Thursday, January 15, 2009

Author of the Month--Susan May Warren's Guest Post!


One way to really get to know an author is to read her blog. I've asked Susan to share a post with us. I think you'll like it...

The things I do for my stories.

So, I believe in research and getting the story right. I just don’t always plan it.

Two years ago, we had a fire at our house. A big fire, that took out our 28 x 30 foot garage. All because SOMEONE was haggling with an editor over a plotline.

But maybe that’s too easy. Too simple. And, really, it doesn’t at all show how God works in amazing ways.

So, maybe you deserve the entire story. Here it is, written in a letter to my parents the “morning after.”

Hey all,
It’s a beautiful morning here, the sun is shining the snow is melting and the northern Warrens have many reasons to praise the Lord. Because we had a fire last night. Burned our garage to the foundation. (picture attached).

We lost a lot – Andrew’s multi-million dollar tool box, our cedar siding for the garage and the house, all our ski gear, our camping equipment, stuff from Russia, sleds, bikes, all Andrew’s new tools including the new compressor he’d just purchased, his turkey fryer, car gear, and….I think the cat.

But, here’s what we gained:
An even deeper gratitude that we have a house and this morning, gas, electric and telephone.
A gratefulness for our neighbors, that they poured out to help us.
A local fire department who sloshed through the snow to put out the fire.
A church body who came out in droves to support us with hugs.
A neighbor who took the kids in, and while her husband helped me turn off the gas, she comforted Pete and Noah and made them chocolate chip cookies.
A newfound commitment to unattached garages!

Here’s what happened. I decided that yesterday seemed the perfect day to deep clean the house. So, room by room we went through (much to the children’s joy and delight) and weeded out their clothes and toys that needed to be given away or thrown. Then we moved to the playroom. We emptied the toys, and moved up furniture, including the old futon Gracie the dog loved to sleep on. I suggested to my twelve year old, Pete that he take it outside and make a bed for Gracie where her old bed was….right in front of the heater. Well, obedient Peter did that, per my instructions, and in the process, had to wedge the mattress right against the heater. Heat, oxygen, and flammable material = combustion.

I should interject here, that while Peter was creation a chemical reaction, I was on the phone with an editor, arguing about a plot line. For an hour. I figured I’d check his “work” after I got off, but of course…I immediately ran to my office to implement ideas.

Meanwhile, the fire smoldered. We figured it cooked for about four hours before it burst into flame. Around 6pm, my husband, and our two oldest kids went to town. As I was waving good-bye, I smelled smoke, but thought, Someone in the area is burning their wood heat tonight.

(God moment #1: In retrospect, we know what it was, but I have mixed feelings about whether we could have stepped in to stop in. If I or any of the kids had gone into the garage, perhaps the sudden influx of oxygen might have caused a flashover, igniting the place into a fireball, and burning the victim. Yep, God sighting #1)

Around 7pm, after watching a few minutes of “Legally Blonde” (no comments, please!), I went upstairs to make dinner. Peter noticed a glow in the woods off the sliding glass door.
“What’s that?” he said. Then, unable to see the source of the light, opened the entry door. I was at the stove, and I heard him say, “Wow,” in and shut the door. No emotion. No panic. (To his defense, he says he was in shock).
I responded with a, “What’s Wow?” Not expecting the inferno as I opened the door and beheld the garage. Flames engulfed the garage, like fingers offering it to the sky. Sparks sprayed, raining down on our cedar house. There is a dull roar to a large fire, a rumble of horror right down to a person’s soul.
I grabbed the phone, but like a great horror movie, it was dead. Scrounging for my keys, (and thankful that the car was parked outside) I screamed at the children -- “Get in the car!”
Of course, my youngest was no where to be found. A couple years of my life ticked by before he emerged from the bowels of the house. I grabbed the kids and ran them out in the snow in their barefeet (and me in slippers). Then I did a Starsky and Hutch up the driveway and fly to the neighbor’s house.
Pete said later, “Wow, Mom, I’ve never seen you drive like that.” (God sighting #2: I managed to miss the electrical box as I backed up our drive!)

My poor neighbor, who is also a member of our church, was watching television and of course I didn’t even knock, just burst into her house and said, “My garage is on fire, call 911!” Poor woman.
Then I told Pete and Noah to stay because I’d realized I’d left supper cooking on the stove. Yeah, that’s right, um hum. So, much to Pete’s horror, I ran back out and drove to the house. My neighbor called 911 (and forgot our name, although she knows us well – thankfully Pete was there to fill her in).
Meanwhile, George, Florence’s husband, followed me, and had the presence of mind to grab his hose. (Mine, of course, being coiled up and frozen beside my house). Unfortunately, the water outside had been turned off for the winter, so nothing came out. I ran down the stairs, and prayed, “Lord, you’ll have to show me what that spicket looks like because I haven’t the faintest idea.” (God sighting #3!) To God be the Glory, the FIRST thing my gaze landed on when I ran into the laundry room was the water spicket.
I climbed up and turned it on and heard the sweet sound of rushing water. Meanwhile, George’s grandsons appeared with shovels, throwing snow on the house. George took the hose and wet down the house, but I was worried about the propane tank.
That’s right, I said PROPANE tank. A recently filled propane tank that sat eight feet from the inferno.
In a spectacular team effort, I sprayed the tank while the local hero, George, turned off the supply. The snow in that area was still hip deep and we were stuck, our feet crashing through the crusty surface and right into the undercurrent of freezing water.
George yelled, “Crawl!” and I transported into a Mel Gibson movie, sparks flying over my head, the front wall of the garage crashing down just three feet from me, finally rolling to safety down the snow bank.

My feet were ice, so I ran in and pulled off those boots, grabbed another pair, and that’s when my husband roared into the house. Poor man – he’d gone to church to do the bookkeeping for the week (he’s the treasurer), and Florence called the church and said, “There’s a fire at your house, go!”
So, of course, when he drove up our road, (in FRONT of the fire truck), all he saw was the glow of flames shooting into the sky. He thought it was our house. His voice was wrecked by the time he got inside and found me. Poor guy is going to die of a coronary due to spotty information. (And here’s a question – why am I always home alone when this stuff happens, huh?)

The fire was on its dying side when the fire department showed up. Still, it took two tankers to supply enough water to put it out. Andrew I stood there, cataloguing our losses, thanking God for our tremendous wealth in Him, and the fact that once again, He protected us.

But here’s the best part, the God-works-in-amazing ways moment: Of course a reporter came out from the newspaper, and asked me why I was poking around the fire engines, asking questions. I told her about my newest book, The Perfect Match, and how it’s about a woman fire chief, and how, of course, I wanted to get it RIGHT. She took pictures, interviewed me, and eventually reviewed the book with a half-page in the paper.

See, you just never know what God will do when we think everything has gone up in flames.

I hope you enjoy The Perfect Match.

Safely in His grip,
Susie May Warren, an author just trying to get it right…

Happy Reading!



Andi said...

You've won a blog award come see. ;o)

Kim said...

Oh Deena! Susan! This is amazing! Kind of scary, but very amazing! Thanks for sharing this story!

Susan, I hope all of your research doesn't turn out to be so dramatic! WOW!