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Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Guest Blogger Jocelyn Green and Wedded to War


JOCELYN GREEN is an award-winning author and freelance journalist recently turned novelist. Her love of history, story-telling and the drama of the human experience combine in her new series, Heroines Behind the Lines: Civil War. She loves to research as much as she loves writing. Her favorite things include Mexican food, Broadway musicals, Toblerone chocolate bars, the color red, and reading on her patio. Jocelyn lives with her husband Rob and two small children in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Visit her at

by Jocelyn Green
Published by RiverNorth Fiction (Moody Publishers)


She fought to get her place, and she fought even harder to keep it.

In Wedded to War, tending the Union army’s sick and wounded would mean leaving Phineas Hastings, the man Charlotte Waverly’s mother, Caroline, approved of, for an existence Caroline could not understand. To honor the father she lost to Cholera, Charlotte chose a life of service over privilege—just as her childhood friend, Caleb Lansing, had when he became a military doctor. She quickly discovers that she’s combating more than just the Rebellion by working in the hospitals. Would the two men who love her stand by and watch as she fights her own battles? Or would their desire for her wage war on her desire to serve God?

Readers, buy your copy of Wedded to War today! The ebook is only $1.99 for a limited time!


The Work of Imagining

I had been a journalist and the author of nonfiction books for several years before I ventured into writing fiction. But I had never done as much research for one book as I did for my Civil War novel, Wedded to War!

When I share this with people, I usually get puzzled looks, and a comment along the lines of, “But you’re writing fiction. Can’t you just…you know, make stuff up?”

Margaret Culkin Banning said it best: “Fiction is not a dream, nor is it guesswork. It is imagining based on facts, and the facts must be accurate or the work of imagining will not stand up.”

In other words, yes, we can make up the fictional characters and the plot twists, but everything must be rooted in facts, or the story won’t be believable. My depiction of medical care during the early Civil War would fall completely flat if I had the doctors using equipment that hadn’t been invented yet. And my characterizations wouldn’t hold true either, if I didn’t thoroughly understand the cultural and gender roles of those living in Victorian Age. Even my settings would seem like only cardboard backdrops, rather than characters themselves, if they weren’t rounded out with accurate detail and description.

To research my novel, I visited historical societies in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Maryland, and Fort Monroe and other places on the Virginia Peninsula. But the Internet and old-fashioned library books were my best friends, too! Here are just ten of my most useful resources.

From Contemporary Historians:

Adams, George Worthington. Doctors in Blue: The Medical History of the Union Army in the Civil War. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1952.

Bacon, Georgeanna Woolsey and Eliza Woolsey Howland, edited by Daniel John Hoisington. My Heart Toward Home: Letters of a Family During the Civil War. Roseville, Minnesota: Edinborough Press, 2001.

Garrison, Nancy Scripture. With Courage and Delicacy: Civil War on the Peninsula, Women and the U.S. Sanitary Commission. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Capo Press, 1999.

Giesberg, Judith Ann. Civil War Sisterhood: The U.S. Sanitary Commission and Women’s Politics in Transition. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2000.

Lee, Richard M. Mr. Lincoln’s City: An Illustrated Guide to the Civil War Sites of Washington. McLean, Virginia: EPM Publications, Inc., 1981.

Schultz, Jane E. Women at the Front: Hospital Workers in Civil War America. Chapel Hill: The University of North Caroline Press, 2007.

Wilbur, C. Keith. Civil War Medicine. Guilford, Connecticut: The Globe Pequot Press, 1998.

Primary Sources available online:

Documents of the U.S. Sanitary Commission No. 1-60:

Outlines of the Chief Camp Diseases of the United States Army

Medical Recollections of the Union Army

For a more complete list of my resources, and for character sketches, a timeline of events, maps and photographs from the early Civil War, check out the new Web site for Heroines Behind the Lines at

When writing historical fiction, my mantra is “the better the research, the better the story.” My only problem is knowing when to stop the research an start writing the book!

* * * * *

Thank you, Jocelyn, for sharing with us today.

Reader Question: As a reader, is it important to you that an author has done his/her homework—whether he/she has written a contemporary or historical novel? How do you react when you read something that seems out of place for the time period or context of the story?

