Thursday, September 1, 2011

Research: My Crazy Need for Fact Checking

Mornin' all, Audra here. Oh my goodness! Can you believe it's September already? Hard to tell here in Colorado, we're still averaging 90 degrees and I'm not seeing any relief in sight. And speaking of Colorado, I'm just tickled to have Donnell Bell, my fellow scribe at Five Scribes and Coloradoan  - separated by just a couple of mountain ridges south of me - here in Seekerville today to talk research, and hype up her DEBUT novel!! Many of you know Donnell as former contest coordinator for the Kiss of Death chapter's Dauphne du Maurier contest. Since resigning the coordinator gig, Donnell has concentrated on writing and polishing, and what does she have to show for it? A publishing contract!

Enough of me. Here's Donnell to tell you all you ever needed to know about research but were afraid to ask -- sort of, LOL! Leave a comment for a chance to receive a copy of The Past Came Hunting when it hits the shelves!

Good morning Seekerville! Oh my, it’s good to be here again, and special thanks to Audra for inviting me. Confession time: This will be my very first blog to promote my September 15, 2011 release, “The Past Came Hunting,” from Bell Bridge Books. I’m excited, I’m bald and friends say I’ve developed a nervous twitch. But enough about the hair loss and palsy that comes with a debut novel.

When Audra and I discussed topics, I thought--great. Now that I’m a “published” author, people are going to expect me to know something. Unwritten Rule No. 44 is: Author must know something. So, I went into my writer’s cave and hurt my head and thought: What can I enthrall my friends at Seekerville with that will make me sound authorial? And then it hit me, or maybe it was just another tremor, I’ll dazzle them with the provocative topic of research.

Hey, where’s everybody going? You get back in your chairs this minute. Research can be a provocative topic. Rather, it can be if you don’t get it right…

When I worked for newspapers, we were told repeatedly to double check our source. We never accepted anything unless we could corroborate our facts. I think this must have carried over into my fiction career because when I research, I’m never sure of anything--especially if I find it on the Internet or read it in Wikipedia. We’ve all learned that programs like CSI, while entertaining, are far from accurate. And the worst thing an author can read next to a bad review is that he/she didn’t do his research.

Research is a fine line. Too much can lead to an information dump, too little can result in a less than satisfying story. What’s more, thanks to the time it takes to write a book and get it published, your research can become obsolete. Think I’m exaggerating? Consider New Orleans and the French Quarter before and after Katrina. Authors’ settings and probably their storylines changed in the blink of a hurricane’s eye.

                                      Belle Books/Bell Bridge Books

It happened to me in “The Past Came Hunting.” You see, I wrote the first version of the book in 2005. It finaled in the Golden Heart in 2007 and Bell Bridge bought the book in 2010. My revisions consisted of a two-page letter, which, after I hyperventilated for a few days, I had no problem completing. However, a nagging voice kept after me to recheck my facts--some time had elapsed. Was my research still current?

I’ll never regret double checking. Originally, my story dealt with the Colorado Correctional Facility for Women in Cañon City. Subsequent fact checking revealed that the facility closed in 2006 and that the women convicts were transferred to both the Pueblo and Denver prisons. This created a plot problem. I had the warden, an integral character in my book, as the head of a now-defunct facility. Maybe readers unfamiliar with Colorado or Cañon City wouldn’t have noticed, but I’ll wager my Colorado readers would home in on the fact.

The corrected version now reads:

The East Cañon Complex where Joe now stood housed seven prisons, from minimum to close security, high-risk offenders. Maxwell had been incarcerated in the Colorado State Penitentiary, a prison ranked level V. No big surprise there. But the man Joe had come to see supervised the Arrowhead Correctional Center, a level III facility.

Two years previously, however, before it closed, Simon had been warden of the Colorado Women’s Correctional Facility, the prison where Melanie Daniels had done time.

So what was Joe doing here? His job, he told himself, or at least what was necessary. Maxwell was a book already read, Melanie Daniels Norris an unfinished novel.

Some publishers employ fact checkers. Ideally he/she might have caught my blunder. But there’s always the chance that he wouldn’t, and later I’d be contacted by a reader. No doubt there are mistakes I didn’t catch in the book. But I sure breathed a sigh of relief when I caught this one.

So how about you? When it comes to your writing, or when you’re reading a book, do you check and double check your facts? Have any of you experienced, like me, a passage of time that led you to update your manuscript? Have readers contacted you about plot points in your stories? I’d love to know I’m not the only one who has this compulsive need to give that manuscript just one more “look-see” for accuracy. Thanks for having me, Seekerville and best wishes!

One Man wants her gone . . .

Lt. Joe Crandall is on the fast track for Commander and not pleased to learn his new neighbor is a woman he sent to prison 15 years earlier, or that she might be the target of a recently released convict. Now their sons have become inseparable. Joe doesn’t need the headache or the unwelcome attraction.

One Man wants her dead . . .

Drake Maxwell has one goal upon his release from prison–finding the girl whose testimony landed him a 15-year prison sentence and making her pay.

As for Melanie Norris . . .

All she wants is to raise her son, forget this unshakable past and move on with her life. . .

By Donnell Ann Bell
Coming September 15, 2011
From Bell Bridge Books

Donnell Ann Bell is a two-time Golden Heart finalist and debut author with Bell Bridge Books. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter @donnellannbell or at her web page,


  1. Happy September! Well, not really. It's only 10:00 here in Colorado.

    I'm so excited to have Donnell with us today...or tomorrow, whichever works for either coast : )

    Melons and berries are in full swing right now, nice anc ripe and sweet.

    How about fruit cups of watermelon, honeydew and cantalope along with waffles and pancakes as vehicles for fresh raspberries, strawberries, blueberrys...just name a berry and I'll serve it!

    Time for bed. I'll see you in the morning : )

  2. Ah, sorry about the misspells...I'm going to bed.

  3. Coffee's all set!

    Hi, Donnell:

    Would really like to read your book. I'm a mystery lover.


  4. whoo hooo Donnell! Congrats! I'd love to win your debut may at maythek9spy dot com

    FUNNY you should bring this up. I just found out Sunday that the code for the Baltimore airport changed from BWI. And my book came out at the tail end of June. I hear ys!

    Wish I'd checked such a thing. Thanks for sharing.

    Y'all have fun in CO. It's sooo lovely there. I've not made it this year, though we try usually at least once a year.

