Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What We Do For Research


What Do You Do For the Sake of Research?
By Margaret Daley

Through the years I have done many things for the sake of research. I learned to scuba dive for a book I wrote in the 1980s. I have visited jungles to get a feel for what it is like in a rain forest. I ruined a pair of pants because of the mud I walked through in a jungle (it isn’t called a rain forest for nothing). I sweated buckets and know what the humidity in a jungle feels like. One book I wrote in the Austria Alps, and of course, I had to visit. That was such a hardship. NOT! I learned to shoot a gun for a book. I had to know what it felt like. I’ve gone into caves to get what it feels like, especially in total darkness.

My newest book with Love Inspired Suspense is Hidden in the Everglades, set in a swamp. As a child I could remember going through a swamp in southern Georgia. I can still see the snake slithering away in the water, an alligator sinking below the surface. Later I had another opportunity to visit a swamp in Louisiana as an adult and a writer. This time I took notes and noticed more than the snakes and alligators. A lot of beautiful animals live in swamps. The birds alone are engrossing to watch.

I’m not sure why I think swamps are fascinating, and I certainly am afraid of snakes--even more than alligators. Which is strange since alligators are far more dangerous than snakes. In Hidden in the Everglades I give Kyra the same fear. I felt I could write that character.

It was interesting researching the Everglades, a huge swamp area in Florida. Its size has been reduced because of human development, but it still encompasses a large part of the state. One of the most interesting pieces of information I learned was that pythons are not native to the Everglades, but they are now found all over the swamp because people have release their pets into the wilderness. They are multiplying and reproducing. Of course, I had to use that bit of info for my story.

As you can see research can be fun, dangerous, scary, enlightening. Have you ever had to do something for research purposes? Did you enjoy it?

I'm giving three books away today--Christmas Bodyguard, Protecting Her Own and Hidden in the Everglades (the three books in Guardians, Inc. Series). First at two, then five and the last one seven today.

47 comments:

  1. As a reader I do appreciate the research you do even a trip to Austria which would be such a hard thing to do.
    Also as a reader you can tell when an authors know what they are talking about and when they think they know. A friend stopped reading a book set in england around the time of Henry the 8th because they mentioned drinking tea when tea wasn't introduced til later I didn't know this but she did.
    One of my ideal jobs would be doing research for a professor or author. I love looking up things and then doing the report etc. Last year I had to do a report on a subject of my choosing and I choose e readers. It was fun finding what we could buy in Australia and the different information.
    When an author writes about Australia you can tell the ones who know Australia and have had help researching and the ones who treat it like a part of America. The words and sayings, distances, weather conditions etc. just small things like the types of crops or fruit grown can make a huge difference.

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  2. It always amazes me what authors will do for their readers. I like knowing when I read a book the author made it as authentic as possible and I have been known to growl at an author who doesn't get their facts straight. I don't remember the name book... and if I did I probably wouldn't mention it...but It was set in Texas and so many of the facts were so very wrong it pulled me out of the story and altho I finally finished it I never read another book by that author.

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  3. Thanks for sharing this post. It is great to see how adventurous you are.
    I am not sure I would want to go prodding through the swamp with snakes and alligators. I am glad I am a Christian author who does Bible Studies. Blessings!

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  4. cant wait to read the new books coming out love the story lines and how you guys include god in your success

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  5. Wow, that sounds exciting. I'd like to visit Israel for a future book, but I don't foresee anytime soon.


    Since I don't have a way to visit too far from home, my book I am working on now, are from memories when I visited the Hocking Hills area in SE Ohio a few years ago. I also have taken some of my experience visiting a Greek restaurant in the city for a scene and of course using my imagination, and searching online for visual props helps me see what I need..

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  6. I don't do snakes either. One of my friends has two TWO. All I can say is, we're getting a kitten.

    I love researching. I don't always get to go where the research is, but I read read read.

    Jenny, Henry the 8th is my favorite time. Right now I'm listenng to an audio that's about Jane Bolyn, Anne of Cleeves, and Catherine Howard.

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  7. Hey, Margaret! It's great to hear from you! I can always tell that you research your books thoroughly! That's why I've read every one of them! Can't wait to read the last one in the Guardians, Inc. series! I've been WAITING for it! I'm not a big swamp fan but since it's written by you, I know it'll be fantastic! I remember having to research things in college and I loved it. History has always been the "love of my life". The Revolutionary War is my all time favorite time and I love reading things about that. I enjoy research of just about anything though. Thanks for your interesting post!

    Hey Ausjenny....here we go again on another GREAT day together! :)
    Valri

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  8. Margaret, your research is fascinating. I love to visit the places I write about too and I just love that you slogged through swamps and rain forests. Very cool.

    By the way, I have a book giveaway at NOON today. This book blast is fun!!

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  9. Hi Margaret:

    I did some research that showed that a tiny part of the everglades extends into the southeast tip of Oklahoma and that Oklahoma has a native population of about 121 alligators. Did you ever hear about this?

