Creole Princess by Beth White


This is an extraordinary and very interesting look into Southern society during the Revolutionary War era. White deals with the pain of slavery, and I believe her writing reveals quality research. She does not spout the same old stuff written for decades about relationships between masters and slaves.

White also explores the way families can splinter when fathers become too set and rigid to understand their children. The contrasts of thoughts, feelings and emotions in this book is gripping.

Characterizations are developed very well, and personalities sharpen each other rather than grating or blending into each other. Dialogue could use some tweaking, but White does incorporate the syntax of that period quite well in the dialogue.

All in all, I give this book 5 of 5 stars. A well told tale.


On the colonial Gulf Coast, the beautiful young Lyse Lanier is torn between loyalty to her family and a handsome Spanish stranger with a secret mission.


Why does a great author need an editor?

You have a masterpiece all completed. It is a work of art. Until you have it in your hands in printed form and you start reading. There are mistakes all over the place. Misspelled words... How can that happen when you you spellchecked three times? What happened to that quirky character that in your writing seemed so funny and added so much spice? In the printed version, he comes off as lame and abrasive with no compassion. But what can you do? The book is in print, and that self-publishing company is going to charge you for making so many changes!

We need to rewind to the time before that manuscript ever left to brave the world.

Think of an editor as Coco Chanel or Christian Dior of the publishing world. But you don't have to pay fashion designer prices to get fashion designer quality in your writing. The investment in the right editing has a very high return of investment because you become a better writer. After you see the suggested corrections, and see how much better your work is, you can skillfully incorporate those changes and even apply them to your next work of art. That makes you a better writer.

Your work is a masterpiece because no one else could have told the story exactly the way you have. No one else thought of the story, or studied the subject like you did for that article. Yet, the clothes your work is wearing are not fashion designer quality. They are definitely serviceable, and enduring, but sending your work out into the world without dressing it up to the nines reflects badly on you and can tarnish your reputation.

In choosing an editor, everything depends upon what kind of editing you need. Every solid piece of writing can be tweaked and trimmed into excellent writing. An author is too close to the work to be able to see the whole clearly. An author needs to be married to the idea, but not to the words. A professional can give you on the job training in how to write more clearly, how to use active voice instead of passive voice, how to develop your characters into vibrant, lifelike humans instead of caricatures.  Your work will be like a river with white water rapids and still water depths.

How to choose an editor?

I completely understand about the sample edit thing. Five pages is hardly enough to display the skill of an editor, but it takes so much time to edit some things because of many reasons: a) the author has English as a second language; b) the author does not have the work perfected to be ready for a comprehensive edit because the author wants the work "cleaned up" so more writing can be done (as in only a first draft is complete; c) the author has no clue where the story is going; and d) the author does not know what kind of editing he/she needs.

I never knew that I was such a bad proofreader until I had a professional proofreader edit one of my books. I thought I had done a really good job proofing the thing. I received back a gold mine of corrections that saved me a lot of embarrassment because I self-pubbed that book. I am truly proud to market my book because I know it is a professional presentation of my thoughts and studies. That is priceless. I also realized that I was far too close to the work. My words were my deepest thoughts so I didn't realize I had so many common errors that writers make until I saw them highlighted by my worthy proofreader.

Another excellent benefit from having your work professionally edited is that it makes the author a better writer. There are many people out there with Bachelor's and Master's degrees who still can't put a really good fiction book together. An editor can see the big picture. An editor is far enough away from the author's work (both fiction and non-fiction) to identify the holes in story or thesis, give great advice on characterizations, make sure that dialogue is snappy and character-unique instead of all characters talking the same (as I've read many books with this problem).

What an author needs is more value-realizing of the great investment that editing is.


Beast of Stratton by Renee Blare


There is a lot in this story to like. At times the story whooshes along so fact you barely hear the railroad crossing warning before the train has passed. However, other times it moves really slow, but the prose is staccato like high heels clacking along a cement platform.

