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Yes, but did they SPEND as much on their weddings as we do on ours?

Yes, but did they SPEND as much on their weddings as we do on ours?

OK, peeps –

As you know, in Odin’s End, our Viking hero Rorik captures Adele’s ship, killing the crew and taking her and her monk buddies captive. Obviously, not the most successful of blind dates.

Needless to say, these actions present some serious challenges to Rorik’s and Adele’s later romantic relationship. But there’s also another big challenge. OOPS – Rorik is betrothed. (He must have forgotten to mention it.)

So in researching betrothals, weddings, etc., I came across more wicked cool factoids about marriage in Viking society. Here you go:

  • The potential suitor had to start the negotiations; the father of the girl could never initiate his daughter’s marriage.
  • The woman was totally absent from the negotiations; in fact, frequently marriages were negotiated without the woman’s knowledge. Rarely did the couple meet before the wedding. And as for her approval? Irrelevant.
  • There were two levels of engagement, where the woman was either an “engaged woman” (festarkona) or a “promised woman” (heitkona). The promised woman had to wait for the suitor for 3 years, but after that she’d be available for other suitors.
  • A father couldn’t force his daughter to marry if she wanted to become a nun (OK – so if she can’t stand the guy, she can either marry him or become a nun. That’s one helluva choice!)
  • The marriage was considered legal if 6 witnesses saw the husband go to bed with the wife. (Think of all the weddings you’ve been to – is this something you’d REALLY want to see?)
  • However, this was preceded (thankfully) by a lavish banquet, and the partying lasted for days.
  • Divorce was easy to obtain, and this, combined with men being killed at sea or in battle, and women dying in childbirth, meant that a whole lot of weddings took place. (Wow – the Lifetime Channel could have a whole lot of those “Platinum Wedding” shows.)
  • Another little bit of trivia? The last Catholic bishop in Iceland, Jon Arason, had 6 known children with his acknowledge mistress. (I won’t bother to comment on this one.)

So yeah, Rorik has a problem. He’s betrothed. There are some real consequences if he breaks the engagement. (My, my. He’s offended a family’s honor. And what’re the consequences for that, in Viking culture?) And he’s considering it because of Adele, our heroine who really can’t stand him.

Hmmm….. what’s your average Viking guy going to do?


Skeld_superstitiousOK, peeps – more great news!!!

The notice just went out – Odin’s End took third place in its category (Novel with Strong Romantic Elements) in the Dixie Kane Memorial Contest 2009, sponsored by the Southern Louisiana Chapter of Romance Writers of America.

Just so you know, this contest allowed only the first 5 pages of your story. That’s Chapter 1, parts 1 and 2 here on my blog.

Odin’s End has placed in both of its contests!!! And remember, the verdict is still out on final placement for Indiana’s Golden Opportunity 2009. (Click here to see my earlier ecstatic blogging on finaling in that contest!)

I’ll post the official notice when it’s sent out. Many thanks to my critique partners, Patricia Lewin and Aelle Ables, for kicking me when necessary, and for the patient ladies at the Medieval Fiction Writers group on Yahoo…

And of course, this is yet another victory for Barbarian Hotness!

The 13th Warrior Leads to Twinkie Diplomacy - World Peace Through Twinkies

The 13th Warrior Leads to Twinkie Diplomacy - World Peace Through Twinkies

To prove that truth really is stranger than fiction….

As y’all know, there are a few things I just LUV in life, primarily hunky men, Vikings, writing, and meeting new people all over the world (not necessarily in order, but I assure you that the hunky men DO come first).

So in the last couple of months, I’ve gone from musings about the movie 13th Warrior, to helping out the U.S. State Department with a new strategy called “Twinkie Diplomacy.” Proving that there are, in fact, 6 degrees of separation between anything. So here’s how it went:

  • On Facebook, Dawna joins a fan page dedicated to the movie the 13th Warrior (a film that celebrates Barbarian Hotness, and perfectly satirized by Rod Hilton)
  • On this page, Dawna gets into a drool-fest with another fan about Barbarian Hotness (whom we agreed was Richard Bremmer’s Skeld.)
  • These fans begin discussing additional weighty topics, such as hunky men and (other kinds of) sweeties.
  • Dawna desperately tries to describe the merits of Twinkies. She fails. The fans agree to a swapping of “sweeties.” (Sadly, due to shipping costs, boxes will not contain hunky men.)
  • Texas-originating box will include Twinkies, which are cultural icons in the U.S. Engineering students in Texas even created a page solely based on Twinkie experiments.
  • Twinkie Diplomacy  commences. World Peace Through Twinkies!!!

