Monday, July 6, 2015

Jacqui Jacoby & Research

Please welcome Jacqui Jacoby to the blog today!


Research, the Sauce of the Story

I have a movie I like a lot.  It came out in 2009, a sequel to its predecessor.  But in this movie one of the characters, of Mexican heritage, says while in a fight scene “Tabasco sauce? Who else but us would think up that stuff?”(paraphrase)
Love the director.  Love the actors.  
However, a quick Google search of twenty seconds reveals:

“Tabasco Sauce was first produced in 1868 by Edmund McIlhenny, a Maryland-born former banker who moved to Louisiana around 1840.”**

Love the movie still, but that line always annoys me.  And someone should have checked it.
Research is what we do to give depth to the books we are writing.  We may know the hero’s hair is blond and his eyes are brown, but it takes more to make him come alive and bounce off the page.
He needs hobbies, he needs a job.  Somewhere along the line before he hit page one, he was born, giving him two parents, maybe a sibling.  Did he get his love Golden Retrievers from that his family had?  
How about, how does he like his coffee?
I always need to know how my characters like their coffee. I think it gives them personality.  The tough hero? Black?  Or three sugars and cream? Very telling.
In 1986 I was at UCLA using The Young Library catalog card system to check out every fact I had to check.  That library had a lot floors and a dime for every copy at one of the strategically placed photocopy machines.  
Now we have Google and I hear a browser history of where we go on our research trips. In writing DEAD MEN PLAY THE GAME, I was all over the board.  I had a large cast of characters with varying skills and interests.  One day I literally had to find a wedding dress for the heroine,  the Italian pronunciation of “My Beautiful”, learn how to make how to make a Sapphire Martini, build a detonator to explode the gas line and find the best method used to  cut a man’s throat--is it right to left if you come up behind or left to right?
(I’ve often wondered what my NSA guy is thinking as he reads my latest list of searches)
Print what you find online and put it in a note book under the proper heading.  Photocopy what you get out of books.  It you watch it, and I do use movies to get the feel of something (i.e. Young Guns for a western) take notes of what stands out.  Write everything down that is important to your novel.  Make sure you have a method to retrieve the information you locate because I can promise you, when you get to page 300 in the book after five months of work, you might not remember how that gun operated.
Fiction is our imagination coming to life on the page.  Though the story is made up, a lot of what we put into won’t be.  Look hard for that one piece of fact that will blend into the worlds we build … and stay away from Tabasco Sauce.

** June 23, 2015, from Sauce
Award-winning author, Jacqui Jacoby lives and writes in the beauty of Northern Arizona. She is the owner of Body Count Productions, Inc, which keeps her career moving. Currently adjusting to being an empty nester with her first grandchild to draw her pictures, Jacqui is a self-defense hobbyist. Having studied martial arts for numerous years, she retired in 2006 from the sport, yet still brings the strength she learned from the discipline to her characters. She is a working writer, whose career includes writing books, teaching online and live workshops and penning short nonfiction.

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With a Vengeance


Dead Men Play The Game
Magic Man

Dead Men Seal the Deal

Dead Men Feel the Heat

Dead Men Heal Slowly
DEAD MEN PLAY THE GAME: For a hundred years Ian Stuart has fought against the monster controlling his life, living as a human among humans with his four friends: Travis, Jason, Quinn and Evan. He wanted his personal loneliness to go away. Detective Ashley Barrow is working the worst murder case in Davenport, Oregon's history. She wants a drink, she wants some quiet and she walks in to sit on the stool in Ian Stuart’s pub.
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Enter this Goodreads giveaway to win copies of Dead Men Play The Game!
Thanks Jacqui! Research is SO important because of those little details that irk. I've used my Twitter buddies multiple times to check facts on regional details too (especially vocabulary!).
How about you? Any incorrect facts in movies or books that bug you?


  1. Great post, Jacqui! And I hope your writing's coming along well, Jemi.

  2. Maryland? Almost as bad as the picante sauce being made in New York.
    It doesn't take long to look up those facts now and we certainly need to if we want the story to sound authentic.

  3. Google Earth is also great for research. We don't want to put a Taco Bell in the wrong place.

  4. The Blurb made me want to read your book. Great job.

  5. Jacqui, great post. Research adds so much to a story. Wishing you much success.

    Thanks for the introduction, Jemi.

  6. LOL, I was thinking the same thing about Jacqui's search history. It looks really suspicious. But writers have to get it right.
    Susan Says

  7. "(I’ve often wondered what my NSA guy is thinking as he reads my latest list of searches)" I have my own NSA guy, too, LOL. I wonder if they know each other? I loved reading your post. Pleasure meeting you.

    Hi, Jemi!

  8. Hi Jemi! Hello Jacqui!

    Thanks for the great post.

  9. Beth - thanks! Now that summer's here, I'm getting back in the groove :)

    Alex - yes! Fact checking is essential :)

    Diane - that's why I make up my towns!