    Vince

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  10. WHAT? Oklahoma has alligators? I'm so moving!! lol

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  11. The thing I love about research is the tactile feeling you get by being there--what is smells like, sounds like, the atmosphere of the place. I once did a Scottish historical and went to Scotland. I felt the sadness of Culloden Moor and the tragedy that happened there.

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  12. Hi Margaret! You're right. I've been in the Everglades many times. They are so beautiful and not just the birds. The starkness of the "river of grass" and the cypress are right up there. I'm with you on the snakes and alligators, though. They can have the swamp. Don't forget the most annoying pest of all - mosquitoes. They find me particularly good fodder.

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  13. That's why I need to keep setting my books in Nebraska and Kansas. I can afford the research trips :)

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  14. Oopsie!

    I just posted about more book give-aways, but attached that note to yesterday's blog entry. I will try again! :)

    Here's a chance to for three more people to win free books! I will be giving away a book on Wednesday at 9pm, and also on Thursday at 10am and at 6pm.

    Winners can choose from MURDER AT GRANITE FALLS (Love Inspired Suspense) or SECOND CHANCE DAD (Love Inspired.) But if the winner has those, she (or he!) can choose anything from my backlist, both Love Inspired and Superromance. If I atill have the title in my closet, that is!

    Blessings to all!

    Roxanne Rustand
    www.roxannerustand.com

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  15. Jenny, one day I am going to get to Australia. I've always been fascinated with the country and want to see it firsthand.
    Ellen, I can certainly understand that feeling of frustration.
    Deborah, I love my Bible studies too. That's research too but a different kind--a spiritual one.
    Misty, God is my inspiration. I wouldn't be where I am if He wasn't.
    Carmela, I've always said there is a little part of me in every book--I just won't tell people which part.

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  16. Pamela, I have three cats and one of them is a great bug hunter. She's so fierce. LOL!
    Valri, I have a blog tour going right now for my historical romance set right after the War of 1812. It was originally going to be right after the Revolutionary War (love that time period) but my publisher wanted it to be in the 19th century. Check out my website for the blogs I'm appearing on and giving away a copy of From This Day Forward: http://www.margaretdaley.com
    Linda, your books are so great. A lucky reader will get a treat today.

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  17. Vince, 121 alligators in OK!!! EEK!! I thought I had moved away from them. I used to live in Mississippi and we occasionally got one in the water near us.
    Leann, I love Scotland when I went. Fascinating place.
    Christine, all I have to do is step outside and everyone mosquito in a mile zooms in on me.
    Sherri, I know what you mean. I try to go to places if I can but sometimes I can't and have to research it online, in books and by talking with others.
    Roxanne, another treat for readers.

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  18. WINNER of the noon book from Linda Goodnight is Carmela. ( Chosen by an online number generating tool.)

    CARMELA, please email me with your snailmail address.

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  19. Your "Everglades" book sounds fascinating, Margaret, because of your insight into the beauty you have seen in the swamp. I think when you incorporate your research of a setting (such as the swamp's beautiful birds and alien snakes)you put the reader into the setting with the heroine. Ann Patchett did that for me in Bel Canto with this evocative sentence, "They were not far from the jungle, and even in the most domesticated garden the flowers strained to overtake the dull stretch of neat Bermuda Grass."

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  20. Congrats, Carmela! You will love your Linda book! She's fantastic! Margaret, I will certainly check out your blog tour! That book sounds interesting! Something new from you! I love how you are always challenging yourself! You are amazing! How was the zoo with your grandchildren?

    So fun to see Roxanne on here too. I've read several of her books and have enjoyed the suspense ones! I loved the recent Granite Falls one - just can't remember the titles of the others I've read at the moment! Sounds like there are some great giveaways coming up :)
    Valri

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  21. I was at the beach over the long weekend. Tropical Storm Lee hit. High surf, storm surge, torrential rains, flooding, strong winds...all things that I'll use in a future book.

    Writers use everything, including a family weekend with bad weather! :)

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  22. I was in the forest, no alligators, but wow were there bees. My sister in law actually had this thing that looks like a tennis racket. It's yellow. A color bees like. She'd hold it near a bee, it would fly to it, and it would get electrocuted. I wished the bees would figure it out and go away.

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  23. Dana, I like that sentence too. Nice description.
    Valri, the zoo was great but I was dead tired when I came home after seven hours and I think half the town was at the zoo yesterday.

    Jenny is the winner of my first book. Which one in Guardians, Inc would you like? Also email me your address at margaretdaley at gmail.com. Congratulations.

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  24. Margaret, great post. I grew up in South Louisiana so am quite familiar with swamp settings but have never thought to set a book there. LOL, I guess as writers we're drawn to the unfamiliar..

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  25. Wow...this has been quite a chatty place while I was out of town.

    Authenticity in details is always a plus in a book, so I think it's great when authors are so thorough in their research...especially by braving swamps and snakes. =)

    Sherri, you can keep setting your books in Kansas & Nebraska...I'm a Kansas girl and love reading about my home state! =)

    BTW, Margaret, I just picked up From This Day Forward today...I just have to get my TBR pile tamed so I can get to it.

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  26. Hi Margaret:

    Sorry! It’s not the everglades -- it’s the bayou! But the alligators are really there in Cypress Swamp.

