Friday, June 15, 2012

Welcome Cara Putman Today on Seekerville

Writing is a journey. One I love because I am absolutely convinced I will never arrive. There is always room to grow and push myself to be a better writer.
Because I’m also an attorney and a history enthusiast, one area I often get “sidetracked” on is research. As I wrote Stars in the Night, my 2010 World War II novel filled with Hollywood stars and murder, my husband often asked if I was actually writing. It seemed every time he looked at my computer, I was on the internet researching something. That book had settings across the U.S. plus the added challenge of finding locations that existed in 1942 and would have been used by Stars raising funds for the war. Occasionally I did get side-tracked – like when I learned the hotel I used in Atlanta was also the site of the deadliest hotel fire in U.S. history.

This year my books have been set in Washington, D.C., Mackinac Island, and Lake Ozarks. Here are a few things I’ve learned as I dove into the research to make the books as accurate and compelling as possible.
Mackinac Island
1)     Don’t assume you’ve done enough research – even when you’ve visited the location multiple times. When I had the idea for A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island, we hopped in the car and returned to the island. It’s a wonderful place to escape from the pressures of life and slow-down. As my husband and kids toured Fort Mackinac, I spent time with the chief of police asking how he’d handle a murder. Even with the time on the island, as I was writing, I realized there were details I was certain about. Since the island doesn’t have mechanized vehicles, I was ready to write a scene with a horse-drawn ambulance. Just to be sure I called the local clinic…thankfully, the doctor let me know the ambulance is fully motorized.
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2     2) Even when you set a book in a setting you know intimately, be flexible and keep digging.  For Cherry Blossom Capers, my co-authors and I quickly decided to set the novella collection in Washington, D.C. From there it was simple to have the main characters be neighbors in a neighborhood that closely mirrors the one my husband and I had lived in. I sent lots of photos and links to my co-authors to give them a feel for Fairlington Village. My heroine’s townhouse is the one I lived in there…but we changed the name of the community so we could deviate where needed for the sake of story. I also needed a court for my characters to interact in…since I lived near Old Town Alexandria, I was all set to use the building off King Street…only to find as I researched that the court I actually needed is a modern building a mile or so out of Old Town. Moral? Keep digging and never assume that what you remember is the way things are today.
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3)     Talk to lots of people if you’re writing about something you’ve never done. For Rainbow’s End, the connection is that each story takes place around a geo-caching competition. I’ve always thought that geo-caching sounds like fun…what’s not to like about a modern treasure hunt? But I still haven’t actually gone on one. Yet, that was a critical piece of the novellas and I knew if I didn’t get it right, I’d hear about it from readers. I talked to friends who’d done it and loved it. I asked people to read the book checking my details to make sure I got it right.  I did the same thing when a book centered around baseball – not my sport. I’ve found if I talk to enough people, I will find people who are experts on an area. They love to share their knowledge. If I ask the right questions, then I know I’ll get the details right and the readers won’t be distracted.
If you are a reader, have you read books that you knew had a problem with facts or setting? Did you keep reading? If you’re a writer, what tips do you have to share on getting the research right? And if you’d like a chance to read one of my 2012 releases, leave a comment stating which you’re interested in.
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Three winners today! Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for a copy of Cherry Blossom Capers, A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island, and Rainbow's End.
Cara C. Putman lives in Indiana with her husband and four children. She’s an attorney, teacher at her church, and contract lecturer or adjunct faculty at a local community college and Big Ten University. She has loved reading and writing from a young age and now realizes it was all training for writing books. An honors graduate of the University of Nebraska and George Mason University School of Law, Cara loves bringing history and romance to life.  You can learn more about Cara and her books on her website, Facebook, twitter, and pinterest.


  1. Cara, great to see you in Seekerville.

    When researching specific activities (like geo-caching), have you ever found any specific group to be a little hard to get details out of?

  2. CARA!!!!! So good to 'see' you!

    I'd love a chance to win the Geocacheing one - I have the others.

    Plus it's near me :D.

    I'm currently working on a historical but I'm setting it in my town [or a fictionalized version of my town] around the time of it's founding. Saturday I'm going to my town's historical museum [could be interesting... and not in the good research-y way] to see what I can learn and go from there. I have some general ideas from what I've already found online and just know about the area but more details will be great. I may need to go to the 'big city' [yeah, it's got like 150K people in it - huge ;)] and the library there for more research. I probably will...

