Mark Neumayer

author of the Valda & the Valkyries series

Tag: writers

Looking for Critique Partners and Beta Readers

By Leonid Pasternak [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Ideally, these people would like fantasy work geared towards upper MG/lower YA, because that’s what I write. I have one book up on Amazon and the next is done awaiting final polish at 89k words.

I am thick-skinned about my work and prefer to hear honest reactions to it. On the flip side if you want me to look at something of yours, I will nicely tell you what I think is wrong with it. I like reading all sorts of stuff myself: fantasy; science fiction; mysteries; action/adventure/espionage and more.

If you’re interested in working with me get in touch and we can start small with a chapter exchange and take it from there. Thanks!

5 Sources for Learning About Norse Myths

Part of writing is doing your research. Not that long ago this would have meant hours spent searching through dusty shelves and traveling to different libraries. Luckily we have the internet now and some great resources are brought right into our homes. This week I wanted to share some of the online resources I used while I was writing my novel Valda & the Valkyriesand it’s forthcoming sequel Valda Goes Through Hel.  This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list ( I have over 3 dozen links in my Norse reference bookmark folder) but it is certainly a great place to get started in your own studies.

The Viking Answer Lady
While there is information on this site about Norse mythology, the majority of it deals with various day to day information about the lives of the Vikings. Lots of good details to be found here about old Norse food, clothing, agriculture, warfare and more. Typical pages lay out solid information and give you a listing of resources where you can dig for more.
This web site has a lot of information about the Norse runes. But, to quote them “The runes are inextricably bound to Norse mythology. One who aspires to be a user of runes needs a working knowledge of the mythology and writings of the runic era.” So what this site has done is put together an incredibly comprehensive listing of god, goddesses, giants, dwarves and wights. But they don’t stop there, going on to list different kennings and references and just tons more good stuff. They break it down into an alphabetical listing starting here.
This web site covers many different mythologies with a healthy dose of attitude. If you prefer a little snark and sass with your Norse research is a good place to find information on over 102 gods, goddesses and various other creatures from the Norse mythos.

While there have been questions from time to time about the accuracy of entries on this site, there is no argument that Wikipedia is the go-to site for online encyclopedias. So it’s no surprise that they have a lot of information on the Norse myths. The articles are generally well-written and close out with further reading suggestions and links. There is artwork referenced in many of the articles and those from Wikimedia Commons are even in the public domain and available for use.
There is nothing like going straight to the source for your information. On this website you can find English translations of the Prose and Poetic Eddas along with many other sagas. Storytelling has not really changed that much over the centuries and the works found here are entertaining as well as educational.

Feel free to add any links that you’ve found useful in the comments!

Posted by Mark Neumayer

I Put a 15-year-old Girl Through Hel

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 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.

Posted by Mark Neumayer

Skurge’s Last Stand

Skurge’s Last Stand by Walt Simonson

I am a voracious reader, devouring almost any book I can get my hands on. When I was younger my reading diet included a lot of comic books. I have very fond memories of my mom walking me down to the corner drug store where I would spend my weekly allowance on a copy of Spiderman, Captain America or the Fantastic Four. I also found out there were comics about this Norse guy – Thor. I just ate that up. I loved reading the mythology books at the library. (The librarian once tried to get me to go over to the kids section with the other kids and I strongly informed her “No, I like these books.”) Now here were more adventures of the Norse God of thunder in comic book form. Even at a young age I knew that it wasn’t exactly Thor: he didn’t have the red hair and the beard; the mythical Thor didn’t turn into a mere mortal; and the Thor of the sagas never palled around with superheroes in the modern day. But I loved those comics because they were faithful to the spirit of Thor.

My hands down favorite issues of the Thor comics are all from the run of Walt Simonson. For two and a half years in the early 80’s Simonson wrote and drew some simply incredible stories. He updated the characters while keeping them true to the essence of who they were. There is so much to like in that run. Simonson wove a saga around the fire-demon Surtur which led to Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods. He had an unknown warrior from a race of aliens not only beating Thor in combat, but proving himself worthy to pick up Thor’s hammer. Yet I have no hesitation in naming my favorite issue from those 2 1/2 years – it has to be #362 “First Blood, Last Man.” The comic concerns a journey by Thor into the very bowels of Hel to rescue the souls of some mortals. Skurge, the Executioner is a long-time foe of Thor but he accompanies the god of thunder on his mission. Skurge had been, well, let’s be blunt and say he wasn’t the deepest of people. His character revolved around the idea of big strong guy with a magic ax to serve as a foil to Thor, the big strong guy with a magic hammer. But Simonson took this basic character and built him into a story that just resonates and thrills at the same time. Skurge’s actions are unexpected, yet they are a logical extension of who he is. I still get a little chill every time I read his final stand, even after all these years and all the times I have read it.

The Norse myths have inspired my writing, but Simonson has too. In my work I try to capture that sense of epic magnitude, where you can tell grand sweeping tales even if they focus on the actions of a small group, or even if they are just about one god or man or Dwarf girl making a stand for something they believes in.

Check out Walt Simonson’s Facebook page here.

Posted by Mark Neumayer

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