Another Year Past

Another year is reaching its end, and as we look forward, we always hope that the new one will be better. Although I never understood the mentality that one had to get drunk to bring in the new year. To me that was always a bad way to start, to what is supposed to be new beginnings. As a child to have the privilege of staying up to get past the magical hour of midnight was a privilege, but now it is just another night, and just another day. As it has been stated in many different ways, “Any day above ground is a good day.”

As I have gotten older, I find that the years fly at such a terrific rate, that it seems that I go to bed in January, and then wake up and it is the end of December. Still we face the changes that a new year brings, things like cleaning out of last year’s files, setting up one’s personal books for the new year, and of course for those who do, setting and keeping those new year’s resolutions and goals. Then our governments must get into the act, and when a new year arrives, many new laws go into effect, and  these will have some affect on us all.

If we were to look back on 2011, overall it has not been a good year for many. With a worldwide depression there were many lost jobs, homes, and the chaos that comes with these times. Yet one is always hopeful that things will improve. This reminds me of a comment that went something like this. “I was sad, and things were bad, bills to pay, leaking roof, and no money. A friend dropped by and said, smile for things truly could be worse. So after he left I thought about what he had to say, and had to agree, so I smiled, and surely, things got worse.” Now I am not serious about that statement, but it has always brought a smile to my face.

It is said that we must learn from history. Yet, it has been shown that this is the one thing we seem not to do. But from generation to generation continue to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. I wonder why this is so? With our abilities now for information overload, and much researched history before us, why do we just go and repeat it? Of course I have no answer to that question. If I did, and so many of the others out there, I wouldn’t be just a poor writer out here passing on what little wisdom I have through a minor blog. Yet all of us have something to contribute, and to help others that pass through our lives. So if the opportunity comes along to help, please do. It’s a part that makes us human and who we are. Remember history judges us not necessarily from our accomplishments, but from how we treat and help one another.

So as I close this week, and this year out, I guess I can say that this blog today, has been one of ramblings. And I promise that as I post other short stories, as I will do now and then, that they will not necessarily be sad. I am not saying that I won’t, I am just saying that they will cover many different things, and will give any out there who follow a good idea of how I write. And if it is something that you enjoy, then I can thank you. After all the goal of any writer is to get said what he or she wants to say, to entertain, and to leave the reader thinking. If I can do that, then I have done my job. May the new year 2012 be a great one for all out there. F D Brant

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Published in: on December 31, 2011 at 8:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Christmas Story – Part 2

“Mama, where is daddy?” The young daughter asked. It was getting late on Christmas Eve and he should have arrived by now.

Shaking her head and trying to hide the worry and concern that she felt, she said. “I really don’t know. The weather is pretty bad out there and it has been snowing for hours.” She walked to the lightly frosted windows looking out trying to catch sight of his approaching car, but only saw the patterns that the falling snow created as it passed through the porch and lighted walkway that led to the front door. It warm and cozy in the house, but she felt a chill. Just where is my husband? She thought. He really should have been home hours ago.

Again shaking her head and looking at the 3 children, she really had no answer to give them, and did not know what to tell them. Then putting on a brave face she said, “I’m sure it’s just the weather that has slowed him down. You know that he is always careful when he drives in these storms. So I’m sure this is what has kept him from us.” Then looking around at the room she saw the fire burning in the fireplace and reflected on the comfort it seemed to give. She then looked up at the clock and it said 9:00. He was hours late. “Look, children, I’ll allow you to stay up another half hour, but if your father doesn’t show by then, well, you’ll just have to go to bed. And then when he gets here he can come in and tuck all of you in.” She found something on TV to entertain them while she left and got her well-used Bible. She feared the worst, but hoped for the best.

