Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Remember When . . . Slugs Were New and a Storm Rolled Through?

You know to watch out when my blog titles rhyme... ;-) It's time for a day in the life of a historical novelist.

Marietta. She could totally
have slugged him.
I started my Tuesday morning at 5 a.m. in the middle of a conversation between my hero and heroine. Marietta, heroine, had just been in an argument with the baddy, Dev. Slade, hero, says, "You should have slugged him. I'd have paid good money to see that."

Insert Roseanna pausing. Was slug a word in 1865? Hmm... yep! But barely. First documented use is 1862. So while Slade, the rough-and-tumble former gambler, would definitely know it, I had my doubts that society belle Marietta would.

So Marietta gets to blink and ask, "Slug?"

"Yeah, you know." Slade is now miming socking-it to Dev in the jaw. Says blogging-Roseanna. Novelist-Roseanna didn't use those exact words. Novelist-Roseanna used "uppercut." And then had to look up "uppercut." (You see why some days I can't get those words on the page? LOL)

By Jem Ward, 1860
Well, phew. "Uppercut" was a word. Very specific to boxing. Boxing...hmm...was boxing popular in the U.S. at the time? Hello, Google!

I ended up at I've been there before. I love that site, LOL. The post on boxing was witty and informative, and I came away with exactly what I needed to know. Yes, boxing had migrated from Britain to the Americas in the 1830s. Yes, it was quite popular in the states at the time, in certain circles. And in fact, they had just developed the first boxing gloves a year or two before...

Sweet. So, uppercut. But not in the miming line. I move it down. Marietta asks, "So a slug is an uppercut?"

Detective Slade is taken aback. Gasp! "You know what an uppercut is?"

Oh...right. How would she? Aha! She has brothers! "Isaac boxes."

Colin, you make a darn good Slade. Just sayin'.
Isaac doesn't much like Slade. So Slade is happy for the warning. ;-) And now (remember those gloves?) Slade is looking Marietta up and down. Wink, wink. "Did he teach you? Because I can totally see you in a pair of those newfangled boxing gloves, some trousers..."

Let it be noted that men then, as men now, wore no shirts when boxing. Ahem. Marietta tells him he had better stop his imagination there. ;-)

So my characters are happy for a laugh before they head outside, into the next intense conversation of "Please, please don't put yourself in danger! I beg it of you! P-p-p-leeeeeeeeeeaaaaase. Boo hoo hoo." (No exaggeration. Okay, slight exaggeration. Okay, total exaggeration.)

I managed to finish that scene in the course of the home school day, and was starting a new chapter when 1:00 rolled around--when my daughter had a much-anticipated play date. After dropping her off, I headed to a nearby restaurant for some lunch and laptop time, and, having no wi-fi, opened up one of my research books too.

Now, I've been reading through this book but hadn't quite made it to the time period I need, so I jumped ahead to the 1865 heading. War...yep. Lee's forces with their backs against the proverbial wall...yep, knew that. A Confederate released on parole and told to stay north of Philadelphia...who is a month later arrested in D.C. in connection with the Lincoln Assassination. Interesting. Do I know the name? Yep. He's in my notes, but I hadn't realized he had JUST arrived in the city on parole. Very interesting. Noted.

Then I got to a rather random paragraph. See, the rest of the book is all directly related to the war. Every mention of a nice historical tidbit is tied in--explanation of train station, tied in to arrival of troops. That sort of thing. But there, gleaming and beautiful (okay, maybe Roseanna shouldn't have a third...and fourth cup of coffee at 2 in the afternoon...) is a random paragraph about a storm. No effect on the war. No effect mentioned on any of the key players in Baltimore. Just there. Which I get. Because I'm a writer, and it's oh-so-awesome to include this stuff.

A storm. Of "biblical proportions." It took off roofs. It uprooted fences. It did tons and tons of damage and killed several Baltimore citizens. Yikes. Tornado? It doesn't say, but it's quite likely for that time of year. And it's...ah, March 23. And I'm on...yes! March 21! I can totally work my next scene around that (mwa ha ha ha). Moreover, that gives me a clue about the weather. See, this is my area. I know how these storms work. If you get a doozy of one on the 23rd, it's going to be getting warm on the 21st. Darn warm. The 23rd would be hot. Unseasonably, stiflingly hot.

Just a tidbit. Nothing anyone would likely notice if I left out. But oh! How fun to know it and include it!! (And I'll totally tie it in...and am so grateful the non-fic authors included even without tying it in.)

I left the restaurant with only 2K words written for the day, but with a smile on my face. It was a good day. I learned about boxing. I found a storm. And I'd worked out my next few scenes, which will lead me straight to the climax.

Yep. It's pretty fun to be a writer. Though I think four cups of coffee--and a large soda, did I mention that?--*might* be too many...


  1. How fascinating. I love when you write posts like this.

  2. I love the pictures/actors your chose for your characters. They are great!

  3. This post was so much fun to read! I love it when I chase an idea and discover a new thread of fact to weave into my fiction. Last year I was searching and reading 1807 and 1808 copies of "The London Gazette" (thankfully all online now!) for news about the abolition of the slave trade and the war with France. It was so much fun inserting what I learned into my book: a description of a battle between three real ships and the exact date when debutantes were presented at court, for example, as well as the fact that the commanding officer of the regiment to which I imagined my hero belonged was promoted. I don't suppose that any of my readers notice those things. I love knowing they're there anyway!