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

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.

To The Readers…

To The Readers…

As I am in the process of outlining & writing Book 3, I’ve been reflecting a bit on what I’ve done so far. As I hope to wrap up this three-book arc (more novels in the series sure to come thereafter, but I want Books 1-3 to come to a satisfying completion) I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’ve done well and what I can improve on.

I’ve done plenty of self-reflection on the matter. Some things are clear, others are not. That’s where you all come in.

I’d really love feedback from you–the reader. So I’ve tossed a few questions together. As some of you may know I’ve been mulling over a title/cover change for Book 2… So in the spirit of feedback:

Feel free to answer in the comments, or email me at EvanPickering@EvanPickeringAuthor.com

  1. What do you think of the cover of WHISKEY, Book 2? Does it or doesn’t it make you interested in reading the book?
  2. What do you think of the title of WHISKEY, Book 2? If you had to choose between WHISKEY or LEGENDS as the title, which do you think would be more appealing?
  3. What was your favorite thing about the Book(s)? This could be as simple as a character dynamic, or a scene, or facet of the world, etc. No wrong answer.
  4. What was your least favorite thing about the Book(s)? Again, no wrong answer. Don’t worry about my feelings (lol) I want feedback!
  5. Any comments/questions feel free to speak up. It can be regarding the above or anything else.

This is your chance to pick my brain, help me out and ask me some questions!

I’m hard at work at Book 3. Life has been crazy but I’m making headway. I’m hoping to get it done much faster than the 9 months it took to get Book 2 done. With two books under my belt hopefully I’m getting better (and faster) at this!

Hope you all are enjoying your holidays.

-Evan

My Guest Post ApocalypticFiction.com “Our Own Destroyed World”

My Guest Post ApocalypticFiction.com “Our Own Destroyed World”

Our Own Destroyed World

Doesn’t it feel like the end of the world sometimes?

For us, I mean. For us as individuals in our own lives. The longer we live, the probability that we make some catastrophically bad choice for ourselves will eventually reach 100%…

Click below to read more!

http://apocalypticfiction.com/guest-post-from-evan-t-pickering-author-of-hood/