Tuesday, May 2, 2017

IWSG - Cool Research

I was happy to see a topic on what to write about at the IWSG site. Have loved this group from the beginning, but I dropped out last year when I found myself fumbling for something to say.
 

So onto the research topic.....first some background. I have been researching and writing nonfiction for quite a few years, most of it free on my blog, but some research was published (or simply paid for) by an educational publisher dating back to around 2005. Working with Greenhaven Press, I was given a single website to access research online. Think of it as a vast online encyclopedia. 

The rest was done in the archives of two university libraries. Personally, I loved getting my hands on archival material and finding dusty primary sources on the shelves. Source pages were then copied and sent to the publisher with my edits, as I was downsizing articles for high school students. It was tedious, but I really enjoyed the process. 

Fast forward to today. Resources are available all over the internet. You can even access scholarly articles using Google Scholar (for a fee of course). For the recent A-Z Challenge, I found books online that opened its pages to the topic I was googling. It was the equivalent of finding my topic in the index of a book at the library, turning to the page, and then using the copy printer. Amazing. The internet has become a worthy online library. You do have to check your facts though. Outlandish claims require outlandish proof if you get my drift.
 

So onto the question: what is the weirdest and coolest thing I've ever had to research? I'm not sure that this qualifies as weird, but the results were pretty cool. I was researching rare jewels online. I had no idea what a large ruby stolen one hundred years ago from Thai royalty might be worth today. But it was important to know, because it's a back story in the novel I'm about to have published. 

I found some great sites estimating value, but the pictures could have been better. I kept searching. Next thing I know, I received in the mail a beautiful folder from New York containing glossy photos of jewels, along with the dealer's business card. I had not requested this, but I must have set off alarms somewhere as a potential buyer. 

If the gems displayed were fake, you could have fooled me. One unnamed jewel looked like a diamond (33 carats) and there was jewelry I'm sure only the 1% wealthy could afford to buy. No prices of course. The 161 carat diamond necklace was gorgeous and one piece (231 carats) had rare white diamonds and emeralds. No rubies though. Another search online confirmed my ruby was indeed rare and costly. The research changed my story to a ruby stolen from a piece of jewelry, which made solving the mystery all the more fun for my characters.

I had saved the folder and pulled it out for this post. When you find something that good, you hang onto the paper. Sometimes the internet isn't enough. Anyway, thought this was kind of cool. Research is one of my favorite things to do, but it does chew up time and can be a detour, so I have to watch not spending too much time. 

Those of you who know me (and haven't heard my news) may have wondered what the heck I've been writing, other than my blog all these years, but I'm proud to say my novel is about to be published with Evernight Teen this July!! The working title is The Shells of Mersing, which could change in the editing process.

I'm both psyched and scared. I wrote somewhere online today that I wish I could clone myself during the review process. I dread it. I guess this is normal, but I'd love to hear how true this has been (or not) for you, and if you have any sage advice. 

What weird or cool thing have 
you researched? 

**Click IWSG to join**
The awesome co-hosts for the May 3 posting of the IWSG will be Nancy Gideon, Tamara Narayan, Liesbet @ Roaming About, Michelle Wallace, and Feather Stone!

20 comments:

  1. I love your jewel story. I wonder how they got your mailing address. An interesting mystery in itself. I've researched some oddball things. A lot of people advise to close your Internet while you're writing, but that would kill my process, because I'm always looking up the tiniest things to make sure I have my facts right. http://www.raimeygallant.com

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    1. You know, I never seriously questioned my online identity till now. How DID they get my address? But as you say, those facts even if tiny are important to check.

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  2. A wonderful story Sharon. it's nots so good when one is lost for a subject, I experienced the same.
    Great post.

    Yvonne.

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    1. Thanks. I admit I am a sucker for lost treasure stories ;)

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  3. How awesome, and scary. You've been stalked by someone online. ;) My research would put me on an FBI watch list, not a jewel dealers. Or at least, the more interesting aspects of it. Who cares about someone researching various aspects of history? But when getting into spy stuff, beware of red flags.

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    1. Eeeh. Stalked? Ha, I had to research FBI stuff too! I think you understand, but research sure is interesting and it helps keep our stories more authenic.

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  4. Congrats on your upcoming book. That's wonderful news.

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    1. Thanks, Tamara! Cannot wait to share my story. I was never more surprised. News came in the midst of the A-Z.

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  5. I kinda miss old-fashioned library research and looking through smelly old books, too. But I admit the internet makes everything WAY easier.

    Congratulations on the book! I'm sure the launch will be fine, it's an exciting time!

    IWSG May

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    1. Thanks! Boy, do I hear you. A recent move put me an hour away from a decent library. I miss wandering the aisles.

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  6. Congratulations on the upcoming book!

    Your research sounded like it worked out wonderfully for your story. Love when that kind of thing happens!

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  7. It did, and thanks for the congrats!

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  8. That sounds like some interesting research. One thing for sure is you never know where your research will take you. Great to meet you on this Wednesday.

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    1. It was definitely interesting. Happy to be here. Have always appreciated this group. Their "support" reputation goes unsaid and I look forward to returning the favor.

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  9. Ha! Did you get that fine gem brochure while you still lived in Pullman/Moscow? We've gotten them a couple of times--I don't recall where they're from--Tiffany's or something. How we ever got on a list like that is beyond us. If they knew our annual income, they wouldn't waste the money to mail us a brochure, that's for sure.

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    1. Ha-ha, well I like my version better. Maybe it was my research that triggered a marketer that our area might be interested in precious gems! A mystery...

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  10. I used to have access to some good resource sites when I was taking classes at University of Phoenix. There was a ton of great stuff I could research. Still there's a lot of free sites if you look long and hard enough.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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  11. So true the availability of sites. It saves time too! And we can do at home. Miss those big libraries though. I even miss the smell!

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  12. Oh, wow, how exciting about Evernight Teen wanting to publish your book! I've heard lots of good things about that publisher. Many congrats!

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  13. Thank you. Happy to hear you have heard good things!!

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