Tag Archives: New Jersey

The Day the Storm Hit – A True Story

Many people have said I should write about what happened while it is fresh in my head. So, here it is. This is not polished – just stream of consciousness writing. I have a novel to edit or I would have spent more time. Anyway, this is what happened.

June 23, 2015 6:26 PM my town was hit with a flash storm unlike anything most of us had seen before. I grew up on the Jersey shore and have lived through many hurricanes, but nothing like this.

Everything ended up in the air

Everything ended up in the air

I listened to the news on the way home from work, and they said there may be severe thunderstorms. No biggie. They always say that when it’s really hot outside.

When I got home around 6:00 PM, my husband was on the treadmill and my kids were all playing video games.  Hubbs said he was going to cook up some fish for us and a DiGiorno pizza for the kids as soon as he was done.

This beautiful old tree in Philadelphia was twisted up like a pretzel.

This beautiful old tree in Philadelphia was twisted up like a pretzel.

Since no one was screaming for food, I figured I’d jump in the pool and do a few laps. It was still 90 or so degrees outside and sunny when I dove in. It was 6:10.

Our neighbors tree in our yard

Our neighbors tree in our yard

About fifteen laps into my workout, dark, billowing clouds appeared over my neighbor’s trees. A rumble sounded far in the distance. Yes, I should have gotten out of the pool, but I picked up the pace for a few more laps. Time: about 6:15.

Power lines left on the ground because there just were not enough people or equipment to fix them quickly

Power lines left on the ground because there just were not enough people or equipment to fix them quickly

When I came up for air, I saw our large, free-floating umbrella swinging madly, and our two tiki umbrellas flopping unhappily in the sudden breeze. I jumped out of the pool and stuck my head in the house, calling my oldest son to help crank down the large umbrella while I took down the two tiki umbrellas. Time: 6:20

I really wanted to get some exercise in, so I jumped back in the pool. (Yeah, I’m an idiot). I hadn’t gotten a full lap in when my younger kids came running out of the house. “We just lost power!”

More power lines laying on the ground

More power lines laying on the ground

Huh? The storm wasn’t even here yet.

I got out of the pool and wrapped my towel around me. Brrrrr. When did it get so cold? Time: 6:25. I turned around and looked at the sky. The huge, black clouds were spinning, and all the visible sky in the center was green… like shamrock-shake minty green… and I’m NOT KIDDING.

Massive tree that used to stand around the corner from my house

Massive tree that used to stand around the corner from my house

My husband stepped out of the house. “Look at the sky,” I said.

He didn’t have time to comment.

Imagine the air in the distance suddenly turning white – kind of like one of those clear shower curtains that you can’t quite see through – And then having that shower curtain flung at you at a gazillion miles per hour.

My 9 year old stumbled to keep on his feet. My eleven year old screamed “Whoa, what the heck?”

Neighbors. Just about every other house lost a tree
Neighbors. Just about every other house lost a tree


“Get in the house!” I screamed to them as flecks of needle-like rain hit my face.

I turned and found my husband fumbling with a tarp. “We need to cover the fire pit!” he said. (Stupid, I know… but the thought of a tornado coming at us didn’t really cross either of our minds.) I helped him, because I knew it would be faster than arguing.

Luckily we were under the covered porch when raindrops the size of melted golf balls started falling. Big, white drops throttling the roof. You know how kids draw rain … huge teardrops in the sky?  Well that’s what it looked like, but the drops were solid white.

Streetlight snapped. This car has no rear window. Not sure if it fell on the car

Streetlight snapped. This car has no rear window. Not sure if it fell on the car

“We need to grab the cushions!” my husband said.

“Well, we’re not going out in that, they’re already soaked.”

Trees just bend over and snapped. This is a common sight if they were not ripped out at the roots

Trees just bend over and snapped. This is a common sight if they were not ripped out at the roots

That’s when something from my neighbor’s yard set sail, came over our six foot fence, and flew past our house. I can’t tell you what it was. I don’t rightly remember. My oldest son said, “Is this a tornado?”