    In the meantime, though, I'm going to research the insides of my eyelids and wonder how I can use oral surgery on an 8yo in a manuscript... Mine is having 6 teeth pulled in the morning. Prayers much appreciated even though it shouldn't be a big deal at all :).

    There's Panera set out along with Chicken, egg and cheese bagels from Chick-fil-A [gotta leave early enough to get my free one tomorrow!] for breakfast! See ya'll in the mornin'!

  3. What a great post :)

    As a New Zealander, there is very little that irritates us more than writers writing us like we're Australian. It would be the same as us treating Americans and Canadians like they're interchangeable! For the record, no New Zealander says "Gidday mate" unless we're mocking an Australian ;)

    I'd love to be put in the draw for one of the books (e-version so you don't have to post it to the bottom of the earth!)

  4. Hi, Cara...would love to win your novels. Thanks for the chance, and for sharing your research with your readers.

  5. I cut people slack, it's fiction after all, I have never quit reading because I found something wrong.

    1) Because it just makes me feel smarter, who doesn't like to feel smart? and
    2)I could be wrong-- case in point, a contest judge told me something couldn't have happened and gave me a link to a historical website with general info that says it "couldn't", well, I have the actual newspaper article that I fictionalized, so yes it could.

    People are too quick to be offended, put off, ready to jump down each other's throats, judge . . . . ok, I'll stop now it's one of my pet peeves, but really it's a waste of your life to get your panties in a wad over non-life altering things.

    But if you horse drew an ambulance or set your case in the wrong court building and I happened to know those things...I'd shake my head, puff my feather for knowing something you didn't, then if your story was good, I'd keep reading without another thought for it--and I have come across those situations.

    I've never written an author to tell them (see point #2) but I hear that happens. Don't those readers have better things to be doing in life? It's not like the author can change it. Now, if I saw it in a manuscript, of course I'll call you on it, but once it's in print? What does that do that's edifying, really? I guess if they had the right motivation and believed you needed to know that for future books...

    Not that as a writer I don't care to get my research accurate, but I just don't get people who swear off good writers who make mistakes. . . Unless it's like some gargantuan one like saying the American Civil War was fought in 1812 or something. Then I'd assume the author wasn't too bright or careless but most likely they aren't good writers and errors of all kinds would pile up making my suspension of disbelief fly out the window/pull me out of the story.

    But that's just my opinion. I know of people that hold the opposite.

    And I better stop standing on my soapbox here before I write a novel in the comments :)

  6. Great Post Cara

    Research seems daunting to me for some things. I want to write a Biblical novel but I know the research would be extensive. I can't afford to travel, even to a big library. On line is good, Thank goodness for the internet.

    I agree with Melissa. I would probably keep on reading even if there was a mistake, And feel smart, that is always good.

    There is always somebody who thinks it's their job to point out errors and make a big deal about them. That is not my job. I'm glad.

  7. Melissa, if this was facebook I'd click Like on your comment. =)

    Cara, nice to "meet you". =) I LOVE research so I related on getting sidetracked. I'm almost positive your talking about the Winecoff Hotel fire in Atlanta. I have to attend high-rise fire safety training every three years for my day job and it is always one of the fires they talk about.

    Carol, I'll have some of that Panera and will say prayers for your kiddo. I love your confidence, and I'm not a mom, but six teeth sounds like a big deal to me. *hugs*

  8. Welcome back, Cara! Hey, coffee is on and breakfast courtesy of Bruegger's Bagels....

    Try the Italian Parmesan but don't breathe on anyone, 'kay?

    Juice to the right....

    Creamers in the usual spot.

    Cara, I over-the-top love research and it sounds like you do too. I've never been to Mackinac Island. Can you describe it for us? No vehicles... that paints a picture right there!

  9. Kara I, oh my stars, you got to the heart of the matter in one simple sentence.

    Every author should write a book the locals will love and embrace. I remember in A Town Like Alice, when the hero was talking about an abo artist, he said something like, "I've never seen another bloke draw so good, but then, he was drawing his place."

    We need to write as if every town was "our place"...

