Does accuracy matter?

Davyinflowers_2
Hi, Jo here, with a very accurate Cabbage Patch and memories of summer. Where did summer go?!?

 

Many thanks to Mary Jo for stepping in to do the Halloween blog when I was mired too deep in my deadline.

Today I have some musings about accuracy.

I think accuracy is a theme around here. We wenches tend sweat a lot about it behind the scenes and sometimes in the blog. But I think we all know (feel free to argue, Wenches) that accuracy and a great read aren’t always the same thing. We all have things we know a lot about, whether it be Regency England, telescopes, quilting, firing guns, gerbils, or a million other things, and if we read a novel where the author gets it wrong, it’s like a fork squealing across the plate. Puts us right off.

I can read over the occasional mistake, but if the error is fundamental to the story and/or is often present, then no, I just can’t read the book, and sometimes it’s very sad because it could have been such a good read. The style, the voice, the characters, the plot situations — something is sucking me in, but that damned fork keeps squealing across the plate.

Two things have me thinking about this at the moment.

Llfront

I’m going over the page proofs for next year’s Lovers and Ladies, which has two of my old trad regencies in one trade paperback volume. (The Fortune Hunter and Deirdre and Don Juan.) There’s more here.

This edition is typeset from the old books, so I haven’t seen an edited manuscript this time around, but I’m reading the proofs, revisiting those stories for the first time in about 16 years. Blink.

And there are things wrong. Amy, the heroine of The Fortune Hunter, does not appear to be wearing a corset. This is pretty clear as she strips to the buff in the hero’s kitchen after being caught in a downpour and falling in some farmyard muck. These days, that’d shoot them right to bed, wouldn’t it, but in this case Harry is a perfect gentleman, and Amy arranges a sort of gown out of a blanket and towel. And you know, not only is it probably accurate for the time, but I like it. A lot of the tumbling into sex at the first opportunity seems plain tacky to me. But that’s not the point.

So, no corset. Then, when it’s clear she can’t get home that night, he escorts her to the propriety of a nearby farm — where the family is about to sit down to their main meal in the evening. No. Country style was still to have the main meal — dinner — in the middle of the day often even for the upper classes. In Town they’d dine later by this time because it fit better with the social whirl.

So two already, but it didn’t seem to matter back then and I’m not sure it does today.

My first question is, assuming you the reader detect inaccuracies, when do they bother you and when don’t they, and what makes the difference? After all, Shakespeare wasn’t working overtime to get all the ancient history right as best I know.

My second is, why is it that sometimes we as readers get all twitchy about accuracy of fashion, dates, geography, etiquette and such while not seeming to care about accuracy of moral behaviour? Why is accuracy in one area important to us and not in others. It can apply in contemporaries, too. The characters can be and do the most unlikely things and we readers go along for the ride, but send that rid down the wrong street, or describe a building that was knocked down ten years ago and some will be up in arms. Do you have a take on that?

The next spark for this blog was when someone posted a link to Mark Twain’s wonderful explosion of James Fennimore Cooper’s writing.
http://www.pbs.org/marktwain/learnmore/writings_fenimore.html

I don’t remember ever being a fan of Cooper’s books, but my father thought they were ripping good yarns. When I posted the link elsewhere, quite a few people remembered how much they’d enjoyed the books. Yet, reading Twain, it’s clear they are ridiculous. I’ll copy one bit here because it had me laughing out loud. Of course this is Mark Twain. It’s a scene in which some Indians try to steal from the people on a barge. (I’ve cut some. You can read the full tirade by following the link.)

"Cooper made the exit of that stream fifty feet wide, in the first place, for no particular reason; in the second place, he narrowed it to less than twenty to accommodate some Indians. He bends a “sapling” to the form of an arch over this narrow passage, and conceals six Indians in its foliage. They are “laying” for a settler’s scow or ark which is coming up the stream on its way to the lake; it is being hauled against the stiff current by a rope whose stationary end is anchored in the lake; its rate of progress cannot be more than a mile an hour. Cooper describes the ark, but pretty obscurely. In the matter of dimensions “it was little more than a modern canal-boat.” Let us guess, then, that it was about one hundred and forty feet long. It was of “greater breadth than common.” Let us guess, then, that it was about sixteen feet wide. …

The ark is arriving at the stream’s exit now, whose width has been reduced to less than twenty feet to accommodate the Indians–say to eighteen. There is a foot to spare on each side of the boat. Did the Indians notice that there was going to be a tight squeeze there? Did they notice that they could make money by climbing down out of that arched sapling and just stepping aboard when the ark scraped by? No, other Indians would have noticed these things, but Cooper’s Indians never notice anything. Cooper thinks they are marvelous creatures for noticing, but he was almost always in error about his Indians. There was seldom a sane one among them.

…The idea of the Indians is to drop softly and secretly from the arched sapling to the dwelling as the ark creeps along under it at the rate of a mile an hour, and butcher the family. It will take …the ninety foot dwelling a minute to pass under. Now, then, what did the six Indians do? It would take you thirty years to guess, and even then you would have to give it up, I believe. Therefore, I will tell you what the Indians did.

Their chief, a person of quite extraordinary intellect for a Cooper Indian, warily watched the canal-boat as it squeezed along under him, and when he had got his calculations fined down to exactly the right shade, as he judged, he let go and dropped. And missed the house! That is actually what he did. He missed the house, and landed in the stern of the scow. It was not much of a fall, yet it knocked him silly. He lay there unconscious. If the house had been ninety-seven feet long he would have made the trip. The fault was Cooper’s, not his. …

There still remained in the roost five Indians.

The boat has passed under and is now out of their reach. Let me explain what the five did–you would not be able to reason it out for yourself. No. 1 jumped for the boat, but fell in the water astern of it. Then No. 2 jumped for the boat, but fell in the water still farther astern of it. Then No. 3 jumped for the boat, and fell a good way astern of it. Then No. 4 jumped for the boat, and fell in the water away astern. Then even No. 5 made a jump for the boat–for he was a Cooper Indian. In the matter of intellect, the difference between a Cooper Indian and the Indian that stands in front of the cigarshop is not spacious."

I have to confess that I’ve occasionally indulged in a bit of similar deconstruction of modern novels, and even more so of movies! — but only when the implausibilities, impossibilities and idiocies annoy me. I know I’m able to ignore such things if the story’s good enough. And that is the mysterious quality we often can’t even define.

Thus, as writers, we sometimes have to fudge, deceive, and even lie in the service of the story.

Alsromsells
I’ve just sent in the final manuscript for A Lady’s Secret. (The rake on the make and the nun on the run.) I’m sure there are errors in there. Despite my best efforts I never believe I’ve got everything right. I know there’s some fudging. My research made it clear that by law Robin must have had three horses pulling his post chaise through northern France. As best I could tell there would still be only one postilion because my source specified that if there had to be four horses he would need two postilions. I couldn’t figure out quite how the three horse system would work. I couldn’t envision it. It didn’t matter because I never describe it, but it bugged me, so mentally I made it two horses and only ever talked about "horses" and that’s a fudge.

But there is one section that could be dissected as Twain dissects Cooper, if someone both cared and had a fine enough microscope. I took care to write it as precisely and accurately as I could — but after tussling with it far too long accepted that it didn’t work for the story. So I made it work for the story. I’m sure it was the right thing to do.

So there we are. Accuracy, from the reader’s angle and the writer’s angle. Do you have any comments?

Let’s not pick apart any living writers, but if you have examples of wild absurdities and inaccuracies from older books that bug you, please share them. Jane Austen poked fun at the implausibiity of Mary Brunton’s Self Control.

Wf499
And BTW, if you haven’t yet read Winter Fire (Christmas at Rothgar Abbey) it’s out again — third reissue, I think — at $4.99. You can
read an excerpt here.

Jo

180 thoughts on “Does accuracy matter?”

  1. I have to admit to being such an ignoramus that I seldom notice historical accuracy unless it is within my own realm of experience. So I’m the very devil at picking up American turns of phrase when they should be English, but corsetry can go hang itself for all I notice. I’m much more concerned with the quality of the writing and story. And after all most historical romances are not very realistic in lots of ways when you know what life was actually like way back when.
    After reading a lot of good romance novels you do start to notice things…its very educational. Sadly not enough for me to remember the order of all the monarchs of England. I’ve been trying 20 years and its never stuck!

    Reply
  2. I have to admit to being such an ignoramus that I seldom notice historical accuracy unless it is within my own realm of experience. So I’m the very devil at picking up American turns of phrase when they should be English, but corsetry can go hang itself for all I notice. I’m much more concerned with the quality of the writing and story. And after all most historical romances are not very realistic in lots of ways when you know what life was actually like way back when.
    After reading a lot of good romance novels you do start to notice things…its very educational. Sadly not enough for me to remember the order of all the monarchs of England. I’ve been trying 20 years and its never stuck!

    Reply
  3. I have to admit to being such an ignoramus that I seldom notice historical accuracy unless it is within my own realm of experience. So I’m the very devil at picking up American turns of phrase when they should be English, but corsetry can go hang itself for all I notice. I’m much more concerned with the quality of the writing and story. And after all most historical romances are not very realistic in lots of ways when you know what life was actually like way back when.
    After reading a lot of good romance novels you do start to notice things…its very educational. Sadly not enough for me to remember the order of all the monarchs of England. I’ve been trying 20 years and its never stuck!

    Reply
  4. I have to admit to being such an ignoramus that I seldom notice historical accuracy unless it is within my own realm of experience. So I’m the very devil at picking up American turns of phrase when they should be English, but corsetry can go hang itself for all I notice. I’m much more concerned with the quality of the writing and story. And after all most historical romances are not very realistic in lots of ways when you know what life was actually like way back when.
    After reading a lot of good romance novels you do start to notice things…its very educational. Sadly not enough for me to remember the order of all the monarchs of England. I’ve been trying 20 years and its never stuck!

    Reply
  5. I have to admit to being such an ignoramus that I seldom notice historical accuracy unless it is within my own realm of experience. So I’m the very devil at picking up American turns of phrase when they should be English, but corsetry can go hang itself for all I notice. I’m much more concerned with the quality of the writing and story. And after all most historical romances are not very realistic in lots of ways when you know what life was actually like way back when.
    After reading a lot of good romance novels you do start to notice things…its very educational. Sadly not enough for me to remember the order of all the monarchs of England. I’ve been trying 20 years and its never stuck!

    Reply
  6. Recently, I’ve noticed a fault of mine and not the writer. There are times, particularly with action scenes (swordfights, hostage situations, sex!) that I just don’t know who is where. And I don’t care. So I guess I’m just a dialogue slut.
    But that doesn’t answer your question. Historical inaccuracies or liberties do not bother me as badly as awkward prose and a poorly-edited book. Fiction is fiction, but English grammar is forever.

    Reply
  7. Recently, I’ve noticed a fault of mine and not the writer. There are times, particularly with action scenes (swordfights, hostage situations, sex!) that I just don’t know who is where. And I don’t care. So I guess I’m just a dialogue slut.
    But that doesn’t answer your question. Historical inaccuracies or liberties do not bother me as badly as awkward prose and a poorly-edited book. Fiction is fiction, but English grammar is forever.

    Reply
  8. Recently, I’ve noticed a fault of mine and not the writer. There are times, particularly with action scenes (swordfights, hostage situations, sex!) that I just don’t know who is where. And I don’t care. So I guess I’m just a dialogue slut.
    But that doesn’t answer your question. Historical inaccuracies or liberties do not bother me as badly as awkward prose and a poorly-edited book. Fiction is fiction, but English grammar is forever.

    Reply
  9. Recently, I’ve noticed a fault of mine and not the writer. There are times, particularly with action scenes (swordfights, hostage situations, sex!) that I just don’t know who is where. And I don’t care. So I guess I’m just a dialogue slut.
    But that doesn’t answer your question. Historical inaccuracies or liberties do not bother me as badly as awkward prose and a poorly-edited book. Fiction is fiction, but English grammar is forever.

    Reply
  10. Recently, I’ve noticed a fault of mine and not the writer. There are times, particularly with action scenes (swordfights, hostage situations, sex!) that I just don’t know who is where. And I don’t care. So I guess I’m just a dialogue slut.
    But that doesn’t answer your question. Historical inaccuracies or liberties do not bother me as badly as awkward prose and a poorly-edited book. Fiction is fiction, but English grammar is forever.

    Reply
  11. I’ve never been a stickler for historical accuracies or inaccuracies. I have no idea how long it takes to get from London to Wales and how many times you have to change horses or how far apart those inns are where, inevitably, someone winds up in some sort of compromising position. THAT’S when my interest is piqued and then I’m along for the ride.

    Reply
  12. I’ve never been a stickler for historical accuracies or inaccuracies. I have no idea how long it takes to get from London to Wales and how many times you have to change horses or how far apart those inns are where, inevitably, someone winds up in some sort of compromising position. THAT’S when my interest is piqued and then I’m along for the ride.

    Reply
  13. I’ve never been a stickler for historical accuracies or inaccuracies. I have no idea how long it takes to get from London to Wales and how many times you have to change horses or how far apart those inns are where, inevitably, someone winds up in some sort of compromising position. THAT’S when my interest is piqued and then I’m along for the ride.

    Reply
  14. I’ve never been a stickler for historical accuracies or inaccuracies. I have no idea how long it takes to get from London to Wales and how many times you have to change horses or how far apart those inns are where, inevitably, someone winds up in some sort of compromising position. THAT’S when my interest is piqued and then I’m along for the ride.

    Reply
  15. I’ve never been a stickler for historical accuracies or inaccuracies. I have no idea how long it takes to get from London to Wales and how many times you have to change horses or how far apart those inns are where, inevitably, someone winds up in some sort of compromising position. THAT’S when my interest is piqued and then I’m along for the ride.

    Reply
  16. For me, the historical inaccuracies only mess up the story if they’re glaringly wrong, or form a major plot point. Little things don’t bug me too much, as long as there’s not too many.
    As for moral inaccuracies, however… they DO bug me! I really have a rough time with all of the modern liberated women running around times past in “historical” books. I’m not a historical expert, but I’m sure that even the most liberated of seventeenth and eighteenth century women were not quite like most of them are written… they ruin so many stories for me.
    There’s another thing that bugs me. My perception (which might be inaccurate, I realize) is that a man’s word and his honor held a greater value then, than it does today. It’s written that way in many books, at least. Consequently, it’s like a hundred forks on plates when an author write a hero who makes promises to “remain a gentleman” and not take advantage of a woman… and then does. For me, there is no surer way to make me drop an otherwise-good-book and never pick it up again. I encounter this FAR more often than I’d like, and I have absolutely NO patience with it. It’s bad enough in a modern book, but it’s worse in a century where a man’s word supposedly meant more than it does today. For a man to be a true hero, he’s got to gain the woman’s trust… and I, for one, can’t understand why so many heroines can trust a man who does one thing and says another! He obviously is lacking either the strength to stick to his word, or the brains to not make promises he can’t keep. If the man is supposed to be the hero, then he darn well better be able to hold to his word! If the author wants to let the passion run away for them, fine… but don’t let the hero make promises first, then!

    Reply
  17. For me, the historical inaccuracies only mess up the story if they’re glaringly wrong, or form a major plot point. Little things don’t bug me too much, as long as there’s not too many.
    As for moral inaccuracies, however… they DO bug me! I really have a rough time with all of the modern liberated women running around times past in “historical” books. I’m not a historical expert, but I’m sure that even the most liberated of seventeenth and eighteenth century women were not quite like most of them are written… they ruin so many stories for me.
    There’s another thing that bugs me. My perception (which might be inaccurate, I realize) is that a man’s word and his honor held a greater value then, than it does today. It’s written that way in many books, at least. Consequently, it’s like a hundred forks on plates when an author write a hero who makes promises to “remain a gentleman” and not take advantage of a woman… and then does. For me, there is no surer way to make me drop an otherwise-good-book and never pick it up again. I encounter this FAR more often than I’d like, and I have absolutely NO patience with it. It’s bad enough in a modern book, but it’s worse in a century where a man’s word supposedly meant more than it does today. For a man to be a true hero, he’s got to gain the woman’s trust… and I, for one, can’t understand why so many heroines can trust a man who does one thing and says another! He obviously is lacking either the strength to stick to his word, or the brains to not make promises he can’t keep. If the man is supposed to be the hero, then he darn well better be able to hold to his word! If the author wants to let the passion run away for them, fine… but don’t let the hero make promises first, then!

    Reply
  18. For me, the historical inaccuracies only mess up the story if they’re glaringly wrong, or form a major plot point. Little things don’t bug me too much, as long as there’s not too many.
    As for moral inaccuracies, however… they DO bug me! I really have a rough time with all of the modern liberated women running around times past in “historical” books. I’m not a historical expert, but I’m sure that even the most liberated of seventeenth and eighteenth century women were not quite like most of them are written… they ruin so many stories for me.
    There’s another thing that bugs me. My perception (which might be inaccurate, I realize) is that a man’s word and his honor held a greater value then, than it does today. It’s written that way in many books, at least. Consequently, it’s like a hundred forks on plates when an author write a hero who makes promises to “remain a gentleman” and not take advantage of a woman… and then does. For me, there is no surer way to make me drop an otherwise-good-book and never pick it up again. I encounter this FAR more often than I’d like, and I have absolutely NO patience with it. It’s bad enough in a modern book, but it’s worse in a century where a man’s word supposedly meant more than it does today. For a man to be a true hero, he’s got to gain the woman’s trust… and I, for one, can’t understand why so many heroines can trust a man who does one thing and says another! He obviously is lacking either the strength to stick to his word, or the brains to not make promises he can’t keep. If the man is supposed to be the hero, then he darn well better be able to hold to his word! If the author wants to let the passion run away for them, fine… but don’t let the hero make promises first, then!

