were later freed and the charges dropped. And none of the poor souls hung or otherwise killed during the Salem Witch trials were practicing witches, but victims of an insane mania that overtook the people of that time and place whose madness is still begin explored today.

I did a post on My Ancestor and the Salem Witch Trials 

For historical records on the punishment and execution (or release) of various individuals accused of witchcraft visit:

http://www.personal.utulsa.edu/~marc-carlson/witchtrial/na.html

historicalromancenovelkiradaughterofthemoonMy fascination with the supernatural, whether real or imagined, played an important role in my historical romance novel, Kira, Daughter of the Moon. Murmurings against the unusual, young Scots-Irishwoman, Kira McClure, grow into accusations of witchcraft. Never a good thing, but especially not in the colonial Virginia frontier. Acceptance in a close-knit community could mean the difference between life and death. The highly superstitious Scots settled in the rugged Alleghenies on the heels of The French and Indian War were already wary. The dangers these dark woods held heightened their fear of the supernatural. Sick livestock, children struck down with illness, and other misfortunes might be blamed on witchcraft. Settlers were alert to anyone in their midst they could point to as the culprit. The farther people ventured from more civilized society, the deeper their superstitions ran. And taking the law, such as it was, into their own hands was often how they dealt with miscreants in the frontier .

veiled mountains

Late Shenandoah Valley author/historian, John Heatwole, put together a wonderful collection of accounts from valley and mountain people regarding their experiences with and feelings toward so-called witches. His book deals with beliefs lingering into the 20th century, but they’re still present among some rural Virginians today. Fear best sums up their sentiments. In his book, Shenandoah Voices, Mr. Heatwole says, “Witches have not been tried, jailed or executed in America since the early 18th century, but tales of their activities persist. During that period in our history, superstitious practices invoked for self-protection were considered prudent dabbling in the occult and virtually harmless. Powers or practices called upon for mean-spirited or evil purposes were attributed to malevolent people in the community who wielded demonic powers. Despite the perception of evil, people suspected of being witches, who were mostly women, were often tolerated in society because of their family ties or from fear of retribution—no one wanted to get on the wrong side of a witch.”

True. However, ‘often tolerated,’ doesn’t mean those perceived as witches were popular. He shares accounts, and I’ve read others, of outspoken or in some way unique females, perhaps even deformed, thought to be in league with the devil who were ostracized. Not being accepted and possibly even tormented by your neighbors was harsh, particularly for the poor and elderly. On the one hand, a woman might gain power over others, even men, in a historically male dominated society, through the fear she intentionally or unintentionally provoked, but the danger that people would shun her was always present–unless she was well-to-do. The rich were always better tolerated.

Spells and hexes were countered by witch doctors, usually men, although ‘Granny women’ were also known for battling the dark arts with magical incantations. I have friends who grew up ‘back in the holler’ and remember bringing in the Granny woman when home remedies failed. One common protection prudent mothers undertook for children was to sew little ‘acifidity’ bags filled with pungent herbs, garlic and asafetida,  to hang around their necks. “Oh my, did these kids stink,’ one friend told me. The stench was to drive away illness and evil. These stinky bags may be out of favor now, but the fear that lay behind them is still quite real among some folk.

Owl, Barn Owl, Tree, Hole, Bird, Animal, Bark, WildlifeYou may ask if any of the women, and occasionally men, thought to be witches actually were? Yes. And some of them sound pretty darn scary.

For my recent post on that visit:

One of the Scariest Ghost/Witch Stories Ever

California: The Not-So-Wild West by Keli Gwyn


Thanks so much for having me as your guest, Beth. Spending time with you and your blog’s visitors is a pleasure.  Delighted to have you, Keli. I love you in this period gown! Wonderful pic.

Now back to Keli’s not-so-wild west:

If you hear the words “California history,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For many of us, that would be the Gold Rush.

As a native Californian, I first learned about James Marshall finding those famous gold nuggets when I studied our state’s history in fourth grade. Little did I know then that I’d end up living just seven miles from the site of Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, where Marshall made the discovery that launched one of the world’s largest mass migrations.

In the early days of the Gold Rush, things in this untamed land were wild. My town of Placerville, first known as Dry Diggings, earned its most notorious moniker, Old Hangtown, when three men accused of robbery in January 1849 met their fate at the end of a rope following an impromptu trial.

The heyday of the Gold Rush lasted from 1849 to 1852. After that, mining was done primarily by large operations making use of hydraulic methods, since the easy-to-find gold had played out. The number of businessmen, farmers, and those in other occupations soon exceeded the number of miners, and refinement replaced roughness.

You might think culture was centered around San Francisco and Sacramento City—as it was called then—but that was not the case. While doing research for my stories set in the heart of the Gold Country in the 1870s, I unearthed many interesting facts, some of which I worked into my debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California.

