SHORT STORY: A Lover and A Fighter

SHORT STORY: A Lover and A Fighter

A lover and a fighter. That’s all a man is.

Our world gets destroyed all the time.

Shattered by our choices, the choices of others, or things completely out of our control.

As I drove my car down the broken, empty road, I realized the truth. As a man, I am fueled and driven by only two impulses. The need to love, to build a family, and the need to fight for something.

That one day a year ago, the love I had for so many years was gone. Shattered by so many choices and things outside our control. I thought I would be with her for the rest of my life. I knew what kind of ring she wanted. But as hard as we fought for each other it wasn’t enough. Our love had died. Like our world is now, I was broken and fighting to mend into something that resembled myself.

All I could do then was fight. Not wanton, hateful conflict, or violence for its own sake. I needed to fight for something, some cause, something meaningful. But I had nothing to fight for. I had no hobbies, no passions, I felt no fire inside me though I knew I wanted one. I had been one half of a whole, but she was gone. Now I was just alive.

Memories are your enemy.

As it would happen, the world was really destroyed not long after. It didn’t take long. I’m not exactly sure how it happened. Supposedly The oceans died and crops everywhere failed and food suddenly became a precious resource. In a few months the whole world tore itself apart in hunger. Civilization in all its majesty undone by the most primal of impulses: feed.

I had my cause to fight. It wasn’t a complicated one, but it made me feel alive. I woke up every day with purpose. I was empty no more. I fought to survive, to protect the people around me. They were good people. I only knew one of them before the end of civilization–My neighbor, Keith. He always wore the same hat both before the world ended and after. Black baseball cap with the Red Sox logo. At least he’s consistent. Pretty funny too. He’s a glue guy. Keeps smiles on the faces of everyone when we’re venturing forth under the hot sun, into unknown territory hoping to find friendly faces instead of hateful ones.

These are the kind of thoughts that make me reach for my AR-15 propped up against the driver’s side door just to feel the smooth metal body, just to know it’s there. I don’t like firing it. I don’t like that it is a part of my life. But knowing its there to keep me alive, so that I can use it to keep the others alive when necessary, that’s a feeling I can’t be without.

I had fired it too many times two days ago. We lost Angela in the fighting. Only ten feet from the truck. God, it’s the kind of thing that will drive you crazy.

I don’t know why they opened fire on us, even. Not like we have any food. Not like we wanted to fight them. Unless they wanted us for food. If so, then Angela… No, I can’t think about that. That way lies madness. Only thing we have is what’s in front of us.

But of all the things I’ve seen, there’s one thing I can’t shake. One memory that will not escape me. If it is even a memory, or some ghost of my mind. At this point, I don’t even know anymore. We were passing through this refugee town. We didn’t even stop. We’ve seen them before. Groups of starving people, no will left to fight and nowhere to go. They roam in packs and scavenge for food like old world hunter-gatherers. We drove through the crowd of people who rose to clamor at our truck, but were smart enough not to step in front. Most survivors didn’t think twice of running over someone in their way.

I looked out the driver’s side window and in the crowd I swear I saw her face. I think it was her. It looked like her. Tired, but steely eyed and surviving. At the time I thought it was just someone that looked like her. I didn’t even stop the truck. How could I? But I think… I think it was her. I think I saw the recognition in her eyes when she saw me. But she made no move. She just stared.

We drove on. We still drive on. Every day I feel the urge to turn around and go back. I want to find her. But there is no going back.

Memories are my enemy.

Lover and a fighter. That’s all I am.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

We get to live.

We get to live.

These are turbulent times for many of us. Regardless of which side of the election you’ve been on, it has been a tiring process. I’ve been thinking about life, the greater experience, what it means to be on opposite sides, whether we are ever ‘enemies’ or only just people on opposite sides of a divide.

I got to sit and talk about life, and philosophy, and existence with my lifelong friend Eastin today after class. It was something I think I sorely needed–I think we can all stand to take some time, and talk about all that is, all that could be, all that might or might not be true. There’s so much to be grateful for, there’s so much to question and to contemplate.

Let’s not forget that. Let’s not forget to put down the phones and turn off the screens and talk, not contentiously, not to ‘win’, but just talk.

It is of fundamental human importance.

Here was a thought I had today:

We get to live; express ourselves; chase dreams and love people; fight and make peace and keep searching for something in this wild world. What could possibly be more beautiful than that?

I love you all.

Evan

Anticipation.

Anticipation.

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So in case you haven’t heard my barrage of tweets and posts, here’s a giant banner to tell you Tomorrow is the release of WHISKEY.

I don’t even know how to put it into words. Like an emotion sandwich. Anticipation is a magical and terrible thing.

