Bouncing, Bouncing, Bouncing

Have you ever heard the phrase, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade?” I know I have, and I’ve made lemonade many times, but not with just lemons and water. It also takes sugar, elbow grease, ice and patience.

To put this in the perspective of my current life… Things happen. You have to adapt and overcome. Sometimes that includes setting aside a project I’ve working on to write something else. That’s how the Opus trilogy was born, incidentally. Right now I’ve found myself bouncing between three projects, feeling like Pooh’s best friend Tigger.

I know, if you have a ton of kids or watched any of the movies you suddenly are humming “The wonderful thing about Tiggers…” Yes, go ahead and “Dammit, Boyd!” me for that ear-worm. At least it wasn’t:

Yes, I know I’m evil, and this is a blatant attempt to procrastinate, because today I’m bouncing back to my main project, Still Surviving, book 5.  There’s some other things in the works if I have to continue to keep bouncing though…

Deadman’s Cay
Pen Name Project
Awakened Control 2
Third Sight

So if I’ve seemed off, or my smile forced in the last few weeks, just remember, I’m trying to be like a Tigger…

“The wonderful thing about tiggers
Is tiggers are wonderful things!
Their tops are made out of rubber
Their bottoms are made out of springs!
They’re bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy
Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun!”

Dammit, Boyd!

I’m sort of infamous (or hated), for my cliffhangers. I must read at least four or five different people a day say “Dammit, Boyd!” after they finish reading one of my books. Social media, emails, even twitter. Everybody loves cursing me. I’ve got thick skin, so I just roll with it.

One of the readers suggested I make a shirt about it, so those suffering from my cliffhangers could find each other in the wild. I was like… nobody is going to want to wear a shirt cursing me out.

As it turns out, I was wrong (which seems to happen a lot). So… The shirts are a real thing now–

$14.99 on Amazon in most Women & Men’s Sizes.

Writer’s Conference in New Orleans

It so happens that from time to time this introverted writer leaves the dungeons of his own mind to interact and mingle with other writers. Who else could understand the urge to put words on paper, to create new worlds, or write dialog you wish you were witty and fast enough to say to a random snarky person? It’s more than just that though, it’s learning about changes in the industry and a sharing of knowledge that you can’t get from regular online interaction.

I can’t even begin to tell you guys how much I get out of these. Not only is it industry news, catching up with online friends in real life, but it’s also a sense of togetherness. Often, writing is a solitary and somewhat lonely job. I recently wrote about my new writing space in the bookstore, but before that, it was done upstairs in a small home office. Alone. Or with little Hemmy and the dog. But mostly alone. What readers can devour in a couple of days can take weeks and sometimes months for the author to create. Sometimes we need to refill the coffers in more than one way.

I think of writing conferences as a way to recharge my batteries. Sure, things like movies and video games refill my creative batteries (Far Cry – New Hope, Yo!), vacation or visiting with family recharges my social batteries, but a writer’s conference not only helps with both, I get a handle on what the market is doing, what readers are asking for and how I can create fiction to satisfy their wants.

I’m not speaking for all authors, but I constantly worry: Is this good enough? Is my concept stupid? Did I convey the message/meaning I wanted to? In real life, I often stick my foot in my mouth, and sometimes that happens on print as well. Did I do it again? Will torches and pitchforks be used to run me out of town? I mean, if I knew for certain somebody was going to hate what I was writing, I wouldn’t do it… So it’s nice to have an idea of what’s working and what readers want.

And I know you all want Still Surviving Book 3: Darkest Day. It’s in editing right now!

So now you’ve read my blather let me tell you about New Orleans. I would need a month here at least to experience things to do this place justice. I’ve taken a walking tour of haunted NOLA, I’ve walked by or been into many restaurants that were on my bucket list, had some of the finest coffee and three different types of Hurricanes (Think Rum Runner, but different).

There is so much here. I have made new bucket lists of food I want to try, places I want to eat, shops I want to visit, and a new to me southern culture to learn about. I’ll be honest, as much as I travel and as much as I write, I never thought I’d be here and it’s blown my expectations away. I had friends tell me they love it, it’s awesome. My friends on social media gave me tips and suggestions on where to go, where to eat. Thank you!

