Tag Archives: Norse mythology

Level Four

I think I’ll just make this a quick post today.

The highlights of my last week:

I hit Level Four on the Magic Spreadsheet this week. My daily word count is now a minimum of 400 words.

Story 35 is done. It’s about a man who wakes up in the middle of a lake. He is rescued by what is essentially a Valkyrie, a beautiful warrior maiden riding a flying horse. She takes him back to his village, where he discovers he seems to be the one named as savior in an ancient prophecy. The story is actually more of a beginning than a complete tale, but it does the trick. I’ll probably expand on it later when I figure out more about the prophecy and what he will need to do to fulfill his destiny.

I have been watching a lot of superhero animated movies lately. No particular reason for it. I guess I just thought I needed something light, with a dash of awesome. Netflix has a pretty good selection.

That’s about it. I’ll see you next week to let you know about Dirty Little Freaks 36.

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Still Writing

As you can see by my nifty NaNoWriMo word count meter, I’m still writing. As of Wednesday evening I have over 56,000 words written for this novel. I also think I might have an idea on how I can end the book. Or at the very least a good cliffhanger.

When I was planning this story, I simply could not comprehend how the Republican party had turned so fully against common sense. It seemed that everything they were doing was an attack on the American people. And so, like any good Christian, I assumed that they had been possessed by demons. That was a basic premise of my idea.

However, after I started writing it, I found it more focused on my heroes and less on the demons. Even with all of these words written, the demons are only mentioned a few times and never actually seen. There is no proof of any kind of demonic influence, only a statement by one of the Norns (from the Norse mythology, a little like the classic Greek Fates).

Today I was working on planning a raid by the rebel forces. I decided to attack the Dane County Coliseum, and I had to decide why. What I came up with was that the wealthy people in power have converted into something like the ancient Roman Coliseum, where gladiatorial and sexual events are held on a regular basis to entertain the elite. After the recent laws regarding the Castle Doctrine and the Republican war on women, I figured that kind of perversion would be something that many of them approve of if they had the power to enact it.

The rebels want to attack for two reasons. First, to take out some of the sick idiots running the place. They expect the Governor (who I hope will be indicted soon in real life) to be there along with several other political figures. Secondly, they want to film the depravities being conducted there and broadcast them to the public, hoping to incite outrage in the people and get more of them on their side.

My idea is that when they attack they will find more than they bargained for. They will find that after the fights and orgies are over, the demons come in to “clean up” by eating any surviving prisoners. No witnesses, right?

I think that might be a good way to end this book. I would have the big reveal of the truth behind the devastation of America, and the promise of more battles to come in the next book.

The other option, of course, is to do the reveal and then just keep writing. I could just keep going until the whole story is done, then break it up into sections for publishing, like Tolkien did with the Lord of the Rings.

I guess I’ll have to keep thinking about that. In the meantime, I’m going to try to keep up my pace until Friday, the end of November. Then I’ll verify my word count on the NaNoWriMo website to become an official winner. What comes after that, I’m not sure. I’ll probably need a break, because I’m running out of my pre-planned outline, and the story has changed so much from that anyway that I should probably take at least a few days to plan out the next phase of the story.

That’s all I’ve got for tonight. If you are participating in NaNoWriMo I hope you have either finished or are almost done. And if you didn’t join me in this month-long adventure in writing, there’s always next year!

See you again on Sunday. Good night!

PS: Now go write!

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Mix and Match

Before you ask, no, I’m not done with my summary yet. I have been working on it, honest! I’m up to over 3,400 words as I write this, but I hit a snag. It’s not a problem with the story so much as that I had a new idea that has got me thinking about a different, and hopefully better, way to bring some conflict into this tale. And that brings me to the topic for today.

A good trick for many authors is to mix and match things that may, at first glance, not seem to fit together. My idea does this.

