Archive for July 2019

I Just Make Things Up   Leave a comment

Magical World Web

July 29, 2019

What kind of research do you do,
and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

“Writing Fantasy? That’s easy. You just make stuff up.”

That’s a real sentence from a real human.

So there you have it, straight from somebody else’s mouth: I just make stuff up.


Here’s the deal. I could just make stuff up, but I wouldn’t get very far. Fantasy, the good stuff, requires a lot of skill and knowledge. You know, stuff I’m personally still developing and maybe might get kinda good at by the mid to late part of my career. Le sigh. Such is life.

But speaking of real life, I do quite a bit of research. I don’t have a time line for it. I know that before I started writing the Endeavor Series, I spent months researching and doing a lot of messy write ups. Some…

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Posted July 29, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

#Openbook – Open book blog hop – 29 July   Leave a comment

Posted July 29, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Research – A Key Element to Storytelling   Leave a comment

Lyndell Williams


#Open Book

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I spend a lot of time researching all kinds of things for various writing projects. I need to research curriculum development and pedagogical methods for my work with the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative. I just spent the past few days hitting Google for historical and cultural research while taking part in an anti-racism workshop.

My job teaching at the college and romance scholarship also requires time researching. Before leaving for Chicago, I looked for additional sources as I edited an essay about African American Muslim romance fiction (yes, it’s a thing) and how female protagonists are othered. It is interesting how Muslim authors use the other woman trope in love triangles.

Focus, Lyndell. Okay.

Mis Quince Años (5)

It may seem that so many demands will make research a tedious exercise. The opposite is true…

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Posted July 29, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Open Book Blog Hop -29th July   5 comments

Stevie Turner

This week’s topic is:

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

So far I’ve been able to mostly write what I know about, but sometimes (as in ‘For the Sake of a Child‘) I’ve had to email or phone somebody who could give me advice.  Ferdi Nazim from the Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Children was most helpful when I asked him about RSPCC procedures for reporting child abuse.

When I wrote ‘A Rather Unusual Romance‘, I looked back on all the meticulous notes and diaries I had made at the time whilst undergoing treatment for thyroid cancer – some of the procedures I had quite forgotten.

At other times I just use Google to find out what information is available, or ask my husband if it’s something technical, like in ‘

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Posted July 29, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

PJ McLayne Open Book Blog Hop   Leave a comment

Research #OpenBook BlogHop

Posted July 29, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Research, blog hopping.   Leave a comment

Open Book Blog Hop for this week begins.

Posted July 29, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Research, blog hopping.   Leave a comment

Posted July 29, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Writing Work   9 comments

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Rules:1. Link your blog to this hop.

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I do quite a bit of research, but I rarely do it before I begin a book. As a character-driven discovery writer, I don’t know how to start a book through research. Sometimes I’ll read an article or meet someone who inspires me and a character will start to form in my mind. I suppose you could count that as “research”, but I don’t. It always starts with the character telling me his or her story. And generally, I don’t have a lot of research to go on when I start writing. Being accurate is overrated. Telling a good story is paramount.

But, yes, I like to be accurate. I’m a detailed-oriented person who thinks the big picture is made up of pixels and if you don’t have the pixels right, the big picture might not turn out so well. So at some point, I have to do some research.

I poisoned a king in The Willow Branch. Yeah, it’s a fantasy novel and it’s an alternative universe, so I could have been really loosy-goosy and probably been fine with that, but I researched a bit about poisons before I published. I talked to a University of Alaska-Fairbanks botonist who told me all about Alaska’s poisonous plants. I chose one with the historic name “wolf’s bane”, never realizing (and not alerted by my botonist friend) that what Alaskans call “wolf’s bane” is somewhat different from what Europeans call “wolf’s bane.” So someone emailed me about how you couldn’t just drink wolf’s bane and not know you were drinking poison. My botonist insists, if you mix Alaskan wolf’s bane with alcohol, you could get a fatal dose down before you realized it was poisonous. This started me to thinking – did I have to follow the rules that precisely? If Europe is that different from Alaska, perhaps Daermad would be that much different from Earth, but my Celts might call similar plants by the same name and not even realize they were different — because their ancestors left Gaul 1000 years ago. So, I killed another nobleman in Murklin Wood using a shellfish with a similar poison to cyanide. As long as I’m consistent within my universe, I don’t think I’ll have a problem justifying it. I do pay some attention to chemistry, but I don’t need to be slavish in researching European poisons for the medieval era.

