Tag Archives: Research

Field Trip!

I have big plans for this weekend. Not as big as the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, of course, but big on the research for a new series.

For the RT lowdown, head over to here to read and then come back.

Fun, right? But what’s this weekend? And that new series? Drumroll, please…

Introducing the American West series. Four stories set during the American expansion era. I have four books planned for sure about the Santa Fe Trail, the Orphan Train, the Pony Express, and a Northwest Shipping adventure. Characters from my Oregon Trail series will make guest appearances, too, and I’m so looking forward to seeing them again.

I’ll post on Monday what we did and saw on our intense research weekend.

#MondayBlogs for the Readers

I’ve had a lot of feedback from readers in the past week and thankfully, it’s all been great.  It’s super hard for me to take compliments and I find praise both wanted and difficult.  Whenever someone is gushy over my work, I have to take a deep breath and say thank you.  Then nothing else.  No deflecting or saying I’m not worthy because doing such will dilute the compliment and who wants that?

That’s my thoughts on the past week.  Back to you, the reader.  In that ‘Fine’ voice you get from your mother when she’s been worn down by your pestering, I say, “Fine.”  There’s been enough ‘eh’ reviews about The Very Best Man’s ending that I’ve decided to add another chapter.  This last bit of the book is inspired by Kung Fu Fighting.

I think most of the readers who didn’t like the current ending are those born after 1985.  They’re too young to remember the non-endings of movies made in the early and mid seventies like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Did they die?  Or did they survive and live out their lives in Bolivia?  We can only guess because that movie’s end didn’t tell us, just hinted.

I’m currently mired in the thing that is National Novel Written in a Month.  The word count is good and I’m using the month to write The Very Worst Man.

In progress!

In progress!

It’s wonderful so far.  I’m having the best time ever writing it.  The dialogue is a blast.  Plus, there’s already a secondary character trying to take over and I’m having to back off from letting her do so.  Can I just drop her and go on?  Of course not!  She’s my heroine for The Very Poor Man.

Most of my readers will probably be wondering whose blog they’re reading.  Like, am I not the author of that whole Oregon Trail series?  Yes!  I am and Uncivilized is in progress.  When I hit the word count goal on The Very Worst Man, I go back to the 1850’s and hang out there.  I thought when starting the contemporary Worst Man that intense research could take a break.  Nope!  Thanks to writing Hayden and Alexandra’s love story, I know a lot more about Wyoming law, prisons, and prosecuting attorneys than I had planned.  Something else that’s been a surprise?  How much of the villain’s crime I need to know.  So much for my idea of writing a few sex scenes and calling it good.  The best thing is how all my research makes it a better book for you, the reader.

I have a ton of them in paper form and several more bookmarked on my web browsers.  Some were hand drawn and now available via Google, while others are the latest in tourist roadmaps.  Still more are from National Geographic with infinite detail of every mountain and valley in our country.  I have more maps than those of just the United States, of course.  I’m trying to ignore them in favor of finishing the Oregon Trail series. After this project and all its intensive research, I’m totally in favor of writing something either present day or set in the far future.

“What?  That can’t happen!  You just pulled that out of your butt!”

“Why yes, yes I did.”

So back to the maps and why I have access to so many.  Well known landmarks in the 1800’s aren’t the same as the ones we take note of now.  In some places, the original trail crisscrosses highways.  In others, it runs through privately owned land.  Is every single step along the way to Portland vital to the story?  Yes, and no.  Sure, I could have a character die by falling down a steep cliff into the river below.  Could it be the Green River, or would it best to use the Snake River?

 

This is Green River.

green_river_valley_wy

 

 

 

 

 

A bad place for a cliff death. That might be a good thing.  So, the victim will have to wait until the Snake River.  Even then, the banks aren’t steep the entire way.  Landscapes like this is why I study the topography of my settings.  It’s also fun to see what surprises the terrain and weather can bring to my characters as well.

Fun fact about the Oregon Trail!  You could have left Independence, Missouri, near where I live, and maybe reach Oregon before October.  If nothing tragic happened, other than a death or two, it would be possible.  But if you waited to leave next week?  It’d be a whole lot better if you just waited until next April.  Otherwise, you’d risk a catastrophe of Donner proportions.  Read here for more information.