A Research High

Does anyone else enjoy, I mean really enjoy, researching? Well, it’s not a big secret at my house how much I LOVE and thrive on research. That is one reason I love to plot and write historical fiction. All those facts weaved in with fiction. What a combination! Another plus of stay at home–joining my Jane Austen binge, NaNoWriMo writing, and gardening–is research.

IMG_5166I usually have to wait until the summer or Christmas break to read and study all the books for a new project. A blessing during quarantine has been my research on 1740s France during the Enlightenment era with characters such as King Louis XV, Rousseau, Voltaire, and Madame Dupin and her salons. I chose the period before the French Revolution to add a glimpse of what led to the downfall of the monarchy.

IMG_5165I set my new work at the Chenonceau château–my favorite place on earth! No, really. This castle is called the Ladies’ Château for most of the owners have been women. In 1740 the famous woman was Louise Dupin who is known for her enlightening salons where celebrated and want-to-be philosophers met and expounded on their thoughts and theories. I’m using this search for knowledge and truth as the background for my characters facing “truth” in its many forms.

IMG_5167Even though I’ve started writing my novel, I continue to research. When I rewrite it, I’ll include any tidbits that I need to ground it in history. I always feel down when I’ve finished a research project.

Bring on the non-fiction research materials. I purchase my research books so that I can glean more from them at any point. For Whispers of Wisdom (Book three in Gardens of Time) I’ll read and use about twenty resources.

IMG_5168Oh, and did I mention that part of my research always includes a personal visit to the sites that I include in my novels? I continue to show up on the Chenonceau property to wander the rooms and stroll the avenues and gardens.

Is there any research you are passionate about when you have time to explore? Vacation planning, ancestry, how to….

NaNoWriMo recap

IMG_4729I want to give a little shout out for an awesome group: National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) Before COVID19 attacked, I had signed up to participate in the April Writing Camp. I set my goal at 30,000 words on my new work in progress, Whispers of Wisdom. I didn’t know if I could meet my goal, since normally I teach full time. I will add that I did meet the November NaNoWriMo 50,000 goal for 2019. Yet, I knew I’d have to adjust to add new words every day in the spring.

IMG_4437Then, I had a lot of help. No more full time teaching for the school year. I treated my writing as a job. I researched in March finding resources in French and English to support my plot. The topic: 1747 France, Chenonceau Château, Enlightenment, Salons, Rousseau, gardening, Madame Dupin, Madame Pompadour, King Louis XV.  I’m still researching even though I have written 30,000 words of the novel.

IMG_4756On April 1, I began the first chapter of Book Three in Gardens in Time: Whispers of Wisdom. I’ve finished six chapters and will keep writing another 60,000 words until The End.

The times are difficult for the nation, the state, the individuals, the family but hopefully you can find the extra time to do something you thought you’d not have time for in the normal day.

For the month of May, I will be sharing about the little things I’ve added to my day during these simpler times.

What is something you’ve had time to do?IMG_4757

Château de Chenonceau

IMG_0107.JPGMy FAVORITE place on earth–the Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley on the River Cher in France. This fairytale castle captured my heart and imagination forty years ago and draws me back often. My most recent visit took place in July. My heart dances at the thought of it.

IMG_2726Built in the 16th century, this “small” rather magical place has housed many flamboyant characters from kings and queens to mistresses and philosophers. The stories vibrate from the tapestries, paneled rooms, tiled floors, stone staircases, and treasures displayed throughout the rooms.

And oh, the stories going around in my head! One will become a novel, a part of my Gardens in Time Series (yet to be published.) Book #3 will take place in Chenonceau during the Age of Enlightenment in France around 1750. The historical characters will be Louise Dupin who surrounded herself with poets, writers, scientists, and philosophers as well as those on the political scene. Her salon became infamous as a stage for debates and ideas prior to the American and French Revolutions.

IMG_0110The fictional characters of my novel will interact with those who question traditional authority and ways. Lisette, possibly the name of the heroine, has always lived on the farm connected with the castle and now supplies the flowers and ornamental foliage that perfumes the salons and enhance the guests’ experience. Christophe performs the role of a guard acting on behalf of the king keeping the grounds safe. How will their lives change as the ones within the walls of the castle deem it necessary to change the world? The gardens of the castle act as a perfect backdrop for intrigue, love, good food, beauty, secrets, peace, and dreams whether royalty or commoner, educated or illiterate.

IMG_2644Today the grounds of the Château de Chenonceau in France are a gardener’s delight. They have been maintained with their original structure and intent in place. Each time I visit there is more improvement and much more to explore. The formal gardens of Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Médicis are manicured to perfection in all seasons. I explored the Labyrinth with my daughter as well as a huge garden divided into plots full of all the vegetation used for decorating the chateau. Hundreds of varieties of flowers, fruit, and vegetables occupy the area, giving the visitor a visual of what it might have been like a few centuries ago. Also, there is a 16th century farm complete with stables, houses, pond, and storage rooms.

My mind was overloaded with ideas and images as I walked on this historic ground one more time. I hope to write this novel soon and send it on its way.

Is there a place that you want as a setting for a novel? (I have so many!!)