    Pass the melon please Audra. Thanks!

  5. Hi Donnell! So excited to see that particular story get published :) Now I'll be able to read the end of it!

    ACK! Research has been both fascinating and the bane of my existence. I spent over 20 hours on one minor fact, but since my setting in book two is 1920 Liberia Africa, a country torn by massive civil wars in the last two decades, trying to get local scholarly help was impossible. I finally discovered my answer in old photographs. I completely understand the bald/palsy comment. Congrats on your upcoming release!

  6. Donnell,

    That's amazing you found out the prison had closed. I have interviewed a nurse and also an ice cream shop owner for research. For the shop owner, I asked what kinds of things added tension to the job. I got some answers that surprised me and it helped to create conflict.

    On another note, do you plot or just start writing? Didn't your RWA chapter sell plotting boards way back when? Or was that someone else I'm thinking of? :)

    Would love to win your debut novel.

    cathy underscore shouse at yahoo

  7. Donnell, first THANK YOU for all the time you put into the Daphne and Kiss of Death. That contest was wonderful to me, and I am ever grateful...

    Yes, Vince... I have a couple of suspense novels tucked in my hard drive. ;)

    And I'm so excited to read this book! YAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!!

    Your research advice is spot on, too. I had turned in my synopsis on my current WIP, and something niggled me about a medical procedure. I had the patient receiving radiation, which has been the common practice for this cancer...

    BUT... In the past two years (and it didn't come up in my internet research this spring) a new laser technique has proven to be a Godsend for this type of cancer. Sure enough, one of SEVEN doctors doing the procedure was within a two-hour drive of Allegany County...

    It would have been silly to send my patient for radiation when cutting edge, less invasive technology is a car ride away. I'm so glad I double-checked that because it changed my timeline significantly but made the hero's role more defined.

    Great job on this post and I'm loving the fruit, Audra!!!! Waffles, fruit, whipped cream. I'm the happiest woman ever!

    Thank you!

  8. Good morning, all! Helen, thanks for the coffee -- you are such a sweet thing to keep my life line a-perkin'!

    KC,your book came out at the "tail end of June", LOL! I'll bet May's tail is still wagging over the event : )

    I have boxes of Rocky Ford cantalope, so please come back for seconds!

  9. Debbie, I applaud you for your indepth research. I don't think I'd know where to begin research in war torn countries. Good for you not giving up.

  10. Good morning, Seekerville! Good morning to my buddy Audra, who lives a couple of mountain peaks north of me, which makes me sad, I have to talk to her on e-mail ;)

    And thank you so much! for the warm, "hungry" welcome! So lovely to see your faces!

    Helen, I'd love for you to win ;) we'll see!

    KC, yes, I "almost" wish I wrote historicals because at least in that time, you can pin things down. Gosh, things in our lifetime are moving at warp speed. Still, I love writing contemporary times -- so exciting, even if it does involve massive amounts of research!

  11. Debbie, so wonderful to see you, and yes, you'll get to read the rest of the novel. The Past Came Hunting, so different from Walk Away Joe, but I gotta admit (shuffling my feet here) it does some up that book.

    20 hours. Amazing. And I can certainly see it happening. I drove down to Canon City to check this fact, I was so frantic over this prison's closing. Darn, economic times!

  12. Hi, research paper writing service. Thanks for stopping by. You sound right up our alley ;)

    Cathy Shouse, hi there! Yes, isn't it great when you're doing interviews and someone mentions something that makes your muse pop. That's going to add a lot of depth to your story. Wonderful comment.

    And, yes, waving here and promoting my Colorado Springs' chapter Pikes Peak Romance Writers. They sell plotting boards

    As for my system, I usually get a germ of an idea. I write and research as I go. I use the plotting board after my first draft, write down my chapters and scenes. Hope this answers your question


    I've turned into a Yay woman myself. My future daughter in law was so cute last weekend as she tried on her dress. She kept dancing around saying yay yay yay :) I know the feeling. A debut novel, does that to you, doesn't it?

    What a relief that you fact check technology and checked out radiation vs. laser. And you know what? in a couple of years, it'll be ultra sound or what not. Amazing how technology is passing us by.

    It does sound like you added quite a layer to your hero as a result, would you agree?

    And the Daphne was my pleasure. It's such a wonderful contest and I've met you and so many other wonderful people as a result! Thank you.

  14. Good morning Audra and welcome Donnell to Seekerville.

    Your debut novel sounds intriguing, Donnell. Congratulations, pulled hair and all. smile. Isn't it so exciting? And scary?

    Sounds like you're doing all the right things. Have fun.

  15. Hi Donnell, I know what you mean about your settings changing. I'm glad you caught the prison closing thing.
    I've had the same thing happen to me. Current of Love which was just contracted by Avalon, takes place on a paddleboat cruise up the Mississippi. Well Hurricane Katrina changed much of the setting and I don't think they even have the cruises anymore. So we had to add an epilogue to make it sound like in the past.

  16. Ah, Sandra, thanks for commenting, and I know Katrina created not just a hurricane, it upset a lot of authors hard researched work.

    And I don't know about you but compulsive is inherit in my personality to make sure things are just right. Glad you caught that and added the epilogue!

  17. Hi Donnell!

    Since I'm working on an historical, my facts don't change - but being able to pin them down can be tough. Last night I was trying to find out when electricity was installed in a certain township - and then to the map to find out which township my characters are in. Is that something that affected them or not?

    And then when I changed the time of my WIP by a couple years to work in one detail, I found that another detail was completely different. Oh well, I guess that's what editing is for, right?

    I would be envious of you and Audra smack dab in the Colorado Rockies, but I'm basking in the cool weather of the Black Hills. I'm content!

    I'm looking forward to reading your book!

  18. Welcome, Donnell!! I've read the beginning of this book as well and cannot wait to read the entire story!!!

  19. Don't be too envious Jan! Today it is summer. Tomorrow it will be winter here. If we are real lucky we will get a day or two of autumn.

  20. (posted for Theresa Rizzo cuz blogger is not liking her at the moment, LOL!)

