Of Book Releases and Tornadoes
When I wrote Traces, I thought I understood the power of words. But I was wrong.
My main character, Meredith, is afraid of severe thunderstorms, and even more so of tornadoes. When she inherits the Twin Oaks plantation (a fictional historic site outside the fictional town of Roseville, Tennessee) she explores the newly constructed storm shelter:
The sound definitely came from behind the door. Meredith opened the door without giving herself time to reconsider her actions. The hammering continued for a few more blows, followed by silence. Griz trotted down the new wood steps, the scent of pine still lingering. Meredith followed cautiously down the solid treads. Racks of bottled wine lined the far wall. Shelves above low benches on the other walls she could see from where she stood held the necessary emergency supplies: jugs of water, canned goods, candles and matches, flashlights and batteries, and a manual can opener. Even a percolator and can of ground coffee stood at the ready. Meredith noticed the charcoal grill with a small bag of charcoal and lighter fluid tucked into one corner, a necessity for cooking outside should the power go out.
Several pillar candles huddled beside a large box of stick matches and a weather radio. A camping lantern and bottle of oil sat beside the candles. A pile of what looked like tool hangers lay in the center of the horizontal surface. Above the table a two-foot-square piece of Peg-Board waited for Sean to finish hammering in its supporting nails.
“You’ve made a huge difference from what I remember as a child, when Grandma forbade Paulette and me from stepping foot down here. But I’ve interrupted you.” Meredith moved back, preparing to leave the close confines. Even though the room had been transformed from a damp, dark space into a welcoming shelter, the walls weren’t far enough apart for her comfort. She took a deep breath and pushed it out. “I’ll leave you to it, then.”
“No need to hurry away on my account.” Sean hefted the hammer, tapping it against one palm. “Take a look around. You might oughta make sure you know where things are, just in case.”
Dread flowed down her spine at the idea of spending any length of time in the basement. The distant crack of thunder reminded her of why she’d be down here, and the dread deepened into a near panic. Darting a glance about the room in pseudo compliance with his suggestion, Meredith strode to the foot of the steps. “Come on, Griz. Let’s leave Sean to finish.”
Grizabella mewed as she joined Meredith, rubbing against her leg before trotting up the steps.
“You sure ’nuff have that cat trained.” Sean used the claw hammer to scratch an itch on his thigh.
“More likely vice versa.” Meredith started up the steps, amazed to be relieved to venture up and into the house despite the booming thunder and flashing lightning outside. She paused and looked back to where Sean’s shadow lay across the floor. Such a small area to have seating for eight. She shuddered and then called back to the handyman. “Thanks, Sean, for all your hard work, but I truly hope we never need to use it.”
Later, a “mild” tornado strikes the plantation and they do indeed seek shelter in the basement.
I wrote Traces in 2013; sold it in February 2014. I had no say in the release date, but low and behold it fell the day after the third anniversary of the deadly swarm of tornadoes that swept across southern Tennessee and north Alabama on April 27, 2011, one of which spun up near our farm in southern Tennessee. That coincidence was a bit curious, but it gets better. Or worse, depending…
During my Facebook book launch party the afternoon of my release on April 28, severe weather swept across my area in southern Tennessee. Two tornadoes spun up near my house, though thankfully not causing any damage. But we did lose power for several hours as the lines fell during the storm. Of course that also meant my guest authors during the party had to cover for me since I also had no Internet access!
See, now that four-way coincidence proved unnerving for me. Watching lightning flash and hearing thunder rumble while it’s dark and the power is off, is worrisome to say the least. Given that we don’t have a basement or storm shelter, I was on edge all night.
But needless to say, the book launch of my debut, Traces (Ghosts of Roseville Book 1) will always be remembered! Have you had a memorable special event you’d like to share?
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<a href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/102266444041474165049?rel=author”>Betty Bolté</a>