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Hidden Backdrop by Jacqui Jacoby, Dead Men Play The Game #Giveaway

After One Bite Leads To Another released in print, I'm busy editing Book 2 in the series One Bite For The Unborn.

Please welcome author Jacqui Jacoby.

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Hidden Backdrop

I’m trying to remember exactly where I heard this.  I know I was teaching a class and a woman was taking it. She wanted to write a romance novel.  That was fine.  That is a subject I can teach and I was willing to help her out.
That was until we got further into the class it became apparent we weren’t on the same page.  Her heroine was a nurse and her hero, an architect.
          “That’s great,” I said.  “What are you doing for the research?”
          “Oh, there’s no research,” she said.
          Can’t remember if I mumbled something or just stared blankly.
          “It’s a romance book,” she pointed out as if I was an idiot.  “You don’t need that kind of stuff.  All you have to do is get the hero and heroine into the same room and they will know what to do.”
          Wink wink, nudge, nudge,
          Yeah, I don’t remember her name and pretty sure it didn’t appear on the New York Times best seller list.
          There a multitude of components we need to make our book work.
          You have to have characters.  That much is a given.  A plot is good, one that doesn’t involve merely getting them into a room and letting them figure things would be even better.
          Characters & a Plot…to sustain those elements, research in a necessity if you want anyone to read your book.
          Because if you put in that little tidbit about the rocket science being used in the cafeteria I can guarantee someone who works in rocket science is going to e-mail you and let you know how far off you are.  And if they are in a good mood, they will use Twitter, too, and Facebook and pretty much every other social network they can think of. That review on Amazon? Ewww.
          We don’t have to know about rocket science.
          But we do have report what we learn on that subject if it is going to appear in the pages of our books.
          I have spoken to rock bands, The CIA, The FBI (not nearly as friendly as the CIA).  I have cold called experts in fields of New York architecture to verify parks settings back east.  Last year, I needed a Gaelic word I could not find anywhere.  The hero of DEAD MEN PLAY THE GAME is Scottish, so there is the starting point. Scotland.  I emailed The University of Edinburgh (Googled the address), got one department who didn’t have the answer but was willing to pass the question to the department they knew would. The word I needed is in the book.
          And that right there is the key.
          The majority of people in the world have a job.  They do the same thing pretty much day in and day out.  It’s get a little boring. And then they get this phone call or this email from a writer--always provide your credentials even if it’s your first book—and it’s a spice added to their day.
          One of two things is going to happen from the mere asking of your question.
A)  They are swamped, not interested and really don’t want to be bothered or…
B)   They love that you called because people like to talk about their work or their hobby, they love to share their knowledge.  People just want to be asked “Hey what do you think, know, do you have an opinion on the direction that would make this real …?”

          In my experience, I almost always hit ‘B’.  I cold called the manager of a well known rock band when I heard they were going to be in town. I asked if I could meet with the band between shows for information on a novel I was working on.  Not only did I get the interview with several members, but the following day when I went back with the family to enjoy the show, the band took interest in my kids and treated them down right nice. I still have the photo of all of them together.
          “We’ve all been there,” the lead singer said, ”what do you need from us to make this happen?”
          We start out with our story and we know the heroine is a nurse and the hero is an architect, such as my student.  Okay, let’s go from there.  What department does she work in?  Predicates?  Did you know, like I know after an Internet search on “A Day in the Life of a Nurse” that it is not uncommon for a pediatric nurse to have an Elmo sticker stuck on her stethoscope?  Or to have throw-up wiped up and stained on her uniform on a daily basis?  And how about an architect?  What does he design? Houses?  Commercial housing?  Malls?  That information will make a difference in everything from his stress load to his available time.
          Making up names for businesses is research, too, as it’s in the back of the story.  And making up names is not a bad practice if you are using local businesses.  Using well known commercial establishments is okay as long as you don’t stage a crime or murder there.  Having someone choke to death on a Whopper in a Burger King will get you a Cease and Desist Order from their law firm.
I called the Hershey Amusement Park in Pennsylvania and spoke to their PR department and they told me yes, it was fine to use the name of their park in the story--as long as no one got hurt or killed on one of their roller coasters.
          Where do you get research?  Books.  Books are good.  I just picked up one of religious cults as I need it for Book III of THE DEAD MEN SERIES.  I also hid it from my mother<g>.  Calling people is really outstanding.  You get to talk to someone who knows the subject and can give you that little detail you might otherwise miss.  How do you find them?  Google, or the search engine of your choice. And then use the same search engine to find articles on your required subject.
          Remember to take notes from the people you talk to or print out from the computer. Keep a three ring notebook and a hole punch handy to store everything in. And I do mean everything. Books are not short term projects and as you get to the end, you might be wondering just what is was Mr. Nice Guy told you when you were a quarter of the way through.

