Thursday, March 29, 2012

War between gods

It is so exciting to work with the old Norse myths! Right now I'm going with the story of how Vanes and Ases come to war with each other. It all starts as the Vane Guldveig arrives in Asgard to offer her services as a soothsayer. Vanes perform Seid, a magic, the Ases aren´t familiar with and she has the special ability to light a fire in the Aesir heart awakening their deepest passions and jealousy. It takes a while before they figure out what is going on, but when they find that all their recent quarrels and disagreements come from Guldveig´s magic, they respond promptly. Guldveig is pierced through the heart with a spear. But mysteriously enough , she doesn´t die. Then they try burning her, but still no result. Three times she is burned and three times she survives, then leaves Asgard and returns to her home in Vanaheim. The Vanes being angry about the treatment she received in Asgard,  they send their fiercest warriors to Asgard and a war begins.

In the end, the two godly tribes come to an agreement and decide on a truce. To ensure the peace between them, they exchange memebers of their families, so that some of the Ases come to live at Vanaheim and some of the Vanes come to live in Asgard.

That´s the short version... The narrative version is under way and I´m very much looking forward to publishing!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Down the mythology road

When I first decided to write my own interpretation of the Norse Myths, I really had no clue as to what I was getting myself into. Of course I knew that the myths were not as simple as they might seem at first. After all, this is not the only endeavour I´ve been undertaking in Norse Mythology. Even as a boy, I loved reading these stories and found them to be both intrigueing and mind widening.

But as I walk down this road, it becomes more and more clear to me, that I´ve somewhat underestimated the complexity of the myths. Partly because they speak of things above mondaine understanding, partly because they are apparently a mix of several religious views, some of which are native to Scandinavia and some seem to have come from the religions of  Little Asia.

The creational myth is a good example. It speaks of the Yetten and the Ases, but the Vanes aren´t even mentioned and neither is Yggdrasil, the tree of life, where the apples of youth granting the gods everlasting life, grow.

Additionally, this myth talks about night and day in terms and understanding quite similar to both the old Celtic and Egyptian beliefs as well as Wiccan in its contemporary form.

The question of Vanes origin becomes even more interesting knowing that they play a very minor role in the religious life of people in Denmark and Norway during the Viking ages, whereas they seem to have been worshipped to a much larger extend in the northern parts of Sweden and Finland.

So it is really going to be some of a journey to me - even more than I thought, it would be - perhaps you would like to acompany me?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How Norse Mythology influences your daily life

Most people don´t know, but Norse Mythology has massive influence in everyday life even today.

This post is about the names of our days, which are mostly derived from Norse Mythology. If you want to know more, I´ve written this, this and much more in March

You can almost hear it in the name of the day, that Monday is the day of the moon. What this means further, I haven´t yet been able to figure out, but most likely the meaning is not specifically Norse. Both in Celtic, Roman and Greek mythology, it seems to exist as well.

Tuesday is named after Tyr, the god of war and justice. He doesn´t play a very prominent role in known sources of Norse mythology and may very well have been more important in the beggining, but was pushed aside by the more interesting gods, Thor and Odin. The connection between war and justice may seem a bit odd for modern day man, but it does makes a lot of sense in the Viking culture, where justice is derived from whomever holds power. And since power is obtained through war or violence in general, justice is whatever is decided by those who have power. In other words, you could say that justice is determined by the victorious.

Wednesday basically means Day of weddings and such contracts between two people points to the main god, Odin, who was the engineer of the idea to create man. Wedding were probably held on wednesdays and the wedding, though having virtually no ceremonial elements, had to be blessed by Odin. In the scandinavian languages, Wednesday is called Onsdag, which means Odins day.

Thursday belongs to Thor, the god of lightning and courage in battle. In some respects, Thor is the god of war, but not in the full scale sense, we usually might think of. Thor is the mightiest warrior, but his main character is that of courage and he doesn´t pick battle for no reason as would your basic war god.

Friday is Frej´s day. Frej is a Vane as opposed to the Ases and lives with his sister, Freja, in Asgard as part of the truce between these two families. Frej is the god of fertility, farming and fishing.

Saturday is somewhat of a mystery. In Scandinavia it is called Lørdag, but this doesn´t bring us any closer to the meaning of it, so if any of you have some info to share, please do so by commenting beneath this post.

Here the circle is complete. Sunday simply means "Day of the sun" and then we have the two opposing forces of Day and Night represented by the sun on Sunday and the moon on Monday. It seems the beliefs connected to the sun can be dated further back than Norse mythology. In 1902 the "Sun Chariot" was found in Od Shire, Denmark. This chariot depicted a horse pulling a chariot upon which a golden sun was placed. Scholars have concluded, that people in the bronze age believed the sun was pulled across the sky during the day by three different animals: a fish in the morning, a horse during the main part of the day and finally a snake would bring the sun to the underground, where it was turned off and brought back to the east by ship. The next day this would repeat.

Hopefully, you´ve enjoyed this post. If so, you can find more here or if you want to read the first part of the 'Asgard Saga' it´s available at and (UK, DE, IT, ES)

Comment and share your knowledge beneath
What surprised you the most?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Norse Mythology re-re-visited

As I´m digging into the mythology behind my viking heritage, I have come to realize that my knowlegde and memory is somewhat lacking. The result is that some of my earlier posts on the subject contain errors. That´s why I´ve decided to re-re-visit Norse Mythology in a new post. Of course, I could´ve chosen to just edit these earlier posts, but instead I feel it would be better to leave these posts as is (except for inserting the fact that they are a bit off) to show the development in my studies.

Another important thing is that when you read the stories I intend to include in my upcoming Asgard Saga, please keep in mind that they are fiction. The base line is coming from some of the original sources, but the stories have been modernized in the sense that the character desription is deeper than in the original stories.

