Thursday, 31 March 2011

EXCLUSIVE NEWS: Soul Chaser gets her DIGITAL WINGS! + Interview with Author Giles Kristian

I am super proud and excited and very happy to announce that through the wonder of twitter, likeminded writers and a guy with a dream Soul Chaser has finally achieved a first minor (yet quite major as well) milestone into the world of books and readers.
Not through the conventional dealings with agents and major publising houses but using the modern invention of E-readers and eBooks, a very generous man called Alexander Hollins has initated a collaboratvie project with many other talented writers, who display their work for all to read on their blogs and websites, to create a masterpiece of free fiction - a first I believe - eBook Anthology of Web Fiction.

April 11, 2011 marks the release of the first volume of Dreamers of Dreams: A Webfiction Anthology. This Ebook release, released simultaneously on several popular Ebook and webfiction stores, is a free book containing excerpts and opening chapters of several web fiction novels currently available for free online. The offerings of the Anthology include both completed works, and novels currently being serialized. A wide variety of genres is represented, from superhero to zombie apocalypse, urban fantasy to science fiction, folk tale to murder mystery, space opera to high fantasy. The purpose of this first installment of what promises to be a regularly released anthology series is to introduce the Ebook reader to free fiction available online that they may not be aware of, and highlight promising new writers who are taking the risks of self publishing online.

Volume one of Dreamers of Dreams will include the following authors and stories:

Ted Campbell - Flyover City!

Eva Shandor - Cold Ghost

Cassandra Stryffe - Zombie Diapers

Bex Aaron - Independence Day

J.J. Adams - The Undeadslayer

Alexander Hollins - Phoenix 2125

Rebecca Wilson - Soul Chaser

Christopher Wright - Pay Me, Bug!

Kyt Dotson - Black Hat Magick

G.L. Drummond - Midnight Intentions

Miladysa - Refuge of Delayed Souls

Meilin Miranda - Scryer's Gulch

M.E. Traylor - Guts and Sass

The anthology is created and distributed by DreamFantastic Publishing, and more information on the anthology, as well as links to the individual authors represented within, can be found at . A .99 cent version of the anthology, the Author’s Support Edition, will be sold starting the end of April, and will contain additional bonus content from many of the represented authors. Any questions or concerns, as well as requests to be included in future anthology’s, should be directed to


I'm also SUPER EXCITED and deeply honoured to announce that on
I will release on my humble viking obsessed blog an 
His third book in his fantastic Raven Trilogy
Odin's Wolves is released 14th April
Raven: Odin's Wolves (Raven #3)

I'll be hosting a blog interviewing him on all things viking, what inspired him to write his trilogy, how much research he did, book recommendations, his writing style - all the good stuff basically.

So that's 3 VERY IMPORTANT DATES for you to remember

Monday 11th April - Dreams of Dreams eBook Anthology Release day - featuring me and Soul Chaser
Thursday 14th April - Odin's Wolves by Giles Kristian release day
Tuesday 19th April - Special Interview with Giles Kristian on all things viking!

If you're a fan of anything viking whether its historical or of norse mythology YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS my feature in Dreamers of Dreams Anthology (which is free) or my special interview with the latest  Viking author to join the talents of Bernard Cornwell and Robert Low!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

The Saga of the Volsungs - a warning against untrustworthy in-laws or the ill-fated games of Odin and Fate?

The Saga of the VolsungsThe Saga of the Volsungs by Anonymous

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The most memorable part of this lengthly saga is Sigurd/Sigfried defeating the dragon Fafnir, gaining a cursed treasure and his doomed love affairs with two queens, the most notable one being Brynhild, a former Valkyrie cast down to earth by Odin.

