The Union Creek Journal

A Chronicle of Survival

Rearview Mirror: A Look Back at the Union Creek Journal

First, let me just say thanks again for all the feedback and comments (even the negative ones).

As I’ve said since the outset of this endeavor, it was an experiment.  Although I may have some degree of writing talent, I am neither a professional writer nor a professional blogger.  I had never written a blog before The Journal’s first entry.  I’m just a guy with a day job who decided to experiment with what I saw as a new medium for the delivery of fiction.  Along the way, a few thousand people a day decided to read what I wrote.

The purpose of an experiment is to learn.

I’ve learned (and re-learned) a lot over the course of the last six months – much like the characters of The Union Creek Journal.  One lesson that is blatantly obvious, based on the comments of the last few days, is that you can please some of the people some of the time, but definitely not all of the people all of the time.  Although, I’m disappointed that some of my readers didn’t care for The Journal’s ending, the feedback was educational … and, as I said, appreciated.

A second, rather poignant lesson is that no matter how much you prepare someone for “bad news”, it’s never easy to take.  Consistently throughout this work, I have left the reader hanging from a cliff.  As I planned and wrote the ending, I hoped it would ring true to the frequent Friday cliff hangers and that it would come as only a mild surprise.  Obviously, it was a shock to many of you.

There truly are some things for which you cannot prepare.  (Hmmm … that sounds familiar.)

The Journal’s ending was not written in haste because of some personal crisis nor was it written as a cruel joke or because I grew tired of writing.  The Journal ended the way that it did because The Journal was intended to be a part of a two-part series.

The two books are meant to be a pair.  Neither stands alone.

One of my readers compared The Journal to the Lord of the Rings trilogy (not the original single volume).  While I don’t expect The Journal (and its sequel) to become the classic that the Lord of the Rings trilogy has become, I think the comparison still holds.  Each of the first two books of the Rings trilogy leaves many questions unanswered.  Story arcs are left incomplete.  Characters developed throughout the books are left in unknown states.  The three books were meant to complete one another as The Journal and its sequel are meant to do.

I can still remember reading the Rings books as a child.  Each of the first two books left me hungry for the next.  From the recent positive comments, it sounds as if many of you are in the same position with The Journal.  Others of you are ready to toss The Journal in your computer’s recycle bin and move on.

If you still don’t like the way The Journal ended, fair enough.  I’m not foolish enough to think that I can please all of the people all of the time – a lesson I had perhaps forgotten as more and more people expressed their appreciation for The Journal.

For those willing to continue to read what I write, The Journal’s final entry was perhaps the most gut-wrenching thing I have ever written.  To put myself in the shoes of a boy whose father came home in a box – a hero but gone, nonetheless – was very difficult.  I imagined my own son finding my journal, reading it and sorrowfully closing it with a few words honoring my last deeds on earth.  I thought of how my own boy might feel finding my journal, reading it and writing my epitaph knowing that I had died in a battle for freedom.  My hope, as I wrote The Journal’s final entry, was that my readers’ emotional connection with David and D.J. would be strong enough that the details of the battle could wait … for the sequel.

If you’re willing to consider returning for the sequel, you can expect several things.  First, you can expect many – if not all – of your questions about the details left hanging in The Journal to be answered.  Second, you can expect more action, adventure, ideas and gut-wrenching emotion.  Finally, you can expect an ending that leaves far fewer questions unanswered.  I do not intend for The Journal series to be a trilogy.

My plan is to have the sequel done by late fall … winter at the latest.  I’m not tired of writing.  Quite the contrary.

I really hope you’ll come back to read The Journal’s sequel.  If not, I wish you the best in life, in survival and in your quest for enjoyable fiction.

Thanks for being a part of the experiment,

– Toby

The End

You’ve reached the end of The Union Creek Journal.  We all survived!

I’d like to say, “thank you” to everyone who has followed along as The Journal wound its way, like its namesake Union Creek, through the twists and turns of the Johnsons’ lives in their post-apocalyptic world.  I hope you enjoyed The Journal and, perhaps, even learned a thing to two.  If you look for them, you’ll find lots of tips and ideas for survival in any sort of difficult situation.  They’re like Easter eggs, only slightly hidden and just waiting to be found.

I’d also like to thank those who helped keep me on the straight and narrow path of correct grammar, spelling and technical detail.  There are several of you.  Perhaps chief among my “editors”, Karen, you sent me an e-mail nearly every day with some sort of correction.  As always, thanks for your help.

And now to the future … there will be a sequel to The Journal.  It’s already started.  Stay tuned here for updates.  I plan to take a little time off before I write the rest of the sequel.  The daily publishing schedule of The Journal has taken its toll on a few areas of my life that will soon receive some much-deserved attention.  After that, back to the grindstone.  The sequel must be finished!

