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Friday, May 7, 2010

Welcome Author Lorrie Struiff


Thank you so much for inviting me to your site.


My biggest concern when I write a story is my author credibility.

Can you imagine reading a sentence where a plain clothes police detective doesn’t yell “Police!” before he pulls his weapon? Or a fisherman who used a canoe to go Tarpon fishing on the ocean? Or, have you read about the private eye using a cell phone in the 1950’s?

Don’t laugh. I’ve seen it with beginning writers in critique workshops. I’ve read it written by some very good authors, but not quite so blatant—or funny.

Research is a must to an author. Make a big boo-boo and I’m sure a reader will not want to read another of your books. You have become a “lacking in credibility” author.

A historical fiction novelist must know the time period of which she pens. She must know the clothes, the speech, the manners, buildings, the modes of travel and so much more. Days upon days are devoted to research down to the last detail.

Is all of this research used in the novel? Probably not. But the author may need a scrap of that information for certain scenes and sentences in the novel. So she must be prepared by making copious notes that fill a whole notebook for reference—just in case. No. She doesn’t want to give you a history lesson, just get her facts straight so the Duke doesn’t admire the gal wearing a mini-skirt at ye olden tavern.

I bet more authors use Google than those in any other field of work.

We write questions to the FBI. Yes, they have a question site for authors.

We have “Ask a cop.” “Ask a doctor.”

Hmm. I need to know the symptoms for Yellow Fever for my hero who is hacking his way with a machete through a jungle in South America. Yikes, if I give him Yellow Fever, I better know how to cure him. My hero has to live to save the damsel in distress.

Maps are great. I need to know the travel distance between Paris and London. Where is Tasmania? Canada you say? That doesn’t sound right.

I want to poison a character. What do I use? I know, I’ll find a garter snake and put it in his bed. Nope, won’t work. No venom. The snake may give him a heart attack though when he pulls the bedcovers back. Ew, good thought if the guy is a hundred years old.

Sure, Googling can’t answer all our questions. So what do we do next? Go on the great hunt for a person in that field of expertise.

No, I don’t purposely get a speeding ticket so I can talk to a policeman. I casually ask my friends, “Hey, do you know anyone who is a doctor, lawyer, Indian Chief?” Invariably I can count on my friends. They give me the email address, or telephone number, of their source. I prepare questions and either email or call. I’m always surprised at how willingly these people help when I tell them I’m researching facts for my next novel. I once called my car mechanic and asked him to describe the undercarriage of a pickup truck so I would know where my heroine could hide a plastic wrapped document without it getting torn to shreds. Now that’s research—and a great mechanic.

What do we do when all of the above fail to answer that one nagging question left hanging?

Well, if I know any authors personally such as a mystery writer, or a historical fiction writer, I could ask them for help. I’m sure their research is extremely comprehensive.

What? No one can answer my question. Oh my gosh. What do I do now?

I do what any good author would do. I delete the scene and rewrite another that will not make me sound “lacking in credibility.”



When I wrote “Gypsy Crystal,” I wanted a fast moving thriller with a touch of all the right ingredients. I stirred in a bit of gypsy custom and lore, added a dash of romance with a yummy hunk, and then spiced it up with a little paranormal twist.
Let me offer a blurb,

Rita Moldova’s best-kept secret, a crystal amulet that shows her the last image a victim had seen when they died and has helped propel her career as a homicide detective – until prostitutes start dropping.

A ritual killer dubbed the Ripper by the media is terrorizing her town and it’s Rita’s job to help end his killing spree. The problem – Rita’s mystical amulet, passed down through her Roma bloodline, has failed for the first time in memory to do its job – and it’s making it a real bitch for Rita to do hers.

To make matters worse, the FBI has sent in hunky agent, Matt Boulet, to lead the case – and Rita finds herself attracted to him.

When Rita visits her mother – a gifted seer in her own right – and her uncle to glean what she can about the history of the amulet and the lore of their clan, she learns much more than she bargained for, and the truth is too much for her to swallow.

As the investigation continues, Rita learns she can’t deny the lore of the ancients, or her growing feelings for Matt Boulet.


Here is an excerpt from Gypsy Crystal I hope you will enjoy.

A piercing scream echoed from the alley between Red’s Bar and The Totem Pole. Adrenaline shot through her veins. Jesus, it’s the Ripper!

Rita yelled for Sully, folded her fingers around the Glock in her purse, and headed toward the mouth of the dark alleyway. She bent low near the entrance, then eased around the corner. A cat yowled, then leaped to the ledge above her head. Rita jerked and flattened her back against the cold bricks of the building. Tiny feet scurried across her shoe. She gasped and kicked out her foot. The glare of headlights behind her swept the overflowing garbage cans, creating a macabre dance of shadow and light against the walls. Brakes squealed. A car door opened. She didn’t turn to look, instead she hugged the rough bricks and slid further into the alley’s depth hoping to spot the Ripper. Quickly, she hunkered down behind a trashcan, the rancid smell of old grease turned her stomach.

