Thursday, December 13, 2012

How many licks does it take?

Remember that Tootsie Pop commercial with the owl: Mr. Owl, how many licks does it take to get the center of a Tootsie Pop.

One.

Two.

Three.

Crunch.

Three!

That same question can be asked of writing, and in fact, of most goal-oriented things in general. I will stick with writing, but take your pick with sculpting, acting, directing, painting, weight-loss, scholastics, and so on.

How many edits does it take to write a book?

My answer, based on experience: A LOT.

First you suffer through an early draft, maybe peck out a few scenes. Then you get 10k or 25k into it, and throw it all away and start over.

Then you get 50kw into it and realize how thin it is, and that you need to add in a plot-line, or a story-point, or hash out a character.

And so you rewrite, get to 75k, and start submitting to agents and publishers!

Wrong. Now you need to let it simmer. I hate that part, but do it. I let mine simmer for a week or a month. Then go back and brutalize yourself and rip and cut and tear at that story until it is a manageable manuscript.

Now you might be ready to submit. Maybe. Depends on how you feel about it. Some may require more work, but for God's sake, at some point you need to QUIT and SUBMIT! And move on to the next project.

If it's accepted, which good stories can find good homes these days, you'll hit the editor-wall, and that will take five or six more edits. Then you get the copy-editor. Then layout. Then, well, maybe, hopefully, then you hit ctrl-P (Print) and off it goes to the world.

I lose count, but I figure I read the stories ten or fifteen times, altogether. That's a lot of reading! Put back-to-back, I bet it's equivalent to eight or ten full 40-hour workweeks, done part-time, since I still have a day job.

Anyway, that's how many licks it takes me to get the center of my Tootsie Pop. Don't rush it like Mr. Owl, or you'll ruin the surprise.

What about you? How far away is the center of your Tootsie Pop?

- Eric


Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently working on his second full-length novel with WiDo Publishing. See more of Eric's work here: Publications ** ARE YOU AN ORGAN DONOR? ERIC IS! **

Friday, November 30, 2012

When you edify everyone, the all become dim

When you edify everyone, the all become dim.

Do you fully understand what I mean by edify? Let's use a bakery example, and a girl named Mary Jane.

Why Mary Jane? Because I'm listening to this song right now, off the Judgment Night soundtrack.

Anyway, Mary Jane works in a bakery, and she decides to sample each item in the cabinet and write a review on her blog.

She samples a cheesecake and writes on her blog that this is the most fantabuliscious cheesecake she has EVER HAD! OMG, it is orgasmic.

She next samples a yellow sponge cake, and posts it is so good she wants to smear it on her boyfriend and eat it off, LOL.

MJ then tries a chocolate mousse, of which she writes, and I quote: OMG, this is so good I want to make a man out of it, marry that man, and have his chocolate children. I would so eat my kids! LMAO.

Anyway, maybe you're getting the picture. She edifies ~everything~ to the point that her five-star rating becomes meaningless.

The people I trust the most are the ones who are willing to give a bad review. This is especially true for us as authors, and as edifiers, and as publicists.

So hold onto your five-star rating. Praise the effort, and don't be mean or cruel, but be honest when you appraise the result. Sometimes a one-star rating is what it takes to set someone on the right path! Nothing will sober you up like a bad grade, if you get me.

- Eric



Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently working on his second full-length novel with WiDo Publishing. See more of Eric's work here: Publications ** ARE YOU AN ORGAN DONOR? ERIC IS! **

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Accepted: Dark Southern Horror-Thriller

My latest novel, a dark southern horror-thriller, was accepted by WiDo Publishing, slated for release in 2013. I am undergoing edits with Summer Ross, who you may recognize as the author/blogger/editor over at My Inner Fairy.

The book's title is still in working, so I won't mention it here, but I will say the book was an easy write for me, one of those that flows like breathing. With Summer's help, which has been outstanding, I hope to make this a popular novel that widens my market, and touches readers I never thought I could reach.

I will also be featured for the fourth time in An Honest Lie 4: Petulant Parables from Open Heart Publishing, slated for release in 2013. This is a dark southern short story called "The Man in the Long Black Coat," inspired by the song of the same name. (Yes, I have the Heroes soundtrack.) I now have batted 1,000 with the AHL series, placing one story in each of their anthologies, as well as landing an editorial position with them.

I'm starting to really find my niche-voice, and tone, and theme, and genre. I keep gravitating to supernatural horror, and science fiction, all of it within a home-style southern setting.

My next working draft is, I am surprised to say, an Armageddon piece, with a dark southern horror-thriller undertone. I won't discuss it much, other than to say it is ~not~ like the other books out there, nor is it a "zombie" book. It will be written with character-driven realism, with simple plotting and verbiage, populated with people you know and love and live next to, and will probably land somewhere just south of McCarthy's The Road, but with the fantasy undertones of Bradbury, and the punch-gut wit and honesty of Vonnegut, both of whom I have been reading lately.

I suppose we all have an End-of-the-World, SHTF (Shit Hits the Fan) book in us at some point, right? Have you written or read a good SHTF book lately?

Hope your holidays are going well. See you on the flip-side.

- Eric


Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently working on his second full-length novel with WiDo Publishing. See more of Eric's work here: Publications ** ARE YOU AN ORGAN DONOR? ERIC IS! **

Friday, November 2, 2012

Donate to the Super Hero Project for Organ Donation

As many of you know, in May, my family lost our 18 month old son and baby brother, Dastan, to a seizure brought on by a viral infection. We donated his organs. His heart and liver went to little girls, and his kidneys went to a 69 year old woman.

That's Dastan -- DAZ -- in the video, dancing with us just a couple of weeks before he passed. He LOVED those Batman Crocs.

video






We have been blessed by an overwhelming response from family and friends who support us not only in our time of grieving, but in looking forward to the cause of Organ Donation.

We are establishing a non-profit to begin work with organ donors, with a goal of providing assistance for donor families, who are left with many of the same bills as a recipient family, and must further bear the loss of a loved one.

Our first event is the Walk for Hope on Saturday, November 3, at Meadowmere Park in Grapevine, TX. So much thanks goes out to our friend Kim Wolfe, who has organized funding for the walk, and to my wife, Amanda, who has tirelessly pushed to get this moving forward. Both of them are forging partnerships that will make this foundation a huge success, and a brilliant reality.

You may not know this, but donors are in no way compensated for their loss. It is, in fact, ~illegal~, to reimburse donor families. Here is a good article, if you are up for some reading:

http://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/465739

It is our goal to provide a little assistance to the families, in the form of a donation, to help with such things as funeral costs, residual medical bills, counselling, and other expenses associated with the loss of a loved one.

Below is a way you can donate to our charity. The money will be used to cover legal costs associated with establishing the foundation, and start-up capital to help us forge partnerships with larger entities. Any residual donations will, once we are established, be legally disbursed to donor families, which is our end-goal.




If you would like to add the button to your website, here is the code:


<form action="https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr" method="post">
<input name="hosted_button_id" type="hidden" value="TN8LW9PPY4UXS" />
<input alt="PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!" border="0" name="submit" src="https://www.paypalobjects.com/en_US/i/btn/btn_donateCC_LG.gif" type="image" />
<img alt="" border="0" height="1" src="https://www.paypalobjects.com/en_US/i/scr/pixel.gif" width="1" /></form>

LIKE us on FACEBOOK, here: Super Hero Foundation

- Eric


Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently represented by Debrin Case at Open Heart Publishing. See more of Eric's work here: Publications

** ARE YOU AN ORGAN DONOR? ERIC IS! **

Sunday, September 23, 2012

How to get started

A friend's daughter (junior high) recently asked me this via FB: I am writing a book in third person and wondering what are the best ways to start.

