Author Interview Series: Sharon E. Cathcart

author-head-shotIn my fourth interview in the series I spoke with Sharon E. Cathcart, a former journalist and award winner author of ‘Bayou Fire’. Based in Silicon Valley, California, where Sharon tells me the majority of the land used to be orchards and now there are several streets named after the orchard-men’s daughters, Sharon wrote her first historical paranormal which takes place in both modern-day and 1830s New Orleans.

Thank you for joining me. How did your experience in the newspaper industry set you up for writing fiction?

I was a newspaper editor for a long while and I enjoyed every aspect of it.  However, my favourite part was the story-telling. I enjoy editing, and I loved working on the paper. At the end of the week, I could point to something tangible I’d done.  I also had some interesting experiences during that part of my career, including aerial photography from a helicopter (it did not go well … I shot twelve rolls of film, but I was so motion-sick that I didn’t even get a usable frame by accident).

What’s the key difference you find when writing as a journalist and as a creative exercise?

Journalism is driven by five Ws and an H:  who, what, when, where, why, and how.  It’s laid out in a specific format, with the most important facts in the first paragraph, and subsequent paragraphs with information of dwindling importance.  If you have to edit for space, you start cutting from the bottom.  Creative writing has a lot more opportunities for expression.

Aside from your countless journalist pieces, have you published before?

I’ve been both traditionally and self-published.  Right now, I’m a hybrid of the two. 

What can you tell us of your experience in both routes?

I’ve been fortunate to work with really great traditional publishers. I would say that the challenge in both cases was managing publicity for my own work.  We’re socialised not to be boastful, you know?  So, sometimes it feels awkward to promote myself. Honestly, I like self-publishing because I can control the cover art, interior appearance, etc., and make sure everything is to my satisfaction.

With you latest book, ‘Bayou Fire,’ why did you set part of the book in 1830’s New Orleans?

15385513_10210781261823574_7706962817058077009_o (1)1830s New Orleans is an interesting place.  Despite being a slave state, there is a thriving culture of free people of colour … and we see some of that in the book.  The “main event,” so to speak, is an actual incident from 1834, in which the home of one of the most prominent women in the city caught fire and her slaves were brought out in horrible condition. There were laws requiring slaves to be treated a particular way … and she hadn’t.  So, we see the Creole culture, and we also see social mores of the time. 

And the story in a nutshell…

Experienced travel writer Diana Corbett visits New Orleans and finds that long-gone recurring dreams of smoke and fire have returned. When she meets a handsome Cajun, Amos Boudreaux, the sparks fly in more ways than one … and he seems to be the key to those dreams.

Having said we humans find it difficult to boast, now’s your chance to us all about the awards and nominations. This needs to be shouted from the rooftops!

‘Bayou Fire’ received the Crowned Heart Award from InD’Tale Magazine, was the silver medalist in the AuthorsDB cover contest, received a UK Chill With a Book Readers’ Award, and was a nominee in the paranormal:short (meaning less than 80K words) category of the 2018 RONE Awards.

Here’s a particular nice review from Discovering Diamonds: 

https://discoveringdiamonds.blogspot.com/2018/07/a-discovering-diamonds-review-of-bayou.html

What were your biggest challenges when writing ‘Bayou Fire’?

13173440_10208803763667356_4488986062996594325_o I kept wanting to go down the research rabbit hole; as a former journalist, that’s fun for me.  I had to draw a line in the sand and say ‘Finish the damn book,’ and as the same time I didn’t want the book to sound like it was written by the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce.  I love that city, so I had to avoid making it sound like a travelogue.

Do you do any other writing, other than novels?

I blog, and I review books. It’s at http://sharonecathcart.wordpress.com. I have standing weekly features (Music Monday, Weekend Reads (on Fridays, which is where I share my book reviews) and Sample Saturday, where I do a little promotion. In between, you’ll see articles of interest, information about upcoming appearances, and whatever else strikes me.

Thank you Sharon, it’s been great to find out all about you and you work. It just leaves me to wish you good luck with your book, ‘Bayou Fire,’ which is available to buy from amazon now.

If you enjoyed this interview then why not follow my blog and I’ll be posting more interviews soon. If you’re an author, or you’ve just got an interesting story to tell and you’d like to be interviewed, just drop me a line on contact@gjstevens.com

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Author Interview Series: G. P. Avants

451Today we’re talking to Gary Avants, a teacher and a big Sci-Fi fan who writes time travelling science fiction under the pen name G. P. Avants.

Born and raised in Southern California, he started his working life creating inspirational commercials. After a few years he became a teacher and hasn’t looked back for the last twenty five years.

Firstly, I’d like to thank you for joining me for this conversation.

You’re the third author and teacher I’ve interviewed. Why do you think there seems to be a link between the two?

Being a teacher I have found that people’s lives ignite your story ideas. I have to learn so many student’s names over the course of a school year. I often take mental notes of some of the creative names I hear and the often interesting spelling of ordinary ones.

I work in a course that encourages students to tell their life stories and develop ideas for communicating their future careers. In the process of this comes reading about all the things and people that inspire them. As teachers we try to open up a rich world of hopes, doubts, dreams, and challenges for our students. In the process how can that not influence us a writers? 

Tell me a bit about your writing process.

I like to plan things out with a basic outline, that gives the creative craziness room to work. I’m an organised pantser, if there’s such a think. I believe that if you give your creativity organisation you become efficient. Being organised keeps you from going through lag times when you don’t want to write, and the creative part flows into the dull boring parts so it’s more fun, in theory. 

My writing routine usually involves early mornings before the everyone gets up. I also allocate an hour after school and a couple hours on the weekend. I have an office at home where I do most of my writing, but I also write on car rides, coffee shops, or wherever I can find a place to sit.

Technology these days makes this all possible, but I always joked that I should have been born in Medieval times because I am a poetic knight at heart. However, my handwriting is hard to read (my brain thinks faster then my hand can write). So being able to type, save, send ideas, and save them with technology has been a blessing.

The biggest writing challenge for me is time. I am not your typical introversive writer. I am very extrovert and love being with people. I feel guilty writing because I feel like I am neglecting people, yet on the other hand could write all day if I had the chance. So getting the balance between the two is an ongoing challenge.    

What’s your favourite part of the writing process?

The creative flow of writing is the favourite part of the process. I love to catch ideas from all the sources around me (visual, music, dialog, etc) and turn them into stories, poems, pros, etc.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

My advice for new writers are to get their ideas out of your head they anyway you can. Read! That alone gives you all the aspects of writing and the processes that go into it. Then, find your own style and develop your own ideas. I like to rotate between fiction and non-fiction selections to give both sides of the brain some stimulation. 

So tell me about you novel, Chronolocity: Vol I A Fistful of Chronotons.

It is a sci-fi / historical fiction that puts the fate of history in the hands of an uncertain twelve-year-old inventor Levy Roarke. He is unwittingly draw into a temporal war and has to decide which group of time travellers is seeking the best possible course for the future of mankind. This possible reboot of history is forcing everyone who inhabits our timeline to become a manager of the time they have. The choices Levy makes as he cautiously  interacts with key people from history (in their impressionable childhood forms) can have widespread ramifications. As Levy comes to discover, no matter how this story turns out, no one will ever look at history the same. 

When is it released?

Chronolocity is available online at my site on www.chronolocityhq.com and on Amazon in a few weeks. I hope to find those who love the see a new original sci-fi series arise. With so many recycled stories or remakes, isn’t it time to see stories for fans from fans? Help us make history by being reading the book, follow us on WordPress, and support others through our podcast on Podbean. You can also contact us at forbearproductions@gmail.com. With so much negativity in fandom lately, we want to connect with those who want to just enjoy their favourite fandom and keep positively good stuff coming. We will soon be launching #freefandomforever and would love to have you be a part of this fandom movement.

Thank you Gary. It just leaves me to wish you good luck with your book and your many other enterprises.

If you enjoyed this interview then why not follow my blog. I’ll be posting more interviews soon. If you’re an author, or you’ve just got an interesting story to tell and you’d like to be interviewed, just drop me a line on contact@gjstevens.com

Chronolocity Front Book Cover d-1

Author Interview Series: William Ablan

In the second of my author interview series I’m talking with William Ablan. Raised a cowboy in Southern Colorado, William dreamed of doing more with his life and spent the next twenty eight years a policeman, both with his local police department and in the military. William now uses his experience not only in writing autobiographical fiction and how-to blogs, but also to help those less fortunate than himself.

Firstly William, thank you for agreeing to this interview.

As a Brit, I was excited when I saw you were raised a cowboy. Was it really as interesting as the Westerns make out?

It had its moments. I learned to ride, rope, fix fences, move cattle, doctor on them. I was running the ranch by the time I was 13 years old, but the Ranch was never big enough to support us all. Since I was busy adventuring around the world, I let my brother have it. I do miss it and I hadn’t ridden a horse for years until a few months ago. My dream is to buy a few thousand acres in Wyoming or Montana, raise cattle, build a nice ranch house, and go out with my boots on.

I love the rodeo where I live now in Greeley, Colorado. It’s a yearly thing, with parades, the rodeo of course, and a concert every night.  We’ve had some big names come through on our stage.  The one downside of the community is the occasional odour that drifts in from the stockyards east of town. I tell people it’s the smell of money, and the reason it smells so bad is it isn’t my money.

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So how did you become a police officer?

My people weren’t the kind to want to go out in the world. At an early age I developed a love for the stars, technology, and writing. Something in me just kept says that my dreams were important. I took my degree in my passion for astronomy, but at twenty one I needed a job, and applied to my local Police Department. I tested, did everything for the job, and figured I’d be the last person they ever wanted as a cop (I’ve never thought of myself as a tough guy). Next thing I knew, I’m wearing the uniform, a badge on my chest, and pistol on my hip. It was the beginning of an extraordinary experience. I spent twenty years in it. I’ve been a working detective, worked undercover, and VIP security. I also spent eight years in the US Army with the Military Police and partied in Panama with Manuel and his Merry Men, as well as the Gulf with Saddam and his boys.

After working 28 years as a civilian and military police officer, what was it like transitioning to civilian life? Did you miss the thrill?

I knew it was time to start doing other things and find out what else I could do. So I did emergency management and I got into computers doing that, and before too long had my own company. As to missing it, well, one reason I don’t take the police or sheriff’s officers up on their offers to ride along is I know I’d miss it.  I loved detective work, and I’d miss the thrill of the hunt.

When you’re not working or writing you do a lot of work with hard luck cases through your church. You must get a lot of satisfaction in helping people?

Yes. I give them someone to talk to. I’m the someone who’ll listen. I work with the homeless, veterans with PTSD and gang members to name a few.  The vets respond because I let them talk to someone who not only survived it, but has managed to thrive in spite of PTSD. Gang members can be very interesting, and once you strip the BS away, you discover a lot of them are very alone. In a lot of cases, there isn’t a strong male figure in their home, whether dad is absent and mom is desperately trying to keep the lights on by working two or three jobs.

I tap into their dreams, and encourage them to make them happen. In a lot of cases, trust is a hard thing to come by. They don’t trust a lot of folks outside their little circle, and then they only trust those to a point. There’s a lot of fear of leaving the familiar behind, and some just can’t do that. But when they decide to give the dreams a shot, and put their whole heart and soul into it, amazing things happen. One became an EMT. Another a Police Officer. Others have opened businesses. I tell them this is what God expects out of a man (and I explain it to them). It’s a big yard stick, but when they dare to stand up against it, they change themselves.

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So when you’re not doing all these wonderful things, you write. You’ve written and self-published ‘The Lawman – The Cross and the Badge’.

Yes, the book is autobiographical fiction / Police Mysteries & Adventure. A lot of what happens in it, happened. I based the characters on real people, and in locations that are real. They’re all incidents and cases I was involved in. For years I’ve told my stories to people. They’ve always said, ‘You should write a book.’ My answer was always, ‘Forrest Gump has already been written!’ For years I avoided putting them down on paper because some it is just plain painful. But then I started writing them down, stuck a different name on the central character, and the next thing I know I had a book about a man, a veteran police officer and soldier, suffering from years of dealing with the heartache and traumas of war and years of police work. He’s having to reconcile that pain, with his new found faith, all while continuing to do a job that could easily overwhelm him.

It sounds like you’ve got a lot of books in you.

Yes, I have another three books I’m already working on. Next on up will be called “The Lawman – Killing a Lion”, hopefully to be released for Christmas this year and it will be the first book in what I’m calling the ‘Family Secrets’ trilogy.  Will Diaz, his family, and friends will be putting it all on the line before it’s all said and done.  Most of it already exists in rough draft, and I hope to have the whole thing wrapped up in a year or two.

Thanks for joining me

Thank you again for taking your time to speak with me. William Alban’s first book, ‘The Lawman – The Cross and the Badge’ is available now to buy from amazon and why not check out his blog here. I wish you the best of success and hope you keep in touch to let us know how you get on with your next novel.

If you enjoyed this interview then why not follow my blog and I’ll be posting more interviews soon. If you have a question you would like to ask William please let me know in the comments and I’ll get them to him.

If you’re an author, or you’ve just got an interesting story to tell and you’d like to be interviewed, just drop me a line on contact@gjstevens.com

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Short Publishing Update: Lift Crisis

Since receiving my manuscript back from the editors I’ve been busy implementing the edits and updates. Other than tweeting here and there and continuing to work on the Author Interviews, that’s all I’ve been doing.

That was until the crisis struck!

On Sunday afternoon in a rare few hours of spare time, our tribe met with the rest the family for a meal to mark the anniversary of a close family member’s passing. It was great to see everyone and the perfect way to make sure the day passed with our loved one in the forefront of our thoughts. It also gave us chance to meet one of the family member’s friends, sorry for being vague, but you don’t need to know the details.

So with the meal finished and standing in the car park waiting for the last of the clan to emerge from the building, the friend approached me and out of the blue said, “So what’s your book about then?”

We hadn’t spoken about me or discussed my writing at any point in the meal, so the question took me by surprise, so much so I clammed up. I couldn’t think. I didn’t know what to say and in the end I just said, “Stuff,” nervously laughing as I fumbled in my wallet to pull out one of the business cards I had printed. I stood there while she turned the card over and read the blurb, all the time thinking what an idiot I must have sounded like. I’m supposed to be this expressive, creative thinker and all I can say is ‘stuff’ when asked a simple question about a project I’ve been working on for over nine months.

She must have taken pity as was still eager for me to email her a copy of the manuscript.

So what’s the moral of the story? Have your elevator pitch polished and ready! Know it off by heart, able to slip from your lips at a moments notice.

Taking my own advice, that’s what I’ve been working on when needing a break to recharge my editing juices.

What is an Elevator Pitch?

The idea of an elevator pitch is a succinct sales pitch for your manuscript which gets the key concept and its unique selling point across in the time it takes for a short elevator ride, or lift for us in the UK.

So I’ve given it a go and here is the end result. Let me know what you think in the comments.

A guy meets the end of the world.

The guy falls for a girl.

The world tries to end it.

If I was actually saying this to someone I guess it should be more like:

So this guy meets the end of the world, then falls for a girl, but the world tries its best to end it.

Let me know your thoughts!

I should reference this great post from Harry Bingham on Jerichowriters.com for his great advice on forming the pitch. 


In The End

What if you woke to find the electricity off, the internet down and the streets deserted? What if you were forced to run for your life, no longer top of the food chain? What if the government had no interest in keeping you alive, but you’d found a reason to struggle on, a new meaning to this life, those around every corner intent on hunting you down?

Could you survive the end of civilisation?

Meet Logan. That’s me. The first to believe the world had changed forever. The first to urge our friends to run. The first to kill, but not the first victim. I was the first to see for myself as nature bent before my eyes. With death surrounding, getting ever closer, they looked to me for answers.

This is my story.

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Author Interview Series: Suzanne Craig-Whytock

In the first of my author interview series, we’re talking to former high school English teacher and department head of British descent, Suzanne Craig-Whytock. She was raised on lively debates around the dinner table in Canada and who includes a love of coaching rugby as one of the highlights of her career.

She shares her time between writing a weekly humour blog which she started as self-therapy to help her get over a difficult time, called mydangblog and writing Young Adult Fiction, the first book of which, called Smile, was released by Bookland Press (www.booklandpress.com) of Ontario in November 2017.

Firstly I’d like to thank Suzanne for joining me for this interview.

So how did you come in to writing?

I’ve been writing since I can remember. My first poem was published in a local newspaper when I was about 8. In Grade 12, we had to write a short story. Mine was a novella, 30 pages long. I still have it, with the teacher’s feedback! I hated high school, but loved university, growing my passion for literature and doing an English Lit degree.

Can you tell me a bit about your writing, how you write?

I write in my office at home and I have to be alone. Even if my husband isn’t making a sound, I need him to be in another room in the house! I use Microsoft Word and Google as my main tools. I general write and edit at the same time, spending lots of time thinking about what I’m going to write and taking notes, so by the time I sit down, everything is pretty well in my head. I edit as I go to ensure plot continuity (The new book is very complicated, so I do a lot of back and forth). You can defiantly describe me as a planner, not a pantser.

Then when it’s ready it’s off to my first readers, my husband and son for content, then my parents, my mom is an excellent proofreader.

Tell me a bit about your blog?

I started it four years ago when I was going through a horrible situation and was extremely depressed. I decided to focus my energy around all the good and funny things that happened every week instead of the negative stuff. It really helped, and even though the situation is long over, I’m still writing it! I post weekly humorous essays which allow me to focus on the weirdly wonderful aspects of my life. Each essay is stand-alone–no chronological knowledge is required.

What have you found to be your biggest challenge in the whole process?

Despite being traditionally published, once it was accepted, it is a major challenge to get it promoted. I’ve being doing a lot of that myself, calling up bookstores and arranging book signings and TV appearances etc. Here’s a link to my local cable appearance!

http://rogerstv.com/show?lid=12&rid=15&sid=7655&gid=288536

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How was it being on the TV?

The TV appearance was quite different. I went to the studio and met the two hosts of the show “What’s Up, Oxford.” I had no idea what they were going to ask me ahead of time. I had been told to provide some questions that they could ask if they wanted to, but the conversation quickly moved from “Tell us a bit about the book” to questions I wasn’t prepared for. Luckily, I was able to think on my feet and not make a complete shambles of it, but at one point they asked me to hold the book up so that people could see the cover, but I had no idea where the camera was. So if you watch the clip, you can see me looking around a little wildly, trying to decide where I should look!

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Read the classics. They’re classics for a reason. Then read 20th century fiction. Read poetry. When you have something you believe is worth publishing, send it out to anyone who accepts unsolicited manuscripts. Don’t be worried if you get rejected once, twice, however many times. There are a lot of publishers who are only looking for a certain thing on a certain day. One day it will be your day. I submitted my first novel to 3 publishers before it got accepted. Don’t worry about finding an agent, a lot of publishers don’t require you to have one. Just get your work out there! A lot of publishing contracts include a right of first refusal on your next book. I’m almost done my second novel, and after submitting some sample chapters, my publisher wants it too, so I’m working really hard to get it finished!

Tell me a bit about your Young Adult Fiction book?

It’s a coming of age story about the protagonist, Cassandra Wilson. Her life has been difficult, spending most of her teenage years taking care of her much younger brother, working to support her widowed mother, coping with high school and its pressures, and still grieving over the death of her beloved father. The smile on her face has become an easy way of disguising her true feelings and the fact that she really isn’t sure who she is anymore. Her life suddenly begins to change when she learns that her mother has been secretly dating a co-worker for months and plans to introduce him to the family. Feeling betrayed, and fearing that her mother’s new boyfriend will try to take the place of her father, Cassandra decides it’s time to start living a little herself. That impulsive decision marks the beginning of a series of suspenseful twists, turns, and revelations involving a strange cast of characters who may just help her find what she’s looking for—a real reason to smile.

A Big Thank You!

A big thank you for Suzanne for taking the time to talk. You can take a look at Suzanne’s Young Adult Fiction book, Smile, on amazon.com and her blog here. We wish you the best of success and hope you keep in touch to let us know how you get on with your next novel in the pipeline!

If you enjoyed this interview then why not follow my blog and I’ll be posting more interviews soon. If you have a question you would like to ask Suzanne please let me know in the comments and I’ll get them to Suzanne.

If you’re an author, or you’ve just got an interesting story to tell and you’d like to be interviewed, just drop me a line on contact@gjstevens.com

Smile Cover High Res.

My Publishing Journey: The Editing Verdict!

I’m embarking into the unknown world of self-publishing my first book, In The End, following the lives of Logan and his group of friends as civilisation falls apart around them. Here I document my honest journey, describing what I find as research and try my hand, steering this way and that I my WordPress friends add their guidance. I’ll repost each time I have any major update or when I learn something new, useful or uncover important information in the hope that those who follow me in their own journey can learn from my experiences.

It’s been a busy few days! If you’re already following along then you’ll see the updates in blue, unless you’re reading this through the WordPress reader.

Expected Publication Date – Autumn / Fall 2018


Step One

Write the book

DONE


Step Two

Build a following. Build a community.IMG_3486

  • Tweeting
    • I’m tweeting very short stories, or paragraphs from the book’s world each day, plus I’m putting out some fun tweets, like excerpts from an upcoming blog post, 101 Survival Uses for Duct Tape. I’m also putting these on Facebook.
  • Get followers:  That’s WordPress followers (around 700 as we go to press) and Facebook followers (76 and count so far) and build excitement about the book’s release. 280 Twitter Followers!
  • Commission a cover: DONE

Step Three

Editing

Originally under my own rules of how I wanted this work to develop, I didn’t want to have any development editing of the work. I planned to just to read and re-read, taking in pointers from my beta readers. However because of these posts and some great advice from commenters who’ve been there, successfully and otherwise, through this movie, I decided to get the manuscript professionally evaluated. It costs a descent amount of money, but I’m invested in this project and I’ll only regret it if I missed some silly mistakes, or a major plot hole which I could have easily fixed. I know those who paid good money would let me and my potential buyers know and it would be too late.

So now it’s off being evaluated and I just have to wait until around mid-August to see how much work I need to put in to get it up to scratch. With my fingers and toes crossed I’ll do what I can in the meantime to support the publishing process without knowing what the final manuscript will look like. It was the right choice, I’m sure of that now.

It’s in! The verdict came back this morning! I have five pages of evaluation to review and I’m very happy with the conclusion. It’s clear there’s work to be done, I’ve pulled out thirty five points which either need clarifying or need me to make a decision, one of which is to stick with a literary fiction feel or fill out the emotions of the protagonist more to give a closer connection to the reader. 

The great news is with the edits, including tweaking characterisations, filling a few small plot holes, clarifying some descriptions, the overall conclusion I get it that the manuscript has worth. With a strong plot (original, well paced, logical, well developed and full of danger and troubles, to use the exact words) and a narrative style which has great artistry and variation. I’ve got a good few weeks of work making these changes, but I’m happy to say this is one of the highs of this whole process and I’m walking on air this morning!

A big thank you to all those comments who helped me to choose this route!


Step Four

The Publishing Process

This section is all about figuring out where the hell and how the hell I’m going to get the work published. I’ve already decided I’ll self-publish. I decided long ago I won’t be even trying to go the traditional route with its long lead times and giving away control even if the lottery of a process ends with me as the winner.

After all my research the are the key decisions to make:

  • Publishing format: Paperback or E-book – I decided both. I want to hold it in my hands, even if I’m the only one who ever does!
  • Outlets:
    • Amazon – CreateSpace or KDP
      • CreateSpace is the original service from Amazon for generating E-books and print on demand paperbacks. It is somewhat a legacy service and will be fully replaced by KDP.
      • Kindle Direct Publishing – KDP – This is the latest Amazon service for E-book and print-on-demand publishing. It has many advantages for those authors in the UK who wish to get low cost proof paperbacks because they ship from the UK, whereas CreateSpace ship from the US. CreateSpace still has more features, but even since I’ve been writing these posts more and more of the CreateSpace features are being added to KDP. I’ve chosen to use KDP.
    • Other Outlets – There are tens of other outlets for print-on-demand and E-books and there is a handy service called SmashWords which will allow you to publish your E-book to pretty much all of them by preparing your manuscript once on their platform.
    • Kindle Select / Kindle Unlimited – When deciding which avenue to take, it is important to decide if you are going to enrol in Kindle Select in order to make your E-book available to the Kindle Unlimited Audience. Kindle Unlimited is Amazon’s lending library where users pay a subscription and can read as many books as they want. The author gets paid a fee per page. The amount per page is dependant on the value of the Kindle Select Global Fund. The catch is, and there’s always a catch, in joining Kindle Select you are providing the E-book for sale only in Amazon’s outlets. This only effects the E-books, but you can’t even offer it for free or otherwise on your own website. You sign up for limited periods and you can always withdraw from the programme. Following comments from other authors I know people often make money on the Kindle Unlimited programme, despite not selling many books.
    • For June 2018, Amazon paid $0.00454 per page read by a Kindle Unlimited user. To put this in context, that’s $1.30 / £1 per book read. Based on the pricing of the paperbacks, they’re about the same.
  • Book title: Does it fit the content? Does it provoke a reaction in the potential buyers mind?
  • Strap line: Same for the above.
  • Blurb: The few paragraphs which site on the back cover of the book and act as your description on the e-retailer’s shelves. This was a daunting task!! Amazon recommend around 150 words which are easy to scan. You can find what I can up with at the bottom of this post.
  • Keywords & Categories: Come up with Keywords and Categories so people can find it when it’s sitting on the virtual shelves. Choose the category first as you don’t want to repeat the words in your categories.
    • Categories – Research other books of the same genre. You can only pick two.
      • I’ve looked at a few books I think my work is most like and you can see how well they are ranked against each category. I was surprised at what I found!
      • It’s going to be difficult to make a choice. A lot of the popular books with Zombie’s or any of the other paranormal type creatures are sitting where you would expect.
      • I’m leaning towards:
        • Fiction > Science Fiction > Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic
        • Fiction > Thrillers > Supernatural
    • Keywords – Amazon is basically a search engine after all. The more I research about keywords the more I can see how much of a tricky decision it is. You want to make your book stand out from the crowd, unique even, but still you want to appear in popular searches and high up the ranking. My first thoughts were Zombie, Apocalypse, Survival, End of the World and Dystopian, but rather than keywords, I should be looking at phrases. There are loads of tools out there, at a cost, which will help you select your keywords. The keywords should be based on:
      • What people actually type when they’re looking for books
        • Test your keyword ideas and see what Amazon search auto completes and combines with other words. Do the same in google.
        • Here’s what I got:
          • Zom = Zombie Apocalypse / Zombie Science Fiction / Zombie Fiction / Zombie Survival Guide
          • Surv – How to survive the end of the world / survivors
          • Apoca – Post Apocalyptic Fiction / Apocalypse Culture / Apocalyptic Fiction
          • These are pretty crowded spaces. More research to be done here.
      • What they will be will to pay money for
      • Where the returned list is not too crowded, i.e. you’ll appear at the top.
  • Dedication: Who the book is for. Another tricky decision. I wrote this for Sarah so that’s who I should put here right? I need to include my wife, a no brainer. A double dedication will sort this out, but then I can’t leave my Mum out? I managed to get this done and I’m really happy with the result, but you’ll have to wait for release to see what I’ve written!
  • Acknowledgements: Who helped me along the way? I have to make sure I mention those who gave their input, and maybe a few of those who didn’t! I’m happy with what I’ve come up with.
  • Disclaimer: Normally inside the first page is a disclaimer identifying the manuscript as fiction. It’s not in the Amazon template and I only thought of this out of chance. I’ve tried to see what the law is around this but I haven’t come up with any solid basis. However as most of the books I’ve read have this in, and I’ve scanned the numerous books on my shelves and all have some version so I think I would be foolish not to include it. Here’s the wording I’ve plagiarised.
    • This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
  • Credits: Another area I originally missed out. I plan to credit James for the cover work so I want to do this properly, so the following will be added to the inside first page along with the disclaimer. It also brings out an interesting aspect. I commissioned and paid for the cover, but unless we agree specifically and in writing, James retains the copyright to the work. I’m not a lawyer, this is based on research conducted in the UK. This means that although James retains the copyright to the image, there is an implied licence for me to use it for the cover of my book. If I chose to use it elsewhere and in a different form I would need to ask his permission. I have no issues with this and will not seek the copyright from him. I wrote to James and received written confirmation of my licence to use the image for book cover and any marketing I see fit, plus confirming he can use the image but not for the same uses as he has licensed the work to me for.
  • Copyright Notice: Then of course, I need to credit myself and let everyone know I’m asserting my rights!
    • Copyright © GJ Stevens 2018
    • The moral right of GJ Stevens to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act 1998.
    • All rights reserved.
    • Copyright under the Berne Convention
  • ISBN: You can either pay hundreds for an ISBN range (you can’t buy just one) and use it across all outlets, or use the free ones from each outlet but they’ll be different. I chose to use the ones from the provider, in my case Amazon. How exciting!
  • Rear Pages Content: Figure out what i’m going to put in the back end of the book. Options include:
    • A call to action for Season Two – It’s in.
    • Short Biography – I don’t think anyone will be interested so I’m leaving this out.
    • A link to my WordPress pages / Facebook – It’s in.
  • Back page cover image: Until I started going through the dry run of the KDP publishing process I hadn’t thought of a back cover, but it turns out you need to supply the entire sleeve, including the spine, as one image, in a PDF document. Seems obvious now, but it wasn’t something I thought about. KDP provides the exact measurements for the trim size I’ve chosen so I had to send it back to my artist friend to work it up. A tip of his was to print out the finished product and wrap it around of book of similar trim size to get a better feel for how it will look. Wow I’m pleased with what he’s done!
  • Price on Back Cover: All books you buy on the shelves in a physical store have a price on the back cover, but generally it bears no relation to the price you pay at the checkout. I hadn’t included one yet, mainly because I don’t see it ever selling a physical store. However, if I do plan to sell any physical copies it makes sense to have the price on the back, rather than make it up on the spot!Book-Cover-final-4_pdf__1_page_
  • Style Guidelines: Some outlets, like SmashWords, provide style guides which you need to stick to. This includes how to space the text, which characters to use for speech etc.
  • Look and Feel of the Text: Research and make all those little decisions about how the book will look, like chapters, fonts, size etc.
  • Trim: How big is the paperback going to be. The advice seems to be to stick closely to industry norms if you ever want to see your book on a bookstore shelf, albeit your local friendly store. I chose 5×8 inches.

