Monday, July 16, 2012

Writing What you Know....and What you Don't Know

It's another VLOGGING day - because I don't want to just write about what I know, I want to SHOW you! Watch out! It's 5 short vlogs to take you into MY WORLD. What I know :-)
Let's start with family.

It gets pretty crazy around here, but I'm so thankful God's made my mind in such a way that I can still write in the midst of chaos. Times like the scene above are usually short, because I work during the week, so writing time happens at night or on weekends. It's important for me to be in the middle of what the kids are doing, so I come down to join the chaos - and they don't seem to mind too much either :-)

Next, I write about small towns.

Telling stories is at the heart of my Appalachian culture. Whether I'm writing historical or contemporary (or spec), I love using my heritage as paint for the page of my stories. Here's a very small peek into one place of inspiration.

And last - but certainly not least, is a view from the mountains. My family have been in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina for generations - now we live in the mountains of Tennessee. The rich heritage and culture (as well as the humor) play a big part in my novels.

When I don't know more info about what I'm writing, there are several places I go.

1. The internet - Youtube is a favorite of mine. I watched 7 calf births before I wrote my first calf birthing scene in my recent contemp romance.

2. Great sources - A friend of mine (a cattle farmer) also gave me important tips - even read through the scene to make sure it had the right info. My mom is a nurse, my dad is a cop, they provide lots of wonderful detailed info. My dad helped me design a gun for my spec fiction so that my heroine could shoot a special kind of explosives, he also told me how long it would take someone to drown in a crashed car in the tributary of a dam. Mom helps with my medical info.

Recently I interviewed a Resort Manager for a mountain lake to get information for a future novel. If you can, go to the source, or next best thing.

3. Historical Research & Family History - Because a lot of my stories are from family history, I draw from information in history as well as old photographs. With only photos, I'd truly be left in a black and white world, but I also have a rich oral history passed down through generations, so the pictures become much more colorful.

So - how do you write what you know?
What do you do to help write what you don't know?


Lindsay Harrel said...

Cute! I definitely ask friends who know about the subject when I'm unsure. For example, I have a scene where a character goes into a coma. I had to ask a friend who is a nurse whether what I was saying was feasible and made sense to a medical professional.

Unknown said...

Fun vlogs, Pepper! Love it.

In my first WIP, one of the POVs is a farmer. Growing up in Iowa, I was pretty sure I had a basic knowledge of farming know-how and jargon. But then I had the daughter of a farmer read a few'm apparently not a very good Iowa-girl. :)

Angie Dicken said...

You and I are cut from the same fabric, Pepper! Most of my stories are near and dear because they reflect my family's past or culture. I am also tremendously inspired by landscape.
I am a big Wikipedia, website cruiser when it comes to questions. I will also email a person who might be in charge of the archives of a town I am researching. Have learned great things that way. Also, have been looking at newspaper archives. Just the ads alone have given me a sense of what it was like in 1910. The internet is such a wonderful tool!

Mary Vee Writer said...

I needed to know exactly what train announcers say for the last boarding call. I went to You Tube and listened to announcements from ten different stations from around the world. None of them sounded like what airports say. Now my story is realistic. Although I didn't go to the real place, I heard it and saw a video, not from a movie, but from the real situation.
These are great ideas, Pepper. Thanks for today's post.

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Pepper,

Loved your vlogs! It's so fun to hear your voice and feel like I'm right there with you!

I never thought of YouTube as a research tool! How cool! I'll have to check out some horse births there, since I have one in my latest wip. Thanks for the tip!

Oh, Seekerville is having a mini beach vacation today (ocean sounds and all!) Good warm up for me as we get ready to head to New Jersey next week for a week at the ocean!


Cindy R. Wilson said...

It's so pretty where you live, Pepper! I love it. I am not a big fan of research so I definitely like to write what I know. Either for settings or occupations. But I still have to Google a lot. Otherwise, at least for settings, I make it up! :)

April said...

Pepper-I loved your vlog. Your town is so beautiful, I can see why you are so inspired. Great advice on using YouTube as a research tool!
Thank you,

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Pepper, I'm all about the Appalachian fiction! I live in West Virginia (BTW--did you lose power last week, too?). Anyway, much as I despise research, it's so important (esp. for historical fiction, which I write). I hope to write a contemp. fiction series someday that's set in WV, though--should take less research since I live here! Grin.

Sandra Stiles said...

I love research. My current WIP is set in East Berlin. I did my first bit of research on the Internet, hooked up with some museums and people who lived in East Berlin. I run things by them to make sure my info is correct. If my setting is someplace close enough to visit or resembles someplace close my husband and I take day trips or weekend trips. He photographs for me and I record or take notes. He then gives suggestions to help out.

Ruth Douthitt said...

Very nice! I am tempted to try vlogging soon. Yours is great! I am researching for a book set in WWII. I had the chance to walk through Auschwitz last changing.

I know I won't be able to conduct that type of research for every book, but it was great to be able to walk where my character will walk.

I do use the internet the most for my research. Then books.

Casey said...

I love the vlogs! You live in such a gorgeous place. :-)

I have never thought of using youtube more, like you suggested. I'm going to get on there more. Great idea!

Pepper said...

Friends are VITAL! My best friend is a Christian counselor. FABULOUS resource!!

Pepper said...

LOL, Melissa.
How funny! I had that happen with one of my books too. Not a farmer, but a nurse. My mom is a nurse, so I thought I had the scene DOWN...not so much :-)

Pepper said...

No surprise about that :-) Great minds....

Pepper said...

Love it, Mary!
Youtube helps support what I learn in books. I need the visual example as well as the theoretical/practical knowlege

Pepper said...

Ooo, I'll have to head over to SEekerville. I've been so late to their wonderful parties, lately

Pepper said...

Thanks - I do love it! And it certainly helps with the research :-)

Pepper said...

Thanks, April. It is a pretty town. The place where I grew up was much more rural. It was a 20-30 minute drive anywhere with a greater population than 100 :-) (excluding cows, of course)

Pepper said...

From one mountain girl to another - our mountains are full of wonderful stories, aren't they? And secrets
And quirky characters....

Pepper said...

WOW - what a wonderful setting. You have quite the partner in writing too. What a blessing!

Pepper said...

Oh wow, Ruth - I can't even imagine visiting there. I've read so much about it during research for a historical novel once - but I had to stop writing the novel because the research was so painful. I hope to try it again some day. I can only imagine it was life changing. Certainly perspective changing

Pepper said...

It's a GREAT place to visit...hint, hint

Ava Walker Jenkins said...

Sherrinda K. once said that I reminded her of you. Now that I've seen your vlogs, I think it is a wonderful compliment. Like you, I even sport the naturally curly look when the Texas humidity won't cooperate.
Though I live in Texas, I set my stories in the Rocky mountains and aspire to live there someday.
I watched 5 You Tube videos of live foal births, before describing
a scene in my first novel. Currently I have some legal questions I've turned over to a certified accountant (my brother-in law). Apparently, my questions must be boggling his mind as well, or else I'd have heard back by now.
Loved getting to know you better through your vlogs. Thanks.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

BTW love you in the gorgeous turquoise too!!

Pepper said...

Oooh, Ava - I like you already :-)

Pepper said...

I can't wait to get to meet you in person someday.
And give you a giant hug.

You have been such an encouragement!

Mary Connealy said...

I love the videos, Pepper. Write what you know, for sure. :)
That's what I do....except with gunfire of course.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

You are so cute and I love the look into your home life and surrounding areas. Your kids look like so much fun!