Monday, May 14, 2018

Writing What You Know...and What You Don't Know


Missy Tippens and Guest Connie Mann



Missy: I’m excited to welcome my friend Connie Mann today to help me with this post. When I started considering writing a post about how I’ve recently written on a subject I don’t know much about, I decided to balance that with input from someone who writes what she knows. I could think of no better example of that than author and boat captain Connie Mann. We’re going to have a “chat” today for our post. A fun back and forth as we discuss writing what we know…and what we don’t know.

Connie: Prevailing wisdom says you should write what you know. And that can be good advice. Especially if you’re just starting out on the writing journey, and there is so much to learn, so many moving parts to navigate and coordinate, that not having to worry about major research into, say, microbiology, makes sense. But at any stage of the journey, this tactic helps streamline the process, allowing you to focus more on the other parts of the story.

[Missy: Wait! You just happened to name my former career. And I’ve written a character who is a microbiologist!]

Connie: Of course, you did! If that was my background (insert wide-eyed fascination), I would have, too! But writing what you know comes with its own pitfalls. I’ve been a USCG-licensed boat captain for over 12 years and when I’m not writing romantic suspense, I pilot a pontoon boat for the Silver River Museum and take local schoolchildren on the River Silver. 

If I’m not paying attention, I could easily spend the day on the River and never really notice the wildlife around me. “Oh, another alligator.” Yawn. 

 
(photo credit: Canva)


Connie: You wouldn’t think so, but it can happen. I never want to lose my joy in introducing children to nature and watching them get excited about the world around them. And that largely stems from my attitude—and from consciously seeing the world through their eyes.

We can slip into that same familiarity blindness with our writing. If your story is set in your hometown, or involves your career or hobby, what are the quirky, unique, or cool details about it that will appeal to readers and make it come alive? Or is it so familiar that it doesn’t register anymore?

This happened to me several weeks ago. I walked out by the lake and saw about a bazillion tadpoles. They looked like a dark cloud in two inches of water. I whipped out my cell phone and took a video. After I’d posted it on social media, someone commented how much they also enjoyed hearing all the birds. Wait, birds? I didn’t hear any birds. I replayed the video, and sure as shooting, there they were, singing their little hearts out. I hadn’t heard them. They’d become part of the background wallpaper of my life. And that made me more determined than ever to pay attention.

So, if you ‘write what you know,’ make sure you think through the telling details that make whatever it is unique and interesting and memorable.

Missy: Connie, I love these tips! I tend to write small southern towns. In creating my fictional towns, I envision small towns I’ve lived in or near—with the central courthouse and shops around a town square. Here's one I often picture...

Photo by Missy Tippens-- Dahlonega, GA courthouse

But I haven’t thought much about the sounds. Now that you made me close my eyes and consider what I may have heard in the past, I realized there have sometimes been trains! I need to add this detail next time…the whistle of a train late at night in the distance.

Connie: Oh, I love that detail. There is something very lonely about a train whistle at night. Great way to set a mood. 

But on the flip side, sometimes we write what we don’t know, and it can be a scary place. I am doing this now and I’m constantly worried I’m going to get everything wrong. (Anyone?)

[Missy raises hand.]

Connie: My new series with Sourcebooks comes out next year and centers around Florida Fish & Wildlife Officers. I had met several officers through my job and thought it would be a cool series—cops, with a bit of a different, more outdoorsy twist.

But after I spent hours and hours watching videos and doing online research, I realized I still didn’t know enough to portray them even close to accurately. So, enter the scary part: accepting that I needed to get out of my writing cave and go talk to an actual FWC officer. Gulp. Instead of cold calling the office, I employed my favorite (i.e. less scary) research tactic. I called a few guys I know and asked, “Do you know someone in FWC who might be able to help me?”

A friend connected me with the public relations officer at our regional FWC office. 

He was so gracious and gave me all kinds of information. Anything I get right in the series will be thanks to him and his fellow officer, who also arranged for a ride-along on the Silver River. They let me toss out possible scenarios and then ask, “Does that work? What would you do next?” They could not have been nicer and have been very patient with my follow-up questions, too.

Once I got past my fear—and the feeling that I was imposing (which they assured me I wasn’t)—I had a great time.

