A Personal Journey to Self-Publishing, Part Three

Available now, three new novelsThe Ones Before, Discovery, and An Ancient Fire. All part of the Discovery Trilogy (https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction). An adventure dealing with a time where mankind is finally recovering from a major apocalyptic event, and in the first two novels deal with a myth of a great people known as The Ones Before. Yet there is no proof they ever lived. It will be up to the present Head Keeper of the Past to either prove or disprove those myths.

Of Gods Strangers and Messengers, Science Fiction Adventure, ISBN: 978-1-946179-12-8 Paperback, (and the link to the webpage for this book: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction), and Unexpected Unplanned and into the Unknown, a Post-Apocalyptic episodic novel, ISBN: 978-1-946179-15-9 Paperback, (and the link to the webpage for this book: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction) Both are available as paperback and in the EBook format. They were released on July 14,2017.

The Harsh Lands, (Link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction) is available as a paperback, ISBN: 978-1-946179-00-5, for Kindle, ASIN: B01N69YCCW, or in the EPub format ISBN: 978-1-946179-02-9. This novel is the complete Survival trilogy in a single book with a length of over 1150 pages.

Time of Isolation: (link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction)  Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-946179-06-1, Kindle, ISBN: 978-1-946179-07-4, and Epub, ISBN: 978-1-946179-08-1. Desperate to Survive: (Link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction) Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-946179-09-8, Kindle, ISBN: 978-1-946179-10-4, and Epub, ISBN: 978-1-946179-11-1, are available for purchase as of April 21, 2017. These releases are second editions with the novels revised and updated. At this time A Taste of History Past, (Link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction) will remain as a first edition and EBook only with this being the final book in the Survival trilogy.

The Woman in the Snow 2nd edition, (Link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/christian-fiction). Contemporary Christian Fiction available now: Paperback, ISBN 978-1-946179-03-6, Kindle, ISBN 978-1-946179-04-3, and Epub, 978-1-946179-05-0)

* * *

So in this new “wild west” of publishing everything was changing at a rapid rate. And into this new world with the little knowledge I had I thought the smart thing to do was to take advantage of one of these companies, (companies that converted manuscripts into EBooks) and have them publish my novels. Still, at this point I had hope that somewhere during this process that I’d land or find an agent, and begin the process that led to traditional publishing.

Traditional publishing seemed to be the best way to get known, and maybe in the end produce enough income that I might be able to live off the proceeds. As time went on and as I learned more about this route, I found there was much I didn’t like. In a sense, after all that effort, hard work, time invested, and all that isolation as one worked on that particular manuscript or project, in the end you sold your rights to all of this hard personal work to a company that probably wouldn’t invest much time and effort on the project. And if there wasn’t an immediate return bury it, leaving the writer out in the cold with no recourse.

I didn’t like those odds, and add to it the fact that if I wanted those rights back, I’d had to purchase them. So while having your novel published by one of the big houses seemed to be the way to success, it wasn’t necessarily so. It was then I learned that in this modern world of publishing, much of the work, after the fact, would still fall to you the writer. They, (publishers) now require that the writer have a platform. The writer now had to be on social media, have a website, and in most cases have an active blog. The writer now would be responsible for all the correspondence with fans of his or her works, and in many ways be responsible for getting the word out.

As I thought about this, I began to wonder why I would need a publisher since they were requiring all of this from me. I mean if I was doing this as an independent then I’d be doing very much the same thing. Sure, I understand that with the budgets that publishers have, besides their reach, there is a better chance of becoming known through them. Yet, at the same time that chance overall would be really small.

Going independent meant that I’d be the one in control of everything. Of course this meant that I’d be in control of everything, including the costs involved, the decisions for content, release dates, distribution, announcements, and so many other small details that it might become overwhelming. Especially since I really knew nothing about this industry.

So back to Writers Digest and a webinar on self-publishing I went. After this I did some research and decided that the company I would go with to create my EBooks, followed by the fact they had a great distribution network, was Book Baby. With them you paid for the production costs, and they would then distribute your EBook throughout their network, collect the royalties, handle the accounting, and once your royalties hit a certain threshold transfer the funds into you account.

For me this seemed to be a good solution or compromise. It appeared they had the experience, distribution network, and a system that would allow one to track their books. So my first four novels were originally converted and published by them. Still, as time moved on their prices continued to climb, and with the last one I sent them to convert the costs had risen to well over $400. This was rapidly heading in the direction of unaffordable. And while they did distribute, I really wasn’t seeing much results. Again, POD (Print on Demand) was still in the future, and the small independent print shops where one might get a manuscript printed was well beyond most indie authors as far as costs. This still left the issue of distribution. and how one would get their printed books out to the retailers.

So for me it was time to do some additional research and continue to learn and understand the industry I found myself in. And, of course, this industry was now very fluid and big changes were in the wind and happening almost overnight.

Next week I continue my journey to becoming and indie writer, and publisher. Have a great week, and God Bless! (https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/)

Advertisements

A Personal Journey to Self-Publishing, Part Two

Available now, three new novelsThe Ones Before, Discovery, and An Ancient Fire. All part of the Discovery Trilogy (https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction). An adventure dealing with a time where mankind is finally recovering from a major apocalyptic event, and in the first two novels deal with a myth of a great people known as The Ones Before. Yet there is no proof they ever lived. It will be up to the present Head Keeper of the Past to either prove or disprove those myths.

Of Gods Strangers and Messengers, Science Fiction Adventure, ISBN: 978-1-946179-12-8 Paperback, (and the link to the webpage for this book: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction), and Unexpected Unplanned and into the Unknown, a Post-Apocalyptic episodic novel, ISBN: 978-1-946179-15-9 Paperback, (and the link to the webpage for this book: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction) Both are available as paperback and in the EBook format. They were released on July 14,2017.

The Harsh Lands, (Link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction) is available as a paperback, ISBN: 978-1-946179-00-5, for Kindle, ASIN: B01N69YCCW, or in the EPub format ISBN: 978-1-946179-02-9. This novel is the complete Survival trilogy in a single book with a length of over 1150 pages.

Time of Isolation: (link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction)  Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-946179-06-1, Kindle, ISBN: 978-1-946179-07-4, and Epub, ISBN: 978-1-946179-08-1. Desperate to Survive: (Link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction) Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-946179-09-8, Kindle, ISBN: 978-1-946179-10-4, and Epub, ISBN: 978-1-946179-11-1, are available for purchase as of April 21, 2017. These releases are second editions with the novels revised and updated. At this time A Taste of History Past, (Link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction) will remain as a first edition and EBook only with this being the final book in the Survival trilogy.

The Woman in the Snow 2nd edition, (Link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/christian-fiction). Contemporary Christian Fiction available now: Paperback, ISBN 978-1-946179-03-6, Kindle, ISBN 978-1-946179-04-3, and Epub, 978-1-946179-05-0)

* * *

As I’ve stated in an earlier post, I thought that once a manuscript was written then it’s done. I guess that was one of the first hard lessons learned. Without editing there is no story. And in a sense even though I hadn’t thought about editing, when I had written book two in the Discovery trilogy, I had no choice but to return to the first one and make corrections. In other words edit the darn thing.

So now what? How was I to get these manuscripts in front of publishers and editors? Well I had returned to subscribing to Writers Digest, and ended up purchasing one of their books that gave lists of agents, and such. So I picked out a few that I thought would work with the genre I wrote, submitted queries, and waited. Every one came back as rejections. And what made it worse was the fact the rejections were form letter rejections, which meant no interest at all.

