Before I began writing my novels based on my rodeo-cowgirl grandmother, I made a trip to Montana. I found the old homestead house my grandparents lived in when they were first married, I visited museums, libraries, and newspaper archives, and gathered anecdotes from family members and friends.
Grandma had left a scrapbook filled with ranch and rodeo-related clippings, pictures, etc., and she had written a couple of short pieces: one about all the horses she’d owned and one a short-story about moving to Montana from Idaho as a child and then meeting her future cowboy husband.
I also had a couple of journals she had written from the 1940s. While these did not play into my novels, they were fascinating and I got a taste for her spare notations (6 eggs today, weather 78 and sunny, etc.) which I tried to emulate in the journal entries Nettie writes in Follow the Dream.
And, of course I read all the books written about rodeo cowgirls I could find.
As I wrote I ran into questions that I would then search the internet or try to find experts in the field to provide answers. For example I wanted authentic details for railroad travel in the 1940s for Nettie’s trip to Madison Square Garden in New York for Dare to Dream.
So, the majority of my research was done before I began writing, but I also did more as I went along. Each project is different.
Please check out how my fellow “Rounders” do their research:
Margaret Fieland http://www.margaretfieland.com/blog1/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/
Rachael Kosnski http://rachaelkosinki.weebly.com
Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/
Anne Stenhouse http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Helena Fairfax http://helenafairfax.com/
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Kay Sisk http://kaysisk.blogspot.com
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
A.J. Maguire http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Lynn Crain http://www.awriterinvienna.blogspot.com
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/