Dishing on Strange Research

Research, more specifically the strangest thing researched for a book? Some Authors Dish on that topic on the CTR Blog.  Oh yes, I am one of them.

I talk about long bows, flying as in controlling the yoke from the pilot’s seat, and swords. Researching a long sword does cross the line into strange. Not surprisingly since I write sword and sorcery fantasies, I have researched how to use a sword. Besides search engines and utilizing my own list of military weaponry sites acquired from when I was a correspondent, documentaries on how modern day artisans reproduced ancient weapons and armor added an additional dimension. Attending re-enactments added a personal touch.

The full list of authors is at My post is here and I hope you’ll start there. Won’t you?


~till next time, Helen



Journalling – A Thought or Two

After completing both the 2017 and 2018 52-week challenges, having a new release, and completing the AtoZ in April Challenge, focus was on things other than writing for pleasure. However, I’ve decided to answer a few of the 2019 MFRW challenge topics. Don’t panic I’m not going to do all 52 weeks. There are too many topics that were already covered in prior years.

This week, the official topic is “Does journal keeping help with the writing process?.” How to write something different than the 2018 post, Diary or Journal? That focused more on the differences between the two types of writing. No, instead this post will be more of the writing life.

Pixabay Image. Used under CCO Creative Commons.

One of the pieces of advice I often give authors in my lectures, especially those just starting out, is to keep a journal. No it is not the diary once popular among young girls. It is not a small pink book with a lock whose key was worn on a chain around your neck or hidden in a secret spot in your bedroom. The purpose of the writing journal can be to record feelings, however it is much more. A journal as a motivational tool records each days accomplishments in words written or edited. (Or if in promotion mode, number of social media posts.) Of course, if the numbers aren’t what you wanted, that might be motivation to quit rather than continue on. 

Some might call a novel notebook or a series bible the journal for that particular project. Character lists, storyboards or outlines, and pictures to inspire settings or characters fill the pages.

But for the purposes of this post, I’ll talk about the small spiral notebook that I jokingly call my journal. And since it’s a digital world I also include the files and folders on the laptop into which some of the data has been duplicated.

What goes into the physical or the virtual journal. On their blank pages storyline ideas develop and expand.  Notes on scenes to write, unique words to add to my vocabulary, also get jotted down, although sometimes in cryptic notes.

One of the main uses of my writer’s journal is to accumulate names. The credits of a television program often contain a name that says “I am xxx.” I have to admit that my memory for small details (or even some larger ones) isn’t as good as it used to be. Age has introduced the shiny object syndrome. Or what I like to call “walk into a room and forget the reason why,” because going through the doorway took away all memory of my task. So writing information down immediately upon discovery helps save it for potential use.

But there are problems with having a journal. Handwriting gets illegible. Even worse, they are hard to organize. The information is not grouped by subject but chronological. Sticky notes or paperclips used to mark a particular piece of data fall off.  And you have to remember what information you wrote to be able to search for it.

Still, the act of writing something down helps its capture in the memory, so I will keep my spiral notebook with the black script on the cover that says “Journal.”

 ~till next time, Helen