In between getting “Holly Green Murder” published and preparing to move my mailing list to a different list service, I’ve been researching both romance novels and the history of southern Arizona during the cowboy era. My plan is to start writing the prequel to my historical western romance series on January 1st.
I love doing research, so this part is fun. But I have to be very careful not to get sucked too far down into that particular rabbit hole.
A while back, I wrote about reading “Arizona, a Cavalcade of History” as part of this research. Back in September, I wrote:
There was only one thing I found problematic. Most of the chapters are organized by topic: the native people, the Catholic missionaries, mining, cowboys, railroads, etc. I noticed where people and events in different chapters overlapped those in other chapters, but there’s no timeline that includes all of them. I would have liked an easy reference so I could tell if the discovery of gold and the mining boom occurred at the same time the railroads arrived, earlier, or later, as one example. I’ll have to create that for myself in the future.
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working on that timeline. I finished it up this morning. Now, I’ll probably add to it as I read other resources, but for now, it includes the information from Marshall Trimble’s book and a timeline I found at the Empire Ranch Foundation website. This is what it looks like so far:
It’s already made the history clearer in my brain. It’s also raised some questions that I’ll have to answer before getting too deep into the new series. But I’m hoping this will prevent making errors like having a character take the train to Tucson before any railroad existed there.
I’ve also started a new story bible in Scrivener to store some of my research and start brainstorming story ideas. This is always a slow process for me as a tiny seed of an idea comes to me and is gradually fed by raindrops of other ideas until it grows big enough to become a story.
I’m getting close to knowing what that story is, the origin story of a ranch family, starting with the patriarch who started the cattle ranch to begin with. I know he and his wife will have three sons, whose stories will form the three books in this series. No one has a name yet, much less a story, but I’m sure those will come to me in time.
I’m looking forward to starting the writing.