Day 179: 2020 Pandemic. 410,451 Dead From COVID-19 by the end of the year.

That’s the latest prediction. Which means a surge and more than double the current death toll coming in the next four months.

This is the projection by the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics. They’ve been on target from the start. The model says many of those deaths can be avoided if we follow basic precautions, particularly wearing masks. It also could be much higher if we loosen restrictions and do thing like hold massive motorcycle rallies and football games and open schools. Oh, wait.

We still don’t have any Federal plan to deal with a pandemic that’s been raging all year. In fact, the government is actively working against any sort of plan. It’s trying to juke the stats, putting the re-election of the man who bungled our preparation and response ahead of public welfare. That is a non-partisan reality. We have a quarter of the world’s deaths from COVID yet only 4% of the world’s population. Numbers don’t lie.

What can you do?

Wear your mask. Don’t attend large gatherings of people. VOTE. Frankly, I’m going to vote in person, well masked and social distanced and immediately disinfecting after. I predict that mail-in votes will be used by the current administration to claim voter fraud and try to negate the election. After all the present administration claimed the Republican primaries were rigged in 2016. And won. And claimed the election was rigged. And won. Maybe we should believe?

Get your flu shot. You do not want the double whammy of COVID and flu.

STAY SAFE!

I just updated the free slideshow on dealing with power outages. Now that I have a solid copy of Equinox ready for publication on 22 September, I am focusing on updated all my survival information and on some other projects that touch on it.

The Green Beret Pocket-Sized Survival Guide (same as above, minus the preparation part in order to be smaller in print)

The Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide. Also in Kindle Unlimited.

Stuff Doesn’t Just Happen I and II: The Gift of Failure

Day 176: 2020 Pandemic. Money Can’t Buy Happiness, But Can It Buy Survival? What the Rich Get Wrong

I “what if” for a living.

What makes Special Forces elite is our planning before the actual mission. Planning for all possible contingencies, on top of the actual mission. I did it as an A-Team leader, as a battalion operations officer responsible for deploying 15 A-teams around the world, and as an instructor/writer for many years at the JFK Special Warfare School, which also runs the SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) school.

I’ve applied those experiences as a bestselling writer in multiple genres in fiction, including thrillers, historical and science fiction and in nonfiction writing with my Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide as well as my Stuff Doesn’t Just Happen books. In the former I’m looking forward to possible disasters; in the latter I look back at past catastrophes and dissect them for the cascade events that caused them and examine how similar disasters can be prevented in the future.

I constantly study and examine how many different types of people have been preparing for what the rich call the ‘event’. The ‘event’ is a breakdown of civilization.

Those preparing for the ‘event’ range from the person in the remote already living off the grid, to hard-core bunker preppers, to those plunking down billions/millions of dollars for their exclusive estates in places like New Zealand or the isolation of Montana or buying ‘condos’ in survival silos.

One of the problems when approaching the ‘event’ is that it could be many things. Frankly, a key event is going on all around us right now as the climate changes. We are experiencing survival situations right now as a byproduct of that from wildfires to stronger and more frequent hurricanes to persistent drought to flooding and more.

Thus, the first thing I teach is to conduct an Area Study. Every person and group need to examine their situation, beginning with themselves and expanding outward. For example, in my survival book I cover dealing with a house fire (which odds are you will experience at some level) well before learning how to make a fire for survival out in the woods (have a lighter?)

Thus, the rich make the same mistake most make: they’re focused on the end game and miss the more likely, dangerous events in their everyday life, such as stalking (aka Gavin DeBecker’s Gift of Fear), a helicopter crash or even health issues that are ignored or the dangers in their various mansions.

I’ve put a lot of thought and war-gaming into various scenarios for the rich because of some of my fiction. I’ll discuss more of these in other blogs, but one of the first that comes up is security in case of the ‘event’. The moment you establish a static position, you become a target. Thus, one must consider how to protect that position. Hiring guards raises many issues. Money will be worthless after the ‘event’. So, what are you offering? A place in the survival site? But why then is the no-longer-rich person in a better position than the security? Can you buy loyalty? With what? How long will it last? Does your security have family they will have a higher loyalty/love for?

