Beware the RRH: Research Rabbit Holes affect the Space-Time Continuum!


Today’s Writer Wednesday post is all about research.

As a Reference Librarian who has worked in many different libraries–special, scientific, and public–this is a topic I love and hate. Love it because I’m trained to be methodical and logical in my searches, and I’ve learned all sorts of useful nuggets that serve me well while playing Trivial Pursuit. Hate it because if I’m not careful, the RRH (Research Rabbit Hole) will eat up hours, even affecting the time-space continuum. (I’m a Dr. Who fan!)

I only have one rule when doing research. I set a timer and limit each question search to 45 minutes. If I can’t find the answer by then, I force myself to quit and go back to writing. (or make another cup of tea, or throw more laundry into the dryer, or clean out my linen closet–writers know exactly what I mean).

But here are three questions where I broke my rule for my adult romantic suspense WIP See Her No More. 


Question 1: Why is the 14-line sonnet between Romeo and Juliet in Act 1 Scene 5 split between Romeo and Juliet instead of being spoken by one actor (like in Shakespeare’s previous plays)?

Answer: After almost six hours of research, I found information on the internet regarding Francisco Petrarch’s (1304-1374) feelings about love relationships and how these earlier sonnets affected Shakespeare’s work, especially Romeo and Juliet. But the information, while interesting, still left me with questions. One of the articles spoke of passive heroines (which Juliet is not) and the ever-annoying insta-love phenomenon, but I wanted more about the actual use of the language.

Then fate answered this question in the most unusual way.

A few days after my search, I went to RWA in NYC. Thanks to my dear friend Diana Belchase, I found the information through one of the best sources in the world: Best-selling author Eloisa James (also known as Mary Bly, a tenured professor of English Literature at Fordham University). While her answer is too long and profound for this post, one day soon I’ll write a blog post about it. Her answer was fascinating and funny and beautiful.


Question 2: What is the best way to teach a smaller woman to fight a large, combat-trained man?

Answer: I know, I know. The question is silly since the best answer is Run. Away. Now.

But since my heroine can’t do that (and won’t have a weapon when she needs one) and the hero is desperate to teach her how to defend herself, I spent seven hours on the internet reading about how to fight and watching YouTube videos. That helped with “write blocking” both the hero/heroine training scene and the inevitable fight scene with the villain. Except I still didn’t know how it felt to be in a fight. I needed real people perspectives.

So I interviewed my neighbor who is a DEA agent (although he was kind, I could tell he didn’t want to talk about it). Then I asked my DH who’d once been a soldier and is always a wonderful source of information about anything male. But since his experience in the army was different from my hero’s, his information was helpful but not what I required. What I needed was a female perspective and I didn’t know a single woman who’d ever been in a serious fight with a much larger man (which is a really good thing!).

That’s when I found the writing teacher Tiffany Lawson Inman who taught a class about how actors choreograph fights and what emotions they must bring to the stage. Although I had to leave the class early, the information about writing emotion during a fight scene was spot-on. If Tiffany ever offers it again, you’ll know because I’ll be shouting with joy from the tiny corner office in my kitchen. (I recommend ALL of Tiffany’s classes. She’s a great teacher!)


Miss Courtney Lenaburg

Question 3: What kind of illegal anti-seizure drugs are out there and how would one of my characters find them?

Answer: All I can say is Thank God for my best friend Mary Lenaburg because there is no way I was looking this one up on the internet unless I was at some anonymous internet cafe wearing a wig and sunglasses.

Unfortunately, this answer came from a woman who dealt with this issue in real life. Some of my readers know about Mary’s daughter Courtney who suffered from an unknown seizure disorder her entire life. Because of Miss Courtney’s severe condition, she was allowed to take an anti-seizure drug imported from Canada but not approved in the U.S.

One day I took Mary to Barnes and Noble for coffee and a chat. We were there for over six hours, and she was so generous with her information. We spent two hours talking about the drug itself (how it’s taken, side effects, why it’s illegal in the U.S. etc), then the next four hours theorizing how a character in a book (not a real person!) would try to get the drug if they weren’t approved to take it. Although it was a sad topic, we had a wonderful time brainstorming all the ways a desperate character might go about obtaining this drug.


