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Why I Love the Internet #research #birthstones #history by @LyndiLamont

July 16, 2018 by in category The Romance Journey by Linda Mclaughlin tagged as , , , , , ,

I’ve been doing research on birthstone history and the 7th Cavalry for a new book, and I’m reminded again of how much I love the Internet.

When I started writing, the Internet was just barely starting, so I had to rely on print sources. The research for my first historical romance, Rogue’s Hostage, took a long time. Some questions I had weren’t answered until my husband and I made a trip to Quebec City in Canada! (Plus it’s always fun to see the places you’re writing about. Any excuse for a chance to travel.)

In any case, the Internet is now chock full of wonderful information for writers to access in minutes or hours, rather than days or weeks. Ah, ye old inter-library loan.

Anyway, I had decided I needed a valuable piece of jewelry for the new plot and thought it would be cool to connect it to a character’s birthstone. But how old was the concept of birthstones?

Quite old, as it turns out. Apparently the concept of assigning gems to categories goes back to the Old Testament when Aaron’s breastplate had 12 gems on it, each representing one of the tribes of Israel. In the Middle Ages, Jewish jewelers transferred the gems to the signs of the Zodiac and introduced them to Europe. It wasn’t long before the gems became associated with months of the year rather than the pagan astrological signs. You can read more about birthstone history here.

But are the birthstones still the same today? Not exactly. Here’s a graphic of the modern birthstone system, though there are now subsidiary gems assigned to the months as well. The “modern” list dates to 1912.

Birthstone Chart

Birthstone Chart from Depositphotos_77526296_m-2015

Again, thanks to our wonderful World Wide Web, I was able to easily locate a Gregorian Birthstone poem that was published by Tiffany and Co. in 1870, perfect for my 1893-set Western historical romance. Most are the same, but not all. March, June, August and December vary.

golden vintage brooch with emeralds

golden vintage brooch with emeralds isolated on white, Deposit Photos Image ID: 194305906
Copyright: vi0222

But which gemstone to choose? Which was the most valuable at the time?

According to an article written in 1949 that some lovely person digitized and uploaded the Internet, I learned that “from 1872 to the present day (1949) the emerald has been the most expensive stone.”

Here’s the verse for the month of May:

Who first beholds the light of day
In spring’s sweet flowery month of May
And wears an emerald all her life
Shall be a loved and happy wife.

Great, but what kind of jewelry?

I talked to my neighbor, whose father was a jeweler, and she suggested a brooch. They’re not very popular now, but were in the 19th century. I found this photo of a vintage brooch at Deposit Photos and I think it will be perfect for my book, since it has not one but two large emeralds.

Would someone kill for that? Maybe, if he were desperate enough.

What are you researching?


Linda McLaughlin / Lyndi Lamont

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Source Books for Historical Writers: A Partial List by @LyndiLamont #research

June 16, 2018 by in category Writing

Source Books for Historical Writers: A Partial List

Compiled by
Linda McLaughlin

Book Kitten

Note: This post is excerpted from my website at

Several years ago, I did a talk on writing and researching historical romance, and as part of the handouts, I included a bibliography of sources. I call it a partial list because there are many, many sources available, depending on your setting and time period. These are a few of the ones I’ve found useful.

Central and Eastern European Wildlife book coverCentral and Eastern European Wildlife, Gerard Gorman, Bradt Travel Guide, 2008. Available on as paperback & recommended by Janet Cornelow.

A Dictionary of First Names, Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges, 2nd ed., Oxford Paperback Reference, Oxford University Press, 2006. (Out of print)

Dover Books on Costume, Dover Publications – a series of books about costumes of different eras. Also paper dolls with costumes and descriptions. Various dates and authors. Available at

Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things by Charles Panati, Harper Collins, 2013. Available in paperback and Kindle editions.

Homes of Family Names in Great Britain by Henry Brougham Guppy, London, Harrison and Sons, 1890. Free e-book available from Google Books.

How to Write and Sell Historical Fiction by Persia Woolley, Writers Digest Books, 1997. An excellent guide, now apparently out of print but available used.

Medieval Underpants and Other Blunders: A Writer’s (& Editor’s) Guide to Keeping Historical Fiction Free of Common Anachronisms, Errors, & Myths, by Susanne Alleyn, Second Edition, Spyderwort Press, 2013, e-book.

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition, Merriam-Webster, 2003. Or any older edition. (The 2016 edition seems to have eliminated most of the dates.) 11th ed. gives dates of when words entered the English language. The only thing better is The Oxford English Dictionary, if you can afford it and have somewhere to store the multiple volumes. But that you can find at the library.

