The Joy of Research

Hi everyone and welcome to my blog. If you are new or a returning viewer , I hope you find us interesting, helpful and  fun. Afterall, you gotta have some fun, Right?

Today my guest is Beck Martinez               becky-fortbent-2

The Joy of Research – Becky Martinez

Recently I had the opportunity to combine two of my favorite things – traveling and researching. An out-of-town trip to a cousin’s wedding gave me the opportunity to visit a location where I could make some first-hand observations for a romance I am writing that is set in the Old West. As I later wrote in a Facebook entry, Research and Romance, what could be more fun?

The wedding was held in historic Old Bent’s Fort, a re-creation of the trading post originally built-in the 1830’s by brothers Charles and William Bent along the Santa Fe Trail. Located near the Arkansas River, which was then the border with Mexico, for years it played a major role in trade. The fort was eventually burned down and moved, but in 1976, work began on reconstruction. Today it’s a wonderful replica of the old fort, complete with authentic rooms, barns and dining areas. It’s an excellent way to get a feel for the experience of what life might have been like in those old days.  Guides dressed in authentic costumes wander around the fort, telling stories of those old days.

What I learned that day for my story was something valuable beyond just a lesson in how to make adobe bricks or how the pioneers sharpened tools or collected water.  For a time I felt like I was transported back in time, touching the furs, smelling the wood burning in the old fireplace, even touching the straw used for those new adobe bricks. Standing outside in the late afternoon sun, listening to the whisper of the wind in the trees, I could almost imagine what it might have been like to be one of those pioneer women at the fort, relaxing for a time at the end of a long journey, smelling the wood burning in the camp fires.

After a few minutes I decided the thought was sort of silly, since they were facing an unknown future, and I just had to get in my car and drive off, but one of the books I bought that day at the Fort was “Land of Enchantment” a memoir dictated by Marian Russell who told of her travels along the Santa Fe Trail. One passage really struck me.  “It is in the little incidents of life that the interests of existence really lies,” she wrote in her book, and it occurred to that is what we are writing about in our current books.

Conducting research for writing has always been a particular joy for me, but like so many writers, it is often tough to mix the two.  How do you quit researching to start writing?  What happens if you realize you haven’t researched enough? What’s the right way to research?  I received so many warnings about getting caught up in research when I first started out, and for a time I did find myself caught in that old trap of wanting to learn so much about a subject that I forgot to write. (or I used the need to research as a way to postpone having to sit down and compose that story)

As a TV journalist I always had to do some research on any given story, but time constraints always kept me honest. There came a time when you had to sit down and write it or the story wasn’t going to get on the air.  My first job in television was as a researcher for a documentary unit. Doesn’t that sound like a dream job for a beginner? I had visions of spending every day poring over books of information. Well, yes, it was fun. My first documentary was on Denver ballet and the performance of “The Nutcracker,” so I got to watch rehearsals and talk to dancers and the company directors. Wonderful fun! My next project was on the future of Colorado so I spent long hours with census books and studying traffic projections. Long columns of numbers were not my idea of a good time, but in both cases, I was learning – the research was valuable but it wasn’t the end product.

The real joy came from seeing all that information appear in final form – in telling those “little incidents of life,” as Marian Russell said of her travels over the Santa Fe Trail.  And that is the final joy I will have as I construct my story about a family who settles on the plains near Bent’s Old Fort.

Becky Martinez is an award-winning former broadcast journalist who writes romance, mystery and romantic suspense. Her latest work, a short story, “One More Romance” was published in the anthology, Sealed with Love.  Her last mystery novel, Blues at 11, was published by The Wild Rose Press. She is currently working on a historical romance set in 1880’s southern Colorado.

She also teaches writing classes and has co-authored two books on writing with Sue Viders, Let’s Write a Story – Seven Ways to Plot, and Creating Memorable Characters. Both are currently available on

Thank you Becky for this peek into the past and having fun doing research, one of my favorite things to do.

Reminder: My November book giveaway starts today. Please share this post on your sm and ask your friends to stop by and sign up. . One lucky winner will receive my historical romance, The Reluctant Debutante  in eBook format and a paperback copy of A change of Fortune by Colorado author Jen Turano. (U.S. only). This was Jen’s debut novel with Bethany House a few years ago. She is a romance writer too. You’ll enjoy this 20th century story of a young lady who has to fight to regain her fortune and change her future.

Until next time, happy reading and writing.




What is your comfort zone?

Today in Colorado the tempature is a comfortable 53 degrees F. Our normal for this time of year is in the mid 60s. Two days ago the temp was 83!

When I looked in my closet this morning, my summer clothes said “should we stay or should we go”? Good question. For now they will stay as our nine day forecast includes temps in the high 70s. Yay!  Snow will be here soon enough and although we need the moisture I can wait. I think I’m becoming a fair weather person, not to hot, not to cold. You know, like Goldie Locks, just right.

I have a refridgator magnet with this quote:

Life begins at the end


your comfort zone.

Neale Donald Walsch-

What is your comfort zone when you read a romance novel? They range from “sweet – clean” to “hot and sexy”. I write sweet historical romance with a sprinkle of spice, but I read most levels of heat.

So what makes a romance a romance? A romance novel requires two basic componets: a central love story and a Happy Ever After (HEA) for the two main characters. It goes a bit further than that as a romance novel focuses on the romantic relationship between the two main characters. In my opinion, mysteries, sci-fi, thrillers, westerns and other subgenres all have some romantic elements in them. It’s just in our nature. There has to be tension and conflict to make a story great. (Don’t you just love the making up part?)

Romance novels inspire an emotional response in their readers, although this can vary. You can experience laughter, fear, and sadness and the power of love.

I’d love to hear from you and what your’re reading now.

Remember to sign up for my October giveaway, the clock is ticking down to October 30th when this months drawing will close.

I’ll be attending (volunteering) at the Castle Rock Writers annual  Conference this weekend in Castle Rock., Colorado. All you writers, all levels from “I have an idea, what do I do now”, to “pre-published and published author workshops lead by some of Colorado’s best educators, come check us out.  We may just be the “tribe” you’re looking for. It’s not too late to join us for an exciting Saturday.

Who doesn’t like free books? I know, right?
Every month I have a giveaway and October’s  includes two great books to gwt you in the mood for Halloween.
“A Pirates Obsession” by M.L. Guida (don’t you love the cover?)
“Rising Darkness” by Thea Harrison (looks scary-eek!)

Throw your name in the hat for a chance to win by signing up here:
to follow me.
Hurry, sign up today! You only have until 12 midnight MST on October 30th.
Limited to U.S.A. mailing addresses only.
Winner will be determined by

I hope you find some love today.

Happy reading!