Sunday, 24 January 2010

My Raven banner soon to be flying over on YouTube!

Well it's been an eventful weekend. And a tiring week after a full 5 days at work for the first time this year hahaha.

First I was going to visit my family then I wasn't. Due to train problems getting back on Sunday.

Then I was going to visit them next weekend and now I'm not. Due to the fact that I am now booked for my first driving lesson in 4 years next weekend.

But on the whole it has been a creative and useful weekend off from work and family much to my disappointment.

I got some good editing done on my competition entries. Recieved some good feedback on them from both my boss Terry and the guys over on Writelink. Which has helped me to re-write and edit even better. Think I will get Terry to give it one more read through then my slightly shorter version 'The Old Ways Never Die' will be submitted to the Chapter One International Short Story competition.

Nearly got my alternative version to the story mentioned above now titled 'I Am No Angel' edited to its best. Thanks again to Terry and Writelink for feedback.

I also had quite a norse inspired creative moment with pen and paper when checking some viking facts on Wiki (not entirely reliable I know but handy at the time) and noticed a nice picture of a raven banner which got me thinking. If I could just personalise it a bit it would look nice on the back of the old shirt I got from my boyfriend and on the blank bag I was going to personalise for a mate.

This is my attempt at copying it. It's not exactly like it as the wing lines are twice if not more times the thickness they were on Wiki but I liked it as I drew it so I didn't bother to correct it. Although I must admitt the beak I got a bit too long so it looks more like a vulture head then that of a raven.

My idea was as I drew this that if I left the insides of the wing lines (which were orginally blank in a stencil like image) then this raven might look even better with gold, silver or even multi colour runes showing through it's form. As if the raven image itself was a stencil layered over a nice pattern of runes. Anyway I just have to work out how to bring both the runic pattern and the raven image together. But you'll see more on that as I develope.

Ok now some of you may or may not be interested but you can now catch Valkyrian Sanctum on YouTube!

Now the question you're probably thinking of is 'What on earth can a writer and little creator of things possibly put on YouTube???'

Well the answer to that is this:

Not only can I share some of my favourite videos - uusually animals doing crazy things.

I can now also record little bits of the Jorvik Festival this year and put it on for those of you who couldn't make it to enjoy and share the experience of. Wait till you see the firework and furneral pyre longboat from the Finale this year which I am so DEFINITELY going to!

Also as a writer I may be brave and read out loud to the camera some of my works - trying to literally spread my Valkyrian Ventures through word of mouth.

Plus I can give you delightful mini tours of my creations as I make them so you can see the finished result instead of a flat image. Might even rake in my boyfriend to film me posing in a few of them.

So there are at least 4 things I can bring to the YouTube audience in my own mad vikiny ways.

You can subscribe to me on YouTube and begin sharing what little animals antics I've already uploaded by going to www.youtube.com/user/ValkyrianSanctum.

I did try to have my most common nickname Vallyrie1008 but it was actually taken! *shock horror*.

So I hope you at least keep reading my creative moments on here in my blog if you are not a big fan of YouTube, if you are I hope you still continue to follow me here anyway as well as watch and hear my (rather squeaky) voice on YouTube.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

The Literature Festival is coming to town!

Hoorah! Yipee! Yahoo! The 5th annual Huddersfield Literature Festival comes to town March 10th - 14th! It may only be 5 days but I can garauntee that it will be 5 days packed with the best writing lessons, author reading and events, poetry sessions and literature groups this area has to offer and we have a lot to offer. I myself have been to each one so far since I began my uni degree here and each time I managed to truly enjoy myself in it all.

Please visit http://www.litfest.org.uk/ for more details on the authors and events taking place this year.

But I save the best till last writers, they are holding a short story and poetry competition and the winners get published in the Grist Anthology!

So if you want to beat the many thousands of entries for the Grist Anthology competition that opens in May as far as I believe then please do write your best 1000 words or less (or 10 lines or less in case of poetry) and then you can be one of the first to be included in the Grist Anthology of New Writing from 2010 (I say 'from' because it took a year since the competition came out to be published and released).

Here's the link to download/save the competition poster and email it to all your other writing friends


It doesn't give much details on rule etc but I believe it to be the bog standard competition guide lines in double spaced lines, A4 print outs, numbered pages, cover sheet with author details, title and word count on the front etc but I will use my friendly connection with Michael Stewart (director of the festival and the genius behind Grist) to contact him for exact details and once I know more I'll put it up on here.


<--- My former creative writing tutor, mentor and very good friend Michael Stewart holding the first edition of The Grist Anthology of New Writing at its launch party back in November last year.
So best of luck to all those who plan to enter (I am!) the deadline is 10th February with the Winners being announced at the Festival Launch party on March the 10th.
May your creative sparks roar into a blaze of inspiration!

Monday, 18 January 2010

Daring + Connections = one more small piece of my dream come true!

Well I haven't much to say at the moment really as it's been back to work as usual (no more snow to give me some time off boo hoo oh well I admitt even I was getting a bit sick of it) so I'm feeling a bit drained creatively at the moment. Hence there is no real review of Avatar yet (but I will do one eventually but mainly noting on anything in it which I found particularly enchanting which is hard because 100% of it was totally enchanting) and why my attempts at trying to draw Gadzooks the inspiration dragon from Chris D'Lacey's books has ended up in a bit of a flop with the dragon not looking like anything close to a dragon. But I'm a baby with drawing hence my Valkyrie Rising sketch has arms tooooo long. But like with my writing practise will only help me get better.
However I do have some good news on a writing note in that a) I have finally given my competition entires to my boss Terry to read through for me (she has a keen eye for all the mistakes I don't realise I've made), b) I'm also getting some very revealing feedback on the same peices from Writelink.co.uk/community a fantastic bunch of people who always help me out so I know I have lots of editing and rewriting to do but I look forward to as it can only get better surely? and C) the most important peice of news to be honest which is in relation to my post title (bet you're wondering what it was on about) is that Michael at Dismorphia.com (another great viking loving bunch trying to develope a 3D medieval Jorvik aka York during the viking era) has agreed to let my Valkyrian Ventures Part 2 - 'Trouble After Midnight' - fearure in the Viking Chronicle Dismorphia Newsletter!
WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Oh...wait....
Ah it's still in it's earliest draft but never fear he has agreed to wait until it's absolutely ready for the 22,000 viking loving readers that subscribe to Dismorphia's Viking Chronicle. I may even get it ready to be released at the same time the Jorvik Viking Festival 2010 is launched on the 15th of February. He did say they are working on having all content in the newsletter to feature as well on the website (at present it's a blank canvas with links back to the newsletter subscription for more info) so I may wait until they have that running then it's also on a newsletter and a website.
Now if you're wondering why he's having Part 2 of my Valkyrian Ventures it's because he first feature 'The Old Ways Never Die' back in September's newsletter last year. I only finally realised I should try and exploit*UTILISE* I mean utilise his friendly connection and support as well as his website subject area which suits my work perfectly (albeit mine is in a modern day setting).
Ok I did save the best news to last and of course I will immediatly throw up a huge link covered in flashing lights and fireworks once 'Trouble After Midnight' is in it's prime, submitted and featured on website and newsletter. So watch this space.
My Valkyrian Ventures may well be coming to a screen (PC that is) or inbox near you!