Bottom line: Don’t be afraid to ask. People are most often delighted to help. Sometimes they can’t, but in that case, employ the same tactic. “Who do you know who might be able to help me?” Keep asking until you get what you need.

Missy: Kudos to you for stepping out of your comfort zone to research your upcoming series. I really look forward to reading it!

I had similar fears with my newly released boxed set of contemporary novellas, Cowboys of Summer. I was thrilled when I was invited to participate with Sherri Shackelford, Cheryl St. John, Mary Connealy, Tina Radcliffe, and Lorna Seilstad. But then I immediately panicked. How could I ever write a cowboy story? Sure, I’ve ridden horses. I’ve even taken my daughter to “horse camp” and watched as she learned to care for horses. But the running of a ranch? Still, I felt God had provided me the opportunity. So, with knees knocking, I accepted the invitation. Then I did what all authors do who feel out of their wheelhouse… I hollered for help from some of my best writer friends. :)

[Connie: I love that you took that risk! Phone-a-friend is always my first and favorite strategy, too—and waaay less scary than cold-calling experts.]

Missy: You regular blog readers can probably guess who I called on for help. I immediately emailed Pam Hillman and Mary Connealy, whose husbands are ranchers—their very own real-life cowboys! They both assured me they would help. And boy did they! They offered website links and personal experiences. They answered my crazy emails and texts about fencing and birthing calves. And then, bless them, they even read a scene or two to make sure I didn’t embarrass myself. Now, this is where I have to add: ANY MISTAKES IN MY NOVELLA ARE MY OWN. If you see that I got something wrong, please don’t blame them. :)

[Connie: They were the perfect sources. How fun! By the way, I’ll have a similar disclaimer in my upcoming book. J]

Missy: What I’d like for you to take away today is that it actually is possible to write what you don’t know—with lots of research and the help of others. Like Connie said, don’t be afraid to ask.



Connie: I agree. It is definitely possible. Just don’t let fear of making a mistake paralyze you. Whether you’re writing what you know, or what you don’t, remember that stories hinge on those telling details, the things that make places like say, Florida and Arizona totally different, just like your story will be completely different from anyone else’s.

Happy writing!

We have giveaways! Missy is giving away 2 Kindle copies of Cowboys of Summer and Connie is giving away two print copies of Deadly Melody! (U.S. winners only this time.) Please let us know in the comments that you’d like to be entered.

Writers, have you tried writing what you don’t know? Readers, what do you think about writers creating stories about something that’s new to them?

P.S. Be sure to read below about Connie's special promotion: She'll be donating profits from preorders and this week's sales of Deadly Melody to help street children from the Philippines!

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Connie Mann is a licensed boat captain and the author of the Safe Harbor romantic suspense series, as well as Angel Falls and Trapped. When she’s not dreaming up plotlines, you’ll find “Captain Connie” on Central Florida’s waterways, introducing boats full of schoolchildren to their first alligator. She’s also passionate about helping women and children in developing countries break the poverty cycle. She and her hubby love traveling and spending time on the water with their grown children and extended family. (Hubby says they are good at fishing, but lousy at catching.) Visit Connie online at www.conniemann.com



Home is where the heart is. The danger, too . . .

The Martinellis were the closest thing to family Cat Johnson ever had. That’s why she ran—to protect them from her threatening past. The orphaned child of classical musicians, she’s been lying low in Nashville, and performing at the No Name Café. When Cat reluctantly agrees to attend the wedding of her beloved foster sister, the plan is simple: make a quick appearance at the Martinellis and then disappear again. Instead she’s thrust headlong into a nightmare.

After a wedding guest is murdered, Cat’s past descends with a vengeance. So does handsome and inquisitive Safe Harbor cop, Nick Stanton, who will stop at nothing to uncover the town’s secrets. That means exposing Cat’s as well. The more intimate Nick’s feelings for Cat become, the more driven he is to find out what she’s hiding. 

As things in Safe Harbor take a terrifying turn, Cat realizes that the man she’s afraid to trust might be the only one she can turn to. 

Special Promotion

Since the heroine of DEADLY MELODY is a musician, I’ve teamed up with the School in a Cart in Manila, Philippines, to support their street children’s band. Being part of something and learning to play an instrument is really helping these street children stay in school and get an education--their best hope to break the poverty cycle. I’m donating all my pre-order and first week’s royalties (via www.Lift-the-Lid.org) to make a difference in the lives of these children. Will you help me help them?

