Monday, May 4, 2015

Oh The Places You'll Go

No this post isn’t going to be in anapestic tetrameter. 

(okay, ignore that brief moment spent in anapestic tetrameter...I had to look that up)

Did you know that’s what they call the poetic form of Dr. Seuss’s work? And no I’m not here to talk about Dr. Seuss either. I just liked that title because of the places I've gone (mentally) doing research. Heaven knows I never get to go anywhere physically, I can barely get to town to buy groceries.

Me: "What do you mean we need milk. Again?"
My Cowboy: "I have just enough for breakfast in the morning."
Me: Can't you just eat your cereal dry?"
My Cowboy: Milk and bread--today--I'm hungry

So I'm talking about the places I'll go MENTALLY (no nets, white coats, nor straight jackets involved-------so far) I’m talking about research today because….

1.      It’s a time sink
2.      It’s maybe more fun that actually writing your book
3.      After years of saying I hate research because I love it so much, I’ve gone over to the dark side and just love it and here’s why….

I’ve gotten my ideas for my last six book as a direct result of research. I’ve decided I just flat out love it and respect it and will enjoy it as more than just getting details that flesh out ONE book but as a possible source for future books.

I wrote the Kincaid Brides series inspired by a vacation to Carlsbad Cavern. I came away from that experience just vividly inspired by the beauty and danger of that stunning cavern. I was mentally transported, seriously, to the first man who ever went in there. Imagine being in there with a lantern and nothing else. You’d catch glimpses, deeply shadowed, of those staggering formations created by centuries of dripping lime, stalactites and stalagmites that became miraculous beautiful.

And there are pits, and ground that looks like solid rock that is as thin as glass and can break right under your feet.
Ah, I loved it. This was the year my first child was born so relax I'm not kidding that I never go anywhere. My oldest is the mother of three.

So now RESEARCH…I was doing research for a tiny detail. Seth Kincaid, the crazy brother, the hero of Over the Edge, needed to be traumatized by war (because being terribly scarred by fire as a child wasn’t mean enough….I’m sorry Seth).
So I slapped poor old Seth in Andersonville prison. All I needed was a date. I didn’t want to put Seth in a prison camp that wasn’t OPEN.
So Wikipedia, Andersonville Prison, I need two minutes for this, right?

Four hours later I’m reading everything I can find on Andersonville and I’ve got an idea for my next series, Trouble in Texas, men who became Closer than Brothers during their stay in Andersonville.
Trouble in Texas Series
So those four hours haven’t been WASTED. They’ve been a true blessing. And then while I was reading MORE about Andersonville for research for Trouble in Texas, I found a BABY born in Andersonville Prison. A woman was in there with her husband. She was disguised as a man and nobody noticed until her baby was born and started crying. So at the end of that research I not only had the foundation of Dare Riker’s determination to continue with medicine after the war, I also ended up with a novella out of it that is in With This Kiss Historical Collection, the prequel to Trouble in Texas. The story of how the men from that series met and became fast friends. That novella, titled Closer Than Brothers is honestly just my research notes, but it needed dialogue and the story needed to flow, so yeah, a surprising about of work, but so fun. And after that came...yet another series...........
Wild at Heart Series: Bk #1 Tried and True, Bk #2 Now and Forever, Bk #3 Fire and Ice
.............Wild at Heart, three sisters who fought in the Civil War disguised as men.
Book #2 of that series Now and Forever releases THIS MONTH!

Click to Pre-order
So when you are researching your book KEEP YOUR MIND OPEN TO THE POSSIBILITIES!

For me when I’m reading along and some little tidbit startles me or better yet, gives me shivers, I know I’m onto something good.

Book #2 in the Wild at Heart Series. Releasing June 1st but there are RUMORS that it might ship as early as mid-May.

Leave a comment talking about how research inspired you. Whether for a book you're writing, or for inspiration in some other area of your life, or for the joy of learning more.
Tried and True was last fall and I’ve been anticipating Now and Forever ever since. And Fire and Ice is coming in October. It's available for pre-order now.

Bethany House always gives me one copy hot off the presses so right now I’ve got just that one. But a box of Author’s Copies follows soon after so I’ll get them any day and send out the winner’s copy soon.
Now and Forever is, I believe, the funniest book I've ever written and it's also got a little sort of THRILLER angle with a creepy bad guy who will give you chills.

Saddle up for romance and adventure with the Wilde sisters!

Shannon Wilde is the middle sister--and the one who loves animals. She's established her own homestead and is raising sheep for their wool. Things are going fine...until Shannon gets swept over a cliff by Matthew Tucker!

Tucker seizes every opportunity to get away from civilization, but one particular walk in the woods ends with him sprinting away from an angry grizzly and plunging into a raging river, accidentally taking Shannon Wilde with him. Their adventure in the wilderness results in the solitary mountain man finding himself hitched to a young woman with a passel of relatives, a homestead, and a flock of sheep to care for.

