Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Visiting the places of my Valkyrian Ventures

Whilst looking back (with a big silly grin) over all the photographs I took on Saturday at the Jorvik Viking Festival I rediscovered ones that have a literary connection to me. In the way that both these places have (and soon will) featured in my Valkyrian Ventures series.

This is the Starbucks Coffee shop in York that you first meet my main character in Valkyrian Ventures Part 1 - The Old Ways Never Die. I would have taken a picture inside but I was afraid of getting a few glares from ungrateful customers. You can just make out the door which Jenny herself gazes out of from the inside watching everyone pass by.

These two are of a place that is going to feature in Valkyrian Ventures Part 4 (title still to be decided) but I do know what is going to happen in this particularly dark and spooky looking spot. And no before you ask the girl in the picture isn't involved. She just happens to be my best mate Milli who was wandering around its stone coffins as I stood there thinking 'this is the place for my story'. Discovered this shadowy alcove passageway at the entrance to St Mary's Abbey ruins after the main bridge into York (yes I know there's two but there's one all the tourists walk on as it's near the wall). I needed a shady place where a secret meeting could be held and this fitted the spot perfectly. Only found it because Milli needed somewhere to change her top and the loos were locked hehehehe. So I quickly snapped it for future reference.
I think it's nice to be actually able to visit places you feature in stories as it helps the author as well as the reader get a better feeling for the story and the characters. It seems ironic as I'm following the lead of one my favourite authors Chris D'Lacey (whose blog written by one of his dragon characters Gadzooks can be found in my crafty and creative bloggers list further down on the right) recently put up a post with pictures he took of places which feature in his stories.
I guess when it comes down to it we as writers must visit such places even if we're just going to borrow certain features of the buildings, landscape or atmosphere as an article in Novembers Writing Magazine rightly pointed out that Fiction in it's purest sense is just a mirror of reality - parallel to it but different in every possible way.
Plus if we ever become rich and famous like a certain Dan Browns then readers and fans will flock all over the place on a pilgrimage to any places that are even slightly like those used in the book.
So my one decent tip to any writers is to always keep your camera with you, even if it's a disposable one, as you never know on your journeys - even when you're not intending to look for that special place to fit inside your imaginary world - when you might discover the missing visual piece of your literary puzzle. It worked for me.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Jorvik Viking Festival 2010 Finale Day! And some very good advice:

