Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What's Up Wednesday: The Please Do Your Research Edition

Rant ahead… you’ve been warned. J

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk are the hosts, and we'd love for you to join in the fun! Just hit up their blogs and sign up on the linky. J 


I finished reading THE YEAR OF FOG (Michelle Richmond) for my IRL book club. Premise: future step-mom looks away for less than a minute and future step-daughter is abducted. The writing was spectacular; the story, well-executed. But for a mother of two who’s a neurotic worry-wart? I had a tough time getting through the story. 

Currently I’m reading a book that is making me want to throw things.  

Okay, so normally the teacher in me tries to say very positive things about books, even if I’m not completely enthralled by them. If I don’t like them at all, I don’t say anything. That’s just how I roll. But this book I’m reading? The premise is pretty good, one a lot of people can relate to. I feel like it’s taking a while to get to the main crux of the story and there are some issues I have with buy-a-bility, but I am enjoying the story itself. The main character’s a teensy annoying, but I warmed up to her. And the writing, for the most part, is pretty good. So, what about this book makes nice girl Alison want to throw things?

People who know me know that I probably watch soccer as often as I brush my teeth—and I tend to be a good little patient and brush twice a day. So, when I came upon the part of the story where two of the big secondary characters play soccer, I was all kinds of excited. Until the soccer game happened. My soccer lingo was a little rattled when the main character improperly used the term goal box. My jaw dropped a little when the players came into the stands to chat with the fans at half-time (that is unheard of in my parts), but I talked myself into being okay with it because maybe that’s just how some folks do things and how they refer to things. But when the coach called a time out in the middle of the second half, I may have thrown the book. 

There are no. Time outs. In soccer.

I guess if you’ve never watched soccer, you might think that hey, they have time outs in football and basketball, so I’ll just write that in there because I need one of the players to stop what he’s doing and do something else instead. But um . . . no. As my husband always says, when you ASSUME something, you make an ASS out of U and ME.

That, my friends, is where research comes in. Why it’s so important that you get the facts right—even if it is something that might seem like a small thing—because if you don’t, you turn faithful readers like me off, to the point I might not even finish what might be a truly great read. And, on top of that, I will recommend your book to NO ONE.

I know. You’re probably thinking BIG DEAL. Get over it, Alison. But, to me, it is. I love soccer. I love sports. And this is why I’m neurotic about getting research right. Why I do so much needling on the minor details. Why I talk to people about things I’m not sure about. Why I get hoards of reliable readers who will tell me when something’s not quite right.  

I’m still bothered by this. And I think what bothers and angers me more is not only did the time out thing escape the author’s notice, it escaped her readers' notice, her agent’s notice, and the notice of her editors at a major publishing house.

Okay, rant over. But seriously folks, for the sports lovers (and animal lovers and music lovers and whatever lovers) out there, please, please, please do your research. Also, sorry, but I’m not going to reveal the name of Frustrating Read here. I’m not normally a book basher so I’m uncomfortable divulging this much. BUT if you really want to know, feel free to DM me. 
WHAT I’M WRITING: I’m this close to finishing this particular round of revisions. Don’t get too excited. I’m not. My revision list is six pages long and I have, like, a hundred some comments in the doc. BUT I am excited to work on that list. Hoping, hoping, to have the next round finished by the end of February. Then a polishing round before I send it off to CPs. *fingers crossed*

WHAT WORKS FOR ME: I revised a chapter last week that reminds me so much of this scene from The Breakfast Club.  

For those of you who know me, you know this movie is my favorite movie EVER. And the scene I wrote is definitely not John Hughes worthy, but it has the reveals, the feels, and well, the fifteen year old gave it her stamp of approval so… the scene’s a keeper. And my favorite. And the one that makes all the frustrating times with revisions WORTH IT.

So, when I get a little frustrated with what I’m working on and want to throw my WiP against the wall (I know…violence #smh), I reread scenes like this one. Do you have a scene that keeps you going?


My life’s not super exciting. But I am going to see Wicked this weekend. And I have a retreat with some writer friends coming up that I’m super excited about so… 

What’s up on YOUR Wednesday?! 


  1. Ugh, I hate when people haven't done their research! It can definitely ruin a story, and it's something I'm always worried about when I write myself.

    A Breakfast Club-esque scene sounds fantastic =D

  2. Yeah, I appreciate why you'd find that irritating. The only time a football match stops is for injuries. US sports stop and start way more than I'm used to, especially American football. How can the last 30 seconds go on for five minutes? So weird :P

    Good luck with your revision goal!

  3. I have that feeling all the time with historicals that aren't properly researched, particularly when they're Gossip Girl in period clothes books that show historical characters acting and talking like contemporaries.

    Good luck with your revisions!

  4. Okay, I totally want to know what book sent you on your research rant. I agree -- I'm pulled out of stories when there are obvious fact problems. I read THE YEAR OF FOG a few years ago and thought it was fantastic. But yeah... Totally freaked me out, too! Best of luck finishing that revision, lady. I'm so eager to read!

  5. The Breakfast Club is one of my all time faves as well, so if your scene is anything like that, I am sure I will love it. I get your frustration about the book you're reading. So irritating when something is poorly researched and then it get bought and edited and remains poorly handled. That is the writers job, but it is also the editor and the copy editors job to fact check certain things. Ahh. Hope you have a wonderful week!

  6. Good luck with revisions. I'm not a big fan of doing revisions, but it's necessary for all us writers, I guess. Enjoy writing!

    My What's up Wednesday post.

  7. I'm always worried about getting things wrong, so I always research obsessively!

    Best of luck with the revisions. :)

  8. I hate it when books do things like that. I usually throw the book down for a night or two, and after the frustration wears off, go back and stick out my tongue when it happens again. (seriously.) Have fun with revisions!

  9. I know what you mean about not wanting to bash books, but sometimes it's just SO frustrating when an author gets it so wrong. There's no excuse for insufficient research, as far as I'm concerned. And why, why, why would someone write a book featuring a sport they clearly don't know much/enough about? This is a situation where "write what you know" definitely applies. I love hearing that one of your scenes is reminiscent of The Breakfast Club. Love it! I have scenes like that, that keep me going when the going gets tough. Hope you have a wonderful week, Alison! :D

  10. The Year of Fog sounds like a book I couldn't read at all. Having four kids, I have a really hard time reading books or watching movies about kids who get kidnapped.
    That's not cool that the author didn't do their research. I know I kind of shunt research to the side sometimes so your post has totally made me sit up and take notice of the things I need to be accurate on.

  11. uhg. Research is hard. I'm sure my historical fic novels are riddled with inaccuracies. Maybe a nice editor will fix them someday?

  12. Haha, if it's the book I think it is, I was also a bit WTF over that soccer scene. Even without the inaccuracies, it seemed kinda randomly thrown in there. Email me and let me know the title - we can discuss :)

    LOVE The Breakfast Club. Years ago, one of my friends and I would label certain events as "John Hughes Moments" if something really amazing and/or sweet had happened.

    Good luck with revisions!

  13. Haha, this is why I'll probably never write a book with any kind of sports in it. I'm not sure that even research could save me - I know that little about sports! :) But, yah, I could see how that would totally ruin a book for you when the scene is just so blatantly wrong! Good luck with your revisions and have a wonderful week!

  14. I hope this doesn’t post twice—Google is being weird!

    THE YEAR OF FOG sounds like something I can never ever read. Now that I have a kid, any books or movies in that vein are no longer viable options for me. I cry buckets over certain commercials and chintzy picture books. There’s no way I can handle something super serious like that, haha!

    Good luck with your revisions! :)

  15. Ha! The biologist in me cringes every time people make animals in books attack for no reason, or do something else totally ridiculous. I miiiight have wanted to chuck a book or two myself. But you know, violence. *grin*

    And ahhhh...The Breakfast Club. *experiences wave of nostalgia* So happy for you that you like your scene so much. That is a great feeling when something just clicks like that. :)

    Have an awesome week!

  16. I've never seen The Breakfast Club, I really need to get on that!
    I know exactly what you mean, if I'm reading a book and something is wrong, even the tiniest thing, I get so annoyed. At the end of the day, it's not hard to research pretty much anything these days.

  17. Sometimes seemingly small things get under my skin, too. Usually in historicals. For example, I recently read a series set in the Middle Ages that referred to the people of England as the British - except every single source I've read from that time period refers to them as the English. So there's that. (Everything else appeared to be in order, though, so I tried to let that one go.)

    Good luck with your revisions!


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