The reason is that storytelling has changed through time. In the early Viking Age, character description was flat and brief, showing only the most nescessary elements of a person. Today we tend to describe feelings and landscapes more detailed. For the stories to be entertaining as well as informative, I try to keep a balance between action and being true to the original storyline. Hopefully you will find that I´ve been succesful in doing so.

Back to the re-re-visitation!

Norse Mythology is rather complex and even more so than I first realized. Some of the errors I´ve made in my previous posts are derived from this notion. I could choose to correct my mistakes point by point, but the complexity of the whole thing made me realize that re-posting and re-explaining would probably be the better option, so here we go:

The gods´ family tree

To define which supernatural entities in Norse Mythology are to be considered gods is not an easy task. Truth be told, we can only guess how the Vikings saw it. Probably they didn´t feel the urge to make such definitions, as this kind of approach is more bound to the monotheologic religions such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism. In the late 1800´s and in the beginning of the 1900´s most scholars chose to approach Norse Mythology by directly comparing it to Greek and Roman mythology. That approach makes Freyr the Norse equivalent to the Greek god of virility, Priapos and Odin the aquivalent to Zeus.

While I´m not a scholar and therefore do not have the authority to enter this discussion, I would much rather refrain from defining who is to be thought of as a god and who is merely a supernatural entity such as elves or unicorns. In the following I will there fore use the word gods when talking about Vanes, Ases and Yetten. I still don´t know what to do with some of their off spring, though...

In the world of the gods there are three family trees woven into eachother in various combinations. These are:

  • Vanes
  • Ases
  • Yetten

The Vanes and the Ases have been at war with eachother, but peace has been established between them.

Probably as part of the truce, some Vanes now live in Asgard and possibly some Ases live in Vanaheim. However, Vanaheim is still a bit of a mystery to me. There might be sources telling more about Vanaheim, but for now I imagine Vanaheim is not placed in either Asgard, Midgard or Utgard. If you know, please feel free to make a comment correcting me beneath the post.

The peace and trusting interaction between Ases and Vanes leave the Yetten as mortal enemies of both families and although the myths usually side with the Ases (and Vanes, who mostly play a minor part in the myths) against the Yetten, it cannot be interpreted in terms of good or evil. The Yetten aren´t percieved as evil. They are percieved as enemies of the Ases (and Vanes)

So, after this (short, hopefully) introduction to family matters of the Norse Mythology, I´m looking forward to hear your comments.

Was this informative?
Do you find Norse Mythology interesting?
Did you find any flaws in my post?

Comment and correct beneath

Oh, almost forgot: my next post, hopefully published tomorrow, will be about the massive influence of Norse Mythology to YOUR everyday life - every single week you are connected to Norse Mythology, believe it or not. Chances are, you will be in for quite the surprise...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mjolner - Thor´s Hammer

A few days ago, I posted the story of how Thor got his hammer, Mjolner. I wasn´t at all satisfied with it and promised to rewrite the whole thing as soon as it was done. 

The plan is to write a whole saga on Norse mythology and when its finished, it´ll be available for purchase at and all of their retailer channels, such as Apple, Barnes&Nobles and Amazon. I´ve decided to make the first volume cheap, as in $0.99!

However, this first story about how Thor got his hammer will be available right here on my blog for free as long as it takes before I can publish the entire first volume.

So, without further ado:

How Thor got his Hammer...

A rending scream tore through the morning dew and woke the gods in their homes. "My hair! My lovely, lovely hair!" Sif was beside herself with rage and despair, as she stood pulling the sad remnants of what had once been her pride.

Thor flew in from the goats with a wild look on his face. "What is going on, my lo…" he managed to say before he saw how Sif's beautiful hair was now only a haystack of tufts here and there in uneven lengths. Thor was raging inside and he knew that there could only be one person who would even think about doing such a thing.

"Loooookeeeeeee!" it roared through Asgard all the way to Sky Mountain where Heimdal held his ears in pain. Of course, you can infer nothing much from this, since Heimdal's ears were so sensitive that he could hear the grass growing, but watching the bridge Bifrost, which connected Asgard to Midgard, you would clearly see the power of Thor's displeasure. The bridge shook, springing ice crystals in all directions and at the end of the bridge the quake resonated deep into Midgards underground and she opened her mouth to swallow the trees closest to the bridge footing.

In the other end of the world Thor's roar reached as far as the remotest parts of Utgard where Yetten of all sizes and shapes either began  preparing for battle or hid in their caves in the belief that Ragnarok was imminent.

Loke too heard his name being called, but he wasn´t in much of a hurry to talk to Thor and Sif. He suspected they wanted to confront him with some kind of mischief they held him responsible for and he thought that it might be better to wait a little. Let things calm down a bit first. Rumours have it that Loke even took the time to visit his Yetten half brother Byleist, but no one knew for sure, if this was true.

Eventually Loke decided to visit Thor and Sif to face the music and the moment Thor saw him, he dropped everything he had in his hands and jumped to greet Loke by throwing himself at him in wild fury .
"I'll kill you, you coward!" He hissed out between his teeth while squeezing his hands in stranglehold of Loke.

At the sound of Loke's stifled moaning he eased his grib in a temperament permitting paste.
"There must be something I can do to make Sif happy again," Loki whispered hoarsely. There was.
"Replace her hair," Thor answered with fury in his eyes, "But not just any kind of hair, mind you! It must be golden hair that grows on her head and can be cut and put up, just like ordinary hair."
"Well, Thor," Loki protested, "Such hair does not exist. What you ask of me is quite impossible. "

Thor stood up tall and threatened with both of his hands. "Either you provide the hair," he snarled, "or I will break every bone in your body and then you can say goodbye to your beauty and your charm and all the women running after you."