For the KDP process, download the MS Word template from KDP and copy and past the work in. You’ll need to format the text in you font and size, add in chapter numbers, choose justification and page numbers. With mine it mostly went okay and is great to see the work in a format which is recognisable as a real book! Little things were a pain and needed quite a bit of research to get right, like page numbering and getting the page numbering to start from 1 on the first chapter. But it’s done now.

  • Pricing:
    • With the cover uploaded and the proof approved (you can either check it online or download the proof to look at offline), I haven’t properly checked it yet as this is just a dry run, Amazon tells me the cost of printing each copy will be £3.58 on amazon.co.uk and $4.31 on amazon.com.
    • This cost is effected by the paper choice, the number of pages (determined again by font and font size and spacing used etc), colour choice, if any etc. The printing cost is then used to determine the minimum sales price.
    • The minimum list price for this book is £5.97, this is based on a royalty of 60% of the difference between the minimum list price and the cost of printing. If you set your sale price here you won’t earn any royalties.
    • This part is a bit confusing, but the tool guides you through. In order to get a royalty of £1 per book I would need to have a list price of £7.64. This also factors in any VAT or sales tax which Amazon handles for you.
    • My figures show in GBP because I chose the UK as my primary territory, but it also shows the prices for other territories too, in their own currency. You can independently alter each territory’s pricing.
    • I’ve chosen £8.99 to go on the back of the book, so I can vary my pricing online between £8.99 and £5.97, should I choose. At £8.99, the royalty would be £1.82 per book.
    • Author Copies – I just found you can order author copies, costing you only the printing cost. I previously thought about setting the price to the minimum and buying that way, but it looks like that’s not necessary.
  • Author Copy Proofs:
    • Now here is where you can order Author Copy proofs and where you’ll find the dreaded publish button!! We won’t be doing the latter yet. You can order up to 5 proof copies at a time and they charge you only the printing cost!
    • I’ve submitted a proof request, the proof will be minus your ISBN and have a watermarked front cover. Within four hours I had an email with a link to add the book to my Amazon basket, then I just checked out, paying £7 of P&P on top. Shame it won’t let me use my Prime Membership to get it free. Although it’s likely the text inside will change following the edit, I’ve ordered one anyway so I can check all the other aspects. I can make as many changes as I want later on and before I press the publish button! Another exciting time!
    • Note if you’re outside of the US and using CreateSpace instead of KDP, your proof copies will be charged for international shipping and you’ll have to wait a whole lot longer.
    • Got the proof copy through and it looks amazing and already there are things I want to change.
      • Finish – I went for a matte finish and it feels slightly velvet to the touch, I’ll have to look at the options again. The gloss finish doesn’t alter the price so for the next proof run I’ll try it.
      • Cover – The cover needs some adjusting. Part of my name is darker than I like so that needs to change.
      • Blank Pages – I haven’t left the right blank pages between the sections
      • Spacing – Some spacing breaks need to be changed
      • Chapter Number – I’ve justified all the chapter numbers to the left, which looks great on the left hand side but not on the right. They almost seem to be swallowed in the spine. Will have to review and perhaps centre them all.
      • Page Numbers – The page numbers are bold, which looked fine on paper but stand out far to much when in the paperback. Plus I noticed the page numbering continued to the back call to action page. Inserted a new section break, unchecked the ‘Link to previous sections’ on both the odd and even pages numbers, then deleted them.
      • Straight Quotes – In the copy process from Scrivener, all the quotes have been converted to straight quotes and the jar my vision on the printed page. I need to figure out how to update these automatically to Smart Quotes without having to do it manually. It turned out to be easier than I thought. All I needed to do was make sure the option Tools>AutoCorrect, “Straight Quotes” with “Smart Quotes” was selected, then find and replace all, double quote for double quote and the straight quotes were replaced with smart quotes. Phew!
  • With all the changes made, that’s the second proof ordered so I can make sure the changes I’ve made work well in print.

Step Five

Marketing

Continue to build the community and market the book, it doesn’t matter that it’s not ready to publish or doesn’t have a publish date yet. So far my marketing strategy consists of:

  • Amazon Product Page: Preparing a Amazon product / home page for the book
    • Write a biography. Keep it short and make it interesting. Also the place to put in contact information like website and Twitter details.
    • Authorcentral.amazon.com is the place to do this.
      • It looks like you have to have released your book in order to start creating the page, but there’s lost of resources available to prepare for that time.
  • Social Media Release Week Event: Contact all my personal and author page Facebook followers, friends not on social media, Twitter followers, WordPress follower and anyone who’ll listen to let them know the book is out and at a release week low, probably about £7, putting a compelling bit of text out there to get them to buy the book and more importantly, write a review. I have had others do this to me, people starting new businesses etc and I’ve been happy to help. If I can get good sales figures in the first week it’ll help get the book into the charts and hopefully build momentum.
  • Blogging: World building and about the process. Plan to refresh and revamp the website to coincide with the release.
  • Blog Tours: Had to look this one up! This one is post release.
  • Guest Blogs: Cultivate relationships with other bloggers and see if you can get guest slots on their blogs. Anyone?
  • Author Interviews: I’m going to be interviewing other writers and authors for more blog material and hopefully pull together some more advice for other people on this journey.
  • Content Marketing: Offering content to other platforms free of charge, with your name and web address at the bottom.
  • Social Media: 
    • Twitter
      • I’ve signed up to Twitter @stevens_gj so I’ll be getting to know how it can work for me over the next few weeks. Currently I’m experimenting with publishing flash fiction, all in the book’s world, plus publicising my blog posts.
      • Hashtags: These are a new world to me. Although I’ve seen them around for many years now I never really got them. Now I do. There’s a post in there somewhere. Here are some of the hashtags I found to be useful
        • #VSS365 – Very Short Stories 365 Days of the year
        • #FlashFic – Flash Fiction
        • #AMWRITING
        • Plus I’ve linked all my tweets related to my book release to #InTheEnd, so when the Hashtag is clicked you get all my posts and some guy tweeting the lyrics to Linkin Park
        • A great tip I read somewhere is always to search using the Hashtag you plan on using first to make sure it’s either not associated with something you don’t wish to be associated with, or the space isn’t already too crowded.
      • Getting Love on Twitter: To show their love for your content, or to further their own marketing ends, people can show their appreciation for your content in three ways.
        • Follow – Much like Facebook, users can follow your tweets. I currently have 126 followers, however as I discuss below, this is a pure vanity metric and a pretty pointless guide to people actually enjoying your content.
        • Like Button – Much like Facebook, users can click a button to tell you they’ve enjoyed your work. I have 75 Likes so far.
        • ReTweeting – Much like Sharing in Facebook, users can ReTweet your work onto their timeline and share the content with their followers. For me this says the most and is the clearest declaration of their enjoyment. I’ve had six ReTweets so far.
        • Referrals – From my WordPress stats I can see so far I have had 4 users from Twitter take the time to click on my site address. I think that’s pretty poor seen as the whole aim is to engage them in the block and stay with me for the journey. I’ve updated my Twitter profile to see if that will help. See below, not it should be clearer what I’m trying to achieve and what I want users to do.
          • I write fiction. I blog fact. I love hearing how people react to my words. Releasing my first work of fiction ‘In The End’ soon. Follow my blog for my story.

      • Getting followers on Twitter: Other than waiting for people who follow your work to find your Twitter handle and follow you, there are other ways to grow your following outside of these organic follows. These include retweeting other people’s work, I’ve been checking out aligned content and done this a few times, following other people and liking other people. So far I am following 731 people and I have 126 followers, so that’s about a 1:6 radio of followers to following. I don’t know if that’s good or bad but it seems to work. It remains to be seen if my likes grow with my following!
      • I’ve just discovered TweetDeck, a different way Twitter provides to managing your Twitter content. It makes life so much easier in filtering the content you’re targeting.
    • I’ve made updates to my blog settings to add sharing buttons for Twitter and Facebook, plus a Twitter feed. I’ve had my first share of my WordPress content on Twitter now!
  • Prepare social media posts
    • Always use images to illustrate the posts for greater engagement
  • Business Cards – See below
  • Blog about it and build a Season One landing page to compel people to click the link to the book’s page on Amazon.
  • Write Season Three and release on WordPress as I did with Season One and Two.
  • Find a way to get people to provide reviews of the published book
    • Bloggers / Reviewers
      • Check out what their requirements are, genre, copies etc
  • Print and send out author copies for review. It would seem a lot of reviewers will only accept paperbacks for review.
  • Write Short Stories
  • Promotions
    • Giveaways
    • $0.99 promotions
      • Promotion advertisers
        • Freebooksy – Promotes free kindle books
    • Paid Ads (Bookbub? / Amazon / kboards? / Online Magazines)
    • Host AMAs (AMAFeed / Reddit)
    • Email for interviewers from book podcasters / book sites / reviewers
    • Promo sites (there’s so many of them)
    • Local newspapers
  • Other sites to look into for marketing
    • Reddit

Other decisions to make:

  • Investigate Goodreads as a promo platform
  • Audiobook version?

Business Cards

I’ve had these low cost business cards printed as simple low volume marketing idea. One side shows the cover of the book and the other side shows the blurb and my site address. I can either hand these out when anyone asks me about my work, or I can strategically leave them in locations where I travel.

I previously had simple cards made up with the web address on one side and the first and last paragraph of the first chapter on. They worked really well and my friends would take great delight in handing them out and placing them in prominent locations on their travels. I think these will work even better and with the cost of internet based print companies I was astounded by the low cost.

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Step Six

Hit the publish button!

I’ll take Season One off WordPress and add in my own advertising to link to the book on Amazon. Lots more to learn here.


Step Seven 

Distribution

Some interesting aspects I’ve found out from commenters, one in particular, which have led to more research and this whole new step in the process:

  • British Library: By law (last updated in 2003) a copy of every new UK publication must be submitted to the British Library within one month of publication. I always wonder what that part in the front of UK books was all about. I’m not sure what the punishment is, but you can read on more using the link below.
  • https://www.bl.uk/aboutus/legaldeposit/printedpubs/depositprintedpubs/deposit.html
  • CIP – The Cataloguing in Publishing Programme: 
    • The CIP Programme serves publishers and libraries: for publishers, the programme is a bridge to the library book buying market; for libraries, it is an alerting service enabling them to identify titles of interest to their user communities. [Taken from the British Library Website] 
    • You’ll often find the following note on the inside cover of a book
      • A CIP record for this title is available form the British Library
    • The CIP record is administrated by BDSLive and on their website you can find out about how to provide the data and then you must include the following statement on the left inside cover (Verso, is the word, apparently)
    • British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
      A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
    • http://www.bl.uk/bibliographic/cip.html
  • Local Library – Gift Copies and occasionally pop in and see if it’s being being read. If people like it they may keep an eye out for your future work.
  • Public Lending Right – Get paid when people borrow your book from the libray –  https://www.bl.uk/plr/about-us#
  • Neilson BookData – Need to look into this.
  • EAN Number – This is mentioned a lot, but I don’t need one.
  • Amazon’s own in house traditional publishing houses. If your work is any good you might just get scouted!
  • Other legal issues

In parallel with all the above I’ll be doing the same for Season Two and writing Season Three. I’ve made a decision not to start working on Season Three until the book is released and I can put all my energy back in to writing again. I’m writing short stories to keep the itchy fiction fingers at bay and as a good promo material.

Want to read Season One before I take it down? Here it is.

In The End is being released as a stand alone book and not as Season One because I think that can put people off, but I might be wrong. So far Season One and Two have been written in the same setting and only link up at the end. With Season Three yet to be written, although the ideas are bubbling up in my mind, I need to make sure I keep each work as a stand alone novel if I’m going to publish book one in this way. More thinking to do and I guess I should start coming up with a title for what I’ve been calling Season Two.

If I’ve made some massive misjudgement, missed out any step or you just have some advice, then please let me know in the comments.

Other resources


The Blurb!

What if you woke to find the electricity off, the internet down and the streets deserted? What if you were forced to run for your life, no longer top of the food chain? What if the government had no interest in keeping you alive, but you’d found a reason to struggle on, a new meaning to this life, those around every corner intent on hunting you down?

Could you survive the end of civilisation?

Meet Logan. That’s me. The first to believe the world had changed forever. The first to urge our friends to run. The first to kill, but not the first victim. I was the first to see for myself as nature bent before my eyes. With death surrounding, getting ever closer, they looked to me for answers.

This is my story.

Writing Journey: How I Edit

Editing. It’s part of the fun right? For some people yes, for others it’s a chore. For me it’s a rollercoaster. Re-reading your first draft to find it’s utter drivel, then moving a word here and there, or deleting and rewriting to make it how you thought it would be, then reading again the next day and glowing with pleasure that you, yes you, crafted such a beautiful sentence.

As you might guess from the title, this post is about editing. I’m talking about what I do as a writer, that still sounds weird to this day, not about shipping it off to some professional. This is what I do to make my work the best it can be before it gets shredded to bits by someone with an advanced English degree who knows a lot more about grammar than I do.

About Me

I like to think I’m a storyteller. I like to think I have great ideas and I put them to the page. I hope that’s where my strength lie. Although I improve all the time, my weaknesses are grammar and typos, but I like to think those are most people’s too. This post is about the process I go through to bolster my weaknesses.

Second Draft

So you’ve written the book, put your ideas on the page, the second draft for me is about refining the story. Taking the sentences and paragraphs I thought were so wonderful as they flowed from my head to the page, finding they need much work, or more words, different words to convey what I was trying to get across. This will probably turn out to be the third, fourth and fifth draft too. I’ll fix grammar and typos along the way, but only if I stumble over them.

Story / Plot / Technical Editing

This stage is about getting your story straight, making sure the plot works, making sure your characters are consistent. I generally have to do this a lot. I re-read and read again, correcting plot holes, writing down date sequences and checked they make sense. I check and cross-check character names and theirs characteristics. So often I describe a character early on in their introduction, then come to refer to them again and I’ve changed the colour of their hair and I have to search through the text to find out what it was meant to be. It would be easier to make notes as I write, but I don’t want to break my flow. This is all straight forward enough and well within my skill set. I’m a techie after all.

The Shrinking Edit

This edit is about reviewing the whole work again. Reading and re-reading every sentence, holding a gun to its head, forcing it to plead for its right to remain and if its voice is not strong enough I blow it away, or shorten, or rewrite.

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Grammatical Edit

With the story straight and the characters glowing, this is where the hard work for me really starts. This is where I try and hunt out the typos, get rid of the lazy words and pop the zit of festering bad language. I have a simple process and it goes like this:

  1. That – Find every instance of ‘That’ and find a way to get rid of it. If I’m not getting rid of nine out of ten instances then I know I’m not trying hard enough!
  2. Adverbs – Hunt out every adverb and do the same. Ever since ready ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King, one of my favourite non-fiction books, I fully embraced his thoughts that adverbs are lazy writing which should only be used sparingly. See what I did there? I listen to a lot of audio books and every time the narrator reads out an adverb it jars in my head and pulls me straight out of the world I was immersed in, often I repeat the word as I’m driving and shake my head at the worst.
  3. Possession – Find ‘s and make sure it’s used the right way.
  4. Apostrophe Use – Find all the apostrophes and make sure they’ve been used in the right way.

During writing of In The End I found ProWritingAid which helps me no end to fly through the above tasks and many more I would have little hope in finding, with great speed, making the task less of a millstone. Below is a list of editing enhancements I only find possible because ProWritingAid.

  • Passive Voice – It took me a long time to understand what this meant, but now I try to avoid in my first drafts
  • Incorrect Word Use – Where the wrong word has been used
  • Possession – Finds where the possessive apostrophe should have been used, but wasn’t.
  • Repetition – Simple typos where I’ve added a word twice
  • Readability
  • Many more

I then copy and paste it into MS Word and run the grammar and spell check. It often finds things, different things that ProWritingAid doesn’t even look at. Just make sure you set the language to your country!

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Put the book down

One of the best pieces of advice in editing I have received is after you have done what you think is the best you can, you put it away in a metaphorical drawer and leave it there. Forget about the work and move on with something else. After a few weeks, at least two, you can pick it up and again and re-read with fresh eyes. If may find you need to start from the beginning of the editing process again if you’re not totally happy with what you see.

First Readers

For me the next stage is the dreaded first read. It’s like sending your child to nursery for the first time. You know they’ll be safe but you don’t know if they’ll have a good time. You wait and wait and gently prod to see if they’ve started reading or when they plan to. Then you wait some more, hoping for that text message commenting on which chapter they’re on or a particularly good (or bad) bit. Then you wait and finally they tell you it’s read. They give a one word appraisal and you question and the feedback comes and for my first reader it’s always, ‘but there’s loads of mistakes in it!’

You question again and it’s typos he’s found and I remind him of the phrase to use.

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The Fix Up

You re-read again with the feedback in mind and make changes or not, it’s always your decision. Then you re-read again, agonising over getting a professional copy-editor to find the bloody typos!

More readers please

By now it’s either in the bin or it’s ready for the next round of testing. You find out those who have enjoyed your work before, who’ve been kind and constructive too and you test to see if they fancy doing it again. You appraise their feedback and repeat the last steps.

Professionals

Now comes the expense. You’ve got a book you’re really happy with. It’s done a few laps around the garden and it’s survived, but now it’s time to make that choice. Do you want to release or are you happy just knowing it’s in the cupboard? If you’re going to release then I take a deep breath, drain the bank balance and send it off for the big test.

I’ll leave it there for now. We’ll talk about the professional editing services in a later post. This is where I’m currently at with In The End, waiting for my feedback from the guy with the English Degrees and a whole lot more experience than me.

If you want to know more about my process, including my story on the route to self-publishing, you can check it out.

If you’ve got any great tips you want to share on how you edit your work, just let me know in the comments.


The Blurb!

What if you woke to find the electricity off, the internet down and the streets deserted? What if you were forced to run for your life, no longer top of the food chain? What if the government had no interest in keeping you alive, but you’d found a reason to struggle on, a new meaning to this life, those around every corner intent on hunting you down?

Could you survive the end of civilisation?

Meet Logan. That’s me. The first to believe the world had changed forever. The first to urge our friends to run. The first to kill, but not the first victim. I was the first to see for myself as nature bent before my eyes. With death surrounding, getting ever closer, they looked to me for answers.

This is my story.

IMG_3486

 

My Publishing Journey: Getting it Out!

I’m embarking into the unknown world of self-publishing my first book, In The End, following the lives of Logan and his group of friends as civilisation falls apart around them. Here I document my honest journey, describing what I find as research and try my hand, steering this way and that I my WordPress friends add their guidance. I’ll repost each time I have any major update or when I learn something new, useful or uncover important information in the hope that those who follow me in their own journey can learn from my experiences.

It’s been a busy week and this sixth update has quite a bit more information in some key areas, including another step, Distribution. If you’re already following along then you’ll see the updates in blue, unless you’re reading this through the WordPress reader.

Expected Publication Date – Autumn / Fall 2018


Step One

Write the book

DONE


Step Two

Build a following. Build a community.IMG_3486

  • Release chapters of the book to the world on WordPress: DONE – A new chapter was released each day. Season Two published in the same way.
  • Blog about the world: Write blogs about all kinds of things to do with the world the book is set in. Our world, but there’s a terrible disease and life has just become a whole lot harder!
  • Write short stories as snapshots inside the world:
  • Blog about the process: That’s what this is all about!
  • Get followers:  That’s WordPress followers (around 680 as we go to press) and Facebook followers (75 and count so far) and build excitement about the book’s release. 126 Twitter Followers!
  • Commission a cover: DONE

Step Three

Editing

Originally under my own rules of how I wanted this work to develop, I didn’t want to have any development editing of the work. I planned to just to read and re-read, taking in pointers from my beta readers. However because of these posts and some great advice from commenters who’ve been there, successfully and otherwise, through this movie, I decided to get the manuscript professionally evaluated. It costs a descent amount of money, but I’m invested in this project and I’ll only regret it if I missed some silly mistakes, or a major plot hole which I could have easily fixed. I know those who paid good money would let me and my potential buyers know and it would be too late.

So now it’s off being evaluated and I just have to wait until around mid-August to see how much work I need to put in to get it up to scratch. With my fingers and toes crossed I’ll do what I can in the meantime to support the publishing process without knowing what the final manuscript will look like. It was the right choice, I’m sure of that now.

Still waiting, trying not to think how long till I get the feedback. Okay, no later than the 15th August he said. How many days, hours, minutes is that?


Step Four

The Publishing Process

This section is all about figuring out where the hell and how the hell I’m going to get the work published. I’ve already decided I’ll self-publish. I decided long ago I won’t be even trying to go the traditional route with its long lead times and giving away control even if the lottery of a process ends with me as the winner.

After all my research the are the key decisions to make:

  • Publishing format: Paperback or E-book – I decided both. I want to hold it in my hands, even if I’m the only one who ever does!
  • Outlets:
    • Amazon – CreateSpace or KDP
      • CreateSpace is the original service from Amazon for generating E-books and print on demand paperbacks. It is somewhat a legacy service and will be fully replaced by KDP.
      • Kindle Direct Publishing – KDP – This is the latest Amazon service for E-book and print-on-demand publishing. It has many advantages for those authors in the UK who wish to get low cost proof paperbacks because they ship from the UK, whereas CreateSpace ship from the US. CreateSpace still has more features, but even since I’ve been writing these posts more and more of the CreateSpace features are being added to KDP. I’ve chosen to use KDP.
    • Other Outlets – There are tens of other outlets for print-on-demand and E-books and there is a handy service called SmashWords which will allow you to publish your E-book to pretty much all of them by preparing your manuscript once on their platform.
    • Kindle Select / Kindle Unlimited – When deciding which avenue to take, it is important to decide if you are going to enrol in Kindle Select in order to make your E-book available to the Kindle Unlimited Audience. Kindle Unlimited is Amazon’s lending library where users pay a subscription and can read as many books as they want. The author gets paid a fee per page. The amount per page is dependant on the value of the Kindle Select Global Fund. The catch is, and there’s always a catch, in joining Kindle Select you are providing the E-book for sale only in Amazon’s outlets. This only effects the E-books, but you can’t even offer it for free or otherwise on your own website. You sign up for limited periods and you can always withdraw from the programme. Following comments from other authors I know people often make money on the Kindle Unlimited programme, despite not selling many books.
    • For June 2018, Amazon paid $0.00454 per page read by a Kindle Unlimited user. To put this in context, that’s $1.30 / £1 per book read. Based on the pricing of the paperbacks, they’re about the same.
  • Book title: Does it fit the content? Does it provoke a reaction in the potential buyers mind?
  • Strap line: Same for the above.
  • Blurb: The few paragraphs which site on the back cover of the book and act as your description on the e-retailer’s shelves. This was a daunting task!! Amazon recommend around 150 words which are easy to scan. You can find what I can up with at the bottom of this post.
  • Keywords & Categories: Come up with Keywords and Categories so people can find it when it’s sitting on the virtual shelves. Choose the category first as you don’t want to repeat the words in your categories.
    • Categories – Research other books of the same genre. You can only pick two.
      • I’ve looked at a few books I think my work is most like and you can see how well they are ranked against each category. I was surprised at what I found!
      • It’s going to be difficult to make a choice. A lot of the popular books with Zombie’s or any of the other paranormal type creatures are sitting where you would expect.
      • I’m leaning towards:
        • Fiction > Science Fiction > Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic
        • Fiction > Thrillers > Supernatural
    • Keywords – Amazon is basically a search engine after all. The more I research about keywords the more I can see how much of a tricky decision it is. You want to make your book stand out from the crowd, unique even, but still you want to appear in popular searches and high up the ranking. My first thoughts were Zombie, Apocalypse, Survival, End of the World and Dystopian, but rather than keywords, I should be looking at phrases. There are loads of tools out there, at a cost, which will help you select your keywords. The keywords should be based on:
      • What people actually type when they’re looking for books
        • Test your keyword ideas and see what Amazon search auto completes and combines with other words. Do the same in google.
        • Here’s what I got:
          • Zom = Zombie Apocalypse / Zombie Science Fiction / Zombie Fiction / Zombie Survival Guide
          • Surv – How to survive the end of the world / survivors
          • Apoca – Post Apocalyptic Fiction / Apocalypse Culture / Apocalyptic Fiction
          • These are pretty crowded spaces. More research to be done here.
      • What they will be will to pay money for
      • Where the returned list is not too crowded, i.e. you’ll appear at the top.
  • Dedication: Who the book is for. Another tricky decision. I wrote this for Sarah so that’s who I should put here right? I need to include my wife, a no brainer. A double dedication will sort this out, but then I can’t leave my Mum out? I managed to get this done and I’m really happy with the result, but you’ll have to wait for release to see what I’ve written!
  • Acknowledgements: Who helped me along the way? I have to make sure I mention those who gave their input, and maybe a few of those who didn’t! I’m happy with what I’ve come up with.
  • Disclaimer: Normally inside the first page is a disclaimer identifying the manuscript as fiction. It’s not in the Amazon template and I only thought of this out of chance. I’ve tried to see what the law is around this but I haven’t come up with any solid basis. However as most of the books I’ve read have this in, and I’ve scanned the numerous books on my shelves and all have some version so I think I would be foolish not to include it. Here’s the wording I’ve plagiarised.
    • This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
  • Credits: Another area I originally missed out. I plan to credit James for the cover work so I want to do this properly, so the following will be added to the inside first page along with the disclaimer. It also brings out an interesting aspect. I commissioned and paid for the cover, but unless we agree specifically and in writing, James retains the copyright to the work. I’m not a lawyer, this is based on research conducted in the UK. This means that although James retains the copyright to the image, there is an implied licence for me to use it for the cover of my book. If I chose to use it elsewhere and in a different form I would need to ask his permission. I have no issues with this and will not seek the copyright from him.
  • Copyright Notice: Then of course, I need to credit myself and let everyone know I’m asserting my rights!
    • Copyright © GJ Stevens 2018
    • The moral right of GJ Stevens to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act 1998.
    • All rights reserved.
    • Copyright under the Berne Convention
  • ISBN: You can either pay hundreds for an ISBN range (you can’t buy just one) and use it across all outlets, or use the free ones from each outlet but they’ll be different. I chose to use the ones from the provider, in my case Amazon. How exciting!
  • Rear Pages Content: Figure out what i’m going to put in the back end of the book. Options include:
    • A call to action for Season Two – It’s in.
    • Short Biography – I don’t think anyone will be interested so I’m leaving this out.
    • A link to my WordPress pages / Facebook – It’s in.
  • Back page cover image: Until I started going through the dry run of the KDP publishing process I hadn’t thought of a back cover, but it turns out you need to supply the entire sleeve, including the spine, as one image, in a PDF document. Seems obvious now, but it wasn’t something I thought about. KDP provides the exact measurements for the trim size I’ve chosen so I had to send it back to my artist friend to work it up. A tip of his was to print out the finished product and wrap it around of book of similar trim size to get a better feel for how it will look. Wow I’m pleased with what he’s done!36425816_1144418829031857_6231572611021668352_n
  • Style Guidelines: Some outlets, like SmashWords, provide style guides which you need to stick to. This includes how to space the text, which characters to use for speech etc.
  • Look and Feel of the Text: Research and make all those little decisions about how the book will look, like chapters, fonts, size etc.
  • Trim: How big is the paperback going to be. The advice seems to be to stick closely to industry norms if you ever want to see your book on a bookstore shelf, albeit your local friendly store. I chose 5×8 inches.

