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“Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science.” - Girl Genius, by Kaja & Phil Foglio

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Arthur C. Clarke

Perspective, it's all about perspective ...

Saturday, June 30, 2012

WRoE Summary for June

27 hours, 3790 word increase; word count at end of month 61067

I made corrections based on the critique earlier this month.  I also wrestled with seven pages (29-36) that were A Royal Mess.  Now they’re an Improved Mess, but still an Overly Long Mess.  Kind of burned out a bit on that, so it needs to rest for a while before I look at it again. 

Back in December, when Dixie was setting up this Writers Rules of Engagement gig, my goal was to average an hour a day working on this novel.  I put in 80 hours in the First Quarter and 89 hours in the Second Quarter, for a total of 169 hours.  Divide that by 26 weeks = 6.5 hours per week average over six months.  I’m satisfied with that!

And even more satisfying is this version of the novel is almost finished.  Well, I think it’s almost finished.  I’ve written several scenes near the end - those scenes were rough ideas at the end of last month - but there’s a gap of indeterminate size between where I’m currently writing (p 130) and those scenes. 

I have some ideas of what should happen in that gap.  The characters may have other ideas, of course. 

Maybe I’ll find out over this long weekend; don’t have to go back to work until Thursday.  I’d love to fill in that gap by Wednesday night.  Overly ambitious perhaps.  But, oh, my.  The End is near!

And if I finish on Wednesday there will be fireworks!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

My First Car

Thinking about drivers ed got me thinking about my first car.  Thanks to the wonders of Google and the Internets, I found a picture:

Isn't she cute?  It's a Hillman Super Minx.  Don’t worry if you didn’t get that first try.  Few people in the US seem to have heard of these.

That's the color scheme I had, too, although mine was faded from years in the Florida sun.  I purchased it at a used car lot, actually heard it was "only driven by a little old lady to and from church."  Didn't believe it for a minute, but that line seemed essential to the car buying process to nineteen-year old me.  My uncle, a mechanic for Mercedes at the time, checked out the car and broke into guffaws when he looked under the hood.  "The thing is powered by a sewing machine!"

The engine did have a sweet little ticking sound to it.  Got decent gas mileage, too, when I could calculate it.  The speedometer cable broke and I drove for nearly two years not knowing my speed or miles traveled.  This must have been A Feature of the car, because it was broken on every Hillman my mechanic checked in the junk yards.  (By the time I bought the car they had long ago stopped importing them from England.)

My mechanic Joe had worked at a local Mercedes dealership, but left to open his own shop.  Because he was an old friend of my dad and uncle, he agreed to work on my car.  I loved driving into his place.  The lot had Jaguars, Lamborghinis, Maseratis, Mercedes - and my boxy little Hillman! 

Joe told me that he enjoyed the car because there was enough room for him to work, unlike many of the fancy ones where nearly every square inch under the hood was occupied.  My engine took up maybe half the available space - hence my uncle dubbing it a sewing machine.  Joe checked for Hillmans in every junk yard he went to - even out of state - and had a collection of parts.  The two parts he/we needed that he never found were the above-mentioned speedometer cable and the nut that held the fly wheel pulley on. 

The fly wheel pulley fell off near sundown in front of the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach. 

There’d been a rattle under the hood for several weeks, but my dad kept saying he couldn’t hear it, it was nothing, etc.  I was on my way to a party and heard a clunk when the part fell off.  I stopped the car, ran back and picked up the mystery Piece!Of!My!Car! that looked important.  And was hot.  But, hey, the rattle stopped!  Scared that when I turned off the engine it wouldn’t start again and being a broke community college student not willing to pay for a tow, I drove home with a close eye on the engine temperature.  Made it to our driveway, strutted into the house in my party dress and heels, greasy pulley in my hand, and announced to my dad, “I found the rattle!” 

He about fainted.

Oh, yeah, important bit of info.  My dad was a mechanic, too.  I handed him the pulley and asked for his keys so I could go to the party.  He was so shocked he gave them to me. 

