Writing Research

There is little more that bothers me than when it is painfully obvious a writer has not done his or her research. False facts, filler (or lack of) detail because a subject is not well-known, and unconnected ideas can come screaming off a page at a reader. At least, they often do for me. Granted, a writer can fool a reader into believing the author knows all, and sometimes that can work to his or her advantage; however, that is very rare. More often than not, a reader will catch onto a false tune in a story.

For example, recently I was reading a book where the author had attempted to place her characters in Scotland and set up the book as a love story. Now, that seemed all fine and dandy to me until I got further into the book. Her time period jumped all over. The readers were never given a date, but the period clothes, government and historical set up, and much more did not connect. I had no idea what time period I was supposed to be imagining this book was taking place in. What really started to get my goat was how little the author actually knew about Scotland. It was like she just made up her own version of what she thought Scotland should be like. Coming from a family with a rich Scottish background, it started to grate at me when the author got the majority of Scottish traditions wrong–the book even went as far to declare that the main female character remembered dancing every year on August Fourth to celebrate Scotland’s independence. What? As much as I wish Scotland had an independence day, that simply isn’t so. I still have no idea where the author got that information. I even tried looking it up to see if I was somehow wrong. There were so many other inconsistencies and great lack of needed details for plot points that I couldn’t connect to or feel for the characters. I shut down before the end of the book, and sadly, I still have not finished it. The main plot (which was constantly strayed from) couldn’t even hold my interest to get me to the end.

I am not going to say that I am an amazing researcher when it comes to books. I get my information wrong, more often than I would like to admit, but I recognize how important doing research is. After all, we cannot write what we do not know.

Therefore, when I have no clue what I am writing about, I turn to any and every resource I can. I have to know what I am writing about or else my readers will not be able to follow my story. It has to be believable and relateable, and that means I need facts.

Raychel Rose recently posted a wonderful article on her blog: For Writers: How to Research (with Free Resources). Talk about a golden field of resources for research! She had a lot of great tips for writers. These can be wonderful for writers to get solid facts on a subject.

Yeah, how many times has something like that ^^^ happened to other writers out there? Whereas statistics, facts, and references are great, I have also found that sometimes I need the real thing. I need more than just information, I need to observe and experience as many things as I can so I can have a stronger point of view in writing. I want detail, real detail!

Nothing can bring an event to life for a reader like describing a personal experience can. I have found my writing can become stronger the more I experience life and what I am researching. I had my first anxiety attack last year. I have had friends who have had anxiety, but the most I could grasp was listening to their experiences and trying to understand how anxiety attacks can affect different individuals. After my own anxiety attack, my descriptions became that much more clear, which has been very helpful in Fire Mark with the main character, Muriel. *SPOILER!*

Another example for how important real life experiences can be for research would be swordplay. I write a lot of fantasy, so many of my characters fight with a bow and arrow, staffs, swords, and so on. I learned archery at a young age from my dad, and my brother loves to hunt with a bow and arrows, so I have felt pretty confident in describing archery in my books (I still look up extra information though.). I can’t say I have had a lot of experience with staffs, but I have had some, and I have friends who are great for information. Other medieval-type weapons I mostly do research for, but personal experience at Ren fairs have saved me. It also helps to have an engineer as a husband who has built trebuchets and can give me background information on how and why something works. So, as far as swordplay comes in, I have had little to no experience with it until recently.

I have researched swordplay, types of swords, technique, and much more via books and the internet. Watching youtube videos on the subject has also been great. It wasn’t until two of my very good friends decided to take up fencing that I really got to experience what it was like to use a sword. Not only that, but I learned technique, more than just foot placement, but a lot on defense, how to hold a sword so it balanced to my body type, and how to find an opening. I will never forget what it felt like the first time my borrowed blade was struck so hard that it made my wrist numb and sent my arm and blade flying down to the side. I didn’t drop the sword, so I’m proud of that, but it definitely left me open for a kill. That is a terrifying and vulnerable feeling. It is one I still cannot get over.

What I am really getting at with all these examples is that research is vital to a story. It connects ideas, characters, places, events, and makes them real for a reader. Often times, I have multiple tabs, books, and other resources pulled out for just one idea. the more a writer knows about a subject, the better that writer’s story becomes. Not only that, but it is exhilarating to learn more on a subject or a subject one would never think to research. For myself, there is hardly anything more satisfying than searching the world over for ideas.

For other tips and tricks on writing and research, I have other great links pinned to my “Writing” board on Pinterest. Great website for writing and research, Pinterest. And there are many more out there!

Writing and Book Covers

As many of you know, I enjoy writing. I may not make many posts on social media or even my own blog, but that’s because I like a different kind of writing. I write fantasy.

I have published a few poems and a short story (which actually needs to be updated) here. I also like to free-write on the forum along with a few other forum boards. It’s a way of expression, and it is fun to see where my imagination can take me.

