Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Ride-Along for Researching The Contemporary Novel

What an exciting week. Sandra here, to tell you about my research for my current work in progress (wip).



If any of you follow my Facebook page, you will know that my hero is a county sheriff for Yavapai County in Arizona, which includes the Sedona area. I have family members who have or are working in the police force and county sheriff’s office in the city. But it is very different in this sparsely populated county that is 8152 square miles. Many of those miles are rugged red rock canyons and cliffs. Tourists attracted to the famous Sedona area often venture out beyond their experience level and become lost. This keeps the sheriff deputies busy and provides wonderful grist for the plot and story.

View of Sedona from Airport Mesa Trail
My story starts with an Alzheimer’s patient from the heroine’s adult day care center wandering out into the desert. He is an avid hiker so was able to travel far when he wandered out of the facility. The hero is the deputy who finds him. Well I certainly need to know the procedures taken for search and rescue.

I got to sit in the front seat. Very exciting.

To learn more about the extraordinary work of my hero, I went on a ride-along with a Yavapai County sheriff’s deputy.  Guess what our first call was? A mountain bike rider was lost in the desert outside of Dead Horse State Park. Within the park, there are miles of trails and they connect with trails into the adjacent national forest and he had ventured out and become lost.

All calls in the county show on the computer in the car.

We answered the call and I was able to meet the deputy in the Forest Unit, which is the unit that conducts search and rescue. I observed and learned first hand the procedure for searching and rescuing a lost victim. How about that for “asking and receiving” exactly what I needed for my wip.
I didn’t even know they had a unit designated specifically for search and rescue. It makes sense, especially in an area where so many inexperienced tourists venture out on trails, unprepared for the high desert and the rugged terrain.

Back pack gear and First Aide kit ready for search and rescue operations.


After the ride-along, I was privileged to have lunch with the Lieutenant in charge of the region. He was a wealth of information. I learned what my hero will need to do to become a lieutenant, what it means to be a sergeant. We also discussed some of the major issues in this region.

The Lieutenant presented me with an official Yavapai County Sheriff coffee mug.

Join me for a cup of coffee.


Did I have to go on a ride-along? Did I have to visit the Sheriff’s substation in Oak Creek Village?

Sub-station in Oak Creek Village


No, I could have gotten most of the information by researching on the Internet. But for me, it makes it more real to be there. I loved riding in the car. The beeps and sounds of the computer would not be in the Internet. Nor would the reaction of the deputy when a hot tone sounded. The hot tone was an alert to a dangerous and serious situation and he explained that whenever he heard that tone, his adrenalin pumped.

Swat helmet and vest ready to go.


We traditionally think that we need extensive research when writing historical novels. We do. But we also need extensive research for contemporary novels as well.

Here are some quick tips that are a help to follow when doing research:

1.     Find out all you can about the setting.
·      Go there if possible.
·      Or call on someone who lives there. If you belong to RWA or ACFW, there are bound to be members in the area.
·      Look at photos, travelogues, weather reports, etc.
·      What you find out can turn into a plot twist. Or conflict.
2.     Research the occupation of the major characters:
·      Interview people in that occupation.
·      Find out their motivation to pursue that occupation.
·      Find out the procedures to achieve positions in that occupation.
·      Ask about the difficulties they face and the rewards they receive.
·      This will give you ideas to deepen your characters and plot.
·       

Can you share some exciting research events you have experienced that changed your manuscript?  Please comment and share. Your name will be put in the sheriff’s mug for a chance to win a surprise package of Seeker books.

Sandra Leesmith writes sweet romances to warm the heart. Sandra loves to play pickleball, hike, read, bicycle and write. She is based in Arizona, but she and her husband travel throughout the United States in their motorhome and enjoy the outdoors. You can find Sandra's books here on Amazon. Three of Sandra's most popular books are also audio books at Audible. You can read more of Sandra's posts here.

107 comments :

  1. As a reader, I very much appreciate a well-researched book, It adds authenticity to the story. I really admire authors who go the extra mile to get it "just right". I know a couple of Love Inspired Suspense authors who feature K-9's. They have posted some of their adventures working with actual officers on FB or blogs. It's amazing the wealth of information a writer can gather if they are able to experience the research in real life. Like you said, you can hear the beeps or whirls of a call or feel the officers adrenaline pour out of him when he does get a serious call. You can show the reader by telling them all these things if you experience them for real yourself (or observe them) :-) I'm with you on encouraging authors to go to as many places as possible in the name of research...your readers (me included) will thank you!

