Book Three Is A Wrap


I’m excited to announce that I’ve finished Book Three of The Borrowed World Series.  I hope to have it edited this month and available toward the end of March.

This series is followed by a diverse group and they all enjoy different aspects of the books.  I hope there’s something here that appeals to everyone who liked the last two books.

I don’t want to reveal a lot, but I will say that this book picks up on Gary’s story and Alice’s story, which a lot of you have asked about.  Jim’s family is not left out, though, and there’s plenty of drama still going on in his valley.  There’s also a lot of the gritty, the terrifying, and the slightly disturbing elements that I enjoy writing.

As soon as we have a cover, I’ll share that and the title with you.

Thanks for the emails and the support.

Most of all, thanks for reading.

Chemical Lightsticks

In my book ASHES OF THE UNSPEAKABLE, a lightstick saves the day in a creative manner.  They are useful prepper gear for the Bug Out Bag, the Get Home Bag, or even for your vehicle.

As I write this, I am thinking of a story I heard on the news this morning.  Snow caused a twelve-hour, thirty-five mile long backup on a Kentucky interstate yesterday.  If you’re stuck on the highway for twelve hours, especially with kids, a light in the car can make a lot of difference.  Running the engine for twelve hours eats up a lot of fuel.  Most flashlights aren’t going to run twelve hours, either.  A twelve-hour lightstick in your car kit could be helpful.

Picture the following:

  • You lose your primary flashlight and have no backup
  • the cold weather zaps the batteries in your primary light and you have no backup
  • you need light but you don’t want to destroy your night vision
  • you need to mark a turn in the trail at night for other members of your party
  • you need to mark a distance for tactical purposes
  • the lights go out and you need a safe nightlight for the kids
  • you have a night vision device and need a way to distinguish the good guys from the bad

All of these are scenarios where you can put chemical lightsticks to use. They come in a variety of colors.  You can get white or yellow for providing good, usable light.  You can get red for preserving your night vision.

You can even get infrared IR lightsticks that produce light that is only visible to folks wearing nightvision.   This system is frequently used by military forces to distinguish the good guys from the bad in darkness.  The IR stick produces no visible light, but glows when viewed by a NVD.

Lightsticks are cheap, they don’t take up much room, and they don’t weigh much.  I’d encourage you to get a couple for your various gear bags.  You can buy them on Amazon in bulk to save money and find better variety.

Photo Jan 12, 5 54 36 PM

[amazon asin=B00HZ4DTGQ&template=iframe image][amazon asin=B004NBZLJ2&template=iframe image][amazon asin=B004NBZLJW&template=iframe image][amazon asin=B00HPMYPMU&template=iframe image]

Backpacking Canister Stoves

In my books, my lead character carried a canister stove in his pack.  It’s a stove he’s familiar with through backpacking.  The reason I selected that particular stove is that I am familiar with it through backpacking, too, and it has served me well over the years.  That stove is the MSR Pocket Rocket.  It’s a hugely popular backpacking stove that uses readily-available canisters of a propane/butane mix.  The stove runs $39.95 on Amazon, which is exactly what it cost when I bought mine around 8 years ago.    The stove weighs around 3 ounces and comes in a plastic case.  It doesn’t have an igniter so you have to use a lighter or some spark source to light it.  It boils a liter of water in around 3 1/2 minutes.

Photo Dec 15, 2 56 41 PM

Photo Dec 15, 2 57 38 PM

Three arms fold in to make the stove compact for storage, then fold out to rest a pot on.  I’ve never dumped my dinner yet, but I’ve seen it done so you want to make sure that you have a stable cooking base before you start.  If the wind gives you trouble, making the stove lose heat, you can make a screen out of aluminum foil to shield the flame.

One complaint about the stoves is that they do not function as well in extended sub-freezing conditions.  Notice I say “extended” — I have used mine many times on camping trips with overnight temps in the teens or for making coffee on a snowy hike.  It does work in cold temps, but extended trips in below freezing temps may cause you some issues so be aware of that.  Use of the MSR brand of fuel rather than other brands such as Coleman or Primus is supposed to alleviate this problem somewhat, as MSR has developed a mix that reportedly performs better in those temps.  If you’re likely to be facing those extreme, arctic-type conditions, though, you may want to look at a liquid fuel stove instead of a canister stove.

Photo Dec 15, 2 58 49 PM

What if you don’t want to tie up $40 on a stove that’s going to sit in your BOB and not be used all that often?

