Mulling over Title/Cover Change…

Mulling over Title/Cover Change…

So I’m considering changing the title and cover for WHISKEY.

Truth be told, I like the cover and the title as it is… but I’m concerned it isn’t “connected” enough to HOOD so that the casual observer who sees it will recognize that it’s the sequel.

Maybe I’m overthinking things. But I’ve been toying around with covers to satisfy my meandering mind. Arguably, I’m not a digital design artist so my skills are pretty damn limited…

But I need some input from you, the reader/casual observer. Please let me know your thoughts on this matter…

Here’s the original cover:

whiskey-cover-final-42

And here’s the new one I’ve been playing with:

whiskey-cover-final-green

So, what do you think? Do you prefer the old one or the new one? Perhaps a mix of both? What do you think of the potential title change? Or the change of coloration to be more like HOOD?

Truth be told, things like title, cover art… these are just marketing tools. And I want BOOK 2 to feel as much like a spiritual successor to HOOD as possible.

 

Thanks peeps,

Evan Pickering

Anticipation.

Anticipation.

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So in case you haven’t heard my barrage of tweets and posts, here’s a giant banner to tell you Tomorrow is the release of WHISKEY.

I don’t even know how to put it into words. Like an emotion sandwich. Anticipation is a magical and terrible thing.

From a totally primal sense, it’s strange to think about the idea of knowing what’s about to happen. Not that we know exactly, but we know generally. It’s a survival tool. Millions of years of evolution.

Now we tend to use it for other things. Excitement as you count down the days until you get to see someone you love again. Dread for fear of some oncoming work. The tantalizing ghost-taste of the food your about to eat as you wait for the server to bring it to you.

In my case, I’m using it to dream up a perfect scenario where BOOK 2 is beloved by all and the series becomes huge, simultaneously while imagining a scenario where no one gives a damn and people think it’s meh and I’m back to the drawing board. Like Schroedinger’s cat, both are true at once right now.

But there aren’t two absolute outcomes.

I think I know what the most likely outcome is.

A good portion of those who read HOOD will read WHISKEY. People will largely love it and be excited for BOOK 3, and some will hate it or find it meh, but overall I will now have two books under my belt and more people will be more interested in the series since it isn’t as much as a ‘promise of future books.’ In short, I’m bettering my career.

I believe in my own writing. I believe in my ability to learn and grow. I believe that the risks I took in my stories are going to be something readers really love–Especially when they see where the story is going.

This is the story I’ve been wanting to tell for years. I take an incredible amount of pride and joy in telling it, and how much people have enjoyed it or hated it so far.

So anticipation is going to do its thing. My mind is going to wonder and wander and try to conjure up the future. But I don’t know what’s gonna happen, nobody knows what’s going to happen. That’s what is awesome about the future.

So as the hours count down, I’m going to enjoy this feeling, and just embrace whatever comes.

Have a good tomorrow peeps, now and always.

Evan Pickering

Here it comes… HOOD sale – WHISKEY release!

Here it comes… HOOD sale – WHISKEY release!

HERE IT COMES.

The gun has fired, the birds are in the air, the seeds have been planted, the dog is off the leash, the metaphor is getting the point across.

I’ve submitted WHISKEY, BOOK 2 of the American Rebirth Series in time for the scheduled Oct 27th release.

GET HYPED.

I know I am, lol. I can’t wait to get it out there, and I can’t wait to hear what people think. It’s been a long time coming (in my mind anyway). Pre-order is pretty interesting because you don’t see any of the sales until release day, so I’m sitting here all curious to see what that number is going to be like when the 27th rolls around.

ALSO…

I’ve scheduled promos for Oct 19th-Oct 26th… HOOD, BOOK 1 of the American Rebirth Series will be on sale for $0.99 for that week!

So basically, my plan is to sell a shitload of discounted books so that way when voracious readers want more, Book 2 will be there patiently waiting for them 🙂

BRILLIANT. CLEARLY NO ONE HAS EVER THOUGHT OF THIS BEFORE. I AM A GENIUS. NOBEL PRIZE, PLEASE.

If you can’t tell, I’m excited. I’ll enjoy this for about five minutes before I start stressing about finding the time to write Book 3. ❤

-Evan Pickering

HOWL does not disappoint.

HOWL does not disappoint.

I wanted to take a minute to share my excitement over this Comic soon to be released for public: HOWL

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I’ve gotten to read the first issue already. It’s truly such a good story. So engaging, from page 1 you want to know more about the world, about the characters…

It’s just a brilliantly wrought story by Eastin and Ryan and Dan. I won’t drown you in hyperbole. It’s just worth reading. Soon they’ll get it out on Comixology, and people will get their paws on it. I already know how it’s gonna go.

