REBLOG, Brilliant Article: You Are Enough

Absolutely Brilliant article. I couldn’t Agree More:

What if the next time we sat down to write, we didn’t worry about being interesting, we didn’t worry about being liked, and we didn’t worry about being reblogged?

“Anything that gets your blood pumping is probably worth doing.”
Hunter S. Thompson

The most frequent question I field from bloggers is, “How do I get more people to read my blog?” I suspect they want the answer to be something SEO-related, and I hate to disappoint, but my answer is almost always, “Pick a topic you want to talk about. Choose subjects that you can’t wait to write about, whether a million people will read your blog, or just your best friend.”

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”
Albert Schweitzer

What if there were no pressure to be interesting, or wild, or unique, or marketable? What if the main ingredient in the recipe for a great blog post is simply the exuberance to share yourself? I bet we could excite readers just as much by writing about finding a killer sale at Marshalls, as we could about winning the latest season of Project Runway.

There is such a divide between a story that needs to be told, and a story that reads as if it were written out of obligation. The writers that I admire the most are those who can write about any topic, and draw me in with their exuberance. A writer’s moxie makes any story magnetic.

Source: Click Here to Read the Full Article

The Single Greatest Strength Of Any Writer

The Single Greatest Strength Of Any Writer

There are so, so many different faculties that are necessary for writing.

Creativity and world building, being an observer of the world around you, having patience, free expression without self-doubt. . . Then there’s the more pragmatic side, writing good sentences, building scene and sequel, character development, plot arc, creating dialogue, balancing the rhythm of your work. I could go on.

All of these things are crazily important. Every writer is different, in that some of these skills come easier or more naturally, and others take time to develop. Sometimes we must adjust our very perspective to be better writers.

But one faculty rules them all, like Sauron and the one ring.

A willingness to be wrong. And with that, the thirst for growth.


There is nothing more definitive on whether a writer will be successful than this. If you write a story, are so confident in it, flat out refusing to believe it could need moderate to serious rewriting, you just have no hope. None. Even great authors have to hack apart their work, get their hands bloody.

All the cliches about first drafts being shit aren’t just lip service. You need to write. And rewrite. And rewrite. And rewrite. And edit. And edit. And edit.

If you can’t enjoy that, if you can’t get excited about that process of improving your writing and your writing skills, than the process of creating a good to great story is going to be exhausting, emotionally paralyzing.

I’d like to think I’m a decent writer naturally. What I know I am exceptional at, is learning. I get so excited I can barely contain myself when my editor comes back at me with my work with a boatload of changes, with new ideas and ways to adapt the work. When I originally wrote HOOD, Book One of the American Rebirth Series, I sent it to my wonderful, brilliant editor, who very nicely helped me realize there were a some strengths to the book, but huge, huge weaknesses. Ones that would take massive rewriting. With a deft touch, she helped me realize the book simply wasn’t good enough as is.

Hood Cover 7

My book was 280ish pages to start. I cut 180 after I took a day of self-loathing to truly digest what my editor told me, and rewrote the story. It finished with around 240.

Once that I realized I’d taken two years to write a book and needed to butcher block 2/3s of it, I wanted to die. But once I realized the potential of my story, how much better it could be, I couldn’t contain myself. It only took me around 2-3 months to rewrite the whole thing, after it had taken me 2 years to write it in the first place. And I could see how much better it was.

Now, I’m waiting on my editor’s feedback for a final round of editing. I’m so excited to see what she has to say I am literally counting the days. And I’m so, so glad I feel that way. Because it would suck if I hated this process, knowing how important it is.

The beauty of it is, the next book I write, it will be easier and require less re-work because I’ve learned what not to do, I’ve learned what my weaknesses are when I write, and now I understand what it takes to overcome them.

If you talk to any established author, they’ll tell you this: a microscopic few writers just write brilliantly, naturally.

The vast majority of great authors started off writing sucky, flawed writing, but loved doing it. And they learned (even if they didn’t love it) how to improve their writing, put their ego aside and really soak in what they could learn from editors and other writers. That’s how most of them become great. Experience and willingness to be wrong, and learn.


I’m so, so SO glad that willingness to be wrong and learn from it came easy to me. That it was something I liked. Because it is everything in the world of writing. I won’t sit here and claim my story is great. That is for the readers to decide. I’m just glad that if it doesn’t live up to what I think it could be, I have the right approach. Break it down. Learn from it. Come back stronger the next time.

-Evan Pickering

Book Cover Art: Don’t Get Too Excited Now

Book Cover Art: Don’t Get Too Excited Now

While I’ve been waiting for my editor to get back with my latest draft, I’ve been slaying myself over cover art.

Trying (unsuccessfully) to get an illustrator, looking for digital professionals, digging around any and all online resources on the matter. . .

It was driving me god damned crazy.

Some artist charge insane amounts for cover illustration. Other cover art deals want to hook you on marketing deals with the cover art. And all the while you just hope you can get a cover that really feels like it speaks to your story.