The introduction itself is very interesting and is a nice way of easing yourself into the many complexities, in particular the family tree and lineage, which dominates this saga as it of course follows one family vein, the Volsungs, and their many disastorous marriages to other royal and powerful households who either through fate or ill intentions end up casting more doom upon the next generation and so begins a vicious cycle of revenge between one family and their in-laws.
What did suprise and shock me was a lot of the brutal acts that were performed in both families against the other. There were of course murderous plots, posioned deaths, sibling murders, murders of children, burning of halls and of course a lot of cursed runes and magic potions being passed around. Made me think a lot of the greek tragedy Medea and the way her ruined marriage brought her to kill her two sons although in comparison to the Volsungs she did revenge mildly.
Another thing I found interesting was that Gudrun (the second love of Sigurd albeit by magic) dreamt omens of her grevious fate, told Brynhild this (when they were friends before having lots of wordy cat fights over their choice in husbands) and Brynhild actually saw everything that was going to happen including how her then friend would enchant her first love and informal husband Sigurd!
Yet with any great norse saga Fate and Odin has a lot to say in what happens to these noble characters. Odin plays a great part in the ancestoral history of Sigurd and is the actual cause of his own father's death but after that he takes a back seat and lets the Norns of Fate weave the great woes to descend upon these mortals only making a final appearance to help in the defeat in the last of Gudrun's sons with her third ruined marriage.

View all my reviews

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Valkyrie Creations - Norse Mythology and Textile Art

Here you can see photographs of my many creative works to display and promote my love and interest in viking culture and norse mythology.
The front of my personal Viking Cloak with gold ribbon trim and gold runes down the front hem. With odin's two ravens Hugnin and Munin at either side on my flanks.

The Yggdrasil Emblem - my own design - featuring on the back of my cloak. With Muspelhiem in the north, Yggdrasil in the middle and Nilfhiem in the south.

Muspellhiem detail - the land of fire and light. It's name written in golden runes and two spiritual runes Ken meaning fire and Sigel meaning sun paired around a flame. Bordered in golden sequins each one hand sewn.

Ygddrasil detail - The World Tree borderd in bronze sequins, it's name written in pearl gold with the spiritual runes Eolh and Yr who are allied closely with this holy tree. My own maiden initials are written between its three roots in pearl white runes.

Niflhiem - land of ice and darkness. Bordered in silver sequins, its name in silver runes with the spiritual runes Hagal meaning Hail and Is meaning Ice partnered with a snowflake.

My personal Runic wristicuff. Made with a warrior upon horseback button in the centre as it closely resembles Odin riding his eight legged horse and wielding his great spear. Around it are four moonstone gems. And amongst the stars on either side are my four maiden runic initials.

Jorvik Runic Banner - all hand sewn. It says 'May Vikings Rule Forever in Jorvik' otherwise known as York.
The golden spinning wheel and sun in the clouds is for Frigg who weaves the clouds. She also carries a golden key as a sign of good housekeeping. The roundshield with a raven and two spears are for Odin. The rainbow over a doorway is to represent Bitfrost the rainbow bridge connecting the realm of Midgard (earth) to Asgard, land of the Aesir Gods.

My personal Yggdrasil satchel. With Yggdrasil the world tree representing in the universe. A piece of sacred amber at its centre and two cats and two hares either side upon its roots to symbolise Freya as these were her favourite animals. Round shield like buttons fasten the satchel front flap down. Spiritual runes border the sides of the design.

The image of a Viking Longship prow beast head stands guard at the sides of my satchel.

My pastel representaion of a Valkyrie warrior guarding the golden gates to Asgard upon Bitfrost the rainbow bridge.

My one time only excluse book written, printed, bound and made by myself. Titled 'The Norse Collection' in golden runes on the front cover with my initials beneath. Contains my favourite norse inspired short stories and poems.

Soul Chaser Story Art - a representation of the costume, items and procedure which my main character will go through in Chapter 5 to earn her Valkyrie wings.

My own interpretation of a Viking Raven flag symbol which I discovered via Wiki. Soon to be designed into the back of a shirt and upon a friends bag in preperation for the Jorvik Viking Festival 2010.

  My Soul Chaser inspired t-shirt, design by me and handmade by me.
Her wings are made using my own words from the opening of Soul Chaser thanks to the wonder of Image Maker. The rest is all fabric and hand embroidery.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

The Alternative Self - How playing World of Warcraft actually helps build characters...or schizophrenia?