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Valkyrian Ventures - Story Art - Preview into Part 4 *Exclusive*


This is a drawing of an imaginative moments I had when waking up one morning and thinking about what will happen next in Part 4 (still in progress) of my Valkyrian Ventures series.This is what I imagined as I considered how my main character would gain her Valkyrian wings.
I had a vision of it being some part of ritual ceremony of ascendance taking place under a full moon and only ending as the Sun breaks over the horizon heralding a new day. Now as Freya, leader of the Valkyries, is the one and true and original Valkyrie Battle Maiden she would take on the role of a high priestess in a way and I would also highlight the fact that she is not one of the Aesir but actually a Vanir Goddess (the Vanir were more attuned to nature whereas the Aesir represented more human elements e.g. love, battle, farmers and sailors.)
This would be done by having Freya place upon the head of Jenny (my lead character) a wreath of Ash leaves from the sacred world tree Yggdrasil, then tie a small bough of a Yew tree (a tree often regarded to help spirits to the afterlife hence being found in graveyards) round the waist of Jenny. So Jenny is now wearing two natural and powerful tree symbols. The Ash to represent her allegiance to the Aesir and Vanir and all those who live upon the world tree and the Yew to symbolise her role as a soul guide and guardian. Jenny is also holding a compact spear tipped with silver as her sacred weapon of defence and battle so she arms herself as a spiritual warrior as part of the Valkyrie ranks.
Now those of you will notice the bloody mess on Jenny's back and that is the most important part of the ritual that will give her wings.
First off she is branded with runic magic with the letter and rune 'V' which not only represents the Valkyries but also the Vanir and if the 'V' was like this '<' then it would become the rune Ken which means torch, a light, a fire which is a powerful force and imbues great magic against the darker and colder powers such as Ice Giants and black spirits.Around the runic branding are (please believe me) 7 silver feathers. One taken and worked into Jenny's back from each of the prime and Elder Valkyries (the first of Freya's ranks).
So between all these symbols of potent old and runic magic and the fall of the moon with the rise of the sun Jenny will ascend as a full Valkyrie and earn her wings.
If you're now curious about my Valkyrian Ventures please access their new special section in my wordpress blog via the link in my 'Link to other sites and blogs' which can be found under my profile section in the top right of the screen.
Hope this provides a tasty creative tease if not a taster to new readers of my imagination inspired by norse mythology. In particular the little known about role of the Valkyries - the Aesir's answer to angels.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Writing Challenges:

Checking my inbox I discovered an email from Chapter One Promotions announcing that their International Short Story Competition is now open.

International Short Story Competition - Chapter One Promotions

And one of the judges is from the independent publisher Legend Press. I went to their website to see what kind of stories (if possible) they were into and discovered that their sister publisher Paperback is hosting a very different writing competition where one author has written half of a book ‘Tale of Two Halves’ and everyone is invited to finish it to a minimum of 10,000 words (in the book or on a PC) and the winner wins a contract with Legend Press. Of course this entirely depends if the first half of the original story grabs your imagination but I think it is certainly a novel (apologies for the pun) way of encouraging new writers with pre-set material. I think all writers should give it a go just for the challenge. I know I will.

'A Tale of Two Halves' Competition

So that’s 4 challenges I’m currently throwing my gauntlet into the ring for, the Writing Mag Ghost Short Story Competition, The Yorkshire Mag Ghost Story Competition, Chapter One Short Story Competition and A Tale of Two Halves (once I get, read and begin writing for the book).

Hopefully I won’t load myself up too much. But the first too I definitely intend to enter.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Another Icy Day in Frozen Britain - Perfect for hours reading a good book


It it these two things which brought me home half a day early today and have also given me tomorrow off.

