Thursday, September 6, 2012

When You Can't Take a Research Trip

I'm always delighted to have Sarah Sundin on Go Teen Writers. For one thing, she's a fabulous writer. She writes those kind of books where you want to be like, "Go away, world! I just want to be reading A Distant Memory!" She's also an incredibly sweet, kind person, so I like any excuse I can find to email her!

Sarah has a new book coming out - yay! - which is the first in her new World War II series.


http://www.sarahsundin.com/books.html 


Isn't that cover beautiful? And you have a chance to win a copy! Details are at the end of the post.

I think Sarah does a wonderful job of making the reader feel like they're living and breathing and rationing in the 1940s, so I asked if she would pretty please come talk to us about how she researches her books. She said yes, and here she is:



Wouldn’t it be wonderful to travel to every location where your stories are set? There’s nothing like visiting a place to get the true feel of it, but money, time, and other barriers prevent us from doing so.

My new World War II series, Wings of the Nightingale, is set in the Mediterranean—Algeria, Tunisia, Sicily, Italy, and Southern France. My husband’s frequent-flier miles allowed us to visit Italy and Southern France last summer. It was amazing! However, time didn’t permit us to go to Sicily, and visiting Algeria and Tunisia isn’t exactly an option.

So what do you do when you can’t visit a story setting? You research.

What to Research

Before you start, list the types of things you want to understand. You want to know about the local terrain and climate—for that particular season. How about natural disasters in the area—writers love disasters!—blizzards, earthquakes, monsoons, volcanoes? What trees and plants grow there? What animals might you see? How about bugs—stinging mosquitoes or humming cicadas?

You also need to understand the local culture. What lingo do they use? What foods do they eat—and not eat? When do they eat? In England, most restaurants close about 6 pm. In Italy, they don’t even open until 7 pm. And in France, we saw a sign in a restaurant window saying “Closed for Lunch.” Huh?

What are local homes and stores like—outside and inside? What kinds of transportation do they use? What do they wear? Where do they shop? What wares are available for purchase? When my hero in With Every Letter visits an open-air market (called a souk) in Oran, Algeria, he tries couscous (which he’s never even heard of before—it’s 1942), buys jewelry of colored stones set in silver (not gold), and looks at Berber rugs with diamond patterns. Each of those little details came from research.

Where to Research

By now you’re probably ripping out your hair, sighing dramatically, and saying, “I can’t possibly find out all that stuff!” Oh yes, you can. Here are some places to look.

1) Travel Guides

Travel guides are great resources, full of maps, descriptions of local sites, and transportation information. Some (I love Rick Steves’s books) explain customs, lingo, and food as well. Many travel guides can be found online too.

2) First-Person Accounts

If you can’t go someplace yourself, pick the brain of someone who did. Do you know anyone you can interview who’s visited a location? How about blog posts by travelers? How about travelogues that describe someone’s visit? For my series, I relied heavily on first-person accounts from oral histories, letters, and on-the-ground journalists like Ernie Pyle. These told me about the mud in the winter and dust in the summer, the oranges and eggs peddled by the natives, and how the locals dressed.

3) Local Media and Museums

Local newspapers are wonderful resources. Most are online now, and these give you insight into local issues and concerns. Advertisements can yield all sorts of information too.

Even if you write contemporary fiction, historical museums are treasure troves. Many have websites or bookstores with specialized information. If nothing else, you’ll learn what the locals take pride in—from the tomato canneries, to the Victorian clock, to the art deco theater. Good stuff.

4) Google Maps

Google Maps is probably the single best tool for this kind of research. Pull up your location, look at the terrain, study the street map, zoom in close. You can see all sorts of features this way. If you haven’t played with the “man on the street” function, you’re in for a treat. See the little stick figure guy on top of the zoom bar? Drag him over the map and plop him down on any street that lights up in blue. Oh, heaven! You can now “stroll” down the street with panoramic views, look up, look down, and peer down alleyways.

