I can hardly remember back to the time when research for school essays, for tidbits to enliven the lessons I taught, and for more background about subjects that intrigued me all took place in the library. I knew the hours of all the libraries around and the best librarians to help. Even when writing my first historical novel, my librarian’s help was very important.
With the advent of the WEB, virtually any piece of information became accessible and the trips to the library were more for books to read or book clubs to join. My research moved to my computer and to related historical museums and forts.
With those changes in mind I wanted to share some very cool things I’ve found that help me every day as a writer:
I like the daily email I get from Google Alert about subjects that I’ve noted. This year being Canada’s 150th birthday and that linking so well with my Loyalist trilogy, I’ve kept abreast of everything across Canada that is remotely related. I had no idea the word loyalist was so widely used. And for many things not connected in the least to my books. Someone advised me to put in my actual titles and I did. That is how I found out about scammers offering my books for sale! A few ‘cease and desist’ letters seem to have eliminated that but Google Alert keeps an eye out for me.
A virtual mecca of how-to information is at my fingertips and yours. Rather than go to manuals written in Chinese English, I now use the http line whenever I have a question about virtually anything. I just typed in ‘What is historical fiction?’ and ‘What is a musket?’. Click on the links to see the variety of sites I can explore about those topics.
For my new book about Dr. Ronald G. Calhoun and his part in the Terry Fox phenomenon in 1980 and beyond, I’m looking for an agent here in Canada as both Fox and Calhoun are Canadian icons. Here’s a list of agents I found. If you are a possibility feel free to get in touch with me as my queries are going out soon.
Even the magazine I get in my post office mailbox every month, The Writer, has an online version which is wonderful to receive, especially if I’m going to be traveling and can put it on my iPad. It is always full of interesting hints and full-fledged writing ideas–writerly gems, I call them. This month (November) the back page article by Allison Futterman is about television host Mike Rowe who gives writing tips in the article. He says if he didn’t have deadlines, he’d never finish anything as he is a picker who constantly makes changes: “sometimes making [the writing] better, sometimes making it worse.” Recognize yourself, anyone?
Just a few weeks ago, I got an email about something called Bibliocommons. Of course I checked that out on the web and ended up submitting The Loyalist’s Wife so that the ebook version can be listed on library websites and more people will get to see my work. I don’t know how far this exposure will take me but the Bibliocommons people say every book gets read and this approval process can take 4-6 weeks.) I’m hopeful it will broaden my reach. I’m at Stratford Public Library this Saturday as part of their author group in connection with launching Bibliocommons.
This past weekend I was honoured to be speaking at the Colonel John Butler United Empire Loyalist branch in Niagara Falls. There are over twenty of these in our country and a few have engaged me as a speaker. This one was particularly thrilling as this is the largest UEL group in Canada and Colonel Butler and the whole Niagara area figure prominently in my trilogy. The members there were gracious and knowledgeable about Loyalist history. I was speaking to my peeps, you might say.
Of course I mean that as a writer of historical fiction about the Loyalists, specifically a Loyalist couple who came into Canada across the Niagara River in present-day Niagara-on-the-Lake. While that story is fictional, my own story is not. I could really relate to the Niagara group.
What is the fun I mentioned in the title? Well, Sunday we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving at our son’s home by the pool which is still open for business! Crazy weather, we’ve been having here in Ontario. My grandson and I had a lovely few moments talking about rocks and shells and semi-precious stones as he showed me his burgeoning collection. It was all fun and I hope my Canadian friends had similar moments of Thanksgiving over the weekend.