Those Wonderful Nerdy Girls

I often come steaming home from a long day in court, still railing at the sheer buffoonery of opposing counsel (never my own buffoonery, of course) hours after the bailiff has given the last, “All rise!” I’m buffing my closing arguments yet again, honing cross examinations long completed, and generally making that mental hamster wheel whiz around at warp speed while going exactly nowhere.

This is not good. It is not healthy or wise, but I do not own a TV nor do I subscribe to a newspaper, so how, I ask you, am I to unplug from the day job?

I have a few secret weapons, one in particular has been of much comfort lately. Loretta Chase is one of my all time, desert island, no-lend keeper authors. “Not Quite A Lady” is on that list of books I wish I’d written, and oh, I could gush about her work.

Instead I will gush about her blog, or the blog she shares with historical author Susan Holloway Scott, Two Nerdy History Girls. At frequent intervals, the authors post tidbits on history, or from history. Go browse, and you’ll see a diversity of topics, some frivolous, some fashionable, but each one tweaking the curiosity of any self-respecting historical fiction writer.

Below the posts is a list of blogs the authors follow, and here is another treasure trove. As I read about Hortense Mancini (Hoydens and Firebrands), or 18th Century Stays, that courtroom becomes a distant memory. The cases I lugged home with me slip away, and the Christmas trees that Prince Albert had hung from the ceiling of Windsor Castle begin to dance in my head.

I am an “organic” writer, that is, I don’t work from a detailed outline, I write my books scene by scene in a process of discovery, from which a draft emerges. This is scary business because What If I Can’t Think of Anything Interesting? Though I have thirty completed manuscripts to my name, that fear is as real to me as the court cases I deal with every day.

The benefit of spending time on sites like Two Nerdy History Girls is that not only does the material there help me dis-engage from a world of litigation and family law, it also helps fertilize my creative process, so that when I get up in the morning—before I go back to the office—I’ll have some bright ideas that might germinate into worthy books, or at least worthy, vivid details in the scenes of my books.

And then, when I’ve nibbled and noshed on inspiration and education such as to be found on sites likes this, I can spend the shank of evening reading good novels, or—when I’m particularly desperate for inspiration—well written works of historical reference.

Now you know how I spend my weekday evenings, how I change gears, and even a little bit about where I get my ideas (like for this week’s Word Corner).

What are some of the ways you enrich your life when the telly’s turned off?

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8 comments on “Those Wonderful Nerdy Girls

  1. I keep the television off (have since forever, it seems) and I read (everything but newspapers) and I knit, and I walk the dog, and sometimes I listen to a book (usually one I’ve read before)while I knit. Sometimes I hang out on the computer, too, reading blogs and recipe sites. I love Loretta Chase’s novels, and her blog. Another I would recommend is Deborah Harkness, both blog and facebook page, as another source of great history information. (Also an author with a no-lend, desert island, keeper book — A Discovery of Witches.)

  2. Polly, thanks for the tip regarding Deborah Harkness, and “A Discovery of Witches.” The title has the same feel as a business of ferrets, a murder of crows, or a charm of finches. I like it!

    • The title caught my eye for the same reason, when I saw it on a list of recommended books. Then I saw it again at the library, read it, and promptly went out and bought two copies, one to own and one to lend.

      • I would also add that I have all of your books, two (The Heir, and The Soldier) in both Kindle and paper copies, and I am patiently waiting for May 1, 2012 and Lady Maggie.

  3. I don’t own a TV either and cannot begin to express how nice it is to hear another woman who doesn’t. I love the Heir, and by the end of the Soldier you became this year’s gushed-about author (along with Kaki Warner). Also amazed anyone has the energy to write two lengthy, intricate books a year and practice law. Kudos on multiple levels Ma’am!

    • Larisa, I was told Eloisa James was raised without TV, and I do adore her books. I’m flattered to be gushed about, and consider Devlin St. Just the Windham brother I’d marry, if I had to choose.

      I didn’t start writing until Beloved Offspring left the next about six years ago, and the books geysered onto the screen thereafter. There is much polishing to be done, of course, but I do have a backlog of rough drafts, and that’s a good feeling.

  4. I just love Loretta Chase. Of course, Lord of Scoundrels is my favorite. I have three copies of it, just in case. I also have two copies of each of yours, the Heir winning out with three. This seems ludicrous to the DH. I am delighted to have another great blog to follow and will check LC’s out soon. If the weather is accomodating, that is somewhere between 60 and 85 and not a downpour, I will sit outside by the bayou until dark, watching the light change the reflections on the water from impressionistic to mirror clear. If I was wealthy I’d probably find a spot just like that in Scotland and absorb for the rest of my life. Oh, the peace. How’s that for lazy!