Friday, September 27, 2013

And Now For Something Completely Different…

It was a very slow week for publishing news and a busy week for me with three books to format and a seminar.

So, I am giving you a different kind of post today and very different photos outside of the ones I post for inspiration. For those of you writing contemporary tales, one thing that comes up in a story at some point is what kind of cars do the characters drive? Because a car can say so much about a person, from social status to income level to personal tastes.

Need an idea for a car in your story? Trip down memory lane with me and see if one fits the bill. Or maybe the adventures I had with each one. Just don’t judge me!

My first vehicle, and the one I learned to drive on, was a 1969 VW Bus.
(Me at aged 3 with our brand new Bus.)

My dad had customized it for camping and we used to sneak people into the drive-in inside the built-in storage box. The thing had no guts and the only time it ever went over 65 was down a hill. I kept threatening to turn it into a dune buggy.

Next was a 1974 Ford Pinto. Very thankful no one ever rear-ended me.
(My cat Tiger inside the Pinto!)

After that, my mom sold me her 1978 Honda CVCC.

(It was so awful, I don't even have a picture of it! Imagine this brown...)

It was brown for a reason! And no AC. At the time, I was living in Arkansas, and I about died without AC.

Then at aged 21, I purchased my first pickup - a 1986 Mazda B2000!

It was a year old when I got it and had over 40,000 miles on it already. But it ran like a dream and towed a large U-Haul across country. Twice. I loved that truck!

Next came the Chevy Z-24. Not by choice though. My boyfriend couldn’t afford the insurance so I drove the Z while he drove my pickup. It was an automatic, which was weird for me - I’d only driven stick shifts. But it was the first car I ever got over 100 mph!

Long story short, my truck was traded in for something else and not long after, I and said boyfriend parted ways. What I really wanted to do was part ways with that Z! Still pining after my Mazda, I purchased another pickup - a 1989 Toyota.

It was basic, but I didn’t care - it was my first new car and I signed for it all by myself. That truck and I went through a lot together - slid off an icy overpass, broken windshield and side window three times, someone tried to steal the (bald) tires (ABQ police said it was a gang initiation), I backed into a ditch (farmer had to pull me out with his tractor), and I burnt out the clutch. (Worst smell ever!)

After eleven years, I really needed a new vehicle. By then, I’d fallen in love with Dodge trucks and we test drove both a Ram and a Dakota. My husband thought the Ram was way too big for me, but it came down to price - I could get a basic model Ram or a fully loaded Dakota. Easy choice!

(I couldn't find photos, although I have many, but this is what she looked like.)

She had a Bose stereo, a spray-in bed liner, and every extra I could throw on her. And with a 6 cylinder, 3.7 liter engine, she was fast and powerful! I felt like I was driving a tank, too. It was also a gas guzzler, and since I was traveling a lot for book signings, I spent a lot on gas. Since this was before gas prices went out of control, I didn’t care. I loved my Dakota!

Four years later, gas prices started to rise over $2.00. The truck also needed some work, as unfortunately Dodge is not the most reliable. It was with tears I took her in for something new, but I knew it had to be done…

Enter the Mazda Tribute.

After my first Mazda, I knew I could trust it. They only had two on the lot that were stick shifts, and since Mazda was the only one willing to deal, I picked the maroon one. That vehicle proved to be a trooper. The day after I purchased it, I went to Virginia Beach for a weekend of book signings and day one I did two things you’re not supposed to do with a new vehicle - I went way over 70 mph and I had to slam on my brakes on the Interstate and dive off to the side to avoid rear-ending the line of cars stopped ahead of me. (Can you picture me doing that? LOL!) She also had no guts, but the way I drove, I pushed her to have some.

Seven years later, I was approaching 200,000 miles. Yes, I travel a lot for speaking and book events! The Tribute still ran great, but I knew soon the time would come when she’d fail me. After months of test driving (I was in no hurry) I found my next vehicle - a 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe.

It was also a maroon red and fully loaded with every custom feature you could imagine - heated seats, killer stereo, sunroof, etc. The only downside was it was an automatic, but I already knew I’d never find another SUV that was a stick shift. The best part - I’d planned for this purchase and paid cash for the first time ever!

She’s also like a tank and very comfortable to drive. It won’t go 0 to 60 in four seconds, but it has something I have dubbed “turbo.” It’s like the space shuttle taking off - not fast, but as it gains speed, it accelerates very rapidly. I’ll pass a car and look down to discover I am doing 90 mph! (So, if you’re driving in NC and a maroon-red Sante Fe blows your doors off, it’s me!)

Those were all of my vehicles. Any one of them could fit with a character in your story. Or one of my adventures. If your character needs to spin off an icy overpass, just ask - I can give you all the gory details!


  1. I love my Jetta, but drove a mini van forever.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  2. Cool look into your car history! You're now making me think back on mine!!

  3. I had the same curly hair in the 80s. I have had fewer cars. A Ford Mustang, A Toyota Corolla, A Toyota Celica, A Honda Accords, A Ford Explorer, A Volvo, and now a Toyota Corolla and a Honda Odessy (I guess I didn't have fewer cars after all.

  4. I think I will pass on the Honda!

  5. Hmm, glad I wasn't driving the day you came to Cape Carteret, sounds like you are heavy on the old gas pedal.

    I always forget to take pictures of things, even when I have the camera with me which doesn't always happen. I don't have pix of any of the cars I have had in my lifetime.

  6. A tour down memory lane. Oddly enough, I remember my crappy cars more than my good ones.

  7. I had a number of small cars until I moved to the country. Without my SUVs I wouldn't have made it to work many days during the winter. We usually don't see a snow plow until hours after everyone else.

