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Work on Book #4 in the West River Mystery series has begun. Here's what's involved in researching dinosaur digs for See Jane Dig!

Researching dinosaur digs for See Jane Dig!, Book 4 in the West River Mystery Series, is occupying the time I usually devote to writing. The picture shows the sources I’m digging into:

  • Newspaper clippings from Nation’s Center News. The weekly paper has been covering news in Harding County, South Dakota for decades, and I’ve been a subscriber for many of them. Once I read an issue cover to cover, I clip out any articles that could inspire a story line or are related to an idea already in the works. Like the dinosaur clippings pictured here. They are amazing!
  • Digging Dinosaurs by John R. Horner. This book was published in 1988 and has been out of print for years. Thankfully, I found a copy on Amazon and snapped it up. That turned out to be a wise choice. The events it covers span 1978-1985, the same years we lived in Harding County, and the same time period as the West River Mysteries. Horner recounts his work at the famous duckbill dinosaur dig in central Montana, which included nests full of the remains of juvenile duckbill dinosaurs and intact, fossilized duckbill eggs. Those dinosaur fossils are different from those found in northwestern South Dakota, but the tools and processes used are the same. It’s hard to beat a primary source document from the right time period.

When finish these sources and add them to what Hiram and I learned on last summer’s paleo tour, at the end of last summer, it’ll be time to plan out the story––plot points, new character sketches, and such. At least I hope that’s what happens because the only ideas I have now are as follows:

  • The action happens in the spring.
  • There is a field trip to a dinosaur dig.
  • Something bad happens.
  • Someone dies.
  • Jane and the sheriff solve the mystery.

It doesn’t sound like much now, but trust me. if Book #4 is half as interesting as researching dinosaur digs for See Jane Dig!, you’re gonna love what Jane gets up to next!