In Transformation Project, the town of Emmaus lives and dies by corn. I knew very little about corn farming. My grandfather was a corn and wheat farmer in North Dakota in the first half of the 20th century, but I’ve never lived that life and so, yes, I researched corn. It’s a surprisingly complex topic. The Delaneys are the principle family in the novel series and they are not corn farmers. I established in Objects in View that Shane doesn’t need to know that much about corn in order to be useful to the community. He knows about things like border security and how to barter at a zocalo. He’s going to leave the farming to his brother-in-law and best friend Alex. The research works its way into the books as off-hand topics. Realizing at some point that I’m not writing a technical manual on corn farming, I decided I didn’t really need to know how to farm corn or all of its uses and how to process it in order to write a novel where some characters are involved in corn farming. In “Gathering In” (the 5th book in the series due out this fall) Shane admits that what he doesn’t know about ethanol production would “fit into a large football stadium and might flow into another”. I know slightly more than he does. Again, off-hand comments in dialogue makes it seem like I know more than I do.

It got a little more tricky with Shane and Jacob being pilots. Although I have flown right seat in a general aviation aircraft, I am not a pilot. I know the basic controls, I could keep one in the air until it ran out of fuel and I could probably crash-land one. Jury’s out on whether anyone would walk away from that encounter with the ground. Theoretically, I know how to land one. I don’t have a few thousand dollars and a couple of hundred hours of free time to become a licensed pilot. And, so I studied hard to sound like I know what I’m talking about and then I try to write flying scenes from a passenger’s perspective — though I can’t always do that. The point is that I don’t probably need to become a pilot to depict characters who love to fly, but I do need enough knowledge so I’m not making stuff up.

I based the town of Emmaus on a real town, but I didn’t want to have to be slavishly tied to the details of that real town, so I made up a town and then use the real town as a template. I hate when I’m reading a book about Alaska and an author makes up stuff out of whole cloth. So, I chose not to do that. But sometimes, if I want authenticity, I go to Google maps and “drive” the interstate that’s outside of my template town. Or I “drive” around and look at buildings, so I can describe them in the book. But I change it so it’s not really that town. There’s no ridge north and west of that town. There’s no salt mine. The county seat isn’t where I say it is and there’s no hospital or courthouse there. The Delaney home actual exists here in Fairbanks Alaska, and Alex Lufgren’s farmhouse (sans windmill and old-school barn, which I saw in Utah) exists in Idaho. Yeah, I research, but I am not slave to my research.

I researched PTSD extensively for the character of Shane and then added a paranormal element to act as metaphor for what he’s experiencing. Grandpa Jacob will tell a chilling tale about World War 2 in “Gathering In”. Yes. all research. Obviously I didn’t live when the Allieds landed at Normandy. I picked an uncle who did and “stole his identity” for Jacob’s war record.

Although my main characters in Transformation Project share libertarian philosophy with me, I am by no means an expert on the topic, so I frequently have to go to sites I enjoy to research some fine point. What would Jacob do in this situation and how might he differ from his son Rob or his grandsons? It gives them an opportunity for conflict and it shows readers that this is not a set philosophy, but one that adapts to real life situations. They are governed by the non-aggression principle — until others are aggressive toward them.

Bottom Line – I do quite a bit of research for an author who rarely researches before she starts writing a book. I just do my research after I’ve established the ethos of the characters and come to love the world they live in.

Posted July 29, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

The Exhausting Joy of Writing   Leave a comment

Lyndell Williams

OPEN BOOK (4)#openbook

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

This week, I am making an Open Book vlog post about how writing can energize and exhaust writers. Who am I kidding? It mostly exhausts and drains anyone taking to the keyboard.

The question then becomes, is it worth it?  check out my video to find out.

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Posted July 23, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

#Openbook – Does writing energize or exhaust you?   Leave a comment


Does writing energize or exhaust you? That is this week’s Open Book question and it is an interesting one. This is the first time I am participating in this blog hop so, hopefully, I have followed the rules correctly.

For me, it depends entirely on what I am writing and its purpose. If I am writing poetry, I usually get an idea for the content and then the rest flows easily and I rarely do much editing. It is invigorating and not tiring.

If I am writing fiction, I am usually energize while I am writing and I feel fatigued afterwards. Writing is a bit like exercising, you feel invigorated while you are doing it but afterwards you feel a healthy tiredness.

Writing fiction that is based on real events or which has a strong historical thread is tiring for me. I find that I can only write between 1…

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Posted July 22, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized


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