A few weeks ago I went to Chicago, where the husband and I are in year two of a four-year commitment to watch Wagner’s The Ring Cycle opera series with some friends there. The Lyric Opera is releasing one of the operas in this series each year, which is pretty cool.

By the way, this was my husband’s idea. All opera is always his idea. He is much more cultured than me. Although opera is growing on me the more I am exposed to it and the more I learn about it—like most things, it depends a lot on the specific opera.

And I really enjoy The Ring Cycle series. It’s very hard-core fantasy, so other than all the singing, it’s right up my alley. In fact, many speculate that The Lord of the Rings series was based on Wagner’s work, though Tolkien adamantly denied it, and there are a number of similarities between the two stories.

Anyway. This year’s featured opera in the series was Die Walküre or, translated, The Valkyrie. It was cool.

Later that weekend with the same friends we went to see Thor: Ragnarok. As it happened, it also featured a Valkyrie character, played by the always awesome Tessa Thompson.

This is not a totally crazy coincidence. Both stories are inspired by Norse mythology, which has been fairly hot recently, in no small part to the TV launch of Neil Gman’s American Gods, and his more recent release Norse Mythology, which featured his own adaptations of several Norse myths.

Also, my husband’s family comes from Norway, so we always take special interest in Norse culture.

All of this is a long-winded way to say that Valkyrie have been on my mind lately, and I’m finding them quite captivating. And if something is on my mind, I’m researching it. (I might have to write about them for a novel sometime.)

So here are some cool things about Valkyrie.

The Valkyrie originate from Norse mythology, of course.

The name comes from two words: the noun valr (referring to the slain on the battlefield) and the verb kjósa (meaning "to choose"). So together, they mean "chooser of the slain."

As such, they decide which half from among the dead on a battlefield are brought to Odin’s Valhalla, the god’s hall for the slain. The other half go to Frejya’s afterlife field Fólkvangr

In Valhalla the warriors become einherjar, who prepare for Ragnarok. And then when they rest the Valkyrie bring them mead. It’s an okay deal, as far as afterlives go.

When not on the battlefield, Valkyrie are sometimes lovers of heroes or other mortals and are described as daughters of royalty.

They’re also known as oski, or wish fulfillers, and as helping spirits of the god Odin. In Wagner’s Ring Cycle, the Valkyrie are Odin’s daughters.

The Valkyire are often accompanied by ravens, horses or swans. In both Thor:Ragnarok and the Ring Cycle, they ride pegasuses. (Pegasi? Pegasus? I give up.)

The Valkyrie also fight at Ragnarok as protectors of Asgard.

But Valkyrie have a dark side, too. They don’t just choose from among the dead—the Valkyrie also decide with warriors die in battle. So, you know, don’t get on their bad side.

One portrayal (in the poem Darraðarljóð) goes so far as to depict the Valkyrie weaving the fates of warriors before a battle, using intestines for thread, severed heads for weights, and bows and arrows for beaters.

Valkyrie and similar beings can be found in other Anglo-Saxon mythologies, too, including German and English, and Celtic.

P.S. – Don’t sit around and wait for me to write something about Valkyrie, there are already a lot of great books about them out there! Here’s a list I wrote for BookRiot about that.

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Back from the dead ... mad as hell.

Download and share this graphic with the tag #tideslaunch to enter to win an awesome book collection and more, now through Nov. 10.

 

I can't wait to read TIDES! Get the next release in this award-winning #sff series now: http://ejwenstrom.com/books/ #tideslaunch

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This Saturday, I will be signing books and giving away swag at Baltimore Book Festival!

The Baltimore Book Festival features hundreds of appearances by local, celebrity and nationally known authors, book signings, more than 100 exhibitors and booksellers, nonstop readings on multiple stages, cooking demos by top chefs, poetry readings, workshops, panel discussions, storytellers and hands-on projects for kids, live music, and a thoughtfully curated  food, craft beer, and wine program.

If you're in the area, come out and say hello! I'll have something awesome to give you, and there will be tons of other authors there for you to discover, too.

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I cosplayed! 10 points if you tell me who I am in the comments.

So I went to San Diego Comic Con, and I lived to tell the tale.

What did I bring back with me? A ton of pictures, a few fantastic stories, exciting new professional connections, new books, and a random collection of blurbs to share about what it was like.

SDCC is every bit as massive and overwhelming as the media buzz led me to expect. Madness! On every corner! It was every bit as amazing as I expected, and I hope to go back again sometime.