Monday I’ll return to my writing space at the bookstore. Gone will be the touristy outfits I wore in NOLA, but instead, I’ll be decked out in comfortable clothing, gripping my coffee cup tightly, queuing up my tunes, and starting a new book and maybe finishing off another trilogy. I’ve got until mid-April when I head to North Carolina for Heritage Life Skills April 12th-14th where I’ll be meeting readers and signing books.

That’ll give me three solid weeks to see if I can tie up loose ends, re-pack and finish a good portion of the next book. I wish the timing wasn’t so tight, but these events and you readers are what keep me going. So again, thank you!!!

Support Your Local Bookstore!

Without bookstores, I wouldn’t have my career as a full-time author and sole provider for my family. There, now my bias is out of the way, let me tell you a little story!

Growing up, I didn’t really enjoy reading at first. Sure, I loved writing stories, but they were the stories I wished I could read. My parents challenged me to go to the library and pick out a book in my age range and read it. The reward? I could read any book off of my Dad’s shelf. Now that had me interested because Stephen King was HUGE… and the movies I wasn’t allowed to watch… If the movies were too scary, how scary was the books? Couldn’t watch them, but I could read them? Hm…

Challenge Accepted.

I don’t even remember what book I got from the library the first time (and I had to get a library card), but I remember the first book off of my Dad’s bookshelf. Pet Sematary. Holy smokes! Reading a lot more fun and entertaining than watching the movies! I was soon back at the library reading more and more. My parents told the librarian I no longer had restrictions on material and I went wild.

Now listen, I grew up in a small town and our library was great, but it was small like the town was! They could order books in but it took time– And I found a great used book store just a little further away that I could go to. There I found entire shelves full of paperbacks, from the heights of early pulp fiction to the latest and greatest new releases. I was in heaven.

Until I discovered beer and girls later on in life, most of my disposable income went into buying books. Now I won’t get into how the black market of schools operated growing up, or how I used to sell fish at the small dam as a kid (I did), all of that money went into buying more books and my growing love of comics.

Fast forward some… oh… decades:

I decided to make writing my career and went full time, knowing three months in advance if I wasn’t going to be making enough to support my family, the way I had working for somebody else. I had a home office, two wonderful kids at home (Sometimes more!), but the summertimes really made writing difficult as the kids got older and wanted to hang out during my work time.

I tried writing at Starbucks (Sorry, blech), then at Tim Hortons (Yay!), restaurants, our local library, but unless they were open early, I got my work done from home. A mutual friend shared a post about a local writer’s group that was meeting up at a bookstore. Holy cow, I lived in this city for almost eight or nine years and hadn’t visited the local bookstore? Talk about feeling dumb (I was). I didn’t make that mistake again and became a regular.

That sparked a friendship with the owner, over our mutual love of a good story and books. Last week I stopped in to talk to her about some books she wanted to stock (Mine, mine all mine! Kidding. Sort of), and ended up getting my own out of the house writing spot. I’m off a back room in a secret spot. It’s a writer dude’s dream come true.

My little writing cubby is behind a bookshelf, hidden by a pocket door!

Amazing! I love it!

One thing I have noticed since I’ve become a full-time author and befriended the owner of R&B’s Used Books, reading for pleasure is still going strong. There is still a demand for paperback and hardback books, despite a lot of consumers going digital because of price points and availability.

Here’s a secret: If you don’t browse bookstores, you may never find a new author to STALK … er… find and read their books you might have never thought of before.

So for the love of reading, please go out and support your local bookstores! And who knows, you might make some new friends there like I did, and support local businesses.

June will be a busy month!

I’ve traveled to North Carolina with my family and PrepperCon in Utah solo since you last heard from me. I didn’t get as much done as I’d have liked, but now that I’m home… I hope you’re ready! I’ve finished the third Opus book, which was needed before writing the second book in the Still Surviving series. If you’ve read Opus Two, I hint about some things and in book three it all becomes clear.  I’m writing that sequel now!

