The hour of The Darkening is approaching

You’ve been following this blog for a while, and in a way it’s almost as if we’ve known each other for as long. And yet, most of you have never heard the sound of my voice. Or my accent. Ever. Hmm…

It also occurred to me that I haven’t shared the cover of my novel with you either, have I? A few weeks ago, I made a quick video where I was unboxing the proof copy of The Darkening.

There’s a video on Youtube where you can find out what I sound like AND get a glimpse of the cover for my post-apocalyptic horror novel, The Darkening. That’s two birds with one stone, right?

Enjoy!

Surviving the apocalypse – a cooking stove

It’s amazing what a writer can discover while researching for a book. Writing a post-apocalyptic story for the past few years made me look into the whole survival thing. Now, I’m not much of a survivalist myself. In fact, I’m such a city slicker, that I feel I’m in an alien and hostile environment even if I’m left in a park. You know, one of those big parks, with lots of trees and flying critters buzzing all around me. Chances are, after a couple of minutes there, you’ll probably see me running half crazy, arms flailing, and screaming in utter panic.

True story, by the way, on more than one occasion, but let’s not get into that right now, shall we? Moving on…

Even though I’m not too fond of nature (I think the right word is incompatible), I couldn’t help but timidly start researching things about survival in the wilderness (like a park). After all, you never know when an apocalyptic event will occur with you as one of the survivors. And yes, this includes a zombie apocalypse. You’ll still need to eat during a zombie apocalypse, wouldn’t you?

One of the first things I came across was a video that showed how to create a stove to cook food. Of course, that implies you already know how to capture your food, how to overcome any mental barriers you may have about killing your food (preferably before your food kills you – always a good idea to do things in that order), how to prepare your food for cooking, and other various important things for survival.

Now obviously I haven’t tried this at home, so in the case of an apocalypse, I can’t guarantee it won’t turn the world’s or humanity’s leftovers into cinders,

but it may be something that could help you survive. And yes, why not, have a party with your friends in the middle of a zombie apocalypse (word of advice: your plus one should NOT be muttering “brains” all the time and should NOT be part of the mindless horde. Nobody likes a party pooper). If you do want to try this, be mindful of any harmful and/or toxic substances that may or may not migrate to your food from the makeshift stove. On the other hand, if a zombie apocalypse occurs or fiery mushrooms of doom burn the atmosphere, toxic substances from your makeshift stove may be the least of your worries.

If only John Piscus, the main character in my debut novel, The Darkening, knew this… man, oh man!

ARC readers needed

For a little over a month now, I’ve been trying to build an ARC team for my debut novel, The Darkening. If you’re unfamiliar with the term ARC, it’s an acronym that stands for Advanced Review/Reader Copy. What this means is that an interested party receives a copy of the book (in this case, a digital copy) in the hopes that he/she will be willing to review the book when it launches, regardless of the review being positive or negative.

It’s not easy. I’m going about it the hard way. That is, I scour the internet for book bloggers and reviewers, looking for those who would be willing to consider my book for a review. For those who enjoy reading horror and post apocalypse. When done like this, it’s incredibly time consuming. But when someone starts out and doesn’t have a strong fan base, I think it’s unavoidable.

In order for a book and its author to compete with the big names of traditional and self publishing, authors with thousands of fans who hit the bestseller lists almost on day one, it’s crucial for the book to come out with as many reviews as possible on release day.

Though I haven’t checked my browser’s history, I know that each day since I started building the ARC team, I visit more than a hundred book bloggers’ sites. There were a few days where I found a list of two hundred of them, and I went through it in one day.

Cartoon of man with messy hair, bags below bloodshot eyes, and stubble on face and chin

Yeah, that’s me after all the searching is done, minus the hair, plus the exhaustion from the heat (go away summer, I’ve had enough of you).

So this post is a call for ARC readers. Does any of you enjoy reading post apocalypse and horror? Here are the book’s details.

 

Title: The Darkening (standalone book)
Genre: Post-apocalyptic horror
Available format: epub, mobi (pdf upon request)
Release date: Sunday, 28 October 2018
Trigger Warning: mention of dead animals and humans. Moderate violence.
Audience: Adult
Similar books (in terms of mood): The Road (Cormac McCarthy), Children Of Men (P. D. James).
Excerpt: Available upon request.

Description: Don’t fear the dark. Fear the light.

The end came when light changed. It decimated humanity, leaving scattered bands of survivors stumbling in the dark.

Faced with saving himself or his family during the apocalypse, John Piscus made the wrong choice, and has been living with the guilt ever since.

When a glowing girl shows up at John’s shelter begging for help, his instincts tell him to kill her. After all, light kills.

But when masked troopers tasked with capturing survivors come after them, it’s up to John to protect himself and the girl. Not only may she hold the key to reversing the lethal effects of light, she could also be the one who can save his soul.

———————

The book’s launch is scheduled for the 28th of October. I can only hope that, should you decide to join my ARC team, there will be enough time for you to read it before that date. When I started building the team, I thought it would take me a month, perhaps a little more than that, to assemble a group of about fifty (brave) readers. Alas, this newbie was wrong.

If any of you wants to receive an ARC, please use the site’s contact form, or post a reply here with your email, or tweet me (@c_sarantopoulos), or message me on Facebook. I welcome all reviews, both positive and negative.