    Reply
  19. For me, the historical inaccuracies only mess up the story if they’re glaringly wrong, or form a major plot point. Little things don’t bug me too much, as long as there’s not too many.
    As for moral inaccuracies, however… they DO bug me! I really have a rough time with all of the modern liberated women running around times past in “historical” books. I’m not a historical expert, but I’m sure that even the most liberated of seventeenth and eighteenth century women were not quite like most of them are written… they ruin so many stories for me.
    There’s another thing that bugs me. My perception (which might be inaccurate, I realize) is that a man’s word and his honor held a greater value then, than it does today. It’s written that way in many books, at least. Consequently, it’s like a hundred forks on plates when an author write a hero who makes promises to “remain a gentleman” and not take advantage of a woman… and then does. For me, there is no surer way to make me drop an otherwise-good-book and never pick it up again. I encounter this FAR more often than I’d like, and I have absolutely NO patience with it. It’s bad enough in a modern book, but it’s worse in a century where a man’s word supposedly meant more than it does today. For a man to be a true hero, he’s got to gain the woman’s trust… and I, for one, can’t understand why so many heroines can trust a man who does one thing and says another! He obviously is lacking either the strength to stick to his word, or the brains to not make promises he can’t keep. If the man is supposed to be the hero, then he darn well better be able to hold to his word! If the author wants to let the passion run away for them, fine… but don’t let the hero make promises first, then!

    Reply
  20. For me, the historical inaccuracies only mess up the story if they’re glaringly wrong, or form a major plot point. Little things don’t bug me too much, as long as there’s not too many.
    As for moral inaccuracies, however… they DO bug me! I really have a rough time with all of the modern liberated women running around times past in “historical” books. I’m not a historical expert, but I’m sure that even the most liberated of seventeenth and eighteenth century women were not quite like most of them are written… they ruin so many stories for me.
    There’s another thing that bugs me. My perception (which might be inaccurate, I realize) is that a man’s word and his honor held a greater value then, than it does today. It’s written that way in many books, at least. Consequently, it’s like a hundred forks on plates when an author write a hero who makes promises to “remain a gentleman” and not take advantage of a woman… and then does. For me, there is no surer way to make me drop an otherwise-good-book and never pick it up again. I encounter this FAR more often than I’d like, and I have absolutely NO patience with it. It’s bad enough in a modern book, but it’s worse in a century where a man’s word supposedly meant more than it does today. For a man to be a true hero, he’s got to gain the woman’s trust… and I, for one, can’t understand why so many heroines can trust a man who does one thing and says another! He obviously is lacking either the strength to stick to his word, or the brains to not make promises he can’t keep. If the man is supposed to be the hero, then he darn well better be able to hold to his word! If the author wants to let the passion run away for them, fine… but don’t let the hero make promises first, then!

    Reply
  21. I usually begin a story with a lot of goodwill towards the author, meaning a fair degree of willingness to suspend disbelief so long as the story draws me in. If I stop liking the story, or if things begin ‘niggling’ at me to lift me out, my goodwill starts dwindling and I’ll be much more critical of any further little irritations I come across.

    Reply
  22. I usually begin a story with a lot of goodwill towards the author, meaning a fair degree of willingness to suspend disbelief so long as the story draws me in. If I stop liking the story, or if things begin ‘niggling’ at me to lift me out, my goodwill starts dwindling and I’ll be much more critical of any further little irritations I come across.

    Reply
  23. I usually begin a story with a lot of goodwill towards the author, meaning a fair degree of willingness to suspend disbelief so long as the story draws me in. If I stop liking the story, or if things begin ‘niggling’ at me to lift me out, my goodwill starts dwindling and I’ll be much more critical of any further little irritations I come across.

    Reply
  24. I usually begin a story with a lot of goodwill towards the author, meaning a fair degree of willingness to suspend disbelief so long as the story draws me in. If I stop liking the story, or if things begin ‘niggling’ at me to lift me out, my goodwill starts dwindling and I’ll be much more critical of any further little irritations I come across.

    Reply
  25. I usually begin a story with a lot of goodwill towards the author, meaning a fair degree of willingness to suspend disbelief so long as the story draws me in. If I stop liking the story, or if things begin ‘niggling’ at me to lift me out, my goodwill starts dwindling and I’ll be much more critical of any further little irritations I come across.

    Reply
  26. I’m with Maggie. I remain blissfully unaware of most of the inaccuracies that generate howls of protest by the purists on some boards, but cumbersome prose sets me to composing (in my head) nasty notes to the author. Another screeching fork for me is inconsistency in character. A character who behaves in a manner that contradicts everything the reader knows about the character turns the book into a wallbanger for me and puts the author on my TBA (To Be Avoided) list.

    Reply
  27. I’m with Maggie. I remain blissfully unaware of most of the inaccuracies that generate howls of protest by the purists on some boards, but cumbersome prose sets me to composing (in my head) nasty notes to the author. Another screeching fork for me is inconsistency in character. A character who behaves in a manner that contradicts everything the reader knows about the character turns the book into a wallbanger for me and puts the author on my TBA (To Be Avoided) list.

    Reply
  28. I’m with Maggie. I remain blissfully unaware of most of the inaccuracies that generate howls of protest by the purists on some boards, but cumbersome prose sets me to composing (in my head) nasty notes to the author. Another screeching fork for me is inconsistency in character. A character who behaves in a manner that contradicts everything the reader knows about the character turns the book into a wallbanger for me and puts the author on my TBA (To Be Avoided) list.

    Reply
  29. I’m with Maggie. I remain blissfully unaware of most of the inaccuracies that generate howls of protest by the purists on some boards, but cumbersome prose sets me to composing (in my head) nasty notes to the author. Another screeching fork for me is inconsistency in character. A character who behaves in a manner that contradicts everything the reader knows about the character turns the book into a wallbanger for me and puts the author on my TBA (To Be Avoided) list.

    Reply
  30. I’m with Maggie. I remain blissfully unaware of most of the inaccuracies that generate howls of protest by the purists on some boards, but cumbersome prose sets me to composing (in my head) nasty notes to the author. Another screeching fork for me is inconsistency in character. A character who behaves in a manner that contradicts everything the reader knows about the character turns the book into a wallbanger for me and puts the author on my TBA (To Be Avoided) list.

    Reply
  31. Jo, I know you said “no living writers” but this one is ok, I think, because the author herself has pointed it out!
    One of my favorite books, Carla Kelly’s “Libby’s London Merchant,” (the one with the adorable chubby bespectacled doctor who turns into the hero) has a box of chocolates as an important plot element.
    My most recent edition of this book features a foreword by the author admitting that when she originally wrote it, she didn’t know that a box of chocolates is not accurate for the period.
    Fixing up that darn box of chocolates would undo the whole book–and it’s a beautiful book!–so she decided to let it be republished as is, and I am very grateful.

    Reply
  32. Jo, I know you said “no living writers” but this one is ok, I think, because the author herself has pointed it out!
    One of my favorite books, Carla Kelly’s “Libby’s London Merchant,” (the one with the adorable chubby bespectacled doctor who turns into the hero) has a box of chocolates as an important plot element.
    My most recent edition of this book features a foreword by the author admitting that when she originally wrote it, she didn’t know that a box of chocolates is not accurate for the period.
    Fixing up that darn box of chocolates would undo the whole book–and it’s a beautiful book!–so she decided to let it be republished as is, and I am very grateful.

    Reply
  33. Jo, I know you said “no living writers” but this one is ok, I think, because the author herself has pointed it out!
    One of my favorite books, Carla Kelly’s “Libby’s London Merchant,” (the one with the adorable chubby bespectacled doctor who turns into the hero) has a box of chocolates as an important plot element.
    My most recent edition of this book features a foreword by the author admitting that when she originally wrote it, she didn’t know that a box of chocolates is not accurate for the period.
    Fixing up that darn box of chocolates would undo the whole book–and it’s a beautiful book!–so she decided to let it be republished as is, and I am very grateful.

    Reply
  34. Jo, I know you said “no living writers” but this one is ok, I think, because the author herself has pointed it out!
    One of my favorite books, Carla Kelly’s “Libby’s London Merchant,” (the one with the adorable chubby bespectacled doctor who turns into the hero) has a box of chocolates as an important plot element.
    My most recent edition of this book features a foreword by the author admitting that when she originally wrote it, she didn’t know that a box of chocolates is not accurate for the period.
    Fixing up that darn box of chocolates would undo the whole book–and it’s a beautiful book!–so she decided to let it be republished as is, and I am very grateful.

    Reply
  35. Jo, I know you said “no living writers” but this one is ok, I think, because the author herself has pointed it out!
    One of my favorite books, Carla Kelly’s “Libby’s London Merchant,” (the one with the adorable chubby bespectacled doctor who turns into the hero) has a box of chocolates as an important plot element.
    My most recent edition of this book features a foreword by the author admitting that when she originally wrote it, she didn’t know that a box of chocolates is not accurate for the period.
    Fixing up that darn box of chocolates would undo the whole book–and it’s a beautiful book!–so she decided to let it be republished as is, and I am very grateful.

    Reply
  36. I meant to add that while I find Mark Twain on Cooper amusing since I agree with him, I find him less reliable when he curls his lip at Austen: “Whenever I take up ‘Pride and Prejudice’ or ‘Sense and Sensibility,’ I feel like a barkeeper entering the Kingdom of Heaven. I mean, I feel as he would probably feel, would almost certainly feel. I am quite sure I know what his sensations would be — and his private comments. He would be certain to curl his lip, as those ultra-good Presbyterians went filing self-complacently along.”

    Reply
  37. I meant to add that while I find Mark Twain on Cooper amusing since I agree with him, I find him less reliable when he curls his lip at Austen: “Whenever I take up ‘Pride and Prejudice’ or ‘Sense and Sensibility,’ I feel like a barkeeper entering the Kingdom of Heaven. I mean, I feel as he would probably feel, would almost certainly feel. I am quite sure I know what his sensations would be — and his private comments. He would be certain to curl his lip, as those ultra-good Presbyterians went filing self-complacently along.”

    Reply
  38. I meant to add that while I find Mark Twain on Cooper amusing since I agree with him, I find him less reliable when he curls his lip at Austen: “Whenever I take up ‘Pride and Prejudice’ or ‘Sense and Sensibility,’ I feel like a barkeeper entering the Kingdom of Heaven. I mean, I feel as he would probably feel, would almost certainly feel. I am quite sure I know what his sensations would be — and his private comments. He would be certain to curl his lip, as those ultra-good Presbyterians went filing self-complacently along.”

    Reply
  39. I meant to add that while I find Mark Twain on Cooper amusing since I agree with him, I find him less reliable when he curls his lip at Austen: “Whenever I take up ‘Pride and Prejudice’ or ‘Sense and Sensibility,’ I feel like a barkeeper entering the Kingdom of Heaven. I mean, I feel as he would probably feel, would almost certainly feel. I am quite sure I know what his sensations would be — and his private comments. He would be certain to curl his lip, as those ultra-good Presbyterians went filing self-complacently along.”

    Reply
  40. I meant to add that while I find Mark Twain on Cooper amusing since I agree with him, I find him less reliable when he curls his lip at Austen: “Whenever I take up ‘Pride and Prejudice’ or ‘Sense and Sensibility,’ I feel like a barkeeper entering the Kingdom of Heaven. I mean, I feel as he would probably feel, would almost certainly feel. I am quite sure I know what his sensations would be — and his private comments. He would be certain to curl his lip, as those ultra-good Presbyterians went filing self-complacently along.”

    Reply
  41. I meant to add that while I find Mark Twain on Cooper amusing since I agree with him, I find him less reliable when he curls his lip at Austen: “Whenever I take up ‘Pride and Prejudice’ or ‘Sense and Sensibility,’ I feel like a barkeeper entering the Kingdom of Heaven. I mean, I feel as he would probably feel, would almost certainly feel. I am quite sure I know what his sensations would be — and his private comments. He would be certain to curl his lip, as those ultra-good Presbyterians went filing self-complacently along.”

    Reply
  42. I meant to add that while I find Mark Twain on Cooper amusing since I agree with him, I find him less reliable when he curls his lip at Austen: “Whenever I take up ‘Pride and Prejudice’ or ‘Sense and Sensibility,’ I feel like a barkeeper entering the Kingdom of Heaven. I mean, I feel as he would probably feel, would almost certainly feel. I am quite sure I know what his sensations would be — and his private comments. He would be certain to curl his lip, as those ultra-good Presbyterians went filing self-complacently along.”

    Reply
  43. I meant to add that while I find Mark Twain on Cooper amusing since I agree with him, I find him less reliable when he curls his lip at Austen: “Whenever I take up ‘Pride and Prejudice’ or ‘Sense and Sensibility,’ I feel like a barkeeper entering the Kingdom of Heaven. I mean, I feel as he would probably feel, would almost certainly feel. I am quite sure I know what his sensations would be — and his private comments. He would be certain to curl his lip, as those ultra-good Presbyterians went filing self-complacently along.”

    Reply
  44. I meant to add that while I find Mark Twain on Cooper amusing since I agree with him, I find him less reliable when he curls his lip at Austen: “Whenever I take up ‘Pride and Prejudice’ or ‘Sense and Sensibility,’ I feel like a barkeeper entering the Kingdom of Heaven. I mean, I feel as he would probably feel, would almost certainly feel. I am quite sure I know what his sensations would be — and his private comments. He would be certain to curl his lip, as those ultra-good Presbyterians went filing self-complacently along.”

    Reply
  45. I meant to add that while I find Mark Twain on Cooper amusing since I agree with him, I find him less reliable when he curls his lip at Austen: “Whenever I take up ‘Pride and Prejudice’ or ‘Sense and Sensibility,’ I feel like a barkeeper entering the Kingdom of Heaven. I mean, I feel as he would probably feel, would almost certainly feel. I am quite sure I know what his sensations would be — and his private comments. He would be certain to curl his lip, as those ultra-good Presbyterians went filing self-complacently along.”

    Reply
  46. Thanks for the comments. I’m trying to work this subject out for myself.
    Francois, LOL on the monarchs of England. I _think_ I can run through them from Will the Conk on as long as I don’t have to cope with the comings and goings of the Wars of the Roses.
    Interesting observation, Maggie, about not being able to follow action scenes. Are you a visual reader? By that I mean, do you see the book as a sort of video as you read? I can’t imagine reading any other way, but I know some people don’t.
    Mind you, I think some visual readers are good at shifting details to suit their preconceptions etc plus filling in the blanks, and others are literal.
    Which leads to something I didn’t cover — accuracy of tone and even nuance in a novel.
    Any comment on that?
    Jo

    Reply
  47. Thanks for the comments. I’m trying to work this subject out for myself.
    Francois, LOL on the monarchs of England. I _think_ I can run through them from Will the Conk on as long as I don’t have to cope with the comings and goings of the Wars of the Roses.
    Interesting observation, Maggie, about not being able to follow action scenes. Are you a visual reader? By that I mean, do you see the book as a sort of video as you read? I can’t imagine reading any other way, but I know some people don’t.
    Mind you, I think some visual readers are good at shifting details to suit their preconceptions etc plus filling in the blanks, and others are literal.
    Which leads to something I didn’t cover — accuracy of tone and even nuance in a novel.
    Any comment on that?
    Jo

    Reply
  48. Thanks for the comments. I’m trying to work this subject out for myself.
    Francois, LOL on the monarchs of England. I _think_ I can run through them from Will the Conk on as long as I don’t have to cope with the comings and goings of the Wars of the Roses.
    Interesting observation, Maggie, about not being able to follow action scenes. Are you a visual reader? By that I mean, do you see the book as a sort of video as you read? I can’t imagine reading any other way, but I know some people don’t.
    Mind you, I think some visual readers are good at shifting details to suit their preconceptions etc plus filling in the blanks, and others are literal.
    Which leads to something I didn’t cover — accuracy of tone and even nuance in a novel.
    Any comment on that?
    Jo

    Reply
  49. Thanks for the comments. I’m trying to work this subject out for myself.
    Francois, LOL on the monarchs of England. I _think_ I can run through them from Will the Conk on as long as I don’t have to cope with the comings and goings of the Wars of the Roses.
    Interesting observation, Maggie, about not being able to follow action scenes. Are you a visual reader? By that I mean, do you see the book as a sort of video as you read? I can’t imagine reading any other way, but I know some people don’t.
    Mind you, I think some visual readers are good at shifting details to suit their preconceptions etc plus filling in the blanks, and others are literal.
    Which leads to something I didn’t cover — accuracy of tone and even nuance in a novel.
    Any comment on that?
    Jo

    Reply
  50. Thanks for the comments. I’m trying to work this subject out for myself.
    Francois, LOL on the monarchs of England. I _think_ I can run through them from Will the Conk on as long as I don’t have to cope with the comings and goings of the Wars of the Roses.
    Interesting observation, Maggie, about not being able to follow action scenes. Are you a visual reader? By that I mean, do you see the book as a sort of video as you read? I can’t imagine reading any other way, but I know some people don’t.
    Mind you, I think some visual readers are good at shifting details to suit their preconceptions etc plus filling in the blanks, and others are literal.
    Which leads to something I didn’t cover — accuracy of tone and even nuance in a novel.
    Any comment on that?
    Jo

    Reply
  51. For me, it’s all about the suspension of disbelief . . . if I’m IN the book, and we’re moving along, and I’m totally invested and enamored I’m likely to skim over and mentally erase historical errors (at this point corestless women just earn a groan, since they’re sooooooooooo prevalent). If I have enough time/room “in my head” so to speak to take up a mental conversation about the errors, then the book has already failed. Small errors I can get past, but glaring ones (esp ones upon which the plot hinges) are deal breakers for me as a reader.

    Reply
  52. For me, it’s all about the suspension of disbelief . . . if I’m IN the book, and we’re moving along, and I’m totally invested and enamored I’m likely to skim over and mentally erase historical errors (at this point corestless women just earn a groan, since they’re sooooooooooo prevalent). If I have enough time/room “in my head” so to speak to take up a mental conversation about the errors, then the book has already failed. Small errors I can get past, but glaring ones (esp ones upon which the plot hinges) are deal breakers for me as a reader.

    Reply
  53. For me, it’s all about the suspension of disbelief . . . if I’m IN the book, and we’re moving along, and I’m totally invested and enamored I’m likely to skim over and mentally erase historical errors (at this point corestless women just earn a groan, since they’re sooooooooooo prevalent). If I have enough time/room “in my head” so to speak to take up a mental conversation about the errors, then the book has already failed. Small errors I can get past, but glaring ones (esp ones upon which the plot hinges) are deal breakers for me as a reader.

    Reply
  54. For me, it’s all about the suspension of disbelief . . . if I’m IN the book, and we’re moving along, and I’m totally invested and enamored I’m likely to skim over and mentally erase historical errors (at this point corestless women just earn a groan, since they’re sooooooooooo prevalent). If I have enough time/room “in my head” so to speak to take up a mental conversation about the errors, then the book has already failed. Small errors I can get past, but glaring ones (esp ones upon which the plot hinges) are deal breakers for me as a reader.

