Wednesday, December 5, 2012

GUEST BLOGGER DINA SLEIMAN: Making History Work for You (and Giveaway)!!

At first glance, writing a historical romance can look like a daunting task. After all, there are at least 6,000 years to choose from, not to mention an entire globe. Then there’s research, which can be pretty scary. How in the world do you choose? Here are a few tips to simplify choosing your historical romance setting.

Choose History that Sells
You can significantly narrow your historical search just by knowing the market. For inspirational historical romance, there are only a few times and places that sell well. The easiest stories to sell are set in America between 1800 and 1900. Books set in the later 1800s in the Midwest are probably still at the top of the list, although publishers have been branching out in the last few years. Small town and rural settings are more popular than city settings. Generally, if you can put a bonnet on your heroine, that’s a good thing from a sales perspective.

Still marketable, although not quite as hot, is anywhere from 1700 until about 1930 in America. Also Regency, Edwardian, and perhaps Victorian novels set in England. Occasionally you’ll find a CBA story set somewhere like France or Russia or maybe even England in the 1500s, but that’s rare, and those settings are certainly not advisable places for new authors to start. More exotic settings than Europe are nearly impossible to sell. Biblical novels have seen a resurgence in popularity recently, although these are typically historical rather than historical romance.

Now I don’t say any of this to put you in a box. You don’t have to aim for the center of the market. But going into the situation informed will certainly help. My agent asked me to write a historical romance set anywhere in America during the 1800s. That wasn’t too hard for me to work with. Personally, I’m not a prairie girl. I don’t enjoy reading those books, so it would be silly for me to try to write one. Instead, I like elegant settings full of romance and mystique. I live in Virginia, love the old South, and enjoy Regency fashions. So that gave me a start in my search. My guess is somewhere within that general category of history that sells, you can find a setting that fits your interests.

Choose History that Fits
Once you narrow down your search, you can begin to work on your plot. As you think through the main characters and events for your story, that will help you to narrow your search even more to a spot that really works. In my case, I had the idea for a title, Love in Three-Quarter Time. I wanted the story to be about the waltz coming to America, so that helped me pin down my year. It also determined my setting of an upper-class plantation home. As I concluded that my heroine would be a former belle of the ball who had lost her fortune and now must teach dance, I realized that I’d have to move her close to the frontier because sought after dance masters were male. One of my favorite locations in Virginia is near Winchester, but as I studied the history I discovered I was probably venturing too far north for plantations at that time. And as the story continued unfolding in my head, I realized I needed the setting to be a reasonable distance from Richmond. So I settled on Charlottesville.

Choose History that Informs
Once you’ve settled on a specific year and location, you can have fun searching out that time and place for entertaining and interesting historical details. Historical romance fans love little historical facts tucked into their books. In my case I discovered lots of interesting history surrounding the “scandalous waltz,” the nearby Monticello, and the beautiful plantation homes. Because I did choose a more rural setting, I had to learn a little about planting seasons and rotations, although that was more for my own understanding. I learned about a fascinating mixed-race group of Native Americans and runaway slaves known as the “Black Indians” that lived nearby. And of course, I had tons of fun studying those beautiful Regency gowns. You don’t want to overwhelm your reader with history. However, you need to know the background so you can set the story firmly in history and really picture it in your own mind. You want to supply your reader with new and interesting information about the time without getting bogged down in the details. Remember, story always comes first. And if it is a romance, the romance should be more prevalent than the history as well.

And Consider History that Challenges
Personally, I would also encourage you to find history that challenges. The idea of historical times being “the good old days” really isn’t true. History is rife with injustice and abuse. At anytime you can find poverty, inequality, oppression, drugs, alcohol, violence, etc… I mean, even Little House on the Prairie looks at social issues of that day. Now this point needs some clarification. The cozier the book, the less challenging it should be. The shorter the book, the less you’ll have time to go deep. Romance should be lighter than straight historical. However, for a long historical romance, there is definitely time for a peek at the real issues facing people in your chosen time period. I think examining those challenging issues makes your characters seem more real, more human, and allows us to relate to them. These issues allow us to walk away from the book enriched because of the experience. Romance fans are famous for wanting an escape, but it’s my opinion that the best romance books offer emotional depth and takeaway value as well.

So those are a few ideas to get you started on your historical romance novel. I’m sure some of the other ladies here will have tips for you as well. Feel free to share your thoughts on historical romance and ask any questions as well.

More About Dina Sleiman:
Dina writes lyrical stories that dance with light. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. She was the Overall Winner in the 2009 Touched by Love contest for unpublished authors. Her debut novel, Dance of the Dandelion with Whitefire Publishing, won an honorable mention in the 2012 Selah Awards. Her latest novel, Love in Three-Quarter Time, is the launch title for the new Zondervan First imprint. Dina is a contributing author at Inkwell Inspirations, Colonial Quills, iflourishonline.com, a part-time acquistions editor for WhiteFire Publishing, and she is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. Join her as she discovers the unforced rhythms of grace. For more info visit her at http://dinasleiman.com/.