Character development is nicely done. You meet a young woman who has a mission to find out where her father is. You have to figure out that she's going undercover to the job where he was last seen. She's and architect, but is pretending to be a secretary (she was one a long time ago, so it's okay, she knows what to do). We get a good feel for Aimee, we know she's a firecracker, and that she's good at what she does. We also know that she loves her father AND she loves him for good reasons: He's faithful, true, honest, etc. so the characters are very believable.

I like the way we meet the Beast of Stratton; in your face and sort of growling. It's a long time into the story before you figure out what his problem is, and why he's so grumpy.There is one character, I think it's one character who is usually called Ian, but something Sebastian. That part was very confusing, so I'll tell you that he's the head of security and he really is a good guy.

About style...
Blare makes a lot of points in the narrative without a lot of care that the reader truly understands what is going on. I get this kind of writing because I wrote this way a long time ago. It's to be efficient with words so that the words carry a lot of impact. However, the word economy here is very distracting to the storyline. The reader has to waste time trying to figure out exactly what is going on, and sometimes who is doing the action. That dams up the story flow, and can actually keep the reader from enjoying the suspense. This is the fault of the editor mostly, not the author. Authors tend to get caught up in story telling and frequently we leave out words and sentences because our brains are working faster than we can type. The editor on the other hand must make sure the story flows fluidly so the reader can shoot the rapids as well as savor the deep, quiet waters. That is what makes a good story a great novel.

Dialogue needs some work as well. Sometimes it's hard to tell who is talking to whom. Although, what the characters say to each other is believable.

For the ending to have the kind of huge impact that I know the author is going for, more time should have been spent on the mother. It's great what happens in the end, but frankly I didn't get to know the mother so I really didn't care if she was forgiven or not. Maybe you will feel differently about it. Maybe I'm just getting old and I don't like the sound of high heels walking across a concrete platform. I like the sound of steady rain on the roof, and splashes of puddles, and white water rivers because it's all going somewhere with a purpose that is clearly discerned.

 I liked the book. It is interesting and a very good premise, so I give it 3 stars out of 5.


 He appears the beast, but she sees the man...

Architect Aimee Hart, determined to locate her father, infiltrates Miles Stratton’s engineering firm as a secretary. Her presence wrenches the shaggy, wounded man from his penthouse, and the quest begins.

Betrayed by his best friend, Miles would rather hide than help, especially from the man's daughter. But something's not right. Someone’s trying to destroy Stratton Industrial. A decorated war veteran, he's defended his own before and the Beast of Stratton can do it again.

Even with the enemy at his side.

The Search for Reason by Michael E. Dreher


There are many things that are very good about this book. I think all Christians who have been believers for a while should read this book or at least one similar. We often take our faith for granted never doubting God's existence or His grace. But we do often doubt His mercy else why would we constantly beat our head against the walls for our past sins?

This is a refreshing walk down a path searching for faith in a very reasonable world. Everyone needs to remember what faith is all about, and to know that regardless of our beliefs God really does have our best interests at heart. He's real, and personal, and intimately involved in our lives. This book reminds us of those things, and that is a very good thing.

The beginning is done very well. We have a brief look at what Matthew's life is like; without graphics we get the picture. Then we slip into his thought processes as he muddles about trying to make sense of a gut wrenching blow to his equilibrium when his friend dies. Matt comes face to face with how God can change a person inside out. All this is written very well, and to the point. The character development is excellent, and he's fully believable as a 30-something.

The other characters are drawn with a deft pen as well... the bad influences are really bad, and the good ones are not preachy or prudes. They are just average Christians who have a noticeable heart for God, and are not ashamed of saying so. Michael makes good use of prayer as well.

There is a lot of background story that bogs down the story flow, though. The quest is all about Matthew, not the psychologist so we don't need to go down any side roads with him. That is very distracting and it does not move the story along. Although, the psychologist does help Matt to understand somethings, and Dreher uses that character to tackle some hard questions. The story would move along at a much better pace if all that back story was removed and used in a different book that tackled some of those things that long-time Christians face every day.