    New Zealand. Gorgeous. Rugged. And they filmed those amazing Lord of the Rings movies there. Stunning scenery. Hey, grab a fresh bagel when you wake up!

    Carol ouch. Ouch. Ouch. 8 years old and six teeth pulled.

    Ouch. (repetend infinite)

  10. Hi Cara, I read Rainbow end and loved it.
    Yes I have read books that are wrong. one was by a well known American author who had a WW2 book and set some in Australia having Far North Queensland about 2 hours from Sydney by road. it would have been more like 24 hours. I kept reading but it really bugged me. It was like an Aussie writing a book putting New York City 2 hours drive from LA. its a glaring issue.

    Hey Kara not to many Aussies say G'ay mate either. And I know what you mean NZ is alot different from here.

  11. Melissa, I'm with you. I like to get it right but...

    Any author can make a mistake or fictionalize things differently based on his or her research.

    I do remember one book years ago, a book that was in a contest and the hero was running his late parents farm. With over two hundred milking cows, a flock of hens, a herd of sheep, a couple of dogs and his quirk was a squeaky clean house.

    Dave's family is loaded with dairy farmers and the sheer number of cows you need to have 200 milking at once, is crazy big... because you have to be raising new heifers and laying off the very pregnant cows... and then add the other animals, crops, and a clean house????

    And no hired help because he was independent.

    That one made me scowl only because the hero was no longer real. Nor was the setting. Because no one could handle the amount of work to produce a farm like that with no help, right?

    That's the kind of mistake that gives me wrinkles, not the little stuff.

    I love to chat back and forth with readers who want to discuss a point with me... We usually end up being buds and I let them share my M&M's.


  12. Hi Cara! Wonderful post. I'd love to win a copy of Cherry Blossom Capers. I would probably overlook small errors in a book. But if they kept happening, like the hero's eyes kept changing color or their names kept changing, I would put the book down. Things jump out at me and I would be spending my time trying to figure out what the author meant and that would take away from me enjoying the book. I'm a freelance editor, so I catch dates or anything that can be fact-checked before a book is published, but once it is in print, I wouldn't call the author on it. If you want an accurate account of something you need a history book.
    Ruth, hi!! I love M&M's. I agree with your example. If he's taking care of all those animals, how does he have time to keep his house clean? And if this was a romance, when did he have time to leave his farm to meet someone to fall in love? It wears me out thinking about it!

  13. Hi Cara,

    I enjoy researching. I find it can stimulate new ideas and adds to my story beyond the obvious reason I started researching to begin with. I hope that makes sense.

    For now, I'm trying to keep my stories in the places I know best because I'm unpublished. That way I can focus more on studying deep POV, show vs tell, and all the other things I'm trying to learn.

    Thanks for sharing today.

    Please enter me in the drawing for A Wedding Transpires on Mackinaw Island.

    Jackie L.

  14. Quick note then anesthacizing [sp?] the 8yo's inside elbows for when they put the needle in...

    Read [part of] a book that referred to President Lincoln.

    In the summer of 1860.


    Not so much.

    That one really irritated me.

    Also... Yeah I'm ouching too. She needs 4 out now and 2 in the next year [her adult teeth aren't coming in right to push them out] so we decided to do all 6 at once with an oral surgeon rather than 4 then 2 with just novacaine in the dentist's office...

    Off to numb her arms...

  15. Welcome to Seekerville, Cara!!! Congratulations on all of your releases!

    I enjoyed our visits to Mackinac Island. Good to hear the ambulance is motorized. :-) With only boat access to the mainland, the island would be a great setting for crime and emergencies.

    Appreciate the reminder that knowing an area can give a writer a false sense of confidence.

    I'm bugged when an historical writer using words and phrases that didn't exist in the period.

    I'm always impressed with how much you accomplish, Cara! Any tips for handling family, day job and writing?


  16. Carol, praying your child's teeth extraction goes flawlessly. Always amazed how quickly oral surgeons work.


  17. Can I ask where is Mackinac Island Which state? I haven't heard of it before.

  18. Research, research, reseach -- the success of a story all boils down to research.

    My family can relate to yours when you mentioned being on the internet researching something and they think you're just surfin' the 'net, LOL!!

    I've been accused more times than I can count.

