Tues, Jan 9th, Nick posting- placeholder- with update from Barbara

Update 13:42. Bob is still waiting to go to a rehab facility. Yesterday morning the place we had lined up decided not to take him because of the trach which they knew about Friday when they offered the bed. Oh well. I ended up staying in Winston yesterday hoping we could get something else worked out. Also, there was inclement weather up here and supposedly heading to Winston so Al and I decided we would stay in our respective locations until today. I spent the morning at the hospital working with the case worker and visiting with Bob. He is doing well BTW. He had a good
PT session and when he speaks slowly and loudly I can understand him even with the trach tube. There are not a lot of choices in our vicinity that will take trach patients but fortunately the hospital is being patient until we can find a place.
===================================================================
Hopefully this is just a placeholder for Barbara’s update, but if she’s busy (and that’s pretty likely!) I’ll open the day.

I’m out and about most of today, nothing like the waste of time involved in a 12 hour appointment window for the gas company. It’s cold today too, 46F, and the house has no heat (‘cuz no gas) so I’m gonna LOVE sitting around there waiting.

nick

Sunday, 29 October 2017

10:20 – It was 41.1F (5C) when I took Colin out at 0730, heavily overcast and with a stiff breeze. We’d had 2.4 inches (6.1 cm) of rain since yesterday. I’d have to check my records to be sure, but I think we’re around 10 inches (25 cm) for the month to date. Overnight and tomorrow, we’re to have our first hard freeze of the season and our first snow accumulation.

Barbara called yesterday afternoon to say she’d changed her mind about staying in Winston last night and heading home this morning. Instead, she just stopped long enough in Winston to transfer her personal stuff and things she’d bought in New York to her own car, after which she drove back here to Sparta, arriving at about 19:10.

Colin and I were both delighted. Barbara thought I looked so bad that she wanted to haul me over to the emergency room. I convinced her that wasn’t necessary. She agreed but only if I started doing what she told me. Right now, that’s mainly drinking lots of fluids (even though the doctor said I wasn’t at all dehydrated) and breathing deeply to draw in lots of air (even though my pulse ox this morning was 98, two points better than Barbara’s). I think the problem is that I’m still gradually recovering from pneumonia and still have some congestion in my lower lungs. And I will admit that I’m not drinking anywhere my normal 3 to 4 liters per day. For the last couple of weeks, it’s been more like one liter per day, and sometimes less.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

11:28 – Barbara gets home tomorrow.

It was 42.7F (6C) when I took Colin out at 0625, heavily overcast. I fed him breakfast. His usual, dog food with canned pumpkin on it. He ate the pumpkin, but wouldn’t touch the dog food. This is the third or fourth time he’s refused to eat his dog food since Barbara has been gone. He always eats it, eventually, but I think he’s showing his displeasure.

Afterwards, even though he hadn’t eaten, he whined insistently until I finally gave up at about 0830 and took him out. He promptly disappeared and was missing for 20 minutes. I called him repeatedly and activated his shock collar, but with no result. I was just about to go driving around looking for him. As I walked up the front porch stairs, I heard a jingling. It was his collar making the noise as he trotted across the yard toward me.

The raccoons showed up again last night. It was about 2000, and full dark. Colin was lying at the front door, looking out through the glass storm door, when he let out a yelp that turned into a howl and then maniacal barking. I ran over to the front door and flipped on some of the outside lights, which revealed two raccoons trying to vacuum all the sunflower seeds out of the feeder. They just stared at me. I didn’t have my pistol in hand, and the angles weren’t right for safe discharge anyway, so I bellowed at the raccoons. They took off running down toward the south tree line.

I turned around and went back in the house to get my .45 and big flashlight. Colin was obviously raring to go, so I let him out. He charged down toward the tree line and paused just short of it to sniff. Apparently the two of them had split up there, or perhaps made a jump for refuge in one of the huge pines. I shined my light up around in the trees looking for eyes, but didn’t spot any. (Not that I’d have fired at that angle even if I had seen a target.)