    Just a side note: when my husband went through two citizen police academy courses through our local police station, he did several ride-alongs. We live in a fairly small town so thankfully he didn't have to witness something really scary. He did enjoy those tremendously and learned a whole lot more about what our officers go through in a day. His respect level rose :-) And he made some new friends to boot!

    Please add my name to the Sheriff's mug for a Seekerville surprise package of books.

    P.S. Thanks for sharing some fun pictures! I had no idea how much equipment they carry along, wow!

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    1. Hi Trixi, Yes, they do carry a lot of equipment. Most of the county is really rural and isolated. Sounds like a win win for your hubby to end up with friends as well. Have a great day.

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  2. Hi Sandra:

    Wish I could visit Sedona. Would love to live there one day. As of now, reading your books is the next best thing.

    I agree the best research is being there in person to walk the walk just as your characters have.

    Here's my best tip which it took me many trips to figure out: be sure to five sense your research at the time you are doing it!

    Readers love well written five sensed stories but don't rely on memory. When you are in the police car make a note of: what it smelled like, what was the temperature, how did the seats feel (texture), what did it sound like in the car? Could you hear what was going on outside the car, what did the engine sound like, what could you see from the front and back seat? Could the doors in the back seat be opened from the inside of the car? How comfortable were the seats? Did wind or air whistle in thru the windows? How did the radio traffic vary?

    You get the idea. This goes for each new venue be it a cave, mountain top, kiva, river's edge or lake front.

    Look and note the unexpected. This is what will stimulate a reader. What I noticed in an air balloon was that I could hear what seemed like every dog in the town barking. Who would think that?

    One more thing I really like: when in a new area ask what are the local landmarks. Especially the lesser known secondary landmarks. If you have your character drive by a secondary landmark that only locals are aware of, then your story builds credibility. The story will seem very real to readers who have lived in that area. In short, write the stuff you could only know if you were there in person and experienced it yourself. That comes across as real.

    BTW: When is the pickleball season?

    Vince

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    1. Vince, that is terrific advice! Thank you.

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    2. I agree with Tina. Great advice as per usual from you. I've received some of my best writing tips from you dear friend. And yes, the deputy pointed out many landmarks that you would never notice or think of as a tourist. He took me to some of the colorful parts of the county -geographically and sociologically. (I hope those are words-Grammar Queen LOL)

      Every time he answered a call, he locked me in the car. It was kind of weird to be sitting there and all the locks click down as he's walking away. Of course I knew I had to stay in the car, but it gave me a sense of what a criminal being put in the back seat would feel. There was definitley a sound to that.
      Turns out it wasn't to keep me in but to protect his guns that are in the car. When he is by himself and walks up to a house or other car, he doesn't want anyone to mess with the car or what is inside. It is automatic for him to lock it.

      Thanks again for the great advice. Have a wonderful day.

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    3. Pickleball season is all year long. We play every day if we can. That is why I love to travel so we can follow good weather and our pickleball friends. Many cities and towns now are providing indoor courts during inclement weather. These are usually in recreational facilities.

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    4. Vince I'll add here, yes absolutely the five senses, these are so often the real key to awakening deep involvement with your reader.

      HOWEVER we have to be so careful to NOT have the five senses attributed to ... like in this case ... policemen when they are so USED to the five senses.

      I read a book for someone, critiqued it, about...was it a dairy farm or a pig farm? And the author went on and on about how awful it smelled.

      I said, "You overdid this."

      She said, "I went to one. It stunk."

      I said, "Yes and to an outsider this is a good reflection of what they are experiencing. But to the people who live there, they just don't go on and on about it. They're used to it. So you put too much of the senses, especially the smell, in the wrong POV character head."

      Does this make sense? Because the longer I type the less sure I am.

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    5. So a policeman wouldn't like over react to how loud a gun is. How strong the smell it. He'd note the crack of a shot, the smell of sulphur, but he's used to it. He expects it.

      To underscore things like that for the reader you need an innocent, a newcomer to those senses to be noting them.

