When the media gets bored

Saturday, November 26, 2005

I guess a rural area with primarily migrant population isn't exotic enough news for the media. Take Belle Glade. Hurricane Wilma destroyed about 75% of this town on the east side of Lake Okeechobee. This area is largely agricultural...major sugar cane farming. Consequently, the workers are primarily migrant workers. Guatemalans, Mayans, Mexicans, etc. Often they live together in cramped quarters, 8-10 people in a postage-sized apartment. Every payday they stand in long lines at the post office to mail money to their families back home in the countries they came from.

These workers barely had anything before and now don't even roofs over their heads. But those the media report on their condition? Heck no. They long ago pulled up stakes, heading for 'bigger' stories. Go figure.

Carol Stephenson

Post Thanksgiving

I managed to avoid stores on Black Friday but instead got slammed with a nasty headcold. There went most of my weekend 'to do' list. However, on Friday my wonderful neighbor chopped up and removed my fence that got destroyed in Hurricane Wilma. After we had dragged the debris to the curb, I was wondering how long it would be before the next sweep would be made by the hurricane clean-up crews. Lo and behold, ten minutes later the forklift came through and picked up the fence remains.

I'm giving up on the fence though. We're supposed to be in this active hurricane cycle for 10-20 years, so I'm planting ficus shrubs for privacy. Maddie doesn't wander far from the house, only going into the yard when I'm outside so I don't need the enclosure for her.

Three knockdowns in thirteen months is quite enough. No more digging post holes for me.

:) Carol Stephenson

Miami Book Fair

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Today I did a booksigning for the Miami Book Fair at the Murder on the Beach Book Store's booth. I managed to get lost big time to the location. I'm not all that familiar with Miami and many traffic signs remain damaged/twisted. I missed the exit and Lord knows where I was and what it took to circle back. Eventually, I found the correct exit by a process of elimination only to run into a long line of cement trucks. They're building a high-rise and decided today would be when they poured cement...right by the blocks cordoned off for the book fair. Really lovely traffic snarl.

However, I persevered and found my way to the booth. One must keep in mind that I don't have one ounce of sales personality. How people make a living at sales is beyond me. But I piled Hersey's kisses in front of my books to lure the poor suckers close and handed out bookmarks. I also did get to autograph for a number of book who bought my book. After chatting with a few fellow authors, I raced home to watch the Ohio State-Michigan game.

A girl has to have her priorities.

:) Carol Stephenson

The Book Club

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Tuesday night I spoke to a book club. A friend of a friend invited me. During the course of the evening I learned some of the members have belonged for over 20 years. That's really amazing. The members read a wide range, from poetry to novels to short stories, and then discuss the book during a gathering at one of their homes. I did laugh when I asked one what the name of their group was and she looked blank. They've never given their group a name like so many others do. The ladies simply view themselves as 'The Book Club.'

Our session went on for 2 hours, mainly about my writing process and Romance Writers of America. I'm so used to discussing writing with other writers that it was refreshing change of pace to discuss it with those who have don't have the urge to write themselves; these women simply enjoy the written word.

I had a great time and would do it again.

:) Carol Stephenson

The debris goeth...

Monday, November 14, 2005

Think Sunday mornings are for sleeping in, quiet moments of reflection or family time? Ha! At 8 a.m. came the gentle roar of fork lifts in our neighborhood.

At long last the hurricane debris removal has reached us. The large trucks park somewhere along the block, and then a man operating the forklift putters along the road, picking up the debris. I personally thought the guy sleeping in the back of a pickup truck had the best job--overseeing/coordinating the operation. I do feel bad for my neighbors on the north-south block bordering my property. The crew only managed to collect the debris [including mine] on the road running east-west.

Of course, whatever branches the crew missed on my property, I picked up and added to my neighbors' piles.

:) Carol Stephenson


Saturday, November 12, 2005

I had my critique group today. It's alway creatively energizing to get with the core group, Linda Conrad, Sandy Madden, and Marcia King-Gamble. We have several others, but they can't attend on a regular basis. Sandy, Linda, Marcia and I each bring to the critiquing table a separate strengh so we're a good blend. They're also great for brainstorming new ideas.

