I have been keeping this secret for MONTHS, but seeing some others spill the beans, I couldn’t contain my excitement any longer!
A few months ago, I was approached by the excellent co-editting team of Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad and Joshua Gillingham (a good friend of mine, and the author of The Gatewatch.) These two legends offered me the incredible privilege to contribute a rip-roaring, Tenth-Century Viking tale for the Althingi Anthology, set to release in Spring 2021.
The Althingi was an annual gathering in medieval Iceland, whereby the Viking landowners and nobles used their influence to settle disputes, create laws, and hand out judgments.
The Anthology will tie in with the Althingi board game, a “quick set-up, fast-play game of strength and influence for 2-4 players based in Viking-Age Iceland. Each player takes on the role of a powerful Chieftain and tries to take control of the annual gathering known as the Althingi through bribery, coercion, and intimidation.”
The publisher is the venerable Outland Entertainment, known for many SFF genre projects with some incredible creators.
This particular project is truly epic in scope and concept. Currently there is aKickstarter campaign for the game, with some amazing stretch goal upgrades available, so please check it out and share with your friends!
I’m so grateful to be counted among a host of talented and exceptional contributers for Althingi. I can’t wait to read their stories!
More details as the release gets closer, but for now, I am excited to share this news with you, and so pleased to be a part of such a wonderful and history-focused project.
After six months of hard work and research, the audio adaptation of my Norse-inspired folktale The Seeing Trees has landed!
“In the forests of Scandinavia a family is besieged by a malicious raven which watches and follows them everywhere they go. How will they escape from this curse and at what cost? The Seeing Trees is a dark nordic mystery with elements of violence, peril, horror, language and elements that some listeners may find disturbing.”
Fascinated by Viking mythology and history, I wanted to bring a darker angle to this story. Here is a short interviewI did with the podcast, covering the influences and inspiration. You can also hear a fantastic monologue by Charis McRoberts (Follow herhere!) My interview starts at 10:30 min.
From the Press Release:
“The Alternative Stories And Fake Realities Podcast has produced an audio drama based on a dark, psychological short story by American writer Kaitlin Felix, “The Seeing Trees”. Working with a team of actors all recording their lines separately from their homes, we’ve pieced together a production that is compelling and immersive and made entirely under lockdown.”
Watch the trailer here:
We had a range of brilliant actors for our cast. Here are a few, and a full list with links to their social media profiles:
The Old Norse incantation is performed by Charlie Richards, Tiffany Clare, myself and Chris Gregory, who is the excellent director and podcast runner. He also created the original music and soundscapes.
Below, I have included the Old Norse text of the “Sigrdrifa prayer,” which is located in the Sigrdrífumál section of the Poetic Edda. The translation is by Dr. Jackson Crawford. We used the Reconstructed Medieval Pronunciation, taken from his youtube video here.
Heil dagr Heilar dags sýnir Heil nót ok nipt Oreiðum augum Lítið okkr þinig ok gefið sitjöndum sigr
Heilir æsir, heilar ásynjur, heil sjá in fjölnýta fold, mál ok mannvit gefið okkr mærum tveim ok læknishendr, meðan lifum
Hail the day! Hail the sons of day! Hail to night and her sister! Look on the two of us here with friendly eyes, and give us victory.
Hail the gods! Hail the goddesses! Hail the hospitable earth! Give the two of us eloquent speech, and wisdom- and healing hands, while we live.
Alternative Stories and Fake Realities Podcast is totally free to listen, and you can find them on any podcast provider. You can also follow on various social media platforms. Click the image below to find them. Happy Listening!
I am incredibly grateful to Chris Gregory and to the entire cast for making the Seeing Trees a truly remarkable experience! I’m blown away by this production, and all the hard work that went into it. I am looking forward to working with Alternative Stories and Fake Realities podcast again!
If you haven’t seen on my social pages yet, I recently had the pleasure of doing a Q&A with Joshua Gillingham. (Shout out to you, Joshua!) He’s fascinating, and a great source of mythological knowledge. A bit of a Renaissance man, really. In addition to writing, he’s a musician, game designer, and an educator. His website is chock-full of cool stuff, so head over to check it out. His debut novel, with one of the most KICKASS covers I’ve ever seen, is due to release this Fall. It’s titled The Gatewatch, available from Crowsnest books.
Draugr is finished! It’s been 9 months or so since I began, according to last year’s update. I typed The End about three weeks ago, and after a (very short) period of letting it lie, I am well into my first revision. If all goes well, the first round of editing should be done by the end of this month or next.
I have mentioned this before, but I have found K.M. Weilandto be an excellent resource towards understanding story structure, outlining, and plotting. I am a pantser by nature, but with Weiland’s help, I’ve become much more of a “plantser.” As a result, the revision process feels much less daunting than it did for Wergild. This novel is structured using the Three Act plan, and so my struggle has been to keep everything as tightly-wound as clockwork.
