Scraps (A Story)

by Nick Hayden

This is one of a series of unpublished flash fictions that examine the character of Jaysynn’s siblings. This story concerns itself with an incident in his brother Bulon’s life. If you haven’t read The Fall of the House of Kyzercheck it out!


Make the site ready for arrival. I will inspect it personally.


Wyn spotted the men from afar. A rabbit couldn’t approach his square of wilderness without his noticing from a mile off, never mind the column of dust trailing behind the strangers’ vehicle. He leaned, bent and wizened, on his hoe and waited. It took more than half an hour before the strange, boxy contraption rumbled to a stop near his warped fence and three men emerged.

“Guvment,” Wyn croaked. “You come to say my son’s dead?”

The lead of the three stepped through the broken gate, casting a disgusted look over the enclosed area. A dim shack cowered at one corner, with a rain barrel on one side and a splinter of an outhouse on the other. A few goats and chickens pecked around the scrub. A small well, no bigger than a dog curled up to sleep, shimmered in the sun, surrounded by neatly tilled rows of vegetables.

“Are you the owner of this property?” the head soldier asked.

“Yes, sir,” Wyn said proudly, showing his yellowed teeth. A gold crown sparked in the sun. “And my father before me and his before that.” He nodded to a few markers at the far end of the enclosure. “This here’s our land. It’ll be my son’s, if you ain’t come to say he’s dead.”

“This land is now property of the Thyrian government. You have until nightfall to move out.”

Wyn swayed and clutched the weathered handle of his hoe. “This here’s my land,” he said weakly. “I lived here all my life.”

“I’d suggest contacting your son. I’m sure he’ll help you find somewhere new to settle.” The soldiers stared at him expectantly. The two at his shoulders gazed around, bored.

“My wife–she died last year. She’s over there,” he pointed a trembling hand at the small cemetery, “waiting for me. I laid her there myself, promised her I’d come soon. I can’t leave. I can’t.”

“You will.”

Wyn’s knees gave out and he slid to the ground, where he sat in the dirt. (more…)

Meanwhile, Somewhere Else in the World

by Nick Hayden
April 7, 2017

Last month, Timothy Deal revisited The Select’s Bodyguard, the first story in the Children of the Wells saga. This month, I’d like to revisit The Fall of the House of Kyzer by Nathan Marchand.

Early on, we here at CotW decided we wanted to have two concurrent plotlines. Doing so gave us a greater window into the world we were creating. While I constructed the technocratic city of Jalseion, and its two semi-obsessive main characters, Nathan Marchand was busy unveiling a different type of story.

Thyrion is the center of the Children of the Wells’ world, Lomara. It’s where the political and religious power is concentrated. It’s where the Cataclysm started. And it’s where we begin the journey of a character very different from Bron or Calea.

Jaysynn Kyzer, black sheep of the Kyzer dynasty, has no magic. He has no real authority, although he was born into the royal family. The Fall of the House of Kyzer is the story of his search for meaning intersecting with his empire’s struggle for survival. It’s a hero’s journey.

Unlike Bron and Calea, Jaysynn is more relatable. He’s insecure but he wants to do the right thing. He’s out of his depth, but he wants to find a way to help people. His challenge is to become the man his people need.

So, unlike The Select’s Bodyguard, which is intensely focused, we get a story set against a larger political background. We get a friend who might be a villain. We get hints about the Cataclysm. We get family strife. And we get tracing.

The tracing is really cool and completely Nathan’s addition. While Bron has his brute force, Jaysynn has his speed and gravity-defying, building-leaping acrobatics.

In the end, Nathan creates a story that explores the world of Lomara in a distinct way, setting the events of the Cataclysm in a larger political realm, while maintaining the focus on character that is one of our guiding principles here at CotW. Jaysynn is not like Bron or Calea, and Thyrion is definitely not Jalseion, and those are two of the biggest reasons the concurrent storylines appealed to us as writers. Hopefully, it appeals to you as well.