I stiffened, staring at the green sky. Something cracked, and part of the tree behind our house snapped. Took flight, and went right through our stockade fence. That was enough to make the three of us run for the back door.

Yes, I was swimming here minutes before.

Yes, I was swimming here minutes before.

My two little ones crouched in the kitchen. “Is it a tornado?” Littlest asked.

I realized they were both standing in front of a glass slider door. “Get in the basement!”

Monstrous tree in the next town. The root ball was far over the top of my car

Monstrous tree in the next town. The root ball was far over the top of my car

“Get under the basement stairs!” My oldest shouted. (I was surprised he remembered our emergency plan.) But he remained at our side.

The little ones got to the bottom of the stairs and ran back up, more terrified of the dark and the noise. I herded them into the room where the windows were protected some by the covered porch.

Littlest posing to show how big these things are

Littlest posing to show how big these things are

My husband opened the back door as our patio furniture took flight. “What are you doing?” I screamed.

“I can’t just stand here and watch all our stuff blow away!”

A PVC recliner picked up and spun in the air. A metal table with a closed umbrella flew toward the fence, snapping the wooden umbrella in two.

The sky and air turned red after wards. Very scary

The sky and air turned red after wards. Very scary

It took several rounds of me and my oldest son telling my husband nothing out there is worth dying for before he backed away.

We stood, helpless as everything outside took flight, and nature peeled the beautiful tree behind our house like a banana.

Within about 20 minutes (I’ve heard others say it was a half hour – I didn’t look at a clock) the wind stopped.

We went outside to survey the damage. The sky was – strange.

These are the best pictures, but they don't really show the strange color

These are the best pictures, but they don’t really show the strange color

The kids asked why the ground was red. I rubbed my eyes, realizing they were right.  The brown spots in the grass were an odd red color. I held out my arms and realized my skin seemed a little red, too.  The air took on this “redness”. It looked a lot like television shows that try to show radiation and take the pictures through a slightly red-tinted lens.  Very weird.

Neighbor. Luckily the tree fell the other way

Neighbor. Luckily the tree fell the other way

The winds started up again, and back in we went. I’ve been through several hurricanes, and I knew when the eye passes over, the backlash of the rest of the storm could be worse… but I had no idea what it would be like for a tornado… and at that point we were fairly convinced that is what happened.

It was even a struggle to walk in places. (We were careful not to walk under uprooted trees after this)

It was even a struggle to walk in places. (We were careful not to walk under uprooted trees after this)

The second wave was nowhere near as bad as the first, and then the sun came out. People started leaving their houses and walking the neighborhood in a daze.

Still not positive of what happened, and hearing the emergency sirens all over the place, I kept my family inside for the night. We slept in the basement (partly because it was cooler down there (no power for AC), and partly so we were safe, just in case)

And then the sky just cleared like nothing happened

And then the sky just cleared like nothing happened

The following morning, still without power, phones, television, internet or even cell phones… my husband got in a car to go check on his 80 year old mother. He turned left out of our neighborhood to find the road blocked by police.  He turned to go in another direction, and was stopped by police, who said there were overturned cars and fires down that road, and our town was in a state of emergency, he had to go home.

From iphone 2015 856Later in the day we got grandma back to our house (she is fine) and I took the kids to walk the neighborhood.  We had a battery radio, and all we found out was that the storm was localized, and they were trying to confirm it was a tornado.  Walking the streets, seeing huge trees on the ground, poles snapped in two, mangled trampolines 1000 feet from where they were the previous day, and power lines just laying on the ground… well, there was just no doubt in our mind what had happened, even though they gave the storm a new category type… not a tornado, something about concentrated horizontal wind shears or something like that.

This is a line of 12 cranes back to back lifting the power lines (pictured above) off the ground.

This is a line of 12 cranes back to back lifting the power lines (pictured above) off the ground. In some cases, they drove a new pole into the ground next to broken ones and just moved on. Special thanks to these people working crazy hours to get our power back on.

