Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Capturing a Story from the Headlines!

By Debby Giusti

Newspaper articles and nightly news reports provide story fodder. Some headlines inspire an entire manuscript. Others add interesting plot points or human interest angles to our writing. Today, let’s consider a headline that grabbed my attention.



WHEN?


Saturday, July 8. My daughter saw the first messages on Facebook and called the next morning to tell me what had happened. I did a google search, read an article that had appeared in a local paper and knew it was headline news waiting to be developed into a full-length manuscript.

WHERE?


What better place to brainstorm an idea than on Seekerville. That’s what I’m encouraging us to do today. Brainstorm the “rest of the story,” so to speak, or in other words, we’ll use the news article as a springboard that will lead us to our own story, a fictional tale worthy of an editor’s attention.




WHY?


Why did this particular event catch my attention and wouldn’t let go? 

Hubby and I had taken our family to Panama City Beach for a weeklong vacation over the Fourth of July.  Synchronizing schedules and getting our three adult children and their families, including four grandchildren, together can be a challenge. I wanted to ensure our week was perfect so I covered it with prayer.

God heard me and responded. Our oceanfront condo was lovely and spacious. The water was crystal clear, and the weather each day was sunny and bright. Storms had been predicted but never materialized. We splashed, we swam, we tubed and paddle boarded, and when we weren’t in the water, we made sand castles, collected seashells and took walks on the beach.

Saturday, as we were checking out, the sky darkened. Thunder rumbled overhead and strong winds gusted, blowing beach chairs and umbrellas across the sand as storms rolled into the area.  We left in torrential rain, rejoicing that our week in the sun had been picture perfect and fun, fun, fun.

WHAT?


So what about the news report?




At about 6:30 PM on Saturday, the day we left, a family was enjoying the water just as we had done. The mother had come in to shore, heard screams and turned to see her two sons, ages 8 and 11, caught in a rip current. Mom, dad, a nephew and grandmother raced into the water to save the boys and were caught in the current as well. Four additional people were also swept up in the riptide for a total of nine folks literally in over their heads and struggling to stay afloat.

HOW?


About this same time, a couple, who had decided to stop at the nearby pier for dinner, took a walk along the beach. The woman, an avid swimmer, salvaged a boogie board from one of the trash cans and then noticed a crowd gathered at the water’s edge. Thinking someone had spotted a shark, she and her husband approached the gathering only to see nine people flailing in the ocean, unable to swim back to shore.

Beach patrol arrived on the scene but refused to enter the water until backup arrived. Thankfully the woman took matters into her own hands. Knowing the victims were in imminent danger of drowning, she grabbed the boogie board and paddled toward the struggling family. Her husband quickly organized the people on shore into an 80-person human chain that stretched far into the water.  

Working together, the Good Samaritan couple got the children onto the boogie board first and swam them to the waiting arms of the closest person in the chain. That person handed off the children to the next person in line and the next and the next until the boys eventually made it back to shore.

The grandmother suffered a serious heart attack while in the water. The father and nephew kept her head above water until the boogie board team transported her to the waiting chain of hands that got her to shore as well. Paramedics stabilized the grandmother and then raced her to the nearest hospital. 

Within an hour, all nine people had been saved by the quick thinking couple and the human chain of Saturday beachgoers, who were willing to get involved.

Here’s a video  by Inside Addition that shows the human chain.

Click HERE to read one of the many article about the amazing rescue that appeared in numerous papers in the Southeast and was featured Monday on national news. (I’ve tried to include the most accurate information in this blog post, although details differ slightly from article to article.)

I find this story amazing on many levels. The woman found the boogie board only a short time before she realized people were thrashing about in the water. She was an accomplished swimmer and willing to risk her own life to save those in danger. Her husband had the wherewithal and organizational skills to encourage weekend beachgoers—folks who didn’t know one another and who had no connection to the victims--to work together to save nine strangers caught in the riptide.

I’m a sucker for a happy ending and this one certainly ended well, if not a bit miraculously.

Let’s see how a story—or many stories—can be created using this one news headline as inspiration. In my opinion, the rescue reads like the exciting climax of a story, yet the rescue could be the opening, inciting incident that hooks the reader and makes her want to turn the page.

List of Characters


We’ll use fictitious names as we plot our tale.

Disclaimer: We’re making up a story to surround this beach rescue incident. The characters are fictional and the story created is totally made up. Anything we mention has nothing to do with the actual people involved in this rescue. 

The story doesn’t need to involve as many people or a family. As mentioned above, we’re using the news article as a springboard that will lead us to our own story.


The Samsons are trapped in the rip current.
Mom – Susan Samson
Dad – Carl Samson
Grandma – Grace Hodges
Nephew – Dan Samson
Youngest Son, age 8 – Tommy Samson
Eldest Son, age 11 -- Billie Samson

Lady with the boogie board – Ann Carlisle
Husband of the lady with the boogie board – Jason Carlisle

Brainstorming Questions to Ponder




Who’s the protagonist?
       The woman with the boogie board?
Perhaps her husband?
A man on a surf board was mentioned as having joined in the rescue effort. Could he be the hero?

Is this a romance?
Who’s the love interest?
What’s the backstory of the hero and heroine’s
relationship? 

Explain the hero and heroine’s GMC?
Goal—what he/she needs (something tangible)
Motivation – reason he/she needs it
Conflict – what stands in his/her way

Don’t forget internal conflict?
A deep-seated wound or belief or misconception that holds the character back from living an authentic life.

What’s his/her greatest fear?
Fear of water?
Fear of deep water?
Fear of drowning?
Fear of rip currents, and if so, why?