Well, the fly wheel pulley nut was missing from every junker Joe checked.  Another Feature, I suppose.  He rigged up something.  Whatever he did, the repair held. 

I really loved that goofy little car.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Drivers Ed

Today I made my annual trek to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) office to renew the sticker on my car’s license plate.  My timing was good; the line wasn’t very long and I was only in there about ten minutes.  Most of the chairs were occupied by students from a driving school, all in bright blue t-shirts with the school’s name and phone number across their backs in Large Letters.  They were probably there for their learner’s permits.  While I waited in line another drivers ed company brought in about a dozen students in bright red t-shirts with the company name on the front. 

Summer recess just started for the high schools around here. 

The local high schools do teach drivers ed, but because of funding cuts there are limited spaces.  Who gets in is decided by lottery.  Everyone else must take one of these commercial classes because the State of Illinois requires professional instruction. 

Things were different in my day.  (OMG I’m old enough to write that!)  Drivers education was a required course in high school; everyone took it. There was a movie we all had to watch - they showed it in the auditorium - called “Mechanized Death” or something equally horrid.  The cameramen accompanied EMTs to car accidents and filmed them saving lives - or not.  Several people fainted, including at least one guy.  I cheated by covering my eyes. 

For me, the school behind-the-wheel instruction included a stop at Dog and Suds.  Do they still exist?  It was a drive-in hot dogs and root beer place.  You parked, and when they brought your order it was on a tray that hooked over the window opening of the car.  Our instructor called it parking practice.  He always paid for root beer for himself and the three students in the car.  It was pull-straight-into-the-parking-spot-and-straight-out-again parking.  I have no memory of what kind of car the school had us drive.

When I finally got brave enough to go for my drivers test, here’s what I drove ... a Ford Galaxy 500. 

Not sure I’ve got the year right, and my dad wouldn’t have been caught dead in a car this color, but you get the idea.  (I think the only acceptable car colors for Dad were black, grey and white.)

I failed the driving test.  Asked to parallel park on a hill, I was too far from the curb and had the wheels angled the wrong way.  As you can guess, I practiced and practiced parking on hills.  When I retook the test, that officer didn’t even ask me to parallel park!  So I passed. 

For comparison, this is what my daughter drove for her driving test: 

A Toyota Tercel coupe.  Yes, in that marvelous color!  She was one of the lucky ones and had drivers ed through her school.  They didn't stop for soda that I know of.  She passed the test first try.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Feels like Magic

The novel has reached the stage where I need to pull in all the dangling threads and basically make things go Boom.  I have bits and pieces of at least six sections yet to be written, including one that took me completely by surprise.  And I passed 60,000 words yesterday. 

This is the magic that keeps me writing.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Stretch fishing boat

The video speaks for itself.

Duct tape is an essential part of any tool box.  Happy fishing!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

WRoE Summary for May

25 hours, 5074 word increase, word count at end of month 57280

Part of my time in May was spent doing another edit pass on the sections I’ll submit for critique later in June, so I didn’t get as many words per hour as last month.

I’m still having a grand time writing this.  I now know where the main characters will be at the end of the story.  The last three sections are in rough form in my head.  Not sure how they get from where they are now (on page 126) to where they will be then or how much happens in between.  Dangling threads must be captured, too.

As usual with this one, I just follow these folks around and write down what they do and say.  There have been many stretches where I couldn’t see beyond the section I was writing.  Because the story kept growing anyway, I have confidence in it and the characters to guide me to that rough ending.  Or another one!  They’ve sprung many surprises and I wouldn’t put it past them to have a few more for me before the story is done.

I'm not participating in the NaNoWriMo Summer Camp which started yesterday.  Want to finish editing Rising Tide then do the first pass edit on my 2010 NaNoNovel, Affairs.  So I suspect I won't be participating in the August Summer Camp, either. 

To all my NaNo Buddies and Friends who ARE getting to know their cabin mates and novel characters, Best of Luck and may the Word Count Fairie visit you often.  Here's lemonade and some fresh baked chocolate chip cookies to fuel the creativity.