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Let’s Talk Research: Illuminated Manuscripts

Let’s Talk Research: Illuminated Manuscripts

When I first began writing my YA fantasy novel, Illuminate, all I knew about the story was that it needed to include illuminated manuscripts. The problem: I only had a scattering of knowledge about illumination.

In this entry, the first of a series about my research adventures, I’m going to talk about the places I went, the books I read, and some of the weird things I learned. Hopefully this will be entertaining and educational–and perhaps help another young writer on their way!

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Research Trips: The Places I Went

Living in England during my master’s opened a lot of opportunities…Continue Reading

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How to Become an Expert (for Writers)

How to Become an Expert (for Writers)

How to Become an Expert (for Writers)Good writers are experts in many things – most of them eccentric, odd, and (let’s admit it) kind of awesome. One of my writer friends is an expert on life aboard ships. Another knows a bizarre amount about animal biology and physics.

As writers, we normally gravitate toward subjects we’re interested in. When I started Illuminate, I knew I wanted it to include illuminated manuscripts because I love looking at old books. Though I had some basic knowledge from my medieval literature classes and from exhibits in museums, I…Continue Reading

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How To Create an Awesome Research Archive

How To Create an Awesome Research Archive

How To Create an Awesome Research ArchiveAs a writer, I collect so much information I often find myself dreaming of an organized library archive. I’m constantly processing nuggets for my current projects – which can include anything from body disposal in 14th century Venetian quarantines to the household traditions of Afghan families to the most popular aiming techniques in Mongolian archery – while also on a constant stream of pirates, economics, star lore, and whatever other thing I’ve recently read about.

What I’m trying to say is, there’s a lot in my head.

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Photography: Stars and Ships

Photography: Stars and Ships

Yesterday, my sister and I went on a research trip to the Mariner’s Museum in southern VA. It was awesome, and very informative.

We brought along my sister’s superior SLR and tripod, and spent a very long time in the model room taking pictures of the Crabtree Miniature Ships exhibit. Here’s some info from the website:

The jewel of The Mariners’ Museum’s collection are The Miniature Ships of August F. and Winnifred Crabtree. From a primitive raft to a Venetian galleass decorated with 359 carved figures, the evolution of boatbuilding is depicted in an unparalleled display of craftsmanship by artist/carver August F. Crabtree. With help from his wife, Winnifred, Crabtree created this extraordinary miniature fleet. This popular exhibit…Continue Reading

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3 Tips for Designing a Flag

3 Tips for Designing a Flag

Tips for Designing a FlagWhen you dive into worldbuilding, it’s easy to get caught up in the whirl of landscape and custom and fashion. But don’t forget to build details like your, country’s flag’s colors or design!

Designing a flag can help you discover something new about your country’s history and myths. Just have a look at some of our real-life flags and all the history, stereotypes, and attitudes associated with them. (The Union Jack and the imperialism ingrained in its very design. The American flag, the very image of which seems to conjure eagles and liberty (or rednecks). Canada’s red…Continue Reading

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Describing Fashion

Describing Fashion

Writing Tips: Describing FashionClothes can be fun to describe, particularly if your setting is the 1700’s Venice, Medieval France, or Regency England. But when handled poorly, fashion descriptions can feel awkward, slow down a scene, or come across as an infodump. Though I am a bit indifferent to fashion in real life, I love researching costumes and making style guides for my characters. Sometimes I go to museums and pick out which suits suit (haha see what I did there???) my male character, as if I’m at a mall and am going to walk out with it for him.

But…Continue Reading

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Illuminate Venice: Day 1

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Last term, I’d started thinking about going to Venice on a research trip for my WIP, Illuminate. The objective: Go and linger and absorb atmosphere and take notes and write.

When I found a nice hotel for super cheap the week before Carnival, my friend and classmate Annie jumped on the bandwagon with me. And we had many an adventure on our five day stay in Venice, Italy!

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