Hold and Improve

A collection of short stories from the fireline.

What is “Hold and Improve?

Hold and Improve is a tribute to the storytelling culture of Wildland Firefighting. It is a collection of short stories, artwork, poetry, etc., as told by Wildland Firefighters from all facets of the fire world with varying years of firefighting experience and from all across the nation. The book will be small, packable, and ready to be shoved into your line gear for those moments when you hear that familiar message, “HOLD AND IMPROVE” passed down the line. It is also meant to be passed between crewmembers and talked about around the warming fire back at spike camp. Hold and Improve will come in volumes. Each volume offering new and relatable stories with different focal points of the fire world and the culture within it. It’s meant to represent the collective “us”… the Fire Family.

Contribute your Story

Hold and Improve is created by firefighters, for firefighters, and some of the proceeds from each sale will go to organizations that support Wildland Firefighters. But none of this can move forward without your story.

Not a good writer, or speller for that matter? It’s not about that. If you have an incredible story to share, we can help you get it on paper. Although the preference is a written submission, we will accept audio recordings of your story as a submission.

Submission Rules:

  1. Submitted content must come from a person who is now, or has at one time been a wildland firefighter. (This is includes secondary fire positions, such as dispatch)
  2. Any submission that is disparaging to any group/type of people including other entities in fire will be discarded.
  3. The story submitted must be true, and it must be a first hand account. (With the exception of fire folklore submissions)
  4. Story submissions must be 2,500 words or less (preferably less).
  5. The use of a pen name is acceptable for publication, but not for the submission.
  6. While traumatic stories are impactful and important, there are other outlets to highlight those stories and therefore, we ask that you do not submit traumatic stories.
  7. Similar to #5, there are many outlets for stories about leadership, development, frustrations, and complaints, but there aren’t very many that celebrate the camaraderie of this profession. That is the main driving force behind Hold+ Improve. Please make your submissions with camaraderie in mind.
  8. If people other than the author are named in a story, they must provide written approval for use of their name for publication.
  9. All submissions are provided voluntarily, not for monetary gain.
  10. Not all submissions will end up in a volume of Hold and Improve. Each volume will be crafted with the best compilation of stories possible, unfortunately, not every story will be a good fit. You will be contacted if your story is selected.

Submission Details and Deadline:

Submissions must be written in a Word document (rather than in the body of the email) with the email heading, “(Insert your last name)- Submission”. It would lessen the work on our end significantly if submitters use Grammarly or a similar program that can assist you with spelling and punctuation prior to submission. For audio submissions please use Voice Recorder or a similar app to share your story.

Submissions will be accepted between November 1st and February 1st and can be submitted to theevolvingnomad@gmail.com Please make sure you have thoroughly read the submission rules prior to sending your submission.

Submission Topics:

Rookie Move! Offer up your embarrassing rookie moments that had folks shaking their head and/or laughing at your expense. (We’ve all got em’!)

My First Fire: Everyone remembers their first fire, some are crazier than others.

Photo Submissions of Original Artwork: Black and White Only (Charcoal, Chalk, Pen, Marker, Pencil Sketches, Watercolor, Cartoon Graphics, etc.)

Poetry: Poetry specific to aspects of wildfire.

Our Culture: Examples: The Legend of Big Ernie, The history of “The Big Flip”, The Story of Ed Pulaski, unique traditions on your crew, etc. (If you provide stories that are historical and or/ “legend”, please let us know where you sourced your information. An old salty firefighter is considered a valid source in the fire world… maybe you are the salty old firefighter and you can source yourself! )

Old School: Stories from the days of old school firefighting; before Smartphones, Map Apps, Jetboils, or even GPS’!

Animal Encounters: Wild stories dealing with Wild Animals.

Woah… That was intense: Unreal, unbelievable, but true.

Holy Shit! I can’t believe that just happened!: Everything was normal and then…

Funny: The funniest moments on the fireline

We were on our way when… From being redirected to other incidents, to rigs breaking down en route, or getting hung up by a cattle drive, etc. all sorts of things can happen when you’re on your way…

Fire Camp Mayhem: Sometimes you just can’t make up the types of things that happen in fire camp.

Insane Medical Extractions Gone-Right: A place to highlight the smooth and successful extractions of gnarly injuries.

Aviation Related Stories: Whenever you get aircraft involved the level of intensity gets turned up a notch and all sorts of crazy things can happen. Puking can happen too… lots of puking.

Pregnant on the Fireline: There are few women in the “pregnant on the fireline” club but each one of them surely has an awesome story to share.

Additional Submissions:

Tips, Tricks, and Tweaks: Think about all the hacks you’ve come up with in your fire career and share the best one.

Earth friendly practices in the fire world: Share your tips with the rest of the fire community.

If you don’t know…. Now you know: Share healthy insights, explain how to identify certain tree/plant/fungi species in the wild, define random fire terminology, etc.

Moonlighting: Wildland Firefighters tend to have many skillsets and talents, and some end up throwing their energy into a side business. Submit a blurb about yourself and your side business, we may just highlight you in a volume of Hold and Improve.

Random: We can’t think of everything… submit fire your story that somehow falls through the cracks of all of these topics.

Where Can I Buy Hold and Improve?

The anticipated release date for Volume Alpha of Hold and Improve will be in the Spring of 2022; just in time to grab a copy and shove it into your line gear before heading out for the season. More details to come.

Commonly Asked Questions:

Q: Will I lose ownership of my story if I contribute it to the book?

A: Definitely not. It’s your story, you’re just choosing to share it in the collection of short stories.

Q: I’ve got a good story but I’m not a good writer. Will I get help with editing/grammar?

A: Yes, absolutely. All selected stories will go through a co-editing process with each respective author.

Q: Can I write a story with another fire friend, squad, crew?

A: Yes. So long as it is a true story the submission can be collaboratively written.

Q: I see that some of the proceeds go to fire organizations, but how much? Where does the rest go?

A: This book will be going through a self-publication process, which is time consuming and rather complicated. There are fees associated with formatting, editing, and copy-editing; as well as fees for the publishing company to make it available for sale. At this stage there’s no way to know what the proceeds will be per book. However, money will be donated to organizations which help firefighters, and the remaining proceeds pay for the production and effort behind making the book.