Before I start talking about research, I want to announce a few places where you could come meet me:
This Saturday, October 15, A Book Release Party for Maggie's Journey
Mardel Christian Store
Grapevine Highway at Hurstview
Friday, October 21, A booksigning
Lifeway Christian Store
Flower Mound, Texas
Saturday, October 22, A booksigning
Lifeway Christian Store
11 am - 1 pm
I'd love to meet you there. Have our picture made together.
One of the things I like most about writing historical novels is finding nuggets of information to make the time period more accurate. While I was writing my latest book to release Maggie's Journey, I was having a hard time picturing Seattle, Washington Territory, in 1885. I had looked for books and computer links, but still not much to go on.
When I quit working full-time and stayed home to write (the first time that happened), I started volunteering in our local library. I'm a real people person, and writing is a solitary endeavor. Imagine my surprise when they put me in the back of the library mending books. Still not much contact with actual people. But I learned a lot about how a library runs.
Every library has a reference librarian. This person will help people find the information they need. Since the advent of cell phones with nationwide free long distance, I have contacted a few of these librarians when I couldn't find information.
I decided to contact the Seattle Public Library. I didn't ask for anyone to do my research for me, just a few suggestions on books about the time period. I hit the Mother Lode.
Seattle Public Library system had digitized literally thousands of historical photos and loaded them on line by decade. I used a number of these pictures to help me construct in my mind the areas of the city that I could use in my book. A couple of weeks ago, I found a similar site for San Francisco, which is one of the settings in the book I'm writing now.
At one time in writing Maggie's Journey, I wanted to find the name of a nice hotel in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1885. When I used Google to find the information, a map of St. Louis in 1885 appeared along with photos and text about various buildings and areas of the city. Another valuable moment.
Here are a few of the links I've been using:
The use of research enriches all our books, whether historical or contemporary.
How do you use research?
--Lena Nelson Dooley