Books Emerge from Research

grimshaw_battersea_bridgeI am spinning wheels on the current Unexpected Magic work in process, which means I’m diving deep into research mode, looking for a way out of the corner I’ve written myself into. Having started my career by driving librarians crazy with inter-library loans attempting to dig out esoteric information, I am always amazed by the enormous amount of material to be found on-line today. I treasure a map I bought in London back before internet days showing me when particular areas were built and giving me all the lovely street names. Today, I can go online and get an interactive map like this where I can zoom up on any area for street names, then broaden to see how my characters will travel from Mayfair to Battersea. And I can find famous paintings of the bridge itself, which was reported to be extremely rickety at the time I’m writing about. (see painting above)

And then I can dive into detailed descriptions of 18th century Battersea and learn things like this: On the site of Bolingbroke-house was erected, about two years ago (1797), a horizontal air-mill of a new construction, and of very large dimensions: the shape of the dome or case which contains the moveable machine (fn. 45), is that of a truncated cone; …having just space to turn round within it: the extremities of this machine are called floats, as in the wheel of a water-mill; …there are ninety-six floats, and the same number of shutters in the dome, which, when open, admit, even when there is little wind, a sufficient current of air to turn the machine, and, by a particular contrivance, shut when the wind is so violent as to endanger the structure. This mill, at its first erection, was used for preparing of oil; it is now used as a corn-mill, and is occupied by Messrs. Hodgson and Co.

Recognize the Hodgson? I refuse to dive down the bunny trail to see if it’s any relation to the items we find in our grocery store now. I need to get back to work. I’m so easily distracted! If anyone else hunts down that history, let me know, will you?

PS: Okay, I dived deeper and found this absolutely fabulous visual map of the Thames riverbank in 1829! Have fun!


An Amazing Thesaurus for Historical Romance Writers

refshelfI think I’m in love. As a historical writer, I’m always wary of words that sound modern, but it’s so very difficult to find a replacement word that modern readers understand. Most of the time, the appropriate historical word doesn’t show up in modern thesaurus searches, so I’m left racking my less-than-reliable brain.

But now, I have this!

In my latest tome, I have a little boy in 1830 complaining about girls and “mushy” stuff but feared “mush” was a little too modern (late Victorian era, I learned). So I clicked on this lovely link, ran a search, and oh, the fascinating things that turned up. Try it. You’ll love it!

(the photo is my go-to reference shelf to show I really do have books too!)

Mental Power Outages

I’m still trying to close in on the major climactic turning point of the current WIP and the wheels are grinding badly. So here’s another tip from today’s lesson—another way of overcoming the outage is to research something!

I found this absolutely marvelous, fantastic, wondrous website on Glastonbury Tor

( and spent forever reading through it this morning. I now have visual and verbal images of the area my characters are heading into, along with all the wonderful myths associated. I already knew many of them, which is why the storyline has led my characters there, but there were such lovely little details and things I’d forgotten to jog my idea factory. Once I was done there, I sped through a few more to make certain I had all the details straight in my head, and I was ready to send my characters on their way.

Of course, this doesn’t help much when I start making up the magical part of finding their way into the Tor, but what I can tell you? I’ll get them there somehow.

So research and pictures–excellent for reviving the power.