For those who are interested, the sequel to The Journal will be delivered a little bit differently.  It will still be available for free in daily installments.  (Of course, you’re always welcome to make a donation if you feel so inclined.)  In addition to its free availability in daily installments, the sequel to The Journal will also be available in its entirety for a fee once the first few daily entries are published.

More forward looking statements … The Journal will be published in its entirety for Kindle (available through Amazon), Nook (available through Barnes & Noble) and as a PDF – most likely in that order.  As of yet, Glenn Beck has not responded and no other “top shelf” publisher has expressed an interest in publishing a paperback version of The Journal.  Several of you have expressed an interest in a physical copy of the book.  If I am unable to secure a publisher, I will most likely utilize a publish-on-demand service to deliver the book in paperback.

Thanks again.

Be ever vigilant,

Toby Asplin, Author: The Union Creek Journal

May 25, 2015: Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day.

I still can’t believe my dad is gone – that he gave his life for our freedom just a little more than two weeks ago on May 9, 2015.

He led the charge against the U.N. soldiers that wanted to take away our farm and put us in FEMA camps or kill us.  He was a brave man.

Sometimes I still cry when I remember him.  I think he’d be OK with that.  He was always telling me to be tough, not to cry, but I know he had a sensitive side too.  I know he was sad about what happened to our country.  He may not have cried on the outside, but I bet he did on the inside.

I think sometimes when he got mad on the outside, it was because he felt like crying but he needed to be tough.  He needed to be tough so we would keep believing that things would get better.

I think he wrote this journal because there were some things he just couldn’t say out loud.  Maybe when I’m older, I’ll do the same.  I hope the world is a better place when I’m his age.  The age he was.

Today we’ll decorate his grave with flags and flowers to honor what he did and what he fought for.  We’ll do the same for the other people from Union Creek that fought and died to keep us free from the U.N. soldiers.

They’re all heroes and we’re still free.

As long as we’re free, there’s still a chance that things can get better.

– D.J. Johnson

May 9, 2015: Death is Not the Worst of Evils

It is just after midnight and we are about to mount up.  The heat of the day has not yet dissipated.  I can hear the frogs singing their chorus down by the pond as the sweat trickles down my spine.  Is it the heat or my nerves?  Probably a bit of both.  I am more anxious about this battle than I have been about anything in years.  It feels … monumental … pivotal.  It is.

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Relief Pitcher

As Pitcher and his men crested a long rise, a fertile valley spread out before them.  Below were the signs of started crops, hillsides dotted with cattle and the pungent odor of hogs kept in confinement.  Although it reminded Pitcher nothing of his home in the Georgia swamps, it felt welcoming after more than 1000 miles over treacherous dirt roads.

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May 8, 2015: Just Over the Horizon

Today’s journal entry will be brief.  I’m only pausing long enough from our preparations to write down a few thoughts about the last six months and the upcoming days.  Tomorrow we go to war and there is much to do between now and then.

It has been just over six months since I started this journal and only slightly longer than that since the world crashed headlong into a financial abyss so deep that it may take decades for those who have survived to pull themselves up and out of that chasm.

At the six month mark, there still is really little evidence of recovery.  Tomorrow’s battle is a pointed reminder of how lawless and uncivilized our country remains.

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Memorial Day

I’m sure many of my readers have the day off today in observance of Memorial Day.  Do you know why we observe Memorial Day?

Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.  Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the fallen Union soldiers of the Civil War. (Southern ladies’ organizations and southern schoolchildren decorated Confederate graves in Richmond and other cities during the Civil War, but each region had its own date. Most dates were in May.)  By the 20th century Memorial Day was extended to honor all Americans who have died in all wars.

Memorial Day: A Woman Honors Her Fiance, Killed in Iraq in February 2007


Take some time today to stop and remember those who have fought and died for your freedoms.


The Fight

The fight began just before dinner.

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May 7, 2015: The Essence of War

In all likelihood, we only have hours until the forces spotted by Tanner’s men are within striking distance, but I needed a little time to think and plan.  So, I stuffed my shooting mat, spotter’s scope, a couple targets and 100 rounds of ammo in my Real Deal Brazil Manaus pack, grabbed my Remington 700 and headed over to the east end of the farm for a little target practice.  The gathering at Pete’s wasn’t scheduled until 10:00 a.m. and I had a feeling that sharpening my long-range shooting skills wouldn’t be a bad thing.

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May 6, 2015: Embrace the … New Normal

Two trucks left the farm today and one returned.

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