My Books

I have about six channels of stories I want to write. Definition is a new channel. This is the one where I let my optimistic view of humanity leave this fragile little planet of ours to rise to new challenges. I’m giving serious thought to making this into a long-term serial story in which each novel is like an episode in the story of humanity’s growth into space. It depends on the level of interest from you. If you like it, let me know. I have enough ideas to keep this one going for a very long time. Definition is the tale of an ex-military pilot who makes his living running goods and personnel around the solar system. A malfunction with his ship brings him into contact with an old war buddy just as a new conflict breaks out in our cosmic neck of the woods. He teams up with a young boy who is confined to a wheelchair but radically special in one other way, a displaced young man from a mining asteroid,and one angry ex-girlfriend. Together, they are pulled into the larger story of the Expansion.

 

The Renewal Series begins with a young man in a post-Breakdown America. He is a Reclamation Engineer, tasked with recovering usable land from the ruins of old real estate development. On his very first solo assignment out of training, he stumbles across a secret community in the wilds of Coffee County, Tennessee that changes everything he thought he knew about the world around him. He meets the leader of this community, who is a generation older and who lived through the events of the Breakdown, almost forty years in the past. The older man reveals his family’s story as our young engineer is pulled into a series of adventures that promise a struggle to define the direction of a future trying to recover from the cataclysmic events of the past.

 

79 thoughts on “My Books

  1. I truly am enjoying your books. I just finished #4, and will have the next two done by the weekend. I love how its almost two books in one, and the transition is wonderful. I hope you keep writing, I’ll keep reading.
    Thanks..
    Brian

  2. Thank you, Brian. I was writing Renewal 9 when I saw your message come in. I dropped the transitions for a while, on the idea that they were getting contrived and repetitive, but you’re the second person this week who said they were important. I’m learning new things every time I sit down to write, and I truly appreciate the feedback.

  3. I am currently on book four, I have already downloaded five and six to my Kindle, how soon will the others be on amazon, I absolutely love the series!!!! Your characters have depth and life. I really enjoy the back and forth between the past and now. I haven’t found anything I don’t like other than the fast I am reading a book a day and hate having to wait for another installment.

    • Thank you very much! I especially appreciate your comments about my characters. I’ve been writing steadily so that I don’t lose track of the details, and I’m on the final installment of the series. Editing is the bottleneck right now. I still have editing to do on 7, 8, and 9, but I’m sure that 7 will appear on Amazon this weekend. The “now” will continue into the story beyond Renewal, but the past will be shared with other characters and new stories.

  4. I have really enjoyed this series as I have read it all over the past three weeks. It is good thing to find something new to read over here since there are not any English bookstores. It is also refreshing to have an apocalyptic science fiction book that is not about zombies or extreme survivalist. Can’t wait for the next ones only wish the stories were longer so I wouldn’t have to download 2 at a time to make it through the week.

    • I appreciate it, DS. Where are you? Thanks for noticing the lack of extreme survivalists (and zombies). I’m hoping people can relate to the idea that this is a more or less typical family caught up in it. Yeah, sorry about the shortness. I have a lot to learn. The sequel will come in out in full novel length. Thanks again for reading.

      • Oh I’m stationed in Germany hence the lack of bookstores in english. These stories now that I think about it read like Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet series and have a bit of coloquial dialogue like Robert Heinlein’s book where you are hooked in the first couple pages. It would be nice to find out some more of what caused the breakdown in the first place and why the Army would turn against the people as well. Anyways great stories and thanks for the quick response.

        • Thanks for the kind comparisons. I haven’t read Paulsen, but he just went on my list. I’ve always been a Heinlein fan because of the social nature of his work, although I think he sometimes got carried away with the concepts. Given the time period he was writing, I can see why over-the-top social structures were important.

          In Renewal, I needed semi-plausible setup for apocalypse, and I chose one that lines up with my own worries about the world. I kept the viewpoint limited to the perspective of the eleven year old Bill because I honestly wasn’t prepared to work out the details. The sequel, on the other hand, involves a grown and politically aware character who can make better observations about what is happening. He is also in a more populated region. He will have plenty of opportunity to learn more about the events of the Breakdown.

          As for the Army, I don’t see it as a full scale Army turning on the people problem. I see it as a post-Army situation. Command and control breaks. Supply lines fail. Lots of soldiers would rather starve than turn renegade. Some, enough to make the rest look bad, will cut loose out of desperation, and having the weaponry and training, will look for the most expedient means of staying alive. I think the danger lies in the middle ground. Say you’re in unit that has no contact with high level command, but you have a CO that is highly respected by you and your unit. That CO decides to take matters into his own hands, and next thing you know, you are raiding farms for food to survive. You personally may not be willing to do that, but inside your unit, that’s the situation. Now, if it’s a moral dilemma, you have a very hard decision to make. All speculative, of course, but just to give you an insight into how I think something like that could happen.

          • Can’t wait for the sequel and to read what happens next. Yes I can now see how the breakdown could happen as a really hungry or desperate person could not really be expected to make moral decisions. Others though quickly succumb to group thinking and giving in to authoritative figures such as your families. Anyways looking forward to the sequel perhaps located in the puget sound lowlands or eastern Washington ;).

  5. Jim,

    I have found your “Renewal” series very refreshing and quite a page turner. As a government employee, a veteran, a prepper and a family man…Thanks for opening the eyes of some of Renewels readers, especially on a day as important as this one, which changed the lives of many people from many nations around the globe.