    Reply
  55. For me, it’s all about the suspension of disbelief . . . if I’m IN the book, and we’re moving along, and I’m totally invested and enamored I’m likely to skim over and mentally erase historical errors (at this point corestless women just earn a groan, since they’re sooooooooooo prevalent). If I have enough time/room “in my head” so to speak to take up a mental conversation about the errors, then the book has already failed. Small errors I can get past, but glaring ones (esp ones upon which the plot hinges) are deal breakers for me as a reader.

    Reply
  56. My answer to this is “ite depends.”
    Where grammatical errors and spelling errors go, many times it’s not the writer’s fault. They get introduced into the text by over-zealous copyeditors and other production staff. Though, there have been some that I’ve read that were clearly eggregious and the books becmae wallbangers.
    My knowledge of the history of the medieval ages and Georgian/Regency is miniscule at best. So if I see repeated errors of where a duke is addresed as my lord, or folks reaching from London to Cornwall in a day, etc. then I get the feeling that the author has not done due diligence in ensuring that the details are accurate. Small errors, on the other hand, especially if they work with the story are OK with me. If the errors are made by an author whose work I respect, then I suspect my knowledge and go look it up. Many times, authors use the “Author’s Note” to clarify the liberties they’ve taken. I have tremendous respect for those authors.

    Reply
  57. My answer to this is “ite depends.”
    Where grammatical errors and spelling errors go, many times it’s not the writer’s fault. They get introduced into the text by over-zealous copyeditors and other production staff. Though, there have been some that I’ve read that were clearly eggregious and the books becmae wallbangers.
    My knowledge of the history of the medieval ages and Georgian/Regency is miniscule at best. So if I see repeated errors of where a duke is addresed as my lord, or folks reaching from London to Cornwall in a day, etc. then I get the feeling that the author has not done due diligence in ensuring that the details are accurate. Small errors, on the other hand, especially if they work with the story are OK with me. If the errors are made by an author whose work I respect, then I suspect my knowledge and go look it up. Many times, authors use the “Author’s Note” to clarify the liberties they’ve taken. I have tremendous respect for those authors.

    Reply
  58. My answer to this is “ite depends.”
    Where grammatical errors and spelling errors go, many times it’s not the writer’s fault. They get introduced into the text by over-zealous copyeditors and other production staff. Though, there have been some that I’ve read that were clearly eggregious and the books becmae wallbangers.
    My knowledge of the history of the medieval ages and Georgian/Regency is miniscule at best. So if I see repeated errors of where a duke is addresed as my lord, or folks reaching from London to Cornwall in a day, etc. then I get the feeling that the author has not done due diligence in ensuring that the details are accurate. Small errors, on the other hand, especially if they work with the story are OK with me. If the errors are made by an author whose work I respect, then I suspect my knowledge and go look it up. Many times, authors use the “Author’s Note” to clarify the liberties they’ve taken. I have tremendous respect for those authors.

    Reply
  59. My answer to this is “ite depends.”
    Where grammatical errors and spelling errors go, many times it’s not the writer’s fault. They get introduced into the text by over-zealous copyeditors and other production staff. Though, there have been some that I’ve read that were clearly eggregious and the books becmae wallbangers.
    My knowledge of the history of the medieval ages and Georgian/Regency is miniscule at best. So if I see repeated errors of where a duke is addresed as my lord, or folks reaching from London to Cornwall in a day, etc. then I get the feeling that the author has not done due diligence in ensuring that the details are accurate. Small errors, on the other hand, especially if they work with the story are OK with me. If the errors are made by an author whose work I respect, then I suspect my knowledge and go look it up. Many times, authors use the “Author’s Note” to clarify the liberties they’ve taken. I have tremendous respect for those authors.

    Reply
  60. My answer to this is “ite depends.”
    Where grammatical errors and spelling errors go, many times it’s not the writer’s fault. They get introduced into the text by over-zealous copyeditors and other production staff. Though, there have been some that I’ve read that were clearly eggregious and the books becmae wallbangers.
    My knowledge of the history of the medieval ages and Georgian/Regency is miniscule at best. So if I see repeated errors of where a duke is addresed as my lord, or folks reaching from London to Cornwall in a day, etc. then I get the feeling that the author has not done due diligence in ensuring that the details are accurate. Small errors, on the other hand, especially if they work with the story are OK with me. If the errors are made by an author whose work I respect, then I suspect my knowledge and go look it up. Many times, authors use the “Author’s Note” to clarify the liberties they’ve taken. I have tremendous respect for those authors.

    Reply
  61. ” accuracy of tone and even nuance in a novel.”
    I’m not saying every Regency has to sound like Georgette Heyer, but a heroine with twenty-first century sensibilities, freedoms, and voice is a no-go for me. The book has to “sound” authentic, otherwise no point in reading a historical. It’s not just a costume show, right?
    Jo, I’m not sure what you mean by nuance here.

    Reply
  62. ” accuracy of tone and even nuance in a novel.”
    I’m not saying every Regency has to sound like Georgette Heyer, but a heroine with twenty-first century sensibilities, freedoms, and voice is a no-go for me. The book has to “sound” authentic, otherwise no point in reading a historical. It’s not just a costume show, right?
    Jo, I’m not sure what you mean by nuance here.

    Reply
  63. ” accuracy of tone and even nuance in a novel.”
    I’m not saying every Regency has to sound like Georgette Heyer, but a heroine with twenty-first century sensibilities, freedoms, and voice is a no-go for me. The book has to “sound” authentic, otherwise no point in reading a historical. It’s not just a costume show, right?
    Jo, I’m not sure what you mean by nuance here.

    Reply
  64. ” accuracy of tone and even nuance in a novel.”
    I’m not saying every Regency has to sound like Georgette Heyer, but a heroine with twenty-first century sensibilities, freedoms, and voice is a no-go for me. The book has to “sound” authentic, otherwise no point in reading a historical. It’s not just a costume show, right?
    Jo, I’m not sure what you mean by nuance here.

    Reply
  65. ” accuracy of tone and even nuance in a novel.”
    I’m not saying every Regency has to sound like Georgette Heyer, but a heroine with twenty-first century sensibilities, freedoms, and voice is a no-go for me. The book has to “sound” authentic, otherwise no point in reading a historical. It’s not just a costume show, right?
    Jo, I’m not sure what you mean by nuance here.

    Reply
  66. Santa, that’s it, isn’t it? It’s all about the story.
    “For a man to be a true hero, he’s got to gain the woman’s trust… and I, for one, can’t understand why so many heroines can trust a man who does one thing and says another!”
    Excellent observation, Katie. I think I’m willing to let the characters break their word sometimes — they are only human, after all — but the actions and repercussions would make or break it. If it doesn’t cause them anguish afterward then it doesn’t look at all good.
    If they give their word while _intending_ to break it, especially with seduction or other theft in mind, that’s a whole other thing, of course.
    Rev Melinda, re Carla Kelly, that’s the point, isn’t it — that it’s the story that matters in the end. Many of us didn’t know about chocolates back in the old days.
    Janga, LOL on Twain on Austen. But you know, I can see exactly what he means. Coming from Twain’s angle on the world, Austen probably did feel unearthly clean. She herself admitted the deliberate limitation of her vision in her comment about writing on a small piece of ivory. Sorry, don’t have time to look up the quote. And I wince every time one of her characters talks about people thinking just as they ought.
    There is a deliberate limitation to the world she portays and she’s just as guilty as most of us are today of ignoring the grunge, suffering, and gleeful sin that was also in those bucolic country areas.
    Gosh, perhaps that should have been a blog itself, then everyone could launch in and attack me. 🙂
    Jo

    Reply
  67. Santa, that’s it, isn’t it? It’s all about the story.
    “For a man to be a true hero, he’s got to gain the woman’s trust… and I, for one, can’t understand why so many heroines can trust a man who does one thing and says another!”
    Excellent observation, Katie. I think I’m willing to let the characters break their word sometimes — they are only human, after all — but the actions and repercussions would make or break it. If it doesn’t cause them anguish afterward then it doesn’t look at all good.
    If they give their word while _intending_ to break it, especially with seduction or other theft in mind, that’s a whole other thing, of course.
    Rev Melinda, re Carla Kelly, that’s the point, isn’t it — that it’s the story that matters in the end. Many of us didn’t know about chocolates back in the old days.
    Janga, LOL on Twain on Austen. But you know, I can see exactly what he means. Coming from Twain’s angle on the world, Austen probably did feel unearthly clean. She herself admitted the deliberate limitation of her vision in her comment about writing on a small piece of ivory. Sorry, don’t have time to look up the quote. And I wince every time one of her characters talks about people thinking just as they ought.
    There is a deliberate limitation to the world she portays and she’s just as guilty as most of us are today of ignoring the grunge, suffering, and gleeful sin that was also in those bucolic country areas.
    Gosh, perhaps that should have been a blog itself, then everyone could launch in and attack me. 🙂
    Jo

    Reply
  68. Santa, that’s it, isn’t it? It’s all about the story.
    “For a man to be a true hero, he’s got to gain the woman’s trust… and I, for one, can’t understand why so many heroines can trust a man who does one thing and says another!”
    Excellent observation, Katie. I think I’m willing to let the characters break their word sometimes — they are only human, after all — but the actions and repercussions would make or break it. If it doesn’t cause them anguish afterward then it doesn’t look at all good.
    If they give their word while _intending_ to break it, especially with seduction or other theft in mind, that’s a whole other thing, of course.
    Rev Melinda, re Carla Kelly, that’s the point, isn’t it — that it’s the story that matters in the end. Many of us didn’t know about chocolates back in the old days.
    Janga, LOL on Twain on Austen. But you know, I can see exactly what he means. Coming from Twain’s angle on the world, Austen probably did feel unearthly clean. She herself admitted the deliberate limitation of her vision in her comment about writing on a small piece of ivory. Sorry, don’t have time to look up the quote. And I wince every time one of her characters talks about people thinking just as they ought.
    There is a deliberate limitation to the world she portays and she’s just as guilty as most of us are today of ignoring the grunge, suffering, and gleeful sin that was also in those bucolic country areas.
    Gosh, perhaps that should have been a blog itself, then everyone could launch in and attack me. 🙂
    Jo

    Reply
  69. Santa, that’s it, isn’t it? It’s all about the story.
    “For a man to be a true hero, he’s got to gain the woman’s trust… and I, for one, can’t understand why so many heroines can trust a man who does one thing and says another!”
    Excellent observation, Katie. I think I’m willing to let the characters break their word sometimes — they are only human, after all — but the actions and repercussions would make or break it. If it doesn’t cause them anguish afterward then it doesn’t look at all good.
    If they give their word while _intending_ to break it, especially with seduction or other theft in mind, that’s a whole other thing, of course.
    Rev Melinda, re Carla Kelly, that’s the point, isn’t it — that it’s the story that matters in the end. Many of us didn’t know about chocolates back in the old days.
    Janga, LOL on Twain on Austen. But you know, I can see exactly what he means. Coming from Twain’s angle on the world, Austen probably did feel unearthly clean. She herself admitted the deliberate limitation of her vision in her comment about writing on a small piece of ivory. Sorry, don’t have time to look up the quote. And I wince every time one of her characters talks about people thinking just as they ought.
    There is a deliberate limitation to the world she portays and she’s just as guilty as most of us are today of ignoring the grunge, suffering, and gleeful sin that was also in those bucolic country areas.
    Gosh, perhaps that should have been a blog itself, then everyone could launch in and attack me. 🙂
    Jo

    Reply
  70. Santa, that’s it, isn’t it? It’s all about the story.
    “For a man to be a true hero, he’s got to gain the woman’s trust… and I, for one, can’t understand why so many heroines can trust a man who does one thing and says another!”
    Excellent observation, Katie. I think I’m willing to let the characters break their word sometimes — they are only human, after all — but the actions and repercussions would make or break it. If it doesn’t cause them anguish afterward then it doesn’t look at all good.
    If they give their word while _intending_ to break it, especially with seduction or other theft in mind, that’s a whole other thing, of course.
    Rev Melinda, re Carla Kelly, that’s the point, isn’t it — that it’s the story that matters in the end. Many of us didn’t know about chocolates back in the old days.
    Janga, LOL on Twain on Austen. But you know, I can see exactly what he means. Coming from Twain’s angle on the world, Austen probably did feel unearthly clean. She herself admitted the deliberate limitation of her vision in her comment about writing on a small piece of ivory. Sorry, don’t have time to look up the quote. And I wince every time one of her characters talks about people thinking just as they ought.
    There is a deliberate limitation to the world she portays and she’s just as guilty as most of us are today of ignoring the grunge, suffering, and gleeful sin that was also in those bucolic country areas.
    Gosh, perhaps that should have been a blog itself, then everyone could launch in and attack me. 🙂
    Jo

    Reply
  71. Good topic, Jo!
    Mentioning Mark Twain reminded me of an error he wrote that haunted me throughout my adolescence. He had Tom dressed as a girl, and when tested by a canny woman who threw something to him while he was sitting – it landed in his lap – because he instinctively drew his legs together. Aha! says the woman. Now I know you’re a man because a woman would’ve spread her knees apart to catch the thing in her skirts.
    Interesting.
    I tried it.
    I always instinctively drew my legs together.
    For years I wondered if I was a hermaphrodite. (those were the years of no blatant sex in media).
    Years later, someone actually scientifically tested Twain’s theory.
    He was wrong! Everyone pulls their knees together.
    Do I love Twain any the less?
    Nope.

    Reply
  72. Good topic, Jo!
    Mentioning Mark Twain reminded me of an error he wrote that haunted me throughout my adolescence. He had Tom dressed as a girl, and when tested by a canny woman who threw something to him while he was sitting – it landed in his lap – because he instinctively drew his legs together. Aha! says the woman. Now I know you’re a man because a woman would’ve spread her knees apart to catch the thing in her skirts.
    Interesting.
    I tried it.
    I always instinctively drew my legs together.
    For years I wondered if I was a hermaphrodite. (those were the years of no blatant sex in media).
    Years later, someone actually scientifically tested Twain’s theory.
    He was wrong! Everyone pulls their knees together.
    Do I love Twain any the less?
    Nope.

    Reply
  73. Good topic, Jo!
    Mentioning Mark Twain reminded me of an error he wrote that haunted me throughout my adolescence. He had Tom dressed as a girl, and when tested by a canny woman who threw something to him while he was sitting – it landed in his lap – because he instinctively drew his legs together. Aha! says the woman. Now I know you’re a man because a woman would’ve spread her knees apart to catch the thing in her skirts.
    Interesting.
    I tried it.
    I always instinctively drew my legs together.
    For years I wondered if I was a hermaphrodite. (those were the years of no blatant sex in media).
    Years later, someone actually scientifically tested Twain’s theory.
    He was wrong! Everyone pulls their knees together.
    Do I love Twain any the less?
    Nope.

    Reply
  74. Good topic, Jo!
    Mentioning Mark Twain reminded me of an error he wrote that haunted me throughout my adolescence. He had Tom dressed as a girl, and when tested by a canny woman who threw something to him while he was sitting – it landed in his lap – because he instinctively drew his legs together. Aha! says the woman. Now I know you’re a man because a woman would’ve spread her knees apart to catch the thing in her skirts.
    Interesting.
    I tried it.
    I always instinctively drew my legs together.
    For years I wondered if I was a hermaphrodite. (those were the years of no blatant sex in media).
    Years later, someone actually scientifically tested Twain’s theory.
    He was wrong! Everyone pulls their knees together.
    Do I love Twain any the less?
    Nope.

    Reply
  75. Good topic, Jo!
    Mentioning Mark Twain reminded me of an error he wrote that haunted me throughout my adolescence. He had Tom dressed as a girl, and when tested by a canny woman who threw something to him while he was sitting – it landed in his lap – because he instinctively drew his legs together. Aha! says the woman. Now I know you’re a man because a woman would’ve spread her knees apart to catch the thing in her skirts.
    Interesting.
    I tried it.
    I always instinctively drew my legs together.
    For years I wondered if I was a hermaphrodite. (those were the years of no blatant sex in media).
    Years later, someone actually scientifically tested Twain’s theory.
    He was wrong! Everyone pulls their knees together.
    Do I love Twain any the less?
    Nope.

    Reply
  76. Jo here,
    Keira, by nuance I meant the more subtle things, ones that are often hard to pin down.
    For example, the hero of a Georgian book isn’t talking in modern slang or wearing a modern haircut, but all the little things combine to suggest that he’s really a time-traveling 21st century undercover cop…
    Gee, I think there’s a story in that!
    Jo

    Reply
  77. Jo here,
    Keira, by nuance I meant the more subtle things, ones that are often hard to pin down.
    For example, the hero of a Georgian book isn’t talking in modern slang or wearing a modern haircut, but all the little things combine to suggest that he’s really a time-traveling 21st century undercover cop…
    Gee, I think there’s a story in that!
    Jo

    Reply
  78. Jo here,
    Keira, by nuance I meant the more subtle things, ones that are often hard to pin down.
    For example, the hero of a Georgian book isn’t talking in modern slang or wearing a modern haircut, but all the little things combine to suggest that he’s really a time-traveling 21st century undercover cop…
    Gee, I think there’s a story in that!
    Jo

    Reply
  79. Jo here,
    Keira, by nuance I meant the more subtle things, ones that are often hard to pin down.
    For example, the hero of a Georgian book isn’t talking in modern slang or wearing a modern haircut, but all the little things combine to suggest that he’s really a time-traveling 21st century undercover cop…
    Gee, I think there’s a story in that!
    Jo

    Reply
  80. Jo here,
    Keira, by nuance I meant the more subtle things, ones that are often hard to pin down.
    For example, the hero of a Georgian book isn’t talking in modern slang or wearing a modern haircut, but all the little things combine to suggest that he’s really a time-traveling 21st century undercover cop…
    Gee, I think there’s a story in that!
    Jo

    Reply
  81. The inaccuracies that bug me are the ones such as Keira mentioned, people getting from London to Gretna Green in two days, for the most glaring example. Or the characters saying “might” when they mean “may” and furthermore if Jane Austen had been writing it, they would have SAID “may.” None of this serves the story; it’s just lazy. It’s the writer’s job to make it believable, no matter how much she diverges from the (unknowable) “reality” of the historical period. I can more easily believe in a 19th C. heroine with 21st C. values than I can in a horse that will cover 40 miles in a morning without dropping dead!
    P.S. I don’t know where people get the idea that Jane Austen’s world is so squeaky clean. There’s at least one “unsanctioned” sexual relationship in every single one of her books.