    Hi Donnell,

    Congratulations on your debut! I LOVE the cover and can’t wait to read The Past Came Hunting. It sounds so exciting. Research? Yeah, I write contemporary women’s fiction that deals with a lot of issues that can be dated in just six months! Doing a revision right now and mentioned a character being open to being interviewed by Oprah—the Oprah show is no more. In another book I have her reading “O” Magazine—I had to check to make sure that’s still around. If I really look, I have SO many things that will “could” be dated by the time my dang books are out, but I figure one last edit after it’s bought to fix all that and that’s the best a writer can do.

    Great interview, Audra. Thanks!

  21. I have a plotting board from PPRW.

    And we did a post on your chapter's plotting boards. You can see it here

    Portable Plotting Board

  22. Thank you so much for the chance to win this. This looks like an amazing book. I would love to win this. Thanks again.


  23. Wow. That book sounds fantastic. Welcome to Seekerville, Donnell. =]

    Research is important--those little details mean a lot, especially if they're out of place and you know.

  24. Welcome to Seekerville, Donnell! Congratulations on your debut! The title and story line are gripping.

    I write historicals. Getting the facts right can be daunting. Some small details can slip by me if I'm not diligient.

    The facts can be inconvenient. :-)
    I wanted my hero farmer to own sheep, but research proved Iowa wasn't sheep country. To do what I wanted, I had the hero teased about his flock. No one complained.


  25. Donnell, congratulations on your debut release. It sounds intriguing!!!

    Great post too. :-)

  26. Great post! Research is a fine line. Sounds like you've managed to balance it.
    looking forward to your book birthday

  27. Oh, Jan, the Black Hills, I'd be content too. Gorgeous Country, God's Special Hand. You know, I hope I didn't make it sound like historical research wasn't challenging and difficult. My critique partner Allegra Gray would bop me over the head for that one. And what's tough about historical is the facts may be hidden, known to one sector and not to another. How do you handle that?

    At least with contemporary fiction you have trails that lead us -- but get historical facts wrong, and you'll hear not just from readers but from scholars :)

  28. Okay...trying again. Sorry if this posts twice.

    Hi Donnell!
    Congrats on your book! It sounds wonderful! I am a compulsive fact checker, too, never taking the info. of one source as fact. Even though medical romance is fiction, medical professionals and people who have experienced certain medical conditions will call an author out for inaccuracies!

  29. Hi, Tina! Wow, you were one of WAJ's now The Past Came Hunting's first judges. Thank you so much! Your encouragement and many others kept me believing in this book. It crosses genres, so it was a tough sale. I'm grateful that so many believed in it and kept clamoring at me to get it out there.

    And thanks for the link to PPRW's plotting board. It really helps to see your book come to life, or to help fill in plot holes, but that's a different blog topic, right?

  30. Arggh, T. It's amazing we can keep anything updated. You, my dear, are a consummate pro. I know your research will be impeccable. Thanks for sharing in my excitement!!! I think the cover is nice, too!

  31. Hi, Rebecca, thank you and consider yourself entered!

    Patty, thank you! This book was truly a labor of love. Okay, don't laugh, but it came from a country song. My muse wouldn't let go, and then drat came the research .

  32. Yay, Donnell. Fabulous post! I can't wait for your book.

    I double check facts, too... and I had to update some facts while editing Flash Bang last fall. Things had changed since I first wrote it as well.

    You go, girl!

  33. Janet, thank you. What a clever fix! And while adapting your research, admitting it wasn't sheep country, you gave your protagonist a very interesting occupation/quirk. Well done! Thanks for the warm welcome!

    Thank you, Gina! So great to see you here!

    Ah, thanks, Rita, you just had a book birthday too :) Thanks for stopping by.

  34. Oh, Wendy, nice to see you, thanks for trying twice, and writing medicals I can totally see that. Doctors and nurses while totally giving and caring people would be the harshest critics if something was wrong. Yay, yay, yay, as my future DIL likes to say. You're compulsive like me

    Melanie, another yay, yay, yay to see you here! And congratulations on Flash Bang! I give up. If a book changes from fall to present, how do you keep it current? Hope readers can be understanding somewhat, ya know? Thank you for being here!

  35. Donnell and Audra, I just wanted to stop by to say hello and welcome! Can't stay to read right now but will be back later!

    Donnell, I love your cover!!

  36. Woohoo, congrats on your book! I bet many writers have had to really fact check some of their older books that they are revamping. Progress can be such a PITB, lol.

  37. Donnell I love your storyline...sounds so exciting!
    Congrats on being published...I dream of that at some point too:)
    Thanks for your tips on research. I do have around 10 books that deal with my historical fiction I try to double check my research so I don't get facts messed up:) Thanks for sharing the changes you made in your MS...I'm sure I'll need to check my MS again when it's all done:)

    Please enter my name for a chance to win your book...sounds like a great book:)

    lornafaith at gmail dot com

  38. Missy, so great to see you here, and I hope you'll stop by later so we can catch up with the type of research YOU'RE doing.

    Diana, hi! PITB, how about major migraines. Ya think you have something right, and the work starts all over again

    Lorna, I'm sure Audra is over there penciling in names along with drinking all the coffee and refreshments. Hey, Audra, hold up !!! (this blog makes me so hungry).

    Yep, no matter what you're writing, if you want to be taken seriously, you have to do some serious fact checking. It is fun, though, would you agree?

  39. Why is Tina so smart?

    Does anyone know the answer to this question?

    Mary, would YOU have remembered the plotting board and put it in a link????

    This is why we have a Queen. A sarge. Possibly Major General.

    Some days Commander Queeg.


  40. Gina, good to see you!

    Wendy Marcus, welcome back. Wonderful book, btw.

  41. Hi,Donnell. Congrats on your Debut!Your book sounds exciting!

    When writing my second book, MONTANA DAWN, I was awakened in the middle of the night by a voice in my head saying -- are you sure that’s possible? It was a medical procedure (I’m not in that field) that I hadn’t researched, just took for granted it was the same for people as for horses. LOL Well, it wasn’t! Thank goodness I had time to change it. I still break out into a sweat when I think about it….

    Great seeing you here!

    And, Tina, thanks for the link to the Plotting Board post. I hadn’t seen that one.


  42. Donnell, congratulations on the release of your book. It sounds wonderful! Can't wait to read it.
    Mary ;-)

  43. This comment has been removed by the author.

  44. Caroline, so great to see you, and thanks for stopping by! Oh, don't you love the power of our subconscious that helps us along. I think we need to start a fact checking club; what do you think, Seekerville?

