Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wallabies, editing and ROW80

Research is absolutely critical to writing good fiction.

I've never seen a real, live wallaby. But I'd read about them, looked at pictures, thought they were very interesting looking with their small, inquisitive faces, busy hands with quite useful claws, and those massive haunches. So I included one that Deidre spotted on the way to the Cascades Female Factory, though I found these animals, about the size of a dog, are mostly nocturnal and hunt for food or graze about at night.

Wallabies don't scuttle, though that's what I wrote. Back came a critique, thank goodness, from Les Denham, a writer in NOVELS-L, of the Internet Writing Workshop fame, someone who has lived in Australia and seen hundreds of wallabies. So I found this four-minute video of a Black-footed Rock Wallaby (by Walkaboutlad) that shows a bit more of how a wallaby moves.

Can I find a video of a wallaby running in the wild? Not yet. Lots of zoo shots of tame wallabies. Lots of footballers. Several fascinating videos of wallabies with babies in their pouches and one wallaby that simply stares at the camera. He looks ferocious. But I did learn that wallabies hop or bound. and so my one sentence is now a bit more accurate.

I still hope to visit Tasmania, otherwise known as 19th Century Van Diemen's Land, before Years of Stone is complete. I'm on my fourth revision, with perhaps a year's more edits to go. The sentence that reverberates for me is mostly attributed to Voltaire, something like: Striving for perfection can be the enemy of the good. I'm also staring the law of diminishing returns in the face.

ROW80 CHECK-IN. Next week, we go on the road, netbook stuffed in purse, on a 1,400 mile jaunt from snowy eastern Washington to balmy Tucson. They say you can drive this in about 22 hours. We'll go more slowly. I'm scampering like a wallaby to organize the packing, finish my volunteer PR work, and yet write every morning.

WRITING/RESEARCH: I still hope to finish my read through of Years of Stone by the end of this Round of 80 Days. I feel pretty good about the editing just now. My revision builds on new research about the Cascades Women's Factory and efforts to rewrite Deidre's character so she's less passive. I'm subbing to NOVELS-L and have gotten insightful and positive responses from Francene Stanley, Don McCandless, Holly Michael, Bob Smith, and Les Denham.

Also got a lovely new book on The Victorian Underworld by Donald Thomas and started pulling library books on the Hudson's Bay Company for Rivers of Stone for the trip across Canada this summer. And the biggest find: this photo from Margaret Muir's research-oriented website on Matthew Brady. This Australian author lives in Tasmania and is currently working on a story about Matthew Brady (1823-1843), a few years before my novels are set, but Brady, a bushranger, hid out in the hills above the Tamar River in Tasmania, exactly the kind of site I was looking for, though I want to find a hideout with caves. Still researching this, but what a picture. Margaret Muir is now on my "to read" list.

MARKETING/PUBLISHING: My first book club discussion for The Mermaid Quilt occurs this Thursday. I'm ready with lots of props and notes. More about that later. Haven't made progress on either GoodReads or Smashwords now that The Mermaid Quilt is off KDP, but it's on my to-do list.

May your week go well. Write on!


  1. I lived the first 45 years of my life in Australia. Funny, I didn't notice your 'scuttle'. If they move slowly, wallabies could be said to do that on all fives--including tail. Otherwise they hop or bound. Good on you for doing such good research.

  2. I've never thought of looking at videos for research. It makes so much sense.

  3. hello, good luck on the read through and have a wonderful trip next week.

  4. Hi Beth,
    I nominated you for the Liebster Award over on my blog.
    = )

  5. G'day!
    WalkaboutLad here :) Great to see my video clip being used and viewed.