I'm working on a new project right now...a second book in the NINE RULES series...and today is probably the first day that I've felt like I'm really doing good work on this book.
Let me explain: starting a book is like meeting a new friend. You're excited. You think you just might enjoy the company of this interesting new person. They seem funny and cool. They seem like the type of person you'd like to invite into your house for a rousing game of Rock Band. But you don't *really* know them and, frankly, you're not entirely sure that they won't ultimately go crazy sauce on you when you mention that you don't really like Pat Benatar.
And yet you take the risk and you invite them over.
For the last few weeks, I've been hanging out with my new book. We've played videogames, eaten pizza, watched a few episodes of House...it has agreed that, yes, empirically, Hugh Laurie does have the most beautiful eyes in the whole world. And then, this morning, we realized that OMG we both went through a (somewhat unbearable for those around us) Right Said Fred phase and yes...we both secretly loved Mamma Mia. It's very exciting.
But for me, this new friend comes with all sorts of other stuff. Historical stuff. All sorts of research that I have to nail down before I can really be comfortable with this new friendship and say, have a sleepover. And so, I give you the websites I can't write without.
1. Online Etymology Dictionary - I've talked about this one before, but it bears repeating. It's an awesome free resource for etymological questions: when was a phrase first recorded; what did a word mean in 1823 that, perhaps, means the opposite now (see snob); did a word even exist in 1823 (don't get me started on neckline)?
2. This Awesome Calendar Site - It doesn't have a name. I don't know who made it. But if you want to know what day a holiday fell on...or if you, like me, are simply neurotic and have to know what day the newspaper that arrived in Yorkshire from London might have been published...it's Awesome. With a capital A.
3. The Ancestry.com British Maps Database - Towns in my books are real. Distances matter. If you're going to set a book at a country house 200 miles from London, you'd better know how your characters got there--and how long it took to do it.
4. The Regency Realm - This one isn't free...but it's an incredible annotated bibliography of over 900 historical resources that might come in handy for a Regency author. If you're a member of the Regency chapter of RWA (Beaumonde), it's free with membership. If not, you can purchase it on disk for a fee.
5. The Times of London Archive - Another one that's not free (at least not from the comfort of your own home)...but is worth every single penny. The Times has a searchable digital archive from 1785 to today. Pay for a day pass ($4.95) and spend some time reading the paper from 1820. If that doesn't get the ideas flowing, check your pulse (If you're in NYC, you can do this for free at the 42nd St. branch of the New York Public Library--another reason to hug your nearest librarian).
6. Pandora - This one isn't about writing or research, really. But I've got my Strauss radio station (for waltzing inspiration) and my Ani DiFranco station (for strong, fun heroines) and my Jack Johnson station (for steady, handsome heroes who are just asking to be shaken up)...and sometimes you just need some great music to get the juices flowing. If you're on Pandora, come on over and be my friend.
Ok. I'm getting antsy. I'm going back to hanging out with my new friend. Later, gators.