Fridays 5 with Nina Norstrom

Nina Norstrom, grew up in a small suburban town outside Chicago, Illinois. She received her bachelor’s degree from Concordia University. Norstrom is affiliated with and a member of various writers’ groups. In 1992, she started journal writing to help find solace. But it wasn’t until 2010 that she was able to publish her first writing experience. The book, "Not a Blueprint: It’s the Shoe Prints that Matter, A Journey Through Toxic Relationships," is a representation of her growth and signifies a milestone in her recovery from toxic relationships, to the transition of non-toxicity.
Nina says, “Medically, this whole program of journaling has been a healing process.  It has helped to shape and transform a toxic journey into a prescription for healthy emotional wellness. Truly, I’ve been blessed to have seen light at the end of a tunnel ─ and knowing I’ve reached a level of personal growth.” 

“It was through my dark journey, I’d learned a powerful lesson: God never gives up on us.  And it’s that reason alone why we should never give up on ourselves.”

Personable, compassionate, and direct . . .

She is a passionate champion for many noteworthy causes, including those battling toxic relationships. When not reading or writing, she can be found mountain climbing, taking long walks in a park or alongside a beach, sitting at an entertainer’s concert, supporting an author at their book event, somewhere traveling, and even jumping in to exert her energy by doing volunteer work, at a variety of venues.

1) When did you first get serious about writing?

A.) Perhaps, the seriousness of my writing was a two-fold process.  Initially, I didn’t start out with wanting to become a writer.  It was my traumatic experiences which lead me to a writing journey.  I’d kept a journal for years about that ordeal, and it became my best friend.  It was the one and only thing I had to release the pain.

Yes, as a result of my experience, I had been going through therapy for quite some years, but there was nothing more rewarding and comforting than writing about the events and the pain. It was as if I was the patient, and my writing was the therapist.  Inside this writing bubble, I could do all the speaking without any interruptions.  I would just let it pour out!

The other major reason was because I’d felt trapped as if inside a burning inferno.  Inside that world was rawness and pain staged and staggered with tons of toxic emotions.  The news of hearing, “Your child has a disease,” that there is no cure for; only remission.  It was that news that made it even worst.   For me, it was an experience I knew no parent should ever have to endure.  In this journey God had chosen my family to endured, I felt suffocated.  To nurture those wounds and find physical healing, I used my pen and paper to escape that toxic world.  My writing helped to break through the rawness and pain barriers and was used as a release vehicle for all that toxicity.   The rawness and pain just ate at me, it wouldn’t go away. I just couldn’t shake it.  So once I finally tapped into a part of me that was ready to heal, it was that writing which would become a “physical wound healing relationship,” for me.

So actually, I wrote as a means of therapy; not realizing those pages were about someone’s personal journey, and of all people, mine.

2) What is the hardest part for you about writing?

A)The whole darn process with all of its writing elements; and having to put that on paper for someone to understand.

Especially, after you’ve maneuvered through a healing process, and have to go back and relive some dark toxic emotions that you’ve buried deep within.  Having buried them all those years, you really don’t want those emotions to be erupted by talking about them (that can be very painful, even to this day).  Yet, you’re forced to tap into them in a manner so that it makes sense on paper.  When something is painful, sometimes you have to get away from the writing for several days, or more.  Once returning, then you need to find a way to push through to give life and character to that which has caused you grief.  And that can be most hard to do when writing.

Click on cover for more info or to order!

Synopsis: Allowing us to learn lessons, let go of toxicity, and gain insight, relationship can play a powerful role in our lives. They are formed with people, alcohol, animals, battlefields, diseases, drugs, environments, and even our emotions. Whether toxic or nontoxic, relationships are an integral component of daily living. Author Nina Norstrom lost her child to a disease, but that wasn't the only toxic relationship she endured. In this book, she explores the effects that her relationships with grief, pain, trauma, and forgiveness have had on her life. This tale exposes a mother's struggle to escape her world of toxicity, her journey out of the clutches of diseased relationships, and the shoe prints the experiences have left on her family's history. This story in its raw form projects a remarkable voice to the heroic fight, courage, and bravery gained when striking back to wipe out toxic relationships. Its message reveals that life brings many challenges and that each challenge provides lessons to be learned. This book is not intended to be a blueprint for dealing with diseased relationships. It's about the shoe prints: those symbols of life's journey that are left by our experiences. "Not a Blueprint: It's the Shoe Prints that Matter" is an insightful and inspiring personal story of one family's journey through toxic relationships.

3) How did you feel  upon publication of your first completed project?

A)  For me, it was what I now call my “practice piece.”  The thoughts inside my head was scattered all over the place. It’s that way you know, after being traumatized.   And the writing came out that exact way.   The story inside the book, it was like I didn’t care what was stated; or how it was stated.  In writing it, there would be no structure of characters or scenes. During that phase, characters, scenes, and language meant very little.  The journey itself hadn’t been structured although it had plenty of toxic scenes, in a sense.