If you haven’t read The Fall of the House of Kyzer, give it a try. It’s the story of the underdog thrust into power–and the forces, internal and external, working against him. It’s the start of an adventurous series of novels, with more on the horizon. And if you have read it (or even if you haven’t), stay tuned for a new short story to be published in two weeks that gives further insight into the sort of corruption that worked its way throughout the House of Kyzer, and which disgusted Jaysynn so much.

The Concert (A Story)

This is the first in our series of short stories connected to our main novels. This story, by Greg Meyer, gives us a glimpse of Calea during her time as Guide of Section 4. Enjoy! And don’t forget to pick up The Select’s Bodyguard if you haven’t.

Jalseion- Section 4— Three Years Before the Cataclysm

The Aurelian Concert Hall buzzed with excited chatter. As the people moved down the aisles to find their seats, one concertgoer did not share the same fervor as the rest. Select Calea Lisan, Guide of Section 4, marched up the many flights of stairs to a private balcony like a child going to the dentist. Calea huffed as her elegant dress swished and bobbed with every step, glittering in the light of the fluorescent lights hung on the walls. If she hadn’t been accompanied by her two companions, Calea would’ve turned and made a daring escape back to her beloved laboratory.

“With the amount of money that’s spent on this place, is it so much to ask for an elevator?” said Calea as she reached another landing. Calea grabbed the railing and stomped up the last flight of stairs.

The grey-haired woman behind Calea chuckled as she followed. “At least you’re getting your exercise in for the day,” said Almetter, Calea’s public relations manager. Almetter was used to Calea’s tantrums, having been her mentor since the Select’s youth. After spending so many years mentoring the Guide as a child, Almetter was one of the few people bothered listening to for advice in matters Calea called “dealing with the needy people.” The concert program slipped from Almetter’s hand, but their third, silent companion swooped down and grabbed it for her.

“Thank you, Bron,” said Almetter to Calea’s bodyguard. Bron nodded and slipped to the back.

The three made their way into the balcony, and Bron helped Calea and Almetter through the balcony curtains before positioning himself at the entrance to stand guard. Calea tossed her hair back and leaned her head against her hand, checking her watch for when the performances would start.

“I need a drink,” said the annoyed Select before glancing back at Bron. “Do something useful and bring me a glass of wine.”

Bron shifted uncomfortably at the request and shook his head. “You’re not allowed to drink at public events. Not after the last time.” (more…)

Updates, Reviews, and Stubborn Characters

By Timothy Deal
March 3, 2017


Oh hi! Thanks for taking a look at this blog! Good to know we’ve still got readers out there. Here, let me just blow some of this dust away and sweep up these cobwebs.

Yeah, we haven’t been as active around here the last month or two, but we’re still around and we’ve got some fresh content in the works. Of course, the big project currently in development is Bron & Calea #5, written by Children of the Wells co-founder Nathan Marchand. This will be Nate’s second novella for us, but his first foray into the tortured psychosis that is Calea Lisan. Pray for him.

In the meantime, author Greg Meyer will be offering his own take on the former Select in a short story to be released here on the site next week! This story will be a tie-in to The Select’s Bodyguard (Bron & Calea #1) and we hope to make it the first in a new series of short stories & flash fictions connected to each of our novellas. There are always side stories to be told in a shared universe like ours, so we’re looking forward to exploring more of its nooks and crannies this year.

But also, this series will give us the chance to take another look at each of our novellas, or perhaps for some of you, to introduce it for the first time. Our very first novella – not just for the Bron & Calea series but for Children of the Wells as a whole – is The Select’s Bodyguard. It was written by my podcast partner-in-crime, Nick Hayden, and his stylistic fingerprints are all over it. Inner turmoil, brutal danger, subtle ideas, a cast that includes academic elites and memorable commoners, and of course… stubborn, stubborn, strong-willed characters.

Anyone who’s read Nick’s work for the past dozen years or so can tell you he has a fascination with this type of character. From Makalos to Stuart Lem to Strin to Obed and now to Bron and Calea, Nick has a history of taking characters with a stubborn understanding of themselves and putting them through extreme trials to see if they break. Perhaps it’s his way of exploring how the incredibly obstinate person resisting God may need an incredibly painful experience to realize he can’t make it on his own.