Now you can see what the locals drive, where they shop, what the houses look like, even what people wear. I’ve been able to find many wonderful details for my stories this way.

In With Every Letter, I wanted a crucial scene to take place at a bridge in Sicily. I couldn’t find any bridges near Termini Imerese, where my heroine was based. She needed to ride her bike down to the beach for some thinking time. So I hopped on Google Maps and “pedaled” around, dodging scooters, passing stone walls draped with bougainvillea—and I saw a bridge. A charming medieval bridge not on any map or site I’d looked at. That’s where the scene took place. That same bridge is pictured on the cover of With Every Letter. Cool, huh?

So, don’t let money and time stop you. With curiosity, hard work, and some sleuthing, you can find the details to lend accuracy, authenticity, and color to your stories.

Happy “traveling”!

Sarah Sundin is the author of With Every Letter, the first book in the Wings of the Nightingale series from Revell, and also the Wings of Glory series (A Distant Melody, A Memory Between Us, and Blue Skies Tomorrow). In 2011, Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Sarah lives in northern California with her husband and three children. When she isn’t ferrying kids to soccer and tennis, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist and teaches Sunday school.

To get entered to win a copy of With Every Letter, leave a comment below either sharing something weird or difficult you've had to research for a manuscript (I spent so much time looking up "roofies" for the Skylar Hoyt series...) or simply telling Sarah thanks for taking the time to make research seem a little more manageable!

(Book giveaway is available to US residents only due to the unfortunate realities of pricey international shipping. Giveaway closes Tuesday, September 11th. Please make sure I have a way to contact you should you win.)

69 comments:

  1. Wow! Thank you so much for this post! I've often wondered about researching and what kinds of things you have to do in it. Probably explains my usual love of fantasy. However, considering my book's rather set in Florida, research could still be a need. Especially for my MMC's hometown, since it's been years since I visited his area.

    Hmm. . . I was going to comment on this before I read about the giveaway, but. . . Let's see. . . I don't want to put my email up here for the world to see. If I win, would leaving a comment on my blog work? It's: http://justsimplyunique.webs.com/

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    1. Ms. Mind Reader (A.k.a. Amanda)September 8, 2012 at 2:30 PM

      There's your acronym again xD HERBERT!!!! ;)

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  2. For a dystopian series I'm working on, I had to research Canadian government. And for a fan-fiction I wrote, (don't judge!) I had to look up medieval men's clothing terms. Those were probably the strangest things I've researched.

    The most in-depth research I've done was for a story I've since given up on. I went through an entire book on medieval France and took quite a few notes.

    newyorksnowflake@gmail.com

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  3. Hm... weirdest thing? I don't think I've ever researched something weird, but I have researched many sad somethings. My last WIP was set in a concentration camp in Italy, so I had to find out if there were any it Italy to begin with.

    Thanks, Sarah, for stopping by!! :D

    spyg93(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  5. Very helpful post :)
    A while back, I wrote a novel set about ten years after the civil war. Finding masses of information on the war was easy, but finding cultural tidbits for ten years later was much harder. I wish I had a time machine to travel back to MA in the 1870's and explore it for myself!

    alamode.79 (at) gmail.com

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  6. Great tips, Ms. Sundin! I appreciate your dash of realism; I've read at least one other blogger on the topic of research who assumed all writers had the ability to travel to their story's location. Needless to say, for those of us who find that impossible, such posts as these are very helpful. I'm particularly intrigued by the Google Maps "man on the street"; I'll have to try it!

