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Sep 12 2017

So, uhm, yeah…Harvey

Important discovery…hurricanes and book launches do not mix well.


Some of you might have noticed that the blog has been a little on the quiet side since just before A Less Agreeable Man released. That was not exactly the plan to be honest. A book launch is supposed to be fun and busy, right?

What’s more, since January, I’ve been posting on Random Bits of Fascination three times a week, every week, and honestly, I’ve been loving it. I admit it, I’ve been pretty proud of maintaining that schedule and hopefully providing you guys some fascinating bits of reading to brighten your week. But even more than that, I really enjoy blogging and hanging out here with you guys.

I hate breaking my schedule and my routine, but I suppose I should have some satisfaction that it took a record breaking hurricane to make that happen. 

Yep. that’s right. I’m blaming Harvey for all this.

Rising Waters, part 1

I’ve been told that (at least parts of) this adventure would make for interesting reading—rather like Sharknado, I think, in the vein of disaster-comedies. I’ve been trying for two weeks now to settle down and actually write it up. But between recovery efforts, trying to get the boys off to start their university schedules, managing the rest of the book launch, and just coping with the stress left over from the storm, putting letters together, much less actual words just wasn’t happening. I mean seriously, I could have put my dragon-cat, Minion, (the one with thumbs) on the keyboard and come out with something far more comprehensible that I would have written. 

But things are better now (ie: I’ve had sufficient quantities of chocolate to subdue a major dragon) and as close to normal as they are going to get in my community for quite some time. So now it’s time to write again. I think it will take several posts to tell the whole story. So let me take you back a few weeks in time and start at the very beginning.

Lesson one: No matter what you do, ALWAYS check the weather

I’m generally a very organized and prepared person, to the point that my kids tease me mercilessly over the little things I do to make my life easier, like the way I unload the groceries onto the conveyor at the store. I put them on a specific way so they can get bagged with like things together and they are easier to put away when I get home. Makes sense right? Even the boys know this because they tease me, BUT they appreciate it when it comes time to store all the groceries.

That being said, I have a particular workflow that I lean on when I write. I get the final draft done, contact bloggers to set up a book tour, while that is in the works, do the final edits and send off the proofs to my diligent and ever patient proofreaders. (They really are saints…) While waiting on the proofs, I finish setting up the tour, plan the posts I need to write and gather the research and notes for all of the articles and make my tour spreadsheet. Yes, I said that, a spreadsheet.

Then it’s back to compiling the proofs and creating the final draft of the book. At that point, I create an electronic Advanced Reader edition for bloggers and reviewers to have a looky-see at the book before the tour. From that file, I setup the pre-order for the book in advance of the tour. (Yes, I’m sure you’ve been dying to know about the exciting secret life of indie writers. I promise it gets more interesting…)

It’s at this point that everything went utterly sideways. Totally and completely upside down and sideways.

Late on August 23, I set up the pre-order which then locked me into a timetable determined by Amazon, one that I could not break out of without serious consequences. Lucky me. Never once did I think, “Gee, this would be a good time to turn on the news and check the weather forecast.” I should have.

The next morning I woke up to news that Tropical Storm Harvey was now Hurricane Harvey and would hit somewhere between Corpus Christi and Galveston on the 25th, probably as a category 1 storm, possibly a 2.

Back in 2008, Hurricane Ike’s eye wall passed directly over our home. It was ‘just’ a category 2 storm. We were left without power for nearly two weeks after that. Two weeks. And I had a book launch setup for 7 days hence.

Perfect, just perfect.

So, going off past experience, I figured we’d get out power knocked out as soon as it made landfall on Friday morning, just like happened with Ike. I needed to get our final hurricane preparations in place AND accomplish at least two weeks of book launch work in 48 hours. 

So what needed to be done? Well, on the hurricane front, we were fairly well prepared. Our area never flooded in the past (yeah, that’s another post…) so the official word was to shelter in place. Done that before, we know how to do that. Got an autopilot setting for it, we’re good.

Early preps had been done when the season started. Generator had been checked out; had extra propane for the grill; batteries were in good supply as were candles and lamp oil. So all I really needed were basic groceries, to get laundry done and vacuum the house. (When you don’t have power for two weeks, you want to start out with all the underwear and socks in the house CLEAN! Ok, I concede, vacuuming though was not a necessity, just a comfort thing for me)

In the back of my mind, I figured we’d end up having at least part of my family–my rather carnivorous family–staying with us at some point because of the generator and the fact we don’t flood. (The irony will become clear in the next couple posts… 🙁 ) So when I went shopping I got about a week’s worth of meat, cooked it all and tucked it into the fridge. It sounds a little odd, but since I could be reasonably sure we could keep the fridge on the generator, I’ve found that having cooked meals that we only need to heat up is a lot easier on all of us during the stress a hurricane brings.