Not easy to do. Of all the things I went though, of all the research I did, this was the best advice I found.

I had found some art online I thought was perfect. Specifically, this:

6578632965eec6a4cfb9cf0a80dfc40cArtwork: Darek Zabrocki

But I couldn’t get in contact with the artist, and assuredly even if I did the price of cover illustration would probably be steep.

I couldn’t get anything similar that encapsulated my story more. . . Rough survival in the wooded countryside of post-apocalyptic eastern seaboard, USA. Emblemized by a Hooded man, rifle in hands, waiting to fire.

Really, this image is perfect for my story. But alas, there was little I could do. Trying to replicate something similar was not working.

I wanted to puke trying to get this done. Finally, in my frustration I just decided to jump on some free online cover editing software, namely Canva. After a few hours of tinkering around with photos, I started to realize I could really create a cover I could be proud of for my book. All on my own. I won’t bore you with the grind of trying to key in on toning and positioning, font type and coloration. But this is what I came up with. And considering I’ve never done this before, I’m pretty happy with it:

Hood Cover 7Ta-daa.

All things considered, I think it looks pretty dang good. What say you, unwashed masses and followers alike?

Really, tell me what you think. I’d love to hear it. After all, as of now this is going to be the face of my book when I publish it in about a month (god willing)

-Evan Pickering

I Know Why You Love Post-Apocalyptic Stories

I Know Why You Love Post-Apocalyptic Stories

apocalypse-01

There’s a purer, better world out there buried among the mess of our civilization, Isn’t there?

At some level, unless you are extremely fatalist or pessimistic, we all believe that.

We all constantly are thinking about the future, whether it be our personal future, or for the world, whether it be ten minutes from now or ten years down the road. It is a part of instincts, it is part of being alive.

So why then, is Post-Apocalytpic fiction an unstoppable juggernaut of a genre that has shown no signs of slowing down?

Because on some primal level, it is a future many of us (stupidly) fantasize about. A future where all the troubles and complications of life have melted away. A future where the only things that matter is who do I love, how do I protect them, and how do I stay alive? We ignore the fact that it would be a terrible life, one where death and loss are everywhere. We romanticize it, the way we do with everything, really.

My generation, Millennials, probably have taken to this genre so hard because our lives have been bogged down with the image of a misery-sodden future. The Government’s ineptitude and blatant corruption infuriates us. The global economy has disintegrated around us as we came of age, and we are the ones whose future was placed on the altar in payment, all the while the generations before us (or at least the ones in media and power) berate us as entitled and self-absorbed.

There’s a reason why Obama was elected, and why Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have received so much support (not to make this discussion political). It’s because most people want change. Sweeping, all-encompassing change. We don’t want to be the victims of our world.

That’s what post-apoc embodies. The world wants to make you the victim of its tragedy. In survival fiction, the heroes fight their hearts out to survive, to protect strangers and loved ones and anyone worth saving.

Post-Apocalyptic fiction is never about the end of the world. It’s about the beginning.

That’s what we love. We want a different world, a better world, a world deserving of the good people in it. And we love stories where people fight like hell with every breath they have to make it real. So for all you writers, readers, survivors of your own lives, keep fighting for the future.

Hopefully, if I’ve done my job right, my upcoming book Hood, Book 1 of the American Rebirth Series will be a worthy addition to the Pantheon of great Post-Apoc fiction. Rest assured, I’ll let you know when it comes out. xD

Evan Pickering

The Single Most Important Thing For Publishing Your Own Book

The Single Most Important Thing For Publishing Your Own Book

We all know that a lot goes into writing your own book. For those who want and choose to do such a thing, it feels about as strenuous and painstaking as childbirth (oh god please don’t hit me ladies).

I say to anyone who I talk to about this, write a book you’ll love, and write it so you’ll love it even if no one else ever reads it. At the end of the day, that’s what will give you satisfaction. But reality is, we want people to read it. We don’t live in the world alone, and we want to share our creation with others.

So then, we want to undergo the journey of [self] publishing.

For any new author (and lets face it, even an established author) who wants to publish and have success doing it, you need one thing:

A GOOD PROFESSIONAL EDITOR.

There you have it, folks. Believe me, you have no idea what you’re doing wrong until you have someone help you. We all think we’re better writers than we actually are. We think (at first) people will love our stories as much as we do. Reality is, you have accept and learn from every single mistake and hiccup you make to become a better writer, and you have to hook, lure, entrap every reader with your words, your story, your characters (for fiction writers, anyway).

It is really, really, really hard to do all that on your own. If you can’t afford a professional editor, then at the very least, find a trusted person to honestly read and review your book to you who won’t pull any punches. But fair warning, they can never help you learn like a good professional editor can.

Trick is, finding a great professional editor. I was lucky enough to get one through my mother, who is a published author.

Thank god for her.

That is all,

Evan Pickering

I Love Thrillerfest, and It Loves Me? One Valuable Lesson about Agents.