I’ve also started co-writing with my father again on some projects and have some things brewing in the background. One of them is a book we’ve done together called ‘Hunter’s Homestead’ in the Feeding The World series. Book one is done and book two is in process.  Also – Going to be rebooting Anonymous Justice and picking back up with book 5 between projects.

Also – If you remember I took some time off from writing the usual Boyd books in the spring of ’17… well, that was actually time off to write a book for Permuted Press. ‘Outside The Fire’ publishes June 26th.  To top all of that off, my middle son just had a birthday, my older son graduated and we’ve planned and executed 1 of 2 parties in three weeks.

Will Boyd ever get time to re-pack War Wagon and drive North? I think so, and I plan on getting a LOT of words in.  To keep up with everything, sign up for my mailing list.

Heritage Life Skills

On April 26th, the Craven clan packs up our shenanigans to head to North Carolina.  There, we’ll engage in the type of hijinks not seen since the trip to Florida in 2016, which has been scrubbed from all public record at great expense.  Ok, I kid.  We’re going to have a good time and if you’ve never heard of Heritage Life Skills, you should take a peek at what’s going on there. It’s put on by Carolina Readiness Supply and has a ton of classes and vendors.

I’ll be there with the Dirty Dozen Post Apoc Authors, as well as others in the genre.  I think the authors are also planned to speak Saturday night starting at 7 pm if you miss us at our booth.  Hope to see you all there!

Late spring weather & a reminder.

Random musings from a Michigan boy-

It’s mid-April now.  So why the heck did we just get two days of freezing rain and then snow? To top things off, it’s tax day.  Ugggg, I can hear the collective groans and moans around the country as people write checks to Uncle Sam.

That’s not what my rant is about (though global warming I could rant on forever), actually, it isn’t a rant, but an observation.  Few of us who take a trip into town in our vehicles wear heavy enough clothing. We dress very differently when we know the heater is going to be on full blast and heavy clothing would make us sweat.  A quick run into the post office in a sweater and hoodie is nothing on thirty degree days.

What if you broke down? Do you keep an extra winter jacket in the car? Hats? Gloves? What about your kids? Snow pants or snowmobile suits? Extra socks, boots? What happened if you had to walk home over the course of a couple miles in the clothing you wore out this morning? I’m willing to bet that most people would be darn uncomfortable at best or put themselves at risk at worst.

Great Video by Chris Fox –

I just wanted to share this video from my buddy Chris Fox. For a second there, I thought he was talking directly to me, with this video.  We (creative types) all go through it to some degree.  I love his idea about setting a schedule.  That’s what I’m going to get right on top off come Monday morning!

Eat what you store. Store what you eat.

That sounds pretty obvious, doesn’t it? For most of us, we don’t. Not even close.

Raise your hands! Yes, I can see you.  The NSA has nothing on my shenanigans, so do it… IF – You regularly buy some pizzas, drink some beers, eat your store-bought bread, microwave out some hot pockets… tendies (chicken nuggets), or pizza rolls… all the while you’re storing up on freeze-dried foods, beans, rice, powdered milk? Yeah… I’m talking to you.  I’m talking to me too, I’m just as guilty.

Suddenly changing your diet can have catastrophic effects on your body, especially if you factor in Murphy’s Law.  Yeah, we all know Murph- The asshole who always mucks things up when you least expect it and can barely keep your head above water.  He’s the jerk who’s putting his foot on your noggin and pushing down as the waves come up… so in order to Murphy Proof your food storage, remind yourself, eat what you store, store what you eat.

Case in point – For some people, you don’t have to have TSHTF in order to be in a survival situation.  A loss of job, income, insurance, some kind of hardship… it can really put things into perspective.  Suddenly having to worry about having enough money when that was never a concern before, or having a very tight but do-able budget and something happens and you have to make up the difference somewhere…

I used to be a foster parent with my lovely wife.  One of the things we’d do with our foster kids was everybody would have a night to cook (who was old enough).  The reasoning was simple.  We took in older teens who had NO clue how to cook, clean, do their own laundry and they’d been shuttled from one house to another.  We’d take in the hard cases and “hopefully” give them enough life skills to survive in a year or two when they were out on their own.

