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"The Fine Art of Researching Your Novel"
How To Add Detail without Drowning in Trivia

Saturday, February 19th, 3:00 pm
Palms-Rancho Park Library in the Ray Bradbury Room. 

Few issues will cause readers to put down a novel faster than poorly-researched details. There will always be someone who knows more than you and will catch the slightest error: Would an Anglo-Saxon king wear silk? How might the superstring theory affect space ships? What are the laws affecting modern day bounty-hunters? How many bullets can a fifty-caliber revolver hold? Does it snow in Hawaii? Are there crocodiles or alligators in Lake Petén Itzá? Even one unbelievable detail can cause readers to lose faith in you and your novel.

Our panel of multi-award winning and best-selling authors and experts, included Harry Turtledove, Barbara Hambly and Sarah Beach, who shared tips and experiences on how to avoid disaster, while scripting your next novel into a compelling and interesting read.

Also, GLAWS presented Harry Turtledove with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Neil Citrin, Harry Turtledove, Tony N Todaro and Ace Hall present a Lifetime Achievement Award

Harry Turtledove at GLAWSHarry Turtledove has been dubbed "The Master of Alternate History". Within that genre he is known both for creating original alternate history scenarios such as survival of the Byzantine Empire or an alien invasion in the middle of the Second World War and for giving a fresh and original treatment to themes previously dealt with by many others, such as the victory of the South in the American Civil War and of Nazi Germany in the Second World War. His novels have been credited with bringing alternate history into the mainstream. His style of alternate history has a strong military theme with scenes of combat happening throughout many of his works.

He attended UCLA, where he received a Ph.D. in Byzantine history in 1977. His dissertation was entitled The Immediate Successors of Justinian: A Study of the Persian Problem and of Continuity and Change in Internal Secular Affairs in the Later Roman Empire During the Reigns of Justin II and Tiberius II Constantine (AD 565–582).

Turtledove won the Homer Award for Short Story in 1990 for "Designated Hitter," the John Esten Cooke Award for Southern Fiction in 1993 for The Guns of the South, the Hugo Award for Novella in 1994 for "Down in the Bottomlands." "Must and Shall" was nominated for the 1996 Hugo Award for Best Novelette, the 1996 Nebula Award for Best Novelette and received an honorable mention for the 1995 Sidewise Award for Alternate History. The Two Georges also received an honorable mention for the 1995 Sidewise Award for Alternate History. The Worldwar series received a Sidewise Award for Alternate History Honorable Mention in 1996. In 1998, the novel How Few Remain won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. He won his second Sidewise Award in 2003 for the novel Ruled Britannia.[4] On August 1, 1998, Turtledove was named honorary Kentucky Colonel while Guest of Honor at Rivercon XXIII in Louisville, Kentucky. The Gladiator was the co-winner of the 2008 Prometheus Award.

A prolific and popular writer of alternate history novels, Harry Turtledove was inspired to study Byzantine history after reading L. Sprague de Camp's 1941 novel Lest Darkness Fall, and eventually earned a Ph.D. in that subject from UCLA. Early works, including first novel Wereblood (1979; uncharacteristically, a sword & sorcery novel) appeared under the name "Eric G. Iverson". Turtledove's long running "Videssos" cycle, about Romans transported to another universe, began in 1987 with The Misplaced Legion. Among many works since then are Agent of Byzantium (1987), US Civil War novels The Guns of the South (1992) and How Few Remain (1997), a series about aliens who interrupt World War II beginning with In the Balance (1994), and Ruled Britannia (1992), about a Britain conquered by the Spanish Armada. His short fiction includes the Hugo Award winning novella "Down in the Bottomlands" (1993), Hugo and Nebula nominee "Must and Shall" (1995), and Hugo nominee "Forty, Counting Down" (1999).

Mr. Turtledove says, “Real historians have discovered alternate history — although they don’t call it that; they call it ‘counterfactuals.’ I find those mostly uninteresting, because they do the same thing novels do except they don’t have to bother with characterization. It’s similar to game fiction. Alternate history in game fiction bears the same relationship to character-driven alternate history that technothrillers do to SF — more concerned with the background and the gadgets than with the effect of the changes on society. To me, the best and most interesting way to portray changes is to make the characters as interesting as possible. You have to work very hard to try to figure out how they would think under those changed circumstances and to present that to the readers in a way they find interesting and believable.”

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The Harry Turtledove Website | Buy more books here


Barbara Hambly at GLAWS"I always wanted to be a writer but everyone kept telling me it was impossible to break into the field or make money. I've proven them wrong on both counts." -Barbara Hambly

Since her first published fantasy in 1982 – THE TIME OF THE DARK – Barbara Hambly has touched pretty much all the bases in genre fiction, including mainstream historical fiction, historical murder mysteries, fantasy, science fiction, comic books, graphic novels, the occult romance novella “Someone Else’s Shadow”, media tie-ins, a screenplay, and scripts for Saturday morning cartoon shows.

She continues to write both fantasy and historical fiction: her vampire novel BLOOD MAIDENS (Severn House) has just been released in the U.K. and her most recent historical whodunnit, DEAD & BURIED, continues the well-reviewed Benjamin January series. She writes historical mysteries under her own name (the Benjamin January series) and that of Barbara Hamilton (THE NINTH DAUGHTER, and its sequel A MARKED MAN).

In addition – when she can – she writes short fiction about the further adventures of characters from her fantasy novels of the ‘80s and ‘90s, which can be purchased via download from her website, She currently teaches History part-time at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, and if you’re all that interested in her views on the weather, her cats, World of Warcraft, and sometimes writing, you can read her blog at She also does Twitter. Hambly's interests include historical research, dance, hiking, costuming, Japanese, and videogames. She currently does not have time to do any of these. Now a widow, she shares a house in Los Angeles with several small carnivores. Learn more at:

Barbara Hambly Website | Buy more books here

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Jamie Weiss Chilton at the Greater Los Angeles Writers SocietySarah Beach has both a Bachelor's and Master's degree in English, specializing in medieval literature. Her personal studies of mythology led her to write THE SCRIBBLER'S GUIDE TO THE LAND OF MYTH, about the mythic structures writers use to enhance their stories.

She spent 18 years on the research staff of the quiz show JEOPARDY! She has published a range of writings, from literary scholarship to comic book short stories.

Sarah Beach at GLAWSShe was Chair of the Mythcon 40 Conference held at UCLA in 2009.

"The years of working in libraries along with my time at Jeopardy! have given me very strong research skills. I apply all this background not just to my own writing projects, but also to consulting and coaching (in any creative medium)."

Sarah is also a Writing Coach & Consultant and Author , and specializes in the Anaylsis of mythic motifs in stories; structure concerns; developing characterizations; and preparing research.

Sarah Beach Website | Buy Books Here


The Greater Los Angeles Writers Society is a non-profit organization that provides a forum for writers of all disciplines to meet and discuss the craft and the business of writing. GLAWS accomplishes this through monthly meetings, discussion forums, critique groups, special writer appearances, conferences, and other events conducted for the purpose of educating and mentoring writers of all levels of expertise. GLAWS Special Speaker Events are open to the public, and a great venue to meet other writers and expand your expertise.

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