Software for the Historical Novelist, and Little Birds

I don’t know how I missed this, but now that I’ve found  Aeon Timeline 2, I have to share the good news.

Because I write historical fiction I’m always juggling fictional characters and events with what really happened.  I have spent hundreds of hours mapping out battles in order to wind my plot lines in and out and around. The battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812 was a major challenge, and it was, in relative terms, straight-forward. 

With this timeline software I can have fictional and non-fictional events displayed in ways that help me visualize connections and overlaps (and more important: errors), and I can color code everything so I can tell the difference right away. 

Characters are set up one by one and can be assigned to storylines, and that’s just the tip of this iceberg. 

Unfortunately the people at Aeon have put up screenshots that are too dark to really appreciate, but here’s one of them. 

click for full size

The first thing I did was change the color scheme to dark on light.

I would show you a sample of my own timeline, but that would mean giving away information about the next novel (tentatively titled Little Birds) and that would be really dopey of me at this early stage.  She said slyly. 

Streamlining

This weblog first got going in 2003. For many years I posted at least once a day, usually on writing and craft themes, but I also reviewed novels and movies and did some autobiographical writing. Traffic here was lively for quite a long time.

Maybe five years ago now I started to slow down, in an effort to cut back on my wondrous collection of procrastination techniques. Now I rarely post here. If there’s news about a reading or new publication, I put that up on FaceBook, where I have two focal points: my own page, under Rosina Lippi, where I post about my personal life and politics, and the Sara Donati page, which is mostly about my work, the novels, writing advice.  On the Sara page I try to avoid the political, and mostly succeed. There is also the website for the Gilded Hour and its sequel. That’s where I am trying to collect all the research and bits and pieces that go into the novels set in Manhattan in the 1880s. 

Because this weblog is so old, it is cranky. There are lots of small problems and bigger problems that can’t really be fixed because it’s arthritic. After some thought, I’ve decided not to close it, but to streamline. What I hope to achieve is a collection of posts written between 2003 and now that people have found useful or interesting or funny.  I will keep any post that deals with writing and craft questions for writing fiction, and I will keep the memoir series. But otherwise, a lot of slashing and burning will be going on. 

This will take me a while to pull off, but before I get started I wanted to give my constant readers a chance to voice their thoughts and opinions. Some of you have really been here since 2003, and if there’s something you’d like to see me keep, I’d like to hear about that. 

Once I get started I will take down the weblog while I hack away at it, but I will keep all y’all updated via the Sara page on FaceBook

One of the problems I hope to fix by doing this has to do with commenting. You may be able to comment on this post, or gremlins may thwart you. I will cross post this to the Sara Donati page on FaceBook, where you are also free to make your opinions heard. If you have any, of course. 

Not quite an excerpt: Where the Light Enters

Over the coming months I will be posting bits and pieces about Where the Light Enters to help tide you over until publication.  This first time I’ve got a piece of my research to share. These real estate/rental ads are from the New York Times in 1884. The two outlined in yellow are relevant to the story. 

And they are, in my view of things, just plain interesting. The rental market has sure changed. 

click for larger size

Did I mention…

that I finished Where the Light Enters?  It will be 2019 before it hits the shelves, I’m sorry to say. But I did deliver it to my editor.