A clarification. When I mentioned that our stock of new, unused quart wide-mouth canning jars is now 144, sufficient to can roughly 288 pounds of meat, at least one reader thought I intended to rush out and buy 288 pounds of dark-meat chicken and sausage.

Not at all. Those jars are in reserve. At any given time, our big vertical freezer out in the garage may have anything from maybe 50 to 150+ pounds of meat and fish in it, not to mention anything from 50 to 100+ pounds of butter, and other relatively high value frozen foods.

We have very, very few power failures here, and the ones we do have tend to last only a few minutes. If we have a power failure that looks like it may last a few days or so, we can fire up the generator as needed to keep the stuff frozen. But if we have a power failure that looks to be long-term, we’d start pulling out meat and canning it.


With Barbara gone, I’ve been spending some time in the evening watching Youtube videos. There are a boatload of prepping and homesteading channels, and I’ve been sampling many of them. They’re pretty much on a bell curve, with a few that are excellent, a few more that are truly terrible, and the vast majority in the middle.

One of those in the middle is run by a guy who calls himself preppernurse1. He’s in the Rochester, NY area and lives off-grid. He posts videos very frequently, sometimes more than one a day.

He seems obsessed with his PV solar installation. He started two years ago with six 250W (or 280W?) panels and added three or four more last year. He often reports how many kW-hrs he collected the previous day, and the biggest number I remember him reporting was about 2.8 kW-hrs. That’s about what his array should produce gross with just a little over one hour of full sunlight. I don’t know what the average sunny hours per day are in his locale, but surely that figure must be at least 2.5 to 3 hours per day. Sure, there are losses in transmission, inversion, and so on, but his net figure is pathetic.

I see two big problems with his setup:

1. His original six panels are simply leaning against a crude wooden framework, I’d guess at about a 75-degree angle. Almost vertical, in other words. The panels he added later are similarly held in a crude framework, but those are oriented almost horizontally. Neither is at anything close to an optimum compromise angle.

2. His PV panel array appears to be a long way from the charge controllers and battery bank. I mean, a LONG way. And from the one quick glimpse of the cables he’s using to link the panels to the charge controllers, they’re not very thick. If my panel outputs were even 10 feet (3 meters) from my charge controller inputs, I’d want to be using #00 if not #000 copper to link them. At a guess, he may have a 50-foot separation spanned by maybe #12 cables. Voltage drop on a low-voltage DC line is pretty hideous, so just this one factor may be losing him a large percentage of the power his panels produce.

I thought about emailing him, but he has thousands of subscribers, so surely at least one of them has already done so?

Friday, 27 October 2017

10:38 – It was 41.1F (5C) when I took Colin out at 0730, clear and calm. We got a later start than usual this morning. That was down to me, not Colin.

Only two more days until Barbara returns home. It seems like she’s been gone a month, literally. I found Colin yesterday sitting at my computer, trying to get me signed up at a singles site. He thinks Barbara is gone forever.

I haven’t seen any more of the raccoons, but I haven’t seen Animal Control at all. They were supposed to come out and set traps. I guess they figured it’d be easier just to let me shoot them.


I mentioned in comments last night that the free ride at Walmart is over. They still offer “free” two-day shipping, but they charge a lot more for the same item if you have it shipped versus picking it up at a store.

Here’s a good example. A gallon of their store-brand vegetable oil, which will cost you $3.68 if you pick it up in the store. They’ll instead ship it to you “for free”, but then the item costs you literally twice what it does in the store.

I looked at prices on literally dozens of items I’ve ordered from Walmart. Some they apparently hadn’t gotten around to changing yet, but most had the shipped price padded, in some cases by more than double.

One of the things they hadn’t gotten around to was changing prices on items in the Saved for Later portion of my shopping cart. This time of year, canning jars are always hard to find and expensive, particularly the name-brand ones. (Avoid store-brand canning jars like the plague; they’re mostly made in China instead of the US and are very inferior quality.) I had a bundle of two dozen quart wide-mouth Ball jars with lids and bands in my saved cart, so I went ahead and moved it to my main cart, expecting it to jump in price. It didn’t, and it said they had only three left in stock, so I crossed my fingers, updated the amount to 3, and clicked on Order. Once those arrive, they’ll boost our stock of new, unused quart wide-mouth canning jars from 72 to 144. That’s sufficient to can roughly 288 pounds of meat.