  6. Jim,
    I’ve zipped through the first 9 books in pretty short order. Insomnia makes for lots of reading. It’s a great story, the rebuilding of America after the Breakdown.

    I’ve noticed that a lot of the characters have ‘evil grins’, when looking at someone, or in the refrigerator rooting for a sammich, or what have you. You may have used that phrase a bit much.

    Also, you’ve used a couple of similes that really irk me. You used the Grinch that Stole Christmas a few times to describe a grin, and ‘the parking lot on Black Friday’ in #9.

    Those similes pulled me completely out of the time period that you’ve created with your series of books, because they make reference to popular culture NOW. They are out of place.

    I like the morality of your protagonists.

    • Hi Daggs. Thank you for your comments. As soon as I expand my fifteen word vocabulary, I’ll revisit the evil grins. I suspect you are right about overusing the phrase. Personally, I think there are number of words and phrases that really need some variety. I agree with you about Black Friday. That was done in the third person voice, and doesn’t fit at all. I’ll defend the Grinch imagery, though. It was in Bill’s voice and seems the type of pop culture that a kid would retain from before the Breakdown. Since Bill is exactly the character who does the before/after comparisons in the story, I think it’s appropriate. Between you and me, I’m not sure I’m ready for good simile and metaphor yet. I appreciate the thoughts.

  7. I just finished that last installment of Renewal and have to say that this is one of the best post apocalyptic books that I’ve read. I’m really looking forward to reading Decay when it comes out.

    What’s interesting that I have noticed is that there is a number of post apocalyptic books that I’ve read take place in the Northwest portion of the US or have authors that live around that area. The 2 places that I’ve been eying are Portland or Seattle.

    Does it really rain that much there?

    Again, great series. I’m looking to reading Decay and I hope that there will be a trilogy.

    Jhason

    • Thank you very much. It rains for 8 months of the year out here. That causes depression which leads us to contemplate the apocalypse. But seriously, Portland and Seattle are both great cities.

      The story I have in mind will take a trilogy to tell. Thanks again!

  8. Jim,

    Just finished up Book 10. I really enjoyed the series and eagerly look forward to Decay. Maybe it will give us a clue whatever happened to Arturo, Jones and Jimmy….or even a little more insight into the youngest brother Tommy and what happened to David and his wife. Anyways will be interesting to hear about the new folks the Washington state area so…..type, type, type! Thanks again for the great read.

    James

  9. Hi Jim,

    I ran across your books looking for some good reading, I always lean toward apocalyptic or those with a survival theme. Mostly because it is easy to see man heading in that direction. It has been an overwhelming gut feeling in me since I was a small boy. My general view of people is that they are not much different than sheep or many of the other animal species for that matter. They will run with the herd blindly putting their trust in whoever started the stampede, until they are in midair falling over the cliff. This has worked well for most in the animal kingdom including the humans. Sticking together and moving as a flock makes a difficult target for a single predator to pick out, that is until one has a shotgun and takes out the whole flock. Or as humans we have become part of the big machine and have turned into specialists good at only one thing and relying on the system to produce the rest for us until if we suddenly found ourselves on our own we could not function or survive. Fortunately there has always been and will be the individuals that when the flock stampedes slips away quietly to avoid the coming disaster that will befall the rest. These are the ones that I believe will pull humans out of the ashes so to speak and teach them a new way.
    Please continue your writing, I am enjoying you book as each chapter grows. I have only two to go until I am done and waiting for you to publish more. So first off thanks for your book and second, Hurry up and get the others out, hard to quit when their is more that needs to be explained.

    • Thanks for reading, and thank you for your thoughts. I’m tempted to tell my opinions on all of your points, but I hope that my answers leak out in the course of the story. All of them are ideas that I give a great deal of thought. As guy who has been out-specialized in the job market for a few years, I feel strongly about our specialization.

      Perhaps you’ve seen this quote:

      Heinlein – Specialization is for Insects

      “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

      • Good saying,

        But to do that the specialist would have to turn off the TV and get a little stimulation to his or her senses. It is hard to learn something when your life depends on it. It is funny how people never think anything will ever happen to them when natural disasters can and do happen anytime and anywhere. My mouth drops when I see people at a car accident and everyone just stares they are lost like they are watching TV. It is not until someone takes control and verbally slap them alongside the head that they come to. I have grown so tired of it I move out of the states and now live in a relatively poor country in South America. The poorer and more common the people are here the better I like them. And you know what no one gives me a second like when I roast my coffee beans out in front of my house, Just how I like it.

  10. I absolutely loved the Renewal series and knocked out all 10 books in 6 days. I find that I too have the same type of curiosity about a national breakdown and a post apocalyptic world. I’m not a survivalist by any stretch of the imagination but I do love reading about it.

    I look forward Decay and any future books in this series.

    • Thank you! It’s not hard to feel uneasy with the way things are going. I’m not a stereotypical survivalist either. I’m just wary. πŸ™‚

      A lot of apocalyptic fiction is all about the nuts and bolts of survival, and I’m glad those books exist. For me, it’s more about how people deal with major change, and how fragile our social contract really is.

  11. I finished the books in record time and really enjoyed all of them. Theme is a scary one and could happen very easily. I appreciated the series very much. I am looking forward to Decay.

