Excerpt: American Rebirth PREQUEL!

Excerpt: American Rebirth PREQUEL!

I need your input, peoples.

  1. I want to know what you think of this excerpt. It’s a prequel of the American Rebirth Series.  Email me, tweet me, DM me, whatever, let me know what you think!
  2. I need to know if you are interested in a prequel. It would cover the SHTF scenario, and go into the Clearwater era. Hood and Whiskey and Taylor in the early Clearwater days.

 

Your feedback is important! I have a desire to write this story, but I want to know from my readers if this is something they’d be interested in.

So here you have it. Enjoy!


Abandoned Home, South of Washington D.C., Rural Maryland.

Sunlight poured into the dusty living room. The hinges of the front door groaned as it slowed to a stop. The old wood floors flexed and creaked under each step. Rob Huntington could picture what life in this house once looked like. An old retired couple, maybe. A young family that moved out into the country. No, it was left behind too clean. No mess. No kids.
The pistol was warm in his grip. Slide locked back. Fired empty. He placed it on an antique sideboard, the weight of it clunking against the lacquered wood.
I am not a killer. Rob pulled the ornate white cloth off of the sideboard, his hands still shaking. He scrubbed at his skin. The blood smudged and smeared, it wouldn’t entirely come off.
He breathed in deep, the musty smell somehow having a calming effect on him. It was not familiar. He’d never been here before. Never even been in this part of the state. But it smelled like a home. There’s no going back to the way things were.
He closed his eyes, standing in the center of the hallway. The past was dead. That was always true. You can never go back. But it meant something different now. You came in here for a reason. You need to find something else to fight with. His feet carried him through the house without thought. There had to be something he could use. The very need for this search told him a truth he did not want to face. This won’t be the last time. You will have to kill again.
Mounted on a wall in the den sat an old bolt-action rifle. There. Below it, almost shrine-like, on a mantelpiece was a trifold American flag in a wooden case, a name engraved on it. Pierce Ploman. Rob moved towards it reverently. The only sound was the creak of his footsteps and the distant carefree cries of faraway birds from the open door. Gently he reached out to touch the rifle and lifted it off its mount, the old leather strap swaying free in the air.
The rifle was old. But it was oiled and well taken care of. His eyes went from the trigger to the firing mechanism, seeing faded words stamped into the metal. Model and make, surely. He didn’t know what they meant. He ran his thumb over them, feeling the imprint in the steel. How does this thing work? Rob pulled back on the bolt sticking out of the rifle, but it didn’t move. He pushed up, and it came free to move. He pulled it back and the action slid open. Do I put each round in one at a time? The metal plate underneath the open chamber seemed separate from the rest. He pushed down on it, and it gave way, a spring below pushing it up. The rounds must go in there. Feed into the chamber. He pushed the bolt forward and locked it down. He pulled it up again and back, repeating the cocking motion until it felt smooth. He hefted it to his shoulder, looking down the ironsights. You’re going to have to use this, he repeated to himself.
He clenched his teeth, his mouth a hard line. One hand found its way to his face, covering his eyes. He rubbed his eyebrows back and forth, rhythmically.
“Rob?” Taylor called inside.
“Yeah,” He called back, standing upright and taking a deep breath.
“Are you okay?”
He nodded to himself. “Yeah. I’m fine.”
“Did you find anything?”
“We need to look around for some ammo. See if there’s any food, too.”
Taylor appeared from around the corner into the den. The pistol he left in the living room was in her hand. She followed his eyes to it, holding it up in the air sheepishly.
“We’ll probably need this, if we can find more bullets for it,” she said calmly. She looked at the rifle in his hands. “Does that work?”
Rob nodded. “Yeah, I think so.”
“Hey, are you okay?” She repeated in an even, relaxed tone that calmed him. “You can talk to me.”
“I’m good, Sis…” He hesitated, before shaking his head in disbelief. “How the hell did this happen?”
She smiled at him, a warm, familial smile. “Hey. We’re still alive.”
He flashed a smile back at her in return.
“Thank you,” she said genuinely. “For doing what you had to.”
He met her gaze. “We’ll be alright.”
She nodded toward the door. “Come on. Let’s see what else we can find.”
Rob looked down at the rifle in his hand. I have to protect her. I can’t hesitate next time. It’s either that or we’ll be the ones lying there.
His feet carried him out of the room. What about all those people that are just like us, though? Trying to survive in this fucked up version of the world?
Rob pushed a toy truck lying on the floor out of his way with his feet.
God, how did we let things come to this?

