“Seidman” has received two honorary mentions at the Rainbow Awards!

rainbowawards_hon_mention3

So yesterday the winners of the Rainbow Awards were announced.  The Rainbow Awards are given out by a panel of judges (quite a large panel, in fact) on the popular Elisa Rolle review site.  I don’t know how many years they’ve been going on for now, but they’re pretty big, with a huge list of books in the competition, so it’s really an honor to win.

Seidman didn’t win, but it did get an honorable mention in two categories:

BEST LGBT YOUNG ADULT / COMING OF AGE

and

BEST GAY DEBUT NOVEL/BOOK!

In honor of this, my publisher has discounted Seidman by 25% for the entire week at All Romance eBooks!

In other news, Dreams of Fire and Gods: Dreams has gone into galley proof, which means that it’s mostly done — we’re just checking over the formatted novel for typos and other errors.  It will be available on December 15th!

Coinciding with the release, I (James Erich, in case you’ve forgotten who I am) will be doing my first online chat!    It will be on the Harmony Ink Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/HarmonyInkPress

So come and say hello!  And win free stuff!  We’ll be giving away a free eBook copy of Dreams of Fire and Gods: Dreams, as well as some original sketches of the main characters, Sael and Koreh, by Beau Shemery!  I think it’s from 1pm EST to 6pm EST, but I’ll double check that and post the hours here again, when I’m more certain.  The first Harmony Ink chat was yesterday, featuring Beau Shemery (in his author guise, but with plenty of giveaways of his sketches), discussing his steampunk novel, The Seventh of London, and it went pretty well.

Lastly, I’ve submitted Seidman for consideration in the Lambda Literary Awards.  As they say, you can’t win, if you don’t enter.  The competition is steep, but the award is prestigious.  Even being a finalist would be amazing!

Great review for “Seidman”!

Jessica Chambers over at Rainbow Book Reviews has written a wonderful review for Seidman!

The thing that struck me as particularly good about this novel was how we get to see Kol and Thorbrand grow up, following their progress from carefree boys interested only in each other, to mature young men with their own responsibilities. Though the story does have a strong fantasy element, the developing relationship between the heroes is incredibly realistic, taking into account the attitudes towards homosexuality at the time, and is in fact one of the most poignant I’ve come across in a while.

Read the whole review here!

Skyr

Vanilla Skyr

Skyr is a popular yogurt-like substance made in Iceland that has been part of the Icelandic diet since it was settled around 870 C.E.  I’ve written about it in several stories, including Seiðman, but until this week I’d never actually tasted it.

I tried and failed to acquire some from a local market, which claimed to carry it (but lied), but finally my friend Claire picked some up in Maine and brought it over for me.  Now at last, I know what it actually tastes like!

I have to say, I was a little disappointed.  Not because it tasted bad.  It tasted fine.  But I was hoping for something unusual and what I got was something that tastes exactly like Greek yogurt to me.  If you can’t find skyr locally, go to the supermarket and pick up some plain Greek yogurt (which is easy to find, these days) and you’ll pretty much know what skyr tastes like.  It’s thicker and creamier than American yogurt.

On the plus side, my descriptions of it weren’t wrong.  We don’t know for certain whether it was exactly the same in the Viking Age as it is in Iceland today, but it probably wasn’t radically different.  They make it with skim milk today, and it would have been made with whole milk in the past, of course.  Icelanders often mixed it with porridge to make something called hræringur (“stirred”) or ate it with cream and sugar on it.  I gather that they still do, but now they add fruit to it, just like we do with our yogurt.

Also, it’s good to know that there is something in the Viking Age I would have been able to eat without wanting to hurl.  The Viking Age Icelandic diet consisted of delicious items such as whale meat fermented in whale urine, beef fermented in whey until it practically disintegrated, and lichen.  Mmm….

My first YA novel will be published soon!

I’ve just received a contract for my first YA novel!

Seiðman is the story of a boy in Viking Age Iceland who studies an ancient form of magic called seiðr, while struggling with his love for another young man with a very different destiny.  Here is the unofficial blurb I put in the cover letter, when I submitted it:

In Viking Age Iceland, where boys are expected to grow into strong farmers and skilled fighters, there is little place for a sickly 12-year-old boy like Kol.  That is, until he catches the eye of a seið-woman — a sorceress — and the old woman takes him on as an apprentice.  Kol’s journey to become a sorceror takes him from Iceland to Norway and eventually to Sweden, and along the way he discovers something else about himself that is different:  he has fallen in love with another boy, Thorbrand, the grandson of his mentor.

But the world is changing in ways that threaten those who practice the ancient arts.  A new religion is sweeping through the Norse lands and King Olaf Tryggvason is hunting down and executing sorcerors.  A decades-old feud forces Thorbrand to choose between Kol and his duty to his kinsman, and Kol finds himself cast adrift with only the cryptic messages of an ancient goddess to guide him to his destiny — and possibly to his death.

Seiðman depicts the vast upheaval in the northern lands at the end of the Viking era, as seen through the eyes of a boy who is not only struggling with homosexuality in a culture which places an extremely high value on manliness, but whose chosen trade throws him directly into the path of a king who will stop at nothing in his quest for power.

I spent three years writing Seiðman and researching the time period and culture.  I was also lucky enough to have people who lived in Iceland and Norway critique it for me, as well as a friend who is a medieval scholar and several others.  I won’t claim the historical information is perfect, but it’s as close to perfect as I could get, and it explores aspects of Viking Age culture that I’ve never seen covered in much detail in fiction.

The story itself intersects with events in Icelandic sagas, focusing on Olaf Tryggvason conquering Norway, and follows Kol’s adventures for five years, ending with him as a 17-year-old.

Seiðman will be released under the YA imprint, Harmony Ink, and although I haven’t yet been informed of a release date, I think it will be late this year, or at most early in 2013.  I’ll keep everyone updated on its progress.

But today I received the paperwork to fill out for the cover blurb!