Readers often ask, “How do you find the ideas for your stories?” or “Are the people and events in your stories true?” For the answers to these questions and many more . . . join me for a look at how I do my research.

I’ve always enjoyed history and traveling, so doing research for my English historical novels is a lot of fun for me. I can easily get lost in a stack of books when I am plotting out a new story. I usually find the characters and the issues they face by doing my research. That’s a very important key to bringing the story to life.

I begin by looking at the big picture to get general background information about that time period and location, then I focus in on the exact time, place, and social circles of my main characters. This is where I do my detailed research. I want to get to know my characters’ corner of the world so well that I can move around there in my imagination. I can picture my character walking down a street or sitting at a table and know exactly what the character would see, hear, feel, and smell. I want to research until the historical part of my novel becomes almost second nature and I can focus on the story.

My novel, The Legacy of Longdale Manor, is the first dual-time novel I’ve written. It was a fun challenge to learn how to weave together an historical plot and contemporary plot in a meaningful way.  

England’s Lake District is a region known for its breathtaking natural beauty, and it has become a haven for nature lovers, adventure seekers, and those looking for peaceful getaway. I loved visiting a few years ago and fell in love with the shimmering lakes, green valleys dotted with sheep, and steep rugged mountains. I knew it would be the perfect setting for The Legacy of Longdale Manor!

I read some wonderful books to give me background information about the Lake District, Shepherding, Beatrix Potter, and English village life including, A Fine Romance – Falling in Love with the English Countryside by Susan Branch, Beatrix Potter – Her Art and Inspiration by the National Trust,  At Home with Beatrix Potter by Susan Denyer, A Year in the Life of the Yorkshire Shepherdess by Amanda Owen, and The Shepherd’s Life by James Redbanks.  Pinterest and Google were also a great help to see images of the areas where the story is set and learn more about art and antique appraisal and auctions. You can see images of the characters and setting on my Pinterest Board for The Legacy of Longdale Manor at this link,

I’ve traveled to England three times to research my novels set there. My husband Scott traveled with me on two of those trips. We had an amazing time when we visited the Oxford area, including Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey was filmed, The Cotswolds, and the Peak District. That was a great foundation for writing The Edwardian Brides Series. On our latest trip we spent the week in London seeing the sights there connected with my next book, A Token of Love.

My friend and fellow author, Cathy Gohlke, traveled with me on the second research trip. We visited Tyntesfield near Bristol, which is the inspiration for the setting of Highland Hall, and the beautiful Lake District, where The Legacy of Longdale Manor is set. I hope to travel to Northumberland where Shine Like the Dawn is set and also Kent where Across the Blue is set. No Ocean Too Wide and No Journey Too Far take place in London, Liverpool, and Ontario, Canada. I’ve visited those places in the past, but I’d love to go again. Cathy and I both dream of returning to the Lake District where her novel, Until We Find Home, is set, and where we hope to find more stories and adventure!

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