More About Love in Three-Quarter-Time:
In the style of Deeanne Gist, Dina Sleiman explores the world of 1817 Virginia in her novel Love in Three-Quarter Time. When the belle of the ball falls into genteel poverty, the fiery Constance Cavendish must teach the dances she once loved in order to help her family survive. The opportunity of a lifetime might await her in the frontier town of Charlottesville, but the position will require her to instruct the sisters of the plantation owner who jilted her when she needed him most. As Robert Montgomery and Constance make discoveries about one another, will their renewed faith in God help them to face their past and the guilt that threatens to destroy them in time to waltz to a fresh start? Only $3.99. Visit http://zondervan.com/9780310334156, or to learn more about Dina visit  http://dinasleiman.com.

How To Win:
Leave a comment about your favorite historical era to read about or just a comment to be entered to win an e-copy of Love in Three-Quarter Time or a paperback copy of Dance of the Dandelion.

GOOD LUCK!!


107 comments:

eliza elliott said...

I love the western historical romance...love the cowboys and girls finding love...also love the austen type stories.

Melissa Jagears said...

Yeah Yeah Yeah for historical research....Just caught a historical error in my WIP draft. Thankfully it was just a sentence fix!!!

Because I've had a doozy before in a previous WIP, I had to rewrite major portions because I just happened to have picked the date following a devastating snowstorm that I hadn't realized occurred. That wasn't fun. Only I would write a book based on the laws of a town in a particular spring after a snowstorm without knowing that a snowstorm occured and would affect another part of my plot so significantly the book wouldn't work.

I can still feel the ghost-pangs of the despair I went through when I stumbled upon the sentence that killed my story.

Christina said...

LOL, Melissa, I tend to choose situations that have more than five sides to a story to write about, like Bleeding Kansas. I never knew there was a Missouri side to the story. ;)

Favorite era....do I have to pick one? I've always loved to read Regencies. I will never try and write one though. Too many societal rules. I love reading and writing Highlander stories, biblical and western/pioneers. I think that about covers it. *g*

Vince said...

Hi Dina:

“My favorite time period is Roman history from 44 B.C. to 273 A.D.”

William Faulkner said that, “the past is not dead. It’s not even past.” The past is always manifested in the present. A good historical spotlights how the past still lives besides us today.

Vince

P.S. Yes, I like a chance to win your book.

Kara said...

Since I'm not sure which time period in historical fiction most attracts my interest, I looked up five books from some of my fave authors:
The Merchant's Daughter by Melanie Dickerson...14th century England;
The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen...19th century Regency/England;
Mine is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs...18th century Scotland;
Undercurrent by Michelle Griep....10th century Norway/vikings;
The Redemption by MaryLu Tyndall...17th century pirates.

Each of these books grabbed my attention and it felt like I had stepped into the past reading their stories. I love reading the romance in them, but there's also survival and faith.

Thanks for the giveaway, Dina! Love in Three Quarter Time is definitely on my TBR list, blessings!
Kara

Lyndee said...

Great post, Dina, and one of my heart!

Civil War. Hey, I live in Illinois, Land of Lincoln. I studied Mary Todd Lincoln for nearly twenty years. Even went crazy enough to make a replica dress by hand. The skirt alone - thirteen yards of fabric gathered in cartridge pleats on a thirty-inch waistband. Took more than a week to get it right.

The first book I sold to a publisher was a trivia book on Illinois. Because of that book, I know a lot of weird stuff, and I used to threaten to rent myself out as a 'professional conversationalist' at stuffy holiday cocktail parties on Chicago's Gold Coast, lol.

Melissa Jagears said...

oh, forgot the "favorite time period" part.

I'm not fond of WWII as a romance setting, for some unexplicable reason I just never want to pick them up, (Sorry Seekers who write WWII) but I have really no idea why because I like South Pacific..., whereas a friend of mine wishes there were more and buys them all. So we even each other out, I suppose. :) But I think I'd read any other historical setting if I liked the premise.

And I'm going to throw out a big "I LOVE MEDIEVAL Romances!" though I know CBA publishers don't care that I want to read books with castles on them, but hey, I wish there were more.

Julie Steele said...

I am working on my first attempt at historical fiction set in WWII and based on my doctor in Washington DC.

I have been told WWII doesn't sell as well but I am learning a lot about my birthplace. I love those "ah ha!" moments when I am researching and find out something I did not know.

I do love western expansion stories but I only have liked a few regencies. But I never say never when it comes to a historical period.

Please put me in for the drawing.

Peace and thanks, Julie

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Dina, welcome back! Thank you for coming to Seekerville! And who doesn't love the beauty and synchronicity of a lovely waltz....

My favorite waltz scene is at the end of "Enchanted" when Patrick Dempsey (oh, swoon alert of rockin'-the-"10"-scale out of the stratosphere) dances with Amy Adams.... and she's in the modern gown while everyone else is costumed for the Kings and Queens Ball.... What a great job those writers/directors did of showcasing that dance. The lyricism of the moment moves with the flow of the music, the emotions of the characters and the heroine's gown... Truly one of the most magnetic dance scenes I've ever watched, as if they hit every note perfectly.

Dance is more than dance... it's a flow of movement and spirit. How nice that you've caught that in the pages of your book!

Melissa, laughing in EMPATHY....

Oh, sweet baby girl, dagnabbit, been there. Done that.

SIGH.

We learn as we go, right?

Favorite era?

Oh my, colonial times or Celt stories. My Irish heart loves to envision the romantic side of yesteryear.

My realist side KNOWS IT WEREN'T SO!!!!

