Thursday, November 8, 2012

Research, Pictures, and More!

Research begets research: that was the motto of my graduate thesis writing days, and it has never been more true than during my recent writing endeavor. In the past few months, I have researched these diverse and interesting topics as I draft Steam on the Horizon

1) Eunuchs in the 19th century (if you are not squeamish, this posting is graphic and informative)  
2) The use of telegraphs during war - check out this fabulous article that I found the other day 
3) The mechanics of steam-powered engines - gotta love Flying Kettle for all their great information
4) Ranking of 19th century medical professionals (there were physicians, surgeons, and pharmacists)
5) Mary Seacole - an unsung hero nurse of the Crimean War  
6) London slums during the 19th century 
7) The average weight and growth cycle of a Barbary macaque 
8) How many newspapers were available in London during the 1840's
9) Who controlled Tangier, Morocco during the 19th century 
10) The Rankine cycle 
11) How did sailors tell time on board a ship - leading to research about the chronometer 
12) The range of the average cannon 
13) How 19th century ships found other ships before GPS and satellite tracking 
14) Cholera epidemics 
14) The operations of a shipping wharf and the use of a gantry crane 
15) The history of Jewish people in England 
16) The ethnic makeup of London in the 19th century 
17) The plausibility and tactics of an airship battle
18) Potato blight and The Great Famine in Ireland
19) Food storage and preservation before refrigerators were common 
20) The scarcity of drinking water in Gibraltar 

And this is just highlights from my research and does not include other diverse topics I have either researched prior to writing this blog post or will be researching in the future. Writing this book is really a book-nerd's dream; I can hole up in my office and let my English major brain range freely across whatever flights of fancy and interested conjecture it dreams up. If one were to browse my internet history in order to gain an understanding of what I am doing or where my interests lie, I doubt that any clear assumption could be drawn, unless I had recently completed a research session on drug use in the Victoria era. That is when I grow slightly nervous that the FDA will somehow track down my numerous hits on sites dealing with opium production, cocaine injections, and laudanum preparation. 

Currently, I am working on a short story set in Tangier, Morocco: I was in Tangier several months ago, and it is really quite a fascinating place with a rich, colorful history. Roberts is walking through a souk on an errand, and he has an abundance of marvels to observe, seeing as Tangier was an international zone during the 19th century and loosely governed by a Moroccan ruler and a collection of European diplomats, which allowed all manner of brigadiers, gamblers, Mafia members, and other colorful characters free run of the city.  This story should be done in a week or so, and I'll post a link to it. 

I am also working my way through "Phoenix Rising" by the talented and wonderful Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris whom I had the great pleasure to meet at Emerald City Steampunk Expo. I blundered into a panel put on by Pip and Tee and although I had never even heard of their names before, they most graciously spent several hours with me offering an abundance of good advice and sharing their experiences. I told them that the entire con could have been a complete flop but just meeting them and learning from what they have done would have make the entire weekend a smashing success.

One of the many things I took away from my encounters with Tee and Pip is that there probably isn't enough steampunk in Steam on the Horizon. This occurred to me yesterday as I wrestled with how Victoria was to best get fresh news about the Crimean War to England. At the time, there was not a direct telegraph from Constantinople to London, and it took at least two weeks to get information there. The Horizon could fly that distance in less than a week, but I think I have been sticking too close to historical accuracy and need to let technology be more developed. Yet another thing to work on as I research. 

Where I left off writing yesterday was about October 28th, 1854, a few days after the Charge of the Light Brigade. So far, I think that the Horizon will be in the Crimea over the winter, then return to London in the spring where the climax will take place and the book will end. I had planned for each book to span approximately a year, and Steam on the Horizon opens up in late May, so this should work fairly well. I expect that the entire book will be about 35 chapters. I am currently writing Chapter 24 and I think another 10 chapters will see us to the end of Draft 1. Then the process of revision starts!

However, it is looking more likely I am going to need to find a full-time job. Funding for Indiegogo is coming in, but I have until November 15th to raise $3,500. Without full funding, I won't have much of a choice but to get a full-time job, since I can't keep living off of credit cards. This will mean that Steam on the Horizon will be put on the back burner and the publication date will be shoved into the future. I know I will eventually get the trilogy done, but working a full-time job will delay it. At the most, I hope I can survive with just a part-time one, enough to earn some money and help me stay afloat. Funny enough, I might be a little more productive with my writing if I have a part-time job because a time crunch tends to make me more organized and focused. You know what they say, "If you want something done, give it to a busy person." 

So, time to start writing for the day! Actually, more precisely, it is time to walk the fat, fluffy thing that is currently licking himself. Here he is in all his wonderful cuteness. 

Isn't Erasmus adorable? I love Basset ears: he looks like he has ham slices on his head. How can I possibly be grouchy, ever, when I live with this guy?

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