Excerpt: American Rebirth PREQUEL!

Excerpt: American Rebirth PREQUEL!

I need your input, peoples.

  1. I want to know what you think of this excerpt. It’s a prequel of the American Rebirth Series.  Email me, tweet me, DM me, whatever, let me know what you think!
  2. I need to know if you are interested in a prequel. It would cover the SHTF scenario, and go into the Clearwater era. Hood and Whiskey and Taylor in the early Clearwater days.

 

Your feedback is important! I have a desire to write this story, but I want to know from my readers if this is something they’d be interested in.

So here you have it. Enjoy!


Abandoned Home, South of Washington D.C., Rural Maryland.

Sunlight poured into the dusty living room. The hinges of the front door groaned as it slowed to a stop. The old wood floors flexed and creaked under each step. Rob Huntington could picture what life in this house once looked like. An old retired couple, maybe. A young family that moved out into the country. No, it was left behind too clean. No mess. No kids.
The pistol was warm in his grip. Slide locked back. Fired empty. He placed it on an antique sideboard, the weight of it clunking against the lacquered wood.
I am not a killer. Rob pulled the ornate white cloth off of the sideboard, his hands still shaking. He scrubbed at his skin. The blood smudged and smeared, it wouldn’t entirely come off.
He breathed in deep, the musty smell somehow having a calming effect on him. It was not familiar. He’d never been here before. Never even been in this part of the state. But it smelled like a home. There’s no going back to the way things were.
He closed his eyes, standing in the center of the hallway. The past was dead. That was always true. You can never go back. But it meant something different now. You came in here for a reason. You need to find something else to fight with. His feet carried him through the house without thought. There had to be something he could use. The very need for this search told him a truth he did not want to face. This won’t be the last time. You will have to kill again.
Mounted on a wall in the den sat an old bolt-action rifle. There. Below it, almost shrine-like, on a mantelpiece was a trifold American flag in a wooden case, a name engraved on it. Pierce Ploman. Rob moved towards it reverently. The only sound was the creak of his footsteps and the distant carefree cries of faraway birds from the open door. Gently he reached out to touch the rifle and lifted it off its mount, the old leather strap swaying free in the air.
The rifle was old. But it was oiled and well taken care of. His eyes went from the trigger to the firing mechanism, seeing faded words stamped into the metal. Model and make, surely. He didn’t know what they meant. He ran his thumb over them, feeling the imprint in the steel. How does this thing work? Rob pulled back on the bolt sticking out of the rifle, but it didn’t move. He pushed up, and it came free to move. He pulled it back and the action slid open. Do I put each round in one at a time? The metal plate underneath the open chamber seemed separate from the rest. He pushed down on it, and it gave way, a spring below pushing it up. The rounds must go in there. Feed into the chamber. He pushed the bolt forward and locked it down. He pulled it up again and back, repeating the cocking motion until it felt smooth. He hefted it to his shoulder, looking down the ironsights. You’re going to have to use this, he repeated to himself.
He clenched his teeth, his mouth a hard line. One hand found its way to his face, covering his eyes. He rubbed his eyebrows back and forth, rhythmically.
“Rob?” Taylor called inside.
“Yeah,” He called back, standing upright and taking a deep breath.
“Are you okay?”
He nodded to himself. “Yeah. I’m fine.”
“Did you find anything?”
“We need to look around for some ammo. See if there’s any food, too.”
Taylor appeared from around the corner into the den. The pistol he left in the living room was in her hand. She followed his eyes to it, holding it up in the air sheepishly.
“We’ll probably need this, if we can find more bullets for it,” she said calmly. She looked at the rifle in his hands. “Does that work?”
Rob nodded. “Yeah, I think so.”
“Hey, are you okay?” She repeated in an even, relaxed tone that calmed him. “You can talk to me.”
“I’m good, Sis…” He hesitated, before shaking his head in disbelief. “How the hell did this happen?”
She smiled at him, a warm, familial smile. “Hey. We’re still alive.”
He flashed a smile back at her in return.
“Thank you,” she said genuinely. “For doing what you had to.”
He met her gaze. “We’ll be alright.”
She nodded toward the door. “Come on. Let’s see what else we can find.”
Rob looked down at the rifle in his hand. I have to protect her. I can’t hesitate next time. It’s either that or we’ll be the ones lying there.
His feet carried him out of the room. What about all those people that are just like us, though? Trying to survive in this fucked up version of the world?
Rob pushed a toy truck lying on the floor out of his way with his feet.
God, how did we let things come to this?

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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

 

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.

BOOK 2 UPDATE!

BOOK 2 UPDATE!

I figured it’s about time.

UPDATE TIME!

