Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Coming in for a Landing

Thought for the day: The bad news is time flies. The good news is you're the pilot. [Michael Altshuler]

[image courtesy of morguefile]
Watch out! This ol' gal is fixing to land...

Yeah, I know how trite it is to say that time flies, and no writer wants to be accused of being trite, right? But what can I say? Time really DOES... um... you know. I was just starting to settle all nice and cozy into my month-long break from blogging and... poof!... it's over.

So here we are at the beginning of a brand new month, which means it's also time for another IWSG post.

Happy May, everybody! For those of you who participated in April's A-Z challenge, I hope it was both an enjoyable and a successful one for you. For all the rest of you, I hope it was a terrific month for you, too.


[image courtesy of perfectlytimedphotos]
All is well here. I'm nearly finished with the first draft of my WIP and am enjoying what I like to call the jet-assist period. If you think about it, writing a book is a lot like making a long solo flight to the destination of our dreams. When we start out, enthusiasm and excitement about the wondrous place we're going provide plenty of impetus, but as the journey continues to go on and on and on, the seemingly endless flight becomes more of a slog, and all we want to do is land already. When that initial jet-assist poops out, we're left huffing, puffing, and flapping our wings like crazy just to keep from crashing. Then the end's finally in sight, and we're miraculously infused with a second wind, and the original jet-assist excitement is back again in all its glory. We're almost there! Ain't it grand?

Another thing that's grand is this Insecure Writer's Support Group. The brain child of Alex Cavanaugh, this group provides support, solace, and yes... jet-support impetus... to all writers of all kinds. If you'd like to join, or are interested in following links to other participants for this month's post, please go HERE

Now then. Let's move on to this month's question: What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?

Weirdest? Coolest? I dunno. I don't think anything's too weird, and research is all cool. However, for the book I'm nearly finished, I did a bunch of research on homemade explosives... how to make them, where to get the ingredients, and all of that good stuff. Really interesting. (My dear oh-so-helpful Smarticus informed me that if someone from NSA comes knocking at our door, he'll promptly direct them to my office.) I'm not sure if perusing posts written by anarchists qualifies as weird or cool, but some of the research I did for Book Two of my trilogy definitely pegged the cool-o-meter for me. I wanted to find out if Maryland had a reform school for girls in the late '50s and early '60s. Not only did I find such a place... and in the perfect location for the purposes of my story... but I found a Yahoo group comprised of women who were IN that reform school during those years! Talk about a treasure trove of information. GOLD MINE! I don't know if all writers enjoy the research side of things as much as I do, but to me, the research is a joy in itself, and ya know, I'm just about convinced that the Internet can answer just about ANY question. (Whether or not the answer is correct may be a different story... ) What's the neatest treasure trove of information YOU ever discovered?


It's good to be back, y'all. Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

81 comments:

  1. Lovely to see you back.
    I so agree about research. I am frequently appalled at my ignorance - and simultaneously grateful that I have the perfect excuse/reason to continue learning.

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    1. Thank you. It's lovely to BE back. :)

      Absolutely. We'll never learn EVERYTHING, but that's no excuse for not trying to learn as much as we can. Keeps our brains "young."

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  2. Welcome back. It must be nice to be in the final stages of your book now. I hope it does well.
    Research is where I fail. Not only do I not know WHERE to search, but I don't know WHAT I should search for. My own personal experiences don't count for much so I can't draw on those either.

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    1. Thanks. It's good to be back.

      It is nice to be in the final stages of the first draft, but lots of rewriting and editing still lie ahead. Still, I can't re-write and edit until I get those words down on the page. Slowly, but surely...

      For me, research starts with curiosity, with wanting to know more about something... more about anything. Then I type my question into a search engine, and see where it takes me. It always leads somewhere interesting.

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  3. For all we complain about technology, it really can be amazing. I do love what you said about it having all the answers, whether they're the correct answers is another story. :)

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    1. Absolutely. There's so much false information to be found on the internet, we really have to be careful, but OH! The joy of being able to find facts online that used to require an entire day of poring through library reference books!

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  4. When you reach the end, sure a great moment indeed. The NSA probably has you on a list now though lol

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    1. Reaching the end is awesome, and the beginning of a whole new re-writing and editing journey. :)

      Yep. They probably do.

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  5. It was so nice to see your name on my dashboard. Is it May already? Wow, I guess it's time to take the Christmas wreath down.

