In the seventies, Janet Daily and her husband traveled all over the United States in their RV, for her Americana Series. A book set in every single state was ground breaking! In 1997 Nora Roberts wrote Montana Sky, and the fun chatter on this book, which eventually became a Lifetime movie, was that all the details for the book were obtained from the internet!
Hold on to your tinfoil hats.
The internet. 1997. Imagine that!
She'd never even been to Montana.
I've lived in quite a few places: Western New York, Oklahoma, Colorado and now Arizona. Traveled to a few more, or lived there temporarily in the Army: Montana, California, Washington State, Alabama, Florida, Nebraska, Massachusetts, Germany, France, and Belgium.
To tell you the truth, it's actually more fun for me to write about areas I know and love.
The stretching of my comfort zone comes when I move outside of my area of expertise. Hmm, what exactly is my area of expertise?
- Burger flipper
- Morse Code Intercept Operator
- Oncology Nurse
- Teacher's Aid
- Cat Herder
- Library page
- Library cataloger
- Pharmacy Clerk
Unfortunately, I don't actually know much about those things. Writing about things we don't know is, for a contemporary writer, as much work as it is for a historical writer.
|I want to write about NINJAS!|
In my latest release, Rocky Mountain Reunion, I had to find out if it was possible for my engineer hero to move a house. A turn of the century Victorian at that. I emailed Brenda at D & B House Movers with that question. Is it possible? Spoiler Alert: check here.
The Rancher's Reunion, Oklahoma Reunion, Stranded with the Rancher, yes, all of my cowboy rancher books are way outside my comfort zone. I last rode a horse in...well, I was still in grade school. I'm an urban, armchair cowgirl who loves the west. I had to learn how to be a cowboy/cowgirl rancher from scratch. That meant I had to learn how to ride a horse, herd cattle, deliver calves, harvest hay, muck a stall and ride a tractor.
I watched dozens of videos on YouTube on the topics above, as well as how to groom, and ride a horse. I studied horses in detail. Cowboys too. I've also spent hours studying Tony Llama boots, Stetson and Resistol hats and belt buckles.
I got inspiration by saturating myself in movies like City Slickers, The Last American Cowboy, 8 Seconds, and The Longest Ride. (Language alert in clip.)
Mary and Ivan Connealy helped me with my hay harvesting, and calving education, (and more) and I spent hours upon hours, on farm, agriculture and ranching sites, reading forum responses from farmers.
I collected cowboy quotes. I absolutely love them, and now have several books full of them. They really get you into the mindset of the lore.
- Always drink upstream from the herd.-- Will Rogers
- If you're riding ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there. -- Old West Proverb
- Behind every successful rancher is a wife who works in town. -- Old West Proverb
- Talk low, talk slow, and don't say too much.-- John Wayne
|I want to write about cowboys!|
The hero of the book I just turned in,(working title: Second Chance in Paradise) stars Joe Gallagher, who is a transradial amputee. I know a few amputees, but none with the exact residual limb as my hero. For that book I contacted a prosthetist at Advanced Arm Dynamics who introduced me to Barry Landry, a cowboy with the same injury as my hero (except the opposite arm). Barry and my hero, Joe both use a myoelectric prosthesis. Barry's prosthesis in the picture is the Michelangelo. I spent weeks reading all the manuals and rehabilitation information for this device. I also exchanged emails with Barry for other questions.
As with any other research you spend hours learning about a topic only to use a minute bit of information in your story. After all, we're writing fiction, not technical manuals.
|I want to write about FBI agents.|
I was fortunate to graduate from the Phoenix Citizen's Police Academy this year. I learned enough to make my head spin, and got to fire a Glock 35. I now belong to this organization's alumni group. Last year I also went to Writer's Police Academy in Wisconsin along with Debby Giusti, Terri Blackstock. Rhonda Starnes, Terri Reed, and Margaret Daley. The guest speakers were Karin Slaughter and Allison Brennan. Wow, with that crowd I should be able to write a suspense by osmosis, right?
If you have the opportunity to attend WPA, do it. Don't hesitate. Anyone with police or fire personnel in their books will benefit from this amazing conference. Check out Lee Lofland's The Graveyard Shift for day to day suspense inspiration.
So that's my trek to new worlds...
What about you writers out there? How have you traveled out of your comfort zone and gone where you never went before? In your wildest dreams what would you write about?
Readers, do you have any advice for writers who create bold new worlds? Have you taken a chance and read outside of your usual reads and tried something new lately, only to be pleasantly surprised? Or do you prefer to stay in the same galaxy on a regular basis?
|John Wayne Vintage Metal Sign|
Rocky Mountain Reunion - Book Four in the Paradise series.
Nurse Anne Matson's structured life derails when a familiar patient enters her ER—the ex-husband she left ten years ago. Matthew Clark is the last person she expects to see in Paradise, Colorado, especially with a nine-year-old daughter. The single dad is running the town's biggest expansion project, but one thing stands in his way—Anne's Victorian home. When his daughter falls ill, and Anne volunteers to help with her care, Matt recognizes he's never stopped loving the spirited beauty. But how can he get her back when he plans to take all she has left…or can Anne see she has everything to gain—the family she's been denied?