The Way-Too-Early Excerpt for BOOK 2

The Way-Too-Early Excerpt for BOOK 2

Slowly, deliberately, I move forward on Whiskey, Book 2 of the American Rebirth Series.

It’s an exciting, challenging, satisfying, sometimes teeth-gnashing process. But I’m emboldened by my success with HOOD as my debut novel. Now, my heart is set on creating an original, worthy successor as a sequel. I don’t want to be one of those Indie Authors who kills it with book 1 and just craps out a sequel ASAP to try and capitalize.

I want it to be better than the first. Hard to do with sequels, sometimes.

Anyway. In the spirit of excitement, I wanted to share a short excerpt (even though this is WAY, way too early haha) from Whiskey. Enjoy: (WARNING, POSSIBLE SPOILERS IF NOT DONE WITH BOOK 1)

I Am Legend

Ruins of Manhattan, territory of the Sons of Liberty, Lionheart Kingdom of America.

The skyscrapers towered in the blue sky. Sunlight cast shadows into broken windows where scrappy green plants crept out to meet its warmth. The words written in white paint sprawling across the building were faded now:

YOUR WORLD IS A LIE
SEEK OUT THE TRUTH

Whiskey’s steps splashed gently in the inches-deep seawater that ran along the street with the tide. He breathed in the crisp, salty air mingled with dust. Some dumbass risked his life to write all that.

“What do you think, are we the on the right side or the wrong side?” Vicks said sarcastically. His long brown hair framed his sunburned hawkish nose, his long sleeve gray shirt and military cargo pants showing the wear of their long trek here.

Edgar and Taylor caught up behind them, having tied the boat off. Edgar and Vicks, the two Rangers-in-Training, had managed to not get themselves killed thus far. But they both had a long way to go. Feels a bit too much like babysittin’ these days. Being a Ranger for the Sons of Liberty for the last 15 years had suited Whiskey well. It was something he was good at. Second nature. Being the Captain of the Rangers for the last five of those years was a whole different animal. Most of what he did was train the recruits. The rest of the Rangers were self-sufficient. That’s why they were Rangers.

“The right side is whatever side you’re on,” Whiskey said.

“I know we’re on the right side. I was just messin’.”

“I know what you meant, kid. I’m trying to tell you somethin’.”

“Everyone’s fighting for the right side in their own mind. Remember that when you look down the sight and see someone you call an enemy.” Taylor said, echoing Whiskey’s sentiment.

“So what, you don’t want me to shoot the Dead Hand when I see them? Or the Southland Confederates? They’ll kill us. We have to defend ourselves.” Vicks shook his head.

Whiskey sighed, his eyes finding Taylor. Her green eyes met his, her face as beautiful and calm as the day he met her and Hood at that abandoned gas station so many years ago. “Why do they always give us the kids?”

She smiled. “Because they come back as Rangers.”

Vicks stepped towards them. “I want to know what you’re sayin’. I won’t lie, I’m scared to shoot someone. But I know if I see one of the factions out there coming at me, I’m pullin’ the trigger. I know it.”

Whiskey clapped Vicks on the shoulder. “I know, kid. I’m not saying you can’t defend yourself. I’m not saying you can’t shoot ’em. But you live long enough, you’ll realize people you once called your enemies might one day be your closest friends.”
Livin’ proof. Fighting for the Sons for fifteen years. Are we the right side? Hell, I don’t know. The only side I fought for was safety, protection. For all the Sons shortcomings, this is a free land, and it beats the hell out of sleeping with a pistol in hand in the wastelands.

“What do you think, kid?” Whiskey said to Edgar.
He was a quiet kid, even by Whiskey’s standards. But he had perceptive eyes that seemed to take in everything, and he seemed to always be listening. Whiskey knew he was a sharp kid, even before he had said two words to him on the first day of training. Some people you can tell just by the way they take in the world around them. His cornrows wound neatly down the back of his head, and his dark-skinned angular face had a relaxed look to it.

“I don’t know,” Edgar offered simply.

“Gonna have to dig deeper than that.”

Edgar deliberated, looking down the empty road. A seagull cawed nearby. The sound always sent Whiskey back to those golden vacation days as a young man on the Southern Atlantic coast. Italian ices and sand-worn feet. Not even the same world.
“I don’t think people will ever stop fighting.”

Whiskey nodded slowly. “Yeah, I think I agree with you kid.”

