Research can take more time than writing a novel. It's all the pre-work an author must do to bring her story to life. While I love writing, sometimes research gets frustrating. I want to make my story accurate so I check many details to make sure it is.
But research can be fun, especially when it involves travel. When I was asked to push back my next book deadline and write a duet novel for next Christmas, I agreed but not without thought. I had just sold three novels to Love Inspired---one completed and two to go---so I wondered if I could manage adding another one to my list of projects. But I hadn't written a Christmas novel in quite a while and had wanted to do one. . .so I said yes.
The problem was they needed a synopsis and information for the cover immediately plus a name for the novel and I didn't have a story yet. Being involved with publishing can be fun.
That night I went to bed and couldn't sleep because my mind was developing a novel for the book. In recent travels to visit a relative in northern Michigan, I'd passed many small towns along Lake Huron, and I thought about creating a new series set in this area. My mind headed for that idea with the Christmas book.
We went there in mid-November and I visited the elementary school where my heroine will find a job, the library (seen in this photo), the Chamber of Commerce, and a popular restaurant. I visited the stores and talked with the owners. One of them who lived in town was very willing to let me call her with questions. That kind of resource is needed for an author. I learned about their tree lighting ceremony and a special event called Christmas In The Village which happens in early February. I visited the park where I climbed the slide (you'll notice that in the first photo) but decided I'd end up in the damp sand if I slid down.
One of the best things I did was drive through the residential areas and take photographs of houses. This helped me create homes for my characters that are typical in a small town. Gathering this kind of information brings the story to life for me. I can picture my characters living their daily lives in this environment. Seeing the setting stimulates story situations that will add interest and meaning to the novel. Research is hard work, but it can be fun. Most of all it helps create a story that readers will love. I hope you enjoy Small Town Christmas to be released next November by Love Inspired.
My next visit with you will be to tell you about A Dad Of His Own, my next LI release, in March, 2011.