Another drawback is that the story is very wordy, and Dreher uses a lot of passive voice verbs instead of action verbs. In his next book, he needs to pay closer attention to verb tense as well. All that said, this is a good first endeavor for a new author. I look forward to more from him.

This book gets 3 stars out of 5. I liked it. If the writing were tightened up quite a bit, and some of the characters' back stories were trimmed, it could get 5 stars.


 Matthew Edwards thought he was living the dream. He was young, successful, and had his sights set on a bright future. Then, out of the blue he received a phone call that turned his world upside down. His childhood best-friend that he had not seen in 15 years, died suddenly, and the news rocked him to his core. After receiving the news, a series of “coincidences” had him searching for answers. Trying to deal with the death of a friend was hard enough, but then he found out that his job might be on the line, as well as the partnership he dreamed of. Nightmares of a faceless child haunted his sleep, and the peace he thought he had in his life had all but vanished. “How much could one person take,” he would wonder, as he tried to piece things together before his life fell apart.

After the funeral, the questions that plagued him left him restless and void. “What’s the reason to all of this? How could God allow this to happen? If he was a God of love, how come there is so much pain and suffering?” More and more, he tried to find the meaning in all of it. “I need to know,” he would think. So at the behest of his mother, he sought answers in a place that he never thought he would; a psychologist. While he found answers to some of his questions, he still felt as if he had a hole in his soul. Without knowing what to do next, or where to find the peace he so desperately needed, he took a step in the direction that he ran from many years before.

Will he be able to find the peace or reason he seeks?


Art of being Broken by Aaron Mark Reimer


There are some sparkling gems of wisdom in this book. Reimer has a beautiful way of telling his stories in a style that is truly down to earth, and very human, and very open about his brokenness. You can tell that some of life's kicks bruised him deeply, but he is positive about how God is the great Healer.

This book would have been much better if it had an introduction telling the reader where he was going, and what his purpose was for writing the book. You don't get a feel for the purpose until you are almost finished reading. Each chapter does have a purpose. But if you are like me, you rarely read the chapter headings, so you miss the purpose of the chapter. I don't have to have things spelled out for me, so I figured out that the book is basically an autopsy of brokenness, or maybe a better term would be anatomy of brokenness. The fact that every person is broken because every person is human is discussed thoroughly. The fact that God heals brokenness when the person is willing to allow Him to, is also explored thoroughly. This goes without saying, but so many people never acknowledge the truth humans are broken and need God to be healthy souls.

This book would be great for small group discussion (and only a 14-week length if you take a chapter each week). You may be able to study 2 chapters a week because the first chapter Fine is followed by Broken Things Are Broken, which is a natural flow. I would suggest highlighting those things that strike your heart with a true resonance, and then discuss those things.

You can't read this book fast, because each chapter needs to be savored as well as pondered. However, you can read it on many different levels. As a devotional type reading a chapter a day, or on a much deeper level if you really want to learn something that will stick with you for longer than a month. I strongly urge youth pastors to consider using this book as a summer study for youth groups. The wisdom imparted here is priceless if you learn it earlier rather than later.

For adults there is a lot of humor, tongue-in-cheek, and tremendous amount of honesty that begs the reader to be honest with himself or herself. So reader beware.

I have to tell you that the book is a bit wordy and takes a little while to get to the point. The chapters do not have a thesis statement at the beginning nor do they have a conclusion statement at the end, so it is a bit difficult to key in on the author's points unless you dig for them. Because of this, I give it 4 of 5 stars.

What if everything isn't fine?
What if there is life outside of our shells?
What if there is beauty underneath our masks?
What if there is healing beyond our brokenness?
What if we could see the image of God in ourselves?
What if God's best art is made from our broken pieces?

In The Art of Being Broken, Aaron Mark Reimer opens up an authentic, sometimes awkward, occasionally hilarious, one-way conversation about our brokenness, the things we use to cover it, and the healing that can come through exposing it.


