Historical Accuracy in Works of Fiction

Historical Accuracy in Works of Fiction--PhilSlattery.org

A week or so ago, a contributor submitted a work of historical fiction that had an error in it that was obvious to me, though it probably wasn’t to a lot of readers. I replied that I would reconsider the work (it was nicely written and had a good plot and ending) if he would change that error into something more plausible, which he did and I accepted his work.

I feel it is necessary to be as historically accurate as possible in the details of a work, even if the entire point of the plot is a theoretical scenario, as in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, in which Hitler and his retinue are assassinated in a French theatre in 1944. Although this premise is fantasy, details as to uniforms, equipment, accents, were meticulous. The one detail that impressed me the most was when toward the end of the movie, two of the Basterds (Donowitz and Utivich) kill the guards outside Hitler’s theatre box. Utivich (the “little man” as he is called elsewhere) uses a glove-gun, which is a single-shot .22 caliber pistol attached to the back of a leather glove and fired by punching someone. This was a little known assassination weapon used during WWII. I happen to know, because during summer breaks at college, I worked at the Kentucky Military History Museum, which happened to have one identical to the one Utivich uses. To know that Tarantino watched his details to such a meticulous degree, helped me enjoy the movie.

On the other hand, I have often gone to movies with friends who could not enjoy the movie because some detail was inconsistent. For example, the patches on Tom Cruise’s flight jacket in Top Gun were not ones a true Naval aviator would wear. I know because I used to wear a flight jacket when I served in an A-6 squadron (VA-95, the Green Lizards) aboard the Enterprise as did most of my squadron mates, and I, as everyone else did, had lots of patches on my jacket to commemorate various operations or units I was in. This kind of inconsistency can ruin a movie for a lot of meticulous people, which is bad for the movie.

Another movie that is guilty of this and with which I have an indirect connection is An Officer and a Gentleman, in which a young man (Richard Gere) goes through naval aviator basic training at the Navy’s Aviation Officer Candidate School (AOCS). The movie was released in 1982 and I graduated from AOCS in May 1985. It sometimes annoys me that the movie received as much critical acclaim as it did, even though much of what occurred was preposterous. For example, AOCS, when I attended it, was in Pensacola, Florida. The movie was set in Port Townsend, Washington. I know because my first duty station, once out of training, was at Whidbey Island, Washington, a few miles across Puget Sound from Port Townsend. I would go drinking occasionally in Port Townsend and I have a t-shirt from the bar where Richard Gere had a fight with the locals. I have passed by the hotel where Gere’s friend hung himself several times, and I once went up to the Coast Guard station a few miles north, where the base scenes were filmed. Combined with the other errors in the film, for me watching An Officer and a Gentleman is more comedy than drama.

The magic of writing a story is to have the reader become so immersed in it that they mentally and emotionally become part of the story. They lose themselves in the story. This cannot happen if some detail is out of sync with the rest of the story. I don’t want this to happen in any of the stories I write, and I don’t want it to happen in any of the stories I publish. If I were to make a lot of mistakes in my details, I would garner a reputation as a sloppy, careless author which might inhibit me from being published in finer magazines or in having a book published. I can no more afford to neglect the details in my stories (or in those of my contributors) than I can in my grammar, spelling, or punctuation.

Here is an example of the lengths to which I like to go to ensure my stories cover their details and are as meticulously crafted as I can make them. Several years ago, I wrote a story called “Shapeshifter” about an alleged werewolf in early 17th century France. When I finished the final draft of the story, I sent it to a friend of mine who is well-read in history. In one scene the protagonist, a wolf falsely accused of being a werewolf, hides in a cathedral. He enters through an open door, runs down the aisle between the pews, and hides in the choir box. On reading this, my friend asked, “did they have pews in France at that time?” This is something I had never thought of. I researched it and found that by the time the story was set, pews had been appearing in churches for about fifty years.

I learned a lesson from that experience, because I always want to be taken seriously as a writer and no one will take me seriously, if I am careless about details. The more careless I am, the less seriously they will take me, but the more careful I am, the more seriously they will take me. This is true of any endeavor.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope that you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Hasta luego.

Please leave any comments or questions below.

If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy some of my stories, which can be found around the Internet and on this page.

