When being powerless becomes old...

Monday, October 31, 2005

My work place got power yesterday so it was back to work today. Naturally, everyone had power but for two, including yours truly. It was the same last year with only 2 of us without power. You listen to the slight moaning of how awful it was to be without power for all of...one day, two days. Then the ever so slight smug but sympathetic comment of "Oh, you mean you still don't have power."


Then there's that moment when nearly every section of homes in your area has power restored when you get home except that small pitch black island of homes that includes your own.

Double sigh.

So you do the stiff upper lip while giving a silent grrrrrr.

Carol Stephenson, 7 1/2 days without power and counting


Sunday, October 30, 2005

Anticipation. This afternoon power trucks from Ohio were in the neighborhood. With the number of poles down, some in people's yards, the power people would have their hands filled simply removing, straightening poles, let alone reestablishing power. However, anticipation still fills you because it means your neighborhood is being worked on. Then hopefully, just hopefully, power will be restored within the next few days. I spoke with a couple of the workers as I'm from Ohio originally and ribbed that Ohio's cold winters are looking better and better since this is my 3rd hurricane in 13 months. The workers told me to hang in there, which of course I am. I spent the afternoon raking the smaller debris from the yard so it doesn't destroy a lawnmower.

But in anticipation, I'm enjoying a cool brew [can't be cold as I had the generator off all afternoon] while watching the Dolphins on my battery-operated TV. Hopefully, by next weekend I can watch my games on the regular TV.

:) Carol Stephenson

The Hurricane Drumbeat

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Quite a hurricane culture springs into action post storm. With limited access to TV/radio, word of mouth reigns supreme. For example, a friend of mine who lives in Boca Raton let me know that a grocery store with full power was opened.

Why is that important? Although it's too early post hurricane for items such as frozen goods to be back in the stores, it does mean items like milk, juice, bread, and some meats might be available. It also means that the store's ATM is operational. Most banks are still closed. Any restaurant or any other business open and running on generator takes only cash. With the high cost of gas, cash can go rather quickly.

So even though Boca Raton is about a 20 minute drive south under normal conditions, I headed to the store this morning. Lo and behold, there was a functioning ATM plus a decent stock of everything but frozen goods. A store with full power also means an entire grid has power so then you look for a gas station. I found one with a large number of pumps so that I got through in about 45 minutes...a lot better than the 2 hr. line I was in on Wednesday.

Now I have enough gas with rationing to make it to Tuesday or until power is restored in my neighborhood, whichever comes first.

:) Carol Stephenson, 5 1/2 days without power and counting

Post Wilma: on hearing from friends

Friday, October 28, 2005

One of the worst things following a hurricane is not knowing whether your friends are all right. With phone lines down, cell phone towers destroyed, and no power, communication is difficult to say the least.

My dad was a pack rat and kept an old Princess phone. Last year post hurricane Frances I learned that the old analog phones will work when there's no electric. So I've been able to call around, trying to contact friends. Finally, yesterday I reached my best friend whose power had just been restored. Today, I reached my agent who lives in Naples. She was without power, water and cell for the first few days, but she'd just gotten back her power and cell.

Now I can rest a bit easier...despite the gentle sounds of generators on the night. 4 1/2 days without power and counting.

:) Carol Stephenson

My Neighbor's Eucalyptus Tree and Wilma

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Wilma made a bull's eye strike across Palm Beach County. During the calm of the eye, I went outside. My neighbor's eucalyptus tree had been uprooted and was lying in the street.

Now if you're not in hurricane country, you might not know that generally the front wall of the eye contains the worse winds and the backside is milder. Not with Wilma. The backside was worse. My house shook under the howling onslaught. When the storm had passed, I went outside to begin the long task of cleaning up debris.

There across the street, Wilma's backside had flipped the tree up and over so that it was lying against the house. Talk about power.

My neighborhood had many huge trees upended and blocking roads. Light poles/wires down everywhere. We have no power and there's a gas shortage as the stations have no power. Since was my first year having a generator, I had no clue as to how much gas to have on hand. I ended up yesterday in one of those 2-hr lines waiting to get gas at one of the few operational stations. I am rationing my use, running the generator only enough at mealtimes to keep the food cold, cook meals, and check email.

However, I turned my book in on time. Using the last of my gas on Tuesday night, I printed out SHADOW LINES, on Wednesday found an opened post office running on a generator and mailed the book to my editor. The second hurricane season in a row I made deadline despite not having power.

Now back to cleaning up the debris.

:) Carol Stephenson

Snakes and other attorneys

Friday, October 21, 2005

There are many jokes elevating snakes to a better position in life over attorneys. When you hear a story like I heard tonight, you realize why.