Review: God's Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe

God's Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe
God's Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe by J. Warner Wallace

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book won't hit the shelves until August 2015, but I read an ARC, and am quite impressed. The perspective is unique, from the point of view of a homicide detective. Looking for all kinds of clues relating to why God is, and why only God could create the universe. If you have ANYone in your family that is agnostic or atheistic, if you have anyone that believes science is above all and end all, then you must get them to read this book.

Wallace presents a wall of evidence that cannot be denied. Step by step, or maybe I should say, brick by brick he builds a solid case for the Intelligent designed, and God-created universe. Everything leads to Christ. You can't go wrong with this book.

View all my reviews


Dead Dog Like Me by Max Davis


Max Davis writes from the heart. He certainly creates characters that are believable and real, especially describing what it's like to topple from an ivory tower. What I like about this journey this novel is that it isn't preachy, and doesn't take you down a lesson-plan path. You get engrossed in the story, and perhaps feel a lot of sympathy for the main character, Nick Gregory. You feel compassion for his wife as well. During the whole book you may not completely understand why you are feeling this compassion for Abbi until the last few chapters. Because...

In the first three or four chapters, a lot of questions are raised. Who is Philip? Why and how did he die? Why did he write a letter and what did the letter say? It takes a long time to clear up this mystery. This novel doesn't need that kind of mystery. There is enough tension and strain and strife without it. All the characters in the book know the answers, and that made me feel like an outsider. When reading a book, I don't like being an outsider at all. That tactic alienates readers. We like to find out things along with the main character. I think the book would do much better without that ploy, so forewarned is forearmed. There are also a ton of flashbacks. Personally, I detest flashbacks. Although this makes the story flow disjointed, it doesn't distract too much or take you out of the story. For me it doesn't work. Again forewarned is forearmed.

It is interesting how this one character, Philip, who is dead, seems to dominate and orchestrate the actions of the characters. We tend to do this in the real world as well. We tend to live in the past allowing past actions, past beliefs, and past thoughts dictate how we act in the present. Davis used this very well in his novel. He explores how we use anger as a shield, and how we Christians hear God, but tend to try to obey under our own power. This book will keep you thinking long after you've read the last page.

Nick Gregory regains consciousness after a horrific car accident to find he’s been transported back in time and that he has become Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son and King Saul’s grandson. Aware that he’s experiencing another man’s life, he has to learn fast. When mega-church pastor, Nick Gregory, regains consciousness after a horrific car accident, he’s on the ground in agonizing pain. Nick realizes he is in a bizarre place – a foreign, parched, ancient land, having been transported back in time to 800 B.C. Unbelievably, he is in the body of a prince named Mephibosheth, a son of Jonathan and King Saul’s grandson. Nick is fully aware of who he is and that he’s now living in Mephibosheth’s body, strangely able to speak and understand Hebrew. This experience helps him see that he, like Mephibosheth, is a broken man desperate for God’s outrageous grace and healing (2 Samuel 9:8). Returning to present day, Nick’s experience motivates a changed life.

Max Davis is the author of over 20 published books and has been featured in USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly, and has appeared on The Today Show and The 700 Club. He holds degrees in Journalism and Biblical Studies and is a much sought-after speaker for churches and organizations worldwide. He and his wife, Alanna, live on 50 beautiful acres in Greenwell Springs, Louisiana.Dead Dog Like Me Website


Justified by Varina Denman


You can always count on David C. Cook to publish great reads. This one is no exception. Justified is Book 2, but you'd never know it if you read it. You don't have to have read Jaded because this one is a complete stand alone. You may be stepping into the middle of a story, but you have a full, satisfying, complete read in Justified.

There are three main characters that are so exquisitely developed you are captivated by the end of the first chapter. I have to admit, I wasn't particularly fond of Fawn in the beginning, then I understood why by the end of the second chapter. After that, I couldn't put the book down. I ached for her hurts, and rejoiced over her small triumphs. I warned her not to trust the rat who had gotten her pregnant, and rejoiced as she grew fond of and fell in love with a very good, Christian man. 