Loki blinked at the thought of getting his body mutilated, but then he lid up in a wry smile. "Did I say it was impossible?" he twittered, "I meant of course that it will be tricky, but that there is nothing I would love more than to see this through - for Sif. Oh yes, and for you too, Thor, mighty warrior ... "

Thor tilted his head in a strained grimace, staring viciously at Loke, who took it as his cue.
"I'd better run," he said quickly and ran backward down the hill with his eyes fixed on Thor, who still didn´t seem too happy, "I'll be back with the golden hair before you even realize I've been gone!" Loki shouted with one arm in the air before he turned around and sprinted away.

Brokk and Sindre, the son´s of Ivalde, where well known for their craftmanship. The magical items they had made were among the finest in the world. They lived deep in the mountains with their brethen dwarfs and this was were Loke was going.

Loki decided that since he was there, he might as well get the sons of Ivalde to make a few more items besides the golden hair, so he and the brothers agreed to a price for three items. After they finished Loki admired the work of the dwarfs.

”This is Skidbladner,” Brokk told Loke and held out a piece of cloth. ”What is it?” Loke asked, knowing he was in for a treat. ”It´s a ship,” Brokk answered, ”this is what it looks like, when you´re not using it. Fits right in your pocket.”

”Nice!” Loke nodded his head. ”That´s not all,” the dwarf proudly explained, ”no matter from where the wind blows, Skidbladner´s sails will always be filled.”

Sindre had been standing quite impatienlty behind his brother and it was clear, he couldn´t wait to show the third item. He handed Loke a spear. ”Gungner” he said. Loke took the spear in his hands and noticed right away the perfect balance of the weapon. Then he tilted his head asking for further information. ”Penetrates anything,” Sindre said.

Loki knew that the dwarves were proud of their work. For them it was important that their latest creations were always the best they had ever made. So he got the idea that maybe he could use their pride to get something extra for his money. After all, Sif and Thor weren´t the only ones being a bit discontent with his recent actions. Perhaps bringing a few gifts to Asgard would go a long way.

"What wonderful items you have made," he praised them, "No dwarf will ever be able to make something better! I am sure of it"

Brokk was pretty offended. "We take pride in always improving ourselves,” he protested, ”of course we can make something better."
Loke didn´t even look up. Just sat there stroking the golden locks. "No, I think not," he said slyly, "I would even bet my head on it."

Being offended and angry, this was a bet the dwarfs couldn´t let go. Loki and Ivaldesønnerne therefore agreed that Brokk and Sindre should make three more items and then they would go with Loki to Asgard where the Ases would decide which items were best.
If the gods decided on one of the latter three items, Loke could have all six items for nothing, but if they deemed one of the first three items to be superior, Brokk and Sindre would get Loke's head. "But it must be the whole head in one piece," Brokk demanded. He suspected Loke would cheat him given the chance and thought that if he took all of Loke´s head, the Ases wouldn´t be able to heal the no good Loke.

They gave each other their word that this would be the bet and Brokk and Sindre began their work. The dwarfs decided on three very different items. First, they would craft Goldenbrush, a pig with a skin so shiny that it could light up the whole world. Next, they would forge Draupner, a ring of gold that would multiply 8-fold every 9 days. Finally they would craft Mjolner, a war hammer with such a power, that nothing could withstand it.

Listening to their ideas, Loke began to worry. He knew these items could very well be deemed superior to the first three items and he was rather fond of his head.
Sindre, who was the most skilled of the two, placed Brokk at the bellows. He instructed his brother to keep working the bellows the entire time, Sindre was working at the furnace. If Brokk paused for just a little while, the furnace wouldn´t be hot enough and the items would be ruined.

This gave Loke an idea. He sneaked out and used his magic to transform himself into a mosquito, then returned to the cave, where the two brothers were working. Exactly at the most critical time of the crafting, he landed on Brokk´s neck and stung him. Brokk being a strong dwarf swallowed the pain of the sting and kept working and soon Goldenbrush was ready.

Again the dwarfs started working and this time, Loke stung Brokk even harder than before. His face twisted in pain, but he kept blowing and soon Draupner was forged. Loke realized he had only one more chance to win the bet, so at exactly the right time he stung Brokk again. This time he stung him in the eye with such a thrust, that Brokk began to bleed down his cheek. Not being able to see what he was doing, Brokk had to stop working the bellows to wipe off the blood. Soon Mjolner was done, but because Brokk had to pause the blowing into the furnace, the handle of the hammer was too short.

Sindre was furious at his brother, but since the sun would soon rise, they didn´t have much time left. That´s why they came up with an idea. Instead of a traditional war hammer, Mjolner would be a throwing weapon. They cast a spell on Mjolner and when Loke returned to the cave in his original form, the three of them began their journey.

Arriving in Asgard, Loke presented his gifts first. He gave Gungner to Odin, The golden hair to Sif and Skidbladner to Frej. They were very impressed with all of these items and applauded Loke for his endeavour.

Then it was the Brokk and Sindre´s turn. They presented Draupner to Odin, Goldenbrush to Frej and Mjolner to Thor.
It didn´t take much time for the Ases to decide. Their praise of Mjolner´s ability to always hit it´s target and always return to it´s owner was in fact so apparent, that Loke understood, he had lost even before they named the winning item.

He backstepped as quietly as he could and when the dwarven brothers turned around to claim their winning, he had disappeared. However, he wasn´t free for long. Thor caught him within a few days and brought him back to Asgard.

Realizing there was no escape, Loke accepted his fate and kneeled down before Brokk.
”According to our agreement,” Brokk said and drew his sword, ”you have lost the bet and I, Brokk, son of Ivalde, will claim my prize.”