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    6. Mary, I agree! As a reader, I really don't want an author to drone on & on about something. It makes it tedious and frustrating, I may end up either skipping a whole lot of parts or put the book down altogether! I say have a good balance of senses in your story :-) Just my perspective anyway!

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    7. Good point Trixi, yes, we have to make subtle suggestions. That's what works. Going on and on sounds like preaching. And Mary, you're so right on about the smells. One there all the time tunes it out. A newcomer notices so you need to put that in pov of someone who isn't used to it.

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    8. Hi Sandra:

      Your comment below might really help a mystery writer's detective.

      "One there all the time tunes it out."

      A bad guy pretending to pass for a worker in the stockyards, mentions to the investigating detective about the terrible smell.

      Well Jack Reacher would know at once that they guy was a fake! 'Cause he would be use to the smell! What a great use for the five-sensing idea! It's a version of the dog who didn't bark!

      More good ideas from Seekerville!

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    9. Hi Mary:

      Your comments on 'who would notice/sense what' is very important. It makes perfect sense. It is in the same category as not having dialogue that the two parties would never have-- just because the writer wants to introduce some backstory. However, I think this 'sensing' mistake is much hard to catch on the part of the writer. Just something else to look out for!

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    10. Pickleball!

      I think I saw at the Health Zone a poster for an indoor pickleball league. That's why I asked about seasons. So is it like bowling with leagues all the time? Or do they really run by having tournaments? I'm not sure why I find pickleball so interesting. I'm not in condition to play it. Maybe it's all in the name. :)

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    11. Hi Vince, Some clubs have leagues and some host tournaments. The tournaments are usually money making events. Leagues are designed to give players challenging play at their level.
      You need to go to usapa.org usapa.org because they tell you all about how the game got its name. They have videos showing the play also. Very interesting game.

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  3. That is so much cooler than me and my Google!!
    Great research!!!

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    1. More fun for sure. The deputy was so fun. He was really interesting to talk to.

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  4. As a reader I always appreciate the research done.

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    1. Thanks Mary. Good to hear from you. Happy reading.

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  5. I have always appreciated the research that authors do to make their stories more authentic. If a book doesn't appear to have been researched the story to me appears to be flat.

    I would love to have my name tossed into that beautiful Sheriff's cup to win a surprise package of books.

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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    1. Hi Cindy, Thank you. I think some authors get away with it because they really do their paper/internet research. We travel a lot and my imagination just goes wild when I see new sights. chcukle. Guess that's why I had to be a writer.
      Have a great day.

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    2. Sandra, I would think it would be a requirement for an author to have a great imagination! :-) Say for example; you see a couple in a restaurant and me as a reader thinks nothing of it (though I love people watching). Whereas you as a writer start to imagine what they are thinking, what their everyday life is, do they have kids, what career they have and etc. Your imagination goes crazy...so yes a healthy dose of that is what would be needed to come up with some crazy or normal ideas.

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    3. You get it Trixi. When I was a child, we used to travel a lot and weren't allowed to talk in the back seat (because us kids would get into it. LOL) So as we would drive through a town, I would make up all kinds of things about the people in the town. Guess that's how I'm wired. LOL

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  6. I've so far done a seven hour ride along with the police in Wisconsin with The Writer's Police Academy (highly recommended) and a ten hour one with the Glendale Police Department. This were such valuable research. Again as I nag about often, I think every writer should do their local Citizen's Police Academy. It really gives you insights into your community that you can't learn any other way. It sparks story ideas as well.

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    1. Hi Tina, I thought of you as I was doing this. I was thinking, "Tina is going to be so proud of me." chuckle It was really inspiring and you are so right. He showed me communities I didn't even know about and I churned up a whole bunch of new ideas. yay

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    2. The county sheriff is actually our neighbor. But I'll be this rural area would be BORING.
      I'd need to ride along in a town.

      And then what would that have to do with my cowboys?

      Still, I kind of want to do it.

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    3. Mary, You would be surprised what is out in the rural area. You should go and see what is really there. I had no idea some of the stuff he showed me in the rural areas of Yavapai County.

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  7. Great tips, Sandra! I'm surrounded my law enforcement all day. I'll certainly be applying some of your suggestions.

