How to Write Historical Fiction Without Really Trying

Today I’m excited to have a guest post on Amie Winters’ blog, the author of¬†Strange Luck¬†and soon-to-be-published¬†The Nightmare Birds¬†(available for pre-order now!). Amie¬†and I write very different books, but we have tons in common, from collecting fun socks to being writers from childhood. In fact, tomorrow is her monthly Throwback Thursday Writer event (#tbtwriter), so check back in with us both for this month’s fun (and usually funny) posts.

Before I wrote¬†Anatomy of a Darkened Heart, I was sure I would never write historical fiction, even though I enjoyed reading it. In fact, I¬†didn’t think it was possible for me to include that much research in a fiction book. So how does someone who is convinced they can’t write a genre end up with a debut novel, an upcoming fall publication, and a 10-year publishing plan that all revolve¬†around that “impossible-to-write” genre? Find out in my guest post on Amie’s blog! Click here to read.

TBT Writer – Handwriting Then and Now

It’s time for Amie Winters’ monthly Throwback Thursday for writers!¬†If you’ve got a writing throwback, post it with this hashtag so we can all read your story. Here’s mine.



When I was flipping through a notebook I’ve had since around 7th or 8th grade, I noticed the enormous difference between my handwriting then and now. Look at it then:



That first line typo though!

It always took effort for me to handwrite even halfway decently, and this was the result of trying hard: g’s that don’t look like j’s, actual m’s (now they all look like n’s), and no script intermingled. I remember when I was in elementary school, I would stretch all my letters really far out because I didn’t know how else to make them look neat. They were always too close together or too sloppy (and this was when I was really putting effort in), or I tried to make some letters¬†original to me, and teachers didn’t seem to like that. I can still hear what they would say: “The o in Normie isn’t closed. That’s not an o.” “The u in the first line looks too much like an o.” “Everything is too close together, you need actual space between words, especially in the first paragraph.” I always felt like I couldn’t get it right. In retrospect, I have to say that teachers shouldn’t have been so constantly and consistently harsh about it – it just made me feel very negatively about printing. My script was no good either, so apparently handwriting was just a bad idea for me, according to them. Ridiculous!

In high school, I mostly stopped caring, and now – well, let’s just say I write at a fast pace, but a few people have told me I write like a doctor. This page is from a few years ago, before I completely and utterly¬†let go and stopped caring altogether what it looked like – that finally happened last year. (It was actually holding me back from writing fast enough, constantly trying to make letters and words more readable – they’re only for my eyes¬†anyway!)


(Side note РI love Beauty and the Beast. This was an experiment.)

Nowadays, some letters look like other letters, some don’t look like letters at all, and my letters and words rarely come out the same way twice. I wonder how a handwriting expert would analyze my handwriting…

Here’s a 7th or 8th grade selfie before selfies were cool (so hipster).


Thanks for joining me on this month’s #tbtwriter adventure, and be sure to check the hashtag on Twitter for more posts!

TBT Writer – My First Book?

Last month, YA fantasy author Amie Irene Winters shared her Throwback Thursday of her very young writer self. This week, I’m joining her!¬†If you’ve got a writing throwback, post it with this hashtag so we can all read your story.



In eighth grade, I had a class in which we got to write our own short story, type it up, print it, paste it inside a blank book, and voila Рa book was born. I thought this was the coolest thing in the world, and I really hope teachers still do this or something similar. It gave me a sense of accomplishment in my early writing days.


Just look at that cover design. Cutting edge! You’ll also notice that I went by C.L. Stratos because R.L. Stine was a huge influence in my young reading life.


The publishing company is “Sotarts Inc.”. That’s my last name backwards. Clever, clever.


I have to say that formatting was much easier in the “print, cut, and paste” method…

It’s fun to go through this book and think of how exciting it was and how hard I worked on it. It’s a total of eight pages long, but at the time, it seemed like something huge. Like a novel.

Then I came across my bio at the back and noticed this line:


Wow. I’ve always written, ever since forever, and I loved it, but I didn’t remember that I’d thought of writing fiction as a career as early as eighth grade. I remember wishing I could do that in my junior year of high school specifically, when I had two novels written and really wanted to submit the second one to an agent. I couldn’t edit it well enough and didn’t understand what was missing or why I had so much trouble. What was wrong with the writing style? Something was off. But never mind about that. I’m going to do a separate post on my plans to honor the book¬†I once thought could make me a¬†published writer.


And this is what I was like. Not quite a serious-looking writer at that point! But certainly fun. ūüôā

Big thanks to Amie Winters for her wonderful idea to invent #tbtwriter! I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed writing this post!