    Reply
  82. The inaccuracies that bug me are the ones such as Keira mentioned, people getting from London to Gretna Green in two days, for the most glaring example. Or the characters saying “might” when they mean “may” and furthermore if Jane Austen had been writing it, they would have SAID “may.” None of this serves the story; it’s just lazy. It’s the writer’s job to make it believable, no matter how much she diverges from the (unknowable) “reality” of the historical period. I can more easily believe in a 19th C. heroine with 21st C. values than I can in a horse that will cover 40 miles in a morning without dropping dead!
    P.S. I don’t know where people get the idea that Jane Austen’s world is so squeaky clean. There’s at least one “unsanctioned” sexual relationship in every single one of her books.

    Reply
  83. The inaccuracies that bug me are the ones such as Keira mentioned, people getting from London to Gretna Green in two days, for the most glaring example. Or the characters saying “might” when they mean “may” and furthermore if Jane Austen had been writing it, they would have SAID “may.” None of this serves the story; it’s just lazy. It’s the writer’s job to make it believable, no matter how much she diverges from the (unknowable) “reality” of the historical period. I can more easily believe in a 19th C. heroine with 21st C. values than I can in a horse that will cover 40 miles in a morning without dropping dead!
    P.S. I don’t know where people get the idea that Jane Austen’s world is so squeaky clean. There’s at least one “unsanctioned” sexual relationship in every single one of her books.

    Reply
  84. The inaccuracies that bug me are the ones such as Keira mentioned, people getting from London to Gretna Green in two days, for the most glaring example. Or the characters saying “might” when they mean “may” and furthermore if Jane Austen had been writing it, they would have SAID “may.” None of this serves the story; it’s just lazy. It’s the writer’s job to make it believable, no matter how much she diverges from the (unknowable) “reality” of the historical period. I can more easily believe in a 19th C. heroine with 21st C. values than I can in a horse that will cover 40 miles in a morning without dropping dead!
    P.S. I don’t know where people get the idea that Jane Austen’s world is so squeaky clean. There’s at least one “unsanctioned” sexual relationship in every single one of her books.

    Reply
  85. The inaccuracies that bug me are the ones such as Keira mentioned, people getting from London to Gretna Green in two days, for the most glaring example. Or the characters saying “might” when they mean “may” and furthermore if Jane Austen had been writing it, they would have SAID “may.” None of this serves the story; it’s just lazy. It’s the writer’s job to make it believable, no matter how much she diverges from the (unknowable) “reality” of the historical period. I can more easily believe in a 19th C. heroine with 21st C. values than I can in a horse that will cover 40 miles in a morning without dropping dead!
    P.S. I don’t know where people get the idea that Jane Austen’s world is so squeaky clean. There’s at least one “unsanctioned” sexual relationship in every single one of her books.

    Reply
  86. Jo here again.
    Okay, I’m going to make myself unpopular, but I have to poke a hole in this.
    “Where grammatical errors and spelling errors go, many times it’s not the writer’s fault. They get introduced into the text by over-zealous copyeditors and other production staff.”
    This is a very cozy notion for us writers, but I don’t think we should be allowed to get away with it. Yes, it happens. Rarely. Occasionally. But many times?
    I have never had an error appear in a book of mine that wasn’t my fault. Sometimes I’m shocked and want to believe it’s not my fault, but when I check the original manuscript, there it is. Sometimes I have foolishly approved a bad change, but that’s still my fault.
    Most authors get to review their book at two stages. First they get to see the edited manuscript. Any changes are handwritten in coloured pencil. They’re easy to spot.
    The author can change things back or at least argue. Now here, errors can be introduced, but the author can’t claim not to know about it. Either she didn’t notice, didn’t think it was worth the bother to fight, or lost the fight. The latter does happen, but it’s never happened to me on important matters.
    Then the book is typeset and we get to see the page proofs exactly as they will be in the book. The proof pages come with strong commandments not to make any unnecessary changes because changes at this point COST A LOT OF MONEY. Yes, they really do emphasise it. It’s probably not quite as true these days, with it all being done electronically, but it certainly costs something.
    Given that expense, do people at the publishing house really make changes in the work after the author had read through it that one last time? Why and how?
    It absolutely shouldn’t happen, but it is possible that some change be made after the author has seen the editing, and that she doesn’t notice it in the page proofs. Still, she did read those page proofs, so there’s a bit of responsibility there still.
    I did once create a small inaccuracy by making changes at the proof stage. The changes were necessary, but in the process of inputting those changes, something else was twisted around, which is a really good reason not to make changes at that stage.
    So, I won’t say it never happens because sometimes it does. And unfortunately some publishers don’t send the copy edited ms for author review, which is BAD. But in my experience introduced errors are rare. Much more often we simply screw up and after all the times we read through the work, and after all the editing scrutiny, and after us reading through the copy-edited manuscript and the page proofs we still never notices that stupid, glaring (or even tiny) error on page 237.
    So yes, give the author the benefit of the doubt sometimes, but don’t give us a free pass. It’s bad for us.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  87. Jo here again.
    Okay, I’m going to make myself unpopular, but I have to poke a hole in this.
    “Where grammatical errors and spelling errors go, many times it’s not the writer’s fault. They get introduced into the text by over-zealous copyeditors and other production staff.”
    This is a very cozy notion for us writers, but I don’t think we should be allowed to get away with it. Yes, it happens. Rarely. Occasionally. But many times?
    I have never had an error appear in a book of mine that wasn’t my fault. Sometimes I’m shocked and want to believe it’s not my fault, but when I check the original manuscript, there it is. Sometimes I have foolishly approved a bad change, but that’s still my fault.
    Most authors get to review their book at two stages. First they get to see the edited manuscript. Any changes are handwritten in coloured pencil. They’re easy to spot.
    The author can change things back or at least argue. Now here, errors can be introduced, but the author can’t claim not to know about it. Either she didn’t notice, didn’t think it was worth the bother to fight, or lost the fight. The latter does happen, but it’s never happened to me on important matters.
    Then the book is typeset and we get to see the page proofs exactly as they will be in the book. The proof pages come with strong commandments not to make any unnecessary changes because changes at this point COST A LOT OF MONEY. Yes, they really do emphasise it. It’s probably not quite as true these days, with it all being done electronically, but it certainly costs something.
    Given that expense, do people at the publishing house really make changes in the work after the author had read through it that one last time? Why and how?
    It absolutely shouldn’t happen, but it is possible that some change be made after the author has seen the editing, and that she doesn’t notice it in the page proofs. Still, she did read those page proofs, so there’s a bit of responsibility there still.
    I did once create a small inaccuracy by making changes at the proof stage. The changes were necessary, but in the process of inputting those changes, something else was twisted around, which is a really good reason not to make changes at that stage.
    So, I won’t say it never happens because sometimes it does. And unfortunately some publishers don’t send the copy edited ms for author review, which is BAD. But in my experience introduced errors are rare. Much more often we simply screw up and after all the times we read through the work, and after all the editing scrutiny, and after us reading through the copy-edited manuscript and the page proofs we still never notices that stupid, glaring (or even tiny) error on page 237.
    So yes, give the author the benefit of the doubt sometimes, but don’t give us a free pass. It’s bad for us.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  88. Jo here again.
    Okay, I’m going to make myself unpopular, but I have to poke a hole in this.
    “Where grammatical errors and spelling errors go, many times it’s not the writer’s fault. They get introduced into the text by over-zealous copyeditors and other production staff.”
    This is a very cozy notion for us writers, but I don’t think we should be allowed to get away with it. Yes, it happens. Rarely. Occasionally. But many times?
    I have never had an error appear in a book of mine that wasn’t my fault. Sometimes I’m shocked and want to believe it’s not my fault, but when I check the original manuscript, there it is. Sometimes I have foolishly approved a bad change, but that’s still my fault.
    Most authors get to review their book at two stages. First they get to see the edited manuscript. Any changes are handwritten in coloured pencil. They’re easy to spot.
    The author can change things back or at least argue. Now here, errors can be introduced, but the author can’t claim not to know about it. Either she didn’t notice, didn’t think it was worth the bother to fight, or lost the fight. The latter does happen, but it’s never happened to me on important matters.
    Then the book is typeset and we get to see the page proofs exactly as they will be in the book. The proof pages come with strong commandments not to make any unnecessary changes because changes at this point COST A LOT OF MONEY. Yes, they really do emphasise it. It’s probably not quite as true these days, with it all being done electronically, but it certainly costs something.
    Given that expense, do people at the publishing house really make changes in the work after the author had read through it that one last time? Why and how?
    It absolutely shouldn’t happen, but it is possible that some change be made after the author has seen the editing, and that she doesn’t notice it in the page proofs. Still, she did read those page proofs, so there’s a bit of responsibility there still.
    I did once create a small inaccuracy by making changes at the proof stage. The changes were necessary, but in the process of inputting those changes, something else was twisted around, which is a really good reason not to make changes at that stage.
    So, I won’t say it never happens because sometimes it does. And unfortunately some publishers don’t send the copy edited ms for author review, which is BAD. But in my experience introduced errors are rare. Much more often we simply screw up and after all the times we read through the work, and after all the editing scrutiny, and after us reading through the copy-edited manuscript and the page proofs we still never notices that stupid, glaring (or even tiny) error on page 237.
    So yes, give the author the benefit of the doubt sometimes, but don’t give us a free pass. It’s bad for us.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  89. Jo here again.
    Okay, I’m going to make myself unpopular, but I have to poke a hole in this.
    “Where grammatical errors and spelling errors go, many times it’s not the writer’s fault. They get introduced into the text by over-zealous copyeditors and other production staff.”
    This is a very cozy notion for us writers, but I don’t think we should be allowed to get away with it. Yes, it happens. Rarely. Occasionally. But many times?
    I have never had an error appear in a book of mine that wasn’t my fault. Sometimes I’m shocked and want to believe it’s not my fault, but when I check the original manuscript, there it is. Sometimes I have foolishly approved a bad change, but that’s still my fault.
    Most authors get to review their book at two stages. First they get to see the edited manuscript. Any changes are handwritten in coloured pencil. They’re easy to spot.
    The author can change things back or at least argue. Now here, errors can be introduced, but the author can’t claim not to know about it. Either she didn’t notice, didn’t think it was worth the bother to fight, or lost the fight. The latter does happen, but it’s never happened to me on important matters.
    Then the book is typeset and we get to see the page proofs exactly as they will be in the book. The proof pages come with strong commandments not to make any unnecessary changes because changes at this point COST A LOT OF MONEY. Yes, they really do emphasise it. It’s probably not quite as true these days, with it all being done electronically, but it certainly costs something.
    Given that expense, do people at the publishing house really make changes in the work after the author had read through it that one last time? Why and how?
    It absolutely shouldn’t happen, but it is possible that some change be made after the author has seen the editing, and that she doesn’t notice it in the page proofs. Still, she did read those page proofs, so there’s a bit of responsibility there still.
    I did once create a small inaccuracy by making changes at the proof stage. The changes were necessary, but in the process of inputting those changes, something else was twisted around, which is a really good reason not to make changes at that stage.
    So, I won’t say it never happens because sometimes it does. And unfortunately some publishers don’t send the copy edited ms for author review, which is BAD. But in my experience introduced errors are rare. Much more often we simply screw up and after all the times we read through the work, and after all the editing scrutiny, and after us reading through the copy-edited manuscript and the page proofs we still never notices that stupid, glaring (or even tiny) error on page 237.
    So yes, give the author the benefit of the doubt sometimes, but don’t give us a free pass. It’s bad for us.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  90. Jo here again.
    Okay, I’m going to make myself unpopular, but I have to poke a hole in this.
    “Where grammatical errors and spelling errors go, many times it’s not the writer’s fault. They get introduced into the text by over-zealous copyeditors and other production staff.”
    This is a very cozy notion for us writers, but I don’t think we should be allowed to get away with it. Yes, it happens. Rarely. Occasionally. But many times?
    I have never had an error appear in a book of mine that wasn’t my fault. Sometimes I’m shocked and want to believe it’s not my fault, but when I check the original manuscript, there it is. Sometimes I have foolishly approved a bad change, but that’s still my fault.
    Most authors get to review their book at two stages. First they get to see the edited manuscript. Any changes are handwritten in coloured pencil. They’re easy to spot.
    The author can change things back or at least argue. Now here, errors can be introduced, but the author can’t claim not to know about it. Either she didn’t notice, didn’t think it was worth the bother to fight, or lost the fight. The latter does happen, but it’s never happened to me on important matters.
    Then the book is typeset and we get to see the page proofs exactly as they will be in the book. The proof pages come with strong commandments not to make any unnecessary changes because changes at this point COST A LOT OF MONEY. Yes, they really do emphasise it. It’s probably not quite as true these days, with it all being done electronically, but it certainly costs something.
    Given that expense, do people at the publishing house really make changes in the work after the author had read through it that one last time? Why and how?
    It absolutely shouldn’t happen, but it is possible that some change be made after the author has seen the editing, and that she doesn’t notice it in the page proofs. Still, she did read those page proofs, so there’s a bit of responsibility there still.
    I did once create a small inaccuracy by making changes at the proof stage. The changes were necessary, but in the process of inputting those changes, something else was twisted around, which is a really good reason not to make changes at that stage.
    So, I won’t say it never happens because sometimes it does. And unfortunately some publishers don’t send the copy edited ms for author review, which is BAD. But in my experience introduced errors are rare. Much more often we simply screw up and after all the times we read through the work, and after all the editing scrutiny, and after us reading through the copy-edited manuscript and the page proofs we still never notices that stupid, glaring (or even tiny) error on page 237.
    So yes, give the author the benefit of the doubt sometimes, but don’t give us a free pass. It’s bad for us.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  91. The more I know, the more errors bug me. I’m pickier about the Regency than any other era, and pickier about military issues than any other type of detail, because that’s what I’ve studied the most. If I’m reading a western or a medieval and nothing feels wildly modern or fantastical, I’m fine. But with Regencies, I’ve been known to have reactions like this:
    “You can’t call the same character Lady Mary one place and Lady Smith the next!” (WALLBANG!)
    “That regiment carried muskets, not rifles!” (WALLBANG!)
    I then go rant at my poor husband, who when he’s feeling really brave will sometimes remind me that prior to 2002 I didn’t even know the difference between a musket and a rifle myself.
    I try not to engage in public finger-pointing over those kinds of errors, mostly because I fear bad karma! Someday, with the blessing and if the Good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be published myself. Undoubtedly I’ll botch some detail or other because I didn’t think to research it or didn’t realize the conventional wisdom was wrong. So I’m trying to show mercy to others so it’ll be shown to me when my time comes.
    But, in general, personal pet peeves aside, I’ll give an author a lot of latitude on the details as long as I get the sense that she’s done some research and tried to get the overall feel right.
    “My second is, why is it that sometimes we as readers get all twitchy about accuracy of fashion, dates, geography, etiquette and such while not seeming to care about accuracy of moral behaviour? Why is accuracy in one area important to us and not in others.”
    I’m not sure it’s so much importance as the ease of proving an author wrong. While I’m bugged by too-modern moral behavior in many current romances, I don’t really know, for instance, how many women were actually virgins on their wedding nights in 1815. More than now, certainly, but it could be 99%, could be 80%–who knows? You could probably make a guesstimate based on the number of first children born less than 9 months after the wedding, but it’s hardly an exact statistic. I do, however, know with perfect precision the date of the Battle of Waterloo. So it’s a lot easier to rant and complain when someone botches the latter.

    Reply
  92. The more I know, the more errors bug me. I’m pickier about the Regency than any other era, and pickier about military issues than any other type of detail, because that’s what I’ve studied the most. If I’m reading a western or a medieval and nothing feels wildly modern or fantastical, I’m fine. But with Regencies, I’ve been known to have reactions like this:
    “You can’t call the same character Lady Mary one place and Lady Smith the next!” (WALLBANG!)
    “That regiment carried muskets, not rifles!” (WALLBANG!)
    I then go rant at my poor husband, who when he’s feeling really brave will sometimes remind me that prior to 2002 I didn’t even know the difference between a musket and a rifle myself.
    I try not to engage in public finger-pointing over those kinds of errors, mostly because I fear bad karma! Someday, with the blessing and if the Good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be published myself. Undoubtedly I’ll botch some detail or other because I didn’t think to research it or didn’t realize the conventional wisdom was wrong. So I’m trying to show mercy to others so it’ll be shown to me when my time comes.
    But, in general, personal pet peeves aside, I’ll give an author a lot of latitude on the details as long as I get the sense that she’s done some research and tried to get the overall feel right.
    “My second is, why is it that sometimes we as readers get all twitchy about accuracy of fashion, dates, geography, etiquette and such while not seeming to care about accuracy of moral behaviour? Why is accuracy in one area important to us and not in others.”
    I’m not sure it’s so much importance as the ease of proving an author wrong. While I’m bugged by too-modern moral behavior in many current romances, I don’t really know, for instance, how many women were actually virgins on their wedding nights in 1815. More than now, certainly, but it could be 99%, could be 80%–who knows? You could probably make a guesstimate based on the number of first children born less than 9 months after the wedding, but it’s hardly an exact statistic. I do, however, know with perfect precision the date of the Battle of Waterloo. So it’s a lot easier to rant and complain when someone botches the latter.

    Reply
  93. The more I know, the more errors bug me. I’m pickier about the Regency than any other era, and pickier about military issues than any other type of detail, because that’s what I’ve studied the most. If I’m reading a western or a medieval and nothing feels wildly modern or fantastical, I’m fine. But with Regencies, I’ve been known to have reactions like this:
    “You can’t call the same character Lady Mary one place and Lady Smith the next!” (WALLBANG!)
    “That regiment carried muskets, not rifles!” (WALLBANG!)
    I then go rant at my poor husband, who when he’s feeling really brave will sometimes remind me that prior to 2002 I didn’t even know the difference between a musket and a rifle myself.
    I try not to engage in public finger-pointing over those kinds of errors, mostly because I fear bad karma! Someday, with the blessing and if the Good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be published myself. Undoubtedly I’ll botch some detail or other because I didn’t think to research it or didn’t realize the conventional wisdom was wrong. So I’m trying to show mercy to others so it’ll be shown to me when my time comes.
    But, in general, personal pet peeves aside, I’ll give an author a lot of latitude on the details as long as I get the sense that she’s done some research and tried to get the overall feel right.
    “My second is, why is it that sometimes we as readers get all twitchy about accuracy of fashion, dates, geography, etiquette and such while not seeming to care about accuracy of moral behaviour? Why is accuracy in one area important to us and not in others.”
    I’m not sure it’s so much importance as the ease of proving an author wrong. While I’m bugged by too-modern moral behavior in many current romances, I don’t really know, for instance, how many women were actually virgins on their wedding nights in 1815. More than now, certainly, but it could be 99%, could be 80%–who knows? You could probably make a guesstimate based on the number of first children born less than 9 months after the wedding, but it’s hardly an exact statistic. I do, however, know with perfect precision the date of the Battle of Waterloo. So it’s a lot easier to rant and complain when someone botches the latter.