1) A country gridlocked in deep snow, never ending slush and grit shortages.
2) Ice that looks pretty when viewed up close on your windscreen but it is like an invisible banana peel under your feet where ever you walk.
It is the reason why I was the only part of our small Library team to make it into work today as Judith twisted her knee badly earlier in the week when she slipped on the ice, why Sue's son couldn't go to college so she had to look after him, why Terry's car was effectively frozen solid in a foots worth of snow upon the moors and why I was extremely lucky to get in at all as I managed to get the last bus of the morning before they were suspended due to black ice. Thankfully they were running again when college closed for the rest of the day (apart from exams of course) at 1.30pm so I got home safely. Buy boy it was awful on the footpaths this morning. Wherever there was slush the night before there was ice this morning. My poor wellies didn't have much grip but I managed just. But I bet quite a few poor souls lost themselves to Jack Frost's cruel tricks.
Anyway due to the hazards on roads, footpaths and around the college campus we not only shut early (although it was a half day for most students anyway) we are also going to be closed tomorrow. So that means yet again it will be a 3 day week like the week before due to the Arctic stretching her wintry wings and reminding our landscape of the Ice Age hehehe.
But as my title suggests this weather keeps most people indoors and when you get fed up of watching boring day time TV and the repetition of bad transport and weather conditions on the news - that is the time to bring out a good book or several in my case as I have been flying through my latest favourite series. One which I will be forever grateful to my Mum for introducing me to it although she mistakenly bought the last current book and not the first. But I don't care either way it's been money well spent. What is this fantastic series?
Well the author's name is Chris D'Lacey and he writes a series of books (5 so far) about dragons, in particular clay dragons with a little bit of magical fire in them and their many adventures with the range of people they come in to contact with. In particular a lodger at their maker's (Mrs Pennykettle's house) by the name of David Rain who turns out to have quite a natural (if not magical) talent at writing stories themselves. Which is one of the many things which attracted me to begin reading these books despite finding them in the 9-12 section.
And yes I know I'm 22 but I don't care! The best way to stay young is to act young in heart, mind and body! And that does not endorse eating sweets all day - simply means being childish, silly and playful once in a while if not all the time. And these books are way beyond the age range their set in at Waterstones book shop. I would say it would be enjoyed even by a 15 year old. It hasn't got swearing, epic battles or violence of any kind but Chris D'Lacey can still send a shiver down your spine with fear and make you tense as the adventure gets dangerous.
The first is titled 'The Fire Within' and I began that and finished it in the last week of last year - finishing it on New Years Eve. Finished the second titled 'IceFire' about mid way through last week and then as soon as I got home from work today spent all afternoon from 2pm - about 5pmish finishing the third titled 'Fire Star'. Now I'm about to start the fourth title 'The Fire Eternal' before I can finally read the one Mum got me titled 'Dark Fire'.
You can learn all about the dragons, the author and much more at his website http://www.icefire.co.uk/ and read a blog written from the point of view of one of the star clay dragons in the story Gadzooks, who inspires David to write his magical stories in the story themselves. Scroll down to my Creative and Crafty Bloggers list and you will find Gadzook's blog at the bottom.
So as you can see not only does this rather long winter spell (we genuinely haven't had a proper winter like this in the past 10 years at least) resulted in providing me with days off to be creative but also to fulfill my old time favourite hobby - being a bookworm.
May you enjoy your bookworm moments too with a good book in your hands a great tale performing out in your imagination.



Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Creative and Crafty and Chilly Moments:

Well this week has begun quite well despite my 2 day weekend becoming a 3 day weekend due to snow. I managed to finally knuckle down and finish the third sequel in my Valkyrian Venture series 'Sacred Secrets' a draft mind you so please do ignore and blindingly obvious mistakes. I do intend to go through with a fine tooth come and pick out all the knotted errors.

I also enjoyed a lovely chat and friendly company of a fellow writer at work called Zoe. Who kindly shared some of her poetry with me in one of which run a college based competition which was very good. In turn I shared some of my little resources such as my Writing Magazine Annual Competitions guide for this year so she can set herself some targets like I have namely the Yorkshire Magazine Ghost Story Competition and the Writing Magazine Ghost Story competition. Using the same piece but two different versions as one has a short word count that the other. If you wish to sample them please look up in my search bar 'As Old as Houses' sixth draft (the Yorkshire Mag version) and 'As Old As Houses - extended version' (for the Writing Mag). Any thoughts are greatly appreciated even if it's just to point out how bad my grammar and punctuation is.
I have also finally got round to photographing in order to display my 3 favourite crafty and creative christmas presents. Although I admitt one of them I actually did get well before Christmas. But I feel you creative types out there might find them interesting.
First up is my Valkyrie Feather Pendant made and given by my good American friend Julie aka Mermaiden Creations (link to her blog site can be found down the right hand side under 'Crafty and Creative Bloggers' she sells all her wicked creations so if I make you jealous with this little wonder don't fear you can share her magic too). It also came with a pretty magnet with a dove encapsulated with delicate colourful beads.


Second up is another creation of Julie's - a celtic knot wristicuff (basically an ultra classy stylish comfortable wristband - every girl should have one!). I will love my boss forever for getting me this for christmas!

The detail on this is exquisite and must have taken poor lovely Julie days on end sewing the knot all by hand but my is it worth it! Goes so well with my long sleeved thin blue tops don't you think?

Last but certainly not least is a book I absolutely adore and was given to me by one of my best friends. She certainly knows me well by getting this title 'Fairie-ality - The Fashion Collection'.

This is a lovely big book with lots of amazing photographs of costumes, outfit's dresses, underwear, hats and even shoes! All made out from herbs, seeds, nuts, bark, flower heads and petals! All delicate and natural and sadly untotally wearable. But as you can see from the front cover at those outfits amazing! The House of Ellwand is certainly a name to look out for in classy fantasy fashion design. You can browse through a few of the pages yourself at http://www.fairie-ality.com/.

Finally I leave you on a rather chilly note with the stunning image of a Vine Icicles - basically icicles which have formed and transformed the rather drab flowerless vines which cover the draining pipe on the flats opposite my own. Was amazed when I saw how many and how long they were. Shame it's all turned into water now but who knows what Jack Frost and Mr Below Zero Degrees may conjure some winter beauty again soon if this arctic weather doesn't leave us.


Take care in the ice and snow out there all UK residents!

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Valkyrian Ventures - 'Sacred Secrets'- Sequel 3

Below you will find my now finished draft of 'Sacred Secrets' which is the third sequel in what I am now nicknaming my Valkyrian Venture series which begins with 'The Old Ways Never Die' as part one, part two is 'Trouble After Midnight'. I strongly advice you to read the first two before attempting the story underneath as you may not quite understand what is happening and why etc. Either way I hope you enjoy it regardless of the mistakes within it. Please give any feedback or comments you have upon it as I like to hear what people think to my writing.
Sacred Secrets: Draft One