**************

As the summer weather sizzles, relax by the pool with stirring tales of handsome cowboys and the spirited ladies who wrangle them into romance. Six of Christian fiction's most beloved authors join forces to bring you a collection of humorous, romantic and heartfelt novellas set against the sultry heat of summer.

In "His Lone Star Heart" by Missy Tippens, rancher Zeb West tries hard not to fall for Beecher Brown, the feisty but off-limits sister of his best friend. As she tries to prove she's capable of running her family's ranch--the one he's trying to buy--he might just find he's met his match...for life.



After more than 10 years of pursuing her dream of publication, Missy Tippens, a pastor’s wife and mom of three from near Atlanta, Georgia, made her first sale to Harlequin Love Inspired in 2007. Her books have since been nominated for the Booksellers Best, Holt Medallion, ACFW Carol Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Maggie Award, Beacon Contest, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, and the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award. Visit Missy at www.missytippens.comhttps://twitter.com/MissyTippens and http://www.facebook.com/missy.tippens.readers.


102 comments:

  1. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! And hope all you mothers and mother-figures had a great Mother's Day!

    I'm leaving you late night readers some nice decaff coffee and tea. Enjoy!

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    1. Thanks, Missy! Hope you had a great weekend, too! So delighted to spend the day with everyone! Thanks again for the invite to chat today.

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  2. "Just another alligator", LOL! I love this, it is so true that sometimes we don't see the forest for the trees... what would Joyce Kilmer say to us???

    Thank you for this reminder that details matter, and that's particularly tricky for shorter romances where we can't wax poetic very often... so we have to keep those details short and crisp as part of the storytelling! This is a huge help, ladies!

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    1. Hi Ruth, I totally agree. That's the tricky thing, especially, like you said, for shorter stories. We forget that what is "normal" for our everyday world is something completely new for someone else. :)

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    2. Yeah, when I read Connie's comment about the alligator, my eyes nearly bugged out of my head! LOL But I'm sure it's the truth. Something I need to remember while writing the familiar!

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    3. Ruthy, I never even thought about the shorter books-- or novellas. Less space to go wrong in, more glaring if we do.

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  3. Coffee is here! Sweet tea, too, and there's some of that pseudo-coffee decaf stuff as well. Although it might be off to the side now that the Real Thing has arrived! :)

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    1. Thanks! Pass me another cup of the good stuff, would you?? A rainy morning makes me want to go right back to sleep.

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    2. Yay! I need a nice strong LEADED cup this morning!

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    3. Oh my stars, fresh leaded coming up for the afternoon crew! I'm right about that place where I need more caffeine!!!! Hey, ladies!

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  4. Good morning everyone and please pass the coffee!!! My kids schemed and I got to wrap my arms around both of them yesterday, so this mama's heart is full!

    It's raining here in Florida this morning and I'm scheduled to take students on the Silver River. It'll be a soggy day! I'll have to slip out for a few hours, but I'll be back to check in as soon as I am back on land. :) Don't have too much fun without me.

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    1. Connie, how wonderful that your kids came to visit! I got to spend the day with one of my kids. My youngest is home for the summer. I also got to spend a short time with the middle one at an out-of-town wedding on Saturday. So that was nice!

      My oldest, the one who graduated a couple of weeks ago, starts his new job today!! Prayers appreciated for a great start to this new venture!

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    2. Hooray for time with your kids! So glad the youngest is home and you got to see the middle one over the weekend. Here's hoping all goes really well for the oldest as he starts his new job! Exciting days!

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  5. I remember your tadpole post on facebook! What a great tip, to pay attention to the small details, I mean. Your new series sounds awesome.

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    1. Linda, we're glad you stopped by today! I agree that Connie's series sounds fantastic!

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    2. Thank you both! I'm super-excited about this series--and had a blast writing it!

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  6. Hi Missy, Hi Connie,
    As a reader I appreciate all the background research that goes into making a story authentic. It's truly impressive. There are so many topics I wouldn't have a clue if the descriptions are accurate or not, but once in a while if there's a local described I know well I can tell if the writer has really been there or not.

