We own property out in the Nevada desert, roughly an hour outside of Montello. There is very little to anything out there. Even Montello, as a town, is barely a town at all with its population of less than 100 people. They do have two bars, though, so they have that going for them.
That's why we like it. No, not the bars. The quiet serene feel of the area.
As my children call the night skies, "It's like our own planetarium!" Out in the middle of this desert oasis, we can look up at the stars and see it all. It's amazing!
So, that's why when our security cameras (motion activated) produced a video of what appeared to be a little black dog on the property, we were confused. Where in the world did he come from? How did he get to our property which is located a good mile or more up a dirt valley road?
The first video we received came in late on a Monday night. The video was slightly fuzzy and we weren't exactly sure what we were looking at. Eventually, we figured out it was a small dog. (See pic to the left. This is a still shot from one of the videos).
Because our property is nearly four hours away, and as sad as it sounds, we figured the little guy wouldn't make it through the night (sooo many coyotes in the area). If he did survive the night, he could be long gone before we got there. The desert is huge.
Tuesday afternoon, we received another motion activated video. The little dog was still there! He was sticking close by our cabin. Now, we were quite concerned. There wasn't water there. We didn't leave food outside. We tried reaching out to some acquaintances in Montello, to see if we might be able to get some help. Unfortunately, we had no luck getting a hold of anyone. My husband was out of town (he was actually sending me the security videos from New Jersey) and due to life being life, I couldn't go out there to check on the dog . We kept trying to get a hold of someone.
A writing partner, you say? Why in the world would you want one?
Well, let me tell you...if you find the right match, a person who "gets you" and your writing style, then you will have hit writer's gold. In all honesty, I'm not sure that I would be the writer that I am today without my perfect writing partner at my side. She's been there from the beginning, and boy, does she GET ME.
Not only can I bounce ideas off her and get her input, but on the rare occasion that we get together in person, I can sit in my pjs on my laptop, knowing that she too, will be sitting in her pjs writing on her laptop.
Our relationship is the ultimate balance of push and pull. Enough push to get me to put my butt in the chair and my fingers on the laptop. Enough pull that when either of us make a suggestion we don't like, we feel safe to say, "Nope. You can't make me. You're not my real dad."
For example, we were able to meet for a few days for a local writing conference. We stayed in an Airbnb and split the cost (another benefit of having a writing partner/friend). During that time, on our down day, we sat in our pjs (pajamas are the BEST) and did a few writing sprints. We also made goals with rewards as a motivator. If we meet X goal, we get to do Y as a reward. Rewards motivate me, especially if they are the RIGHT rewards.
What kind of goal and reward system does someone like me and my writing partner make? Well, do a couple of writing sprints and if we both feel we've made progress in our writing, we reward ourselves with a nap.
I like naps. And pjs, too, obviously.
You're probably like, WHAT?!? But yes, the idea of being able to go and lay down, uninterrupted, for thirty minutes is a definite motivator. I'm super easy to please.
The perfect writing partner needs to push you, force you to look at the big picture, help you set goals, and help you decide on a plan on how you're going to get there.
Writing can be a lonely endeavor. You sit alone with your thoughts with your fingers on a keyboard. To find someone who understands the process, understands the blinking cursor on a blank page, and the ultimate joy of breaking through the barriers of writer's block can be a game changer.
But you HAVE to find the right partner for you. There has to be equal give and take.
I have found mine, and I'm incredibly grateful that I did (I sure hope she feels the same).
Here's a couple of good reasons to find a good writing partner:
1) When you're riddled with self-doubt, they can help push you through it with their encouragement.
2) Having someone with a fresh perspective is a total benefit when you're unsure which direction to take your plot.
3) They become someone to be accountable to.
4) They are someone you know who will be truly honest with you. They will tell you if they like your characters and story line or if they think you've lost your damn mind and you're driving your story right off the rails. Honesty is super important. You get almost instant feedback from them.
5) They will help balance you out. You won't be strong in every area of writing, but where you might be weak, they might be strong. They could help strengthen aspects of your writing that you struggle with. Your writing skills will improve because of this.