Since I was in elementary school, I’ve also been writing books. Some of them . . . will never see the light of day, if I can help it. others, I am quite anxious for the day when I can submit them to a publishing company, and I feel like I have been getting close with one book in particular.

Recently, I have been working on a work of fiction dealing with magic and dragons. It is called Fire Mark. During one of my hunts for inspiration, I found a gorgeous image on Pinterest. It was perfect. It captured the image of the dragon and main character almost exactly. I was floored. Through a lot of hunting, I was able to track down the artist of the image: John Park. I want to give a shout-out to him for allowing me to have his art as the cover for Fire Mark.

I am excited to show a little sneak-peak of the cover and show off Park’s amazing work.

Park has done concept work for Transformers 4, Godzilla, and much more. Check his amazing art out: http://www.jparked.com/ and https://www.patreon.com/jparked?ty=h

More sneak peaks of Fire Mark will be coming soon. I may even post bits and pieces about other books I am working on. If you want to see more of my brainstorming ideas and some of the tips from other authors that have helped me, check out my pinterest boards “Writing” and “Art & Inspiration.”

And About a Year Later . . .

So it’s been close to a year since I posted. How ’bout that. Guess I need to be better with this, if not for personal amusement. Let’s have an update, shall we?

I have a year left in school before I can officially become a teacher, which is incredibly exciting! And yes, that’s right; I am going into education. I don’t know if I have posted that on here or not yet. It has been a fun ride, and it will continue to be so. I have a joke that I will be an eternal student, which suits me just fine. I love learning, so what better place to continuously learn than in a classroom?

Jason still has a little ways to go in school. He is changing his major. We’re still maaaadly in love–as we should be.

Eiros is still here, too. He’s gotten a little bit bigger, and he has been learning fast. If any of you follow my instagram (jlsaunders17), you know he gives kisses, gives high fives, turns around, is starting to dance, and does flips (his favorite trick). He’s even starting to say hello. He keeps us on our toes.

A lot has been on my mind with this new Spring season. A LOT. I don’t want to throw all my readers into my contemplative mind, but I will say my mind won’t stop spinning, which is good because I’ve learned a lot and grown. This past semester has been one of the hardest we have ever had to deal with. I won’t get into all the drama because it’s not worth digging it up, but I will say I have grown more and learned more this year alone than I thought possible. This semester has pushed us to our limits, but our limits have expanded. If there is one thing I have truly learned, it is that trials make us stronger. I know that is cliche, but life is one big cliche if you think about it.

I will add that trials only make us stronger if we are willing to learn from them. We have to allow ourselves to grow, develop, and learn from the hardships of life. When we do this, we can draw closer together as people or find betterment in ourselves. So don’t give up. Hold on to the ones close to you that you love and who love you. Keep your faith. And don’t forget to pray. After a semester of blood, sweat, and tears (literally), I know my family, hard work, and willingness to pray and find answers from Heavenly Father are what got me through this semester, and it will get me through the rest. With that, more adventures will come, creativity will abound, and I’ll be a better person through it all.


Yes, things are looking bright here! It’s been a wonderful summer. There is a lot to catch up on.

First off, I should announce a congratulation to my sister-in-law. She was sealed to her husband in the Brigham City Temple this last may. Woot!!

Jenn and Nick

In lieu of weddings, we have also been busy with summer classes, work, traveling up to Bear Lake, and decorating the apartment. It’s felt like home since we’ve been here, but I love the little homey touches and updates we get to make with it. Jason and I just finished our Summer semester and are moving on to the new Fall semester. We may have a load of classes, but I am starting to feel closer to graduation than I have before. I’ve also gotten into wreath making and have been working on my art. You can check out my art and wreaths and the pricing on my FB and on my Pinterest. I’ve also updated my poetry section on the blog. Don’t forget to check out the changes and updates on the forum. With all the hubbub that’s been going on, Jason and I still felt like something was missing. We decided that before the Fall semester started, we needed to get a bird. That’s right, a bird.

My lutina cockatiel, Kino, of +15 years passed away this last winter. I’ve missed her very much, and it hasn’t felt as bright in our apartment as it used to. We didn’t decide to get another bird to replace her, but we both missed the companionship. I knew I couldn’t do another cockatiel, so I went bird hunting. For months, I researched birds and searched for breeders. We had it down to a parotlett and a green cheek conure. That’s when we found Rochelle. She’s a bird breeder in Sandy. we asked her many questions before finally going to meet her and the birds. We had initially planned to only check out the conures to see if they would be the right bird choice for us. However, once we got there, we knew the conures beat out the parotletts. The conures were all very sweet and had hand training. There were many to choose from, and it took us a long time to narrow down to the right bird.

