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Welcome to the 2011 Historical Fiction Challenge! As most of my close friends know, I am equally adept at making simple things complicated as I am at making complicated things simple. I'm afraid I've done the former with this challenge, but I hope in the process, you will be able to develop a personal HF reading goal for 2011 that is achievable for you. And we will all celebrate with you when you reach your goal, whether that goal is to read 6 books or 30 books. I also hope that you try some new things, find some new authors or sub-genres to enjoy and have some fun along the way. PLEASE do not be intimidated by my verbose details. I tried to anticipate questions and answer them ahead of time, so it looks a lot longer and more complicated than it is.
For future reference, this first post will serve as a "table of contents" for the challenge. The blue links will take you to the details about each topic. Here we go!
There are four CHALLENGES. The challenges are comprised of 6 - 12 CATEGORIES each.
CHALLENGE # 1 - It's About Time - Read a book in each of 11 specific time periods.
CHALLENGE # 2 - It's A Small World - Read a book set on each contintent (except Antartica)
CHALLENGE # 3 - It's Up to You - Pick 8 of 12 topical categories
CHALLENGE # 4 - It's All Relative - Read 6 books that are somehow related
MEDALS AND BANNERS
You can combine challenges to earn MEDALS. Medals details and Banners here
Gold Medal - Complete all 4 challenges with no duplication
Silver Medal - Complete all 4 with duplication, or any 3 without duplication
Bronze Medal - Complete any 3 challenges with duplication, or any 2 without duplication
You can complete additional tasks associated with challenges to earn ACHIEVEMENTS Achievement Details Here
The Efficiency Achievement
The Time Traveler
Around the World in 80 Days
So there you have it! To set your 2011 HF reading goal, pick your Challenges, combine them to earn a Medal and tackle an Achievement or two. For example, your goal may be: Silver Medal using Challenges 1, 2 & 3 and The Time Traveler Achievement. See?? Easy! Good luck! and keep on scrolling for more details. And once you've decided what to do, you can post your lists in:
Last Edited on: 11/4/10 11:30 AM ET - Total times edited: 6
CHALLENGE #1 - IT'S ABOUT TIME
Read one book from each of the following time period categories:
500 BC - 0 BC
0 AD - 500 AD
500 AD - 800 AD
800 AD - 1000 AD
1900 - 1960
This website HistoricalNovels.info categorizes HF by time and place and may help you identify books to use for this challenge.
I chose specific years rather than "eras", ie., Prehistoric, Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, etc. to avoid having to define each era, overlaps between eras, etc. This seemed simpler to me. See, I can make some things simple!
CHALLENGE # 2 - IT'S A SMALL WORLD
Read one book set on each continent except Antartica. Apparently, there is a lot of controversy in counting the number of continents and the countries on each continent (who knew??). So for the purposes of this challenge, we will use this website World Atlas as our standard. Once on the website, use the links to the continents listed under "By Size" on the left side of the page, which will bring up a map of each continent labeled with the countries included on that continent.
The categories for this challenge are:
CHALLENGE # 3 IT'S UP TO YOU
Pick any 8 of the following 12 categories. You may use a non-fiction book to satisfy one category if you like.
1. Deflowering - If you are an Elizabeth Chadwick, Bernard Cornwell or Sharon Kay Penman virgin, isn't it about time you gave in to the HF Forum peer pressure and take the plunge? If you've read something by all three of them, how about one of these other HF Forum favorites: Jean Plaidy, Margaret George, Diana Gabaldon, Dorothy Dunnett, Conn Iggulden. And IF you've read all of those, too, any new-to-you author will satisfy this category.
2. Proud to Be An American - In honor of the 235th birthday of our country, read a book set in what is now the US between 1492 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue and 1791, when the Bill of Rights was ratified.
3. Historical Hunks - We can't get enough of our historical pretend boyfriends! Whether it's Uhtred, Jaime, Nathaniel, William Marshall or any guy in tights, chain mail or chaps, read a book about your favorite hunk. And if we have any men joining us in our challenge this year, feel free to substitute your favorite hunk-ette!