Well I can proudly say Saturday 20th February will go down as one of the few best days of my life.
Not only was I in my favourite local city with my best mate but we were surrounded by nice men in battle gear, the sounds of clashing sheild and sound and the great war crie of 'Vikingr!' ringing in our ears all day. Plus I met Michael, a guy from the team behind www.dismorphia.com who I feel is going to be a real push and encouragement in my young unprofessional writing life.
The day began with me and my best mate Milli going to the Museum Gardens to watch the warriors from a range of re-enactment groups practise battle strategies with spear, shield, sword and axe. There was one guy who was basically a dwarf but supersized with a big burly belly and a deep booming voice who would often yell aloud 'I am very annoyed!' when his side lost. We also watched the Jorvik Vikings re-enactment group show off some killer viking battle tactics. Video of their display can be seen at my youtube site www.youtube.com/user/ValkyrianSanctum.
It was there I met Michael for the first time in person and he actually recognised me before I did him. I've spoken to him many times before in correspondance in regards to feature pieces of my Valkyrian Ventures (mainly the original - part one) in the Dismorphia Viking Chronicle e-newsletter which comes out once per month). But amazingly I didn't realise it was him when he asked 'who are you looking for?' as his voice was completely different to how it sounded on the phone! But he was super nice and was busy himself running around covering events, taking photos and talking to participants. We eventually all met for lunch after following the March to Battle from Museum Gardens to Coppergate Square. He proved his worth by offering and kindly paying for mine and milli's lunch at humble BHS store. Where we talked for what seemed and probably was hours about anything else but what he actually wanted to discuss business wise. Which was about just having a piece on me as a writer, why I write about Valkyries, why I set them in modern day york etc as I was finding it difficult to select let alone cut down extracts from a 4000 word short story to be suitable for his newsletter. Which is FANTASTIC! A little bit more publicity on my part as I'm slowly taking over the web (twitter, deviantart, youtube, flickr, wordpress and blogger). I mentioned to him all I ever hope of doing is being noticed for my talent and hopefully end up with a publisher or an agent. Michael then mentioned that they do actually send their newsletter to an American Literacy Agency! My day was just getting better and better thanks to this guy! Yes I Know it's highly unlikely that they're looking for my type of material but who knows what can happen with the right contacts.
Michael then had a lengthly discussion with me about my writing, about how to fashion it to be more suitable for internet readers, newsletters etc and more importantly for me how to catch anyone's attention. By being brief, snappy, simple and catchy. He says I must come up with my own 'tag line'. So think newspaper heading but that summarises my writing for example 'norse mythology in modern york'. It's quick and easy to understand (hopefully) and to get the internet browser (ie YOU) to think 'hummm norse mythology? modern york? how can the two possibly work? etc etc etc. So they are interested or at least curious enough to read the first paragraph which is where you must start setting 'hooks' or teasers or mini cliff hangers. You must get them to read the first paragraph but leave them with something in order to make them want to spend the time and effort of reading the second, then the third. This technique is of course best used for brief newsletter material as of course the internet browser could be clicking somewhere else, reading somewhere else, doing something else - the trick is to make them want to spend time on your piece! But Michael did say this technique is also good to be used in the first page of any good novel as a lot of publishers and even agents (from his own experience of working with them) won't read the synopsis or the letter you wrote, just the first page of your manuscript or first chapter. If you get them 'hooked' within the first page (not by the bottom) then they want to turn to read the next page and so on and so on. So there you have it some very helpful advice so all writers I believe.
Anyway on another exciting note Michael also said he is quite happy to let me have my own banner or logo image as part of his 'friends' listings on the Dismorphia website so when people click on that logo they get taken to my blog (yay someone might actually read what I natter on about!) and they will give me their logo to feature here so they get links back too. Another fantastically generous deal courtesy of Michael.
Back to Viking Festival stuff - after we had our lunch and finally left BHS about 4! We made our way to the Traders Marquee and saw lots of wonderful medieval gear from shoes to swords, cloaks to metal fittings and fixtures, furs to wooden tableware. Sadly I only bought one thing from that place and it's a card with a rather modern interpretation of Odin on the front with this wolves and ravens. He looks like an elderly heavy metal rocker with a longer black jacket and curvy tatoos on his chest and hands. But it was something different and unusual so I bought it.
Next with evening fast approaching we hitched a taxi to the York Race Course to witness the finale battle, boat burning and fireworks. All three were splendid although it's at the time of night where my camera is only useful as a videocamera as photographs come out too blurry to be worth the effort. So I have lots of footage waiting to be uploaded but only had enough time to upload footage filmed from earlier in the day so please be patient as all will be made available soon.
On the whole me and milli thoroughly enjoyed our day in Jorvik with a host of vikings and I've never been more proud to wear my own designed viking cloak.
My favourite photographs from the days events can be seen at my Flickr site www.flickr.com/photos/valkyrie1008.
Until next year 'May Vikings Rule Forever in Jorvik! Long Live Eric Bloodaxe!'

Friday, 19 February 2010

BBC News - Author Stephen Kelman on his overnight success

BBC News - Author Stephen Kelman on his overnight success

Goes to show that there is such a thing as beginners luck for all us writers who scribble away in the dark corners of our houses and in the brightest places of minds.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Birds - small, big and of the female fantasy kind:

Not much to report in my rather dull build up to my big day out as a Viking-wanna-be this Saturday for the climax of the Jorvik Viking Festival.

Been busy helping Mum with housework, taking my Aunt who has MS out for the day, spending too much money yet again AND finishing making a battle raven runic top for my best mate for Saturday, the only highlight of the week in general has been to do with birds. Oddly enough.