Since it was Christmas Eve, she decided to read the Christmas story once again, following the story in the first 4 gospels of the New Testament. Yet, she could not concentrate, and continued to go to the windows looking out and hoping to see his car approaching through the falling snow – nothing, nothing at all, other than the falling snow. And as the time continued to pass, she became more and more alarmed, wanting to do something, anything, that would help her overcome this worry, this dread, that she felt throughout her entire being. She needed to keep busy, then looking up at the clock and said. “I’m sorry kids, but he’s not here yet, and it is time to go to bed.” There was some grumbling, and complaining, but after all it was Christmas Eve, and that meant that there would be no presents under the tree unless they went to bed.

She herded them off through the nightly routine, of getting into their pajamas, brushing their teeth, and saying their nightly prayers. All she could do was put on a front of confidence, and encourage them, even though with every passing minute the dread increased. I need to talk with someone. She thought as she left the bedrooms of the children. This not knowing . . . it’s just killing me. She headed back out to the living room and the windows that overlooked the driveway. Sitting down in the big easy chair she picked up the phone and called her mother who lived half a day away. She really needed to talk. Listening to the ringing on the phone it reached the fifth attempt and she almost gave up when it was answered.

        * * *

After hanging up she felt somewhat better. She had poured out her heart, with the fears that she had held, and had cried for a short period of time. Now sitting in the easy chair all she heard was the ticking of the clock that was over the mantle of the fireplace, the friendly crackling of the fire, and all around her the soft yellow glow of the lights in the room. She had unplugged the Christmas tree, as it seemed to be cheerful, and it was something that she was not. Staring out through the window she found that her eyes were becoming heavy and it was hard to stay awake, but she vowed that she would.

        * * *

She saw that she was in her flannel nightgown, one of her favorites – but instead of being in the bedroom and getting ready for bed she found that she was outside, barefoot, and walking in the snow. But even though she could see and feel the cold, she felt warm and unconcerned that she was dressed this way. It did not make sense, but at the moment she had no answers. She found that she was covering a vast distance in a short time, again, an impossibility, but again, she did not feel that this was wrong. She suddenly found herself looking at a point on a familiar road, but not remembering exactly where this was, and could see that a car had left the road at this spot.

Without knowing how she now found herself beside that car, but could not approach it. She recognized it immediately. It was her husband’s car, and it was almost destroyed. She choked with anguish when this was revealed to her. Then looking inside she could see him there, broken and dying. Oh how she longed to reach out and comfort him, to touch him, to tell him how much she loved him, but she could not. All she could do is watch. Then she realized that there was someone else in the wreck with him, and realized that it must be a messenger from God. There could be no other explanation. She thought about what she was seeing and realized that it was very dark, and that there was a soft glow within that car allowing her to see. For some reason God was allowing her to see this, to let her know that she was losing her husband on this night, and that God had sent someone to comfort her man during the last moments he would have on this earth.

She knew that he would not see her there, and suspected that she was not there anyway, but through her faith in God and Christ, she was being allowed to see something that one is very rarely allowed to witness. Suddenly it was once again very dark and she knew that the messenger had left. She awoke suddenly and realized that everything she had just witnessed was a dream, but one that had been very real. She knew with a certainty, that her husband and the father to their children would not be home tonight, or any other night, and she wept. What would she, or could she, say to the 3 children. This was supposed to be a time of joy, a time of gift giving, a time to renew the memory of the birth of the Savior, but now what she had just dreamed was too personal, and too painful. How could she go on when her soul mate would be gone?

Reaching for the Bible she began reading the words of comfort that lie within, but found that the words were blurring to become unrecognizable as the tears began to flow once again. The comfort and confidence that she had in herself seemed to be fleeing her as a rabbit runs from the wolf, and once again wept with a heart-rending depth of pain and sorrow. Looking up she saw her oldest daughter standing next to her with real concern, but remaining silent. She reached for her and hugged her desperately, and said in very quiet and small voice. “God revealed to me tonight that your father has died in a car crash, and will never come home to us again.” Seeing the shock in the daughter’s eyes, all she could do was cling to her, and the daughter gripping the mother in her own desperation, and there they remained this way for an unknown amount of time. And then smiling a sad smile the mother said, “We must do the best we can, after all your father would have wanted it that way. And I know because of what God showed me tonight, that while I am sure what is ahead of us will not be easy, He will always be there for us. Just like your father would have been, if he could.”

