I went to Lawrence Kansas for a two-week science fiction novel writing workshop this summer, followed by a two-week writing retreat. The workshop started June 9th and the retreat continued into early July. Financially this was a stretch, but my job gives me summers off and with my daughter back home I didn’t feel too bad about leaving my wife home alone all that time. They are good friends now that my daughter is an adult.

In any case, four weeks of concentrated writing time was great. I put the finishing touches on my alternate history novel Finding Yourself (now renamed The Necklace of Time and available on Amazon, which is cool—novel number 7 out the door for me). I also worked on

I drove to Kansas and back using a rental car, a Ford mild-hybrid, which mainly means that it is able to store and use energy that would otherwise be wasted in braking. It consistently claimed to have recaptured over ninety percent of the braking energy and sometimes all of it..

It’s a much more modern car than the beater I normally drive, with a very nice built-in GPS system, on a well-thought-out display that makes driving in unknown territory much simpler than a cell phone or a stand-alone GPS.

The more modern aspect bit me at first, though. I almost didn’t get started. I brought the car home the night before the trip and apparently left some power-draining accessory on. When I came out to start the trip, the battery was dead. In an older car, that wouldn’t be too much of a problem. Just pop the hood and connect a charger. With this car there was no apparent way to get into the car with the battery dead and no way to get the hood up to recharge the battery without getting into the car.

After a lot of experimenting, I discovered that there was a key hidden in the fob, but where was the keyhole? After a lot of looking around the doors, I tried a Google search, which told me that there was a keyhole hidden near the driver’s side front door handle. Hidden is the operative word. I had to pry off a piece of rubber molding with a screwdriver to get at it. All of this just to get into the car, after which I had to figure out how to charge the battery—not necessarily that easy when you’re talking a hybrid.

I think I’ll stick to my 19-year-old Buick a while longer—as in until it drops dead. Cars without visible keyholes scare me.

I listened to books on Audible most of the seven-hour trip to Lawrence and back, a Chris Nuttal space opera on the way there and a Louis Lamour western on the way back. Mindless entertainment in the case of the western, but it did pass the time. I used an iPad and a Bluetooth external speaker to play the books. The iPad internal speaker isn’t quite strong enough to overcome the road noise, but the external speaker worked well. If I had dinked around a bit, I suspect that I could have synced the iPad with the car’s speakers, but I was okay with the external speaker.