    Vince

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  27. Margaret, glad you had fun at the zoo! I am going to be a grandma for the first time in Feb.! I can't wait. We just found out it's a girl. Maybe someday I'll get to go to the zoo :) I can imagine you are very tired! Congrats to Jenny on winning!

    Welcome, Winnie! BTW, I loved your book that I just read! Can't wait to read another one :)

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  28. What a fun week here! Count me in for Roxanne's book and am so anxious to get Hidden in the Everglades! Thanks!
    jackie.smith[at]dishmail[dot]net

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  29. I will definitely be reading your book, Margaret (though of course, I don't miss any of them!) In October, my dh and I are going on a cruise departing from Miami, and we're arriving a couple days early to tour Miami and to go on an Everglades tour.

    I remember the wonderful bayou tour I went on when RWA had its national meeting in New Orleans--complete with the tour boat guide feeding alligators marshmallows (which they loved) and raw chicken. I hope there are lots of alligators visible in the Everlgades!

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  30. As a reader I do apreciate that you do your homework well done... because most readers see things through your eyes - I don't think I'll ever visit the places you mention but I enjoy to know them through your writings and when I see a badly done homework - happened a while ago with a NR book - in a way I feel cheated.

    Sometimes - most times - we live through your writings so if you can share the most about the places, populations and people you're writing about, we enjoy the most.

    I've learned (and loved) so much about American ways - even the way you live your religiosity and attend mass and events related - that I think if you didn't invest you'd be defrauding not only me but your own ways.

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  31. I would love to read your books! Please enter me in your giveaway!!

    frequentreader19 (at) gmail (dot) com

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  32. I haven't had to do much research. One time in high school I had to do research for a debate team. It wasn't on a subject I really liked and I really don't like being on a debate team either. So I guess you could say I really didn't enjoy that experience. However, give me something I enjoy or just researching for fun - I really enjoy that.

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  33. Valri, being a grandparent is the best! Congrats to you! A little girl? How sweet! :)

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  34. BTW, remember Tuesday is Suspense Day on the Craftie Ladies of Romance blog!

    Margaret, you're getting us off to a great start!

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  35. Hi! I awarded your blog the 'One Lovely Blog' award! Visit Christian Bookshelf Reviews to claim it!

    Melanie

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  36. Wow I wake up to see so many comments and find I won a book will email you Margaret.

    Your book set after the 1812 war sounds interesting. I read MaryLu Tyndall's series set during this war and found it interesting and learnt alot. I actually knew some of the facts but thought they had happened in the revolutionary war.

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  37. Thanks so much Melanie. We love getting lovely blog awards.

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  38. Hi Pamela:

    Have you been thinking outside the box? : )

    Vince

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  39. Thanks,Debby, on the granddaughter congrats! I can hardly wait! We didn't think "grandparenthood" would come to us so this is a lovely surprise! Her name will be Mae Elizabeth :) I'm sure I will spoil her rotten - I have a great teacher as my mom does the same to her 10 grandchildren!

    I'm so glad today is "suspense day" on the blog! Although I love all the LI books, I have always loved a great mystery!!!!

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  40. I've done tons of reading about Old Testament times and the cities of Samaria and Jezreel for my biblical fiction. It's been so fun I had to force myself to stop researching! Aside from reading for research, I took lessons in Canine Agility and wrote a short piece for a dog magazine, Clean Run. The lessons were so much fun, I'm still taking them and so is my hubby. Dana McNeely

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  41. Vince,
    Oh, ack, I've been grading English papers all day, and now I have to think about a box. I know, I'll put my papers in a box and lug them home to grade! And, I'll grade them outside. LOL

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  42. Dana,
    It's so good to see you here. Ladies, Dana is the secretary for Christian Writers of the West. She's one talented lady.

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  43. This is a great article! You did a great job at showing us and not just telling us.
    AND it gave me an idea. I've been thinking about making my hero a scuba diver. Your post about actually learning to dive made me break out in a sweat. I'm think my fear can be translated into my heroine.

    Heather

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  44. Wow, Margaret! I'm impressed by your willingness to go to such lengths for your writing. Those experiences surely add so much depth to your stories! Great article. :)

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  45. Valri,

    Mae Elizabeth is a beautiful name for a beautiful baby!

    Yes, grandparents are supposed to spoil their babies! Enjoy every minute!

    Be sure to let us know when Mae is born!

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  46. I am so sorry I got caught up in editing--under a deadline and forgot about the drawings. I have two to do tonight. I will at the end of my comments.

    Valri, congratulations. Being a grandmother is great. I have four reasons to get up each day.

    Jackie, I love seeing you here.

    Roxanne, I hope you have a great trip.

    Melanie, thank you for the blog award.

    Heather, go for--scuba dive. An interesting experience.

    Jenny, I hope you enjoy From This Day Forward.

    The two winners of a book in Guardians, Inc series (Christmas Bodyguard, Protecting Her Own or Hidden in the Everglades) are Valri and Vince. Please email me your address and choice of book at margaretdaley at gmail.com.

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  47. Thanks, Margaret! I will email you my address right now! Hope you got your editing done!!!
    Valri

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