Thursday, March 19, 2009

Where do you get your license to kill?

Every writer gets the where do you get your ideas question. A lot. I used to say from everywhere, especially from interesting articles. Now I'm more likely to say from real life. Story is conflict. And how many of us get through life without conflict?

For example, I bought a semi-used (meaning dealer owned) car on January 22. The numbers guy gets all my info to do a title transfer on-line. Finds out that my license needs to be renewed in March, so he has to do that before he can change the title. The only problem being that my EPA test was due. In March. It was January. And I was trading in the vehicle that needed testing, hence the title transfer. Somehow he got around the system and put the title change through and said I would have to do the license renewal when I received it in the mail.

Cut forward to the end of February and receipt of the bill to renew my plates. It said I need an EPA test because of course the old car was still listed. And, since I have a new car, I can't go online to do anything. I must cross out all the old info and write in the correct info and send a check. Which I did.

Which, last week, came back to me UNOPENED with a letter from the Secretary of State's office saying I needed an EPA test and couldn't renew my license until I got one. So I spent an hour on the phone trying to get this straightened out and was told that I could either call this number and give them my credit card or I could go to a state facility. After futilely trying to get through on the phone, I drove to the nearest facility.

And was told I needed an EPA test. After an exhausting explanation, I was cheered to see the clerk understood. She even called up the VIN on the new car and said yes, the title was entered...but it didn't go through. It was on hold. No explanation. So she tried to go around the system, but couldn't. She called Springfield and the person there said the system had to be "rebooted" and that would probably do the trick, but she didn't know when that would be. I had two weeks before I would start collecting tickets. The clerk kindly told me that of course I could go to court and explain what happened. So my choices were to either sit and wait to see if the title cleared or to make the dealer give me new plates.

I left in defeat. I emailed my salesman and told him what happened. The next day he said he would look into it. Miraculously today the clerk called me and so did my salesman. Apparently something was missing in the title transfer and it had just been sitting there all that time. I finally was able to pay for my license sticker.

Now, if I used that crazy situation in a book--an employee agreeing that I didn't have the old car and the title was there but "stuck" and she didn't have the power to override the system, would an editor believe it? I'm not sure.

What I am sure of is that I can do anything I want with paperwork and licenses and transfers and anything else a government agency is responsible for and make it work. Yes, I do believe I've earned that license to kill...

Good reading,
Patricia Rosemoor

Watch for my April book, RESCUING THE VIRGIN.


  1. Good grief, after going through all that, I think I might not have waited for a license before the killing commenced. ;)

    My only real criteria for including something in my books is that it be plausible. So I try to find out if such a situation could actually come about. If it can, even if it's unlikely, and the story needs it to happen, I'll figure out how to make it work.

  2. Go ahead and write the story and I'll bet you get a winner. Surely a whole lot of people can sympathize with beauracracy (or however that word is spelled).

  3. OMG! Yes! It would make a great coflict story!! And who was it that said, "This really happened, Hey, you can't make this kind of stuff up!" :D