A few more quotes on research to hopefully spark your imagination:
"I could write historical fiction, or science fiction, or a mystery but since I find it fascinating to research the clues of some little-known period and develop a story based on that, I will probably continue to do it." --Jean M. Auel
"I don't believe in writing anything that I don't know about or haven't researched about personally. I like to transport the reader to places, and in order to do that I have to do the research." --Jackie Collins
"I find I use the Internet more and more. It's just an invaluable tool. I do most of my research on the Net now - and certainly do the bulk of my communicating through email." --Nora Roberts
"One book at a time... though I'm usually doing the research for others while I'm writing, but that sort of research is fairly desultory and I like to stick to the book being written - and writing a book concentrates the mind so the research is more productive." --Bernard Cornwell
And lastly, a warning about the joys of research:
"I enjoy research; in fact research is so engaging that it would be easy to go on for years, and never write the novel at all." --Helen Dunmore
And also, here are some links to writing contests being run by Harlequin. If you happen to have something that fits their guidelines, this is a good opportunity to get your work in front of acquiring editors:
Harlequin Special Edition Happy Holidays Contest
July 13-September 15
The competition entry must consist of the first chapter (15-20 pages) and a one-page synopsis specifically geared to Special Edition and must have a holiday theme.
Harlequin Blaze Aviator Day Challenge
June 1 - August 15
The first 1000 words of a Blaze manuscript that involves a man and a plane.
Harlequin Intrigue Editor Pitch
July 11 - August 16
Must be available for online pitch August 24 at 10 am, EDT.
250 word synopsis of a Harlequin Intrigue manuscript
must have completed manuscript
Mills & Boon New Voices Contest
begins September 13 - details to be announced