One option is a Chinese knock-off canister stove, also available on Amazon.  I’ll include links to both stoves at the end of this article.  My son got me this stove a couple of years ago as a backup.  It cost less than $10.  There are several on Amazon and they’re all in that $15 and under range.  It’s made a little differently, but it includes a piezo igniter which works really well and it’s in the same weight range of around 3 oz.  For the price, it works like a charm.  I’ve included some pics to show the size relative to the MSR, which comes in a red case.

Photo Dec 15, 2 58 15 PM

Photo Dec 15, 2 59 49 PM

You can pick up cans of fuel everywhere from camping stores to Walmart to Dicks Sporting Goods.  Price vary but generally around $5-6 or less.  MRS also has smaller cans available.  The thing I like about those is that I can fit a can of fuel AND a stove inside my cooking pot.  The cooking pot came with a selection of smaller pots, cups, and bowls but in a BOB I leave those out for weight savings and just use the big pot.  The particular pot that’s shows is from a GSI Halulite Dualist cook set.  I’ll also include a link to that if you’re interested in checking it out, although an aluminum Coleman backpacking set will serve the purpose for cheaper.

Photo Dec 15, 3 00 44 PMPhoto Dec 15, 3 01 55 PM

Photo Dec 15, 3 02 37 PMPhoto Dec 15, 3 02 06 PM

If you have any questions, drop me an email.  I don’t claim to be an expert but I do have some experience that I’m willing to share.  Bug Out and Get Home Bags have to be individualized to your own needs, based on where you’re likely to be going, how many days you’ll be on the road, and the conditions you expect to encounter.  The important thing is that if you don’t have one, you start building one.

[amazon asin=B00V2PIWIY&template=iframe image][amazon asin=B000A8C5QE&template=iframe image][amazon asin=B007IJ5AGK&template=iframe image][amazon asin=B0046GWY5S&template=iframe image]


Anker 14 Watt Portable Solar Charger

In my book, the main character uses this same device to repeatedly charge his cellphone while traveling on foot.  How do I know it works?  Because I own one and I’ve tried it out myself.  More variations on this device are becoming available each day and they will only get lighter and more powerful as the technology is improved.

Photo Aug 05, 5 01 45 PM

If I’m in the backcountry, or even if I’m just camping away from a vehicle, this device will charge my cellphone.  It’s not as fast as a wall or car charger, but it works everywhere.  Opened it’s nearly three feet long and around eleven inches wide.  It weighs 27.9 oz so it’s not exactly ultralight, but the ability to communicate is one of your primary safety tools.  The grommet holes allow it to be attached to your backpack with carabiners so you can stow your phone in your pack, run a cord to one the two USB ports on the charger, and you can charge while you’re on the trail.

Photo Aug 05, 5 01 20 PM

Photo Aug 05, 5 02 10 PM


You can read about the  device on Anker’s website.  You can also buy it for around $50 right now on Amazon.  While this device may seem like a luxury, what’s it worth to communicate with your family during a disaster?

[amazon asin=B012YUJJM8&template=iframe image]




After a summer of writing, editing, and the other mechanics of publication, ASHES OF THE UNSPEAKABLE is finally available.  The paperback and ebook came out yesterday on Amazon.  The review process takes a little longer now than it did last time so even though Kevin Pierce and I finalized the audiobook on October 1, it still hasn’t been approve for release.  Hopefully by next week those of you who enjoy audiobooks will be able to start reading it.

I’ve enjoyed hearing from those of you who had to read it the first day it was available, including the friend who stayed up all night after it materialized from pre-order onto her kindle and the other friend who took the day off work yesterday to read it.  So far reaction has been good.  I felt like this was a stronger book than the first and I hope you enjoy it, too.

Will there be a third book in this series?


Updating THE BORROWED WORLD Paperback

On October 9th, I’ll be releasing the sequel to THE BORROWED WORLD.  In preparation for that, we’ve redone the cover of the original book.  The ebook cover has been changed on Amazon already, but the paperback cover is a slightly more complicated process.  The cover has to be reviewed, during which time the book is not available for purchase.  So as of now the paperback version of THE BORROWED WORLD is unavailable while being reviewed.  It bothered me to have two different covers floating around out there so I wanted to get this done before the release date for ASHES OF THE UNSPEAKABLE.

And just an FYI — everything on the ebook is finalized.  The paperback should be finalized this week, so I can request a proof and review that.  Kevin Pierce is plugging away on the audiobook version.  Hopefully, everything will be done around the same time.  I appreciate the comments.  Thanks for reading.