I have an exponential rule of security: the more you need, the less likely you will have it.

There are ways around this, but one thing I’ve learned is that the rich didn’t get that way by giving things away. As I noted, each person’s situation is different so there is no one answer solves all.

For the rest of us? Get prepared now for the more likely occurrences and even for the event. Start small. Build from there. Here is how to do an Area Study. FREE.

The Green Beret Pocket-Sized Survival Guide (same as above, minus the preparation part in order to be smaller in print)

The Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide. Also in Kindle Unlimited.

Stuff Doesn’t Just Happen I and II: The Gift of Failure

Do People Remember Fail Safe?

It was one of the classics of the Cold War. The strange thing is, that the scenario is just as likely now. There are more nuclear countries than when the original was written and the movie was made.

With the proliferation of disinformation on all sides and the ability to hack into supposedly secure communication systems, who is to say some rogue operative, or even a government, can’t send an order to a unit that isn’t under their command?

How would the unit even know it was an illegal order if it came in the approved channel with the appropriate code words?

When I was in Special Operations we often had no-notice alerts to test our readiness. We had to have our gear ready in our team room. Rucksacks were packed to go. As you can expect these never happened at 9 am on Monday morning.

We’d grab out weapons and gear and head to the airfield. Load onto a C-130 and head out. Was it real? Was it an exercise?

I took that idea and expanded on it for Dragon-Sim 13; not the greatest title, but it stands for a training simulation exercise for a team from Det-K in Korea; the forward based Special Forces unit based in South Korea. I lived for a while there studying martial arts and also occasionally called to active duty tours as needed.

Day 170: 2020 Pandemic. FREE: The Green Beret Pocket-Sized Survival Guide

Wildfires, hurricanes, COVID-19, and more.
 
2020 has not been the best of years and it’s not over yet.
 
The Green Beret Pocket-Sized Survival Guide is the survival portion of the larger Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide. It’s what I have in both our cars and in our Grab-n-Go bags.

The kindle version is free today, 8/27 through Saturday 8/29. Technically, the kindle version is pocket-sized in that it can go in your kindle app on your cell phone. If you get it, make sure you take the extra step to download it to your library! Otherwise you might not have cell phone coverage or Wifi when you need it and its not there.

The print version is indeed pocket-sized.

A survivor of a hurricane that hit Galveston told me how important it was to be prepared and knowledgeable after her experience. A couple of things she confirmed:
 
Never let your gas tank get below half. When the power goes, there’s no more pumping gas.
Make sure have sturdy shoes in your vehicle.
Needed more bandages in the first aid kit as there was a lot of debris and broken glass.
Needed to get their chainsaw sharpened and keep ready.
 Do you know the Rule of Three?
Do you know what to do right away in an emergency/accident? That’s one of the first thing in the pocket guide.

Essentially the pocket guide is the back half of The Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide. It doesn’t have the preparation portion because of space.

Stay safe!

What if the Japanese had succeeded with an atomic bomb in WWII?

Sounds like a reverse Man in the High Castle.

I had never really considered it until I saw a book in the Fort Campbell library some years ago titled Japan’s Secret War: How Japan’s Race to Build its Own Atomic Bomb Provided the Groundwork for North Korea’s Nuclear Program

Seems outrageous, right? First, the author does have some decent points. More importantly, as a writer, it sparked an idea. What if they had succeeded? What if they made two bombs and detonated one, as the author claims, in Manchuria near the end of the war. And the second? They put it on a submarine and sent it across the Pacific to the most likely target: San Francisco. But the war ended and the submarine disappeared. But what if it’s still there? At the base of the Golden Gate. With the enriched uranium on board?

And thus I have the core of a novel that is a modern day thriller and also goes back in history to the end of World War II and not just the atomic bomb program but more. My books always have a heavy dose of true history.

I ended up with The Gate which is only .99 today (8/26 and the next several days).

Here’s the slideshow for The Gate.

Day 168: 2020 Pandemic. And Now The Hurricanes. Are You Prepared?

Laura is growing in strength. And it won’t be the last of the season.

Adding to the problem is evacuating in the midst of a pandemic. Even sheltering since those are usually crowded.