4. Wild Women - These girls aren't sitting around on their tuffets waiting for their prince to come. They are out there making things happen! Read a book about a strong woman who would make Eleanor of Aquitaine and Isabel of Castile proud. This website has a long list of concise descriptions of Historical Fiction by and about women.
5. Follow the Leader - Trends come and go...and come...and go... Read a book in one of these recent trends:
6. Shiny and New - Who says it has to be old to be good? Read a book published for the first time October 2010 or later.
7. Recommended by a HF Forum Friend - We all know the readers on the HF Forum pick the best books. One mention here by one of our respected members can create a WL faster than you can say Gwenwynwyn. So read a book recommended by one of our own.
8. In the Name of Love - Read a book about one of the great relationships in history, or about a leading historical figure and his/her spouse, such as Nicholas & Alexandria; Caesar & Cleopatra; Henry II & Eleanor; Louis & Marie Antoinette; George & Martha Washington; Henry VIII & Catherine of Aragon; Henry VIII & Anne Bolyne; Henry VIII & Jane Seymour; Henry VIII & ...well...you get the picture!
9. This Means War - Read a book set during a major military conflict. Not a little border skirmish in the 18th century between the Turks and the Kurds...it has to be an all out war.
10. On This Day in History - Read a book that is somehow connected to your birth date (month and day, not year). For example, if you were born on April 6, the day that Richard I died from an arrow wound to the arm, you could read anything about Richard I for this category. Some reference websites to find out what happened on the day you were born (as if anything more important than you being born happened!)
11. Play it Again Sam - Re-read a favorite HF or Classic book, OR Give a second chance to a book you tried but did not finish OR Give a second chance to an author you did not like
12. Hidden Gem - Read a book with 2 or less reviews on PBS and write a review for it. Good or bad, your opinion counts!
Last Edited on: 11/3/10 11:44 AM ET - Total times edited: 10
CHALLENGE # 4 - IT'S ALL RELATIVE
Choose any 6 HF books that are somehow related to each other. They can be six Historical Mystery, six Historical Fantasy, six books by the same author or part of the same series, six books set in the same country, six books about the Tudors, six HF books already on your TBR ... any way you can relate the 6 books will do! Be creative!
MEDALS AND BANNERS
Gold Medal Complete all 4 challenges with no duplication
Gold Medal Banner:
Silver Medal - Complete all 4 with duplication, or any 3 without duplication
Silver Medal Banner
Bronze Medal - Complete any 3 challenges with duplication, or any 2 without duplication
Bronze Medal Banner
Note: For the Medals, "duplication" means using a single book to meet one of the requirements in each of two different challenges. You may not use a single book to meet more than two requirements, and you cannot use a single book to meet two categories within one challenge. For example, if you read The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick, you could use it for the 1000/1100's in Challenge #1 and for Historical Hunks in Challenge #3. But you could not also use it for Europe in Challenge #2 or Deflowering in Challenge #3.
Generic Challenge Banners
Last Edited on: 11/1/10 6:18 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Achievements can be earned by completing additional tasks associated with the Challenges
The Efficiency Achievement - Complete all 4 challenges using as few books as possible. The mathematical minimum is 11 - can you do it? For this achievement, you may use the same book for as many challenges as it will fit, but may only use it for one category within a challenge. For example, if you read The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick, you could use it for the 1000/1100's in Challenge #1 and for Historical Hunks in Challenge #3. You could also use it for Europe in Challenge #2 , but not for Deflowering in Challenge #3.
Time Traveler - Complete Challenge #1 in Chronological Order
Around the World in 80 Days - Complete Challenge #2 in 80 Days. You do not have to read them back to back. As long as you finish the last one within 80 days of starting the first one, you can read others in between. You can do this challenge any time during the year. It does not have to be done in the first 80 days of the year.
Trendsetter - Read one book in each of the options for the Follow the Leader category in Challenge #3.
Over Achiever - Complete all 12 of the Categories in Challenge #3
Extreme Explorer - Find and read an HF book set in Antartica
FIrst-Timer - If this is your first time to participate in the PBS Historical Fiction annual challenge, complete one or more challenges to earn this achievement.