There is a reason why the reader is taken into the head of the antagonist, but I really detest head jumping. That kind of writing is lazy in my opinion. However, Denman does a good job with the transitions so the head jumping isn't such a reading shock. I still think there is no need for the head jumping into the baby's father's head. His motives and his thought processes are quite discernible by his actions. 

Fawn's character is quite poignant. As her faith grows from mere surface platitudes and actions into a deeply felt heart change, she becomes a tender, true-blue Christian rather than a brittle play-like Christian. I really like the way Coach points out her flaws in such a gentle, but firm way. Without believers being held accountable, believers never grow. This story illustrates that adage marvelously. 

Denman also illustrates certain characteristics that Christians are gifted with because we are children of God: Strength of character, willingness to change our attitude so that we align more correctly with God's will, tender mercies, forgiveness, discernment, and other more complicated characteristics. 

Several facets of human behavior are studied in this novel. One that really is not a biblical principle is forgiving one's self. No place in the Bible talks about this, however believers have a tendency to be harder on themselves than on others. They assume they must forgive themselves, when actually it is Satan that is using our past to kill and destroy our present peace and forgiveness from God. Other human behaviors are romance, need for comforting, motherly instincts, strength of character to resist others trying to direct our path. These characteristics are deftly infused into the storyline to make the story flow in river-like grace: smooth and deep, to white water rapids, then back to smooth and deep. It is a wonderful, exciting ride. The book is well worth the money, and is definitely a keeper. Five of five stars.


In a small Texas town ruled by gossip, Fawn Blaylock believes others are justified in condemning her untimely pregnancy. Stifled by guilt, she yearns for grace while the local football coach treats her with gentle respect.

Justified perfectly captures the rhythm and romance of life in a small town, telling the unforgettable story of a woman searching for renewal, a man looking beyond what others see, and a community torn between judgment and love. It is the unforgettable story of broken dreams, second chances, and relentless hope.


Together with You by Victoria Bylin


Fascinating study of how a father who determines to be a father travels from point A to final destination of being a father. As Carly says, "It's ... love."

The two main characters have so much in common in that they beat themselves up for what they did in the past. Frankly, this author, Victoria Bylin, seems to think there is merit in "forgiving yourself." I've studied that, and don't believe that is a biblical principle. When you self-recriminate you are buying into one of Satan's guilt tactics and that builds a wall keeping you away from God and His forgiveness. Whoever thinks something you have done is unforgivable is listening to a lie, and is being colossally arrogant thinking that you are better and bigger than God in this forgiveness business.

Setting that aside, I think Bylin did an excellent job with research. I commend her for highlighting the fetal alcohol syndrome to America's women. The lasting effects of it are devastating! Great job in weaving this storyline around a special needs child.

Characters are very well done, While we are subjected to the inside thinking of a 13-year-old boy and a 16-year-old boy along with his girlfriend, Bylin does an excellent job of building their characters through the eyes of their father and the nanny, Carly. Superbly done. Joy to read. Brought back memories of my nephews. We do take a trip or two into the head of Ryan's special needs daughter. Quite interesting to get a view of how a child with FAS thinks and assimilates information. (Like I said, this chick did some excellent research.)

The two main characters' development is also well done. A bit on the whiny side when they keep beating themselves up over the past. I get the panic thing with Carly, and the guilt thing with Ryan's adultery, but seriously--enough already with the rehashing of information. There is just so many ways you can beat yourself up and Bylin did it all those many ways. I was black and blue by the last page. However, I did read to the last page.