Vince, I'm trying to capture that essence right now as I work, weaving the past with insight toward the present.

What a smart dude you are.

Cindy W. said...

Loved the post. I enjoy reading Historicals that are set during the Civil War period or just after. I also enjoy reading stories set in the west during the late 1800s.

Would love to be entered into your giveaway. Thank you for the opportunity.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52 at yahoo dot com

Debra E. Marvin said...

I have learned a lot by watching Dina as she went from a medieval story to her lovely 'waltz' book, and I made the effort to choose an American setting for my next story.

By the way, Love in Three Quarter Time is wonderful and has a Scarlett O'Hara meets Jane Austen flavor.

I'd say my favorite era is the 19th century but I enjoy Colonial up through WW11. (the fifties are just not historical enough for me...ahem)


While having favored settings and time periods is the norm, I know we also miss out on some wonderful books in other settings. I'm glad when someone recommends or asks that I read something out of my usual choices... it all comes back to STORY!

Ruth Ann Dell said...

Thank you for all the useful tips.

My favorite era is WW2

Please enter me in the draw for Love in Three-Quarter-Time which sounds like a terrific read.

Many thanks

Ruth Ann
ruthanndell (at) gmail (dot) com

Jackie said...

Thanks for sharing today.

I love the Civil War era and the Wild West. The American Revolution is also a fascinating time period for me to read.

Once in a while I imagine researching to write historicals, but there's so much to learn about writing in general, I can't imagine adding history to the mix.
(Plus it's not my passion.)

Thanks again for sharing!

Jackie L.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Thanks for the post on narrowing down when and what to write about, Dina! As for a favorite historical time and place . . . I'm not sure I have one. As long as there's a romance involved, I'm very eclectic.

I will say that if the back cover copy of a book indicates the hero and heroine will be separated for a long period of time, like during a war or something, then I hardly ever pick it up. When I read a romance novel, I expect there to be ROMANCE. Lots and lots of it!!!

Piper Huguley said...

Good Morning Seekerville!

Thank you Dina, for a very informative post. Your good information gives me pause as I reflect on my writing goals for next year.

As a reader, I really don't have a favorite historical time period. When reading, I like to discover new things about new places and times, so I try not to stay in one time period, but I like to spread out to different ones. The learning, combined with a strong romance, really enhances the reading experience for me.

Hey Julie *waving* I was told that WWII is an "uphill climb" in marketability at the beginning of NaNoWriMo last month. This advice came from two editors of an e-pub who advised us about our synopses before we wrote.

Their advice did not deter me from writing my NaNo novel. Look at what happened with Downton Abbey. Now they are saying that the WWI time period is hot and the 1920's is climbing. So, you never know. Keep going! Besides, what I do is so eclectic anyway, I might as well go for it!

Piper

Rose said...

Dina,

You book sounds great!

Thanks for sharing some things to consider while we are researching our historical novels.

Jeanne T said...

Dina, I loved reading about the things you need to consider in preparing to write a historical! I write contemporary, so the research is different. You talked about knowing the issues and having your characters interact with them (my words). I hadn't really considered that. Thanks for sharing that tidbit! This post was very enlightening! :)

I enjoy reading in all time periods. I don't know if I have a favorite, as long as the story is compelling. I loved Susan Meissner's Lady in Waiting--which mingled contemporary with historical. I loved reading the Little House books to my kids a little while back. And I've read a romantic suspense set during WW2, which I'd read again, if I could remember the name of it. :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Okay Seekerville..do you want the bad news or the good news first?



Bad news-Dina is really that pretty. Yep. I sat at her table for a meal at ACFW this year. She is actually prettier. No way can she have kids that are not toddlers.

Good news-even if she is gorgeous she is really nice! And went to Oral Roberts University where many of my family attended.

Vince she was in T-Town!!!

Dina Sleiman said...

Wow, 18 comments by 8:30 AM. What a warm welcome :) Sorry I wasn't here sooner, but I had nothing intelligent to say before I had my first coffee and fully woke up. I'm probably pushing it now, LOL, but I'll give it a try.

C.E. Hart said...

Good Morning Seekers!

Dina, This is an inspiring post! I don't even write historicals, but now I'm itching to. haha

I enjoy reading anything to do with the early settlers. There is something magical about that era.

nicnac63 AT hotmail DOT com

Dina Sleiman said...

Eliza: those Westerns are definitely among the most popular. Mine has an Austen feel, though.

Melissa: that's always tough with historical research. I found out after I had my first draft written that there had been a famine the year before. Fortuneately, it wasn't too hard to incorporate that. In my medieval novel, I often skirted around issues I couldn't pin down.

Christina: I felt the same way about Regency. Those people are die hard and I was terrified to make a mistake. But I had a fun time fusing Regency elements into this setting with laxer manners.

Vince: I like Roman too. I espcecially like Francine Rivers's and Sandi Rog's books set in that time.

C.E. Hart said...

Oh, and I forgot to tell you--I LOVE the title Love in Three Quarter Time! The cover is beautiful and it sounds like a fantastic read. :)

Jan Drexler said...

Hi Dina!

I guess from your post that I've chosen to write a story that SHOULD sell - mid-1800's, with bonnets and a touch of westward expansion thrown in. We'll see how the proposal flies as my agent sends it out :)

The main thing, though, is to do what you did - choose a topic and time period that fits you. I mean, as a writer, you're going to spend months, maybe years with this story, so you'd better enjoy the journey!

