Like Vikings and High Fantasy? Read My Short Story Below

Next Saturday, I am speaking on Worldbuilding at the Breathe Writers Conference. Worldbuilding is what makes our nominal worlds believable.

Normally, worldbuilding happens below the surface like the unseen portion of an iceberg, propping up a story. The reader never gets to see most of these writings, just feel their influence on the story. Today I pull back this veil for a moment.

This is a short story I wrote to help me understand the mythology of a people in the second book of my fantasy series. I don’t normally write with this tone but this people group has a rich oral tradition.

Imagine this story presented by an elder in the heart of the darkest winter around the warm fire of a viking-esque longhouse.


A Long Dark Winter

It happened during the Long Winter. The longest yet and the longest still. Your grandfather was just a boy, barely tall enough to carry a Gungnir. Winter was colder then. Snow deeper too. Not long had Daleheim been settled and the stones for Olof Tower had been hewn but not laid.

At that time a son was borne to the Great King Adolphur. That night, the torches of Daleheim burned bright fighting back the endless dark of winter. Mead was poured generously and the people were warmed in body and spirit. Adolphur named him Litill Madur for he was strong even as boy, and was soon numbered among men.

As Madur grew, he braved the wintry passes of the mountains for game and even crossed the frozen river Hvita. It was then he noticed the fair Bloma, and she him.

They were pledged to be married when It came. Our people were not prepared. A fell winter descended from the mountain peaks and stayed until summer. The cold brought snow and the snow brought death. Sheep and mountain goats died in numbers not seen since but not from the tempest. For the weather brought more than biting cold, ice and snow. It brought them. It brought the Vargr.

The day before their marriage Bloma and her servant Ivana went to the wood at the foot of Mount Teldor in search of white crocuses. The day grew dark and Bloma sent Ivana to fetch lanterns and men to watch over them. When Ivana returned she came upon a scene of great struggle. Dirt and brush had been cast about the snow and all that remained of Bloma was a single patch of her dress soaked in blood.

Just then Madur returned from a three day march in the mountains in search of game for the wedding feast. When he heard of what happened he was struck mute with grief and despair. He fell to his knees and stared at the scene and did not move.

In time, a darkness beyond pain and anger filled him. Then, to mock his anguish, their came a great high-pitched cry as if the beast laughed from afar. The cry roused Madur and he took up his Gungnir, bade his hunting party stay, and ventured forth into the dark.

When the king heard of what had occurred he took his Gungnir, went to the edge of the wood and waited. The hunting party requested permission to enter the dark foot of Mount Teldor in hopes of finding Madur, however, King Adulphur forebode it as this would not honor Madur’s quest.

Days passed.

King Adulphur did not speak. He refused food and drink. No one spoke but instead stood by their King in deafening silence.

On the ninth day, a commotion was heard from the pine wood and from beneath the shadow of an evergreen tree came Madur. He was covered in dirt and wounded unto death. In his arms he carried Bloma. She was dead. Slung over his back was the head of a creature unknown to them.

Madur laid his bride on the cold, hard earth.

‘The beast took her to the far north toward the Forbidden Wall. These creatures live there in great numbers.’ He told them no more. Instead, he lay down next to his love, joined hands with her, and breathed his last.

The king was overcome and wept. He looked at the head of the beast. It had the look of a fey wolf, but the size of a bear. He gazed at it for a long time before taking it in his hands and marching to the foundation of Olof Tower. King Adolphur placed it there, next to the cornerstone.

The people of Daleheim gathered round and the king spoke.

He told them of his son’s deed and love for Bloma. He then decreed for this beast to be hunted to extinction. If any boy should be called a man, he must claim such a prize as the head of this beast, this Vargr.

In a months’ time, the Great King Adulphur died during a hunting quest of his own.

Thus began the coming-of-age hunt for the Vargr and the end of the line of the Daleheimian Kings.




Have You Taken Inventory Of Your Life Lately?

A client called me the other day. From the other end of the line I was told the most heart wrenching story I’ve heard in some time.

