Let’s Talk with Terry Odell
In the Name of Research
by Terry Odell
Tina Whittle addressed writing what you know in her Let’s Talk post a while back, and how research is important. Google is a writer’s friend, but so are contacts with experts. My Triple-D Ranch romantic suspense series is set against the backdrop of a Colorado cattle ranch, and since I know very little about raising cattle, I found people who had the expertise and were willing to help.
However, after writing In Hot Water and In Deep Trouble, I needed to take things to the next level for the next books. While you can convey facts, getting the emotions, the feelings, the sights, sounds, and smells is something not easily done via computer or books.
I found a guest ranch with the advertising slogan “Where the guests are the cowboys” and thought that might be a good place to start. So, I booked a week as a ‘guest’ and although I hadn’t been on a horse since some Girl Scout riding lessons when I was 12, I figured I’d give it a go.
The ranch’s slogan is accurate. We were up early every morning brushing and saddling our horses before breakfast! Once that was done, we had our breakfast and then took off doing ranch work, which included gathering cattle and moving them from one pasture to another, riding through the herds checking for specific animals (they wear numbered ear tags), seeing if any needed doctoring … all this on a huge 10,000 acre spread of land, which meant a LOT of time in the saddle. I also had a chance to shoot a pistol, a shotgun, and a rifle, all of which will come in handy when writing.
You certainly don’t have to be a writer to want to try new things. Expanding horizons is a good thing. Share something you’ve done in the name of “research” for a chance at a digital copy of In Hot Water, the first book in my Triple-D Ranch series.
Posted in Let's Talk, with Terry Odell, zed: Former Authors • Tags: BLB Discussion, cattle ranch, contest, giveaway, In the Name of Research, Let's Talk, Terry Odell | 11 Comments
11 thoughts on “Let’s Talk with Terry Odell”
In Cabin Fever I have a scene that includes footprints in the snow and what happens to them during a blizzard. That’s footprints, not shoe or boot prints. In the middle of a snowstorm I stripped off boots and socks, rolled up my pants, and walked in the foot-deep snow the 100+ yards down the driveway from our guest cabin to road. By the time I finished, my feet were numb and I struggled to get my socks and boots back on. Then I stayed outside watching how long it took for the footprints to fill in.
That’s going above and beyond, Jim. (Did you also note how long it took to get feeling back in your feet, and what it felt like? Writing fodder is everywhere!)
I have the writer’s addiction — anything weird that happens to me, I pay attention so that I can put it in a book. I remember coming to after passing out in an airplane, and my first thought was, I’m alive yay, and my second was, I need to remember the procedure because it is exactly the kind of thing that would happen to my characters.
Believe it or not, that happened to me, too. And I think there’s a bit of ‘this is from my life’ in all our books, even if we end up changing the circumstances.
Most of us here have attended Writer’s Police Academy. I’ve only been once, but I quickly forgot to be a writer taking note of everything and relished the experience of most things cops and firefighters experience, along with a healthy dose of CSI stuff.
Were you like me and always fussed at the CSI characters on TV who entered a room with a little pen light and didn’t turn on the overhead light? You wouldn’t believe what you can see with that little light, especially when it comes to trace evidence or even footprints. AT WPA, I loved the experience of a virtual simulation, so you see how many shoot/don’t-shoot choices a cop has to make in a millisecond. I loved learning takedown moves and seeing my fellow writers in handcuffs. I loved listening to Katherine Ramsland talk about the psychology of it all. Best of all was the segment by the former Marine sniper. Holy Cow. What a special skill set. What I actually went for was to learn more about handguns, which I use in my romantic suspense and mystery novels. Will I write a novel with snipers and truly crazy people? Maybe. My Muse has a bit of wanderlust in her fairy dust.
I’m going back to WPA — I think this makes my 5th time. And there are always so many serendipitous tidbits you weren’t expecting.
Hmmm, I do not think I have ever “done” something for research… just typical book or internet research to find things out… unless a trial by error project I helped my little nephew with for his 2nd grade report counts, LOL.
Of course it counts. Any time you learn something new, you’re growing, and you never know when it might come in handy.
don’t research anything
Oh, I’ll bet you’ve looked things up, even if it’s only a recipe. That’s research.
Congratulations to Colleen C, who won a download of In Hot Water. Thanks to all who commented, and we hope to see you again. We have new posts every week.