Both Bron and Calea are hardcore, determined individuals in The Select’s Bodyguard, but Bron has a certain advantage in earning readers’ favor. Bron’s goal and determination – whether misguided or not – are heroic and honorable. Meanwhile, Calea is completely self-centered and pushes away anyone she deems unworthy of her. While she is clearly hurting on the inside, her hatred of receiving pity leads her to lash out at anyone who might try to get close.

This makes Calea a challenge for Bron, as well as for CotW readers and writers alike: How do you love the unlovable? Trying to understand the unlovable helps. Nick does a fine job in The Select’s Bodyguard of revealing Calea’s life bit by bit while simultaneously keeping a certain distance until the end. If you’ve not read it before, you might have to give it a try to see what I mean.

Along the way, you’ll witness a world in free-fall, beginning with the moments directly following the fateful Cataclysm that changed Lomara forever. Magic was the ecosystem, field of study, and way of life for the citizens of Jalseion, but when that magic disappeared, chaos destroys the city’s perfect order. In the midst of the upheaval, a crippled woman and her devoted bodyguard struggle to find a sliver of hope to grasp onto.

High stakes, deep characterization, and a modern fantasy setting plunged into an apocalypse. If all that interests you, give The Select’s Bodyguard a try!

A Happy Story of Death

by Nick Hayden
December 9, 2016

Advent wreath – waiting for Christmas
ASSY / Pixabay

The Saturday after Thanksgiving we made the six-hour trip from Peoria, IL, back home. By the last hour, all the kids (and the adults) were tired and bored and ready to be done. I put on the Muppets Most Wanted soundtrack and we bounced to the ridiculous songs. (The “Interrogation Song” is simply wonderful.) I was caught up, as I often am at unsuspecting moments when lively music is playing, in an almost aching sense of joy and expectation.

And it hurt, because while I felt a sort of inexpressible life, I knew it would pass, that it would drift away, and that I could not hold onto it. Next time I listened to those songs, it would not feel quite the same. The joy was destined to be short-lived. It was, by its very nature, transitory–and that is partly why it ached.

And, yet, I think this ache might be one of the truest marks of real joy. In a broken world, among fallen men, what else could real joy be but the merest glimpse of what we were destined for–and still are, if we will accept Jesus at his word.

When one of my friends read my new short story collection, Behind the Curtain, he joked that I should call it “Happy Stories of Death.” In many ways, that’s a valid summary. The stories circle around the search for something beyond–like that glimmer of joy with which, if you could just capture it and hold onto it, you would be happy to live forever. But these stories are filled with death and madness and deceivers, because the glimpse comes amid pain and confusion and the source of it cannot be found, really, in this life.

I’ve told my wife that sometimes I think I only really have one story to tell, and that I just keep attempting variations of it. That story is faith, man’s struggle to believe, the journey to fill the hole within, the quest to find God. Take Obed, from The Unremarkable Squire, who finds he serves one he doesn’t quite know yet; or Strin, from The Remnant of Dreams, trying to save all his people by his own efforts because he cannot believe in God; or Fitzwilliam Fitzwallace, from The Isle of Gold, who desires not only a drink of water, but to taste the experience of everything within the Sea; or Calea, from The Well’s Orphan, who is afraid to die, but doesn’t know why she lives. Everyone is looking for something, in fiction…and in life.

I started writing this blog only wishing to somehow collect my thoughts from my Thanksgiving trip home. But now that I’ve come this far I find myself thinking on Christmas. The answer to all my stories, to all the searching, is found ultimately in the stable, in the child who is somehow God, in the immortal man willing to suffer and die, in God seeking us out first.

That is where my stories are wrong. It’s good drama to have your hero search and overcome. But we aren’t the heroes. We’re the rebels. We aren’t looking for him; but he has found us. And He has offered us Himself.

Someday we will have Him completely. We will know as we are known. But for now, in this still-waiting world, we have glimpses. A moment of glorious happiness, tinged by sorrow, upon a road trip is one of them. Because everything will disappoint until we are with Him; and then we will dwell in the fullness of joy forever.