    The 'just another alligator" line has me laughing. I once went on a cruise to Belize and took a mangrove boat tour. Everyone, captain included, spent all there time hoping to spot an alligator. We finally spotted a baby about a foot long. My Alabama sister thought that was hilarious and said she had alligators bigger than that in the canal by her house, lol.
    Perspective is everything.

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    1. Tracey, I live in New England. We spot moose and whales.

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    2. Tracey, that's so funny! YES. Perspective is everything! hahaha

      You know, in my first book, I wrote about Gatlinburg, TN. We had visited there a lot for vacation, and I started taking notes on the setting. After that book was published, I got a letter from a reader who lived there who said I got it just right. I was so pleased by that!

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    3. Kathy, my dream is to go whale watching someday!!

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    4. Tracey, that's so funny! It IS all about perspective! :)

      Missy, you'll love whale watching! We got to go in Depoe Bay Oregon last summer and it was incredible!

      Katy, somehow I didn't think about the fact moose live in New England until you said that. In my Florida mind, they're "out west" animals, LOL

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    5. Oh, those moose!!!

      The New England moose are quite dignified and speak with a big of Boston/British twang!

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  7. Good morning, Missy and Connie, and good morning, Seekerville! Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.

    Ladies, it seems like God always gives me stories that include things I don't know. I've got a doozy coming up that I'm contracted for. It was one of those blurbs you write for your proposal, except when you're done writing it, you kinda pause and think, "Whoa. Who wrote that? And why? I know nothing about that subject." I wrote that blurb two years ago. The book is due next spring. And would you believe that when we moved last year, God put someone in my life who is an expert on just that topic? Well, of course you would believe it. I mean, that is so like God to do that. So like you said, we can't shy away from those things, because we never know how God is going to provide that which we don't know.

    Excellent post, ladies. And I also love the part, Connie, where you talked about finding the details and the quirky about those places we may know too well. Those are things that are so easy to overlook.

    BTW, Connie, I have a son who would LOVE your job. Except he'd be stopping at every alligator. He's a fanatic about gators. And he's a grown man! He caught one here at the ranch several years ago and he's been waiting for another one to show up ever since. Of course, this is the same guy who hunts snakes, just so he can catch them. (shaking head) He sure doesn't get that from his mama.

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    1. Mindy, I can identify. With the book writing, not the snakes. One of my dreams is to write an historical with characters before, during and after the Battle of Lexington and Concord. I live about an hour's drive from Lexington and Concord and know I could set the physical scene well enough, but oh those details! I'll probably have to spend a year researching it before I write a single line.

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    2. Mindy, that's amazing how God can do that!! I can't wait to hear more about the book!

      Kathy, I LOVE that area you live in! I chaperoned all three of my kids' trips to the Boston area when they were taking AP American History / American Lit in high school. Lexington in the fall was spectacular. I sure hope you'll write the story!

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    3. Kathy, sometimes when we go to those places, we need to just close our eyes and listen. Smell. Absorb all those things that our eyes miss.

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    4. Mindy, that is so like God, isn't it? How fun! As for your son, I know quite a few people around here who are just like him. They're mostly park rangers. :) I love nature, but snakes? Umm, nope, can't talk myself out of my fear of them.

      Kathy, your historical location is a fascinating place! I hope you don't let the research required keep you from telling the story. :)

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  8. Connie and Missy, what a good post. Things we need to constantly be reminded of. My first two books, and their sequels, are historicals, so of course I had to do research. My third series is a contemporary and I used a familiar setting, a made-up town in northern New Hampshire. I took it a little easy on myself with the hero and heroine's professions. He's a pastor, which my husband has done so I know the drill as it were, and she's a teacher, which I HAVEN'T done but it doesn't matter because she's on a break to care for her convalescing grandmother. So she IS a teacher, but she's not teaching for the period of the novel. Just went through initial edits for my first published book and the editor didn't find too many historical inaccuracies, but there's a whole world of readers out there and I am Holding My Metaphorical Breath.
    Temp job ended early so I have some free time this week, going to get caught up on my fiction writing, nonfiction writing, and getting the house ready for spring.
    Missy, I love the picture of the brick courthouse. Strange as it may seem, your small town Georgia square reminds me of a small-town New England square. Small-town New England isn't that different from small-town South, you guys are just more polite.

