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Notes from the Tornado Zone

Tornado Damage Stadley Rough Road

The roads in my neighborhood were a dangerous maze of downed wires — my landline still hasn’t been fixed because they can’t even find some chunk of cable that disappeared. Here, at the corner of Stadley Rough Road and Great Plain, someone had tacked up wires so cars could “pass through.” It wasn’t as easy as it looked.

If you know me personally, then you probably know that a rash of freak storms tore through western Connecticut on May 15, spawning tornados and microbursts. My house got hit. We are not as bad off as some in our communities, but we sustained heavy damage—my bedroom’s not safe so we’re sleeping in the living room, our back porch was destroyed and what’s left of it is unstable, my husband’s car was flattened by falling trees, and all of our bird feeders and porch furniture were hurled everywhere like so many pick-up sticks. All of this, coupled with the estimated 30 trees on our property that are either downed or contorted in dangerous positions that may not last long, has made my life utter chaos.

Tornado damage back porch

Damage to the back porch. In case you’re wondering, those chairs weigh a LOT.

Everyone I love is safe, and everything that got broken is all just stuff. And, as more and more people chimed in on Facebook and reminded me that this was a good thing—“it’s just stuff, no one died”—yes, that’s true, but there was something about it that was bothering me. It made me realize that people who lose everything in devastating events like the Kilauea eruption and Hurricane Harvey aren’t just losing stuff. They are losing memories, stability, and their concept of home and what it means, even if only temporarily. It is also struggling to accept a state of chaos that may last for a long time—others not affected move on, while those that were will still be dealing with upheaval and a lack of normalcy months, if not years, afterward. It’s incredibly isolating.

If there is one thing I’m going to walk away from this with, it’s a new compassion for people who are left with nothing but wreckage. I understand the deep emotional impact now in a way I didn’t before. It’s probably going to change my life in many ways in terms of how I respond to natural disasters and how I can physically help. The first thing I wanted to do was go volunteer at the shelter that was set up here in Brookfield (there were people who suffered total, I mean total losses and we weren’t one of them, by far)—but once I got home, the roads were blocked, so I couldn’t leave.

Sadly, there will be a next time, and I will make sure I get there.

Below, the most important things rescued from my bedroom—I only needed to save them because of what they meant, not because of the items themselves.

 

Mumble, Dremlite, Pua

Build-A-Bear Mumble, Pua the Pig, and the Penguin Dreamlite—These were all stuffed animals my husband Nathan bought me. Mumble, who is the featured character in the 2006 movie Happy Feet, was the hottest item that Christmas. My husband busted his ass to get that thing for me…I heard the horror story on Christmas Eve of how he conned the lady at the counter to call him the second the shipment arrived. He got me the Penguin Dreamlite when he started working at the movie theatre in 2012—he would often work overnight and he got that to keep me company (I am afraid of the dark sometimes). Pua the Pig was my favorite character in Moana, so he got it for me for my birthday a couple of years ago. I like to cuddle with it…I may be 47, but I’m very in touch with my inner child.

For Kaye who sees everything

For Kaye Who Sees Everything—this painting was a Christmas gift to me from my friend Judith Nagib, who was in the Pencils! Writing Workshop I ran down in Norwalk from 2003-2009.

Uranus by Do'An

Uranus, by dear friend and mentor Do’An. It was the first piece of “real” art I ever owned, and when I look at it, I think of our great times together at Burlington College and how much he taught me about writing—and life.

Untitled by Heather Gleason -- This Poisoned Ground

This painting, by artist Heather Gleason, is untitled, but has an uncanny story. She was painting it at around the same time I was writing my novelette This Poisoned Ground, and it’s incredible how the painting describes what’s happening in the story. Talk about a fine example of the collective unconscious at work (no, we didn’t know each other at the time). You can check out Heather Gleason’s artwork here: http://myeclecticmind.com/

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UP ALL NIGHT gives THIS POISONED GROUND a rave!

Banner for Word Document (2)

It’s always nice to get surprised. Up All Night Horror Fiction Review gave “This Poisoned Ground” a great review. You can read it here: http://www.upallnighthorrorfictionreview.com/up-all-night-horror-fiction-review/this-poisoned-ground-by-kristi-petersen-schoonover

Still haven’t picked up your copy? It’s available from Dark Alley Press at the following links:

All E-formats, direct from publisher

Kindle

THIS POISONED GROUND: Watch Trailer, See Cover, Note Release Date!

They say you hurt the ones you love most.

No one ever talks about when they hurt you back. 

poisongroundPrintComing January 28, 2014

Watch the Trailer

As though Thanksgiving and NaNo weren’t enough excitement in one week…Dark Alley Press slated “This Poisoned Ground”’s release date (one week before my birthday!) and finalized its cover. Want to keep on top of TPG-related updates? Visit http://bit.ly/TPGInfo — you can also read a sneak peek over there, but if you want something you can print and take with you, you can download a brief PDF here: This Poisoned Ground Sneak Peek PDF

Many have asked if I’m going to do a release party for this…well, it’s January and I can’t count on the weather, so no, not a big hoo-ha this time. Instead, maybe a few of us brave souls will gather together for champagne? Just say the word…

Dark Alley Press accepts “This Poisoned Ground”

Dying Roses

I’m thrilled to announce that Dark Alley Press has accepted my piece “This Poisoned Ground” for publication in January. This dark tale of love, lust and regret in the tradition of “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “Ligeia,” and Aura will make for perfect reading on those cold, gray winter days (especially on in particular – Poe’s birthday!)

The trailer’s coming soon; I’ll keep you posted.

What you missed on NaNoWriMo 2013: The Series this week!

I Suck

…I stop working on the project, try to restart, fail at finishing just about everything including watching the movie Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, make a book trailer, visit the frustrating Shop Rite Bottle Return, have a drunken meeting with my editor, get a preview of the cover of my upcoming novella, remember I’ve forgotten a friend’s birthday and more!

Day 15 – Stuck at Halftime: 11/16/2013

Day 16: Everything but Writing 11/17/2013

Day 17: Shout Outs at the Bottle Return 11/18/2013

Day 18: Maybe a Re-Read? 11/20/2013

Days 19 & 20: Back in the Saddle 11/21/2013

Day 21: This Poisoned Ground 11/21/2013

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