The New Normal?

COVID-19 has disrupted the lives of the human race worldwide. I don’t want to get into the politics of it, but it has shown me how thin the veneer of humanity actually is. As a Post Apoc writer, I know the law of threes. There’s probably one more we should add to that… Three days. That’s how long it takes for the supply chain to be disrupted by panic buying, for store shelves to run out, and not be restocked. Actually, stores were mostly bare within the first day, but the next truck should have been there in three days…

It was, but there was less on it. Toilet paper ran out. Americans were told not to buy n95 or surgical masks because it wouldn’t help. Now we found out that was a convenient lie, because the hospitals, suppliers, distributors, manufacturers and even the government didn’t have enough in the pipeline to keep first responders in action. We literally went one month to them saying “n95 masks won’t be effective to stopping COVID-19,” to a mere couple of months later “A bandanna is better than nothing! You MUST wear a mask.”

Is this the new normal? Are we as a people so used to the lies that are told to keep us calm that we don’t even care anymore?

Ok, that’s enough with my ranting. A lot of events have been cancelled this year because of the virus, and I’m praying the fall events aren’t cancelled. With the fear of infection being part of the “new normal” (even repeating that a few times now makes me want to gag), nothing will be the same. I’ll more than likely to do the St. Pete’s Beach trip to Florida regardless, as well as the Vegas trip.

Now to the good news. I have finally (It’s taken me forever) finished Deadman’s Cay. My brain is fried by the self edits, but now that’s going in the hopper. Next stories to get written are one’s I’ve started at various times. One is a prepping story meets Up In Smoke type of humor. The other one details the lives of a few families as the state and government locks down, and what a power hungry tyrannical governor tries to do.

Of course, this mirrors real life, so I have to be more than a little careful, lest the vice presidential want-to-be isn’t so directly written about. She’s just the inspiration for a fictional villainous charector, who only partially looks and sounds like her.

Hope you all have had a good 2020 so far.


Deadman’s Cay

Here’s an unedited glimpse of a story I’m calling Deadman’s Cay, it’s a mixture of a survival and preparedness storyline mixed with a bit of sea adventures. Hope I don’t disappoint –

My belongings were dumped out of a bag onto the counter. I signed the form and put the Bic lighter and the folding knife in my front pocket, my wallet in my back pocket.

“I had a belt and a multi-tool,” I told the corrections officer.

“That’s all I got,” he told me.

I wanted to give him grief, but I didn’t have it in me. It had been five long months.

“Can you double check? My pants don’t fit me anymore, and I don’t want to be mooning everyone.”

“I told you,” he said in a snide voice, “That’s all I got.”

“Whatever. You know its on that inventory list you just had me sign, right?”

The turnkey spun the clipboard back around and held it up to his face, then held it away, squinting his eyes, “You know what, you’re right. My bad, hold on,” he said and walked back behind the counter, behind the glass partition.

I waited, I was good at that. Waiting.

“Sorry, here you go,” he sad walking out with a clear bag.

“I appreciate it,” I told him tearing the bag open and started threading my belt through the loops on my jeans, then when I was to my right hip, I put the sheath for the Leatherman on the belt and cinched it tight.

“No problem, sorry about the mix-up and the wait,” he told me.

“I’m good at waiting,” I told him and gave him a rare smile.

I had an old girlfriend tell me once that when I smiled, birds fell dead out of the sky and little children ran screaming. Cat ladies had caniptions and I soured milk. This guy just gulped and nodded at the door. I tipped an imaginary hat and walked out, free after five long months.

“You need me to call you a cab? Somebody to pick you up?” The words came out the door before it had swung closed, separating the jail from the oppressive humid Florida air.

“No thanks,” I said, sticking my head back in, “I appreciate it though.”

With that, I started walking. I had nobody down here.

Nobody to call, nobody to pick me up, no family anywhere. I started this journey almost half a year ago, drifting south after my father’s death. I’d had a good job with the railroad, but when my dad got sick, I moved back to Chicago to take care of him and went on FMLA leave.

When he died, I buried him as he wanted, only to find out that he was underwater with his house payments, taxes and had little money in the bank. I did odd jobs in Illinois to square people off as much as I could allow in my conscience, right up until I got my termination notice from the railroad. With that, I began drifting south, feeling alone in the world.

New Release – Dark Secrets

The KGR seems unstoppable. To beat them, Wes fears he may have to become what he hates. An unfeeling man capable of unspeakable things.

Raider, Yaeger and Diesel all try to keep the humans they own and protect safe, but the enemy seems to come in overwhelming numbers and better supplied than the humans left at the homestead. They must keep their people safe, but not everyone they protect are really their friends. Some are working against Westley’s group from within, and the doggos must try to sniff out the traitor.

Betrayal and secrets surround them, even some that explain Wes’s mother leaving him with his grandparents. The homestead must ferret out the traitor and shed light on these dark secrets if they have any hope of still surviving.

You can buy it here:

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.