The biggest obstacles I’ve faced so far:
My opening chapter was weak, and too short. I just wasn’t satisfied with the introduction to Leif and his “Normal World.” So as much as I hated to dive back into the drafting process (I just want to be done!) I wrote two brand-new opening chapters. We’ll see how beta readers react, but I’m pretty confident they do the job they’re meant to.
Currently, I’m working on three new scenes at the end of Act One, which should launch my Act Two much more effectively. If I do this right, the scenes should fit together like puzzle pieces and make the transition into the main body of the story much more smooth.
Third piece of news:
Back in April, I performed a reading of my short story The Gate. Through that performance, I connected with and started attending the AWCZ Writer’s Group here in Zurich. They hold a meeting once a month, and I’ve really enjoyed each one.
With these activities, I have made some fabulous new friends. One is a truly gifted poet and illustrator, named TAK Erzinger. She’s been such a ray of light and inspiration! You can check out her new book of poetry here. Her website can be found here.
My other new friend is Lorraine Curran-Vu, a former teacher and current personal essayist. She’s also my new writing buddy! We try to meet once a week, which has been fantastic for productivity. This past Monday we met on Lake Zurich and wrote for an hour. Who wouldn’t want a view like this?
Fourth piece of news:
Two weeks ago, I met my writing buddy in Geneva for a wonderful workshop on revision, taught by Michele Bailat-Jones. She is a wonderful teacher and I learned so much from those two hours. It was especially relevant with all the revision work in front of me. I was also lucky enough to network with a bunch of professional writers, and I’m really excited to see where some of these connections go. Writing can be so isolating, so I’m excited to finally emerge from my darkened office.
That’s my update for July. As I get further along in my revisions, I’ll be sure to keep you updated! Follow me on Twitter for everyday flimflam and chicanery.
Here, I’ve compiled a list my current works-in-progress, and future plans. I will be updating this space every so often, so keep a look out if you’re interested. This information is current as of June 2020
Draugr – Contemporary Fantasy/Horror – Currently querying
The Seeing Trees – Short Folk Horror story – Adapted for Audio Drama. Released June 2020
Untitled – Historical Fiction/Norse Mythology retelling – In development
Summer in Zurich is stubborn this year, with its hornets and its sunburns. It’s a slow dying, like the way a party runs down when there’s no more food. But still, I hear the death-rattle. October is almost here.
The richness of Autumn always invigorates me, and this one is especially enlivening. I can finally share all the NEWS I’ve been saving up for months!
I’M GETTING PUBLISHED!!!!!!
That’s right, everyone. A life-long dream, finally coming true! It’s just a short story, but it’s my very first work to be featured in a real-life, actually-touchable, not-making-this-up PUBLICATION! My short story, titled The Gate, will feature in the Kyanite Press Winter Digest, 2018. This issue follows the theme of Fables and Fairy Tales. Click the image to see their other issues. The special double-length Halloween Issue is out Oct. 1!
And I HAVE to tell you – everyone at Kyanite has been purely awesome to work and communicate with. Each one is super encouraging and creative. The best part is that they’re all writers themselves, so they KNOW. They get what it means to trudge though a project and do battle with trying to get published.
Kyanite has three imprints for longer works: Glass (Digital format, speculative or niche fiction), Kiss (Romance), and Crypt (Horror). All three have releases up and coming in the next few weeks and months, and I can’t wait to get my hands on them.
AND!!!!!! Look at these cuties I got in the mail!!! Seriously, I love these guys.
So, with the biggest news out there, I can tell you a little bit more about how this never-ending summer unfolded for us. First of all, THIS:
My gremlin son started his first year of Kindergarten about 6 weeks ago, and my mama-heart about burst. From equal amounts panic and pride. I gotta tell ya, nothing I’ve encountered this year has been as intimidating as a school system I am totally unfamiliar with, in a language I barely have a grasp on most days. After a rocky first couple of weeks, my crazy kid is more or less THRIVING now, bar the occasional refusal to speak German with his classmates. We’re getting there, though. I also enrolled him in an after-school English program to give him a bit more mother-tongue practice.
At the end of August, I flew to Atlanta, GA (by myself! In an airplane! ALONE! Minus gremlin kid! Heaven.) for my sister’s wedding. The trip was fantastic, and short, and probably the most fun I’ve ever had at a wedding. I served as the maid-of-honor, and many sisterly antics happened. The comedic highlight is most assuredly the legendary Angry Eyebrows. This photo isn’t for the faint of heart, so look away if Southern-style Grouch Marx eyebrow scare you.
