Research Rabbit Trails

Research rabbit trailDon’t you love research rabbit trails?

I’m in the middle of writing this year’s Christmas novella, The Yuletide Bride, part of Barbour’s The Twelve Brides of Christmas.

Google has allowed me back into their research tool (after banning me for a couple days when I finished writing my World War I novel–overuse. Joke!), and I’ve been verifying facts.

But sometimes, okay almost always, I stumble on other interesting facts or stories. They catch me by surprise and I want to share them too, even though there’s no room in my story.

What’s a writer to do?

Post them on Facebook! You can view my writer page here.

This week I found two very different items I’d like to share before I get back to work.

The Yuletide Bride takes place circa 1873 Nebraska. Remembering events from Laura Ingalls Wilder‘s On the Banks of Plum Creek, I wanted to find out if the grasshoppers plagued Nebraska.

They did.

In 1874.

I found photos and drawings:

Research rabbit trails: grasshoppers

From Kansas Historical Foundation, created by Henry Worrall

Drawn during the time of the invasion, Worrall’s work expresses well the revulsion farmers felt when grasshoppers first ate all their crops (including the wool off the sheep!) and then dug their eggs into the soil leaving the land vulnerable for another cycle of devastation.

The actual creature was the Rocky Mountain Locust, and they returned in the 1930s, as well. Locust invasions still happen. Youtube had a video on one in the Congo. Watch if you dare, here.

What does this have to do with The Yuletide Bride?

Absolutely nothing. It’s just something I’d read and thought interesting.

A research rabbit trail.

Eventually I discovered what I really wanted to know–land policies in 1873 Nebraska–and returned to writing my novella.

But first, I stopped off at Pinterest to look at photos of the Nebraska landscape, particularly along rivers and streams–which is pertinent to my story.

I got distracted there, however, by photos of the Russian Romanov family, which I’ve read about since I wrote an award-winning story based on their horror in high school. I’d not seen a lot of those photo before and wasted far too much time examining them. (All you other fans can admire them here.)

One Pinterest board turned up a delightful smiling photo of Queen Victoria . Unfortunately, copyright won’t let me show it to you. Look at this Pinterest link.

Here’s another photo, however, that Wikipedia allows:

Research rabbit trails: English: Queen Victoria and Princess Beatrice

Queen Victoria I and Princess Beatrice


What I was struck by on the Pinterest photo, was how much Queen Victoria’s great-grandaughter, Queen Elizabeth II, looked like her. I’m not sure you can see it in this next photo of the current queen:Research Rabbit trails: Elizabeth II greets NASA GSFC employees, May 8, 2007 edit

Anyway, you can see I had fun examining photos.

What did this have to do with my current project?

Almost nothing. The British royal family has no role in my story at all–except in regards to the bagpipes.


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