    Jon

  12. Have you thought about putting all your renewal ebooks into one great big one? I love big books, especially ebooks. I have read the first two but find it frustrating to barely get into the mood and poof, I am at the end of the little book. There’s a lot of great stuff that could be put into a more detailed book of those times, if you ever wanted to do more of the same post apocalyptic times.

    • Yes. In fact, it’s well underway. A lot of people think I created a grand plan to get more money and torture readers with cliffhangers. The truth is that Renewal 1 was never intended to launch the rest of the story. It just unfolded as I went. I’m trying to finish the sequel first, which will be released in one big volume. Then I’ll finish my conversion of the Renewal series to a single novel. It involves some rewrites and additions. It’s not a simple as just chunking them all into one file. I’m taking the opportunity to clean up some problems, and fatten up the story in a few places. Thanks for asking.

  13. I am just starting on #7 and I must say, this is one of the better indie book series I have read. My favorite PA book of all time (right now) is Lucifer’s Hammer and this series first winter scene compares to the impact rain scene in LH. Mr. Perkins…I appreciate your writing and please continue.

    Thanks,
    Craig

  14. Hi Jim, I just finished reading the last of your series, which I bought through Amazon. I just wanted to say thank you for an excellent story well told. I was probably lucky in that I didn’t find your series until the whole thing was done or, like many of your readers, I would have been waiting impatiently for the next chapter (and I know what that is like since, after many unfortunate delays, I still get enquiries from readers of my first book as to when the next one will be out. Life does sometimes gets in the way!)

    I’m sure you have had much feedback on both various aspects of content and style so I’ll not expand on that, other than to say perhaps that I thought Arturo was underused and there were aspects of his introduction and early storyline that, for an ex-special forces soldier, didn’t quite ring true to me. I thought the attitude and eventual fate of his wife was brilliantly handled though. Now, I miss your characters and will certainly be looking for your next book. So, congratulations on a job very well done. I enjoyed it immensely!
    David C

    • Thank you, David. I appreciate the compliments and the comments. I agree that Arturo wasn’t handled as well as he should have been. In the novel rewrite, he received more attention than anyone. Several other characters needed more attention as well. At the time, I wasn’t thinking about those kinds of balance issues. I was blindly happy just to get the story to hold together. I think I’ve added a couple of extra layers to the process since then.

      I hope it’s okay if I link to you.

      David E. Crossley http://www.tfns.co.uk/

  15. Jim

    I just wanted to say that I just finished the series last night. I have truly enjoyed the story and the way you write. I have just started reading books for enjoyment the last 2 years. I got into post apocolyptic reads last May since I read One second after. I have read several and enjoyed most but Renewal has been the best yet. I can’t wait to see what your next book is like.

    Thank you for a wonderful story.

    JW

    • Hi Benchman,

      Thank you very much! I’ve been reading the PA stories for a long time, and I’ve lost track of most of the classic examples. Mine is a lightweight compared to some. If you want to read for detailed preparedness, you might want to check out James Wesley Rawles’ work or “Lights Out” by David Crawford. Lights Out has the added bonus of being a good, entertaining story. Rawles is a tough slog for me, but it’s always chock full of detail. I found Thomas Sherry’s Deep Winter trilogy to be a bit tedious, but full of great information and thought. Several of my readers have told me that Apocalypse Law is a good read. I haven’t tried it myself. In fact, now that I think about it, I should set up a page with some good reads.

      Thanks again for reading my story!

      Jim

  16. dear author, any news on when we might see Decay? I am pretty much ready to drive cross country and steal it. Too bad I don’t know how to hack computers! (that is a joke BTW for any people who are too serious)

    • Thank you for reading, Uneasyrider! That is one mighty compliment and I appreciate it more than you know. The sequel has been a lot more work than I anticipated, but it should be out before very long. Comments like yours help me keep writing when I suddenly realize that I need to shift entire subplots around. πŸ™‚

      Jim

  17. Wow – I just found the renewal series and I finished all within about 5 days. I absolutely loved that story! Any chance of a sequel where we learn Ned’s history and Joe’s as well? For those of us who are preppers in addition to being fans of post apocalyptic fiction you provide some great things to consider, particularly for those of us who are rural. My favorite thing about your writing is how deeply you develop your characters. I feel like I actually know these folks. Please keep writing. Renewal is a true treasure. Thank you so much for taking the time to write it for us.

    • Thank you very much, Jim! As a matter of fact, I’m hacking out the final revisions on the sequel, Decay. Ned and Cindy are the main characters of the new back story. Bill’s back story continues in his quiet moments with Terry. Joe’s story is revealed within Ned’s tale of the Breakdown. Teeny Town steps onto a larger stage in the renewal of Tennessee, and finds that their are already some strong players in the South.

      One of the weird little bits about Renewal is that although I had read a great deal of PA fiction in my life, I never even heard the word “prepper” until I was halfway through Renewal. My personal emphasis is on skills and mindset, but I guess you could say that being involved in the prepper community has me extending my actual preparations well beyond the usual “earthquake” kit that folks tend to have out here in Washington.

      Thank you again for your kind words, and for reading my story.

