Ann’s Cottage Blog

Author Ann McAllister Clark - muses about books, authors and St. Augustine, Florida

Hurricane Matthew

Well…now I know what it is like to go through a hurricane. It is an adventure I hope I don’t have to go through again. The rain and wind howled and battered up against the house for almost 24 hours. Our little neighborhood of about 100 houses was told by Emergency Services to ‘hunker’ in place because we are 34 feet above sea level. So we didn’t leave. We were surrounded by other neighborhoods with mandatory evacuation orders.   As of a couple of hours ago we have electric – thank you Texas and all the states that sent their power companies to help out the more than 100,000 without power.
We hear from friends who did evacuate that they had to get all the way up into Georgia before they found one room left.

I know that the downtown district of Old St Augustine had at one time two feet of water in the entire area. The city is hundreds of years old with sewer systems patched and repaired over and over – the systems don’t drain well and the city is only about 5-6 feet above sea level. The water 8-9 foot surge from the ocean and the Intracoastal water way along with high tide caused water to flow all the way into town and out to the US1 highway – covering that important highway. We have five or six bridges in the area that were all closed so those that refused to leave had to stay.

Now, at noon we see that we are ok – nothing broken, a yard filled with debris but nothing we can’t handle. We can’t get into St. Aug because the crews want everyone to stay out of their way!

Thanks to all for your concern.

Writers Wisdom

“Keep away from people who

belittle your ambitions.

Small people always do that,

but the really great make you feel

that you, too, can become great.” – Mark Twain

 

August in the semi-tropics

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photo by Ann M. Clark

http://climatecenter.fsu.edu/topics/thunderstorms

August 2015– a friend in Michigan asked how we cope with the summer heat in St. Augustine. Actually, Georgia and Alabama are usually hotter by a few degrees than Florida.

Florida is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico both of which help to cool the state. But I can’t deny that on that first summer after arriving from Michigan fifteen years ago I really thought there was a chance I might see some spontaneous combustion of little fires on the cement driveway! It was so hot I thought there must be an emergency and when I checked the local weather they just mentioned a hot afternoon. HA!  Didn’t they know the driveways were about to be in flames?

We usually stay inside with the windows and doors shut and the air-conditioning running until the temps go down a bit. WE do that but not everyone does. People play and work outside like anywhere else. They get used to the heat.  When the humidity is high it is harder to cope. 90* to 100* degrees is typical of St. Augustine’s July and August temperatures I think. And after about three years I didn’t look around anymore for little fires on the driveway.

From the White Wicker Desk October, 2014

books
It is October here in St. Augustine. I watch the auto tags on cars and see all the Snow Bunnys arriving in town. Some will stay for the winter while others are stopping for awhile on their journeys. Its still early so yesterday’s visit to the beach was pleasantly uncrowded. The temperature was just right – low 80’s, the waves entertaining and just a light sea breeze.

So far – everybody knock on wood – the South has not had a hurricane to frighten us into scurring up into Atlanta to visit relatives. The relatives are probably giving out audible sighs of relief. 

The thing about a hurricane is the flooding – first from the tides washing in and then from the constant rain. Then the wind is terrifying. It comes in waves like being flung in from the sea. It batters up against the house walls and is very scary. We only had 50 mph or so a few years ago when we came close to a hurricane and that was fearsome.

Where Do Writers Get Their Ideas?

October 2015 clip-art-books-with-lamp6

Where Writers Get Their Ideas?

It’s magical really. Well, at first it may seem that way. Creative thoughts, words and phrases running through a writer’s mind as she is writing. Sometimes it feels the words are like ribbons spilling out of our fingers, pens, pencils or keypads as if someone or something else is actually gathering them up and pushing them out on the page. When that happens I always send up a sincere ‘Thank You’ to the goddess of verbiage and thoughts. Yes, it is magic and when it happens I take a big breath and stay with it as long as I can.

And then I remember all the studying I have done – many college classes and dozens of writing books over the years. I read classics – Russian, English, and mostly American.

Writers get this question all the time – “Where do your ideas come from?” Ideas come right from a compilation of life and the writer’s experiences – encounters and events or things she has witnessed or researched. Writers have a way of filling up their internal and invisible sponge with all that moves before their eyes and ears and all the minutia of life. A writer is voraciously curious and thirsty for interest. A bit of this person, a little of that person, saved notes of conversation and pieces of experience all go into the vault of ideas. So ideas come from just about anywhere and go into the big soup pot of a rich mix. And then at the end of this wash of creativity comes the real work. Revision, revision and then more revision. The work never seems completely right and some writers may revise a dozen times or more.

I watched much of the George Zimmerman trial in Sanford, Florida. I suspect many writers watch court cases on TV or better yet in their own county courtrooms with thoughts of incorporating what they see into their stories. We have files of interesting newspaper clips and magazine articles to be used at a later date for inspiration or research. I took notes on the attributes of the detectives, lawyers and court proceedings during the trial in Sanford. I used those notes to describe the detectives in A Bone In Her Teeth: A St. Augustine Mystery.

Traveling through the streets of Gettysburg, Washington, DC, and Antitam and walking many battlefields helped me immensly with description in my historical novel, The Chrysalis: An American Family Endures The Civil War.

I just finished reading Justice Sonia Sotomayr’s memoir, My Beloved World. When she was a young girl of about eight years old, she faithfully watched the weekly television program, Perry Mason and decided she wanted to be a lawyer! And then she diligently pursued that direction in every single aspect of her educational life all the way to her seat on the United States Supreme Court. I used her early years for inspiration in Morgan’s Redemption

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonia_Sotomayor

Where do we get our ideas for writing? Everywhere and anywhere.

Streets of St. Augustine

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Come To St. Augustine!

Patchworks – musings of life’s many paths

 

Life sometimes has a way of temporarily slowing us down. Its how we get up that counts:)pinkribbon