Last Edited on: 11/4/10 11:31 AM ET - Total times edited: 3
Go! Let me know what I've left out...what's not clear...what needs to be tweaked.
And what do you think about discussion posts? One for each category in Challenges 1 and 3, one for Challenge 2, one for Challenge 4, one for Achievements? That's 25 posts and seems like a lot. Maybe not do one for each category in Challenge 1? I didn't really post in the discussion posts this year, so I'm not sure how they are used.
Outstanding job, Christa! We take a deep bow for your ingenuity, attention to detail, obvious organization skills, etc., etc. I do have two comments/questions:
1) RE: Duplication. Just want to confirm that we can actually duplicate one time, as long as it is not within the same challenge? Do I have this right? A title can count twice as long as it's in two separate challenges?
2) RE: Discussion posts. While I haven't posted as much this year as previously, Linda & I both try to keep up with them - who has read what, whether they liked it, etc., etc. So, however you decide to do it, I'm in favor of discussion posts. However, with that said, 25 is a lot of separate posts! Maybe just one for each challenge & let us identify the categories in our posts ??
Okay, Christa--my question is--how many hours of work did it take for you to prepare this? It took me 20 minutes just to read it! Not being the HF experts that the rest of you guys are I was afraid that this challenge would be too difficult for me, but you've managed to make it accessible for everyone.
P.S. As far as discussion posts go, I think 25 would be too many too. If it takes too long to find the post you're looking for as they drop off onto page 2, etc., it could discourage comments.
Last Edited on: 11/1/10 12:21 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Thanks for everyone's nice comments. I'm glad you are already enjoying the hunt for Challenge books!
I'll try to clarify the duplication rule for you, Kelly. You are correct about this:
A title can count twice as long as it's in two separate challenges
But if by this:
we can actually duplicate one time
you mean you can only use one duplicated book and can't duplicate another book, that is incorrect. You may duplicate as many as you want to, as long as you only use each one for no more than two challenges.
I'm better with examples. Let's say you are going for the Silver Medal using all four categories with duplication. And you did as I suggested in my earlier example and counted The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick for the 1000/1100's in Challenge #1 and for Historical Hunks in Challenge #3. You could also use Washington's Lady by Nancy Moser for the North America category in Challenge #2 and the In the Name of Love category in Challenge #3.
Of course, this only applies if you are going for one of the medals that allows duplication. If you are going for the Gold Medal, there is no duplication allowed.
Not being the HF experts that the rest of your guys are I was afraid that this challenge would be too difficult for me, but you've managed to make it accessible for everyone.
That comment makes me especially happy! I was trying to strike the balance between something with enough challenge and research for those old-timers who have read all the "common" stuff and those who are newer to the genre and want to use as much on their TBR as possible. Any book you pick up should be able to fit in at least two or three places. And, for those whose ONLY goal is to work down their TBR, notice that you can do Challenge #4 using only books from your TBR! So Jeanne, there goes your excuse for not participating in the challenge! LOL!
As far as the amount of time it took, I spend a lot of my day sitting in on boring conference calls with the mute button on and only paying half attention. During those times, I would bring up my Word file with the challenge info in and start typing descriptions. Not so bad...it was all ready to just cut and paste and make the links this morning.
I had decided to try challenge #1 and maybe do challenge #4 with historical mysteries since mysteries are my favorite genre. But now I'm thinking it would be fun to try to find all historical mysteries for challenge #1--if there even are prehistoric mysteries! But since I feel guilty reading all mysteries, I can use challenge #4 to read some heavier books...I would have to find a connection between them that doesn't restrict me into one single time span or country...this is going to be great!
Here is the post where Valli suggested it as a "trend" www.paperbackswap.com/forum/topic.php?t=218388&l=25&ls=25#p4566578
Here is one of the articles she may have been referring to www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/05/how-historical-fiction-went-highbrow/7378/
Here is a list of books tagged "highbrow" on LibraryThing www.librarything.com/tag/highbrow
"Highbrow" fictional generally refers to work that is more intellectual or cultured in nature as opposed to more plot-driven fiction. Think just about anything recommended by Oprah, vs. James Patterson or John Grisham.
