Category Archives: research

Sunday Funday, writer style


Yes, I have already switched notebooks for my bullet journal. Now, I’m in a faux Midori, traveler’s notebook style. It allows me to keep all my separate notebooks in one place – I have my trackers, my dailies, and my writing. 

Ah, writing. 

Things are not going so well there. Depression clouds many things, and I don’t mind telling you: I’m in a great fog right now. So, while words are elusive, planning goes in bits and fits. 

Today, I’m looking at setting. It’s a cozy series, so I need a small town. None of this small community within the big city for me. (Which I do enjoy, btw, and am not disparaging – I’m just not familiar with big cities!)

Now, small towns? Those I know. But I absolutely do not want one of the super tiny villages in Illinois. No, I want something a bit bigger – more attractive, more touristy. 

I found list of ten small towns in Illinois. Narrowed that down to five. And then had to make it four because one is just too small. 

At least, I think it’s too small. It’s something like 963 for population, I believe. It’s Elsah, Illinois and it’s absolutely  beautiful. And perhaps Hollis will find she has a cousin there, eh? 

Now, I really wanted something in central, Illinois but I’m not certain that’s feasible. But, I continue to compile a list. By the end of the week, I will have made my choice. 

Here are the contestants: 

  1. Galena
  2. Lebanon
  3. Fulton
  4. Greenville
  5. Nauvoo

Oh. I thought I started with five, but it appears I had six. 

What’s your setting research like? 

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Hazel Marie Rossini

So, it’s Wednesday. That’s code for “Work-in-progress Wednesday”, aka What I’m Working on Now…

Truth me told, not much. It’s like I’m still reeling from school, and I’ve no idea what’s going on or where I’m going.

I have a character, as the blog title would suggest. Born 21 February, 1897, she is the fictional depiction of my maternal grandmother , who was also born in 1897. Because I am from a 2nd marriage, my grandmother was almost 80 when I was born, and I didn’t know her too well. By the time I came around, she was old and frail – and she had just lost a husband and already buried her daughter. I don’t want to say she was bitter, but that’s what I remember.

And now that my father is gone, I feel as though there is no connection there any longer – there is no one with whom I can discuss my grandparents. (Which is not true as I have an older half-brother and half-sister who could totes fill me in, were we close.)

But this is still something that bothers me.

So what does any nominally sane person do? Why, they fictionalize their Grandmother, of course. So, there you have it.

Now, characters have backgrounds, and Hazel is still revealing herself, although she is totes going to settle down with an Alfred at some point. I do know she’s hiding something BIG when she comes to town because she calls herself Ellis Bell, but she has not yet revealed the specifics.

Have I mentioned yet where my series will take place? Here. Right here in Springfield, Illinois. I am going to have so much fun digging into the history of my hometown 🙂 Let me be frank  – I am not sure where/how to start researching so TIPS ARE APPRECIATED. But, I suppose the first thing to do is save up the $80 and invest in a library card… I get a half day at work every other Friday in June, July, and August. Guess that’s what I’ll be doing with my time until my husband is off work 🙂

So, that’s what I am working on. I don’t have anything to share about it, though. No words, at least.

What I can also share is that I am still digging my Bullet Journal. I’m 3 weeks and 3 layouts in, and I think I’ve been too fancy pancy about it. I create with words, not doodles and fancy lettering. So when I start August, I am going back to a more minimal approach. As I become more comfortable, I will share pics.

Have I told you what the Bullet Journal is? Well, let me just share these links instead. They give you the best rundown.

Here is the original site. This is Kara, and she might be a genius. Shh. I didn’t tell you that. There are a ton of other sites. Most of them are full of beautiful lettering and doodles and color and… all the things I am not. And it’s spawned a bit of bullet journal envy in me, which is immature and petty, and just so… beneath me. So, I sat my ass down today (I mean, I was at work, so…) and listed why I want the bullet journal:

  1. productivity *
  2. efficiency *
  3. timely assignment completion for school
  4. budget free time
  5. writing goals

* These are also my buzzwords for the year at work. I’m doing pretty good, I think. I hope. oh, now I’m concerned.