When you look out over a forest and see an entire line of trees clipped off at the top like someone sliced them with a knife, you have to wonder how something like this could happen.

These are the kinds of things you see in movies or television news. They happen “somewhere else” not in your own backyard.

We were out of power from about 6:30 PM Tuesday night until 7:00 (ish) Friday.  Cell phone service came back Saturday. Cable came back Saturday afternoon. Internet came back Saturday night, and house phones came back Sunday.

From iphone 2015 857Our damage was minimal. We were extremely lucky. But I will never take the power of nature for granted again, and I will never look at a storm cloud the same.

ABC News video coverage and additional pictures of areas hit even worse: http://6abc.com/uncategorized/widespread-damage-reported-after-tuesday-storms/801925/

Post #662, 663, 664, 665… Oh No! What blog post is this? Nope Not gonna do it. Quick! Call in the Rabbi!

What is that I hear out there in the Blogosphere? Murmurings of dismay and fear:  “Why didn’t Jennifer skip post #666 and go from #665 to #667, the way some building elevators go from floor #12 to floor #14? No one would have noticed.”

Here’s my word associations about 666: the Number of the Beast; the Sign of the Beast; the anti-Christ; the Apocalypse; Revelations. It’s also the subject of “The Devil’s Highway,” a song by The Snake Brothers, a local Pine Barrens-based New Jersey folk/country/bluegrass/ roots band.

Hi there, I am Rabbi Ilene Schneider. Here’s what I know after Googling 666: all of the above. Plus there are as many interpretations as interpreters. Plus, the number is possibly gematria, a method of hermeneutics that assigns a numerical value to letters of the Hebrew alphabet. [Gematria is the reason the number 18 is lucky in Judaism – It’s the numerical value of the Hebrew word “chai” (pronounced like “hi,” but with a guttural “h,” not a soft “ch” as in “China”); as in the toast “l’chaim;” as popularized in the song “To Life, To Life, L’chaim,” in “Fiddler on the Roof.”]

English: Jersey Devil strip from 1909 Français...

English: Jersey Devil strip from 1909 Français : Dessin du Diable du New Jersey en 1909 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I also learned that the number may be a mistranslation and it should be 616, coincidentally the route number for Church Road, a south Jersey street that’s not very apocalyptic, except where it intersects with a traffic circle in Cherry Hill. Had New Jersey traffic circles been around in the 14th Century, Dante would have modeled his Circles of Hell on them.

The explanation I favor for the confusion between 666 and 616 is that the Greek name for Nero (as in the Emperor, not the protagonist of “The Matrix”) when transliterated into Hebrew is equal to 666, while the Hebrew transliteration for the emperor’s Latin name is equivalent to 616. It does make sense that the writer of Revelations would have considered Nero the anti-Christ.

County Route shield

County Route shield (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And, yes, there is an Atlantic County Route 666 in New Jersey, just as The Snake Brothers sing. I know. I looked it up. The road passes by Estelle Manor, site of the long-abandoned Estellville Glassworks. The town has been suggested as the birth place of the Jersey Devil, the only state demon in the U.S. “Devil’s Highway” is more likely to refer to our native boogie man (or part kangaroo, part goat, part horse, part dog, part bat, complete with wings and horns) than to Satan. (I think it’s far more likely that Mother Leed’s 13th child was born near Leed’s Point, although the monster has been sighted throughout southern New Jersey.)

So am I afraid that I am now cursed because I wrote blog post 666? No more than I worry about Friday the 13th, a number that is actually good luck in Judaism (the age of legal maturity; Maimonides’ list of the attributes of God, to name two reasons). There are too many real dangers out there to worry about whether numbers have a cosmic significance. But they are fun to research.

swish swivel sparkle

Rabbi Ilene Schneider, Ed.D., one of the first women rabbis ordained in the U.S., has finally decided what she wants to be when she grows up. She recently retired from her day job to devote herself to writing. She is the author of the Rabbi Aviva Cohen mysteries, Chanukah Guilt and the award-winning Unleavened Dead; the 3rd, a work-in-progress, is titled Yom Killer. She also wrote the nonfiction Talk Dirty Yiddish: Beyond Drek.

