The Importance of Historical Language and Period Accuracy

Today, I’m delighted to have Nancy Fraser as a guest. jane


Nancy and her writing partner, Patti Schenberger are with Entangled Publishing. Their recent release is The Lawman’s Agreement.


Thank you Nancy for giving us an insight into writing historical novels.


The biggest challenge in writing language for a particular historical time period is obviously accuracy. And, while it would be easy to rely on other novels from same genre, trusting the author’s expertise is a like copying your homework from the cute boy across the aisle. Are you sure he’s got the right answers? What if he didn’t study any more than you did?


There are a number of ways to double check accuracy when it comes to the last few centuries. While online resources, e.g., Wikipedia, are only as good as the information put in, they can be helpful in a number of other ways, especially if you go directly to the cited reference rather than relying on their interpretation. Never assume, just because it appears in the Oxford dictionary and was deemed a word in 1779, that it was actually used in Regency England in 1805.


Blogs devoted to specific time periods are often well-researched and the information included handed down through generations. One of the best Regency-era blogs is: which includes everything from social customs, to language, to dress, to daily living activities.


Researching language for an historical set in North America can also be a challenge depending on the setting. Language in 1860s Boston is not going to be the same as 1860s Nevada Territory. Fortunately, there’s been a great influx of archived newspaper articles made available to assist with language questions. And, as with the Regency era, there are a huge number of websites and blogs devoted to historical accuracy and information. One of our favorites is: This site is devoted to mid-western and western slang and phrasing and … in many instances … is downright hilarious! In addition to the language information, there are also clothing styles, art, as well as vintage photos. It’s treasure-trove of information if you’re working on a western historical.


While doing research for our mid-western historical, The Lawman’s Agreement, set in 1868 Mississippi, we wanted to go back to post Civil-War (1858-1864) and one of the best online resources we found was the following site:


The biggest challenge we faced while working on the book revolved around our heroine, a physician and surgeon in a time where women doctors were not readily accepted. We researched female pioneers such as Elizabeth Blackwell, the first full accredited female physician. We also spent considerable time researching the medical procedures of the time including, our favorite, the treatment of the “suddenly, apparently dead” or, as we call it now, CPR.


As authors we have an obligation to our readers to not only entertain, but enlighten. To do that, we must strive for as accurate an account of actual events as we can. There are a number of wonderful authors out there who set out to write a romance and, over the course of their careers, have become experts in certain fields. It is that dedication and expertise that makes all of us, as readers, grateful for the effort they put into each and every book.





Post-Civil War Mississippi
U.S. Marshal, Zack McCade takes pride in protecting the good folks of Greenville—especially the beautiful Dr. Suzanne Martindale. He doesn’t always understand her need for independence, but he sure does like getting under her skin. It’s not like he’s looking to settle down—his job is too dangerous to risk taking a wife and family.

In an era when women aren’t readily accepted in the male dominated world of medicine, Suzanne doesn’t have time for courting—especially a charming Cajun rogue like Zack. When he proposes a fake betrothal to keep the matchmaking town out of their hair, she’s sure it’s a bad idea, but can’t deny her longing for a respite from the over-zealous bachelors in town.

Their ruse starts a fire in their hearts that neither expected, but will the re-emergence of Suzanne’s real fiancé douse the flames?

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Zack left the clinic and turned away from his office rather than toward it. He needed to walk off some of the tension holding his body as tightly wound as a pocket watch.


He should never have stolen that last kiss. The first two had been enough to appease their onlookers. The third had been strictly an indulgence for his own amusement, a silly flirtation intended to raise the doctor’s ire. Instead, his plan had backfired, and he’d found himself as aroused as a young schoolboy after his first deep kiss. It wouldn’t do, Zack realized, to walk into his office with a flagpole in his britches.


After a second pass behind the main buildings in the central part of town, Zack felt in control enough to go back to work. He’d barely reached for the handle on the office door, when the sound of a gunshot rang out from somewhere in the vicinity of the saloon.


He stepped off the sidewalk and into the main road, covering the distance between the jail and the saloon quickly, coming to a halt at the hitching post just as two men backed through the saloon doors, their faces covered in bandanas.


Zack drew his gun and a deep breath and asked, “You two gentlemen planning on going somewhere?”


