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Sunday, May 31, 2020

Three types of research and a couple of opportunities

cj Sez:  When I was writing persuasive essays in college, I was required to cite three different types of supporting research. The interesting thing is those same types of research are the bases for writing novels as well.

   Remember the adage “write what you know or my favorite write the truth?” In order to know, you really do have to conduct research…perhaps even if you’re writing about your own career field or experience. One of my novels is set on the Yampa River where I spent five-and-a-half days white water rafting. But the experience was a few years before I wrote the story. I had to do some secondary and primary research to reinforce my memories of the personal experience.

     Secondary research sources come from reading. In the case of authors (fiction or non-fiction), that means reading true crime stories, newspaper and/or magazine articles, medical or legal journals,  and maybe true crime/forensic TV shows. (I like the Justice Network and Dr. Jan Garavaglia’s Chief Medical Examiner shows.) Wikipedia may not be a most reliable source, but I find it’s a great place to send me down rabbit holes where I learn a lot.

     You most certainly have to be a reader in order to write well. Stephen King says: “If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write.”

   Primary research sources are the interviews conducted with the experts in the field you’re exploring. Interview a doctor/nurse/lab tech for a medical mystery; lawyers for legal novels; cops for police procedurals.

 Personal experience is awesome. More than informative, it is transformative and can provide a credible platform from which to write your story. I spent several weeks at a citizens’ police academy, several more at a citizens’ fire and rescue academy, and finally at an FBI citizens’ academy. Firing handguns at the gun range was a highlight of the police academy, as was the self-defense class and experiencing a ride-along with an on-duty police officer. The fire and rescue citizens’ academy included being roped down from the roof of a four-story building and breaking out the windows of a crashed vehicle to rescue a passenger. Other class members used the Jaws of Life to cut away the doors. I learned about pursuing organized crime figures, fingerprints, how Luminol detects blood, and lie detector tests with the FBI citizens’ academy, and I fired an old Tommy gun on their gun range day. Many towns and cities offer similar opportunities. I’ve also attended the Writer’s Police Academy, now known as MurderCon. (The pursuit of the truth never ends.)

   Note: Yes, I know. The 2020 pandemic halted all those personal experience activities for the foreseeable future, but hopefully not forever.  Reading is still available, and interviews can be conducted by phone.

     Sisters in Crime Contest: The Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award is an annual grant of $2,000 for an emerging writer of color, and you do not have to be a member of SinC to enter. You do need to hurry though. The submissions period ends on June 8, 2020. Read the requirements here:

    Call for submission:  Bienvenue Press has a call for submissions for their 2020 charity anthology. The deadline is August 1, 2020.  Find the particulars here:

   That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same, (Sending up prayers for your health and safety.)


My love story, “Love is Immortal” is one of the short stories in Bienvenue to the Chateau Rouge anthology
One of the 5 star reviews for Bienvenue…
“This is a wonderful array of short stories about an awesome hotel and an incredible staff. Totally keeps your attention through each story.”

   TO ORDER my autographed books or any book of your choice on-line from my favorite indie bookstore, contact The Haunted Bookshop here: The Haunted Bookshop 

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