My sister and I laughed our asses off…only after we sped home 20 MINUTES BEFORE THE CEREMONY!!!! to wipe off all that mess and redo my face. (Seriously, sister, thank you for not making me walk like this. I owe you a life-long debt of gratitude.)
And now for the last bit of news, and probably the most uncomfortable for me. Here it goes. Deep breath. Inhale.
I’ve abandoned my novel.
Exhale. Yep, you’ve read that right. Wergild just isn’t happening right now. Some of you might notice that I’ve taken down the Excerpt I posted in July. Don’t worry, I haven’t given up or trashed my novel, but to keep a long story really short, I just had to face the fact that my book, the baby I’ve been working on for 7 years, just isn’t meant to be. At least in the form it is now.
The plot is solid, and most of my characters are too. But I’ve changed as a writer since I first began the story, and therefore the backbone of the book became problematic. With all the rewrites I’ve done, the editing, the restructuring, and the crying, the main idea I began with got lost in the mire of it all. I got burnt out, big time. You’ll recall I talked a little bit about that a few months ago. I am placing my novel on the back-burner, for good, or at least until I no longer hate the damn thing.
Instead, to cool some tempers that I know will get raised because of this news, may I submit to you something a bit more positive?
You all remember my poem from a few months back, this one? Well, it’s from my novella, titled Draugr.
This novella is set before the events of Wergild, and features my favorite immortal asshole Viking, Leif Halfdan. The story is complete and stand-alone, but I’ve always had this niggle to expand it into a novel. Leif has so much more of his story to tell, and this story is so damn FUN to write.
So, I’m expanding it. Draugr will be novel-length, which just excites me to no end. Once I decided to set Wergild down, the way forward on this one became so clear to me, and I dove right in. I’ve already got the new first chapter written and in review. The rest of it will only be a matter of time before its ready for beta reading. Watch for an excerpt coming in October!
Thanks for reading! Till next time,
Mother of Gremlins and Keeper of the Angry Eyebrows,
Llueve Mucho Donde Vivo, It Rains A Lot Where I Live, 2008 – Self-published joint project with Rebekah Dornberger and Jennifer Hester-Nita. Children’s book, compiled for victims of a severe flood in Panama.
Various articles, 2008-2011 – appearing on a now-defunct internationally-reaching humanitarian aid platform.
2007 Regional Fine Arts Festival – Short Story awarded a Superior with Invitation to the National level.
Happy Independence Day! We’re well and truly entrenched in July now, and I find myself in the middle of my fifth year of living in Switzerland. And even though it seems that America might be a dumpster fire behind a seedy downtown hotel that never changes it sheets, that hasn’t diminished the pride and gratitude I feel as an American. And it’s with the classic American spirit of hope depsite the odds, that I’m making rather exciting plans for the second half of this year.
June saw us visiting the UK for a quick weekend with family, and then on to the Red Sea in Egypt for a week. Spring held a lot of stress and frustration for us, with many late work nights and not a few emotional breakdowns. As I mentioned in a previous post, I deal with some anxiety issues, and the last three months have been rough. With a view like this, though, all that stress melted off lickety split!
While we were gone, I took a moment to examine my productivity and habits from the last few months. Being away gave me no further opportunity to distract myself with my own busy work; so all this self-reflection while poolside made me come to an unhappy conclusion:
I have not been juggling life very well, guys. Dumpster fires aren’t only reserved for post-capitalist countries.
I don’t know if its stress and anxiety, or the combination of those two with good old-fashioned distraction, but my writing productivity has suffered and halted. I’ve been unable to work on anything for a few months, and it shows.
As I wrote in my post back in March, I began a period of rest and self-care, in the hopes that my creativity would rejuvenate and come back all the stronger, but unfortunately that period turned out to be more stressful than I anticipated. I couldn’t even read, and that was almost a greater shame. Thankfully, while packing for my trip, I had the presence of mind to pack a few books I picked up from the W.H. Smith in Gatwick airport, and – holy cow, guys – I devoured them like they were warm, fragrant bread and I was a starving peasant. Seriously, you should read them. I’ve included their covers and links to where you can buy them.
Overall, I’ve been holding true to my own advice:
“My work would wait for me to be ready. And it was ok to not be ready for as long as it took.”
These words have helped to silence my recriminations. So, in that spirit, this week has seen me put a few wheels into motion. If there’s anything I’m terrible at, it is organization, and that deficiency is largely the reason why productivity in all spheres of my life is down. So the logical step forward for me was to buy a whiteboard, of course.
Maybe if I can see my schedule in front of my face everyday, I’ll actually be inspired to create a realistic routine and therefore reduce my stress! Win-win!
But in all seriousness, these next six months will hold a lot of change for me, and the goals I have are realistic and not difficult to achieve. My son will attend Kindergarten in the mornings, beginning in August. I hope to use those mornings to plot out the first draft of my second novel and to plan for more frequent posts here.