OMG! Christa. What a wonderful job. I am impressed - not enough to actually participate however. You know I hate challenges, too much like work. I will continue to follow along in the forums. I'll be the HF observer.
Gold medal, silver medal - this isn't a challenge - it's the Historical Fiction Olympics!
Since everyone else is...I posted this in your other challenge thread, but it should be here:
Christa...I don't want to muddy up your 2011 thread, but you did a FANTASTIC job organizing our challenges!! I'm very impressed! And lucky me, after my root canal (visit two) this morning, I can laze around the house and figure out which books on Mount TBR will work for the various categories!
You get a major gold star.
Thanks again for all the nice comments. This is what I do for a living....plan, organize, break things down in chunks...so it's just how I roll. If you ever need anything planned, I'm your gal. You don't even want to see what I do for a family vacation.
Vicky, I hope that root canal wasn't too awful. I can't wait to see what everyone starts to put on their list!
Gold medal, silver medal - this isn't a challenge - it's the Historical Fiction Olympics! Ha ha! I was actually thinking more along the lines of the Angry Birds game, but Olympics works too!
ETA: Ooo! I forgot that I was going to share my nice email exchange with an author. For the On this Day in History category, I was looking for what I could do. My birthday is March 17 so something about St. Patrick would be the obvious choice, but who likes to be obvious? One of the sites listed "Prince Willem of Orange welcomed in Amsterdam". I love Amsterdam. So I went in search for books on Willem. I found he was a contemporary and ally of Elizabeth I, he was more commonly known as William the Silent because he refused to take a public stand on controversial topics, and he was the first head of state to be assassinated by a pistol. Interesting fellow. I found some non-fiction about him but the only reference to fiction about him that I could find was on CW Gortner's blog, the delightful historyboys.blogspot.com. He did an interview with a new-ish author named Rory Clements who had started a historical mystery series based on William Shakespeare's brother, John. The first book is called Martyr and he mentioned William the Silent in his interview. So then I went to Rory Clements' very nice website, where William the Silent was listed as one of the people in John Shakespeare's world. But William was assassinated a few years before Martyr starts and I was confused, so I wrote to Mr. Clements and asked if William the Silent was really a character in his book, or if his assassination was just mentioned. He responded in just a few hours. He said:
You're right, of course, my book Martyr is set in 1587. The assassination of William is described (as is the hideous punishment meted out to the killer) and it has an important bearing on my story, but isn't the story itself. I'm sure there must be a fictionalised version of his death somewhere (probably in Dutch) but I'm afraid I don't know what it is.
Good luck with your quest.
Best wishes, Rory
I thought that was very nice of him to respond so promptly. So if I can't find a book where William the Silent is a more prominent character, I will try to acquire Martyr and read that for the Day in History category.
Last Edited on: 11/1/10 8:36 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Love these challenges and am already researching away! I already have a question too. Since King Arthur was around 500 AD timeframe would you ladies put him in the 0-500 AD category or the 500-800 AD category? I have a buttload of Arthur books and can't decide which category to put them in.
ETA: Just saw the banners. Lovely job Christa! You've thought of everything!
Last Edited on: 11/1/10 8:41 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
It seems to me that if the book you are reading placed him after 500, then the book fits in 500-800. If before, than 0-500. And I suppose you could read TWO Arthur books for the challenge, provided that one put him before and another after.
AWESOME challenge, Christa!! I'm looking forward to planning this almost as much as all the reading!
Last Edited on: 11/1/10 9:04 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
When I think "highbrow" historical fiction, I think of books that would also be labeled as literary fiction. Books like Hilary Mantel's "A Place of Greater Safety" and "Wolf Hall", Peter Carey's "The True History of the Kelly Gang", and David Mitchell's newest book, "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet". Of course, there are many, many others.
These are authors whose books are considered first as "literary fiction" and they have happened to write an historical tome.
Can we do the Trendsetter Achievement without doing the rest of Challenge #3? I love literary fiction and Ancient Egypt, so two of them would be easy. Umm, don't know about the headless lady though...