At one point in the story, the hero, mercantile owner Miles Rutledge, tells newly arrived widow ElenoraWatkins, “I think you’re in for some surprises. California is no longer the Wild West. Over in Placerville the hotels have running water, the streets are lit with gaslights, and they have a Philharmonic Society.”

Miles relayed only a few facts. Placerville also boasted a brass band, a roller skating rink, and a 1,500-seat theater. And it wasn’t the only town with quality entertainment. Many of those up and down the Mother Lode had theaters, musical groups, skating rinks, etc. as well.

The presence of culture in itself doesn’t tell the whole story. The lack of crime was another factor that proved how quickly the state had been tamed. There were still outlaws and crimes, but as the stagecoach driver reassures Elenora following an unsettling encounter upon her arrival in California, “I hear tell the papers back East are full of stories about outlaws and Injuns attackin’ travelers, but them things are more likely to happen in open country. Not here where folks has settled.”

(*Placerville Hangmans’ Tree)

Many stories set in the West include a sheriff’s office in a town of any size. A Bride Opens Shop is no exception. However, the inclusion of Sheriff Hank Henderson is pure fiction. El Dorado didn’t have a sheriff. The nearest one would have been located in Placerville, which was nearly ten miles away. Law and order were well established within a few years of California’s statehood.

In the span of one generation, California had left behind her ignoble beginnings. While settled by an influx of people eager for instant wealth, a shift took place. The hardworking people who chose to stay put their energies into creating a forward-thinking state in the not-so-wild West, one that continues to make significant contributions to the U.S. and the world today.

I’d like to end with a question for all of you. When you think of California and the many things it’s known for today, which are the first to come to your mind?

***One commenter who answers the question will win an autographed copy of my debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California.

This is an extremely generous offer, Keli, and how I won my copy of your fabulous book earlier on a different site. For my glowing review at Amazon click HERE.

Story Blurb: Widow Elenora Watkins looks forward to meeting her new business partner, Miles Rutledge, who owns a shop in 1870s El Dorado. But Miles is shocked to see a woman step off the stagecoach. His rude behavior forces Elenora to reconsider—so she becomes his competition across the street. Can Miles win her heart while destroying her business?

Keli Gwyn writes stories that transport readers to the 1800s, where she brings historic towns to life, peoples them with colorful characters, and adds a hint of humor. A California native, she lives in the Gold Rush-era town of Placerville at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. Her debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, set in the heart of the Gold Country where she lives is currently available.

When Keli’s fingers aren’t hovering over the keyboard of her newfangled laptop, she enjoys strolling past stately Victorian houses in her historic town, burying her nose in reference books as she unearths interesting facts to include in her stories, and interacting with other romance readers. Her favorite places to visit are her fictional worlds, the Coach factory outlet store, and Taco Bell. (*Keli Gwyn at Spot Where Marshall Discovered Gold)

Catch Keli On Her:  Website – http://www.keligwyn.com

Facebook Timeline – http://www.facebook.com/KeliGwyn

Facebook Page – http://www.facebook.com/KeliGwynReadersGroup

Twitter – http://twitter.com/#!/KeliGwyn

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5411901.Keli_Gwyn

Why THIS Historical Romance?


If you Like Historicals and want to read something different, Enemy of the King is not your typical Regency, but a fast-paced adventure romance set during  the American Revolution.  Research alone for this novel was a killer, and it took years to write.

Is the story worth your while? Some think so.

“In addition to creating memorable characters, Ms. Trissel makes wonderful use of descriptive language. “Dreadful screeching, like the cries of an enraged cat, tore through the muggy night and into Meriwether’s chamber…The sweetness of jasmine wafted from the trellised vine as she peered down through moss-draped branches.”  Description like this can be found throughout Enemy of the King and really pulled me into the story so that I felt as if I were actually there.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Enemy of the King. Not only are the characters memorable and the setting beautifully described, but the action is riveting and the romance between Meri and Jeremiah is tender.  I highly recommend Enemy of the King to anyone who loves a well crafted historical romance.” 