For the KDP process, download the MS Word template from KDP and copy and past the work in. You’ll need to format the text in you font and size, add in chapter numbers, choose justification and page numbers. With mine it mostly went okay and is great to see the work in a format which is recognisable as a real book! Little things were a pain and needed quite a bit of research to get right, like page numbering and getting the page numbering to start from 1 on the first chapter. But it’s done now.

  • Pricing:
    • With the cover uploaded and the proof approved (you can either check it online or download the proof to look at offline), I haven’t properly checked it yet as this is just a dry run, Amazon tells me the cost of printing each copy will be £3.58 on amazon.co.uk and $4.31 on amazon.com.
    • This cost is effected by the paper choice, the number of pages (determined again by font and font size and spacing used etc), colour choice, if any etc. The printing cost is then used to determine the minimum sales price.
    • The minimum list price for this book is £5.97, this is based on a royalty of 60% of the difference between the minimum list price and the cost of printing. If you set your sale price here you won’t earn any royalties.
    • This part is a bit confusing, but the tool guides you through. In order to get a royalty of £1 per book I would need to have a list price of £7.64. This also factors in any VAT or sales tax which Amazon handles for you.
    • My figures show in GBP because I chose the UK as my primary territory, but it also shows the prices for other territories too, in their own currency. You can independently alter each territory’s pricing.
  • Author Copy Proofs:
    • Now here is where you can order Author Copy proofs and where you’ll find the dreaded publish button!! We won’t be doing the latter yet. You can order up to 5 proof copies at a time and they charge you only the printing cost!
    • I’ve submitted a proof request, the proof will be minus your ISBN and have a watermarked front cover. Within four hours I had an email with a link to add the book to my Amazon basket, then I just checked out, paying £7 of P&P on top. Shame it won’t let me use my Prime Membership to get it free. Although it’s likely the text inside will change following the edit, I’ve ordered one anyway so I can check all the other aspects. I can make as many changes as I want later on and before I press the publish button! Another exciting time!
    • Note if you’re outside of the US and using CreateSpace instead of KDP, your proof copies will be charged for international shipping and you’ll have to wait a whole lot longer.
    • Got the proof copy through and it looks amazing and already there are things I want to change.
      • Finish – I went for a matte finish and it feels slightly velvet to the touch, I’ll have to look at the options again. The gloss finish doesn’t alter the price so for the next proof run I’ll try it.
      • Cover – The cover needs some adjusting. Part of my name is darker than I like so that needs to change.
      • Blank Pages – I haven’t left the right blank pages between the sections
      • Spacing – Some spacing breaks need to be changed
      • Chapter Number – I’ve justified all the chapter numbers to the left, which looks great on the left hand side but not on the right. They almost seem to be swallowed in the spine. Will have to review and perhaps centre them all.
      • Page Numbers – The page numbers are bold, which looked fine on paper but stand out far to much when in the paperback.

Step Five

Marketing

Continue to build the community and market the book, it doesn’t matter that it’s not ready to publish or doesn’t have a publish date yet. So far my marketing strategy consists of:

  • Amazon Product Page: Preparing a Amazon product / home page for the book
    • Write a biography. Keep it short and make it interesting. Also the place to put in contact information like website and twitter details.
  • Blogging: World building and about the process
  • Social Media: 
    • Twitter
      • I’ve signed up to Twitter @stevens_gj so I’ll be getting to know how it can work for me over the next few weeks. Currently I’m experimenting with publishing flash fiction, all in the book’s world, plus publicising my blog posts.
      • Hashtags: These are a new world to me. Although I’ve seen them around for many years now I never really got them. Now I do. There’s a post in there somewhere. Here are some of the hashtags I found to be useful
        • #VSS365 – Very Short Stories 365 Days of the year
        • #FlashFic – Flash Fiction
        • #AMWRITING
        • Plus I’ve linked all my tweets related to my book release to #InTheEnd, so when the Hashtag is clicked you get all my posts and some guy tweeting the lyrics to Linkin Park
        • A great tip I read somewhere is always to search using the Hashtag you plan on using first to make sure it’s either not associated with something you don’t wish to be associated with, or the space isn’t already too crowded.
      • Getting Love on Twitter: To show their love for your content, or to further their own marketing ends, people can show their appreciation for your content in three ways.
        • Follow – Much like Facebook, users can follow your tweets. I currently have 126 followers, however as I discuss below, this is a pure vanity metric and a pretty pointless guide to people actually enjoying your content. 
        • Like Button – Much like Facebook, users can click a button to tell you they’ve enjoyed your work. I have 75 Likes so far.
        • ReTweeting – Much like Sharing in Facebook, users can ReTweet your work onto their timeline and share the content with their followers. For me this says the most and is the clearest declaration of their enjoyment. I’ve had six ReTweets so far.
        • Referrals – From my WordPress stats I can see so far I have had 4 users from Twitter take the time to click on my site address. I think that’s pretty poor seen as the whole aim is to engage them in the block and stay with me for the journey. I’ve updated my Twitter profile to see if that will help. See below, not it should be clearer what I’m trying to achieve and what I want users to do.
          • I write fiction. I blog fact. I love hearing how people react to my words. Releasing my first work of fiction ‘In The End’ soon. Follow my blog for my story.

      • Getting followers on Twitter: Other than waiting for people who follow your work to find your Twitter handle and follow you, there are other ways to grow your following outside of these organic follows. These include retweeting other people’s work, I’ve been checking out aligned content and done this a few times, following other people and liking other people. So far I am following 731 people and I have 126 followers, so that’s about a 1:6 radio of followers to following. I don’t know if that’s good or bad but it seems to work. It remains to be seen if my likes grow with my following!
    • I’ve made updates to my blog settings to add sharing buttons for Twitter and Facebook, plus a Twitter feed. I’ve had my first share of my WordPress content on Twitter now!
  • Prepare social media posts
  • Business Cards – See below
  • Blog about it and build a Season One landing page to compel people to click the link to the book’s page on Amazon.
  • Write Season Three and release on WordPress as I did with Season One and Two.
  • Find a way to get people to provide reviews of the published book
    • Bloggers / Reviewers
      • Check out what their requirements are, genre, copies etc
  • Print and send out author copies for review. It would seem a lot of reviewers will only accept paperbacks for review.
  • Write Short Stories
  • Promotions
    • Giveaways
    • $0.99 promotions
      • Promotion advertisers
        • Freebooksy – Promotes free kindle books
    • Paid Ads (Bookbub? / Amazon / kboards? / Online Magazines)
    • Host AMAs (AMAFeed / Reddit)
    • Email for interviewers from book podcasters / book sites / reviewers
    • Promo sites (there’s so many of them)
    • Local newspapers
  • Other sites to look into for marketing
    • Reddit

Other decisions to make:

  • Investigate Goodreads as a promo platform
  • Audiobook version?

Business Cards

I’ve had these low cost business cards printed as simple low volume marketing idea. One side shows the cover of the book and the other side shows the blurb and my site address. I can either hand these out when anyone asks me about my work, or I can strategically leave them in locations where I travel.

I previously had simple cards made up with the web address on one side and the first and last paragraph of the first chapter on. They worked really well and my friends would take great delight in handing them out and placing them in prominent locations on their travels. I think these will work even better and with the cost of internet based print companies I was astounded by the low cost.

IMG_4117


Step Six

Hit the publish button!

I’ll take Season One off WordPress and add in my own advertising to link to the book on Amazon. Lots more to learn here.


Step Seven 

Distribution

Some interesting aspects I’ve found out from commenters, one in particular, which have led to more research and this whole new step in the process: 

  • British Library: By law (last updated in 2003) a copy of every new UK publication must be submitted to the British Library within one month of publication. I always wonder what that part in the front of UK books was all about. I’m not sure what the punishment is, but you can read on more using the link below.
  • https://www.bl.uk/aboutus/legaldeposit/printedpubs/depositprintedpubs/deposit.html
  • CIP – The Cataloguing in Publishing Programme: 
    • The CIP Programme serves publishers and libraries: for publishers, the programme is a bridge to the library book buying market; for libraries, it is an alerting service enabling them to identify titles of interest to their user communities. [Taken from the British Library Website] 
    • You’ll often find the following note on the inside cover of a book
      • A CIP record for this title is available form the British Library
    • The CIP record is administrated by BDSLive and on their website you can find out about how to provide the data and then you must include the following statement on the left inside cover (Verso, is the word, apparently)
    • British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
      A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
    • http://www.bl.uk/bibliographic/cip.html
  • Local Library – Gift Copies and occasionally pop in and see if it’s being being read. If people like it they may keep an eye out for your future work.
  • Public Lending Right – Get paid when people borrow your book from the libray –  https://www.bl.uk/plr/about-us#
  • Neilson BookData – Need to look into this.
  • EAN Number – This is mentioned a lot. I need to find out if I need one.
  • Amazon’s own in house traditional publishing houses. If your work is any good you might just get scouted!
  • Other legal issues

In parallel with all the above I’ll be doing the same for Season Two and writing Season Three. I’ve made a decision not to start working on Season Three until the book is released and I can put all my energy back in to writing again. I’m writing short stories to keep the itchy fiction fingers at bay and as a good promo material.

Want to read Season One before I take it down? Here it is.

In The End is being released as a stand alone book and not as Season One because I think that can put people off, but I might be wrong. So far Season One and Two have been written in the same setting and only link up at the end. With Season Three yet to be written, although the ideas are bubbling up in my mind, I need to make sure I keep each work as a stand alone novel if I’m going to publish book one in this way. More thinking to do and I guess I should start coming up with a title for what I’ve been calling Season Two.

If I’ve made some massive misjudgement, missed out any step or you just have some advice, then please let me know in the comments.


The Blurb!

What if you woke to find the electricity off, the internet down and the streets deserted? What if you were forced to run for your life, no longer top of the food chain? What if the government had no interest in keeping you alive, but you’d found a reason to struggle on, a new meaning to this life, those around every corner intent on hunting you down?

Could you survive the end of civilisation?

Meet Logan. That’s me. The first to believe the world had changed forever. The first to urge our friends to run. The first to kill, but not the first victim. I was the first to see for myself as nature bent before my eyes. With death surrounding, getting ever closer, they looked to me for answers.

This is my story.

I took to the Woods – Very Short

I originally posted this on Twitter and it got a lot of love, so I thought I’d share….

I took to the woods to get away. Walking between the trees because it felt safe, despite each step taken with care, a glance to where my feet might trip, might snap a branch or twig and turn their heads, might force me to run, to find some other place of safety.

Follow me on Twitter if you want to see more. @stevens_gj

Emergency Kit / Bug Out Bag – V2.0

Why keep a bug out bag?

The phone has rung. The emergency message pinged on your mobile. The radio comes alive and the rolling TV news has only one story. It’s happened, come true, the end of civilisation. Natural disaster. World War III. Alien invasion. A fast spreading equine influenza jumping the species boundary, or just a plain old zombie apocalypse. If you’re lucky it’ll be only one. Either way, you’ve got to evacuate.

What’s this post all about?

Since I put together my first bug out bag, detailed in the post where I blagged the first paragraph, which was put together with what I already had lying around the house, I’ve conducted a series of tests and undertaken research to find out if I can make improvements which increase my survivability should the need for the bag arise! Following below are the details of the updated bag and its contents, along with links to the articles showing the research.

I’ve split the contents into different sections to help you follow. Although many items could easily be included in multiple sections, further underlying the quality of their inclusion, I have only included them in the first category in which they appear.

The Bag

The original bag was a 25 litre day sack plucked from the bottom of my wardrobe. It’s seen many a camping trip and canoe down they River Wye, but it was smaller than I needed and was awkward to get to all the contents without spilling everything across the floor. I have now upgraded to a 36 litre Military style MOLLE rucksack in black.

IMG_4935

Wikipedia tells me MOLLE (pronounced Molly) stands for MOdular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. It is a system used for military equipment which uses rows of heavy-duty nylon stitched onto the vest/pack to allow for attachment of various MOLLE-compatible pouches and accessories. These are called PALS (Pouch Attachment Ladder System).

It has two main compartments which fully unzip, allowing access to the bottom of the bag without having to take all of the contents out. In addition it has two outer pockets for those smaller items you might want quick access to.

Waterproof Cover – It didn’t come with a waterproof cover, so a separate cover has been added to the kit list.

 

Cooking & EatingWIKw7A8jTz+paRAlEO4xDg

  • Camping Stove – It’s out with the Trangia and in with the Wolfyok Stove and MSR cooking pot giving me the ability to cook or boil water either with solid fuel or with scavenged wood and twigs. The burner packs away into the MSR cooking pot along with a small pack of alcohol fuel. Click here to view the post where I chose this over the Trangia.
  • Fire Steel – Lightweight and able to use in all weathers for lighting the stove and making a traditional fire too.
  • Matches – A second ignition source just in case!
  • Two Baggies of Cotton Wool – Recently added as fast burning tinder when I found out wood shaving just wouldn’t do the job alone. For more about lighting a fire with this kit click here.
  • Tea Light. For lighting wet wood and to dry the tinder out. The candle is also a great alternative to the alcohol tabs for getting the wood to burn. This was from a suggestion from a fellow blogger.
  • Tin Mug – Clicks to the outside of the bag and it’s very light. Lots more uses than just for drinking.
  • Food – Emergency Rations – 18 bars – 1kg – In their simplest form they are high calorie biscuits which in emergency situations can sustain one person for 72 hours. They have a five year shelf life, but will still keep the calories after. At half a kilo a box, they’re heavy, but worth the weight.
  • Kendal Mint Cake 85g x 8 – High calorie sugary energy. Click here to see how I chose the food.
  • Spork – A spoon, a fork and a knife too. Doesn’t that mean they need to change the name? Either way it’s coming with me.
  • Alcohol – A treat and high in calories. Help keep the cold nights at bay and the moral too!

Light Sources

You’re going to want to see in the dark.

  • Low light torch – With four colours of light to select from, it’s great for keeping yourself concealed and not damaging your sensitive night vision when you use it. Who knows what’s going to be hunting you down at night?
  • Wind up Torch – Works without batteries. Enough said?
  • Head lamp – While the batteries last it’s a great task light. Use it for putting up the tent, then put it away for next time.
  • Glow sticks – An emergency alternative to the torch, won’t give off enough light to work to, but will show you position, if you want to be seen of course!

Water & Hydration

NHS guidelines are for 1.2 litres per day to keep dehydration at bay. You’ll need more if you’re hiking or running all day.bkVJaSteK%DS7stxZmg

  • Bottles of Water – Bring as much as you can carry, but you will need a constant supply.
  • Filtration Straw – If the water is contaminated in a nuclear fallout, there’s not a great deal sterilisation and filtering can do, but in every other circumstance a Filtration Straw will let you filter up to 2,000 litres / 530 gallons direct from the source. It’s a no brainer.
  • Chlorination Tables – Light and easy to use as an alternative to the straw.
  • The cooker could be included here. Boiling collected water is one of the best ways to make sure you’re not going to hurt yourself with what you’re drinking.
  • In this post I discuss how you can make water collected in the wilderness safe to drink.

Sleeping and Shelter

  • Sleeping Bag – It’s small, lightweight and three season. Should deal with most of what the English weather can throw at me as long as I have shelter.
  • Tent – Again, small and portable, weighing just over 2kg / 4.4lbs it gives options for where I can eventually go.
  • Camping Mattress – It may seem trivial, but not when you’re lying on the cold hard ground trying to sleep with one eye open.

Survival

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  • Emergency Kit – Contains 21 different items to help you survive, including a fishing line and hook, tinder and a knife, all wrapped in woven paracord.
  • Paracords – With boundless uses in survival situations and lightweight, it’s a must.
  • Compass – Even without a proper map you can travel in a vague direction and keep yourself on a course. Overlooked first time around, but invaluable, especially if you already have one.
  • Sewing Kit
  • Survival Blankets

Bartering & PaymentsllWWnZBjQvqi2hTk6QOhRg

First Aid KitEfryJkXgRU212NtJTCO1xQ

I went over this in a recent post, click here to see how you can use the kit.

  • Adhesive bandages of various sizes
  • Blister plasters
  • Butterfly bandages – For closing wounds
  • Gauze pads of various sizes or gauze roll
  • Antiseptic creams and ointments
  • Sterile wipes and rinse solutions
  • Pain and anti-inflammatory medicine
  • Tweezers, scissors and safety pins
  • Anti-diarrhoea medicine
  • Antihistamine for allergic reactions
  • Eye drops / wash
  • Tick removal tool
  • Cling film

Health

Items for the promotion of health.RkuLeks4Q6O4qjv1u4UQVw

  • Hand Sanitiser – It won’t last long, but used sparingly it will help stave off stomach bugs, plus it’s flammable.
  • Universal Wipes – Keeps thing clean. Keep yourself safe.
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Vitamins
  • Fold Up Spade – It’s heavy, but has so many uses, including covering up your waste.

Tools4LtwqG0oQT+zujNTS+TyGg

  • Hand Saw
  • Micro PickNot just a tool for digging stuff up.
  • Proper Knife – I’ve ditched the folding fruit knife for something more substantial. Great for carving wood and helping to make a shelter, plus more comforting when I don’t know what I’ll face while I’m out there and the world has gone to the dogs.
  • Pen Knife – So many tools in one handy package. Just don’t lose it or you’ll lose so many tools!
  • Nails – I’ve ditched the hammer, but I’m keeping the nails, giving me options for building shelter.

Other Stuff

  • Wooly hats and gloves
  • Wind up radio – You can get them with solar power too, plus USB charge to give you that first kick start, plus they come with powerful emergency lights. Keep on top of the latest details of the emergency.
  • Passport – You never know. In an emergency I’m sure the rules would be relaxed, but when it all settles down, if it ever does, then it would make resettling so much easier, if there’s anything left. Keep positive. Probably the most important lesson.
  • Clothes – Quick dry trousers, essential in any weather. Layers of technical clothes, the best way to stay warm. Hiking socks are a no brainer for comfort.
  • Spare Glasses
  • Microfibre Towel – Super lightweight
  • Waterproof Notepad and Pencil
  • Gaffer Tape – With thousands of uses in a survival situation, it could fit in any of the above categories.
  • Toilet Roll – A last minute edit as I’d left it off, but when I have to go I’ll be so thankful for the comment!

What’s Next?

So the kit’s good. I know it is, but at 18.2 kg / 40 lbs I think I can do better. In the future I’m going to be looking at the big items, the sleeping bag, the mattress and the tent to see if I can shave off the weight. With less weight I can either stuff more food in if I get a spare moment when the emergency strikes, or it means I can be more mobile, run faster, go for longer if I need to. Keep an eye out for future posts by either following me through WordPress, Twitter or Facebook.

Thanks for taking the time to read and I’d love to hear your comments and any details of what’s in your bag on any of my channels!

In the meantime why don’t you have a look at how I’m getting along in my publishing journey.


In the End

What if you woke to find the electricity off, the internet down and the streets deserted? What if you were forced to run for your life, no longer top of the food chain? What if the government had no interest in keeping you alive, but you’d found a reason to struggle on, a new meaning to this life, those around every corner intent on hunting you down?

Could you survive the end of civilisation?

Meet Logan. That’s me. The first to believe the world had changed forever. The first to urge our friends to run. The first to kill, but not the first victim. I was the first to see for myself as nature bent before my eyes. With death surrounding, getting ever closer, they looked to me for answers.

This is my story.

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My Publishing Journey: A tidy mind!

I’m embarking into the unknown world of self-publishing my first book, In The End, following the lives of Logan and his group of friends as civilisation falls apart around them. Here I document my honest journey, describing what I find as research and try my hand, steering this way and that I my WordPress friends add their guidance. I’ll repost each time I have any major update or when I learn something new, useful or uncover important information in the hope that those who follow me in their own journey can learn from my experiences.

This is the fifth update after a week of activity on the project and I’ve taken the time to tidy up the post, refocus the words as I seen fit, but if you want to follow my journey how I got here then check out my previous update.

For those of you already following these updates, as always, any new content has been added in blue, but you’ll not see that if you’re using the WordPress Reader.

Expected Publication Date – Autumn / Fall 2018


Step One

Write the book

DONE


Step Two

Build a following. Build a community.IMG_3486


Step Three

Editing

Originally under my own rules of how I wanted this work to develop, I didn’t want to have any development editing of the work. I planned to just to read and re-read, taking in pointers from my beta readers. However because of these posts and some great advice from commenters who’ve been there, successfully and otherwise, through this movie, I decided to get the manuscript professionally evaluated. It costs a descent amount of money, but I’m invested in this project and I’ll only regret it if I missed some silly mistakes, or a major plot hole which I could have easily fixed. I know those who paid good money would let me and my potential buyers know and it would be too late.

So now it’s off being evaluated and I just have to wait until around mid-August to see how much work I need to put in to get it up to scratch. With my fingers and toes crossed I’ll do what I can in the meantime to support the publishing process without knowing what the final manuscript will look like. It was the right choice, I’m sure of that now.


Step Four

The Publishing Process

This section is all about figuring out where the hell and how the hell I’m going to get the work published. I’ve already decided I’ll self-publish. I decided long ago I won’t be even trying to go the traditional route with its long lead times and giving away control even if the lottery of a process ends with me as the winner.

After all my research the are the key decisions to make:

  • Publishing format: Paperback or E-book – I decided both. I want to hold it in my hands, even if I’m the only one who ever does!
  • Outlets:
    • Amazon – CreateSpace or KDP
      • CreateSpace is the original service from Amazon for generating E-books and print on demand paperbacks. It is somewhat a legacy service and will be fully replaced by KDP.
      • Kindle Direct Publishing – KDP – This is the latest Amazon service for E-book and print-on-demand publishing. It has many advantages for those authors in the UK who wish to get low cost proof paperbacks because they ship from the UK, whereas CreateSpace ship from the US. CreateSpace still has more features, but even since I’ve been writing these posts more and more of the CreateSpace features are being added to KDP. I’ve chosen to use KDP.
    • Other Outlets – There are tens of other outlets for print-on-demand and E-books and there is a handy service called SmashWords which will allow you to publish your E-book to pretty much all of them by preparing your manuscript once on their platform.
    • Kindle Select / Kindle Unlimited – When deciding which avenue to take, it is important to decide if you are going to enrol in Kindle Select in order to make your E-book available to the Kindle Unlimited Audience. Kindle Unlimited is Amazon’s lending library where users pay a subscription and can read as many books as they want. The author gets paid a fee per page. The amount per page is dependant on the value of the Kindle Select Global Fund. The catch is, and there’s always a catch, in joining Kindle Select you are providing the E-book for sale only in Amazon’s outlets. This only effects the E-books, but you can’t even offer it for free or otherwise on your own website. You sign up for limited periods and you can always withdraw from the programme. Following comments from other authors I know people often make money on the Kindle Unlimited programme, despite not selling many books.
  • Book title: Does it fit the content? Does it provoke a reaction in the potential buyers mind?
  • Strap line: Same for the above.
  • Blurb: The few paragraphs which site on the back cover of the book and act as your description on the e-retailer’s shelves. This was a daunting task!! Amazon recommend around 150 words which are easy to scan. You can find what I can up with at the bottom of this post.
  • Keywords & Categories: Come up with Keywords and Categories so people can find it when it’s sitting on the virtual shelves. Choose the category first as you don’t want to repeat the words in your categories.
    • Categories – Research other books of the same genre. You can only pick two.
      • I’ve looked at a few books I think my work is most like and you can see how well they are ranked against each category. I was surprised at what I found!
      • It’s going to be difficult to make a choice. A lot of the popular books with Zombie’s or any of the other paranormal type creatures are sitting where you would expect.
      • I’m leaning towards:
        • Fiction > Science Fiction > Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic
        • Fiction > Thrillers > Supernatural
    • Keywords – Amazon is basically a search engine after all. The more I research about keywords the more I can see how much of a tricky decision it is. You want to make your book stand out from the crowd, unique even, but still you want to appear in popular searches and high up the ranking. My first thoughts were Zombie, Apocalypse, Survival, End of the World and Dystopian, but rather than keywords, I should be looking at phrases. There are loads of tools out there, at a cost, which will help you select your keywords. The keywords should be based on:
      • What people actually type when they’re looking for books
        • Test your keyword ideas and see what Amazon search auto completes and combines with other words. Do the same in google.
        • Here’s what I got:
          • Zom = Zombie Apocalypse / Zombie Science Fiction / Zombie Fiction / Zombie Survival Guide
          • Surv – How to survive the end of the world / survivors
          • Apoca – Post Apocalyptic Fiction / Apocalypse Culture / Apocalyptic Fiction
          • These are pretty crowded spaces. More research to be done here.
      • What they will be will to pay money for
      • Where the returned list is not too crowded, i.e. you’ll appear at the top.
  • Dedication: Who the book is for. Another tricky decision. I wrote this for Sarah so that’s who I should put here right? I need to include my wife, a no brainer. A double dedication will sort this out, but then I can’t leave my Mum out? I managed to get this done and I’m really happy with the result, but you’ll have to wait for release to see what I’ve written!
  • Acknowledgements: Who helped me along the way? I have to make sure I mention those who gave their input, and maybe a few of those who didn’t! I’m happy with what I’ve come up with.
  • ISBN: You can either pay hundreds for an ISBN range (you can’t buy just one) and use it across all outlets, or use the free ones from each outlet but they’ll be different. I chose to use the ones from the provider, in my case Amazon. How exciting!
  • Rear Pages Content: Figure out what i’m going to put in the back end of the book. Options include:
    • A call to action for Season Two – It’s in.
    • Short Biography – I don’t think anyone will be interested so I’m leaving this out.
    • A link to my WordPress pages / Facebook – It’s in.
  • Back page cover image: Until I started going through the dry run of the KDP publishing process I hadn’t thought of a back cover, but it turns out you need to supply the entire sleeve, including the spine, as one image, in a PDF document. Seems obvious now, but it wasn’t something I thought about. KDP provides the exact measurements for the trim size I’ve chosen so I had to send it back to my artist friend to work it up. A tip of his was to print out the finished product and wrap it around of book of similar trim size to get a better feel for how it will look. Wow I’m pleased with what he’s done!36425816_1144418829031857_6231572611021668352_n
  • Style Guidelines: Some outlets, like SmashWords, provide style guides which you need to stick to. This includes how to space the text, which characters to use for speech etc.
  • Look and Feel of the Text: Research and make all those little decisions about how the book will look, like chapters, fonts, size etc.
  • Trim: How big is the paperback going to be. The advice seems to be to stick closely to industry norms if you ever want to see your book on a bookstore shelf, albeit your local friendly store. I chose 5×8 inches.

