Friday, February 23, 2018

Research Sources

Good Research Tips 
Gathering from Several Sources

Remember, good research is gathered from primary and secondary resources, and occasional other means, tertiary and so forth, points of origin. See this post.

Keep in mind that all resources are biased in some way and are faulty in some way (double check everything possible). Aim for the nearest to the original source of information possible (cite the source and the retrieval date).


When weaving your research into your fictional account, go gently. Yes, you spend fourteen hours searching for that perfect quote, that one fact about a disease, the interview with the inventor, the way the engine works that will shape your story…but be careful about dumping all that precious energetic verbiage on an unsuspecting reader who honestly doesn’t care. Consider yourself richer for the knowledge and hope that one reader will be impressed enough to look up the information for herself.

For my latest novel, Centrifugal Force, three important pieces of information had to come together from very disparate sources to make the story work. A stolen piece of antique jewelry handed off for protection by Jewish Germans during World War II in Germany, a genetic disease, and German everything—history, contemporary (2011) politics and world affairs, scenic background information, timetables and airports, as well as some language.

Free Golden ring
Jewelry—not just antique, but a unique piece of antiquity—was central to my story. Collectors who loaned items to museums and for other purposes had to come up with a plan to safeguard their valuables when they knew the Nazis would show no mercy. Why did I choose this particular era and type of jewelry? I visited a museum in which unique gold from long-lost cultures was on display. Because I was entranced, I chose to do further research. This museum where I witnessed original items was my primary source of information. These pieces existed. Their history, then, I took for my own. I wanted something invaluable and unique enough to be identifiable and irreplaceable.

As in all good story technique, the question of what type of conflict and how far-reaching or universal the effects attracts a wider audience. For example, more people will be affected by the collapse of the European Union than by a local beautification committee or corrupt youth athletic organization. These local tragedies make for interesting experiences but bespeak a different level of reader.

The question of how durable or effective your character’s goal, then, is always, what will happen if the character doesn’t get what he or she is after? What is your main protagonist willing to do or sacrifice in order to reach the goal?

In Centrifugal Force, the male protagonist, Gervas Friedemann, is desperate to find and return a piece of jewelry his family protected since World War II. After the war, the owners did not return, so Gervas’s mother decided to enjoy the jewelry given for safekeeping by her Jewish neighbors and gave it to her sons. Decades later, when a person claiming to be a descendent of the neighbors and rightful heir of the missing valuables steps forward, Gervas must find a ring he’d allowed to slip out of his hands. The descendant is using blackmail for a larger purpose on Gervas’s family, who are prominent in the German government.
Free No Camera Sign
Now, I was not allowed to take photographs in the museum, a temporary display of gold artifacts at the National Archeological Museum in Athens some years back, and I didn’t buy any kind of souvenir about the collection. You have to trust that I saw the pieces and I used what I learned for a crucial aspect of my story. I am now an unreliable witness until my claim can be verified. To back up my story, we can go to the internet link directly to the museum, but it is somewhat faulty and has numerous links that say “under construction.” It also only has a few of the past temporary exhibits listed, and few pictures. The fact of whether the display was held at a particular museum is not all that important except to my general character if I choose to share the story of what motivated me to write Centrifugal Force. The fact of whether such jewelry exists might tempt more cerebral readers to do some research. And here we can the secondary resources of more photographs, Etruscan history, and history of jewelry. It is secondary information because I am relying on the interpretation of facts from the compiler of those facts and reinterpreting what I learned for my story.

These are a few of the links I used to piece together the history and look of the jewelry. While I studied a great deal about the history of jewelry, I settled on this type because it was identifiable through testing, and because it was in a museum catalog now, could conceivably be missed and labeled stolen by Nazis immediately post-WWII—no end of trouble for Gervas’s family.

For the history of the Etruscan people, this link (one of many, most were from major universities) was helpful:
For the history of the jewelry, these links were helpful:
For museum photographs of the collection, this link was helpful:

When gathering information from sources, always question the integrity of the site and its compiler. National sites, such as those sponsored by governments or well vetted large organizations are in general more trustworthy than individual sites unless that person is a recognized and accepted expert in his or her field.

Next month in part three of Good Research Technique I’ll share how I integrated research on a rare genetic disease into the story. The four part of Good Research Technique I’ll show you how I melded in the German aspects, both in America and Berlin and other areas.

clipart is free for use from

Friday, February 16, 2018

Regency Romance by Susan Baganz

Lord Phillip's Folly (Black Diamond)

Lord Phillip’s Folly
Susan M Baganz

Christian Regency
November 2017
Pelican Ventures

Buy on Amazon

Ebook $5.99

About the Book:
No good deed goes unpunished. Lord Phillip Westcombe is a younger son and sufficiently independent. He has no need upset his tidy life with the messiness of love, but when he comes to the rescue of the lovely Lady Elizabeth Follett, and the two are found in a compromising position, his life takes an unexpected turn. Barely knowing each other, they are forced to wed. Embarking on a new life they must learn to trust God as they face an evil which threatens their lives and the security of the British Empire. Will the minions of the Black Diamond--the bounder who owns the soul of Elizabeth's father--succeed in their evil plans? Will Phillip and Elizabeth's new love and faith survive the test that awaits them? Or will they all fall to the Black Diamond?

