What is historical fiction?

So many people―especially family members―who have read my new historical novel, Papa's Shoes: A Polish shoemaker and his family settle in small-town America, have asked how much of it is true, I've written the piece below to hopefully provide a coherent answer.  A simple answer is there is a little of both in my novel. However, even though the character's were  inspired by real people and real events, I have audaciously fictionalized their lives. Fact vs Fiction: What in my novel, Papa's Shoes, Is True and What Is Fiction? by Madeline Sharples The characters in Papa's Shoes are fictional though they were inspired by real people in my family. However, the period of time when they lived and locations where they lived are derived from real historical data. So, in my mind, there is a very fine line between fact and fiction―it is definitely not one or the other. With that I think I’ve complied to some rules of historical fiction that I’ve recently read: “Historical fiction is a … [Read more...]

How to build your brand

I recently shared my thoughts about branding building with my publisher, Aberdeen Bay, Author Community in the hope this would be helpful to other authors. Aberdeen Bay published my historical novel, Papa's Shoes, in May 2019. Building A Brand  by Madeline Sharples Before I discuss what I did to create my brand, I need to emphasize why an author – or any business person for that matter – needs a brand. We must market ourselves so that potential readers will know about us and our books. If people don’t know we exist, they won’t know what we have to offer. In addition, a strong brand lets customers know what to expect, represents us, helps us stay focused on what we’re offering, and helps connect us with our customers. As a result of a strong brand, it will provide value to what we are offering. I can’t emphasize this enough. People need to hear about us if we are going to sell our books. And if we’re perceived as experts as a result, we will stand apart even more from our co … [Read more...]

How do you react to interview questions?

I welcome Rina Z. Neiman today, author of Born Under Fire - a historical novel - while she's on her WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tour. As I am the author of a recently published historical novel, Papa's Shoes, I can totally relate to Rina's book about a family's immigration struggles. Rina also struggled to get the information she needed for her book. Here she provides her thoughts about conducting interviews with people who are (and who are not) willing to talk with you. Here's Rina: Interviews are a great way to collect information, and when working on a biography, sometimes the only way to get information. When I started to write my mother’s story, I went to Israel to conduct interviews with my mother’s remaining friends and relatives. My first interview was a disaster. My phone ran out of battery. I couldn’t figure out my recording app. Why didn’t I buy that selfie stick/tripod? I did the interview, but took very poor notes. Yes, this could happen to anyone, … [Read more...]

Should we write fiction about real people?

I'm excited to have Cindy Fazzi here today while she's on her WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tour. She discusses her new book My MacArthur and how to write fiction about a famous person. I love this subject matter so much that she's inspired me to find a famous person to write about too. Perhaps a dead famous person like she did. Here's Cindy! Three Tips on Writing Fiction about a Famous Person By Cindy Fazzi Writing a novel about a real person is difficult—the more famous the person, the greater the challenge. Writing about Douglas MacArthur, an iconic World War II general, was certainly not easy, especially because I focused on a little-known love affair he had with Isabel Rosario Cooper, a Filipino actress. Here are a few things I learned from my experience writing my historical novel, My MacArthur. 1. Choose your subject well; remember that you can’t defame the dead. Under American law, the party who claims that he or she was defamed may file a lawsuit. Obviously, a de … [Read more...]

Remembering Mom and Dad

This Mother's Day weekend I remember both my mother and my dad. My dad was born on May 7, 1903 in Poland (the first location in my historical fiction work). He died at age 72 from cancer of the bile duct system. My mother, born on February 12, 2008 in Lithuania, died at age 94 from old age.  Lucky for me, they met and married in Chicago Illinois, making me and my brother and sister first generation Americans. Here are a few photos of them.     … [Read more...]

The importance of book reviews

I'm a firm believer that book reviews are important to authors and readers alike. Since writing and publishing my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, I'm forever asking my readers to please post a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Here's the link to the post I wrote about reviews last January. Sydney Avey, my guest today, writes why she thinks book reviews are important, and generously gives a few pointers to those of you who have never written a review before. Sydney is the author of the just released literary fiction book, The Lyre and the Lambs. I thank her so much for stopping by Choices on her WOW! Women on Writing book tour. The Importance of Book Reviews By Sydney Avey The Third Tuesday at Three Book Club in Angels Camp, California invited me to attend their September discussion of my debut novel, The Sheep Walker's Daughter. We traded thoughts on the reader and the author experience, and I shared my feeling that a book is a collaborative effort between writer and reader. B … [Read more...]

Gathering inspiration for your novel

I like Cate Russell-Cole's great advice about gathering inspiration for historical fiction. I've been googling all morning to get inspiring images for my historical novel. Her way is much better. Thanks again Cate.   The Power of Day Dreaming in Fiction #Writing by Cate Russell-Cole Set Building I am a fantasy writer, who has hassles with description. Day dreaming and visualising is the only way I can cut through all the one sided fuzz that runs through my head. Otherwise my writing just sounds like a monologue! For me it's a challenge as I am very analytical. I am more interested in the ˜why' and ˜how' of the story, than telling it. I have a few tricks for getting over this: Pinterest, story boarding and set building. The last two set my ideas in concrete; Pinterest shows me things I can mull over, and all these techniques expand and improve my work. I find I rarely click on the links in Pinterest, it is the images or quotes which give me the ideas, so that … [Read more...]

Progress of a novel

I'm going to change course a little bit here and share about the novel I've been working on. Needless to say it's a work in progress, but I'm intent on finishing it next year. The Q&A came from The Next Big Thing, an UK online publicity campaign for authors. However, the group of us here, ready and willing to participate in this blog-o-rama, had to back out because of lack of author interest. At least it got me revved up to work on my novel again, so that's a good thing. What is the working title of your book? Papa's Shoes. But this is really, really a working title. I worry this title will give the impression that this is a children's book. The father in this story is a shoemaker, and in the end he agrees to make his daughter's wedding shoes. Please tell me your thoughts. Where did the idea come from for the book? I got the idea while my husband was working on our family history. My aunt, my father's sister, had written some stories about her early life, and some of … [Read more...]