Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday Fun - The Virtual Passport

We're delighted to welcome Harlequin Heartwarming author Amy Vastine to the Pink Heart Society as she talks about researching the world from home, and offers a #GIVEAWAY for one lucky reader!

I often wonder how authors wrote stories before the internet. I can’t tell you how many times I have been grateful to the World Wide Web for answering my questions or helping me find that perfect word. The one thing I love the most is Google Maps, though.

Many writers still travel to places they write about or interview people who have been there in order to make their story realistic. That’s not always an option for me, so I choose to virtually visit the places my characters call home.

Google Maps allows me to go wherever I want or need to and even lets me stand on the very street I want my characters to live on or walk down. I can spin around and take in a 360 degree view. I can go to a private island just off the shore of the picturesque Greek isle of Santorini or stand on a busy New York street in front of the brownstone residence for my next heroine.

My first novel was set in Abilene, TX, a place I had never been. I spent hours researching the area and finding the ideal places to set my story. In The Weather Girl, the hero and heroine also travel to Austin, TX. 

It was thanks to my Google Maps adventure that I came up with the perfect first date. First, I found The Bullock Museum which features many exhibits on Texas history. When I went to the website, I learned they were showing a movie called Wild Texas Weather. What a perfect coincidence! What better first date for a weather girl and her man? 

My latest book, The Hardest Fight, is set in Chicago. I live in the suburbs and have been to the city hundreds of times. I still used Google Maps when I was plotting scenes. I love being there, where the action is happening. I like to see the streets the characters are walking along. I love that I can continue to learn things about places I thought I knew. 

In fact, while writing The Hardest Fight, I had the hero going to lunch with his mother. I searched for some nearby restaurants close to where I chose for them to work. 

When I found a respectable spot, I noticed that across the street was the Breast Cancer Survivor Garden at Millennium Park. The heroine of the book and her mother are breast cancer survivors. That little bit of knowledge helped give an entire new emotional vibe to a simple walk to lunch when Dylan glances across the street and can’t help but think of Lucy. 

My next book is set outside of Nashville, can’t wait to see where Google Maps takes me this time! 

Where would you like to go either virtually or for real? One lucky commenter will win a signed copy of The Hardest Fight!

Amy's latest book, The Hardest Fight, is out now:

There's no backing down this time 

Lucy Everhart expected her opposing counsel to be a slick, soulless corporate lawyer. Who else would represent developers intent on turning Chicago's Safe Haven women's shelter into condos? But she never imagined it would be Dylan Hunt. 

Clearly, he's no longer the idealistic young man she fell for in law school. This is Dylan 2.0. The man who let her go without a fight five years ago—along with his passion for social justice, apparently. He may have compromised what he believed in, but Lucy hasn't. Dylan has no idea what kind of fight he's in for. But then again, neither does she.

To find out more information about Amy Vastine and her writing, check out her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. What a fun post! I love Google maps, too. My husband especially loves it (I think he might be kind of hooked actually). He gets on there before we go somewhere--or even just to see what someplace looks like. And I have to admit it really gives perspective when your writing about a place. Loved all your books. Can't wait to read The Hardest Fight.

    1. Thanks, Carol! I seriously have an addiction. Your husband and I would get along great!

  2. London

    alysap AT yahoo DOT com

    1. London is also on my TBV (to be visited) list!

  3. My next place that I would love to go is Rome. I've always been fascinated with the crazy amount of history there.

    1. I would love to do that too, Bethany! I hear you can spend a whole week in Rome and not see everything it has to offer.

  4. Ah, Google maps! We might need to start a support group . I love the street view aspect so you can really get the feel of a place (without having to buy a plane ticket!). :) Happy sales, Amy!

  5. I love Google maps!! And street view is awesome. I would love to visit the Greek Isles. Good luck with your book and I look forward to your next one. I live in East Tennessee and my son and his wife live in Nashville.