So there you have it. From The 13th Warrior to Twinkie Diplomacy. Don’t you wish the State Department had thought of it first?

Barbarian Hotness - But (Oh Darn) Not Reality

Barbarian Hotness - But (Oh Darn) Not Reality

 OK, peeps – in my online wanderings, I came across this “oldie” article from National Geographic News.

Y’all know I’m all about Barbarian Hotness (aka “Hunky Viking Men”). So I was more surprised than anybody to find that Viking men filed their teeth (yep, you read it right!) as part of their grooming to render them attractive. Here’s the scoop:

  • Viking men filed their teeth into deep, horizontal grooves
  • These grooves were likely used to recognize some sort of achievement, like participation in a specific battle, or going on a specific journey
  • Sometimes these grooves might have been filled with pigment. (Imagine Barbarian Hotness with some scary-looking jack-o-lantern teeth)

You can read the entire article here at National Geographic News. And there are some cool pics, too. I’m wondering if Viking women really found this hot…. if the men were more marriageable…

So maybe my earlier picture of Flava Flav with his Viking hat and teeth grillz wasn’t so far off….

Barbarian Hotness - Really?

Barbarian Hotness - Really?




viking3OK, peeps – see below for the official announcement from Indiana’s Golden Opportunity 2009 Contest.

Final placement is being determined by category judges. Again, main thing is that Odin’s End didn’t completely reek!!!

And many thanks to all the members of the Dallas Area Romance Authors who’ve sent me their congratulations for finaling – I’m a firm believer in the power of writers writing together!


Congratulations to all our finalists!
Winners will be announced approximately October 18th.  Best of luck to all!

*****Permission to forward*******

Historical Finalists
Judge — Jesse Feldman, NAL

The Yard Man Affair by Jill Stone
and the Heir by Patricia Patton
The Soldier by Patricia Patton

Mainstream Finalists
Judge — Paige Wheeler, Folio Literary Management

Odin’s End by Dawna Rand
Damaged Goods by Barbara Binns
The End at River’s Bend by Cathryn Pritchard

Paranormal Finalists
Judge — Kerry Donovan, NAL

The Story Queen by Joe Fraser
The Chimera Courtships: In Like a Lion by Karin Shah
Darkness Dawns by Leslie Duvall

Single Title Finalists
Judge — Latoya Smith, Grand Central

Once Upon a Margarita by Heidi Luchterhand
Uncivilized by Meghan Murphy
Chocolate Kisses by Kelli Zeiher Riley

Romantic Suspense Finalists
Judge — Megan McKeever, Pocket Books

Degrees of Death by Linda Lovely
Dangerous Choices by Donna Meier
Trail of Secrets by Greta MacEachern

Young Adult Finalists
Judge — Holly Root, Waxman Literary Agency

Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers
Seaside Sorcery by Laurel Wanrow
The Dead Guy Downstairs by Sheri Adkins

Northlanders - Viking Age Crime Saga

Northlanders - Viking Age Crime Saga

A pal of mine forwarded a link to me. Hadn’t heard of it before but thought it sounded way cool. Thought our Viking reenactment people in particular would raise a horn to this one.

Northlanders is a comic/graphic novel series about (according to the creator, Brian Wood) “millennial fears, clash of cultures and the death of the pagan way of life and the relentless march of progress. About one man, a stubborn Norse warrior in massive denial about who he is, reconnecting with the remote lands he grew up in.

And, since this is a book about Vikings, there’s a lot of sex and a lot of death – desperate men locked in shield walls fighting for their land and their lives yard by blood-soaked yard.”

Hey, that’s according to the author. To visit the official Northlanders site, click here. Interested in buying Northlanders online? Click here to go to Khepri Comics, an independent online seller of comics and graphic novels. A bad ass retailer to match the bad ass Vikings.

NORTHLANDERS is a comic book series created and written by Brian Wood, published monthly by DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint. Dave McCaig colors the series, and cover illustrations are by Massimo Carnevale. (I’ve included a bit of his cover art below. Truly awesome!)

Book One, entitled Sven The Returned, is illustrated by Davide Gianfelice.

Book Two, entitled The Cross + The Hammer, is illustrated by Ryan Kelly.

