Research Life Hands On

Internet Learning

While the Internet provides the virtual world at our fingertips, making it possible to do research for writing projects that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to do, it’s the hands-on research that benefits me the most. The times that get me out of my office and catapults me into the real world of experience. Of course, I suppose one’s primary learning style is largely responsible for how one best retains information. Of the three learning styles, audio, visual, and kinesthetic, my primary is kinesthetic, then visual, then audio. That being said, my audio learning ability has increased tremendously since I’ve been listening to writing books on audible every chance I get.

As for doing research out in the field, traveling provides amazing opportunities to create settings that paint a vivid, real picture in the reader’s mind. Actually seeing the sights and experiencing it with all of the senses, makes it a real part of the writer.

One’s job provides bottomless ideas for story fodder.

Relationships provide ideas for feelings and dialogue.

People watching, whether it be at the mall, at the coffee shop, on the bus, at work, in an elevator, etc.,  provides the opportunity to capture facial expressions, snippets of dialogue, clothing styles, interactions between people, etc.

Participating in volunteer activities and hobbies helps grow characters into well-rounded people to incorporate into a novel/story.

Last weekend I attended the quarterly meeting for a writer’s group I belong to, Sisters in Crime – Colorado. We had a guest speaker, Dr. Laurie Sperry, Associate Professor, Regis University, who discussed the different typologies of stalkers. By the time she was done, we knew the behavioral traits our stalker characters would portray on the page, depending on what type of stalker s/he is. That kind of information is like candy to a group of mystery writers. And how much better it is to be there and taste that candy than to simply look at a picture of it on the Internet!

The place I work has a Citizen’s Academy going on this month. Next week is the class on arson investigations and a presentation from the Coroner’s Office. The following week is a presentation on Crime Scene Analysis. Bonus for a mystery writer!

An organization for which I’m a sponsor, Compassion International, offers an opportunity called The Compassion Experience, where you get to experience another country, another culture, without leaving yours.

There are opportunities literally everywhere to taste life and be a doer rather than sit back and be an observer. Make it a goal to do something every day, starting today.

Seize the Day

Let’s talk – What is your primary learning style? What kind of research do you do for your writing?


Nature’s Voice

On a morning run recently I was running behind a squirrel who had a large plastic wrapper in its mouth. The wrapper blocked his view, so he was running in a zig zag fashion trying to get away, failing at his endeavor. As I got closer, he ditched the wrapper (literally) and bee-lined in a straight line climbing a pole to safety.

On my cool down walk, I got to thinking about the squirrel. He reminded me of how we oftentimes get so caught up in what we’re doing and where we’re trying to go that we can’t see where it is we actually need to go. We take off running helter skelter on a course we’ve designed for ourselves rather than ask Him to guide us. We pick up garbage along the way and it blocks us from seeing and following the One who can get us where we need to go safely. We let the garbage in life prevent us from tasting life’s goodness. Take the following, for instance:

  • We allow the judgements of others to dictate who we are.
  • We compare ourselves to others, blinding ourselves to our unique goodness.
  • We believe we don’t deserve goodness because of what we’ve done in the past. (ie: I’m an alcoholic/addict/thief/liar–or whatever your vice may have been–and have hurt people in the past. I don’t deserve forgiveness.)

When the truth is:

  • We are each and every one unique and equal.
  • Despite the fact we may make poor choices, it doesn’t make us bad people. It makes us human. Humans are fallible.
  • Whether a stay-at-home mom or a high paid executive, you are exactly where you need to be at that very moment in time. Bloom where you’re planted, learn as you grow. And just my humble opinion, stay-at-home mom’s are priceless. :)

At the end of my cool-down walk, nature spoke to me yet again. I passed a pavilion in the park, under from which came swallows diving at me from every angle trying to divert me from my path. Satan’s fiery darts attempt to do the same thing. The question is, are we going to let them? Or are we going to stand firm in our beliefs and values?  Are we going to succumb to those who attempt to thwart our successes and goodness, or are we going to rise above it and prevail?