    Reply
  94. The more I know, the more errors bug me. I’m pickier about the Regency than any other era, and pickier about military issues than any other type of detail, because that’s what I’ve studied the most. If I’m reading a western or a medieval and nothing feels wildly modern or fantastical, I’m fine. But with Regencies, I’ve been known to have reactions like this:
    “You can’t call the same character Lady Mary one place and Lady Smith the next!” (WALLBANG!)
    “That regiment carried muskets, not rifles!” (WALLBANG!)
    I then go rant at my poor husband, who when he’s feeling really brave will sometimes remind me that prior to 2002 I didn’t even know the difference between a musket and a rifle myself.
    I try not to engage in public finger-pointing over those kinds of errors, mostly because I fear bad karma! Someday, with the blessing and if the Good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be published myself. Undoubtedly I’ll botch some detail or other because I didn’t think to research it or didn’t realize the conventional wisdom was wrong. So I’m trying to show mercy to others so it’ll be shown to me when my time comes.
    But, in general, personal pet peeves aside, I’ll give an author a lot of latitude on the details as long as I get the sense that she’s done some research and tried to get the overall feel right.
    “My second is, why is it that sometimes we as readers get all twitchy about accuracy of fashion, dates, geography, etiquette and such while not seeming to care about accuracy of moral behaviour? Why is accuracy in one area important to us and not in others.”
    I’m not sure it’s so much importance as the ease of proving an author wrong. While I’m bugged by too-modern moral behavior in many current romances, I don’t really know, for instance, how many women were actually virgins on their wedding nights in 1815. More than now, certainly, but it could be 99%, could be 80%–who knows? You could probably make a guesstimate based on the number of first children born less than 9 months after the wedding, but it’s hardly an exact statistic. I do, however, know with perfect precision the date of the Battle of Waterloo. So it’s a lot easier to rant and complain when someone botches the latter.

    Reply
  95. The more I know, the more errors bug me. I’m pickier about the Regency than any other era, and pickier about military issues than any other type of detail, because that’s what I’ve studied the most. If I’m reading a western or a medieval and nothing feels wildly modern or fantastical, I’m fine. But with Regencies, I’ve been known to have reactions like this:
    “You can’t call the same character Lady Mary one place and Lady Smith the next!” (WALLBANG!)
    “That regiment carried muskets, not rifles!” (WALLBANG!)
    I then go rant at my poor husband, who when he’s feeling really brave will sometimes remind me that prior to 2002 I didn’t even know the difference between a musket and a rifle myself.
    I try not to engage in public finger-pointing over those kinds of errors, mostly because I fear bad karma! Someday, with the blessing and if the Good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be published myself. Undoubtedly I’ll botch some detail or other because I didn’t think to research it or didn’t realize the conventional wisdom was wrong. So I’m trying to show mercy to others so it’ll be shown to me when my time comes.
    But, in general, personal pet peeves aside, I’ll give an author a lot of latitude on the details as long as I get the sense that she’s done some research and tried to get the overall feel right.
    “My second is, why is it that sometimes we as readers get all twitchy about accuracy of fashion, dates, geography, etiquette and such while not seeming to care about accuracy of moral behaviour? Why is accuracy in one area important to us and not in others.”
    I’m not sure it’s so much importance as the ease of proving an author wrong. While I’m bugged by too-modern moral behavior in many current romances, I don’t really know, for instance, how many women were actually virgins on their wedding nights in 1815. More than now, certainly, but it could be 99%, could be 80%–who knows? You could probably make a guesstimate based on the number of first children born less than 9 months after the wedding, but it’s hardly an exact statistic. I do, however, know with perfect precision the date of the Battle of Waterloo. So it’s a lot easier to rant and complain when someone botches the latter.

    Reply
  96. Jo here again,
    Elaine, when talking about Austen, I wasn’t meaning the sexual relationships. It’s more the ambience of her world. IMO, she chose to leave out a lot of elements just as we do today. Any bodies rotting in chains along the highway? Any people in the stocks in the village, or being whipped for vagrancy? Anyone being press-ganged?
    She also chose to leave out the darker side of the war. Are there any wounded military of any class in her books, for example?
    She doesn’t mention things like bad teeth, either, which is a complaint leveled against modern authors. How many injuries and diseases are there, leaving aside the tumbles and fevers that are so convenient as plot turns?
    This isn’t a complaint, but I can see how a writer like Twain might not approve.
    As I said, this could be a blog on it’s own, but feel free to argue it here. I’m interested to know if I’m wrong.
    Jo

    Reply
  97. Jo here again,
    Elaine, when talking about Austen, I wasn’t meaning the sexual relationships. It’s more the ambience of her world. IMO, she chose to leave out a lot of elements just as we do today. Any bodies rotting in chains along the highway? Any people in the stocks in the village, or being whipped for vagrancy? Anyone being press-ganged?
    She also chose to leave out the darker side of the war. Are there any wounded military of any class in her books, for example?
    She doesn’t mention things like bad teeth, either, which is a complaint leveled against modern authors. How many injuries and diseases are there, leaving aside the tumbles and fevers that are so convenient as plot turns?
    This isn’t a complaint, but I can see how a writer like Twain might not approve.
    As I said, this could be a blog on it’s own, but feel free to argue it here. I’m interested to know if I’m wrong.
    Jo

    Reply
  98. Jo here again,
    Elaine, when talking about Austen, I wasn’t meaning the sexual relationships. It’s more the ambience of her world. IMO, she chose to leave out a lot of elements just as we do today. Any bodies rotting in chains along the highway? Any people in the stocks in the village, or being whipped for vagrancy? Anyone being press-ganged?
    She also chose to leave out the darker side of the war. Are there any wounded military of any class in her books, for example?
    She doesn’t mention things like bad teeth, either, which is a complaint leveled against modern authors. How many injuries and diseases are there, leaving aside the tumbles and fevers that are so convenient as plot turns?
    This isn’t a complaint, but I can see how a writer like Twain might not approve.
    As I said, this could be a blog on it’s own, but feel free to argue it here. I’m interested to know if I’m wrong.
    Jo

    Reply
  99. Jo here again,
    Elaine, when talking about Austen, I wasn’t meaning the sexual relationships. It’s more the ambience of her world. IMO, she chose to leave out a lot of elements just as we do today. Any bodies rotting in chains along the highway? Any people in the stocks in the village, or being whipped for vagrancy? Anyone being press-ganged?
    She also chose to leave out the darker side of the war. Are there any wounded military of any class in her books, for example?
    She doesn’t mention things like bad teeth, either, which is a complaint leveled against modern authors. How many injuries and diseases are there, leaving aside the tumbles and fevers that are so convenient as plot turns?
    This isn’t a complaint, but I can see how a writer like Twain might not approve.
    As I said, this could be a blog on it’s own, but feel free to argue it here. I’m interested to know if I’m wrong.
    Jo

    Reply
  100. Jo here again,
    Elaine, when talking about Austen, I wasn’t meaning the sexual relationships. It’s more the ambience of her world. IMO, she chose to leave out a lot of elements just as we do today. Any bodies rotting in chains along the highway? Any people in the stocks in the village, or being whipped for vagrancy? Anyone being press-ganged?
    She also chose to leave out the darker side of the war. Are there any wounded military of any class in her books, for example?
    She doesn’t mention things like bad teeth, either, which is a complaint leveled against modern authors. How many injuries and diseases are there, leaving aside the tumbles and fevers that are so convenient as plot turns?
    This isn’t a complaint, but I can see how a writer like Twain might not approve.
    As I said, this could be a blog on it’s own, but feel free to argue it here. I’m interested to know if I’m wrong.
    Jo

    Reply
  101. I agree that what bothers me more are historical characters who act and sound like they could plopped down into any time period and it wouldn’t make a difference. I’m willing to overlook certain historical inaccuracies (apart from incorrect usage of titles, and inappropriate names for the period)if the author a)has a reason for it or b) it isn’t part of a plot point. It also depends on the writing. With an inexperienced writer, the inaccuracies some how seem all the more glaring than a book coming from a writer is a bit more polished in her prose. Or if the characters have engaged me emotionally.

    Reply
  102. I agree that what bothers me more are historical characters who act and sound like they could plopped down into any time period and it wouldn’t make a difference. I’m willing to overlook certain historical inaccuracies (apart from incorrect usage of titles, and inappropriate names for the period)if the author a)has a reason for it or b) it isn’t part of a plot point. It also depends on the writing. With an inexperienced writer, the inaccuracies some how seem all the more glaring than a book coming from a writer is a bit more polished in her prose. Or if the characters have engaged me emotionally.

    Reply
  103. I agree that what bothers me more are historical characters who act and sound like they could plopped down into any time period and it wouldn’t make a difference. I’m willing to overlook certain historical inaccuracies (apart from incorrect usage of titles, and inappropriate names for the period)if the author a)has a reason for it or b) it isn’t part of a plot point. It also depends on the writing. With an inexperienced writer, the inaccuracies some how seem all the more glaring than a book coming from a writer is a bit more polished in her prose. Or if the characters have engaged me emotionally.

    Reply
  104. I agree that what bothers me more are historical characters who act and sound like they could plopped down into any time period and it wouldn’t make a difference. I’m willing to overlook certain historical inaccuracies (apart from incorrect usage of titles, and inappropriate names for the period)if the author a)has a reason for it or b) it isn’t part of a plot point. It also depends on the writing. With an inexperienced writer, the inaccuracies some how seem all the more glaring than a book coming from a writer is a bit more polished in her prose. Or if the characters have engaged me emotionally.

    Reply
  105. I agree that what bothers me more are historical characters who act and sound like they could plopped down into any time period and it wouldn’t make a difference. I’m willing to overlook certain historical inaccuracies (apart from incorrect usage of titles, and inappropriate names for the period)if the author a)has a reason for it or b) it isn’t part of a plot point. It also depends on the writing. With an inexperienced writer, the inaccuracies some how seem all the more glaring than a book coming from a writer is a bit more polished in her prose. Or if the characters have engaged me emotionally.

    Reply
  106. Another point worth making is that sometimes the reader who sees an error is wrong. Once I was convinced that I had spotted an anachronistic word in a book by a favorite author, but when I checked the OED, I discovered that the word entered the language much earlier than I thought it did.

    Reply
  107. Another point worth making is that sometimes the reader who sees an error is wrong. Once I was convinced that I had spotted an anachronistic word in a book by a favorite author, but when I checked the OED, I discovered that the word entered the language much earlier than I thought it did.

    Reply
  108. Another point worth making is that sometimes the reader who sees an error is wrong. Once I was convinced that I had spotted an anachronistic word in a book by a favorite author, but when I checked the OED, I discovered that the word entered the language much earlier than I thought it did.

    Reply
  109. Another point worth making is that sometimes the reader who sees an error is wrong. Once I was convinced that I had spotted an anachronistic word in a book by a favorite author, but when I checked the OED, I discovered that the word entered the language much earlier than I thought it did.

    Reply
  110. Another point worth making is that sometimes the reader who sees an error is wrong. Once I was convinced that I had spotted an anachronistic word in a book by a favorite author, but when I checked the OED, I discovered that the word entered the language much earlier than I thought it did.

    Reply
  111. I will definitely notice her lack of corset, but I doubt that I would have before I started reading this blog. So, you’ve no
    one to blame but the Wenches!
    I cut “my” authors a lot of slack for their older titles – I guess because those are the books that introduced us and my memory of enjoyment counteracts any accuracy issues.
    Though, corsets wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me even now. The intangible nuances you’re talking about are much more likely to put me off. I put down a short story last night for just that reason. I was reading along, getting a mental impression of the hero and then realized he was supposed to be an Earl. I didn’t believe it. He didn’t “feel” like an Earl based on what I was reading.
    I am sooo not a visual reader. An author would have to make a really bad error in choreography for me to notice. Usually, it’s a case of “he put his hand where? I thought they were still standing up.” Then I reread and sometimes it’s the author and sometimes I just didn’t notice. 🙂
    OT – Is that the cover for A Lady’s Secret? I really like it!

    Reply
  112. I will definitely notice her lack of corset, but I doubt that I would have before I started reading this blog. So, you’ve no
    one to blame but the Wenches!
    I cut “my” authors a lot of slack for their older titles – I guess because those are the books that introduced us and my memory of enjoyment counteracts any accuracy issues.
    Though, corsets wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me even now. The intangible nuances you’re talking about are much more likely to put me off. I put down a short story last night for just that reason. I was reading along, getting a mental impression of the hero and then realized he was supposed to be an Earl. I didn’t believe it. He didn’t “feel” like an Earl based on what I was reading.
    I am sooo not a visual reader. An author would have to make a really bad error in choreography for me to notice. Usually, it’s a case of “he put his hand where? I thought they were still standing up.” Then I reread and sometimes it’s the author and sometimes I just didn’t notice. 🙂
    OT – Is that the cover for A Lady’s Secret? I really like it!

    Reply
  113. I will definitely notice her lack of corset, but I doubt that I would have before I started reading this blog. So, you’ve no
    one to blame but the Wenches!
    I cut “my” authors a lot of slack for their older titles – I guess because those are the books that introduced us and my memory of enjoyment counteracts any accuracy issues.
    Though, corsets wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me even now. The intangible nuances you’re talking about are much more likely to put me off. I put down a short story last night for just that reason. I was reading along, getting a mental impression of the hero and then realized he was supposed to be an Earl. I didn’t believe it. He didn’t “feel” like an Earl based on what I was reading.
    I am sooo not a visual reader. An author would have to make a really bad error in choreography for me to notice. Usually, it’s a case of “he put his hand where? I thought they were still standing up.” Then I reread and sometimes it’s the author and sometimes I just didn’t notice. 🙂
    OT – Is that the cover for A Lady’s Secret? I really like it!

    Reply
  114. I will definitely notice her lack of corset, but I doubt that I would have before I started reading this blog. So, you’ve no
    one to blame but the Wenches!
    I cut “my” authors a lot of slack for their older titles – I guess because those are the books that introduced us and my memory of enjoyment counteracts any accuracy issues.
    Though, corsets wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me even now. The intangible nuances you’re talking about are much more likely to put me off. I put down a short story last night for just that reason. I was reading along, getting a mental impression of the hero and then realized he was supposed to be an Earl. I didn’t believe it. He didn’t “feel” like an Earl based on what I was reading.
    I am sooo not a visual reader. An author would have to make a really bad error in choreography for me to notice. Usually, it’s a case of “he put his hand where? I thought they were still standing up.” Then I reread and sometimes it’s the author and sometimes I just didn’t notice. 🙂
    OT – Is that the cover for A Lady’s Secret? I really like it!

    Reply
  115. I will definitely notice her lack of corset, but I doubt that I would have before I started reading this blog. So, you’ve no
    one to blame but the Wenches!
    I cut “my” authors a lot of slack for their older titles – I guess because those are the books that introduced us and my memory of enjoyment counteracts any accuracy issues.
    Though, corsets wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me even now. The intangible nuances you’re talking about are much more likely to put me off. I put down a short story last night for just that reason. I was reading along, getting a mental impression of the hero and then realized he was supposed to be an Earl. I didn’t believe it. He didn’t “feel” like an Earl based on what I was reading.
    I am sooo not a visual reader. An author would have to make a really bad error in choreography for me to notice. Usually, it’s a case of “he put his hand where? I thought they were still standing up.” Then I reread and sometimes it’s the author and sometimes I just didn’t notice. 🙂
    OT – Is that the cover for A Lady’s Secret? I really like it!

    Reply
  116. Don’t you sometimes think it’s about reader expectation? I’ve discussed this with a lot of my writer friends, and I think the Heyer-esque “Regency world” (or even the Julia Quinn Regency World) that exists in many readers minds trumps all. The author can be 100%, totally accurate, etc., but if the feel of the world she’s created is too far off from the one the reader expected, then I think it can jar the reader and lead to a feeling that the book lacks authenticity. I know I got SLAMMED by one review site as being an extremely anachronistic writer. She didn’t point out any specifics that bothered her, so I’m left to assume that “my world” simply didn’t jive with her expectations (cause I’m pretty dang sure my book isn’t riddled with anachronisms).
    I try to think of it in the same way I do some of the “cheats” that we use in historical re-enactment for “theatrical purposes”. For example, I’ve worked with three different groups that do 16th century Landsknechts, two are “early” period (1500-1530) and one is late (1560-1590). The later one still encourages its members to wear the large “pizza” hats of the early period though, because it’s a good visual clue for the audience (since the basic costume has become VERY Spanish by that period).
    And I agree with MaryK about the new cover. WOW!

    Reply
  117. Don’t you sometimes think it’s about reader expectation? I’ve discussed this with a lot of my writer friends, and I think the Heyer-esque “Regency world” (or even the Julia Quinn Regency World) that exists in many readers minds trumps all. The author can be 100%, totally accurate, etc., but if the feel of the world she’s created is too far off from the one the reader expected, then I think it can jar the reader and lead to a feeling that the book lacks authenticity. I know I got SLAMMED by one review site as being an extremely anachronistic writer. She didn’t point out any specifics that bothered her, so I’m left to assume that “my world” simply didn’t jive with her expectations (cause I’m pretty dang sure my book isn’t riddled with anachronisms).
    I try to think of it in the same way I do some of the “cheats” that we use in historical re-enactment for “theatrical purposes”. For example, I’ve worked with three different groups that do 16th century Landsknechts, two are “early” period (1500-1530) and one is late (1560-1590). The later one still encourages its members to wear the large “pizza” hats of the early period though, because it’s a good visual clue for the audience (since the basic costume has become VERY Spanish by that period).
    And I agree with MaryK about the new cover. WOW!

