By Ramona Flightner/ @ramonaflightner

 

My blog has been too quiet lately and I’m making it a goal to blog more frequently. With that in mind, I thought I’d write about some of the most common questions I am asked when someone learns I am an author.

Where do you get your ideas?

I love listening to people tell stories and about their view of the world. With that in mind, I am always storing away ideas or nuggets for future use. Many times, someone will tell me a story, and I think to myself, “Wow, that would make a great novel.” I then spend a few minutes envisioning how I’d weave the tale before reminding myself I won’t have time for years!

I also scour research books for interesting events that occurred during the time my novels occur and that will often lead to a scene or a chapter. Sometimes all it takes is a line in a book and I will extrapolate from there.

I also read a wonderful article by one of my favorite authors, Diana Gabaldon, recommending that as an author, I should envision the worst thing that could happen to my character (other than death, although that’s always an option for some of them), and then do it. I remembered that advice as I was writing Reclaimed Love, and I’ve been tormenting my characters a bit more each book since then.

 

What is your writing schedule like?

I write when I can. I write when I’m at a coffee shop waiting for a friend. I jot down notes on my phone when ideas come. I get up at 5 am to write a few hours before work or when I get home from work. The bulk of my writing occurs on the weekends, which has turned me into a bit of a hermit. I don’t write every day, but I am thinking about writing every day.

 

Do you plot or use an outline?

I used to take great pride in saying I didn’t plot or outline, and I don’t. However, I now wish I had a more systematic approach to my writing. The problem is that every time I make an outline and try to write to it or use it as a guide, my muse takes a nap. She believes that if it’s already plotted, it’s not all that interesting and thus she’d rather be in Fiji. Thus, I now make a detailed list of characters who’ll be in the book, ideas of things that might happen, what I need to research, etc, and then write whatever comes to me. It means a lot of wasted words, and I have to do a lot of editing to make sure there is good continuity, but it’s the only way I am able to write.

 

How do you come up with your character’s names?

Sometimes I’ll hear a really beautiful name and then envision a character. For most of my characters, I’ve used a “Victorian Era Names” webpage to help me determine names that would have been popular when my characters were born. The name most are curious about is Sophronia, although I think there’s another great name in store for you in Undaunted Love.

 

Do you really like to conduct research?

I love research. I will often preface a comment to my friends, “You know I’m a nerd…” and they know I’ll talk about something I learned in my research. I can’t wait to go to museums, read the stack of non-fiction research books by my bed for the next novel, or  watch PBS specials. I have to restrict the number of research books I’ll buy because I’ve run out of bookshelf space numerous times!

 5DDF1B315C

Bonus: How long until the next book is out?

My goal for Undaunted Love, Banished Saga Book Three is May! I’m busy working with my cover designer, writing back cover copy and doing all the pre-publication things while it is with my proofreader. I can’t wait to share it with you.

 

Do you have any questions you’d like answered? Let me know and I’ll answer them in a future blog post!

Join my mailing list at http://www.ramonaflightner.com/newsletter/ for updates, sneak peeks and special offers.

banished saga collage 1

By Ramona Flightner/ @ramonaflightner

A year ago this week, I released Banished Love. It’s hard to believe a year has passed, and yet so much has occurred. I’ve released two full length novels, a novella and the audio book to Banished Love. It’s been quite a learning curve from learning more about marketing, to re-designing my webpage, to finding an audiobook narrator, to the ongoing struggle to find time to write and research. I must admit, I enjoyed every minute of it!

I had so many new experiences this past year. The thrill when Banished Love sold it’s first copy. The terror (and thrill!) when I spoke on a radio show promoting a book store event. The delight at a successful reading at Readmore Books in Taunton, MA. The joy when I received my first fan mail and then fan art. It’s been a wonderful year and  I thank you for all of your support.

P1030076-1024x768

Signing books at Readmore Books

 

I’ve begun edits on Book 3- now titled Undaunted Love. I’m still uncertain about the release date, but I’m hoping for April or May.  I’ve just finished the majority of edits for the audiobook for Reclaimed Love and it should be available mid-February to beginning of March.

After edits are done, I’ll dive back into research and writing for Book 4. Ideas and plot twists are percolating away, and I can’t wait to begin to explore them!

The Fall River Historical Society

The Fall River Historical Society

The Fall River Historical Society

by Ramona Flightner/ @ramonaflightner

On Sunday, I traveled to Fall River, Massachusetts to visit the Historical Society. It is housed in a Victorian mansion and decorated for Christmas. For years, I had meant to visit. It is a beautiful granite home, with enormous ceilings of 12 to 15 feet. The black walnut doors and wood work gleamed and had me in awe. I loved the details in each room, and my imagination ran wild as I envisioned Lucas playing at the piano in the parlor or the Sullivans having a heated discussion over supper in the sumptuous dining room. I marveled at the gorgeous furniture and envisioned Gabriel carving it.

Beautiful tree in the dining room

There were four Christmas trees and all were decorated in a different manner. Each year, the trees are decorated differently. The staff said that it takes them weeks to decorate the house (they start in October) but it only takes two days to take it all down!

Beautiful tree in the parlor

I hope you are enjoying this holiday season!