6) Helping someone with their story will help you have a more critical eye when it comes to your own work, and it will also give your subconscious a break from your own story and time to think through issues you might be having.
You might be asking yourself, "Okay, Smarty Pants. Sounds like a writing buddy might be awesome, but where do I find my perfect writing partner?"
Again with the honesty, it might take a bit of looking to find that perfect match. Just like finding love in your life, you might have to kiss a lot of writer toads until you find the right toad for you. Kind of a bad analogy, but you get the drift. Not every writer you meet will be a good fit. But don't give up.
Your perfect writing partner is out there, if you keep looking. (I found mine years ago, through a local writing group).
I will list a few links to articles below that give you ideas on where you can start looking for your perfect match.
Basically, be open to the idea of finding a great writing friend and partner. And even more importantly, BE a great writing friend and partner once you find them. The benefits are SO worth it.
40 Places to Find a Critique Partner
Where to Find Critique Partners and Groups
Critique Partner Match
After a long long time (I know, I know), the second book in the ANYONE? series is FINALLY HERE! Grab your copy and continue on the apocalyptic roller coaster ride that will leave you breathless and hopefully wanting more (and more is coming)!
To celebrate this long-awaited release, it is GIVEAWAY time! I'm putting together ONE GIANT prize package, so all of the following could be yours by entering the Rafflecopter below.
Good luck and thanks for helping me spread the word!
PRIZES! PRIZES! PRIZES!
You may want to read PART ONE and PART TWO before jumping right into the tips for attending a conference so you can see where I was at in my career and why going to a conference turned my attitude and my writing around.
Sticking you neck out and going to a writer's conference can be scary, especially if you've never been to one before. It can be hard to know what to expect or even if it's worth it to go.
(Hint...it's worth it).
In this blog post, I'm hoping to leave you with a few tips on what you can possibly expect and what you can do to make the experience the best it can be.
First: It doesn't matter if you write poetry, fiction, picture books, short stories, or nonfiction, a writers conference is for everyone. Everyone is welcome. There will be people at ALL stages in their writing that will be attending. So, don't feel as though, "I can't go to a writers conference because I haven't published a book or I don't think I'll fit in" because you will fit in just as you are. That is the truth. Writers who are further along in their career love to help other writers. Do not be intimidated by them. Where else can you go to learn and ask questions of those who have been where you are? Writers as a whole are very supportive of one another.
Second: Most writers are introverts by nature. You may worry how it will possibly work to go to a conference when you're not super out-going. That's okay. The great majority of those in attendance feel the same way as you do. Take it at your pace. Don't feel as though you have to be someone you're not. Be you and know being an introvert is NOT a bad thing. (7 Reasons Why Introverts are Good at Writing).
Third: Try and be a little brave and get to know other writers. The best way to do this is to simply ask, "What do you write?" or "How is your writing going?" Writers LOVE a chance to talk about their passion, and those two questions alone will even get the most introverted of introverts talking. This is how writing groups can be formed and how you might find a great critique partner or even just a great writing friend. If you find someone you feel a kindred spirit to, don't be afraid to ask to friend them on social media or get their email address so you can continue to connect after the conference is over.
**If you haven't read PART ONE, you probably should. It will give you a better understanding of my mind frame and what plans I had for my writing career (psst...my plan was to quit). Then pop back here to hopefully gleam some of the insight I was given**
You're probably wondering what career saving advice I was given that turned everything around for me, that caused me to go from throwing in the towel and walking away to feeling like I've found my writer self again.
I wish I could say it was one profound thing said or done that did the trick, but that just isn't the case.
It was the combination of many little things that did it for me.
