My Book and Series Title Reveal Party

My Book and Series Title Reveal Party

There are lots of exciting parts about being an author. Two of those things are Title and Cover reveals. While I can’t yet reveal a cover, I DO have a title for not only my debut novel but for the series at large, and I decided I wanted to have a bit of fun and throw a party. Want to know more about the book, you can read the tentative blurb here.  Before I jump into a fun Title Reveal Party, I want to get a little prep work for my cover reveal out of the way.

COVER REVEAL LAUNCH TEAM SIGNUP

It will soon be time for me to reveal my cover to the world at large. If you would like to sign up to join my cover reveal team, please click here. Anyone who wants to can sign up, I just ask that if you do, that you be willing to share the social media images created on a preplanned day (when I have it). More details will come when I know more. 🙂 NOTE: If you are a newsletter subscriber, you will need to sign up on this list to be on the Cover Reveal Team. It is a completely separate thing.

Now on to the party! … Well, sort of.

I’m still on a book deadline, everyone’s summer schedules are crazy, and setting up a party on social media meant not everyone would get to participate at their own pace. Enter the bright idea of a website party. There are virtual games to unveil my titles and digital goody bags for everyone.

So come and stay as long as you want. Play the games, or don’t. It just thrills my heart that you’ve come to find out the titles of my book/new series. If you don’t want to play the games to find out the titles, and just want the answers, you can go here.

GOODY BAGS FOR EVERYONE!!!

What is a party without goody bags and prizes? Click to download your free Goody Bag containing a heart-filled bookmark, coloring page, and suggested reading list.

Fun and Prizes!

*CONGRATULATIONS KELLY G. YOU WON!!!!* We had 16 individuals participate! Thank you so much!

 

I have two games you can play to uncover the names of the series and book #1. I’m super pleased about these titles and had way too much fun coming up with the image of the Series Title Puzzle. I hope you have as much fun doing them, as I did coming up with the games. Of course, there HAS to be a prize for those who want to play.

To be entered to win your choice of one book from my stack of giveaway books featured above, play the games AND fill out the form at the bottom. Everyone who fills it out gets an entry, and everyone who fills it out with the CORRECT answers gets an extra entry for each correct answer. All answers need to be received by midnight (EST) on July 20th. The more people who play, the more winners there are. For every 20 unique individuals, I’ll add one winner. Up to 20 entrants = 1 winner, 26 – 40 entrants = 2 winners, 41 – 60 entrants = 3 winners. You get the picture.

I’m assuming honesty, so please do not click on the answer page before submitting your answers in the form below. That just takes the fun out of it.

Winner(s) will be randomly selected on July 21st and then emailed. Winners announced on the July 27th post. (Print copies are only available to U.S. residents. Entries opened to all those legally allowed to enter. International participants will have a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.)

Thanks for coming by to celebrate with me. I’m so excited to party with you.

Game # 1 – What’s in a Name

“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” – William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Well, obviously names are important, but for this game, I used a thesaurus to give Book #1 a new title. See if you can guess what the real title will be by looking at this similar title.

Bogus Attachment

Don’t forget to put your answer in the form below.

Game # 2 – Series Title Puzzle & Heart Scavenger Hunt

Below is an image that not only has the title of my new series, but an undisclosed number of hearts in the image. Once you put the puzzle together and know the series title, count how many total hearts you see in the image. For my visually impaired friends, instead, put how many times you found the word heart or hearts in the text of this blog post.

Entry Form

 

Thanks for partying with me! Let’s chat it up in the comments.

I am so glad that you chose to play the games and hang with me. Remember, please, don’t put the answers to the games below in the comments. However, I WOULD love to hear from you. What are your favorite book titles? Have you have read a title that made you pick up a book from an author you didn’t know just to learn more? Do you think the title is important to a book? I’d love to hear from you and just chat things up!

Meet the Christian Fiction Class of 2021

Meet the Christian Fiction Class of 2021

*For those participating in the 2021 reading challenge, I have created a Facebook Group for those who want to interact throughout the month. For those who wish to receive a bookmark as a reminder of the themes, fill out this Google Form.*

 

 

 

2021 is bound to be a better year than 2020. At least that is what I am declaring! To start the year off right, I thought it would be neat to introduce you to some of the newest authors on the Christian Fiction scene. This year, ten authors I have had the honor to meet will debut their novels to the world. I have broken down the graduating class into the months they will break into the world. Support these new authors by connecting with them online, checking out their books, and if the books interest you, pre-order your copy or request your library to purchase a copy. Preorders go a long way to help an author have a successful book launch. It takes a lot of work to get a book out there, and I’m excited to help them get the word out.