During this time I became a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association (PNWA). Every year they host conferences, and also have a contest tied in with their conferences allowing authors to submit manuscripts, (for a price of course) to be judged. Then at the conference the winner would be announced. Then this winner would have the opportunity to talk to publishers and agents who would be specifically interested in their manuscript.

This was a no brainer. I had to submit to this contest and hope I was good enough to at least reach the finals. Of course the winner wouldn’t be announced until the end of the conference. So I attended the writer’s conference, and I have to admit that it was worth the price of admission. The only issue for me was the price of admission only allowed me to do this once.

The classes I attended added to the knowledge that I lacked, and as far as my manuscript, it didn’t go anywhere. Still, by this time I had written another novel and had brought a query with me, hoping to get the opportunity to give it to either an agent, or publisher. I was fortunate enough to find one who accepted the query. Still, I never heard back. So in the end another failed query and opportunity.

I guess, in many ways what you see here is pretty standard for any unknown. It has been stated that one could paper their walls with rejection letters before finally landing a deal somewhere. Still I continued to learn. And eventually, after taking one of many webinars I learned a little about self-publishing, and the beginnings of the revolution in electronic books. Whether you have a love or hate relationship, it is Amazon that drove this, forcing the other publishers to come along for the ride, kicking and screaming, and fighting this trend.

POD (Print on Demand) hadn’t arrived as of yet. So a few internet companies began to offer services for converting manuscripts into the EBook formats – Epub, and Mobi. Some would do the work for free taking a percentage of the sales as their share for the work performed. Others would require payment up front, and then any sales belonged to you.

In the beginning of all of this one was responsible for the cover designs, and obviously the content, and formatting of that content. It was later that many of these specialty houses began offering services that would  do this work for you, again for a price. Still, if we were to look at some of my early covers that I created verses the ones presently on my novels then it becomes painfully obvious where the talent is.

Next week I move onto my first foray into this new world of self-publishing. Have a great week, and God Bless! (https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/)

A Personal Journey to Self-Publishing, Part One

Available now, three new novelsThe Ones Before, Discovery, and An Ancient Fire. All part of the Discovery Trilogy (https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction). An adventure dealing with a time where mankind is finally recovering from a major apocalyptic event, and in the first two novels deal with a myth of a great people known as The Ones Before. Yet there is no proof they ever lived. It will be up to the present Head Keeper of the Past to either prove or disprove those myths.

Of Gods Strangers and Messengers, Science Fiction Adventure, ISBN: 978-1-946179-12-8 Paperback, (and the link to the webpage for this book: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction), and Unexpected Unplanned and into the Unknown, a Post-Apocalyptic episodic novel, ISBN: 978-1-946179-15-9 Paperback, (and the link to the webpage for this book: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction) Both are available as paperback and in the EBook format. They were released on July 14,2017.

The Harsh Lands, (Link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction) is available as a paperback, ISBN: 978-1-946179-00-5, for Kindle, ASIN: B01N69YCCW, or in the EPub format ISBN: 978-1-946179-02-9. This novel is the complete Survival trilogy in a single book with a length of over 1150 pages.

Time of Isolation: (link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction)  Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-946179-06-1, Kindle, ISBN: 978-1-946179-07-4, and Epub, ISBN: 978-1-946179-08-1. Desperate to Survive: (Link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction) Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-946179-09-8, Kindle, ISBN: 978-1-946179-10-4, and Epub, ISBN: 978-1-946179-11-1, are available for purchase as of April 21, 2017. These releases are second editions with the novels revised and updated. At this time A Taste of History Past, (Link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction) will remain as a first edition and EBook only with this being the final book in the Survival trilogy.

The Woman in the Snow 2nd edition, (Link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/christian-fiction). Contemporary Christian Fiction available now: Paperback, ISBN 978-1-946179-03-6, Kindle, ISBN 978-1-946179-04-3, and Epub, 978-1-946179-05-0)

* * *

Yes, I’m an Indie publisher, and as such I’m responsible for all of it. And what I mean is, from the writing, to the editing, to contracting for covers, and submitting all materials to a print house, to the final product you find at your favorite book outlet, literally everything. This is a journey that has taken years to accomplish. There were a lot of mistakes made along the way, and a really steep learning curve. Still at this time my novels are available in paperback, and EBook. I haven’t attacked the audio market as of yet, but sometime in the future it may be a direction that I will take. (Also remember that everybody’s path is different, and this is mine.)

And now that I’m looking at reaching an end to most of what I’ve done, I thought it was time to look back and trace the pathways to now. So with this first post in the new series I will go back to the beginnings which began eleven years ago. 2006 was the year I retired, and then moved from where we were living to the great northwest, and all the work that happens when you not only move into to a new home, but add to that a new state, meaning the changing of all your vehicle licenses, driver’s license, and address changes and such. Add to it not knowing anything about anything meant more learning.

So this early time was simply spent on becoming familiar with the area, and the changes that one faces. Still, after this what was I planning to do? I knew, from statistics, that if one didn’t occupy oneself with something productive that life expectancy after retirement would be short. And I wanted time to spend with my wife, who is still working at this time, once she retired, and finally after all the years together to actually have it be just the two of us. That will finally happen in the second half of 2019.

So I thought maybe I should try to write. While I’ve written a short story or two, and when we’d do Halloween haunted walks, create stories to heighten the suspense, I had never tried to write a complete novel. At the time in the past where I’d attempt to write, life got in the way, so it was something that had to be placed on the backburner until such time where I might be able to devote more time to the craft. Decades went by, and between family and job it reached a point where I had to give up recreational reading totally. So for the last years of my career, it was work, home life, no real vacations, and a wildfire close to the end of my career that once again changed our direction, and lives forever.

I’ve never claimed to be anything but a country hick. I lived most of my life on family property that was forty-one acres in size. A two mile dirt road to get there, we are on wells for water, and then in the seventies we finally got electricity and a telephone. Yet, when we made this move from there to where we are living presently it was in a city. The original plan was to only be here a short time while we recovered, sell, and return to the country. Then came the housing crash, and so here we are still living in the city, and that same house twelve years later.

Back when I had begun this journey, decades in the past, the publishing industry was completely different. There were no agents, and in reality there were no classes, internet, webinars and such, to teach one how to create a query, and one dealt with publishers and editors directly. It meant when I decided to pursue a writing career as a second occupation that what we see today was completely unknown to me. Meaning that I went into this as I remembered, not knowing the reality of today and the massive changes that had taken place. Let alone the ones that I didn’t see coming in the future, which is now the past. Even though what is happening today is still changing and growing.

In a sense what we see has led to a revolution in the publishing world. Now anybody who has thoughts of publishing can do it. So this has led to the massive amounts of published material out there making it even more difficult for a writer to become known. And is usually the case there’s lots of this new material that’s really not worth reading. In many ways this is like the old west, it is the frontier, a revolution, and a freedom for any to get one’s book out and into the hands of readers.

So late in 2006 I began my first novel. Still I knew that it was important to set a goal. I mean, was this novel going to be my only attempt, or did I have aspirations to go further? At first I didn’t know, but eventually set a goal of eight novels. Was it realistic? There was no way to know, and if it wasn’t I could always adjust it later. So off into the darkness of the unknown future I went. And the obstacles that was ahead of me were all unknown – which was probably a good thing. I really thought, in my mind that it would be simple. Write the novel, submit it, and see it published.

For any who have tried, they know that this isn’t reality, and this road is a long and hard one. Yes there are always a few who seem to hit everything just right and go to the best seller’s list. But for most of us we end in obscurity and what we’ve produced ends up on our personal shelves to collect dust. Still even to have accomplished this is far greater then ninety nine percent of the ones who have attempted to write only to fail.