Labor Day Update



It’s Labor Day and I spent some of it revising the manuscript for the second book in THE BORROWED WORLD series.  It was in the editor’s lap for a week before she tossed it back to me.  Now it’s my turn to review her suggestions and toss the draft back at her.  There were no major problems so I think this will be an easy turnaround.  Everything is happening a little ahead of schedule, which is a great thing.  We should be perfectly on track for an October release.

Deranged Doctor Design has worked diligently on the cover and I think we may be ready to reveal the cover and title this week if all goes well.  I’m also working to prepare the book for pre-order.  There’s still a few things that have to be done to get the book out, but all those things are happening and I think you’ll be pleased with the result.

It’s difficult for me to predict the reaction of readers, but my opinion is that this book will be better than the first.  I hope this month moves quickly and that the book is in your hands by this time next month.

Book Two!

I’m getting a lot of questions about the timing of the second book.  I’ve mentioned this on Facebook and Twitter, but can’t remember if it’s easily available in the blog or not.  So here’s the scoop.

The first draft of Book Two is complete and I’m halfway through the second revision of the draft.  The way my process works, I’ll give it a third revision before I pass it to other hands.  All of those revisions will take place this month.  I’m getting tired of referring to is as Book Two.  You may even be tired of hearing it referred to that way.  By the end of this month I will reveal the title.

Editing and cover design will take place in September, as will formatting and proofreading.

Then in October, the ebook will emerge.  Paperback should follow within a week or so.  The audiobook will be just a little behind that, but I plan on using the prolific and hard-working Kevin Pierce for that and I know he’ll have things completed in no time.

If I can get everything completed on schedule I anticipate making the ebook available for pre-order.  By pre-ordering, you can purchase it during the pre-order period and have it delivered to your device immediately as it becomes available.

Thanks for your interest.

Books, Brews, and Boos


The folks at Red Vein Army have invited me to participate in their Books, Brews and Boos event in Richmond, VA, on August 14th at 8 pm.  The event will take place at Strangeways Brewing.  It will be my privilege to add a touch of Post-Apocalyptic flair to their horror event.  There will be seven horror authors, including myself. 

At first, I wasn’t sure if my book fit or not but I have to admit that I have a lot of people telling me that my book either gave them nightmares or at least kept them up at night.  That’s horror of the frightfully realistic kind.  And we all know that sometimes its the human monsters that can be the scariest.

But Richmond…

The city is special to me because that’s where the journey of my characters in THE BORROWED WORLD starts.  Their business trip to Richmond quickly becomes the trip from hell.

Richmond is also special to me because I’m a VCU grad and had some great times there in that city.  I have great memories of living in the Fan district and Oregon Hill.  Hanging at the James River before they cleaned it all up.  Wandering Hollywood Cemetery.  Eating my first Fried Provolone Sandwich at The VIllage Café.  Going to Main Street Thrift.  Seeing GWAR and the Butthole Surfers perform together.  Seeing shows at Rockitz.  Wandering Grace Street when you could see anything in the world there, even things you couldn’t un-see no matter how much you tried.

Anyway, I appreciate their invitation and am looking forward to the event.  If you’re in the neighborhood and it sounds like your cup of tea, stop by to say hello, have a beer, and enjoy what promises to be some entertaining conversation.

If you’re interested, check out their interview with me for the Pretty & Putrid Blog at


Some of my favorite Post-Apocalyptic / Prepper Novels


As a writer of books that some classify as Post-Apocalyptic or Prepper Fiction, I frequently get emails from people saying that they liked my book and want to know if I could recommend any similar books.  Some of those folks, with brains wired like mine, write more urgently saying that they are obsessed with this category of fiction and cannot stop reading it.  They want more.  So I want to share a few of the titles that I’ve really enjoyed in this category.

First, I have loved Post-Apocalyptic fiction since I was a kid and read Steven King’s THE STAND. I still love that story, but it’s not on my list. Though I enjoyed it, it didn’t really contribute any of the kind of information that I hope to absorb when reading better P-A/Prepper books.

Why do I love this category of fiction?

Because I love stories of survival and resourcefulness. I love stories where a person’s ability to improvise, innovate, and adapt helps them survive even in situations that they were not prepared for.
Why should you read PA/Prepper fiction?