First it was garden birds of the Tit variety that I was able to photograph feeding on the tree opposite our kitchen window.

The first two are clearly the beautiful and chirpy Blue Tit and I believe this fluffy and cute little fellow is a Coal Tit but please do correct me if I'm wrong. I haven't seen this type of Tit before usually the BlackTit, BlueTit and Sparrow are most common in our humble garden. Having said that I did see a whole family of most unusual smaller garden birds hubble around the birdfood late that afternoon but it was getting dim and my camera couldn't make them out but they had long black tails with white trim, white and black stripes on their head and on their wings. I think they might have been Long Tailed Tits but until I get back to flat to check in my birdies books I won't know for sure.

The second birdy thing has been a rather proud and exciting moment I rediscovered whilst going through my horde of a bird photographs. It's an 8 second mad video but during it you hear the eerie cry of a Buzzard flying high, wild and free during my family holiday in Dorset last year and just at the end you catch a glimpse of its shape in the blue sky as I struggled to find it with my camera. It was that high!

During my discovery of this piece I came across my friendly garden Robin who still perches high up in our trees and sings his cheerful song. Again I apologise for the dodgy camera work. It's amazing how hard it is to stay still.

The third birdy item is to do with birds and their power of flight and how a human would fly if she had wings. I am of course referring to my main character Jenny for in my Valkyrian
Ventures Part 4 she earns her wings and I am having to actually ask myself how would she use her wings? Does she use them as an extra pair of arms or do they have to move in motion with her true arms? I mean a bird's wings are in effect it's arms. You often see in cartoons featuring birds that they hug each other using their wings as arms. It's a tricky one to decide or even perhaps describe. I am quite tempted to have both interpretations possible for Jenny as I do like the idea of her simply crossing her arms in front of her and her wings doing the same to form a special shield against arrows etc around her body. I guess the best source for ideas is to look at the way Doctor Oc in Spiderman 2 uses his 4 mechanical arms. They work as extra arms independant of his other limbs when he's climbing up walls and over buildings but he also uses them in conjuction and action with his true arms.

If anyone has any tips or advice on how to approach this matter I would appreciate the suggestions.

Anyway this is my signing off until Sunday when I was be bouncing back with a mammoth long post on all my adventures, encounters, experiences, photographs and hopefully some decent video footage of the boat burning!

May Frigg guide you and Freya guard over you all!

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Away with the Vikings!

My favourite week of the year has arrived! The Jorvik Viking Festival has come! Vikings from across the world come once again to great Jorvik as in older days to sell their wares, tell great tales and of course create great battles! I have my glorious tickets accepting me and my best mate to see the spectacular finale battle, firework display and boat burning to mark the 25th Jorvik Viking Festival.
This historic week has spurred my creativity once more to the point where I've claimed my boyfriends old shirt and emblazened upon its back the image reportedly used upon many Viking warlords flags and banners -a great black raven of war! I've embroidered red gore trails upon its wings and runes of power, strength and protection upon its body with rune words proclaiming I am a 'Jorvik Battle Raven'. I have been proudly wearing it around work much to the puzzlement of students and staff alike.
You can see a video tour of my latest viking inspired creation plus tours of my Viking Cloak made for the festival in 2008 and my viking satchel made for last years festival on my YouTube channel www.youtube.com/user/ValkyrianSanctum . They are uploading as I speak but may need some time to be fully processed and put up. I hope you find them interesting and inspiring besides my nervous nattering.
Of course as anyone reading this blog can tell I am a big fan of anything 'vikingy' as I call it - that covers culture, history and mythology. So I am indeed off to celebrate our rich viking heritage here in the heart and capital of the former Danelaw at Jorvik (aka York) so I am returning to my family home on Monday for the week (rock on with it being half term yipee no work and lots of viking fun). I would go to the festival every day of the week as there are over 100 events happening throughout but sadly I'm nearly broke money wise so every little penny I have left I am saving for the big finale day to mark the climax of the festival on Saturday 20th February.
I will have my camera with me throughout the entire day at events, medieval markets, craft fairs etc so I can garauntee that there will be lots of photos and video footage to add to my Flickr and YouTube sites when I get back in a weeks time.
Whilst I'm away I will hopefully finally get round to make a start on writing Valkyrie Venture Part 4 as I still have my story art work burning in my mind calling out to be told. I'm also hoping to photograph some nice wildlife if I spot any whilst at home in the lovely North Yorkshire countryside. So lots to share, show and tell when I come back.
I will try and blog updates on my adventures at home with my camera, pen and the big day at the Viking Festival but if I don't you'll just have to wait patiently and possibly excitedly until I get back.
Until I blog again I would just like to say one thing,