  45. Great post, Donnell. And a worthy subject. My book that finaled in the Daphne's last year has as a main character a cop who lost his hearing in a meth bust. I wrote it in the early part of last decade, and I had him with a pager. Well, technology doesn't stand still, but my book did. Now he texts. I'm sure if it ever sees publication, someone would have caught that.

  46. Welcome to Seekerville, Donnell! Congratulations of your debut book! That's so exciting.

    I write historicals so I never really thought about how things can change so quickly--even as a book is going to press. Technology makes a huge difference.

    In historicals that part isn't so difficult. But in historicals nearly everything has to be researched too. Dates are critical. For example, a new medicine may have been discovered in 1895, but not available for most people until several years later. Yet rich people might be able to get it before the 'common folk.'

    I guess all books require an awful lot of research. Fortunately, I love that.

  47. Hey, Seekerville, may I interrupt your lovely blog for a moment to promote another inspirational, dynamic author, Sandra Orchard.

    Sandra is very dear to me as she took the Overall Daphne Award for Deep Cover her debut book with Steeple Hill. She'll be blogging later in the month with Seekerville, but it you have a moment, will you stop by

    Sandra asks a great question:
    What character trait, quirk, or action in a heroine drives you crazy?

    We debut authors have to stick together! Thanks much! ~ Donnell

  48. Polly, I think we were separated at birth. I'm so glad you checked your facts. It would have haunted you. There's so much beyond our control when our books come out -- at least we can make every attempt to get it right! Thanks for stopping by! :)

    Cara Lynn, oh yes, timelines are critical in historicals as well as verbiage and slang. If certain terms and words weren't used in the timeframe you're writing about, prepare to be contacted by your readers. They know this stuff, what's more they want to make sure you do. Thank so much for your good wishes!

  49. Great post, Donnell. I am a freak about checking facts. In my last book, I had a scene with rattlesnakes and my heroine made the comment that baby rattlesnake were more dangerous because the venom is so concentrated. (I've hard this all my life.) Come to find out this is a myth. I was glad I had double-checked.

  50. Donnell,

    We're so glad to have you guest blog in Seekerville.

    I love BelleBooks! The gals who started the publishing company--all delightful Southern belles--are part of my GA RWA chapter. Well, other than Deb Dixon. She's a Memphis native. The group has made a name for themselves, and the books they publish are first rate! Congrats!

    Your book sounds like a Must Read!

  51. Donnell, congratulations on your release! And great post about going back to recheck those facts--something I might not have thought to do (but will from here on out). Thanks!

  52. Oh, Liz, you bring up another great point. I mentioned the Internet and Wikipedia, but Old Wives Tales. Believing them accurate is a critical mistake an author must never make. So glad you rechecked that. Now, I'm thinking the same thing... I've heard that a baby black widow (which are yellow by the way -- have a yellow hourglass etc.) are more deadly than a full grown spider. Wonder if that's true. I'm gonna go check

  53. Debby, so nice of Audra, and the rest of you at Seekerville to host me. I'm STILL waiting for my coffee by the way, Audra

    BelleBooks is an amazing company. I know Debra Dixon said they paid me to say that, but, I have a mind of my own, as many, many people unfortunately will confirm. Deb Smith said that Debra Dixon wears the "smart beanie hat." Gotta say she does. I heard about Debra Dixon and Deb Smith in 2001 when I first started writing. Their names were whispered in hushed breaths LOL. And believe it or not, I heard their names in Memphis, when I was a finalist for Duel on the Delta. Pretty cool, huh?

    Thanks for the warm welcome.

  54. Tina, hi there: I happen to know you check your facts :) You can't be a finalist in so many contests without knowing your stuff. Thank you for stopping by!

  55. Hi Donnell:

    Research Rocks:
    as Clearasil
    for writer’s block.

    Sorry, I couldn’t help myself but, you know, in the end, ‘research’ is the procrastinator’s best friend. My problem with research is that it is way more fun than the business of writing. : )

    Now for the important question:

    Will “The Past Came Hunting” come out as an eBook so I can make the type large enough to read? Please say yes!


  56. Donnell, I'm so excited for you. It's a good thing to fact check. I'll have to do some for my short story. Luckily I have a go-to person in our GIAM group.

  57. Hi, ya, Vince, and don't make me come over there and get you for procrastinating :) It's a fine line. We discussed this on Guppies yesterday (Sisters in Crime) and they said when there writing along they insert {check this} and keep writing. That's an invaluable thing to do so you don't stop. Muses insist upon a steady diet of writing. Love your Clearasil analogy.

    Yes, "The Past Came Hunting" will come out in both print and digital.

    That's the link, and I see that Bell Bridge even put up a sample chapter (gasp). This feels so surreal to me. Thanks for commenting, Vince. Get back to writing! :)

  58. Edie, thank you! Ah, another great comment. "Go-to" people. Every author needs a "go to" person. I keep my "go-to" people tied up in my closet. Okay, I did that just for the mystery and suspense folks reading. I keep them on speed dial.

    Thanks, Edie!

  59. well, that's the nice part of writing fiction. You can put a prison anywhere. :)

    I found the name of town in Texas that I just love..Dripping Springs, except it isn't located where I need it to be. So I'm moving it across Texas close to Dallas.

    Best of luck with you book, Donnell. You're worked so hard for this. Enjoy it!

  60. Hi Donnell,

    Your debut novel sounds like a winner!

    What a great catch to find the prison you used had closed. I usually double then triple check my research. I hate when I'm reading a book and find something inaccurate. It can ruin a great story. So, the last thing I'd want is to be called out on something like that.

    Good luck with your novel!


  61. SUPER post - thanks, Donnell! That book sounds scrumptious - please enter me :)

  62. Donnell - great post! Being detail oriented is a must for a writer! Can't wait to get my hands on your debut novel! Yahoo!!


  63. Hi Donnell--wonderful post! I love the cover and title, and the blurb makes me want to run out right now and get the book. I'm pre-ordering it today! I fell in love with this story on the way to the CB Writers Conference, then back to the airport, then on to Gunnison, then almost to Montrose, then back to CB. Can't wait to read it! CONGRATS to a great writer!

  64. Great "debut" post. So excited about your book coming out! Love the title. I must confess that I got around the "facts" by creating a fictional town in the region where my story takes place. But yes, I've had a few "fact checking" questions from editors. One couldn't believe we had coyotes and beaches within the same vicinity. :) Looking forward to reading your book!

