We’re Planning an Out-of-Town Trip. I Hope.

So. I’m writing what I hope will be my first novel (or maybe I’ll finish it and then put it in a metaphorical drawer somewhere on my computer for my grandchildren to find after I’m dead).

So far I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to make a sort of fanfiction-esque thing out of this novel. Much like Smallville or Harry Potter or Dark Shadows or any of the other properties that I’ve written about in the past, I need to know who these people are — what their pasts are, where they live, what they like, what they don’t like, how they dress, etc.

My protagonist grew up and currently lives in Chicago. The book is set in 2007 (for technology purposes, largely), and 2007 was a 17-year cicada year.

And, even though the book is set in the fictional country of Santa Chiara, I felt that refreshing my memory about periodical cicadas would still help me get into the head of my protagonist.

To that end, Alex and I were planning a trip to the Chicago area for the cicadas this year. As we planned, the costs started ballooning. My ballpark figure was about $1,200 for the two of us. But my dad wants us to stay in the suburbs, so that adds money for a rental car. And the Chicago Botanic Garden now charges admission, so there’s that. And we can’t just go all that way, listen to some cicadas and come home, if we’re going that far, we should spend some time, so that’s more hotel room rental. I have to pay to board Mila, and the longer we go, the longer we have to pay for boarding.

However, this is also a 13-year cicada year, and the 13-year cicadas come as far south as Arkansas. There’s a state park where visitors can dig for real diamonds. The Strawn-Wagner diamond, the only perfect diamond that the American Gem Society has ever certified, was found in that park. We’ve been twice and haven’t found a diamond either time, but something like an average of two diamonds a day are found there.

I’m hoping to convince Alex that this would be a better plan. We can drive it in one shot, since it’s in south-central Arkansas. I just looked it up. It’s 8-ish hours.

We can drop Mila off in the morning, drive up in one day, spend the night, do the park one day while experiencing the cicadas, spend the night, then drive back in one day. That would only leave Mila languishing in the vet’s office for two nights, since we could probably make it back before they close if we leave early enough. And if we can’t make it back, I can probably have Evelyn pick her up from the vet and then get her at her apartment.

I’m really getting enthusiastic about this.

I hope it works out.