Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Space. . .The Final Frontier with Guest Elizabeth Goddard

And the rest of the familiar words from Star Trek:

“These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

Let me translate that into the language of writers. Space is a blank page: Your opportunity to boldly go where you’ve never gone before and write what you don’t know with confidence!

When I visited Seekerville this summer, I still lived in Texas. I think I mentioned moving to Louisiana. Well, now I’m here. There’s a swamp right behind my house and I’m getting pressured to try alligator. Not alligator hunting, but alligator on a stick! Sort of like Teriyaki chicken, I think.  I’ll leave the hunting to someone else.

You gotta love these Louisiana folks. I never realized how different the culture could be just three hours away from my home in Texas. But different, it is. 

Just three hours away from East Texas, the food is different, and the people are Deep South warm and friendly. I thought I lived in the south in Texas, but I learned that to these purist Deep South folk, Texas is considered part of the West.

There’s a point to all this. One of the first story ideas I developed into a novel was set on a sugar plantation near a Louisiana bayou. Could I really be authentic with my story if I’ve never lived in Louisiana? 

My post back in June, The Well-Trained Author: Supercharge Your Brain to Generate Great Ideas gave you a few tips on how to keep your idea generator stoked.  If any of those techniques helped, and you came up with an idea list that was several pages long, you might have started to wonder about whether or not you are qualified to write those stories.

Something might be a great idea, but you don’t have a clue about the topic. After all, haven’t you heard repeatedly that you should write what you know? 

Write what you know.

Write what you know.

Writing gurus and publishing authorities will give you this advice. But I beg to differ.
Think about some of the most prolific best-selling authors you know. The ones you see on display at the grocery store check-out line. One author I can think of is so prolific, she writes under two names. She can’t possibly have experienced everything she writes about, can she? 

No how. No way.

Still, the publishing authorities are correct to a degree. For instance, I wouldn’t want to write a legal thriller or a medical thriller without some background. But there’s another side to that. I’ve read a few books written by people who are “experts” or have experience in a particular field and that doesn’t necessarily mean they know how to write a great novel.  I’ve been disappointed by novelists with experience in their field plenty of times.

One of the reasons I enjoy writing to begin with is that I can live vicariously through my characters—characters  that have awesome adventures that I would never be able to experience in real life. 

As writers, the most important thing we can do is give the reader the experience of being there, and especially if that reader is someone who lives in the setting, or who has already experienced what you’re writing about. There’s nothing better than hearing that you’ve portrayed something accurately. 

If you can visit the setting in person and spend time there as part of your research, then all the better. But let me add that you can grow up in a town and still hear complaints that you got the town wrong. Think about it. Five different witnesses to an accident will remember it differently. We’re all different people, so our experiences and memories and, most importantly, perspectives are different. 

I have an author friend who created a fictional town and heard from a reader who complained that she’d grown up in that town and the author got everything wrong.  

Still, I’m not advocating sloppy research. I simply want to encourage you that you CAN write about something you don’t know.


You do enough research that you can almost call yourself an expert when you’re done.  You know your stuff by the time you turn that manuscript in. Or at least you have long, intelligent conversations with experts on the topic. They read the manuscript or the scene to approve things, or add their input, all with an understanding of your particular audience. 

Since I write romantic suspense which primarily targets women, I don’t need to put too much technical lingo into the story.

In my latest release, TREACHEROUS SKIES, I didn’t have a clue about flying a Learjet when I came up with my initial premise: A test pilot turned Learjet recovery man retrieves a jet only to find the kidnapped daughter of a Colombian drug lord concealed inside.

I didn’t know if my pilots could do what I needed them to do in the story. But I found a couple of experienced pilots who agreed to work with me. By work with me, I mean they cooperated in the following ways:

1) Answered questions

2) Helped me make what I wanted or needed to happen work within the context of the story. Made sure things could actually work or,

3) Offered other scenarios where I could accomplish my goals.

4) Gave details about what happens and specifics on how things happen.

5) Read through scenes to make sure they are right. Offer suggestions and corrections.

Often, before I even posed the question to my experts, I spent hours researching on my own.
I’m sure if you’ve been bold enough to go where you’ve never been before, you’ve probably discovered some of the following tips on your own. (Honestly, I don’t know how people wrote before the internet.)

An awesome research technique is to watch YouTube videos. I used YouTube while writing Freezing Point, watching videos on how to create ice sculptures. Many readers commented on how well I portrayed ice sculpting in that story. I also had my experts available to talk to. I have a twenty-year FBI veteran available to answer questions regarding my undercover agent.
I read blogs written by those who live in a particulate setting or work at a type of job that I’m writing about. It’s the next best thing to communicating with an expert, and can also be used as supplemental research material.