Rights and the Small Publisher

Rights and the Small Publisher

Last night, I posted a rather lengthy comment to a post in Lit Mag News about rights and reprints. It was so long that I thought it would be a shame for it to be seen only there and so I thought I would post an expanded and refined version here for your enjoyment and possibly enlightenment.


I publish one small online magazine (thechambermagazine.com) that has been online since December 2020 and am toying with maybe starting one or two more. I see rights as being important if the author being published is well known.

If I publish one of my stories (one that I authored) for the first time anywhere, the general reaction from the reading public will be to the effect of “who cares?”. If Stephen King publishes a new story in, let’s say, the New Yorker, then it’s a big deal. Everyone and his brother will want to read the new Stephen King story the moment it is out and will be willing to pay whatever it takes to read that story. And the way for the New Yorker to maximize their profits on that story is to ensure they are the only ones to have it for a certain period. That is where rights come into play.

But for most writers, even if they are paid at pro rates, they don’t stand to make a lot of money off short stories. The money has been in novels for a long time. The only real value in a short story for a writer is exposure. It keeps that author’s name and talent in front of the public, so they don’t forget him when his novel comes out. They can also help expand the writer’s readership by introducing that writer to a part of the public who has never seen his work.

The key to the entire writing game is exposure. The bigger the readership an author has, the bigger his income is. So, when authors submit stories to my magazine knowing that I cannot pay for them, they do know they will get exposure and another publication credit, and their reputation is bolstered a little for being published among other high-quality authors.

Do I care if a story I publish is a reprint? No. Like someone said elsewhere in the comments, having a previous publication credit is a sign the story is of decent quality (depending on the mag of course). I like publishing a story by a well-known author for the first time, but it’s not critical to me. Anything I print, so long as it is quality material, builds my mag’s reputation and draws more attention to the magazine and ergo increases my readership, who will hopefully come to the website and buy something or make a donation.

Do I care if a story printed somewhere else the next day? No. There are thousands of magazines out there in the literary ether and odds are slim that someone who read a story in my mag (The Chamber Magazine) will read it in another mag the next day. Besides, would seeing a story you know is previously published and is a reprint stop you from reading the mag that reprinted it? Probably not. There will probably be a lot of other stories in that mag that you haven’t read. If someone were copying my magazine issues story by story and publishing them under a different name, that would be another matter, but I have never heard of anyone doing that.

All this would change for me if my circulation were to jump to over 500,000 next week. Then I would want to be a magazine in which all the stories were by nationally known authors and were all being printed for the first time. That would draw a huge readership and involve a lot of money. Rights would be everything then. But in my current very low position on the literary totem pole, rights just don’t mean a lot. I just need good-quality stories that will draw an audience whether or not they already been published. Besides, if a well-known author (we’ll use Stephen King again as a theoretical example) wanted me to reprint one of his short stories, I would say “HELL, YEAH!” Because I need to build my mag’s reputation and place in the public view and having Stephen King listed among my authors would garner me a much larger audience. When an author is printed in a magazine, that story will attract that author’s readership to that mag.

I could go on like this for a while, but I think you get the idea that I am trying to get across. Rights are primarily important if you are publishing a lot of well-known authors whose followers/fanbase want to read his/her stories the instant one is out. Then you want to have a stranglehold on the exposure for all those stories for at least a little while, so that everyone will buy your mag to read those stories they can read nowhere else. But at my low level, it’s a different world.

This was only a first draft (the only difference between what is above and the original is that I corrected one unintended omission and maybe a couple of typos), which will probably raise more questions than it answers. Because I was just commenting on someone else’s post and there were a lot of other comments, I tried to keep my response reasonably brief, which left out a lot of perspectives I would have preferred to address. For that reason, please feel free to ask questions or to comment below. Maybe at some point in the not-too-distant future, I will be able to expand this into the discussion I feel it should be.

How an editor at a publisher acquires a book – by Christine Pride… — Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog

on Nathan Bransford: Greetings writerly people! I’m so happy to be here in this great community my friend Nathan has built to offer semi-regular posts about the publishing industry. For the last two decades, I’ve worked as a book editor at various Big Five houses, as a freelance editor and ghostwriter, and in October will […]

How an editor at a publisher acquires a book – by Christine Pride… — Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog

Introducing Slattery Publishing

So that I now have books on IngramSpark and Amazon and have created The Chamber Magazine and have some items on Zazzle and am constantly exploring other possible online businesses, I have decided to bring them all under the organizational umbrella of Slattery Publishing. Expand this article to read more…

I have decided to push Slattery Publishing a bit more as a business.