Friday, 5 February 2010

Writing, recording, driving and creating = one word BUSY

Success at last!

After much procrastinating in the form of being a couch potatoe in front our new big telly I finally got some creative stuff done. No wonder I haven't written a post in nearly more than a week!

1) Finally managed to cunningly record myself narrating extracts from my Valkyrian Venture series and to upload them to YouTube (please see right side of the screen to see the latest on my channel via link or Channel display box further down). Apologies for my slight murmerings and mistakes at the end when I'm not reading from a script.

2) Finally finished editing and re-writing my shorter and alternative version to The Old Ways Never Die with its alternative title I Am No Angel. Posted it off to the Huddersfield Literature Festival today. If you're planning on entring you've got till Tuesday at the latest to post it off as the deadline is Wednesday 10th. Visit http://www.litfest.org.uk/ for more details on events and the competition.

3) Started preparing my Battle Raven Shirt and Battle Raven handbag design for myself and a friend to proudly wear at the Jorvik Viking Festival 2010 that begins in a weeks time! Wahooo! Please do visit http://www.jorvik-viking-centre.com/ for more details on all the festival week has to offer. Come along and celebrate our rich heritage together. Vidoes and photos from the events will be uploaded as soon as I get back from it over half term.

4) Discovered Blogger actually has a Pages option in settings! They didn't half keep that quiet! It was one of the reasons why I preferred Wordpress to here as before I had to have everything squashed into one long page but now I can proudly show off various features of my creativity and creative life. Do have a browse around, page tabs are at the top of the blog.

5)Now this is the biggest news in my life at the moment in that I have finally started learning how to drive again! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! It's soooo scary and soooo exciting all at once! I had started to learn to drive before Uni three years ago but life got too hectic so I quit until my life was more stable but now I'm earning and have weekends free from study I've gotten lessons from a driving instructor from the flats next door. Very handy I know. My adrenalin was pumping endlessly during my first lesson last weekend. Only stalled the engine once but I'm finding it soo hard to keep a nice smooth balance between the clutch, the gear stick and the accelorator plus trying not to run into anyone or anything. As I told the guy called Ian, it really is like juggling with your hands and your feet and your eyes in that one small slip and everything staggers to a halt. Ah well - fingers crossed I'm not shaking too much in my second lesson tomorrow.

Well as a special treat to any readers who keep up to date on my crazy and creative life - here is my final edition of the alternative version to The Old Ways Never Die. I've already sent in for the competition so if you reckon it's rubbish - tough luck. I'm happy with it, after seven drafts I had to be seeming the deadline was next week. But regardless of that fact I hope you enjoy this different view into the Valkyries way of life and earning a living in this modern secular world.

