washington monument in dreamscape

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ay nine for IGWriters October was “Adventures in Writing.”

On one of my writing forums I recently saw the question asked “Have you ever visited any of the towns/locations that you write about.”

Most were divided on this. Many authors make up imaginary towns (can you say “Forks”) where there story takes place. I prefer to keep my stories grounded in the real world, to really give a feel for the setting.

I decided to have my series take place in Washington, DC. When I started writing my first novel, I’d never been to DC, but it was on my bucket list of places to visit. I have always been fascinated by the history of our Nations Capitol and I also wanted a city that had close public transportation. (My heroine is blind but I wanted to make sure she was fierce and independent).

I spent a LOT of time doing research. I embedded myself in Google maps. I read about local bars, restaurants. I looked up homes, apartment buildings. I even went so far as to research liquor store hours on a Sunday make sure that the store would be open at the time my hero went to grab a bottle of whiskey.

Ok, so maybe I take it a BIT too far at times. 

Anyhow, my point is that I want it to be as real as possible. I don’t want someone who lives in the city I’m writing about to think I didn’t at least try and do my research.

Finally at long last I was able to go to DC. I went solo, and trolled all over the city by myself and I had a blast. I had lunch with a homeless man at a hot dog cart. I got escorted out of the Smithsonian by security due to the length of my shank. (What can I say, I’m a rebel with a pocketknife, don’t mess with me).  I navigated the public transportation system solo, met and chatted with strangers, who pretty much loved my delightfulness. I got lost on the subway and wound up with a dead cell phone in the less privileged areas of DC. I wasn’t too worried though, because I was too busy giggling with two old black ladies who were just the best, and saw the cutest little six year old selling chocolate bars to buy a bike, so I of course pitched in a few bucks.

I took my heroine’s metro to Arlington, had coffee at the Starbucks in her neighborhood, and stood outside the complex that I’d consider her apartment.

I went to a bar in Georgetown that I wrote about in my first novel and listened to live music.

I went to Arlington cemetery and saw the changing of the guards. It was sobering yet beautiful. I went off the beaten path and saw Washington National Cathedral. I walked the mall. Twice. In one day (along with the tidal basin). Then I walked through Chinatown and back down past the White House. I googled it and it was something like thirteen miles. My feet hated me.

Many people were shocked that I traveled solo. I’m a bit shocked that everyone was so shocked.

Be brave, be bold, you only get this one life to live and there is SO much beauty to see in this world!

(I’m pretty sure that’s me channeling my inner “Tori”).

I loved that city, with all that is in me. I can’t wait to go back.

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