Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Wednesday Wanderings

What I'm reading: Chasing Darkness by Robert Crais

What I'm writing: Workshop notes, newsletter articles.

After spending FAR TOO LONG getting an email setup on my cell phone (even the cell phone store manager didn't understand why things weren't working), I'm now down to the camera issues. No matter what, the pictures are blurred. Had to join yet another forum group to try to get answers. Started utilizing some of the vacated bookshelf space. Only problem is that when your books are already stacked three deep. things don't look to different when you're done. And I'm never sure of the best way to organize them, because if I put them on the shelves by author, which is logical, I have to reorganize every time I add new books to their proper spots. But, headway is being made.

I had one of those "dang-it" moments while I was writing--a realization that my setup for putting my hero out of communication range might not work because I've already established him as a techno-junkie. Unlike Dalton, my previous book's hero, Fozzie definitely would want to have the latest tech gear. I had to stop and figure out why he wouldn't have the best possible cell phone, one that would ensure he was never out of range. He'd probably have a satellite phone. This meant researching cell phones and satellite phones, learning about high-orbit and low-orbit satellites in the process.

I did discover some drawbacks to the satellite phones--you still need a line of sight to the sky, and the connections are much slower. That might put a hitch in his ability to get immediate communication, but I didn't want to have to deal with geography every time I wanted a call delayed. While it's fine to write what's possible, if you stretch things too far, readers get annoyed. Can't have these coincidental 'bad connection' situations happening or it starts becoming author intrusion.

What I did find that will work (I hope) is that the cost of these satellite phones is prohibitive for your Average Joe Consumer, my protagonist included. All I had to do was add a quick grumble that he couldn't afford the kind of equipment he used on the job, and I could move forward again.
Of course, by the time this book might hit a book store shelf, it's likely that the cell phone technology will be advanced enough so dead zones are a thing of the past--but I can't write what might happen. I can only plod along with what's available during the time frame of the book.


Katie Reus said...

Hmmm, when my husband did contract work overseas (Jordan, Iraq, and Afghanistan), his satellite phone was a God send and we never had delays when talking. Don't know if that helps?

Terry Odell said...

Katie, who paid for the phone and the calls? My research says they're very expensive -- expensive enough with stiff enough per-minute rates that I can see my guy not needing one since he's not really home all that much (and when he is, he probably doesn't need to make overseas calls).

The trials and tribulations of getting things 'right.'

Katie Reus said...

Lol, we sure didn't pay for the phone. It was his contracting company and money was pretty much no object to them. I can only imagine how expensive they are for individuals. If your guy isn't going to be overseas you're right, it doesn't make sense for him to have one :)

Terry Odell said...

Well, preliminary and admittedly cursory research was showing prices between $750 and $1500 for the phone, and then the usage fees were about $1.50 a minute. I'm sure there are better deals, but I figured when Fozzie's on a mission, he can use a company phone, and if he's home, he can use a normal cell phone like the rest of us mortals.