    Reply
  118. Don’t you sometimes think it’s about reader expectation? I’ve discussed this with a lot of my writer friends, and I think the Heyer-esque “Regency world” (or even the Julia Quinn Regency World) that exists in many readers minds trumps all. The author can be 100%, totally accurate, etc., but if the feel of the world she’s created is too far off from the one the reader expected, then I think it can jar the reader and lead to a feeling that the book lacks authenticity. I know I got SLAMMED by one review site as being an extremely anachronistic writer. She didn’t point out any specifics that bothered her, so I’m left to assume that “my world” simply didn’t jive with her expectations (cause I’m pretty dang sure my book isn’t riddled with anachronisms).
    I try to think of it in the same way I do some of the “cheats” that we use in historical re-enactment for “theatrical purposes”. For example, I’ve worked with three different groups that do 16th century Landsknechts, two are “early” period (1500-1530) and one is late (1560-1590). The later one still encourages its members to wear the large “pizza” hats of the early period though, because it’s a good visual clue for the audience (since the basic costume has become VERY Spanish by that period).
    And I agree with MaryK about the new cover. WOW!

    Reply
  119. Don’t you sometimes think it’s about reader expectation? I’ve discussed this with a lot of my writer friends, and I think the Heyer-esque “Regency world” (or even the Julia Quinn Regency World) that exists in many readers minds trumps all. The author can be 100%, totally accurate, etc., but if the feel of the world she’s created is too far off from the one the reader expected, then I think it can jar the reader and lead to a feeling that the book lacks authenticity. I know I got SLAMMED by one review site as being an extremely anachronistic writer. She didn’t point out any specifics that bothered her, so I’m left to assume that “my world” simply didn’t jive with her expectations (cause I’m pretty dang sure my book isn’t riddled with anachronisms).
    I try to think of it in the same way I do some of the “cheats” that we use in historical re-enactment for “theatrical purposes”. For example, I’ve worked with three different groups that do 16th century Landsknechts, two are “early” period (1500-1530) and one is late (1560-1590). The later one still encourages its members to wear the large “pizza” hats of the early period though, because it’s a good visual clue for the audience (since the basic costume has become VERY Spanish by that period).
    And I agree with MaryK about the new cover. WOW!

    Reply
  120. Don’t you sometimes think it’s about reader expectation? I’ve discussed this with a lot of my writer friends, and I think the Heyer-esque “Regency world” (or even the Julia Quinn Regency World) that exists in many readers minds trumps all. The author can be 100%, totally accurate, etc., but if the feel of the world she’s created is too far off from the one the reader expected, then I think it can jar the reader and lead to a feeling that the book lacks authenticity. I know I got SLAMMED by one review site as being an extremely anachronistic writer. She didn’t point out any specifics that bothered her, so I’m left to assume that “my world” simply didn’t jive with her expectations (cause I’m pretty dang sure my book isn’t riddled with anachronisms).
    I try to think of it in the same way I do some of the “cheats” that we use in historical re-enactment for “theatrical purposes”. For example, I’ve worked with three different groups that do 16th century Landsknechts, two are “early” period (1500-1530) and one is late (1560-1590). The later one still encourages its members to wear the large “pizza” hats of the early period though, because it’s a good visual clue for the audience (since the basic costume has become VERY Spanish by that period).
    And I agree with MaryK about the new cover. WOW!

    Reply
  121. Amazingly, I seem to be in agreement with most everything said. We are a generous group! I think errors are apt to be most jarring when an author happens to run up against something a reader knows. And the more historicals we read, the more we know. Which is why Carla’s original faux pas went unnoticed, but later writers researched the subject and the information became part of the lore. So if a writer mangles English titles, I’ll get twitchy, but if she mixes up a musket and a rifle, it has to be in an era where I happen to know the difference. What does bother me is that a writer has a certain responsibility to research the weapon being used. Everyone knows weapons change. That’s a given. If chocolates were a big part of my plot, I probably would have looked them up to be certain they were manufactured, because I know enough about candy to know it changes like weapons. But it’s the little things that slip by us–when is a couch a couch? When did a fork come into use? Unless we happen to know we’re in an era where forks aren’t being used, how do we know to research them? So I’m inclined to sink into the story unless I run into truly glaring anachronisms that are large enough to know the writer should have researched them.
    Which makes Kalen’s post interesting. Kalen, you must have seriously disturbed that reviewer’s sense of what she “knew.” You changed the world as that reviewer understood it. Which makes me wonder what in heck that reviewer has been reading!

    Reply
  122. Amazingly, I seem to be in agreement with most everything said. We are a generous group! I think errors are apt to be most jarring when an author happens to run up against something a reader knows. And the more historicals we read, the more we know. Which is why Carla’s original faux pas went unnoticed, but later writers researched the subject and the information became part of the lore. So if a writer mangles English titles, I’ll get twitchy, but if she mixes up a musket and a rifle, it has to be in an era where I happen to know the difference. What does bother me is that a writer has a certain responsibility to research the weapon being used. Everyone knows weapons change. That’s a given. If chocolates were a big part of my plot, I probably would have looked them up to be certain they were manufactured, because I know enough about candy to know it changes like weapons. But it’s the little things that slip by us–when is a couch a couch? When did a fork come into use? Unless we happen to know we’re in an era where forks aren’t being used, how do we know to research them? So I’m inclined to sink into the story unless I run into truly glaring anachronisms that are large enough to know the writer should have researched them.
    Which makes Kalen’s post interesting. Kalen, you must have seriously disturbed that reviewer’s sense of what she “knew.” You changed the world as that reviewer understood it. Which makes me wonder what in heck that reviewer has been reading!

    Reply
  123. Amazingly, I seem to be in agreement with most everything said. We are a generous group! I think errors are apt to be most jarring when an author happens to run up against something a reader knows. And the more historicals we read, the more we know. Which is why Carla’s original faux pas went unnoticed, but later writers researched the subject and the information became part of the lore. So if a writer mangles English titles, I’ll get twitchy, but if she mixes up a musket and a rifle, it has to be in an era where I happen to know the difference. What does bother me is that a writer has a certain responsibility to research the weapon being used. Everyone knows weapons change. That’s a given. If chocolates were a big part of my plot, I probably would have looked them up to be certain they were manufactured, because I know enough about candy to know it changes like weapons. But it’s the little things that slip by us–when is a couch a couch? When did a fork come into use? Unless we happen to know we’re in an era where forks aren’t being used, how do we know to research them? So I’m inclined to sink into the story unless I run into truly glaring anachronisms that are large enough to know the writer should have researched them.
    Which makes Kalen’s post interesting. Kalen, you must have seriously disturbed that reviewer’s sense of what she “knew.” You changed the world as that reviewer understood it. Which makes me wonder what in heck that reviewer has been reading!

    Reply
  124. Amazingly, I seem to be in agreement with most everything said. We are a generous group! I think errors are apt to be most jarring when an author happens to run up against something a reader knows. And the more historicals we read, the more we know. Which is why Carla’s original faux pas went unnoticed, but later writers researched the subject and the information became part of the lore. So if a writer mangles English titles, I’ll get twitchy, but if she mixes up a musket and a rifle, it has to be in an era where I happen to know the difference. What does bother me is that a writer has a certain responsibility to research the weapon being used. Everyone knows weapons change. That’s a given. If chocolates were a big part of my plot, I probably would have looked them up to be certain they were manufactured, because I know enough about candy to know it changes like weapons. But it’s the little things that slip by us–when is a couch a couch? When did a fork come into use? Unless we happen to know we’re in an era where forks aren’t being used, how do we know to research them? So I’m inclined to sink into the story unless I run into truly glaring anachronisms that are large enough to know the writer should have researched them.
    Which makes Kalen’s post interesting. Kalen, you must have seriously disturbed that reviewer’s sense of what she “knew.” You changed the world as that reviewer understood it. Which makes me wonder what in heck that reviewer has been reading!

    Reply
  125. Amazingly, I seem to be in agreement with most everything said. We are a generous group! I think errors are apt to be most jarring when an author happens to run up against something a reader knows. And the more historicals we read, the more we know. Which is why Carla’s original faux pas went unnoticed, but later writers researched the subject and the information became part of the lore. So if a writer mangles English titles, I’ll get twitchy, but if she mixes up a musket and a rifle, it has to be in an era where I happen to know the difference. What does bother me is that a writer has a certain responsibility to research the weapon being used. Everyone knows weapons change. That’s a given. If chocolates were a big part of my plot, I probably would have looked them up to be certain they were manufactured, because I know enough about candy to know it changes like weapons. But it’s the little things that slip by us–when is a couch a couch? When did a fork come into use? Unless we happen to know we’re in an era where forks aren’t being used, how do we know to research them? So I’m inclined to sink into the story unless I run into truly glaring anachronisms that are large enough to know the writer should have researched them.
    Which makes Kalen’s post interesting. Kalen, you must have seriously disturbed that reviewer’s sense of what she “knew.” You changed the world as that reviewer understood it. Which makes me wonder what in heck that reviewer has been reading!

    Reply
  126. I think my book rubbed the reviewer wrong in every way. She loathed my heroine (three whole paragraphs about how awful she is, and how she wouldn’t be any more likeable in a better book) and then the reviewer went on to say I couldn’t set a scene, and that all the details I used were anachronistic. I’d been a little crushed until I got to the bit about my details being anachronistic. Suddenly the review was kind of funny, because I could dismiss it. I was tempted to email her and offer to cite my sources (I mean, I am the documentation wonk), but I resisted the urge.
    I accept that this woman is “not in my million” as Sabrina Jeffries would say.

    Reply
  127. I think my book rubbed the reviewer wrong in every way. She loathed my heroine (three whole paragraphs about how awful she is, and how she wouldn’t be any more likeable in a better book) and then the reviewer went on to say I couldn’t set a scene, and that all the details I used were anachronistic. I’d been a little crushed until I got to the bit about my details being anachronistic. Suddenly the review was kind of funny, because I could dismiss it. I was tempted to email her and offer to cite my sources (I mean, I am the documentation wonk), but I resisted the urge.
    I accept that this woman is “not in my million” as Sabrina Jeffries would say.

    Reply
  128. I think my book rubbed the reviewer wrong in every way. She loathed my heroine (three whole paragraphs about how awful she is, and how she wouldn’t be any more likeable in a better book) and then the reviewer went on to say I couldn’t set a scene, and that all the details I used were anachronistic. I’d been a little crushed until I got to the bit about my details being anachronistic. Suddenly the review was kind of funny, because I could dismiss it. I was tempted to email her and offer to cite my sources (I mean, I am the documentation wonk), but I resisted the urge.
    I accept that this woman is “not in my million” as Sabrina Jeffries would say.

    Reply
  129. I think my book rubbed the reviewer wrong in every way. She loathed my heroine (three whole paragraphs about how awful she is, and how she wouldn’t be any more likeable in a better book) and then the reviewer went on to say I couldn’t set a scene, and that all the details I used were anachronistic. I’d been a little crushed until I got to the bit about my details being anachronistic. Suddenly the review was kind of funny, because I could dismiss it. I was tempted to email her and offer to cite my sources (I mean, I am the documentation wonk), but I resisted the urge.
    I accept that this woman is “not in my million” as Sabrina Jeffries would say.

    Reply
  130. I think my book rubbed the reviewer wrong in every way. She loathed my heroine (three whole paragraphs about how awful she is, and how she wouldn’t be any more likeable in a better book) and then the reviewer went on to say I couldn’t set a scene, and that all the details I used were anachronistic. I’d been a little crushed until I got to the bit about my details being anachronistic. Suddenly the review was kind of funny, because I could dismiss it. I was tempted to email her and offer to cite my sources (I mean, I am the documentation wonk), but I resisted the urge.
    I accept that this woman is “not in my million” as Sabrina Jeffries would say.

    Reply
  131. Jo here
    Edith, how interesting about that Mark Twain error. I wondered about that, but I’ve also read it elsewhere. Did they test it on people who’d worn long skirts all their lives, though?
    Janga, good point about readers being wrong. I’d hope a reader would do some checking for herself and/or contact the author. I don’t mind hearing about possible errors. If true, I learn. If not, I can correct the impression.
    And as Kalen pointed out, reader expectations of general accuracy can be way out. IMO reader reluctance to read medievals is because they’re convinced everyone was dragging themselves across filthy rushes, scratching their flea-bites and mumbling around their few remaining rotting teeth in their gloomy gray castle until they died at 35.
    Mary, glad you like the cover. It is lovely.
    Wench Pat said, “When did a fork come into use?” This is an interesting one, because in my research for A Lady’s Secret I learned that the cutlery provided in French inns was inadequate and that people should take their own. The fork provided was described as spoon shaped with two tines. I decided to ignore the issue. There was no plot point that would be affected by the cutlery and so all I’d be doing was information dumping. Or that’s how I see it.
    Jo

    Reply
  132. Jo here
    Edith, how interesting about that Mark Twain error. I wondered about that, but I’ve also read it elsewhere. Did they test it on people who’d worn long skirts all their lives, though?
    Janga, good point about readers being wrong. I’d hope a reader would do some checking for herself and/or contact the author. I don’t mind hearing about possible errors. If true, I learn. If not, I can correct the impression.
    And as Kalen pointed out, reader expectations of general accuracy can be way out. IMO reader reluctance to read medievals is because they’re convinced everyone was dragging themselves across filthy rushes, scratching their flea-bites and mumbling around their few remaining rotting teeth in their gloomy gray castle until they died at 35.
    Mary, glad you like the cover. It is lovely.
    Wench Pat said, “When did a fork come into use?” This is an interesting one, because in my research for A Lady’s Secret I learned that the cutlery provided in French inns was inadequate and that people should take their own. The fork provided was described as spoon shaped with two tines. I decided to ignore the issue. There was no plot point that would be affected by the cutlery and so all I’d be doing was information dumping. Or that’s how I see it.
    Jo

    Reply
  133. Jo here
    Edith, how interesting about that Mark Twain error. I wondered about that, but I’ve also read it elsewhere. Did they test it on people who’d worn long skirts all their lives, though?
    Janga, good point about readers being wrong. I’d hope a reader would do some checking for herself and/or contact the author. I don’t mind hearing about possible errors. If true, I learn. If not, I can correct the impression.
    And as Kalen pointed out, reader expectations of general accuracy can be way out. IMO reader reluctance to read medievals is because they’re convinced everyone was dragging themselves across filthy rushes, scratching their flea-bites and mumbling around their few remaining rotting teeth in their gloomy gray castle until they died at 35.
    Mary, glad you like the cover. It is lovely.
    Wench Pat said, “When did a fork come into use?” This is an interesting one, because in my research for A Lady’s Secret I learned that the cutlery provided in French inns was inadequate and that people should take their own. The fork provided was described as spoon shaped with two tines. I decided to ignore the issue. There was no plot point that would be affected by the cutlery and so all I’d be doing was information dumping. Or that’s how I see it.
    Jo

    Reply
  134. Jo here
    Edith, how interesting about that Mark Twain error. I wondered about that, but I’ve also read it elsewhere. Did they test it on people who’d worn long skirts all their lives, though?
    Janga, good point about readers being wrong. I’d hope a reader would do some checking for herself and/or contact the author. I don’t mind hearing about possible errors. If true, I learn. If not, I can correct the impression.
    And as Kalen pointed out, reader expectations of general accuracy can be way out. IMO reader reluctance to read medievals is because they’re convinced everyone was dragging themselves across filthy rushes, scratching their flea-bites and mumbling around their few remaining rotting teeth in their gloomy gray castle until they died at 35.
    Mary, glad you like the cover. It is lovely.
    Wench Pat said, “When did a fork come into use?” This is an interesting one, because in my research for A Lady’s Secret I learned that the cutlery provided in French inns was inadequate and that people should take their own. The fork provided was described as spoon shaped with two tines. I decided to ignore the issue. There was no plot point that would be affected by the cutlery and so all I’d be doing was information dumping. Or that’s how I see it.
    Jo

    Reply
  135. Jo here
    Edith, how interesting about that Mark Twain error. I wondered about that, but I’ve also read it elsewhere. Did they test it on people who’d worn long skirts all their lives, though?
    Janga, good point about readers being wrong. I’d hope a reader would do some checking for herself and/or contact the author. I don’t mind hearing about possible errors. If true, I learn. If not, I can correct the impression.
    And as Kalen pointed out, reader expectations of general accuracy can be way out. IMO reader reluctance to read medievals is because they’re convinced everyone was dragging themselves across filthy rushes, scratching their flea-bites and mumbling around their few remaining rotting teeth in their gloomy gray castle until they died at 35.
    Mary, glad you like the cover. It is lovely.
    Wench Pat said, “When did a fork come into use?” This is an interesting one, because in my research for A Lady’s Secret I learned that the cutlery provided in French inns was inadequate and that people should take their own. The fork provided was described as spoon shaped with two tines. I decided to ignore the issue. There was no plot point that would be affected by the cutlery and so all I’d be doing was information dumping. Or that’s how I see it.
    Jo

    Reply
  136. Like most readers here, I can easily forgive and ignore minor errors if a book is generally well-written and enjoyable. Nobody is perfect.
    But if an author chooses to write a story set in a certain time and place, then she really should NOT get major, fundamental facts wrong. That surely indicates that she has no real interest in that era – so why on earth write about it? Geographical facts: if a writer doesn’t know how far Gretna is from London, then she should look at a *map*, for goodness’ sake. That sort of thing is (and always has been) much easier to check than the subtle details of social class mores, language, or the precise construction of undergarments.
    Jo’s defence of editors and others in publishing houses is noble, but I have to tell her that I have a list of errors in my own published work that were demonstrably introduced *after* page-proofs had been checked and passed, both from letterpress days and since the introduction of electronic methods. It certainly happens.
    🙂

    Reply
  137. Like most readers here, I can easily forgive and ignore minor errors if a book is generally well-written and enjoyable. Nobody is perfect.
    But if an author chooses to write a story set in a certain time and place, then she really should NOT get major, fundamental facts wrong. That surely indicates that she has no real interest in that era – so why on earth write about it? Geographical facts: if a writer doesn’t know how far Gretna is from London, then she should look at a *map*, for goodness’ sake. That sort of thing is (and always has been) much easier to check than the subtle details of social class mores, language, or the precise construction of undergarments.
    Jo’s defence of editors and others in publishing houses is noble, but I have to tell her that I have a list of errors in my own published work that were demonstrably introduced *after* page-proofs had been checked and passed, both from letterpress days and since the introduction of electronic methods. It certainly happens.
    🙂