My own personal preference for reading is anything historical - as long as it's well written. Give me a good story and the setting sells itself.

Thanks for stopping by!

Dina Sleiman said...

Kara: You have some of my favorites on your list. For me, I don't like historicals that are too slow and bogged down in details. I like the story to come first. I'm way overdue on reading Liz Curtis Higgs, though. I need to get on that.

Lyndee: I hope things will work out for me to keep writing in historical Virginia for a while. I just sent my publisher a big list of ideas, and some of those ventured into Civil War era. You need to check out Tamera Alexander's last two books if you haven't yet.

Dina Sleiman said...

Melissa, please tell me you've read my Dance of the Dandelion! If not, you need to jump on that right away. Only $3.03 for kindle. I know a few of the Seekers will confirm that they loved it.

As for World War II, I get that actually. In theory I think of it as gray and depressing, but once I start reading a book, I usually enjoy it. I just read Siri Mitchell's "A Heart Most Worthy" set in WWI era, and it seemed very vibrant and colorful to me.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Dina, What a great post and break down of how to pick an era.

Personally I love any era that comes alive from good writing. I hadn't particularly thought much about the early 1900's until I read Julie Lessman's Daughter's of Boston Series. I knew very little about the gilded age that Cara Lynn James writes in her Ladies of Summerhill series. But I fell in love with both eras because of their wonderful stories.

I also love books that teach me knew things like I hadn't heard of the orphan trains until I read Janet Deans's Courting Miss Adelaide

Vince I too love the Roman era. Actually I love all history so write a great story in any era and I'll buy it. smile

Thanks again Dina for joining us here in Seekerville.

Dina Sleiman said...

Julie: Yes, WWII on is harder. I think part of the reason is as the world becomes similar to ours in technology etc...it's more work to keep the reader firmly planted in history. I also edit for WhiteFire, and so far when I read books set in the 60s and 70s, I forget it's historical and then get confused. I know it can be done, though, because some writers like Lyn Cote do it well.

Ruth LH: if you love the waltz, you should check out this amazing post full of videos that CJ Chase wrote in honor of my book release http://www.inkwellinspirations.com/2012/10/early-19th-century-dances.html

Cindy: As I mentioned in an earlier comment, I'll probably end up writing Civil War era at some point if I stick with Virginia for my settings.

Deb: Thanks for the endorsement and the great thoughts.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Oh and don't let me forget about the West. Love the West, especially in Mary Connealy's Lassoed in Texasseries and Pam Hillman's Stealing Jake

Dina Sleiman said...

Ruth AD: Will do. Do you have a favorite WWII book? I haven't read many.

Jackie: I hear a lot of writers say that you have to research for contemporary or historical, but I've written both, and I found contemporary much easier. For me, though, I enjoy the extra challenge of history.

Naomi: I know your books offer plenty of romance :) And you're an example of someone who broke out of the norm with your debut romance set in France. Good for you!!!

Piper: I love reading about all time periods too. For me the fun is new experiences, not familiarity. And it's true about new times breaking out. A few years ago they said no 1900s, now suddenly editors are begging for the early 1900s.

DebH said...

Hi Dina
my favorite era i think is old west. i tend to like sci-fi, time travel type books. biblical history books are cool too (my favorite classic - the Robe).

learned one more thing we've in common besides residing in the Va Beach area. i, too, am an ORU grad (circa 1990).

i love ballroom dancing and the waltz is my favorite dance. too bad hubby doesn't like to dance (he is terribly shy and self conscious).

great post!

p.s.
Seekerville peeps... she has great posts at Inkwell Inspriations. i like visiting there too.

Dina Sleiman said...

Rose: thanks and you're very welcome.

Jeanne: I like those books that weave contemporary and historical too. Maybe I'll have to try that someday. My favorite secular historical romance was set in the Middle East, but I can never remember the name of that one either.

Tina: Aww, thanks. I'm blushing. And yes, my oldest is a senior this year and headed to ORU next year to carry the tradition. That's her on the cover of Dance of the Dandelion at the bottom of the post.

C.E.: Glad to hear I sparked your interest. I used to enjoy books about settlers. Maybe I've just read too many now and want to branch out to different times. The title was the first thing that came to me when I was praying about this book idea, so God gets all the credit for that one :) And my publisher said the title really caught her attention.

Dina Sleiman said...

Jan: Yep, sounds like you chose a good time. Best wishes.

Sandra: I agree that a good story can bring any time to life. I think that's why we end up with new trends following a break out hit. Someone mentioned Melanie Dickerson's fairy tale novels. Those are doing great partly because fairy tale retellings are popular in TV and movies right now. (Says the woman who has seen all but one episode of Once Upon a Time.)

Deb H: No way!!! We are seriously way overdo for having coffee. Sci-fi is an interesting topic to bring into the conversation. Sort of the opposite of historical, and yet I like that genre too. And I actually love science. My agent recently asked my to write out my dream career, and it included writing in many different genres.

Dina Sleiman said...

Seekerville friends, just would like to say I can spell overdue, and even fortunately. Just typing too fast trying to keep up with you all. Whew!

Nancy Kimball said...

