Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Miss Manners to the Rescue

Read carefully to get your name in the drawing for a copy of one of Judy's Amana Colony books. ---------Mary

Now, without further ado, here is our very own Miss Manners to the Rescue
---Judith Miller.

I’m sure most of us have been told by our parents to get our elbows off the table and to put our napkins on our laps. After all, it’s good manners. As writers, there are lots of good manners that serve us well as our careers begin to blossom. I’m sure most of you have learned the proper and improper ways to locate an agent or approach an editor, and you’ve likely learned the protocol expected at conferences, but there are a few manners we don’t hear as much about—and those are research manners.

If you write contemporary fiction, don’t push that button on your computer that says “this doesn’t apply to me.” Whether we write historical or contemporary fiction, and since none of us knows everything, our writing requires a certain amount of research beyond the internet. There’s a big difference between riding a carousel horse and seeing how one is constructed!

I enjoy research—that’s probably true of most writers of historical fiction. Along the way, I’ve learned some things (call them manners or kindnesses) that I think will help you make the most of your “out of the office” research experience. So here we go:

If you’re going to visit a site (library historic building, museum, etc.) and will want assistance of any sort, call ahead and make arrangements. Identify yourself as a writer in need of information for a specific project. Most curators and librarians love to assist writers. However, because they also have schedules, it helps them if you can call ahead and arrange specific times. Do your best to accommodate their schedule rather than your own. By making prior arrangements you’ll also get more out of the visit, especially if you’ve given the librarian or curator specifics regarding materials that will assist with your project. If they have advance notice, most will pull materials for you and have them waiting. What a gift that is! When I researched in Pullman for my Postcards From Pullman series, calling ahead proved valuable because I was traveling from Kansas to Chicago and the museum and curator were only there certain days of the week due to limited budgets. Had I gone without making prior arrangements, I could have wasted valuable time.

When you arrive at any of these places, introduce yourself, present a business card or brochure about your writing and credentials. Ask if they have any special protocol or rules regarding handling of their materials. Some require white gloves, some require you leave all personal belongings except for a pencil and paper or computer in a locker, and some have no requirements at all. Be willing to follow all of their rules, and never complain.

Inquire if they have any suggestions that they think would enhance your project. Most of the employees of these sites are founts of information and are happy to share with you—ask questions and then LISTEN without interruption. Through contacts at history centers, I’ve discovered curators or historians willing to read my manuscripts for technical error. That is a huge reward! In addition, most places are thrilled for the added publicity your books may bring to their area. If you build relationship with members of the community, it can lead to added publicity for them and you. The folks in Pullman hosted a tea and book signing for me at the Hotel Florence to help promote my books. My current books are set in the Amana Colonies in Iowa. The Colonies have several large festivals each year and host me at the large General Store for signings. Those signings have been wonderful for me and for them!

If you can afford to, make a donation to the places that assist you. If I’m writing about a particular setting, I join their historical society so that I receive information about any new projects or acquisitions they may receive at their history or cultural center. I know making donations isn’t always financially possible, but with decreased budgets donations are greatly appreciated—so do what you can to help. It reflects that we care.

Don’t stroll in with your camera and begin taking pictures. Even if no one has asked if you have a camera, you should ask if it’s permissible to take pictures, and if you can use a flash. Flashes can damage certain artifacts.

When interviewing or gathering information from anyone, even staff members of a museum or during a tour of a site, always ask if it’s permissible to make a recording. Many times the museums sell their guided tour information on CD’s, and they prefer you purchase those rather than record during a tour. Besides recording anyone without their knowledge isn’t good manners, and could get you into a little bit of legal trouble—and we wouldn’t want that.

Even if the material provided or the site you visit doesn’t meet your expectations or provide the necessary information, be gracious and thank the staff. It isn’t their fault they don’t have what you need.

After the visit, write a thank-you note. I know. We all hate to write thank-you’s, but we are writers and the written word means so much more than a quick email or a hurried ‘thanks’ as you walk out the front door.

This is NOT an all inclusive list, but I hope it will give you a little food for thought as you hit the road for your next research trip. In fact, I know all of you are probably thinking about things I should have mentioned, but your good manners are holding you back. Well, don’t hold back any longer. We’d all benefit from hearing what tips you can give us for excavating those mines of information out there.