Website: http://rabbiauthor.com

So what do you think? Are you superstitious about # 665 +1?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Telling tales – Burlington County Times: Medford

There is a really nice write-up in the Burlington County Times today on a charity event I will be speaking at this coming Saturday.

There’s even a few very unflattering photos. [Hits head on desk] Note to self: Next time think twice about agreeing to have your picture taken after a long day at work.

This is promoting Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey.

Tickets are still on sale if you’d like to come out and support a great cause.

I’ll be hanging with Dawn Byrne, Joanne Costantino and Maria Gilbert March first, speaking to the Medford branch of the AAUW, the American Association of University Women, at Medford Leas on Route 70 at 11:30 a.m. Tickets for the champagne brunch are $30 with proceeds going to a scholarship fund for women returning to college. Contact Mary Ann Brookes at Mbrookes@comcast.net or 609-953-4035. Visit http://medford-nj.aauw.net

Here’s the article if you’d like to take a look.

Telling tales – Burlington County Times: Medford.


Enhanced by Zemanta

Are you in the Central Jersey Area? Author’ Panel Saturday

Local authors share tips and information on getting published in today’s market (organized by the New Jersey Authors Network: http://www.njauthorsnetwork.com).

So you’ve finished the writing your book/story, or have you?

What (if any) revision work needs doing?

Where can you go for feedback?

How will you know when it’s ready to send out, and where should you try first?

Join New Jersey Authors, Jon Gibbs (moderator); Kristin Battestella; Karen Bostrom; Jennifer Eaton; Jim ‘JJ’ Lair, and Nicole Zoltack, for a fun, informative discussion on getting published in today’s market, and find out why typing ‘THE END’ is really just the beginning.

See you there for a great discussion!

JenniFer_Eaton Sparkle__F

My First Speaking Appearance as an author!

Yeah, I’m quaking in my boots.

I’m also excited and hope to have a great time.  If anyone is in the Southern New Jersey area, I’d love it if you stopped by to say hi!

(I’ll take great vibes, too from those of you too far to travel) :-)

Saturday, February 16th, 1:00

Millville Public Library

“Love in the Afternoon”

The Devastation of Hurricane Sandy – The cleanup is not over.

As many of you know, the lagoon in the backyard of the home that I grew up in rose about twenty feet during Hurricane Sandy.  Our house (where my sister currently lives) was spared  with about $30,000 worth of damage.  Her neighbors where not so lucky.  It’s unbelievable what a few inches of height in a foundation can do.

But we haven’t heard much about it lately, have we?  Yesterdays news, right?  Here are pictures that were taken just a few days ago, after the National Guard started letting people back in.

For many, the memory of Sandy is far from gone.

Yay! My First Character Interview! Jump into the head of Emily in Last Winter Red.

Are ya looking for Romancing Your E-Reader? 25 Ebooks Up for grabs! Click Here to Enter!


Oh My Gosh! I am so excited for today’s post because I’m not being interviewed today… my character Emily from Last Winter Red is being interviewed by Susan Rocan. I’ve never done this before, and I am so excited to sit down and get into her head, and answer questions from someone living in this century.

This was such a hoot! I really hope you enjoy it. Please hop on over and step into the mind of a woman who lives in my Dystopian world of Last Winter Red from the Make Believe Anthology.

Oh! And if you’d like to see Susan’s Review of Last Winter Red, you can check it out Here. Two for the price of one! Yay!



Make BelieveFor The Love Of Christmas CoverWhy all the hullabaloo? Well, it’s to promote my two new releases “Make Believe” and “For the Love of Christmas”

That’s why!

And don’t forget to click on “Enter to Win” for a chance to win your choice of the two titles! Yay!

