About Me

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A writer by predilection, an aunt by blessing and a friend by choice, Shelley has spent many years journaling before sitting down to draft her first novel. She has a B.A. in English discourse and is currently working on her third romantic-suspense, the title of which will be announced soon pending publication. Shelley is a member of the Romance Writers of America as well as her RWA state chapter of the Maryland Romance Writers.
"I love story-telling. It's a way to live an experience through the eyes of a character." - Shelley N. Greene

Friday, April 20, 2012


            Research is a double-edged sword for some.   For me, it’s another one of those, “I know a little about it, but not everything” kind of topics.

            This being the digital age, I understand that most research is done through the internet.  

            And when preparing to write a story, a writer has to perform a lot of research on an array of different topics.  What your character does for a living, their psychology and even the car they drive can all be reasons to hit the search engines.

            One personal research experience I have is with my second romantic-suspense. The plot centered around a team of FBI agents, which resulted in more research than I ever imagined.  Sarah and I had quite a few long conversations about everything from what firearms an agent would carry to whether or not my injured hero could handle the kick-back when shooting one-handedly.  

           And aside from all the physical spy-guy stuff, there were a several girly queries too.  The HEA for one of my heroines involved a hunk of a diamond engagement ring.  When looking up information on Harry Winston, I discovered that the company rarely works with stones that are smaller than three carats.  So in order for the facts and the fiction to come together and still be feasible (a FBI agent with a Harry Winston-sized salary), I had to do a lot of research. 

Pretty detailed stuff, right?  Lol. 


            And Sarah’s real-life knowledge helped me a lot with that story. I've still never met anyone else who knows the dynamics of shooting a gun, blinding by engagement ring, a fireman's carry, biting by a toddler and Judo.  LOL!  She’s just THAT good.

            And if you happen to have a certain area of expertise—include it in your story. I guarantee readers will notice the mindful detail. 

            Personally, I feel like I still have much to learn about formal research—I would love to discuss it with other authors and compare techniques.  

Over the years I’ve heard many authors talk about how they’ve conducted interviews to gather data.  When your character is a police officer or an FBI agent, a chef or a PR rep, it’s good to perform that kind of thorough research about their job.  And while you’re at the interview table, don’t be afraid to ask about the inside facets of that career. 

That's one perk I love about being a writer--you get the inside scoop on so many areas of life.  

The only caveat to keep in mind is that not all information regarding certain positions (i.e. federal law enforcement) can be made public, so it’s good to also note what is open to fictionalization and what is not.  There are workshops offered on going “Inside the FBI for Writers,” and I imagine that’s a good place to start when writing a Fed-based book.  

And here I’ll beseech everyone to teach me—in what ways have you conducted writing research?  Any fun stories to share?  Any systems or methods that you find helpful?  How do you go about setting up an research interview? 

            Thanks for stopping by and please come back tomorrow—
            S is for SUBTEXT.

            Goodnight!   :0)


  1. I'd love to set up a research interview! I may have to do that for my contemporary romance... *mental wheels turning* As for research I've done myself, it's ranged from asking people, "Hey, do you know anything about XYZ?" to watching *cough* internet videos *cough*, to spending a huge amount of time on Google and Wikipedia.

    1. Wouldn't that be cool? Exactly, I don't know what the proper way to approach someone to ask. Do you send a query letter? Just call them? I don't know. *hehee* I'm with you, my research has always been: Walk up and ask or hunt it down on the net. ;0)

  2. Most of mine so far has been at the library (I still do it a lot at the library, because the internet isn't always good for every topic). I've done research by going to the museum -- sometimes I run across exhibits that have something pertinent to the book. In one case, I went to a science museum and realized one of my facts in a scene was wrong!

    Research interview: I haven't done one, but the very first thing to do before you set one up is make sure you've already done as much research on the topic as possible. In spite of what people say, there are stupid questions, as in the ones that waste the person's time. I live in DC, and someone on the internet wanted to know what DC was like. She wasted my time which questions she could have easily found out. Her story was set in the 1950s, so she wanted to know what kinds of shows people went to at the Kennedy center, and also info about the Watergate. Neither were built in the 1950s--a fact easily available on line.

    The best thing is to try to focus on things that you can only get from a person's experience. What does it feel like? What does it smell like? What mistakes does Hollywood make? This one's a big one, because so many things get done wrong in movies that they become accepted as fact. This was mentioned a S/F con I was at. Two published writers always call the smell of guns "cordite" and cordite hasn't been used in guns for many years -- but it's been mentioned in Hollywood over and over again ...

  3. Hi Linda,

    Thanks for stopping by. :0)

    That is good advice, thank you. I was thinking that with the gun momentum scenario; a lot of the most current information is on the internet but if you want tried-and-true facts, especially on something universal like physics, a reference book would be the better way to go. And your experience with art exhibit sounds like the best way to get the truth. I love the museums, the lessons that are taught by doing or seeing make an impact and stick with you.

    Excellent point about not wasting anyone's time. When you're lucky and actually get the one-on-one opportunity with an expert, you don't want to use it frivolously. That not only respects the person you're interviewing, but it channels the energy towards the more important questions.

    Wow, I'll have to look for the "cordite" reference in movies now. That's a great point. My father is former military and I see him balk at a lot of the movies that depict missions wrong. In real life you wouldn't split up or act too rashly. The squad acts as a unit, following procedure and working together.

    A list of faux pas would be a cool thing to have, maybe we could open one up and let everyone contribute input. :0)

    Thank you again for all the wonderful feedback!

    I look forward to seeing you around!


  4. Sarah sounds amazing! New follower here. I’m enjoying reading my fellow “A to Z”ers. I look forward to visiting again.


    1. Hi and welcome, Sylvia!

      Thanks for checking out CN, Yes, Sarah is awesome. I'm lucky to have her. Thanks for stopping by and I will check out Writing in Wonderland, it looks good. :0)