Welcome Back, Laurie!
Once I got the scanner, I became a bit maniacal about scanning. Much of it was novels I had wanted to read, but the research materials began to flow, too. Let me note here that, for a person with a reading disability to scan texts is perfectly legal, as long as she doesn't share them with anyone else. I'm really adamant about this.
Some of the first books I scanned were purely out of personal interest. These were books on aromatherapy. I was editing an alternative health newsletter at the time and the notion of fragrance and healing fascinated me. Amongst the books on scent I found was one called Fragrance. Through a researchist, I found that author's phone number and got my copy directly from him.
Somewhere in all those fragrances the idea for Family Guardian was born, though it didn't get so much as outlined, let alone written, for another ten years. Sadly, because of the length of Avalon Books historicals, I didn't use a fraction of my research. I had to concentrate on the relationships and romance over the perfume.
Other books I read were The Regency Companion and What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew—classics. Somewhere along the way, a friend of mine gave me a copy of The Quizzing Glass, and I joined The Beau Monde, still with nothing worth reading written. I was still in research mode and working and preparing for grad school. I also subscribed to The Regency Plume for a while, too. One place I got the most information was The Regency Library. I also took on-line classes once I got connected. Victoria Hinshaw taught one on English Country Houses. I just got access to that information a few months ago when I was able to recover data off of my old computer I thought lost forever after a spectacular crash—the joys of being married to a software engineer.
Although I have been to Europe three times, I have never made it to
Without the advantage of travel, I began scouring used bookstores for travel guides and diaries. I found a couple of gems that are quite old. Our Own Country, circa 1885 and springtime in Britain.
I also asked questions of people in Britain and who had traveled there. I have books of maps, something I will likely always need a reader for, so I probably got a few things mixed up with the translation from person's perspective to mine.
I also have fashion books. I get them mixed up since they all seem to have the same or similar titles, but they and the plates I got through The Regency Library have been quite helpful. In one scene, my heroine is wearing a costume that is straight out of one of those La Belle Assemblée plates of the same year. It just sounded pretty to me and something she would wear.
When researching my Georgian novel, The Widow's Secret, I went to an eighteenth century reenactment ball. Everyone was more than happy to show off their costumes to me right down to the embroidery on their stockings. And my dear friend, the late Lynne Brantley, who introduced me to The Beau Monde to begin with, made me a Regency costume.
It's fairly conventional forms of research, and I am always adding to it. I love the sites like Gutenberg that give us access to electronic copies of old books. I am slowly working my way through about fifty I downloaded from there and Google Books and another site for persons with reading disabilities Bookshare.org.
I have to thank technology for my beginning to write. I had wanted to and knew I could not until I could research. Until I had the software to do that, it was too cumbersome and time inefficient.