Research. We’ve spent the month of March dissecting this topic from all angles. From how to start, to research on the road, and current events research, a way to gather information should be coming clear.
I’ve asked the Crew to share their go-to source when it comes to research. Here’s what they said:
Harriet Michael: As a Christian nonfiction writer who writes a lot of Biblical pieces—devotions and essays to a Biblical theme, my go-to resource is Bible Gateway where I can look up passages, do word searches, find commentaries, and find passages in all translations. Here is their link: https://www.biblegateway.com/
Jennifer Hallmark: Sometimes when I write, I just can’t think of the right word so I use an online thesaurus. Even if I don’t find what I need, it often gets my creativity flowing so I can move forward in my writing. Their link is http://www.thesaurus.com/
Kristy Horine: I find the Blue Letter Bible www.blueletterbible.org to be a great resource due to its interlinear concordance, cross references, language explanations, and access to commentaries. It has an app that is free that can be downloaded to your phone. In addition, www.biblestudytools.com is helpful in the commentary area.
Another source is www.thoughtco.com. This is not a Christian-based resource, but it sure is fun for those strange and unusual questions like if brain cells regenerate, or the difference between racism and prejudice. It is based on the idea that we should be lifelong learners and seeks to teach just that. Plus, it has a really neat daily email you can sign up for. And, for numbers: www.barna.com and www.pewresearch.org
Betty Thomason Owens: I attended a class on researching at the Mid South Conference. The instructor gave us the Library of Congress website. It’s huge. You can find articles, photos, and lots of other interesting studies and stories and books. https://www.loc.gov/ I also love History.com https://www.history.com/ and the Smithsonian.com https://www.smithsonianmag.com/.
Gail Johnson: I use the Bible, Webster’s dictionary, and the Strong’s Concordance. Also Bible Gateway and the online versions of the dictionary and thesaurus.
Bonita McCoy: I love Biblehub.com because it gives you the verse in several translations. I use it for my Beautiful Pieces of Grace blog. Also the good old library for articles for the Inspired Prompt site and my Courageous Writers blog.
Fay Lamb: My research varies on what the subject happens to be. If it is medical, I will look up medical research on various sites, but I also look for journals of people who have undergone medical procedures. I also use slang dictionaries for slang for certain times. I even have a surfers’ slang dictionary.
Tammy Trail: I tend to look for historical societies. There is a blog I like to catch up with too, Colonial Quills. Lots of historical information there for me. I use the Colonial Williamsburg website also. For writing related information, I love Seekerville.
Carlton Hughes: Like others, my research varies depending on the subject. I’m mostly writing devotionals now, so usually I’m searching for a specific scripture on Bible Gateway. Blogs like Novel Rocket are good for general advice on fiction writing.
Shirley Crowder: I use Blue Letter Bible — lots of commentaries, words studies, etc. https://www.blueletterbible.org/
Karen Jurgens: I use Google for whatever I need to know when I’m writing about Paris and other parts of the world. I study maps of the city, and I use reference books I’ve purchased while visiting. For example, I bought lots of historical books and maps of Cayman Island when I vacationed there a couple years ago. I always write about settings I know personally or have visited.
Cammi Woodall: Started in September of 1998, Google is the world’s largest search engine. You know how I know that? I googled it! When you can use your search engine name as a verb, you know you are doing something right. I love other sites like AskJeeves.com or Yahoo.com, but I always come back to Google. In one research session, l learned that the world’s oldest church is the Dura-Europos house church in Syria, arsenic poison will still show up in your fingernails 6 to 12 months after ingestion, and a ten-gallon hat really only holds three-quarters of a gallon. Who knew? Google did! And now I do, too.
Thank you, Inspired Prompt Crew! As you can see, there are research sites galore for the fiction and non-fiction writer. Do you have a go-to site that’s not listed above? In lieu of a writing prompt, we’re asking you to share that in the comments below…
Good morning and happy Wednesday! It’s my pleasure to have author Dee Dee Chumley with me this morning. Let’s get started.
Good morning Dee Dee. Can you describe yourself in three words?
Curious, contemplative, indecisive.
I think contemplative a wonderful trait for authors.
Someone offers you a fully-paid writing research trip to any place you desire to go. Where would it be and why?
I’m afraid this answer will make me sound rather dull. While there are many exotic destinations I would love to visit—Alaska or Australia—if the trip is for writing research, I wouldn’t need to venture far. My preferred genre, both to read and write, is contemporary women’s fiction, and my settings are generally places I’m familiar with. That said, I’m always open to “researching” new ways to grow in my writing, so an expense-paid conference would thrill me. I recently learned of the Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference near Santa Cruz, California. Workshops presented by successful writers, small-group mentoring, manuscript reviews—all this while surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation. What more could a writer want?
Dee Dee, you could never be boring. It sounds like an exciting trip. Now for the next question.
If someone made a movie of your life, what would be the theme song?