Can’t wait to get my hands on my own advance copies.

DO WANT.

Also they made a pretty baller T-shirt. Becuase they make baller things. It is known.

-Evan Pickering

 

 

My One and Only Review: The Last Of Us

My One and Only Review: The Last Of Us

I’ve been trying to pinpoint what it is about The Last of Us that makes it groundbreaking work of gaming and storytelling both.

To answer it, I have to ask a question:

Why do we all need stories and storytelling? It’s nearly as fundamental a human need as eating and sleeping and love. Remove all stories from your life (be it a loved one telling you about their day or a great epic of history) and the silence that follows it will be deafening. Maddening. Unbearable.

Because without stories we are alone. Without them we live one solitary life, confined to our own heads.

Perhaps this seems like a long and unnecessary aside for a video game review. It’s not.

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The reason why The Last of Us shakes the earth underneath your feet after you’ve played it, is for the same reason all great stories change us. Through it, we live out another life. A breathing, pulsing life.

The life of The Last of Us is real. It occupies time and space. If not in your reality than in your mind and in your heart. It carries with it a great weight of the everyday life of a select few people in the shattered remnants of the world, of bad jokes and angry fights and heartfelt bonds and awkward silences.

It is not overt; it does not scream in the face of the player/viewer and dazzle with shock and flash. The great beauty of this game is that you walk with Joel and Ellie and everyone else who passes through their life, in spectacular yet tragic landscapes, in peaceful normalcy and under great duress. It might be a walk through beautiful woods and other times it is a bleak, wet subway tunnel infested with ‘zombies’ crawling in the dark. Gun in hand, you tread softly ahead with four bullets and a brick, a fatherly off-hand protectively extended to Ellie. All you think as a player is “How am I going to make it through this?”

You want to survive because you cannot bear watching these characters you love come to harm, and you desperately want to claw your way out the other side into daylight to see them reach their destiny, whatever it may be.

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You see yourself in everyone. There are no heroes and villains. There are only people, and they are flawed and real and keenly relatable. Every single one of them.

On top of it all, the gameplay has been perfected to align perfectly with the mood, the feel of the game. It’s survivalist, it’s desperate and raw and very, very real. You can’t superman through the fights, running around taking bullets and gunning people down 1v20. You have to survive. You have to be tactical, quiet, deliberate, patient. Or you die. Sometimes all you can do is run.

The gameplay is the story. The story is the gameplay. Not many video games can achieve that. The only thing I could say is that the story is so incredibly good, you might find yourself longing to complete the gameplay just to find out what happens. MIGHT. But honestly, you LOVE the fact that you have to fight your way through their journey. The satisfaction of surviving in this game is very, very real. (I recommend any gamer worth their salt playing the game on Hard or Survivor for the first playthrough. You just have to. Trust me. The gameplay is too forgiving and takes away from the fictive dream a bit if you play normal or easy.)

I’ve played through the game around seven times. And I NEVER replay games that much. I just love the story, the world, the feel of the game so much I find myself drawn to it and thinking about it on an everyday basis.

I also won’t talk about a potential spoiler things that happen in the game, but suffice it to say through playing the game and living alongside the characters, It has permanently changed the way I look at my own life.

That’s the best thing I could say about any game, any movie, any book, any story. Period.

Do yourself a favor. Play TLOU. You’ll never regret it–that’s a promise.

-Evan

My novel, HOOD on Amazon Kindle

 

Getting Out of Your Own Way

Getting Out of Your Own Way

Sooner or later (and probably repeatedly) we all manage to tie our own proverbial shoelaces together before we sprint after something.

Most of the time, we don’t do it on purpose. We usually think we’re doing the right thing or making the best choice.

That is especially true in writing.

Writing a novel can be such a huge undertaking. You’re building your whole world and portraying a select few journeys through that world, all while trying to grab your reader’s attention without being garish.

I know that I struggle with too much subtlety. Or at least, what I see in my mind as subtlety. It’s probably more accurate to call it a failure to inform your reader (lol).


So here’s my lesson for today: Yes, you want your book to have subtlety, but there are important things you have to find a way to convey to your reader. You can’t raise the stakes with scene (action) and sequel (down time) if your reader doesn’t know exactly what the stakes are.


If you fail to properly build the intensity of the focal points of your story, you’ll end up with one of two things happening:

1.) Conflict and climax that the reader isn’t fully invested in the outcome of.

or

2.) Conflict and climax that the reader doesn’t fully understand.

