So, This Happened:

Yes, this really happened. I have no idea why my brain thought it needed to throw out those two particular words this week. I don’t know anyone named Culpepper, and I can’t even remember when I last heard or read the name. I’ve never cooked brisket, or considered cooking brisket; in fact I don’t think I’ve ever eaten brisket.

But I guess if there’s a character named Culpepper in my next book who likes brisket, you’ll know why.

Please tell me I’m not the only one with a brain that wakes me by spewing random words…

What Have I Been Smoking?!?

Lately I’ve had reason to question my own sanity…

Okay; so ‘sanity’ might be a bit of a stretch for me.  Let’s just say that lately I’ve been wondering if I’m crazier than I realized.

Here’s why:

A couple of weeks ago I stopped off at the lumber store.  I was in there for about two minutes, and as I walked back to my vehicle I thought, “Shit, did I forget to lock the doors?”  (I’m having a hard time adjusting to power locks after decades of locking my old car manually.)

So I walked up to the driver’s door and pulled on the handle; and was pleasantly surprised to discover that I had actually locked the car.  So I unlocked it, got in, and drove away… for about ten feet, when the overwhelming smell of cigarette smoke nearly made me gag.

I thought somebody must have walked by with a cigarette and the smoke had been momentarily sucked into the fresh air intake, so I kept driving.

A block down the street, the smell was getting stronger.

What the hell?  Had somebody flicked a live butt into my front grille?

I got out, popped the hood, and examined the front grille from top to bottom.  Nothing.

By the time I got back in the vehicle the smell had dissipated, but as soon as I drove forward again the reek was back, just as strong as if somebody had gotten into the car and lit up.

I stopped again.  Got out and checked the entire vehicle inside and out.  I even looked under the floor mats in case some diabolical smoker had seized the scant moments while I’d been inside the store to open a door (which I might have forgotten to lock after all), hide a butt somewhere, lock the car just to mess with my mind, and then flee.

But nope.  Nada.

I made several more stops where I repeatedly checked the vehicle from nose to tail and even checked the treads of my hiking boots to make sure I hadn’t stepped on a butt and carried it into the car with me.   I drove to the dealer and asked them where the secret cigarette-butt hiding place was; but they were as mystified as I.  Finally, I resigned myself to the knowledge that I was being haunted by the malevolent ghost of chainsmoker who only lit up when my car was in forward motion.

The smell is gone now and I never did find the source, so who knows?  Maybe a butt got stuck in the tire tread.  Or maybe it really was a ghost.

And speaking of ghosts in the machine, my TurboTax program is haunted, too.  Only a few days after the car debacle I was confronted by this:

TurboTax says that a Total Federal Tax of zero, minus tax credits totalling zero, equals $214.04 tax owing. I haven’t even entered my income yet.

I won’t get into the tooth-grinding frustration and unending support calls this has produced; but ultimately the TurboTax no-help-whatsoever-desk decided that it’s my fault1 their software subtracts zero from zero and gets two hundred and fourteen, and they’ve closed my so-called “support” ticket.

I’m not surprised; because clearly, I’m nuts.

Or at least, I am now

* * *

1 Transcript of the call, after the first hour of futility:

TurboTax HelpDesk:  “You’ve done something wrong.  Our software is infallible.”

Me:  “Okay.  What have I done wrong?”

TTHD:  “I don’t know.  You’ll have to enter something somewhere on a form.  Make sure you fill in all the fields.”

Me:  “Okay, which form?”

TTHD:  “I don’t know.  We don’t give tax advice.”

Me:  “I’m not asking for tax advice.  Your software is subtracting zero from zero and getting two hundred and fourteen.”

TTHD:  “Yes, because you’ve done something wrong2.”

*repeat loop*

2 Clearly, I did do something wrong.  I bought TurboTax.

It’s A Fine Line…

People often ask me about my creative process, so I thought it might be helpful to provide an illustration of the exact process that went into creating last week’s post.  Voilà:  My Creative Process.

P.S. We have a release date for Book 10,  Spy Away Home:  September 4, 2015!  I tried really hard for August, but it just wasn’t to be.  Pre-orders should be available at all distributors within the next few days (Amazon and Smashwords are already up).  If you’ve signed up on the new-release notification list, you’ll get an email when all the pre-orders are up, and again when the book is available.

P.P.S.  I’m on the road today, so I won’t be able to respond to comments until this evening.  ‘Talk’ to you then!