The Songweaver’s Vow: The Wyrmhole

This entry is part of 7 in the series The Songweaver's Vow: Easter Eggs & Background

Today’s another entry in the Background & Research posts for The Songweaver’s Vow.

When Thor goes to fight Jörmungandr, he seeks the sea-sized serpent at a place he calls the Wyrmhole, baiting him out with a bull cut into quarters. The Wyrmhole is shamelessly based on a real place I visited in Ireland. (Though I saw fewer sea serpents.) Continue reading

Come Write With Me! in Ireland!

vintage travel poster style image of Skellig Michael with text Come Write In IrelandSo we’re closing on the biggest gift-giving occasion of the year, and you don’t know what to get that writer on your list? What about an investment in their writing career? Nothing says love and encouragement and “I believe in you!” like a contribution to their goals. (And reading their work. But that’s much harder to wrap.)

If you are the writer, feel free to leave this page open on a conspicuous monitor or maybe even send a helpful link. Continue reading

Vikings everywhere: Leif Erikson Day

Christian Krohg's painting of Leiv Eiriksson d...

Christian Krohg’s painting of Leiv Eiriksson discovering America, 1893 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By the time you read this, Leif Erikson Day will be over — autumn Sundays are bad with football and election debates and such — but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about it.

Leifr Eiríksson founded a Norse settlement at Vinland in Newfoundland. He was the son of Erik the Red, who founded the first Norse settlement in Greenland, and the grandson of Thorvaldr Ásvaldsson, who discovered Iceland. Exploration and settlement was a family business, it seems, and reunions must have been a heckuva scheduling challenge. Continue reading

Flora & Fauna in Fantasia

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series The Songweaver's Vow: Easter Eggs & Background
Protected example of Common Ash (Fraxinus exce...

Common Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just because a book is a fantasy does not mean it does not require research (and in fact often requires more). Right now I am writing about the plants and animals of Asgard, and I am working to make them as probable as possible.

How do we know what animals lived and what plants grew in a land that never was? We look at where the storytellers lived. The Danes who first told these stories likely based their creatures and plants on the more familiar specimens they knew. Continue reading

Con Recaps! (And some cool news.)

So July was kind of a blur, and the first part of August, but all for very good reasons.

Cong Abbey by night, Celtic crosses and gravesIreland Writer Tours

Long-time blog readers know I blogged about writing in Ireland in 2015, and I went again this year. It’s a great week, full of fabulous touring and inspiration. But I stayed a little longer this year with organizer Fiona Claire to prepare for 2017, when I’ll be co-teaching with the talented Lorie Langdon!

Stay tuned for more information on this, but trust me, it’s going to be amazing. As I said in my newsletterWant to explore a 15th century castle, walk through an impossibly green forest to an ancient waterfall, and climb in the footsteps of both 8th century monks and Luke Skywalker? All while improving your writing craft and exploring your publication options? Continue reading

Dún Aonghasa and Inis Mór

This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series Writing in Ireland

Dún Aonghasa is an ancient circle fort built on Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands. It was probably a complete enclosure at one point, but the cliffs have eroded and collapsed with part of the fort into the sea.

Aerial view of Dún Aonghasa's present structure.

Aerial view of Dún Aonghasa’s present structure.

The cliffs are about 280-300 feet high above the sea and look upon the Irish coast on a clear day, which may have contributed to the choice of location. The site was first enclosed with a more primitive stone wall about 1100 BC, and ultimately it had four concentric stone walls of startling engineering, encompassing about 14 acres of protected area. It also featured a cheval de frise between the third and fourth walls, a field of deliberately placed upright stones meant to seriously impede any charge by an enemy force. Continue reading

Writing in Ireland!

This entry is part 1 of 8 in the series Writing in Ireland

Guess where I am right now? (Or just look at the post title for an easy cheat.) That’s right, I’m back in Ireland! And there’s a contest in this post!

So let’s start with the embarrassing part. I was supposed to leave on Thursday. I drove a leisurely three hours to pick up my friend Kate (K.T. Ivanrest), drove another two hours to the airport, parked, took a shuttle, walked into the terminal, and immediately remembered that my passport was in my kitchen.

That’s right. It’s not that I only discovered my passport was missing when I was asked for it and couldn’t find it, no, my brain was fully aware that I wasn’t carrying it and just neglected to inform me of this important fact at any time prior to entering the actual terminal. Continue reading

Ireland Is For Writers #4: Perfume & Portal Tomb

This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Writing in Ireland

After a full day of writing instruction and discussion with Susan Spann and Heather Webb, we went out for dinner and a pub crawl. I don’t drink much at all, but I figured when in Ireland, do as the Irish do, and so I did have my first whiskey that night, a Bushmills 21 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey. “It’s like butter that’s on fire” was my impression.

weathered stone castle looking over water

Dunguaire Castle

The next day we went out again, stopping briefly to photograph Dunguaire Castle (Caisleáin Dhún Guaire) en route to The Burren. This is a region, now a national park, formed of weathered limestone and the resulting treacherous and sparse landscape. The Burren (Boireann, or “great rock”) is an ancient place, both geologically and anthropologically; there are multiple remnants of ring forts and more than 90 paleolithic tombs. Continue reading