~Poinsettia Long and Short Reviews

Enemy of the King on the: BHB READER’S CHOICE BEST BOOKS OF 2009 AT PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY BEYOND HER BOOKS

Enemy of the King at: FIND A GREAT ROMANCE BLOGSPOT

Enemy of the King on: Best Romance Novels List at BUZZLE

Enemy of the King at: HISTORY UNDRESSED

Enemy of the King at the : LITERATURE PROJECT

Enemy of the King at: BEST ROMANCE NOVELS TODAY

Reader Review from Amazon: “ENEMY OF THE KING is an excellent and intriguing read. All of the characters are depicted as multi-dimensional and complex, with a mix of positive and negative traits. I don’t want to give away the plot, but will just say there are surprising twists, and the author deftly combines both joy and tragedy in this romance novel about the American Revolution. I appreciate that members of each side of the war (both Loyalists and Patriots) are shown in a range from “good” to “evil,” unlike many romances in which characters or groups of characters are depicted as only “black or white”. Great work, Ms. Trissel!” ~ By Lisbeth Eng

Enemy of the King is an amazing and vibrant look into the American Revolutionary War and tells the story through the eyes of a remarkable woman. While Jeremiah Jordan himself is a strong soldier and heroic patriot, it is Meriwether Steele who makes such a great impression in this epic novel. Her dedication to the man she loves, the lengths she must go to defend herself and others, and the unstoppable force that she is makes Meriwether one heck of a heroine.

Ms. Trissel brings the countryside and its people alive with her fascinating and at times gory details. This sexy historical book is a must read! ~Danielle Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More

Enemy of the King at You Gotta Read:

“I love historical romances. They are one of my favorites and anymore when I think of a historical I think of Beth Trissel. She is an author who has proved herself over time. She is a beautiful storyteller. Ms. Trissel can take a story line and make it a work of art. And she did just that with Enemy of the King.

This tale was so wonderful; it really was a magical read. As soon as I started reading I felt like I was in the pages. The author has a way of pulling you into the story; this is your story. I could see the characters and the images Ms. Trissel described as if I were there or watching a film on TV. It’s a classic read for the ages and I highly recommend this book to everyone who wants to read a true fairy-tale.”~Bella Wolfe

Blurb: 1780, South Carolina: While Loyalist Meriwether Steele recovers from illness in the stately home of her beloved guardian, Jeremiah Jordan, she senses the haunting presence of his late wife. When she learns that Jeremiah is a Patriot spy and shoots Captain Vaughan, the British officer sent to arrest him, she is caught up on a wild ride into Carolina back country, pursued both by the impassioned captain and the vindictive ghost. Will she remain loyal to her king and Tory twin brother or risk a traitor’s death fighting for Jeremiah? If Captain Vaughan snatches her away, he won’t give her a choice.~

ENEMY OF THE KING is Published in print and ebook by the Wild Rose Press, also available at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and all online booksellers. Local booksellers can order it. As can libraries, if they don’t have it available. 

***Daughter Elise created the promo images. The rest are royalty free.

Book Club Members Please Note


I’ve put together a new page featured in the header section of the blog with discussion questions plus background information on the colonial frontier setting for my historical romance novel Red Bird’s Song.   This novel is unique both in the era it focuses on and the history that inspired the story.

Blurb: Taken captive by a Shawnee war party wasn’t how Charity Edmondson hoped to escape an unwanted marriage. Nor did Shawnee warrior Wicomechee expect to find the treasure promised by his grandfather’s vision in the unpredictable red-headed girl.
George III’s English Red-Coats, unprincipled colonial militia, prejudice and jealousy are not the only enemies Charity and Wicomechee will face before they can hope for a peaceful life. The greatest obstacle to happiness is in their own hearts.
As they struggle through bleak mountains and cold weather, facing wild nature and wilder men, Wicomechee and Charity must learn to trust each other.~
“This book touched my soul even as it provided a thrilling fictional escape into a period of history I have always found fascinating.”
~ Reviewed by Laurie-J for Night Owl Romance

“With “Red Bird’s Song”, Beth Trissel has painted an unforgettable portrait of a daring and defiant love brought to life in the wild and vivid era of Colonial America. Highly recommended for lovers of American history and romance lovers alike!” Review by Virginia Campbell

Red Bird’s Song is available in print and eBook from my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, Barnes&Noble and many other online booksellers.  Local bookstores can order it in.   If your library doesn’t have it, ask them to get the paperback or the eBook.  I am a big fan of  libraries and have made donations to various ones  but can’t supply them all.

2012 Epic eBOOK Award Finalist

Historical Romance Novel Red Bird’s Song got An Outstanding Review!


*I think this is a particularly well written and insightful review.

RED BIRD’S SONG By BETH TRISSEL

1-60154-812-5
Sep 2010
334 pgs
Historical Romance, Western
4.5 Stars
The author weaves a story of deep complexity. The descriptions of life among the nomadic tribe are simply without parallel. It is difficult to explain how deeply touching I find it to be.  In the Afterward, Ms Trissel confides that her ancestors settled in the Shenandoah Valley and that the family records document that some relatives were killed in Indian raids and others were taken hostage and later adopted into the tribe.  It seems clear that this story is exceptionally well-documented historically. I found it to be entertaining, thought-provoking, and educational. This book touched my soul even as it provided a thrilling fictional escape into a period of history I have always found fascinating. 
Night Owl Reviewer