There are a few other exciting changes in the works, and I’ll be posting about them soon. Keep an eye out for an excerpt from Wergild, my first novel, to be posted next week!
May your fireworks be colourful and your barbecues hot. May your dumpster fires be extinguished and your whiteboards full of productivity. Happy Independence Day!
Though you may travel far and wide,
No haven of life is found inside.
Viking hoard be cold as stone,
Hot be heart and breath and bone.
Like a sickness, curse’s fear will spread,
Infecting all who enter with death and dread.
When strength shall dim and bravery fail,
Your heroes shake in ruined mail.
Deserters flee, their shields all shattered,
Swords broken, and vain courage scattered.
From the darkness, where can one man hide?
No safe place from folly or pride.
Hot be heart and breath and bone,
Viking hoard be cold as stone.
Poem taken from my WIP Draugr.
Set before the events of Wergild, this novella tells part of Leif Halfdan’s story before he meets Dana Oberson.
You know the quote that says “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.”
It’s a Robert Burns quote, and even though the Scots language can be difficult to piece through, the meaning is clear. We all plan, but sometimes those plans don’t work out. Right now, I feel like my plans got set on fire, stomped on, and then left in a pungent pile of steaming refuse.
In August, I shared a little bit about the process of writing my UF novel and how to push through when the inspiration isn’t there. It’s a lesson I seem to have forgotten. I just had to count on my fingers to see how many months it’s been since I finished my novel, and how many months since I’ve even opened the document. The result was 7. That seems like a while, doesn’t it?
Not all of these 7 months were fruitless. The most important task I needed to accomplish turned out to be both the easiest and most challenging. The easy part came first. In September, I cast my net for feedback from my beta readers, and received so many incredible responses. From that feedback, I was able to compile a list of editing tasks. But guys…as much as I was all gung-ho back in August, by October I was burnt out. Six years to work on the same project, bleeding the words onto the paper and then concluding that you have to bleed some more?
The feedback I received was fabulous, and constructive, but some of it was hard to swallow, if I’m being honest. We’re always our own worst critics, until we aren’t. When faced with some of my weak spots, I felt just a teensy bit defeated and uninspired. My creativity dried up. I began to doubt my ability, my choice of genre, and even my desire to be a writer. That self-doubt paralyzed me. Every time I opened my master document of my novel, I hated every word. I wanted to burn it, delete it entirely, and start again.
Thankfully, I had a few amazing friends (shout out to Taryn, especially!) remind me that it was ok not to write. I didn’t have to edit my novel right then. I didn’t have to write anything. I didn’t even have to open the document if I didn’t want to. It would still be there. My work would wait for me to be ready. And it was ok to not be ready for as long as it took.
My brain had a little trouble wrapping itself around this concept. I am such a perfectionist, and such a do-er (my sisters would call me an overachiever) that I forget to let myself and my work just be. I convince myself I am not doing enough, or I am not doing well enough. The merry-go-round in my brain just can’t let it rest. I’m either a terrible writer or I’m not giving my best. That kind of self-condemnation is destructive. And paralyzing.
And since I’m being rather transparent, that thinking pattern extends to my parenting, my housekeeping, and pretty much every sphere of my life. Perfectionism backs me into a corner and beats me over the head with my perceived failures, making me simultaneously hate my writing and myself.
It’s a daily battle to remind myself that I am enough, I am doing enough, and that it is ok to rest.
A lot of writing advice recommends letting a manuscript rest for a while before you pick it up to start editing. So in the spirit of making healthy choices for myself and my writing, I decided to just stop altogether. Self-care takes on many faces these days.
So, with the decision to put writing on the backburner, I turned my attention back toward more important issues within my family.
We spent the entire month of December in England, enjoying Christmas and the New Year with family. January saw us back home, under the weather with strep throat, and then February seemed eternal, with never-ending colds. March has dawned with an invigorated sense of optimism. We’ve begun choosing paint to redecorate our living room, and I’m buzzing with ideas.
We also just finished up a period of sub-zero temperatures here in Zurich. The sun is finally starting to peek out of the oppressive cloud-cover, and Spring feels just around the corner. With that shift in energy, I feel a shift within myself.
Just like the peeking sun, and the fragile snowdrops pushing their blooms through the ice, my creativity seems to feel the thaw. I’ve posted poems recently – here and here – in an effort to flex those lax muscles. I even won a small award for a poem, which you can read here.
It feels good to work, even if it’s not my big projects. Motivation and inspiration are still a wee bit sleepy, but I’m confident. With this new lesson of extending grace to myself, I hope to have made the first steps in editing by next month.
Until my next update,
Take care, and remember to have grace for yourselves.