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!

Book Tag

I got the idea for this Book Tag from Kevin Hurtak’s blog and thought it might be interesting to get to know me a little better. Also it seemed like fun, so here goes.

 

E-Book or Physical Book?

Definitely physical. HOWEVER, since I have no space to put my books (those currently owned as well as those I hope to own), I have to concede and tolerate using ebooks. I’m not happy about it though.

 

Paperback or Hardback?

I have a few hardbacks, but I really like paperbacks. Especially the ones that are no bigger than 4×7 inches. Pocket-sized books. You can take them with you wherever you like.

 

Online or In-Store Book Shopping?

Online to be honest. I have a really hard time trying to read the spines from books. Also, since I’m a short guy, craning my neck back to get a vague glimpse of books packed tightly in shelves that are 6 and 7 feet high gives me a headache. Not to mention they are always so tightly packed (crammed, to be more precise) that is impossible to take them out and flip through them. I’m not even going into how hard it is to put them back. On the other hand, you can’t meet and chat to people in an online store.

 

Trilogies or Series?

A few years back, I would have said series. Now it’s more standalones. Don’t get me wrong, I recently finished reading a scifi series (finished, because the next book comes out in 2019, I think, so bummer). It’s hard for me to take the leap of faith any more. I blame writing for this. It has ruined reading for me in so many ways. I can’t read a book without trying to edit it. It sucks! So for the most part the order is standalones, trilogies, and at the very end, series. But the distance between standalones and trilogies is vast.

 

Heroes or Villains?

I don’t care really. I do enjoy reading the occasional villain who actually wins, but it all comes down to whether or not the character is well developed. By well developed, I mean realistic. That’s why I have loved reading A Song Of Ice And Fire (Game of Thrones); the characters behave in a realistic way. And because Martin realises there are more bad things happening in life than good. Thus, his characters end up missing their heads. But no preference whatsoever.

 

A book you want everyone to read?

Disclaimer: shameless plug follows *clears throat* MINE, MINE, MINE, MINE…
Seriously, though, for writers, I think Self-Editing for Fiction Writers is a book everyone should read. As for readers, this question is impossible to answer. One person likes one genre, the other likes a different. Scifi lovers, read Altered Carbon (the whole trilogy – each book is pretty much stand-alone). And my book. Horror fans, read It. And my book and my short stories.

 

Recommend an underrated book?

Before I started writing, I was introduced to R. Scott Bakker’s fantasy work. If you like dark fantasy, settings and scenarios that are based on real history, and you like or don’t mind reading philosophy, I suggest you read The Second Apocalypse series (yeah, I know I said I don’t read series, but that was before I started writing. Back then I devoured them).

 

The last book you bought?

The one I’m currently reading, Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

 

Weirdest thing you’ve used as a bookmark?

Cable. Really thin one. No, you may not ask for more details on that.

Used Books: Yes or No?

No. I like the book I’m holding to be in pristine condition. Mintier than mint. My heart sinks a little when I get a paperback that has even the slightest (I mean negligible) sign of frayed corners. Of course that doesn’t mean that the book stays as pristine once in my possession. I’m a bit weird in this: I can’t stand having a book with bent or frayed corners (I protect my books like treasure), but I also can’t stand reading a book where the spine hasn’t been popped wide open. I know it’s weird. When I open the book and place it on a table I want to see the pages stay flat. I can’t stand having pages rising. It literally drives me nuts. So I make sure I open the spine as wide as it takes, without destroying it. I told you I’m weird.

Top three favourite genres?

Cyberpunk, Horror, Fantasy.

 

Borrow or Buy?

Buy. Look at my answers for Used Books: Yes or No for a more detailed explanation. I want to have a mint-condition book in my hands. Not to mention that it helps the writer 😉

 

Characters or Plot?

Characters interesting enough to drive the plot forward through their actions. If that’s not possible because the genre tropes don’t allow that, then plot. The key element for me is plot.

Long or Short Books?

I’ve read books that were over 1000 pages long and I’ve read books that barely reached 150. I have liked and hated books on both ends of the length spectrum. What I don’t like are books that end up showing me things and events that are completely unrelated to the main plot, or are not interesting enough to make up for the lack of relation to the plot. A very well-known fantasy writer comes to mind with his highly acclaimed fantasy trilogy that so far features only two books (hint: I’ll probably be eighty by the time he releases book 3), but I will not name him. The prose in book 1 was perfect. I mean, exquisite prose. BUT, the stuff that happened from a few chapters before the middle all the way to a couple of chapters before the end were a waste of paper. They were completely unrelated to the plot, in my humble opinion they didn’t develop the character at all, and as such they should have been deleted.

 

Long or Short Chapters?

I don’t mind. Whatever works for the story and pacing.

 

Name the first three books you can think of

Bag of Bones (Stephen King), Game of Thrones (G. R. R. Martin), Altered Carbon (Richard K. Morgan).

 

Books that make you laugh or cry?

I don’t like reading comedy, and I also don’t like crying. So I’ll just say the same old thing: as long as it creates the necessary emotional connection, it’s fine.

Our World or Fictional Worlds?

As a tourist, a visitor of sorts, I wouldn’t mind fictional worlds.

Audio books: Yes or No?

I’ve only listened to one and I can safely say they’re not for me. I like taking notes on things that interest me during my read, so audio books are not ideal for me.

Do you ever judge a book by its cover?

Of course! Who doesn’t? That’s why we have sayings like, don’t judge a book by its cover. It’s because people do it, and it’s perfectly all right to do it. Why should I be an exception to that? I said I’m weird, but not that weird.