He raised his sword and was just about to chop off Loke´s head, when Loke suddenly realized something, he hadn´t thought of before. ”Wait!” he shouted. Brokk paused, but still held the sword high. ”Are you not man enough to live up to our bargain?” Sindre hissed. ”But of course, dwarf,” Loke answered gratiously smiling, ”I just wanted to remind you of the details of our agreement. I lost the bet and my head is yours, complete and in one pjece.” Loke looked up and continued: ”The neck, however, is mine, so you might want to be careful where to strike that sword of yours.”

Realizing the implications, Sindre waved his hand at his brother to lower his sword. It would be impossible to take all of Loke´s head without snatching a small pjece of his neck.

Still, Sindre was determined not to let Loke off the hook.

”Okay,” he said, ”though I cannot separate your head from your body, it is still my head and I will do with it as I please.” Then he grabbed needle and threat to sow Loke´s lips together.

”Perhaps for a while, we could all use a break from that snake tounge of yours,” he said and all the Ases laughed.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

How Thor got his Hammer

This post is the first of a series derived from Norse Mythology Revisited. The point of the series is to fold out the mythology originated from my own culture and hopefully sort out some of the misunderstandings promoted by movies and TV-series.

Digging into this, I have found that my memory (or supposed knowlegde, whatever you prefer) seems to have been a bit off.

This means that both the original post and the story beneath has some errors. Of course I could delete the whole thing and start over, but in the name of truth I´ve decided to leave it as it is in order to show the development in my studies of Norse Mythology, which has proven to be even more complex than I imagined.

I´ve rewritten the story about the making of Thor´s Hammer. You can read it here and perhaps go back and forth between the two versions to get an idea about the development.

Thors Hammer is perhaps the most known concept in Norse Mythology, but how many really know the story of how Thor got his hammer?

Well, now is the chance to learn about it. Sit down in your favorite chair with your preferred beverage and read the story of:

Mjolner - A Hammer cut short...
(please keep in mind, that this is the first edition - there will soon be a re-write, since I wasn´t pleased with the result of this)
Sif when angry - (Usually Sif is kind, gentle and chest, but it can get to a point...)

Sif was furious! Her hair! Her beatiful, beautiful hair had been cut off while she was sleeping and for someone who didn´t know her, it would be impossible to determine if her tears were mostly coming from grief or angry, but for those who knew her temper there was no doubt that she was steaming! If from this description you find yourself understanding but a tenth of her anger, the endeavour of describing Thor´s reaction is hopeless. His face a gleaming red he knew that there was only person in the entirety of all three worlds who would even think to dare such a thing. "Looookeeeeee!" his roar sounded and everyone in Asgard knew, Thor wasn´t in a good mood. His roar reached the far lands of Outgard, where some Yetten are said to have hidden in their caves that day, thinking that they were at the verge of beginning Ragnarok. 

Heimdal, the guardian of Bifrost

It also reached Heimdal at the Mountain of the Sky covering his ears in pain, but since his sensitive ears could hear the grass grow, this doesn´t tell us much about how much power Thor´s voice had. Bifrost, however, was vibrating with his cry shaking Midgard in such a manner that the ground opened it´s mouth and swallowed trees standing the closest to the frozen bridge.


Needless to say, Loke was in no particular hurry to go see his friend and had he the courage to admit it even to himself, he was probably more afraid of Sif than of Thor. Some say he even took the time to visit a Yetten cousin for a few days. But in the end he had to face the consequences of his actions and went to the house of Sif and Thor. The moment he arrived, Thor grabbed him by the throat and commanded him to compensate Sif for the loss of her hair. Loke tried talking himself out of it, since he didn´t have a clue as to what could possibly be a fitting compensation, but Thor had an idea. He and Sif had already talked about it and they agreed that if Loke could replace Sif´s hair, they would let him off the hook. But it couldn´t be just any kind of hair. No, for Loke to truly compensate for both the loss of her hair AND the pain involved, the replacement hair had to be made of the finest gold. Still, the hair had to be able to grow and to be easily cut and in general be treated as ordinary hair.

"Thor," Loke snake toothed, "as you know, I would do anything to make up for the grief my unintended mischief has caused. But what you´re asking is just not possible. Surely there must be another way I can bring happiness to your most beautiful wife."

When Thor reminded him, that it was either Golden hair or Thor would strike him down where he stood, Loke revised his word. "Did I really say it was not possible," he replied, "what I meant was 'difficult' and I think I know who to turn to." So Golden Hair it was.

Loke went to the mountain dwarfs who were well known for their craftsmanship and there he met the sons of Ivalde.

The two brothers, Brokk and Sindre agreed to make not only the golden hair, but in addition the ship Skidbladner and the spear Gungner.

All three objects were marvellous wonders. The ship Skidbladner always had wind in its sails, no matter in which direction it sailed and when folded it was the size and weight of a handkerchief. The spear Gungner was a mighty weapon that could penetrate anything and then of course there was the beautiful golden hair to which the dwarfs had even added special magic, so that Sif could use it to enforce her magical skills. Loke was very impressed with the three objects.

"What wonders you have made, sons of Ivalde," he said and decided to try tricking the dwarfs into doing some extra work without payment, "Never from this day will there be forged objects as wonderrous as these. In fact, I will bet my head on it."

The dwarfs taking much pride in their work and always being keen on developing their skills further were angry. How could he say such a thing? Did he really believe that this was as good as it gets and that they would not continously improve their work and skills? So, they took the bet. Loke was quite pleased with himself, but when the dwarfs started talking about the three new objects they would make, he realized he had placed himself in a difficult situation.