Now some of you (fellow blog reader) may not know but I am a World of Warcraft gamer and have been an online player for about 6 years now. I first originally started my online experience with Guild Wars mainly because it was free but when my the good friends I made there migrated to WoW I followed suit. Both games are remarkably different and GWs was behind in many aspects but with GWs2 coming out in the future it is meant to be more WoW like than ever etc.
In Wow I found a wide range of many more options including not just what class (e.g mage, hunter, druid etc) but also the race and what overall side of the world lore you're on (e.g. Horde or Alliance).
I orignally started off with Horde for about 3 years and I had an Undead Female Warrior called  Blackstorm and she was cool. I always imagined her when RolePlaying with my friends or other players as the dark side of a Valkyrie as they are not always beautiful shield maidens but wailing, witchlike night flyers. Below is my oldest and final screenshot of her upon her undead horse steed. Reveling in a night of killing under a full moon lit night.
That was what made me realise that as a regular WoW player I could actually improve my writing by using my online alter egos to devise better characters, create different traits, attitudes, speaking styles and histories. With Blackstorm being the Undead I imagined her being human and called Hildr once upon a time but when the Scourge released their foul plague she had to watch her whole family succomb to it and be murdered in a house burning incident by their fellow villagers out of fear and panic at the outbreak. Hildr did catch the plague but thanks to her noble father managed to escape into the woods and join the swelling ranks of this new breed of society known as the Foresaken, part of the Horde section of WoW. From her traumatic rebirth she trained hard to become a heroic fighter to reek her families revenge upon all humans who once called themselves friend to her. She calls her undead mount Tornado.
After a while my friends migrated again lol and so did I into the Alliance and I brought Blackstorm with me through a new tool Blizzard brought out allowing you to change factions and names. I made Blackstorm revert to her human self and revived her mortal name of Hildr but with Hrafn on the end creating her new name 'Hildrhrafn' which meant Battle Raven (a slight mix of one of Odin's many titles taken from my Norse Myth Dictionary).
This is a lovely screenshot of Hildr upon her blessed pegasus literally made from its own stars with her pet familiar buzzard flying alongside. She is stood observing the waterfalls in the lovely land of Northrend which is my favourite place due to its many Norse Myth influences - it has wonderful fjords and the natives are very brutal in a viking manner, sail on ships with dragon heads unfortunately they are no allies of anyone so I can't sit in their longhall style villages with a horn full of mead. Anyway Hildrhrafn is the opposite of what Blackstorm, Hildrhrafn is an excellent warrior, noble and brave at heart and is basically everything a Valkyrie should be. Except she isn't a Valkyrie yet but she is well on the way to earning that honour.
Another way when we did RP as well as impersonating our characters was also to look the part and so through the purchase of various items such as robes, dress, cloak, helmet or hood etc we could also LOOK the parts we played. So Hildrhrafn has varous guises:
This is Hildrhrafn in what I called the Secret Valkyrie suit - regal, impressive, strong colour pattern and a nice hood and veil to shield her identity.
Here is Hildrhrafn in what I call the Raven Suit - raven headdress, matching kinky robe in similar  colour tones. It's kind of more like a tribal dance outfit but still valkyrie-esque in way as Ravens would also join Valkyries on the fields of fallen warriors.

I also have 3 other alteregos on WoW. I have a Night Elf Hunter called Fridrmana meaning Beautiful Moon as I made her skin and hair pure white. Basically an albino Night Elf as they also can be green or blue/purple in tone. Now I never did much RP with Fridr but I imagined her parents being extremely worried when she was born by how pale she was and how they thought she was born dead due to her paleness but when the Priestess at the birthing indicated to the full moon and how Fridrmana then began to cry her parents viewed it as a blessing from the Goddess Elune, who is a mighty Moon Diety the Night Elves worship.
As Fridrmana is a Hunter she is not just skillfull with a bow, arrow and a blade but is also good at tracking, hunting (of course lol) and being in tune with nature and is thus able to tame a wide range of pets as hunting companions. Fridrmana currentlty has 6 of various breeds and types but I will show you her (mine) favourite.
This is Fridrmana in her battle gear and her silver wolf pet named Freke, after one of Odin's favourite wolf familiars. Freke's been with Fridr since the beginning of her training and is very playful like a puppy but swift as and silent as the stars when she goes for the kill.
This is Fridrmana and her other wolf companion Gerie, named after the second of Odin's favourite wolf familiars. He's only a recent addition and is very different to Freke. Gerie is bulky with musle, as strong as an ox and has the teeth of a shark and a bark to make walls shake. He is extremely protective and likes to be the dominant one - typical male really hehehe.
This is the third favourite companion and is the newest as well. Leikn (meaning Tricky) is a fox and named with a slight hint of honour towards Loki goddess of chaos, cunning and mischief which summons Leikns whole personality in a nutshell. Leikn always wants to show how clever he can be which does work for the better sometimes but he does have a horrible habit of yapping alot, especially when he fights, almost like he's talking his enemy to death or at least torturing them with the sound of his own voice.

