What Happened?

Well here we are. Almost two weeks into 2019, and I have no idea what to write about for my blog. Yes, I talked about wanting to spice things up and talk about some reviews and talk about how excited I am to be getting ready to publish, and all that stuff. But the truth is, I’m really tired! Now, that could be because I’m frustratingly overwhelmed at my day job, could be from the constant dive into the competitive world of Super Smash Brothers Ultimate on the Switch, could be that for the past couple weeks my son has decided that sleeping in wasn’t going to happen for him, thus cutting into my writing time. Anything really, could be causing it.

I am not complaining though. Merely expressing that being a writer is difficult. I said that one of my goals for 2019 was to write for 20 minutes a day, and I’ve only missed a few days here and there. I’m pleased with that. I’m disappointed though that I haven’t been able to put forth the same level of success with my blog. I’m at the point where I can put out the first chapter of The Era Without a Hero over on my Zelda blog, but I’m also trying to stay about two chapters ahead with that project, while also editing Phoenix Down so that I can get it out before March is over. It’s a tall task, and naturally that means that something is going to take a bit of a hit.

So here’s the plan for January. I am going to post again on here, likely going to be some sort of review for a couple of podcasts I’m a fan of. I’m going to post the Prologue to The Era Without a Hero right here by the end of next week. I’m looking into opening a Patreon account so that fans can reach out to me and offer their support towards my writing. I haven’t decided what sort of rewards there will be yet, but I’ll think of something. More to come on that. And finally, I’m going to encourage anybody that reads this to check out my twitter feed. I can be found @davewayne09 and any announcements pertaining to my upcoming books will be found there! I update that far more often than I update this, so it will always be more up to date.

Thank you to everybody that reads my blog, and to everyone looking forward to the first entry in The Iron Chronicles.

 

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Year’s End

I promised that I would squeeze in two posts before the year was over, and this is me keeping that promise. I have talked about my plans for 2019, but I don’t know for certain what will come. So while plans are great, I’m going to give a brief list of what I hope to achieve in the coming 12 months!

  1. Publish Eagle Down by the end of March.
  2. Complete the first draft of Phoenix Launch sometime in September.
  3. Revise and publish the first half of The Era Without a Hero on my Zelda blog.
  4. Write for at least 20-minutes every day, no matter what.
  5. Create more frequent content for the blog (including reviews, previews of my work, and overall more posts).

Those are my biggest goals as a writer for the next year. If I can hold to those, I will be thrilled! Not only that, but it means you all will get two stories from me within the next couple months.

Regarding my Zelda story: this piece of work was my first completed novel. It was long, it was a task, but I love that story so much. When I finished it, I immediately started work on The Iron Chronicles and took virtually no time off. I had accepted the fact that I could never publish it and earn anything from it, because I frankly don’t have any rights to do so. However, for 5-years worth of work to sit on a shelf and collect dust seemed wrong. That’s why I’m bringing the story back and sharing it for free. It’s a tale that I care deeply about, and want fans of the game series to be able to explore. My biggest complaint with the most recent entry (Breath of the Wild) was that the massive world had no content. This story began long before that game was even announced, yet captures what I think is the same essence and can fill that void land with a story that’s compelling and exciting.

I have shared snippets of my stories on here, and even full works like my short stories. However, I have something very special to share with you all. The prologue to The Era Without a Hero is a unique portion of the story that was thought up when I originally planned it as its own video game. I envisioned the player interacting with this island cave as a sort of menu where they could select the main story, minigames, an online mode, and eventually DLC. However, when the game concept was abandoned in favor of simply writing it as a novel, I kept this setting as a way of putting the reader in the right mindset. Today, I’m sharing with you that prologue. When I publish the first chapter on my Zelda blog, located here, the prologue will also be available. The hope is that I can post one chapter per month in 2019, which will lead me to the halfway point of the story.

Enough chatting though! I hope everybody has a safe New Year, and I look forward to all of your feedback on both stories in 2019! Thank you for reading!


The Era Without A Hero: by David Wayne Nystrom

Based on the Legend of Zelda video game series created by Shigeru Miyamoto

Prologue

“Laaaaaaaand!”

The crew bustled about pulling up the sails, tying down portions of the ship, and readying the small row boats that they would use to pull ashore. There was a heavy splash as the anchor dropped and the ship gradually lurched to a stop.

I emerged from my cabin and ascended the steps to the helm. I gazed out over the salty waters and cupped my hand over my eyes to see the small spec of earth piercing the waves. A small peak of gray rock jutted up from a mound of green. A few tropical trees sprang up across the island and a thin layer of coral was visible just off its coast.

“That be it Cap’in?”

“Unless our patron disagrees, I do believe it is Torvo.”

My first mate nodded to some of the other men enthusiastically. They gave a celebratory revel and continued making landing preparations.

“Do you disagree, Madame?”

The tall and thin figure standing in the corner shook her covered head. She was a wealthy and confident woman yet had kept her true identity hidden. She’d paid well enough in advance that I had no qualms about sailing into the Great Sea, yet the bounty she was seeking seemed hardly worth the dangers. I had suspicions that she was connected with the Royal Family, likely a direct descendant of those who first landed in New Hyrule. My only clues were her accent and the scarf she wore under the hood, which bore the ancient Sheikah emblem.

After giving orders to my men that were to remain on board, I descended back into my cabin and retrieved my pistol and sword. I took an extra pouch of gunpowder and stuffed it in my coat pocket before slipping my satchel over my shoulder and concealing the gun.

When I returned to the deck, the woman was seated on my personal boat, awaiting my orders for us to row ashore. I climbed in with two of my men, and they began rowing us ashore. Three more boats, each with four of five people in it, rowed along just behind us.

“I only want yourself and I to journey into the cave,” the woman said.

“My men will go into the cave with us, madame. This is part of their reward for the journey here. They didn’t leave the safety of our waters to come to this place for only a few hundred rupees.”

