HOOD is real. Paperback launch detected.

HOOD is real. Paperback launch detected.

Unlike Sauron, Hood can now take physical form!

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That’s right, HOOD, Book 1 of the American Rebirth Series is now available in Paperback!

It’s pretty damn cool to hold it in hand, I won’t lie. Print on Demand is a pretty magical thing.

So for all of you purists and non-kindleites out there, you too can journey alongside Hood and Whiskey through the post-civilization America.

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Next goal: Audiobook. Ah gad.

-Evan Pickering

 

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6 Things About Writing Dialogue You Need To Know

6 Things About Writing Dialogue You Need To Know

There is nothing, NOTHING more story-killing than bad dialogue.

Nothing.

It can be a book, a movie, a show, anything. Specifically here we’re talking about books or short stories. But the second someone says something completely contrived or unrealistic or just wildly out of character. . . you hear that sound? That’s the sound of the fictive dream being shattered.

Dialogue is so very important. It is a exceedingly tough line to walk to have your characters feel genuine, engaging, and true to themselves all while keeping the rhythm of the story. It only takes a little incongruency to make your readers go “Huh?”

Your characters have voices. They speak to each other, to the reader, to you. They hide things, they lie, they mask emotions, they show emotions, they speak their minds, they put themselves on the line. And ultimately, the dialogue is what makes your readers love your story. After all, it’s how your beloved characters interact and show themselves in the world you’ve created.

Every writer has a different relationship with dialogue. Some tend to love it, some tend to hate it. Sooner or later we all feel both ways. I tend to love it, but I also tend to rewrite the living hell out of it. Dialogue I thought was awesome one week I think needs serious change a week later.

So here are my tips on dialogue:

1. Focus on character realism without getting too hung up on it.

It is of critical importance that your characters stay true to themselves when they speak. But that doesn’t mean they always have to have the same opinion, feelings or actions. After all, people change their minds all the time. If your story is doing its job, your characters should be changing a lot through the conflict, so it’s natural that what they say will change. But make sure whatever is happening, whatever your characters are saying, that it’s true to their personality, that it makes sense to their internal beliefs.

2. Don’t get cute.

You know what I mean. Good dialogue should feel real. In real conversations, people change the subject, misunderstand each other, don’t respond, answer simply or talk nervously. Don’t write some binary rolling complex thought train all the time. Yes, dialogue should be action-reaction… but keep in mind that characters have motives, people want to steer conversations certain ways for different reasons. The trick is, simultaneously you have to keep the dialogue in a pace and form that drives the story. Don’t let your characters take over the narrative drive all the time.

3. Keep it simple. Shorter is often more powerful.

“I can’t have you second guessin’ yourself,” Bill said.
Owen worked his jaw, staring out the window as the rain collected and fell in wild paths down the glass.
“There’s no room for it. We won’t survive.”
“I heard you.” Owen turned, moving away from the conversation.

Okay, that’s just a random sample I made up. But you get the point. People often speak very simply, and from a writing/reading perspective, the more short and punchy something is, the harder it hits the reader. Granted, you want to vary sentence length and conversation based on the mood of the scene and of the characters. But the more you can trim the better. Just think of Pulp Fiction. One of the best and most memorable lines in that movie, a movie featuring plenty of outstanding dialogue is: “Zed’s dead baby.”

4. Get Some Distance.

Any writer worth his salt is going to spend a heck of a lot of time editing. As I’ve said in previous posts, editing is really the true bread and butter of writing. But when it comes to dialogue (and your story,) you’ll get so close to the words that you can become numb to them.

It’ll feel hard to tell whether you’re actually making positive revisions or just changes for the sake of changing. For that reason, It’s very very valuable to set your manuscript aside for awhile. Weeks, months, whatever it takes. Don’t look at it. Don’t even open it up. Read some other books you love, read some editing and writing nonfiction if you want. Come back to it once some distance has grown so you can be more objective and look at it with an honest lens. Otherwise, you’ll drive yourself crazy.

5. Use your voice.

When you re-read it, read the dialogue aloud to yourself. In character. It might feel weird, but do it. Try to act out each character as you speak their words. Hearing it all out loud does wonders for figuring out what makes sense and what doesn’t, what has normal speaking rhythm and what doesn’t. You want your words to read smoothly like spoken word.

6. Ultimately, put yourself / your stamp on your dialogue.

There’s all kinds of rules and guidelines out there for writing. Much like the ones I’ve put up above. But the bottom line is that millions and millions of stories have been written and told over and over. So at the end of the day, only one thing will seperate your story from anyone elses. Your voice. You as the writer, your feelings, your experiences, your own flavor to your dialogue. At the end of the day you’ll live or die by the unique elements of you as a writer that you bring to your story. So don’t steamroll what makes you you as a writer. Let it fly (within the context of your characters, ofc.)

Book Cover 11Here’s some shameless plugging for my novel above, hopefully it will be done by sometime next month! I promise I’ll let you all know when it goes live. Enjoy your writing and keep it rollin’, peeps.

-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

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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

Excerpt #3: Hood, Book 1 of the American Rebirth Series

Excerpt #3: Hood, Book 1 of the American Rebirth Series

While I’m undergoing yet another round of professional editing (sweet, delicious feedback) I figure let’s keep this thing going with another excerpt!

While I am antsy to get this thing published and out there, I’m trying to remind myself to be patient. . . after all, It’s better to take longer but come up with a better product than just hurry the damn thing out there. So, deep breaths, writers, neither you or I can rush the growth process.

-Evan

Hood, Book One of the American Rebirth Series

Excerpt #3


Kerry stared out the windshield of the truck at the broken bridge ahead of her. The sun was high in the sky and the wind rushed through the river valley. The empty road and tall grassy clearing past the bridge might as well have been miles away. The tall grass swept and swirled about in a graceful dance with the wind, and she wanted nothing more than to just be there on the solid earth with the overgrowth. Her hands clutched the wheel tight. Her mouth was dry and her eyes felt bleary from lack of sleep.
“Pull the truck in close,” Hood said from behind the guardrail atop the wall. Behind him was a straight drop to the riverbed, but he looked as though he didn’t notice or wasn’t worried. “Closer. Pull her all the way against the wall. We ain’t worried about the paint job.”
Kerry turned the wheel and then counter turned to slide the truck closer. The front left panel of the car scratched and squealed as the stone bridge dug into its side.
“That’s it, nice and tight.” Hood said. “We want to get as much leverage on this baby as we can.” He slapped the hood of the car with a metallic thud. To Kerry, the wall was one more thing trapping her inside the truck. She closed her eyes and exhaled. Sweat beaded on her forehead and made the steering wheel slick under her hands. This wasn’t what she had hoped for.

She kept seeing the image from her childhood play over and over in her head. Sitting in the back seat, her parents in the front seats. They crept through the intersection, and out the driver’s side window came the front grill of a truck. Glass exploded as the car flipped over and over, she slammed her eyes shut feeling herself spin in the air, slung out of her seatbelt, hitting the ceiling. She opened her eyes, numbly looking at her own shattered hand covered in blood as she lay on the ceiling of the up-side down car. Her heart started to race just conjuring the memory.
Between Whiskey trying to kill her and having no choice but to play chicken with her worst nightmare, maybe she should have just kept hiding in the darkness that night she saw them.

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

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.