 

Just as an incentive to help these authors out, I’m offering a $25 Baker Bookhouse gift card giveaway. Each author has chosen one link they want promoted most. Pick which ones you’d like to help out, and earn an entry for each one. To participate, click here

 

 

January Graduate

 

 

Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of inspirational romance and split-time women’s fiction. She has placed first in multiple contests, including the 2017 Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest, the 2017 Phoenix Rattler Contest, and the 2016 ACFW First Impressions Contest. She was also a 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest finalist. A lifelong denizen of the flatlands, Amanda currently lives in Kansas with her husband, their three Wenlets, and one snuggly Siamese cat.

 

Connect with her:   www.amandawen.com     Facebook     Twitter     Instagram

 

 

Roots of Wood and Stone

Genre: Split-time Women’s Fiction

 

This historic home holds the keys to their destiny . . . and their hearts

Abandoned at birth, her family roots a mystery, historical museum curator Sloane Kelley has dedicated her life to making sure others know theirs. When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn’t expect much from the common artifact . . .until she finds real treasure inside: a nineteenth-century diary. Now she’s on the hunt to find out more.

Garrett Anderson just wanted to clean out his grandmother’s historic but tumbledown farmhouse before selling it to fund her medical care. With her advancing Alzheimer’s, he can’t afford to be sentimental about the family home. But his carefully ordered plan runs up against two formidable obstacles: Sloane, who’s fallen in love with both the diaries and the house, and his own heart, which is irresistibly drawn to Sloane.

A century and a half earlier, motherless Annabelle Collins embarks with her aunt and uncle on the adventure of a lifetime: settling the prairies of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The diaries she left behind paint a portrait of life, loss, and love–and a God who faithfully carries her through it all. Paging through the diaries together takes Sloane and Garrett on a journey they never could have planned, which will change them in ways they never imagined.

This warm, beautifully written split-time novel will resonate with readers looking for stories that reveal the beauty of God’s plan for our lives, and how our actions ripple for generations.


Preorder here:
Amazon      Barnes and Noble     Christianbook.com

 


February Graduate

 

 

Jennifer Deibel is a middle school teacher whose work has appeared on (in)courage, on The Better Mom, in Missions Mosaic magazine, and others. With firsthand immersive experience abroad, Jennifer writes stories that help redefine home through the lens of culture, history, and family. After nearly a decade of living in Ireland and Austria, she now lives in Arizona with her husband and their three children. You can find her online at www.jenniferdeibel.com. Her debut novel, A Dance in Donegal, releases Feb. 2, 2021 from Revell and is available for pre-order wherever books are sold!


Connect with her:
Instagram     Facebook     Goodreads     BookBub

 


A Dance in Donegal

Genre: Historical Romance

 

After the loss of her Irish mother in the summer of 1920, Moira Doherty decides to fulfill her mother’s wish for her to leave Boston and teach in her mother’s home village of Ballymann in Donegal, Ireland. Though a few locals offer a warm welcome, others are distanced by superstition and suspicion. Rumors about a scandalous family reputation abound and threaten not only her new position but also her life.

 

Moira must rely on the kindness of a handful of unlikely friends including Sean, a handsome thatcher, to help her clear her family name before it’s too late. As she seeks to navigate her new life in Ireland, she may find that this is truly the life she was always meant to live.

 

Preorder here: Amazon     Baker Book House    Barnes and Noble     Books-A-Million     ChristianBook     IndieBound    Target     Walmart

 

March Graduate

 

 

A.D. Lawrence makes her home in Northeastern Nebraska. She has been passionate about writing and true crime for years, and her two obsessions melded into the goal of authorship. She is an active member of the ACFW, writes a true crime blog, won the 2019 Crown Award and was a 2019 First Impressions finalist and a 2020 Genesis finalist. Her first book will be released through Barbour in March of 2021 as part of the True Colors series.


