Research bound

It is a free week here once again. I decided that I want to talk about some research I will be doing. In fact, I think all of you reading this could be very helpful.  Blackout Summer is a contemporary book. With two teenagers I thought it might be fun to write something for them, something that they can have a little input on.  I am sure there will be a hint of romance.

On my list of things to do in order to research this story where the power gets knocked out for a good deal of time due to a natural disaster, I will be calling my local power company. I want to make sure that what I have in mind is something that could happen in reality. I would hate to get it all written down just to have someone say, “That wouldn’t happen, they could have fixed that problem within a few hours.”

Now the family is going to their Grandpa’s farm. Grandpa is sort of a pack-rat. Which comes in handy for the family when the blackout hits. They’ll be able to survive, the children will learn what it was like before all of these modern conveniences came to be second nature.

Now on to the fun part of research. I’ll be taking my kids to the Amana Colonies. Where the Amish are close by. I’m also going to see if that little farm in Kalona still allows groups to come through. When I was in about fourth grade I was able to spend a day on their working farm, they have no electricity at all. It amazed me to see how they worked the farm without the modern items that were on our farm. I would like to go back and get a refresher before I start writing.

Luckily, my kids are good sports. So when I decide to make the television, their tablets, the radio “out-of-order” for a few days I doubt I will hear a lot of complaining. This winter we had the power go out within a few minutes we had set up a plan in case it was out or awhile. We had lanterns, candles, board games set up. Only to hear a groan of disappointment come out of my children when the lights came back on. My kids love research mode. In fact my middle child is wanting me to write a story set in the 50s, telling me he would gladly watch shows and movies that were made in the 50s or earlier and read only those books, and then told me I could get some old recipes and try them out.

Now on to how you can help me, if you wish. What do you think would be the hardest part of making it through a blackout in the summer months? Besides the obvious of air conditioning and no freezer, what else would be a pain and how would you try to make it through without that convenience?



About Angela Schroeder

Angela Schroeder is a single mother of three. She was born and raised in Iowa in a river town known for its pearl buttons. Having four siblings, she never lacked for someone to play with. As she grew older, she found herself pulled into books and writing more and more. Her parents are her heroes, her siblings her confidants and tormentors, and her children are a wonderful blessing. Church is important to her children and her. They enjoy the friendships they’ve made with the people there. Writing has always been a passion. Her first experience was in fifth grade when she went to a one-day writing conference. After that she knew it was something she wanted to pursue.
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8 Responses to Research bound

  1. jeff7salter says:

    love this concept and I’m already eager to read it… even before you finish writing.
    I did a lot of research on power lines and such for one of my books. It must have been Called to Arms Again — since part of their problem was that the power grid accidentally went down during a massive Homeland Security “drill”. I wrote that in 2007, however, and no longer remember much detail.
    to respond to your actual questions:
    ** I’d think keeping food fresh would be a huge challenge
    relatedly, nearly all the food (and milk) to be consumed would be gathered on practically a daily basis (unless they were eating things which had been “set up” (canned).
    ** they’d be somewhat cut off from “news” (radio, TV, etc) and therefore might be in the dark figuratively as well as literally. So if there were any new dangers coming their way, they likely would not know until that danger landed on the front porch.
    ** I don’t recall whether landlines (phones) use the power grid in the same way a radio does, but perhaps this summer without power would also have affected their ability to communicate with anyone outside that immediate group.
    ** if they have gasoline and a vehicle, they’d have access to a lot of resources — but if their gas was either rationed (or somehow compromised), they’d be additionally deprived

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Joselyn says:

    The thing that would drive me nuts would be that i couldn’t sew. I would keep thinking ‘I can’t do such and such, so I have free time to sew.’ Then I would remember that my sewing machine needs electricity.