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    1. Yes, it sounds like you have a super great opportunity. Have a wonderful day observing and writing.

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  8. wow. that is so cool, Sandra. I'd love to do a ride-along or a Citizen's Police Academy. Of course, Guppy would want to go as well *heh*. Usually though, I'm a bit shy about approaching people of the professions I'm attempting to write about since I'm not a published author and the possibility of a WIP I'm working on seeing the light of publication is pretty slim. I know when people help an author, they're always interested to seeing the book once it gets written.
    Guess I need to get over that... *grin*

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    1. Hi Deb, Don't be shy. You will find that people love to talk about themselves and their work. How often to you get a captive audience? - smile. If you act professional and respect their position and answers, you won't have a bit of a problem. I tell them I'm an author. Most people don't even ask about my publishing history. Just keep them talking about themselves. LOL

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    2. Deb, I'm always shy about it as well. Terrified, actually.

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  9. I always appreciate knowing that the author has tried to make his/her book as accurate as possible. Their efforts are very obvious!
    Please add my name to the Sheriff's mug for a Seekerville surprise package of books.
    Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950AtgmailDotcom

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    1. Thank you Connie. Your name is in the mug. Have a super great day.

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  10. So neat that you had the opportunity to research like this, Sandra! AND it was so fun to hear about it IN PERSON last night! :) LOVED getting to see you. But 2 1/2 hours went WAY too fast!

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    1. Yes, Glynna it certainly was the highlight of my week to spend time with you. I couldn't believe how much time had flown by either. Way to much fun. Have a great day.

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  11. WOW! That is great research. I think my most intensive research has been on home education, learning, and on autism. Though not always exciting. . the information I have found has changed our kids lives. Becky B.

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    1. Hi Becky, That is wonderful that you were able to find information that helped your family. What a blessing. Sometimes it just takes courage to go out and ask questions. As I've said earlier, most people love to talk about their knowledge base. Happy writing.

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  12. How exciting, Sandra. I attended the Citizen's Police Academy in my local town and learned so much! God bless law enforcement! They're heroes in my book!

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  13. Yes, Debby it was very exciting. I'm sure you enjoyed Academy especially since you write suspense. And yes, they are heroes. They protect and serve with their lives. True heroes.

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  14. Good morning Sandra.

    I need to sign up my local citizen policy academy. Sounds like fun. But, no, I wouldn't like the doors locking as I'm sitting there either.
    I'm trying to get permission to sit in on at an emergency call center right now.

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    1. Oh Connie that sounds really interesting. I bet you learn a lot from that experience. It wasn't really scary to me to be locked in. But the sound of the doors locking and my imagination just had a heyday with picturing what I would feel if I didn't want to be there. LOL Happy researching.

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  15. Wonderful post, Sandra! Research fascinates me. At a MDA fundraiser we bid on s tour of a fire station for our entire family. The adults were as fascinated as the grandkids. We ate with them. Watched them put on their gear. Rode in the fire truck with the siren going. Some went up in the bucket. Some manned a hose. The experience didn't fit my historicals but it proved seeing something can fire up a writer.

    The most interesting research I've done was finding an authentic remedy for my doctor hero to peddle in Courting the Doctor's Daughter. No fake tonic for Luke!

    Janet

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    1. Hi Janet, I've always been fascinated by all the research you do for your novels. I've learned more history from you that I didn't know which is saying a lot because I love history. But you have surprised me with some terrific details and insights. Happy writing.

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    2. Stories teach many things!! You've taught me a lot about places!

      Janet

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    3. Hi Janet:

      Speaking for "The Second Child Association", we appreciate your mention of "Courting the Doctor's Daughter".

      "Second Children Have to Try Harder."

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  16. HELLO SANDRA! Thank you for sharing your research adventure with us. As a reader, I appreciate ALL the hard work of research. It gives the story great depth.

    Please put my name in the sheriff’s mug for a chance to win a surprise package of Seeker books.

    BLESSINGS!

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  17. HI Caryl, Thanks for your comment. It delights me that readers enjoy the research as well. Happy reading and yes, your name is in the mug.

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  18. My "research" usually comes to me at times I'm not expecting. Because I write historical I alwasys have my eyes open for interesting facts about the past and sometimes they just fall into my lap. Like the time my dad showed me his cowboy magazine and there was an article in it about tying mud tails. Anyone know what that is? Myra? I didn't until I read the article but it's definitely going in my book! Great post Sandra. Riding around with that sheriff had to be awesome!