Looking back now, it amazed me that the story was published.  And no it was not a self-published product.  The publication was done by a publishing company. Remember now, when I wrote the first side of the story, I was literally trapped in another world.  So writing the first project, actually gave some relief to the pain I’d been experiencing.  I had cursed the pain and journey. I’d finally released all the hurt and pain.  So there it was on every page, inside a book. There it was that journey and what it took to get there.  And that exposure had given a feeling of great accomplishment.

4) What is more important to you, story, or character? Why?

A)Personally, I think they both weigh out the same.  One is no more important than the other.

When dealing with them (story and character), they should go hand in hand.

The story should be a well written one, with structure and development.  And there should always be a message behind any story; and one that could make for an interesting read.  You’d want the audience to stay engrossed into those pages, from beginning to end.

Knowingly, was the start enough to feed their interest? And was the end developed enough to satisfy that interest?

Now, the characters are what shape the story.  Although they’re on paper, you want your reader to be able to visualize them.  So as a writer, you shape them descriptively, bringing them to life.  And as these characters take their places inside the story and move through their plots, reader s will either like them or dislike them.   And having good characterization, can even give a reader a sense of relate-ability.

5)  What is a typical day like in your world?

A) Active, being active, never really trying to stay idle.  But soon as I crawl out of bed, I must give praise to God, for waking me up to see another day; and allowing my feet to touch the ground. Shortly thereafter, I’m looking at all those posted notes attached to the bedroom door.  And they all have the word “volunteer” (tagged) somewhere in its message.  If I’m not scheduled for a particular company to volunteer for that day, I either have to attend a volunteer meeting.

But before I’m off and running to perform those volunteer duties, I’m getting my walk exercise in. On occasion, I tend to sneak in a bit of antique shopping. So there’s always something that’s going to keep me busy and preoccupied. It could be a number of things I have going in a given day.

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New Release: Nurse Blood

From the twisted imagination of Rebecca Besser comes:

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Sonya Garret roams the bar scene hoping to steal the heart of an unsuspecting victim—literally…

Sonya, better known as Nurse Blood, is part of a team of lethal organ harvesters who seek out the weak to seduce, kill, and part out for profit on the black market. When Sonya meets Daniel McCoy, a young man recovering from a broken engagement, he’s just another kill to line her pockets with quick cash.

Agent David McCoy vows to find out how and why his twin brother Daniel disappeared…

Daniel’s body hasn’t been found, and the leads are slim to none, but it won’t stop David from dedicating his life to solving his brother’s case. When the evidence finally uncovers the shocking truth that Daniel’s disappearance is linked to organ harvesters, David knows his brother is most likely dead. But he’s determined to stop the villains’ killing spree before they strike again.

One last harvest is all Sonya and her team need to put their murderous past behind them…

A family with the rarest blood type in the world is the only thing standing between Sonya and retirement. David McCoy and the FBI are hot on their trail, though, and multiple targets make this the most complicated harvest yet. Will David unravel Sonya’s wicked plans in time to avenge his brother and save an innocent family? Or will Sonya cash in her final kill and escape 

About the author:

I'm the author of "Undead Drive-Thru, Undead Regeneration, Cursed Bounty, Twisted Pathways of Murder & Death, Hall of Twelve,” and “Nurse Blood (Limitless Publishing)." I'm also a graduate of the Institute of Children's Literature. My work has appeared in the Coshocton Tribune, Irish Story Playhouse, Spaceports & Spidersilk, joyful!, Soft Whispers, Illuminata, Common Threads, Golden Visions Magazine, Stories That Lift, Super Teacher Worksheets, Living Dead Press Presents Magazine (Iss. 1 & 2), FrightFest eMagazine, An Xmas Charity Ebook, The Stray Branch, and The Undead That Saved Christmas (Vol. 1 & 2) and the Signals From The Void charity anthologies. I have multiple stories in anthologies by Living Dead Press, Wicked East Press, Pill Hill Press, Hidden Thoughts Press, Knight Watch Press, Coscom Entertainment, Crowded Quarantine Publications, and Collaboration of the Dead (projects), and one (each) in an anthology by Post Mortem Press, NorGus Press, Evil Jester Press, Horrified Press, Atria Books (S&S Digital), and Nocturnal Press Publications. I also have a poem in an anthology by Naked Snake Press and a children’s poem in Oxford Ink Literature Reader 4 from Oxford University Press (India).

My nonfiction children's article about skydiving, written for my writing course with the Institute of Children's Literature, was published by McGraw Hill for NY Assessments.

I'm also an editor and have edited: Dark Dreams: Tales of Terror, Dead Worlds 7: Undead Stories, and Book of Cannibals 2: The Hunger from Living Dead Press; Earth's End from Wicked East Press; End of Days: An Apocalyptic Anthology (Vol. 4 & 5/co-edited) from Living Dead Press; and I've co-editing Feast or Famine (a zombie anthology).

When I'm not busy writing and/or editing, I'm formatting book covers, building/maintaining websites, and writing book reviews.

For more information, visit my website: 

Till Death Do We Part: Part I

Image via Freestuff

Though he has the skills to survive, does he have the will?

