The evening before the night of the earth’s demise was beautiful. I found my mother watching the sunset while sitting on the long cushioned bench on our back porch. The golden sun and the light pink sky reflected off the surface of the small pond behind our house. Ducks played with each other in the water. They seemed happy and unaware of my mother’s presence. She seemed happy and unaware of mine.
I walked out onto the porch quietly. I always walk quietly.
The air was warm, but not hot. The breeze swept my hair into my eyes and I pushed it away. I looked at my mother, and she looked old. I guess I had never really considered her age before. We had celebrated her forty-seventh birthday about a month ago. We had celebrated my sixteenth just a week before that. She wasn’t old, really. But this evening she looked—well, she looked wise.
She looked peaceful.
Once my mom noticed me, she smiled warmly and waved me over to her. I sat down on the bench next to her and stared at the purpling sky. She stared at me in the way mothers stare at their sons, the way a sculptor might stare at her work. Is it finished? Does it need a final touch?
“Arthur, you look more and more like your father every day,” she said.
“I wouldn’t know,” I said.
My mother shook her head. “Okay, go ahead, be the victim. Be the poor young boy always afflicted by the absence of the father he never knew.”
“I was just kidding,” I said without joy.
She didn’t respond right away, but sighed and joined me in staring at the vanishing sun. I could sense something weighing on her mind. I wish I had been more willing to talk to her about it.
“Your life is not going to be like this forever, Arthur,” my mother said. “The world is bigger than high school, and I know it’s hard to see that now, but it is. It will be for you. You won’t always have to worry about—”
“It’s okay, Mom.”
She looked at me with deep concern in her eyes. It hurt for a moment because I knew she was blaming herself for things I had done, things that were my fault.
“It’s not okay, Arthur,” she said. “And I don’t think you think it’s okay, either. Maybe not having a father in your life has left you without certain… resources. If it has, that’s my fault, and I want you to know I’m sorry.”
“Mom,” I said in my annoyed voice. I didn’t want to have this conversation. I didn’t want to have to think about why I was awkward, or why I was different, or why every other kid I came across sniffed that difference out like a predator, pounced on it, and exposed it for everyone else to see and abuse. And I never ever again wanted to have to talk about what happened as a result of coping with that suffering, what I did. “It’s fine,” I lied. “Just let’s leave it alone.”
And she did. She left it alone.
The sun set and we went inside for the night. I sat in my room and read a book, and I don’t know what my mom spent her night doing. Everything was quiet until I got tired and fell asleep. Everything was normal until I awoke to hear my mother shouting.
“Get up!” I heard her cry. “Arthur! Get up!”
I sprung out of bed, pulled on a pair of jeans, and ran out onto the back porch. What I saw in the night sky was both the most beautiful and terrifying thing I could imagine. It looked like a thousand clouds of multicolored light were exploding in slow motion. I noticed my mother standing against the porch railing, and she looked overwhelmed.
“What’s happening?” I asked.
My mother just shook her head with her mouth hanging wide.
The colored clouds slowly grew all across the sky, blooming like a celestial fire. Immense billows of yellow, blue, green, and pink drifted and pulsed the way sand kicked up underwater does before it settles again and the water clears. Yet this wasn’t sand in the water, and the sky gave no sign of clearing.
The colored light grew more and more intense, and now a loud rumble came from the sky. I looked at my mother and the colors reflected off of her face the way a fireworks display might. We were mesmerized, petrified, and unable to explain what was happening other than to wonder if we were somehow in a dream. Though it was beyond obvious this wasn’t a dream. My body felt more awake than I can ever remember. It was as if every vein in my body was flushed with adrenaline.
Then, as we stood on the porch in the glow of the impossible, the clouds broke open, and the fires fell to earth.
“Should we run?” I shouted above the increasing barrage of sound coming from above.
“To where?” my mother asked, though I never heard her words. I merely read her lips, as the roar of the sky falling upon us was all that could be heard.
The ground shook fast and terrible, and we fell down on the wooden slats of the porch. It was like being underneath a rocket as it prepared to blast off. The world was nothing but tremor and dissonance. I yelled for my mother and tried to reach for her, but the last thing I saw was her face disappear into the blinding white light.
And I lost her.
And then there was nothing but black.
I can’t remember what came next.
• • •
“Hey, get up,” I heard someone mutter. My head hurt and my mouth was dry. I didn’t want to respond, but the voice came again with more urgency. “C’mon get up, please. We need to get away from the Nullwood. We’re way too close, and if they see you…” I could hear the fear in the voice, a girl’s voice.
“What happened?” I asked.
“Seriously, please get up,” the girl said with mounting panic. “We need to get out of here.”
I slowly opened my eyes to a vast blue blur that was painfully bright. I shaded my eyes as they adjusted, and soon realized I was sitting under a blue sky in the middle of the day.
“We need to get away from the Nullwood,” the girl repeated.
I shook my throbbing head and swallowed hard against my dry throat. In front of me was a girl in a wheelchair who wore black-rimmed glasses. Her hair was long and light brown, pushed back with a thin white headband. She stared at me with green eyes, and her lips were pursed tight. It was obvious that she was upset I was being so slow. Her arms were tensed and ready to propel her wheelchair, her hands hovering just above the top arc of each wheel.
“Quick,” the girl said and spun the wheelchair around. “Follow me.”
She started wheeling her chair away from me, but I was disoriented. My head still hurt, and my back hurt too. As I lifted my arms to stretch I realized I wasn’t wearing a shirt. In fact, I didn’t have shoes on either. I was only wearing a baggy pair of jeans. I looked behind me, wondering where my other clothes might be, and received another shock.
Stretching out before me was a forest of gnarled black trees, so thick you could barely see into it. I stood up and staggered back from the massive growth. The trees looked dead, and the forest looked out of place in contrast to the green grass and blue sky. It was as if the trees marked a border into another world, a dark world. I took a couple more steps away from the tree line and felt a chill. Had I been in that place? Is this what the girl had been calling the Nullwood?
The girl was still wheeling herself away from me, and away from the Nullwood. I gathered myself and then ran after her.
“How long were you in there?” she asked me as I approached.
“I was in there?” I asked incredulously.
“Yeah,” she answered. “I saw you running out of the Nullwood before you collapsed onto the grass. So how long were you in there?”
“I don’t remember being in there,” I said, and suddenly felt afraid to tell the girl more. Yet I kept talking as if I had no control of my own mouth. “The last thing I remember is the sky opening.”
The girl stopped wheeling herself forward and turned to me with one thin eyebrow raised.
Immediately, I felt like an idiot who had just told a stranger about a bad dream. The sky hadn’t opened up. I realized how stupid that sounded only after it came out of my mouth.
“That can’t be the last thing you remember,” the girl said. “That happened like a month ago.”
I was shocked and speechless. Here I was, just outside a ghoulish black forest I had never seen before, sometime after an event I was ready to convince myself was a dream, and I was now being told that it wasn’t a dream, and I might have been in the woods for a month without recalling being there.
“You really don’t remember anything after the sky opened?” the girl asked after a moment of awkward silence. A bit of sympathy had entered her voice for the first time.
I simply shook my head.
The girl started wheeling herself forward again. What else could I do but follow?
“My name is Anna Leona,” she said. “If you want, I can take you to where I’m staying now. There are clothes that’ll probably fit you, plus food and water. What’s your name?”
“Arthur Kage,” I answered.
“Well, nice to meet you, Arthur who doesn’t remember anything,” she said in a brighter tone, almost as if she were amusing herself. Yet the brightness disappeared instantly as she continued. “I promise I’m not a danger to you, Arthur… but before we go any further, you should know that you can never tell anyone you came out of the Nullwood.” Anna turned to look at me again with her serious green-eyed glare, though I could see compassion behind its intensity. “Never.”
“Okay,” I said. Though I really wanted to ask why. Not saying what I wanted to say was a problem I had, as well as sometimes saying things I didn’t want to say.
We continued to move away from the Nullwood, but I turned briefly to glance back at it again. It was massive, stretching as far to the right and left horizons as I could see. It looked like something out of a Halloween nightmare. Tall barren trees, black as iron, and twisted like dead roots.
When I looked forward again, the scenery was both brighter and somehow more depressing. The grass was green and the sun shined in the clear blue sky, but life was missing. We were walking through a neighborhood, but it was a ghost town. The pavement was a ruin and every home looked like it had suffered in a terrible earthquake. A charred home on the left had half of its roof caved in. Another house on the right had walls that had fallen away, leaving it looking like a giant dollhouse. Back on my left, an abandoned car was left crashed into someone’s living room.
“What happened?” I asked, knowing full well that this is what had happened the night the sky opened.
Anna stopped and put a finger to her mouth. “Shh. Did you hear that?”
“Do you want me to be quiet, or tell you if I heard something?” I asked, even though I knew people didn’t like it when I asked questions like that.
Anna frowned at me, but then her head snapped around and she looked down the street. “Quick,” she said, now lowering her voice. “Wheel me over to that broken brown house. We need to hide inside.”
I did as she asked. I was in no position to argue.
As we reached the house, I had to lift Anna and her chair up over a jagged lip of foundation, floor, and exposed framework. I never would have described myself as strong, but Anna was light and the chair wasn’t very bulky. Once we were up onto the cracked tile floor of the house, she wheeled herself behind a large brown sofa and waved me over frantically.
“Please get down and don’t make a single sound,” she said in a whisper. “I really don’t want them to hurt you.”
I did what she said, getting down on my hands and knees. Anna stayed in her chair but slouched down so she was hidden behind the couch. There was a dusty throw blanket on the couch. She snatched it and quickly threw it over us. I held my breath, not knowing what we were hiding from, but then I heard voices out on the street.
“Dinner still two hours off,” a male voice grumbled. “I prefer six o’clock to seven. We should change it to six.”
“Doesn’t matter,” a female voice replied. “We can’t go back until the perimeter check is complete, and I’m guessing we’ve got two hours or more before we get it finished.”
The man grumbled something unintelligible, and the woman laughed.
“Did you complain this much before the Demise?” she asked.
The man didn’t answer.
Anna slowly lifted her cover just enough to peer out. I was racked with curiosity, so I parted the blanket enough to see and ducked my head just slightly around the corner of the couch. To the left, the broken wall of the house granted me an unimpeded view of the Nullwood off in the distance. Then through the open front door of the house, I could see two people walking down the street in drab clothing, both carrying long black guns at their sides.
I had so many questions I wanted to ask at that moment. Who were those people? Did Anna know them? What were they checking the perimeter for, and what were they walking the perimeter of? But most importantly, why did two innocent teenagers need to hide from them?
Then Anna sneezed.
We both ducked quickly back under the blanket. By the bit of dim light coming through the fabric, I could see Anna’s face twisted in frustration, and she was silently mouthing swears.
“Did you hear that?” the woman asked out on the street.
“Sure did,” the man answered. “Look over there. We got a couple coming out of the Nullwood.”
Anna’s eyes shot open, and she slowly peered out of the blanket again. I followed her lead and looked out the broken wall toward the Nullwood. Sure enough, there were two people coming out of the black trees, but they were far enough away that it was hard to see much detail.
“Stop where you are!” the woman yelled, as she and the man raised their guns.
They jogged out toward the people emerging from the Nullwood, and after a minute it got hard to see what was going on. I certainly couldn’t hear what anyone was saying. A moment passed as I watched, and then there was some shouting.
“Don’t watch, Arthur,” Anna whispered.
I didn’t listen to her, but I should have. Gunshots rang out, and one of the people who came out of the Nullwood fell to the ground. The other screamed. Then came more gunshots and that person fell also. I tucked myself back under the blanket and tried to calm my breathing.
They shot them. They shot the people who came out of the Nullwood.
“They’ll shoot anyone that comes out of the Nullwood,” Anna whispered as if she had heard my thoughts. Her voice was laced with shame. “We have to stay silent and under the blanket until they go away.”
There was no part of me that was ready for this. Somehow I had landed, half-naked, in a new world, and I understood none of what was happening. I couldn’t even ask the first person I met to explain it for fear that making noise might get me killed, and killed for what, I didn’t even know. All I knew was that we were lucky those people had come out of the Nullwood just as Anna had sneezed. Those people might have saved my life.
We spent a long time in silence before Anna finally moved and peered outside of the blanket. I couldn’t move with all of the thoughts racing through my mind, and waited for her to report back. More minutes passed, and then she pulled the blanket off of us. Anna sat up in her chair, and I sat on the floor with my back against the couch. I hugged my knees into my chest and stared at Anna. She must have realized I couldn’t find my voice because she started explaining.
“A lot of people died the night the sky opened,” Anna said. “Fire and rock fell down on everything. That’s why these houses are the way you see them, and it’s like this everywhere. There are not a lot of survivors. There’s no electricity. It’s like the end of the world. David has the survivors calling it the Demise.”
“David?” I asked.
“He’s the guy who sort of runs things now,” Anna said. “Most survivors live in the high school with him. I guess he used to be in the military or something. He has a lot of guns, and he’s the one who decided to kill everyone who comes out of the Nullwood.”
I just shook my head in confusion. It was too much to comprehend. I didn’t even know what I wanted to know, or what question I wanted to ask. I guess the silence got awkward because Anna kept talking.
“The Nullwood was just there the morning after the Demise. No one knows why or how it grew, but it’s massive. Scouts have traveled north and south along its border to find the end of it, and can’t. No one will go into it though.”
“So, is this still…” I was afraid to ask my question.
“This is Florida,” Anna said. “Flagler County. Is this where you’re from?”
I nodded silently, completely awestruck. I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t want to admit this had happened to my home. It would somehow have been easier to imagine I had been transported to another world, or another place. At least then I could dream of a way to get back to where I belonged; I could dream of a way to get back to the way things used to be. But this… I couldn’t reconcile this.
“How long did you say it’s been?” I asked.
“Some of the survivors have been counting the days,” Anna answered, and then looked down. “I haven’t. It doesn’t really seem to matter anymore, but… I think it’s been maybe a month since the Demise.”
“How have I lost that much time?” Tears welled in my eyes, but then shame kept them from falling. I couldn’t cry in front of Anna.
“You really don’t remember being in the Nullwood at all?” Anna asked.
“No.” I couldn’t remember a thing. “Where are we now? I mean, what parts of Flagler County are Nullwood now?”
“The Nullwood starts about where Belle Terre Parkway used to be,” Anna said. “The scouts say the tree line sort of runs north and south. I’m guessing you lived west of Belle Terre.”
“So you’ve been in the Nullwood for a month,” Anna said, looking as pale as I felt.
I nodded again.
“You can’t tell anyone,” she added. “Ever.”
“Why?” I asked, tears threatening to return.
“They’ll kill you, Arthur,” Anna said.
“I know that.” I was getting angry now. “I saw that. But why? Why? There might be millions of people still alive in the Nullwood who need help.”
“Some bad things come out of the forest,” Anna said meekly. “People are scared. No one knows what to do.”
“Bad things?” I asked. My anger faded because Anna seemed genuinely afraid.
“Monsters,” she said, and I could see she felt foolish saying it that way. “Mynahs, we call them. They come out of the Nullwood at night, and they kill people. Sometimes they take people. David says that people who go into the Nullwood eventually turn into mynahs. So he thinks we should kill everything that comes out of the Nullwood… even if it’s people.”
Stupidly, it only now occurred to me that I had come out of the Nullwood, and Anna had not killed me. She had helped me. She had protected me.
“You don’t agree with David, do you?” I asked her.
Anna shook her head and paused before speaking. “My parents always used to say that when people don’t understand something, they get afraid, and then they get dangerous. We don’t understand what happened to us, but that doesn’t mean that our decisions should be made in fear. It doesn’t mean we should kill people just because we’re afraid.”
A tear fell down Anna’s cheek.
I wanted to hug her, but I didn’t. I wanted to thank her. I didn’t do that either.
“Why were you near the Nullwood?” I asked.
Anna brushed her cheek with the back of her hand, and then grabbed the wheels of her chair.
“We have to get to Esteban’s Bar before the sun goes down,” she said.
“You mean that old bar on the beach that always has a special on crab legs?”
“It’s where I stay now,” she said. “Come on. Let’s go.”
• • •
The sun had almost set and only dim light remained, but even in the twilight the familiar sound of the waves breaking against the shore and the smell of salt in the air would have let me know where I was. My mother and I had come to this beach hundreds of times over the years. I grew up here. So it was devastating to see the state it was in now.
Restaurants I had eaten at dozens of times were leveled. Even the road along the beach was missing massive chunks, like a hurricane had swept through and eroded the land. It felt like a foreign place when contrasted with my memories. I used to read books on the other side of the dunes. I used to draw sketches of the crabs that came out of their holes to try to scavenge a meal. I used to watch people play in the water with their dogs, or walk along in the wet sand, hand in hand. I used to hear the music coming from some of the patio restaurants and bars. I used to smell the fried fish.
It was all gone now, but Esteban’s still remained.
I had never been inside Esteban’s. I was too young to drink, and my mother didn’t like crab legs. She said it was a dive, and I think one time she used the adjective scummy. Honestly, all I remembered about Esteban’s was that everyone except for my mother raved about their crab legs. Well, that and the old wooden sign they had over the front awning that had the name of the bar painted in big white letters. It was pretty ugly, really, but at this moment it was something familiar and comfortable to hold onto in a world that had turned into a nightmare.
At the service entrance to Esteban’s, Anna knocked on the red metal door. She said the front doors were barricaded, and the only way Jim and Kay would know it was her was to knock four times on the back service entrance. Anna had been staying with Jim and Kay since the Demise.
The door swung open, and a big guy with wavy blonde hair and a decent tan stood in our way.
“We were wondering where you had gotten off to, Ann– whoa, whoa, whoa.” The big guy reached for something just inside the door, and then the spade end of a shovel was thrust right up under my chin. “Who are you?”
“He’s obviously with me, Jim,” Anna said in annoyance. “Would you put the shovel down and let us in?”
Jim looked me over with caution before slowly lowering the shovel. “Who is this guy?” he asked.
“His name is Arthur, and I found him on the beach to the south,” Anna said. “He must have fallen and hit his head because he doesn’t remember anything. He doesn’t even remember where his shirt and shoes are.”
That sounded prepared, I thought.
“That sounded prepared,” Jim said.
“Would you just let us in,” Anna griped. “It’s getting dark out here.”
Jim stepped out of the way, and Anna wheeled herself inside Esteban’s. It was odd to see Anna regard Jim with such scorn. She had been gentle and compassionate with me. Her change in attitude was unexpected. I made to follow but Jim barred my way with one of his massive arms. He turned and stood over me, and I had to look up at him. Jim must have been at least six-foot-five.
“If you try to hurt her,” he said. “I will break you in half.”
Jim dropped his massive arm after his threat and shot me a fake smile. I wanted to say something witty and condescending to him. But I didn’t think of anything, and I probably wouldn’t have said it even if I had.
I walked past Jim into Esteban’s and followed Anna as she wheeled herself down a hallway. When I caught up to her we moved through a side door into a large room. It was the bar room, and all of the tables and chairs had been pushed up against the doors and windows as barricades. The sun was setting outside, so there was a small fire in an iron bowl sitting in the center of the room. A girl sat next to the fire, and she looked up at me as Anna and I approached. She had pretty blue eyes that stood out in the dim room, and suddenly I felt very aware that I wasn’t wearing a shirt.
“We’re taking in strays now?” she asked with a crooked smile.
“His name is Arthur,” Anna said. “Arthur, this is Kay.”
“He has amnesia,” Jim said sarcastically from behind me. He appeared out of the darkness and tossed me a white shirt. “Here. I’ll get boots for you in the morning.”
“Thanks,” I said and quickly put the white tee shirt on. It was much too big for me. I assumed it was Jim’s.
Jim sat down next to Kay and crossed his legs. He was barefoot, in red shorts and a white tank top. He looked like the stereotype of a good-looking blonde guy at the beach, sitting down next to his girl to roast marshmallows on an open fire. When he casually put his hand on Kay’s thigh and she barely reacted to his touch, I realized my guess wasn’t too far off.
“You really have amnesia?” Kay asked.
“You’re lucky,” she said. “There are things I’d certainly like to forget.”
Kay’s eyes grew wistful, and Jim put an arm around her shoulders to comfort her. Though he was very tan, his arms were pale in the firelight against Kay’s brown shoulders. She looked up at him and his tough facade melted at her gaze.
I realized everyone here must have lost quite a bit recently, and then I thought of my mother. My breath caught and I couldn’t believe myself. How was this the first time I had thought about my mother since waking up? Was I that terrible of a son? Before I could shame myself into stopping, I ended up crying in front of three strangers.
Silent minutes passed as the small fire flickered before us. Outside the wind whipped off of the ocean and against the front of Esteban’s. It howled as night fell, as if in response to my sadness.
The guilt of not looking for my mother immediately stung, and was compounded because I had been so cold to her during our last night together. Why couldn’t I just have had a real conversation with her? I never told my mother anything that would have mattered to her, at least not the way she would have wanted to hear it. She wanted to know that she had done all right by me. She wanted to know I appreciated her. In our last night together on the back porch, she was giving me another chance. Now, I might have lost my chance forever. What if I couldn’t find her again? What if she was…
I wiped my eyes on the back of my hand and then realized I wasn’t the only one crying. Jim was red in the face, and wet in the eyes, but he refused to let his tears fall. Kay leaned against him sniffling, staring into the fire, her cheeks wet. Anna’s glasses were on her lap, and she was rubbing the wetness from her eyes just like me.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m worried about my mother. I don’t remember anything that happened after the sky opened. I don’t know what happened to her.”
“She was all you had?” Jim asked.
He stood up and left the light of the fire, but only briefly, returning with four rolled sleeping bags. He dropped two next to Kay, tossed one to me, and then walked over to Anna. There he held out the last rolled sleeping bag.
“Can I help?” he asked her.
“No,” Anna answered curtly. “I wish you’d stop asking me that.”
“Sorry,” Jim muttered, seeming sheepish for the first time.
He turned and walked back to Kay, and then everyone laid their sleeping bag out. It was obvious they were finished talking for the night. I was hungry and thirsty but didn’t want to talk any more. In truth, I wanted to close my eyes and be done with the day more than I wanted to eat or drink, so I followed suit and stayed silent.
I’d never prayed before, but as I lay in that sleeping bag, in a world that had almost completely been destroyed, I prayed for dreamless sleep. I prayed for a never-ending dreamless sleep so I would never have to deal with this changed world, so I would never have to think about the things I had lost, and so I would never have to figure out what came next. I prayed because, in a world that had grown so dark, I didn’t know how I would ever find a guiding light again.
Laying on my side, I stared at the flame in the center of the room. I watched as it flickered and shrank, and as I did, I slowly fell asleep.
END OF CHAPTER ONE
Everflame: Mystic Wild will be released Summer 2019. To make sure you know when follow me on social media or sign up for my newsletter.
As always, thanks for reading! – Dylan Lee Peters
A brief warning: if you are not up to date with the show, having watched season eight, episode fi—aww seven hells, does it even matter at this point?
I’m not boasting, but I did get a fair amount of predictions right last week. (Though they were fairly easy to peg as we get closer to the end).
I predicted Dany would become the Mad Queen and torch King’s Landing, and though I did not predict the correct manner of death, I did predict the deaths of Euron, Qyburn, The Mountain, The Hound, Jaime, Cersei, and Varys. I also predicted they would bring the show back to Winterfell for the final episode, as Arya would escape the ruins of King’s Landing to let Sansa know the Mad Queen is coming for her.
So I did get some things right, amid the morass of things I got wrong.
I invite you to read last week’s blog post here. I hope it’s at least entertaining if not clairvoyant.
• • •
But moving forward and setting our sights on the series finale, I find myself pondering the epic amount of disappointment this season has wrought. I have my own opinions, of course, but I’ve also talked to a fair amount of GoT viewers and have yet to find someone who thinks the writers have been hitting home runs all season long. People are disappointed with the ending. It’s moving from opinion to fact as fast as Daenerys Targaryen turning from Breaker of Chains to Murderer of Children.
I mean, we all knew it wasn’t going to be a happy ending.
But did we think we were going to be left unsatisfied? I can’t say that I did.
Mother of Dragons fans were prepared for their heroine’s death, but were they prepared for her story arc to be far less than heroic, and logically problematic. Tyrion Lannister fans thought they would see their man go out as the “god of tits and wine,” not as the biggest fool in all of Westeros. We wanted to see Jaime dead, but redeemed. We wanted to see Cersei dead, but through Stark vengeance. We wanted another Red Wedding. We wanted Joffrey’s poisoning.
What we are getting this season can only be described as limp.
Quick side note: I’m not advocating for the happy ending. I’m comfortable with “things going wrong” such as the idea of Daenerys breaking bad. But it needs to be earned, and feel organic. With a shortened last season, and so much to tie up, they were never going to have enough time for added character building. They needed to lean on the character arcs of past seasons, so unfortunately Dany going cray-cray just doesn’t make sense. She’s been alone in the past; she’s lost loved ones in the past, yet she still maintained her cool, and her purpose. I mean we just watched her torch a city full of kids and innocent people because she couldn’t get laid. WTF? It was highly out of character, and I’m sorry, but that’s just lazy storytelling.
Think of your favorite character, large or small, and tell me you’ve been satisfied with their story this season. There are a few, sure, but mostly you can’t. From the Night King down to Ghost we wanted more. From Varys to Cersei we expected greater intrigue. From Jaime to Jon Snow we just wanted it all to have more gravity.
So I’m left to wonder. Is this incompetence? Are the show writers mailing it in? Is this just what happens when there are too many egos, too much money, and not enough time?
OR is disappointment the intended theme.
Maybe the existential battle we wanted was the Night King versus the living, but the existential battle we’re getting is our heroes versus the inevitability of failure.
So that is the theme I’m going to use for predicting episode six. Disappointment and the inevitability of failure. We wanted Jaime dead, but also wanted him to stand as proof that people can change. Except what we got was a reminder that change is hard, and more often than not people don’t change. More often than not an arrogant, callous, incestuous prick is just that and nothing more. Jaime doesn’t learn from his mistakes and make a life with Brienne, he tucks tail and runs back to his sister to be buried under the mess his family made.
It’s depressing… but that’s Game of Thrones. Here’s my predictions:
Tormund Giantsbane, Yara Greyjoy, Samwell Tarly, Gilly, Little Sam, Ghost and Nymeria – These characters are actually just gone. They won’t pop back up for the final episode to play some important part in defending Winterfell. We won’t get to see what’s going on with their new lives. It’s just done, because sometimes people leave and there is no closure. Sometimes people just go, and it’s awkward or depressing. Sometimes Jon doesn’t pet his dog goodbye, and it just ends that way. Stop crying! There’s no crying in Game of Thrones! Just stare off into the void and do nothing under the unbearable weight of existence like the rest of us…
Podrick Payne – Oh he’ll get like thirty seconds of camera time, standing behind Brienne or something, and that will literally be all he does. Because Game of Thrones wants to remind the try-hards of the world that no one actually cares.
Bran Stark – Speaking of doing next to nothing, that’ll be what Bran does too. He’ll probably just crawl into a hole under the Weirwood tree in Winterfell, get all comfy in the roots, and spend a generation seeing the world through other people’s eyes. Bran is that one friend you had in high school who was a really smart kid with a bright future, then smoked weed one time and it was over. That kid turned into a burn out, forever lost in a cloud of smoke, talking about weird shit like three-eyed ravens. Someone get Bran a bag of Cheetos for episode six.
Greyworm – is going to commit suicide amid the ashes of King’s Landing. This will be the intro scene for the episode. Good times.
Davos Seaworth – Davos will be the misplaced coffee cup in episode six. He won’t even be in costume. He’ll just show up in jeans and crocs, throwing out modern jargon like YOLO and resting bitch face (that’s for Daenerys). Jon Snow will laugh like he knows EXACTLY what his man Davos is talking about.
Drogon – Dany will inexplicably fly her dragon into the outer wall of Winterfell for some totally illogical reason like she saw Sansa glaring at her, and it just made her lose her mind. Because we all know, when Game of Thrones needs to get rid of the fantasy element of a show, they do so quickly and without any logical reason at all. Can I get a ‘hell yeah’ from the children of the forest?
Brienne – is actually going to die from shyness.
Tyrion Lannister – is going to get stabbed in the heart by a prostitute.
Sansa Stark – is going to stay alive forever just so she can tell everyone she meets “I tooold Jon not to trust her,” and “no I don’t feel sorry for him, he’s stuuupid.” And she’ll say it all in that Sansa Stark voice that sounds like what you’d imagine an eye-roll to sound like if an eye-roll had a voice. She will also do a lot of cross stitching.
Gendry and Arya Stark – Arya will hunt down Gendry and try to accept his marriage proposal, because for some reason she inexplicably decided there’s more to life than killing people, even though her character has literally never had one on camera moment of thinking that way, but you know, the Hound said some shit so everything changed. Then Gendry will rip off his face to reveal Jaqen H’ghar, (no I’m not letting this prediction die) who will kill Arya for the many-faced god, because even in our fantasy fiction there will always be assholes killing people for no reason because some god "told" them to.
Jon Snow – will do nothing important or intelligent or heroic in episode six. His destiny will be to travel north of the wall and build cabins for underprivileged wildling youth. No one will ever see him again, but he will die one day in an avalanche caused by a dire wolf.
Daenerys Targaryen – In the final episode of the series Daenerys will continue losing things, because that’s what she does. She’ll lose her army, lose her dragon, lose her alliance with anyone in Westeros, and continue to lose her mind. She will then be kidnapped and dropped off the side of a boat in a bundle of chains she will be ironically unable to break.
And who will do the kidnapping?
Bronn of the Blackwater – The final scene of Game of Thrones will be Bronn walking into the deserted former home of the Umbers, Last Hearth. You remember, the place the Night King tacked that dead kid to the wall in a spiral of body parts? Turns out Sansa gave it to Bronn in exchange for the kidnap and murder of the Mad Queen. Bronn will stroll in, arm in arm with some former brothel worker, and sit down in a big chair. He’ll pour himself some wine, raise a glass and then look at the woman.
“Don’t look so fucking disappointed,” he’ll say. “I’ve waited a long time for this.”
Thanks for reading,
Dylan Lee Peters
A story my mother often tells involves a porcelain clown and its subsequent demise at the hands of her favorite son. As legend would have it—yes, legend—my two-year-old self decided the clown was an affront to humanity, and smashed it with a baseball before it could infect the world with its evil. It’s not a particularly interesting story, but it comes up whenever conversation turns to clown phobia, which many people admittedly have. I suppose the story serves as a confirmation for those who are afraid of clowns. It’s a parable that verifies—yes, indeed—clowns are inherently evil, even a two-year-old child can see that.
A not-so-interesting fact never mentioned in the story’s retelling is that while my two-year-old self was shattering that porcelain clown in 1982, Stephen King was holed up in Bangor, Maine, writing his horror classic “It.” For those who don’t know, “It” is a story about children fighting against an evil entity that has taken the form of a clown.
The more I think about that coincidence the creepier it gets. It’s not an earth-shattering coincidence the likes of which would make someone believe in the supernatural and immediately tremble in fear. The fear is subtle; it gnaws at you. It causes that moment of discomfort in the recesses of your brain, and then you begin doubting reality.
It’s an unspectacular coincidence, my mind says. Something like it probably happened to tons of kids at that time. It’s a stupid thought...
But it IS sort of weird…
And then, of course, the overactive imagination takes over. What if King was literally writing at the moment I stopped and turned to look at the porcelain clown? What if it was a particularly grisly scene where a child was being attacked by the big baddie of King’s novel, Pennywise the Clown? What if I stared at the porcelain clown in my bedroom and heard the clack-clack of a distant typewriter just as a chill ran the length of my back? Maybe I grabbed the baseball at that moment for comfort; never letting my eyes leave the motionless porcelain clown, intuition telling me something was wrong. Maybe at that exact second Stephen King was typing the description of Pennywise the Clown reaching toward young Ben Hanscom, while in my bedroom I saw—or thought I saw—the eyes of my porcelain clown move ever so slightly in my direction. Maybe a voice echoed in my head asking me if I wanted a balloon. Maybe it told me I could float. Maybe at that moment the red painted smile of the porcelain clown opened slowly to reveal a row of jagged rotting teeth, and terrified, I threw the baseball as hard as I could, wishing for it all to end.
Maybe our imaginations can run away with us sometimes.
I recently read Stephen King’s “It,” after wanting to see the new movie, but procrastinating long enough that it had left my local theater. Reading the book seemed a good substitute. I won’t review the book here, as it seems a foolish thing to do more than thirty years after the release of said book. Especially when the book is already considered a classic of its genre. My opinion seems rather inconsequential. I will say this, however: “It” haunts me.
I sit and think about why the book haunts me, and it is not just the story, its themes, and concepts I can’t shake. I’m haunted by the real life inception of the book. I’m haunted by the possibilities of what was going on in Stephen King’s head when he wrote “It.”
It would take a lot more writing than a simple blog post to really dive into this topic—and frankly, I don’t really want to dive into it—but boiled down to its essence is this: Stephen King wrote a horror book about terrible things happening to a group of eleven-year-old kids (six boys; one girl), and he began writing this book just a few months after his own daughter had turned eleven. Again, his daughter turned eleven, and King spent the next four years writing about terrible things happening to children of her age. He wrote things violent, he wrote things emotional, and he even wrote things sexual.
Now, I understand that as writers we very often take inspiration from our own lives to create stories. That is not a new concept by any means. I used my own experience with adopting a rescue dog to fuel the story of “The Dean Machine.” To a large degree, I get it. But I just can’t get past the idea of having an eleven-year-old-daughter and then writing “It.”
I suppose if I really think about it, it’s only natural to be afraid that certain things might happen to your daughter. You want to protect her from life and its pitfalls. Your mind might go to some dark places when thinking of the things you want to protect her from, and as a writer you might use your own fears to fuel your work.
But in “It,” the thing that terrifies, and abuses the little girl the most isn’t the clown, or even the outside world. The bad guy in her life is her father. It’s as if Stephen King’s greatest fear for his daughter, was what he might do to her. I can’t shake the feeling that Stephen King wrote “It” to scare himself. Like the book is his own personal worst nightmare.
I don’t know. I’m probably over thinking all of this. But I guess that’s what I find haunting. The idea that maybe our imaginations can run away with us sometimes.
Dylan Lee Peters is the author of the fantasy adventure series "Everflame," the sci-fi fantasy "The Dean Machine," and most recently the epic fantasy series "The Hands of Ruin."
All of my books take place in the same “universe.” What I mean by that is all of my books take place in and around our earth, but a parallel version. This sounds kind of strange, but it’s a very popular concept used in speculative entertainment (books, TV, and motion picture). The MARVEL cinematic universe is a great example. The adventures of the Avengers take place in and around earth, our earth, albeit a very different version. My books follow this same model, and I’ve provided a visual to help explain that, a sort of timeline.
While the Everflame series, and The Dean Machine have almost nothing to do with each other, elements of those stories come together in a new storyline that is The Hands of Ruin series.
The first and most obvious example of this is the introduction of Echo Valkzdokker in The Hands of Ruin: Book One. Echo was the main heroine of The Dean Machine, and The Hands of Ruin, in part, explains what happens to Echo after her departure from the hive. Her story is intertwined with the main characters of The Hands of Ruin and she has a prominent role in both Book One and Book Two.
The second example is the mythology of the Everflame series living on in the land of Ferren, a place featured prominently in The Hands of Ruin. In fact, the four tribes of Ferren are named for characters that fans of the Everflame series are likely to recognize (Whiteclaw tribe, Zehnder tribe, Andor tribe, and Tiber tribe). Below is an excerpt from The Hands of Ruin: Book One that describes two characters walking into the Temple of Origin, a sacred place in Ferren that celebrates the past history of the Everflame series.
• • •
The men walked into an expansive entrance chamber, with glass windows in the ceiling that bathed an ornately sculpted fountain in sunlight. It looked as if the rays of the sun were sent down from the heavens for no other reason than to shine on the fountain. Endemall was not going to admit it, but Gildwyn had been right. The Temple of Origin was impressive, and he found himself closing his open jaw for fear of looking wonderstruck.
“The fountain is sculpted in white stone and is hundreds of years old,” Gildwyn told Endemall as they walked through the main room. “I assume you recognize the likenesses of the Ancients.”
Endemall nodded, still silent in a reverence he hadn’t anticipated. The great sculpture was beautiful, a statue of three of the four ancient creators of man. Tenturo the griffin and Bahknar the dragon were standing back to back, while the beautiful mermaid Chera sat at their side, delivering water into the fountain from her gracious hands. Endemall knew all these deities from the stories of his youth, but he had never been as mesmerized by them as he was now.
However, the beauty of the fountain was nothing in comparison to the majesty of the gigantic mural painted on the far wall behind it. As the men passed the fountain and the sun’s rays now fell behind them, Endemall sighed audibly at the mural that extended up the entire thirty-foot height of the wall.
“You weren’t kidding, were you, Nye?” Endemall was floored.
“I assume you recognize the scene the mural depicts,” Gildwyn said.
“Of course.” Endemall was like a child at the foot of his heroes. “That’s the moon god, Densa, in his battle against the Great Tyrant, and above them is the sun god, Evercloud. My father used to tell my brother and me that story of old Earth almost every night before we were sent to bed. It’s like that mural was painted right out of my imagination.”
• • •
The final example of how my stories come together in The Hands of Ruin might be the most exciting for fans of the Everflame series. I don’t want to give too much away, but in The Hands of Ruin: Book Two we see the return of a major character from Everflame. It may seem farfetched given the amount of time that has elapsed between Everflame and The Hands of Ruin, but keep in mind that Ferren is a place filled with a mystical substance called zulis that Masters wield in amazing ways. Zulis can be used for good, and it can be used for evil. It can be used to destroy, and it can be used to resurrect.
Please check out The Hands of Ruin, and I hope you enjoy!
The Hands of Ruin: Book One is available for FREE on kindle, nook, iBooks, and kobo
The Hands of Ruin: Book Two is also available from the same retailers.
“The power of love is a curious thing.” – Huey Lewis and the News, Back to the Future Soundtrack, Chrysalis Records, 1985
Being an author, I think that I digest novels in a different way than most people. I still immerse and lose myself in the world of the author’s creation. I suspend disbelief, block out reality, and do my best to visualize what the author is writing about. However, when I read a novel there is also a part of me that is searching for the secret. Just like Cline’s protagonist in Ready Player One, I’m digesting every piece of entertainment with the secondary purpose of finding the hidden meaning that sits in the spaces between. I can’t simply allow the author to tell his/her story while I sit back and enjoy it. I have to be the jerk that interrupts them to ask a question that I refuse to save until they have finished. I don’t just want to know what happens in the story, I also want to know what the author was trying to evoke from the reader with each decision they made. And in the case of an author like Cline, who has found commercial success, I want to know how he hooks the reader.
It wasn’t hard to find the secret to Cline’s success. Ready Player One has you invested from the very beginning by using a very sly tactic: it will find something you love and use that to make you care. Namely, Cline uses nostalgia to pull at our heartstrings. Over the course of the first twenty pages, handfuls upon handfuls of entertainment references from the 1980s are slung our way because the book takes place in a futuristic society that is obsessed by that specific decade. Hmm, a society obsessed with the 1980s; why does that sound so familiar?
In truth, the majority of our society will forever be in love with the days of their youth. A time when life was simpler, when we still held to our romantic ideals and thought that the future held nothing but the promise of sunny days. It just so happens that if you fall between the ages of 25-45, chances are you have a bright shiny memory of the 1980s. If you fall into that age group, chances are you have a soft spot for the Super Mario Brothers, Star Wars movies, and the music of Duran Duran. Cline uses this nostalgia against you, and it works beautifully. Hundreds of references from the 1980s are woven deftly into his novel. Readers are bound to have very positive memories associated with many of them.
Now don’t get me wrong, Ready Player One is not all gimmick. It’s a fun read, with pace that is rarely lagging. Cline has a knack for science fiction prophecy that at least harkens to Orwell, and he managed to give an ending that was befitting his video game fetish. As a reader, I thoroughly enjoyed Ready Player One, and would recommend it to anyone. It is deserving of the accolades it has received.
Where Ready Player One truly finds it success though, is in the marriage of a good story with the power nostalgia has over all of us. In my hours away from the book, I found myself purchasing old movies I hadn’t seen in years, listening to my favorite 80s songs as I drove to work. I even downloaded a new ring tone, the theme music to Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, one of my favorite video games from my youth. My wife asked me: “Are you twelve?” And yes, she hit the nail on the head. Prompted by the reading of Ready Player One, I wanted to be twelve again. I wanted to watch Star Wars, play video games, and jam out on a frickin’ Keytar. I wanted to hold aloft my magic sword and say, “By the power of Grayskull, I have the power!”
As I stepped back from my wife’s comment and thought about it, I was amazed at how powerful nostalgia could be. Nostalgia had me spending money on things I didn’t need, and totally geeking-out. And it felt gooooood, like super-villain laughing about a can’t-miss plan to take over the world good. And that’s how I knew I had learned a secret to Cline’s success. I put a little sticky note on the writing portion of my brain.
Pairing a good story with nostalgia… that’s the power of love.
Dreams have always been an integral part of my creative process. I dream vividly, at length, and regularly. For a time during my youth, I imagined that everyone dreamed in the same way that I did. It wasn’t until open dialogue about dreaming, with friends and family, that I discovered dream patterns can be very different for every individual. I was stunned, frankly, to learn that some people don’t even remember their dreams when they wake. The thought was strange to me, mostly because my own dreams were so lucid, regular, and often left a deep impression on me. There have been many days of my life where the previous night’s dreams have affected my mood throughout the entire day.
When I was younger, I suffered through something called Incubus Attacks (though I didn’t know what they were at the time). An Incubus Attack occurs when there is discord between the sleeping mind and the sleeping body. The results can be quite terrifying because, essentially, you can dream when your body is awake.
These episodes didn’t happen erratically, and spontaneously, during the day. It’s not as if I had a form of schizophrenia. Incubus Attacks usually take place in the time when your mind is transitioning to sleep, or transitioning awake. It’s as if the world of dream bleeds slightly into the conscious world.
I was four years old the first time I can remember having an Incubus Attack. I had awaked in the middle of the night, and for one reason or another, left my bed. I looked out the window and saw, at a distance, Grover. Yes, Grover from Sesame Street. Grover turned, looked at me, and then began running toward my window, screaming and flailing his arms. Naturally, I began screaming, and my parents found me crying below the window in my bedroom.
I experienced many Incubus Attacks in my youth, but not all were so lively. Mostly, I would feel something touching me that wasn’t there, or I could hear someone yelling at me that wasn’t there. These specific attacks would usually occur as I transitioned to sleep.
The last graphic Incubus Attack I remember took place when I was fifteen. I woke in the middle of the night and sat up in bed. I looked into the corner of my room and found an orb, glowing and floating about four feet off of the ground. As I watched it, it shot a red laser beam toward the foot of my bed. I got out of bed and walked over to the light switch, which was at the other side of the bedroom, all the while keeping my eye on the orb. When I turned the light switch on, the orb was gone. I was alone, standing in my bedroom, wondering what was happening to me. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I came across the term and realized that I had been having Incubus Attacks as a child.
Though the attacks stopped, my spirited dreaming did not. I would have to say that I have always had rich dreams on a nightly basis, with rare exception. However, it wasn’t until I began writing that I found a way to make my dreams work for me. In fact, the first two chapters of Everflame were from a dream I had. In the dream, I was Evercloud, the helpless child. I was prisoner to the events going on around me, and I can remember having some distinct connection with the bears that controlled my fate. The dream didn’t detail everything that I’ve written in those chapters, but I can still recall the memory of the mountain and the flame to this day.
As an adult, the types of dreams I have are what I call video game dreams. I’m usually in some life or death situation, where the circumstances are very fantastical, and I have to find some special object, or defeat some evil foe. Very often, the fate of the world hangs in the balance. I suppose I didn’t have much of a choice but to become a fantasy adventure writer.
The book I’m currently working on, The Dean Machine, has a lot of influence from my dreaming as well. The impetus for the book was a real-life event that affected me deeply, however much of the plotline comes directly from my dreams. I can remember being the main character of The Dean Machine, Dan Delacor. I can still feel the panic that overtook me as I ran from the great wall of Yellow City, running as far as I could from the clutches of the evil Chancellor Elgrey Vinsidian. I can remember, quite vividly, the confusion of wandering with my little dog, Dean, not knowing where we were. I can remember the sickness in my stomach as I discovered that I was… well, I won’t ruin it for you. Besides, the book is not finished, and who knows what I might dream up tonight.
And I suppose that’s the truth of my writing, and the source of my imagination. I have no method, no tactics, and no brainstorming techniques. I dream. I simply lay my head down and immerse myself in the unknown. I’ll try to keep you apprised of what I find.
ORIGINALLY POSTED 12/2/2014
As an author, you need to spend a good deal of time with words. Of course this is beyond an obvious statement, but we often look past the obvious in our lives to the detriment of fundamental mastery. Does a master woodworker not need to obsess over wood? Should the master arborist not have a devoted attention for even the simplest and most common of trees? Should I, if in fact I care about my craft, not look at a word as benign as ‘hello’ and wonder where it came from and why we use it? (According to the Oxford English Dictionary, hello is an alteration of hallo, which came from the Old High German word halâ, used especially in hailing a ferryman).
I think it is important for someone in my field to seek this information and have a curiosity about these things. Often, I’ve come across humorous and interesting words. What I wanted to share in this blogpost were a few examples of words and phrases that have left the modern lexicon for one reason or another, and I would argue that they should be brought back. For what reason, you ask? For fun, for perspective, or for no reason other than my own strange curiosity. You are welcome to whichever reason you prefer.
“Tell it to Sweeney!”
Meaning – what you say when you believe something to be untrue, meaning, tell it to someone who is dumb enough to believe it.
Usage – “You say a good book can’t have talking bears? Pfft, tell it to Sweeney!”
Etymology – “Sweeney” referenced the myriad of monikers used in England around the 1800s to describe the stereotypical Irishman.
Meaning – distant, reserved, aloof
Usage – “Isn’t it great how offish Dylan Lee Peters is? I wish I could be that offish!”
Etymology – comes directly from standoffish
Meaning – Drunk
Usage – “Poor Dylan Lee Peters has gone and got himself fuzzled again. Though, it does improve his writing.”
Etymology – derivative of the French word fusel, which means bad liquor
Meaning – A writer of books; an author
Usage – “Dylan Lee Peters is the best bookwright ever. Anyone who says different can tell it to Sweeney!”
Etymology – from book + wright. The word wright deriving from Old English and meaning ‘related to work.’
Meaning – To silently watch someone while they are eating, hoping to be invited to join them
Usage – “Dylan Lee Peters is going to groak you if you eat that taco in front of him. He will groak you like a dog.”
Etymology – I couldn’t find the origin of this word, but had to include it. If you know the origin, please post it in the comments.
ORIGINALLY POSTED 7/16/2014
You must figure things out on your own
So you have a manuscript, now what? Well, the truth is that unless you have a lot of financial backing, then you’d better learn to become a jack-of-all-trades. When I started out trying to figure out what I was going to do with the first Everflame book in 2009, I had no money. I was working a minimum wage job while going to school to get a degree in graphic design. I had to use the resources that were available to me. So, I used a graphic design program, Adobe InDesign, to layout Everflame, and then made it available at Lulu.com, a print-on-demand website. Lulu.com was free to use. They only charge you once you order a book. (Note from Captain Obvious: ordering one book is monumentally cheaper than paying a publisher to print a run.) Now, I was lucky that I had a great program like InDesign available to me, but I had to learn how to use it. It took long hours and persistence. Most computers have a program you can use to layout text. It’s up to you to master that program, as well as any other program or resource you may have to use. When I wanted to convert to ebook, I had to learn to do it myself and find a cheap resource to do so. Professional editing of a book costs roughly $2000. I had to improve my editing skills and resubmit versions of Everflame as I improved. The list continues, and you have to be willing to do research to figure out how to fix your problems and get what you want. Being a self-published author is a fight, and the more you can do, the stronger you will ultimately be.
Getting reviews is the key
The best thing you can have going for your book is good reviews, so spend time figuring out how you can get them. Reviews are the first thing a reader will look for before they will take a chance on your book. If you don’t have any reviews, no one will take that chance. Here is a dirty little secret for you. When I first released Everflame and had no reviews, I created my own reviews and posted them as other people. I had friends and family post reviews. I created online profiles of people that didn’t exist and used those profiles to review Everflame. Was it underhanded? Yes. Did it work? Absolutely.
You’d better have some thick skin
“This reads like a fourth grader's first creative writing assignment.”
Yup, that is an actual quote from an actual reader. Putting your work on the internet for others to read is fun. Another reviewer wrote that Everflame was literally the worst book they had ever read. Isn’t that wonderful? In the end, you have to remember that you can’t please everyone, and some people are just vicious. You take the criticism and work to get better. That’s all you can do. I’m sure those are not the last scathing reviews I’ll receive, but each one makes me grateful for all of the glowing reviews I get.
Get comfortable with promotion
In 2009, I advertised Everflame on craigslist under the free section. It was completely against the policy of the website, and the ad was taken down soon after, but I received a lot of downloads from it. In fact, I spent a lot of time that year finding places that I could post about Everflame online. I joined online fantasy communities just to talk about Everflame, and I filled out every free book listing I could find. I sent bookmarks to local bookstores. I did anything and everything I could think of that was within my meager budget. To this day, promotion is something I’m constantly looking to improve upon. My most recent ideas have been contests to promote fan interaction and I’ve also tried creating Everflame themed internet memes. (You never know what might end up going viral)
Never give up and never stop improving
All told, the number one thing that self-publishing has taught me is that you can never give up. You never know when or where your break might come, but you’d better be ready for it and willing to fight for it. I love writing, and because I have that love I know I will continue to work at and improve my craft. If you love writing, and are considering self-publishing your work, remember Densa at the end of Everflame 4: As the Darkness Waits.
I go forth with my love, knowing nothing can stop me now.
ORIGINALLY POSTED 7/10/2014
I have received comments and questions from readers in regard to some of the names that I use in the Everflame series, and I thought it might make for a good blog post to divulge how I created certain character names. Names such as Tomas and Ben Floyd have no real meaning behind them, they just happened to be the names that popped into my head at the time I was creating the characters. Names such as Evercloud have meaning, but are also explained in the books. “You are a mystery, my son, like a cloud that continues forever. No one can see through to what lies on the other side.” Yet, there are names that I chose for certain characters that were chosen with reason and purpose that the books don’t necessarily explain with clarity. You may have guessed at why I chose certain names, (if you have some knowledge of Latin, the meaning of a name like Lithlillian becomes obvious) but I figured I’d take out the guesswork on a few names for you. So, here… we… go.
The Daughters of Earth and Sun
There is no great mystery involved in how I named these characters. However, I was looking for more than just simple feminine names. I did want names that sounded feminine, but that were also grounded in meanings associated with the earth aspect that each daughter represents.
Harena – the word is Latin and means “grains of sand” or “a sandy land.” As I’ve already said. There is no great mystery as to why I chose this.
Dendrata – dendro- is a Greek prefix meaning “tree.” I simply changed the end of the word to make it sound like a woman’s name.
Nivalia – nivalis in Latin means “snowy.” Again, I made a slight change to the word.
Tallulah – is of Native American origin, and the meaning of Tallulah is "leaping water."
Aella – Means "whirlwind" in Greek.
Lithlillian – litho- is a prefix meaning “stone.” (Are you seeing a pattern here?) I thought Lithlillian sounded melodic.
Selva – selva is Portuguese and means “tropical rain forest” or “jungle.”
Amber – Amber is a semi-precious gem formed of fossilized tree resin, and the name may refer either to the gem itself or to its color. In the Hindi language, Amber is derived from Sanskrit, and means "the sky."
Other notable language derivatives:
King Aplistia – aplistia is Greek for “greed.”
The Kingdom of Nefas – nefas is Latin for “wickedness.”
Have any questions about other names in the Everflame series? Leave a comment and I promise I’ll answer your question.
ORIGINALLY POSTED 7/27/2014
I began writing the Everflame series in 2008 and didn’t finish As the Darkness Waits until somewhat recently. Spend six years doing anything and you’ll get attached to it. I don’t think it would come as a surprise to anyone to hear that writing the last bit of the Everflame series was hard for me. I don’t mean it was hard in the way that I didn’t know just how to end it, after all, I had known how I wanted the series to end since I began writing it in 2008, but it was hard in the way that ending a long relationship is hard. You are really leaving a part of yourself behind as you move on, for better or for worse.
It took two weeks of dragging my feet before I wrote the last chapter of As the Darkness Waits. I was masterful in my procrastination. It really was like a break up, I was avoiding it purposefully. I would recite the words to the mirror, convincing myself I had it right. I thought about it incessantly, even when I needed to be concentrating on other things. It consumed me as I ignored it, and I knew it wouldn’t let me go… until I agreed to let it go.
As I wrote the final words I felt pain. As bizarre as that sounds, it would be a lie not to admit it. I stood from my laptop, walked away, and stared out the window. I was free of Everflame, I was free of the characters, I was free of the land I had created, but I had torn a part of myself away for the prize of that freedom.
Days pass and you feel oddly as if you are in some sort of mourning. I was irritable, sullen and withdrawn. I quickly realized what writing meant to me, and what Everflamehad meant to me. Would I be able to get that back? I knew when I ended Everflame that I had also ended something of myself, but I had always assumed that it would be a part of me I could let go, a part that I could survive without.
My assumptions were incorrect. Yet, Everflame was done.
So I scanned over my new project; my new story; my new source. Could this new story fulfill the role in my life that I so obviously needed? Could I immerse myself into this new world and into these new characters with the same passion and purpose that first inspired the flame?
I’m happy to report that it can. I’m happy to report that I will.
I am 5000 words into the newest chapter of my life, and though I will take my time, cherishing everything that it gives me through the process of creation, I cannot wait to one day share it with everyone. The Dean Machine keeps my heart safe… stay tuned.