    Phew, let's see, what strange things have I researched? I did quite a few etymology searches while writing my most recent novel - phrases like "dark horse" and "buck up" to see when they came into use. I also crawled around on the floor with a yardstick, measuring off the distance between participants of a duel. For my WIP, I've researched phosphorus, ventriloquy, and Greek fire. Among other things. And I'm not done yet!

    jeanne(at)squeakycleanreviews(dot)com

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  7. It can be both easy and difficult to create an imaginary world. You don't have to do much research into particular things, but then every little detail has to come from your imagination, and they have to be specific enough to seem real!!
    Great post! Will definitely use in the future :D

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  8. Great post!! I love the ideas for researching. I like to read and write historical fiction...but so far I'm not very good at research or incorporating those facts into my books :/ I'm not scared to research, though and I suppose that's good :)

    So far I haven't really had to research anything weird that I can think of. Actually, at the moment I can't seem to remember anything I've researched xD

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  9. Something difficult for me is trying to figure out if something is true for the bulk of a people or if it's just a stereotype. Like for my current WIP, my character is dating an Irish guy and they go to Ireland. Is everyone a cursing drunk that uses phrases like "eejit" "donkey's years" "knackered" "Now your sucking diesel" ...ect.? It's just hard to sort between stereotype and reality.

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  10. Wow! This is such an awesome post! Thank you so much Sarah for explaining a little more about researching. It can be difficult sometimes, but I'm sure it will pay off in the end. I'm still trying to figure out the "proper" way to remove an arrow. Last time I tried the internet, and the article said to "Call 911, don't try to do it yourself." Not very helpful for the aspiring novelist!

    Thanks again!!!

    bethyhope96(at)yahoo.com

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    1. Hi, Bethany.
      About the proper way to remove an arrow. If the arrow point had come striaght through revealing the arrow head then most likely they would have given the patient something to bite a glove or piece of cloth then they would have broken off the arrow head and pulled the shaft out. This was risky because it might cuase more damage and it was also very, very painful. I read quite a few books on Joan of Ark. She was wounded with an arrow in the shoulder. They performed this procedure on the battle field while the fight raged on. I'm sure there are many ways to remove an arrow but this is one of the techniques. Good luck with your story!

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  11. Great post, Sarah, thank you! I love the idea of looking through travel guides to research far-off places. Google Maps is pretty fun, too. :)

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  12. This is a really helpful post! Oh, yeah - once I had to research an herb that would make the person who ate it fall asleep within ten minutes... unfortunately I couldn't find one and made one up, since it was a fantasy. Lol :) What you said about the restaurants in different countries, that's so funny. Thanks for sharing!
    v@boldbrightbeautiful.com

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  13. Kelsey - yep, research is still necessary even when you're familiar with an area. Bummer, huh?

    Emily Rachelle - Medieval men's clothing? Next time I have a question, I know whom to ask :)

    Rosie - you piqued my interest! The novel I'm currently writing is set in Italy in WWII. I have a book on my shelf waiting to be read about the Jews in Italy.

    Amanda - I've had the same problem researching WWII. Great gobs of highly detailed info about combat units, far less about life at home - and even about the support units in the military. I'm researching military nursing, engineering, and pharmacy, and there's much less information. I had to do some sleuthing.

    Abigail - I'm all for realism. For goodness' sake, I don't think we're even allowed to visit Algeria or Tunisia! And we don't all have the money or time. Whenever possible I like to visit, but when you can't, you can really make do - you just have to know you have a disadvantage and have to do more work. And it sounds like you don't mind work :) I love the image of crawling on the floor with a yardstick - that's determination!

    Radical Sarah - stuffy old Sarah agrees. That's one of the appeals of creating your own world. Of course, I'm sure you've found that fictional worlds - although they don't require as much research - require a lot of attention to detail and careful record-keeping to keep track of those details.

    Amanda - the fact that you're not afraid to research is huge! I know a lot of talented writers who let fear hold them back.

