Research is a Necessary Evil

This month I put together a short story in response to a prompt about summer. The story took place at La Jolla Cove, and involved parrots. Amount of research done: None. I know these things. If the story expands to something longer, I may have to learn how to surf. Yeah, that will happen.

I have a novel on hold while I work on other projects, but for that story I had to research medical treatment for soldiers returning from France after battling Napoleon’s forces. There’s nothing that really addressed that specific detail from that time. Wellington hated to waste time and resources on the wounded, and pretty much left them all to themselves. I also had to research chaplains in that time, and luckily discovered much more on that subject.

I’m pretty much spoiled by the modern age. I want to type something into Google search and have exactly what I want pop up. What do you mean, I have to subscribe to History Journal to get the information? Why are you telling me about Russia when I asked about the French farmers? Who are all these people in wigs and why are you showing me their portraits?

I have this friend (ahem) who writes erotic romance in the Regency period. The first book in the series of short novellas is about to be published, but the second one requires some research. Like was there a French resistance to Napoleon’s army similar to the one in World War II? If not, how quickly can I – I mean, she – create a plausible time travel situation?

A couple of the hits for the subject recommend books – actual, written in ink on paper books – that might have the clues to what I need to know. To help my friend. I may be taking a trip to the local library when it opens again on Tuesday. Won’t that be fun? Where did I put my library card?

Of course, I have another resource called Scribophile. I can post the problem there in one of the historical research groups and see if anyone has the answer. Because Google is more about Napoleon the Man.

And when I searched for Part of France that Survived Napoleon Best, I learned more than I wanted to about the Russian campaign. Scorched earth policies and a winter of massive proportions ended that plan. But I didn’t know that Napoleon abandoned his army when retreating, leaving them in the worst part of winter, at -38 degrees (Celsius). Three-fourths of the army froze to death in one night. That’s 75 out of every 100 French soldiers. Freezing is not a horrible death, really, from what has been written about it. Still, death is death, and no amount of thinking otherwise helps. I know there are more novel ideas here, and I will look for them another time. Oh, and here’s the page with the paintings.

Back to the French farmers. Searching for French country life, thinking I would work my way backwards to the 19th century, I discovered some beautiful patterns for drapes and furniture fabrics, and antiques for sale in Petaluma. I did uncover a great blog about a woman buying a nearly uninhabitable French farm house and renovating it. I bookmarked it so I can go back and read the step by step upgrading of the place. I love that she went there with her father, and he was totally against it. But she followed her heart, and did what she wanted to do. Now there’s a novel story!

Here’s the page that recommended a book. At the library.
And here’s the book itself: So it’s off to see if the library has it, and then plan a trip there on their next open day. You know, time travel is looking better all the time.

Have a great holiday weekend in North America, and a great day around the world. See you on Thursday.


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