Next week I’ll be continuing this final series of posts. Have a great week, and God Bless! (https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/)

Published in: on January 6, 2018 at 7:07 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , ,

The Ones Before

Available now, two new novels: Of Gods Strangers and Messengers, Science Fiction Adventure (And the link to the webpage for this book: (http://www.fdbrant.com/page21.html), and Unexpected Unplanned and into the Unknown, a Post-Apocalyptic episodic novel, (And the link to the webpage for this book: http://www.fdbrant.com/page20.html) Both are available as paperback and in the EBook format. They were released on July 14,2017.

The Harsh Lands, (Link to webpage: http://www.fdbrant.com/page19.html) is available as a paperback (ISBN: 978-1-946179-00-5), for Kindle (ASIN: B01N69YCCW), or in the EPub format (ISBN: 978-1-946179-02-9). This novel is the complete Survival trilogy in a single book with a length of over 1150 pages.

Time of Isolation: (link to webpage:http://www.fdbrant.com/article02.html)  Paperback (ISBN: 978-1-946179-06-1) Kindle (ISBN: 978-1-946179-07-4) and Epub (ISBN: 978-1-946179-08-1) and Desperate to Survive: (Link to webpage:http://www.fdbrant.com/desperatetosurvive.html) Paperback (ISBN: 978-1-946179-09-8) Kindle (ISBN: 978-1-946179-10-4) and Epub (ISBN: 978-1-946179-11-1) are available for purchase as of April 21, 2017. These releases are second editions with the novels revised and updated. At this time A Taste of History Past, (Link to webpage: http://www.fdbrant.com/page18.html) will remain as a first edition and EBook only with this being the final book in the Survival trilogy.

The Woman in the Snow 2nd edition, (Link to webpage: http://www.fdbrant.com/article01.html). Contemporary Christian Fiction available now: Paperback (ISBN 978-1-946179-03-6) Kindle (ISBN 978-1-946179-04-3) and Epub (978-1-946179-05-0).

* * *

In the weeks ahead I’ll be presenting each of the novels I’ve written. This is the first. I plan on going into a bit of background on each, what my thoughts were at the time, and the direction the novel was originally to take and where it actually ended. And during this process I’ll present them in the order written. And with the first I’ll be providing an introduction to this overall series of posts.

One would think that for example, trilogies are written as a set, one after another until complete. And I suspect for many writers it is this way. Still, with the two trilogies I’ve written neither were. In both cases the first two were written followed by other novels before returning to complete the series. Again, both of these trilogies are open for additional novels. Whether that happens is an unknown.

In truth, after retiring and then beginning this career as a writer I’m finding that after fifty plus years of working that I’m burning out. Yes, in comparison to the hours I spent working my original career, this is a leisurely journey. Still like any job, it requires time, and while I don’t punch a clock any more, I still must be disciplined, spend each day concentrating on the writing, editing, and things like this blog.

This probably requires more discipline, concentration, and dedication than anything I’ve done. And while it would be nice to see some financial gain for the time, effort, and finances spent, and it hasn’t been cheap, there’s a good chance in the end that there will be no such reward. Leaving my reward to be the actual completion of a number of novels, all that I self-published. I know that many have started such a journey never to finish.

I can say I’ve learned a lot, and know that as far as this industry I’ve barely begun. So much has changed since the time when I first tried my hand at writing. In fact the whole industry is different, and now so much of what must be done has to be done by the writer. It’s no longer write the novel, submit it, and if one is fortunate enough to have it chosen by one of the publishing houses, then from there they’d take over and do everything necessary to get it out to the world. And if you’re a writer you know of what I speak.

And when you consider that there are over a million new publications each year then for an unknown to become known is close to impossible. Statistics say that nine out of ten writers fail. And to be honest this might be even higher. So when I began this journey in earnest these facts were something I was unaware of. Maybe it’s a good thing since it meant that I wouldn’t be discouraged right out of the gate.

Still some of the ignorance remained with me through those first couple of years where I learned how long it takes to bring forth a new work. For me, from beginning to end, and here I’m not referring to actually publishing, it takes about a year to do all the serious work. That means writing the novel followed by serious editing. While it is less than ideal I must do my own editing. For this I have no choice. Financially, hiring an editor, is beyond my means.

Editing, by far, is the most difficult and important part of the process. For me I have a method, as I’m sure most writers do. And for me I go through a novel – first page to last – a minimum of three times. Still with the ones I’m presently editing I can say I’ve been completely through them at least twelve times. Why the difference? It’s simple really. These early novels have required the most revisions, rewrites, and edits. And this is why they have yet to be published. While over time my writing has improved to a point where it requires less rewriting and editing, which I have to admit is really nice, it still must be done. And this novel, as I’ve stated, is the first I ever wrote.

Book length is also important. In the genre I mostly write the word count expected is around one hundred thousand. Yet when I wrote these first two I was unaware of such things as word count. I thought page count was the thing. So both are long, with this one being over one hundred thirty four thousand words, and the second at over one hundred and sixty five thousand. With three hundred to three hundred and fifty words to a page it gives you an idea to the length. And what I’ve learned is that each page you add costs additional money. And by being a small publisher, using Ingram as my producer, and distributor, and by being a publisher of short runs it is expensive, (Now known as POD, or Print on Demand). And because of this the paperbacks produced for sale in the retail market aren’t cheap. If you look up the price of any of my novels you’d naturally think, they must be really good or the publisher thinks they will sell well or the writer has such an ego that he believes that they deserve such a price. As I’ve stated I’m that publisher and writer, and in the end I really only earn, in most markets, less than a dollar per paperback book sold – thusly this is the reality and cost of doing business. And with this it’s time to head into the novel:

The Ones Before came about because of my interest in the past, and in the field of archaeology. In a sense the movie Planet of the Apes where the protagonist discovers, at the end of the movie, that he is on earth sometime far into the future has stayed with me. I still see the images of the Statue of Liberty as a ruin clearly identifying the fact that his world is gone forever.

Another influence for this series, for it is a trilogy, came from a favorite author. His stories always take place in real places. Not necessarily towns, cities, and such, but the lands. So I determined that I’d do the same with this one. So the wild lands, the places spoken of in this novel are real. And if one wanted to retrace the route of the people in this story one can. Although I have to say that those lands in the novel are lacking the cities and towns that exist now. So if one did follow the paths then they would have to imagine the lands without these cities and such.

And with all that I’ve written, in the ten to eleven years of writing, this series is the only one that follows the lands as they exist. Still, as I began this novel, I thought “first person” is the way to write it. After getting to the point where chapter four might have been, (there are eighteen chapters in this novel) I realized that this wasn’t going to work. So I started over and changed the perspective to “third person”. Oh just a small fact here; when I write novels they are all presented as “third person”, yet generally with my short stories I write in the “first person” POV

I say chapter four, but when I wrote this one I had no chapter breaks, nothing at all. So this became another issue as I had to go back and figure out where the chapter breaks should be. And these issues were only the beginnings of problems with this first novel. Issues such as a broken timeline. And others became obvious as I wrote, then came back later (much later) to clean it up. All my novels I now write have those chapter breaks in them as I go along. I can sense, as I write, where the natural break falls.

Did I say, clean it up? Well, that only happened later once I had added chapter breaks and such. I mean when I wrote my first novels the idea of editing didn’t enter my mind at all. I thought – write it, and be done with it. Well, that was another hard lesson. It has been stated that anybody can write, but only writers can edit. So the truth is one doesn’t have a story or a complete novel until the revisions, rewriting and editing is done.