Another of my alter egos is my Death Knight called Fallenvalkyr. She is not just as black as a goth, as moody and as solitary as a goth but she is a fantasy goth look a like with a kick ass attitude to go along with it.
She really is a very broody loner, doesn't ever say much but follows orders to the letter with the efficiency of a super trained secretary. She dabbles in the art of Ice, Frost and Death Chill hence her only real friend is the little Blizzard Penguin hiding in the corner from the camera. Because of his natural habitat he is able to withstand her very cold personality.

My final alter ego is a fairly new one and is still quite young in her adventures compared to the three above. She is my Worgen Mage called Reigenlief meaning 'Heritage of the Gods' according to one name website.
She's had a tough life with the evacuation of her entire city from the curse of the Worgen, then surviving the Cataclysm caused by Deathwing the horid dragon arriving back in the world which caused mega earthquakes and tsunamis to destroy their haven (I don't mean that as a joke in anyway to Japan such events did occur in WoW but a year ago at least now when the expansion pack for Cataclysm came out) and forced to flee yet again before finally succombing to the curse and seeking help from the Night Elves to regain her humanity along with many of her fellow Gilneans. But in my mind Regienlief is actually the bastard child of Fenrir the wolf and a woman who took pity on him and cared and loved him until he banished her back to the mortal realm when she wouldn't play fetch with him hehehe and so her wolf form is actually a part or downside of her genetic heritage. Above is Regienlief in her human cast but this what happens when she gets maaaad!
I'm not drooling am I?

And so ends my world wind tour of my alter egos, their stories, histories and traits on the huge fantasy world that is World of Warcraft. I hope you can see why I believe that making such characters and roleplaying online can not just be a major distraction from the very act of writing but if used in the right way can also help produce and sharpen your skills for creating believable (in a fantasy sense) characters.

Do you as a writer play any online or RP games? Would you agree with all I've just said? Do you have any better ways of creating believable fantasy characters?

Monday, 14 March 2011

Feeding the 5000, Reading and rolling in Viking History AND a very exciting development with Soul Chaser

Well since last week I have been exceptionally BUSY not just at work where it is ALWAYS busy but also busy worring about my Aunt who has suffered from severe MS and has ended up back in hospital since last monday for very upsetting reasons that I won't go into. The doctors have tended to her but it will be another week before we know if her current dilemman will be fixed or will affect her life in a very detrimental manner.

I was also busy this past weekend baking 60 buns - yes, that's right 60 buns! - for our annual student lunch at work. Thankfully I was at home this past weekend to support Mum and Aunt so I had her expertise and her oven which was even more appreciated as the oven at my humble flat just happened to break down the very day my Aunt went into hospital and won't be fixed until later this week.

I have also been busy reading and loving Robert Fergusson's book 'The Hammer and The Cross' I've learnt so much more detail about the Viking age era and not just their impact on Anglo-Saxon England but also on the reign of Charlemagne and early France, how they often raided amongst themselves as Denmark, Norway and Sweden were still clan dominated areas and of course how the Slav/Rus traders brought goods and people down the steep rivers and lakes and plains to Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) and how the Varangian Guard was established. I've only just reached the half way point so a dazzling review will be a while off yet.

This week will be even more busy as the Huddersfield Literature Festival kicks off and I'll be attending the Opening Event where I will find out which lucky sods stole my winning place in the Grist Anthology of New Writing, then on the weekend I'm attending a fantastic storytelling event bringing old tales and modern morals together in the form of Isis and Hagate. AND attending a Melvin Burgess event where I hope he will have a few copies of his norse inspired contemporary novel Bloodsong on sale for me to get. I might even be brave and ask a norse question or two myself :p

THEN on top of all that's happening I have recieved some exciting news about a fantastic development which may see a small piece of me and Soul Chaser fly off into the big wide world of readers and books. Details are still currently being sorted out and so I am busy editing the chosen piece of SC to perfection (as far as my amateurish understanding of grammar and punctuation goes but thankfully I have a good helping hand from the organisers) but I hope to reveal all this time next week.

In the mean time I do hope to get my fingers stuck into SC again soon, probably after this week when my life is a little bit calmer and less demanding as I'm eager to get chap 8-10 done as I already have it planned out.

