To some extent, I do have to research some subjects.
For instance, while writing Teacher's Pet, suddenly the hero was slapped with a sexual harassment suit. Since I knew nothing but sketchy details, I had to stop writing; call a friend on the school board to find out specific actions, as well as contact a lawyer for his input on policies.
Same when I was expanding All She Ever Wanted; the issue of Health and Building Code violations came up, and again I was calling people to find out about fines, what constituted a violation, and how to go about contesting it.
I guess my favorite 'research' happened while on vacation. In 2002, my family spent a week in Estes Park, Colorado, at Nicky's Resort. We toured the strip malls in Estes Park; we spent hours in various parts of Rocky Mountain National Park, and ate at some terrific restaurants. I was actually writing another book at the time, but kept a diary of our travels, a habit my mom started when my children were little.
Fast forward to 2007. I'm happily writing away and getting my convict's story down, when all of a sudden, one of the minor characters decides he's not going to be so minor after all, and reveals he's in Denver, Colorado. Suddenly, he's exploring the park and meeting people. An entire subplot develops, and suddenly I can't remember what was on the menu or the decor of Nicky's. So I called them.
The hostess was thrilled I was putting the establishment into a book, and eagerly rattled off some menu items. Then I gently asked about some landmarks in the town, and she confirmed my memory was good. I thanked her and hung up.
Right now, I've got three 'research' projects going on: One story involves a convention, so I have to 'table' it until I can actually GET to one, or at least wait until the characters speak to me again; 2) Since my Discovery Channel episodes were deleted, I'll be watching the next season with interest, and again, hoping my characters talk to me; and 3) Since my 'Dancing with the Stars' storyline is balking, I'm going to have to start watching the show or take up my dance lessons again. I also got a great idea for a subplot, but as an illness I know little about is involved, yeah, I'm going to have to do some research and interview a good friend. Wish me luck; since Spring Break is over, I plan on diving back into Word War at least 2-3 hours per day.
And of course, there is also the research my alter-ego likes to do:
She picks up the phone and calls her BFF:
"I need you to stretch your memory..."
E: "Oh lord, what now?"
"Remember the time you and I met those basketball players, and we used to play euchre with them in the lobby? And one night the RA let us go over to the boys' side for ten minutes, only we took fifteen and he threatened to write us up?"
"Ye-es, I think so...why?"
"You whispered something to him and he changed his mind. What did you say to him?"
"You honestly expect me to remember that? Get real!"