My husband and I co-write the Skylar Drake Murder Mysteries, a hard-boiled detective series. Since the stories take place in 1955 we have researched a great deal of that era.
In the second book of the series, Strange Markings, Skylar is hired to investigate the missing nephew of a Los Angeles matron. Clues takes him to pre-statehood Hawaii (1955). As a result, we looked into commercial airlines of the ’50s.
We learned that the Pan American Airlines made frequent flights to Hawaii using 377 Stratocruisers. We also found something called Sleeper-ettes, and early first class attempt to provide comfortable sleeping arrangements for their passengers. Lobster counted as first class airline food. I found an old ad from TWA mentioning a, “full meal to be served in-flight”. That would have included: soup, salad, meat, vegetables, and dessert. And drinks was served in glassware!
Our fourth book in the series, Spike Hill, will be released February 2018, and yes… we are still married.
Janet Elizabeth Lynn and Will Zeilinger
Published authors Will Zeilinger and Janet Lynn had been writing individually until they got together and wrote the Skylar Drake Mystery Series. These hard-boiled tales are based in old Hollywood of 1955. Janet has published seven mystery novels and Will has published three plus a couple of short stories. Their world travels have sparked several ideas for murder and crime stories. This creative couple is married and live in Southern California.
My husband, Will Zeilinger, also a published author, and I decided to come together and write a 1950’s hard-boiled mystery, the Skylar Drake Murder Mystery series.
Having a research buddy makes all the difference in the world when deadlines loom for a manuscript. Alone, research can be a bear. But with two it goes faster and more comprehensive. This can include traveling, libraries and investigating 1950s style restaurants (and food). Splitting the work up and deciding what fits in the story works better with two brains and four eyes.
The results? SLIVERS OF GLASS, STRANGE MARKINGS, DESERT ICE and SPIKE HILL (to be released 2/2018)…and yes, we’re still married.
Janet Elizabeth Lynn
About the Class:
Most folks today have limited experience as mounted riders, even less for side saddle, or driving a carriage, or training a horse for the movements once used by knights. This workshop provides some basic horse sense through the ages so your horses act more like characters who enrich your story and less like cars or other inanimate transportation objects.
We will cover:
About the Instructor:
Shannon Donnelly’s writing has won numerous awards, including a RITA nomination for Best Regency, the Grand Prize in the “Minute Maid Sensational Romance Writer” contest, judged by Nora Roberts, RWA’s Golden Heart, and others. Her writing has repeatedly earned 4½ Star Top Pick reviews from Romantic Times magazine, as well as praise from Booklist and other reviewers, who note: “simply superb”…”wonderfully uplifting”….and “beautifully written.”
Her Regency romances can be found as ebooks on all formats, and with Cool Gus Publishing, and include a series of four novellas.
She also has out the Mackenzie Solomon, Demon/Warders Urban Fantasy series, Burn Baby Burn and Riding in on a Burning Tire, and the Urban Fantasy, Edge Walkers. Her work has been on the top seller list of Amazon.com and includes Paths of Desire, a Historical Regency romance.
She is the author of several young adult horror stories, and computer games. She lives in New Mexico with two horses, two donkeys, two dogs, and only one love of her life. Shannon can be found online at sd-writer.com, facebook.com/sdwriter, and twitter/sdwriter.
This is a 4-week online course that uses email and Yahoo Groups. If you do not have a Yahoo ID you will be prompted to create one when you join the class, but the process is not difficult. The class is open to anyone wishing to participate. The cost is $30.00 per person or, if you are a member of OCCRWA, $20.00 per person.
Recently I listened to a perfectly delightful Regency romance on audio, but some obvious errors nagged at me and got me to pondering which is worse, too much research or too little?
Those of us who write books that require extensive research are always advised to not let the research show. Weave it as seamlessly as possible into the narrative. That makes perfect sense, though it isn’t easy to do. But what about too little research? That’s when errors become glaring enough that some readers, esp. the ones who also write, are pulled out of the story, saying “Wait a minute, that’s not right.”
Sometimes it’s a matter of historical characters acting or speaking in modern fashion. This can be one of the most glaring problems. Then there is the matter of social mores of the time, which vary from one period to the next.
One of the biggest traps novelists can fall into is writing historical characters with 21st century mores. And nothing can make the reader want to throw a book across the room quicker. This especially applies to women. The double standard still exists, but it was much greater in previous centuries. A young woman’s reputation was golden.
War and social unrest have always upset the normal patterns of life, and social mores tend to fall by the wayside during such periods. Still, a historical female character who shows no regard for her reputation isn’t believable unless she’s already a fallen woman and has no reputation to lose.
Personally, I don’t necessarily mind a heroine who flaunts society’s rules; I just need to believe that she knows what she is doing and is well motivated in her choices. The woman who doesn’t understand the consequences of her actions strains credibility. Women had a lot more to lose in the not-so-good old days.
In the book in question, the problem seemed to be more one of the author not understanding how the social season worked. Societal rules were much more stringent, esp. among the upper classes. It was one way the maintained their air of privilege. It all seems ridiculous to us now, but the aristocracy took these things very seriously.
In general, a young lady could not be out in society unless she had been presented at court and made her bow to the Queen. In my Regency romance, Lady Elinor’s Escape, Lady Elinor is hiding out in a dress shop, pretending to be a seamstress, which means she could not also be out in society. But we writers find ways around details like that. The one ball scene in the book is a masquerade ball she attends only because the shop owner retrieved a discarded invitation from the trash. As long as Elinor leaves before the unmasking at midnight, she feels the risk is worth it.
In writing, like Regency society, it’s best to know the rules before you (or your characters) break them.
So too much research or too little? I’m enough of a history freak to prefer too much research showing to wondering if the author did any at all. What do you think?
aka Lyndi Lamont