    Random Thinker - good thinking :) We have to be careful not to let those stereotypes infect our writing. But we also have to realize stereotypes usually come from someplace. Not all Americans are fat, loud, and overbearing (the European stereotype of Americans), but some are. When we were in Rome, we stopped at a little pizza place. The owner was a round-bellied man with a mustache and a towering chef's hat. He told us to, "Eat! Eat!" He kissed his fingertips, waved his arms in the air, called my daughter and me, "Bella! Bella!" And then he sat down outside with us while we ate and talked to us in pidgen English while I used my pidgen Italian. Oh my goodness. He was such a stereotype - but he was REAL. I wanted to put him in my novel, but I couldn't - or my readers would think I was conjuring up Chef Boy-ar-dee!!!

    Bethany - that made me laugh. The battle rages in medieval France. The brave hero takes an arrow in his shoulder, but stoutly fights on. However, the arrow must come out. So he whips out his cell and calls 911????? Sorry, sir, but there's no service in your millenium.

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  14. I have to say that the strangest thing I have ever researched is mental disorders. I needed to find one that included mental switches between the past and the present. I'm still not so sure, but I think a mild and concentrated case of PTSD is what I was looking for. I may have to dig a bit more though....
    My second strangest...the many different versions of the Communist Manifesto for a futuristic novel about America under communism.

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  15. I'll have to remember the Google Maps thing!
    My research tends to be about very random stuff. I'm a details person, so even if there's not a chance of something going into a story, I still want to know it. I think that's a good thing (you can hold very interesting conversations about random things you've learned), but it also means I get WAY off track at times!

    Most recently, I had to research the weather in Arkansas. It was a very minor part of the story, but I needed to be sure if it could realistically snow when I needed it to. I still have Little Rock, AR, saved as one of my locations on weather.com!

    Medical questions are the other things I look up a lot. Like how long would it take for a busted lip to heal, if/how long a shoulder would be sore after being dislocated, etc. Small stuff, but I think the tiny stuff adds up to make a more realistic story.

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    1. I agree, Anna--but I never thought of doing that! Now I will be researching those types of "little things" because I think it will make a more realistic story! Thanks for the idea :)

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    2. You're welcome! The "little things" are often my favorite parts of stories. It just makes things seem more real :)

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  16. What a fun post, Sarah! I loved it! I think one of the strangest (and most fun) things I've had to research for a novel was Indian words for my novel set in British-occupied India in the Victorian-era. I came up with one thing "tikai babu" which means, "it's alright, sir," which then got garbled by a young character into "tickety-boo" which then became a byword through the whole story. :D

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  17. Olivia - Google Maps is pretty addictive, I'll warn you :)

    Margaret - as a pharmacist, I'm glad you made up an herb. Pet peeve in books and TV shows is medical inaccuracies. CSI once showed a man being killed by a few eye drops in his coffee. My husband (also a pharmacist) and I almost threw things at the TV. Could. Not. Happen.

    Megan - mental disorders are fun to study! And it's fun to watch people's eyes when you check the books out of the library...

    Anna (ah, that's my daughter's name!) - you've discovered the joy and danger of research rabbit trails. Hop down a trail a bit and you learn fascinating new things! Stay on the trail too long and you lose sight of your story. And good for you for looking into those little details like weather and medical issues. If you get the weather wrong, locals will jump on it. Or laugh at you. As a long-time San Francisco Bay Area resident who lived in "The City" for 4 years, I laugh at stories describing hot sunny SF summers. Um, no. There's a reason Mark Twain said, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."

    Rachel/Cynthia - what a fun little detail! Things like that bring a story to life.

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  18. One weird thing I had to research: I had to research to find what kind of spelling words a second grader were to be learning, but I don't know if that's considered weird or not.

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  19. This was an awesome post! I don't know if what I had to research was weird, but I'm thinking of writing a book set in Ancient Persia, which is almost impossible to research since almost no one has any actual facts from the real Persians that lived there, mostly from Greeks who visited. So, unfortunately, I can't use google maps or anything for that. :)

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    1. oh kinda forgot to add this. purenrgfan@ymail.com

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  20. Well, I didn't research it for a book (*yet*, I'm stowing this away), but recently I was in a bookstore and fell in love with the instrumental music playing. I asked the cashier what it was, and she eventually located the album: Swing Tanzen Verboten! - Swing Music and Nazi Propaganda Swing from World War II. Needless to say, my mother did not buy it, but it left me rather intrigued and amused, and conversing with a friend over text, about why we thought it was prohibited, and that led to some fun research. Turns out, it was basically a racial prejudice, keeping people from dancing that close to one another.