Dina, I so enjoyed Dandelion! This is a good article because if you're wanting to write historical, it's better to know this first then have agents tell you after two manuscripts in one of those "lost" time periods. =)

Misty Russon said...

I love the western historicals. The cowboy meets stuck-up, snobby rich girl, or, poor girl meets rich, snobby rancher, etc...
Thanks for the advice. I've always wanted to write a historical but dread the research. (:

Dina Sleiman said...

Nancy: Oh, don't I know it. I am a cautionary tale of someone who didn't know the market. But, it was sort of a blessing in disguise because I had to really struggle to perfect my craft. I'm so thankful that WhiteFire took on Dandelion, and I'm excited to hear that you enjoyed it :)

Misty: You know, I think Westerns and other American set historicals are a little easier to write because we have a decent picture in our heads from school and even the movies. You can't rely on that too much, but at least it gives you a place to start. I spent years studying the medieval period for Dandelion, and according to at least one medieval scholar, I still didn't get it quite right. In contrast, I only researched for a few months with this American set historical, and so far no complaints.

Dina Sleiman said...

While we're having a slow down in comments, I want to mention that if you'd like to explore different cultures in your historical novels, a great way to do that is to bring the people to America as immigrants. Elizbeth Camden's "The Rose of Winslow Street" is a great example of that. Although it's set in small town New England, her hero and his family are from Romania and she gives a lot of their history and backstory. I found that book fascinating.

Mary Connealy said...

Dina, I read a lot of regency romance and I love the scandalous waltz! It's so LOVELY that there was a time when a waltz was wild behavior. Wow have we left that far behind in the dust!!!
The book sounds wonderful.

CatMom said...

Welcome Dina! LOVE historical romance, and my very favorite era is turn-of-the-century. But I also enjoy the latter part of the 1800s too, and love reading books set then. Your newest book sounds wonderful--Congratulations! ~ Thanks for sharing these tips with us today. Blessings from Georgia (yes, another "Southern girl"*wink*), Patti Jo :)

Mary Connealy said...

I'll add here that Naomi Rawlings new release is set in post-revolutionary France. A fresh and different setting. So while I think you're absolutely right that the era's and settings you spoke of are easier sells, unusual settings can be done and Love Inspired Historicals particularly have been branching out some.

Me? COWBOYS!

Mary Connealy said...

And of course Melanie Dickerson's stories are Medieval, are they all Germany, Melanie? No, wasn't one...England or Ireland?

They're so early that there almost aren't countries.

Dina Sleiman said...

Mary: I think you'd really enjoy this one. It's funny too, which I know is your specialty.

Patti Jo: Yes, I've been in Virginia for 20 years now, so I consider myself a transplanted Southerner. My parents and sister have moved here too. My mom has a sign in her kitchen that says, "I wasn't born in the South, but I got here as fast as I could."

Dina Sleiman said...

Mary, yes, Naomi is a perfect example of breaking out of the mold. Our Historical European writers group is so proud of her. It took Melanie a long time to get hers published. For her, the secret of success was switching to YA and the fairytale motif.

Marianne said...

Thanks for the post. As a reader, i like the historical romances, but sometimes i would love to have one set in an less know place ...not for an unknown author to tackle, i know.

marianneDOTwanhamATgmailDOTcom

Marianne said...

Thanks for the post. As a reader, i like the historical romances, but sometimes i would love to have one set in an less know place ...not for an unknown author to tackle, i know.

marianneDOTwanhamATgmailDOTcom

Dina Sleiman said...

I like the little known ones too, Marianne. Check out my Dance of the Dandelion set in 14th century England if you haven't already :) Also, for a writer, I mentioned in my comments, you can bring immigrants from an interesting culture to America. Also, Love Inspired and Zondervan's teen line are both open to different and interesting settings.

Susanne Dietze said...

Great post, Dina! I loved LITQT--you did such a great job weaving historical detail with a sweet story.

I love the Regency, but I also read a lot of US-set bonnet books.

Thanks for hosting Dina, Seekers!

Dina Sleiman said...

Susanne, thanks :) And I can't wait to read your Regencies. I love your writing style.

Golden Keyes Parsons said...

My first series was based on my family genealogy and was set in 17th century France. (In The Shadow of the Sun King, Prisoner of Versailles and Where Hearts Are Free, Thomas Nelson) Being my heritage, of course I enjoyed the research, but my fourth book, His Steadfast Love, was set in Texas during the Civil War, and I must say that I loved writing about that time period. I learned volumes! Not much fiction has been written about Texas during the Civil War. We usually picture the Deep South, but plenty went on in the Lone Star State as well.

Now I'm working on a biblical fiction series of novellas about Nameless Women in Scripture, published by WhiteFire, and Dina is one of my editors! As far as research is concerned, the hardest one to date is the one Dina and I are working on right now about the woman at the well. Not much material available concerning the Samaritans.

Good article, Dina, with great information. Can't wait to read your book!

Dina Sleiman said...

Thanks, Golden :) And look, you're another example of someone who broke the mold with your French series. Maybe I should write a follow up post about authors who succeeded with less popular time periods and why.

Golden Keyes Parsons said...

Yes, that might be an interesting post, Dina. I think we'd have to define "success." My French series books were finalists for several awards, but certainly not best sellers. Well, that's not entirely true ... "Prisoner" was a best seller in Holland! :)

I think if we could all figure out what makes a book sell, we'd all benefit from that!

