Getting Lost in the Reseach

By Janice McCaffrey

Last year during a tour of France my daughter, Bonnie, and I made a quick stop in Marseille; a jumping-off point to Monaco. Our focus was on Princess Grace Kelly; the palace and a drive up the famous, winding, cliff-hugging road.

Our train from Paris arrived in Marseille late afternoon. We picked up a rental car and headed to our Airbnb lodging in the old part of the city. In a blink of an eye we found ourselves on narrow streets filled with cars racing around curves, merging into already clogged streets, with drivers who had seemingly no regard for others.  Very loud motor cycles whipped in and out around moving vehicles, driving not in the lanes, but on the lines that divide them. And Bonnie kept up the pace.

marseille traffic

 

 

 

Yikes!! I held on tight!

 

 

Flying past ancient-looking pastel stone buildings, I caught a glimpse of a Moroccan man standing in front of a shop laughing with a couple of other men.

The GPS system directed us to public parking close to the apartment and we walked from there. After climbing 107 steps of a circular staircase with broken tiles under foot, yes, with our luggage, we settled into the apartment which was definitely worth the climb. Then we walked down the steps (much easier than climbing up) to the old port soaking up the area’s history and atmosphere.

We were greeted by bright sunshine, clear blue skies with a warm breeze off the sparkling Mediterranean Sea’s varied hues of blues and greens. My kind of perfect day.

marseille w bonnie

                           I fell in love.                          And the story began.

Back home committing my imagination to paper I needed the name of the Moroccan man’s attire. Yea for Google!! After finding info and photos of the jabador more Googling got me a suitable name for him, place of birth, and back story.

 I have to admit that I can get lost in the research. I have spent hours on internet searches and studying the results. And Google maps is indispensable for settings and determining distances. Their street views are wonderful and were invaluable as I orchestrated a chase scene around Marseille.

Besides giving me many enjoyable hours investigating and learning, one thing always leads to another. The history of Morocco pointed the way to the Phoenician peoples where their history gave me the item of antiquity the story would center around.

An article entitled Research for Fiction Writing in Cornell Research by Alexander Chang explains how J. Robert Lennon, author of See You in Paradise (Greywolf, 2014) and teacher of English at Cornell University uses the internet searches to find details for his stories. Here’s a quote:

In doing research as a fiction writer, Lennon embraces a term his wife once called [him and his friends] them: professional dilettantes. “I like that as a description for writers,” he says. “I love going to parties with writers—they always have super shallow knowledge of a zillion different things.”

I had to Google the definition, but it made me laugh out loud!

                                  diləˈtänt,diləˈtäntē/ noun 1. a person who cultivates 

                                  an area of interest without real commitment or knowledge.

That’s me! Due to my love of research I know a multitude of unrelated facts. Like:

Did you know the Phoenicians were the first known people to establish an alphabet? They were industrious and successful merchants who needed a method of keeping their accounts. This was back between 1500 and 1050 B.C. They devised 22 letters, only consonants, to represent the sound of their language. Over time the Greeks and Romans adjusted the original symbols which eventually gave us our 26 letters that represent the sound of our language. This chart shows the changes.

alphabet changes

                                                                       

 

 

And now . . .  we’re hooked on phonics!

 

 

 

These people also invented ink and paper. And when they bound pages together for the first time in the city of Bylos its name led to two of our modern-day words—book and bible.

I can tell you the history of sweet potatoes. Indigenous of South America Columbus took them back to Spain and Portugal. From there Portuguese sailors introduced them to Nigeria where their main crop was another tuber they called yams (not to be confused with our yams, theirs is white and round and belongs to a different plant family). Eventually the slave trade ships brought seedlings to North Carolina which is now our main growing area for the delicious tuber.

Oh, yes. And then there’s Queen Anne’s nephew Edward Hyde Lord Cornbury who held the office of Governor in both New York and New Jersey from 1701-1708. To open the New Jersey General Assembly he dressed as a woman of fashion. His rational was that since he represented a woman, Queen Anne, he should look like one.

lord cornbury

lord cornbury explained

And if you ever want to know the particulars of the early Pennsylvania-German’s Groundhog traditions, just ask.

For some writers research may be a drudgery to avoid at all costs, but for me it opens the world of ideas, events, characters, and settings.

I love getting lost in the research!

 

May Book News

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LESLIE BUDEWITZ: I’m on the road today — or in the air, heading home from the annual Malice Domestic Mystery Convention held in Bethesda, MD, a fan convention celebrating the traditional mystery, and home of the Agatha Awards. It’s a fun time, attending panel discussions and interviews, participating in the panel on food in mystery, and visiting with readers and authors from across the continent. Of course, afterwards, my “To Be Read” pile will reach mountainous proportions!

On May 12, I’ll be participating in the Whitefish Library Association’s annual Dorothy M. Johnson Book Festival, honoring the enduring legacy of one of Montana’s best-known and best-loved authors. Join the fun Sat May 12, 6-9 pm, at the O’Shaughnessy Center in Whitefish. Authors from around the Flathead will be signing books and visiting with readers. I’d love to see you there.

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Marie Martin: I am also attending the Dorthy M Johnson Book Festival.  I will present a work shop titled marrying Characters and Settings at the Whitefish Library from 1-3 in the afternoon. In the evening, I’ll be at the O’Shaughnessy Center with my books. It will be a nice time to visit with readers and friends. Hope to see you there.