Had a hard time choosing between these two. (See third word in above description.) I love Chris Rice’s rendition of “Untitled Hymn” as I think it gives an accurate description of every Christian’s journey. But while writing Some Form of Grace, I began closely considering the concept of grace and realizing how blessed I am to be a recipient of such an extraordinary gift. So my final answer is … “Grace Flows Down.” If you look for it on YouTube, the Sandi Patty version is my favorite.
I love the song. Sandy Patty is a favorite. Readers, you can listen to the song by clicking on the title.
Dee Dee, thank you for joining us this morning. It has been a pleasure talking with you.
Readers, don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win an e-book of Some Form of Grace.
Some Form of Grace
Angry loner Gracene has just stepped out of the prison gates and already she’s pulling another con job: She’s moving to Transformation Place. The apartment complex offers free rent and a re-entry program for ex-offenders. But there’s a catch. The apartments and the program are for Christians, something Gracene knows she can never be. A dark secret has convinced her she is beyond forgiveness.
Faking her faith works for a while. She finds a good job with an understanding boss, and for the first time in her twenty-eight years, she has true friends. Even romance seems a possibility. At long last her life is headed in the right direction. But when a creeper from the past slithers back into her life, can Gracene’s pretend faith save her from a U-turn?
Dee Dee Chumley has received numerous awards for her short stories, essays, and poems, and in 2012 her debut novel Beyond the Farthest Star won Best Juvenile Book from the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc. When she’s not writing, she’s traveling across the US with her husband Bill to visit friends and family, volunteering at her church, or relaxing on her front porch in Oklahoma. She is a member of OWFI and ACFW. Please connect with her at www.deedeechumley.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/deedeechumley, or on Twitter @dee_chumley.
My husband and I have traveled in our RV off and on for the last fifteen years. Beginning in 2010, I sensed the Lord calling me to write Christian fiction. I soon discovered traveling and writing fiction are best buddies. Every destination offers a setting for a book—one where I’ve actually walked the streets or roamed the countryside.
Last summer, I had the privilege of experiencing the most intriguing research on the road ever. We parked at Shell Campground in Wyoming at the base of the Big Horn Mountains for the entire summer. And most exciting, a very expensive, upscale guest ranch only a few miles away provided ample information.
So, the setting of my WIP is a Wyoming ranch I call Sunlight Peaks. The book, A Home For Fritz, will be out in May.
The owner of the exclusive guest ranch, The Hideout, was congenial and took me around the entire ranch in his open-air Jeep. (I’m glad I didn’t have to pay for a week’s stay at $3500.) I saw fields where his horses grazed, the barns and corral, the main complex that housed the elegant dining room and ranch offices, and guest quarters. He graciously showed me inside one of the guest rooms where, of course, my heroine stays during her visit.
But my research didn’t end there. I asked permission to interview the wranglers, which the owner granted. Since my hero is a wrangler, the chats were invaluable. I asked questions like: what do you like the most about your job? The least? Does management allow you to fraternize with the guests? Can you have a dog? Lots of others that related to the story.
Really exhilarating was the opportunity to visit the Big Horn Mountains. The entrance was only a five mile drive from the campground. In one of the mountain ranges is what the locals call the eye of the needle. It’s an opening in the rock which if you are at the pull-off on the mountain road at sunset, you have an exquisite view. Thus, I called my guest ranch Sunlight Peaks Guest Ranch. My hero and heroine fall in love as they witness the eye at sunset.
While in Wyoming, we attended a church in Greybull and got to know many of the locals. This was research in the sense that I based some of the characters on these delightful people. Not to mention the owners of the Shell Campground where we stayed.
The bottom line is: research on the road is the best, most effective type for an author. I lived the Wyoming life for three amazing months in 2017.
Writing Prompt: Jed kicked at the dirt clod by his boot. Crazy woman. She’d be his or…
An award-winning author, June Foster is a retired teacher with a BA in education and MA in counseling. Her characters find themselves in tough situations but overcome through God’s power and the Word.
She writes edgy topics wrapped in a good story. To date, she’s seen sixteen contemporary romances and several short stories published. Find June online at junefoster.com.
June’s newest novel, A Home For Fritz, won’t release until May so she agreed to share with us a few of her newer books. 🙂
When Pastor Zack Lawrence loses his wife and unborn child, he can’t find the motivation to minister at his church in Oak Mountain, Alabama. Though Ell Russell has loved Zack since they were kids, she must abandon any hope for a life with him. Can Zack find love again or will he shred Ella’s heart once more?
Buy link: http://tinyurl.com/ybqmnc2v
Prescription for Romance
Though Scott Townsend made a commitment to the Lord, he can’t relinquish bitterness toward his younger brother after he squanders their parents’ money. When a beautiful, young pharmacist seeks affirmation and challenges Scott’s values, he must uphold his upbringing.
Buy link: http://tinyurl.com/y8jtqvuw
Today we’d like to welcome author, Shellie Arnold, to the blog. Her latest book in The Barn Church series, Abide With Me, is a great Southern fiction read. But I’ll let her tell you a little more about herself and her book..