The two men turned in Zack’s direction, their guns at the ready. “Let us go, Marshal, and nobody gets hurt,” the first one said.


“It’s two against one,” the second pointed out.


“Hmm, not such great odds, is it?” Zack agreed. “Perhaps, I can even things up a bit.” The words had no sooner left his mouth when he fired his gun, clipping the first man’s hand and knocking the gun he held to the side. “Now, it’s just us,” he said to the other.


The second man tossed his gun to the side as well and raised his hands in defeat. To his left, Zack caught sight of his deputies’ approach. “Tom, Pete,” Zack ordered. “Get these two scoundrels over to the jail and bandage up this fellow’s fingers.”


“Will do, boss,” Pete Bailey confirmed. “You want I should have the doc take a look at his hand.”


“No, not unless it’s a deeper scrape than it appears to be. He’ll do fine with your handiwork.”


Zack holstered his gun as his deputies started away with the prisoners. The second, larger man broke free of Tom’s hold and charged in Zack’s direction. Zack stuck out his fist, landing one solid blow against the man’s chest, sending him sprawling in the dirt, gasping for air and clutching his ribs.


“Come on,” the deputy said, pulling the man to his feet by the collar. “Let’s get going.”


Zack watched as the two men were led away without further incident. When he turned back toward the front of the saloon, he realized Suzanne was standing there, mostly likely alerted by the sound of the original gunshot.


“Was there anyone hurt in the saloon?” he asked.


“No, the robbers fired into the air in an attempt to scare the barkeep so he would hand over the money.”


“Since you’ve got your medical bag with you, I’ll take you over to the jail and you can check on both men.”


“Did you flatten the other one as well?” she asked.


“No. I shot him.”


Suzanne shook her head, the frown playing across her beautiful face causing him concern.


“Let’s go then, Marshal.” She started toward the jail, stopping long enough to say, “I’d really rather you not add to my workload any more than necessary.”


“It’s not like I do it on purpose,” he argued. When she didn’t respond, he caught up with her in two long strides. “It’s my job.”


“Yes, I know. And, because of your job, I now have to do mine.”


Zack was overcome with regret. Not that he would have done anything different where the two men were concerned. His regret stemmed from the fact he’d once again disappointed Suzanne, her reaction only serving to convince him of why they were unsuited for a real relationship.




Nancy Fraser



Twitter: @nfraserauthor



Patti Shenberger Website:


Twitter: @pattishenberger



JANE’S NEWS….The countdown is on!  THE HIGHWAYMAN’S BRIDE is being released on 9 December.  You can check it out here.

Also…check in on me at Facebook daily, as there’s news coming of a Facebook Release party with giveaways.


Happy reading

Jane Beckenham




Hi everyone,  Happy Valentine’s Dayjane

Well you know what they say about best laid plans and all that… yep, well, my plans for my blog post for today kinda went out the window when I realized it was Valentines Day this week!

Forget about Valentines Day you ask, shocked.  Yes, well, I did.  Tres bad for a romance writer I know.

Anyways…., given that it is the day of love tomorrow, I thought I would blabber on about romantic moments.  Apart from the moment my hubby of nearly 30 years asked me to marry him (this is after we met on a blind date 5 months earlier which in itself is pretty darn romantic), the two other most romantic moments also involved the same man.  And the very first was…yes, you guessed it, Valentines Day.  We’d been married about 7 months when this romantic day was fast looming.  I of course kept reminding him all week that it was coming, and what did I get when I woke up that morning, a lovely red rose on my pillow. He’d remembered.  How sweet.

And what did I get my beloved, after hinting all week – a big fat zero – yep I FORGOT!  But obviously he forgave me, since we’re now thirty years down the track.

The next nice romantic gesture was for my 30th birthday, and again I woke up to a gift on the pillow.  A beautiful garnet ring.

Nine years later – yep took a while – we’d actually been married for 13 years by that stage.  Well, I’d just got back from Russia, where we adopted our two children from, and the day after we got back, after an exhausted sleep … I awoke up to find on my pillow … yep I definitely think there’s a theme going on here…a ring… double whammy that theme.  This one had four sapphires.  But what I think was the most romantic thing of all of these moments, was what hubby said.  “There are four sapphires, one for each of us in our new family.”  So heartfelt!

I’d love for you to leave a comment below, let me know what your most romantic moment is.

