A to Z Blogging Challenge: V is for Virtual Travel

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“V” is for Virtual Travel

In my blog for the letter “R,” I wrote about research, and I promised to share my favorite resource for researching places I’ve never been. That’s what I’ll blog about now!

I love to travel. My father was in the Coast Guard and we moved often, giving me the impression that life was an adventure. We lived in California, Guam, and Hawaii (Oahu). Then Dad retired in Ohio. And I married a life-long Ohio boy. With the exception of the one year I convinced the hubby to try Arizona, I’ve lived in Ohio ever since.

While my family takes a little vacation to one or another neighboring state almost every year, I’ve lost hope in ever moving again. But I can still see the world through my imagination and my writing!

My West Brothers teen fiction series takes place in a forested area of South Dakota. I selected this area because of the unique rock formations and caves I discovered through online research.

I don’t know how writers did it in the past. I suppose they really had to pay attention to the advice: “Write what you know.” Today’s writer is lucky. We can research online and write what we learn.

A teenage boy in Life-Changing Love gets to travel to Italy with his father. I did lots of online research for the setting details, but my favorite research tool is Google Maps “Street View.” Have you ever tried it? Pick a location, zoom in close, and place the “street view” icon (the little yellow man) on the street. That’s what I did for every scene that took place in Italy.street.png You can click anywhere on the image and it will move wherever you want to go. I was walking all up and down Florence, Italy, and Bagno di Romanga! I could almost hear the people chattering with their Italian accents and smell the fresh baked bread and coffee from the local cafes. I even went inside a few places.

Click here to see inside the Basilica di Santa Maria.

I try to appeal to all five senses in my setting details, so when I travel virtually using “street view,” I jot down notes for everything visual. And I use my imagination for the rest. I love to experience new places this way, and I hope my readers to too!

Have you tried Google Maps Street View? Where have you gone?

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