At the start of every book, I spend a few weeks researching the time period before I even start putting pen to paper (so to speak!). The more I know about it, the easier it is to write the book. I don’t include everything I’ve discovered but just enough to give my readers the flavour of the period I’m writing in. I enjoy the research aspect of writing historical romance so it’s no hardship to spend days trying to find the needed information.
For every book I write, I keep a letter size file folder and in it are my character arcs, notes to myself and print outs of material I’ve found online that I think might be worthwhile to have in hard copy, particularly if it’s something I can use for other books ie names.
I have a number of history books and sometimes I’ll buy one or two if I think it’s useful to my current project. In those, I’ll use Post It notes to mark the pages I need to refer to frequently. Also, I spend time on line, and I book mark interesting websites.I tend to stay away from Wikipedia.
I also keep an extra Word file and I’ll copy and paste pertinent research info into that, including the website URL. I’ll have this file open while I’m working on the ms itself. Here’s a picture of my Barkerville Beginnings file, with everything from cover art to the manuscript itself to the notes and websites.
I’m more of a pantser but I always have certain scenes that I know I will be including. For example, in Barkerville Beginnings, it’s the opening scene with Rose and Edmund where he threatens to take Hannah, Rose’s four year old daughter. In A Heart Enslaved, my Viking romance, it’s the scene in the slave market where Thorvald has to decide if he’s going to sell Gisela or not. I’ve learned over the years not to spend too much time plotting because invariably my characters run the show.
If I’m not sure about something, I will add CHECK to my manuscript to remind myself to look into it further during the edits and revisions.