Viking’s and Romance

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If a Viking man spouted poetry to a love interest, he could lose his life. Why? As with everything about the Vikings, there is only tantalizing little clues. Through the Poetic Edda, an oral history that wasn’t written down until the 13th century, we see glimpses of everyday life. It has been speculated this rule was to keep men from falsely leading a maiden on. Or possibly it wasn’t considered manly for a Viking warrior to spout soft words of love.

Most Viking marriages were arranged much like a modern company merger. There were strict rules about property and how the bride’s dowry would be dispersed. Viking women had more rights and freedoms than any of their counterparts at that time in history. This would have been due to their traveling husbands. Viking men were traders, leaving in the spring and wandering all summer long while the world was ice free. The return rates weren’t all that great back then. Between the dangers of ship travel, diseases in foreign lands, and raiding, a Viking man might never return.

So the Viking woman ran things at home. She had to oversee the livestock, production of crops and profit. While she was at it, she also prepared meals and made things for around the house. There was no local Wal-Mart to help out. It was a tough life. For this reason, all land inheritance was usually passed down through the woman.

With various gods, traditions, and superstitions, a marriage ceremony usually lasted on average, nine days. The Vikings had a thing about the number nine. There was drinking and feasting of course, along with rituals to entice the gods to give fertility, wealth and health. Quite often family swords were exchanged, and proof given that the marriage was consummated.

Another interesting concept − Viking woman could divorce easily. All she had to do was stand next to the bed shared with her husband and in front of three witnesses, simply say out loud three times, “I divorce thee.” Yup, it was that easy. Maybe that is why the men treated their women so well.

While monogamy was practiced, it wasn’t set in stone. If the man was lusty and wealthy enough, and his wife agreed to it, he could take a second wife. It was nothing to own several slaves as well. In fact, he was encouraged by his loving wife, to have a slave for copulation during her later months of pregnancy.

What of possible bastard offspring? Those long summer days did get a little lonely while Olaf was gone. Unfortunately, if a woman conceived while her husband was away, he had the right to deny feeding or clothing any offspring. When a baby was born, if the head of the household did not claim it on the ninth day, the baby was ‘exposed,’ meaning it was left to die in the forest.

The Vikings liked to keep things simple.

(For More Information on the Viking Culture and Customs please check out  http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/)

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A Journey Completed

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The first time I actually immersed myself in a romance novel I felt like I was eavesdropping on people who were falling in love, and it started an addiction.

I prefer a character-driven historical romance. The birds and bees operation of making babies is great, but I like to get to know the characters and what makes them tick. Learning their faults, strengths and wondering how they are ever going to get together with all the problems in the way. I love learning the history of the time and seeing it through their eyes.

For years, as I dreamed of writing my own stories. I had one story that was the most persistent of the brood of ideas. I’ve always been fascinated by the Viking people, back before it became cool. I thought a Viking historical romance would be awesome.

As with all of this writing stuff, I have found I’m quite naïve. Ever wondered how you go about writing a historical novel? They say write what you know for a reason. It is hard to describe something you have never seen or done.

I’ve studied the subject of Vikings and their history, and it seemed easy enough. Throw in a few Viking sounding names, and a few sword fights and you have it. Right?

I found it harder to do the research than the actual writing. First, you need to find a time period. Then, you have to find out what was the political climate, who was in charge. Kings? Dictators? Governments? What battles were going on?

Once you determine how that fits into your plot, then you decide on names. Of course, they need to be period correct if you want an actual historical feel to it. Then there is religion, customs, foods, and daily living. What were their tools called? What was the wildlife they would be eating? Since it is set in Norway I was surprised to find they had different flora and fauna than, of course, someplace like North America, where I’ve lived all my life.

Next, there is clothing. Did they make it? Where did they get the materials? What were their houses like? The weather? Oh, wait! Are there different time zones and climates than where I live?  What were the names of the towns of that time? Did you know that Selby, England was called Seletun in the Viking times? Or what is now York, was called Eoforwic? How do you pronounce them? How long did it take them to get across the North Sea? What were their trading routes?

My favorite was the day I had to actually Google, “How to Curse in Norse.” I found they didn’t use our short little words. Nope, they made insults an art form. Actually, entertainment called “flyting!” No joke. One of my favorite lines, “You are a drinker of sheep piss,” has entertained me for hours!