The Mirror of the Graces by A Lady of Distinction, first published in 1811. I have a paperback copy, but it’s available in e-book format format.

The New American Dictionary of Baby Names, Leslie Dunkling and William Gosling, Signet, 1985, 1991. Better than the average baby name book because it gives some historical context for names. (Out of print.)

North American Wildlife: An Illustrated Guide to 2,000 Plants and Animals, Reader’s Digest, 1982. Available in paperback.

The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names by E. G. Withycombe, Third Edition, Oxford University Press, 1977, now out of print. (First edition 1945)

The Penguin Dictionary of Historical Slang
by Eric Partridge, Penguin Book, 1972. Now out of print except for a ridiculously over-priced e-book version. Buy used.

The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Second Edition Unabridged, 1987. Out of print, but probably available at the local library.

Slang and Euphemism, Richard A. Spears, 3rd revised ed., Signet, 2001. Useful addition, esp. for writers of historical erotica. (Out of print)

The Old West series, Time-Life, out of print but can be found in libraries and some used bookstores.

Victorian House Explained coverThe Victorian House Explained, Trevor York, Countryside Books, 2005. Part of the England’s Living History series which includes houses of various eras, the Industrial Revolution, steam railways, canals, etc.

What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist-The Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth-Century England, Daniel Pool, Touchstone, 1994. Still available in paperback and Kindle editions.

What Life Was Like… series, Time-Life.

The Writer’s Digest Character Naming Source Book, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Writer’s Digest Books, 1994. Available used on

The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the Middle Ages: The British Isles From 500-1500 by Sherilyn Kenyon, Writers Digest Books First Edition 1995; e-book 2014.

In the 1990’s, Writer’s Digest published numerous titles on Everyday Life in various historical periods, all of which are now out of print but available as used books. I wish the other authors would make them available as e-books like Sherilyn Kenyon has done.

What are your favorite research books?


Linda McLaughlin



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Quilting 101 with @Suzanne_Johnson June @OCCRWA Online Class #plotting

May 29, 2018 by in category Online Classes tagged as , , , ,

OCC/RWA Online Class:

June 11 – July 6, 2018


Quilting 101 graphic

About the Class:

Do storyboards, sticky notes, spreadsheets and index cards give you hives? Does your manuscript wander in circles – yet you’re afraid a detailed outline will suck the heart and soul out of your writing?

All you need is a simple word-processing program to stitch together the perfect quilt of a plot to keep your novel on track and moving in the right direction – while still giving your muse room to play. We’ll use a step-by-step technique to plot a novel from start to finish, and give you a huge head-start on your first draft (and the dreaded synopsis).

This will be a working course! Bring your best idea (the one that’s been bubbling in your brain for six months) or a manuscript that’s wandering in the desert, and we’ll shape it up and get it moving. We’ll also be deconstructing one of my own novels as part of this class as well as using examples from a variety of books in different genres.

Suzanne Johnson

About the Instructor:

Suzanne Johnson is the author of more than twenty published works, including the award-winning Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series, of which book six, FRENCHMEN STREET, will be out on July 17. Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is author of the Amazon top-selling Penton Legacy paranormal romance series, as well as The Collectors and the Wilds of the Bayou, both romantic suspense series. A displaced New Orleanian, she currently lives in Auburn, Alabama. Suzanne loves SEC football, fried gator on a stick, New Orleans, all things Cajun, and (hangs head) reality TV. She writes full-time along with running her own developmental and copy-editing business and dabbling in mixed-media art.

For more information about Suzanne, please visit her website: Click on the “Newsletter” tab for updates, release news, sneak peeks and special giveaways:

Enrollment Information

This is a 4-week online course that uses email and The class is open to anyone wishing to participate. The cost is $30.00 per person or, if you are a member of OCCRWA, $20.00 per person.

For more information, check the class page at the OCC/RWA website:

Note: I took Suzanne’s class on Monster Revisions last year and can personally attest that she’s a wonderful teacher, and yes, the class was a working course.

Linda McLaughlin
OCC/RWA Online Class Coordinator

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Time Management Secrets for Authors, OCC/RWA Online Class with Stacy Juba

April 23, 2018 by in category Online Classes tagged as , , , , ,

Do you find yourself wishing there were more hours in the day? I know I do, which is why I’ll be signing up for the next OCC/RWA Online Class!