It felt strange walking next to Frigg through fields of wild flowers heading for the nearby fountain in a little woodland close. Not because I was struck silent by her godly aura but by its absence. There was no aura of power, no glowing halo, not one sign of anything. It was like simply walking along with a stranger who felt entirely normal and appeared entirely mortal. At the fountain side she gestured for me to sit on a nearby stone bench. She joined me shortly after casually playing her fingers through the pouring water with a small, pleasant smile upon her face as if hiding some exciting news.
“What is your name Valkyrie?” She asked staring directly at me with that motherly gaze which all mothers have that subtly informs you that you can hide nothing from her.
“Jennifer.”
“And how long have you been with us?”
“About nine hundred years now.”
“During that time did Katharine teach you about the role you perform?”
“Yes, Kate taught me all she knew. How we guide and guard souls that have been selected to join us.”
“Did she teach you anything else?”
“How to defend against Hel’s minions, how to contact other entities if aid is requested, where all the nearest portals are, the methods of soul collection…”
“What I mean is did she teach you anything about the other tasks Valkyries do?”
“Erm, other than that no. As far as I’m aware our main task is gathering souls for Odin’s army.”
She smirked. “Did Katharine ever tell you that Valkyries don’t just guard the dead?”
“No. Our main purpose is the exact opposite. We are forbidden to interfere with mortals lives too much.” Her questions made me feel like I was sitting my Valkyrian exam all over again accept this time every right answer I gave seemed to be wrong. It wasn’t making any sense. “Why are you asking me all this? Have I done something wrong?”
She let out a small warm laugh; her blue eyes twinkled at me in the glorious sunshine of Asgard. “No, not at all Jennifer. I merely wanted to find out how knowledgeable you are on your position.” She paused and got up towards the fountain, playing with its waters again with her back turned towards me. “You saved a mortal from a werewolf last night.”
I was surprised she knew anything about it so my replay came after a small delay. “Yes, he had intentions to mate with her and he needed reminding that cross breeding is forbidden.”
“Very correct Jennifer and you were right in your cause of actions. The werewolf problem is one that is complicated to solve.” She returned to sit beside me. “The reason I am asking all this is that Kate didn’t really teach you everything. Which leaves you a bit lacking for the task this is now required of you.” She saw me open my mouth to protest. “No Jennifer, it is not your fault, neither I nor Kate thought she would ever be absent from us but sadly she is.”
Remembering that night made me feel hot with anger yet cold with sadness. I swallowed hard trying not to let that awful memory overwhelm my resolve.
“But I am not going to let her spirit fade in vane, I am prepared to work hard to equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to at least give you a good chance of succeeding. Only if you are willing to commit to my request whole heartedly for in this there will be no option to back out when things get touch as they will do. What is your answer Jennifer?”
“I will do whatever is required of me if that is indeed what Kate had planned for me.” I replied feeling my heart become coated in steel from the strength and perseverance I was willing to put in to honour Kate’s wishes.
“Excellent, now why don’t you ask me what the task is?”
I laughed. “Ok what is it?”
“Open your jar and I will bring out the person whom will help me explain all this.”
This made me even more curious as to how much she knew, to find out that she knew of my werewolf encounter was puzzling enough but now it seemed it like she had been watching my whole nightshift right down to which souls I had been collecting. I brought out the large pearl white jar from my cloak and placed it on the ground between us. Opening the jar lid with a simple triple tap of my fingers. Inside was a maelstrom of lights accompanied by the whisperings of those trapped inside.
“Erik, you can come out now.”
A wisp like stream of light began to wander slowly out of the jar, like a snake weary of its surroundings. It drifted outwards and up before a figure began to form. Once it had finished unravelling from the masses within a man stood before us. It was the old man from the hospital who had been very demanding of me. Glaring at me quickly he then collapsed upon his knees at Frigg’s feet.
“We have failed Frigg. This fool has brought me back and now...”
“Hush Erik, things will be settled; the matter has just taken an unexpected turn that is all. Jennifer has agreed to put things to right.”
“But the children? They’re on their own. Who’s going to protect them?”
“Jennifer will, once she has completed her training. She was selected for the task long ago but sadly her mentor was taken from us before her training began.”
“What if we are too late? What if they have been...”
“Erik enough of this. The children are fine and well protected. Jennifer saw to that when she left them the other night.”
“You mean she’s met them already? Without knowing they’re at risk?”
“Yes and she in fact saved Chloe from a werewolf, didn’t you Jennifer?”
The grin Frigg gave me was a kin to Loki’s, full of mischief and secrets. Except it wasn’t her grin that silenced me but the fact that Chloe and Nathan were involved in this mysterious matter somehow and their mention proved Frigg had indeed been watching me all night as I feared. To top things off Erik Fergusson turned out to be the Grandfather Chloe mentioned briefly when we met and when she described him as ‘away’ she actually meant he was in hospital seriously ill and now definitely dead. I felt like I had stumbled into a Shakespearian play full of different characters with ranging agendas and an ever twisting plot. All I could do is nod in answer trying to conceal my smug smile at the surprise on Erik’s face.
“I guess I can thank you for that at least.”
“The Norn’s have already woven her destiny even though she didn’t know it.” Frigg added.
“Why are they in danger? Who would want to harm them? They’re mortals.”
Frigg sighed, a sound like a summer breeze in the last days before autumn takes over. “I’m sure Katharine made you aware of the many offspring my husband has sired?” I nodded. “Well he is not the only one to find attraction in other realms.”
“Chloe and Nathan are your children?” My mind was struggling to take all these new revelations in.
“No, no, not directly but they are the descendants of my original son. Erik is the descendant of his father’s family side and together we have been watching the family tree extend into the centuries. Making sure their true heritage was never discovered. It is that which would harm them if Loki or his minions ever discovered it.”
“But old age claimed me and I am the last remaining relative that is aware of the truth. That is why I asked you to send me back. For Katharine had not told me about her new apprentice yet. I am sad to hear she is no longer with us.”
“We all are.” I muttered.
“Now we have spent enough time talking, it is time you began your training now that you know the importance of the task before you. Go to the hall of freedom and restore the rest of the souls. Then head to the Valkryan Sanctum where you will meet Freya to begin.”
I’m meeting Freya I heard my mind scream. Freya herself. The first Valkyrie. The leader of all Valkyries. Not only that but she also embodied all sexual love and female independence. A strong fighter and a whimsical lover.
I got up and left with Frigg’s blessing in my efforts, leaving her and Erik to talk more about the siblings and other matters I presumed. I felt numb as I walked through the beauty of Asgard. I hadn’t felt this numb since I learned the truth about reality on my death bed. All these new truths whirling inside my mind was too much to give strength enough to face Freya for the first since my naming ceremony when I officially joined her ranks. I needed some space to think.
I casually released the souls, ignoring their stampede of questions and pointed to them to group of people who helped new comers accept and understand their situation. I turned around and strode away to my quarters seeking privacy.
Now living conditions in Asgard have changed for both good and bad reasons just like they do in the mortal world when a city or even a country gets too many occupants. With so many mortals joining Asgard from different periods in time, different countries, different languages and different ages, there was bound to be division between certain communities. During my time Asgard has become segments with groups of people sticking together wherever they have something in common be it nationality, former religion (and I say former but not everyone denounces the mortal faith they once had, some still believe in their old faith) or they all come from the same period. The heart of Asgard however is where the Middle Ages live on as that is where all the true Vikings of history who have died and been chosen from the great invasion battles or died exploring reside, right next door with the Aesir. Around this central complex revolve communities from time periods up until the present century.
Mine is found far in eastern plains, it is still a small gathering compared to others but there are already a few thousand from my time. The houses always fit the period of the community so mine is a mixture of houses and flats. But as I am a Valkyrie and sort of work for my living here in Asgard I have the luxury of designing and creating my own property. Well when I say create it’s more along the lines of think and it will be. Of course the only problem with this piece of magic is that if you have to think up a new house you must think it constantly. So I was advised like everyone else to think of a house you previously lived in as it is a lot easier to support using memories instead of conscious thought. So my home in my second life is the one I grew up in when I was alive.
After spending twenty minutes riding hard on the horse I use to travel, the wind in my face had calmed me down enough not to scream out loud once I got inside. I slung off my cloak and collapsed into the glorious softness of the sofa.
“Kate why didn’t you tell me.” I muttered tragically lifting myself up again and wandering into the kitchen seeking comfort food. My hand went straight to the cookie jar. As I munched and crumbs began to gather down my top I went over what I had learnt.
So Chloe and Nathan were the descendants of an ancient affair Frigg had and Erik their grandfather was a mortal descendant of their father. That I could understand easily enough, the Aesir after all are just mortals with access to life prolonging fruit. It was the fact that Kate had this big plan for me from the moment she chose to be my mentor. If the Norns did indeed weave my destiny then they were laughing at me now as they reminded me by situation that Kate was no longer around to turn to.
***