From a totally primal sense, it’s strange to think about the idea of knowing what’s about to happen. Not that we know exactly, but we know generally. It’s a survival tool. Millions of years of evolution.

Now we tend to use it for other things. Excitement as you count down the days until you get to see someone you love again. Dread for fear of some oncoming work. The tantalizing ghost-taste of the food your about to eat as you wait for the server to bring it to you.

In my case, I’m using it to dream up a perfect scenario where BOOK 2 is beloved by all and the series becomes huge, simultaneously while imagining a scenario where no one gives a damn and people think it’s meh and I’m back to the drawing board. Like Schroedinger’s cat, both are true at once right now.

But there aren’t two absolute outcomes.

I think I know what the most likely outcome is.

A good portion of those who read HOOD will read WHISKEY. People will largely love it and be excited for BOOK 3, and some will hate it or find it meh, but overall I will now have two books under my belt and more people will be more interested in the series since it isn’t as much as a ‘promise of future books.’ In short, I’m bettering my career.

I believe in my own writing. I believe in my ability to learn and grow. I believe that the risks I took in my stories are going to be something readers really love–Especially when they see where the story is going.

This is the story I’ve been wanting to tell for years. I take an incredible amount of pride and joy in telling it, and how much people have enjoyed it or hated it so far.

So anticipation is going to do its thing. My mind is going to wonder and wander and try to conjure up the future. But I don’t know what’s gonna happen, nobody knows what’s going to happen. That’s what is awesome about the future.

So as the hours count down, I’m going to enjoy this feeling, and just embrace whatever comes.

Have a good tomorrow peeps, now and always.

Evan Pickering

Here it comes… HOOD sale – WHISKEY release!

Here it comes… HOOD sale – WHISKEY release!

HERE IT COMES.

The gun has fired, the birds are in the air, the seeds have been planted, the dog is off the leash, the metaphor is getting the point across.

I’ve submitted WHISKEY, BOOK 2 of the American Rebirth Series in time for the scheduled Oct 27th release.

GET HYPED.

I know I am, lol. I can’t wait to get it out there, and I can’t wait to hear what people think. It’s been a long time coming (in my mind anyway). Pre-order is pretty interesting because you don’t see any of the sales until release day, so I’m sitting here all curious to see what that number is going to be like when the 27th rolls around.

ALSO…

I’ve scheduled promos for Oct 19th-Oct 26th… HOOD, BOOK 1 of the American Rebirth Series will be on sale for $0.99 for that week!

So basically, my plan is to sell a shitload of discounted books so that way when voracious readers want more, Book 2 will be there patiently waiting for them 🙂

BRILLIANT. CLEARLY NO ONE HAS EVER THOUGHT OF THIS BEFORE. I AM A GENIUS. NOBEL PRIZE, PLEASE.

If you can’t tell, I’m excited. I’ll enjoy this for about five minutes before I start stressing about finding the time to write Book 3. ❤

-Evan Pickering

180 Days of HOOD.

180 Days of HOOD.

6 months.

It’s been pretty incredible, all things considered. Without any pomp and circumstance, here are the two graphs of my first 180 days:

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The huge spike in mid-April is my one stack promo. Sales were great for a long while, they’ve tapered off a bit lately. I’m not sure if this is summer slump or if I need to get my ass in gear doing better advertising. Time will tell, I’m sure!

By The Numbers

Keep in mind, these are inexact calculations. I don’t have the energy to exactly count out the number, lol. But if they’re not exactly right, they’re quite close. If I’m wrong, I’m probably wrong on the lower side, I’d rather be short in calculation than over-estimate.

Books sold: 4,389 (approximately)

KU Pagereads: 1,800,000 (approximately)

Books sold/Day: 24.4

 

What’s Next

I’m hard at work on WHISKEY, Book 2, trying to get it out as quickly as possible. I’m more than halfway done. I know the old adage ‘the best marketing is writing the next book’ so I’m trying to take that to heart.

Frankly, the drop-off in sales I’ve had the past few days (not graphed) has got me in a panic a little bit. I’m trying not to get too crazy about it, and just accept that it’s summer and books have natural ebbs and flows.

Part of why I wanted to post this is to take a step back and appreciate what this has been, and to give me some big-picture perspective. I’m immensely proud of the book and everything that’s happened.

Also, I’m working with a voice actor right now creating the audiobook for HOOD. I’ll write more about that soon, I’m absolutely ecstatic with his work so far and I can’t wait to get it out there. It’s so cool getting to hear your story narrated.

Anyway, thanks for all the love and support along the way everyone. I really appreciate how much people have done for me to help me get where I am.

 

-Evan Pickering