Since I write historical fiction and am drawn to unique settings, I usually have at least three books set in one community. Making and maintaining friendships with people from the different places I’ve researched has proved to be one of the highlights of my writing careers. People love to share information, but they also enjoy being treated with kindness, respect and thanks. Those three things go a long ways toward creating good contacts in the research world!

My own research has been taking place in the Amana Colonies for the past several years as I’ve been writing an independent series titled Daughters of Amana. I’ve had the opportunity to receive wonderful information from their historical society, attend a Amana church service in German, interview local historians, and even walk through their barns. All these things help me make my story authentic.

The final book in the Daughters of Amana series, A Bond Never Broken, recently released and someone who leaves a comment will be chosen to receive the book. Here’s a taste from the book.

A Bond Never Broken
October 1917
Amana Colonies, Iowa
Ilsa Redlich
I had failed.

There was no other way to justify our presence at the train station.

My brother, Albert, tipped his head and leaned down to look into my eyes. “Please smile, Ilsa. I don’t want this to be a sad occasion. I want to remember your engaging smile and the twinkle in those big blue eyes.”

I tried, but even his reference to my eyes didn’t help. Gaining control over my trembling lips would be an impossible feat. “Please don’t ask me to smile. To see you depart does not please my heart.” The headpiece of my woolen cloak had fallen to my shoulders, and I touched my index finger to the black cap that covered my hair. “My head will not accept your choice, either.”
Once Albert stepped onto the train, nothing would ever be the same. The war had changed everything, and who could say when I would ever see him again.
As if reading my thoughts, he rested his arm across my shoulders. “They’ve told me I’ll serve all of my time at Camp Pike, and I’ll probably get to come home for Christmas.”

I nodded. “They told Dr. Miller the same thing. Did that stop them from sending him to Europe?” I didn’t wait for my brother’s answer. “The same is true for you, Albert. Those people can tell you anything they want, but it doesn’t mean they will keep their word.”

He tightened his hold and squeezed my right shoulder. “You worry too much, Ilsa. All will be well. You must put your trust in God.”

Passengers skirted around us, eager to purchase tickets or locate a seat near the station’s wood-burning stove. “Like Sister Miller? When I saw her at the Red Cross meeting last week, she didn’t think all was well. She was in tears when she spoke of her husband.” I lowered my voice. Speaking against the war was not

a good thing, especially for those of German heritage. “And she was angry, too. She said her husband was told he wouldn’t be sent overseas because of his conscientious objector status, but still they sent him.”

“Ach! Who can know what happened with Dr. Miller? Not me or you. I am only certain of what I’ve been told: I will serve at Camp Pike and then return home.”

He wasn’t going to listen, so I bit back any further arguments. Not knowing when I would see Albert again, I didn’t want to spoil our parting with cross words. Mother had kissed Albert’s cheek, said her good-bye, and hurried to the kitchen to prepare the noonday meal for the hotel guests, but I hadn’t failed to notice the tears she’d squeezed back. And Father had murmured a hasty farewell and pulled Albert into an awkward hug before heading to the wheelwright shop after breakfast. Around us, the clamor of conversation rose and fell. A train whistled in the distance. “You promise you’ll write? Mutter and Vater will worry if they don’t hear from you each week.”

He wagged his finger back and forth beneath my nose. “It is not Mutter and Vater who will worry. They have peace because they trust God. But you, dear Ilsa, are not so quick to find that peace.”

“Nein. Probably because I prayed you would be spared from the draft, yet you received your notice. Then I prayed you would file a request to be released from military duty because of your religious beliefs, but you didn’t. Instead, you only checked the box saying you are a conscientious objector. So then I prayed you would fail the physical exam, but you passed with flying colors. My prayers failed on all accounts, and I find it hard to trust that God will answer my prayers to keep you safe.”

“God heard your prayers, Ilsa, but He has other plans for my life, and those plans include serving in the U.S. Army. It’s as simple as that.”

I glared at a group of boisterous passengers congregated nearby, angry that their lives remained unchanged while mine was being turned upside down.

“I promise I’ll write,” Albert said, “but you shouldn’t expect a letter every week. I don’t know what my duties will be, and I don’t want you to be disappointed.” He grinned. “Maybe you could bake me some cookies and send them.”