Do any secondary characters have their own stories to tell?
Does someone in the human chain need to prove
himself?
Did someone fail to get involved in a previous life and death situation that turned deadly? Has she carried that guilt for years, maybe since her youth?
Is there someone who was never good enough or strong enough or liked enough to be part of a team? Will that person join the chain?

What about the beach patrol?
Were they ordered to remain on shore?
Or was that a decision they made?

Are there secrets that need to be revealed?

Why did the Samsons come to the beach?

Why’s grandma with them?

What made the Carlisles stop at this particular pier?
How’s their relationship?

What about the Samsons?
Is their marriage strong or on the rocks?

Now it’s your turn. Start adding details to this amazing true-life rescue scenario. You don’t have to provide an entire story line, just throw a few ideas into the mix, and we’ll see what develops. By the way, everything is up for grabs so you can use anything we discuss today in your own stories.

Leaving the beach is always hard, but we'll be back next summer.

Two creative commenters will receive a copy of my Publishers Weekly bestseller, AMISH REFUGE, the first book in my Amish Protectors series, as well as a coloring book and colored pencils, along with a copy of The Writer's Prayer and The Reader's Prayer. I’ll also include a coupon for $1 off your next Love Inspired book purchase.

To fuel our creativity, I’ve stocked the breakfast bar with muffins, bagels, fruit, sausage and grits. The coffee’s hot. So is the tea. Pour a cup, fill your plate and start brainstorming.

I'll be attending the Romance Writers of America National Conference next week in Disney World. Let me know, if you’ll be there.

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti


AMISH REFUGE
By Debby Giusti

HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT

Miriam Miller barely escapes the ruthless attacker that killed her mother and kidnapped her sister. Running deeper into the woods, she’s running out of hope…until she falls into the arms of an unlikely bodyguard—a peaceful Amish farmer. Something about Abram Zook inspires her trust, but even in bucolic Willkommen, Georgia, Miriam faces danger. Both from the men pursuing her and from her growing feelings for the caring—though guarded— widower who protects her. Because if she falls for Abram she’ll have to embrace his Amish faith as her own—or lose him. With each minute, her abductor creeps closer, pushing Miriam to an inevitable choice: stay and risk her heart…or leave and risk her life.

Order HERE!


COVER REVEAL
Undercover Amish
By Debby Giusti
October 2017

After Hannah Miller’s mother is murdered and her sisters go missing, someone comes after her. Now the only way she can survive is to entrench herself in an Amish community…and rely on Lucas Grant, a former police officer who is planning to join the Amish faith, for protection. But finding refuge for Hannah— disguised as Plain at a secluded inn—pulls Lucas back into his old life. And when Lucas discovers the criminals after them may be the people who killed his partner, the mission to take them down becomes personal. With the assailants closing in, though, can Lucas stop them…and finally put his past behind him to start an Amish life with Hannah?
Pre-order HERE!


141 comments :

  1. Oh my Debby, You are ambitious. Its bedtime and my brain is mush, but I will check in tomorrow and see what our amazing villagers come up with in this story. The true story was pretty amazing. I've been in rip tides before. Scary as all get out. Those people were amazing.

    Sand trickled through her toes as Ann Carlisle strolled along the water's edge. What was she going to wear to the party tonight? Glancing skyward at the deep colors in the sky, she thought about her new blue dress.
    "Ouch." She jerked her toe back and glared at the boogie board stuck in the sand.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sandra, you wrote the beginning of the story! Good job. But just throwing out ideas works as well.

      Tell us more about being caught in a riptide.

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    2. When you get caught in one and there is no chain of people to help, it is said that it is best to go along with it. Don't waste energy trying to fight it. Just let it carry you out and the rip weakens in deep water. Then swim parallel to shore and use your energy to come in out of the rip. That is what I did when caught in rips when we lived on the beach in Southern California.

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    3. How far out did it take you, Sandra? I'm sure your were frightened! I'd be terrified.

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    4. Not really. We were body surfing so just went out with the tide. Probably about a hundred to hundred twenty feet. Lots of times we caught the rip tides on purpose to get out to catch the waves.

      Delete
  2. WOW. This story totally mesmerized me. That picture of the human chain. I need some time to digest all this. Incredible.

    I know someone whose brother-in-law was caught in a riptide at a Hawaiian beach and was never found. This is serious stuff.

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    Replies
    1. Hawaii has strong rip currents...and sharks...that attack. I'll stay on the Gulf Coast. They have sharks too and rip currents but I feel more secure there.

      Delete
  3. Grandma was taking a long anticipated beach vacation with her grown kids and grandkids. It may very well be her last one, just last week she celebrated her 89th birthday and wasn't getting any younger. The thought of being in the water was much too hard to resist! She'd been a champion swimmer in high school and loved the feeling of floating free, letting the gentle waves take her where they may.

    Ok there's my terrible contribution, it's why I leave the writing up to you authors, lol! Please don't let Grammar Queen out of her room :-/

    I just thought that grandma might be on a family vacation having the time of her life :-) It's how I imagined it anyway.

    Please add my name for the prize pack, thanks so much!

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    Replies
    1. Good one, Trixi! I like that Grandma could have started it all. :)

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    2. Great brainstorming, Trixi! Love that Grandma was a champion swimmer!

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  4. Debby, I saw this story on the news Tuesday morning and was blown away! I thought to myself that there must be a story there somewhere. In fact, I told my husband that surely there's a sermon illustration there. :) Great minds think alike!

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    Replies
    1. God was certainly covering that family, Missy! Having left PCB that morning, it really hit me hard. Plus, we had been out in deep water far more on this trip than usual. Probably because it was so placid and clear. Although the storm would have kicked up waves and made the Gulf a bit more treacherous for sure.