Sindre placed Brokk at the bellows and instructed him to never cease working them while Sindre was crafting. If he did stop, even for a short moment, Sindres work would turn out as a failure. This gave Loke an idea to win the bet. As Sindre put a pigs skin in the fire, Loke sneaked out of the mountain cave, transformed himself into a mosqouito and returned to the cave where he stung Brokk in the neck. Brokk ignored the pain and continued working the bellows and moments later, the Boar Goldenbrush was made. It had the ability that whereever it was, it could light up the whole world.

Again Sindre placed Brokk at the bellows and instructed him to keep working with no delay. sindre tossed a gold bar into the fire and started working. This time Loke stung Brokk in the neck even harder, but the dwarf still managed to control the urge to wave away the mosquito and soon Sindre drew out the golden ring, Draupner from the esse. From the ring every 9th night 8 new rings would drip, equally valuable to the original ring.

For the third time Sindre instructed Brokk to keep working the bellows and then he threw in an iron bar. Loke knew that if he was to have any chance of winning the bet, this was it, so this time he stung Brokk right in his eye and though Brokk was still able to ignore the pain, he had to wipe away the blood to see and in doing so, he stopped for just a short moment.

Thor with his Hammer, Mjolner
When Sindre pulled out the object, which was supposed to be a war hammer, the handle was way too short making it useless. Loke was thrilled, but just for a moment, because these dwarfs quickly came up with a solution. They decided to craft the magic in such a way that instead of being a war hammer to be held in your hands while fighting, it was to be a throwing weapon. They induced on it a spell and now the hammer would always hit it´s target and it would return to the owner after each throw.

Loke hoped to the last moment that the Ases judging the objects would deem Mjolner worthless, but in the end they decided that the latter three objects were better than the first. Loke had to accept that he had lost the bet and made himself ready for losing his head to the dwarfs.

But then, as he crouched with Sindre right behind him ready to strike his sword, Loke realized something.
"Stop!" he cried. The dwarf stopped for a moment but as the astonishment faded away he began taunting Loke. "As a dwarf I have no means to force you to give me your head, but we made a bet and I expected you to be honest about it. Are you not man enough to hold your end of the bargain?"

"Of course I am, dwarf," Loke smiled, "A deal is a deal and a bet is a bet. I just wanted to caution you to keep the deal. We agreed and we bet my head. So when you strike, be very careful to only take the head. The neck is mine."

Realizing it wasn´t possible to take Lokes head without taking at least some of his neck, Sindre downed his sword. But the head of Loke was still his and he should not go unpunished for his arrogance. And since Lokes tounge was his main character flaw, Sindre took a needle and thread and sowed Lokes mouth together, so that he would not be able to speak for some time.

Such a peaceful time it would be for the Ases...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Viking Mythology revisited

I really enjoy watching science fiction series and one of my favorites is Star Gate. Which one? you might ask and frankly, I don´t care much. SG1 is great because of the development of the whole story line and the building of back ground story with Asgard, Go'auld, Jaffa, Tok'ra and more races unwinding the reality the series is placed in. The SG-Atlantis has it´s humor mixed with deep philosophical dilemmas and incorporates other myths such as the Vampire race of the Wraith. And of course the SGU, which has unfortunately been cancelled after just two short seasons. I like the SGU's darkness and edge and it´s boldness of not overusing characters from the other two SG-series.

So, basically, I like all of these series - but.... *sigh* - there is a 'but'
One thing I have to rally up all my patience to discard is the misinformed use of Viking Mythology! Please, oh, please, if you are to use history and/or mythology, do your research properly!

It´s such a pity that a good series has this flaw, so I´ve decided to do something about it. The next few weeks I will be posting some short stories from the Viking mythology and I hope you will enjoy them.

The picture above shows Thor´s hammer, called Mjoelner and I kinda liked it, though it hasn´t much to do with the rest of the post.

I´ll post some of the myths from norse mythology, but for now, I will correct some of the misinformation from the series:

First there is the name of the gods. They are not called Asgards, but Ases (Aser in Danish: 'As' is singular, 'Aser' is plural)

Secondly, Asgard is the name of their home, that is 'Home of the Ases,' so the use of 'The Asgards' is like calling people living in The United States 'Homeoftheamericanses' - hmmm... doesn´t work very well, does it?

Thirdly, Thor is not the main god. Odin is. Thor is the god of thunder (Torden in Danish) and according to the mythology, thunder is the sound of Thor driving his car across the sky. Thor is not a commandor, but he is a well respected warrior.

And for the record, this is the basic idea on how the entities and their worlds are connected:

Basically, the world has three parts:
Midgard, meaning home in the middle, is the home of the Vanes, that is the humans
Asgard is the home of the Ases
Outgaard (Udgaard in Danish) is the home of the Yetten/Yetta (Jaetter in Danish)

Asgard and Outgaard are directly connected and travelling between them is possible, although not very used, since the Ases and Yetten are mortal enemies. A truce has been set up, but the myth of Ragnarok (the end of the world) says that one day they will continue their conflict in which most of the Ases and Yetten are killed and a new world will emerge.

Between Asgard and Middlegard the brigde Bifrost makes travel possible. The brigde is solely controlled by the Ases and guarded by Heimdall, who lives at the top of Himmelbjerget (Mountain of the Sky/Heaven)

If a Yetta was to travel to Midgard, he would then have to cross all the way through Asgard and then cross this bridge.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

World Time and Writing Time

Today I was at a meeting in one of my networks and one of the members asked me how things were going with the writing and pusblishing. I explained to her that I´d come fairly well out of Read an eBook Week and was looking forward to getting one of my novels done so that I could publish it. Then she asked me something that made me think:

"When you write," she said, "do you lock yourself in a room with no connection to the world outside for a week or so to better concentrate on your writings?"