As Tucker and Shannon learn to live with each other, strange things begin to happen on Shannon's land. Someone clearly wants to drive her off, but whoever it is apparently didn't count on Tucker. Trying to scare Matthew Tucker just makes him mad--and trying to hurt the woman he's falling in love with sets off something even he never expected. 


  1. Oh my word, Mary, I. Love. Your. Books. Research? History? I think your novels ( and some others, maybe) should be required as History books in school. How fun would it be to learn history with Mary Connealy. And I bet we'd learn those lessons so well, that history would not repeat itself. Has anyone told you lately that YOU ROCK?!!! Well, YOU DO!!!

  2. Hi Mary. Thank you for putting a perspective on research that acknowledges that sometimes following a "rabbit trail" is necessary- My research about oddly marked stones around the edge of a San Francisco park is leading to an interesting twist to the story (or so I hope!). Oh I would love your new book hot off the press. Please enter my name in the drawing.

  3. There was a monkey in a nearby KS town that was sent up in a balloon around the turn of the century to advertise for a store and when the balloon ran out of steam, he had been taught to drag the balloon all the way back to town. I wanted my heroine with advertising/business smarts to use a monkey to wipe up her competition with the out-of-the-box novelty advertisement. His name was Mr. Peanuts in A Bride In Store, however, he got cut from the first draft. I was the only one who knew him, RIP Mr. Peanuts.

    BUT he was important because I had to figure out how anyone would have a trained monkey in my story in the middle of nowhere KS (I didn't have time in the book to teach him such a trick) So he was the pet of a retired Circus performer, A Bearded Lady (also based on a real lady who retired in a nearby OK town) and though my monkey bit the dust, she became my favorite secondary character.

    (In real life, the monkey disappeared. Decades later when they were tearing down the building they found his skeleton in the walls of the store.)

  4. Research rocks! I indulge in it whenever I can for as long as I can in order to discover all the wonderful historical details I can to enrich as many of my stories as I can. There are nuggets just waiting to be discovered, and I'm ready to mine 'em and make 'em mine.

    Yes. It's late, and I'm a bit wired. I'll stop now. LOL

  5. I love learning new things and especially when it involves history. So research is a happy time for me as well.

    Thank you for the great post Mary!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  6. Score! I got Wild at Heart for 1.99.

    I only like research if it involves traveling and room services.

  7. I love research because I love learning new things, but I do hate the way it eats up all my time. I'll be looking for one minor detail, and three hours later I'm still digging into the research.

    In my current wip, my villain shoots left-handed. Thinking this was a good clue for my hero to discover, I Google to find out what percentage of the population is left handed. Then I discovered something called left eye dominant. Which can result in a right-handed person shooting a rifle left-handed. Which of course was a great discovery because now, thought my hero and heroine may be on the lookout for left-handed people ever time they go into this small town, it's harder to identify the villain. (Side note: My daughter and son-in-law were visiting a few days after I made this discover. My son-in-law brought a new rifle that he wanted to shoot. I noticed he was shooting left-handed, and i commented that I hadn't noticed he was left-handed before. He told me he was right-handed but left-eye dominant. I laughed and told him me night just be the villain in my story.)

    Thank you for the great post, Mary. Have a wonderful day!

  8. Terrific research advice, Mary.

    I went to Pierre, SD to research Casey Tibbs for a children's book and came back from his museum with information on a SD Trick rider and a death defying 'trick' that I used in Sweet on the Cowgirl.

  9. Hi Mary,

    Thanks for removing the guilt of time lost in research. Sometimes I'm shocked how much time I spend looking up one little detail. Next time I look up a fact, I'll keep my mind open to other possibilities.

    Thanks for sharing today!

  10. Oh, the rabbit holes! I have lost count of the number of times that I have sat down to research one thing and ended up several hours later learning about something else entirely! I should stop doing that, but you just never know what little nuggets can come out of letting your mind follow the different trails! Thanks for the article and giveaway!

  11. Hi Mary,
    Research is great. How great is it? When someone calls you on something and you wish you'd done it. You also have to be careful about what you DO know. I did a contest entry with my Oregon Trail story and had the setting line as "Oregon, 1846." I KNEW that Oregon wasn't a state in 1846, but my sloppiness caused me to be marked down and the judge pretty much to not take me seriously for the rest of the partial. So we have to be careful, not only about what we don't know, but making what we do know come out right. Does that make sense? I hope so, I have a cold and this is supposed to be the NON-DROWSY formula.
    Kathy B.

  12. That said (or ranted), research does pay off. My most recent example is working on my NANO/SPEEDBO/Secondary WIP non-masterpiece. Which was actually coming up SHORT in word count, which has never happened to me. So I trolled the net for info on Prohibition agents, you can see where this is going, and I found two real-life Federal agents who worked in the same time period and were allegedly real characters, so I'm making them MY characters and adding some texture (and pages) to the book. We'll see how it works out. Can you do too much research? No, but you need to control what actually goes into the book.