I created Slattery Publishing (not an official, established, incorporated company, just a one-man operation) to get a check in the box when I published A Tale of Hell and Other Works of Horror on IngramSpark. The form requested a publisher, so I gave them that name. Slattery Publishing also had a different logo originally. The current logo is another spur of the moment decision.

So that I now had books on IngramSpark and Amazon and was creating The Chamber Magazine and had some items on Zazzle and was constantly exploring other possible online businesses, I decided to bring them all under the organizational umbrella of Slattery Publishing.

As you know, I have published my works on Amazon and one at IngramSpark as well. Recently, while watching some YouTube videos, I became interested in publishing no or low content books as an additional line of income. They are relatively easy to make and may bring in another cash flow if handled right.

If you are not familiar with no/low content books, these are books like journals and diaries and blank books (no content) and coloring books and puzzles, etc. (low content books).

I have not tried to create any low content books yet, but I have created several on Amazon. They are fun and easy to make. I made a few test samples, which are at amazon.com/author/philslattery. These I made with no title or subtitle as those would be on the amazon page anyway and I did not want to limit possible buyers to a particular subject. A simple photo can be seen as representing many things, but once a title is added, those possibilities are narrowed considerably. But then, I found out that Amazon indexes by title and subtitles and it’s easier to recognize the purpose of a book if it has a title. Therefore, my next several books all had titles and subtitles.

Once I started creating these books, my creativity took hold and I found it was hard for me to stop creating these. I decided to start afresh with the journals and to keep them separate from my personal Amazon account, so that my few works of fiction wouldn’t be lost in the deluge of no-content books. Therefore, I created a separate Amazon account for Slattery Publishing.

I have created several notebooks so far. I am trying to make them incredibly beautiful and colorful, so that they catch eyes wandering over hundreds of notebooks trying to find the prettiest one or the one that best suits their philosophy or mood or whatever. Also, I now try to give them titles that reflect a certain subject, which is represented by the cover art. I also put a watermark related to the subject on each page and all the pages are numbered. Although most “blank books” don’t do this, I would find it useful if I ever wanted to jot down where I could find a specific note or create a table of contents or whatever. I also make them often in large sizes (8.5 x 11) with 200-300 pages so that the owner make copious notes. I also make some in a more convenient 6 x 9 size and I will experiment with other sizes as my creative side develops.

So, check out the notebooks at the links above and see which you think is the most beautiful and eye-catching. If you really like something, let me know, so that I can expand on that line. If you see something you don’t like, let me know, so that I can improve the marketability of my books and Slattery Publishing will be able to produce better books.

A few examples of the covers are below. you can find all at Slattery Publishing.

Be forewarned: as these are new, there may be a few glitches on Amazon’s part. I spot-checked one and it had someone else’s interior. All mine will have numbered pages and a watermark on each page. Nothing else at this point, though I will probably introduce lined pages soon.

More choices are available at Slattery Publishing.

Marketing: Three New Headers

I added three more headers to my rolling headers on the homepage of this website. Two feature well-known authors and one is advertising for my poetry collection, Nocturne.

I added three more headers to my rolling headers on the homepage of this website. I am becoming a bit more proficient with Pixlr. Instead of simply cropping a public domain photo, I created a background and pasted a photo on it along with text. I will start adding more headers with photos of my favorite authors. This may bring a few more visitors when my site pops up in search results for these authors. Of course, I am including the authors’ names in the metadata for the photo so that it will be searchable.

I also created a header for my poetry collection Nocturne, but with this I again cropped a public domain photo and added some text. I am not real happy with the lower text stating Nocturne‘s availability. The color does not have enough contrast from the background in part of it, but I didn’t want it to distract too much from the title either.

Let me know what you think.

Nocturne Love Poems

Update of August 15, 2020: You can purchase the print edition of Nocturne through Barnes and Noble.

Phil Slattery portrait
Phil Slattery
March, 2015

I apologize for not getting a Saturday Night Special up tonight. It fell through the proverbial cracks.

However, I do want to make it known that you can now get the print edition of Nocturne: Poems of Love, Distance, and the Night, a callous and disinterested lover through Barnes and Noble. They are not stocking the shelves with it, but if you ask they can order for you.