Time Management graphic

About the Class:

Do you wish there was more than 24 hours in the day? If it seems like there is never enough time to write, promote your published books, and/or prepare submissions to editors and agents and learn the ropes of the business side of writing, then this workshop is for you. Author and editor Stacy Juba experienced the longest writer’s block of her life after a family health crisis. She went on a mission to resurrect her creativity and find the time and energy to manage her writing career. Thanks to her new strategies, Stacy created a successful editing business and launched an exciting new chick lit series, and considers her herself more productive than ever.

Over the course of the month, participating writers will take important steps to advance their careers while also reducing the stress in their lives. Whether you’re struggling to overcome writer’s block, beef up your book promotion, or get your writing career launched, this class will arm you with the skills to get to the next level. Participants will receive assignments and suggested tasks in a friendly, interactive format so that by the end of the course, they will be in a much more organized state of being.

Stacy JubaAbout the Instructor:

Stacy Juba got engaged at Epcot Theme Park and spent part of her honeymoon at Disneyland Paris, where she ate a burger, went on fast rides, and threw up on the train ride to the hotel. In addition to working on her new Storybook Valley chick lit/sweet romance series, Stacy has written books about ice hockey, teen psychics, U.S. flag etiquette for kids, and determined women sleuths. She has had a novel ranked as #5 in the Nook Store and #30 on the Amazon Kindle Paid List. Stacy is also the founder of the Glass Slipper Sisters, a group of authors with Cinderella-themed romance novels. When she’s not visiting theme parks with her family, (avoiding rides that spin and exotic hamburgers) or writing about them, Stacy helps authors to strengthen their manuscripts through her Crossroads Editing Service and offers online workshops for writers.

Cost is $20.00 for OCC/RWA members and $30.00 for non-members. Sign up is a two-step process. Go to our website at and click on the link to join the Yahoo Group. Then pay your fee via PayPal. If you don’t have a PayPal account, you can pay with a credit card. Once our treasurer has verified your payment, you’re request to join the Yahoo Group will be approved.

Linda McLaughlin
OCC/RWA Online Class Coordinator

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Romancing the Holidays: OCC/RWA Online Class with Rebekah Ganiere

March 16, 2018 by in category Online Classes tagged as , , , , ,

Have you thought of writing a holiday romance?

If so, consider our April class with instructor Rebekah Ganiere.


Romancing the Holidays graphic


About the Class:

What is the hype with Holiday Romances? Have you ever wondered why so many people do Holiday Romances? Or why there are so many people that read them? Ever wondered what it takes to write a Holiday Romance? Or when to publish it? Or when Publishers even send out calls for them?

Well now you can. Join the thousands of writers who are publishing Holiday Romance short stories, novellas and novels and helping them to move their careers forward. Learn what you need to incorporate into your story. How to write a sci-fi, fantasy or paranormal holiday story and more and why this genre is year after year one of the best sellers and biggest money makers for authors!

About the Instructor:

Rebekah GaniereRebekah Ganiere is an Award Winning Bestselling Author and Screenwriter. Her debut novel Dead Awakenings, hit the bestseller list on release day. She has won several awards in both writing and screenwriting. Books in her popular fairytale retelling series Fairelle as well as her Wolf River Series have won several awards. Rebekah is a prolific author releasing upwards of five books a year and is currently working on six different series including in the Paranormal Dating Agency Kindle World. Rebekah’s screenplay No More Goodbyes was awarded Best Screenplay by the New Hope Film Festival as well as the Family in Film Festival and is currently in pre-production.

Rebekah was the 2017 President of the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal Chapter of RWA and is a member of several local and online chapters. In her spare time when she isn’t writing you can find her teaching on or at RWA. Rebekah is also known for her elaborate cosplays with her family and has been a guest speaker and panelist at San Diego Comic Con, Wondercon, Salt Lake Comic Con, Long Beach Comic Con, Comikaze, Fyrecon and several other Comic Cons on the west coast as well as LTUE, Romantic Times Convention, RWA, InD’Scribe, Genre LA and Authors After Dark.

Enrollment Information

This is a 4-week online course that uses email and Yahoo Groups. If you do not have a Yahoo ID you will be prompted to create one when you join the class, but the process is not difficult. The class is open to anyone wishing to participate. The cost is $30.00 per person or, if you are a member of OCCRWA, $20.00 per person.

Enrollment is a two-step process. In Step 1, you ask to Join the Yahoo Group. Step 2 is your payment via PayPal.

Class Fees are $20.00 for OCC/RWA members: $30.00 for non-members. Sign up at

For further information regarding this class, refunds or problems enrolling/paying for the class, please send an email to the OCCRWA Online Class Coordinator at

Happy St. Pateick’s Day!

Linda McLaughlin
OCC/RWA Online Class Coordinator

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