Story – where’d the story come from? This, like the other trilogy I wrote, came from a fragment of a dream. This one, again like the other was a recurring dream. And it intrigued me enough to want to write a story. So when I began this I thought that I must have some type of goal to reach beyond this one novel. So I thought to set my goal rather high. I told myself that I’d write eight novels. Was that a real reachable goal? At the time I made it I really didn’t know.

In this story my original idea was to have one main character who is married and deals with the past. In fact I identified his position as “Head Keeper of the Past”. The other four characters that play an important part in the story were originally to be there as minor characters, ones who would pass on what they had so that the main character would then go forth and solve the mystery that’s before him. But, those other characters demanded more time, and a deeper role in the story, (really?). So instead of one main character I ended up with six. Each and every one critical to the telling of this story.

In fact, other than the prologue where the Head Keeper of the Past is writing, we don’t see him until much later in the novel. Instead we begin with a team that’s mapping major trails. From there we move on to the sister and brother who are trying to survive on family property that has been in their family for generations. And then it is from there we are finally introduced to the Head Keeper of the Past.

In a sense these novels are about discovering one’s past. In the story, The Ones Before are myth. Yet it is a myth that refuses to die, even though nothing has ever been discovered showing they were ever real, had existed, or had lived. Still many past Head Keepers of the Past have tried to solve this mystery only to fail. And this is the overriding theme. The story can be considered post apocalyptic in nature, but only generally. As the event is thousands of years in the past – at least for the first two novels.

Another aspect here in the beginning of my writing lay in the fact that I thought to eliminate conflict. After all, we have enough in our lives, why would I want to include it in a novel? Was I successful? No, not at all. It was later that I learned that conflict is what drives the story. And I learned there are many levels to conflict. From those decisions we make to go one way or the other, to outright war and destruction.

Is this novel available? No not yet. Soon, as I’m having covers designed for the complete trilogy in November of 2017, and hope to have them available by the Christmas season of this year. I have to admit that I love my characters and their interactions with each other and the world they live. And in this novel you truly do learn of their world, their society, and where they are technologically. And I find personally, seeing, reading, and finding a complete living world makes the reading so much more pleasurable.

So I hope that this look inside the process, and the introduction to my path as a writer piques your interest enough that you will want to at least read the back cover of the novel. It, as well as the other two, will be available as both a paperback and in the EBook format. Have a great week and God Bless! (http://www.fdbrant.com/)

Sixty Years On

Now available in July, two new novels: Of Gods Strangers and Messengers, Science Fiction Adventure, and Unexpected Unplanned and into the Unknown, a Post-Apocalyptic episodic novel. Both are available as paperback and in the EBook format. Release date was yesterday, July 14, 2017. Blurb and information can be found on my website (found at the bottom of this page).

The Harsh Lands is available as a paperback (ISBN: 978-1-946179-00-5), for Kindle (ASIN: B01N69YCCW), or in the EPub format (ISBN: 978-1-946179-02-9). This novel is the complete Survival trilogy in a single book with a length of over 1150 pages.

Time of Isolation: Paperback (ISBN: 978-1-946179-06-1) Kindle (ISBN: 978-1-946179-07-4) and Epub (ISBN: 978-1-946179-08-1) and Desperate to Survive: Paperback (ISBN: 978-1-946179-09-8) Kindle (ISBN: 978-1-946179-10-4) and Epub (ISBN: 978-1-946179-11-1) are available for purchase as of April 21, 2017. These releases are second editions with the novels revised and updated. At this time A Taste of History Past will remain as a first edition and EBook only with this being the final book in the Survival trilogy.

The Woman in the Snow 2nd edition. Contemporary Christian Fiction available now: Paperback (ISBN 978-1-946179-03-6) Kindle (ISBN 978-1-946179-04-3) and Epub (978-1-946179-05-0).

* * *

I picked this title from the title of a song by Elton John that he sang back in the seventies. I have to admit that I always liked it. Still in many ways what it reflects is a view of when one reaches those older years. And in my case I definitely qualify. If any of you out there haven’t heard the song here’s the link to one of the versions from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEcafVVUxqk

In a sense what one takes away from this song will be as a result of who and where you are personally. For me it has to do with the title referring to sixty years plus, which is where I am, since I’ll turn sixty eight this year. Others may think about the fact that it seems that every generation have their wars to fight, others who want to see guns disappear will see a possible future where they don’t exist. And still others might focus on the religious aspect, and because of this none of us would agree what this song is about – and that’s what keeps life interesting.

What I am writing here will be through my eyes as I’ve viewed events, and marked time. And if we truly think about it for all of us it is this way. What is being witnessed throughout our lives will always be colored by who we are, what our experiences have been, our heredity, the influences that are around us, and where we are in our own timeline. Nothing we see is what it truly is. It cannot be any other way since we view all things from our inner selves, and our personal senses.

For example, in my case I’m partially colorblind. That means that certain colors do not exist for me and when you remove those colors what I see instead is the color that would be created if that missing color didn’t exist. To explain what I mean, here is what would happen. If you remove red from purple the color you would end up with is blue. And we can say the same thing with brown. Since red is the most common colorblind color then if we remove red from brown we get green. So this would mean that to any of us with that particular color blindness trait those other colors wouldn’t exist, i.e. brown and purple.

By the way, back when you were a kid, and for me that’s a long time ago, did you ever try to mix all the colors with your crayons or colored pencils to get white? Logically you’d think it would work since sunlight is white and we were shown and told that it is created from all the colors.  And by using a prism they prove it. Yet when we mix those colors on a sheet of paper we end up with black – one of those mysteries of life I guess.

Memory or memories can be tricky things. It has been shown that what we remember isn’t necessarily what really happened. Time and distance has changed those memories into something different, yet we believe what we see in our minds is correct. There have been a number of experiments done over the years that prove that memories can be implanted and have no basis in reality. So when I look back on my memories I find that with some there are warm nostalgic feelings that can lead me to smile, while others I’d sooner forget. Are they accurate, I believe so, but there’s no way for me to prove them to be so. If we think about this too hard it can leave us on shaky ground with nothing firm to stand upon. It comes down to do we trust or not trust our personal memories. Personally I’d rather trust them until they are proven to be wrong.

So what’s your earliest memory? Mine, and I’d guess I had to be around three at the time, has to do with a family outing to an observatory, standing on the steps leading up to the entrance. That’s it, nothing about going inside, or about the trip to and from, or any other aspect. There must have been something about that one location that created this permanent memory.

Other memories? Well, there’s the one where we went out to look at property when I was six. We turned a corner and everything to the west fell away and suddenly it was like I could see forever. As a boy scout taking that ninety mile hike we did as a troop, graduating from high school, (fifty years ago) the night I left home on the way to a war zone as a soldier, wild fires, where eventually one did destroy our homes, marrying the woman I love, who brought two daughters into my life and our family, being there for the birth of our sons, and now after all these years going to their weddings. As you can see most of these memories are ordinary and as such could belong to anyone. Yet, each and every one makes me who I am, as the ones you have make you who you are.

Local and beyond memories? The Kennedy assassination when I was in high school, the space race and landing on the moon, an airliner crash that almost hit an elementary school, and further back and personal, a military fighter crashing on the property and almost hitting our home, 9-11-2001, and the resulting wars that we still face today, terrorism and the many tragic losses from these extremists, and I guess I can throw in the mine rescue. In this mix I can add the resignation of a president and vice-president, and the first time we had a president who came to office unelected. And all of these form the backdrop of my and our lives influencing how we see and view our world.

