Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Christine Rimmer on What Writers Need to Know...

We need to know a lot. Too much.

Which is why I can’t even remember how I got along without the internet. I know, know. Much of the info online is suspect. Take Wikipedia. Great stuff there. But you have to keep in mind that anyone can add onto any page at any time. Yes, Wikipedia has people fact-checking constantly, to be sure any given page hasn’t been maliciously falsified. But still…

You have to be careful out there.

I am. Honestly. I try to check and cross-check any info I'm going to put in a book and call a fact. Still, I know stuff gets by me. Sorry, I do my best to get it right. But it’s the nature of the beast that now and then we stumble.

And you know what? Even with the above caveat, I’m still in love with the things I can find out online. I have a folder in my Favorites links devoted to Research and Reference. That folder has a hundred addresses of places online to find out stuff. That folder should be better organized.

One of these days… (hah!)

And my Research and Reference folder isn’t the half of it. Every book I write gets a Favorites folder and then there are sub-folders within the main folder. For Settings and Flora and Fauna, for information about my hero or heroine’s profession, for things like how to kill someone with digoxin or Spanish slang and idioms. It’s all quite dizzying.

And wonderful!

And my very favorite research sites—I mean aside from the basics like and Wikipedia and

The ones about time and the phases of the moon. I love this site: Complete Sun and Moon Data for One Day. You go there, you fill in the blanks, you can find out sunset and sunrise anyplace in the world on any given day. And the phases of the moon on that day. I love the whole moon phase thing. Sorry. Just do. It’s something I really need to know so my H/h can look up in the sky and see the moon as it really is in that place. On that day.

Weird? Maybe. But all writers have their weirdnesses and this is one of mine.

Love this one, too: Tells me the time and date—right now—anywhere in the world. I need to know that! I really, really do.

And there’s my friend, Betty Sanders, a member of my local RWA chapter. She keeps a blog that’s a…reference of reference sites. Everyone needs that. So here you go:

What about you? Favorite info sites I should know about? Share, share!


Lois said...

Well, I'm going to be so incredibly lame here, but the one place I go to when needed is LOL :) Guess that's not too much help for what you need. :)


Christine Rimmer said...

Lois, Love that. I have the dictionary in Word, but it's way basic. And otherwise, I get out my big Webster's hardbound dictionary. I'll try the dictionary online next time...

Pat Cochran said...

Just the "old" standard: Google and
my two stand-by dictionaries:
American Heritage and Webster's New International!

Pat Cochran

Jane said...

I love Wikipedia, too. I also like IMDB for info on actors, movies and tv shows. Urban Dictionary is great for when I want to know what that popular or slang saying means.

Pat Cochran said...

Thanks, Jane, I forgot about IMDB!
I use them frequently, even when
doing entertainment crossword

Pat Cochran

Cheri2628 said...

As an avid reader I am so impressed with the detailing that has to go into creating a story. You authors can't just come up with a good story and characters, you also have to create a realistic setting. In historical fiction you have to immerse the reader in a particular time period with its unique customs and clothing. Even in contemporary fiction you have to create realistic details of a particular career/workplace and the city/country/farm life in the story. I can see why research is such an important and time-consuming part of your job. Thank you to all you writers for the time and effort you give in bringing entertainment to those of us who love to read!

Estella said...

Just Google and Websters Dictionary.

Christine Rimmer said...

Jane and Pat; I love Urban Dictionary. It's even better than my 19-year-old son at telling me what means what. Great one!

Christine Rimmer said...

Cherie, so true that we try to get it right. I could tell you a few of my bloopers--like the gelding that later turned out to have sired another horse. A miracle, fersure! But honestly, I try to check and recheck every detail!

Christine Rimmer said...

Estella, Google is indispensable. Truly. I don't know how I lived without it!

Bronwyn Jameson said...

Christine, you are not alone. I also check the moon phases and sunset times to ensure they really can see a full moon in a dark sky on a particular date. A site I use is, for details of the world of wealth with which I am not on close familiar terms in real life. :-)


Christine Rimmer said...

Hey, Bronwyn--yes! Wealth. I need that. A lot. Info about it and more of it! Funny, when I started writing romance my heroes were always blue collar guys. More and more, not so much. Hmm. Is that significant?

Bronwyn Jameson said...

I love the blue-collar hero, Christine. Miss him. :-(