  65. I do the "check this" thing, too...

    Rather than stop the momentum.

    Or ????????????

    Because I can check little things when there are others around. I like to write when things are quiet.

    Hey, leaving a fresh tray of Heath bar/chocolate chip cookies and fresh tea.

    Coffee's been freshened and a cooler of cokes is to your left.

  66. Wow... I wouldn't have thought that you would need to recheck things, but that makes so much sense. The Katrina example (while sad to remember) was brilliant.

  67. Donnell, first I have to say I can't wait until your book comes out. Your advice regarding research is right on the mark. I love to research, but I do have to be careful not to let it bog me down or keep me from actually writing. Because of the cyber highway, we have much information at our fingertips that sometimes it's easy to forget the source isn't always the most reliable. Checking and's all we can do.
    Thanks, Audra, for having Donnell.

  68. Donnell, I'm so excited for you. The Past Came Hunting sounds like a great read, and I can't wait until September 15.

    I had to tweak my manuscript because of replaced bridges, businesses closed, and a host of other changes that would have dated the story. Time doesn't stand still for the story, does it?

    Great blog!

  69. Donnell, you are so right on about rechecking facts!

    Something very similar happened with my novel Autumn Rains. The original version was written pre-9/11, but when the book was finally accepted for publication, I had to rethink a scene involving passenger lockers in a bus station, since after 9/11 public lockers were removed.

    Then, because my editor wanted the story set in Missouri instead of Texas, I had to change my setting to the St. Louis Greyhound Bus Station and research details about that area.

    THEN, by the time I received my edits, I made another discovery. Instead of the old Greyhound station, buses now used the brand new St. Louis Gateway Transportation Center.

    Thankfully, these details were caught in time to make changes before the book made it into print. But there's not much you can do about unpredictable events like hurricanes, earthquakes, etc., that could occur right up to the time your novel releases and suddenly change EVERYTHING!

  70. Ruth, I love you, Commander Queeg. Hysterical. And Heath bars... Ahem, I just gained five pounds!

    Cyndi, I love that you can pick up a fictitious town and relocate it to where you need it. Did you know there's a Diamond, Texas 200 miles east of El Paso? Well, if there isn't there ought to be. It's in a book I'm editing right now... Buried Agendas ;)

    Kirsten, thank you for your nice comment. Fact checking can also apply to body movements. Have you ever noticed someone entering a room only to have him rising from a chair in the next paragraphs or so.

    This applies to some covers too, would you agree? Several of the authors I know their characters on the cover look nothing like the characters inside the book... Can you say... distracting?

  71. You're entered Joanne, Scrumptious --- wow... you get a yay, yay, yay, on that one. Thank you!

    Hi, Lana, you unknown blogger, you. Thanks for checking in... Better get everyone geared up to make plotting boards (gasp).

    I'll be back in a bit, gang, doc appt. the nerve to interrupt our fun discussion!

  72. Most of my writing is historical, but I'm not one that loves research. I'd love to vistit ghost towns and that sort of thing, but internet research loses it's appeal.

    One time I tried to find the right word for chamber pot in the the American West 1870's. Chamber pot should be from Europe. Privy? Someone told me just pot was fine or slop pot. (I thought slop pot was what you threw your leftover food to feed to the pigs.)I'm sure there are several historical authors who know the answer.

    I'd love to win your book. The plot sounds intriguing.

    Connie Queen

  73. Most of my writing is historical, but I'm not one that loves research. I'd love to vistit ghost towns and that sort of thing, but internet research loses it's appeal.

    One time I tried to find the right word for chamber pot in the the American West 1870's. Chamber pot should be from Europe. Privy? Someone told me just pot was fine or slop pot. (I thought slop pot was what you threw your leftover food to feed to the pigs.)I'm sure there are several historical authors who know the answer.

    I'd love to win your book. The plot sounds intriguing.

    Connie Queen

  74. Hi Donnell, here's the fact checking episode that came to mind first for me.

    In Petticoat Ranch I have a scene with a really dreadful cook serving a really dreadful huckleberry pie. This is in West Texas in a really rugged area.

    So, the book is finished and turned in and one of the revision notes said, "I can't find any evidence that huckleberries grew in this rugged area. Please check."

    Okay, well, I did check. I mean why'd I used huckleberries to begin with? Not really your usual choice. And if not a huckleberry pie than what kind? And what is a huckleberry anyway?

    So I did way way way too much hunting online and no evidence of huckleberries growing in this region though I was SURE I picked huckleberries because I researched the area and found them.

    So what to do? What kind of pie?
    It's not important, they could be eating anything. I'm spending way to much time on this tiny exchange that has little to do with the story, what they're talking about while they eat is important, but not the pie.

    In the end what I did was have the sheriff say, "You can thank me now for not letting you order pie."

    Clay says, "I've never had a pie I didn't like."

    The sheriff: "She says it's a huckleberry pie but have you ever seen a huckleberry growing around here?"

    Clay says, "No, but I haven't been in the area that long."

    The sheriff says, "One time while I was eating her pie I found a button in it. I showed it to her and she sat down at the table and sewed it back on her boot right in front of me."

    Clay: "I'll just go ahead and thank you for not letting me order any pie."

  75. So glad to see you have the gang well in hand, Donnell! I'm sneaking in a peek at work and am so jealous I can't play with y'all today.

    Glad to hear The Past Came Hunting will be available in digital. So convenient.

    I'll be back, Donnell. Carry on!

  76. Mary, LOL! Now that's another aspect of research and what to do with faux paxs!!!

  77. Hi, Donnell! I am a stickler for getting my facts straight too. For my debut novel, The Healer's Apprentice, I had three years to check and double check my medieval facts. That's how long it took me to find a publisher, and that's how long I revised and re-revised that book. But with my second book now gone to the printer, I am so scared I missed something, some glaring error that my editor and I somehow missed.

    That's the terrifying part about being a writer. Once it goes to the printer, it's permanent. Like a tattoo or ... implants of one kind or another. And frankly, the thought of getting a tattoo was always way too permanent for me. Yikes. I guess I'm a little commitment-phobic.

    Anyway, congratulations, Donnell, on your debut!!! I hope it sells beyond anyone's expectations! Enjoy the thrill.

  78. LOL! I am cracking up at myself talking about tattoos and implants. Thinking about deleting that comment!!! You guys are all thinking "TMI."
    It's been a long week!!!

