It is remarkable just how much actual intelligence there is out there on the Internet.. and, of course, I mean information, though smarts might not be as widespread.  The next remarkable thing is how much of this can be useful for a novelist, particularly a historical novelist.  Check out this selection for excellent examples.

The History of Foods

Researching for my stories of life in everyday Anglo Saxon Winchester — to be published as “Alehouse Tales” — I ran across this site and the fascinating article “Anglo Saxon Foods”  It pretty much answered every question I could have, and my main character runs an inn!    Gleaned from record as well as archaeological finds, this material covers everything from the foods available in a region in a period of time, how the chroniclers regarded food, particularly as a way to demonstrate social standing, and what influences other cultures had on a cuisine.  In the case of my research I found that while malnutrition was apparent in the bones of Anglo Saxons, especially children, certain diseases like rickets and scurvy were not, signifying that while the diet as a whole were insufficient, they did have fruit and dairy products.

eCard showing Dorothy meeting the mice.
Classy eCards from Dover Publications

Tired of cheesy ecards that just bombard the recipient with ads or even malware?  Dover Publications, which publishes lots and lots of illustration and clipart books, has free, no commitment ecards in a lot of categories, from the usual landscapes and flowers to Marilyn Monroe, motorcycles, Civil War generals, old advertising posters, New York City history, and many more.  And none that will embarrass you or make your friends mad at you!

Canadian English

If you plan to set your gay romance novel in Labrador or Manitoba, you might want to follow this link so you don’t just finish every sentence with “eh?”, eh?


I fondly remember an ad where a computer tells a woman that it has done the research she asked for and is ready to filter and deliver the results.  I have longed for such a tool, and though they have had them as long ago as Compuserve, I hadn’t found one I could use recently.  I posted on a blind computer users listserv and learned about several… when you are blind, efficiency is uppermost in your priorities… and was told by this product by Blue Squirrel Software.  This one, Webseeker, goes out onto the search engines and in a matter of seconds finds all sorts of stuff.  I downloaded the free trial version and can see that I will need to learn how to filter the results, but so far I am impressed.  I plan to use it to do research for novels, since websites are mostly  accessible to my screen reading software.  If it is useful for me, it will be doubly useful for you.

What sorts of sites and information are you looking for?  Let me know.

Nan Hawthorne  — hawthorne at nanhawthorne dot com