He told me he and his wife built a business together. They put off vacations and holidays knowing they could go later or sell the business and live off the profits. Then one day she left the office to run a quick errand. She’d be right back.

Oma's Old Telephone

Soon afterward, several cars and a semi crashed on a local highway. There was one fatality.

He told me something I hope stays with me for a long time. He said, “Go home and hug your wife, your kids. You never know when they’ll be gone. Cherish them.”

It’s these conversations that make me take inventory.

Am doing too much work and neglecting those I love? Am I working overtime to buy that thing I want? Does it matter?

Then finally, is my life rich and full, exactly how I want it to be? Not in a selfish sense. But if I am writing too much and not paying attention to my kids, this is a problem.

There is a famous quote by a Isaac Asimov that goes like this –

“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.”

I think that’s rubbish. If I had six minutes to live I’d reach out to those I love and tell them about love and joy, using the best sentences I could construct. If I could not reach them, I’d write a quick letter on a notepad.

Today, think about what you’d do differently. I’m not talking about that thing you did yesterday or last month. I’m talking about right now.

Are you loving people in your life? And are you living well or just getting by?

To My Wife On Her Birthday

My Wife and I took our first date on a golden fall day, right around this time, thirteen years ago. I love fall. The harvest time with cider, fairs, hayrides, pumpkins, the change of the leaves and crisp mornings with ground covered in dew.

To me it makes perfect sense that I fell in love with my wife, and do each year, in Autumn.

Hold my hand

When we got married, over ten years ago, my love affair with writing had yet to begin. But, six months into our marriage, I was taken with words. All these years later I am doing what I am doing because of her and I’ll tell you why.

I used to give up easily. I used to search for something I lost in the house with little effort. If something was hard I would give up or just try later. She would tell me often, in her kind and gentle way, to not give up. I still have yet to give up on this adventure.

I know you’ll read this today Cindy. You are my biggest supporter and my most encouraging friend.

In writing and in every aspect of my life you are steady and I admire that strength everyday. I see it with your unending patience with our three kids (and with me all the while being eight months pregnant!). You inspire me to be better and want to grow and serve this family well.

Thank you for listening to my late night rants about words, books, and conferences. Thank you being understanding even when I am a little (or a lot) crazy. But most of all thank you for believing in me even when I don’t believe in myself.

I love you.

Happy birthday.

Top Five Podcasts For The Writer And Entrepreneur

As a writer, I’m drained daily and I’m always on the look out for a fresh angle and new content to inspire me. Lately, this inspiration has come from podcasts.

Writing time is precious and I find I either have time to read or time to write each day, never both. This means I have to expose myself to new ideas in the cracks of life.

I listen to podcasts as I mow the lawn, drive to work, and quickly eat my lunch at work. It’s a time to be presented with new ideas so I don’t stagnate and keep rising.

Here are the top five podcasts I enjoy. They are mostly nonfiction and focused on writing as a sustainable business but also on the creative process. This can be a strange balance as an artist.

One – The Accidental Creative Podcast. This is about creativity, innovation, and doing brilliant work per the description. It’s updated about once a week.

Two – This Is Your Life With Michael Hyatt. Michael Hyatt is the former president and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. If you are looking to become a professional blogger you need to follow this guy. Updated about once or twice a week.

Three – The Portfolio Life With Jeff Goins. This is similar to Michael Hyatt’s and is non-fiction. I live in fictional worlds (of my books) and hearing how Jeff went from blogger to professional is inspiriting. Updated about once a week.

Four – Simple Life Habits with Jonathan Milligan. Jonathan is the founder if Blogging Your Passion. I’ve interacted with him on Twitter and he’s a super nice guy. He’s in the Jeff Goins breed where he went from a day job to professional writer/speaker through blogging.

Five – 10x Talk With Joe Polish And Dan Sullivan. I listen to this because it is challenging. It’s business related and that “b” word can be dirty for writers.

But for me, if I ever launch an e-book  or traditionally publish I want to have ideas for getting my work into the marketplace. I think that is the biggest difficulty we writers face upon publication. This is a podcast about growing your business 10xs from savvy entrepreneurs. Updated once a weekish.