The first: I had believed I no longer needed writing conferences because I'd become a more "seasoned" author. I was beyond the need for learning to create dialogue or learning to show and not tell in my writing. Since, I believed most conventions were geared toward the newbie writers, I felt I'd moved on. What I found from going to this particular conference was that I had it all wrong. There were classes offered to writers at every level--from the beginner to the not-so-new-to-the-game writer. The funny thing, even though I was a guild member (published author) and out of all the guild classes offered to guild members, I went to only one. Just one. All the rest were classes open to everyone--newbie or not. They were FANTASTIC classes! I took a class on How to Write Sympathetic Villains and now, I want to write a super villainy book! So, who the heck was I to believe I didn't need to learn anything more? (A jackass, apparently).
Basically, if you think you've learned it all, you're wrong.
My sixth published book ANYONE? exceeded expectations. I had written a book that went to market at the right time and readers were gobbling it up. I spent little on advertising, so all of the attention the book received came organically, and I was feeling pretty darn good about myself. I'd made it in this writing world!
Finally, after five books, and experiencing some mediocre success from them, it was happening! *Release the doves!*
Any other books I would write after this one would surely ride on the tails of ANYONE?'s success.
So I thought.
I published ZIA, The Teenage Zombie & The Undead Diaries the following year, and everything was different. It did not do what I though it was going to do. In fact, it was the exact opposite of what I'd experienced with ANYONE?.
Seriously, the VERY opposite.
I couldn't get this book in front of the right audience no matter how I tried. And boy, did I try! I loved this book (I still do). I loved the characters and the story, and those that had read it, thought it was one of my best works. If I had to do it all over again, I would still write this book. I have no regrets. It's a sweet book with blood, brains, and romance--my cup of tea even if it isn't for everyone else. The problem was that my readers for ANYONE? were not interested in ZIA, something I did not expect, but now know totally makes sense. I get it.
But this "failure," along with some hard personal issues in my life that I was experiencing at that same time, caused me to doubt everything I was doing. Every aspect of my life went under the microscope, including my writing career. It was the making of the perfect storm.
It crippled my writing and a type of depression set in.
Book two, ANYONE ELSE?, was in the works. The cover had been made and promises to readers needed to be kept. I love my readers and I didn't want to let them down, but that only added pressure to my already fragile state of being.
I was struggling. Really struggling. Time and years were slipping away, and I didn't know what to do to stop it or fix it. I'd set goals, and then watch those goals flutter past me, unmet.
I wanted to do anything but write. Doubts plagued me. Horrible thoughts crept into my head every time I would put my fingers to the keyboard. Where I was once able to write a chapter in a day, I was lucky if I could write 100 words in a week. Blogging? Forget about it. My author social media? Practically non-existent. I dabbed a little here and there, but nothing like I once used to.
I no longer trusted my intuition. I no longer believed that I had it in me to create good stories that people would want to read. If I no longer believed in myself, how could I possibly expect anyone else to?
GUEST POST BY: Mike Johnson (Website: Mike's Gear Reviews)
It has begun, the dreaded zombie apocalypse is upon us! Grab your survival gear as we give you the DON’TS of zombie survival disguised as good and seemingly logical ideas.
Zombie Tactic Fail no. 1: First stop… The Gun Store!
Unless some of you have been living under the proverbial rock, we all know that zombies can only be killed by destroying the brain or removal of the head. Of course it makes perfect sense to surround yourself abundant in guns and ammo so the first thing that comes to mind is to head out for a trip to the gun store.
Why it will get you killed:
You arrive at the venue to grab all the guns you can possibly carry then arm yourself to the teeth with the perfect in-and-out plan. Only to find yourself with everything BUT the guns. It did not occur to you that everyone else has the same idea. No weapons, just desperate people.
Before the world goes awry, own a gun, in fact, you should have your own zombie stomping arsenal ready as early as last year.
Zombie Hunting Arsenal:
– Handguns / Revolvers
– Machine Guns
– Katana – Side Note: Ideal for in-laws, and ex’s (of the Zombie variety, of course)
– Baseball bat with barbed wire
Note: Teach your family to safely use guns.
Zombie Tactic Fail no. 2: Evacuate Immediately
Panic spreads faster than wildfire as news tells of the recently deceased finding their way into the city. Potential danger is in its all time high and with it, paranoia. That passerby, the delivery guy, your own neighbor, anybody could be infected! You gather your family, pack everything including clothes and food then venture out of the city.