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name at domainname dot com/net) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win an autographed copy of the book featured above. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

This week, the contest is open to North America residents only, but includes APO/FPO boxes too.


Mocha with Linda said...

I loved reading this and look forward to reading the book. I would love to win an autographed copy!

As for the question, it is very important that an author has her (or his) facts straight. The author loses credibility and the story definitely pales when there are inaccuracies. Even though it is a work of fiction, there are some things that should definitely ring true!

mochawithlinda at gmail dot com

Amy C said...

I want historical fiction to be as accurate as possible. If I start seeing inaccuracies then I don't want to read it anymore. I want to get into the story and feel as though I am there with them.
Campbellamyd at gmail dot com

Pam K. said...

I agree that it is very important that fiction be as accurate as possible, whether it is historical or contemporary. The story is so much more engaging and believeable if the author makes an effort to be factual. If something seems out of place for the time period or context of the story, it takes the fun out of reading the book.
I'd love to win a copy of Wedded to War. I've read a lot of good reviews and the trailer is fantastic!

Sharon said...

It is important that the details in historical or contemporary fiction make sense. A well-researched historical fiction book is a joy to read. Any clinkers in language, phrasing, etc. really throw me off.
Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of Wedded to War.
smoore at tcq dot net

squiresj said...

I don't really care if it is factual. After all it is a story. Please enter me to win.
jrs362 at hotmail dot com

Jocelyn Green said...

Hi everyone! Thanks for stopping by! I hope you all get a chance to read Wedded to War if you want to, even if you don't win it here. If all else fails, ask your library to carry it. :) I'd love to know what you think of it.

donna j. downs said...

I just posted a thoughtful comment, but it disappeared it seems. :( great book, Jocelyn!

Elyssa said...

I feel that it is very important for an author to do their homework (historical or contemporary). When something seems out of place in a certain time period, I usually go online and research what it is I'm reading about. I love learning about new things when I'm reading, and love sharing what I learn with my friends and family. =)

Thanks so much for the great giveaway! This book looks amazing!


Jenny said...

I care when the information in books is factual or not. Fiction is supposed to be realistic, so why shouldn't the facts be as well? I usually shake my head if something doesn't seem factual to me, and then I learn all that I can about that subject or time period.


Emily said...

I'm a writer myself so accuracy is really important to me. I've read plenty of books that I've questioned and, although the storyline in helps when everything is put together with a lot of research and care.


Debbie said...

I'd say that it helps a lot when things are looked into well. Especially if the reader is only just then being introduced to the time period. It wouldn't be good to give them the wrong information on the time.


John said...

A lot of times I hardly even notice when things aren't correct, but that's usually when the author is someone I've been reading for a while. I'm usually very loyal when it comes to the authors I read consistently. But when it's someone knew, I like to see the work of a lot of research.


Jocelyn Green said...

Donna, I'm sorry your thoughtful comment disappeared, but thanks for trying again! It's great to see everyone else's thoughts, too. I'm glad to see that some of you are prompted to look things up for yourself if something doesn't seem quite right. Recently I heard from a reader that she was bothered by the fact that some of my characters said "OK" in the novel because she thought it didn't sound historical enough. But when I told her the use of "OK" started in 1839 and was common in conversation by the Civil War, she felt better. :) This brings up a tricky thing about writing historical fiction dialogue. Some readers expect it to be really formal (no contractions, only big words, etc.) because that's how some of the Victorian literature was written. But when you look at original sources of letters and journals, most people really spoke to each other with less formality. It makes sense, though, doesn't it? Today, we write emails in one tone of voice, but if we are writing an essay for a newspaper or magazine, we'll sound much different. When it comes to individual words of phrases, a quick way to fact-check the origin is to go to Beyond the vocabulary though, it is a lot of work to make sure everything is historically accurate. I had to take out several things, such as a Mason canning jar and a Persian cat (they didn't arrive in America until the 1890s). If I see a very small historical inaccuracy like the ones I just mentioned in a novel now, I'm pretty forgiving. But I also saw in one Civil War novel, the author had the war start in the wrong month. That, to me, is enough to make me stop reading. There's no reason to not get that kind of fact right, and I think it's insulting to readers.