I started this post referencing the television series, Star Trek. Think about all the credits at the end of television shows and movies. Credit is given to the experts who helped make things authentic: makeup, hair, costumes, props, historians or other individuals with the required knowledge. 

So assemble your crew and fearlessly explore strange and new worlds!

 Treacherous Skies

After years of peace and quiet, Maya Carpenter thinks she's safe—that her drug-lord father's world will never catch up with her. Then she's abducted and secretly stashed on a plane. And once she and the test pilot who finds her land in the Keys, the real threat begins....

Daredevil pilot Connor Jacobson is no one's hero. And this time, he's in way over his head. Yet he can't leave Maya to face danger alone. Besides, he has a few tricks up his sleeve that might keep them safe...as long as he's willing to put everything at risk, including his heart.


Elizabeth Goddard is the award-winning author of more than a dozen novels, including the romantic mystery,
The Camera Never Lies—a 2011 Carol Award winner. She lives in Central Louisiana with her husband and children.

Today Elizabeth is generously giving away two copies of Treacherous Skies to two commenters. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.


  1. I love having a weapons expert in my house. Just today I asked him to help me come up with a simile using gun terminology from 1858 and he even gave me a specific gun brand to include. I looked it up to make sure, but yep a popular rifle back then...and I'd never heard of it.

    So if you have ANY weapons questions you can't answer, shoot me an email. (The pun was unintentional, but I shall keep it!) He can rattle something off the top of his head which will narrow down your research anyway. The thought of doing my own gun research when I don't understand the jargon doesn't ever sound appealing, so I'm glad I got him. If he doesn't know the answer, he actually thinks it's fun to wade through that info!

  2. First, I have to say I love the blurb!!! Second, there is no way I'd write a story set in the deep south and my family is from there. Mississippi and they are definitely different. No offense. I love my grandma, aunts, uncles and cousins, it's just a whole different world.

    When I was working on a piece for LIS Fast track I researched sinking vehicles on Youtube among many other things. I often wonder what Big Brother thinks of my google searches. *g*

    I had to put my suspense down because I sold a Biblical to LIH. The whole research thing hangs over my head like a rain cloud. I know why I wrote the story, I know there are many discrepancies among Biblical scholars and I also know they are still discovering finds, but I still have the 'what if' I got something wrong? Most research was done on my own, I did have a cp consult her pastor husband about some things and I consulted my husband on other things, and I did a lot of praying.

    By the way, my kids love alligator. It makes me sad. I'll eat beef, but I get teary-eyed at the thought of one of those alligators getting shot. I'd rather be rescuing than hunting.

  3. Great Post. Thank you Elizabeth I am now more inclined to write about something I haven't really lived through or a place I haven't lived near because I can always learn more.

  4. I watch Star trek next generation on Thursday nights and voyager on Saturday nights. yep the title got me.

    One think about Australia most places have similar foods, language etc although there are subtle differences between states like swimwear. here we call them bathers, some states they are swimmers, and some swimming togs.

    got my wrist checked out today not broken but looks like the I damaged the tendon. got told if not better in 6 weeks go back! least I got it bandaged which has helped alot today. can type for a little long now with the support.

  5. Jenny you need to take care of yourself!!! Does anyone call them swimsuits, down there?

    And I love youtube. Learn to milk a cow, hear the sound of a particular rifle being shot, watch a toddler with minor cerebral palsy walk, etc. have all been youtube videos I've watched to better describe things, even if I've seen/experienced them before, it's so nice to have that video right there to refresh my memory on the tinier details.

    And I'm not really worried about my google searches being of interest to Big Brother because, youtube videos of killing coyotes, Japanese stick fighting, sword making, the deadliest archer in the world, and some other video of someone shooting a gun are actual videos hubby chose to watch today...yeah, no biggie if I look up how to hotwire a stagecoach. :)

  6. Sooooo, I just finished my major revision/edit of my novella, got a few more days to pass the last half through CPs then I get to work on book #2 a little before I get handed macro edits for book #1.

    So, pubbed writers. Do you stop whatever you're doing to bang out revisions? (all of them, or only the galleys, etc) or do you still work on your next book every day while editing? I think I know what I want to do, but thought I'd ask the pros.

  7. Melissa, it's wonderful how you "utilize" your sources, LOL! Good for you having a weapons guy around. Dave doesn't read my books, the old slacker, but when I need fishing and hunting advice, or lumberjack jargon, he's my go-to person.

