Wednesday, September 9, 2015

What's a Little Research? by Ginger Solomon

No matter what genre you choose to write in, you can't get past the facts, or researching them. Today, Ginger Solomon provides her experience with researching before she steps into the story. -- Sandy

Ginger: When I first started writing, I didn’t think there would be much research in writing contemporary novels. Boy was I wrong! To write about anywhere other than where I have lived, I have to research roads, traffic, weather patterns, and much more. There are also local euphemisms and preferred foods. Sweet tea, a southern staple, will not be served in the north. And I’m sure there are northern preferences that I don’t know about since I’ve never lived anywhere but the south.

When my fellow Love in Mistletoe Springs authors and I decided to set the story outside of Seattle, WA, I knew I had some research to do. I had the opportunity to visit the Seattle area, but it was after we’d already turned in our stories. It wouldn’t have changed my story much, but I actually got to walk through SeaTac airport—which my heroine has to do—and see how things looked there. I could have added a few more airport specific details.

My fellow authors laughed at me when I asked them if they wanted a copy of my moon and weather calendar. Having never been in that part of the world before, I didn’t know anything about their weather. It’s part of my book preparation to know what the days are like. Is it going to be hot and sunny, or overcast and cool? Turns out most days in Seattle are overcast, though not necessarily cool. Of course, that wasn’t the case while I was there. Both Saturdays (one before and one after the cruise my husband and I took) were sunny and warm. I typically type in the location and the time of year and get a general overview of what the temperatures and precipitation could be like, and then do whatever fits within those parameters. Www.accuweather.com shows a month at a time.

I also like to chart the moon. If the year of the book is not specific, I pick a recent year and use it. I need to remember if they’re outside at night one week and the moon is full for their first kiss, then the next week, it can’t be fully dark, unless the moon is covered by clouds. Here’s the place I use: http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/moonphases.html. This allows me to pick the year and gives specific dates for each phase of the moon.

As a seat-of-the-pants writer, these are just a few of the things I do to prepare myself for the story to unfold. After I get all of that down, I jump right in. 

How about you? What do you do to prepare for your story?

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Ginger Solomon is a Christian, a wife, a mother to seven, and a writer—in that order (mostly). When not homeschooling her youngest four, doing laundry or fixing dinner, she writes or reads romance of any genre. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, president of her local writing group, and writes regularly for two blogs.

Blurb for Love in Mistletoe Springs:
The Mistletoe Springs animal shelter loses their grant, endangering the lives of countless stray dogs, cats, even birds and turtles. The community attempts to save the shelter by running a Christmas in July fundraiser. Groups of volunteers scramble to get all the details together while managing their personal lives. For ten people, love gets in the way. 

Blurb for Mr. Christmas and Miss Scrooge:

Mitch Silverton agreed to be in charge of decorating for the fundraiser. And he needs his boss, Margaret Holberg, to donate her family's vast array of decorations to make the day unforgettable. BUT... She's not sharing. Christmas is not a holiday she wants to celebrate in July, and saving the animal shelter is not high on her list of important things to do. He wants her to share more than the decorations. He wants her heart. Will he succeed in changing Miss Scrooge into Mrs. Christmas?

Buy Link: Amazon

12 comments:

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    1. My pleasure, Ginger! I use timeanddate.com for my historicals, too. Thanks for posting!

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  2. Love it, Ginger. Never thought much about the moon :)

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    1. It plays a large part of our lives, even if we take it for granted at times. :o

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  3. Hi, Ginger! I've been focusing on historical romance for the past few years, and I got hooked on the World Clock Time & Date website. I use it to determine holiday dates and moon phases--just like you, so I don't have a full moon two weeks in a row!

    I also discovered a site where I can get charts of daily temperature highs and lows and precipitation amounts for a specific locale, month, and year. Writing about the 1930-31 drought in Arkansas, I could find out exactly how hot it was and how much rain the area received on any given day.

    Great reminders about doing our research, whether for historical or contemporary stories!

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    1. That's awesome, Myra. I've written two historicals, but mine were further back than that (1700s), so I had to use my best guess on what the moon/weather was like based on the location and what we do know. Thanks for stopping by.

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  4. Wow, Ginger, seven kids! You have my whole heart! I love your mention of the moon chart. I'm definitely going to keep that in mind. There's an older murder mystery movie starring Ed Harris that I've always liked called China Moon....but for the whole duration of the murder and capture, at least a week, the moon is this big china plate and never changes. Really?

    As for research, I love it. Probably because I've always loved history. I just finished a medieval Christmas story...and I super enjoyed all the details I learned but: it's a short, so I had to pick and choose what to put. And that hurt, all those glorious details I had to leave behind. Thanks to thettalented Dora Hiers for being my second set of eyes. I also would like to write a suspense set at Savannah and Jeckyll Island in Georgia where I visited not long ago...the Spanish moss sets a mood all by itself. But I am a Californian. Hmmmm..

    Best of luck always with your books, writing, and beautiful family.

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    1. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the look of Spanish moss. It doesn't grow where I live in AL, but I've always enjoyed seeing it.

      And yes, leaving out wonderful details is painful.

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  5. Ps . I just clicked and bought Mistletoe Springs! Oh I cannot wait to cuddle up with it...rescue animals, Christmas whether in July in regular. Got my name all over it. Yay.

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  6. Hi Ginger, my current book is set in Yisemite. I've never been there and had to do loads of research. I read, called, and watched clips on the web. Not to mention all the maps I looked at!

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    1. I've found for places I haven't been that Google maps is a good place to see the lay of the land. :) People also post their pictures.

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