Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wicked Wendesday....Research

I know, you were all waiting for some man candy to pop up, weren't you! Well, maybe at the end of the post! lol!

Currently, two of the three LIT ladies are writing and researching. I'm one of the two. Personally, I ADORE research. I read research novels for pleasure. I know, some of you are cringing, but it's the truth. You wouldn't believe the mundane facts you come across. In one second it's an obscure fact that has tickled your fancy, the next, you have the seeds of a plot. It's really rather fascinating.

I've done a lot of research this winter/spring. First there was my research into the Druid relgion and way of life. I delved into the Druidic black arts like death and sex magic. Which utterly absorbed me. I found obscure references to Celtic terror machines and more about human sacrifices. I learned how to cast a dark sex spell....well, the steps to it, I haven't actually practiced it in theory!!!! I read six books on the occult, the modern day gothic lifestyle and modern day Druid religion. I have pages and pages of small details that I did write into Velvet Haven, and want to incporporate into future books.

Right now, I'm in 1850's London. I'm researching cholera, there was an epidemic of it in London, as well as the first grassroots movements of nursing and the early thoughts/views on women's rights. I'm also having fun reading about London College hospital and the shennanigans that went on there! I was astounded to learn that the wealthy actually had operations in their own home, on their own beds!!!! BLECH! I suppose though, the hospitals were rather dirty and the indigent and down on their luck were the usual patients. There is no way a duke would want to be in the bed beside a dirty consumptive! I'm just thinking of the mess in their homes, but then, the rich had servants!

While glutting myself on a new supply of Victorian research books, as well as some new romance pleasure reading, I got to wondering about how people of the Victorian age found their reading pleasures? Was it through ads in the newspapers? Word of mouth? How did the best sellers of the times become bestsellers?

Myself, I find that I wait for my monthly issue of Romantic Times to come out so I can scan the upcoming releases. I find many books in that magazine. I sometimes look at the 'also recommended' at Amazon. Something that is new in my research, are blogs. I seem to be getting alot of books that are receommended by readers who run their own blogs and do reviews. I especially enjoy the 'I'm eagerly anticipating' or 'I can't wait to read' venues of the blog. Nothing is more exciting than to find someone who shares your reading tastes. And to find new books, from someone you know likes what you likes makes the book buying process easier.

I must say that I no longer scan the romance shelf, perusing covers and blurbs looking for something to raed. I don't know why. It might be time constraints or the fear of parting with money on a book that may not satisfy my cravings. It may be the huge availability and my inability to choose what I want to read.

There is a vast choice for us readers today. How do we chcoose? Perhaps that's what's different for us. The Victorians didn't have the choice we do? So, what did those Victorians do without blogs, the web, Amazon and and RT? How do you research your books?


Barbara said...

Hey Charlotte!! I love how you gave us a bit of Craven-Moore at the end, but I actually LOVE the first picture. So romantic.

Well, I've only been going online--ready?--for a little over two years. Seriously. I NEVER went online for anything. I did have to on occassion when I was a bookkeeper but it was usually always work related stuff. Other than that it was simply to check emails. I never went to Amazon or B&N.

When I first began reading my first recommendations came from my mom--sort of, lol. I would sneak into her room and "borrow" some of her romance novels. I don't remember how, but I had come across a Lisa Kleypas novel and I do know that the first time I ever went to a bookstore was to buy one of her books.

After that I would just randomly choose a cover that struck me as beautiful and if the blurb sounded good I'd buy the book.

As for now, well, I still do the same thing. I'll spend an hour in the book section at B&N just browsing covers and blurbs. However, the majority of the books I read come from recommendations from fellow bloggers or from Amazon--who very kindly keeps track of what I like to read, lol.

Oooh, and I never knew about the surgeries being performed in the home. VERY interesting!!! I did know about the Cholera epidemic.

How do you find all your research books? I have quite a few, but it takes me forever to find what I'm looking for on Amazon, believe it or not.