      Regards,

      Jim

  18. I loved Renewal. There is no other way to state it. One of the things I liked best about your book is the values you used in the story, hard work, share the benefits, create a community of like minded people. I whole heartedly agree! I loved Bill, he is a great story teller! I would also love to hear Arturo’s story! I see from a previous post that you will continue Bill’s story and tell Joe’s story. I can’t wait to read them. I have read thousands of novels in my lifetime and I would consider yours one of the best. I think of you as a gentle writer. Like laying your head on your pillow at night after a hard days work and sighing in satisfaction!

    I can’t wait until the next book and I will definitly be reading the Renewal novel!

    Thanks!

    • Thank you. I didn’t really set out to make examples of a broad set of values, but that’s where Bill and the gang (Fat Albert Reference?) took me. I do like to think that people working together toward a common purpose is one of our best models for a life of fulfillment. I do like to think that coordination and planning will win over brute force, at least to a point.

      A gentle writer? I like that. Thank you again.

      Jim

  19. I have been enjoying the renewal series very much, but unfortunately I enjoy it a little less with each passing book. What started out as a new take on life after an event and how it got that way (very interesting) quickly degenerated into constant gun fights and super human abilities (less interesting). I’m still buying and reading the books mainly because I loved the first so much and I’m hoping that things will turn around.

    I do love the detailed descriptions of how things are set up and how they got setup that way, but again there is less and less of that as the books go on.

    The last point is a bit more of a political views thing… I’m wondering if Teeny Town is supposed to be an argument for communism? Assigned work crews, centralized control of the economy and no votes for leader (that I’ve read about so far) sound like communist characteristics? Maybe I just haven’t read enough yet, the books are pretty packed with plot not much room for much else.

    Keep up the good work and don’t lose sight of your original (very very good) ideas when the plot needs to thicken a bit πŸ™‚

    This comment sounded negative, but I really do like the books.

    • Fair enough πŸ™‚ In my rambling way, all of your complaints are resolved somewhere in the trilogy, but my first time out, I probably could have done a better job of explaining things. At the time, I was just happy to get from one end of the plot to the other. I was also specifically fighting my personal tendency to over-explain things, so I worked to show, not tell.

      Renewal is about a particular turning point in the lives of the people. The Teeny Town residents have worked very hard to stay below the radar, and are being exposed to the view of the world for essentially the first time. Change equals conflict, and in this world, conflict means guns. I’d argue that there is nothing superhuman in anyone’s abilities. Kirk and Terry are not uncommon examples of a real life ability, and the rest of the Teeny Town advantage comes from organization, preparedness, training, and know-how. A slight spoiler: They lose that advantage in Decay.

      As for the politics, I can see your point. I didn’t make it clear how the economy works, something I intend to remedy in the rewrite, but there is an accounting system at work. There is no money because printing and having money is an overhead activity that a small community can’t afford, but the value of work and purchase is being noted at every step of exchange. It’s a loose system, but if someone gets too far ahead of themselves (credit), they are given a chance to fix it. The only reason it works is because the community is small and everyone knows each other. The State government is printing and using money, just because there are too many people to keep track with Teeny Town’s analog debit card method. Both systems are ahead of the average for local communities. Most communities are still stuck at the barter-only stage.

      As for the lack of elections, the only one who doesn’t like it is Bill. He’s ready to retire and let the community move into a more democratic form of leadership. Think of his reality as a long emergency. He’s intended to be a model of service over personal gain, which is something I think we have lost in this country. In the sequel, you will see a number of other methods of holding communities together. The only good leader is one who doesn’t really want to lead but feels there is no other way. That being said, getting to a steady and balanced leadership for Teeny Town wasn’t easy. You’ll see more of that story as well.

      There are two other common complaints that go here, but I won’t address them, because I don’t know how far you’ve read.

      In the end, I think there are many ways to accomplish survival. I hope that if the world changes harshly, people can work together to recover and rebuild. I like to joke about living in a cave, but I don’t think anyone can survive alone in the long term.

      Thanks for your comments, Michael. I appreciate your thoughts.

      Jim

      • Thanks Jim, it’s neat to converse with an author I enjoy.

        I decided to finish the series rather than gripe in ignorance and I enjoyed it, you actually did address several of my thoughts in the later chapters, although the fascinating descriptions of how things worked continued to take a back seat to conflict and character development. I suspect that will sell more books so I can’t really criticize it πŸ™‚

        If Kurt and Terry’s abilities aren’t super human then I have one question: How come they are only ones in the whole book that do it? Out of the thousands of dragons it seems there were none with unerring aim, out of all the rest of Teeny Town and the rest of the state it seems that everyone else’s clock runs at the same speed even when in danger. For me, an ability only 2 people have out of thousands makes them super human.

        That said, still enjoyed the series, and will buy your future books. You touched on flawed heroes a bit (mostly in the story within the story) and I thought you did a particularly good job at that and hope you keep that theme up. Bill, the almost overwhelmed hero is a slightly different case in my view.

        Anyway – you’ve got another reader in me. Good work.

        • Thanks again, Michael. More good points. I can take the lame path out of the superhuman argument by saying that I never developed the dragons to the point that we would ever gain knowledge of an exceptional villain, even if it had occurred to me. I was more interested in the difference between a character like the grand dragon, who was inclined to use whatever, whoever, and however to gain power, and Bill who is a reluctant and inclusive leader. My big mental effort on the Dragon side was to ponder the difference a strong leader could make, and how the actions of the father actually weakened the son.

