You may not realize it, but I’ve been working very hard since my return from IRA (post to come on that whirlwind trip). Since arriving home, I’ve painted a table for Shangri-Lar and helped Neil shovel one-half yard of gravel (did you know one-half yard of gravel weighs one-half ton? My body can vouch for that!).
I”m going to share the other thing I’ve been doing as a cautionary tale. As you know, I have a book coming out in the Dear America series this fall. The Fences Between Us gave me the chance to tell a story I’d long wanted to tell and I did my utmost to be historically accurate. As is my wont, I spend many hours reading the Seattle Times from the WWII time period, even using 5 or 6 actual headines in my book.
So far, so good.
Then my sweet editor asked me if the headlines were real or created and if real, to give the citations. Now, I keep a journal of research notes and so, smugly, I flipped through that journal.
And found I couldn’t identify where in the world I got one of those five headlines. I also often footnote historical references in early drafts. . .but had failed to do that for this particular headline. I hadn’t made a photocopy of the article, either, which is another favorite research trick of mine.
In all, I’ve spent close to 20 hours trying to solve this mystery. Twenty hours that could’ve been spent working on the new book, or brainstorming about the title for the yet-unnamed Delacorte book due out next spring.
So learn from my mistakes: take careful, scrupulous notes. About everything!!!
Advice from a sadder but wiser writer.