Saturday, November 25, 2017

Strangest Browser Searches Tag

Way back in the days of cave paintings and sabre-toothed tigers (ahem, last July) Madeline J. Rose tagged me with a thingamajig of her own creation, the Strangest Browser Searches tag! It's so fun when blogger friends make up their own tags, isn't it? And this particular tag is pretty entertaining too.

The rules:
  • Get access to your browser history, and look through it
  • Pick at least 5 of the strangest searches you've had to look up as a writer
  • List them below with a short explanation as to why exactly you had to look them up
  • Tag 2-5 other bloggers

I apologize in advance--due to my slow writing lately, most of my Google searches were boring things like "how to calculate equal payments" (for math class) and "what is a contra account" (for accounting class) and "who retains rights in traditional publishing" (for a paper I wrote in business communication class). I dug through THREE MONTHS of history for these, guys, and most of them aren't even that spectacular.

If you don't have anything better to do with the next three minutes of your life, read on!

Note: they're almost all related to my Snow White retelling, so perhaps you'll glean some interesting tidbits of previously undisclosed knowledge. Or just random trivia, but pffft, what's the difference?

snow white original version

I looked this up because it's been a long time since I read the real thing, and I always go back to the source material before writing a retelling.

list of cold words

Snow. Frost. Shiver. Ice. Blizzard. Wow, what a great list. I must've been in a writing slump if I needed synonyms for cold.

norse mythical creatures

I found me a fearsome lindwyrm, thanks to this search!

how big is a hamlet

I don't remember the answer, but Skadi's home (in my inconsistent first draft of Snow White) goes back and forth between a hamlet and a village, so . . . methinks the research wasn't very effective.

how to skin a rabbit

I found some kind of hunting website and actually scrolled through bloody pictures of every step in the rabbit-skinning process. Be very proud of me.

scandinavian sailing medieval times / medieval animal skin canoes

Skadi paddles around a fjord while thinking gloomy thoughts, so I wanted to be able to visualize her vessel.

mbti and guilt

Because Skadi wrestles with more than her fair share of guilt, and I wanted to see how her personality type deals with it. (What is her personality type again? I forgot.)

how long should a chapter be in a ya novel

Short answer: nobody knows! Suggestion: 2500-5000 words.

how serious is a wound to the side

Because what would a fantasy novella be without a stabbing?!

do big five publishers accept christian manuscripts

I don't think I dug deep enough to find the answer, but I think I was contemplating the great big world of publishing that day, and simply looked this up out of curiosity.

tips for fast signature

You should see the margins of some of my notebooks, or the scrap paper I used for math equations back in high school--I'm not ashamed to admit that I've practiced my signature for future book signings. Still not happy with it, and still wondering if I should change the style of it so that it's different from what I use to sign important documents. o_O But on another note, HOW do authors manage to sign hundreds of books in an hour?

lies characters believe

I remembered reading a couple of blog posts on the subject, but didn't know where they were, so I searched them down again to help develop Skadi's inner conflict.

meaning of Skadi / Wilhelmina name origin

Meaningful names are important to me! I love hiding symbolism in my stories--it's just another secret that only I know. That is, until I blog about it or until sharp-eyed readers pick up on it. But half of the fun of these secrets is divulging them, so I don't mind. Anyway, Skadi is my Snow White character, and her name belongs to a Norse goddess of winter and archery! Wilhelmina is a German name meaning willing to protect; it fits pretty well with a secondary character who's come up in two of my stories, yet has never been "on screen."

aurora winter bird lyrics

I'm pretty sure it was Katie Grace who introduced me to AURORA, a young Norwegian singer with an ethereal voice and songs that inspire my writer brain. This particular song, Winter Bird, reminds me of my Snow White story!

sinew bowstrings

Skadi is an archer (and no, I shan't apologize for using that cliché), so I took some time to research more primitive forms of bows and arrows. I also needed to know what kind of bowstring she'd likely have access to . . . and what kind of bowstring might snap under extreme heat. *insert malicious smile*

why don't i like my protagonist

You've heard me grouse about that issue more than once here, so I won't go over it again! Since reading over my novella, I think much of my problem was imagined/the result of less-than-ideal writing circumstances, so hopefully whatever small issues are left can be corrected when I edit.

