I was just sitting here, thinking about all the places I've been in my life. True, I've only been out of the country once (and that was only to Canada - even though I spent the first 30 years of my life an hour from Canada) but even so, I've been all over the U.S.
On this map, each black dot represents a state I've either lived in or visited. (It's hard to see the dots for CT, NJ and MD, but tiny states call for tiny dots. And I didn't bother with AK or HI because I've never been to either state.) Out of the forty contiguous states, I've been to twenty-nine. The longest stay was Michigan, of course. I grew up there. It's hard to pinpoint the shortest stay because several of the states were driven through on the way to somewhere else. For that, I guess I'd have to say Iowa because we just drove through the corner on our way from Missouri to Nebraska.
How's this relate to writing? Well, you see, because I've been all these places, I can picture them in my head easily. Any place I've been, I can write about better than if I just read about them. (Not that one has to travel to every place one writes about, but every little bit helps.) I didn't always live in BFE, CO and I wasn't always a stay-at-home, homeschooling housewife/unpubbed novelist. I used to travel all over the place, going to sales meetings and training seminars and national trade shows. I can tell you what the sun looks like coming up over the Wasatch Mtns or setting over the Gulf of Mexico. I can weave the smell of the boardwalk in Atlantic City for you, or let you listen to the sound of Lake Superior when it's getting ready to throw a tantrum or show you what Beale Street really looks like.
The more you know, the better off your writing will be in the long run. Just because I'm stuck here in the wastelands, staring at the tumbleweeds as they pile high enough to cover some folks' windows and inhaling the stench of a hundred thousand cows, doesn't mean I'm stunted as a writer. It just means I'm taking a break from the outside world so I can write.
Of all the places I've been my favorites are probably the west side of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Cape San Blas in Florida, Rocky Mountain National Park, New York City, and Yellowstone/The Grand Tetons.
So, tell me where you've been. Any good places to visit once I venture back out in the world? I know I need to visit the west coast one of these days, and I've always wanted to get up into New England more. (The three days I spent in CT wasn't nearly enough, and it was a business trip, so not much in the way of site-seeing was done.)
Addressing Amazon Issues and Myths
19 hours ago