Information, Please: The JustAnswer Experience

When I was finishing up my last novel, Stone’s Ghost, I realized I needed some help. My main character lived in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and owned a Sea-Doo rental shop on the lakeshore near the London Bridge. Part of the story concerned his dealings with a difficult customer who manhandled one of the rented Sea-Doos. As I was writing, I took a wild guess at ways a customer could foul up a Sea-Doo, but I really had no idea. When I got to the editing stage, I knew I needed to check the facts to make sure I was telling a credible story.


I did the usual searching online but after several days and scores of sites, the specific information I needed was not coming up and I realized I had to do a much more targeted approach. I found JustAnswer and decided to give it a try. Continue reading “Information, Please: The JustAnswer Experience”

Author Tools: Google Earth

Yeah, I said Google Earth. For research. What do I know about that? Well, not to brag, but some people may even consider me a bit of an expert on research. Either that, or I completely fooled the staff putting together the Writer’s Guide to 2011 – in which I am quoted numerous times in the chapter titled “Making the Most of Research with Technology.”

But enough about me. Let’s talk some more about me.

I decided, for some reason I cannot explain, that the sequel to Lust for Danger HAD to contain a scene in a skyscraper next to the Danube River in Vienna. Keep in mind, I write faction, so that building had to actually exist. I asked a number of people, and they couldn’t think of one. So, I turned to Google Earth. I scanned along the banks of the Danube until I saw a long shadow: from a skyscraper. Voila!

But that’s not all. Google Earth does SO much more than let you look down from a satellite.

Google Earth
The world is yours with Google Earth.

Google Earth is a free, downloadable product. It does use quite a bit of memory, but if you’re doing locational research, it’s an invaluable tool. I’m no techie, by any means. I don’t get how to use some of the bells and whistles of this program. I have managed, however, to use it to find the perfect sites for fictional near-drownings, black ops assaults, and a really nice place for my characters to get a cup of coffee. Continue reading “Author Tools: Google Earth”

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