          Another piece of truth was that at the time, I was very concerned about two aspects that touch on your points. One was not to get buried in my natural tendency to explain everything. My poor wife suffers that affliction on a frequent basis. The other was my sudden understanding of how to use viewpoint to control the story, and how information was revealed. That understanding did not appear until around Part 6, and in all honesty, I’m still working on it.

          And the final piece of truth is that I was learning about my characters as I went. I didn’t have much in the way of balance working. I just had a concept in my head of who these people were and tried to hold onto it. Looking back, I have a relatively good understanding, and I look forward to incorporating that into a revised, novel version of the story. There are many things that should have been re-balanced, characters that should have had more development, or less in at least one case. Some of my own favorite characters failed to get enough “screen time” and I lost the key values.

          My main hope is to learn from comments like yours, and to discover the larger language of fiction, while sneaking in a few philosophical points that concern me.

          The good news is that Decay is a much more twisty and subtle piece of work. Most of the advantages disappear for the good guys, and the bad guys get much stronger. Struggles abound.

          Thanks again!

          • Just finished definition and I liked it.

            Some of the same issues you mention here can be seen there too. Subplots not explored after they were setup (the ex-girlfriend for example thing was a gold mine that you nearly totally ignored until suddenly at the end they were in love again – very disjointed). There are other examples of what I’d call unfinished plays; where you set things up beautifully and left me hanging.

            I really loved the characters, as with the rest of what I’ve read, they seem to be a real strength of yours. Talking about real people… This alone will likely keep me coming back to your work. The overall plot is also good, but how the plot advanced often didn’t work for me. Some examples:

            Why was Becca suddenly allowed into the pit? And why was communication suddenly allowed after she showed up? I just didn’t buy that the military changed a major secrecy policy because a love struck teenager showed up at their door.

            Why did the admiral suddenly “loosen up”? The stimulus credited with doing was very thin (a few jokes).

            Of course the big one is the special ability again. As you predicted in your comments at the end, that is where you lost me. I just wasn’t sold when you finished explaining it.

            All in all this felt like a good book that you shipped before you really felt you were done. For me that translates into the book having a few soft spots.

            As I’ve mentioned you have a real strength for writing real people, and justifying/explaining their responses to situations and your plot ideas give them neat and believable situations to respond to. To me if just feels like sometimes you lose your original thoughts as you write and don’t go back to glue it all together again (either picking the original thought or the new one to focus on).

            Writing ain’t easy. You’ve got skills. Keep it up.

  20. Hi Jim,

    I went through all the 10 episodes of Renewal. Initial interest was about depiction of post-oil society. Ended hooked up on the story. Congrats!

    Back to the initial interest, I’d like to make a few comments related to your rendering of the character’s environment. I think it is key that you mark the end of our civilization by the nuclear blasts in the ionosphere and the resulting EMC effect that destroys all electronic circuitry. Such a sharp on/off change avoids dealing with the very long agony awaiting us with the decline of energy sources. But it also should carry some consequences.

    – First, I don’t see how people can still drive gas powered vehicles more than 40 years after the disaster. It is very likely that all available fuel at that moment has been burned one way or the other. In addition, local wells and refineries must have been rendered useless, making it impossible to produce more gas. You might have had some new rough small scale refining capacities up and running associated with local oil fields. But with the logistics issues, nothing able to power several hundred vehicles launched in a raid in central USA countryside.

    – Same concern for ammunitions. Modern ammunitions require sophisticated manufacturing. Available stocks should be depleted at Terry’s time without any possible replenishment. At best, people could manufacture muzzle-loaders and black powder. Or archery.

    – Another point is about food production. Without oil-derived fertilizers and pesticides, it is estimated that agricultural output should decline by one to two-thirds depending on local ground richness in nutrients. The area required to feed 1 person all year round increases in proportion. I don’t know how many people live in the secluded community but judging by the losses during the last battle, that must be several hundred, close to a thousand. Sustaining 1000 people in closed circuit on locally organic grown food and raised livestock requires quite a bit of land to achieve if you want to buffer 1 year of consumption in advance to edge plant deseases, bugs invasions or simply bad weather.

    – Last point is about birth control. In such tense survival mode and without any modern birth control tools, people should be very upset by any unexpected birth. I suspect that Terry’s love story should not have been encouraged by her fiancΓ©e’s parents.

    I surely buy into the thesis that pioneer’s spirit and basic humanity can go a long way to ensure that people survive hard times. I’m not so sure that such survival could end the way you describe it.

    Again, it’s great to have people like you writing stories. I couldn’t make it myself so I must admit I admire you for undertaking the effort. Congrats!

    Marc

    • Hi Marc,

      Thanks for your observations. I think any of them are open to debate. I’ll give you my thought process.

      It’s all speculation, of course, and the point for me is people dealing with radically changed circumstances. That being said, I do try to write a scenario that is plausible, if perhaps a way out on the margins of plausibility. The other thing I had in mind at the time was not to make too many subject matter lectures along the way. For example, I know something about guns. I’ve been shooting since I was eight years old. I was in the military. I know the right tool for the job in most cases, but I’m no expert on the details of each and every weapon, just like I can watch baseball, but my wife knows more about the game than I ever will. If I wrote my story with specific weapons, I’d be arguing the details every day. My story is not about guns.