  13. MELISSA,
    We all have a monkey in our past.
    Thank you for sharing yours.

  14. Mary, great post! Fun to see how stories took root, budded and bloomed into two series. Or was it three?

    A newspaper clipping on the orphan train spiked my interest and research resulted in my first two Love Inspired Historical romances Courting Miss Adelaide and Courting the Doctor's Daughter.

    Other books have come from tried and true--sorry for stealing your title--hooks. Yikes I have three marriage of convenience stories. But I haven't written more books inspired from research. You've inspired me.


  15. Mary, this is too early on Monday. I'm racking my brain but can't come up w/any book ideas I got from research. Some ideas maybe spiced up???

    Carlsbad is a cool place to visit. The bats would've been enough to scare me out of that hole.

    And MELISSA, I love the monkey story.

  16. Hi Mary:

    Hint: It's re-search.
    First you search.
    Then you re-search to verify the first search. So much on the internet is inaccurate. In fact, some of the best stuff is inaccurate. Dates are particularly problematic. So in the event you do engage in casual, one-time, unprotected research, remember there is always Plan B. :))

    I think the best research lies in discovering lesser known facts that only a native would know. Anyone can mention the Eiffel Tower in Paris but to mention minor statues and something about them which are near the heroine's apartment displays knowledge in depth and thus makes the story seem more 'real'. Mention things only the native would recognize in your story. Make the insider reading your story think: "This author has really been there. Reading this is like being back home." (Find the baby in Andersonville.)

    I think "Petticoat Ranch" is your funniest book by an order of magnitude. Mark Twain does not have anything as funny as that poor step-father trying to teach all those little girls essential 'manly' ranching skills which they already can do better than he can but to save his pride they pretend to be learning by doing them poorly at first. I can get a laugh right now just thinking about those many scenes. If "Now & Forever" is funnier than "Petticoat Ranch" then it should be sold with a warning saying reading it could be hazardous for people with weak hearts who can't laugh with full vigor.

    BTW: I really like the narrator of "Tried & True" and I enjoy having someone read me the story as I relax in my easy chair with the lights down low while letting the story unfold in the theater of my mind."It's a show -- not a read." It's also in the oral tradition which has proven tried and true since the start of storytelling.


  17. I loved Tried and True. Really looking forward to Now and Forever. I do some genealogy stuff, learning about my family history and try to incorporate that in my stories. Make it seem so real and personal to me. And sort of fun since no one but my family will realize the connections. Like my great grandfather who stowed away on a boat in order to come to America from Germany. Not as fun as Melissa's monkey but still some great story fodder.

  18. I love researching. I love the way Google has made it so I can do it from home since I am not always able to get out. I would love to win a copy of your book.

  19. Aw, Marianne, thank you so much. You know I agree that history should be taught with fiction.
    Whether you realize it or not, at the end of reading Gone with the Wind, you know more about the Civil War than you'll ever learn in a dry history class.
    You want to learn about the American west? Read Louis L'Amour (or me!!!)
    WWII? Winds of War

    And the reason this works is because reading these books is FUN. You're not groaning over, "Read Chapter Five and do the chapter ending questions, by tomorrow."

    You're caught up in Scarlett and Rhett and you come away understanding so much about the war in a way you'll never forget.

  20. Olivia, you mean the stones are there? As like decorations? But they are surrounded by mystery?

    I'm so interested in this. Tell me more!

  21. Melissa I have ten questions about his already. LOL

    I love it!

  22. Keli! Mine 'em and make 'em mine is almost Anapestic Tetrameter!

  23. Cindy, I almost always go to Wikipedia first, but you can't exactly trust wiki, I don't think. But there are always books cited in wiki, in a case like Andersonville I would follow those titles and often these sometimes very old source books are for sale on Amazon, sometimes for very little money. Example, I found this reference on the Wikipedia page....."Further descriptions of the camp can be found in the diary of Ransom Chadwick, a member of the 85th New York Infantry Regiment." Then I found that, free online and it's this first person account that included the birth of that baby. It is chilling to read and it gives you ONE MAN'S IMPRESSION. I could carry the emotions he carried as I created my characters.
    If you buy something like this you find on Amazon (helpful little souls) They start throwing "If you bought the Diary of Ransom Chadwick, you might also like.........."

  24. John Ransom's Andersonville Diary: Life Inside the Civil War's Most Infamous Prison

    this is less than $2 on Amazon right now. USED

  25. Rhonda, I love this. Left EYE dominant. So interesting.
    I knew some kids who batted left handed even though I knew they were right handed. I wonder if this is why?

  26. Rose, I love going to museums. I need to do it more.

    I have been to most of the local ones multiple times but it's never enough.