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    1. LOL, Kathy!!! Thanks for that laugh out loud moment!! I must admit I'm not so polite when I'm driving in heavy traffic. ;)

      You know, when I wrote my one and only story about a pastor, I tended to be a little too real and had to edit a good bit. People don't seem to want to read about pastors who are shown as human with faults. But that's all I know since I live with my hubby--who is definitely human and has very real faults. :) (Shhh, don't tell him I said that!) hahaha

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    2. Hahahaha...Kathy, you made me laugh! So true. And Missy, don't worry. We'll never tell!

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  9. You can write what you don't know
    As long as you don't forget
    That what you don't know
    Is just what you don't know yet.

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    1. Ahhh, Vince is waxing poetic again today! I love it. :) And so true!

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    2. Thanks for the great rhyme, Vince! Love It!

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  10. Hi Missy:

    "Cowboy in a Lab Coat"…the story of a big city microbiologist who inherits a ranch out west and has to learn cowboy ways quickly to win the hand his neighbor's feisty rodeo riding daughter?

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    1. Oooh, a fun story, Vince! You should take it and run with it. I'll help you with the research. :)

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    2. I'm with Missy. You should write that story, Vince! :) Fun!

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  11. Even with writing what I know, I have found there is a lot I still don't know and end up doing a google search or asking someone who does know. I just have to learn to not be afraid to ask or search out the answer.

    Sometimes I wonder what someone would think if they were to see the topics I search on Google.

    I hope everyone has a great week.

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    1. Wilani, I'm always hesitant to ask for help. Of course, I had no qualms about asking Pam and Mary. But I have a hard time asking professionals in fields I'm researching. But everyone who does it says the people they ask are usually happy to help. So I need to be braver!

      Yeah, I've wondered about my Google searches as well. LOL

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    2. Wilani, I totally hear you! Asking strangers is really hard. So I make it a smidge easier by asking friends to refer me to their friends. Then they're expecting to hear from me and the whole thing is much less nerve wracking. You can do it! :) (Oh, yeah, writer Google searches can be scary things!)

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  12. Thank you for this helpful post! I often wonder how this works with the fantasy genre, but maybe even if you are making up a world, you can still include credible things that you know or you've learned from others, to lend an authenticity to your story. Hmm....still thinking here. Amy

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    1. Amy, I think the main worry in fantasy is to keep track of the world you create so that everything makes sense to the reader. Especially if you continue that world in future books!

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    2. Yes, very true. Thank you!

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    3. I was thinking the same thing, Missy. Whatever rules you set up for your world, you have to stay within them as you write, or readers get frustrated. Good luck, Amy!

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  13. Connie, so good to have you with us today in Seekerville! Are you attending M&M this year? If so, I'll look forward to seeing you there!

    Great job, ladies, with today's blog post. I worry when I craft stories about areas outside my expertise. As a military brat and wife, I often stumble over glitches in military stories written by non-military folks. The mistakes are small and few would recognize the errors, but they make me realize I need to work hard to ensure my own stories ring true.

    Love your mention of hearing the birds, Connie! I, too, was focused on those tadpoles! :) Sometimes it's the little details that make the story interesting for readers...or as you mentioned, the quirky, unusual facts.

    Hugs to both of you! I hope each of you had a wonderful Mother's Day Weekend.

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    1. Thanks so much, Debby! Not sure yet about M&M, but I'll let you know if I can get there this year.

      I love that you were focused on the tadpoles, too, LOL! I have a sign by my computer that says, "Telling details," because I've realized those concrete, quirky or unusual little things can really make a ho-hum setting come alive for the reader!

      Hope you had a great weekend, too!

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  14. Missy, I love Dahlonega! Such a picturesque town with an interesting history! Two of my children got undergrad degrees from the University of North Georgia so I was there often during those years!

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    1. Dahlonega is such a pretty town! Only visited once, but so enjoyed it!

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    2. Debby, I love the town. Hubby and I spent a long weekend up there one fall. There is a lot to do on day trips from there. And also the fun shopping on the square.

      My husband's dad and grandmother both graduated from UNG!! I am pretty sure hubby told me his grandmother was valedictorian of her class! I imagine there weren't a lot of women there, then, since it was a military college.

