Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Confessions of a Publishing Noob - Research Junkie

I am a research junkie. It's scary how fast it can get out of hand. One interesting fact leads to another, and so on, until you're learning about the migratory patterns of butterflies when you started out looking for 1880's men's fashion.


Okay, so I have a bit of a focus problem. So that's why I gave myself a finite amount of research time before I started writing on my current WIP, Boss Lady. I've learned from experience that if I don't give myself a deadline, I'll lose myself in library stacks and online databases, never to be seen again.

I spent the whole month of January learning about the late nineteenth-century American west. Pretty much from scratch because all I knew about the era was confined to the John Wayne movies I watched with my Dad as a kid. As much as I admire The Duke, he wasn't exactly what I was going for with Boss Lady. I've learned a lot about the culture that I didn't know before, as well as the clothing, transportation, history, and my favorite, the lizards of Arizona. I now know that Bisbee started out as a mining town and that it was once reported in the Tombstone newspaper that a couple of ranchers stumbled across and killed a real Native American thunderbird.

That's when my research validated my idea. I love it when that happens! And the more I researched that thread, the more substantial my plot got. It doesn't happen often that I get to start writing with a solid foundation. I don't know the ending yet, but I usually get a clearer idea of my destination as I go along.

See y'all next month! Or in 30,000 words. :-)


Evonne Wareham said...

Research - the most perfect displacement activity known to writer. I adore old newspapers. I try and allow myself three months :)

And don't all those covers look great.

Savanna Kougar said...

Mel ~ Thunderbirds!!! Don't you just luv it?
I get to hear reports about them on Coast-to-Coast.
Did you know about the one spotted by an Alaskan pilot and his passengers. It was a big as his Cessna...
I hope Thunderbirds will be featured in your story...but that's just me.

I know! I start out on one subject and end up somewhere else. Recently I stumbled onto an American Indian site that answers questions. Someone asked if the Blackfeet Indians created their own breed of horse. Which they did. And that was utterly fascinating. But what really caught my eye was the history of the horse in North America. It turns out there were horses here prior to the Spanish Mustangs, just not many.

And, yes, the covers look wonderful. Evonne, your is coming and so is Mel's!

Lexie O'Neill said...

Thanks for your efforts in getting the covers on the site--great! And I love reading and learning from your blog,