Bob Anderson and I are working on #33 DEEP STAR, the fourth book we have done together in the SURVIVALIST series, and, as you may know, we have done three short stories featuring characters from the SURVIVALIST.  We also have collaborated on another series of books, THE ROURKE CHRONICLES.  Like many long distance collaborations, we’ve had a few rocky spots to work out along the way but I think most wrinkles have been by now ironed out.  To bring back a series of books that has been dormant since 1993, with most of the original characters intact and many new ones introduced, is not an easy task, especially when the creator of the series is no longer there to lend a hand. 

      Jerry had been interested in bringing back the SURVIVALIST saga a few years ago but wasn’t quite sure how to go about it.  He had had a great many adventures lined up for the gang, but he was never able to use them because of the confines of the genre we were originally in.  Our publisher at that time didn’t have a line of science fiction but, they did have space to fill in the men’s adventure section of bookstores.  The whole idea of the Eden Project, underwater cities, and advanced cryogenics were more or less slipped into the “men’s adventure” books when no one was looking.  We always thought of the series as science fiction with a lot of adventure. 

     I read a reader comment that, “Jerry would roll over in his grave if he knew where the series was being taken.”  The SURVIVALIST is going right where he and I outlined it a long time ago.  Jerry was a huge science fiction buff and always wanted to let loose with aliens and evil clones and the like and Bob and I, guided by what Jerry had in mind, are letting his ideas fly.

     Another thought Jerry and I had when mulling over what life would be like for the Rourkes was how we would deal with their modern technology.  We had explored this in the original series in episodes dealing with the underwater city of Mid-Wake where medical procedures were now advanced to the point where many common diseases were eradicated such as Cancer but, there was still no cure for the common cold.  In this updated series, John Rourke still drives a truck when more advanced vehicles are available and people still fly on commercial airplanes to get from one place to another while some others prefer alien spacecrafts.  As with any civilization emerging from the ashes, the basics that make life comfortable and worth living may not so much evolve as try to resemble possessions from our not too distant past. Some things change and improve over time and some things don’t.

     Human nature, we thought, was something that would not change over time.  Over the course of hundreds of years of rebuilding a world destroyed by war and mistrust and greed, would we expect a new world inhabited by perfect people who loved and cared for each other?  Wars, unholy alliances and evil, as well as politics, still reign in this new world and a line has been drawn between good and evil.  No matter how far away we travel, both in time and space, we bring with us part of our home.  You CAN bring it with you.





                I just finished reading Jim’s latest contribution to my bookshelf and I must say I have a major concern.  I don’t like the title; I think it is way too misleading.  This book should not be intended for the “Prepper community” only.  The information between the covers can and should be of value to each and every one of us on this planet.  Check it out and see if you agree with me that the time reading it and the money spent was worth the investment.

                As with all his books and articles, Jim enlightens us in an easy to understand and entertaining format.  I learned a lot about banking and world currency and precious stones that I certainly didn’t expect to find included here and was advised not to bury all my valuables in the back yard; too bad I’ve forgotten the specific locations.  He covers investing, bartering and common sense debt reduction, all important subjects to consider whether you are expecting a potential widespread financial disaster or just keeping your personal finances afloat.

                If you’re looking for a dry, overly complicated reference book that covers fiscal responsibility and corporate mumbo jumbo, please don’t bother with this volume as you will be sorely disappointed.  If, on the other hand, you want a practical guide to surviving short term financial downfalls and perhaps long term prosperity via practical tips and suggestions, get this!

                I don’t know what Jim has in mind for his next book but I do know that it’s already on my short list of gotta reads. 

BTW     Shelby’s feline friend, Oreo, is still a prominent member of our neighborhood and word has  gone around that she is either dining on way too many mice or, more likely, is "with kittens".  I'll keep you posted.









Spring 2015 is finally making its presence felt.  Here in the South we’ve been fluctuating between cold temperatures, rain, warm temperatures, rain and more rain with just enough sunshine peeping through occasionally to keep our hopes up.  On an early morning backyard walk with Shelby, I noticed the water in the birdbath was frozen only to have the thermometer reach up into the 80s by that afternoon.  The warmth lasted for a day or two before dropping again into the uncomfortable zone, of course, accompanied by rain. 