  27. Jackie, I had to do something to excuse my Time Sink into research.

  28. Oh, this is like best post ever because I've fallen in love with research, too!

    And those nuggets just keep falling into place, and then I can just keep writing and writing and writing because it's like grains of stinkin' WHEAT... they propagate!!!!

    Mary, I hate to say you're brilliant...



    But yes, this is brilliant! Embrace the gray matter, let the seeds flourish! :)

  29. Vince, you're so cute and smart.

    I love working with locals. Locals know stuff. They set the reader smack dab in the middle of reality because of a few well-placed words, thoughts or deeds.

    Now of course the locals are DEAD for historicals in the 19th century, but local historians have an eye/ear for news! They're amazing!

  30. Loraine, I'm sure I could get so much more writing done! If I would just knock off the research, but it's so fascinating. I've had to come up with this way to justify it.

  31. Kaybee, when I was researching my next series I found a (trying to get this straight) a French-Canadian, turned American fur trader, turned wealthy Spanish Land Grant Holder (which required Mexican citizenship) turned back to American again when New Mexico traded land away to America.

    I pitched the book and my editor said, "I trust you, but how can such a guy exist."

    I sent her my links. HE'S REAL.

  32. I adore research. Yes, it's more fun than writing. I was just looking up a few names of officers at a fort near my hometown, when I ran across a congressional record (ah, the internet) that basically had a whole story written before me. In the Sioux troubles in 1857, a lieutenant single-handedly stopped a massacre when he rode into the stand-off between the Sioux and the army, and he "threw down his pistols and bared his breast, daring the Sioux to kill him." They were so impressed, they made peace instead.

    Then he was imprisoned by his own side in the Civil War because he protested the arrest of his uncle, yet they let him out to fight as a captain in the battle of Manassas (which he did "creditably," while he also had dysentery). And then they still almost court-martialed him.

    And all this in his early 20's, with only one eye, having lost the other as a child.

    Sometimes real life sounds more like fiction than a fiction writer can get away with.

  33. Hi Mary.I can't tell you much about the stones because it is a romantic suspense story. They are real, but hardly decorative, and belong to a chapter in San Francisco's past. Going back to work on my WIP! Our dryer needs service so I can't do laundry---

  34. I feel so much better about my research rabbit trails now. I write contemporary, but research careers, surnames, degrees, diseases, head injuries, towns. Most recently Mardi Gras in Mobile. It's fun to find a friend, acquaintance, or even a stranger that's an expert to interview on a topic.
    I love your books and think you're hilarious. The Kincaid brothers kept me in stitches. Sign me up for the drawing.

  35. YES! YES!!

    That's what I was thinking as I read your post, Mary. I started to agree with #3 and then realized that I tell EVERYBODY that I LOVE research so that one's a no. But I'm with you all the way on #1 & #2.

    Congrats on Now and Forever, Mary. Sounds like another good one.

  36. Kaybee, I know just what you mean. You KNOW it's Oregon Territory but sometimes you leave out that word.

    What I wonder is, didn't historically, people leave out the word territory, too.

    Except probably not up front like that. Sorry!

  37. kaybee that's really rock solid advice. Yes, learn all you can and I think it enriches the book in subtle ways is the author just KNOWS MORE. But you can't just dump it into the book.

    Don't tell them everything you know.

  38. Mary, I think research is what's so fun about writing historicals. It's amazing all the little tidbits you can find about little known characters who lived in the West.

    I've spent hours researching Deer Lodge, Montana, which was Montana Territory in 1875. Using a friend who grew up there as a resource to check facts in the manuscript, I had to pluck holly out of my heroine's hair because it doesn't grow there. Who knew? It was also the home of the Montana Territorial Prison, incarcerating its first prisoner on July 2, 1871, so I had to make it a threat to my hero who's wrongly accused of a crime he didn't commit.

    On another note, did you ever read the novel "Andersonville" by MacKinlay Kantor? It won a Pulitzer Prize 60 years ago, and Penguin has just released a new edition. Horrific story of what the prisoners went through.

    Please throw my name into the hat for your new book. Thanks!

  39. Connie we left before the bats.

    Did you know that bats are really just mice with wings?

    How's that for my own personal nightmare????

  40. Vince you are absolutely right about the internet because dubious.

    That's why yes, I go to Wikipedia but then I dig deeper. (which is why one tiny question can take 4 hours of reading time)

  41. Thanks for the kind words about Petticoat Ranch.

    I think, at the time it came out, there just much out there in comedy in historical fiction.

    It was in the Chick Lit era so tons of comedy but not cowboys being funny.

  42. Cindy Regnier that is fascinating. How did she survive such a long trip as a stowaway? Did she wait until they were days away from shore--too far to turn back--then come out? Did she hide the whole trip?