    Reply
  138. Like most readers here, I can easily forgive and ignore minor errors if a book is generally well-written and enjoyable. Nobody is perfect.
    But if an author chooses to write a story set in a certain time and place, then she really should NOT get major, fundamental facts wrong. That surely indicates that she has no real interest in that era – so why on earth write about it? Geographical facts: if a writer doesn’t know how far Gretna is from London, then she should look at a *map*, for goodness’ sake. That sort of thing is (and always has been) much easier to check than the subtle details of social class mores, language, or the precise construction of undergarments.
    Jo’s defence of editors and others in publishing houses is noble, but I have to tell her that I have a list of errors in my own published work that were demonstrably introduced *after* page-proofs had been checked and passed, both from letterpress days and since the introduction of electronic methods. It certainly happens.
    🙂

    Reply
  139. Like most readers here, I can easily forgive and ignore minor errors if a book is generally well-written and enjoyable. Nobody is perfect.
    But if an author chooses to write a story set in a certain time and place, then she really should NOT get major, fundamental facts wrong. That surely indicates that she has no real interest in that era – so why on earth write about it? Geographical facts: if a writer doesn’t know how far Gretna is from London, then she should look at a *map*, for goodness’ sake. That sort of thing is (and always has been) much easier to check than the subtle details of social class mores, language, or the precise construction of undergarments.
    Jo’s defence of editors and others in publishing houses is noble, but I have to tell her that I have a list of errors in my own published work that were demonstrably introduced *after* page-proofs had been checked and passed, both from letterpress days and since the introduction of electronic methods. It certainly happens.
    🙂

    Reply
  140. Like most readers here, I can easily forgive and ignore minor errors if a book is generally well-written and enjoyable. Nobody is perfect.
    But if an author chooses to write a story set in a certain time and place, then she really should NOT get major, fundamental facts wrong. That surely indicates that she has no real interest in that era – so why on earth write about it? Geographical facts: if a writer doesn’t know how far Gretna is from London, then she should look at a *map*, for goodness’ sake. That sort of thing is (and always has been) much easier to check than the subtle details of social class mores, language, or the precise construction of undergarments.
    Jo’s defence of editors and others in publishing houses is noble, but I have to tell her that I have a list of errors in my own published work that were demonstrably introduced *after* page-proofs had been checked and passed, both from letterpress days and since the introduction of electronic methods. It certainly happens.
    🙂

    Reply
  141. What about dates and time in historicals? In Kelly’s Mrs Drew Plays her Hand (w/c is a favourite, btw), the epilogue was a letter wherein the date was Dec. 15, 1817 and Winn was saying that their baby was delivered at 3:30 o’clock. I’m not an expert about these things but I was really bothered by that. Maybe because I still write the date by day, month and year and I would have written the time as half past three. In A Most Unsuitable Man, Rothgar and Damaris were discussing her age as twenty one. Again, I would have prefered the use of one and twenty and not twenty one.

    Reply
  142. What about dates and time in historicals? In Kelly’s Mrs Drew Plays her Hand (w/c is a favourite, btw), the epilogue was a letter wherein the date was Dec. 15, 1817 and Winn was saying that their baby was delivered at 3:30 o’clock. I’m not an expert about these things but I was really bothered by that. Maybe because I still write the date by day, month and year and I would have written the time as half past three. In A Most Unsuitable Man, Rothgar and Damaris were discussing her age as twenty one. Again, I would have prefered the use of one and twenty and not twenty one.

    Reply
  143. What about dates and time in historicals? In Kelly’s Mrs Drew Plays her Hand (w/c is a favourite, btw), the epilogue was a letter wherein the date was Dec. 15, 1817 and Winn was saying that their baby was delivered at 3:30 o’clock. I’m not an expert about these things but I was really bothered by that. Maybe because I still write the date by day, month and year and I would have written the time as half past three. In A Most Unsuitable Man, Rothgar and Damaris were discussing her age as twenty one. Again, I would have prefered the use of one and twenty and not twenty one.

    Reply
  144. What about dates and time in historicals? In Kelly’s Mrs Drew Plays her Hand (w/c is a favourite, btw), the epilogue was a letter wherein the date was Dec. 15, 1817 and Winn was saying that their baby was delivered at 3:30 o’clock. I’m not an expert about these things but I was really bothered by that. Maybe because I still write the date by day, month and year and I would have written the time as half past three. In A Most Unsuitable Man, Rothgar and Damaris were discussing her age as twenty one. Again, I would have prefered the use of one and twenty and not twenty one.

    Reply
  145. What about dates and time in historicals? In Kelly’s Mrs Drew Plays her Hand (w/c is a favourite, btw), the epilogue was a letter wherein the date was Dec. 15, 1817 and Winn was saying that their baby was delivered at 3:30 o’clock. I’m not an expert about these things but I was really bothered by that. Maybe because I still write the date by day, month and year and I would have written the time as half past three. In A Most Unsuitable Man, Rothgar and Damaris were discussing her age as twenty one. Again, I would have prefered the use of one and twenty and not twenty one.

    Reply
  146. Jo here.
    Interesting, Ag Tigress. Thanks for adding your take.
    Cory, the sort of thing you mention is always a delicate choice. In writing in the recent past — say the last few hundred years — the author has to decide whether to attempt to reproduce the language of the time or modify it for the modern reader.
    I choose to do the latter, attempting a language that isn’t jarringly modern but also doesn’t sound archaic. Also, if a writer puts in things like one-and-twenty, they can’t, IMO, sprinkle them around. The usage of archaic forms has to go much deeper and I think that would be a barrier to the story for many readers. Like some books where the author pops in the occasional “mayhap” or “twas” but otherwise doesn’t bother at all.
    But again, another subject that would make a fascinating blog. Let’s see… I’m back on the 26th!
    Jo

    Reply
  147. Jo here.
    Interesting, Ag Tigress. Thanks for adding your take.
    Cory, the sort of thing you mention is always a delicate choice. In writing in the recent past — say the last few hundred years — the author has to decide whether to attempt to reproduce the language of the time or modify it for the modern reader.
    I choose to do the latter, attempting a language that isn’t jarringly modern but also doesn’t sound archaic. Also, if a writer puts in things like one-and-twenty, they can’t, IMO, sprinkle them around. The usage of archaic forms has to go much deeper and I think that would be a barrier to the story for many readers. Like some books where the author pops in the occasional “mayhap” or “twas” but otherwise doesn’t bother at all.
    But again, another subject that would make a fascinating blog. Let’s see… I’m back on the 26th!
    Jo

    Reply
  148. Jo here.
    Interesting, Ag Tigress. Thanks for adding your take.
    Cory, the sort of thing you mention is always a delicate choice. In writing in the recent past — say the last few hundred years — the author has to decide whether to attempt to reproduce the language of the time or modify it for the modern reader.
    I choose to do the latter, attempting a language that isn’t jarringly modern but also doesn’t sound archaic. Also, if a writer puts in things like one-and-twenty, they can’t, IMO, sprinkle them around. The usage of archaic forms has to go much deeper and I think that would be a barrier to the story for many readers. Like some books where the author pops in the occasional “mayhap” or “twas” but otherwise doesn’t bother at all.
    But again, another subject that would make a fascinating blog. Let’s see… I’m back on the 26th!
    Jo

    Reply
  149. Jo here.
    Interesting, Ag Tigress. Thanks for adding your take.
    Cory, the sort of thing you mention is always a delicate choice. In writing in the recent past — say the last few hundred years — the author has to decide whether to attempt to reproduce the language of the time or modify it for the modern reader.
    I choose to do the latter, attempting a language that isn’t jarringly modern but also doesn’t sound archaic. Also, if a writer puts in things like one-and-twenty, they can’t, IMO, sprinkle them around. The usage of archaic forms has to go much deeper and I think that would be a barrier to the story for many readers. Like some books where the author pops in the occasional “mayhap” or “twas” but otherwise doesn’t bother at all.
    But again, another subject that would make a fascinating blog. Let’s see… I’m back on the 26th!
    Jo

    Reply
  150. Jo here.
    Interesting, Ag Tigress. Thanks for adding your take.
    Cory, the sort of thing you mention is always a delicate choice. In writing in the recent past — say the last few hundred years — the author has to decide whether to attempt to reproduce the language of the time or modify it for the modern reader.
    I choose to do the latter, attempting a language that isn’t jarringly modern but also doesn’t sound archaic. Also, if a writer puts in things like one-and-twenty, they can’t, IMO, sprinkle them around. The usage of archaic forms has to go much deeper and I think that would be a barrier to the story for many readers. Like some books where the author pops in the occasional “mayhap” or “twas” but otherwise doesn’t bother at all.
    But again, another subject that would make a fascinating blog. Let’s see… I’m back on the 26th!
    Jo

    Reply
  151. As for twenty-one vs. one-and-twenty, there’s a passage in Sense & Sensibility, early in the book, where Marianne is talking about Col. Brandon being too old for love, but perhaps still an acceptable match for a woman of 27 or so who needs the stability of matrimony. In her discussion with Elinor, her own age of 17 is always written as “seventeen” (never “seven-and-ten” as I’ve seen in a few romances and more than a few RWA contest entries), but 27 is sometimes “twenty-seven” and other times “seven-and-twenty.” So, both sound authentic to me for Georgian and Regency settings, and in my own writing I mix them, using whichever seems to fit the POV character and the rhythm of the sentence.

    Reply
  152. As for twenty-one vs. one-and-twenty, there’s a passage in Sense & Sensibility, early in the book, where Marianne is talking about Col. Brandon being too old for love, but perhaps still an acceptable match for a woman of 27 or so who needs the stability of matrimony. In her discussion with Elinor, her own age of 17 is always written as “seventeen” (never “seven-and-ten” as I’ve seen in a few romances and more than a few RWA contest entries), but 27 is sometimes “twenty-seven” and other times “seven-and-twenty.” So, both sound authentic to me for Georgian and Regency settings, and in my own writing I mix them, using whichever seems to fit the POV character and the rhythm of the sentence.

    Reply
  153. As for twenty-one vs. one-and-twenty, there’s a passage in Sense & Sensibility, early in the book, where Marianne is talking about Col. Brandon being too old for love, but perhaps still an acceptable match for a woman of 27 or so who needs the stability of matrimony. In her discussion with Elinor, her own age of 17 is always written as “seventeen” (never “seven-and-ten” as I’ve seen in a few romances and more than a few RWA contest entries), but 27 is sometimes “twenty-seven” and other times “seven-and-twenty.” So, both sound authentic to me for Georgian and Regency settings, and in my own writing I mix them, using whichever seems to fit the POV character and the rhythm of the sentence.

    Reply
  154. As for twenty-one vs. one-and-twenty, there’s a passage in Sense & Sensibility, early in the book, where Marianne is talking about Col. Brandon being too old for love, but perhaps still an acceptable match for a woman of 27 or so who needs the stability of matrimony. In her discussion with Elinor, her own age of 17 is always written as “seventeen” (never “seven-and-ten” as I’ve seen in a few romances and more than a few RWA contest entries), but 27 is sometimes “twenty-seven” and other times “seven-and-twenty.” So, both sound authentic to me for Georgian and Regency settings, and in my own writing I mix them, using whichever seems to fit the POV character and the rhythm of the sentence.

    Reply
  155. As for twenty-one vs. one-and-twenty, there’s a passage in Sense & Sensibility, early in the book, where Marianne is talking about Col. Brandon being too old for love, but perhaps still an acceptable match for a woman of 27 or so who needs the stability of matrimony. In her discussion with Elinor, her own age of 17 is always written as “seventeen” (never “seven-and-ten” as I’ve seen in a few romances and more than a few RWA contest entries), but 27 is sometimes “twenty-seven” and other times “seven-and-twenty.” So, both sound authentic to me for Georgian and Regency settings, and in my own writing I mix them, using whichever seems to fit the POV character and the rhythm of the sentence.

    Reply
  156. I’m currently reading LOS again and Chase actually uses those “archaic” forms for numbers. Somehow, it just seems to sound right IMO, not only because the book was set in the 1800’s (which is rather an archaic setting to me) but also because Loretta Chase is one of the few writers who comes quite close to imitating the flow of spoken english when she writes. At least, my notion of it. I live in Hong Kong, w/c until recently, was a British colony and we do still write the date by day/month/year and say the time like half past three so there’s nothing archaic sounding about that at all. As for numbers, I do say them as twenty seven for example and not as seven and twenty. I guess, whatever way it is said and written doesn’t matter at all in the long run.

    Reply
  157. I’m currently reading LOS again and Chase actually uses those “archaic” forms for numbers. Somehow, it just seems to sound right IMO, not only because the book was set in the 1800’s (which is rather an archaic setting to me) but also because Loretta Chase is one of the few writers who comes quite close to imitating the flow of spoken english when she writes. At least, my notion of it. I live in Hong Kong, w/c until recently, was a British colony and we do still write the date by day/month/year and say the time like half past three so there’s nothing archaic sounding about that at all. As for numbers, I do say them as twenty seven for example and not as seven and twenty. I guess, whatever way it is said and written doesn’t matter at all in the long run.

    Reply
  158. I’m currently reading LOS again and Chase actually uses those “archaic” forms for numbers. Somehow, it just seems to sound right IMO, not only because the book was set in the 1800’s (which is rather an archaic setting to me) but also because Loretta Chase is one of the few writers who comes quite close to imitating the flow of spoken english when she writes. At least, my notion of it. I live in Hong Kong, w/c until recently, was a British colony and we do still write the date by day/month/year and say the time like half past three so there’s nothing archaic sounding about that at all. As for numbers, I do say them as twenty seven for example and not as seven and twenty. I guess, whatever way it is said and written doesn’t matter at all in the long run.

    Reply
  159. I’m currently reading LOS again and Chase actually uses those “archaic” forms for numbers. Somehow, it just seems to sound right IMO, not only because the book was set in the 1800’s (which is rather an archaic setting to me) but also because Loretta Chase is one of the few writers who comes quite close to imitating the flow of spoken english when she writes. At least, my notion of it. I live in Hong Kong, w/c until recently, was a British colony and we do still write the date by day/month/year and say the time like half past three so there’s nothing archaic sounding about that at all. As for numbers, I do say them as twenty seven for example and not as seven and twenty. I guess, whatever way it is said and written doesn’t matter at all in the long run.

    Reply
  160. I’m currently reading LOS again and Chase actually uses those “archaic” forms for numbers. Somehow, it just seems to sound right IMO, not only because the book was set in the 1800’s (which is rather an archaic setting to me) but also because Loretta Chase is one of the few writers who comes quite close to imitating the flow of spoken english when she writes. At least, my notion of it. I live in Hong Kong, w/c until recently, was a British colony and we do still write the date by day/month/year and say the time like half past three so there’s nothing archaic sounding about that at all. As for numbers, I do say them as twenty seven for example and not as seven and twenty. I guess, whatever way it is said and written doesn’t matter at all in the long run.

    Reply
  161. Yes, Susan, we do genuinely have alternatives. It’s like “teen” itself, which was used but sounds modern to many.
    It’s very interesting isn’t it, Anne. We have language we expect from a historical period — but it’s a little different for all of us, even when we want it to sound “right.”
    Being English born and bred, I have a natural English flow to my language, though 30 years in North American had muddied it a bit, so I let that free in my historicals, but I also try to avoid anything ambiguous or jarring for North American readers.
    I’d never use “sidewalk” for example, but I also avoid “pavement” which would be the English alternative.
    I shudder at “gotten” (yes, I know that it was used in England in the past, but not in my periods in any normal way)but know most North Americans would read “How had he got her address?” as horribly wrong. Fortunately got is a word best avoided anyway. There’s always an alternative.
    Jo

    Reply
  162. Yes, Susan, we do genuinely have alternatives. It’s like “teen” itself, which was used but sounds modern to many.
    It’s very interesting isn’t it, Anne. We have language we expect from a historical period — but it’s a little different for all of us, even when we want it to sound “right.”
    Being English born and bred, I have a natural English flow to my language, though 30 years in North American had muddied it a bit, so I let that free in my historicals, but I also try to avoid anything ambiguous or jarring for North American readers.
    I’d never use “sidewalk” for example, but I also avoid “pavement” which would be the English alternative.
    I shudder at “gotten” (yes, I know that it was used in England in the past, but not in my periods in any normal way)but know most North Americans would read “How had he got her address?” as horribly wrong. Fortunately got is a word best avoided anyway. There’s always an alternative.
    Jo

    Reply
  163. Yes, Susan, we do genuinely have alternatives. It’s like “teen” itself, which was used but sounds modern to many.
    It’s very interesting isn’t it, Anne. We have language we expect from a historical period — but it’s a little different for all of us, even when we want it to sound “right.”
    Being English born and bred, I have a natural English flow to my language, though 30 years in North American had muddied it a bit, so I let that free in my historicals, but I also try to avoid anything ambiguous or jarring for North American readers.
    I’d never use “sidewalk” for example, but I also avoid “pavement” which would be the English alternative.
    I shudder at “gotten” (yes, I know that it was used in England in the past, but not in my periods in any normal way)but know most North Americans would read “How had he got her address?” as horribly wrong. Fortunately got is a word best avoided anyway. There’s always an alternative.
    Jo

    Reply
  164. Yes, Susan, we do genuinely have alternatives. It’s like “teen” itself, which was used but sounds modern to many.
    It’s very interesting isn’t it, Anne. We have language we expect from a historical period — but it’s a little different for all of us, even when we want it to sound “right.”
    Being English born and bred, I have a natural English flow to my language, though 30 years in North American had muddied it a bit, so I let that free in my historicals, but I also try to avoid anything ambiguous or jarring for North American readers.
    I’d never use “sidewalk” for example, but I also avoid “pavement” which would be the English alternative.
    I shudder at “gotten” (yes, I know that it was used in England in the past, but not in my periods in any normal way)but know most North Americans would read “How had he got her address?” as horribly wrong. Fortunately got is a word best avoided anyway. There’s always an alternative.
    Jo

    Reply
  165. Yes, Susan, we do genuinely have alternatives. It’s like “teen” itself, which was used but sounds modern to many.
    It’s very interesting isn’t it, Anne. We have language we expect from a historical period — but it’s a little different for all of us, even when we want it to sound “right.”
    Being English born and bred, I have a natural English flow to my language, though 30 years in North American had muddied it a bit, so I let that free in my historicals, but I also try to avoid anything ambiguous or jarring for North American readers.
    I’d never use “sidewalk” for example, but I also avoid “pavement” which would be the English alternative.
    I shudder at “gotten” (yes, I know that it was used in England in the past, but not in my periods in any normal way)but know most North Americans would read “How had he got her address?” as horribly wrong. Fortunately got is a word best avoided anyway. There’s always an alternative.
    Jo

    Reply
  166. Just to mention one instance of when an author had the right of something and it was changed. When I was at an RT conference, I met a writer whose book I had read not long before. I had noticed a mistake in it. I can’t recall exactly what it was, but I think it may have had to do with a German expression. Since I lived in Germany for over 10 years, I talked to her about it. She told me that her original manuscript had what I suggested. When she got it back the first time, it had been changed to read incorrectly. She corrected the mistake. When she got the book back for the final reading, the mistake appeared again. She did not call the editor on it and just let it go because she figured it was too much trouble and a lot of people wouldn’t recognize it as a mistake anyway.
    I agree with Maggie that, on the whole, grammar and vocabulary mistakes annoy me much more than some inaccuracies. As a teacher of ESL, I find that there is not enough editing and proofreading in most books. I know that different publishers have differing degrees of proofreading. Some writing is pure hogwash with poor logic in some of the expressions even in contemporary writing. How many times have I seen “she could care less” when the author obviously meant to say “she didn’t care in the least” or “she couldn’t care less.” Or someone uses words that make a double negative unrelated to the “not…hardly” type of construction and leaves me wondering at the author’s skill and logic.
    I love history almost as much as languages and am fairly fluent in French as well as the two already mentioned. I love to learn new historical facts or get the feel of a historical period from the books I read. I want to know what people were like then, without an imposition of what they are like now.
    The one thing I really find most annoying is when writers misjudge distances. I’m not sure how far it is from Yorkshire to “just outside London” but I’m sure that it wasn’t just a matter of a day’s ride. I just know that by tour bus, we took several days to get back to London. Certainly, we stopped along the way for the sights but I figure we travelled as much per day as most people would have by carriage. As someone mentioned above, the poor horses that must have been killed or injured in this manner.
    One of the first historical romances, as opposed to what I call historical novels, that I read had some people roaming all over Russia to find pasture for their herd of horses. Then they rode to a city some distance from Moscow one morning and went on to Moscow to attack it after a leisurely meal. I was flummoxed. It was a good thing that name never appeared on another book. I definitely swore off that writer immediately.
    And yes, I sometimes think that with the number of promiscuous people in books as representatives of the whole country in historicals, the world should be in an awful fix. It’s a wonder any of the children survived, given the effect of venereal diseases. Certainly, promiscuity happened/happens all the time but free love hasn’t been universally sanctioned until the present generation as I see it.