Connect with her:
   https://adlawrencefiction.com/     Twitter     Facebook     Instagram     Pinterest

 

 

The Purple Nightgown

Genre: Historical Fiction Suspense

 

Step into True Colors — a series of Historical Stories of Romance and True American Crime

Marvel at true but forgotten history when patients check into Linda 

Hazzard’s Washington state spa in 1912 and soon become victim of her twisted greed.
 
Heiress Stella Burke is plagued by insincere suitors and nonstop headaches. Exhausting all other medical aides for her migraines, Stella reads Fasting for the Cure of Disease by Linda Hazzard and determines to go to the spa the author runs. Stella’s chauffer and long-time friend, Henry Clayton, is reluctant to leave her at the spa. Something doesn’t feel right to him, still Stella submits herself into Linda Hazzard’s care. Stella soon learns the spa has a dark side and Linda a mean streak. But when Stella has had enough, all ways to leave are suddenly blocked. Will Stella become a walking skeleton like many of the other patients or succumb to a worse fate?
 

Preorder here: Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Christianbook.com

 

April Graduate

M.N. Stroh writes edgy Christian Historical Fiction to inspire the downtrodden and outcast with adventure-laden escapes leading to divine encouragement. Her debut novel, Rise of Betrayal, will release through the Cave imprint of Olivia Kimbrell Press in 2021. M.N. serves as Director of Communications for Serious Writer Inc. affiliate, Writers Chat. She is also director of Serious Writer Book Club and co-administrator of Christian Writers Group International.

Connect with her: mnstroh.com     The Clan!(Newsletter)  Facebook     Instagram     Twitter     Pinterest     LinkedIn     Goodreads

Tale of the Clans Book 1: Rise of Betrayal

 

One brash act forced her to flee her clan. Now, after years in hiding, she risks exposure to the man whose brother is dead because of her. 

 

Ireland, 962 AD

Forced into a betrothal with the son of her warmongering overlord, Nessa knows her impending marriage will thrust her family into the heart of their clan’s longstanding feud with the Danes of Luimnech. Her fate is sealed until tragedy presses her to make a desperate escape—one which leads to her betrothed’s death.

Sanctuary among distant kindred proves short-lived and Nessa falls into the schemes of her rescuers. With the balance of power shifting in southern Ireland, her knowledge could pave the way for her former chieftain to claim the provincial throne. Yet, offering that knowledge may expose her identity to her estranged clansmen—and to the man whose brother was slain because of her.

Gideon mac Davan yearns to prove himself a warrior worthy of the Dal Cais. But he never dreamed his aspirations to join Brian mac Cennedigh’s rebel band would unfold after his brother’s murder. Conflicted between vengeance and the secret he conceals, Gideon must trod a contrary path. One which may end in the collapse of all he once revered.

Follow M.N. Stroh to keep up-to-date with cover reveals and preorder links.

 

May Graduate

 

 

Michelle Sass Aleckson –  After growing up on both the east and west coasts, Michelle Sass Aleckson now lives the country life in central Minnesota with her own hero and their four kids. She
loves rocking out to 80’s music on a Saturday night, playing Balderdash with the fam, and getting lost in good stories. Especially stories that shine grace. And if you’re
wondering, yes, Sass is her maiden name. Visit her at www.michellealeckson.com.

Connect with her:   www.michellealeckson.com.

 

 

Crazy for You

Genre: Contemporary Romance

 

The problem with being related to everyone in town is that there is no one left to date…until now…but will this outsider survive his family?

Former soldier Veronica “Ronnie” Morales isn’t going to let her kid brother, Tiago, get pulled into the gangs of Minneapolis, so, seeking safety and a fresh start, she heads to sleepy Deep Haven on the north shore of Minnesota. She’s hoping to put down roots as the paramedic for the new Crisis Response Team, but it’s not easy to be the town outsider.

Fire Chief Peter Dahlquist is a peacemaker—he has to be. After all he’s related to both of the Deep Haven dynasties – the Zimmermans and the Dahlquists, Deep Haven’s
version of the Hatfields and the McCoys. Worse, Peter is the holdout vote for a landmark project, which also makes him the loneliest guy in town when both sides demand that he pick sides. The only one who seems to understand his plight is the newcomer in town…his pretty, street-tough paramedic.

When Tiago finds himself caught up in small town shenanigans and the town blames Ronnie for tragedy, Peter is forced to pick sides. But will his choice cost him the home—and the woman—he loves?

