After decades of scribbling away, first on paper, then on typewriter, finally on keyboard, I began to wonder why I put up with the tedium of writing and rewriting? Riches and fame both elude me, creative expression would be more easily and quickly achieved through community theatre or water colors.
I recently returned to my current manuscript, a novel set in a blizzard and involving illegal energy development, neither of which do I know much about, except as a victim. I hopped on the Internet, entered some terms, and was ushered into a colorful world crammed with words, photos, images, quotes, links to a multitude of additional sites. A tremor of excitement ran up my spine, and I flexed my fingers in anticipation.
Take my newest novel, Never Retreat. The flash flood that threatens the protagonists didn’t materialize from a void. I haunted the records of the Colorado History Center, enthralled by reading transcripts from survivors of the Big Thompson Flood and sobbing at the thought of the victims’ woes. YouTube enabled me to see details of actual floods, the power of waters to eat through banks and crush cars. An amalgam of information somehow organized itself into scenes in my book.
Even apparently unrelated material can become the impetus behind a spurt of research. Childhood memory of playing cowboys appears from a void, and I decide to inject it into the manuscript. This gives me an excuse for several days of exploration into how to create a lariat and rope an animal or, in the case of my book, a fence post.
Since two of the book’s characters are Latinas, of course I have to include Spanish words and phrases. I learn their use in various geographic locations and among diverse groups of immigrants. I check and double-check spelling and grammar. I practice shouting the words out loud.
Never Retreat presented me with ample opportunities to cram loads of data into my brain:
a recipe for vegetarian burritos, the types of plants found in the Rocky Mountains, crowd-funding, even a nostalgic reminiscence about the one time I tried karaoke. As long as I’m presenting myself as a writer, there’s no limit to the time I can spend reading, talking to people, opening myself to experiences and travel, trying on ideas, debating and questioning others.
If I weren’t a writer, could I get away with the long hours I devote to research? No. I have to have the rationale of my work to justify my obsession. Otherwise my husband might wonder when I’m going to unpack the dozens of kids’ clothes I dragged with us on our last move, which my children outgrew eons ago. My friends could issue invitations to lunch or movies or worthwhile political demonstrations and expect responses. Perhaps I’d exercise more and lose those pesky 15 pounds that have weighed me down for years.
In my case, writing seems to have less to do with skills and creativity than with curiosity and snoopiness. Fine with me. It provides me with a veneer of respectability while enabling me to feed my cravings for miscellaneous knowledge of any and all sorts.***
NEVER RETREAT FACT SHEET
BLURB: A feisty single mom clashes with an ex-military, macho corporate star at a business retreat in the wild Colorado mountains, where only one can win a huge prize. But when a massive flood imperils their love and survival, they learn the meaning of true partnership.
Years ago, Ramona (‘Raye”) Soto faced harsh reality when a roving con man knocked her up. Now at thirty-something she’s concentrating on her career in a major telecommunications firm and funding college for her teenaged son. Enter Desmond Emmett—a fast talker and smooth operator. New to the office, the ex-serviceman possesses every negative quality for a guy Raye should avoid. Thrown together at a corporate retreat in the wilderness, the reluctant duo struggles to complete management’s extreme mental and physical tests for a huge reward. But only one can win the prize, and Des needs the money to underwrite medical treatments for his adored younger sister.
See-sawing between attraction and antagonism, the mismatched couple, Raye and Des, face their biggest challenge: learning the meaning of true partnership. When a massive flash flood sweeps down the rocky canyon and threatens their love and survival, they must put aside their difference to rescue their colleagues—and their future as a couple.
WRITING: This is the new fiction for you: unafraid to debate contemporary concerns. . . pulls no punches. . .provides a fresh look at age-old issues. This is your kind of writing if you think. . .People are smarter than any phone. . .Feminism is just starting to come alive. . .You’ll always take a human over the most advanced app. . . .You can laugh at yourself. . . Women use four-letter words, including l-o-v-e.
AUTHOR BIO: Bonnie McCune has been writing since age ten, when she submitted a poem about rain rushing down the gutter to the Saturday Evening Post (it was immediately rejected). This interest facilitated her career in nonprofits doing public and community relations and marketing. She’s worked for libraries, directed a small arts organization, and managed Denver's beautification program.
Simultaneously, she’s been a freelance writer with publications in local, regional, and specialty publications for news and features. Her civic involvement includes grass-roots organizations, political campaigns, writers' and arts' groups, and children's literacy. For years, she entered recipe contests and was a finalist once to the Pillsbury Bake Off. A special love is live theater. Had she been nine inches taller and thirty pounds lighter, she might have been an actress.
Her true passion is fiction, and her pieces have won several awards. Never Retreat is her third novel and her fifth book of fiction. For reasons unknown (an unacknowledged optimism?), she believes one person can make a difference in this world. Visit her at www.BonnieMcCune.com, Bonnie@BonnieMcCune.com, twitter.com/bonniemccune, facebook.com/authorBonnieMcCune, www.linkedin.com/in/BonnieMcCune.
PUBLICATION INFO: PUBLISHING MARCH 15, 2018, 978-1-77223-350-6 Kindle ebook, 978-1-77223-351-3 Trade paperback, 240 pages. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079SY632Z, http://getBook.at/NeverRetreat or. Imajin Books, www.imajinbooks.com. Ebook and paperback.
ADVANCE PRAISE: “A breathtaking page-turner that will leave you exhausted but wanting more!” —Corinne Joy Brown, award-winning author of Hidden Star; “Likable, relatable characters…a real treat!” —Cindi Myers, author of The View from Here; “Intriguing…engaging…A great vacation read for sure!” —Meg Benjamin, author of the Brewing Love Trilogy; “A compelling story about a hard-working single mom who faces adversity head-on, learns from her mistakes, and perseveres.” —Kim McMahill, author of Marked in Mexico; “Few novels operate on such different levels, moving their characters to challenge not just each other, but their own not just each other, but their own perceptions. . .McCune provides just the right blend of comic relief, interpersonal encounters, and outside environment changes to make her story a powerful blend.” --Midwest Book Review***
I love doing research for my stories as well! I've learned so many fun things - from freeze-branding cattle to how to hide a tracker on a Harley to corporate espionage.
How about you? Do you like doing research? What's something fun you've learned?