      As you mentioned, this could certainly be used in a sermon. Lot's of possibilities!

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  5. Here are my ideas:

    Opening of the story could be this news scene, I think. Maybe our boogie board woman is single. She happens on the scene as the rescue crew arrives. But their boss orders them not to go in yet. The heroine goes rushing in. Then the hero, one of the rescue team, risks getting fired by joining the woman with the boogie board to try to save the family. So that's they way they meet.

    Love at first sight. So what keeps them apart????

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    Replies
    1. Missy, I like your idea. A single woman who rushes to the rescue and a guy in the beach patrol who ignores orders to join her in the rescue. Yes!

      Great way to get that hero and heroine together at the beginning. Plus, the hero might be reprimanded for disobeying orders.

      Delete
    2. Now we need internal and external conflict!

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    3. Missy, check out Terri's comment below. She suggests having the heroine in Witness Protection.

      The story is developing nicely! :)

      Delete
    4. Hey Debby, I like Ann and Jason as having a troubled marriage and the effort to save the Samsons brings them back together. Or is a catalyst for more problems. But I don't know if that's enough to sustain an entire book.
      She could be a former Olympic swimmer who for some reason had to stop competing in disgrace.
      There is definite story fodder here.
      Kathy Bailey

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    5. Missy, I like this! Good way to have the couple meet, especially if they squabble while they're saving lives.
      KB

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    6. Missy, I like the heroine being single, and I'd thought about one of the rescue workers going in against orders. They could be the H/H for sure.

      Witness protection? Maybe the hero is intrigued by the heroine and wants to know why she ran into such a dangerous situation. He begins to look for her. After a few days, he finds her. Maybe running for her life from the people she's supposed to be protected from. She avoided TV interviews, but somebody got her picture on their cell phone and it made the news. 'Mystery Woman.'

      Delete
    7. Jackie, I like what you added to the mix.

      And our heroine wouldn't have to be in Witsec. She could just be on the run...for whatever reason.

      Delete
    8. Kaybee, I see your story as what? Not women's fiction. Perhaps mainstream with a married couple so not a romance?

      Not that it a married couple wouldn't have romance. I'm laughing at my own struggle. :)

      Pondering...

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    9. Typo alert...sorry. Fingers got ahead of my...head! :)

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    10. We could have two stories...one with the married couple and another with the heavier romance influence. The heroine running from danger or in Witness Protection.

      Let's keep brainstorming.

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    11. Kaybee, picking up on your suggestion that the heroine had been an Olympic swimmer. What has happened to her since that time?

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    12. Yeah, I like Terri's idea that the heroine is trying to stay off the radar for whatever reason and now is trying to disappear again. Yet the hero is determined to find her. And maybe the news media is also on the hunt--which risks even more exposure.

      Jackie, that could be an exciting moment if he finds her running for her life! And I think maybe someone said he could be an ex-cop (now doing beach patrol). His instincts kick in, even though he knows he shouldn't get involved.

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    13. Missy, I like having the ex-cop doing beach patrol. He's given up his badge but still works in a job that allows him to protect others.

      Delete
    14. Kaybee, check out Jeanne's comment below. She picked up on your Women's fiction angle.

      Delete
  6. I did read this news story online. I wonder if the rescuers found this to be a life changing moment, not only for the rescued family, but for them as well.

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    Replies
    1. It would be life changing for me, Mary Preston! In fact, I wondered if the heroine broke down in tears when she returned to the beach after everyone was rescued. I'm good in a crisis but the tears come when the emergency is over.

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    2. Probably everyone broke down in tears.

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    3. I would think...did you hear the cheers on the video? Lots of reason to be jubilant or to shed tears of joy!

      Delete
  7. Ann and Jason Carlisle are in the Witsec program, so the last thing they need to do is draw attention to themselves. But Ann just won't listen when Jason tries to get her to walk away and really he can't either.

    Saving the family draws attention to them and brings trouble to their doorstep forcing them to go on the run after their handler is murdered.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Disclaimer/ I'm a horrible plotter!

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    2. Fantastic idea, Terri, to include folks in Witness Protection.

      What if we dovetail with Missy's idea. We use a heroine who rushes to save the folks in the water. She's in Witsec and disappears after its over.

      Who's the hero? Maybe an off-duty cop who tries to find her?

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    3. Terri, what a great idea. Of course they don't want the attention, but it was the Right Thing To Do.

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    4. Terri, I like that idea of the heroine (see above) being in on the run or in witness protection!

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    5. Terri, that's a great idea!

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    6. Thanks guys. And I like the idea of dovetailing Missy's idea I'm.

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    7. Terri, that was really a great twist! They SHOULDN'T get involved but they DO IT ANYWAY. And I want to tell you, one of the biggest rules of brainstorming is never criticize an idea--it stifles creativity. You gave us a perfect example of why NOT to criticize--and a creative idea!

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  8. DEBBY, thank you for sharing!

    Have a WONDER-filled Wednesday!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Caryl! Wishing you the same!

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  9. Debby, I heard about this story. I told Tim about it, and we had quite the discussion. It is so inspiring to think about complete strangers coming to their aid. It's so nice to hear GOOD NEWS! And that's what Jesus is for us.
    Happy Wednesday!

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    Replies
    1. I was amazed by the story, as well, Jackie. As you mentioned, it's wonderful to read about good news.

      God bless all those folks who got involved. What would have happened if the woman on the boogie board wouldn't have taken the lead? I wonder.

      Of course, God chose her and put her in that exact spot at the right time. He is so good.

      Love hearing stories of disaster when no one gets injured or no loss of life. I know God was there through it all!

      Delete
  10. Update...

    We've got a heroine on the run or in Witness Protection. She rescues the swimmers. The hero follows her into the water and joins in the effort. He could be part of the beach patrol or a cop...