Miss Courtney Lenaburg

Side note: Miss Courtney passed away ago in December 2014. While we all mourned this sweet girl’s passing, her mother bravely blogged about Courtney’s life and the joy she shared with others. Mary is now a published author who writes and speaks on the dignity of life and death. She is working on two memoirs about her family’s experience. If you have the time, and a ton of tissues, I urge you to visit Mary’s site at You will not regret the time you spend immersed in Her Story. I promise!

In keeping with the spirit of this blog today, two of my 2012 GH Firebird sisters have new releases which required time in the RRH.


Kristen Ethridge’s new Love Inspired inspirational romance The Doctor’s Unexpected Family.


Dr. Pete Shipley is on a mission to save lives and he’s ready to move to another corner of the world where his skills are needed. City Councilwoman Angela Ruiz is a single parent fighting to save her hometown after Hurricane Hope tears through Port Provident, leaving destruction across the community she has sworn to serve. Together, they team up to found The Grace Space, a Christian-based community gathering spot in the heart of Angela’s district, where residents can get food, household goods, and basic medical care while Port Provident rebuilds after the storm.

When Pete’s appointment to an international medical mission comes, will the doctor follow his lifelong dream and leave Port Provident, The Grace Space, and Angela and her daughter—or will he stay with the family he didn’t expect to love and realize he can change the world without leaving home?

Hurricane Hope: One storm changes Port Provident forever…and for good.

5173qQ-9q0L._UY250_Natalie Meg Evan’s second book The Milliner’s Secret is a heart-wrenching love story set in wartime Paris.

London,1937. A talented young woman travels to Paris with a stranger. The promise of an exciting career as a milliner beckons, but she is about to fall in love with the enemy…

Londoner Cora Masson has reinvented herself as Coralie de Lirac, fabricating an aristocratic background to launch herself as a fashionable milliner. When the Nazis invade, the influence of a high-ranking lover, Dietrich, saves her business. But while Coralie retains her position as designer to a style-hungry elite, Paris is approaching its darkest hour.

Faced with the cruel reality of war and love, Coralie must make a difficult choice – protect herself or find the courage to fight for her friends, her freedom and everything she believes in.

Now I’d love to know what questions have taken you down the RRH!

Thank your for spending the day with us. Below is a link of my Golden Heart sisters who are participating in today’s blog party. Hope to see you next month!

Historical romance writers –  Wendy LaCapra | Sweet and Inspirational writers –  Kristen Ethridge | Novels with Romantic Elements – Jean Willett – Natalie Meg Evans | Romantic Suspense – Carol Post – Sharon Wray | Paranormal writers – Kay Hudson – Pamela Kopfler | Contemporary romance writers –  Kat Cantrell  – Priscilla Kissinger 


Writer Wednesday List

All photographs courtesy of Sharon Wray and Mary Lenaburg.

Meet the 2015 Golden Heart RS Finalists!

Sharon Wray:

Today on Kiss and Thrill, my GH sister and debut author Sarah Andre is highlighting all of the 2015 Golden Heart Romantic Suspense finalists.

Originally posted on Kiss and Thrill:

Many romance writers are busily packing bulging suitcases for next week’s Romance Writers of America national conference in New York City. So what better time to get you psyched for the RWA Awards Night, next Saturday, July 25th. WHY? Because this year RWA is streaming the event LIVE (click the word that night to be linked immediately, or go to!) Now you too can be a part of that magical night of glitz, glam and stunning ball gowns! And one of these remarkable writers will walk up to the podium (in front of 2,500 fellow writers) and accept the coveted 2015 Golden Heart for Romantic Suspense! Let’s meet these lucky women:



DECEPTION ISLAND (to be published in mid-2016 by HQN Books!)

In DECEPTION ISLAND, a rogue French Foreign Legion officer and
a Californian conwoman become unlikely allies in a deadly battle
against 21st century pirates and slave traders, in the steamy jungles and azure waters…

View original 1,393 more words

The Best and Most Beautiful Things

It was neither the best day, nor the most beautiful. But no amount of rain could dampen my mood.

I sat across from a writing friend I’d known for years and drank my iced tea. (A little sweet for this girl from New Jersey who now lives in Virginia, but I’ve adapted.) Despite the drenching, we’d met for lunch at my favorite cafe. She’d just received another stellar review, I’d just received the GH call announcing my double final, so we were celebrating.

