Recently, I received some really amazing feedback for one of my historicals A Promise Forged. First, you need to know a little about the story, set in 1943:
When Kat Miller makes All-American Girls Professional Softball League, she struggles with long road trips, grueling practices, and the challenge of making time for God. Not only that, but older teammates are jealous of her success and an irritating reporter, Jack Raymond, has a knack for getting under Kat’s skin.
I received a package from my editor a few weeks ago. When I opened up this package, I was instantly intrigued by its contents, especially the black and white baseball card autographed to me and the autobiography with a photo of a female softball player on the cover. The card is about to get put in a shadowbox frame -- it's an amazing gift.
It also came with a letter: "...A friend gave me the book because she knew I had played in the All-American Girls' Professional Baseball League in 1954 for the Grand Rapids Chicks. As I read the book, it was like I was walking in Kat's shoes, reliving my life again.I am enclosing a book I wrote about my ball playing days, and a signed baseball card....Thank you for the great story!"
This type of feedback is a dream come true for a writer. It lets me know all my research paid off and I got the details right. How often have you read a book that's moving along and then the author gets one fact wrong. While you were going with the characters before, now you can't. The error (no matter how small) is a glaring problem. It makes you doubt everything else.
So for a historical, I spend time in archives and talking to historians and people who lived it. For a suspense I talk to arson investigators, police detectives, etc. But as a writer, I have to get the details right.
And when we do? Serendipity!