    I love research. It "places" me where I want to be to develop a book. Starting something new... ah, it's a natural high!!!

    Christina, darling, you are your own enigma. And hey, if you got something "wrong" in the LIH, just remember: you really didn't. Scholars argue over three word passages of the Bible or old scrolls or bits of legible Sanscrit or Greek....


    The proof is in the pudding, a loving book, well-written, and to your best ability. I can't wait to read it and I'm in awe that you jumped in and wrote Biblical fiction right out of the box...

    Do you know how special you are?

    God bless you, pick up the torch and keep lighting the way, Sistah!

    Mary Cline, yes, yes, yes... I think we write what we know... but we incorporate it into different settings we don't know.

    We know peeps. But they're all different so we make the books different.

    You are a stinkin' smarty.

  8. Melissa, it depends on the edits. If they're light I stop everything and get them done so I can move on...

    If I'm revising, I might keep working on WIP in the mornings and edit/revise at night.

    Or not. For me the full-time job makes the decision oftener than not. If I'm working outside with the kids (nice weather) my computer access is severely limited so I roll with whatever time of year it is.

    I'd say go with your gut but on the first go-round you might want to pause, breathe, and figure out what they're looking for specifically. That helps you deliver it the first time through next time around.

  9. Melissa seems like im accident prone doesn't it!

    yes we will say swim suits but not often. I have over typed tonight the wrist is now hurting again

  10. Okay, this is odd, but the TV series Breaking Bad has really helped me understand how to end chapters. I'm catching up on that series on Netflix (don't tell anyone at my church) and when the episode ends, I cannot wait to see what happens next.

  11. Hi Elizabeth,

    Hmmm...I'll leave tasting the 'gator to you! I work with a man who lived in Florida and talks about eating it all the time.

    I just don't have the stomach, or sense of adventure for that!

    Great to see you here again.

  12. I'm still grappling with this whole alligator meat concept.


  13. I think it depends on your time allotment and the amount of revisions.

    You divide the time by the amount of revisions to get the time you need to devote to revisions.

    In a perfect world you are working on one in the morning and the other in the afternoon (other being WIP).

    But I know few perfect world moments. Oh, then there is the day job.

  14. HA! Susan. I feel the same way about Suits. They do an excellent job. Missy recently did a post on this.

  15. Elizabeth, doesn't everything taste like chicken? ;) We lived for ten months in Alabama, and my eyes were truly opened to the nuances of cultural differences, even from state to state.

    I loved this post--and space being the blank page. It's so true. I've found it fun to write my first story--I took ballroom dance lessons so I'd understand it (ain important part of the story), and yes, I've done lots of research on youtube--learned abour rock climbing and how to lay a wood floor. Both things I'd never have researched had I not needed it for my story. :)

    Jenny--I'm so sorry you hurt your wrist, that's a tough place on the body to be in pain. Hopefully it will continue to heal.

    Mary Cline--I agree with you.

    Melissa--I'm keeping your offer in mind. Who knows, I may need it for another story. Happy writing, roomie!

  16. Treacherous Skies sounds like a gripping story!

    Thanks for the tips on going to 'new places' in my story. You gave me a great idea! :)

    nicnac63 AT hotmail DOT com

  17. I love this:

    I have an author friend who created a fictional town and heard from a reader who complained that she’d grown up in that town and the author got everything wrong.

    ELIZABETH, love the idea for Treacherous Skies.

    Put my name in the drawing please.

    Connie Queen

  18. It's nice to hear realistic advice on research. I do the same. I've created fictional towns knowing someone is going to claim they live there and I haven't portrayed it right, that's how our world is. (:

  19. FYI, I had alligator once, very yummy. I get hungry for it once in a while but it's surprisingly hard to find in Nebraska.


  20. Welcome back to Seekerville, Beth! You gave wonderful tips on researching what we don't know. I've used YouTube but hadn't thought of blogs. Thanks for a great idea!

    Alligator on a stick is fine as long as it's not a wiggling. :-)

    I love the setting and cover of Treacherous Skies. Great hooks for what sounds like a terrific story!


  21. Great post, Elizabeth! Would love to read Treacherous Skies. Thanks.

  22. Hi, Beth!!! Good to see you here in Seekerville again! I'm glad you're getting settled into Louisiana and enjoying the culture. About the only thing I know about LA is what I've learned from watching Duck Dynasty! LOL

    I did a TON of research on Medieval times when I was writing my Medievals. It helped that I was already pretty familiar with the time period from all the books I'd read about it in high school, and also that I'd spent one summer in a town in Germany that dated back to the 1100's. The Medieval buildings were my inspiration for the walled town in my first book, The Healer's Apprentice. But I did a lot of research, both reading books and looking stuff up on the internet. It's amazing what you can find sometimes on the internet.