Free slideshow:

Who Dares Wins: Special Operations Strategies for Success.

The Green Beret Pocket-Sized Survival Guide (same as above, minus the preparation part in order to be smaller in print)

The Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide. Also in Kindle Unlimited.

Debunking 10 Persistent Publishing Myths for Writers

My opinion only, based on three decades making a living as a writer and across the spectrum of traditional, hybrid, indie, Amazon imprint, and hieroglyphic stone cutting. The following are things I hear all the time and I tend to think need to be taken with a small dose of hemlock.

  1. “Indie publishing is relatively easy—just get an editor, cover, format and upload”

It takes around three years to learn how to be adept at any profession. That includes self-publishing. There’s a reason all those people work at publishing houses. As an indie author, you have to do all their jobs (except editing and cover art). These days, I recommend fiction authors try to get an agent and get traditionally published to start out. Note, I say start out. I believe every traditionally published author needs to become hybrid ASAP. You can spend your time learning how to be a better writer or spend it learning to be a publisher. Spend it learning to be a better writer.

2. “My publisher will promote my book”

I had a series that sold over a million copies in paperback for Random House. Every time a new book in the series was scheduled, I’d get all sorts of promises about promotion and then nothing would happen. I finally asked my assigned publicist: “Where do you put all your marketing money?” The reply: “Into our bestsellers.” At the time it didn’t make sense and seemed unfair. As time has gone by, I get it. They really can’t make a bestseller. But once they have one, they can ride that sucker.

It doesn’t matter if your indie, trad, or Martian published. You must do the same as far as marketing. What that is? When I teach, I say: “You must market your book. But you can’t market your book. But you must. But you can’t. But you must. But you can’t.”  Got it? Good. That only took me about a decade so you’re ahead of the power curve.

3. “Authors aren’t competing against each other”

This one will get me in trouble, but I hear it all the time. The great brother/sister/alien hood of authors. We’re all in it together. First, when a big-time bestseller says it, fine, they can say whatever they want. They’re going to sell. Because there are two types of readers: the “I need a book, I’m in Costco” type who gets that big-time bestselling author’s book.
Then there is the prolific reader. That’s the audience for all us other authors. And there are only so many of them. And they can only read so fast. So, yeah, we are competing against each other in a tight market.

Does it matter? No. So why bring it up? Because there are authors out there who integrate competition in their business plan. And if you don’t accept that reality, they can affect your business plan.

Heck, AMS kind of runs off of that, doesn’t it? And if you don’t know what AMS is, back to class.

And because I think authors need to get real and face the fact this is a brutal business and we’re not all standing around the campfire linking arms, although I did do that once with Sue Grafton at Jackson Hole, but that’s a story for another day. RIP—a hell of a writer and person. And a realist after coming out of writing television.

4. “Indie book stores are pre-eminent in the industry and we need to support them”

Hell, yeah, I’ve spent thousands of dollars at indies. As a reader. My experiences as an author are not that great. My motto? Support the indie authors. Yay! How often do you hear that one? How many newspaper articles are written lamenting the career implosion of an indie author? None.

There are lots of great indie bookstores, but there are also a number who are kind of snobbish toward genre authors. Romance authors can tell you about that. On average, over half of the indie stores I’ve gone into where I’ve lived (and I’ve lived a lot of places—they haven’t caught me yet) have pretty much given me a cold shoulder since I write genre fiction, not the great American novel.

A couple of times after having my books that I brought in pushed back to me and told “We’re not interested” that store went under within a year. Lots of wailing and weeping and you know what? I tried to help. Still will.

I had to point out to a friend who was big on the “support your indie, boo to the chains” bandwagon that in the town I lived in then, that his book was racked in the chain, but not in the two indies. Support the place that sells your title.

5. “Getting a Bookbub deal is wonderful”

More controversy. I used to run Bookbub ads constantly. When Bookbub was new. Invested thousands and thousands of dollars. When Bookbub was mainly the province of indie authors. I was in on Bookbub so early I used to be one of the people they suggested you follow when you sign up.

A Bookbub ad would cause a big spike. Then a long tail of nice sales.

Two things happened:

The big spike isn’t as big and the long tail is almost gone. I know there are exceptions, but overall a Bookbub ad or a Kindle Daily Deal doesn’t have the impact it used.