Fr. David Bryant said...

Great post, Dina! Thank you!

I love historical romances. My favorite time is anywhere in the 1800's and early 1900's. Favorite settings are anywhere in the US and England.

Melissa, just curious - where did you find out about the snowstorm? Weather is something I never even thought about as far as research goes!

Cheers,
Sue
sbmason at sympatico dot ca

Susan Anne Mason said...

Oops I did it again! (Not Britney Spears!)

I forgot to sign out of my work account!

Sorry folks!

Sue

Julie Lessman said...

DINA!!! Welcome, girl, and my deepest apologies for not popping in sooner. I have a deadline in about a month and way too many pages yet to write, so that's my excuse. BUT ... you are definitely the hostess with the mostest, girl, keeping up with the comments better than this old gal would.

DEB SAID: "By the way, Love in Three Quarter Time is wonderful and has a Scarlett O'Hara meets Jane Austen flavor."

Oh, WOW ... you had me at "Scarlet," girl, and I had every intention of reading LI3/4T anyway, but now I'm chompin' at the bit ...

HUGS,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

NAOMI SAID: "I will say that if the back cover copy of a book indicates the hero and heroine will be separated for a long period of time, like during a war or something, then I hardly ever pick it up. When I read a romance novel, I expect there to be ROMANCE. Lots and lots of it!!!"

AMEN AND AMEN, girlfriend -- we are two peas in a pod, obviously!! But then I knew that since I loved your book ... ;)

Hugs,
JUlie

Julie Lessman said...

Oooops ... didn't mention my favorite time period. Obviously it is WWI/Roaring 20s/Early 30s. I simply LOVE that time period because it's old enough to have interest and charm, yet new enough that the research isn't daunting and moral lessons are plentiful. And frankly, I really liked it because it was a war era seldom done, and I needed a war.

Fun post today, Dina!!

Hugs,
Julie

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Love your covers!!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Dina, sounds like you're having a great day today.
I brought some Sees candy. That will give you an energy boost. smile

Deb H. I loved THE ROBE also.

Dina Sleiman said...

Yes, for anyone who missed that, I call Love in Three-Quarter Time my Scarlett O'Hara meets Jane Austen novel. My heroine has a touch of Scarlett in her, Julie.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Lol, Sue!

I thought, 'There's another man here! Cool, Vince has company!'

Dina Sleiman said...

Sue: Sounds like your tastes run with the majority. Should be lots of great books out there for you.

Virginia: Thanks, if you don't notice when I mentioned it earlier, my daughter was the cover model for Dance of the Dandelion.

Sandra: Thanks for the virtual candy. Yes, definitely time for a pick me up.

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks for being with us in Seekerville today, Dina!

Loved your blog about making history work. You cover is gorgeous and the story sounds like a must read! Great price too!

Dina Sleiman said...

Debby: Thanks, and yes! Did everybody see the phemomenal $3.99 price. This book is part of the new Zondervan First line which has great prices.

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Dina! Your novels look terrific! Thanks for your terrific tips for picking a marketable era and bringing it alive in our historical novels.

I'm personally drawn to the mid to late 1800s. My favorite stories reveal the restrictions of the day with heroines/heroes driven to challenge those customs for the good of others. Those stories are very relevant for today's readers.

Janet

Dina Sleiman said...

Janet, yes, there were a lot of customs and restrictions historically that we aren't used to today, and those make for great topics. In this book, the more serious aspect of the story is that my characters are challenging the slave culture around them. In my first novel, the heroine challenges the system of not educating peasants and especially not peasant women.

Myra Johnson said...

Thanks for joining us in Seekerville, Dina! I'm working on a historical series right now, and it came together much as you described. After years of vacationing in Hot Springs, Arkansas, I grew more and more fascinated with the history of the area. Then a year or two ago, ideas started coming together for a story set in Hot Springs at the close of World War I. I just started writing book 3 in the series for Abingdon Press.

Dina Sleiman said...

Myra, sounds great! And I think I've actually been there. I'll need to check that out.

Kav said...

Interesting topic today and I've enjoyed reading the comments too. I do wonder though how 'they' know that certain timelines and settings won't sell. This avid reader is always ready to take the plunge to new times and places when the writing is good and the characters come to life. I enjoy the variety and I love to learn from historical novels. From the comments it looks like others feel the same way. Wish 'they' had surveyed me!

The only historical period I am not keen on is biblical times. Other than that I'm open and devour historical romance whenever I can.

I'd LOVE to see more Irish settings, Middle Ages -- the whole knight in shining armour thing. :-) And I wouldn't mind if writers branched out from the US settings. Canada has a history too, you know! And Australia -- and New Zealand! I'm thinking readers aren't the stick-in-the-muds the publishing industry makes us out to be.

Dina Sleiman said...

Kav: I know it's annoying, and I know some readers want all sort of stuff. But "they" meaning the marketing teams at the publishers, have a lot of research and data to back this up. Ten years ago "they" were more willing to try new things, but between the recession and bad experiences, the CBA publishers aren't taking many chances.

As for survey, their survey technique is sales, pure and simple. So supporting other time periods by buying books is the only way to make your voice heard.

I mean, you're welcome to try writing anything, but as a member of the Historical European writers, I've been watching for years what a difficult, uphill battle this is.