    Thanks for joining us today, Cara!

  19. Mackinaw Island sounds like a wonderful summer getaway, and I'm just picturing a wedding there with NO motorized vehicles.

    Fantastic premise!

    But neat that you thought to check with the hospital about the ambulance, though.

    Glad to have you back in Seekerville, Cara!

  20. Okay, Cara, I am completely and utterly impressed over the lengths you go to do your research. I am an armchair research kind of gal, but your blog has me rethinking that!! Would you believe with my sixth book set in Boston coming out in October that I have NEVER been there??? I know, I know, for shame! Well, you pretty much have me convinced I need to make a family vaca out of it for my next series, set in San Fran. So if I do ... my husband thanks you for getting my butt out of the chair!! ;)


  21. Carol--praying for you and your kiddo this morning. I hope all goes well.

    Cara--before I forget, I'd love to be put in the drawing for any one of your books; I haven't read any yet. :) (Is it terrible to admit that?)

    I enjoy researching, but I think I need to come at it with a broader perspective. I'm always so ready to write, that I sometimes do the research with mind for gettting my necessary facts, and forgetting to look for those elements that can take my story deeper. Still so much to learn on this writing journey. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and insight.

  22. Oh, my, CAROL M! Your poor little kid! Guess they have to make room for the permanent teeth to come in, but six at a time! YIKES!

    MELISSA - I'm with you on the cutting authors some slack. People are so quick these days to jump down someone's throat and point out errors--as though they themselves have never made nor will ever make a mistake. I think Christians in particular need to be cautious about doing that. I have never ever written an author to point out a mistake. There's nothing they can do about it once a book is published, so what's the point? To show my superiority? To try to make them feel bad? And the mistake might not have been the author's at all--but their source, their researcher's error or even their copy editor's who changed something after the last time the author saw the "final" galley.

  23. Good morning, Cara and Seekerville!
    The thing that makes me love research, even when I know it's a massive time sink, is that you just never know what tidbit you're going to find that could really shoot you off in a great direction.
    I credit research on different books from giving me that kernel of an idea that led to two more series.
    Which is so exciting, when you read some little thing that ignites that 'what if' gene writer seem to have.

  24. Hi Cara, My favorite part of writing is research. I'm starting in on some really great stuff for my next story.

    Current of Love which is coming out this winter is set on a Mississippi steamboat. We won a trip to New Orleans and decided to take a cruise up the Mississippi from there.

    The research made the cruise so much more fun for me. I interviewed all the staff and they had fun because who doesn't like talking about themselves? LOL

    I also met steamboat captains who helped we through the details of rescue, evacuation, and the dangers of the Mississippi.

    Thanks for coming to Seekerville and sharing.

    Ruthy, pass over one of those bagels. It will go great with my chocolate velvet coffee (which I will share)

  25. Does this mean I need to go back to Paris?!

    My memory is a little fuzzy...

    GREAT points today. Thank you!!!

  26. Walt asked if it was difficult to get geocachers to share details. As one of Cara's co-authors in Rainbow's End, I'd say no. I joined the Ozark Mountain Geocachers grou.p on Facebook, not to get info on geocaching itself (my hubby and I geocache) but for specifics about certain trails and caches in the Osage Beach, Missouri, area. I got all the feedback I could want through the group. They were awesome, and still are. :)

  27. I want the story to be believable. Period.

    If I read something about a place or time period that doesn't ring true, I always assume the author knows something I don't. I'm very forgiving. Except like the example Ruthy gave. It's normally the silly actions of the characters that annoy me, not the details.

    And this is kind of off subject, but Ruthy made me think of it. It's popular now days to have the cowboys/heros loving all over their animals, talking to them, treating them almost like they're human. In my little world of ranchers/farmers, this is unrealistic (except for maybe their dogs). The men who love all over their animals are hobby ranchers w/a small amount of animals. But alas, no romance reader wants to see the hero boot the kitty across the yard for getting under his feet or urge a cow into the headgate with a hotshot.

    CARA,let me say I'm impressed you're a lawyer and still find time to write. Awesome.


  28. I LOVE Research! Maybe that's why my day job is a Research and Genealogy Librarian. You reckon? Reading old newspapers looking for somebody's obituary is time consuming for me because I get sidetracked by all the cool info I find in those old papers. Story ideas galore!