A couple weeks ago, while we were watching a Guildbrook Farms canning video, Barbara mentioned that she’d just as soon stay stocked up on Keystone canned meats rather than canning our own. I agree, except that I want to can some types of meat that aren’t available or are very difficult to find commercially canned. Things like dark-meat chicken, the sausage Barbara buys from Costco and Jimmy Dean, and so on.

Friday, 20 October 2017

09:26 – It was 45.1F (7C) when I took Colin out at 0645, partly cloudy and breezy.

Barbara leaves about 1400 today. She’s cleaning house this morning since she’ll be gone for 10 days and knows I won’t do much (any) cleaning while she’s gone. Then she has last-minute packing to do before she heads out.


The antibiotics seem to be working, albeit more gradually than I expected. In the past, a suitable antibiotic has generally stopped the infection symptoms dead in one day, perhaps two. This time, I saw some benefit after 24 hours in terms of decreased symptom severity and frequency, but it’s been more a gradual tapering off over the last four days than what I expected. I take the last azithromycin tablet at 1500 today. I have sufficient of the cefpodoxime for two doses per day through the weekend. If the symptoms come roaring back on Sunday evening, I may start myself on doxycycline or possibly Augmentin.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

09:14 – It was 37.6F (3C) when I took Colin out at 0630, clear and breezy.


Barbara is starting to get stuff ready for her trip to upstate New York. She’s leaving tomorrow afternoon and returning Sunday a week following. It’s ridiculous, but since she’ll be driving through or staying in more than one anti-gub state, she can’t even stick a pistol in her glove box.

It’ll be work as usual for me while she’s gone.


10:43 – Barbara pulled out the cameras she’s taking with her. I’ve used Pentax SLR’s since 1970, so when we bought our first DSLR it was a Pentax. Her oldest one now takes AA cells. I’d stored it with none in it. When I installed four fresh Costco Kirkland AA alkalines, the camera didn’t even recognize that it had power. So I pulled those and stuck in four Panasonic Eneloops straight from the blister pack. The camera fired right up.

I still had that two-pack of Anker LC-40 flashlights unopened, so I installed three Eneloop AAA cells in each of those and handed them to Barbara. One goes in her purse and the other her suitcase. She gave me back the cheapie Chinese single-AA light she’d had in her purse.

While I was thinking about it, I asked her where the Fenix E01 keychain flashlight was. I’d bought that for her back in November 2014. She said it hadn’t lasted long, and had basically exploded into a bunch of small components. So much for the supposed better build quality of brand-name flashlights.

I’m standardizing on these Anker LC-40s, and also on Eneloop cells. I’ll use up the remaining Kirkland alkalines in things like $3 flashlights, remote controls, and so on, but I don’t plan to buy any more alkalines, ever. The LSD Eneloops actually don’t cost that much more than alkalines, maybe 5 or 10 times as much depending on size. Given that the Eneloops are rated for 2,100 recharges, they don’t take long to pay for themselves.


Sunday, 15 October 2017

09:17 – It was 55.5F (13C) when I took Colin out at 0700, mostly clear. Lows this week are to be in the 30’s, so our first frost and perhaps a hard freeze isn’t far off.


Barbara is getting ready for a vacation trip. She and a girl friend are driving up to the Finger Lakes region of New York, leaving this Friday and returning on Sunday the 29th. I’m happy that she’ll return well before the antifa Days of Rage, which is scheduled for November 4th and the days following. Not that I seriously expect any major problems, but when a terrorist group announces that they’ve scheduled large-scale, widespread protests (i.e., riots), it’s a good idea to at least keep it in mind.


I’ve watched a lot of the videos that Jaime and Jeremy post on their Guildbrook Farms YouTube channel. Yesterday, Barbara watched several of them with me, and said she enjoyed watching them.