This blog was originally posted at Works of Nick.

Melancholy Holidays

by Nathan Marchand 
December 2, 2016

grumpychristmasHolidays are often melancholy times for me. Not just Thanksgiving and Christmas, but most holidays throughout the year. The only one that had managed to avoid this stigma was Halloween, but as of this year, it has now been tarnished—my grandmother, Ruth Sitton, died at age 94 October 31, 2016. She was my last grandparent, so, you could say, I’m a “grand-orphan” now. You can read my tribute to her here on my own blog.

Sadly, holidays have either been the days marking tragedies in my life or they serve as reminders of what I don’t have. When I was 12 years old, my Grandfather, Max Sitton (Ruth’s husband, obviously) died suddenly two days before Christmas. He and Grandma Ruth had just finished eating breakfast at a restaurant before coming to visit me and my family, as they always did, before having the big family gathering on Christmas Day. For many years, my Mom had difficulty celebrating Christmas because she associated it with her father’s death. She kept expecting other tragedies to befall the family around Christmastime. Unfortunately, that did happen. Five years ago, I was dumped by my then-girlfriend over the phone two days before Christmas. She was the first girlfriend I’d had close to the holiday season. (more…)

Lessons from Looking Out a Window

By Gregory Meyer
November 25, 2016

My wife and I are in Lexington to visit her brother and his family, which includes three energetic nephews. I had the opportunity to go to the eldest nephew’s school yesterday for a Thanksgiving party.

I hadn’t been back inside the halls of a public school in more than fifteen years, so walking down those halls yesterday felt strange, like a long forgotten memory returning to my mind. There was my nephew, sitting at his desk surrounded by other kids just as I was at his age. He has his whole school life ahead of him. Would they be good years for him? Would he look back at them fondly?

Sitting there as my nephew performed his poem with his class, my mind went back to many years ago when I first went to kindergarten and grade school. There were some good memories, but for many years it was a miserable time for me. I wasn’t the best student, and from how things were heading it’s perhaps surprising that I’m even writing this to you. (more…)

Tell Me A Story, Daddy!

By Nick Hayden
November 11, 2016

Alexas_Fotos / Pixabay

We here at Children of the Wells began this project because we’re storytellers and we thought it would be fun to tell a longer, interconnected story together. We’ve sometimes stalled along the way, partly because, since we are storytellers, we each have other individual stories we’re also working on. (Excuses, excuses, I know.)

There’s a thing about being a storyteller that, for me, starts to make each project a drawn-out affair. I’ve gotten more and more concerned on writing well, on making things interesting, in editing completely, in somehow making the tenuous web that is fiction hang together. And this is very good. But it is sometimes paralyzing. So, now and then, it’s freeing to just throw the rules of well-structured fiction out the window and do things crazy and off-the-cuff.

Exhibit A is a live brainstorm my podcast partner-in-crime Timothy Deal and I did in the second half of Episode 70 of our podcast on storytelling.

But, more personally, it happens with my daughter Serenity. Her new favorite thing (though the Shopkins voices are still active) is for me to tell her a story. Usually, it needs to involve at least one Minion, since Despicable Me 2 is her current watch-it-every-day movie. And whenever I try to move toward an ending, she helpfully adds, “But there were still 200 problems in the world,” which is her way of adding conflict — because a hero’s job is never done. (more…)

Join Us at Fantasticon Fort Wayne!

by Nathan Marchand
October 27, 2016

s4-ep10-imageI’ve written several blogs about my annual trips to Gen-Con in Indianapolis, especially when I started selling Children of the Wells books there. This weekend I’m going to a local, smaller convention in Fort Wayne, Indiana, called Fantasticon. I’ll be selling all my books, including CotW volumes, but what makes this special is I’ll be joined by my partners in crime, Nick Hayden, Eric Anderson, and Jarod Marchand. With it being Halloween weekend, I may as well wear my Captain America costume and say, “Avengers assemble!”