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.” ~George Washington Carver

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RMFW Conference

This past weekend I attended the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s (RMFW) Conference in Westminster, Colorado. This was my first–but definitely not my last–with this group. I was impressed and blessed from the moment I arrived to the moment I left. The sessions offered were exactly what every writer needs to know in order to grow, not to mention entertaining, the presenters were knowledgeable and relatable, and the camaraderie amazing. I’ve yet to meet a group of people who are more invested in helping one another grow, who so selflessly share their experiences to any and all things writing, and who are successful, whether published or not,  in what we all love to do. Write. I left a rich woman. Rich with knowledge, new friendships, and opportunities.

The scenery from the hotel was an added bonus.

Westin 2015

Westin 2015-2

The only negative? Trying to decide which sessions to attend when there were so many I wanted to be at. As far as I’m aware, cloning isn’t available yet. :)

The sessions I did decide on were:

Homicide for Writers, Not Criminals, by Tracy Brisendine; The Joys, Pitfalls & Techniques of Revision, by Carol Berg; The Juggling Act: Writing for More Than One Publisher, Even Especially if One of Those Publishers is Yourself, by Cindi Myers; Birds of a Feather: Mystery, by Linda Berry; Resistance: What’s Keeping You From Writing, by Mario Acevedo & Aaron Michael Ritchey; All About BookBub, by Cindi Myers; Readers, Reviewers, and Trolls: Rules for Author Engagement in the Age of Social Media, by Colleen Oakes; Elements of the Modern Crime Novel, by Christine Goff; The Business of Writing Fiction Today, by Jeffery Deaver. (Yes, the Jeffery Deaver. For someone as popular as he is, he was kind and approachable.) And when author Desiree Holt spoke, I think she inspired everyone in the room. And there were a lot of people to inspire!

Also, I attended my first ever author reading. Why I waited so long is the million dollar question. If you ever have an opportunity to listen, grab it. You’ll be in for a huge treat! I also pitched to an editor for the first time ever, and I couldn’t have asked for a better person to pitch to for my first time. At a time when anxiety is through the roof, she made the experience not only comfortable, but enjoyable. AND…she’s asked me to submit my full manuscript. :)

And now, after a weekend that fed and filled me as an author, I’m looking forward to taking the time to chew on, digest, and process all I was given, and to use the energy produced by the writer nutrients on both of my WIP’s.

Readers are paramount. I live to write books for them. -Jeffery Deaver

Book Signing a Success

Book Signing

My book signing this past Saturday was better than I had even expected. The highlight, however, was not the books sold, but the 11-year old who visited my table. She loves to write and I could see the light dance in her eyes as she talked about it. I saw myself in that little girl and it brought back so many memories of the countless hours sitting in my room or floating in the boat as it was tied to the dock, creating poetry and ideas that carried me to other worlds.

From the encounter with that little girl, I’ve decided to plan an 8-week class that meets once a week at our local recreation center for kids 7-17, to mentor them and work with them on all things writing. I’m so excited to tie together my love of words and writing and my passion for children to help make a difference.

So after the Colorado Gold Writer’s Conference I’m attending this weekend, followed by a family vacation, my goal is to further develop this plan. My heart is bursting with joy and my head with ideas! :)

Have a great week writing and creating. :)

The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves. -Steven Spielberg


Book Signing


This Saturday, September 5th, 1:00-3:00, I’m scheduled for a book signing at Welcome to the Bookstore. For those in the area, I would love to see you there! For those who aren’t in the area, your positive thoughts and prayers would be immensely appreciated.

I love people, I really do, and I’m always up for good conversation and a fun time, but my comfort zone is in my study behind my computer screen. But that being said, I have to admit the process and planning has been so much fun! And I’m thrilled to be able to help Welcome to the Bookstore by advertising my event. It’s the cutest little bookstore ever that has many similarities to the bookstore from the movie You’ve Got Mail with Meg Ryan.  That bookstore everyone dreams of having in their home town. Well, anyone and everyone who is a romantic at heart and is a book lover, that is.