So, with the kitchen full of various things cooking, middle son–the one who had been at my elbow telling me I was overreacting to the storm news–had job interviews scheduled for Friday and Saturday the downtown canceled for the storm. In light of that, we decided he’d go back to law school the next morning, before the storm was scheduled to hit, so he could drive in on dry roads. I hated sending him away when I wanted all my chicks under my wings, but it was the right thing.

Lesson Two: There’s nothing like a good list  

With all of this swirling in my scattered brain, I sat down to format final book. Exactly the sort of detailed fiddly thing I love to do when I don’t have two brain cells to rub together. With the help of one of my old check lists, I was able to get through formatting and upload all the formats by midnight. (Note to self, I’m not just a packrat–there’s a good reason for keeping old lists after all!)

Thing one done.

Got up early the next morning to start getting book tour stuff ready. So thankful I didn’t have to figure out what I was supposed to do. Just jumped on the first line of the spread sheet and cranked through. Granted, I may not have been at my usual peak of warm wittiness (I can hear you snickering, don’t think I can’t…) but lots of posts were being written as I watched the news of the storm hitting Rockport–leveling Rockport to be more accurate–as it came ashore at a Cat 4, not a Cat 1 storm. All our coastal cities know there’s a risk of hurricane damage, but storms just don’t spin up from a Cat 1 to a Cat 4 overnight. They just don’t. Except when they do.

Already the storm was doing totally unprecedented things.

Then the rains moved up the coast and started pounding us.

16 comments

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  1. Deborah

    I do remember how you were those 2 days. I too have an order that I put my groceries on the conveyer and also prefer to pack my own bags for the very same reason. I agree that lists are Very good things to have. Looking forward to the next entry.

    1. Maria Grace

      Some days I’m tempted to make lists of my lists… I’m a sad puppy some times…

  2. Catherine

    Well you have obviously come through relatively intact and sane, so we know there’s an HEA ahead. Phew! It will be very interesting to see the saga unfold!

    1. Maria Grace

      Thanks Catherine. It is a saga indeed.

  3. Susanne Barrett

    Yikes!!! Wow, at least you are a prepared and organized person. Imagine how someone would cope who didn’t have your old lists and your preparedness down to a science!!

    I can’t wait to hear more. We deal with earthquakes and fires here in San Diego (we’ve been evacuated three times for fires in our 16 years in the mountains east of the city), but the fire has always skirted us. My sister, however, is smack in the middle of the Montana wildfires which have been burning for nearly two months now.

    It seems that there are disasters everywhere we look….

    Glad you’re safe and sound and able to blog about your experiences now!

    Warmly,
    Susanne 🙂

    1. Maria Grace

      Thanks, Susanne. Definitely praying for those in the path of the fires. We have family in San Diego. This has been a tough year for natural disasters.

  4. J. W. Garrett

    We were thinking about our Texas authors and were praying for you. Anyway we could donate to the cause… we did. Thank goodness you have survived.

    1. Maria Grace

      Thank you so much!

  5. Jerry Sinclair

    Grace,

    Glad you and Scott made it through. We had our share of wind and rain with IRMA, but no damage and we have electricity.

    …And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. Mark 4:39

    God bless,
    Jerry Sinclair in Jacksonville, FL

    1. Maria Grace

      Thanks, Jerry, it is good to know you guys have made it through all right!

  6. Glynis

    Phew! I would have stood no chance! My philosophy tends to be ‘never do today what you can put off til tomorrow’
    I must admit I do love to write lists but remembering where they are or to take them with me is another matter entirely.
    So I am completely in awe of your success in coping with publishing your book AND coping with Harvey.
    I look forward to further posts to check that you are hopefully back to normal. Good luck.

    1. Maria Grace

      Thanks, Glynis. I confess, I am often jealous of those who are more flexible and less rigid about things than I am. Every now and again though, it ends up working for me.

  7. Maria

    Glad all is well with you and your family. My son lives in Houston and I was on edge the whole time praying for all to be well. God Bless and can’t wait to read more of your post.

    1. Maria Grace

      Thank you so much, Maria. We appreciate all the prayers on our behalf during the storm and since. It has been unlike any other storm we’ve had.

  8. Jennifer Redlarczyk

    Glad you are alright and getting back on track. Best Wishes with your new book. Jen Red

    1. Maria Grace

      Thanks so much, Jen!

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