Published in: on December 26, 2011 at 12:31 pm  Comments (2)  
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“The Woman in the Snow” Availability

This is just a brief post to let any out there know that, The Woman in the Snow, is now available on both the Sony and Nook e-readers.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/the-woman-in-the-snow?keyword=the+woman+in+the+snow&store=ebook

http://ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/f-d-brant/the-woman-in-the-snow/_/R-400000000000000552981

May the season be  great, and the new year be kind. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – F D Brant

Published in: on December 25, 2011 at 10:22 am  Leave a Comment  

A Christmas Story

This week in honor of the season, I decided that I would write a short fictional story. It is less than 1000 words, and yet in these few words a complete scene is before you. I feel that this is not quite the normal Christmas story that one sees, but, the story is one that does happen all too often during the holidays. So sit back, read the story, enjoy what is there, and then ask, if you are either a writer, or seriously thinking of becoming a writer, does this evoke emotion and empathy for this unknown protagonist, and does the scene immerse, until it is complete? If the answers are yes, then I have done my job. And if not, then somewhere along the narrative there would need to be a rewrite to make it so. And with this introduction, below is: A Christmas Story.

It was late Christmas Eve; he had been heading home anticipating the warmth and joys that would be at the end of his drive. But it was not to be. The falling snow had mesmerized him and he lost his direction only for a moment, but it was enough. His car slid through the bushes that lined the side of the road, and his automobile crashed head-on into a tree. He lay there in his broken car, with his broken body, finding it difficult to breathe. Any movement brought great pain, and he could feel the cold creeping all around him. He knew for a fact, that this would be his last night on earth. He knew that his loved ones would be awaiting his arrival with anticipation, but that wait would be in vain. He would not show tonight. How he wished it would be different, how he hoped that what had transpired would only be a dream, but in his heart, in his soul he knew the truth. He did not know how much more time he had, but knew his time was very short.

As he tried to find a comfortable position in the darkness and cold of his car, he found that any movement at all brought great pain. Why tonight? Why on this special night before the celebration of the birth of the Savior had this come to pass? He had no answers, but knew that time was not promised to anyone. He wondered what it would be like to die, and knew that shortly he personally would learn. No one knew where he was, and he was sure that the falling snow would have covered any tracks that he would have left. He was utterly alone. He thought of his family that he would be leaving behind, and cried. He could no longer help them or watch his children as they grew.

He closed his eyes briefly and when he opened them he thought that he was hallucinating. As he looked he saw someone sitting in the passenger seat. Taking a painful breath, he closed his eyes once again thinking that when he opened them the seat would be empty. Yet, when he did open his eyes this person was still there. This person then turned to him and smiled. “I am real, and I have been sent by the Lord God Almighty to bring you home. And don’t try to talk as I can hear your thoughts. I am here to lessen the pain, and help you. To make you understand that God and his son Christ will continue to watch over your family, and while they will miss you, time will eventually help them. You see, each and every one of you must walk your own road, and when God places problems and situations in front of you, the way that you decide to handle each one determines your direction.

Remember God has seen every path that you could take in your life, and knows you completely. You accepted his son as your personal Savior a very long time ago, and you have lived a life that reflects that. It shows in the love for your family, and for your fellow-man. So some of those decisions have led you to this moment at this time. The time here is brief, and where you are going will make this appear as nothing more than shadow. So God’s gift for you is that you will be with him tonight. And while it will be a sad time for your family, your gift tonight is that they will remember you at this time of year, and while the memories are still fresh, these memories will be hard. Yet, you will precede them, and when it is their turn you will welcome them with joy, as they see the Savior with their own eyes. As this dawn is the celebration of the birth of Christ, you will be able to celebrate with them when they come home.”

