Author Smackdown: Writers get it wrong!

Guest post by Rolynn Anderson.rolynn_small

Writing is a humbling career.  Every day I make presumptions and end up red-faced because I was wrong-sometimes horribly wrong-about my reckonings.  FAINT, my sixth novel, released this week, is living proof of author smackdown.  I took on Alzheimer’s, blindness, embalming, burial rituals, organ transplants, and clairvoyant dogs in FAINT, third in the funeral planner suspense series.  No wonder the novel took me two years to write!  My research on all these areas made me woozy with revelations.


Let’s take embalming.  Better yet, you take embalming.  Whoa!  Consider the instruments and chemicals involved, the cleaning of the corpse and plumping with injections…the make-up…the dressing.  Lordy, I even watched a ‘Do it at home’ embalming on You Tube.  I had to hide my eyes half of the time.  Among all these new learnings: Embalmers are bound by strict rules, forbidden to stray beyond their ‘normal’ tasks.  They can’t even take fingerprints off the cadaver!


Blindness.  Pete, a character in my novel, is a blind forensic investigator.  I’d learned about blind men and women employed by the FBI after 9/11 to analyze suspect audio tapes and I wanted to explore their skill sets.  Some of my characters were prejudiced against Pete.  New learnings: blind people are shunned in some cultures, regarded as ‘less than,’ even evil.


untitledTelepathic dogs.  I was worried Elwood (Elly) a Scottie, who warns his mistress when she’s going to faint, was pushing a paranormal envelop.  New learning: dogs can be trained to alert their owners of impending seizures and insulin lows.  Elly’s skill was not a stretch, at all. 


Burial rituals.  Turns out every religion has a specific way to deal with the deceased.  New learning: Certain orthodox religions require mourners to kiss the corpse in an open casket, within twenty-four hours.

Sounds like fiction, huh?  I love what research turns up, pleased to see my presumptions challenged and energized by the complexity I get to add to characters and plots.  Now, with my sixth book published, I’ve learned to test each and every assumption…but I must admit I don’t mind being wrong, because I can use that new information in my story!


It’s your turn.  

GIVEAWAY QUESTION On what topic did your research for a book point out faulty assumptions?  A free e-book of FAINT (you choose the format) goes to a random commenter.

Here’s FAINT, my newly released third in the Funeral Planner Suspense Series.  Happy New Year, everyone!  Rolynn


Their dead clients refuse to rest in peace.Faint Rolynn


How did small-town boutique funeral planning morph into crime-solving?  Ask freelance embalmer Trudy Solomon, or Pete McDonald, a blind, forensic investigator.  They’re unearthing mysteries of the deceased for their pregnant boss, Jan Keller, while her journalist husband, Roman, is benched by a ten million dollar defamation suit.


A dead client goes missing, and investigating his disappearance forces Trudy and Pete to confront their fiercely independent styles.  When danger stalks them, will they blend brains, brawn and belief in one another to solve crimes and save themselves?


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About Sarah Andre

Romantic Suspense That Keeps You Up All Night! I live in sunny FL, love daydreaming, reading and chocolate. I write in the wee hours of the morning before my helpless hubby and 2 male Pomeranian pups awaken with their demands. :) My debut LOCKED, LOADED and LYING is available now.

Posted on December 29, 2015, in Author Spotlight, Guest blog, Sarah Andre and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. You had me at “a dead client goes missing”! Congrats on your new release. It sounds absolutely fascinating.

  2. Great to see you here at KaT, Rolynn! Congrats on the new book!

    In an early draft of Broken Places, I had some faulty assumptions about fingerprint evidence that Sarah Andre kindly pointed out to me. It took some research, a workshop by Allison Leotta, and some creative thinking to come up with a work-around 🙂

    Happy New Year!

  3. I have no memory of that, Krista. Wow, I’m smart!

    Welcome back, Rolynn! I love the premise, the cover, the title and the research you did for FAINT. I’ve always enjoyed your quirky characters, so kudos on Book 3!

    I boldly told this blog my mistake when Sharon interview ME for my debut. I’d looked up prison names in AL from a list, and evidently for years of rewrites I had the male villain in a woman’s prison. I would never have known but Brenda Novak encouraged me to research whether cellmates were allowed magazines. In pulling up the actual prison site…well, I broke out into a sweat at my almost published fiasco.