The common factor in all of this is time. And for all of us time is the limiting factor. We are only given so much of it before we die. And it’s surprising how fast that time approaches. It seems like yesterday when I graduated from school and while I was in school it seemed like it was forever. Now fifty years later I’m returning from that reunion celebrating a half century since graduating. Yeah this means I’ve been out of school much longer than I was in, and that time between has more than flown – leaving me to wonder what happened

It is here at this time in one’s life that they realize that much of their lives are over, and whatever dreams and goals one had are no longer obtainable. It is sobering when one realizes that all the chances are pretty much used up, and are part of your past. Still I can say that once I retired that it allowed me one more chance at one of those life goals, and here it is right before you. I always had a desire to write, and in truth I never knew if I could be successful or not. I guess, in the end, I can say yes. When I seriously began to write, (after retiring) I set goals, whether I’d ever reach them I didn’t know. I honestly didn’t know if I could write a book or novel and finish it. Yet, in the end, I did reach those goals, surpassed them, reset those goals and will reach and possibly surpass those new ones.

Still, time is piling up, burying me under that weight, telling me that soon those creative juices will probably dry up. So next year as I work on two new novels,  they may be my last. Still I’m happy with the results of my writing. In the end I’ll have written twelve novels, plus one of short stories that I’ve presented over the years on this blog. And when I do look back on my life I see many twists and turns, dead ends, failures, and a few successes now and then. Still overall I have my health – more or less – and a loving family. I believe in God and would love to see a peaceful world. Still, I’m realistic enough to know that this will probably never happen. It still doesn’t mean that I hope to be wrong. We are still a world of tribes and have that tribe mentality. And until that changes nothing ever will.

In conclusion, all I can say is to keep reaching. Keep yourself active mentally and physically. Set those goals, and reach for them. If you don’t make them, at least you tried, and in a sense that’s the bottom line isn’t it. It has been said many many times, it’s the journey, the road you travel. Even though that road will have many unexpected turns, dead ends, and branches that will completely change your life and direction, you only fail when you give up. And unlike the games we play we cannot go back and start a level again. In life we get one chance, and it matters not whether you have the experience to make an educated decision, we must decide and then live by where that decision sends us.Whether my novels become more than a hobby only time will tell. Still I’m happy to have traveled down those many roads, and I love following my fictitious characters through their lives, and must admit that I’ve enjoyed their life stories and journeys as they unfolded. And if I want to admit to it I think I would like to meet many of them personally. Of course this is impossible since they’ve never lived except in my mind and on the pages of those books – still, they are real to me. Remember –

Don’t be afraid to reach high and to seek the impossible. Who knows, you may be the one who makes the impossible possible. God Bless! Have a great week, and learn from all the mistakes we all have a tendency to make. It is only then that we grow. (http://www.fdbrant.com)

 

Blog Extra – July 4th, Looking Back

Personal Opinion and Thoughts:

It is July 4th, or what is known as the Fourth of July in the USA. The official date where the colonies declared independence from England 240 years in the past. First off I’m providing a link back to last year’s post, and stating that if anything it has gotten worse and not better. This is also an election year on a national level, and in many ways a critical one. In my  opinion we as a nation are fighting to remain a free country, and one who is governed by the laws of the land or what is called the Constitution of the United States of America. At this very moment it appears that the biggest law-breaker to these basic rights and laws is the government itself. Still let’s look back through the link to my thoughts last year: https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2015/07/04/4th-of-july-just-another-day/

If you are one who followed the link back, there really is little that I can add. It is the fervent hope from the common citizen that what we had can be found once again. And while the celebration of our independence is important, as we continue down the road we’re presently traveling it is a hollow celebration as the government continues to break the very laws of the land, and push us so ever closer to becoming the new USSR.

May America return to her roots and become what she once was. God Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)

A Personal Tragedy

Before beginning this week’s post I’d like the mention that the book, Unexpected, Unplanned, and into the Unknown, has been released to Amazon Scout. Here readers have a chance to read an excerpt and rate the story. If enough are positive then Amazon will publish it under their own label. Here is the link, if any are interested please check it out. https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/QINQQURWHJS3

With this title, A Personal Tragedy, one would think that it refers to something that happened to me personally, but this tragedy was something I witnessed which took place over a period of time. At the time of the incident and what followed I worked in a small rural community. In these places people have a tendency to know each other, and if you are one who works in one of the businesses one has a chance to meet everyone. It isn’t unusual to find unlocked doors, and people always willing to help others in the community. In a sense my book “The Woman in the Snow” reflects this kind of committment that is common in these communities.

If we want to be honest, somewhere in our lifetime we will either be a part of a tragedy, be a witness to one, or know someone who had a tragic incident in their own lives. Many times these tragedies involve death bringing to us the truth that none of us get out of this world alive. I know as a child I thought it would be nice to know when one would die, after all it did seem like it was important. With as much life behind me as I’ve had (and it’s been said many times, time is precious) I now disagree. If we know when, we would never accomplish what we do in our lives with that final date staying in the forefront and dominating our thoughts.

Overall the community had a mix of people, with many living here being retired. Others commuted to work into the larger communities to the west, and a few actually worked the land. This meant we have farmers, ranchers, young families, older families, many singles, and retirees. Very similar to any community be it large or small. Mostly everybody got along. Still in such a setting there were issues, and many times such issues were large enough to polarize the community. Still overall it was no different than any of the small communities (or large ones) that exist in this country.

For a period of time we even had a small local newspaper, but eventually it disappeared and is no more. If one was driving the road that went through the main part of town, the town would be easy to miss. It had gates to many of the ranches, and if you were driving east the first building that would mark that you might be entering a rural community was the fire department – a simple volunteer unit. Then for a short time there would be nothing. The next one to show would be the Post Office followed by a combination restaurant and grocery store, and across from this would be a state fire station. Once past these you would be heading out of town and on to whatever your destination would be. In others words, if you blinked you’d miss it completely.

Yet, if you had turned off onto the one main road back into the community you would find a library, the local school and the many roads that led to where most lived. It was back in this area where the tragedy took place. For any of us who are from such areas there really is much that happens that is never heard about outside of the community. That doesn’t mean it has less of an impact or doesn’t influence those who are involved, because it does. It is no more or no less important for any who happen to live in the largest cities in this nation where such could be reported.

Part of the draw for those who are looking for more than cities provide is the freedom and openess of the lands. It, over all, is a harder lifestyle, and not all can live it. Many need to be surrounded by people to feel safe and secure while others feel less people the better. I have seen some who have moved into these rural communities from the cities and only after a few months run screaming back to the crowds, swearing they’d never return.

A young family lived back on one of the dirt roads and their son was out riding the family’s ATV, after receiving permission to do so. As most kids who have something powerful at their control he was going too fast down the dirt road he was traveling and ran into another vehicle coming from the opposite direction. It killed him and threw the family into turmoil, which is no surprise. After all it is said, and for good reason, “No parent should outlive their child”.

Statistics say that the loss of a child can lead to the breakup of the parents. And unfortunately it did in this case. I was friends with both of them and shared in their tragedy. They tried to keep it together but the “what if’s”, the blame game, and so many other factors that were never revealed eventually led to their breakup. In many ways in this world of failed marriages no one would look at another one and consider the whys. “Just move on”, would be stated. “After all there are many out there who would love to share your life.”

Maybe so, but if this tragedy ended here, then maybe we could say, after the healing, if such is possible, that they moved on and found others to replace their loss. Still in this situation such didn’t take place. As far as the woman she eventually left the community and nothing was ever heard from her again.