  43. Wilani, you know I was writing before I had internet at home.
    Before Google.

    Times have changed and doing online research is one of the great ones. (Heaven knows I wouldn't want to actually GO ANYWHERE!!!!!!!!

  44. Relax Ruthy, my experience has been that there is always something around to keep me humble. Sad but true.

  45. Rachael, what a character.

    I love him already. :)

  46. Olivia I am sure you are DYING to do laundry instead of write. (I'm making a joke but maybe it's just me!)

  47. Janet I think in some ways contemporary takes MORE research, unless you fictionalize everything...that helps some but you still need to know your subject, whatever job your hero/heroine has. Getting that right takes work and because it's contemporary you're going to find a lot of people who know YOUR SUBJECT better than you do.

    Working on Closer than Brothers was hard because I really had to research Andersonville closely, I couldn't just bounce over details like I did in the books that made passing reference to that awful place.

    A lot of that novella has actual quotes from people who were there. I had to study maps, old pictures, names. Like I said, I fictionalize the towns never my stories usually, so I can put the General Store anywhere I want.

  48. Mary, that's so cool how you got whole series ideas from research! I'm sure that really helps hold a series together.

    I love historical romance novels. I really, really should get brave and try one someday!

  49. Anita Mae good for you. Let's just all admit up front we love research.

  50. Barbara I had my hands full with my research into the setting of the Wild at Heart Series as far as what territory it was. That corner of our country changes many many times, boundaries redrawn. So today you're sitting in Nebraska Territory and tomorrow you're in Dakota Territory and a year from now you're in Washington Territory.

    I had a terrible time pinning down dates.

  51. Missy one of these days you can jump in a Seeker Historical Collection.

  52. Mary, I am addicted to research!!

    Sometimes an idea pops in my mind, and off I go. Sometimes these little threads lead to a book idea or something that could be used in a novel. And sometimes, it's just my curiosity leading me where I've never been before!

    Oh, the adventures of research!!

    Would love to win a copy of your book!

    May the fourth be with you all today...(LOL~~saw this on FB~~I so admire clever people!)

  53. Hi Mary,

    We're all so blessed you vacationed at Carlsbad Cavern. I enjoyed that whole series.

    I have a love/hate relationship with research. Love history, but hate the time it takes. When I first started writing my historical series, I knew the heroine had to be well educated to match wits with the hero. So I researched the usual sources, finishing schools and women's colleges, but that wasn't enough. Then I stumbled on a tidbit--during this time women were admitted to Harvard in an experiment in co-education. That's where my heroine had to go, and before I knew it, 3 other women joined her, each wanting to catch a Harvard man as well as gaining an education. Well, while a Harvard degree would open doors for men, it was a handicap for the women. Harvard men didn't want a wife smarter than they were. So my heroines had to go west to find husbands, making sure to keep their education secret. They had other reasons too, but imagine working so hard for a Harvard degree, then having to keep it secret.

    One little sidebar in my research led to all that.

  54. Ah, the black hole of research. What a great place to get lost! :-) I write contemporary, so sometimes my research takes me to places like Amazon to see what sort of product my character might have. Then, I can tell my husband that I'm not shopping. It's RESEARCH.

  55. Mary, like you, I can easily get lost in the research world. So much info!

    Love how your trip to Carlsbad Cavern led to so many story ideas. The true mark of a genius writer, which you are!

    My WIP has a Civil War tie in which has been a fun twist to explore. Kind of like your cave...except without the bats!

    Bats are mice with wings? Really? I consider that a double not like mice or bats, wings or not!

  56. Howdy Mary! I enjoyed reading your post regarding research. Thank you for the reminder to have an OPEN MIND. It is true that the battlefield is in the mind. How one approaches something is very key to success or failure. Great article!

    Have a wonderful day SEEKERVILLE LADIES!

  57. Kathryn, that's such a great point.

    It's not just whole book ideas you get from research, who said they found characters that they could use in their books.

    Big, huge. Not a whole story but a big old part of one. And there can be little tidbits, too, like you said, that inspire a scene or take your story to a slightly cooler, more authentic place than you have it headed.

  58. Elaine, I LOVE IT! You found an 'experiment' letting women into college. And it gives birth to a whole series.

    It's sort of infuriating that they 'experimented' with educating woman, the idiots. But on the other hand, this was probably pretty radical for the times so they don't deserve fury, they deserve respect for taking risk that advanced everyone.

  59. Meghan if it's for a book it's TAX DEDUCTABLE.

    (Going to write a book about Lexus any moment.)

  60. Debby, It is so stinking DOUBLE NEGATIVE I can hardly speak of it.

    You've got a Civil War twist in your contemporary romantic suspense?

    I love it

  61. I suspect if I would just open my mind a tiny bit wider, it might occur to me to stop researching so much a WRITE MY BOOK!!!!!!!

