Note: This blog is a reprise from the archives. Enjoy.
We are truly lucky to live in an era where information is available at our fingertips, quite literally. I’ve used Youtube and other online video as a wonderful tool to help me in my research.
How does one do historical research using video, you might ask? There’s a treasure trove of it out here from documentaries that are no longer available by any other means, to period recreations to tourist videos.
For example, in my current work in progress, Violette, a Rushbearing festival and the events surrounding it are key to the opening of the novel. I’ve never participated in a Rushbearing so I did a lot of research and downloaded some authentic period books to read up on it. But I wanted to know more about the “Morris Dancers” that were often mentioned as part of the celebration.
Easy. With the mighty Internet gods smiling favorably upon me, I hit across many recent tourist videos featuring current Morris dancers in England and period recreations. I was able to get a sense enough of what they do, what they wear, the steps of their dances, etc. in order to write the description for the scene in which they appear. Wonderful!
I’m so spoiled. Though I love the library, I love the convenience of not having to leave my cozy home more. I don’t know how past historical authors did it so well before the Internet. And on TYPEWRITERS, no less!
Some fun stuff I’ve run across recently:
Supersizers : The Regency part 1: Food
Pay close attention to the mention of Yorkshire Pudding at 8:15 ! My British grandmother used to make this for us and I loved it.
Because I’m enjoying this so much, I’m embedding all of them!
Part 2: Breakfast and the Prince Regent
Favorite quote from this part: “You are one club foot away from going the full Byron.”
Part 3: Bath
“Stilton cheese with optional maggots.”
Part 4: “Snout me up!”
“Every time we have someone around, you swap testicles and then I have to stab the poor blighter at dawn!”
Part 5: Swords at Dawn
“After 10 pints, then maybe… but not right now!”
“I’ll fart myself into a pauper’s grave!”
Part 6 The Grand Ball
“You want to keep your flap buttoned, or she’ll be at you.”
“I cant marry a man with a wig!”
“Using a hog’s tongue, I’m on a mission to flirt my way into marriage”
And, now for something completely different:
Secrets of the Manor House, a documentary published on PBS last week. Magnificent details about life in an English Country Seat.
Hard work on top of hard work. Sometimes that’s what’s required to achieve our dreams.
This list is in NO ORDER. These are the most memorable books that have made the longest and most important impressions on me.
(Yes that’s more than ten. I snuck a few more in there! No die-hard book lover can pick just 10!!)
Four years ago I was an aspiring writer of Fantasy fiction who was, quite frankly, getting nowhere on her own. I’d decided to look for an online critique group and discovered the Romance Writers of America. Though I did not write in the romance genre at that time, I was advised that it was a fantastic organization for “women authors who write about women.” Though I was skeptical about this description at first, I am so glad I pushed past my initial misgivings and attended my first meeting.
Sitting in one room were bestselling New York Times authors sitting beside multi-published series novelists and aspiring PROS (finished manuscripts, may or not be agented but actively querying) and complete novices (just starting out). Historical romance authors sat beside women’s fiction authors who sat beside western authors. It was an amazing, supportive place. I signed up for membership right away.
There was mentoring happening, regular workshops about the craft and about the business. I was making new friends who were as geeky (and sometimes more so!) about their writing as I was. I was finding encouragement and hope and discovering that this goal of becoming a published author was attainable. And I had so many wonderful models to look up to. Women of all ages (and men too, actually!) who were so supportive. The motto of our local chapter is “One hand reaching forward, the other reaching back.” And it is so true, this human chain of compassion, mutual support and understanding. Of teamwork.
If you are a writer and are not familiar with RWA, I strongly urge you to look into it. It might not end up being your cup of tea but it might be just the thing you need to give you that extra push towards your goals.
The English language amuses me. Playing with words has always been a hobby. I guess it’s no mystery that I turned out to be a writer, eh? One thing that has always fascinated me is the Palindrome.
Palindromes are words and phrases that are spelled exactly the same going backwards and forwards. Here are some of the more clever and famous in the English language:
Able was I ere I saw Elba. (supposedly some of the last public words spoken by Napoleon Bonaparte–a myth, surely!)
A man, a plan, a canal: Panama. (attributed as a sort of slogan for Theodore Roosevelt and the great project of his presidency).
Some other more generic but also clever ones:
Never odd or even.
Cigar? Toss it in a can. It is so tragic!
Won’t lovers revolt now?
Can you write your own palindrome? I know I can’t!
More palindromes with amusing illustrations here.
If you are more of a numbers person than a word person, there are palindrome dates, as well. Dates that can be written the same backwards and forewards. Here’s a list of the palindrome dates for the next decade. Apparently in 2018, my birthday will be a palindrome date!