other odd things I've researched in times gone by:

This was YEARS ago, but one time I spent an afternoon performing mathematical equations for my dragon novel, The Prophet's Quest. Two characters are given special seeds they're instructed to plant in a long, continuous line across one corner of the country, and it occurred to me about five million drafts later that I'd never actually figured out how many seeds they would need. So I:

  • guesstimated the size of said fantasy country by comparing it to real life Britain or something like that
  • decided how long dragon's tails are (because the dragons are told to plant the seeds one dragon tail-length apart)
  • calculated how many dragon tails it would take to stretch across the section of land I'd drawn out . . .
  • . . . which equals how many seeds are needed
  • then I figured that the seeds were about the size of kidney beans
  • so I went to the kitchen and counted out how many kidney beans fill one measuring cup
  • converted cups to gallons
  • estimated how many gallons of seeds each dragon could carry
  • realized they needed A LOT OF HELP to transport all these seeds
  • and so I invented a species of birds called seolfor that could each carry a gallon's worth of seeds, and threw a whole flock of them into the story to solve the problem
  • WHEW.
And of course I've researched other, more typical writerly things like:

  • gunshot wounds
  • types of guns
  • types of swords
  • infection
  • injuries
  • facial burn scars
  • healing herbs
  • how far a human can walk in a day
  • how far a horse can run in a day
  • how long a person can survive without food/water
  • how far a league is (because there's no better way to jerk a reader out of your epic high fantasy story than to have the king say, "I shall travel thirteen miles to thy secret abode of magical trees," so leagues it is)
  • old cars from the 90's most likely to have engine trouble
  • blood types
  • what happens when you get a blood transfusion of the wrong type (bad stuff, okay)
  • how long it takes to fly to _____
  • how far a Beaver plane can fly on one tank of fuel
  • how many people can a dragon carry if they're about four or five times the size of a horse
  • how would a psychologist diagnose a kid who says he was a hero and fought battles on another bacon-flipping WORLD (answer: he's schizophrenic or has delusions of grandeur)
  • ETC.
In short, the life of a writer involves many questions. Sometimes Google has the answers, sometimes not. I used to think that writing fantasy was a good way to avoid research, but HA, I've never been more wrong! At least I get to research pretty cool stuff this way.

(Sorry, I've run out of time to tag anyone today, since I have to run off to work, but if you like this tag, by all means snatch it!)

What's the weirdest thing YOU have ever researched, in the name of writing or not?


  1. I am so snatching this. This hilarious, though I wonder if I have enough good searches for my book. Some things should be writer-ly.
    Awesome post, Tracey. And I think I'm going to practice my signature for book signings now. I hadn't even thought of that and my handwriting lately is terrible. (Too much reliance on a computer to write. XD) Plus, I need to get used to signing my pen name and not my real name.

    ~Ivie B

    1. DO IT! My writing research has been a bit sparse lately, so I really had to dig for these, haha. XD You could probably list strange NON-writerly searches too, if you wanted!

      Ha, the keyboard is great for writing fast and editing easily, but for neat handwriting--not so much. Back when I considered using a pen name, I was scared I'd accidentally start writing my real name at a book signing one day. XD

  2. I'd like to know how to sign my name quickly...but my parents didn't name me for that kind of thing, especially since I like the addition of my middle initials...unless I forego the spell out of my first name.

    1. You're right, some letters flow well together and others take more time! Mine aren't all that smooth or quick either... A cursive T feels choppy compared to a cursive E or L. And I guess your name is a smidgen on the long side, as far as fast signatures go! Oh well. More time to talk to your readers at the book signings. ;)

  3. Hehe, this post is funny. XD I knew almost all of the searches but still. XD

    ALSO! I have the answer to your signing problem!

    You get a stamp. That has your signature.

    I think that’s a thing. I heard about it. It makes sense because sometimes authors (and other famous peeps too) gotta sign a LOT of stuff.