    Reform school - I haven't heard those words in years. I imagine they have renamed them to something more PC today. I do remember the nuns in Catholic school in the 50's school threatening to send certain students there. I never wanted to get on that list.

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    1. And it's nice to BE seen on your dashboard... nicer yet to hear from you. Believe it or not, some houses in our neighborhood are still decked out in Christmas decorations. If they leave them up long enough, it'll save them some work in December.

      You're right. I don't suppose anyone calls them reform schools anymore. Here, we have Youth Detention Centers, and some of them sound as bad as the old reform schools were.

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  6. What a PERFECT analogy for writing a book. I'm still in the early stages of the cross-country flight now but I know the inevitable is coming.
    Glad to hear you are near completion on the draft - can't wait to read more from you. :)

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    1. Thanks. Good to know someone else goes through those same up-down-up levels of enthusiasm while writing a book.

      Thanks. I THINK I'm on the last chapter now. Still a looooong way to go, though. Good luck with your flight!

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    1. Oh, dear. See me? Maybe I should've gotten dressed, huh...? HA. It's good to be back. :)

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  8. Oh my goodness, talk about the flight/journey... I'm 50% through this pregnancy and telling myself I'm on the down slope. One day at a time, eh?

    YOU FOUND A WHOLE GROUP?! That's amazing! I have a book set in NYC that revolves around teens, and I have been planning for ages to find myself a "consultant," aka, expert, aka teen in NYC, but I'm not to that stage yet.

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    1. HA! As I remember it, pregnancy is like an over-long flight to a dream destination, too, isn't it? Halfway there is great!

      I KNOW!!! Isn't that amazing??? The stories from those gals are absolutely priceless. I bet you'll be able to find a NYC teenager or two who'd be happy to help, too. Good luck with it.

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  9. Awesome that you found a group of former reform school girls to interview.
    Welcome back. I was pretty much gone for april, too.

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    1. I know! I still can't believe how fortunate I was to find them.

      Thanks. Well then, welcome back to YOU, too!

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  10. Wow, I cannot believe you found that group ! That has to be the coolest research I've heard of today, so far! Although, reading about explosives is also up there!

    Shah
    shahwharton.com

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    1. Yeah, I'm pretty pumped about finding that group. Nothing can give a sense of reality to a book like getting the information straight from the people who've been there-done that.

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  11. My nerdy side shines brightly when I'm doing research. Just love it. What I really love is following a trail that leads me to something different that then becomes part of the story. Welcome back!

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    1. Yes! It's like finding a priceless gem at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box. (Do they even make that any more?) One of the fun things about online research is jumping into the unexpected rabbit holes of unexpected information. My poor sense of direction isn't terribly helpful in real life, but on the internet, I have no worries about taking a "wrong turn."

      Thanks!

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  12. Solo flight to the destination of our dreams. I love it. Nothing trite about that!

    But you're right, pretty soon you're dealing with jet lag, lost luggage, and sun burns.

    Perfect writing analogy. You're so very, very smart!!

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  13. I can't add anything except welcome home!!

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  14. Home made explosives and reform school girls? Yes, Susan, you're definitely back! After writing a post last night about dragonfly wings, I need the excitement. Glad to see you on my reader list this morning.

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    1. You mean YOU'VE never researched home made explosives and reform school girls? (Sounds like the title of an old cheesy detective story.)

      Glad to be on your reader list again, and I'm looking forward to reading your post about dragonfly wings.

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  15. welcome back (sshh. don't tell the NSA). Your research, pictures, and posts are always informative and fun. Happy May! Hope it was a grand April.

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    1. Hi-ya. Thanks! It was, indeed, a grand April. Here's to a happy May for all of us. :)

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  16. Hey, good to have you back. Happy landing.

    My weirdest research probably involves roosters or goats. Each were featured in a pair of short stories that came out last month. Thank goodness for my expert homesteader and fellow author, Maria Zannini who keeps me from looking foolish.

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    1. Hey, it's good to be back. No problem with the landing. (I've got plenty of padding.)

      Roosters and goats, eh? I'm intrigued.

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  17. I am afraid to do research on bombs, poisons, gun silencers, and a few other things knowing that someone would come knocking on my door. You've got guts!

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    1. I'm also a little old lady. I don't "fit" their profile. :)

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  18. Welcome back and congratulations on the near-completion of your first draft! That's definitely time to breathe a well-deserved sigh of relief (I know there are more hurdles ahead, but that first one is always a bitch).