    I ran across a cool bit of history I'd not heard/read before the other day. My current historical WIP opens with a severe winter storm. There was no such storm historically in the area I'm setting my story, so the town is fictionalized. But at the end of the story, my characters visit a "real life" city. When I was researching it, (I've lived two hours away from it most of my life) I found in the year I was planning on using, there was a massive, devastating tornado in that city. I don't think a 70,000 word book can handle two major storms, especially a fictional and an historical one. So, I'm adjusting the year my book is set in. But that not-so-little historical tidbit is going on the back burner, maybe to appear somewhere else.

    MELISSA - I LIKE your comment, too! It was well put, and I agree wholeheartedly!

    And GLYNNA said - "And the mistake might not have been the author's at all--but their source, their researcher's error or even their copy editor's who changed something after the last time the author saw the "final" galley."
    That's true. In my line edits a couple of weeks ago, the copy editor had marked something she saw as an error, but it wasn't. The editor didn't understand the terminology of a rifle my character was using and marked it as a mistake. But my dad is a gunsmith, and I've been using firearms since I was a little girl, so I KNOW my statement was correct. However, to keep from potentially confusing a reader, I modified the "problem" area.

    And just because you find something in one source doesn't make it true/false. My dad has always said, "History is in the eye of the beholder." Meaning - it might not have happened just that way. :-)

  29. Great reminders here, Cara! I'm neck-deep in research for my new post-WWI series I'm working on for Abingdon Press. The stories are set in a town where we've vacationed regularly for the past 25+ years, so I know the contemporary setting pretty well, but I've had to dig deep into what the city was like in 1919-1920.

    And after our vacation there last month, I've already discovered a big change I need to make. A historic hotel where several scenes take place in my first book has been there since the late 1800s. But on this trip I learned it was originally on the OPPOSITE street corner. After it burned down in 1923, it was rebuilt across the street!

  30. Myra, finding that a hotel was on the opposite street are the little things that make a well-researched book great.

  31. Myra, I had a similar issue with the town where I set my first two books. The streets around the courthouse changed names over the years, but finding out exactly when was the problem. A visit to the historical museum produced a map of my time period that proved I had the names right.


  32. I love research! I'm always dragging my hubby to some new place so I can scope it out and get the details accurate.

    So far, I haven't had any problems with researching things. I'm a journalist and know so many different people that do and know about different things that I can always locate someone or someone who knows someone.

    But, also as a journalist, I have gotten some things wrong in my stories and have people contact me all the time about something not being right.

    Most of the time it doesn't have any baring on the story at all and is usually their fault (if I might point out ;)

    But research...LOVE IT!

  33. We're home and she's six teeth lighter... Good thing too I think. Her adult teeth are headed for coming out but they were in the wrong spots so not pushing the babies out at all. You wouldn't believe the roots on those things...

    She's a trooper though! Eating slushie on my bed, watching a movie and on 2 teaspoons of Tylenol with Codeine ;).

    We started talking with another couple in the waiting room [five oral surgeons doing surgery all morning - lots of people there] because I was wearing Cardinal clothes. Turns out she reads LIs. Her neighbor reads them all [it seems], then passes them along. She had one with her by Leann... someone. I forget. But had a lovely convo and gave her my card.

    Got a couple hundred words in before DH got there. Gonna work on some more and research later cuz I'd rather write... ;)

  34. Cara,

    What a coincidence that you're at Seekerville today. A lady I work with was telling me yesterday how she was leaving today for Mackinac Island and I immediately thought about your book! And today - here you are!

    The island sounds wonderful. I'd love to visit someday.

    I'm pretty forgiving with tiny mistakes as well. Just as I hope future readers will be forgiving with me! LOL.

    I'm very impressed that you have time to write so much with a full time job and a young family. You must have triple my energy level.

    I'd love to be entered for the Mackinac Island book, please!

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

    P.S. Good news from the eye specialist that I'm NOT going blind. Whew! Bad news - I have to put up with my sight as is. They can't find any reason for my issues. Oh well. Could be a lot worse!

    Carol - hope you're little one is doing fine after her surgery!

  35. Cara, I am a Washington DC native. Yes, actually born there. I always stump people at parties when we play "get to know you games" and I say I was not born in a state.