Yes, that’s right—my cohorts will be with me. Nick will be selling his own books, including The Unremarkable Squire and a new short story collection, as well as Children of the Wells. Eric will be promoting his ministry Nerd Chapel and selling our devotional, 42: Discovering Faith Through Fandom. My brother Jarod will be selling his artwork, which includes some illustrations he’s made for my stories. This will be Nick and Jarod’s first times as vendors. Previously, Nick and I have gone to author fairs together and Jarod has been my assistant at Gen-Con. We’re all getting tables next to each other, so you can easily get autographs from us.

Fantasticon is a traveling convention that’s gone to several locations in Michigan (where it started) and Ohio since February. Fort Wayne is its first and only stop in Indiana. It’s being held at the Grand Wayne Center in downtown this Saturday and Sunday from 10am-6pm and 10am-5pm, respectively. Guests will include film directors Scott Russo and Scott Spiegel. A replica of the 1966 Batmobile will also be there.

According to the con’s website:

Fantasticon is a mid-size show created for true comic book and pop culture collectors and fans. The fans that come to our shows are true collectors that are looking for those rare items for their personal collections. Most leave very satisfied as we pride ourselves on having great dealers and artists at our shows. If you collect it, you will find it at a Fantasticon Show.

Fantasticon is proud to have a presence in multiple cities throughout the mid-west. Currently we are in five different cities, in three different states including Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana.

We also, are very proud of the fact that our admission price is the lowest of any other comparable shows. And the cost for being an exhibitor or artist at the Fantasticon is far less than any comparable comic cons out there.

Be there or be square!


The Small-Time Artist

StockSnap / Pixabay

The modern creator lives in a world of statistics–views, clicks, conversions, followers, sales. These things are vital for anyone striving to make their product viral or hoping to monetize their idea.

I have never been good at thinking this way.

I do not think it wrong for a person to pursue these things. If you believe in an idea and are committed to sharing it with others, it might even be necessary in our new Internet-saturated culture to obsess over these numbers. But I’m unable and/or unwilling to.

There are reasons why. Examining those reasons are not the purpose of this blog. I’d rather ruminate on a concept that has intrigued me now and again, a different way of creating. I’d like to consider the small-time artist.

I work for the family business. We’re caught somewhere between the old-school mom-and-pop store and the everyone-shops-on-the-Web new generation store. It’s been a rough transition, and I doubt we’ll ever fully adopt the new way of the business world–fast, cheap, superhumanly efficient, stylish, and ever-connecting. The Hayden family is not built that way. But straddling between these two worlds has given me some things to consider.

Is there such a thing as an ambition to remain small? If you’re good at something, you’re told to grow your product, double your revenue, reach the next 1000 followers, start a chain. But what if you own a office supply store on Main Street, Small Town, USA, and are content to serve a small clientele and simply make a living? Or, more to the point for us creative types, can a writer be allowed to simply create in his little niche, to create well, and not be eternally unhappy at his relative anonymity?

Where I live, we have fairs all over the place. You can see tractor pulls, pig wrestling, homemade crafts, instruments no one plays anymore being played, old songs being sung one last time, obsolete machines and techniques being taught to one more generation. No one (or very few) make a living at these things, but they communicate life; they hold a spice and variety that the modern world, with its infinite sleek choices, rarely does.

Often, these splashes of culture are inefficient, hodge-podge, informal, and eccentric. Is that inherently a bad thing?

The Internet can be a wonderful place; it connects us to innumerable experiences and opportunities that we might never otherwise come into contact with. But, I wonder, what would the world look like if more writers strove to write local, just as we’re encouraged by small businesses to “Shop Local.” Not they they would write about local events or in the local flavor, but that they would be more concerned about the handful of neighbors who could read their work than the millions out there who might, with enough social networking, finally read it.

In many ways, I straddle this divide in my creative life. Children of the Wells is on the web, hoping to spread its influence. But I’ve recently learned that writing a monthly flash fiction for the local four county advertiser is its own unique experience. There’s something to be said for some person you half-know stopping you at the BMV to say she’s read your latest story.

Of course, sometimes, I wonder what would happen if they’d pick up The Select’s Bodyguard as well.