I am giving away the e-book edition of Trial By Ordeal, the first book in the Valda & the Valkyries series.
If you’re looking for a heart-warming story about a plucky heroine – this is it. If you’re looking for a light-hearted romp with the characters and creatures of Norse mythology – this is it. If you’re looking for an adventurous tale loved by boys and girls of all ages – this is it.
And for a short time it is my gift to you. Click here!
The little coloring project that I was working on is finally ready to go. Digital Weaves: Vector Graphic Coloring Pages Inspired by Ancient Knot-work is now available at Amazon.com. Here is the back cover copy:
Coloring therapy might be a new buzz word but the idea of coloring to reduce stress isn’t – Carl Jung, the famous psychiatrist had patients color in pictures 100 years ago. Various forms of decorative knot-work have been used for centuries. From the intricate cording of the Chinese to the illuminated manuscripts of the Celts to the wildly imaginative carvings of the Norse, these patterns of lines have provided an endless source of fascination. Digital Weaves combines these two ideas into one book that soothes the mind. It uses the newest digital technology to create stunningly complicated artwork inspired by the knots of old. Ease away your stress and tension as you indulge your inner artist.
I have a giveaway running now on Goodreads. Two signed print copies of my book Valda Goes Through Hel are up for grabs. You have until the end of the month to sign up for your chance to win. Contest is open to the US, Canada, Great Britain and Australia.
Yes, I put a young girl through Hel and wrote a book about it. 🙂 The Kindle edition is finally up on Amazon (You can buy it here) and a print version will be following shortly. Here’s the cover copy:
The young Dwarven girl Valda is finally and truly a Valkyrie. She has earned her place as a servant of the Norse gods. She is finally free to travel beyond her ancient mountain home. That’s when Odin sends her on a mission that brings her straight back to her ancient mountain home.
There she discovers Draugr, the zombies of the Norse world, are threatening the city. Her search for the person behind this threat takes her all the way to Hel, the land of the dead. She can at least be grateful that Loki isn’t the one behind this deadly plot. Then she learns that the Trickster is the only one who can help her stop the undead threat. How can she find her biggest enemy and convince him to help her?
This adventure has our spunky Dwarven Valkyrie going through figurative Hel as she receives one of the worst punishments a Dwarf can suffer. Then she journeys to the literal Norse land of the Dead and meets it’s queen – Hela.
This book is part of the Valda & the Valkyrie series, an ongoing story that takes you on a wild ride, galloping through the people and places of Norse mythology, while throwing in plenty of twists and turns that stay true to the spirit of the sagas. The series is suitable for readers of all ages who are looking for a light-hearted, adventurous story.
I write but I was also a graphic designer for many years so I like to play around with visual images to help inspire me when I am working on a book. There are a number of authors who collect images to help them with locations and characters. I have a Pinterest account where I post images I have found that inspire me while writing and I even continue to add to those Pinterest boards after the book has come out.
It’s also nice to have a physical, tangible prompt to help you along. You might think of it as a talisman or lucky charm. For myself I like to create mockups of my book. These fake covers are then printed out and taped on top of real books. I then have something I can set out on my desk. When I see a “book” like this it reminds me of the goal I’m working towards (or the project I should be working on if I’m wasting time doing something else on the computer.) Yes, it is a bit of a mind game – but it works.
For my first Valda book, Valda & the Valkyries, I created the image to the left. This is nothing like the final book cover but it doesn’t need to be. I don’t stress over getting these mockups perfect. I have a book to write and I don’t have time for that. I just find a good, evocative image, tweak it in Photoshop, slap on some text and call it a day. (One of the giveaways that I rushed these is that they both say “by Mark Neumayer.” Pro designs don’t use the word “by.”)
The image I used for this mockup is a miniature from Reaper minis. If you write fantasy or scifi you can find tons of inspiring images of minis on company web pages and fan sites all over the net.