Preorder here: Amazon     Barnes and Noble

 

July Graduate

 

Jennifer L. Wright has been writing since middle school, eventually earning a master’s degree in journalism at Indiana University. However, it took only a few short months of covering the local news for her to realize that writing fiction is much better for the soul and definitely way more fun. A born and bred Hoosier, she was plucked from the Heartland after being swept off her feet by an Air Force pilot and has spent the past decade traveling the world and, every few years, attempting to make old curtains fit in the windows of a new home.
 
She currently resides in New Mexico with her husband, two children, and one rambunctious dachshund.
 
Connect with her:   https://jennwrightwrites.com/     Facebook     Twitter

 

If It Rains

Genre: Historical Fiction

 

A story of resilience and redemption set against one of America’s defining moments—the Dust Bowl.

 

It’s 1935 in Oklahoma, and lives are determined by the dust. Fourteen-year-old Kathryn Baile, a spitfire born with a severe clubfoot, is coming of age in desperate times. Once her beloved older sister marries, Kathryn’s only comfort comes in the well-worn pages of her favorite book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Then Kathryn’s father decides to relocate to Indianapolis, and only the promise of a surgery to finally make her “normal” convinces Kathryn to leave Oklahoma behind. But disaster strikes along the way, and Kathryn must rely on her grit and the ragged companions she meets on the road if she is to complete her journey.

 
Back in Boise City, Melissa Baile Mayfield is the newest member of the wealthiest family in all of Cimarron County. In spite of her poor, rural upbringing, Melissa has just married the town’s most eligible bachelor and is determined to be everything her husband—and her new social class—expects her to be. But as the drought tightens its grip, Henry’s true colors are revealed. Melissa covers her bruises with expensive new makeup and struggles to reconcile her affluent life with that of her starving neighbors. Haunted by the injustice and broken by Henry’s refusal to help, Melissa secretly defies her husband, risking her life to follow God’s leading.
 
Two sisters, struggling against unspeakable hardship, discover that even in their darkest times, they are still united in spirit, and God is still with them, drawing them home.

 

Preorder here: Amazon     Baker Bookhouse     BarnesandNoble.com      Christianbook.com

 

September Graduate

 

Kerry Johnson has been conversing with fictional characters and devouring books since her carefree childhood in the Connecticut woods. A member of ACFW for nearly a decade, she finaled in their Genesis Contest seven times and won twice (YA and Romance). She also won RWA-Georgia’s Maggie award for her contemporary romance. She’s been published in Creation Illustrated and was a regular contributor to Tampa Bay’s Overflow Magazine from 2011-2013. Kerry currently lives in sunny, stormy Tampa Bay with her patient engineer husband, two energetic teen sons, their eight-year-old, doll-loving niece, and way too many books.

She’s active online at www.kerryjohnsonbooks.com, www.facebook.com/candidkerry/, and on Twitter https://twitter.com/candidkerry, where she shares an overabundance of pictures with her feathered toddler (sun conure) Mango and lazy Boxer, Boomer.

 

Title to be Revealed Soon

Genre: Romantic Suspense with Love Inspired Suspense 

 

The danger’s all downhill after a murder on the mountain.

 

When single-mom Everly Raven discovers a body inside a chalet on her family’s New England ski resort, the blame falls on her. Racing to evade the target on her back, she’s forced to work with her ex and father of her child, FBI agent Isaac Rhodes, to clear her name. But with a blizzard closing in and the killer’s henchman hot on their trail, can they stay alive long enough to find the real killer before he finds Everly first?

 

Follow Kerry to keep up-to-date with titles, cover reveals, and preorder links.

 

October Graduate

 

Rhonda Ortiz is award-winning novelist and nonfiction writer whose articles on spirituality, family life, and arts and culture have been published by a variety of popular media outlets. Her debut novel, Molly ChaseIn Pieces, is forthcoming October 2021 with Chrism Press, a new division of WhiteFire Publishing devoted to Catholic and Orthodox Christian voices. A native Oregonian, Rhonda attended college in historic Annapolis, Maryland and now lives in Michigan with her husband and five children. Find her online at rhondaortiz.com.
 

 

Connect with her: rhondaortiz.com   Instagram     Facebook     Pinterest     GoodReads     Twitter

 

 

 

Molly Chase

 
Genre: Historical romance with elements of family drama and political suspense

 

Certain things ruin a girl’s reputation, and madness is one.