And before I continue I have to mention another similar tragedy that happened in the same community. In this case the child was an adult and actually had been in the Navy. Driving home one night he crashed his vehicle and died from the injuries. The mother had difficulty dealing with the tragedy, which is completely understandable. Eventually the area brought too many bad memories and she moved away only to continue to fight the demons she faced. Any of us who face similar situations may try and find such a solution. The major problem with this is the fact we cannot run away from us. It is we who carry the emotions, the history, the memories, and a change of location will not change what is part of us. Until we can learn to deal with ourselves we will not escape our situation or problems.

Back to the ones we are following: Eventually he moved away but his life turned self-destructive. From a promising future, to the loss of his son, to the break up of his marriage, it all left scars he couldn’t cope with. He changed jobs, became involved with a series of flings, and somewhere along his personal timeline couldn’t deal with what happened and took his own life. In a sense this enlarged the original tragedy.

So they went from a loving family and in a short period of time back to only one with death taking two of them. Could any of this been prevented? I’m sure the two of them asked themselves that too many times to count when they learned of the death of their son. And I’m sure the blame game became prominent. Still the point we all must face is that our lives can change in an instant. And from that point on what we face and the direction of our lives is forever changed. Yes we can look back and wish and hope that things could be different but none of us can go back and change the past.

All of us are stuck with what we have in our present, and if it wasn’t the direction we had planned, or had set goals to reach, then we must adjust or like him give up and die. We are only given one chance, one life to live. And many times what we are given is difficult, and at times seems impossible. And while we may never face such a tragedy in our lives, that doesn’t mean we won’t face some type of hardship. All of us have setbacks, and all of us have unexpected events that change us forever. In the end it is what we do with these events that will define who we are. God Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)

Voice Acting – Bringing a Story Alive

As far as voice acting, I’m looking at this from a personal view, and delving into a little history and background as I progress from the time before voice acting existed in the gaming worlds (as long as we’ve had sound, voice acting has existed in TV, animated shorts and movies) to now where it is critical. (If one wants to be honest, even with the power of the modern computer RPGs still use dialogue trees that must be read. In a sense this is understandable considering the size of these worlds, the number of characters, the subplots, side quests, and random chaos that populates these worlds.) In fact one could purchase the “voice add-on” to those early games, something that would add a little more depth, but again even here it was short and sweet with no synchronization between words and mouth movements:

For any who follow this blog you are aware that I’m a gamer as well as a writer, obviously a blogger, and am retired. I’ve been dealing with computers since the early 90’s (and maybe even the late 80’s), from those good old days of DOS. It was here that I was sucked into the world of computer gaming (Anybody remember the Wing Commander series from Origin? If not this one then their big one which I never played, Ultima with “Lord British”.). Most games in those days simply had the script written as the systems were not powerful enough to drive all aspects of what we take for granted today. Probably it would surprise many that a large game “back in the day” could be counted in megabytes, not the gigabytes of the modern game worlds of today. In fact if you pushed over 25 megabytes you’d be using half your existing hard drive that came with the system at the time. With RAM existing at 2 to 4 megabytes, again instead of gigabytes, and the cost for those megabytes of RAM was exceedingly expensive, pushing the price of those early systems to over two grand. No soundcards, requiring any sounds to go through the single tinny speaker that was part of your system (all this you added later if you could afford it). And we cannot forget that there were no CD’s, DVD’s didn’t exist yet, so everything came on floppy disks either in the 1.2 megabyte, 5 1/4 inch or 1.44 megabyte 3 1/2 inch variety. Hard drives, yeah anything over 300 megs doubled in cost, and the average system came with less than 100, with the common size being around 40 megs, (And to be honest can any of us forget about the boot disks we created so we could take advantage of every megabyte of RAM). So in those early days because of the limitations voice acting wasn’t considered or thought as necessary.

Of course before any of this can take place there has to be a writer, or many writers. Without the writer there is no story, no characters, no direction, no world, nothing. Just a void where there is potential but unformed. Until that story is put to paper – whether that paper is electronic, using the modern word processor, an old typewriter, or pen to paper – nothing can go forward. Many times we find the stories that become our entertainment were originally novels. Other times the stories are specifically written for the media. If it is a book then others take over and write the script that allow the story to translate to the big screen, your TV, or into the game world. Until then it is only words on a page.

Words that as a reader we bring alive within our minds as we see the story unfolding in images within ourselves. And since this is the process it is probably why we are disappointed when one of our favorite stories becomes a movie, or a series, or something visual. In our mind’s eye the story will always be richer than someone else’s translation. And, to be honest, the creators must cut and change the story somewhat so that it will work within the media of their choice. My novels range in size from around two hundred pages to as high as five hundred. Even on the short end of this the story is too long for the big screen since each page equals approximately a minute of time. So even the shortest would be over three hours long.

Once all this work is accomplished the script is turned over to the ones who will bring it alive. If it will be using live actors then the director will be able to work with the real actors who then act out the scenes in the director’s vision of the story. Of course if we are talking animated shorts, or animated full length movies then things change. Of course this applies to the game worlds also. Here the difference lies in the volume of what must be translated into the game world. In other words the script for a game is much larger than an animated movie. Again, as in a story where the actors are there acting out the script with a director making sure it goes as planned, there is a director working with the voice actors.

Here it is up to the collaboration to make the script come alive. To make the ones who are using the product to be immersed in the world they are creating and not to do something that immediately destroys that immersion. Once that moment happens it is over. Bad voice acting will kill a good story or game world as quickly as poor writing, interface, or poor game design and world creation. Maybe because I’m older, or because I’m a writer I have a tendency to notice these things. And many times I do pause as I marvel at the success of a scene in front of me because of the way the voice actor brought what I’m witnessing alive.

One that comes immediately to mind is from an old game series, F.E.A.R.. For those unfamiliar with the game it is a standard FPS (First Person Shooter) wrapped up in horror, well done, and dark. The first two including expansions (as they were known then, we know them as DLC’s today) are great games, with superb voice acting. And to this day I have one of those lines from that game that remains with me. It’s not because the words are profound. No, it’s because the voice actor nailed it. Where the fictional character was, the situation she was in, and the realization that her chance of survival was minimal were all in those five words. And in print they will never have the same impact, the feeling of despair, of hopelessness that the actor portrayed in those five words. She simply said, “You’re not coming are you . . .”

Presently I’m playing Fallout 4, a gift from my sons for Christmas this year. Simply stated Fallout 4, and all the Fallout games are post apocalyptic worlds. I have to admit I enjoyed Fallout 3 and all the DLC’s that came with that game, ( I have to include the many mods I tried that helped to extend the life of the game). Yet this one (Fallout 4) is far deeper and, of course, with the passing time, the ability to present a fictional world has improved, meaning what is seen is closer to reality. (I marvel at the AI as I watch teams of antagonists work together in a firefight advancing and retreating, using available cover and shifting their location if their position is bad, all according to the battle they are in.) And the script overall had to be huge. What adds to this realism is the small vignettes within the game world. These short stories of tragedies from the past being transmitted over the emergency air waves asking, begging, or pleading for help. Making you as the main character want to track down these signals to see if you can help. Are they in the present, or has it happened a long time ago? Until you investigate you won’t know. If the voice acting hadn’t been spot on, if the voice actors had simply been reading the words the impact wouldn’t be there, and it would mean nothing, simply being a side note taking one away from immersion in the story, from this fictional world.

