I’m writing this from my sister’s computer in Oregon. Gotta love sis. Shari was my tour guide along with her husband Neil and my mom Ruth last year when I needed to research my southern Oregon series. Kudos must also go to my hubby Jim who chauffeured all of us in our rented car.

At that time, we visited all three places where my stories were located. Ashland, Coos Bay, and Shady Cove/Crater Lake. It was fun visiting with my family while working, and claiming that trip on my taxes was the icing on the cake.

I’ve written the first two of the series. and found that research to be invaluable. The smells in Ashland’s Lithia Park, the feel of the air on the coast, the vast beauty of Crater Lake…all accomplished by physically being there.

This year, besides wanting to see my 88 year-old mom, I wanted to take the opportunity to visit Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene. The predatory bird sanctuary is the setting for my third book, but I’m going use my writer’s Free Pass card and set it in a picturesque little town (Shady Cove) just miles from Crater Lake. We’ll be going there the end of next week, so I won’t be blogging about it here, but please watch for updates at kathleenekovach.blogspot.com and Facebook.

If you’re able to go to the places you’re writing about, it can enhance your story so much. But if not, the internet is such a fabulous resource. I’ve not only checked out obvious sites, but also blogs of people with the same passions as my character. For the first book, God Gave the Song, I found blogs of people who raise alpacas. Some of my scenes in that book came straight from those blogs, including a game where a cria (baby alpaca) loved to play a game of “let’s bounce off mommy.” For the second book, Crossroads Bay, I found sites dedicated to clubs focused on historic tall ships since my heroine is related to Sir Frances Drake, and her great-great grandfather was a shipbuilder who lost a ship just off the coast. (Yes, modern day treasure hunts and pirates ensue!) And for Fine Feathered Friend, I became a Facebook “fan” of the raptor center and have gleaned much from the people who post their status.

Look for the different ways to research your novels. Think outside the box. Your stories will come to life if you visit your settings, but if that’s impossible try to tap into people with the same passions as your characters.

God Gave The Song should be available soon at http://www.heartsongpresents.com. Read about two people with abandonment issues and the melodious alpaca who helps them heal.

Kathleen E. Kovach is the Rocky Mountain Zone Director for ACFW. Her Web site is www.KathleenEKovach.com