August Goals

Checking in on my August goals, I see a number of them are left over from June, let alone July. Sigh. It’s been that kind of summer. I have made some progress on many of them, but between Tombstone Blues editorial and dealing with some bureaucracy and financial planning issues, July was not as productive as I’d hoped it would be.

So, how’d I do:

  • Keep writing Thunder Road Book 3: This time I’m aiming for at least 60000 words in the manuscript by month end.
  • Polish the first short story I wrote in May. It’s set in the Thunder Road ‘verse and takes place just after the first book. No Ted in this story. I’m playing around with some minor characters. Who doesn’t like dwarf women kicking ass?
  • Finish drafting the second short story I started. Another one set in the Thunder Road ‘verse. Another one without Ted. I’ve written a story with this character before, and love the voice (Hopefully you’ll all be able to read that one soon!). These first 2000 words feel more like the beginning of a new novel, but I think I can make it work as a short story.
  • Write a short story for the Innsmouth Free Press “Wings” special issue.
  • I haven’t written any “Loki’s Guide to Norse Mythology” blog posts in a while. I have two on deck that I’ve been meaning to get to.
  • Attend the kick ass launch of ChiSeries Winnipeg Wednesday July 17th, at McNally Robinson. I am the co-organizer of this along with the Tiny Godzilla of Winnipeg’s YA scene (AKA the awesome and talented Samantha Beiko) and it’s been a long time coming, but we’re finally there! We’ll have readings from David AnnandaleAndrew Davidson, and Sierra Dean.

While that’s not a lot crossed off, progress was made on all fronts. I did keep working on Tombstone Blues, though I doubt I made it to 60K, I won’t know until I finish transcribing my notebooks, and I’m about 80 handwritten pages behind on that (and not all of it is Tombstone Blues, either). I managed one edit pass on my first short story on the list, but it’s not done yet. I drafted a story for “Wings”, unfortunately, I didn’t get it in shape for the deadline, but I still like the story, and I think I can do something with it. I posted one of the two Loki’s Guide blogs (Jormungandur), and the second (Ymir) should be showing up soon.

So here’s my goals for August (what’s left of it anyway):

  • Keep writing Thunder Road Book 3. No word count goal, this time afraid. I need a win.
  • Catch up transcribing my handwritten notes.
  • Polish the first short story I wrote in May. It’s set in the Thunder Road ‘verse and takes place just after the first book. No Ted in this story. I’m playing around with some minor characters. Who doesn’t like dwarf women kicking ass?
  • Polish the short story formerly meant for the Innsmouth Free Press “Wings” special issue.
  • Write my Loki’s Guide to Ymir blog post.
  • Write up a blog post or two about my time at the Icelandic Festival in Gimli.

Write on!

Loki’s Guide to Norse Mythology: Jormungandur

I’ve always loved the Midgard Serpent. Even when I admired Thor more than I did Loki.

There was something powerful about a creature that was so vast it could encircle the world that spoke to then very tiny me. Even considering I grew up in a small town, and it was a great many years before I could fathom just how vast our world was, I knew Jormungandur was big. And even now, when every I leave my little corner of the world and travel somewhere new, I am amazed by what I see.

Or…maybe I just liked Jormungandur because he was a dragon (or a sea serpent, as Loki insists to Ted in Thunder Road).

Jormungandur was fated to kill Thor, but he was also fated to be killed by Thor. There are three stories of these two enemies that are commonly told, (There’s one of those magic numbers in Norse myth!) and I love them all. In one, the giant Utgard-Loki (no relation to Loki-Loki) tricks Thor by disguising the Midgard Serpent as a cat, and challenges the god of thunder to lift the beast. Thor does manage to get one of the cat’s feet off the ground–and considering Jormungandur’s size beneath that illusion, that is an impressive feet of strength. In another of the tales, Thor goes fishing with the giant Hymir and after catching two whales and Thor remaining unsatisfied, they head deeper out into the ocean. Eventually, Thor hooks Jormungandur with a hook baited with an ox-head (the head of Hymir’s largest ox, nice guy, that Thor). Before Thor can kill Jormungandur with Mjölnir, a terrified Hymir cuts the line and the Serpent sinks back into the sea. Third, and finally, is the meeting of serpent and god at Ragnarök. Thor does manage to kill Jormungandur here, but its kind of a bitter victory. Jormungandur’s breath is poison, and Thor stumbles nine steps to his death (there’s that other magic number in Norse myth).

That should have been the end of the Midgard Serpent (and Thor) but I had other plans. Since I cheated Ragnarök and kept Loki alive, I thought Loki would have told his children how to escape their dooms as well, and in Thunder Road, Jormungandur lives on, making his primary residence in one of Manitoba’s largest lakes.