Instantly I got the picture in my head of some author with writer´s blog leaving the world behind and travelling to some worn out cottage in the wilderness so far away from civilization that there are no phones, radio or internet.

I answered that I usually write when I am alone, but that I need to have people around me during the day in order to function in my life.

But when I drove home that question seemed to have hooked itself on to my main thought stream. I began asking myself a simple question with a complexe and unfinished answer:

"From where do I draw inspiration and how do I get it written into words?"

It may seem simple enough, but the fact is that I really had to think about it. Actually I´m still thinking about it.
One thing I know for sure is that I wouldn´t be able to write a single coherent sentence or come up with even the roughest sketch of a character, if I close myself off to the real world.

On the other hand I also need time alone to think and to write. Time where I´m sure to not get interrupted and all my thoughts and plots wander off to another dimension.

It seems to me that all of this is a fine balance. Too much active "World Time" prevents me from thinking and writing but not enough "World Time" will eventually kill my "muse," so to speak.

I haven´t to a full extend found the right abalcne and I have the notion that this balance is never really found. I´m even beginning to think that if I was at some point in time getting very close to such a balance, it would not be for long, because the right balance would then have changed - because I change, my family changes, the world changes...

Even if you are not a writer and even if you are not a creative person, you may have similar balances to balance in your life.

How do YOU find balance?

Friday, March 9, 2012

The wasted young - on traditional and Indie publishing

"The youth now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers."
Perhaps you´ve seen the above statement before. Supposedly it was said by Socrates in his defense speech when he was acused of corrupting society. If this is true or it´s a hoax made by either Platon or Xenophon is unknown, but the fact remains that it´s been written by the students of Socrates and thereby we can safely say that someone thought these thoughts in ancient Greece.

Recently I read a quote by a simple farmer that is even more to the point:

“Things today are not what they used to be - and they never have!”

“What does this have to do with Indie vs. Traditional publishing?” you may ask.
Well, it really is quite simple:

Every generation feels threatened by the culture and views of the next and this is apparently also the case for generations of publishers and authors.

Try watching the underneath clip from youtube. It´s in Norwegian, but someone has been kind enough to provide a translation in English. When you´ve watched it, please read on, because I have some important points to make:

Medieavel Help Desk

A friend and fellow author wrote on his blog:
“One of my university lecturers told a friend to tell me that if I self-publish it might ruin my chances of being traditionally published or entering competitions.” - you can read the entire post here.

Why would any publisher or host of a writing competition rule out selfpublishers? Do they not want good quality? Or could it be that they would rather have uniformity in views on how to properly publish?

Indie Authoring threaten to shift the power balance 
I think it has to do with defending your livelihood. If Indie Authoring becomes main stream, how would publishers make money and survive the publishing business?

Thus, it would seem to be better to try giving selfpublishers a bad name and start rumours about poor quality and bad editing. And yes, there a examples of both in the Indie World, but quite frankly: so is the case with traditional publishing.

Are there more poor quality in Indie books than in others?

Well, to be honest, I think there is, but for one thing, it´s going in the right direction as the readers simply won´t read bad quality and thereby bad writers and writers publishing bad edited books won´t sell their books. In time, bad quality will diminish to a level competing well with traditional published books. And we are almost there…

And this brings me to the point I want to  make:
Really, the publishing war is not a question of quality, but a question of “who makes money and for what services?”

But it doesn´t sound good if traditional publishing companies use this argument, does it?

“We think, Indie Publishing should stop, because it shifts the balance of power and we are beginning to make less money than before!”

Hmmm…. Not a solid case, is it?

It sounds much more reasonable to come up with all sorts of excuses and statements about quality and reading experience - just like you saw the munk in the video clip complaining about this new world of books, where things aren´t as they used to be.

Examples are vast 
I could continue for hundreds of pages with examples that Indie Authoring is a good idea that will not go away, but it would bore you, I think.

Instead, I´ll tell you something quite interesting:

About a decade ago, a single mum received no less than 25 rejections on her manuscript for a children´s book, before a small publisher decided to take her in as a new author.

That author was J.K.Rowlings and the book was “Harry Potter and the sorcerers stone.”

Imagine, if she decided to believe the publishers word that the book wasn´t any good?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Making you characters believable

It´s been way too long since I´ve written about the issue of how to write, so here´s another post on the subject:

Would you read a story about someone you don´t find interesting?

One of the main reasons any person would continue reading a book is that they connect with the characters in some way.

It doesn´t have to be in such a way that the reader finds the character to be similar to themselves. In fact that is rarely the case. But the characters must be described in such a way that:

1. They seem to be alive
2. The reader can recognize some of their own characteristics in the character
3. The reader is intrigued by some of the characteristics that are completely different from the reader´s own characteristics.

That´s why you need to begin with the beginning. Tell your readers about your characters and their back grounds. It´s much easier to understand why a person does what he does if you have that basic information about them. And sometimes, when neither you, the author, or the reader understand a characters actions, at least his actions seem to fit his personality.

How to make you character alive
When I attended college we performed the musical "West Side Story." I played the part of Riff, the leader of "The Jets" and in the end of an act (don´t remember which one, sorry) I and another character were both killed and lay dead on the stage. The best way would have been for the lights to fade away and the curtains to fall, but we performed in the college hall way, so there were no curtains. Instead, we had to sneak out with the lights off so that the audience wouldn´t notice. We had prepared ourselves for this and we knew exactly the right time to move, so that it wouldn´t be too early and ruin the magic moment of silence, but still not so late, that the audience had gotten used to the dark and could see us leaving.

At the opening night we lay there and counted the seconds and at exactly the right moment we moved. But as soon as we got to our feet, someone turned on the lights and there we were: two dead people standing alive in plain sight for everyone to see. It really ruined the moment...

