My novel is set partially in Georgia, a state I have never set foot in. I contemplated the challenges this could bring while lying in bed this morning. Then, I packed a bag, jumped in the car, and set off to drive across four states to solve this end-of-the-world dilemma.

Allow me sum up the trip so far: Almost got crushed by an eighteen wheeler in Texas, lost fifty bones in Shreveport (need I explain?), caught a woman repeatedly smelling her arm in a gas station bathroom, ran over something (someone?) substantial at the Mississippi state line, and am pretty sure I’m being stalked by a creeper in my Mississippi hotel.

Research is important to ground a novel, especially for amateurs like moi. Gayle Lynds of Writer’s Digest says, “Before you can incorporate your research into your writing, you first need to be as smart as possible about the research itself.”

Do you think she means: Jump in your car sans driving directions, hotel reservations, and the reading glasses you think you left in the bathroom, but could be on the kitchen counter?

Yeah, me too.

Three states down, two to go.