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  21. Thanks for your post. I have used Google maps before, but never considered using it for research. Especially research for foreign countries. I can't wait to try it!

    I'm a bit of a research addict. One of my biggest challenges was finding out how people traveled between Poland and Germany after WWII. I couldn't find out if they needed papers or passports or if trains went between the countries or if fences separated them. I finally got to interview a lady whose father was a Polish POW in Germany. You did need papers, there were trains, and it was possible to sneak across in a crowded train. :)

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  22. Alyson - that's surprisingly important! Moms and teachers will notice. Every detail counts to make your story authentic.

    Alexa - that IS a challenge. That's where a bit of literary license comes in :) As for Google Maps, you might find it surprisingly helpful, especially since you can't exactly visit Iran. You won't get the Man on the Street function (it wasn't available in Algeria or Tunisia either), but you can look at the landscape and get a feel for the terrain.

    Lydia - how interesting! Have you ever seen the movie Swing Kids? It was about teens in Nazi Germany who were into swing music & dancing. The Nazis believed that since jazz and swing are derived from African music, that they were "degenerate." I imagine they wouldn't be too fond of rap either :)

    Lizzie - Google Maps is so fun to play with! You can walk the streets of London or Berlin or Warsaw!! Or feel like you're doing so. Good for you for being a research addict - accuracy makes historical fiction more authentic and more interesting.

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    1. The place where I did my research mentioned Swing Kids, but no I haven't seen it yet. No, I doubt they'd have liked rap. I'm addicted to Christian rap.

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    2. I need to try that. Thanks!

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  23. What an amazing post, Ms. Sundin! And I am a huge fan of your books!

    Something peculiar that I had to do a lot of research on for one of my previous manuscripts was Retts Syndrome. It's commonly clumped with autism, but it's really not the same. My MMC's little sister had it, and I wanted to be as true to the character as I could, though I knew that I don't think I'd ever full grasp what families do when a loved one is found to have.

    Needless to say, I learned a lot about it in the first several weeks of me trying to find my story, and though I didn't use all of the information that I learned, it helped me write with more confidence, because I wasn't constantly second guessing myself.

    Thanks for the post! :)

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    1. Thanks, Clare! That's wonderful that you wanted to get it right. Actually, "over"-researching really does help you right authentically. At a certain point, you do have to tell yourself to stop and WRITE :) At least I do.

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  24. Thanks, Ms. Sundin, for the wonderful post! I've always had trouble with the settings of my stories, and I almost always tried to put off researching it until I was half-way through writing. It wasn't until later that I figured out that holes in the setting were a really big problem for my plot, so I went through the small but longing task of researching. Reading this post actually upped my motivation for researching. Now I feel like it's more important for the readers to take them into the setting more than ever.

    Thank you once again for making this perspective clear!

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    1. "Experience is the best teacher" :) I've also learned to do some basic research when I'm early in the idea mode of writing - to make sure my story works historically or in its setting. Then I develop the story more, do some more research, then start writing, and now do "spot" research- very pointed specific research.

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    2. From Amo Libros:
      I tried to do that, but as I was not able to go to the library for several months (please don't ask), I got stuck with Wikipedia for most of my early research (blegh!) Only now that I'm approaching the end of my rough draft did I figure out that my dad's "A Traveler's History of England" had some of the information I needed...Ah well, my story needs a lot of work anyway. Now I can fix the historical stuff too!