She paused.

“Where’d you come by all this information anyways? Doesn’t seem like the sort of treasure or knowledge an aristocrat would be interested in.” Admittedly, I was searching for more information as to her true identity.

“Shows what you know about aristocrats, Captain Grandersen,” she chuckled a little.

The island’s sand was golden and crunched firmly beneath my boots as I stepped out. The small peak of stone appeared larger now, and some of its details were distinctly more visible. AS the woman pulled her cloak to one side, she pulled a weathered old piece of leather from an elegantly crafted leather pouch. It was a map that clearly showed this strange and out of the way island.

“How long have you been holding onto that map?”

“This way,” she said, ignoring my question and taking quick strides up the grassy knoll.
As we approached the rocky peak, a heavy boulder that was about as tall as any of us rested against an alcove. She stepped up to the rock and pressed her hands against it.

“Yes, this is it.”

“What is it?” Torvo asked scratching his greasy white hair.

“Move the stone, there’s a cave behind it.”

My men looked at me in confusion, but I nodded giving my approval. They dove at the stone and began heaving hard. They pushed and pulled and tried to pry the stone away with logs and shovels, but it did not move. After a half hour or so, several men retrieved ropes from the row boats and tried to pull it away with those, but still nothing.

When they began to rest and sip from their canteens, muttered comments about it being too heavy floated out of their mouths. I looked to the woman, who was flipping through a small journal and running her fingers along the rock.

As I approached, she answered my question before it could even pass my lips.

“They used switches back then,” her regal accent was more evident due to her enthusiasm, “if we find it, the door should open with ease.”

My men resumed their attempts at opening the door, with several fanning out to search for the switch at my behest. I began digging around in the bushes and shrubs not far from the mysterious woman, when I found something under a thick layer of moss that had gathered not far from the stone.

“My lady,” I called the woman over.

The thing was an inscription. It was written in an ancient text that I had only seen used around the Tower of Spirits and Hyrule Castle back in my youth. Despite it having been decades since having to read and write in the ancient language, my teaching hadn’t worn off and I could still plainly read it.

“’Beyond here lay the words and treasures of a land erased by the Gods and preserved by Faith’,” I read aloud.

“You can read that?” She said, astonished.

“Yes, my lady. I may appear a simple privateer, but I assure you I am not a fool. It’s the language of legend, is it not?”

Her blue eyes narrowed in suspicion of me, but she set about copying the inscription down on a blank page in her journal. After copying it herself, she held the page to the stone and made a rubbing of the original writing.

“Cap’in! There’s Deku on this island, and they ain’t friendly!” One of my men shouted, stumbling away from some trees.

I looked up to the skies and saw that the sun was almost directly overhead. I gave orders to avoid the Deku and continue searching until twilight set in. If we hadn’t found a way into the cave by then, we’d return to the ship for the night, then return with some tools to fend back the living shrubs.

When dusk arrived, the woman seemed displeased with our abandoning the island until dawn. I assured her that we would double our efforts the next day, which seemed to ease her tension a little.

As I sat down to eat my dinner that evening, there as a soft knock at the door to my cabin.

“Come in,” I said, wiping the crumbs of bread from my scruffy facial hair. I promptly hopped to my feet when I saw it was the woman, “apologies my lady, I would have opened the door had I known it was you.”

She gave a soft laugh, “there is no need to apologize Captain. We’re far from Hyrule, there is no need to stand on ceremony out here. May I join you?”
I nodded and motioned to the chair on the opposite side of my table.

“A glass of wine, my lady?”

She shook her head and helped herself to a bit of turkey and a roll. She tore bits of the roll off and carefully put them into her mouth, still concealing her face.

My curiosity was overwhelming, “why do you hide your face?”

Her eyes peeked up from the shadow of her hood, “because I fear what I know.”

“And what is it that you know?”

“That the value of this treasure we seek is enough to make the greatest of men stumble. It is more valuable than any trinket of gold or silver you or your men have ever sought or dreamed of seeking. I hide my face because I know that there are men of darkness around every corner that would destroy me to obtain this treasure.”

“Why not send on of your great knights or holy servants?”

“What makes you think I command great knights or servants?”

“Your dismissal of ceremony for one. That purse you have at your side, is too well made to be from any port I’ve sailed into, and your accent betrays your capital city identity. You are no ordinary citizen, and too intelligent to be any aristocrat.”

She had stopped eating at this.

“Perhaps I have truly figured you out?”

“With all due respect, Captain,” she said rising to her feet, “you do not have the slightest idea of ceremony, nor who I am. I trust our search will resume at dawn?”

I rose to my feet and nodded, “yes, my lady.”

“I shall meet you on your boat then,” she turned and left.

I gave a small bow as she left, then sat at finished my dinner. Once I’d finished, I went to my bed and tried to sleep as best I could. I went over everything I’d seen and learned about the woman, but still her true identity evaded me.

The next morning, as I walked the deck, I found the young maiden standing near the bow staring out at the island in the morning fog. I approached her, so she would notice my being there, yet we said nothing. We stood there for a few moments before a shout from the crow’s nest above alerted us it was dawn.

“Time to go my lady,” I said softly before turning and barking orders to the crew that was making ready.

Once on shore again, everybody resumed searching as they had the day before. More prepared, they fought back the Deku and gained access to areas on the island that were previously too dangerous to search. However, the search yielded nothing new and as midday approached, we reconvened near the cave entrance.

“Can we jus’ blow ‘er up?”

“Aye! A blast from one of t’e cannons would do it!”

“Or we tie a ‘eavy line to t’e ship an’ tow ‘er away!”

Suggestions of every kind came from the men, most weren’t bad. However, many of the ideas, depending how deep it was, put the contents at risk of being damaged. If the treasure were even half as valuable as our maiden patron suggested, it was too much of a risk.

