Youtube for research?

Sometimes, I have to go to Youtube for research purposes.  I’ve been following deermeatfordinner for a while now. None of these guys appear to be in a survival situation, but I often dream about survival scenarios.  It’s a bad habit to get into, but it helps me to sell books… so I dream how much easier life would be if I didn’t have to worry about freezing to death.  Living in Michigan, I often find myself dreaming about living someplace warmer.

Saying that, I first found this youtube channel when trying to learn about crabbing when I was writing Rebel Radio.  I mean, what does a guy who’d barely been near a body of salt water know about crabbing? It was time to research!  I won’t bore you to death on my research methods, but this particular video reminded me of something I read in the Going Home series, by A. American.

There is a lot that this Youtube star does that has given me ideas.  Sometime this fall, maybe even in the winter, I’m going to be writing a survival story that involves a hurricane, martial law, civil unrest and a long, difficult path to survival.  Not that I have ever personally done what I’m about to write about… but I’ve seen it done.  It’s almost like staying at a Holiday Inn, right?


Writers are not in competition with each other!

So… Why so competitive?

Sometimes in my old blog and in this new one, I’m going to talk and write about topics that might be more writer or reader related… and sometimes both at once.  Maybe this is one of those topics… Who knows?!

So on competition- I see this a lot between traditionally published authors (trad pub) and self published authors (indie, small press of 1 etc.) and there is a lot of animosity and overall butt hurt being flung about lately.  I have a secret to share with people… There is no competition, so be kind to each other! Our readers don’t care about author drama, in fact they kinda hate it.  (I think).

No matter how fast I write (and I’m told I can write pretty quickly) it’s never fast enough.  What takes me a month to draft and another 2-3 weeks of running it through my team’s processes takes a reader six to eight hours at tops, to consume it.  They are hungry for more!  Now, there are things writers can do to make publishing go quicker, smoother. Like having a couple of editors ready to do first pass, then someone available for second pass… a proofer on standby and then a cover designer ready to make their magnum opus yours. Beta readers inserted to where you need them in your process… you know what I mean right? This still isn’t fast enough for everybody.

Despite all of that… We can’t clone ourselves (though AI’s are coming close to writing books all on their own).  So why view this as competition? It’s insane.  Find other authors in your genre.  Make contacts, become friends.  If you like their books, share their books.  Sometimes your readers will become their readers.  Sometimes their readers will go.. hm… he writes those kind of books too, let me check them out… and sometimes the community as a whole gains cohesiveness that’s needed… because lets be honest with ourselves here; writing is a lonely and solitary job.  I found this out by mistake, and now my readers are a blend of ones I cultivated and ones that other authors shared my books with and vice a versa.

I’ve heard from my readers that word of mouth is still the best way they hear about new books.  I still think that the mailing list is the most potent tool in an author’s toolkit, but that’s because that’s something the author can control. Remember, this isn’t a competition! It’s supposed to be fun and entertaining!

Getting Away

Once in a while, I have to get away.  No, it isn’t the endless travel or conferences, but to get away from the hustle and bustle.  Modern life is just too darned fast, and sometimes and I feel like I’m stuck in second gear, unable to shift.  When I get like that, it’s often time for me to do something a little different.  Sometimes I change where I write, like going to the coffee shop, the park and when it’s bad enough… I know it’s time to unplug.

This year, we headed up north to the family compound (I call it the bugout), where I parked War Wagon and plugged in and got things set up.  My wife and two spawn of … err… well, mine (Can’t blame the Devil)… Were there, shortly afterwords, only a couple hours behind. Oh boy, was I excited.  I set up the canopy once the inside was set, and then put up my outdoor table and set up the outdoor kitchen.  In a true badassed, unplugged, style of life, I then set up my electronics.  ::snickers:: Yes, I brought up a TV, a game system and on top of a couple different kindle readers, a ton of card and board games.  See, upstate, the weather is quite cooler.  Our average high temp for the day up there was in the 70’s. The day I got back to the Flint area, it was in the high 80’s.