I hope you'll check out my medieval novel, Dance of the Dandelion, if you haven't yet. Set in 14th century England and Italy. I wrote that before I knew the market, and it's with a small publisher. It's only $3.03 if you have a kindle, but also available in print.

Mary Cline said...

Whew, I just loaded and started my dishwasher, what a lot of work! Then I should wash a load of clothes in my big ol washing machine, I really should vacuum today but hmm, I will probably be on the computer too much.

I love prairie romances and anything from regency on, and I like Biblical if it is well done and doesn't veer from my theology too much. But . . . my mom has this kettle sitting on a old stove at her house,the kettle weighs 20 pounds, empty! There were no deodorants when they wore those beautiful ball gowns and you had to walk every where in Bible times unless you were rich and had a donkey or a camel, I heard camels don't smell very good. I guess even though I like to read anything from "olden days" I wouldn't be able to write it very well every thing they had to do was so hard.

I do have a biblical story that has been in my head for years though, no two of them. One Old Testament, one New.

To write, it would have to be the here and now mostly but I like reading about everything, it's the story and the HEA.

Mary Cline said...

And the kissing.

Dina Sleiman said...

Mary: Ha ha. Good assessment. Life really was hard back then. Add in being a woman. Yikes!

Thank goodness kissing works in all time periods, huh? Although in some it's less appropriate than others.

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

Hi Dina! Hmm, a favorite historical time period? I've got so many! Just looking at my bookshelves, there's a whole library to choose from! Right now, I really like WWI and WWII (I know, the latter is not a big seller) and probably the Victorian to Edwardian era. Great clothes from the 1880s through WWI!

I was very anti-prairie literature for a while, probably becasue growing up in Nebraska, we grew up with that history, so it wasn't as much to read about it! But I don't mind an occasional Western or cowboy story anymore.

I'd love to win your book!

Dina Sleiman said...

Stephanie: almost all of the historical romances I've read in the past six months have been in America between 1880 and 1920, but in more upscale and urban settings. I've also read some early 1800s in the South.

I think my reluctance to read prairie is just oversaturation. I have no real objection. I grew up reading Jeanette Oake just like everyone else.

Anonymous said...

I love cowboys and the 1940's-50's era.

Cowboys (1860's-90's)because who doesn't love cowboys? And 50's I think because I've heard my parents talk about things that happened and think it was such a cool time. I watch 50's tv shows, but don't really read many books during that erea.

We don't have cable so I watch Anntanae TV. Leave It To Beaver, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Dennis the Menace, and Jack Benny show. The last couple of years have been extraoridnary stressful on our family, and I just love watching the old black and white feel-good shows. I know these show doesn't paint a true picture of the 50's, but I like to believe. I have one wip during this time period.

Connie Queen

Dina Sleiman said...

Connie: I mentioned (maybe 50 comments ago) that I think part of the reason the 50s onward are difficult is that the writer has to do a lot to keep us in that time period because there aren't as many obivious differences from out time. So watch out for that in your WIP. Continually drop in little sensory details and reminders to help the reader remember where they are.

Whitney said...

I love posts about historical romances. Congrats on the new book! Lovely cover!

I love all the time periods of historical romance (inspy usually). I think it's a real shame that editors and publishers focus so intently on just the 1800's. My current wip is set in 1897, but my story happened to naturally take place then. In other words, I didn't form a story around a year. The market changes so often that what might not have been "in" a year ago may be off the charts now! Publishers should keep that in mind!

I'm thrilled that stories that take place in the Renaissance, the colonial era, and the Great Depression have started to take off recently.

Thanks for sharing, and for the tips! I always wanted to dance, so I think your new book has an intriguing premise.

road_to_avonlea_17(at)yahoo(dot)com

Whitney

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reminder, Dina. And I really have to be careful because there's too many people who could catch the mistakes since they can remember those times. :)


Connie Queen

Bookfool said...

Very interesting! You've piqued my interest in the Black Indians, in particular - would love to know more about them.

My favorite era to read about is WWII. I love historical fiction in general, though. In fact, I didn't realize just how much I love historical fic until I moved and started unloading my books, shelving them by subject. Historical fiction filled an entire cabinet and then spilled over . . . and I'm not even finished unpacking.

Dina Sleiman said...

Whitney, I think the publishers are very slowly branching out from that core of 1800s America. The market is just really tough right now between the recession and the changes in the publishing industry. I know when I tried to find a publisher for my medieval novel (Dance of the Dandelion) in a few cases editors wanted it and it was the marketing departments that told them no. Downton Abbey has really helped open up the early 1900s, and yes, thankfully, these trends do change.

Cara Lynn James said...

Dina, great post! I love to read and write historical romances, so this is really valuable information.

Dina Sleiman said...

Bookfool: well I guess you'll have to read my book to learn more about the Black Indians ;) I must have come across something about them in passing years ago and they stuck in my head. When I started this story I wondered if I could use them. Turned out there were a few bands of them throughout the south, and one was not too far from Charlottesville.

Dina Sleiman said...

Cara: Your books look great. I'll need to add them to be TBR list. I do so much reading as an editor for WhiteFire, I have a hard time getting to the books I want to read. But I do try to check out a few new authors every year. And I'm always a book or two behind on my favorite authors, which by the way include Siri Mitchell and Julie Klassen. I also love Roseanna White, Christine Lindsay, and Sandi Rog. I'm actually ahead on Roseanna and Christine books because I critique for both of them.