  79. Hey, Donnell, as Vince said, research is a great word for procrastinating sometimes. And I am definitely working hard NOT to write new words on a manuscript with a deadline. LOL

    Anyway, I researched your baby black widow thing and here's what I found:

    Baby Black Widows turn into adults in two or three months, when baby Spiders are born they can not bite.

    I also learned that the mother lays about a hundred eggs and the babies eat other to survive. YUK! Talk about survival of the fittest.

  80. Donnell, I'm so excited about your debut novel. Congratulations!!

    I love research, but it can bog me down. Right now, I'm researching MMA fighting. Love it, but if I can't get the feel of a move on paper, then I'm not going to be happy.

  81. Mary, I remember that scene in Petticoat Ranch- it cracked me up! Loved hearing the story behind it!

    Right now I'm wrestling with a building that I want to use, but it wasn't built until two years after the setting of my story. Do the characters talk about the proposed building? Do I just forget about it? A building isn't as easy to deal with as huckleberries.

    Maybe I should just shoot it.

  82. Donnell, LOL, so true. I have read, and sadly written scenes like the man walks through the door only to push back from the table.

    I read a series once where in the first book the heroine had deep brown eyes. In the second book she had the bluest eyes they'd ever seen. Drove me nuts.
    : o)


  83. "When it comes to your writing, or when you’re reading a book, do you check and double check your facts? Have any of you experienced, like me, a passage of time that led you to update your manuscript?"

    I do check my facts. Most of the time. And, yes. When I went to Pigeon Forge, TN after Christmas, I had to go back and update a few things. Pigeon has grown unbelievably since 2004.


  84. Hi Donnell! Thanks for being with us today, and thank you for all your help last year with the Daphnes. You truly went above and beyond.

    I'm not surprised that you also go above and beyond on your research. I'm an accuracy nerd and when authors don't double-check facts about something or some place I know well it drives me berserk!

    Congratulations on your debut! I'm very much looking forward to reading it, and wish you much success! You deserve it!

  85. Holy smokes, Seekerville is a busy blog. Well got my new orthotics --- ouch walking was getting painful & now ... I have to go clean up a present a bear left me ... in my driveway. I have an acre of grass and the bear goes in the driveway...

    But I digress....

    Hello, Ms. Kaki, you RITA winner you! Thank you so much for preordering. You're a doll, and a genius, but don't tell anybody because I've decided that you and I are going to do a blog -- you'll love the topic... tour guides... I'll get in touch with you soon. Thanks for stopping by!

  86. Sandra, hello, my debut sister! coyotes on the beach. Well, it's a Canadian beach, right? So that would make sense. And have you ever heard of one coyote? I sure haven't. Shifty-eyed, vicious critters that travel in packs. You're going to do fabulous on your debut novel!!!

    Nancy, thanks for commenting. Yes, research for some can be the bane of our existence. But it feels soooo good when you get it right.

    June, thank you! I love it when people tell me I've done something right on the mark.... Wait. I think this is the first time anyone's EVER told me I was right on the mark. I'm framing your comment. Thank you for sharing in my excitement! Yep, fine line between bogged down with research and writer's block isn't it?

  87. Susan! Wow, we can talk about research on a blog and not on a phone. How cool! Ya know, the economy in addition to Katrina can be a real roadblock to accurate research. Take my future DIL's GPS device -- well don't, we need it trust me-- we drove around looking for a restaurant that was no longer in business. But clear as day, it said it was their on the GPS device.

    Not only writers, but manufacturers of such products constantly have to be updating; can you imagine? Thanks for being here, Susan!

    Myra: Wow, you are an example of professionalism and the necessity of being flexible. Not only 9/11 but relocating a town... That's a huge amount of research in itself. I bet you had to lie down several times with a cold rag and an aspirin on that one. Thanks for commenting and letting me know I'm not the only one!

    Connie, you're entered. I wish I knew the answer to your pot question ;) but you bring up a great point. Research in person. You just can't beat it for accuracy. I visited Seattle when my daughter first moved there. There was a man by the name of John Crapper and he invented ... you guessed it... the crapper :) Okay, hope Seekerville doesn't kick me off. It's a true story!

  88. Mary: LOL. Your solution to huckleberry was brilliant IMO. Talk about incorporating humor and characterization into your research. I'm still laughing at your solution! And I'm very familiar with West Texas. I was born in Lubbock and my family is all over that great state. Thanks for your wonderful example!

    Audra, we're lonely. :) And hungry :)))) I'm having a blast--thanks for inviting me.

    Melanie D. Oh, gosh, I'm smiling at your example. But you know thanks to digital, those tattoos and implants can be surgically removed with a delete key these days. That's the good news. For books not so much. Thanks so much for your well wishes.

  89. Liz! You're hired. I had scribbled a note to check that fact about black widows. You saved me some time.... Not that I'm going to call you on the fact you're on deadline! ;) Yes, research can definitely be absorbing. How... much to you charge for research :)

    Shea, thank you for being here. Oh, no, I can see it now around your house. There's going to be some hysterical reenactments going on and a lot of fun! That would make a great blog post!

    Jan, I think that would add a richness to your book, if you mention a building in progress. I can see the knowing smiles on your readers' faces. Very good idea!

  90. Hi Donnell! Congrats on A Past Came Hunting. What a great cover!!

    I'm a nut about fact checking too. Especially for my Super Agent series, which deals with spies and the CIA. I have sources, but also use a wide variety of nonfiction books, maps, videos, etc. I triple check everything and never leave it up to the editors. I'm the writer and that's my responsibility.

    Once I caught a scenerio in I'd Rather Be In Paris while going through first rounds edits with my editor that I knew had be changed. I'd watched a Mythbusters show about exploding gas tanks and that show completely *blew* my scenerio, so it was back to the keyboard and a rewrite so the gas tank explosion in the scene could have happened in real life.

    I'm often asked by readers if I'm a CIA agent. I assure you, I'm not. Hehehe. But that's the best kind of praise a writer like me can get. Doing your research is all part of the craft.

    Great blog post and here's to many sales!

  91. EC, what lovely things to say. I assure you, coordinating the Daphne was a labor of love, and how could I not have fun doing it with so many wonderful people like you letting me know it was appreciated.

    You know, I never considered myself a research nerd, but it aptly fits. Good call! Thanks so much for your great wishes!