  62. It wasn't really research, it was a headline in my daily news feed: SEEKING SPERM, NOT SEX, ONLINE -- Online banking has taken on a brave new meaning. That led to a story about a widow who decided to use an online sperm bank to have a baby. But research became necessary to find out how online purchases were shipped, and since I had to have my heroine's job put in jeopardy by a pregnancy, I had to find a legal way to do that.

    Ohhhhhhhhhhhh how I can get lost in research!

    And speaking of the places you'll go, well, I went someplace. I moved! I bought a small condo and moved a little over 2 weeks ago. It's all coming together but my office/guest room still has boxes and piles. The revisions for my next book sit untouched on top of my desk. My editor understands because she's moving too. It's just been a crazy couple of months and I sure hope it settles down soon along with all the repairs I've had to have done. I think my dryer is messed up though. Not sure if it's a result of the move or would have happened anyway. It thumps when it's on, even when empty. Oh well... there goes another $75 (the service charge on the home warranty provided by the seller).

  63. I miss international travel and have enjoyed researching fun, different, or historical locations for my tween fantasy series. It made writing the proposal more fun, as well, to dream of different countries here and the mysteries took flight. Real or research travel also makes me appreciate the gifts in my life more. So it's all good. Thanks for your writing and post there today!

  64. Mary, I am anxiously awaiting your next book. I hope I have a chance to win it this week but if not I'll be at the book store when it comes out. I've enjoyed all your series!
    I enjoy research and history but I have to say that God intervened when it was needed. A few years ago a friend and I wrote a historic musical for our community. The writing came fast and furious and then the what it's about historical accuracy came later. As the researcher of our team , I hit the books and miraculously there were so many coincidences in actual history that I was amazed....still praying to this day for my friend who doesn't like to give God credit.
    On another vein...I recently toured Columbus Mississippi s beautiful pre- Civil war homes to get a feel for that life for my wip. That was a fun day full of some good Ole southern hospitality!

    1. What if....not what it's ...cell phones.......

  65. A long LONG time ago twenty five years ago or so my daughter and I were going to write a book together over the summer. An Oregon Trail story for kids. I got so caught up in research it never got done. I should talk to my daughter about that. She has a ten year old herself now.

  66. Great post, Mary! Well, I didn't start out intending to research Hot Springs, but after vacationing there and picking up snippets of information over 20-some-odd years, writing a historical series set in Hot Springs just seemed the natural thing to do.

    And as you said, one thing leads to another, and pretty soon all kinds of interesting details come to light and beg to find their way into a story! It's fun, yes, but it can become overwhelming and quickly get out of control (wait, isn't that the title of a really good book???).

  67. I love to research places we plan to visit on our road trips, that way our experience there is that much richer. Can't wait to read your new book! Please enter me in the giveaway!

  68. Well, as an author who is allergic to research, I don't have a lot to offer, I guess, except one thing, and that is: if you're allergic to research, get shots!!!

    Because research, I've discovered after the fact, is soooooo worth it and soooooo inspirational!!

    My research stories aren't as good as Mary's, but research helped me shape the era and character of Katie O'Connor in A Hope Undaunted, and all because I stumbled on some cool facts about the Equal Rights Amendment in the 20s. So I not only incorporated that in the book, enriching the time period of my novel, but in Katie's character as well, helping me create a story that was true to the era.

    Also, when I found the tiny island/peninsula of Isle of Hope almost by accident on a map, that name inspired a whole series on hope restored via my new contemporary series, Isle of Hope.

    So I am now a research advocate, although I am not now, nor ever will be, a junkie.


  69. Contemporary takes more research because for historicals, a lot of the research has been Done For Us. I already know that Caroline will bake potatoes in an iron spider over a fire made of buffalo dung because she DIDN'T HAVE A MICROWAVE. I don't know how a second-grade teacher in 2015 marks down grades because it has changed so much since I was in second grade. I assume they do it on the computer, but what program? And how do they do report cards? And what does an aerospace engineer say in a staff meeting? We still need to research historicals, we need to do lots of it, but some things are, well, givens. And contemporaries, unless we're writing about our own field, are not.

  70. Marilyn congratulations on the new condo.

    When I think of moving I imagine leaving all the quirks of our 90 year old farm house behind. Thanks for the reminder that everyplace has it's problems.

    Moving is such hard work. Have you heard the saying, "Three moves equals a fire."

    I moved into a rental house when I first got married, out in the country, owned by a member of my husband's family.
    12 years later I moved out of that house, 1/4 of a mile downhill to my current home. The 'new' house was built the same year as the 'old' house. Brothers who married sisters, who used the same floor plan with a few minor variations.

    My furniture all fit.

    Did I mention the two brothers were apparently in a race for the biggest cheapskates who ever lived?

    Dinky little houses. But it keeps the rain off our heads.

  71. Elizabeth you miss international travel? As in you used to do it and now you don't?

    I'm trying to not feel one ounce of jealousy.

    Perhaps with just a little bit of medication I will attain that peace.

