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While researching Virginia’s recent restaurant smoking ban—hey, tobacco was the State’s #1 export until a couple of years ago, so give them a break for being behind the curve—I learned something new: There are no stand-alone bars in Virginia.


What it means is that in order to get a license to serve alcohol, an establishment must serve food and show a certain percentage of receipts from the sale of food. Establishments that serve food must provide a non-smoking environment, and can only offer a smoking area if it’s separately ventilated. Tricky, huh?

Yes, it’s safe to say I haven’t been bar-hopping lately, or I would have realized this. Not really since college to be specific, but that’s beside the point.

The point is…oh yeah, the point is that it’s the little things that can trip you up sometimes. I live in Virginia, but I couldn’t remember the specifics of the smoking ban with regard to the bar section of a restaurant. The fact that there are no stand-alone bars here was a throwaway line in the description of the smoking legislation, but I had to go back and fix part of my WIP because of it.

What are some surprising things you’ve found in the course of your own research?


Tell your friends!


  1. Reply

    Ahh, you could have asked me 😉 We’re experts at it between the bands and my allergies LOL.

    I’ve been researching Steampunk, because for some reason, the Goddess of Air has decided to be DIFFERENT than all the rest. Go figure. I am not a steampunk expert, so…off I’ve been going.

    • Reply

      Stacia: I didn’t even know I needed to ask. That’s the thing. But now I know.

      And wow, steampunk, huh? Sooo, out of my realm, but good luck with it!

    • Dunx


      I read steampunk rather than writing it, but it’s a very jolly genre I think. So much more than what goths do when they discover brown, as one rather dismissive description has it.

      Good luck with your story!

  2. Dunx


    Oh, now this is a good one – tidal locking.

    My WIP is set on a moon orbiting a gas giant. I knew that our own moon was tidally locked to Earth so that the same face of the moon is always pointing towards us, but what I didn’t know was that this is true of _every_ moon in our solar system. Indeed, Pluto and its moon Chiron are mutually tidally locked, so Pluto shows the same face to Chiron too.

    Anyway, this has had a huge effect on the calendar and the whole way of life on my world, mostly in very interesting ways but the hack I had to introduce to allow crops to actually be raised can only really be considered cheating.

    But hey, it’s science fiction. Whaddya gonna do?

    • Reply

      Wow, Dunx, that’s cool. I had no idea. I think a lot of folks figure that with sci-fi you can make up whatever you want, but it still has to follow rules and expectations. And be consistent. Every genre has world building, but sci-fi, paranormal, urban fantasy, and steampunk are on a whole different level.

      Thanks for sharing, and good luck!

  3. Reply

    YEs they do, and they have their own brand of cigarettes too… and cheaper…
    However women are not allowed to smoke, it is a sin.
    I had a huge problem when I went to buy Jim’s cigarettes the first time (he sent me to buy the cigarettes because I speak arabic) People gave me the evil look and some refused to sell me… It took me time to figure out that women who smokes are considered Hos….This place is traumatizing….
    Enough venting for today!

    • Reply

      So they’re not allowed to, which makes me wonder where they go to do it just to rebel. 😉 Mirella, it has to be frustrating moving to a country where women are considered lesser beings, but if anyone can handle it, it’s you. *hugs*

  4. Reply

    I just learned that Pringles potato chips are the mathematical shape known as a hyperbolic paraboloid. And yes, I plan to use this. 😉

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