For the KDP process, download the MS Word template from KDP and copy and past the work in. You’ll need to format the text in you font and size, add in chapter numbers, choose justification and page numbers. With mine it mostly went okay and is great to see the work in a format which is recognisable as a real book! Little things were a pain and needed quite a bit of research to get right, like page numbering and getting the page numbering to start from 1 on the first chapter. But it’s done now.

  • Pricing:
    • With the cover uploaded and the proof approved (you can either check it online or download the proof to look at offline), I haven’t properly checked it yet as this is just a dry run, Amazon tells me the cost of printing each copy will be £3.58 on amazon.co.uk and $4.31 on amazon.com.
    • This cost is effected by the paper choice, the number of pages (determined again by font and font size and spacing used etc), colour choice, if any etc. The printing cost is then used to determine the minimum sales price.
    • The minimum list price for this book is £5.97, this is based on a royalty of 60% of the difference between the minimum list price and the cost of printing. If you set your sale price here you won’t earn any royalties.
    • This part is a bit confusing, but the tool guides you through. In order to get a royalty of £1 per book I would need to have a list price of £7.64. This also factors in any VAT or sales tax which Amazon handles for you.
    • My figures show in GBP because I chose the UK as my primary territory, but it also shows the prices for other territories too, in their own currency. You can independently alter each territory’s pricing.
  • Author Copy Proofs:
    • Now here is where you can order Author Copy proofs and where you’ll find the dreaded publish button!! We won’t be doing the latter yet. You can order up to 5 proof copies at a time and they charge you only the printing cost!
    • I’ve submitted a proof request, the proof will be minus your ISBN and have a watermarked front cover. Within four hours I had an email with a link to add the book to my Amazon basket, then I just checked out, paying £7 of P&P on top. Shame it won’t let me use my Prime Membership to get it free. Although it’s likely the text inside will change following the edit, I’ve ordered one anyway so I can check all the other aspects. I can make as many changes as I want later on and before I press the publish button! Another exciting time!

Step Five

Marketing

Continue to build the community and market the book, it doesn’t matter that it’s not ready to publish or doesn’t have a publish date yet. So far my marketing strategy consists of:

  • Preparing a Amazon product / home page for the book
    • Write a biography. Keep it short and make it interesting. Also the place to put in contact information like website and twitter details.
  • Blogging (as above) – World building and about the process
  • Investigate other social media outlets
    • I’ve signed up to Twitter @stevens_gj so I’ll be getting to know how it can work for me over the next few weeks. Feel free to follow (you could be my first!), but I’ve not got around to deciding how I will differentiate this from my other social media. For now I’ll experiment with flash fiction.
    • I’ve made updates to my blog settings to add sharing buttons for Twitter and Facebook, plus a Twitter feed.
  • Prepare social media posts
  • Business Cards – See below
  • Blog about it and build a Season One landing page to compel people to click the link to the book’s page on Amazon.
  • Write Season Three and release on WordPress as I did with Season One and Two.
  • Find a way to get people to provide reviews of the published book
    • Bloggers / Reviewers
      • Check out what their requirements are, genre, copies etc
  • Print and send out author copies for review. It would seem a lot of reviewers will only accept paperbacks for review.
  • Write Short Stories
  • Promotions
    • Giveaways
    • $0.99 promotions
      • Promotion advertisers
        • Freebooksy – Promotes free kindle books
    • Paid Ads (Bookbub? / Amazon / kboards? / Online Magazines)
    • Host AMAs (AMAFeed / Reddit)
    • Email for interviewers from book podcasters / book sites / reviewers
    • Promo sites (there’s so many of them)
    • Local newspapers
  • Other sites to look into for marketing
    • Reddit

Other decisions to make:

  • Investigate Goodreads as a promo platform
  • Audiobook version?

Business Cards

I’ve had these low cost business cards printed as simple low volume marketing idea. One side shows the cover of the book and the other side shows the blurb and my site address. I can either hand these out when anyone asks me about my work, or I can strategically leave them in locations where I travel.

I previously had simple cards made up with the web address on one side and the first and last paragraph of the first chapter on. They worked really well and my friends would take great delight in handing them out and placing them in prominent locations on their travels. I think these will work even better and with the cost of internet based print companies I was astounded by the low cost.

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Step Six

Hit the publish button!

I’ll take Season One off WordPress and add in my own advertising to link to the book on Amazon. Lots more to learn here.


In parallel with all the above I’ll be doing the same for Season Two and writing Season Three. I’ve made a decision not to start working on Season Three until the book is released and I can put all my energy back in to writing again. I’m writing short stories to keep the itchy fiction fingers at bay and as a good promo material.

Want to read Season One before I take it down? Here it is.

If I’ve made some massive misjudgement, missed out any step or you just have some advice, then please let me know in the comments.


The Blurb!

What if you woke to find the electricity off, the internet down and the streets deserted? What if you were forced to run for your life, no longer top of the food chain? What if the government had no interest in keeping you alive, but you’d found a reason to struggle on, a new meaning to this life, those around every corner intent on hunting you down?

Could you survive the end of civilisation?

Meet Logan. That’s me. The first to believe the world had changed forever. The first to urge our friends to run. The first to kill, but not the first victim. I was the first to see for myself as nature bent before my eyes. With death surrounding, getting ever closer, they looked to me for answers.

This is my story.

In The End: Unnatural – A Short

He watched their movement without the soundtrack, their eyes closed to the shouted snippets of tunes he all but recognised.  At the edge of the dance floor he stood, a long-drained glass in his hand, the wallet in his pocket almost the same. Still, he had enough to get a headset lit by colour either side, enough to put down to join the masses in the darkness. He chose not to. He chose not to shut out the atmosphere surrounding, chose not to listen only to what came to their ears. He stood at the side-line thinking because thinking was what he did best.

Or so he thought.

He watched something he knew he didn’t want to join in with, left only to wonder why. Instead, without turning his head, he listened to the conversation to his left, to someone else’s friends pouring their hearts out, telling each other why they were the best, why they were the ones who could sort out their problem with a woman called Janice, or Jan, to the chorus of whoops naked of the guiding baseline.

His eyes flicked to the right, to the corner of the room and the fire exit he knew shouldn’t have been letting in the cold dark night unless the bells were ringing. His attention drew back to the conversation, guilt returning as he listened to information they shouldn’t be broadcasting, his breath pausing as he caught a word, isolated, without context. Unnatural.

The conversation drifted out of his mind, a sudden blurted snippet of a song he’d not heard for such a time he’d been thankful, then to someone tall, wide shouldered, un-assailed by alcohol, someone who should have been responsible, someone who should have known better than to push back, to take in what stumbled through the fire door with their mouth dripping dark with liquid, their expression much like those who paid no attention to anything but the music pouring through their ears and to what hung beyond their arms reach.

The glass slipped from his hand but only he heard it shatter at his feet. Only he felt the crunch under his shoe as he took a step, leaning forward, eyes squinting between the bodies swaying their heads from side to side, light shining at their ears. He looked to their dance which was like no other, hands raised, arms grabbing, holding close like a slow romantic song speeding to a rate which made little sense. He watched their bodies twist and turn as they ducked in and out of view, huffed air blocked in and out by a renewed wave of whoops and hollers from the crowd. The joy of those oblivious to the exchange couldn’t mask the scream of a man who hadn’t called out that way before, hadn’t reacted to such pain in all his life, his body flinching, falling to a heap as his calls went unanswered.

He looked around to the friends who had re-joined the bouncing masses and for the TV cameras filming his reaction, hidden in each corner ready to capture the moment panic struck. He couldn’t make out the glass of the lens, the black nothingness beyond. He looked for others who’d heard the call, who’d seen the bouncer fall to the ground, but there was no one else, all others in the room all but silent for the feet slapping to the ground with disorganised rhythm.

They were good. The setup must have taken time, his admiration for his friends grew, the attention to detail for the prank warming his heart even more as he lost count of the costumed actors streaming through the doorway with the empty-headed stares and their quickening pace as they sought targets.

It took the third, or maybe it was the fourth headset to fall to the floor, the screams joining to a chorus before people took note, before they pulled down the cans at their ears, heads titling to the side, eyes widening with pain, before the screams reverberated and legs ran in the opposite direction, stopping, pausing when they saw the same expressionless crowd head from the way they wanted to run.

His admiration grew as he looked from eye to eye, saw fear on their addled faces curled in confusion as he held his chest against the laughter pouring from his mouth. His admiration grew as he took a step back, bumping against the wall as people ran left and right. Movement caught him by surprise, but still he smiled, the laughter without control even when the stale stench of sewerage wafted across his face, even when the dark figure bared down, intense pain radiating from his neck.


In The End

What if you woke to find the electricity off, the internet down and the streets deserted? What if you were forced to run for your life, no longer top of the food chain? What if the government had no interest in keeping you alive, but you’d found a reason to struggle on, a new meaning to this life, those around every corner intent on hunting you down?

Could you survive the end of civilisation?

Meet Logan. That’s me. The first to believe the world had changed forever. The first to urge our friends to run. The first to kill, but not the first victim. I was the first to see for myself as nature bent before my eyes. With death surrounding, getting ever closer, they looked to me for answers.

This is my story.

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Bug Out Bag: There’s No One to Call!

Your blurring vision settles on your arm, the double image slowly combining to one as the raw skin beads with drops of blood. You move your head, pain slowing the turn, your shoulders held back by the weight on your back and with no understanding how you got on your ass, your ankle throbbing, you look up to the crack of the daylight shining from above. 

In the latest in the bug out bag series we’re discussing what we can carry in the bag to prepare for medical situations while outside the home and maybe, just maybe when the ambulance won’t be on the other end of the line to take your call.

I’m Not a Medical Professionalattention-303861_1280

Disclaimer. I’m not a medic, trained or otherwise. This post is compiled from research and experience of being out there in the wilderness. Should you suffer any ailment or symptoms you should seek immediate medical attention, but if this is not possible this post is intended as a guide as to what you could pack in your bug out bag to help provide first aid to a range of situations in order that you can get to any professional help you may require. Please ensure you only use any product listed here as per the manufacturers guidance and use your common sense. Disclaimer done.

Common Wilderness Ailments

Strains & Sprains

A good walking / hiking shoe will help prevent these painful injuries. I used to wear a walking shoe which finished below the ankle, but after I lost my footing walking along the side of a hill, the drop to my left hidden by a sea of tall fern, I always wear a boot. The boot wouldn’t have prevented the fall or the raptures of laughter from my companions, but it would have provided much more support in the aftermath. In the middle of nowhere I had not real choice but to walk it off, taking plenty of pain killers to keep me going.

ankle-2253057_1920As luck would have it we were not too far from where we could lay up for the night and I took off my boot, something I shouldn’t have done if I’d wanted to put it back on that day. In the morning I had to keep it elevated for a good hour until I could get the boot back on, popping pain killers throughout the day to enable me to walk twenty miles out from the middle of nowhere. I was left with pain for three weeks whilst resting from long walks and running, but it has been fine ever since.

The advice here in an ideal situation is to take painkillers, ideally with an anti-inflammatory and rest, keeping the ankle elevated. If it’s clear it’s broken or something just isn’t right, there’s no chance you’re walking on it, keep the pressure off. You’re going to have to get some help, if it’s not going to come, you’re going to have to improvise crutches. You can immobilise sprains and strains to keep yourself from doing any more damage using bandages from your first aid kit to strap foraged wood above and below the injury. Gaffer tape over the bandages can add much needed strength to the bindings, but be careful not to cut off the blood supply.

Burnsfire-227291_1920

Always practice good fire safety and give it the respect it deserves. As we all know, burns can be one of the most painful injuries.

Cool the burn with cool or lukewarm water. It’s unlikely you will have ice but if you do, don’t use it or you risk burning further with the cold. If you’re low on water then anything cold will do, just make sure it’s not going to stick to the wound. Once the burn has cooled, apply cling film to the area. This keeps moisture in and infection out, plus allows you to keep an eye on the progress of the wound.

Sun Burn

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No lectures here, we should all know the long term dangers of sun burn and the short term pain it can cause, but if you’re not able to prevent it by wearing a good wide brimmed hat and regularly applying sun lotion, then treat it as per a burn, cooling and protecting. Apply after-sun lotion and moisturiser containing aloe vera to help lessen the pain.

Stings and Insect Bites

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You should pack based on where you’re travelling or bugging out to. If you’re in the US or Australia, be prepared for snake and spider bites. In the UK the worst we can expect would be a hornet, bee or wasp stings, or stinging nettles and the annoyance of mosquitoes. Insect repellant is a great idea, or if you’re camping then citronella candles can be a great help to keep the bugs at bay.

Use the built in insect netting if you’re camping in a tent, or a mosquito net if you’re planning to sleep under the stars, particularly if you’re near any amount of water. If you do get stung, scrape the stinger and any remaining insect from the wound with a straight edge or fingernail to avoid squeezing more venom into the wound. Applying antihistamine cream can help tame the itching.

Tickscayenne-tick-542169_1920

A special note about ticks. Ticks are related to spiders, mites and scorpions and carry many diseases. There are different sorts of ticks, each of which are hosted on different animals and vary around the world. Habitats also vary across the world but often include woodland, heathland, moorland, rough pasture, forests and urban parks

In the UK 15% of ticks carry Lime’s disease and they’re a real problem in the US too.

If untreated, symptoms may include loss of the ability to move one or both sides of the face, joint pains, severe headaches with neck stiffness, or heart palpitations and can cause arthritis. Along with Lime’s, they can transmit meningitis, among other diseases.

CDC_EMLook for the symptoms which can happen between 3-30 days after a bite and include fever, chills, aches and pains and a rash. The circular rash with Lime’s disease is distinctive and a typical presentation is shown opposite.

Although it’s rare to feel a tick biting you, when it’s finished its feed it will fall off, if you find a tick, you need to make sure you remove it properly without squashing it.  https://www.lymediseaseaction.org.uk/about-ticks/tick-removal

Add a tick removal tool to your bug out bag and your camping first aid kit!

Preventing can be easy, wear long trousers, not shorts, especially when walking through raised vegetation such as long grasses

Cuts, Scrapes and Scratches

Clean the wound with antiseptic wipes, very important when you’re out of the home. Use saline solution to wash out larger wounds. If you have nothing else then use cooled boiled water, boiled for at least one minute and prepared as if you were going to drink it. When clean and dried, dress the wound. Either with a liquid plaster for minor cuts and scrapes, which forms a flexible water resistant layer, or a suitable dressing. Try and keep the wound dry and out of streams and rivers if you can, otherwise use a waterproof dressing. For larger, gaping cuts, use butterfly bandages, but if these don’t keep the wound closed, use superglue.

Tweezers for thorns and splinter removal are a must. You should be carrying scissors and a knife for preparing the dressings. Change the dressing as often as you can, especially after periods of prolonged activity or sleep.

Basic First Aid Kit List

A well-stocked basic first aid kit suitable for the bug out back should contain:

  • Adhesive bandages of various sizes
  • Blister plasters
  • Butterfly bandages – For closing wounds
  • Gauze pads of various sizes or gauze roll
  • Antiseptic creams and ointments
  • Sterile wipes and rinse solutions
  • Pain and anti-inflammatory medicine
  • Hydrocortisone cream – Anti itching cream
  • Tweezers, scissors, safety pins, and knife
  • Anti-diarrhoea medicine – normally I wouldn’t recommend these as they stop a natural process and just bung you up, but if the symptoms are debilitating and you’re on a long journey, they could be key.
  • Antihistamine for allergic reactions
  • Eye drops / wash
  • Triple antibiotic ointment – Not available in the UK without a prescription, but you can get on eBay for a price
  • Tick removal tool
  • Cling film

Additional items – These are not necessarily for first aid but are either used in the promotion of good health or have secondary uses for first aid.

  • Duct tape – Binding a split, sealing a wound in an emergency, the list really is endless, we could have a post all about this wonderful stuff.
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Super glue
  • Aloe vera
  • Sunscreen
  • Epi pen or other essential prescription medications you may need. For me it’s a salbutamol inhaler
  • Emergency blanket

Emergency card

This is one for your everyday life too. We have special places in your phones for your important medical information, but when you’re out and about your phone might be out of charge. Why not carry a laminated piece of paper with your important medical information on, including your blood type and details of any allergies and your next of kin and their contact details? These could help you so much if you have to be rescued unconscious and you’re unable to tell them this important information.

Do you know your blood type?

In an emergency you’d be lucky to be escaping with me as I’m O Negative. This means anyone can accept my blood, but the price I pay is that I can only receive O Negative blood if I’m the one with a the good stuff pouring from an injury. Why not donate blood and you too can find out your blood type?

IMG_4887Conclusion

As often happens, in writing this post I’ve learnt a lot and I can see I need to update my very basic first aid kit. Plus I checked the dates and I have some refreshing to do as well! I’ll be adding eye wash, the spray on plaster, updating my supply of antiseptic wipes, grabbing a tick removal tool and butterfly bandages.

I’ve be added another item to my shopping basket and I’m embarrassed to say why. After writing this post I checked my home first aid kit too only to find everything expired over eight years ago. Please take a minute to check your kit. You’ll be thankful if you ever come to need it!

Let me know your thoughts

If you have any great tips or experiences you’d like to share, or if you want to set me straight in something I’ve said or missed, then please drop me a message in the comments.


In the End

What if you woke to find the electricity off, the internet down and the streets deserted? What if you were forced to run for your life, no longer top of the food chain? What if the government had no interest in keeping you alive, but you’d found a reason to struggle on, a new meaning to this life, those around every corner intent on hunting you down?

Could you survive the end of civilisation?

Meet Logan. That’s me. The first to believe the world had changed forever. The first to urge our friends to run. The first to kill, but not the first victim. I was the first to see for myself as nature bent before my eyes. With death surrounding, getting ever closer, they looked to me for answers.

This is my story.

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My Publishing Journey – An Update – The Dreaded Edit

The latest version of this post is available here.

I’m about to embark into the unknown world of self-publishing my first book, In The End. Here I document my honest journey so far and the steps I think I’ll need to take. I’ll repost each time I have any major update or when I learn something new or if anyone comments with some useful or important information.

This is the fourth update after a week of activity on the project. Depending how you’re reading this, the updated sections are shown in blue.

A thank you to the community

Each time I post an update I get more and more insight from the WordPress Community. So I’m going to keep doing it. Thanks Guys!!!

Expected Publication Date – Autumn / Fall 2018


Step One

Write the book. DONE


Step Two

Build a following. Build a community.IMG_3486


Step Three

Editing.

Under my own rules of how I wanted this work to develop, they’ll be no development editing of the work. It’s done! Now I need to get the work polished and hunt out those pesky typos, or mistakes as a good friend calls them! It’s the area I’m weakest at so I have to rely on my wife to do it for me and she’s a busy lady so I’m trying to be patient.

I’ve also decided to look through the work again myself and I’m glad I did. Although I’m not breaking my own rule set out above, I am changing more of the words and phrases than I thought I would have too. The edit is now completed

I’m revisiting the subject of development editing again. I’ve had some feedback, one comment on my previous update, about the work benefiting from a development edit to get some of the sentence structure until control and I won’t lie, I’m torn. I guess this is a question of my motivation. This has never been about money, making it or spending it. I know only 20% of authors actually make a living out of writing and that’s not going to be me. I have a good full time job and I’m not looking to replace it. I write because I enjoy creating worlds and telling the story then soaking up my reader’s reactions. Publishing for me is all about getting the work out to a wider audience and hoping more people like it than don’t.

The question is would a development edit turn the work into something else, would spending £800-£1,000 turn this into a money pit whereby I need it to be a success so I’m not just throwing good money away.

However if I don’t get it edited and it ruins people’s enjoyment, can I handle the criticism, the bad reviews? What would that do to my writing confidence when the work is out in the big wide world for anyone to read and tell me exactly what they think about it?

I need to think on!

Had a comment from one of my first readers over the weekend and he spotted a section early on in the book which jarred with him. I totally agree with what he said, but it was an easy fix. I’d rather hear it from him than a reviewer!

I’ve also made a tweak to a reoccurring sentence throughout the book, it also happens to be the opening line and I’m pretty happy with it. As part of the publishing process, mainly running through the MS Word grammar suggestions (once I switched it from US English) I made a few more updates.

The dreaded development edit question again!

So, after some great comments from the community, I followed a suggestion to a writing services site and after a discussion with one of their team, we agreed a manuscript review would be a good idea. After checking out the credentials I hit the button, paid half the invoice and sent them the manuscript. It should be back in six weeks and all I have to do is wait to find out if I’ve been wasting my time! Of course that is the extreme, hopefully there won’t be too much for comment, a tweak here and there, but we’ll have to see. Better to find out this way then when it bombs on Amazon’s virtual shelves. I just need to forget out the words themselves for a little while and continue with the background word and pre-publication work. Easier said than done of course!


Step Four

The Publishing Process.

Figure out how the hell I’m going to get this published on Amazon. I want to publish as an e-book and also use Amazon’s print-on-demand service. CreateSpace. So I’ve bought the top selling books on the subject from Amazon which the reviews seem to think will guide me through the process! Lots and lots to learn here, so much more information to be added.

It seems that using an Amazon Print on Demand services was the right choice from what I’ve read so far and much easier to format the work this way and then publish for Kindle. Plus it’s free to get your book on the shelves and if you want a copy it only costs the price of the book through the Amazon store. However I’d assumed I’d be using CreateSpace, but during my research I discovered KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). This is also a service from Amazon and from what I’ve read it seems a newer and improved service, with benefits to those authors outside of the UK. This calls for more research!

KDP vs CreateSpace – The advice is clear – KDP is the emerging technology which almost provides the same service as CreateSpace, plus it has the added advantages of providing one log-in for Kindle and POD sales, plus author proof copies are posted from the UK which keeps the costs down and the timescales low. I’ve signed up to KDP, so I guess the journey begins here and I’m logging all the steps in preparation for the possible future post.

It seems I may be missing out if I just publish on Amazon. I need to look at other publishing outlets and using a platform called Smashwords seems to be the way to go. You just publish to the Smashwords platform and they do all the rest. I’ve had a look at the service and it seems reasonable and again is free. They have their own style guide which I need to read and in conjunction with any similar guide I’m assuming Amazon has to, which I’ll get on to later. Many thanks for the comments on my last update post which led me down this avenue!

I’ve started to read through the publishing books and straight away new tasks are popping out:

  • Decide on the title. Is it right?
  • Same too for the strap line.
  • Come up with the blurb. Now that is a daunting task!!
    • Amazon recommends around 150 words which are easy to scan. This is the project i’m now working on!
    • My first, well maybe third draft is done and I’ve added it to the bottom of the page.
  • Come up with Keywords and Categories so people can find it when it’s sitting on the virtual shelves. It seems it’s pointless to repeat the keywords if they appear in the category, so it’s best to choose the category first. I’ve swapped them around to take this into account.
    • Categories – I’ve researched other books of the same genre and the following seem to have the best fit. You can only pick two.
      • Fiction > Science Fiction > Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic
      • Books > Fiction > Horror > Zombies, Werewolves & Vampires
      • Books > Fiction > Science Fiction > Dystopian
      • I’ve looked at a few books I think my work is most like and you can see how well they are ranked against each category. There’s some surprises in there I’ve found.
      • Books > Crime, Thrillers & Mystery > Action & Adventure
      • Books > Fiction > Horror > Thrillers
      • Books > Fiction > Horror > Fantasy
      • It’s going to be difficult to make a choice. A lot of the popular books with Zombie’s or any of the other paranormal type creatures are sitting where you would expect. 
      • I’m leaning towards the Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic category and Horror > Thriller for now. At least that will help me choose the keywords, at least which ones not to pick!
    • Keywords – Amazon is basically a search engine after all. The more I research about keywords the more I can see how much of a tricky decision it is. You want to make your book stand out from the crowd, unique even, but still you want to appear in popular searches and high up. My first thoughts were Zombie, Apocalypse, Survival, End of the World and Dystopian, but rather than keywords, I should be looking at phrases. There are loads of tools out there, at a cost, which will help you select your keywords. The keywords should be based on:
      • What people actually type when they’re looking for books
        • Test your keyword ideas and see what Amazon search auto completes and combines with other words. Do the same in google.
          • Zom = Zombie Apocalypse / Zombie Science Fiction / Zombie Fiction / Zombie Survival Guide
          • Surv – How to survive the end of the world / survivors
          • Apoca – Post Apocalyptic Fiction / Apocalypse Culture / Apocalyptic Fiction
          • These are pretty crowded spaces. More research to be done here.
      • What they will be will to pay money for
      • Where the returned list is not too crowded, i.e. you’ll appear at the top.
  • Dedication – Who the book is for. Another tricky decision. I wrote this for Sarah so that’s who I should put here right? I need to include my wife, a no brainer. A double dedication will sort this out, but then I can’t leave my Mum out right? I managed to get this done and I’m really happy with the result.
  • Acknowledgements – Who helped me along the way? I have to make sure I mention those who gave their input, and maybe a few of those who didn’t! This is done now and again I’m happy with what I’ve come up with.
  • I need to decide if I want to pay hundreds for my own ISBN I can use across all editions or just use the free Amazon one / free with Smashwords too, but you they would be different. I’ll be using the free one. Note all ISBNs are 13 digits long now. I have mine. How exciting!
  • Figure out what i’m going to put in the back end of the book. Options include:
    • A call to action for Season Two – It’s in.
    • Short Biography – I don’t think anyone will be interested so I’m leaving this out.
    • A link to my WordPress pages / Facebook – It’s in.
  • Back page cover image. Hadn’t thought of that! After starting a dry run of the KDP process I’ve found for the paperback I need to supply one image for the entire sleeve, so that’s the front, spine and back cover in one image, all at the right size and ratio. KDP provides the exact measurements for the trim size I’ve chosen so I’ve sent it back to my artist friend to work it up. Should be back by the end of July, I’m in no hurry. It’s done and the featured image at the start of the post. There may be a few tweaks in the future, but wow I’m pleased!
  • Read the style guides for the publishing platforms and make any changes needed.
  • Research and make all those little decisions about how the book will look, like chapters, fonts, size etc.
  • I’ve downloaded the template from KDP and along with everything else I’m formatting the document. More on this in a later post. As I work on this in MS Word I’m finding a few more editing issues which Word is picking out, so now the Word document is my master. I’ve had lots of fun formatting the template, NOT. It mostly went okay and is great to see the work with chapter numbers, justification and the final font and sizing, but little things were a pain and needed quite a bit of research to get right, like page numbering and getting the to start from 1 on the first chapter. But it’s done now.
  • KDP Dry RunPrint options  – You can play around with these to get a cost per print. Not quite there yet.Paper and ink colour – Cream, black ink
      • Trim – Set as per the template you’ve populated – I chose the closest size to a commercial paperback, 5×8 inches
      • Bleed Setting – No bleed as have no images, just text
      • Cover finish – Matt

Other publishing things to think about:

  • Kindle Unlimited – Amazon’s lending library whereby you get paid per page. Figure out what are the pro’s and con’s. Not researched this yet but feedback is that some people have struggled to sell books but they do make an income on Kindle Unlimited. I guess people are more likely to take a risk if they’re not paying outright for it. While researching this I came across KDP Select. At first I thought it was a separate scheme and now, although I have not one hundred percent confirmed, I believe it is effectively one in the same thing as Kindle Unlimited and you have to enrol in Select in order for your ebook to be available on Unlimited. However the downside of Select is you must give Amazon exclusivity on the distribution of the eBook. You can still sell it on Amazon, but it must not be offered via any other channel, including your own website, so Smashwords would be out, for the time being at least. Another decision to make, but I’m erring on the side of joining, at least for the initial 90 day agreement period.