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11,315 Days.

11,315 Days.

Thirty-one.

It’s hard to believe sometimes. Happy birthday to me, 11,315 days of life. And there’s no guarantee i’ll get any more than that.

I’m grateful for all of them. For all the things that have gone wrong, my life has been pretty incredible. I’ve got a lot to be thankful for.

I think I’ll list them here.

  • The people I love. Family, friends, the great loves of my life.
  • My books. My love of storytelling, of imagination, of history.
  • My health. I feel young, stronger than I ever have before, and largely unhindered.
  • My curiosity. I’ve been gifted with a love of learning, of enjoying new things, of reveling in growth. It’s made my life a lot of fun and painless in many ways.
  • My pride. I feel proud of who I am, of the light in bring into other people’s lives just by being who I am (I know that sounds arrogant as fuck) and the pride I take in the choices I’ve made and the things I have done. Even the mistakes. Even the big ones.
  • The world. Because it’s gorgeous, endlessly interesting, tragic and beautiful all at the same time. Getting a chance to live life is so incredible.

I was thinking today about just having the chance to live, and how improbable that is. How many people, how many bloodlines died out just to the path of history? How many near misses were there where your ancestors might have died before they could conceive the next generation have their been?

Just our very existence here is a marvel of probability, an incredible gift, a confluence of chance and love.

I don’t plan on wasting it.

Have a good one, everyone. I know I will. Happy birthday to me.

-Evan P.

 

 

SHORT STORY: Unchosen

SHORT STORY: Unchosen

Sometimes you just need to try something different.

So thanks to my close friend and writing partner Eastin (@EastinDeverna), I have a short story I’d like to share with you. I was talking to him about what I want to do after having finished American Rebirth and he recommended just kinda splashing around for a bit to get my mind going before I jump into my next project.

He gave me a very random writing prompt, and I ran with it. I won’t tell you what it was until after, but here are the fruits of that labor…

As always, let me know what you think and direct any inquiries to EvanPickering@EvanPickeringAuthor.com

I hope you enjoy it!


Unchosen

The Address is 282 Whitworth Apt 12A. Look forward to seeing you!

I’m here

She wiped the screen of her phone with her thumb. The chat bubbles slid to one side before being tugged back to their original position. Brittany took a deep breath of winter air through her nose that bit at her lungs in an oddly refreshing way before exhaling slowly. For a brief moment, she felt relaxed. She wanted to repeat the process to fight off the nerves, but it would draw lingering gazes from anyone who was watching.

She looked up at the crumbling steps leading up to the pale-colored door, with a faded golden-bronze two-eight-two embossed above it. The great apartment building had seen better days, looking sooty and weatherbeaten past the point of being charming. She checked the address again on her phone and the building, looking at the street sign at the nearby intersection. This place couldn’t be right.

She had reception. But the text was unanswered. She looked around, back up the street to where she had parked, then back to the door. No one glanced her way, brushing past her wordlessly, concerned with their own concerns. Her feet moved one step at a time up the stairs, her hand pushing the door open without thought.

A blossom of air buffeted her as she stepped inside, warm and welcoming, smelling of fresh lavender. Her eyebrow twitched and she stopped, as if she had missed something. Regardless of the austere color scheme that conflicted with her naturally Victorian color palette, the lobby was beautiful in an unflinchingly modern way. The kind of fresh-looking Manhattan apartment building that screamed of vast social success. A perfect place for a single woman who had blossomed in her career, who felt uncompelled to settle down with whichever person seemed amicable. Brittany’s thumb rubbed the base of her ring finger, trying to spin something only to find a pale groove. She looked backwards out the door to make sure she walked into the right place.