      So, when it comes to using modern machinery and technology, I wrote the story with an engineer at the helm. He knows quite a bit about what works and what doesn’t. He has to learn conflict and violence the hard way, in some cases from his own son, Kirk. How does Kirk know? Well, he could have learned it from playing video games. He could just be a natural warrior. His father could have been providing a counter example. I don’t lecture about it because I want you to decide for yourself.

      In any case, I do go to the trouble of explaining how the hard winter just about ruined what was left of the gasoline, and a simplified method for getting usable fuel out of the dregs. Every modern engine in the story is running diesel, and I use the word diesel many times to let you know. Why? Diesel has a long shelf life. With a little know-how, you can brew bio-diesel in your back yard from almost anything. The events of the story take place during a time when Teeny Town burns a lot of it, but for the most part, they tend to save it for agriculture. It’s rare, and it’s expensive. But it’s technically workable. The hard part is the manufactured parts. David Carter knew that would be the issue from day one, and in Decay he goes to a lot of trouble to maintain the base for being able to manufacture sophisticated parts. Ultimately, civilization reemerges to the point that they can manufacture entirely new vehicles – or not, but for now, it’s a world of mechanical attrition.

      Another aspect to a sudden death style apocalypse is the sheer scale of collapse. If you have an EMP only attack, there are plenty of scenarios that would play out as an extended war in which everything of value would be used up. My timeline goes from EMP and full-scale nuclear exchange to a nuclear winter in a short time. I see the deadly cold as being both the worst part of population collapse and a kind of preservative. About the time most people are wrapping their heads around a world with no infrastructure, here comes the cold, so brutal that no one can go out and fight – or scavenge anything beyond the bare essentials of survival, if that. Very few people will be concerned with second and third order trappings of survival, like machinery.

      My point is that I’m describing a world in which those who survive the winter have an enormous pipeline of materials to scavenge, and much fewer people to scavenge them. If you have 315 million people feeding off that pipeline, it can only last days. If you have, say, 10 million, only a relative few of which have the slightest concern for most of it, then there are years of materials and manufactured goods lying around. Is the premise plausible? Maybe not, but the outcome is.

      Ammunition is tougher. You’d want to go crazy stockpiling it, and then push the reloading aspect as far as possible. It’s theoretically possible to make modern ammunition from scratch, but each bullet would represent a fortune in manpower. Again, Teeny Town is using a lot of ammunition now, but has been conserving it for years. It’s better to hide than to shoot. Either the curve of civilization rises to meet the manufacturing requirements, or they will ultimately be using flintlocks and black powder, if not bows and arrows. Step one is to grab up as much ammunition as you can lay your hands on. Step two would be to scavenge as much bulk reloading supplies as you can. Step three would be to collect raw materials for those components, which is beyond the scope of any small community. Step four is to have enough organization in society to have people specialized to making ammunition. Bill Carter was raised knowing that it’s rebuilding civilization or losing all the technical advantages eventually. In Decay, we’ll see what happens when he encounters a bigger retained technology advantage. That’s the test of organization and teamwork.

      Agriculture. There is no shortage of land, for anyone. The only people who can’t make it on 19th Century agriculture are big agribusinesses. That’s kind of a nice side effect.

      Birth control. Agreed, but Teeny Town has the opposite problem, and nobody really knows why. It’s another topic that is tackled in Decay. From Bill’s perspective, they need to start making babies.

      Yes, my story is about working together with one of many visions of how to rebuild after a major collapse. It’s certainly not the only philosophy that would work, and history tells us that it’s not even remotely the most likely. However, to me, it is the one that retains something of the spirit that made our American society great, and it’s part of what we are beginning to lose as we look around today.

      It’s also a story of leadership, and intended to give rise to thoughts about what our world would be today is we had such a thing. Of course leadership can be used for good or evil, but it seems that the trick is to rally people around a common cause. What’s our common cause? Bill’s cause is to rebuild around his father’s vision of America, and more personally, to replace himself with someone who can carry that vision forward. The Grand Dragon had a vision as well, and the smarts to make his mean feudal reality work with a little social engineering of his own. Once he was eliminated, his son was product of his games, and not good enough to hold his father’s vision together.

      I’ve been called on the disconnect of a savage bunch of brigands being able to hold county sized realms, and then surrendering when things went bad. Soldiers fight for a leader; soldiers fight for each other. They don’t fight when the leader and the cause no longer make sense, and they see no way to survive. I think there will always be a different mindset between parents who had to forcibly carve out survival and their children who never did. All you have to do to see that psychology at work is to look at our last three generations.

      Thanks again!

      Jim

  21. Hi Jim,
    I have completed the Renewal series. I live in the area you wrote the books about. I enjoy PA fiction, and it’s a total coincidence I read this series. I started reading the first one, and I was thinking “Hmmmm Coffee County, that’s weird…” Then you mentioned Blanton Chapel Rd, and I thought, “coincidence???.” Obviously I eventually realized this story was taking place HERE. I gotta say, when it came out that the townies in Tullahoma were stark raving mad cannibals I nearly spit my drink out I was laughing so hard. Thank you for the visual. I found the series entertaining, and I can’t wait to read more. There were some parts that kinda made me cringe in a strictly misogynistic kind of way, but otherwise, cheers. I can overlook a man’s point of view for a local story ANY day. Thanks again. -Heather

