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.

 

 

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My Words at 30.

My Words at 30.

 

God I still love this song. Such a classic.

I first listened to this song when I was somewhere around the age of 18. Twelve years later it’s still great.

I thought I’d be scared or freaked out by thirty.

But I’m pretty happy about it. I’ve got a lot of reasons to love where I’m at in my life. Looking back at all the things that I’ve done (get it?) brings me more joy than anything else.

There are many various ways to measure how my life has gone, but…

I have so much love in my life. And I have given so much love and happiness to others over the course of my thirty years. Of all the things that I’ve done, that’s really all that matters.

As a thirty year old man, I feel in many ways like a better, stronger, wiser version of my younger self. I’ve grown up in the ways that are valuable, and I’ve stayed young in the ways that matter.

I can’t ask for much more than that.


I think one of the strongest truths that I know now at my age is this:

Words mean everything. 

The words you tell yourself in your head will define you. Positive or negative you will make them real.

The words you say to others about yourself–sooner or later you will accept them as truth even if you didn’t in the beginning.

The things you say to other people and the things they say to you is the fabric all of humanity is built on. Say good things, meaningful things, useful things, funny things–be careful with the hammer that is your anger and frustration. Saying harsh or critical things is necessary in life. But do not make it something that gives you power or satisfaction.

Many people live in fear of saying positive, kind or flattering things to others. They only do so sparingly as if it somehow is a risk that makes us lesser, weaker or vulnerable. It does not. Do not believe the lie that kindness is weakness. Kindness is true strength.

Thank you to everyone that has made my 30th birthday something special. I love you guys. And to those that have never met me or do not know me, I love you too. I hope all’s well.

-Evan

 

BookBub — Day 1 Results!

BookBub — Day 1 Results!

So the glorious day has come.

Yesterday was my Bookbub, May 11th. A week before my birthday (woo). HOOD is on sale for $0.99.

Granted, I’m not exactly sure how it measures up vs. other people’s Bookbub promos, but…

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!

FEELS GOOD MAN.

Behold:BOOKBUB 1

Ranked #56 overall in Kindle at the highest, # 1 in Post-Apoc and #1 in Metaphys/Visionary.

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Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.

So, for sales numbers: 2,438 books.

So what now? Basically, I try to keep promoting and spreading the word about the book for the rest of the week. Then I switch it back to 2.99 and try to make more moneys. Ideally this sort of visibility will catapult the book up to the top of the charts for an extended period of time and sales keep rolling in. At risk of sounding prideful, I think it’s a pretty damn good book (so humble) so hopefully word spreads like it did when I launched last year.

Once the week is over I’m going to post another thread to measure how the tail fares, and see if maybe I hit a USAToday Bestseller list (which would just be pure gravy IMO.)

Hope you enjoyed this clinic on over-sharing. I’m damn proud of this series. Book 2 had a bunch of sales too from this. ❤

-Evan Pickering

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Longview

Longview

Ah, what a classic jam. Sounds like childhood.

If you could picture yourself on the timeline of your life, and you could climb up a great tower and take a longview in all directions, what might you see?

  • Backwards, we can see the path we’ve taken here. Messy, bending, rife with good times and bad. Hopefully more bad than good. This way lies madness. A short look back might bring a smile and some warm thoughts. But the longer you look the more obsessed you become with the choices you made.

 

  • To the left and right, we see what could have been. The places and people we might have gone and met, some catastrophic, some fantastic, some wildly different then what we know now, but probably many that are just different incarnations of our own life. This is a matter of curiosity, of warnings and possibilities, but still it only serves us to consider our choices now.

 

  • Ahead, we strain to see forward, but the fog, the great fog clouds what we can see. We think we see shapes and possibilities, we make guesses as to what is and plan what paths we might take through the fog, but we cannot see clearly no matter how much we try. Still, this is the direction we must face moving forward, pushing blindly into the fog and trusting our reactions and instincts to find one of many right ways on.

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I’ve lived most of my life thinking little of the future, enjoying the present and trusting in myself. I’m blessed to be able to do this, and it is by in large a good thing. But there is a caveat. It is vital, I believe, to be proactive in the present, and to imagine the kind of future-present we hope to have. And to be unrelenting in our pursuit of whatever it is. Our imagination is a weapon used for or against ourselves, and we must use it to envision the truly good and valuable things we want and purse them.

It’s easy to imagine all the things that can go wrong, all the reasons not to do something. But through our imagination of what can be is where we can achieve all great things.

Our lives are some small percent the perception of the present moment around us, and a huge percent all the things we imagine about ourselves; the stories we tell ourselves about our past and our future and what could have been.

Your thoughts can be a weapon used for or against you. Don’t let them cut you so deep you can’t push on. Longviews can be necessary, but don’t linger there too long. There’s plenty more to be enjoyed and done right now.

 

-Evan