Once Upon an Apocalypse – Pondering the Aftermath of an EMP Attack

Have you notice that, if you want to reach someone with a new idea, you may have to point them to a movie or a novel?

That’s what Jeff Motes had in mind when he wrote Once Upon an Apocalypse. He wants people to think about preparedness, especially if we experience a catastrophe like an EMP attack.

While several authors have written about what might happen in the wake of a major EMP outage, Jeff’s approach is different. It’s a hard story to categorize, and I’ll have more to say about that below.

But Jeff Motes doesn’t care about that as much as he simply wants to nudge his readers toward being prepared.

On this week’s DestinySurvival Radio, I spoke with Jeff about his book.

Who is Jeff Motes?

You never know who shapes up to be an author these days. Here’s info on Jeff’s background.

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Jeff received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering in 1984 and a Master’s in Business Administration Degree in 1994. He is a licensed Master Electrician and a licensed Professional Engineer. He owns and operates an electrical contracting business and has provided electrical services to many of the industrial plants and water systems in Southwest Alabama. Prior to entering into business with his father, Jeff work for 10 years as the System Engineer for the local electric cooperative.

Jeff is a strong believer in “life-long” learning and holds to the idea we should do “the best we can with the best we have to live, and help those around us live.”

Jeff lives in the Salitpa community, near Jackson, Alabama, with his wife, Donna and youngest son. His two other sons are married and living with their families elsewhere in Alabama.

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Jeff has been preparing in one way or another since his teen years. He says preparing is like insurance. We do it in case something happens.

An EMP would be a worst case scenario. While it is a real threat, it’s hard to say how likely it is. Nonetheless, it makes fodder for a story designed to make readers think about getting prepared. Veteran preppers will appreciate it, too, because being prepared for the worst means being prepared for many other things.

 

Once Upon an Apocalypse--Book 1

 

What’s the story?

“The day” begins one day at 4:05 PM when an EMP attack over Kansas sends the U.S. back to the 1800’s technologically, with ew exceptions. Jill Barnes, Jack Chance and John Carter each find themselves on their way home when the event happens.

We follow the journey of each of these characters, though the bulk of the book deals with Jill and John. Both of them are Christians, which affects how they respond to the circumstances in which they find themselves.

The first character we meet is Jill. She’s a positivbe example of someone who is prepared, having learned from her father. She proves this near the beginning of the book when she was forced to defend herself and a mother and her children when they’re attacked by bad guys.

Jack, on the other hand, finds himself victimized by bad guys because he isn’t prepared for such an eventuality. We see no more mention of him until near the end of the book, and we’re left wondering about him.

As the story moves on, we discover it’s not all sunshine and roses for Jill. But you must keep reading to find out what happens next as the suspense heightens.

We’re introduced to John and find, like Jill, he’s well prepared, and he knows how to anticipate problems he might face. He’s got a good head about him. In fact, he comes across to me like a super hero who thinks of things no one else would.

His mindset is to consider the possibility that tomorrow may not be like any other day.

Jeff says John isn’t a super hero, and there may be more like him out there than I would guess.

How John and Jill come together in the story seems improbable to me. But this is fiction, after all. And we wouldn’t have a story without amazing coincidences. Besides, strange things can happen in the real world.

The examples of Jill and John are positive and give you and I ideas we might want to try when the chips are down.

On the other hand, at one point on their journey, John and Jill kill and eat an armadillo. That makes for a good story–and it may be necessary under the bleakest of conditions–but I’ve read it’s possible to contract leprosy from contact with an armadillo. Be careful.

Plenty of action scenes take place, complete with killings of bad guys. We can only speculate now whether such incidents will represent reality in the aftermath of a massive EMP. But Jill and John come out alive from situations where it doesn’t seem possible they should have.

Be ready to suspend disbelief for the sake of the story.

Spoiler alert. There’s a happy reunion in the end. But it’s marred by a comment from a character we meet for the first time. It’s then that we see why this is labeled Book 1, and we know there will be more to come in this saga.

Where did it come from?

Once Upon an Apocalypse got its start on Facebook when Jeff asked friends if they had any clue about an EMP. That started engaging discussion. As a means of getting people to think about being prepared, he started writing what eventually became his novel.

How should you read this book?

That may sound like a strange question, but here’s why I bring it up.

This book is written in the second person point of view. For example, “You do such and such….” or “You think…” And so on. This viewpoint is meant to immerse us as readers into what each character experiences.

Chapters change focus from one character to another. Jill and John are the main characters whose view we experience.

Because of this change from one character to another, sometimes overlap of events occurs when a new chapter begins. This gives us a chance to see things from more than one characters vantage point.

What is it and what isn’t it?

The book isn’t intended to be a prepper manual or “how to” book. But Jeff weaves instruction and rationale for prepping into the narrative through the personal reflections and conversations of his characters. He does so without being preachy.

For example, a family who takes in John and Jill for a while explain their reasoning for investing in a large quantity of food for their pantry.

Another incident of this sort takes place when John and Jill take inventory of everything in their packs. Who among us is so well prepared?

We see both positive and negative examples concerning such things as self defense and security for individuals and groups.

Why write a book this way?

As Jeff told me, he doesn’t read a book merely for entertainment. He wants to learn something. He gives you and me that opportunity, too.

Where does this book fit?

This novel defies genre labeling. It’s a prepper adventure, but it’s more than that. It morphs into a Christian romance. Or more accurately, it becomes a romance involving two Christians.