Book Three, entitled Blood In The Snow, is illustrated by Dean Ormston, Vasilis Lolos, Danijel Zezelj, and Davide Gianfelice (due 3/2010)

Some Bad-Ass Northlanders Cover Art

Some Bad-Ass Northlanders Cover Art

I’ve got a comic book store practically around the corner from me – I need to see if they carry it. With these photos and promo, no copyright infringement intended, Brian.

So anyhoos, peeps, go check out the awesomeness of Brian and the rest of the Northlanders creative team!

The Corvette of the XXX
Bad Asses of the North

OK – as most of you know by now, I’ve been involved in heavy nerdism as I research Odin’s End. I know that (technically) the brain can’t feel pain, but mine now challenges that dearly-held notion.

 Our heroine, Adele, and our hero, Rorik, meet at sea in what might be considered unfortunate circumstances. Adele is fleeing Fontevraud Abbey, because, sadly, the new abbess considers her a witch – not to mention a political threat – and wants to roast her at the stake.

 Then  Rorik and his band of Viking bad asses happen upon her ship (which is a medieval cog, by the way), kill all the crew, and take Adele and her monk buddies captive. Ah – how to win friends and influence people.

So I had to look up info on Adele’s and Rorik’s ships, since my only experience with boats of any kind is Celebrity Cruises, or the ones in Amsterdam that take you on a 2-hour all-you-can-drink winefest . Oh yeah, there’s a tour of Amsterdam included in that, not that I ever noticed.

So anyway, what about Adele’s cog and Rorik’s longship? Well, since this is my blog and party, and I LUV  Barbarian Hotness, we’ll start with Rorik’s longship and navigation. Some basics:

  • Vikings may have used a magnetized needle (which was a needle floating freely in a bowl). This wasn’t a compass, though – the floating needle only indicated direction. With a floating needle sailors of the time (before the 13th century) still had to follow the coast and try to stay in port during the winter to avoid cloudy skies. So, Rorik (the Barbarian Hotness in Odin’s End) attacks Adele’s ship at dusk, and in the winter.  Hmmmm – think he might need or want something REALLY badly?
  • Longships – what Rorik and his band of not-so-merry men are sailing – were 15 “rooms” or more long. Above 30 rooms, then the ship was called a dragonship. Let’s clarify, though – a “room” wasn’t a room like you’re thinking. It was the space between the ribs of the ship where the oarsmen would sit. A longship could carry about 8 warriors per room. So, a longship would have 15 spaces on each side (so, maybe 120 warriors??), whereas a dragonship would have 30. Truly wicked cool, but
  • Only 16 dragonships were reported in Norway between 995 and 1263. Dragonships were expensive and not very seaworthy. Used by kings primarily to show off their wealth.
  • Function of the ship? To use the sail to get warriors to the scene of the action, use the oars and careful steering to get into position near their target, and then kick ass. Let me know if further explanation is needed here.

Now – there’s a LOT more that I had to research to help out Rorik. Because, and clearly you weren’t paying attention, he really doesn’t have a whole lot of warriors left by the time he attacks Adele’s ship. We don’t know it yet, but Rorik is a Viking guy with some problems.

So anyway – more on our medieval boats over the next several days. I had no idea when I started this scene that it would be SO MUCH WORK (otherwise, I would have put them in a Starbuck’s). But still, Rorik’s world is incredibly interesting, even if his ships don’t have the little niceties of Celebrity Cruises – like 24-hour room service and unending supplies of drinks with paper umbrellas.

The Way Viking Marriage Oughta Be, or, When Fantasy Doesn't Mesh With Reality

The Way Viking Marriage Oughta Be, or, When Fantasy Doesn't Mesh With Reality But We Love It Anyway!

In the course of researching Odin’s End, I’ve had to review countless texts on Viking (read “pagan”) marriage.

Now, lots of romance novelists have dealt with this, in scenes of heaving bosoms and manly “battle” equipment. And I just LUV them all.

But, in Odin’s End, I can’t deal with Rorik and Adele this way – their circumstances require a heavier dose of reality. So while these reads are a tremendous source of entertainment for me (not to mention my healthy dose of Barbarian Hotness), I had to look elsewhere to help out Rorik and Adele – especially since each of them comes with a unique set of personal challenges. And since (not to give away the ending) they don’t end up exactly married….