    We had the power go out for about 4 days after a storm when through over Memorial Day weekend. I think I had to work so we had power there. It was an excavation company so the workers were busy clearing trees from houses and roads. I lived with my parents and we wouldn’t have gotten power back so soon if one of the lines near our house wasn’t sparking. We had a generator, so we could run the TV, fridge, and stove. It was on a farm, so we needed the generator to run the silo to feed the cows. I used a bicycle pump to keep my fish tank aerated.

    My in-laws were without power and phone for several weeks after Hurricane Charley hit Florida. I think they did a lot of cooking on the grill and a lot of cleanup. Getting gas was a problem because the lines were long at the working stations.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh,Angie! the one thing that truly grabs my heart is a writer who really does their homework! My hat is off to you! What a great idea for a topic!
    I will not let my husband see this because he has become a real packrat and it might encourage him to keep everything I’m trying to thin out! But I like to be prepared,so those kids can come to my house! Seriously, though,I did a series on family emergency preparedness my other blog,Tonette Joyce,Food, Friends, Family, which got a lot of attention.
    Even though the weather would be hot for those girls, a little warm water would be nice to get clean. Water that is room temperature in hot weather is hard to drink. Powdered mix, (or drops) help. Not having clean clothes is a problem. Does Grandpa have a well which has a power pump? Getting water at all could be a problem hen , so paper products would be used a great deal.I hope this doesn’t fall during an, um , inconvenient time for the young ladies. I also hope he kept the outhouse, if water can’t be pumped to flush.
    Grandpa might have a generator, but as Jeff mentioned, you need fuel on hand. Jeff seems to be on top of this a lot.( Good thinking, Jeff!). I have never had my phone landline go out during a power failure, even in major storms, but the cordless phones do, (they need to plug in ) and cellphones have been useless; the towers go out or you can’t charge them.I keep a corded wall phone in one room for that very reason. (There are hand-cranked lantern/flashlight combos that actually have ports to charge cellphones, but again, if the towers are out, you are out of luck.)
    It would indeed be hard to get news on the weather, road/bridge etc. conditions without power unless there is a battery-powered radio and enough batteries. If Grandpa is that much of a packrat, he may have his son/daughter’s old Radio Shack electronics set, where you can rig up a crystal radio, (that sounds like fun…somebody use that.I can’t foresee using that idea myself!) A prison break could happen and no one would know…(I’m scaring myself!)
    My niece and her husband had fish tanks that they needed to scramble and grab a generator to keep them going after a hurricane, as was mentioned. Anyone who needs medical equipment that runs on power also would have a problem, but I guess that doesn’t play into your story. Getting meds can also be a problem, but then, again, I doubt that has any bearing here, either.

    There might be plenty of canned food, but you better have a manual can opener. Spoiling food is a real problem.What to eat, what to get rid of,WHERE to get rid of it,( so it doesn’t smell too bad, attract flies and it doesn’t become a health hazard.) When in doubt, throw it out! They might want to use an outdoor grill, barbecue or fireplace to cook some of the meat. Keeping the fridge or freezer shut will buy them some time with some foods, but eat the ice cream fast!

    Power outages in warm/hot weather are so much easier and safer than in cold weather, though. Always be careful of open flames, esp. candles, which should only be used where they are stable, away from things that are flammable and in jars, with glass chimneys or improvised by being placed down in glasses or vases.And be careful because they get hot, and flames against thin, untempered glass can make them shatter.
    I hope some of our suggestions help.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tonette,

      All of your ideas are helpful. I like the idea of a prison break to add a bit of suspense.
      As for the grandpa, I figured they could finally use some if the things he has kept. A butter churn tucked away in the basement, an old push mower, and several other items. I remember excitement filling me when I found stuff like that tucked away at my grandparents’. I still have the churn. 🙂


  4. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Looks like everyone else has this covered. Since I’m a night owl, the biggest challenge for me would be getting things done during daylight hours. Laundry would be a challenge – everything would have to be washed by hand and hung up outside. I’d have to resort to reading “regular books” printed on paper – and looking things up in regular reference books. Oh, and we’d have to write letters by hand and mail them in envelopes!

    Liked by 2 people

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