Monday Musings: Research & Reconnaissance

My friend (call her Susie Q) and I walk into the Houston International Boat Show to see all kinds of marine vessels displayed around the large convention hall.  One of the first things I notice is that these events are primarily attended by those of the xY chromosomal persuasion.  They are also usually visited by people who actually know something about boats.

Growing up in a coastal town, I’d been around boats plenty, but I’d never driven one or owned one or thought about buying one.  But I wasn’t there to purchase.  I was there for reconnaissance. 

We mosey up and down the aisles, checking out everything from streamlined bass boats to luxurious yachts.  We strike up conversations with boat shoppers and salespeople.  Most of them are pretty smooth, up until the time Susie Q or I ask something like, “Now what’s the best way to set one of these babies on fire?”  That gets you some strange looks!

But that’s one of the fun things about being a fiction writer – researching what you’re writing about!  To figure out how to describe boat arson in mystery novel, I attended the boat show, read several books on arson and firefighting, and watched I-don’t-know-how-many videos on YouTube.com and other sites showing video of boat fires.  I can’t remember which ones I viewed, but here’s a sample.

For other projects, I’ve researched bed carving, blood science, languages, legends, journaling, piracy, and trees.  Once I get interested in a topic, I can spend hours on the internet or speaking with others to enhance my body of knowledge.  In fact, there is no end to the number of topics one can research, and there is always some obscure expert somewhere who has been there before you and discovered fascinating things.

Twitter has also provided another great place for book research.  I recently asked what swim meet event a not-so-terrific 12 year old swimmer might participate in.  Within a couple of minutes, I received two responses from Twitter friends (with the same answer, so my girl character is in the 100 meter freestyle!).  How nice of these ladies to save me the trouble of researching that one by simply sharing their knowledge.

What have you researched?  How do you go about gathering information?  Do you have favorite resources?

Bonus: Stylish Blogger Award

First, I’d like to thank the Academy . . .  Oh, it’s not THAT award.  Still, I’m so excited that my Twitter and blog friend Tiffany A. White has given me the award, The Stylish Blogger!  (See, I can be stylish even if I do shop at Target.)

In addition to being an excellent writer, Tiffany is a TV guru with loads of information on what to watch, so be sure to check out her blog.  In fact, every time anyone clicks on the Stylish Blogger Award icon on my website, they will experience Tiffany’s blog.

The Stylish Blogger award does come with rules. (Don’t all awards?)

1.       Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
2.       Share seven random facts about yourself.
3.       Pass the award along to 5 new-found blogging buddies.
4.       Contact those buddies to congratulate them.

Since I recently gave seven random facts about myself and five blogging buddies for the Versatile Blogger award, I refer you to that post and my recommendations of blogs to check out.

Versatile and Stylish. I bet my sisters are wondering how I ever managed that.

Thanks again, Tiffany!

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5 thoughts on “Monday Musings: Research & Reconnaissance

  1. Congrats, Sis! Yes you are a "Stylish Blogger!" I must agree. And you go ahead and wear your Target wardrobe proudly! I know I do 🙂

  2. Research. Ugh. It always feels like a waste of time, even though you have to do it or look like an idiot. You can read a lot of my research on my blog. Cursed cars. Psychology. Criminals. The internet is a good place to start. The library is a good way to get free literature on just about any topic. Inter-library loan is your friend. LOL

  3. Julie – you are welcome, and thank you for the shout-out & linkage!I am writing mystery, and despite my addiction to television & cinematic mysteries, I had to do some research on crime scenes and forensics. I wanted my book to be realistic while not too wordy. I picked up some great books: Postmortem and Death Investigations: The Basics. Easy reads & full of info. Besides that, the TV is my research. See how I did that? 🙂

  4. …Most of them are pretty smooth, up until the time Susie Q or I ask something like, “Now what’s the best way to set one of these babies on fire?”This made me laugh out loud – I totally know just what you mean! I interviewed the Maine state fire marshal for the book I'm writing now, and I have to admit that asking for the more graphic details was a little sketchy at times. All the same, though, I just love the research process – I think one of the traits most successful writers I've met have in common is an insatiable thirst for knowledge, and a genuine love of learning. To me, it just makes the writing process that much more fun. Congrats on the Stylish Blogger award, as well – what fun!

  5. @Catie – I love interlibrary loan. And library holds.@Tiffany – I'm looking those books up! (Postmortem and Death Investigations: The Basics) Thanks for the tip!@Jen – Thanks! It does feel like you have a morbid side to you. I love the start of the tv show Castle where he says that there are two kinds of people who try to figure out how to kill other people – psychopaths & mystery writers.

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