Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How to Conduct Research for Your Novel by Nancy Klann-Moren and Giveaway!

Nancy Klann-Moren presents her debut novel...

Release Date: 12 November 2012
Publisher: Anthonyann Books (self-published)
Genre: Literary, Historical, Civil Rights Movement

In the small town of Hadlee, Mississippi, during the 1980s, Jason Lee Rainey struggles to find his way amongst the old, steadfast Southern attitudes about race, while his friendship with a black boy, Samson Johnson, deepens.

By way of stories from others, Jason Lee learns about his larger-than-life father, who was killed in Vietnam. He longs to become that sort of man, but doesn't believe he has it in him.

In The Clock Of Life, he learns lessons from the past, and the realities of inequality. He flourishes with the bond of friendship; endures the pain of senseless death; finds the courage to stand up for what he believes is right; and comes to realize he is his father's son.

This story explores how two unsettling chapters in American history, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Vietnam War, affect the fate of a family, a town, and two boyhood friends.

Click "Read more" to learn what kind of research Nancy did for her book, and to win a finished print copy!

The Difference Between the Virtual and Tangible: My Research in The Clock of Life

Hello all, and thank you Karielle, for the opportunity to guest post for Books à la Mode.

I stated publicly on the acknowledgements page of my novel, "And I am especially grateful for Google." It's right there, for everyone to see.

Googling shaved at least 8,760 hours off my research time while writing The Clock Of Life, (yes, I just you-know-what'd to find out how many hours are in a year). It helped garner nuggets of inspiration and informed me of some critical points about the Civil Rights Movement, and it introduced me to Amalgamation cake. When my protagonist's mama got her new job with the Diversity Coalition of Legal Assistance League, as a transcriber, she took a cake into town every week for, "a little employment insurance, something to sweeten 'em up." She claimed it couldn't hurt.

However, I believe it's the walk-around-and-do-something research that infuses the writing with authenticity.

While I was comfortable with my characters and the setting, like the house they lived in, I felt unsure about the actual town itself. So unsure, I took a road trip through the back roads of Georgia, Alabama, and through Mississippi, to take in the spirit of the many small towns that collectively breathed life into my town of Hadlee.

In Newton, Mississippi, I sat across the street looking at the blue and orange Rexall Drug store:

"What's goin' on, son?"

"Nothin', I guess." I looked across the street at the blue and orange Rexall sign and thought they should change it to "Wrecks All".
One day I cooked a pot of chitlins and hog maws, even after being warned about the smell. I sure garnered a great deal of respect for the process of cleaning all that body waste and slimy stuff off the chitlins. I learned it's a lot of work, and anyone who puts in that much time and effort must have grown up loving it. I thought the dish would take on a bigger role in my book, but it got little more than a mention:
Food for the grieving covered every surface of the kitchen. Cast-iron pots of chitlins and hog maws boiled on the stove. The counter, usually tidy and scrubbed clean by Mrs. Johnson, was packed with mounds of fried chicken and catfish piled on platters.
I spent an hour sniffing Jergens Original Body Lotion to come up with a description of the smell:
Mama leaned down and whispered, “No need to worry, Jason Lee. Everything’ll be fine, son.” I breathed in the familiar almond-cherry scent of her lotion.
Some things I knew first-hand, like the time one takes their first swig of moonshine, hooch, the devils drink:
"You gonna drink that or what?" I couldn't come up with one more excuse to prolong my reason for being there. "Sure am." I brought it up to my lips. "This stuff smells like my mama's nail polish remover."

"Just drink."

Not one second after I took my first swig a fire hit the back of my throat, then roared through my chest and settled like smoldering embers in my belly. "Tastes as bad as it smells," I said between chokes.
And, I had my husband tell me the story about the time he got his first suit, and the unfortunate instructions his mother gave the tailor. To go further with this would be a spoiler. Those who have already read the book know the outcome of that one.

Yes, I agree with novelist Roman Payne when he said, “Who's to say what a 'literary life' is? As long as you are writing often, and writing well, you don't need to be hanging out in libraries all the time. Nightclubs are great literary research centers. So is Ibiza!" Yes, Mr. Payne, and dive bars, and Reggae festivals, and the south of France.

About the Author

I tried my hand at writing short fiction while traveling for work in advertising and marketing, as a creative outlet on long plane rides. That led to me signing up for writing classes, writers' conferences, and local workshops—my goal: to create unique stories told in a distinctive voice. My short stories have garnered awards and publication in anthologies. The newly published collection of stories is titled Like the Flies on the Patio.

Short stories were my primary genre until one morning while in a workshop at The Santa Barbara Writers' Conference, I read an excerpt. When I finished, the instructor, Sid Stebel, asked what I was doing for the next couple years, because, in his words, what I had written wasn't a short story, it was novel. After a good deal of foot dragging, I realized the subject matter was so important I took up the challenge and penned the novel, The Clock of Life.

I am now working on a new novel loosely based on the time my friend and I found an old diary in an antique shop and took a road trip to find the lady who wrote in the book. Their names won't be Thelma and Louise, but the novel will take them cross country and I forsee them getting into all sorts of trouble.


Want the chance to win a finished print copy of The Clock of Life? One lucky Books à la Mode winner will! To enter, all you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

For extra entries, answer Nancy's question in a comment:
If you were writing a book, what would be your ideal location for your "tangible" research?
I would love to do "research" the gorgeous hillside houses of Santorini—what a breezy, tropical place to set a novel in! What about you?
Don't forget the terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the author—a huge thank you to Nancy!
Giveaway ends July 4th, 2013 at 11:59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only. Sorry, rest of the world! Check out my sidebar to enter current giveaways that are open worldwide.
Although I do select winners, and I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤ Plus you get extra entries ;)
Good luck!