Profanity and violence scattered throughout the novel would likely disqualify it as suitable for the category of Christian fiction. Furthermore, Jill and John share a bed for a few nights, but there’s no sex. Even though they’re each described as good people, does that sound believable these days?

Romances and Christian fiction aren’t my cup of tea. I don’t read much so-called prepper fiction either. Nonetheless, as I read, I was drawn into the story. Give it a chance, and you’ll be drawn in, too.

The difficulty in defining genre may make this book harder to sell. That said, I encourage you to enjoy the story and don’t bother about where it should fit.

What’d he say?

I’ve already referred to some of what Jeff and I talked about in the paragraphs above. But here are a few other tidbits to whet your appetite for our chat and, of course, Jeff’s book.

John encounters a rogue cop who put his personal interests first. He contrived to steal John’s bike. It begs the question as to whether police will become untrustworthy or whether they’ll disappear from the streets to protect their own families.

What about alternative transportation, such as bikes or older ATV’s? Should you go off the main roads? Jeff shares some thoughts on that in our conversation.

We also talked about militias, both good and bad. The bad ones will behave more like organized gangs. But in the novel Jeff favorably portrays good local militias.

Where is it safer? In the city or country? In either place you’ll need basics like water, food and shelter.

Community plays an important role in the survival of the novel’s characters, and Jeff encourages you and me to become part of a preparedness oriented community. With trouble coming, it’s always good to at least have a support network.

Could an EMP attack be a fulfillment of Bible prophecy? Jeff and I agreed that we can’t know that for sure, but it wouldn’t be inconsistent with it.

How can you find out more?

Hear my conversation with Jeff Motes by listening to DestinySurvival Radio for April 21, 2016. (Right click to download.) You can connect with Jeff on Facebook.

We can expect a second book in this series and possibly a third. Meanwhile, you can order Once Upon an Apocalypse by clicking on its title wherever you see it llinked in this post.

Read it. Think about it. And do what you can to be better prepared.

 

Into the River Lands – What Will Survival Be Like Months After an EMP?

Imagine it’s seven months after a massive solar EMP has put an end to the world as we know it. You’re making a canoe trip upstream, searching for friends you believe can help you.

You’re starting to fix breakfast for your husband and infant daughter, who aren’t ready to greet the day yet. Suddenly, four armed men appear, and it doesn’t look like they’ve stopped by for coffee and a chat.

What would you do?

April finds herself in that situation in Scott B. Williams’ latest novel, Into the River Lands. At the risk of sounding cliche, it’s a page turner.

I talk with Scott about the book and more on this week’s DestinySurvival Radio.

 

Into the River Lands

 

Points About the Adventure

The events of the story pick up seven months after the massive solar EMP and that which took place in The Darkness After, the first book in this series. These stories occur in the same world as The Pulse novels, but the characters are different.

It can be difficult when reading a series to put the pieces of the story together from one book to the next when it’s been a while since reading the previous book. Scott does a good job of refreshing our memories by summarizing what came before. Therefore, be patient as you read further into the novel.

In this story, April, her husband David, and their infant daughter are searching for the home of April’s friend Mitch. They wanted to get away from the church group they were sheltering with in Hattiesburg, MS.

Things don’t go as planned. They’re waylayed by some bad guys who happen to be the same men Mitch is trailing in his endeavor to discover who wounded a doe in the woods.

Chapters aren’t long, but a number end in a cliff hanger, compelling you to read more. Events unfold slowly at first, but there’s no shortage of tension and suspense to keep you guessing what comes next.

This is simply a fun adventure story about survival. Nothing flashy. Nobody’s out to reform the world or fight the system. Even though the characters aren’t in the thick of anarchy, such as you’d find in an urban setting, there’s still plenty of danger to go around.

Scott’s knowledge of the geography he writes about makes the story more real. He has traveled the waterways and camped out in the part of Mississippi where events happen. We get a glimpse of what the area is like in the years since Hurricane Katrina plowed through.

You can share this book with your teenage children without worrying about sex scenes or a lot of profanity.

The story has a happy ending, considering the circumstances. Nonetheless, there are enough loose ends, you know there has to be more forthcoming. And there is. All we can do for the time being is anticipate.

 

Points to Ponder

Thoughts About a Good Story–No one can predict with certainty what the future holds. But a work of fiction can give us things to think about. As preppers we must be ready to think on things we may not have thought of. Or at least we must think in a different direction than we’re accustomed to.

As I see it, a good novel about survival doesn’t have to be a survival manual or technical how-to book. It should be a good story that raises awareness of possible threats and scenarios related to those threats.

It should also contain credible information which should prompt us to further research and reflection.

Scott drops little gems in this novel worth pondering.

Op Sec?–Mitch feels the need for heightened security when he realizes someone is near than he’s comfortable with when he finds the wounded deer.

At that point he also reflects on the quality of his bow and arrows compared to that of the unknown archer who shot the doe.

Freedom, but Not on Easy Street–While life after a catastrophe will have its share of stress, many of us may find that the new way of life offers more freedom than we would have expected.

Mitch revels in being free from school and its restrictions. You may feel the same way about no longer being tied to the everyday work grind.

Of course, life won’t be as easy as we might wish in our daydreams. In the novel, one of the characters is Jason, who has had to learn a new way of life far different from that of being a city kid immersed in his world of guitar playing and video games.

Lying to Live–On the morning April and her party are confronted by four unfriendly men, she thinks fast and lies about their situation. She hopes the men will leave them alone. But it doesn’t work.

