Dead truck

FI dead truck

My truck died. That’s one of my (many) excuses for not updating more recently. I thought I was pretty hot stuff when I rolled out of the Ford dealership in my brand-spanking new 2001 F-150 Extended Cab pickup truck back in May, 2001. (I wasn’t hot stuff, but that had nothing to do with the truck!)

2001 F-150 truck when it was new
I can’t remember when I took this picture, but it was soon after getting the truck. No dents, no peeling paint! And some clown lying on his back to get the shot.

She’d been a great vehicle, even after her paint started flaking and the dents grew too numerous to count. Mechanically, there were very few things wrong with her: a clutch plate early on, an intake manifold later, etc. I’m not a “car guy” (or a truck guy), but I took care of a few things here and there: new spark plugs, a new coil pack, a new MAF sensor, to name a few.

When she was all loaded up onto the tow truck, destined for her next adventure, I told my wife I was “kinda sad” to see her go. It’s amazing how attached we sometimes become to inanimate objects. Yes, a truck—technically—isn’t inanimate when it’s functioning properly. Mine wasn’t. I found out there was something screwy with its vacuum system, but before I could get that repaired, the fuel system conked out, too. When it became more expensive to repair than it was worth…

I haven’t had to deal with new-truck-stuff for almost twenty years. Maybe I won’t have to deal with it again for another twenty! Anyway, my old truck is no longer mine. Farewell, old friend!

Dead 2001 F150 truck on flatbed
The old truck ready to be put out to pasture. Or wherever it is dead trucks go when they’re dead.

I finished writing Chapter XVI

In other, book-related news, I finished Chapter XVI for Between the Lion and the Wolf (BLW)! That means four to go. I’m sure you’re capable of simple math, but I break it down like that more for my benefit: with approximately 140,000 words behind me, the next few thousand shouldn’t be too difficult to come by…should they?!

And this time, I actually wrote out the major elements I want to address over the next four chapters. Granted, that doesn’t mean I will—or maybe I’ll swizzle the order of things—but it puts me closer toward the end of Book II, with a “kinda, sorta” clear path to follow. Admittedly, my notes are a touch nebulous, but I don’t like to constrain myself too much. Anyway, I’ll post a few paragraphs for your perusal:

“Anyway, it looks like you’ve been spending more time at your smithy? How are things going there?”

Before Zhalera could respond, Abarandal looked away and seemed to shrink into shadow. Nïmrïk, listening from the kitchen, paused his chopping and sucked in a breath. Kalas understood at once he’d asked the wrong questions.

“No, I’m sorry, I don’t—” he tried to say.

“Kalas, it’s hopeless! Hopeless!” she wailed as she burst into tears. “The metal won’t…it won’t obey me! It’s not like it was when Father was around! The metal respected him! He could shape it into anything! He made it look easy! Maybe too easy! I thought I could do it—something, I don’t know, but now I’m starting to think that knife of yours is the best I’ll ever manage!”

“Zhalera, that’s not—”

“I thought things would change, that they’d get better! You’re always telling me how great you think it is, and for a while, I started to believe you knew something I didn’t! And the smith at Melash: he acted like he was impressed with me, and again, I thought maybe I could rise above my doubts—but no matter how much I believe in myself—no matter how much anyone else believes in me, it doesn’t change the fact that I’m not just up to the task!” She glanced—no, glared at Abarandal and added: “No matter how strongly a stone believes it can swim, when tossed into the river, it’ll sink straight to the bottom!”

Excerpt from Between the Lion and the Wolf, Chapter XVI.

Lots going on up to this point, and I’d like to think I’m crafting a compelling dénouement for BLW. I guess we’ll see. I’ve been surprised—and encouraged—to learn a few people are getting interested in Beneath the Vault of Stars. (As always, I’d still love to get their reviews!) Hopefully, they won’t have to wait much longer for the next installment…

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