Their “farm” is actually a ranch house sitting on one acre in what used to be an exurban development, but because of urban sprawl has now become suburban. It’s in Davidson, NC, which is the Charlotte metro area. They’re homesteaders and preppers, and they post a lot of videos. I just checked, and they have 157 videos posted in just over one year. Roughly one every other day. There are a few short ones, but most are 12 to 20 minutes long.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

08:38 – It was 62.5F (17C) when I took Colin out around 0630 this morning, bright and breezy. More rain and thunderstorms are in the forecast for this evening and tomorrow.

Barbara is doing a quick house clean and getting packed for her week-long trip down to the Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC for a crafts class. She leaves tomorrow morning and returns next Saturday afternoon.

We finished binge-watching the first three seasons of the Australian series The Doctor Blake Mysteries on Netflix streaming last night. They don’t have season four up yet, so I’m grabbing it with BT just to make sure we have it. Unusually for a modern TV mystery, it plays fair with the viewer. There are lots of cuties. Barbara must get tired of me saying, “Boy, <insert-country-name-here> has lots of cuties.” In this case, Nadine Garner, a 40-something cutie, and Cate Wolfe, a 20-something cutie.

With the downstairs torn up, our prepping activities are on hold until things are back to normal down there. We can’t even get to our long-term pantry. So for now I’m just thinking about what I want to do next.

First priority will be to install more shelving. Frances’ and Al’s bedroom has a large walk-in closet. Barbara calls it the water closet because there are cases of water bottles stacked on the floor, something like 600 liters worth. Call it a month’s supply of drinking water for the 4.5 of us.

I want to install floor-to-ceiling bracket and 1×10 or 1×12 shelving on one or both side walls and the end wall of that closet. Before we do that, I need to measure the height/width of the storage containers we use the most–softdrink bottles in 2- and 3-liter sizes, #10 cans, #2.5 cans, and so on. That way, I can set the vertical spacing and shelf width to minimize wasted space. Then I want to do the same for some unused wall space in the unfinished basement area.

That’ll let me relocate stuff that’s currently stacked in the unfinished area in that closet. There’s currently maybe 18 person-months’ worth of LTS food on the built-in shelves in the unfinished area, and I need that shelf space back for science kit related stuff, large chemical bottles and so on. There’s probably about the same amount of LTS food stacked on the floor in the LTS pantry room, and we can move it to shelves in the bedroom closet as well. So, lots to be done once they finish work downstairs.

 

 

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

09:03 – It was 57.4F (13C) when I took Colin out at about 0650 this morning, foggy and drizzling. We’ve had about 2 inches (5 cm) of rain over the last couple days, and more to come.

Barbara is off shortly to a meeting of the Golf Committee, which does an annual benefit whose proceeds go to the Wellness Center. After that it’s some errands and then the Friends bookstore this afternoon. She has a busy week. Tomorrow, she heads down to Winston to run various errands, and returns Thursday. Then, Sunday morning, she leaves for a week-long trip down to Brasstown in the far, far southwestern corner of the state for a crafts course.

As of yesterday, we have enough chemicals made up to build another two dozen each of the biology and chemistry kits. We’ll continue labeling and filling bottles to boost the limiting quantities of each chemical until we have sufficient numbers of each to build 20 to 30 dozen of each type of kit, which’ll give us a good cushion heading into the crazy season that starts around mid-July.

For years, I’ve been becoming increasingly disgusted with the politically-correct, diverse, multi-cultural mess that modern TV has become. And not just the news and other “non-fiction” stuff. The fictional series are as bad or worse. If you believe the world is as they represent it, most of the doctors, cops, scientists, and other people that people used to admire are now minorities and/or women. White men, to the extent there are any, are generally represented as incompetent if not actually evil. I simply won’t tolerate this bogus representation of reality, so I no longer watch any of these series.

So I’ve started putting mostly old-fashioned TV series in our Netflix and Amazon queues. Many are literally old, done years or decades ago. There are a few recent series that haven’t been infected by this crap, ones like the earlier seasons of Midsomer Murders, when Brian True-May was still running things. Of course, they fired him for not being PC, and the series immediately degenerated into the PC, diverse pile of shit that makes the PTB happy.