    Best of luck!

    • Oh, Sarah, what a great save! Brenda is so sweet…she helps all of us in so many ways. I’ll tell you, once I get my novel out…I still worry I got some details wrong, and people are too nice to say anything.

      Great to be here on K&T, as always!

  4. Congratulations on your new release, Rolynn! FAINT sounds great. 🙂

  5. Congrats on the new release – this was a super interesting interview!

  6. I enjoyed your post – best wishes with you newest release! I’ve made so many almost fumbles (and probably have some in print) that I can’t earmark just one. My latest was probably the research I did on bagpipes – my Scottish CP helped me understand just how loud they really are!

  7. Congratulations on your release. The book sounds great. I’m looking forward to reading it.

    I must admit, writing mostly paranormal and urban fantasy, the research I do is limited, but I have done some for my contemporary romance titles and it is amazing what you learn.

    Being a Brit and setting most of my novels in America, I’m forever researching American vernacular and how American English differs to British.

    I’ve got it wrong a few times.

    For example, I had no idea that ‘fortnight’ is not a common term in America and unfortunately that word actually made it into one of my published novels and was picked up on by a reviewer. 😦

  8. My mistakes are countless. Some of my ‘whew, dodged a bullet” ones include learning that if someone (or a dog) finds a bone, at least in Colorado, you have to call the Coroner to determine if it’s human, and if it might be related to a crime.

    Also, in trying to keep a character from escaping I decided she couldn’t drive a stick shift. Thanks to a crit partner for pointing out the vehicle I’d chosen to give her didn’t come with a manual transmission option.

    The hard part about research is knowing to look up things you think you already know. Knowing you don’t know something is easy!

  9. Welcome back, Rolynn! So glad to hear about your new release. The hardest thing I ever had to research for a book involved real estate transactions during the 17th century in South Carolina when King Charles was handing out land grants. I thought it would be easy to figure out, but then I ended up having to wade through pages and pages of Supreme Court decisions!
    Never again. 🙂

  10. Congratulations on the new release, Rolynn! It sounds great.
    My most recent oops happened with my current WIP. It’s a crime thriller set in Tampa, Florida. I knew that 10-codes can very in different areas, so I looked it up on a website of the Tampa Police Dept. Luckily, they include a few pictures. I found out I’d used the wrong color for their uniforms. I know a mistake like that would show up in my reviews.
    Good luck with FAINT.

    • Oh no. Good thing you fixed that mistake! Humbling to find out fiction MUST be based on fact…makes our work doubly hard.

      I’ll be gone for a few hours…back to catch up with you…keep talking…I love your examples…and someone’s winning a free book!

  11. I work in a hospital so I know people who deal with dead bodies – and have to deal with issues around thiis at times myself – but having read your post – I’m amazed it only took 2 years – there’s a DIY video on embalming on You Tube? O.M.G. And there’s an audience for it, O!M!G!.

  12. Your new book sounds as fabulous as your previous ones. I really respect your dedication to research and presenting things correctly. I had a flight scene that took me months to write and several friend/experts to vet. Even small things were so difficult to get right. Did you know in commercial aviation it’s a pilot’s seat, but navy airmen call it a chair? And how to get the runway lights to turn on at a small airport after hours? So much fun finding out all these things.

    Good luck with sales!

    • Diana, this is so interesting! The lingo can make or break our authenticity-especially in the military! Did you know that the name for camouflage gear changed from when I first wrote my last novel to when I finally published it. I had to make changes up to the last minute on FEAR LAND. Whew!

  13. Thank you so much for guest posting today, Rolynn! Best of luck on your sales, and we look forward to hearing from you soon!

    • There’s always excitement on Kiss and Thrill. I feel wrapped in the kindness of like-minded writers when I come to this blog. Thanks for letting me talk about writing as well as my new release. My best to everyone for the coming new year. 2016 is going to be a great year for us all…I have that feeling!

  14. I’m doing a story now where the heroine has a leg amputated and has to learn to deal with that. I think it makes an interesting book when one of the people is disabled.

    • You’re absolutely right, Ilona. We are all ‘disabled’ or flawed in some way, and dealing with that handicap not only gives us conflict in the story, but it also presents growth arc—and wha-la, we have a novel! I especially like it when I can turn a handicap into a blessing! Yippee!

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