My answer is below. Take it or leave it, but I think I did a bang-up job of summarizing some very large topics.

How to get started writing your book


Wow, that's a big question. I like 3rd person POV (Point-of-View) the best. It gives you a lot of options you don't have in 1st person.

Next you need to decide on TENSE. Will you use past or present? For instance, past tense is like this: "He walked to the store."

Present tense is this: "He walks to the store."

I use past, but lots of young adult (YA) books use the present tense. I think the Hunger Games series uses present tense, I could be wrong.

After tense, you need to decide on TONE. Will it be a fun tone, serious, or something in-between? Think about tv shows, how some are comedies, some are dramas, some are action, and so on. That's the tone, and you need to decide what tone to use. Pick one, and STICK TO IT for the whole book.

Now that you have the POV (Point-of-View, 3rd person), TENSE, and TONE, you need to develop a quick one or two sentence TOPIC of the book. What is it about? Hunger Games could be like this: "In a futuristic world governed by wealthy aristocrats, young citizens are forced to fight to the death."

It needs to be quick and dirty, and you need to put it at the top of your first page. Read that sentence every time you sit down to write.

Repeat: Read that sentence EVERY TIME you sit to write. It is all you focus on.

It may just be a title. For instance, "Hunger Games" says a lot about the book, and would be a great hook to reference.

The hook, or TOPIC, gives you as the author something to hook into each time you sit to write, and it keeps you consistent. Anything that is ~not~ related to the TOPIC gets deleted.

That's how you start. Some people will draft an outline, others will just start writing. Me, I just start writing. You may like to plot, and then write.

So long as you honor your POV, TENSE, TONE, and TOPIC, and stay consistent on every paragraph of every page, you'll produce something spectacular.

You may choose a target length for the book. 100pp is a good start, which would put you at about 25,000 words (there should be about 250 words per page on your draft). Set up your Word document for double-space text, 12pt Courier New. Use one space to separate sentences, and use a paragraph format that automatically indents the first line of each paragraph. Do not double-space between paragraphs like you do in emails (and like I do here). That is standard format for a manuscript.

A target daily word count goal is ONE page no matter what, and as many as you can get after that. Finish the book first, and then edit it afterwards. What I mean is this: After you write a page, go onto the next page. Don't get too hung up on fixing problems, because you will get that during revision and edit later.

Wishing you luck, and let me know if you need anything else. Always glad to help.

- Eric

What did I miss?



Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently represented by Debrin Case at Open Heart Publishing. See more of Eric's work here: Publications

** ARE YOU AN ORGAN DONOR? ERIC IS! **

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Do you feel LUCKY?

This is a post on LUCK and how it applies to writing.

Let me start with the famous quote from Mr. Eastwood:

I know what you’re thinking: "Did he fire six shots, or only five?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well do ya, Punk?

Ask yourself that question: Do you feel LUCKY?

As a writer, much of our success is determined by luck. I don't have the numbers, but I bet luck makes up better than 70% of whether we are published at all, and the number goes up from there as you chase larger and larger publishers.

If you don't believe luck plays a huge role, then you have not been paying attention. King is famous for his ~wife~ submitting his breakout novel Carrie, in a unique manner, to someone who just happened to read it and appreciate it. How lucky is that!

Well, this post is about creating your own luck.

HOW TO GENERATE YOUR OWN LUCK

There are two ingredients to luck. The first is Persistence. Every time you try, you play the odds that you might get lucky (and land that publisher!). As you try less and less, your luck approaches zero, until at last you quit, and the chance of you being lucky is now an absolute zilch.

So Persist! Keep trying! My goal with writing is not to get published. My goal is to write until I die, or no longer have the mental and physical capacity to write. I hope at some point I will be picked up by a large publishing house, but I cannot control that event. All I can do is keep trying, keep trying, keep trying.

Which I will.

The second ingredient to luck is Intelligence! If all you do is Persist in the same way, over and over, you will never increase your luck chances. Instead, Persist in a SMARTER way each time.

If your book is not getting picked up, write another book. Make it better. Invest in some How-To books on writing, publishing, editing, and so forth. You are an expert on any topic if you read at least 5 books on that topic.

Are you an expert on writing? I am, a couple times over. Most published authors are.

Persist with Intelligence.

If you question that these are the two ingredients of luck, I want you to watch The World Series of Poker sometime.

These gamblers Persist by coming back to the table over and over, win or lose. They also are Intelligent about their craft.

Nobody argues that Poker requires luck, but as every Poker player will tell you: It isn't "gambling" if you know what you're doing.

The point is this: If you Persist Intelligently, luck will find you! You ~can~ beat the odds.

For my current novel, which I am querying, I plan to collect 30 rejections. Maybe one or two will result in a full-read, and maybe one will land a contract. This is Persistence.

I am also researching not only agents and publishers, but also studying for my next novel, and polishing up my editing skills (as always, keep the axe sharp!). This is Intelligence.

If you Persist Intelligently, if you are Intelligently Persistent, you ~will~ eventually find that luck that so many have missed.

Keep the faith.

Do you Persist Intelligently? Name a success of yours, a time when you earned a Blue Ribbon 1st Place, and tell me you didn't get there with Persistent Intelligence. I dare ya, Punk.



Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently represented by Debrin Case at Open Heart Publishing. See more of Eric's work here: Publications

** ARE YOU AN ORGAN DONOR? ERIC IS! **

Friday, August 24, 2012

The POWER of Positive Thinking

Let me tell you, folks, that positive (+) and negative (-) thinking possess powerful attractions.

(+) will attract the RIGHT energy.

(-) will attract the WRONG energy.

Both of them will make things happen on their own terms.

Let me give you an example of a (+) thought: I write for a living. I support myself and my family with my writing.

The same thought in (-) is this: I am a struggling writer. Large houses do not want good authors like me.

Another example of a (+) thought: I eat healthy. I weigh xxx lbs. I exercise daily.

The same thought, (-): I am a fat pig. No matter what I do, I can't lose weight!

ALL of these statements are BLATANTLY FALSE! And yet they will lead you down their respective paths until they become true. Do you see what I mean here? If not, put on your thinking caps and read those statements again.

I challenge you in the comments to put a (+) thought about something in your life. It can be family, professional, writing, acting, poetry, singing, speaking, weight-loss, or anything else. But make it (+).

And see my latest author interview, DEBUT AUTHOR PHILLIP TWINING!



Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently represented by Debrin Case at Open Heart Publishing. See more of Eric's work here: Publications

Friday, August 17, 2012

Please say Hello to Author DL Hammons!

Please say Hello to first-time Author DL Hammons! His debut short story, "Itinerary", will be published in Open Heart Publishing's An Honest Lie Volume 4: Petulant Parables. He comes to us through, well, let me let him tell you how he found Open Heart Publishing.

Donna Hole [a blogging friend], who is one of the authors included in this anthology, had one of her stories included in a previous volume of An Honest Lie and when she was spreading the news about that book she suggested that [writers] who were looking for ways to get their writing out there, submit to Open Heart. I took her up on the suggestion and here I am.

Well, I for one am very happy you found us. Donna came through us the same way, via me, so there is definitely something to be said for networking as an upcoming author. Can you tell us about your blogs?

I've maintained a writers blog since 2009 and its addrress is: http://dlcruisingaltitude.blogspot.com/

My Twitter account is: DL_H

I've held off establishing a Facebook Author page until I was actually published, so that is on the horizon shortly.

Outstanding. You have over a thousand followers on your blog, which is a lot of support from your online community. How about at home? Do your friends and family support your writing?