  8. We've been through a few cars, and the one hubs got the most tickets for was a Firebird, and his TR3 sports car.

    Now we have a SUV, because we still need to cart things for our daughters on occasion. I like having the carrying capacity of a SUV.

  9. Rhonda, it's a lot when you think about it. And yes, the days of the perm.

    Jo, I wouldn't have run you off the road, I promise.

    DG, I do, too. Lots of room. Would you believe my only two tickets were in that plain old Toyota truck?

  10. You drive nice set of wheels today. I laughed at the '78 Honda Civic, because it's the car my sister drove. Then, I tried to drive it, but the clutch gave out on me (i.e., I'm not an excellent driver and won't try driving a stick ever again) at busy intersections. Now, I like my Prius.


  11. My characters in the Champion world don't have cars - it's pre-industrial and steam there, but some of them have ships. My MC doesn't own any kind of transportation, which when I realized that during the first draft, was where I had a choice . . .bring griffins into the story, or giant eagles, or horses . . .I went with intelligent griffins. There are horses around, and my MC knows how to ride, but never does in the storyline . . .

    For my Captain Wrath series, he has his own themed space cruiser which undergoes some modifications as the story progresses so that it will still look like a space cruiser but have the firepower and engine of a space trader (they need guns to protect their cargo).

  12. I liked your trip down memory lane via your automobiles--very creative idea. This would make a great concept for a memoir.

  13. Such a great and PERSONAL post, L. Diane... SO cool to learn about the MANY vehicles you had.

    Funny.. I only had three... but then again I didn't get my driver's license until I was thirty... yes, you are reading right... LOL

  14. You better hope no traffic cops are reading this. They'll be keeping an eye out for you!

  15. Trucks ... what trucks? All I saw was the amazing hair throughout the years.

    Thanks for letting us know you a little better.

  16. Hi Diane,

    A history of your life so far with all the different vehicles. It does make for a fascinating trip down that memory lane.

    Yes and how you can incorporate those different cars and pick up trucks into stories and characters.

    I remember my very first car. A 1964 Plymouth Valiant, with push button automatic.

    Have a good weekend and drive safely.


  17. Hi L.Diane!
    I loved reading all your history! I too love trucks~ If I see a red bullet blas by-I'll race ya! ;D

    I'll be blasting off in a blue Honda Accord. I sure do miss my last car-it had a Turbo booster~

    Yes, be safe!

  18. I bet you almost died with no AC. My husband (then boyfriend) took me on a summer trip when we first met in Texas and Arkansas with no AC in the summer. I'm from Michigan and almost died.

  19. I loved reading this. It made me think of all the cars I've driven.

    I've always had small cars, but I wonder what it's like to have a truck, van, or SUV.

  20. That's a lot of cars! I wish I had a photo of the first vehicle I owned--an old hippie-style van. Most of the cars I've owned have been vans. The only ones that weren't vans were a 1979 VW Rabbit and a 1989 Hyundai Sport Hatchback. I'm a van man!

    I like this post theme. I think I'll use it on my memoir blog one week.

    Wrote By Rote

  21. Robyn, driving a stick does take practice.

    Tyrean, griffins was a good choice.

    Michael, I put it off until I was out of graduation, but you really put it off!

    Stephen, thank you!

    Gary, push button back then? Impressive.

    Ella, you're on!

    Natalie, yes, I almost died.

    Medeia, it's nice being able to see over the traffic.

    Lee, please do.

  22. We still own a stick, bought my first car with one and they are the best. My favorite vehicle was my Jeep pickup, but learned to drive in a Dodge Charger, my boyfriends.

    Our car also has windows that need to be rolled down the old fashioned way - hate electronics. But we love our car, too bad they don't make them anymore.

    Great story, and yes good way to start a memoir.

  23. Very interesting trip down your memory lane, and man! are you sure you should be driving?! I'd never heard of someone having so many incidents like that. :) But I'll see that high percentage as relative to the amount you drive. Be safe.

    Makes me want to go down a car memory lane of my own!

  24. A VW bus? Nice! I've had a Honda accord and a Toyota Tacoma so far... Hoping the truck keeps running for a nice long while.

  25. Fun vehicle history! Fun too, to learn about this part of your life. :)

  26. Diane,

    You might not believe it, but those older vehicle are going strong here on this island. Rarely, I see a VW and some people still have Bugs. :) You're right, cars do tell a lot about people.

    Thanks for signing up for the blog fest. I appreciate it.

  27. I've only ever owned 2 cars. In NYC I didn't have a car. I had my 1st for 16 years. Over 5 for #2 now. :) I learned to drive on a Chrysler Le Baron station wagon.

  28. Cool about all your cars. We've had all kinds, but the funnest to drive was a Smart Car. Or maybe the Camaro. Definitely wasn't the van :)

  29. Oh, I loved this. I had NO idea you were a speed-demon truck girl! Great to get to know you better. I've only had three cars, all of them Volvos. This is a great idea for a post, and I think I will steal it...
    Tina @ Life is Good

  30. So cool. So far I've only had two cars, but hopefully the third one will be new. :-)

  31. loved that journey thru your car timeline. brought back memories! and my sis bought a black toyota truck gor her first wheels & still has it, 20 yrs later! lots of miles with stories for every one. great source of inspiration!

  32. Hi Diane .. takes me back through my own journey. However the American roads I can see benefit from the larger vehicles ... sounds like you know and love your cars ...

    Travelling can be tiring, but is also a way to 'dream and create ideas' .. enjoy driving your maroon machine - sounds a great way to travel to your book shows and talking events ..

    Cheers Hilary