My NaNoWriMo story this year is about civil war, as the ramifications of the Republican political platform have been weighing heavily on my mind lately. The backwards thinking of the right-wing extremists that have taken control of the GOP have convinced me that this election is the most important vote of my life. And I couldn’t help but to (literally) demonize the crazies by including a supernatural influence in my story. I also thought that this would be a good way to rewrite the first NaNoWriMo book and include the Valkyries I have been writing about since then.

So since I have tossed all these ideas into the melting pot, you can guess that the resulting plot summary is all over the map. As I was working on it tonight I think that I may have come up with a way to bring all this stuff together into a single, cohesive whole. Either that or I have lost it completely and my story will end up even more of a mess than before.

Before I explain my idea, I need to tell you a little bit about myself. First, I am half Norwegian (on my mother’s side). That heritage is why I chose to write about Valkyries in the first place. I had a basic knowledge of the Norse mythology, and over the last couple of years I have amassed a small collection of books that have helped me expand that understanding into something that I can use in my books.

Second, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. That’s right, the Mormons. The same church that Mitt Romney says he belongs to, although I don’t think that he is living any of the principles that the church believes in. But I won’t go into that now. If you watched the debates over the last few weeks you should know by now that he is not now, and probably never will be ready to be a good President. And if you disagree with me then you obviously haven’t been paying attention and I probably wouldn’t be able to convince you otherwise, so we’ll leave it at that.

So taking those two things into account, while I have a great respect for my Norwegian heritage, my faith in the LDS church is also very important to me. My first NaNoWriMo effort included some heavy references to my church, and I do want to include that in this book as well. But that brings me to a problem, as well as a possible solution.

The problem is that if the Valkyries and the related mythology are such a big part of this book, how does my main character resolve the conflict between his introduction to the supernatural world and his faith in the Christian God? (No matter what you may have heard, the LDS faith worships the same God as the Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists, Baptists, etc., etc., etc. We just don’t think they are doing it right.)

My solution was that the Christian God is superior to the Norse gods. If you read the Norse mythologies, deities such as Odin, Thor, Loki, and the others are all represented more as super-powered humans than actual gods. As a matter of fact, I think that there are some experts on this mythology that think that the Norse pantheon is actually a tale of a group of actual people that has been exaggerated way out of proportion over the course of history. They think that these adventurers simply had a really good bard to tell their stories, making them into the stuff of legends.

What this means for my hero is that he can keep his faith while fighting side by side with Thor. He can take comfort in the prospect of going to heaven while he is battling the demons of Loki’s army.

Working with one of the Einherjar (the warriors of Valhalla) may be a little harder to explain, but I’ll figure that out when I get to it.

So here is where we come to the idea that could bring this all together. As I was thinking about the Norse mythology, I started thinking about Ragnarök. The Norse Armageddon was something that I had thought about including before, but now I think that their version of the end of the world could be the one thing that pulls this all together.

I think I can plan the book so that my hero is thrown into one scenario after another from the prophecy of Ragnarök. The parts would have to be changed in order to more include more demons than giants, but I think that this could help to focus the plot into a recognizable pattern. Not too recognizable, as I want it to be a surprise when I pull out the reveal that this s all a lead-up to Armageddon, but I think it could definitely work.

So that’s where I’m going to have to focus my efforts. I’m going to try to finish the summary with that end goal in mind, and then when I break it up into a usable outline I can interweave the Ragnarök theme into it as appropriate.

Please let me know what you think of this plan. Is this a workable idea, or am I way off base? Any input would be appreciated.

I’ll check in again on Sunday. See you then!

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November 18 – Better Late than Never

I got my new Kindle Fire on Wednesday. 🙂 But of course I lost a lot of time on my writing because I had to play with it 😦

Goal 1: I will work on my writing every day.

Last night I had a setback. I sat down to write and my brain had a meltdown. I realized that I had introduced all these different characters in my story and I couldn’t remember all their names. Most of them are secondary or even tertiary characters, but my OCD couldn’t take it and so instead of writing I sat down and went through the whole 28,000 words already written and started taking notes. Not only for the characters, but for the places and important things that I had brought in.

