Sunday, September 23, 2012

Car Trouble

A funny thing happened on the way to Word on the Street... I didn't make it.

I had packed my books and bumph the night before. The bag was waiting at the top of the stairs. My travel mug was in the car. The car's tank was full.

After several attempts, I picked out the perfect outfit. Since this was a similar outfit to the one I wear at almost every book event I do, one might wonder what took me so long.  I applied my Stephanie Plum ego enhancer (eyeliner and a swipe of mascara) and was ready to go.

The car started, but it wouldn't leave first gear. With a sigh, I killed the engine and slipped it into second before starting it again. On cold damp mornings, my car, like me, doesn't want to get in gear.

I had to kill the engine and restart at the next two lights. For some reason, the transmission shifts just fine when the car isn't running. Usually, by the second light, the car has warmed up enough not to be a problem. This time I had to stop and start over at the third intersection and then when I stopped for coffee (which I badly needed by then). That's when I noticed my right headlight was out.

When I reached Highway 6, I went north instead of south. This led me away from the freeway and on my way to Canadian Tire. An hour and a half later I was ready to give up on Toronto. Now I only had an hour to make an hour and a half drive -- if I was lucky. While I was calling in my regrets, I was told my car was ready.

The broken headlight was fixed and it didn't cost as much as expected.

I waited for the boom to fall.

"We couldn't find anything wrong with my transmission. I'm not saying there's nothing wrong, but it's working now."

I left thinking that I should have toughed it out and kept driving. I could have been shilling books by now. Then I started the car and put it in gear. There was nothing wrong. The clutch point had changed, but I could get used to that. With buoyant spirits and a stick shift that was no long stuck, I headed home.

Naturally, I bemoaned missing Word on the Street. I was looking forward to seeing friends and colleagues I rarely see in person. I hoped to sell a few books, chat up a few prospective readers, maybe network with a reporter.

Then it started to rain.

My car was finally fixed. I was dry and relatively warm. It all turned out for the best.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Deadly Future

It's 2018, just a few years into the future. Somethings are better. Somethings are worse.

Deadly Legacy is a mystery that is one part PI, one part police procedural with a splash of speculative fiction and a dash of noir.

Why is it set in the future? Because I wanted it to be part PI/part police procedural in a way that wouldn't work in the here and now. Besides, I had all this cool background research on the future of community policing and geeky technology stuff that I picked up doing other stuff.

So, I created a near and probably alternate future. Like the old Max Headroom series, Deadly Legacy is set a few steps into a possible future. Shantytowns built from disposable consumer technology surround the city. Everything that you ever saw in a CSI or Bones episode is possible, but criminals aren't intimidated by forensic evidence because they've watched and learned from those shows too. Police hire consulting detectives because most of them are former police that got downsized.

Somethings are better. Prejudice based on race, religion, and sexual orientation isn't the issue it is now. Somewhere between now and then, I've decided that we get a little smarter about that. Or maybe corporations will decide that kind of bigotry is no longer profitable.

Deadly Legacy is FREE on Kindle 
until midnight Sunday, September 9
or maybe 0200 EDT 10.09.2012. Time is such a tricky thing.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labour Day Tribute to Mothers

I spent the better part of today transferring my desktop computer to my son.

This was partly self-serving. I use my laptop more and he was taking over my office. Now I get my desk back.

Regardless, the task required more than two hours of backing up and stripping files (just in case there was something important or confidential left there) and another two hours of fiddling with the new wireless router. (My desktop wasn't built wireless.)

Now Sam can work at his own desk. Of course, when I say work, I really mean play Minecraft and keep in constant communication with his friends.

My desk is a disaster area.

Then I remembered that it was Labour Day. I won't say it's the last day of my holidays, because I worked most of the summer, but it is the last day before my crossing guard job starts up for another year. I don't mind the work, but I miss the lack of routine that summer brings.

Labour Day made me think of the Labours of Heracles - or Hercules if you prefer - immortalized in legend and crockery. Personally, I think Herk had it easy compared to parents.

Heracles fought the Nemean Lion - once. Parents fight to get their kids out of bed every school day.

The Hydra stuns. The hydro bill petrifies.

The Hind was a challenge - but how many behinds does a mother clean up after?

Is it harder to kill the Boar or get your kids to eat it when it's put on a plate? My fall-back has always been: "Let them eat peanut butter."

Cleaning the Augean Stables can't have been worse that trying to keep the dining room table clear so you can use it for its intended purpose.

Finally, if you want a lot of bull, forget Crete. Listen to your teenager talk herself out of the door.

Labour Day was created to celebrate industrial workers. Let us also celebrate the efforts of parents everywhere and the Labours of Motherhood.