For the current WIP, Valda Goes Through Hel, I found an awesome image on DeviantArt. Since Hela, the Norse goddess of Death plays a huge part in the story I used the image to create a book cover featuring her. Again, this is kind of down and dirty. My goal with these mockups is not to get a perfect image. I want something that is going to inspire me. It definitely works for me. Give it a try and see if it works for you, too.
This is what my screen looks like in Adobe Illustrator right now as I work on the cover for Valda Goes Through Hel. You can see the linework I have done so far in the center of the screen and her finished hammer is in the upper right. They are both surrounded by reference and inspirational images.
After all the line work is done I do flat colors and then bring everything into Photoshop to add lighting and other fun effects. The cover creation process is a source of joy and frustration to me but I am hoping I can get this one looking half as good as the image that is in my head.
Usually when I write about mythology on the blog I am using the sagas as my source material (the Prose and Poetic Eddas, most often.) So I can understand how people might get a bit confused after reading the promo copy for my book Valda & the Valkyries. The book is about the adventures of a 15 year old Dwarf girl who becomes a Valkyrie. I want to be upfront about this – the book is fiction. While it is based on Norse mythology and uses characters from the myths, I made up the story. Also, I have not read any sagas that mention Dwarves being Valkyries. And yet the idea that a Dwarf could become a Valkyrie is not as crazy as it seems at first.
Bear with me for a bit as I first talk about the Norns. The Norns were the magical entities who ruled over the destinies of god and man. We know the names of the three most prominent ones: Urd, Verdandi and Skuld. Their names roughly translate to “that which happened,” “that which is happening” and “that which should occur” or, to be more blunt: past, present and future. Henry Adams Bellows writes
In Vafthruthnismol, 49, the Norns (this time “three throngs” instead of simply “three”) are spoken of as giant-maidens.
This, and one of the passages in Voluspa, could lead us to believe that the Norns are Jotun, or giantesses. However that may be, we are also told specifically that there are more than three Norns. The three chief ones we have already mentioned determine the destinies of mankind, the others watch over an individual throughout their life in a role similar to the Christian concept of the guardian angel.
Going to Voluspa again we can read:
‘Methinks the Norns were born far asunder, for they are not of the same race. Some belong to the Æsir, some to the Elves, and some are Dvalin’s daughters.”
Dvalin was a famous dwarf, so Dvalin’s daughters would be a kenning for dvergar, or dwarves. So in this passage we learn that the lesser Norns could be any of several races, including the Dwarves.
Back to the Valkyries – as I wrote about in this article, human maidens could, under the right conditions, become Valkyries. We also know that Skuld was a Valkyrie and a Norn and that she might have been a giantess. So while my conclusion is not official in any way, shape or form, it seems to me it isn’t that far-fetched to assume that a Dwarf, who we know could be a lesser Norn, could also become a Valkyrie. What do you think?
I did, it’s true. Although I’m not talking about cyber-bullying (Is there an app for that?) or even real-life bullying. No, this was more along the lines of making life miserable for the heroine of my second novel.
If you’ve been reading my other blog entries you know that I’m into writing books based on Norse mythology. I started out with Valda & the Valkyries. Now I just finished the first draft of the second book in the series Valda Goes Through Hel. In this one I literally and figuratively put my spunky Dwarf heroine through Hel. She becomes aware of some troubling side-effects to being a Valkyrie, suffers the worst fate possible for a Dwarf, and has to lead a collection of scoundrels on a mission through Hel itself. For inspiration I followed pulp-writer Lester Dent’s advice:
Part one, hit your hero with a heap of trouble. Part two, double it. Part three, put him in so much trouble there’s no way he could ever possibly get out of it.
The manuscript is going out to my fantastic group of alpha readers now. I can’t say enough good things about how much I value their help. If you are a writer you know this already. Good alpha readers are a treasured commodity. Once I get their feedback and finish with the final edits I’ll be packaging it all together and getting it published as soon as possible.
Today’s image comes to us through wordle.net I plugged the text into their nifty tool and got back this fun word cloud. The larger the word, the more often it appears during the text. You can see Valda is front and center and Hrulfgar is back as well, but who or what are Draugr? You ‘ll have to check back next week to find out.