Sidewall Adventures is for sale!

Late last night Chris and I sent the 20% discount code to our subscriber list and overnight folks have been taking advantage of it!  Here is the general link for more information about the e-book.  The buttons on this page will send you to the store if you want to purchase!  We are looking forward to your comments.  www.darfieldearthship.com/store/sidewall_adventures

Our e-book is almost ready to release!

I’ll admit to being something of a tease. Not intentionally, of course, but I’ve been working on and promising our e-book about our earthship project for most of a year now. I’m pretty sure in January 2014 I estimated a May 2014 launch…then a late summer launch.

It’s SO close. So close in fact that we are aiming for a January 15, 2015 launch. If you haven’t already, please join our subscriber/email list at the right top of this page.  We will be sending one email out on the day of the launch to our subscriber list with a discount code. Even if you’re not sure you want to buy the book right away, sign up anyway.  The code will last for a few weeks, but I won’t be sending out a second email.

The e-book is a PDF document. This keeps the cost low for us (no overhead), saves on paper and avoids the carbon footprint inherent in shipping. I emphasize this because inevitably somebody buys our books and then two weeks later emails us asking where the heck it is.  It is not a hard copy.  PDF e-book only.

In defense of our slowness I will repeat what I’m sure people are becoming quite familiar with, “things move slower than we’d like”.

Why does this happen? Well, our available time seems to get the best of our intentions. We homeschool three teens, have consulting work several days a week, have a myriad of chores that require our daily and weekly attention. We like a bit of downtime as well.  In addition, I’ve been dealing with progressive osteoarthritis in my right hip and the stress and uncertainty of the last year has affected both Chris and me. Thankfully, I am now on the wait list for hip replacement surgery so there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Because the e-book is written by both Chris and me, I had to write “around” Chris’ technical parts. While I am capable of capturing much of the technical issues we encountered, I wanted Chris’ much keener focus and knowledge for these parts of the book. As many know, Chris is an engineer.  Many may not know this, as he finds it slightly pretentious to flaunt it.  You will almost never see him sign anything, formal or informal, with his P.Eng. designation. When he was stamping house plans he did, of course.  I like to think of him as one of those true engineers, with a real love of tinkering and thinking and finding solutions.  What it DOES mean is that his depth of understanding of the technical issues is far superior to mine. I wanted all our readers to benefit from that so I had to be patient.

Chris has been very busy this year with an informal maker group that our daughter Helen (14) is involved with. He’s also recently been granted a subject restricted BC teaching certificate. This means he can teach math, science, computer science, physics and robotics in the BC Independent Distributed Learning school system. This is just a fancy way of saying he is recognized by the BC Ministry of Education as having the credentials to teach in the distance education system.  He is very excited to be working on a Grade 10 (for credit) course in robotics prototyping.  He has done some informal math tutoring this past year as well.

He is also my go-to tech guy. I can write, format in Word and otherwise navigate very well in many computer programs without asking for help.  However, integrating a landing page into our web store, setting up new products on the store, implementing a product discount code in anticipation of the launch of the book…well, it is far faster to ask him to help me with that.

So what’s left to do on the ebook? I have worked on a landing page for the ebook using Instapage.  Rather than itemize what’s in the e-book, you will have to wait for the landing page to go live. I’ve worked pretty hard to encapsulate the contents. I’m rather pleased about the landing page and I have to say that technically it was fairly easy to create…user friendly.  I now have one more edit of the book (which I do backwards to catch typos…yup, when I edited professionally I did this as well!).  I then have to create a PDF file.  What’s different this time from when we launched our rocket mass heater book, is I’m including about 6 or 7 videos which will be embedded in the PDF document. Turns out I need Adobe Acrobat as embedding videos into PDF through the Word function is not possible.  I’ve downloaded it but it seems to have disappeared. As I type this Chris is working on fine-tuning the 3D printer so I’m loathe to ask him for help…but I will.  Then it’s all about landing page and store integration.  We are almost there!

Big thanks to my cousin Gerald, who is a graphic artist.  I had a photo picked out for the cover and laid out text over top in GIMP but was having issues making it look nice. He took the photo, imported it into Photoshop and about 3 seconds later (o.k. 40 minutes) he sent me a version that looks oh, so, professional!  In the midst of his work he messaged me, “don’t have Binner, it’s a bit 80s, can I substitute?” (Binner was the font I’d chosen.). I replied, “sure, sub all you want” (I was just so happy to have a pro working on it).  A few minutes later I messaged him, “a bit 80s?…you say that like it’s a bad thing.”  He never replied. ;)

Also a huge thanks to Nicole Bennett and Kris Plantz of Manitoba Earthship Project and Jim and Lynn Knell of tirehouse.ca who were my pre-launch reviewers.  They also shared their financial information with me so I was able to include a comparison of three very different earthships. I know anybody who buys the book will find this invaluable.

Please join our email list to get the discount code and Happy New Year!

2014 Earthship Tours

Thank you to all who came to see our earthship on November 2nd. After a year hiatus from tours – at the request of our children – we convinced them to open up the house again.

We had two, two-hour tours that day.  It was a lot of fun. We got to meet some long-time Darfield Earthship followers from as close as Clearwater BC and as far away as Hazelton BC.  There is as much interest in our budding permaculture adventure and how it ties into modern homesteading, as there was in the earthship itself.

Helen zinged Chris when the discussion at the morning tour turned to who had actually met Mike Reynolds. As some might remember from our posts in 2010 we visited Grant and Linda’s build where Earthship Biotecture was putting up the earthship. Before we left we quickly introduced ourselves to Mike and Chris told him, “I never thought I’d be able to meet somebody and say ‘I’ve read all your books'”.  Helen (who is 13-years-old) deadpanned, “Yeah, Dad totally fan-girled on him”.

We had about four people attend who are seriously planning their own builds in the spring in various parts of BC. We also had folks from Clearwater, who were probably our most local official visitors to date. (We have had lots of friends and family from Darfield and Barriere see our home unofficially).

We sold out the tours about a week prior…and I turned away about 15 people who wanted to know if they could “sneak” into one of them.  One couple who could not make it tried scalping their tickets…it was pretty funny and dare I say, gratifying?

I felt badly turning people away but 20 people is about all that will fit in the earthship before people are peering around each other to see our home’s features.  I would hate to have people complain that it was just too crowded to be enjoyable.

We were pleased by how the tours went and hope to have more in the spring. We have some projects planned for inside the earthship over winter, so there will hopefully be more to see in April/May both inside and when the goodies start popping up in the hugelkulture.  We will post about these projects here and on our FB page as things progress! We have also resumed some work on a few e-books. It is always slower than we’d like but we continue to balance our consulting work, the kids’ school and activities and our need for some down-time from all of the above.

Please stay posted for dates as spring arrives!