“My lady,” I began, “you must agree with my men and I when I say this past day has been fruitless. It would seem that the only way of opening this cave would be by use of a blast from the cannons. I don’t want to damage any treasure that may lay beyond it, yet I don’t know of any other way at this point.”

She stood motionless, staring at the sand around the edges of her cloak. The sound of the waves crashing on the coral reef seemed to echo in the hollowness of her silent answer. She agreed but was fighting with herself internally to find any other answer.

“Unless you have some sort of magic up your sleeve-“

“Magic! Captain!” She exclaimed, cutting me off.

“Magic?” I asked.

She sprinted over to me and pulled my sword from its scabbard on my hip. I stumbled back, and she began running up to the wall of rock next to the stone that blocked the cave entrance.

With great force, she drove the tip of my blade into the stone and suddenly the wall illuminated with a purple and pink light. The light formed a rectangle in the stone that remained even as she lowered the blade at her side. Her eyes darted from side to side across it, looking at the boulder and back to the wall.

“’Beyond here lay the words and treasures of a land erased by the Gods and preserved by Faith’,” she recited from memory.

“Preserved by Faith,” I mumbled under my breath as I stared at the illuminate block on the wall. I pressed my hand to my chin and thought hard about the words. Then I took my blade back from the woman and raised it up myself.

Pressing the tip into the stone, I drew three equal size triangles into it. One on top of the other two, so that it formed a recognizable symbol to everyone. It was the Triforce. It was the symbol of Hylian Faith.

When I stepped back, everybody paused for a moment. The image of the Triforce remained on the stone and began to shine with a golden light. It flashed so brightly, everyone had to avert their eyes for a moment. Then it faded, leaving the dark outline of the Triforce that I had traced.

The earth began to shake and rumble then. I had to brace myself against a nearby rock, as did everyone else. Some simply fell to the ground and others held onto a tree or similar rock. The woman though, held her hands out to the sides and seemed to hover off the ground a few inches.

Once I was able to pry my eyes off of her and her magic, I saw the source of the quake. The boulder, or door as it seemed to be, had begun to crack and dissolve. Bits of it crumbled and fell away, and before long it had turned into dust and gravel. Beyond the spot where it once stood, was a cave filled with darkness.

As I peered down into the black, I called for my men to bring me a torch. A moment later, the woman and I began to descend the stairs that were chiseled into the ground beyond the cavern threshold.

Our feet clicked on the cobble steps and then struck the floor. I continued to move forward, searching for a place to light the cavern up with. Then I found a large basin with some tinder resting in it. Lowering the torch carefully, I lit the bowl. As it caught fire, two lines of flame shot out in an angle, which then lit a pair of cauldrons across the cavern. Those two were then joined by one more strip of fire. All together they created a large triangle of fire which illuminated the cavern.

Our eyes adjusted to the firelight, and we could see shelves filled with books and scrolls. Suits of armor lined one wall of the cave, shields, swords, and maces as well. Chests overflowing with rupees and gold were scattered about. A thick layer of dust and cobwebs covered everything, but the shine still remained. The lady was right about treasure being here indeed.

My men cheered and began running about, grabbing as much as they could in celebration. I gave a good hearty laugh and picked up a golden chalice for myself and raised it in the air as if giving a toast to which my men cheered.

Then I noticed the woman, rummaging through the scrolls.

“My lady, we have found the treasure, that tattered paper won’t likely fetch much back in Castle Town,” I joked with her.

“You may have found your treasure Captain, however mine is far more valuable,” she said opening scroll after scroll, scanning every individual one for something.

“And what treasure would that be?” I said as I walked to the lower level under the triangle.

“A book.”

I approached a small table on the lower level in the center of the cavern. Looking around I noticed the things on this level of the cave were less treasure and more historical. There were paintings, sketches, and what appeared to be maps.

One painting showed a great hall with seven people seated at a long table. Above them was an ornate stain glass window depicting a sword, six circles, and the Triforce. These seven people were all very different. One was significantly shorter than the rest, two were blue skinned with gills, one was an owl, one wore a crown and had flowing silver blonde hair, one appeared to be made of stone, and another had their face hidden by a hood.

I continued searching the area when I returned my attention to the small table. On it were several pieces of parchment, a dried-up ink well and quill, and a candle, melted over its holder and onto the wood.

I moved aside some of the parchment and noticed a thick leather-bound book resting beneath them. The leather had a green stain to it, and on the cover was imprinted a Triforce with symbols all around it in a circle.

“My lady,” I called out, “would this be the book you’re looking for?”

She rushed over and stood at the top of the steps to see me with my hand on the cover. Slowly she approached, and I stepped back for her to look at it. Softly, her fingers touched the leather, tracing over the triangles and down its spine.

She carefully lifted her cover open and reached up to lower her scarf and blow away some of the dust. I could still not see her face, but for the first time, I saw a bit of yellow hair fall down from behind the shroud.

She began to turn the pages slowly, then reached over, grabbed the rickety looking chair and sat down. I stepped closer and looked down at the pages over her shoulder. It was written in ancient Hylian, like the inscription on the doorway outside.

“Here lies the account of the Keyfinder, and link in lineage between the world that was and the world that will be,” I read aloud.

“It seems that I picked the correct captain for this journey,” she said sitting up straight in the chair.

I stepped back and watched as her hands reached up and lowered her hood. Her hair was fine and golden. Ears pointed towards the heavens and small Triforce’s hung from each. She lowered her scarf to reveal a face I never expected to see.

I nearly stumbled backwards as I recoiled and tried to bow at the same time.

“P-p-p-“

She rose and stood over me as I dropped to my hands and knees.

“Yes Captain, I am Princess Zelda.”

I was horrified. I had treated her like a higher being, but never had I even suspected she would be royalty.

“Do not fear Captain, my identity was not revealed on purpose. You were to treat me no different and you still will not, understood?” She said, replacing her hood.

“Y-y-yes your Gr-Grace.”