          Research is the hidden backdrop we don’t know we are reading.  We never see it as it is seamlessly sprinkled into the main text, but it is there, giving our characters and our plot the momentum to move forward.  

Dead Men Play The Game

For a hundred years, Ian Stuart has fought the monster controlling his life. Living as a human among humans, he wants to fill the void that has followed him from one empty, lonely relationship to another other.

Ashley Barrow is working the worst murder case in Davenport, Oregon's history. She needs a drink to forget the detailed images in mind. When she walks into Ian's pub, Ian knows their lives are about to change, if only for a short while. Vampire and human, their relationships can only last so long. But an enemy from Ian's past has his own agenda about their future.

 His sadistic revenge changes Ashley forever, leaving Ian and his long time friends – Travis, Jason, Quinn and Evan -- desperate to ease her into her new life and find a way to defeat their enemy.

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  1. Hello again, Jacqui! I hope all is going well.

    1. Well hello there. You having a great day? ^,,^

    2. Welcome to Happy Ever After Jacqui! I hope you enjoy chatting with all my friends here!

  2. Great article. I think doing research is one of the most enjoyable parts of writing. Readers may not always be able to tell if a writer did much in the way of research, but they sure can tell if (s)he HASN'T. Nothing is more irritating to me than blatant errors in a book. It's fine to make up all kinds of stuff in a work of fiction, but it's a colossal mistake to fudge on the facts.

    1. Ever throw anything uttering "You morons!!" Actually I did that with all of The Tudors I watched, which wasn't much. Nothing about it was real ... I majored in Henry VIII at UCLA ... which is where I learned to research.

  3. Very helpful advice! I do a lot of research via Google and asking friends/family, but I haven't tried calling or interviewing strangers in professional fields. But I'm open to that, if I need information that they can give me. Great post!

  4. Research is an essential. As Susan says, it becomes all too clear when a writer just hasn't bothered. And if they can't be bothered, why should we...

    1. Exactly. You can't "research" something like vampires, I mean that is a given because, duh, they don't exist. But you *can* research the myths behind them, find out why is it they can't be seen in mirrors and then determine if that is a direction you want to go. As long as you know the background and where you got it, it's probably a good read.

  5. Kelly has been real good to me with promoting Dead Men Play the Game. I just wanted everyone to know how great she is. ^,,^

  6. It's nice to meet you, Jacqui! I appreciate your insight and advice. There is much more to writing than many people think. :) Kelly, thanks for hosting Jacqui!

  7. Hey Karen ... nice to meet you, too. Hope I run into you again. ^,,^
    You are right that there is more to it than meets the eye and here were are, just sprinkling it though. There is a Thai place in Book II and naming that thing ... took me months. Had to be right, right?

  8. I'll admit to being one of those people who leaves reviews of books that screw up science aspects that are occasionally not so nice. It's NOT hard to talk to people to get details correct! And it makes me nuts when books or TV mess it up. Great post!

    1. Man, now you have me nervous! LOL I swear I looked up how to make a Goodnight Kiss!! The fact the local barentern in town didn't have a clue is her fault and not mine!! LOL

    2. that was bartender. The cat helped!! LOL

  9. Thanks so much for sharing all these tips. I wish I could attend a writing course, and if I ever do I will know to have more respect for the tutor!

    1. Writing courses aren't hard to find. I teach mine online and have some coming up -- to help not sell, I hope you know that. It's on my web page, I think. If not, email me. I can tell you some others to find them.

  10. Replies
    1. Thank you. I like writing about research. I always like finding new facts.

  11. Research is vital. Of course, even then it happens that you can overlook something. I admire you for calling people in your quest for research, Jacqui!

    1. People like to be asked. The guys in Scotland, they really did work hard to find the phrase I needed. Only it didn't exist so they went the extra mile, all on their own, to get me one close enough. People are great. Just ask.

    2. Know how I got six interviews with Nora? LOL ... I ... asked ... LOL

  12. Research is really important. Readers can really pick your work apart if they find incorrect information.

    1. With a Vengeance: I spelt the scotch they were drinking wrong. Turned out editor's husband, it was his fav brand and she caught it. Whew ... how did I miss that?

  13. I love reading a well researched novel with settings I can relate too.

  14. My towns are made so that gives freedom, but what's is usually real stuff I had to find. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes not. The hard one for me? Naming things like streets or places to eat. Stuff like that. Always a struggle.

  15. I'm so glad the answer is B I've thought about contacting real people, but then end up doing most of my research online or through books. It's good to know that experts are approachable.

  16. People like to help. They like being asked, makes them feel important that they have something with value. I really have run into few who didn't want to.

  17. I'm doing a survey. Who do you like best? Email your answers!! ^,,^