These and the other pictures she took helped. The Catholic church behind the chain link fence had been built in the 1830's, so it was there when my book took place. Patty even brought me a rock from Golden. I held it and looked it sometimes while I thought about what the pictures showed.
But that wasn't enough. I emailed the American Christian Fiction Writers main loop and asked if someone lived in or near the Golden, New Mexico, area. One of the members sent me the email of one of her friends, who lived down the road a ways from where Golden stood. When I asked about the native plants and animals, what she sent me gave me more help.
I also Googled the wildflowers of New Mexico, so I could actually see what they looked like in the area of the state where my book plays out, from Golden to Los Cerrillos. And I needed to know about the railroad in the area at that time. I found a map of the Santa Fe railroad in my time period, which was a big help. I had to rethink how I used trains after I found out all about the railroad. Even the kind of railroad cars and stops were added to the story. These changes developed into more interesting settings, which gave the story an added punch of internal conflict in both the hero and the heroine.
Before even starting the book, I had researched the counties of New Mexico to find the exact place where I could develop the story. This research unearthed many interesting facts about gold mining. I found online a book with a historical account of Golden, written by a man who lived in Albuquerque. Reading that book helped me understand more about the mining and other businesses in the town.
In addition to all this, I needed information about Boston, midwifery, feeding newborns, clothing, other transportation besides the railroad, ranching near Golden, cowboys, stores. I'm sure you get the idea.
Any time you write a historical novel, research takes almost as much time as planning and writing the story. But readers will agree that making the book authentic to the time period is what brings them back to a particular author's books.
Here's the book trailer for Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico, which releases May 1.
Lena Nelson Dooley