Second, New York caught on. Now, the emails are full of bestseller backlist. And remember, it ain’t backlist if you haven’t read it. So, your prolific reader who you need has a choice between you, the midlist author, and a title from a big-time bestselling author. Tough, eh?

Bookbub is part of the trend of pricing ourselves into oblivion, but we’re all guilty of it and it’s just a reality. Hell, I’ll probably try an ad soon for my new series. There’s not much you can do about it, but be aware of the reality.

Here’s a key lesson I learned the hard way:  Don’t joust with windmills. Which leads me to:

6. “Amazon is my enemy”

If you haven’t read The Everything Store, then you haven’t done your homework. Every so often I’ll see an author post something on social media tearing into Amazon. Then I’ll look up that author on Amazon. And there are the author’s books. Now, I know for trad authors, they don’t control where their books are placed, but I assure you, no one is giving back the money coming in from Amazon. Amazon is a reality of the business. They own the eBook market. And 30% at least of the print; probably more now due to the pandemic. Is that correct? Is it fair? That’s a different matter.

Factor Amazon into your business plan. Use it. But also remember that another myth is . . .

7. “Amazon is my friend”

Amazon will screw you if it makes the business decision to change something. It’s not like they picked you specifically. They just made a business decision. You know, like Denzel Washington Man on Fire. It’s just business.

I have so many titles on Amazon I can literally see when the algorithms change based on what happens to my sales.

When they did away with Kindle Worlds with two week’s notice, it devastated some authors who were making a nice living in that niche. If they decide to change royalty rates, they’ll do it and they don’t care whether I, Bob Mayer, like it or not. So, I always keep a wary eye on what Amazon is doing. I also keep an eye on what’s going on in Washington in terms of Amazon.

Not only is Amazon not your friend, I will extend that to

8. “My agent, editor, publisher, etcetera is my friend”

I see writers put out there “I love my agent.”

That’s cool. There are agents I have tremendous respect for and think are great people. Same with editors. But when it’s a business arrangement, it’s a business arrangement. Sort of like marriage. The love can go out the window fast when the numbers don’t add up.

That being said, the biggest mistake I made as a writer is

9. “I can make a living from home and not have to network.”

You and one other person. I think his name is Stephen. For the rest of us, networking is critical. Conferences and cons aren’t for parties. They’re for networking and making friends, even though we’re competing against each other and your agent isn’t your friend, but yeah, she is. Kind of.

Which leads me to the worst myth:

10. “It’s impossible to make a living as a writer”

You’ll hear that one lamented in the halls of MFA programs everywhere. You’ll hear it from authors who ‘failed’. You’ll hear how they got screwed by their agent (who, apparently, didn’t love them back), their editor, their publisher, the bookstores, the readers, yada yada yada.

But you know what? There’s a lot more people making a living writing than you realize. Most of them are flying low, under the radar, because they’re busy WRITING.

I firmly believe now, this moment, is the best time ever to be a writer. Why? Because you control your destiny. The only thing between you and the reader is the internet. The only person who can say no to your career is you. The only person who can make you quit is you.

Trust me. I’m your friend and not competing with you.

The Novel Writers Toolkit.

Write it Forward: From Writer to Successful Author

Day 157: 2020 Pandemic. It’s Still Not Too Late To Get Prepared. Because It Ain’t Like It’s Gonna Get Better

I wish I could be more optimistic. I am at a certain level—I think the average American is a decent person. The problem now is beyond the average American.

Also, the reality of climate change is becoming starker by the month, not by the year. It’s not only the weather changing, but the very landscape. We will see more natural disasters. Wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes, oh my. Yeah. Even in Kansas.

So why prepare now? This free slideshow explains why.

Who Dares Wins: Special Operations Strategies for Success.

The Green Beret Pocket-Sized Survival Guide (same as above, minus the preparation part in order to be smaller in print)

The Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide. Also in Kindle Unlimited.

Day 156: 2020 Pandemic. Society is crumbling from the bottom up but no one seems concerned.