Ryan's agnosticism was a good relief to Carly's faith. It was a good study in how a believing woman can touch the heart of an unbeliever setting attraction aside. I have seen men "see the light" just because they were attracted to a woman. But this was different in several ways. However, after reading hundreds of books where women authors try to really get inside their male characters' heads, I never sure they actually ring that bell correctly. Men depict male characters so differently than women do, and women depict women characters differently than men do... It's that Venus and Mars thing, I guess. All that to say that Bylin did a pretty good job inside the head of Ryan.

5 of 5 stars. Worth the money!


Ryan thought hiring Carly Mason as nanny was a key move in reconnecting with his children, but will the attraction between them send his plans into chaos?

Blood of a Stone by Jeanne Gassman


This is an excellent walk through some interesting biblical places following a couple of Roman slaves. They suffer quite a bit before one kills the master, and they both run away. [Not a spoiler because this happens early on.]

What happens next is similar to a camel ride. Up and down, round and round as the plot unfolds. People you meet are interesting including their own agendas, and with some key historical facts as well. The character development is very well done. The two main characters develop in different ways. The older slave (the Jew) seems to be one of the Sower's seeds out of Matthew 13. I won't say which one, that would be a spoiler. The younger one is also a seed. His character is so well woven, I almost prayed for him!

The storyline is well done. The flow is good and keeps the pages turning. There is a twist at the end that I should have seen coming, but did not. The book is quite good.

The book gets 5 of 5 stars. Well worth the money.


Set in the first century on the edges of the Roman Empire and the Jesus movement, Blood of a Stone is a sweeping story of murder, betrayal, love, and the search for redemption.
Faced with the brutality of slavery, Demetrios confronts his master and flees by the blood of a stone. Determined to escape his past, he struggles to create a new life and a new identity with his friend and fellow escaped slave, Elazar.
However, freedom has its price. Secrets cannot remain secret forever. A chance for love is lost. Elazar betrays Demetrios to a so-called prophet named Jesus of Nazareth. Fearing the Roman authorities and Jesus, Demetrios risks everything to silence those who would enslave him again. His quest leads him to startling discoveries and dire choices.
Demetrios must answer the question we all ask: Can we ever be free of our past?

Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano


Top notch, A#1 love story. Gripped me from the very first page. There are places, though, that made me want to shake Andrea because of her thought processes. I get the fact that some people get hurt and that makes them put up walls. Sure, lots of people do that especially when they don't know God very well.

The faith factor in this book is interwoven very well, and because of the lack of faith the characters do some wallowing that is very believable. It makes me wonder how people live without God, and that thought makes me shudder.

The development and flow of the story is very good. Just the right amount of tension, humor, and add a few touches of self-recrimination then pour in some of God's redeeming love, and you've got a great recipe for a very good story.

No story flow barricades, no characters acting unbelievably, and that makes a wonderful story. One thing that made me jump for joy was the lack of head hopping. One or two places of head jumping from Andrea to James as very well done transitions from one scene to another. Mostly, however, the characters stayed in their own heads, not much speculation of what the other was thinking--superior writing. The story was from the two main characters point of view, and no head hopping to various supporting characters. Yea!

Very well done. 5 of 5 stars. Well worth the money. This one is a keeper.


Andrea Sullivan is so consumed by her hospitality consultant job that she's forgotten what brings her life. She travels the world yet shields herself from the exotic locales or another chance at love. She dreads her new assignment—a last chance to snag a high-profile client in Scotland. Yet the lush Isle of Skye transcends her preconceptions. As does the man she came to interview—the rugged, blue-eyed Scotsman James McDonald.

James is passionate about cooking but after six restaurants, four cookbooks, and his own television show, he has no desire to be a celebrity chef. Andrea and James begin to sense these five days in Skye may just be God's wild invitation into deeper life ... and truer love.


Randy Ingermanson's craft advice

Research is one of my ALL-time pet peeves when reading. If the author has not done research, then there are all kinds of story-stopper "facts" that frustrate readers. It seems that Randy seems to agree with me in this article about asking questions...