The lesson to be learned here is quite simple: if your character does something that is completely off course to his personality or the circumstances at hand - in this case dead men walking - it ruins the magic and the reader will be sucked through the portal between the makebelieve world and the real world. And if this happens, you can´t expect to be able to bring the reader back.

So, in all respects: keep the magic and live the makebelieve life in your writings. Failure to do so will put off your readers.

Making a connection between reader and character
Among authors there is a saying: show it, don´t tell it. What it means is that instead of explaining a characters personality using a description, it´s much better to show personality with action.

Really, it should be apparent if we consider how we interact with real people. When you meet someone new, you can´t get into their heads and read their minds and you can´t know anything about their history. So what is it that we do instead? Well, we look at their behaviour and listen to what they say.

An example from my short story, "The Mysterious Disappereance of McGrath:"

"McGrath had a bad temper and got into fights with everyone everywhere" would be an explanation, but if the writer chooses to put in some of McGrath´s interactions with other people showing his temper, the story comes more to life, somewhat like this:

View this book on Smashwords"His landlord stood there by the door for a few seconds building up his nerve, which granted McGrath just enough time to get himself seated in his well used armchair before he heard the reluctant tapping on solid wood. He almost thrust the chair through the wall in anger.
“Hmmf…” the frightened man said loosening his tie and gasped, “I…well…it got stuck.” McGrath didn’t re-enter his home, but instead almost flew past his landlord while complaining loudly about all the vultures the world was populated with."

The main reason is that the storyteller, that is: the author, is an alien presence in the book and should be held to an absolute minimum to present the story as real life like as possible.

But! There is one difference between real life and the makebelieve world: time! Living your life has it´s paste and in most cases you don´t get to really know anyone in just a few hours. It takes time. And time you don´t have when reading a book. Here the time passes completely different than in real life and even the paste is different from passage to passage.

So, having said that "show, don´t tell" is very important, sometimes authors forget the first part of the saying, so instead the story will be "don´t tell it." If you don´t use the advantage of writing, meaning that you can actually get into people´s heads and read their minds and that you can get to knwo their history in just a few sentences, you may very well loose your reader.

By the end of the first few chapters you would be lucky to have half of your readers still reading the story.

So always remember to tell the story of your characters, if you want your readers to understand where they are coming from. Your readers do not always have to understand why the character does what it does, but your characters´ actions must always be coherent with their personality and if your reader does not have the basic back ground of your character, they will be absolutely lost trying to determine if the characters´ actions ARE coherent with their personalities.

Why is difference between the personalities of reader and character important?

Well, their are at least two reasons:

1. Reading about yourself really isn´t all that exciting
2. We all tend to be protective of our self understanding

The first one is obvious: if your reader wanted to read about himself, he wouldn´t bother reading something you wrote. He would look up his diary or check out his timeline on Facebook... The key word here is "Booooring!"

We want to be able to connect with the people in the book, but they also must be interesting to us. Interesting people are not like ourselves. And obviously we are walking the fine line of too much/ too little here...

The second reason is more suttle and often, when we read, we don´t think about it. But if you were to read about a person, who seems to be very much like yourself and that person suddenly was in a situation, where he decided to do something immoral or criminal, your subconciousness would register a head on attack on your own person. We don´t like that, do we? It´s okay to be challenged, but not too much. In smaller bits, please...

What do you think?
I´ve now presented you with these basics and they might be helpful to you as you endeavour into writing your next masterpiece! However, these passages may also have the opposite effect, so:

Where do you think the right balance between difference and likeness with the characters is?

Do you always remember to focus on the balance between show and tell?

Is this post helpful at all?

Read, comment, link as you please...

Embarrassing Moments ready on!

As promised, I can now announce that my translation of "Embarrassing Moments" is ready for sale at - and it is even ON SALE as I write this, so hurry getting your copy, before the price goes up to normal on Monday!

You can get it by clicking on this picture:

View this book on Smashwords
Till Sunday the price is 50% - $1.49

Beneath an excerpt from the collection for your enjoyment ->

Birds and bees

For the third time I was a father. A lovely daughter was now at the hospital with my wonderfull wife. Every child birth is an amazing experience and as a father, I´ve always recognized my responsibility to teach my children about everything there is to life, even some of the more… well… should we say the more intimite issues. That one conversation about the birds and the bees has never been one I feared, but I´d have to admit, I didn´t think it would be so soon coming.

We were on our way to greet the new baby. On the back seat were my 4 year old son and his little sister, aged 2. They had both been at my in-laws for the duration of the birth and even though they may not have understood everything about pregnancy and giving birth, I am sure they had the notion that something out of the ordinary was taking place. And so the car was steaming with joy and excitement.

Suddenly the cosy nature of our being together in the car was broken by my son, who had most likely been speculation a lot on our way to the hospital.

"Daddy? Where did little sister get out?"

Complete and utter silence filled the car...

"Ehm," I said a little embarrassed, pausing for as long as I could in the hope that he would quickly forget about it again. He didn´t...

"Daddy?" he asked again, "I´m asking you something..."

"Yeah, yeah, I know. I heard you…” My brain was exploding with over time. How on earth could I squeeze my out of that one? "I, ehm, I really have to, ehm, I really have to keep my focus on the road and the cars on it, so…"

There were quite a bit of traffic, so for now he accepted the feeble excuse without much further ado. Still, I had a feeling that I wouldn´t be able to postpone the issue much further.

I was right, because shortly after he was there with his question again… "There aren o cars now, daddy… where did my little sister come out?"
"Well… ehm, yeah, ehm… she, ehm, wel.. she came out the usual way, you know..."

I knew very well it wouldn´t do, men somehow I thought to myself that a boy his age really didn´t need all those details...