I was in Little Rock to buy a new cell phone today and thought I would drop by the nearby Barnes and Noble. I have always loved to hang out in the cafe with an iced tea or coffee and write or peruse the stacks. I went in for that purpose and while I was there I inquired about what are the most popular books (this is just for the Little Rock location on Chenal). I found out that for about two years they have had a problem staying supplied with Where the Crawdads Sing and that the most popular horror writer they sell there is Darcy Oates. I looked at some of her books. They appear interesting. I may have to get one soon.

As you probably know, I have been looking at using someone other than Amazon to publish the print editions of the my works. One factor I have to consider is each of the publishing platform’s distribution. Amazon distributes to Barnes and Noble along with many others. So, I wondered if someone could order my works through B&N.

I went to the counter and asked the lady if she could order A Tale of Hell… She said no, it didn’t appear in her search results. So I went back to perusing the shelves, studying cover design, etc. Then I thought, let me see if she can order by my last name. To my surprise, she said the print edition Nocturne was available. I almost fainted. I had published it only a few days ago. I told her I was the author and asked a few more questions of her. She said it had probably appeared because it was a new work. My other works, she said, they would have to order through Amazon and were print on demand. This was excellent news to me, because my latest edition of A Tale of Hell… should be coming out by the 17th if not sooner.  It seems that Amazon has changed their distribution procedures and now print editions go out to the stores. That’s my assumption. I won’t know for certain until I do more research.

New cover of Nocturne
New Cover as of August 9, 2020

Now, I plan to issue new print editions of all my works, except for Alien Embrace and Diabolical. These are included in A Tale of Hell…. I published these separately only so that readers can sample my work in a specific genre. These smaller collections are also cheap in terms of print costs, so that I can hand out samples of my works at little cost to me.

I am thinking I will also have to rethink how I produce collections.  The new print edition of A Tale of Hell… is about 300 pages and at $14,.95 is priced approximately the same as other books of that length, if not a little cheaper. But I think I am going to have to come out with a more professional cover design, if it can now be placed on shelves at places like Barnes and Noble. So, there will be another edition of it coming out soon, and I may included Click in it as a bonus story, simply because at this time I have no other similar stories of that genre to collect into one volume. I might as well use it to increase the size of A Tale of Hell… and keep the price the same to that the reader gets more for their money.

I am considering grouping Nocturne and The Scent and Other Stories together to make a bigger volume, but I am not certain how I would do that, as they are so different thematically. I may through my stories and see if there are a few more that I might include or that would not take much to finish them, so that I can include them.

Of course, I am also considering just grouping everything together in one big volume, but I am not certain how that would work because the genres are so different.

Anyway, those are some initial thoughts.

I am going  to now come up with a plan to get local stores, and by “local” I mean at stores between Texarkana and Memphis. If I can do that, I might have toehold on getting even more widespread distribution.

Cover for New Print Edition of A Tale of Hell
Cover for New Print Edition of A Tale of Hell and Other Works of Horror

So, I have a lot to think about.

If you have suggestions, please let me know, I welcome suggestions and recommendations.

Of course, if you are a book dealer and would like to sell my print editions, please contact me or go through whatever distribution connections you have with Amazon. And, if you sell books, I would be happy to discuss a book signing and/or reading with you.

Hasta luego. Please leave any comments, thoughts, suggestions, and recommendations below.



Writing a Book: What You Need to Know About the Publishing Process

Writing a Book: What You Need to Know About the Publishing Process

Writing a Book: What You Need to Know About the Publishing Process

— Read on freeplrarticles.biz/writing-a-book-what-you-need-to-know-about-the-publishing-process/

The Farmington Writers Circle Meets Tonight at 7:00 P.M. at Hastings on 20th.

Farmington Hastings Hardback Cafe
Farmington Hastings Hardback Café

The Farmington Writers Circle meets tonight at 7:00 p.m. at Hastings Hardback Café on 20th Street.   The topic of the evening will be writing pitches and hooks and will be led by Traci HalesVass, assistant professor of English at San Juan College.  The meeting is open to the general public.

The Farmington Writers Circle is a nascent organization of authors and writers, who are interested in publishing and marketing their works.

Please contact Phil Slattery via this website with any questions or comments.