                Spring puts on a sly magic act each year.  We spend too much time with our noses pressed up against the window waiting for the sun, waiting for the rain to stop, complaining about the cold and having to wear extra layers of clothing, complaining about the expensive heating bills we’ve gotten for too long now.  Our cravings lean toward hearty comfort foods that fatten us up, but since we’re swaddled in sweaters and sweats it goes unnoticed, at least for a while.  Not to worry though since it’ll be easy to shed those extra globs of flab when the weather warms up.  Sure…

                The magic act, of course is that while we’re busy wishing and wanting winter to leave, we so often forget to notice the signs that spring has quietly moved into the neighborhood.  The daffodils punch up through the still frozen ground, their butter hued heads turning toward the sun.  Knobs of green and white and pink and yellow stand prepared on the trees and bushes, at the ready to burst into bloom when the signal is given that it is now their turns to perform in this seasonal play.  I can see in the pasture behind my house calves exploring their home turf while still keeping Mom in sight at all times, not yet confident to strike out too far on their own.

                Spring, like most good things, is quick to come and even quicker to leave.  The daffodils have lost their luster and the beautiful clusters of white flowers on my Bradford Pear trees are turning brown and blowing away with every gust of wind.  Some students are off this week for spring break which is a joyful occasion for both kids and teachers, even though the weather forecast calls for rain almost every day.  My grass needs cutting but is too wet to mow and my porch needs some repair work but I need the wood to dry out first. 

I do know that soon enough we will be complaining about the heat and the pollen count and how we need some rain for our gardens to grow.  How can you get the kids to bed when the sun stays out so late?  Gotta get rid of the Fire Ants…the bugs are annoying…the dog won’t stop eating the hornets and the cat keeps pooping in the vegetable garden.   

                I think I’m going to try to enjoy the moment and step out of the office and take a walk in the cool, squishy dampness.  Since we can talk about the weather all we want but can’t do much about it, I’m going to forget the past winter, not worry about the prospect of summer and just focus on the now.  The magic show is still ongoing and I want to catch the next act. 

Is that the sun I see?




Recently, while going through a few boxes of accumulated
“stuff,” I came across a trip diary that I had written in the spring of 1980.  Jerry and I and a five year old Jason pulled a borrowed travel trailer from Commerce, Georgia to Juarez, Mexico and California and back on a journey that took us twenty-four days and totaled 5,909 miles.  We drove and camped and drove and camped some more.  Some days we battled torrential rains, some days blistering heat and then, we encountered snow and ice, not necessarily in that order.  Within those few days we managed to endure all four seasons, not to mention broken camper parts, worn out hoses and plenty of gas stations in the middle of nowhere.  As much as I complained in the diary I know I wouldn’t have changed a thing about the trip.  It was an adventure.

                Our excuse for this journey was that we could make stops along the way and do some interviews for publication.  My thinking was that we could make enough money to pay for the entire trip and then some.  I was young and naive and Jerry, excessively gullible to my charms.  We started the trip with the brakes not working too well and sunny skies and our first night in a campground worrying if we were going to disappear in a Mississippi mudslide as we were parked on the side of a hill and endured rains that just kept coming.

                We did interviews with some custom knife people who graciously entertained us and introduced us to their family members.  Jason especially enjoyed visiting a certain knife maker who had a three month old puppy.   Along the zig-zag route our trip took we had a really good time visiting with Dan Delavan of Plaza Cutlery in Costa Mesa, California and with John Bianchi at his holster factory and Western museum in Temecula, California. Housed in his museum were everything from stagecoaches and wax figures to Bill Cody’s saddle and rifle to John Wayne memorabilia; one of which was Wayne’s rifle which Jason got to hold. We were able to visit with some author friends, getting to actually meet them face to face after years of phone calls to each other. 

                The highlight of our trip for Jason was stopping for a day to visit Disneyland.  What made the entire trip over the top for Jerry was visiting Tombstone, Arizona.  Being an Earp fan for most of his life, standing where Wyatt and his brothers and Doc stood facing the Clanton gang in that vacant lot on Fremont Street, otherwise known as the O K Corral, was a dream come true.  It did take a little bit of the awe out of him when he saw the gigantic neon sign showing us the way to Boot Hill, though.  An unexpected pleasure there was a chance meeting with one of the outdoor writing greats, Don Shumar, who at that time owned a local gunshop located inside a saloon.  We had a wonderful time with him as he regaled us with historical facts of both Tombstone and of the Earps.

                Two of the stops we made during out trip influenced the first book in the Survivalist series which we were just getting underway.  We found a great pizza place and a not so great RV park in Benson, Arizona and named the courageous flight attendant who helps our hero, Sandy Benson.  Obviously the Benson part came from the town and we gave her the first name of Sandy after the landscape surrounding it.