I’m deathly afraid of water. Traveling by boat is not something I ever want to do. I found it humorous I was going to have to learn about boats because that was the Vikings main mode of transportation. How fast were the ships? What were they built of? How were they designed? How many people could fit on one? How did they do long sea crossings? What did they eat? The questions are endless and so were the books and videos I perused to learn about it.

At first, when I started out, I would write one sentence and then spend the next hour looking up history or spellings. I have since gotten into the swing of things. I have built quite an organized research set-up. I learned to write out the scene and star the things I need to go back and check out. Then insert facts and figures later on. That went much smoother. I found it hard to break out of my little world of the past, to go to the local grocery store for food, after I’ve spent a half hour explaining how they cut up and cooked reindeer, or prepared lutefisk from dried fish.

Now, the journey is complete. The editing, beta reading, and formatting are done. Norse Hearts is ready to be printed and go out into the world. After all this time living with Einar, Seraphina, Dagfinn and Jarl Roald, I feel like I’m saying goodbye to a family. I am nervous about their debut and I hope they will entertain all of you as much as they entertained me.

For you, I hope when you are done reading it you will have laughed, cried, worried, fallen in love and become an expert on the Viking life of 760 AD.  And enjoyed the journey so much you can’t wait for the next Viking epic, Assassin Hearts.

One thing for certain, I feel sorry for my High School History teacher and how hard she tried to teach me history. I have far more respect for her. If she was around to read this book, I know I would have impressed her and received an A!

Look for the release of Norse Hearts at the following links:

Facebook   https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRobynnGabel/

Author Website   http://www.robynngabel.com/

Amazon Author Page   http://www.amazon.com/author/robynngabel

Twitter   https://twitter.com/relpud

Instagram   https://www.instagram.com/robynngabel/

Goodreads   https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/79722706-robynn-gabel

 

To Leave or Not to Leave Facebook

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Should you leave Facebook? I would say no. The milk has already been spilled. And if you think that your personal information hasn’t gotten out before this, if not on Facebook, it has somewhere else. Especially if you have kids, you know firsthand you have no privacy!

With all the social media, apps, email, and internet churning out there, unbeknown to you and me, more information than we ever thought was possible has been gleaned from thousands of clicks and site visits.

In this wild west of exploding technology, where your smartphone is outdated the minute you buy it, how can anyone still believe in the illusion of privacy? When the first computer was created the cat was out of the box.

Think about it. We have mountains of literature and forward-thinking people who have warned us that once a system was created to accumulate data we no longer had a private identity.

We have lost individuality and have been reduced to a number. Starting at the moment of birth we are tagged with a Social Security number. Even the Greeks coined a common saying that covers this. We have opened Pandora’s Box.

No, leaving Facebook is more like closing the barn door after the horse has gotten out. You must use all social media with a bit of common sense. Take precautions in what you are saying. Facebook is a good tool. But like everything else it has its good and its bad. I got started on Facebook all because they had a free game. Who can forget the addiction to Farmville? I have collected pictures, connected with old friends and made new friends. Reconnected with long lost family and also found out things I never wanted to know about people in general. Yeah, I watched all the political muck that abounds with each election. I’m amazed at the lack of self-control many exhibits publically. But I learned a long time ago not to share or discuss religion, politics and especially not to share family issues.

But this electronic meeting place is no different than what humans have been doing since the dawn of time. It’s what we used to do in small towns off of front porches or at the corner drug store. Now it’s just on a universally grander scale. Gossip, share and talk. We get to see the worst and best of humanity in electronic gluttony.

Like any superpower, you can use Facebook for the power of evil or good. I personally like the ease of being able to stay in contact with people and learn new things. And a wise man said, believe nothing of what you read and only half of what you hear.

The silly thing is, we have never had privacy. We just hid things better before Facebook came along. The only way you are going to be able to protect your privacy is to go off the grid and live like a hermit.

Beware the Writing Contest

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Some might think I’m writing this because I’m an envious, disillusioned writer who has entered countless contests and never won.

Nah, though I have entered book contests, several creative writing contests, and numerous club site contests. I’m happy to say I’ve won a couple contests here or there. Sadly, it didn’t give me any more confidence as a writer.

So first warning, if you are basing the measure of your work by the contest you are entering,  it isn’t going to help, especially if you never win. If you do win, it is fleeting at best and the doubts just grow bigger. So just write because you like writing.