So we watch stuff like Vikings and The Last Kingdom. That’s one of the things I like about my Viking ancestors. When they ran into diversity, they slaughtered the diverse men and raped the diverse women and diverse cattle. We’re also watching an Australian series called The Doctor Blake Mysteries. It’s set in 1959, so there’s not much diversity there to start with. And there are a lot of cuties. One of the main characters is a 40-something cutie and another is a 20-something cutie.

 

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

09:19 – We’re to have one nice day today–sunny, little wind, and a high around 64F (18C)–but with a cold front moving in over the next 24 hours. For several days after that, we’re to have highs around freezing, lows in the teens to 20’s (-5C to -8C), and at least some snow and ice.

Barbara got a phone call from Al around 7:30 p.m. yesterday to tell her that their family friend, Gilbert Sloan, had died at 7:04 p.m. He’d been in Hospice, so it wasn’t unexpected. Even so, it was a great loss for Barbara and her sister. They lived next door to the Sloans. When they were young, their mom had significant medical problems and spent a lot of time in the hospital. The Sloans became their surrogate parents, and Barbara and Frances spent a lot of time at the Sloan’s home while their dad was at the hospital with their mom. Cam Sloan is my age, and became like an older brother to the two girls. Barbara is headed down to Winston later this week to attend the service.

* * * * *

About three dozen readers have now requested copies of my book sample, and I’ve gotten feedback from a significant percentage of those. A couple of them said that they’d be interested to see what others thought, so I’m posting anonymous excerpts from several of the feedback emails. There are some common threads running through those.

Good start.

Notes:
1. The chapter after chapter four is labeled three, should be five
2. lots of numbers
3. the conversation seems to “stilted” and that is not the right word
4. lots of details about “stuff”
5. in chapter two, I cannot figure out if the power is up or down when it talks about the well pump, may need something like “the power was up for now but could fail at any minute”. And now I see that you covered that in the 2nd paragraph.
6. It took me a couple of minutes to note that you were switching people at the beginning of each chapter. I need a fairly brutal knock upside the head to realize that the perspective is changing.

* * * * *

Yes Robert, you can certainly write fiction.

Your dialog is off to a good start. It’s a little hard to ‘hear’ the different voices but i have no doubt that will improve.

Reading your first pass was reminiscent of reading Unintended Consequences. I personally enjoyed the deep detail in UC, however it admittedly detracted from the flow of his story. It’s interesting to read about the specific guns (or whatever) and the deeper detail, but that level of detail doesn’t generally move the story forward.

I wouldn’t worry about that much – your preselected audience generally appreciates the detail. If you want to appeal to a broader audience, you might want to lift the degree of detail.

I hope you’ll continue with your fiction efforts. This little taste is better than a lot of the schlock out there already and I am absolutely certain your final efforts will be excellent.

Congratulations on this new endeavor.

* * * * *

I see only one issue with your fiction writing attempt.

You left out the disclaimer:

“Any resemblance between any characters in this novel and any person living or dead is purely coincidental.”

In other words, you need to make up your own characters instead of using people you know.

Reading the snippet of the story, I knew the names of the people who inspired the main characters.

I’m saying you can use a character who is part Nick or a character that is part Dave Hardy, but not just insert them into the novel renamed.

For example a retired Desert Storm veteran/ex-cop might work as a character. His being an alcoholic or recovering alcoholic also might work. But leaving him as a Vietnam veteran or IT worker wouldn’t work.

You could make up a character based on me and I wouldn’t be offended. I’m just too boring to serve as the basis for a character.

[…]

If you write a book, I’ll buy it. But if you can’t master making up characters I wouldn’t write it if I were you.

If I were you, and writing this book, I’d set it in one of the towns you scoped out but didn’t move to, and use a house you looked at there. The main couple should be a little less prepared than you are.

I hope I was just blunt enough to communicate my point without being too blunt.