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  15. Hi Connie and Missy!

    This was a great post!

    I set my first book in a place I knew very well - my family has lived there for generations, and my hubby and children and I lived there for seven years - and it worked. It had been nearly ten years since we had moved away and a touch of homesickness brought out details that I might have glossed over otherwise.

    My current series, however, is set in a time and place I have very little experience with. But I love research, and I did step out of my comfort zone when I visited the area a few years ago. I took my dad with me on a research trip to Ohio's Amish Country and we stayed in a bed and breakfast run by an Amish family. In spite of wanting to duck back into my writing cave on a regular basis, I had a lot of fun and got a feel for the area. There's nothing like standing in your character's shoes to lend realism to your writing.

    BTW - I understand Connie's tendency to "ho hum" about alligators. When we go to Custer State Park in the Black Hills, we're rarely one of the cars that pulls off the side of the road to watch the bison. We enjoy them, and they are impressive animals...but we see them so often that we don't make a big deal about it. :-)

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    1. Hi Jan, great comparison between gators and bison. :) It's all about what's the norm in your world, and then taking that detail/tidbit and putting it in front of people for whom it isn't everyday. In my first book, I was afraid to include too many local details and later I figured out that those were the things people loved. We want to go visit somewhere else through stories and meet people whose lives are very different from our own. I love that you got to spend time in an Amish B&B for research. Nothing like being there, as you said, to lend realism.

      Happy writing!

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    2. Jan, your research trip sounds wonderful! Thanks for charing the photos from your most recent trip at the Cafe today!! If y'all haven't dropped by, you don't want to miss Jan's post. www.yankeebellecafe.blogspot.com

      :)

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  16. Writing about what I don't know is really daunting to me. I would probably never write about a scientist or a boat captain! :) But even writing about what I am more familiar with still does require a bit of research. I also like starting with people I know.

    Please put me in the drawing!

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    1. You know I started with places I'd been here in NY... The North Country, then the mountains of the Southern Tier... but I always liked to consult the experts and have folks doing jobs that took detail... And then of course in a short book you can't go into very much detail but sometimes that ten words that you know you got right!!!! those made all the mental difference!!!

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    2. Hi Sandy, I think we all do some research for a story, no matter where it's set or how familiar the characters are to us. As writers, we want knowledge, we want to get it right. But then we have to balance that against saying, "enough is enough," research so we can move on (or meet a deadline, LOL!)

      Ruthy, oh, yes, those 10 perfectly right words can make all the difference! Every time!

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    3. Yeah, writing contemporaries in my fictional towns mean mostly researching the jobs my characters have.

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  17. I think the writers can definitely write about what they may not know well. I love reading the author’s note at the end of the book, especially in historical fiction, because it tells me how they researched to write a credible story. Would love to win Deadlt Melody (I’m currently starting Missy Tippens’ story in Cowboys of Summer 😁).

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    1. Mindy, I agree... it's all about studying, right? Talking to the right people... and then having fun with the characters because people will always be people!

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    2. Mindy, I love the author's notes, too! (I often read those first!) That peek into the research is such fun.

      Ruthy, that's the part I often have to consciously remind myself of--to enjoy the characters. Otherwise, I can let worry that I missed something crucial suck all the joy out of the process. :)

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  18. I’m out taking my mother to a doctor appointment. Will catch up in a bit!

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  19. How much fun was this to read? Great tips, great glimpses of your writing processes, and great give and take.

    I'm stepping out of my comfort box at the moment and trying a genre I've never written before, and the path is fraught with perilous doubts! I shall pull my bravery cloak about me and ask for help!

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    1. Erica, isn't that the Most Fun Ever???? It's like teaching 3rd grade for six years and then being moved to FIFTH GRADE!!!! Or lose your job!!!!

      I think it freshens us. Makes us sharper. And we have to sit right up and take notice!!!

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    2. LOL, Erica. I believe I'll think of that bravery cloak next time I have to step out of my extremely narrow comfort zone. :)

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    3. Oooh, I need a bravery cloak, too! I love that, Erica! Wrap it around yourself and enjoy that dive into a brave new world! It'll be awesome!