    For my new book that comes out later this month, I had to find out how my hero would prepare a pheasant he had just killed, so that they could eat it. I did what you mentioned, which was to look it up on YouTube. Sure enough, there was more than one video explaining how to take off the feathers--a pretty easy process, BTW, that supposedly takes less than 5 minutes!

    Your new book sounds AMAZING, Beth! It sounds really exciting and interesting! I hope all goes well with it, and that you will get tons of "fodder for fiction" there in your new state of Louisiana!

  23. Oh, no, the pheasant research was for my NEXT book, not this one!
    And Louisiana isn't that different from Alabama, apparently. LOL!

  24. Hi Elizabeth,
    Congrats on the move and on the new book! The blurb is really great and that low flying plane on the cover says a lot! Gotta love that art department.

    I like your idea of watching YouTube videos. That's a resource I often overlook, but should refer to more often. After all, it's one of the sources that helped me (beside schooling) to perfect the show-ring cut of my Pomeranians! Thanks for the reminder!

  25. Melanie, if you ever need help, I know how to field dress a pheasant.

    There's an easy way and a hard way and I'm betting the Medieval Germans did it the hard way because the easy way wastes meat.

    But even the hard way is pretty easy to someone with experience.

  26. Wow, you guys are great. I'm just getting on here and there area already so many comments to address! Let me try. :)

    Melissa, I have a weapons experts in my home too, so that seriously helps. Christina, as far as historians go. . .you know they disagree, don't you? LOl I understand what you mean, though, you want to get it all right. But remember you can also take artistic license, so do the best you can and the rest is artistic license. :)

  27. Jenny Blake - I hope your wrist feels better soon! You've been through a lot this year. At our house we call that 'building character.' ;) But I'm sure it's no fun!

    Don't know if I've ever told you that I have an Aussie son in law (Jerrabombera Canberra) and two True Blue tackers that I encourage with as much Aussie lingo as I can to keep their feet grounded in both sides of the planet. We sing a lot of John Williamson - Oh let me live among the gumtrees! My daughter is spectacular at keeping both cultures alive, from cooking meat-pies to speaking the language. And then, there are the Wiggles, haha! Forget Sesame Street! Thanks for letting me share...

  28. Melissa, you and I are on the same page regarding those youtube videos. It's almost like being there yourself. LOL

    I also recommend taking the newspapers from small towns in a region, then you can really get their particular verbage.

    And on edits--I got mine yesterday for my sequel to Treacherous Skies and I have to work on those today. They are due back on MONDAY!


  29. I heard they did a show on myth busters about all "exotic" meats tasting like chicken and it's really NOT true. LOL

    They eat a lot of squirrel here too.

    I think it's amazing, really. One of our new friends walked across the street onto property he owned and shot a deer.

    Processed it that night and brought us some venison. That's not so unusual, really, but if you live in a more populated area or the city, of course you can't just walk into the backyard and shoot your food!

    And in fact, MELANIE DICKERSON, you can't even do that in the middle ages if you lived during that time period where the king owns all the animals in the forest! Right?

    Treacherous Skies is set in the Keys--a tropical environment, but honestly, I prefer cooler "exotic" places. I live in the south, but I get tired of the heat, so I might as well put my thoughts in a cooler place while working on books, right?

    My next book, Riptide, is set in the Olympic Wilderness, and the third one is in Alaska. :)

  30. I'd never thought about YouTube videos, so thanks for that idea! FB can be a great resource, too, if you have a widespread group. I've found people LOVE to help out, esp when it's giving ideas to a writer working on a new book.

    As far as exotic foods go, I ate turtle (from the shell) when I was in China. I might have eaten other, stranger things while I was there, but I'm happy to be kept in ignorance about that....

    Thanks for the book giveaway! Sounds like an exciting read.


  31. I once sent Janet Dean to watch a YouTube video of a cow giving birth.
    I am afraid it's one of those things I'll have to answer to God for at the Pearly Gates.

    Sorry Janet!

  32. EMILY I learned to tape drywall from a youtube video.
    They show car repairs.
    How to run Photoshop.
    Cows giving birth (sorry, again).
    How to use hot rollers.
    Anything you can think of seems to have a tidy step-by-step instruction video on YouTube.

