Writers or Cooks: What Are You Willing to Do?

Denny's MermaidsI don’t know what it is about me and cops, detectives, private eyes, lawyers, or could it be the entire judicial system, but no matter what I write, there is always, always, always, a crime, suspense, weapons, a moustache-twirling villain, and a dead body.

I’m not a cop who writes books. I’m a PR and marketing person, who writes. But PR divas, we don’t do. We strategize ways for our clients to influence human behavior – in other words we help our clients’ customers buy or think the way our clients want the public to buy or think (I love PR:).

So what does this mean to my storytelling? Lots of research, research, research.

I know. Research is required of any project you decide must be done, and that doesn’t only apply to writing a book. You routinely  gather facts before diving into any pool blind. If you’re planning a special meal for the family or friends, or just for tonight’s dinner for the hubby and the kids, what do you do? Research. Gather your materials, and you deliver a meal. Many of us cooks will readily admit that FoodNetwork.com is our best friend, except for you foodies. You are like lawyers or doctors or cops writing books about lawyers or doctors or cops. You have the expertise right there in front of you and I’m just…well, jealous.

Okay, baby rant over.

Well, if one of those dishes you decided to cook was an exotic African dish, made of goat and curry spices and something you’ve never considered eating before (like goat, which I love). Would you try and make it? Or would you leave that delicious dish a fanciful thought never acted upon?

So that’s why I do research. I can’t shove a story aside just because I don’t know anything about being a cop (and having dated a cop doesn’t count…well, maybe it doesn’t count for the cop scenes…hehehe:).

But how far will I go to learn? Would you travel to Nairobi, Kenya (if money and time weren’t a factor) to meet with the chef at the Tamambo Karen Blixen Coffee Garden to discuss how to make the special of the day  for dinner that night?

Well, I’m willing to go pretty far for my books, I think. So, I’ve actually acted upon one of my New Year’s resolutions – I’ve signed up to do a Ride-Along with the local Metro Police in Washington, D.C. Yep. I’m going to do it. Right? Sound fun?

But just in case you are more Food Network.com than classes at the Culinary Institute or stalking Bobby Flay, here are some of my favorite legal links that help make my justice system characters come to life:

Crime Scene Investigator

White Collar Crime Blog


PC World Article on Net Crime

Information Week Article on CIA Website Hacker

Police Ride Along Program (in every major city btw)

And of course a member of Washington Romance Writers (WRW-DC), Author Allison Leotta (Books: Law of Attraction and Discretion) has a website ranked among the top in the nation called The Prime Time Crime Review, an excellent source of information where a lot of lawyers hang out and chat, too. (PS, Allison will conduct a workshop for WRW-DC on February 9 all about writing and research and she’ll have special guests from the world of justice, too).

Anyway, what research tips (or recipes) are you willing to share?

Happy New Year!

7 thoughts on “Writers or Cooks: What Are You Willing to Do?

  1. I admire your courage, Denny. Having hung out my library research shingle a few years ago (ahem), I prefer to learn in any other way than in person or shadowing. Reality TV? Love. YouTube? Documentary? Web research? Database scouring? Tracking down “people who were there” or primary documents? Moi. Hand up. That’s what I trained for. My blood sings when I’m on the hunt for obscure factoids.

    On the other hand, riding along with a cute, young Jeremy Renner-like cop wouldn’t be so bad… I could sign up for that…

  2. From your keyboard to the all-mighty writing goddess’ ears (Jeremy like-cop would help ease my fears).

    I do the others, too. But I enjoy the chatter and the seeing and also hoping to run into a few more visceral writing cues:). Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Oh boy, those police officers are gonna have fun with you, Denny! How exciting. I hope you blog about that ride along experience. I can only imagine how cool that is going to be.

    I just did an impromptu road trip to Tennessee to see if in fact I could find my hero’s hometown and I did! I like that kind of research. I also think it’s pretty clever to turn obsessions into research projects. Uber-enthusiasts make great researchers and writers 😉

    1. You’re right – we are uber-enthusiasts and that’s what helps us channel our research (and our writing). Very cool about your trip to Tennessee. And yes, I will blog about my ride-along. You bet.

  4. I second Carlene’s suggestion to blog about your ride-along! And I am impressed with your initiative to do it. I kinda like watching YouTube videos for research. That’s how I learned how to skin and deer. Lol.

    1. Whoa! What a great idea about the YouTube vids. I hadn’t thought of that. And yikes – skinning a deer? I’ve skinned a rabbit, but deer – bigger. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  5. Wow Denny, you are one brave lady! I definitely want to hear about your ride along.

    I’ve been hunting and fishing, and done tons of road trips. Interviewed a biker who once got shot in a bar and had his buddies remove the bullet so he didn’t have to go to the hospital. (I mean honestly, who does that???) I’ve been kayaking and rappelling and I shoot pretty well. I did the same obstacle course the Marines do (that just wound up being entertainment value for my husband though.) So basically I’m not afraid to experience the new and crazy, and I definitely draw from those when writing.

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