Step Five

Marketing.

Continue to build the community and market the book. Lots to learn here. So far my marketing strategy consists of:

  • Preparing a Amazon product / home page for the book
    • Write a biography. Keep it short and make it interesting. Also the place to put in contact information like website and twitter details.
  • Blogging (as above) – World building and about the process
  • Investigate other social media outlets
    • I’ve signed up to Twitter @stevens_gj so I’ll be getting to know how it can work for me over the next few days. Feel free to follow. 
  • Prepare social media posts
  • Business Cards – See below
  • Blog about it and build a Season One landing page to compel people to click the link to the book’s page on Amazon.
  • Writing Season Three and releasing on WordPress as I did with Season One and Two.
  • Find a way to get people to provide reviews of the published book
    • Bloggers
      • Check out what their requirements are, genre, copies etc
  • Print and send out author copies for review
  • Write Short Stories
  • Promotions
    • Giveaways
    • $0.99 promotions
      • Promotion advertisers
        • Freebooksy – Promotes free kindle books
    • Paid Ads (Bookbub? / Amazon / kboards? / Online Magazines)
    • Host AMAs (AMAFeed / Reddit)
    • Email for interviewers from book podcasters / book sites / reviewers
    • Promo sites (there’s so many of them)
    • Local newspapers
  • Other sites to look into for marketing
    • Reddit

Other decisions to make:

  • Investigate Goodreads as a promo platform
  • Audiobook version?

Business Cards

I’ve had these low cost business cards printed as simple low volume marketing idea. One side shows the cover of the book and the other side shows the blurb and my site address. I can either hand these out when anyone asks me about my work, or I can strategically leave them in locations where I travel.

I previously had simple cards made up with the web address on one side and the first and last paragraph of the first chapter on. They worked really well and my friends would take great delight in handing them out and placing them in prominent locations on their travels. I think these will work even better and with the cost of internet based print companies I was astounded by the low cost.

IMG_4117


Step Six

Hit the publish button!

I’ll take Season One off WordPress and add in my own advertising to link to the book on Amazon. Lots more to learn here.


In parallel with all the above I’ll be doing the same for Season Two and writing Season Three. I’ve made a decision not to start working on Season Three until the book is released and I can put all my energy back in to writing again. I’m getting itchy fiction fingers, so I might have to write some short stories and use them as promotional material.

Want to read Season One before I take it down? Here it is.

If I’ve made some massive misjudgement, missed out any step or you just have some advice, then please let me know in the comments.

On the next post I plan to tidy this up, archive some of the older stuff just to shrink it down and make it more readable.


The Blurb!

What if you woke to find the electricity off, the internet down and the streets deserted? What if you were forced to run for your life, no longer top of the food chain? What if the government had no interest in keeping you alive, but you’d found a reason to struggle on, a new meaning to this life, those around every corner intent on hunting you down?

Could you survive the end of civilisation?

Meet Logan. That’s me. The first to believe the world had changed forever. The first to urge our friends to run. The first to kill, but not the first victim. I was the first to see for myself as nature bent before my eyes. With death surrounding, getting ever closer, they looked to me for answers.

This is my story.

Bug out Bag: Survival Skills

Inspired by my discussion about what I should pack in the bug out bag for protection, it was suggested a bow and arrow would be a great weapon for after civilisation has fallen around your ears. It was of course a great idea, but the key problem was where are you going to get your bow and a constant source of arrows from?

This set me thinking about what skills would be most useful in a survival / fall of civilisation, or even just any emergency where the bug out bag would be required. In this we post look at skills you could learn to help should those days come.

explosion-123690_1920There are many phases to an emergency situation. P1, the initial incident and the immediate survival of the first few days. P2, establishment of a bit of normality after a few weeks. P3, rebuilding of the world. These could apply to many reasons why you could need the bug out bag and the skills you have, or decide to learn in preparation, will and should have an effect on what you carry in the bag, be it tools or supplies etc.

We’re looking at skills here, although some of these are occupations, we’re talking about skills you can pick up which you don’t have, unless you decide to make the ultimate change and move profession. Most will have an impact on multiple phases, so we’ll score their impact in each phase from 1 to 3, with three being the most impact, then we’ll add the scores for each phase up at the end.

If the numbers bore you then just skip past the table and we’ll get back to the discussion.

Skill Category Usefulness in Each Survival Phase Total Score
The First Few Days (P1) Establishing Normality (P2) Rebuilding Civilisation (P3)
Hunting / Fishing Food High High High 9
Foraging Food High High Low 7
Combat Skills Safety High High Medium 8
Mechanics / Engineering Transport (P1-3) / Building (P2-3) High High High 9
Sailing Transport High High Medium 8
Leadership Motivation High High High 9
Navigation Location Medium Medium Low 5
Flying / Piloting Transport High High Medium 8
Climbing Safety High Medium Low 6
Running Transport High Low Low 5
Weapon Making Safety / Food Low High Medium 6
Construction Building Low Medium High 6
Food Preservation Food Medium High 5
Carpentry Building Low High High 7
Soap & Candle Making Comfort Low High 4
Cobbling Safety Low Low High 5
First Aid / Medical Safety High High High 9
Dentistry Comfort Low Medium High 6
Farming Food Low High 4
Distilling Comfort High 3
Potting Comfort High 3

Analysis

So we have a good range of scores, with lots of high numbers too. Let’s take a closer look at those which scored eight or over, meaning they would be useful is each of the stages of an emergency situation. I propose the key considerations when looking to learning a new skills are:

  • Accessibility. Does it cost lost of money to learn and requires specialist resources
  • Times to learn. We’re talking part time study here, not about changing your occupation in preparation.
  • Other uses. Is it something which can benefit you in everyday life, or is it solely for the dedicated!
  • Bug Out Bag. How does the skill effect what you’re going to carry in the bug out bag. If you’re going to weigh yourself down then it’s a low score.

As with my previous analysis we’ll score each consideration from 1 to 5, with 5 being the best score in the category.


Hunting / Fishingbonding-1868513_1920

Killing game or catching fish. Some call it a sport.

  • Accessibility – In the UK fishing is very accessible with plenty of places to learn and to practice the skill. You’re going to need a lot of patience, but that’s part of the fun. Isn’t it? Hunting on the other hand is available in the UK, but nowhere to the level of countries like the US. The score in this case is based on fishing and we’ve dropped it from the top spot because the kit is a cash sink hole – 4/5
  • Time to Learn – A few trips and I’m sure you can learn the basics, improving each time – 5/5
  • Everyday Benefit – I guess if you like fish and enjoy the hobby it’s got its advantages – 5/5
  • Bug Out Bag – We already have a fishing line and hook, but it’s not going to cut the mustard for long. It’s a low score because the fishing kit it large and cumbersome. The same could be said for hunting.  – 1/5

Score = 15 / 20


Combat Skillskarate-852619_1920

We’re not talking about joining the military, maybe the reserves is an option if you have the time, but there’s plenty of opportunity to learn a martial art like Judo or Karate, or even boxing, if you want to be the mean MF when no one else is going to come to your rescue. In the US we’re talking here about getting a gun and learning how to use it.

  • Accessibility – Open to anyone who has the time and temperament – 5/5
  • Time to Learn – Sources show it would typically take two classes a week for five years to become a black belt in Karate. That’s some time commitment – 2/5
  • Everyday Benefit – A lot of people get great enjoyment out of martial arts and combat sports – 4/5
  • Bug Out Bag – You are the weapon – 5/5

Score = 16 / 20


Mechanics / Engineeringworkshop-2104225_1920

An all-round set of skills which give you the mindset and the mental tools to turn your hand to most problems. Fix cars, build shelters, bridge a deep fissure splitting the ground at your feet. Essential skills when it all goes wrong. I should know 🙂

  • Accessibility – Mechanical and engineering skills can be taught, but it’s also about having a mindset to want to understand how things work and then using your skills to explore. No matter your specific discipline, most engineers can turn their hands to most engineering problems – 4/5
  • Time to Learn – Four to five years of university or the same for an apprenticeship, depending on the discipline, plus there’s a lifetime of experience to gain. It’s not a quick one – 1/5
  • Everyday Benefit – Fix stuff and have a great job at the same time. There’s no downside, right? – 5/5
  • Bug Out Bag – A limited set of generic tools would be worth bringing along, but they’re heavy, however you’re already carrying the best item in the tool kit, your mind – 4/5

Score = 14 / 20


Sailinglake-1915846_1920

Jumping on a boat and getting the heck out of dodge does have a lot of advantages, or maybe you can ferry supplies from somewhere where the ground isn’t alight!

  • Accessibility – As an island nation, it’s pretty easy to find somewhere to learn how to sail and if you have pockets stuffed full of cash then you can keep your escape route in a secure boat shed just down the road. If not then it will take a could spend to get your skills up to par – 2/5
  • Time to Learn – You can learn the basics of sailing in a short course, but piloting a boat takes years of experience. You should start hanging around the coast in bars where the fishermen frequent and maybe they’ll let you take their livelihood out for a spin? – 2/5
  • Everyday Benefit – You get to sail a boat. Great for holidays, but unless you decide it’s a pirate’s life for you then it’s not going to be a great boon to your live – 1/5
  • Bug Out Bag – The boat won’t fit in the bag, maybe a life jacket, but I guess that should already be on the boat – 5/5

Score = 10 / 20


Leadershipyoung-3061652_1920

Why do you need the specialist skills to survive when you can just find other people and lead them to do it for you. People will be looking for someone to take charge. Are you up for the job? Can you inspire them to follow you? Can you make the decisions which could mean the difference between life and death?

  • Accessibility – Can you train to be a leader? I guess those guys who run leadership courses think so. The best route would be to do this through your job, tell the boss you want to be his boss eventually. Go on, give it a go – 3/5
  • Time to Learn – Again it’s experience which is going to be the key and it’ll take years to read the books, let alone to get the right tone to your voice – 2/5
  • Everyday Benefit – Get people to do what you want? Is that how it works? If it’s your job then being a great leader can give you a fast route to the top – 5/5
  • Bug Out Bag – Get someone else to carry the bag! – 6/5

Score = 16 / 20


Flying / Pilotinggirl-424918_1920

Like sailing, but with more cool. Slightly more difficult to find planes lying around, but you can get away quicker and further away, leaving the poor saps who can’t fly to deal with what you leave behind!

  • Accessibility – Like with sailing but much, much more expensive – 1/5
  • Time to Learn – Same again, but at least you get a licence if you can pass the test – 2/5
  • Everyday Benefit – Change jobs, or just get to places quicker than all your friends, plus you won’t be lying next time you use your usual chat up line – 3/5
  • Bug Out Bag – There’s always room for aviator glasses  – 5/5

Score = 11 / 20


First Aid / Medicalinjury-903342_1920

I know I’d want to be around someone who could save my life, who could squeeze the puss out of the infected spot. Wouldn’t you? Combine this with herbalism and you might have found you’ll be everyone’s new best friend.

  • Accessibility – First aid classes are easy to book, but for real usefulness we’re talking next level. More advanced skills are what we need, like those of a nurse, or a paramedic maybe, a GP would be the best. It all depends on how much time you want to put in. An excellent route for those not wanting to leave their job and go to university for the foreseeable future would be to join a volunteer ambulance service, like St John’s Ambulance Service here in the UK – 2/5
  • Time to Learn – Depending on the route you want to take, you can be up and running within a few months, but you won’t be performing open heart surgery for a good few years yet – 3/5
  • Everyday Benefit – You can save someone’s life before the world goes to the wall – 5/5
  • Bug Out Bag – You might need to bolster your first aid kit, but you’ll have to leave the defibrillator at home – 4/5

Score = 14 / 25


Summary

So the scores are in and summarised below:

  • Combat Skills – 16
  • Leadership – 16
  • Hunting / Fishing – 15
  • Mechanics / Engineering – 14
  • First Aid / Medical – 14
  • Flying / Piloting – 11
  • Sailing – 10

And the winning skill is….

With not much between the top five skills you’ve got a range to choose from and if you’re lucky enough to already have one or more of those skills then you need to decide if you want to rest on your laurels and sit back or learn another skill which will complement what you already have.

Combination Skillswoman-2209887_1920

As you can see the ability to use a bow and arrow wasn’t specifically addressed and that’s because it would take a combination of skills, three in fact, to make this a sustainable choice. You would need to first be able to make your own bows (becoming a bowyer), then make your own arrows, (a fletcher) and then acquire the ability to use those tools for hunting, or your own defence. However if you did, I’m pretty sure the combined skill would easily top the list.

There are many other of the skills we first discussed when combined together make potent combinations and I’m sure you can think of a few.

Thanks for taking the time to read and if you disagree with my conclusion or if I’ve missed an awesome skill then let me know in the comments.


In the End

What if you woke to find the electricity off, the internet down and the streets deserted? What if you were forced to run for your life, no longer top of the food chain? What if the government had no interest in keeping you alive, but you’d found a reason to struggle on, a new meaning to this life, those around every corner intent on hunting you down?

Could you survive the end of civilisation?

Meet Logan. That’s me. The first to believe the world had changed forever. The first to urge our friends to run. The first to kill, but not the first victim. I was the first to see for myself as nature bent before my eyes. With death surrounding, getting ever closer, they looked to me for answers.

This is my story.

IMG_3486

In The End: Excluded – A Short

2 Miles Outside the Inner Exclusion Zone

It’s busier than usual, but it’s not a usual day. Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and everyone has to look their best for the parties, the first five minutes anyway. I hate waiting but I need to slow my breath. There’s one, two, three, four, five people in front of me, gathered around the seats waiting for one of the three tall leather chairs to be ready. I won’t be partying late into the night, even if I had somewhere to go, but tomorrow will be even busier, more men waiting to have their hair cut and spiked into a style they think will be the most likely to attract a mate. Not me. I’ll be getting an early night. I start a new job on the second. I start a new life.

Everyone’s chatting, an excitement in the air for the celebrations, but I avoid the stares, the questioning glances. I don’t want to answer the projected questions. Instead, I grab the local paper and check the date. Two days ago. A weekly rag. It won’t have anything about what I saw last night.

I look through the tall windows, or try too. Their bluster has steamed up the glass and all I can see is the moisture collecting in lines and running down to the floor. I check my phone, looking through the shattered screen and remember it’s top of my list to replace when I get my first real pay cheque.

I look up from squinting at the dull, unlit image, the silhouettes of words I can’t make out in enough definition to be of use. I can’t tell if it’s the fence I saw last night, or something else completely, could be somewhere on another continent. I look up again, realising what I’d seen, a guy in shorts and t-shirt striding in. I want to scream it’s nearly January, but I don’t. Instead I watch as he bumps shoulders with the barber, then jumps onto the counter shouting and laughing about something no one else in the room understands.

I look around the room, my gaze casual so I don’t risk meeting their eyes. They think he’s a prick too. I’m not being unreasonable. Right? They dominate the room with their chatter, football talk resonating, others joining in. Their faces relaxing, only mine staying fixed in the scowl. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I’m alone in my thoughts.

Now they’re all talking, but not saying a word. None of what they’re saying has any meaning. No one has mentioned the fence which went up last night. No one has mentioned the soldiers gathered around the entrances, speeding through the lanes in Land Rovers, rifles over their shoulders. No one’s mentioned the people who’ve gone missing. Everyone I’ve spoken to know someone who knows someone who’s not been in touch in the last few days. Everyone knows someone who’s heard the stories, rumours of course.

Not these guys it would seem. Or they’ve just chosen to ignore it. To be ignorant.

I want to get up, get out of the seat. I want to raise my voice and ask if anyone else saw the fence around half the neighbouring village. If anyone knows where the people living there have gone. If anyone knows why there’s nothing on the news. But I don’t. Instead I sit and tune out their chatter, watch the drips race each other down the glass wondering what terrible thing lies the other side of the fence. Wondering what happens if it gets out.

The rumble of chatter stops as ears listen, scissors stop sliding together as faces turn, eyes flicking around the room as we wait to hear the sound again, wait to confirm. Another manic scream rattles the glass, they’re up on their feet, blind to what is past the misted windows. The door opens, chill air rushing in as they stream outside.

I’m the only one not standing. I’m the only one not squeezing through the doorway, the only one not adding to their fearful calls. The only one searching for the back exit as my pulse barely rises.


 

What if you woke to find the electricity off, the internet down and the streets deserted? What if you were forced to run for your life, no longer top of the food chain? What if the government had no interest in keeping you alive, but you’d found a reason to struggle on, a new meaning to this life, those around every corner intent on hunting you down?

Could you survive the end of civilisation?

Meet Logan. That’s me. The first to believe the world had changed forever. The first to urge our friends to run. The first to kill, but not the first victim. I was the first to see for myself as nature bent before my eyes. With death surrounding, getting ever closer, they looked to me for answers.

This is my story.

My Publishing Journey: An Update – More to do than done!

The latest version of this post is available here.

I’m about to embark into the unknown world of self-publishing my first book, In The End. Here I document my honest journey so far and the steps I think I’ll need to take. I’ll repost each time I have any major update or when I learn something new or if anyone comments with some useful or important information.

This is the third update after a week of activity on the project. I had tried to show all updates in a different colour, but it doesn’t come out when publishing!

A thank you to the community

Each time I post an update I get more and more insight from the WordPress Community. So I’m going to keep doing it. Thanks Guys!!!

Expected Publication Date – Autumn / Fall 2018


Step One

Write the book. DONE


Step Two

Build a following. Build a community.IMG_3486


Step Three

Editing.

Under my own rules of how I wanted this work to develop, they’ll be no development editing of the work. It’s done! Now I need to get the work polished and hunt out those pesky typos, or mistakes as a good friend calls them! It’s the area I’m weakest at so I have to rely on my wife to do it for me and she’s a busy lady so I’m trying to be patient.

I’ve also decided to look through the work again myself and I’m glad I did. Although I’m not breaking my own rule set out above, I am changing more of the words and phrases than I thought I would have too. The edit is now completed

I’m revisiting the subject of development editing again. I’ve had some feedback, one comment on my previous update, about the work benefiting from a development edit to get some of the sentence structure until control and I won’t lie, I’m torn. I guess this is a question of my motivation. This has never been about money, making it or spending it. I know only 20% of authors actually make a living out of writing and that’s not going to be me. I have a good full time job and I’m not looking to replace it. I write because I enjoy creating worlds and telling the story then soaking up my reader’s reactions. Publishing for me is all about getting the work out to a wider audience and hoping more people like it than don’t.

The question is would a development edit turn the work into something else, would spending £800-£1,000 turn this into a money pit whereby I need it to be a success so I’m not just throwing good money away.

However if I don’t get it edited and it ruins people’s enjoyment, can I handle the criticism, the bad reviews? What would that do to my writing confidence when the work is out in the big wide world for anyone to read and tell me exactly what they think about it?

I need to think on!

Had a comment from one of my first readers over the weekend and he spotted a section early on in the book which jarred with him. I totally agree with what he said, but it was an easy fix. I’d rather hear it from him than a reviewer!

I’ve also made a tweak to a reoccurring sentence throughout the book, it also happens to be the opening line and I’m pretty happy with it. As part of the publishing process, mainly running through the MS Word grammar suggestions (once I switched it from US English) I made a few more updates.


Step Four

The Publishing Process.

Figure out how the hell I’m going to get this published on Amazon. I want to publish as an e-book and also use Amazon’s print-on-demand service. CreateSpace. So I’ve bought the top selling books on the subject from Amazon which the reviews seem to think will guide me through the process! Lots and lots to learn here, so much more information to be added.

It seems that using an Amazon Print on Demand services was the right choice from what I’ve read so far and much easier to format the work this way and then publish for Kindle. Plus it’s free to get your book on the shelves and if you want a copy it only costs the price of the book through the Amazon store. However I’d assumed I’d be using CreateSpace, but during my research I discovered KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). This is also a service from Amazon and from what I’ve read it seems a newer and improved service, with benefits to those authors outside of the UK. This calls for more research!

KDP vs CreateSpace – The advice is clear – KDP is the emerging technology which almost provides the same service as CreateSpace, plus it has the added advantages of providing one log-in for Kindle and POD sales, plus author proof copies are posted from the UK which keeps the costs down and the timescales low. I’ve signed up to KDP, so I guess the journey begins here and I’m logging all the steps in preparation for the possible future post.

It seems I may be missing out if I just publish on Amazon. I need to look at other publishing outlets and using a platform called Smashwords seems to be the way to go. You just publish to the Smashwords platform and they do all the rest. I’ve had a look at the service and it seems reasonable and again is free. They have their own style guide which I need to read and in conjunction with any similar guide I’m assuming Amazon has to, which I’ll get on to later. Many thanks for the comments on my last update post which led me down this avenue!

I’ve started to read through the publishing books and straight away new tasks are popping out:

  • Decide on the title. Is it right?
  • Same too for the strap line.
  • Come up with the blurb. Now that is a daunting task!!
    • Amazon recommends around 150 words which are easy to scan. This is the project i’m now working on!
    • My first, well maybe third draft is done and I’ve added it to the bottom of the page.
  • Come up with Keywords and Categories so people can find it when it’s sitting on the virtual shelves. Amazon is basically a search engine after all. The more I research about keywords the more I can see how much of a tricky decision it is. You want to make your book stand out from the crowd, unique even, but still you want to appear in popular searches and high up. My first thoughts are shown below, but rather than keywords, I should be looking at phrases. More on this next week. There are loads of tools out there, at a cost, which will help you select your keywords.
    • Keywords
      • Zombie
      • Apocalypse
      • Survival
      • End of the world
      • Dystopian
    • Categories – I’ve researched other books of the same genre and the following seem to have the best fit. You can only pick two.
      • Fiction > Science Fiction > Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic
      • Fiction > Action & Adventure
  • Dedication – Who the book is for.Another tricky decision. I wrote this for Sarah so that’s who I should put here right? I need to include my wife, a no brainer. A double dedication will sort this out, but then I can’t leave my Mum out right? I managed to get this done and I’m really happy with the result.
  • Acknowledgements Who helped me along the way? I have to make sure I mention those who gave their input, and maybe a few of those who didn’t! This is done now and again I’m happy with what I’ve come up with.
  • I need to decide if I want to pay hundreds for my own ISBN I can use across all editions or just use the free Amazon one / free with Smashwords too, but you they would be different. I’ll be using the free one. Note all ISBNs are 13 digits long now. I have mine. How exciting!
  • Figure out what i’m going to put in the back end of the book. Options include:
    • A call to action for Season Two – It’s in.
    • Short Biography – I don’t think anyone will be interested so I’m leaving this out.
    • A link to my WordPress pages / Facebook – It’s in.
  • Back page cover image. Hadn’t thought of that! After starting a dry run of the KDP process I’ve found for the paperback I need to supply one image for the entire sleeve, so that’s the front, spine and back cover in one image, all at the right size and ratio. KDP provides the exact measurements for the trim size I’ve chosen so I’ve sent it back to my artist friend to work it up. Should be back by the end of July, I’m in no hurry.
  • Read the style guides for the publishing platforms and make any changes needed.
  • Research and make all those little decisions about how the book will look, like chapters, fonts, size etc.
  • I’ve downloaded the template from KDP and along with everything else I’m formatting the document. More on this in a later post. As I work on this in MS Word I’m finding a few more editing issues which Word is picking out, so now the Word document is my master. I’ve had lots of fun formatting the template, NOT. It mostly went okay and is great to see the work with chapter numbers, justification and the final font and sizing, but little things were a pain and needed quite a bit of research to get right, like page numbering and getting the to start from 1 on the first chapter. But it’s done now.
  • KDP Dry RunPrint options  – You can play around with these to get a cost per print. Not quite there yet.Paper and ink colour – Cream, black ink
      • Trim – Set as per the template you’ve populated – I chose the closest size to a commercial paperback, 5×8 inches
      • Bleed Setting – No bleed as have no images, just text
      • Cover finish – Matt

Other publishing things to think about:

  • Kindle Unlimited – Amazon’s lending library whereby you get paid per page. Figure out what are the pro’s and con’s. Not researched this yet but feedback is that some people have struggled to sell books but they do make an income on Kindle Unlimited. I guess people are more likely to take a risk if they’re not paying outright for it. While researching this I came across KDP Select. At first I thought it was a separate scheme and now, although I have not one hundred percent confirmed, I believe it is effectively one in the same thing as Kindle Unlimited and you have to enrol in Select in order for your ebook to be available on Unlimited. However the downside of Select is you must give Amazon exclusivity on the distribution of the eBook. You can still sell it on Amazon, but it must not be offered via any other channel, including your own website, so Smashwords would be out, for the time being at least. Another decision to make, but I’m erring on the side of joining, at least for the initial 90 day agreement period.

Step Five

Marketing.

Continue to build the community and market the book. Lots to learn here. So far my marketing strategy consists of:

  • Preparing a Amazon product / home page for the book
  • Blogging (as above) – World building and about the process
  • Prepare social media posts
  • Business Cards – More fun on that later!
  • Blog about it and build a Season One landing page to compel people to click the link to the book’s page on Amazon.
  • Writing Season Three and releasing on WordPress as I did with Season One and Two.
  • Find a way to get people to provide reviews of the published book
  • Print and send out author copies for review
  • Write Short Stories
  • Promotions
    • Giveaways
    • $0.99 promotions
    • Paid Ads (Bookbub? / Amazon / kboards? / Online Magazines)
    • Host AMAs (AMAFeed / Reddit)
    • Email for interviewers from book podcasters / book sites / reviewers
    • Promo sites (there’s so many of them)
    • Local newspapers
  • Other sites to look into for marketing
    • Reddit

Other decisions to make:

  • Investigate Goodreads as a promo platform
  • Audiobook version?

Step Six

Hit the publish button!

I’ll take Season One off WordPress and add in my own advertising to link to the book on Amazon. Lots more to learn here.


In parallel with all the above I’ll be doing the same for Season Two and writing Season Three. I’ve made a decision not to start working on Season Three until the book is released and I can put all my energy back in to writing again. I’m getting itchy fiction fingers, so I might have to write some short stories and use them as promotional material.

Want to read Season One before I take it down? Here it is.

If I’ve made some massive misjudgement, missed out any step or you just have some advice, then please let me know in the comments.


The Blurb!

What if you woke to find the electricity off, the internet down and the streets deserted? What if you were forced to run for your life, no longer top of the food chain? What if the government had no interest in keeping you alive, but you’d found a reason to struggle on, a new meaning to this life, those around every corner intent on hunting you down?

Could you survive the end of civilisation?

Meet Logan. That’s me. The first to believe the world had changed forever. The first to urge our friends to run. The first to kill, but not the first victim. I was the first to see for myself as nature bent before my eyes. With death surrounding, getting ever closer, they looked to me for answers.

This is my story.

Bug Out Bag: Food Glorious Food?

Today we’re talking about food. In my post Ten Minutes to Go! the food in the bug out bag was chosen as I dashed around my kitchen hooking out what I thought would be the most calorific. Now it’s time to see if I could have made better choices, both with what I had in the cupboards and what I could purchase in readiness for an emergency.

What are the key considerations?

  • Weight – A key consideration for your back and important for every item in the bag.
  • Dimension / Volume – The smaller the better so we don’t take up more space than is needed.
  • Calorie Content Per Weight – The more calories in the same weight of food means we’re making more efficient use of the weight we’re carrying. Kcal per 100 grams is the measure used here in the UK. Even if you use different units in your country, the analysis is still as relevant.
  • Shelf Life – When we need to eat the food it will last a few days, but it will be sitting inside the bag for years, hopefully never to be used, so we don’t want to keep replacing it, or forget and then be of no use when we come to need them.
  • Availability – Would you normally have the food in your cupboards at home or is it something you would have to buy?