A Movie or TV-Show You Preferred to its Book?

I quite enjoyed watching The Children of Men rather than reading it. Still, the book was good, but I think the movie was better. Much bleaker, which is what you want and expect in an apocalyptic book.

How about you? How would you answer these questions? Feel free to tell me in the comments or consider yourself tagged and do your own version of the post.

Learning new things

*Disclaimer: I’m in the mood for gifs today, so you’ll get a few of them with this post*

Being self published doesn’t always mean you have to do everything on your own, but sometimes circumstances force you to do so.

As I mentioned earlier, my debut post apocalyptic horror novel, The Darkening, will be launched near the end of the year, probably around late October or early November. For that, I have hired an editor (all edits are now done) and am waiting to hear back from my designer. Unfortunately, his busy schedule doesn’t allow him to start working on my project before July. So after I dealt with these two very important parts of the production of a book, I thought that would be it. I’d upload the manuscript on each platform, and all I’d have to do between then and the launch date would be to promote it.

Ermm, how about no?

It turned out that I had forgotten another important bit: internal formatting.

What in the name of dark hell was that?!

I had spent virtually all my (meagre) budget on the editor and I would spend the remaining on the designer. In fact, after reviewing my budget, I realised I had nothing left for promotion!

So the first thought was: is internal formatting something I can skip?

Apparently no. Well, I could, but that would interfere with the quality of the product I wanted to produce.

Now, I know that Amazon has created a Word plugin that creates a basic template for all the available printing options they provide, including trim size. But the problem for me was that this plugin only works on newer versions of Word, you know, the ones with the ugly ribbon menu thing its creators decided to introduce?

Yeah, how about no?

Like many other writers out there, I refuse to work on something with a UI (user interface) that is non-configurable based on my needs. If you think that I’m the only weirdo around the writing realms, think again!

You tell ’em, George!

So since the Word version I work with (2003, if you’re wondering) could not use that plugin and I could not outsource the task, I had to figure out how to format my book on my own. And I did. Partly… Sort of… Kind of…

Enter InDesign. Luckily a friend lent me an older version of the program to test and try out just for this project. And surprisingly enough, if one who knows nothing about internal formatting or InDesign wishes to use it to create simple interior book designs, then it won’t take more than a couple of days to learn it. Thank Youtube for that!

So I managed to create a decent printable copy of my manuscript, and I now have a fraction of a basic understanding of how to use the program. It’s definitely in my to-buy list, even though I know I will only be using a tiny fraction of its capabilities.

Now if I could only figure out a way to make it create a decent epub version without messing everything up, I’d be one step closer to world domination!

 

Next steps, and plans

I hate making new years’ resolutions. In my mind, it’s ridiculous to think one can plan for something so far ahead, because life throws curved balls at us and changes everything. What we plan at the beginning of the year, is planned based on the info and difficulties we are aware of at that moment. The next moment, the Sun may implode and we end up rotating around a red dwarf. One hell of a sight to see, but it’s going to put a little dent on those plans. I believe I’ve said it before: when mortals make plans, gods laugh. Especially if those plans rely on the completion of a whole bunch of other things happening before the resolution comes to fruition. I’m talking about resolutions like, “I want to travel the world from east to west and north to south in a canoe before the end of this year.” A lot of things need to happen before one achieves that. Like learning what a canoe is, and how to navigate in the sea without electronic equipment. So I never, ever do them.

I don’t mind setting small goals, physically and mentally possible. Like, “this year I’m going to learn to count from one to ten in Cantonese.” It’s manageable and doable, even if life throws at me its worse.

All exaggerations aside, I’m more of a person who likes to set goals (see, I’m making a distinction here between goals and resolutions) over which I have control, things that I know for a fact I can make them happen in the immediate future (“this Saturday, I’m going over to Steve’s to reconcile with him after our last week’s argument”). So it’s more like a plan than anything else.

Well, this year, I broke my own rule. I set a goal for me, only it’s actually a resolution.

I will publish my first novel in 2018, I said. It shocked me a couple of weeks after I said it, but my mind insisted on it. 2018 will be the year the world will read my first novel.

A lot of things need to happen between now and 31 December 2018.

1. Have a completed manuscript ready (edited by me at least 20 times, read by betas, and re-edited after their suggestions 5 more times) –> CHECK
2. Have a basic knowledge of how one gets to publish a book –> CHECK
3. Have a list of potential readers who might be interested in reading said book –> CHECK (I have a newsletter, and some of the readers there show genuine interest in talking to me. That’s a start, right?)
4. Have a basic understanding of how a writer can promote their work –> CHECK (though I’m still learning)
5. Have an editor ready to edit the book –> X
6. Have a cover designer ready to craft a cover for it –> X

So now I’m at the point where I’m looking into editors. Line editors, to be exact. Apparently, not many of them go around. Or if there are, a great deal of them bundle copy editing and line editing into one (two different kinds of editing, but I’ll get back to that at a later post). Also, money is an issue. Editor needs to be affordable. Hmm, let me rephrase that: cheaper than what most writers would consider affordable. Take into account the different earnings between Greece and your countries. So, in other words, the editor has to be dirt cheap. Perhaps a line editor who is just starting up their self-employed editing career, and want to attract clients and referrers than anything else.

I’m sure there’s someone like that out there. I’ve already got my eye on a few. I’m waiting for them to reply to my queries and get quotes. I’ll let you know how it goes.

In the mean time, TL;DR (too long; didn’t read): 2018 will be the year I will publish my first novel.