Friday, March 23, 2012

Here's to Ice Cream, Historical Fiction and Hope

"Hope is the other side of history." --Marcia Cavell

A couple of good things happened this week. The Li'l Goodie Shoppe opened for one. What, you might ask, is the Li'l Goodie Shoppe? Well, it's the local ice cream stand we have nearby. Close enough for us to walk to in fact. Which is either good or bad depending on a person's will power and committment to work off the extra calories that go with it.

The other good thing? My current issue of Children's Writer, April 2012, arrived in the mail. Don't know if you're familiar with this little newsletter (which can also be found online here), but each month it carries a wealth of information on writing tips and markets for children's writers. This month's headline immediately caught my eye: "Remarkable Historical Fiction for the 21st Century," by Patricia Curtis Pfitsch. I was hungry for good news about the historical fiction market for those of us who write in this genre.

Encouragement came, tempered with caution and good advice. While Pfitsch makes the point that historical fiction markets continue to shrink, "historical fiction has a sure footing on many publishers' lists." But, as she quotes Greg Ferguson, Editor at Egmont USA, "The real issue is finding the historical fiction manuscript that is remarkable."

The article goes on to give tips on how to approach historical fiction with an eye toward writing that remarkable book. Included among the tips are: think how the story will be different, be aware of what's already published, find the time period and story that speaks especially to you, and find a balance between story and history.

Pfitsch concludes by saying "Whether you write for older readers or younger ones, the truth is clear. Historical fiction is alive and well. There is still a place for writers who do the work to make their stories stand out."

Good advice for writers of all genres actually. We've got our work cut out for us, yes, but with the hope that something good is up ahead.

Sort of like a trip to the Goodie Shoppe...

Wish you could join me!

What good things opened up for you this week?


  1. The article on historical fiction sounds like a boon for writers of historical fiction.

  2. The Goodie Shoppe sounds wonderful! One of my favorite places here is Squeak, a kids' soda shop, where you can have them create a personalized soda out of tons of flavors.

    I got around the historical issue by writing historical fantasy. I'm not sure if there's a huge market for it, but hopefully I'll find out soon when I start querying.

    The best thing for me this week is having a weekend away to write. I have a gorgeous view from a snug log cabin, and 48 hours of solitude!


  3. Thanks, Rachna, for stopping by. The article was certainly encouraging. Now as for writing that *remarkable* book...let's hope!

    Debbie--Squeak sounds like a tempting place, too :-) And your historical fantasy sounds promising--hope you get bunches of positive responses to your queries. Good luck!

    And a weekend away, a log cabin, 48 hours of solitude??? Sounds like a writer's heaven. Enjoy!

  4. Me being a librarian, I recently ordered a reference book for the library that I liked so much, I bought a copy for myself. It's called Historical Fiction for Teens: A Genre Guide.

    There are comparative works for younger children, however their pub date is older. They include: Literature Connections to World History K-6 and Literature Connections to American History K-6.

    Why read these books? It helps a writer to see what's been done and to help to find your special, relevant niche.

    I can also vouch that as a librarian, I am still ordering historical fiction for children. (It's still being published!)

    Print runs are small, in the neighborhood of 2000 for Calkins Creek. But there will always be a school and library market for historical fiction, even if it's not stocked in bookstores.

  5. Thank you, Cathy! More encouragement that there is in fact still a place for historical fiction in the children's world of books. I really appreciate your stopping by and sharing this info'-- especially coming from your vantage point as a librarian, and having a handle on the markets.

    And I plan to check out the genre guide--sounds like a good source for finding titles in the genre I've missed :-) Thanks again...

  6. I love ice cream but it doesn't always love me back. If I had one close to my house, I'd be 900 pounds!

    I think genre writers really have their work cut out for them but we can't stop writing or trying!!! The market is fluid and has its ups and downs. What might not sell now could sell like crazy in a year. You never know.