Today we celebrate another year of Mystery Mondays. Thank you to the contributing authors who make this series possible. And thanks to Rebecca Bradley for rounding out 2016 and sharing with us a unique way to research a novel.
I’m looking forward to another year of Mystery Mondays and a wonderful group of authors to meet and learn from.
All the best to everyone in 2017!
Before we get to Rebecca’s post, let me tell you a bit about her novel.
A rising death toll. A city in panic.
A young mother is found dead in her home with no obvious cause of death. As DI Hannah Robbins and her team investigate, it soon becomes clear that the woman is the first in a long line of murders by poison.
With the body count climbing, and the city of Nottingham in social meltdown, the team finds themselves in a deadly race against a serial killer determined to prove a point.
And Hannah finds herself targeting an individual with whom she has more in common than she could possibly know.
Over to Rebecca…
Using Google Alerts For Research by Rebecca Bradley
Using Google alerts for research…
I hadn’t thought of this until I was talking to a woman who specialised in a specific area that I was interested in for my current work in progress.
I’d emailed Jo, informed her of my interest and we agreed to meet in London for a bite to eat and a chat as she had a lot of information I needed. This was me researching my novel. Meeting people face to face. It’s the way I soak up and retain information. Some people retain better by reading, some by listening (audiobooks) some by doing (tying themselves up in the backs of vans to see how it works and feels – I actually read about a crime writer who did this!) and others, myself included, take on board information better by conversing. We all have a different style of learning. (If you Google learning styles, you will find a whole host of information on this subject and you can even take a test to find out what kind of learner you are, if this interests you of course!)
I had a great afternoon with Jo and came away with lots of useful information that will definitely make it into the novel, but not where you’d be able to see it. I also came away with a great tip that I hadn’t thought about for continued researching as I was writing.
Because she has an ongoing interest in her field, Jo wants to know about all new mentions, in whatever capacity it might be, of her chosen area, so she has Google alerts set up. When she said this, it was a lightbulb moment for me. Why couldn’t I use this? For this very subject that I’d been talking to Jo about and for other subject areas within the novel! I would have all up-to-date information at my fingertips.
Google alerts are when Google picks up a mention of whatever it is you’ve asked it to look out for, anywhere on the internet, so, news articles and blog posts etc. and sends you an alert with the headline and a couple of lines of what’s inside and a link.
So, when I arrived home, I set up alerts for Jo’s subject and two other subject areas. A tip for when you’re setting them up; don’t just use the one specific phrase you might think you need, consider if it could be called or reported as something else and create an alert for that as well. Cover your bases.
One of my alerts is quite rare and I don’t get many hits. One of my alerts brings me hits every day, as it’s for Moldova, and I just skim read it. Picking out the bits I think I’ll be interested in. But, I’d definitely say it was worth doing because I don’t know enough about any of the areas I set the alerts up for.
Having already written two novels and a novella I’m wondering why I didn’t figure this out sooner! No amount of research will keep you as up-to-date as what is coming in through the news on a day-to-day basis. You could miss an amazing new breakthrough or a weird and wonderful titbit that could be the icing on the cake of an already promising work in progress.
Do you use Google alerts when researching? Is it something you would now consider doing?
Who is Rebecca Bradley?
Rebecca Bradley is a retired police detective and lives in Nottinghamshire with her family and her two cockapoo’s Alfie and Lola, who keep her company while she writes. Rebecca needs to drink copious amounts of tea to function throughout the day and if she could, she would survive on a diet of tea and cake while committing murder on a regular basis.