Friday, July 08, 2011

Guest Blog: The Dark Side of Research by K.A. Stewart and Giveaway - July 8, 2011

Please welcome K.A. Stewart to The Qwillery.

The Dark Side of Research

Everybody thinks that the great thing about writing fiction is that we can just make things up and it doesn’t matter if it’s real or not. So not true!

In order to make something fantastic truly believable, there must be a few grains of truth in there. The easiest way to suspend disbelief is to base it on something factual. And the easiest way to do that is to do research.

I don’t know a single author that doesn’t do a lot of research. Sometimes, the research is extensive. Historical authors are known for this. It takes a lot of work to make sure that everything in a historical novel is true to the time period. It can be something as small as figuring out just when the high heel was introduced into regular fashion, or something as large as knowing the exact geographical areas were covered by a key historical battle.

Sometimes, you do the research just for one sentence, one tiny factual thing that you want to have correct. Do Glocks have a safety? What is the melting temperature of silver? What plant is known to have magic-neutralizing properties? It may seem insignificant, but for a reader who knows the correct answer to any of those questions, getting it wrong can yank them right out of the story.

The internet makes research a breeze. Anything you can think of, you can type into a search engine and pull up a hundred different links to possible sources. However, there is a dark side of internet research, one that will suck a writer down into a black abyss from which they might never emerge.

And no, I’m not talking about typing that phrase into Google that you think sounds innocent, only to pull up sites that no amount of brain bleach can remedy. No, I’m talking about the hazard of too much research.

With a wealth of knowledge just a mouse click away, it is entirely too easy to become lost wandering the information highway. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to look up one tiny fact for one tiny sentence, only to find myself four hours later with more knowledge of the history of the yo-yo than is healthy and I haven’t written a single word!

Beware the black hole of internet research. You may set out aiming to look up how many bullets a certain magazine holds, but the next thing you know, you’re lost in the realm of low-sodium soup recipes, misspelled cat captions, and vintage clothing knock-offs. Time ceases to have meaning, and you may not realize you’ve forgotten to feed your pets until they start nibbling on your toes.

It is best, when researching, to use the buddy system. Let someone know that you’re going in, and arrange to have them check on you after a pre-determined time period. Often, even putting the research aside for a few moments to answer a Tweet or a text can free you from the hypnotic spell. Resist the urge to have your research buddy accompany you into the internet, as this usually only results in both of you becoming lost. Sadly, two people can become ensnared even easier than one.

If you don’t have a research buddy available, try setting an alarm for yourself, perhaps on your cell phone. Or, order a pizza shortly before you begin. When you have to leave the computer to pay the pizza guy, you stand a better chance of extracting yourself from the research fog.

Research is a fun and fascinating activity, but it should only practiced with all safety precautions taken. By following the few simple suggestions above, we will all live to write another day.

About K.A.'s Books

A Devil in the Details
Jesse James Dawson 1
(ROC, July 6. 2010)
When it comes to demons, always read the find print.

Jesse James Dawson was an ordinary guy (well, an ordinary guy with a black belt in karate) until one day he learned his brother had made a bargain with a demon, Jesse discovered there was only one way to save his brother: put up his own soul as collateral, and fight the demon to the death

Jesse lived to free his brother-and became part of a loose organization of Champions who put their own souls on the line to help those who get in over their heads with demons. But now experienced Champions are losing battles at a much higher rate than usual. Someone has changed the game. And if Jesse can't figure out the new rules, his next battle may be his last...

Amazon : B&N : Book Depository : Borders

A Shot in the Dark
Jesse James Dawson 2
(ROC, July 5, 2011)
Jesse James Dawson's vacation is interrupted by a pack of hell-spawned creatures. To save friends, family and himself, Jesse will have to put his trust in his most dangerous enemy-his personal demon.

Amazon : B&N : Book Depository : Borders

About K.A. Stewart

K.A. Stewart has a BA in English with an emphasis in Literature from William Jewell College. She lives in Missouri with her husband, daughter, one cat, and one small furry demon that thinks it's a cat.