I went to my hairdresser after work today, and he needed some advice. A few weeks ago a driver ran a red light and struck the car his wife was driving. Because they weren't sure how to handle the PIP [Personal Injury Protection] claim with their carrier, a friend had suggested they contact an attorney she recommended. When the wife called and told the attorney what orthopedic surgeon she had seen, he told her that he wanted her to start seeing his doctor because he didn't want her getting well... She told him no thanks and is checking into other attorneys.

Why would an attorney want a client to switch to a doctor who can't heal their injuries? For starters, in Florida depending on the policy provisions, PIP coverage generally is up to $10,000. for medical bills and wage loss. Once an injured person blows through this, it helps the person to meet one of the jurisdictional requirements to file a personal injury law suit. Of course, there's the matter of damages, including pain and suffering. If a person doesn't get better, so much better for the attorney to argue to a jury that his client deserves a high jury award

I don't know what bothers me most about what was said to my hairdresser's wife: that the attorney wanted to change her from a good doctor whose treatment might improve her condition or that there's a doctor out there possibly taking on this attorney's clients with the goal not to make them better.

A snake and a lawyer both got hit by a car. What's the difference between em? The snake had skid marks in front of him.

Go figure.

Carol Stephenson

Hey W-i-i-lma!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

There are many bad things about hurricanes, but the waiting game is a killer. Wilma's heading for my slice of Florida, and already we've had sporadic gas outages. There are long lines for gas and long lines for groceries. I now have a full tank and my stash of groceries. On Saturday I'll put up the hurricane shutters and remove the flying missiles from the yard. Following Hurricanes Francis and Jeanne last year, I heard one man's story about listening to avocados striking his house like bombs so tonight I picked several bags of avocados off my tree to take into work.

My book deadline is 11/1 so I'll be curled up on the sofa, finishing the polishing work while watching Wilma's approach. To my fellow Floridians, be safe.

Carol Stephenson

Palm Beach County Courthose Restoration Project

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Did you know that COURTING DANGER is set against the backdrop of the restoration of the 1916 Palm Beach County Courthouse?

The courthouse served as a hurricane shelter in 1928 and was one of the few structures in downtown West Palm Beach to survive. When overcrowding led to the current courthouse complex, the former one was abandoned with the ball of demolition hung over it -- until given the green light for a restoration plan, leaving the original 1916 building to house the county's first historical museum. Restoration has run into an asbestosis snag, but the progress can be viewed by webcam at http://www.historicalsocietypbc.org/1916_courthouse.asp.

:) Carol Stephenson


Thursday, October 13, 2005

Recently, those folks who have either read or heard me describe the plot of my Madonna Key book SHADOW LINES have mentioned how eerie the recent news has been about the Bird flu.

Last May when I signed on board with the Madonna Key continuity, the blurb from which I had to develop a story was basically my heroine was an epidemiologist and an outbreak kills off a small Switzerland village. I had to come up with the disease and everything else for that aspect of the book that is stand alone. I did extensive research, rejecting bubonic plague and Ebola as having been done a lot. I came across a few articles about the Spanish flu and the 1918 Pandemic. After killing off an estimated 50 million people, the Spanish flu petered out and hasn't been seen since. I also came across an article that mentioned scientists were trying to recreate the DNA.

I did an 'aha' and a 'what if' and used a resurrected Spanish flu strand to kill off the village. Then, as my book developed, I also wrote about an international health congress in Vienna, Austria that is threatened.

Hmm, if you've heard the recent news, reporters have compared the Bird flu to the Spanish flu pandemic and there's been a health congress in New York to address a new pandemic.

So a number of events in my just completed book are currently playing out in real life. Spooky indeed.

Carol Stephenson

New James Bond!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Woohoo! Daniel Craig will be the new James Bond. While it may take some getting used to a blond Bond, this edgy actor will hopefully be hot, hot, hot like he was in The Tomb Raider. :) Carol Stephenson

Long time no blog

Monday, October 10, 2005

My, how time flies when one is busy. Somehow I lost track of days. First, I finished the rough draft of SHADOW LINES at 12:40 p.m. on Saturday, October 1st. I no sooner celebrated the completion when I got slammed at work with mediations.

This week I've been busy with revisions and polishing. Since I'm a 'pantser' writer, I find that the first part of my books always need the most work. The further I get into a book, the more I fall into my character's voice. Then there's the foreshadowing for all the twists and turns the thriller has taken.

My contract deadline is 11/1 so at least I have the comfort that I can turn in the ms, but I want to polish my 'baby' until it shines. So I have dictionary and thesaurus by my side and the hard copy printed out with a growing number of pages with additions and corrections. I brought the book in at 320 pages because I knew new developments either from the dynamics of my story or from the other continuity authors would need to be worked in. I suspect before it's all done, I'll be at 340 pages.

:) Carol Stephenson