We thought we would have Rochelle keep track of the bird we liked. Jason and I were still trying to be good pet buyers by keeping our options open and looking for other birds. However, there was one little conure in particular that stood out to us. Jason and I looked at each other at one point and knew that was the bird we needed. So, we payed Rochelle, and took our eight-week-old green cheek home. Luckily, I had a cage ready, but we didn’t have food or a name. We weren’t thinking we were going to walk out with a bird when we went to check them out. Rochelle came to our rescue by providing us with food for a while and a little box to take him home in. We later bought food and toys for him, and we found a name the next day.

We decided to name our conure Eiros. Eiros is Gaelic and means “bright.” We thought it was fitting with his colors.


He’s been a joy to have. He’s been with us for a week. He’s a quick learner, he’s curious, and he’s good with people–albeit he is a little shy at times, but that’s endearing!

Yes, things are definitely bright here, and I expect them to become even brighter.




Cooking up a Storm and That Little Thing We Call Love

Lately, I’ve been cooking up a storm. And I need to post all of the delicious foods I’ve made! It’s been a while since I have posted anything about food or updated my recipes. That needs to change. I’ve posted pictures of the lovely goodness all over my tumblr/twitter, and I’ve promised to get the recipes up, and I am behind. However, some of that changes today.

One of the main foods I have been baking lately are pies. Yum! I’ve found I’m quite the pie fanatic. And, lo and behold, I have finally posted one of my pie filling recipes. It’s in the Dessert page, but here’s a quick link: Unapple Pie Filling. I’ve also posted two other recipes for Nutella Brownies and Fleur de Sel Caramel (a fancy term for Salted Caramel.) So there we go. Three new recipes. :) And I will have more to come.

I could say I’m making excuses when I tell the lovely world-wide-web that I have been busy, but it is true. There is a lot that comes with being recently married. It’s different from being single (obviously), and I don’t have time for things I used to. But I’m happy with all of that. Now, there is a home and another person to tend to, which I love. Laxer-Bro is also a wonderful help. He’s also very fun to cook with.

There are so many other things I’ve found are worth being married for. Sadly, much of the world these days votes against marriage. I think it needs to be the other way around. Yes, being married isn’t easy, but when did not being married suddenly become worth it? “It takes two to make a thing go right,” to quote Seduction. This is true. Working together with my own spouse on everything has made our relationship stronger, our home happier, and helps us in many  ways. I can honestly say that I love him more now that I did when I married him. And I only want to keep loving him more.

Call me a hopeless romantic, but when two people are dedicated to each other, that’s true love.

Marriage has been on my mind a lot lately due to my own recent marriage, my birth-sister’s marriage coming up, a *SPOILER ALERT!* sister-in-law’s proposal coming up (She knows nothink!), and some of my friends and loved ones finding themselves in the middle of divorce. it has struck me as to how important human connections are and how important it is to make relationships last and work. The adverse affects aren’t worth the later option. As human beings, we are given the capacity to love endlessly and tirelessly. So let’s not forget that. There are a lot of other ways Laxer-Bro and I have found to make our marriage and our relationship stronger. One day I may write a whole blog post on this, but for now, I’ll leave it to these few, simple truths.

I still plan to post more on our wedding and on other fun things, but for now I will direct you to my wedding tumblr. I don’t think I have posted my tumblr dedicated to all things wedding, but here it goes! When I was looking for ideas as to what I wanted for my own wedding, I realized I needed a space to put all of the images and ideas I liked. That place became my own tumblr wedding blog. Now that I’m through with my wedding, and with more weddings coming up, I’ve also kept up my wedding blog in hopes of helping others become inspired. So, enjoy! Sw33taxionFairyTale.

Wedding Day Perspectives

Hello, everyone!

So, it may be a bit longer before I get the time to comment on my own wedding, but I thought you might enjoy seeing bits of it via pictures from our photographer and videos from our videographer. They’re both amazing people, and if you’re in the Utah area, feel free to check them out! They do more than just weddings. :)

Our photographer was Mandy Harris. She’s wonderful, creative, has an artistic eye, and captured everything I could ever want and more of our wedding. She took our engagements and my bridals as well. Bellow is a link to her blog, website, and then a host of our pictures. :)

Illumine Photography’s Blog

Illumine Photography

Our Engagements

Our Wedding Day

Our Wedding Album

I pour over our album almost daily. :)

Now, on to Ashley Leishman’s work and take on our wedding day. I’m not going to post the whole video, but I will put up what she had put up on her Youtube account for us to see and share. :) Enjoy!

Ashley’s Web Page

Ashely’s Blog

Ashely’s Youtube

Here are some snippets of our wedding video–coming to you in two parts!:


Delayed Response

Hey, everyone!

I know I have pretty much been a dead beat since my last post, but lets face it, weddings and school take up a lot of time!

I will be making a post soon about how I found my wedding dress. I promised that post a long time ago. I will also be posting other fun things about Laxer Bro’s and my wedding as we go. :) I’ll give updates and make posts from there.

Until then, I just wanted to give a little thank you to all of my supporters. ^_~


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