Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Location, location, location

I hope SLIGHTLY IRREGULAR is living on your shelves or eReader by now.  Even better if you’ve already read it!

So how did I go about researching the book?  I approached Finley the same way I’ve approached every other book.

First, I scout locations.  I go to the place, in this instance downtown West Palm and Palm Beach.  Here’s my admission about Palm Beach.  The first time I walked Worth Avenue I kept seeing these small water spigots dripping into oval pools.  My first thought was what a great way to cool off your feet on a hot Florida day.  Nope – doggie fountains.  More than half the women I saw shopping had decorator dogs sticking out of their purses or on blinged out leashes.  They also had staff.  It isn’t uncommon for a woman to have a man – usually large – walking a few paces behind them, carrying their packages.  It’s a very different world.  I don’t know about you, but I schlep my own purchases.

Getting the physical locations is important.  Nothing will get you hate mail faster than having a character go north on a one-way road that only goes north.  I also had to get a sense of the smells, the traffic patterns, the architecture, etc.  I take tons of photos so I don’t forget things.  I also have a general idea of what kinds of places I need to see – churches, cemeteries, possible dumpsites, etc.

The second thing I do is research the professions.  Having worked in a law firm, which was pretty easy and didn’t really require much.  But Finley’s friends were another story.  Becky is a lawyer, so that was a no brainer.  Olivia (Liv) is a party planner and Jane is an investment counselor.  So I employed my favorite research technique.  I asked around until I found people with those professions and did personal interviews.  This is tricky because you have to be prepared with the right questions.  “Describe your average day.”  “Would X be plausible?”  You want to find out if your plot element would work, not if that person has actually done it before.  So you give them the scenario and see what, if anything, they have to add.

The last thing I do before starting the book is gather my pictures.  I’m a visual learner, so I take actor/model photographs off the internet so I have a physical image of each character.  Soap opera sites are great for this since they have a wide variety of ages and genders, so I can usually find a green-eyed blonde, or whatever physical type I’m looking for.  I transfer those photos into Write Way Pro, the program I use to organize my character’s bios, etc.

When I’m writing the book, I’m all about Google.  I want an answer and I want it fast.  Yes, I could read a book about guns but it’s so much easier to just Google ‘guns that shoot under water’ than to read the history of weapons trying to find what I need.  I do try to crosscheck all my facts with a second source.  I also have some bookmarked sites I rely on heavily.  One is; I dress Finley and her friends from there and a few other sites.  I’m not exactly a shopper and I don’t know half of the designers, but I can find the right outfit and shoes in a matter of minutes.

So . . . Remember the giveaway . . . the first person to answer this question gets an autographed copy of Slightly Irregular and a Paradise pen (or a coffee mug if you prefer).

What kind of cars does Finley drive?  Make, Model, Color

Be the first one with the answer and I’ll send you your gift.


  1. Rhonda - for a short time a LONG time ago, I worked just a block off Worth Avenue. It's in it's own different and bizarre little world, isn't it??? I remember those little fountains and also thought they were a great little place to dip my toes. Funny that after "season", the shops closed and the streets were rolled in for the summer. I guess that's one of the many reasons why I love this series of your so much! Can't wait to read it!

  2. Thanks Pat. Yep, those little fountains are tricky!