    It's an amazing resource.

  33. Enjoyed your post, Elizabeth. That is exactly why I wrote my novel, The Legend of Ghost Dog Island. I was born and raised in the bayous of Louisiana, and that is what I know. I have had someone say that it isn't accurate, but if they say that, they didn't live there in the 1950's where my story is set. It is absulutely authentic for that time. Some of you ladies have read excerpts or critiqued my book. Thanks Tina! It is now available on Amazon!


  34. I often wonder how people wrote books before the INTERNET! LOL

    I remember typing away on an old typewriter when I was fourteen. Make me shudder to think of it. :)


  35. Rita,

    Knowing that people will point out what they believe are inaccuracies even when you KNOW what you're writing about is partially what gave me the confidence to just keep going. Of course, we learn as much as we can about what we don't know. :)

  36. Beth,

    With a last name of Goddard, this is an appropriately titled post! :)

    You've given me much to consider today, as I'm diving in to book 3... Thank you so much!

    I'm enjoying the comments too. Such a wonderful variety in Seekerville!

  37. I'm with Beth. How did people write books before the Internet? I think we readers were more accepting because we didn't have the resources to try to fact check everything nor the exposure that 24-7 cable provides to have possibly seen a show about the topic. In this vein, perhaps writers researched as they do now, but also exercised their imaginations a bit more. Who was going to say you were wrong--and there was no email or social media for instant complaint--when the majority of readers likely didn't know anyway?

    I remember learning about suspension of belief in school, but today's readers want reality.

  38. I'm sorry...that should have said suspension of disbelief.

  39. Christina said, "I get teary-eyed at the thought of one of those alligators getting shot. I'd rather be rescuing than hunting."

    You do realize these are lizards we're talking about, right? I have no qualms about shooting lizards. Even giant ones.

    Eating them is a different matter. I'll stick to mammals and birds, thank you.

  40. Welcome back to Seekerville, Elizabeth!

    I write what I know - but sometimes it takes a lot of research to KNOW what I know.

    I love Google Maps for research. Even if I've never been to a place, Google can take you from satellite to street view. But nothing beats actually visiting. My poor husband has driven more back roads than he can count.

  41. I found the video of the of a calf fascinating, Mary. No damage to my psyche. LOL Though I'll admit I didn't have the courage to see the baby elephant born that I believe you might've watched. :-) Which just proves research can take us far afield.


  42. Welcome to Seekerville, Elizabeth!

    First of all, my momma was born and raised in Louisiana. I lived there for six years, and as a native born Ohioan, you are talking major culture shock! Unfortunately, southern hospitality is a dying breed in my experience. So is that wonderful southern drawl, as a matter of fact! Especially among the younger generation. We lived on a lake and we heard all of those 'gator stories. :p Saw and heard more wildlife than I truly wanted. I did try alligator once and it was pretty good.

    Your tips are great. I always wondered about that slogan, "write what you know." The truth is, that would rule most people out of writing what they write. As a person mainly interested in writing and reading historical romances, every historical writer would be out of a job. We can read books, look at photos, even draw off accounts of stories passed down through the family, but none of us can truly know what it was like to live "back then."

    I do like a good romantic suspense, however, and your book sounds like a great cross between Romancing the Stone, The Godfather, and Indiana Jones. LOL. Put my name in the hat, please.




  43. KC--you picked on that, did you? LOL We looked up a picture of Robert Goddard once and he looks exactly like my husband! So we have to wonder if they're related. :)

    Jan--oh I use Google maps too. I especially used it in Oregon Outback because of the four stories set in that region. I used the hybrid map to give me a good sense of my setting.


  44. Whitney!

    I love it when readers "get" the kind of stories I write. You are "right on" with that feel of Treacherous Skies.

    I LOVE Romancing the Stone and Indiana Jones--those sort of stories are what I want to write. AS it turns out, I just write and that's the sort of story that comes out.



  45. KC--my post should have read, "You picked UP on that, did you?" LOL

  46. Oh in case anyone doesn't know--Robert Goddard was THE physicist who invented the first liquid-fueled rocket.

    Sad, though, because he didn't receive much recognition for his invention while he was alive, but without it, we couldn't have made the progress we did in the Space Age.

  47. I watched a You Tube video on how to give a layered haircut.
    I've given my boys and my husband haircuts for years so I thought why not! Let's just say, my daughter's hair just didn't turn out like the one in video.

    Connie Queen


  48. Yes, seeing is not necessarily doing! I tried giving my boys a haircut after watching a video, getting the right scissors, etc., but it was a disaster!