    Perhaps a wounded cop struggling to heal. Was he in wounded in action? Or is his wound internal? Did he fail to response to a call? Did someone die because of his mistake? That's a heavy load to carry.

    Is he still a cop or did he leave the force? Is he at the beach to find himself or to lose himself...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the cop at the beach trying to find himself. Maybe he froze during a crisis situation and he's questioning himself.
      When this situation unfolds, he goes into the water without a second thought. Thus begins his healing process.

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    2. Yes, Debby and Jackie, I like these ideas.

      Delete
    3. Jackie, great input about the cop. I'd add that the cop has to save the heroine in order to heal. He carries that sense of inadequacy through the story until the exciting climax where he's faced with another life and death situation...and she's in the cross hairs. If he fails this time, she dies.

      Delete
  11. Kaybee mentioned that the heroine could have been an Olympic swimmer. Perhaps well known in the US. Then something happens and she disappears.

    We need to know what forced her to run...or forced her into Witsec.

    Did she get involved with the wrong guy? Did she get involved in a crime? Did she witness a murder?

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    Replies
    1. Heroine might have been going to represent a swim suit company until she discovers they are involved with sweat shops. She won't accuse them until she finds out for herself. She tells the world and exposes the truth, but now men are after her to shut her up.
      I know that needs a lot of work. But I thought I'd toss it out there.

      Delete
    2. Yeah, Jackie and Tina. I think that works well.

      Delete
    3. Let's take it down to a more local problem...so the sweat shops exist but is there something in her local area that she uncovers. In the end, she find out that what she's uncovered in her own area is part of that larger picture.

      I'm influenced, no doubt, by LIS. They don't want world problems. They want local situations. Certainly a big, mainstream thriller might deal with that sweat shop situation. I don't want to play down what you've provided, Jackie, but if we keep it something seemingly smaller in scope we can deal more easily with it in the story because our heroine can be there or the hero can investigate. It's not that huge worldwide problem. So even if the huge worldwide problem exists, we need something close at hand to lead our hero/heroine to uncover the bigger picture.

      Clear as mud?

      What we've got is so good. Let's keep brainstorming!

      Delete
    4. It seems like nail salons have been known to be fronts for illegal activities. What if they sponsor mommy/daughter days and some of the daughters end up going missing. Maybe heroine remembers seeing one of the missing children at the nail salon?

      Delete
    5. LIS stories usually don't put young children in danger. Make those kids teenagers and it would work.

      Love the idea of a nail salon being a front for crime. Good job, Jackie! I can see a nail salon featured in one of your future stories.

      Delete


  12. Sweat shops and human trafficking.

    The bad guys see her picture in the paper and recognize her.

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    Replies
    1. In the paper or on the nightly news! Yes!

      Delete
  13. When I saw that story last week, I didn't make the connection it was where you were vacationing!! Oh my goodness, what a story. I love the goodness and courage. I also love how you breakdown creating a story. Great job, Debby!

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    Replies
    1. Larissa, add your mystery-writer mind to our brainstorming. What's your take?

      Delete
  14. Debby, I wonder if the story should open with the heroine strolling the beach, grateful to have a new identity and finally feel safe when she hears the screams of the swimmers caught in the Rip Tide. Giving her POV first will let readers bond with her and know that her decision to help with the ensuing publicity is a huge risk for her.

    Janet

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    Replies
    1. Agreeing with you, Janet. Seems we're all in agreement that the woman with the boogie board is the protagonist to this story. I like making it a romance.

      As was mentioned, we have a wounded cop hero.

      We need to identify the internal conflict for both the hero and heroine.

      Delete
  15. I got teary-eyed watching the video. I can imagine how emotional it was for you, Debby, when you'd just spent a week there. Riptides are so scary. I've always heard that if you're caught in one, you should swim sideways, not toward the beach, hoping to swim out of it, but it's probably so strong that it's all swimmers can do to keep their heads above water.

    Janet

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    Replies
    1. While we were out in the water, I had talked about rip currents to the children and how swimming back to shore is almost impossible.
      I have been to beaches when lifeguards got swimmers out of the water because they recognized rip currents. They told me to watch when waves hit the sand from two different angles. Rips form in the middle.

      Delete
    2. That's good to know. We've been to an island in Florida that has two different currents at their beach. No swimming signs everywhere.

      Janet

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    3. How interesting, Janet. Rip currents must be the reason.

      Delete
  16. OH, wow! Loving this discussion, DEBBY! I steered clear of the news for a while to defog my brain (I do that sometimes.. lol), so I didn't catch this story. I got goosebumps as I read about this, and of course, had to go to the video and then the news story. Oh. My. Goodness!!!!! What a fantastic outcome! (And praying blessings of healing over the grandmother.)

    Okay, to piggyback on our fictional story, maybe our heroine had to enter the witness protection program because she turned over evidence regarding performance enhancing drug info. and the web's far-reaching. Maybe the physicians involved set her up and that's why she's now a disgraced Olympian. These physicians are tough cookies and have influential officials in their hip pocket. The docs know our swimmer's still a loose cannon and have vowed to silence her forever for her role in the investigation.

    When she goes into the witness protection program, the public assumes the worst and believes the lies that are being spun about her. Eventually, her once-adoring fans turn their attention to the next Olympic superstar - an up and coming, impressionable young swimmer who's prone to panic attacks under pressure.

    This swimmer is the kid sister...of our cop/hero. He's gone undercover to investigate this far-reaching web...and confirm/deny his worst fears - is his sister now at risk?