“Bullshit. That’s not an answer. You didn’t even answer the question!” Vicks shouted at Edgar, throwing a glove at him.

Edgar swatted it down into the water, sporting a rare smile. The glove floated gently on the surface, absorbing seawater. “Too bad. Captain liked it.”

“Get off it, stop suckin’ his ass!” Vicks kicked water at Edgar who turned his head, laughing.

Whiskey smiled. He moved slow down the street, crossbow in hand. Captain. Still not even sure how it ended up like this. The city lay empty, the algae covered sidewalks and hollowed buildings baking in the sun. The tide was going out, so the water would be coming down off the streets soon. Peaceful enough. It’s a good life, teaching these kids. I like these two. Remind me of the old days. Minos swam around his feet in the shallow water. And yet I can’t shake this feelin’, like there’s something else. Whiskey took a deep breath. That’s just it. Can’t change the way you’re wired.

“You two have to be the loudest fuckin’ Rangers alive. You done goofing off yet?” Taylor called back at them, following behind Whiskey.

Edgar resolved himself. “Yes ma’am.”

“Yes ma’am,” Vicks echoed, giving Edgar the finger.

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My One and Only Review: The Last Of Us

My One and Only Review: The Last Of Us

I’ve been trying to pinpoint what it is about The Last of Us that makes it groundbreaking work of gaming and storytelling both.

To answer it, I have to ask a question:

Why do we all need stories and storytelling? It’s nearly as fundamental a human need as eating and sleeping and love. Remove all stories from your life (be it a loved one telling you about their day or a great epic of history) and the silence that follows it will be deafening. Maddening. Unbearable.

Because without stories we are alone. Without them we live one solitary life, confined to our own heads.

Perhaps this seems like a long and unnecessary aside for a video game review. It’s not.

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The reason why The Last of Us shakes the earth underneath your feet after you’ve played it, is for the same reason all great stories change us. Through it, we live out another life. A breathing, pulsing life.

The life of The Last of Us is real. It occupies time and space. If not in your reality than in your mind and in your heart. It carries with it a great weight of the everyday life of a select few people in the shattered remnants of the world, of bad jokes and angry fights and heartfelt bonds and awkward silences.

It is not overt; it does not scream in the face of the player/viewer and dazzle with shock and flash. The great beauty of this game is that you walk with Joel and Ellie and everyone else who passes through their life, in spectacular yet tragic landscapes, in peaceful normalcy and under great duress. It might be a walk through beautiful woods and other times it is a bleak, wet subway tunnel infested with ‘zombies’ crawling in the dark. Gun in hand, you tread softly ahead with four bullets and a brick, a fatherly off-hand protectively extended to Ellie. All you think as a player is “How am I going to make it through this?”

You want to survive because you cannot bear watching these characters you love come to harm, and you desperately want to claw your way out the other side into daylight to see them reach their destiny, whatever it may be.

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You see yourself in everyone. There are no heroes and villains. There are only people, and they are flawed and real and keenly relatable. Every single one of them.

On top of it all, the gameplay has been perfected to align perfectly with the mood, the feel of the game. It’s survivalist, it’s desperate and raw and very, very real. You can’t superman through the fights, running around taking bullets and gunning people down 1v20. You have to survive. You have to be tactical, quiet, deliberate, patient. Or you die. Sometimes all you can do is run.

The gameplay is the story. The story is the gameplay. Not many video games can achieve that. The only thing I could say is that the story is so incredibly good, you might find yourself longing to complete the gameplay just to find out what happens. MIGHT. But honestly, you LOVE the fact that you have to fight your way through their journey. The satisfaction of surviving in this game is very, very real. (I recommend any gamer worth their salt playing the game on Hard or Survivor for the first playthrough. You just have to. Trust me. The gameplay is too forgiving and takes away from the fictive dream a bit if you play normal or easy.)

I’ve played through the game around seven times. And I NEVER replay games that much. I just love the story, the world, the feel of the game so much I find myself drawn to it and thinking about it on an everyday basis.

I also won’t talk about a potential spoiler things that happen in the game, but suffice it to say through playing the game and living alongside the characters, It has permanently changed the way I look at my own life.

That’s the best thing I could say about any game, any movie, any book, any story. Period.

Do yourself a favor. Play TLOU. You’ll never regret it–that’s a promise.

-Evan

My novel, HOOD on Amazon Kindle