Both will completely pull the teeth out of your story. The best and most gripping stories are ones we care about the characters and the outcome, and ones where we understand the dynamics and forces at work (at least, the important ones. In mysteries this is not the case, but your reader is expecting not to understand, and to eventually discover)

Book Cover 11

I am now undertaking what I hope to be the final round of editing for my novel, Hood, Book One of the American Rebirth Series. (Though I feel like I’ve said this before.) I find that as much as I try to make concepts clear, I’m still working on smoothly informing the reader of important aspects of the story. I know that I tend to be overly subtle, hoping the reader will read between the lines. My lesson to myself is relax, the reader will do that on his own. You don’t have to make his or her job harder by not telling them what they need to know.

Hopefully, I’ll have the book out next month. But I’m endeavoring to not rush the process. I’d rather it come out in its best possible form than just push it out because… well, I can’t wait to get it out there 😀

-Evan Pickering

Starting Over. . . And I’m not Talking About Stories this Time

Starting Over. . . And I’m not Talking About Stories this Time

I’ve got to got to got to move on, where do you move if what you’re movin’ from is yourself?  -Modest Mouse

Alright. I’m taking a break from writing to air some personal thoughts. Enjoy my catharsis:


I would say that this time in my life is one of transition. But if I’m being honest, the past 5 or so years of my life have felt like a time of transition.

The good news, and the bad news, in some ways, is that I am pretty damn adept at putting myself into other scenarios and perspectives. I can see myself in a more settled position with a good job and a family, and know that that me would long for freedom, for personal time for my hobbies and pursuits. I can see the me that would leave my hometown, go travel again or move somewhere new. It would be invigorating, but I would miss my loved ones, and feel a sense of missing out on precious time pursuing my goals.

I’m 28 years old. Most everyone I love is married, has kids, or is in a serious relationship. Most of the people I know have moved away. If I’m being an honest, I’m a man-child in some ways. Perhaps that’s needless self-degradation–I’ve always been a kid at heart. I knew I would be that way as an adult even when I was very young. . .

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But I feel as though I’ve got so much more I want to do and figure out about myself. At 28 with this kind of mindset, you feel alone in a very real way.

Not alone in any sort of sad way, because I know I have so many people that love me, whom I love–people who would do anything for me. (and I, anything for them.)

I feel alone simply in that I am so starkly on my own in a place of change. No longer are the days where I get to hang out with my friends and family regularly, goofing around. I don’t even live near most of them anymore. The people I love are settling in to their families and their lives–a beautiful thing. But I can’t see clearly what I want for myself.

I see the glory of getting married and having kids. I visualize it all the time. But also, I love dearly my personal time, and the freedom of being on my own. I have more hobbies and pursuits than I have time to give to them–god, I feel like I want to learn everything, try everything, just do it all and enjoy the growth that comes with it. Part of me wants to spend my whole life selfishly pursuing every skill and hobby (writing being the chiefest.)

But the desire to get a home, settle in, raise a family is always there. I know in doing so many of my personal pursuits fall away–the sacrifice you make for raising kids (which seems to me to be by all accounts a life-changingly beautiful, incredible thing.)

Other People’s lives seem more interesting ’cause they ain’t mine. -Modest Mouse

I’m not so naive as to think I’m the only 28 year old to think this way. In fact, I’m sure this a very, very common occurrence.

But I feel so powerfully connected to my past, mostly because my past is unilaterally amazing– I’ve had an incredible life by all accounts. Lucky and blessed are not the right words. In poker, we call it a heater when everything is going right. For sure, many things have gone extremely wrong/sideways in my life. But on the whole, I’ve been on a heater for nearly 30 years.

But my enjoyment of the present feels as though it’s being soundly clocked regularly by a cartoonish mallet named “Former Clarity.” I feel old and alone, though I know I’m not. I feel young and goofy as hell at heart, though I know I’m matured and maturing.

I want to start over. Not back in time, but start over anew right now. Clear out the clutter and figure out which rhetoric that’s chiming away inside my brain is true and genuine thought and feeling, and what is fear and paranoia and unfocused memory babble.

When I was younger, I had a clarity on such things. As I get older, everything seems to get more ambiguous. Maybe that’s just what comes from years of learning.

I know that starting over’s not what life’s about, but my thoughts were so loud I couldn’t hear my mouth. -Modest Mouse

Maybe starting over is all wrong. Maybe there is no such thing as starting over. I think that’s more the truth. But I know assuredly, something is changing for me. I can almost feel it. I just don’t know what the change is yet. It’s like a fragrant aroma that you recognize, but can’t remember the memory connected to the smell, despite how impossibly familiar it is.

In the meantime, I’ll take a deep breath, stop worrying, and let go. I’m old enough now to know sooner or later I will figure it out. That’s how it’s worked in the past. The harder you cling to something, the more you force it out of your fingers. So let go.

-Evan Pickering