    My husband had to shave my son's head.

  49. Jenny, are you taking a page from my book? After my little fall up the steps last week I'm trying to be more careful. I'll be praying for quick healing. I shattered my wrist bone about 20 years ago, so I feel your pain, hun. Take care!

    Ruthy, *blush* that's all I got to say. I wonder how many books have a Ruthy in them. I know I want to write a Ruthy in one of mine.

    Melanie, one of my best friends lives in Luxembourg. She's sends me pictures of her travels. A month ago she packed her bags to join her dh in Dubai. She was there less than a day when her hub got a dream job offer. So now she's Bucharest. I can't wait for all the pictures and stories.

    Mary, did you hear about the guy who shot an alligator in KC last year. Maybe it was the year before. Security guard saw its tail in the water. Turned out it was cement. *g*

    Jan, you have to know our household. My son idolized Steve Irwin. There were times we have 20+ turtles, some we were rehabilitating them from cars. Frogs, lizards, *gulp* snakes. We haven't seen Pyro in about a year. I hope I don't see him, either. Fortunately, he's a corn snake. We found an Italian Wall lizard and brought him home for a while. He was cool but aggressive. Latched on my kid's finger once. Those Italian lizards are only found a few places in the U.S., a one block radius in Topeka and somewhere in NY/NJ. So, when we went to MS dd and I had to go to the alligator farm. There are pics on FB with dd holding the babies. They are so cute. My encounter with the 12 footer not so much.

  50. LOL, Connie! My fil watched videos on breaking horses. I told him I watched a lot of crime true tv but that didn't mean I could do an autopsy. Eeek! I probably shouldn't have said that to him, though and I feel bad to this day, but I don't think breaking horses is something you can just learn from videos and I didn't want him getting hurt.

  51. wow. the information/ideas in this post and accompanying comments is great! i always know i'll learn something new everyday if i make it to Seekerville.

    Beth, i love your tag line and would love to be in the drawing for Treacherous Skies.

    my DH is my expert on all things diving (scuba: recreational and commercial) and NAVY. i love the usefulness of husbands... like the Red/Green show used to quote: "if she can't find you handsome, at least have her find you handy"

    (gotta say though, my DH doesn't need to be handy - but it is a nice bonus *heh*)


  52. Oh my goodness, Deb, I love that quote! I haven't heard it before but it sure rings true. LOL

    And scuba diving--that's great stuff.

    I took scuba diving in college but I really couldn't handle it. It made me feel claustrophobic--really. I know that sounds crazy but I could only breath from that one source, so I would hyperventilate.

    See why I WRITE adventure instead of living it? ROfL

  53. This is such a great book...

    And great post!

    I think there's a lot ot be said for visiting a new place and writing it like you're an old timer- because we see things differently than those born and raised there.

    All the exotic (alligator on a stick!) thigns jump out at us, but if you were raised in the bayou, you just may not have wanted to ut that in. Too normal??

    Great post.

    Love how the old rules morph into new ideas.

    So many hard and fast MUST DO's aren't really (like write what you know).

  54. Virginia, that is a great point!

    I hadn't even thought of it but you're so right. Newcomers can definitely see things that are just the course of the day for others.

  55. Welcome back, Elizabeth! I had alligator. Once. It was served as an appetizer at Atchafalaya's Restaurant in Houston. Not bad. I wonder if it was local, or if they shipped it over from Louisiana.

    Great advice about exploring new frontiers! Especially the tip about watching YouTube videos as research. I did that when I was writing about a farrier. Very interesting.

    P.S.: I love Star Trek! I think I've seen every incarnation of the TV show and movies (not counting cartoon versions).

  56. After reading these comments...

    I based the mission in Season of Joy on one in LA.

    A LOT of research and planning and e-mails and a few phone calls... And then it becamse a CHristmas book and Christmas needs snow and it got switched to Denver, CO.

    You'd think they'd be similar? Not so much!

    The downtown Denver mission was MUCH BIGGER (the weather is harsher) than the one in LA. It was a tough switch.

  57. Are you the one with the stray cat that chases alligator/crocidile from its food? there was a utube clip about that! i am not a writer but would love to read the book. Thanks for the giveaway!

  58. No, Marianne, that's not me. :) LOL

  59. Beth, maybe that "Write What You Know" rule came before the internet.
    Now we should say, "Write What You Google"

    (that's not all that catchy!)