Want to know one of the first things I loved to teach them? You guessed it, food. They’d go grocery shopping with me and we’d bypass the frozen foods for the most part.  The prepackaged, ready to cook noms were great in a pinch, but if you were broke or had to find yourself on food stamps for an extended period, cooking from scratch made the most sense.  We’d start with the carbs.  Dried pasta and rice were mainstays.  I could buy 50# bags of rice for $20.  That bag lasted a family of twelve for over a third of a year with what we used it for.  No, not instant rice, but the regular long grain rice you had to boil the crap out of if you didn’t have a rice cooker (which we totally do!).  They’d learn both ways how to cook the rice, pasta, whichever.  The next thing is I loved eating lentils and beans.  The kids thought it was hilarious until they got used to it and the “stomach issues” go away pretty fast. You can do SO much with that stuff.

Chicken? One of the cheapest meats out there.  We’d buy it in bulk.  Leg quarters or whole chickens we’d cut up ourselves and freeze. At Sav-A-Lot or Aldi’s, you can buy bags of frozen veggies for $1.00 a pound per bag.  That’s cheap as all get out.  Now let’s put it all together… for a large family, I’d make maybe 3 cups of dried rice which when fluffed turned into a LOT.  I’d let that go in the rice cooker while I threw the veggies in a big pan with a touch of olive oil.  Next, I’d throw in some rabbit or chicken meat to fry everything up.  Lastly, I’d mix it all up together and season and simmer it together to lock in the flavors.  Sometimes I’d add in 1/2 bottle of $1.00 dressing (girls love ranch for some reason), or use soy sauce and a little extra water.  Season to taste.  Eat it just like it is, or throw it on a flour tortilla.  Add to that? I’d usually add two cups worth of cooked lentils/beans and/or the same amount of corn.  If we’re paying attention to costs… we just fed a large family for about $3.00.  Want to cut that cost down more?  Make your own flour tortillas.  It’s easy as all get out.

So no lie, we are still in contact with a ton of our kids, even though we aren’t fostering anymore.  Some are married and have families of their own now.  Some have done really well, some have had hard times. It was always nice to have that extra food storage I had… because they could come shop in the pantry here and what little money they got from unemployment, SNAP or whatever… they remembered.  They could make it work.  They didn’t have like 3 hot wings, two hot pockets and a lonely piece of fish in their freezer to last them a month.  They were able to put things together and they took what they learned from us and taught me some new tricks to boot! I’ve got one daughter who went into the food industry and became a cook.

I’m reminded of all of this because I saw I was in desperate need of some food rotation and hadn’t cooked like I had done, for a while.  It got me to thinking, and although I do eat what I store and store what I eat, I don’t do it enough.

I need to fix that, and so do you.

November 2017

I know I’m late on this post, I know, I know! This year I’m thankful for all of you.  I’ve done some experimenting this year, from a Mad Max style dystopian to an urban fantasy and a genre-bending prepper romance in One Man’s Opus.  You’ve stuck with me while I’ve done all sorts of things not quite hard core prepping / TSHTF reading related.  I’m getting back into that, but I needed some time away from it a little bit to process ending The World Burns Series.

There is good news… I wrote a new series opener for Permuted Press called “Outside The Fire” that’s going to hit shelves soon.  That one is about an economic collapse.  I’ve got another one that’s about a reluctant prepper who learns survival skills with on an island in Florida that I’m calling Deadman’s Cay. That one’s a survivial/preparedness situation with some sea adventure for flavoring.  I held off on writing it because as I was researching and planning it out, the actual hurricanes came through the gulf, hitting Texas and Florida.  I changed the storyline up and am about halfway done with it.  I’ve also started on a story that’s near and dear to my heart about a prepper who helps his grandpa run his family still to make ends meet.  That one I’m calling “Still Surviving” and should have a lot of books in that series if my planning is correct.

And… because of overwhelming fan requests, there’s going to be a third Opus book.  It might be the last, but who knows… there might be puppies involved!  Happy belated Thanksgiving everybody!