* * * * *

Yes, you can write fiction. I think it’s a bit heavy on technical detail, it’s fiction, not a prepper manual. I’ll read it again later and come up with more comments.

* * * * *

Great start!
A few comments:
– Ed Burns – USMC and not a prepper? of any kind? food for thought…- Lotsa PHDs…good or bad?- Page 5, Prologue: Maybe a bit too much detail in the second paragraph; one sentence to summarize the type (mac, oats, flakes, etc.) and a total poundage. Maybe turn it into a short discussion with Karen? Can tell you’re a hard-core prepper!- Page 6: continue with fake news and/or media corruption? Closing out the intro?- Page 7, last para: had to look up “dendrochronology”… Maybe drop dates/uber-details and put years/centuries ago-type descriptor? Lotsa details!- Page 9: close out with discussion of local impacts? LDS support? Food/med drives? etc.- Page 13: stray dog? from travelers escaping disaster areas? comments on how to handle stray animals in the future? Possible love interest for Colin? ;-)- Page 17, ???: para continuation – meet & greet; settle down, and brief on situation with potential new housemates.- Page 18, ???: para continuation – Matt & Karen invite Bartletts and discuss logistics to house. Vehicles, seating, gas check, etc.- Page 19, radio gear para: too detailed. Summarize until there is a need later to describe which MHz is needed for what specific situation…- Page 21, gun gear: as an amateur gun guy, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but too many details. Like radio gear, summarize until later…- Page 28, ???: standardize (-ish) everyone’s training to the Gunny’s level is a good idea; gives everyone a common level of knowledge and terminology which helps with imprinting quicker for the new shooters- Page 31, radio call from Ed: maybe reduce to keep simple; “Front watch, four inbound unknown contacts. Repeat, this is front watch with four inbound unknown contacts.” maybe sounds a little military-ish, but…The follow-up transmission is perfect. And it referenced a truck stopping earlier for food; good few paragraphs there for expansion.- Page 32, attack: high number of people in back attack. Good comment about runners being back later; glad you went there.
Can you tell I peer review technical reports and documents for IT? I’m in Federal civil service as a software program manager and retired Air Force E-7/logistics.
Overall, good start. I think you have a lot of details in this rough draft that can be diluted early, and added as needed later. I’ve read several books with waaaay too many details up front from 5.11 pants and the type of Danner boots being worn, but after 3-4 pages of gear talk the person is still standing in the middle of the road surrounded by zombies. If my brain pauses to digest that info, I lose the emotion of the moment of the zombie attack…if that makes any sense.
I really hope you are able to flesh this out into a novel. Your vision of this small piece of the story is excellent and enjoyable to read. I guarantee I’ll drop whatever I’m reading at the time to buy this the day it’s released! And I appreciate you sharing this with us!

* * * * *

I know you only wanted quick feedback so apologies in advance…

The good:

Well written, as I knew it would be, having read several of your non-fiction works and the blog posts for many years. Yes, but can he write fiction?
Absolutely! The dialog is mostly very good (with a couple of easily remedied exceptions below). Plot and character development are such that I want to keep reading even at this rough draft stage. There are issues but definitely keep going – I want more of the story!

The bad:

Some of the dialog is very clumsy. For example, Dr. Smith’s dialog is tedious to read and would have been cut after the 2nd “CE” on any of the
networks. Also Matt’s description of the Bao/Feng radios – this is common to bad PA where catalog descriptions of equipment get detailed in conversations.

Facts/figures: (Disclaimer – I have a geology and several mechanical engineering degrees and have driven over the road trucks). A New Madrid quake would not bother the upper Mississippi river valley. They worry about the New Madrid because it can cause very wide spread, significant damage to much of the Mid West. This is because much of the area is a giant sediment bowl which will shake like jello. This sediment does not extend much into Wisconsin. I live in La Crosse, WI on the east bank of the Mississippi and we sit solidly on bed rock – we would not even be aware of a New Madrid
quake. Interesting fact is that they just built a new bridge here and added traffic control gates at the on ramps. So, even if the upper river bridges were OK, the gov’t would likely be in control of access?
You can’t get 40 tons on an 18 wheeler. Well, you could but you would likely either go to jail or the morgue if you drove it very far. 18
wheelers gross at 80K lbm but the tractor trailer weights ~35K so the max payload is around 45K (call it 22 tons). Not that big a deal, but it sticks out to anyone who has been around trucks as badly as talking about forgetting to move the safety on a Glock to gun people.