“Clear the cavern except for yourself and I. Tell your men to gather what they wish and return only when you give word.”

I hopped back up a level as she sat back down and promptly told the men to go back to the ship. I told them to take back whatever gold and treasure they desired, but to leave one boat and not return until I signaled.

When I returned, I found the Princess seated and the book opened to the first page. Opposite on the table, was another book, new and unmarked, with a freshly opened ink well next to it.

“We will take turns reading and writing. To start, I will read, and you can write,” the Princess said, “this book will not survive a trip across the sea back to New Hyrule, so we need to copy it, word for word, into the common tongue. Can you do it Captain?”

I nodded taking the seat opposite her. I picked up the quill and dipped it into the new ink well and readied myself to write.

“Make sure. Word for word. Every detail is imperative,” she took a deep breath and began, “‘It is the end of the Era of the Great Calamity and I fear this shall be known as the Era Without A Hero. I write this to tell account that there were heroes. Though not the Hero of Time as we had prayed for, Hyrule was not wiped out without hope. Hyrule’s bloodlines still run strong and always will. Here lies the account of the Keyfinder and the last Knights of Hyrule, the links in lineage between the world that was and the world that will be…”

Flashback

I managed to get some writing done this past weekend. I’m genuinely happy with what I wrote, however it’s made me realize that there may be some character issues that I need to fix. To anybody who has read my blog for a while, this is nothing new. However the characters these issues have risen around are somewhat new. One is one who I planned to kill in the first book, then decided I needed her for book two. Another, was a major source of motivation in Eagle Down, however it wasn’t until the end that she was really seen. And finally, Ewan.

Ewan is one of my main characters, and is in fact, one of the major point-of-view characters I follow in Phoenix Launch. The issue with him has become one of his motivation and relationships. I discovered this new wrinkle in his personality as I began introducing a new race to the books, dwarves. Almost any fantasy style novel with elves and dwarves, has them as mortal enemies or at least having a strong distrust of one another. As I was writing this weekend, I may have fallen into that trap. Then I may have added the belief that Ewan believed his father was killed by dwarves.

I can’t say I’m elated that I allowed such a stereotypical flaw manifest itself in a character who I intend to become one of the greatest hero’s in the books. And considering all the bad stuff I’m about to put Ewan through, I feel even worse.

“But David, you said that you were genuinely happy with what you wrote this weekend?”

Yup. I’m happy I wrote it, I’m not happy that I turned and fell into the pit of classic fantasy elf versus dwarf. For me right now, any writing is an accomplishment because I’ve really been struggling to do it. Not because I don’t want to or anything like that, there’s just been a series of things preventing me from having my butt in the chair.

The fact that I’m discovering more about one of my central characters than I originally planned is really exciting! Especially since I just got some more feedback on Eagle Down and am getting back to editing it. Some of these wrinkles in Ewan, Ara, and Nlaea can be teased a bit in the first book with some of the edits I’m doing. Which is why I’m happy despite the trait I’m eventually going to take out. In fact, since starting this post, I’ve already discovered a way to “fix” some of the issues surrounding the scene that I did.

That’s all for now. I promised I’d get back to some posts like this where I talked about my writing process, and that’s what this was. It’s not that long I know, but I know I need to be more consistent about posting. So, that’s what this is.

Remember, the first half of my short story, Full Disclosure is available in Z Publishing’s collection, America’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology of Fiction (Volume II) and Wisconsin’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology of Fiction both for $14.99. There’s a bunch of great stories in the collections by some truly talented writers. A review mentioning my name would go a long way in helping me as a writer as well!

As always, thank you for reading!

Full of Turkey, Words not so much

First and foremost, I have some news regarding my short story, Full Disclosure and it’s national publishing! It is out and available in Volume 2 of America’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology of Fiction from Z Publishing. If you’re interested in picking up a copy, you can find it at Amazon or on Z Publishing’s website.

Anyways, here we are almost at the end of NaNoWriMo. I took a week off from the blog to focus on my writing and the Thanksgiving holiday. I got to spend some good time with my family, did a bit of reading, and of course hammered away at writing…. Okay… Maybe that last one was a lie. In fact, it’s a brazen one. It’s been about a week since I’ve touched Phoenix Launch in any way.

That’s right. Mr. NaNo over here is now Mr. NoWriMo. As in, I will not be hitting the 50k mark during this National Novel Writing Month. I had a few stumbles early in the month that put me behind where I wanted to be in my writing, and then the holidays hit. Couple that with school work that was more intensive than previous weeks and it was a recipe for disaster. That being said, I did manage just over 30k! If the word count from Eagle Down is an indicator of the length for this sequel, that puts me just shy of halfway. Not a bad start!

So that brings us to the future. December is going to be a busy month for me, what with holidays, editing, school, and this blog. I plan on making a few posts next month, but I am not going to promise much. I want to take some time and really push a few projects into their next phases. That means getting Eagle Down ready for publishing, getting Phoenix Launch into it’s second draft phase, editing the first few chapters of The Era Without A Hero for my Zelda blog, and outlining a schedule for this blog. Eagle Down is almost ready and I cannot wait to get it out there for everybody to read and begin exploring the worlds I’ve built. Once it’s done, I will be posting like crazy to promote it and get into the hands of everybody I can. The same goes for the sequel, the further along in it I am, the sooner you all can get a better idea for what I have planned.

A few months ago, I mentioned my Zelda novel that was my first completed major project. I said that in the fall of 2018, I’d be releasing chapters of that for reading over on my Zelda blog. Obviously, that hasn’t happened and that’s in large part because of the effort that I’ve been putting into the Iron Chronicles. It is still a project I care deeply about, and maybe with some time off in December, I can get that started. But with a book of over 200k words, there’s a lot of editing that has to be done. When I’m ready to publish The Era Without A Hero, I will post about it again.