  22. Hi Heather,
    I’m glad you appreciated my *slightly* exaggerated depiction of Tullahoma. Were you drinking Sun-Drop when you read it? I went to high school and spent too much of my life there, so I can make fun of the place if I want. I did manage to offend a few old friends who can’t see the “real” T-town. I did take some slight liberties with the setting, but it’s fairly true to reality. I think any collapse of civilization comes with a bunch of misogynist jerks just waiting for their chance to run wild. Doesn’t mean I agree with them. Thanks for reading. -Jim

  23. Mr. Perkins,
    I have read all of the Renewal series and I am impressed. I have a strong interest in all PA books, so I read any that catches my eye. I am a huge fan of the double storyline that your series offered. In fact, I am not sure which story line I liked more. I read post apocalypse books to learn about the different situations and scenarios that could present themselves in the future. The post EMP situation your series offered was also covered in One Second After by William R. Forstchen. The difference in Renewal is your story describes a functional community, but how it is defended, stays functional and successful. Forstchen’s novel describes early stages immediately after the “breakdown”. While immediate set up is interesting and educational, I appreciated the continuation of life and family that Renewal offers. The defense and survival of Teeny Town was interesting and not over detailed to the point of Mr. Rawles Patriots(which I thought was more of a How-to guide). For me, the most interesting part of the series was your description of nuclear winter. I have yet to cross any other storyline reference of nuclear winter. Thank you for the description of how the this particular aftermath of nuclear war could be. The common description of radiation, mutation, barren wasteland has been addressed to the point of overkill, and for most people that is all they believe the effects of nuclear warfare will be. Your series offered an aftermath situation that I believe has not been given its due. Again, thank you for describing another avenue of aftermath. I will be definitely be following your writing and have recommended you and Renewal to my friends and family.
    Keep up the good work, it is appreciated and enjoyed.

    • Thank you, Stonewall. The EMP effect is also well covered in Lights Out by David Crawford. And yes, Patriots is a serious piece of work. I haven’t read One Second After. There is plenty of room for debate among the aftereffects for nuclear war. In Tennessee, the EMP was both the most immediate problem and the long-term problem. I tend to agree with those who say that an EMP attack would take many years to recover. The nuclear winter effect could be global in a full scale nuclear exchange. My thought is that it could be both the most deadly problem, and a blessing in disguise. A whole lot of people could die from the cold and its ability to keep them from seeking out food, but it could also freeze out the setup for rampant disease outbreaks if the infrastructure fails. In other locations, there is no doubt that my scenario would make radiation and fallout the most acute problem. In all cases, humanity itself is a threat when food gets tough and civilization breaks down. In my view, Coffee County is easy in those terms. You’ll see some different combinations in Decay and Promise. Thanks for reading!

  24. In the last two weeks or so, I read the ten books and was very much engrossed in both stories…really one story, but the two different points on the timeline were both exciting reads.

    I am interested in the rest of the story, and it sounds like Decay is just about ready for us. I am definitely looking forward to that.

    My one comment for you is more about the dollars and cents of your endeavor than anything else. I ready a lot of Kindle titles and many of those are of the serial nature. That’s good because that means the stories are easy to get into and through, but I can’t help thinking that the authors are leaving money on the table. Not that they are writing their stories for pure monetary gain, but being able to live well doing what you love sure would be nice.

    I’m sure you know how the Amazon pricing works, and you may have even looked into what I am about to tell you, but in case you haven’t here’s my two cents.

    I think the $.99 title program that Amazon has going is awesome because it open us all up to a new trove of writers that may not have gotten a chance in the past under the more traditional publishing model. The problem is that you are the author of the content retain only about of third of that $.99. You have to sell A LOT of copies to pay the bills that way. So here’s my suggestion, I think you shoud offer book one for free and then package the remaining nine titles into groups of three and sell them at $2.99 each. In the end it would actually cost your readers less and net you more since at $2.99 you are making 70% per sale.

    Here’s the math:
    $.99 X .35 = about $35 cents per sale
    $2.99 X .70 = about $2.09 per sale – $.15 delivery fee (of course)

    So right now, you make about $3.50 per person that buys all ten of the Renewal books, but if you followed my thinking about you’d make about $5.80 and it would cost the readers nine bucks instead of ten.

    Again, you’ve probably already thought of these things but I’d rather you get a larger portion of the proceeds rather than having Ol’man Jeff “Jenkins” Bezos reaping the windfall.

    • Thanks, Bruce Leroy. Love that movie, btw.

      I do spend a lot of time thinking about how to maximize the value on both ends, but you’ve come up with a model I haven’t considered for Renewal, so thank you. My next step for Renewal is to novelize the whole thing. It’s not as profitable as what you suggest, but it appeals to my sense of symmetry and completeness. I’m trying out your model in a way, with a serialized story in which each release is about three Renewal parts long. The first one is called Definition and it weighs in at 65 thousand words.

      I appreciate it!

      • “Here, it contains everything you need to find your way to the golden glow. [hands him an empty fortune cookie] Think Leroy! You have just opened a fortune cookie without a fortune, written by a master who does not exist, to find a solution to a problem whose answer you already know”

        Anyways, I enjoy your writing and just wanted to pass along an idea that might help you keep on keepin’ on with it.

        There are a couple of other Amazon authors that I know have been trying to work out the economics of the situtation to their best benefit, guys like: Hugh Howey, Randolphe LaLonde, Sean Platt, and David Wright. If you haven’t looked in on their set ups yet, You might consider it as they seem to be moving in the same territory as you in regards to self-publishing, serialization, and audience interaction.