    I am writing a historic novel set in DC, based on my pediatrician growing up. I, like you, love discovering the history of a place we all think we know.

    To rein in my research, I write first for an alloted time and then do research for an hour or so away from my desk computer. It doesn't always work out that way but it keeps the pages flowing.

    Today I was reading my family genealogy because I needed some turn of the century events. Thank goodness my grandfather and father were writers! I have details aplenty.

    Ruthy, I thought I was the only one who read or saw A Town Like Alice. Loved that story!!!!

    Carol, been thinking about your poor baby!

    Peace and happy weekend, Julie

  36. Oh, Carol! What a brave little girl! Glad she made it through okay and is enjoying her slushie.

    Julie, it sounds like you have a good system for balancing writing and research. I usually end up interrupting the flow when I absolutely HAVE to find a specific fact RIGHT NOW. I've tried typing XXX or leaving some other notation, but then I'm afraid I'll set up a scene a certain way and then find out later from research that it couldn't have happened that way at all.

  37. Clari, your comment reminds me of a line I used in a ms set in the 1880s.

    One character tells another "It's your call"...but since I have yet to find when the phrase originated, I'm changing it to "it's your decision" because I don't want it to jar readers out of the story if they think of the telephone when they read it.

  38. Hi, Cara!!

    I've written exactly one historical. It took me three hours of research just to get my MCs driving down the road in a 1908 Ford, then pulling over to chat. *sigh* Even then, a judge found a problem because I said it was forest green and they only came in black!!! Toughest thing I ever wrote.

    I'm in love with D.C. right now because Julie Hilton Steele is working on a book set there. It's looooovely! I'm so glad I get the preview! Makes me want to know more about the palces she mentions.

    And Mary Curry just let me read some of her suspense set in Maine and I'm thinking I may have to make a little tour some day! D.C., Maine, Allegheny County... You get the idea.

  39. This comment has been removed by the author.

  40. Praying, Carol!

    Oral surgery is NO fun.


    I had to delete a comment because the error I thought I'd seen was actually RIGHT. I had a weird feeling I should probably check, sicne I'd just posted it here in front of a bunch of writers.

    My way and his/her way are both considered correct.

    And THIS is why I don't write nasty letters to authors (besides the fact that I love authors and would NEVER do that :).

    The only time I stopped reading is when I was enjoying a Michener book on Poland and he kept using the wrong term for women and men (Pani and Pan, respectively).

    But half the time he had it backward, and without a name attached, I couldn't tell who was talking. It was confusing. And there were a few other problems, but that was the one that made me put the book down.

  42. i love research, but i tend to follow bunny trails that take me away from what i was originally researching *sigh* need better focus.

    i would love to have any of the three books in the offering. i'd probably read Rainbow's End first though.

    i don't think i'm knowledgable enough for a lot of book subjects to be able to catch errors - unless they are really glaring. i'd never even think to write the author about the mistake though - i figure there are enough kill-joys in the world who would've already done the deed. i do, however, try to write an author when i've really been touched by her book. my mom taught me that. nothing can ever be wrong with telling someone else something positive.

    thanks for sharing Cara. you've given me some pointers on how to be a better researcher. yay!

  43. Hi Cara!

    I'd love to read the Mackinac Island book! I grew up in Michigan, but never spent as much time on the island as I wanted. Even on our last trip to the UP our budget was too tight to make the trip.


    Research is my thing, and I love reading a well researched book.

    One of my pet peeves, though, is when an author researches one aspect so thoroughly they have to include a unimportant scene in the book just to talk about it, and then three chapters later they make a glaring historical error on another detail.

    It won't make me stop reading the book, but I do start questioning the rest of their research...

    That said, there's an incorrect historical detail in my current book. I hate to leave it in, but the story becomes awkward if I correct it. (A building was in the process of being built when my story takes place - I use it as completed.) That's what happens when you change the time setting of your book to accommodate other historical details.

    Thanks for stopping by, Cara! It's been fun!