Oh, I almost forgot… A few random commentors along the tour path will win their choice of anthologies, too. So be sure to hop on over and say “Hi”


Hop on over and send me some love!

Click on over to see Emily’s interview on Mywithershins


Visit my Anthology buddies! They are celebrating too!

Jenny Keller Ford

J.A. Belfield

Kelly Said

Lynda R. Young

Terri Rochenski

Janelle Lee

Dani-Lyn Alexander


Hurricane Sandy Update – My hometown isn’t there anymore

I had a post all set for today, but I’ll send it to you some other time.

This is one of those events that really puts your life into perspective.  I finally got in touch with my sister today.  She lives on the water at the Jersey Shore, in my home town.

She evacuated to my brother’s house, where there was little damage.  They are just without power.

Yesterday, she drove through what she called a “war zone” and got as close to her house (the house I grew up in) as she could.  She then had to wade through hip-high water for several blocks just to see if the house was still there.

Luckily it was still standing, but the waters had surged over 20 feet higher than normal and flooded the basement and garage. She was very lucky.

My home town is flooded several miles inland.  The church I got married in is under water.  The elementary school I went to is still under water and probably a total loss.

My nephew took a canoe out toward the ocean and got as far as he cold before the national guard stopped him.  A huge house floated down the canal and rammed into the bridge that separates the beach side of town from the boro side.  The ocean/beach starts at the base of the bridge now.  Miles of houses between the bridge and the former line of the ocean are under water or just plain gone. The boardwalk where I worked as a teenager is not there anymore.  Structures that are standing are past repair.  Highways suddenly stop and turn into beach.  Where there are still roads, she said she couldn’t navigate because so many trees are down.  She called the street my husband used to live on “a war zone”

Seaside Heights and Bay head are still on fire.  Some houses survived, but now they are burning because there is a river of water between them and the rescue workers.  The national guard is just trying to get any survivors to the other side of the bridges.

My sister is a hospice nurse, and has been working since Saturday relocating/evacuating/saving patients.  She then worked on finding homes/shelters for eight of her coworkers whose houses are a complete loss.  One of her friends is missing.  She waded to the girl’s house, but it wasn’t there anymore. It was just gone.

This is insane.  This is the type of thing you hear about in movies, or see on the news in “other places”.  This kind of thing does not happen in your home town.

I feel so incredibly lucky to have suffered so little damage where I am.  So many lives will be changed forever.

Please pray or send positive energy to all those effected by this horrible storm.

It is very surreal, knowing that the places you grew up with, the places where you worked and played … are just not there anymore.


Work in Progress Challenge Part two. And I Promise to be honest

Okay… here we go.  If you are wondering about the title, I don’t want to get into it again.  Check out my post from yesterday (or click here)

First, Thanks to Roger Colby at Writing is Hard Work for forcing me to do this giving me this opportunity.  Roger’s novel “This Broken Earth (The U.S. Of After)” is available now.  Please check it out.

Without further ado… Here is the Work In Progress Challenge.

1.        What is the Title of you Work In Progress?

Oh yay!  That’s an easy one.  Well, Maybe not.  The novel I am polishing up right now it is tentatively called Fire in the Woods.  But I am also considering “115 Degrees of Perfect”  I could explain either title, but if I did, I’d have to kill ya, ‘cause it’s top secret stuff at the moment.

2.       Where did the idea for the WIP come from?

Oddly enough, I got this idea over a weekend while considering another project.  Jenny Keller Ford cued me in on an anthology.  At the time, all she knew was it needed to be a HEA or HFN (Happily ever after, or Happy for Now) and under 10,000 words.  My brain stewed on this over the weekend, and what I came up with was the premise of Fire in the Woods.

However, I was unable to use it because when I actually saw the writing prompt (it was a picture of a woman in red standing in the snow) it just wasn’t a fit (Which is okay, because Last Winter Red, the story I did write to fit that picture – is being published)

Anyway… This original idea was squiggling and poking me for a few months until I had to write it or give up my sanity.  I’m glad I didn’t try to write this in 10,000 words, though.  The story is too complex.