Anyway…

I then asked, what do I want to track?

  1. blog posts – when, what, etc… I mean, I am FAILING you guys, and I need to be more productive.
  2. writing goals – will I track chapters or words, though? Not sure yet.
  3. weight loss
  4. habit tracker (this is amazing and helfpul) – here is Kara again, this time guest posting on Bulletjournal.com.
  5. savings goals
  6. daily water consumption
  7. gratitude
  8. No Spend months (although this could just be part of the habit tracker, come to think of it…)
  9. goals – daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, etc…
  10. class assignments
  11. positive quotes (because I’m trying to be more positive and not such a Negative Nancy)
  12. Bills – I have them on a monthly calendar right now.

So, I’m in love with this because I get to customize it 100% to what I want. And it requires some inner reflection – what works, what doesn’t. What should I keep, what can I do differently.

And frankly, I highly recommend it.

Oh, and I’m now on Instagram. @LauraMichaela_Author. So far, it’s BulletJournal and nature photos. #sorrynotsorry

Also! I had this question – do we, as authors, owe it to ourselves to read the stuff that is getting totally slammed in reviews? Is that part of being a better writer – the reading of the bad to see what NOT to do? I would love your opinions…

What are Wednesday’s for??

I’m trying to gain some control in my life. That second quarter of school really threw me for a loop. I’m taking the summer off, and in the next three months, I intend to make some changes, both personal and professional. 

To start, I’m training myself to get to bed at a decent time (no, clearly not tonight). That will, in turn, lead me to getting up earlier so that I can hit the gym in the morning. It’s when my husband goes, and I’d rather go with him than without. 

We skipped the gym tonight, and headed to the park. Since concrete actually bothers my feet, I headed for the trails. So peaceful. 


I’ll have to share from the memorial gardens next. That’s my ‘spot’. 

Professionally, I am hoping to be part of an anthology this fall. 😳😳😳😳

And, I’m trying to develop enough short stories to publish on my Channillo page, so I can earn some actual money. I need money. I’m a broke college student, you know. 

I’m also putting aside the romance, except got the short stories, to concentrate on something closer to home: a cozy mystery series set here in Springfield during Prohibition. We have quite a history, and I need to stop ignoring it! 

To that end, I went to the state library (love living in the capitol!!) and bought a copy of a 1916 street map. For a dollar. One dollar. 2×3, probs. Yes, for reals. 


I’m having fun with this. Squee! 

Questions for the Audience

I am trying to build an audience here, and I know we frequently visit each other’s sites and like posts… But I want to increase interaction with you, my beloved audience.

In that vein, I have created a poll that I hope you will take a few minutes to answer. I did set it to allow you to enter your own answers, so please, be honest.

Audience Participation
What would increase your interaction with my blog?

Quotes

I’ve read several stories, historical romances, that include a quote at the beginning of each chapter and/or have the characters exchange them…

I am going to do this with my own current project, not because it’s popular but because it fits the direction my book is taking. Here’s my first line, which likely illustrates what I mean:

Since the precocious age of five, Fig Clarence had known a universal truth of her own: people in books are much more easily managed than those in real life.

Do you have a favorite quote? I’m going for period appropriate quotes, so 1813/1814. I’ve collected a few in my writer’s notebook, but I also get daily quotes through the Jane Austen app on my phone.


Now, this is not particularly relevant to the story I’m telling, but I’ll bet I can fit it in. If the timeline fits, of course. Being only an average Austenite, I like the books but cannot place them by publication date. Nor can I quote from them at will. Of course, I cannot quote anything at will. It’s not how my brain works.

It’s a beautiful Saturday, and I truly hope you enjo my it, wherever you are. As for me, I have a ton of homework to do.

And some quotes to find. Tell me, do you have any favorite quotes of your own? Ones that have slipped into your own works, or even influenced them?