Why it will get you killed:
Your inner voice screams only of three words that are clearer than the summer sky: Leave the city! So you do. It could be the fear disorienting you but poor judgement has led you to the nearest exit with the rest of the population. Vehicles crowd a small road then start to bottleneck and eventually, traffic comes to a halt. The perfect setup for zombie buffet.
Always be prepared to leave.Your closet should contain a bag ready for any and all disasters, preferably a backpack containing only the essentials, emergency kit, a few clothes and of course food that will last you for days.
Once leaving home, avoid the main path for it may lead to crowded streets and we all know what comes after that. Stealthily head to the back route instead.
Your home should always be well stocked. In this way you also avoid panic buying at the last possible minute. Food with long expiration dates, medicine, clean water and extra fuel.
While brimming the storage with supplies is important, setting up home defenses is equally vital, keep in mind that this is the zombie apocalypse.
Wait until all the commotion dies down (pun not intended) before leaving.
Zombie Tactic Fail no. 3: Turn Your House Into a Fortress
Events like these in zombie films, there scenes in which people are watching the television where the news anchor or government official will say “stay in your homes and lock the doors.” A large percentage will do this. Not only that, they also bar every window with heavy objects found around the house then stay as long as they can or until the special forces come and rescue them.
Why it will get you killed:
In how many living dead themed movies have you seen the cavalry arriving at the end? Not many because most of the time, the authorities get overrun as well. Those who rely on their promise end up disappointed or worse.
How long can you last a siege with what you have on hand now? A week? A month? Even with weapons stockpiled to carry you through countless waves, Zombies can wait… FOREVER!
Zombie Tactic Fail no. 4: Use Close Fighting (Melee) Weapons
They are coming to get you! Zombies approach limping, crawling, brisk walking as they spot you out in the open. With whatever you are holding, be it a shovel, a bat or a machete, you decided to fight. It will be easy because they do not possess the reflexes to dodge attacks and their only combat skill is grabbing and biting. You swing away in frenzy at the horde and kill a lot of them.
Why it will get you killed:
First off, it’s not everyday you use melee weapons to kill so chances are, you do not know how to, especially, at the beginning of this extinction level event.
Considering that you have the superior fighting skills, realistically speaking, sooner or later you will tire and at that moment, be in snacking range.
Run – Take it from Rick from The Walking Dead, don’t take chances and in this case, your best defense is to avoid confrontation. Just rush to a safe place. Invest on cardio now for when the time comes, you’ll be glad you did.
Wear protective gear – Your safety precaution checklist should include wearing the proper protective gear. It will be worn most of the day so it must be comfortable and light so you are mobile, you are fighting zombies and the downside of having a heavy metallic armor is exhausting yourself. Against a group, it would be useless as they will eventually overpower you.
All it takes is one bite so leave nothing exposed. Walkers usually target the arms, shoulders and neck. As for the crawlers, the calves and ankles. It wouldn’t hurt to add extra on these.
Shoot from a distance – If you have a gun, then utilize its long range capability. The perks of owning one and knowing how to use it makes you indispensable. To be able to take every zombie down from afar makes you and your group invincible.
Use a rope – Zombies are clumsy. They bump into garbage cans, fall in ditches and get themselves caught in obvious traps. In other words, they are not that bright (could explain why they are after the brains). Now roping those zombie feet, while it does not do quite much damage, it immobilizes them for a moment and grants you time to either run or bash their heads. Simple and effective.
Zombie Tactic Fail no. 5: Aim For the Head
When the world turns upside down, you might have difficulty locating active ammo manufacturers. Best conserve your ammo until you do so it is key to aim for the zombies’ weak spot which is the head. It saves you the effort and the next shot intended for that other zombie.
Why it will get you killed:
How good a shot are you? When you see one coming at you are you able to think clearly and hit the head? You might find that it is not that easy and before you know it, you have spent your ammo. Then the noise you made with the barrage of rounds have invited more zombies to your area. You may be carrying the latest model of semi-automatic rifles complete with attachments such as night vision scope, laser sight, foregrip and even a grenade launcher but failure to fully utilize spells doom for you.