K.A.'s Links:

On Literary Intent
The League of Reluctant Adults (group)


The Giveaway


What:  One commenter will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of A Shot in the Dark (Jesse James Dawson 2) from The Qwillery.

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

Have you ever " become lost wandering the information highway?"

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1) Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2) Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3) Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. In addition please leave a way to contact you.

Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Friday, July 15, 2011. Void where prohibited by law.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*


  1. I don't think I have ever become lost while surfing the internet although Gofgle searches have sometimes led me to some strange places.

    Thanks for the giveaway.

    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

    +1 for comment
    +1 I Follow via GFC

  2. Oh gosh I loose myself often on the net. Getting into an finishing that google reader feed can take hours sometimes when there are extra great link. This book sounds great I cannot wait to check it out. thank you for the hosting and the giveaway.

    +1 comment
    +1 GFC Teril
    terilhack at gmail dot com

  3. But wait.... all who wander are not lost... but I do find myself wandering through posts often and then reading up on author pages I do find some days partially over and the work piled up.
    Looks like an interesting story.

    Thank you for the giveaway.

    kasuranna at yahoo dot com

  4. I've hit more than a few dead ends, but never lost.
    GFC Anne38

  5. I haven't been lost yet, but I have meandered deliberately a tad. edysicecreamlover18ATgmailDOTcom GFC Krystal Larson tweeted!/Icecream1891/status/89382954433908736

  6. I have gotten waylaid before, but I don't think I've gotten completely lost before. I get waylaid almost every time I do a Google search though!

    +1 comment
    +1 GFC follower
    +1 I tweeted:!/jwitt33/status/89393205346435072

    jwitt33 at live dot com Z

  7. Never gotten lost. I usually find whatever I'm looking for rather fast, so no chance... yet.!/Will_Knight3/statuses/89395428214317057

  8. Sure, that's happened to me. Last time, I don't remember what I was originally looking at, but it ended up with me watching a video entitled Best Rap Video Ever By A Southern White Lady Married to a Black Dude. Simply put it was terrible rapping with a Casio beat, with a slideshow of pictures of her wedding and honeymoon. Most of it was about loving her man and God, with a Styx (yes, the band) reference thrown in in the middle.
    I'm a gfc follower.


  9. I am amazed at how many times I have gotten lost in trying to find one simple thing and the next thing I know an hour of my life is gone :) Yes research is truly not for the faint at heart. Thank you for the fun and informative post today, as well as the wonderful giveaway opportunity.
    GFC - Denise Zaky


  10. Oh my goodness, yes! I get sidetracked wayyyy too easily when searching the internet. LOL Thanks for the giveaway!


  11. I get lost on the information highway on a regular basis, usually on the weekend when there's nothing to pull me away except maybe an empty stomach or sudden darkness (at least it seems sudden).

    I just added K.A.'s books to my wish list this week, and I'm looking forward to reading them.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com
    GFC follower

  12. Absolutely, but not in the obvious sense. Being lost while wandering the information highway is as good a place as any. I lose time most of all when exploring the world virtually but learn just as much.

    GFC follower

  13. I have not gotten "lost" either. I do take interesting detours though. :D

  14. I don't know that I have gotten "lost" but I have wandered so much that I forget what I was supposed to be looking for. :)

    This series looks very interesting, I would love to win this book!

    GFC follower

    blog post:



  15. I love following links & getting 'lost'. Invariably I can never find my way back to point A, but that's fine.

    comment +1
    GFC: Mary Preston +1


  16. i haven't got lost while surfing the internet but i do tend to open hundreds of tabs and then keep going in loops from one to another;)

    thanks for the giveaway and for making it international!!

    GFC-Janhvi Jagtap
    justjanhvi at gmail dot com

  17. Yes, I do get lost wandering the information highway sometimes, but I can always find my way back to reality (off the computer).

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

  18. Follower of The Qwillery.

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

  19. Tweeted:

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

  20. I am usually lost on the information highway. :) However, I still have to give directions to my parents. lol

    Great giveaway!
    books (dot) things (at) yahoo (dot) com
    I'm a gfc follower
    twitter follower @BooksThings

  21. I rarely get lost but when I do it's a doozy...
    thanks for the giveaway