The place felt even more impressive and exclusive, like the wealth of those inside was meant to be hidden rather than flaunted to any who looked upon the place from the outside. She held her hands together, drawing her shoulders in. Twenty years. Twenty years and she had so little to show for it. And Fiona lived in a place like this?

The doorman at the desk in the lobby was smiling at her. He hadn’t stopped smiling at her since she came in, and his face looked like it was tiring. She hustled forward, her heels clicking on the smoothly polished stone floor.

He said nothing, but kept smiling at her as she approached, his bushy mustache rough-looking and his black skin smooth and unblemished.

“Brittany Heath. Here to see Fiona Valenti?” the words squeaked out, and she grinned too hard to look comfortable or casual.

He nodded, his smile replaced with a calm expression. “You’re expected. Elevators are to the left.”

She clicked at the satisfying rose-gold colored elevator call a few too many times. This place made It hard not to consider the life choices that led her to be where she was—alone, middle-aged, searching for a new start while scared that the opportunity had long passed. Years of working tirelessly at both job and partner only to come up empty. Time was not friendly. Thoughts were not kind to the future, and bitterly disappointed in the past. Devoted to oneself in all the wrong ways.

As she stepped out of the elevator to the top floor, the hallway was curiously dark aside from the glow of sunlight far at the end of the hall. Her feet carried her away from her thoughts, but the beautiful doorway that approached brought another deadly wave. Fear of the unknown. So much time had passed.

Her phone buzzed before she could knock. She looked down at it.

Come in, the door is unlocked! Sorry about the paint.

Brittany looked at the door in the muted light of the hallway. There was nowhere to go now. Face the pain of seeing the glamorous life unchosen. Nothing left to go back to. The curiosity drove her forward. What was Fiona like now? What kind of life did she lead?

She pulled the doorhandle, the door swinging open. Her hand was wet as she pulled it away. Sorry about the paint, she said. Guess it was far from dry.

“Hi!?” Brittany said nervously, stepping inside the grandiose apartment. It looked much like the way she imagined. Spotless, meticulously designed, modern-chic but elegant. Even the doormat looked expensive.

“Fiona? I’m here!” She moved ahead through the living room, slower and slower the further she got. Maybe she was in the bathroom. Bad timing. This was already awkward.

Her feet froze as she entered the dining room. Her heart lurched, her throat trying to swallow something that wasn’t there.  No matter what impulse she asked of her body, she only stood and stared. Four men sitting in chairs around the table all lay dead. Handsome, fit, dressed in expensive suits. All dead. One stabbed. One shot in the head. One throat cut. One suffocated.

She closed her hands, only to feel the wetness again. Her eyes wide, she stared down at her hands. It wasn’t paint. She knew before she saw. Sirens started to echo outside the tall wall of windows that faced the outside world. Her phone buzzed. It shook uncontrollably in her hand as she stared down to read it, smudged with blood.

J train. Uptown, 6:13 end of the line. Take the stairs, exit through the staff kitchen. You wanted a new life. Now you don’t have any other choice.

 


 

That’s it! I hope you all enjoyed. And if it seems raw, it’s because I wrote it in about 2 hours, so it’s a little rough around the edges. The prompt Eastin gave me was this:

A woman enters a room at the top of a building at the behest of an old and trusted friend she hasn’t seen in years. The building is shiny and new on the inside, but old and decrepit on the outside. When she enters the room she was supposed to meet her at, she finds her friend isn’t there, but there are four men sitting in four chairs, all dead, with different wounds. She looks down and notices blood on her hands from the doorknob…

All in all, it was super fun. It’s nice to have some freedom to derp around now that American Rebirth is done. But I can’t wait to get started on my next project.

-Evan

 

Final Book 3 Update!

Final Book 3 Update!

So as you all may know, I finished the draft of American Rebirth, edited it once, and gave it to my Beta readers. So here’s the news:

The Bad: I just got back the book from my Beta readers, and I do need to make some changes. A bit more than I expected, maybe.

The Good: All things considered, it’s mostly tweaks and alterations, only one chapter needs to be overhauled, as far as I can tell.