    Maybe our hero's there on the beach that day to connect with said heroine - get close to her, dredge up any addt'l info. Of course, she (and others) don't
    know he's a cop or that he's the younger swimmer's brother because he and sis were separated at birth!

    Annnd of course, cop/hero can't reveal his identity to our heroine.. so there's that.

    They're drawn together by circumstance (sooner then cop planned, due to the water rescue).

    Too convoluted??????

    G-M-C. Hmmm... So many ways to go with this!!!

    My brain hurts. I need another cup of coffeeeeeeee! (And I've never written suspense, Debby. *whine*) Lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cynthia, you've added a new twist. Nice!

      A ring of performing enhancing drugs for world-class athletics that our heroine has unmasked, but the ring of unscrupulous docs--with the backing of the corrupt drug providers--disparages her name.

      Interesting to have the up-and-coming swimming star related to the cop. What if he isn't related but dated her, thought he loved her, until he realized she was involved in doping. I'm talking about the antagonist now...the OTHER swimming star.

      He's trying to find the kingpin in the doping operation and, as Cynthia mentioned, has followed the heroine to the beach community where she lives.

      Did this near-drowning take place within view of the oceanfront bungalow where she's been holed up? If we want to keep the human chain, we could set the story over a holiday weekend when tourists have encroached on her private spot of refuge.

      Just adding my two cents...

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    2. *claps hands* ...The plot thickens...

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    3. Cynthia, you need to write suspense! :)

      Delete
    4. I do admit to loving the element of surprise...and a little danger. Lol :)

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    5. Isn't it fun to brainstorm!!!

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  17. I'll admit I hadn't heard about this (that particular weekend I was "floating on a cloud" after becoming a first-time grandma, so news reports weren't on my radar, LOL) - - but reading your post about the events gave me chills, Debby. Thank the Lord for those wonderful good Samaritans and a happy ending! I enjoyed reading all the contributions to this today - - SO many directions this could head.
    I'm praying your trip to RWA next week is safe and wonderful, and can't wait to see photos! :)
    Hugs, Patti Jo

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    Replies
    1. I'm so excited about your new grandbaby, Patti Jo!!!

      Like you, I have been thanking God that this event had a happy ending. Thanks be to God!

      I can't believe RWA will be next week. Time is passing much too quickly! I hope to see some Villagers there. If anyone's going to the conference, let me know!

      Delete
    2. Patti Jo, it's been such fun to see photos on Facebook of you and your precious grand baby!

      Janet

      Delete
  18. The Rescue

    Sometimes when you rescue someone else, you are the one who is ultimately being rescued.


    Moral Premise: If you risk your life to rescue someone else it may well be you who is rescued but if you don't take that risk, you may well become the real victim of the incident.

    Heroine, Mary Chance, husband was attacked outside a Wal-mart some years before while no one helped him. He was just left there as customers stepped over him to come and go from the store. He died in the parking lot. She is now a reporter in a helicopter looking for sharks that have been reported in the water for the last few days.

    Hero, Eric Ivarson, saw his sister die years ago because his family could not afford a heart transplant. He became very bitter when a convicted killer doing life gets a heart transplant paid for by the state. He's an ex-military helicopter pilot flying now for the local tv station.

    Mary sees some sharks. Then spots the kids being swept out to sea.

    "A riptide is pulling those kids right out to the sharks. Get closer. If those sharks attack the kids, it's a Pulitzer! If it bleeds, it leads."

    "Sure, if we get real lucky, the sharks will go into a feeding frenzy and your film will be seen all over the world!"

    "You're not going to go all PTSD on me now, are you? We have a duty to get this story, solider."

    "What are those crazy people doing down there? Forming a human chain? We've been reporting sharks in the area for the last three days?"

    "Not everyone watches your news stories, babe."

    (Both hero and heroine are cynics who have lost faith in God as their prayers never were answered. They believe that humans are basically evil and not worth saving.)

    Boogie board woman, as a teenager, witnessed a hit and run as she was riding her bike. She froze. She did nothing to help the man. She froze for just a minute as a second car ran over the man and killed him. She's gripped in guilt. She feels she needs to be punished for 'killing' the man by doing nothing to help him. She even married a man who would abuse her.

    Boogie board man's father was abusive of his mother. He tries not to be abusive. However, his wife 'wants' it, she is never more affectionate than after he abuses her. For her abuse is like going to confession and being absolved. His wife is so submissive he is ashamed of her. He really would like them to change.

    When the two children scream for help, the boogie board woman, screams 'not this time! Not again!' With boogie board in hand runs into the water. The high point in her life was when she was a member of a championship swimming team in high school. Swim she can do! Husband is not strong swimmer but he can yell for help and try to organize a rescue.

    The rescue changes many lives. Hero and heroine are redeemed by the massive efforts to save the kids. Hero flies low toward the sharks to scare them away giving up getting the best video angle.

    The boogie board couple see each other in a new light. Wife as a heroine and husband as a man of action. Their lives change.

    Note: the Wal-mart, hit and run, shark, and heart transplant stories were in headlines.

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    Replies
    1. Vince, you've come up with a number of interesting threads and lots of inner conflict. You should be writing thrillers!

      Love the pilot and the journalist. Great dialogue. Wish they would land that chopper and be our boogie board team. Of course, that would be a bit extreme.

      Not sure about the abusive husband. Could she have divorced that guy and doesn't want to get involved with anyone again?

      Turn the love interest into a good guy, but give him lots of internal conflict too.

      Your idea of having sharks in the water ups the suspense. No matter who ends up the hero, that information about the shark sightings only makes the rescue more daring.

      Yes to the sharks!

      Can we work that chopper pilot and journalist into the story as secondary characters? Does the journalist come after the cop when he's looking for the Witsec heroine? Does the journalist uncover info about the heroine in Witsec and threaten to go public with the information? Of course, she won't...