My Review:
The undercurrents of Regency England are fraught with a plot to aid the enemy, and forces of evil influence the vulnerable. As the second son of an earl, Phillip’s older brother has the title and privileges thereof all wrapped up. Phillip will not inherit a title or much responsibility and earns a reputation as a reckless young buck in Regency England. When he does inherit a small country estate and turns his life around, his parents don’t believe he could change and set their hearts and minds to bear him from a distance. When he makes another reckless decision during his sister’s coming out ball and rescues a fair damsel in distress, he further inherits a boatload of trouble.

I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of plots with its twists of creepiness. A young lord who turns his life around takes responsibility for a young lady who’s been victimized for most of her life. As devastating as Elizabeth’s life has been, she is in possession of a fine spirit and courage to beg rescue from a handsome stranger. I would think a woman who’s been through the terror hinted at might be more leery of strange men and wifely duties, but this young couple’s growing faith and mutual love for each other was clearly portrayed.

Sir Phillip’s Folly is another fine addition to the wily Black Diamond series. Characters intertwine and add to each other’s stories, but each book stands as a story on its own. Recommended for those who enjoy inspirational Regency romances. Told in multiple viewpoints with flair and drama and good period accuracy.

About the Author:
Susan M. Baganz chases after three Hobbits and is a native of Wisconsin. She is an Acquisitions Editor with Pelican Ventures LLC specializing in bringing great romance novels and novellas to publication. Susan writes adventurous historical and contemporary romances with a biblical world-view. Website:

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Sci Fi Soap Opera MM Perry

The 13: Mission's End Book One

Mission's End series, book 1: The 13
buy books 1 & 2 $6.99
c. April 2017

Buy on Amazon

About the Book
After an epic 700 year journey, the 13 ships of the colonial fleet are nearing their new home. One of them isn't going to make it.

While everyone around her celebrates the end of their generations-long mission, Naomi frets. She knows a disturbing secret few are privy to. One of the ships in the fleet has gone dark. No one knows why.

Mike is an obedient soldier, but if his commanders knew the doubts he was harboring, he'd be the next one spaced. When he accompanies Naomi to the fleet's silent ship, his worst fears are confirmed. Naomi's life is in danger and he's the only one who can save her.

As they uncover the mystery of the unresponsive ship, they soon realize there's only one way they'll make it to Mission's End. One ship must fall. Mike and Naomi will do whatever it takes to make sure that ship isn't theirs.

My Review
Well thought-out science fiction soap opera, ala Future Shock, The Giver, and many other sagas of humanity in search of a new home. We don’t know why these people are sent off or what happened to Earth, but the fact that some 10-15,000 humans on thirteen generational ships know Earth and its customs makes for good connections without the author having to teach us too many new and strange things.

Perry has created a cast of memorable and well-fleshed characters. From floor waxers to different class engineers to genetically enhanced caretakers, societal structure is strict protocol on the ships. How else are thousands of people going to hold together for a 700-year journey?

But the truth of the matter is…not very well. One ship, the Magellan, the ship of this tale and its main characters, has maintained a very happy but restricted standard of living to keep its infertile placeholder humans pleasantly occupied during these last years before landing on a chosen planet. Everything during these many generations has been pre-programmed, from expected death and repopulation rate, to food, oxygen, medical needs, work and play, education and nurture. Redundant society has been programmed into three levels which don’t interact: command, general population, and military. All three are necessary for the survival and establishment of a new planet-bound colony. But things don’t go as merrily on other ships, which experience catastrophic accidents and/or mutinies.

Things really aren’t what they seem, especially when two ships join forces. I found the story exciting and page-turning. I love science fiction and appreciate enough detail to make a journey believable without getting stranded in too much tech talk. I did wonder at why so many people were necessary to “live” during the many, many generations it took to travel to the new world, when their real job was to build the new world and care for and nurture the first generation of fertile embryos when they reached mission’s end. The author chose to head-hop throughout which led to some confusion upon occasion about who was talking, though most of the story is told through a female engineer, Naomi Tesla. I thought her society was interesting, especially when seen through the eyes of others. It’s a lengthy saga, and you’ll want chunks of time to spend in Perry’s world when you pick up this book. I had to get the second one too.

About the Author

An image posted by the author.M.M. Perry has published ten books. By day, she is an expert cat and dog wrangler, a nacho connoisseur, and writer of fantasy, science fiction and horror. By night… she does the same things. She is hard at work editing her next novel. She’s equally busy teaching her pug to sing along to the Muppets. She is known for saying, “No task involving a pug is impossible, just highly improbable.”

Read more about M.M. Perry at

Friday, February 2, 2018

New Young Adult from Susan Miura

Healer by Susan Miura
Young Adult Christian paranormal
Releasing January 31, 2018
330 pp
Print $16.99
Ebook a42.99

Buy on Amazon US
Publisher, Vinspire Publishing

Read my review below.

