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!

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?

Excerpt from Ground Floor, Second Room To The Left

Ground Floor, Second Room To The Left is a week old. I was so stressed the past few weeks with this release as well as the production of my debut novel, that I actually didn’t think I would make it in time. But at last, it happened. It’s out!

 

 

Those of you following my page on Facebook or are in my newsletter, had already had a chance to read an excerpt of my latest short story. Below you can read the first couple of pages from Ground Floor, Second Room To The Left.

In case you missed it last week, this is the story of Joe and Lucy, a married couple of scavengers, who enter a derelict building to steal copper pipes, only to realise they’re locked in. Things take a turn for the worse because Lucy is claustrophobic and can’t stand the idea of being trapped. But the real problem is the messages that begin to appear on the walls, floor, and ceiling. More importantly, what the messages tell Joe and Lucy they need to do for freedom.

You can get your copy from Amazon or from some of the other biggest retailers.

——

The Second Empire-style house has stood since 1947, but no one has ever lived in it. To the left of the structure stands a pair of dead poplar trees, their branches entwined like Graeco-Roman wrestlers. To the right is a pair of desiccated oaks, also with entangled limbs. The trees dominate the yellow-brown jungle that once was the garden.

An old Ford F-100 pulls over not far from the rickety wooden fence. In it, Joe takes a photo out of his pocket and looks at it. It’s a photo of the house, taken shortly after its construction, but it’s one without the trees. His brow arches up and he lifts the photo next to the house to compare the two. He nods and puts it back in his breast pocket. He then places his hand on Lucy’s knee and gives it an affectionate rub.

Now that the rain has finally stopped, Joe switches the wipers off, allowing Lucy a clear view of the building. As she examines it, a small knot forms at the pit of her gut that chases away the fake excitement she had up to now. Under the racing lead-coloured clouds, the house stands dark, barren, and wind-bitten. Almost on the verge of falling in on itself.

A small bulge on her throat goes down once and rises slowly, but she gives her husband a smile and hopes he doesn’t notice her discomfort. She takes his hand into hers to give it a soft kiss, and rests her head on his shoulder for the last bumpy and mud-filled stretch of road leading to the house.

They park the battered Ford in the overgrown gravel driveway.

“Looks ancient,” Lucy says. “No owners?”

“Nope. Unclaimed property for over three or four decades. Locals said no one has set foot here except one or two demolition crews.”

“Well, it’s still standing,” Lucy says.

Joe smiles. “Yeah. Crews stayed one day, then left and never came back. According to the locals, the place is haunted.”

She arches a brow. “Haunted?”

Joe waves a hand as if shooing a fly. “Rumours. Old people’s tales. I mean, really old, with more snow on their pates than teeth in their mouths and brains in their heads. They said the architect and his assistant vanished, like some of those who came to tear it down.” He opens the driver’s door and places one foot out. “You ask me, I say they all ran out of money, packed up, and left.” He gives her a toothy grin and steps outside.

Lucy takes a two-piece folding mirror out of her pocket and stares back at her curved nose, her complexion with as many imperfections as there are exes in her past. Ex-hairdresser, ex-phone saleswoman, ex-wife to an online scammer she married after a wild weekend in Vegas with a ton of booze and several snorts of the good white stuff. His treat.

Her gaze drifts back to the way they came, to the barely visible tree line that defines the main road. Then she eyes the dilapidated structure before her, and a weight settles on her chest.
—–

If that enticed you enough to want to buy the story, you can do so from Amazon or if they’re not your favourite place to buy ebooks, try any of these retailers instead.

And if you do honour me with your purchase, why not share your thoughts about the story with other readers out there? You can do it by leaving a brief and honest review of what you read. Not only will it help me, but it will help others to find a story they might like (or stay away from, if you think it was bad).

On a side note, I have made some changes to my mailing list. Now, anyone who signs up for my monthly newsletters will receive a free short story! So, sign up here or try the link to the right (near the top of the page, under the search bar), and download your copy. Naturally, I won’t hold it against you if you choose to spread the news far and wide about the free story so others will know… 😉

Ground Floor, Second Room To The Left

My fourth short story, Ground Floor, Second Room To The Left, is now available worldwide. This is a horror short piece that tells the story of Joe and Lucy, a married couple of scavengers, who enter a derelict building to steal copper pipes, only to realise they’re locked in. Things are getting heated up because Lucy is claustrophobic and can’t stand the idea of being trapped. But the real problem is the messages that begin to appear on the walls, floor, and ceiling. More importantly, what the messages tell Joe and Lucy they need to do to get out.

Here’s the blurb.

Be careful where you venture.

When Joe and Lucy, lovingly married, enter a derelict house to scavenge, the door locks behind them, trapping the couple in a half destroyed room. Lucy is claustrophobic and needs to get out. When Joe tries to break the lock, unnerving messages written in blood appear on the walls, asking the same thing from both. The price for freedom in steep, and unless they act fast, they will die trapped.

Yep, you guessed it right: it’s a haunted house horror story and it already got a five-star review.

You can also read the review on Wickedjr89’s book blog here and Inkandblotting’s review here. Featured there, you will also find a review of my previous short story, Wisps of Memory.

Ground Floor, Second Room To The Left is available through Amazon as well as other retailers.

And as a personal request, if you do read it, please consider taking five minutes of your time to review it. It will not only validate my efforts and my work (regardless of whether you like the story or not), but it will also add to the necessary attention my work needs. Your reviews matter, because they are the most important way a writer (and that’s true for indies even more) can build and strengthen his/her career.

I hope you enjoy it. Happy reading, everyone!

Published in the #redditwriters anthology

Just a quick note to let everyone know that the anthology I mentioned a couple of weeks ago is now live. You can get your copy here (for you in the US, and here for those of you in the UK). The title is TL;DR: A Redditwriters Mixtape Vol. 1

In its pages you will find thirty-one stories from twenty-six authors. There is no theme to the anthology, so almost everyone will find at least one story to his or her liking. There’s fantasy, crime, horror, and even comedy.

Why should you buy this anthology? Because that way you’d be giving to charity. The proceeds from this endeavour go directly to Doctors Without Borders. So, if you buy a copy, you won’t be giving money to us, but for a good cause.

 

I hope you enjoy it! Happy reading, everyone!