So until then - May the Valkyries Watch Over You!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

A Viking's view on being a Christian - Rags and Riches

This is a genuine example of Viking’s cleverness: Taken from Robert Fergusson’s The Hammer and The Cross in the Chapter ‘The Vikings and the Carolingian Empire’:-

“On one occasion when there were not enough linen garments to go round, Louis (the Pious) ordered some old shirts to be cut up and stitched together. Confronted with this, one old Dane regarding it suspiciously for some time before complaining to the emperor that he had gone through the procedure (baptism) some twenty times now and always before been given a splendid white suit for his troubles. This was just an old sack. It made him feel like a pig-farmer, not a soldier. Having taken away his own clothes they’d left him with the choice of wearing this or else going about naked. As far as he was concerned, they could keep their Christ, and their old rags too.”

This is a great book and not only is it full of interesting facts, views, narratives, records and discoveries you also come across the odd gem of humour like the one above. I haven't even reached a third of the way through it yet and I already recommend it to anyone interesting viking history, culture, religion and way of life.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Sneak Preview from Soul Chaser Chapter 8 - Omens in the Ash

*Sneak Preview of* - Chapter 8: Omens in the Ash

Water splashed and sloshed against the sides of the boat, almost trying to create a natural series of beats as the oars sliced into the surface of the sea. Each stroke was firm yet gentle, strong and sure but at a steady pace which suited the warmth on our backs and the gentle breeze tickling our naked arms. My hands gripped the sides not out of fear but for the need to hold onto something as the hands I wanted to hold were manning the oars. I looked up into the eyes of the man rowing us smoothly amongst the bigger and more expensive boats and ships docked that day. I sensed no ill intentions from his returning gaze, just the glow of happiness, the pulsating love he had for me but something lingered behind it all, a small worry perhaps? I looked elsewhere, wondering who the people were who owned the rich yachts, what the rooms inside were like, whether there was caviar and champagne in the fridge. I noticed a vortex of seagulls swirls directly above our heads, their loud, mind piercing calls heralding the summers mid-day sunshine.
    “Are you hungry?” The man asked making me turn my focus again.
I didn’t answer because I wasn’t sure. I didn’t feel hungry but then again I didn’t feel not hungry. I was afraid it might be sea-sickness which would spoil the day for us both. In the end I just shrugged.
    “Mum made you an extra set of sandwiches in case we got hungry on the way out. You’ve got marmite and cheese or chicken salad?”
I knew the first option was my favourite but the fact that he offered me the other showed they were still trying to get me to eat healthier.
    “Well I might have one of the chicken salads, this rowing has built up my appetite.” He put the oars at rest and knelt over the large food chiller container that sat between us.
    As he unzipped the box open I felt a shadow swoop over us, I looked up and the seagulls were scattering across the vast blue sky, shrieking louder than before. I couldn’t detect anything wrong; I wasn’t even sure what predator if any the seagulls had in the sky. I could still glimpse the harbor side crammed with people out enjoying the day. It is out of that moving mass that one black thing emerged, gliding smoothly over the boats and swooping across the dappled sparkling sea. I watched, curious and fascinated as to what it could be. It grew as it shrunk the distance between us, its identity revealed as a bird as black as Whitby jet. It let out a call as harsh as rocks being crushed to dust in a grinding machine. Just the eeriness of its call made me grip the boat tighter. I tried to call to my companion, my curiosity transforming to fear. I looked down into our humble boat and neither he nor our chilled picnic box was there. Disappeared. Vanished. I was on my own and facing a terror that was so intense it had taken away my voice. My eyes were now bewitched with the incoming threatening black bird that now landed onto the vacant bench before me. It stood tall, twitching its head from side to side, showing one red eye and then one black eye. It fluttered its wings and opened its beak, I cringed expecting the horrid noise from before but my fear became shock as a croaking voice uttered. “Reignlief!” I lost control of my senses and felt myself fall into the bottom of the boat; the bird’s aged voice repeating that one word over and over again before the blackness that had consumed my vision finally blocked up my ears.
*** *** ***
More to be continued....(hopefully hehehe)

For any new blog readers - please read through Soul Chaser Chapters 1-7 (all in moderately rough form so apologies for spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes) links are at the top beneath blog banner.

My World Book Day & Night Recommendations: Vikings & Norse Mythology

My Favourite Viking Historical Fiction and Norse Fantasy Books:

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