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    1. Hi Cindy, Yes, it was awesome. And now I'm really curious about mud tails. Are you going to leave us in suspense? chuckle. Do we have to wait for your book? Oh my.

      But isn't it fun how little things crop up. I love the history channels on television too. I learn all kinds of little tidbits of info that goes into a story somewhere. Isn't it fun being a writer?

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    2. Lol - didn't mean to leave it like that. Basically a mud tail is this sort of knot thing you put in a horse's tail to raise it up (like a woman putting her hair into a bun, I guess) to keep it from dragging in the mud.

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    3. Oh bless you for relieving the suspense. I think I've seen those. And what an interesting little tidbit of info for your wip. Thanks Cindy.

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    4. This is me, too, Cindy. I'm researching another book and find some little tidbit that will inspire the whole next series.

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  19. Sandra, this was a fun post. Very interesting to hear about your research experience. I'm sure it will show in your book. I look forward to reading it.

    Please toss my name in the mug for the books!

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    1. Hi Sandy, Thank you for the compliment. It was fun to ride along. The deputy I went with was a hoot. He had a fun sense of humor which I think you need in that job. smile

      Your name is in the mug. Happy writing.

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  20. Love this post Sandra and totally agree about doing research. I am a visual and Kinesthetic learner. Gotta touch and see to "get it".

    My current WIP was developed in reverse. I had completed the Manitou Incline in Manitou Springs,Colorado a couple of years ago and thought it'd make a great place for a suspense scene. So the story came after the research. Does that still count?

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    1. You bet it counts, Sharee. How exciting. Now I can hardly wait to read the book. Most of my story ideas come after I've been visiting in an area. I love how the ole brain takes hold and sets of the imagination. smile

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  21. OOOH and pretty please toss me into the cup for the drawing. Thank you!!

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  22. Thank you Sandra, I enjoyed the ride along!

    I write nonfiction but it is interesting when interviewing people... they sometimes have very different memories of the same event.

    Please toss my name in the mug for your drawing.

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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    1. Hi Phyllis, yes it is interesting how people bring a different take into the same event. That's why I never worry about anyone stealing my idea for a story because we will write it so differently based on our own experiences. smile And you're in the mug.

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  23. Thanks for sharing this information, Sandra. I'm headed to the Black Hills at the end of the month for vacation. I've set one of my series up there. The first story is about firefighters, so I'm thinking I'll stop by the fire station to see if I can interview one. Thanks for giving me a head start on questions to ask.

    I can't wait to read the story you're working on. Sounds wonderful.

    ~ Renee

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    1. Hi Renee, Best wishes on getting the info you need. Hope you don't have to really experience a fire. Yikes. But we have been on site for forest fires and you would be amazed what all goes on behind the scenes. You'll love the Black Hills. Have fun with your research.

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  24. Sandra, you amaze me! I'm always bashful about asking someone for interviews. Your ride-along sounds fantastic! I'm sure it'll make your story richer.

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    1. HI Missy, Don't ever be shy because as I mentioned to Deb H. most people really love the opportunity to talk about themselves and their work. It is usually so much fun.

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  25. Book research sounds like a great excuse to travel! As much as I love to read to escape to other places, there's nothing like visiting the actual location and experiencing it for yourself. I bet that probably really helps with the writing process.

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    1. Hi Heidi, You are so right about that. Its a blessing to escape into someone else's world. Sometimes it makes you appreciate your own even more. smile

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  26. Hi Sandra:

    Today's comments so far have make me think of something else I missed about 5-sensing.

    Record your emotions and first impressions! What did it feel like when you first 'x'. One of the most memorable and beautiful passages I've read in romance is one Audra wrote about someone high up in the Rockies looking out at a panoramic view of the valley below. The wording was poetry. I could feel what I think the character was feeling -- not by being told but by having the same feelings in me stimulated by the poetic writing.

    When you are taking down what you are feeling thru the senses while doing research also take down a poetic attempt at your emotional state.

    Of course, you do do this very well in your writing. You are a poet (you wrote a whole book in verse) and your "Promise" books have characters being emotionally impacted by the beauty of your locations.