Charlotte Featherstone said...

It really does take forever to find research books.

at Chapters, they havea bargain section in the story, and I swear, it's like an orgasmic experience for me because you can gorgeous reference books for like 5 and 10 books. I'm in book heaven there!

So, I spend time going through the bargain books, looking at things and picking up books that I might find useful down the road. Like, I picked up a this book for 2bucks, it was about angels, andit had a really informative chapter about the fallen angels, which helped when I wrote Suriel for Velvet Haven.

Other times, I'll just type in a phrase on goodle, like 'history of nursing in Victorian England' and see what comes up. I've found most of my research books that way.

For the occult stuff, I went Lleywen (sp) publisher and looked at their titles. I also Googled "History of the Druids' and got a tone of information.

What era are you looking at. I have a lot of Regency research books and I have moved away from that period.
If you're interested in Victorian let me know, I'll give you some good overall reference books for that period. Oh, another place you might like to try is the Victoria and Albert Museum shop. They have a lot of books for sale,

Oh, and one more thing...the travel brochures for England are all free, and they're gorgeous. I've gotten some on Wiltshire, Northumberland gives you a concise history of the county, some pictures of hte countryside, things to so etc...I find those very informative and useful, especially when doing descriptions of the area.

Charlotte Featherstone said...

excuse my typos...sore fingers from writing these past two weeks!

Barbara said...

No, I'm all about the Victorian Era. That's what I research.

I have like five or six books on the era itself, then I have one or two on London alone. I like the whole Anglomania bit. I just read a REALLY great research book on it. Out of her element American heiress--English noble.

My problem is with mapping out England. None of these books ever tell me where the "rich" lived. I've seen 1800's maps of London--streets and all--but that doesn't help me.

I also browse alot of author websites. Alot of times they have a section for writers that tells where they found their info., books, etc. I found a few great books that way.

Oh and I love reading about true Victorian Era scandals!!! They were bad back then, he he ;)

Sometimes if I look up a specific person or scandal I will be referrenced to another and another. Often times when I'm researching I find myself at a loss as to what I was originally looking for because it snowballs into reading something completely different, yet, equally interesting.

ranearia said...

When it comes to research I have to admit am a total fiend and will spend a great amount of time on a subject, I speant about two whole months (and a few nightmares later) going to libaries, online sities reading up on Texas ghosts for my term final exam. Though I am forever researching history and usually haunt the history section on my local bookstores reading before I buy yet another history book.

When it comes to romance books, I found of late alot of goodies on goodreads. I shamefully admit I do tend to look for the pretty covers and read the blurbs for them, and maybe the frist chapter to see if it's any good. I know Google,BN and Amazon offer you a sneek peek into each book so that's another bouns which helps me decide if the book is any good.

Victoria Janssen said...

I do most of my research using books, and I like to own the books if at all possible. Another of my favorite research tools is microfiched newspapers, which give a wonderful feel for a period.

However, the internet is invaluable for some things, too. I've also looked at physical objects in museums.

Victoria Janssen said...

Forgot--I catalogue my research books on LibraryThing, which sometimes leads to me finding other useful books.

I file URLs on delicious:

VampFanGirl said...

Hi Charlotte!

Even before I discovered blogging, I was an online girl and Amazon was my romance research hub. I read reviews, summaries, and excerpts if they were available. After all that and if I liked the book, I went off to see if the author had a website so I can get more info like a longer excerpt or backlist. I'd be seriously disappointed if the author didn't have a website and sometimes that influenced me enough to not buy the book.

In all my short romance loving years, I've never sat in the bookstore and looked through all or even some of the available titles. For some reason I have a hard time choosing something from a large selection without researching beforehand, unless it's clothes. That I have no trouble with taking my time. ;)

Now that I've discovered blogging, my research into a potential buy is even more thorough than before but I still have a thing for author websites.

Interesting discussion.

:) VFG

Charlotte Featherstone said...

