Celebrating WHEELS OF CHANGE and Authenticity in Historical Novels by Darlene Beck Jacobson

I am pleased to welcome Darlene Beck Jacobson, author of WHEELS OF CHANGE, which has arrived from Creston Books TODAY, 9/22/2014. Congratulations Darlene! It’s an honor to help celebrate the release of your new book!

WHEELS OF CHANGE has been receiving excellent reviews, including this stellar review from KIRKUS REVIEWS:

Excerpt: "Resemblances to To Kill a Mockingbird are strong, especially during a tea party hosted by Emily’s mother. A nice touch: Throughout much of the book, Papa teaches Emily—and vicariously, readers—new vocabulary words. The strength of the text lies in Jacobson’s ability to evoke a different era and to endear readers to the protagonist. The prose is straightforward and well-researched, heavily peppered with historical references and containing enough action to keep readers’ attention

Click for full review. 



Darlene Beck Jacobson has loved writing since she was a girl.  Although she never wrote to a president, she sent many letters to pop stars of the day asking for photos and autographs.  She loves bringing the past to life in stories such as WHEELS OF CHANGE, her debut novel. If you’d like to see a trailer for this book click here:          

Darlene’s blog features recipes, activities, crafts and interviews with children’s book authors and illustrators. She still loves writing and getting letters.  Check out her website at: 

or on Twitter @dustbunnymaven


Racial intolerance, social change, sweeping progress. It is a turbulent time growing up in 1908. For twelve year old EMILY SOPER, life in Papa’s carriage barn is magic. Emily is more at home hearing the symphony of the blacksmith’s hammer, than trying to conform to the proper expectations of females. Many prominent people own Papa’s carriages. He receives an order to make one for President Theodore Roosevelt. Papa’s livelihood becomes threatened by racist neighbors, and horsepower of a different sort. Emily is determined to save Papa’s business even if she has to go all the way to the President.


As a reader, (and a writer) I love historical fiction and being transported to a past time and place. So I took this opportunity to ask Darlene to share a few details about one of the areas of writing historical fiction that is fascinating to me: Authenticity. Here is Darlene's thoughtful essay on Authenticity in Historical Fiction:


by Darlene Beck-Jacobson, author of WHEELS OF CHANGE

To create authenticity or believability in historical fiction is just like setting a scene in any kind of writing.  The writer needs to pay attention to details. As a reader, I’m more likely to immerse myself in a story universe that is believable and accurate.  If I want readers of WHEELS OF CHANGE to follow Emily Soper’s adventures, they have to be grounded in the reality of 1908 Washington DC.

What was life like in the Nation’s Capital 100 years ago?

It was very rural for one thing. With the exception of Pennsylvania Avenue, the area around the train station, and a few streets bordering 7th Street – the main street of commerce - there was only gas lighting and no electricity. Indoor plumbing was still a novelty.  Many roads were unpaved or had cobblestones. There were farms and wooded areas surrounding the government buildings. Most people still rode in horse-drawn wagons, carriages, or buggies.  Many goods were still made by hand.  Incorporating these details into the story grounds it and fixes the time and place. 

Character is another way to create an authentic story.  When a story takes place in another era, the writer has to be sure to use language and sentence structure that rings true.  In 1908, children spoke in a more formal style, like their parents.  Very little slang was used.  Children addressed other adults as Mr. or Mrs. and often used “sir” or ‘ma’am” when speaking to their parents.

A character’s actions and behavior was different than it is today.  Expectations for males and females were much more divided and specific.  Boys had more freedom to explore and be adventurous.  They were expected to roughhouse and get into trouble now and then.  Girls on the other hand, were expected to be lady-like and exhibit proper behavior at all times.  They were encouraged to excel at the “domestic arts” such as sewing, cooking, housekeeping, and child rearing.

Here are some of the “Rules of Etiquette” young people were expected to follow at the turn of the Twentieth Century.


13 Mannerisms To Be Avoided By All:

1. Whispering or pointing in company.

2. Giving attention to only one person when more are present.

3. Contradicting parents, friends, or strangers.

4. Laughing loudly.

5. Making noise with hands and feet.

6. Leaning on the shoulder or chair of another.

7. Throwing things instead of handing them.

8. Crowding or bumping elbows.

9. Contempt in looks, words, or actions.

10. Drawing attention to self with dress.

11. Lending a borrowed book.

12. Reading when there is company, or when others are speaking.

13. Laughing at the mistakes of others.

Manners Approprite For All:

1. To be gentle and patient with others.

2. To remember that while speech is wonderful, it is sometimes better to be silent.

3. Speak with a gentle tone and never in anger.

4. Learn to deny yourself and put others first.

5. Give applause only by clapping hands – not by kicking or stamping feet.

6. Rise to one’s feet when an older person or dignitary enters the room.

All this makes me wonder: How many of these rules do any of us consider important today?


Thank you for these excellent insights, Darlene. You ask a great question at the end. Some of these rules seem outdated, but many of them are very good rules. I wonder what would happen if we started to follow those again.

More Darlene Beck Jacobson Blog Tour Goodness:

On 9/19, Darlene joined Tara Lazar to discuss popular toys of the era. Click here to learn more:     

Tomorrow, you can join Darlene on her tour with Holly Schindler where she is sharing an excerpt from WHEELS OF CHANGE:       

Thank you for making The Writer’s Whimsy a stop on your blog tour, Darlene. Best wishes on the release of WHEELS OF CHANGE, and again CONGRATULATIONS!



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Reader Comments (1)

Thanks so much for having me on your journal. It's an exciting day for me: I have my launch and signing party later today. Your being a part of the journey has made the day especially exciting. Thanks for helping me spread the word!


Congratulations, Darlene! Thank you for this thoughtful post. I was happy to help welcome WHEELS OF CHANGE into the world!

September 22, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdarlene beck jacobson

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