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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Research and Writing by JL Oiler

Prolific novelist JL Oiler shares some cautionary advice on story preparation with us. She also shares an excerpt from her latest book.

Research and Realism in the Romance World… JL Oiler

I am one of those readers who devour books that I enjoy. There is nothing like climbing into a story regardless of sub genre and being able to connect with the characters. However, I can’t help but notice that with the increase of availability of reads due to the e-book revolution, that a great number of authors fail to truly think or research the topics/genres they write. I truly believe to grab the author that a story requires elements of realism regardless whether you write paranormal, BDSM, historic, Sci-Fi, or any other of the zillion sub genres out there.

Honestly, if you’re going to give me a story about Rodeo then you should research the topic. Learn as much as possible so you’re not just blowing smoke. Believe me readers can peg a fake. It only takes a few careless mistakes to have it all come crashing around you. The same could be said about locations. If you select a real setting, you should at least checkout a map. Nothing worse than discovering the writer has made Garden City Kansas, ocean front property.

Time seems to be the biggest mistake made by authors. I once read a historical book that was great other than one sticking point for me. She had referred to a zoo in that country a good 75 years before the first opened. A simple mistake easily corrected with just a bit of research.

Well enough of my rant, on to something filled with a load of unrealism (I do love paranormal!). My latest release….

Title: Dead Force Rising

Publisher: Rebel Ink Press

Cover Art: Carl Franklin


Sergeant John Rose planned to make the military his life, at least until an eye condition threatened to rob him of that goal. Now the Army has another plan for him and four other soldiers that find themselves in the same boat. Together they will form the government’s latest weapon in a war John didn't even know they were fighting. A war on the monsters most people believe are just a figment of their imagination.

Thorn Grant lost her only brother a year ago when he was serving in Afghanistan. Now the paramedic finds herself doing a bit of civilian recon to help support his widow and small daughter. However, being a part-time spy is one job that isn't nearly as simple as she thought. After her mark catches her watching him, Thorn discovers not only is there more going on than she suspected, but that she has a connection with a certain Sergeant that goes far beyond just a physical attraction.


Thorn looked at her watch and frowned. She still had another four hours until the end of her shift. She’d worked three days straight on the 3pm-3am shift and was anxious to call it a night, not that it had anything to do with it being Wednesday, well almost Thursday, and her having the next three days off. The radio squelch made her screw the lid back on her bottle of water and head for the ambulance. At least a call would make the time go a bit faster.

“Unit three respond, alleyway behind First, and Gordian Street South, report man down,” the dispatcher announced across the units speakers as both she and the driver fastened their seat belts.

Great, Thorn thought to herself as she grabbed the jump kit she kept between the seat and her driver, Keith Boyd, as he pulled out onto the ice-covered streets. It had been snowing off and on for the past few days but tonight Mother Nature seemed to be throwing everything she had on the roads. Most likely, this call involved yet another person succumbing to the bitter weather and was another slip and fall on an icy patch of ground. She’d taken in three such cases in the past five hours.

As they approached the scene, however, Thorn noted that no one was around the body, which was lying face down in a snowdrift the wind had created alongside a decaying stone wall. She thought it strange that the caller didn't hang around. When Keith pulled about twenty feet away, Thorn climbed out the door and headed for the body as the Keith went to grab the cot and some warm blankets from the back.

The bitter, cold wind cut through Thorn's uniform, making it feel as though she were wearing nothing at all. Kneeling beside the body she could now confirm as male, she felt the victim's neck for a pulse. Feeling nothing, she withdrew her hand, grabbed the body by the shoulders, and rolled the man face up. The site caught her off guard and Thorn stumbled back landing on her ass in the snow. The man’s entire neck had been torn open, his dead eyes locked wide in what appeared to be absolute horror.

A loud thump and yelp from Keith drew her attention from the body. Jumping back to her feet, she hurried around the ambulance fearing he might have fallen on the icy street. Instead, she came to a sliding stop at the back of the unit with her eyes wide. Keith was on the ground about five feet from the back doors of the ambulance, her jump bag lying on the ground, its contents spilling across the snow. Her driver lay sprawled across the cold ground, eyes staring into the sky, a silent scream on his face as a man dressed in jet black leaned over his throat. Blood turned the snow around Keith a bright red in the flickering lights of the dim street lamp.

Thanks for having me. It was an honor! Folks can stop by and visit with me at my site or look me up on facebook!


  1. Research is definitely important.

    It's also one of the banes of my writerly existence...

  2. That was an exciting excerpt. You are so right about research. I love researching a new topic (right now it's forestry and the timber industry) but it's also a danger to over-research and bog down the story with unnecessary detail.

  3. I love to put together a town, city or country. And you're so right, you have to have some of the facts that go along with the area. Things like the landscape and of course the flavor of the residents.

  4. I preach this daily to writers who want to publish- not knowing your subject is like trying to swim when you don't know how. And it makes the story cheap.

  5. Hi, Gary,

    I'll be glad to offer a blog on SF sometime. I agree, it is the best or greatest genre, though some folks may heatedly disagree with me. Why is it the best? Because it contains all the rest and is the most imaginatively rich.

    JL's comments on research and accuracy are spot-on. Even one error can ruin your chances with a reader. And that applies in all genres. If you write fantasy, for example, you have to be internally consistent and not break rules you've set up with the reader. I've written stories that take place in Nigeria over a hundred years ago, and boy, did I have to do research on that country historically.

  6. Have to agree on the research. I write historical fiction as well as SF. If you get it wrong, it shows. Has somebody told you about the tiny typo? sight, not site caught her off-guard.