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  25. Thanks for the helpful tips Sarah Sundin!! I've never thought of using google maps (going to try that one!). I always have trouble researching ways to kill my characters (yep, I'm that kind of author). I don't exactly want to type into google "how long does it take to die if you've been shot with an arrow?" And I don't know anyone who's had that experience. (Good thing.) So I read a lot of books. And figure out stuff that way! :D

    I'd love to read your book, but I'm in Australia, so I guess I miss the competition this time. Thanks though, for giving a copy away! That's so nice of you! :D

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    1. Cait - I laughed about the arrow! Yeah, some things don't work when Google them. Or you're afraid the police will knock on your door.

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  26. Thanks for the tips, Sarah Sundin! I have had to do a LOT of research for my current work in progress. It was some pretty weird stuff - Traumatic Brain Injury, Christianity's view on pagan magic, and bullying - yep, somehow it all connects inside the book! At least all that is current issues. Someday I'd love to try my hand at historical fiction and rent a time travelling machine for research ;) Don't you wish one existed? (Who knows!)

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    1. Ooh, I want one!!

      Yes, contemporary novels can have as much research as historicals.

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  28. Thanks for the tips! When I was in eigth grade I was working on a "novel" or "novella" whatever it was we'll never know because I sadly lost it. But in the story it was based in a small town in Montana and it was hard to find anything because it simply wasn't one of those small towns anyone really knows anything about.

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    1. Some of those things will drive you batty. That's why a lot of authors make up towns.

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  29. I had to research wild plants that would help fever, and how to prepare them. That was fun:) Great post!

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    1. Ooh, interesting! I know willow bark works - that's how aspirin was developed :) I learned that in pharmacy school and actually used that in With Every Letter.

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  30. The hardest thing I've ever had to reaserch was the "works" of a submarine:-D My little sis and I have been writing a book and a submarine is a main part. I've still got hardly ANY idea what goes to what and stuff but that part was finally finished after almost 2 weeks:-D

    The other hardest thing for me now is I'm working on a novel that's based in Virginia City, Montana. Noone seems to know much about it so I'm kinda "stuck in the mud" so to speak.

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    1. This post is going to make it a little easier for me to research, thank you so much Mrs. Sundin!

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    2. Thanks, Madeline! That's interesting about the submarine! It's amazing what you can find when you're determined :) As for Virginia City MT, hmm...a historical society? If not for the town, maybe the county, even the state? MT is small enough population-wise, that state-level might be okay.

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  31. Hi, Sarah! Great things to choose from to research! While I've done some researching in the past for some of my writing, I honestly can't think of anything crazy that I've looked up! lol. ;) But Google maps has been my friend a time or two, and I really like the idea of firsthand accounts. I'll keep that in mind for the future!

    Thanks for the great giveaway! I'm really looking forward to reading Sarah's latest!

    lubell1106(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Hi Elyssa! Fancy seeing you here :) I'm glad you've discovered the joy of Google Maps. Too much fun!

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  32. Thanks Sarah and thanks Stephanie for letting her be a guest blogger! :) I research mostly by google so this did help some more. God bless! :)

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    1. Thank, Michaela. Yes, there is life beyond Google :)

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  33. Sarah! Wow, this is a great post! I've looked up plenty of strange things in the past for my writing, but I wouldn't even know where to begin in telling you. I'm really only a writer in training at this point, but I'm very determined to be good at what I do. Goggle Maps is a huge help in research for me....when you can't jump in the car and take a ride. lol! Thanks for the giveaway!

    Emreilly303(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Hi Emily! Aren't the maps fun? I "went" past my parents' house - and there's my mom doing yardwork!!!

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  34. This is a great post - all of your tips are really useful! (Isn't that man on the street feature helpful?)

    My novel is set in Medieval Ireland. I made it an alternate sort of world, because I was afraid of making any mistakes! I took a course on Arthurian legend, and I've been able to incorporate some of the cooler bits from that into my world.

    Another novel I'm planning is set in my town.