BOSTON, 1793—Beautiful and artistic, the only daughter of a prominent merchant, Molly Chase cannot help but attract the notice of Federalist Boston—especially its men. But she carries a painful secret: her father committed suicide and she found his body. Now nightmares plague her day and night, addling her mind and rendering her senseless. Molly needs a home, a nurse, and time to grieve and to find new purpose in life. But when she moves in with her friends, the Robbs, spiteful society gossips assume the worst. And when an imprudent decision leads to public scandal, Molly is tempted to take the easy way out: a marriage of convenience.

Merchant sailor Josiah Robb is as familiar to Molly as a brother—as dear and as exasperating. Yet she is no sister to him. He hopes to marry her before anyone else does, but sailing the high seas leaves no time for convincing Molly that he is more than her teasing childhood friend. Josiah wants a new job and a fresh start, and when he agrees to carry a confidential letter to President Washington, his life is changed forever.

In the wake of tragedy, these longtime friends discover a new intimacy. But slander, confusion, absence, and a wealthy, conniving bully stand between them. And with French spies on the loose, they not only have to rescue their reputations—they have to protect their lives.

 

Preorder here: While this book is not yet available for preorder, I recommend signing up for Rhonda’s newsletter on her website so that you can get the latest news.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

November Graduate

 

Cathy McCrumb graduated from Biola University with a degree in English Literature and a love for stories. While writing is one of her favorite things to do, she also enjoys reading, long hikes and long naps, chocolate, baking gluten-free brownies, and crocheting while watching science fiction movies with friends and family. Her newest goal of ice fishing seems more attainable now that she and her family have moved to Colorado. Most of her imaginary friends are nice people.

Connect with her

 

The Recorder

Genre: Science Fiction
 
So, what’s *in* the book? Mystery, a touch of creepiness, and, yes, some romance, all mixed into dystopian science fiction, and a young woman who has neither a name nor a family. Plus, as he would have me tell you, there’s Nate. 😉)
 
The Recorder, the first book in Cathy’s sci-fi series, is set to release in November 2021. Set hundreds of years in the future, the novel tells the story of a nameless young woman raised to serve the public, and what happens when she discovers her humanity for the first time.
 
 
Follow Cathy for more information as it becomes available. 

 

 

Missed a Review? See the list here!

Missed a Review? See the list here!

2020 – A Year in Review

It is always good for me to review my year, and oops! It looks like I didn’t do many author interviews or giveaways this year. Is this something you would like to see more of? Let me know in the comments. Otherwise, check out the three categories below: Book Reviews, Author Interviews, and 2020 New Releases.

Happy New Year everyone!

Book Reviews – By Title (Omitting The and A)

It’s always exciting to see how many books I reviewed this year, though there are far more that I have read and just not written a review on, but I’m hoping to add those to my emergency stockpile for you to enjoy later. 😉 For now, you can revisit all the books I reviewed this year and see which ones you missed that interest you.

Banking on Love by Crystal Caudill (Info on Short Story for Newsletter Subscribers)

The Bounty Hunter’s Bargain by Lucette Nel

The Bride Bargain by Kelly Eileen Hake

The Christmas Husband by Lucette Nel

Circle of Spies by Roseanna M. White

“Far as the Curse is Found” by Amanda Barratt

The Gentleman Spy by Erica Vetsch

A Gilded Lady by Elizabeth Camden

“Heaven and Nature Sing” by Carolyn Miller

The House at the End of the Moor by Michelle Griep

An Ivy Hill Christmas by Julie Klassen

Last Chance Wife by Janette Foreman

Letters for Phoebe by Sally Briton

The Lost Lieutenant by Erica Vetsch

Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey by Abigail Wilson

No Ocean Too Wide by Carrie Turnasky

The Rebel Bride by Shannon McNear

A Return of Devotion by Kristi Ann Hunter

The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden

Three Little Things by Patti Stockdale

Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green

Waltz in the Wilderness by Kathleen Denly

“Wonders of His Love” by Erica Vetsch

 

Author Interviews – By Author Last Name

Kathleen Denly

Patti Stockdale

 

2020 ACFW New Releases

With the closures of so many libraries and bookstores, it has become harder and harder to just browse new titles. Hopefully, this review of 2020 Releases will give you that opportunity to find new reads for 2021.