*********************************************************************************************************

A few updates:

I will send out a holiday newsletter next Monday. In that newsletter, the first chapter to book three will be included. If you are interested in reading more of the Banished Saga, be sure to sign up for my newsletter as only those signed up will receive Chapter One! (a link to my newsletter signup is on my homepage at www.ramonaflightner.com)

Thanks to my beta readers, I finally have a title for Book Three! Book three is now “Undaunted Love.” Look for it late Spring.

Wishing you a happy, healthy holiday!

Boston Fire Museum

The Boston Fire Museum

By Ramona Flightner/ @ramonaflightner

While I was writing the prequel for the Banished Saga, Love’s First Flames, I needed to research how fires were fought in Boston. Thus, I visited the Boston Fire Museum one Saturday morning and learned about fire fighting through the years. I had learned some information about the system and firefighters in the wonderful book A City So Grand: The Rise of An American Metropolis: Boston 1850-1900 by Stephen Puleo, but I needed more specific information about how a fire would have been fought in the 1880’s.

 When I arrived, I was met by a guide eager to walk me through fire fighting since the colonial period. While I was conducting research, most people at the museum that day were there with their children, hoping to get on one of the trucks to ring the bell on a fire truck and take photos.

Buckets used in Colonial Boston to fight fires.

Buckets used in Colonial Boston to fight fires.

 In the colonial period, all houses were required to keep two buckets by the front door. When the fire bell sounded, they had to rush out to the well where a line would form a bucket brigade. In 1782, Thayer (a student of Paul Revere) made a hand pump that was hand carried to fires. The buckets were still needed as that was how the pump was filled with water. This was considered the first fire engine.

This Thayer pump is from 1792. It was filled with buckets of water and was a hand pumped fire engine.

This Thayer pump is from 1792. It was filled with buckets of water and was a hand pumped fire engine. It was one of the first fire engines in Boston.

 Up until 1859, Boston had what I would term a “pay for service” model for fire fighting. Men from the different fire fighting groups in the neighborhoods would visit the residents in the neighborhood once a year and sell a policy for their fire fighting service in the unlikely event their services were needed. If you purchased their aid, you’d put a marker in your doorway showing who was responsible to fight the fire. If a fire were to break out in your house, all of the different fire fighting groups would arrive, but the only ones who would fight the fire would be the ones whose emblem was over your doorway. The others would call out disparaging comments as the fire raged, never helping to fight the fire. If you’d not purchased any coverage for the year, you’d be able to buy it at that moment, but at a much greater price. If you couldn’t or wouldn’t buy coverage, they would stand and watch your home burn.

Fire emblems you'd hang over your door to indicate who was protecting you in case of a fire

Fire emblems you’d hang over your door to indicate who was protecting you in case of a fire

 

Thus, in 1859, Boston re-organized the Boston Fire Department and did away with the neighborhood fire fighting groups and standardized the fire fighting efforts throughout the city. The necessity of purchasing an emblem or seal was no longer needed. My guide told me that it was a wild time to be a fire fighter as the men who had been part of the volunteer groups were disgruntled that they’d been disbanded and actively vandalized the equipment.

In the mid 1800’s another hand pump was used that required a vast number of men to man it. 20 to 25 men at a time were required to propel the water through the hoses. Firemen grabbed onto metal bars on either side of the pump and rocked the bar up and down to propel the water through the hose. It was exhausting work and men would only be able to do it for 3-5 minutes before needing a break. It required a group of 80-100 men, taking turns, to man it during a fire. Bystanders often joined in to help power the pump.

Hand pump requiring 20 or more men to make it work.

Hand pump requiring 20 or more men working in tandem to make it work.

 

In the 1860’s, steam powered pumps were introduced to the fire department. These were larger pumps and were pulled by horses to the fire. Eight to ten firefighters would hang off the side of the pump, waiting to reach the fire and jump down to battle the blaze. A fire fighter in the fire station was required to ensure that the correct steam pressure was maintained throughout the day, every day. He kept an hourly log of the steam pressure. If the pressure was incorrect, he would lose his position as they had to be prepared at any moment for a fire.

This is the type of steam powered fire pump that would have been used in the 1880's, the time of Love's First Flames.

This is the type of steam powered fire pump that would have been used in the 1880’s, the time of Love’s First Flames.

 

Another view of the steam fire engine

Another view of the steam fire engine

This is the type of fire engine that would have been used in Love’s First Flames.

Steam powered fire pump pulled by horses

Steam powered fire pump pulled by horses

 

 

I greatly enjoyed my visit to the Boston Fire Museum and would recommend a visit if you are in Boston and have the opportunity to visit.

 

*****

The prequel to the Banished Saga is now available at all e-book major retailers for free! I hope you enjoy it and please consider leaving a review as reviews help others decide to take a chance on a new author.

By Ramona Flightner/ @ramonaflightner

Love's First Flames

 

 

In a few weeks, Love’s First Flames will be released as an e-book. I had a great time writing the novella, although it was a challenge writing it in such a way so as not to give away any of the secrets in Banished Love. I’ll let you know when it’s available.

An Austin DesignWorks Production