This brings up the matter of when to lie, how to lie, and knowing when not to lie. It’s not about ethics in a situation like April’s. It’s a matter of life and death. Will we have wisdom for handling such dire scenarios?

A Matter of Trust–Later in the story, rescue comes in a surprising way for April when she was in a dangerous spot. But it raises the question of who one should trust and when.

 

Probing the Author

We spent some time talking about how Scott writes his stories. Our discussion centered around things that may be of interest to writers.

I like to get into an author’s head because it’s interesting knowing what’s behind the products of the imagination you and I like to indulge in. A writer must contemplate many ideas and find a way to make them come alive to you and me.

If you’re not familiar with Scott and his books, here’s a little info to fill the gaps.

Scott B. Williams has been writing about his adventures for more than twenty-five years. His published work includes dozens of magazine articles and twelve books, with more projects currently underway.

His interest in backpacking, sea kayaking and sailing small boats to remote places led him to pursue the wilderness survival skills that he has written about in his popular survival nonfiction books such as Bug Out: The Complete Plan for Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before It’s Too Late. He has also authored travel narratives such as On Island Time: Kayaking the Caribbean, an account of his two-year solo kayaking journey through the islands.

With the release of The Pulse (2012), Scott began writing fiction. The Pulse was followed by The Darkness After (2013) Refuge (2014) Sailing the Apocalypse (2015) and Into the River Lands (2015).

Scott has many more novels in the works. To learn more about his upcoming books or to contact Scott, visit his website: www.scottbwilliams.com.

 

Pointing You to Our Conversation

Hear my conversation with Scott B. Williams by listening to DestinySurvival Radio for October 15, 2015. (Right click to download.) Be sure to check out Scott’s site and sign up for his newsletter to stay informed about future projects.

Since Into the River Lands has been out a few months now, you may have had the chance to read it. I’d love to know your thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment below.

Does this sound like a book you’d like to read or introduce to your children? What strikes your fancy when it comes to survival oriented fiction? Or do you read such stories?

 

Refuge – Why Preppers Will Enjoy This Novel

Before I tell you about Refuge and why preppers will enjoy this novel, allow me to step back and look at what I see as the bigger picture concerning fiction for preppers and survivalists.

 

A Few Words About Prepper Fiction

You’re probably aware that there’s a growing number of prepper or survival related novels out there these days. Frankly, I can’t get too enthused about most of them. Maybe my opinion might change if I did read more of them, but here’s how I look at it.

I read plenty of science fiction and even some fantasy. (There’s quite a bit of crossover between the two these days._ So I’ve developed a certain amount of tolerance for the outlandish or weird. But not too much, if you please. I don’t mind having my disbelief suspended while I escape into a good story. But it had better be a good story indeed.

However, if I’m going to read a prepper novel that supposedly portrays a projected reality in the not too distant future, it shouldn’t be weird or outlandish. It shouldn’t be ridiculously complicated with a political or religious world that’s hard to comprehend. I don’t want to learn a whole new universe.

Characters should be believable to me. I have a hard time relating to military types or super survivalists. I want to read about people who aren’t so extraordinary.

I also don’t want to get bogged down in a lot of technical sidetracks. Granted, factual material makes the story credible, but I don’t want to be overloaded. After all, am I reading an entertaining story, or am I reading a survival manual? How credible is the technical stuff anyway? And how am I supposed to know for sure?

OK, so call me fussy. You may have a different outlook on prepper fiction, and you’re certainly entitled to your opinion. I’m simply telling you mine.

 

A Few Words About Scott B. Williams

One author who satisfies my standards for prepper fiction is Scott B. Williams. He was my guest on this week’s DestinySurvival Radio show to talk about his latest novel, Refuge: After the Collapse. Scott has been on my show several times before to talk about both his nonfiction and fiction writings. This past July, he was on with Coauthor Scott Finazzo to talk about The Prepper’s Workbook. The info about the author in Refuge says…

Scott B. Williams has been writing about his adventures for more than twenty-five years. His published work includes dozens of magazine articles and eleven books, with more projects currently underway. His interest in backpacking, sea kayaking and sailing small boats to remote places led him to pursue the wilderness survival skills that he has written about in his popular survival books such as Bug Out: The Complete Plan for Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before It’s Too Late, and Bug Out Vehicles and Shelters: Build and Outfit Your Life-Saving Escape. He has also authored travel narratives such as On Island Time, an account of his two-year solo sea kayaking journey through the Caribbean. With the release of The Pulse (2012) and The Darkness After (2013), Scott moved into writing fiction with plans for many more novels in the future.

 

A Few Words About Refuge

Refuge - After the Collapse

 

Refuge is the follow up to The Pulse. Both books tell of how a small group of ordinary people cope in the aftermath of a solar EMP. The Darkness After is also set in that same world, but has different characters and is aimed at a young adult audience.

In the first novel, The Pulse, Artie and Casey, his college age daughter in New Orleans, are hundreds of miles apart when the EMP hits. Somehow they get back together in spite of the odds. That’s where Refuge picks up. Casey’s friends Grant and Jessica need to meet up with Artie’s brother Larry. Along with them is Larry’s friend Scully. They plan to meet up with Larry down river and escape in his boat to a safer place than the wilderness of Mississippi and Louisiana.

Only things don’t go as they intended. Grant and Scully go to get supplies from a cabin Grant knows about, and they have trouble with unwelcome intruders. Artie and Casey discover Larry has had his own problem with unwelcome visitors. It soon becomes clear that, while the EMP has definitely created its own difficulties, the characters in Refuge, find their greatest threat comes from other people.