I Am No Angel

“Isn’t it a beautiful day?” Kate asked finally joining me at Starbucks for our lunch break.
“It’s pleasant. Have you started filling your quota yet?”
“Yes, half way through already, how about you?”
I nodded, draining the last of my coffee and took out my list of fifty names. “I have a few to visit at the hospital and an old people’s home.”
“Ugh old people. We weren’t created to watch their inglorious death. We need warriors. Men of honour, courage and strength. Men who died by the sword. Not killed by disease, old age and accidents.”
“If we didn’t make exceptions you know our numbers would dwindle into non-existence. There are too many faiths and so few believers.”
“Oh I do miss the old days and our old ways.” She sighed. “Well I have a child to visit in the hospital so why don’t we go together?”
“Fine by me.” We left our seats in the shade and made our way through the throbbing streets of York.
Once at the hospital car park, we casually walked to a quiet corner, away from curious eyes, where we prepared and equipped ourselves for the job.
“Mine is on the second floor where is yours?” Kate asked, checking her own quota.
“Fourth floor. Wait for me here when you are done.”
With a final nod to each other we strode purposefully back round the corner across the car park and into the building. No one gave us a glance and no one got in our way.
I found the man I sought in a room at the end of the ward. He lay still in his bed, his drips and monitor leads hung loose on the floor. The woman who sat beside him was milk white with red eyes from tears.
“Mr Garret?” I said softly, sitting at the end of his bed, watching his eyes flutter open.
“Huh? Yes?” He became wary once he noticed me. “Who are you? What do you want?”
“There’s no easy way of saying this Mr Garret, but you have just died.” It was inevitable that he wouldn’t believe me. After all, a woman in a white feathered cloak against a skirt and blouse and holding a tall spear, promote the signs of a deluded mind.
“Preposterous! I’m sat here talking to you aren’t I? Tell her Laura, you can see I’m quite alive can’t you?” He turned to the pale faced woman sat beside him. She didn’t blink. She didn’t say a word.
“I’m afraid you are, Mr Garret. But if you are alive, give your daughter a hug. Prove me wrong.”
He shot me an angry glare and got out of his bed, unaware yet that his pain had vanished and leaned in towards his daughter. He passed straight through her, landing on all fours on the floor. Panic in his eyes, his breath quickening with fear, disbelief freezing his heart. I stepped towards him and offered him my hand.
“It’s ok, you can touch me. You can even hit me if it makes you feel any better.”
“But how? Why? I...I...was sleeping...only sleeping...I felt so tired...I...”
“I know it’s hard to accept. I went through the same thing. Now can I talk to you about what happens next?”
“Next?” The puzzlement and possible curiosity seemed to calm him down a bit as I walked him slowly towards the window.
“Yes, the small matter of life after death.”
“Oh, I never really believed in that kind of thing.”
“Yes, I know that David. Now, as you are not a follower of any faith for that matter, my Boss has decided to lay claim on your soul.”
“Your boss?”
“Yes, the deity I work for.”
“Are you an Angel?”
I laughed. “My job is similar to that of Angels but I am not one of them. My Boss is of an older faith. He has many names but you may refer to him as Odin. His followers once ruled this place when it was known as Jorvik, but you know of them as Vikings. Before you begin your afterlife there is a test you must do first.”
“Am I being judged?”
“In a way, it tests the person you have become, not the way you lived.” I gave a comforting smile, opening up a window that looked out across a still and silent city. I pointed my spear downwards and engraved runes onto the floor with its silver tip. A rainbow bridge appeared linking our window to the ground below.
“What do I have to do?” he asked, staring suspiciously at my runes and the rainbow.
“You must simply walk along this bridge. If you are worthy you will reach the other end and live happily in Asgard, if not, well....”
He knew what my silence meant. “Will it hold me?” he asked, shaking as I urged him forward.
“It’s perfectly safe. Trust me, that’s it... steady ...see its fine.” Watching him stand for the first time on his own upon the colours. “Now face forward and walk, reach the end and all will be well. I hope to see you at the other side.”
He was doing well at first, five steps in and it seemed he might make it, but then the true test of his soul began. Visions of those he had wronged in life appeared before him asking for answers, explanations and apologies. All asking for one thing before he departed. David was too set on self preservation to care about appeasing these spirits. He waved them away, pushed past their pleading faces and ignored their words. When he finally got through them the bridge opened up and he fell into the abyss, screaming.
I scratched out my runes with my spear and concealed my spiritual cloak and spear with more magic. I brought out my quota, noting at least twenty souls still to visit.
I sighed. “A Valkyrie’s work is never done.”

The End

Related Posts - LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails