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Not Your Usual Writing Advice




“Be prepared.”

— Motto of the Boy Scouts of America


When writing a book, it’s always a challenge to make it from beginning to end and meet the deadline. Sometimes Mother Nature adds to that challenge. As I watched and read about severe weather happening all across the world, I wanted to know how NINC members handled the effects weather and other natural events had on their writing.

NINC member Wayne Jordan has had some challenging experiences with Mother Nature—when I asked about them, he responded that Hurricane Ernesto had been threatening over the weekend and he was four days away from a book deadline. “It’s common in the Caribbean—I live in Barbados—to deal with situations like this. Our hurricane season starts in July and ends in October. The most I remember being without electricity is three or four days. A hurricane had passed north of the island, and the island experienced strong winds and some rain. Not having the Internet, which I use to keep in touch with the publishing world daily, did have a serious impact on me. I am also a freelance host on the Harlequin Community boards so one of the other hosts had to keep an eye on my boards.

“I was able to do a bit of writing on my laptop, which I usually keep fully charged. After the power went, I resorted to writing on paper and mainly during the day. I did need to double my output when the electricity returned since I was on deadline. I’m a teacher, so something to write with and on is always available. In Barbados, schools are used as the main hurricane shelters and as a public servant (I work for the government) and senior member of the staff, I am assigned to work at my school during emergencies. While the need of individuals using the shelter can be at times demanding, I still had time to write.”

NINC member Sue-Ellen Welfonder lives on a barrier island off Sarasota, along the southwest coast of Florida. “I’ve only had to evacuate once, when a Cat 4 hurricane was forecast to strike. Mandatory evacuation orders were issued. We secured our home and, with our little dog, joined the heavy Interstate traffic and drove inland to Orlando. The police raised the drawbridges, which made it impossible to leave or return until deemed safe to do so. The hurricane veered south at the last minute, sparing our island.

“I was in a comfortable place in my work schedule, so the disruption didn’t cause me to miss my due date. I did have a back-up for my manuscript and took it along. I informed my agent by telephone that we were evacuating and she let my editor know. I didn’t have a laptop, so used a notepad and pen, writing by hand, to work on my manuscript. As we stayed in a hotel, I didn’t need to use a candle. But there have been other times I’ve written by candles and flashlight.

“This area is known for electrical storms and receives the most lightning strikes in the country. The worst power outage I’ve experienced was a three-day outage caused by a lightning strike during a typical Florida thunderstorm and not a hurricane. Despite having ‘power surge’ protection, the strike fried my hard drive. I lost at least half of my deadline WIP.”

NINC member Pamela Callow lives in Nova Scotia, an area some might relate to winter weather, but, “in 2003 the paper ran an article about a hurricane headed our way. No one was overly concerned as it was expected to weaken offshore. We live by the Atlantic Ocean and have seen many bad storms. But the news reports ramped up the warnings, and by supper time, it became clear Halifax was tracking in the eye of Hurricane Juan. The hurricane hit as a Category 2 at midnight. We brought our two young girls into bed with us,    

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