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The Burnout - Author's notes

Thanks for reading this little story about Patty and her friends. It's been fun creating this world and bringing it to life.

Between 2002 and 2008, my job had me traveling constantly. It was not unexpected for me to be on the road three days or more a week, usually several hundred miles from home. Around the time of Katrina, I read, in a business newsletter of all places, about a man trapped in New Orleans for the better part of a week in a hotel and how he survived. All of those things got me thinking and so I started the Burnout, in fact, I have a framework for the story somewhere on a hard drive from way back then.

At the same time, I started writing a story called The Traveler. Same idea, but instead of a woman, it was a guy from south Texas trying to get home from San Francisco after a nuclear war. Several of the key events in The Burnout came from The Traveler, notably, the derringer, the dangers of strange old weapons, redemption and getting shot by your own family when you come home because they didn't recognize you. All realistic possibilities in my opinion.

When the story started, I knew it was going to be about a woman and her name was Patty Valdez. I knew she would be in business and on a trip alone. I also knew that her sidekick would be a blowhard businessman who really means well, but just can't seem to ever adapt to the changed world. Everyone else, just came along as the story progressed, albeit with several modifications.

The "DHS as the bad guy" was part of the original story because if you recall, that organization was formed after the 2001 terrorist attacks and with all the airports I found myself in,  I kept having this vision of TSA agents continuing their job long after the end of the world. Only two things survive in the post-apocalypse, cock roaches and bureaucracy.

As circumstance would have it, little news stories float to the surface (mainstream news, not whacky conspiracy sites) from time to time about strange things the government is up to. Recently, DHS ordered something like two hundred million rounds of .223 ammo, the US Department of Education ordered a bunch of semi-auto shotguns, the national weather service bought several thousand rounds of .40 caliber ammo and some other faceless fed agency bought a bunch of .357 rounds. All of that worked it's way into the story during the recent edits and made it seem more realistic.

The story was sidetracked when I redid the middle to include more of a mythological element. Peri was actually going to be a man, the equivalent of a snake oil salesman/pharmaceutical rep who uses his sample bag to do evil. Instead, I wiped that out and made him a woman based upon Circe from The Odyssey. Some of the events found in that part of the story were influenced as well, such as the scene where Lamar and Patty go between the rock throwing thugs and the dog attack (Scylla and Charybdis) and later, the glass eyed rapist and the Deliverance inspired cannibal (Cyclops).

Like all good ideas, it seemed right, until it got on paper and diverted the story. Add to that, some personal changes in my life at the time and we had the "Big Gap" around June. My muse returned and we got back on track, with a vengance.

Someone asked about a sequel. Except for The Empire Strikes Back, sequels usually don't go well, at least not for me. The protagonist completed a journey and made it home, so now what? Have Patty kidnapped, dragged off to Oklahoma and have her do it all over again like Snake Plisskin? That works for some writers, (like some have done successfully in this genre, just not me), So, for now, Patty is home and will live happily ever and we probably won't hear from her again.

So what's next? I have some other story ideas which are in progress, one of which is about done, but I have to look at it for awhile and decide what it will do.  I really want to get back to America 2.0 for instance. The problem is my characters like to hide from me and I often have to coax them out so I can find out what will happen next. That's writing.

Thank you for reading, for your kind comments and for your patience.

PS - Gun notes. There's a big subset of my readers who laser in on guns and gun factoids in my stories. Often, they educate me on something I did not know as I'll be the first to admit, I am not a big time "gun nerd" and make obvious mistakes. That being said, here are some things nobody noticed or at least they did not tell me so!

- Chris, one of Peri's sidekicks, had a coach gun (that's a short barreled shotgun used by stagecoach drivers in the old west).  If you recall, Patty disarmed them, took all their guns but never mentioned that particular weapon or who ended up with it. I assume she tossed it in the bushes, but that  wouldn't make any sense would it? Chalk that up to a continuity problem courtesy of the author.

- The .243 rifle. After the attack on the Hallmark store, it disappeared and was not mentioned in the story again. (Actually, it was left behind during the escape). Antonio was right about that particular gun, nobody wanted it.

- The derringer. Patty only fired one of two rounds from it, leaving another for later, but the gun mysteriously disappeared from the story and was not used again, even when Patty was confronted by Peri on the bridge. I don't know what happened to that gun; maybe Merrick found it and took the long way home.

Thanks again,

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  1. Regarding the derringer, I thought it was gonna come out when the revolver fizzled in Peri's hand, but instead the fizzle turned into a little more :)

    Antonio was right about the .243 and nobody wanting it. Too big to off a rabbit, and all it'll do is annoy a deer/human sized target if not for a well-placed shot. Better used if you leave it empty, turn it around, and whack your opponent with it.

    Thanks for the story!

  2. Thank you very, very much for the stories!!

  3. Another wonderful tale, except my my finger tips are sore from hanging on cliffs.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  4. Thanks for the great read.

    I really hope you are thinking of publishing this story. It's as good or better than any I have read.

    I liked the 'Jerico' deterrence in one of the middle chapters when you mentioned that Hawkins has the bomb.

    Thanks again.

    Idaho Homesteader

  5. Idaho,

    Thank you for your kind comments and taking the time to share them. I've been kicking around the idea of some big edits and putting this up as a Kindle type book, but I hold myself to higher standards when money is involved. Thanks again,