Weekend Reads: “Eiffel’s Tower”

If you’ve checked out my books, you can’t help noticing that I’m an ardent Francophile. For this, I thank the late Lois Sato, my high school French teacher. Mademoiselle Sato taught us not only about the language, but about the culture.

Needless to say, this book was right up my alley.

Eiffel's Tower for Young PeopleEiffel’s Tower for Young People by Jill Jonnes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This little book is more than a biography of Gustav Eiffel. We learn about the Universal Exposition of 1889 as well, including its art controversies surrounding Whistler, Gauguin, and other notable painters of the time. We also get a look inside Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, including Annie Oakley’s numerous contributions, and at Thomas Edison’s then-new phonograph concept.

In short, this book gives younger readers an opportunity to learn about a broad segment of Parisian entertainment alongside the building of the Eiffel Tower, now considered an architectural treasure but at the time widely panned as an unattractive eyesore in the making.

The book was well-researched and filled with information of which even I was unaware after researching the Exposition a decade ago. I would recommend this for readers who are interested in a good, quick secondary source piece of research on the event.

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Music Monday: “To Love Somebody”

Hi, everyone. It’s been a tough few days at our place. I’ve averaged about four hours of sleep a night for the past five days. We had two more cats at the veterinarian on an urgent basis, so I’ve spent $1K on vet bills in the same period (most of it for lab work). The good news is that the other two cats are okay except for some tummy trouble, which may be due to stress in the wake of us losing Paddy.

I am sure you also noticed that I primarily reblogged stories over the weekend. Honestly, I didn’t have the mental energy to do much else. I’m trying to be gentle with myself during a difficult time (and I’m not always very good at that).

So, this week’s song. As has happened so many times in the last little bit, I have found serendipitous recommendations on YouTube. Today, it was finding an “unplugged and seated” video of The BeeGees doing “To Love Somebody.” It just felt right to share the beautiful harmonies and message. Because all of that lost sleep I wrote about earlier? Was in the cause of love.

Writing Historical Fiction: The Forgotten Golden Egg of Writing | FreelanceWriting

Writing is hard work; it’s not for the faint of heart. Writing historical fiction is even harder, as it is more than just crafting an intriguing plotline. There’s the laborious task of researching the history that drives the story. Any authentic historical reference that I used in the book, I researched at least three times. If I could not validate something I had written in the book with three different sources, I would continue looking until I could, or I found alternatives to what I had written. This is hard; after all, I was trying to get this book published.

via Writing Historical Fiction: The Forgotten Golden Egg of Writing | FreelanceWriting

The Impossible Task of Writing Historical Fiction

The study of history is tricky, not least for that fact that its two primary difficulties are antithetical: both too much and too little information. Starting with the latter, there is plenty we simply do not know. When I’m not writing, I work in a museum archive handling research requests and I can tell you that half the time what people are looking for simply does not exist, though they spend years searching. Records burn, get tossed or, more often, were not kept in the first place. Journals kept in the past were, of course, written by literate people with the leisure for self-contemplation. In the 1850s, in the early days of photography, guess what the rich people who could afford it weren’t taking pictures of: busy streets, servants, factories, markets, fairs, jails, hospitals, churches, farms and businesses. Can you guess what they were taking pictures of? Themselves. With that, our idea of the past tends to be generalized and sanitized into the lofty and romantic doings of the upper-classes: all balls, inheritances, and female propriety befitting a BBC drama. And even the working class people we do get in these shows still inhabit that world, just on the outskirts. Who wants to watch a show featuring an illiterate, drunk syphilitic who works fifteen hours a day in a rope factory?

The second problem occurs the other half of the time: too much information. If what you’re looking for isn’t very specific, you will quickly become buried in a mind-numbing amount of information. But to get the specifics, you need to engage the beast, but you can’t, because you don’t have specifics.

via The Impossible Task of Writing Historical Fiction

Accuracy Vs Authenticity: 5 Tips For Writing Immersive Historical Fiction | The Creative Penn

The trick is to understand the distinction between authenticity and accuracy. Yes – historical fiction readers want to be immersed into an authentic world. In other words, a world that feels accurate.

Very often, this means creating a historically accurate depiction. But, when accuracy becomes alienating or confusing – or when it counterintuitively detracts from the feeling of authenticity – you’ll have no choice but to fictionalise the past.

via Accuracy Vs Authenticity: 5 Tips For Writing Immersive Historical Fiction | The Creative Penn