February 29, 2012

Researching Snow Melts in Spring

Continuing on with my endeavor to offer you a few Behind the Scene moments from Snow Melts in Spring, I wanted to share some more research for this story. 


Researching Football and Old Houses


My hero, Gil McCray, is an NFL quarterback, so I needed to know something about football.  I must admit to you that I am not a huge football fan, nor do I know a lot about the game. But much of that changed as I delved deeper into my research. 


I began with a visit to our local library, where I checked out an armload of books--mostly from the children's section, as they are full of pictures, are easy to read, and are chock-full of valuable information. Fortunately, we were in the midst of football season when I was working on this part of my research, so I also watched a lot of games on television--much to the disdain of my three daughters, but which greatly pleased my hubby. 


So, I read, I watched, and I asked my football-loving friends and family hundreds of questions--all so I could write two or three scenes with authenticity! I also bought a football so I could hold it in my hands and pretend to be "Gil." An author has to get into the character's head, after all. 


Another fun aspect of research came with discovering the "setting" for the McCray Ranch.
On one of my many road trips into the Flint Hills, my husband and I stayed at the Clover Cliff Ranch, a Bed and Breakfast owned by Jim Donahue. Unfortunately, this place has since changed owners and is now closed--which makes me very sad.  


But no matter, the Clover Cliff became the basis for John McCray's Lightning M Ranch. Built in 1860, near Elmdale, KS, this charming home became my characters' home--with just a few changes. The Donahues were very helpful, answering many questions I had about ranch life in the Flint Hills, and allowing us to roam the house and pastures.


At the back of this house is a small stone cabin where the original owner lived while building the main home for his family. This cabin became the basis for Mattie's cabin when her home burns down in Diamond Falls. Small details such as the renovated wood stove that Mattie cooked on, or the table and rocker in her room were actual items in the original cabin. 


Research such as this never ends, but taking the time to do this for your stories might mean the difference between someone loving your book or tossing it against the wall because it wasn't accurate. Sure, you'll never please everyone, but by doing the necessary groundwork, you'll at least know you did everything within your means to bring accuracy to the story. Hopefully, your readers will thank you for it.


Next time, I'll offer a one-on-one interview with our lady veterinarian, Mattie Evans. I hope you'll enjoy it! 
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