    1. Teehee, thank you! Do I really talk about my book research that much? XD

      Oh, that would help with bulk signings! Smart. I think I've also heard of book plates, some kind of paper or label with your signature that you can stick onto books. *shrugs*

  4. This is an awesome tag. I don't, however, think I have a lot of weird Google searches. Pinterest, maybe...

    This was great to read!

    1. Thanks to Madeline for the creative idea! Haha, you should do the tag with Pinterest, then! It doesn't specify WHICH browser's history to use...

  5. My best searches: “how does hacking work” and “how long does it take to bleed out?” So...yeah.

    1. Bahaha! "How does hacking work." Sometimes I wonder when someone with a badge will knock on my door and take me in for questioning... XD

  6. I love that you do such extensive research, I basically wing a lot of my stuff, which isn't good. I need to start doing more research.

    1. I honestly don't feel all that hardcore when it comes to research. XD And I wing a lot of it during first drafts--the nitty gritty stuff comes up when I'm editing and finally wonder, "Oh, how does this ACTUALLY work?" But yes! Research! Not easy, but...sometimes interesting. :)

  7. Oh my gosh, this is SUCH a fun tag! I loved reading your answers, Tracey!


  8. Practice makes perfect Tracey. Since I was nine I've used pages and pages just signing my name. Sometimes *ahem* only once on the page -- super huge handwriting used lol Anyway. I've never done any Google research for my books. Yet. Maybe someday soon. Then I'll have a history like yours. Until now mine is basically about synonyms and definitions.

    1. 'Tis true! I've practiced my cursive signature quite a bit, but I'm thinking of practicing a cursive/print hybrid (which is my natural handwriting anyway)... Anyway, I love that you've been practicing for so many years! :D

      Synonyms and definitions are allll over my browser history too, trust me. ;)

  9. "scandinavian sailing medieval times / medieval animal skin canoes" Sounds fascinating! I love canoes and other boats.

    Writing has led me to all sorts of research- weapons of ancient Hawaii, surgery in the 1700s, Jewish titles of honour, and even stuff about the quetzalcoatlus

    1. I barely scratched the surface, but it is! I wish I knew way more about canoes and sailing than I currently do. The ratio of story ideas involving ships to my knowledge of them is severely unbalanced. XD

      Those are all so unique! I love it! *runs off to find out what quetzalcoatlus means* Oooh, now I'm really curious about what kind of story that ended up in.

  10. And today on "I'm a WRITER, okay??"... we have an entire tag xD This was such fun to read!
    - Jem Jones

    1. *bursts out laughing* Okay, Jem, you get the award for best comment today! XD

  11. THIS WAS SO MUCH FUN! I may have to snag this tag sometime. It's so crazy the things we end up having to look up. Sooo much stuff just pops up out of nowhere while writing, stuff that you would NEVER think you'd have to look up. Being a writer is never boring, that's for sure. XD

    Oh, girl, I look up synonyms allll the time. I, erm, actually keep open in a tab at all times while I'm writing.. :x SHAMEFUL I KNOW. But my brain gets stuck on certain words and just REFUSES to think of different ways to say things. So...yeah. My bestie.

    I need to research skinning a rabbit myself! I think I've written multiple scenes of rabbit skinning and yet...I literally have no idea how to do it. Oops?

    The signature thing though! I have wondered FOREVER how authors manage to do big book signings and things! I am so glad I'm not alone in this. XD

    I'm just sitting here in awe at the amount of work you put into figuring out the number of seeds needed in The Prophet's Quest. That is fabulous! Mark of a dedicated author right there. You're amazing, girl!

    This was so fun to read. Gotta love the writer's life. XD Thanks for sharing with us!

    1. I look up synonyms all the time. And antonyms, and rhyming words (hey, you never know when you have to write a prophecy foretelling the end of the world)...

    2. @Christine: Haha, thank you! Madeline had a great idea! You're so right, though--the questions that come up while writing are the most random things. You can definitely learn a lot. XD

      THAT IS NOT SHAMEFUL. I'm constantly using Word's built-in thesaurus and dictionary too. Allll the time. Because I get stuck on the same five words as well. XD

      Haha, it's not pretty, but if you can handle some blood and rabbit guts--and descriptions of breaking their delicate little paws (*sniffle*)--then go for it! XD

      RIGHT?! There must be a secret school for authors where they take Warpspeed Book Signing 101 or something...

