Research Through Networking and…Reading
Writing about historical Scotland has been both a pleasure and, at times, a headache. If I wrote about a contemporary civilization, traveling there would be as easy as stepping off a plane. Instead, when a writer decides, or their muse demands, he or she writes about a long ago place or people, research becomes a requirement for success.
Besides internet researching, Wikipedia scrolling, or delving into books in a local library, there is a method you can use: Networking. Let me explain. Do you know people who have first-hand knowledge of the people or place in question, such as a history professor, or another writer who has already gathered research notes she would be willing to share? Or, someone with a time machine?
Okay, strike that last comment. Let me give you a personal example of one of my research methods. Every year, my family and I volunteer at the New Hampshire Highland Games. This annual Scottish festival just celebrated its fortieth anniversary, and I was thrilled to be able to visit with the various volunteers and visitors. Since we moved from New Hampshire to North Carolina, the drive has gotten a little longer, but it is well worth it in order to soak up the Scottish culture, and a glass or two of fine Scottish ale!
This year, one of my volunteers gave me a box loaded with Celtic-themed books and old copies of several Scottish newspapers and magazines. While reading through the monthly newspapers, I came across a page in each one devoted to ‘This Month in Scottish History’. I cut out each page and placed them in a folder of things I plan to use on my social media. Keeping that folder near my laptop means I always have quick access to something to talk about on social media or my blog. A friend once told me that in order to gain more followers (at places like Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads) I should offer people something other than ‘buy my book’, so some of these snippets might interest my readers.
If you are not using social media, why not? Even if you have not yet sold or self-published your first book, part of your platform is created by getting your name in front of others. Yes, do it NOW. I am not here to share ‘how-to do it’ or to share my thoughts on social media. They have their good points, and can be a time suck, but they are necessary. Trust me.
I recently tried my hand at writing in a new genre, and submitted my work to a publisher. My research included reading hundreds of books in the same genre, then twisting the characters and location to change it up, and offer something fresh. However, some of the things I read about in many of the other books, such as clothing styles of the period, modes of transportation, flowers and fauna, etc. need to be correct, so I included them. I love to read, so research like this is fun, and I help other authors by purchasing their work.
I sometimes interview authors and post their interviews on my blog. Networking recently came in when one of these authors invited me to participate in a boxed set ebook with three other authors. Because she was my guest on my blog, she realized I wrote about ancient Scotland, so I agreed and Medieval Redemption was released at Amazon on November 13th, 2015.
Which ever method or methods appeal to you, start gathering information now. A folder works, or a document on your laptop, or keeping notes on your smart phone might give you a head start on research, and a way to easily share genre-based snippets with your followers.
More about the Author
After growing up in Huntington, New York, award-winning author Nancy Lee Badger attended College in New Hampshire, married, and raised two sons in a small town in the shadow of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. She protected her neighbors in Rumney as an EMT and volunteer firefighter.
After nearly a decade as an Emergency Medical Dispatcher for the State of NH 9-1-1 service, Nancy moved to North Carolina where she writes full-time, but returns with her family each fall to volunteer at the New Hampshire Highland Games surrounded by…kilts! She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, the Celtic Heart Romance Writers, and the Triangle Association of Freelancers. Contact Nancy Lee Badger here…