The blog. There are a few things I want to do with the blog. Things that I intended to do with it but failed to continue as I got distracted. I want to bring back some of my pieces where I talked about struggles I was having along the way with my creative process. I want to share more about how my brain works when writing. Furthermore, I want to share more about writing in general. However, I want to also start talking about other subjects that are important to my creative inputs. I’m going to try and start sharing some thoughts and reviews on movies, TV shows, video games, music, and books. These will not always be brand new things, some things will be a few years (or decades even) old and just add to my creative field.

Well that wraps up this post. There will be more coming in the future, like I said. I think my next post will be a sort of look into my head like some of my earlier posts. Don’t hold me to that as I may be struck with some stroke of brilliance and come up with something more interesting instead. We shall see.

As always, thank you for reading!

The Short End

Some quick news before we get to the main post. My story, “Full Disclosure” is getting a nationwide publication! Z Publishing, who published the short story a couple months ago in a collection with other writers from Wisconsin, is putting out a collection of short stories from across the nation. Of over 2,000 stories from almost every state in the US, mine is one of 136 being selected for an anthology being released in time for the holidays! I’m very excited about this, and I look forward to sharing this with all of you when I have more details.

My last post was some encouragement for those pushing the limit of NaNoWriMo. I, fortunately, have been able to keep up with the recommended pace and crossed over the 25k-word mark halfway through the month. Of course this brought me great joy, until I realized my other projects were struggling as a result of my devotion to the book. This post is going to be some encouragement for those who’ve been struggling with their word count, while also a being a little self critical.

First of all, anybody undertaking the task of NaNoWriMo needs to take time before to get their priorities sorted. Writing takes time, it takes patience, and not it means you’re going to be in your own world longer than other people will care for. I have a full time job, a family, I’m in school, and on top of all that is where my writing career teeters precariously. As much as I want to get this book written, I have to remember those other things come first. If I start putting my book above my family, their support will eventually dwindle or they’ll feel rejected. If it comes before my job, I won’t be able to pay my bills. If you find your word count struggling, but it’s because of something that is more important, do not beat yourself up over it.

That brings me to my next topic of discussion. Your mental health is more important than your book. I cannot stress this enough, and even contemplated doing a whole post on this. If you’re struggling with your writing, don’t feel like what you’re doing is good enough, or even have issues that go beyond the world of writing, know that you are not alone and there is always help out there. I’ve struggled at various times in my life with depression and even suicidal thoughts. These were dark times in my life that I labored through with the help of a handful of amazing people. To them, I am eternally grateful. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to do the writing I am now. If your struggling, maybe writing is therapeutic for you, but putting the pressure of 50k words in 30 days isn’t. That’s okay. Your mental health is more important than your book.

Finally for those simply getting started late, having trouble coming up to the mark, or simply falling behind. It’s okay. The spirit of NaNo is about getting words written. Yes, there’s a goal. Yes, people get excited and brag about hitting milestones. But there is NO shame in having a lower word count. If you sit down and only write 100 words, that’s 100 more than you had before. That’s 100 more than Bob down the street that says, “I always wanted to write a book.” By putting words to the page, you have accomplished more than so many people. And my encouragement to you, is to keep writing. Keep going. My first book took 5 years to write. But I did it, and you can too.

Okay. I think that’s good for this topic. I do want to stress the mental health issue again real quick. If you’re struggling, if you’re hurting, please reach out to somebody. The world needs your story, but you have to be here first to tell it.

As always, thank you for reading and good luck with your writing!

NaNo – A Week In

I meant to make a post after the first couple days into NaNoWriMo and offer some inspiration. However, time got away from me and I was so busy with writing (both for NaNo and for school) that I just didn’t have time. In place of that though, I thought I’d do a recap and encouragement piece.

As of writing this, I’ve cracked the 12k word mark. I’m slightly ahead of the recommended pace, however because this part of the story is all new, I’m having difficulties with how it seems to be coming out. In fact, after the first or second night when I was done, I buried my face in a pillow and groaned because I was so dissatisfied. Much of what I have written, I will completely and totally rewrite for draft 2, much like I did with Eagle Down. That being said, I’m still trying to continue the tale. One major difference between books 1 and 2, is that I have three narratives going versus the one from book 1.

In Eagle Down, the story followed Lindsey exclusively (not including the epilogue) as she is the series protagonist and was working with the crew of the DSS Eagle and tying to get home. Phoenix Launch (Book 2), follows the group as they’re divided among various places in the universe. Lindsey and Axel are stranded and injured on a strange red planet with a seemingly dangerous android named Herald. Mike and Carol, aided by Hank and Teo’noot, are racing to Canius and Felius to prevent their annihilation at the hands of the Scarlet Flag. And Darren, Ewan, Natalie, Nlaea, and Ara are following a vision Ara had at the climax of Book 1 which showed a powerful sword that could stop Maston. Each of these parts of the story do connect, however it isn’t until the end that they come together. As I’m writing, I am trying to solve which perspective works best for the story. So far, Lindsey makes the most sense for her arc, while Mike seems to be strongest for theirs. The biggest challenge has comes in that third group.

Ewan was who I intended to stick with, as Book 2 was intended to get deep into his past with the intent of developing his conflict and character alongside Maston. The prologue is even a flashback and summary of his life prior to the story in Book 1. As I get further into this NaNo draft though, I am wanting to explore Nlaea’s perspective, Natalie’s perspective, and to some extent Darren’s. If I were to indulge all those threads, it would accumulate to 6 individual characters that the story is being told through, nearly double what I figured.

This brings me to my encouragement section. Perhaps a strange transition, but it’ll make sense I promise. I called this version of Phoenix Launch, my NaNo draft as opposed to a first draft. That’s because NaNoWriMo is not about creating the perfect draft. It’s about getting 50,000 words from your mind to the page. I almost entirely rewrote Eagle Down after I finished the NaNo draft last year because it was messy, unfocused, and littered with references to the places I drew inspiration from. First drafts are messy, but a NaNo draft is going to be even worse. The emphasis on getting your words down at a set pace is going to mean you sacrifice some quality, no matter how brilliant you may or may not be. The real hope, is that when you hit that 50k mark, is that you have a solid enough understanding of your story, that over the following months you can revisit it and refine it down to make the story you want.