Everyone in my family, including my extended family, is totally behind all of my writing pursuits. I bounce plot idea's off my wife before I write word one, then she's my number one critique partner while I'm writing. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law, both avid readers, are next in line for critiques. The entire family has devoted long car rides taking turns reading my novel out loud to catch needed edits. I've developed and practiced my elevator pitch for hours with my daughter. My family is behind me 110%!

Wow. You're a lucky man to have so many devoted family members. Two questions: 1) Can you give us your elevator pitch for said novel? 2) What have you learned most about hearing someone else read your story aloud?

1) Elevator pitch: I like to compare my novel - FALLEN KNIGHT - to a hybrid between David Baldacci’s The Camel Club and a adult version of The Goonies. It revolves around small group of tight-knit friend’s quest to find the person responsible for beating one of their own into a coma. Teaming up with a female private investigator they are soon drawn into a murderous plan involving a copy-cat Columbine attack and a bio-terrorist threat targeting our nation’s capital. In over their heads they come to doubt themselves, their purpose, and most importantly, their safety, but there is one thing they will never doubt...each other.

2) Having someone else read your writing aloud to you really helps spot those area's that are clunky, needing more work to smooth out the flow. Even though you've gone over your manuscript a hundred times, they stick out like a sore thumb when read aloud. It's also great way to pick up on plot details that need more context.

Love the pitch for Fallen Knight! How about you personally? Tell us about how you grew up.

I was raised a military brat. Sandwiched between an older and younger brother with one other younger sister, both of our parents were in the Navy. Mom became stay-at-home when us kids started coming along, and we all found our own ways to deal with the constant moves and adapting to new environments that life in the military demands. Space was always an issue with military housing, but whenever the possibility arose I always had my own room because I kept my space the neatest. My wife now wonders whatever happened to that trait!

Sounds like you traveled quite a bit as a child. Where was your favorite place to live (as a child), and why?

This was a tough choice. We lived in Sheboygan Wisconsin to be near my Mom's family when my dad was in Vietnam, and I have very special memories from our time there. But I'm going to choose Havelock, North Carolina, for a couple reasons. First, we were stationed there for my entire four years of high school, so it has a special place in my heart. The second reason is that I just really loved the diversity of North Carolina. In thirty minutes and I could be laying on the beach catching rays, or a couple of hours in the other direction I could be hiking in the mountains.

Sounds like quite an adventurous and noble childhood. Let's talk about your writing style, now. Which is more important: That you make the reader see your viewpoint, or that you make the reader see theirs?

A combination of both. I hope that my writing elicits feelings within the reader that mirror the ones in me when I wrote it, but I'm constantly amazed at the depths some readers can see. The sub-conscious evels at play I wasn't even aware of when I write that their unique life experiences allow them access to.

That's an acute observation. I find that readers often see things in my writing that I never consciously intended. Part of being a writer is self-discovery. Which is more important: Writing without constraint, or within the confines of a publisher's guidelines?

They are equally important. We cannot grow as writers and improve our craft if we're constrained by whatever borders that exists. However, a publisher knows their market, their targeted readers, and what bodies of work will serve them best. Not staying within a publisher's guidelines is detrimental to them both, and ultimately the writer.

Well, I'll conclude on that remark -- which every writer should make note of -- and say THANK YOU to DL Hammons for taking the time to answer my questions. I have known him for quites some time in the blogosphere, and now through OHP. I know readers are as anxious as I am to read his debut story "Itinerary", in An Honest Lie Volume 4: Petulant Parables.

BIO: D.L. enjoys taking a break from writing technical journals and procedure manuals for his regular job and crafting an occasional short story or novel. Son of a military family, he grew up across the southeast and ultimately graduated with a Business degree from Louisiana State University. After a stint working in the big city (Atlanta), he packed up his family and settled in central Arkansas to be closer to family. His love for writing was seeded in high school where he wrote both news and feature articles for the school paper, but it wasn’t until his children began heading off to college that he found the time to resurrect his passion for prose. Although his novels fall mostly into the Mystery/Suspense vein, his short stories run the entire gamut of genres. Itinerary is his first published work.


Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently represented by Debrin Case at Open Heart Publishing. See more of Eric's work here: Publications

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Zen in the Face of Rejection

Here's a little story I shall make up as I type. It is about REJECTION, and how to handle it.

Let's say a woman named Bethany wants to become a writer. Those who know her call her Bethy.

Bethy writes a short story for a writing class. She receives a tart response from the professor. "Far too much detail. I could hardly read it. C-minus."

Undeterred, she writes another short story and shows it to her sister. "Not my kind of story," the sister says. "I couldn't finish. It was boring."

Still unshaken, Bethy writes another short story and this time shows it to a friend who also writes. The friend laughs at her, and offers a bitter critique. "You need to take a writing class," the friend says, which makes Bethy think of the tart professor.

This troubles Bethy, and she quits writing forever, and secretly blames these people for discouraging her.

The End.


ALTERNATE ENDING: EXTENDED (HD) CUT, $6.00 rental through On-Demand ONLY


After Bethy's friend tells her to take a writing class, Bethy goes on a weekend binge with her good buddy Jack Daniel's. Jack tells her to MAN UP, and informs her this phrase is not at all sexist, that even women should man up from time to time, just as a man should find his feminine side.

So she tells Jack she will suck it up, not man it up, and stops showing her early work to everyone.

She writes ten short stories, alone, and edits each one. As she writes, she reads a few books on editing, and polishes her grammar, which, to her surprise, is not spelled grammer, nor is Kindergarten spelled Kindergarden. She learns to differentiate its and it's, and how to weed out weasel words and cliche phrases such as weed out, and so on.

She reads great authors, and analyzes their style. She tries to be like those authors, and writes a novel.

The novel is horrible, and is completely un-editable.

So she burns it, and from the ashes raises another novel. This is not so bad, and she edits a little, and then writes another novel.

The third novel is starting to look presentable, and so she queries it. Bethy stacks up rejections from dozens of agents, and cannot get a response from any publishers large or small.

She shows it to her writer friend, who is still unpublished herself, and the friend laughs at her Kinko-printed manuscript. "Not bad," the friend says. "But I still wouldn't buy it. It's too boring in the middle part."

Bethy realizes her friend actually read the book, which constitutes a huge victory! She understands that a truly, truly horrible book will die unread after a few pages.

Bethy writes a fourth and fifth book without querying, still studying the craft of the novel, and polishing her editing skills. She has a great idea for another novel, but shelves it to write a sixth novel.

This sixth one is published by a small press. She earns $80 in royalties. She was put through the editing gauntlet, and now understands a bit about the publishing and marketing process, and what it really takes to write a salable novel.

She gives her friend, who is still unpublished, an autographed copy of the novel. The friend no longer laughs.

Her seventh novel she titles A Day in the Life of Someone More Interesting. She hires her small-press editor to edit the book for her. Then, her fourth query to an agent results in a full request, which later turns into a contract with a large publishing and distribution house.

She receives a $25,000 advance, and a three-book deal. She immediately begins work on her next novel, which she decides to research thoroughly, such that it is better than the one before.

And so on.

All this spans ten years. Bethy did not do it all overnight, but she did it night-over-night. She took rejection as a sign to improve, rather than quit and whine, and strove always to grow in her craft.

Bethy possesses Zen in the Face of Rejection.

Do you?



- Eric



Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently represented by Debrin Case at Open Heart Publishing. See more of Eric's work here: Publications

** ARE YOU AN ORGAN DONOR? ERIC IS! **

Thursday, July 5, 2012

And now, back to business. I am an EDITOR!

