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Tracie Peterson: Standing in Defiance of Poor Research & A Beauty Refined #BookGiveaway #LadiesInDefiance

tracie petersonAnyone who knows me knows I am a stickler for doing your research when you write a book. Having been on both sides of the writing fence – as an author and a managing editor of Barbour Publishing’s Heartsong Presents line – I think I’ve seen and heard just about all when it comes to this topic.

Research for me is an important part of my job. History and the historical setting almost become characters all their own and it’s my job as an author to give the reader an accurate portrayal, without boring them to tears. It’s a fine line to walk.

When I first began reading, I was easily drawn into the settings and time periods. I remember as a child going in search of the historical facts as I read a particular book. One of my favorite books was Pride and Prejudice and so I wanted to know more about England and the 1800’s. It happens that way even now when I read historical fiction. I think that’s due in part to the author’s ability to relate the history in an intriguing way. But, to do so requires work on the author’s part. In the case of Jane Austen—she was writing contemporaries. She wrote about what she knew, which is the writer’s first encouragement in basic writing classes. Research accuracy is just as important in contemporary stories as it is for historical. Nothing is worse than to be reading along about a place you know and have the author describe it inaccurately. For instance, I grew up in Kansas where there are no mountains, but I’ve read poor fiction that put them there.

When I was managing editor I received a lot of manuscripts from would-be authors and attended numerous one-on-one appointments with the same. In many cases the historical details were either few and far between so that the story was simply a contemporary in period clothing or the details weren’t there at all. Worst of all were the stories where there were a ton of historical details, but most of them were wrong. In dealing with one author whose historical facts were mostly historical inaccuracies, I ask her why she hadn’t done her research. I pointed out detail after detail, explaining to her that publishers check facts and want accuracy. She was completely indignant and replied, “Why? It’s just fiction.”

As a storyteller who loves to write historical fiction I am in defiance of poor research. I want my research to be as detailed and accurate as possible. People who read my books know this and expect it. It’s a trust between my readers and me. They know when they pick up my work, I will have done my job. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes—because I have and do. And when I do, my readers love to point it out. Keeping that in mind makes me work all the harder. Sometimes, however, I do get called on the carpet for what the reader believes to be inaccurate when in fact it might be a detail that was subjective to the individual or the location. I had one reader berate me for details I had in a character’s breast-feeding, yet the issues were documented and I’d even talked to women who’d experienced the same. So you have to keep in mind that sometimes facts can vary. Another issue that’s hard to deal with at times is the reader who writes to tell me that what I wrote can’t possibly be right because their grandmother told them stories about the same event and my details were different. I always try to explain that if you have ten eye witnesses to the same event – you’ll most likely get ten various opinions. When researching I usually go for the details that seem most often agreed. As a historian, my husband taught me early on to use the “rule of 3”. Get at least three various sources regarding the detail I’m researching. If they all agree, it’s probably accurate.

Keeping that in mind, when I sit down to plot out a story, I make notes about the location, time period and events that might have taken place in the locale. I start reading as many non-fiction books as I can and watch documentaries. Right now I’m working on a series set in Oregon Territory in the 1840-1850’s. I have about twenty books on my desk that deal with the time period, location and events. I have an additional ten on my Kindle or computer that are public domain. Many of these are diaries from people who lived in my time period and location. I listen to lectures from experts on my topics and dig into government records. The series I just finished writing deals with the discovery of Yogo sapphires in Montana. I had to research sapphires and how they were found, how they are treated and faceted, and what goes into actually creating jewelry. I found a wonderful team of folks who still mine Yogos and create jewelry to advise me. In fact, I even bought my own Yogo sapphire ring. Hey – it’s research, right?

With each book I have historians I talk to. I go to the places that I write about (if at all possible) and I even go to the trouble of learning various arts and crafts that might pertain to my story. For instance, right now I’m learning to use a spinning wheel. In the past I’ve learned to tat, make soap and candles, panned for gold and even drive a stage coach. The travel and learning are fun for me and make my stories come alive. Best of all, I hear from the readers who have found themselves intrigued enough that they want to visit the places I’ve written about. Homeschool moms have told me they’ve used my books to interest their daughters in history. Seniors RVing through their retirement have told me about reading my books on the road to each other and suddenly remembering stories about the location or events that were handed down to them from great-grandparents.

Another aspect of this trust regarding accurate research is that my writing is a ministry for me. I often speak at events and when I do I explain that I’m unapologetic for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you find that offensive, you’ll find my books to be the same and we might as well get that matter settled right up front. I want to share the Gospel message and Bible application for everyday living, without beating people over the head with the Bible. In doing my historical research accurately, hopefully it will also encourage the reader to believe I’ve done my Biblical research as well. That’s important to me and definitely stimulates my defiance of poor research. I want to share my faith, because it’s the foundation of all that I hold dear. It’s my life and of course is going to come out in my writing.

So when you pick up a Tracie Peterson novel, remember that a lot of research went into the story, location and time period. Know that you can trust me to have done my homework to bring the history alive in as accurate a way as possible. And, if you find that I’ve made a mistake—you may feel free to write me about it. I promise I won’t be at all defiant. Now, I must be off. I’m plotting a story with three young women who will work at a chocolate factory so I have to go research chocolate.


a beauty refined by tracie peterson

Phoebe Von Bergen is excited to accompany her father when he travels from Germany to purchase sapphires in Montana. Little does she know that her father’s plans–for the gemstones and his daughter–are not what they seem.

