The Joys of Research, Then and Now

Please welcome guest author Leigh Riker to the Cafe!

Some people love to do research. And that’s great. Yet there’s a danger: a subject can become so fascinating that the book they intend to write doesn’t actually get written. The research itself is just too much fun.

That’s not me. I hate doing research. Or I did. I’m a pantser and what I really want to do is…write. Well, first comes the dreaded synopsis so I know where I’m going. But after those first sentences appear on the computer screen, I don’t want to think about anything but my characters and their story. While doing that first draft I’m in writers’ heaven. I love finding out who these story people are–and oh, the things they say!

But at times, you really can’t go on without knowing some detail on the subject you’re writing about. I used to emerge from my writing cave, head for the library and straight to the children’s department. In books for younger readers, I could find basic information (How to Be A Fireman; Raising Chickens; What Does A Cowboy Do?). After that, as needed, I branched out to other sources at a deeper level.

These days, research–at least to start–is as simple as tapping into Google. I love this! Within minutes I can have a list of helpful sites to explore right on my screen. For my April Harlequin Heartwarming, Lost and Found Family, I needed to know about carousels, one of which figures in the story. After hitting Amazon to order a few print books on the subject for more detail and history, I had everything I needed.

Which type of writer are you? Do you love research or do you just want to tell your story then fill in the blanks later? It works both ways.

For some visuals about this new book, see my Lost and Found Family board on Pinterest, a fabulous resource. You can find anything there! The world is at your fingertips without ever leaving home. Or having to get out of your pajamas. I’m beginning to love research…

Here’s a first peek at Lost and Found Family:

Lost and Found Family coverIt’s been a year since Emma Mallory lost her son, and she can’t forgive herself. She’s dealing with the loss the only way she knows how—throwing herself into work. But spending all her time growing her business takes her further and further away from her husband.

Christian is finding his own way through the grief—determined that whatever happens, he won’t lose his wife, too. If he can just remind Emma what they had, and could have again, he might be able to bring her back. Even forgive her. If not, they might lose each other for good…


Lost and Found Family is available now in digital form ( and at and will be out in May in print at select Walmart stores. Check out the other Heartwarming books this month too: Every Time We Say Goodbye by Liz Flaherty, A Man of Influence by Melinda Curtis, and Sweet Justice by Cynthia Reese.

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Award-winning, USA Today best-selling author Leigh Riker grew up with her nose in a book. She later began her career by writing short stories, but with her first novel she found her true fictional “home.” To this day her passion for writing romance remains as strong as ever. With her husband and their mischievous Maine Coon cat, she lives in the Southeast where she is (of course) working on a new novel.

Researching Romantic Suspense

Samantha Ann King (back, left) Fingerprinting 101.

My first book, Sharing Hailey, had a romantic suspense element to it. My second and third books wanted romantic suspense—begged for it—but after doing all the law enforcement and legal research for that first book, I didn’t want to go … Continue reading