New Cover Reveal for BOOK 2!

New Cover Reveal for BOOK 2!

As promised…

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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

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The 3 Most Important Writer’s Weapons.

The 3 Most Important Writer’s Weapons.

To be a good writer you have to first, well, be good at writing.

Obviously. Because if it’s shit, it doesn’t matter how you dress it up.

So of course, the writing itself is the most important thing to any author.

But just because that is true, doesn’t mean there are other things that are very nearly as important if you hope to have any kind of success. They are three main things that fall into that category:

Title, Cover, and Blurb.

So you wrote a book. Maybe a good book. There’s only one question now:

Who gives a shit?

The biggest failing of writers, especially new writers, is feeling that your accomplishment of your book stands for itself and requires no special attention. You did something incredible–you did, in fact–you wrote a book. But readers, they don’t give a shit. Thousands of new books are being made all the time.

So the question then isn’t who gives a shit? But rather, how do I make them give a shit?

The answer is stated above. You choose an outstanding Title,  Cover and Blurb.

  • Your title should do one thing: tell them exactly what kind of story it is. And make them curious about it. Okay, two things. It does not help to have a literary-ass title that tells the reader nothing about the book. I don’t care if the title is somehow relevant to your story, Moonlight Parade is a god awful title for a thriller novel. Sudden Departure might be a great one for a thriller, though.
  • Your cover should convey genre, should evoke some feelings or again, curiosity, and it should be clean and professional looking. Do NOT underestimate the power of images. We are an image driven race. A good cover is priceless. A bad cover can absolutely sink you.
  • Your blurb should show some idea of who the hero is, what the conflict is, and what’s at stake. This is not a plot summary. This is not a foray into theme and mood. This should pique the readers interest, and you do that by showing them WHO your characters are and what they’re up against.

 

If you have those three things done well, and if you have yourself a good book when they crack the [virtual] spine and look inside, you’ve got a chance to do really well.

If you don’t have those things, well, then you’re fighting a mighty uphill battle my friend.

-Evan

 

 

Book 2, LEGENDS On Sale for 0.99!

Book 2, LEGENDS On Sale for 0.99!

Happy fourth of July Weekend all!

The title says it all, really. From now until NOON Monday the eBook of LEGENDS will be on sale for 0.99! (also you can click the picture of it on the left for a link to Amazon.)

Then, the price increases to 1.99 for a few days. Then 2.99. Then it goes back to normal.

So get on it now while it’s cheap! Tell your friends they can get both HOOD and LEGENDS right now for only 3.99!

I mean, my god. That’s so little money it makes me angry. BUT sharing my books with people makes me le happy so I’ll be aight.

BOOK 3 Update: I’m about 27,000 words into American Rebirth. I absolutely love how it’s coming out, though it’s taking a bit longer than I’d have liked. Still shooting to get it out by the end of Summer!

Much love,

-Evan

 

BOOK 3 Excerpt #2!!

BOOK 3 Excerpt #2!!

It is time.

Time for a follow up from my first excerpt of Chapter 1 of Book 3, American Rebirth.

I know many of you are waiting patiently for Book 3 to come out. Rest assured I am hard at work. Hopefully by end of Summer it will be complete, I’m trying to write my ass off over here.

For those who are looking for the first installment, Book 3 Excerpt #1!  is the link to start from the beginning. Again, bear with me, this is still a first draft.

I hope you guys enjoy it, let me know what you think. This picks up where the first excerpt left off.

-Evan

 


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


 