The Valkyran Sanctum was modelled on a large open air arena. It is there that we learn to fight against both mortal enemies and the spiritual enemies such as werewolves, vampires, ghouls, ghosts and more importantly dark elves. All these dark forces attribute some kind of problem to our work because some entity is usually after the same soul we have ordained as ours even if they are not part of the same faith. I walked without a word through the entrance, passing several training rooms which emitted the grunts and groans of duels and the flashes and sparks of runic magic.
“So what kept you up last night then?” A voice asked as a hand grabbed my shoulder making me spin round with a hiss. “Whoa! Calm down Jenny it’s only me.”
Joanne looked as shocked as I was at my reaction when I recognised her in the hallway.
“Tough night eh?”
“Something like that.”
“You didn’t run into Jake did you?” Worry shimmered in her eyes.
“Fat chance. He’s probably scuttling around the underworld keeping low after what happened.”
“He’ll have to come up eventually and when he does we’ll all be there waiting Jenny. None of us want him to get away with what he did to Kate.”
“Jennifer Wallace!” A sharp voice rang out down the corridor behind me making both of us wince. I turned round and was met with the hawk eye glare of Göll staring be down amongst the other nervous glances in my direction. “Freya is waiting.”
“What’s Freya want with you? Are you in trouble Jenny?”
“I wish it was that simple. See you later Jo.” I quickly turned and marched after Göll who was already stomping her way through a mass of curious trainees. I kept my gaze on the back of Göll’s armoured back with as many scratches as there were runes embossed into its surface. The corridors we went down seemed to go on forever but once we went up some stairs I knew where we were going. The Observation Stand, where Göll and the rest of the nine commanding Elder Valkyrie’s watched battle practise in the arena. It is also where Freya is based in a room with a view that looks north, to the Old Asgard quarter and the dominating tower like citadel where the rest of her godly family reside. As we go higher and the windows turned into open arches looking down into the arena centre the sounds of practise were replaced with the true sounds of battle. Metal biting into shields or flesh as hinted by the screams of anger and pain as some poor soul let her guard slip. I cast a quick glance through the arches to the arena and felt a growing sense of pride as a group of six battle maidens swooped down upon 3 suspended targets, their white cloaks trailing wide behind them like wings. It was over in a flash but I knew they had all struck correctly when the dummies limbs and soon head began dropping to the sandy floor. We finally reached a large marble door with a ‘V’ spread across it in amber droplets. Göll knocked three times causing the door and the floor to tremble. Her name didn’t mean tumult for nothing.
“Bring Jennifer in.” A smooth almost slightly drowsy voice responded behind the shimmering door.
Göll twisted the huge amber doorknob and swung the door wide revealing a large oval chamber. Sat directly before my vision was Freya, it was unmistakably her even though I hadn’t met all the nine Elder Valkyrie’s yet even then some of them were present. All were sat around this large slab of amber which rested upon legs of silver forming a dazzling table.
I stepped forward my gaze felt instantaneously locked with Freya’s. For these were no mortal eyes but eyes of a goddess, a Vanir goddess no less, only part of the Aesir household when Odin did a hostage swap to end their family feuds eons ago. To look into Freya’s eyes was like looking at a butterfly wing which was a mosaic of every colour imaginable. Her eyes defined the word hypnotic. Yet as quickly as I was hypnotised my eyes were shunned for within less than a second they transformed to a hazel brown iris making my senses confused. As if I walked into a bright light which was suddenly turned off. Other than her eyes her appearance was regular yet impressive. She has long brown hair plaited behind her ears with colourful beads mixed with amber threaded within. Her face was stern yet when she gave me that first smile it seemed to become the face of every friendly feeling, of joy, of happiness and of pleasure. She wore an armless chest plate with a large silver and gold studded ‘v’ line from her shoulders to her chest. Thin chainmail in mother of pearl colours covered her arms, another piece crafted by the dwarves of Niflhiem I was sure.
“Welcome back to the Valkryan Sanctum Jennifer.” She stood up as I walked to the end of the table. “This is Elder Mist; you may remember her from your rune training?” Indicating the thinner and more relaxed looking woman beside her.
I looked across with a bow towards Mist recalling how hippy like I once presumed her to be but like Freya her care-free persona hid well the strength and magical power beneath. Göll came along beside me and saluted her superior.
“Please sit down both of you. We have much to discuss before we take this matter further.” Elder Geirölul gestured to the six chairs around the table.
“I am sure Jennifer is well aware of that.” We all took our places upon Freya’s nod. “I trust Frigg explained the situation to you?”
“Yes.” I replied simply still feeling a bit overwhelmed with such a high status attention focusing on me.
“And you are prepared to do what is necessary to protect her bastards?”
I was shocked at that remark and Freya knew it giving a sharp laugh of delight upon the look on my face.
