Monday, May 11, 2015

Heavy Research by Cheryl Harper

"Write what you know." Everybody's heard the advice, right? I can't even imagine how dull my stories would be if I were limited to recreating my own experiences on the page. Emotional experiences, maybe. When it comes to love and loss and joy and fear and the emotions characters feel, I'm definitely writing what I know. Also, most of the clumsy, embarrassing, funny funny things in my stories have happened to a "friend." But I've never been a sheriff or a doctor. My first Heartwarming title, A Minute on the Lips, featured a chili cook-off champion. Seriously, winning a cooking competition is so far outside of my experience as to be fantasy. But that's the challenge in creating new characters and new stories. I learn something new with every book. Someday, I will dominate on Jeopardy.

I've always loved research, libraries, and creative assignments. In junior high, I had to write a travel diary on Barcelona. I sometimes wonder even now if my teacher was charmed by my over-the-top enthusiasm for the assignment. The other choice would be irritated, but I tend to go all out on things I enjoy. There were photos. So many photos. And when I discovered the travel book section of my library (around 910-920, I think), I fell in love. As a little girl, I checked out coffee-table sized photography books on Ireland and England and any place with castles. When I found the Fodor's travel guide to Spain, I was hooked. Barcelona became so real to me with itineraries and descriptions of food and hotels and museums and history. I have a book for every place I've visited and a few that I'm still dreaming of discovering. I still remember the joy of that school assignment.

So, when I started plotting a series of books for friends who hit the lottery (Lucky Numbers), I knew one of them had to dream of traveling the world. When I play "what if," the list of cities I plan to see in first-class style is long. I wouldn't have picked Peru as my first choice, either, but Stephanie learns, as I have in every trip I've ever taken, that the detours can be the most exciting. I researched Peruvian lizards, work visas, food, how to suture cuts, and flights from Texas to Lima. And I pulled out my trusty Fodor's guide. I'm so happy to have a solid reason for my hobby now!

Want to visit Peru yourself? Go and tell me alllll about it!
Want to read about Peru? Here's a book: Winner Takes All (Available June 1 but up for preorder)

Winning the lottery means finally living her dreams… 
Stephanie Yates isn't really sure she's ready to leave her hometown and see the world, but there's not much she can do about it now: her friends have sent her on her way! And her first stop is a village in the breathtaking mountains of Peru, where Daniel Lincoln, her lifelong crush, is setting up medical clinics. 

Stephanie thought she could hide her feelings for the hotshot doctor no problem, but Daniel has changed. And spending time with this strong, caring man helps her imagine a new life for herself, and for Daniel. That is, if he can start seeing her as more than just a friend….
Harlequin:::Amazon:::BN.com

24 comments:

  1. That's a beautiful cover for your new June release Cheryl Harper. Congratulations!! I love researching too, probably a little too much. I can research stuff to death and forget about my actual endeavor that took me to the research. I just love learning about new things. Google is like a trusted friend to me. I think Peru is a great, interesting setting. One of my favorite restaurants is a Peruvian spot we frequent called Pio Pio, and it has made me wonder a bit more about the culture there.

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    1. Thanks, Laurie! I've never visited a Peruvian restaurant. Food is always one of my top priorities when I'm researching new places!

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  2. Your cover is breathtaking. Can’t say that I’d be interested in actually traveling to Peru, but doing it while sitting in the easy chair in my living room sounds like great fun.

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    1. Thanks, Marion! I think it's a beautiful place, but there are so many beautiful places in the world to visit!

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  3. Cheryl, great post! Love research, too. I've wanted to see Peru ever since seventh grade when I did a report on the Incas. I was a rather "enthusiastic" student myself... Machu Picchu is on my bucket list!

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    1. Thanks, Carol! I'm so interested in Machu Picchu, but I'd have to do some serious training. I do think it would be amazing.

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  4. So agree about your cover with everyone else, and YES! I want to go to Peru! It was the Incas for me, too, Carol.

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    1. Thank you! Maybe we should all plan a trip!

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  5. Do you still have that diary? Take a picture of one of the pages. I'd love to see it.

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    1. I feel certain my mother held onto it for me, but finding it would be the challenge. I'd really like to see it again, too. I remember most the fun I had cutting and pasting the photos, dreaming about a faraway place.

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  6. Cheryl, You research the way most of us do. Although I have to say a very early book I wrote about a chili cookoff, I entered my husband in the big one in Terlingua, Texas so he could do research for me since I had to work. He loved it and they invited him back to sell the book when it came out--he had such fun. I loved your chili book. So looking forward to Peru.

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    1. THANK YOU! It's good to have a research partner. I have no desire to cook anything for any reason, but having a partner with hands-on experience would have been great!

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  7. I love to travel and I am intrigued by your book, Cheryl. Best wishes with your upcoming release of WINNER TAKES ALL!

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    1. Thanks, Kate! I love travel, too. Wish I could do more!

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  8. That is indeed one gorgeous cover! Congratulations, Cheryl, on your new release. I talked yesterday at length with a friend who just got back from Peru. She reached the top of Machu Picchu and says the trip was one of the best she's ever taken (she's a world traveler). I've been to Barcelona--and would go back again in a heartbeat. It's a wonderful city!

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    1. Thank you! Color me jealous that you've made it to Barcelona. It's still on my list of places to see. Maybe I'll get there someday! I should start brushing up on my Spanish, just in case.

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  9. Serious cover envy going on here... One of my favorite parts about writing is the stuff I learn while doing it.

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    1. I'm going to start a Google topics list with the next book (probably not, but I should) because it's so funny the paths I head down from one simple question.

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  10. I LOVE that cover, Cheryl! Peru's never been at the top of my list, but maybe it should be. If I'm plotting out a place i haven't been, I tend to actually "plan" the vacation and even find places to stay and things to do...gets me in the mind set. Until I can actually get there! Good luck with the new release!

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    1. Thanks, Anna! Part of my issue is being IN CONTROL, but it's also fun to anticipate the adventure.

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  11. Cheryl, I'm in love with that cover and the storyline! I'm so behind on reading, but this is one I can't miss. I'd love to go to Peru and so many other places...which is why I love settings in stories.

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    1. Thanks, Rula! It was a lot of fun to write. I hope it's as much fun to read.

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  12. I can hardly wait to dive into this one and travel with your characters! And you're so right...research is the foundation of any good story! GORgeous cover!

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