    Misty.... you're NOT a CIA agent? Since when. I know this woman does her research. She never stops. We even had to figure out where to land a Learjet I think it was. Thanks so much for being here today and for your compliments. Back at ya!

  92. Hi Donnell:

    I’m not sure if this qualifies as research, but I just have to share it. (Please note: per your instructions I’ve already completed two hours of writing this morning).

    I just downloaded the Kindle version of Julie Lessman’s, “A Heart Revealed”, and on the first page is the cover artwork and then on the second page is this big headline:

    Start Reading

    Why bother with a hook? Just order the readers to read your book!


    I’m still laughing.

    Why didn’t I think of that?

    OK, now back to writing.


  93. Love it, Vince. Wellll, Julie is so cute and talented, maybe she can get away without a blurb. I need one LOL. Too funny!

  94. It's been fun catching up on all the comments and questions. Lots of research going on : )

    Donnell, do you think there is a danger for fallout from residents in using a real place if you don't get all the facts right about someone's town or region?

  95. Hello, Seekerville! Always nice to stop by here.

    Audra - thanks for bringing us Donnell.

    Donnell - congrats on the debut and the fabulous cover!

    Great topic today.

    I agree with Cynthia about making stuff up. LOL

    But Mary and the huckleberries reminded me...

    One of the things I hit it lucky with in my most recent book was *not* mentioning a saguaro cactus in my New Mexico setting.

    Because they don't grow there.

    And an astute reader with a crazy need for fact checking (ahem ) already knew that.


  96. Audra, wrote:

    Donnell, do you think there is a danger for fallout from residents in using a real place if you don't get all the facts right about someone's town or region?

    Audra, you know that's a great question -- I'll let you know (gasp.) Perhaps one of Seekerville's well-established authors might chime in on this one.

    I'll let you know my limited thoughts on the subject. I think people love to read about places that are real because they feel a connection. That being said, you have to be careful that you don't disparage the city, and places you mention.

    Public places, such as the prisons I talk about, schools, hospitals etc. are public domain -- but nothing bad really happens in them in my book.

    I do make up some fictitious places that people in Colorado Springs might say... that doesn't exist, but that's fiction for you and creative license.

    In Deadly Recall, currently under consideration from Bell Bridge, I have a murder in a hospital. I make up the hospital even though the setting is in Albuquerque. I love placing books in real places, obviously.

    I'd like to know that answer, too, Audra. Seekerville? :)

  97. Barbara!!! Ah, one of my favorite authors and people to interview. Ahem, I assume you're speaking about me? Yes, it's just bizarre. It's like Mother Nature drew a line between Arizona and New Mexico and said, "No saguaro cactus beyond this point." And they're so beautiful, too, what a shame.

    Barbara did a beautiful job placing "A Rancher's Pride," in New Mexico. She gets an A+ in fact checking.

  98. Jan, I so hear you when you fence yourself into a time frame and research tells you NO WAY.

    The third book in the Lassoed in Texas series, Gingham Mountain, I needed....
    1) Oil
    2) A Railroad
    3) A mountain

    I had the book mostly written when I realized I'd picked a spot that was utterly flat. Now how did I do that, huh? HUH!!!???
    No mountain anywhere possible in this place.

    It was crazy hard to pick a spot. Train lines were NOT everywhere. I guess I could fake the oil but I needed a mountainous region (or at least bluffs, I had a kid who needed to fall nearly to his death and of course the TITLE has the word Mountain in it.

    I worked waaaaaay to long on that, too.

  99. Hi, Barbara. Uhoh. I maybe have used a saguaro cactus in a setting in New Mexico.

    I'm afraid to go look.

  100. Mary, it happens. Ken Follett used a make and model of a car in one of his novels that wasn't in existence at the time.

    Daniel Silva talked about an error he made in Portrait of a Spy that he said would have to be corrected in the digital version.

    It happens. :) We do the best we can with the information we have at the current time.

  101. So excited about your release, Donnell!!

  102. Thanks, Maureen! :)))) Thanks for stopping by.

  103. Donnell - you are too sweet.

    And yes (ahem), I meant you. I keep forgetting not to use emoticons with brackets. (grin)

    It *is* a shame about the saguaros. But I don't want to mess with Mother Nature!


  104. Mary - oops.

    But it can happen to all of us. And it's nice to know I'm in good company! ;)


  105. Hi Donnell and Audra,

    Somedays I think research takes over! Little writing is accomplished, but I love the feeling, like you Donnell, that I caught a potentially HUGE mistake, like using a Sheriff's Department, instead of a Police Department.


    Best of luck on your debut release.

    And just a tidbit to whet all the readers of Seekerville's appetite, I'll be interviewing Donnell over at Five Scribes SOON. I'll let Audra post here when I post there ;)

    Leslie Ann aka LA of the Scribes

  106. Yay, yay, Yay! Thanks, LA. I keep saying that a LOT :) Hugs,

  107. Getting over to Seekerville later than usual. Still wanted to wish Donnell success on her debut releasing this month. I write historicals. I love research but confess many times I'm just stalling and using this as a reason or rather excuse for not getting down to writing my story. Once a veteran of a particular military campaign questioned my info in a novel I was working on, and sure enough he was correct. I should be surprised. So glad I ran that before him. If it's ok I'd like to request the first 5 page critique for this week. Many thanks.

  108. Pat Jeanne, thank you! How great that there's a critique group on Seekerville. You did something that a lot of published authors would like to do... ask an expert to read her work. That's good and bad. Because we're writing fiction, and chances are if we're, say, writing an FBI agent there's going to be a lot of monotonous stuff we don't put in the book. Experts don't always get that. Again, it's a fine line!

    Thanks again for commenting and best wishes with your historicals.

  109. Great blog today. Check your facts, ma'am!

    And I have to comment on this:

    Ruthy said, "Coffee's been freshened and a cooler of cokes is to your left."

    So, Ruthy, is that real COKES, or cokes like you would get if a Southerner offered someone a coke?

    Just wondering....

  110. Hi, Pam, thanks. Another fact check. Ruth, is it Coke (trademark) or for those in the South, I'd like a coke (generically speaking)

  111. Donnell, I just read about the bear mooning you on your driveway!!!


    Never mind how rude that was, but the fact that nobody even blinked an eye that you had BEAR ON YOUR DRIVEWAY boggles my mind.

