It's Amazing What I Don't Know!
Writers are supposed to write what they know, but once you start writing, you realize you don't know as much as you thought you did.
I was raised on a farm, so I have a sense of life there, but that was (mumble-mumble) years ago. Things are different now. As the Sleuth Sisters Mysteries go on, I find myself wandering through Fleet-Farm type stores with new interest. "Look!" I tell my husband. "This is how they water chickens nowadays."
"Huh," he replies.
In the Work In Progress, there is real estate fiddling, so I need to know about deeds and sales and Realtor duties (and yes, that has to be capitalized.) I visit an acquaintance in real estate, and he gets me started. When I run into a snag, I call him and he helps me make it work. "Wow!" I tell my husband. "Dan sure knows the real estate business."
I've mentioned before the friends who help when I write about exotic animals, like the reindeer in Book #3. "Boy," say as I come home with pages of notes on the subject. "Reindeer are different than I thought they'd be."
As I was trying to work out the plot for this book, I needed to know about insurance on vacation property. I was shopping in a nearby town, so I stopped at the first insurance office I saw and asked. The whole staff ended up discussing ways I could accomplish what I wanted to do in the book. "They were so nice!" I told my husband later. "They really helped me get the plot solidified.
In a mystery, of course there are weapons, and often those weapons are guns. I happen to live with an expert, so I simply go downstairs and say, "What kind of gun would my bad guy have?"
"A gun is a normally tubular weapon or other device designed to discharge projectiles or other material. The projectile may be solid, liquid, gas or energy and may be free, as with bullets and artillery shells, or captive as with Taser probes and whaling harpoons. The means of projection varies according to design but is usually effected by the action of gas pressure, either produced through the rapid combustion of a propellant or compressed and stored by mechanical means, operating on the projectile inside an open-ended tube in the fashion of a piston. The confined gas accelerates the movable projectile down the length of the tube, imparting sufficient velocity to sustain the projectile's travel once the action of the gas ceases at the end of the tube or muzzle. Alternatively, acceleration via electromagnetic field generation may be employed in which case the tube may be dispensed with and a guide rail substituted."*
*Kidding: I stole that from Wikipedia. But that's what he sounds like!