So, the real skinny on Viking marriages? Here’s the low-down:


  • Marriage wasn’t necessarily monogamous (though I fail to see how this differs from the 21st century), and kings and other powerful men were allowed multiple wives (and this differs from the Playboy Mansion or Stringfellows how?)
  • The primary function of pagan marriage was to ensure the orderly passage of property from one generation to the next. (Barbarian Hotness notwithstanding, it seems.)
  • In the north, and especially in Iceland, property belonged to the individual only for the duration of his or her lifetime. After this, it reverted back to the clan. (Kind of like a leasehold?)
  • Marriage was prohibited for poor people, since their offspring would be a burden on the community. (Whew! I’m not touching this one!)
  • If a young girl with physical flaws became engaged, no decision was made until she turned 16, giving her a chance to outgrow the impediments (Today, women with “flaws” can use makeup; men with flaws can use Corvettes.)
  • There was no minimum age for either bride or groom (Kind of like the whack-jobs in the religious compounds of sleepy Texas towns.) and finally,
  • Permission was given to castrate beggars. People undertaking this task were not punished, even if they seriously wounded or even killed the victim in the process. (Now how would they handle this in all the courtroom reality shows???)

So yep, Rorik and Adele have some problems. He’s betrothed (though she doesn’t know it) and she’s assumed to have the gift of prophecy (though, in a mild misunderstanding, the Christians label her a witch and trick her to a pyre in front of Nidaros Cathedral).

But they’ve got the marriage thing sorted, at least – and on some days, I prefer the romance fantasy and versions containing Barbarian Hotness!


OK, peeps –

Rogann Ragnarsonn (Deputy Battle Trainer of the Dahrg de Belne)

Rogann Ragnarsonn (Deputy Battle Trainer of the Dahrg de Belne)

For those of you who’ve been hiding for the past week, I’ve finally gone over to the Dark Side and joined Facebook. And I had no idea how many Vikings were marauding and pillaging their way through cyberspace (figuratively speaking, of course!)

Anyhoos – I ran into this nice, nice fellow. Paul James McDaid – that’s Rogann Ragnarsonn to you – is in the Birmingham Vikings (yep, UK) and also starting up his own combat group called the Jotun Warband (a badass Viking reenactment society.)

Paul sent me The Death Saga of Rogann, a poem he wrote in the tradition of the sagas.  And I have to say it – I’m impressed.

I asked Paul if he minded me publishing a brief excerpt here. I don’t want to reprint the whole thing, because that’s what his Facebook page is for. So go visit it, or I’ll send Paul after you in full battle attire. Paul also has a book called Tiivestelma. Got to catch up with Paul and get the link for it, so stay tuned.

So here’s an excerpt from Paul James McDaid’s The Death Saga of Rogann, used with permission from the (talented) author:Paul2

Wounded by the spite of Enemies.
Ruined upon Erda’s fields,
There did I see his blood,
Flowing like Fimbulthul,
Out of mighty Hvergelmir
From which many mighty rivers flow
In the heart of Nifelheim,
Strengthened by the sparking water
That drips from Eikthyrnir’s antlers.
His eyes did gaze up into the House of Winds,
Laden with clouds, and bright,
He watched Skoll chase Sun’s chariot
To make way for Mani, bearing the moon,
Fleeing from Hati’s wrath.
There, as his Odin-gifted soul
Did seek to leave him,
He spotted a Shining Light,
Out of Ymir’s Skull it seemed to come,
Blinding and pure in his mortal eyes.
In gleaming dress of steel
Upon barded horse,
Came Freya’s servant,
Valkyrie of Sessrumnir,
That lovely hall adorned with
many seats….

Awesome stuff, Paul (Rogann). Thanks for sharing with us, and I’ll put up the link to your book soonest.

WMY (and Paul knows what this means!)

Yes, peeps, I still have some photos from the HNS conference!

Norm Reed and Winnifred Halsey, Stylin' and Profilin'

Norm Reed and Winnifred Halsey, Stylin' and Profilin'

Today’s pics are not of Barbarian Hotness – they’re still pics from the HNS Conference. With special love today for Norm Reed and Winnifred Halsey, who were stylin’ and profilin’!

 OK – temptation being too great to resist, I’ve also posted a pic of Barbarian Hotness below, since I have an appreciative audience.

Massive applause to our HNS Conference peeps Norm and Winnifred as well as the guest appearance of Richard Bremmer as Barbarian Hotness. Luv you all!

Barbarian Hotness Making Guest Appearance

Barbarian Hotness Making Guest Appearance

Norm Reed Going Solo

Norm Reed Going Solo

July 2018
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The World of Odin's End