  60. Beth, honey, also do not perform any but the MOST MINOR SURGERIES with only youtube videos for training.

  61. Christina, the alligator would weep over you, too, while it was munching on you.
    They're sensitive like that


  62. Mary--ROFL. Let me just CLARIFY. We are talking about writing from our research. However, there are plenty of things we CAN do at home after watching these videos. LOL My husband changed out something on the trigger guard on his semiautomatic to make it easier to pull--it was weighted too tight or something. Sorry, I'm editing today, so don't want to take time to ask him the details so I can make more sense.

    But on that rule, "write what you know"--I recently read that from an agent who blogs. So this isn't pre-internet stuff.

    That's what got me thinking. . huh. . I so don't agree with that. I thought about Nora Roberts who supposedly writes a novel every forty-five days save the one day she scrapes out her house (her words).

    (And I so get scraping out my house between books!)

  63. Hi Lyndee, so cool about the Aussie Son-in-law. do you sing the aussie carols like Christmas in Australia, its say something about when bloom of the jacaranda tree is here Christmas time is near.
    On the Trip to Adelaide the Jacaranda's are in full bloom and look beautiful.

    The wrist isn't as sore this morning will keep it strapped.

    Christina, I think we fell the same day last Thursday morning my time. it was a raised paver. The dr was impressed with the bruise on the knee even though that doens't hurt anymore. seems now I lost my fear for drs I go out of my way to have to go!

    I know they sell crocodile meat here.

  64. Jenny,

    I think it was 2009--the night before I was supposed to leave for the ACFW conference. I fell down the stairs and broke my foot! I had gone upstairs to grab the luggage my daughter still hadn't unpacked from her missionary trip to South Africa.

    Funny thing--my critique partners and writing buddies had been praying that I wouldn't be invisible at the conference that year! ROFL.

    I went anyway and God turned that broken foot into good things.

  65. Mary, all I'd have to do is take a bag of marshmallows and he wouldn't look at me twice.

    Went to WallyWorld for a prescription and guess what I found? Treacherous Skies!!! Amazing. They never have their shelves stocked.

  66. Awesome, Christina! I want to go check my local stores too. They didn't have them stocked this weekend. :(

  67. Elizabeth, you are SO right! Writing what you know is great, but the fun is in living through your characters, making them do things you'd never, ever do! Isn't that why most of us read in the first place?

    I don't really know if I'm an expert on anything quite yet, but I do love to research things. Spent WAY too long once looking up a tiny detail from WWII that wasn't important, but hey, now I know!

    Have a great day!

  68. I quaked at the Write What You Know law for a while. Feeling a little claustrophobic with how little I'd be able to write about. But I'm glad to see "what you know" includes things you decide to learn about, therefore you now "know" them. :D

    And the Youtube advice? Right on! I'm actually looking forward to research now!

    You know, it's funny, I had a window break in my car a couple months ago. I looked up on Youtube how to fix it, to save that 100 bucks instead of spending on labor. So my dad bought the part, I looked up the exact make of my car and this dude in Russia with a cool Russian accent showed step by step how he fixed the window. I tried it and it turned out perfectly. I LOVE Youtube, now! LOLOL

  69. Welcome Elizabeth! Great post today (but "no thanks" on the alligator, LOL). ~ Your new suspense book sounds awesome (great cover too). Thanks for sharing with us! Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

  70. I have processed pork.....







    and various fish. Dave is a hunter/gatherer, so I'm good at advising on the thrill of field dressing, bung-holes and rolling contents which will serve as food for a GREAT MANY SMALL FOREST CREATURES I'm told....

    Why did I ever say I wanted to learn? This whole "wife's place" thing is not all it's cracked up to be.

    Then I bought Dave a couple of friends to help.

    And Beth married Jon and he's willing to do anything.


    Christina, you dork! It's true every word, and you know it, but I don't want to be givin' you "the big head"... we don't need that, it would just LOOK BAD for Seekerville and Love Inspired...

    Have I mentioned how much I love writing for Love Inspired?

    I am having the time of my life... I think it kind of bleeds into the stories (bleeding being a good word since we're talking butchering, right???) because they make me smile.

    I have a date tomorrow night. A real DATE... to a show. And food. We're celebrating our 39th anniversary (gotta celebrate when the male of the species has the evening off)....

    I'm wearing stockings.


  71. Loved the post. It's another keeper. There is still so much to learn. I've had a very wide variety of experiences but I wouldn't rely on just my experiences to make something appear real. Thank you for your input Elizabeth.

