Problem with writing novels: the amount of research required to write a novel is exponentially greater than the amount required to write a short story. (ask me about Hardanger-fiddles.)
Corrolary: the reason writers often seem to know everything is because we do. Well enough to fake it, anyway: it's our job, after all.
Faking it, that is.
Hmm. I just had the fabulous idea of using the "private" function of the LJ to save blocks of fiction for use at home if I get really bored.