    Reply
  167. Just to mention one instance of when an author had the right of something and it was changed. When I was at an RT conference, I met a writer whose book I had read not long before. I had noticed a mistake in it. I can’t recall exactly what it was, but I think it may have had to do with a German expression. Since I lived in Germany for over 10 years, I talked to her about it. She told me that her original manuscript had what I suggested. When she got it back the first time, it had been changed to read incorrectly. She corrected the mistake. When she got the book back for the final reading, the mistake appeared again. She did not call the editor on it and just let it go because she figured it was too much trouble and a lot of people wouldn’t recognize it as a mistake anyway.
    I agree with Maggie that, on the whole, grammar and vocabulary mistakes annoy me much more than some inaccuracies. As a teacher of ESL, I find that there is not enough editing and proofreading in most books. I know that different publishers have differing degrees of proofreading. Some writing is pure hogwash with poor logic in some of the expressions even in contemporary writing. How many times have I seen “she could care less” when the author obviously meant to say “she didn’t care in the least” or “she couldn’t care less.” Or someone uses words that make a double negative unrelated to the “not…hardly” type of construction and leaves me wondering at the author’s skill and logic.
    I love history almost as much as languages and am fairly fluent in French as well as the two already mentioned. I love to learn new historical facts or get the feel of a historical period from the books I read. I want to know what people were like then, without an imposition of what they are like now.
    The one thing I really find most annoying is when writers misjudge distances. I’m not sure how far it is from Yorkshire to “just outside London” but I’m sure that it wasn’t just a matter of a day’s ride. I just know that by tour bus, we took several days to get back to London. Certainly, we stopped along the way for the sights but I figure we travelled as much per day as most people would have by carriage. As someone mentioned above, the poor horses that must have been killed or injured in this manner.
    One of the first historical romances, as opposed to what I call historical novels, that I read had some people roaming all over Russia to find pasture for their herd of horses. Then they rode to a city some distance from Moscow one morning and went on to Moscow to attack it after a leisurely meal. I was flummoxed. It was a good thing that name never appeared on another book. I definitely swore off that writer immediately.
    And yes, I sometimes think that with the number of promiscuous people in books as representatives of the whole country in historicals, the world should be in an awful fix. It’s a wonder any of the children survived, given the effect of venereal diseases. Certainly, promiscuity happened/happens all the time but free love hasn’t been universally sanctioned until the present generation as I see it.

    Reply
  168. Just to mention one instance of when an author had the right of something and it was changed. When I was at an RT conference, I met a writer whose book I had read not long before. I had noticed a mistake in it. I can’t recall exactly what it was, but I think it may have had to do with a German expression. Since I lived in Germany for over 10 years, I talked to her about it. She told me that her original manuscript had what I suggested. When she got it back the first time, it had been changed to read incorrectly. She corrected the mistake. When she got the book back for the final reading, the mistake appeared again. She did not call the editor on it and just let it go because she figured it was too much trouble and a lot of people wouldn’t recognize it as a mistake anyway.
    I agree with Maggie that, on the whole, grammar and vocabulary mistakes annoy me much more than some inaccuracies. As a teacher of ESL, I find that there is not enough editing and proofreading in most books. I know that different publishers have differing degrees of proofreading. Some writing is pure hogwash with poor logic in some of the expressions even in contemporary writing. How many times have I seen “she could care less” when the author obviously meant to say “she didn’t care in the least” or “she couldn’t care less.” Or someone uses words that make a double negative unrelated to the “not…hardly” type of construction and leaves me wondering at the author’s skill and logic.
    I love history almost as much as languages and am fairly fluent in French as well as the two already mentioned. I love to learn new historical facts or get the feel of a historical period from the books I read. I want to know what people were like then, without an imposition of what they are like now.
    The one thing I really find most annoying is when writers misjudge distances. I’m not sure how far it is from Yorkshire to “just outside London” but I’m sure that it wasn’t just a matter of a day’s ride. I just know that by tour bus, we took several days to get back to London. Certainly, we stopped along the way for the sights but I figure we travelled as much per day as most people would have by carriage. As someone mentioned above, the poor horses that must have been killed or injured in this manner.
    One of the first historical romances, as opposed to what I call historical novels, that I read had some people roaming all over Russia to find pasture for their herd of horses. Then they rode to a city some distance from Moscow one morning and went on to Moscow to attack it after a leisurely meal. I was flummoxed. It was a good thing that name never appeared on another book. I definitely swore off that writer immediately.
    And yes, I sometimes think that with the number of promiscuous people in books as representatives of the whole country in historicals, the world should be in an awful fix. It’s a wonder any of the children survived, given the effect of venereal diseases. Certainly, promiscuity happened/happens all the time but free love hasn’t been universally sanctioned until the present generation as I see it.

    Reply
  169. Just to mention one instance of when an author had the right of something and it was changed. When I was at an RT conference, I met a writer whose book I had read not long before. I had noticed a mistake in it. I can’t recall exactly what it was, but I think it may have had to do with a German expression. Since I lived in Germany for over 10 years, I talked to her about it. She told me that her original manuscript had what I suggested. When she got it back the first time, it had been changed to read incorrectly. She corrected the mistake. When she got the book back for the final reading, the mistake appeared again. She did not call the editor on it and just let it go because she figured it was too much trouble and a lot of people wouldn’t recognize it as a mistake anyway.
    I agree with Maggie that, on the whole, grammar and vocabulary mistakes annoy me much more than some inaccuracies. As a teacher of ESL, I find that there is not enough editing and proofreading in most books. I know that different publishers have differing degrees of proofreading. Some writing is pure hogwash with poor logic in some of the expressions even in contemporary writing. How many times have I seen “she could care less” when the author obviously meant to say “she didn’t care in the least” or “she couldn’t care less.” Or someone uses words that make a double negative unrelated to the “not…hardly” type of construction and leaves me wondering at the author’s skill and logic.
    I love history almost as much as languages and am fairly fluent in French as well as the two already mentioned. I love to learn new historical facts or get the feel of a historical period from the books I read. I want to know what people were like then, without an imposition of what they are like now.
    The one thing I really find most annoying is when writers misjudge distances. I’m not sure how far it is from Yorkshire to “just outside London” but I’m sure that it wasn’t just a matter of a day’s ride. I just know that by tour bus, we took several days to get back to London. Certainly, we stopped along the way for the sights but I figure we travelled as much per day as most people would have by carriage. As someone mentioned above, the poor horses that must have been killed or injured in this manner.
    One of the first historical romances, as opposed to what I call historical novels, that I read had some people roaming all over Russia to find pasture for their herd of horses. Then they rode to a city some distance from Moscow one morning and went on to Moscow to attack it after a leisurely meal. I was flummoxed. It was a good thing that name never appeared on another book. I definitely swore off that writer immediately.
    And yes, I sometimes think that with the number of promiscuous people in books as representatives of the whole country in historicals, the world should be in an awful fix. It’s a wonder any of the children survived, given the effect of venereal diseases. Certainly, promiscuity happened/happens all the time but free love hasn’t been universally sanctioned until the present generation as I see it.

    Reply
  170. Just to mention one instance of when an author had the right of something and it was changed. When I was at an RT conference, I met a writer whose book I had read not long before. I had noticed a mistake in it. I can’t recall exactly what it was, but I think it may have had to do with a German expression. Since I lived in Germany for over 10 years, I talked to her about it. She told me that her original manuscript had what I suggested. When she got it back the first time, it had been changed to read incorrectly. She corrected the mistake. When she got the book back for the final reading, the mistake appeared again. She did not call the editor on it and just let it go because she figured it was too much trouble and a lot of people wouldn’t recognize it as a mistake anyway.
    I agree with Maggie that, on the whole, grammar and vocabulary mistakes annoy me much more than some inaccuracies. As a teacher of ESL, I find that there is not enough editing and proofreading in most books. I know that different publishers have differing degrees of proofreading. Some writing is pure hogwash with poor logic in some of the expressions even in contemporary writing. How many times have I seen “she could care less” when the author obviously meant to say “she didn’t care in the least” or “she couldn’t care less.” Or someone uses words that make a double negative unrelated to the “not…hardly” type of construction and leaves me wondering at the author’s skill and logic.
    I love history almost as much as languages and am fairly fluent in French as well as the two already mentioned. I love to learn new historical facts or get the feel of a historical period from the books I read. I want to know what people were like then, without an imposition of what they are like now.
    The one thing I really find most annoying is when writers misjudge distances. I’m not sure how far it is from Yorkshire to “just outside London” but I’m sure that it wasn’t just a matter of a day’s ride. I just know that by tour bus, we took several days to get back to London. Certainly, we stopped along the way for the sights but I figure we travelled as much per day as most people would have by carriage. As someone mentioned above, the poor horses that must have been killed or injured in this manner.
    One of the first historical romances, as opposed to what I call historical novels, that I read had some people roaming all over Russia to find pasture for their herd of horses. Then they rode to a city some distance from Moscow one morning and went on to Moscow to attack it after a leisurely meal. I was flummoxed. It was a good thing that name never appeared on another book. I definitely swore off that writer immediately.
    And yes, I sometimes think that with the number of promiscuous people in books as representatives of the whole country in historicals, the world should be in an awful fix. It’s a wonder any of the children survived, given the effect of venereal diseases. Certainly, promiscuity happened/happens all the time but free love hasn’t been universally sanctioned until the present generation as I see it.

    Reply
  171. BTW, when did a “glass of tea” become popular in England? Can anybody give me an idea?
    This came up in a book once and I just couldn’t believe it for the time given.

    Reply
  172. BTW, when did a “glass of tea” become popular in England? Can anybody give me an idea?
    This came up in a book once and I just couldn’t believe it for the time given.

    Reply
  173. BTW, when did a “glass of tea” become popular in England? Can anybody give me an idea?
    This came up in a book once and I just couldn’t believe it for the time given.

    Reply
  174. BTW, when did a “glass of tea” become popular in England? Can anybody give me an idea?
    This came up in a book once and I just couldn’t believe it for the time given.

    Reply
  175. BTW, when did a “glass of tea” become popular in England? Can anybody give me an idea?
    This came up in a book once and I just couldn’t believe it for the time given.

    Reply
  176. Hi Ranurgis, yes, distance errors irritate me, too, because again it’s so easy. A modern map, even Google maps, will give distances. A smidgen of knowledge of how people traveled in the past gives an idea of how long the journey would take.
    Certainly there were subtle factors such as the states of particular roads, whether there were bridges where there are bridges now etc, but I’ll forgive that. Assuming people can travel 200 miles a day on horseback, I won’t.
    As for the author that didn’t recorrect the German in the page proofs, that’s a shame. She’d obviously been cowed by the system. I’d have still given it my best shot, including a large red warning label.
    When making corrections on edited mss,I always write an explanation if I think there might be any second guessing. I suppose there are people at the publishers who think authors are stupid. But if we explain ourselves and maybe give a reference, they’ll learn from that.
    A glass of tea? Was it iced tea? I’ve never heard the term. There used to be Russian Tea, which was served in a tall glass cup, and IIRC was black tea with lemon.
    Write and ask the author? Seriously. She might well have reason for it and it would be interesting to know.
    As Janga said, we readers are sometimes wrong when we spot errors. OTOH, a word that seems to be an error is best avoided if possible.
    Jo

    Reply
  177. Hi Ranurgis, yes, distance errors irritate me, too, because again it’s so easy. A modern map, even Google maps, will give distances. A smidgen of knowledge of how people traveled in the past gives an idea of how long the journey would take.
    Certainly there were subtle factors such as the states of particular roads, whether there were bridges where there are bridges now etc, but I’ll forgive that. Assuming people can travel 200 miles a day on horseback, I won’t.
    As for the author that didn’t recorrect the German in the page proofs, that’s a shame. She’d obviously been cowed by the system. I’d have still given it my best shot, including a large red warning label.
    When making corrections on edited mss,I always write an explanation if I think there might be any second guessing. I suppose there are people at the publishers who think authors are stupid. But if we explain ourselves and maybe give a reference, they’ll learn from that.
    A glass of tea? Was it iced tea? I’ve never heard the term. There used to be Russian Tea, which was served in a tall glass cup, and IIRC was black tea with lemon.
    Write and ask the author? Seriously. She might well have reason for it and it would be interesting to know.
    As Janga said, we readers are sometimes wrong when we spot errors. OTOH, a word that seems to be an error is best avoided if possible.
    Jo

    Reply
  178. Hi Ranurgis, yes, distance errors irritate me, too, because again it’s so easy. A modern map, even Google maps, will give distances. A smidgen of knowledge of how people traveled in the past gives an idea of how long the journey would take.
    Certainly there were subtle factors such as the states of particular roads, whether there were bridges where there are bridges now etc, but I’ll forgive that. Assuming people can travel 200 miles a day on horseback, I won’t.
    As for the author that didn’t recorrect the German in the page proofs, that’s a shame. She’d obviously been cowed by the system. I’d have still given it my best shot, including a large red warning label.
    When making corrections on edited mss,I always write an explanation if I think there might be any second guessing. I suppose there are people at the publishers who think authors are stupid. But if we explain ourselves and maybe give a reference, they’ll learn from that.
    A glass of tea? Was it iced tea? I’ve never heard the term. There used to be Russian Tea, which was served in a tall glass cup, and IIRC was black tea with lemon.
    Write and ask the author? Seriously. She might well have reason for it and it would be interesting to know.
    As Janga said, we readers are sometimes wrong when we spot errors. OTOH, a word that seems to be an error is best avoided if possible.
    Jo

    Reply
  179. Hi Ranurgis, yes, distance errors irritate me, too, because again it’s so easy. A modern map, even Google maps, will give distances. A smidgen of knowledge of how people traveled in the past gives an idea of how long the journey would take.
    Certainly there were subtle factors such as the states of particular roads, whether there were bridges where there are bridges now etc, but I’ll forgive that. Assuming people can travel 200 miles a day on horseback, I won’t.
    As for the author that didn’t recorrect the German in the page proofs, that’s a shame. She’d obviously been cowed by the system. I’d have still given it my best shot, including a large red warning label.
    When making corrections on edited mss,I always write an explanation if I think there might be any second guessing. I suppose there are people at the publishers who think authors are stupid. But if we explain ourselves and maybe give a reference, they’ll learn from that.
    A glass of tea? Was it iced tea? I’ve never heard the term. There used to be Russian Tea, which was served in a tall glass cup, and IIRC was black tea with lemon.
    Write and ask the author? Seriously. She might well have reason for it and it would be interesting to know.
    As Janga said, we readers are sometimes wrong when we spot errors. OTOH, a word that seems to be an error is best avoided if possible.
    Jo

    Reply
  180. Hi Ranurgis, yes, distance errors irritate me, too, because again it’s so easy. A modern map, even Google maps, will give distances. A smidgen of knowledge of how people traveled in the past gives an idea of how long the journey would take.
    Certainly there were subtle factors such as the states of particular roads, whether there were bridges where there are bridges now etc, but I’ll forgive that. Assuming people can travel 200 miles a day on horseback, I won’t.
    As for the author that didn’t recorrect the German in the page proofs, that’s a shame. She’d obviously been cowed by the system. I’d have still given it my best shot, including a large red warning label.
    When making corrections on edited mss,I always write an explanation if I think there might be any second guessing. I suppose there are people at the publishers who think authors are stupid. But if we explain ourselves and maybe give a reference, they’ll learn from that.
    A glass of tea? Was it iced tea? I’ve never heard the term. There used to be Russian Tea, which was served in a tall glass cup, and IIRC was black tea with lemon.
    Write and ask the author? Seriously. She might well have reason for it and it would be interesting to know.
    As Janga said, we readers are sometimes wrong when we spot errors. OTOH, a word that seems to be an error is best avoided if possible.
    Jo

    Reply

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