I am officially an Editor for Open Heart Publishing! Check out my introduction here:

http://anhonestliespeaks.blogspot.com/

I'm looking forward to getting back to work writing. I wrote a short story for An Honest Lie Volume 4: Petulant Parables, and I've been working on a novel, working title of Uncle Cooper's Dead-Eye.

My cousin said he really likes that last part, the title about Uncle Cooper. Gave him the creeps, he said, and he's not the sort to get creeped.

I'll be seeing you all shortly, as I get back into the swing. I can't thank you all enough for the prayers and support.

Thank you thank you.


- Eric



Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently represented by Debrin Case at Open Heart Publishing. See more of Eric's work here: Publications

** ARE YOU AN ORGAN DONOR? ERIC IS! **

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Prayer for Daz


For my wife, my love, and for my children, here is a prayer-poem written not by a stranger, but by Daddy, just for our Little Man.

For Dastan

Alrighty Almighty, you got my kid. I don't know if you took him, or if he came of his own free will, or if you needed him, or if this was just one of those suck-parts that come with life, but he's there and I'm here, and you're gonna have to get a few things straight.

First off, his name is Dastan. It's not Dustin, or Datsun, or Destin. It is DASTAN.

I know, it's a Persian name. To make it more complicated, we added two German names: Jerome Wheeler.

And to top it off, his last name is TRANT. Not Trent or Tramp. TRANT.

I know it's complicated, and if you get it right you'll be the first. I just want to make sure you understand who you're dealing with.

Next you need to teach him a few things. Start with his colors. He was learning them at school, and best we can tell he liked the color purple the best.

Now show him how to throw the ball for the dogs. He already had a good start on that, along with tug-of-war. You have a Golden up there who is perfect for Daz (Daz is short for Dastan, God, in case you missed that).

The Golden's name is Lexi. She died of raging cancer at the age of 9. Nice one. She loves the water, and guess what, so does Dastan. Teach him to throw the ball in the lake (I assume you have lakes), and let Lexi chase it. If it isn't now, it will be Daz's favorite game. It sure was Lexi's!

Now teach him to be sweet like his momma. Teach him to play like his brother and sister.

Teach him love, Lord, now that you have him. Let his legacy be a stronger family and a better world. Give us strength, let us mourn, and every once in a while, let us feel Little Man's arms around our neck.

That was another one of his names. Little Man. Dazaster. Dazaroo. Daz. His sister made a memorial t-shirt that you can read. It has a lot more names than those.

It is true to say the little guy was everything to everyone in this family. Let him be so to you, Lord, as I know he must be, because you love no other way.

I have a beautiful family, Lord, and a beautiful baby son who is in your care. I suppose your wingspan covers us all, God, but for Daz, for our Little Man, please, please.

Just please.

Until my heart stops beating, God, it will ache for him, and mine is not the only one. Make this good, Lord, please make this good.

Amen

PS. He loved Kermit the Frog. If you haven't already, get him one. He likes to chew on the nose.


- Eric



Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently represented by Debrin Case at Open Heart Publishing. See more of Eric's work here: Publications

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

If I can get through this


Here's my official song these days. This Friday will be four weeks since my son had his seizure. Friday will mark four weeks since, since, since everything.

This is my afterlife, the life after. This is our life beyond, for my family, and for those around us who were affected by my son's passing.

This is that life you imagine when someone says, "I can't imagine life without you."

Only we don't have to imagine, do we?

I keep singing this song. Some of the lyrics don't make a damned bit of sense, but they ring true, sort of like Pearl Jam's Yellow Ledbetter. You hear what you want to hear, what you need to hear.

In any case, I am making progress on my current WiP. I have written almost 10kw since last week. They have been hard words, and I don't know if they are flat or vibrant, but they are on paper, by God, at least in the electrical metaphorical sense of "being on paper."

I am making forward progress. I am moving upward, up up up, always up.

And if I can get through this, I can get through anything, by God.

I mean, what have I to fear when my greatest fear is passed?

Answer: Not a goddamned thing. I face God's own pain, the one He touts as His greatest gift to mankind, and I say: Hey God, my son was only eighteen months old. Yours was a middle-aged man who everyone thought was a lunatic. You got yours back after three short days, but mine isn't coming back, not by my hand, at least.

So what else you got, Old Man? Bring it. Whatever fear I had, left with my son's last breath.

Wishing you all the best. Your prayers and heartfelt thoughts are physical.


- Eric



Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently represented by Debrin Case at Open Heart Publishing. See more of Eric's work here: Publications

Friday, June 8, 2012

Premoniscient Writing

Just realized "premoniscient" is not a word! Premonition is, as is pronunciamento (proclamation), but premoniscient is not in the dictionary.

Am I spelling it correctly?

Moving along.

Have you ever written something that was premoniscient? You went back later, read it, and realized you lived the story after you wrote it?

I have done that twice.

The first was my first book, circa 2001. It involved divorce, and was written several years before my own divorce. Some of the scenes showed up in real-life later, especially one of my MC hitting on women at a bar.

I will not go into the second one, as it involves my present WIP, and my present circumstance, namely the loss of a child. But it is oddly premoniscient (sp?).

How about you? Have you ever written something that later resembled your life in an uncanny way?

- Eric



Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently represented by Debrin Case at Open Heart Publishing. See more of Eric's work here: Publications

Monday, June 4, 2012

Looking Down


Don't Look Down!

That's what they say when you're on the edge clinging uncountable feet above them, they on the ground and you in the air holding with all your might.

They scream up at you, For Godsake, man, don't look down!

They say that out of fear, even though they cannot feel the wind claw at your grip. They don't feel your toes cramping and your calves wrenching and your stomach launching bile into your throat.

Don't look down! That's what they say, followed by, Hold on, help's coming!

Only there is no help coming. This is your climb, and you are far too far to be reached. Others may be near you, and they may offer encouragement, but they cannot climb for you. Nobody can rope you in and haul you up. Maybe you think God will climb for you, but that is not His style. His style is that there is something worth climbing for, something at the top, something magnificent at the peak.

It is your job to get there. This is faith.

So up you go. It is your climb, and you are on the cliff side, and they are all telling you don't look down. There is no help to be had either up or down or sideways, or even if you could tunnel directly through.

Me, I look down. I spit and hope the shouters scatter. They are pinheads so far beneath me, and my spit dissolves long before it reaches them. So I drop a rock. I risk a loosed clutch and a twist of the neck and I drop a rock and that scatters them alright. It must have zinged into the ground a thousand miles per hour from up so high.

I am stratospheric, maybe even orbital.

No shouting now. Just me and the wind and nobody saying, Don't look down.

I'll look where I damned well please. I won't tell you to hold on, or where to look, or lie to you that help is coming. All I will say is this: Climb. Go up up up. Down is easy. Even a dumb rock and my spit can go down.

You're not a phlegmatic rock, are you?


- Eric



Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently represented by Debrin Case at Open Heart Publishing. See more of Eric's work here: Publications

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Son Died

My 18 month-old son died this Monday, May 21, 2012.

He suffered a seizure that sent him into cardiac arrest. The cause is unknown. He was resuscitated after thirty minutes, but suffered catastrophic brain damage, which led to complete brain death. This began Friday. He was pronounced brain dead on Monday.

He was otherwise healthy and beautiful, and was at the park playing up until he crawled into his mother's lap and seemed to want to sleep. His head lulled more than it should, and that was that.

Here is a picture of him at our wedding in March. He is the beautiful one.

We signed him as an organ donor. Since he suffered asphyxiation, his organs are pristine. Furthermore, they are going into children.