Speaking of things, I have to report on what I did at our Tuesday night meeting. I was writing about my Valkyrie meeting a dragon. The dragon masquerades as a little old lady who is the lighthouse keeper for Rock Island. Nicole had gone there for information about the villain of the piece, and in order to tell Nicole what she knew, the dragon uttered the fatal words “Let me tell you a story.”

I wrote that and instantly realized I was in trouble. My groan of anguish echoed through the little restaurant where we met. How the hell was I supposed to do this? The dragon was going to tell a story about the magic item that was the instigating event of the whole book, and at that point I still had no idea what, exactly, that item was.

You can see why I was upset.

But I forged ahead, and with a little research on Wikipedia I had created a new myth about a magic locket created by a master dwarven craftsman in order to honor the Norse god Baldr. I now not only had my story, but I had answered the question about the nature of this item. That had been bugging me for weeks, and believe me, it feels good to finally know the answer.

It wasn’t easy to come up with this on the spur of the moment, but I have to tell you, I feel good about it.

Goal 2: I will participate in NaNoWriMo in November.

Due to my breakdown last night, I only wrote 191 words, bringing my grand total to 28,700. This means that I am still ahead of schedule, but most of my cushion is gone. Hopefully I will be able to rebuild that buffer this weekend.

Goal 3: Diet and exercise to lose at least 10 pounds by the end of this round.

My Halloween candy is gone, so maybe now I can work on losing that weight. I made my wife promise me we won’t go out to eat until Tuesday. I suppose I will have to make an exception for any write-ins I attend, but I will try to restrain myself from the pastries and only get healthy foods and drinks.

Sorry for the late update. I should be able to remember to post on schedule next Monday. Thanks for stopping by!

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July 11 – Working Vacation

Today marks the start of a long-anticipated vacation from the day job. I take a week off every July to celebrate my wedding anniversary. So of course I am spending my time with my wife, doing all the little things that have been piling up for the last few months. It’s amazing how much there is to do when you don’t have to go to work.

Yesterday my wife and I started cleaning. Our house was starting to look like an episode of “Hoarders”, with piles of junk getting higher and higher on all available surfaces. We haven’t been able to use our kitchen table for months, and the love seat in our living room had all but vanished under piles of clothes and boxes. I have been using my laptop at a card table set up in the corner because my desk was overflowing with books and papers. Even our coffee table was a lost cause. Every time we cleaned it off more stuff appeared to fill it up practically overnight. I’m too ashamed to tell you what our bedrooms look like.

We managed to clean off the love seat and coffee table yesterday, and today I managed to clean off my desk while my wife started tackling a small pile in our bedroom. I expect that we will need to pile stuff temporarily on the love seat and coffee table in order to organize our bedrooms. I cleaned off the desk because I really want to be able to do my writing there instead of in the corner.

I plan on continuing to write during this vacation as well. I started rewriting the first chapter of Finding Valhalla over the weekend, and I think it is a bit better. My Valkyrie has gotten younger, and there are some new characters to work in, but I think the story will be better in the long run. I still have more research and planning to do, but I was inspired by the story of Brynhild and Sigurd in the book Nordic Gods and Heroes by Padraic Colum. I think it will serve very well as an example of a doomed romance, with sacrifice and betrayal, ending in death. I’ll have to play around a bit with the mythology in order to make my Valkyries descendants of Brynhild when the original myth doesn’t mention any children, but that’s called poetic license, right?

So that’s my update for today. I’ve got to get back to work now. There’s still a lot of piles left to sort through. Wish me luck!

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ROW80 Update May 8

Goals:

  1. Spend at least half an hour every day on writing or editing, an hour on weekends
  2. Finish rewrite of Dragons at Dawn
  3. Post to my blog on the ROW80 update days (Sunday and Wednesday)
  4. Read at least one of my books on writing every week

I finished my edits on my short story about my lead in Finding Valhalla, but I am waiting for a final review from one of my critique partners. I haven’t decided yet how I will present it. I would like to just post it online and let everyone read it, but it would also be cool if I put it out there to see if I could get it published. There’s also the option of throwing it up on Amazon or Smashwords for 99¢ to see if anyone would buy it. I’ll be sure to keep you all informed once I decide.

I didn’t do any writing or editing Saturday. This is the first time I have missed my goals, and I feel a bit disappointed with myself for doing so. I know, life happens and all that, but I’m still going to try not to let it happen again. The reason I didn’t do any writing was because I was busy shopping. My wife and I met with my son and mother-in-law (long story that I’m not going to get into here) and spent a very busy morning together. We started with the Free Comic Book Day, then went to Barnes & Noble for some books. I picked up three books on Norse mythology for my personal library that I will be able to use for research on my Valkyrie stories. After that we went to P.F. Changs for lunch, followed by at trip to Costco. We stocked up on groceries, and I got a 1TB portable hard drive and a new digital camera. My new camera is able to take HD movies, so maybe now I can finally post a video blog! Of course, first I have to figure out 1) how to do it, and 2) what to blog about! Let me know if you have any ideas.

I am still reading Writing the Short Story, by Jack M Bickham. I haven’t made any progress since my last update, and am still on Chapter 12 (of 18). Also on my reading list: I just finished River Marked by Patricia Briggs. Loved it! Her Mercy Thompson series is one of my favorite series, and this one is no exception. In this story she takes some time away from the werewolves, vampires, and fae to explore Mercy’s Indian heritage.

That’s it for today. I have a lot of work to do tonight before I end up missing another day on my goals. See you Wednesday!

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Research

As I have been writing I keep finding the need to research. When I was writing my NaNoWriMo project Dragons at Dawn I relied heavily on my old Dungeons and Dragons books as inspiration for spells that the wizard hero was casting, as well as for the demons he was fighting. For my current project Finding Valhalla I checked out several books on Norse mythology as inspiration and reference material. For example, I am currently re-reading the legend of Ragnarok to see how I might fit at least pieces of the mythos into my story. As you might expect, an apocalyptic theme like Ragnarok isn’t something that should be covered in a single book, so this research will help me determine what parts to reveal now and which parts will be included in future books.

The Internet is also useful for research. You can find all sorts of stuff out there if you know how to look. Let me give you a list of some of the ways I have used the Internet to help me with my books:

  • Character description: I had a basic idea of how I wanted my main characters to look. I took one simple feature, the hair color, and did a Google image search. Then I went through the images found and picked a few that I thought best represented my mental image of the character. These pictures (copied into Scrivener for easy reference) have helped me focus on the characters as I write.
  • Setting description: Like with the character images, I figured it would be a good idea to have pictures of some of the primary locations in my book. For example, my heroine works in a bookstore/coffeeshop. So I did a Google search for similar locations and found a few that I liked. My heroine’s house is based on a house for sale in my neighborhood that caught my eye. I went to the realtor’s website and downloaded pictures of the house, inside and out, that I can use to help me as I write each scene. I did a similar thing for a condo owned by one of her friends. Google Maps also helps when finding directions to places or interesting locations in an area.
  • Other descriptions: Characters and settings aren’t the only things that need to be described. My heroine has a magical sword that needed an image. I also needed to find the right car for her rich friend to drive. Each of these things were found after a short Google search.
  • Names: My heroine told me her name was Miranda when she first grabbed me and demanded that I tell her story. The rest of the club didn’t come as easily. My hero is named George after the legend of Saint George and the Dragon, but then I realized I didn’t really know the legend, so I used Wikipedia to find out more. Miranda’s mother was named Amanda because it rhymed. I named some of the smaller characters only after some research on websites that showed the meanings of the names. For example, I found Kari’s name only after searching for popular Norwegian names and finding one with a meaning that seemed to fit the character in my head. The name of the bookstore was based on Norse mythology, and the name of Miranda’s sword was from an English to Norwegian translation through Google Translate.

Please leave a comment on ways you do research for your writing.

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