READER FRIDAY: Care to share your favorite research links?

1.) What kind of research do you do on your books? (Please share some of your favorite resource links.)

2.) How long do you spend researching before you begin writing a book?

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About Jordan Dane

Bestselling, critically-acclaimed author Jordan Dane’s gritty thrillers are ripped from the headlines with vivid settings, intrigue, and dark humor. Publishers Weekly compared her intense novels to Lisa Jackson, Lisa Gardner, and Tami Hoag, naming her debut novel NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM as Best Books of 2008. She is the author of young-adult novels written for Harlequin Teen, the Sweet Justice thriller series for HarperCollins., and the Ryker Townsend FBI psychic profiler series, Mercer's War vigilante novellas, and the upcoming Trinity LeDoux bounty hunter novels set in New Orleans. Jordan shares her Texas residence with two lucky rescue dogs. To keep up with new releases & exclusive giveaways, click HERE

21 thoughts on “READER FRIDAY: Care to share your favorite research links?

  1. I write fiction and generally about things I’ve experienced or would like to. Most of my “research” is limited to moving from my dedicated writing computer to my business computer, popping on line for a few minutes, finding what I need and heading back to the story.

    Each time I come across a new valuable resource, at the end of the day I add it to the Writer Resources page on my website. (Many KZ bloggers’ sites are listed there, BTW.)

    In case anyone might find it useful, that URL is

  2. 1. I like to read a book or two on the topic in order to get fully immersed. For example, I plan to read Wasp Farm to learn about the little flying critters.
    2. I only spend as much time as I have scheduled. This is kinda true in all areas of my life. If I have 10 minutes to get ready for a date, I’ll take 10 minutes. If I have an hour to get ready for a date, I’ll take a whole hour (and somehow emerge not one bit more dolled up).

    • Thanks, Joe. Every time I picture you, I see you at sunset drinking a glass of wine on the pier of your beautiful waterfront home. Cheers.

  3. I still belong to CRIMESCENEWRITER at yahoo groups, hosted by retired CSI, Wally Lind. It’s free to join & any member can post questions on crime fiction research. Many members are former FBI, law enforcement,,doctors, etc.

    I also have crime author Dr. Doug P. Lyle’s Forensics for Dummys in my library of resources. He breaks things down for writers. Very helpful.

  4. My main series–for which I’m still waiting for my publisher to schedule the first publication–is about a girl-next-door All American cutie who confronts the paranormal in various ways. She’s physically tiny, a Christian girl who struggles with her Marine culture and mouth. But no doubt she was a proud U.S. Marine military police officer who came home to help find one of her best friend’s son. It’s not a WHO involved in the disappearance. It’s a WHAT.

    For ideas, I go to Be careful if you do. Some of the information is frightening.

    In writing the series, I have also had to do research on the difference between the Mandarin dialects spoken in the different cities and counties in China. I’ve studied how a native Chinese speaker struggles with learning to speak the American English. I’ve had to study some on Chinese lore and folk beliefs. And, I’ve learned quite a bit about the modern traditional Chinese symphony orchestra.

    As to the latter, my favorite opening is, “On the day the dagus and tanggus arrived from new Taipei, little five-year-old Angel Davis disappeared while walking ahead of her Daddy on the Daniel Boone Memorial Trail north of Chattanooga, quite a ways east of Knoxville. Lisa Trent found out about Angel late that night. Everyone loves Angel, a sweet Downs child whose favorite song is Jesus Loves Me.”

    It’s a fun series, but the consequences of any failure of Lisa Trent can cause disaster in so many families and lives.

  5. My books are Cold War historical novels. Careful research is needed to get small details right. I also need to make sure that certain technical details are available in unclassified open source materials. Fortunately, there are a number of East European websites that provide such information.
    I usually start with Wikipedia for a brief overview on places and events. It can also be a source for follow up links. The next step is Google search, the right keywords are important. A good source of tidbits are veteran’s forums and websites.
    Most of the locations are places I have visited, but I use Google Earth to get an on the ground view of other locations I am writing about. This is a supplement to my personal map collection from the 1970’s.
    Since my stories take place on actual dates, I research the weather and moon phases on that particular day, if relevant to the scene. Another good source is an online collection of airline schedules from that period. When my characters fly commercial they are on a real flight at the correct departure and arrival times.
    Wikipedia is also a good initial resource for information about guns, weapons, aircraft, and foreign vehicles. Make sure the car they are riding in was available at the time of the story. I used a YouTube video to write about the start-up procedures for a Soviet An-2 aircraft.
    I do research before and during the writing phase. Many times a piece of research will take me in a new direction or add a new element to the story. This is my favorite thing about writing. It is a great learning experience.
    As mentioned in yesterday’s post, Googling names can be important. I had a character name that matched a real person in a very small and identifiable group. I killed him off in the story, but changed it after finding out.

    • Thanks for your insight, RG. Historical books take loads of research. I just finished an historical section of my book set in Victorian London during the time the Ripper walked the streets of White Chapel. It’s vital to understand how actual history affected the people, recreate the world on the ground, get dialogue correct. I used online sources but had to branch out into historical non-fiction books on the period & culture & food, clothing etc. I also bought several books on Jack the Ripper. It felt daunting at first but picking the right snippets of facts to weave into the story worked. I didn’t want to slow the pace by overloading the reader with my research. I layered in details to give authenticity but did it carefully. In the end, it was a lot of work & judgment, but do-able. Thanks for sharing your experience & tips.

    • I appreciate your information and insight. I have been asked to write a spec screenplay based on a Soviet-bloc character in these Cold War years. There are two problems with me going ahead with the assignment: 1.) it’s spec; 2.) there is no American victory at all in the story. Writing it would be like being asked to write a screenplay for the Celts who survived the Roman victory by 4,000 Roman Legionnaires over Boudica’s 160,000 to 200,000 Celtic warriors.

      But if I can come to an agreement with the producers, I will use your ideas as resources.

      • I have a writer friend who writes a series on a Russian ‘good guy’ spy. He may still be in the process of a script or be finished with it. James Huston Turner. He was a spy courier into Russia during the cold war & a Russian man (similar to his protag) saved his life. It inspired his series.

        I can see why you would want a balanced approach to the script. The best stories have compelling conflict like between two mortal enemies from different countries who are fighting for personal reasons (protecting their families, for example). The viewer or reader are pulling for both men but someone has to lose. It opens broader discussions over our humanity.

        Your objection could turn this project into something amazing. Good luck.

  6. It’s interesting that you have a post on research today. This morning something told me to go back over some research I did a couple of years ago for my WIP. Yes, I’ve been working on this debut novel longer than I’d like to admit. It brought everything together for me. Where to begin, which has been a problem. The answer was right there all along! I don’t really have any links. I am writing a historical mystery based in my old hometown, a small community in Nevada. The only research I’ve been able to find is a non-fiction book on the area and some newspaper articles from the time period involved. I think I am going to be able to start my outline in the morning. So excited! 🙂

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