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  20. Hi Everyone, I'm back from a soggy day on the River, but we saw lots of wildlife--including alligators!--so the kids had a blast. Google is giving me trouble, but I'm determined to respond and chat. Hope this reply goes through...
    Connie

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    1. Connie, Google is a bit of a bear lately... ever since they decided to challenge Amazon for total World Domination.... Glad you got through!

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    2. Glad you're back! It's hot as blue blazes here today! And sunny. Yesterday, we broke a record. It got over 90 degrees!

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    3. Thanks Ruthy and Missy! I managed to answer all the earlier comments using a different profile but wow, it made me prove I wasn't a robot. Every. Single. Time. Sigh. But you ladies are worth it. :) This is such fun!

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    4. Whereas I am pretty sure you are a robot! Can you do the robot dance?????

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    5. Hahaha...hey, I keep proving I'm not a robot, doesn't that count? But I'm pretty sure I can do the robot dance--even when I'm trying to do something much more elegant, LOL

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  21. When I first started writing, I tried to write romances. Unfortunately at the time I was eleven and I had zero, zilch, and nada experience in that department. I floundered. It wasn't until I started trying to write about people my age and having the story not be completely centered around romance that I actually managed to get past my first couple chapters. So in that case, writing what I know has been utterly invaluable.

    But on the other hand I write action adventure, and I don't know about most of you guys, but I have no experience in that field either! Except for some reason, I find action adventure to be a lot easier to write than romance so who knows.

    I wonder how the whole, write what you know, thing works for fantasy novels... I do know that since I started writing a sci-fi book, I have been extremely thankful that I took a cosmology class in college.

    Please enter my name in the drawing!

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    1. Nicki, I have a half-done fantasy that I love, and it works exactly the same... think of it as action/adventure plus romance (in mine) but in either a different time zone, planet, earthly or non-earthly plane, dimension, etc. It is so much fun and I can totally see you doing that!

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    2. Nicki, I think the action probably comes easier because we've all seen so many action scenes on TV and at the movies. :)

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    3. Nicki, I think beyond writing what we know, is writing what we LOVE. We're all drawn to different genres, both as readers and as writers. The things we're drawn to, the things we're passionate about, come out in our writing. Have fun with your sci-fi!

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    4. Ruthy, your story sounds really interesting. Is it very fun branching away from your usual genres? I'm having so much fun working on my sci-fi story. I didn't realize how different sci-fi and fantasy were until I switched from writing fantasy to sci-fi.

      Missy, maybe... but I've seen romance on TV and movies too.

      Connie, that makes sense. I would definitely find it so much easier to write a fantasy than, say, to write about a contemporary girl just like me.

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    5. Nicki, once I got past the terror of messing up the cowboy part, I had a lot of fun with the different sub-genre. :)

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  22. Missy, I watched several births of calves on You Tube when I was writing a calving scene for one of my books. It really helped to see what I was trying to write about. I used Mary C as a source too. Love having friends in high places. :-)

    Connie, I hadn't thought that there are disadvantages of writing what you know, but I can see that it's easy to not notice the commonplace in our every day life. BTW, I'm awed by your job!

    Janet

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    1. Janet, that's so true about our friends! :)

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    2. You know, another thing I did for that story was read job listings for vet tech positions (my heroine's career). It was helpful to find the job requirements and job descriptions. That gave me a lot of info to have in the background.

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  23. Hi Janet, having great friends who can point the way make life so much easier, don't they? And definitely way more fun. :) You Tube is great, too, though I'm not sure how I feel about watching calves being born, LOL. But I'm sure the scene was perfect. :) It's all about paying attention, I think. And thank you! I love my job. We were out in the rain today, but still had a great time. :)

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  24. Thank you for this encouraging post! When I was grant writing I had to write what I didn't know and make it convincing enough to grab the attention/emotions of my reader so we could raise the money we needed for our project. Talk about scary stuff! Lol I had to learn all about aviation, geography, medical terminology and all kinds of things. It was fascinating but a bit daunting to do the research. (writing from my husband's tablet - Lee-Ann)
    Please enter my name in the draw.

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    1. Lee-Ann, that's a great analogy! It would be very similar work. And like you said, scary, when you're trying to help someone earn a grant. I guess any type of marketing job would be similar.

