Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “Idaho”

The Autumn of My Discontent

The Idaho Territory in 1863. © 2004 Matthew Tr...

The Idaho Territory in 1863. © 2004 Matthew Trump Idaho territory in 1864 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The toughest part about writing a historical novel is research. I am discovering researching is becoming as addictive as dark chocolate Dove bites. I can’t seem to stop once I start.

For instance, having characters taking a walk in winter is not a simple undertaking. The month, year, and locale all become significant. There is also clothing considerations, appropriate interactions, and possible terrain aspects.
I ran into this when I decided the sisters would walk outside with two brothers after a neighborly get together. I scampered to my files to find if young people did indeed walk unchaperoned, if  the area had some snow–or too much. Which leads to clothing, which leads to age appropriate mannerisms, which leads to..

It’s If You Give a Mouse a Cookie syndrome–one aspect leads to another. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed at this point.

Yet, here’s the problem–I’m too far into the novel to abandon it (again). I have this quirk about finishing projects. Especially when I get encouragement from agents, editors, friends, and critique circlers to finish it.

When I do feel bogged down in detail I turn to my inspirational muse, Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson. She won the Newberry Honor for her novel about a sixteen year old girl who inherits her uncle’s Montana homestead claim. It’s a dazzler for historical detail, characterization, and overall verisimilitude. It flows with imagery, sparkles with plot points, and it’s based on her great grandmother’s homesteading adventures. It’s becoming a favorite yearly read.

As inspiring as Larson’s Hattie is, I’ve unfortunately hit that dratted writing wall. Right now I’m stuck between seasons. What would my homesteaders be doing in autumn? Winter and Spring are covered. October and November? Hmmm…

I can see why fantasy novels are popular–creating worlds has got to be easier than traipsing backward to figure out what’s already taken place in ours.

Any Idaho historians out there?

Greedy or Needy?

With school about to start I’m ignoring some areas of my life  (housework: wow, is that dust thick or what) and going into overdrive in others (library browsing:l’ll take that one and that one, and this one too). I can easily ignore cleaning, cooking, gardening, even writing knowing I have only a week or so left to read at leisure

Reading at leisure. That grand and glorious luxury of picking up a book anytime during the day or night and divulging in a session of indulgence. I’m on a zero pressure schedule currently. At least for now. After September 3rd I begin the nine month marathon once again and my leisure time gets yanked, oh so cruelly, away and becomes dry docked until further notice.

So, is it greed or need that I’m currently reading five, or is that six, books at present?

  • The Notebooks of Da Vinci–inquiring minds must know
  • Miners and Travelers Guide by John Mullan–research
  • The History of Idaho Territory–research, but Idaho is an underrated state
  • Edna and John–a love story of sorts from the 1860 Idaho Gold Rush days
  • Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde–been on my NTR list for some time now
  • The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister–fave librarian ET handed me this and said “read this” and so I am–I forcibly have to stop myself from reading it so I can get at least a little something done it’s so good!
  • Oh, then there is the assorted magazines like my newest Writer and stack of freebies one of my writer group cohorts passed my way.

So the prognosis is? Well, self diagnosis is that I’m leaning towards reading for my current writing project (fictional novel set in the Idaho Gold Rush days), but I’m slipping in some goodtime reads (although Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde is not exactly Mr. Goodtime). Reading my Need-tos and slipping in my Greed-toos–isn’t that similar to a bite of beans along with my chocolate pudding (who says dessert must wait?)

Anyone else out there try to find a balance between Need to Read and Greedy Reading? As long as we are reading it’s all good, right?

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