Mark Neumayer

author of the Valda & the Valkyries series

Tag: writing

Limited Time Free Book Offer

ValdaTBOpromoI 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!

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!

All-Seeing Odin

I’m working through the edits on my second novel Valda Goes Through Hel. It is a sequel to my first one Valda and the Valkyries and follows the title character on a difficult journey as she travels through the Norse land of the dead at the same time that she through one heck of an emotional wringer.

As I was working through some of the comments I got back from my great friend/first reader/editor Lyn Meany Robertson I came across a comment from her about how All-Seeing Odin did not foresee the outcome of a certain event. While I typed out a response to her comment it brought up an interesting train of thought that I wanted to share.

Odin has many different names. You can find a great list of them on this Wikipedia page. He is The Wanderer, Raven God, God of Wishes, Father of Victory and many, many more names including All-Seeing. But when I think of this last name I think it refers to his actual vision, in particular when he is seated on his throne Hlidskjalf. When he is seated there Gylfaginning tells us that “he looked out over the whole world and saw every man’s acts, and knew all things which he saw.” This strikes me as a reference to physical vision.

When Odin trades his eye in exchange for a drink from Mimir’s Well he gains knowledge of the future and the coming end of the gods at Ragnarok. But he still doesn’t know everything, he doesn’t see the outcomes of all of his actions. That sense of fallibility, that the gods are not all-knowing, runs through almost all of the Norse myths. The gods are not perfect: Thor loses his temper; Loki is a liar and a cheat; Odin steals the mead of poetry. For all of their might and power – they have human qualities. (I could just as well say that we have their qualities.) I think it is this humanity that makes their stories so appealing through the years. We still thrill to their legends because we see touches of ourselves within them. Faced with the often intimidating specter of an unknowable future, we can draw comfort from the fact that the gods in some small way share our journey.

Kennings are Cool

Viking Dragon Ship from a Northumbrian manuscript

Kennings are a kind of word-play that originated back in Old English, Old Norse and Germanic poetry. Kennings create a new compound word or phrase that replaces another one. The best kennings are creative and make you think about something in a new way. Probably the most famous kenning from the olden days was using the phrase whale-road to talk about the sea. (Since a whale travels through the sea in the same sense that a man travels along a road.) Blood became slaughter-dew or battle-sweat, the sun becomes a sky-candle and a king is giver-of-gold. These were poetical phrases and we’ve lost some of the alliteration as the words are translated, but you can still see the beauty of the imagery in many of the old phrases. You can find a list of more Norse kennings here.

When I first read about these I thought they were the neatest thing. I’ve been writing a long time and I love witty word-play and that is what kennings are all about. I was a little bummed that we don’t have modern day kennings. This wouldn’t be the first time that my first impression was wrong because while I was looking for more kennings I came across this page from one Dr. Wheeler of Carson-Newman College and I saw that there are more kennings around us than we may first realize. Have you ever told a rug-rat to shut their pie-hole? Then you’ve used a kenning. Some other modern ones are beer-goggles, gas-guzzler, boob-tube, tramp-stamp, eye-candy, cancer-stick, fat-cat and wall-flower

Try making up some of your own and add them into the comments, but please, keep them clean, we don’t allow potty-mouths on the blog.

Posted by Mark Neumayer

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

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