Part I

Eddie awoke with a start, drifting in that shadowy zone just beneath the surface of full awareness, as the last vestiges of a dream faded to the periphery of his consciousness. In the other room his yellow Lab, Brutus, barked again, driving him the rest of the way awake. He threw back the covers and climbed out of bed. His back reminding him once again that he was no longer a youngster as he shuffled across the floor to see what all the commotion was about. Passing his desk, he saw that he’d missed a call and was about to pick up the phone when Brutus barked again. This was no ordinary bark reserved for the occasional car passing by on the country road where they lived. This bark was deeper, a growling vocalization of fear for those moments when someone knocked at one of the doors.

Rounding the corner into the laundry room, he found Brutus, his hackles up, snarling viciously at the back door.

“Easy there, boy, what’s wrong,” he said as he approached. Brutus looked at him briefly before returning his attention to the back door. He barked again, the sound loud in the narrow room.

Bending over, Eddie looked out the rear window and saw his neighbor standing at the back door.

“What the hell’s wrong with you,” he said to Brutus, who backed away, his hackles still forming a line down his back, as Eddie reached for the door knob. From the other side of the door came a weak knock, a listless slap that momentarily stayed his hand. There was something wrong. Something was out of place. But he couldn’t quite put his finger on what it was.

He looked out the window again and his fatigue gave way to panic when he saw the blood staining the front of his neighbor’s shirt. Something terrible had happened and he hurried to open the door as Brutus barked in a loud, throaty, voice.

“It’s okay, it’s just Virgil,” Eddie said as he attempted to calm his dog.

Brutus barked hysterically. As if he were trying to keep him from unlocking the door, and Eddie glanced at him, annoyed, as he pulled the door open. Thankfully there was a storm door still between them, for at that moment Virgil lunged forward, his mouth open, as he came against the glass of the storm door.

“What the fuck,” Eddie shouted, half terrified by Virgil’s actions. Virgil lunged again, his dentures snapping closed as his lips smeared saliva across the window. It was then he noticed that Virgil was missing an arm. In fact he was missing almost his entire right side from the shoulder to his hip.

Brutus lunged at the door, forcing it open, and darted outside, where he drove Virgil to the ground and jumped on his chest. His front paws pinned Virgil to the ground as the wounded man slapped feebly with his remaining left arm.

Eddie stepped onto the patio, fully intending to pull Brutus off the old man, when he noticed the neighbor who lived behind him. He didn’t know his name yet as he and his wife had only recently moved in, but he was wandering around his front yard wearing only a pair of underwear. His thin white chest was smeared with blood that dribbled down his chin from the object he was chewing on. Eddie reached for Brutus to pull him inside when Brutus yelped. Returning his attention to his dog he saw that Virgil had managed to sink his teeth into Brutus’s flank; yanking his head back he tore away a chunk of flesh to expose the dog’s ribs beneath.

Brutus yelped again and raced across the yard to escape Virgil, who slowly rolled over and pushed himself up with his remaining arm. Quietly Eddie stepped back into the house and locked the door.

Brutus barked again, the sound high-pitched, and Eddie struggled with his emotions as he rested his back against the door and slowly dropped to the floor. He was stunned by what he’d seen. It was like he’d just walked into a nightmare in progress.

It wasn’t really happening. Eddie tried to convince himself as Virgil slapped at the window above his head, reminding him that what he’d seen was real.

Then he remembered his phone. Pushing himself up, he returned to his office where he retrieved the phone. He had one voicemail from his wife, and guilt flashed through him over the fact that she had caught him in a lie. He’d told her he was going to work on his resume this morning while she had insisted that he would probably go back to bed like he always did. This time he’d been serious about getting his resume done but a restless night filled with worry over how he was going to make the house payment pretty much put the idea of sleep to rest.

He dialed his voicemail number and waited for the prompts. Soon his wife’s voice was coming through the handset, filled with a fear he could almost taste.

“I don’t know what’s going on. There are people all over the place. They won’t let me through. Oh my God,” she moaned before the message clicked off.

He was a simple man. Not given to flights of fancy or wild imaginings. A man who knew how to work with his hands. He understood the concrete concepts of cabinetry and joinery, so that which had turned his world upside down lay outside the realm of his understanding. To him the world beyond the walls of his wood shop was a mystery.

The failing economy had robbed him of his dignity. When he’d been laid off from the cabinet manufacturer south of town, he’d assumed it would be a temporary set back. After all, he was skilled with his hands and was one of the most dependable people out there. In his twenty-year career as the plant he’d only ever missed one day. That being the day his only daughter was born. Eighteen months later he was still unemployed.

They took his truck once the unemployment checks stopped coming in and he could no longer afford the payments. There were several judgments against him, and they stood a good chance of losing the house unless something happened, soon.

His phone rang and he glanced at the small screen. It was his wife and he quickly punched the button to accept her call.

“Rachel, where are you? Are you all right?” he said. His only response was a soft moaning sound and a measured scraping that was familiar, yet alien in its obscurity.

“Rachel, is that you?” His voice rose several octaves as fear squeezed his guts in an icy grip.

To be continued!

Till Death Do We Part is just one of the stories in my collection 9 Dark Tales.

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Monday Motivational

Monday kind of snuck up on me this week. I've been more than a little busy with work and writing so I leave you with this.