Researching Names for Writers of Historical Fiction

I read a lot of 19th century newspapers for all kinds of reasons, but this clip from the NYT (November 1885) is a great example of one of the ways I find names.

NYT November 1885 NYT November 1885

Here we have Giuseppe Giudici who shot and killed Maggiorini Dagahiero, as well as Ling Chun, Ling Yum, Chun Fong and Lung Mow who are all involved in a perjury case.

central reporter title page Click for full size. Central Reporter. 1886 on cases heard in September 1885.

A word of warning: even the NYT was really bad at getting the names of immigrants right. Maggiorini Dagahiero strikes me as off, anyway, so I see if I can turn up either half of it elsewhere and find that even mighty Google produces  not a single example of the name Dagahiero beyond the one in this very newspaper article. However, Daghiero does come up — in fact, if you search it will bring up a whole story that is in itself interesting.

Death penalty cases were appealed, I assume, automatically, as they are today. This publication provides both details of the crime and the legal ruling. Because the book is long out of copyright, you can download the whole pdf through Google Books or (my preference). I can almost guarantee that if you sit down to skim through a volume like this, you will find many stories waiting to be told, the majority of them tragic in one way or another. Some of them bordering on the farcical. 

In this case the details just raise more questions, for me at least. 

I haven’t yet looked into Ling Chun and Ling Yum, but […]

Wednesday 8. June 2016|craft, newspapers, online, story : plot|3 Comments

Facebook & Missing Persons



If you have gone to look for me on Facebook you will have noticed I’m missing in action over there. I deactivated my account for a variety of reasons Eventually I’ll probably re-activate it, but for the time being Sara is still over there.  Until I get past this writer’s block business I’ll be keeping a lower profile. 


Wednesday 18. May 2016|series in progress|4 Comments

The Gilded Hour: New Edition, Slippage & Good Stuff Coming


The trade paper edition of The Gilded Hour is now out there in the world.


I blame the midnight elves. I blame the midnight elves.

If you follow along here and/or on Facebook* you may remember that when The Gilded Hour was in the crucial final stages of the editorial process, my editor left Penguin/Berkley, and a new editor picked up where she left off.

Please note immediately: neither editor is responsible for the slippage I’m talking about here. The change in editors was not their decision, and both did everything in their power to make the transition as smooth as possible.

And yet, some things went sideways.  A lot of small errors never got corrected in the hardcover edition of The Gilded Hour and there were also two larger problems. (1) a scene got abbreviated. Once I realized this had happened I posted the complete scene online and you can read the whole thing here.  (2) More problematic was the final scene, which was also not what I intended. 


The trade paper edition of The Gilded Hour came out today, and with one exception  (the missing scene) all the problems were fixed.

If you already have an ebook edition of The Gilded Hour, you can re-download it and you’ll find that all the corrections are now in place.

LESS GOOD NEWS: If you have a hardcover copy and you (quite reasonably) don’t want to buy the trade paper edition or an ebook edition, then here’s what I can offer you: Sometime in the next week I will post a pdf for you to download. In it will be:

(1) the full scene that was accidentally shortened;

(2) a list of the small corrections;

(3) the final scene as it appears in the trade paper edition and

(4) […]

Monday 2. May 2016|cranky pants, Gilded Hour|1 Comment

The Gilded Hour, Race & Ethnicity over Space

If you remember the Mazzini Hotel from The Gilded Hour (where the Italian Benevolent Society met), you wouldn’t have any way to know that there really was a hotel by that name on the spot on the south border of Washington Square Park in the early 1880s. That whole neighborhood, south of the park and north of Houston, was home to many immigrants and was ethnically very diverse at that time.

The city’s largest group of French and French Canadians was there, as well as a long established African American community that first began to come together  when this was still the outskirts of the city. Italians were also well represented, with fewer Irish and almost no Germans.  This larger area is important in the sequel to The Gilded Hour, as is the area around the Jefferson Market (to the east of the park) which you will be familiar with already. This map indicates that the Jefferson Market area and the neighborhood  tmoving north along Sixth Avenue was populated primarily by non-immigrants.

Note that the color bars don’t map to particular streets; they are meant only to provide relative densities for the different ethnic populations.

This is a detail from a very large map, one that is quite hard to read. I’ve reconstructed the data to the best of my ability and on the basis of additional research.



Friday 15. April 2016|research / resources, series in progress|8 Comments

The Gilded Hour Giveaway: Trade Paper May 3

suggest-somethingI have a question for you, because on Wednesday I’ll be at Village Books in Fairhaven to do a short reading as a precursor to the Chuckanut Writers Conference (where I’ll be teaching, in case you missed that) and I’m at a loss for what to read.

Picking the right passage that lasts for 10-15 minutes when the audience doesn’t know you or your work is tricky.

It’s got to be engaging, not give too much away, and in my experience, it goes over best if it’s something amusing rather than dark. Any suggestions? Particular scenes from particular books? It doesn’t have to be from The Gilded Hour. However: if I get suggestions from at least 15 different people I’ll pick one name at random and that person will get a copy of the trade paperback edition of The Gilded Hour when it comes out on *****May 3.****

This contest is separate from the similar contest on Sara’s FaceBook page. You can enter both drawings, but please if you do, two different suggestions.


Monday 4. April 2016|Gilded Hour, writing prompts, workshops|6 Comments