Wednesday, April 1, 2015


by Ursula Renée
With all the storms we’ve had over the past couple of weeks, it may be hard to believe that March 20thwas the first day of spring. Though it will not happen overnight, eventually the days will get longer and we will be able to shed some of the layers we wore to ward off the cold. We will also begin spending less time indoors.
Moving our activities outdoors does not mean we need to abandon our novels. Writing is more than putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Research and observation are also important aspects of writing.
Once the weather warms, you may loath the idea of sitting at a computer and researching life in another place and time. Therefore, instead of simply reading about it, go out and experience it.
Living museums like Historic Richmond Town and Old Bethpage Restoration Village not only offer tours of home built centuries ago, but guides in period costumes who are willing to answer questions. There are occasional demonstrations, including cooking, blacksmith, and weaving.
If you cannot make the trip to a living museum, there are historic homes from various time periods throughout the five boroughs. Though, there are not as much activities at these locations, they are still interesting to tour and give visitors an idea of how people lived in the past. Some of these houses include the Jumel Morris Mansion, the Van Cortlandt Manor and the Merchant’s House Museum. More information about these homes can be found on the Historic House Trust’s website (
The nicer weather can also be used to explore placesyou would like your characters visit. For a daytrip, you can visit Coney Island, where you can relax on the beach, ride the Wonder Wheel, visit the New York Aquarium and watch a minor league baseball game. Or, take a trip to Flushing Meadows Park on a weekend afternoon, have picnic, visit the Queens Zoo and watch a soccer game.
No matter what activity you chose, observe your surroundings. Take notes on the sights, sounds and smells. Memorize the textures of everything you touch and the flavors of everything you taste. And, don’t forget to take plenty of pictures.
Though you may not need the information for a current work-in-progress, you can always file the notes and pictures away for future reference.
The most important thing to remember is that no matter where you go or what you do, enjoy your time outdoors.♥
Ursula Renée is the President of RWA/NYC. Her first historical romance, SWEET JAZZ, was released in September 2014 by The Wild Rose Press. When she is not writing, she enjoys photography, drawing and stone carving. Visit her at


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