      Keep up the good work.

      Delete
    2. Hi Debby: I agree about the abusive husband being an ex-husband. I just thought that if Mary could do it in "The Bossy Bridegroom" I could do it, too. My abusive husband was going to be more redeemed. But the abused wife is not very sympathetic. This was just a fast starter try. I always start with the Moral Premise that way all the other events of the story have an added context. I like the idea of adding other headline themes as they will seem more real to the reader.

      This was a wonderful exercise. I hope we can do more of these creative exercises. How about having to write a 300 word synopsis of a story based on an elevator pitch that you supply?

      Vince

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    3. Glad you enjoyed brainstorming today, Vince. Your comments were very creative. Plus, you were the only one to mention the Moral Premise. You start there? It's the last thing I do when writing. We all have our own methods, right?

      Delete
  19. This is a beautiful story Debby. Such a great feeling to see strangers pull together to help others.

    Ok, so there's this guy wearing his cowboy hat and swimming trunks...

    LOL. I have no idea what to add. I love everyone else's so far. Keep them coming.

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    1. Connie, let's put your cowboy beachgoer in the human chain next to a girl who...

      What?

      Those two can be secondary characters. Maybe she's afraid of the water and didn't think she would be out so far from shore, but the chain keeps growing and she gets pushed out farther and farther.

      The cute cowboy keeps her calm throughout the ordeal.

      Can they play a role in the rest of the story?

      Keep brainstorming...

      Delete
  20. Ok, so there's this guy wearing his cowboy hat and swimming trunks...

    YOU ARE CRACKING ME UP!


    And Vince, If it bleeds it feeds.

    Oh, man. I am guessing Vince didn't watch Whiskey, Tango Foxtrot. Free on Amazon Prime BTW.

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    Replies
    1. I can see that guy with the cowboy hat, Tina! Love him!

      Delete
    2. A guy w/a cowboy hat can never be a secondary character. I'm sure there's some kind of rule about that.

      And I'd think there must be at least one bad guy on the beach. One in the chain? Or one swept away? Not sure how to fit that in.

      Delete
    3. Surely the villians aren't wearing cowboy hats, right, Connie?

      You've upped the stakes by adding a number of bad guys. The heroine is sure to be caught!

      Then the hero saves her. But how?

      Delete
  21. Debby, I LOVE this! First of all, I teared up reading about the real-life bravery and rescue of the family of nine. So courageous!

    Secondly, here's a thought: what if this was a romantic suspense, and the villain is one of the people in the chain? Is he stalking one of the Samson family, or Ms Carlisle? Maybe he's been after Ms Carlisle. Being this close to her gives him an opening to kidnap her for what she knows. The man on the beach who was coordinating the rescue effort didn't know Ms Carlisle, but he admires her bravery. And . . . that's all this tired mind can put into words.

    There are so many options that could be taken from this story. Your post makes me realize that I need to pay more attention to the headlines. With all the fires in our part of the country, there may be some good story fodder.

    If we wanted to go a women's fiction route, we could definitely focus on the husband-wife relationship in the water. What if they were estranged and were vacationing together for the sake of the kids, and when they got back to their real lives, they were going to file for separation? This event could be the catalyst for a story about reconciliation, a teenage daughter rebelling because she read the signs before the trip, and maybe she's the subplot....

    I hope you and your family had a great time in Panama City!

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    Replies
    1. We did have a great vaca, Jeanne. Thanks!

      I love that you've added the villain to the human chain! Yes! Sharks in the water...including the bad guy. The plot thickens!

      Great development of the women's fiction plot too. Love the story being about reconciliation, perhaps of the entire family.

      Could we add some secrets?

      Delete
    2. Secrets! Definitely! Let's see...what if the husband had accepted an amazing job in another country and hsdn't told his wife yet? He was working up his courage to tell her and the family?

      Delete
    3. Love your idea, Jeanne. So he's going to make the big announcement the last night of their vaca...and maybe the rescue occurs earlier that night.

      Delete
  22. If we wanted to go a women's fiction route, we could definitely focus on the husband-wife relationship in the water. What if they were estranged and were vacationing together for the sake of the kids, and when they got back to their real lives, they were going to file for separation? This event could be the catalyst for a story about reconciliation, a teenage daughter rebelling because she read the signs before the trip, and maybe she's the subplot....

    Brava, Jeanne, for finding a WF story in this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kaybee, read this! Jeanne's picked up on your WF thread.

      Delete
  23. Update...

    Here's what has developed in our story. The heroine is in Witsec or at least hiding out from...

    1) folks involved in sweat shops and human trafficking that she uncovered, or
    2) a doping ring of world-class swimmers/Olympians. Again, she uncovered the corruption but her name/reputation was disparaged by the drug-pushing ring

    Hero is former cop. Did he date the up-and-coming swimmer who is taking the heroine's place in the limelight?

    Or did he make a mistake that cost someone's life. Did he turn in his badge? Did his mistake involve something that relates to what the heroine has uncovered?

    Vince mentioned the heroine having not acted quickly enough when someone was injured and then died. She had vowed to never stand back and not get involved again.

    Who can provide more info for our story?

    ReplyDelete
  24. There's a second story gaining more steam too that revolves around the family flailing in the water. Shaky marriage, vaca is a last time to be together for the family...

    Thank you, Jeanne and Kaybee!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Vince mentioned the Moral Premise. He wrote:

    Sometimes when you rescue someone else, you are the one who is ultimately being rescued.

    Moral Premise: If you risk your life to rescue someone else it may well be you who is rescued but if you don't take that risk, you may well become the real victim of the incident.

