Entertaining (and Short) Heather Graham Interview!

Entertaining (and Short) Heather Graham Interview!

Good friend of mine and author-superstar Heather Graham just did a HuffPost interview about herself as a writer and her new book. It’s quite entertaining. She’s also a ridiculously talented and successful author for y’all who don’t know her!

Heather Graham Huffington Post Interview.

 

Some quick hitters:

  • She’s published over 150 (WHAT?) books.
  • She wrote her first novel on a typewriter that didn’t have an “E” key. I would’ve thrown up.
  • Her choice of 5 people alive or dead for a dinner party is…unconventional lol.

Alright, have a good weekend everyone!

-Evan Pickering

 

The Search for More…

The Search for More…

There’s something inherently human about wanting more, about always looking towards the next goal.

It might just be wired into how we think. It’s the reason why billionaires still want more money, and why many famous people still feel unsatisfied enough to have breakdowns despite what others might see as “achieving success.”

So last week I just got my first Bookbub for HOOD on May 11th. For those of you who don’t know, Bookbub is like the Starship Enterprise of book promotions–and the next closest promotion might be a Hyundai Sonata in comparison.

In short, it’s a very big deal for authors, they’re very hard to get, and it’s been one of the top goals of mine since I launched the book.

When I booked it, I was doing all kinds of shouting and fistpumping and bouncing off the walls of my apartment.

And yet, something funny happens. And it happens to us all.

Mere days later I was looking ahead to what the next steps were. I got the Bookbub I so lustily desired, and now I was booking other promos. I was thinking ahead to when I can have Book 3 done, and maybe having some new covers made, etc.

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The point is, we always chase the next thing ahead of us. Even in the face of great success. Make no mistake, booking this Promo was a huge coup for me. And yet so quickly I push on to the next goal. In many ways, this is a positive thing. Stay Hungry, as they say, and drive yourself to do more and find your own greatness.

But there is a problem with this. We need to enjoy, celebrate and revel in our successes. Our wins in life must feel like wins. Because our losses certainly can feel cruel and horrible, sometimes cripplingly so, can’t they?

If we do not take time to appreciate what we have done, what we have overcome, and bask in the sunlight in the positive things we’ve created in our own lives, whatever they may be, then we are driving our one and only car ragged down the empty road of the wastelands until it breaks down.

It is good and noble to strive for more, to better ourselves, to be in search of our better selves.

But we must not strive aimlessly like an addict in the dark. When we find pieces of our better selves, we must stop to appreciate them.

Maybe–I don’t know–but maybe there’s a point where we need not strive anymore at all?

-Evan Pickering

 

 

Longview

Longview

Ah, what a classic jam. Sounds like childhood.

If you could picture yourself on the timeline of your life, and you could climb up a great tower and take a longview in all directions, what might you see?

  • Backwards, we can see the path we’ve taken here. Messy, bending, rife with good times and bad. Hopefully more bad than good. This way lies madness. A short look back might bring a smile and some warm thoughts. But the longer you look the more obsessed you become with the choices you made.

 

  • To the left and right, we see what could have been. The places and people we might have gone and met, some catastrophic, some fantastic, some wildly different then what we know now, but probably many that are just different incarnations of our own life. This is a matter of curiosity, of warnings and possibilities, but still it only serves us to consider our choices now.

 

  • Ahead, we strain to see forward, but the fog, the great fog clouds what we can see. We think we see shapes and possibilities, we make guesses as to what is and plan what paths we might take through the fog, but we cannot see clearly no matter how much we try. Still, this is the direction we must face moving forward, pushing blindly into the fog and trusting our reactions and instincts to find one of many right ways on.

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I’ve lived most of my life thinking little of the future, enjoying the present and trusting in myself. I’m blessed to be able to do this, and it is by in large a good thing. But there is a caveat. It is vital, I believe, to be proactive in the present, and to imagine the kind of future-present we hope to have. And to be unrelenting in our pursuit of whatever it is. Our imagination is a weapon used for or against ourselves, and we must use it to envision the truly good and valuable things we want and purse them.

It’s easy to imagine all the things that can go wrong, all the reasons not to do something. But through our imagination of what can be is where we can achieve all great things.

Our lives are some small percent the perception of the present moment around us, and a huge percent all the things we imagine about ourselves; the stories we tell ourselves about our past and our future and what could have been.

Your thoughts can be a weapon used for or against you. Don’t let them cut you so deep you can’t push on. Longviews can be necessary, but don’t linger there too long. There’s plenty more to be enjoyed and done right now.

 

-Evan

 

Passion.

Passion.

What makes a book great?

What makes anything great, really?