  44. Hi Cara! Great topic, and one I think everyone can relate to, in one or another.

    One of my pet peeves is the stereotypical reporter, who is always after the "scoop" and will go to great legnths to get a story. I was a journalist for 7 years, and I can tell you, most of us in the business are doing it just as a job. We're not out to get people, to doublecross a source to get the info we need, to put our safety at risk to make sure the public knows the "truth." There are some out there like that, but most of us regular reporters are doing it, as Nick Nailor in "Thank You for Smoking" says, "to pay the mortgage."

    This is another one, and I find it more in TV than in books: people don't know how to portray Nebraska! (I see you graduated from the University of Nebraska, Cara. Me too! UNK, though you were probably at UNL. But I digress..) I was watching the series premiere of Hell on Wheels last year, and it opens in Council Bluffs, Iowa (just across the Missouri River from Neb.). There were shots of high stone canyons and valleys and tons of trees! The Midwest has NEVER looked like that, especially in the 1870s. It was mainly a flat, vast expanse of prairie.

    OK, I'm done. BTW, Cara, I'd love any of your three books. They all sound great.

  45. I generally overlook a mistake here and there. If I even notice a factual error, it's so small that I'm sometimes now even sure I'm right. :) If it was a glaring error, it might annoy me, but as long as the book is good, I'll keep reading.

    I would love to win a copy of A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island. iblog4books [at] gmail [dot] com

  46. Cara, I agree research is fun and time consuming. The details are so important. All authors make a few mistakes, but if you're not careful then you'll make more than just a few!

  47. Great information today Cara. Thanks.

    Jodie Wolfe

  48. Mary made a great point, though I'm loathe to admit it. Brat.

    Her, not me.

    I was researching for a new series last week, and one little thing tweaked my brain into a whole new book... It was there, right there, the sight of a baby... and I kept dreaming that night about that baby and by morning I had the makings of a whole new avenue.

    Research sparks things within us. And sometimes it's visual, sometimes it's what I'm reading about a town/place/person/thing, but often it's that nudge of the Holy Spirit, the "What If" he puts on our hearts...

    So I'm going to save that baby!!! :) Because it's the right thing to do.

  49. Liar Liar Pants on fire -- Me.
    Up there way up there I said it wasn't my job to point out errors. And remembered I pointed out somebodies mistake right here, just this week. My Bad.

    Okay I don't point them out unless they're really funny.

    I have learned a lot here today thanks, Cara and everybody.

  50. Sandra, I'm just smiling and sighing over that title: Current of Love...

    Although that would work for a totally hot electrician, too! :) Can't wait to see it in book form, kiddo!

    Jenny, Mackinac Island is in Michigan... I'm not sure which side of the state, checking now...Wow, it's in the upper most part of Michigan, where cold winds blow free....

    Gorgeous from the pics, but well up North.

  51. Sally, yes.... It just stretched a good thing too far for me.

    But I love research too, Jennifer! It makes me broaden the scope of my imagination, to see things inside out. Or outside in, right? And I love the flower in your hair! That is a flower, right, honey??? ;)

  52. Deb H., I love your attitude. Gentleness shines through your words. Thank you so much for hangin' with us and posting today!

  53. Mary Cline, I'm laughing!!! Because we all make mistakes, and I get that.

    And when my buddies point them out to me I groan... and sigh... and gnash my teeth like the Maurice Sendak's Wild Things!!!

    But I know that (like was said here) sometimes a copy editor sees something different, and I love that they are so thorough. If they're right, I change things up. And they've caught a couple of timeline errors for me that help a great deal. Sometimes authors are too close to the book.

    But other times it's a regional difference... And I know that when I find a mistake in a book (just read a contest book, and a very important name was wrong three times... When the author changed the name, she/he missed it 3 times, and it was okay the first time, anyone can do it... but time 2 and 3 said to me that maybe he/she should have read their final copy more carefully before letting it go to press.

    I've discovered I need to read it printed out. I missed a few of those things in Small Town Hearts by doing it on the computer.

    So now I print out the whole book and go over it, line by line. You still might not catch everything, but it's easier to catch things when you're not scrolling up and down, right?

  54. Ruthy - that's why I have a laser jet. Costs about a penny per page to print [ink wise anyway - well toner but you know] and print double sided. All my major editing takes place on paper. I'll print at least 3 full copies of the MS just for me and usually another 1-2 for friends who read/comment but prefer hard copies. Got a fabulous deal on it and use it all the time :).

