Hurricane Irma: Florida writers write out the storm

161by Tina Murray

Sept. 12, 2017

Creative expression cannot be squelched, even by a Category 4 hurricane. If anything, it was intensified this week, as 130 mph winds, blasted the Florida Keys and devastated the Sunshine State’s southwestern coast. All the while, the metaphorical keys of electronic devices clicked in wild abandon

A few weeks earlier, I had been reading the cheery posts of authors such as Beth Ciotta, author of “The Weekend Wife,” presented by James Patterson. Then, Loretta Wheeler, author of “The Verandah,” and other Texas-based authors began posting their harrowing experiences while riding out humongous Hurricane Harvey. Stunning in its ferocity, Harvey overwhelmed the city of Houston.

Only days later, I found myself inundated by posts about a huge new storm, Hurricane Irma, as it tracked its way towards the Florida peninsula, eventually unleashing its torrential wrath on a new set of authors, my Florida writer-friends on Facebook.

As an author of Florida fiction myself (amazon.com/author/tinamurray), I had a poodle in this fight. My novels, “A Chance to Say Yes” and “A Wild Dream of Love” and the yet unreleased “A Big Fan of Yours,” are set in Naples and the Caribbean isles. However, I was not in Florida at the time Irma struck. I had to rely on the observations of others.

If you want vivid, first-hand accounts of natural phenomena, who better than bestselling authors to deliver the literary goods–with photos!

Some of the writers, such thriller-author Susan C. Klaus, sheltered in place as the storm advanced. So did mystery writers Jean Harrington, author of “Murder on Pea Pike” and Nancy J. Cohen, whose latest  bad-hair-day tome is “Hair Brained.”  Nancy shared advice about weathering hurricanes and posted a photo of herself, cute and comfy, inside her safety closet.

Other writers, such as sci-fi author Linnea Sinclair, headed out of harm’s way. Bestselling women’s fiction author Heather Burch, whose new release is “Something Like Family,” chose to seek higher ground. While there, Heather updated readers on the status of her sons, who evacuated safely. Fantasy authors Sandy Lender, “Choices Meant for Gods,” and M. B. Weston, who penned the Elysian Chronicles, evacuated, also. When Sandy flew the coop, she took all her pets birds with her!

Numerous other local authors, including Lynnette Austin and J. W. Thompson, posted their experiences. Each author made a unique contribution to what became the gripping, ongoing saga of a state under siege.

On the east coast, writer Dave Barry turned anxiety into laughter in his humorous piece on Hurricane Irma preparations, which appeared in the Miami Herald. Technically speaking, Dave and I are not Facebook friends. I have never even met him. However, he is a Florida writer, and his humor did help break the online tension. Other writer-related reports brightened my outlook, as well.

In battered Key West, Hemingway’s cats were pronounced safe. No doubt Mr. H. would have documented the whole event on social media had it existed in his day. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? What would Ernest Hemingway have posted on Facebook? Who knows? He might have created a page devoted to cats.

Speaking of Hemingway, you might want to check out the latest book by may Hawaiian writer-friend, James Charles, “My War with Hemingway.” I hope to blog more about it in the future, but not now. This post is about Irma!

Regardless, I am grateful that Hurricane Irma petered out as it moved north, sparing my friends, family and the mausoleum building housing the grave of my parents. As millions of people return home, survey the damage, mourn the lost, and await the coming of gasoline supplies and electrical power, they can be proud of their state’s organized response to impending catastrophe.

Life in Florida, as you see, can bring more than lazy daze on a sunny beach. It can bring intense drama and tragedy, with a smattering of comic relief.

What better place for writers?

Seriously, my heart goes out to all those affected by Hurricane Irma. I wish you blessings and a speedy recovery. Thanks to all the emergency responders who sacrificed to help the victims of the storm. Thanks to the writers who shared their stories. Thanks to my non-writer friends, such as Krista Denizeri and Sonja Miller, who also kept me informed. Thanks to everyone whose posts I shared on my Facebook page (Facebook.com/tmurrayauthor).

Speaking of writers, I am sending a good word here to bestselling author Dakota Cassidy, a social-media friend of mine who is recovering from heart surgery. My prayers for you, Dakota. I look forward to receiving your charming posts once again, and a return to cheerier times.

Stay safe, Florida.

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