January 2020 New Releases

Feburary and March New Releases

April 2020 New Releases

May 2020 New Releases

June 2020 New Releases

July 2020 New Releases

August 2020 New Releases

September 2020 New Releases

October 2020 New Releases

November 2020 New Releases

Decemeber 2020 New Releases

A New Short Story

A New Short Story

It’s hard to believe, but last month I turned in my first manuscript to my publisher for editing. As always, God’s timing is perfect. I turned in my manuscript on a Wednesday and that Friday, my mother-in-law ended up in the hospital. It’s been a few whirlwind weeks of tests without answers and lots of appointments. She is doing okay, but every day is different. Most days she can care for herself, but then there are days that she needs help with even walking.

Before all this happened it was my goal to have a short story written and edited for my newsletter subscribers and the draft of my second book 3/4 of the way done before edits on my first book came back. I’m happy to announce that I have met at least ONE of those goals (though I am a good way closer to my second book goal than before all this happened). I even created a cover, which is substantially better than the cover I designed for the deleted chapter. Without further ado, here is the cover and blurb for my short story:

Banking on Love

She expected to save her brother, not rob a bank.

November 1884

When Eunice Reed discovers her younger brother has been arrested for public intoxication, she travels from Cincinnati to Chicago to save him from himself. But public intoxication is the least of their problems. Irvin is tangled up with a dangerous bank robber. Will the love and ingenuity of a sister be enough to save Irvin from making the biggest mistake of his life?

This short story is exclusively for my newsletter subscribers. Not one yet? You can sign up here. My newsletter crew members are the first to know about titles, book covers, launch team member callouts, contests, and they get a monthly chance at winning a $15 Amazon gift card.

So was this post a shameless plug for my newsletter? Yep, but I put a lot of work into this 7500-word baby, and it’s one I hope you’ll enjoy.

True Confessions of a Bookaholic

True Confessions of a Bookaholic

I don’t know about you, but I have an obsession with books. The movers we hired can attest to that as they moved over 60 boxes of books to our new house several years ago. If we had to move again, I’d say that number has increased by at least 20. Being a simple book-enthusiast was never an option for me. It is a God-given passion, and I am addicted to the thrill of danger, love, and struggles of the story. In other words, I’m a bookaholic.

For your entertainment, here are ten confessions I have about being a Bookaholic.

It’s confession time:

  1. I used to be a single book at a time gal. Now I’m up to three or four at a time. One audiobook, one e-book, and two print (usually one nonfiction and one fiction). I do still tend to finish one before the other, but not always.
  2. I own an unseemly number of bookish t-shirts.
  3. With rare exception, I read only Christian Fiction, and usually, it is a historical romance.
  4. I have over 1000 print books in my house. Their physical presence is calming and grounds me.
  5. All of my books are organized and cataloged in a literal library system. I even have a barcode scanner. The old-school kind, not my phone–although I’m considering an upgrade. 😉
  6. I own more Christian Historical Fiction than my public library and lend books out to friends to justify my growing collection.
  7. Library Used Book Sales are my kryptonite. Our county has several a year, and I always come home with treasures and a request for another bookshelf.
  8. I have duplicates of my favorite books, which I gladly shove at my friends and make them read…even if I know reading “isn’t their thing.” I mean, what’s wrong with them? They just haven’t found the right book, and I am glad to help remedy that problem.
  9. My family has created a game called “Hide Mom’s Book.” It used to be only when they discovered I was nearing the end of a book, but now it’s whenever they see a book come in the mail.
  10. My husband once hid North and South from me and forgot where he hid it. For over a year, I searched, but it took until we moved to find it.
  11. I hide from my family to read books. Sometimes in the car, but most often in the laundry room or my bathroom. Gross? Yes, but a girl has to finish her books.
  12. I carry books with me everywhere. In fact, every single purse I own has died because the weight has separated the handles from the actual bag. Yes, I know, e-books. But there is nothing like a print book in your hand.
  13. More than once, I have pre-ordered the same book multiple times by accident. Yeah, Amazon supposedly has a little thing at the top telling you when you purchased the book previously, but who has time to read that when you are giddily hitting the purchase button?
  14. More than once, I have become injured while reading a book. Grease splatters from cooking get me. Pans have dropped on my feet. Books smash me in the face as I read in bed. Worst is missing steps I didn’t see while reading and walking. You’d think I’d learn my lesson about multitasking, but I haven’t.
  15. I haven’t read every book I own, but I keep buying more. That’s the real sign of a bookaholic, right?

