I began driving a 1936 Dodge car when I was 14. My now husband helped me out with the finer points. The gear shift was on the floor, there was this strange apparatus most young readers won’t know about called a clutch. One had to depress it with the left foot in order to shift gears. There were three gears that went forward, one that went backward and a brake pedal. Fairly simple once one got the hang of it. Learning to back up and manage to head in the right direction was probably the most difficult of the tasks.
I had many adventures during that time, including once when I asked my dad if I could drive his pickup to the store, about seven or eight blocks away. He smiled, handed me the keys and I was off. I would only learn the reason for that smile of his when I climbed back in the truck, put the key in the ignition, and couldn’t find reverse on the gearshift. It was in an entirely different place because there were four forward gears. My dad thought that was hilarious. I finally found some man walking to his vehicle who could show me where reverse was.
Now, fast forward 70 mmmf years. In order to attend Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. conference in Oklahoma this past weekend, I rented one of those electric scooters. My legs refuse to carry me around like they once did. The scooter had one wheel in the front, two in the back, with little wheels underneath that kept it from turning over.
Folks, I’m here to tell you those little wheels saved me many a mishap as I tried to drive the scooter. There were no gears, just a lever that you pulled on to go forward and pushed on to go backward. No brake either, it stopped dead when you turned loose of the lever. The first thing I learned was not to panic and squeeze the steering mechanism, which I did a few times. Squeezing caused a runaway scooter. Once I almost ran over Charlotte Smith who was helping me take my posters to my room. I bumped a few things, scraped the rear tires on a few things cutting close corners, and just generally had a whooping good time. I wasn’t the only one whooping, either.
There was also a horn that sounded sort of like those backup beepers on heavy equipment. It managed to scatter the herds once in a while, warning them I was on the warpath.
I’m a writer, in case some of my readers aren’t yet aware of that. My Western historical fiction only calls for dexterity around specific words pertaining to horseback riding. I’m here to tell you guiding a horse with reins is ten times the easiest. Even stopping said horse is fairly simple, unless, of course one bolts under you.
My horse once mistook a loud groan for whoa and stopped right in the middle of the road. Then, angry with me for being so foolish, she tossed her head and managed to get the bit in her teeth at which time she showed me the opposite of whoa fairly well. But riding that runaway scooter was much more of an adventure than riding a runaway horse, believe me. The next time I rent one, I’m going to practice a lot longer before I take it on the road.
A good time was had by all at this terrific conference. I was able to have several talks with my publisher, Rhonda Penders of The Wild Rose Press, and several of her editors. We had breakfast together Sunday morning before we all headed back home to get to work on our current books.
After the publication of two Western Historical Romances with them, I’m happy to say that I just signed a new contract with The Wild Rose Press for my women’s fiction novel, Once There Were Sad Songs. You’ll hear more about that if you stay tuned over the next few weeks and months.
There’s nothing like a writer’s conference to get the creative juices flowing. Visiting with all my writer friends that I only see once a year was a joy as well. Now I have to get to work writing.