    Anyone see a different Moral Premise?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Moral Premise #2

      "A cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing'.
      Oscar Wilde

      If you adopt cynicism as a life philosophy, then your beliefs will be mostly substantiated but if you reject cynicism and look for the life affirmations all around you, then you'll enrich your life and only be cynical of cynicism itself.

      Delete
  26. OH MY GOSH, DEBBY, this is one of the most unique and BEST posts I have ever seen on Seekerville, my friend -- truly AMAZING!!

    First of all, the story about the riptide ripped my heart out and made me cry (admittedly, not hard to do!), but I had not heard that story on the news, so thank you for sharing it.

    And, WOW, all the brainstorming info and input you brought to us today is truly eye-opening and enlightening, so thank you again!

    Gotta go tweet this one because it's THAT good!!

    HUGS,
    Julie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Julie, add your ideas to the mix!

      Delete
    2. JULIE: Wow...I had the exact same reaction to this post. See above! I even suggested some new exercises in creativity for future posts.

      Being creative is being most alive.

      Delete
  27. Hi Debby
    This is cool. I saw that story and read about it. I pull stuff from headlines all the time for ideas. Have a whole file of stuff.
    My brain isn't up to playing today, but I'm off to go read through the comments to see what's happening.
    Fun, fun post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction, right, Deb?

      I'm sure some editors would say the bizarre stories that make the headlines could never happen if we add them to our stories.

      I opened our local paper just now and saw that a stuntman for "The Walking Dead" fell to his death doing a stunt. Breaks my heart. Only 20 years old! TWD is filmed in a nearby town. Lots of tourists flock there.

      Delete
    2. the story that really makes me cry is about the close knit family that lost nine members to the flash flood out west. Children drowning tears out my heart.

      Delete
    3. I saw that. The wall of water that washed into the swimming area. Broke my heart too!

      Delete
  28. okay, my favorite idea was the cowboy hat and swim trunks dude being part of chain next to the girl who's afraid of water and ending up waayyyy farther from the shore than she wanted. Like the idea of Cowboy keeping her calm. He has her telling him all about her online business selling items - can't think of what - (something oppo of cowboy stuff maybe) in order to keep her calm. Secondary characters who get their own story somehow... a novella that helps sell the main book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. dialogue:
      'net girl: I don't know... these waves could sweep me away next.
      cowboy: Won't happen. If I can handle a 2,000 pound bull, I can certainly hold on to you.
      'net girl: yeah, but can you hang on longer than eight seconds?

      Delete
    2. I'm laughing. Love your banter between the cowboy and fear of water gal! So cute! So well done!!!

      Great job, DebH!

      Delete
    3. Having a cowboy in the story is NEVER WRONG!

      Delete
    4. LOL, DebH! Love the eight second line!

      Janet

      Delete
  29. Love your tips about gleaning story ideas from the news, Debby! You never know when something will spark your imagination. This true-life rescue story really was amazing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I need to read the paper each day from cover to cover. Most times, I just skim the front page.

      Delete
  30. How exciting, Debby! Great way to get our sluggish brains working! At least, mine.

    As I was reading all the comments I was waiting for someone to turn the H/H around. Why can't our heroine be the ex-cop in Witsec? Maybe she was undercover scoping out the sweatshops/doping/trafficking and a mole blew it for her. If we are placing the villain in the human chain...

    I'm terrible at suspense!!!

    Already have a copy of Amish Refuge...up next on the TBR pile!

    Blessings,

    Marcia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love the switch, Marcia. The heroine is the cop!

      It's always fun to change things around. You never know when that out-of-the-box idea will open up a whole new direction for the story.

      Hope you enjoy AMISH REFUGE. Hugs!

      Delete
  31. What an amazing story and so thankful for the quick-thinking couple who saved that family.

    Enjoying reading all the brainstorming ideas. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Another news headline that caught my attention today. A cow in AL tested positive for Mad Cow! YIKES! My med tech brain wants more info.

      Delete
    2. That's really scary, Debby!

      Janet

      Delete
  32. This is great fun, Debby! Heartwarming story of people pulling together...one for all and all for one! I just wanna know where the dog is? http://ktla.com/2015/03/20/dog-saves-swimmers-from-dangerous-rip-tides-in-ventura/

    Happy Wednesday everyone!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathryn, what a great rescue! Thanks for sharing.

      Did you notice that the owners had gotten the dog from a shelter only a couple months earlier? Love how God works.

      We need to add a dog to our developing story...

      Delete
    2. And no wonder, with a last name like Barker. ;)

      Oh yes please, Debby. Need a dog for spice!

      Delete
  33. Debby, I heard this story on the radio and then saw it in the paper and it amazed me how it was done. I had no idea you had just been there. That must have really freaked you out.

    I am getting ready to leave on vacation tomorrow and have a lot to do, so my brain isn't really focusing well on ideas to add. What I did come up with was a story with multiple POV characters among those who helped out in the chain. It might seem like they are the minor characters, but they might each have their own stories.

    Please enter me in the drawing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have a wonderful vaca, Sandy.

      You're in the drawing.

      Remember the movie about an car pileup that featured so many stories withing the film? That's what I'm thinking about your idea. Wish I could remember the name of the movie!!!

      Delete
    2. CRASH was the name of the movie.

      Yes. Very good idea. How each person in the chain happened to be there and the domino effect of this event.

      Delete
    3. Thanks for mentioning CRASH, Tina! Yes, that was the name of the movie I was trying to remember. That premise could work nicely with the human chain rescue.

      Delete
    4. Did anyone read the 1928 Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder? I read it in junior high or high school and still remember it. (Amazing in and of itself! HA!)