New Computers

Ugh. I had to buy a new desktop the other day. Since I do almost all of my writing on my delicious little Lenovo laptop – no, all of the actual writing, to be honest – anyway, the desktop is for research, iTunes, photos, school work, etc… You know, basic shit that doesn’t require a lot. So, I bought some cheapo Acer Aspire tower for $250 from Walmart.

Moved everything I wanted to save to OneDrive… and it’s all updating. I might not be patient enough for this. At least I’m getting rid of all the crap, though 🙂

So, the second week of school is going strong. So far, I’m on schedule, if not sleeping much. I’ll get better at this but Wednesday’s likely won’t be my weekly update – I have work, gym, and school… looooong day!

I’ve decided Saturday is devoted almost exclusively to writing – I’m hoping for 3500 words, which is possible. With no distractions, and good notes throughout the week.

I’m working on Chapter One right now – and plan on having it done by Sunday evening to keep up with Bryn Donovan’s writing schedule. So far, I have two paragraphs. But, 3500 words is far more than I need for a chapter, so I’m good…

Yesterday, I introduced my version of Gaston on a friend’s blog for Work-in-Progress Wednesday. That, of course, isn’t all of the scene, but it’s what I shared.

So. That’s where we are. What are you doing with your writing right now?

My Father

Today, I am attempting to distract myself from the fact that I said good-bye to my father yesterday. It was the worst moment of my life, and it was the best moment ever – to repurpose the famous old line (Thank you, Dickens). See, my father had Inclusion Body Myositis and Pulmonary Fibrosis. In the last few years, he lost his ability to walk so he was in a powered wheelchair. He also lost the ability to eat, and was forced to get his nutrition through a feeding tube. This is a man who loved to cook and loved to eat (although he was more sensible about it than I). He was a man who loved life, and who lived it.

Last Friday, my wonderful daddy went to the ER to have his lungs suctioned, which is something he had to have done as pneumonia is a regular side problem of the IBM. While there, he went from alert to completely unfocused. They rushed him to a nearby ICU, and I arrived in the middle of the night after a six hour drive. Saturday, they told us we would need to make a decision – and soon. Sunday, he was alert and seemed to be improving. Monday we went home. Yesterday, we returned because he had gone back downhill. The decision was made for us because my dad, despite being the strongest person in the world, did not want to be kept alive on life support. Neither do I, by the way. Let me put this out there now – like my father, I am refusing life support and I want to be cremated immediately.

So, I was by his side as he gasped his last breath, his hand in mine. My wonderful step-mother and her niece sang him into Heaven, and I can think of nothing he would have wanted more. I am not a person of faith, but my father was. And his faith brought him comfort, which brings me comfort. I know that he is pain free, and walking again.

But today, I need something to distract me from the pain so I turned to research. Specifically addresses and numbering. I found the best website for information on house numbering and street names. After reading this, I have decided that it doesn’t necessarily matter what I number a residence – as long as I get the street names right.

At the bottom of the article, there is a paragraph with some wonderful ideas. I am already incorporating them into the project I will be burying myself in so that I can manage the pain. Let me share that here with you, too.

The lack of precision or regulation in the naming of streets and numbering of houses offers any number of opportunities for messages to be mis-delivered or to otherwise go astray in a Regency romance novel. Perhaps the intended recipient of a missive might live on one of those streets which shared the same name as one or more other streets. A footman or maid new to the metropolis might not realize there were two George-streets and took a secret love note to the house with the right number, but on the wrong street. How might that unintended recipient respond to that communication? Or, perhaps an orphaned young lady and her siblings come to the city to seek their reclusive guardian, but cannot locate him because he has never put the number on his house? Mayhap a French spy comes to London on some nefarious mission but is confused by the house numbering scheme and is delayed in meeting his English contact. Dear Regency Authors, how might you employ the mish-mash of street naming and numbering in Regency London to advance your story?

What about you? How can you incorporate this into your current project?