Glad you could join us, Shellie. Do you have any interesting writing rituals?
Shellie: For many years I struggled to write anywhere except at home in my office, when my family was gone. I think my “mommy” brain simply wouldn’t let me concentrate except under those conditions. Then I trained myself to use music as a device to create my writing “environment.” Now, I have a sort of Pavlovian reflex to a few different soundtracks—not kidding. A couple of worship albums, the soundtrack from the movie Solaris, and Islands: Essential Einaudi CD by Ludovico Einaudi. (I love Einaudi’s piano music) With my earbuds in, I can write almost anywhere. 🙂 I always start with worship music to get my heart and mind and spirit in the right place, then usually switch after about twenty minutes.
What are your books about?
Shellie: I write and speak about marriage issues. My passion is sharing everything I’ve learned the hard way about marriage. I want to support and give hope to marriages. My novels are about the “perfect storms” in marriage: what happens when my weaknesses hit yours head-on, and we’re both left wondering if anything can be salvaged.
Abide With Me is the third novel in my Barn Church series. Books one and two are: The Spindle Chair and Sticks and Stones. For this series, I created a fictional town in southern Alabama. In this small town is a church that’s a renovated barn. Each book in the series looks at a different marriage within that church body. I focus on one problem that can be present in a marriage—always an issue I’ve encountered or am still facing—and go deep into why the couple is where they are, and what God is trying to do in them and in their marriage.
Abide With Me is the story of Angelina and Nicholas Rousseau. They’ve been married ten years, they’re both believers, and their marriage is a disaster. Using both points of view, I look at what brought them to this place of unhappiness and discontentment.
What is your favorite part of the book?
Shellie: That’s a tough question! My favorite part of this book…well, without giving away the storyline, I think I have two favorite parts. The first would be the opening scene when Angelina attends a friend’s wedding in Las Vegas. Her heart and emotions have been so suppressed, so controlled, she’s unable to handle so much “happy” around her, even though she’s happy for her friend, the bride. Angie even stuns herself with her reaction, and I really like that image—the idea a wife’s yearnings are such a powerful force.
My second (and equally) favorite part would be when Nicholas is in jail, waiting in an interview room to speak again with his attorney, and he’s just seen Angelina for the first time in months. I take him to a really low place. He “hits bottom,” if you will, which is sometimes what it takes to get our attention, isn’t it? I really enjoyed writing how he begins to see not only the condition of his marriage, but what he contributed to its dysfunction.
Is there a message in your book you hope readers will grasp?
Shellie: Yes! Honestly, I thought this book would be first in the series, but God had other ideas. Abide With Me is the message of my heart, the message I wish I could say to every marriage. That every time we say no to God, we’re saying no to our mate and our marriage. That’s a tough truth. One God has been teaching me for almost thirty-two years now. But I think it’s the bottom line, the litmus test for every action and decision in marriage: Is my behavior righteous? Am I doing what God wants me to do?
In our everyday lives, I think it’s easy to overlook our mate, or demand our own way, to withhold forgiveness, to hold a grudge—even without realizing. I wanted to highlight how easy that is to do, and what the consequences would ultimately be for two people who were extremely in love when they married, but ten years later have almost nothing to show for their marriage. I also wanted to show how God can redeem that marriage, or any marriage. I truly believe God can redeem, heal, and restore anything—I’m living proof of that. I believe any marriage can thrive when both parties listen to God.
Where can readers find you online?
Shellie: My web site: www.shelliearnold.com (find my blog, FREE e-cards gallery, sign up for my newsletter, view my events page, and learn of new products and teachings soon to be available on DVD)
Link to purchase on Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/yad6j9ak
After ten years of marriage to the only man she’s ever loved, why is Angelina so unhappy?
Angelina Rousseau pours all her emotions into her paintings. When she meets a handsome stranger at a friend’s wedding in Las Vegas, she believes she’s discovered why she’s so lonely—she simply married the wrong man.
Nicholas Rousseau is a highly successful industrial engineer and has the Midas touch with his investments. Only in his marriage is he a failure.
When Nick is arrested for real estate fraud, Angelina is as uncertain of his innocence as she is certain she should end their marriage. But the authorities believe Angelina is as guilty as Nick. To protect her own future, she must return to the opulent home she abandoned and sell her cherished possessions to finance Nick’s defense. Nick desires to reconnect with his estranged wife, but examining their emotionally bankrupt marriage proves more difficult than he imagined. And, even if they discover what went wrong between them, Nick could still spend the rest of his life in prison.
Could “having it all” cost Nick and Angie more than they ever imagined?
Shellie Arnold is a writer and speaker on marriage and family. She truly believes—despite baggage, neglect, or mistakes—if a husband and wife listen to God, they can live happily even after. Her passion is sharing how God is helping her do exactly that. She maintains a blog at www.shelliearnold.com and is the founder of YOUR MARRIAGE resources. Shellie is a mother of three and has home schooled for over twenty years. She lives in Ohio with her husband of thirty-one years.