Practice your aim some other time. In situations like these aim for something bigger, the pelvis.
Your goal is to survive. Yes, shattering the hip bone does not kill it but if one goes down, then you’ve got one less zombie to worry about. There could also be a chance for the next zombie to trip on the fallen undead.
Zombie Tactic Fail no. 6: Live Off the Land
So you managed to get out of the city, travel far and find a piece of safe haven in the outskirts. The land is flourishing and full of life, seemingly untouched by man. First thing you do is secure the area and set up camp. After days you notice several deers wandering. Fresh meat is suddenly back in the menu.
Why it will get you killed:Unless the area is really remote, in circumstances like these, it is most likely for you to serious experience competition with a lot of hungry hunters. You don’t suppose you’re the only one in search of land do you?
It is imperative to stockpile or buy emergency food early on. There will come a time when animals are hunted faster than they can reproduce. Whether you blame it on the seasons or blame it on other men but one thing’s for sure, after they have moved on, emergency food is your only hope.
Zombie Tactic Fail no. 7: Going Alone
You have the athleticism, can hold your own in a fight, has high survival IQ and a green thumb to go with it, you are the epitome of a survivalist, what more could you possibly need? Everyone else is considered dead weight. Getting in your way, saving and carrying them on your back all the time. Also risking your own safety for them. Hindrances are what they are.
Why it will get you killed:Human beings are generally social creatures. Let’s say you can scavenge, hunt and defend yourself without the aid of a party, but in times you become frail and sickly you’ll realise their importance. Working in groups is how we have survived for thousands of years. While it is possible to live on by going solo or in a small group, ultimately, to go from survival to thriving, you will need a team assigned for different tasks such as hunting, fishing, farming and growing crops. Civilizations begin this way.
Join a trustworthy group. Bear in mind that non-combatant members do not automatically render themselves useless. Who knows, one might have expertise in designing defenses, another could be a doctor. Not only would it raise your chances of survival, now you have a better shot at triumphantly taking back the world. Of course you should still have your survival gear with you at all times.
Bonus: The Walking Dead DIY Survival Kit1. Solid bug-out bag (backpack)
2. Water purification filter & 2-liter hydration bag
3. High-energy, easy to store & tasty food
4. Shelter – high quality rain poncho that can be used as a tarp
5. Fire starter – stormproof matches, fire starter
6. Tools – Knife wrapped in paracord and sharpening stone, multi-tool
7. First aid kit
8. Stay warm – space blanket and/or sleeping bag
9. Tactical LED Flashlight and/or glowstick
10. All purpose paracord belt
11. Hand crank radio
12. Navigation tools – mirror, compass
That’s my round-up of the survival gear that will help you survive a Zombie apocalypse! Check out my gear reviews to find the best survival gear for you!
6 Essential Items You Need to Prepare During a Zombie Apocalypse
10 Best Survival V Shows [Like The Walking Dead]
Oh, how I had missed the days of placing a vinyl record on my turn table and watching it spin round and round as Cyndi Lauper, Michael Jackson, or Elvis carted me away to another world.
I had quite the collection, too: Simon and Garfunkel, Dolly Parton, Madonna, Disney, The Bee Gees, etc... Yes, my tastes were all over the place, but that was the kind of person I was.
The kind of person I still am.
A lot of my collection came from relatives that had passed on. Records I enjoyed because they had once enjoyed them. Good memories.
But, with tape cassettes and then CD's making their debut, my records became too cumbersome and old-fashioned. I couldn't haul them to college either, and after awhile of them simply sitting in a storage box, I donated them to a thrift store. Now, I shake my head in shame, looking back on my stupid teenage self for making that decision. I had the entire Elvis Presley's Greatest Hits Collection (six albums). Now, gone. That is only one example of the kind of treasures I gave away.
So, when I saw the above little pink portable record player at my local Marshalls store, I knew I had to make it mine.