Second warning, if you must enter a writing contest just because you are a competitive person, I would suggest only entering contests where you don’t have to pay to enter. There seems to be just a few around these days, but they do exist.

“Why?” you might ask.  Well, let me share something I discovered. I was doing my taxes and as a writer, I was told I could add in my expenses for the money I paid into contests. You know, the ones where they say “send us your book – you must pay the postage – we won’t be returning it unless you pay for return postage – we won’t tell you anything about what the judges think about your book – and we want you to pay us to enter.” Yeah, those contests.

In one year I had spent five hundred on this venture, with no return. No wonder the government wanted to give me a break on taxes, they felt sorry for me. Either way, I started doing a little math. Yeah, this is going to be a word problem in math and I know these confuse you, but hang in there with me, okay?

Let’s say the contest is asking for a book. You discover you meet all the criteria. You have written a massive novel well over 80,000 words. You have paid a fortune for “kick-rear-end” cover art.  You even did your due diligence and got not only a copy editor but a proofreader.  You paid a few beta readers and paid to print or get ARC copies.  You have rave reviews. And lo and behold, you are a first-time author with no large group of dedicated readers clamoring for your new book.

Of course, you may have thrown all you have into social media, launch parties, cover reveal and still your book seems to languish. It is only logical that maybe a little bragging right on the contests you win might make it more appealing to the reader. Maybe you feel it gives you a little more notoriety in the world of books.

Whatever your drive, you have to also spend the entry fee. You and about five hundred other hungry piranha’s.

I don’t know, it’s just my opinion here, but I can’t figure it into my budget.  I can see it in the advertising book contest’s budget though.  They do none of the work.  They don’t pay postage return, no critique, or any solid feedback for your hundred bucks. You get nothing in return except a slim hope. And if you don’t win, you don’t even get that. In fact, (I hope I’m way off base here) I worry about exactly who gets to have all those cast -off copies of those books. So if there are 500 entries at hundred bucks a pop, well do the math. Who is getting what?

So, what is an aspiring writer to do?

I would recommend a blog. One I have mined gazillions of free advice from and that is:  https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com

This blog is always sharing the latest news in the publishing world.  I love the input from so many willing to share their success/failure stories. Take for instance the solid advice on how blogging helps build your skill as a writer and helps build a reader base for any books you put out. Or how Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, Smashwords, Amazon, etc., help build your social platform. There are articles about Kindle stats, programming and changes. Or editing advice, writing advice, and story development. You name it; it’s all there for absorption on how to become a better writer.

As an author who dabbles in writing books, I have gained from doing all of the above. Still not selling a ton of books, but I’m happy with my progress and I see a growing readership.  I feel like I have succeeded in doing what I wanted and had fun doing it. I have gained confidence in the writing groups I have joined who have given me consistent feedback that has helped me grow as a writer. It has been finding the best editor in the world who doesn’t hesitate to be dirt honest with me and work with me.

So in short, the moral of this blog is, winning contests mean nothing. Hard work, persistence, a good support system and an exciting new story are the only way you are going to feel confident and sell books.

Are You an Author or a Business?

 

1497472_575485172534149_120350454_nIf you are an independent author and have published a book with hopes of selling copies, you are both an Author and a Business Entity.

Welcome to the world of Indies. It will seem overwhelming at times. Social media platforms, business plans, budgets, advertising, even book signings.

I have collected the following words of wisdom to encourage myself on those down days. I share them with you in the hopes it will help your journey.  Enjoy! Take heart! If they succeeded, you can too!

 

 

“My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself.  I see life almost like one long University education that I never had.  Every day I’m learning something new. ”

Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin brand

“Information flow is the lifeblood of your company because it enables you to get the most out of your people and learn from your customers.” 

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation

“People I work with are open to leadership that has a vision, but this vision has to be communicated clearly and persuasively, and always, always with passion.”

Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop

“I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man or opportunity to make a living.”

John Rockefeller, American philanthropist

“Every decision you make is an important one, whether there are twenty thousand people working for you or just one.”

Donald Trump, Real Estate developer

“My philosophy is that not only are you responsible for your life, but doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.”

Oprah Winfrey, host of the Oprah Show

“When we consider a project, we really study it – not just the surface idea, but everything about it.  And when we go into that new project, we believe in it all the way.  We have confidence in our ability to do it right.”

Walt Disney, founder of the Walt Disney Company

“Success seems to be connected with action.  Successful men keep moving.  They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.”