    I just mentioned Audra's passage because I was in the same type of place when I drove to Crested Butte and the feelings the character in the story was experiencing was just as I remember mine to have been. That's memorable!

    Everybody: Please write like that!!!

    Vince

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    1. Thank you Vince, I remember that passage in Audra's book also. I love nature so appreciate all descriptions. Thanks for the compliments on my writing.

      My hubby is always so blessed and I've always maintained that God loves how much hubby appreciates His creation. Every artist loves being appreciated. smile

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  27. Sandra, great post! What a fun way to research your WIP! Not sure I'd like being locked in the car, though, especially if it was hot!

    I had an idea the other day for a story involving our local Abbey which is a rural Trappist monastery. I've been to their wine tastings, but this morning I was researching their "Retreats." Accommodations are not resort-like. They encourage you to disconnect and listen. They say, "Regardless of why you come here, your silence and your deep listening will allow you to hear God's voice in a new way. As the Psalms challenge us: Be still and know that I am God (Ps. 46:10)."

    I'm intrigued and looking forward to booking a time for a little research and quiet time! LOL

    Thanks for sharing your research project and I'd love for my name to be added to the sheriff's mug!!

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    1. Hi Kathryn. I'm so envious of your retreat. I love places like that. There is a Franciscan Renewal Center in Phoenix area that has little rooms that are sparse and then on the grounds, lots of places to sit and pray. I love it. Have fun and enjoy your listening.

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    2. Kathryn, that sounds like an amazing place! We have a monastery not too far from here, and I believe they still allow retreats like that. I've always wanted to do it.

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  28. One of the reasons I decided to write fantasy was to avoid having to do that much research, but it sure makes it difficult when I do need to research something.

    Here's me trying to do a ride along to help research my book:
    Uh, Mr. Dragon Rider, sir, can I ride on your dragon with you?
    ...
    ... I didn't think so

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    1. Hi Nicki, You may not have to research so much with fantasy, but you do need to keep track of the new world you create. Research might help you develop that world. For example if your fantasy world has a police department, then if you know how one operates, it makes your fantasy one more real. Happy writing.

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    2. Oh Missy, I was wondering what you were laughing at and then reread Nicki's comment. You're right. That is funny, Miss Nicki. Would you ride on the dragon? LOL

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    3. Oh, yeah, I would totally ride on the dragon...

      Probably...

      As long as I don't chicken out like I do on roller coasters...

      And as long as I have the dragon rider with me to make sure I don't fall off... or maybe a nifty saddle like Hiccup made to strap myself on... or both.

      Sigh. I wish I had my own dragon

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    5. Oh Nicki, I can see you are a writer. smile Yes, it would be wonderful to be on the dragon with a hero. smile

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  29. Sandra, thanks for sharing your ride along with us.

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  30. Sandra, Thanks for the insight as to why research through actions (the police ride-along, etc.) can add valuable insights to your WIP. My husband jokes he can tell where my next book is going to be set depending on the list of places I suggest for the family vacation as I always seem to add venues that have some research angle. Thanks for the insight.

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    1. Good idea, Tanya! I haven't done that in a while. May need to set a story at the beach sometimes. That's my favorite vacation spot.

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    2. Smart hubby you have Tanya. Good idea though. You can write off part of the trips if they involve research. smile

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    3. Vacation.... Ah the very wordakes me sigh! And those retreats... They sound marvelous.

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  31. Sandra I'm on my phone, watching kids, but what a great experience this was!!! I love that you did this and now you're a bona fide tracker! I love real life research. It puts me in touch with the reality. Great descriptions here, my friend.

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    1. Thanks Ruthy, It was a great experience. Have fun with those kids. They are lucky to be with you. smile You're always so full of fun things to do.

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  32. Research scares me as perhaps nothing else in writing. Since I write a little bit science fictiony, it isn't usually important. Except for my World War II story. That's killing me because I can't find anything on occupied China from a Japanese standpoint.

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    1. Hi Boo, Yes, it is scary sometimes, especially if you're writing something and you want to be sure it is authentic. Maybe Walt can help you with the Japanese viewpoint. I've seen some great historicals on the history channel. Hubby watches all that WWII stuff. There were several with Japanese pov.