Merry Christmas to me!
But, what's a record player without records? Exactly.
And so began my journey to start a new collection.
It's strange that this simple pink Victrola player could bring me so much happiness. There's just something nostalgic and joyful about a spinning and a tiny needle finding the right grooves, that turns my lips upward.
I'm jumping into a "new" old world, going to record stores and thumbing through racks and racks of albums like I once used to, years and years ago.
It's all new to me, but in a very familiar way.
But two days into the trip, my left lower back really began hurting and I started having chills and fever. I was certain my infection had climbed into my kidney, but with it being late in the evening and being far away from the nearest hospital, I decided to suffer through the night, and then go to the Bear Lake clinic in the morning. Worst night ever. I was miserable. Even with several blankets, I couldn't get warm, and I shook horribly.
But sometime during the night, I did feel a lot better. My fever seemed to break, and by morning I felt well enough to drive to the clinic where all my tests came back negative, but was put on an antibiotic anyway, since sometimes an infection won't show up until after a culture is completed.
Unfortunately, on the drive back to the cabin, the chills started again, and I couldn't keep anything down. I was freaking freezing! Here it is, the end of June, up in the 90s temperature wise, and I'm wearing a hoodie, socks, and am covered in blankets.
While everyone went to the beach (I insisted everyone keep having fun) my poor mama stayed behind to take care of me (which is what mama's do even if you're 45 yrs old). As the afternoon wore on, once again, I began to feel like I was on the mend. Fever broke. I kept an antibiotic pill down, and even ate a little bit. Things were looking up.
We had all planned to go see a play at the Pickleville Playhouse, and since I was doing much better, I went along (I had such hope and optimism). I made it to intermission, but during the second half, the darn chills crept in again, and I had to excuse myself.
I sat in the car, with the heat turned all the way up (I was freezing even though it was the end of June and well over 80 degrees outside that evening). I was wearing a hoodie and had a blanket over my lap. I kept having to open the car door to throw up on the ground. Not a good time at all.
When the play ended, and my husband took one look at me, he said enough was enough, and even though it was nearly 11pm and we'd have to drive an hour through a dark and twisty canyon, he was taking me to the emergency room.
And I'm really glad that he did.
We weren't there more than 15 minutes when my heart rate went crazy high, my oxygen levels dropped, and my blood pressure crashed. All this while fighting a 104.8 fever. They placed me on monitors, slapped oxygen on me, and hooked me to two IV's. Yes, TWO IV's. I had ultrasounds, chest x-rays, and a CT scan done.
Unbeknownst to me, because I was in such bad shape and could hardly think, all my tests were coming back negative. My blood work showed an infection was causing havoc, but they couldn't figure out where it originated. Kidney and UTI tests all showed negative. Chest x-rays, negative. CT scan, negative. Ultrasounds, negative.
Well, at 4:00am, I got a lovely ride on an ambulance to another hospital over an hour away, because that particular hospital didn't have an ICU.
I kept asking, "Am I that bad?" and they'd say, "Yes, you are." The ER doctor said that had I not come in that night, most likely by morning I would've been intubated and life flighted out of there. Turns out, I had sepsis. I'd never heard of it. Neither had my husband, who when they were settling me into ICU, had to wait outside. He Googled it and got the crap scared out of him. (People die from sepsis, so it's no joke).
I spent the next three days in ICU. Lots of blood work, more ultrasounds, and even a EKG later, and the doctor still had no idea where the infection came from. I overheard him talking to my team and saying, "This could be an episode of HOUSE."
But, the regime they had me on to kill the infection and get me out of the septic stage was doing its job. I was slowly getting better, and honestly, that was all that mattered. After three days in ICU and two more on the the regular floor, they deemed me well enough to go home.
A month later, and I am doing much better. My stamina is slowly coming back and I'm not nearly so tired, but I do have a lovely cough I acquired during my stay in ICU (due to them pumping so much fluid into me). It's annoying and causes its own set of problems, but I can live with a cough.
A cough is doable, especially since the alternative could've been so much worse.