I forced a tight smile. “Ja. You know I will.”

He pecked a kiss on my cheek. “I will be happy to have some, even if you burn them.”

I gave him a playful shove. He never failed to tease me about the first cookies I had baked without Mother’s help. Tearful when they had burned, I fretted there would be no dessert for the hotel guests. Albert had come home and joined me in scraping off the black crust. He’d declared them perfect, though I don’t think the guests had agreed.

Tears threatened and I swallowed hard to keep them at bay. I could cry later. But not now, not during these precious final minutes with Albert.

With only an eighteen-month difference in our ages, we’d been close all of our lives, unlike many of our friends who didn’t get along with their siblings. Perhaps that was why I’d taken it so personally when he refused to take my advice to remain at home. Then again, maybe it was because I feared his decision would influence Garon and change my life even more. And it had. Not only had Albert’s decision wreaked havoc in my relationship with him, it had also caused problems between me and the man I was pledged to marry.

“Unless the elders tell us the government wants us to use even less flour and sugar than we already do, I will do my best to send you something gut to eat at least once or twice a month.” I did my best to keep my tone light.

Please visit Judy at her website at http://www.judithmccoymiller.com/ where you can sign-up for her newsletter and discover more information about her writing life.

A Bond Never Broken is available at bookstores everywhere and may also be purchased at http://www.bethanyhouse.com/; http://www.christianbook.com/; http://www.barnesandnoble.com/ and http://www.amazon.com/; and at your local Christian book store


  1. Thanks for being here in Seekerville, Judy! I just got a copy of A Bond Never Broken, actually!

  2. Thanks Mary and Judy. What a blessing to be able to visit the setting and have so many resources available to you. I know how that can deepen the setting in a story.

    I have to say I was pulled right into your story and it made me realize how much I love reading first person.

    Have a great day everyone~ I'm in the mood for some nice home fries. I like mine with Rosemary, but "I'll eat them with anyone regardless of her name" Yuck yuck.
    I better make a double batch and I think I'll throw some chopped red peppers in there too.

  3. Judy,

    We met in Alexandria, Indiana when you were touring with Tracie and Cathy. Thanks for these tips because they can be applied any time we do research, including asking someone about their occupation.

    I've come across some information about Quakers and have wondered if there is any connection with the Amana Colony. How have the Amana books done as compared to your other books, if you don't mind mentioning this? I suppose the economy has had an impact on everyone's sales?

    I know I saw the first Amana book at WalMArt and decided not to buy it that day. When I went back, it was sold out.

    I'd love to win the book

    cathy underscore shouse at yahoo dot com

  4. Thank you for your excellent reminders on "manners." I am looking forward to applying them when I need to do live research. I would love to win your book!
    teaching by writing at yahoo dot com

  5. Hi Judith, Welcome to Seekerville, I'm especially grateful that you are here and so enjoyed the taste of your latest book set in the Amana Colony.

    I'm like you. I love the research and find there is plenty when writing contemporary as well. In fact, that is my favorite part of writing. And how fun that they feature you in their festivals. What a great idea.

    The fact that they will offer to read for authenticity is huge. I always find someone from the field I'm writing about to do that. It is surprising how little things you assume will change the believability when they are not correct.

    Debra the home fries are to die for. My favorite food.

    I'm adding a huge bowl of sliced oranges from my tree. They are so yummy I can't help but share. Almost as sweet and tasty as chocolate.

    Speaking of chocolate, I have cups of steaming hot chocolate and some chocolate velvet coffee.

  6. Judith, thank you for your words of wisdom. Your counsel on research protocol is an excellent reminder, and I tend to fall down on the thank-you note end. Dagnabbit.

    And your passage reminded me of my husband's grandparents, two German immigrants who came over in 1911 and 1909, and were young adults during the war. Young adults with strong German accents and a lot of family still living in Germany.

    A difficult time all around. Thank you for your exceptional depiction of that time, those mixed feelings.

    And DEB MARVIN... Potatoes with rosemary...

    Or Deb...


    Potatoes ANYTIME for this Irish chickie!

    Loving them and Sandra's chocolate velvet coffee. I'm soooo happy right now.

  7. Hi Judith, and greetings from a fellow Topekan!

    I enjoyed your insights into research etiquette, and I know I'll be putting your tips to good use as I extend my research beyond the internet and primary source books.