 

I know I can’t be the only one. Be honest. We can have our own Bookaholics Anonymous Meeting right now. Share your bookaholic confessions in the comments. I’d love to hear I’m not alone.

Research: Love It or Hate It, You Gotta Do It

Research: Love It or Hate It, You Gotta Do It

This month’s “From the Author’s Desk” is a long post about researching for your novel that I wrote for another blog meant to help other writers. I wanted to post it here too, so I could include it in my For Writer’s Tab. I hope you’ll find it an interesting look a the practical side of preparing for a novel.

Research: Love It or Hate It, You Gotta Do It!

Research. You either dread it or love it. Regardless of your sentiment, as a diligent writer, you have to do it and do it right. Whether new at the researching game or old hat, it is my prayer that this post will give you a little bit of guidance, a few resources, and a “whole lotta” inspiration.

I will be tackling this from the historical fiction angle, but anything written here can be applied to any genre’s research needs.

Where do I start researching?

Think of the act of researching as similar to drawing a tornado—you start with wide broad spirals that narrow down to a very focused point the closer you get to the ground, or in this case, your story.

With this in mind, I recommend starting wide and shallow before you ever write the first word of your story. Get a feel for what the politics, economy, culture, major events, fashion, etiquette, industries, technology, and social constructs were like for the setting of your story. These could have potentially content-altering information that can cripple a story if you find out too late.

Honestly, my favorite way to get a broad overview is to find children’s history books on the topics. They often have lots of interesting tidbits while giving you a broad sense of what is going on. It also helps to guide you in to more narrow and deeper research.

Once you have a general understanding of the times, then you can really narrow in on the specifics of your character and situation. Below I’ve listed some topics for consideration and some guiding questions to help you determine what is going to matter most to your character.

Major Topics for Consideration:

Each story is going to have unique needs, so you need to gauge your research based on those needs. If your story isn’t going to have a huge political influence, stop researching politics after you have a general feel for your story’s need. If your story has a rich socialite and a poor man, you are going to need to know the intricacies of upper-class society’s expectations and how they differ from someone who has never experienced it. I think you probably get the idea. 😉

Politics: What major political events were going on during the setting of your story? How might they affect your characters? Most of us don’t live in a bubble, and what is going on in the world filters into our lives and our discussions. Take that into consideration to be sure that there isn’t something that would greatly impact your story’s plot.

For example, if you have your character’s father the owner of a railroad during the railroad strikes, that is going to affect your character in at least some manner. If your heroine lives during the era of growing awareness of women’s rights (a much longer period than you might realize), how will this influence what your character believes, thinks, and says?

Culture: This means looking at the region and locale of your story. What foods, activities, and sayings are common to that area? Are there certain expectations that aren’t included elsewhere? Do they have certain fashions? Are there certain people groups common to that area that would influence the culture of that city?

Cincinnati is heavily German. When I moved here, I experience lots of new-to-me foods, building styles, and a TON of Catholic schools. There were two for the area I’d grown up in. Do your research and you’ll be surprised about what will really add richness to your story.

Economics and Social Status: Different social classes have different expectations and behaviors. How are those going to affect your character? What obstacles will that create? Consider the careers they would be likely to have. What industry do your characters rely on? What is going on in those industries which could affect their lives? The more you know about these things, the stronger your story will be.

When researching my manuscript Counterfeit Love, I discovered there was a “Long Depression” lasting from 1873 to 1896. At the time, they called it the “Great Depression.” What I learned changed and set the baseline for the struggles my heroine faced, even though I never directly connected the two for my reader.

Organizing the Research

As much as I hate to admit it, taking notes which are easy to reference is critical. It is really important to keep a running bibliography so that you can back up your research when questions, and you can reference something if you get confused as you look over your notes.

I use a program called Scrivener, and under the research tab, I create folders. My “big folders” are named by the topic: Setting, Etiquette, Fashion, Gardening, etc. My broad needs are labeled for quick reference.