3.       What Genre would your WIP fall under?

Hmmm.  This could be a tough question.  I want to say Sci-Fi, but when people think of Sci-Fi they drum up images of Star Trek and Star Wars.  That’s not what this really is.

I think it is really more like a Contemporary Urban Fantasy.  It takes place in present-day New Jersey (in the USA)  The main character is a seventeen year old girl, who gets taken on a roller coaster ride when she meets a mysterious boy in the woods.

4.       Which actors would you choose to play characters in a movie rendition?

This is a question that I usually try to avoid.  One reason is that I do watch movies, but I don’t pay attention to actors/actresses names as much as I used to.  In this case, though, I can answer it for at least one character.  The character of David could definitely be played by Taylor Lautner.  Jess and Maggie (two characters) actually mention how much he looks like Taylor.

Maggie is a bouncy haired-pretty blonde eighteen year old.  Anyone want to fill in the blanks?

Jess, the main character, is a little conservative, but I purposely gave her the “any girl” appeal.  The reason is, that Fire in the Woods is written in first person (that means she refers to herself as “I”)  Since I was using this POV, I wanted anyone reading to be able to fit themselves in her shoes.  So, in answer to this question… she would have to be a no-name actress so people could look at the screen and see “anonymous”.  This would help keep them in the story as the “I” character (Did that even remotely make sense?)

5.       What is a one-sentence synopsis of your WIP?

ERGHHH.  Admitting to skipping this and coming back to it later.


Okay, I’m back.  One sentence, huh? ERGH!  I hate things like this, but everyone really should do this.  You need to be able to spit out your plot in one sentence if anyone asks you in passing.  Especially for that random publisher you might meet in line at the grocery store – Don’t laugh… it does happen.  Why not be ready?

Okay, yes, I’m stalling.  **sigh** okay, here we go…

Fire in the Woods is about a teenage girl who meets a boy in the woods, and ends up on a roller coaster ride chase across New Jersey to save the boy, and ultimately, the world.

Hey!  That actually sounded pretty good.  Yay for me!

At this point, I am going to stop because I know that I frequently don’t have time to read really long posts.  So in honor of your time, I will finish this up tomorrow, when I’ll answer some really odd questions.  And maybe you can help me with a few.  ???

Until then …

Jon Gibbs’s Ten things I wish I knew… Final Thoughts – Thanks Jon!

Here are a few quotes from Jon Gibbs that I thought were good little snippets everyone could use.

Thank you again, Jon, for your words of wisdom, and for going out of your way to help aspiring authors to Learn from your Mistakes

1.        Dealing with shyness – He is shy.  He is afraid of public appearances.  To get through it, he imagines his grandmother saying “Okay go home – you will disgrace all your ancestors but that’s fine.”  It helps him to trudge on.

2.       Figure out what works best for you and then do that a lot

3.       Write what you like, even if it seems out of date.  If you enjoy it, someone else will, too.

4.       Winning a contest (small) and putting it in your query letter makes you look like a newbie.  Major awards are okay, though.

5.       Writer’s digest may seem good, but you have to pay to submit.  Don’t pay to submit.

6.       Slush readers trash “Dark and stormy night” openers and don’t read to the next line.

7.       Jon learns more about writing listening to others critique his writing.

8.       Young Adult needs a romantic element to be marketable*

*This is what a publisher told Jon when he was selling Fur Face as YA.  However, a friend of mine was just asked by a publisher to remove the romantic element because it made them uncomfortable.  You never know.

Jon Gibbs is the author of one of my son’s favorite books:  FUR-FACE, which was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award.

Jon is an Englishman transplanted to New Jersey, USA, where he is an ‘author in residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School.  Jon is the founding member of The New Jersey Author’s Network and FindAWritingGroup.com.

Jon blogs at jongibbs.livejournal.com

Website: www.acatofninetales.com