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  33. What incredible timing you have to be right there when the search and rescue happened! It's details like the beeping of the onboard computer, the deputies surge of adrenaline, that really immerse a reader in a setting.

    I have friends who have horses and are so knowledgeable about them. I was asking one about how someone might ride at night through territory unfamiliar to both horse and rider. She answered my questions and then added, "You know, sometimes on a really dark night you can see sparks when the horse's shoe strikes a rock." Of course I didn't know that :-) And of course I included it in that scene.

    Thanks for sharing this adventure, Sandra!

    Nancy C

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    1. Oh Nancy, That gave me chills to think of putting the sparks from the horses striking the rocks. I bet that really enhanced that scene.

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  34. Loved your post, Sandra - especially since I used to be live in Arizona! It was familiar to me! I can always tell when an author has done a little bit more research to make the book more authentic! If I was an author, the research would be my favorite! I love that kind of thing! Thanks for sharing!
    Put me in the drawing for the box of books please!

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    1. Hi Valri, Great to hear from you. And yes, your name is in the mug. I'm glad it brought back memories.

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  35. Great post, Sandra - what a wonderful opportunity! I haven't done a ride-along with police, but years of working for community newspapers afforded me the opportunity to observe various law enforcement agencies and emergency workers as they responded to calls. I even carried a pager (tuned to fire channel) and often arrived at the scene far sooner than I wanted. In fact, it was occasionally horrifying and heartbreaking. On more than one occasion I left in tears. I loved my job, but I'm truly glad to be writing fiction now. Thank you for sharing your experience and advice!

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  36. Hi Laura, Oh how heartbreaking to have seen those circumstances. I'm sure though that they will give you the emotion for your stories and thankfully they will be fiction. Thanks for joining us. Happy writing.

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  37. Its getting that time for the next wonderful Seekerville blog. And time for me to say hello to my pillow. smile Thank you so much for joining us today. It was fun to learn about other real life research projects. Be sure and check the Weekend Edition for the winner of a surprise box of Seeker books. I'll check in the morning to see if there are other comments before I draw the winner.

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  38. This is my FAVORITE part of the writing journey... The research and adding these authentic details to my story.

    How fascinating!!! Thanks for sharing, Sandra. Know that coffee/tea/hot chocolate will taste oh-so-much-better in your shiny new mug too!

    As far as me, Paris had to be right on up there for researching. Went by myself and was on the ground for 28 hours. I'd researched what I needed to research prior to going. (I was already in Norway, visiting my DH who was working there at the time.)

    Saw/smelled/heard/tasted/felt everything I needed to, except visiting the infamous Paris sewers. THAT I got off the Internet though. :)

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  39. Hi KC, Great to hear from you and what a fun experience you had in Paris. I've never been there. Glad you left the sewer research to the internet. LOL
    Happy writing.

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    1. You just never know what we authors get into... BOL!

      Thanks for sharing this great post. :D

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    2. OH! And several who have been to Paris tell me they'd never seen it from a dog's perspective and it opened up new possibilities for them...

      Things I'd not have known to include had I not actually gone and walked the byways of the places we included in the story. :D

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  40. I think being in a real situation really sparks creative writing. for a number of years, I worked for a small-town police department which now lends itself to insightful police scenes, in regard to police duties and with the patrolmen personally. Riding along sounds awesome! Thanks for this post, Sandra.

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  41. SANDRA!!! Forgive my tardiness -- that seems to be a trait of mine lately with all the traveling I've been doing out of town. Sigh. And trust me, it's not always as fun as your travels, my friend. :(

    LOVE that your story involves an Alzheimer’s patient wandering out of an adult day care center into the desert and then you rode with a sheriff's deputy on a call that was a mountain bike rider lost in the desert outside of Dead Horse State Park!!! How cool is that???

    You asked: Can you share some exciting research events you have experienced that changed your manuscript?

    I'm not as good as you, Sandra, at doing the hands-on research, I'm afraid. The closest I came was having an editor who lived in San Francisco -- I arm-chair traveled with her and did tons of research since I had to make sure I described San Fran well enough for a native. ;)

    Hugs!!
    Julie

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  42. That's so cool you did a ride-a-long. and I love you resarched that much for a character. As a reader I appreciate the depth of a charcter and the insight into them.

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