    I've always loved doing research - it's one of the joys of writing. And the Internet provides such a wealth of information. I remember looong ago when I did freelance writing before being computerized. I spent most of my time either in libraries or writing snail mail letters.

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    1. Hi-ya, cowboy! Thanks. I'm looking forward to finishing this draft so I can get into the serious business of rewrites.

      I remember those long days at the library, too. When we lived in Maryland, I had cards for six different libraries, and I visited them all. The Enoch Pratt in downtown Baltimore and the library on the Johns Hopkins campus were top-notch for doing research. (But as much as I enjoyed it, the Internet is sooooo much easier.)

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  19. A reform school for girls! I bet they have some stories to tell. I interviewed a lot of interesting people when I was a newspaper reporter. My favorite was an elderly lady from Ukraine who was deported to Germany by the Nazis and used as slave labor. After the war, she got a job cooking for the U.S. Army and married a man who brought her to his family's farm in Pennsylvania. She was a lovely person who had been through a nightmare as a young woman.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. They had some amazing stories to tell, and some were achingly heartbreaking.

      I'm glad your lady survived the war and went on to have a happy ending. (And she got to meet YOU, too!)

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  20. There's a reason for those trite expressions, repeated over and over through generations-- it's because they are too true! When I write I'll often put in cliches since they're the first things that come to mind, as a kind of place holder. In later drafts, they all must go! Congrats on finishing the first draft. That's always such a great feeling.

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    1. Yeah, some of those expressions are true, but some are just strange. Like "cute as a button." :)

      It's a good idea to insert temporary phrases as place holders so you can keep going. If I could make myself do that, maybe I wouldn't be so darned slow.

      Thanks, but I'm not quite finished with the first draft yet. Almost. I think I'm working on the last chapter. (Woo-HOO!)

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  21. The information you found out about that reform school is so cool. Isn't it amazing what you dig up when you start researching. Best of luck with your new work in progress. I'm already looking forward to reading it! :)

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    1. I know! I've got pages and pages of notes about some of the real-life experiences in that reform school. I won't use all of them, of course, but their flavor gave me a good grasp on what it was like. Hopefully, it'll help me make the story more realistic.

      Thank you! I'm looking forward to finishing these books, so you can read 'em, too!

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  22. Hey Susan, Glad to see you back, and guess who else is back?...yes I decided to get back to posting, drop back over when you get a chance.

    Researching for a story can take you to the strangest places, the reform school sure sounds like you hit pay dirt so to say, keep up the good work Lady.

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    1. Hey, Jimmy! Welcome back. I'll be over for a visit in just a few minutes, so put the kettle on...

      Thanks. As you can tell, my current works, including stuff about explosives and a reform school, aren't "quite" like my first book. :)

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  23. Great analogy about writing and flying! So true! I'm thrilled that you've accomplished your goal, well, part of it!
    Thank you so much for your help with The Snowman, it wouldn't be without you!!
    Bombs! Yep, the NSA has you in there sites. I'll let the black SUV outside my house know - now that I have your address, and maybe they'll leave my neighborhood for awhile! :)
    Have a great one!

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    1. Thanks.

      You KNOW it was my pleasure. It's a terrific book.

      Nope, not gonna work. NSA has been reading our emails, and now that they know we refer to each other as sisters, they're keeping their eyes on BOTH of us. :)

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  24. Susan, I was soooo excited.
    For a minute you got me. I thought you were about to land that plane...literally!!
    You researched homemade explosives? Mmm. Very interesting.
    That info about the reform school for girls is a classic moment. BINGO! You hit the jackpot!
    Writer In Transit
    May IWSG Co-Host.

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    1. HA! That WOULD be pretty doggone exciting... :) But no, it's best if this ol' gal's feet remain firmly on the ground.

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  25. I have always wanted to research things like home made explosives but I have been too scared, due to the "times we live in" maybe I will take from your example and whack it into google, I google murder quite often so who knows I might be okay... haha X

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    1. HA! Go for it!!! Knowledge is power, and if the powers that be don't approve of the things we research, tough. All we have to do is show them our manuscripts and books if they show up at our doors...

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  26. Home explosives, hmmm, friend Susan ? Did you know that we prolly have it right in our daily coffee ? Watch this coffee mate creamer experiment ... https://www.youtube.com/embed/yRw4ZRqmxOc?rel=0&controls=0&showinfo=0 ... Yeppers ... Love, cat.