Because there are tons of websites, TV Shows, Youtube channels, and forums out there that tell you how to be prepared and how to survive in disaster/emergency/collapse situations. There are also websites out there to that tell you what you should have in your Bug Out Bag or Get Home Bag and what items should be in your EDC (Every Day Carry).

The problem is that all of these instructional websites with their lists and suggestions do not always show you how to apply the survival tools and techniques to real-life situations. It’s not their fault. They are a tremendous resource. There are just too many different scenarios and situations for these informational and educational resources to present them all.

That’s where P-A/Prepper fiction comes in.

It shows you situations and how certain gear and techniques can be used in those particular situations. The value is that if you read enough of this type of fiction, you begin to see patterns in what people carry and certain preparations they make at home. If you see any particular item used in enough books you begin to realize that this may be a valuable item for you to acquire because you’ve seen (through fiction) this item used several different times in several different ways.

This field is growing tremendously and there’s a lot of information out there, some better than others. As a critical thinker it’s up to you to decide what information is helpful to you. Prepper fiction is an area where this can help. Seeing ideas play out in a fictional sense sometimes makes it easier for you to personalize the scenarios and apply them to your life. This process of personalizing and adapting your emergency planning and emergency gear to your own situation is of utmost importance and we’ll talk about that some in another post.

For now, we’ll move on to those books I was talking about. This list is not comprehensive but let’s just consider it my introductory reading list in the topic. I’m sure I’ll have to update it as I find new books that I enjoy.  Here are some of my favorite works of Post-Apocalyptic / Prepper fiction, not in any particular order.

  1. ONE SECOND AFTER by William Forstchen. An EMP-based disaster story, this book taught me a lot about post-collapse social dynamics and how a year without power can decimate a population. On top of that it’s an extremely engaging and well-researched story.
  2. PATRIOTS by James Wesley Rawles. This is a divisive book in some circles. In my opinion, Rawles is not much of a story-teller but he does include a tremendous amount of information in this book, though much of it is on the extreme end of preparation. I sadly cannot recommend any of the follow-up books he wrote. Those were highly anticipated but fall flat.
  3. 299 DAYS by Glen Tate. There are a lot of books in this series and I think I’ve read them all. The first book in particular is extremely informative as a case study of how a man had an epiphany and realized where the country was going. He also understood that he was not at all prepared for that coming collapse. This is the story about how he became prepared. While his story might not be your story, there is still a lot of useful information in this book. If you like the story, this is a series I can recommend you following.
  4. THE JAKARTA PANDEMIC by Steven Konkoly. I love this book. While some books present a scenario that seems so unlikely you have difficulty putting placing yourself there, this was NOT the case with this book. I could imagine myself in this situation with everything unfolding exactly as Steven laid out. It’s an incredibly realistic book. What this book taught me is that you don’t have to be Super-Prepper with an AR on your keychain to survive. Even a few basic preparations will put you ahead of the curve on outlasting a disaster situation.
  5. GOING HOME by Angery American. No, I didn’t misspell his name. That’s how you’ll find the books. This is another series that I highly enjoyed. The characters are believable, the flow of events seems natural, and it’s a logical book. An added plus is that if you like this series there are several more books in it. I’ve read all of them and it is one of my favorites.
  6. LUCIFER’s HAMMER by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. This book came out over thirty years ago, when post-apocalyptic novels were relegated strictly to the science fiction shelves. This is a “comet impact” story and is entertaining, but does not contain the wealth of embedded survival tips that many modern novels do.
  7. ALAS, BABYLON by Pat Frank. This book came out in 1959 so it does not read like modern popular fiction. It’s a novel about a nuclear attack and how a small town in Florida deals with it. Much like William Forstchen, the author of this book sought to influence politics with his work. As with some of the others, this is a good story if you enjoy these novels but does not include much in the way of practical preparations. The psychological impact of disaster on these characters is something that would probably be experienced in a similar manner today. As I dealt with in my novel, one of the toughest hurdles for many people to accept is that a disaster really is unfolding around you. Face it.
  8. THE PERSEID COLLAPSE by Steven Konkoly. Okay, I’ve already mentioned Steven above as the author of THE JAKARTA PANDEMIC, however, a few years after that novel he re-entered the world of those characters. This book launched a new series in that same world. It’s nothing short of fantastic and carries through several different volumes, so if you like it there’s more.

You know, I feel like I’m leaving people out because this is a vibrant category and there are a lot of good folks writing here now. Readers react differently to different writers and different stories. These were all writers who spoke to me and I’d encourage you to give them a try and see if they speak to you, as well.