The United States just set a record for daily deaths from COVID-19 and people didn’t even blink. The president publicly announced he is destroying the postal service in order to help his re-election and the Senate went home for three weeks; without passing any stimulus package since their rich friends have already been paid off in the greatest heist in American history to the tune of half a trillion dollars to their buddies.

On a more fundamental level, the base of society is crumbling. People are being evicted and going bankrupt at record levels but all we hear about is the stock market. I went into a Target for the first time since this began and immediately noticed that there were many, many empty shelves. I’ve noticed them in grocery stores in certain food items. But Target? That tells me that non-essentials other than food aren’t shipping. The supply chain is collapsing and no one is talking about it.

As I write this, the president is blatantly breaking another law by campaigning from inside the White House. He, and his staff, have broken this law numerous times. They’ve broken many other laws.

I have no doubt that on election day or shortly thereafter, a warehouse full of real mail ballots filled out for Joe Biden will be “discovered” and the president will declare all mail ballots void. Just now he said that it’s “easy for Russia, China, North Korea and Iran” to do that. Which it isn’t. But it is for his operatives. He repeats the same outright lies over and over—because, as he wrote in his book, if you tell a lie enough times, people will believe. He’s told the same lie about Veterans Choice over 100 times and when confronted ran away. He keeps calling it the 1917 pandemic because he said it once, and he can never, never, change anything he said and admit he was wrong, even about something as trivial as mixing up a date. In a pandemic his own grandfather died in. But it did end World War II.

Underlying it all is a rising tide of anger, fear and desperation. Billionaires have increased their net worth during the pandemic. Think on that. Why do we even have one billionaire? Because they’ve rigged the system in their favor. It’s not democracy or even capitalism.

What they don’t seem to understand, though, is that when the base crumbles, everything on top goes with it. And the base is crumbling right now and no one at the top seems concerned.

They should be.

Who Dares Wins: Special Operations Strategies for Success.

The Green Beret Pocket-Sized Survival Guide (same as above, minus the preparation part in order to be smaller in print)

The Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide. Also in Kindle Unlimited.

Day 154: 2020 Pandemic. WHAT CAN CAUSE THE COLLAPSE OF CIVILIZATION?

World War III.

The use of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons on a large scale.

A series of local conflicts that disrupt trade and commerce on an international level.

Water shortages. This is one of the most glaring threats to our world. Many places in the world already lack clean water. I predict that wars in the future will not be over oil, but over water.

Climate change. While people debate this, I prefer to deal with the scientific reality that we are damaging our environment and Mother Nature has a way of equalizing things.

A large solar flare that bathes the planet in an EMP pulse that destroys electronics.

A pandemic. One will happen and sooner, rather than later.

A depletion of resources.

Zombies. Which actually is a form of pandemic.

A meteor strike of sufficient size.

A volcanic eruption that spreads enough ash to start the equivalent of a nuclear winter.

Economic disruption that spreads.

Remember that great civilizations have collapsed before. Often it wasn’t a single event, but an accumulation of events. The Mayans, Mesopotamia, Persia, Greece, Rome, and on and on. While I am not an alarmist, I think we have a reasonably good chance of seeing a major disruption of our way of life in the next thirty years. As they used to say in the old Army, when they had cigarettes in the C-Rations: Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

Less than that, there are a number of various possibilities. What most people fail to realize is how fragile civilization is and how easily it can break down, with a domino effect that will be shocking.

In researching this, I found many of those addressing this issue are either naïve or gloss over the depth of what will happen. Many dwell on political issues. I’m just going to focus on the practical issues.

While New York and New Jersey struggled to recover from Hurricane Sandy, a friend emailed that they got their power back, and a crew from Alabama had been working in their neighborhood day and night doing this. While this shows the great spirit of America, it occurs to me that that crew would not be there is Alabama needed them. This is key: a large-scale catastrophe that covers most of a continent will preclude aid from inside that continent.

Pre-Collapse

There are stages to surviving an extreme emergency. While a dramatic event might bring it about, it is more likely you will see many signs indicating the collapse is coming. Most people will ignore these signs. The closest I can liken it to is Germany in the 1930s. Many people saw what was coming; the vast majority chose to ignore it. On a much lower level, as the housing market bubbled and boiled in 2006, my wife and I sold our house, against the advice of pretty much everyone. We crunched the numbers and also accepted that things had to change, and not in a good way.