 

February Book News

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LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Ah, winter. We love it, but right about now, most of us wouldn’t mind a bit of a thaw! At least we are blessed with many sunny days here in Northwestern Montana — and many good friends and books!

I’ll be talking about writing, publishing, and using my hometown as a setting at the Bigfork Rotary ClButter Off Dead (final)ub at noon, Wed Feb 8, at the United Methodist Church in Bigfork. And on Saturday Feb 11, at 1:00, I’ll be chatting about cozy mysteries — the lighter side — at the Mineral County Library in Superior.
The first grown-up mysteries many of us read were those of the great Agatha Christie. I’ll be talking about her continued influence on mystery writers at the opening of the Bigfork Community Players’ production of “Murder on the Nile,” based on her book, Death on the Nile, on Saturday, Feb 18, in the Bigfork Playhouse, the setting of my third Food Lovers’ Village Mystery, Butter Off Dead. Showtimes and dates on the Players’ website.

Read — it’s the best way to light a fire in your brain!

 

 

Marie F Martin enjoyed her time at Flowers by Hansen.  Here are a few photos taken by Lucinda of Crown Photograpy so you can see how nicely the authors were treated and what the public enjoyed at the First Night Event.

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Marie showing a customer her books.

Marie and Shirley Rovik with their books

Marie and Shirley Rovik with their books

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Betty Kuffel buying a book

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Special Olympics were there.

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Sparrows Nest was there

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Marie’s Books

 

 

January, 2017, Book News

2017

Montana Women Writers wish you all a Happy New Year

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: I just learned a new phrase, liminal time, meaning time on a threshold, or time between phases of life. Perfect for the move from one year to the next, don’t you think?

I’m just moving from one project to the next myself, writing “the end” to the first — and very rough! — draft of a psychological suspense novel which will now rest for a few months while I write the 2018 Food Lovers’ Village mystery, set at Christmas time in the village of Jewel Bay. And I will say it’s nice to start a book set in the current season — a lot less taxing on the imagination, and easier to get in the mood! I’ll be home most of the winter, with a short trip mid January to speak to members of the Orange County (California) Chapter of Romance Writers of America on common mistakes writers make about the law.

 

flowers-by-hansen-pink-roses

Marie F Martin will be at Flowers by Hanson’s Taste and See Event on Friday, January 6th, 5:00 PM to 8 Pm. Hansen’s is located at 128 Main, Kalispell, MT.
Sparrows Nest, Special Olympics. Homes for Veterans, Sudden Rush Espresso in Somers, Table Tree Cherry Juice and Flathead Lake Cheese will all have tables.
Marie and three other local authors, Shirley Rorvik, Sara Weaver and Nancy Moser will be signing their books.
It will be a fun time of meeting and greeting and drawings. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to local non-profits.

Marie hopes to see you there.

www.mariefmartin.com  book-covers-2

 

 

 

 

A new edition of Modern Birth Control is now available as an e-book and modern-birth-control-kindle-coverpaperback on Amazon. The 44-page booklet is a quick reference containing essential information for both men and women. You’ll find basic biological facts, OTC and prescription contraceptive options, along with information on sexually transmitted diseases and sexual assault.

E-book: http://tinyurl.com/ModernBC-Kindle

Your Heart – Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease in Women, Men and Children is now available at a reduced price on Amazon in your-heart-book-cover-final-1-ed1both Kindle and paperback. This reviews the science behind coronary artery disease, prevention and treatment for the number one cause of death in both men and women. Learn about the Mediterranean 5/2 diet, a perfect way to lose a few pounds after the holidays and improve your heart health in 2017.

http://tinyurl.com/2017hearthealthy

Best wishes for a Happy New Year.

bettykuffel.com

 

November Book News

cornicopia

What are you thankful for this year?

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This year has had so many blessings it is hard to think of just one. My family is going to grow by two more great grandchildren in the month of November. I still think of myself as a kid, so it is rather amazing I have nine great grand-kids and counting. Another thing is some family has moved back to the valley.  I know whose cooking turkey this year. I love to feed kids. Lastly I have to mention that Don’t Mess With Mrs. Sedgewick is finally released on Amazon and Create-space. It will be on a countdown sale beginning November 6th. Several days at $.99 and then $1.99 for a couple and then back to its usual $2.99. Early reports is that readers are loving it. I can now breathe.

Happy Thanksgiving, Marie F Martin

Lise McClendon:  Whew! What a year 2016 has been — so far! But we are women, we will survive… 🙋🏻  In book news I am happy to announce a giveaway of my very first novel, a mystery set in Missoula and on the Flathead Indian Reservation: The Bluejay Shaman. Yes, completely free! I love to hear from new readers so please share, respond, get social.

bluejay-instafreebieThis novel was inspired by a Salish man I met years ago. He wanted to tell some tales of his experiences with New Age groups — and some UM professors — who came to the Reservation to, well, go native. He conducted sweats for them and had a few opinions as well. I wrote up his stories then, with his permission, used them as a jumping off point for The Bluejay Shaman. The book introduces my first protagonist, Alix Thorssen, a Scandinavian Montanan and Jackson Hole art dealer. I went on to write three more novels about Alix. And lived in Jackson Hole myself later… life does imitate art.

Getting an e-book is easy over at InstaFreebie. Pick your favorite format, sign up, and you’re done. Here’s the link: THE BLUEJAY SHAMAN   •  Enjoy, and happy holidays