Thank you!

A question for you

I come to you with a question. A few years ago, I had a short story published through an e-zine. Since then, the magazine ceased to exist, although the site is still up. My story was featured in the last issue they published. No one could access the story unless they paid to read the issue. That was back in 2014. Pretty much what any print magazine does. Pay to read. As far I know, even today, one can only read an excerpt of that story, but needs to pay a subscription to read the rest.

The story is related to my upcoming debut novel, The Darkening. In fact, they are so closely related, they have the same title. Yeah, I know it’s not a good idea to do this in general, but I suck at coming up with titles.

Anyway, now that I’m redesigning my newsletter, I was thinking of using that short story as part of a reader magnet that will also include the first four chapters of my debut novel, and access to a short interactive story I designed. So three items in total.

But here’s the problem. My style has changed significantly since 2014. I improved considerably in these four years. As far as I’m concerned, that short story is not as good as it could be. It was good then, when I only had a year or so of writing experience. But if I were to write it now, it would be different. The story doesn’t resonate the same to my ears. I’m worried that if I let people read it the way it was published then, readers may get the wrong impression of my current writing skill and style. Of course, as I’ve told you before, I’m a perfectionist. Never satisfied with the quality of the material I produce. So it may all very well be in my mind.

So here’s the question to you, the more seasoned and knowledgeable writers: Have you ever had to rewrite a previously published story of yours for a new publication or to give it away to new readers? If so, how far is a writer allowed to go with new revisions/edits? Would such a thing create problems for the publisher of the original story? Would you even consider reusing or repurposing older material for new readers? Ultimately, am I right to be worried or am I worrying too much?

How do writers overcome their fear

I was browsing through WordPress’s Reader when I stumbled upon a post that made me think.

In that post, the writer said he/she had been writing for 30 years, but had yet to take the leap and show her work to anyone. Near the end of the post the writer wondered how do writers manage to put our work out in the open, where the rest of the world can see it.

Speaking for myself here, it wasn’t too long ago when I had the same question in my head. The same question and of course the same fear. How would I ever show my work to complete strangers? Even worse, how would I ever show my work to those I knew personally? What if they didn’t like it? What if they laughed at me? Even if they didn’t laugh, how would I ever face them again, knowing that they didn’t like my work or that they merely said they liked it in order not to hurt my feelings?

So what’s the driving force that helps a writer to overcome similar fears? I think the answer to this comes down to a lot of factors.

First, and always speaking for myself, one has to take into account the role of vanity. Vanity for doing something not many others do. Vanity for potentially succeeding into something not many people do. Vanity, because if we do succeed, then our names will be known and fans will flock to us. Yeah, I know that’s almost never the case for writers, but before reality strikes, while we’re still wet behind the ears, such thoughts are too familiar. C’mon, admit it, fellow writers. I don’t know if the word indulge is the right one, but we do like the idea. We like the idea of talking to someone and telling them that we’re writers, so we can hear, “really?! A writer?! Wow!” It’s like writers are a bunch of mythical creatures that populate local folk tales and all of the sudden, boom! One stands right before people’s eyes. Everyone knows writers exist… somewhere, but people don’t often encounter them. I think we like that feeling. It plays well with vanity, don’t you think? So that’s one way to do things.

Then there’s this mindset: what’s the worst thing that can happen if I get rejected? I think this is a healthy way of seeing things, because once we understand this, once we accept this as reality, then we know that the worst thing to happen will be to receive a form rejection letter. I think the world will keep on existing, the Earth will keep on spinning, and people’s everyday lives will carry on regardless of the rejection. Rejection letters carry a weight, but they’re not that powerful to mess with someone’s life. So, basically, we just take the plunge. It’s a leap of faith. And we have faith to ourselves. It may sound that there’s something missing, some secret I haven’t told you, but the truth is we just do it. That’s another way.

Then there are those who firmly believe that only good things can come from rejections: we can improve (very important) and we can develop a tougher skin for such things (equally important). All one has to do, is send their work for the first time. You’ll probably say, “easier said than done.” You’re right. But if you take for granted that when you first start out you’ll get rejected, if get into that mindset (I know it comes natural to me since I’m a pessimist), then sending a query to a magazine or an agent or a publisher simply becomes a formality like any other we go through in our daily lives. Have you never had to ask for something in your workplace only to get rejected? When you hear or read the word NO, don’t you carry on with your task at hand, your daily lives? Does it diminish you, as a person, in any way? Most likely not. How’s querying for a story any different? If you had asked your supervisor/co-worker in a different way, if you had pushed your proposal differently, would that have helped? If yes, wouldn’t you try again? And again? Isn’t that the same thing for a writer? That’s a third way of

Keep in mind that it only takes one person to say yes to your work. Just one. One person to believe in you. It might as well be you. You’re a good start 😉

Lastly, the way I see it, for writers, only three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and rejection. Once we accept that, how much can a little rejection affect us? How much should it affect us? At the end of the day, if you want to avoid getting rejected, improve your craft. Make it stellar! The means are within your grasp, folks! There’s not much we can do about death and taxes, but we can certainly battle our fear for rejection. In fact, it may very well be the only one of the three that is not able to control us. Fear of rejection is not as strong as we often make it to be.