This isn’t a novel with nonstop action, but you’ll be surprised when and where the action does take place. There’s time to get comfortable with the characters and their setting between bursts of activity. Chapter breaks will leave you in suspense to hold your interest. That’s definitely the case with the first chapter, where the scene begins with Larry on his catamaran. Believe me, you’ll want to keep reading.

I believe Refuge does what Scott intends for the story to do. It makes you, the reader, think about ordinary people who face challenging situations in a post-disaster setting which is far different from normal life. It entertains without being either frothy or too heavy. If it’s been a while since you’ve read the first novel in this series, the story is written so that you’ll remember what happened then as events in this second book unfold.

 

A Few Words About Our Conversation

One of the topics we talked about was writing fiction versus nonfiction. While that may be of greater interest to writers, it gives you a glimpse into Scott’s approach to what you’ll be reading from him.

Scott and I don’t give much of the story away, so I encourage you to read it for yourself. We covered several points I’ve already touched on above, and we discussed some important things I don’t want you to miss. I hope our conversation will pique your interest in reading Refuge.

Hear that conversation by listening to DestinySurvival Radio for November 6, 2014 (Right click to download.) Click on any of the book titles you see linked above to get info and place your order for that book. Find more information about Scott and his current works in progress at www.scottbwilliams.com. Why not keep up to date by subscribing to his newsletter?

As always, if you have any thoughts on what you’ve read above or heard on this week’s DestinySurvival Radio, feel free to leave a comment below. How do you think you would cope in the aftermath of a giant EMP? Do you think we’ll face a greater challenge from disrupted technology or from other people?

 

The Prepper’s Blueprint Will Help You Map Out Your Prepping Strategy

Architects and builders depend on blueprints to do their jobs. The Prepper’s Blueprint will help you map out your prepping strategy. On this week’s DestinySurvival Radio, I spoke with its author, Tess Pennington.

 

The Blueprint’s Drafter

I knew about Tess because she’s been on DestinySurvival Radio before to talk about her first book, The Prepper’s Cookbook. I’d seen quotes from her and The Prepper’s Blueprint in recent months and thought it was time to have her back on the program to talk about it. She was kind enough to take some time out from visiting relatives in Texas so we could record this week’s conversation. Below is a little more about her.

 

Since 2007, Tess Pennington, founder of Ready Nutrition, has focused on educating the public on topics including disaster preparedness, natural living, homesteading, emergency food pantries, food storage and ultimately self-reliance. She is formally trained in emergency and disaster management response with the American Red Cross.

 

Tess is also the best-selling author of two preparedness books: The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster and The Prepper’s Cookbook, which has sold over 10,000 copies.

 

The Blueprint’s Design

 

The Prepper's Blueprint

 

This is a large book–well over 400 pages. It’s not a book you’ll toss in your backpack to take with you on a hiking trip. But it is one you’ll want in your survival library.

This is a comprehensive book to help you map out your preparedness strategy. It was about four years in the making and evolved from Tess’s online series, 52 Weeks to Preparedness. She got a great deal of positive feedback from people who wanted the information in book form. Therefore, she wrote The Prepper’s Blueprint and took the opportunity to expand on a number of subjects. She has drawn from an array of sources and has reproduced info in some sections from other preparedness experts.

The book is divided into three main parts.

  • Layer 1 (Chapters 1-14)–Immediate needs
  • Layer 2 (Chapters 15-31)–Short term preparedness
  • Layer 3 (Chapters 32-55)–Long term preparedness

 

As the layering of sections suggests, the information gets more in depth as you go further into the book. Quite a few chapters revisit subjects covered in earlier chapters.

Topics covered include…

  • Planning
  • Food storage and preserving
  • Water filtration and storage
  • Tools and hardware
  • Medical and dental supplies
  • Emergency communications
  • Pet preparedness
  • 72-hour bag
  • Evacuation
  • Sanitation
  • Home security and self defense
  • Emergency fuel supply
  • Alternative power
  • Lighting
  • Pandemic preparedness
  • Fitness and nutrition
  • Gardening and livestock
  • Financial preparedness
  • Survival Caches
  • Preparing for nuclear disaster and EMP
  • Spiritual and mental preparedness
  • Charity
  • Bartering anc community

 

You’ll find common sense guidance throughout the book. It has plenty of checklists, action items, recommended items to buy, supplemental information and resources.

 

The Blueprint’s Details

Allow me to share a few of my thoughts about this book and give a few hints of what Tess and I talked about.

Using the blueprint–I suggest taking time to get familiar with the book. Read it. Then follow Tess’s advice and start by making a plan. Ask yourself what disasters might occur in your local area. What other things should you be prepared for? The state of the economy is of great concern for many of us.

Next, expand your prepping strategy and efforts. Set goals, but don’t expect to accomplish all of your prepping in six months or even a year. A lot will depend on your particular situation. That may sound vague, but it really does start with you and your assessment of the needs for preparedness right where you are.

Prepping guidance from the past–A number of chapters start with interesting glimpses into history. For example, the chapter on pantry basics starts with a list of supplies pioneers would need to take on the Oregon Trail. Other chapters begin with personal stories or testimonials.

Those short hhistorical tidbits are there to serve as lessons to us that history can repeat itself. Thus, the need to be prepared.

Prepping in the here and now–Several times in the book Tess says to check to see what food and supplies you already have on hand. You may have more at the ready than you realize. And there may be other uses for tools and supplies, which you hadn’t thought of. It’s not necessary to approach prepping as if you have to buy everything new.