We always begin with breakfast and sharing news, personal and publishing. Then it's on to each other's work. We each have an individual style so reading their works in progress is pure reading pleasure. As I drove home today, characters were coming to life in my head on an idea of mine that we had brainstormed.

Tuesday night I'm speaking to a local readers' group so I'm going to have to try to describe the undescribable...the creative process of how I get an idea.

:) Carol Stephenson

Woohoo, a 2 book contract!

Sunday, November 6, 2005

At long last I'm moving past hurricanes. On Friday my agent called to let me know I have my first 2 book contract for Silhouette Bombshell legal thrillers. I'll be continuing the adventures of the female partners of Dent, Rochelle and Stirling criminal law defense firm in West Palm Beach. The working titles are COURTING DISASTER and COURTING DEATH.


:) Carol Stephenson

A Tall, Cold Glass of Milk

Today I went shopping at my local grocery store. Lo and behold, it had dairy products, fresh meats and some produce. Granted, pickings were slim but to be able to buy apples, bananas, lettuce, etc. was heaven. However, the first thing I treated myself when I got home was a tall glass of cold milk. I'd been rationing milk for cereal since the hurricane hit. To simply have milk to drink felt like such a luxury.

Funny how a hurricane and scarcity can change one's ideas of treats.

:) Carol Stephenson

Postscript - The Sweetest Sound...

Thursday, November 3, 2005

is the soft click of power coming on. At 5:45 p.m. tonight after going 10 1/2 days without, my neighborhood got power. No more generators screeching, no more fumbling about in a dark house [although...how on earth did it get so dirty in 10 days time!].

This weekend, sleep. Blessed sleep.

:) Carol Stephenson

The 4-way stop way of life

Nearly 80% of the intersections in Palm Beach County are without functioning traffic lights. That means 4-way stop rule is in effect. Ha!

People's definitions of how a 4-way stop works is totally different than the actual statue. First, you have those drivers who don't obey any type of intersection courtesy at all. By the way traffic accidents have taken a sharp increase since Hurricane Wilma.

Then there's those drivers who believe in the 'pod' system. Okay, the car in front of me has the right of way so I'll just ride on his tail and we'll go through the intersection in a pod of 4-5 cars at a time.

My personal favorite is the 'going my way' driver. If a line of cars from the opposite direction have the current right of way and are driving through the intersection, then that means the other drivers to my immediate right and left can't clear, so I'll just go ahead and scoot across the intersection myself.

Did I mention that traffic accidents are out the roof in my county?

:) Carol Stephenson, 10 1/2 days without power and counting

If it wasn't for my DVD...

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

I'd be officially Baker Acted by now. I have a battery-operated TV but I'm using it only for news. So I'm running a constant stream of DVD's in order to keep my mind off the generators and still no power. I've already had a Harry Potter and Jackie Chan marathon. Right now I'm going through my Anne Hatheway movies [there are times when one simply needs light entertainment!].

Tonight I had to make another gas run and because I was desperately craving french fries, treated my dog and myself to a Wendy's hamburger. Thank goodness another cool wave is approaching so that the humidity will lower again. At this rate, though, I'm going to run out of DVD's and have to resort to my TV DVD collection, such as Avengers, MacGyver or Perry Mason.

:) Carol Stephenson, 9 1/2 days without power and counting

This was one record...

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

I didn't really want to break. With Hurricane Frances last year I went 8 days without power and then an additional 20 hours when Hurricane Jeanne struck.

The constant sounds and smells of generators running can give you a headache no amount of aspirin can relieve. The good thing is that the lines for gas are shorter with less waiting time. I was hoping I wouldn't have to go out again for gas, but it's not to be. Tomorrow night after work I'll have to scavenge for gas. The question then becomes how much to buy...just a few cans in hopes of power that in another day or six cans for another 3 to 4 day stint. Kinda of the glass 1/2 full or empty quandary.

:) Carol Stephenson, 8 1/2 days without power and counting