Dragons exist in pretty much every myth and culture in some form or another that I’ve ever read about. And as the vikings were a seafaring culture, I’m hardly surprised that their biggest and baddest dragon (sea serpent) lived in the ocean. The first images that I ever saw of the Midgard Serpent, like most of my first images of mythology, came from D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths, followed quickly by pictures (and gaming statistics!) from the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook, Legends and Lore. But it was Walt Simonson that drew one of the most kick ass World Serpents I’ve ever seen:

Thor380Jormungandur

(In fairness, Simonson did kick ass renditions of all of the creatures of Norse myth)

In addition to my childhood love of Norse myth, I developed an obsession with Scotland in my teen years (I blame Highlander). But in addition to wanting to run around in a kilt swinging a claymore or lochaber axe (and trying to develop a taste for scotch long before my palette was ready) I also wanted to look for the Loch Ness Monster. There were also Champy, Ogopogo and all the other lake monsters rumoured to exist throughout the world. It was a long time before I heard of Manitoba’s own resident monster, Manipogo though.

To some degree, I owe the existence of Thunder Road to Jormungandur. One of the first short stories I ever started after deciding to pursue writing seriously was one imagining that all sightings of lake monsters and sea serpents around the world, were in fact, Jormungandur. That story didn’t go anywhere, mostly because I never finished it. But there are sentences, even a paragraph or two that were lifted wholesale from that abandoned project and dropped into Thunder Road. Those words remain there, essentially unchanged. Deciding to overlap the Nine Worlds of Norse Mythology and my world, that is a debt I owe a debt to the big guy.

Next up on Loki’s Guide to Norse Mythology: An even bigger guy. The biggest, in fact. Ymir, the primordial frost giant!

The Return of Loki’s Guide to Norse Mythology

loki's guide Loki

The most difficult part of writing the Loki’s Guide entries, is not coming up with the trickster’s snark, but putting it in the correct order. When it was determined to put a glossary of Norse myth into Thunder Road, I decided that it wasn’t worth writing if it was only information that the readers could get from Wikipedia. Instead, I wrote the glossary in Loki’s voice, which as most things the trickster puts his hands into, caused a ripple of unforeseen problems.

I’m not sure why I decided to make it stream of consciousness, as if the trickster was telling you things as he thought of them, but I did. And while it’s fun, every time I tweak the order of the telling, I have to tweak the text, which would not be necessary if I’d gone linear.

But then, Loki is not really a linear sort of fellow, is he?

I’ve got a couple of entries to post this month, Ymir and Jormungandur, and then I’ll be gearing up for a bunch of new Loki’s Guide blogs in the fall, when Tombstone Blues releases.

So tell me readers, are there any gods, monsters, or artifacts that I haven’t covered yet and that are crying out to be on the receiving end of some of Loki’s snark?

Loki’s Guide to Norse Mythology: Midgard

The action in Thunder Road takes place on Midgard, the realm of the Nine Worlds in Norse mythology that is the home of humanity. You know, Earth.

But what is it about Earth that makes it so attractive to the gods? Why are they constantly coming down and mucking around with us mere mortals? Maybe they feel that because they made the world, they are entitled to play with it and everyone and everything upon it. Maybe they just want to appreciate a job they felt was well done.

Every mythology has its own creation story for Earth. In Norse Myth, Midgard was formed from the blood and bones of the primordial giant, Ymir, by Odin and his brothers. The gods built a fence from Ymir’s eyebrows at the edge of Midgard to keep the giants from invading the home of men (fences do make for good neighbours, after all). Surrounding Midgard was a great, impassable ocean that became the home to Loki’s son, Jormungandur, AKA the Midgard Serpent, a being so vast he could circle the world to bite his own tail.

Beyond Midgard are the other eight worlds in Norse myth; Jötunheim, realm of the giants; Alfheim, realm of the elves; Asgard, home to the Aesir gods; the underworld of Hel, named for Loki’s daughter, among them. With these realms and more to choose from, why have Thunder Road start out on boring old Earth, let alone in Manitoba?

No fence, no matter who built it, can keep everything out. If you get a couple hours north of Winnipeg you can hide anything–we still have wilderness. Manitoba has lake serpent sightings, sasquatch sightings, numerous reported hauntings. If you look at our folklore, the monsters are already here.

Then there is Manitoba’s large community of people of Icelandic descent. Manitoba has a rural municipality named Bifrost, Bifrost also being the name of the rainbow bridge that connected Midgard to Asgard. In the myths, Gimlé, also known as Gimli, is the place where the survivors of Ragnarök are said to live; “the most beautiful place on Earth”. I’m sure folks who summer at their cottages in Gimli, Manitoba would agree.

So I had lots of reasons to write about “boring old Earth”, but that doesn’t mean the story will always stay there.