It is a bad idea to have both 20 and 12 gage for defense – particularly if you have any break action guns around. And as an avid trap / sporting clays shooter, I can tell you that 90% of the active clays people (at least up here) shoot break action – not 870s. If the women can’t shoot 12 gage, give them 5.56 or something.

Teaming up with cult members: I get it that they are preppers and generally nice people, but they believe some truly wacky chit. It may be an
interesting plot twist to have them start refusing to share/work with the infidels at some point unless the non-believers start wearing magic underwear and reading the teachings of the prophets (just a suggestion). Before you reject this out of hand, consider how strange their world view is during normal times and how it may get much stranger/stronger during what many will consider “end times”.

The Ugly: the battle scene is really bad. Sorry, but I can’t mince words here. This is the type of thing that makes me drop a story toot sweet.
When the good guys all react like battle hardened Marine snipers and the bad guys like brain dead meth addicts, I call BS. No matter how much training and planning goes on, a significant number of good guys will be curled up on the ground screaming for mommy once the real deal starts. All the kills will not be clean – there will likely be people trying to hold their guts in and begging for death, there will likely be IED’s like pipe bombs, Molotov Cocktails, etc. Not only the good guys know how to mix  Styrofoam and gasoline for example.

Well – the good news is I liked it enough to write up this feedback…

* * * * *

I just finished your sample! I graded you an “A” or 95%. My evaluation as a reader rested on three criteria:

1. Does this work tell a story?
2. Is the work believable/plausible?
3. Do i care about the characters and what happens to them?

Hope this confirms what you’ve already decided to do.

Thanks for letting me read it and be a part of something new.

* * * * *

Thanks. A bit stiff early, but by halfway it was already smoothing out. Two thumbs up.

I did make a couple of notes:

Page 7: “Just then, the feed switched…” flows better as “The feed switched” (A few pages later, I just decided you were using “just” way too often.)

Page 10: When you get to the point of mentioning the solar backup for the well pump,
you immediately give all the detail. It’s unnecessary at that point. Save some for later.

Page 11: “Load all of your hand tools” I had to laugh. Got semi?
If you do a printed version, put me down for one autographed copy of the first printing.

* * * * *

OK, I’ve finished what I hope is an excerpt (in plain English, keep typing, I’d like to read it). I have a few thoughts.

The mechanics are fine, and the structure is good. However, I do find everything so far has worked out too well for the characters. We haven’t really seen any rough edges. I realize it’s early days yet, but I would not expect everyone to be coping this well, especially after the assault on the house, with multiple charlies down. Even the casualty is quite calm about the whole affair. I’d expect some panic to seep in by this point, as everyone works through the realization that it’s real and the cavalry will be delayed if they arrive at all. My opinion, but I’ve seen (and sometimes been) the one that becomes useless when reality dawns.

Again, I’d like to read this when completed; I’d be happy to offer comments between now and then if you like.

* * * * *

These are roughly half of the responses I’ve gotten, which I selected more or less at random to give everyone an idea of what other people were saying. I appreciate the time and effort that people have taken to advise me, and I’ll incorporate many of the suggestions.

At this point, I’m just getting ideas down. This sample wasn’t in any way intended to be an organized part of the eventual book structure, and was completely unedited. I may end up expanding one paragraph or even one sentence to become and entire chapter, or the converse. My word-count target for a full book is roughly 125,000, of which this sample is maybe 10%.

Yes, things are too easy so far. That will change. In fact, things may get so bad that I end up painting myself into corners, as writers often do. But ultimately, this book (and I hope eventually series) will be optimistic. Good, competent people can deal with pretty much anything.