His heart as I type is being sewn into a 2 month-old baby girl, his liver into a toddler, and both his kidneys into a 69 year-old woman. It is fair to say that my son today saved the lives of three people.

He is my hero.

Dastan Jerome Wheeler Trant
November 11, 2010 - May 21, 2012

 - Eric

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Reviews: Some random thoughts

Reviews are a part of human existence. We care what other people think about us.

We are susceptible to the opinion of others, and that makes us uniquely human. So many things make us unique -- we are hairless, fragile, weak, uncoordinated mammals, and have only a rudimentary sense of smell that leaves us the laughing stock of all our mammalian brothers and sisters -- but more importantly, we excel in our ability to criticize, compliment, judge, and study everything around us.

We revel in our ability to analyze. There is the crux of it. We call it reason, and we flex our mental muscles against the strength of the lion, and inflate our genius until it crushes the bluest whale beneath its weight.

We are human! We are stronger, larger, and more brilliant than any living force on this or any planet in the galaxy! We are intelligent life, and none may be found elsewhere in all the universe! We are thus because we think!

I think. Therefore, I am.

We say this as a virus eats us, and if it could laugh, it would, but its mouth is far too full to smile.

Part of our brilliance is the ability to review not only God's creations, but our own. Such a pretty cloud, we say, when we feel like complimenting God. Or, if we are in a sour mood, we curse and say, Sky looks ugly today. Better not rain on the most intelligent and beautiful of all God's creations.

A dog never thinks that. A dog simply looks up, says, How 'bout that, and goes back to sniffing the world as we will never smell.

Which brings me, somehow, to the book review. Extrapolate this to any sort of review, but I will limit this to a book review.

Specifically, I will ponderize the negative book review, and the patronizingly positive review.

I will start first with the second, the patronizingly positive review, or PPR, as I shall now refer to it.

The PPR is this: it is flattery.

Not that we all don't enjoy flattery. You look fine in that dress, and size doesn't matter.

We all need that sort of PPR from time to time, as writers, as workers, as lovers and parents and children. Sometimes all it takes is someone saying, Good job, even when you know it wasn't. Sometimes, that little bump in your spirit will translate into a more beautifuller work down the road.

Good job becomes not a flattering compliment, but a goal.

Now you want to live up to that expectation. So you try harder.

There are negative points to the PPR, but I will not indulge in a negative review here.

Which brings me to the negative review.

Negative reviews make no sense to me. They are jib-jab thoughts aimed at the jaw of someone who did something they could not. Rarely do we see experts throw out negative criticism of their peers.

Why is it that giants in the field of writing do not crush new and inferior writers? It is simple, really. It is because they see no value in the negative criticism.

Superstars in any field get to top by ignoring the negative critics, laughing at the hecklers, and showing up when everyone says they should quit and go home.

I do not mean that constructive criticism is ignored. I mean that negative criticism is ignored. It has no value.

It also makes no sense, in a logical, Vulcan-Spock sort of way. Why would a person read a book they hate, and then feel compelled to write about it?

Books I hate get tossed half-read, if that much, often with a partial skim to make sure that yep, that book should have a white stripe down its back, as a warning to others.

True, I hate that book, but the next reader may think it's the best thing since the Missionary Position.

Anyway, there are my random thoughts on the book review, and reviews in general. I've been getting reviews on my current book, Out of the Great Black Nothing, and am looking forward to visiting Donna Hole next week for a formal review from one of my peers. I haven't sought out reviews, mainly because I am apoplectically shy about discussing my book.

My friends and co-workers are always asking me about my books and what I write. I answer quietly, quickly, and deflect the subject away from me, a technique I now shall demonstrate...

Any random thoughts on reviews, critics, or discussing your work? Do you believe as I do that negative reviews are inherently illogical?


- Eric



Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently represented by Debrin Case at Open Heart Publishing. See more of Eric's work here: Publications






Thursday, May 3, 2012

10,000 Years from Now

They'll look back on us and say our greatest contribution was toilet paper.

They'll call us The Age of Oil, and say the internal combustion engine was the most destructive invention of all time.

They'll wonder why we went to the moon, came home, and never returned.

They'll marvel at our obsession with gunpowder.

They'll ridicule our notion of credit, and call us indentured servants to the financial engine.

Baffled, they will wrinkle their noses at our befuddlement of atomic energy, and call us monkey-minded scientists who had no clue what they had harnessed.

They'll call us disillusioned, mislead sheep, hypnotized by a media-entertainment engine that intruded every second of our waking lives.

They'll laugh at us. They will laugh and laugh, and when they finish laughing, they will pity us no less than we laugh and pity the caveman for his simple, hard-lived life, the life of an idiot who knew no better.

They will say we got what we deserved.

They'll read this post and say, That man Eric-something was a genius. Pity nobody remembered him.


- Eric


What else will they say? Positive thoughts, maybe, such as They were really tall back then, before the Great Extinction?



Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently represented by Debrin Case at Open Heart Publishing. See more of Eric's work here: Publications

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Zombie Sex and Hot Pistols

I took my son on his first pistol-shoot yesterday, at the local public gun range. He selected the zombie target, of course, and after he blew off the zombie's head, he then disabled the zombie's ability to reproduce.

And as he pulverized the zombie's man-parts, it got me to thinking.

My first thought was this: Do zombies have sex? Would a zombie couple have baby zombie children?

Like a good writer, I let my mind wander down that path, and another thought popped up: Would a zombie guy call it a stiffie? Get it? He's a stiff.

Does that make them necrophiliacs? Would a zombie nymphomaniac be a necronympho?

Still wandering and wondering along this forbidden path, methinks: I wonder what sounds the necronympho would make. Would she moan?

Of course she would moan. She would scream like crazy, wake the dead and all that fuss. She's a zombie. That's all she does.

So do zombie guys think zombie girls are always having orgasms, owing to the constant moaning?

Still farther I wandered and further I wondered, and methinks to meself: So if a zombie guy goes down on a zombie girl, does he eat her out? Literally?

Then I thought about what a zombie girl would do to the guy, and that brought me straight back to the reality of the gun range, and a screaming, bloody, undead target with a dozen 9mm holes in what used to be his genitalia.

And somehow zombie sex and hot pistols seem so logical a topic to ponderize together.


- Eric

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V, W, X, Y, Z: All at once!

Well, it's mid-week of the last week of the A-Z, and if it were scrabble, we'd be in the 10-point letter range.

So let me play all these letters at once, on a triple word red square. I will cheat, and use a sentence, rather than a single word. Here goes, for the April A-Z Challenge...



Valerie's azure eyes widened in exhilaration.



LEAVE YOUR MARK! Put an X in the comments, if you have nothing more to say.



Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently represented by Debrin Case at Open Heart Publishing. See more of Eric's work here: Publications

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Underwear

I believe every good novel should mention underwear at least once. Why, you ask, to which I answer, Because I like saying and writing the word underwear.

For instance, when people ask me, Are you Eric? I often answer, I hope so. I'm wearing his underwear.

It's just a fun word, like onomatopoeia, which I also used below. Matt, if you're listening, there's your O-word in use.

Excerpt from my debut novel Out of the Great Black Nothing, for the April A-Z Challenge.

I will post excerpts from various writings daily.

And yes, that's a run-on. Find a way to deal.



Percy laughed and waved Martha onto the rooftop and pointed to his neck. She paused, but smiled and climbed on the roof anyway. She wore her pajamas, shorts with a tank top, barefoot, all pink with ponytails, and she would be shy getting on the roof in her underwear, especially with an audience of legal professionals at the end of the driveway, but she as always was Percy's trooper and confidant and reliable partner in everything this side of criminal. She padded across the tin and leaned down to her husband and helped him unsnap and twist off the space helmet. He hadn't pressurized the suit tonight, and the helmet lifted off without its normal hiss-woof. Fresh air kissed the wet part of Percy's sweaty forehead.