    It seems like I'm one to avoid research! :P

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    1. Maura - smiling :) Actually, incorporating legend into a medieval society sounds like a fascinating - and appropriate - thing to do.

      I also chose my hometown for my first series. And ended up doing gobs of research. Sigh.

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  35. Thank you for this post. I have tried to research for my book before with very little success. This will help a lot.

    rachel(dot)kasperson(at)gmail(dot)com

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  36. Such a fun post. Thanks for all these tips, Mrs. Sundin! "Closed for Lunch." LOL. And very neat that the bridge you spent time searching for ended up not only in an important scene, but on the cover!

    Something weird that I had to research for my last manuscript was the logistics of getting a group of people from inland Netherlands to the coast...I tried all these different ways of Googling how far a horse can go in a day if he's walking, trotting, etc. I found it simply ironic that I was calculating so much math while WRITING. :)

    Thanks for the opportunity to win that beautiful book, by the way! :)

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    1. Thanks, Rachelle! I'm kicking myself that we didn't take a picture of that sign!!

      Laughing about the math!! I've had to do some amazing math problems for my novels - when my hero's plane would run out of fuel if one tank were leaking at X rate, and how much fuel to transfer to make it to land... It was quite complex.

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  37. Thank you for sharing research tips with us, Mrs. Sundin! For my Klondike Gold Rush novel, I had to research the town of Skagway and almost missed the fact that it was formerly spelled Skaguay. Is that weird ;)?

    My email: blamelessandpure(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Isn't that interesting! The funny thing though - people will "correct" you for those things you get right :)

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  38. Thank-you for sharing your time and gen with us, Ms Sundin. I love research! MOP is I spend too much time on little details and miss the bigger picture.

    A few subjects I've spent inordinate amounts of time on: Medieval drinking songs, the subtypes of schizophrenia, and retrograde amnesia. Thanks to my dad's numerous concussions I got a first-person account on the amnesia. ;)

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    1. Risa - the researcher's dilemma - when to back up and remember the story :)

      By the way, I'd love to hear those drinking songs...

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  39. This is awesome! I'm writing a book that takes place in Spain, then England, so this is really useful:)

    I'm on NextGen Writer, with the same username, so you can contact me there.

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  40. In one of my WIP's, my main character is a foreign exchange student from France. it is diffiult to research this type of thing. I actually have not done a whole lot of research at his point, but it is not something that is going to be too easy. Like how someone from France would feel about this, or think about the American food and humor and other things like that.

    Thsnk you so much for taking time to post here on Go Teen Writers! We so appreciate it. Thank you for offering one of your lovely books in a giveaway. Thanks!

    ks4readin@yahoo.com

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    1. Interesting! Sounds like time to make a French friend :) Better yet, to find a French exchange student.

      We have a good friend who's French. I'll tell you - they don't think much of American food :)Or how we rush through meals and eat on the go. That's why Starbucks isn't big there. The French can't imagine why you'd want to take your coffee with you - the point is to sit and sip a micro-cup with your friends for a very long time, not to guzzle a Venti in your car alone.

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  41. Thanks so much for this post! After reading this, I want to do more research!
    Let's see ... I think I researched grayhound racing once, but that was a long time ago. As far as things I want to look up, I've been wondering if it's possible to make ropes or even clothes out of spider silk. I also want to incorporate "wispering galleries" into a story. I read about them in Algebra one time and I've been intrigued ever since. :-)
    Thank you again! If anyone in my family looks in the history of my search engine, they might become a bit concerned.:-D

    allicat(at)cool2bike(dot)com

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    1. Spider silk...interesting!! Harvesting it might be a problem... :)

      My internet search history probably looks odd too.

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    2. From Amo Libros:
      I saw a Nova Science Now once that talked about spider silk - well, they were actually trying to find the strongest substance in the world, or something like that, but spider silk was one of the substances they investigated. I think someone has made a scarf or something out of it, but you'd have to check. The Nova website might have some good information.

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