IMG_2445

What’s Already in the Bag?

  • Low Fast Biscuits x 6 – 260 grams – 1,000 kcals – Six months shelf life
  • Packet Cooked Rice x 6 – 1,500 grams – 2,400 kcals – Nine months shelf life
  • Tinned Fish x 4 – 560 grams – 1,400 kcals – Three years shelf life
  • Tinned Beans & Sausages – 1 can – 476 grams  – 475 kcals – Two years shelf life
  • Beef Jerky – 1 packet – 35 grams – 100 kcals – Two years shelf life

The Analysis

With a total weight of just under 3kg, less than three percent of which is packaging, we’re getting 5,400 kcals. That’s just over the recommended energy intake for a man for two days. There’s a decent range of flavours in there, but the ingredients will start to go out of date within six months.

So can we do better with a little research?

Based on the key drivers we’ve already identified, I’ve picked out a list of contenders, some of which we’ve already got in the bag. Like with my previous posts we’ll give them marks for each area out of 5, with 5 being the highest score.

Here’s what we’ll look at.

ice-cream-cone-1274894_1920
How high will this score?
  • Calories per 100g – This factor tells us how efficient the food is at delivering calories, no matter how much weight we decide to carry.
  • Packaging Weight – If you can’t find a really good use for the packaging after you’ve eaten the food then you’re wasting your energy carrying it on your back.
  • Dimension / Volume – Space is as important as weight.
  • Shelf Life – Hopefully you’re not going to need the pack, but when you do you want what’s in to be good to use and not have to update the contents every few months.
  • Fragility – Can it handle being packed in the bag? Can it handle what you might have to go through with it on your back?

In the results we’ll also look at whether these items would normally be in your store cupboard.

There are other key areas we could also consider, like nutritional diversity. This is what else you’re getting apart from the raw energy. How much protein, fats, vitamins etc, but for the purpose of this post, we’re only looking at carrying enough food to last a few days. Once it’s used you’re going to have to find another source. I sense a new post idea on its way!


Tinned Fishfish-3287443_1920

With so many varieties, each cooked in a multitude of sauces, you’ve got a lot to choose from.

  • Calories per 100g – 280 kcals – 3/5
  • Packaging Weight – 12% of the weight is the tin – 3/5
  • Dimension / Volume – Pretty compact – 4/5
  • Shelf Life – 3 years – 4/5
  • Fragility – In a tin, will take a lot of punishment – 5/5
  • Store Cupboard Item – Yes

Score = 19 / 25


Tinned Beans & Sausagesbreakfast-2894729_1920

It’s an every day staple. What’s not to like?

  • Calories per 100g – 113 kcals – 1/5
  • Packaging Weight – 12% of the weight is the tin – 3/5
  • Dimension / Volume – It’s a round, awkward tin – 3/5
  • Shelf Life – 2 years – 3/5
  • Fragility – In a tin, will take a lot of punishment – 5/5
  • Store Cupboard Item – Yes

Score = 15 / 25


Packet Ricerestaurant-1762493_1920

A colourful, spicy range of good tasting food.

  • Calories per 100g – 153 kcals – 2/5
  • Packaging Weight – Minimal – 5/5
  • Dimension / Volume – Squishes down and fills any hole you put it into – 4/5
  • Shelf Life – 9 months – 2/5
  • Fragility – In a flexible packet it should take a fair battering – 5/5
  • Store Cupboard Item – Yes

Score = 18 / 25


Low Fat Biscuitscookie-3216243_1920

Diet food is not the kind of thing I should have grabbed, but let’s see how it compares.

  • Calories per 100g – 380 kcals – 4/5
  • Packaging Weight – Minimal – 5/5
  • Dimension / Volume – Huge volume, very low density – 1/5
  • Shelf Life – 6 months – 1/5
  • Fragility – Drop your bag once or twice and you’ll be hoovering up crumbs – 1/5
  • Store Cupboard Item – Yes

Score = 12 / 25


Tinned Meatcanning-2694736_1920

Spam. So good they wrote a sketch about it. Okay, maybe they didn’t write the sketch because it was so great. It should do well here though.

  • Calories per 100g – 292 kcals – 4/5
  • Packaging Weight – 12% of the weight is the tin – 3/5
  • Dimension / Volume – It’s a rectangular, awkward tin – 4/5
  • Shelf Life – 3 years – 4/5
  • Fragility – In a tin, will take a lot of punishment – 5/5
  • Store Cupboard Item – Not in mine , but it may be in some people’s

Score = 20 / 25


Survival BiscuitsSeven_Oceans_Food

Seven Oceans Standard Emergency Ration

Provides enough nutrition to last one person 72 hours in a survival situation and gives the highest possible ratio of balanced nutrition packed in nine separate bars with grease-proof paper. The biscuit ration requires no preparation and may be eaten directly from the box. This unit is protected by a water-repellent cardboard box and are issued to most life rafts worldwide.

  • Calories per 100g – 500 kcals – 5/5
  • Packaging Weight – Minimal – 5/5
  • Dimension / Volume – It’s the highest density of calories possible – 5/5
  • Shelf Life – 5 years – 5/5
  • Fragility – Dense blocks protected from water, these will take a fair bit of punishment – 4/5
  • Store Cupboard Item – No

Score = 24 / 25


ChocolateyiOJ5AoySHCgNUp2x%SXXA

It gets my vote even before we take a proper look. Let’s hope it gets the numbers and we’re packing toothpaste!

  • Calories per 100g – 534 kcals – 5/5
  • Packaging Weight – Minimal – 5/5
  • Dimension / Volume – Dense – 5/5
  • Shelf Life – The packaging shows around a year, but that’s to keep it at its optimum quality. We’ll get 3 years out of it easily before we have to eat it and replace, especially those without extra ingredients such as nuts – 4/5
  • Fragility – Water resistant packaging and product, it can get crumbled and it’ll still taste great, but get it too hot and you won’t be thankful – 4/5
  • Store Cupboard Item – Yes

Score = 23 / 25


Romney’s Kendle Mint Cake81nRkPHVjWL._SL1500_

Traditional survival fare, and it’s a sweet hit. Not as nice as chocolate to eat, but does the same damage to your teeth. Let’s see how it compares.

  • Calories per 100g – 320 kcals – 4/5
  • Packaging Weight – Minimal – 5/5
  • Dimension / Volume – Pretty compact – 4/5
  • Shelf Life – It’s flavoured sugar and will easily outlast anything else on this page – 5/5
  • Fragility – Less susceptible to heat than the chocolate but it’s going to crumble pretty easily – 3/5
  • Store Cupboard Item – No

Score = 21 / 25


MRE Ration Packsmaxresdefault

Meal Ready To Eat. These are military grade rations with each meal providing enough calories to keep a fighting force on its feet.

  • Calories per 100g – 150 kcals – 2/5
  • Packaging Weight – Small amount of packaging – 4/5
  • Dimension / Volume – They come in a big box meant to be moved around in lorries with the troops as the battle line is forced forward. Taking them from their packaging will make it easier to store, but will reduce the protection – 3/5
  • Shelf Life – 5 years – 5/5
  • Fragility – We’ve got to take it from the packaging – 4/5
  • Store Cupboard Item – No

Score = 18 / 25


Energy Bars

With so many varieties, all ready to eat from the packet, but are they the right thing to be carrying?

  • Calories per 100g – 280 kcals – 3/5
  • Packaging Weight – Minimal – 5/5
  • Dimension / Volume – Like the diet biscuits, you’re going to need a lot of them – 1/5
  • Shelf Life – 1 year – 2/5
  • Fragility – Has no protection from what could happen out there – 1/5
  • Store Cupboard Item – No

Score = 12 / 25


Preserved Meatsfennel-salami-recipe-600-px

There are lots of different types of preserved meats, each packing a decent punch of calories. There’s continental cured and fermented meats, with most requiring no preparation to eat, then there’s hard dried meats such as jerky or biltong which will last the longest and are very dense in calories. The last major type is the hard packed brined meats. This preservation process involves packing it in salt to dry it out and the result can last several years. However it requires soaking in water for a little while to pull out the salt and make it edible. Not an option for survival.

For this comparison we’ll look at the readily available cured, fermented and air dried meats like Salami or Chorizo, both of which have the same key characteristics we’re interested in.

  • Calories per 100g – 330 kcals – 4/5
  • Packaging Weight – You can eat pretty much all of it apart from the little metal clips at the end – 4/5
  • Dimension / Volume – Pretty compact – 4/5
  • Shelf Life – 2-3 years, if stored properly in a cool and well ventilated location which will help it develop, otherwise it should be kept in the fridge. We’re giving this the lowest score because it’s not feasible to keep it in the bag long term – 1/5
  • Fragility – It should take a fair battering – 4/5
  • Store Cupboard Item – May be in some

Score = 17 / 25


Peanut Butterpe_peanut_butter_0

Jam packed full of calories, it has the highest number out of all the foods we’ve looked at.

  • Calories per 100g – 610 kcals – 5/5
  • Packaging Weight – The plastic packaging is reusable and not as heavy as the metal tins, plus it’s resealable – 4/5
  • Dimension / Volume – Pretty compact – 4/5
  • Shelf Life – Stored outside of the fridge you’ve only got a few months to wait before you have rancid gloop – 1/5
  • Fragility – Plastic jars can easily be punctured, but it’s protected from water – 3/5
  • Store Cupboard Item – Yes

Score = 17 / 25


Oatsfield-8948_1920

A staple cereal for years. Definitely one to consider.

  • Calories per 100g – 362 kcals – 4/5
  • Packaging Weight – Minimal – 4/5
  • Dimension / Volume – High volume because of all the pesky air in nature’s produce – 3/5
  • Shelf Life – Will last quite a few months in the cupboard, not sure how long stuffed in the bag – 3/5
  • Fragility – In just the bag its not going to be a pretty sight if it gets punctured – 2/5
  • Store Cupboard Item – Yes

Score = 16 / 25


Summary

Below is a summary of the scores, starting with the best performing. The (S) denotes it’s commonly available in the store cupboard.

  1. Survival Biscuits – 24
  2. Chocolate (S) – 23
  3. Kendle Mint Cake –  21
  4. Tinned Meat (S) – 20
  5. Tinned Fish (S) – 19
  6. MRE Ration Packs – 18
  7. Packet Rice (S) – 18
  8. Preserved Meats (S) – 17
  9. Peanut Butter (S) – 17
  10. Oats (S) – 16
  11. Tinned Beans & Sausages (S) – 15
  12. Energy Bars – 12
  13. Low Fat Biscuits (S) – 12

And the winner is….The product designed for job!

Even if we look at the nutritional balance, the survival biscuits would still come out of top. They’re inexpensive, not something you can say about the MRE Ration Packs and they’ll sit in the bag for a descent length of time without having to change them out.

It’s great to see some of the winners are available in the store cupboard, so if you don’t want to splash out on specialist gear you’re unlikely to use everyday then there are still some great choices.

What’s Going in the Bag?

With the results in I can see I didn’t make too many bad choices, but I could have done better. Now I need to make a decision about what we’re going to put in the bag. I can either extend the number of days I can live off the contents whilst carrying the same weight, or make the most of the weight reduction we’re getting whilst keeping the calorie content the same.

This is a personal choice and one you have to make depending on which circumstances you’re preparing your bag for.

I’ve chosen a bit of each strategy, so I’ll be cutting the weight and increasing the calorie count, but not drastically.

  • Oceans’ Emergency Rations  – With two packs, 1kg, we’re just about getting the same amount of calories but for a third of the weight.
  • Kendal Mint Cake – For variety we’re also going to add eight 85 gram bars of sweetness for a treat adding another fifty percent to the calorie count with only 680 grams of weight. I’ve chosen it over the chocolate because of its shelf life.

This means we’re packing 7,600 calories for just over half the weight of what we had in the bag before.

Is it the end of the story?

No. Depending on the situation you may have time to grab what you have in the cupboards and carry it separately to the bag, or you may be able to scavenge food whilst out in the new world and at least now you have some idea of what you should be grabbing first.

Food Gone bad?mold-2035457_1280

Whatever your choice, any food can still go bad. I’ve gone for a low maintenance option which should see me only need to replace every four to five years, but when it comes to needing to use the bag you still need to use your common sense, or your nose, as your guide. If it smells or tastes bad then don’t eat it. You don’t want to be crippled with food poisoning because you ate bad food. You’re better off going hungry or using your energy to get food from the land. Keep an eye out for a future post about surviving off the land.


In the End

What if you woke to find the electricity off, the internet down and the streets deserted? What if you were forced to run for your life, no longer top of the food chain? What if the government had no interest in keeping you alive, but you’d found a reason to struggle on, a new meaning to this life, despite those around every corner intent on hunting you down?

IMG_3486

Could you survive the end of civilisation?

Meet Logan. That’s me. The first to believe the world had changed forever. The first to urge our friends to run. The first to kill, but not the first victim. I was the first to see for myself as nature bent before my eyes. With death surrounding, getting ever closer, they looked to me for answers.

This is my story.

Here’s Season One to get you started!

 

My Publishing Journey: An Update. The Hard Grind!

The latest version of this post is available here.

I’m about to embark into the unknown world of self-publishing my first book, In The End. Here I document my honest journey so far and the steps I think I’ll need to take. I’ll repost each time I have any major update or when I learn something new or if anyone comments with some useful or important information.

This is the second update after a week of activity on the project. All the updated sections are highlighted in blue.

Expected Publication Date – Autumn / Fall 2018


Step One

Write the book. DONE


Step Two

Build a following. Build a community.IMG_3486


Step Three

Editing.

Under my own rules of how I wanted this work to develop, they’ll be no development editing of the work. It’s done! Now I need to get the work polished and hunt out those pesky typos, or mistakes as a good friend calls them! It’s the area I’m weakest at so I have to rely on my wife to do it for me and she’s a busy lady so I’m trying to be patient.

I’ve also decided to look through the work again myself and I’m glad I did. Although I’m not breaking my own rule set out above, I am changing more of the words and phrases than I thought I would have too. The edit is now completed

I’m revisiting the subject of development editing again. I’ve had some feedback, one comment on my previous update, about the work benefiting from a development edit to get some of the sentence structure until control and I won’t lie, I’m torn. I guess this is a question of my motivation. This has never been about money, making it or spending it. I know only 20% of authors actually make a living out of writing and that’s not going to be me. I have a good full time job and I’m not looking to replace it. I write because I enjoy creating worlds and telling the story then soaking up my reader’s reactions. Publishing for me is all about getting the work out to a wider audience and hoping more people like it than don’t.

The question is would a development edit turn the work into something else, would spending £800-£1,000 turn this into a money pit whereby I need it to be a success so I’m not just throwing good money away.

However if I don’t get it edited and it ruins people’s enjoyment, can I handle the criticism, the bad reviews? What would that do to my writing confidence when the work is out in the big wide world for anyone to read and tell me exactly what they think about it?

I need to think on!

Had a comment from one of my first readers over the weekend and he spotted a section early on in the book which jarred with him. I totally agree with what he said, but it was an easy fix. I’d rather hear it from him than a reviewer!


Step Four

The Publishing Process.

Figure out how the hell I’m going to get this published on Amazon. I want to publish as an e-book and also use Amazon’s print-on-demand service. CreateSpace. So I’ve bought the top selling books on the subject from Amazon which the reviews seem to think will guide me through the process! Lots and lots to learn here, so much more information to be added.

It seems that using an Amazon Print on Demand services was the right choice from what I’ve read so far and much easier to format the work this way and then publish for Kindle. Plus it’s free to get your book on the shelves and if you want a copy it only costs the price of the book through the Amazon store. However I’d assumed I’d be using CreateSpace, but during my research I discovered KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). This is also a service from Amazon and from what I’ve read it seems a newer and improved service, with benefits to those authors outside of the UK. This calls for more research!

KDP vs CreateSpace – The advice is clear – KDP is the emerging technology which almost provides the same service as CreateSpace, plus it has the added advantages of providing one log-in for Kindle and POD sales, plus author proof copies are posted from the UK which keeps the costs down and the timescales low. I’ve signed up to KDP, so I guess the journey begins here and I’m logging all the steps in preparation for the possible future post.

It seems I may be missing out if I just publish on Amazon. I need to look at other publishing outlets and using a platform called Smashwords seems to be the way to go. You just publish to the Smashwords platform and they do all the rest. I’ve had a look at the service and it seems reasonable and again is free. They have their own style guide which I need to read and in conjunction with any similar guide I’m assuming Amazon has to, which I’ll get on to later. Many thanks for the comments on my last update post which led me down this avenue!

I’ve started to read through the publishing books and straight away new tasks are popping out:

  • Decide on the title. Is it right?
  • Same too for the strap line.
  • Come up with the blurb. Now that is a daunting task!!
    • Amazon recommends around 150 words which are easy to scan. This is the project i’m now working on!
  • Come up with Keywords and Categories so people can find it when it’s sitting on the virtual shelves. Amazon is basically a search engine after all.
  • Acknowledgements
  • I need to decide if I want to pay hundreds for my own ISBN I can use across all editions or just use the free Amazon one / free with Smashwords too, but you they would be different.
  • Figure out what i’m going to put in the back end of the book. Options include:
    • A call to action for Season Two
    • Short Biography
    • A link to my WordPress pages / Facebook
  • Back page cover image. Hadn’t thought of that!
  • Read the style guides for the publishing platforms and make any changes needed.
  • Research and make all those little decisions about how the book will look, like chapters, fonts, size etc.
  • I’ve downloaded the template from KDP and along with everything else I’m formatting the document. More on this in a later post. As I work on this in MS Word I’m finding a few more editing issues which Word is picking out, so now the Word document is my master.

Other publishing things to think about:

  • Kindle Unlimited – Amazon’s lending library whereby you get paid per page. Figure out what are the pro’s and con’s.

Step Five

Marketing.

Continue to build the community and market the book. Lots to learn here. So far my marketing strategy consists of:

  • Preparing a Amazon product / home page for the book
  • Blogging (as above) – World building and about the process
  • Writing Season Three and releasing on WordPress as I did with Season One and Two.
  • Find a way to get people to provide reviews of the published book
  • Print and send out author copies for review

Other decisions to make:

  • Investigate Goodreads as a promo platform

Step Six

Hit the publish button!

I’ll take Season One off WordPress and add in my own advertising to link to the book on Amazon. Lots more to learn here.


In parallel with all the above I’ll be doing the same for Season Two and writing Season Three. I’ve made a decision not to start working on Season Three until the book is released and I can put all my energy back in to writing again. 

Want to read Season One before I take it down? Here it is.

If I’ve made some massive misjudgement, missed out any step or you just have some advice, then please let me know in the comments.

Bug Out Bag: Water, Water Everywhere: But it might just kill you!

As part of my Bug Out Bag series, today I’m looking at another key task the kit in my bug out bag needs to perform. Water Purification.

When I started researching this post I thought I knew everything I was going discuss and I would just be topping up my knowledge, but I was wrong. My research revealed many surprises which could have left me in serious trouble if I hadn’t prepared properly when it came to a time when I needed the bag. I’ve never been more thankful to the water utility provider I’ve always taken for granted!

In the UK we’re very lucky to have some of the cleanest water in world delivered to our sinks and toilets with just a turn of a wheel and we take no time to think of the process, the treatment and the effort which goes into making sure we don’t get sick every time we take a sip. But out there, out in the wild, we need to think about what’s in the water which could make us very, very ill and all at a time we need to be at the peak of our fitness and the peak of our awareness or we just won’t survive.

So what’s in the water?

IMG_0311
Does it look clean to you?

The majority of the problems start and finish with poo. Yes, animal faeces, plus if the wilderness gets crowded we’ll need to concern ourselves with a growing problem of human faeces too. In a disaster scenario, the first priority is get safe, the second priority is to stop people from dying by giving them access to clean water and effective sanitation.

Why?

I’m no biologist, so the majority of the information in this post is taken either from the Centres For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, see link the below, and the product information for the LifeStraw.

https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/travel/backcountry_water_treatment.html

Parasiteswater_parasites

Their technical name is Protozoa and we’re concerned with two common types, Cryptosporidium and Giardia Intestinalis. These organisms can cause nasty gastrointestinal illness, such as vomiting, cramps and diarrhoea in a healthy person, but much worse in someone with a compromised immune system.

Bacteriakoli-bacteria-123081_1920

Most of us would have heard of these culprits from limited outbreaks which make the news. Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella and E Coli. If you’ve ever had food poisoning then you’ll take this risk seriously. You’ll be lucky to get away with forty-eight hours of being unable to move from the toilet and the bucket, but imagine if you’re trying to run for your life at the same time!

Virusesvirus-1812092_1920

As a sixteen year old in the welsh hills my dad was hiking with his friends, he needed to drink from a stream and so walked against the flow for a kilometre and having found nothing of concern, he walked back again to take his drink. It was only when he headed home following the same stream he came across a rotting sheep in the river two kilometres from where he’d drunk.

I’m not sure how long after, but he was soon rushed to hospital and within days he was in a coma, diagnosed with meningitis. He survived, but suffered severe nerve damage along one side of his body, leaving him with poor sensation in his extremities. Thankfully he went on to live a full life and is still around to tell the tale.

Enterovirus, hepatitis A, norovirus, rotavirus, meningitis, could all be present in the water and along with giving you a real bad time in your stomach, the damage to your health could be much more serious and long term.

What does it mean for us?

fittings-2784899_1920
Will it fit in your pack?

We treat the water before we drink it. Seems obvious and it is, but what isn’t so clear is how we treat it. Before my research I thought the best way to treat water would be with chemicals. I’d tried this in the past, buying tablets to dissolve in the water, but its taste made me keen to find a better way.

What I found in my research surprised me and I’ve summarised for you all below.

The main ways to treat water start with a pre-filter. This means straining away the larger bits you can see, like plant life, bugs, dead & alive and larger bits of dirt and debris. I think coffee filters will be great for this, or nylon clothes would do just as well. We’ll look at the best choice in a later post. Pre-filtering does nothing to the nasties in the water, so now we’ll look how me neutralise what’s lurking to feed off your insides.

LifeStraw®_Personal_Water_Filter_for_Hiking__Camping__Travel__Backpacking_Outdoor_Sports_and_Emergency_Preparedness__Removes_Bacteria_and_Protozoa__5-__2-_or_1-pack__Amazon_co_uk__Sport
LifeStraw® Personal Water Filter

Rolling Boiling – This means continuously boiling the water. CDC recommend one minute of boiling, other sources recommend longer. The kit for doing this is in the bag, but it’s not quick and uses your valuable fuel or even more time gathering wood. The water will taste much like it did before you boiled it.

Filtration – With no pre-filtering required, we’re not just getting rid of what you can see, we’ll remove the nasties from the water, too. Different filter sizes are required to remove different contaminants, with the smallest being 0.3 microns. Quite literally this means the contaminants larger than the hole size won’t fit through and be drawn into your mouth. Currently there is nothing in the bag to do this, but a good example of the water filtration system is the LifeStraw discussed in my Battering for Your Life post.

Chemical Treatment / Disinfection – There are three common types of chemical treatment. Iodine, Chlorine and Chlorine Dioxide. All types of treatment are relatively common and available as either tablets or in liquid form, with the later being the result of mixing two liquids together. Chlorine Dioxide treatment is among the most common form of treatment used by municipal water authorities for the water in your pipes.

Each of the different treatment methods have varying effectiveness against the different hazards and I have summarised the information below, including the LifeStraw Personal on the right hand side as a good example of shop ready filtration method.

 

Hazard
Symptoms
Effectiveness of treatment
Pre-filtration & Boiling (1 minute)
Filtration
Iodine / Chlorine
Chlorine Dioxide
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter (0.2 micron)
Protozoa – Cryptosporidium
Vomiting, cramps, diarrhoea
Very High
High (1 micron)
None
Low to Mod
Very High
Protozoa – Giardia intestinalis
Vomiting, cramps, diarrhoea
Very High
High
(1 micron)
Low to Mod
High
Very High
Bacteria
Vomiting, cramps, diarrhoea
Very High
High
(0.3 micron)
High
High
Very High
Virus
Vomiting, cramps, diarrhoea, nerve damage, death
Very High
None
High
High
None*
Chemicals
Limitless
None
None
None
None
None
Salt Water (Ocean, Brackish)
Dehydration, death
None**
None
None
None
None

* LifeStraw Mission – There is a version of the LifeStraw which is effective against viruses and chemicals, called the LifeStraw Mission. It has a much larger water capacity, but is however designed for use within a community and its price tag is over five times that of the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter.

** Salt Water – None of the methods listed above provide the ability to make salt water drinkable. Salt water is not drinkable because the kidneys are unable to make urine which has more salt than is present in salt water, therefore you need more water to process the salt content and you quickly become dehydrated. The salt needs to be removed from the water before you ingest it and we’ll cover this in a later post where we explore how to obtain drinking water when it’s not so obvious.

lake-2063957_1920

Conclusion

The main education I take from researching this post is the filtration method, specifically the LifeStraw. It doesn’t give you protection from viruses, but does give you a high degree of protection from the rest of the biological hazards. To me it’s clear, where you are able you should be pre-filtering, then boiling your water for at least one minute, but where you cannot achieve this, water should be collected, treated with Chlorine Dioxide tablets, then drunk through the LifeStraw or some other filtration device. This will give you a good level of protection against what might be lurking in the water source you stumble upon after hours of running for your life.

So in the bug out bag we’re adding the LifeStraw, but we’re also going to add a whole heap of Chlorine Dioxide tablets for when we don’t have a chance to get the burner roaring.

Like what you see here? Why not take a look at my other posts where I discuss the contents of the bug out bag.

So what do you think? Let me know your thoughts or stories in the comments.


In the End…Why not read about what happens to IMG_3486a group of friends whose world collapses around them, forcing them to make difficult decisions just to stay alive. It’s not going to be comfortable, or an easy ride. Find out if they’ve got what it takes to survive when they’re no longer at the top of the food chain…

Here’s Season One to get you started!

Bug Out Bag: All Alone on a Cold Night

It’s a cold night and you’re all alone.

You wake to the sound of a noise alien to your ears.

Why are footsteps rustling leaves in your bedroom?

You remember you’re not in your house after all. Below you is not the comfy bed calling you back to a slumber. Instead the ground is hard, the air cold on your face. The noise comes again and you realise you’re in a forest somewhere, the ache in your legs reminding you of the long journey from danger, your travel in a vague direction without a compass. The wind confirms the thin layer of canvass between you and whatever’s making those footfalls, whatever’s cracking those twigs.

You reach to your side, pulling your hand from out of your sleeping bag and into your pack. Your fingers twitch around the contents, search out the reassuring touch of what?

Your heart rate spikes, adrenaline courses as you try to remember what you packed in your bug out bag for just this scenario?


As part of my Bug Out Bag series, today I’m looking at another key item of kit in my bug out bag. Self defence.

Whilst preparing this post I put the question to my friends and I had some great suggestions, but in the end it descended into a list of harrowing weaponry, leaving me surprised when no one mentioned packing a tank!

panzer-2466145_1280.png

The Criteria

As with everything in the bag, it needs to be light and portable and worth the space it takes up, so anything that’s multi-purpose has a significant advantage. Of course it needs to work well as a weapon. We’re talking self defence here and we need to know its ability to pierce skull!

I’m based in the UK, so I’ll say this right from the start. We can’t get guns legally. Can’t carry them. Can’t have them at home, so I’ve left them out of this review. However, if I lived in the US or somewhere where I could carry a gun in the kit, then of course it would be straight in there. With that covered, I’ll move on.

To start I’ve taken all the suggestions, added a few old favourites and a few of mine, some of the more reasonable suggestions from my friends and listed them below. Later we’ll look at some good examples in a bit more detail and see how they fair.