He was found late Christmas day when a chance glance located the point where the car had left the road. Another tragedy on Christmas Eve, yet, no one could understand the slight smile on the dead man’s face, which his broken, frozen body could not explain. He truly appeared to be at peace.

Published in: on December 23, 2011 at 8:24 am  Comments (4)  
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“If”, Oh My

This week I continue in the vein of words. Before I cover this great big word I want to comment that we as writers sometime look for the special large word that would demonstrate to the world that yes we are good. Just look at that word that I used, forcing the reader to go to a dictionary to figure out just what you were saying. It was stated somewhere in my past that most books are written with the view that a 6th grade education should be enough to read a fictional story. Of course if you are an English Professor, or major, then this view probably would be considered in error.

Last week I covered that very large word “I”. And this week I am doubling my letters and looking at another so small word that has a great impact on all of us, and that word is, “if”. If I identifies us, who we are, and is probably the most used word in the english language, then if has to come in as a close second. It is a word that is used in flow charts, “the if-then statement, we use it to identify two possible realities. “If this happens, then we will do this, but if that happens we will have to change our direction.”  And when we worry the “if” word is prevalent. It is such that it can prevent us from following the path that we should. We have painted ourselves in a corner because of the imagined outcome. And if you were a child, and who of us were not at one time, then you probably remember the statement given by your parents, “No if, ands, and buts, allowed.”

So like I, if follows you from just about as early as you can remember, and will be with you until you pass on. So as a writer you must be aware that once again that such a small word has impact on everyone in the real world, so it must be there with your fictional characters. Again like the “I”, it is what helps make them believable, and makes the reader feel for them. After all the reader has had similar things happen to them, those doubts that “if” seems to bring forward. The hesitation, that if brings about, followed by the indecision as something imaged plays against the reality of the situation, as your protagonist asks “What if?” – just as you do every day of your life.

So, what if I don’t get an agent. What if nobody ever sees this blog. What if . . . It has been stated that you can “what if” yourself to death, freezing yourself into inactivity. Worry will always be with us, and so again to make your characters real, they must second guess themselves, and at time “what if” themselves. After all that how we are, why should they, our fictional heroes, be any different?

Published in: on December 17, 2011 at 8:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Woman in the Snow

The Woman in the Snow is now available as an e-book at Amazon. I must admit that the road to publishing this book, and the others that will follow, has been  long and difficult. When I first started this walk, I believed that publishing a work was simple. As any who have tried, whether successful or not, this is neither easy, or simple. So below is both a link to the Amazon page, and an a brief description of the story. The genre is Contemporary Woman’s Christian Fiction.

Cathy was excited, it was Saturday, and a weak storm had just left signaling the end of winter.  She was on the road to see her fiancé, who had been away at college. He was home for a short time and it had been at least a month since they had seen each other in person Yes, there had been the emails, texting, and phone conversations, but it just wasn’t the same. The roads she was traveling were remote backcountry roads, just cleared of the snow from that weak storm, and in her mind, easy to travel. After all, she had made this trip a number of times – she could almost drive them in her sleep – so what could go wrong?

She was an unbeliever, one who did not believe in God or Christ. Even though her family and her fiancé’s family were all strong Christians, she just could not see how anyone with a brain could fall for these gods that had been created by first century man. It simply was a way to explain things away that they did not understand. But God had other plans for her. And these plans would interrupt her trip and make her face her unbelief.

Suddenly she found that she was, lost and alone. Would she die? And would she face her lack of faith as she fought for her very survival?  After all she was a city kid, and loved that life. But now she was lost in a wilderness with a snowstorm raging, with no experience at all, and only God to turn to. In the end, would that be enough?

http://www.amazon.com/Woman-Snow-ebook/dp/B006K4U68Q/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1323560772&sr=1-1-catcorr

Published in: on December 10, 2011 at 3:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

I, the Shortest Word in the English Language

Before talking about the subject I wanted to cover this week, I felt that I needed to continue from last week’s blog on your characters. In the example I used, the protagonist became aware of things that she was even hiding from herself. Realizing for the first time that the special bond that can exist between a mother and her grown daughter would never happen. This showed us her humanity, and vulnerability, something that at times affects all of us in the real world. Thus the character becomes more real, and makes us want to care for who she is and what happens to her. These moments strengthen the character, and at the same time strengthens your story.