        Finally, if you haven’t already, I think you should start adding links at the end of your stories to your site,Amazon author page, and in the case of your serialized works the product page for the next title. All of those things would make it that much easier for us that read your work to find the next thing of interest and purchase it.

  25. Hey,

    I just wanted to let you know I have really enjoyed your Renewal series. I’m about to start #10, and I realized it’s the last one. Assuming their is more, do you make an announcement any place? (here, an email list) It’s hard to follow so many different series that are currently unfolding.

    • Thank you very much! There is more. Right now, the sequel to the series is a novel length work called Decay. It exists in 99% form. The third book is called Promise and it exists in first draft form. The sequel to Definition is still untitled but it is written. The one after that is about halfway drafted. I haven’t released any of them yet for complicated reasons mostly outside of my control, but I’ve just about finished threading that particular needle and I’m going to do it anyway. Announcements will always appear front and center on this site when I make a release. I have some kind of system for sending out emails as well, but I have yet to pull that trigger, since I’m really good at ignoring automated email myself. Maybe you can tell me what makes sense from your perspective. Thanks again… – Jim

  26. I just finished the tenth and sadly last of the Renewal series books. Wow. For some odd reason, I am both sad and a little annoyed. The characters are so well developed, you really want to know what happens to them next ! That is the sign of a great author. Can’t wait for Decay. Any idea when that is coming out ? πŸ™‚

  27. I’ve just finished “Renewal: Cold” and, man the title does not lie. Fantastic read. I’ve already got numbers 7, 8, 9, and 10 downloaded and ready to go. Can’t wait to get to them.

    I heard about you when I was reading Hugh Howey’s “WOOL” series. It’s a totally different take on humanity’s struggles in a post-apocalyptic world. I loved it and figured I’d give “Renewal” a shot. I’m so glad that I did.

    I grew up in Knoxville and have friends in the Nashville area so, a lot of the cities, towns, and landmarks are familiar to me. It is pretty cool being able to picture so much of it, drawing upon the mental images of the area that I have.

    And, the storytelling in “Renewal” is top notch. In the scene at the salvage yard, where Bill and Terry and the boys are preparing for the attack… my heart was beating a mile a minute. You’ve captured the excitement, fear, and adrenaline perfectly.

    Your story has so many (intended I’m sure) parallels to the current state of affairs in the country, it has got me thinking in ways that are a little scary. But anytime something touches me enough to get the wheels truly turning, that’s a good thing.

    I know that as soon as I am finished with this series, I’ll be sucked into “Decay” just as quickly. Please, just hurry with it.

    Keep up the great work.

  28. i just read all ten renewal books in a week …. so much for the other things i was supposed to be accomplishing … well done … i adore terry and sally… not sure if my tears were typical wedding tears, relief that it all worked out, or sadness that i’m at the end of the series ….. i’m ready for the rest of their story …. please tell me it is in the works!

    • Hi! Welcome. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. For complicated reasons, I had to leave Decay alone for awhile, but that problem is solved and there are no less than three people editing it now. We’re working hard to get it published. Thanks again!

  29. Jim,

    I’ve just finished the 3rd Renewal book and have thoroughly enjoyed them. I wanted to thank you for writing the series and I’m greatly looking forward to finishing it. I think the series provides some great characters and a lot of things to think about. I look forward to reading more of your books and just wanted to wish you and your family the best.

    Josh

  30. Absolutely loved the Renewal series! I just finished all 10 books in the series and want more.. I read about one per night and had to force myself to go to bed otherwise I’d been up all night reading more and wanting more. I hope Renewal hasn’t completely ended, although I do realize all good things much come to an end. Thank you for writing this books, I have thoroughly enjoyed each one of them. I might have to look into Definition next. πŸ™‚ Thank you for the entertainment.

  31. WOW and WOW again. These are not my typical reads and no idea how I came across them. Weeks later and I decided to give the first book a go………thinking to myself it is only 60 pages I can blast through that in an hour, so worst case scenario I have lost an hour of my time and as an insomniac anything to while away those dark hours is welcome.
    So I sat myself down with a cup of coffee and very low expectations and was instantly swept away in a story that had me laughing, crying, happy and sad amongst other emotions.
    There are really no words to describe the power behind your writing; the way you make the characters real and you live with them through the whole series. You celebrate their success and feel their disappointment of failure. When a character dies it felt like it was in my reality………… how on earth can I feel despondent and upset over something that was not real?
    So Mr Perkins, I can only say to you “thank you and what a fantastic storyteller you are!”

    • I have to reply with my own WOW! That is one high pile of praise, and I appreciate it very much. You hit the nail on the head when you said that I live with my characters. If there’s any trick to my writing, it’s just that. Turns out that living with my characters is a hard thing to do and it doesn’t always work, but when it does, the process turns very magical on my end. They tend to surprise me. Thanks again!

  32. Jim,

    I just finished Renewal 10, loved your storytelling and was sad to say goodbye to the characters. But then, at the end of Renewal 10, you mentioned Decay and I looked on Amazon Kindle pages and I can’t find it. Any idea when it will be released? I’m sure I’m not alone as one of your audience eager to read more of your books. I’m a Tech Writer and I’m working on a Sci-Fi novel myself and someday I intend to finish it and follow in your footsteps. Thanks for all your long hours and hard work that I know it took to write your books and entertain all of us.

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