About the Book:
Hovering just below the surface of Shilo Giannelli’s average existence lays an amazing spiritual power. Late one night, her world erupts with the revelation that, like her great-grandmother, she has The Gift. But the power to heal isn’t something she can share with the soccer team, her genius little sister, or her boyfriend, Kenji. Definitely not Kenji.

Deep beneath Misty Morning’s tough fa├žade is a lifetime of abandonment, foster homes and broken dreams. When her two-year-old son is abused by her boyfriend, her fragile world shatters…until Shilo prays for Tyler, and he is healed, leaving Misty grateful but incredibly curious.
Shilo can’t give Misty the answers she needs; she only knows she has a God-given destiny, and despite facing strained relationships, impossible decisions, and the threat of being hounded day and night for her abilities, she will fulfill it.

The journey Misty and Shilo take together unites them as friends but invites danger into their lives. And it will take a miracle for these unlikely friends to elude a gang bent on revenge, keep The Gift a secret, trust God in extraordinary circumstances, and hold on to the people they love.

Susan, what do you love about this book?
The growth in the characters, the unlikely friendship that blooms between Shilo and Misty, the romance between Shilo and Kenji, the relationship between Shilo and her little sister, and Shilo’s determination to use the amazing gift God gave her despite the challenges and heartache inherent in doing so. 

Introduce us to your quirkiest character.
That would be Julia, Shilo’s little sister. She’s a genius and vegetarian who loves astronomy and geology. She does not have an athletic bone in her body, unlike Shilo. In short, she’s everything Shilo isn’t, and even though she drives Shilo crazy, they have a very close bond. Julia provides a little comic relief from time to time.
~I agree--I loved her, too!

Share two things you learned either about the era/genre or about publishing while writing this book.
Regarding the genre, you really have to make yourself go back in time and remember the thoughts and feelings you had as a teen, while keeping the setting and social scene current. As for publishing, the actual writing part is only half of what it takes to be a published author. At least, it feels that way to me. Marketing makes up the rest. It would be great to just write and not promote, but that would be a career killer.

What are you working on now?
I’m working on Healer Book 2, though I don’t know yet if that’s definitely happening.  I’m also writing my first young adult sci/fi and trying to get a contract for a women’s fiction manuscript that has always been special to me. It’s about a woman who accidentally kills her best friend’s five-year-old daughter, so it starts out with a pretty hard tug on the reader’s heart.

How do you overcome your biggest challenge to publication?

Prayer and walking is my way of overcoming any challenge. I’m also blessed with a great support system of family and friends. If I’m having a tough time with something, I take it to Jesus first, usually while I’m walking by the lake. I figure, if he can make a way for sinners to get into Heaven, he can help resolve my little challenges. Then I move on to people with skin. 

My review:
A young lady on the verge of adulthood is thrust into a lifestyle of secrets at a vulnerable time. Just when she can see an inviting future filled with college, music, faith, and especially a wonderful, almost too-good-to-be-true boyfriend, Kenji, Shilo learns of a fearsome and awe-inspiring family secret that’s been passed down through the generations. Under dire warning from her mother, Shilo must never, ever tell anyone. But it’s a secret Shilo can’t hide.

Sixteen, ready for the best summer of her life, Shilo experiences her second use of a God-given Gift when she accidentally heals a child. She learns early on, though, that the Gift cannot be taken lightly or for granted. Despite her mother’s warnings of becoming a media frenzy or even delusional with power, Shilo is put in an uncompromising position when her boyfriend’s life is at stake. Under the influence of enormous family stress, Shilo has pushed Kenji away, something that’s tearing her apart. Their reunion and subsequent revelations may not result in all that she or her family wish, but the words and actions cannot be undone.

Miura’s story is a nicely shaped and paced young adult story that’s well defined. The real angst of teenagers and tweens is lovingly created with a cast of characters that will leave a mark on the reader. Told through multiple first-person viewpoints, Shilo’s appeal as a young lady in love, mature, yet vulnerable, is a great story to share with young people. This is a lengthy book for young adult, so although I recommend for seventh grade and up, younger readers should be good readers. Younger readers should have parental supervision regarding some mature situations (teenage pregnancy, abuse, drug running, some violence, and serious injury).

The theme of obedience running through the story, speaking to trust, conscience, responsibility, obedience to authority figures such as teachers and pastor, parents, and especially to faith in God and acting on that faith, is wonderfully illustrated.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Month Long Multi Book Giveaway for February

Want to find a new writer, learn what novels some of your favorite authors are reading, or find new book reviewer and blogger recommendations?

 to participate in this new launch beginning in February. All genres are included whether it’s novels from debuting authors to award-winning/bestselling authors with multiple books and/or series. The best part -- it's all free for readers to enter, as authors are generously donating copies of their books each month to help find new fans and build up their reading communities. Be part of this wonderful new group right now! I’m excited to participate in this month’s giveaway and can’t wait to share with you all that will be offered in the coming months. You never know which surprising authors might just show up on the list this year!