A taste of Op Sec–In one chapter Tess gives tips on stealth cooking, which will come in handy in a grid-down scenario if you don’t want to give yourself away in the event others around you don’t have food.

Tools–A few chapters focus on tools to have. Of course, having the right tools is important. Don’t go with the cheapest ones. If something breaks and you can’t replace the tool or one of its parts, you’re out of luck.

The Bug Out Bag–The chapter on putting together a 72-hour bag doesn’t appear as soon as you might expect. Other prepping should come first. However, when you see this chapter, you’ll note it’s like a mini-prepper course.

Bug in or bug out?–If you shelter in place, are you prepared to defend yourself? If you bug out, have you planned adequately? Are you physically up to the rigors of leaving home?

Communications–Info on communications mentions quite a bit about ham radio. It includes a link to the ARRL (Amateur Radio Relay League), which is an excellent resource.

Pets–Find helpful info on pet preparedness. For example, your pets need at least two weeks of food and supplies, just like you and the rest of your family.

Financial preparedness–Finances and the economy are a big concern to so many of us these days. I’m glad Tess writes about these things. She even includes guidance on making the right kind of investments.

Tess writes about having a change of attitude concerning possessions, use of time, and how we live our lives in general. It’s important to simplify our lives and make them more efficient.

You may be held back by lack of funds to buy the prepping supplies you’d like to have. That’s where planning comes in. Work on getting out of debt and reach toward your preparedness goals as best as you can.

Spiritual and mental preparedness–If you and I are to have a mindset geared toward survival, this area of prepping is a must. Prepping has less to do with things than what’s in our heads and hearts.

Tess admits that when she started prepping, she went into a dark place. I appreciate her admission because prepping can indeed become depressing. We each simply need to take a look at reality, admit how things are, and put things in proper perspective so we can move forward. Otherwise you’ll suffer what tess calls doomer fatigue.

Remember, if you’re reading this, the end of the world hasn’t happened yet. There’s still hope for you to go forward on your preparedness journey.

Medical supplies and first aid–When it comes to medical matters, Tess gives a great deal of info on supplies to have, including dental supplies. Dental health shouldn’t be underestimated. But she goes beyond all that to make recommendations about healthful eating and being less stressed.

Sanitation–The importance of good sanitation in a survival situation is another matter which should not be underestimated.

Pandemic preparedness–Is Tess concerned about Ebola coming to the U.S.? If it isn’t what brings about a pandemic here, what could? Find out by listening to our conversation.

Hiding your stuff–Since caching is important for long term prepping, Tess passes along helpful tips on that, too. For example, set aside the means to filter water because it’s not practical to cache water.

Preparing for nuclear disaster–The chapter on nuclear disaster includes mention of Fukushima, which the mainstream media completely ignores. And you won’t want to miss the brief note about a plant that serves as nature’s radiation detector.

Bartering–As you might expect in a book of this magnitude, you’ll find a list of suggested items for bartering. Of course, Tess reminds us not to overlook skills and services you and I can use for trade.

Personal defense and security–There’s no doubt Tess is pro gun. Among other things, you’ll find ten commandments for gun safety. If you’re considering body armor, there’s info on that, too.

Something uniqueThe Prepper’s Blueprint includes a section on a topic I’ve never seen covered in any other preparedness book. You’ll have to listen to our conversation to find out what it is. I can tell you this. It’s controversial, and I think it’s one of the coolest things put into a book like this. I hope Tess keeps it in any future editions.

 

Find Out More…

It’s books like this one which reaffirm my notion not to write my own book on prepping. If you need more how-to info, you need this book in your survival library. I’d much rather promote Tess’s book or other books from authors I’ve spoken with.

Meanwhile, please listen to my conversation with Tess Pennington by hearing DestinySurvival Radio for September 18, 2014. (Right click to download.) Order Tess’s book wherever you see the title linked in this post. Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

The Prepper’s Blueprint is available in print only now, but a Kindle version is forthcoming. Of course, as you may know, I’m definitely a proponent of print. Books will be around when the Internet and our battery powered electronic devices aren’t.

 

A Giveaway for The Prepper’s Blueprint

The giveaway ended September 30, 2014. I asked readers to leave a comment at the end of this post. On September 30th I picked a winner using the number generator at Random.org. The number 5 came up. Kevin was the fifth person to leave a comment below. I’ve contacted him, and arrangements have been made to send him his prize. Thanks to each of you who entered, and congratulations, Kevin.

My sincere thanks to Tess Pennington for letting me give away a copy of The Prepper’s Blueprint to someone in my audience. And even though the giveaway is over, feel free to share your thoughts about anything you’ve read here or heard in our DestinySurvival Radio conversation.

 

Countdown to Preparedness – A Resource for Beginners and Seasoned Preppers Alike

From time to time I talk to people who don’t know much about preparedness. They know they should do something, but what? Where to start? I feel better about our conversation if I can recommend a resource or two which gives helpful info.

One such resource is Jim Cobb’s book called Countdown to Preparedness. It’s a resource for beginners and seasoned preppers alike. The subtitle says, this is “The Prepper’s 52-Week Course to Total Disaster Readiness.” Jim covers the basics all of us need to know and do, whether you’re a newbie or an old hand at prepping.

In the wide variety of topics he covers, you’ll find things you probably haven’t thought of. Weekly tasks or projects are manageable, and they’ll help you eat that daunting preparedness elephant one bite at a time.