A few days late, life has been crazy. But as per usual, attending ITW’s Thrillerfest this year was nothing short of amazing.

Everyone is so nice and helpful, It’s awesome how supportive the writing community is of other writers, especially authors trying to break into the field.

So as I mentioned, I attended Pitchfest this year for the first time. With F. Paul Wilson‘s help turning my pitch into something people would actually want to hear, I threw myself at the speed dating bonanza that is the search for an agent. The awesome news, 7 agents were interested in my story and wanted to read some or all of it! Now I sit and hope the love the story as much as they love the pitch, hahaha.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep editing, and take the lessons I learned to heart. There’s one that kept resounding out like a bell amongst the din:

Don’t settle for an agent. An agent is like a relationship, the two of you have to be on the same page, so to speak. The right agent for you should love your story like you do, and shouldn’t be asking you to change it in such a way that alters the story the way you want it to be told. (Within reason)

It’s pretty reassuring to hear. While asking questions at the conference, I keep hearing people say “no one knows what the market is going to do, so just write what you love and if it’s good enough it will be successful.”

It’s true though. One minute everyone loves vampires, then zombies, then steampunk, yadda yadda yadda, everything changes so fast don’t bother trying to write for the market.

Also, I’m realizing how viable Self-Publishing is lately. It was awesome to learn about it, because it gave you the feeling if you learned how to market well (and had a good story, obviously) you could find your own success even if you didn’t get picked up. I’ll get more into that another time, though.

-Evan Pickering

Excerpt from my new book: Hood

After two years worth of writing, Months worth of editing and hack-sawing more than half of the book and then rewriting the whole dang thing again, I’m happy to present a snippit from my new book: Hood, Book One of the American Rebirth Series.
As any writer will tell you, even a finished book still feels like it needs editing. So I’m going to forego my endless need to tweak and just toss it up. Here goes:

With a click light filled the room, so bright Hood had to turn his face and jam his eyes shut.
“You’re getting full of yourself,” came the hoarse voice of the old sheriff.
The idea that the sheriff had Hood’s life in his hands was a dark seed in his mind. He needed to buy some time, find out why he was here, why he was still alive.
“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Hood answered at length. The yellow floodlight nailed to the wall still shined in his eyes, but he adjusted enough to be able to see that they were in an portable arch-shaped metal warehouse.
“Of course I’m right.” the old man said, pacing in front of him. “Sneaking through my land, stealing from me and thinking you’d just run back home unmolested. You and your self-righteousness. I swear, I can smell your naiveté on the wind.”
Hood licked his lips and kept silent. The old man leaned in close to Hood. His breath smelled like old cigarettes. His bald, middle aged face was worn and weary around blue eyes. It was a look of disappointment, the look of a vulture flying over picked bones. His search was over.
“You know what it is that did you in,” the sheriff said with a smile and focused eyes. “It’s pride. The same pride that god saw in us when he smote us down.”
Hood smirked, his head leaned forward with his brow keeping the light out of his eyes.
“Granted, I’ve never read the good book cover to cover, but I’m pretty sure you don’t qualify as the godly type.”

The sheriff swung his pistol at Hood’s face. The handle connected with his eyebrow, his head snapping back from the blow. The pain seared, his head feeling numb. The worn barrel of the sheriff’s pistol hovered in front of Hood’s right eye. Inside the barrel was darkness.

A tight frown quivered on The sheriff’s face. “You don’t talk to me about godliness. You’re just a mongrel slinking around this hell on earth.”
Hood breathed in slowly, closing his eyes. Despite being provoked the Sheriff still hadn’t shot him. Gotta keep him talking.

To Rebuild, First We Must Tear It All Down.

ErnestHemingway

 

The first draft of anything is shit.

-Ernest Hemingway

There’s a word that seems to conjure up an image of a lone wanderer, aimlessly trudging through the dusty plains, constantly changing directions under a bleary sun and yet still not seeming to get anywhere.

That word: Editing.

After each subsequent edit, I think: “yeah, alright. I think it’s where it needs to be. This is good!” After some feedback, then it becomes painfully clear: WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG!

That’s okay. I have one thing to say to myself, and all other writers going through the grueling process of editing:

Don’t be so goddamn hard on yourself.

Seriously, this is the nature of writing. Hemingway said it best (read above.) It’s okay to write something that isn’t good, or needs fixing. Just learn from it, change it, make it better. The beauty of writing is you can edit and change the content as much as you need. You can cut and hone it from being a car leaf spring into a sharpened survival knife.

Truthfully, the ability to know where you can improve, and accept that you need to improve are some of the most important facets of success. Don’t let yourself down; don’t let your story down.

  • Get readers who will give you feedback. Honest, harsh feedback. You’ll need it.
  • Be willing to overhaul parts of your story if it’s clear it is needed. Don’t get married to your ‘plan.’
  • Don’t try to do it all at once. Figure out what you need to change, and tackle one issue at a time.

Good luck, wasteland wanderers.