If you have a chance to visit, in person or online, please do. Also, please like their Facebook page.

Happy reading! :)




Love One Another as I Have Loved You

Love one another as I have loved you.  -John 13:34

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For those of you who have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know my husband and I like to go bike riding. We have a stunningly beautiful trail that follows the river and goes into Denver, about 30 miles round trip. It’s also a trail that attracts many homeless men and women that set up camp along the river and under the overpasses.

Also, for those of you who have been reading my blog for the past couple of months, you know my sisters and I, as well as others we recruited, had a 30-day prayer challenge where we tuned into those around us and prayed for a stranger each day. That trail gives endless opportunities to pray for strangers in need.

And here’s where the two tie together.

About a month ago on one of our bike rides, I saw a person way up ahead crawling on the concrete trail. I watched as several bikes passed by this person, swerving around him, barely taking notice. As I approached him I heard him groaning, struggling to continue on. My husband was a ways behind me and I stopped by this young man, who was clearly homeless, and asked if he was okay. During this time, more bikes passed by, and those that looked, quickly glanced away. I asked him if he was okay, he said he was fine. We exchanged a few more words, he insisting he was fine. I got on my bike and continued, slowly, until my husband caught up to me. But when he did, I stopped. Something was keeping me from continuing. I couldn’t leave this man, hurt, in the middle of nowhere. I told my husband I had to go back and see what I could do.

Now, given the professions in which we work (my husband is a police officer and I work at a District Attorney’s Office), it’s all too easy to become skeptical and jaded about humanity. My husband didn’t think it was a good idea, thinking he might have been high on drugs or alcohol. But I insisted it didn’t matter if he was high or drunk, he was hurt. I could feel it in my gut. My husband agreed to turn around with me and go back.

As it turned out, he was hurt. He’d fallen the night before, thought his foot was likely broken, and was trying to make it into Denver. I asked him if I could call someone for him, he said he didn’t have anyone. I asked if I could call 911, he said he didn’t have any money, to just go ahead and he’d be fine.

I’d decided as soon as we reached Denver I would find someone who would know how to help this man. And the next mile was spent doing mental gymnastices trying to figure out how I could help him.

And then it happened. I heard in my head, the unmistakeable message, “You can’t help him, Rhonda, but I can. Ask Me.”

It was a clear message that gave me goosebumps on every square inch of my arms. God had placed this man in my path and I’d been so caught up in what I could do, that I nearly missed what I could do. This man was my stranger for the day, the one I was to pray for, and I nearly missed that golden opportunity.

When we reached Denver, I told my husband what had happened, and how it changed my heart. Once again, it struck me that praying for others blesses the person praying as much, if not more than, the one being prayed for.

On the way  back we saw him again. He smiled at us and we stopped. My husband pulled out his wallet and tried to offer him some help. The man said he couldn’t take the money, that he would be fine. That statement changed my husband’s heart. A homeless person refusing money??? Finally my husband said, “Please take it. It’s for me, not for you.” The man’s eyes pierced my husband’s heart, he took the offering and said, “Thank you for your blessing.”

Say what?!?

I believe God put that man in our path that day to change both my husband and me. My heart broke to see so many people pass by as if the man, crawling on the pavement, were nonexistent. As if they were afraid to notice him or too caught up in life to notice someone struggling. And it saddened me to think that that’s what has become of our society. Those that are homeless are every bit as precious in God’s eyes as anyone else. They are His children. And if someone passed by my children when they were struggling and hurt, it would rip my heart out.

Helping one another, helping to make life that can be beyond difficult easier for someone else, giving to another the grace and mercy that is so freely given to us–isn’t that what life is about?

Mother Teresa

Time to share – Tell me about a time you’ve helped someone else and how it changed you in ways you never expected.