Jim is my guest on this week’s DestinySurvival Radio. He’s been on several times before to talk about his other books. In fact, it’s only been about three months since his last visit. In case you’re not familiar with who he is…

Jim Cobb has worked in the investigation and security fields for twenty years and has been a survivalist most of his life. His articles on preparedness have been published in national magazines such as Boys’ Life. You can find him online at ww.SurvivalWeekly.com. Jim lives in the upper Midwest with his beautiful wife and their three adolescent weapons of mass destruction.

 

Countdown to Preparedness

 

Countdown Beginnings

The material for this book came from a series Jim did online back in 2012. Remember when some of us anticipated major catastrophe then? The series was popular, and people wanted to see it in book form. Well, now it is.

While any prepper will benefit from this book, Jim says the newer you are to prepping, the more you’ll get out of it. I think this would be a great gift to intgroduce someone to preparedness.

Jim’s goal is to take his readers through the process of preparedness. It takes time and isn’t something that can be rushed. In fact, you’ll find yourself developing good habits along the way, such as setting aside a few dollars a week in a prepper savings account.

In the foreword, Mike Mullin, author of the Ashfall novels, writes that this is not a book of quick fixes. Those looking for quick fixes will be among the first to die. Jjim agrees and says that anything in life worth having is worth working toward. When it comes to prepping, it’s especially important to learn the skills that will help you survive.

 

Countdown Contents

In Countdown to Preparedness you’ll find a chapter for each week of the year. Those chapters are grouped in five sections. The first 10 chapters cover the basics, which is where everyone should begin. The remaining sections are labeled according to the four seasons.

Several activities in the seasonal sections should be done at the appropriate time of year. For example, you wouldn’t gather fire wood in the spring. And sales of grocery items during the various holidays offer great opportunities for stocking your survival pantry.

Information isn’t lumped together topically. For example, items pertaining to food storage and supplying your survival pantry are in chapters scattered throughout the book. That’s also the case with noteable subjects like self defense and communication. However, the index and Table of Contents will help you find your way around when you’re looking for specific subject matter.

Topics covered include…

  • Water filtration, purification and storage
  • Calculating food storage needs and supplying your pantry
  • Get home bags
  • Evacuation kits
  • Talking to your immediate family, including children
  • Earning extra income
  • First aid supplies and training
  • Prescription medicines and medical and dental issues
  • Sanitation and keeping clean
  • Pets
  • Gardening
  • Communications
  • Making fire
  • Firearms
  • Home security and self defense
  • Situational awareness
  • Alternate modes of transportation
  • Electricity and lighting
  • …and much more

 

Countdown Musings

Each chapter ends with practical tasks to do for the given week, which seem to me to be reasonable and reachable. For example, grocery suggestions for building your food storage supply are straightforward and not overwhelming. Buy three cans of vegetables, two cans of fruit, two cans of meat, etc.

A chapter near the beginning of the book is called “Out with the Old.” The idea is to do some house cleaning and get rid of the stuff you’re not using. You probably never will use it. It’s all about putting priorities in place and making space for the prepping supplies we need. We all accumulate too much, don’t we?

You’ll appreciate the chapters on talking to your family and children about prepping. In fact, the appendix includes info on bringing nonprepping family members into the fold. It involves offering a proposal to help acquire prepping supplies for them, but with their help.

Could that go the other way? Could family members store prepping supplies you buy for them to keep in the event you need to go there? Jim and I explored this possibility in our conversation.

A chapter on water storage is especially good at explaining how you might use Pool Shock to purify water.

In the chapter on alternative transportation, he recommends getting a bicycle. I’m glad to see this. While he mentions other means of transport, he makes the point that we’d better get used to doing a lot of walking, too.

The chapter on improvised weapons deals with being creative with common items you already have around the house. Aerosol cans with cleaners or bug spray, kitchen knives and cleavers, or a can of soda pop in an old tube sock may come in handy for self defense. You just never know.

In the chapter on ham radio, he recommends getting a license. And I appreciate his reasoning. I’d compare this matter to getting a license to drive a car. You need to have one to put the equipment to use properly. Then when the emergency comes, you’ll know what to do.

Jim recommends getting a hand crank radio for monitoring news from broadcast stations on AM and FM. I’ve got one myself, but I’d also say not to overlook battery powered radios. You’d be surprised how long batteries last in an inexpensive analog radio. And you’ve stocked up on batteries, haven’t you?

 

Countdown Questions

Here are a few more questions we touched on during our conversation.
  • What’s a waterbob?
  • If you buy supplies for your get home bag before you buy the bag itself, aren’t you tempted to buy more than your pack can hold?
  • What’s the difference between a get home or bug out bag and an evacuation kit?
  • Should someone new to firearms buy a long gun first or a handgun for concealed carry?
  • What does it mean to reduce your footprint? (Hint: This has nothing to do with reducing your mythical carbon footprint.)
  • When stockpiling items for bartering, should you buy things you don’t use, as well as items you do use?

 

Countdown Conclusions

As usual, Jim brings his common sense approach to what he shares. He’s always a great guest. He covers more in his book than we had time to discuss, and more than I can write about here.

If you’ve read Jim’s other books, you’re likely to see some overlap. But there’s no harm in repetition. It’s great for making ideas stick in the brain.

On the other hand, if you haven’t read his other books, you really should have this one, if for no other reason than that he introduces so many crucial subjects and interesting tidbits. We’re all learning, and seasoned preppers can pick up new ideas, too.

 

Find Out for Yourself

Hear my conversation with Jim Cobb by listening to DestinySurvival Radio for July 17, 2014. (Right click to download.) Buy your copy of Countdown to Preparedness when you click on its title wherever you see it linked in this post. That takes you to the page where it’s featured.