There’s a lot of different reasons, with varying degrees of validity. Books, for example, are good when the writing skill comes through in the prose, the storycrafting elements are well executed, and the content of the story is tantalizing, thought provoking, draws you in and makes you actively wonder what will happen next.

But ultimately, what really makes a book, or anything, great, is the passion you can feel in it.

 

Passion is visible, feel-able, through solid wall and open sky from miles away. And I don’t mean specifically romantic passion. Sure, it can be that too, but in this case I mean the internal passion that is not self-serving. It’s not about wanting. It’s about that which means so much that you feel compelled to share it because you don’t know what else to do.

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You can tell the difference between a well-written book and a well-written book that comes from a fire inside the writer. A book that the writer felt in his or her blood, one that screamed in his or her mind to come out, one that grips the heart of the reader in its fist–That book leaves the reader shaken in the best way, thinking about their life and what they love. And hopefully, it ignites passion in those readers.

Passion can be a limited resource. A precious gem, something that can be poured out and take shape, or can wane and be lost, formless and ethereal. It can be given, inspired, which is an act of love and beauty.

Passion is one of the greatest things in life. It’s dangerous, it can be scary, it can consume us in its immolating fire and trigger fear of loss or failure. But still, it is worth it. Passion can take so many forms, and should never be taken for granted, should be hunted and treasured and fought for.

Sometimes I’m writing a story, and I know it’s good, but something feels missing. And I have to step back, and take some time. What was it that burned inside me so much that I took the years to write this series? What was that which boiled my blood and kept me up at night, that surged adrenaline through me just at the thought of the reader taking in the words? That is what I want. That’s what I must continue to write.

That’s the way I want to keep trying to live.

Evan

Fellow Author Shoutout-Craig Martelle

Fellow Author Shoutout-Craig Martelle

Just chatted with my fellow author buddy Craig Martelle today. He started publishing books around the same time I did last year. We started chatting as fellow burgeoning authors and I could tell he was a pretty cool guy.

What I didn’t know, is that he was a writing machine.

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I published two books last year. Pretty good for my standards and writing speeds.

Craig published 20 since then. TWENTY!? I am in awe. Seriously, that is incredible. Want to make a name for yourself self publishing? This is how you do it kids. You write. and write. and write. and write. and write more.

I won’t lie. I’m jealous of that production! Congrats Craig that’s awesome. I’m my dreams I’m that prolific 😀

-Evan Pickering

 

Excerpt from BOOK 3!!!

Excerpt from BOOK 3!!!

So, I know this is probably a bit hasty, but…

I’ve decided to share that which is most vulnerable and nerve-wracking for a writer. The dreaded FIRST DRAFT!

That is to say, just a small excerpt from Chapter 1 of BOOK 3, American Rebirth.

So, needless to say, this may change before all is said and done, but by in large I’m actually pretty happy with it. Book 3 is still a ways away, if only I had more time to write it. But I must make do with what I got and write like a maniac with what time I have!

All that said, pardon me if the writing is a bit raw. Enjoy this small taste!

I hope you all are enjoying your weekend! Please let me know what you think of the excerpt if you feel so inclined.

-Evan

 


***WARNING! IF YOU HAVEN’T FINISHED BOOK 2, THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS!***


 

 