    My biggest problem with research, though, is that I love to do it so much that I can get bogged down if I'm not careful. How do you know when you've done enough research for a given book or series?

    And I'd love to win a copy of your book...


  8. Hi Judith,

    Your mention of locking up your belongs and only being allowed paper and pencil reminded of a research trip I took to our state historical society!

    Thanks for your manners reminder.

    RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

  9. Thanks for this column on research etiquette. In this day and age, it is important to remember people trump machines in terms of passion about and connection to a certain group or time in history. Watson may have won on Jeopardy but Ken Jennings was the one interviewed over and over about what it was like playing a machine!

    Thank you notes should include a specific act or way the research contact helped you. Don't forget to thank those folks who may not provide you with what you are looking for this time. You may need them for the NEXT book.

    Thanks again for a wonderful post.

    Peace, Julie

  10. Welcome to Seekerville! Thanks for the advice about research etiquette. It's a great reminder for me since I'll be going to the Adirondack Mts. in NY this summer for research on my new book.

  11. Thanks for the post, Judith. What a beautiful excerpt from your novel.
    And a great reminder of showing thankfulness by keeping our manners in order :-)

  12. Judith,

    Manners are wonderful ANY time. Thank you! I'm moving my elbows as we speak. :)

    Ah research. Yes. I'm a history/elementary ed major. LOVE research also.

    may at maythek9spy dot com

    For anyone wanting a fabulous first hand research opportunity - go here: http://historicrugby.org/

    It's not far from where we live. There is the most amazing library. Check it out. (Pepper, we could meet up there some time and have lunch!!)

    Thanks for coming by Seekerville today!

  13. JUDY!!! It's SO wonderful to have you here today -- WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE!!

    I met Judy at a writer's retreat a few years ago, and I can honestly say she is one of the kindest, sweetest and most gentle people I have ever met -- I was totally blessed by the meeting.

    As someone who tends to be an armchair researcher, I am totally blown away by the extent to which Judy will go to research a project. Although research is not my favorite aspect of writing, I have to admit that Judy inspires me to dig a little deeper into the historical research realm to enhance the flavor of a book, something at which Judy is a master. When you read Judy's books, the depth and detail is SO well done, not only does it put you smack dab in the scene, but it builds in a respect and gratitude to the author who took so much time to make the reading experience both authentic and enjoyable.

    Judy, LOVE the excerpt!!! what's next after the Daughters of Amana series?


  14. Good morning, Judy! Great post! And when it comes to doing research and mixing it into your storyline, you're a master. Your attention to detail and historical accuracy always makes your books sing with authenticity.

    As someone who has already read A BOND NEVER BROKEN, I can tell you all you are in for a treat when you read it.It has a little of everything--intrigue, romance, and history.

    I think the support you've gotten from the Amana people and the historical society there show how repectful you have been of their history in telling your story.

  15. I think it's important to note we must exercise those manners not just with historical societies and the like, but even with fellow writers whom we may be contacting for help.

    I LOVE historical research. I wish I could make a living at being an Arizona historian (though at present I'd starve because even with all the time I've invested, I still only know a thimble-full of what I want to know).

    But research can be daunting in terms of the massive amounts of time it takes (and trying to sandwich that in between the day job). There are times I despair over the amount of research I still need to do on a project, and I'll say to a friend of mine "I'm going to quit writing historicals and start writing contemporaries." To which she'd say, what good would that do? You'd do as much research for the contemporary as for the historical.

    So true.

  16. Hi Judy:) I love your stories about the Amana colonies, and you write with such attention to detail...thanks for blessing us all with your gift! I'm working on a historical fiction book right now and love the research too...although sometimes I think I get bogged down in it:(
    Thanks for teaching us protocol when researching 'outside' our writing cubicles:) Showing respect and kindness goes a long way!

    Please enter my name also for a chance to win your new book...I would totally love to win the newest in the Amana series:)


  17. Hi Judy! Thanks for the great post! As someone who works with historical researchers it is amazing how much more willing I am to go the extra mile to find information if the individual is pleasant. Therefore, I always try to show the same consideration when I conduct research. Thanks for the reminder!

    The excerpt from your book was beautiful! I look forward to reading the rest.