I have to give credit to Ranearia who introduced me to GoodReads. It's been fun and I have made some news friends, and found new books! THANKS!!!!

Victoria, I love to own books, too. I mark them up, dog ear them, highlight passages etc so I can reference back. I do some on-line researchas well, but nothing compares to opening up a book and scouring for what I want. It feels like 'legitimate' research then! lol!

VFG, interesting about the author website. Myself, I'm notoriously bad for updating my website. I don't know why, I'm just not that organized!

But, speaking as a reader now, I do love to visit author website. I especially love little snippets and deleted scenes and alternate endings and new prologues etc.... I'm hoping to do such stuff for both Ccharlotte and Sophie,not only because it's good writing excercise, but it's fun for readers, I think. AT least for me as a reader, I liek that.

I also like bullentin boards, wher the characters come on, like JR Ward and Gena's ask the Lord's stuff. I'd like to do that for Velvet Haven.

Would that be of interest to anyone?

Genella deGrey said...

Most of my research is done online, but my other half is a history major - so I pick his brain as often as I can. He also has a ton - and I mean a TON - of historical reference books. We watch a lot of movies (you can tell who's done their research and who's trying to be 'artsy') and read books actually written in the era in which I am hoping to recreate.

Fun post, Charlotte!

VampFanGirl said...

Oh yes, I'm a fan of deleted scenes but I'm an even bigger fan of the back story on how the book came to be. What was the intention? How did that change and evolve into the final product? That sorta thing. That in combination with deleted scenes has me totally engrossed.

I love message boards, but I'm not a big poster. I'm more of a lurker. I love getting info that way and I'm a current stalker of Kresely Cole's and J.R. Ward's boards. But I can totally visualize some awesome hussy chats on a Velvet Haven Message Board. *wink*


flchen1 said...

Hi, Charlotte! These days I definitely do most of my book research on-line--most often from blogs (either readers or authors or both) but also from review sites and frequently fellow romance lovers. And I have to say that my TBB and TBR are a zillion times bigger than they used to be!

I did used to get book recommendations the old-fashioned way--from seeing a cover at the library or the bookstore or from reading a blurb in the book reviews section of a newspaper or magazine (Cosmo, anyone? ;)) And I do still pick books up by chance while browsing the library or bookstore shelves in person, but not as much these days.

And I'm with Barbara--I'm not terribly efficient at finding what I'm looking for when searching. Maybe that just gives me a chance to find things I wasn't looking for ;)

Amanda McIntyre said...

Taking a quick break from said researching and writing, thi si an interesting thread. Did they have bestsellers back in the Victorian days? When did that term pop up and why?

I admit to loving research also. I am giddy about finding a book called the history of London in maps recently , and do a great deal of purchasing my research books online or at the recommendation of another author who has had success with information and is nice enough to recommend the book.

I am a "google" fanatic as well. I love to read the articles that pop up at the snap of your finger!

I am an eclectic writer of history. So for me my research begins with each new project and I like to spend a good month gathering everything there is to know on a certain era, person or topic that I want to feature in the book.

But that isnt always easy, even in this day of vast technology. For example, in TORTURED, researching teh Dark Ages was a booger! (elite writer's terminolgy)I watched every film on medieval that I could lay my hands on. Listened to the soundtrack of King Arthur until it resonated in my brain as I wrote. I even resorted to obtaining the History channels DVD on the Dark Ages (History channel is an amazing research base, btw)

Short of catapulting myself back in time, I wanted readers to smell the dungeon scene, feel the heat from the village fire and come away breathless from the love scenes--
For me , immersion into the research is all we have when writing history to be able to extract those lovely sensory perceptions.

So even my pleasure reading these days has a lot to do with research ;)

Speaking of research, I must find Lord C.M. and ask of his vast knowledge of strokes...painting, that I need for plotting out a scene in The Master & the Muses.

Back to the studio~

Amanda M