Ian Harper, a lapidary working in Helena, finds the young woman staying at the Broadwater Hotel more than a little intriguing. Yet the more he gets to know her, the more he realizes that her family story is based on a lie–a lie she has no knowledge of. And Ian believes he knows the only path that will lead her to freedom.

Meeting Ian has changed everything. Phoebe is determined to stay in America, regardless of her father’s plans. But she may not be prepared for the unexpected danger as the deception begins to unravel.

The Giveaway

Tracie has also offered a book giveaway to celebrate the release of her latest book, A Beauty Refined. The winner will receive a paperback copy and is open internationally. Enter through the Rafflecopter link below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway will run until July 19, 2016 and the winner will be announced on July 20.

Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than one hundred books. Tracie also teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. She and her family live in Montana.

Visit Tracie’s web site at: http://www.traciepeterson.com.


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About Heather Frey Blanton

"I believe Christian fiction should be messy and gritty, because the human condition is ... and God loves us anyway." -- Heather Blanton

Posted on July 6, 2016, in Book Giveaway, Guest Post and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. Carol Edwards

    I would like to read a Treasure Concealed.

  2. wendynewcomb

    I’m so sorry but I can’t pick just one! I have read several of Tracie’s books but there are still so many great sounding ones out there, it would be impossible to pick just ONE.

    wfnren at aol dot com

  3. wendynewcomb

    P.S. I tried signing up for Tracie’s Feed but the link wasn’t working. I finally just went to her blog and (as I thought, lol) I had already signed up for her newsletter.

  4. Since I haven’t read the first book in the series, A Treasure Concealed, I would pick that one.

  5. I can’t wait to read this. But I think I need to read the first book in the series to start out!

  6. Debbie Clatterbuck

    Being that I have read most of Tracie’s books, I would have to pick A Sensible Arrangement. It has been on my TBR list for some time now and just haven’t gotten to it yet. So many books, so little time.

  7. Great article, Tracie! I’m such a huge fan, I’m giddy that you stopped by. And thanks for that glimpse into how one of the Big Dawgs does it! 🙂 And I mean that in the most polite and positive way!

  8. Tracie’s covers are always so eye catching and I’m very susceptible to being bitten by the #coverlove bug.
    Since I lived in Anchorage for 6 years, I’m really interested in her upcoming book IN THE SHADOW OF DENALI.

  9. My covers from Bethany House are amazing. Paul Higdon is in charge of the artwork there and the man is a genius in my book. Oh, and just to let everyone know – the Sapphire Bride’s series is an independent series – in that each book stands alone and isn’t related to the other books. The series does share the setting of Montana and Yogo sapphires, but otherwise they are on their own. I will say, however, that timeline wise, book 1 is set in the 1890’s, book two in 1907 and book three in 1917. I hope you all enjoy each one.

  10. I LOVE your books, Tracie! I believe I have read every historical fiction from your very gifted pen! Looking forward to this new release!! Just want to say that as a historian and a preservationist, I am extremely appreciative of your intense historical research!!! That factor assures me that you have made every attempt to present real history, real people, and real places in a context that teaches history as well as helps us understand those people and events of that time. THANK YOU!!!!

  11. conniepsaunders

    I would like to read A Promise to Believe In, which is bk. 1 of the Brides of Gallatin County series.

  12. I would like to read Touching The Sky

  13. I have read many of your earlier books so I am looking forward to A Beauty Refined.

  14. This was a hard choice. I have narrowed it down to: A Beauty Refined and the Ladies of Liberty Series 🙂

  15. I have reviewed many of your books and am ready to again in any format, I would feel blessed!

    Jennifer Dove
    jenndove5 at gmail

    I’m reading at least a book a day 🙂 MAKES ME SO EXCITED!!

  16. I would like to read Hearts Aglow first. All of her books look wonderful though!

  17. Lucy Reynolds

    I would like to read A Treasure Conceled. I followed on Amazon. Thank you for the chance.

  18. This is a great post by Tracie Peterson. I love her philosophy on both historical and biblical basis in her stories. My next book by Tracie will be To Have and To Hold (Bridal Veil Island, Bk 1), since I have already read the third book in the series and decided to go back and read the other two.

  19. Tracie, thank you for the wonderful post. A Treasure Concealed is in my TBR.

  20. I’d like to read whispers of winter!

  21. I’d start at the beginning with “A Treasure Concealed”, sounds like a fantastic series! I’ve read other stories by Tracey and she’s a guaranteed winner in my book (no pun intended) 🙂 Thank you for the chance to win!

  22. jenny stratton

    I would love to read Whispers of Winter.

  23. It has been awhile since I have read any of your books Tracie, but Lights of Lowell is what sparked my love of Christian Historical Fiction! I have been wanting to read this series!!! And I can’t wait for your next series…Mmm! May have to keep chocolate on hand while reading that one!

  24. I would like to read The Pattern of Her Heart

  25. A Tapestery of Hope

  26. Was the winner announced?

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