LEAVE YOUR MARK! Put an X in the comments, if you have nothing more to say.



Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently represented by Debrin Case at Open Heart Publishing. See more of Eric's work here: Publications

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Talking Old Mutt


Excerpt from my current WiP, Rash & Scarson, unedited from my ongoing first draft, so don't read it with too hard of an eye. This is the book I'm writing with my kids. Old Tom is an acronym for Talking Old Mutt.

April A-Z Challenge.

I will post excerpts from various writings daily.



They were a hodge-podge crew to be sure. Tom, short for Talking Old Mutt, was a scruffy sort of dog with wiry fur the color of dirty socks. He walked upright, like a man, though from time to time he hopped and looked very much like a trick-dog from the circus. His heritage was Egyptian and African, and even though he was as tough as the walnut cane he carried, his left hind leg was a crippling reminder of the hyena he killed in his youth. With his keen sense of direction, Tom was the straight-forward choice for first mate and ship's pilot.



Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently represented by Debrin Case at Open Heart Publishing. See more of Eric's work here: Publications

Friday, April 20, 2012

R-S are for Rash & Scarson


Excerpt from my current WiP, Rash & Scarson, unedited from my ongoing first draft, so don't read it with too hard of an eye. This is the book I'm writing with my kids. They love the scene below. Lulu is a Golden Retriever, and they are on a desert, jungle beach.

Lulu is their favorite, and they have made me promise not to kill her. So she lives.

Oh, and PS, the head-skipping is intentional. I am writing this from a dual-POV between the two twins. I know -- it violates Da Rules, to which I respond, But this is how the story wants to be written.

April A-Z Challenge.

I will post excerpts from various writings daily.



They waded ashore, with Lulu leaping ahead of them. For a moment, when they emerged from the water, they both looked down at their feet. Sand caked their toes and the soles of their feet. "Forgot our stupid shoes," Scarson said.

"Don't need them on the boat. Speaking of which, how did we get here?"

"I don't know. I followed you. All I did was tell you where the land was. You're like Lulu with the ball. I throw, you fetch." Scarson picked up some dry sand and threw it toward the jungle. "There, fetch girl, go get it, Rash! Good puppy!"

"Shut up," Rash said. "I'm serious. Where are Momma and Daddy?"

"On the boat. Thataway."

"I know. But I mean... what just happened? How did we get here? All I did was swim deep, like Daddy said, a few feet under, and when we came up for air, we were here."

"Whatever," Scarson said. "You think too much. One day your thinker is gonna crack wide open, and all your beans are gonna spill out, and I'll make me some bean soup. Yum-yum! Maybe it's in your stupid book, bean-head." Scarson thumped the book in Rash's hand. She had completely forgotten she had it. "I'm going to get some bananas. I don't know about you, but I feel like I haven't eaten in three days. And I'm dying of thirst. Are you thirsty? I wonder if there's water here. Maybe we'll have to drink coconuts and stuff."

"But what about Momma and Daddy?"

"What about them? Dad threw us off the boat, remember. We don't even have lifejackets."

Scarson put his back to her and pushed his way into the jungle. It was like opening set after set of swinging doors as he pushed through leaves the size of elephant ears. The foliage swung open, allowed him passage, and swept closed behind him. After a few dozen steps, he could no longer see farther than his arms could reach.

"Rash?" he said. He listened. Rash didn't answer. "Rash? Where are you? Here, girl, here Rash. I got a ball for you to fetch!"

Something moved through the bushes behind him, grunting, close to the ground, and Lulu's snout appeared, covered in sand. Her entire lower half was caked. "There you are," he said. "Let's get us some bananas."

Lulu froze. Her ears perked, and Scarson heard a high-pitched howl to his left. It drew out like a siren, high and steady, and ended with a dozen quick chirps. Suddenly a dozen others answered, and amid the shrieks and chattering, a storm of sticks and bananas rained down through the trees onto him. His feet turned and carried him back the way he had come as fast as they could, with his hands slapping wildly at the leaves.

He fell out of the forest, and to Rash, who had found a log and sat with the book in her lap, it looked as if the jungle had vomited him onto the sand. He fell face-first, rolled, and then lay there pointing toward the trees. "Did you hear that?" he said.

"Yeah," she said. "Sounded like a bunch of monkeys. Are you afraid of monkeys?"

"I'm afraid of those monkeys. Forget the bananas. The monkeys can have them. I'm gonna see if there are some coconuts around here somewhere. On the beach. I ain't going back in there, not ever." Scarson stood, brushed himself, and set off along the shoreline, looking always to the jungle and keeping it at a healthy distance.



Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently represented by Debrin Case at Open Heart Publishing. See more of Eric's work here: Publications

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Nate's Story

I got nothing today, nothing at all. Stupid Q. Go see Matt at QQQ or Annie over at Quiet Commotion. They like Q. A lot. Prepare your mind for Annie, though. Her poetry is a club to the temple, followed by a good monkey-stomping once she drops you.

So, since I hate Q, I give you a long, arduous piece, which is, my friends, one of my early pieces. It has no title other than Nate's Story, because I wrote it for my brother, and because Nate is my brother's name.


The six warriors stood motionless atop the rise, their deep set eyes probing the westward darkness. It was a night of stillness, with neither clouds nor the wind to push them. No breeze touched their silver shoulder length hair, nor did it dry any of the unblinking sea green eyes as they patiently monitored the night, waiting.

Each thick chest was protected by dove white plate armor without insignia. It was matched on both arms and legs, ending in ribbed gauntlets resting interlocked on the hilts of large broad swords stuck point down between plated boots. Each flat blade was elegant in its simplicity, bearing no sign of art, no engraving, but deathly sharp and balanced to the hands around it. The swords spoke of bloody battles, yet were perfect and unscathed, shiny as the day they were forged. The porcelain faces above them remained as pure and simple, but just as deadly beautiful.

They stood thus, patient as death, waiting for the moment of battle; it was signaled by a gentle breeze and the thudding of large boots approaching. None moved as the night came to life around them.

A head first appeared to them over the rise, seeming to come out of the ground itself, followed by the body of a very large warrior. He was clad in armor such as theirs, an iron look on his perfectly chiseled face. On his back rested a powerful looking sword, nearly as long as they were tall, heavy with its life taking force. He stood a full head taller than the largest of them, and on each shoulder hung an arm the width of a tree. He came to a stop before them and looked to each in silence.

His deep black mane hung loosely about his shoulders, and moved slightly with the breeze he brought with him. He took each of their faces in with his stern glance. His eyes were as dark as his hair, all pupil without color, simply large black circles swimming amidst seas of white. They pierced each of the warriors in turn, first with harsh measurement, then with a flash of compassion before moving to the next. His head moved slowly from warrior to warrior until finally he had burned all of them into his mind's eye; these were his warriors, and although he was their protector and leader, he often sent them to their deaths with a flick of his tongue. His mind held the image of each that had perished, every warrior he had slain with the utterance of a command. He added their faces to the scores upon scores of others, then issued his orders.

His voice boomed into the silence, both a tempest and a song. "The one we seek is held strongly guarded in the valley below by two dozen of your dark un-brothers. I saw no other warriors, and no place of concealment for ambush; your twenty-four un-brothers stand firm, ready and bold, confident of their strength and purpose."