Inside each folder, I break it down to it’s smaller component topics. My current character is a master gardener, and I am a black thumb, so under my gardening folder I have topics like Master Gardener (which will include examples, requirements, real people, and their gardens which I can reference), Plants Heroine Works With, etc.

Beyond that, each book resource will get its own folder. Each website gets a single text document. I name these text documents and book folders by the name of the resource, and also by the topic if the resource is focused on a single topic. I take my notes in a table format:

Page Number

Exact Quote

Personal Notes/ Observations

Possible Plot Points

1

“ABC”

It’s the alphabet

A letter goes missing

It is a bit tedious, but I do find that it has been invaluable in brainstorming, reviewing information, and finding a specific fact quickly.

Each person has their own method, this is just mine, so do not feel like you HAVE to do it my way. Do be sure to keep track of your resources though. You never know when you will have to justify something you wrote.

Conducting Research

When it comes to conducting research, it is easy to get lost in the mire of possibilities. You can visit museums, websites, historical societies, read history books or primary sources, travel, or even search satellite maps.

Most of my research is done from home and online. To find my resources, I usually start with a search of my local library’s catalog or a Google search to find some reputable resources. Yes, I even go to Wikipedia—but only as a starting point to direct me somewhere else. I get what information I can, and then I look at their bibliographies. This is how I narrow down what I am going to read.

I prefer diaries, books, and newspapers written during the era I’m writing. This can be difficult and expensive if I’m not careful. I highly recommend seeing if your public library has a subscription to Historic Newspapers websites. Mine has several. From home, I can read newspapers and search for topics in those newspapers for free. It is marvelous.

For books, there has been a wonderful movement to digitalize old books and most of them are free to read. Below I’ve given you a list of my favorites. You can search by title, year, subject, or even keywords. It has been a lifesaver, especially during these strange times which makes research extra difficult.

While finding books from eh 1880s can be expensive and difficult, there are a lot of books that have been digitalized and can be searched for free. Below, I’ve given you some of my favorites. 

Online Resources

https://babel.hathitrust.org/ – This is my favorite resource. It can take some weeding through, and you’d definitely want a specific title, but I have found countless resources here.

https://books.google.com/ – They list them all, whether you can read them or not, so just make sure they say Free E-book when you click on it.

https://archive.org/ – This one has gotten in trouble lately for pirating current books, so make sure you are only looking at books printed before WWI. Generally, I only go to this website once I have a specific title in mind. There are usually multiple copies of the same book and it does take some weeding through.

Search for the historical society of the area you are researching. Some of them have online resources, some will be thrilled to talk to you and help you out, and some will never answer back. Either way, they are a go-to resource for information you would never have imagined.

How to Avoid Rabbit Trails

Oh, the wonderful things you can find when researching! And oh how much time you can waste. What helps me to not waste hours down a rabbit trail (and I still do often), is to keep the specific thing I am researching in mind.

When I come across something else that strikes my fancy but isn’t what I need at that particular moment, I add a note and the website link to a folder I title “Research This Later.” 90% of the time I don’t go back to it, but having it tucked away for later helps me to release the rabbit trail and stay focused.

It’s a simple trick, but it works well. You could also set a timer for how long you are going to research this topic, but I find I turn those off and just keep going.

While writing your actual manuscript, I recommend you do not go and research something the moment you find you need it. Just make a note in your manuscript like this: [RESEARCH FASHION]. The primary concern with drafting is getting the story down as quickly as you can. Research can cause you to lose that momentum.

How do you decide what to use?

Throw all you want or find interesting in your first draft. This is your place to just see where the story takes you. Once you begin the revision process you can decide what needs cut. To make that decision, ask yourself: “What does my read absolutely need to see and understand the story?” and “Does this slow my story down?”

If it is needed AND slows your story down, see if you can change up the presentation of the information. Can it be communicated briefly through fascinating dialogue?

If it isn’t needed, even if it doesn’t slow your story down, you’ll probably need to cut it. You can always leave it and see what beta readers think. However, what I’ve observed in today’s readers is the more concise you can be, the better.

Cutting that beloved material from your first draft can be hard, but you can still use those materials in blog posts, social media posts, and promotional opportunities later on. You already have the content, and readers may find it interesting.

There is really is so much more that could be said about research, but I have surpassed my word count. If you have questions or want to learn more, feel free to contact me.

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