The only natural disasters I experienced first hand happened when I was too little to know what was going on, and both of those have already been written about. So, I’m going to write about one of my obsessions. I’m not going to go into how plates shift and which types of earthquakes tend to be the strongest, and I’m not going to talk about my belief in the ‘earthquake storm theory’. Instead, I’m going to give you some facts that you may not know, ones that may or may not surprise you.

First let me remind you that earthquakes are a little different than most natural disasters. Avalanches and volcanoes can give off warning signs. With weather phenomenon such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and blizzards we typically have some form of advance notice. With hurricanes and blizzards it can be days. And I can tell you from experience tornado warning times have increased over the years. When I was a kid, sometimes warnings weren’t issued until a funnel cloud reached the ground. Now days, weather-casters try to give some sort of an advance warning. With the Alabama tornadoes Jennifer talked about the other day, meteorologists predicted that horrible event days in advance. They just didn’t know exact locations. Radar technology is so far advanced these days that most of the time warnings are given anywhere from 15-30 minutes. Of course, there is always that one tornado like the one that hit Joplin a few years back that comes completely unexpected.

Earthquakes don’t really come with warnings. Scientists are trying, but it’s hard to predict where and when and how big and without those predictions people can’t take shelter or evacuate like they can with weather related natural disasters.

Did you know that at the time of writing this there were over 37 earthquakes in the previous 24 hours over 2.5 on the Richter Scale? I’m sure many of remember the devastation of the earthquake that rocked Indonesia on December 26, 2004. It was 9.1-9.3 on the Richter Scale. Over 230,000 people perished that day, and yet it’s only  #5 on the deadliest earthquake list. The 2010 Haiti earthquake ranks #7. That death toll is somewhere between 110,000-300,000. The deadliest quake occurred in 1556 in China. 820,000 people died, which I find jaw-dropping given the year.

The strongest earthquake ever recorded happened May 22, 1960 in Chile. The shaker measured 9.5. A tsunami, another natural disaster caused by an earthquake, hit parts of Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Japan and cause major destruction in Hilo, Hawaii. Tsunami waves hitting the coast of Chile were reported as high as 82 feet! The waves from the December 26, 2004 tsunami were over 100 feet. The death toll during this particular Chile earthquake is uncertain but some estimate it to be around 6,000.

You remember when we were kids and everyone just knew that one day California was going to fall into the ocean? Well, in 2010, Chile was rocked with an 8.8 earthquake. It moved the city of Concepcion 10 miles to the west. Man, was that powerful or what? According to NASA, this earthquake may have caused earth’s axis to shift. And everyone seems to think our crazy weather has something to do with Global Warming, or Climate Change. Some say the Japan earthquake in 2011 shifted earth’s axis too. And if I remember correctly from my Geology course, earth’s axis has shifted many times over its existence, but that is another topic for another day.

Now let me tell you about a little known fault line right here in America. Of course, if you grew up in the area you’ve heard about it. And, I guess if you didn’t grow up in the area, like me, you might’ve heard about it. You might’ve heard some tall tales like, ‘Kansas used to be flat until that there earthquake shook the United States.’

I’m talking about New Madrid. In 1811 and 1812 a series of earthquakes occurred along the Mississippi River. They were so strong church bells rang in Boston, Massachusetts and in what is now known as Toronto. These particular earthquakes, although not the strongest recorded, were felt over 1 million sq miles.

Large chunks of the Mississippi River banks disappeared. One of the earthquakes caused the Mississippi to run backwards for a few hours. Travelers on the river were in for a shock when they found themselves moving the wrong way at a high rate of speed only to be swept back down the river and over falls that weren’t there previously.

These earthquakes were believed to range from 7.0 to 7.7. Due to the fact that the area was barely settled, loss of life was minimal and most deaths occurred from those on the river. Imagine if an earthquake of that magnitude were to happen today. To put it a little more in perspective check out the picture on this page .

