Blog Tour Stop: Rina Z. Neiman Guest Post – Top 5 Ways Researching Primary Sources

Top 5 Ways Researching Primary Sources is so Effective by Rina Z. Neiman

When writing historical fiction, details of the time and place are crucial to the believability of your story. Here are 5 ways I researched my historical novel, Born Under Fire, which takes place from 1934-1949 under the British Mandate of Palestine.

1. Primary sources & interviews: When I began researching my mother’s story I was able to make a trip to Israel and conduct several in-person interviews with her friends and relative. These were invaluable to verify facts and get a feel for how events transpired. Walking the streets where scenes in the book occur was a way to soak in the smells, sights and sounds of a place.

I found several firsthand accounts from this time period by wonderful writers including Reporting from Palestine by Barbara Board, the first female foreign correspondent in the Middle East for the UK’s Daily Mirror. If I wanted to know about the experience of British troops stationed in Palestine, I looked for web sites with first person accounts and photos of veterans from that era.

2. Academic books and journals: I used my library’s inter-branch loan system, as academic books can also be prohibitively expensive. Reading these books gave me a better understanding of the forces that led creation of the Sabra generation (The Sabra: The Creation of the New Jew), fashion and styles of the time (The Coat of Many Colors: Dress Culture in the Young State of Israel), and history of the region and the city of Tel Avi (Young Tel Aviv: The Tale of Two Cities)

3. Movies – I watched movies from that era to get a sense of what it was like at the time. How did a place look vs. today? What slang was used? Period films also give a sense of the social mores of the time.

I watched a lot of documentaries, because there is nothing better that hearing about an eve than from the people that were there.

4. Newsreels and vintage films – The internet is a treasure trove for an endless supply of early newsreels and film clips. Director Steven Spielberg’s The Spielberg Collection is an invaluable source for Jewish themed films and newsreels. Newsreels with narration give a sense of what public perception was about a particular even of the day.

5. Newspapers from the time – Reading firsthand reports of an event gives you the facts, then you decide how your characters will react. There was websites where you can search newspaper archives depending on your area of interest, and your local library has loads of resources that you can use.

One final note: When I am deep into writing a scene, I stop my research. It’s easy to go down the research rabbit hole when you’re trying to find the perfect outfit, place or food for a scene or character. When I want to get some writing done, I head to a cafe or the library and do not turn on my WIFI. If the action in the scene can continue without the specific brand name of radio they listened to in 1947, I will move on with a note to research “1947 radios England” later.

For a full list of resources and links I used for my novel, see Https://www.bornunderfire.com/links

Rina Z. Neiman recently published her first book, Born Under Fire, an historical novel based on her mother who was born in Tel Aviv in 1928. As she comes of age the State of Israel is born. #bornunderfirethebook Amazon Website

How to Conquer Journal Writing in 5 Easy Steps by Karen Brown Tyson

“I would love to write a journal.”

I hear this statement a lot followed by, “But I can’t keep it going.”

Like a lot of you, I said the same thing for years. I would write in my journal at the beginning of the year or the start of a new month and stop after a few weeks.

But no matter how many times I tried and quit, I know the benefits of journal writing.

Journaling is therapeutic

In dealing with life, lots of people find relief in therapeutic writing. The three types of therapeutic writing you can use include:

Pen poetry is a creative way to write about your feelings using images and emotions.

An open letter allows you to write a letter (but not mail it) to a person highlighting what’s going well or an issue you have with a specific person.

Freewriting or journaling allows you to write about what’s on your mind without worrying about style, punctuation or grammar.

For the few weeks when I wrote in my journal, I found power in being able to write about what happened in a day or a week. Understanding how I feel and seeing how I respond to life events over time is not only therapeutic but also empowering.

After many failed attempts, I finally built a journal writing habit using several steps, including the five listed below.

Step #1 – Make a commitment

To change my journal writing habit, I made a commitment contract with myself. The contract was a simple sticky note posted where I could see it every day. Every writer’s commitment contract is different. For my contract, I committed to writing five to seven days per week.

Step #2 – Start small

  • As a Lean Six Sigma communicator, I know the power of the Kaizen approach which uses small steps to improve a process, a habit or a product. To strengthen my journal writing habit, I started small by writing three sentences per day. Once I mastered three sentences, I added more sentences until I was writing a paragraph
  • Step #3 —  Use a trigger

    To help me write daily, I use a trigger or a cue that leads me into my journal writing habit. Peter Gollwitzer, a professor of psychology, determined that people were more successful at achieving their goals when they wrote “if-then” statements where “if” represents the cue and “then” is your planned action. Here’s my statement, “If I am in bed, then I will write three sentences in my journal.”

    Step #4 — Protect the chain

    I love the fitness app on my smartphone.  Once I complete three challenges each day, the app displays a perfect circle with three closed rings. For your journal writing habit, keep track of your progress by putting a checkmark or ‘X’ on a calendar. Don’t let the chain break by missing a day. Each day represents progress.

    Step #5 — Schedule a weekly review 

    At the start of each week, I read all of my entries from the previous week. During your weekly review, assess how well you did in keeping your journal writing commitment. Don’t beat yourself up if you missed a day or didn’t write for a long time.  List what’s working and what’s not.  Make adjustments quickly and get back to writing.

    Karen Brown Tyson used journal writing to complete her book, Time to Refresh:  A 21-Day Devotional to Renew Your Mind After Being Laid Off, Fired or Sidelined.  

    Karen works online, in person and by phone as a communication and writing coach. Karen helps her entrepreneurial clientele focus on business and nonfiction writing.