Pine Bluff Forest, Territory of the Federation of Texas, Formerly Arkansas

The soldier shoved Hood towards the campfire without warning. Hood twisted his body enough to land on his side, stirring up a cloud of dirt and ash as he thumped against the earth with a dull pain in his shoulder. The sky above him was dark, but growing bluer with the predawn light. Robin’s wrists burned from the rough rope binding them, hands tied behind his back. The campfire beside him crackled and hissed, radiating heat, the comforting smell of burning wood, cooking meat and fresh pine washing over him in the cool air.
“Jesus, was that really necessary? I’m already bound up. What the hell am I gonna do, kick you all to death?” Robin said, turning to face the soldier that shoved him.
“Get up, heretic. Use his name in vain again and I’ll gut you right here.” The man standing above him said. His voice and stature was that of someone in command. Probably a Templar of the Church of the Redemption. The light from the campfire danced on his tan, recently shaved face. He was older, with sharp, accusing eyes and a relaxed brow.
“I think if Jesus could weigh in, he’d think that’s a bit of an extreme response,” Robin said, managing to get to his feet. The man swung a hard backhand at him. Robin turned his head, but pain exploded through the whole right side of his face. He squeezed his eyes shut, working his jaw.
Okay, this guy definitely is lacking in the sense of humor category. Gotta find another way.
“So uh, why am I here?” Hood asked.
The tired-faced soldier who captured Robin handed his backpack, crossbow, knife and pistol to the officer. The officer smirked, inspecting Robin’s gear before setting it aside.
“You think I don’t know who you are, heretic?”
Robin smacked his dry lips. “Before you launch into any long, pointless sermons, you think I can have some of that beer you guys have? That was actually what I was out here looking for.”
The man looked over at the two barrels of beer they had confiscated. Pinned to his loose military jacket was a narrow metal cross in the shape of a key. A Templar. So I was right. The church is up to something serious out here. All of the soldiers around the campfire had filled their canteens with the newly acquisitioned beer, smug laughter on their faces as they taunted Hood. They wore the satisfied looks of soldiers who got the rare chance to enjoy themselves on duty for once. The Templar might be an asshole, but he’s smart enough to know happy soldiers are loyal ones. Most of these guys are a small step above mercenaries. The officer moved calmly to the casks, pouring a mug and walking back to Robin. He drank deep from the mug before pouring half of it over Robin’s head.
“Come on, what the hell?” Robin spluttered, shaking the beer of his face. “You don’t have to be a dick about it!”
“You can’t fool me with this nonsense. You’re Hood. I’ve seen your face on bounty lists for the Sons of Liberty and the Church of the Redemption alike. Murderer of kings and godly men. Your Dead Hand faction murdered King Richard of the Sons of Liberty, and still your rebellion fell apart. Now you’re reduced to nothing but a common thief. How much does it sting, knowing your war was for nothing?”
Hood smiled, the beer dripping off his face. Yeah, go ahead. Feels good tearing someone down, doesn’t it? You don’t know a damn thing, Templar. You don’t know a damn thing about what really happened. “War? That’s a fool’s cause. I’ve never wanted war. War has never changed a damn thing. At this point, I’m happy just robbing self-righteous assholes like you.”
The Templar wore a deep smile, clearly enjoying this view of Robin as a delusional has-been. You love the high ground, don’t you? Everyone who stands against you are evil men. Certainly makes life easier, doesn’t it?
“Whatever you have planned, you will not escape the Church’s justice. This land is ours. I know you came to us alone. We’ve been tracking you. We’re not going back to the Cathedral in Dallas where some of your thief friends can ambush us on the road. We’re going to wait here for our reinforcements. You’ll answer to the Cardinals for all of your crimes against the Church.”
Hood’s face remained stoic, but his breathing started to quicken. Well, shit, you guys have thought of everything haven’t you?
“My thief friends are a lot more godly than your church will ever be.”
Hood readied himself for another blow, but Vargas just stared at him. He didn’t expect Hood to say anything like that. He was searching for intent. He seemed to be analyzing Hood, wondering if he meant the words or if they were just another ploy. I mean it, holy man. You don’t see things the way they really are.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes…

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes…

So, I’ve pulled the trigger.

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After a goodly bit of deliberating, talking to my readers, some hand-wringing and objective analysis, I’ve decided to change BOOK 2 of the American Rebirth Series.

The changes are as follows:

  • New Title: LEGENDS
  • New Cover
  • Added Content: Prologue – Survivors

It wasn’t easy deciding to make these changes, but they are decidedly the right ones, in my mind.

Truth is, I’m still learning as an author/publisher. As much as I loved WHISKEY as a title and the cover, I don’t think it was doing my story due service.

Truth #2, it’s not sexy to think about, but things like Cover, Title and Blurb are just marketing tools. They are the 9mm, salted meat and purified water to the wasteland survivor that is my series. The story itself, that’s the heart of the survivor. That’s where the good stuff is.

So, my job is to make those things as effective as I can. Here’s why I made the changes I made:

  1. WHISKEY is a title I love, and a character close to my heart. But the story is about much, much more than just Whiskey. If someone who reads HOOD loves Whiskey, they’ll read book 2. If they are lukewarm or worse about him as a character, they certainly won’t buy a book that seems like it’s all about him.
  2. When thinking about the big picture in terms of the title of Book 3 and beyond, I want to have more inter-connectivity between my titles. Choosing only character names hems me in a goodly bit. It can also confuse the shit out of prospective readers who haven’t read any of them.
  3. BOOK 2 is a story that truly continues the Legends of HOOD. The cover and title then need to convey that this book truly is a spiritual successor to Book 1, and not a giant left turn that follows a different character from now on.
  4. Making thematic-color commonalities between books seems to be a pretty good way of making sure readers recognize your sequels when they see them. Hence the color change on the Cover.

So that’s it.

I really appreciate the feedback from everyone who I talked to. To those who loved WHISKEY as a title and cover, I hope what I’ve said above makes sense as to why I changed it. I really appreciate everyone’s support.

So if you have an old copy of WHISKEY, well, now you have a vintage/collector’s item. 😀 LUCKY YOU!

Happy holidays everyone,

-Evan Pickering