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    2. Thanks for inviting Captain Connie back to Seekerville, Missy. I remember her post and bio from last year. What a job she has! Terrific advice, ladies. Sometimes being scared can take us to new heights. I'm ready!

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    3. Jill, the adrenalin rush can certainly help. :)

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    4. Lee-Ann, kudos on writing on such a wide variety of topics AND making it resonate with the reader to get a response. I'm very impressed. That can't have been easy.

      Jill, thanks so much! I'm delighted to be back at Seekerville! You are so right, we need to stretch our wings. And often, we need to be pushed out of the nest, so to speak, before we take the risk to fly higher. Go, you!

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  25. Dear Missy and Connie, Thank you for a great post. I enjoyed reading about both of your backgrounds and how you've used those but also gone deeper in your writing journeys.

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    1. Tanya, I'm glad you dropped by!

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    2. Thanks so much, Tanya! Our pleasure.

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  26. Thanks for the reminder to keep the things we know fresh. For my one suspense book I finished I asked Coast Guard reps about things I didn't know. I also sort of chickened out and probably didn't ask enough stuff (I'm blaming it on a tight deadline for a contest, but still...) At least I know I'll be brave enough to go deeper next time.

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    1. Deb, that's great that you asked! I interviewed an acquaintance once about his job, and I remember feeling like I was asking too much. So I understand! I hope to be more confident next time.

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    2. Deb, good for you, asking! It's hard. I always worry I'm bothering someone, but I've found people to be happy to help. Here's to courage, for all of us. :)

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  27. Thank you all for a wonderful day at Seekerville! I had so much fun! Missy, thanks again for having me as your guest.

    Here's to the courage to ask questions when we don't know, and to look for the quirky and unique in what we know well! Happy writing!

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  28. You ladies share my heart. I have done mission work in the Philippines. My daughter-in-law is Philippina. She is an engineering student at University of Illinois, Chicago and has invented a water purification system that her professor at UIC is helping her promote. They will be testing it in the remote areas of the Philippines. You guys are supporting wonderful works for lovely people. I enjoyed your post. My historical romance, Secrets & Charades, required research. My contemporary romance, New Duet, I place in Aurora, my home town. I can so relate to the things you said. Please put my name in the hat.

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    1. Thank you! I left a piece of my heart in the Philippines when I spent 6 weeks there during college. I am excited about the chance to help some of the street children there through DEADLY MELODY. Your daughter-in-law's work sounds wonderful--and so needed. Hope all the testing goes well and it will be widely available and used soon! Glad the post encouraged you. Happy writing! Connie

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    2. Jubilee, I just saw your post and the others after it. I'm sorry I didn't answer sooner! Thanks for dropping by. How wonderful that you and Connie feel the same love of the Philippine people!

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  29. Congratulations Missy and Connie on your books. I've had a great week of visiting family (SC to KY back to SC and flew to TX), but I've missed Seekerville.

    I tried writing a pharmacist as the heroine in a story, but our work schedule stinks. Usually 12-14 hour days which doesn't give a lot of time to get involved in suspense because you're so tied down on the days you work. However, I've used some knowledge of drugs in my stories.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

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    1. Thanks, Jackie! Hope you had a wonderful time with family! You made me laugh--yeah, 12-14 hour workdays don't leave lots of time for suspense heroines to do what needs doing. But kudos on using your knowledge of drugs in your stories in other ways.:)

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    2. Jackie, that's so true about the hours! So many careers are that way. I sometimes make my hero or heroine be on vacation. haha

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  30. I think it's admirable and brave to write what you don't know. More often than not, readers don't know much on the subject either. So when the book is used as a vehicle to engage the reader more into the topic, it's fascinating and exciting. We're all very grateful writers take the leap to write outside of their comfort zone and the work/research they put into it.

    I would love to win a copy of Cowboys of Summer. Thanks for the giveaway.

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    1. Chanel, thanks for stopping by! Yes, I love to learn in the stories I read. I can't tell you how many times my husband will ask how I know something, and I'll tell him I learned it in an historical romance novel. :)

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  31. Hi Missy & Connie, I'm glad to finally get a chance to read today's post. I believe that good authors write what they know but also are willing to leave their comfort zones and research new topics.
    Thanks for a great post and I would love to win either book.
    Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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