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Thank you for having me here today to talk about romance writers and research. I’d like to make clear that this is my opinion and how I’ve done research for my stories. Every writer should be researching something about their story. You can’t know everything. Okay, so I know there are people out there who do, but they are rare.
I remember writing papers for school using the encyclopedia or go to the library for research. Boy, how times have changed. The world-wide-web is an amazing and wonderful invention for writers—we don’t have to leave our homes to do research. A large number of us are introverts. To be honest, we love the quick availability of a computer because it saves us valuable writing time. Oh, and you can’t forget how wonderful email is for communicating with a possible subject matter expert.
My latest release, Taming the Texas Beauty, and the prior book, Texas Two Step, are set in Dallas, Texas. I’ve never been to Texas. I relied on Google Maps to help me with research. It’s amazing what you can get from the Earth view. If you go to the street level, it’s as if you’re standing there in person. I’ll get to how the Earth view helped me in the next paragraph. Also, a great mechanism is the Search bar in maps for seeking businesses in the area. I mention several restaurants, businesses, and locations in my books. Some are fictitious or contain part of the real name. If I didn’t use the map, the stories wouldn’t have a realistic feel to them. It’s one thing if you make up your own town or city. But when you name a real, major downtown area, you’d better get things right, or a reader will call you on it. While working on these books, I saved my locations to help keep things straight. You don’t want to say a restaurant is in one location and then say it’s in another, later in the story. I wanted to share my Dallas map so you could see how I use the map. Unfortunately, Google Maps doesn’t allow sharing maps with saved locations.
Let’s talk about my hero, Ryan Rogers, in Taming the Texas Beauty. Ryan works for the Dallas Police Department, as a Police Detective. They’re dealing with a string of robberies targeting the wealthy. Hmm, where are the 500+K homes located? Again, writing about a factual city I needed to do research. To learn about the area and see photos of the houses, I searched realtor sites for homes in my price range. I plopped the address of said home for sale into the fabulous map search, and voila, I knew the location. This is where I would switch to the Earth view. I could see the house from the street and draw my descriptions from there. At one point Ryan and his partner look for a home to set up a sting operation. I used this same research method to write how the house would work for a robbery.
As for the law enforcement research, that’s where I could have some things wrong when it comes to the Dallas PD. I reached out to the PIO of the police department via email and never received a response. None. A similar thing happened when I wrote Florida Heat. So, what’s a writer to do? I had the organizational chart and lists of departments of the police department, prior to contacting them. There’s a lot of information available on their site. But not descriptive info I wanted or needed to know for my story. Law enforcement agencies operate differently around the country. This is where I’m lucky, to a degree. My husband happens to work for a local sheriff’s office. Your sheriff’s office is a different creature than your police departments. But the law is the law, so I sought help from my husband. Without him, I would have inaccurate information in my books. I’ve written scenes, then consulted with my husband, and had to rewrite the scene, and anything that may have been affected by the changes made. Sometimes when I’ve asked for his help, he’ll answer my question but say that they, the police department, may handle it differently. I use the information from him because he’s the closest thing I have for a more accurate answer. We watch several police shows on TV, and I’ve gathered information for my books from them as well. I owe a lot to my husband for having patience with me and answering my questions.
There is so much more that I had to research for this story, as well as my other books. I could go on forever about what I did for this, that, and the other, but I’ll spare you. Just know that writers don’t simply sit down and write what they want without doing research. We talk to people, search the Internet, read books, or even visit a destination. In my opinion, those who write historical romances have a bigger job of doing research. If you’re wondering how an author wrote a character, scene, chapter, or whatever, reach out to them and ask. We love to talk about our books to our readers.
Leave me any questions you have in the comments section. Thank you for visiting today.
In spite of losing her brother because of Detective Rogers, Stephanie hasn’t forgotten their attraction. It could be happily ever after when they meet once again…until she and her salon are implicated in crime, sending her world spiraling out of control.
Read an excerpt:
“We need to talk to Stephanie.” Vergas’s voice softened. He remained silent while running a hand through his hair.
“If you want, I can call the salon and see when she’d be available to talk to us.”
His stomach tightened. He didn’t answer her, as his thoughts focused on Stephanie. Glancing in the rearview mirror, he skirted into the right lane.
“I’ll make the call. Ryan, she’s not a suspect, as of today, but you need to—”
“I know what I need to do, Vergas,” he snapped. He flexed his fingers gripping the steering wheel several times, then rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m sorry. I’ll talk to her as soon as I can.” He exited the highway and entered the concrete jungle, putting them a block from the salon. Taught muscles screamed for relaxation.
“Is that why you’ve been quiet?” Vergas’s calm kept his frustration at bay.
“Yeah.” City traffic and lights held his focus. He wasn’t in the mood to talk. Monica got the hint, and for that he was thankful.
This development had him realizing his feelings for Stephanie were more concrete than he’d originally thought. His stomach sank. They couldn’t rule Stephanie out as a possible suspect. She owned the salon. Like her brother, she could easily be involved in illegal activities. Ryan couldn’t believe she’d be like her brother. Yet, she did have a connection to the wealthy through her parents. Surely, they belonged to the same clubs and groups as many of their victims. Maybe she was involved.
About the Author:
Born and raised in Minnesota, Jody remains close to home living with her husband of twenty-five plus years, three children and a cat named Holly. Growing up, she enjoyed reading V.C. Andrews’ the Dollanganger series, starting with Flowers in the Attic, S.E. Hinton, and Stephen King to name a few. Today her tastes run across the board in fiction and non-fiction, in all genres.
She has traveled throughout the United States, to the Bahamas and Cancun, Mexico. Between watching her youngest son playing soccer, maintaining one of the many scrapbook albums, gardening and being the COO of the Vitek household, she writes contemporary romances.
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