“I’m here,” Sully said, crouching behind his open door, the car’s headlights left on. “Wait, Rita. Boulet told us not to go it alone.” Sully tipped a flashlight beam around his door to sweep over the trashcans, the brick walls, and then his light flashed on the green dumpster twenty feet ahead on the left. He lowered the beam to the cement. A woman’s bare legs protruded from behind the large green bin.

Rita’s eyes darted from side to side, watching for any slight movement in the shadows. Nothing. Every nerve in her body strung tight, she bent low to approach the dumpster.

Tires skidded behind Sully’s car. A door opened, and running footsteps approached her. A firm hand folded over her pistol while the other held her arm in a vice-like grip. She yanked away, spun, and looked up into heated eyes. “Don’t ever hold onto my gun arm like that again.”

“Then next time follow orders,” said Matt.


I live in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania. Many of the locations I wrote about in Gypsy are copied from the areas around me. I used false names of course, but if anyone from my county reads the book, I’m sure they’ll recognize a few spots.

The quaint old century mall I used is now torn down to the foundation. The river road is real and just as scary as in the book. Not for the faint of heart.

Gypsy Crystal is available at Amazon, Fictionwise and Eternal Press for kindle and e-book readers. Print copies should be available any day now.

All the reviews I have received so far are winners. Check out the reviews and buy sites on my website. http://struiff.wordpress.com/


Lorrie said...

Hello Bryanna,
Great to be here.
I do want to inform the readers that, yay, Gypsy Crystal is now available in print.
You can order from the Eternal Press site or Amazon.
Thank you

Anonymous said...

Hi Lorrie, I loved your article credibility. Parts of it made me laugh. I agree with everything you said. You just have to use the tools available to you to research, no matter what they may be.

You also did a great job with Gypsy Crystal. You must know the blurb by heart.

Congrats on your book being in print.


Margaret West said...

Hi Lorrie
I research to death, but whatabout publisher blips!! Years ago, my first ever publication came out - I was so excited - told everyone - git the book, opened it up..... only to find the main character 'brian' had somehow had his name changed to BRAIN throughout the book!!!!!! Now that was a blip!!!!! lol
Great interview. LOVED it.

Lorrie said...

Thanks Cathy,
Oh,Margaret, that is so funny now, but I bet you cried at the time. I would have. First book and such a boo-boo.

Cate Masters said...

Great post Lorrie! I agree, mistakes take away from the novel as a whole. You don't want readers laughing unless it's intentional!
Much success with Gypsy Crystal.

Marva said...

At least 50% of my writing time is spent on research. If something you find on-line is especially weird, be sure to find a second source.

Be sure you don't have anachronisms if you're doing anything historical. If you're book is set in 1750 and you mention something not invented until 1751 (or later), some sharp-eyed reader will spot it.

Great job on Gypsy Crystal, Lorrie!

Yolanda Sfetsos said...

Hi Lorrie! Very interesting post. I agree, it's all in the details. I often find myself over-researching, if you know what I mean. It's essential for me to understand all the details, even if some of them are left in the background. :)

Your book sounds great, and what a lovely cover!

maria said...

Hey, Lorrie,
You are so right about the research needed --- I read recently two hours research to every hour writing. That sounds a tad excessive --- unless I'm researching the best cheesecake or chocolate mousse.

And you're also so right about putting down a book and never picking one up by that author again. I remember getting really involved in a thriller and something struck me as odd so I went to check it out. The author was well-known and totally wrong. That cooled my interest in finding out the "who" in the "who-done-it." It went straight back to the library.

It's good to see Gypsy Crystal never suffers from this failing. I read it as much to get background on the Roma as to follow the mystery. Very nice job. Glad to see you practice what you preach.

Congrats on getting the book out in print.

This should ensure even more well-deserved success!

Darla said...

Hey Lorrie,

Great article!
I remember one of the group assignments we did was to write something out of the norm. When picking out of the hat, I closed my eyes and said, "Please, just don't let me pick Historical or Sci-fi."
Lucky me got Historical. I think we had to write one page. I can't remember how much research I did for that one tiny article. And it was because I wanted it to be accurate and credible. Even the dialog. I watched tons of Gone with the Wind clips on Youtube.

Congrats with Gypsy Crystal coming out in paperback! Remeber, when I get my copy, I want it signed! :)

All my best!

BK said...

Great post Lorrie! I loved the mechanic, and that does make him the best :). I hope authors do take it to heart that research and credibility are key in writing a book.

Franny Armstrong said...

Awesome blog, Lorrie! I'm an author of paranormal romantic suspense and write about cops, Private investigators and heroines who never give up in the face of the obstacles the villains throw at them.

I totally agree that research is the ultimate tool for credibility and a MUST for writing.

Thanks for the post. It's set me on another round of research. lol
Franny Armstrong-ParaNovelGirl

Lorrie said...

Research is such a "must do" for novels. I think I spend as much time on information sites as I do writing. lol. Of course, the info is so interesting I do get carried away.
Thanks so much for visiting and I hope a few more friends stop by today.

lois said...

Thanks so much for the info on researching for a story. You make some valid points about credibility. By the way, read Gypsy and LOVED it. I look forward to reading more of your work!