    And you know research into the historical west makes ME appreciate my life too.

    Indoor plumbing. Air conditioning. Cars (it takes a long time, even if you're fast, to saddle a horse, and don't even start on MPH)

  72. Bettie isn't it sweet when your research confirms your work.

    And I'll give God the full credit for that, for the original writing and for helping you find confirmation.

    I went to one old Southern Plantation type mansion once.

    Your day touring them sounds so perfect. I love old historical, restored homes. That's how a lot of the small towns of me set up museums.

  73. Aw Mary now THAT might've been too much research. But that information is all in your head. You might be surprised how much of it is being used by you now, even if you're in a different genre.

  74. Myra just keep taking notes and saving links. When you hit something good it's not wasted time (well, unless you never got a book written at all!) it's ideas for the next books!!!!

  75. Heidi, that's a great idea.

    Now all I need to do is go somewhere besides writer's conferences.

  76. Julie! You don't like research?

    I'm stunned. You are writing in such an interesting era and you really bring it to life.

    I mean sure I do a lot of research but it's cowboys.

    I don't have to do much scene setting. My characters all have pretty much one change of clothes. One gun. One horse.

  77. kaybee that's so true about the research being done.

    I mean especially for cowboys right?

    Will unique and less well known eras, like what Julie's doing, that takes more work just because cowboy is a visual that just swims into a readers head. John Wayne. You're done.

    But creating Boston oor San
    Francisco is harder, not because the research isn't done but because you're really got to set the scene so people can visualize it and put themselves into the story.

  78. Mary Connealy said...
    Kaybee, when I was researching my next series I found a (trying to get this straight) a French-Canadian, turned American fur trader, turned wealthy Spanish Land Grant Holder (which required Mexican citizenship) turned back to American again when New Mexico traded land away to America.

    MARY! Do you mean Alexis Hypolite Beaubien, aka Charles (Carlos) Beaubien? I came across him when I was researching Kit Carson because I needed an answer about ... no ... never mind. Too long a story.

    I think of my research as serendipity (sounds better than rabbit trails). I needed a school building for a new railroad town, and I needed it quickly. Like yesterday. While I was researching railroads, I came across chapel cars (railroad cars on a sidetrack that were used for church services). There was my answer! Chapel car on Sunday -- school the rest of the week.

    I just love research!

    Nancy C

  79. This is an interesting look into how some of your books came to be, Mary. I also love to do research but I also know that I can spend all my time just doing research. For the book I'm writing about a tornado, I've done lots of research about tornadoes and forecasting the storms. Watching the Weather Channel is also quite useful for me!

    Please enter me in the drawing for your book!

  80. Nancy C, I think that's right Babineau sounds right.

    I remember The Maxwell Land Grant and google that and go from there when I want more answers.

  81. Sandy you're going to blow someone away with a tornado??????

    Good girl! There's an action scene. LOL

  82. MARY SAID: "I don't have to do much scene setting. My characters all have pretty much one change of clothes. One gun. One horse."

    LOL ... I don't know, Mare ... I'm writing a Western right now and it aint' no picnic ... ;)

    And just so you know, the reason I did SO much research on San Fran was because my editor grew up there. I mean, come on, really??? After I ran into research problems on A Passion Most Pure because my editor's hubby was an Irish historian????

    Not sure that's fair ... ;)


  83. Mary, I've had fun researching my novels. With one of my books, I researched bakery layouts and designs, menus, and architectural blueprints. With another, I read police blogs and stories that didn't require proof that I was a police officer (because I'm not).

    But I'm learning how to figure out what I need to research beforehand and how to wisely use my time so I don't go off on wild goose chases (although with me, those seem to sometimes provide the best scenes).

    I'd have never guessed you didn't grow up near a cave after reading the Kincaid Bride trilogy.

    Thanks for the blog.

  84. Hi Mary
    I adore your books and love the behind-the-scenes stuff that created them - too cool. I enjoy research as well. I've always clipped articles from newspapers since I was a elementary school girl when a story caught my fancy. Of course, being adopted as a baby, most of the stories I clipped were about abandoned babies, and one about a young mother who was murdered and the baby was missing. I don't know if the little baby was ever found...

    I still "clip" stories from across the 'Net that strike me as interesting. I also try to stick to my path of search, but sometimes that bunny trail is just too hard to resist. I'm like Dug the Dog from the Pixar movie Up. (SQUIRREL!!)

  85. Did you buy the milk and bread??

  86. Yes, Mary, my tornado is my action scene. I'm actually blowing away a whole town.

  87. Tanya, I remember a review about one of my books that said, "You can tell from her vivid descriptions that Mary grew up on a ranch in the Rocky Mountains."

    Or something like that.

