TURTLE HULL AND OTHER MISADVENTURES OF EDITING

Yes indeed, that is the phrase I used.  Turtle hull.

It is from my childhood.  Turtle hull is what we called the ‘trunk’ of a car.

I uploaded my new science fiction short story, The Deep Cove Investigation last night after working at editing the 12k word tale all week.  It is the fourth installment in my monster series, set in 1978.

The Classic Police Car.  This 1967 model, at 11 years old, would have been about right for Deep Cove
The Classic Police Car. This 1967 model, at 11 years old, would have been about right for Deep Cove

In writing the story,  I decided (to have one of the characters call the trunk of a car the ‘turtle hull.’  More than one of my beloved proofers asked, “What is that?”  in their comments.  That made me wonder if it were a regional thing or a family thing.  You know how some families have names for things that no one else has (for an intriguing look at some funny words, read Roy Blount, Jr.’s Alphabet Juice.)

I looked turtle hull up on the cosmic source of confirmation and research, a writer’s most trusted verifying tool:  Google.  Sure enough, there it is.  Other people use it too.  So, I decided to keep turtle hull in the manuscript.

Other things, however, didn’t stay.

1.  Part of the story’s narrative involves some teenagers who were partying by the lake, but now they can’t be found.  The newspaper man asks The Sheriff if he’s got any clues on the missing teens, and in the original I had The Sheriff reply, “Don’t start printing the milk carton backs just yet, it has been less than 24 hours.”  I really liked that line and thought it was clever.  Sadly, a little research turned up that milk cartons were not used until 1979!  Drats!  I missed it by one year.  I had to reword it.

2.  I’ve already shared with you the “ain’t” (click here) conundrum.

3.  The original opening paragraph said “The Sheriff walked direct to his office on the . . . ”  My mother read that and said, “It should be directly, not direct.”  I told her that adverbs were bad for writing and that direct was proper.  I asked her to substitute the word straight for direct, and if so, would you say straightly?  She didn’t buy it.  I therefore rewrote the whole paragraph.

This is the first of the three short stories in this series that doesn’t have an obvious reference to music.  The first story has country music on the AM dial, the second story featured Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac on 8-tracks, while the third, set further back in the 1960s showed a romantic scene with what else but the Righteous Brothers.  Music is an easy way to set a period piece.

Without music, I was forced to set the time period in other ways.  The police squad car is a Plymouth Fury.  References are made to the movie Jaws.  A sub-plot involves a man who left Austin after the infamous 1966 Charles Whitman murder spree atop the Texas Tower.  Then there are the Polaroids.  I though that the Polaroid camera was a nice touch.

The story should be available soon (within the next week or so, probably).  The next thing we have to do is get the cover art squared away and then, since it is all digital for E-Readers, we can upload it and you can read it.

 

image courtesy of allpar.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

IT “AIN’T” WORKING

Oh Microsoft, why do you vex me so?

My wonderful proof readers have challenged my quirky use of the word “aint” in the text of my new short story.  Because it is slang, and I only use it in dialogue, I made a choice to spell it without the apostrophe, aint.  I thought it might make the text interesting.  However, their eagle eyes all called attention to it.  One rule of writing is that the spelling and word usage should never be a distraction so I opted to follow their advice and change it to the more accepted “ain’t” with the apostrophe.

When I did this, I used the FIND/REPLACE option in the editing of Microsoft Word.  That should make it very easy, right?

Not really.

The stupid software turned maintenance into main’tenance, which is a word that appeared in the text more than the word “ain’t.”  Therefore, by trying to take the easy road, I only made more work for myself.

Ugh.  Stupid Microsoft.