“I am correct in my speech Jennifer. All of Odin’s and Freya’s children are bastards. I meant it as no offence just making clear to you that the only precious thing about them is the Aesir strand that flows through their veins. Frigg care’s for them as much as she cares for the pigeons that feed on her doorstep. We only protect them to prevent the Aesir being the cause of their own downfall.”
What she said seemed brutal and to contradict the impression I got from Frigg herself when she spoke to Erik and about Chloe and Nathan. But I daren’t speak out against any of what Freya was saying after all Freya has obviously been doing this caretaker role for a lot longer than I can imagine.
“It is such a shame Katherine had to fall before she could induct you into this new training. At least this way however you will learn from the best.” Geirölul added making me wince at the thought that Katherine couldn’t train me properly compared to them.
“Yes, it is always a great pity when one of our own falls to the darkness but do not fear Jennifer, that dark elf Jake will pay for her demise eventually. The longer he stays in hiding the sweeter his death shall be as our blood lust grows. But you must leave the task of revenge to others know as this new challenge will require all of your strength, endurance and skill.” Mist continued giving my spirit some peace and hope in that prospect.
“Now, to begin your training you must first be equipped with the correct gear. Unfortunately as this is a rather impromptu beginning we have not had time to prepare your own set of armour but we have Katherine’s and I believe she would be more than happy if we allowed you to use her set for the time being.” Göll clapped her hands three times and from a small door the back of the room three girls about twelve wheeled in a battle dummy coated in the most dazzling armour I have ever seen.
It was similar to Freya’s own armour in that there were no plates of armour strapped around the arms just chainmail but this was clearly no ordinary chainmail. It shone and shimmer with the colour of a perfect unstained pearl yet subtle lights shifted as if runic energy itself flowed from link to link. The chest plate itself had silver runes of strength, endurance; power and defence engraved along each seam and edge of metal. It too had a ‘V’ shape feature but it came from the middle of the breast area and reach up towards the neck line like outstretched arms. I stood up to marvel closely at its fine form and detail. Freya joined me at its side, pride shining in her eyes.
“Will you accept this gift we offer you? I would understand if you did not choose to wear it because it belonged to Katherine but I am sure it will serve you just as well as it did her the few times she had to wear it.”
“It would be an honour.” I whispered in reply. “Who made this?”
“Dwarves. Who else has such skill. Yet this design requires such effort and resources that only a handful were ever made for us. We Elders each have one plus the few individual Valkyrie’s who have special tasks to perform, such as Katherine and now you do.”
Then I realised something.
“If I need to wear this particular armour and not my own rather mundane set then does this mean there are worse threats than the ones I’ve been trained against?”
Geirölul nodded when I glanced around their faces.
“The threats upon Chloe’s and Nathan’s lives are far worse than mere competition for ownership of their souls. Although that would be a bonus for the dark side as well. The enemy is after their blood and its special properties due to having an Aesir ancestor. If they were able to withdraw the energy in that strain then they would be arming themselves with weapons equal to our own. Due this opportunity and the delicateness of getting the blood the darkness does not send Vampires who would take the blood for themselves, Werewolves who would make far too much of a mess and probably let most of it end up on walls and the floor, they don’t even send Ghouls to petrify the children to submission as at their worst they make the blood freeze within victims viens. No. This matter requires their best and worst. Their Worthless Einherjar.”
Everyone in the room shivered slightly at the mention of the unworthy dead. The souls deemed as unworthy, undeserving and too corrupt to join our own Einherjar ranks under Odin’s banner. Those worthless souls are left to the darkness, to be claimed by Hel to keep her fed or recruited under the dominion of the Frost Giants. All to wait for the final day. Ragnarok. Where both forces shall meet in one final climactic battle which shall render the earth apart. The darkness’s strongest warriors were one thing none of us younger Valkyries have ever been trained for combat against.
“Now you see why we are providing you with our finest armour so you can survive against such deadly foes. But there is one more thing we can provide you with besides further extensive training. One thing which will aid you in battle as well as retreat.”
“What?” I asked immediately thinking of the most awesome weapons my mind could conjour up.
Freya grinned like a wolf about to pounce on a weak sheep. Then uttered one word quietly. “Hildrhrafn.”
She bowed her head low as a white glow formed at her shoulder blades and grew outwards making everyone turn away from the now blinding light.
“Wings. We shall give you wings.”
I sat back down in my chair speechless. As I stared at the most fantastical sight I had ever seen.
Freya, the Goddess of Love and Desire and the leader of all Valkyries stood proud, tall, regal and splendid posing her pair of white feathered wings that stretched at least a metre either way out of her back. This was the sight all Valkyries longed to become. Apparently I now was going to fulfil that dream.