      LOL, it was actually *fun* to figure all of that out. (Says the girl who claims she doesn't like research.)

      Thanks, Christine! ^_^

      @Nicki: Yep, same here! Those prophecies, though. *shakes head* Why must rhyming be so hard sometimes? XD

  12. While working on my Snow White short story I did a lot of researching in North mythology so I was constantly Googling Wights and Dwarfs and checking Norse and Celtic mythology books out of the library.

    But probably one of the strangest things I've looked up have to do with wounds being fatal. I did a lot of researching on how long someone would live if they'd been stabbed in the heart.

    1. Oooh, that sounds super cool! Wights and Celtic mythology--the more I hear about your Snow White retelling, the more intrigued I become. :)

      Wound research--it's kind of scary how often I have to do that. My mom's in the medical field, so I'm constantly going to her with hypothetical scenarios. XD Yikes, so how long WOULD someone survive after being stabbed in the heart?

  13. ohhh, the weirdest Google searches? here are a few :) --"can you sprain your ankle if someone sits on it?", "can you kill a person with a muffin". lol
    Great post, Tracey! :)

    1. BWAHAHA, I love it! I guess if someone sat on your ankle at a bad angle--or they were heavy enough--it could be sprained? Maybe? And if you forced a whole muffin down someone's throat so that they suffocated...? Goodness, stop being morbid, Tracey. XD

      Thanks, Allison! (Am I right in assuming this is Alli Tebo?)

    2. True--never thought of that! :)
      No, this is Allison Pewett :)

    3. LOL, my brain sometimes... XD

      Oh dear, sorry! I didn't mean to mix you up. Glad to meet you, Allison P! :D

  14. Cool!!! I like to make my character names have underlying meanings too.


    Like you, I feel like the majority of my searches are pretty typical... guns, scars, wounds... that sort of thing.

    I have also "practiced" my author signature "for when I'm famous" so you're not alone. ;)))

    And WOW you went to as lot of trouble with the kidney bean-dragon-planting-field thing??? That's dedication!!!

    1. *high five for name symbolism*


      We writers seem to be such violent creatures. XD And yay for a fellow signature practitioner! Yeeeeaaah, I may have become obsessed with making that one scene sound realistic, lol. Thanks!

  15. I love how this research gives insight to your book! And to answer your question yes some of the big five do accept Christian novels. Zondervan is an offbranch of the big five which is a Christian publisher.

    1. Haha, thank you! Awesome, that's good to know. I do remember reading somewhere that Zondervan is a branch of something, I'd just forgotten which publisher. Thanks for the input, Tori! ^_^

  16. EEEEEEP YOU DID MY TAG!!!!! *beams like an idiot* Oh my word, Tracey, these are AWESOME. XD

    "old cars from the 90's most likely to have engine trouble" <~ XD That had to be fun... XD

    "what happens when you get a blood transfusion of the wrong type" <~ OH YIKES. XD

    "why don't i like my protagonist" <~ THIS HAPPENS TO ME ALL THE TIME. I don't know what it is, I just don't connect with them as well as my other side characters! So weird... :P

    This one has got to be my favorite though ~> "how would a psychologist diagnose a kid who says he was a hero and fought battles on another bacon-flipping WORLD" I'M DYING. XD

    Agh, this makes me so happy!! <333

    1. AND IT WAS A BLAST! Thanks again for tagging me, Madeline! :D

      I ended up picking a '95 Dodge Spirit for a character who needed to have car trouble in order to kickstart the plot. XD My dad knows cars, so he and Google both helped with that!


      I usually fall in love with my protags, so NOT liking my heroine as much this time around felt really weird! I guess I know how you feel now! Maybe we try too hard to make our main characters an "everyman," and we put all the fun, weird traits into our side characters?

      That was fuuuun (and also frustrating) to research! I ended up sitting down with someone in the field of psychology to ask very specific questions. ^_^

      Haha, thank you, girl! *hugs*