Tag Archives: Thousand Islands

The Research Quagmire

 

Happiest of Scribe Days to you! What’s Scribe Day? July 7, of course. Seventh day of the seventh month. Seems like a good day to celebrate!

The Scribes have come a long way since that fateful day in 2011 when we launched this blog. We are all now published or, in my case, about to be published–FETA ATTRACTION releases January 6! Cover reveal coming soon, I promise. Yeah, I’m the caboose on the Publication Train, but I hope it’ll be worth the wait.

One problem I never thought I’d have three years ago was being on deadline. Oh, of course I’d heard of other writers being in a mad race to finish and turn in a manuscript to an editor–I just never really considered that someday I’d have a pony in that race.

So here I am, in the middle of the third book of my series, which is due in a couple of months, and I’ve found myself bogged down. I haven’t been writing. I’ve been researching. Ah, research. My Strange Addiction. I keep waiting for the producers of that television show to call me.

I’ll say it now. I. Love. Research. Love it. Give me a computer with an internet connection and I’ll happily research anything, for hours on end. Genealogy and local history are my two danger zones. And both of those topics feature heavily in my Greek To  Me Mysteries, set in the Thousand Islands, situated between New York State and Canada in the St. Lawrence River.

My latest research obsession? Don’t laugh. Salad Dressing. Thousand Island salad dressing, to be exact. Next time you open a bottle of that pink creamy stuff to pour over your greens, you might be interested to know that the origins of this dressing are shrouded in mystery. There are three competing versions of its Creation Myth, all with a northern New York connection. And based on my hours of poring over old cookbooks at Project Gutenberg and Archive.org and some more obscure digitized public domain materials, I think I’ve come to a decision about which of those myths is the most likely to be true. Not that I can reveal it just yet, LOL! But if you’re interested in a summary, click here.

But for a book to feel authentic, a writer needs to do her research, right? So the hours were necessary. Well, yes, but only up to a point. My story only needed a minimum amount on this topic–and yet my investigative journalist-like nature overtook me and I wanted to get to the bottom of the mystery. See, I’d like to be the one to break a story like that. Someday, I just might do it.

Research can enhance your storytelling. Or it can be a huge timesuck-slash-avoidance behavior.  The research doesn’t mean much if you don’t get the words down on paper and out the door to a waiting editor.

So, I am allowing myself one more hour of research on this topic–for now, until book 3 is finished. I ordered a DVD of a local PBS documentary which claims to have found the smoking gun in the Thousand Island dressing and when that comes, I will watch it. But no more hundred-year-old cookbooks. No more searching the Internet for contemporary accounts of salads. Pinky swear!

Do you do research for your writing? Can you stop anytime you want or do you get obsessive? What’s your favorite salad dressing?

 

 

 

 

Waitin’ On A Dream

Hey, all, Suze here. Great to see you again!

Some of you may know that I’ve finally, after a mind-boggling amount of agonizing, started querying agents and editors about my first manuscript, now titled Rest In Greece. (It’s a fun adventure/mystery set in a Greek restaurant in the Thousand Islands area of New York State.) I finally got the first few chapters to a point where I was satisfied they weren’t total doo-doo, had a serviceable synopsis (thanks to the awesome assistance of my sister Scribes and other CTRWA goddesses), and a decent query letter.

So now I’ve got queries out to a bunch of agents and have had requests for a couple of fulls and several partials. And I’m waiting.

And waiting.

Oh, I know this process takes time. Agents and editors have crazy numbers of emails to sift through. And when they do request whatever number of pages, they have to find time to read them, decide on them, and then respond yea or nay.

So what’s a writer to do in the meantime? Well, intellectually I know I should be writing the next book. Makes perfect sense. And I’m working on it, although not at the pace I’d envisioned. But here’s what I’m doing more of:

  1. Obsessively checking e-mails on computer for responses. Yes? No? I’m even hunting through my spam folder and reading Cialis ads (not clicking on links, of course!) in case some agent has a quirky sense of humor and has hidden her/his response in such an unlikely place and wants to reward me for my ingenuity and mystery-solving skills by offering me a contract.
  2. Obsessively checking smart phone for reponses, in case, somehow, a response shows up there but not on the computer.
  3. Obsessively researching the next round of agents to target, assuming Plan A (immediate acceptance and adulation!) does not come to fruition.
  4. Obsessively searching for ever-more-beautiful photos of Joe Manganiello–it’s research, I swear!
  5. Obsessively cleaning closets and drawers and organizing workspace. Because of feng shui and all that. I’ve been through every cupboard in my kitchen and thrown out tons of crap (including a full trashbag of unused plastic stuff). Next step: sorting through clothes for entire family and making donations.
  6. Obsessively checking horoscopes and online oracle sites (click here — you’ll thank me), hoping for a definitive answer to the most important questions: who, when, and how much?

So, keep me company. What do you do while you’re waiting?

Welcome To My World

Hello, everyone!  Suze here.  Today is a very exciting day.  I’m introducing my world . . . to the World!  Yup, if you click here, or on the Scribes’ Short Stories tab above, you will find Thursday’s Child: Annabelle and the Dumpster Diva.  It’s the Scribes’ second free story, and it’s mine!  All mine!  Well, not anymore.  Because now it’s yours too.

Boldt Castle, Thousand Islands, New York

So let me tell you a bit about this world.  All my tales, present and future, take place in or near a little fictional village called Bonaparte Bay, New York. Ever been to a resort town?  One that bustles in the summer but closes up tight in the winter?  One with a lot of wonderful, tacky little shops selling tee shirts, and fudge, and snowglobes or shotglasses with the name of the village written on in italic script?  One near the water?  Then you’ve got a pretty good idea of what Bonaparte Bay looks like.  My village is located on the beautiful St. Lawrence River, right on the Canadian border, in an area called the Thousand Islands.  Bonaparte Bay isn’t real, but it could be.

As for my characters, you’ll meet a couple in this story.  One is pretty colorful, and I hope you like her as much as I do.  She’d like to be the heroine of a full length novel, but I don’t think she’s ready for that.  She’ll have to be content with a short story for now.

Without further ado, I welcome you to Bonaparte Bay, a great place for a vacation.  The members of the Chamber of Commerce would appreciate it if you’d come and spend some money.  Take a boat tour on the  Lady Liberty.  Dine on Chicken Marengo at the Bonaparte House restaurant. Get a commemorative tattoo at Tat-L-Tails.  Stay a nice long while.  Unless, that is, you’re spooked by the idea of a murder.  Or two.  Or maybe three . . .