Friday, 8 January 2010

JORVIK Viking Festival 2010 Programme Released!

 

Hoorah! Yippee! Yahoo! And any other exclamation I can think of to show my great joy and happiness at the fantastic events lined up for this years 25th Anniversary Jorvik Viking Festival! This truly is the highlight of my year because I can indulge for a whole week almost (if I were rich and didn’t spend all my pennies on fanciful medieval trinkets on the first day) my great passionate love affair with Norse culture, history and mythology.

JORVIK Viking Festival 2010 – follow this link to learn more about events and dates so you can join in this great week for yourself.

Aaah I have so many fantastic photographic memories from the past 4 festivals (viewable better in my Wordpress blog www.valkyrie1008.wordpress.com in the Jorvik Festival section with each photograph arranged by their year.) I can’t wait to see what surprises, treats and delights this years will bring. I only hope for a dry warm week after all this snow. And it was bitterly cold last year when I went. Thankfully I can wear a skirt and thick tights underneath my medieval gown (look up Children In Need for a sneak peak of me in my medieval costume).

The greatest advice for this event though is of course to book ahead at least 2 weeks in advance because these events sell tickets as quick as mischievous Loki can transform hehehehe.

New Year - New name - New Content:

Well for those who follow me you will now of course notice a dramatic change in my little but growing blog. Not only has the colour scheme changed, a new photographic border appeared at the top but the name and thus the web address has changed from

WILSON'S WORDS to VALKYRIAN SANCTUM

(A creative place of rest for wanna-be dreamer 'valkyrie's like me.)

The new name itself was taken in honour and inspiration of my very best danish pagan friend Ox who held a guild by the same name when we were part of the Horde side in World of Warcraft.

Plus I think it helps promote and define what I'm all about a bit more which is my love affair and fascination with Norse culture, history and mythology. About 50% (rough guess mind) of my content has some Nordic refence or is inspired by Viking influences, ideas and mythology. The name 'Valkyrian Sanctum' is also more suited due to the mini sucess of my favourite short story 'The Old Ways Never Die' which is strongly based in Norse mythology, set in modern day York (aka Jorvik to Viking fans such as myself) and features the intriguing and little known about character of a Valkyrie (albeit a modern one as she is not on of the original 13 names in my mythological fact books). Since having such encouraging notice and feedback from my little piece of Norse fantasy I have written 2 draft sequels 'Trouble at Midnight' and 'Sacred Secrets' and am still working on the second but will upload the extended version soon. And on a more personal note this new title suits me particularly well as on World of Warcraft when roleplaying with other characters I would often put on the appearance and persona of a Valkyrie (first as an undead nightmare of battle when Horde and now as a powerful and deadly woman human in Alliance). My first ever online character when part of Guild Wars had the name 'Mist Valkyrie' which shows what a strong fascination I have with these particular characters of Norse Mythology.

Besides 'Wilson's Words' seemed a bit lame, vague and academic english in my mind when I am after all a fantasy writer at heart and I don't feature much about the nature or meaning of words themselves (apart from one review on the dictionary of british place-names). Most of my content is either fiction, photographic, creative in other mediums OR fiction/fantasy usually with a strong influence of Norse in there.

So I hope you like the new look of this blog as much as I do and continue none the less to follow my creative adventures into anything Vikingy.

Oh remember - if you have saved 'Wilson's word' as a favourite anywhere please delete and replace as with the blog name change the web address has also changed. It is now www.valkyriansanctum.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

2010 begins as the year of SNOW!

This is a photo of what I did today and all thanks to this wonderful whitestuff as it stopped half of teachers and pupils getting into college even though I got in for 8am as usual (typical really) so we closed before nine and we're closed tomorrow too!
It really is remarkable how the UK has snow since the 18th of December. It's like the past ten years where we haven't had a white winter have suddenly come along at the start of this new decade all rolled into one.
And no I'm not very small we just happened to get carried away with one piece hehehe. Shame we couldn't find any twigs or rocks to use as eyes and we had no coal either. But my boyfriend lent Arnnie (as he's the snowman of Arncliffe Court flats) his scarf so he looked a little bit like a snowman.
Anyway I hope you all out there (mainly UK residents) didn't get too caught out in the snow I know my local main road was ridiculasly slow this morning where my bus took half an hour on what was typically a 2 minute trip (at least it was this morning suprisingly) to get me back home.
You can see some more of the fruits of this day off below this post in a revised and added to edition of my yorkshire Ghost story 'As Old As Houses'. I'm writing it for the Yorkshire Magazine and the Writing Magazine Ghost Story competitions. However the Yorkshire version is only 1000 words long but the WM version thankfully has a more forgiving word count so I've extended it a bit in places. So please do read this new version and let me know what you think. All thoughts are greatly appreciated as often I don't see my own mistakes and my grammar and punctuation could always do with more work.
But if you have lots of snow and ice around you then please do take care out there and I hope you enjoy my latest piece of writing. Evidence that I am keeping to New Year rule 1 *write for an hour at least every day*.

As Old As Houses – Revised and Added to Ghost Story – Draft 1A

As Old as Houses -Ghost Story – Yorkshire Magazine

"I wonder how old this place is."

"Who cares? It's going to be gone after the weekend."

"Really?"

"Yeah, there's a notice about it in reception."

"Oh. What a shame."

"Why? It's a dump." Jenny muttered pointing at the mould covered and water soaked mattresses which lay scattered like decaying corpses amongst the trees concealing most of the old farm house walls.

Staring at the tumbled pieces of brickwork, the roof with no tiles, not complete chimney stacks and the vandalism and graffiti all around, Sarah had to agree.

A wind blew down from the waving tree tops giving the girls intense shivers. Sarah paused to listen to it whisper through the broken walls and empty doors.

"Come on, this place is boring." Jenny complained.

Sarah cast one glance back at the house before racing after her friend who was already returning to the familiar lights of Storthes Hall student flats.

***

It was Friday night and feeling a bit home sick Sarah chose not to go out drinking and clubbing with her friends. Instead she planned on finding comfort with a good film and chocolate to cheer her up. Raiding through her collection she wasn't sure what to watch when something caught her eye. It was the shocked face of Eddie Murphy on the cover of The Haunted Mansion. Remembering how it made her laugh so much as a child she slipped it into the DVD player.

***

It was nearing Midnight when her childhood comedy classic came to its happy ending. After turning everything off Sarah climbed into bed, snuggled deep within the duvet and let her mind float away.

She was young. That is one thing Sarah knew as she took her part in the dream world. She was also at home in what was an unfamiliar landscape. It was a small enclosure in the middle of a vast expanse of trees and an oddly built house in the middle with gardens around it. There was a small field set off by a crude wooden fence with two horses frolicking in the sunshine. She was going to run towards them to watch closer when a large hand took hold of her own.

"Not today little one, I believe Mother needs some help with the cooking." A gentle male voice spoke from somewhere above yet somehow all Sarah could make out were large legs walking in front of her.

She was led towards the oblong stone house in front of her with grass turf for a roof and a single plume of smoke escaping out in the middle. The wooden plank door swung open and a woman wearing her hair behind a cloth bandana, a large white apron tied round her middle, a plain blue gown and holding a dead pheasant in one hand, greeted them.

"Ah Fala! Take that basket by the door and go fetch some eggs from the hens."

The big hand of the man passed Sarah the basket as she slowly made her way back to the door somehow instinctively knowing where to go for the eggs. Just before she went out she heard the man and woman speak.

"And you better chop some more wood if we're going to keep this fire burning long into the night. I know what you and your friends are like when you start telling tales."