    I would love to be entered to win a copy of your book. :)

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 at yahoo dot com

  72. Ruthy in stockings!

    My brothers are 8 and 10 years younger than I am and they always said I had big hair, which is so much better than a big head. ;)

    No, having a big head would not be good. I already have issues finding beanie hats to fit.

    Love LI. I'm thinking I'm suffering from a bit of star struckedness though.

  73. Oh my goodness, Ruthy! You sound like my mom. She cooks anything my dad kills. Well, most anything.

    You're not going to believe this, but I'll tell you anyway...at the risk of being permanently labeled Redneck.

    Her latest culinary feat is raccoon. She had it in the crock-pot all day today and Daddy took it out to the smoker and put a little hickory flavor in there. I'm still debating on whether I'll taste it or not. :D Anything my dad puts in the smoker is usually delicious, though, so who knows? :)

    Have fun on your date!!

  74. Raccoon....

    Oh, Natalie.

    I'd wear the sucker.

    I sure as shootin' wouldn't eat it.

    Or possum.

    Or squirrel.

    Although Granny Clampett was one of my all-time favorite TV characters. I just loved her! :)

  75. Ahhhh,Natalie. You are killing me.

  76. Ha ha! You guys are SO funny and SO off topic, to boot! LOL

    While I'm editing today I needed to look up something and ended up at a forum. That' another GREAT source, as I'm sure you know.

    But you can read people's comments back and forth to each other--comment from the "experts" and get so much information.

  77. Haha! Tried squirrel once. And that was enough. Too greasy and chewy.

    'Fraid I wouldn't touch a possum with a ten foot pole, though. Nor armadillo.

  78. Natalie, I think it would depend on where your daddy got the raccoon if I'd try it. We see way too many on the side of the road, bloated and feet up.

  79. I did about 70 percent of my disease research for my first book in a forum. After a few months I felt like I knew these people personally.

  80. Im boring give me lamb and I am happy.
    here in australia we are the only country that eats our coat of arms. Emus and Kangaroos.

  81. Wow, Tina, that's interesting. And a just another great example of taking on a writing project that you don't know until you bury yourself in research.

    And Jenny, we used to have an Emu ranch down the road from us back when they were "up and coming" in the U.S. as a new food source. It didn't pan out, and I think some slaughter houses even went off and left the carcasses. Yuck.

  82. Natalie, I don't know if you'll show back up here, but I hope you tried the coon, it's pretty good, especially smoked. Our family saying is, well, let's put it in the smoker, everything's good smoked. Since your mother was smart enough to put it in the crockpot all day, I bet it's not tough.

    That's what I think went wrong when we did it once, we should have boiled it in salt water for hours. We didn't get the old timer's advice until later. But it still tasted good, just was really hard to get off the bones. :(

    And Ruthy, hubby was going to make a hat because the sucker was BIG. (Also probably another reason for tough meat) but after 3 years in my freezer until he got around to it, it made it's way out to the pond. (I know how much you love my pond stories, so had to share!!)

    Yep, beware small critters that hop through our backyard, we have french doors and can see outside and we like free dinner!

    I promise that I don't talk like Jeff Foxworthy! But when the zombie apocalypse comes, you all will be coming to me asking how to peel a rabbit! Yep. Yep.

  83. Beth, I almost forgot that you are a kindred Medieval spirit!!! Yes, you're right, of course. You couldn't shoot a deer and eat it in Medieval times, unless you were the king or part of his hunting party.

  84. Any research & expert knowledge always shines through in a great story. Certainly appreciated.

  85. Beth, thanks for being with us and for being such an engaged guest. Happy Holidays.

  86. Beth
    Scuba diving can be clausterphobic for many people. There is a lot of new gear now that helps aleviate that for new divers (you are not alone). That whole breathing under water thing can get to people.

    gotta say though, nothing is more romantic than being forty feet down, at night and seeing nature by the light of a full moon while holding your significant other's hand. looking up and watching your bubbles float past the full moon is an awe inspiring experience. i know i'm not doing the picture justice, perhaps i'll do better when i weave that into a story.

    thank you so much for sharing at Seekerville.


  87. Thanks so much for having me, ya'll! I really enjoyed it.

    And on that last comment and the diving scene--I could picture it perfectly. Too bad you get to use it in YOUR book. LOL

    BTW, in Treacherous Skies, I did manage to slip in some romantic snorkeling in the Keys.:)

  88. I would love to win,Enter me!!
    Thanks for the giveaway and God Bless!!
    Sarah Richmond

  89. The south is a great setting for a story!Love to win your book! sounds so interesting!

  90. Sounds like a good book and I would love to read it.