So if you’ve got a dozen characters, and half of them get their own perspective during your NaNo draft, it’s okay! When you go back, you might realize that your telepathic magic space princess is more interesting than the orphaned and abandoned captain who’s searching for redemption. When you revise, you will have a better picture of your characters and story. But in the month of November, it’s simply about writing. Doesn’t matter who, what, where, when, why, or how. Just write.

That’s my thoughts on NaNoWriMo, a week in. I will try to be more timely with my next post and provide those who are struggling with their word counts some comfort as well.

In a quick news update, the cover for Eagle Down is complete! My friend Jessica has done a tremendous job with it, blending my imagination with the elements of my story to come up with a great piece that will grace the cover of Book 1 at its release. After NaNoWriMo ends, I’ll get back to editing Book 1 and we should be on pace to see its Q1/Q2 release in 2019!

As always, thank you for reading!

Special Horror Short 5 – Full Disclosure

Happy Halloween everybody! This month has been so much fun, leading up to this reveal. In addition to preparing a short horror story each week, I’ve been taking part in a fun month-long art based event called Linktober. It’s very similar to Inktober, which some of you may be familiar with, but everything is exclusively related to material from the Legend of Zelda. I managed to create some really great sketches that I may share over on my Zelda blog (if I ever get to updating that….).

Anyways, with next month being NaNoWriMo, I’m going to be very busy. If you read my NaNo Preview post, this may be a bit redundant but just in case somebody missed it, I’ll share what I’m working on next month. The second book in the Iron Chronicles of course! That’s right, Phoenix Launch will get it’s first 50k words in November. Does all that writing mean I’ll neglect this blog? No. I fully plan on sharing my process with you as I work through every day of (hopefully) more than 1665 words. I will try to get two posts a week, but once is more likely, and it will probably come on either Monday’s or Wednesdays. So look for that. I’m thinking of doing a playlist post, sharing what I’m listening to for this weekend and some tips on outlining.

Enough news! Let’s get to the big reveal! Full Disclosure was written a few years ago when I was trying to get my creative juices going. It sat in a folder with a handful of other stories until I received an email looking for submissions for a regional publication of fiction. I jumped at the opportunity, revised the tale into something that better fit the criteria, and then waited. And waited. And waited. When I had given up thinking it would be published, I was suddenly greeted by an acceptance email! A few months later, and my writing was in print on my doorstep! This is my first officially published work, and one that I am very proud of! Please enjoy!

As with all stories this month, READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED

Full Disclosure by David Wayne Nystrom

Michael and Danielle pulled up to the gate and drove through. Large and tall trees created a beautiful barrier between 1707 Large Oak drive and the neighboring houses. The house itself was built in a classic Victorian-style with two “towers” on the front, and a large bay window that sat just off to one side of the door.

The couple rolled to a stop behind what they correctly assumed to be their realtor’s bright red car. Before they got out, Danielle took Michael’s hand and smiled.

“I already have a great feeling about this place.”

“There is something different about this one, I admit,” Michael leaned over and gave his fiancé a small kiss.

As they walked up the small path that connected the front landing to the driveway, they marveled at the beautiful flowers that had been planted along the front of the house. Danielle knelt down and took a long smell from some of the purple and yellow blooms.

“Taking a moment to stop and smell the flowers?” A cheery female voice broke through the serenity of the moment.

A taller woman with dark hair and pale skin stood holding a thick clipboard to her chest on the porch. A pleasant and inviting smile was molded into her face and her lavender dress added a touch of professionalism necessary for a real estate agent.

“Good morning Vanessa, it’s nice to finally meet you,” Michael smiled and shook her hand.

“The same goes here. Good morning Mike, Danielle.”

The young couple followed their agent through the rounded entryway and into the foyer of the home. Their shoes clicked on the rich redwood floors as they took in the height of the room. It reached up to the second floor where a balcony looked down. A pair of beautiful support pillars stretched up just inside to the ceiling and the stairs directly in front of them had intricately designed banisters on either side.

“Wow, this is absolutely stunning,” remarked Michael. “It reminds me of the house my grandparents had.”

“It’s so beautiful. The pictures you sent us hardly do it justice. When was it built?”

“It was built in the late 1800’s,” Vanessa flipped through a few pages on her board before finding what she was looking for, “1899 actually. But it went through essentially a total renovation in the 50’s, and then was restored in 1997. All the hardware and piping were replaced in ’98 and has been maintained very well. There is a catch, the sellers are leaving the country and need to find a buyer soon, so there’s a lot of pressure to sell fast. They’re willing to cover any costs found in a home inspection, but want the home sold first.”

Danielle nodded, tracing her fingers along the woodwork on the support beam. She smiled and pointed up to the chandelier that hung over the base of the stairs.

“Take a few minutes to look around. There is a basement I can show you, and then there’s four bedrooms upstairs,” Vanessa walked down the hall to the left of the stairs and motioned to a room tucked in behind them. “There’s a half bath here and this hall leads into the kitchen.”

Michael and Danielle wandered around the home’s first floor. There was a formal dining room on the left side, with double doors that connected it to the foyer. A sitting room sat in the front portion of the home on the right side, and that connected to another sitting room of sorts in the back. The kitchen, which had had some additional upgrades done to it more recently, filled the back half of the home. Upgraded appliances, beautifully finished cabinets, and a sink inside the island completed Danielle’s checklist for that room. They took a brief look around the upstairs and were pleasantly surprised at the size of the bedrooms and the closets.

“You mentioned a basement, right?” Michael asked when they returned to the first floor.

“Ah yes, I did,” Vanessa led them back into the kitchen and to a door they had simply overlooked in their excitement.

When she opened the door, the stairwell before them echoed in the absolute darkness. The couple headed down, turning on the light with a flicker on their way. The stairs ended at a small landing and a door that led back in under the house. They slid the door away and marveled at the finished basement. They were even more pleased by the house’s second full bathroom that was hidden away in the depths. As they turned to leave, they turned the lights of the basement off, plunging it back into pure darkness.

“Michael, this house is perfect.”

Michael nodded with a smile, putting his arm around her.

They returned to the kitchen where Vanessa had remained and took seats at the table and chairs that were there.

“There’s two big questions we have about the home,” Michael began.

“Yes, it’s within your budget, yes you can move in right away,” Vanessa joked.

“Well I suppose that is one question answered,” Michael laughed, “but my second question is about the history of the home. You said it was built back in 1890-something, right? With a house this old, I suspect it has some sort of history, right?”

Vanessa frowned, an expression that given her bubbly personality so far, seemed out of place.

“Well since you asked, yes there are a few things to note about its history.” She cleared her throat and folded her hands as she began, “the first family to live in the house were the ones that had it built. In 1914, the husband was called away to Washington to help with matters concerning the Great War overseas. After a few years, and when the United States opted to enter, he was sent over and killed in action. All the while the wife and their two children lived here. Unfortunately, when news of her husband’s death reached her, the wife went into a deep state of depression and became involved in eccentric forms spiritualism. Her children were eventually taken from her by the local authorities and in 1919, she hung herself from the second floor.”

Danielle gasped and threw her hand over her gaping mouth. Michael shook his head and frowned.

“Well that certainly puts this home in a new light. Is there anything else?”

Vanessa sighed, “yes, I’m afraid there is. The house went vacant for a few years before a new family moved in. They were from a different city, and hadn’t heard the story of the original family, so they had no reason to think twice about the home. They were a wealthy family and did very well for themselves despite the early days of the depression. However, it eventually caught up to them as well when the father lost his job. They had bought the house outright, so they could continue living here, but eventually had to start selling off their furniture to pay for food. In the winter of 1936 though, they died in the living room when their fire went out and they froze to death.”

Michael sat with his mouth open. He began to say something, then stopped himself, before finally uttering, “wow.”

“There was one more occasion, I’m afraid, in the ‘60’s. Are you still interested in the home at all?”

The couple looked at each other, then around the kitchen. Danielle nodded, and Michael made a gesture as if to say, “yes, we’d like to hear the last story.”

“It was the early 1960’s when the Harrison’s moved in. A hard-working father, the mom was a nurse, two children, and the father’s elderly mother. The house had been empty since ’36, so when they moved in, it was a family project to make the place livable, and they did it. The biggest fix-up they did to the place though, was in the basement. They added that additional bathroom, along with preparing it as a fallout shelter. Anyways, as paranoia grew from the Cold War, the popularity of the Harrison’s bunker grew, and eventually they began hosting fallout drills for the neighborhood. One day, the city issued a drill and everybody in the neighborhood raced over to get into the shelter, except that nobody was answering the door. Everybody knew that the Harrison’s were home, their car was parked in the drive, so somebody went home and phoned the police.”

“Did they pass away in the house too?” Danielle interrupted.

“Three of them did, yes. The mother and two children were found in the fallout shelter by the police that afternoon, having been burned to death.”

An audible gasp came from both Danielle and Michael. He put his arm around her, as she shook her head in despair.

“The father, who the police suspected committed the crime, turned out was innocent. They had just dropped him off at the airport that morning, where he was getting ready to catch a flight to a job interview.”

“That’s just terrible,” Michael commented.

“He came back, but never set foot inside the house again. He made claims that the house was haunted, and that ghosts had murdered his family. In those times, the only place people who made claims like that went, was… Well, those places were worse than the history of this house,” she finished with a touch of sadness rolling out with the words.

The three of them sat in silence for a few minutes. The grizzly details of the home’s history certainly had the couple rethinking their love of the home. It was beautiful, filled with character and functionality. It was everything they wanted, at a price they could easily afford, and in the neighborhood they wanted. It’s history though, meant a lot of baggage with those perks.

Michael, with his lips pressed together in thought eventually broke the silence. He said, “what happened to the grandmother? Wasn’t the dad’s mom living with them too?”

“I’m not sure. When the police went upstairs where she mostly stayed, she had gone.”

The answer didn’t sit well.

“What are your thoughts?” Michael asked Danielle.

“To be honest, I don’t know.”

“Would you mind if we took a few minutes to talk it over in private?”

Vanessa nodded politely, pushed her chair out, then headed towards the sitting room on the other side of the home.

Danielle walked over to the sink and looked out on the small back yard. Michael remained at the table and drummed his fingers on the table.

“I love this house,” Danielle said, turning her back to the sink, “but I don’t honestly know if I could live here without being constantly scared.”

“I know what you mean,” Michael blew out a long breath.

“I wish we could just wash that history away. If we could, I’d be all over this house without another thought, but,” Danielle trialed off and shook her head.

Michael stood up and walked over to his fiancé, putting his arms around her. He rested his chin on her head that snuggled into his chest. A moment passed, and he pulled away with a smile on his face.

“What?”

“We’ll pass on the house. If we’re that torn about it, it will constantly eat at us and that’s not how I want our lives together to start. We’ll rent that small apartment for a while, then once I’m settled in my job, we can look at buying a place.”

An expression of relief came over Danielle’s face as she hugged him tight. They briefly kissed, and Michael left to go and tell Vanessa their decision. Danielle turned back to look at the yard.

As she was looking out, she noticed a small smudge on the window in the corner. As she leaned in more, she saw that it wasn’t a smudge. It was a hand print, about the size of a child’s. She wiped it off with her sleeve, assuming a family or somebody else had come through and viewed the home at one point. When she pulled her arm away though, the print was still there. In fact, it had grown larger and more defined.

She squinted at it to get a better view, when suddenly a voice caused her to jump and turn around.

“So, you’re turning it down, I hear?” Vanessa said.

“What? Oh! Yes, we’re just going to rent for now. Michael’s new job is going to be taxing enough, dealing with the history of this place might be too much for us honestly,” Danielle smiled.

“I’m sorry to hear that, but I totally understand,” Vanessa smiled back.

Danielle glanced back at the window and noticed the handprint had gone. She shrugged and began towards the door out of the kitchen. She began rummaging through her purse for her keys as she passed Vanessa.

“Is Michael out front?” Danielle asked, realize she hadn’t spotted her husband-to-be.

“No, I believe he went upstairs,” Vanessa’s cheerful voice replied. “I’m sure he’ll be right down.”

“Michael!” Danielle called.

There was a shuffle of feet from above, followed by a heavy bump sound. Michael’s body then plunged from the balcony above and came to a sudden stop a few feet above the ground.

A horrendous shriek went up from Danielle as she stumbled backwards towards the front door. Michael’s body spun slowly toward her, revealing milky white eyes, a twisted fearful expression, and a variety of cuts across it.

Danielle scratched and grabbed desperately at the doorknob, wanting nothing more than to get away. When she finally managed to grasp the handle completely, she yanked on it as hard as she could. It did not move.

“There he is,” the now chillingly jubilant voice of Vanessa cut through the horror.

Danielle, shaking with fear, looked over her shoulder at the realtor. Vanessa walked forward through the hall with a spring in her step like that of a school child. When she got close enough, she gave Michael’s body a playful shove, followed by a haunting giggle.

Danielle again, desperately tried the door.

“Where are you going?”

Danielle felt an overpowering force grab her and pull her backwards into the house. She struck the furthest back wall and watched as the door to the basement slammed open. The force that grabbed her again took hold and sent her tumbling down the stairs. With a heavy and hard landing, broken by her shoulder, she landed on the basement floor. She scrambled upright and let out a painful cry as she tried to stand.

She reached into her purse and fumbled around until she found her phone. She pulled it out and turned on the flashlight. As soon as she did though, another, less powerful force yanked the phone away and sent it spinning across the basement floor producing a sort of nightmarish strobe effect.

She was about to go after it when a sudden motion to her left, alerted Danielle that somebody else was in the basement. Before her stood a pale boy, with frozen hair and an icy chill radiating off of him. Slowly he raised a finger to his lips.

“Shhhh…”

Danielle’s eyes opened wide in terror. The house was silent after the boy faded away. Danielle looked away after a moment, and simply stared down at the floor in shock.

A cracking sound from the floor above broke the stillness.

Danielle’s eyes shot up the stairs.

Vanessa was perched at the top of the stairs like a gargoyle. Her long black hair was hanging down all around her head, concealing her face, and her sunshine voice had been replaced by a throaty and rumbly growl. She stood there a moment, sniffing the air.

Danielle did all she could to keep the boy’s advice, throwing both hands over her mouth and nose.

Vanessa then turned and began to walk away. With every motion, the wet snapping and popping of bones filled Danielle’s ears and tested her composure. After a few moments passed, she looked to her left to see the boy standing there again.

He waved politely and pointed upward to where the front door would have been. In the distance, Danielle could hear the sound of the front door slowly creaking open. She did not hesitate. She began crawling up the stairs.

The pain in her ankle was excruciating, and it fought back against her attempts at walking with every bit of pressure. She managed to get to her feet and hobble up each step, eventually reaching the first floor.

To her left was the hallway, that she could take to the foyer, that was home to the open front door.

She took a step. Then another. She made it through the kitchen and was into the hallway. Michael’s body was gone. His absence gave her a moment’s pause, but she continued on.

“Danielle.”

Her hand was on the doorframe when she heard Michael’s voice.

“Where are you going?”

She looked over her shoulder. Michael was standing at the far end of the hallway, casually and with an inviting smile.

“Mi-Mi-Michael?”

As his name floated past her lips, she glimpsed the frozen boy standing behind Michael. His eyes were down, and his mouth flat with disappointment. He lifted his head and gave a slow wave before turning and walking in the direction of the front room. He took a seat in front of the fireplace and a young girl, a woman, and a man then slowly appeared with him. Each of them had frost stuck in their hair and glowed with the same icy blue aura.

Michael took a step forward, drawing Danielle’s attention back to him. When his foot touched the beautiful hardwood, it turned to rot. The beauty of the house faded away as he drew closer and closer. As he passed the bottom of the stairs, Danielle held her hand out to say stop.

“Welcome home,” he said with a grin.

The sounds of cracking and snapping bones again filled her ears and she frantically looked around for the source. Danielle couldn’t see where the noise was coming from. Then it paused, and she looked up above her slowly. The bestial version of Vanessa leapt on top of Danielle, pinning her to the ground. Vanessa opened her mouth, and her jaw snapped in several places opening impossibly wide.

Danielle kicked and punched from underneath for a moment, but soon felt the darkness close in all around her. Everything began to grow quiet and eventually silence engulfed her.

 

*          *          *          *          *

            “Is this the place?” Carol asked, looking up from her phone.

            “Looks like it. Wow, the pictures just don’t do it justice!” Henry laughed as he pulled through the gate and parked behind the bright red car already in the drive way.

“Daddy, look at those flowers!” The young girl in the back seat threw off her seat belt and practically leapt out of the door before scrambling to the flower bed that rested underneath one of the grand bay windows.

“Be careful!” Henry called out as he shut the car off and stepped out.

A woman with pale skin and dark hair stepped out from the front porch, wearing a tremendous smile.

“Vanessa, nice to actually meet you,” Carol extended her hand as she greeted the realtor.

“Same here, phone calls and email just don’t have the same power. I think you’re really going to like this place.”