  18. Hi Ladies,

    I have appointment this morning, but I'll try to talk to as many of you before I leave. I must say you are up and about early in the day and fries with rosemary at 8:00 in the morning???

    Cathy, you asked about the number of books I have written about Amana: There are three, but I'm doing another series that I'll begin this year. The first book in the new series will release in 2012.

    Jan, you asked about how I know when to stop researching. I'm like you--I love it. I try to do research the same way I plot out my books. I do the basic skeleton of the research as I'm generating the basic ideas for the book. As I tighten up the story into a detailed synopsis, I know much more of the detailed research I'll need. Then as I'm writing, if I find there are research items that either need to be done or verified, I either mark them or dig in and find the answers. If the writing is flowing well, I simply mark the spot and go back later. Hope that helps.

  19. Thanks to all of you for your kind welcome. And BK, I couldn't agree with you more! The way we approach others and request assistance speaks volumes!

    Julie, you asked what's next after Daughters of Amana--Tracie Peterson and I have another co-authored series we're working on that is set on an island off the coast of Georgia. It's The Bridal Veil series and the first book is titled To Have and To Hold.

    I'm off for my appointment, but I promise to return by late morning.

  20. Good morning Judy and all of Seekerville!!

    Judy, wonderful tips. I will be doing some of my own contemporary research in my own area soon and this is great advice. I, like most of us, grew up with some manners, but we all need refresher courses especially in our busy world today. And as you said, the rewards for being generous in heart and spirit paid off in the end with a loyal readership.

    Don't add me to the drawing. I can't wait to read "A Bond Never Broken". It's on my table and next in line. :)

  21. Such great information. This post is definitely a keeper. Thanks - and please enter me in the giveaway :)

  22. Hi Judith,

    The extent of your research really shows through in your books. As a reader I love to feel transported into another time and I just 'know' whether things feel authentic or not. They always are with your books. As a writer I would love to try my hand at a historical, but I have to admit getting all those facts right seems really daunting.

  23. Judy, welcome! And thanks for a great post! You mentioned some things I've never thought of doing. Very helpful!

  24. Hoping to check in soon. Hubby broke his collar bone on Saturday and now I'm on my way to pick up one of the boys to take to the doctor. Seems like the bronchitis has come back after going through the flu...

    Anyway, hi to all and hope to be back sometime today or this week!

  25. I'll tell an interesting research story.

    My book releasing this May begins at Mesa Verde and ends in the bottom of the Grand Canyon. I learned so much interesting stuff about both places but that's not what I want to talk about here.
    Someone suggested a good way to get info was to go to the National Parks building in Omaha and ask for info they have about any place I wanted to research.

    So I found this really nice buiding...three or four stories, very new looking, and I went in. Big lobby, and a front desk with one guard-like man standing behind it talking to another person across the desk. Talking, talking, talking. So I started wandering around. Not much to see and I was around a corner and an elevator door opened and I thought, "Well, I'll see if there's someone not so busy who'll talk to me," and stepped into the elevator after those exiting got out.
    I road up to the second floor and got out and expanse of cubicles and offices and NO ONE. Absolutely empty. Weird.
    But around a corner I heard something so I went in, looking for anyone who could hand over a bunch of free maps or whatever...and found two men talking and I said, "Blah, blah, free maps, blah, blah, websites, blah, blah, my tax dollars at work." Whatever I said in my tidy little request."

    One man looks at me with this absolute dead serious expression, ignores my questions and says, "How did you get in here, Ma'am."

    He escorted me OUT of the not-so-secure upper regions of this empty office building and left me downstairs. Where I was handed a list of website links. And the serious man had a serious talk with the front desk man.

    I was afraid I was going to get the guy fired.

  26. What a great post, thank you! I don't write historicals,but will need to do some research soon about certain topics, it's good to have this list in mind when you approach someone.

    What a sneak peek! Thanks for that fun bit this morning. :)


  27. Thanks for such a wonderful post, Judy.
    You reminded me how sometimes we offend simply because we don't know what is expected.

    I remember going to a parent-teacher conference when my daughter was in preschool and being horrified when the teacher asked me to make her understand that it was inappropriate to stand on the tables.

    When I spoke to my daughter about it, she was confused. She knew she wasn't supposed to stand on tables - she just didn't realize the tiny pieces of furniture in the playroom were tables!