Domestic Items (Including Tools)

IMG_4044

  • Claw Hammer
  • Crow bar
  • Handheld Mattock
  • Hatchet
  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Gas Powered Nail Gun
  • Chainsaw
  • Baseball Bat
  • Wit / Charisma
  • Pool Cue / Pool Balls in a sock
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Hunting knife

Weaponscrossbow-2959534_1280

  • Cross Bow
  • Tomahawk
  • Katana
  • Knuckle dusters
  • Shurikan / throwing star
  • Caltrops, made from nails

As with my previous posts on other items in the bug out bag, I’ve picked out key items, mainly those which are light and feasible to carry around, for discussion in a bit more detail below. Each item is scored from 0 to 5, with 5 being highest score. At the end we add the scores together to give us a total.

Here’s a reminder of the criteria we’ve decided to use:

  • Weight – The lighter the better, I’m sure you’ll agreed.
  • Lethality – For striking through the skulls of the undead.
  • Threat Factor – For putting off fellow survivors who might want to take your stuff.
  • Utility – What else could it be used for? The more uses the better.
  • Maintenance – Does it need to be maintained or take any fuel to keep it working?
  • Accessibility – How easy is it to get hold of for the bag?

Claw Hammer

It’s the current weapon in the bug out back and so is our reference, but can we do better?

  • Weight – 850 grams  – 3/5Amazon_co_uk__claw_hammer
  • Lethality – A blunt weapon one end and a penetrating claw the other side – 4/5
  • Threat Factor – You have to get close to use it, but it looks like it’s going to hurt – 4/5
  • Utility – Bring nails and it expands the possibilities – 3/5
  • Maintenance – Polish it if you want, but there’s nothing you need to do to make sure it can bring the pain – 5/5
  • Accessibility – You should already have one, unless you always get a man in! – 5/5

Score = 24 / 30


Multi-Axe

Whilst researching axes and hatchets to review I came across this bad boy. It’s an axe, it’s a hammer, nail puller and a pry bar! The reviews indicates the axe arrives dull, but it’s very easy to sharpen, which is great on one hand, but shows it wouldn’t be as good as a fully fledged axe.

  • Weight – 1kg grams  – 2/5Amtech_A3380_Multi-Axe__Clear__Amazon_co_uk__DIY___Tools
  • Lethality – Even a blunt axe will do a lot of damage – 4/5
  • Threat Factor – Not as striking as some of the other weapons, but like the hammer it looks like it’s going to hurt – 4/5
  • Utility – It’s a four in one tool, each role being a compromise over the dedicated tool, but for a third of the weight – 5/5
  • Maintenance – It’s going to need regular sharpening, which means you’re going to need something to regularly sharpen it with – 4/5
  • Accessibility – Very inexpensive from the online store – 5/5

Score = 24 / 30


Handheld Mattock

The micro mattock in my shed is cutter mattock, but I’ve also find the pick version pictured which seems more appropriate.

  • Weight – 700 grams – 4/5Roughneck_64011_Micro_Pick_Mattock_with_Fibreglass_Handle__Amazon_co_uk__DIY___Tools
  • Lethality – Easier to swing and with a sharp point on the end, it’s going to hurt – 5/5
  • Threat Factor – It’s sharp and pointy – 4/5
  • Utility – Dig stuff up. Knock stuff down – 4/5
  • Maintenance – Nothing needed other than cleaning off the muck – 5/5
  • Accessibility – If you haven’t already got one (I have) then you soon could have – 4/5

Score = 26 / 30


Gas Powered Nail GunAmazon_co_uk__gas_nail_gun

  • Weight – At nearly 5 kilos (11 lbs), it’s going to have to be worth it! – 1/5
  • Lethality – With a little modification it’ll fire the nails before your assailant gets in reach, but I doubt it would stop anything which didn’t have feelings – 2/5
  • Threat Factor – It’ll be painful and it looks like it’ll be painful – 4/5
  • Utility – Great for building a shelter and quick! – 5/5
  • Maintenance – You’re going to need a supply of nails and gas canisters – 1/5
  • Accessibility – Easy to buy, but it’s gonna cost you – 2/5

Score = 15  / 30


Wit / Charismawoman-3219507_1920

  • Weight – You’ve either got it or you haven’t and it you have it has no weight – 5/5
  • Lethality – You’re not going to charm the undead, but you just might convince fellow survivors you’re not a threat or worth bothering with – 1/5
  • Threat Factor – It’s the opposite. With the gift of the gab, you might get away with it – 2/5
  • Utility – If you’re any good then maybe you can convince them to give you stuff you need – 3/5
  • Maintenance – Keep it fed and watered and it might keep you safe for a while – 4/5
  • Accessiblity – You either have it or you don’t, and most don’t! – 2/5

Score = 17 / 30


Baseball Batbaseball-1646091_1920

  • Weight – It’s heavy and cumbersome, you’ll either have to carry it or strap it to your pack – 2/5
  • Lethality – It’s blunt so unless you’re super strong, you’re just going to have to swing again and again – 3/5
  • Threat Factor – I wouldn’t want it swinging in my direction – 4/5
  • Utility – You could always get a ball? – 2/5
  • Maintenance – None required – 5/5
  • Accessibility – Any sports shop will do, and there’s always the internet – 5/5

Score = 21 / 30


Hunting Knife71ytckcAdzL._SL1500_

  • Weight – We’ve got it in the kit already, so there’s no added weight – 5/5
  • Lethality – Get close enough and jab it in the right place and it’s going to do the job – 4/5
  • Threat Factor – No one wants holes where they weren’t before – 4/5
  • Utility – It’s already in the pack for so many reasons. Top score – 5/5
  • Maintenance – Keep it sharp and it should serve you well – 4/5
  • Accessibility – Although illegal to carry in the street, they’re easy to get hold of from the internet – 5/5

Score = 27 / 30


CrossbowAnglo_Arms_Cerberus_150lb_Short_Stock_Crossbow

  • Weight – Heavy at 2 kgs or 6 lbs and it won’t fit in your pack – 1/5
  • Lethality – A single shot can take them down and without getting close – 5/5
  • Threat Factor – I’m scared already and it’s only a picture – 5/5
  • Utility – Great for hunting, but not much else – 2/5
  • Maintenance – With moving parts and with a need for a supply bolts, it’s a low score – 1/5
  • Accessibility – Expensive, but easy to buy online – 2/5

Score = 16 / 30


Knuckle DustersFat-Boy-2-Camo-Belt-Buckle-Brass-Knuckle-Dusters

  • Weight – With negligable weight it’s a good score – 5/5
  • Lethality – You’re going to have to get up close and hit hard over and over – 2/5
  • Threat Factor – Difficult to see, you could easily pass this by – 1/5
  • Utility – Um? – 1/5
  • Maintenance – Nothing needed to keep it going – 5/5
  • Accessibility – Illegal in the UK, but can be bought online – 3/5

Score = 17 / 30


And the winner is?

I wanted the crossbow to come out well, but its cost, weight and the maintenance required has dragged the score right down. The outright winner is the hunting knife, which is already in the pack so it scored well on weight alone, but I don’t like the close contact its use would require. I’ll be adding the handheld mattock / pick to the bag. With a big swing it’ll deal with most ‘things’ that’ll come out you out in the wilderness, plus we’ve shaved a bit of weight over the hammer!


Honourable Mentions

Whilst discussing the ideas with my friends there were a few mentions about what we could look out for and scavenge as weapons if it all went to pot. Some of the more memorable are mentioned below:

  • Spray Can & Lighter – Both items are common in most homes and will give you a low power flame thrower! Light this baby up and you’ve got a ranged weapon I certainly would think twice about coming near. Just hope it doesn’t explode in your hand.
  • Wooden Spears – Use the knife to sharpen long straight lengths of wood. Collect a few and work on them in your rest time and you’ve got yourself a ranged weapon. With some practice you might be quite formidable.

Like what you see here, why not take a look at my other posts where I discussed the contents of the bug out bag.

If there’s anything else you want me to add to the comparison, then just mention it in the comments and I’ll take a look.


In the End…Why not read about what happens to IMG_3486a group of friends whose world collapses around them, forcing them to make difficult decisions just to stay alive. It’s not going to be comfortable, or an easy ride. Find out if they’ve got what it takes to survive when they’re no longer at the top of the food chain…

Here’s Season One to get you started!

My Publishing Journey – An Update – So much to do!

The latest version of this post is available here.

I’m about to embark into the unknown world of self-publishing my first book, In The End. Here I document my honest journey so far and the steps I think I’ll need to take. I’ll repost each time I have any major update or when I learn something new or if anyone comments with some useful or important information.

This is the first update after a week of activity on the project. All the updated sections are highlighted in blue.

Expected Publication Date – Autumn / Fall 2018


Step One

Write the book. DONE


Step Two

Build a following. Build a community.IMG_3486


Step Three

Under my own rules of how I wanted this work to develop, they’ll be no development editing of the work. It’s done! Now I need to get the work polished and hunt out those pesky typos, or mistakes as a good friend calls them! It’s the area I’m weakest at so I have to rely on my wife to do it for me and she’s a busy lady so I’m trying to be patient.

I’ve also decided to look through the work again myself and I’m glad I did. Although I’m not breaking my own rule set out above, I am changed more of the words and phrases than I thought I would have too. In the last week I’ve got through about three quarters of the chapters and I’m really enjoying re-reading!


Step Four

Figure out how the hell I’m going to get this published on Amazon. I want to publish as an e-book and also use Amazon’s print-on-demand service. CreateSpace. So I’ve bought the top selling books on the subject from Amazon which the reviews seem to think will guide me through the process! Lots and lots to learn here, so much more information to be added.

It seems that using an Amazon Print on Demand services was the right choice from what I’ve read so far and much easier to format the work this way and then publish for Kindle. Plus it’s free to get your book on the shelves and if you want a copy it only costs the price of the book through the Amazon store. However I’d assumed I’d be using CreateSpace, but during my research I discovered KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). This is also a service from Amazon and from what I’ve read it seems a newer and improved service, with benefits to those authors outside of the UK. This calls for more research!

I’ve started to read through the books and straight away new tasks are popping out:

  • Decide on the title. Is it right?
  • Same too for the strap line.
  • Come up with Keywords and Categories so people can find it when it’s sitting on the virtual shelves. Amazon is basically a search engine after all.
  • Come up with the blurb. Now that is a daunting task!!
  • Acknowledgements
  • I need to decide if I want to pay hundreds for my own ISBN I can use across all editions or just use the free Amazon one.
  • Figure out what i’m going to put in the back end of the book. Options include:
    • A call to action for Season Two
    • Short Biography
    • A link to my WordPress pages / Facebook
  • Back page cover image. Hadn’t thought of that!

Step Five

Continue to build the community and market the book. Lots to learn here. So far my marketing strategy consists of:

  • Preparing a Amazon product / home page for the book
  • Blogging (as above) – World building and about the process
  • Writing Season Three and releasing on WordPress as I did with Season One and Two.
  • Find a way to get people to provide reviews of the published book
  • Print and send out author copies for review

Other decisions to make:

  • Investigate Goodreads as a promo platform

Step Six

Publish I guess. I’ll take Season One off WordPress and add in my own advertising to link to the book on Amazon. Lots more to learn here.


In parallel with all the above I’ll be doing the same for Season Two and writing Season Three.

Want to read Season One before I take it down? Here it is.

If I’ve made some massive misjudgement, missed out any step or you just have some advice, then please let me know in the comments.

 

Bug Out Bag: Bartering for Your Life!

As part of my Bug Out Bag series, today I’m testing another item key item of kit in my bug out bag. Items for bartering.

Thanks to James Norbury www.jamesnorbury.com for his thoughts and collaborations on this post. He’s an amazing artist and the great designer who produced the artwork for my latest book cover.

Why do we need to prepare to trade?

Can you predict the future? No. Nor can I. In an emergency situation I want to be light and agile which means I can’t carry everything for every possibility in the bag. So let’s face the fact we’re not able to know exactly what you’re going to need in a world where currency may no longer have value. The new currency will be whatever other people, often desperate people, need to survive or to make their life more comfortable.

So let’s look at what we could carry in the bag to use for bartering.

IMG_2445

Everything in the kit has value in a survival situation. That’s why it’s there. However here we’re talking about including items in the kit specifically for the purpose of trading. You’d need to think long and hard before trading something in the kit you’d spent lots of time and effect selecting!

My initial thoughts were to carry gold in small denominations, but James disagreed, suggesting spending £1,000 / $1,300 on gold coins was a waste of money when many more items with their own uses in the survival world could more valuable if people were stripped back to their barest needs. So here we are.

What gives value in a survival / emergency situation?

Demand! When considering how valuable items would be in a survival situation we would consider those items which fulfil the needs of people in the world, with the most valuable providing the basic needs for life such as water, fuel, first aid. After those needs have been satisfied it would be anything else which would make life easier or more comfortable, but it’s not all about the value. We have to consider many other factors as we make preparations for a situation we hope never happens.

Weight & Size

You’ve got to carry it on your back and you’re already carrying a lot. The lighter the better and the more of the item you can carry.

Utility

Whole you’re not trading it, can we use for something else?

Fragility

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Can it survive the journey? There’s no point taking eggs! They’ll crack the first time you fall over. If they survive the hike you better eat them before they turn bad.

Abundance in an emergency

How easy will the item be to get hold of in a survival situation? The less abundant, the higher the value.

Abundance Before it all goes wrong

We have to get hold of whatever it is now, so it’s a key consideration, including its value now.


Where do we start?

I’ve made a short list of all the types of items I think will become valuable in a survival situation.

  • Water / Food
  • Treats – Alcohol / Chocolate / Cigarettes
  • Cooking Equipment
  • Sanitary Items – Toilet Paper / Feminine Hygiene / Soap / Nappies
  • Weapons
  • Survival Items – Paracord / Compass
  • Medical Items – Dressings / Pain Killers / First Aid / Medication / Vitamins
  • Fire Supplies – Matches / Fire Steel / Cotton wool / Kindling
  • Hand Tools
  • Toothpaste / Toothbrushes
  • Amusements – Playing cards / Dice
  • Salt – For food preservation
  • Batteries
  • Pencils and Paper
  • Books
  • Seeds

I’ve picked out some key items, mainly those which are light and feasible to carry around, for discussion in a bit more detail below. Each item is scored from 0 to 5, with 5 being highest score. At the end I’ll add the scores together and the items with the highest score will be the winner.


Goldeuro-1353420_1920

  • Demand – Everyone wants gold, right? Maybe not when the world’s gone to the wall – 2/5
  • Weight & Size – 28 grams & very small – 5/5
  • Utility – 0/5
  • Fragility – It’s metal – 5/5
  • Survival Abundance – The banks won’t have their doors locked, but still – 3/5
  • Abundance Now – Easy to buy, but pricey – $1,300 / £1,000 for the 28 gram – 2/5

Score = 17 / 30


Razor Bladespepperoni-273985_640

  • Demand – With many uses, it’s a high score – 4/5
  • Weight & Size – 180 grams for 100 – 5/5
  • Utility – Many uses – 5/5
  • Fragility – Keep them dry & they should be okay – 4/5
  • Survival Abundance – Depends if you’re the first to break into the DIY store – 2/5
  • Abundance Now – They’re everywhere & £10 for a hundred – 5/5

Score = 25 / 30


Water Purification Straw

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LifeStraw® Personal Water Filter
  • Demand – High. Purifies 3,000 litres of clean water from any source! – 5/5
  • Weight & Size – 58 grams, but it’s 9 inches long. You won’t be able to carry many – 3/5
  • Utility – Only has one use, but it’s a good one, that’s why add already added one to the pack – 5/5
  • Fragility – It’s plastic, so a midway score – 3/5
  • Survival Abundance – Can only get them from an online or camping store, so would be near impossible when the internet or your luck is down. That’s good for the value – 5/5
  • Abundance Now – The internet is everywhere, only marked down for its £18 price tag – 3/5

Watch out for a future post about how to get clean water in a survival situation.

Score = 24 / 30


Antibiotics

  • Demand – High. They’ll save lives – 5/5
  • Weight & Size – Minimal – 5/5
  • Utility – Only one, but you might need them too. It’s not a perfect score because there are so many different types which fight different groups of bacteria – 4/5
  • Fragility – You’re going to have to look after them. Keep the safe and dry and they’ll have an expiry – 3/5
  • Survival Abundance – There’s a chemist / pharmacy in every town so at first they’ll be reasonably easy to get hold of – 3/5
  • Abundance Now – Prescription only, so difficult – 1/5

Score = 21 / 30


ChocolateyiOJ5AoySHCgNUp2x%SXXA

  • Demand – Medium. Who can resist? Maybe a drink of water first – 3/5
  • Weight & Size – Okay, but not as light as the blades – 4/5
  • Utility – You can eat it so many different ways, but… – 1/5
  • Fragility – Smack it around, crush it, get it a little wet and it’s still chocolate, but get it hot and it’s ruining the rest of your kit – 3/5
  • Survival Abundance – Store on every corner, still going to be easy to find in an urban environment, at first – 2/5
  • Abundance Now – Just add it to your weekly shop – 5/5

Score = 18 / 30


Toilet Paper

  • Demand – Only ultra-soft will do! – 1/5
  • Weight & Size – Lightweight, but even when you take out the tube, it’s bulky – 2/5
  • Utility – Help start fires, write notes you’re not too bothered about keeping… – 2/5
  • Fragility – You can throw it around in your pack, but don’t get it wet – 2/5
  • Survival Abundance – Once the local store is out, that’s it – 2/5
  • Abundance Now – Local store is full to the rafters – 5/5

Score = 14 / 30


Pain Killers / Vitaminspill-1884775_640

  • Demand – With a lack of food or water, these suckers will make things a lot easier and keep those middle age conditions at bay – 4/5
  • Weight & Size – Minimal – 5/5
  • Utility – Only one real use – 1/5
  • Fragility – Retained in their packaging they should keep safe from water and the shelf life is pretty long – 4/5
  • Survival Abundance – Who’s keeping the shop open when the lights go out? – 3/5
  • Abundance Now – Easy pickings, although the cost of vitamins is not to be sniffed at – 4/5

Score = 21 / 30


Batteriesbattery-1688883_640

  • Demand – High. Who can resist? – 4/5
  • Weight & Size – 10 AA batteries = 250grams & the box is bulky too- 2/5
  • Utility – So many things to power. Add in a bit of wire wool and you have yourself a fire – 5/5
  • Fragility – Keep them dry and you should be fine – 4/5
  • Survival Abundance – Rare as rocking horse poop – 2/5
  • Abundance Now – 30p per battery – 5/5

Score = 22 / 30


Salt

Those little salt satchels you get in fast food restaurants

  • Demand – Medium. Water first, then food, then shelter, then tasty food? – 2/5
  • Weight & Size – Minimal – 5/5
  • Utility – Preserve food. Keep the slugs away from where you sleep? – 2/5
  • Fragility – Can take the knocks, but it has to stay dry – 2/5
  • Survival Abundance – Like most things, they’ll be around in the first few days – 2/5
  • Abundance Now – Buy in bulk or get a decent pile for free. Start collecting now! – 5/5

Score = 18 / 30


And the winner is?

Razor blades, with the Water Purification Straw coming a close second. There’s many other great items which score high, so there’s lots to choose from and maybe the lesson here is to bring a range. Different objects will have different values to different people and you never know, to yourself too!


The list isn’t definitive, but the items I’ve looked at help to illustrate the various points.

If there’s anything else you want me to add to the comparison, then just mention it in the comments and I’ll take a look.

Keep an eye out for further posts testing the rest of the kit and see if I’ve made the right choices.


In the End…Why not read about what happens to IMG_3486a group of friends whose world collapses around them, forcing them to make difficult decisions just to stay alive. It’s not going to be comfortable, or an easy ride. Find out if they’ve got what it takes to survive when they’re no longer at the top of the food chain…

Here’s Season One to get you started!

Bug Out Bag: Cooking for Survival!

As part of my Bug Out Bag series, today I’m testing another item key item of kit in my bug out bag, the camping stove.

During years of hiking and camping I’ve used the Trangia Camping Stove together with methylated spirits for all my cooking needs, so I assumed it would be an essential addition to the bug out bag. However I always knew the key fault would be its reliance on a supply of liquid fuel. The fuel is heavy and would be difficult to source refills in an emergency situation. So inspired by a comment on a previous post, thank you thejohnhoman, I decided to look for a multi-fuel stove as another option.

After some research I opted to test the Wolfyok Outdoor Camp Stove with the MSR Alpine Stowaway Pot as an alternative to the Trangia.

The Wolfyok Outdoor Camp Stove can be used with either solid alcohol fuel tablets or burning firewood, or anything combustable. You simply stack the stainless steel components in different configurations in order to use the different fuels.

The Test

With a concrete slab placed on my decking, I set up the two stoves side by side and put them through their paces.

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But first a chance to learn from my stupidity

Before we dive into the results I want to issue a bit of a warning. Using the alcohol dish I thought it would be a great idea to put both stoves to the test on liquid fuel, so I poured the spirits into the metal dish, lit it with one strike of the flint and steel and only then thought about how I could put out the flame once I’d finished.

The Trangia comes with a cap which you drop on top of the burner when you’re done. It’s very safe and lets you save the unburnt fuel for next time. This is not so for the Wolfyok. Why was this you ask? I soon found out it was because it is not intended for use with liquid fuel. Once I’d compared the speed of boiling water on the same fuel, both comparing well, the Wolfyok only being a minute behind the Trangia, I decided it would be a great idea to drop a small lump of wood on top of the alcohol dish to extinguish the flame, an improvised version of the Trangia’s cap.

Looking back now I know it was a dumb thing to do, but at the time it seemed quite reasonable until the dish toppled, spilling the meths all over the cooker and the concrete slab (I was thankful for my forethought on that one!). I had to just leave the near invisible flame to burnt itself out, which it did in less than thirty seconds. Phew. I won’t be doing that again. Needless to say I won’t be included that test in the results below!

Okay, so now down to the results, split down by what I consider are the key aspects of performance in the context of an emergency bug out bag.


Portability

We all want a light bug out bag, right?

Much like the Trangia, all the components of the Wolfyok can be folded down to fit snuggly inside the MSR Alpine Stowaway 775ml pot, along with a single 80g pack of solidified alcohol tablets. The Trangia with no fuel is heavier by 100 grams / 3.5 ounces and larger when all packed down, taking up valuable space in the bag.

Winner – Wolfyok

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Wolfyok is quite a bit smaller than the Trangia when packed up

Cost

Let’s hope we don’t need it, so spend as little as you can.

  • Wolfyok & MSR 775ml Pot – £34 / $35
  • Trangia 25 – Kettle, 2 pan and 1 Fry Pan – £54 / $110
Prices approximate and correct on Amazon.com ($ price) & amazon.co.uk (£ price) as of June 2018.

Winner – Wolfyok – £19 / $75 Cheaper


Set Up

Speed and hassle for unpacking, setting up and deconstructing where you’re ready to move on.

Let’s call this one a tie. Both are simple to set up and deconstruct in no time at all.

Winner – Tie


 

Lighting

Getting the flame burning with a flint & steel

The Trangia is very simple to light. One or two strikes is all it needs.

Esbit_spirit_tables_4_grams__Amazon_co_uk__Sports___Outdoors

Wolfyok (Using Solid Alcohol Tablets) – With no luck lighting the alcohol with the flint and steel directly, I used lessons learnt from my recent post about fire in the wilderness and with a pinch of cotton wool taken from the kit, it lit with no hassle

 

 

IMG_3996

Wolfyok (Using with Wood / Twigs) – Okay, so here’s when the fun really started. I knew this would not be the simplest operation.

First I gathered dried twigs and set them in the burner around a ball of screwed up newspaper. I added kindling from my kindling block and then a pinch of cotton wool.

Strike one. Strike two. I had a flame, but it was going to take a bit more patience to light. So instead I put a single block of solid alcohol tab (half would probably have done) on top of the pile of wood and paper, then a pinch more of cotton wool and on the first strike it lit. Boom. Off it went. It was very smokey at first, but after a minute or so the flames roared and the smoke cleared.

Winner – 1st – Trangia

2nd – Wolfyok with Solid Alcohol blocks


 

Time to Boil

This test looks at how long it takes for each stove to boil the same quantity of water and secondly, how much fuel was used in the process, an important consideration if you need to carry the fuel with you.

Trangia – 6 mins and when done the fuel can be easily extinguished for later use. Total weight of fuel to boil in the kettle – 10g – Bottle standard fuel bottle has 500 grams – so could boil 50 times on one bottle.

Wolfyok (Solid Alcohol mode) – 8 minutes and having burnt through three tabs (12g), the water was just hot. I estimate it would take double the amount of tabs to boil (24g). For the same weight as the liquid fuel you would be able to boil water 21 times with the solid fuel.

Wolfyok (Wood burning mode) – with only one alcohol tab required (4g) and probably able to get away with 2g, the rest of the fuel would just need to be scavenged. Time to boil was 7 minutes. If you wanted to put the fire out before it burnt out by itself, you would need to use water, which if you weren’t next to a plentiful source then it could cost you dear. For the same weight of fuel you would get 250 uses.

Winner – Speed – Trangia

Winner – Fuel Efficiency – Wolfyok (Wood burning mode)

Using a fifth of weight of imported fuel plus it could still light it but would just be more time consuming.

 

Summary Table

  • Portability – Wolfyok
  • Cost – Wolfyok
  • Setup – Tie
  • Lighting – Trangia
  • Time to Boil – Trangia
  • Fuel Efficiency – Wolfyok

Winner

The results are in. In a survival situation the Wolfyok is the clear winner. It’s lighter, smaller, consumes less imported fuel and can be used without any need foe fuel which cannot be scavenged if needed. This means your pack will either be lighter so you can travel further, run away faster or use less energy, or have more space for other important items. Plus it’s considerably less expensive and you won’t feel quite so bad at leaving it inside your bug out bag, hopefully never having to use it.

The Trangia, although it is easier to use, which is great for camping and convenience, it’s  out of the bug out bag and the Wolfyok with MSR pot is in!

I haven’t updated the kit bug out bag contents yet as I’m planning a big update in the coming weeks after a load of testing posts you’ll see soon.

In the End…Why not read about what happens to IMG_3486a group of friends whose world collapses around them, forcing them to make difficult decisions just to stay alive. It’s not going to be comfortable, or an easy ride. Find out if they’ve got what it takes to survive when they’re no longer at the top of the food chain…

Here’s Season One to get you started!

Fire! A test for survival!

The next instalment testing the contents of my bug out bag: How to start a fire!

The essentials for survival: Water, Warmth & Food.

It’s no secret that the key ingredients to successful survival are clean drinking water, shelter from the elements, including warmth, and the ability to cook any food you can catch, but unless you’re stranded in a supermarket, for each of these you’re going to need a good fire.

The reality:

Fire can clean dirty water, keeps you warm, cooks your food and is a great moral booster. To survive in most emergency situations which require you to live outside your home, you must make sure the ability to make fire is contained within any bug out bag.

So how do you start a fire?

Fire_triangle_-_Wikipedia

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

We need the three elements of the fire triangle. We have oxygen in abundance, so all we need to consider is the heat and fuel.

Fuel: Why not just use wood and a bit of rolled up newspaper? I hear you say. The idea is sound in theory, but in practice wood is heavy and you wouldn’t want to encumbered lugging around, sapping all your energy and slowing any journey. With a little luck it might be available where you intend to camp, or in an urban situation you may be able to find some other fuel, such as cardboard. Newspaper on the other hand burns very quickly and it great to help get a fire established, but it easily ruins if it gets damp.

Heat: A lighter, now that’s a good idea. Or is it? Lighters need fuel and they’re no good in the wet. Same with matches, there’s only a finite supply. So what should you carry in the bug out bag instead?