Also, if you have questions about what you read in this book, Jim welcomes your e-mails at jim(at)survivalweekly.com. Of course, replace (at) with @ in that e-mail address.

 

The Prepper’s Workbook Gives Checklists and Guidance for Prepping No Matter What Your Level of Preparedness

Sailors and pilots are just two groups who would put themselves in jeopardy of losing their lives if they didn’t have these. It could be true for you and me as well.

So what is this key element for survival? It’s checklists. Many preppers want them, and now many vital checklists are in one place. The Prepper’s Workbook gives you checklists and guidance for prepping, no matter what your level of preparedness. And on this week’s DestinySurvival Radio, I spoke with the authors.

 

Great Scotts!

Scott B. Williams and Scott Finazzo teamed up to write The Prepper’s Workbook. When you see the info about each one below, you’ll see they have the combined expertise to put together this book.

Scott B. Williams has been on DestinySurvival Radio a few times in the past to talk about books he’s written. He’s been writing about his adventures for more than 25 years. Published work includes dozens of magazine articles and ten books, with more projects currently underway. It’s his interest in backpacking, sea kayaking and sailing small boats to remote places which led him to pursue the wilderness survival skills that he has written about in his popular survival books.

Among his titles are Bug Out and Bug-Out Vehicles and Shelters. He’s also written travel narratives such as On Island Time, which tells of his two-year solo sea kayaking journey through the Caribbean. Novels include The Pulse and The Darkness After. More information about Scott is at http://www.scottbwilliams.com.

Scott Finazzo has been a professional firefighter for over fifteen years. He’s a Lieutenant for the Overland Park, KS, Fire Department. He and his family live in Kansas, where he’s been writing in various capacities for much of his life. He has years of experience both preparing for and responding to disasters and has developed a keen interest in survival.

Scott has honed self-reliance skills by journeying into places such as the Rocky Mountains and several islands throughout the Caribbean. He documents travels and adventures at http://www.lureofthehorizon.tumblr.com. His book Why Do All the Locals Think We’re Crazy? chronicles his kayak foray through the Virgin Islands. His Web site is http://www.scottfinazzo.com.

 

The Prepper's Workbook

 

Glancing at What’s Inside

Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll find in this book’s chapters.

Section 1–Basic Prepping

  • Getting Started
  • Prepareing to Shelter in Place
  • Preparing to Bug Out
  • Basic First Aid and Emergency Response

Section 2–Specific Threat Prepping

  • Tornadoes and Severe Storms
  • Tropical Storms and Hurricanes
  • Floods, Tsunamis and Storm Surges
  • Earthquakes
  • Winter Storms
  • Fire and Wildfire
  • Civil Unrest and Accidental and Deliberate Man-Made Disasters

 

Preparedness author Jim Cobb wrote the Foreword. You may recall he’s been a guest with me on DestinySurvival Radio a few times. He gives appropriate advice by telling you and me to write in this book. Dog ear the pages. Do whatever you need to make it work effectively for you. It’s not meant to be read through and put on the shelf.

Scott Williams says this book developed into something better than he envisioned at first. And it’s not meant for preppers only. Any home owner will benefit from doing the exercises. It allows the reader/user to put vital information in one place. It’s a book that can be used by anyone, anywhere, because you can determine which threats to be on the lookout for in your area.

It contains plenty of exercise pages, check lists, charts, maps, and places to paste your own maps and drawings. You have plenty of blank lines to write on. This book is designed so you can make it relevant to your specific location and situation. Don’t be fooled by the word “Workbook” in the title because there’s a healthy dose of textual material, especially in section 2 with its focus on specific threats.

Subsections appear throughout the book with tips and tricks. They’re short, but powerful additions which shouldn’t be overlooked. There’s no index in the back, but the chapters are well delineated. Plus, plenty of bold headings and subheadings will help you find what you’re looking for.

 

Going a Little Deeper

The book starts with activities centered around assessing your home and works outward from there. Chapters 2 and 3 focus on helping you decide whether to shelter in place or bug out. Instead of asking an expert for advice, you can intelligently make your own decisions. The chapter on bugging out covers important topics like bug out bags, vehicles and retreats. You’ll find good, basic info in the chapter on first aid.

From there the book branches out into discussing specific natural disasters. It’s in the last chapter where they bring up the subject of civil unrest and man-made disasters, both accidental and deliberate. Whether you’re faced with an industrial accident or a riot, stay informed, and avoid crowds. It’s in this last chapter where you’ll find their recommendations on firearms and self defense.

Tucked between a couple of chapters are the 10 essential survival skills the authors believe you and I should develop. As you might guess, those skills include finding water and food, building shelter, building a fire, and knowing first aid and self defense. Scott Williams believes it’s as important to acquire skills as it is to get equipment and supplies.

In light of recent news items, the chapter on fires and wildfires is timely. It should prove useful to you if you live in an area where wildfires occur. There’s also a section in that chapter on talking to children about fire safety.

They didn’t forget about pets either. There’s prepping info to help you take care of your furry or feathered loved ones.

Several books you should have in your survival library are recommended. Though they touch on it early on, the full list is in the appendix. You’ll also find recommended Web sites, important phone numbers, such as for the poison control center, and even a listing of apps for your smart phone. Technology gives us powerful tools, which are great, until they’re not there. Thus, it’s important not to become too reliant on it.