"Yeah, but where?"
"Well, you know, it´s ehm," I tried to pull time as best I could, "She, ehm, she came out… ehm, underneath, you know..."
"Yeah, but where?"

I was sweating like a pig and the seat was more and more gluing firmly to my shirt and skin, as I was fighting for my life trying to figure out how to get out of this predicament. I mean, what ARE you going to tell a kid only 4 years old about sex and birth and all of that?

I was fighting like crazy to come up with something that could draw out time, so that he would forget about it and think about other things. Things more appropriate for a kid his age, like playing with Lego and that sort of stuff,but there were no help what so ever. Not inside the car, not outside of it. If only I had bought him a teddy bear or a book or something, anything to keep him occupied, but nooo, I had to save money everywhere I could.

I really felt like an idiot. That´s when I saw it, coming to the rescue. It towered up like a protecting castle among all other buildings og behind the hedges you could just see a glimpse og the parking lot. Phew, saved by the bell - well, the building, anyway.

"Right, kids, that´s the hospital," I sighed with relief, "all we need to do now is to find a parking space and then..."
"Then you can tell me!" the boy lit up and interrupted me.

Darn! Once again the light son the first floor in my head were flickering. I can´t believe, how stubborn that boy is! That´s gotta be something he got from his mother´s side of the family. It was more than difficult concentrating on the simple task of getting the car placed in some sort of order within the two white lines. I was glad Linette wasn´t here to witness my struggle with it. She would´ve lavhed her rear end off og and I wouldn´t have heard the end of it. After all I usually tease her about not being able to park the car in the streets.

"Yeah, yeah, take it easy, boy. First we have to figure out the way to where your mum and sister are,” I said with the ferris wheel in my head spinning like crazy.

On the way to the elevator I did what I could to bring to the children´s attention all the magnificents you can experience at a hospital. That is, after all, an important responsibility being a father, that you teach your children about the world? Wheel chairs lined up like taxis in an airport waiting for a new ride, doctors and nurses in white and of course the most amazing and exciting magazine stand you´ve ever seen. But for some strange reason none of it really made any difference. No matter what I did to make concrete pillars, nurse bagdes and flower pots seem like the most interesting things in the world, the boys answer was coming to me like a parrot in a shop. "Yes, dad, but where did my sister come out?"

We found the elevator and I allowed him to push the button. At leas the would have that to keep him busy, even if it was only for a short while. An elderly lady stepped in there with us and pushed for the thirteenth floor. Our destination was the sixteenth. She nodded her head friendly towards the children and me.

"What lovely children you have,” she smiled as the elevator started moving. If she only knew the hell, that kid had been pulling me through, I thought to myself, men of course I didn´t say anything.

"Are they your own?" she suddenly asked, "Well, I probably shouldn´t ask, but these days parents are getting older and older, so when you see such a fine young man with two children, you really never know, do you?"

I suppose she was right. It was a bit unusual having two, no three children at the age of 26 and 28.
"Yes, they are mine. We are on our way to say hello to our new little sister," I responded and hoped in the bottom of my heart, that the pending question of the boy could at least wait till we left the elevator and the lady behind us.

But alas, I was terribly mistaken.
"Dad! " He was almost jumping up and down like a mad man. "Please answer, I want to know!"
I did nothing and decided to pretend I didn´t hear it. One thing was answering such an embarrassing question but answering it in front of strangers was a completely different matter.

As it turned out, it was a bad choice, because now the lady looked at me with an even bigger smile than before.

"So, we are a little impatient, are we? " she said, "Well, I can certainly understand that. It´s not every day you get to greet a new citizen in this world."
I was just about to give her some indifferent, but polite answer, but the boy was much quicker.

"NO! " he yelled, "I want to know now, dad!"

At first, the lady was taken by surprice at this outburst, but then, for reason above my comprehension, she decided to lend me a helping hand. Bending slightly forward towards the boy; as much as she could without falling with cane and handbag and all; she saw him directly in the eyes and asked the one question that would open the gate to everlasting pain and embarrassment.

"Well, my little friend," she said, "What is it you want to know?"

Oh, no! I quietly dreamed my way to the bottom of a wooden box with the lid firmly fastened by nails and with a sign on it saying: ”Caution, live animals” and another sign stating an address in Timbuktu. Instead, I had to wake up right there at the front gate of hell to a question demanding an answer here and now, before things got even more out of hand.

"Alright! Alright!” I almost shouted, ”She got out of mums vagina, then! Are you satisfied now?”

It seemed as if time came to a complete halt and the only sound you could hear was the lady´s mouth morphing from a big open smile to the most sour chicken rump mouth I have ever witnessed.

The girl in my other hand suddenly woke up at the sound of a word she recognized. She let go of my hand, pulled up in her skirt and down went her diper and stockings all the way to her anckles.
"gina," she said while pointing to her ”you-now-what” absolutely thrilled by recognition and smiling at the lady as if she had just won the world championship in some popular sport.

Too much for the elderly lady she decided that she wasn´t getting of at the thirteenth floor anyway. Instead, she jumped off as the elevator stopped at the eleventh floor and the doors opened. With a surpricing agility she squeezed herself in between two mentally handicapped men, who were cheering my daughter on clapping their hands and shouting ”hurray” apparently thinking she was very clever.

I kidnly asked them if they could wait for the next elevator and luckily they accepted with a smile and a ”have a nice day.” As sson as the doors closed, I pulled up stockings and dipers and downed the skirt.
During all of this my son hadn´t said anything, but even though I didn´t see his face, I was struck by a hurricane of his thoughts ramming into my brain stem about how hopeless his father was. And then it came. Like a fist in my guts almost taking away my breath.

"I know dad!” he said, ”But where? Was it at home or here at the hospital???"