March Round Robin: Research

Book shelfThis month we are discussing research as our Round Robin topic. When you’ve finished my post, please check out the other members listed at the bottom.

CowgirlDreams Front CoverBefore 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.

Dream Cover FinalI 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.

Dare Cover FinalAs 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
Beverley Bateman
Skye Taylor
Rachael Kosnski
Marci Baun
Anne Stenhouse
Helena Fairfax
Connie Vines
Kay Sisk
Fiona McGier
A.J. Maguire
Judith Copek
Lynn Crain
Rhobin Courtright

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. How wonderful to have your grandmother for writing inspiration! Especially since she left such a large printed/written trail to follow. She must have known she would inspire you.

  2. Heidi, your post really resonated with me, because it sounded so similar to how I researched my last novel about life in 1928 Southern California. Wasn’t the scrapbook you found just the best? And the old homestead? It must have been emotional for you as well as informative. Cowgirl Dream sounds like something I would like to read. There was a trick rider in our little town in Northeastern Colorado. Great post!

  3. How wonderful to have your grandmother’s writing and to visit the old homestead for research. Have you done any genealogical research?


  4. I don’t have anything quite as old as what your grandmother left to you. My late father used to email me, answering questions I’d pose ti him, under the guise of just “chatting”. Instead, I printed all of them, and told him before he passed on, that I was going to save them. He typed his words as he pronounced them, with a strong Scottish burr. So someday when my kids ask me, “What did grandpa sound like again?” I’ll pull out the folder and tell them to read it aloud, exactly as it’s written. That’s what he sounded like.

    And how cool is it, that you have actual family information to use as research for your books. What a find!

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