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    1. HA! That video is amazing! (And the last line about the dude having to get some clean underwear is hilarious.) Good think I only use half & half in my tea, eh?

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  27. Congratulations on finishing your draft! Research is my favorite part of process. I just spent two months researching my next novel—an historical I don’t intend to write. Time will tell if my flight crashed or was simply grounded. Regardless, the research was a joy. :)

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    1. Thanks. As for me, I hope your plane is only temporarily grounded for re-fueling. :)

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  28. I love research. Too often, researching one thing leads to another and that leads to something else, etc. Love Smarticus' solution when the NSA comes to call. LOL

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    1. That whole one thing leading to another is one of the things I like best. I call it falling down the information rabbit hole. (And I visit that rabbit hole quite often!)

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  29. Congrats on almost finishing your draft. I'm just getting back into writing after a life-required hiatus and I can't wait to take off and get going.

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    1. Thanks! It's good to hear you're back at it again. :) Conditions are great, and you're cleared for a take-off...

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  30. Yay! You're finishing another book and it sounds like dynamite. Smiles.
    Sorry it's been so long since I've dropped by. I hope all things are going well in your world.
    Hugs.

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    1. Hi-ya! It's good to hear from you again. :)

      All is well here. I'm still an old broad, but I'm still a happy one, too, so I can't complain.

      Hugs back atcha.

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    2. Ha! It's getting late, and I'm a little slow on the uptake. "Sounds like dynamite." Good one!

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  31. Welcome back!

    And don'tcha just love the Internet for finding things and bringing people together? I know that I've encountered a few neat things/people/stuff on the Internet. But I always remember my son remodeling his entire house after watching youtube videos. ("Mom, nowadays there's NEVER an excuse for not knowing something.") Ha!

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    1. Thanks!

      Yeah, I do. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I've reconnected with some people I hadn't seen in almost fifty years. (Um... yeah, that's was pre-birth. HA!)

      Wow, your son must have watched a LOT of videos! But he's right... :)

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  32. Hi Susan - love the photos - glad I haven't had many scrapes like the last photo - mind you I'd have probably died laughing ... Congratulations on that long slow flight in with your book - take care and good to see you back ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Hi-ya, Hilary. Thanks. It's good to be back. You take care, too, and have a super weekend.

      Cheers!

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  33. Great to have you back and in charge of the plane! :-)

    Greetings from London.

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    1. Thanks... and there's always good food and lots of leg room on my plane, too. :)

      Greetings back atcha.

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  34. ... but it's so true time does fly by!

    Take care

    All the best Jan

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    1. True! Except for when it drags its feet. :)

      You take care, too. Have a super weekend.

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  35. I like your analogy with the flight, Susan. I'll try to see it that way a bit more. Except for the fact that I used to like to fly many years ago, but now, the experience has turned into more of a hassle, due to security and such. I'll see that part as little set-backs during the wring process. Once past security, things go a bit smoother again. Except, when I have to run to catch the plane. :-) Liesbet @ Roaming About – A Life Less Ordinary

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    1. HA! I know what you mean. I used to LOVE to fly, but it's been more than twenty years since I parked my keister in an airplane. After my hubby retired, he had no more interest in EVER flying again, and the increased hassles have cemented that opinion.

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  36. Hi Susan, I'm so excited that you're almost done with the first draft of your new book! Sounds like you really made the most out of your month off. Having the opportunity to speak to graduates of the reform school had to really bring your story to life. What a fascinating idea!

    Julie

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    1. Hi-ya! Thanks. I'm pretty excited myself. :)

      It's good to hear from you. I miss you, girl.

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  37. Welcome back! If it's any consolation, we had to do actual research on the NSA itself, like how it's put together from within, what they spy on, etc., for our Tuck Watley novel, so if they didn't show up at our door, they definitely won't show up at yours.

    Either that, or my house is now full of 1,000 tiny cameras and microphones and even this comment can later be used against me.

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    1. Thanks! Hmmm, I'm not sure if the NSA would be as concerned about someone researching their "business" as they would about research into anarchists' methods and how to make explosives from the comfort of your own home...

      And yeah, we both have a multitude of devices trained on us. Didn't you hear?

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  38. Congrats on nearly being done with the first draft of your WIP! And wow, it's amazing to see where your reform school research led you. That kind of luck is hard to come by!

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, I know. It's like the royal flush of online search results. :)

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