You will see signs of bad things coming. It won’t happen overnight. Severe power outages that don’t get better are another sign.

The key to pre-collapse is, like everything in this book, to prepare. The base level of survival, Grab & Go bags, etc. will not be sufficient. Some preparations can be integrated into your current life as a way of living, such as growing a garden. But you have to start now.

I’m not going to cover the likelihood of various scenarios, because it’s just as likely a random, unexpected event can cause the collapse of civilization as easily as war, peak oil, global warming, etc etc.

The bottom line is it isn’t going to be pretty. You can expect food shortages, fuel shortages, riots, power outages, martial law, war and the complete breakdown of law and order.

And that’s only the first month.

I cannot overemphasize how quickly the veneer of civilization can be stripped away. Some of the ethnic fighting in various places around the world have shown how apparently civilized people can rapidly fall into barbarism. In 10th Special Forces, many of our soldiers were most dismayed by the fighting they saw in the Balkans because those places seemed so much like their own home (Sarajevo hosted the Olympics not long before the war). We tend to think this ‘can’t happen here’ but it can.

Another key to wrap your brain around is that there won’t be any help coming. Once civilization breaks down, there won’t be a reaching out from any remaining pockets. They will be desperate for their own survival. Supermarkets have a three-day supply of food. The world, the entire world, has about a month and a half supply. One of the signs will be panic buying. You don’t want to be caught up in the panic.

On the plus side, you will be amazed how quickly many human beings can adapt to a change in their standard of living. While we will miss our cell phones and lights and supermarkets, we can adapt and evolve.

An extreme emergency requires an extreme mindset. You have to let go of many habits.

So what do you need to do to prepare?

Prioritize your needs based on your area study. The first question is if you can even stay where you are? If you are in a metropolitan area, most likely not. If you live in the suburbs, consider that you will see massive urban flight through your communities. Where can you go? This is taking the concept of the hide site to a whole new level. Since you have now done all your preparations for mild and moderate emergencies it’s time to take it to the next level and prepare for an extreme emergency.

The priorities are the same except on a sustainable, long-term basis: water, food, shelter.

The key word is sustainable. You can stock up a year’s worth of food and have a water source, but that’s not sustainable. Also, a food stock, like any other, is subject to being taken from you.

Here’s a sobering thought: few areas in the United States are locally self-sustaining. Without industrialized food processing, we simply can’t produce enough food to feed our current population level. Think what that means: many people will starve to death. Starving people are desperate people and they will do anything to get food. So your food stock will be like fresh brains to zombies.

Can you live off the land? Do you know how? Do you want to learn how to?

There are things you can stock up on that will be useful. While initially, cash and valuables such as gold coins might have value, when things get desperate enough, other items will become more precious. Weapons and ammunition are two of those. Medical supplies are another. So is food. So is expertise, especially medical.

I’m not going to rehash what’s already been covered in equipment. Look at what has been discussed and then consider it in terms of years of use.

Collapse

Run for the hills boys!

Not necessarily. Evaluate the situation. If you are not in immediate danger, this is a moment when taking your time is important. Gather as much information as possible, understanding that you will hear conflicting accounts. There will be an effort by those in power to suppress panic.

There were those on 9-11 who evacuated the second tower, and then went back to their offices when given the all clear. I’ve listened to tapes of some of those people on their cell phones, decrying this decision as they were trapped after the second plane hit. Be very leery of those who declare an emergency over. In many emergency situations there are after-effects, whether it be follow-on earthquakes, more bombs set for first responders in a terrorist attack, or others.

How do you know civilization has collapsed? When the infrastructure (electricity, roads, rail, flight) fails and does not appear to be coming back any time soon. Many people will wait for help. Unfortunately, the help will be in the same situation. It’s a question of considering your hide site your new home, or, if untenable, moving until you find a locale where you can develop a self-sustaining community for your team.

Who Dares Wins: Special Operations Strategies for Success.

The Green Beret Pocket-Sized Survival Guide (same as above, minus the preparation part in order to be smaller in print)

The Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide. Also in Kindle Unlimited.