As he spoke the wind gained force, first softly caressing the faces of the six warriors, then growing in strength as he addressed his troops. Clouds quickly tainted the sky with darkening need, a lighter shade of black against black. Their silver hair danced with the breeze, alive at last with the thrill of battle.

The large warrior turned away from them and once again surveyed the arena below. "At the coming of the storm we will descend upon them with terrible might," he continued. "I shall lead the attack, dividing their number through the middle. The six of you will then descend upon the remaining warriors, flanking them three to a side."

He turned to face them, his eyes growing darker, and said, "The chase has wearied us all, but put your fatigue away for after the battle. Do not allow yourselves to tire, but pace your strikes in order to weaken their arms, not yours. And waste no effort killing a fallen warrior, but find the heart of one still able to raise his sword against us.

"They must be separated and cut down individually; our advantage is superior strength, but theirs is with their number. We must force them to face us one against one if we are to survive. Do not let them fight you one against many, but draw them away from their dark brethren and cut them down alone."

The wind quickly gave way to a storm, and crisp soft ticks rang out as small bits of hail bounced off the warriors' armor. A mighty cloud formed over the valley below, solid and thick and heavy as smoke, and spewed forth the tiny bits of ice with its windy breath. Fingers of light flexed from within the looming black monolith like the claws of a crouched demon cat. None of them appeared to notice the stinging on their faces as the wind grew stronger, throwing the shards sharply into their only exposed skin. None flinched as the sky was burned with fiery white explosions.

Raising his voice, the large warrior said, "Embrace death, my brothers, for it holds no power over us. Fight with Our Lord's grace in your heart, and with the wrath of the Almighty on the edge of your swords.”

***

The large warrior turned and strode purposely back the way he had come, gracefully retracing each step down the slope into the valley below. The time to fight was nigh, and he wondered again at the necessity of the destruction. He both loved and hated battle; he fought for love, and for sanctity, but despised the need to fight at all. Many times he wept as he prayed for those lost in battle, remembering the faces of the fallen. He had begged to be given another lot, but this was his destiny, his reason for creation. He was a warrior first and only, nothing more, certainly nothing less. So on he strode without remorse or mercy, never pausing, never questioning the deed, only its vile necessity.

But such thoughts had no place in battle, and he pushed them consciously aside. There were enemies below, and sometimes one must fight and destroy those who opposed what is right.

And that was exactly what he intended to do.

As he continued downward, the sky grew more violent with each step. Even the ground shuddered as he walked, feeling as if he were on the deck of a precarious ship. Thunder boomed overhead in great claps as it spit larger and larger hailstones more violently at him. The air was hot and rank, putrid with the smell of ozone and sulfur. Fist sized chunks of ice shattered harmlessly against his armor in futile fury as onward he marched, oblivious to the clangor.

The approaching valley was covered in velvet darkness, thick and uninviting as a cauldron of boiling oil. He briefly saw through the darkness with each stroke of light from above, only to be plunged forcefully back into the pitch.

The two dozen warriors stood waiting with their hands on the hilts of their swords in the same casual manner as their un-brothers above. They were clad in shiny black armor, with a writhing red serpent engraved on the chest. Their swords were less simple, with finely decorated blades and with lines of red ringing the black hilts. Around each of their necks was a red twine laced with the dried ears of those they had slain, and their long silver hair was bound tightly at the neck with thin straps of black leather. Their sternly set green eyes glared back at him through the darkness, challenging and daring him to step forward against them.

A single tear escaped his eye, his only mercy, and warmly rolled down his face. He prayed for forgiveness, for strength, but above all, he prayed for victory. A powerful arm slowly slid the giant blade from its scabbard. As it came free, the ring of the blade momentarily overcame the anger of the storm like the cry of a laden mother. A fleeting glimpse of emotion passed across his face, then was set aside by the iron face of death.

***

The six stood unmoving, watching as the large warrior moved sword-first into the darkness below. The storm had risen in pitch to a deafening maelstrom, hurling man-sized hailstones furiously into their armored chests. The ice shattered star-like around them; they were six brilliant supernovas atop the dark slope, spectacular white against suffocating black. None moved, nor paid heed to the raging attack of the storm.

The ground shuddered beneath their heavy boots, moving none of them, but destroying itself with the effort. It shook violently and threw great stones defiantly skyward, disappearing silently into the darkness above. But each stood transfixed on some distant shore, some tranquil land of beauty unseen by the forces around. The six remained calm within, waiting for the moment of attack.

Then there was silence, as sudden as a clap, complete and tomblike, silent as death. For many moments they stood in the silence, waiting for what they all knew would come, but all had hoped would not.

Once again heavy steps signaled an approach, and again a warrior seemed to materialize from the ground in front of them. Their armor rattled at his approach as the ground shook with each of his steps, rising in a clamorous crescendo as he neared. He stopped before the largest of them and silenced the rattling with the wave of a hand.

He was clad in shiny gold plate armor, much adorned with flowery designs and deep black jewels. A blood red velvet cape covered his back and was clasped at the neck by two golden snakes intertwined, their ruby eyes winking. On his hip hung a long and impressive sword of gold, held loosely by a magnificent belt and an engraved jeweled scabbard. The hilt was that of a serpent striking, its fangs bared as it hissed in attack. His long black hair was tied off near his waist and flowed tail-like behind him with a life of its own.

He was the same height as the warrior he addressed, but somehow all those around him seemed small and insignificant. He was beautiful beyond creation, such as to blind one who looked upon him for too long. Even his movement was perfection, balanced and sure. He turned his attention to those on either side of the large warrior and smiled warmly. No crease violated the purity of his face as he exposed rows of perfect ivory teeth. He stood like a powerful oak among six pitiful shrubs.

He faced the largest warrior. "Take your prize now, my child," he said smooth as a snake across velvet, "and share with me the glory that is to come." His pure blue eyes pierced the warrior, two perfect daggers burying themselves deep inside his soul. He waited confidently for what he knew would come, smiling, guile his only weapon, the only weapon he needed. "Take it now, my child," he whispered into the warrior's ear, his breath sweet and warm as a lover's kiss. "Take it before it is taken by another." He continued in an even lower whisper, hypnotic and songlike, barely audible, "Take what is yours...."

He stepped back from the warrior in absolute confidence, smiling in uncontested perfection, waiting for the inevitable. Even his silence was absolute perfection.

Long moments passed, when suddenly a warrior to his left came to life with inhuman speed, furious at not being chosen by the glorious warrior. The large warrior easily met the blurring blade which rushed at him, taking several steps back as the attacker advanced with sword singing death. His face contorted in rage, the attacker delivered furious blows to the large warrior, but each was parried, pushed aside while he waited for the next attack.

The attacker moved in circles around the larger warrior, testing for weakness, probing his defense with maddeningly fast swings of his mighty blade. They moved faster and faster still, until all their movement was a blur, lost within the singing of their blades as each danced to the sounds of their lonely battle.

The large warrior never returned the attack, but stood defiant should the attacker choose to stop this fate. He met each blow with his sword, without emotion, seemingly without effort, but refused to be drawn into the death of his brother.

The four remaining warriors stood silently by, watching, waiting for the outcome. There now was balance, one against one, and all knew that to upset this would be to turn the battle violently against them. To watch was marvelous, two great warriors battling for a victory that could not be. Like the day battles night, or night the day, neither could truly ever win, but it is the meeting of the two, the dawn or the eve, that is the most beautiful to behold. As they danced their deadly attacks, their essence was bared, their reason for creation seen. They were designed for battle, and designed only to win.