So… Much like I wrote about in One Man’s Opus, I sleep like crap.  I wake up at 4:00 ish and quite often, I’d sneak out of bed and get my laptop out to write.  There were days this varied, depending on when I went to bed, but I’d often just sit in front of the fire, wearing a sweater and sweat pants over my shorts and watch the sun come up as I typed away.  The days it rained, I squeezed into the little fold up table all motorhomes seem to have. (Side note: Don’t they make those tables for big guys?) While I was gone, I got a ton done, yet I avoided burnout.  I hadn’t fully unplugged and gone all Rambo, but I unplugged from the fast pace, the hustle and bustle.  I was surrounded by family and always a phone call away.

I think there was probably a few games of Uno, Phase 10, and War played, and for a while, my kiddos had cousins up to play with too!  Sadly though, it was time to come back.  I always worried that once I came back would I lose the magic? I know that answer is NO! Still, I think it’s part of me that always doubts myself. I needed the break, a true change of scenery. I got it in, and I avoided burnout.  I feel refreshed, in my little shriveled, introverted soul.  This year was a lot of firsts for me, so getting away was what I needed to recharge my batteries.

Soon, I’ll have a modern Western/Romance title coming, I finished an Urban Fantasy story (A prepper mage who can see the future), and am working on a sequel to One Man’s Opus, which might include some of my real life, spring adventures while road tripping across the country… And how I got my very first speeding ticket. Now that I’m recharged, expect a flurry of books!


The Joys of cooking over a fire.

The Joys of cooking over an open fire.

I just got back from a month of camping at my bugout, if you can call roughing it with a motorhome with full hook-ups camping.  We’ve got a power pole on the property and we’re a stone’s throw from the lake.  It’s peaceful, and I can’t even begin to tell you how many nights I would start a fire, sit back and just watch the lake and let the crackling of the fire relax me as I ponder how to next take over the world… er… write more books.

One of the things I do like to do though, is cook over the fire.  Yes, I could have used a charcoal grill, or even my little propane grill… Instead, this is how I prefer to do things.  See… there’s a new little grocery store in the town near the bugout and they get their meat from a local (an hour away) butcher.  The quality is awesome.  I did everything from slow smoking, to charcoal grilling… yet my favorite is still wood fire.

I started with split hardwoods, with some chunks of water soaked apple.  While the main fire was started and I was letting it burn down some, I patted dry my steaks and then liberally rubbed in my own blend of seasonings.  I love Lawry’s Seasoning salt… so that’s part of it, then a blend of garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper and chili powder.  Then I let the steak rest, covered while things burn down.  When the flames aren’t kicking up past my grate, I liberally coat my grate with oil.  I do this, because if I don’t, it’ll rust, just like cast iron and the food will stick to it… so I put the oil on, add the soaked apple wood and wait for it to smoke.

Then it’s time to put the steak on.  Oh man, I throw it right over the hottest part of the fire till the outside is seared, then I flip it.  I know this is kind of redundant because everybody knows how to grill, but this is my story and I’ll tell it like I want to! So I sear both sides, then I slide the grate off the hottest part of the fire and find the coolest portion.  I finish cooking the steak there until its cooked on the outside, pink and moist on the inside.  The seasonings and wood smoke make me wish I didn’t have to come home, where it’s been raining.

Now, this same grate has also done the same job as a grill, in as far as grilling burgers, dogs, warming the buns, making grilled cheese sandwiches… to actually using a cast iron skillet on it, cooking bacon.  Let me tell you… you don’t want to be outside, cooking over a wood fire, sizzling bacon in your under britches.  Gives a flare up new meaning, if you know what I mean.

Cooking over a wood fire takes experimentation.  Raise the cooking height, lower it… move the food around, move the wood around (without coating food in ashes), how much wood to put for where… how much smoke you want… but just like grilling with charcoal, it’s an awesome experience and it’s results are mouth watering.  Getting good at it now will save you trouble and heartache later, should you ever have to know how to do this to survive.