So in any of these fictional worlds where avatars are filling in for the real world and real actors it is that voice actor that brings these worlds and characters to life. If the actors hadn’t nailed Shrek, or Po, or any of the other avatars in those animated movies would they be as popular today, or would they be in some bargain bin collecting dust? And it is the same within the game worlds. Without those voice actors doing the great job of translating the written word much of what we enjoy wouldn’t exist. (On a side note we now have audio books that require a higher degree of voice acting to bring those books alive.) Of course what precedes this is that written word, still . . . In conclusion I must say, “Here’s to the voice actors and the worlds they bring alive. Without them we’d be living in a less imaginative and less colorful world.” God Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)

 

Reconciliation, a New Ending

Reconciliation is the last episode of the novel, Unexpected, Unplanned, and into the Unknown. Again, as I wrote this novel, I was conscious of the word count. My novels usually run over 100,000 words and I have gone as high as 165,000, with them averaging around 118,000 words. Considering that the average length of a page, in words, varies between 300 to 350, it is rather simple to translate this into the number of pages a novel will have. And for publishers pages mean cost. And when they take on an unknown author they feel, from history, they will lose money on that debut novel. It is probably one of the reasons they usually deal in three book contracts knowing as the author becomes known they will generally make up that loss.

In this case this novel was submitted to a publisher who had become interested through PITMAD (I suspect this is short for Pitch Madness), which is presented on Twitter (and the only reason I signed up) up to four times a year. No query here, even though, if an agent or publisher becomes interested, you are still required to submit the standard materials – query, synopsis, and a certain number of pages of your novel. With its 140 character limit Twitter provides an interesting challenge to your ability to write, forcing you to present your novel in a few words and in such a way that it will interest agents and publishers in taking a chance.

Anyway, it is probably a mistake to approach any novel this way (looking at word count), and again, since my natural writing tendencies push my novels generally past that 100,000 word count, to shorten a story can be a problem. Still the one thing that is continually pushed or stressed, whether it’s at a conference, or through the many writing magazines, and help sites that are out there, is the word count limitation on that first or debut novel. It meant that my two protagonists didn’t have all the adventure and experience they should have and as a result, and this is only a guess, part of the reason for the rejection. Yet, because of the workload that agents and publishers face, most of the time, all you get is a form letter basically saying, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

It leaves the writer out in the cold, so to speak. Because of the vagueness of the rejection, you as a writer, have no idea what worked, what didn’t, what the publisher or agent loved or hated, or why, in the end, it was trashed. So all one can do is go back and see, from your own point of view, what the story lacked, and hope the next time you submit you’ve found that weakness and corrected it. Most of us “starving writers” must self-edit, and because we are up close and personal with the story, (and to be truthful after you’ve written it, and gone through it to make corrections and or revisions at least three times, and in some cases eight, nine, or ten times, you become quite tired of the story and are ready to quit.), it is easy to overlook something. So you turn in your materials and hope, and if you receive the standard rejection letter you are left in the dark. Such is the industry. Every great or ordinary writer out there faces these same challenges.

And since the most recent revisions I have submitted queries with nothing but those standard rejections. I’m still waiting on the last response, and if this one returns as a rejection, then I believe I’ll try the Amazon Scout submission route and see what happens. It’s another direction for unknown authors to try to get their book into print. Although in this case it is electronic print since it would become an EBook through Amazon.

And this is part of the reason I’ve used my blog as a way to present this novel, giving you the readers a chance inside the creative process, and allowing you inside the process of editing and revision, is to find out if you have enjoyed what I’ve presented. And I have to say that many of you have enjoyed the story from your response. So as I wrap it up here I’ll present the original ending followed by the new ending. Again, to show you the changes and how all of this is generally unseen, if you happen to pick up the novel to make it your own. So with this said is the conclusion, not only to Reconciliation, but to the novel, Unexpected, Unplanned, and into the Unknown:

The original:

So much had happened since then. And while those ignorant ones still existed inside of them, they now knew more than anyone in this world. Had even taken advantage of that new, to them, knowledge and had brought some payback to the raider clans. After the meal both of them continued to walk among the broken buildings remembering and talking about what they had done when this place still existed and was full of family, friends and townsfolk. It was then as if on cue both of them stopped and began to speak excitedly. Here Jay laughed and said, “After you, ma’am.”

“Well, thank you sir.” Again she laughed. “I guess we came up with the same idea, or at least I think we did. Look, we are only a few days out of The Deeps, which means we probably could use this place as a starting point.” She could see her brother smiling and nodding his head, encouraging her to continue. “Okay, we know that not only from the attacks made by the raiders, but other things happen to create orphans like us. So why not use this place as a gathering place to bring them all together. Make it a home where all orphans are welcome – even those young ones who may come from the raider clans. Only if they are young enough to not know the way of life that the raiders seem to prefer.

“Even though this place isn’t rich, one can still be comfortable here. And with The Deeps so close we can augment the protection to prevent a repeat of what happened here in the past. Not directly, of course, but here we could begin the reintroducing of the old technology. And after a time establish a hidden town by using ones from this one to establish it. From that one we could begin to send out teams to begin the spread of what we have. You know how to improve agriculture, shelters, roads, schools, and so much more. What do you think?”

Shaking his head as Jay smiled, he said, “I’m all for it. But it won’t be easy, in fact it’s probably quite hard. And I’m sure we’ll have many problems and issues to face. But, in the end I think it will be worth it. And by keeping The Deeps isolated and unknown, it will remain protected.”

And you know, that’s exactly what they did. (I italicized it here so that you would know this is a line that is deleted from the revision.) 

The revision (taking it a little further towards the end):

Nodding his head as Jay smiled, he said, “I’m all for it. But it won’t be easy – in fact it’s probably going to be quite hard. And I’m sure we’ll have many problems and issues to face. But, in the end I think it will be worth it. And by keeping ‘The Deeps’ isolated and unknown, it will remain protected.”

Epilogue

What were they? Both stretched their aching backs. They were in their fifties and both wondered where the years had gone. In so many ways when they looked back to that time when they had visited their destroyed village they had been naïve, and somewhat idealistic. The idea of rebuilding and bringing in orphans like themselves turned out to be so much more difficult than either ever imagined. Yet now Sandy was up and operating once again. Obviously not on the scale back before it had been destroyed, but enough that if both disappeared it would continue a slow growth. And yes while the core of the village had been orphans, now there were children from ones who had married.

Yes orphans were still brought in, given a place to start over, and begin their lives once again. And it was this that became common knowledge. But there had been an underlying secret goal that became known only to certain of the residents. And only a few knew the real truth. And yes, that town lost in the middle of the desert was coming to life once again as it became the place of learning of the old ways. To be able to join the ones there, one had to prove their worth in Sandy. Once that worth was proven only then would the truth be revealed and they would make the move. In the end, once Jay and Elsa passed on, a teacher, a “Keeper of Knowledge”, would be chosen from those who worked the hidden town – a place where teams went out into the known world to teach. And whoever this individual was would then move into “The Deeps” to continue the re-education of the world so that the old technology would be available to all. Yes, both realized there would always be problems, but that’s what kept it interesting, kept one on their toes.

Smiling at his sister as they stood there, he said, “I think it’s time we leave this to the young ones. I’m getting too old for this.”

She laughed, “You? Old? Never happen. Although I must admit my joints and body keeps trying to tell me something. And we are starting to see a little gray, although you won’t get me to admit to that.”

He shook his head and smiled. Elsa was still beautiful to him, and in truth together they had accomplished so much. Yeah, they wouldn’t live to see the changes they had begun, but it wouldn’t be that hard to see that it would happen.

Together they walked towards the gate. It was time to head back to “The Deeps”, at the finish of another day. He with his arm across her shoulders and her arm across his waist leisurely headed out through the gate past the guards. They smiled as they carried on a brief conversation with them before heading out towards the desert.

One of the guards looked as they disappeared. He shook his head. “I wonder where they go?”

The other laughed, “Now that’s their secret. And I think with all they’ve done for us they should be allowed that, don’t you?”

The other shrugged. He couldn’t disagree with what had been said.