If you listen to them, share what you think. If you enjoy a podcast that is not on the list, please post it in the comments section below.

Want more of Part-Time Novel? Follow me on Twitter @parttimenovel 

Writer -Let’s Go. Moving Out Of The Mucky Middle

The beginning and the end of writing a novel each has their own separate energy. In the beginning, we have the thrill of the new idea and fresh words on the page. We have the joy of saying we are a writer!

The end? We see the finish line. It’s no longer some vague hoped for ending over the distant hills. We can see it.

What about the middle? This is a place of wallowing, where books go to die. This is where novels unravel, life happens, and we just stop moving.

How do we get out of this? How do we keep going when we know the road ahead is still long, our ideas might not be worth anything and above all, we are tired.

Bubbling Mud

There is no simple answer for this. There is a reason I have three finished novels and umpteen half-written ones.

The main reason I stop is that love is easily lost. When we are in the middle of our work it is much easier to complain because the story has lost its luster and is now more difficult than ever.

Difficulty gets a bad reputation. Because something is hard, that may be the very reason to go after it in the first place.

The next time you find yourself in the mucky middle do what long distance runners do. Write the next ten thousand words. Then the next. Focus on the small, short-term objectives of your story arcs.

Doing this four times is much easier on your mind than trying to get to forty thousand words.

Focus on the next marker, not the end. And above all, keep writing. I promise the work will be worth it in the end.

10 Tips To Cut Out Distractions And Just Write

There are many amazing tools we writers have today. We also have a dozen more hats to wear. Not only are we the author but also the editor, publicist, marketer, and distributor. We have limited time to produce our work and more demands than ever.


Thankfully, the way books get written has been the same since people started writing. We need to put our rears in our chairs and write. Below are ten tips to just write and cut out the clutter.

  1. Have designate social media time and writing time. Separating the two times may be difficult but doing the most important task first means we are always guaranteed to finish out work. Then we can get to the platform building.
  2. Turn off your WiFi. If you don’t allow access to email or internet, you won’t get distracted, hopefully.
  3. Write at a library. Writing at home or coffee shop can be distracting. A library has low traffic and is almost always quiet.
  4. Have time planned out in advance. If you write down your writing time on your calendar it can be a great motivator to actually do it at that time.
  5. Write with pen and paper. I like to do this because there is no chance of wandering. It can be slower, but when I transcribe the words it is usually my first edit, which is a nice process.
  6. Have a designated writing machine. If you have a tablet and desktop and laptop, make one for writing and one for social media. This way you won’t have the social media or other data just the documents you need to write.
  7. Take breaks. This seems counter intuitive but I can only be productive for short bursts and not hours. Sometimes I write for forty five minutes and then go fold some laundry.
  8. Reward yourself. The same as number 7 but with a good twist. Your break is a snack or walk in the woods. Maybe just being quiet with a cup of coffee.
  9. Have a word count goal. Write 1000 words in a sitting. Then get to whatever it is you need to get done.
  10. Set a timer. The Pomodoro method is one example. Write for twenty minutes then take a five minute break. All using a timer. This helps me focus on writing time and break time when it comes and I do not tax my mind too much.

Do you have techniques that help you “just write” and stay focused? Please share below!

MY Writing Update

Writing time is precious. Using it well and not getting lost on social media sites and email is important if you want to have daily traction in your work.

This past week I tried to balance that as I battled to keep my unread emails under 100. The good news is I finished my goal of writing a blog and 1000 words a day on my YA novel. If you were waiting for an email from me now you know why I was such a jerk and did not respond!


On Monday, I revealed a hilarious typo I did on my 7000 words in a week challenge. Click here to see what I wrote and why I think it’s wonderful to laugh at yourself and not worry what the internet might think.

Writing a book can be a taxing thing, especially when we have a full life. On Tuesday, I asked if writing gives you joy or sucks the life out of you. It was my most popular post this week. Click here to read.

If you’ve been writing for a while and just feel like you are going no where, click here to read Wednesday’s post. I ask the question – What Do You Need To Take Your Writing To The Next Level?