Just look at all the major cities. Now you may be thinking that hey, the damage pattern doesn’t look that bad, but let me tell you something; one of the New Madrid earthquakes cracked sidewalks in Washington DC.

Here is a video that talks about some of the effects of the New Madrid.

Some say New Madrid isn’t active, but I can’t help wonder if it’s only a matter of time before it reminds people that it is active. And if it does, I can’t help but wonder at the tremendous natural disaster we as Americans will be facing.

You can find more information about New Madrid at the following links.


Sharon Srock

SharonSrock2014Today we welcome Sharon Srock, author of Christian fiction, to 3 Questions Wednesday.

(1) What is your favorite book? [excluding the Bible]

Sharon: Favorite book…you have to understand that I’ve been a reader my whole life. Trying to pin down one book out of thousands is an impossible task.

Top three, just off the cuff: To Kill a Mockingbird, A Time to Kill, and The four book Merlin and Arthur series by Mary Stewart.

(2) If you could walk into any book, what literary character would you want to be?

Sharon: Merlin, from the set mentioned above.

(3) If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Sharon: Australia

Thanks, Sharon, for joining us on 3 Questions Wednesday! Leave a comment for a chance to win…

Sharon Srock went from science fiction to Christian fiction at slightly less than warp speed. Twenty-five years ago, she cut her writer’s teeth on Star Trek fiction. Today, she writes inspirational stories that focus on ordinary women using their faith to accomplish extraordinary things. A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, Sharon serves her local chapter in the role of treasurer. She lives in the middle of nowhere, Oklahoma with her husband and three very large dogs. Her books include: The Women of Valley View: Callie and The Women of Valley View: Terri, both of which are currenlty available. The Women of Valley View: Pam will release in early 2014.

The Women of Valley View: Pam


Pam’s divorce broke her heart. The cruelty of her ex-husband broke her spirit. A bottle of sleeping pills almost took her life. Four years later the scars of Alan Archer’s emotional abuse are beginning to fade under the love of her new husband. When Alan returns to Garfield, Pam must learn that buried secrets and carefully cultivated indifferences do not equal forgiveness.

Alan Archer has returned to Garfield with a new wife and a terminal heart condition. His mission? To leave a Christian legacy for his children and to gain Pam’s forgiveness for the sins of his past.

Two hearts hang in the balance waiting for the delicate touch of God’s healing hands.


Sharon is offering a free download: Meet the Women of Valley View.

Links for Sharon:!/SharonSrock!/SharonSrock

Natural Disasters – Hurricane Ike – In an Unlikely Place

img_9412 copyHere in the Louisville, Kentucky area, we see a lot of weather-related natural disasters. We are smack in the middle of the Eastern United States, 660+ miles from the Atlantic, 610+ miles from the Gulf. The mighty Ohio River is our northern boundary. Kentucky’s western boundary is the Mississippi River. We’re in the area of the New Madrid fault where 200 years ago, a powerful earthquake left a lasting imprint.

Most of our weather related disasters involve tornadoes and floods. This year, we note the passage of forty years since the outbreak of a “super storm” when a huge number of tornadoes swept across the nation’s midsection and decimated some of our city’s most beautiful homes.


Hurricane Ike

The Ohio is prone to flooding, especially after a winter of heavy snow, such as the one we’ve had this year. And then there’s the other extreme–droughts that a few years back killed off the famous Bluegrass so many of us used for our lawns. But the event I remember most as I write this, was Hurricane Ike. We don’t often have a hurricane this far inland. But Ike was determined and full of pep.

I was sitting in church on a Sunday morning when Ike blew through, hard and fast with sustained winds of seventy-five miles per hour. Not just a quick pass-through you might expect with straight-winds, but high winds for an extended time. I watched out the window of our sanctuary as the shingles on the building next door flapped like flags in the wind.

By the time the service ended, the damage was done. Trees blocked our progress on the way home and the power was off. Other than roof damage, our home was safe. Over 300,000 in Louisville were without power. Over 600,000 statewide. Utility workers traveled to Kentucky from as far away as Mississippi to help us get the power back on. We were among the more fortunate. We were only without power for three days.