    Thanks for sharing your excerpt. I really enjoyed the story.

  28. I'm back from my appointment and I see you ladies have been busy during my absence! Loved your story about the National Parks building, Mary. How funny!!

    And Julie, I showed my daughter your post about my sweet and gentle personality. She's still on the floor laughing. She said to tell you that if you'd grown up in this house, you'd know I can go from sweet and gentle to First Sergeant mode in less than five seconds. :)

    Thanks for all the kind comments, ladies!

  29. Judith, what great suggestions! I rely so much on Internet research--perhaps TOO much at times--that I'm sure I've missed out on some great opportunities to visit with librarians, museum docents, etc.

    However, for my current wip, which is a historical, I'm drawing upon many years of collecting materials and touring sites in a city where we've vacationed almost every year since the mid-'80s. I figured if the city is that interesting to me, it surely would make a good story setting! On one of our next trips I will definitely make a point of visiting their historical society.

  30. Hello Judy, Thank you for the guidance in etiquette in professionalism and being grateful for the knowledge we can find in research. I plan to copy your suggestions and paste them in my notes. It reminds me of the Biblical edict "In all things be thankful." Being on the level of writing I'm at so far, I haven't done any research. I can see a two fold benefit for research - to find interesting facts to write a story around; and story suggestions when your creative juices have run dry.

    What a book you have written! I enjoyed the excerpt and look forward to reading the entire book. You did mention this is the last of the Amana Daughters series - and I haven't read the first two. Ach! Guess I'm better do a little research before I read A Bond Never Broken.

    Thank you for offering your exceptional story for giveaway and to Mary for the chance to win it. I hope I am the winner!!

    Sharing His Faith,
    Barb Shelton
    barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

  31. Hello again, Judy - forgetfulness is not of proper etiquette, but I forgot to tell you that I'm also a Kansan, not too far from Topeka. I'm from the small town of Enterprise, near Abilene in Central Kansas. Now that I've informed you of that important fact...I can relax. LOL I also enjoy historical novels. I enjoyed your interview and plan to learn more about you in the future.

    Barb Shelton
    barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

  32. Great advice, Judy. I often say I write contemporary because I don't like research. But there is still research involved, just not historical. I've had to learn about florists, landscapers, carpenters, postal workers, advertisement executives, and cowboys for books, not to mention settings.

  33. Thanks for a great post, Judith. And your writing sample makes me want to buy the book.

  34. Thanks for the post Judy. Next time I will try to remember prodical and not jump the ropes to touch everything in the exhibit. Nor will I remove my gum and stick it under the antique table edges or take pictures without permission.
    And I will not take my lemon pledge and rag to dust either.


    Honestly, I didn't even think to ask the curiator for further information, and let them know I'm a writer.

    I will have to do that for sure from here on out.

    Thanks so much


    Tina Pinson

  35. Thanks for the post on manners! It's so easy to forget about just whipping out the camera.

    Recently, I went on a research trip and took my mother along. It was off-season and the lady at the 200+ year old home took us on a private tour, but got really agitated because my mother kept wandering off.

    Mama wasn't that interested in listening to all the history, and she wanted to "reach out and touch".

    A lot.

  36. Thank you, Judy, for the advice on etiquette when doing research. I've talked to curators at museums and received a great deal of additional info from them. Also, during and after many tours the guide is more than willing to spend more time. Most of them are passionate about the site, its history, etc. and eager to respond to questions.

  37. Hi Judy,
    Thanks for writing about a very important subject. I'm usually a bit hesitant to ask advice from the experts. When I do gather my courage and contact them, they are always interested in helping. Most of them want to ensure the author gets it right! And, as you mentioned, a thank-you note lets them know how much I appreciated their efforts.

    The Amana Colony and your books sound fascinating!

  38. Hi Myra--those materials you gather while visiting make absolutely wonderful resources! Sometimes I hide them too well and never find them again. LOL.

    Hi Barb, Great to hear from another Kansan. I know where Enterprise is located. My husband and I lived in Junction City for many years--he retired at Fort Riley and then worked at the post hospital for a number of years. :) And although A Bond Never Broken is the third in a series, it is an independent series so each book stands alone. They're all set in the Amana Colonies, but each one is in a different village and during a little different time period. So, you're safe to read them in any order.