If you are alive and not a zombie, sooner or later a life challenge will arise. A birth, a job change, a illness, etc. Click here to read What To Do When Life Happens To Your Book.

Self-Publishing carries with it the thrill of entrepreneurialship and for some, the stigma of typo-riddled garbage. Click here to read the discussion of Would You Self-Publish, Why Or Why Not? 

Saturday’s post was my pat on the back. I apologize if you feel I bragged but I was proud I wrote a blog a day and 1000 words a day on my book. At work it was the last full week of the fiscal, we had two of my daughters birthdays, a big birthday party, and had family in from out of town.

This was somehow balanced with a forty hour work week, sleep, and spending time with family. Okay brag over. Click here to read the completion of the My Novel Recomit 7000 words in 7 days challenge. 

If you are struggling with your book know that writing does not come easily. The muse is like a cat and shows up when they want to show up. Our job is to be there consistently and give that occasional magic the opportunity to be applied to the page.

7000 Words In 7 Days Completed

When I announced I was going to do a My Novel Recommit challenge to get back to writing every day again, I didn’t realize I’d selected one of the busiest weeks I’ve had in a while at home and at work to do it.

But I did it. 7012 words in 7 days.

Photo Credit: ®DS via Compfight cc

Many days I wrote until 1230am was up in the middle of the night with kids and then up at 630. It was rough. In the middle I knew I couldn’t do it. In the end I powered through. It’s always a thrill to meet a deadline.

If you joined me in the challenge, thank you. You helped me stay accountable. Special thanks to Maria Berg for competing.

I am going to put the books on the backburner for the next two weeks as I finish the preparations on my talk at the Breathe Writers Conference on Worldbuilding. I’ll tell you more about it later.

What I learned the most from this writing challenge is that no matter the tools or limited time that you have you must keep writing. That is the one and only key to being a writer and for some reason its the hardest thing to do.

I hope you find sometime this weekend to write. Create a challenge or be ready when I put another one up on my blog next month.


Would You Self -Publish? Why Or Why Not?

I first heard about the book The Martian on a list of books being made into movies in 2015. I loved it. Andy Weir wrote a thriller, memoir, and comedy all in one. I’d recommend the book to anyone. Then I heard it was self-published first and then picked up by a big publisher.

I was shocked.


Self-publishing certainly carries a stigma. Unless you have a huge following and already tested your idea, it can be extremely difficult to cut through the clutter and sell your work, even if you’ve done the diligence of paying for great editing and formatting services. Believe or not, many famous authors have done this. And they have been successful too.

Question And Caveat

Only if I’ve edited, had honest feedback, and built an enormous audience would I self-publish. Why? Because I want to be both proud of my work and give it the best chance to get in the hands of readers. Some would approach it differently and that is why I turn to you.

How about you? Have you self published or are you considering that? Would you ever consider it?

What To Do When Life Happens To Your Book

No matter how fool proof our daily word count goals or writing plans are, life will eventually have something to say about them. There will be a cold, a job loss, a move, a season of melancholy. Something will happen to stop progress.

Maybe you are stopped now?

Photo Credit: shumpei_sano_exp3 via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: shumpei_sano_exp3 via Compfight cc

I know when a significant life event happens to me I curl inward. I read more, try to get time by myself, and journal. These are all good things. But you know what I don’t do? Keep writing!

I like to be serious about my work but I am no drill sergeant. But the fact of the matter is that I’ve stopped writing before because of something challenging that I knew was coming. If I’m honest, a hand full of times I’ve simply thrown in the towel instead of rising to meet it a challenging time in my schedule.

I view the routine interruption as a disruption rather than an opportunity to show my commitment the craft.

But how do you show commitment to your body of work when something interrupts your schedule? You prepare in advance.

Just like a dieter running into a tempting cupcake, we need to be ready when life events occur and say that we will not give up ahead of time. (Granted some we cannot prepare for and we need a break. It’s just that simple.)

Make up your mind right now. You won’t stop because of that wedding, job change, or move. You’ll be ready to write no matter what.

Meet the challenging time head on. Circle it in your calendar and don’t allow a life hiccup to derail you.