Conrad Hilton, founder of Hilton hotels

“You have to be open-minded when those early opportunities present themselves. Take advantage of them whether they’re going to make you a lot of money or not.”

Rachael Ray, celebrity Chef and Author

“You can do so much in ten minutes’ time. Ten minutes, once gone, are gone for good.  Divide your life into 10-minute units and sacrifice as few of them as possible in meaningless activity.”

Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA company

“Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, “Make Me Feel important.”  Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.”

Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics

“Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise.  They’re absolutely free and worth a fortune.”

Sam Welton, found of Wal-Mart chain

“What I wanted was to be allowed to do the thing in the world that I did best – which I believed then and believe now is the greatest privilege there is.  When I did that success found me.”

Debbi Fields, found of Mrs. Fields Cookies

“If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.”

Ray Kroc, found of McDonald’s

 

Chapter – Moving On

 

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It is no wonder we write books with chapters.  Life is like a book, broken down into moments of happenings, each leading into the next, until the final end. There are chapters better than others. Sometimes you are reading along and you think, I wouldn’t have written it that way. That’s terrible. Couldn’t it have turned out better?

My individual life story turned very dramatic and sad a few years ago. There was the chapter about happily-ever-after being interrupted by the third bout of cancer for my handsome prince. The chapter about the final courageous battle he fought and didn’t win. And the chapter of aimless wandering in my search of healing. Then the next few chapters were action packed with changes.

The chapter I’m in now, I would like to have written differently, but I’m not the author of this story. I know that I have a direct line to the author, and sometimes I have the choice how the scene may go. But most the time I feel like the unsuspecting character being affected by things outside of my control.

For instance, I just signed on the sale of my house. The house I lived in the longest period in my gypsy style life.  It’s funny how we try to settle down in life. Find that one little spot and put up a white picket fence, expecting to live out our days in wise contemplation. Instead, we forget life is never at rest. It is a journey with changing chapters, some good and some bad.

And the only baggage we get to take with us into the next phase of life after the book has ended, are the memories we have amassed.  I know this deep inside of me, yet I keep trying to slow down and find that one place to call home, to put up my feet and rest awhile and write off that chapter as the end.

Not to be. For the last year, in getting ready for the sale and moving, I have learned this lesson with each treasure I have decided to keep, give to someone or throw away. I had no idea one could collect that much stuff in a mere eighteen years! But as I cleaned out one room after another in the house, memories flooded back with each object wrapped and tucked away or put into a trash bin.

I realize now, that a house is just walls that will eventually turn to dust. Just like our bodies will one day. In staying there I am only hoarding memories, not writing new chapters. That is why I collected so many objects that triggered those memories. But when I signed, I walked away from the house I loved with all the memories of living there and interacting with all the family and friends that crossed the threshold. And of course, I was reminded, like any good chapter that you can go back and read over, the most precious thing is going with me. My family and friends

We will gather again somewhere else, and make new memories, and share the old. Like all the trips I have made to other countries and states, there are ups and downs. But I know now this is not my final home. The last chapter will never be written. There is always a new destination and a new existence. We are not meant to be planted and have white picket fences. We are not meant to be stationary but to grow and learn, explore and discover new things about ourselves and the world around us, in this life and the next.

So I say goodbye to the place I thought to live out the rest of my life. It is a bittersweet feeling. But obviously, the book is going on. Life is truly the never-ending story.

Good Morning!

It has been over a year since I have posted a blog. You might be wondering what happened? How or why does one disappear?

I could wax poetic and say I have emerged from the long, dark night that grieving can bring about. Or, I could point out that it has been a crazy three years. But if I was pressured to come up with a simple reason or bring it down to a single word, I would have to simply say, OVERWHELMED.

After my husband passed, I spent a year lost. Then a year re-engaging in life. Then there was the year of getting married again, cleaning out the house, putting it up for sale and rearranging my entire life schedule.

Now things seem to have settled a little, I have found the characters from the last book I wrote demanding to be released into the world by publishing their story. Being so rusty and out of touch with all that it takes to do that, I hired a Life Coach to get me back into shape. So I’m working into the area of marketing, production, social media and just plain organizing.

Interestingly enough, the desire to write has come back as well. I feel like a hermit coming back out into the light of day! Gosh, it’s bright out here!

I hope you will join me as I continue to journey again in the world of the written word.