I hope to go back again in a few years. But for now, here are a few of my biggest highlights from my SDCC 2017 experience:

1. Talking to the other Con-goers

You may have picked up by now that I'm no extrovert. As a rule, I prefer as few peopel as possible. And to talk to those people as little as possible. I'm not shy. I just prefer to be in my own head.

But San Diego Comic Con, much like a writers conference, was one of those special places where odds are, almost anyone you bump itno is my type of people. 

More than once random small talk with someone next to me in line turned into an incredible conversation about the creative industry and craft, and I got to connect with a few awesome people family and friends have wanted me to meet for years. I also quizzed a few author vendors about the value of the con and buying booth space, and they were extremely willing and helpful.

2. That time I crashed an invite-only industry party.

Look. It was an accident. I was told to meet a person at a party, and it happened to be that this was an invite-only industry party. So I was invited, I just, you know, on the list.

Also I was told said party was on the ninth floor. So when I came in and saw the big flashy invite-only, check-in-at-the-door all-dressed-up party table for the third floor, I walked right past it, stepped onto the elevator and pressed 9, thank you very much.

Only when it became clear that there was definitely NO PARTY on the ninth floor did I then go to the third. And what can I say, the back door security was lax. The hubs and I looked at each other, made a silent pact to look like we belonged. Then we walked right past the security guard with a smile and ordered our complimentary movie-themed cocktail.

And not a single person asked us where our wrist bands were all night.

Movie models in the Exhibition Room

3. The Exhibition Hall: Just being in it. 

The spectacle that is the San Diego Comic Con Exhibition Hall cannot be overstated. I could have gotten lost in there, between the life-size statues of DC and Marvel superheroes and tables upon tables of books, for days. Case in point, I did in fact, actually, get lost at one point, and suddenly discovered I was going in the exact opposite direction than I thought. 

Watch your wallet in there--it has a tendency to lighten itself as you acquire one amazing discovery after another.

Rumor has it there was also an It school bus ride in there somewhere, too, but I never found it.

4. My creative heroes, within arm's reach.

Robert Kirkman. Karen Berger. Dave Gibbons. Gail Simone. These and many other of my creative heroes (authors, editors, illustrators, special effects masters) were all there. And I was utterly starstruck.

A side effect of geeking out over these geniuses was that most other Con-goers would give me blank stares. (To be fair, I did opt out of the Viking funeral, where a real viking ship was light on fire in the harbour, to go to a panel about Ray Bradbury.)

Fringe oddball, or out-geeking the geeks? I'm going with the latter...it's all about spin, right?

5. The Gaslamp District. That is all. 

After walking down the main strip of the Gaslamp District a couple times, I am forever convinced you could simply walk up and down this strip, straight across from the Convention Center, for the entire Con, and feel you got the full experience.

It was like Time Square, except without the creepy Elmo knockoffs. Just the most incredible cosplay you'll ever see, including a group of street-partying Storm Troopers and a Jesus heckling religious protesters with a sign that said, "Don't listen to these pricks."

Black Spider in the Gaslamp District and a child running away when he looked at him)

This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of my thoughts coming out of my first San Diego Comic Con! Another post or two (or maybe even three if I get ambitious) are still to come as I continue to distill the experience into complete thoughts.

Got questions about San Diego Comic Con? Throw them in the comments below!

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So! If you get my newsletter or follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you may have heard. I went to Greece.

Greek mythology was the first mythology I learned, and I fell in love right away. The stories were just so strange, and the monsters were incredible. They blew open my imagination in new directions, and it plays a big role in how I write.

So a trip to Greece was high on my travel wish list. (And hey, who doesn't love a good beach?)

The trip was incredible! To share it with you, I'm posting pictures of my favorite moments all week.

Let's start with some classics--top ruins from Athens.

Temple of Zeus

Or at least, what's left of the Temple of Zeus. So many of the buildings from ancient times are still in incredible shape, it can start to feel like it's nothing special. I loved the Temple of Zeus because its partially-standing columns are a beautiful reminder of what an incredible thing it is that anything is left standing at all, thousands of years later.

The Carytids

Slipped right in with the rest of the majesty (and hoards of tourists) in the Acropolis, these four lady sculptures-turned-columns blew me away. There's ionic, doric, and corinthian ... and then there's this. Who are these ladies? My mind craves a story to go with them.

Socrates's Jail

This is where the actual Socrates was brought and jailed before his execution. A little morbid, I guess, but standing on that same ground had power about it. The philosopher has become just a big, vague concept to me. Standing at a place he was known to have been, too, made him incredibly real.

Hope you enjoyed these glimpses into my trip. More to come!

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