We were in a state of emergency. The Louisville International Airport closed, as well as Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport. I remember how quiet it was as we lived through those days with our house opened up. No refrigerator humming. No washer or dryer or dishwasher drumming. You could hear the neighbors as they talked and laughed. We visited with one another over the fence or on our porches. There was no television, no music blaring. Just people interacting, kind of like they used to, before we became so dependent on the media.

Some residents were without power for nearly a month. For the next few months, the area was filled with the sounds of the hammer as many of us received new shingles on our homes. We lost many of our beautiful trees, suffered flood and wind damage. In the aftermath, insurance rates sky-rocketed. But we had lived through something a little bit amazing. If you live near the coast, you expect storms off the sea. You have a warning and usually have time to prepare for them. In Kentucky, we often get the remnants of a big storm as it begins to break up. But this time, we got a full-on frontal attack and it was not expected.

So, think about it:

  • What natural disasters occur where you live?
  • What type of natural disaster would be most unusual in your area of the country?

Life-changing events in the form of natural disasters make good fodder for writing. You can use personal experience for your writing, or research a more exotic disaster. There is plenty of information out there. Just be sure you stay true to your setting and choose an event that would actually occur in that region. But don’t overlook the occasional hurricane in Kentucky.


Tornado Outbreak/April 27th, 2011 in Lawrence County, Alabama

tornado 2011April 27th, 2011 is a day that will never be forgotten among Alabamians. Violent tornadoes rated EF-4 or higher (including four EF-5s) struck the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia. Alabama was the hardest hit, with nine violent tornadoes touching down, and eleven total crossing within its boundaries. Over half the state had no electricity for at least five days.


Lawrence County was cut in half by an EF-5 tornado that passed within two miles of my daughter’s house and eight miles of my own. An EF-0 touched down briefly within a mile of our home in the other direction as we sat in our storm room, searching the internet for news of family and loved ones in different cities. Phone service was minimal at best.


Nothing says it quite like a video and the one below shows much of the damage. Some of the early pictures in this video show a cedar house and a gym demolished. My friend’s trailer sat next to them and was totally destroyed, killing her husband and injuring her.


I’ll never forget the moment my daughter pulled up the picture of the gym on her phone. I cringed knowing how close my friend’s trailer was to it. When I’d talked to her only an hour earlier, she was at home with her family. A short while later, I learned her husband hadn’t survived and she was in serious condition in the hospital along with two of her sons.


As we sat there trying to fathom what had happened, the phone rang. Across the county, another friend’s house had been damaged by the tornado, but she sought shelter in her bathtub and was okay. My husband left in his four-wheel-drive truck to pick up her husband and bring them both to our house.


The trees down on our road alone had to be cut and moved twice that day so people could go in and out and check on loved ones. My son-in-law had several family members injured as their trailers were destroyed also. We had a houseful of people that night and the next days were blurred as my family moved to different sites to help clean up and find lost items blown everywhere. Fourteen people in our rural county alone lost their lives, 243 statewide.


Members of my family, along with our Pastor and his wife, received numerous calls as a young lady in a neighboring county with the same name as mine was killed. Several days later, I was in Moulton and approached by a friend I’d not seen in years. She ran to me and hugged me, tears in her eyes. Until that moment, she didn’t know I’d survived.


In Alabama, we learned a lot that day. The extensive warnings ahead of time saved numerous lives I’m sure, but many still didn’t heed the warnings. I’ll never take another outbreak of storms lightly. Everywhere you look, you still see signs of that day: houses never rebuilt, woods shattered, and a new skyline.


As the third anniversary of that day approaches, Alabama will hold services, memorials, and family gatherings to remember lost loved ones. Monuments and parks have been established to honor those who died. People banded together then and still do today when a natural disaster strikes the area. I pray we never go through one again as we did on April 27, 2011.

Tiffany Colter

tiffanyToday we welcome Tiffany Colter, The Writing Career Coach, to 3 Questions Wednesday.

(1) What is your favorite book? [Bible excluded]

Tiffany: The Taking by Dean Koontz

(2) If you could walk into any book, what literary character would you want to be?

Tiffany:  Oh my goodness is that a tough question! I would say Ebinezer Scrooge at the END of the book when he wakes from the dream and realizes the mistakes he made and can use his substance to bless others. I realize he would have many regrets, but after seeing what his life could be, and being given a second chance, at the end of the book he has a chance to help those in need, make amends for those wronged, and renew his purpose. Isn’t that what all of us long for?

(3) If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Tiffany: Quimper, France to visit my French host family. I haven’t seen them in almost 16 years and I miss them terribly.

Thank you, Tiffany, for joining us on 3 Questions Wednesday! Everyone can select one of the free downloads available on Tiffany’s website. Here is the direct link to that page.

Tiffany Colter is an award winning writer whose credits include Charisma Magazine, Toledo Business Journal, regular columns for ACFW Journal and the Suspense Magazine where she writes the “Ask your Writing Career Coach” column.

For Tiffany, writing is about a relationship. It is more than stories. More than communication. It is even more than a way to make a living. Writing is about connecting with people and understanding them where they are. As a business owner, making this connection is imperative to the success of your company. Words evoke feelings. They engage your senses. They change you.

She earned her BA in Political Science from the University of Toledo’s Honor’s College in 1998. She earned a Summa cum Laude distinction and was inducted in numerous honor societies, including Phi Kappa Phi and Golden Key. She is the owner of The Writing Career Coach and Writing Career Coach.

What is Writing Career Coach?

Writing Career Coach was created to be a place where writers could learn about businesses and businesses could learn about writing. It has grown to encompass individuals who work at all stages of the writing and marketing process.

In August 2010, we officially launched Writing Career Coach Press, to help our clients have a high-quality, affordable option for their book length publishing needs. We specialize in collaborative writing and creating workbooks to go along side clients’ projects and workshops.


It was a massive explosion that was felt for miles around, flattening thousands of acres of trees like toothpicks, forever changing the looks of the beautiful peak that many of us called the “ice cream mountain.”

Mount St. Helens, May 18, 1980

Mount St. Helens, May 18, 1980

Mount St. Helens looked so peaceful, so idyllic with it’s rounded snow-covered top, like a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream reigning so royally above a lush green carpet of Ponderosa Pines. On a clear day Spirit Lake, resting below the mountain, was as blue as the sky above and held a mirror image of Mount St. Helens within the frame of it’s grassy banks.

My family often traveled nearby to pick huckleberries, filling our buckets and coffee cans with all the juicy purplish marbles that we could refrain from eating on the spot. In the distance the beautiful mountain smiled at us, welcoming us to that piece of heaven. We never would have guessed that deep beneath the surface there were movements and friction stirring that would violently erupt, taking the lives of nearly sixty people and untold wildlife.

1980 was the year my Grandpa Ray died from lung cancer. Sitting in his tiny home near the Columbia River, oxygen tubes beneath his nose and a hospice nurse knitting across the room, many of our last conversations were about the rumblings and puffs of smoke that came from St. Helens, warnings of what would soon occur just forty miles north.

As students attending Columbia Christian College in Portland, Oregon, we could often see the white puffs in the distance, a welcome distraction from our Spring quarter studies. No one knew when the big event would occur, but the mountain kept warning us as the weeks wore on.

On Sunday, May 18, 1980, at 8:30 in the morning, my mother and sister were drinking their coffee when a frightening rumble moved throughout the house. The large picture windows in our living room wobbled in and out, rippling like cellophane in a breeze. They knew immediately what it was.

Approaching ash cloud from Mount St. Helens.

Five cubic miles of earth spewed into the sky, mainly to the East. My wife and her family lived in Eastern Washington where countless people were horrified at the sight of a boiling black blanket of smoke creeping across the sky, blocking out the sun, raining down pebbles and ash. People ran to their cars to find loved ones. They huddled in their homes or fearfully stayed in stores and workplaces, unsure if it was safe to go out.


Cars and trucks stalled out on every road and highway as volcanic ash choked the engines of all running vehicles, even emergency vehicles. Drivers and passengers sat helpless, praying and panicking, wondering if this was the end.

Decades later the land around Mount St. Helens is green again. A crater nearly two miles wide is all that is left of the once beautifully snowcapped mountain that had resembled an ice cream cone.

Forever buried beneath the layers of volcanic ash is Harry Truman. Not the president, but a feisty old local who refused to heed the warnings, fully believing that he and his many cats were safe from harm. He would stare at his beautiful mountain outside his window, calculating how the blast would impact the area, if it ever occurred at all, and he decided everything would be fine. No one, no geologist or forest ranger, no sheriff, friend or family member, could convince him otherwise.

There are now more serious rumblings in Southern California, and days ago the coastal nation of Chile was hit with a major earthquake (8.2 on the Richter scale), with huge aftershocks and tsunami waves.

Nature’s roars and rumblings couldn’t be more perfectly timed for a current movie blockbuster. The film Noah is playing to packed houses across the nation, proving that there is something about the unpredictable force of nature that draws us. Perhaps it’s because, despite all our technological advances, we long to be reminded that this world is bigger than us. There is a power we cannot tame nor fully understand.

We are but tiny creatures living in a big world that has plans of its own, dictated by the One who began it all so long ago. It’s a beautiful, yet terrifying place we live in. But it’s not our permanent home. I recall the words of a church hymn I learned as a boy: “This world is not my home. I’m just a-passin’ through.”

Just as Judy Garland sings in The Wizard of Oz about that place “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” we also sense a place that is far beyond what we can see and feel, beyond the here and now. The beauty of this world gives life meaning, but the roars and rumblings of this world remind us that we cannot stay here, that we should all prepare for that final move to our permanent home.


For those of you who have the urge to write, when have you been reminded that this world is far bigger than you? What stories can you tell about how this world reminds you that another one awaits?

Jessica Snell

jess11-13 Today we welcome Jessica Snell, author, editor and blogger, to 3 Questions Wednesday.

(1) What is your favorite book? [Bible excluded]

Jessica: There are several I keep coming back to (Bujold’s “A Civil Campaign”, Lewis’ “Till We Have Faces”), but probably at the top of that list is Dorothy L. Sayers’ “Gaudy Night”. I can sink into that story any day, any month, any year. I love the slow, simmering love story. I love the way it places me in the beautiful, green grounds of Oxford. I love the underlying themes of vocation and relationship. And I love Lord Peter Wimsey!

(2) If you could walk into any book, what literary character would you want to be?

Jessica: Hm. Do I get to pick when I would be that character, too? I mean, it’d be lovely to be Miles Vorkosigan strolling around the fantastic celebration that was the emperor’s wedding, but I’d hate to be him when he was trapped in a psychotic, futuristic prison camp! And to be Harriet Vane punting on the river with Lord Peter? Bliss! To be Harriet Vane on trial for murder? Umm . . .

(3) If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Jessica: New Zealand. I fell in love with New Zealand when I read Essie Summers’ descriptions of it as a teenager. And then the Lord of the Rings came out and I couldsee what she’d been talking about all those years . . . and I just fell in love all over again. Those mountains!

Thank you, Jessica, for joining us on 3 Questions Wednesday!


Jessica Snell is a mom of four who makes her home in sunny Southern California. She loves celebrating the traditional Christian feasts and fasts, and helping others do the same!  She’s the editor of “Let Us Keep the Feast”, and blogs at Homemaking Through the Church Year.

Its a Wrap!