We’d even planned on splitting dessert. A huge double chocolate brownie with ice cream.

“So,” my friend said with a self-satisfied half-smile. “How does it feel to have eight Golden Heart finals in six years and still not be published?”



I choked on my tea and my heart skipped around, searching for a rhythm somewhere between shock, anger, and ripping out her hair.

Finally I responded with a weak, “What’s wrong with eight Golden Hearts?”

Great. Now I was on the defensive. Not a familiar place for this particular Jersey girl. So I added, “I’m proud of them.”

“You have eight Golden Hearts and you’re not published yet. You’re not even self-published.” She might as well as added the word loser as a stand-alone emphasis sentence.

I didn’t understand.  She was my friend. We were supposed to support each other on our journeys, regardless of how long it took to reach our goals. She’d published her first manuscript almost immediately after finishing it and had a bright publishing future. I’d been truly happy for her.

And now I was under attack.

To read more, please join me today at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood blog or click here to continue reading.  Continue reading

Locked, Loaded, & Lying with Debut Author Sarah Andre

Sarah Andre

Sarah Andre and I have been close friends (some would call us twins) and Golden Heart sisters for a long time, and it’s a friendship I treasure. So I am not exaggerating when I say I am so excited and proud to introduce Sarah and her debut romantic suspense novel Locked, Loaded, & Lying.

And check out Brenda Novak’s cover quote! “An impressive debut! This book has everything readers crave: believable, enduring  characters, an intriguing conflict, and plenty of heart. Don’t miss Locked, Loaded, & Lying.”

LockedAndLoadedFinal cover

Click Cover to Buy

L3 (as I always think of it) is a blockbuster story intertwined with a beautiful romance and a fast-paced plot. And I can’t wait for you all to read it so we can talk about her hunky hero Lock Roane. (The heroine Jordan is lovely too, but Lock is hot, hot, hot!)

But since we have to wait to dish about Lock (another blog post), here is the trailer and blurb:

He might be innocent. Or he might be very, very guilty…

Olympic skier Lock Roane was on top of the world: smashing Alpine records, collecting medals, and basking in both the love of a nation and his beautiful heiress girlfriend. It all comes crashing down after Lock discovers his girlfriend had an affair—then awakens from a drunken bender covered in her blood. Given his history of violent blackouts, it’s not a big leap for him to believe he did kill her.

On the eve of his murder trial he saves the life of a car accident victim, not knowing she’s his biggest media nemesis. And when Jordan Sinclair regains consciousness, she’ll lie through her teeth to keep it that way.

Jordan is out of options and out of time…

To satisfy her blackmailer, she needs the inside scoop (and its tabloid cash reward) on Lock Roane. An attraction to the arrogant athlete was not part of the plan. Neither is trying to find out what really happened that night.

Now Jordan risks everything—including her life—to help Lock. But the more they discover clues pointing to someone else with a motive, the more Lock is also unraveling all the lies Jordan’s fed him. Her betrayal leaves him with two option: take his chances at his murder trial or forgive the woman who mesmerized him from the moment he saved her life.

Photo of sensual kissing young couple

SW: There are no words that express how much I love this story and how happy I am for you. But I’d love to know — What kind of research did you do for this story? 

SA: The BARE minimum! Hate it. All I want is to write my story the way it unfolds in my head and not stop to authenticate details. But boy, did I learn a valuable lesson when Brenda Novak generously gave me editorial feedback. She asked if a tertiary character would be able to get a Sports Illustrated magazine in prison. It had never occurred to me to check! They have libraries, prisoners get mail…I was kind of annoyed she would want me to research such a minor detail. Well, this story had been through 5 FULL rewrites by then (5 plots, 5 different killers, 5 different ways the victim died…) and the guy in the Tutweiler Penitentiary had always gotten that magazine. Grumbling under my breath, I looked up Tutweiler Penitentiary in AL (which I’d randomly chosen 7 years ago by Google maps: ‘prisons in AL.’) I was SHOCKED to find out…it’s a women’s prison. Consider me spanked. Lesson learned.

To read more, please join us today at Kiss and Thrill or click here to read more.  Continue reading