In my Rocky Bluff P.D. series, Rocky Bluff is a Southern California beach community between Ventura and Santa Barbara--and no, it is not Carpenteria. Rocky Bluff has it's own geography, street names and history. In many ways it's similar to two other beach towns, Ventura and Oxnard.
The action in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series usually happens in a fictional town called Bear Creek and the surrounding area. Sometimes the story centers on the Bear Creek Indian Reservation.
Bear Creek is similar to the town where I live except I've moved it into the mountains another 1000 feet in order to have "better" trees and more weather.
The indian reservation has many similarities to the Tule River Indian Reservation--but it's not exactly like it. I've given Porterville the name Dennison, but kept pretty much to what the nearby city looks like. I've also had Tempe visit Crescent City in Northern California and Santa Barbara and was true to both areas.
Now I'm writing the next Tempe adventure--and it's all taking place in Morro Bay, Los Osos and San Luis Obispo. I am familiar with all three places having stayed and visited those areas many times. However, there are many things I don't know and have had to research. Some I have been able to learn about from the Internet--but others I've had to ask friends for information.
I'm fortunate that I'm a member of the Central Coast chapter of Sisters in Crime. I've been emailing members and asking them questions.
I'll probably have one of them take a look at it when I'm through to make sure I haven't made any big errors.
Oh, I still have fictional places--especially house where people live.
The plot itself has been fun--but I do want to get where things happen right.