Research Can Amaze You

ACFWAdvice, Authors and writing, Friends of ACFW, research, writing 10 Comments

By Janetta Fudge Messmer

Years ago (2009) I had the privilege of working with multi-published author, Janice Hanna Thompson on a book idea. I was a newbie and the two of us brainstormed a story in my living room in Spring, Texas. Who knew it’d take until 2017 to get it published.

In those eight years, I wrote and rewrote Chords of Love, and wondered more than once, “When we came up with the idea for this novel, what were Janice and I thinking? Why a historical for my first book? How do I begin to research a book set in 1890?

I put the manuscript away, but a trip to Colorado to visit family rekindled my desire to finish it. And a side trip to Central City ended up answering all my earlier questions. I spent three days in the tiny mining town doing research and discovered a treasure trove of information at the historical society.

The books I looked through opened my eyes to the customs and clothing of that day, but when I asked about visiting the opera house, one of them said, “It is closed for renovation. You’ll find the information you need from our library.”

Photography for Social Media and Marketing |

BUT, I still wanted to see inside the opera house. On my last day in Central City, I took a walk to canvass the outside of the building. I stood on my tiptoes, peering in through a window, and this was where the Lord showed up.

Right then a man came up and said, “Hello. Can I help you?” I explained to the gentleman that I was writing a novel and that the opera house played a major role in it. Much to my surprise, he asked, “Would you like to come in and see it?”

He unlocked the door and we entered. I stood in awe at how the Lord gave me the opportunity to experience the famed building firsthand. He blessed me that day more than I ever imagined or hoped for.

The man and I walked around and he talked about the history of the opera house. Vaudeville. Circuses. Plays and singers performed on the stage. So much more information for me to add to my story. My pen flew across the page as I tried to catch all he said.

After many more rewrites, Chords of Love was published in 2017. Funny thing, it ended up being my second published novel. The first book of my Early Birds series came out in January 2016.

I guess what I’m telling you is:

  • Don’t give up – persevere. We never know when someone will unlock a door for us to see what our heart desires.
  • We have to let our ‘baby’ go. Yes, we want to make it the best it can be – but we have to release the grip on it or it’ll never be published.
  • Pray and trust in the Lord. If He has called us to write, sit down and write. Take it from me, the words will not magically appear on the screen. We have to do our part and obey the Lord’s leading. I found out when I did, research can amaze you.


He (the Lord) blessed me that day more than I ever imagined or hoped for. @nettiefudge #ACFWBlogs #writetip #ACFWCommunity Click To Tweet

Janetta Fudge Messmer’s tagline is Turning Life into Comedy. This is why she writes Christian Comedy Romance. She’s also a speaker and editor. Janetta, her hubby (Ray), and pooch (Maggie) are full-time RVers, so most days you’ll find them out sightseeing…but first Janetta has to sit down and write. Visit Janetta on her website, Facebook, or Twitter.


Comments 10

  1. One thing that continually surprises me is the depth of feeling in old letters that seem stodgy and formal. When one reads between the lines, and understands the context, they truly glow.

    The funny thing about research
    are the changes it can bring,
    to knock the writer off a perch
    of knowing everything.
    The past’s fearsome complexity
    is quickly brought to light,
    and I saw, in my perplexity
    that not all was black and white,
    but shaded pink and shaded grey,
    and shaded colours never seen;
    the people of Olde Yesterday
    shared with us a Golden Dream
    that their days could rise above
    the mire to find the heart’s true love.

  2. Janetta! I remember where we were sitting in the restaurant when we talked through the details of that book. I knew you had it in you! And how wonderful, to let the research guide you.

  3. Great article, Janetta. I have found in researching for my books that things generally don’t go as planned. The Lord takes over, leading me places I never expected, to people I would never have met had He not. I’m thankful His plans are better than mine.

  4. I so enjoyed your post, Janetta! Thank you for writing it.

    I had a similar God-incidence while writing my first novel, also a historical. The Lord miraculously connected me with a genealogist in Italy who personally knew my family and provided me with original documents relating to the core idea of my story.

    Our God provides all that we need when we need it. Glory to His Holy Name!


  5. Thanks for all that writer’s wisdom, Janetta! My ears always perk up when I hear someone talking about advice on writing. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Wow, I’m so proud to know you?. I always loved those early drafts. I hope we helped instead of throwing you into the critique pit of bump and bruises. Love you Kristl

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *