One aspect of being a writer I enjoy a lot is the research. Lots of information can be gathered by spending time online. Now, the trips we used to take to the reference desk at the local library are reserved only for when we get stuck. Clicking links at the bottom of Wikipedia pages can sometimes be like going down the proverbial rabbit hole. Some can lead to obscure articles. But I have followed URLs and found original sheet music from the 1850s or playbills from a 1870s opera. I lucked out when I located a vaudeville poster from the 1880s (in Google images) that gave me great ideas on what to include in my story Laced By Love that featured a traveling vaudeville troupe. Yesterday, I needed a reference to Catholic saints for a short story titled Golden Moments and found who I needed on Wiki. Did you know a patron saint exists for clowns and carnival workers? Amazing.
Today I’m driving, heading almost as far south as Texas extends—to South Padre Island to a writers retreat with friends from my San Antonio chapter. Yesterday, I spent time in a small town that I’ve kept in my mind as being the one I’ve used as a base for my fictional town of Dorado. I wanted to walk the layout of the real town, snap some pictures, and see any historical buildings or places. The series, Dorado, Texas, contains both contemporary and historical stories with ancestors, descendants, and entangled families. My goal following this trip is to write an origin story for how the town was first settled. With what I learned, I know the creation will be easier.
Keeping updated on the latest romance releases can be hard. So many titles are available, and sometimes checking the Top 100 best sellers lists on Amazon just isn’t convenient.
I’ve discovered The Romance Reviews ezine is a great way to learn what’s new. All sub-genres are covered. The author interviews are informative, the excerpts tantalizing, and the reviews help me as a romance reader determine what titles to purchase.
I happened to buy a cover ad in the June 2016 issue (page 10) for Montana Sky: Laced By Love, which serendipitously coincides with the current, limited-time 99-cent sale. Love it when events come together like that. Plus Laced by Love has hit a couple of best seller lists like Clean and Wholesome and Western Romance on Amazon. YAY!
If you want to learn about the releases, you’ll want to subscribe to the magazine for the earliest peek at these popular titles. http://www.theromancereviews.com/ezine.php
At a Christmas family gathering, my younger sister announced she’d had her profile done by AncestryDNA. When giving her results, my sister emphasized that these were her specific results and her two sisters would be different. Since doing an elementary school project where students researched their family crest and make a family tree, I’ve been curious about my ancestors and where they came from. From interviews with grandparents—the only source available at the time—I learned my mom’s family was mostly Scandinavian and my dad’s was Scots-Irish. So I figured my sister’s results would be approximately what mine were because we came from the same parents. Makes sense, right? Not true.
Luckily, my step-daughter is interested in genealogy, too, and she provided her dad and I with kits for doing the testing. My results came back this week, and I’m happy to know my genetic make-up. But it contains surprises.
Europe West 32% (includes France, Germany, Switzerland, N. Italy, Czechoslovakia, Austria)
Great Britain 8%
Finland-NW Russia 5%
Iberian Peninsula <1%
Compare mine with my younger sister’s
Great Britain 18%
Europe West 9%
Iberian Peninsula 1%
European Jew 1%
True that what we’d learned through family stories was upheld that we are predominantly Scandinavian/Irish with me being 52% of those nationalities but she’s 69%. Also true that the same four regions comprise the majority of our genetic makeup, but the percentages are so different.
Now we just need to convince the third sister to have hers done.
I spent three hours yesterday looking through a stock photo site to find images for a new historical series. (I know I’ll spend an equal time today on other sites.) The setting is 1870s Texas and the genre is clean romance. So far the heroes are ranchers or cowhands, so my idea was to have a man and a horse against a background.
Although the stories are centered around a specific holiday, I didn’t want to limit the appeal by including any symbol of that–maybe just a background depicting the season.
My quandary is the number of couples in authentic dress is limited and are used and re-used within the subgenre. And I always want my covers to be “different.” My question is, for a western historical, would you expect to see a couple? Or would a lone cowboy be enticing?
I’d love to hear any and all opinions.