~~ ~~~ ~~ ~~~ ~~~


2) Organization: The Power of Asking for Help

A lot of people go through life afraid to ask for help when they have a question. They’re afraid they’ll look stupid. Nobody wants to look stupid. So they don’t ask. 

But there’s a way to ask for help that won’t make anyone think you’re stupid.

Ask Google. (Or any search engine of your choice. For simplicity in this article, I’m just going to talk about Google, but you can use whichever search engine you like.)

Let's look at a few examples of questions you can ask Google and the kinds of answers you can get.

How do you add more memory to a 2012 MacBook Pro? There’s a YouTube video that will show you how. 

What’s the difference between an S corporation and an LLC? There are many articles on this. Here’s one. 

How do you install a new plugin for your WordPress blog? WordPress has a page that discusses plugins, how to install them, and much more.  

If you’ve got a “how-to” question, Google almost certainly can find you an answer. Probably a whole page full of answers.

If you think about it, that’s pretty amazing. No matter what your question, no matter how stupid you feel, there’s a machine you can ask that will give you answers and will never try to humiliate you.

Some caveats are in order.

Caveat 1: Not All Answers Are Created Equal 

Some answers are better than others. Some of them are right. Some are almost right. Some are dead wrong.

Just because it’s on the internet doesn’t make it automatically true. You have to decide whether you trust the authority of any page you read. Which means you need the critical skills to determine who is trustworthy and who isn’t. But you’ve probably spent a lifetime developing your critical skills already, so this is nothing new for you.  

Caveat 2: You Might Not Understand the Answer

Some questions are hard. That means some answers are going to be complicated. If you don’t understand the answer, then try again with a question about the part you don’t understand. Google doesn’t get tired of answering your questions.

Caveat 3: Not All Answers Are Known

Of course there are plenty of questions that nobody knows how to answer. If you ask Google a hard question, you might get articles that claim to answer the question, but don’t. Or you might get articles that explain why the question is hard to answer. It can be useful to know that nobody knows the answer.

Caveat 4: Not All Questions Have Unique Answers

Which is prettier, red or blue?

How far is up?  

But Some Questions Google Can Answer

Despite the caveats above, Google can answer an amazing number of questions that come up in your writing. Here are a few examples:

What does your setting look like?
If your setting is on planet earth, Google Maps can show you a map of how it looks today. It can show you satellite images. It can show you pictures taken from ground level. Even if you’re writing a historical novel, this may be enough. It’s a lot cheaper than flying there.

Who was that company who just called you with an offer that sounds too good to be true? Are they a scam?

Check their Caller ID and enter it into Google along with the word “scam”. If there’ve been any complaints, you’ll find what people have said about them.

Is there anybody on the planet with the same unusual name as your villain?

Maybe you think your villain’s name could never belong to anyone real. Maybe you’re wrong. If it matters, you can find out pretty quickly. 

Is it plausible that your heroine could swim a mile in the open ocean in twenty minutes?

Look up the world record for a woman swimming a mile.

What’s the best way to disable a Ferrari and what tools would you need?

For extra credit: How long would it take? Could you hide the tools in your tuxedo? How quickly could the damage be repaired to make the car drivable?

If your hero breaks a leg in Chapter 1, how long will it be until he can run again? 

Sure he's tough, but he's not immortal. 

How far away can you plausibly kill your bad guy with a rifle if you’re a good shot?

For extra credit: What about with a 9-mm handgun? What about with a shotgun? 

If you’re trapped in a cave without water, what’s your best option while you wait for rescue?

For extra credit: Is it true you should drink your own urine, or is that a horrible mistake? How long can you survive in the absolute best case without water?

Build a New Habit

For the next 24 hours, keep track of the number of times you have a question. Don’t walk away from the question, even if it’s trivial. 

Ask the question. Ask Google and see what kind of answer you get. 

Get in the habit of asking Google whenever you have a question. It’ll make you a better writer. 

And you won’t feel dumb when you ask. You’ll feel smart when you learn the answer.
This article is reprinted by permission of the author.
Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 12,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.
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