We started off the month with a celebration of our own fellow contributor, Christina Rich’s release of “The Guardian’s Promise.” I enjoyed reading her book very much, and look forward to the sequel in July.

All my friends here on “Writing Prompts” had so many great ideas and choices for a healthier lifestyle. Proving that you can try many different avenues and find one that especially works for you. Not only is it important to take care of your physical wellbeing, but your spiritual health needs exercising as well. God just wants us to strive for our best. I know that I am personally determined to be more conscience of eating better and walking. I have already lost ten pounds and I am concentrating on the next ten pounds, and beyond to a lighter me. I tried a recipe this past month using Quinoa. I had heard many health benefits about this wonder grain, and of course I had to try it.

I love making up my own recipes and this was a hit, even husband and picky kids thought it was good. I made stuffed Green Peppers. I used four peppers, cutting off the tops and slicing them in two; so that you have eight half peppers in a glass baking dish. I prepared the Quinoa to the directions on the box, until I had two cups of cooked Quinoa.

While waiting for the wonder grain to cool. I blanched the half peppers in boiling water for about 20 minutes, and then took them out of the water to cool on paper towels. Then I added diced celery, grated carrots, green onions, sautéed mushrooms, and finely shredded Monterey Jack cheese to the Quinoa. I never measure anything (this drives hubby nuts), so you will just have to do it to taste. I then added salt, pepper, soy sauce and sesame seed oil, and mixed it well. Then line the baking dish with the peppers and stuff with Quinoa mixture. I baked it for about 20 to 30 minutes, and it was very tasty if I do say so myself! If you should try this recipe, please let me know what you think about it. Or, if you tweaked it I would like to know how you made it better. There are so many great foods available that are beneficial to our health. And a simple change in diet can make a huge difference.

Thank you to Carole Brown, Christina Rich, Connie Almony, and Caryl McAdoo for contributing to our 3 Question Wednesday. It’s always nice to stay connected with our writer friends. And don’t miss April as we take a look at natural disasters.



Exercise – the Bane of my Existence

Ginger picby Ginger Solomon

Exercise is the bane of my existence. I hate it with a passion because I want to see results of the things I do and exercise seems to take forever to prove itself worthy.

Add to that the fact that I’ve never been athletic. I just didn’t do sports. Like the majority of kids of my generation, most of my time was spent outside, running and playing, but it was all for fun. I guess I was fit, for a child/preteen. Once I hit my teen years, more and more of my time was spent indoors — at school, doing homework, or reading.

Now, however, I am under doctor’s orders to get fit and trim. Sure. Right. Yeah, let’s do this thing. Can’t you just here my enthusiasm? (said so sarcastically even through the written word you can’t miss it)

With gyms popping up all over the map, I could hit one of those — for a price. Well, to be honest, I have access to a well-stocked gym for free, but it’s a twenty-minute drive one-way for a twenty-minute work-out. Two-thirds of my time would be spent on the road. Thanks, but no thanks. I really do have better ways to spend that extra forty minutes.

So what’s a girl(or guy) to do? High-impact exercises are out. Carrying seven babies (all over 9 lbs) took care of that for me. To be honest, I don’t know exactly what will work for me. I do know I have to do something.

Here are some things I plan to try at least one day a week (I need the variety or I get bored):

  • pilates
  • elliptical (vs the treadmill)
  • walking when it’s nice outside (2 miles for now, more as my endurance increases)
  • yoga (keep in mind Betty’s warning); I found some useful Christian yoga videos on Youtube.
  • muscle toning
  • bicycling

To be honest, it seems like a simple, short list, and it is. I need simple. My life is already complicated in many areas and I don’t need to think too much about exercising or it will never get done.

What do you do to stay fit and trim or what are you trying to do to make a better you?


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Our Latest Winner at the Writing Prompts Blog

VOWUNBROKENCOVThe winner of Caryl McAdoo’s book, Vow Unbroken, is Deborah Malone. Congratulations Deborah!


Make sure you don’t miss this week’s guest, Connie Almony…