To start a fire, you generally need two types of fuel. A lightweight material which burns quickly, but catches alight with ease, and then a slower burning material which can really establish the heat, but often is more difficult to catch. In a non-emergency scenario, such as camping, a liquid fuel is both easy to light and will provide a hot flame, but the flame is only localised enough to boil a kettle of water, i.e. in a camping stove like the Trangia. When you want a full blown fire, you need tinder and heavy logs. Ideally you need a few different types of tinder, fast and slower burning, so once you’ve go a flame, it won’t burn through all the easily burning material quicker than you can get your main fuel to catch and get the fire roaring for the long night.

In my bag I recently added a resinated block of wood bought from a famous online store. It’s waterproof and with a knife you can easily carve off shavings to give yourself tinder. Or that’s what the label says! Yes the block of wood has a label. Yes I bought a block of wood from Amazon, telling myself it was special wood and well worth the price!

Now to the heat. A flint and steel does the job every time. You can use it to light your camping stove with a liquid fuel and is great as a source of ignition in many survival situations. It’s lightweight, you can use it if it gets wet and it will never run out.

So gather up some dried wood, put the knife, tinder block and the flint and steel together and you’ve got everything you need. Right? I’ve never actually done this before, so one sunny afternoon I thought I’d put it to the test.

IMG_3537

It didn’t work.

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The thousand degree sparks kept coming, but there was never any danger the wooden shards would catch. It soon became obvious I needed something which would catch much quicker and just at the time I was scratching my head, out walks my fourteen-year-old daughter into the garden where I sat frustrated around the flame free fire pit. 

“In girl guides we used cotton wool,” she said and walked back away from my huddle, warm only from the sun pouring down. Okay, I thought. Couldn’t hurt to try. I live in a house with three woman so we must have cotton wool somewhere. Five minutes later I return outside with a massive bundle of the stuff in my hands, ready and kinda hoping this wasn’t going to work. I pinched a ball from the end, carefully placing it on top of the resin soaked tinder.

Strike one. It didn’t catch and I felt a certain feeling of victory in my stomach.

Strike two. Still nothing, but now I felt the victory turning to frustration. If this wasn’t going to work then what would?

Strike three. Nothing. But wait, the edge of cotton wool went black, then within a breath a flame sprung to life, soon catching on my wood from Amazon. I had a flame and if this was a real situation, I had time to add the main fuel, I had time to get a proper warming, water boiling, meat cooking fire going!

I was impressed, as was my daughter too, who I caught watching out of her bedroom window, looking at me with a smile bright on my lips. I nodded. Yes, I’d give her the victory and shouted a well done as she disappeared back out of view.

So there it is. Two lessons learnt.

Lesson One. A pinch of cotton wool in a baggy, maybe two for good measure, is a great edition to the bug out bag.

Lesson Two. Test your kit. Know how it works, then modify and overcome the challenges when you’re comfy at home so it will work if you every really need to rely on it.

And maybe there’s a third in there somewhere…talk to your kids. Listen to what they say! Take pride when they’re right and know more about a subject than you!

Here’s a list of the rest of the kit, which I’ve updated with the baggies of cotton wool!

Keep an eye out for further posts testing the rest of the kit and see if I’ve made the right choices.

In the End…Why not read about what happens to IMG_3486a group of friends whose world collapses around them, forcing them to make difficult decisions just to stay alive. It’s not going to be comfortable, or an easy ride. Find out if they’ve got what it takes to survive when they’re no longer at the top of the food chain…

Here’s Season One to get you started!

My Publishing Journey – The Beginning

The latest version of this post is available here.

I’m about to embark into the unknown world of self-publishing my first book, In The End. This is my honest journey so far and the steps I think I’ll need to take. I’ll repost each time I have any major update or when I learn something new or if anyone comments with some useful or important information.

Expected Publication Date – Autumn / Fall 2018


Step One

Write the book. DONE


Step Two

Build a following. Build a community.IMG_3486

  • Release chapters of the book to the world on WordPress. DONE – A new chapter released each day. Season Two published in the same way.
  • Blog about the world. Write blogs about all kinds of things to do with the world the book is set in. Our world, but there’s a terrible disease and life has just become a whole lot harder!
  • Blog about the process. That’s what this is all about!
  • Get WordPress followers, get Facebook followers and build excitement about the book’s release
  • Commission a cover – DONE

Step Three

Under my own rules of how I wanted this work to develop, they’ll be no development editing of the work. It’s done! Now I need to get the work polished and hunt out those pesky typos, or mistakes as a good friend calls them! It’s the area I’m weakest at so I have to rely on my wife to do it for me and she’s a busy lady so I’m trying to be patient.


Step Four

Figure out how the hell I’m going to get this published on Amazon. I want to publish as an e-book and also use Amazon’s print-on-demand service. CreateSpace? So I’ve bought the top selling books on the subject from Amazon which the reviews seem to think will guide me through the process! Lots and lots to learn here, so much more information to be added.


Step Five

Continue to build the community and market the book. Lots to learn here. So far my marketing strategy consists of:

  • Blogging (as above) – World building and about the process
  • Writing Season Three and releasing on WordPress as I did with Season One and Two.
  • Find a way to get people to provide reviews of the published book

Step Six

Publish I guess. I’ll take Season One off WordPress and add in my own advertising to link to the book on Amazon. Lots more to learn here.


In parallel with all the above I’ll be doing the same for Season Two and writing Season Three.

Want to read Season One before I take it down. Here it is.

If I’ve made some massive misjudgement, missed out any step or you just have some advice, then please let me know in the comments.

Kit List for Emergency Kit / Bug Out Bag

Up to date and maintained list of the essential kit for an emergency situation or scenario. Find out how it fairs here.

Tangia Camping Stove – This trusted weatherproof camping stove has been in development since the 1940s and I’ve been using them for 24 years for all sorts of camping and family days out. It’s light, weatherproof, fast to put together and to take down too and it’s super quick to boil water in the provided kettle.

Fire Steel – Lightweight and able to use in all weathers for lighting the stove and making a traditional fire too.

Two Baggies of Cotton Wool – Recently added as fast burning tinder when I found out wood shaving just wouldn’t do the job alone.

Proper Knife – I’ve ditched the folding fruit knife for something more substantial. Great for carving wood and helping to make a shelter, plus more comforting when I don’t know what I’ll face while I’m out there and the world has gone to the dogs.

Dry bags – Keeps your stuff dry, need I say more?

Wooly hats and gloves – It’s January and a few months away from fifteen degrees celsius during the day.

Wash Kit – A compact kit with toothbrush and paste. You want to look after your teeth. I for one don’t fancy self extracting a tooth!

Low light torch – With four colours of light to select from, it’s great for keeping yourself concealed and not damaging your sensitive night vision when you use it. Who knows what’s going to be hunting you down at night?

Wind up Torch – Works without batteries. Enough said?

Clothes – Quick dry trousers, essential in any weather. Layers of technical clothes, the best way to stay warm. Hiking socks are a no brainer for comfort.

Water – As well as bringing as much as you can carry, NHS guidelines are for 1.2 litres per day to keep dehydration at bay, but you will need a constant supply. If the water is contaminated in a nuclear fallout, there’s not a great deal sterilisation and filtering can do, but in every other circumstance a filtration straw will let you filter up to 2,000 litres / 530 gallons direct from the source. It’s a no brainer.

Sleeping bag – It’s small, lightweight and three season. Should deal with most of what the English weather can throw at me as long as I have shelter.

Tent – Again, small and portable, weighing just over 2kg / 4.4lbs it gives options for where I can eventually go.

Paracords – With boundless uses in survival situations and lightweight, it’s a must.

Emergency Kit – Contains 21 different items to help you survive, including a fishing line and hook, tinder and a knife, all wrapped in woven paracord.

Passport – You never know. In an emergency I’m sure the rules would be relaxed, but when it all settles down, if it ever does, then it would make resettling so much easier, if there’s anything left. Keep positive. Probably the most important lesson.

Cash & Gold Coins – When the world comes down around your shoulders the cash will be of use, but only in the short term. If the shit really hits the fan, its jewellery, precious stones and metals that hold all the bartering value. Gold is easy for anyone to recognise their value. Gold will always be in demand, even when states fail. Buy small denominations, 4 grams half Sovereigns or 8 gram Sovereigns or American Quarter Eagles so you don’t have to pay a higher price for the want of change.

Hammer – It’s heavy, but has many uses, including as a weapon, helping to build a shelter or to break into an abandoned supermarket to restock supplies if it really goes down.

Paracetamol – Access to doctors may be limited. Pain could be a new feature of life. Whether it’s a strain from walking, a headache or problems with your teeth, you’ll be glad of bringing plenty of these lightweight tablets with you, plus they’ll be great for bartering if you have spare.

Food – Dense, dry ingredients are best. Even better are those that don’t need water to eat. Tinned goods are next because they’ll last so long, it’s been shown they’ll last long after their official expiration date, but they’re heavy and too many will weigh you down. Chocolate and sugar dense sweets are great too, but only if you’re taking care of your teeth, access to dentists may be limited, if available at all.

Emergency Rations – In their simplest form they are high calorie biscuits which in emergency situations can sustain one person for 72 hours. They have a five year shelf life, but will still keep the calories after. At half a kilo, they’re heavy, but worth the weight.

Nails – I’m bringing a hammer so why not long nails too? Gives me options for building shelters.

Hand sanitiser – It won’t last long, but used sparingly it will help stave off stomach bugs, plus it’s flammable.

Batteries – The more the merrier. The torch is useless without them and can help start a fire if needed. Consider candles, but only to be used when inside a shelter, not a tent!

Emergency Blankets – Only single use, but can keep you warm if you fall into a river, giving you enough chance to recover.

Alcohol – Full of calories and a treat to keep you warm at night.

Vitamins – If food is scarce, these will be a handy top up. Lightweight too. Empty out the paracetamol from their packets and pile them in the vitamin bottle to save space.

Antihistamines – If you suffer from hay fever then it’s a must, but also useful for bee stings and for all things that go bump in the night. It likely won’t save your life, but if you’re going to be living outdoors for the next few months, they could make it a lot more bearable.

Wind up radio – You can get them with solar power too, plus USB charge to give you that first kick start, plus they come with powerful emergency lights. Keep on top of the latest details of the emergency.

Compass – Even without a proper map you can travel in a vague direction and keep yourself on a course. Overlooked first time around, but invaluable, especially if you already have one.

Camping mattress – It may seem trivial, but not when you’re lying on the cold hard ground trying to sleep with one eye open.

IMG_3486In the End…Why not read about what happens to a group of friends whose world collapses around them, forcing them to make difficult decisions just to stay alive. It’s not going to be comfortable, or an easy ride. Find out if they’ve got what it takes to survive when they’re no longer at the top of the food chain…

Season One

Your Ten Minutes are Up!

The pack’s on my back, my hand on the door handle, but I pause before I pull down and rush back to the phone, my finger jabbing at the digits for the second time. There’s still no answer. They’re doing what I should be doing. Running.

Pulling open the door, I hang back behind the threshold. I look left, look right and my brain freezes, I have no idea where I’m going. The only decision I’ve made is to go it alone and not follow the crowd. If this thing is a contagious disease, if it’s an invasion or reanimated bodies wandering the streets, I want to be well away from everyone else. That said, I need to meet with my friends. We’d talked about this, usually drunk in the pub. Someone mentioned Ikea Southampton would be the place to go, plenty of beds right? Then again, I think I suggested there’d be no food and it would be a terrible place to defend, so big and in a major city. That idea’s a bust, but I can’t remember if we decided somewhere else.

The only other place we ever talked about was Dartmoor, somewhere we’d spent so many weekends. It’s desolate, deserted and full of wildlife, well ponies. I just hope they have the same idea.

I walk to the car, holding back from opening the door, the keys in my hand and the street is clear, the road quiet. For a moment I wonder, did I dream all this?

I jump in the car, having decided to drive as far as the quarter tank of diesel will take me, about a third of the hundred and eighty miles if my estimate is sound. Just then I notice people streaming from their houses, some with packs on their backs, others surrounded with stuff in their hands, shoving duvets into car boots, loading furniture on roof racks. Traffic is already building and I can wait no longer. Why am I waiting at all?!

I turn off my street and into a trading estate; the road is blocked with traffic trying to head the same way. I turn the car around before I get to the back of the queue. The road’s blocked going the other way now too. I pull over to the side of the road, lock the car and start my journey on foot. People are still streaming out of their houses, I try not to look them in the eye, try not to judge their decisions, try not to think of those people in developing countries you see on the news carrying their whole life on their heads. I avoid their paths, the clutter of their possessions strewn along the road, dropped by the side of their cars as they try to pack everything in. They won’t get away before it’s too late. I resist the urge to shout for everyone to run, to get out of here as quick as they can, like the alert said.

Diverting through a park, the pedestrian traffic is much less, but as I leave one road behind, the angry shouts and the call of car horns are ready to greet me on the other side. I live in the suburbs of a town and it’s about 3 miles, 4 km, until the map looks green from above, so I divert north west, knowing I need to get away from the buildings, or away from people as quick as I can.

My choice of pack, if not my choice of footwear, stands me in good stead for the light jog, diverting this way and that to avoid crowds who seem to surge together for safety, even though they’re shouting and hollering in each other’s faces. As time goes by and the buildings thin, I slow, wondering if whatever caused the alert has happened, was it all over, had the crisis really hit? I look to the cloudless sky, but seeing no meteors streaming down, seeing the sky empty of parachutes, or rockets raining down, or dust rising on the horizon, I think myself a little silly and slow, but not silly enough to turn around. That’s when I realise there is something missing from my kit. A radio, preferably a wind up, or solar powered.

I’m in a small wood a few miles from my house and I’ve seen only a scattering of people as I walk with my pace quick across a place I walked before, where I’d walked with family and friends, guided dogs sniffing every fallen leaf, pissing up every tree trunk. Now I don’t care for the scenery as the woods thin, the motorway in the distance, cars crawling along. I divert again, following parallel to the road, but trudging through field after field, tracking across fallow, boggy land to save the hazardous climb of fences never intended to make my journey easy.

My legs are tiring, the adrenaline has well and truly drained to nothing, leaving that horrible lethargic hangover. I want for company, this is the first time I’ve hiked with a pack on my back alone. I think of my friends as I stop to take a rest, pouring water down my throat, crunching on a cereal bar. I’d like to say it was the first of the trip as I spot an isolated house on the horizon. A farmhouse I guess. I could find out the latest, they probably won’t be there anyway, should be on the motorway I can see has been stationary since I’ve been following, about an hour now. With that I turn my Apple Watch to low power mode and check my phone, it’s been no use since I left, no bars, just a cross in the corner.

Dogs bark as I come out of the field and into the yard. I see cows peering over the side of their stalls, the smell of stale shit wafting, clawing at my throat as I arrive at the door, trying to listen past the animals going crazy the other side. There can’t be anyone at home, no car around, just a tractor parked under a canopy a short walk off. There’s no chance I’m getting in the house with those crazed animals. I walk off. It’s getting dark. It’s the winter and it’s only three in the afternoon, I’ve been on the road for a few hours already, the only thing keeping me heading forward is the thought of not being able to find somewhere to put the tent up whilst its light.

I walk the next hour scouring the land for somewhere good to stop, somewhere well away from the road, away from those who might abandon the route and try to find shelter. I don’t want them to find mine. I stop and pull off my pack after diverting south, trying to keep my heading in the vague direction of the motorway, thinking all the time I should have brought the compass my hand passed over when I was packing.

I stop with just enough light to find somewhere flat enough next to a hedge with the lights of the cars on the motorway just disappearing and with no other noise around, I can just about see the contents of the tent spread across the long, yellowing grass. I’m thankful for my choice of tent, it’s lightweight and pitches in less than two minutes single handed. It would just about fit two, so it’s easy to fit me and my pack. As I lay on the ground checking for stones underneath, I think of the extra weight a camping mat or self-inflating mattress would have added. It seemed like a luxury at the time, but not right now.

Sitting up on the grass, the tent’s too shallow to sit up inside, I hug myself, the cold biting now I’ve stopped. I unpack the pack, getting the Trangia roaring with a mugful of hot water, wishing I’d brought coffee. Instead I shove in the rice and let it warm through. It’s a good meal and I eat it with the stars already bright in the sky and I spend the next half an hour figuring out I could be on the road with all my supplies gone by the time I reach Dartmoor. Five days, four if I’m lucky. I will have to find out what this is all about, figure out if I should stock up or find civilisation again, find the safety of the shelter they talked about on the bulletin or if I’m already out of harm’s way.

I can’t wait any longer to zip up the tent, choosing to unfold the knife, it looks so short as I lay it beside the hammer, taking off my boots for comfort, hoping I won’t regret the decision. I lay there with my eyes closed and listen. A hunger builds, which I force myself to ignore, whist trying not to concentrate on every unnatural noise in the night, hearing alien sounds making my mind work overtime whilst longing for the camping mat as I try to shake off the cold rising from the ground.

Lessons Learnt

I’ve added the following to the kit list, a copy of which is available and updated here.

Wind up radio – You can get them with solar power too, plus USB charge to give you that first kick start, plus they come with powerful emergency lights. Keep on top of the latest details of the emergency.

Proper Knife – I’ve ditched the folding fruit knife for something more substantial. Great for carving wood and helping to make a shelter, plus more comforting when I don’t know what I’ll face while I’m out there and the world has gone to the dogs.

 

Compass – Even without a proper map you can travel in a vague direction and keep yourself on a course. Overlooked first time around, but invaluable, especially if you already have one.

Camping mattress – It may seem trivial, but not when you’re lying on the cold hard ground trying to sleep with one eye open.

It’s a real shame I didn’t pack these extras, but I’ve got plenty of time for my regrets as I shiver on the hard floor waiting to see what comes for me in the night….

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In the End…Why not read about what happens to a group of friends whose worldcollapses around them, forcing them to make difficult decisions just to stay alive. It’s not going to be comfortable, or an easy ride. Find out if they’ve got what it takes to survive when they’re no longer at the top of the food chain…

Season One

IN THE END…There was a book cover

I’ve been working with my good friend and mega talent James Norbury to design the cover of my book IN THE END which is being released next quarter. Today he delivered the proofing draft, but before I sign off on the final design for James to finish to perfection, I thought I’d see what the critics think before it’s too late!

Please don’t be shy, have your say, good, bad or ugly, let me know!

IMG_3486

Ten Minutes to Go!

You have ten minutes. Now go!

The phone has rung. The emergency message pinged on your mobile. The radio comes alive and the rolling TV news has only one story. It’s happened, come true, the end of civilisation. Natural disaster. World War III. Alien invasion. A fast spreading equine influenza jumping the species boundary, or just a plain old zombie apocalypse. If you’re lucky it’ll be only one. Either way, you’ve got to evacuate. You have ten minutes. Now go!

Information coming out of ground zero is sketchy, you’re not being told what’s going on. All you know is you’ve got to move. There’s a safe haven, but it’s miles away, you have to leave quick. Maybe you have your own ideas of where it would be best to hide out from the worst. The least you know is you’ve got to get out of the town, away from the cities, heading to the country, the national parks or up the tallest mountain. Anywhere that’s not going to make it easy for any infection to spread, or where a stray bomb or laser bolt is going to crash into your head.

It’s coming. For your best chance of survival you have to be quick.

So what do you take?

I’m not prepared, but still I did the test. I took ten minutes to jump around the house and grab what I could, racing to think what I could carry on my back, hoping there was enough to sustain me for longer than a few days.

I’m downstairs when the call comes. I’m prepared mentally because this is only a test so I don’t spend precious moments locked in search of answers, trying my best to come to terms with what it all means. Still, I take a few seconds. I’m the outdoorsy sort, I go hiking and walking with my friends every year. I’ve wild camped more times than I can count and had to dig a hole for my waste in the wilderness a few times, so this will be easy. Right? A minute’s gone before I’m upstairs pulling old clothes out of the wardrobe to get to my rucksacks. I discard the ninety litre pack I take on three day expeditions. Fully loaded it can carry an awesome amount of stuff, but it slows you down to a causal pace. I won’t be wanting to take in the scenery on this journey, I bet. Speed will be key, I might have to run from people, from things I’ve never met. So I settle for a day pack with half the capacity, but it’s waterproof, and with loads of pockets, a great compromise.

With eight minutes left I’m at the cupboard where I keep my camping gear pulling out a Trangia camping stove. It’s the first thing in my bag. On top I throw in a fire steel, a folding knife, dry bags, woolly hats and gloves, it’s still winter for a few weeks. A small first aid kit goes in too, as well a personal wash kit, some unopened beef jerky from another trip goes on top. I have a low light torch, a spork and a tin mug. I look at the deodorant and shower gel on the shelf next door, but leave as I walk away. I stuff in a sleeping bag and inflatable pillow, shocked the bag is almost full, but still pile in a small emergency kit on top.

I move to the dresser, swinging the pack over my shoulder, the sleeping bag spirals out and I clip it to the side of the bag. Grabbing a technical top and t-shirt, a fleece and quick dry trousers and we’re five minutes gone as I’m racing down the stairs. I try to stuff two large bottles of water in, realising there’s no chance, so I empty the contents of the bag onto the living room floor and run to the hallway cupboard. I tap in the code for the safe and repeat, this time in the right order and pull my passport and the small amount of cash I keep for emergencies. Intended more for a leaking pipe than the end of the world. I lock the door and think what next?

Food.

From the larder cupboard I grab packets of Uncle Ben’s rice. They’re pre-cooked, meant for a microwave, but they’re not bad heated on the Trangia and I can eat them cold if I must. I grab small tins of fish, mackerel and sardines, the latter of which I have no idea why they’re in there. I fill my arm with beans and cereal bars, nuts left over from Christmas. Passing by the bathroom, I add paracetamol and antihistamine too. Standing staring over the bag I take a moment, knowing I’m missing something big.

Shelter.

By the time I’ve found the shed keys and unlocked the back door, taking only seconds to look to the sky, pondering on how big the world suddenly seems, I’m unlocking the shed with just over a minute to go. Fighting to climb over everything in the way, a bike, tools and an office chair I have nowhere else to store, I eventually grab hold of a bottle of meths, it’s full and essential as the fuel for the Trangia burner. My eye falls on the tool rack and a claw hammer. Before I know it’s in my hand and I’m swinging it through the air in a way I never have before. It’s heavy, but I have a feeling it could be my new best friend. I pause to look around the shed, grab the small two man tent and panic that I didn’t pack it all inside the bags properly after it was last used. I haven’t got time to look now as the time counts down on my watch. The ten minutes is up and my new life is piled on the living room floor.

I take the extra time, another five minutes, pack everything in tight, discarding the pillow and grabbing my thick ski coat that’s never seen snow. Along with my hiking boots, I have everything at the door. I have to hope it wasn’t a hard deadline and remember I’m one of the lucky ones. I had warning.

So here’s what my kit looks like.

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Tangia Camping Stove – This trusted weatherproof camping stove has been in development since the 1940s and I’ve been using them for 24 years for all sorts of camping and family days out. It’s light, weatherproof, fast to put together and to take down too and it’s super quick to boil water in the provided kettle. However, for this situation the big drawback is the fuel. I run mine on methylated spirits, the purple liquid you get from the IMG_2453DIY store for cleaning brushes, and there’s gel available too, but the weight of the fuel is like that of water, so unless you’re cooking raw food or boiling water to make it safe, is it worth the weight and the hunt for a continuous supply? On balance it’s still coming with me, but it will be the first thing to ditch when the fuel runs out.

Fire Steel – Lightweight and able to use in all weathers for lighting the stove and making a traditional fire too.

Folding Knife – Useful for all sorts and kept in my pocket, not knowing what I’m facing when I open the front door.

Dry bags – Keeps your stuff dry, need I say more?

Wooly hats and gloves – It’s January and a few months away from fifteen degrees celsius during the day.

Wash Kit – A compact kit with tooth brush and paste. You want to look after your teeth. I for one don’t fancy self extracting a tooth!

Low light torch – With four colours of light to select from, it’s great for keeping yourself concealed and not damaging your sensitive night vision when you use it. Who knows what’s going to be hunting you down at night?

Clothes – Quick dry trousers, essential in any weather. Layers of technical clothes, the best way to stay warm. Hiking socks are a no brainer for comfort. On second thoughts I’d change into all this, rather than taking up room in my pack. There’s no room for spares, but this is survival, not a blind date.

Four Litres of water – NHS guidelines are for 1.2 litres per day to keep dehydration at bay. That gives me just over three days supply, but I’m expecting a long, arduous journey. It will probably last me two. I’m going to make finding more a priority. If there’s any space I’d do well to fit as much more in as I can.

Sleeping bag – It’s small, lightweight and three season. Should deal with most of what the English weather can throw at me, as long as I have shelter.

Tent – Again, small and portable, weighing just over 2kg / 4.4lbs it gives options for where I can eventually go.

Paracords – With boundless uses in survival situations and lightweight, it’s a must.

Emergency Kit – Contains 21 different items to help you survive, including a fishing line and hook, tinder and a knife, all wrapped in woven paracord.

Passport – You never know. In an emergency I’m sure the rules would be relaxed, but when it all settles down, if it ever does, then it would make resettling so much easier, if there’s anything left. Keep positive. Probably the most important lesson.

Cash – When the world comes down around your shoulders the cash will be of use, but only in the short term. If the shit really hits the fan, its jewellery, precious stones and metals that hold all the bartering value.

Hammer – It’s heavy, but has many uses, including as a weapon, helping to build a shelter or to break into an abandoned supermarket to restock supplies if it really goes down.

Paracetamol – Access to doctors may be limited. Pain could be a new feature of life. Whether it’s a strain from walking, a headache or problems with your teeth, you’ll be glad of bringing plenty of these lightweight tablets with you, plus they’ll be great for bartering if you have spare.

Food – Dense, dry ingredients are best. Even better are those that don’t need water to eat. Tinned goods are next because they’ll last so long, its been shown they’ll last long after their official expiration date, but they’re heavy and too many will weigh you down. Chocolate and sugar dense sweets are great too, but only if you’re taking care of your teeth, access to dentists may be limited, if available at all.

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Now take a breath. 

Okay, so we have the benefit of not being in a rush, so what else should I have packed and perhaps prepared for in advance?

Gold coins – Gold is easy for anyone to recognise their value. Gold will always be in demand, even when states fail. Buy small denominations, 4 grams half Sovereigns or 8 gram Sovereigns or American Quarter Eagles so you don’t have to pay a higher price for the want of change.

Water – We all know this will be a big issue. If the water is contaminated in a nuclear fallout there’s not a great deal sterilisation and filtering can do, but in every other circumstance a filtration straw will let you filter up to 2,000 litres / 530 gallons direct from the source. It’s a no brainer.

Nails – I’m bringing a hammer so why not long nails too? Gives me options for building shelters.

Hand sanitiser – It won’t last long, but used sparingly it will help stave off stomach bugs, plus it’s flammable.

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Batteries – The more the merrier. The torch is useless without them and can help start a fire if needed. Consider candles, but only to be used when inside a shelter, not a tent!

Wind Up Torch – In addition to the standard torch, a great idea would be to have a wind up torch too for when your supply of batteries runs dry.

Emergency Blankets – Only single use, but can keep you warm if you fall into a river, giving you enough chance to recover.

Alcohol – Full of calories and a treat to keep you warm at night. How could I forget!

Vitamins – If food is scarce, these will be a handy top up. Lightweight too. Empty out the paracetamol from their packets and pile them in the vitamin bottle to save space.

I’m sure you’ve all got some great ideas, so why not make your suggestions in the comments!

Lesson Learnt

It’s clear there’s no way this can be done in ten minutes. With another ten maybe you’ll have a chance, but you’ll forget something important. I’m going to pack my bag and leave it that way. You never know when it could save your life!

Now all I have to do is swing it on my back, open the front door and see what’s outside….

In the End…Why not read about what happens to a group of friends whose world collapses around them, forcing them to make difficult decisions just to stay alive. It’s not going to be comfortable, or an easy ride. Find out if they’ve got what it takes to survive when they’re not at the top of the food chain…

In the End – Season One