In TOTAL WAR, John Rourke and his new companion Paul Rubenstein trek from the location of their crashed airplane to Albuquerque, New Mexico where they encounter a priest trying to help some of the wounded and dying residents seeking shelter inside an old mission church.  We actually visited this church during our travels and spent some time talking to a priest who was understandably proud of his historic house of worship.  San Felipe de Neri church was built in 1793 after the original church building, erected in 1719, collapsed.  If you’re in the area, it’s in the Old Town Plaza area and worth taking a look at. 

We came home with a lot less money generated than we wanted to but got to visit parts of the country where neither of us had ever been.  We met lots of great people, learned how to repair frozen water and sewer lines, and had plenty of time to just talk to each other with no phone or doorbell to interrupt us.  Those were some great days!

Here it is thirty-five years later and I realize we are encountering the same fluctuating weather without leaving home.  I recently made the mistake of telling a friend of mine that daffodils were starting to break through the ground in my front yard and that usually signaled an ice storm.  Yep!  We’ve gone from warm weather to record breaking cold, ice storms and snow and high winds in less time than it took us to drive across America.  Bring on the dust storms and tumbleweeds!  Spring will be here soon enough.




Almost three months ago I told you about Shelby and how she was sent to me to try my patience.  She’s still working hard at it.  In fact, I don’t think she even has to try, it just happens naturally.  When I first wrote about her I mentioned that she still had a bit of shyness and insecurity to deal with.  Forget it!  That’s all over with!  She runs the house and all its environs with an iron paw. 

                No longer does she steal into the bedroom, click, click, clicking across the floor, removing a slipper to put near her while she sleeps on the couch at night, senses alert and still watchful for any lurking danger.  I do miss that for some reason.  Nor does she hide some of her body parts under the bed when she feels guilty because she now never seems to feel guilt.  Her actions are justified because she is who she is.

                Shelby has taught me to not leave anything on kitchen counters or the stovetop that I don’t want removed.  She is a good trainer.  I have lost little lately but for one exception.  A few days ago I returned from the grocery store, emptied the numerous plastic bags and put my purchases up and away, leaving out just some produce that I normally don’t refrigerate.  Needing to make a living to pay for my next shopping trip, I went down to the office and continued working on a project.  By the time I came back upstairs, the sun had gone down and the house was settled in winter gloom.  Halfway up the stairs I noticed something in the middle of the living room rug that had not been there earlier; it was brown and roundish.  A potato?  No, I hadn’t bought any.  I gingerly picked it up to take a closer look, and then I thought about turning on a light.  It was brown but as soon as I started peeling back the skin, realization hit me.  OMG Shelby ate the avocado and left the pit!  My suspicion proved correct as I found a small scrap of green, bumpy skin.  Shelby had bypassed the bananas and tomatoes and chose the avocado as her dog treat.  I figure she must be Irish, stealing peas, broccoli, lettuce and now avocadoes.


        Remember the evil devil puppy across the street?  The puppy has grown and is now larger than Shelby.  Though they’ve never been formally introduced, his presence has given Shelby many hours of joyful barking, growling and posturing.  Sadly he and his family are in the process of moving, leaving their house and yard vacant.  She will hopefully soon encounter another adversary of equal stature to keep at bay.  I thought she had one but things just didn’t work out that way.

                A day or so before Thanksgiving a cat started hanging around the house, peering in through the windows and trying to get inside any time a door was opened.  I have had cats in the past; past is where I want them to stay.  She was driving Shelby crazy and doing a good job doing the same to me.  Beside the hassle of getting through the doors there were the late night walks when there’s no creature stirring except me and the dog that I’m encouraging to do what has to be done quickly. We could feel these green, glowing eyes staring right at us.  Shelby is not alone, I’m sure, in not performing well with an audience and this just added to the time spent in the cold and wind.  I checked throughout the neighborhood but nobody claimed missing a cat.

                As the days grew shorter and the temperatures drastically dropped I resigned myself to making a little shelter under the front stairs so the cat would at least be able to get out of the wind.  The cat which my youngest grandchild named Oreo, took this as a sigh of permanent residency.  Having a cat living outside my home with a dog that wanted to eat it became commonplace.  Sometime during Christmas week though they made a truce which still holds.  When I take Shelby outside Oreo greets us and she and Shelby nuzzle and sniff each other’s behinds.  Once this ritual is over Shelby walks the outside perimeter of the property while Oreo follows but nearer the house. Shelby doesn’t try to kill and eat the cat and the cat has given up on jumping on the dog’s back.  I don’t know if they will be BFFs but it’s a start at world peace.