Jenny Blake said...

late post was to tired yesterday to think straight. I love histiorical fiction and do like the west. love the oregon trail era and later ones. I am fascinated with the civil war and even books on the earlier wars. I find it exciting we are finally getting a few aussie historicals coming out. I am not big on english historicals unless its the naval ones.

Dina Sleiman said...

Jenny: Aussie historicals sound interesting. I'll have to look for those.

Suzie Johnson said...

Thank you for this post, Dina. I love historicals. Both romance and fiction. I love writing them and appreciate you sharing your insight.

Dina Sleiman said...

Suzie, my pleasure. I enjoyed reading your historical romance.

Mary Preston said...

I do love an historical read. I enjoy reading books set in Tudor England.

marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Patricia said...

My favorite era is before the 1900's.
Least favorite is the roaring twenty's not sure why.

Therefore I choose:
Love in Three-Quarter Time

Sounds like a good read. Please enter me in the giveaway.

Dina Sleiman said...

Mary: I like that time too. I'm sort of tired of reading about the royals, though. I think I've read several takes on each of their lives. I'd love to read something more fictional and less historical set in that time.

Dina Sleiman said...

Patricia: Interesting. I kind of like the roaring 20s with the bobs and short skirts. Will do on the giveaway.

Deborah Dunson said...

I love western historical romance, biblical romance, WW11 era romance and medieval romance.

shelia hall said...

I love the civil war era especially in the south because It shows how my ancesters lived and the dresses were beautiful

Sarah said...

I would like to enter paperback copy of Dance of the Dandelion.
Thanks for the giveaway and God Bless!!
Sarah Richmond
sarahrichmond.12@gmail.com

KC Frantzen and May the K9 Spy said...

Coming late to the party, but enjoyed this post. Wonderful ideas Dina, and your books look amazing. Congratulations on your successes!!

I'm a history and elementary education major. (I like people, either young or dead, right?!) So just about any time in history is enjoyable for me.

My favorite? No particular country, but mid-1800's.

Dina Sleiman said...

Deborah: My Dance of the Dandelion is medieval. I love that time.

Shelia: The dresses are amazing. I can't imagine functuning in a hoop skirt and corset though. Part of why I picked 1817 was the clothes would have been pretty but comfortable. I'm sure I'll have a heroine in hoops eventually, though.

Sarah: Sure thing :)

KC: Thanks. You know, I think what I love would be called "humanities" more so than history. When my kids were younger I taught our homeschool co-op's history class, but I included a lot of art, literature, architecture, drama, etc...

Dina Sleiman said...

Well, ladies, I think if we tallied up this data we would find the CBA is correct. The majority of you prefer the 1800s. But it seemed we had an unexpected number of WWII girls and a nice handful of medieval lovers. Might those be the next trends on the horizon???

Elva Cobb Martin, Anderson, SC said...

Dina, Thank you for your informative blog! I am writing a novel set in the 1700's in Charles Town. Do you by any chance have the set time periods for Regency, Edwardian,Victorian and their American counterparts if different?
I assume my wip would be called the Colonial Period. I love the old South, too, and most historicals. Thanks much!
Elva Cobb Martin, South Carolina

Dina Sleiman said...

Elva: Yes, yours would be Colonial, which is reasonably marketable. Regency is considered around 1800-1830 in England. The height of that period would be in the middle of the range. Victorian is pretty much the second half of the 1800s in England. And Edwardian (not an expert here) is early 1800s until around WWI, again in England. Someone else might actually know more about this. We don't usually use those terms for America, although I think especially in the East, the cultures are very similar.

Sherida said...

Enjoyed your post--especially since I am writing historical romance. I agree with your comment about adding little details about the time and place. I just finished reading Maggie Brendan's "Deeply Devoted" and, having visited Cheyenne, I found the details about the early city very interesting. Thank you!

Dina Sleiman said...

Sherida: Yes, I love those touches. They really bring things to life. On the other hand, I'm not always as fond of the books that are mostly about the history or a specific real person. I love when the story takes precedent.

Anonymous said...

I love historical romances set during the 1900s. Thanks for having the giveaway.

Rose
harnessrose(at)yahoo(dot)com

Jan said...

I love historical novel set in the 1800's, frontier or English.

Edwina said...

My favoirite historical period is the early 1900's. I loved the clothes, the cars, everything about that period.

Dina Sleiman said...

Rose, Jan, and Edwina: Thanks for adding your input to our little informal survery :) The cars do make the 1900s fun.

Dina Sleiman said...

Looks like Stephanie Queen Ludwig is the winner!!! Stephanie, I didn't see an email address for you, so please contact me at dinasleiman at gmail dot com . Let me know if you'd like a Kindle or Nook version of Love in Three-Quarter Time or a print or any sort of ebook version of Dandelion.

Lane Hill House said...

Not having an eReader, I would like a paperback copy of Dance of the Dandelion. Please enter me in the drawing for this book, please. My favorite genre is Historical Fiction. My favorites are mail-order brides, orphan trains, and Ellis Island immigrant stories. Kathleen
lanehillhouse[at]centurylink[dot]net