    Hi Shannon, You are absolutely correct about research being a necessity for all writing. There are so many things we need to learn and verify for every story--both contemporary and historical.

    Tina--I can tell you're a fun lovin' gal. And if I catch you doing any spitting in any of those museums, you'll be in BIG trouble. :)

  39. Another museum tip:
    If it looks like a 'secret' door hidden in the wall.
    It probably IS one.
    And if you try to open it some sort of alarm WILL go off!!
    Asking first might have been a good idea. Sigh.

  40. Lovely advice, Judith. And thank you for being a guest in Seekerville. You are so spot on. Those contacts are great for future PR opps and they will buy your books and tell everyone they know you THE FAMOUS AUTHOR.

    I do this with the hogs at the Littleton Living Historical Museum. They love to see me coming. Several have actually attempted to eat my book. The highest of compliments.

  41. LOL, Pam. You may need to get one of those harnesses for your Mama if she's not going to behave in the museum!

    Pepper--That's an excellent museum tip. Hope that alarm didn't get you in too much trouble. :)

    Tina--I haven't had to visit any hog farms, but sheep are going to be high on my list in the near future. Hope they won't eat my books!

    I must say you ladies are wonderful about making an author feel welcome. I'm enjoying your comments.

  42. Judith,
    The Brits just waved it off as me being an 'annoying American'.
    My poor hubby turned carmine, he was so embarrassed.

  43. I would love to be entered for this book!! Have read some of your books and loved them all! I am anxiously awaiting your series (with TP) The Bridal Veil series on the GA coast...since I live in GA!

  44. Hello sweet Judy!! SO fun to see you here at Seekerville, and your post was great! ~ In honor of your visit today I'm sharing my Georgia Pecan Praline coffee cake *smile*.
    Hugs, Patti Jo
    * * P.S. If anyone reading this hasn't read any of Judy's books, she's an EXCELLENT writer and her stories are wonderful!!! :)

  45. Wow!Sounds like a great book! I was instantly drawn into it by just that snippet you posted.
    Keep writing!

  46. Thanks, Jackie. Tracie and I will keep you posted on that next series. We had a great time visiting Georgia. :)

    Hi Patti Jo! So good to see you here at Seekerville and thank you for your sweet words of praise. :)

  47. Judith! What great advice! And the book excerpt? Wow! Now I want to read the whole series. Please add my name to the hat. I'd love to read the rest of this story. And I am NOT a fan of 1st person POV. But, this was really enjoyable. Thank you! My email is:
    lr dot mullin at live dot com


  48. What good solid advice. Please count me in.


  49. Great post. I've heard things about the Amana Colonies before and I find it so interesting. Would love to read this book. Would love to be entered to win a copy and thank you so much for the chance.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.


  50. Terrific advice, and spot-on! I work as an archivist, and your post was one of the most succinct "how-to's" I've seen.

    You're correct that if we have a "heads-up" that you are visiting, it helps us plan for your visit, no only to pull materials that will be helpful to you (and therefore save you valuable research time) but also to block off some time to learn more about your research and writing. Trust me - if you're excited to have found materials that will help your research, we are doubly-so that you are using our materials!

    Here's a couple of other suggestions to keep in mind, too. First, if you do find something that you would like to use, we can often provide a copy or scan and work with you to use it in the book or the cover or as part of your promotion for the book! There (most likely) will be some cost, but as much as possible, we try to keep it low. If you offer a mention or credit to the institution as part of that use, we're even happier! Recently, for example, one author was using a nearby location as one of the settings, and we were able to provide pictures from the period being written about to help with details. Those pictures became part of the book and the promotional materials!

    Second, be sure to ask if the institution would be interested in buying a copy of your book when it comes out! Sure, we'd love a free copy, but we're also likely to have the ability to purchase it to become part of our research collections. Our facility purchases books that relate to our collection areas/topics, and we use them to help promote our collections to other researchers (and thereby promoting your use of the materials in your book) and also by using them in exhibits and such (your book + the research materials you were using, etc.). We've also hosted special events and book-signings as part of our public outreach programming. It's a wonderful cross-promotional opportunity for both parties!

    A pleasant conversation with an archivist or librarian in your area of interest might lead you somewhere unexpected! After all, you are both passionate about research/history and books!

    Thanks again for a great post!