The golden warrior stood aside smiling at his victory, pleased again with his perfection. He waited for the next temptation, for the time of reckoning. He absorbed the beauty of the battle into himself, adding to that he already possessed. With eyes closed, he shuddered with the pleasure of it, seeing in his mind the glory he had created.

The battle raged violently onward as the warriors continued to attack and parry with blinding speed. Blade for blade they moved across the ground around the other warriors.

But the large warrior held to his patience, held on to his hope and belief that his brother would not turn, yet the battle was wearing him. Creases began to show across his face as he refused to attack, the voice of anger softly speaking to his soul. He drove it back down within him with a silent blow from his mind; he would die before he attacked his brother. Distracted by the effort, his blade faltered and he was struck to the ground, prone as the attacker descended like a raptor upon him.

One of his brothers moved to intervene, and lifted his sword in attack to save his fallen brother. But quick as a thought a golden sword found its tip to his throat, held by the beautiful golden warrior, smiling. The battle stopped just as abruptly behind him, both warriors bound to the sod, watching, one with sword held high.

"Stay your hand, child," the golden warrior hissed to the interloper, "lest you find your head between my feet." He smiled broadly at the warrior, victory his for the taking now.

To the attacker he continued, "Take him as yours, my new warrior, for you have truly proved to be the greater. Feed upon the carrion that dared once call itself your brother. Take him for the glory of your new master."

Hardly had the golden warrior finished before the attacker hacked a large piece of the fallen warrior's head from his neck. He surged with unseen power as he continued to deliver dozens of furious blows in the following seconds. Huge rivulets of blood spewed about him in volcanic gushes as his sword cut through his brother, leaving jagged slashes of torn armor and bone and flesh. Finally, his anger sated, he turned, covered in the blood of his brother, dripping in red bone and sinew, and laid his sword and his head at the feet of the golden warrior in glorious praise.

"Do you see how their pathetic lord has abandoned them in their time of need, while it was I who stayed by your side," he said to the warrior at his feet. "He left them to die, while I gave you life. He bound them to servitude, to death, while I offer you freedom and life. Arise, my great warrior." He sheathed the golden sword and extended his hand to his new servant. "Arise and follow me to glory."

The warrior sobbed as he listened, thankful for his fate, grateful for the wonderful praise. He whispered words of thanks, words of love and praise and glory to his new lord. He stood and hefted his sword above his head in salute. Salty tears rolled down his bloody face and mixed warmly amidst the red.

The four remaining warriors stood motionless atop the rise, and watched their brother and the golden warrior as they descended back into the ground.

***

The large warrior's sword thundered down onto the dark warriors with the wrath of a tempest. They sprang suddenly to life and moved around him in a semicircle as they tried to find his back. Their swords flashed before them as they parried his blinding attacks.

He backhanded the warriors on his right, knocking two from their feet even as they held their swords against him. The warriors to his left pounced quickly, thinking him exposed by such a lopsided attack, but his sword continued around in a full circle as he leaned against his heels and reversed the attack against them. The broad sword found its mark across one warrior's chest with such force that it was as if he had exploded from within. Imperfect, another warrior's blade shattered as it was held in defense and embedded the sharp shards in his tender eyes. The large warrior's huge left fist followed the blow and drove the remaining jagged blade up through his chin and into his skull; the dark warrior knelt as if in prayer, then fell forward onto his destroyed face.

Without pause or mercy, he continued his onslaught before they could regroup. His sword took the head from one of the stunned warriors he had knocked down with his first attack as he tried to stand. In the same low swing he cut the knees from another and stepped forward to drive the twenty remaining warriors back.

They had all seen him fight before, had seen him take down entire armies alone with wide deadly swings of his perfect sword. Thousands fell before him as if they were grass lying flat in his mighty wind, unable to stand, and they knew that to fight him was vain. Like the four that had already fallen, each knew they looked into the face of death, but stood against him defiantly. They were the same as their un-brothers on the hill above - they knew only victory, and fought only to win even against great odds. Both had absolute faith in their lords, and believed they would somehow prevail even in the face of destruction. To stand bravely against adversity guaranteed them a place next to their lord in the afterlife.

His sword knocked away an attack from the left, then whipped back, the tip neatly slicing through one of the dark warrior's necks. The dark warrior dropped his sword and stood firmly as he tried without success to stop torrential flow of his life's blood spewing forth from between his clasped fingers. He stood thus for several moments, then gave the large warrior a bloody grin as he fell over, finally overcome by death.

The dark warriors could not get near enough to him for their swords to reach. The perfect broad blade flashed out and dealt death whenever one got within its reach. One of the dark warriors moved around him to find his back, and with a mighty swing discovered his own death. The large warrior sidestepped the attack and without looking buried an armored left elbow in the dark warrior's face, shattering the fragile bones there. With hardly a glance he spun around and cut the dark warrior bodily in two across his torso, then returned to face the remaining dark warriors as the top slid wetly off its legs to the ground.

Another dark warrior fell defending against the large warrior's attack and lied prone on his back. As the others took yet another step back, his sword descended on the fallen warrior like a bolt from God. It shattered the upheld sword and cleaved the warrior's head and chest in two.

The seventeen remaining dark warriors moved to flank him as time grew more desperate. Cut down in order, the strongest still stood parrying blows from this mighty warrior. But compared to him, they were unarmed children against an angry bear.

The speed of his attacks increased to a blur as the onslaught continued. With each blocked attack, the warriors were thrown off balance by the force, unable to return the attack before another blow needed to be defended. One of the warriors was nearly spun around by an attack, and his spine was cut from his defenseless back.

But before his blood hit the ground, the dark warrior turned and smiled up at the large warrior in dove plate armor. He smiled because a golden sword ripped through the air toward the raven black head of his killer.

The four white warriors flew down the hill into the fray.

***

The man drifted further down, until dark and sinister things began clawing him, breathing harsh hisses and raking their teeth on him. A clawed hand suddenly dug out his heart from the blackness, but he would not die even as it gnawed on the bloody organ. The demon's mouth was filled with needle teeth below flaring bestial nostrils, and his heart exploded like a ripe tomato as it bit harshly into the muscle. It savagely tore off a piece and gulped it down whole. The burned skin of the demon stretched taught over thick rippling muscles as it crouched over him teasingly, then it stuck its face into the hole in his chest and messily slurped his life's blood. It emerged dark and shiny, grinning wetly. His screams were matched by the bloody demon in mockery, then it ripped one of his eyes from its socket and held it teasingly above its outstretched tongue.

His body flamed in bloody pain and agony as more sharp hands held him down, prone against the demon as it danced around him jingling his shiny white eye by its sinewy cords. The claws dug into his flesh unmercifully, and he felt teeth gnawing his fingers and toes, painfully ripping them off in a violent feeding frenzy. He was being devoured, unable to die, and knew somehow that he would never be completely gone, but would forever be ingested into the bowels of Hell.

Above his own screams he heard the sound of a distant battle, the shouts and cries of war drifting across the plains to find his ears. The creature looked in the direction of the noise, then returned to him and plopped the eye down its throat with a sardonic grin. It gave him a final rake of its razor claws across his face, then bounded off into the darkness, leaving him alone and battered.

He waited long moments as the sounds died away and silence overcame the place he now was in. From over a small hill came three large warriors, one of them towering over seven feet and as broad as a horse, with black hair and a sword as long as he was tall. Gore splattered their simple, dove-ivory armor. They strode directly to where he lay.

"You are ours, now," he heard the largest say in a deep and powerful voice as he reached down to him. "You belong now to God."




There you go. If you made it this far, God bless, and God help you.


- Eric

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Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently represented by Debrin Case at Open Heart Publishing. See more of Eric's work here: Publications