Fear not, intrepid readers of HOOD. I am hard at work on WHISKEY and I hope to have it drafted by the end of summer! I’d love to have it published by then, but alas, the procedural side of writing strikes again. Editing and publication will take some time.

I still hold out hope I can kick it into another gear and have it published by then. We’ll see.

30,000 words. That’s how much I have written. I did the outlining & storyboarding at the end of May when my semester ended, so for all you mathmagicians out there, I averaged about 1,000 words/day in June.

Didn’t even need a calculator. 😀

Based on my rough estimations, the book should be around 80,000 words. Again, for you math types, that makes me about 40% done.

If you’re looking for better news, the past week or two the amount I’ve written per day has definitely accelerated. I’m getting into a groove, I can feel it. I’ve decided to set my new, aggressive goal for July at 2000 words/day. That’s a big jump from my low-pressure 500 words a day setup, but I think given how much easier it has been to sit down and write lately, I think it’s a good idea.

Time will tell.

The best news of all is I love what I’m writing. I honestly think it will be better than HOOD. I had some nervous author-doubts about that going into writing this book. But it’s been so fun to write and the story is coming together beautifully (from my perspective.)

So there you have it. Update finished. Back to writing.

*pull-starts chainsaw*

– Evan

Why Am I Writing?

Why Am I Writing?

No, this isn’t some foray into self-doubt. The question is semi-rhetorical.

The purpose of asking myself this is simple: It’s worth remembering why. It’s only been a few months since I started writing full-time but I think this is something very, very easy to forget with everything that has changed.

In life, and in writing, you need to get back to center sometimes. So… Why am I writing?

The money is great. But it ain’t about the money. Making a living from my book is pretty sick. It’s nothing short of a dream. But if it was about the money, I’d hate writing in short order. It’s like turning your favorite food you eat everyday into poison. I’d rather work some other job and write for fun and secondary income.

Getting recognition is awesome. Having people tell you how much they love the story and appreciate your success is nothing short of every writer’s dream. But you can’t live on that alone. If there’s anything that life’s taught me, it’s that happiness should never be dependent on the opinions of others. It can’t be, really. Because they are not you.

Don’t get it twisted–having readers tell me they loved the book and can’t wait for the sequel, it’s unreal. It’s beautiful. Truthfully it is probably a majority reason of why I write, why most writers write–to share their stories with others. But it is not the core, the seed that grows in all writers.

The real reason I write is this: I love the stories I create. I love to see the world and the story become real for me (and in turn, for readers).  I write because I’m selfish, because there is a story inside me I want to see, I want to record it permanently, write it in stone and make it something more than what it is–just words on a page.

I write because I get inspired. Because I read other books and remember great stories and video games and movies and they fill me with this joy that wants to come out in some story of my own. I write because I want to improve, I want to become an even better storyteller, because I want to inspire others to think about their own lives and write their own stories the way other stories inspire me.

That’s why I do this. And that’s the shit I need to remember when I have days that I just roll around my apartment saying “what’s the point?”

You already know the point, asshole. Just walk back to center and find it again.

-Evan

A Moment of Reflection.

A Moment of Reflection.
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Dan, my brother, and Myself (right) circa 2008ish

Part of the many things one must undertake when being an indie author is writing about yourself.

It’s always a weird task. By nature, you need to be self-promoting. But I think many writers feel a natural humility, a self-effacing tendency that says there are so many more better than me. But, people don’t want to hear about other people when they’re looking at your book. They want to know about you.

So, this is what I came up with for my Amazon “about the author” page:

Like so many of you, I am a man obsessed with stories.

From the earliest parts of my youth that I can remember, I yearned for imaginary worlds. I created stories and lived them out in my own footsteps, found myself engrossed in fantasy novels, mystery novels, roleplaying games, television shows, perhaps most of all, history.

The world, to me, was a great story, filled with endless billions of stories, alive and dead, real and imagined. I did not seek to know them all; but only to be enthralled with as many as I could possibly come by.

So when I was 18, and I first attempted creative writing, it suddenly made sense to me that everything else I had been pursuing fell woefully short of something deeper in me. Now, all I want is what many writers want; to share their own stories, to evoke feeling and inspiration and motivation in others.

After all, so many who have come before have done the same for me. I look only to continue the tradition. In my own way.

I’ve been a professional poker player for eight years. I’ve backpacked europe, I’ve biked alone across the northeastern US by myself when I was eighteen. I grew up living on a boat half the year every year. I’ve hung out in grimy side streets and in sprawling mansions and empty parking lots. I’ve read a lot of books, played a lot of video games, I’ve grown up and I’ve stayed young and no matter what I learn and whatever I believe life is in this moment, I’m still searching. I think I always will be.

-Evan Pickering

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