"Who wouldn't want to hear about my adventures? Besides it's the first time we've all met since bringing you women across. Just tell me, do you like our new home?"

The woman paused. "It'll do for now but still a lot to be done before it's worthy of all those scars on your body."

"It's going to be worth it because I want this to be my family's home for many years to come. I won't let anyone take this place from us."

The conversation faded away to murmurings as Sarah stepped out of the door and in that one movement the dream world itself began to twist, swirl and fade to be replaced with the silent blackness of a dreamless sleep.

***

Spending too much in the Saturday Sales is how Jenny and Sarah spent the first part of that weekend, buying more clothes to fill up their wardrobes and feasting out at Pizza Hut. Laden with bags they made their way back to Storthes Hall flats on the Storthes Bus passing through some of the local woodland that enveloped the hillside the campus was built on. Amongst the trees Sarah glimpsed large yellow vehicles and a team of men making their way down the old track towards the derelict farm house. Bringing back a mixture of regret and sadness for not having the opportunity to get to know that old building better.

A thunderstorm passed over that night, pelting her window with rain, the high winds moaning through her window pane and thunder loud enough to shake the sky into pieces. Sarah lay in bed and closed her eyes tight trying to let her dreams take her away from the nightmare outside.
Sarah saw pure darkness yet within it something was moving. Silver edged waves lapped her feet sending shivers crawling up her bones. She could make out a faint white glow in the centre of her vision, weak but enough for a silhouette to evolve. Of a ship with a large square sail and a snarling prow beast head racing over the crests of black waves. Its sinister shape and swift movement made her want to run and hide but she could not move.
There was a flash of lightning. It illuminated an axe blade coming down upon her from above. Just before it could slice straight through her paralyzed body a male voice whispered into her ear.
"I am here."
Sarah sat bolt upright in bed, freed from the nightmare at last. The image of a raven flag still lingered in the shadows of her mind.

***

It was Sunday and Sarah was surprised to find she wasn't the only one going to see the sad downfall of the old farm house. She stood amongst the student gathering kept behind the safety barriers now that the bulldozer was in position. It was just as the bulldozer driver was about to get in, alongside a big cheer and chatter from the small crowd, that someone pushed past her. The culprit ignored the barrier and ran towards the house, straight past the demolition team unnoticed. Only when Sarah glared after the rude person did she recognise who it was.

"Hey! Jenny? Jenny!" She yelled trying to stop her friend, Jenny turned around just as she reached the old farms coal shed which was now visible because the demolition team had cleared all the vegetation. When their eyes met Sarah became cold inside, silenced by that strange feeling, she watched Jenny disappear into the farmhouse. "Jenny! Jenny! What are you doing?" Sarah couldn't understand this, Jenny was meant to be in bed still being nine in the morning. Sarah kept glancing around hoping someone had seen Jenny as well but people were starting to look at her with puzzlement. The demolition team were ignoring her shouting completely as the bulldozer driver turned on the engine. The rest of her cries were drowned out in a huge cruel cheer from the student crowd.

Sarah caught the attention of the nearest man in a yellow jacket. Her frightened eyes and nervous voice persuaded him that she was telling the truth. He halted the bulldozer and went to the house with Sarah, much to the disappointment of the crowd who began booing and jeering.

"She's in here I swear. She went right past you all. Jenny? Jenny can you hear me?" Sarah called into the dusty derelict building as her and the demolition foreman stood at the doorway. "Jenny? Please come out, you're going to get into trouble."

"I am here." Jenny answered her voice echoing in the darkness.

Sarah took her first steps inside, immediately feeling the coldness of the shadows.

"Are you sure she's in here?" The foreman grunted, not satisfied.

"Yes, yes she is. Where are you Jenny?"

"I am here."

"She's through there." Sarah began to go towards the dusty and cobwebbed doorway to the cellar. "Are you in there Jenny?"

Again came the reply. "I am here."

It sounded strongest and closest in the one room they had yet to enter. "She's in the other room."

"Come off it, there's no one here. You're just stopping us do our job." The foreman made a move to turn around and head back to the front door.

"No, she is in there. Didn't you hear her?" Sarah pushed past the foreman towards the room. It was dark inside with bricked up windows but Sarah could see a darker form that wasn't her shadow from the foreman's distant torch light. She walked towards it thinking of Jenny. On her third step the dirt and rubble covered floor groaned, something snapped causing a shudder and the floorboards collapsed inwards. Sarah lost her balance with a wail and went down to the unknown.

The foreman came closer at the sound and shone his torch into the collapsed floor and stepped back in shock. In the dust flickering light was Sarah, on all fours amongst broken timbers and dirt but right next to her was a skull, its fixed expression so serious it was almost glaring at them both. Beside its other bones was what looked like a well rusted axe head only giving the faintest shine and a large lump of wood that was not from the broken floor. The beast's forked tongue, jagged teeth, and painted ruby red eyes still looked menacing despite its withered state. Its age and sorry condition did not stop Sarah trembling when she looked at it.

The foreman swore before he clicked open the channel on his radio. "Dan get the Police on the phone, the damned house is on top of a grave. Until then this house stays up."

Sarah heard words echo out of the skull by her side, it wasn't Jenny's voice anymore. "I am here!"


The End


Monday, 4 January 2010

New Year, New Inspiration and New Determination

For some silly reason I have bought 3 calendars to mark the passing of the next 365 days of 2010 although 2 of them are quite useful in other ways. One of them introduces me to a forgotten old english word, its meaning and old folklore (always handy learning something new about this mungrel language’s past I reckon) and the other is a magnetic poetry calendar – comes with over 50 magnetic words to make a new poem each day, an inspirational quote and a creative exercise for each month.
My challenges for this year are to actually stick to my Aspiring Authors Journal, do at least one hour of reading AND writing a day, enter or at least aim for as many competitions as possibe and generally try not to get too stressed. Oh and begin to learn to drive again.
So let this little poem created on my new calendar of monthly inspiration and encouragement mark a new year full of dreams and creativity.

‘This loving feeling is apple green,
like the magic of morning grass
as sunshine season grows flowers.
Through the cold night we laugh
together here in our delightful world of
happy, warm sweet dreams.’

May this new year bring you dear reader everything you deserve.

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