And… to make it even more of a moment, to celebrate Valentine’s Day, make sure you do leave that comment, because I’m going to pick a winner (well I’ll get hubby pick, and the lucky winner will receive a download copy of each of my books (pdf)  So as they say, you gotta be in to win, so make sure you leave that comment.

Author Elle Druskin talks about a character’s romantic moment…I did kind of like a scene in Animal Crackers. Hayley walked out on Jake only to realize he’s the best thing that ever happened to her so she grabs the bus back to New Jersey.  There he is sitting in the bleachers coaching a Little League baseball game, not too excited to see her back. He’s eating Cracker Jack and Hayley isn’t sure he’s forgiven her for walking out. He offers her the box and she starts eating only to find the prize – it turns out to be an engagement ring.

Lee Christine, one of Escape Publishing’s debut authors says about her romantic hubby…My husband organised a surprise weekend. Told me to pack on the Friday morning and we got in the car. I had no idea where we were going. He stopped at a little cafe on the way for morning tea. In the afternoon we arrived at Kims at Toowoon Bay on the NSW central coast. He’d booked their ‘deluxe’ tree house style apartment with small pool, hot tub and the works. We spent all weekend eating, drinking and …

And with that…. Wishing you a wonderful week and a very special Valentine’s Day!

Happy reading

Jane Beckenham

PS – adding one tiny excerpt – who wouldn’t want their very own Romeo for Valentine’s Day



“If you’re looking for a fast-paced story that sizzles and 

will tug at her your heart, Romeo For Hire will definitely  hit the spot.”    

Review – Long and Short Reviews 4 books



She had no one.

She was alone.

And she had lied.

What started as a joke had become Carly Mason’s living nightmare.

The words “Don’t forget!” were ingrained in gold on the glossy invitation, visible from wherever she stood in her office. It was as if they were chasing her, following her every move.

Don’t forget? “Fat chance.”

And now, as the day of departure for rest and relaxation in paradise grew nearer, the joke was on her.

Trying to bluff her way out of going had proved impossible. Her friends wouldn’t let her off the hook.

“Come on, Carly, four days on an exotic island, just us and our men.”

“Can’t wait to meet your man.”

“You mean the invisible man.”

Carly cringed, remembering their reference to the boyfriend she bragged about but never produced. Right now she wished the ground would open up and swallow her whole.

She picked up the invitation, fingers trailing over the embossed outline of a palm tree beside a blue lagoon. “I’ll be a laughingstock,” she moaned and tossed it toward the bin. She turned back to her desk, though the sight of piles of fabric, wallpaper samples and the unopened mail littering her desk didn’t improve her mood.

Barely visible beneath a stack of multi-colored chintz was a gilded frame holding a picture of her and her girlfriends—and their men.

Tania and Martin.

Maxine and Frederico.

She caressed the ornate frame, staring at the photo. Though surrounded by friends, she’d never felt so lonely. She may have been smiling in that photo, but deep down she knew the truth she’d carefully hidden, and now, every time she looked at the group, a sharp pain of something she couldn’t quite understand tugged at her heart.

Dropping the photo frame onto the overflowing desk, she returned her gaze to the mounting piles of work. She had no time for men. Besides, history told her they weren’t reliable.


D-Day however, was drawing near, and she still hadn’t produced the invisible man, described, unfortunately, in superlative detail after several glasses of Cabernet. Tall and devilishly good-looking, who of course worshiped the ground she walked on. Where on earth was she going to find such a specimen in less than seventy-two hours?

“Couldn’t make him a nerd, or a plain Harry, could you?” Carly eyed the invitation as if it was a summons from hell.

Her cheeks stung as she remembered the graphic details she’d spouted, and a wave of rampant desperation shook her normally serene composure. How could she have been so stupid? Perhaps she could sleep through it, say she’d caught some grisly plague and couldn’t go.

Own up.

Carly chose to ignore that piece of internal advice. There had to be a way out. She picked up the folder containing the job specifications for the hotel chain, but her mind wasn’t on the job. She couldn’t concentrate. Her mystery man got in the way—again.

Perhaps Adonis could get chicken pox, be deranged and in jail for murder. “Hell and…” She needed to work. Not think about men.

Perhaps then the problem will go away!

If only.



Jane Beckenham

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