    Huh. I drove through them once. Wikipedia and youtube, the writer's friend

  88. DebH, I hope you save those clippings. Those are story ideas, girl.

  89. Milk but no bread. I didn't want him thinking I was a doormat.

  90. Sandy I suppose it is really wrong that your comment made me laugh


    I CANNOT WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  92. DeanneCnnamongirl
    Wow, I absolutely love the research you put into your books. What inspires me is when I am reading a book that is so great that I have to look up information from it on the computer. I have found so much information in fiction books that I have looked up on the computer and just been blown away by. Book reading to me is just like Christmas every day !

  93. Deanne, thank you so much.
    I know what you mean about reading a book and wanting to know MORE about the story, setting, conflict going on.

    I love when a book awakens my curiosity like that.

  94. A is it yo a historic flood sit has inspired me, but that story is still two manuscripts away. At least.

  95. Rhonda
    Side note for you... I'm left-handed, right-eye dominant. A bit wonky.

  96. Mary, thanks for showing how research can lead us to more than what we were originally looking for. I love researching obscure information about history. Fascinates me!

  97. The problem with research is time. Who can resist running from story to story because of the fabulous finds that have nothing to do with what you were looking for in the first place. I had to do some research for last year's Speedbo because I'm not quite old enough to know where to find a long tin tub in 1911 in the middle of South Dakota. Love your books. Looking forward to this next release.

  98. Mary, you replied to one of the comments "...may me too much research."

    My protagonist in "Better than a Morphine Rush" is a high school athlete who looses a lower leg to cancer and has to learn to play basketball while wearing a prosthesis. Two months ago I had a mastectomy and soon will get my prosthesis. Too much research? I think so. By the way. The good news is the PET scan shows no cancer anywhere in my body and other tests show a 3-percent chance of recurrence if I take a hormone blocking pill for five years. God is good!

  99. Oh, the hours I can spend sucked into research! I remember reading Rilla of Ingleside when I was 11 and promptly checking out 5 books from the library all about WWI. I actually hadn't heard of Andersonville Prison before reading Swept Away (And I went to college in GA! What a missed opportunity - I could have visited!) so soon as I finished the book, I went straight to wikipedia and several other sources to read up on it. What a horrifying place!

    But when it comes to writing, my mind tends to go speculative fiction. So I'll be listening to a news piece or watch something factual and my brain goes "what if the opposite happened?" - like, what if the weak survived over the strong? Or, what if teachers were the best paid positions and actors/athletes were at the bottom?

  100. Great post, Mary! My research philosophy has been "research as necessary," but researching for fun then building a series around it sounds so much more exciting!

    Congrats on your new release!

    Oh, and Melissa, I totally had visions of the "undead monkey" from Pirates of the Caribbean as I read your first comment, lol. Incredibly interesting!

  101. I love,love, love research and make no apology for it. The favorite of my books came directly from research my hubby started. He came home from one of his wandering trips telling me he'd found an old gold minig town I should visit. He thought there was a story in the grave yard. So we went to Florence Idaho again the next summer. He was right. Daughter of the Dragon laid itself out in front of me as I stood there reading the head stones. Since then I've collected books and photos from everywhere we've visited. Never know when someting will catch my attention again.

  102. Sandy, if you're still researching tornadoes, google the Pilger tornado in Pilger Ne last year. Most of the town was destroyed. They are still rebuilding.

  103. Ebookauthor, I have actually saved the newspaper articles about the Pilger tornado. It is certainly going to be helpful.

  104. Sometimes when I am reading fiction there will be some details based on fact.That often prompts me to want to find out more so I go digging online.
    I'm looking forward to reading Now and Forever. That's quite a statement to say it is the funniest book ever written by Mary. I always laugh when I read her books, because of the banter between the characters.

  105. I totally envisioned Carlabad Cavern when I read this book! Bravo! I love research too!! So many readers think of it as work we have to do, and I admit freely that I think it's fun! Though, it does take up a lot of time--which is high in demand. :)

  106. Hi Mary! Can't wait to read more about the Wilde girls. :)

    I just got done with my trip touring the beauties of God's creation. Yellowstone is amazing, plus I got to tour lots of museums on the way there and back. I agree research is so much fun. I love it when an idea grabs you and runs away with you. I figure if it grabs me; it oughta grab my readers too. :) Don't ya think?

  107. So excited that Now and Forever is coming out this month! I absolutely loved Tried and True. :D

    I'm slowly learning how to like research. I go through phases of loving it and thinking "Am I EVER going to find the information I need?!"

    But thanks for your helpful post!

  108. Research is a fantastic tool! I'm in college studying Professional Writing, so it's something I use often. I start out with an idea for a paper, poem, story, or project, etc., and then my research sends that idea off in new directions and gives me tidbits of info or new possibilities to make my original thought better and more fleshed out.

    I also tutor academic writers, so I constantly extol the wonders of research and help clients learn more effective research strategies so they can implement lots of research and improve their writing projects.

    I'd love to be added to the drawing!