In our conversation we also talked a bit about going to a community shelter, knowing your neighbors, having the right kind of insurance to protect your home and possessions, and being familiar with the counties around where you live. We covered more than I have space to share here.

 

Bouquets and Brick Bats

The Prepper’s Workbook is well thought through. You’ll be amazed by all that’s covered in each chapter–things you might not think of otherwise. If you work through it as the authors intend, you’ll have a preparedness edge. In my opinion, it should sit next to your copy of It’s A Disaster! on your survival library shelf.

Having said all of the above, I find two draw backs to this book–one major, and the other minor.

Rather than a paperback book, you and I would be much better served if this book had been put into a spiral bound notebook or a three ring binder. Granted, there are logistical reasons why that isn’t the case, and we touched on those in our conversation.

Also, the word “workbook” in the title makes me think of school and the drudgery of homework. I’m probably one of only a few who thinks that way. Maybe mentioning guidance or checklists would have been more suitable in the title. This is a minor complaint though, and, after all, this book does indeed require brain and pencil power, and it’s not something you can rush through.

 

Find Out More

Hear my whole conversation with Scott B. Williams and Scott Finazzo by listening to DestinySurvival Radio for July 10, 2014. (Right click to download.) For more information about either of the authors, check out their Web sites given above. Click on the title of The Prepper’s Workbook wherever you see it linked in this post to go to the page where you can order your copy.

If you have any comments about what you’ve read above or heard in this week’s DestinySurvival Radio, feel free to share your thoughts below. If you already have a copy of this book, I’d love to know if you’re using it and how it’s working out for you.

 

Paracord–Practical, Popular, and for Crafts, Too

If you’ve been a prepper for long, you know paracord is practical and popular. But it’s for crafts,too. In fact, there’s a book by Chad Poole called Crafting with Paracord.

 

Crafting With Paracord

 

Unraveling the Contents

Paracord is strong and versatile. It’s ideal for crafting items that are both functional and decorative. Crafting with Paracord uses easy to follow directions and step by step pictures. You’ll discoverhow to make 50 fun and creative projects. The book is complete with knot-tying basics and detailed tutorials. Chad says, “This book is an introduction to the uses of paracord and was written to encourage creativity.”

While it’s true that you can find info about paracord online for free, there are several advantages to having this book. Everything is together in one place. You don’t have to go searching for it. Plus, you don’t have to use paper and ink to print out sheets that may or may not find their way into a file folder or notebook.

The introduction explains what paracord is. You probably already know that paracord was originally used during World War II as parachute line. It can be defined simply as nylon cord wrapped in a braided sheath.

Only a few basic supplies are needed for crafting paracord, including scissors, ruler, and a lighter. Or use a woodburner pen, which can cut and melt the paracord at the same time. Need to know how much paracord to use for a given project? Take a look at the introductory pages..

Right away, Chad gets you into making bracelet loops. The instructions throughout the book are well written, and illustrations are well done. A brief bibliography on the last page suggests titles which include more books on knot tying.

Chapters cover:

  • Solomon bars (You may know them by other names.)
  • Bracelets, bars and keychains
  • Practical ropecraft
  • Brainds and weaves
  • Decorative knots

 

Make projects like…
  • Braids for fun bracelets and watchbands
  • Weaves for one-of-a-kind leashes and luggage straps
  • Wraps for tough knife and flashlight handles
  • Knots for decorative lanyards and clasps
  • Bars for handy ropes and keychains

 

You’ll find knots and designs with familiar names. But some have clever names I’ve never heard of before. Ever heard of a Germ Grenade? See page 79. Want to make a Monkey’s Fist? Go to page 87.

 

Thought Strands from Others

I showed the book to a few other people, including a sister-in-law and a good friend. Both had positive comments to say about it.

My sister-in-law has done a number of craft projects in the past and liked the book. She said illustrations and directions were clear, and she recognized several knots pictured. Her advice is to start at the beginning and work your way through the book because the projects get more advanced as the book progresses.

A friend also agreed that the illustrations are clear. Instructions on making knots are some of the best he’s ever seen. He liked the size and feel of the book, too.

 

A Knotty Objection

One criticism I heard of this book is that it doesn’t have anything to do with survival. It’s more of a novelty. What would you say to that.

My thought is that you could use this book to make items you could sell, such as at craft fairs, prepping expos, etc. Launch your own business. Offer something that could be handy in a survival situation.

Of course, having paracord in a bracelet, knife holder or some other configuration, makes for a convenient way to take along something for EDC (every day carry). So you can be both creative and practical at the same time when you make the book’s projects..

 

Are You Afraid to Braid?

I admit it. This book is for those with more dexterity than I have. I’ve got baseball bats for fingers. And I have to ponder instructions long and hard before they soak in. I’m inclined to stick to buying ready-made paracord products.

On the other hand, it might be totally different for you. This book gives you freedom to make things with paracord you might not be able to find anywhere else. If you’re interested in learning new knots or want to start crafting with paracord, this is the book you want.

When we think ahead to a grid-down situation, having plenty of paracord on hand for making crafts as a family could be a real plus. Perhaps such crafted items could come in handy for barter.

 

Tying Up Loose Ends

Get your copy of Crafting with Paracord by clicking on its title wherever you see it linked in this post. That takes you to the page where it’s featured, and you can place your order there. You can sample Chad’s writings and illustrations on his blog at uniqueropecraft.blogspot.com.

Are you making paracord projects already? Is this book a resource you’d use for starting your own home-based business? Is it a book you’ll tell others about? Or like one critic, do you think it’s more of a novelty?