by Sharon Ervin

My private pilot’s license was brand new when a friend crashed in a forest in southeastern Oklahoma. Searchers on foot and horseback tracked the weak signal from the plane’s transponder to locate her. Critically injured, she died leaving a husband and three young daughters.

Weeks later, a commercial pilot crashed a small plane, again into heavy woods. The transponder’s signal was weak, then gone. The search lasted days before the wreckage was located and the bodies of the pilot and our congressman’s two teenaged children recovered.

Those incidents prompted much grief long before they stimulated book ideas.

I wondered if tiny devices similar to those airplane transponders might be in our future.
AFTERMATH, my eighth published novel, began there.

Of course, such devices are now available in dog collars, children’s jewelry, and even implanted. Our heroine’s interest preceded that technology.

In AFTERMATH, Anna Fulenweider, a gutsy newspaper reporter, was investigating the development of an ingenious family of personal tracking devices when she vanished. Design engineer Joe Marsh, five hundred miles way, had done telephone interviews with Ann and had even sent her a prototype of his device. When he learned she was missing, Joe activated a satellite tracer on the prototype in her purse, enabling local law enforcement to precipitate her rescue. The book begins six weeks after Anna is recovered, cowed and dispirited by her ordeal, and refusing to talk about it with anyone.

The local plane crashes rocked our community and me, personally. Eventually, however, their significance produced many scenes and plots and characters.

In a writers’ workshop one time, the lecturer suggested we write our worst nightmares.

One amazing writer in our local critique group complained that her ideas had dried up. The next meeting, I brought a couple of news articles, one entitled
Wife for a Weekend. That was the one we selected as a group assignment. Poets, novelists, essayists, romance writers would all write something on the topic for our next meeting, in two weeks.

The “dry member” wrote an excellent, macabre short story of a bride who endured her first weekend of marriage on a cruise ship, then took action. The author is a lovely lady who normally writes light, entertaining commentaries like Erma Bombeck. When she finished reading her assigned piece, we were stunned to silence. It was sweet Mary Shelley creating Frankenstein all over again.

True to the assigned theme, another writer penned a whimsical poem, another did a confession, another a story of a military wife allowed only one weekend of marriage before deployment, etc.

That week I wrote the first three chapters of WEEKEND WIFE, my fourth published novel.

I do not believe in writer’s block or being “dry.” Writers have a responsibility to bolster one another. We all know little methods to get another off high center. Sharing is good.


Sooner born, Sharon Ervin has a degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. Once a newspaper reporter, she now works in her husband and son’s law office half-days, gleaning material for her nine published novels. She is married to McAlester, Oklahoma attorney Bill Ervin and has four grown children.

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4RV Publishing said…
I find that when I can't find the words to write or type, that I don't have "writer's block," I just need to process something mentally. I step away from the manuscript and do something else while my mind mulls over my project.

Jean Henry Mead said…
Excellent article, Sharon. Journalism training helps tremendously when it comes to "dry spells." You simply sit down and write--no matter what. I also read over the previous chapter when I sit down in the morning to edit and that propels me into the next chaptepr.
Mary Martinez said…
I never believed in writer's block. I always thought it was a excuse. Then last year I had some very large life crisis's and I had writers block. My muse was gone, no matter what I did I couldn't even process a thought to write a sentence. I gave myself permission to step away and heal my life, get myself to a better place. And the writing came back.
Vivian, Jean, and Mary, thank you so much for visiting.

Marja McGraw said…
Terrific blog, Sharon! I have to step away when I feel blocked and think about something else, and then something will just slap me in the face. It never fails.

Interesting topic.

I had a bit of trouble with the formatting of this blog, but it's such a good topic, I don't think it mattered.

Anonymous said…
I'm with Vivian. Sometimes I just get up and walk around, or step outside for a breath of fresh (hot) air. Sometimes I sleep or nap on it. Sometimes I get up and load the dishwasher or cook something. It's a change of pace, a change of focus and it usually works. I have quit giving myself deadlines.

Pat Browning
Jackie King said…
Good article, Sharon. A writer's imagination is a wonderful thing when given permission to bloom.
Anne K. Albert said…
Sharing IS good! Thank you, Sharon and Marilyn for another great post.
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