First, be in love with the place and era in which you’re sowing your story. If you aren’t, it won’t work for you. Then meet your one or two leading characters (in your mind’s eye, not on paper.) Wait til you find one or two whom you love (or love to hate!) I can really help you here, because I’ll shout into the phone: “Stop! She’s perfect!” when you’ve found the right human(s) to plant in your chosen era.
This will be the right time to now do the bulk of your historical research. Your research supplies, in theatrical terms, nothing more than the stage settings. It’ll fuel your plot, for sure, and make your story particularly interesting, but you’re already in love with your characters… they’ll jump onto the historical stage and lead your story from start to finish.
Our phone chats can become a really effective way to power your story ahead, because I’ll tell you when it’s “Full speed ahead!”, or when it’s “Whoa! Go back and take that other turn back there.” Once your story is on track, improving your technique is a piece of cake for me (and for you!) And whenever you need more historical detail, just take a break and revel in the fun of your historical research.