Robin took the moment to look around at the soldiers who were looking very relaxed, sitting on folding chairs, tree stumps, or leaning against the trucks they came in on. “You did all this for little old me?” Robin said.
The Templar scoffed. “Of course not. Don’t flatter yourself, thief. The Church has far more important things to do than chase bounties on heretics like you.”
Hood looked around. “So, what the hell are you doing out here? Practicing your line dancing deep in the woods so the other girls won’t laugh at you?”
“Nothing that concerns you, dead man.”
“Ah, I get it. Dirty business. Stuff the Church doesn’t want in the public eye. Like all the refugees from the Sons of Liberty that have been ‘disappearing’ from Austin. Yeah, I know about that. Lord knows what you’re doing with those poor bastards.”
The Templar swing a fist into Hood’s gut. Hood jumped backwards but still the blow doubled him over. Probably shouldn’t have said that. This son of a bitch hits hard. No more of that, please and thank you.
“Enjoy these last days, thief. We may all be damned, but you shall not see the light of redemption.”
Hood managed to stand upright again, wincing. “So, uh, what are you going to do with the bounty money, Mr. Templar?”
“Templar Vargas.” Vargas said with annoyance. “I’m going to give it to the poor and hungry that come to the church for aid. That way at least some good will have come from your crimes.”
“Damn.” Hood shook his head. “Now I feel bad.”
“Why is that?” Vargas raised a quizzical eyebrow.
“Maybe you’re not such an asshole after all,” Hood said, glancing around them.
The soldiers had gone from quietly relaxed to unconscious. Templar Vargas’ eyes went wide. A few soldiers who were still awake struggled to walk like newborn fawns before collapsing to the ground.
“What… What did you…?” Vargas said, drawing his sword and 9mm with each hand in a clumsy flourish. He raised the pistol to Hood, but started swaying. Hood cringed, lurching back and forth out of the way. Oh god, come on, pass out already you asshole. Vargas pulled the trigger twice, the shots wildly cracking the air. Go the fuck to sleep you self-righteous douchebag!
“How…” Vargas looked down at the empty mug of beer on the stump nearby, stumbling until he plunged the sword into the ground to hold himself up.
“Y’all are getting much too paranoid for a run of the mill stunt. Took you guys forever to dive into that beer you confiscated.” Robin said, smiling.
“You… Poison…” Vargas grit his teeth, his eyes narrow with violent rage as he stared at Robin. He dropped his pistol and fell backwards with a thump, a plume of dirt rising through the air.
Robin took a deep breath, the smell of fresh pine and the campfire mingled together in the cool air. He felt the muscles in his shoulders relax.
“What a bunch of idiots,” he said, stepping over his hands. “Relax, your Templarness. It’s not poison. You’ll wake up. It’ll just be quite awhile considering how much I poured into those barrels.” He knelt down beside Vargas’ sword staked in the ground, sawing at the cords of the rope binding his hands until it cut through and the rope fell away. He gingerly rubbed his wrists, kicking at the limp foot of the soldier that ‘captured’ him.
“Church can’t afford some freakin’ normal rope?” Hood said to the passed out soldiers. “Did y’all weave that one yourself out of cactus needles and armpit hair?”
Robin slung his crossbow over his back, tucked his blued Colt M1911 9mm into its holster, and slid his hunting knife into its sheath on his belt. He patted his backpack gently, as if to say I’ll pick you up when it’s time to go, baby. The backpack was stuffed clumsily with his favorite Hoodie that the Redemption devoted had crammed inside. Bunch of savages.
He roamed around the camp, taking all the ammunition from the soldiers that had guns. Ammo had practically become currency itself. For the common man, bullets were more valuable sold for food or a handful of Texas silver dollars than fired at someone.
He had collected quite a good bit of it, carrying it all using the front of his shirt. Whatever they were doing must’ve been important. They’re loaded for bear out here. What looked like forty rounds of loose .38 and 12 gauge, and about twelve rifle magazines that might or might not be full. Damn, this alone makes it worth it. We can sell a good bit of this. Eat like kings for quite awhile. Hood smiled. Gonna splurge and make so many pancakes. And so much bacon. He kneeled beside his pack, unfastening it and pouring all the ammo inside. Ka-ching.
As he stood up, Robin looked around at the comatose bodies of the soldiers. They almost looked dead. Something about they way the lay sprawled out so still felt familiar. Like deja vu. A memory flashed in his mind.
Sick to his stomach, he climbed out of he pit covered in the dead. It was a pit of rotting corpses. Whiskey stood nearby, except younger. Much younger. Hood felt calm, relieved, suddenly. A warm feeling of brotherhood at the sight of him. Family. Whiskey looked repulsed at the sight of Hood. He was covered in the dead. “Don’t touch me, you’re disgustin’.”
Robin took a deep breath. He squeezed his eyes shut, rubbing his forehead. Damn, what kind of sick shit was that? He had long since accepted having memories of a life that felt like it was his. He didn’t know how or why he could remember these things. He couldn’t remember everything, but what he did remember felt like…It felt like he had lived it himself. I have so many things I wish I could ask you. But if you were around, would I be like this at all? There’s some strange feeling I have deep down that says the answer is no. That says we are one in the same. I don’t know how that’s possible. The fire crackled, a log collapsing with a splash of sparks and coal-red embers. He thought of his mother, who only spoke about his father with love. But Robin had never understood why he did what he did. I know you killed the Kaiser, ended the first war. And for what? More war, and more war, and more war. Robin shook his head, trying to pull himself out of his reverie. I won’t make the same mistakes. I won’t leave the people I love behind to carry on without me.
His eyes wandered down to Templar Vargas, laying passed out on his back in the dusty dirt. He knelt down beside him, searching his person. What are you doing here, anyway? As his hand passed through the inside of Vargas’ military jacket he felt paper. He pulled it free of the pocket. It had a broken wax seal on the outside with the Cross and Key imprint of the Church of the Redemption. He unfolded the letter and turned to get the light from the fire.
James,
Gather your men and leave tonight. They should be arriving within a few days.

Stay near enough the Northeast Highway that they can see the light from your camp.

God be with you, and through your service earn your redemption,
Cardinal Vasquez

“Uh oh,” Robin said, looking around. “I don’t think they’ll be able to make the dance.” But who could they be meeting? This has all too much cloak and dagger for my liking. Hood grinned. Or maybe, just the right amount of it. Robin tapped the paper with his fingers, holding it at his side. The rest of the crew better get here fast. I don’t want to be alone out here if whoever this is shows up.

 

 

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

 

 

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