The VERY Good: I have this week and next week off for Easter break. So I’m going to ballistic editing this thing. I have no doubt I can have it finished by then. I’m goin’ into grindmode, muddertruckers. Furthermore, I am really, really excited about the changes I’m making. I am very happy overall with the quality of the draft and how much my Betas enjoyed it, and I think after these edits it’s gonna be BALLIN OUTTA CONTROL.

Or at least, that’s the plan.

TL;DR The book is nearly done, I should have it completed by the end of the first week in April.

Next time you hear from me, the book should be out.

GET HYPED!!!

-Evan

 

 

It’s Coming…It’s Almost Here…

It’s Coming…It’s Almost Here…

GET HYPED.

americanrebirth_1

The cover for Book 3 is hot off the presses, thanks to Jeff Brown Graphics. Jeff was awesome to work with for these new covers for the books, and I absolutely love they way the cover for American Rebirth came out.

PROGRESS UPDATE:

In the category of great news, I’m very near completing the first draft. I’m at about 75,000 words. The book should probably be a little north of 80,000 when it’s done.

Once it’s done, I’ll get to work editing, run it by my beta readers, and it’ll be on the [virtual] shelves.

I’m so freakin’ excited. I’m ready for it to be out there. It’s been a long time coming.

Unfortunately I was stricken with the flu a few weeks ago so it slowed down my progress, but I’m rolling now. I want to see if I can finish the draft by the weekend, which would make me a very happy panda. Even if it’s not totally done, the progress I’ve made this week filled me with joy.

COMING SOON:

I’m taking part in a post-apoc giveaway promo in a few days, and I may be releasing American Rebirth for pre-order a few weeks in advance. I have yet to decide if that’s strategically the best option for me but I’ll let you know. Ah the glamorous life of Self-pub. Really, though, I love it.

Enjoy your weekend y’all!

-Evan P.

New Cover Reveal for BOOK 2!

New Cover Reveal for BOOK 2!

As promised…

legends3

I’m really excited about this one.

I’ve been working with Jeff Brown with creating new covers for the series. And while it is bittersweet changing the old covers, I’m pretty excited with how the new ones look.

This second one, in particular, is quite gorgeous and does a sick job capturing the scene from the beginning of Book 2. And in general it’s just a gorgeous-looking work of art.

So yeah, I’m pretty psyched. The level of detail and how beautiful the scenery is really just blows me away. I think it also conveys the mood and tone of the book and the series really well.

Now it’s on to book three. All I have to do now is finish it!

Regarding Book 3…

I had hoped to have it released by the end of Summer. Clearly that hasn’t happened. Various circumstances in my life has slowed the writing process considerably for me. I still am determined to get it out as soon as possible, but more importantly…

I want to make sure the book is as good as it possibly can be. This book is tremendously important to the overall story arc of the series, and I don’t want to rush it. I thought I was going to have all Summer free like last year when I produced Book 2, but it didn’t work out that way.

So, I am still writing, I’m happy with how it’s coming out, so that’s really the most important part. But it still is going to take some time until it’s completed.

Feel free to leave thoughts and comments below!

-Evan Pickering

Brand New Cover for HOOD!

Brand New Cover for HOOD!

After some time deliberating and hand-wringing about how much I love my homemade covers, I finally decided to invest in some professionally made covers.

Because it’s about time. While I am proud of my covers, for what they were, and as a creative maniac I love being able to design them myself–but reality is given how well my series has done, I’m doing them and myself a disservice by not having professionally made covers.

So, I contacted Jeff Brown, who designs covers and graphics, and started working with him on a design. After he dealt with me asking for a thousand different things, we have reached a finished product:

 

hood_final

So what do you guys think? How does it stack up to the old cover? I haven’t put it up yet, since I’m deliberating on whether I should wait for the cover for LEGENDS to be done as well so I can change them both at once, or just do it piecemeal.

Part of me just wants to put it up now, because I’m excited about it. But I know for branding purposes it’s probably better to wait.

I hate waiting.

Anyway, I’m excited about the art. Feel free to share your thoughts with me!

-Evan