* * *

And the revision brings closure to the story where the original ending could leave one wanting more. With the short epilogue the vision of the two is there, and while it’s obvious there will be bumps in the road sometime in the future, there is a chance to bring back what is lost. And there is a possibility of a sequel which I’ve started. Yet, for now it’s setting on the “backburner” so to speak as I wrap up the novel I’m presently writing. Then I must put away this creative fervor for a while as I have four, yeah count them, four books or novels to edit and revise. And this will be a full time job probably taking at least a year to accomplish, if not longer.

I have a trilogy that I want to get out there as I love my characters, and feel others will love the story. Again, like this one, it is post apocalyptic with six protagonists, with the story taking place thousands of years after the event. Next week we take a brief break from the story telling before I begin to present, in similar format, the first book of the published Survival trilogy. (They are standard chapter books.) The novels are titled, Time of Isolation, Desperate to Survive, and A Taste of History Past. Have a great week and God Bless! (http://www.fdbrant.com)

 

A Few Thoughts

Before I get into this week’s commentary I’d like to say that here in the USA today is Halloween. So as dusk approaches children will be out in their costumes going door to door saying those words that really have no meaning to them, “Trick or treat!” They know that by saying such they get a treat. And for those first timers, the really young out on their first foray into this magical night it always brings a smile when the light goes on, and suddenly with those two small words, on this one night, they can get these small gifts or treats. Watch out for them as they sometimes do not pay attention and will dart out into the streets. Let’s keep it a time of joy and magic for our young, and not a time of tragedy. And now on to the commentary:

Very few? As we get close to wrapping up this series of short stories or episodes I felt I would like to add a comment from my point of view as the author. Of course for those who have followed the series to this point know, these episodes are actually part of a book. I’m still looking for a home for the story, and have queries out. I’ll also be looking at Amazon, and #PITMAD which will be open for one day on December 4 of this year.

While all my works, or books are fiction, they do reflect our world. In this latest, Unexpected, Unplanned, and into the Unknown, I’d love to say that what we are reading is no more than fiction, and once we are finished and heading off into the real world that such doesn’t exist or happen. Unfortunately this is not the truth. We live in a world where violence is the way, and the wish for peace is great. Regional wars rage, warlords and their armies terrorize, rape, and murder, and we see much the same with the crime syndicates. Of course we can’t leave many governments, radicals, extremists, and terrorists out of this mix. It makes it appear that there is more of them, those prone to violence, than us.

Unfortunately when they destroy, many times, they create others looking for revenge, to get even for the atrocities committed against them, their families, and their homes. And in a sense who could really blame them? So it is no surprise to see Jay, and later Elsa wanting to bring heavy payback to the raiders who do this kind of thing. Tit for tat so to speak. Does such actions mean they are wrong? Does such actions mean they are right? For any of us on the outside it is easy to rationalize what we would want to do, or criticize those who face such tragedies when their actions are towards violence. And it seems it is more so (rationalization) for those who have suffered at the hands of others such as the ones stated above.

Again, as our population continues to grow on this small planet, and resources become less and less, eventually there will be fighting over what is available, and what is remaining. Since a region can only support so much, so goes a planet. And we are rapidly approaching a time when that limit will be reached. It’s not to say it will happen, as the trends appear to show a slowing of the growth.

This is one of the many reasons that writers like myself look to the far future, writing science fiction, reflecting one of the infinite futures that could lay ahead of us, which in the end may or may not become reality. In a past post I stated that the real problem we truly face isn’t the world around us, or the unknown obstacles that lie ahead, but we ourselves. We can always leave, change our location, explore space, find new worlds, but we will always be stuck with us.

Those tendencies of mankind, of cruelty, of selfishness, of hate and anger, or revenge seem prevalent. It’s not that we don’t have redeeming qualities because we do. Compassion, love, the helping of others, reaching out to strangers we’ve never met and giving all we can including our time, and many times our very lives are strong within us. It has always been a balancing act as to which side of us, as a species, will dominate. And for me I’ve always hoped it would be the side of good, of compassion, as stated here in this paragraph.

Yet, with the headlines, radio and TV, or the internet screaming terrorism, torture, murder and death, it is hard, at times, to realize that this other compassionate side exists. Still if we do not bring an end to our dark side then in the end it will not matter, because we will not be here. When we look to the universe, and its immense size, it becomes obvious there are others who have risen to intelligence on their worlds. And with the length of time that the universe has existed, again it becomes obvious that many have risen only to become extinct. We’ve seen large die offs, and extinctions here. So it is only natural to push what we’ve witnessed on our local planet, to the universe as a whole.

So as we follow Jay, Elsa, and yes even Ed, we can see our own world reflected through their eyes, through their reactions and actions. We can see the strengths and weaknesses that inhabit each and every one of us who exist now, have ever existed, and will exist in the future, until we are either no more, or have inhabited the stars. Spreading mankind’s seed to worlds throughout the milky way giving us a chance to become more than what we are presently.

Maybe to a time in the future where earth, our birth home will become no more than myth. And maybe this would be a good thing. I know from reading other sci-fi writers from the past that I’m not the only one who has looked to the far future and saw this possible outcome. Still as a writer we write our stories, and all such stories deal with the human condition. The worlds, the towns and cities, the countries, the wild lands are nothing more than the backdrops, the dressing, a simple place for these stories to be told as they have been for thousands of years.

So in a sense all of us who write fiction, who write novels, are taking from the many before us, making all of us plagiarist’s, since we are writing the same stories of adventure, love, loss, the fall of man, and his redemption from that fall. In other words our condition. And is this wrong? No. I say we need these stories to entertain, to inspire, and sometimes when the stories are dark, maybe grow. Grow beyond our infancy away from the mentality of villages – us against them. So here’s to the future – our future, and may it be great.

May there always be story tellers, weavers of myth and beauty, and yes even of our dark side. Otherwise we will end up with an old statement from our past when facing that unknown future: “There be monsters!”

* * *

Next week we begin the last of the episodes or short stories that constitute the book, Unexpected, Unplanned, and into the Unknown. In comparison to the previous episodes it is rather short (only 4 parts). Part of the reason for this is because I plan on submitting the manuscript to a publisher instead of publishing it myself as an indie author. I presently have 4 books published as an indie, which are listed on my website. Even though this one is actually the 8th book I’ve written, for it to be considered by a publisher as a”debue or first” novel the word count must be kept down. It meant that I had to shorten the story somewhat and reduce my word count by roughly 30,000 words.

Does the story suffer because of this? No, it is complete as it stands. Still by doing this I’m taking a chance that it will work. There are many areas in this story that would have had fuller explanations, more depth, and more experience for our two main protagonists. Still I am happy with the outcome and direction the story took. And I even can be satisfied with the way it ends. In some ways it begs for a sequel, a second book. And believe it or not I have actually started one. Still it is sitting on the back-burner, so to speak, as I work on another titled, A World Apart, which is a little over half way written –  this being the first draft, of course. Once this one is complete and the editing done, I will probably move back to the sequel, presently titled, The Keeper of the Knowledge.

Still, in the end, time will tell, as I have 2 additional manuscripts started besides these two mentioned in the previous paragraph. They have titles of, And the Rains Came, and, Dreams. So if nothing else I have many stories and ideas to keep me busy for years to come. Still, as I have stated a number of times, I’m in my 60’s, and some day the creative well will dry up. At least I can say, even if it took retiring, I have been able to reach and accomplish one of my dreams or goals. And I have made my original goal of writing 8 novels, so what more could one ask, other than having readers enjoying the stories? Have a great week and see you here for the first part of the final episode titled, Reconciliation. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

%d bloggers like this: