The Boy Who Swims with Dragon

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Byron Talbot was a sickly boy.  He lived alone with his mother, Matilda, in the hills on the other side of the valley.  He had been born with a disease that made him different from the other children. Since the day he was born, the doctors told his mother that she should not expect him to live very long; but day after day, night after night, Byron proved the doctors wrong. He was not supposed to have reached his third birthday, but by the time he reached four years of age, the doctors were amazed.  Byron could not walk very well, and had to use a wheelchair most of the time, but was strong-willed and very smart. The doctors had said he would never walk, but he proved them wrong. With his mother’s help, and even though he had to use crutches, he taught himself to walk, much to the surprise of his doctors. Being so smart, he learned how to read when he was three and would read any book he could get his hands on.  He especially loved the stories about dragons, and how they could fly. He wished that he was a dragon and dreamt of flying around the sky, dancing with the clouds, skimming over the mountaintops, and brushing the tops of the trees in the valley.  He loved dragons more than anything.

When he turned five, he started kindergarten like the rest of the kids and even though he couldn’t run and play, he was able to make friends. Everyone liked Byron. Byron would tell jokes, making the other kids laugh, and he would make up stories for the rest of the kids who loved hearing them. He made up stories about dragons and what they could do and everyone, including the teacher would sit and listen. His mother thought and even the doctors did for a little while, that he was getting better, but this was not meant to be.

Byron was very sad at the thought of leaving his home, of leaving his mother, but mostly, he was sad because he was not getting any better. As the days ticked away, his condition worsened and was losing feeling in his legs and his arms began to fail him. He could no longer feed himself and his mother could not take any more time off to care for him. It was on the day they were supposed to leave, with Byron being very upset, and his mother in tears, there came a knock at the door.

Byron’s mother opened the door to see a middle-aged woman standing in the doorway, holding a small scrap of paper.

“Are you the mother who placed the advert in the local paper?”

“Yes, I am. We were getting ready to leave. I haven’t found anyone and now I must place my son in a home for the disabled,” she said, with tears in her eyes.

“You will do no such thing, Madam,” exclaimed the woman.

“Pardon?” Byron’s mother asked.

“You will provide me with room and board, and I will care for, what is his name?”

“His name is Byron and he is in the other room. I would like to see if he likes you first.”

“Poppycock, Madam. The child does not have to like me for me to care for him, but as you wish.”

Byron’s mother escorted the woman into the parlor where Byron was sitting by the window, looking to the hills beyond, as if lost in a dream.

“Byron,” his mother called, “there is someone here to see you.”

Byron didn’t turn his head and continued staring out the window.

“Byron, I am talking to you. There is someone here to see you,” his mother called again.

Matilda felt a hand on her arm, “Madam if you would allow me to try?”

“Please.  He does not respond to me very much anymore.”

“Byron,” the woman spoke, “I am Ms. Strohm, can you tell me what you’re looking at?”

There was still no response from Byron, frozen motionless in his wheelchair.

The woman walked to his side, leaned over, placed her hand on his shoulder and whispered into his ear, “Will you tell me about your dragons?”

He quickly turned his head, one of the few parts of his body that still functioned and looked her in the eyes, “How do you know about my dragons?”

She held the clipping from the paper out to him, “It says right here. You love dragons and love to tell stories about them. I would like to hear about your dragons and then I will tell you about mine.”

His stoic look eclipsed into a slow smile. It was the first time that Byron had smiled in weeks, and for the smile alone, Matilda offered Ms. Strohm the job of nanny and teacher on the spot, not even asking her for references. If Ms. Strohm could make Byron smile, they could figure out everything else. She would take the spare room next to Byron’s and help with the housework while Matilda was at work.

Matilda was able to return to work and the Ms. Strohm would sit with Byron, taking care of him and listening to his stories about the dragons. As he became weaker and weaker, Ms. Strohm began to tell him about the dragons that would swim. He had never heard of swimming dragons, but Ms. Strohm explained that before dragons can learn how to fly, they had to strengthen their wings and swimming would let them do that without getting hurt.

The doctors finally decided that since he could no longer eat or drink through his mouth, they would install a feeding tube, which caused Byron to become even more depressed. He stopped wanting to talk about dragons, only thinking about himself and his mother, and how sad she would be when he died. Ms. Strohm noticed this change in him, and one day, decided to take him over the hill in this wheelchair, struggling to get it to the crest, to see the valley lake below. It was in this lake, she said, where the dragons came to swim. This seemed to brighten his spirits for a bit, but he saw no dragons and he could no longer hold on to the fantasy of the swimming dragons. They were not real. He was real. His sickness was real, but they were not.

“What does that look like to you, Byron?”

“It looks like a rock.” he replied, angry at being near the water.

“Yes, it looks like a rock, but if you look closely, it resembles a dragon’s head. Do you see the nose there, and the mouth there, and his big ears?”

Byron looked again and he could see what she meant. It did vaguely look like a dragon.

“Ok.  So it’s a dragon. What does mean for me? I’m still in this wheelchair and I know I’m going to die. Why should I care about some rock that looks like a dragon?”

“Ms. Strohm. I know you want to make me feel better, but it is only a rock, and all your dragons are not real. None of my dragons are real. They are only in my head.  It is all make-believe and this is not,” he said, looking up and down his body.

“Byron! That is no way to talk. My dragons are real. Your dragons are real and yes, your sickness is real, but you have to believe in something.  Didn’t you believe you could walk at one time?”

Yes,” he replied.

“And they told you that you wouldn’t be able to,” she replied.

“So now you’re telling me you don’t believe in dragons because of why?” she asked.

Because they are not real.” he stated.

“Look again!” she said, pointing at the rock outcropping.

It appeared as if the rocks had changed and the dragon face was now looking at him. Byron blinked several times and could not believe what he was seeing. Had the rocks really moved or was he just imagining it?

“No, that can’t be real. Rocks don’t move like that.  I want to go home now,” he stated.

“Very well, Byron. I will take you home now, but we are coming back tomorrow to talk about the dragons again.  I have something very important to share with you.” she stated and began to push him up the hill, now made easier with the new wheelchair.

That night, Byron tried to sleep, but he kept seeing what he thought were eyes in this bedroom window, huge eyes. Dragon’s eyes. He must be dreaming. Dragons were not real.  He heard a bump outside his window and called for Ms. Strohm who came into his room, turning on his light.

“Yes, Byron.  Is everything alright?” she asked.

“I heard something outside my window,” he stated.

“It looks like something was standing outside your window, Byron.  What did you see?”

He knew it was silly.  Dragons were only make-believe.  It couldn’t possibly be, but he said it anyway, “I thought I saw a big dragon’s eye in my window.”

“From the size of this footprint, I’m not sure what it was, but it was big,” she replied, looking amazed.

When Byron awoke, he was not feeling well and called out. Ms. Strohm came into the room and looked at him. Her look was one of worry, she immediately left the room, and he could hear her talking on the telephone. Not long thereafter, his mother arrived home early from her job, his doctor accompanying her and he saw the concerned look on her face.

He could barely talk and looked at his mother, “I want to go to the lake and watch the dragons swim.”

His mother didn’t understand what he was asking, thinking him delusional.  She looked at Ms. Strohm who motioned her to the other room. The doctor followed.

A few minutes later, Matilda knelt down beside her son’s bed and said, “If you want to see the dragon’s swim, then Ms. Strohm will take you to see the dragons swim.”

He smiled. Unable to hold himself up, they strapped him into the wheelchair. Ms. Strohm pushed him out of the house, and he saw beneath his window the footprint of what he could have sworn was a dragon.  It had been real and a single tear rolled down his cheek.

Ms. Strohm noticed, “Why are you crying, Byron?”

“Ms. Strohm, you were right.  The dragons are real.”

She cried with him knowing that she had given him one last thing to hold onto as he began to slip away from the world.

As they reached the edge of the lake, its waters calm, Byron looked around, saw no movement, and became sad.  He had wanted to see the dragons swim.  It was always what he wanted. As he began to drift into that final sleep, there was movement in the water, and what arose was the most magnificent sight he had ever seen.  It was the grand dragon, standing at his full height; his wings outstretched catching the rays of the sun. The waters churned as more dragons arose from the waters; the blues, as beautiful as the sky and ocean, the greens, the color of the deep forest to the brilliance of emeralds, browns, all the hues of wood, the blacks as dark as midnight, the golds, shimmering brightly, and silvers, the light sparkling on their scales, all standing before him.

Ms. Strohm stood beside him, gripping his hand as he watched them kneel in the presence of the Grand Dragon, who now looked at him.

Byron froze.  He was afraid.  He was now afraid of the dragons that stood before him and the Grand Dragon spoke, “You are Byron.”

He couldn’t believe the Grand Dragon knew his name.

“Do you now believe in us?”

“Yes, I do. I believe in you.”

“There is no need to be afraid, Byron.  It is time.”

Byron could feel himself getting lighter and lighter as if his body had no weight. He could no longer feel Ms. Strohm’s hand in his, and turned and saw her face, the tears now streaming down as she looked at his body.

He felt the mighty claws on the wings of the Grand Dragon gently wrap themselves around him, lifting him higher until he was eye to eye with the wondrous creature.

“Byron, it is time to take your rightful place amongst us.”

Byron didn’t understand and looked down to where he had been and could see his lifeless body, now held tightly by Ms. Strohm. He turned back to the Grand Dragon and caught his reflection in the dark mirror-like eyes.   He was no longer a boy and now had wings and scales.  Once again he could feel and move as he had never moved before.  He was a dragon. He flapped his small wings, much to the delight of the Grand Dragon, who smiled.

The Grand Dragon lowered him to the water, carefully letting him get used to the coolness that washed over the scales, now in place of skin, and he heard him speak, “You must learn to swim before you can fly, little one. You are the boy who swims with dragons.”

Copyright © 2017 Nathaniel Kaine

 

Writers: Stop Beating Yourself Up

How many of you have been on a writing binge and cranked out tens of thousands of words, only to find yourself drained at the end of it?  It happens.  I am blessed, as I know some of you are, to have days, if not weeks of creative energy where I can crank out sentence after sentence, page after page, and then when it’s all said and done, look back and have a sense of fulfillment.  I have also had days without end where there isn’t a drop of creative juice in my body and I can stare at a screen and even forced, cannot convey the simplest of ideas.  I believe all writers experience this, no matter how good you are, no matter how many books you’ve written, or how much experience in this profession you have.  We are not automatons.  We are people with real-world issues affecting us.

From a personal perspective, during the months of May and June I put over 200,000 words to paper, and since then I may have written 10,000 words total and guess what happened during that time? Life.  It happens to all of us.

I have been editing my first novel, writing short stories, and have dabbled in other little writing projects, but I haven’t been writing to the level that I had planned.  

Guess what? It’s okay. Life happens.  

You wanted to write five thousand words, and you only wrote three thousand.  Guess what?  It’s ok.  Life happens.

You wanted to finish editing your novel and you didn’t.  Guess what? It’s ok.  Life happens.

Don’t let those things you don’t finish hold you back.  Life is happening around you.

Don’t forget to be a part of it.

Be Real About What You Want

Do you have a burning desire to complete something just to complete it, or are you taking the time to craft your story, your masterpiece, regardless of how many you create, to the standards you desire?

I often read about writers who are so consumed about meeting their writing goals of x number of words per day.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love goals.  Setting goals is great for keeping us focused and for completing those things that important to us.  Goals, unrealistically set, taking into account the number of responsibilities many of us have, can also be a bane, a detriment to our productivity.  If we don’t realistically set our goals, with our priorities in mind, it can lead to losing focus, diminished capacity for creativity, and lack of completion because we are so obsessed with the goal that we often forget why we are setting that goal.  

As writers, we often get disappointed in ourselves with what we don’t do, and are often not proud enough of ourselves for what we actually accomplish.  Many of us don’t make a living from writing, but there are a lucky few who do and to those, I tip my hat. Job well done!

For the rest of us not yet fortunate, if that is our goal, to have the opportunity to make a living from writing, we have many other things in our life, such as a different full-time job, school, family, or other responsibilities that we have made a greater priority.  We handle our responsibilities because that’s what we’re supposed to do.  We need to remember not to be too hard on ourselves for not writing as much as we’d like while handling all of the issues that life throws at us.  

I know that I will be more productive when I set aside the time to write more and I’m not going to beat myself up for it.  I don’t have any writing “deadlines” that are earth shattering if I don’t meet them.  Yes, I want to complete the editing of my first novel by the end of the year, but if life’s events prevent me from doing so, then so be it.  I’ll make adjustments and complete it when I can and I refuse to feel bad about it.  

Like many writers, writing is my escape.  It is where I go to find solace and peace.  I am not going to corrupt that with unnecessary pressures to complete something because of a “deadline”.  I am completing what I can complete because of the love I have for this art.  I see writers are frequently rushed to complete something as if their life depends on it.  I can understand why deadlines are important for people who make their living from writing, but for those of us who don’t, what is the rush?  Set your goal but don’t ever forget why you’re doing this in the first place.

We Write Because We Love To Write

When you love to write and you are setting a goal for yourself, do it realistically.  If writing on Tuesdays is always a problem because of work, school, or any other factor, then don’t set yourself up for failure by planning to write on Tuesday.  You’re just going to hurt yourself in the long run by setting yourself up for failure.  

Every Word Counts

Whether you write 100 words a day or 10,000 words a day, you are still pursuing your dream and you should be proud of yourself for that alone.  I know that any words I write toward the end goal are a success, and if I don’t write the exact number of words I aspire to write, it is not a failure on my part.  This is an acceptance of living in the real world and dealing with real-world issues.  Writing is one of them, however, if I don’t write, the world is not going to end.  

Think About Real-World Concerns

If I don’t go to my job, there will be repercussions.  If I don’t finish school work, there will be repercussions.  If I don’t pay attention to my family, there will be repercussions.  If I don’t write, then my document will remain unfinished until I finish it.  That’s all that will happen and I refuse to succumb to pressures I would generate for myself by not writing the x amount of words per day.  I will write when I can as I can and expect no issues from anyone on it, especially myself.

Live. Write. Enjoy.  

Why I Am Choosing Traditional Publishing over Self-Publishing

It’s all about the time…

There are a number of avenues that we, as writers, can take to get published, and for those that choose the self-publishing route, I applaud you. We all have our individual paths to follow, and I want nothing but the best for all of my fellow writers. Whichever method you choose to have your work published, I wish you enormous success. I hope that you reach the potential to which you are striving.

The novel I am writing isn’t my first, but it is the first novel I will be publishing. It’s the first novel in a series of six, thus far. They’re may be more, depending how the story continues to develop. During this process, I have spent many hours researching the pros and cons of traditional publishing versus self-publishing and found many reasons why I am choosing traditional. I believe the method you choose will be the one you decide works best for you.

  1. My writing time is valuable
    All of us have only 24 hours every day. I don’t have any “extra” time. I have responsibilities, and there are a certain number of hours each day that I must allocate to my employer, and would be remiss as a husband and father if I didn’t allocate the proper amount of time to my wife and my children. Some days it’s more and some days it’s less, but those allocations never go away. That leaves me with only so many hours that I can allocate to other things, and I choose to allocate that time to my writing. My wife and children know how important my writing time is, and are patient and supportive of my endeavors. The time I have chosen to allocate to my writing is time well spent, but it is not cheap. I owe it to myself, my family, and to all those who have supported me through their sacrifices to choose the traditional publishing route. Where I believe we are not strong enough, as writers, is we do not put a high enough value on our time, and we should.
  2. I don’t want to pay someone else for my time
    As writers, we spend a lot of time creating our work. We spend hundreds, possibly thousands, and with some, even tens of thousands of hours crafting our stories, developing our characters, and creating the worlds in which they live. That doesn’t include all the ancillary research we perform to collect the information we need to make our story believable, along with the number of hours editing our work, working with critique partners, and processing feedback from many sources to make sure it’s ready. I do not want to spend all that time working to create something only to have to pay someone else for the time I have spent creating it. I am not knocking self-publishing and agree it is the best avenue for some and who knows, I may change my mind one day. As writers, we invest in the tools we use; our self-promotion, taking classes, going to conventions, and any other tool that requires a financial outlay, but giving someone else money for the time I have already spent is not in my plans. I liken it to buying a car and then paying someone else to drive it.
  3. I have expended extensive resources learning the ropes of this industry and I do not want to waste that.
    I have spent many hours learning about formatting, queries, submissions, agents, editors, and publishers. I still have a lot to learn and do not want to waste that time and money spent by self-publishing. I agree that self-publishing is the correct course of action for some writers and many have been successful with it. It is not for me.
  4. I believe in my work
    I know when agents, editors, and publishers look at potential clients, they are very demanding with what they choose, as they should. Some of the biggest complaints from agents that I have read are; the manuscripts aren’t ready, the queries aren’t written correctly, and writers haven’t done their research on the agent. There are many others, but those stick out in my mind. Their time, which they will be spending on developing the relationship with their clients, editing, marketing, and publishing is valuable, and they want to make sure their investment is going to pay off. I have that same philosophy about my work and it would be unfair for me to think an agent should take me on, if I have not done my very best to be prepared for the process. If this means a hundred rewrites to ensure my novel is the best it can be, then a hundred rewrites will happen. Although that example may seem a little excessive, I use it to prove a point. It’s all about investing my time and doing what it takes to meet the criteria. Many times, writers only have one shot with an agent. If you’re not on your game, haven’t done your research, and your submission is not ready for the agent, then you are doing yourself and the agent a huge disservice by submitting something that is not ready for the process. There are a lot of books out there that are masterpieces and many more that are not. I believe that my work must be of the highest possible quality that will interest the agent enough to want to speak or correspond with me concerning my work. That is the first major hurdle. There is not going to be a fit with every agent out there, but by doing the best I can through revising, editing, and beta-testing, I will ensure that my work is of a caliber that will draw agents to review it, even if the answer is no.

I write because I love to write. Creating new worlds, new characters and weaving the words to create a story others want to read is the ultimate achievement, but in the end, I write for myself and to share a part of myself with everyone else. Having my creation published is something I have wanted for many years. I believe that I would be doing myself a disservice by not doing everything I can and exercising all my options to be published in a traditional manner. I know this will be a “long row to hoe”, but I have set my sights on being the best writer I can be, improving along the way, and developing my writing skills to a level where those in the traditional publishing industry will want to publish my work. As it has been with everything in my life, it is all up to me now.

Thanks for reading.

Upon and Running

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Thank you for stopping by my little corner of the interwebs.  I am so happy to finally have my website set up and glad to see you here.  Facebook was not very friendly to the sharing of my content initially, showing a protected blog, but after I found this awesome link on how to get Facebook to recognize the site, the sharing started working well.  If you’re using WordPress and you get that protected blog > log in when trying to share you site, I hope it helps you

https://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/pasted-blog-link-is-showing-protected-blog-help?replies=5

With the website now set up, I am looking for a launch team to help me with my book.  If you’re a Author/Writer/Editor/Book Reviewer/Publisher or just someone who loves to read, I could really use your help and will happily welcome you to the team.  One of the things I’ve found, as a fledgling author, is the overabundance of information on how to launch, promote, advertise, market and (Pick another) way to get your book out there.  It’s a tad bit overwhelming so I’m going to follow the K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid) principal in doing this.

Here’s what you can expect from us for joining the launch team:

  • Periodic emails keeping you up-to-date on the launch of the novel.  We promise not spam you with email.
  • A pre-release copy of the book for your review.
  • Special Content not released to the general public – to be announced.
  • Early access to Book Two – The Demise of Angels.
  • A personalized autographed copy following printing for the first 20 people who sign up.
  • A mention/thank you on my website and social media (if you authorize release of your information)
  • We will not provide your personal information in any manner to anyone else, unless you specifically say so.

And here is what we ask from you (with a big please):

  • To read the book and provide a honest review on Amazon, GoodReads, or Barnes&Noble
  • Provide us with some of your favorite quotes from the book
  • Help promote the book however you can by sharing/retweeting content that we share with you on your social media outlets (Twitter – retweets, Facebook, Instagram).  We will have a lot of easily shareable content on our site as we approach the 30 days from launch date.
  • Recommend the book to friends/followers.
  • Provide us with feedback on our process.

If you’re interested, please click this link to join the Nathaniel Kaine Average Joe Launch Team This will take you to our MailChimp list signup form

I hope you’ll consider joining and if there’s anything I can do for you, please don’t hesitate in sending me a message to info@nathanielkaine.com

With Warmest Regards,

Nathaniel Kaine