      ** ** **

      From Amazon description:

      "On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below." With this celebrated sentence Thornton Wilder begins The Bridge of San Luis Rey, one of the towering achievements in American fiction and a novel read throughout the world.

      By chance, a monk witnesses the tragedy. Brother Juniper then embarks on a quest to prove that it was divine intervention rather than chance that led to the deaths of those who perished in the tragedy. His search leads to his own death -- and to the author's timeless investigation into the nature of love and the meaning of the human condition.

      ** **


      It reminds me a bit of this.

      Delete
  34. Debby, Hmm. I'm starting to think about the backstory and of course, the question of why someone in WitSec is even at the beach to begin with. The Olympian swimmer angle might make more sense. Going now with the opposite gender theory, did the hero ask to see his elderly grandmother one last time (is that even allowed? to see a family member one time before entering the program)? With me, I'm trying to get an idea of why the H/H are at the beach in a place that can't be totally secure. Maybe the heroine gets upset with herself for giving into the hero's request? Maybe the heroine had one incident in her background where giving into something that went against her true nature led to someone's death (maybe she didn't stop her best friend from drinking and driving in high school and her friend died and that's why she became a cop?)

    At any rate, I'll be at RWA next week and M&M in September (I'm one fortunate lady to have a husband who's watching the kiddos)!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the Olympic swimmer, as well, Tanya! Good insight about the best friend who died. Nice idea.

      I'm so glad you'll be at RWA!!! I get to see you. Are we the only two from all of Seekerville? I'm arriving Tuesday. You?

      Delete
    2. I am riding into Florida on Tuesday with Jeanine. I know Dianna from GRW is also coming (but I don't know what day) and is rooming with another GRW member.

      Delete
  35. Debby, love this! One of the most fascinating things I've seen in awhile. I plan to come back later tonight and read all the comments. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed the post, Laura! I thought everyone did a great job brainstorming. Love the creativity that flowed today!

      Hugs!

      Delete
  36. How I Survived a Rip Tide

    This story may help you survive.

    About twenty years ago, at Perdido Key, Florida, very near Pensacola, I was swimming with my wife while staying at my SiL's condo. That stretch of beach was almost never used. We were alone. The beach was not favored because you could walk out over a hundred yards and the water would still not be up to your chest.

    Seeking deeper water I walked out until I hit a depression. I was now over my head and about 150 yards from shore. Suddenly something seemed to grab me and pull me out to sea. Of course, I turned to the shoreline and started swimming as hard as I could. Nevertheless I was losing ground and still being pulled out to sea.

    I ordered myself to stop using my energy and to just float on my back as still as I could. If the rip tide wanted to give me a free lift using its energy, I'd take the ride. I was not being pulled under water which was a blessing. I could float on my back for hours. I noticed that while I was being pulled out to sea, I was also drifting somewhat sideways along the shoreline. Every once in a while I would try to swim towards the shore. However the rip current was always too strong. Then after about 20 minutes the tide weaken and let me go. I turned and went straight to the nearest shore. I got out of the water very happy to have survived and walked about a mile or more back to where Linda was waving at me.

    "What do you think you were doing?"

    "I was testing the rip tide. It's pretty strong."

    I believe that if I had fought that rip tied, I would have drowned.

    In other words: go with the flow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vince, you were smart to realize you couldn't swim against the current. I bet Linda was scared!

      Janet

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    2. Oh my gosh, Vince, you were pulled along for 20 minutes. I didn't realize the current would last that long. So grateful that you used your head and stayed calm. Thanks for the info. Hope I never get caught in a rip current.

      The articles I read on rip currents said that they never pull a person down and, in fact, the pull is not as intense deeper in the water. The real pull is on the surface.

      I'm sure Linda was frantic!

      Delete
    3. WOW.

      Thanks for sharing this. Seekerville is a lifesaver in so many ways. This could just be another. So HAPPY you were ok. Wshew!!!!

      Delete
    4. Hi Debby:

      I think you are right about shallow water. This was a strange rip tide in that there always was a strong current going from left to right which was always pulling us away from where our beach chairs were. We were always having to swim or walk back to our condo. Then the tied was going out. Also the water was very shallow for so many yards out. Then being pulled sideways as well as outward kept me from getting into the real deep water which was very far out. I don't think there are rip tides in deep water. I think the key is 'just don't panic'.

      Delete
    5. Sounds like you luckily handled that situation exactly as you are supposed to! http://www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov/surviving.shtml

      Delete
  37. Hi Debby:

    You asked for more suggestions on different Moral Premises for this story. I'd love to hear some more. I have a theory, I'm sure Stan would not agree with, that every well written story has at least three different Moral Premises. Can Seekervillians come up with two more?

    Vince

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    Replies
    1. Your theory of three is interesting, Vince. I find it hard to identify the Moral Premise before the story line is in place.

      Delete
  38. Thanks to all the great brainstormers today! I had fun and loved the various angles we came up with. Good job!

    Let me know if you decide to write a beach rescue scene/story!

    ReplyDelete
  39. I agree the story is inspiring. But I live in the area and it bothers me when articles criticize the actions of emergency services. This instance had a happy ending. But *seven* people had already tried to save the two boys and ended up caught themselves. The husband and wife who had the boogie board and surf board were smarter about it but still very lucky. As was everyone in that chain. They could have all ended up in a "dog pile" of drowning people. There was a lot of foolishness that day that thankfully everyone survived. And emergency services implemented their training to prevent any further danger and help the people who had been rescued.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Tardy is my usual lately, but present for now...

    This is a GREAT idea, Debby. Have enjoyed reading through a few comments so far and will peruse more.

    Just wanted to comment that this is exactly how we write May's stories.

    And... that is one determined lady on your new cover. Love it!

    ReplyDelete