    Lee - I agree! Sounds awesome :)

    Mason - you're very welcome!

    Susan - makes me wonder if the powers who be keep lists of writers' searches separate from regular people searches :)

    Carol - they probably have a club where they compare our notes!

    Hi Nas! :)

  10. Great post. I'll have to start knowing how my characters like their coffee too.

  11. Sorry I'm late. I'm in a different hemisphere and my sun came up a day later than yours ^,,^

  12. This is so true! I look up anything and everything, no matter how small. I actually find researching fun, most of the time. Thanks, Jacqui and Jemi!

  13. Wow locked me out and it took over an hour to find the error causing the problems. So here I am ... ask away. I know everything there is about every one of my guys from their coffee to the turning to how they like ... um ... well ... spend their free time. LOL But, the book in an erotica. I just like research.

  14. Beth .... thanks for the encouragement. As long as I have to fight for control over my keyboard with some feline, I will be doing great writing.

  15. Akex, yeah. and like that writer/director. He did some of my fav movies. I was surprised they missed that.

  16. L. Diane -- I never thought of Google earth as my cities are usually made up. Well, not the next. I use Hollywood in Magic Man, but all the rest, yeah. Just made them up.

  17. cleemckenzie ... hey thanks!! Sometimes I think it might be harder to write the blurb than the book. I don't know a single writer who whoopies when they have to condense all those words into under 200. The picking of which tells the most is agonizing. But I'm glad you liked it.

  18. Mason--thanks. I learned my research well at UCLA. BUt then, when you're studying Henry VIII, they don't make it easy.

  19. Susan ... I laugh about my search history. At one point I wanted to look through it because I don't remember everywhere I went, but that computer crashed. It was very polite when, but it eventually give out.

  20. Hey Carol. WOnder how they like their coffee. LOL

  21. Natalie -- the coffee thing is actually bigger than most people think. Start watching the people around you and I bet you can figure them out. Keychains, too. A keychain is a very personal thing that we always know where are. Not uncommon to put special things on them. I still carry the one I got in 1987.

  22. Jemi -- thanks for covering for me. My Blogger went down and took several hours of frustrated Google transfers to figure out why. Finally got it.

  23. Jacqui, research is muy importante as readers will call you out. A writer has to research police procedure, guns, certain fields of science, history, and other topics pertaining to their story.

    I love research. That's half the fun of writing.

  24. Jacqui - no worries at all! Glad you were able to outwit the Google! :)

    Natalie - my male MCs always seem to drink it black now that I think about it :)

    Shelley - me too but I tend to get caught up - there's so much to know!

    Stephen - and wormholes! Don't forget those :)

  25. Stephen, I agree with. Hence why my friends think the NSA is aware of my every move, which I think is funny. Yeah, I looked up a detonator. I also looked up a puppy.

  26. Nice to meet you, Jacqui! Love meeting a fellow writer who has the same quirk as me. It drives me nuts when I notice a detail in a film or book used in the wrong way. I mean, it's not the end of the world. It just irritates me and shows that someone obviously didn't feel it was important enough to research and get correct; think the latter bugs me more. Honestly, I really enjoy researching topics and elements I'm thinking of using in a book. One is never too old to learn, right?

  27. Great post, Jacqui! And thanks for the giveaway!

  28. Hi Jacqui, hi Jemi. Good to 'meet' you both again.

  29. Sheri - exactly! It rankles - and always makes me double think on things I'm sure I know! :)

    Eds - :)

    Maria - hi! Hope you're well! :)

  30. The two WIPs I have brewing this summer require more research than my previous novels, so I'm careful fact-checking. Great topic.

  31. SA Larsen:

    The editing on my last book, which I had little control over, was out of my hands. I got my copy, and randomly flipped to a page where this big friggin' typo leapt right off the page at me. I closed the book, figured I accidentally found the only one because there was no way they left others in, right? LOL

  32. Editors at work: Thank you for stopping by and I hope you enjoy the book.

  33. Hi Maria!! Enmail me what you think of the book!! ^,,^

  34. Medeira: Do you fact check as you go or compile? I will be mid sentence and jump to Google to get the info I need and then back. It's seamless and never seems to interfere with me my train of thought.

  35. Awesome post Jemi & Jacqui! Thanks for sharing!

  36. Organised research is the key here. Thanks Jacqui.

  37. So, so true. I always advise writers to have way more background information--in the form of practical research, but also in the form of character outlines--than they'll ever use in their manuscript. After all, isn't any of of us way more complicated than can be shown in a snapshot? And in the age of Google it really is difficult to justify not doing your research.

  38. NRB - :)

    RBH - hi!!

    Denise - so true! I can wander :)

    Ethan - thank goodness for Google!

  39. This was awesome! I think a notebook with my research organized would be so helpful. I have looked up a lot of information while writing, but I have not kept track of it in quite the most efficient way. This is coming at a good time for me, so thanks a million. I think it will save me a lot of time in the future! Best of luck to Jacqui!