  55. Cara!!! I am so late. Many apologies. Welcome back to Seekerville.

  56. Oh my of my! I love Cara's books and would love to be entered to win any of her books. Thank you for the opportunity.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.


  57. Thanks, Ruthy.

    Yes, it's a flower. My sweet baby girl (who is 14) picked it and said I had to put it in my hair and then she snapped a pic.

    Kids are so darn precious!

  58. I hope I am in on time. Please enter me in your draws!

  59. I can get past any problems with facts or setting so long as the story is engaging & I have a vested interest in the characters.


  60. Cara, I lived and worked on Mackinac Island and am from near that area. I am glad you take to heart the concept of being as accurate as you can. I visit sites multiple times for research and find each visit gives me new information. But when it is a place I haven't lived in, I get this feeling I am missing something. But is it crucial to the story? Many blessings!

  61. Really enjoy your books!have read the rainbow's end and Cherry Blossum Capers!would love to win a Wedding transpires!

  62. Hi, all. So sorry to be late joining the party! I had an asiago roll this morning in honor of the fun! I've been in Berlin and just got back to our apartment in Hannover. I'll be commenting a lot, but wanted to say thanks!

    Ruth asked about Mackinac's a magical place. It feels like you've stepped back in time...until you see people on their smart phones! But it's a small island, with a path all the way around -- a sum total of 8 miles...perfect for a great bike ride. Then there are fudge shops everywhere. My facebook friends helped me name a fudge shop (I'm Not Sharing) and the art studio (Painted Stone). It's a charming place and great escape.

  63. Walt, I've never had people not be helpful. Usually it's more challenging to find the right people. For example, with my WWII novels, it's challenging to get the trains right, but there are online boards where you can pose questions. Those have helped immensely. People love to share what they know.

    Carol, thanks! It's always fun to hang out with you!

    Kara, love your name and would love to visit New Zealand. It's one of the few places my husband hasn't been so we could explore it together!

    Melissa, love your attitude! No matter how hard we try there are chances something will slip by even the most committed editor and author!

    Mary, so true! The research for Biblical fiction would be immense!

  64. Nancy, it was the Winecoff Hotel!

    Ruth, my goal is that Locals will feel like I got and honored their town.

    Sally, I try really hard to get the details like eyes right, but I also have first-readers who are super-good at the details. If I do change, they'll catch it for me.

    Jackie, my first 4 books were set in Nebraska because that's my homestate. I did that so I wouldn't have to worry about the location research. It helps!

    Janet, thanks! Mackinac is fun! And just don't sleep. it helps a lot with getting lots done. :-)

  65. Thanks Cara - great article and such awesome books!

  66. AusJenny: Mackinac Island is on the tip of Michigan -- right at the Upper Peninsula. Good question.

    Thanks for the welcome, Audra and Pam. It's always a blast to be on Seekerville.

    Julie, There is something about being there. The challenge with historicals is being able to envision what it looked like then. Be sure to stop by libraries to get copies of historic maps, etc. And when you're downtown, look at the tops of buildings. You can learn a lot.

    Jeanne, writing is an ever learning process.

    Mary, I love those ah-ha moments. That second when just a little more research pays off in a big way. The hard thing is knowing when to stop...usually when you keep seeing the same information in different resources.

    Sandra, that cruise sounds like a blast!

  67. Connie, you are so right. To farmers, animals are a tool not a pet.

    Clari, love your background. Hope you're not inundated with requests for help.

    Myra, so glad you caught that! Someone would have let you know after the fact LOL

    Jennifer, writing is a GREAT excuse for travel. You never know where and how you'll get inspired.

  68. Sue, I love being busy, but don't work full time for a law firm anymore. I still do legal work, but that would be too much wiht homeschooling and writing. :-)

    Julie, I miss DC...It's a wonderful city.

    Virginia, love it when a book makes me want to visit some place new.

    Deb, bunny trails are my favorites...research always leads to those.

    Jan, it is so hard to leave out details! But it can so bog down a book. A great challenge for research-loving writers!

    Stephanie, I love NE! My homestate. And you're right I went to UNL. There are some really pretty areas, but you're right that a lot of the state is very flat and treeless...

  69. Thanks for the Chance to Win! God Bless!