I, probably is one of the most important words that we have. It identifies us. Without I, we do not exist, we are not unique, and we are not who each and every one of us has become in our short lives. If you were to do a search on the most used words in the English Language, “I” would probably be close to the top. Just for fun try saying a sentence and leave “I” out of it, or any reference back to yourself. I think that you would find that it isn’t as easy as you may have thought it would be.

As I have stated, again, in an earlier blog, everything we see, do, think about, and move through, is from an internal perspective. Absolutely everything in the real world is colored by our internal history. So in truth the world we live in is not the true world. So this makes the idea of “I”, even more critical. So it must be with all of your actors in your books. Again, like you, if they do not have a sense of “I”, then they do not seem real.

One of the most difficult things you do as a writer is create unique characters. It is easy to be blind to the fact that you can accidentally create mirrors of yourself in your characters and when someone outside sees these characters, the comment is, “Well, to be truthful, I didn’t see much difference in them.” Again it is that “I”, that makes each and every one of us different. As we own that uniqueness and revels with joy that it is this way. After all what a boring world this would be if all of us were the same, and this can be applied to the stories that we write.

Published in: on December 9, 2011 at 11:50 am  Comments (2)  

Are Your Characters Real?

I’m going to open this week’s blog with an excerpt from the book “Discovery”. It is still a work in progress, the first draft is written, but there has not been a chance for serious editing. “Discovery” is book 2, with “The Ones Before”, the first in the series of what will eventually be a trilogy.

Could she ever reconcile the two of them? Herself in her youth, before the accident, running and loving what life and her imagination allowed, and the grown female about to take a mate. The one who had known so much tragedy, and in many ways while projecting a strong façade knew that deep down she had many doubts and weaknesses – many that she even tried to hide from herself.

On a whim she got up and went outside to the porch. While it was still mid spring the winds held some heat. Now from here she again traveled back in time. Only this time she became her mother watching the daughter playing and laughing in the winds. Again that sad smile came to her, and then choked up with emotion from the images in her mind she ran back into the shelter to her sleeping area and cried once again. She knew as she had back then that nothing would ever be the same. “Oh mother, why can’t you be here now? Now, when I really need you and your ways.” She whispered to herself. But, in truth she already knew the answer. Still it did not comfort the hurt she felt in her heart

If one has written a great story, or the plot is strong and is such that it pulls the reader along, that is wonderful. Yet, if the characters that are acting out the roles in your story are flat, with no depth, or they are not well-developed, then no matter how great the story or plot, nobody will finish your work. Even though your actors are fictional they must seem real to you. Real to the point that it would not surprise you if you met them on the street someday. Your actors must be as your next door neighbor. They cannot be perfect or have no weaknesses. They have to have a history, as is shown in the above excerpt. With this history, you begin to see the weaknesses, the scars, the things that your characters have hidden, not only from the world, but from themselves. This is part of what makes the reader want to care about this person. To see what is going to happen to them, and will the outcome be good or bad?

It is your main character or characters that drive the story. They cannot be static, since life is not static. Even a recluse lives through their thoughts, and the views of the world outside. And as your story advances, something new must be revealed about your characters. This revelation in the excerpt happens in the first third of book two of this series. So while you know about the accident that had taken the parents, you now are learning how it still has an effect to one of the protagonists as the story continues. Thusly you have a desire, as a reader, to feel more strongly about her, as you can see similar things in others, making Lauma seem very real.

To finish this – if the character is not believable to you, then it will not be believable to the reader. So if your character is not real, then nobody will care, no matter how great your story is.

Published in: on December 3, 2011 at 9:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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