  112. Donnell, Ruthy's probably laughing at us. Since she didn't capitalize it, she probably does mean cokes (generically speaking).

    She's always wanted to be a Southern Belle anyway.

  113. For anyone who wants to see bears in my area, e-mail me at and I'll send you a mama and her three little cubs :)

  114. Cokes? cokes? Soda? Pop? I use Pop all the time. Can get really confusing if, say, someone from Colorado offers someone from the south a Pop and they say yes, I'd like a coke. Would you get them a Coke specifically then?

    Hmmm, I can see I missed some fun today. Glad you're having a good time in Seekerville, Donnell. I need to catch up on some comments. I'll be back...

  115. Congratulations!
    Your cover is great!!

    Please enter me in the draw. I would love to win in.


  116. Hey Donnell. I honor of you working so hard today, I'm brewing a pot of special dark roast with a hint of Southern Pecan. Mmmm. Sorry I left you parched all day...I'll try to make it up to you.

    No coffee you say, this late in the day? (Gosh, I sound like Vince) How about a hot chocolate concoction with Irish creme and dark chocolate?

    <> What an awful hostess I am!

    For a late day snack, how about pineapple sherbet with chocolate sauce? Yumbola! Plenty to go around. Don't be shy everyone.

  117. Waving to Sandra Orchard! Don't you just love great debut authors?

    I had the honor of meeting Sandra at the ACFW conference last year in Indy. We talked across a table during the Love Inspired dinner in a very loud restaurant. I think we were both hoarse by the end of the meal : )

    Deep Cover is releasing NOW. Is this cool or what?

  118. LOL, Melanie! You consider tattoos permanent but not implants?

    Wow, they sure do things different down south. Here, have a coke.

    Mel, when's the next book coming out?

  119. Donnell, thanks for playing in Seekerville today. It's been fun.

    Remember to check the Weekend Edition on Sunday to see who's the lucky recipient of Donnell's debut book, The Past Came Hunting!

  120. Waving back, Audra! Thanks Donnell and Audra for the mention :) It's super-exciting!

  121. Seekerville & Audra, thanks so much for having me! I hope none of your pasts come hunting.

    Blessing to you and yours!

  122. In my WIP I have created a fictional town. I figured no one could 'call me out' for getting it wrong. When I read a novel, if it is based in a city that I am familiar with I do pay closer attention to the facts about the town. I read a book this past year that started out in my hometown of Riverside California a few years before I was born. The author was so exact in her streets in information that I was blown away. Her entire book blew me away with the detail she used.

    Ooh, The Past Came Hunting sounds like a book I have to read! Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.


  123. DONNELL AND AUDRA!!! PLEASE forgive me for my tardiness ... I had a book release yesterday and the one prior given away free on Kindle and Nook, so my head is spinning.

    BUT ... LOVED your blog, Donnell, and I'm one of those gals who almost got up to leave because the word "research" sends me skittering faster than roaches in a lit room.

    Despite my aversion, I have learned the hard way to CHECK and RECHECK my facts because on my debut book, like you, my plot almost tumbled like a house of cards in a windstorm because I got one little fact wrong. Who knew German U-boat warfare started months before my Irish family was to sail from Boston to Dublin??? I thought I'd cleared the dates, but uh ... no. And what are the chances that my editor would be married to an Irish historian???? Yep ... that's who caught the error, upon which the ENTIRE book rested.

    Needless to say, I sobbed and begged God for a resolution and He gave it when a friend of mine said: "Julie, I was just reading that freighter ships were forced to sail in convoys during WWI due to u-boat warfare. VOILA!! I gave my heroine's mother a breakdown that forced my heroine's father to beg his cousin who owned a freighting company to take his family over. Incidents of sinking were reduced to 3% in convoys. My editor said "fine," and I was off the hook.

    BUT ... I learned my lesson BIG TIME!! And, yes, I had less hair and palsy after that as well ... :)

    Your book looks GREAT, and I wish you the very best, Donnell.


  124. I'm way late! I never did get back here yesterday, Donnell. I'm sorry! I really enjoyed your post. I had the same thing happen. By the time I wrote a story and got it published, my fictional town had become the name of a real developed community! :)

  125. Hi Donnell,

    I enjoyed your comments about the importance of research...those pesky details that make a difference.

    Good luck with your debut! I'm behind you and will have it on my Nook next week.


  126. I really enjoyed your post and your wonderful sense of humor. I'm with you the research thing. Vital.

  127. Donnell, my only problem with research is getting too caught up with what I'm reading to stop and write! *laugh*

  128. Oh, my gosh, there are still comments! Seekerville, you are an amazing, supportive blog!

    Cindy W. Amazing about that author's precision. The problem with that is in my mind, if she makes a mistake... ideally she didn't. I have fictitious places intermixed with real places, because bad things happen ;) Thanks for the comments!

    Julie! Congratulations on your book release! Authors, we need to have you on Get Lost in a Story when this happens! I know, Julie, aren't you glad I made you get back in your chair :) What's great about fact checking is that once you know, like so many of the talented authors did here, you can explain/work your way around it. Best wishes on your release, Julie!

    Missy! That's just rude! :) Not that you didn't hang out with me the entire day LOL, Rude that in the space of time your book was published your fictional town turned into a real community! Talk about an accurate, vivid, psychic muse... I sure appreciate you coming back to check on Audra and me. She's the hostest with the mostest!

    Jean, you always have my back, thank you. It's reciprocal, girl friend, thank you!

    Beth, thank you! My sense of humor is to put it mildly corny. :) Thanks for getting it and stopping by!

    Yep, Abigail, I can see that happening, but it has to be fascinating research, would you agree. Some of it can be as interesting as dried toast. You rock! Now get to writing!

    Thanks everyone!!!!

  129. Hi, Donnell and Audra. Research is such a fascinating topic, I think. I often find myself starting to research one topic only to meander off to another one!

    Donnell, I had a similar thing happen in my debut book. I'd taken classes at the local university to get my facts about DNA and forensics straight, but suddenly, cutting edge stuff became old hat between the time of writing my book until it's publication.

    Super congrats on your debut release. I can't wait to read this one, sounds like a fascinating premise!

  130. Thank you, Jo. Oh, gosh, forensics. Don't blink. You'll never revised fast enough

  131. Oh man! Now I'm dying to read The Past Came Hunting! It sounds absolutely fantastic!